Kita'thalla Ch. 07byBowoodstock©
Sorry about the wait guys. A combination of Spring Break plus a week or two of hell at school put me behind track. On top of that, had the worst case of writers block as certain paragraphs and scenes just didn't want to sit on the page right. There's a few spots in here that I think are still a little rough, but I think I got it as good as it's ever going to be. Enjoy.
Kita awoke to natural light filtering into the cave. Either the storm had passed, or she'd slept all the way through the night, she wasn't sure. She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and moved to stand, when the blanket slid off her shoulder, suddenly reminding her of her state of dress, or lack thereof. The events of the previous night solidified in her mind and she turned to see Eric fast asleep next to her. She watched as he yawned in his sleep and reflexively pulled the blanket closer to his body as her movement caused it to slide. Over and over, the previous night replayed itself in her mind as she stared at the alien face that had been mere inches away from hers, the fingers lacking claws that had given her so much pleasure the previous night. She still couldn't get it through her head that she'd let him do that. Never in her entire life had she let anyone get that close, not even other Ketrals.
Especially not any males.
But even as she told herself that it had been wrong, she couldn't silence the part of her mind that reminded her how it had felt. She quivered as she remembered the hand that had traveled down her back, right to her tail and...she had no idea how he'd known about that spot. And while she had no idea how human mating rituals worked, the way he'd drawn her face close to his and brushed his nose across hers, there was something unmistakably intimate about it. And even as she'd writhed under his touch, she remembered feeling something pressing into her stomach, just below her navel, very close to her...well, if that didn't indicate what she suspected, she didn't know what would. Although, it did occur to her, she still hadn't seen what he looked like completely naked. Yes, she was pretty sure she'd felt evidence of his manhood the previous day, but was there any comparison between humans and Ketrals? For all she knew, things might work completely differently and his biology might not be compatible with hers and...
By the First Hunters, what the hell was she thinking?
She looked away from the sleeping human trying to put the thought out of her mind. Mating...she'd tried to avoid it at all cost back home. Everyone knew what happened then. And yet suddenly she was sitting here wondering if a human she'd spent a few days with would be able to...it just wasn't right! And yet she couldn't stop her eyes from being drawn back to him, the blanket hiding everything that she was curious about. She wasn't sure whether or not she was grateful for that fact. A nagging part of her curiosity suggested that since he was asleep, she could probably sneak a look, but she quickly dismissed that. It would be embarrassing beyond all reason if he woke up to find her peeking.
Looking over him, she saw the pile of discarded clothes that had been kicked to the back of the cave. She was about to try and reach for them before realizing that any effort to do so would bring her into contact with him. Not only would it possibly wake him up, but he'd probably open his eyes to a very close view of her cleavage, something she guessed would be a little too interesting for him, based on her earlier observations. Well, he was asleep now, so what was he going to see? With that in mind, she slid out from under the blankets, doing her best not to shift them too much. The air was back up to it's normal tropical temperature, something she was very grateful for. She stepped around the sleeping human, crouching down to examine the discarded garments. To her dismay, they were still very damp, not at all in any state to be worn. Mentally she cursed, her tail reflexively flicking in irritation as she suppressed a growl. Her annoyance quickly shifted to a sinking feeling in her stomach as she felt the end of her tail brush up against something, followed by a groan.
Eric grunted, muttering and swatting at his face as something brushed across his nose. Feeling nothing, he decided it must have just been a bug of some kind, and since it didn't seem to have stung or bitten him, it wasn't a problem. Opening his eyes, he blinked a few times from the sunlight, noticing that Kita wasn't lying next to him anymore. Huh, that was odd. Maybe she'd left to take care of the call of nature, he thought groggily. That wasn't good, what if she was attacked by something? He grabbed the pistol sitting next to the campfire embers before slowly getting to his feet, the blanket slipping off of him as he stood. Wandering to the entrance of the cave, he looked out into the forest, searching for her, before realizing that despite the warm air temperature, it felt a little...drafty. He looked down at himself. Oh right. No clothes. The memories of the previous night came to him, and he realized that it would be really awkward if she returned with him standing here exposing himself to the forest. Well, he couldn't see her now, so he probably had time to get dressed. Turning back to the cave, he looked towards the pile of clothes they'd discarded the night before and...
Kita. Naked Kita. Eric dropped the pistol in shock, unable to move as he made out her form against the back of the cave. Even in the dim light, it was easy to make out the shape of her body, the soft curves of her breasts contrasting with the toned athletic firmness of her abdomen. He suddenly noticed where her golden eyes were focused on. While he was a doctor and was used to the sight of a naked body, in this case it took all his self control not to react as his mind wondered if there was any way that this could have been more awkward.
Kita wondered if this could have gone any worse. When she'd had realized he was stirring, she'd plastered herself to the back wall of the cave, holding her breath. Maybe if she was quiet, he'd just go back to sleep and she could resume her previous position under the blankets. At least he'd be expecting that. That of course, hadn't happened. She found herself unable to move as he stood and walked to the cave entrance, clearly only half awake. Move, she told herself, she could grab one of the blankets and cover herself. But her body hadn't listened, and now she found herself once again exposed to him, although this time her attention was quickly grabbed by something else.
Definitely a male. Absolutely no question about it. The member sprouted from a thick growth of hair at his groin, hanging limp between his legs. It appeared to be covered by a sheath of some kind, and behind it she could clearly see the fleshy sack that most likely carried his seed. Proportionally, it was about the same size as what she knew Ketral males had, but...it still looked very different from what she knew of her own kind. And on top of that, though she couldn't be sure, it seemed to be entirely outside of his body, which meant that either he was unable to retract it or...
Stopping that thought before it got out of control, she forced her eyes to look up at his face, seeing a wide eyed expression of utter surprise and shock. Their eyes finally locked and it seemed like an eternity before he spoke.
"...I uh...thought you'd left." he said, somewhat shakily.
She gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. "No, I'm still here."
He gave a slight nod. "Good. It would have been bad if you'd run into something...out there."
She returned the nod. "Yes. It would have."
There was another awkward pause before he spoke again. "Are those dry yet?" he waved towards the heap of clothes on the ground.
She shook her head. "No. They're still wet."
He nodded. "I see." He finally managed to break his eyes away from hers, and looked off to the side. "We should probably find somewhere to set them out. Let the sun dry them."
"The rocks by the river...they'd work. Out of the shade."
"Yes, they would." he nodded very matter-of-factly. He looked back at her, then down to the cave floor, forcing his eyes not to linger on her chest or the light fur that drew attention to the secrets between her legs. "At least the blankets are dry" he said.
His mention of the blankets snapped her out of the tension that had kept her from moving. Trying not to look too desperate, she quickly knelt down and grabbed one of the blankets, turning around to wrap herself in it. Behind her, she heard Eric move across the cave to grab the other. Turning after she'd finished, she saw that he'd made some kind of makeshift cloak out of the blanket, and was now looking considerably less tense than he had before. They stared at each other for a moment before he tried to speak again.
"Sorry, that was just a little uh..."
She shook her head, cutting him off. "Lets just get this stuff dry"
The journey to the river was thankfully uneventful, aside from the fact that they kept having to slow down whenever they reached a rough part of the forest floor. Kita saw that her earlier observation about his feet had proved correct, although it was clear his kind was not well adapted to rough terrain without the foot coverings they wore. The comparatively large, flat feet that he possessed were vulnerable to sticks, thorns, rocks, anything sharp. With that being said, she did notice it afforded him a better sense of balance than a ketral as it gave him a larger base to stand on. Several times he was balanced on one foot trying to find a safe spot to place his next step, without the assistance of a tail to counter-balance no less, something that would be difficult for a ketral.
Upon reaching the usual spot, they laid their still wet garments out on the flat rocks surrounding the small inlet. Kita looked down the river, noticing that despite the clear blue skies they were seeing now, the storm had still left it's mark. The weather from the previous day had knocked down several trees along the riverbank, including one that had been of an impressive height before the bank had given out beneath it. It had fallen clear across the river, with its gnarled roots protruding from the bank on one side and its skeletal canopy a tangled mess on the other. The river itself was also at a somewhat higher level, still swollen from the heavy downpour the previous day. Glancing over at Eric, she could see he was also taking in the changes to their surroundings.
"And you said that you'd seen worse on your home planet?" she asked, indicating the new bridge across the river with a nod of her head as she sat next to the drying garments.
Eric nodded grimly, taking a seat next to her. "Oh yes. Still, even in my book yesterday was bad."
"What's a book?"
Eric laughed. There were even humans who'd ask that question. "It's an ancient method of storing information before the time of computers. But anyways, it's just a saying. As for the weather, I'm just glad it only lasted a day. We're going to have to keep an eye out though, if the weather can change that rapidly."
She nodded, glancing nervously at the still clear horizon. "Even with the trees changing, it didn't give much warning. At least for now it's passed."
"Yeah, looking at the sky you wouldn't know what happened. I think it's actually warmer than it has been the past few days."
"It is. This is actually a lot closer to what I'm used to on Ketra."
"Oh really?" he looked over at her. "You did mention that it doesn't get very cold on your planet. Is it always warm there?"
"Well, it does get cooler in the nights, but only just, there isn't a great range between day and night. Even during the cold half of our planet's cycle, it never gets so cold that water becomes solid, even near the poles, except in the highest mountains. During the warm part of the cycle, when Ketra comes closer to our Sun, it gets much warmer than this. Even when it rains, it stays warm. In fact, in the past, the heavy rains of the hot season were always a sign of good hunting for our ancestors, as prey would be abundant near lakes in the grasslands."
"Sounds like a nice enough place to live." Eric said, listening intently.
"Well...I didn't say it was perfect." Kita replied. "It wasn't easy for the first hunters. A failed hunt meant starvation not just for the hunters, but for everyone that depended on them. There were also territory wars between cadres, the dry seasons, and great sicknesses. And as we saw a few days ago, no matter how much of a predator you are, there's always something bigger. We weren't the only ones out there. Thankfully we didn't taste good to the raktos or pachans that shared the grasslands with us, but they were often at odds with us for prey, and once the prime rakto of a pack declared a kill his, there wasn't really much that the hunters could do. Worse yet, they always marked their food with their scent, scaring off any other prey for a great distance, so not only would our ancestors have lost the kill, they also had to travel in search of a new hunt."
"Interesting." Eric replied. He looked at her intently. "You speak of all this as if it happened just yesterday, the history of your people. I take it they're important to your kind?"
Kita sighed, closing her eyes for a moment before looking at him out of the corner of her eye. "I suppose you could say that."
Eric blinked. He'd run into another wall with her. "That wasn't a clear yes or no." he said, deciding to see if he could get just a little more out of her.
Kita looked like she was mulling something over in her mind for a moment before speaking. "Traditionally, we place great importance on our ancestors, both those in the far past, as well as those that can be traced through each family line. It's because of their strength that we exist today, and we honor them for what they accomplished, and also draw faith from the strength that they passed on to us today. There are some families that can trace their line all the way back to a specific hunter from a cadre back in the old times. It's not common, but some of them even have remains from the hunters back then."
"You keep mentioning 'cadres'. Is that some kind of grouping?" Eric asked.
Kita nodded. "A cadre is a group of maybe ten to twenty family houses that would cooperate when hunting, as well as share land. The structure also serves to control and keep track of matings, to prevent inbreeding. So a ketral belongs to both to a cadre, as well as to a family house. The cadre itself is ruled by the elders of each house, although some have greater influence based on the success of warriors from their house."
"Wait..." Eric looked at her, raising an eyebrow. "A lot of what you just said was present tense. You mean that this structure is still in place?"
"...after a fashion. Eventually, cadres started working together as our population grew and land disputes became more common. I won't go into the details, but over the course of many, many generations of war, cadre unions formed, dissolved, some rose to great power, others were conquered, and throughout all the wars, our technology increased as each cadre sought to outdo the other. By the time we got tired of fighting each other, it only took a few generations for us to achieve space travel once the unions decided to work together instead of killing each other. Once that happened, Ketra came under the ruling of a single body, run by the leaders of each of the cadre unions. Since we're no longer a hunter society, a lot of the old traditions are no longer practiced obviously...but the old structure remains."
As she had been explaining all of this, Eric noticed that her voice had gone near monotone again, the way she'd been in previous days when under stress, and her eyes had focused on a random spot at her feet. One hand had also worked its way out from under her blanket to subconsciously fiddle with the long braid of hair that was currently draped over one shoulder in front of her. It was of a very impressive length, he noticed, past her waist when she was standing, and was much less threatening without the spiked bands in it. Returning his concentration to her face and their conversation, he realized he was treading on thin ice again, although he wasn't sure why.
"Kita, is something wrong? You didn't seem too keen on answering that last question."
Kita looked back at him. "Up to this point, no, nothing is wrong. I'm afraid however, that's all that I can tell you."
"You mean...you'd rather talk about something else."
She nodded. "Yes, if you don't mind."
Eric realized he'd probably reached his limit on that subject. Her body language and speech were very similar to when he'd asked her what her name meant, suggesting that this was one of those "complicated" things. "No, I don't mind" he replied, deciding he wouldn't press his luck.
"Thank you. So, tell me, what is your world like? You said yesterday was bad, but you'd seen worse? Is your planet hostile?"
Eric laughed. "Well, for a while it was. Early modern humans weren't very conscious of the effect they had on the planet. After a few centuries of industry, our planet had actually warmed up due to the various gases and chemicals that accumulated in the air. Warmer air meant more violent weather. It wasn't until someone cracked the secret of the sustained fusion reaction that we finally got things under control. Clean energy from water with only helium as the end result allowed us to stop burning what remained of our fuel reserves, and the planet has only just returned to what might have been it's natural state."
Kita nodded. "During our wars, we made a similar mistake. Much of Ketra was scarred, and today only a few areas remain as they were in the days of the hunters. The rest has been taken by our cities, and most of our food production actually comes from other worlds we have settled on."
"Sounds just like us, even if for different reasons." he replied. "In any case...Terra is a very mixed planet. It's tilted on its axis, so as it orbits our sun, the orientation changes throughout the cycle. As a result, while there is a very warm band around the center of the planet that is always closest to the sun, near the poles even ocean water is frozen. And in between, you've got just about every climate imaginable. Terra also has large oceans, and when you throw in the uneven heating of land and water by the sun, the weather becomes near unpredictable more than ten days in advance due to the air currents. Depending on where you are, this can mean anything from a breezy day or light rain, all the way up to thunderstorms, snowstorms, or tornadoes."
Kita looked at him in amazement. "How do humans live with that kind of weather?"
Eric shrugged. "Well, the truly dangerous weather isn't an every day occurrence thankfully. During the warmest parts of the year in Kansas, while it does produce storms and tornadoes, it's usually something closer to what we have right now, although it's not as humid. On my days off back home I'd be hoping for weather like this so I could go out and unwind, maybe play a game of golf or take a swim in the lake."
Kita looked at him sideways. "I know what swimming is, but golf? What kind of game is that?"
Eric chuckled, shaking his head. "You know, if I told you, you'd probably think I was crazy. In any case, I just might take up your suggestion from yesterday, best to take a swim while the weather holds out. And what's so funny?" he asked, seeing a smile appear on Kita's face.
"What's funny is that normally I'm the one asking for time alone. Now it's reversed. I suppose you want me to leave you alone? But wait," she indicated the half full holster sitting next to the drying clothes with an exaggerated sweep of her hand. "Because someone went and fed one of the weapons to a tree monster, we only have one pistol, and need to stay together."