Tuesday howls and yowls, shapeshifter lovers.
THANK YOU! To everyone who participated in the Love's a Beach Blog Hop. With special kisses to those who left comments.
Ever wonder what the real story is, the story that won't ever be told? Except maybe in the dusty pages of some far-future historic tome.
Well, today you're in luck because I've got the inside scoop from my heroine, Khazzy.
Disclaimer: the following is pure fiction. Don't believe a word of it.
The Story Behind the Story ~ Curiosity's Martian Landing
Khazzy gave a final tug on the lacings of her tall thick leather boots. She checked the frequency protection device mounted on her hip to make certain it operated correctly. Near invisible predators were always a danger in this arid region of Mars, and the device emitted wavelengths that shut down their nervous system.
Smiling in anticipation, Khazzy trekked up the winding, red-dirt path. The thin air carried the astringent scents of Martian landscape's scant vegetation. Khazzy breathed them in as if it was a rare perfume.
She glanced at the panoramic expanse of turquoise colored sky, careful to keep the pot she carried steady. Unable to see the late afternoon sun from her vantage point, Khazzy followed the bold red streaks covering the far horizon. Above them, rays of luminous orange disappeared into the brilliant cloudless sky.
"Khazzy, you're here, finally." Jobelle, her girlfriend, announced in loud dulcet tones. "You better have brought those spicy beans of yours. I've had a craving all day."
As Khazzy reached the summit, she stepped onto the rounded rim of the shallow crater, and held up the pot. "Sure did. Took me forever to find one of the ingredients. Everyone was sold out."
"That's my best girl." Jobelle moved to meet her. "Your chair is already setup, and cold drinks are waiting."
"Good music to my ears. I'm ready to get off my feet, and watch tonight's oh-so special entertainment. Brought to us by NASA, all the way from Earth," Khazzy dramatically sang.
"We've been taking turns watching the air show closeup on the view-screen. It's just too amusing watching the media crafts dart among the large guardian cruisers."
"Khazzy, want a seat on my lap?" Zon called out, his voice a lazy baritone. "My high-powered viewer is at your disposal."
Khazzy didn't answer. She ignored how Zon's low-timbre tones stroked her inner cat spine, as if he petted her with those large capable hands of his -- the ones she was forced to see nearly every other day.
She also ignored it when Zon patted his over-muscled thigh in bold invitation. After a dismissive toss of her waist-length hair, Khazzy found a place for her pot on the portable trestle table, along with all the other food dishes.
She and Jobelle hugged briefly, then moved to join a group of their longtime friends. Turning in their lounge chairs, they grinned and saluted Khazzy with their tall frosty drinks.
"Not long until the Earthers crane-drop that primitive dune drone. You made it just in time."
"We're tracking the satellite, too. Far as we can tell one of our ships has a lock on it, and is guiding NASA's satellite into position so there will be images transmitted back to Earth."
"I can't wait for the show." Khazzy smiled at each and every one of them. For the last twelve years, she'd taught classes at the local university, and had come to treasure their comradery outside of campus.
Zon was the exception.
Ever since he'd arrived as the head flight instructor, she'd had to endure his overbearing, huge-as-a-bull presence. Because she taught aeronautic and aerospace history to his students, they compared notes on the latest historical discoveries.
His conduct remained professional during these sessions, and Khazzy didn't deny how much she enjoyed interacting with his sharp-as-a-razor intellect. However, the instant they were off campus, his demeanor changed to a stud horse in hot pursuit.
Long ago, Khazzy had given up rationally explaining why she had no interest in becoming his lover. He would listen intently, his gaze fully meeting hers. All the while, his dark aqua-blue eyes tantalized her until she wanted to scream -- until she wanted to run from him like a frightened cat, or say, yes...yes...yes!
'What is it with Zon?" Jobelle's tone commiserated with Khazzy.
"I wish I knew. It's not like I'm going to say 'screw his privacy' and scan his genetic code," Khazzy answered, as they both sank into their lounge chairs. "Tempting as that is."
"It would be the only way to find out why you, and his unbelievable persistence." Jobelle flipped the lid of the cooler open, then handed Khazzy her favorite bottled brew. "Beyond the obvious."
"His scent is mostly lion shapeshifter." Parched, Khazzy took several swallows of her bubbly, gingery-tangy brew. "There's some canine, a breed I can't identify, and two other animal under-scents... might be herbivore."
"Hard to tell, is so right." Jobelle tipped up her own bottle and drank thirstily. "There's been so many colonizations and immigrations over the last hundred thousand years, a lot of us are a piece of this and a mixture of that."
Khazzy gave a nod, then stretched her legs. Despite feeling Zon's presence, she relaxed as she roved her gaze over the familiar desert-scape and the immense stretch of horizon.
Around them the oxygen enhancers, placed atop long poles, sparked brighter than the fireflies that would come out once darkness fell. Khazzy basked in the ambience, in simply being with her friends.
"Countdown! Giant robo-bug about to land." The shout came among the excited murmur and banter of people enjoying each other's company.
"Look, there's the sky crane," someone else shouted.
Along with everyone else, Khazzy raised the viewer she'd hung around her neck. Her giggles began as she watched one of the guardian cruisers zip into position, and begin assisting the robo-roach as it was popularly called on Mars -- so it would land safely.
It was well known NASA's cockamamie plan would have gone terribly awry, and the Curiosity would have crashed in an ungainly heap, a mass of crushed and crumpled metal -- if not for the intervention that now happened.
Per agreement with some mysterious Earth group, the Martian Grand Counsel had agreed to make certain the robo-roach would land without incident. The trick would be making the landing appear realistic to the Earther population.
Khazzy had to hold the viewer steady, and suppress her chuckles as she watched the pretend manipulations take place like a scene from a primitive-tech film.
"And... we have achieved... landing," Jobelle dramatically whispered. "Bounce, bounce... and then bounce... and, the robo-roach is rolling."
A mock cheer erupted, short-lived as hoots of laughter took over.
"Uh-oh." Khazzy swung her viewer toward a suspicious movement she'd seen. "Isn't that a Nagarux raptor? Looks like Curiosity is about to become a snack."
"The raptor must have escaped the force field. Wait. Help is on the way," Jobelle announced, as they both observed one of the crew leap from a low-floating guardian cruiser.
He ran toward Curiosity, and swiftly attached a palm-sized frequency device. The Nagarux practically screeched to a mid-air halt. With mighty flaps of its dark blue glistening wings, the raptor circled clumsily, then soared toward the crater's rim where it likely had dug a nest hole.
"Tragedy averted," Khazzy drily quipped, watching the media crafts swoop and dive, and try to outmaneuver each other as they recorded every detail of the robo-roach.
"Sad in a way," Jobelle solemnly uttered. "Common Earthers won't have a clue this is all for show."
"They won't have a clue it's just fancy communications device between Mars and Earth. At least, one of its true functions." Khazzy lowered her viewer, suddenly weary from her long day, and more than ready for an evening beneath the stars with her friends.
A micro second before he moved beside her, and spoke, Khazzy felt Zon as if a wave of power surged through her.
"They won't have a clue their ancient history is being studied, and denied to them."
"Injustice rules on Earth." Khazzy clipped her words. As usual, Zon knew she'd react if he brought up the history angle.
He knelt close to her, offering a small plate. "Surish dates, would you like one?"
Khazzy clamped her eyes closed and gripped her viewer way too hard. Why did he have to know she adored the rare and expensive fruit? Zon had caught her feasting on them once, as he entered her university office for one of their sessions.
When Khazzy opened her eyes, her traitorous hand already reached for one. "You shouldn't have," she sourly murmured, just before popping the luscious treat in her mouth, and savoring.
Once she finished, his low powerful purr vibrated the inside of her ear. "Have you ever been to Earth, Khazzy?"
"No. Not interested." Khazzy couldn't stop her fingers from plucking up another one of the dates.
"What if I told you there's a unique shapeshifter community?"
"What do you mean 'unique'?" Khazzy made the mistake of asking, but only after she'd relished the plump sweet fruit.
"A gathering of shifters from all over Earth."
Oh no! He dangled another one of her life passions in front of her like a fresh fat shrimp. To see how shapeshifting genetics had evolved, what an exceptional opportunity.
"I'm certain I can't spare the time," she forced out, even though she yearned like mad to explore what would be the exception rather than rule on Earth.
"Dante, my werewolf friend lives in this unique community, and has opened a retro Discotech club. I'll take you disco dancing, Khazzy."
With her soul's sweet spot spinning, glowing... with every fiber of her wanting to go disco dancing on Earth so fiercely Khazzy couldn't move... well, how did she refuse this opportunity? Likely, it would never come her way again.
"You win." She paused. "But, I'm not going to be your lover."
Zon said nothing. He simply offered her another Surish date.
Khazzy didn't refuse, even as she decided the universe must be laughing at her. Oh absolutely, she'd become the latest cosmic joke.
She did ask, "How did you know?"
Khazzy felt his wide grin more than she saw it. "You dance divinely when you think no one is watching, my beautiful cat woman."
With that, Zon rose, and departed. His tread was nearly silent even to her sensitive ears, yet as powerful as his lion form.
Wishing you shapeshifting love on the wild side…
Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~