Original Story Concept by Socks & Bandit
Fanfic written by Canem
Edited by Wolfy and Socks
Supported and Assisted by Wolfy, Liyoht and Socks

Act II/ Scene I:

Ironbar: “Still regretting the act of bringing any poor soul that we come across onto this ship of ours?”

Captain Yars: (frowning as he looks at his partner) “Do I really need to answer that to which you already know the answer?”

Ironbar: “Yes I do, its become a part of my job description ever since you took up the role of being captain of this ship. You don’t like bringing anyone on board  because you know full well that after thirty minutes have passed, that they will be stuck with us and be subjected to the curse.” (he turns away) “And since you just told me what I needed to know, I would say that you do regret bringing those three young men on board.”

Captain Yars: (sighs) “I wish I wasn’t so transparent in front of you.”

Ironbar: (smiles) “Just another part of my job description, sir. Not as your officer, mind you, but as your partner. So what is bothering you about our latest guests?”

Captain Yars: “Everything it seems. Everything that I have seen of them and heard from them baffles me. They raise too many questions for me to be easy at all around them. If only they didn’t wear those strange clothes, talked so strangely, acted differently from those who came before them and came from that ship of theirs, I would have stoically accepted them on board despite my feelings.”

Ironbar: “But you can’t with these three can you?”

Captain Yars: “No I can’t. There is something different about these three young men that tells me that they won’t accept their fate on board this ship so easily. Something that says that they are different from all of the other people who came on board this ship and became a part of its crew.” (he shakes his head our of frustration) “Did you smell the fear and uncertainty that was coming off them?”

Ironbar nods his head to tell his captain that he did. The captain then begins pacing back and forth across his room with his tail a-twitching.

Captain Yars: (openly questioning himself) “Why are these three young men so different from the ones that came before? And why weren’t they so eager to tell us about who they were?”

He stops airing out his thoughts and looks at his partner.

Captain Yars: “And why did you have to bring up Vermin and his ilk into our discussion with those three?”

Ironbar: (smiling) “Well somebody had to warn them about the rat.”

Captain Yars: (frowns and then nods his head before sighing) “You were right about telling them that not everyone on this ship is into consensual sex. It is a good thing that he was too busy screwing with his men before and after the collision to take notice that we brought on board some new guests. Otherwise he would have been up top with us trying to lay claim on one of them as soon as they were brought on board.”

Ironbar: “Well he’s probably aware now that we did bring them on board. And sooner or later he will try to claim one of them when we least expect it.”

Captain Yars: “Of that both of us can be certain. Do you got anything else to talk about? I got some damn paperwork that needs to be done.”

Ironbar shakes his head to tell him that there isn’t and begins to head off to the door while the captain makes his way to his desk. Just as he reaches the door, Ironbar stops and looks back at his captain.

Ironbar: “I just remembered something that I should have told you the minute after Rev and Silver left with our guests.”

Captain Yars: (looking up from his desk) “What is it?”

Ironbar: “Well just as I was about to see Doc and those three young men we brought on board in their room, I ran into Robert. He had another one of his visions again.”

Captain Yars: (frowning) “Something bad going to happen to us again?”

Ironbar: “No, his latest vision seemingly has nothing to do with us this time.”

Captain Yars: (looking surprised and puzzled) “What do you mean by his latest vision having nothing to do with this ship and her crew? Whose his latest vision for?”

Ironbar: “Well believe or not, captain, but Robert’s latest vision seems to be for our guests this time.”

Captain Yars: (still looking surprised) “Something bad going to happen to one of them or all of them?”

Ironbar: (shakes his head) “Robert didn’t say. The only thing he told me about his latest vision was that it involved clocks and calendars running backwards while being blown about in a storm.”

Captain Yars: (frowning) “Hmm.. that is a strange vision and not at all like his usual visions of the future. And if it wasn’t for the fact that our newest guests aboard this ship told us about encountering a storm before the accident, I would have lightly dismissed it.”

Ironbar: “So would I, captain.”

Captain Yars: “Hmm... well if you by chance happen to run into Robert, send him up to see me. I would like to hear more from him on this vision of his and how it relates to our newest guests to the ship.”

Ironbar nods his head and leaves the room. The captain sits back in his chair and lightly taps a clawed forefinger against his chin as he tries pondering about his herbalist’s latest vision.

Fade out.
Fade in.

Note: Set at the same time that Captain Yars and Ironbar were privately discussing the trio’s presence aboard their ship and Robert’s latest vision.

Walking behind and away from the captain’s room with Rev and Silver, the trio looks at each other in confusion still before closing the gap between them and the two anthros in front of

Dave: “Rev? Silver?”

Rev and Silver turn around to look at Dave and his friends.

Rev: “Yes, Dave, what is it?”

Dave: “If it isn’t too much to ask of you two, my friends and I would like to know how you two became what you are now. Umm... please?”

Silver looks to Rev first with a questioning look about who should answer him first.

Rev: “Why don’t you go first, Silver, and tell them about how you became a fox.”

Silver nods his head and beckons the trio to stand next to him in the hallway.

Silver: “My life as a fox aboard this ship started a couple of months ago when the ship that I originally served on, the Jezzible, came across the Maria in open water. When my former captain, Captain Langley, saw the Maria he thought she would be easy pickings. A simple raiding and pillaging job. But when the Jezzible got closer to the Maria, both captain and crew, myself included, were surprised to see that the other ship’s crew weren’t even human.” (he smiles) “What we saw were some of Vermin’s Jackrats, taunting us, daring us to come over and take them on. Which my captain happily obliged them with. The Jezzible’s crew boarded her and fought Vermin’s men to a stand still until Captain Yars willingly surrendered the ship to Captain Langley and his men. At the time I was just a cabin boy and high ropes man. I didn’t participate in the fight, nor the party that my former captain threw in our honor of capturing the Maria.”

Mike: “So what happened after this Captain Langley and his men took over the Maria and partied?”

Silver: (chuckles and smiles) “They got drunk, which is what Captain Yars wanted them to do.  And once they were thoroughly drunk as skunks, the captain and his men just rounded them up and threw them into the ship’s brig. Shortly afterwards, my mentor and partner, Sharpeye, came to see us in the brig. He sprung me out on the pretense that I was going to be dinner for his crew.”

Jeff: (smiling) “But you weren’t going to be, were you?”

Silver: “Nope, Sharpeye sprung me out of the brig because he had seen me during the fight between the Jackrats and the crew of my former ship and took note on how I acted.” (smiles shyly) “And he wanted to know how a man of my character was hanging around a bunch of pirates. I told him why and then he took me on a little tour of the ship. After the tour he took me to his quarters where through some intimate foreplay followed by some very good sex, he made me into what you see before you. And oh by the way, before I became a fox, my original name was Joseph.”

Mike: “So what was it like to have sex with another male and to become the way you are now? Its kind of hard for my friends and I right now as to how could you go through the act of having sex with another guy let alone a guy with a fur coat and tail.”

Silver: “Yes, it was kind of hard for me too to except the idea of having sex with another guy who just happened to be a fox. I was hesitant at first with Sharpeye, but the more intimate he became with me, the easier it was for me to accept the idea. It just felt like having sex with him was the right thing to do.” (smiles) “As for being a fox now, its kind of hard to describe. Believe me you have to experience what’s it like for you to understand it.”

Dave: (looking slightly incredulous) “The act of having sex with another guy made you feel like it was the right thing to do?” (shakes his head in puzzlement) “I am sorry, Silver, but I am having a hard time believing that bit of your story.”

Rev: “No need to apologize, Dave. What Silver experienced back then is one of those things that can’t just be easily told to someone else and have them accept it at face value. Its just something that you have to experience. As for how easily Silver accepted the idea of having sex with another male, well Maria has a way of subtly encouraging newcomers into accepting things that they wouldn’t normally not even consider doing.”

Dave: “So she encourages the people who come aboard her to have sex and become an animal like you and Silver here? Why would she do something like that?”

Mike: “And how come she does it? I think I can understand the sex part, but the transformation part still mystifies me.”

Silver looks to Rev on that question.

Rev: “First off you three, Maria doesn’t do what she does to those who come aboard her and live on her out of any sense of malice. She does it because she wants any newcomer to board her to be happy.”

Dave: “How does being transformed into an animal supposed to make you happy?”

Rev: (smiles faintly) “I am afraid that I can’t answer that Dave until you get to experience your own transformation. Mere words from me aren’t going to satisfy you on this question of yours. But what I can tell you is that she treats us fairly and gives us whatever we need to lead comfortable yet fulfilling lives aboard her.”

Jeff: “But doesn’t what she has done to you and your crewmates make you feel less like a person and more like some pampered pet, that you’re all stuck in some gilded cage?”

Rev: “Not at all, Jeff. I am still a person under all of this fur and don’t feel less of a person than I was before my transformation into a rabbit. As for my crewmates, most of them don’t see their stay on board this ship that way either.”

Dave: “And how do you know that she isn’t treating you and the others like pampered pets?”

Rev: “Because I have talked with her from time to time.”

Mike, Dave and Jeff stare at him with surprise.

Rev: (smiles) “Its true, I do talk with her. She’s just as alive and aware as we are.” (he notes their growing confusion) “Perhaps when you three have finally settled into your new lives aboard this ship, I’ll take you to see and talk to her yourselves.”

Mike + Dave + Jeff: (look bemusedly at one another and then at him) “Ok.”

Mike: “So how did you become a rabbit priest? And how can you be a priest and openly accept the sexual actions of the crew as easily as you can?”

Rev: (smiles) “Unlike Silver and perhaps most of the crew here, I became what I am because of my faith in God. And because I believed that God had brought me to this ship for a reason.” (looks at Mike) “As for how I can be a man of god and still accept the sexual actions of my crew, I can do it because I happen to be more open-minded than my fellow men of the cloth. I see nothing wrong in what my crewmates do in their spare time.”

Dave looks at him skeptically and frowns.

Rev: (smiles) “You don’t believe me, do you , Dave, about my reason for being here?”

Dave: “Not for your reason for being here, Rev. That I can’t refute in a convincing way. Its your belief in God and how you think he brought you here that I am skeptical about.”

Rev: “You don’t believe in God?”

Dave: “No I don’t. I believe in the things that I can experience with my own senses. And that’s all I going to tell you about what I do and do not believe in. No offense.”

Rev: “None taken.”

Rev smiles at him for his stubbornness and looks to Jeff to see if he feels the same way Dave does about his reason for being here. But Jeff doesn’t offer him any words on the matter.

Rev: (turns to Mike) “Like I said before, I am a very open-minded person when it comes to what religion says or doesn’t say about what I should accept regarding the actions of other people. People should be who they are no matter what other people think of them. Tell me something, Mike, are you a religious man?”

Mike: “I am a Christian if that’s what you mean.”

Rev: “And do you have any problems accepting the notion of two or more men being intimate with one another beyond the point of simply being friends?”

Mike: (smiles) “Well like you, I am just as open-minded as you are on the intimate acts between guys. I don’t readily believe what the Bible says about homosexuality.”

Rev: (smiles wistfully) “That’s good to hear from you, Mike. Our world as a whole would be a better place if there were more people like you around who are open-minded and  read the bible as a guide, not as law.”

Both Mike and Dave nod their heads in agreement to Rev’s comment but for very different reasons.

Rev, Silver and the trio find themselves back at the room that they had awakened in and had come face-to face with the crew. They walk inside after Rev and Silver and find that their room has been redecorated with stuff from their old ship. Dave, Mike and Jeff see some of their personal effects mixed in with items left by the crew of their old ship. Rev politely chuckles and Silver smiles as they walk away from them to view the contents of their room.

Rev: “Well judging by your reactions, I take it that you three are pleased with the change in your living quarters? While you three were unconscious after the accident between both our ships and being brought on board, the captain and I had decided to have your stuff brought on board.”

Mike: “Thank you, Rev. But why did you and the captain have our stuff brought up here in the first place?”

Rev: “Pretty much to help you three settle in?”

Jeff: “And this room is going to be our quarters from now on?

Rev: “Maybe, but that depends on what species of animal you three might become. Some of the crew like the Howlers or the Jackrats who are social by nature live communally in the same room. While other members of the crew who aren’t canines or rodents get their own space.”

Dave: “So this room might be a temporary thing for us then?”

Rev: “Exactly.”

Dave: “Well just the same, I want to thank you for what you and the others have done for us with this room.”

Jeff: “Same here.”

Rev: “You three are very welcome then.”

Silver: “Just to let you three know, we also brought on board your food stuff and put them into our ship’s galley.”

Mike: “Thanks.”

Rev: “Well Silver and I will leave you three alone now. So I hope you three will have a good night’s rest and we’ll see you in the morning.”

Mike: (smiling sheepishly) “I do hope that we do get a good night’s rest. You and the rest of the crew have given us a lot to think about.”

Rev: (nods his head) “We know and if what we have given you troubles you, the door to my quarters is open should you three need some kind of guidance from me.”

Mike: “I just might take you up on that offer, Rev.”

Rev: (smiles) “Good, now good night you all and get some shut eye. Tomorrow is going to be a big day for you three.”

He leaves the room.

Silver: (looking at each of the trio in turn) “Before I leave you guys to a good night’s rest, are any of you interested in seeing the rest of the ship tomorrow?”

Dave: “I wouldn’t mind taking a tour of this ship.” (he turns to his friends) “How about you guys?”

Both Mike and Jeff nod their heads in agreement.

Silver: “Then its settled. Good night, you three.”

Dave: (feeling self-conscious) “Wait a minute, Silver. I just remembered a question that’s been nagging me ever since we came back from the captain’s quarters.”

Silver: (cocking an ear inquisitively) “What kind of question, Dave?”

Dave: “Well...” (looking at his friends and then at Silver) “Is it just me or does the interior of this ship look somehow bigger than what it should be for a ship this size?”

Mike: “You know I got that feeling too when we were walking. That the ship’s hallways extended far beyond what we saw of the outside prior to our accident with this ship.”

Silver: (smiles) “You guys weren’t imagining things. Maria does very well appear to be larger on the inside than out.”

Dave: “Really, huh? Has anyone ever tried to figure out why the ship is bigger on the inside than the out?”

Silver: “I’ve tried to on and off ever since I am became part of the crew and I still can’t make sense of why Maria is like this way.”

Dave: “Well perhaps its because the interior of this ship doesn’t exist on Earth, maybe it exists in another dimension.”

Silver: (looking puzzled) “Come again?”

Dave: “Forget about what I just said about the ship’s interior, it would take too long to explain.”

Silver: (shrugs) “Okay, I will. Good night you three, see you in the morning for that tour.”

Silver leaves them and closes the door behind him. Shortly after the door closes, the trio walk over to one of the beds in the room and sit down together. And for a minute each looks like they are lost in their own thoughts.

Dave: “So should we go to bed right now or does anyone here have anything to say about what we just went through here in the past couple of hours?” (he looks at Mike and Jeff)

Mike: “I am up for some shut eye, if its all the same for you guys. I.. just don’t feel like talking about how we got here or what’s in store for us.”

Dave: “You sure, Mike?”

Mike: “I am sure, Dave, just as sure as you really don’t want to talk about it either. At least not yet at any rate.”

Jeff: “Not even if the subject is about us meeting our first real-life anthros, Mike?”

Mike: (sighs) “I am not eager to talk about meeting our first real-life anthros, or how we might have ended up in the past or some whacked-out reality. I just want to get some sleep.”

Dave: “Okay, Mike. And Mike?”

Mike: “Yes, Dave?”

Dave: “You’re right about me not wanting to talk about our current run of experiences. I am also not very eager to talk about what it is going to be like for us to become anthros ourselves. Right Jeff?”

Jeff: “Right. And like Rev and the others said to us, we got plenty of time to deal with our current predicament. Good night, you guys.”

Mike and Dave say good night to him, get up and wander over to their own beds. And soon sleep claims all three of them for the night.

Fade Out.
Fade in.

Act II/ Scene II:

After a couple of hours fitful sleeping, the next morning for the trio is heralded by a knock on the door. Dave groggily stumbles out of his bed and goes to open the door while his friends go about waking themselves up. He opens up the door to find Silver and a dog of mixed lineage standing outside their door with several trays of food.

Dave: (trying to stifle a yawn) “Hello again, Silver. (looks at the other dog) “Who’s your friend?”

Silver: (smiling slightly while looking at his crewmate) “This is Kindle, he’s here to help me escort you and your friends around the ship for the tour. Kindle, this is Dave”

Kindle nods his head in greeting.

Silver: “Are you guys up for some breakfast?”

Dave looks back into the room behind him.

Dave: “Sure, just give my friends and I a few minutes to freshen up.”

Silver nods his head and a few minutes later, Mike opens up the door again to let them in. Silver and Kindle walk in and set up the platters of food on the room’s only table. The trio joins them at the table for breakfast and eye the platters of meats, breads and fruits set before them with flagons of water and juices.

Mike: “Wow.” (he looks at Kindle and Silver) “I didn’t think that sailing ships had food this good enough to eat.”

Jeff: (scooping some scrambled eggs onto his plate) “Yeah I’ll say, where did you guys come up with such mouth-watering food anyway?”

Dave: (smiling) “I agree with Jeff, where did you guys get this food anyway? Not from some civilized port or island I’d say given what we have been told about the nature of this ship.”

Kindle: (smiling) “Well believe it or not, all of this food before you is from Maria.”

Dave: “Really?”

Silver: “Really. Like Rev told you last night, Maria supplies us with everything that we need to be happy. She supplies us with clothing, food, water and any piece of equipment that we need to keep her and us going.”

Mike: “Okay, then where does Maria get the stuff you need to live here comfortably?”

Silver: (smiles sheepishly) “We really don’t know, Mike. All we know is that if we ask her to do something for us, she’ll supply us with it.”

Kindle: “Maria is also capable doing other things as well as giving us sustenance.”

Dave: “Like what?”

Kindle and Silver look at each other and smile.

Kindle: (looks over at Mike and Dave’s beds) “Maria, can you please combine Mike and Dave’s bed?

The trio watches with surprise as the two beds roll effortlessly and silently toward each other. The two beds touch each other and within minutes, a single king-sized bed rests in their place.

Mike: (still looking surprised) “So... so Maria can alter the size and shape of a room as well as any piece of furniture inside of her?”

Silver: (smiling) “Yes she can. Maria can you create a dresser  and some cabinets for their clothing and gear?”

As before, the trio watch with surprise and now awe at the sight of some dressers and cabinets forming out of the very walls of the ship. And within minutes, three cabinets and two dressers rest against two of the walls in the room. And the show doesn’t end there for the trio as they watch their clothing and gear get whisked by unseen hands into the cabinets and dressers. Silver and Kindle look at each other again, smile and then look back at the astonished trio.

Dave: “Whoa, talk about room service.” (he smiles before turning back to Kindle) “I see what you mean by Maria’s capability to make her crew happy. So does she actually make the food the way someone wants it?”

Kindle: (smiling) “No she doesn’t, she merely supplies us the food and drink we need and allows us to cook it the way we like.” (he looks at the trio as they eat) “So how’s the food I made for you guys?”

Mike: (looking surprised again) “You cooked this breakfast?”

Kindle: “Yes.”

Mike: “The food is great, thanks.”

Dave and Jeff: “Ditto on that, Kindle.”

Kindle: (smiles) “Thanks guys, I am glad that you like breakfast.”

Dave: “So Kindle, what were you like before you became a dog?”

Kindle: “Umm.. I rather not talk about it yet.”

Silver: (backing Kindle) “Kindle here had a really rough beginning on  Maria before he managed to finally settle in with his partner, Mutt.”

Kindle : (Hurried, sounding embarrassed)   “We're not partners.”  (Silver looks at him confused.)   “We just sleep together a lot.”  (Silver looks with one eye closed.)   “Well, all the time. But we're not mates or anything.  Just really good friends.”

Dave: “Nothing like my friends and I are about to go through, right?”

Silver: (looking at Kindle and then at Dave) “No, nothing like that at all. He just had a bad run-in with Vermin, that’s all.”

Kindle: (finishing up his plate) “So are you guys up for the tour?”

Mike: “Yes, we are still interested in checking this ship out.”

Silver and the trio finish off their breakfasts and get up from the table.

Jeff: “I take it that Maria will handle the dirty dishes?”

Kindle: (smiling at Jeff’s light-heartedness) “Thank goodness that she does.”

All of them leave the room and walk down several decks to where Silver and Kindle begin their tour. They are shown supply rooms, several cargo holds and the brig. A deck later, Kindle shows them where the ship’s galley and the supply room where he receives most of the ship’s supply of foods and drinks from Maria. Another deck and they are shown some of the quarters belonging to the ship’s crew. They are also introduced to some more of the crew going about their business. Several minutes later, the trio is taken the ship’s middle decks and shown some more crew quarters and the communal den of the Howlers. Kindle shows them the inside of the Howlers’ communal den and the trio is greeted by the sight of several dogs of different breeds, both naked and clothed, going about their business. Kindle smiles as he catches Jeff’s intense interest as Jeff looks around at his fellow Howlers.

Mike: (after he steps out of the Howlers’ den) “Hey, Silver?”

Silver: “What is it, Mike?”

Mike: “Why did you and Kindle steer us away from one of the rooms down below?”

Kindle and Silver look at each other.

Kindle: “That room we steered you three away from is the communal nest for Vermin and his Jackrats. And believe me, that’s one room you three don’t want to go into. Not if you want to stay human or become some other animal other than a rat.”

Dave: “Last night Ironbar told us that Vermin and his bunch aren’t into consensual sex. Was there something more that wasn’t told to us during our talk with the captain?”

Mike: “And what this about becoming a rat instead of some other animal”

Kindle: (sighs) “Unlike the rest of us aboard the Maria who became different animals at random, Vermin has this ability to make more rats like himself through rape and torture.

Dave: “You’re kidding right? He rapes someone and they become a rat?”

Kindle: (hangs his head down) “I am not kidding, Dave. For you see before I became a dog, I was one of his rats.”

Silver comes up behind Kindle and affectionately places his hand on Kindle’s left shoulder. Kindle sighs.

Silver: “This is why when we were back in your room that he didn’t want to talk about his past. He was once one of Vermin’s Jackrats before an accident during one stormy night freed him from Vermin’s control. He changed back into his human self days after the accident which freed him...”

Kindle: “And then my friend, Mutt (he smiles softly) brought out what I was meant to be before Vermin laid his grimy paws on me. He made into a dog.”

Jeff looks to his friends before offering Kindle a reassuring pat on his other shoulder. Kindle smiles at him.

Dave: “I am sorry Kindle for digging up that old wound of yours. I.. didn’t mean to.”

Kindle leaves Jeff and Silver behind and walks to Dave. He places his hands on Dave’s shoulder and looks down at him before smiling.

Kindle: “Its okay, Dave. You were just curious about wanting to know what it was like for me to be a dog, that’s all.” (he looks at Silver) “Silver here told me about how you three had asked him and Rev about their pasts. And I figured that one of you was going to ask me the question. I just didn’t feel if I was ready to answer it back then.”

Dave: “No hard feelings?”

Kindle: “No whatsoever.”

Silver: “Well since we are on the topic of the Howlers and the Jackrats, you three should know that they are Maria’s second line of defense against any attacks brought against her by pirate ships and their crews.”

Kindle: (smiling at Silver’s comment) “And when they aren’t protecting us from any outside danger, they like to compete in an on-again, off-again rivalry that has on occasion erupted into all-out brawls.”

Jeff: “Really? Gee the captain must love it when you guys trash the ship.”

Kindle: (chuckling) “Oh yes, remind me next time to tell you three about what the Howler-Jackrat brawl is like sometime. Now let’s get back onto the tour, okay?”

Everyone chuckles at his comment.

All of them go back to being silent and resume their tour of the ship. Several more minutes pass by for the trio and soon their tour takes them above decks where they are greeted by the sight of the crew going busily about their duties.

Silver: “And last on our tour of the ship is the bridge where...”

His speech about what was next on their tour is interrupted by the sight of Vermin and several of his henchman coming up from another of the below decks stairways. And all over the top deck of the ship, the sound of the crew at work comes to an abrupt halt.

Fade out.
Fade in.

Act II/ Scene III:

Before Kindle or Silver can react at all toward Vermin’s appearance in front of him, the rat steps in front of his men and looks up and down at the trio with a speculative eye. Mike, Dave and Jeff take a step back from Kindle and Silver and eye one another and the rat. Their facial expressions mirroring one another as they get the feel of what a prized stud animal must feel like as it is appraised by a potential buyer. Vermin walks slowly up to them.

Vermin: (talking out loud to himself) “My, my, my, what pretty little boys we’ve got here in our midst on this fine day.” (he eyes Kindle and Silver) “Three pretty little boys to choose from. Oh which of you three should I claim as my very own?”

He chuckles at smell of them being in fear of him. Just as Vermin comes closer to further inspect Dave and reach out to grasp him by the jaw, Kindle steps in front of Dave.

Kindle: “You aren’t getting your paws on him or on any of his friends, Vermin. You’re not claiming any one of them to be your newest Jackrat.”

Vermin hisses, looks to his right to see that Silver is already guarding Mike and Jeff. He then looks back at Kindle.

Vermin: “Step aside, dog and know your place. Or I’ll put you back into that place myself.”

His attempt to cow Kindle into submission doesn’t work as more and more of the topside crew is drawn toward them. Vermin looks around at the growing throng and then back at Kindle.

Vermin: “How dare you interfere with what is rightfully mine as per the deal between the captain and me.”

Dave: (standing behind Kindle) “What’s he talking about, Kindle? What deal?”

Captain Yars: “The deal I made with him when I became captain of this ship and sought to ensure peace between the Jackrats and the other members of my crew.” (he looks at Vermin and frowns) “That deal being that he is allowed to claim five percent of any group of people that come aboard this ship.”

Mike: “Does this deal between you and Vermin include us three as well?”

Vermin smiles and looks appreciatively at Dave. Dave finds himself shivering at the prospect of being given to this rat without his say so. He looks to Jeff, Mike and some of the ship’s crew who are giving the Jackrats some hostile stares for some kind of reassurance. Vermin watches him look around and then tries to take a step around Kindle.

Captain Yars: (looking at Mike and Vermin) “No, the deal between him and me with regards to you three doesn’t count here.”

Vermin sharply turns back to the captain with a look of outrage and disbelief in his eyes at what Yars just told them. He steps away from Dave and Kindle.

Vermin: (asking sharply) “What did you just say?”

Captain Yars: “I just told you, your henchmen, my crew and our guests that the deal set up by you and me several years ago doesn’t apply to them.”

Vermin: (points one clawed finger at the trio) “They most certainly fall into the deal we had agreed upon.”

Captain Yars: (frowning) “That deal we’d made all those years ago applies to groups of more than twenty men, not to groups less than that. So just how may I ask, are you going to get your five percent out of a group of three?”

Vermin looks at Dave and then at the captain.

Vermin: “I’d gladly take a third of them to be my newest Jackrat.”

Captain Yars: (stoically) “I don’t think so, Vermin. You won’t be claiming any one of them for your own this day or any time soon.”

Ironbar: (smiles smugly) “And just to make sure there aren’t any hard feelings between us, we’ll happily allow you to watch them become members of this ship’s crew.”

Captain Yars: “I’d suggest that you heed his suggestion, Vermin, and leave these three alone. Otherwise I’ll certainly finish what I had started all those long years ago when we first met.” (he allows himself to smile)

Vermin: (hisses before raising his voice) “No one is going to deny me what I am due here. I will claim one of these pretty little boys for my own. And fuck him hard and rough so that everyone no matter where you are can hear him scream and hear me laugh with pleasure.”

Captain Yars: (growls) “Stand down Vermin, right this instant!”

Vermin: (ignoring the captain) “Attack my loyal Jackrats and bring me my due!”

At the same time that Vermin orders his men to attack, Ironbar lets loose with a menacing howl to galvanize his men into action. And soon a major knock-down, drag-out fight erupts on the top deck of the ship between the Jackrats and the Howlers with the trio stuck in the middle. Kindle and Silver along with two bulls do their best to keep the trio out of harm’s way as the two groups exchange blows on deck. They pull the trio through the fight towards Rev while shouts, growls, barks and hisses fill the air along with the sound of flesh hitting flesh.

Rev: (shouting) “Silver, Kindle, bring them over to the chapel for their safety. You two bulls run interference for them.”

Fade out.
Fade in.

Minutes later, the trio is ushered into the ship’s chapel by Kindle and Silver who hurriedly help Rev seal up the doors behind them. All of them continue to hear the sounds of the fight outside over their own heavy breathing. Mike and Dave quickly walk over to one of the chapel’s small windows to watch the fight.

Jeff: “Are you sure this place is going to be safe  from that pack of rats? I mean what are the chances.. that Vermin won’t barge in here with his men to get at my friends and I?

Rev: (speaking calmly to reassure them) “You three have nothing to worry about here. Vermin won’t come in here after you.”

Dave: (briefly turning away from the window) “And why not? Vermin doesn’t strike me as the type to let a place like this chapel get in the way of getting what he wants.” (he shudders a bit) “What could possibly stand in his way and keep him out?”

Rev: (smiling reassuringly for Dave’s sake) “Its not what could possibly stand in his way and keep him out, Dave, its who can stand in his way and make him turn tail.”

Dave: (looking confused) “So who could stand in that rat’s way and make him turn tail?”

Rev:  “A little divine intervention, and a few things about the Captain and Vermin I know about.”  (Mike, Dave and Jeff look at Rev wiht a puzzled expression)  "Ask the Howlers one day about Yars’ first fight on the Maria.  I hear he half castrated Vermin before the half-hour was up."  (The trio look to Kindle, who shrugs and nods.)  "They know the story better than I do, it's well before my stay."

Dave: “Too bad he didn’t do a Bobbit on him instead of going after one of his balls.”

Kindle and Silver: (looking puzzled) “Bobbit?”

Dave: (smiles sheepishly) “Sorry about the unfamiliar word, guys.”

Rev: “No problem about that, Dave, but what do you mean by Bobbit?”

Dave: (smiles) “Back where from we came from, there was this beautiful lady by the name of Loraine Bobbit. And she was married to a man who had at first loved her as much as she loved him. But he eventually grew unfaithful to her, he started drinking, seeing other women and starting treating her badly. So badly in fact that one night while he was asleep in bed, she came up to him with a kitchen knife and sliced his cock clean off.”

Silver and Kindle wince and protectively cover their privates with both hands while looking at Dave in shock. Rev politely chuckles.

Rev: “Oh the poor man. So what happened after that between Loraine and her unfaithful husband?”

Dave: “Well after making him dickless, she took his dick with her and left the house. As she left him and her home for good, she then toss his cocked into a nearby grassy field. Where it was later found and surgically reattached to her husband’s remaining privates.”

Kindle: (looking incredulously at Dave) “The doctors managed to make him whole again?”

Dave: “Unfortunately yes. And what was also unfortunate is that I don’t know what happened to the two of them after that. But ever since that day, her last name became a word used to describe another form of castration.

Rev: “Bobbit?” (he smiles and then chuckles) “Oh I got to tell the captain and Ironbar about that word you have given me, Dave. I am sure it would cheer him up a tad. And as for Ironbar, I am sure that he would love to tease Vermin with that word at every chance he got.”

Rev, Kindle and Silver chuckle at his joke.

Jeff: (smiling) “So how does God figure into making a rat like Vermin turn tail and run?”

Rev: “That’s simple, he fears God. And that fear is perhaps the only redeemable thing keeping him from falling into eternal damnation on the day he finally dies.”

Dave: (rolls his eyes) “Him, redeemable? I don’t think so.” (he frowns and shudders slightly from fear and disgust) “He didn’t look the least bit afraid of God to me at the time he was thinking of claiming me for some S &M fun.”

Silver: (nods his head) “And neither did he appear afraid to God in front of everybody else just a few minutes ago, Dave. Not many of us on this ship know about that last piece of remaining moral fiber left within him. And most of us would agree, regardless if the truth was known, with you, Dave, about not seeing Vermin as someone redeemable.

Jeff: “Okay so Vermin isn’t going to come in here and try to claim one of us for his own. What about the fight happening just on the other side of this door? The fight we three accidentally started between the Jackrats and the Howlers?”

Kindle: “That’s nothing that you three should be worried about.”

Silver: “Or disturbed about as you three weren’t entirely the cause for what’s happening outside.”

Jeff: “How come we shouldn’t be worried or disturbed by it?”

Kindle: (chuckles) “Well that’s because these fights between the Jackrats and my fellow Howlers has become something of a major pass time on this ship for us and them.”

Mike: (looking incredulously) “A major pass time? Umm.. this is going to sound dumb, but how often do they have these fights?”

Dave: (looking equally incredulous) “And how come you, Silver and Rev here aren’t bothered in the slightest by what’s happening outside?”

Silver: “They have had these fights every once in a while for as long as I or any other member of the crew can remember.”

Kindle: “As for why we aren’t bothered at all by this fight or the ones that they had before it, it is because there never has been a single fatality in any of them.”

Dave: (still incredulous) “None? How can that be if these fights are a regular sight on this ship?”

Silver: “Oh there have been fatalities on this ship before, Dave. But only during the thirty minute window that exists whenever someone new comes on board this ship.”

Dave: “And outside that thirty minute window?”

Silver: (smiles solemnly) “Outside of that thirty minute window, Dave, no one on this ship can take a life or have it taken away from them by someone else.” (he listens to the fight outside) “The only thing that the Howlers and Jackrats can do during these fights is knock each other senseless and nothing more.”

Just then all of them hear the sounds of the fight outside dimming down and the sound of the captain ordering the crew about. Rev looks at the door and then at Dave.

Rev: “Sounds like we’ll have to continue this particular topic at a later time, Dave. Are you okay with that?”

Dave: “Yeah, I think that I am. I just hope that the captain has managed to dissuade Vermin on the idea of claiming one of us for his own personal pleasure.”

Rev: (laying a reassuring hand on Dave) “Don’t worry about him, Dave, I am sure that he won’t try to pull off another attempt to claim you or your friends for sometime to come.

Kindle: “And by that time, all of you will have settled in and become more like us.”

Jeff: (staring intently at Kindle) “And thus out-of -bounds where he’s concerned?”

Kindle nods his head. He goes to help Silver and Rev unseal the chapel’s doors and open them for the trio and his crewmates. Once back outside, trio looks around the deck to observe the remainder of the ship’s crew cleaning up the mess leftover from the fight. Captain Yars and Ironbar walk up to them.

Rev: “So how did the fight go this time?”

Ironbar: (smiles) “Like they usually do. Though you should seen have Vermin’s face when you guys pulled our guests into the chapel and locked the doors behind yourselves.” (he chuckles) “He practically foamed at the mouth and almost tried to take on our bovine crewmates to get at them.”

Rev, Silver and Kindle chuckle while the captain just frowns.

Captain Yars: (looking stoically at the trio) “I believe I will speak for my entire crew here and offer you three an apology for what just happened here. I and my officers promised that you three would be safe from the likes of Vermin and his Jackrats until you had a chance to settle into your new lives. But instead we endangered your lives by allowing the fight to escalate beyond a war of words. I do hope you three can forgive us for that.”

Dave, Mike and Jeff look wordlessly at one another before turning back to the captain.

Dave: (stepping in front of his friends) “I think I can speak up for my friends by saying that we accept your apology.” (looks around nervously then) “So what’s going to happen to Vermin and his bunch? Are they going to thrown into the brig on charges of starting a riot?”

Captain Yars: “They will be dealt with, Dave, that’s all you need to know. But for now, I believe you three should conclude your interrupted tour by having dinner with my crew. Afterwards I want to see the three of you again in my quarters for a late night chat. Is that all right by you three?”

The trio nod their heads and then watch him leave.

Ironbar: “If you will come with me gentlemen, I am sure that Kindle here is eager to try out some of his newest recipes on you three.”

Kindle: (smiles) “But only if you try them out first, sir.”

Rev and Silver chuckle softly and then help Ironbar and Kindle escort the trio to the nearest below decks stairway.

Fade Out.
Fade in.

Act II/ Scene IV:
Minutes later the trio is treated to the sight of seeing a room jam-packed with furries of every size and species in the ship’s galley. They see the same pair of bulls who helped them out earlier in the fight between the Howlers and the Jackrats. They see a lion, a couple more Howlers, a skunk, a panda bear, horses, housecats and oddly enough an Iguana. And they are all being friendly and intimate with one another as they eat their dinners or receive their meals from the cooks. Ironbar, Rev, Kindle and Silver are immediately and intimately greeted their fellow crew members.

Kindle: (smiling) “If you will excuse me guys, it looks like I am needed in the kitchen.

He leaves to them as the trio are greeted in turn by some of the ship’s crew before being led by Ironbar, Rev and Silver to a table.

Rev: (looking at the trio and taking in their scent) “Are you three okay?”

Mike: (smiling uneasily) “I wish I was, Rev, but large crowds in a room this size make me feel uneasy. I feel like going back to my room just to get away.”

Dave: (looking around nervously) “Same here, Rev, I am not fond of large crowds either, especially with a crowd like this. Too stimulating for my tastes.”

Rev: “And you, Jeff? Jeff?”

Jeff looks away from a trio of nearby Howlers.

Jeff: “I am sorry, Rev? Were you just saying something to me?”

Rev: “I was just asking if you are okay being here in this room with crewmates. And I was wondering if you share your friends’ nervousness toward large crowds.”

Jeff: (grins sheepishly) “Oh! Well I am feeling a bit nervous like my friends are toward large crowds, but not as much. My friends are a bit more reclusive than I am in situations like these.”

Jeff’s comment puzzles Rev but Kindle’s reappearance at their table prevents him from getting an explanation from him. As he begins to pay attention to Kindle, he notes that Jeff has gone back to staring intently at Kindle and his fellow canines.

Kindle: (smiling as he looks at the trio) “Seeing as you three are new to our home, is there any particular dish you three have in mind for your first dinner aboard the Maria?”

Dave: (smiles) “What’s the house , or should I say ship’s specials?”

The next few minutes has Kindle avidly talking to them about the more popular meals served in the galley.

Mike: “You have certainly given us a lot to choose from, Kindle.” (he smiles) “I am curious about one thing regarding the food.”

Kindle: “And what’s that, Mike?”

Mike: “I am just wondering if some of the foods that you use to eat before when all of you were still human, still agree with you. Or if you had to change the foods you eat to match your new lifestyles.

Kindle: (looking puzzled) “I don’t know what you mean by that, Mike.”

Dave: “What he means is do you guys have to eat the same foods that real animals of your species eat. Do the horses on this ship eat just vegetables or can they stomach some meat in their day-to-day meals? Do you and your fellow Howlers eat just meat and nothing else?”

Kindle: “Okay I think I understand now about you were trying to ask me about, Mike.” (he looks at Mike) “Despite the way we look to you on the outside, we can still eat and enjoy the same foods we used to enjoy when we were still human.”

Jeff: (grinning) “That’s good to hear. I was worried before we came in here that the dinner selection was going to be very, very limited species-wise.”

Ironbar: (teasingly) “What you thought you and your friends were going to be served some meaty porridge in a bowl?”

Jeff: “Well the thought did cross my mind.”

Dave and Mike groan at the joking banter between their friend and Ironbar while those seated with them just smile and chuckle at their reactions.

Dave: “Okay, okay, jokes aside, now that you have told us that you guys have no problem eating the foods you use to enjoy as humans, can we get down to ordering here? I am starving.”

The trio then place their orders on what they want to eat for dinner and watch Kindle head off into the kitchen. While they are waiting, some of the ship’s crew come up to their table and ask them about who they are and where they came from. Rev watches them as they try to talk with his fellow crewmates and notes that they are still too hesitant about revealing more about themselves and where they came from.

Rev: (putting aside his own curiosity) “Easy everybody, let’s not try to overwhelm them by badgering them about with your questions. There will be plenty of time when they are settled into their new lives aboard our home to ask them about their pasts.”

Rev watches as his crewmates accept his suggestion and move off back to their own tables. But as he does so, he feels his own sense of curiosity returning.

Dave: (smiling sheepishly) “Thanks, Rev, for getting your fellow shipmates to back down from asking all of those questions about who my friends and I are and where we’re from.”

Rev: “No problem, Dave, but wouldn’t it be easier on the three of you if you just told us about what we wanted to hear?”

Mike: (smiling nervously) “I suppose it would be easy for us to tell you and everyone else here about who we are and where we are from, Rev. But its more of a question on whether or not you and your fellow crewmates will understand what we would be trying to answer for you.”

Silver: “Oh come on you three. Surely your pasts can’t be that hard for us to understand.”

Jeff: “You guys have no idea as to how hard it would be to make you understand us.”

Rev tries to get Jeff to explain about what he meant with his comment. But they are interrupted by the arrival of Kindle and his fellow crewmates with their meals. Kindle hands out everyone’s meals before sitting down himself. Each of the trio thanks Kindle for their meals and then lapse into silence. Rev looks at Ironbar and watches as the Great Dane just shrugs at the trio’s continuing reluctance to open up to them. Everyone at the table then spends the next several minutes just eating their meals and watching the rest of the crew go about the room. Just as they are finishing up their meals, the captain’s first mate shows up.

Kyle: “Rev, Ironbar, (he looks at the trio) gentlemen, the cat-tain wants to know if you are all ready to see him again.”

Rev: “Yes Kyle, we were just finishing up dinner and getting ready to see the captain.”

Everyone stands up from the table and follows Kyle back to the captain’s quarters.

Fade Out.
Fade In.

Back to Act 1

Proceed to Act 3

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