The Cerberus

All characters and situations are fictional. Any similarity to persons (or furs) living,
dead or otherwise or to events past, present, future or in potentia is coincidental and
All original material ©Paul Saunders 2001.

A Crew that was never born. A spacecraft that was never built. An Organization that does not exist. That’s the official line, but this is no secret government agency. As some of the finest operatives of the most organized criminal syndicate, the crew of the Cerberus always remain several steps ahead of the law agencies…


The huge, Seven-foot Zebra strode into the pub, straight up to the bar and ordered a quarter-litre of whiskey. The bartender poured out the unusually large measure of the potent liquid and placed the glass in front of the Zebra. The stripey horse grabbed the glass and drained it in one mouthful and called for another.

The bartender slowly poured the second glass. “Tough day?” he asked. The bartender was a small mole, about half the height of the new customer. He wore plain black trousers, a white shirt and a green waistcoat which glittered in the bright bar lights. Perched on the tip of his nose was a pair of spectacles which look too small to be of any real use.

The Zebra grabbed the glass the instant the mole stopped pouring and gulped it down again. “You don’t want to know. Got anything stronger?”

The bartender looked the Zebra up and down as he re-corked the whiskey bottle. “I’ve got some special vodka…” he said quietly.

“How strong?” demanded the Zebra.

“Thirty-Six point Four” replied the mole.

The Zebra let out a loud “Hah!” which caught the attention of those last few customers who hadn’t seen the Zebra’s previous behaviour. “Is that the strongest you’ve got?”

The mole raised a tiny black eyebrow. “You want the strongest I’ve got?”

“Sure do! Give me another quarter-litre of the strongest thing you’ve got.”

“I’m sorry, we only do single measures of it.”

“Fine, fine,” said the Zebra. “Just get me some!”

The mole hurried off into a room behind the bar and came back a moment later with a small bottle. The bottle was made of very thick glass which had once been clear but was now yellowed like old plastic. There was a small amount of pitting around the mouth of the bottle. The bartender placed a fresh shot glass on the bar, removed the glass stopper from the bottle and poured out a measure. A single drop splashed out and fizzed on the wooden bartop, eating through the varnish. The Zebra picked up the glass and held it up to the light, examining the syrup-thick liquid within, and then downed it, like the others, in a single mouthful.

The bartender, along with the rest of the pub, watched the Zebra, expectantly.

“Nice,” said the Zebra, no longer shouting. “I’ll have another.”

There was a gasp from several of the regular customers. The mole made no move towards the bottle. “Are you sure you’re OK?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” asked the Zebra.

“It’s just that most people end up flat on the floor after a shot of that,” the mole nodded at the empty glass.

Once again the Zebra scoffed. “Hah! That’s the thing I hate about this place. No-one’s got any Balls!”

The mole ignored the Zebra’s cupped hand which had been thrust in his face. “I think you’ve had enough!” he said, softly.

“I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough!” cried the Zebra, starting to get rowdy again.

A large, black hand came down on the Zebra’s broad shoulder. “If George says you’ve had enough, then you’ve had enough,” said a deep voice.

The Zebra turned round to face the Gorilla bouncer.

“But I want another of those!” said the Zebra in a suddenly whiny voice.

“No.” said the Gorilla, firmly.

“But, but…” said the Zebra, before suddenly breaking into tears and collapsing onto the Gorilla’s shoulder.

The Gorilla, unused to this sort of emotion, looked to the bartender for help. Just then the door to the pub opened and a harried looking fox poked his head through. When he saw the massive Zebra, he bounded in and offered to relieve the bouncer. The bouncer gladly gave up his burden to the young fox and returned to his place by the door.

“I’m sorry about this,” said the fox to the bartender. Even though the fox was nearly two feet shorter than the Zebra, he seemed to be supporting the massive weight with very little effort. “I hope this should cover things,” he said, throwing a few gold coins onto the bar.

The mole’s nose twitched rapidly and he grinned broadly. “That’ll do nicely, sir!”

The fox whispered something to the Zebra, who nodded miserably, and the two of them walked out of the bar.

“Did anything about those two seem unusual to you?” said a dog at one end of the bar to the cat next to him.

“Why should it?” she replied. “Doesn’t a super-strong Fox always come to save Zebras who aren’t affected by copious amounts of alcohol?”

The two of them quickly finished their coffees and followed the Fox and the Zebra out of the pub.

The cat and the dog, now both wearing long, dark coats despite the evening’s unseasonal clemency. They trailed the fox and the zebra through the streets, maintaining a discreet distance. As the dog predicted, the fox and zebra were heading towards the centre of the small conurbation. As the two pairs approached the main square, the dog and cat closed the distance between themselves and their prey so as not to lose them in the crowd of revellers who would be around at this time. As the fox and zebra turned the corner at the end of the street into the town’s central plaza, the cat and dog momentarily lost sight of them and when they themselves turned the corner there was no sight of the couple whom they were stalking.

“Looks like we’ve lost them Moldy,” said the cat, her ears drooping in disappointment.

“They can’t have just disappeared, Sulky,” said the taller male. He frantically scanned the phalanx of party-goers filling the broad street. Just as he was about to give up, a familiarly stripey head appeared above the crowd on the other side of the street. It looked around saw them and began moving away.

“There, Sulky!” cried the dog, who gave chase.

The cat sighed, pulled her coat tighter round her and followed her partner. It was hard work, pushing though the throng of inebriated bodies, but the two coated figures finally made it to the relative clear of the far pavement. They caught sight of a bushy red tail disappearing down a side street and followed it. For several minutes the four figures ran through the quietening streets, down towards the docks, the fox and the zebra doing their best to keep ahead of the cat and the dog, the cat and the dog doing their best to keep the fox and the zebra in sight.

As the fox and zebra ran though the main gates to the dock and onto the wide open area used for cargo storage, the cat stopped momentarily for breath.

“The Docks, Moldy? Where does this fit into your theory?” she panted.

“They must have a base here or they know someone on one of the ships,” replied the dog, stopping and turning back to his companion. “We’ve got to catch them now or we may never get the chance to study their kind again!”

Once again, the cat sighed and wearily ran onto the dockside. By this time the fox and the zebra were well ahead and, under the glare of the dock’s floodlights, could be seen heading towards a particularly large ship. When the cat and dog saw them bound up the gangplank and onto the ship, they both slowed to a walk and approached the ship cautiously. They each pulled a gun from their waist and approached the base of the gangplank. Nearby was an electronic terminal, normally used by the dock workers to check and control the cargo being put on or taken off the ship. The cat approached the terminal and entered and access code while the dog covered her.

“I don’t recognise the owner’s name,” said the cat. “But it looks as though this ship has been registered neutrally. With no nationality, how are we going to know if we have authority to board?” The cat turned back to the dog. “How important is it for you to capture these two?”

“You know how important it is, Sulky. This could be the culmination to my life’s work! Just imagine…”

The cat cut him off. “OK, OK. Let’s go. But you know we’ve got no recourse if we get caught.”

The dog nodded and began moving towards the gangplank. He sidled up onto the ship, scanning everywhere with his gun. Meanwhile, the cat waited at the bottom, scanning the dock for any attack from behind. The dog disappeared out of sight and after a moment or two the cat heard a voice whisper back to her: “OK, Sulky. Come on up.”

The cat walked backwards halfway up the gangplank, then turned and made a run for the top. As she jumped over the top of the steep ramp she was surprised to her partner sprawled on the floor. As she tried to stop in mid air she was even more surprised when she saw the fox and the zebra standing over the body grinning at her. The last thing she knew, before she had time to do anything, was seeing the fox fire some sort of weapon at her and being blinded by a harsh, hot light. The cat’s unconscious body hit the floor right next to her partner.

Chapter 1

Kiran sat down heavily on her bed and kicked the door of her small room closed. It had been a long day. As she pulled off her boots and let them fall to the metal floor with a dull thud, she went over all that had happened. As usual, she and her partner-in-crime, Grahuth, had left the ship early that morning, just after local sunrise. They had walked into the centre of the town and, wandering nonchalantly, had planned routes carefully. By mid-morning they had returned to the main square, where a market was now in full swing, and had got talking with a few of the local tradesmen.

As Kiran untied the strings of her jerkin and pulled it up over her head, she smiled to herself as she remembered Grahuth haggling with a rug merchant and getting about 10 percent knocked off the price she asked, then, after the merchant had rolled up the rug and handed it to Grahuth, he had activated his Cloak. It was a clear violation of policy but it had been hilarious seeing Grahuth and the rug suddenly flicker into invisibility. The old woman nearly had a coronary failure! Grahuth had to slap his paw over his muzzle to stop himself laughing out loud and being given away.

Kiran stood up momentarily to undo her leather britches before sitting down again and pulling them off one leg at a time. Kiran and Grahuth had remained at the market until one hour after midday when their pagers had beeped at them. It was time to do what they had come for. The two of them split up, Grahuth skulking off into the back streets while Kiran wandered over to a fruit stall. She examined the fruit for a moment and then asked for a half-dozen of the fist-sized, sweet green fruit that she had heard were good. When the stall-holder had told her how much they cost she had become outraged. How much, she had shouted. She could get them for half the price somewhere else. And look, these aren’t even ripe, she had cried, taking a small yellow fruit and squeezing it between her powerful fingers so that the firm flesh squirted juice all over the place. Did the stall-holder call these TableFruit, she had asked, she wouldn’t even give those to an animal. Kiran had continued like this for several minutes, haranguing the poor stall-owner, prodding and squeezing his wares until a couple of the local constabulary had come over and asked her to calm down.

Kiran had quickly sized up the two wolves and, deciding that they were no match for her, had continued with her charade. All she was doing was standing up for her rights, she had claimed, swinging her arms around wildly before ‘accidentally’ hitting the light wooden stall and sending the fruit flying. The two law enforcers had tried to apprehend her but Kiran evaded them and fled away from the market. The wolves had given chase and called for backup. Within a few minutes Kiran was being chased by a dozen or so police. She ran all over the town, her muscular, equine body letting her keep up a fast pace for hours on end. After just over than ninety minutes of leading the police around, Kiran’s pager had beeped again and she had slipped down a narrow alleyway and into a dark doorway. She waited, holding her breath as the panting group of middle-aged, unfit police officers thudded past her. She waited a few seconds more before she left the doorway and head back the way she had come.

Having efficiently lost her pursuers, she meandered back towards the town centre where she had met up with Grahuth again. He had a bulging sack on his back and a big grin on his face. Their plan had worked perfectly; while Kiran distracted the local constabulary, Grahuth had managed to break into the target building and steal the booty. The two had then headed back to the ship. As they approached, though, they realised that something was wrong. They gangplank, which was normally raised until those on-shore gave a special signal, was already lowered. Kiran and Grahuth hid behind a cargo container to observe. After a few minutes a female cat and a male dog, both wearing long trenchcoats, had come down the gangplank, thanked the captain and hurried back towards the town.

As the gangplank was being raised, Kiran and Grahuth gave the special signal and its motion was reversed. Kiran and Grahuth had boarded the ship to be told by the captain they the two visitors were from some local government agency. They had discovered the real occupation of those on board and had impounded the ship. They were also going to return to the town and find the two missing crew. It was at that point that Grahuth had come up with the plan of luring the government agents back to the ship so that, using their special equipment, they could erase the agent’s memories.

Kiran stood up and looked at her naked body in the full-length mirror on the front of her ‘wardrobe’. She was certainly a striking figure. She was a seven-foot tall (seven feet and two inches to be precise) bipedal zebra-morph with firm, powerful, but not overly bulging muscles. Her black and white striated fur was only broken by her black skin in a few ‘personal’ areas and the broad white patch running down her torso and belly. Although she was still fairly young (not yet in the ‘prime’ of her life), like many females these days, she’d had The Surgery. The structural implants in her already impressive bosoms pushed them even further together creating what one of her admirers had once called a “Grand Canyon Cleavage”.

As Kiran stepped away from the mirror and into the connecting bathroom for a shower, the ship was preparing to leave dock.

“Hatches secure, tethers freed,” reported Polgur, the ship’s weasel pilot.

“Very well,” replied the captain. The captain, a middle-aged Chaos Demon was sitting in his chair, one ankle on his other knee, his face hidden by the local newspaper. “Take her out.” Despite his phenotype, the captain was a very reserved character. He spoke with a British accent and, always dressed impeccably.

As Polgur gently manipulated the engine controls, the hulking freighter slowly pulled away from its berth. It gingerly inched past the scaffolding and cranes that had been working all over it only a few hours ago. When Polgur was certain that the full length of the ship was free he smoothly brought the old engines up to full power. The deep throb, felt through the feet rather than heard, intensified and rose in pitch to a tortured scream as the worn power plant fought to push the metal giant up into the gray pre-dawn sky.

For several minutes, the aging freighter shrieked like a banshee, leaving a thin but tell-tale column of oily smoke behind it. Eventually the view ahead began to darken once more as the atmosphere thinned.

The captain closed the newspaper and folded it neatly before swinging the chair towards Katarine and the communications station. “What’s the word from Traffic Control?” he asked.

“They’re livid, as usual,” replied Katarine, one hand to her earpiece. “‘You’re violating police orders’, ‘Stop or we shall be forced to pursue you and force you to return,'” she quoted before pausing for a moment, listening intently.

“Something?” asked the captain.

“This should interest you, captain,” she said turning her attention back to him. “Apparently there’s a guy at New Bedrock with his own private Peregrine. He says he’s willing to chase us down.”

The captain consulted a map of the planet. New Bedrock was the only other spaceport on this planet and it was on completely the other side of the globe. Very few craft would be able to circumnavigate the planet fast enough to catch an escaping ship before it reached the hyperspace point, but the captain was well aware of the reputation of Peregrines. These tiny vehicles packed enough thrust and firepower for a decent sized corvette yet they were small enough that they could be manned by a five-strong crew. The captain grinned. This should definitely be interesting.

Polgur finally throttled back on the engines, their tortured howl subsiding to a mere whine. The captain entered a command into the computer terminal beside his chair and a projection of the planet they were leaving appeared on a big screen at the front of the bridge. A number of icons were visible around the shaded sphere. One icon, representing the archaic freighter, moved in a straight line away from the planet; another icon, representing the pursuing Peregrine, was already beginning to circle round towards them; a tight cluster of smaller icons, representing the local law enforcement, was still close to the surface as they were only launching now. The captain watched eagerly as the icons closed on them, swiftly in the case of the Peregrine, less so in the case of the police.

“The Peregrine has cleared the planet’s limb,” reported Katarine.

“Give us visual,” commanded the captain to the feline, only a slight hint of excitement in his voice.

The rendered image of the planet gave way to live video footage from the ship’s external sensors. The right half of the picture was filled with the bright surface of the planet, the mid-morning sun glistening on the sea. Right at the edge of the atmosphere, a bright, glowing dot could be seen. Katarine narrowed the field of view, zooming in on the bright dot. As the dot expanded, it resolved itself as the Peregrine tearing through the thin upper atmosphere towards them, the rarefied air flashing to incandescence on impact with the racing object. The captain was quietly impressed, the pilot of the Peregrine was keeping his ship as close to the planet as possible to reduce the distance he had to travel while keeping it just far enough out of the atmosphere to avoid being burnt up by the air friction.

“Where are the police?” asked the captain.

“Just leaving the atmosphere now,” replied Katarine.

The captain nodded. “Very well, I believe it’s time we left. You know what to do.” He got up from his chair, retrieved his paper and retired to his private room adjacent to the bridge.

The bridge crew had certainly done this procedure many times before, and occasionally while being chased, but they had never left it this late before initiating it. A thrill of excitement ran through them as they imagined the look on their pursuers faces over the next few moments. However, with capture so close, there was not a moment to lose.

Sigiel, at the defence station, was the first link in the chain leading to their escape. “Arming release!” he cried, the excitement plain in the young lapine’s voice. He slid back a panel at the side of his control console to reveal a recessed D-shaped handle. When he reached in and began hauling on it, the hydraulically dampened handle slowly drew outwards before latching into position after just a few inches. As the handle latched in position a small red button beneath it started to blink frantically.

“Releasing Shell!” cried Sigiel, his adrenaline-fuelled voice almost a whoop. He stabbed at the blinking button, and the handle dropped back into its original position. Almost simultaneously, a number of loud clangs rang throughout the ships hull.

The police and the crew of the Peregrine were surprised and somewhat disappointed when the ailing freighter suddenly exploded in front of them. It wasn’t a violent explosion, but obviously the stress of the escape had been too much for the hull which, before their very eyes, fractured into a dozen or so pieces and gracefully drifted apart. However, they were even more surprised when the drifting metal plates parted far enough for them to see between them. For sitting at the very centre of the explosion was a sleek and shiny craft unlike anything any of them had ever seen, and certainly unlike the rusty freighter they thought they were chasing.

“Decompressing Hull,” called Polgur, his calm voice sounding almost dead after Siegel’s outburst. He tapped a command into his console and, in the now silent bridge a number of hydraulic motors could be heard. Outside, three pairs of panels, equally spaced round the waist of the metamorphosed ship, split open as a pylon pushed it’s way out of each. At the end of each pylon was a pair of long slender cylinders, their axes aligned with that of the ship. As the cylinders cleared the panels, which sprang closed beneath them, the pylons came to a halt. Towards the front of the ship, a parabolic communication dish popped up and oriented itself towards some point in deep space.

“Initiating Engine Pre-Ignition Sequence,” stated Polgur, his stubby fingers flying over his controls.

While the police were still amazed at what was going on, the pilot of the Peregrine was quick to realise that, although he’d never seen anything like this before, there were only two things the new cylinders could be: engines or missile pods. If they were engines, then the strange vehicle was only a matter of moments from making a quick getaway. If they were missile pods, then it was only a matter of moments before the strange vehicle started firing. Either way, the Peregrine’s pilot knew that he had to close the distance to firing range as quickly as possible so, putting every ounce of spare power to the engines, he gunned them way beyond their rated capacity. He would be damned if he was going to let these get away.

“Pre-Ignition Sequence complete,” said Polgur with relief. The Peregrine was only seconds away from firing on them, but now that was no longer a problem. “Igniting Engines 1 through 6,” he reported as the rear ends of the 6 cylinders glowed into life a healthy blue-white. “Activate Stealth,” Polgur said to Katarine.

“Activating Stealth,” came the confirmation as Katarine entered a command into her console. The Peregrine’s pilot nearly choked as the ship only a few kilometres in front of him suddenly vanished. He checked all the sensors available but the ship was no longer there. In flagrant disregard of all this overwhelming evidence, the Peregrine’s pilot decided that the phantom ship _must_ still be there and commanded his gunner to attack that point in space with all weapons.

Polgur ignored Siegel’s almost incoherent report that the Peregrine was firing on them and concentrated on programming the navigational computer with their destination. “Prepare for jump,” he said, almost incidentally, as he worked hard at his console. Everyone else on the bridge swiveled their padded chairs round so that they were facing in the direction of travel and braced themselves (even the hyperactive Siegel had just enough sense to sit down before the jump began).

“Jumping!” called Polgur as he stabbed at a button which had barely begun to flash at the top of his board. He slammed himself back into the same position as everyone else on the bridge fractions of a second before the six engines flared into life, flinging the invisible ship forward at a mind-flattening acceleration. Fortunately, the occupants of the ship avoided being turned into paté by this, due do the presence of gravitational stabilisers. The effect of these stabilisers of purposely less on the bridge so that the crew could feel the movements of the ship easier, however, this meant that during these moments of immense acceleration up to and beyond lightspeed, they were subjected to a force of 3 or 4 times their own body weight. The reclining, padded chairs didn’t make this a comfortable experience, but at least they made it a bearable one.

The bridge crew watched the forward screen as the stars began to recede from them, their massive acceleration generating pronounced relativistic effects. The stars continued to cluster at a point directly in front of them, the stars beside and behind them coming into view, even the peregrine and the police ships appeared in front of them, horribly elongated and distorted, for a fraction of a second before the ship finally broke the light barrier and the bright cluster of stars lunged at them, turning into a continuous tunnel of random light.

After what felt like a hour, but was in fact just over a minute of this punishing acceleration, the engines automatically throttled back to a cruising level and the weight dropped off the occupants of the crew. They immediately swung their seats back to their consoles and resumed their work. Siegel was the first to report on a successful escape, flicking his rabbit ears out of his face with one hand. “No signs of pursuit, looks like they’re still trying to work out what happened to us!”

Polgur, who was the most senior crewman on the bridge now that the captain had retired to his room, nodded. “Good,” he said with out looking up from his console. “Well done, everybody. That was a close one, but everyone remained focussed and we got out unscathed.” He swung round, now, to face the rest of the bridge. “All-in-all, I think that was a successful mission.”

Katarine smiled. “I should think so, too! The day that the crew of the Cerberus can’t complete a covert strike mission unharmed is the day they should retire us.”

The Cerberus was the crew’s nickname for the sleek, top-of-the-range ship that they were privileged to be assigned to. The CBS-8185, as it was officially designated, was the ultimate anomaly in an anomalous organization. According to all available data, the ship didn’t exist, the CBS class of ships couldn’t exist, the crew assigned to the CBS-8185 had never been born and the organization the were all part of was, apparently, just a figment of their non-existent imaginations.

The Guild of Liberators, Assassins and Dangermen, GLAD, was a well-organised group of people who, under any other circumstances would be class as criminals. However, the Guild operated more like a legitimate army than the usual alliance of thieves. There was no maniacal mastermind and his inefficient henchmen in this guild; the complex ranking structure ensured that only those most competent in their field ever got to take part in real-world missions. This meant that in the hundred and fifty years since GLAD had been established, only one person had ever been caught. That one person had been assassinated only minutes after their arrest, thus ensuring the total anonymity of the Guild.

Not only did GLAD boast the best criminal minds in the galaxy, with the amount of money it made (all profit, of course, why pay for something when you can steal it?), it could also afford the best technology in the galaxy. In fact some of the technology, such as the CBS-8185, was beyond cutting edge. Certain systems on board the CBS-8185, such as it’s cloaking system, were based on technology that scientist claimed was physically impossible. The most vocal of these scientists were, of course, under the employment of GLAD’s legitimate business front.

According to GLAD’s internal reports, it consisted of nearly a billion people, however, in an organization such as this, even that figure could well be just the tip of the iceberg. It maintained several bases throughout the galaxy, usually small moons in inhospitable systems or rogue planets, drifting through the blackness of deep space. It was to one of these rogue planets that the Cerberus was now heading. Dropping out of hyperspace for one of these rogue planets was a skill which took years of practice to perfect. The simple way to arrive at a system was to point your craft in roughly the right direction and, as you streaked into the star’s gravity well, let the computer stop you automatically.

However, with no parent star, this was impossible for rogue planets as their gravity well wasn’t deep enough for computers to detect until you were virtually on top of them at which point it was too late to stop. The trick with rogue planets was to anticipate where the correct place to stop was and shut down the engines manually. Naturally, this was easier said than done as one had to both compensate for the drift of the planet and time the shut down to within a few seconds. If the engines were shut down too early or too late, then there could be a long real-space trek to catch the planet.

As a member of the crew of the Cerberus, GLAD’s elite strike force, Polgur was generally recognised as one of the best pilot’s of the modern era. He had even managed to beat the record on the Kessel run, a standard which had stood for nearly a hundred years. He prided himself on being able to arrive at any Rogue planet to within ten minutes. This time was no exception; he stared, transfixed, at his instruments as they shot towards the planet. The sensors gave the barest twitch, a movement so small that most people would ignore it as noise. Polgur, however, spotted the movement, waited for a heartbeat and then pressed the button he had had his finger on for the past minute. The tunnel of light caused by their faster-than-light motion evaporated almost instantly, revealing a normal starfield. Directly in front of them, however, was a dark dot, invisible to the eye, visible only to the ship’s sensors, which over the next few seconds grew rapidly, turning into the rogue planet they sought. As the Cerberus’ headlong speed finally bled off, the planet ended up filling several dozen degrees of their field of view. After only four minutes they were within the planet’s gravity well, heading down towards a large but otherwise unremarkable crater.

Although all sensors reported that this planet was uninhabited, Katarine was preparing to contact Traffic Control, as if this were a normal spaceport. She opened a communications frequency and requested a data connection with whoever was listening on that frequency. There was no reply, but this was exactly what Katarine expected. She overrode the computer protocol and transmitted an encrypted message. In response, a tight-beam communication came up from the surface of the planet. This secure communication method used a thin, line-of-sight beam which could only be intercepted by placing another receiver in the path of the beam, which would, of course, sever the transmission to one of the parties.

For several seconds, the Cerberus’ computer negotiated on this tight-beam channel before Katarine was able to report to Polgur “The door’s open, Polgur, take us in.”

Polgur checked his sensors. They still reported that there was nothing of interest on this planet. He nudged the ship a few meters to one side and suddenly his sensors lit up with information. He didn’t need them to tell him what was down there though, for, as he had moved the ship, a small spaceport had suddenly appeared towards the edge of the crater. Polgur knew that this meant he was on the correct descent path and he kept the landing area within view throughout the final approach. When they were only a few seconds away from touchdown, he lowered the landing gear. Four sturdy legs swung down from the belly of the Cerberus, absorbing the force of impact and supporting the weight of the ship.

As the bridge crew began shutting down the ship and logging off their consoles, the platform they had landed on began to slowly descend below the surface. When the Cerberus was completely submerged, an iris closed off the opening above them. Red lights came on, illuminating the airlock the Cerberus was now in. After a couple of minutes, the illumination flicked to white and the platform continued its descent. The Cerberus cleared the bottom of the short tunnel, revealing the huge hanger which had been carved out of the solid rock of the planet. Siegel, who was young and still quite inexperienced when it came to space flight, was still impressed every time he saw this. The hangar was several kilometres from side to side and descended for many times that distance into the planet’s interior. The landing pad they had arrived at was one of about a hundred, spaced around the edge of the roof of the roughly cylindrical cavity. In the centre of the roof was the largest hanger door Siegel had ever seen. It’s two great sliding doors were each one kilometre wide and two kilometres tall. This vast entryway was opened very rarely and was designed to handle either a single, large ship or the rapid entry/egress of a large number of smaller craft. Due to its size, though, it was not an airlock, it was simply two great door which, when parted, would open the whole shipyard to the vacuum of space.

The enormous shipyard was constantly busy and it was several minutes before a tug came over to the Cerberus, clamped onto its top and lifted them away from the landing pad. It took them deep down the massive cylinder, past innumerable different ships of all shapes, sizes and ages, all docked to the wall of the cylinder. Finally, the tug found an empty parking spot and gently deposited the Cerberus before zipping back upwards to collect another incomer.

The Cerberus’ captain came out of his room, already changed into clothes more suited to the night’s shore leave than bridge duty. “Ah, we’ve arrived,” he said, glancing at the forward screen. “Well done, everybody. Don’t forget the de-briefing at Oh-Nine-Hundred tomorrow. Until then, though, enjoy an evening of shore leave.” He strolled out the doors at the rear of the bridge.

Chapter 2

Molly McGuire jumped at the sound of the buzzer to her tiny flat. Although she was expecting the visitor, her mental image of the person down at street level gave her considerable fear. A couple of hours ago her ‘manager’ had called to say that she had a booking that evening. As usual, young Molly had inquired about the potential customer; it always helped, so that she could prepare the best experience for them. When the gruff voice told her that it was the captain of an independent starship she experienced a sight thrill. She had entertained a number of starship captains but the freighter captains tended to be rough, uncouth types while Navy captains tended to be highly stressed, never letting their hair down properly. Independent captains, however, were much more exciting. They often ventured to far-away systems where they learnt many things and would often entertain Molly as much as she entertained them.

However, Molly’s momentary excitement was immediately quenched when her manager’s deep voice said, or rather, uttered the words “Chaos Demon”. Molly’s breath caught in her ample chest. She had heard the rumours about Chaos demons. Untamed beasts, they said. Pure Evil, others muttered. Keep clear, they all warned. She tried to refuse, but her manager shouted at her. This was an important customer who had paid a large amount up front and had specifically requested Molly. Despite being flattered that the customer had asked for her specially, Molly was still scared by the prospect of having to entertain a Chaos Demon. That was until her manager, frustrated, offered to give her 30% of the fee, 10% more than he normally gave her. The prospect of some extra, much-needed money was enough to change Molly’s mind.

Since that call, the young Irish vixen had been waiting anxiously for her customer to arrive. Now, at last, that moment had arrived. Molly got up off the bed and press the button on the wall intercom.

“Who is it?” she asked.

A name was spoken through the tinny speaker, but Molly didn’t need to hear that to know that her customer had arrived. Above the intercom speaker was a small screen, no more than a few square inches, which showed her a small spy-camera by the front door. Standing in front of the camera, his head bent close to the microphone, was a large creature the like of which Molly had never seen. She had to force her shaking hand to press the door-release button.

“F-Flat 39A” she stammered.

After a few moments, there was a quiet knock on the door of her flat. She hid behind the door as the large gentleman entered, shook her hand and then stood at the foot of the bed, his hands clasped lightly at his waist.

“You look petrified, my dear,” said the Chaos Demon. “Don’t worry, I won’t bite.”

Molly was shocked by the voice. Instead of the sound of a thousand tortured souls emanating from the creature’s throat, her visitor’s voice was warm, mellifluous and kind. She slowly closed the door, keeping her eyes on the Demon.

“W-What would you like to do first, sir?” asked Molly, her regular patter overriding her nervousness.

“Actually, I’d like to take you out for dinner. I’ve been on a solitary mission in deep space for the last two months and I miss the company of an intelligent woman. I hear you are studying for a degree.”

Molly nodded.

“What in, may I ask?”

“Quantum Organics” replied the young vixen.

The Chaos demon raised an eyebrow in polite surprise at the highly cerebral nature of his hostess’ chosen profession. “Quantum Organics. My word! And do you enjoy your course?”

Once again Molly nodded. “Oh yes, sir. It’s a fascinating subject.”

“Good,” said the demon. “Now, about dinner. I do hope you don’t mind, but I’ve booked Helmingham Hall for eight o’clock.” He paused to examine the young girl’s attire. “Do you have anything a bit more suitable?”

Now it was Molly’s turn to be surprised again. Helmingham Hall was, by far, the poshest restaurant in town. Situated in it’s own enormous grounds several miles out of town, it was the sort of place Molly had never even dared dream about going to in case she was charged for that dream. She glanced down at the revealing attire she was wearing. While perfect for the night she had been expecting, she knew she’d never get into Helmingham Hall like that.

“Yes, I think so,” she replied. “I’ll just get changed.”

There was a moments pause before the Gentleman realised that Molly’s one bedroom flat left her nowhere to get changed modestly with him there.

“Oh, I’m sorry, my dear,” he said and stepped out of the room.

After a few minutes, Molly opened the door a changed woman. She no longer looked like the street urchin, desperately ‘entertaining’ gentlemen to get enough money to survive. In her long, green evening gown, high heels and with her tail re-styled in the current fashion, she looked more like a moderately wealthy young woman being taken out to dinner by her gentleman friend.

“Delightful!” exclaimed the Chaos Demon. “Much more suitable.”

“It used to be my mother’s,” said Molly. “I keep it for very special occasions.”

“It really suits you,” said the demon before offering her his elbow. “Shall we go? The maitre d’ will get very upset if we’re late,” he smiled.

The next few hours were some of the most delightful for Molly. The two of them sat and talked and ate and drank until very late in the evening. They talked about what it was like to be a starship captain, what it was like to be a ‘seamstress’, as Molly euphemistically called herself, and, when Molly discovered that her customer knew quite a bit about Quantum Organics, they discussed many aspects of that field such as how it was possible to overcome the problems inherent in the latest generation of Quantum-Cybernetic-Organisms, or Quborgs.

Molly took some time to examine the charming gentleman who was dispelling so many of the rumours she had heard. Wessex, as he called himself, was certainly an imposing figure. He was over seven foot tall, but with a fairly average build. His short, dense fur was a very unusual shade of deep purple with thin black stripes in it. Molly wasn’t sure if it was the drink but she had a suspicion that the pattern of stripes on the demon’s body at the end of the night was different to that at the beginning. Wessex’s ears, though normal sized around the ear-hole, extended from the side of his head to a pointy tip just north of the crown of his skull. However, the crown of his skull was not the tallest part of his body for two horns grew from the top, one above each eye. The horns grew vertically for a couple of inches before turning a dramatic right-angle and jutting forward for several more inches. At the other end of his body, Wessex’s tail was thin and completely bald with a triangular flaring at the tip. His feet were also bare. Molly had giggled when she first saw Wessex’s feet, the sight of his black cotton suit trousers stopping just above his broad, clawed, purple feet was almost ridiculous.

“It’s so hard getting size 20 shoes that I mostly don’t bother,” Wessex had explained. “Fortunately, people don’t argue when you’re a Chaos Demon.”

At the end of the night, as the Maitre d’ came around and doused the candles on their table, Wessex thanked Molly for such a wonderful evening.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come back up to my flat for…?” asked Molly.

“As I said before, Molly, I just wanted to talk. Besides, I wouldn’t want to spoil the evening by taking you like some common kerb-crawler and then leaving before the sun rises.”

“It wouldn’t be like that at all,” said Molly, grabbing Wessex’s hand. “I know I shouldn’t get emotionally involved with my customers, but you don’t feel like a customer at all any more. To be honest, this is the first time I’ve wanted to… y’know… with someone rather than being… y’know… by someone.”

“Really?” asked Wessex. “You’re certain you want to return to your flat?”

Molly nodded emphatically.

“Well, since you insist…” The Chaos Demon offered his arm to the young Vixen. “…I shall oblige.”

The two of them were silent on the short ride in Wessex’s car but Molly’s mind was whirling with thoughts of the night to come. She had been falling for this charming gentleman and felt an anticipation about the act they were about to indulge in that she had never felt before, not even the first time when her father had ‘pleasured’ her as a cub.

Back at Molly’s flat, she quickly bolted the door and began to unzip her dress.

“I’m sorry to ask this, Molly dear, but you do have a license, don’t you?”

“Of course,” said Molly, picking up the small plastic card from her bedside table and handing it to Wessex.

Wessex examined the ‘Seamstress’ License or, to give it the official title printed at its top, the Federal Prostitution License. The card was primarily used to certify that Molly was clean of any diseases, but Wessex was interested in the identity portion at the top. Next to a small photo of Molly’s head and shoulders it listed various attributes such as “Race: Vulpine”, “Age: 21” and “Licensed since age: 12”. Wessex was not interested in the sordid details of Molly’s past though, instead he checked the entry for “Gender”. He was pleased to see the letters “GF” in that field. “GF” stood for Gelf-Female and signified that Molly was a Genetically Engineered Life Form.

“Thank you,” said Wessex, handing the card back to the vixen. “Better safe than sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it,” said Molly, shedding her evening dress and carefully hanging it up in her closet.

Wessex admired the young vixen’s semi-nude body. She was almost perfectly proportioned from her rounded bosoms, to her narrow waist and flaring hips, to her small, pretty foot paws. Her fur was a single shade of orangey-red except for the broad, pure white streak running from her chin and cheeks, down across her breasts and belly to patches on her inner thighs. Her paws were the only other exceptions to this colour scheme being a very dark brown, almost to the point of being black.

Now wearing just her revealing undergarments, Molly approached Wessex and helped him to undress. When she had his jacket and shirt off, she paused to admire his firm, flat torso. So much nicer than the paunch that a lot of her customers sported. She unbuckled the thin leather belt of his trousers, pulled down the zip and gasped as she hauled on the waistband.

“Like what you see?” asked Wessex.

Molly was speechless. She knew that what she was looking at was certainly unique. Wessex was probably the only person with not one, but TWO penises. The two phalluses hung limply, side-by-side, over the two oversized testicles which each looked capable of providing life-support to a single penis.

Molly looked up into Wessex’s face. “It’s like all my Christmases have come at once!” she breathed.

“And that’s before we’ve even started,” grinned the Chaos Demon.

Molly helped Wessex step out of his trousers and led him to the bed. He sat down on the edge and she knelt between his parted legs.

“Do I need to work on both of them?” she asked.

“If you want them both hard,” came the reply.

Molly immediately went to work, caressing the large spheres dangling before her. The twin members soon responded, filling with blood, and becoming half-hard. Molly gently grabbed one shaft and took it into her muzzle. Wessex sighed with pleasure as he felt the vixen’s rough tongue run along the sensitive underside of his cock. Molly didn’t neglect the other cock, though, taking it in her paw and slowly stroking it. The two cocks lengthened and hardened under the girl’s experienced attentions.

“No, no!” moaned Wessex. Molly, confused, started to lift off but Wessex placed a hand on the back of her head, encouraging her to keep going. “Don’t stop, what ever happens,” he whispered before moaning again, “No…!”

Molly sucked on Wessex’s cock for a few more minutes and then switched to the other cock. Wessex’s moaning grew slowly louder, still protesting, until, suddenly, he closed his eyes and opened his mouth in ecstasy. Molly, feeling his shaft grow larger in her mouth was surprised that he was climaxing so quickly. Obviously he was more stressed than she thought. Molly quickened her pace, but Wessex’s hand held her back.

“NO NEED FOR THAT, YET,” came a strange voice.

Molly glanced up at Wessex. He turned his head down to face her, eyes still closed.

“WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED,” he said, in his demonic voice.

Suddenly Wessex flicked open his eyes and Molly tried to scream, despite the object between her jaws. Instead of the beautiful eyes that she’d fallen for, behind the eyelids were a pair of glowing white orbs. The whole eyeball now emitted a bright white light.

“DON’T STOP,” commanded Wessex, forcing Molly to keep her head moving on his cock.

Her earlier fear having now resurfaced and been realised, the poor vixen could do nothing but comply. As she continued working on Wessex’s genitalia, sucking one cock, stroking the other, both of them began to thicken and lengthen. The cock in her mouth pushed its way further down her throat causing her to start gagging.

“RELAX!” said Wessex.

Molly forced her throat muscles to relax, letting the stiff shaft enter her throat. She gingerly stroked along the length of this penis and then heard a movement behind her head. She strained her eyes to look round at Wessex’s legs. She was horrified to realise that the sound she’d heard was Wessex’s feet dragging along the floor as his legs lengthened and the muscles filled out. Molly glanced back at his body; evidently it wasn’t just his cocks that were growing, his whole body was growing and becoming stronger. The stripes in his fur were also rippling across his body like waves on a pond. After a few moments, Wessex’s cock was becoming too thick for the little vixen’s mouth, her lips were stretched tight around its girth. Wessex placed his hands on Molly’s cheeks and pushed hard. She dragged down the length of his purple cock before coming off the head with a loud, wet pop.

One hand flew to cover her aching mouth before she said, “What’s happening to you?”

“BE QUIET. SHUT UP AND I WON’T…” He leaned forward, bringing his face close to hers. “…EAT YOU!”

Wessex stoop up, bringing Molly up with him. He spun her around and, with a razor-sharp claw, sliced through the back of her underwear. She instinctively covered herself with her arms, but Wessex stepped round to her front and forced her arms to her sides. He ogled her naked, vulnerable body, the tiny, pink nipples standing erect on her breasts, the pink, wet lips between her legs. With an easy push from his strong arms, he threw Molly onto the bed. He rolled her onto her side and lifted one leg.

“Please…” whimpered the little vixen.

Wessex looked at her disapprovingly, took her biggest toe into his mouth and began sucking on it.

“I SAID BE QUIET OR I’LL BITE!” said the Chaos Demon, without removing the toe from his mouth but instead, biting down gently on it.

Wessex waited until the vixen had stopped whimpering before releasing his grip on her toe. He licked along the sole of her foot and then kissed his way down her raised leg, stopping just short of her crotch. Instead, he ran a finger along the length of Molly’s sensitive pussy lips, continuing round to circle her anus.

“LUBRICATION?” mused the Chaos Demon, the thoughtfulness almost lost in his demonic voice. “NO, NOT TODAY, I THINK.”

Molly’s eyes widened at the thought that he was about to enter her without lubrication but, as she feared for her life, she didn’t say anything. Wessex shuffled closer to Molly’s exposed crotch and, resting her raised leg on his shoulder, used both hands to guide his pensises towards her, one aiming for her slick cunt, the other for her dry tail-hole. With the heads touching her openings he said, “THIS WON’T HURT A BIT,” and thrusted himself hard into her.

Molly’s scream echoed off the bare walls of her apartment. She’d never felt such pain in all her life. Even the time when her father had raped her as a cub, his large adult penis knotting in her tight pre-teen pussy, had been nothing compared to the tearing pain she felt now as Wessex’s two giant cocks drove into her body. She screamed again as he pulled out of her, the cock in her cunt moving freely, but the cock in her rectum rasping like a pine-cone in her butt. Tears streamed down the little vixen’s face. Why was he doing this do her? She thought he’d been such a nice gentleman.

Wessex smiled warmly at the screaming girl. “THAT’S IT, MY DEAR, SCREAM AS LOUD AS YOU CAN,” he said with what sounded like tenderness. He rammed his twin cocks back into the poor girl again, a small amount of precum lubricating her rear passage slightly.

As the powerful Wessex slowly pumped himself in and out of the vulnerable vixen, the bed squeaking beneath them, her screams slowly faded as she became inured to the pain and started to feel the pleasurable glow emanating from her loins. She felt uncomfortably full from the double helping within her, but each time the hot shafts fucked into her she felt a double electric tingle suffuse through her body. Wessex caressed the fur of the leg on his chest, occasionally licking at her foot, but Molly barely noticed this. Her whole universe was slowly collapsing down to two points of pure pleasure, her cunt and her arse.

When she thought she could stand no more, she finally began to climax. The pain of being fucked by Wessex’s improbably large shafts only adding frissance to her orgasm. The overwhelming strength of the spasms quickly knocked her unconscious but this did not slow down Wessex’s pounding.

As Molly’s vagina continually spasmed around one cock and her anus clenched around his other, he increased the speed and ferocity of his thrusts. Suddenly, as his hips bucked at a phenomenal rate, he threw his head back, eyes flaring bright enough to out shine the single bulb hanging from the ceiling, and howled a soul-wrenching howl. His huge balls simultaneously began to pump boiling hot semen down the length of his vast shafts. Molly’s cunt and anus almost proved too tight for Wessex’s enormous manhoods and the semen bulged uncomfortably just outside the bottlenecks before another spasm from the Chaos Demon’s balls fired the liquid into the now-limp vixen’s body with the force of a firehose.

Wessex held the red-furred leg tight against his body as the sheer force and volume of his ejaculate threatened to launch Molly. For several seconds, Wessex’s balls pumped literally gallons of scalding hot semen into the lifeless vixen’s body. Suddenly the girl’s white-furred stomach began to bulge alarmingly.

“OH FUCK! NOT AGAIN!” yowled the Chaos Demon, unable to stem the tide filling the vixen.

Suddenly, with another involuntary thrust of the Chaos Demon’s hips, the young prostitute’s body exploded. Unable to cope with the shear volume of demon seed, her torso burst open, sending cooked intestines and semen all over the room. For a few seconds more, Wessex continued pumping his thick, white semen into the empty cavity of the girl’s body. When his catastrophic orgasm finally faded and his body started to return to its normal size, he pulled his penises out of the dead girl’s body and lay down next to her. Tears running down his face, he stroked the vixen’s vacant face.

“Why?!” he sobbed. “Why couldn’t you have been the one? We were so close this time! When will this madness ever stop?!”

For nearly an hour, the Chaos Demon lay in the cooling remains of the prostitute, sobbing with remorse for the young girl’s horrific death. As his tears gradually subsided, he sat up and considered his options. Once again he was lying, naked, next to the naked remains of a prostitute that he’d blown up with the strength of his orgasm. Suddenly, a different primal urge overcame him; his eyes lit up again and he plunged his head into the gaping hole in Molly’s body and began eating the succulent flesh there. For another hour he worked his way through the fox, devouring every single morsel, even crunching up the bones. The only piece he saved was the vixen’s long, bushy tail. He even picked the drying lumps of meat off the walls and furniture and ate them.

When he was finally finished desecrating the late Molly’s body, he sat on her bed, cradling her dismembered tail. He tried to ignore the raging erections that the feast had given him and, for the rest of the night, mourned the loss of someone who could have been a true friend.

The sun rose the next morning to find Wessex still cradling the tail, still with a pair of rock-hard erections and still crying. When he realised what time it was, though, he reluctantly put down the body part he was holding and picked up the phone.

“WHAT?!” said a demonic voice on the other end of the line.

“I’ve done it again,” said Wessex, his voice breaking with the emotion.

“OH GOD! AND I SUPPOSE THAT MEANS YOU WANT THE USUAL DONE?” asked the voice, exasperated.

“Would you?” pleaded Wessex.


“I can’t help who I am!” sobbed Wessex.


“Thank you, brother,” said Wessex, wiping his eyes with one tear-sodden hand.

Wessex hung up the phone and waited for his brother to start the procedures which he had performed so many times before for Wessex. Then…

At the end of the night, as the Maitre d’ came around and doused the candles on their table, Wessex thanked Molly for such a wonderful evening.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come back up to my flat for…?” asked Molly.

“As I said before, Molly, I just wanted to talk. Besides, I wouldn’t want to spoil the evening by taking you like some common kerb-crawler and then leaving before the sun rises.”

“It wouldn’t be like that at all,” said Molly, grabbing Wessex’s hand. “I know I shouldn’t get emotionally involved with my customers, but you don’t feel like a customer at all any more. To be honest, this is the first time I’ve wanted to… y’know… with someone rather than being… y’know… by someone.”

“Really?” asked Wessex. Then, “No. I’m sorry. I really can’t.”

Molly was crestfallen. She was sure that he had been just about to accept before he changed his mind.

“Maybe another time?” she asked, hopeful.

“Yes. Maybe another time,” said Wessex, without feeling, as he stood up and held Molly’s coat open for her.

Chapter 3

“We ready?” asked Grahuth.

He and Kiran were preparing for the final stage of their mission. The booty they’d ‘liberated’ earlier was, in fact, utterly worthless to GLAD. However, it had been liberated on behalf of a large multiplanetary organization which was willing to pay a large sum of money upon its reciept. Kiran and Grahuth were preparing to meet with representitives of the organization for the exchange. Officially, Grahuth was the only one that the organization were permitting to the exchange, but GLAD never went into these sort of things unprepared.

Kiran checked her equipment one more time. “Looks like it,” she said. They were both kitted out in attire suited to their upcoming roles. Although GLAD operated much like a legitimate army, it differed in one big way: no-one ever wore a uniform. In GLAD’s line of business, being identified was a definite drawback. However, despite this, Grahuth and Kiran were wearing as close to a uniform as they ever got. Grahuth wore blue jeans, a white cotton T-shirt and a black leather jacket. Kiran, in deference to her role as cover, was kitted out from head to hoof in a light black jumpsuit. She had even died her face fur completely black. Grahuth had the sack containing the booty slung easily over his shoulder and Kiran had a long sniper rifle cradled in her arms.

The two of them had already left the Cerberus and had taken a GLAD transport to the planet where the meeting was to take place. Now Kiran left the transport and headed to the spot in the more salubrious area of town that the organization had designated. Grahuth waited a few minutes and then ambled across town. He arrived at the meeting point a couple of minutes before the designated time.

It was a deserted square in a run down part of the city. Posters dotted all over the derelict buildings declared that the whole area was scheduled for demolition in preparation for the building of a new entertainment complex. Grahuth glanced around and the empty, glassless windows of the tower blocks bordering the square. Although he couldn’t see any signs of life, he knew that Kiran was up there somewhere, her gun scanning the area for hostiles.

Grahuth sat on the stone lip of the dried up fountain in the centre of the square. It had probably once been some ornate statue with fancy water jets, designed to add life to the public space, but now it was just a misshapen lump of stone covered with several generations of graffiti, each layer thick enough to completely obliterate the one beneath. After a moment, Grahuth swung the sack off his shoulder, and toyed with the opening, wondering if he should look inside.

“Not trying to tamper with the merchandise are we?” called a voice.

Before the third syllable, Grahuth was on his feet and facing the street where the voice came from. A fairly large wolf stepped casually out of the shadows and into the flickering light of a street lamp. He wore a heavy, heel-length coat and, despite the ambient darkness, a pair of dark sunglasses.

“Not at all,” replied Grahuth, speaking at a conversational volume but knowing that, in the dead silence of the derelict quarter, his voice would carry perfectly to the wolf. “I would never try anything when dealing with…”

The wolf held up a hand to stop Grahuth mentioning his organization’s name.

“We both know who we work for, Mr. Fox. I see no need to broadcast that to anyone who may be listening in.”

“A wise precaution, Mr. Wolf,” said Grahuth, picking up on the wolf’s chosen method of address. “Do you suspect that there may be eavesdroppers?”

The wolf padded slowly towards Grahuth. “I can think of at least a dozen people who would give their own tails to get their hands on an item such as this.” The wolf came to a halt a few paces away from Grahuth and extended his hand. “May I examine the merchandise?”

Grahuth picked up the sack and, once again, eyed the surrounding buildings. “Do you have the money?” he asked.

The wolf reached into his coat with his other hand and pulled a fat envelope out of his pocket, showing Grahuth only the corner before returning it to its warm, safe place. “Cash on Delivery, Mr. Fox. _If_ the merchandise is acceptable.”

“You have the full amount we agreed?”

“Mr. Fox,” sighed the Wolf. “I can only pay you what I think the merchandise is worth. If it is in the condition I expect then, yes, you will get the full amount, but what if you are trying to give me a fake? I can’t give you the full amount then, can I?”

Grahuth’s whiskers twitched. He didn’t like this; the wolf was being too cautious. Grahuth knew that the wolf could easily claim that the object was a fake and refuse to pay, knowing full well that it was the real thing. However, there was not a lot Grahuth could do at the moment. The object was worthless to him and the only person who could make it worth anything was the wolf. Grahuth slowly handed the sack over to the wolf.

The wolf grabbed the sack eagerly and almost dropped it when Grahuth let go. Although the sack was quite small and Grahuth had been handling it easily, its contents were denser than the wolf had anticipated and he had to grab it with two hands and heft it onto the lip of the fountain. He greedily opened the sack and looked inside. Suddenly, the wolf flicked his eyes towards Grahuth and then began to bend closer to the sack. As he did so, time seemed to slow for Grahuth. As the wolf’s head moved lower it cleared a line of sight to a building on the other side of the square. Grahuth saw the glint of a telescopic sight in one of the windows and dove to the floor just fractions of a second before a bullet whizzed past him and ricocheted off the pavement.

“Kiran, it’s a trap!” shouted Grahuth, but she was already onto the sniper. From her vantage point at the top of one of the taller tower blocks she had a perfect view of the sniper’s window and took them out with a single shot.

Grahuth’s shout, though, broke the serenity of the whole scene. As he rolled away from the sniper shot, the wolf turned and began reaching into his coat for some sort of weapon. Grahuth had more conveniently placed weapons, though. Still rolling, he gave a shake of his wrists, causing a pair of rapid-fire pistols to drop from his sleeves into his waiting hands. Before the wolf had his weapon halfway out of its holster, Grahuth had drilled a line of holes up the wolf’s torso sending him sprawling on the pavement.

Suddenly, the almost-silence of the square was completely shattered as a number of voices shouted battle cries and troops burst out of several of the apparently empty buildings. In a matter of seconds, Grahuth was on his feet, the sack back over his shoulder, making a run for the edge of the square. The troops seriously outgunned him and the pavement around him was being turned to dust by their gunfire. Only Grahuth’s supervulpine reflexes and a healthy dose of luck kept him from being riddled too. However, he wasn’t completely vulnerable as he ran; every few steps, he gave his thick, bushy tail a vigorous shake, causing it to release a number of tiny mines which primed the moment they hit the floor.

“Get down here!” pleaded Grahuth to his hidden microphone but, once again, Kiran was ahead of him. A loud “blaa-aart” of gunfire from above signalled the arrival of the zebra from her vantage point. Grahuth didn’t need to look back to know that she’d taken out a number of the troops. A couple more bursts took out most of the front line, attenuting Grahuth’s shower of bullets as the next line of goons had to step over their fallen comrades. This gave Kiran enough time to drop in and pick up Grahuth. Grahuth looked up, the moment the gunfire let up to see the zebra hovering twenty feet above him on a pillar of flame. She had switched her sniper rifle from single-shot mode to rapid-fire and was mowing down the surprised troops with sweeping arcs. As the front line fell, Kiran leant forward, causing the jet-pack strapped to her back to push her forward. In the process, she began to lose height and swooped towards Grahuth, levelling out several feet above him. As she came directly overhead, Grahuth leapt into the air and made a grab for the sturdy belt at Kiran’s waist. As he caught it, she gasped but immediately turned up the power to the jet-pack, hauling the two of them into the air and way from the miffed troops. The two GLAD agents had one last message for the troops, however, and just before they disappeared behind a tall building Grahuth detached a round object from Kiran’s waist and, with a nod from her, flung it hard, back into the square. For a few seconds, nothing happened. Then there was a loud roaring whoosh from the square and a gout of flame shot down the street beneath the flying pair.

Several blocks away, Kiran deposited her foxy passenger on the roof of an office building before landing beside him. They knew that, despite them having purged the square where the ambush had taken place, the multinational organization would be aware of its failure to acquire the object in Grahuth’s sack. Within minutes, every police patrol in town would be alerted to the existence of two wanted criminals: a fox and a zebra. To Grahuth and Kiran though, top-class members of GLAD, this was an almost textbook situation. The only way to avoid being captured when a large number of people is looking for you is to not be identified as the wanted persons. Normally, they would use a Cloak to avoid detection altogether, but in this situation, Grahuth had not been able to bring one for fear that, had the wolf been carrying a Bug-scanner, it would have picked up on the Cloak’s electronics.

So instead, Grahuth and Kiran were going to blend in with the ordinary people of the city. They knew that the police would be looking for a shifty looking fox and a blacked-up zebra so that is exactly what they had to pretend NOT to be. The two GLAD operatives lost no time in effecting their transformation. Grahuth would be the easiest to hide; being a fox he could hide in plain sight simply by looking like any of the thousands of other vulpines in the city. When Kiran handed him a folded pile of clothes he quickly changed into them and became an ordinary business man, ready to head home after a long day in the office.

Kiran, would be harder to hide. Zebras were comparitively rare and, no matter what she wore, she would be spotted the moment she appeared in public. It was a fact that they had exploited earlier in the mission but now that rarity was a liability. However, Kiran had one special feature that, despite its uniqueness, was the one thing that would help her hide. While Grahuth was changing his clothes, Kiran sat on the gravel that covered the roof, crossed her legs and closed her eyes. Over the next couple of minutes Grahuth watched, ever amazed, as the Zebra slowly began to change. One of the first noticible changes was Kiran’s ample breasts started to deflate, the two large globes melting gradually back into her chest. She also began to lose a few inches off her height. Other more subtle changes took place, too, such as her muzzle became shorter and narrower and her eyes migrated from the side of her head to the front. Grahuth marvelled at the process and, as always when he was priviledged to this sight, wondered how the rearranging bones and muscles didn’t cause Kiran incredible pain…

After about five minutes, Kiran finally opened her eyes again. “How do I look?” she asked.

Grahuth was seriously impressed. He’d seen Kiran’s shapeshifting ability number of times before, but she’d really outdone herself this time. Instead of the seven-foot tall zebra that he’d arrived with, before Grahuth stood another fox, just like him. The thing that really impressed Grahuth, though, was the fact that Kiran had shifted from a well-toned, female zebra, to an over-weight, male fox.

“I’m impressed,” said Grahuth. “What’s with the belly, though?”

Kiran smiled and placed her hand on her now flat chest. “These had to go somewhere!” Her voice was now much deeper and more masculine.

Grahuth grinned at the comment, then suddenly grinned even broader.

“What?” asked Kiran.

“You know, after working with me all these years, there’s one thing you should have learnt about foxes by now.”

“Eh? What? I’ve done everything, haven’t I? I even got the tail this time,” she said, showing Grahuth her brush.

“Yeah, you got the tail,” said Grahuth. “But I can’t say I ever seen a fox with…” He tried to stifle his laugh. “…with stripey fur!”

Kiran looked down at herself and joined Grahuth’s loud laughing. She was so used to seeing herself stripey that she’d not noticed that she’d shifted into the galaxy’s first zebra-striped fox.

“That’s easily fixed,” she said between giggles and gave herself a good, all-over shake. As she did so, her fur flicked from zebra stripes to it’s new colour scheme.

Grahuth took one look at it and exploded with raucous laughter. Instead of the orangey-red he’d expected, Kiran had changed her coat to Cheetah spots.

“You like that?” grinned Kiran, watching her friend double up in mirth. “What about this?” When she shook herself a second time, Grahuth simply collapsed onto the ground and rolled around, howling with laughter, tears streaming from his eyes. Kiran put her paws on her hips and pouted. “What’s the matter? Have you never seen a tartan fox before?”

“No… no more!” panted Grahuth, closing his eyes and trying desparately to stop laughing. “I… I give in!”

Kiran smiled triumphantly and shook herself once more, this time turning a proper fox colour. Grahuth opened one eye and slowly subsided. After a few moments, he staggered to his feet and brushed the gravel off his suit. He then stepped up to Kiran and, muzzle to muzzle (a pose he’d never quite been able to carry off before), said: “I’m not taking you anywhere anymore.”

Kiran grinned, planted a quick kiss on his nose and headed for the door down into the office building.

Chapter 4

While Grahuth and Kiran were completing their mission, the four other crew of the Cerberus, Polgur, Katarine, Siegel and Elisany, a thin, sinewy android, were sitting around a table in the corner of a dark, smokey bar.

Polgur and Katarine each had a large glass of some pale amber liquid, Siegel had a dark, sweet beverage and Elisany had a small, colourful cocktail.

“I don’t know how you can drink that stuff,” said Polgur to Elisany.

“What is wrong with it?” she asked.

“I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it per se,” replied the Weasel, “but my father always said ‘never drink any cocktail which changes colour on the final drop’. I’m sure it can’t be right for a drink to keep changing colour!” Polgur grinned as Elisany’s drink flushed from sapphire blue to emerald green.

“It is a mood drink,” stated Elisany. “It is supposed to do that. There are no harmful chemicals in it.”

Polgur scoffed; a high, squeaky noise. “That’s what they all say!”

“It is true,” insisted Elisany. “The cocktail consists of 53% water, 5.3% Ethanol, 0.3%…”

Exasperated cries from the rest of the group brought Elisany to a halt. Her silvery reflective cheeks reddened slightly and she apologised.

“The captain seemed in a hurry to go ashore, today,” remarked Siegel into the pause that followed.

“He always is after a long flight,” said Polgur. “I’ve always assumed that he’s off to do whatever it is Chaos Demon’s feel the urge to do.”

“Yes, and who knows what that could be…” mused Katarine.

Siegel grinned. “Maybe he’s had to go an torture some lost souls… or, or… Or perhaps he’s been pillaging some village or other… or.. or…” Siegel trailed off when he noticed the others staring at him. “What?”

“Carry on, Siegel,” came a voice behind the Weasel. “What else have I been doing with myself?”

Siegel span round on his chair so fast he slipped off and ended up sprawled on the floor, staring up at the captain.