Brian W. Antoine
May 12, 1995
It hadn't been too bad a day so far, but it was far from over yet, at least for me. Standing next to the master worldgate that now rested in the middle of Tycho crater. I nodded towards the planet that shown brightly in the sky above me and said a final good-bye to my mother. I'd spent the last six hours or so catching up events of the last few months and then taking her and the rest of the family out for a Mothers Day dinner. With a final look at the western coast of the US, which was now firmly into its night phase, I picked up the bags of goodies I was going to need and keyed the gate open. It was still pre-dawn on Velar, and I had another family to take care of ...
* * *
Kalindra and Lythandi probably had no idea what the Terran holiday that honored mothers was about, but they were going to attend their first lesson in about an hour. After I'd gotten back to our home and unpacked my bags, I'd spirited Naldantis and Lan Louis out of the bedroom so we could start our preparations. There was breakfast to get started, clothing to un-wrap, small gifts to get ready and a dozen other things that kept the three of us hopping until Smaug popped in and warned me that the ladies were making 'wake-up' noises.
"You are sure this is how it's done?" asked Naldantis as he adjusted his clothing.
"Mostly," I answered him as I tried to keep a straight face. "I had to make a few changes, but it should be OK. Besides, you look kind of cute in that silly getup." All I got for a reply was a growl and a frown. "You ready son?"
"I hope so," said the excited four year old at my side.
I'd explained everything to my son at least twice before he'd understood what I was planning. Then he'd jumped into the planning of his own role with all the youthful love of adventure he possessed. This was his first real involvement with the custom I'd started of "pampering the ladies into submission," but he had seen me doing it often enough to had an idea or two of his own. So, with the three of us dressed in our official pampering costumes, I opened the door to the bedroom and we walked in and lined up at the foot of the sleeping cushion.
Kalindra was actually about half awake was we lined up, and I saw the lights go on behind her eyes as she focused on us standing there. Then she leaned over and nudged Lythandi in the side to get her attention. "I think you ought to see this," she said before she broke into giggles. When Lyth rolled over and got a look at us, she joined in with the odd snicker of her own.
"Ladies, your morning bath awaits your presence," and I shifted my grip on the huge fluffy robe I had draped over my arm so I could offer my hand to my mate. Exactly in step with me, Naldantis did the same for Lythandi. After exchanging puzzled looks for a moment, the ladies in question allowed us to pull them to their feet and then stood still as we dressed them in their robes.
Leading them from the bedroom, Nal and I walked them to the hot bath we'd prepared. The moment we cleared the room, Lan Louis began to clean everything in sight and then change the covering on the sleeping cushion to a custom satin cover that I'd had made. His job was to get everything ready for the breakfast that would commence when we got back, and to adjust the timing as needed. Depending upon how playful the ladies were feeling, it could well be an hour or more before we returned. Given that both Kal and Lyth started to cuddle with Nal and I before we even got them into the bathing basin, I was glad that I'd designed the timetable to be flexible at that point.
Tradition said the person being pampered was to basically sit back and enjoy the event. Joking was allowed, as was teasing, but you weren't supposed to take advantage of the situation. Consequently, the ladies mostly behaved themselves while Nal and I took great care in getting them clean. You don't however get close to somebody like we were getting and not get just a tiny bit aroused.
That wasn't the idea though and both of us managed to divert things towards a more romantic feeling instead. When we pulled them from the basin though and started toweling them dry, I have to admit the temptation to just throw my mate over my shoulder and carry her off kept nagging at me. Temptation resisted is gauge of character, so I figured both Nal and I were saints based on the looks we gave each other. After a simple grooming to keep everyone's fur from going nuts, we slipped the ladies back into their robes and walked them back to the bedroom. A bedroom that had been transformed while we were away.
Brightly colored cloth coverings were everywhere when Lan Louis met us and guided each of the ladies to where they were to sit. He'd also tracked down Penny while the rest of us had been busy and showed her the cradle he'd made that she was to sit in. When everything was set, he pulled out a collection of papers that he'd written his notes on and took his position.
"Ladies," I said from where I stood in the doorway. "Naldantis and I have a few last minute things to do before breakfast is served. To keep you from becoming bored though, we have arranged for some entertainment while we work." Looking down at my son, I told him "whenever you are ready," and I ducked out the doorway. I'd heard Lan practicing his poem before, and I really wanted to be out of earshot before he got started.
"An Ode to Mothers and Nice Ladies," came his voice from behind us as Nal tried to dash in front of me. "Hark, what light through yonder window breaks. It is Penny! She forgot to make sure it was open before flying through it ..."
We only needed about ten minutes to prepare the last of the breakfast we'd planned, but the rehearsal of Lan's poem had usually taken about fifteen. Nal and I both agreed that twenty was the minimum we were going to take before we returned. My son really meant well, but given the books he'd used in creating his poem, Vogon poetry would have been easier to stomach. That he was the one reciting it though, and that he had made sure each of the ladies was mentioned often, probably meant that they were all three eating it up. With a check of my watch, it was time they ate something else up also. So, with trays loaded and balanced, we returned to the bedroom to start the next phase of the operation.
"Ladies, I trust you enjoyed the entertainment?" It's impossible to tell what Penny is thinking if she isn't using her hologram to appear in human form. The expressions on Kal and Lyth's face though made me revise my estimate of how well they'd liked the poetry recital, downwards. They both though made real sure that the looks I got were not what Lan saw when he was looking their direction.
*I may have to hurt you for that,* came the stray thought from the lady who was supposed to love me.
*This should make up for it* I told her privately. "As I recall, both of you seem to like waffles and pancakes and French toast? We have a variety of syrups available this morning, including a nice lemon flavored one that I found while shopping." The looks we got as we placed their trays in front of them said that 'all was forgiven'.
I'm afraid Naldantis wasn't quite as practiced at this as I was. His reaction to Lythandi going out of her way to make sure that syrup managed to get spilled in strategic places was almost comical and more then slightly embarrassing for him. Kalindra had absolutely no qualms about making her intentions known. Syrup started getting dripped all over the place and I cleaned it off as required. It didn't take either of them long though to figure out that I'd cheated this time.
Those huge fluffy robes that we'd wrapped them up in had a couple of extra uses. They covered them fairly well, and anything that spilled on the robe got ignored, much to their annoyance. Second, they were warm. A fact that both of them started to realize about the same time. I'd planned it that way to make sure breakfast didn't turn into a long drawn out affair. It would have been an enjoyable affair to be sure, but it wouldn't have included Lan and this was a day that we three guys had been planning for a couple of weeks. So, with just a hint of a grumble, the two ladies finished their respective breakfasts and sat squirming in the robes that were getting warming by the moment. The fact the Penny figured out what I'd done and interrupted her conversation with Lan just long enough to snicker at their discomfort, didn't help much.
"There, that should keep you happy for awhile." The nibbling Kal had given my ear as I'd cleaned the last of the syrup from her face hinted that she'd have had little trouble finding something else to entertain herself with. "Maybe later," I whispered to her as I returned the nip and smiled. Then we cleared away the trays and proceeded to something I knew would get Nal and I forgiven any and all sins.
With the three ladies sitting and watching us, Nal, Lan and I each pulled out the packages Lan had moved to the bedroom earlier and started unwrapping them. I hadn't been sure just what to do with Penny for this part. In the end, the only thing I could do was involve her as best I could and hope it worked. So, Nal and I each unwrapped brand new clothes made from the brightest colored silk I could find and Lan unpacked some polishing compound and accessories. Then Nal and I each pulled our target to her feet so we could remove the robes they wore, while Lan made sure Penny was secure in her cradle as he began to polish the blemishes from her hull and front lens.
Nal and I had slightly more work ahead of us. Before the clothing went on, we each spent about a half hour with combs and brushes completing the job we'd started earlier. When the three of us finished about an hour after we started, I had little doubt that all of us had sore arms. The results though made the effort worth it. The three ladies the kept us poor guys lives so interesting, looked about as beautiful as I'd ever seen them.
I only had one thing left to do, and caught the echo of curiosity from my mate as I pulled a small box from where I'd stashed it a few days earlier. "Milady, if you would be so kind as to allow me access to your tail?" I could feel her curiosity, but Kal did flip her tail around and into my hands. Working my way down to the flare at the end, I carefully removed the old toy bell that she'd refused to get rid off simply because it was the first give of a personal nature I'd ever given her.
It had been meant as a joke all those years ago when we'd played tag in the dark. I'd cobbled it together a bell from a cat collar and a small clip and attached it to her before hiding. What I held in my hands now had taken quite a beating over the years and it showed. The small tin bell was bent, tarnished and just barely made noise even when bounced off of something solid. What it did have though was memories and I didn't believe either of us wanted to lose those. "Would you find someplace safe to store this?" I asked as I dropped it into her outstretched hand.
"You do intend to replace it with something, don't you? I'm not going to give up wearing it just because all three of you have gone crazy at the same time."
"Oh, I'm going to replace it all right," and I opened the small box I'd set on the floor. Inside was a new chime that sparkled even in the dim light of the bedroom. It consisted of two thin tube chimes and a clip, and if it ever showed signs of aging I was going to have serious words with the jeweler that had created it for me. Holding it up where Kal could see it, I shook it slightly so she could hear the dual tones that it made. Then as she broke into a smile, I ruffled the fur of her tail enough so I could clip it to the cartilage at the end and then smoothed out the ruffles. The moment I released it, she flipped her tail back and forth and listened to the tiny chimes announcing her presence to the world.
Getting back to my feet, I stepped back and took my place beside Nal and Lan, who had stood quietly while I'd presented my present. Together, the three of us smiled and admired our morning's handiwork.
"No bad," I said. "Not bad at all. The three of us have to be the luckiest males on the planet to have such beautiful ladies around."
"Agreed. Ours would drive all the rest to hide in shame," rumbled Naldantis as he smiled down at Lythandi.
"And those that don't hide would learn their lesson the hard way. Penny would see to that," added Lan Louis as he put away his polishing cloth.
It was time for the _real_ entertainment to begin, and I started it out. "Of course, Kalindra is the most beautiful of them all. Such a lovely tail, a nice red colored fur and green eyes that sparkle like the stars of the night."
"Hummm ..." came the grumble from beside me. "I am sorry to have to disagree with my Klizach, but the fair maiden Lythandi is the most beautiful of our family. She is thin, but with thick fur in all the right places. Her tail does not drag on the ground and her ears to not flap when she moves. Lythandi is definitely the most beautiful."
"You are both wrong," said my son in disgust. "Penny is the fairest of our family. She doesn't shed, she can defend herself and others with ease and she always knows the answers to my questions."
Both Nal and I looked at my son, then at Penny, and started to laugh. "You have to be kidding," I said between chuckles. "She might make a good paperweight, but that's about it." "I don't know about a paperweight, but she could probably find work as a doorstop," added Naldantis.
By this time, the ladies being discussed were becoming just a bit puzzled by what was going on. As far as the three of us were concerned, the more puzzled they were, the better we liked it.
Ignoring Lan for a moment, I turned to face Naldantis. "As Klizach of this family, I demand that you reconsider your opinion of my mate. How can you possibly believe that she is not the most beautiful!"
Nal took a leisurely glance towards Kalindra and replied, "Because she fat from eating all that candy. My Lythandi at least shows some self control."
"What? Self Control? Your Lythandi chases every male that crosses her path and anyone who hacks up hairballs and hides them under her part of the sleeping cushion doesn't get my vote for being beautiful." I didn't have to look to know what was going on beside us as Nal and I argued, I could feel the emotional storm through my link with Kalindra.
"You both insane! If my brains have to turn to mush when I grow up, I'm going to stay this size forever. How can I ever show my face in public again when my family honor can be lead around by its glands?"
I turned so I could see my son and told him to, "Be quiet. I'll deal with you after I teach this mountain of fur some manners." When I turned back to face Naldantis, I poked him in the chest with my finger. "You have insulted my mate and I demand an apology." My son, not being versed in the ways of the gentleman, simply snarled and attacked my leg as soon as my back was turned. Even while I argued with Nal, Lan wrapped himself around it and made a great show of knawing away at my ankle.
Naldantis simply laughed in my face. "Apologize? For what? I speak the truth even if you do not wish to admit it. It is _you_ who should apologize for slandering the fair Lythandi!"
Hobbling over to the bed for a moment, I picked up my pillow and hobbled back to stand before Nal -- Lan still knawing away at my leg the entire time. "This insult to my mate can not go unanswered!" Winding up, I pasted Naldantis along side the head with my pillow. "I will see you on the field on honor, varlet!" After giving him a wink with the eye the ladies couldn't see, I hobbled by him and headed for the stairway at the end of the hall. With a mock growl and a show of claws, he turned and followed, leaving the ladies standing alone in the bedroom.
"Are they crazy?" asked Lythandi.
"Are they ever _not_ crazy?" answered Kalindra.
"You two can stand there and argue about how crazy they are, but I've just got to see what happens next," came Penny's comment along with the occasional giggle.
With that, the three most beautiful and confused ladies on the planet ran from the room to catch up with us.
* * *
When they caught up with us, we were already prepared and standing outside in the morning sun. I had my staff, and both Lan Louis and Naldantis were standing at the other corners of our challenge triangle with their claws out and teeth bared.
"You refuse to admit your dishonor of the Klizan then?" They both just snarled and glared at me. "Then I have no choice but to teach you better manners and defend the name of my mate," and I thumbed my staff into life.
"Huh?" All three of us froze in place and turned to face Kalindra as she stood there and watched us. Then she called Lythandi and Penny to her and the three of them talked together for a moment. "I think I finally understand, and this will need to be done correctly" she told all of us when they looked up again. Then the three of them vanished into the house, only to return a few minutes later. They didn't return to where they had stood before though. Instead, they each approached their respective champion.
"Every champion should wear his ladies colors into battle," purred my mate in my ear just before she kissed me. Then she giggled a little and raised her skirt so she could grab a garter that she hadn't been wearing a minute ago and roll it down her leg while watching my reaction. When she finished removing it, she grabbed my arm and slipped it over my hand so she could slide it up my arm and snap it tight around my bicep. I just stood there looking silly and trying to figure out where she'd gotten it from as she slowly walked back to the edge of the lawn while swishing her tail slowly. When I finally got around to looking Nal and Lan, they each wore a different colored garter around their own arms and Nal kept turning his head so he could sniff at his.
"I think the game just got more interesting ..." I said to no one in particular. Then after each of us bowed to the lady whose honor we defended, we snarled at each other and got ready to do battle.
"I hate wasting time," I yelled at my opponents. "I'll just vaporize both of you and settle this quickly!" Trying to make sure I didn't drop it, I started twirling my staff in my hands. "Ho Ho, Ha Ha, Guard, Turn, Dodge, Parry, Spin, Thrust!" and I snapped my staff to the ready. I also triggered a preset sequence in the built-in computer which ignited a small smoke bomb.
[ Segmentation Violation in routine 'Vaporize Enemy', core dumped ] came the cheerful voice from my staff just before the smoke began pouring out of it. [ Have a nice day! ] and every light in the central computer section went dark. Two people started screaming about the same time as three others started laughing themselves silly. I just muttered an "Oh shit" loud enough for everyone to hear and threw the staff over my shoulder. "I don't suppose you'd let me go get another staff?" Naldantis yelled as loud as he could and charged me just as I got nailed in the side of the head by a cream pie.
Pie? That hadn't been in the script and I turned to see Smaug dropping another pie into my sons' hands before he disappeared again. "Hey, what's the idea ..." and I got caught flatfooted as Naldantis practically ran over me. The comments from the sidelines weren't helping me any either as Kalindra's laughter changed to a scream of anguish.
"Hey! Was that a lemon pie? If you idiots are wasting lemon pie I'll kill all three of you myself!"
It was lemon all right. I had my mouth open yelling at Naldantis when Lan pasted _him_ with the second pie and I caught part of it as it splattered. "That's it! No more mister nice Klizach. This is war!" and things went downhill from there.
Once or twice I actually got a little worried that my partners had forgotten who was supposed to win this little brawl. Child or not, Lan had sharp teeth and he got a little over exuberant as he leapt into the pile and started knawing on anything that got close. In the end though, I reminded them both who Kalindra's champion was and that _I_ was going to be the winner. When the dust finally settled, I stood with one foot in the middle of Nal's chest, the remains of the pillow I'd teleported from my bed in one hand and my son hanging by his tail from the other.
"Victory!" I yelled as I shook a glob of whipping cream from where it had slid out of my hair and into my eyes. "The name of the fair lady Kalindra has been vindicated and the pitiful unbelievers taught their lesson. It's gonna be a great day!" Lowering my son from where I'd been levitating him, I turned to face my mate. "The enemy has been vanquished my lady. How else may I serve you?" As I stepped towards her I threw the remains of the pillow over my shoulder and listened to the screams as the feathers that it still contained were scattered all over the pie spattered fur of my companions.
"I have defended your honorable name this day my lady," I told Kalindra as she motioned for me to stop before I could get close enough to drip all over her new clothes. "May I ask what my reward will be?"
While I stood there, Lythandi and Penny each ran to check on the condition of their fallen champions. Kalindra just gave me a critical look and then a sniff of disdain. "I wasn't aware that gentleman required rewards for doing their duty. I suppose though I might be enticed into giving you a kiss."
Leaning over close to her, I smiled and said, "part of this mess is lemon frosting. Want to help me cleanup?" With a giggle, she grabbed my shirt in one of the few spots that wasn't covered with goo and lead me toward the house. Only one thing worried me as we stepped through the doorway. Behind me, I heard two very distinctive female voices talking about how they would have to train their champions better for next year.
"Don't be afraid to grab that ponytail of his and remember that he's insanely ticklish," came a voice that sounded like Lythandi.
"Ok kiddo, let me tell you about this wonderful technique for defense called Judo," said Penny as she talked to my son.
The things I put up with in the name of love ...