This AU is categorized as Sci-fi alternative Universe. The planet is Tamax. The geography is similar to Earth, but the native inhabitants, Tamaxians, are 4x the size of humans. They are humanoids. On Tamax, humans are beasts, mostly used as pets. Sevenís Kennel is situated on a 100-acre island, 10 miles from the mainland. Sevenís Kennel raise, board and breed humans. The closest city is called Four Corners. Humans are raised and treated like we treat our pets. They are pack animals, with basic social structures within the pack. Humans speak but Tamaxians donít understand human and humans donít understand Tamaxians except for basic commands that they are trained to recognize. The human language translates as noises to the Tamaxians.
Cycle = season (4 seasons in a yearn)
Tamaxian = Human
Chris = Alpha Male
Buck walked over to the cage part of the kennels and waved at Chris.
//Buck// Chris stood up and moved toward Buck who was standing near the cage wall.
//Just saw a boat. Amandaís on her way back//
//Good. Then maybe I can get out of this damn cage//
//You know Chris, if you would stop growling at Barnes and getting into trouble, then he wouldnít lock you up when Amanda was gone."
//Whatever! The maxís a jerk//
//Howís Vin?// Chris looked back toward the housing part of the kennel.
//Okay today. Heíll be happy Amandaís back too//
//He hasnít been outside since Barnes yelled and took a swing at him//
//The idiot should know better than to raise his voice or his hand to Vin. Heís just a pup. I should have bitten him//
//Good move stud. Then you end up muzzled too//
//I just wish Amanda could see what an idiot he is//
//With John gone for the last two weeks, she needed the help//
//We would be better off by ourselves. Between you, me, Josiah and Nate, we could keep the mates and pups safe. Thatís how the ancestors did it//
//But they also had to hunt for their food, sleep in the rain and fight for the right to mate//
//All of which is highly overrated//
Just then Jake approached and banged on the side of the cage with a large stick. "Buck, get away from there." Buck stepped back and whispered to Chris. //Iíll go hurry Amanda along Chris//
//Thanks Buck// Buck ran off as Chris growled at Barnes.
"You donít like me Chris and I donít like you. If it were up to me, I would have had you destroyed. Youíre not good for anything anymore. You and Tanner both." Jake banged the cage once more and walked toward the boat landing where Amanda was docking her boat.
//Jerk// Chris turned to see Vin come out of his house. They both met at the cage wall that separated the two spaces. //Hey Pard. You doing okay?// Chris asked.
//Yeah. Iíll be better when Amanda and John are home//
//Amanda just arrived. Buck went down to meet her//
//He just wants to see if she brought any wymax//
Chris smiled and then frowned. Vin asked, //Whatís wrong Cowboy?//
Chris tried to glare at Vinís choice of words, but then sighed when it just made Vin laugh. //I was just wondering why Amanda keeps me around anymore//
//Youíve been with Amanda since you were a whelp Chris//
//So? Since Ella, Iím just not interested in a new mate. Jake gets mad when they put someone with me and I just growl at her or him. He said he would destroy me//
//Donít listen to that jerk Barnes. Amanda would never destroy you even if you were to never mate again. Youíre the only one she tolerates on her bed at night//
Chris smiled. //She wouldnít care if we all got on the bed if the bed were big enough for seven humans and two Tamaxians//
//True but it does hold seven humans//
As they were talking, JD came bounding toward them with Buck hot on his heels, chasing him. Amanda and Jake were talking and walking behind them.
//Which oneís the pup?// Vin smiled at Buck and JD.
//Hard to tell most days// As Jake and Amanda got closer to the kennel housing, Chris could hear what they were saying. He never let on, but after living with Amanda for his entire life, he knew most Tamaxian and understood what his masters were saying; so did Josiah.
"Then the beast snapped at me. The only reason I was able to get him into the kennel was because he was drunk."
"Jake, Iíve warned you about leaving liquor around when Chris is close. The poor boy is a lush." Amanda laughed as she saw how frustrated Jake was. She moved toward Chrisí kennel to unlock the door.
"If he were mine, Iíd put the beast down. Heís dangerous."
"Jake. Chris is my baby. If he never mates again, he will always be safe with me. He can retire with Josiah." Amanda unlocked the pen and Chris immediately moved to Amanda and snuggled close. "BesidesÖ" Amanda said as she petted Chrisí head. "Heís been through a rough time this last yearn. He just doesnít seem to like you Jake."
"And Tanner! Heís just come outside today. Heís hardly eaten and hides from me. You should train him to come when heís called."
"He comes when I call him." Amanda unlocked Vinís pen and called to the skiddish pup. Vin immediately moved to Amanda and bounced around Chris. "Tanner just misses me. Heís use to being inside the house not the kennels."
//That and Jake dragged him out of the house// Chris growled.
Amanda smiled as Chris took a playful swat at Vin. "Come on boys. Letís go see what kind of trouble Buck and JD are causing."
//Come on Vin. Letís get away from Barnes and check on the other pups//
//You do know that we hate it when you call us pups. We just arenít as old as you or Nate or Buck or Josiah// Vin teased.
//OLD! Iíll show you old// Chris lunged toward Vin but he easily dodged Chris and ran off with Chris in hot pursuit.
"Itís not safe to let them have free reign. The seven are worth a lot of mim."
"Jake, this is their home and they can defend themselves pretty well. They are actually more defenseless when in the kennels. Itís a ten-mile swim to shore and there are no vehicles to run them down. The island is safe and as Iíve said before, they all come when I call them."
"Hurumph! They donít come when I call them. Itís easier to keep them locked up."
"Whatís the real problem Jake? The fact that they run free or that my Alpha doesnít like you?"
"I donít care if Chris likes me or not. It would be nice if he didnít growl so much, but I can still do my job without him liking me. Besides, you lock up the others, why not the seven?"
"The others are just boarders and not trained as well. Besides, when John and I started this business, we did it because of the seven. This is their home first and they are part of the business second."
Jake knew he couldnít change Amandaís mind. She would never understand that you need to keep humans controlled or they could become dangerous. Jake decided to change the subject. "Do you need me for anything else before I head home for the weekend?"
"No. Go ahead. John should be home tomorrow and Iím good until then."
"Then I will see you Monday." Jake Barnes headed for the boathouse to get his boat and go home.
Vin poked Chris. //Heís leaving//
//Good. I wish I could communicate to John and Amanda what a jerk he is//
//I think you do pretty well with growling, but then again you growl at everyone//
//Keep it up pup and youíll be sleeping on you stomach tonight// Vin knew the threat was hollow. Chris very seldom resorted to physical correction of any of the pups, but especially with Vin.
//Maybe you should have just bitten Jake//
//All that would have done was leave a bad taste in my mouth and make Amanda scold me. Then John would make me stay in the kennel//
//Johnís not home// Vin observed.
//He will be tomorrow though and I like sleeping in the house on the bed//
Chris and Vin entered the house and went into the large den that was where the seven gathered when in the house. Lying on the couch, trying to take a nap, was Josiah. Unfortunately, Ezra and JD had other plans and were pushing and tickling Josiah to get him to play with them. They all stopped at the deep growl that was sent along with two not so gentle swats at Ezra and JD. Both pups yelped and moved to hide behind Chris.
//Iím not protecting you two troublesome pups. Go bother Buck// Chris growled. They have way too much energy.
//Buckís with Inez, trying to get her to recognize his animal maggottism// JD said.
//Thatís Magnetism pup// Buck said as he entered the den followed by Nate. //And sheíll be mine as soon as she stops fighting destiny//
//Whatever Buck// JD yawned and sat next to Buck, who let the pup snuggle close. Ezra moved toward Josiah with caution. Josiah noticed and opened his arms with a smile.
//Come here Ez// Ezra immediately snuggled with Josiah. Nate settled down near Josiah and then Vin joined them. It didnít take long for all seven of them to be asleep curled up close to each other. Chris stayed on the outer edge of the heap to protect his pack. Chris raised his head when Amanda came into the den and smiled at her babies. She quietly motioned him over and they went outside.
Amanda knew Chris only understood the trained commands, but she liked to talk out loud to her humans. Little did she know, that because of this, Chris understood almost everything she said to him and the others. "So Chris, why donít you like Jake?" Chris knew she wouldnít understand him, but he always replied to her. Amanda only heard the low growl.
//Because heís an abusive idiot//
"Jake said you broke into the liquor cabinet and got smashed."
//I did not break in. The idiot gave it to me to calm me down and to keep me from biting him//
"I checked the cabinet though and it doesnít look like you broke in. I can always tell, you know." Chris tried to keep the shock off his face, but Amanda must have seen it because she looked confused. "Why do I get the impression that you understood me?" Amanda dismissed it as she entered the housing units that they used for boarding and breeding outside of their own pack. Chris hated this part of the kennel because it reminded him of Ella and he still missed her. Amanda kept talking out loud as she walked through the kennel into the connecting kennel. "We have company coming tomorrow Chris. John is bringing a reporter from the Clarion, a Mary Travis, to do a story about you and the rest of the seven. So tonight you all need baths."
Chris stopped dead in his tracks. He hated being wet and baths were even worse. If Amanda had any doubt Chris understood Tamaxian, they were gone now when she noticed Chris had stopped and was scowling. She smiled. "Come now boy. You want to look your best, donít you?"
Chris didnít move. //Hell no// was his answer though.
Amanda made a hand motion and Chris knew it meant for him to "come". He thought about disobeying, but he knew he wouldnít. He was too well trained and loved Amanda too much. He would protect her with his life. He moved to her side and she rubbed his head. "I know you hate the water but after dinner you all need a bath." Sometimes Chris wished he could run away and hide from everything. Maybe he could hide long enough for Amanda to forget giving him a bath.
They walked toward the sevenís housing unit and entered. Amanda noticed Chrisí and Vinís rooms needed cleaning, since they were in them all week. The other spaces were fine, although the pupís spaces were cluttered with toys. Raine was sleeping quietly in Nateís space and Inez was sleeping in her own space. Amanda hoped to get her to accept Buck soon. Buck was willing.
Amanda entered the storage room and moved toward the far wall. Chris watched as she entered a security code and a hidden panel opened to reveal a surveillance room. Chris tilted his head and Amanda laughed at it. "It bothered me that you seemed to hate Jake so much. At first I thought the others were just picking up on your dislike, but Iíve been watching him and theyíre afraid of Jake while you are outwardly hostile. So John and I decided to add this security and record what goes on when we leave Jake in charge. There are hidden cameras everywhere now." Amanda moved to the VCR and removed a few videocassettes. She moved out toward the main house after locking up the hidden room. "Letís go eat Chris."
Amanda made dinner and then fed the boys. After dinner, Chris moved to the master bedroom and hid under the bed. He hoped Amanda would overlook him and leave him be. Chris listened to the complaints and in JDís case, tears, as Amanda bathed each of them. Chris was dozing when the bedroom door opened. "Chris! You canít hide under there all night."
//Can to// Chris growled.
"Chris! Come! Now!"
//Damn// Chris thought about disobeying but he knew he wouldnít.
"Now Chris!" Chris slowly crawled out from under the bed. Amanda immediately grabbed his collar and swatted his thigh. "Now means now, not when you feel like it." Amanda led Chris to the bathhouse. She quickly bathed him, knowing he hated being wet. After Chris was dry, he snuggled close to Amanda to apologize. Amanda smiled and hugged Chris close as she carried him into the den with everyone else. She sat down on the couch and settled in to watch the surveillance videos from the kennel. Chris settled down next to her to watch also. He knew what Jake did when no one was looking and was hoping there was something to help get rid of him.
Two hours later, Amanda was so engrossed in the videos that she didnít know anyone had docked and was at the door until Chris started to growl. She looked up and saw Ezra, JD and Vin wrestling while Josiah and Chris were sitting by her.
"Whatís wrong boy?" She asked Chris. Josiah suddenly jumped up and headed for the door. Whatever Josiah said to the other seven, made them all jump up and head for the front door. Amanda followed them and smiled as her husband John came through the door. Seven humans and his wife immediately mauled John.
"Now thatís what I call a welcome." He patted Chrisí head as he passed him.
"We missed you. I thought you were coming in tomorrow? Is Mrs. Travis still coming?"
"Well, I picked up a surprise and had to come a day early."
"What kind of surprise?"
"Youíll see. I have to pick up Mrs. Travis at the landing at 9am tomorrow morning."
"Good. Whereís this surprise?" Amanda asked.
"Youíre worse that a kid. The surprise is out in the kennel."
"Well, letís go look." Amanda turned toward the seven. "You boys stay in the house. Youíre clean and I expect you all to stay that way." Amanda and John quickly escaped and laughed at the seven as they tried to get out.
//Come on Chris! We canít just sit here// Buck said.
//Yes we can. Iím NOT getting wet again tonight. One bath is one too many// Chris sat down and contented himself with watching Buck, Ezra, Vin and JD try to get outside.
//Youíd think Buck would know better// Josiah said to Chris.
//Heís worse than the pups//
//That he is//
"So John, whatís this surprise?" They walked toward the kennel for boarders.
"I saw Hank Connelly in Eagle Bend. He was pretty sick. He lost his wife to the Tamaxian Flu a few months ago and now he has it."
"Thatís horrible. Howís he doing?"
"Heís not. I guess the doctors donít expect him to make it another cycle. While we were talking he asked me if we could use another human. He had a young female who just came of breeding age. She was beautiful and in pretty good condition considering Hank has been too sick to take care of her properly. I agreed to take her and brought her home."
"Whatís her name?"
"Sarah." They moved to a kennel house that had a sleeping female in it. She was small but very pretty.
"Hank gave me a good price because he wanted her to go to a good home and was afraid his family would sell her to Stuart James. He only charged me 20 mims."
"Thatís good. Where you thinking about mating her or breeding her? We really could use another breeder."
"I was really hoping our "bad boy" would take her as his mate."
"Chris? He hasnít shown any interest in mating since Gaines reclaimed his female after Chris mated."
"I know, but it would be more profitable to get Chris back into action. I wish we could have convinced Gaines to leave Ella with us, but he was too interested in being vindictive to listen to reason. He just wanted to hurt us."
"Instead he hurt Chris."
"Yeah, and in a way Gaines did hurt us, because Chris hasnít been any good as a stud since. We need to get him mated so we can start advertising Chris again as a stud. If it wasnít for Buckís ability to be interested in every female we bring in, we wouldnít be making enough to keep the kennel open."
"Buck does like his work." They both laughed. While all seven were of excellent stock, Buck was the most enthusiastic about his work. They were actually hoping Buck would mate with Inez to calm him down a little. His pups would bring a nice price too."
"I figured we could see what happens between Sarah and Chris and let nature take its course. While I would never get rid of Chris, he isnít earning his keep."
"If he wonít mate, I thought we could start him in some of the kennel shows. Heís well trained and I suspect he understands Tamaxian extremely well." Amanda said.
"Thatís definitely an option, but I have a good feeling about Sarah. She should fit in nicely."
"Well, you were right about Raine and Nate."
"Yeah but they danced around each other for two cycles before they mated. And now Buck and Inez are dancing around each other."
"You know some humans are very picky and Nate and Inez are two of them." Amanda paused. "We better get inside before the seven tear the house apart."
John and Amanda entered the house to find Buck trying to pry open the hatch that leads to the outside. Ezra, Vin and JD were curled up with Chris and Josiah asleep. Chris looked up and made a noise at BuckÖ//Buck stop it//, who spoke back, //Fine but I will find out what the surprise is// and stopped trying to get out. Amanda laughed.
"We really need to find someone who speaks and understands human. I think Chris understands Tamaxian and that they talk amongst themselves, but I donít know what they are saying."
"Chris keeps them all in line though. It certainly makes training pups easier."
"Speaking of training, I think we need to talk about Jake."
"Jake? Donít tell me the cameras picked something up?"
"Not just something John. Heís been abusing my babies."
John sat down and petted Chris. "What kind of abuse?"
"He terrorized poor Tanner all week as he was attempting to train him. He only stopped after Chris stopped him from hitting Tanner. Then the poor pup hid for the rest of the week. Jake then hit Chris and when he couldnít get Chris to go into the kennel, he gave Chris liquor out of the cabinet and let him get drunk. Once Chris was too smashed to fight back, he dragged him to his kennel and left him there."
John moved his hands all over Chris. "Is he okay?" John noticed some small scratches and a bruise on his thigh. Chris leaned into the touch.
"He appears to be. Nothing major. I cleaned up the scratches after his bath."
"Bath?" John smiled and looked at Chris. "She made you get wet boy? Iím sorry, we wonít let that mean old Amanda abuse you anymore." Chris was purring under the attention and snuggled closer to John.
"Sure make me the bad guy. If you had been home you would have done the same thing."
"Yep, but he doesnít know that." John didnít notice Chris wink at Josiah. //I do now// Chris rumbled.
"What else?" John asked.
"He tried to get Chris to mate with a few of the boarders. Even went as far as trying to assistance him, until Josiah growled at Jake. He threw JD in the bay and laughed as Buck rescued him. The poor pup canít swim yet and was so traumatized that when I gave JD his bath tonight he cried the entire time. He usually loves his bath time. I just assumed he was feeding off of Chrisí fear but then I saw the tape."
"Iíll fire him tomorrow and advertise for a new handler. I just canít believe heís fooled us for so long. He came highly recommended."
"Yeah, by Stuart James, and heís a ruthless max who has no regard for human life. His breeding and training methods border on cruelty to humans."
"Iíll take care of it tomorrow after the interview. What do you say we go to bed?" John waggled his eyebrows at his wife.
"I could sleep." She winked back. They locked the doors and checked on the humanís restroom, then headed for bed. When Chris stood to join them, John stopped him with a single command to "stay". Chris lay back down.
"Good boy Chris." John shut the door and joined his wife in bed.
//Geesh Chris. For a smart Alpha sometimes you ainít to smart//
//I just wasnít thinking okay?// Chris moved to a quiet corner of the house to wait for the bedroom door to open. He knew, at some point it would, and he could crawl onto the masterís bed. Chris was almost asleep when he heard JD ask Buck why the bedroom door was closed. He laughed when Buck yelled //Chris!//
When Amanda woke up she smiled at the sight before her. Snuggled between herself and her husband, was Chris, sound asleep.
"I think heís coming between us ĎManda." John said with mischief in his eyes.
"I think he IS between us." Chris heard voices and stretched. He was too comfortable to worry about anything at the moment though. "Heís too cute." Amanda said as she rubbed Chrisí head. Chris started to purr.
"Cute? Heís a 3 malox beast."
"But heís still cute." Amanda kissed Chrisí temple then carefully got up and got dressed. John entered the den and smiled at the rest of the seven. They were all curled up together on the large couch. Amanda came in from the kitchen with their breakfast.
"Honey, breakfast is ready."
"Okay." Amanda set out the humanís food and joined John in the kitchen. John ate quickly and then headed out to pick-up Mrs. Travis. Amanda then went in to wake Chris so she could make the bed. She gave Chris a playful swat on the thigh and was completely shocked when Chris jumped and snapped at her. She was startled and Chris immediately looked ashamed. He moved to get off the bed to run and hide, but Amanda stopped him.
Chris stopped once he hit the floor but he wouldnít look up. He just wanted to escape. He never snapped at Amanda before. Amanda saw how sad he looked and gathered Chris into her arms. Chris started to cry and whimper. Buck came to the door when he heard Chrisí distress. //Iím sorry// Chris kept saying.
"Shh boy. Iím sorry I startled you. I should have known you would react after being with Jake all week."
//Iím sorry. Iím so stupid. Please donít hate me//
//Chris? Amanda could never hate you// Buck said.
Amanda rocked Chris in her arms until Chris relaxed. She looked at his eyes and kissed his forehead. "I love you very much Chris. You have and always will be my baby." Chris nodded and Amanda smiled. "You do understand Tamaxian donít you?" Chris nodded again. "I wish I spoke human. Come on, letís go get you fed and this bed made." Chris let Amanda carry him into the den, where he sat down to eat his breakfast while Amanda cleaned the bedroom.
John docked the boat and helped Mrs. Travis out onto the landing. It was a beautiful morning with a gentle breeze coming off of the bay. As they approached the house, Mrs. Travis whistled. "Itís beautiful Mr. Jenkins."
"Thank you and please call me John."
"Okay, John. This place is wonderful."
"Wait until you see the rest. Amanda and the seven are all inside since she wonít let the boys out until you see them all clean and neat. They will be dirty ten seconds after they hit the yard." John entered the house and was greeted by Ezra, Vin and JD. Mrs. Travis came into the house and was introduced to Amanda and the seven. "Mrs. Travis? These pups are Ezra, Tanner and JD."
//Why do they keep calling me Tanner? My name is Vin//
//Donít stress it Cowboy// Chris said. //JD stop bouncing//
"Mrs. Travis. Itís good to meet you."
"You too Mrs. Jenkins."
"Please call me Amanda."
"Okay, and you can call me Mary."
"Would you like to sit out on the deck? The boys have been cooped up all morning and as you can see the pups need to run off some energy."
"Certainly." They all moved to the deck as the seven ran into the yard, everyone but Chris. John noticed Chris was sticking close to Amanda. He became even more curious when Chris lay across Amandaís feet once they sat down.
"Whatís with Chris?" John asked his wife.
"He had a little scare this morning and so heís sticking close."
"Oh dear." Mary said. "Is he okay?"
"Yes, heís fine. I was gone all week and heís usually pretty clingy when I get home."
"Heís a very beautiful human. Heís one of the seven correct?" Mary took out her note pad to take notes for her article.
"He was the first. I got Chris when he was just a whelp. His mother died giving birth to him and the max that owned them didnít know how to nurse a whelp, so he gave Chris to me. I fed him and trained him."
"How old is he?"
"Heís about 100 cycles. In human terms, heís 25 yearn."
"And the others?"
John spoke. "I had Josiah and Nate when Amanda and I got married. She had Chris and I bought Buck as a wedding gift. Josiahís the oldest at 35 yearn and Buck is only 20 yearn. Both were pups when I bought them. Josiahís owner was a missionary and Buckís owner was running a flesh palace. Nate was a working human before working was abolished. I bought him legally about two yearns after I found him wandering around. He had run off and was lucky he hadnít been killed. He was only 10 yearn when I found him. Heís 18 yearn now. I tracked down his owner and with working abolished by then; the max couldnít afford to keep all the humans so he sold Nate to me. Iím afraid a lot of humans were destroyed before there was a law to protect them from mass destruction."
"It was horrible. I did a couple of stories about the mass killings before the law protected human rights."
Chris was getting restless with all the talk of killing humans. Amanda noticed and patted his head to calm him down. "Chris?" When Chris looked up, Amanda continued. "Why donít you go play?" She also made the hand motion for the go command. Chris didnít want to go play. He felt bad about snapping at her and wanted to stay close, so he didnít move.
"What happened this morning Amanda? Heís never been this bad after you came home."
"I was going to tell you later Honey." Amanda looked at Mary. "Iím sorry, Mary. Our handler was just discovered abusing the seven while I was away last week. Chris was asleep on our bed this morning and I gave him a playful swat and it startled him so badly that he snapped at me."
"He WHAT?" John yelled. Chris cringed and moved closer to Amanda to avoid a blow. John noticed his reaction and tried to calm down.
"He didnít hurt me Honey and when he realized what happened he got upset."
John reached out and gathered Chris into his arms. At first Chris thought he was going to be punished but John calmed him down with his rhythmic petting. "Iím sorry boy. I didnít mean to yell and I know you wouldnít hurt Amanda." Chris calmed and snuggled deeper into Johnís arms.
Mary spoke. "What about the bastard who abused them?"
"Iím going to fire him today after I drop you off back in Four Corners." John said.
"Weíll still need to find another handler though. The kennel is too big for just the two of us anymore." Amanda added.
"I know someone who is excellent with humans and is looking for a place to work and live. She also has a human pup."
"We have a small cottage for a handler already. Jake only used it when we were gone. And one more human pup would be no problem." John said.
//Speak for yourself// Grumbled Chris.
Amanda smiled at Chrisí grumble. She could guess what he was thinking about pups and endless energy.
"Well, let me give her a call and see if she could come and you can interview her."
"Not a problem. I hate to see humanís abused." Mary wrote herself a note to make that phone call as John set Chris back down, who immediately returned to Amandaís feet.
"So how did you get your pups? Were they born here?" Mary asked.
"Tanner was abused by his first owner and I essentially rescued him. I was down in Tascosa when the authorities killed Tannerís owner. They found Tanner starved, and half dead. They were going to put him down because he was so wild and no one could get near him. I convinced them to let me have him if I would calm him down. He was only 5 yearn."
"Just a pup." Mary said.
"Heís 7 yearn now, but heís still jumpy. He was afraid of Tamaxians. I had Chris with me and when I was speaking to the sheriff, Chris snuck over and calmed the pup down. There was an instant connection. So much so that Chris took Tannerís hand and led him over to me and showed the pup he could trust me."
"And the other two?"
"JD was born here. His mother was boarded here while she was carrying JD. The owner didnít want another human and instead of having JD destroyed we offered to take care of them both until JD was weaned. Then the owner took his human and left. We raised JD with a lot of help from Buck, who took to the pup right away. JD just turned 4 yearns old." John said.
"Ezraís mother was here for awhile, while the Standishís traveled Europe. His mother, Maude, wasnít supposed to be able to have pups, but Josiah got to her somehow and she got pregnant. They know about Ezra but donít acknowledge him. Josiah takes care of his pup and the Standishís still board Maude here once in a while. They ignore Ezra though."
"That seems harsh." Mary said.
"It could have been worse. They could have sued for damages. Josiah is of good stock so they didnít make a big issue of it, but they could have ruined us if they had wanted to. I still never figured out how Josiah got to Maude though."
//She came to him// Chris growled.
Mary, John and Amanda talked some more until Buck came running up to the porch. //Hey stud. You have to come to the houses and see whatís there//
//No I donít Buck so leave me alone// Chris growled.
Amanda swatted Chris on the thigh. "Thatís enough growling. Go with Buck. Now!"
Chris could see Amanda meant it and he didnít want to be swatted again, so he slowly moved off the deck porch. When he looked back, Amanda shooed them away.
"Youíd think you were sending him to his death." John remarked.
"Heíll get over it." Amanda replied as she turned back to the interview.
//What is so damned important that I had to leave Amanda to see?//
//You gonna sulk all day? She forgave you Chris//
//Just leave me alone Buck//
//Come on Chris. You wonít regret it//
Buck lead Chris to the boarding kennel. Chris stopped at the door. //We arenít allowed in there Buck//
//Pish posh. Everyone else is in there except the pups//
//I donít want to sleep in the kennel if the masters catch us//
//You grumble too much Chris// Buck pulled Chris into the kennel. John watched the whole scene from the surveillance cameras. He then excused himself and headed for the boarding kennel.
Chris entered and immediately heard the distress of a female. He moved to the kennel and saw a frightened female curled up in the corner.
//Move back guys, youíre scaring her. Go on, get!// Chris smiled. Sheís beautiful. //Hey, donít let those guys scare you. Are you okay?// Sarah looked up at the soft voice. Heís beautiful. //My name is Chris. Whatís yours?//
She approached the cage door and smiled. //Sarah//
//Well, Sarah, welcome to Sevens Kennel. Are you visiting or staying for good?// Please be staying.
//My owner sold me to the man who put me here// A single tear ran down her cheek. Chris reached through the chain link and wiped it away and smiled.
//Thatís good news then. Soon the masters will show you around and then you wonít have to stay in your house all the time//
//That would be nice//
"CHRIS! What are you doing in here?" John yelled. Chris immediately jumped and then fell to his knees and lowered his head with a whimper. "Sorry Chris. I didnít mean to yell." John had watched the way Chris was interacting with Sarah and was hopeful. "Would you like to show Sarah around?" Chris pretended to not understand as he tilted his head. "Come on boy." John motioned Chris over and unlocked Sarahís cage. Chris smiled at John and then turned to Sarah.
//You want a tour?// Chris asked Sarah.
//Really. John said I could show you around//
//You understood Tamaxian?//
//Yes, but they donít understand us//
John opened the cage and let Chris lead her out. He watched the two humans head toward the rest of the seven. Chris spent the afternoon showing Sarah around and how to get in and out of the kennels and the main house. By the time he had given Sarah the complete tour, he was completely smitten with her. For the first time in a yearn, Chris was interested in a female.
John took Mary back to Four Corners and went to fire Jake. Mary set up a meeting with the Jenkins and her handler friend. She hadnít told the Jenkins, but her friend could understand the humanís language and thatís what made her such a good handler. Monday came and Mary introduced John and Amanda to her friend.
"John. Amanda. I want to introduce you to Nettie Wells."
The Jenkins loved Nettie from the start and offered her the job when Tanner was the first of the seven to approach her and snuggle close. This action brought all of the seven in for a closer look.
Within that week, Nettie and her human pup, Casey, moved into the cottage and took over the handler duties. Nettie was shown where the seven stayed when not in the house. Tanner didnít leave her side for most of the week.
Chris had been cautious at first even with Vin taking to her so quickly. Everything changed one afternoon, when Josiah and Chris were talking close to Nettie and Casey.
//What do you think about Nettie, Josiah?//
//I think Vin loves her already and thatís saying quite a bit//
"Whoís Vin?" Nettie asked John and Amanda, not knowing Chris knew Tamaxian.
//Did she just say what I think she said?// Chris asked Josiah.
//Sounds like it// Josiah said.
//You think maybe she understood me?//
"We have no Vin here Nettie." Amanda said.
//Yes we do// Chris automatically answered.
"Chris says there is."
Chris and Josiah looked at each other and smiled. //She understood what I said//
"Nettie? Do you understand human?" John asked.
"Iím afraid so. Iíll understand if you donít want me to work for you."
"No, thatís great." Amanda said with excitement.
"You still want to hire me?"
"YES!" John and Amanda said together.
"Really? Most people think Iím a freak."
"Not us. Iíve always wanted to know what the seven were thinking. I also suspected Chris understood Tamaxian and if so you two can communicate." Amanda rambled.
Nettie turned to Chris and smiled. "Chris?" His ears perked up. "Do you understand what Iím saying?"
//Yes// Chris nodded also.
Nettie smiled and turned to Amanda and John at the same time Chris turned to Josiah. "He understands us." //She understands us// was said at the same time.
"Amazing. Nettie, I think youíll fit right in around here." John said.
"I just have one question?" Amanda said. "Whoís Vin?" She looked toward Chris. Nettie asked, "Well?"
//Tanner is Vin. Vin is his human name// Chris responded.
Nettie smiled again. "It turns out Tannerís real name is Vin."
"Well, Iíll be dipped. We didnít know if he had another name when he was found so we called him Tanner because that was his owners name."
//He prefers Vin. Tanner brings back bad memories for him. Nettie please tell them that."
"I will Chris." Nettie patted Chris on the head and turned back to Amanda and John and shared what Chris had said. They agreed to change his name back to Vin and not use Tanner anymore.
Meanwhile, Josiah had run off to tell everyone about how special Miss Nettie was. Chris snuggled up to Nettie and said //Thank you// The sound came out as a contented sigh to John and Amanda.
"Iím glad he likes you Nettie."
"Is that right Chris? You like me?" Nettie smiled as Chris took her hand and said, //Weíre gonna get along just fine Nettie. Let me show you how our world works//
The End (or just the beginning)