"Of Shadow and Doubt"
By : R^ft



Sharpeye and Silver held each other a moment longer."Think we should get up now?" Silver asked nuzzling his mate's soft chest fur.

Sharpeye looked down at his mate and with a sigh "I suppose we should, Captain Yars will want a report on how close we are to the island."

"It will be nice to have shore leave again, me and you lying on the warm san..." a knock on their cabin door interrupted Silver mid thought "come in".

The young squirrel slowly creaked the door opened and poked his head inside "excuse me sirs but the Cat'tain is waiting on a report".

The two looked at each other trying to stifle a giggle. Sharpeye was the first to speak "Kyle you can let Captain Yars know we'll be with him in momentarily" "yes sir and sorry for interrupting"

Abacus sat down on the bed's edge next to Robert letting his tail lay softly on Robert's, then placed his paw on the sobbing cat's back and rubbed gently. Robert pulled his face from his paws and looked up at his raccoon mate the fur under his eyes and along his muzzle soaked in tears, with out a word he hugged Abacus and held on as he cried into his shoulder. "Another vision of the dark ship?" Abacus asked with concern in his voice as he patted Robert's back unsure of what else he could do.

"Yes and no" Robert sniffled an little before continuing "I had a new vision too." Abacus gently put his paws on Robert's shoulders and push him off of his own to face him

"are you sure" Robert only nodded weakly "you've never had two visions at once before" his voice sounding more of worry than anything else now. "I know but it is my burden to bear" Abacus let Robert fall back into his embrace and rubbed behind his head with his muzzle and whispered "as long as I'm here it will be our burden to bear, that I promise".

Silver and Sharpeye were making their way above deck. "So why did Maria and the Captain decide that we should have some shore leave anyway" Silver asked with a sly grin. "The way I see it the entire crew could use it with all the strange visions going around and I'd assume the Captain fells the same, but"

Sharpeye thought about the question stirring in his mind and then continued "but I'm not so sure about Maria's motives"

Silver smiled "Maybe she wanted to see what kind of mischief a couple of foxes could get into when they have no plots to course and a long beautiful beac..." a blur of gray fur fell to the floor as the two forms collided with a thud. Silver looked up at the shipmate that landed on top of him "Matthew, what's the hurry"

the young mouse quickly climbed back up to his feet dusting off his light grey fur and blue vest and pants. Matthew sputtered as he help Silver back up to his feet "ss-sorry sir, I w-was just he-head back to my cabin" and with that darted off before Silver had a second chance to question.

"You know if you keep getting interrupted like that we might not even make it to the captain let alone that beach and warm sand your looking forward to" the two laughed "Was he always that energetic or is that just the mouse in him" Sharpeye asked with a hint of humor in his voice.

"To be honest I don't know, back when we where on the Jezzibelle we never spoke much, he was rather quite and to himself. Now that I think of it he still is quite and to himself". Silver looked sad a second and then continued as they walked " I don't even remember him being with anyone since being brought into the crew, or him making any friends for that matter"

Sharpeye asked almost to himself " makes you wonder why he chose to come aboard?""No it doesn't, he did it to get away from his father."

"His father?!"Sharpeye looked to Silver for an answer.

Silver replied without turning to his mate "Langley". Sharpeye need no more explanation as the two finished the walk to the top deck in silence.

Rev looked up from his reading as a knock came on his cabin door. "Can I come in Rev?"

"of course Robert, please come have a seat." as Robert entered the room Rev could tell right away something was wrong. "Are you ok?"

"I saw the storm of clocks again Rev."

"I see you thing we'll have another visitor from the future."

"I'm not sure, I saw other things too. An iron bird with flames for wings and bleeding eyes, screeching as it dives from the sky." Robert swallowed before continuing "then I saw fire, water, and black blood swirl together and a flash blasting sea into the air, when it settled. It started to bleed"

"what started to bleed?"

Robert looked up from his lap at Rev's reassuring gaze. "The sea"

with that Rev stood up and placed his hands on Robert's shoulders and knelt down in front of him "again Maria and perhaps the Lord as well shows their faith in you, it takes a lot of courage to see the things that you do and even more so to share them".

"Even if I don't understand them?" Robert's ears seemed to perk up at least a little with Rev's encouragement

"especially then" Robert felt a little more relieved as he let a small smile show. Rev always had a way of making him feel better. "Do you think your ready to tell the Captain what you saw or would you like to talk some more first"

"I think I'll be ok, besides Abacus went to get the Brothers he thinks they can help de-ci-pher." Robert said the last word slow to make sure to pronounce it right and smiled a little more than before "I love it when he uses his fancy words. They make his whiskers turn in a cute way."

Rev smiled "we should get going then you wouldn't want to be late for your own meeting, besides you wouldn't want to miss Abacus use any of his fancier words would you."

Robert laughed the first time in days "good point lets go"

Matthew flew inside his cabin and leaned on his door, closing It quickly behind himself, he closed his eyes breathing out a sigh of relief. "Did you find out what I wanted to know or not whelp!"

Matthew's eyes shot open looking over to the white mink sitting in the corner half in shadow. "Roger I w-wasn't expecting you so so..."

"WHAT did you find out!" Roger yelled out as he stood up in one swift move

"I didn't find anything out yet" Matthew said meekly.

Roger was quick to move going to strike the cringing mouse in front of him then stopped mid swing. Roger quickly collected himself as the mouse looked up to see why he was still standing "you know your father would be proud of you, even trapped on this ship you still find a way to collect your own bountiful plunder" Roger spoke as he pulled a wooden block from the nearest dresser tossing it a short distance into the air and catching it again "but would your new FAMILY think so highly of you if they found out your secret" he turned the block to show its face to Matthew who already knew the scrimshaw carving all to well.

Knowing his defeat Matthew slumped to the floor "Their looking for an island we're to have shore leave."

"How is Yars getting everyone off the ship?"

"I don't know Maria lets them go when she sees fit"

Roger looked angry again, but calmed quickly "you've bought my silence for the moment, whelp." with that he tossed the bookend into Matthew's lap roughly "but remember if you don't find out what I want to know soon I will not be as kind." he said with a snarl slamming Matthew's door. Matthew on his knees sat there for what seemed like hours till he let a tear fall from off his muzzle landing on the bookend, it seemed almost as though the foxes in the carving were crying themselves.

"So we should arrive at the island within a few hours" Silver looked around the room as he spoke taking note of all the attendees of the meeting. Captain Yars, Ironbar, Sharpeye, Leoghann, even Sam was there as the voice of the Jackrats.

"Well it seems like we are on course again thanks to our fine navigation team. When Red spots the island you can inform the crew of the shore leave." Captain Yars finished nodding to Ironbar and Sam. "anyone have anymore to add?" everyone looked around without answer "well then I think this meeting is over, you all have you orders." everyone made their way out of the captain's cabin, Captain Yars, Ironbar ,and Leoghann bringing up the rear.

Rev step in through the doorway before the three could leave "Captain Yars we would like to speak with you if you don't mind"

Yars could see the small group behind Rev and foresaw the urgency of the situation "come in, have a seat I can already tell this is going to be a very long day"

"LAND HO" Red called out from the crow's-nest.

Ironbar looked to the Captain who silently excused him from the pronto meeting. "So what's this about Rev"

" well I don't think it's my place to start." the rabbit stated looking to Robert as he took his seat. Robert nodded and cleared his throat before stating.



"This is what you call an airport?"  Michael still trying to pull his bags out of the trunk looked questioningly through the back window of the cab at the still seated driver.

"Well can you think of a better place to land a plane on an island paradise besides a dirt field?"  Michael was startled by the second man that came up from behind, his bag slipped from the truck almost on cue and both Michael and his bags when tumbling to the ground. The man went over to talk to the driver then walked over to were Michael was still sitting dumbstruck when he called back to the driver "Thanks Manny"

"No problem Jack" the driver called back as he speed off.

Michael without getting up tried to scurry after the cab "HEY WAIT" he called out but the driver was already to far gone.

"You must be Mike, I'm Jack" Jack held out his hand to help Michael up.

Looking at Jake with contemn taking note of his saddles, surfer shorts, cheesy t-shirt, and cool guy glasses "thanks but no thanks that was my ride what if the pilot don't show up now I'm stuck out here in the middle of nowhere with a cheese ball tourist and my names Michael not mike." Michael stood up and started to dust himself of a bit, not that the dust could be seen on his ripped jeans, grey t-shirt or brown boots all of which were covered in paint stains. With a laugh Jack got Michael's attention again, Michael pushed his long brown hair out of his eyes and looked up at the annoying tourist "What's so funny"

Jack gasped for breath before speaking again "I am the pilot".



"It's almost like these uncharted islands Maria keeps taking us to are made just for her" Smoke said with a smile.

"All the better as long as the islands have these natural made docks, we won't have to row to shore." Treble leaned on the rail as Maria approached the small cliff on the islands edge.

"You to aren't going to get out of work completely there's still supplies to prepare and carry to camp, if you won't mind that is" Claude placed a barrel down near the growing pile of supplies on the deck.

"Wouldn't dream of skipping out on some good honest work" smoke said with a grin

"yeah we're hurt you would think such a thing" Treble add the sarcasm in his voice far from subtle "a matter a fact we where just about to get to that" Smoke looked over to the Treble with a wink and the to darted off nearly knocking over Doc on the way below deck.

"Why do I even try sometimes I think those two where turned into kittens, instead of cats. Why are you bringing your medical bag Doc?"

"To be honest I'm not sure Rev said I should bring it, besides I don't think it's a bad idea to bring it just in case anyway. Maria can protect use while we're onboard but when we get off we're on our own." The two talk awhile longer nether one noticing Matthew sitting in the netting just in earshot.



Michael shifted around in the passenger seat of the small plane when the driver hatch pooped open. "Are you sure this thing can still fly?" Michael asked as Jack climbed in and closed the hatch behind himself

"your afraid of flying aren't you?"

Michael looked back out the window "what gave me away"

"well the fact that you've been in a mood since you got here, besides your clawing a hole in my door handle and we haven't even taken off yet."

Michael released his death grip on the door looking back to Jack "sorry .... sorry about the cheesy tourist comment earlier too"

"cheese ball I believe where your exact words, but I don't mind. I've been called worse." Jack smiled as he started the plane. "By the way Angela will still fly, it would take an act of god to take us from the sky ain't that right baby." Jack smiled as he caressed the wheel then started to take off.  Michael losing his nerve quickly, trying to keep the calm Jack continued the conversation "so for a tourist you sure don't like tourists."

"I'm not a tourist I came to the island on business."

"so what do you do that would bring you to a paradise and not have the time to enjoy it?"

"I'm an artist, a couple of rich snobs on their honeymoon decided to hire me to paint a portrait of their vacation spot and I make it a point not to enjoy any place I go ... so I won't miss it."

"Well that explains a lot so if I may ask why are you so afraid of flying?"

"My ... my parents died in a plane crash six years ago I guess I'm still a bit freaked about it."

"sorry"

"don't be it was a long time ago besides we weren't on good terms when it happened anyway so it does matter." Jack was about to speak again when he decided to quit while he was ahead.



The last of the crew was grabbing supplies and making their way to camp with Captain Yars overseeing when Roger came above deck and went to disembark slamming face first into the invisible wall and landing on his tail. Captain Yars put on his captain face trying to stifle a full blown laugh "sorry Maria only lets those who she trusts to come back leave, and she doesn't trust you at all."

"Yars I swear if it's the last thing I do I will get even with you one of these days!" the resentment in Roger's voice undeniable. Then he broke his stare from Yars to glare at Matthew who was helping Duke with a crate. Matthew couldn't help but freeze for a moment almost transfixed with fear "was he going to tell" Matthew's mind raced.

"Matthew come on if your going to help keep up" Duke voice brought Matthew back to reality as everyone made their way to camp leave Roger behind ranting to only himself.

"Captain do you really thing it's a good idea to leave him onboard alone like that?" Ironbar placed his hand on Yars shoulder as they walked

"You and I and even he knows he can do no harm on the ship, and if he did get any bright ideas to take her he wouldn't even be able to raise the anchor alone. He's not the one I'm interested in anyway I plan to enjoy this shore leave as long a I still can" with that Yars put his arm around Ironbar's back.

"Yes Captain sir" Ironbar said in a mock military fashion with a broad smile across his muzzle.

"the howlers are planing a howl tonight I assume?"

" and I suppose you would like a invite from little old me huh."

"The thought had crossed my mind unless you would rather me find another Great Dane to show me a good time." Yars said with a smile swishing his tail behind himself

"of course not it's would be my honor to escort you." they both laughed aloud. Yars was doing a good job hiding what he was really thinking.

"Thank you all, I will keep all you've said in mind now we have some shore leave to prepare for, as you where."

"Thank you Captain" with the meeting adjourned everyone when to help with preparations, everyone except The Captain and Rev. Rev knew that Captain Yars would want to talk to him alone after what they had both heard.

Yars sat down at his desk with a sigh, shaking his head as he placed it in his paw "if what they say is true I fear I may have to make one of those decisions I hate this job for."

" you mean the ones where you give life where there would be only death?"

"No I mean the ones where I unjustly imprison someone on this ship to share our curse."

 Rev stood up from his seat "would you wish death on them instead?"

"No but to curse them is just as bad, I seems as though I lose ether way it plays out that is why I hate it so much."

Rev smiled " all of the crew and Maria trust your judgement and you haven't failed us yet. You should really reconsider the way you think about it, a good number of the crew have found happiness here that they may have never found anywhere else, that alone should give you some hope that maybe this curse we are all stuck with may not be so bad as a death sentence."

" you maybe right, lets just hope if we get some new guests they will feel the same way."

 Rev twitched one of his ears a bit as he made his way to the door and on his way out he turned back to the Captain " they may they may not but they be alive and that's all you can do for them. They must find their own happiness." with that Rev closed the door behind him.



Rapidly sketching in a pad the boy only looked up from his pad long enough to confirm a small detail then returned to his pad. "So what are you working on?" the man sat down on the grass next him looking over for a reply but not fully expecting one.

"Always the busy little bee." the man said ruffling the brown hair of the boy. "You did even pack for our trip."  He smiled as the boy didn't stop even to look up at him "some times me and your mom think we should have named you Sketch, it would seem it would be more fitting than Mike"

Mike looked up from his pad "Dad do you ever have doubts?"

"Mike we all have doubts from time to time, it's what we do about those doubts that defines us"

Mike put his pencil down completely now and looked to his dad "Dad I have something to tell you... I'm g.."

The plane shook violently bringing Michael wide awake instantly "what's happening" panic consuming his voice

"just a bit of turbulence, we ran into a small storm but it's nothing me and Angela can't handle. Have a nice nap?"

Michael didn't even have time to respond. Lightning struck the plane making the engine howl . Jack could see the wing lite aflame before the window turned bright red in an instant. Michael looked on in horror, the tail of the plane was ripping off and pulled a peace of conduit up and trough the driver seat. Jack looked down to see the other end of the pipe. Looking back up out the blood sprayed window his last sight was the ocean water rushing up at him.

Ironbar and Yars were lying in a hammock inside the makeshift Captain's tent. The two of them just holding each other when their relaxation was cut short. Kyle burst in "Cat'tain sir there's a storm approaching off shore, looks bad too."

"What so soon! I'm on my way, go get Rev, Robert, and Doc."  Yars dashed up getting dress. Kyle looked confused but quickly ran off to carry out the captain's orders.

"Do you know something I don't" Ironbar asked with a bit of confusion himself  

"no time to explain" Yars dash out of the tent running for the waterline.  Belfrey was already at the waterline facing in the storm's direction when Yars slowed to a walk "what do you sense?"

"it's odd captain to say the least, I've been here a few minutes and it hasn't move at all."

"What's so odd about..." Captain Yars stopped felling the wind blow against his back

"good you feel it too, I was beginning to think this belfrey had gone batty" Belfrey crack a smile "the storm should be blowing away from us." Yars not sure if it was a statement or a question looked behind him to see a small crowd forming to see what was going on. "If I had to guess Captain I'd say it was waiting for something. But what?" Belfrey looked worried. Then it came the howling screech that curdled the blood of the onlookers.

The impact sent Michael face first into the dash of the plane smashing the glass covering the many now broken instruments. He had to get out of the now flooding cockpit. Using all the force he had left he bashed his shoulder into the door budging it slightly. Sometime during the decent the tail of the plane came the rest of the way off. Time seemed to slow as Michael saw the wave of water come in from the rear of the plane. With one more quick desperate bash he was freed from the wreck.

Floating there stunned he saw two dark shapes move through the water with purpose, his eye had to be deceiving him the shadows were "otters". One of the shadow forms swam into the wreck Michael could see it was checking Jacks body for life and the other turned to him. Inside the engine the flooding wasn't finished as the water level raised it carried some leaking oil to a yet to be extinguished flame. Boom the wreak went up in ball of air flame and water imploding back in on it self. Michael watched as a piece of shrapnel flew from the explosion like a torpedo piercing straight trough the second otter who just disappeared in front of Michael's eyes, soon replace by blood filling the water then darkness.

The crowd on the beach stood stunned. The strange craft smashed into the sea and was now sinking almost as fast as it crashed. Robert couldn't help but start crying as he held onto Abacus "please let them be ok" he beg between sobs.

Diver and Riverfoot who were close enough to hear looked at each other and without a seconds hesitation ran for the waterline. Canem was the first to notice the two otters running and sprung into action followed quickly by Liyoht and Wolfy. The three tackled Diver and Riverfoot and held on for dear life as the two otters fought to get to the waterline. "Captain we have to help"

"tell them to let us go someone could be hurt" the crew silently turned to the captain who had not looked away from the crash and the rapidly fading storm. Second seemed to turn into hours, the otters still putting up a fight to get free until the blast all looked on as the slash shot straight out of the water.

Captain Yars was the first to speak after "GO".

The brothers let go, Riverfoot and Diver disappeared into the water returning moments later dragging a body onto the beach. Doc ran up with his bag to help leaning down to check for breath "he's alive, only barely" Doc then tore open the man's shirt to get a better look of the wound. Applying a clean cloth to the bleeding wound and around the jagged metal sticking from it Doc called out "Robert we're going to need something to slow the bleeding quick!"

Robert dashed off to get his herbs. Doc with a grave look on his face looked up to Captain Yars, who only nodded knowing what it meant instantly. "Ironbar we're going to need a stretcher quick!" Doc spoke with a aura of urgency. Ironbar ran for the Captains tent and Dice ran for the ship, Dice was the first to return with two stout poles followed by Ironbar with a hammock. Quickly they fashioned a stretcher and laid the injured man in it gentle. Rev was praying for the mans life the whole time he watched the crew take great care carrying him aboard the Maria.

"Status?" Captain Yars asked as he made his way out of Maria's cabin.

Doc was in the hallway waiting for him the exhaustion from the last few hours taking their toll as he lean against the wall "he's made it past the half hour and Maria is obviously trying to help him, but I'm not sure if he'll make it through the night." wipes his hands on his shirt as he continued "I'm not entirely sure how he's made it this far."

"You and Robert have done all you could, now it's up to Maria. Go back to camp to get some rest, Maria want's to concentrate on healing him tonight with out worrying about any of the crew."

"Where are you going?"

"To tell Roger to get off".

back onshore Kindle was having a barbecue in hopes it would raise spirts, most of the crew was involved by now. All sorts of food was cooking and Kindle knew more was coming, the ones not gathered around the fire were out looking for their own food to have cooked.

Mutt was the first to see Fang and Slash approaching spears in paws but no fish, instead Fang had a large black box he carried over by it's handle. Dropping it down on the sand "we found this while we were fishing, not sure what it is or how to open it."

Wolfy recognized it "it's a Vac-seal case, we sold these where I used to work. Their very expensive, airtight too, if I remember correctly there should be a concealed latch right about here." his paws found the latch and the case popped open.

Everyone looked inside out of pure curiosity, sketch books, pencils of all shapes and sizes, miscellaneous jars and tubes of paint and brushes, as well as a random assortment of other art supplies. Wolfy pulled out a ruffed up brown piece of folded leather from one of the pockets inside the case and unfolded it. Liyoht confirmed what Wolfy was already thinking "a passport?"

Down shore from the camp Matthew was sitting on a rock at the waterline. Full from the barbecue, he felt relaxed laying back on the rock looking up at the darkening sky as he let his foot paws soak in the water. Almost falling asleep he was startled by something touching his leg. Jumping clean on top of the rock he looked back down into the water. It was hard to make out from the dark water but there was another black case but this one was different.

Matthew pulled the case out of the water noting how much thinner but at the same time larger it was than the case he saw earlier. Running his paw along the surface of the case like he saw Wolfy do, he felt a small crease he pushed gentle and the case cracked open. Sliding out one of the wooden frames, careful not to hurt the canvas stretched a crossed it. Joy almost overwhelmed him, the image was so beautiful and peaceful it made him feel warm inside.

He carefully slide the painting back into the case and shut it quickly running to his tent not wanting anyone to see him with his new found treasure. He was inside, he was safe, then his blood ran cold. "Roger I"

"well, well, well, what do we have here can't even contain yourself for one day can you."

"I just"

"so what has my dirty little thief found out for me I hope you have good news"

"you've gotten off the Maria what more could you wa"

Matthew hit the ground hard dropping the case, blood trickling from his lip into his fur Matthew looked up to Roger "now that I'm off I'll just flag down the next merchant ship that passes by and get a ride back to port" his voice dripping with sarcasm. "how far do you think I'll get looking like this whelp!?" flashing his claws at the cowering mouse. "I'll give you two days to find out how I get changed back. If not well you know the rest don't you my poor little thief."

Roger kick some dirt into Matthew's face as he exited the tent. Matthew not bothering to get up he curled up next to the case and cried. He could taste the blood in his mouth he remembered what Doc said before about Maria's protection. He thanked god, Roger didn't get angrier and beat him to death. In a short time Matthew had cried himself to sleep.
    


White as far as the eye could see, just emptiness. "Is this heaven?"

"Well not exactly" the voice said with a laugh.

Michael turned around to see Jack "your alive?"

"Well no but your not dead ether."

"If this isn't heaven where are we?"

jack laughed "strait to the point, he said you do that a lot."

"He?"

"In time, for now back to the task at hand. We're in a blank canvas, look out there." turning in the direction Jack pointed. Outside of the canvas was a room, art a major theme of the room with no sense of order. On the bed sat a boy hugging his legs rocking back and fourth, he was crying.

"Me?"

"yeah we're in one of your memories, do you remember this?"

"How can I forget it's right after I told my dad the truth about me."

"Anything out of the ordinary, look hard."

Michael was puzzled but looked as instructed. Soon he started to see a shadow moving and it was only getting easier to see. "It's packing my stuff but I don't remember that"

"you wouldn't, you couldn't see it back then , can you tell what it is?"

"It's me if I hadn't told my dad about me, I would have been going on the trip with them. What is it and how can I see it."

Jack laughed again, brushing his hands on his white suit " there you go again getting to the point. It's a doubt shadow it shows you what might of been or what might still be but only if a doubt exists. But it won't be a fun thing to have, your doubts aren't the only ones that will plague you."

"How do I get rid of it?"

Jack started to walk away turning only slightly as he talked "you must resolve the source."

"wait what do you mean? Who is he? Wait don't go."

Jack voice seemed to change " he's waking up. Kyle go get the captain he's coming too." Michael opened his eyes slowly trying to sit up "don't try to move, your still healing" looking up at the buck and tabby behind him, Michael did the first thing that came to mind

"AAAAAHHH"

A drop of morning dew dripped from a tree landing behind one of Silver's ears causing it to twitch slightly as he woke. "Good morning beautiful" Sharpeye nuzzled Silver on the shoulder they were still laying back to belly on a bed of leaves a short way from the camp.

"Last night was great." Silver said with a smile "it wasn't the beach, but I think the woods was a bit more fun." Silver then rolled over and licked Sharpeye on the muzzle.

" Anywhere is fine as long as I'm with you." as he spoke Sharpeye rubbed Silver's arm affectionately

"I bet you used to say that to all the guys" Silver joked and they both began to laugh. Their laughter was cut short but a loud scream in the distance, their heightened hearing easily picked it up. They both rush to grab their clothes and get dressed.

Back at camp Kyle was running up to the captain's tent when Captain Yars came out "let me guess he's awake"

"yes Cat'tain."

Robert and Doc where trying the to pick up the debris in the room when Captain Yars and a small following walked in "What happened here?"

"Well Captain, he was needless to say a bit startled by our appearance."

"And he chased us out and barricaded the door." Robert quickly added. "Rather energetic for someone who was near dead last night."

"Maria did a good job healing him." Doc added with a smile.

Captain Yars walked over to the door and knocked "Hello Michael, my name is Yars and I'm the captain of this ship can we talk."

from the other side of the door came the response "o and what are you a platypus." Ironbar tried not to laugh "I'm not opening the door and how do you know my name?"

"One of my men found your pass... port in your bag."

"What do you want with me?"

"We only wanted to help you."

Michael leaned against the door and slid to the floor. "The crash you saved me?"

"Yes that and then some" Captain Yars said trailing at the end knowing full and well he would have to explain the curse to another poor soul.

"Is that why I'm naked?!" Michael asked in shock instantly getting the wrong idea, everyone in the room blushed a bit under their fur.

"No not at all we needed to clean your wounds so they wouldn't get infected" Doc explained.

Michael could see the medical supplies all around the room "so your not going to eat me?"

Duke leaned over to Dice with a smile "hard to make that promise on this ship"

Captain Yars glared at Duke, who instantly backed up into the growing crowd "no we're not going to eat you" behind the door Yars could hear a shifting then the door slowly creaked open. "Could I get some clothes first?"



"How long have they been in there?" Remmy ask as he helped Diggs with a supply crate.

Kyle looked down at the hourglass it was almost ready to be turned for the fifth time "almost two and a half hours, how's the packing going. Cat'tain wants to know the moment we are ready to depart."

Diver and Riverfoot came onboard carrying a long piece of cloth and poles on their shoulders "suits me just fine."

"Me too I've had enough shore leave to last me a life time."

"I can't wait to get back to our room for some R and R" Diver smiled "I do believe it's my turn"

"no  mine"

"no mine" to two argued all the way back to shore.

The door opened and Silver walked out with Rev and Michael. "Are you sure your up to the tour now, wouldn't you like to rest a bit." Silver ask with some concern

"I'll be ok I'm not much for staying in bed."

"Just make sure you don't strain yourself if you'll excuse me I have preparations to attend too." Rev excused himself

"what did he mean?"

"He's going to have a sermon tonight for your friend." Silver looked to the deck as they walked

"it's ok we didn't really know each other, besides I have a feeling he's not so bad off". The two talked the whole time Silver showed Michael around the ship and the tour was coming to an end when Michael asked "so your happy here?"

"Yes happier than I have ever been I don't know where I would be without Sharpeye."

Michael cringe thinking he was going to see a shadow but then smiled "you really mean it don't you? you've never looked back ether."

"Yeah we all need a bit of happiness"

"right about now a good shower would make me happy."

Silver tilted his head to one side and looked puzzled "why would rain make you feel happy?"

Michael let out a loud laughed "sorry I forgot about the whole past thing. In my time a shower is another way to bathe. Water falls from a small... hollow pole sticking out from the wall." Silver still looked a bit confused so Michael tried to explain in more detail as they walked.

When they came to a cabin door Silver stopped "well here we are end of the line. This is going to be your cabin as long as you like it to be." Silver opened the door both stood in awe the room was furnished with as any other room would be but with the addition of the many shelves and racks with Michael's art supplies and tools each in their own home. A large easel stood in the obvious work area and in the other corner was the real focal point of the room a small shelf protruded from the wall water cascading over the edge into a small square indent that drained through the gaps between the floorboards that seemed to be only in the indent.

"It's a shower. But how?" Michael looked to Silver for an answer

"I guess Maria must have been listening to us. Remember the Captain told you Maria does her best to keep us all happy."

"In that case I could use a window." Michael said with a laugh and Silver pointed out the large window forming on the other wall.

Later that night after Rev's sermon Michael was going above deck when he ran into the two otters. "O hello I don't think we meet"

"he's Riverfoot"

"and he's Diver"

"Nice to meet you" both said in unison

"I'm Michael, you're the ones who pulled me to land right?"

"That's us all right." Riverfoot looked a bit sad "we would have got their sooner if we weren't held back"

Diver elbowed Riverfoot and excused them both "we got to get going, I'm sure we'll see you around".

"Thank you" Michael tried to call out as the two quickly turned of down a corner. On deck Michael saw the captain looking down from the top deck at a panda who was preparing a small paper boat to carry a burning candle. Michael approached Captain Yars "who is that?"

"That's Tzo,  he's our resident philosopher."

"He's Japanese?"

"How did you know that?"

"When I was a kid my dad made me take marshal arts classes. The instructor made me learn the culture as well as the moves." the two watched as Tzo lowered the boat to the sea candle still burning "that's one of the many forms of honoring the dead that I learned about a much improvised version but it gets the effect." then Michael could see a second boat form from nowhere. Not turning to Yars, Michael asked "they told me if I wasn't brought aboard I would have died too?"

"It's most likely true."

"You didn't want to bring me aboard did you?" silence hung it the air what seemed like forever.

"No, I never do want to bring anyone into this curse"

Michael wanted to experiment so he asked " you felt the same way about holding back the otters, Diver and Riverfoot didn't you?"

Yars looked at Michael and then back down to Tzo, Michael could see two more boats and candles appear.

"Yes your friend might of been saved too if I hadn't let my fears get in the way."

"No you were right. On both accounts, Jack was already dead when we hit the water and I can't explain it but I know if you let Riverfoot and Diver go before the explosion, there would be four candles for Tzo to launch." Yars turned and walked to his cabin "thank you for saving my life too."

Yars stopped "you sure are trying to make me fell better about what I did to you."

"You mean saving my life and giving me hope?"

Yars laughed "your starting to sound like Rev."

"Is that bad?"

"No just the best listener on ship better watch out before you take his place." Yars smiled as he walked away.

Michael sighed as he looked down to see the three doubt shadows fade away and he smiled as he whispered to himself "the source" before going off to bed.

One day left, what was he going to do. Matthew knew he wasn't going to find the answer Roger wanted in time and he couldn't help but think how much everyone was going to hate him.

Michael was on the top deck sketching in one of his pads, Figuring if he was stuck here he would at least make the best of it right. Michael never noticed Matthew watching him. "It's now or never once they find out what I've done they'll all hate me. "I better ask while I still can." the young mouse stood up and brushed himself off and walked up to Michael with the most determination he could muster

"hel..lo can I show you somethi..ng?" Matthew stammered out the question. Michael looked up from his pad and smiled

"hello is it perhaps your name because that would be the best way to start things"

Matthew shifted nervously "Matthew my name is Matthew. I think I found something of yours. Can I show you?"

Michael stood up "sure where is it?"

"Follow me" Matthew raced off and Michael followed. Roger gritted his teeth as he saw the two of them go below deck.

Matthew lead Michael into his cabin "what's going on" Michael asked out of curiosity.  Matthew pointed up on the wall. Covered in multiple shades of pink, brown, green, blue, and yellow the canvas hung on the wall as if it were meant to be their. Maria had even made a frame around it to protect it. "My painting you found it?"

Matthew slid the slim black case out from behind his headboard "I found them all."

"Why did you wait till now to tell me." Michael looked to Matthew for an answer who didn't look up at him afraid he was angry

"I .. Just wanted to look at it a bit longer". Michael sat down on the edge of the bed and looked up at the painting

"you like it?"

"Yes I think it's wonderful."

"It's one of my favorites too I remember when I found that cherry blossom tree in the middle of the woods, it was so relaxing to lie under it and watch the petals fall that I decided to paint it just like that".

"I guess you'll be taking it back then?"

Michael thought for a moment then smiled "well if you don't mind I kinda think it looks perfect right there".

Matthew's ears perked up as he raised his gaze from the floor with a smile "you mean it you'll let me keep it?"

"Sure I mean you like it right and I've had it for long enough so it's your for as long as you like".

Matthew couldn't help himself but to hug Michael "thank you"!

Michael laughed "your welcome"

Matthew let go and sat down next to Michael. Felling a bit more confident Matthew asked " would you teach me to paint?"

Michael was taken back by the request he had never been ask to teach before only commissioned to paint "you want me to teach you?"

"Please" Matthew's tone almost sounded like a beg.

"Sure why not I've got nothing better to do" Michael said with a smile bracing himself for the second hug.

Michael and Matthew spent the whole rest of the day together and eventually made their way to Michael's new cabin / studio. A fresh canvas was on the easel and Matthew was making his first brush strokes the paint smeared along the canvas with a scratching noise. "That's ok, your just pressing a little too hard, you don't have to force it. Here let me show you." Michael leaned down next to Matthew and placed his hand on Matthew's paw admiring how soft the fur was. Michael guide his paw along the canvas, the brush strokes were smoother now. Together they keep painting both not noticing how much time was passing as they got closer and closer to each other.

They were both getting very aroused as the time went on, without realizing it Matthew nuzzled Michael under the chin bring him back to reality. Michael shot up from his crouched position and accidently knocked over some paint onto Matthew "I'm sorry I .. I got to go, you can use my shower to clean up if you like I just go to go I'm sorry"

"but wait I did mean to I'm" Matthew didn't get to finish before the door slammed "sorry"

Michael was Tring to clear his head when he felt his stomach grumble it was about dinner time maybe some food would make him fell better. In the galley most of the crew was gathered, Michael sat down near Sharpeye and Silver, Rev was close by too. Everyone there seemed to be in good spirits, all except for Roger who glared at Michael the whole meal. The diner went on pretty peaceful Michael was quiet throughout the meal thinking about how bad he felt. It wasn't till after the meal was over and the conversations started that Michael started to fell really uncomfortable, Doubt shadows were appearing and disappearing everywhere, some were large figments of people and others where smaller random objects.

Soon he couldn't distinguish one from the other and had no idea who they where coming from. Sharpeye noticed how frantic Michael seemed "are you ok?" Michael didn't answer he just got up out of his seat and bolted out of the dinning hall.

Silver tried to get up to go after him when Rev put a paw on his shoulder to keep him down "I'll go talk with him"

Rev walked into the small chapel and spotted Michael siting in the next to last bench. "Here to pray?"

"It's quiet here and I need to think. I hope it's ok."

"This is a house of the lord everyone is welcome here whether to pray or to think your still welcome."

"I hear you're a good listener?"

Rev raised his ears " I hope so with a set of these."

Michael smiled "you know I used to have a pet Rabbit when I was a kid."

"Really?" Rev asked as he sat down on the bench beside Michael

"yeah it's almost ironic really, her name was Faith."

"Faith that's an odd name for a pet."

"I thought it fit, back then she was the only one who really knew me." Michael paused before continuing "she was the only one I confessed my deepest feelings too... my sins."

"Sins?"

"She knew what I was before I decided to tell my father. We were going on a trip to Europe, the trip was really for me my mom and dad didn't really have an interest, but I wanted to see the famous museums. Before we left I told my dad." Michael paused not wanting to continue but he knew it was tearing him apart not to tell someone. "I told him I was attached to men that I was gay."

"And you consider that a sin?"

"I did I think but now I ... I didn't go with them on the trip. There was a fight, my dad didn't approve and I stayed home. They never made it to Europe, the plane crashed shortly after take off there was no survivors."

"And you blame yourself?"

"I guess part of me does. I've been running away for so long never letting anyone get close enough to miss."

"You can't blame yourself you were only telling the truth there is no wrong in that."

"If I was what my dad wanted me to be I would have been there with them, I could have done something to save them... I don't deserve to be happy." Michael broke down and cried, Rev tried his best to comfort him as the two sat in the chapel, moonlight pouring in from the stain glass windows.

That night Silver lie awake in bed thinking. Sharpeye rolled over to face his mate and yawned "still can't sleep?"

"I'm just worried about Michael, he doesn't seem to be adjusting well."

"He be ok I'm sure he only needs time and we both need some sleep."

Silver grinned and snuggled up with Sharpeye "I suppose your right". Maria rocked gentle and both Silver and Sharpeye where startled by a loud crash in their room. "Maria lights" as the candles in the room flickered to life, they could both see what caused the noise. Silver looked to Sharpeye with surprise "books?"

Sharpeye was just as shocked "but how could they fall with the bookends holding them?" Sharpeye trailed off as he realized the bookends where gone. "We should tell the Captain about this."

Silver seemed to already have an idea what happened but didn't want to believe someone on the ship was a thief. Why would they need to be? Why would they steal something so personal? How could they? So many questions.

By early afternoon the whole ship was in an uproar, Dice came forward also missing some of his own scrimshaw carvings, Darel was missing a small sculpture ,and even Tzo had some of his calligraphy journals stolen. It was undeniable now Captain Yars had no other choice if he was to maintain the peace. " Leoghann select a small group to begin searching. Leave no cabin unchecked until the stolen items are found. Until then everyone who is not part of the search part is confined to quarters".

Matthew was frantically pacing back in fourth in his cabin he didn't know what to do. What would they think. What would they do. He could only remember one other go on trial on the ship, Vermin. Matthew shuttered at the thought of the stocks, but then a worse thought took it's place "what will Michael think?" that thought made Matthew cry. He sat there beside the bed and weeping into the sheets.

"No need to cry, Whelp." Matthew's eyes shot open as he looked up to see Roger. "They won't find you out just yet, I still have use for you. I must say I am glade that it is working out this way. I will get to show you what they do to thieves and still get my information." Roger spoke with an arrogance in his voice.

"What did you do?"

Roger laughed at the poor mouse "think about it Whelp, Leoghann is like the Captain a military man, formal and systematic. He'll check every cabin one at a time and even in order."

"So they'll still get to mine."

Roger laughed maniacally "but first they'll search two decks up."

Roger grinned evilly and Matthew knew right away what was wrong "Michael"

Everyone except Matthew was above deck now, Roger watched as his handy work played out. He wasn't concerned at the mouse's absents, he would still learn not to cross him. "Where is the rest?" Captain Yars was stern his Captain masks firmly in place now.

"I told you I don't know, I didn't do it." Michael was claiming his innocents with determination.

"Then how can you explain the stolen bookend hidden in your dresser?"

"I don't know how it got there. I never took anything".

Captain Yars sat down with a sigh "the evidence against you is to great".

Matthew came up from bellow deck with a bag slung over his shoulder. Marching through the crowd his arm was grabbed by Roger "what do you think your doing whelp?"

"What I should have done from the beginning." Matthew snatched his arm from Roger grip " The right thing"!

Captain Yars stood again "if no one else has anything to add, now is the time otherwise I will be left with no other choice."

"Captain wait." the small voice called out and the crowd parted for Matthew.

"What is the meaning of this do you have something to add to this hearing, Matthew?"

Matthew put the small bag on the deck "yes Captain, Michael didn't steal those things." Matthew reached into the bag and pulled out the other bookend "I did".

A shocked gasp carried among the crew "but why did you do it?"

Matthew reached back into the bag again pulling out another block similar to the bookend "this is why Captain" handing the block to Captain Yars, who examined it. The crude carvings in the wood showed the lack of skill of the artist but also the determination as well. "I was trying to learn how to make the scrimshaws myself." Matthew gave the bag to Ironbar who put the remaining evidence on a table brought out for the trial. More of Dice's scrimshaws, Darel's sculpture, and Tzo's journals each with their own crude replications. " I was trying to learned how to make them all, I just wanted to be able to create something that was beautiful, something that brought joy. I really just want to do something with my life other than cause misery like my father". Matthew looked to the deck out of shame "I guess I'm a failure twice."

"How did the bookend get into Michael's room?" Matthew looked up caught of guard by the question he glance at Roger who stared furiously at him and then to Michael. Matthew tried to stay strong as he saw the look of disbelief on Michael's face, one thought going through his mind, "how will he ever love me now?" "I put it there. When Sharpeye found them gone I knew the cabins would be searched and I got afraid. So I hide it there in hopes to buy me sometime to put the rest back".

Michael didn't have time to move when he saw Roger go after Matthew with a fury he had never seen before but something was wrong, noone else moved. As the image of the white mink faded away, Michael knew Matthew didn't set him up he was lying.

Captain Yars could see the anguish in the young mouse's face but did let his captains mask fall away "Lieutenant Leoghann please escort Matthew back to his cabin. Mean while I will speak with each of the offended in private, in order to come up with a suitable punishment."

Sharpeye and Silver were the first to be finished their talk with the captain. Silver spotted Michael standing alone looking out to sea. Silver came up behind Michael "I'm sorry"

Michael looked back over his shoulder than back to sea "for what?"

"believing you were the thief"

"don't be, I would have too." Silver leaned on the rail next to Michael. "Rev says that he talked to Maria and because of what happened she'll let you leave if you wish, she might even know a way you can go back to your own time. It's a long shot of course"

"I've traveled all over the world in the last six years." Michael pulled a key from his pocket as he talked a small wooden tag was attached the number seven burned into the wood. "Every motel.. Er I mean inn I stayed at I kept the room key till I made it to the next one. It's funny I always felt it brought me luck till I got to the next one". Michael smiled weakly and sighed "I also promised myself when I found someplace I can call home I would throw it way. Silly I know but I guess I got to hold on to this awhile longer huh."

"So that means you'll be leaving"

"I don't see a reason to stay." Silver looked sad as Kyle ran up

"Cat'tain would like to see you now Michael." Michael turned and walked towards the captain's cabin stopping a moment.

"Silver do you ever have doubts?"

Silver stood up and looked in Michael's direction "Mike we all have doubts from time to time, it's what we do about those doubts that defines us."

Michael didn't even flinch, he just stood there "why did you say that?"

"I'm not sure it was the first thing to come to mind, but it seems true enough right."

Michael smiled as he walked away. Reaching the door to the captain's cabin Michael stopped and looked up "I think I got the message" he smiled "thank you" and went in

"I apologize for my accusations."

"You don't have to do that Captain, I understand you were doing what you had to for the best of the crew"

"I'm sure you heard by now what Maria is offering you, I'm not your Captain anymore"

Michael walked over to look out the window "and what will happen to Matthew?"

Captain Yars was afraid Michael might take an interest in the young mouse's fate "I have spoke with all the wronged parties and they all agreed on his punishment in each case. For Sharpeye, Silver and Dice, Dice will be teaching him how to scrimshaw. Darel will be showing him how to sculpted, and Tzo will be showing him how to write in his language."

"And me do I get a say."

Captain Yars felt bad for the poor mouse knowing Michael may not be so kind as the other having been on the ship only a few days. "Under the circumstances, I suppose you get your say as well." Yars said with a sigh.

Michael turned to the captain and smiled "then with your permission Captain I would like to continue his painting lessons."

Captain Yars was relived and taken back at once "you do understand what you ask don't you?"

"I do Captain for the first time in my life I think I understand myself more than I ever have before".

" in that case permission granted effective immediately, dismissed" Captain Yars said a smile creeping a crossed his muzzle as he watch Michael dash out his cabin.

Michael saw Silver still on deck and ran over and hugged him "thank you" letting go of Silver he pulled the key out of his pocket an throw it out to sea. Then ran down below deck,

Mutt came over to Silver "what was that all about?"

Silver smiled knowingly "I think that means he's staying"

Michael got to Matthew's cabin but went to knock and stopped. He could hear voices on the other side. "You think you won don't you. Everyone might know you're a thief now, but you'll still spy for me."

"You framed the one I love, I won't be your pawn any more! I'm not my fath.." a loud thud caught Michael's attention.

"I'm the only one on this ship you have left" the mink stood screaming down at the bleeding mouse as Michael burst in

"hey why don't you pick on someone your own size!" Roger wasted no time and lunged.

The fight raged across three  decks and out onto the main deck. Michael waved away anyone who tried to intervene "he's mine."

Kyle rushed to get the captain "Cat'tain, Michael and Roger are fighting"

"What?!"

Michael dodge another attack from Roger as he saw the captain come out "he's the one who set me up."

"Shut up and fight me"

Roger swung again at Michael skillfully who stepped aside "he's been blackmailing Matthew to be his spy."

"Shut up you WHELP!" at that moment two things happened at once Captain Yars saw the beginnings of what Vermin once was and Roger drew a dagger on Michael. No one had a chance to stop Roger before he could thrust at Michael.

Roger let his guard down it was what Michael wanted. Roger never saw the first kick to his stomach that knocked the wind from him, but he got full view of the graceful spin kick that knocked him out cold. The dagger landed on the deck with a clamor almost the full deck length away.

"How did you do that?"

"I told you Captain when I was a kid I took marshal arts classes." Michael grinned "I never said I stopped practicing." sudden realization brought Michael back to the task at hand "Matthew" with that he ran below deck.

Michael knelt down next to Matthew "are you ok?" Matthew nodded weakly "come on lets get you cleaned up".

Outside Matthew's room the crew was gathering, all watch as Michael came out carrying Matthew in his arms blood caked in his fur. The crowd stayed silent as they parted letting the two through.

Back in his shower Michael help Matthew clean up the water cascading onto his fur. Soon Matthew was feeling ok to do the rest himself. Then he looked to Michael then hung his head "I'll what till you leave to do the rest I know you don't want to be here with me."

Michael stepped up to Matthew putting his hand on his chin and raised it " now why would you think that?" before Matthew had a chance to reply as Michael kissed him.

Matthew enjoyed the kiss for a second before breaking it "are you sure?"

Michael just pushed Matthew back into the shower pulling off his vest in the process. "Would you just shut up and bring me into the crew." Michael said followed shortly by a passionate kiss.  Soon they manage to free each other from their clothes. Water splashed between the two of them as they made love.

Ironbar looked to Yars and smiled "you smell that?"

"what?"

"From that smell it looked like we're going to have that howl after all"

Yars smiled as he saw Ironbar stiffen it his pants "we're luck virgins don't come on board ever day we'd never get anywhere."

Matthew grinded Michael against the wall. Michael suspended in air between Matthew and the wall of the shower, he rubbed his leg along Matthew's own. He could fell the paw pads forming under his foot as the fur starting to climb his leg. Matthew nuzzle under Michael's chin as it reformed into part of his new muzzle. Tan fur creped it's way from the brown of Michael's thigh and along his thin abs and chest, Michael held on to Matthew, his paws grasping Matthew's back rubbing his shoulder blades with the fresh paw pads and combing the blunt claws into his wet fur.

Rocking to match Matthew's rhythm, Michael could fell his ears fall back as he threw his head back and cried out in pleasure. Hearing this Matthew doubled his efforts as he felt Michael's change tail hole spasm and the new fluff of a tail form to match. Both came at the same time sinking to the shower floor in each other's embrace.

"That was amazing" Matthew panted

"I think the howlers thought so too?" nether had the strength left to laugh as they laid there listening to the howls that carried through the ship.

Morning came and went, sometime during the night the two must have made their way to the bed. Matthew looked down at the dark and light brown ears and head draped across his chest. He used his paw to trace the dark brown down from the long ear and around the rabbits left eye. The rabbit stirred to life and looked up to Matthew, "how do I look?" he said with a smile showing his small buckteeth. the tan fur under his chin in sharp contrast to the brown.

"Beautiful"

the rabbit nuzzled Matthew chest "not as Beautiful as you I bet."

"Michael I ... love you."

the rabbit crawled up to be face to face with Matthew and kissed him "I love you, too." laying back down holding each other. "But if you don't mind I think I want to be called Sketch."

"If that what you want, I'll just call you Love"

"oh pet names now huh" both laughed until a knock at the door interrupted them. "Come in"

Kyle opened the door "the Cat'tain would like to speak with Matthew in his quarters."

Matthew looked to Sketch who comforted him "it'll be ok I promise, and I'll still be here for you after."

Matthew kissed Sketch one last time before getting dressed "I'm coming". Sketch got dressed shortly after with the new clothes he asked Maria to make him.

Sketch was standing above deck feeling the wind throughout his new fur. The orange vest and pants flapping in the wind as well. He leaned forward on to the ships rail as he heard the footsteps coming up behind him. "Thank you" Sketch did turn to the man as he talk.

"What your not even going to let me say I'm sorry first?"

"Do I need to you already did everything in you power to get the point across. I mean you gave me the power to see the doubt shadows, you sent Jack to talk to me, and you even planted thoughts in Silver's head." Sketch smiled "am I that thick"

"well in my defense the knock to that hard dome you call a head was what gave you the doubt shadows and how did you know about Silver"

"now who has the hard head? You're the only one I ever let call me mike, and we both know you were The Source... Dad"

"I always knew you were a bright one, well anyway I'm sorry for the way I acted it's your life and I love you know matter what. I want you to know, me and you mother still love you and we never blamed you for what happened." the man leaned up against the rail with Sketch as he started to fade away "there was nothing you could have done and we're just glad you didn't go with us. But we still want you to be happy and we miss you"

"I know I miss you too and I am happy now I've met someone, I think we're going to be mates, if he wants me that is"

"I'm glad your happy now, we love you and all but stay safe ok." the man smiled "we're in no hurry to see you on the other side just yet, o and no more planes ok." both laughed but Sketch stopped and looked to the man

"and the doubt shadows?"

" the one I'm embodying now will be the last and even that is fading away now." Sketch hugged the man who hugged him back as both quietly said their goodbyes.

Matthew walked up behind Sketch and gave him a hug from behind. Sketch let go of the rail and held Matthew's paws in his "what are you thinking?"

Sketch smiled and answered with ease "that I've final found someone to spent the rest of my life with" as he turned to kiss Matthew. They stayed there all day and into the night holding each other as they watched the sun set on the first day of the rest of their life together.



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DISCLAIMER : "The Ship", the characters and settings  are Copyright 2002-06 Socks Furrotica Press. Distribution is permitted in electronic format, as long as 1) the entire text (including this disclaimer) remains intact and 2) My e-mail address remains on the work (sockscatt@gmail.com) Permission is also given to print this text out for personal use. If you wish to include this story in a web site or for publication, e-mail myself (sockscatt@gmail.com) and we'll talk it over... This is (unfortunately) a work of fiction. It depicts sex. Lots of quite graphic sex between several genders and arguably a few species. Af any of this offends you, or anything vaguely pornographic bothers you, don't read this, and don't send me your nasty e-mail (I may enjoy it, you know...) Being a work of fiction, none of the characters herein are based on a real person And similarity to any person alive, dead, undead or unalive is coincidental, totally. However, if you see yourself or someone you know in a character be honored. You've been immortalised.