Kayla: Mirror of Evil
In the 28th century, the technology of rejuvenation allows for immortality. This device is also used for sentencing as well. A penitatas; a criminal that is sent back to childhood to live a highly strict and disciplined life to start anew. (Story Fifty)
Concept by Lurking Dragon
Kayla and story by Professor Bob
More Kayla Stuff!: www.Professor-Bob.net
Deep within the reinforced walls and corridors of Starfleet Installation Eighty Eight, the large, sloping control room was dark and bustling with loud commotion. It was reminiscent to those six months prior, staring down the massive screens of technical data and grid schematics for DeltaStar Bank. Against a blue background, a green, top down representation and side view were surrounded by intricate red lines extending from the station, graphically showing points of critical interest. In the middle of the controlled chaos in the dark light of the room, lit only by the surrounding screens and displays, stood the facility's commander, Malcolm Falstaff. The glow of the main displays flickered and danced off the dark stubble on his face, shining against his solid, almost emotionless expression as his eyes stared off into the sea of information. At his waist, where his hands resided in a tight ball, was the interactive table with it's own display he had used times past. Ignored, it too blinked a series of warnings and communiqué, highlighting specific sections of the interplanetary banking platform. His silence was prompted by critical thought, and a type of disbelief.
"DeltaStar confirming power coupling failures, multiple decks.", a nearby female officer announced at her console, placing a hand upon the communications device in her ear to counteract the loud noise of the room. Others stepped by their commanding officer, moving past his stone-wall expression to move information by hand from one officer to another. Clacks of data-pads and voices drowned in the room, along side the chirps of com-badges.
"Acknowledging; DeltaStar platform is offline - interplanetary markets have halted. Station is on auxiliary subspace communications, audio only.", Commander Falstaff heard another officer announce, male, professionally. Though, having been in command of his operations installation for so long, he could sense the tension in his voice. The tension in the room. Evidence streaming across their displays laid a choking veil over the entire room. Chests tight, the weight of such a catastrophe enveloped them all.
In the haste of the room, one figure walked slowly, with the same sense of calm as his superior. Down the steps and center aisle, floor lighting illuminating his black boots dully, they met at Commander Falstaff's side. Lieutenant Blaine Brayden, like his commanding officer's right hand, stared off into the displays and critical graphical data pertaining to the calamity at hand. Standing together in the same expressionless silence, the pair knew well what they were up against, and how damning it was to see it again. With a blink, Blaine opened his eyes with his pupils shifted towards his superior.
"There have been no reports of missing Penitatas.", Lieutenant Brayden spoke just above the noise of the room to convey. Falstaff shook his head, not moving a single hand from the command table they stood beside. The reports coming in from the station and it's status continued, flowing around them in the sea of motion and voices.
"She's the only one capable of this. Or, should be.", the Commander replied, looking off at the representation of DeltaStar on their central display. Only one person had ever disabled and successfully attacked the banking platform, and they had done it more than once. It was a tough name to say, after the Christmas prior. The two did not have to share her name. It was obvious there was only one possible reference as to whom "she" was.
"Headquarters must be looking at the same thing, coming to the same conclusion.", Blaine assumed per logic, turning his head from the wall of sprawling displays and over to his side to speak more directly.
"The last pieces of telemetry we received indicates another robbery, not just another hacker. In only six months, there will be panic about the stability of the markets and their safety from technological assault.", the younger man spoke more quietly, using his proximity to make the words more private in the confusion of the glowing control centre. They were enough to avert Commander Falstaff's gaze, turning his head slightly towards his subordinate to follow the same private suit.
"An uproar is inevitable. If she isn't responsible, we may need her help. They're not going to let this continue happening. I'll contact San Francisco with my recommendations and get my orders.", Falstaff spoke low, opening his hands upon the lighted display table. To which, Blaine nodded his head, turning to head back out of the control room the way he came. In the noise of the control centre, Commander Falstaff turned half way and delivered further words with a loud voice over the smaller ones.
"Let's get ahead of San Francisco, Lieutenant! Find her; they're going to want a confirmation on her location!", he provided as an order and directive, body looking dark with the glow of displays and screens behind him. Lieutenant Brayden was his expert on dealing with that hacker. There was no other he would trust with making such contact.
"Yes sir!", Blaine called over his shoulder, making a faster haste up the stairs to the upper portion of installation eighty eight's command centre; light shining about the metal of the rank pins on his neck, and the Starfleet badge upon his chest as he passed different sources of glowing light. Thoughts of his family did not cloud his head this time. Responsibility had made him older, wiser, and above all else, a confident leader.
* * * * * * * * *
Beneath the summer sun, life carried on in Calleet. While those in small financial offices were frantically on their vid-phones yelling at what ever broker they could potentially get in contact with, unaware of new troubles out in the stars, all the other residents went about their days as normal as could be. The temperatures rising and leaving the snow and cold days of winter behind in months past, the air flowing around the lovingly strict household of the Targate family was cool and re-circulated. The holo quietly played a remake of an old film from the twenty-one hundreds; window curtains open and lights on. Emily tidied up her home while Alex worked his typical day, remaining active with a degree of down-time in her hands. Stepping through her living room with a casual smile, the human woman's feet went from carpet to cool tile, giving the button beside her front door a tap to answer the beckon of a visitor. With a gentle pneumatic sound, the door slid aside for a young, green scaled Karrian with a black case of medical supplies in his right paw - bearing the Starfleet insignia.
"Thanks for being able to come and do this Jacob. I understand you're not exactly a practicing physician at your age.", Emily thanked ahead of time, welcoming the young boy into her house. Jacob's bare claws stepped past the older human, smiling proudly at the opportunity to perform any sort of medical duty. With his free paw, he waved it dismissively over his shoulder as Emily closed the automatic front door behind him.
"I don't need a whole lot of muscle memory to treat an infection. She'll be fine.", Jacob chuckled off loosely, speaking about Kayla. The poor Aspatrian had been laid up in bed feeling ill, Jacob came to learn by a call from her mother. It was not such a common thing this day and age, but not at all impossible. He was not about to turn down an opportunity to help Kayla feel better, much less partake in his role as a doctor. It was actually flattering to be asked!
"It's a lot easier this way. Kayla doesn't tolerate doctor's offices well.", Emily commented, walking alongside her Medicalos guest to the stairs only a few paces away. Jacob turned his head up inquisitively.
"She doesn't?", the boy was curious enough to ask. It wasn't like Kayla to put up too much of a fuss in the disciplinary situation she resided in. Not to mention she was secretly fraternizing with a doctor and couldn't have had that big of a problem with them. Emily made an awkward sound, stopping at the foot of the stairs while Jacob took the railing into his paw. Stopping along with her, he looked up to one of those human expressions that looked as if she was deciding if she should say it, or shouldn't she.
"Kayla doesn't like check-ups because of all the... ah, touching.", her mother tried to explain as non-descript as possible, touching her two hands together to make it a sort of gesture. Jacob turned his head slightly with a thoughtful hum, finding that to be a fairly solid explanation. A doctor's visit for a young girl typically involved a required examination of the genital region to ensure her virginity was intact, and the controllable sterilization enforced by Earth's parenting license laws was still in proper effect. With a past such as Kayla's, she could not be expected to take such personal examinations very lightly. It was one thing to not mind having bare fur showing, as per her Aspatrian customs for children, but being stripped of your dignity and modesty in it's entirety did not likely fall into that.
"It's good to avoid that if she's not feeling well. I'll have her patched up in a few.", Jacob assured lightly with his small, boyishly masculine voice. Gripping the glossy synthetic wood railing of the stairs, the Karrian began the short trek with the end of his tail only an inch from the steps as his claws went from one to the other. His black composite Starfleet-issue medical case clunked dully against the last step of the stairs as he made it to the second floor. Kayla's door open and room full of sun, Jacob walked right in as a welcome guest and doctor-on-call.
"How are you feeling?", Jacob spoke more normally and softly as he stepped into the plain white walls of a Penitatas' bedroom. Laying beneath her bed sheet, head upon her pillow, Kayla opened her eyes back up with a weary, tired smile for the familiar face that stepped up to the left side of her bed. Before she spoke, Kayla reached up with her left paw and coughed into it hoarsely, shooting sinus pressure and pain up into her head that was promptly replied with an uncomfortable growl and sniff.
"Like shit. I haven't been sick in years.", Kayla grumbled with a raspy voice. Throat sore, stomach turning, and it all hit her in the period of one morning. Her bug was a quick and aggressive one. Kneeling down to treat his patient, a simple touch of the back of Jacob's paw to Kayla's furred forehead allowed him to gauge her temperature.
"Feeling pretty warm. You've got something alright.", her caring young Karrian sighed sympathetically, turning his head to reach down and open his case to fetch his supplies. Kayla tried to chuckle at his words, but they became no more then tiny coughs behind a closed muzzle.
"I've got nothing to gain from faking it. Thanks for coming to help me.", the ill Aspatrian attempted to kid, turning her appreciative humor into simply appreciation. Such compliments kept Jacob's smile strong in the company of his companion, lifting his scanner and medical tricorder into view. A flick of his wrist opened the portable information device, automatically activating the scanning tool in his other paw. Quietly, he waved the scanner slowly over her head, working downward toward her chest; displaying blood content and chemistry upon the display of his tricorder. While their mouths were silent, it was easy to hear the high pitched sound and chirps of the two little devices. Above the side of her head, Kayla tried to follow the tiny red lights of the probe-like scanner almost playfully. Sick or not, no child enjoyed being bedridden by their parent. The fox had no entertainment for over an hour, cut off from the luxuries that comforted the lives of other rejuves.
"My mom said I might have some old sickness called a cold.", Kayla tried to strike up in conversation after a few moments of the silence, idly trying to smile with tired bags beneath her blue eyes. It was no fun to see Kayla in such a way, considering she had to deal with pain and discomfort on a regular basis as it was. With medical advancement leading to rapid healing times, the old Karrian doctor was not concerned. It seemed like she wanted a companion here in her lonely drab room more than just a quick fix.
"And that's why we have doctors.", Jacob chuckled loosely, not taking his eyes from his work. Withdrawing the scanner from above his Penitatas friend, he held it in the palm of his paw while his clawed fingertips tapped at a few keys on his tricorder.
"Not likely. It may come back from time to time on rare occasion, but you're not going to catch a human virus. Nope, this pathogen is as alien to Earth as you or I. It's locked into your Aspatrian version of lymphatic nodes, trying to suppress your immune response to reproduce at the source.", Jacob cheerfully rambled off in doctor mode, lowering his tricorder towards the end to speak more uninhibited. Kayla was bright enough to follow along, with Jacob not being the type to leave her in the dust to impress her with large words. Even in her company, he still did not want to be the Starfleet super-hero.
"Guess it hitched a ride on a cargo ship.", Kayla openly figured, still for the sake of talking. It was wonderful to not be alone, suffering like that. She knew how to tough it out, but that did not make it fun. Turning back to his case, Jacob worked with a couple of colored vials, reading labels and selecting what he needed. As such, he remained lost in his thought for a few moments, lifting some of the fluid filled tubes into the light to check their quality and lack of contamination. With a flip of his paw, he readied a hypospray; Kayla watching over the edge of her bed intently. Seeing the happiness in his face made her feel calm, as he placed the hypospray to the receptacles of the tubes to mix a new combination within the device.
"Type Q.A.R. antigen.", the Karrian mumbled to himself, focused on his task. That much went over Kayla's head, but it wasn't like Jacob was speaking to her in that moment. Her ears, though uncomfortable due to the swelling of channels in her throat, could still hear little bits of Jacob's whispers to himself. It seemed he was identifying the construction and reproduction agents of her intruder, while adding some additional nonsense about sodium levels and receptors. At that point, Kayla couldn't help but close her eyes and let out a quick giggle; quiet, as to not upset her throat and tickle up another cough and upset the weight pressing between her eyes.
"You're having fun.", she pointed out with her light, airy voice, huddled beneath the sheet of her bed. It caught Jacob's eyes for a second along with his chipper grin, before looking back down to load another couple milligram dosage of another vial into the pre-load chamber of his hypospray.
"It's been a long time since I've been able to do the simpler duties of a practicing doctor.", Jacob responded with nostalgia fluttering through his thoughts, looking into the prepared hypospray's chamber while the device automatically mixed the reactive agents in the handle of the device. With a smooth motion of his arm, the injector of the hypospray was gently placed flush with Kayla's neck at the site of one of her lymphatic channels. Closing her eyes, the sudden pressurized his of the medical delivery tool made her eyelids twitch. The sensation of fluid flowing through her skin without the need for a needle made a tingling, numbing sort of feeling. Jacob made a cheerful 'hah!' at the success of his work, giving the hypospray another quick flip in his paw to return it to the case facing the correct direction. His Aspatrian patient opened her eyes back up with that weak smile still strong.
"How long?", Kayla found it reasonable to ask, wondering the length of time Jacob's treatment would require. Not being a doctor, his colored vials were as mysterious to her as her old hacking programs would have been to him. The Karrian removed his paws from atop his case, averting his attention from closing it.
"Recovery should be gradual, starting from now. The pathogen will be killed on contact, your lymphatic system made uninhabitable for it, and your body's defenses to give the all clear so your inflammation symptoms and discomfort subside. Give it ten minutes and you will be feeling yourself; I made a very compatible mixture for your physiology.", Jacob took the opportunity to speak with pride. It was not every day he could help Kayla back, for all the things she had done for him. After his words were spoken, the pair stared at one another with light, small smiles. Kayla was happy to know she'd feel better soon, with medical advancement as it was - content with Jacob's companionship. The young Penitatas did not realize how lonely being confined to her bed was. Being stuck in the corner, or being stuck in bed, was a similar punishment in itself though brought on by a viral infection rather than her own misbehavior.
Leaning forward where he knelt in the cool air of the bedroom, Jacob's paws held the side of Kayla's mattress and craned his body enough to meet his muzzle with her own in the silence of the room. Karrian lips to Aspatrian with little warning than his slow, sensual advance, Kayla closed her eyes and suppressed her smile enough to share in a warm, fairly deep kiss. Kayla's head on it's side, all Jacob had to do was lean right in with his head straight to meet their maws to take as decent bit of it into his mouth; allowing for a slick dancing of the tongues and comfortable breathing. Moments quietly pass, till the Karrian in his romantically gentle advance corrected his maw, smacking his reptilian lips against Kayla's with a mild, wet sound. Across the smooth, silky sort of bed cover, his right paw slid on it's palm to brush up the bit of Kayla's exposed neck fur not covered by her bed sheet to cup below her cheek with a supportive caress.
Lost in a sea of young emotions and the sharing of lovely nerve impulses from their probing, deeper sort of kiss, the pair of rejuves spent the better part of an entire minute locked together. At the ends of their muzzles, both were curled in a firm, excited little smile. Jacob was feeling open and happy, and was willing to share it with his ailing, lonely feeling partner. Muscles loose, Kayla returned his affections with her own, doing the best she could while enjoying the sentiment. It was more relieving than the notion she was about to get better. That man was one hell of a man.
The two young lovers parted their affections just enough to separate their muzzles, leaving a strand of saliva attached from Jacob's tongue to Kayla's. The fox broke it away with a soft, but quick lick to her male companion's snout; a token of Aspatrian passion in their long moment together. Her eyes opened half way as she did, staring off into the being of her partner to take a deep breath and find her wits.
"Playing it dangerous with my mom around.", Kayla opened up with a smirk, lifting the side of her head from the pillow with the help of her arm once Jacob's paw slid from her cheek. Giving her head a flick, the weight that had been thumping around the inside of her skull had dulled, sending a few loose strands of unkempt fur out of her face.
"Besides, won't you get sick too?", she lowered her ears to tease, flicking them back to their upright positions. The mixture of compounds coursed through the rivers of her Aspatrian lymph nodes, breaking down the intruder that made her feel so poorly. Surely she would not be entirely clear until the treatment left the system and into her bloodstream. Not feeling at all bashful in his looser, more outgoing attitude, the young Karrian doctor gave a light shake of his head in the afterglow of their moment. It was good to be the initiator, now that he found he could be.
"Naturally immune. It's structure can't attach to my cells. Sorry, you're the only one around here that could have caught it.", Jacob explained while retaining his softer voice, calm as calm could be. The two had not had many opportunities to be this way, and with this one being a risky location, Kayla and Jacob basked in the moments they could. As time passed, their affections grew stronger; being a young couple, in secret. Kayla's Penitatas comrades may have been aware, but it was integral to keep it out of the knowledge of their guardians. Jacob never liked to imagine how Kayla would be punished if she was caught having relations forbidden by the guidelines she followed as a Penitatas. The letters on the back of their paws, a 'P' and an 'M' respectively, divided their worlds while at the same time drew them together as two rejuvenated adults picking up the pieces of their prior life.
"You've gotten bold. Good to see you feeling this way.", Kayla snickered, turning it into a softer sentiment. With the help of getting to be affectionate and having a partner in the world, Jacob had let go of some of his stronger vices keeping him from enjoying his medically caused childhood. It let him "practice" being more open, and humor the idea of playing and acting his age for the fun of it. Still the same old clean shirt and proper slacks Jacob, minus the stress that plagued his mind and brought him images of torturing sadness. It was like he finally let go; entrusting the Apollo to his old friend Cameron and those whom would come after him. His paws loosely upon the bed, Jacob kept his muzzle close to Kayla's.
"Glad I-...", Jacob had begun, being interrupted by a look he was familiar with. Kayla's eyes losing focus, and her ears sticking as erect and alert as they could.
"Jacob!", she whispered with a note of frantic urgency, ushering Jacob to his feet with the motion of her left paw as she laid back down upon her pillow. Making a surprised face, Jacob turned from the bed and placed his paws upon his medical case, closing it as Emily stepped into the open room. Kayla heard the last footsteps of her mother working their way casually up the stairs.
"How is she, Jacob?", the human woman asked with the same comfortable tone to her voice as she had before, placing her left hand open upon the automatic door's frame. She wanted to stay on top of her daughter's health and make sure there wasn't anything to be more worried about. Clicking the clasps of his case closed, Jacob took a quick, thankful breath and stood up to his feet to turn and answer.
"Oh she's going to be just fine very shortly. You might want to have the bio-filter on your kitchen replicator system replaced if you have used it within the past day.", Jacob tried to speak more plainly, moving to a more serious tone to cover up the intimate moment alone he was getting to have before being interrupted. What the boy would have given for five minutes alone. Emily hummed with concern, taking her hand from the frame of the door to place it by her mouth.
"I didn't make Kayla sick, did I?", she asked out of uncertainty, not wanting to be the cause of Kayla's late-morning bedridden status. Jacob chuckled at that, though raising a paw and shaking his head at the same time to answer right off.
"It's only one possible source. Hard to tell since you cannot carry that construction of virus. It's precautionary; what Kayla had is fairly minor, just quite uncomfortable.", the good doctor decided to add at the end to assure to the woman her young Penitatas was not in any danger, while Kayla still had good reason to be feeling very poor. Being around Penitatas so much, Jacob was beginning to watch his words in order to keep them all out of trouble; a skill they themselves acquire over time. Emily nodded her head understandingly, letting her cheer return in seeing her girl would be fine.
"Kayla, I'll have the replicator run a diagnostic in case you caught it that way. See you downstairs soon?", the parent asked, placing her other hand on the door's frame as she turned and prepared to leave. Kayla offered Emily a tired smile, nodding her head against the pillow like a sick little Aspatrian. No need for her mother to know she was already getting better, and Jacob had been passing the time in his own way.
"Sure ma'.", the fox responded lightly, with a sly shift of her tail under the white sheet that covered her body.
"Poor thing.", Kayla's ears picked up her mother saying quietly on her way out the door, with footfalls against the stairs soon to follow. Jacob standing at her bedside, the girl snickered and chuckled from the situation they just avoided right back into the relaxing calm the room was originally under. Relieved both from her victory and the treatment her partner administered doing it's job, Kayla sat up in bed with a rub to her muzzle and eyes. She tried to not sit so directly upon the base of her tail, which remained between her legs, showing it's shape beneath the sheet. Finding a moment in the silence to get wise, Jacob made a toothy, young grin of his own.
"You almost got us in trouble there.", the Karrian decided to twist for the sake of play. That got Kayla's paws away from her face and busily trying to grasp her male companion's arm to retaliate, filling the room with muffled, happy laughter.
"I guess I don't know when to keep my mouth to myself!", Kayla played right back, pulling on Jacob's left arm with both paws. His claws could have held steady on the carpet for quite some time, but not wanting to be the bully of their amusement, Jacob allowed Kayla to pull him onto the bed. Ending up half on top of the girl, Jacob kept his body propped up by his paws, smiling down at his fox's warm face. Those quiet, soft smiles they shared meant a lot. Moving her paws, Kayla placed them open behind Jacob's head to pull her reptilian partner close for another one of their intimate moments; partially closing her eyes with a note of potential arousal in her expression from their horseplay. Jacob slowly took a deep inhale through his nostrils, throwing the weight of his Karrian tail through the air in a wide wag to the other side.
Though, his eyes were averted by a distracting shimmer through the window of Kayla's room. To his right, glimmering off his eyes, refracted rays of light from passing low hover-vehicles came through the window. Catching his attention, they did not appear normal. A hover-car typically landed vertically; these vehicles appeared to be lowering to the street in their manual flight modes. Though, as his mind was struck with a more serious thought, the sensual, loving caress of Kayla's lips and tongue stroked across the tip of his snout with a light nip. It brought relaxation across Jacob's body, changing his breathing from the attentions between his nostrils, but he hummed, patting her shoulder to ask the fox to stop.
"Kayla, something is going on outside.", he said in a tone that asked her to hold her particular thought until after he had investigated. Kayla opened her blue eyes with a confused and curious expression, looking over to her window. From her vantage point, looking up into the sky, nothing appeared out of the ordinary. Jacob, with a thrust off his paws, threw his body off of his companion's to make a quick sprint around the bed to the bedroom's window. Light shining off his green scales, the Karrian boy leaned on the frame of the window to try and look around as best he could to the front of the house. It didn't help that all Kayla had was a side window. The yards all had a short area of grass, with a narrow way between all the houses to be used as a "street" for emergency vehicles. That was where the vehicles he saw were gathering.
Jacob's claws squeezed the windowsill, baring a few teeth as he stared. Kayla sat back up in bed with her paws to the top of her mattress, unsure of what it was he could have been looking at. The serious expression all the sudden worried her, and a good bit.
"Jacob?", she called to him softly, wanting to know what was wrong. As Kayla pulled the white sheet off her body, sitting in her underwear and night gown from the night prior, Jacob tried to get a good look at the vehicles he saw land upon the ground. In a row, they were not like hover-cars. He was familiar with their grey bodies and gull-wing style doors; bulky and strong. The sight brought fear, not sure what they wanted directly in front of Kayla's home. It was no good sign. Snapping his head to his side, his brows curled, sharing a glare towards the fox that made her nervous to the core.
"Starfleet.", was the only word he spoke, which was immediately responded by a gasp and a flailing set of limbs trying to flee her bed.
"Fuck!", the frightened hacker exclaimed sharply, subdued enough to keep it to her room only. Kayla's arms and legs pushed in a rush to climb out of bed the opposite direction, flinging her body from the bed with a stagger on her unsteady footpaws towards her closet. Kayla stood beside the plastic-like drawers in the far end of her open closet, looking towards Jacob for more information.
"There is no way they could have found out about my involvement in your case! Are they armed?", Kayla asked in a panic, speaking harshly enough to milk two coughs from her throat as the remnants of her virus died off. Her paws and tail lashed in quick body language, taking their arrival as dire. Seeing and hearing such things put a lump of anticipation in Jacob's chest, breathing quickly at the thought of Kayla being arrested. But, as much as his eyes scanned what little he could see, there were no phase rifles or law enforcement officials to be seen. Sighing loudly, Jacob's breathing began to slow.
"No.", he answered in haste, not moving his head from the window. Kayla might as well have given him a heart attack. Kayla thought the same thing of Jacob, leaning back against the small drawers her clothing was contained in. The fox's tail hung exhausted as her heart pounded in her chest, tensely curling at the tip. Kayla and Jacob both stood as they were, catching their breaths although relief did not exactly wash over them. If not to arrest her, the uniformed figures Jacob witnessed had some other motive for being at her front door.
"I'm going to dress.", the Aspatrian soon sighed with a paw to her muzzle, breaking the stiff silence that came over them in their moment of fear. Kayla did not wish to be hurt, and Jacob did not wish to see it. Seeking to make himself useful, Jacob left the window and begun a walk towards his companion's bedroom door, not taking his eyes off of the orange fur he was worriedly fixated upon.
"I'll go down and see what's going on.", the boy announced as his plans, trying to get the tight muscles in his chest to return to normal so he could feel as fine as he did before. Jacob did not want to worry as Kayla was, wanting to be an example. After only a second, and still steps away from the open door, Kayla lifted her head with a softer look.
"Please stay.", the young girl asked of him, slowly folding her ears back to further strengthen her timid words. Kayla sounded uncomfortable, even knowing she was not going to be in cuffs. As she was all morning, the poor fox just did not want to be left alone. After getting such a fright, Jacob felt responsible. Crossing his arms where he stood, Jacob gave a nod that shifted the unbuttoned collar of his darker tan shirt.
"Of course. Don't worry, if they're not here to arrest you, they're not here to hurt you. Aside from helping me be a free man, you've been picture perfect Kayla. I'm sorry for giving you a fright.", Jacob tried to reassure while Kayla worked to pull out some fresh clothing from her drawers. Her orange paws worked quickly, but slowed down after the wise doctor's words until she eventually sighed, thumping her head against a closed drawer to rest.
"I just didn't have a good day the last time Starfleet officers came to the place I called home.", Kayla added much more calmly, but on a sadder note. She looked as if she had been shocked and burdened by their appearance, dredging old traumatizations into her mind, but was trying to get over it and deal with it normally. Raising her paw, she waved towards him in gesture.
"I'm fine. Just catching my breath. For all I know, they're not here for anything bad at all.", the fox then wondered more curiously, trying to grasp the confidence and inner comfort she and Jacob were sharing only two or three minutes ago. Her ears picked up the sounds of faint voices coming from down the flight of stairs leading to the living room, as they bounced off the walls to enter her room. Sticking with the basics, she just pulled out a pair of blue jeans that fit, her usual white t-shirt, and a random pair of underwear without so much as looking at it. With her luck it ended up being the pink cotton pair she loathed, but didn't care enough to swap out again.
"Exactly.", the young Karrian shrugged more loosely, helping to reinforce her natural bravery. It took quite the scare to rattle Kayla's cage, so the quicker she got over it, the better she'd feel in the long term. As it usually was, getting to accompany Kayla while she changed was a pleasure. One garment to the other, hopping on her footpaws to get her jeans on in a timely fashion, the Aspatrian girl was quickly dressed and ready to face the military officers gracing her home. Running her claws through the fur atop her head, she gave it a quick once over as she walked; bending her ears with each pass of her wrist.
"Let's see what they're doing then.", Kayla affirmed, stepping past Jacob. As she did, the boy smiled once again before turning to follow, paws in the pockets of his slacks. That was what he wanted to see. Once Kayla stepped into the doorway Jacob was right behind, giving the girl a pat on the back to let her know somebody had her back. Such sentiment being new coming from Jacob, an awkward smile broke through to her muzzle with a tiny chuckle; bringing some comfort as the butterflies in her belly took off with each step of her adolescent feet down the stairs of her home. The bushy end of her tail, it's white tip, brushed the pant cuffs of Jacob's black slacks on the way down in it's typical fox-like sway.
Gathered in a loose circle amidst the home's living room and entryway, stood several tall men in Starfleet uniforms conversing with Emily. Not a single phaser hung from their waists, with varying ranks and color to the shoulder portions of their uniforms. All had yellow shoulders, with exception of one red shouldered man standing the closest to Kayla's mother. Kayla noted their eyes shifted, one after another, towards her once she got far enough down the stairs to be noticed. Ensuring her ears were tall, having such focus on her made her wish to shed her vulnerability and handle this as gracefully and maturely as she could. Emily turned her head, following the other officer's eyes as the room quieted.
"To what do I owe the occasion?", Kayla asked outright, not mincing her words or allowing any cheer to bleed into her voice as she moved off the final step of the stairs with two paces forward. Using the opening, Jacob stepped off the stairs and stood just behind her, to her side. He was more comfortable in such company than his Penitatas companion, scanning the room to identify each officer's specific rank and designation. But, once Kayla had said her words, her stonewall, more serious expression lightened. Staring up at the man in front of her mother, the group's leader, she recognized his face but for the life of her could not place a name.
"I remember you. The hospital.", the young Penitatas spoke out of surprise, suddenly finding this situation less dire. Taking more ease in it, the fox shoved her fingers into the pocket of her jeans; lightening up a good deal in discovering for herself this was not a hostile visit. The Starfleet man smiled upon knowing he had at least been remembered.
"Good news from last Christmas?", Kayla raised her head with almost a toothy grin, hoping this was a follow-up call. It would have been a long time coming now that her assailants and kidnappers had been captured. The yellow shouldered man gave a single chuckle into the open air of the well-lit house.
"Lieutenant Blaine Brayden. And, no, unfortunately that case is still cold.", he introduced with a slight gesture of his hand at his waist, but mellowed his voice a notch while letting the young victim know that was not his reason for standing in her home. Hearing it brought Kayla's fingers back out of her pockets, crossing her arms with nervous curiosity. One of her brows lowered, not entirely understanding what it was she walked into if that was the case.
"Honey, they're here to ask you some questions. Something bad happened today.", Emily started off once she assessed her daughter's discomfort and bewilderment, leaving a tone to her words that hinted to an urgency over the subject they were previously discussing. Kayla's head followed Blaine down, as the young man knelt down onto one knee to be at a better height for addressing her. The fox was not exactly scared any longer, but would have appreciated some more precise explanations. While she did not speak, Blaine smiled at her while on one knee; uniform bright and clean. It was nice to see the girl again, missing the massive, crispy phaser wound on her back. The sight of her orange fur and black tipped ears brought on images of cold rain pelting his uniform, and blood soaking his hands.
"Miss Ackart, we're here to check on you. I believe being bedridden all morning gives you a solid alibi. DeltaStar was hacked this morning in a computer assault and robbed. They're crippled to the point that they're unsure of how much wealth has left the station.", Lieutenant Brayden gave Kayla as the explanation she was seeking. With an accompaniment of other officers, it made him appear as if he had pressure leaning on him to be here. Kayla's brows curled slightly, mind struck my the thoughts involved in learning such news. DeltaStar was her victory, to the point that it was a toy. Until now, there had been no other. As a jealous eight year old might would ponder, she mulled over the possibility of someone mimicking Packet-Storm, not wanting to believe there could be another hacker of impressive ability.
"DeltaStar didn't improve their security measures after my last visit?", Kayla asked seriously. Her voice could have been easily construed as snide, thinking of how such a critical piece of the galaxy's infrastructure and peace could be successfully attacked in such ways and not make sufficient improvements to keep low-lives out. Emily and Jacob listened without a word.
"They thought they made huge modifications. Isolating certain systems and additional access rotations every few seconds. The hacker is not like you, either.", Blaine followed in informative conversation, drawing Kayla in as a welcome part of it. His closing words to his statement, though, made Kayla cock her head slightly. Placing the fingertips of her right paw loosely to the side of her muzzle, she hummed to question what he meant.
"Under the influence of your captors, you initiated a coolant system failure to shut down the station's operations. This one was not as surgical, brute forcing DeltaStar's power generation network. Blew out power couplings and junctional relays across the entire platform to come to the same effect.", Blaine shook his head at the end, not certain as to how people could be so foolish, selfish, and destructive. It was mindless. Still yet, he stood in front of one of those criminals - if not the best of them all. Kayla scoffed, giving her tail a harsh flick; fur shifting in the brush of wind against such small, silky strands of orange and white.
"Amateur.", Kayla judged, keeping her arms tightly crossed while turning her eyes away. Being spoken to in such a way, having her skills and methods compared to that of another, forced the fox to think of her similarities to this other hacker. They shared a similar target, and the same criminal profession, but Kayla did not want to imagine herself as this other. Pride over her skills were not easily squelched, and it was difficult to be reminded once more as to why she was a Penitatas. Hackers and crime were supposed to be far in her past now, growing older with the pair of silver 'P's etched in the deoxyribonucleic acid of the cells that made up the back of her paws. These were actions that brought her punishment and the pain that came with it.
"Their inferiority is what we're hoping for. After two successful robberies in only six months, and a failing security record because of your work in the past, there is bound to be panic and anger. We're not going to get away with not bringing this hacker to justice.", Blaine described as an insecurity held by all races in the galaxy and beyond, of powerlessness over computer intrusion in a totally technological society. The thought that their largest institutions - DeltaStar being an achievement of them all - being frail and weak would shudder markets. Shunt confidence, and dull trade. Distrust would form within peoples that had lived in peace and prosperity, witnessing their lives affected by the crimes of unknown shadows lurking in the expanse of space. Lieutenant Brayden lifted his right hand, holding it up; somewhat stiff with the question that was on his mind. He was relying on Kayla's knowledge and expertise in their time of need, unwilling to allow another Maxwell and Tyson to disappear into the void.
"You are notorious for a reason. I'm asking for your help.", he decided to cut to the chase, and request. Jacob opened his eyes a little wider, and Emily turned her head away from Kayla to give Blaine a baffled look. Kayla simply lowered her ears, curling her brows and baring the tips of a few Aspatrian teeth in a slow motion.
"What?", Kayla stumbled out as a question, uncertain as to what she was hearing. Her past would not just leave her alone! She was a criminal, trying very hard to forget the horrible things she played a role in, and accept the abilities she was now burdened with. Even helping Jacob, she broke into a computer system as she would have in days of old. This was a brand new question to be asked, to aid in the capture of another hacker and use her knowledge in a different manner.
"You are the expert Miss Ackart. At hacking, and DeltaStar. As it stands, we are looking at a repeat of our prior outcome. At least then we knew who our hacker was and had a ship's warp signature to track. This time, we have nothing; we don't even have evidence from the banking platform yet. My commanding officer has given me permission to seek you out and bring your expertise into the investigation.", the humbled Lieutenant had to lay on the table for the small Aspatrian's consideration, forced to openly admit that Starfleet was going to be once again powerless. Their suspect was good enough to cover his trail and disable DeltaStar, requiring the mastery of another hacker. Starfleet engineers could only do so much. They never touched the tools of evil and malice that Kayla's delicate paws once terrorized the Galactic-Net with.
"The station is on emergency power and communications only. The Federation guarantees the protection of DeltaStar and it's interplanetary operations. We'll be going there to investigate at the source. Will you join us? Based on your prior exploits, like at your school, you have a knack for this.", Blaine pleaded his case, seeking the approval of the master, Packet-Storm. It wasn't how Kayla wished to be remembered outside of her own memory. Resisting the urge to curl her muzzle, feeling tensely put on the spot, Kayla's mind raced. The Starfleet officer mentioned her hacking attempt upon Calleet Elementary, back when curiosity and her darker urges fueled her wish to assist Ninne in the way she knew best. It was a job intended to be stealthy, which resulted in her being thrust over a pipe with the merciless crack of a belt ringing in her ears. It had not crossed her until it was so bluntly compared like that, her actions were essentially countering the work of another hacker. She hacked to retrieve her answer, and take as she took before.
Left to answer, Kayla stood breathing uncomfortably. This was a heavy question for her. Lieutenant Brayden's eyes, the officer's, and those of the ones she cared about all looked at her to gauge her response. The fox, with all her time as a Penitatas behind her, felt uncertain and uneasy. It was the things she loved, but at what cost would come of doing it? It wasn't hacking as much as it was being a detective. She lost a friend when she dabbled in those forbidden pieces of knowledge inside of her mind, and was under Emily's disciplinary care as a result of her life and mistakes. An expert? She didn't want to be an expert. It brought her too much agony, never having made peace with herself. Kayla's fingers tapped down her upper left arm, with both arms remaining crossed. Giving a sigh, the girl tried to answer in any way she could, as if reciting the words of someone else.
"I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to use computer consoles by the order of the Corrections Council.", she fired off as a truthful excuse to dismiss the man. Kayla had already experienced a terrible, unique Christmas punishment of their invention for a pair of hacking events that were not even by her own will. No reason to risk her tail if she did not wish to. It was a shame, but it wasn't her doing, or her problem.
"I decline.", Kayla turned up her nose, adding a hint of force to her unexpected response.
"Kayla!", Emily snapped, her body language looking shocked her daughter would go as far as rejecting a plea from Starfleet when she could do a lot of good. Wasn't it what she wanted to do? Be a good member of society? It came off as selfish, and if her living room wasn't filled with military officers on a schedule, she might have taken an intermission to show Kayla a fresh switch from the backyard. Jacob took a quick step forward, placing his left paw on Kayla's shoulder, trying to look into her face as she turned away. His eyes suggested he was as surprised at her answer as Emily was.
"We can take care of that, you should help! It's the right thing to do with everything you know!", the Karrian strongly stressed, waving his right paw at his side in natural body language even if Kayla was trying to not pay attention. It hurt to not be able to meet Kayla's eyes. There that phrase was again, the fox began to mull. The right thing to do. Kayla had made as much peace with the concept as she had being the worst hacker in the galaxy. Her existence had been plagued with bad decisions, leaving this concept new and plagued with inconsistencies. However, hacking her school computer to set a criminal to justice wasn't the right thing to do. Fighting with Ashley to discover Dianne's scheme was not the right thing to do. Protecting her life and those she loved by following the demands of two violent men was not the right thing to do. And, in all occasions, Kayla was taught they were not the right things to do by the strict sting of discipline. In some ways she was wrong indeed. But, as much as Kayla did not wish to let go of the hobby and life she lived, she did not wish to touch the criminal aspect of it any longer. She wanted to endure her sentence in peace. Let Packet-Storm die, and fade from memory.
Blaine stood back up upon his feet, using his hands on his knee for leverage. The man took a breath and gave a single nod, turning to Emily. He had an understanding of Kayla's hesitation and wanted to intervene before the young Aspatrian was railroaded and really would not want to help.
"Could I speak with Kayla in private?", he asked in a calm, optimistic manner. Right away, hoping for Kayla to have a change of heart, she lifted a hand to deliver an order.
"Kayla, take the Lieutenant to your room.", the mother made sure to say in a way that suggested it to be a command. Kayla huffed, much like a bratty child. Jacob lifted his paw from her shoulder, turning away with a worried thought coming across his mind as he felt concerned for how she felt. What had come over her? The doctor shook his head, while Kayla turned behind him, leading the way up the stairs without any additional word. The remaining Starfleet officers gathered together to discuss their plans, while another got on his communicator and wandered out the open front door of the home to contact Installation Eighty-Eight.
Behaving fairly cross, Kayla stepped into her bedroom, still shining from the light of her clear window. Her illness had all but subsided, lending her typical young energy back into her actions; paws stuffed in her pockets. Right behind, still seemingly hopeful and calm, Blaine entered Kayla's room as a humbled guest. Looking around the room, he pressed the button beside the door to give the hacker and he true privacy for Kayla to be herself. Standing with a tense expression, Kayla's blue, usually gentle eyes followed the human man with an emotion. Perhaps distrust.
"We all have things we're good at. I'm supposed to be an expert on you, for example.", Blaine began the conversation casually, contrasting his actions to Kayla's own as he took a relaxed seat on the end of the furred girl's bed. Kayla responded to that with a face.
"Really?", she said with snarky accusation, challenging that fact. Kayla's right knee twitched visibly, as if under the influence of adrenaline. Lieutenant Brayden chuckled softly.
"I know for one that you're proud of your abilities, and you can use them for good. You upset 'Fire' and saved people trapped in a security corridor right here in the Calleet Mall.", the Starfleet officer offered as a note of his knowledge, for starters, and an opening to his talk. Looking around the bare white walls of Kayla's room, he hummed aloud.
"In fact, you were given a plaque by one of the little girls that survived. It's not on your wall?", he spoke with an intentional note of wonder, as if to spark pride in the fearless actions she took part in. Kayla stood still for only a moment, before taking her paws from her pockets. With a step to her desk, she bent over slightly, one paw on top of the dark synthetic wood desk, while the other slid her second drawer open on the left. Tucked away safely, she pulled it from it's keeping place and held it out for him; as if trying not to look at it herself.
"Penitatas don't get to keep anything on their walls. The lack of décor is not my lack of taste.", the fox commented, as Blaine took the plaque from her hand. Made from real wood and a polished metal, it was a kind offering to a criminal that had only just recently been captured at that time. It showed those who cared to listen what good she had to offer the world. The human man stroked his fingertips across the smooth metal, thinking of how he might connect with the girl who stood before him. Poor thing looked so vulnerable.
"You're not that kind of hacker anymore, Kayla.", he lifted his head from the plaque to say, bold and with confidence. Blaine would force Kayla to look into the mirror within, if she was going to overcome the hand that was holding her back. His words alone caused a sharp growl to fill the room, Kayla balling her right paw into a fist.
"What would you know? No one else has had to live my life!", Kayla retaliated as if on defense, slamming the bottom of her fist against the smooth, dark surface of the top of her desk. Small or not, the strike was hard enough to make a hard thump, rattling contents inside the desk's drawers. Lieutenant Brayden sat un-phased, placing the plaque Kayla earned through kindness against the bed at his side to leave his hands free in his lap. A pair of seething little eyes staring him down would not silence him. He had gotten to bond with Kayla a special, sad way those six months back.
"Other people get to live beside your life, and be affected by it. Technically you passed away at my knees, in the mud. I can't forget that memory.", Blaine spoke again, calmly, almost like a parent. He had a child; he knew the tone well. Kayla's bare teeth never disappeared back under the cloak of her muzzle.
"You don't need to bring that crap up!", the Aspatrian girl snapped, giving a frustrated swing of her right paw off to the side. It seemed she wasn't listening well, or at least listening selectively.
"The people you've helped these past two years have not forgotten you either. You think the little kindern that handed you this really cared you were a notorious hacker? I bet she looked up to you.", Blaine hoped to remind with a pat to her plaque, digging deeper into Kayla's mind by being calm and positive.
"Kindern need to find a better damn role model! What I did doesn't validate who I was!", Kayla shouted back in her anger, refusing to pair her newer actions with her old. That Kayla was supposed to be gone. It took many nights to make excuses for some of the things she had done and find artificial comfort with her actions.
"It doesn't change the Packet-Storm of the past, but it changes the Packet-Storm of the here and now. You have to accept you're not that hacker anymore and things have changed.", Blaine encouraged, making points out of each part of his sentences. But then, came his bigger gun. The words Kayla did not wish to hear.
"You're not like the hacker that just attacked DeltaStar.", he spoke a little louder, sitting tall as Kayla's ears pinned themselves down against their head with a terrible sneer. The Aspatrian growled, stomping forward on her bare footpaws with a haste.
"I spent decades making people suffer!", Kayla spat, slow and angry, smacking her paws onto the bed at either side of Lieutenant Brayden. She stood on the tips of her toes, shoving her face up into Blaine's own, short of shoving her eyes into him. Her voice, and stare, were cold.
"And I took pleasure in it.", the small fox growled deeply, speaking in a darker manner in which those whom knew her likely never heard. Despite having an enraged Penitatas in his face, Blaine smiled heartily.
"Which doesn't sound like your behavior today. Raving reviews on file with the justice department. The word 'repentant' and 'sorry', came up quite a few times I might add.", Blaine made his voice sound even more chipper, quite intentionally in the face of Kayla's "other side". He was well aware he was slowly pushing her into a corner she long since avoided. Kayla's growling voice remained, but grew unsteady.
"I can't erase what I've done.", she replied, not removing her face from Lieutenant Brayden's own.
"Which is why you atone. You do it every day you stand here a Penitatas. But in the face of a hacker, you run away? Cowering at what you think is your reflection?", the man pried deeper, getting a bit more serious in his tone as he went on. Kayla visibly winced, squeezing her eyes shut. That one hurt, but it needed to be done. She was acting out of fear.
"Kayla, forgive yourself.", Blaine added more softly. Kayla would not find peace with her actions until she found peace with herself. This constant struggle of right and wrong, good and evil, in what was essentially a kind, gentle mind was not healthy.
"When I found you that night, I did not see a bad person. I saw a little kid, bloody and needing help. Only a little part of you is a hacker, and you've proven you can use your ability constructively. You're not going to be pulled away back into that life. The people you've been there for can attest to it.", he continued to speak, outlining a tale of hope and to simply say "don't be afraid". Kayla's eye-lids loosened, along with her paw's grip upon the bed. She stood up straight, silent, giving the older human his space.
The rush. Kayla had been fighting with it and it's implications towards crime, arrogant selfishness, and evil, ever since she first resumed the role of "sly fox". There on the grounds of her school, she operated as she would have if she was an adult. For those moments, Packet-Storm came back. That Packet-Storm appeared no different. It was a hard thing to forgive. The shame and sadness was overwhelming. It meant she had not truly learned anything at all, back then.
Since then, times had changed. Kayla was slowly growing up and had plenty of guidance. Working for Maxwell and Tyson, there was the possibility she worked too hard towards their goals, but she was in fear for her life. Fear that was eventually shown merited. Helping Jacob was also called the right thing to do, even if it was a crime. Each event had it's own circumstance and varying viewpoint. But, what they had in common, was that Kayla did not get the rush. Instead, she was in fear of breaking the law. Of hurting others. Those who loved her said that's what meant she was doing the right thing.
Right thing or not, Kayla didn't find peace. They were still tools of a bitter, horrible Aspatrian woman. To use her knowledge felt to be a sin. In the face of her good deeds and repent, she could remember her spiteful laughter. That Packet-Storm; that Kayla Ackart; she did not forgive. Being called an expert in the face of a new hacker, a threat bold enough to take on DeltaStar, chilled her to the core. Kayla knew very well she was the best, but at the same time, such a thing felt like a sin in itself. She had been a Penitatas a long time, trying to leave her past behind and tuck her abilities away. Abandoning them was impossible, nor was changing the past. All her life, from birth, she wanted to be a good person; she just had a lot of trouble.
"Trust yourself. Won't you come?", Lieutenant Brayden tried to ask more gingerly, not wanting to slash at the wound he had made while Kayla stood in deep thought, arms crossed.
Kayla's head was lowered, but after a moment, she began to nod her head a little. The fox had to accept she was a different person then she was two years ago. To do otherwise would lead to self-destruction. If she could do the right thing, Kayla would trust herself to do it right, and try to forgive her old adult self for the things she did. In the end, that older Aspatrian was just a lonely, wayward person. With a tired, kind of acceptant sigh, Kayla opened her eyes back up.
"Sorry.", Kayla apologized for her unkind words. Being a Penitatas, and the person she was, it was hard to not feel guilty for being so rough. Blaine just chuckled a little.
"We know you through your actions, not your words when you're scared.", the Starfleet officer was happy to shrug off. When you save someone's life, it makes a bond that is hard to shudder. Getting off of Kayla's bed and standing upon his own feet, he gave the shorter furry girl an approving nod. He would not have asked for her help if he wasn't sure Kayla was up for the job. She just needed to give herself the opportunity.
"Welcome aboard.", Lieutenant Brayden offered with a motion of his hand towards the door, for the young Penitatas to lead the way. Kayla did as motioned, stepping to the door first and opening it ahead of the human officer. Placing her right paw to her face, the fox rubbed her muzzle and tried to relax. Kayla drained her body of the extra energy she won back from her pathogen in a very short period. She needed to use the pride and confidence she always operated upon, even if it was going to be on a much larger and more serious scale. There was no reason to fear working for Starfleet, and no reason to fear returning to the Packet-Storm of old. Looking down the stairs, Jacob was at the very bottom when she left him. Those soft, worryful eyes that looked up at her brought a sense of love and devotion to her life and those around her; much greater than any fond memory of her darker days could bring. Right paw falling back to her side, it seemed more prudent to make Jacob proud. Emily too. She could do this.
"I'll help, but on two conditions.", Kayla announced as she stepped from the stairs, giving the green scaled Karrian a smile towards him as she stepped by. It was what Jacob was hoping to hear, but once Kayla turned her head the other way, it was met with a harsh scowl from Emily. The look quickly dulled Kayla's smile into something much more meek and sheepish.
"Two reasonable, necessary conditions.", the fox decided to stress in clarification, keeping her eyes on her mother for some sign of acceptance. Seeing Kayla was waiting for her, Emily gave a tiny nod of her head. Kayla raised her right paw, motioning it as she spoke.
"First, my ban from computer consoles needs to be addressed. I want to help, and I'm sorry for before, but I don't want to end up getting arrested or punished for doing so.", she raised as point one, tucking her tail in towards her body just to note it was a nervous thought and request. It was met with nods.
"I'll contact the Penitatas Justice Department sir.", one of the lower ranking men spoke to Blaine, his superior, before turning for the door. Such words brought Kayla's smile back, hoping this would not be a painful trip as long as all goes well. Taking a deep breath through her nose, inhaling the cool conditioned air of her home, her face turned towards Lieutenant Brayden specifically.
"Second, he comes with me.", Kayla gestured over her right shoulder with her thumb. Jacob was surprised to hear that, but did not express it through his body. It was a flattering thought, and if Kayla wished him to be by her side, there was no way he would refuse.
"And you are?", Blaine sought an answer to, making a hand gesture towards the Karrian boy he was referred to. Emily rolled her eyes and shook her head, wishing Kayla wouldn't be so difficult. It was hard to imagine her daughter, the one that used her abilities openly behind closed doors, would be so insecure in the spotlight. Turning and standing straight, Jacob was well familiar with the motions. It also helped that he outranked Blaine.
"Commander Jacob Vasse, Starfleet Medical - decommissioned.", Jacob stated his rank with his calmer, deeper sort of voice to mask the boy-ish pitches and tones from his young body. For a Starfleet officer, it was impossible to not recognize that name after the incident aboard the U.S.S Apollo and subsequent recall of all Federation vessels for emergency repairs. Looking down at the young officer, decommissioned or not, Lieutenant Brayden needed to show his respect and his sympathies. To be made a Penitatas as an innocent after near death was cruel, and sad. It was an interesting thing to stand in his presence beside the quadrant's top hacker.
"Welcome aboard Commander.", Lieutenant Brayden granted immediately, to please both Kayla and to treat the Karrian right. Kayla turned her head to smile over her shoulder, getting a "thank you" mouthed from Jacob's muzzle. It was an opportunity to be of more use and not have to sit around without his best friend around. Lory was remaining a quiet, stand-off-ish woman, and it did not lend well for making their large home any more active. When Kayla wasn't around, he was typically enjoying his solitude as long as it was in moderate doses.
"Will looking after these two be of any issue Miss Targate? I realize asking a Penitatas to leave Earth is a major undertaking for her parent and guardian.", Blaine had to add to be polite to the human woman whom had already put up with a lot just by opening her door to see an entourage of Starfleet officers.
"No problem at all. It's good for Kayla to learn other uses for her abilities, and Jacob does not cause trouble.", Emily replied with a degree of enthusiasm. Hey, it wasn't like she'd be doing much different out in the reaches of space. Her daughter was a Penitatas no matter where she went.
Blaine motioned for the other officers to pay attention, solidifying the expression on his face. The younger men stood still. The moment of truth.
"This goes for you too, guys.", Blaine then turned back to Kayla and Jacob, then Emily towards the home's sofa.
"A Federation vessel, the U.S.S Capitol, will be transporting us to the DeltaStar banking platform. We need to leave as quickly as possible. Make any preparations required.", he spoke in a more serious, energized manner as their operations were about to get underway. Emily made a wave of her hand towards her daughter, inciting a wag of the fox's tail.
"I need to get a bag of things ready and contact your father. Come say goodbye to him.", the mother clued her girl into her plans, walking for the dining room where the vid-phone resided against the wall beside the kitchen, right around the corner to the living room. Leaving her husband here on Earth was the only displeasing part. At least the house would be in good hands and Alex did not make a mess.
"Yes mom!", Kayla acknowledged, turning on her right footpaw to join Emily. Remaining by the railing of the stairs, Jacob crossed his arms and hummed aloud. Not having a parent of his own around, it was a more somber moment for him. Emily and Kayla stepping away, and the other Starfleet officers headed outside to return to their duties, it felt like a somber moment just watching the activity. Being let alone on the sidelines was usually where Jacob wanted to be, but growing his outgoing side in Kayla's company left a desire to not be the odd man out. After seeing and hearing all the things he did, the old Starfleet doctor was willing to help how ever he could. He could put his qualms over Starfleet brass aside to accompany Kayla and see this through. A warm smile crept across his Karrian muzzle, happy that Kayla ended up accepting their request. As her friend and secret companion, Jacob was proud of her. Each step Kayla made towards reforming left him feeling that way, able to observe and hold her paw up until the end.
"Commander. May I be of any assistance?", a voice snapped him out of his trance, turning his gaze back up to meet the face of one of the Ensigns that accompanied Lieutenant Brayden. Young men such as he often reminded Jacob of the cadets and officers who started out under his wing. His right paw ran the top of his fingers back and forth below his snout in thought.
"I should let my parent know I'm leaving the planet. Could I get a lift?", Jacob decided to request of the older human, thinking it would be fairly irresponsible of him to take off without seeing Lory. She may keep to herself, but that doesn't mean she wouldn't panic like any other parent who's child disappears. Be it a Medicalos, or Innocentatas for that matter, he would not walk away from a mistake that huge without being red beneath the tail. The Ensign above gave a single, affirming nod of his head. Proper, and direct.
"Yes sir. Right this way.", the human operated as if performing a directive from a superior officer, leading the way for the front door. Jacob followed along just a pace at his side and behind, looking up at his shoulder and back with a light, reminiscent smile. To be called Commander, and sir, was something he missed, being the dignified sort of Karrian he was. He did not expect to be treated in this manner, granted his rank at least in spoken word. Jacob did not like to be treated with any special privilege, wearing a pair of silver 'M's instead of 'I's, but this was an extension of kindness he would not find fault in.
Elsewhere out of sight, but not far away in the least, Kayla had rounded the corner to the dinning room and kitchen area. Emily walked normally and casually, yet turned in a quick motion to swiftly move into parental duty with privacy in the absence of prying eyes. An ambush in her own Penitatas parental right. The scornful human woman reached out and grabbed Kayla's right ear with her left hand before the young girl could barely get a flinch out. Kayla made a small gasp, never liking the feeling of anyone grasping her ears. It meant it was going to hurt, as sensitive and delicate as they were. On queue, Emily yanked, making a muffled yelp escape from between Kayla's teeth; gritting them while her body stumbled forward and she stood on her tip-toes to avoid placing excess weight upon her thin, soft cartilage-like ear.
"Ow, ow!", Kayla was able to get out before her mother's scolding, reaching up and taking hold of Emily's hand with her two paws. From above, down towards Kayla's scrunched eyes, Emily laid down the law with a stern expression.
"If you by any means try to say you don't deserve this, I'll haul you back out there and spank you in front of them all. Do I make myself clear? Feet flat, paws at your sides.", the mother ordered for prompt following, keeping a decent amount of pulling pressure upwards from Kayla's head. Using her left arm was awkward, but after Kayla's traumatizing incident of her kidnapping where her left ear was broken and mangled, the last time she tried to pull that ear to gain cooperation resulted in a terrified howl. Emily was graceful enough to never imagine employing that again. Kayla though, whimpered quietly. Not daring to insinuate she did not deserve a "talking to", the fox reluctantly, though acceptingly, followed instructions. Her paws lowered to her sides and the pads of her Aspatrian footpaws hugged the carpet with an aching curl of her toes. She hated having her ear pulled, and once in a while it became a punishment in itself; aside from simply a means to get her attention. Standing straight with only her head turned awkwardly from the pulling, Kayla grit her teeth.
"Clear ma'.", she replied after a moment of difficulty, tail stretching out and curling like her toes were. As much as Kayla loathed her past and actions at times, looking into the mirror of what once was, she remained the same Kayla in essence. She knew when she screwed up and had done wrong; standing to prove it to her mother, and teacher of what was expected of her.
"Kayla Ackart.", Emily began her lecture with harsh words, giving Kayla's right ear a jerk while she pulled on it, bringing forth another clench of Kayla's paws and a whining sound. A long ear pull during a lecture burned with a ferocity, and it was never a good thing to have a lecture begin with your full name.
"If you so much as give those officers the same attitude I just had to witness, you will be very sorry. You don't turn people down who need your help. Don't you ever act like such a brat again; what's the matter with you?", the parent scolded with a strong sense of disappointment and disapproval, met with another harsh yank and a twist of the black furred tip of Kayla's ear. The fox whimpered with a sad growl, trying to endure the heat and the pain with her feet firmly planted upon the floor. Her eyes clenched shut, breathing roughly.
"Moment of weakness. I'm sorry!", Kayla spoke very rapidly, only to receive another twisting pull of her sensitive fox ear. It made her growl out a small yowl, breathing much faster as moisture filled the crease of her closed eyes.
"Please, I was scared!", she added in her defense, trying to clarify the reason for her mistake. Blaine saved her life, huffing at him was not exactly something she would do under normal circumstance. She hoped to be forgiven. No further tugs fell upon her ear, aside from the steady pull it had been enduring.
"I understand, but we're leaving home. Leaving Earth. This is not a task for your average Penitatas, and you can't act like one. You need to be perfect, because I am not going to hesitate to spank you if I need to. Your fur-brush is coming with us, and it's dual purpose.", the lecture went on from the older human woman, looking down with a softer appearance while her voice remained strong. She wanted to drill her point home, was all. This was important.
"Give yourself more credit. You know you can do it, no matter where it is.", her voice suddenly dropped to say, releasing Kayla's reddening Aspatrian ear. Kayla's proven her more positive talents in pinches. With a sharp intake of air through her nose that sounded like a whimpering squeal, Kayla ducked her head down and clutched her right ear in her paw. Good gosh did that hurt. Standing under the shadow of her mother that summer day, it at least served as a reminder of her place.
"I will. Sorry.", Kayla spoke more softly too, more as a result of her guilt and the pain radiating from her right ear. It was making her paw toasty. After such a lecture, it could not have hurt to apologize a second time. She was willing to have faith in herself and push forward; Kayla needed Emily to feel the same way. While Kayla nursed her ear, Emily was already moving on to her next task in order to leave in the timely manner Starfleet was aiming for. At the wall where the kitchen and dinning room met, she pulled out the seat for the vid-phone so Kayla could use it easily.
"I'll let you speak to your father first while I pack for us. Don't drop it on him too heavily.", Emily looked over her shoulder and asked of her daughter. Looking back at the empty screen of the calling device, she spoke aloud for it's voice processors.
"Call Alex - work.", she instructed the unit, which tuned on to the blue network screen before placing it's connection. Not wanting to lag behind, Kayla had to let go of her ear and hurry her footpaws across the carpet to sit down at the vid-phone, not being given a lot of time to recuperate from Emily's lesson. The seat of her blue jeans slid across the smooth surface of the pull-out seat built into the wall, throwing her tail over the edge while Emily took her leave for the stairs. The fox watched her mother leave until the video screen flicked on with an image. Alex appeared, sitting with his shirt and tie behind his desk. He opened his mouth as if to greet his caller, but stopped with a bigger smile at the sight of a much more familiar, orange furred face.
"Kayla! Everything going alright at home?", the cheerful, often playful human man asked as Kayla returned her muzzle to his own general direction. Not wanting to look distracted by her ear, she put on her best face. The question though made her want to laugh a bit. No dad, things were crazy as all hell there.
"It's alright, I suppose. Complicated development.", Kayla at least chuckled lightly with an idle rub of her neck, looking sheepish or an emotion of the sort. Alex turned his head a little with a stare.
"Your ear is red.", her father noticed and pointed out openly, not so much in a parental sense. It made Kayla let a bit of a laugh go, reaching up to rub her warm, hurting Aspatrian ear.
"I was hoping you'd notice, to a degree. Really had to rub this thing.", she joked honestly; something she could do with Alex fairly easily most of the time. Only a few times had the man raised his belt to her, and it was when it was necessary for him to do so. It typically involved giving Emily a rough time to the point of stressing her parent. Getting spanked by Alex meant she went too far. He didn't have the heart of a disciplinarian, it was more like that of a friend, or the light-handed dad.
"You don't look too worse for wear, so I guess you didn't have to lift your tail. Can't be what you're calling about then.", Alex deduced, leaning back in his chair to comfortably cross his arms. It was a nice thing to receive a call from his Penitatas daughter. To him, Kayla was his little girl, not having to get so harsh with Emily acting as Kayla's primary "corrector". On the other side of the screen, Kayla gave a light shake of her head.
"It seems there's another hacker out there now, and Starfleet is worried. They asked for my help, so mom and I have to go to DeltaStar. I hope it's okay.", Kayla told her father lightly, not going into great detail. As her mother insinuated, she would leave that to her and not give Alex a scare. The look on his face was uncertain, but the curious man seemed to shrug it off with a sigh.
"Not going to have either of you around for a day or two then. Coming home to an empty house it no fun.", Alex commented loosely with a wave of his hand, before sliding his chair forward and leaning over his desk. Using the imager of his vid-phone to his advantage, he placed his right hand upon it, open, with a bit of his face taking up the other side of the screen.
"Be good and do your best. Your mom must be proud.", he spoke warmly, saying goodbye to his little Penitatas. Kayla held back a giggle of child-like playfulness, placing her paw against the screen to follow suit with her father. She certainly appreciated and loved the man. While she was uncertain if Emily felt proud after her behavior, soon enough she likely would be at least impressed, Kayla hoped.
"Hoping so. Love you papa.", Kayla spoke into the image of her father, withdrawing her paw as he withdraw his hand. Kayla's un-pulled left ear pivoted, hearing Emily's footsteps returning. Alex knew well enough what Kayla's wandering ears typically meant, giving the girl a wave off.
"I'll say goodbye to your mother too. Be safe!", he wished, seeing Emily round the corner in the video screen. Kayla gave a nod with a final 'bye!', leaving the vid-phone seat for her mother's use. Over Emily's shoulder was a purse, packed with a few supplies Kayla could see as she and her tail streamed on by. She also caught the hint of hickory synthetic wood peering out from the purse's flap, being the handle of her fur-brush. Not only would she look clean and kept, she also had to avoid the discipline that came with being a Penitatas. A hard task away from home, and so excited, Kayla sighed to herself while entering the living room again; Alex and Emily beginning to converse back where she left them.
The front door had been opened enough that the air felt fresh to her sensitive, keen Aspatrian nose. A bit warmer with a little more moisture wafting through the air. As much sun was bleeding through the open curtains of each window, it seemed to be an abnormally hot and clear day for the first of June. Sliding her paws into her pockets she walked along, giving the button to the front door a push. Her bare footpaws did not dare leave the tile of their entry way without permission, being very forbidden, but she leaned against the side of the open door to watch the Starfleet officers converge and converse outside. Some were on their communications badges while others tended to objects or tasks inside of their Starfleet-issue transportation hover-vehicles. Boxy with odd curves, and such a dull grey, they were an ominous sight on such a landing-way in a strictly Penitatas neighborhood. Kayla flicked her tail, imagining all the people who had to have been peering from their windows to discover her fate. It made her scoff and roll her eyes.
But then it dawned on her with a shock to her chest and a tiny gasp through her nose. Looking out across the way, between two of the Starfleet vehicles, Ki'rene and Ninne would not have had a clue what was going on. The two had to have been worried sick, and Kayla's hacking had already pushed Ninne away once. Losing her friend a second time was not a thought the fox wanted to acknowledge, feeling a strong need to see them. Looking back toward the far end of the living room, Kayla placed her paw beside her muzzle.
"Mom! I'm going to see Ki'rene real quick if that's okay!", the girl yelled out, seeking approval. Normally such an act would have never been accepted in a Penitatas household, but the circumstances of the day and hectic nature made it seem okay. From around the corner, Kayla's ears heard her mother call back.
"Make it fast!", the voice of her mother resonated through the home. Kayla perked up and took off out the front door with the permission she needed. Crossing the way was no longer a danger with Starfleet officers around, as well as taking up the space so that no other vehicle could cross into it. Between two of the vehicles, she made a jog for Ki'rene's home, knowing very well that "make it fast" meant to do just that. By the time she stopped in front of the Drakonian's home, her paws propped her body up against their front door to take a moment to pant. Giving the button beside the door a loose smack, Kayla stood up straight with an idle sway of her tail, brushing the strands at the bottom of it against the seat of her jeans. It didn't take more than a moment's wait for her beckon to be answered by a familiar, tall brown scaled woman. The sun above from the clear day shined upon her glossy, thick reptilian scale; highlighting the worried curl of her mouth.
"Kayla, thank goodness. Is everything alright?", Ki'rene asked in her usual manner, but with that underlying bit of worry leaking back into her voice. Kayla was standing right in front of her not in cuffs, so she didn't have a whole lot to worry about, she knew. Seeing the wise, sly little fox arrested would have broken her heart even if Kayla was guilty. She had grown attached to her company, being able to see Kayla's progress and personal growth from the outside. Even got to help teach her Drakonian with the help of her daughter.
"Yeah, I figured I would come over and clue you in before anyone panicked.", Kayla didn't exactly snicker in saying, but at least found some humor in letting her family friends know the Starfleet officers weren't a bad thing. Finding her paws needed something to do, they instinctively went into her pockets; denim hugging her fingers and claws.
"DeltaStar again, but someone else. I was asked to head to the station and help investigate. I wanted to let you know, and see Ninne before I left to make sure she wouldn't get angry at me again for dabbling in hacker affairs.", the fox ended with a nervous, but lighthearted chuckle. The older Drakonian gave a little smile, craning her head around to her side. It was a way of asking Ninne to come out of hiding, stepping her claws to her mother's side in the doorway with a hang of her head since she had been spying right beside the door the whole time. Kayla nodded her head slowly as a bit of summer wind kicked by, ruffling the fur of her ears and catching her tail. It penetrated between strands of fur, stroking her skin with warm air.
"So, you heard.", Kayla said lightly, with an airy aspect similar to the passing wind. A tightness threatened to clamp around her chest, afraid of Ninne's more brash emotions she had the capability of displaying. After a moment of the quiet, Ninne shook her head, placing a claw on the edge of the door.
"You can't get away from it, can you?", Ninne asked with some hesitation. She didn't like seeing all the Starfleet officers around again. Christmas was a difficult, sad time. One where she made a mistake in her disappointment.
"I tried. They need me. It'll get rid of whoever followed in my footsteps and right some wrongs. It'll be okay.", Kayla spoke surprisingly maturely, and calmly, confidently stating how things would go and just why she would be there. Ninne appreciated hearing such things, having her back stroked by her mother's claw, through her specially made Drakonian shirt. Her brown eyes looked sad, but she was just sad to see Kayla mixed up in so many responsibilities. Damn it was a lot of weight, and it had to stir some foul memories. Little did Ninne know that had already happened. Kayla tilted her head, hoping for Ninne's forgiveness. She didn't need it.
"You're batting for the right team Kayla. I'm not upset with you.", Ninne acknowledged openly, raising a paw to make a softer point.
"Just wish you didn't have to do stuff like this. It's a lot on you.", the young Drakonian appreciated as being a weighty affair, which brought a light smile across Kayla's muzzle. Ninne was the first to really say that. Emily just wanted her to do the right thing, and Jacob was used to such things. To Kayla though, this was a huge undertaking.
"Glad somebody is willing to say that. Thank you - a lot.", Kayla sighed out of relief, allowing some of the weight on her shoulders to leave. Perhaps her choices in friends did not have such terrible flaws after all. Everyone makes mistakes; even Ninne could learn from her own. Having a good parent, though strict, was the best thing for her. Kayla turned her eyes up to Ki'rene, whom stood listening to the pair as a motherly observer.
"We need to leave right away. I'll see you when we get back.", Kayla looked over her shoulder at the activity of the Starfleet officers, before saying her goodbye. As her footpaws took off, pads cushioning her footfalls, Ki'rene and Ninne called out their best wishes, and their good lucks. The fox felt fortunate to have such friends, close enough to be like family. Warm air flowing through the fur between her ears, she darted between two of the hover-vehicles and back into her front door, slowing her steps to a tired stagger where her footpaws halted just past the cool tiles of the entryway. Again, she panted, but a bit happier. Looking around, the home felt empty. Jacob was not there to be seen when she first got in, and the other Starfleet officers were outside contacting all the entities they needed. But, once Kayla saw her mother round the corner back into the living room, done with her call, the young fox made a few energetic swings of her Aspatrian tail.
"If you've got a fresh memory chip ready for me, I'm all set now.", Kayla was proud to announce, ready to get on the road. Emily reached into the light brown purse over her shoulder as she walked, pulling out a light blue, translucent memory chip which she placed carefully into the palm of Kayla's extended right paw. Having been banned from her hobby, the girl had not seen a new memory chip in quite some time.
"Do we usually yell like that in the house, Kayla?", Emily spoke a bit knowingly, questioning Kayla's behavior. Kayla wiped the chipper look off her face while pocketing the little blue chip, gulping uneasily.
"Not usually.", the furred girl sighed, afraid of being punished again. Just not the ear, she hoped; it was still feeling fairly tender. Fortunately all she got was a stern warning from Emily's expression, staring her down.
"I'm warning you, Kayla. We might be in a hurry, but follow the rules.", Emily was really only saying because she didn't have a bottle of Kayla's soap readily available in her purse. Strapped for time, Kayla would escape having a glob placed on her tongue for her to hold for a while. It would have been difficult to talk with the thick, soapy mush coating her tongue, not even lathered. Emily wouldn't bother if Kayla couldn't hold the soap at least for an hour, if not two. Perhaps later, if need be, the parent thought. Kayla though, nodded her head understandingly as a pair of footsteps began down the home's stairs.
"Yes mom.", Kayla acknowledged politely and properly, as was required of her. Once done though, the fox turned her head and looked back over towards the stairs. Stepping off of them was Jacob with a couple of extra accessories, shirt tucked into his slacks.
"There you are. I was wondering where you went.", the Penitatas commented to her Medicalos partner, raising her right paw in gesture towards the bits of metal reflecting light off Jacob's body. Shining from lack of wear, Jacob's Command pin was tacked carefully on the collar of his shirt, and his old, burnt and damaged Starfleet com-badge was placed upon his chest just where the others had their's. At his waist he had secured his medical tricorder and scanner, having had gone back upstairs once he returned to Kayla's home while she was across the way. Lory appeared pleased he was getting to do such a thing. It was one of those Starfleet related events she was co closely proud of. Still, Jacob didn't get much of a hug. Getting his parenting and guidance from other sources got to be a sort of drag, at times.
"Wondered the same, but I saw you across the street. I said goodbye to Miss Lory and picked up my old equipment.", Jacob chuckled, happy to be given the chance to wear it all again. He felt fortunate he could live the dream one last time. A fitting farewell to his service that ended on the Apollo much too soon.
"Isn't that badge a little worn, though?", Emily asked from Kayla's side, not sure if such a thing fit with his status and the rest of his clothing. The green scaled Karrian boy gave a nod of his head, very sure.
"It's mine. All that matters.", Jacob responded, finding some of that dignity he loved in holding on to what was his, despite it's less than shiny appearance. His body looked a lot worse off than the badge did. Kayla did a fine job making it work again. Emily wasn't about to take a note of pride away from a boy that held the Medicalos letter on the backs of his paws and the Innocentatas status on his official files. Jacob had been through enough, the older human woman was able to know first hand.
Outside the house, one Starfleet officer was beginning to leave with each vehicle, spooling up their larger, stronger engines to take off into the sky. In a group, Lieutenant Brayden and his accompanying entourage worked their way back into Emily's home to gather in the living room where they had all began. With Emily, Jacob, and their resident expert Kayla set and ready.
"Good to see you all ready. Kayla, I have good news for you.", Blaine said with a note of confidence and energy as the other officer's leader, speaking over the sound of clomping, falling boots against the tile entryway. Kayla shifted her tail, crossing her arms with a smile. Good news was a good thing, alright.
"Corrections Council give their green light?", Kayla asked outright, making herself part of the process.
"Consider your ban lifted and gone. We had to convince them it would hinder our progress without a promise and official notice stating you were permitted to use technology as the rest of us were.", Blaine answered directly, as Kayla placed her paws together and touched them to her forehead with a sigh of comforted, tired joy. That ban was a long, painful punishment. If it was not intended to be a punishment, it was. Freed from another stigma against the knowledge and abilities she held, giving DeltaStar some assistance did not feel as bad. In fact, the young fox was growing excited. This way she could give something back for damaging their systems on more than one occasion. Perhaps the name Kayla Ackart would not be a swear word amongst the staff of the intergalactic banking station.
"Appreciated.", Kayla thanked loosely, speaking the same way she had sighed. It was a lot less to fear. To return home after essentially dying in an icy cold rain to be damned to a life of lacking technology and a beating her paws would never forget was an agonizingly terrible time. With a mind so young, the mixture of confusing messages and punishment for that which was not her fault made her feel ever so hated. Ever so alone. Thank the stars Jacob came around. Standing right beside the Karrian boy, her lover and partner in private, seeing the gleam of his rank pin on his collar made her feel fortunate. How could she possibly win such a good man? To all others, they looked like inseparable young friends. To her, smiling over to him as he looked off into the sea of Starfleet officers, Kayla saw a person she would never let go. It was like a chapter of her life came to a close, that moment. A long standing injustice, or if anything, pain which she was long since sorry for, left her.
Looking about the room, both at his fellow officers from Installation Eighty-Eight and those he had been sent to recruit, Lieutenant Brayden took the silence as time for him to speak. It was not often he was such a direct leader, often acting as only Commander Falstaff's other arm. He would have to remain with their base of operations, leaving the younger officer to lead the team.
"This is it then. Our next destination is Orbital Substation Sixteen. It's directly above us in orbit, and where the U.S.S Capitol has been docked for repairs. It was out in deep space, making it one of the last to stop and be refitted with new power relays. Thank you for that, Commander.", he began explaining for the benefit of his tag-alongs and crew alike, adding a token of gratitude to Jacob for the discovery of the defective relays. Not being the hero type, the most the Karrian gave was a dignified nod of his head; shifting his brown hair. Kayla smirked at his side, knowing well it was her victory there either way. If only Blaine really knew.
"I'll request transport from the station. It was the quickest route we could secure to DeltaStar, since we need a higher class vessel to defend the banking platform while repairs are underway and to escort our expert.", Blaine continued, reaching up for his com-badge while Kayla hummed out of a nervous sense of nostalgia that came over her. The last time she had seen transporters used was when a slew of Starfleet officers beamed into her home, displeased with her kicking in their front door.
"I haven't left Earth in the thirty-six years I've lived here.", Kayla said lightly, looking up as she had to think about the year. She was really leaving Earth. Her home. The smell in her ebony nose would be soon replaced with something unfamiliar and foreign. Blaine's com-badge chirped.
"Lieutenant Blaine Brayden to Orbital Substation Sixteen - requesting transport for eight.", the man professionally requested over his communications badge, securing transport for himself, his recruited guests, and his now only four accompanying officers. All the while, Kayla continued to speak softly, lost in the moment.
"Would it sound silly if I said I was scared?", the fox sighed with a timid grin over to Jacob. The boy just shook his head a bit, tilting it back towards her.
"Transporters? It feels like a river. You'll get used to it.", Jacob spoke for Kayla's benefit and courage, but Emily listened in. The human hadn't done anything like this either, and despite being quiet, was a bit nervous as well.
"Acknowledged Lieutenant. Energizing.", a voice of an older man spoke over the clear audio technology of the badge, letting them all know his hand was on the control panel for one of the station's transporters. It made Kayla and her mother stiffen with anticipation.
"Oh man.", Kayla dipped her head, gritting her teeth. It was like a little kid trying to be brave for the doctor with the needle. Emily's hand wrapped around the strap of her bag a bit tighter, closing her eyes as if that would really help in being disassembled and moved to another location. Everyone silent and ready, the sensation of being deconstructed molecule by molecule into a matter stream came over each of them. It placed a blue glow in the living room that reflected off the screen of the family's holo, resonating from the centers of each of their bodies. Radiating from that point, their bodies began to disappear into nothing in a controlled form of transportation used for centuries.
It began as a tingle in Kayla's chest. A jumping, fluttering sort of tickle that felt tangible, as if it was really a thing you could reach out and touch. Her vision was enveloped in a static of bright whites and blues, suddenly overcome by the feeling of flowing. Like water flowing over her body, sensations danced through what felt like a split existence. Being there, yet not, as what she could see of her living room disappeared into nothing to be replaced in the same flow with a new growing image. Within the glowing, rushing confines of the gentle matter stream, the blue and white began to fade as her feet physically found new ground. With neither Kayla nor Emily remembering the young Penitatas' specially designed shoes, she would be walking as bare-pawed as Jacob did due to his sharp claws. The sensations radiated up from her core as they did during dematerialization, coming back together in one piece off the rock called Earth. Just like that, she had been pulled through the atmosphere and into a place she never would have dreamed of standing in.
Once the blue glow disappeared from the center of her chest with a sparkling twinkle with the others, Kayla let go of her lip with her teeth and began to paw at her body at the phantom tingling and awkward feelings being torn apart and put back together caused. It was like racing through a sea of nothing! The feeling of movement, and dancing. Like being on a boat going down a river, being splashed by water-like sensations; just as Jacob described. He was accurate, having done this so many times.
"Get off, get off, get off!", Kayla growled frustrated and awkwardly to herself, brushing about the imaginary "faeries" down her chest that skittered across her skin and flowed through her every atom. Transporters were not going to be Kayla's thing. Technology was great; she was an expert, apparently. That, however, was too unnatural feeling to be kosher. While the others began to step from the transporter platform into the main aisle of the area they appeared within, Kayla was still busy throwing her tail around to either side, looking over her shoulder just to make sure it was still there. Once she looked forward and took a deep breath, she saw Emily and Jacob leaving her side, which brought about a quick lunge off her right canid foot to get back with the group.
Walls of white polymers layered with bulkheads protecting the crew of the station from the harsh conditions of space, created the base structure of their surroundings. Bright clean light filled the walkway ahead, and caught Kayla's blue eyes in curious awe as she followed along with her loved ones and the Starfleet officers. Once off the sizable transporter pad, stepping by large consoles and the technicians that operated them, Kayla's bare paw-pads touched cold, glossy ground. Jacob's claws ticked against the smooth surface, adding an additional tiny sound to the large ones that filled Kayla's busily turning and pivoting ears. Voices, intercoms, the sound of walking. It was a busy place, and smelled differently than any place she had ever set foot in. Oxygen generators did not make the subtle scents of trees and pollen, or the soothing smell of water after a summer rain. It was sterile, but not to the point it felt like a hospital. This sort of place felt different; whimsical to a newcomer.
Straight across from the transporter platform was a long window, made of the same thick clear aluminum that their hover-car windshields were comprised of. Reinforced and shielded, looking out was easy. Though the others began moving, Jacob stepped idly to the window, looking out with his paws loosely in his pockets. With a slow step, Kayla stopped at his side, placing her paws upon the window. They had all been transported to one of the stations long struts that made up it's side, surrounding a starship dock out in open space. The station was like a scaffolding in space, made up of struts and long strips. Right outside the window, clear as day, the rays of sol shined brilliantly against the silvery hull of the U.S.S Capitol. Engineers in white suits performed their final inspection of the ship's exterior, walking along and talking upon it's saucer section with their magnetized suits. Raising a gloved hand, they would mention a particular panel or place of interest, as others floated by them, returning to airlocks in the sprawling expanse of the space-dock. Beyond the gleam of metal and activity was the black of space, and the blue of Earth's atmosphere and brilliant oceans. During her more bitter days as an adult, Kayla hacked all sorts of facilities in orbit. She disrupted such organization? Kayla would have never known without actually being here, to look out over the expanse of her planet and the life surrounding it.
Kayla took a deep, quiet breath, maw open just slightly at a beauty she had never before seen. Dingy cargo holds did not have windows, and at five, she spent the whole time sobbing in fear to begin with. Beside Jacob, this was the first time she had ever seen a starship. The beating heart of the United Federation of Planets. Large and long, the Starfleet vessel looked impressive and massive, looking down to the top of it's saucer and the bulge of it's central bridge. Looking down the line, the blue, streamline and ridges of modern warp nacelles caught her attention, glowing vibrantly. This ship looked to be ready to leave on command, with only a walkway attached to the side of it's saucer due to it's lengthy overhaul. Right below it's bridge, lit by a light and sprawled out with pride, was the vessel's designation and registration; NCC-8904.
"It'll be the Capitol's maiden voyage, post-repair. Nothing like a medical ship. It's a heavy cruiser.", Jacob admired, giving Kayla a quick lesson in starship classes. No mistaken, this was a powerful looking vessel. Kayla's furred fingertips slid slightly along the smooth surface of the refined translucent metal window; the sights reflecting off the blue pools of her eyes.
"Amazing. There must be hundreds of people on this ship.", Kayla allowed the awe in her mind flow into her voice, impressed by such a piece of sprawling technology. To explore and defend, the Federation was armed and well equipped for the dangers and mysteries the desolate reaches of deep space challenged them with. Jacob watched the activity, familiar with it, with a comforted smile that hinted to the memories he held dear, rather than the thoughts involving "the accident". The tip of his Karrian tail swayed back and forth, shifting his thin, flexible reptilian scale.
"About seven hundred officers.", Jacob tipped his head to the vessel, confirming Kayla's observation. For Kayla, it was one of those sights and moments that stuck with you. She was happy staring out, seeing the various small vessels pass within a distance of the station. Peaceful chaos.
"It will also have an extra doctor and subject expert if you two would care to come aboard.", Lieutenant Brayden's voice interrupted their moment, waving a hand as a motion for them to follow. He seemed amused by their lighthearted manner, but with Emily at his side only a few paces away, he was eager to get moving before the U.S.S Capitol was prepared to depart. The additional officers had already continued down the length of the strut's long corridor, leaving their commanding officer and Kayla's mother to watch after their two younger guests.
As requested, Kayla and Jacob left the window and followed the suit of their older guardians. Jacob walked semi-professionally with his paws behind his back, falling right back into the groove of his old duties and the behaviors he expected of himself as a Commander. Kayla through broke off slightly from his side, walking a bit faster on her footpaws to get a little closer to the taller, male human in Starfleet uniform. Hearing the light nature of Kayla's steps, Emily looked over to realize just as Kayla did the fox and she both forgot her shoes. The mother resisted the urge to smack her forehead. Kayla's feet were going to get cold on this smooth walkway, but she let it go considering the fox was by no means human. The eight year old Aspatrian looked up at Blaine with a tilt of her head, keeping pace as she walked.
"So, you really need my help? You guys walk amongst complicated technology every day.", Kayla struck up as conversation, wanting to get a feel for Blaine and Starfleet's motives. They did not seem out of the ordinary, but it was still a question that had never been asked of her before. Having been in a different frame of mind earlier, she never bothered to ask such questions. Blaine tried to look down occasionally as he stepped along, headed towards a turbo-lift that would place them in the artificial, temporary walkway that interlinked the Capitol with it's docking location.
"Hacking and the forceful manipulation of systems is more of a criminal act. It's not something we learn or practice, especially on the level of skill you are known for. Able to trash all evidence upon exit from a system, Starfleet never once successfully traced you. If this hacker is like that, the chances of us missing something important is pretty high.", he spoke informatively down to Kayla, invoking an understanding hum from the fox's throat. She thought a second further, returning her gaze to him.
"But, you did catch me.", Kayla clarified to make a point, adding a more subdued tone to the way she said it. Blaine fairly openly shook his head.
"We got lucky.", Lieutenant Brayden commented as to Starfleet's efforts, and what he knew of the day of Packet-Storm's arrest. Kayla made a quieter sort of huff, meant for herself. The thought nearly made her laugh.
"I make a mistake.", she said with no flick of her tail, and a light expression; admitting she was not invulnerable. Those words, however, did get something of a chuckle out of Blaine, whom was not about to sell Kayla that short so quickly.
"Exactly, we got lucky. If you didn't dive into the wrong rabbit hole, you might not be where you are today." the older human decided to point out in a fairly similar mannerism, casually referencing classic Earth literature to make a comparison. Kayla blinked her orange eye-lids, turning her muzzle back forward with something to think about. Blaine was a very honest and blunt man, at least it seemed like. If she did not set her eyes on Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco, she may have not been a Penitatas. She wouldn't have even been walking down this hallway with over two years of unique, painful, and wonderful memories under her belt. An acceptant soul, Kayla did not find trouble calling her mistake a blessing in disguise. Her mother Emily, father Alex, friend Ninne, and companion, Jacob; all a result of going too far, with too much confidence. Without thinking about it, Kayla's head tilted lower, ears folding slightly as they went limp. Kayla had a lot to feel sorry for, walking on the other side of the line than she used to. At least on this side, she could stop a fellow hacker and stop anyone else from following in the footsteps of Packet-Storm. She enjoyed several moments trekking down the long, bright shining hallway in silence, before a curious and soft question added to her mind's stew of ponderings.
"Regrets?", Jacob picked up his pace to ask. It was a warm sort of voice. Giving it a thought, it brought a smile right to Kayla's face.
"No. I suppose not.", Kayla admitted truthfully, reaching out with her left paw to give Jacob a pat-like smack on his upper arm above the cuff of his sleeve. Jacob was a happy man, hearing that. Watching Kayla walk alongside Starfleet officers made her seem like the person he always imagined. Brave and caring, changing sides to do some good for the world and every other like Earth. It was in her, and here she was; a Penitatas cooperating with an investigation without making demands for compensation or her own parole. Kayla seemed well aware she would be returning home with the same silver 'P's she left with. Just as Emily told her earlier, Kayla did not give herself enough credit at times.
As they approached a pair of sliding doors along the exterior side of the long strut, they opened with a pneumatic-like hiss automatically; a more efficient form of the entry mechanisms of doors on Earth. Emily and her two young cohorts took Lieutenant Brayden's lead, stepping inside the turbo-lift after him. With a quick motion downward, along the inner-rim of the station's structure, the doors opened to a very simple, tight hallway. Kayla found her footsteps made no sound, and the structure was perfectly silent. To a species that relies on hearing, it was unnerving, looking around to make sure there were no dangers and cracks in the only thing keeping them joining the white suited workers in outer space. Unlike the station itself, this was a fortunately short walk through the small corridor awaiting their arrival. It crossed over different looking bulkheads, as the group stepped aboard carpet; something that did not have to chill the pads of Kayla's orange furred feet.
Two security officers for the vessel stood near the connection point to the space-dock, standing opposite of each other casually against their particular wall. After them, the corridors look to split off as a Starfleet vessel's would. In a time of peace and after a long shore leave while their ship was maintenanced, the officers were still in their looser attitudes. Flipping a small data-pad from his pocket, Blaine produced the officers his orders from Commander Falstaff and from San Francisco. This escort and mission to DeltaStar had already been acknowledged and fully arranged, only leaving their clearance onboard the Federation heavy cruiser the final hurdle. With no problems and the Penitatas in tow having proper escort, Kayla was on her first starship. It was no new adventure to Jacob, but for the two girls, Aspatrian and human, their eyes wandered a good deal as they moved towards the center of the vessel to use it's primary cluster of turbo-lifts.
"Well that's it then. We'll be disembarking dry-dock.", Blaine announced for the two civilians and one inactive officer following behind him loyally, once they stepped inside one of the vessel's own turbo-lifts. Able to go up, down, left and right all at once, it was an all-access pass to most of the ship. The grey doors hissed shut, enclosing them in the small lift close to one another. Jacob's green scaled foot brushed up against Kayla's own orange fur, allowing the two to share a quick, friendly smile amidst all the moving and serious business they were tending to.
"I've secured the three of you quarters on deck nine, section two. Commander Vasse can locate it for you. I'll be headed for the bridge to report to the Capitol's Captain and manage my end of the expedition.", Blaine explained around the small enclosure of the lift, trying to stress what their particular roles would be. Turning his eyes upward, almost out of habit, the man spoke to the computer.
"Bridge.", was his command. With a simple chirp, the turbo-lift began to move towards the bridge; deck one. It's hum was low and comfortable, if not perhaps a little faster than the ones Kayla was familiar with in the Calleet Courthouse. Jacob chuckled a little, knowingly.
"Wait till you see the bridge Kayla. If you thought you were impressed before...", the old Starfleet Karrian began to describe, until Blaine raised his right hand to cut in and speak.
"Sorry Commander. Nobody with a letter on the bridge.", the older human regretfully informed, referring to the letters on each of Jacob and Kayla's paws. Essentially, he was saying "no children allowed", rejuvenated or not. Jacob made a face of mild annoyance, but nodded his head. He would not have allowed young ones to wander the U.S.S Apollo either, considering the dangerous equipment and materials throughout a Federation vessel. Emily did not wish for the two to wander off as it was, being in a totally unfamiliar place as well. A Starfleet cruiser did not seem to be a place where free-roam was a good idea.
"Stay with me you two. We'll wait in the place the Lieutenant has prepared.", Emily decided to tack on as her own parental instruction. Penitatas and Medicalos both nodded once more, same as one another. The turbo-lift slowed to an abrupt halt the way it was designed upon reaching it's requested deck. The double doors slid open, revealing a sight Kayla could at least see if she couldn't enter.
Large consoles and stations stood rounding the entire rear side of the bridge, recessed into the wall right beside the left rear turbo-lift where she stood. Shining synthetic wood railings stood atop reinforced metal composite, separating the side walkways from it's lower command section and navigation. Peering up from behind a long grey console that rounded the rear of the bridge, stood the Captain's chair, fairly large in size, sitting a fair distance from a blank main view screen. Lights flashed, and buttons chirped in acknowledgement to their users in the busy atmosphere. Boots walked across rippled dark grey flooring, making small sounds amidst the red and metal decorative trims that made up the command center for the U.S.S Capitol. The people and their ranks had Jacob standing straight at attention, out of a habit of his own.
Only paces in front of the turbo-lift, a male Drakonian was walking by with a data-pad busily in his claw, giving orders and requesting status. That explained the Captain's chair. Like other Earth-prospering Drakonians, he stood uniformed and proud, vocal chords trained to speak Panglish like his fellows. Drakonian men may not have been as large as their female counterparts, but his presence commanded respect and attention; speaking with such experience and confidence.
"Station personnel reporting clear for departure Captain.", Kayla flicked her ears, hearing a woman speak out of sight, as Lieutenant Brayden stepped out of the turbo-lift to catch the attention of the Drakonian with the same red shouldered uniform he had. The walkway they used to board the ship must have just been retracted.
"Captain Ti'krex.", Blaine stepped forward with an extension of his hand, which was replied by a firm shake of a brown scaled, smooth claw. The Drakonian looked pleased to meet the person that would be accompanying his vessel to DeltaStar. Just like the security officers several decks down, the Captain had been away from his ship for what felt like too long.
"Lieutenant, we will have your investigation party to the DeltaStar platform in roughly four hours.", Captain Ti'krex greeted with professional information for Blaine's disposal, mind on the task at hand. It was then the grey doors of the turbo-lift began to close. Before they came together, Kayla noticed the older drake crane his head.
"Computer, hold.", he requested of the turbo-lift, which complied by opening it's doors. Taking a step towards the lift, the Captain gave Jacob a friendly nod to acknowledge his presence. He noticed the young Karrian wearing his old badge and rank pins, thusly recognizing the three civilian guests he would be transporting to DeltaStar. Like the others, Commander Jacob Vasse was not an unknown name.
"Commander Vasse, second officer of the U.S.S Apollo. You're welcome in the forward section of my ship; make yourself at home.", the long time Starfleet officer offered his fallen comrade, injured and then abused in the line of duty. Jacob was growing surprised at the amount of gratitude and kindness being shown to him. He thought the special treatment from his own ship's crew was much. To get it from everyone now was more than he imagined, trying to live in quiet dignity. This was coming from a Captain though, and Jacob was not about to speak outside of anything professional in the presence of a superior officer.
"Thank you sir.", he spoke while giving one soft nod, as maturely as his vocal chords possibly could. Emily would have preferred it otherwise, but Jacob was not a Penitatas under her guidance. In good conscience, she could not rob the boy of his chance to close the book more peacefully on his prior life and time in Starfleet. It would have been easier if she did not feel so out of place. Captain Ti'krex made a smile of sorts, before turning back around with a heavy swing of his ridged Drakonian tail.
"Impulse engines to one quarter. Engage all running lights. Bring us one hundred meters out.", the Captain provided as an order to his helmsmen, heading down the short walking path with Lieutenant Brayden at his side to take their particular command position seats. Jacob sighed with pride, remembering how much he loved seeing such things as the main view screen enabled to show the bow of the starship.
"Computer, deck nine. Resume.", Jacob did not look up to command as Blaine did, not having that particular habit some humans found themselves in. Voice loose and strong, the turbo-lift chirped to his voice, closing the doors.
"Aye-aye, Captain.", Kayla heard faintly in her sensitive ears just as the doors closed with a gentle thump, over the voices of the ship's bridge. Computers, communications. It was a lot to go on at once, but the sound quickly disappeared with that gentle hum of the turbo-lift. At her side, Jacob closed his eyes a little and laughed at a thought he had, catching both Kayla and Emily's attention.
"The systems on this ship require officers of the high education, but turbo-lifts can be controlled by the fewest words. The irony of Starfleet ships.", Jacob made as a fairly good point, looking up at the lighted ceiling of the turbo-lift. Kayla had to smile, as light as Jacob felt. He was comfortable enough to made her feel safe in such an amazing place. Emily was still holding on to her bag with a tight grip, tired of being slung around. She just wanted to rest in a room and get her bearings, since not long ago she was enjoying a sunny day in her own house. Being the parent of a high profile Penitatas was an interesting adventure.
The turbo-lift dropped them off at their destination, back into a grey and tan corridor with Jacob in front this time. Blaine entrusted the Commander for helping his friends get situated considering the boy was wall proficient with starship layout. The Karrian walked with a steady stride, just as he would have walked months ago on board his own ship. Familiarity brought comfort, allowing him to be as mature and in control as he pleased. Akin to the night he spent in Kayla's more sexual company, it was an opportunity to not have to feel like a seven year old. He could still proudly say he was the same man, despite the small stature.
Leading the two girls, younger and older, around a gently curving corridor on the deck, Jacob moved the few moments required to get towards the starboard side of the ship. Counting the sections with his eyes, knowing where bulkheads split the individual areas by heart, he raised a small green paw in welcoming gesture towards a grey door. It looked like every other one, but, this one was their's. Leading the way, Jacob pressed the top-most flat lit button on the vertical panel beside the door. At the same time it beeped, the door opened without qualm. Home sweet home, Emily sighed inside her mind out of relief. The human woman stepped in at a slow pace to relax, while her daughter zipped by, quick on her bare footpaws. Kayla was growing fond of windows, going straight for the exterior hull of the Capitol to look out. The starship's long warp nacelles had just cleared the final strut of the dry-dock, beginning it's voyage under impulse power to make distance to go to warp. Turning her ears like a radar, smiling happily, the young Penitatas heard the ship's engines. A low sound, coupled with the higher pitched warble of a electro-plasma tap a deck lower that was a mere degree out of alignment. Her mother nor Jacob would have been able to hear it, much less discern it's direction.
The room was a simple crew quarters, left reserved for guests and important personnel. On the far right beside the window Kayla was glued to, opposite the door, was a large, already made bed. In front of that a table and chair, and on the other side of the room, a dull white sofa and glass coffee-table beside a bathroom. Green imitation plants dotted the empty spaces in the corners, including a replicator beside the taller table. It's keys let out a dull blue glow that highlighted the wall, as the room's lights were not enabled. As it was left, only the light reflecting off the brilliant Earth atmosphere lit the room, tucked against the smooth side of the Capitol's saucer section. Dim and comfortable after a long start to the day, Emily sat down on the bed to lay back with her bag at her side.
"This has made me glad. I've gotten to share a bit of my old life with you.", Jacob spoke at a low volume, taking the last few steps to Kayla's left side to enjoy the view as she was. Now more than a burnt communications badge and Starfleet Medal of Sacrifice, he got to show the one he loved and bonded with just what things were like before tragedy took it away and made it something more bleak in his memory. This was what being in Starfleet was about. Dignity and strength amidst chaos and wonder, was what service meant to him.
"The only thing missing is a bunch of rowdy cadet doctors and containment dishes of fungus.", he smirked in memory, reaching out to touch the clear aluminum window to feel the cold of space through the sensitive scale of his fingertips. It may have not been his first time leaving Earth, having been away from it frequently, but he was not too old to appreciate the joy of starships like a little Karrian. For Kayla, it was new enough to perhaps be just a little frightening. Planet Earth and all of it's space-docks and defense platforms, those white dots she saw streaming across the night sky, would soon be gone. No more blue glow, no more feeling of home. But, like a kid at an amusement park, what was scary could also be exciting. She was on a starship! And not a prisoner on it!
"Should I be sitting for the jump to warp?", Kayla asked lightly, keeping her voice low as Jacob did while Emily rested some paces off to her right. Her eyes never left the window, never having gotten to see it.
"Inertial dampening fields surrounding the ship protect it. You won't feel a thing, aside from a small vibration from the expansion of the warp field. The engines used to lull me to sleep after a hard day.", her male companion responded as best he could for someone unfamiliar with the technology and experience. After a few seconds, the sound of warp plasma flowing within the two nacelles grew in an instant and the U.S.S Capitol left the protection of Earth. It suddenly looked as if the stars stretched; a white light flowing around the bow of the ship until it flashed, as if passing a breaking point. Then, all was calm once again, with rainbow colored streaks of light and energy passing the ship. Flowing by the window with brilliance, Kayla opened her maw with a big, love struck glow about her. The military may not have been her thing, but starships were a sight to behold.
"Wow. Four hours, then.", Kayla sighed with an impressed chuckle, before rolling off into noting this would be a long wait. At least for young rejuves it was. Emily was very content laying on her back in bed, catching some well needed rest while not needing to so closely escort a furry, fairly important Penitatas. For the parent, it was a lot of responsibility coupled with unfamiliar pressures.
"Let's see if I can't get us some alone time. I know I could use it.", Jacob turned from the window to offer with a raise of his right paw, keeping his voice down to keep it between just he and Kayla. Looking around the fox, towards the bed, the Karrian boy took the opportunity to step from the window and address Emily while she was relaxed.
"Emily, I'd like to take the Captain up on his offer and bring Kayla with me, if it meets your approval.", Jacob utilized the same professional tone and air as he had been using most of the early afternoon, as if he was standing in his own ship as the good old doctor again. Before opening her eyes, Emily scrunched her face, having been dreading such a question. These ships made her nervous. Rolling her head over on the pillow, she looked out into the dim room at Jacob's figure; shaped by the luminescent glow of stars passing in the distance.
"A Penitatas wandering a ship doesn't sound appropriate. What is this forward section he mentioned?", the mother at least wanted to get as an explanation, before definitively laying down her parental law. Emily did not sound entirely enthused, but the Captain of the ship did offer Jacob access to this particular area quite readily. Denying it did not seem right, being a place Jacob earned and was invited to.
"On a ship of this size, it's customary to have a recreational area in the front half of the saucer section. Like a bar, or café, for Starfleet officers, their guests, and dignitaries. As long as Kayla sticks with me, there should not be any problem.", Jacob described as a place for relaxation and social entertainment, keeping his voice cheerful and confident. Just as a commanding officer would, reaching out for the support and approval of others. For a quiet man, he at least knew how to speak. It came with the dignified half of his personality. Emily though, sighed tiredly and reluctantly, taking a few moments to think about her answer.
"Okay.", the human woman decided to relent. Jacob's ranking within Starfleet and his rejuve classification did change his status on board the Capitol - likely enough to make it acceptable for him to have a Penitatas guest.
"Contact me if you're going to be in this place for a while. I want to keep track of Kayla.", Emily added to her approval, needing at least that much of a stipulation so she could continue performing her own duties.
"Acknowledged.", Jacob said in a chipper manner, giving a tilt of his head before walking for the door. Kayla left her window with a note of surprise, having had already assumed she would be confined to this room the whole trip. With a more hasty motion on her bare footpaws, she caught up with Jacob while giving a quick wave to her mother.
"Thanks mom!", Kayla called out appreciatively, as the door to their crew quarters hissed open. Out in the corridor of deck nine, back in brighter light, the pair stopped just shortly outside their door once it closed. The fox reached her arms over her head and set her tail straight out, giving a stretch. Now only in the company of Jacob, it was a lot more possible to relax and properly enjoy his company. Being a deck full of only crew quarters, it was very quiet. Not one other was in the corridor, or nearby from what her ears could discern.
"Thanks for getting me out of there. First I was stuck in bed, then I was stuck following orders. I haven't been free today aside from the few minutes we got to spend in my room.", Kayla's voice dropped out to a casual volume and tone, letting go of some of the strict notions she was following to be perfectly behaved after getting into some heavy scolding earlier. Still under the excitement and stress of being away from home, the fox could feel her heart palpitating in her chest. Tense feelings had plagued her ever since her fright that Starfleet showed up at her house, and now here she was standing on a deck of a Federation starship. Was a lot to put on her at once, but being a more laid back and to the point kind of spirit, the young Aspatrian was able to make do. Having Jacob at her side made it easy to find comforting confidence at times she felt her most weary, surrounded by uniforms and thoughts of bank robbing hackers. They brought memories of last Christmas into her mind, where she was left to die in the cold wilderness.
"I'm feeling the same way. You're handling this well. I'm proud of you.", Jacob joined in in speaking, loose and calmly cheerful without needing to resort to professional formalities any longer. Starting to walk down the corridor headed towards the center section of the saucer, he was all smiles to go with his complimentary words. Coming from him, they instilled a hint of bashfulness in the reforming Penitatas.
"Shouldn't be, I put up a heavy fuss. Blaine saved my life those months ago, he would have been right to slap me if he did.", Kayla walked, adding an apologetic hum at the end of her sentence. She didn't sound too glum, but it didn't sound comfortable either. Poor fox always had some kind of qualm over her actions.
"I'll keep that smile of your's going. Being here is like a reward, showing you just how valuable you are and that they trust your help even if you get cold feet. If you think of it like that, there isn't anything you need to forgive yourself for.", the wise old Karrian wanted to encourage, starting to grin as he thought of ways to give Kayla more of those happy, awestruck expressions he got to see before. Kayla should get to enjoy every moment she's out here, performing a free duty under the goodness of her heart. As they approached the turbo-lift at the end of their corridor, the doors slid open as all the ones on board the Capitol did, with the fox giving her head a little shake as she stepped in with Jacob. Man was often right, she had to accept.
"This is interesting at least, I'll give it that.", she chuckled a bit, shrugging off those feelings like Jacob wanted. Kayla was helping Lieutenant Brayden, so no harm, no foul. Jacob though, waited a moment and tilted his head to her as the doors to the lift closed.
"How would you like to see a warp core then? Right up your alley.", the Karrian invited, making a toothy, fun smile. Jacob knew the things that made Kayla the most happy, with technology and impressive things with buttons ranking high on that list. With that aside, Jacob did not want to pass up an opportunity to impress his girlfriend either. Sharing his old Starfleet experiences with her felt like a good time. In truth, he wasn't the biggest fan of the social sections of Starships due to his more reclusive personality. Time with Kayla was all he wished.
"Could we?", Kayla put her paws together with a happy look, seeming like the eight year old she really was. Holding back a laugh at it, Jacob crossed his arms to stand comfortably.
"Computer, main engineering.", the boy ordered the turbo-lift, which chirped like the previous times to move where directed. Yet another irony of a starship was that you didn't have to always know the deck of your destination. It responded well to key points of interest just as well as specifics. Kayla looked over her companion, seeing his pride. He looked older, giving her a bit of sight into what Jacob was like when he was alone at Cameron's side. Jacob placed his paws in his pockets, standing tall with an idle tail while waiting for the lift.
"You can take a peek into main engineering. Should be pretty close to our lift.", he replied as a response to Kayla's prior question, getting a momentary wag of the fox's bushy tail. The doors to the turbo-life opened again to a different configuration of hallway, as if it surrounded a containing area that moved towards the rear of the ship. No longer in the saucer, they were more in the realm of the ship's belly. Stepping out of the lift Kayla's feet were slow, moving her ears around carefully to listen to the numerous sounds that were suddenly much more vibrant to her strong sense. A delicate harmonic warble resonating at a consistent frequency was much more apparent here on this deck. She figured that must have been the warp core itself, with the other sounds coming from the heart of the electro-plasma system and it's conduit. For such intricate engines, they sounded so controlled and balanced despite the methods in which they operated, using the most violent reactions in confinement.
Stepping ahead, Jacob gave a quiet wave for her to follow. Kayla looked around a few times to make sure no one was coming into their immediate area on this more active deck, before following with a sly, chipper little grin. Walking only a few meters to the right corner of main engineering, Jacob stood beside a slightly larger, more reinforced interior door with his back to the wall. He motioned for Kayla to get on the other side, where the fox followed his lead. The boy looked playful in his eagerness to show her the ropes and deliver things that would tickle her mind, much as you would expect from your partner. Sticking his arm out, Jacob reached over and triggered the automatic door with his presence.
"Take a look.", Jacob offered quickly enough so the door would not immediately close. Both young rejuves craned their heads carefully around the corner, catching glimpse of the massive warp core in the back center of the main engineering complex. Two decks high, engineers and other officers stood on railings, holding data-pads and working on minor components in the engine room. Others regulated and monitored the warp core's output and it's other subsequent reactors, moving about engineering to ensure the vessel's smooth, timely travel.
As Jacob figured, being able to see such a sophisticated piece of Federation technology was a very welcome thing for Kayla. She may have been the expert at computer consoles and technological warfare, but these were such complex, more tangible things. You could not touch a computer program, but you could touch starships. The fact it was less known to her made it wondrous. Like a large base protruding from a recess in the floor, the U.S.S Capitol's warp core flowed large purple bursts through it's tube through gasses into one central point, where two pipes split off on either side. Tubes of coolant surrounded each, intermixing the various components needed for warp travel. The frequency of purple bursts was rapid during use of the warp drive, with an underlying high pitched sound like a far away turbine. It's colors of blue and white between the purple made Kayla just plain pleased to see such a thing as a civilian, much less a criminal serving a sentence.
"The heart of every Federation starship. It's a matter anti-mater reaction, contained within that assembly with magnetic couplings and newer style transwarp matrices. Few hundred years ago they would have still been using ordinary deuterium for the reaction. Couldn't break warp ten back then. The Capitol should be just over warp fourteen, but those speeds are not often used outside of deep space expeditions. Intermix is too high.", Jacob whispered clearly from the other side of the door, trying to explain just what it was she was looking at. The colors were not pretty simply to be pretty. It was a beast. Pulling his head back, the door closed, giving Kayla a moment to sigh with a smile. That was a very nice thing to be shown, and it was always nice to see just how smart Jacob was. It was one of those attractive elements of the Karrian.
"Where to next Commander?", Kayla asked just higher than a whisper, now that the door to engineering was closed. The girl's previously yanked right ear twitched, catching a sound other than them as she leaned against the wall with her paws upon it.
"Are you two lost?", an middle-aged human woman in a Starfleet uniform asked, standing tall with yellow shoulders versus the commanding officers Kayla had seen up on the bridge. Her tone suggested she was mostly annoyed, holding a spanner in her hand; an engineering tool used for making adjustments to starship components. Jacob made an awkward sound, getting off the wall beside the engineering bay door. Unlike Kayla, he very clearly understood the ranking identification pins she wore on the collar of her uniform.
"No Chief, we're just on our way.", Jacob responded with his deeper voice, but with a shaky underlying element from being startled. He did not exactly have clearance to be on this deck. Engineering was much different than the forward section of deck two. The Karrian shot Kayla a serious look to follow him and comply, which she did quietly. Crossing her arms and looking around at the younger one's rejuve classifications, she made quite the displeased look at Kayla's Penitatas status. Engineers were naturally colder and no nonsense, not wanting riffraff near her engine room.
"Commander.", the ship's Chief Engineer snapped after taking only a single step further to the door. Jacob stopped walking for only that moment, turning his head with a deep uneasy breath. He did not wish to cause trouble, and the woman had clearly read his own ranking pin. Essentially he would have outranked her under normal circumstance, but this was not his ship, and he was seven years old and decommissioned. Jacob's eyes caught her disdain, which she seemed to be trying to quell perhaps for his own benefit. His expression was as serious as her own was scornful.
"Please stay off my deck.", she requested of him, in the tone of a direct order. In his position, the old Commander did not contest her authority.
"Yes Chief.", Jacob responded in a lower tone to express his sub ordinance. Kayla all the while was watching the older woman with a strong degree of nervousness from her behavior and words. She didn't kid around. A paw on her upper arm pulled her along with Jacob's quick step, right back into the turbo-lift they came from. Remaining on deck, the U.S.S Capitol's Chief Engineer shook her head and returned to the main engineering room to direct her staff.
Exhaling roughly, Jacob slumped against the side of the turbo-lift and held it's railing to get his wits back around him. Good lord was that close. Kayla crossed her arms to give her nervous paws a place to be, looking up as Blaine did when addressing the computer.
"Computer, deck nine.", the fox provided in the absence of Jacob's command, wanting to get them off the engineering deck before their tour hit any further bumps. In hindsight, Kayla chuckled in her mildly feminine way.
"That wouldn't have been so bad if I wasn't with you. I should be stuffing my paws into my pockets.", Kayla commented loosely, shedding the after effects of the scare now that they were on their way back up. She looked at her paws while she spoke, at the bit of silver on the backs of them that tended to cause problems. At least with them hidden, folks might not realize so quickly she was Packet-Storm the Penitatas.
"Should be fine. At least you got to see your first warp core.", Jacob returned to grinning, while leaning against the side of the lift on it's small railing. Kayla leaned back beside him, placing a paw on his side to dip her muzzle in and kiss the young reptile on the left side of his neck with a cheerful growl before the lift slowed to a stop. The pair got to share one of those quiet gazes, while Kayla moved off and was the first to step back onto deck nine.
"It will be one of the only ones I'll ever see, I bet. Can't see living on one of these ships like you did. You're a patient man.", Kayla commented warmly over her shoulder as both took back to the corridors. Jacob's paws spent the moment trying to make sure his shirt was still properly tucked into his slacks, while walking beside his companion. Looking over with a smirk, he tapped Kayla's tail with his own.
"Not quite patient. I just enjoyed the quiet, and the cadets I watched over for the Captain and First Officer. Those laboratories needed someone to direct them, considering how many of them were rookie kids.", Jacob broke into casual conversation, happy to simply be walking and not loafing about. Some other day when they had more time and freedom would a place like the ship's forward be a good place to visit. Perhaps even a nice date. Sitting below a sprawling window of stars with the galaxy's most colorful beverages, non-alcoholic he hoped, Jacob would have wanted to get a bit close. Would have been too awkward and dangerous with Kayla's Penitatas status, sitting there among so many as the only children on the entire ship. Would have stood out a bit too much to feel private and relaxing.
"Grew attached to the job. I can sympathize.", Kayla rolled her eyes with a smile as she approached the door to their own crew quarters again, imagining her old attachment to hacking being a similar constant. It had not been a long outing, but enough to say they had a drink and shot the breeze. All in all, Kayla felt Jacob showed her a good time. His casual attitude stood well when placed beside the more professional dignity he utilized, making him a versatile man. Knowing how to have fun and take things easier brought him this far, and maybe getting to wear the Starfleet insignia proudly on his chest and his command pin once more would bring some final closure to the incident that brought the green scaled Karrian into her life.
With a small hiss from the door's mechanics that Kayla's ears were growing accustomed to, the fox took the lead and stepped back into their temporary home. The pairs reptilian and canid feet respectively were quiet on the thinly carpeted floor paneling, finding the room mostly as dim as they left it. Flying past the window were the same sort of rainbow colored spears of electrons and spatial excitement created by warp travel, leaving reflections on the glass coffee table off to their left upon walking in. Missing however was Emily, out of sight until the door closed behind her daughter and the Karrian she was acting guardian of.
"Hold it, Kayla.", the fox's ears stood up tall in shock from, with the girl stopping dead in her tracks in the middle of the room. It was spoken sternly, if not directly harshly. Both Kayla and Jacob's heads turned over to the open doorway of the bathroom, catching Emily stepping out. Kayla's fur-brush in hand, she tapped it's flat end against her left hand to make three sharp pat sounds fill the confines of the room. The Aspatrian tucked her bushy orange tail against the denim of her legs, with Jacob remaining at her side with tensely clenched paws. It was a dismal silence, waiting for the cross parent to step in front of them.
"Why were you on this ship's engineering deck where you had no right or business to be?", Emily's stern voice continued, scolding even while wanting a prompt answer. Kayla swallowed, opening her mouth a little while trying to think of some words. Jacob was quicker on his feet, taking a step forward to accept responsibility and save his companion. The look on his face had gone quickly to quiet and worried, just as Kayla's own did. That detour had not been the fox's idea.
"Please, Kayla had nothing to do with that! It's my fault.", Jacob raised his right paw to his chest and swore, dropping it with a desperate motion back to his side to convince Emily. The ambient light of the galaxy outside was the only thing really illuminating their bodies and their motions with a gentle, glowing white light similar to that of the moon. Jacob did not want to cause any trouble! It was just a nice thing he wanted to do for his friend, and partner. Seeing Kayla standing beside him beneath Emily's shadow brought a stabbing guilt. He had no idea things would turn out this way, much less the sighting of a Penitatas on a secure deck would have merited a report to Emily.
"You, Jacob, also had no business down there. This ship's Captain did not invite you to wander. You're very right that this is your fault, but you dragged a Penitatas into it with you.", the older human woman challenged Jacob's judgment, bringing the Karrian boy straight into her lecture. All the while, Jacob was forced to hang his head. At the end, he reached up and covered his eyes with a growl to himself, squeezing the bridge of his muzzle. Damn it, what have I done? The doctor was half in disbelief. He never got in trouble because he never did anything wrong. To make matters worse, he couldn't defend his actions! There wasn't anything he could say that would have made it right.
"We went to see the warp core.", Kayla spoke low, and a bit sullen, eyeing over to Jacob to see his frustration in being trapped between a rock and a hard place. This was how it felt to stand before your Penitatas parent, you poor sweet Karrian. Helpless; forced to accept the consequences you make in your young age. In this case, she spoke the truth, as commanded. Emily sighed very deeply, expressing her own frustration in this new, foreboding place. Staring down at the two rejuvenated adults, she crossed her arms with the fur-brush ready in her head. The constant scowl made both Kayla and Jacob keep their heads down, growing a shaky anticipation in the silence. Only the ship's engines hummed in the distance.
"You're putting me in a difficult place, Kayla! It doesn't matter who's idea it was. I'm very disappointed you'd go and do something on board a starship you were not given explicit instructions to do. Do you know how severe a mistake you made?", Emily lectured and scolded after the pause in an upset kind of parental anger; Kayla having gone to a place she was not remotely allowed. Jacob whimpered inside of his head, biting his lip sadly. Kayla's mistake was following his lead, but Penitatas were supposed to know what was a proper decision. His inner blaming was not going to be given any time to get off the ground.
"I'm disappointed in you too, Jacob. You lied to me about where you were going.", the mother sternly added, down towards the boy. Jacob's tail shifted once he raised his head, forced from the role he got to be as the old Commander Vasse. Kayla wished Emily did not have to take that away like this.
"I didn't intend for it to be a lie. Engineering was a detour. I'm sorry.", Jacob's instincts again encouraged him to defend, only to find his words weak and feeble. He screwed up, and for it, he had to apologize.
"What you did was not a small error. I'm forbidding you to leave this room, for breaching my trust.", she laid down as her initial punishment for the young Medicalos, whom sighed a note of shame. Kayla already knew what would happen to her, leaving Jacob to be the odd man out. It was complicated having such a well behaved boy, a hero, befriend a notorious Penitatas. How to parent him along with her daughter was a delicate matter, but with an offense as great as it was, it was easier. Jacob did not do as he said, and intentionally went to a deck which he had no authorization.
"I'm sure you did not disobey your commanding officers so directly.", Emily spoke lighter as the result of her thoughts, surprised Jacob would have been the one to slip up. He never had, the perfectly behaved rejuve. That fact made Emily the most disappointed, as did Jacob himself.
"I didn't.", Jacob answered softly, lowering his head again. Within his voice was a familiar tone of repentance, where the boy came in personal contact with his mistake and thought about what it was he did. Jacob made a bad mistake, and he knew it. At his side, a casualty of that mistake. He got them both in trouble, wanting to stretch his boundaries and take Kayla to a place he knew well she did not belong. If Kayla was not allowed on the bridge, she would not have been allowed near main engineering either. Jacob had to accept he finally had a lapse in judgment strong enough to make waves, brought on by his adolescent mind. Always wanting to be older, wiser, stronger, and hold on to the dignity he adored, this was a harsh blow. He had to try and accept it happened, leaving him beneath the same parental scolding and disciplinary action as any other child.
"And for it, you're going to be punished right along side of Kayla.", Emily replied with in the same lighter manner to him as a Medicalos and boy she knew well, laying down his own fate. Jacob clenched his eyes for a moment upon hearing it, but left his head hung in submission. He had been convinced he deserved it, but the one it made wince was Kayla. The fox raised her head with a small, pleading expression on behalf of the good doctor.
"But mom, he-...", Kayla tried to speak, being cut off right away with a raise of Emily's left hand; open in gesture for her daughter to cease.
"Only as much as I have to.", the parent quickly assured, referring to Jacob's own spanking.
"Miss Rich may not have the heart to do such things after her own mistakes, but I have no reservations about using corrective discipline. Even Medicalos or Innocentatas can make mistakes severe enough to require it. If I need to punish, then I need to punish.", Emily pressed firmly, mostly words for Kayla. In his silence, Jacob respected the mother's "girl balls" in that she did not treat him differently then other rejuves. If he had finally earned disciplinary action, then so be it.
"I earned it. Let it go.", Jacob told Kayla softly without raising his head, only looking over to her with his eyes. Unlike his time as a Penitatas, experiencing uncontrollable agony, he had actually done something wrong. He was not about to run away from his mistake. Emily had to do it, and she wasn't going to give him anything more than he deserved for his episode of disobedience.
Kayla made a couple of sounds, looking between her mother and Jacob as if trying to say something, but she eventually tilted her head forward as well with a gentle, sullen whimper. Jacob's fault or not, this was the first time they stood side by side under parental scorn. Taking a moment to give each other a glance, they were both in hot water. They had never been a couple under discipline, due to Jacob's exemplary behavior and status. Such a thing was not supposed to happen. It was a day for new concepts all around.
"You're first Kayla. Jacob, sit on my left and hold her paws.", Emily provided as simplistic instruction while looking down at the two young rejuves under her charge, ending her lecture and glowering. Uncrossing her arms, sleeves returning to a position of rest, the woman made a wave for the crew quarters' bed with the flat of the fox's fur-brush. A spot of light shined off of it in motion, from top to handle through the wave; Emily taking the few steps to the bed necessary before sitting down on the bed's long side. Near it's end, as a calculated Penitatas parent, she sat with enough room for Kayla's footpaws to remain on the bed and no more, leaving plenty of room for Jacob to sit on her opposite side. The human's disappointment mixed with the fear of the kind of trouble Kayla and Jacob could have really gotten themselves into, making this a moment of lacking hesitation.
Moving simultaneously, both Kayla and Jacob gingerly followed her steps to their rightfully ordered places. Seated at Emily's side with a slide of his tail ruffling the bed sheet, the Karrian boy sat with the light of the window to his back. He was front row for Kayla's session of discipline that he himself earned her. Expression frozen in quiet, dignified sorrow, Jacob felt the same anticipation and guilt rejuves and kindern alike endured in the wake of a mistake they came to deeply regret. Standing before her parent and the instrument of her discipline, Kayla willfully undid her blue jeans and the pink pair of cotton panties she had forgotten she threw on in a hurry. With a nudge against the side of the bed, the clothing remained there in a crumple; the fox hauling her young Aspatrian body up onto the bed and over her parent's firm, uncomfortable legs. Getting properly situated, the tops of Emily's clothed thighs jabbed her in the sternum and belly while her legs went limp; tops of her footpaws resting against cool bed sheet. Up front, her weary blue eyes looked up at those of her private companion, offering her small, delicate orange paws to his own lap.
'Sorry.', Jacob mouthed down to her, scooping her mass of loosely intertwined fingers into his protective grasp. Cupping the backs of her paws in his palms, his thumbs locked gently around her wrists, wishing for it to be a comforting touch aside from a restraint. Kayla gave a tiny shake of her head, not even moving her nose more than a few centimeters either direction.
'It's alright.', the girl mouthed back, bare below the waist in her moment of disciplinary vulnerability while Emily took hold of her tail and placed it over her back to be pinned. The sound of fur and rustling were the only sounds within the room, aside from Kayla's anticipation bleeding through into her quicker, deeper breaths as her nerves awaited the pain. It was hard to watch, Jacob being so close to Kayla's face. Each twitch of her finger or squeeze of her paws translated into his own, adding her punishment to his. For a moment, the Karrian averted his eyes, realizing that may have been Emily's motive for making him sit here right next to her. That human knew how to teach important lessons.
The flat of the fur-brush touched upon Kayla's unmarred backside, just beneath her tail. Cold from the synthetic wood flowed between the air space created by her fur, placing a cooling sensation over her smooth, young Aspatrian skin. Kayla pressed her muzzle into the bed with a grit of her teeth, closing her eyes with a squeeze before the first swat could make her jump.
For her transgressions as a Penitatas, and the severity that came with it, the brush that stroked Kayla's fur every day fell through the air to deliver the law. The sound it made was so light, being swung from only two feet above the orange crest of Kayla's bottom. It's impact changed that; hard, thick synthetic wood being struck against delicately sensitive skin and muscle beneath a thin layer of fat children carried. Like a slap, it rang out with a deeper tone that the Penitatas was long since accustomed to, combined with a rhythm Emily favored as her daughter went on in age. Quicker and more intense than that of her more predictable patterns, the mother used a method of randomness without much varying the strength of her swats. The hard smacks of the fur-brush against it's victim made her flinch stiffly, trying to curl her back at each explosion of nerve impulses burning and bolting up to her mind. In Jacob's tender hold, Kayla's paws clenched and balled up to require a firmer hold. The Karrian boy could not tell if Kayla was being quiet for his sake, or just to quell her own cries, but the fox's muzzle remain closed with her teeth bared tightly together with tiny moans of sharp pain.
Such will could not last long, under the scorn of Emily's experience. Each swat hurt as much as the last, building up upon the spanks that landed before it to further crank up the intensity well beyond that of a normal child's handling. Moving from spot to spot in no particular order, the synthetic wood brush pounded it's heavy punishment from the base of her tail, clear down to mid-thigh. The harsh swats to Kayla's legs made the girl jerk, shifting them against the bed as the toes of her footpaws expressed their own agony. It did not take more than ten seconds to produce tears from the young Penitatas' eyes, trailing precariously over to the bridge of her muzzle to flow down it's sides. Absorbed into fur or brushed into the bed in a tearful grind of her face against it's cool surface, they picked up her lament and carried it away for Jacob to see. Sobbing and squealing, arms quivering at each pounding swat dancing around her bottom to welt it as severely as possible, her partner's sad face had to watch and listen. To see Kayla cry choked the old doctor up, trying to rub the backs of her paws reassuringly while he suppressed his emotions into nothing further than a quiet, sad face.
As the time slowly passed for the Aspatrian, the back of the brush that made her fur pretty turned the fur beneath her tail into a flattened, scruffy mess. Under the thin layer, her skin welted; swelling and throbbing as a sea of darkening red. Flowing with sting, the heat her spanks made only served to make her skin more uncomfortable as bruises and deeper aches punished her below it all. The brush being an implement of strict correction, used so randomly to place a lump in the girl's chest, it wasn't much longer till her footpaws were scraping at the bed in her pain. Lifting her head slightly from the bed, her maw could not possibly close any longer, adding her own cries and yelps to the constant rhythm of low frequency slaps. Having been lengthened into a fairly bad spanking, eyes too tightly clenched to look up at Jacob for support, the poor fox broke down and let out an Aspatrian howl from her muzzle. Emily's brush had swatted the base of the fox's rear and upper thighs five times in a row, sometimes not moving from the same spot she just spanked to follow up with a real stinger as the pain from the first swat enveloped the area. The canid howl it brought forward was tearful and sullen, rolling it's lower pitches as she cried straight through it. Jacob grit his own teeth, holding on to her paws as they attempted to jerk away. It was hard to say you were sorry for such a thing, when Penitatas were taught such heavy lessons. Words did not easily equate to a sound spanking to which you bawled your eyes out.
Soft blue eyes turned bloodshot and exhausted, squinting with pain, the little tomboy-ish girl slumped her muzzle down onto the bed to give a hard cry under the final blows of the brush. Having stretched on for almost two minutes, Emily did not let Kayla get away with what she did. For it, the parent hoped her daughter's negligence was worth the price she paid for it. Emily's last two spanks, a bit harder, spanked dead center on both sides of Kayla's rear; a rhythm that was not new, but a classic she always preferred to close with. Hard and bruising on top of a thick layer of agonizing spanking welts, Kayla placed her weight on her restrained paws, rearing up her head with a series of pained cries and yelps. As that steady sound of swatting stopped, propped up by her paws in Jacob's lap, her head lowered only a little. Her lower jaw quivered, finding this to be a swatting that begged for her paw's attention. The urge to nurse the remnants of her punishment was extreme, lowering her muzzle to the bed only for the sake of growling sharply into the mattress and let out the hurt. Jacob swallowed, knowing well her trembling fingers were being held back by his own, and where they truly wanted to be.
"Not to abandon you too fast honey, but I have to have a 'talk' with Jacob too. You can cry it out in that corner while I take care of that.", the mother spoke only loud enough to speak over Kayla's sputtering sobs, releasing the fox's tail to allow her up without much rest or consoling. She would provide plenty of it for her daughter in a moment, being that the corner was a temporary measure. Due to Jacob's rejuve status, Kayla was not privy to witnessing his discipline. The boy was going to be given his privacy per normal, as the mother did not know how deep their relationship ran.
Looking up at Emily, Jacob gave a soft nod and let go of Kayla's paws to let her comply with her mother's directive. It was tough to move so soon after the spanking ended as the pain stiffened the muscles in her legs, but Kayla was a big enough girl to overcome it and at least slowly slide her bare pelvic fur from Emily's lap. Footpaws finding floor, the paws upon Emily's knees she used as support ended up at her front, looking off to the far corner of the room her mother had gestured to. Right next to the bathroom entrance, a bare little corner further isolated by one of the synthetic plants filling the space. As she walked, careful with her wobbly legs, Kayla's sniffles and cries dulled to a manageable level, wiping at her nose and eyes as she took her place off in the corner with her tail held close to her bottom. Both Emily and Jacob watched her, and once the Penitatas was settled with her muzzle tucked between the two walls, the focus changed to the boy's own actions.
Sitting side by side, catching Emily's gaze made Jacob lower his head again as he did before. Paws in his lap, his situation felt out of place. Command pin on his collar, and a badge upon his chest to go with the medical equipment attached at his waist. He walked the corridors of the U.S.S Capitol a shadow of the man that served Starfleet loyally. Yet he sulked with shame, sitting with a figure he regarded as a good parent, and a trustworthy woman.
"It's time Jacob. Your pants, if you would.", Emily looked down at the young Karrian at her side, speaking much more softly than she had with Kayla. Her orders were gentle, knowing Jacob would not disobey any longer. Taking a deep breath through his nostrils, the boy opened his muzzle and sighed out the air, standing back up to unbutton his slacks on his own. The mother was not about to overstep possible boundaries, leaving the task of disrobement to Jacob himself. Button free, Jacob un-tucked his shirt and allowed his slacks to fall to his knees. Already embarrassed by his actions, standing in his shirt and white cotton boys briefs did not add much to what he felt. Following Kayla's prior suit, quiet as she was, the Karrian got a lift off his young footclaws to climb up Emily's other side, to be situated properly for the brush in her right hand. Jacob tried his best not to be tense, settling his body over her lap to willingly lift and offer his tail as he knew he should.
"I'm not used to seeing you in my lap like this.", he heard spoken above him, catching the attention of his eyes as there was a delay in the acceptance of his long reptilian tail. The feeling of human skin touched upon it's scales, holding it towards his back to be out of the way. Towards the base of his Karrian tail, it curved smoothly, flowing into his own brief covered backside. It was a close moment, sitting in the dim light of the starship's room. Jacob felt the same way she did, giving the bed's sheet a light grip in his green paws. The guilt he felt shifted his hesitations aside, making it feel more appropriate to follow Emily's parental order. His other childhoods, post-rejuvenation, he had never once been disciplined. Not like his brothers would have cared what he did, but he did nothing wrong anyway. To be spanked like a child, forced him to be a child. So, this was acceptance. For Emily's words, the boy replied with a subdued hum.
"What were you thinking, Jacob?", the motherly human asked, with her tone much different than normal. Instead of being strictly scolding, it was soft. It resonated a note of surprise and curiosity, honestly wanting to know what went through the mind of such a behaved boy; speaking as an adult, to a small adult. Looking down into the white sheets and his own paws, the Karrian allowed his eyes to water a little. He knew what he deserved.
"I didn't think much of it, really. Thought Kayla would enjoy seeing it.", Jacob decided to reply in the same manner, having a talk with his surrogate guardian. As much as he wished to be an adult, a parent was quite needed. Kayla's pain was all his own doing, and Emily had all the reason in the world to be disappointed. He was to take her for some fun, and instead directed her to an entirely unauthorized location. That was nobody's fault but his. Even good intentions can be terribly miscreant.
"I'm so sorry...", his voice became softer, apologizing whole heartedly as he placed his paws over his muzzle and eyes. They were sad, repentant words, where the moisture in his eyes materialized slightly in his tone. Emily rubbed Jacob's tail at the point she held it, looking down with no malice. Jacob was as good of a man as he was a kid.
"Anyone can make a mistake.", Emily took the moment to remind, not seeking to crush his spirit. The poor reptile was very understanding, not questioning the need for his discipline. She would not spank a swat more than his offense merited, looking down over the seat of his underwear. Not similar to how Kayla's punishment was carried out, she placed the open flat side of the fur-brush about a foot and a half above the base of Jacob's tail, preparing to begin. Sliding his paws back onto the bed, the boy took a glance over his shoulder, meeting his sorry eyes to Emily's own soft ones. Spankings, as well as all discipline was meant to benefit the one receiving it. Emily would melt the guilt away and provide a growing rejuve a punitive lesson.
Not needing to speak a word to his guardian, Jacob settled his head back down to remain laid properly over Emily's lap. Groin hugged to the side of her thigh, feet slightly separated, and paws tight, he looked forward to the pillow and head of the Starfleet issue bed to await the rewards of bad judgment. The wait did not last more than a few seconds until Emily began.
Using the fur-brush in accordance with how a typical, well behaved rejuve would be punished, the older human spanked across the seat of Jacob's briefs with a slower, more predictable rhythm. It was hard enough to discipline a rejuve; firm and authoritive, smacking from one side to the other without striking the boy's exposed thighs as she had Kayla. It's low sounding slaps were duller to the ear, akin to a traditional spanking while adding a light variation from Jacob's briefs and underlying scale. From the very first spank of the brush, Jacob flinched, pulling the sheet up in his paws close to his muzzle to endure. The boy's muzzle curled around the back of his maw and under his eyes, as the closed lids leaked a forming tear. Slow and calm, Kayla's fur-brush spanked from one spot to the next, and back.
Jacob's insecurities over feeling childish did not rear their heads as he laid beneath the scorn of his correction. When his jaw trembled against the bed, his maw gently curled with an audible sob at the next hard smack of the brush against him - ache stacking up just as Kayla's did on a much lighter level. He had a degree of pain tolerance but not the experience his female companion did, shifting his legs from the sting and throb resonating down through his muscles. His tail shifted at it's base, held in place by the light hold Emily had upon it. Continuing swat by swat, Jacob winced and whimpered with each, growling with an increasing intensity as the seconds ticked by. For once, it didn't feel so bad to cry, having had earned it in the privacy of those he trusted like family. Spanked hard enough to have him wiggling and squirming a little didn't feel quite as dignified, but Emily wouldn't tell. His Starfleet insignia com-badge rested against her knee, shifting with his light, tearful sobs that trembled his belly.
Soon though, after almost a minute of such swatting, the brush began to hurt past what he could tolerate calmly. A smack on his lower right cheek incited a kick of his leg, and a higher pitched, whining 'ow!'. Only a normal rejuve, he did not think much about reaching back and giving the spot that suddenly delivered a blast of sting a prompt squeeze and rub from his right paw. Emily stopped her spanking to let him nurse the spot under his underwear a moment, pulling the elastic up enough to rub the welted scale himself. She could grant him at least that, being close to finished with her lesson. Using the warmed flat side of the brush, she stroked up and down Jacob's left thigh to try and be gently comforting, seeing the bit of reddened scale Jacob's paw exposed. Was about where she wanted it to be, not all too severe. Enough to last him a chunk of the day. A solid, well earned dose of the brush.
"Jacob?", Emily said as if a question, to request the Karrian withdraw his paw so she could finish. She wasn't going to try and spank around him and keep going. Boy didn't deserve anything but calm correction. Sniffling sharply, Jacob's fingertips gripped against his warm scale through his underwear as he closed his paw. Putting it back with it's fellow against his muzzle, the old doctor cried quietly; trying to take it as best he could. Emily respected that, just as Jacob had respected her own intentions.
Starting with a mere pat, the spanking winded back up to it's typical strength slowly. The building pain gave Jacob the opportunity to grip against the bed and his own muzzle, upping his whimpers and lament without dropping him back in the same pain level that caused him to grasp beneath his tail. His teeth bared, mostly shielded by his paws, unable to stay closed long before reverting to younger, more subdued sounds of crying and whimpering exclamations of hurt. Delivering the slow swats of the brush a dozen more controlled times against his prior welts that had already made him nurse his backside, the couple more was enough to break the last reigns of his pain tolerance and have his legs squirming more desperately seeming, and his tears more consistent. In the glow of the stars and the U.S.S Capitol's warp streaks, the line of tears down the side of Jacob's muzzle shimmered in the dull light. A droplet flowed around the curled back of the left side of his maw, tickling along his scales. Done, and punished, he laid over Emily's lap in it's aftermath.
Upon realizing Emily had completed her duty, Jacob growled uncomfortably through his tears, to reach back and rub beneath his green tail with both paws. Not a Penitatas, it was his privilege to do so now that she was done, and it was safe. Releasing Jacob's tail and setting the brush down at her side, Emily stroked through the shirt on Jacob's back to console and do what was needed for the young rejuve. She allowed him to suffer through it quietly, giving him the support to calm down and nurse away the throb Kayla's brush was good at causing. His bottom would still hurt while sitting, but all in all, Emily trusted Jacob could handle the residual aches and stings once the intensity was rubbed out by his paws.
"Thank you for understanding.", the parent felt it was prudent to mention, using her hands to massage against Jacob's upper back. His tears slowed now that the swatting itself was over, leaving him sniffling and wiping his eyes against the bed. Only sudden sobs crept up on him, due to his punishment and age. Took a few moments of relaxing further before he could speak comfortably, taking his time as he was permitted. The spanking was more than a couple smacks under the tail, but he expected as such. That was more than a household error like forgetting to wash your paws, or tracking in mud.
"Least I could do.", his voice came out not quite broken, but feeling the effects of his prior crying. It was soft as a result, still trying to soothe away his tears, but the boy sounded less sad. Things were forgiven when said and done. Jacob did not expect Emily to hold this against him for too long. It would be Kayla he wished to make this up to, considering his treat for the fox certainly went south.
"I didn't want to disappoint.", Jacob spoke again after a sniff, muffling it against the bed. His paws' nursing slowed to a stop, simply gripping both sides of his rear lightly. The room seemed darker through his watery eyes.
"I can't complain Jacob. You take good care of my daughter; you're entitled to not be perfect every waking moment. I get what you were trying to do.", Emily had the decency to grant the boy in terms of words, while taking a hold of his sides to help him up. Jacob acted on that queue, easing off of Emily's lap to stand up on his own two feet. Not to let his briefs hang out the way they were, the Karrian bent over while keep his tail low to grab his pants and pull them back up. Emily remained seated in front of him, trying to remain relaxed under the duress of the day's events. With her left hand, she made a gesture for the corner in front of them - the closest, near the replicator.
"That's your corner. I'm sentencing you to it for fifteen minutes to give you time to calm down and organize your thoughts. Once you've served it, you can pass the time how ever you like. Kayla I have other plans for, since she needs to rest.", Emily explained as her next and final order, coupled with her intentions for her daughter. Jacob looked over his shoulder where Emily gestured to, drooping his expression slightly at the follow-up punishment. Emily was a calculated woman, he should have figured as much would happen while tucking his shirt back in and ensuring his equipment was properly attached at his waist still. Giving a nod, as he did, Jacob wiped his cheeks once more after the button above his tail was appropriately secured.
"Alright. Yes ma'am.", Jacob agreed to his brief corner time, politely taking his leave in the aftermath of his discipline. Walking away through the dim room, around the table, this would have been the second time he was placed in the corner. The first was while a Penitatas. It was painfully demeaning, and his frown to the corner spoke it well. Muzzle tucked in just as Kayla did, he stood with his paws held behind his back in a typical Doctor Jacob Vasse fashion. At least his foolish mistake could be set in the past and left behind, from a parenting standpoint. Never would Jacob hold this against Emily. She impressed him, giving enough of a care to settle his business rather than ignore it. He would eventually made a more serious error, if he wasn't given time to re-think his judgment and subsequent actions. Here in the corner, dark as cold be, he was certainly left to those thoughts, comfortable with the fact he was not sent to the corner as a mischievous rejuve, but an act of teaching and forgiveness. In fact, it made him crack a weak smile beneath his moist eyes, thinking of Cameron seeing him standing there. Since he had his clothes on and dignity intact, it might have been something to laugh about once his scales were less red.
Across the room, Emily took her leisure to her daughter's side. Placing a hand on her shoulder, the mother knew it would not startle her furry girl. Considering Kayla's ears could pivot many directions, it was easy to tell when the fox was listening to your approaching footsteps. Her fur-brush had been left behind, settled beside the twisted lump of Kayla's clothing.
"You can come out of the corner now sweetie. We're done.", Emily addressed her Penitatas appropriately, speaking of Jacob's punishment. Kayla had listened the entire time, feeling sort of droopy he had to ensure something outside of his time as a Penitatas. Sure he might have earned it, but that did not make the butterflies flutter in her belly any less briskly. Kayla turned and stepped back from the corner all in one motion, looking up at her mother with her typical post-discipline appearance. Reddened, tired eyes, and an expression just short of a frown. Getting caught snooping on the engineering deck must have given her mother a scare, and Kayla knew to respect that.
"Sorry again mom.", Kayla loosely added to the pile of apologies, slipping in her own to go with Jacob's. Being a Penitatas her offense was different from his own, even if the actions were similar. She had to say she was sorry just as much as the young Karrian doctor.
"I'll just be happy keeping you two here to prevent it from happening again. Ship makes me nervous.", Emily decided to add as an insight to her own comfort level, using a wave of her hand to guide Kayla back out into the main portion of the room. Paws at her sides, Kayla remained a pace behind her mother. Looking up with her eyes, she pondered if she should quickly rub her backside before Emily would notice.
"Hop into bed. I want you to rest up before we get to DeltaStar, since you need to be able to work comfortably. I'll grant you permission to rub if it helps you nap.", Emily offered anyway, speaking much more lightly then her normal tones. She was concerned, wanting her daughter to do alright when the time came. It was a generous sentiment to give a Penitatas. While not being enthralled about being bedridden for the second time in only one day, Kayla was more than wise enough not to complain or decline. She had no interest in hobbling around DeltaStar wishing she had an ice pack to shove into her underwear.
As the fox began to climb into the bed, tail draped over her bare spanked bottom loosely, she stopped with one knee upon the mattress while looking out towards Jacob's corner. He stood so tall to her, and calm, even if her ears could pick up his quieted sniffs. Kayla gave him a smile, knowing he was a tough guy and would be fine in no time. Her mother kept to her word. And with none of her own, Kayla finished climbing into bed, being careful not to bunch up her shirt. Curling up with her head on the pillow, the Aspatrian tried to get comfortable and looked out the window just above. Getting to rub beneath her tail and relax, she did not hold poor feelings towards Jacob. He made her happy, showing her a warp core and being there for her, even when his own tail was on the line. Kayla had good taste in partners.
Emily ended up at the table, sitting down between the two rejuves to think about the day and what they were all doing there. Jacob would soon leave his corner to find a comfortable position to sit in on the sofa, toying with his medical tricorder to distract his mind, while Kayla rubbed her sore crimson welts to eventual slumber.
Her ears were lulled by the sound of the engines, moving steadily towards DeltaStar station. Kayla's mission remained fresh in their minds, waiting for the time to come.