No announcement yet.

DT-03 Cupid's Powerplay

This topic is closed.
Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    DT-03 Cupid's Powerplay

    With the holiday season freshly out of our heroes' minds, Lindsay, Rudolph and Colin join a theatrical play that will premier on Valentine's Day. Shaq meets a new friend. Joey begins undergoing his were-kangaroo development stages. And Rick is still dating Jade. Why? And Huckleberry hatches a plot to alleviate Warneeri's childraising woes.

    "Dunmore Tales"

    DT-03 Cupid's Powerplay
    By Darrel James VanWinkle

    Chapter 01

    The early January winter snows created a sparkly, mystical appearance over much of Kingdom University. Aiden Harris, Stuart Masterson and Gusto Cristian were out building snowfurries in the deep, freshly fallen snow. Gusto stifled a smirk as he tagged his friends and pointed out Rick Mooney and Jade dressed nicely, and heading across campus towards the movie theatre.

    Stuart smiled. "Rick must be a glutton for punishment. He doesn't have to date Jade anymore, yet he's still doing it. Why?"

    Aiden hummed. "I don't think Rick is doing it on purpose. I think Jade fell in love with him and he's afraid of hurting her feelings by dumping her. Plus, with muscles like Jade's, would you want to be the one to tell Jade that you didn't really like her?"

    Gusto and Stuart gulped. They hadn't thought of that.

    The scene slowly drifted to the left, leaving the snow angels to their games, and soon focused upon the newly rebuilt Ycehart Hall dormitory building. The old place stood taller now, having more floors, far more room and space. Lindsay Dunmore and Rudolph Ranger had pulled some strings among the King's Coast Construction Beavers, and Ycehart Hall was equipped with a new gymnasium, a new library, an indoor swimming pool, and a fully functional parking garage. A gift shop, restaurant, and upper floors, for graduate students, were also added, as a result of the strings that were pulled. Sharing bedrooms was no longer necessary, as everyone now had their own bedrooms within the shared dorms. After completion of the building, Rudolph and Gusto moved out of Alpha Tai Dashpaw and into Ycehart Hall's new graduate rooms. This didn't sit well with Mr. Sethnic, but his hands were tied, and Jade's fist was present in front of his muzzle, so he backed off to allow them to transfer between the buildings.

    Joey sat in his bed typing an email to his uncle, Reed Huxley, on his new laptop.

    "Dear Uncle Reed,

    Ah am 'aving a great time 'ere at Kingdom University. Lindsay and the others 'ave been very 'elpful in making my stay a pleasant one. My only problem is my in'erent werekangaroo dilemma.

    Ah thought Ah 'ad it all under control, until last night. There was a break in the clouds and the full moon peeked through just enough to cause me to start shifting toward my feral side. Lindsay and Dennis quickly got me out of the campus and into the wilds so Ah could 'unt. We almost didn't make it. And Ah almost turned on my friends. It scared me, uncle Reed.

    Ah really need some 'elp with this before Ah accidentally infect those Ah care about. Please. Tell me what Ah should do. Ah don't know if Ah can survive another close call like that one.

    Your studious nephew,

    Joseph 'uxley."

    Joey sighed as he clicked the send button. He was scared. Last night had been too close for comfort. Another few seconds and he would've turned on Lindsay and Dennis. Joey didn't want to be an out-of-control monster.

    Chapter 02

    Shaquil Pernardo quietly sat in the Ycehart restaurant having a hot meal. Most of the residents and employees in Ycehart were actually surprised over how quiet Shaq had been since his ordeal in the hospital. Shaq was simply staring into his food, eating small bites.

    Earlier that day, Shaq had attended his weekly scheduled psychiatric meeting with his shrink, a white-furred male lion doctor named Jyirdra Vannah. Psychiatric help all because he tried to kill himself last month.

    Damned safety catch... Who would have guessed that the smartest tabby cat on campus would be foiled by a safety catch? All of this was really that damned nurse's fault. She had played on Shaq's feelings and led him on, verbally stabbing him at the right moment when she was finished with him.

    Now, Shaq sat there, alone. No one loved him, as far as he was concerned. Everyone had just put on an act for his benefit. "It'll be a dark day in Ycehart before I'll ever meet anyone really special..."

    Suddenly, as if on cue, some icicles fell across the power lines outside of the campus, causing the whole campus to be plunged into darkness. Shaq blinked his eyes when this occurred so immediately after his statement. Then, he noticed a flashlight's beam approaching his table. When the carrier of the flashlight got close enough, Shaq got a good look at the guy.

    The male zebra was average sized, for a morphic zebra, but then Shaq noticed the rest of the guy's body. The guy was a zebrataur. The zebrataur was dressed in the garb of a knightly squire, though it was evident that these adornmental coverings were made for the winter climate. He was light grey with solid black stripes all over much of his body. His equitaur torso seemed slender, though perhaps not as much as Shaq might've thought. The hooves were a solid dark grey color, while his tail appeared to be long and ropey like that of a unicorn or a donkey. The zebrataur wore glasses over his pretty turquoise eyes, while much of his long mane was black.

    "Temporary power outage. You'll need this until the power comes back on."

    Shaq smiled as he admired the cute male zebrataur. "Um, thank you. I'm Shaq."

    The zebrataur smiled back. "My name is too long, but my friends call me Zu`larr."

    Shaq mentally glanced skywards. {Thank you, Okali. I owe you one.} Shaq offered Zu`larr a spot at his table. "Would you care to join me, Zu`larr? I was having lunch. I can share."

    Zu`larr smiled and settled to the floor beside Shaq's seat. "Thank you, Sir Shaq. I humbly accept your gracious offer."

    Shaq blinked his eyes again. {Sir Shaq? This kid must've been raised in a castle or something.}

    Zu`larr and Shaq chatted quietly through the rest of Shaq's lunch break.

    Chapter 03

    The temporary power outage did not deter the students who were attending Kingdom U's Satyri Theater, the off-campus building where the drama club members gathered to conduct their entertainment activities. Bullseye lanterns were lit and the roles of the play were resumed. All this was in practice for a big production coming in February.

    Lindsay was extremely glad he didn't have the lead role. His role was secondary in this play. Lindsay was to play the part of a human slave to a powerful lord whose daughter was in love with the lead actor, a male peasant with elitist ambitions. Lindsay was the only one on campus who could become human, so he was the perfect choice for the role.

    Rudolph was also glad that he too didn't have the lead role. Rudolph's role was of a captain of the guard who secretly supported an underground railroad for slaves seeking freedom.

    Colin Young shifted nervously. He still had no idea on how he got talked into performing the lead role in this play. He wasn't even in the drama club. But, they had needed a fox for the role, and Colin was unlucky enough to be available.

    Colin smiled as he glanced across the stage at the leading actress, a female vixen student named Marian Madani. Marian was very pretty, not slutty like most of the cheerleaders seemed to be, and she seemed to like Colin.

    Colin looked at his script and spoke his lines towards Marian, who was not in the scene just yet, but was to enter at the right moment. Marian soon entered the scene with her father, and a scene began between Colin and the father. Just as weapons are about to brandished, a rumble of thunder is heard; a sound effect produced by the drama club's entertainment sponsor, a female boar named Pallas Andrea Erasmus. Colin withdrew to the right, and Marian and her fellow actor exit to the left. The next scene involved Rudolph, Lindsay and Marian's father, played by a male fox named Theodore Fabian, though everyone called him Ted or Teddy. Those who called him Theo often ended up with a black eye.

    About two hours later, the practice ended and the students gathered for food and drinks, provided by Ms. Erasmus.

    Ted patted Colin's shoulder with a smile. "You play that role like you might've been that person in another life. You're 'good' at it."

    Colin smiled back at the praise. "Thank you, but I am no where near as great as the rest of you guys. Acting isn't really my chosen field. I'm studying medicine so I can be a athletics doctor."

    Ms. Erasmus said, "Be that as it may, Colin, we do appreciate your accepting our offer."

    Colin smiled to Ms. Erasmus. "Well, your offer included giving me extra college credits, and I need all the help I can get, to be honest." Colin smiled at Marian. "And... there seems to be other benefits for accepting this role, as well."

    Chapter 04

    Warneeri had her paws full.

    Huckleberry Slyfingers was glad that Warneeri had thrown him out of the nursery. Taking care of that litter of kits was not something he was wanting to do. Huckleberry was expecting only 'one' cubling, not 'thirteen'. He kept himself in the kitchen, wondering what he had done to Okali to warrant such punishment.

    Garla Canopyskimmer had left Kingdom U just after Christmas. The temple had summoned her and she dared not refuse. Rab Streambattle and Brand Irondam had also left, escorting Garla back to the main temple. Brand hated King's Coast. It was too civilized for his tastes.

    Huckleberry was sorely missing the old days. He thought that this was cruel and inhuman punishment. Just then, Warneeri's voice yelled, "Huck! Bring me a load of diapers!" Huckleberry sighed and entered the laundry room, where all the clean diapers were kept. He picked up the basket and headed toward the nursery. When he got there, he opened the door and slid the basket inside. Then, Huckleberry reclosed the door.

    Warneeri's voice said, "Thank you, love. Go to the store and buy some groceries. The shopping list is on the refrigerator."

    Huckleberry sighed and returned to the kitchen. "Reduced to a gopherish page. The humility... Oh well, I better get this done." He grabbed the shopping list and headed out the door.

    Huckleberry exited the house and entered the corner grocery store, soon afterwards. Standing inside, Huckleberry saw Smokey looking over his own shopping list. The ferret smiled.

    "Hello Smokey. Wanna buy some kids?"

    Smokey glanced toward Huckleberry and laughed. "No, but if Warneeri finds out you're pitching that offer, your hide will be made into diapers. I take it that parenthood is not what you both were expecting, is it?"

    Huckleberry sighed. "No, it isn't. We were expecting just one. Not thirteen. Now, Warneeri doesn't have any time for me. I feel like I've been exiled from the family." (...just like last time...)

    Smokey noticed the ponderous expression. "Why don't you both hire someone to come in and help? I mean, that many is too many for any couple. You really need the extra paws. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get this trout and honey back home. I have to restock my pantry and chop more wood." Smokey headed into the checkout line.

    Huckleberry hummed. "Hire some help..." He suddenly smiled as his eyes focused on something across the street from the grocery store. The post office. "That's the ticket! And Warneeri will thank me later and reward me! I just hope I can write a convincing enough letter to get him to come down here. Easter isn't for another three months, after all."


      Chapter 05

      Jade smiled to Rick, as they sat in the darkened movie theatre. "Thanks for doing this for me, Rick. I feel just terrible about getting us into this mess."

      Rick petted Jade's arm. "It's okay, Jade. In a way, this is better than sitting in a boring dormitory room. Though I do hope they get the power restored soon, I do want to see this movie."

      Jade sighed. "As strong and as rough as I am around you guys, I still crumple in front of my father. If I hadn't told him that you and I were going steady, we wouldn't be in this mess."

      Rick grinned at Jade. "It was an easy mistake. Besides, look how well we're getting along now. During the football season, we were all stressed out. Now, we're really enjoying the outings. We'll get through this."

      Jade smiled. "You'll get that new car, Rick. I swear it. I have to make this up to you for lying to my father. I really hope you can convince him that we really are going steady when he visits on February 14th."

      Rick irked. "When he visits... when? You didn't say he was coming up here. You only said that he gave all your boyfriends new vehicles. Now, I am sorta afraid of meeting this guy."

      Jade sighed again. "I tried to tell you several times, but like you said... we were both stressed."

      Rick nodded his head. "Well, at least you didn't tell him that we were living together... did you?"

      Jade went silent and barely nodded her head.

      Rick paled. "Oh Jade! How the hell are we going to pull that one off? You know that females aren't allowed in the male's dormitories and vice versa. You didn't just stick your foot in your mouth, you shoved your whole leg in..."

      Jade closed her eyes and sniffled a little.

      Rick sighed when he heard that. "...but we'll find some way to arrange this but only until after your dad leaves. Deal?"

      Jade opened her eyes and nodded her head. "Deal, Rick. And I'm sorry."

      Chapter 06

      Dennis poked his head into Joey's bedroom. "Heya, buddy boy. How's the were syndrome?"

      Joey looked over at Dennis from his bed. "Ah'm okay, mate. Just scared. 'ow was your outing?"

      Dennis smiled and began showing Joey his purchases. "I got us some silver chains, just in case you get too out of control."

      Joey couldn't help but to smirk. "Dennis... Were-kangaroo, like myself, aren't affected by silver materials. Do Ah look like a werewolf?"

      Dennis frowned. "If it isn't silver, then what does work?"

      Joey smiled. "Ya got to 'ave Aborigine made opal material items and Ah can tell ya that they're very expensive, mate."

      Dennis shivered. "Lovely. All this silver for nothing."

      Joey sighed. "Ah know ya meant well, Dennis. But the material 'as to be of a type from the were's 'ome country. And the only kind of silver we 'ad in Australia, is silver uranium and Ah know ya aren't going to go get some of that stuff. Elsewise, ya'd need anti radiation treatments."

      Dennis paled. "Oh. Sounds nasty."

      Joey nodnodded his muzzle. "It can be, Dennis. But back to my situation... Ah'm still scared that Ah'm going to 'urt one of you guys."

      Dennis smiled. "Maybe it was just a one time fluke, Joey. Anyway, there isn't much we can do about it without an expert to show up and help you."

      Joey nodded his muzzle again. "Ah sent my uncle Reed an email asking for 'elp. 'e is a were-kangaroo too, so maybe 'e can figure something out. Ah'd never forgive myself if Ah accidentally infected Lindsay."

      Dennis nodded his foxy white muzzle. "At least we'd know that it wasn't on purpose, Joey. You care about Lindsay too much to do something like that on purpose. Can I get you anything from the restaurant?"

      Just then, the power flickered back on. Joey said, "A 'ot meal does sound nice. Let's go see what they're serving."

      Chapter 07

      Lindsay and Rudolph arrived in the dorm rooms. Rudolph groped Dennis playfully, then grinned. Dennis yelped, then pounced Rudolph in the carpeted living room floor.

      Lindsay chuckled, then entered Joey's bedroom. Joey was looking at a picture album, as Lindsay sat on the bed right beside him and gave Joey a very gentle hug and kiss. "Did you miss me, mate?"

      Joey churred and glanced to Lindsay with a smile. "'ow come ye're in your 'uman form, Lindsay? Aren't ya afraid Ah might accidentally infect ya?"

      Lindsay hugged and petted Joey gently. "I just got back from play rehearsal. I have to play a human in the play. And as for spending time with my favorite were-kangaroo... as long as you still liked me, I wouldn't care what you did to me. You're my best friend, Joey."

      Joey blushed lightly and smiled, nosing Lindsay softly. "Thank ya, mate. Ah've been really scared that Ah might go feral again. Ah don't want to 'urt my friends. And Ah love ya too, Lindsay. Ya've always been there for me."

      Lindsay smiled and lay back in the bed, pulling Joey on top of himself. "I don't have anymore classes until Monday and I happen to remember that your next class is on Tuesday, so that gives us both a few days time off. What would you like to do, Joey?"

      Joey blinked his eyes as he was pulled on top of his best friend. "Well, cold weather doesn't agree with roos, mate. Maybe we can go see uncle Reed for a few days? Though, if ya're wanting to play..." Joey kissed Lindsay's mouth deeply for a short moment. "...Ah certainly 'ave no complaint with that."

      Lindsay grinned and kissed back in the short moment. "Good idea, Joey. I, myself, wouldn't mind seeing Reed again. Can we share a room while we're visiting Reed? Please?"

      Joey smiled. "Sure. Ah'm just glad you still want to be with me through all this were stuff. Ya're my bestest friend. Thank ya." Joey kissed Lindsay again.

      Lindsay and Joey kissed and hugged some more, before packing up a few of their belongings for the trip to see Reed. Lindsay also took the time to contact Ivorastej for their shimmering air transport to Reed Huxley's Herbal Cures shop in California.


        Chapter 08

        Rick and Colin had gotten together at the campus gym to lift some weights and work out. Rick seemed pretty happy, while Colin seemed to have a lot on his mind.

        Rick helped Colin place some weights on the bar. "What's on your mind, Colin, old buddy?"

        Colin tightened the weights on the bar, as he replied, "Just heavily distracted over that play I agreed to play lead role in. I don't know why I agreed to do that. I play opposite a very pretty vixen, and... well... she really turns my head, if you know what I mean..."

        Rick grins. "That's sweet. But I'm sure her interest in you isn't love. It's more likely an act to impress the others. They are actors, you know."

        Colin nodded his head and lay down on the bench. "At any rate, the script is over there in my bag. All the lines highlighted are the ones I have to say in the play. Wait till you read some of that stuff. It's pretty mushy." Colin began pressing the weights.

        Rick stepped over to Colin's bag and retrieved the playscript and began reading some of the lines with his rich wolven voice. "Just because you are rich does not give you the right to dictate your daughter's heart strings. I love her and will have her paw some day." Rick stopped, then chuckled. "You're right, Colin. This IS pretty mushy... though... it certainly gives me some ideas... Do you mind if I photocopy this script?"

        Colin glanced back at an upside down view of his friend. "Huh? Oh sure, go right ahead." He resumed working out. "Though it isn't your normal reading material..."

        Rick grinned. "This script is going to help me solve Jade's problem with her father."

        Colin placed the bar back into its holders. "Rick... I like you as a friend but be very careful messing around with Jade's family. Dating Jade was bad enough... but... I just don't want to see you go too far... We don't even know what her family is really like... I just don't want to see you, or Jade, get hurt."

        Rick smiled. "I'm sure Jade will thank me later. Besides, I'm getting a new car out of this deal. Jade has already admitted that she actually likes another guy but I already agreed to help her."

        Chapter 09

        The specialty shop was called The Entwined Knot. It's specialty was heavily suggestive presents for active partners who were more than the normal in love. Aiden and Duma stood just inside of the door of this shop, while Rodney parked the car. Both friends were pretty shocked by the contents. Toby had already fully crossed the room to check out some very suggestive restrainment devices.

        Aiden whispered, "Um... I can't believe... we're here... all I wanted was to get Colin a special present..."

        Duma whispered back to Aiden, "I'm still having trouble believing that Rodney knows a place like this." He gulped as he noticed the huge artificial phallus in Toby's paws, being examined with a sadistic tigerish grin. "I am starting to get scared, Aiden."

        Rodney entered the shop just then, and looked across the room at Toby. "We already have one of those, love."

        Toby grinned back. "We can never have enough of these." He winked.

        Rodney guided Aiden and Duma over to the main counter.

        An extremely well-built male mink smiled to the shoppers. "Welcome to the Entwined Knot. I am Knimi Cossahl. If you don't see it on my shelves, tell me. I'll specially order it just for you."

        Rodney smiled. "You know me. My friend here," he pointed a finger at the nervous coon, "needs a very special gift for a very special fox friend, who is not currently present. A very special gift."

        Knimi smiled, petting Aiden's headfur. "Let us see what we can suggest for an appropriate present, shall we?"

        Aiden blushed from the petting. "What do you have?"

        Knimi led Aiden through the shop, slowly. Aiden was still pretty shocked that a shop like this existed. But he was intrigued, and definitely wanted to get Colin something unforgettable.

        Duma stayed near the front of the shop. Near the door. He was afraid that Toby might want to test some of the objects in this shop, on HIM. Duma wanted fleeing space.

        Toby looked as if he was enjoying himself far too much. He was examining wristcuffs, anklecuffs, and tail to neck cuffs.

        Chapter 10

        Shaq's new friend, Zu`larr, led him into the outer hallways of Mynotalis Hall. Shaq knew from previous explorations that this was the dormitory building for the students of a more mythical nature. The ordinary dorms simply could not house these students, so Mynotalis Hall was built for their lodging. But it was not built like all the other dormitories... it was designed to look like a castle. And most of the students dressed in the medieval style, on purpose, to signify that they belonged here.

        Zu`larr led Shaq up to the lobby receptionist, who proved to be a leotaur lioness with pretty blue eyes, a golden tawny coloration all over her body, and wore a squire's tunic over her torso.

        The leotaur smiled when she saw Zu`larr. "Hello Squire Zu`larr. I pray that your outing was calming? And who may your companion be?"

        Zu`larr smiled back. "Ah, Lady Elizakat. It is always a pleasure to simply glimpse your radiant beauty. As you know, the lords dictated that we may bring guests to the Anachronism Club meetings. I have chosen to bring Sir Shaquil this time. He may seem rugged, but his inner spirit longs for companionship. Perhaps he may find it here. Will you allow him to sign the visitation permission scroll?"

        Elizakat took a good look at Shaq. Shaq could tell in the leotaur's eyes that she fully recognized him. Her nose wrinkled a bit in distaste.

        Shaq sighed and hung his head a bit. "...maybe this was a bad idea, Zu`larr...maybe I better just leave... I don't want to get you in trouble..."

        Zu`larr put his front hoof down pretty hard and pretty loud. CLOP! "Is there a problem, Lady Elizakat? Sir Shaq is my guest. An insult to him, is an insult to me." Zu`larr pulled his long sword. "Perhaps you would like to spar with me instead?"

        Elizakat pulled back slightly. She was about to say something, when suddenly, a very large anthro hippogriff came out into the hallway. He immediately came over to the main desk, standing between the two.

        The hippogriff said, "What is the matter with you two? Acting like children in front of the great alchemist Shaquil Pernardo! Remember your stations and leave your dislikes at the drawbridge."


          Chapter 11

          Shaq almost smiled. The hippogriff was one of the campus science teachers that he really liked. Even though Shaq often messed up in the class, or worse, broke things... the hippogriff just made him overly nervous... akin to butterflies in his stomach. In other words, Shaq had a crush on this teacher.

          Zu`larr nodded his head, and resheathed his sword. "Forgive me, Lord Candlewisp. I brought Sir Shaq as my guest to attend the Anachronism Club meeting. I only sought to gain Shaq visitation permission to our home." Zu`larr looked abashed.

          Elizakat likewise cringed from Candlewisp's presence. And rightly so: it was a faculty member. "Forgive me. Sir Shaq is known to me for having a... vulgar verbular demon's tongue... It may not be his fault but his reputation preceeds him." Elizakat looked to Shaq. "I'm sorry. Please... sign the form..."

          Shaq signed the form and smiled to the leotaur. "You had the right to speak up... my mouth IS foul..." Shaq sighed.

          Elizakat patted Shaq's hand. "You just need some help, if you'll accept it... again, I am sorry..."

          Candlewisp tilted his head to the left, then right, and grinned. "Now that wasn't so hard. Come... Zu`larr was the last arrival. The meeting is about to begin." Candlewisp stroked Shaq's chin. "Smile. All is not always as bad as you make it out to be." Candlewisp stepped over to the lobby's main entry doors and locked them. Then, he put up a sign that read: Anachronism Meeting In Session.

          Shaq blinked his eyes. "You locked the door."

          Candlewisp grinned at Shaq. "I did, didn't I?" Candlewisp then walked over to a trunk made to look like a treasure chest and opened it. Inside, there were hundreds of medieval style outfits... "Let's see..." He smiled as he pulled out a stylish wizard's suit. "Shaq, come here. You two, please turn your heads."

          Elizakat and Zu`larr turned their heads. They knew what was about to happen.

          Shaq stepped over within range, and Candlewisp suddenly grabbed Shaq, had Shaq's clothing off of his body, and into the stylish wizard's suit. Shaq was no match for Candlewisp's strength. Afterwards, Shaq started to admire his new look. "This isn't that bad. I actually feel different. Thanks, Lord Candlewisp." Shaq winked and followed everyone into the meeting hall.

          Chapter 12

          Lindsay and Joey soon arrived back at Reed Huxley's apothecary just north of Shelter Cove, California, which was north of San Francisco, and just south of Eureka. (Author's Note: there is a Shelter Cove there; check your road atlases.) Reed was in his were-kangaroo form, wearing only a Hawaiian flowery shirt, working on something at his main desk. Lindsay and Joey carefully hugged Reed in greeting, then headed to Joey's bedroom to drop off their gear.

          Lindsay re-entered the apothecary and began to massage Reed's shoulders. "'ow's it going, Uncle Reed?" Lindsay smirked a bit.

          Reed grinned up at Lindsay. "That sounded pretty good, mate. Joey is rubbing off on ya, is 'e?"

          Lindsay smiled. "I guess he is, though I miss you and the others too. Whatcha working on?"

          Reed made a funny grin and nodded towards the stables and pens. "Someone overdosed on Crocolate Suppositories, and now, 'e is a crocodile. I'm making 'is cure right now."

          Lindsay smiled and headed over to have a look at the crocodile.

          Sure enough, it was a pretty large crocodile. And he didn't look happy. "Any day now, Reed..." He looked up at Lindsay. "Oh, you're not Reed. A word of warning, buddy... always read the labels. Don't be fooled by the great taste."

          Lindsay couldn't help but to smile. "I'm Lindsay Dunmore. Who were you?"

          The crocodile sighed, "I'm Franklin Murdock. I came to California to find my missing adopted brother, but my car broke down near here, and I came into the shop to call for a tow-truck... and there were these nice looking chocolate bars. I bought one and ate it without reading the wrapper. The next thing I know, I'm in the bathroom, emptying my insides out and changing into this... shape..."

          Reed nodded his head as he hopped over to the pen. "This should restore yas, mate. Ah am sorry you 'ad to endure any embarrassment." Reed had Franklin open his muzzle, as he poured the cure down Franklin's crocodile throat.

          Lindsay blinked his eyes, as the crocodile began changing back into a human. Within minutes, Franklin was human again, although his clothing were destroyed. Reed directed Franklin to a guest room where Reed had put Franklin's suitcase from the broken down car. Reed then rejoined Lindsay, just as Joey emerged from his bedroom to rejoin Lindsay.

          Joey said, "Uncle Reed. Ah need your 'elp, like Ah said in me email message."

          Reed nodded his head again. "So yer were-genes finally kicked in, did they?"

          Joey nodded his head with a sad frown. "It scared me, Reed. Ah... almost turned on Lindsay and Dennis. And that wouldn't 'ave been any fun..."

          Chapter 13

          Reed hummed as he examined Joey's body and Joey's vital signs. While Reed was busy with Joey, Franklin emerged from his guest room and walked over to Lindsay, shaking his hand.

          Franklin smiled. "Reed certainly knows his stuff. Glad he was around or I might've been stuck as a crocodile for the rest of my life."

          Reed chuckled, "Jus' read the labels and ya'll be fine."

          Franklin looked to Lindsay and smiled. "You seem like a college student. Where are you attending at?"

          Lindsay um'ed. "It's an experimental private institution called Kingdom University. They educate, er... non-humans, though I was asked to attend there by the Dean."

          Franklin blinked his eyes. "Where is this place located?"

          Lindsay exclaimed, "You're not likely to ever see the place, so I guess it's safe to tell you. Kingdom U is located in Hollow Earth. Joey and I both attend there."

          Franklin hummed. "Hollow Earth is real? I always thought that everyone who spoke about it was crazy. But I've just experienced a transformation, so I guess I can just as easily believe in Hollow Earth as I can believe in the Easter Bunny."

          Lindsay chuckled. "He lives down there too."

          Franklin's eyes went wide! "He does? Wow! Someday... I'd love to see Hollow Earth... do you think they'd let me come see it?"

          Reed then spoke up. "Mate, the people down there are nervous around 'umans. They think 'umans are mainly evil. Lindsay is the first they've allowed to attend a place of learning with 'em."

          Franklin said, "Oh. So they'd likely NOT want me there, is that it?"

          Lindsay hummed. "We didn't say that, Franklin. What we said is that they have trouble trusting humans. My presence there is mainly to alleviate those fears, but eventually... if I get what you're suggesting... they might want to meet another human. Maybe even you. That is what you're hoping, isn't it?"

          Franklin nodded his head. "Who would I have to talk to about being there?"

          Lindsay hummed. "I'd say you'd have to talk to the dean, Omar Kinsbert. I have his phone number. Let's go call him while Reed is examining Joey."

          Franklin follows Lindsay into the main house. "I really appreciate this, Lindsay."


            Chapter 14

            Smokey smiled as he got the charcoal burning nicely, and laid the steaks on the grill. Just then, he heard the doorbell ring. Smokey headed over to the front door and opened it.

            Standing there, half bent over, was Toby and he was cuffed in almost every cuff you could think of. "Smokey... could you please help me get out of these things?"

            Smokey stifled a giggle, then exclaimed, "Should we use the wire cutters or brute strength? Either way, you're going to lose your toys. So which will it be?"

            Toby sighed, "You better use the wire cutters. The keys that came with these things don't fit the locks. And they're starting to hurt."

            Smokey nodded his head and helped Toby into the home. "I tried to warn you about those cheap imitation play toys..." He set Toby down on the couch and fetched the wire cutters.

            Toby sat there feeling a bit stupid for not testing the things first.

            Smokey double-checked his barbeque and steaks, then came over and started snipping off the cuffs. "Where is Rodney at? I am surprised he didn't offer to help you out of this."

            Toby flinched as the first set of cuffs came off. "Rodney got a call from a brother of his. Some sort of family emergency or something... he said... he left and I wanted to try these things out... Aiden was helping me but when the keys didn't work he freaked out and ran off. I don't blame him, though... I was growling pretty fiercely..."

            Smokey nodded his head as he cut off the neck to groin to tailbase cuffs. "I understand. Big guys like us think that we're pretty tough then have to have help to get out of stuff."

            Toby sighed some needed relief as the neck cuff came off. "Smokey? How come you don't have a boyfriend? You'd probably make someone really happy."

            Smokey smiled. "I thought about it. Really I did. But... the right one just hasn't popped up yet. Plus, being a bachelor isn't that bad. Gives me privacy to go nude, meditate, and paint whenever I like."

            Toby also smiled. "Yeah, I guess it is kinda nice to have a big quite place all to yourself with no warm body to hug."

            Chapter 15

            Aiden hadn't run away on purpose; Toby had been growling pretty loudly, and the growls themselves scared him. Now, Aiden just wanted to get back to the safety of his room. He was almost to his dorm building, when suddenly, he collided with a set of pretty handsome foxes. One fox, he didn't know. He was handsome and well-dressed. The other fox Aiden knew all too well.

            It was Colin.

            After the stars stopped spinning around his head, Colin asked, "Where's the fire, Aiden? Or are you trying out for the track team?" Colin helped the other fox to his feet.

            Aiden blushed deeply. "I'm... I'm sorry, Colin. I... I just got spooked by something. I wasn't watching where I was going."

            The other fox was Ted, Colin's drama friend. "You look like you might play a horned instrument. We could really use one at the theatre."

            Aiden blinked his eyes a little. Was this new fox coming on to him? "Um, I play a trumpet, a saxophone and a clarinet, though that was back in high school. I haven't practiced much since then."

            Colin grinned. "Ted, this is Aiden. He's a good friend of mine. Aiden, this is Teddy Fabian. He's an actor."

            Aiden smiled, blushing still. "Um... hi."

            Ted smiled and helped Aiden to his feet. "I was serious about the music. You look like you'd be a natural at it. Say, want to come over to my place with Colin and me? We're going to be rehearsing our play, and a third person is always welcome. Please?" Ted winked at Aiden.

            Aiden felt flustered. "Um... well... if I won't be in the way... sure..."

            The three began walking across the campus together. Ted had an arm each around his two friend's shoulders. Colin regarded it casually, as a friendly movement. Aiden was not so sure. He was getting a very weird feeling over having Ted be so friendly to him.

            Ted said, "My roommate promised to have dinner waiting on us when we got there. His cooking ideas are just awesome."

            Aiden smiled and relaxed a bit now, thinking, (Good. He has a boyfriend already... even though Ted IS nice...)

            Chapter 16

            Rick and Jade had prearranged with some friends of Rick's to let them house sit while the friends were visiting the Lutraon Kingdom. Jade was sitting in the living room quietly chatting on the telephone with her father. Rick was in the kitchen preparing dinner for them both.

            Rick hummed. "I hope Jade can get everything squared with her father. Living with Jade is making me nervous." He added some seasonings into the soup, and stirred it slowly.

            Rick could hear Jade stuttering on the phone. Rick hummed. "Man, I never thought I'd ever hear Jade sounding so timid. Her father must be a real Godzilla lizard or something. Jade actually sounds scared."

            Rick kept listening to Jade talk on the phone, as he stirred the soup. "Kind of ticks me off to think that her father runs her life. He better hope I never get to talk to him or I'll give him a piece of my mind."

            Rick added some boullean cubes and some meat sauce to the soup which was starting to become a stew as he continued to listen. "Poor Jade... no wonder she tries so hard to fit in here at the university. I never realized how bad she had it at home. I just have to do something..."

            Just then, Jade called out, "Rick, sweetie..."

            Rick irked when he heard the word, 'sweetie'. "Um, yes Jade?" he called back.

            Jade exclaimed, "My father wants to say something to you over the phone."

            Rick came into the living room. "Okay, would you please go into the kitchen and keep stirring the soup?" Rick took the phone receiver, as Jade departed for the kitchen.

            Once Jade was gone, Rick said, "Hello? This is Rick Mooney." The father's voice was coarse and raspy, almost like a godfather tone of voice. This only got Rick more and more upset, as the father began dictating how he wanted Rick to take care of Jade.

            Rick was barely given time to make yes and no statements. Finally, however, Rick finally lost his temper and growled into the receiver,

            "That's enough, Mr. Uhtlicue! Just because you are rich does not give you the right to dictate your daughter's heart strings! I love her and will have her paw someday! Jade and I will sally forth and live the life of rogues and by the zenith of the moon's fair kiss, you will not command my campus rose's delicate heart! Do I make myself clear?!"

            Jade peeked around the kitchen corner when she heard Rick say all that; Jade's expression was that of pure shock. Rick was trembling from his outburst and was blushing fiercely as he began to realize what he'd said to Jade's father. The voice from the phone was much calmer now, as it seemed to happily congratulate Rick for daring to speak up. Rick was too embarrassed to respond as he and Jade both heard her father say, "I look forward to the wedding."


              Chapter 17

              Sometime later, Becky was having dinner with Kama at one of the restaurants. "...and Rick somehow got mad and told Jade's father that they were going to get married. Now, they're both depressed, and not really sure what to do."

              Kama hummed, tapping a paw to her chin. "Seems to me that Rick is in a heck of a bind. Even though he doesn't really want to marry Jade, I can think of some possible solutions."

              Becky glanced over at Kama. "Oh? What are they?"

              Kama ventured onwards, "The lines Rick spoke to Jade's father were from that theatrical play that Lindsay, Rudolph and Colin are in. One idea is to get Rick into that play, either as an extra, or as the assistant manager to Ms. Erasmus. Being a part of the production would explain why he had to know those lines. That's only my first suggestion. I have two more."

              Becky nodded her head. "I'm listening."

              Kama nibbled on some bamboo stalks. "If Rick cannot join the play staff, then there is another stage that he can likely join that the managers would readily except him into. Although, I am not sure Rick would agree to do that one."

              Becky hummed. "What stage is that?"

              Kama grinned, cutely. "The Reverse Polarity. It's a male stripper's club. Well, they don't totally strip, but they've often come close. I go there to dream..."

              Becky blushed as she considered that place. "What is the other suggestion?"

              Kama grinned in a most unsettling way. "I believe Jade has another boyfriend. Bring him into the picture and let him and Rick have a mock fight or something and have Rick throw the fight letting the other guy win... while Jade's father watches... The only problem is that Jade's boyfriend is a real heavyweight boxer and Rick might get totally and seriously pummeled into a tiny little pulp."

              Becky yeeped. "Well, I can't let Rick get beat up..." She COULD, but she won't...

              Kama smiled and finished her dessert. "If we don't do something for Rick, you'll have a new sister-in-law. I am sure you don't want to live down hearing about Mrs. Jade Mooney, do you?"

              Becky shuddered. "Okay, you have a point. I've seen what Jade can do to guys who piss her off. It's not very pretty and usually requires medical aid afterwards."

              Becky and Kama used the restaurant's telephone to call Rick. Becky told Rick the suggestions, all three of them.

              Rick listened, then hummed. "It's worth a try. Thanks, Becky. I owe you and Kama a favor."

              Chapter 18

              Huckleberry waited at the docks for the passenger ship to dock and lower its anchor and gangplank. He had been surprised that his letter had been taken so seriously, and now, he awaited Warneeri's brother, Flash, and Flash's friend, the Easter Bunny known as Rowan Bunny.

              Huck smiled when he saw the two bunnies walk down the gangplank. Huck headed over and hugged them both. "Hey Flash! Glad to see you! Hiya Rowan! How was the trip from Trail Down?"

              Flash grinned. "It wasn't bad. Rowan was able to secure us with first class passage. I guess being the Easter Bunny has some nice benefits. How is my cranky sister doing?"

              Huck grinned back. "I didn't call her that! But she's doing pretty good, aside from the 13 kids she birthed. I was only expecting one."

              Rowan looked around and smiled. "It's not as cold down here as it is up in Trail Down. The little vacation will do me good. My employees promised me that they'd keep working on getting the eggs decorated."

              Huck grinned. "And remember: I promised you both a favor if you'd help me out. I know Warneeri will appreciate this. I almost never get too see her much, now that she is trying to raise the kids."

              Flash hrm'ed. "That just isn't right, Huck. You and Warneeri deserve a fancy candlelight dinner and some special time together. At any rate, Warneeri will probably bop you hard for asking me to come down here. She and I almost never get to see each other."

              Rowan grabbed his luggage, while Flash snagged his own. The two bunnies followed Huck across campus.

              Huck smiled. "Kingdom University. The first experimental furry university in the Realms to allow a human to attend classes with them. And the human is a friend of Warneeri and mine. Lindsay Dunmore. Warneeri has a crush on the poor boy. But even better, Lindsay is in an upcoming play that I bought tickets to see on their opening night. And now you know why I need you guys to baby sit for us. I want to take Warneeri to see this play."

              Rowan and Flash grinned at each other and winked, then laughed!

              Flash exclaimed, "So this human is stealing your woman's favors?"

              Huck laughed. "Warneeri only wishes!"

              Chapter 19

              Omar Kinsbert (the owl dean of Kingdom U) sat at his desk looking at the two humans and werekangaroo in front of him. He leaned back in his chair and brought his downy fingertips together in front of himself. "Lindsay... You know how a few of the faculty members feel about humans on campus. You are being tolerated because you can change your form, thanks to Warneeri. But this young man..." He refocused on Franklin. "Tell me something: why do you want to attend this university?"

              Franklin was still slightly disoriented from the shimmering air transport. He was realizing that there was no direct transportation route to Hollow Earth. Magic was required to get here. But the place did present itself as being very impressive to Franklin. He coughed a little, and shifted on his feet. Then he said, "Mr. Kinsbert. I have always tried to be open minded to all things, not always succeeding, but the effort was there. Now perhaps I may not be accepted here. But it is a place of learning, or, as you yourself stated, it is an experimental institute of learning. My family is heavily into law enforcement. Always has, always will be. But I cannot say that I have learned every method for law enforcement, nor every method for defending those laws. I want to attend Kingdom U as a Law Major, and further my education into what is right and what is wrong. I am to understand that furries do not trust humans. So what would be better if a human was educated in the furry's own laws and enforcement methods? I want to be that human. If you'll allow me to, that is..."

              Omar smiled as much as his owl beak would allow. "Franklin Murdock... I, too, was once human. Just as Lindsay is human. I will allow you to attend Kingdom U, on the condition that you have Warneeri grant you another form. Lindsay can demonstrate what I mean. I'd do it myself, but I chose to fully convert over. What you see is what you get."

              Franklin turned to look at Lindsay.

              Lindsay nodded his head, and stepped back. He initiated the transformation, and slowly shifted from human to his anthropomorphic furry buck stag form. Lindsay smiled, posed, turned a slow circle one time, then initiated his change back into his human form.

              Franklin was quite impressed. "So you CAN change back! I'm impressed! So the question is... what should I become? Or more better, what is needed?"

              Lindsay smiled. "We can figure that out after we talk to Dennis and Rudolph. They would know better as to what is needed on campus."


                Chapter 20

                Dennis and Rudolph chatted with Lindsay, Franklin and Joseph in Ycehart Hall's cafeteria. Franklin continued to be impressed with all of this. Dennis and Rudolph collaberated together with Franklin in private as they created the list of what was not on campus.

                In the meantime, Lindsay and Joseph had a meal at their table. They were eating quietly, until Shaq entered the cafeteria wearing his new clothes. Shaq immediately joined Lindsay and Joseph.

                "Forsooth, noble friends! I, Shaquil, hath presented mineself to grant your presence with the honor of mine company!" Shaq sat at their table.

                Lindsay and Joseph blinked their eyes.

                Lindsay asked, "Shaq? What has gotten into you? And what are you wearing? Have you fallen in love or something?"

                Shaq smiled. "I hath just returned from an Anachronist's Club meeting! I never knew what fun social clubs could be! I have been given the title of Alchemical Acolyte. Oh sure, it's at the bottom of the entitlement lists for my station, but there are chances for me to improve my status among my fellow anachronists! How have you guys been doing?"

                Joseph was probably the most surprised. "We're managing, with my were-genes, and all. But... Shaq... yer vocabulary and voice tone 'ave changed. And ya 'aven't uttered a single bad word."

                Shaq smiled and kissed Joseph on the mouth! "I know! Isn't it grand! I am getting speech therapy sessions with a very beautiful princess, Elizakat. Her fair visage hath made my very life come alive! And then there is my new squire buddy, Zu`larr. His strength and courage promotes me to seek a greater calling and have cause to live in this life that we are given. And lest I not forget his grace who turns my heart a'flutter, Lord Candlewisp. His encouragements and caring gaze hath given me reason to seek joy and friendship!"

                Lindsay frowned. (Shaq has totally flipped out. Dennis will not like this new Shaq. My heart goes out to Dennis when he hears Shaq talking like this...)

                Just then, Dennis, Rudolph and Franklin rejoined the others at the table. Dennis exclaimed, "I think Franklin has agreed with us on what his new form should be." Dennis eyed Shaq. "Hello miss. Have we met?"

                Chapter 21

                Rick felt silly as he sat in the control booth of the Reverse Polarity with the male disc jockey cockatoo, Yeo Orlando, and the male main manager husky, Frances Yukon. Rick had agreed to come in, and during the course of his interview, Rick confided in Frances and Yeo about his problem with Jade. Frances and Yeo were pretty understanding about the event.

                Rick was actually starting to get into Yeo's production booth job, as he chatted with the two guys. "I feel like such a dope for allowing Jade to get me into this mess." Rick flipped a switch, and carefully guided a tracked spotlight over the now empty stage.

                Yeo was sitting there watching Rick get used to the controls, as he sorted the evening's music selections. "Love you do her, jack-o?"

                Rick glanced to Yeo, "Hell no! I was just helping her out as a friend. She messed up and told her father that we were going steady. Then, she asked me to lie to her father and offered me a new car in exchange to pull off the lie. Then, she said we had to live together, and when she called home to her father, she sounded scared, then, she said that he wanted to talk to me. He wouldn't shut up. That's when I lost my temper and spouted off a mish mash of lines from that play that Colin and the others are rehearsing. Now, her father thinks that I plan on marrying Jade." Rick wiped a tear out of his eye.

                Frances awed and hugged Rick. "My friend, you've been suckered into what the police skunks might call a sting. But all is not lost. If you agree to help me run the production booth with Yeo once a week, I'll tell you how to get out of this messy and haunted wedding bell dilemma. Do we have a deal?"

                Rick looked up at the overly friendly husky. "I just have to be in the booth with Yeo once a week? With pay?"

                Frances smiled and nodded his head. "With pay."

                Rick hummed, carefully bringing the tracked spotlight back across the top of the stage toward the booth. "Lindsay and Rudolph say you guys pay a lot of money. And Ms. Erasmus said that joining the production staff this late in the month was near impossible. I'll do it! Now, please tell me how I can get out of this."

                Yeo activated a serious sounding song at that moment, then turned to the two and grinned. Yeo was evidently crazy.

                Frances patted Rick's shoulder and exclaimed, "This is what you do..."

                Chapter 22

                A few days had passed.

                Rick hadn't been seen on campus for awhile.

                Jade was starting to get worried. "He's run away. And it's all my fault." Jade walked into a small cafe and sat down at a private table. That's when she noticed someone dressed strangely sitting across from her.

                It was Shaq.

                Jade exclaimed, "You're having a bad week too, I assume?"

                Shaq nodded his head, wiping a tear from his eye. "Dennis called me a girl. He hates me. What's going on with you?"

                Jade sighed. "I got Rick into a terrible spot and he's run away, I guess. No one on campus has seen him in a few days. Am I a bad person, Shaq?"

                Shaq looked up at Jade. "You try too hard, Jade. You've been living a lie in regards to your father and you got Rick to aid you in this lie. Is that how friends treat each other?"

                Jade sniffled and finally broke down... "no... friends don't do each other like that... I just wanted to be treated like everyone else." Jade pressed her muzzle into her paws and cried.

                Shaq choked a little. "Please, Jade... don't cry... this isn't like you..."

                Just then, Duma and Becky arrive to join Shaq for lunch. Becky noticed Jade crying, then looked to Shaq and asked what was going on. Shaq calmly told Becky about it and Becky said, "Oh."

                Jade lifted her head and said, "When Rick comes back, I'm going to apologize to him. I'll hold up my end of the bargain and then confront my father and..."

                "...Tell the truth?" An elderly, coarse and raspy, almost godfather like voice finished the sentence for Jade. Everyone turned and saw Rick standing beside a hulking male gilamonster and directly in front of the two stood an elderly silvered green gecko with wrinkled scales. The gecko gentleman held a diamond-tipped cane in one paw. "When your friend Rick showed up a few days ago and told me the truth behind what was going on up here, I began to see the light."

                The gila cracked his knuckles. "Yeah, the light."

                Rick exclaimed, "I'm sorry, Jade. The farce had to end; I had to go to your father and tell him the truth. It was wrong to try to make him think you were getting married. And I told him everything you've been doing in the past few months. Including why I had been dating you in the first place. I won't blame you if you're mad at me, but this was for the best. I was at wit's end and I wanted to end the lie."


                  Chapter 23

                  The next morning, at the campus gym, Colin and Rick were playing some basketball. One on one. Rick seemed to be a much nicer mood and his game was way better than it had been in recent weeks.

                  Colin shoots the basketball into the hoop. "So, you and Jade are finished with each other finally?"

                  Rick rebounded the basketball to Colin. "I have to help Frances Yukon once a week, but it was worth it to finally be free and clear of Jade. Her father turned out to be a pretty nice guy. He was so impressed with my honesty, that he bought me a new car, anyway."

                  Colin blinked his eyes and shot another basket. "Seriously? Looks like you made good with the family. And no one got hurt."

                  Rick rebounded the basketball to Colin again. "I wouldn't say that. Jade had to face the music. And even though I am free of her, I can't help but to worry about her. Her father was talking like he was going to pull Jade out of college. That's not why I was honest with him."

                  Colin smiled and exchanged places with Rick. "If her father is all that nice, then surely he'll let Jade finish college."

                  Rick shot a few hoops, then said, "How's that play coming along?"

                  Colin shuddered. "Performance jitters. Opening night is coming up, and I am so sure that I am going to screw up."

                  Rick smiled. "Hasn't that other fox, Ted, been helping you?"

                  Colin smiled, thoughtfully... remembering that dinner with Aiden, Ted, and his raccoon roommate, Arledge Murray... "Yeah, Ted has been very very helpful. But acting really isn't me. I'm doing this for the extra credits."

                  Rick and Colin hit the showers, then got dressed. Then, Rick asked, "Wanna join Dennis and me over at the Taco Supreme for some lunch?"

                  Colin grinned. "I'd like to, but I have another rehearsal to attend to with Ted, Lindsay and Rudolph. But have a second helping to wish me luck." Colin winked.

                  Rick grinned back. "You're just disappointed that I didn't get married to Jade. But, what a stag party that would have been!"

                  Chapter 24

                  Jade, Kama and Becky were walking through the shopping mall. Jade was feeling down because of her ordeal with her father. Kama and Becky thought that a shopping trip would cheer her up. They were currently in a women's swimwear department.

                  Kama posed holding a two piece bikini over her clothing. "These things are not designed with the panda in mind." She giggled.

                  Jade couldn't help but to smirk a little. "Gee, they don't have any chainmail bikinis... I end up ripping a lot of clothing that are not made with muscles in mind."

                  Becky's eye was drawn to a sporting goods store across the corridor and she hummed. "Perhaps we aren't looking in the right department."

                  Kama glanced over there and blinked her eyes. She immediately saw what Becky had seen. "I'd say you're right, Becky."

                  Jade arched an eye. "What are you two looking at?" Jade turned her head to gaze over to where they were looking and her jaw dropped open, forked tongue lolling out.

                  Standing in the sporting goods store stood a grey, silver and black, winged draconian male who easily stood at Jade's height. He was dressed casually, and was mainly looking over a weight-lifter's assortment. Jack and Gusto were with this new guy, as escorts, it seemed. He turned just slightly, giving Jade a clear view of his muzzle features and lightning like racing striped neck highlights.

                  Jade blinked her eyes and tried to find her voice.

                  In the sporting goods store, out of the girl's earshot, Jack and Gusto had been showing Franklin around the campus sites and shopping mall stores.

                  They had just entered this store, when the weight lifting equipment caught Franklin's eye. He was kind of shocked over the price, however. "A bit expensive, isn't it? It'd be cheaper to just do hard manual labor."

                  Jack replied, "Yeah, the prices are a bit high but this isn't the surface world. Gold and silver is more abundant down here. So, prices seem to reflect that."

                  Gusto smiled. "If you need a good workout, though, we can always take you over to the campus gym and help you get into shape."

                  Chapter 25

                  It was midnight.

                  A cold breeze blew over the moonlit meadow.

                  He could feel the hackles in his neck expanding. His fangs became sharp, his paws became clawed... he began to feel the need to hunt. He glanced over his were-kangaroo shoulder at Lindsay who was patiently awaiting for him to get through this lunar experience. He felt an immediately need to feed on the human.

                  Lindsay exclaimed, "Joey... I am your friend. If you kill and eat me, you'll never have me again. And that friendship will be gone. You can get through this. I have faith in you."

                  Joey turned to the open field and woods again. In his mind, he knew that the human spoke true. Killing and eating him would be a one time event. Joey bounded off into darkness to hunt... the moon guided his hunting course.

                  Lindsay and Rudolph waited at the car for Joey to return.

                  Rudolph said, "So, his uncle said that in order for him to get through this were gene thing, he just needed to hunt and have the support of his friends?"

                  Lindsay smiled. "That's what Reed said. Joey must grow into this role that he is becoming. It is like our play. We learn our roles to perform for the others. Joey must learn this role."

                  Rudolph smiled. "...For whenth thy chains come free, a life beyond awaits thy heart."

                  Lindsay grinned. "Oh great guardian of my master... outer chains only bind mine body; but mine spirit flies free to bring thy king to thy queen... a small entrapment now, though greater freedom ahead."

                  Rudolph replied, "What sheltered hopes thy life hath held, poor servant. Thy deserve to be as free as your spirit in flesh."

                  Lindsay smiled and gently kissed Rudolph's muzzle. "For what doth hearts dare under thy pale light of Luna, for spirits soar as free as our paws 'pon open fur..."

                  Rudolph arched an eye. "That's not in the script... but... scripts rewritten 'neath Luna's gaze..." Rudolph pulled Lindsay down into the backseat of his sportscar...


                    Chapter 26

                    Elizakat petted Shaq's paw gently, as she pondered a chess move versus Candlewisp. "And say you that thy friend, the rogue Dennis Andrews, degraded thy stature publicly?"

                    Shaq sighed. "Aye. He deliberately called me 'Miss' and 'Little Girl' and 'Ma'am'. His words hurt me."

                    Candlewisp hummed. "Perhaps it is time you made a strategic move to show Dennis that you mean business, Shaquil."

                    Shaq looked across the board to Candlewisp. "What sort of move, m'lord?"

                    Candlewisp replied, "There has come an opening here in Mynotalis Hall and most of the Anachronism Club members agree that you should be given a chance to share that room with one of our other new immigrants." Candlewisp grinned as he watched Elizakat move a bishop and release the piece. "Someone else, who has been wanting to live with Dennis, Lindsay and Joey, will transfer into your old quarters when you move into Mynotalis Hall."

                    Shaq hummed, as Candlewisp captured the bishop with his wizard piece. "When wouldst I do this, m'lord?"

                    Candlewisp grinned at Shaquil. "During the upcoming spring break, of course. Dennis always goes back to his home town for spring break and you could spend the whole break making the move. Elizakat and Zu`larr can help you. You know that we are better for you than Dennis has been." Candlewisp grinned in a crafty way at Elizakat. "Check."

                    Elizakat hummed and moved a page piece.

                    Candlewisp then moved his knight, capturing the page. "...and Mate. You gave it a valiant effort, Elizakat. Advanced 3-Plane Chess is a very difficult game to master. And even I am not a master." Candlewisp turned to Shaq again. "What do you say, alchemist Pernardo?"

                    Shaq hummed, impressed with Candlewisp's chess skills. Elizakat was still petting his hand. He certainly felt more at ease around the students of Mynotalis Hall. And he was starting to fall for Elizakat and Zu`larr. And Candlewisp was always around.

                    Elizakat nuzzled Shaq's neck. "Whilst thy join us, Acolyte Shaquil?"

                    Shaq smiled. "Aye. I will make the move." (This will show Dennis that I mean business. He will not tease me again.)

                    Chapter 27

                    It was soon the night of the theatrical play.

                    Warneeri and Huckleberry were dressed up in their finest clothing. Warneeri was hesitant about leaving the kids with her brother and the Easter Bunny, but Huck had been pretty persistant. They were now entering the theatre and taking their seat in row three, seats 41 and 42. There was a full house of the campus in attendance. Most everyone liked seeing Lindsay on stage, even though they knew the play wasn't about him. Colin was backstage with Ted getting into their costumes. Rudolph was already suited up, as was Lindsay. Colin was nervous, even though Ms. Erasmus continued to reassure him, telling him to pretend that everyone in the audience was naked, that they were more nervous than he was. Ted patted Colin's back, giving his assurance, as well...

                    Then, the opening orchestra music began to play, and the curtain was drawn back. Act I of the play had began.

                    For Colin, his life was flashing before his eyes. The next thing he knew, Colin and the others were taking a bow, and the curtain was closing. The applause was deafening. Colin blinked his eyes, and looked to Ted, who shook his hand with a smile.

                    After the play ended, Ms. Erasmus treated everyone to an elegant meal at her place. "You all did very very well. The standing ovation was appreciated. Colin... you performed beautifully. You certainly have talent. I have contacted your teachers and have arranged for your extra credits. Thank you for assisting us."

                    Colin smiled. "Thank you, Ms. Erasmus. I was so afraid I'd mess up, but I actually had some fun. But acting is not in my blood. I was happy to help all of you. Though I really like sports medicine."

                    Ted smiled. "Colin, you really filled that role good. I look forward towards seeing more of you around campus." Ted raised his champagne glass. "To a friend in arms! More valiant hath a healer doth aid the thespian arts hath thy had! To Colin!"

                    Everyone cheered. "To Colin!" Then, they drank their champagne.

                    Later that night, Rudolph and Lindsay escorted Colin across campus towards his dorm room. Suddenly, a flashlight shined in their eyes.

                    It was campus security.

                    The storm draconian said, "Oh, its you. Guys, I know these people. I'll escort them across campus to their dorm buildings."

                    Chapter 28

                    The next morning, the campus gym was more full than usual.

                    Everyone seemed to be there.

                    Colin was very surprised by fellow students wanting his autograph or wanting to hear him recite lines from the play.

                    Lindsay, Joey and Rudolph sat over in the hot tub getting a good soaking, while Franklin and Rick worked out over at the barbells and exercising equipment.

                    Kuma, Becky and Jade soon entered, and Kama and Becky headed over to the juice bar.

                    Jade headed over to where Rick was. When she was close enough, Jade dropped a stack of money on Rick's chest. "My father bought you a car but I promised you a car as well. So, rather than having two cars, I am giving you the cash difference. I hope you'll forgive me, Rick." Jade turned away and started heading off towards the juice bar.

                    Franklin got up and caught Jade's arm. "You're Jade, aren't you? I finally get to meet you. I am Franklin Murdock."

                    Jade sadly turned back around then gasped, her eyes widening and her tongue lolling out again. Her voice was gone again. It was HIM. The studly draconian from the shopping mall. But he was now wearing a campus security uniform.

                    Franklin smiled. "This is second time I've gotten to see that lovely forked tongue of yours. It'll dry out, if you leave it exposed for too long." Franklin escorted her over to the juice bar.

                    Toby whispered into Rick's ear, "At least you're not Jade's focus now."

                    Rick grinned. "You said it, brother."

                    Aiden tagged Colin on the shoulder. "Sign my autograph book please?"

                    Colin turned to Aiden and smiled. "For you, anything, Aiden." Colin signed Aiden's book and kissed Aiden's cheek, whispering, "Want to go out for pizza with me, Dennis and Duma later? Four makes it more fun, you know..."

                    Aiden smiled. "That actually sounds fun. I'll be there."

                    Stay tuned for the next episode, DT-04 Broken Spring

                    Send all inquiries to Darrel at:

                    Permission to use the ClosetCoon characters of Aiden, Colin, Rick, Becky, Toby, Rodney and Duma were given by LeafDog prior to writing this story. The ClosetCoon characters are all copyright 2003 by LeafDog. All rights are reserved.