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"I want to take him upstairs to my room so I can look after him," Jev said.
"Jev, that is not a good idea. It's a wild animal for God's sake. Just because it's weak now, and not capable of attacking you, doesn't mean it won't when it's well enough. No, that cat is going outside and into the shed in the back."
"Dad, have you seen outside?" Jev asked hotly. "There's no way I'd be able to get him settled into the shed in this weather in the first place, and you know it."
"Don't you raise your voice to me young man, the cat is not staying in the house and that's final."
"Then if the cat has to stay outside, so am I," Jev stated, crossing his arms across his chest.
"Jev, be reasonable! It's a bloody blizzard out there, you'd freeze to death."
"If it's too cold for me, it's too cold for the cat," Jev said, refusing to back down.
"You're as stubborn as your mother was," Lars said throwing his arms up in the air in frustration. Right at that moment something began to strike at the front door.
"That's probably Dr. O'Riley, Dad," Jev said. "I can't leave him alone."
"Go get the door, Son, I'll stay with him," Lars said. "Don't worry Jev, I'm not going to do anything but watch over it," he said, noticing Jev's hesitation. Giving the cat one last look, Jev went to the door, and carefully opened it a little, peering outside to see if it was Dr. O'Riley. Seeing that it was, he opened the door fully, allowing the doctor to enter the inn. Then, fighting the wind battering against it, Jev closed the door and locked it.
"Thank God you're here, Sam," Lars said rushing up to the freezing doctor who was stamping his feet on the floor of the inn to get rid of the snow that had accumulated on them. "Maybe you can talk some sense into my son, and convince him that caring for the cat inside would be foolish."
"Whoa there, Lars," Sam O'Riley said. "I haven't even looked at the cat yet. Can you get me some coffee first? I'm freezing!" Jev helped Sam out of his jacket, which was soaked from the melting snow that was on it. He placed it by the fire so that it could dry.
Sam walked over to the cat on the table, and looked it over carefully. "Jev, I need some warm water, some clean cloths, and something with alcohol in it." Jev ran to get the things he was asked for while Lars stood over the doctor as he started to check the cat over for injuries. Noticing Lars standing there, Sam stopped and turned to look at him. "Lars, I really could use that coffee you know. Don't worry about me, this cat is in bad shape, and it's not going to be doing much of anything to hurt me."
Lars went to the kitchen, and poured a cup of coffee for the doctor. Lars always had some coffee kept warm, just in case he couldn't sleep at night and needed something to calm his nerves down. Jev, meanwhile, returned with the items Sam had asked for. In a large mixing bowl he had put some warm water, gathered a couple of the cloths that had been washed the day before, and a bottle of wine that they kept in the cellar.
"There's a good lad," Sam said smiling at Jev. Opening his bag that he brought with him, Sam took out some scissors, a large pair of tweezers, a needle and thread. "See this here?" Sam asked, indicating a nasty looking wound on the cat's side. "This is what's likely causing the fever. It's got something lodged in its side and is infected. I need to take it out if this cat has any chance of surviving. Bloody big cat though!" Sam said, beginning to work on the cat.
Jev could see the cat was really weak, and despite the obvious pain it was in, it could do nothing to protest what Sam was doing with its wound. "Jev hold the cat down, when I take this thing out, it's going to react," Sam said. Jev gently put his hands on the cat, stroking its dull fur, and silently telling the cat that it was going to be okay.
Sam smiled at the concern and gentleness that Jev showed the cat. "Okay then, here we go." He cut away some of the fur around the wound, then with the tweezers, grabbed a hold of the object that was embedded in its side. Gently, and with as much care as he could, slowly pulled the object out of the wound. The cat reacted with obvious pain as it came out all the way, a fresh flow of blood welling up from the hole. The cat roared in pain, and almost fell of the table. But Jev managed to hold the cat down, and soothed it as best he could. His efforts seemed to have the desired effect as the cat became still once more. Sam dropped the object onto one of the cloths. From what Jev could tell, it was a fair sized piece of metal, which surprised him since the colony hadn't yet begun mining refined metals before the T'Kri landed.
"Alright, lad," Sam said. "This is going to be very painful, but I've got to sterilize the wound." Sam took the bottle of wine that Jev had given him, and uncorked it. Taking one of the cloths, he held it by the wound as he slowly began to pour the wine onto it. The cat reacted, but not as strongly as it had before, and then stopped moving all together.
"Doc? What's wrong? It's not moving!" Jev said panicking.
"Don't worry there, lad," Sam said, checking the cat's vitals. "It's just passed out. The pain was too much for it. It's just as well, I need to stitch up the wound and that would have been really uncomfortable for it. If the fever breaks at all, it should have a chance to live.
"Doc, I want to look after him in my room."
"I told you, Son, that animal is not staying in this house. The shed is perfectly fine for it to rest and recover in."
"I'm sorry, Lars," Sam said, while beginning to sew up the wound. "I have to agree with Jev. If you put this animal outside, it'll surely die. Its best chance is to stay warm and kept well hydrated."
"Jeez! The two of you are impossible!" Lars said, once again throwing his arms up in the air in frustration.
"Lars, will you knock it off!" Sam yelled, turning to face Jev's father. "This cat is in no condition to harm anyone. I know it's Jev's safety you're concerned about, but in its condition, there's no possible way for it to hurt Jev. For God's sakes, I can't even guarantee that it'll live past the night. Putting it in the shed now will kill it for sure, and then I would have come over here for nothing, and that would make me really upset." One thing you never wanted to do was get Sam O'Riley upset. Not even Jev's father was willing to risk being on the receiving end of Sam's wrath.
"Fine then," Lars said, giving in at last. "But the moment that animal is well enough, if it gets better, I want it outside."
"Thanks Dad," Jev said, still running his hands over the cat's fur.
"I'm sure Kiyel will be just fine though."
"Kiyel huh? Where'd you pick up a name like that?" Sam asked, a smiling forming on his face.
"I don't know, it just seemed to suit him."
"That it does, lad, that it does," Sam said, finishing the last stitch on the wound. "Though, I agree with your father that it's not a pet, and it will have to be released back into the wild if it recovers."
"I know," Jev said. "I just want to give him that chance to live is all."
"Alright," Sam said, reaching into his bag once more, and pulling out a syringe and a small bottle. "I'm going to give it some antibiotics. I don't know if it'll do more harm than good, but it's all I have to try and break that fever." Placing the needle into the bottle through the cork at the top, Sam began to draw out some of the fluid inside. Satisfied that he had enough, he slid the needle gently into the shoulder of the cat, slowly plunging the contents of the syringe into its body.
Putting the needle and the bottle away, he then grabbed some thin cloth. "Alright Jev, I need you to hold him up a bit, while I wrap this around him." Jev did as he was asked while Sam began to unroll the cloth, wrapping it around the cat's torso, covering the wound. Then getting out a couple of safety pins, he secured the cloth in place, and checked for any sign of leakage from the wound.
"Well, that's the best I can do for him," Sam said, closing up his medical kit.
"Can someone help me carry him to my room?" Jev asked.
"I'll do it," Lars said.
"Thanks Dad," Jev said, the two of them lifted up the cat carefully and began to carry him to the stairs.
"Damn this cat's heavy," Lars said.
"And a fair bit larger than some of the cats I've seen in these parts," Sam commented.
With some difficulty, Jev and Lars managed to carry the cat up the stairs to Jev's room. Jev opened the door, and they walked into his room. "We'll put him in the closet dad," Jev said.
"Very well, Son." The two of them carried the cat to the closet. Sam, seeing that the floor was bare, went to Jev's bed and grabbed the blanket, throwing it onto the floor in the closet. Jev and Lars then placed the cat onto the blanket and backed away.
"I think Kiyel's going to make it Dad," Jev said.
"Maybe so, Son, but just remember that when it's well enough, you need to let it go."
"I know, Dad. Thank you again." Then Jev noticed that the blanket that Sam had used for Kiyel was the one he used on his bed. "Hey, what am I going to use to sleep with?" he asked.
"I'll get you another blanket from the closet in the hallway," Lars said. "Sam, thanks for coming over in this weather. You're welcome to stay the night, and breakfast is on me tomorrow."
"Thanks, Lars, I think I'll be taking you up on that offer. I don't want to be out in this weather if I can help it. If it wasn't for this opportunity to get a close look at one of these cats, I don't think I would have even attempted coming over."
Lars showed Sam to the spare bedroom across from Jev's, before returning a short time later with a spare blanket, throwing it to him. "Okay ,Son, I want you to get into bed and get some sleep. It's going to be a long day tomorrow."
"I will, Dad," Jev said, opening the blanket up and throwing it onto his bed. Lars then closed the door to Jev's room leaving Jev alone with Kiyel. "You sleep and get better Kiyel. I'll see you in the morning."
Jev awoke to the sound of things being torn apart downstairs. Pulling the covers off him, he jumped out of bed, opened the door, and ran down to see what was going on. Sam and his father were at the bottom of the stairs, staring at something he couldn't yet see.
"Jev, get back upstairs," Lars shouted to him upon seeing him come down. Jev managed to see what was going on though. A squad of T'Kri soldiers had broken their way into the inn and were tossing things about, obviously searching for something. He hightailed it back up the stairs and into his room, slamming the door shut.
On the floor in his closet, Kiyel stared at him. He wasn't moving except for his tail which was twitching madly. His ears perked up suddenly and looked at the door, as did Jev, who had a sudden feeling that things were going to get messy real fast. He wasn't disappointed as a T'Kri soldier broke into the room and pointed its gun at Jev.
"You," The T'Kri soldier said in its raspy voice. "Why you alone in room? What you hiding here?"
"I..." Jev stammered. The T'Kri soldier started to move towards Jev when he suddenly stopped as a low growling sound from the closet began. Managing to look away from the T'Kri and the gun pointed in his direction, Jev saw Kiyel suddenly stand up on his four legs and slowly begin to make his way towards the soldier.
Pointing its gun at Kiyel, the T'Kri soldier froze as Kiyel advanced on him. Kiyel's lips were curled back in a vicious snarl, a low growling coming from his throat. The T'Kri soldier appeared to Jev to be terrified, rooted to the spot in sheer terror. When Kiyel was only a few feet away from the T'Kri soldier, the soldier suddenly took off out of the room, running down the stairs and screaming loudly to the other T'Kri. Then there was silence.
Jev stood there in wonder as Kiyel stood in front of the door, guarding it, in case the T'Kri came back. The sound of footsteps could soon be heard walking cautiously up the stairs. Kiyel continued to stand by the door, ever ready should the T'Kri return. When Lars appeared in the hallway outside Jev's door, Kiyel seemed to relax, sitting on his hindquarters, but still watching Lars.
"Jev are you okay in there?" Lars asked.
"Yeah Dad, one of the T'Kri came in here, but Kiyel chased him away."
"Kiyel did?" Lars asked, regarding the cat as it starred at him. "Son, if that is what Kiyel does to T'Kri soldiers, then he's welcome to stay with you as long as he wants," he said smiling at Kiyel.
"I told you Kiyel wouldn't hurt me, Dad," Jev told him.
"Lars," Sam interrupted. "Kiyel's in no shape to be tangling with T'Kri soldiers, he needs rest and a chance to recover."
Jev suddenly felt a weakness come over him, as if he was becoming light headed and was about to black out. Jev looked at Kiyel who was beginning to have difficulties sitting up, and suddenly realized that he wasn't the one feeling weak and light headed, rather it was Kiyel who was in trouble.
"Dad, help me get Kiyel back to the closet. He's going to pass out," Jev said.
"What do you mean, Son? How do you know?" Lars asked. Suddenly, Kiyel collapsed onto the floor startling Lars and Sam. They regarded Jev in awe and stood there in stunned silence.
"Please, Dad, help me," Jev said rushing to Kiyel's side and already trying to pick him up. Lars snapped out of his daze, and helped Jev carry Kiyel back into the closet.
Lars looked back at Sam. "What the hell's going on here, Sam?" he demanded.
"I don't know, Lars. I've never seen anything like it," Sam said, still looking at Jev. "Jev, how did you know that Kiyel was about to pass out?"
"I don't know. I just did. I started feeling things last night, before the snow storm," Jev answered honestly, just as bewildered as Sam and Lars.
"Jev, I want you downstairs so Sam can check you out," Lars said.
"No, I'm staying right here with Kiyel, he needs me," Jev answered.
"Son, listen to me, we need to find out what's going on, and why you can suddenly pick up on what Kiyel is feeling."
"Dad, no. Doc, you can do what you have to up here, but I'm not leaving Kiyel."
"It's okay, Lars, I can conduct the examination up here. It might be easier anyway, as you'll have to open the inn soon."
"Damn, I forgot. Sam, when you're done with Jev, I need you downstairs to help me clean up the mess the T'Kri left behind."
"Hey, what do I look like, a bar maid?" Sam protested.
"I'm sorry, Sam, but with Jev looking after Kiyel up here, I need someone to help out, and I can't very well have a sick animal laying on the floor downstairs, it'd chase away the customers. I'll make it up to you, I promise."
"Alright Lars, I'll be down soon." Sam said dejectedly. "Not that there'd be many customers coming over after that storm," he mumbled.
"Thanks, Sam, and you're probably right about the customers," Lars said, then walked out of the room.
Sam then turned to Jev. "Would you mind telling me what the hell is going on with you? I've known you since we arrived on this planet, and I have never ever seen you show this kind of empathy towards another person, much less a forest cat. When exactly did you start to feel things? Was it before or after you came into contact with Kiyel?"
"It was before actually. Yesterday, when the council came over, the meeting was almost over, and I was just looking out the window when I first felt... something, like I was being watched. I felt it again before I went to bed last night. Then, just as I was about to fall asleep last night, I felt a sharp pain in my head, like I had a really bad headache, and it made me fall out of bed. You might think I'm crazy, but I swore I heard someone asking for my help. The pain in my head had started to go away, and I got up off the floor to go look out the window. At first all I could see was the snow blowing outside, but then I saw something on the ground and I rushed outside to see what it was."
"Just like that you ran downstairs and went outside in nothing but your night clothes to look for something that you saw from your window. Lad, you know that we have no medical facilities capable of handling anything but the most common of illnesses or injuries."
"I know that, Doc. I didn't go out there like this; I did put my jacket and boots on before I went outside. I would have been inside sooner, but I had to convince my dad not to shoot Kiyel."
"Well, that's a wee bit different, but it was still risky. You need to be more careful. Plus, it seems that it was a good thing you did find Kiyel for who knows what could have happened had he not been here with you when the T'Kri came over."
"Yeah, I know. When the T'Kri came into my room, I almost crapped my pants."
"I don't blame you, lad," Sam said laughing. "Just be more careful, and take care of Kiyel. If anything changes with him, you be sure to give me a shout. You hear me?"
"Yes sir," Jev said.
"Alright then, I'll see you later," Sam said, then walked out of the room and joined Jev's father downstairs.
Returning his attention to Kiyel, who was still passed out on the floor in his closet, Jev walked over to his bed, grabbed his pillow, and then brought it over to the closet where he laid it down on the floor beside Kiyel. Lying down, Jev settled himself beside Kiyel, and began to softly stroke his fur.
"You did good, Kiyel," Jev said. "Even hurt and sick, you protected me. I don't know why or how you ended up in our backyard, but I'm glad you did." Exhaustion soon took its toll on Jev and he fell asleep.
"So what do you think?" Lars asked Sam, picking up the last of the overturned tables.
"I don't know. It's too early to tell," Sam replied.
"You must have some idea as to what's going on."
"Lars, I just don't know, okay? This isn't exactly my area of expertise," Sam said, sitting down at the table after righting one of the chairs. "If I had to take a guess though, I'd say that Kiyel, as well as the rest of the cats on this world, might be telepathic."
"What?" Lars exclaimed. "What do you mean telepathic? There's no such thing. That's just something made up in those old science-fiction books I used to read when I was a kid. You don't expect me to believe that telepathy actually exists do you?"
"Who knows, Lars. As a species we've come pretty far in our understanding of the human body, but the one thing that continues to elude us, is the human mind. Think about it for a minute. Jev begins to feel something, but he doesn't know why he's feeling it. He told me that he felt like he was being watched, and then he suddenly finds Kiyel outside, and now feels this strong need to protect Kiyel. Even the name Kiyel is odd in itself. Where'd he get a name like that? No, I think there is a distinct possibility that Kiyel is telepathic, and that we need to find out if the rest of the cats on this world exhibit this same ability."
"Alright Sam, I agree that I don't have the knowledge to disprove that telepathy exists. It just seems a little far fetched to me."
"I agree with you, Lars, but I'm willing to keep an open mind about this. Think about it though. What if your son has developed a telepathic link to this forest cat. It could very well be just the thing we've been looking for to help us get rid of the T'Kri for good."
"Hmm, I'll have to think about this and talk to the rest of the council, but you might be right."
"Of course I am. When have I ever been wrong?" Sam laughed. "Now can we finish getting this place cleaned up so you can make me that breakfast you promised?"
It took Lars and Sam another hour before the inn was relatively in the same shape it had been in before the T'Kri had entered. Aside from a couple of broken chairs, and a smashed table, everything was back to normal. Lars immediately went into the kitchen where he fired up the stove.
Lars had a pretty good selection of food stuffs, regularly trading for various goods from the nearby farms in exchange for ale. It was a good arrangement which benefited everyone. The added bonus of this arrangement was that Lars and Jev didn't need to go to Landing, the main colony town, for supplies. Landing was appropriately named as it was where their colony ship hand set down on this world. For the most part, the ship itself was dismantled, with only the power plant still intact. Thankfully the T'Kri allowed the colonists to use the power plant, though they weren't permitted anywhere near it, posting guards around it day and night.
The kitchen itself was unremarkable, with a wood burning stove serving as both a heater and a cooking surface, a large steel sink for washing dishes in, a walk in cooler which was made possible thanks to some solar panels on top of the inn providing power, and a large prep table in the middle of the kitchen.
Opening the door to the cooler, Lars walked in and gathered the supplies he needed to begin making breakfast. He came back out with a handful of eggs, some chopped ham, an onion, a pitcher of milk, and some bread. Setting the supplies on the prep table, he set about making Sam's breakfast, which only took the next fifteen minutes to prepare and cook.
Sam was still sitting at the table while Lars was working in the kitchen. He couldn't help but think back to the conversation he had with Jev. There was something that was bothering him, something that was so obvious about Jev's behavior that suggested more than what was said, he just couldn't put a finger on it.
His thoughts were interrupted by Lars bringing him his breakfast. Just as he had the plate set in front of him, the door to the inn opened and the first two customers of the day came in.
"Good morning, Bill, Trish," Lars said welcoming his guests.
"Good morning, Lars," Bill said, Trish leading him to the same table that Sam was sitting at. "Quite a storm we had last night."
"It was that, wasn't it? How did your home handle the storm?"
"Not too bad. Trish and I put the kids to bed before the storm hit, and made sure everything was bolted down. The only damage we had was a tree next to the home fell and broke one of the windows, which we had to board up quickly. Other than that, it was just like any other night."
"Well, I'm glad you and your family made it through the storm okay," Lars said, before bringing the couple some coffee from the kitchen.
"Yes, though I could have done without the T'Kri breaking into our home and tearing it apart this morning," Bill said, not bothering to hide his anger.
"It scared poor Bobby and Janette when they stormed up the stairs and grabbed them off their beds," Trish said. "We were all made to stand in the living room while they destroyed the place. The kids were crying, and there was nothing we could do but watch."
"I'm sorry, Trish," Lars said, gently patting her on the shoulder. "Coffee's on me today. I doubt I'm going to get many customers because of the storm last night, so I'll see if Jev and I can come over and help you straighten things out."
"Oh that's really sweet of you, Lars," Trish said. "Thank you for your offer, but you needn't worry about us. Right now the kids are staying with Tom and Vince for a while. We couldn't leave them in the house when it looked like it does."
"Tom and Vince. You mean the gay couple who live next to you?"
"Yes, the T'Kri did the same to their home, but they managed to fix all the damage, so we asked them if the kids could stay with them for a while. Bill and I just wanted to get out, grab some of your coffee and maybe some breakfast before we head back over."
"That's not a problem, I'll make the same for you as I made Sam here, and don't even think of paying me for it," Lars said.
"Thank you Lars," Bill said.
For the second time that day, Jev woke up in his room, and for a second, he wondered why his mattress felt different, but then he remembered that he had laid down beside Kiyel who he noticed was still unconscious. Jev ran his hand over Kiyel's fur, noticing the softness of it. He could feel beneath it Kiyel's steady heart beat, and no longer was Kiyel panting from the fever, but was now sleeping peacefully, taking long, deep, regular breaths. He kept rubbing his hand over Kiyel's muscular body, enjoying the closeness he felt with this cat. Kiyel was so much like his pet cat from Earth, and yet he wasn't. Jev couldn't help but feel that there was something about this cat that made it different from other forest cats, the answer eluding him as he continued to lie beside Kiyel.
The sudden feeling in his bladder made Jev get up from off the floor. Making his way down the hall to the bathroom, the events from the night before ran through his mind, trying to make sense of all that had happened. Where had Kiyel come from? Why did he come here? What was so special about him? All these questions ran through his mind while he took care of his morning business.
Finishing off in the bathroom, Jev made his way back to his room. When he got there, he saw something that made him stop in his tracks. There by the foot of his bed, and standing on his two hind legs was Kiyel.
To Be Continued ...