Kayla: Cognitive Dissonance
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 Thirty-Four)
Concept by Lurking Dragon
Kayla and story by Professor Bob
More Kayla Stuff!: www.Professor-Bob.com

When you wake up, you expect to be in your bed. It's where you belong, and it is never too far from the things and people that you love. A warm sanctuary from the perils of the world, and a familiar place to start the day. Waking up from a poor night's sleep covered in sickeningly moist dirt from the somewhat chilly morning air, was not how Kayla wished to find herself. Even rejuve children wish certain things to only be dreams, and that they'd find themselves back in their own bed without anguish or harm; beyond the usual at least. Sitting up groggily and brushing all the earth from her fur, the young fox was forced to face reality. Getting all the dirt from her fur, shirt, and inside her panties, she sat down sadly on her pillow to try and stay clean, not making a single sound as she pulled her knees to her chest and huddled to keep warm. The green door several paces ahead of her was obviously going to be locked to keep her inside, as if she wanted to step out and greet her captors anyhow. Kayla felt filthy and uncomfortable, with her injuries, blood sticking her fur into clumps, and dirt in places they did not belong. She looked like hell; her fur and clothing scruffy and damaged, and her left ear mangled with blood managing to get all over herself at some point or another. The penitatas had already been as sad as she could be, only able now to sit with a blank and lifeless expression. Today was the day she'd have to be Packet-Storm again.

"I can't just leave the past behind, can I you evil bitch?", Kayla quietly mumbled and growled to herself, though louder then normal due to her ear injury. Hacking was part of her old life and would not disappear as much as the fox tried. The exhilaration of breaking into her school computer system, the store yesterday, and now actual electronic grand-theft. Kayla saw her old self as evil and cruel, and that she more then likely still was. A heart torn in two as one half ran from the black half. She knew what and who she wanted to be, but circumstances forced her to stare a bitter fourty year old fox right back in the eyes. Wiping a slate clean took more work then just forgetting past crimes, while her own paws were still comitting them, willingly or unwillingly. The thoughts would not slip easily into the recesses of her mind, no matter how much she knew it was futile to do this to herself. At home the past while, she had felt somewhat unloved. Now she couldn't even love herself. She truely was then alone. A sudden bang sound rang in her only functional ear and her fur leapt on end, while her head raised to see the barely functional door be shoved open as dirt fell from the rusted hinges. The door stuck halfway, leaving it's opener leaning against the dirty frame with a particularly sly grin and a chuckle deep in his throat.

"Rise and shine mutt!", Tyson greeting with a taunting tone in his voice, while that chuckle increased as he looked down at the scruffy little girl all sadly huddled up with herself, staring back at him with her almost glassy eyes. With a flick of his unbandaged left hand, a datapad fell and made a muffled clatter in the cool brown dirt at Kayla's footpaws. "Go on, read it!", he laughed out while making a pointing sort of gesture towards the device. At least now Kayla knew what he was so amused with. She released her hold on her knees and lifted the pad from the ground, taking a look at the screen while her legs stretched out, and her toes dug into the dirt. It was today's news, ripped from the net and saved to chip.. but as soon as she made that realisation did her eyes cross the large text above the main article. 'December 24th, 2891 - Calleet Penitatas Packet-Storm Missing: Escape Feared'. They had no clue what happened to her! What about her parents? Did they think she ran away too? Was she abandoned completely?

"Went missing yesterday afternoon.. no knowlege of whereabouts.. penitatas-mother declined to comment.. dangerous hacker may extract revenge..", Kayla mumbled bits of the article quietly to herself while barely moving her muzzle, eyes watering. She was not going to be rescued. They thought she was a menace out to get her kicks on the galactic-net once again, and had no idea where she was or that she was kidnapped. She had already been scared into complying with her captor's orders, but now she did not have the choice to rebel at all. It was the only way to leave his dank shack alive. At least she hoped she'd leave the shack alive, as per Maxwell's promises.

"Was that the mom you want to go home to Kayla?", the distrought fox again heard from the doorway, slowly picking up her head to look over Tyson's shoulder. He sounded as if he was making a point in reguards to what he told her last night. "Couldn't even stick up for you. You know what not commenting means? She thinks you're guilty", Maxwell spoke like a spiteful but intelligent man, using his words as a knife to twist in the young fox's heart. Kayla was not as stupid as Tyson and Maxwell thought.. but, full of sadness, she thought it was very possible that Maxwell was right. Maybe more then just possible.

"She could have just been sad you know", Kayla said with a cross tone and expression, gripping the datapad harder in her right paw.

"Are you telling me that, or are you trying to tell yourself that?", Maxwell answered right off with a sick sort of smile. He knew how Kayla would respond, and had the perfect manipulative answer already lined up. A mind as small as a seven year old's had a breaking point, where the confusion would leave her defenseless and a slave to the only input that made any sense. His own input.

"Oh shove it!", Kayla snapped sharply in a burst of anger, throwing the grey datapad at the doorway. It clacked off the dilapidated and landed back at Maxwell's side, nearly hitting him in the leg with it. She appreciated to be alive and had not been raped thanks to Maxwell, but she was not turning on her parents as much as Maxwell would have expected, even if he thinks she had. "I just want to go to the bathroom", she said in a tone that suggested it was an order. They wanted her to do stuff for them, so she figured they could at least take her someplace to do her business.

"Take her out to the ship. Don't let her be too long", Maxwell entrusted his partner with. He knew he was better suited at making sure Kayla did not run away, not to mention he was armed. Tyson just made a gesture towards the dirty looking fox, telling her to get up. As much as she hated Tyson, she did as asked without a sound.. after not having the opportunity to use the bathroom for such a while, the urge to was stronger then her will to be disobedient. Giving her shirt and panties a quick wipe to remove more dirt, she draped her bloodied jeans around her neck and walked with Tyson behind her to direct. Thoughts of home tuned out her surroundings, even as they walked out into the cool open air of the forest. Eyes fixed on the dim lit ground below, Kayla thought more about her mother with clarity. Emily loved her, she knew that.. even with all the being cold and strict. But what if Emily really did think she ran away? Kayla was at a loss.. was she distrusted still? That so-called rude girl with an attitude problem? What she would not give for a good spanking and a warm cuddle from the woman who once called her a 'furry blessing' right now. Even that spanking sounded pretty good, compared to being killed and unloved. It was a re-kindled appreciation for what she once had, before she was kidnapped, and before Emily became so strict and harsh. Kayla let out a quiet sob as her muzzle lightly trembled, just wanting her family. Ninne and Ki'rene too, they were family too.. the only group of people she could have ever called a family, after all her years of life.

"What are you whining about now? Damned bitch", Tyson grumbled when he heard the tearful sniffles coming from the wet black nose ahead of him. Kayla audibly 'hrmph!'ed, turning her head back slightly.

"None of your business!", Kayla replied with the same hostility, relying on her rest to hold her ground. With only a few steps further, she stepped her bare footpaws onto the metal rear ramp of the ship, to the familiar small room she was once in.

"Open the slider on the floor behind the two pilot's seats. You have five minutes, and before you think of anything, there is no other way out of that little bathroom. The rest of the ship is mechanics behind those walls", she was informed, as she started looking around the small craft as to where a bathroom could be. Knowing there was a phaser being pointed at her, and not caring to look behind her to see it, she just stepped foreward and knelt down to release the hatch. The little self-installed door slid out of the way, revealing a small bathroom with a few rungs to step on and climb down. With a slight turn, she went quickly down, closing the hatch behind herself. A wave of temporary relief came over her as soon as her footpaws reached the floor, as tiny as this bathroom was. Just a toilet-unit in a hole. Sliding her dirty panties down her equaly dirty legs, she found it welcoming to sit on something clean and just rest.

"Emily.. Mom. I'm counting on you. Don't leave me alone in this world..", Kayla spoke softly as a plea to the heavens, holding her head in her paws while she did what she had to.

* * * *

Emily slept even less then her tormented and injured daughter. She did not have the ability to pass out from blood loss, having spent the night holding Melissa close to her chest. All around the house there were so many reminders of the little girl that was lost, and she made no attempt to avoid them. Emily even sat and watched Kayla's favorite cartoons early in the morning. She wanted so badly to make things up to her furry blessing, no matter if she ran away or she did not. The mother knew her girl well enough, that she was scared no matter what had happened. She trusted her word that she accepted her punishment and loved having a second chance, knowing Kayla could not have been okay with being away from home. Something had to be very wrong!

"Honey, are you alright? I don't think you ever came to bed last night", Alex asked with heavy concearn as soon as he stepped off the last step of the stairs, peering over at his wife whom seemed so glum on the sofa holding Melissa and watching cartoons.

"I slept a little bit out here. Did a lot of wandering around the house. Looked at Kayla's things, places we were, places I spanked her, and pointed out all the corners I sent her to", Emily answered with a sigh, looking over to her side as Alex slipped himself onto the sofa. "I can't even begin to tell you how horrible I feel", she continued with an even sadder tone. Tears would have normally accompanied that level of saddness, but she ran dry late last night. Alex could not help but lightly shake his head.

"You'll never feel better if you keep thinking you did something terribly wrong. She's supposed to be punished when she does anything bad, and I do mean anything. It's not your fault", he tried to encourage and assure once again. It seemed silly to him that she would feel this bad.

"You don't get it.. it's not that", Emily said a lot more firmly, actually growing irritated that Alex did not understand. "I have two jobs. Punish and nurture. Penitatas or not, they are still fragile and can feel sad or not cared about. Kayla thought I was being overbearing, and she was right. She felt the world did not care about penitatas, and she felt alone. It's my duty to ensure she never feels that way. I failed, cause she did feel that way. She knows I love her, and she knows I care about her a lot, which makes it hurt more when I am nasty-seeming. Only just now did she get her very first mother, I had a lot of responcibility to her. I wanted her to grow up alright and be obedient, but I relied on spanking alone to get there for a while because of my disappointment in some of the more bad things she had done. I am not allowed to get frustrated or hold grudges because of the things she does, and remember those things each time I swing her paddle. She tries so hard to be good, and I was the one making her misbehave by stressing her out and making her feel alone. I know it's hard to understand.. it's mother's intuition. When you spank her, bathe her, and hold her as she cries as much as I have.. there is a special bond", she was able to get out with sniffles, though her eyes were finally able to water up again. "I owe it to her Alex! To keep my promise and take care of her; to bring her home again!", she vowed, releasing all of her passion in her words. She loved the family she had, even the young ex-criminal she was re-rasing.

"Listen to me!", Alex started off firmly as well, but in a more positive and encouraging tone, placing his hands on his wife's shoulders. "Even if fell you made some mistakes, you were still a good mother to Kayla! She learned how to be a good person from you; even that life had a purpose, when she had lead a life with only spite and malcontent as a purpose. Spanking is a big part of your job, including those times Kayla was being well behaved and you did not wish to lay your hand on her, but had to anyway. That is what makes you a good mother, the care! True, you used to be a lot more forgiving. But is it such a bad thing to discipline her harshly for certain behaviors? Just needs more positives to go along with the severities too I guess. In the end she still loves you, I know she does. If we can get her back, you both can talk to eachother and make things right!", he tried his best to get through to the grief stricken mother, still clutching the plush fox. With a sigh, he slipped his hands from her shoulders. "I've spanked her, bathed her, and held her while she cried too.. I know how hard it can be sometimes honey. Kayla is a sweet girl, smart, mostly well behaved even for a penitatas, and is a very interesting person. I'll try to be there for Kayla more too.. you just know how much it urks me sometimes to inflict so much pain. Being such a parent isn't as much in me. I will though, for you and her. I could be accused of the same things you are blaming yourself with, and I know Kayla doesn't hate me. I've spanked her downright hard when I have, and I was not always there for all of her tears to wipe them away. I hope she is alright..", he was forced to speak more somberly, wishing just as much that Kayla was back in his home. She was family. Emily only looked down at Melissa, with teary eyes and a lump in her chest. If only she had treated Kayla more fairly after her punishment weekend a month ago.. while she deserved that severe weekend, she didn't need her mother's anger to resurface in judgements and spankings well afterwards.

"We need to do something..", she nearly whispered, unable to accept the possibility that her girl may have run away. She knew better, and that meant her daughter was not in good hands. Alex was right, this was not a time to be hating herself for being the 'paddle swinger'. It was time to be a mom, despite how severely she had to swing that paddle at times.

* * * *

"This isn't right!", Ninne growled loudly, flicking the morning news chip out of her mother's datapad and throwing it onto the coffee table in their livingroom. The two drakes were still in the shirts and panties they slept in, not being in a rush to change into anything else. "Why would Kayla just disappear like this?", she whined, still very distrought from her best friend's disappearance. Her reptilian eyes stayed at a constant state of watered, if not crying, all yesterday. It hurt her deeply in a special way, concidering she was the one to see Kayla last.. if only she stuck around longer, perhaps things would be different.

"Anything is possible dear.. even that she might have run away. You did say she was really unhappy with some things", Ki'rene answered more softly from her seat on the sofa while Ninne paced around her. Keeping calm during a situation like this was not easy for her; she felt she owed that fox a great deal. Kayla was always there for Ninne and even herself, and she was one of the people that would discipline her. Ninne could not help but roll her eyes and growl softly at the thought.

"That would be Emily again. Kayla was so scared of making mistakes that she made even more mistakes, and she never got a break. She felt that she had to go into seclusion over there. If she ran away, you can bet it's Emily's fault for being unfair. Broke my heart when I heard she was going to be punished even more that day when we were leaving court", Ninne rambled off into, halting her pacing to get it all out, while sounding not at all pleased. Her fog of mind allowed her to barely notice for a second that she was being grabbed. When she found herself in the familar pin between her mother's legs, only then did she figure out what was about to happen. Tail in the air, she only let out a sharp whine and braced herself. No pleas, since her mother only disciplined her when she felt she deserved it, and she was never wrong either. Without having to wait, the familiar sting of teeth bolted into the base of her tail, making her wince hard and clench her eyes and claws. No chewing, just one slow and steady bite. She gradually added pressure from her jaws as the teeth pressed into the scales harder over several seconds, which was enough to make Ninne squirm and make pained sounds from it. With an inward pulse with her jaw, she delivered a quick bite to her daughter's undertail scales while the teeth were already pressed in, causing Ninne to yelp out and whimper. If her eyes were not watery before, they were now. The small drake held still for the 'real deal', figuring that single bite was only a warm up, but it was her mother's voice she heard instead.

"Ninne, we don't need to play any blame games. It does not matter who might be at fault, and everyone has different views on what is fair and appropreate. We don't feel using metal bristled brushes between the legs is appropreate for a Drakonian, does that mean we are wrong because we don't follow the crowd?", Ki'rene spoke somewhat sternly, not wanting her girl to be so upset with Emily, or so quick to judge for that matter. The smaller girl curled her raptor neck around so she could see her mother, and shook her head, looking guilty.

"It doesn't.. I'm sorry momma", Ninne was forced to reply, concidering her mother made perfect sense.

"Emily has been a good friend to us both. She's raised Kayla well too. It's very rude to judge her so harshly. All penitatas have bad times; even I have given you many. I have kept you howling with a very sore tail for a lengthy period of time too, more then once", Ki'rene explained more softly, before letting out a sudden chuckle. "No one has to tell me I can be harsh, I already know I can be", she grinned playfully to her daughter, leaning her neck over to nuzzle the side of Ninne's neck. Ninne cracked a smile and nuzzled her reptilian head back at her mother, sting in her tail or not.

"Another good reason for me to keep out of trouble", she played right back, though it was something very honest. Once done nuzzling eachother, Ki'rene dipped her neck back down to finish her job, with her daughter lowering her own neck back down without needing to be asked. 'Why does my mom always have to be right?', Ninne asked herself in her head, knowing she could not get out of her situation without a marked tailbase. At least the tailchewings don't feel as bad when you know you're getting what you deserve, and don't waste as much energy struggling and howling. Not all of it could be helped though, as Ninne promptly demonstrated when Ki'rene started chewing on her tailbase with her sharp teeth. It was not too severe, but the marks and light bruising from her initial bite were very painful as she chewed on her scales and dragged her teeth-tips into and across them. Her legs and footclaws fidgeted, whimpering for a brief few moments till her mother made a good grind across her backside's scales, pulling with a leathery sort of snap, and the first good sob escaped her snout. Fortunately those were the only techniques her mother used, sticking to only chewing and the occational grind to increase the burn under her scales. The sting and pain accumulated with each series of chews, easing Ninne into a steady cry and other more occasional sharper sounds. She hung her head and sobbed, dripping tears from her eyes just as any nine year old human child would if they were given a bare, firm handspanking from their parent. Towards the end of her roughly six minute tailchewing, her mother added a few quick bites to just add a sharp sting, inciting a harder cry from her daughter whom was sobbing more by now and certainly had her fill of discipline. Ki'rene stopped right away at that point, patting her girl's back to let her rest a moment while she continued to cry from the pain of having the base of her tail chewed. The normally brown scales were a decent shade of red, just saying she had a good tailchewing, and recieved nothing much else. You could only see the marks from her initial bite if you looked closely enough.

"Feeling a little less agitated Ninne?", Ki'rene asked only loud enough to speak over her daughter's light crying after giving her some time to calm down and let her tail burn. She knew her girl's words were only caused by her anger, and only wanted to clear it up. It was a tough time, and Ninne didn't have to make it harder on herself. After a deep sniff so she could speak more clearly, she turned her neck back around to see her mother again.

"Yeah.. You were right. I just feel real bad for Kayla ma'ma.. we're like partners in this ordeal..", she was able to get out between chokes and tears. Ki'rene took the back of her cool scaled claw and rubbed it back and forth across her girl's tender undertail, essentially nursing her tail for her. Ninne's face scrunched up in a wince only at first, till a look of relief came over her. A good sign that her mother was understanding, and was not mad at her for the things that came out of her snout.

"It's good to have a friend like that. Trust me sweetie, Kayla is a very smart girl, and she knows where her home is. If she can get back here, she will. If she can easily beat up people bigger then her like Ashley, I'm sure she can handle herself. We need to hope for the best honey and lend our support to Emily and Alex. You know how sad they are, Emily is really upset", Ki'rene replied with her usual soft and motherly voice, still continuing to rub the base of her girl's tail. She didn't want the sting to linger too long; she already got her point across and taught her daughter her lesson.

"I was just saying stupid things ma', I know she is. Can't expect others to be fair when I am not either", Ninne sighed with a few post chewing sniffles and whimpers, wiping at her eyes and nose with her claws. Her mother rubbing her tail helped her calm down a lot. "Sorry about that", she appologized, cracking another smile to show she was being honest, and appreciated having her tail nursed. Ki'rene didn't need to know her girl appreciated it, she just loved being a mom.

"That's alright, just a little mistake", she was replied with, being released from her mother's pin and set onto the floor carefully. ".. But for right now, you can set yourself in the corner while you finish calming down to give your tail time to cool", Ki'rene then instructed with a slight smirk across her muzzle as soon as Ninne gave her a surprised look. It made her chuckle. "Hey, I did say I was harsh!", she had to laugh a little, leaning foreward and kissing Ninne on the snout.

"Funny ma'..", Ninne said with a half-amused smirk, stepping out of her panties to walk to the corner and place herself on her hard wooden stool. At least she didn't have to stand, even if her tailbase won't like the weight on it much.

"We'll visit across the street a bit later too so they aren't all alone. I'll let you off when it's time to get washed up and dressed", Ki'rene added while she got up from the sofa, and Ninne settled down slowly onto her short stool, wincing slightly while she sank her weight down. It wasn't too bad, so the bad part was going to be staring into the corner and not making a peep. Concidering she should not talk, Ninne just nodded affirmingly to what her mother said; didn't want any more trouble, just in case. Ki'rene left her daughter to do her morning cleaning and chores, figuring staring off into the corner could let Ninne clear her thoughts and sort them all clearly. Kayla's disappearance had to be taking a heavy toll on her girl's young mind..

* * * *

Happy to have her pants back around her waist, despite how stiff they were from the blood soaked into it, Kayla paced around the main room of the shack. She was busy looking over the pieces of computer equipment more closely, just trying to avoid her two captors on the other side of the room. They had been talking to one another by the door to the outside, leaving the fox some peace. With her jeans on, she looked like she had been soaked from head to toe in blood. Might as well have been. All of the crudely wired external devices to the terminal reminded her of home, though even her old home was cleaner then this, and had a carpet. Throughout the day, her much older muzzle would either be on her tattered sofa with a book or a schematic, or in front of her console to mess with someone's sense of personal-security. Accessing private data, interrupting communication feeds, disabling security systems; all to get back at the universe. As well known as she was, it was no life to live. Now she could escape her fame even after her attempts to reform, spiraling her into a predicament that could cost her everything. Fate operates in cruel and punitive ways. Kayla thought she was frustrated at home trying to keep her backside from getting bruised; that was a lot better then avoiding death. Only the thoughts of Emily, Alex, Ninne, and Ki'rene gave her the strength to hold back the tears. Even that was fading, as the dark veil of what she used to be shrouded her mind. She felt she was not good enough to have friends and family that good - not when she was a monster.

"Kayla,", the fox was startled with, causing her to turn her head from the back wall and wish her 'alone time' lasted longer, "it's time for you to get started on your bank expedition. Come have a seat at your console here and I will walk you through what we need you to do", Maxwell directed, walking to the seat of the console and setting his hands on the back of it as an invitation. Kayla let a huff out of her nose and turned on her right footpaw, figuring it was covered with plenty of dirt already as it was, to slowly walk to the computer they had setup for her. To again do their bidding, but for real this time.

"Would it be so terrible to work for the things you get in life?", she had to comment, stopping at the corner of the terminal without slipping herself into the chair. Her head looked right up towards Maxwell's, very much looking for an answer. These men disgusted her. The young white haired man shook his head lightly at the question, pretending to not be phased by it.

"This took a lot of work to do, nor was it cheap. It's an 'investment' in our futures. Besides, the Packet-Storm of old loved sticking it to others, right? I grew up to stories about your exploits. You're a criminal too Kayla, we're all in this together. No different", he answered calmly, trying his best to downplay what he was doing into something she could relate to. His attempts to always downplay things were starting to aggrivate him on the inside though, as the itch for his fortune grew.

"The 'Packet-Storm of old' was also a middle-aged slimeball hacker", Kayla said in a snide, matter-of-fact way as she turned her back to Maxwell and looked down at the ground. "I'm not middle-aged and I am not a hacker. You must have the wrong number. I am Kayla Ackart, not Packet-storm, a penitatas who wants this sort of life to go away", she growled softly in defiance. It was the least she could do for those store owners from yesterday; make these crook's jobs more difficult.

"You have no home to return to, you know that, don't you?", Maxwell suddenly spat, till he realised he was losing his patience and simmered himself back down. With only a second's thought, he would have to use his sudden snap to his advantage, as the young fox started to look increasingly angry again. "They think you're a runaway and a bad person. The courts would string you up by your tail and beat you for days on end! All the people you cared about will hate you and deal you pain. Out here you're free! Don't you want that?", he spoke with force in his voice, trying to use some of that impatient anger of his as emphisis in his words. Anything to make her feel as alone and unloved as possible. Just get into that chair you worthless girl..

"Home - sweet - home!", Kayla seethed deeply through her teeth, swinging her head around violently towards Maxwell, with the passion resonating in her throat as she spoke each word with separate force to tell him she did not care. She'll love her friends and family no matter what, and would welcome all the beatings she would be delt if it all was true, as long as it meant being with them again. She'd smile while a judge beat the first blisters under her tail. Emily's harsh scolding and Alex's sharp lash of his belt; sounded like home sweet home.

"I was hoping I would not have to resort to this..", Maxwell sighed out in a 'you have this coming to you' sort of tone, as he lifted up the back of his shirt slightly and reached for something. Kayla turned a bit more on her right footpaw, looking surprised and shocked for a moment as she tried to catch of glimpse of what he was reaching for, but it was already too late. A quick grab with his left hand and she found her right wrist tightly grasped and being pulled upwards and outwards, forcing her to turn back around completely. She tried to move backwards and pull her arm free, pressing her footpaws into the ground, but the hold on her was too tight. With a quick slip of his right hand, Maxwell unsheathed what looked to be a switch from his pants in the dim light. Kayla gasped and growled out a warning, still pulling feverishly to release herself.. with her eyes going wide as soon as she saw the stick more clearly. It was not that thin, and it had small thorns all along it; not a proper tool of discipline. Maxwell had even lied - he wanted to do this. Show that little fox a piece of his own anger. "Go on, open your hand! I'm sorry, but you're going to have to cooperate some way or another", he ordered, telling her why he was doing this. He finally realised a lot of his manipulation tactics were not working on his prisoner and it was time for an addition to his strategy.

"Let go! Please let go!", the fox howled in fear, breathing quickly and feeling ever so desperate to get away, keeping her paw clenched up in a tight fist. Her intuition told her she was in danger. Not bothering to even wait, Maxwell reeled back with the switch and pulled Kayla's paw a bit higher, striking across her knuckles with a harsh whap; thorns being lashed into her skin at a few points. The sudden and unexpected pain make the girl scream as the deep pain flared through her paw, trying to move her fist about to avoid the hard and incorrect swings of the misused implement. Her chest was so tight with fear, the pain was only a secondary side effect. Swing after swing, the thorned branch made rough impact with her balled up fingers she was trying to hard to protect. It felt like her paw was being banged harshly into the corner of a jagged table, feeling the painful blunt force and the burning sting of the thorns breaking her skin. Thrashing her arm and her paw as much as possible did nothing, he would not stop no matter how she had her paw, smacking the back of her paw and all across her fingers with force. This is how a penitatas' fingers could be easily broken, is an improper weilding of an implement against the hand. "Stop it, please!", Kayla was forced to very sharply beg, screeching out a pained whine before starting to cry, as tough as she wanted to be. This was too frightening and painful not to. It lead her to do something any other penitatas would be avoiding, just as she was now. After a sharp smack into the ends of her fingers, she opened her paw up to allow the pain to go someplace else - into her palm. At least at home she knew she was safe and cared about.. right now, she could not be in a worse position when it came to someone holding a switch. As soon as the first lash came across the palm of her paw, she howled out in pain as a fox would, flinching every muscle in her body as the pain bolted down her arm and the thorns cut into her thin paw flesh. Kayla clenched her eyes closed and looked away, knowing she did not need to look or try to evade, as he'd swing no matter what. Even when her paw closed involuntarily, the branch would smack into her fingers. It felt never ending, but as soon as she felt the hand slip from her wrist, she flung herself backwards and away, falling to her knees and cluching her beatten paw. Kayla sobbed hard, opening her tearing eyes slowly to look at her paw. It was littered with tiny cuts, and felt battered and bruised. This was why penitatas parents needed to be liscensed to do this sort of thing. An implement is a bad thing in the wrong hands.

"When you are told to do something, you do it, or things worse then that happens. Understood? I could call Tyson over, but I'm trying to cut you a break Kayla. There is a life without that sort of thing once you leave here", Maxwell spoke in almost a scold, till he leveled himself out to a more relaxed tone of voice as he tried once again to manipulate her. Kayla raised her head, teeth gleeming at her tormenter as she clutched and rubbed her right paw, keeping it in a fist due to the ache in her fingers as tears rolled down the fur of her cheeks to be absorbed slowly by her fur. "If you do this for us, you leave in one piece and can do what ever you want", he then lied, trying to say anything that will get her to do as told. Kayla shot her head back down with another sudden growl, with the look of thought on her muzzle as she opened her right paw and cradled it in her left.

"How do you expect me to work with only one paw Maxwell?", she scoffed out of irritation, looking away just slightly as she sniffled through her nose. She did not want to seem aggressive at the moment, with her 'flee' instinct more prevailent than 'fight'. The boundaries set by her captors had been stretched enough.

"You need time to prepare anyhow. I'll give you an hour to do all of it, so you can take care of your hand there and get everything ready", Maxwell said with a tired sigh, seeming like swinging around the switch wore him out. It did too, concidering he was swinging it wrong. Kayla could only get up off the ground quietly, raising from her dirt covered knees, to take the few steps foreward and climb herself weakly up into the black chair in front of her terminal. Complying made Maxwell feel relieved at least, giving the back of the chair a pat. "Access the file 'banking' to get all of the data you need on the server you will be moving funds to. Set up all the programs and access points as well for getting in and out of Deltastar Bank safely", he instructed her on what to do, before walking away back towards the door, where Tyson had been leaning against the rickety wall and lightly snickering.

"Max, I still think that is really stupid", Tyson commented as soon as Maxwell got close enough, keeping quiet enough so Kayla would not hear. "I'll be damned if that wasn't fun to watch though! I think I'm rubbing off on you", the man joked cruely, grinning at the sight of the fox sulking and tapping on the keyboard slowly with one single paw. The look of a broken spirit.

"She just pisses me off is all", he was answered with, as Maxwell threw his hand towards Kayla in a gesture to say he was sick of her. "Time is short, I don't have time to play her fucking games", he grumbled harshly about, dropping the tree branch and stepping a bit farther from Kayla since he knew he sounded angry and loud. At least he got to release his frustration on her. He wanted his money and he wanted it now. The fox could only dry her eyes, rub her paw, and do as told if she wanted to walk out of that shack and be away from these two violent humans.

* * * *

"Cadet, take us for one more pass around the fifty mile perimeter", Ensign Brayden issued as a command, tapping his fingers at the console in front of him while he monitored the sensor sweeps. Giving orders was something new to him, but had no problem in doing so.

"Yes sir", the accompanying Starfleet cadet answered with acadamy enthusiasm, speaking formally and throwing the word 'sir' in every sentence. It was driving Blaine nuts, even if he too spoke that way at one point or another. It's hard to tell what happens that takes you from fresh Starfleet Acadamy meat to an officer, but perhaps he'd figure it out someday. Ensign Brayden sighed quietly, staring at the sensor monitor with a dull expression as the sweeps scanned Calleet for Kayla below. They had made multiple passes of the fifty miles he was ordered, finding nothing but Aspatrians that were where they belonged. Felt like a lot of time wasted when he could have been with his family. What to tell his wife and son he would not be there for Christmas was eluding him, just as Kayla seemed to be eluding the shuttlecraft's sensors. With a sinking feeling of defeat, Blaine swiveled his chair towards the foreward console and tapped a few keys on the console, being replied by the computer with a couple of chirps and beeps till Commander Falstaff responded to the communications from the console in his desk.

"Commander, our scans have turned up nothing of use", he was forced to accept and say to his commanding officer, disappointed there was no good news to report. Being the bearer of bad news was not going to put Kayla back into custody or give him a promotion. Falstaff nodded his head, leaning onto his desk and putting his hands together in a look of concearn.

"We can only assume she is not on foot then. Are you certain you picked up no significant Aspatrian lifesigns Ensign?", he wished to have confirmed and clarified.

"I am certain. All of the lifesigns corresponded to correct citizens. One was a penitatas somewhat near Kayla's home, but that checked out as well", Blaine gave in response to his commander's question, referring to Michelle. With neither men looking too happy about the shuttlecraft's findings, they went silent for several seconds. Perhaps a bit due to thought, and the rest due to simple uncertainty.

"This is regretable Ensign. Cancel your sweeps and return to the installation so we can form a new course of action. Now we must take into concideration that miss Ackart has a stolen craft at her disposal, or she has been taken somewhere outside of the raidus of her penitatas parent's home", the commander spoke in a noticibly different tone as he issued his orders. People were relying on them to keep them safe from the dangers of the Alpha quadrant, leaving failure to not be an option. He was still adamant in capturing Kayla before anything bad happened. The scans not finding her made that a lot less likely.

"Affirmative commander. Shuttlecraft out", Blaine aknowledged, closing the connection with his base with the tap of a single key while the city of Calleet bustled below.

* * * *

All was ready. Defensive grids were in place on the signal buffers, the routing jump points were established, the automatic routines enabled, and all the data entered with the programs compiled for usage. The room was dark and lit only by the glow of the terminal screen, lighting up Kayla's orange fur and making her eyes glimmer as they stared off at the clock on her main system window. The hour she was alotted was fast approaching it's end, and though her work has since been completed, she was still wishing to keep it away. Breaking into Deltastar Bank would not make her at all proud. Her eyes dipped down to her right paw, examining it in the light of the terminal's glow. It was obviously marked and cut up in some places, though the pain had dulled down over the hour from her nursing of the paw, rubbing her thumb into her stinging palm. Deciding to ignore the pain, she uses her right paw to hold up her head as she watches the clock with a lump in her chest. You never get accustomed to feeling used and forced to do things against your will; something she has well experienced in the past. It always comes down to her past, being whom she was before she was finally caught. The monster was going to come out.

"It's time", Maxwell announced with a notion of deep anticipation in his voice. Kayla was not the only one who was dealing with a knot in their stomach, though Maxwell had one for different reasons. He was only concearned with the fox's success, and so was Tyson, with both of the men slowly walking behind Kayla's chair. They stayed close; Kayla was not going anywhere unless their bank account was overflowing with money and gold-pressed latinum. Tyson gave his phaser holster a quick flick and pulled out his weapon, keeping it close to his body while he pointed it at his prisoner. Kayla didn't even bother looking back, knowing it was there without looking. This was it then. It was do or die, literally. Already full of regret, the skilled fox flicked on two adjacent screens, giving her three monitors. The main one in the middle, one on her left, and one on her right, all needed to do something this dangerous and complicated. Each screen had something specific she had setup to be on it for purposes of monitoring her transmission route and a multitude of scanning applications. Deltastar Bank was a space station bank with a teleporter network designed to act as an interplanetary bank, able to move physical funds from planet to planet; a financial and computer fortress.

"I'm ready. Let me do what I have to", Kayla spoke quietly, hitting a few keys on the console with some confirmation chirps after each. She wanted this to be over as quick as possible. With everything on her screens being watched and logged, there were no tricks she could pull. She had no choice. "There. Accessing Deltastar now..", she nearly mumbled, sounding focused and very somber. The dirty, bloody, and beaten girl just could not fight anymore. Opening her muzzle slowly, the fox drew a long hurtful breath into her tight chest before her paws exploded into a frenzy of keystrokes and commands with the terminal beeping like mad with each touch. The once solidly glowing screens were now ablaze with walls of information as all the monitoring programs leapt to life and the system took it's connection bouncing route that Kayla personally setup across the solar system. The fox's paws and fingers were inhumanly fast, flooded with Aspatrian agility as they danced around the keys as if they had minds of their own, as Kayla's eyes stayed fixed on her central monitor, looking at the data so closely you'd think she was not working her paws herself. It was a state of controled panic that only Kayla could preform, reaching such speeds with accuracy while staying calm enough to analyze them even as her blood started to flow with adrenaline. With a long confirmation chirp from several devices, her paws suddenly stop and several new windows opened. The devices that were supposed to keep her out were fooled to let her in, and a bypasser kept her clear from the security for just a moment. On her left screen in the upper-right corner she even had a feed of the security cameras inside the space station's vaults and security rooms. "I'm inside of their system. They will detect me in about ten seconds when they notice their ICE grid has been bypassed during a system's check", Kayla spoke very fast in order to warn her captivated audience, whom had been watching in awe and anticipation; being reminded just why they chose her to do this. "Pick a vault!", she then ordered them to answer, making sure they knew to do it in haste, as she pointed towards a window on her right monitor with a long listing of vaults. They displayed their identification number and the amount of each specific currency in them, since each vault could only hold so much for transport - so the bank split up the money into a multitude of vaults; enough to make her captors drool. Doing a whole vault in the end was faster for Kayla's skill and more rewarding for her captors then going account to account. Pressing his finger against the screen to scroll down the long list, Maxwell finally tapped a number while Tyson gripped onto his shoulder, trying to lean over to get a look for himself.

"This one! Get it!", Maxwell yelled, tapping franticly at the one he wanted on the screen. Vault 23229. It's contents were like a dream come true for any convict. As soon as she saw which vault he wished, her paws flew across the keys instantly once again. Few hackers would have even made it inside of Deltastar, and none would be able to pull of what Kayla had to do next; they would all fail right at this very instant. A red selection box blinked on the vault listing window, surrounding vault 23229. The moment it turned solid, the computer let out a long warning chirp and it seemed like all of Kayla's screens started to go nuts to the two baffled men watching her. Several of her monitoring boxes on her left screen turned red, alerting her that her stealth had been breached and the Deltastar system was in alert mode. The security camera window flicked to the central control room quick enough to see several computer security technicians bolt from their coffee and their chairs, scrambling over eachother to get to their terminals as a klaxon blaired and several red lights flashed; their jobs no longer seemed so cush at that moment. No one was supposed to be able to get this far. Four hands tightly gripped at the back of the fox's chair, while their owners tried to watch all three screens at once, rather frightened at that moment at the data flying about and red windows. Kayla seemed no different then she had been before, eyes never breaking contact with her screens, catching each line of code and commands that passed by her primary window as she entered her keystrokes and monitored the feedback from her system and Deltastar. The security system's first attack towards Kayla was an automatic attempt to auto-dump her connection, but most likely to the surprise of the technicians, the operating system nor they could disconnect her. She had a strong hold past the computer's outer security measures, able to counteract the system's attempts to drop her out in real time with her fast paws and address randomizer programs. Her only real challenge were going to be the team of computer security engineers whom were pulling up their own primary connection windows at their terminals to stop their hacker, as they had brains, and the computer's auto-defensive programs had already been crippled.

"Just need another minute!", Kayla announced, as she begun working her commands into multiple windows on her central screen. Not only did she have to work to break into the bank's core operation routines that control the bank's financial systems, she had to dump or re-route tracer connections, and defend her system and connection against attacks from the security techs. This would have been impossible if she hadn't already gone this far into the system once before, just to show the world she could really do this. Only this time, she really would. She wouldn't be able to pull her punch.

"Hurry or we're screwed, and I'll break your fucking fingers!", Tyson demanded, nearly jumping in place from his confusion and alarm. His mind could not comprehend what was going on between those three screens, leaving him more worried then normal. He couldn't 'kill' a computer, which left him feeling vulnerable.

"They're no where near us in the traces, I'm fine!", Kayla snapped a bit more harshly due to his threat, keeping locked on her terminal. She was not as fine as she made it to seem, but there was no immidiate danger, despite what some of the monitors were saying, sounding their critical alarms. The connection bounce was being swapped and checked on by the fox every few seconds while she weaseled her way into the core of Deltastar where the security was at administrator level. It was designed to not accept commands remotely, leaving her to try and force it to think she was the bank president's personal terminal; a more timely procedure then she would have liked when dealing with the largest financial institution in the quadrant. The fox knew her connection was growing shakier, being bombarded with packets designed to crash her system and forcefully corrupt and close her connection. With a loud confirmation chirp, a new window opened up on her central window, breaking through the final wall of security to the bank's control routines and taking hold of the entire computer itself. Kayla now had access to everything in the entire bank, leaving her in complete command. Allowing an erroneous packet generator to attack the security systems itself by sending the packets into the security control room from her new doorway, her mind and paws were more free to complete her work. With only a few taps at her console, the vault listing on her left was replaced with a camera window to vault 23229 and a large GUI window with the words 'VAULT TRANSFER' flashing at the top. All of the window's entry fields were entered as Kayla poured data into her central window in the form of spoofing commands, to make it appear the central computer was still making them. With one final keystroke when all of the data was present and accounted for, the transfer window closed, and from the vault's camera they could all see the containers of money and latinum all be transported at once, disappearing. The trickster fox's fingers danced across the keys once more, replacing everything on her left window with an entire layout of Deltastar, narrowing it down to the computer systems. With her work done, she sent the bank's large computer's cooling system to shut down and freeze. By now, all of the technicians on her right window were screaming at one another and pounding on their computers; once the packet generator was able to directly attack their controls, there was nothing left they could do with their systems offline and not responding. The moment the layout window registered a total coolant system failure and a complete cease of transporter functions, she disconnected from Deltastar, closing all of her windows to replace them with several more. With only a few seconds of work, her screens all went quiet. Taking her paws from the keyboard, Kayla placed them on her knees, leaning over and gasping for air, panting and looking exhausted.. It was over.

"Kayla, what happened? Do we have it?", Maxwell wanted to know right away, still sounding as if he was in a panic. That was not something he had seen before. Tyson grabbed Kayla's left shoulder and gripped it tightly, shaking the exhausted fox violently in her chair.

"Tell me!", Maxwell's cohort then ordered as well, wanting to know the answer. Being shaked made Kayla want to growl, but she was too exhausted, still slouched over panting deeply and heavily. It took her a few seconds to respond, nodding her head softly.

".. Yes, you have it. All of it", she was finally able to respond, with little volume in her voice. With her shattered focus and damaged ear, she didn't even hear herself. She knew she must have spoke though, because she certainly heard her two assailants, whom both let out a howl of excitement and victory. The men grabbed one another and made all sorts of cheers, leaping around the room and yelling things to one another. Kayla did not cheer or feel happy, keeping her head low and staying at her terminal, holding her knees and thighs tight through her tattered and bloody jeans. She wanted to cry, but it would not come. Her mind was too much of a mess, and too over-exerted from needing to process what was on her screen as fast as her computer could display it. It was a horrible feeling to know what she had done, morally, ethically, and criminally. Committing a worse crime was almost impossible by some standards. To make things worse - she felt it.. that old rush. The exhilaration of the hack and completing something that another person could not, to be malicious and feel good at another's expense. It made her sick that she would feel that old rush and, deep down, enjoy it. Maybe Ashley was right.. she was still as much of a hacker as she was two years ago, back at her rut of a home while she waited for her fourty-ith birthday. Even the sheer possibility upset her, hating herself and this disgusting tool of harm that sat in front of her.

"Fox, are we safe? C'mon, fill us in!", Tyson stopped bounding around the room long enough to ask, curious to if their new-found fortune was going to stay theirs as the initial delight of becoming rich died down. Maxwell and Tyson both stopped at Kayla's right side, looking down at the fox for her to tell the story of how things were. Hell if they knew; even Maxwell didn't understand what was on those screens.

"My work cannot be passively traced. I used too many bouncing points to move my connection's route around, and I wiped several station's logs of me to make the trail un-followable. To seal the deal, I also shut down Deltastar's cooling systems. A computer system that large would overheat quickly, so they had to shut down the whole system once I was out and my lockouts were released, to keep it from burning up. Some chunks of data about me in active memory would be lost when they cut power, and even more would be lost through their attempts to get the system going again. I probabbly caused a decent amount of operating system damage; the station will be down for at least several hours while they get the cooling system back online as well. Not even the transporter signal can be followed, I made sure of that. As promised, your finances are in order.. check if you'd like", Kayla explained quietly and somberly, never raising her head. She did not wish to look at either of the men.

"We will. Good work Kayla! Thank you!", Maxwell made certain to sound appreciative, thanking his little prisoner since she looked so down on herself. A prisoner with a lacking moral would be less likely to comply to orders, which was not acceptable to him. Kayla only made a soft nod of reply as she looked down at her lap and the base of the computer terminal.

"Get some more money. Go back and empty out the other vaults", Tyson looked down at the fox and told her to then do, which somewhat underminded what Maxwell was trying to do by sounding greedy. Kayla stayed quiet for a second, still never raising her head.

"I can't do that", the fox honestly replied. Tyson dug his right boot into the ground from his sudden burt of heavy anger, shooting his injured right hand down to grip Kayla's neck. Concidering the sulking fox was not looking up, she was shocked and scared when she felt a large burly hand around her throat, squeezing and pulling her upwards a bit, forcing her to turn and look up at him. A squeel could barely escape her throat as much as he was squeezing, causing her to kick her legs in terror and hold his wrist with her paws, even sinking in her nails slightly. It was like Tyson did not even feel it.

"What do you mean you can't do that?!", he shouted loudly, with the spit flying from his lips into Kayla's face. Not wanting any of this at the moment, Maxwell grabbed his wrist as well and added a squeeze to go with Kayla's, to weaken the grip he had on her throat. Kayla proved herself to be too useful to die just yet. Feeling the hold on her throat weaken, the fox had to try and yell her answer to his question out, despite the loss of air, and the pain and pressure.

"I can't!.. Even if Deltastar was online..", she was able to get out before she had to strain for more air, ".. it's too dangerous to reconnect. They'd be able to trace me easier, and it's bad to have the terminal on the galactic-net after a job like that. It needs to stay offline for a while..", she had to strain more to say, getting those watery tears to her eyes like she wanted. Crying always made her feel better in a way.

"She is right Tyson, she can't connect to the net or go back to Deltastar now! Too risky!", Maxwell was prompt to agree, keeping his hold on Tyson's wrist as he spoke to him forcefully. Tyson shifted his eyes to Maxwell and he made a slight growl before letting go of Kayla's neck, letting her sink back into her seat. She coughed and held her neck, taking deeper breaths, whimpering softly through them. Without a further word, Tyson simply turned around and walked to his normal spot across the room, leaning on the metal sheet wall next to the door to the outside. Maxwell knelt down for a moment, patting the fox on the back.

"Sorry about him, he doesn't understand these sorts of things", Maxwell falsely appologized, though the rest of his statement was true. "You look beat. Just rest and relax, we will try again later", he said so she'd know what their instructions were. Recooperate and wait. Kayla was just glad when he walked away to go and rejoin Tyson, leaving her alone. Slowly slipping her rear from the padded chair, the opposite side from the two men, she let out her first, soft sob she had been holding in. She stepped only a few paces before laying down in the dirt beside the wall, curling up for warmth; it was nippy close to the floor near the wall. She sniffed a little, lightly crying as quietly as she could, draping her tail over her legs.

"Everyone.. I'm sorry", Kayla whispered with her dry mouth, eyes cloudy and wet. "I did all I could. Didn't have any choice left.. I want to return to all your arms..", she had to say, feeling alone and wishing more then anything to talk to her family. Now she only felt like a monster, with no one to help her feel better. Especially with all the money she just let Maxwell and Tyson steal..

Well over a billion dollars, and enough bars of gold-pressed latinum to impress even the Ferengi Grand Negas.

* * * *

The only thing Blaine Brayden could hear over the thoughts in his head, were the claps of his own boots as they traveled quickly down one of the base's smooth, hard floored corridors. Commander Falstaff ordered him to the control room over his combadge shortly after his arrival at the base, while he was preparing his official report. His voice sounded startled, and he said it was urgent, so Blaine hurried down to the control center without wasting any time. As soon as he reached the control center's twin automatic doors, they opened with a hydrolic hiss, to be drowned out by the loud and bustling sounds of their normally quiet control room. He stepped down the black and grey steps of the dark room down to the main part of the floor, the middle aisle and operations table, where he found Commander Falstaff speaking somewhat forcefully to someone's transmission on the table.

"The Federation does guarantee to protect your station! All I am trying to say is-", Falstaff was trying to convince the man, with his hands on the glowing table, looking down at the box that contained the man's video transmission. Blaine stepped to his commander's side, though keeping just behind him, as to not disrespect or interrupt, as the man on the other end just interrupted him.

"I don't care what you are trying to say! We're crippled out here Falstaff!", snapped the other man, looking nicely dressed and well-to-do from what Blaine could see, though growing old. A loud bang rang out from behind the man, causing him to turn around to give a technician that was kicking a terminal a hand gesture to hush up. ".. Not to mention my crew's morale is poor!", he added once he turned back around to the communications console.

"Your bank staff's morale is not my problem mister Peretti. I will take care of my problem - right now. Falstaff out", Falstaff replied with a bit of annoyance, closing the connection before the man could open his mouth to complain. He turned his head towards Blaine, knowing he had been there. "Ensign, we have a big problem on our hands now", he spoke bluntly, seeming very frazzled.

"Sir?", Blaine greeted in the form of a question, wanting the details. He presumed that was what he was here for, concidering he was called down here urgently. Commander Falstaff tapped on the operations table; a gesture for his ensign to come take a look. Blaine stepped to the side of the table and placed his hands on it, leaning over slightly as his commander tapped a few keys on the side to display a sight that everyone was familiar with - Deltastar Station, the most important bank in the Alpha quadrant. Renowned for it's security and weapontry.

"The person I was speaking with was Martin Peretti, the president of Deltastar Bank. A hacker broke into the bank's computer system moments ago..", he began explaining for his officer, tilting the overlay of the station to a bird's-eye view, to point to the highlighted computer core section. A sickening feeling rose up from Blaine's gut as he looked at the layout of the station, raising his head slightly.

"Kayla Ackart?", the ensign asked, knowing now exactly why he was the one summoned. Commander Falstaff briefly nodded his head, as he highlighted another box section of the bank station away from the core.

"She is the only suspect. We did not locate her in time, and she is the only known person to have such ability. The hacker unloaded this vault - vault number 23229. One of the most filled vaults in the station. She walked off with around one point six billion, and thirty million bars of latinum. None of the station's electronic defenses stopped her, and the on-duty anti-computer-terrorism specialists had just as little luck. They are busy trying to get their computer systems to work again. Deltastar Station is a floating hunk of junk right now, it's completely offline. The interplanetary markets are at a standstill, and that damned girl robbed the place without leaving any evidence of her, or her transporter destination's location", he briefed Ensign Brayden, rotating the station's layout back to the side-view, before closing the schematic. Blaine was very agitated he did not find Kayla earlier, leaving this to be even more of an insult to injury.

"There is no means of tracing her? There must be something usable somewhere if she broke into Deltastar through the glactic-net", Blaine raised his head all the way and asked, removing his hands from the ops table to stand up straight.

"Everyone here is working on that possibility. There seems to be extremely negligible results so far, due to how well she covered her tracks. When anyone traces any one of her many connection routes, they quickly find a break in the chain. Anything left in Deltastar's memory-banks is now lost as well. Her transporter signal was also buffered across a non-standard transporter-amplifier station out in an asteroid field; one that did not keep logs and masked the beam's signal. We do not know where it went from there", Falstaff went on to explain, from his officer's question. He slowly walked towards the front of the ops table, looking up at the central screen, with Blaine remaining at his side. "That Aspatrian is this installation's problem, as it has been assigned. However, she is now this installation's top priority now, as of this incident. Kayla Ackart is now the number one fugitive in the quadrant", he said, pointing upwards to all of the data. Most of it was all something related to Kayla and Deltastar. There was something Blaine had to ask though.. it was bugging him.

"Sir, why is it that I seem to be at the center of this mission?", Ensign Brayden found the courage to ask, turning his head to he'd see his commander's reaction clearly in the luminescent light. Commander Falstaff lowered his head from the viewscreen, staying quiet and contemplative for a few moments before turning his body slightly to reply.

"You're up for a promotion ensign. This was something to see how well you would do under a more leadership role. Since Kayla Ackart is now the most wanted criminal, I will be directly working on this, as required of me, with you being my major assistant", he found difficulty in saying, concidering it was not customary to tell someone they were being examined for promotion. The situation made it a more important bit of information. Blaine did not know what to say, looking back up at the central screen at a new repair update from Deltastar's technicians. The station would remain offline still for the time being.

"Where do we go from here sir?", Ensign Brayden asked after several moments of the two being quiet, listening only to the energetic commotion going on throughout the room.

"We wait", Commander Falstaff said with a note of displeasure in his tone.

* * * *

As her mother promised, Ninne's tail had been released from her stool for the pair to head to Emily and Alex's home, so they would not have to cope with Kayla's disappearance alone. It was becoming rough even on the two Drakonians, having grown so close to their neighbors, and grown so fond of the little fox that became a part of their life. Ki'rene had remained in the dining room with the other two adults for most of the afternoon, while Ninne had wandered around with her own thoughts. She could not remain with them for so long, having a nine year old's short attention span. Everything in the house reminded her of her friend. All the things that brought Emily memories, like Kayla's usual corner, along with all the other smaller things a child would find significance in, right down to the very chips Kayla would use for her programming projects. She'd sadly thumb through the smaller objects on Emily's computer desk, imagining in the back of her mind Kayla scolding her about being so touchy-feely with her data chips she left in neat piles beside the small terminal. Afterall, it would have been Kayla's backside if her things were not kept neat and organized. A bored and sad sigh left Ninne's raptor snout, while her footclaws walked across the livingroom carpet, neck hanging lower then normal. The young drake carefully took a seat a decent distance from the holo, as to not get her still sore tail into trouble again. Seeing Emily had made her feel guilty enough as it was, due to what she said earlier.

"In the end, the only thing any of us can do is hope for the best. She can be one tough girl, we have to give her that", Ki'rene tried to say with a more upbeat tone in her voice, even if she liked the situation as much as Emily or Alex did. The Draknonian mother looked up to the fox, for so many reasons.

"For someone who's lived through all the things she had, and still smile so much, you bet she's tough", Alex had to add, though quiet in the way he spoke it as he eyed the table they were sitting around. "The stories Kayla told me about her home planet will always stay with me. Thick smog and pollution mixed with a naturally red atmosphere made everything dark and blood red in color; with her people mostly homeless and dying around industrial complexes and poor excuses for apartment buildings. I always wonder what that dictator of their's gets away with on a day to day basis..", he described to the two, reminiscing all the things he and his girl would get into talking about. He admired her strength and courage to survive her rape-ridden kindernhood and the death surrounding her, as well as all the interesting and fascinating stories she told. Hearing those stories made Emily choke up badly however, unable to handle the thoughts of what may have happened to Kayla's real mother.

"The Federation shouldn't be so forgiving to Aspatria. Not after what Kayla had been through when she was only a baby.. Disgusting any of that happens this day and age", Emily huffed with a shaky voice, swallowing afterwards and taking a light sniff to keep from crying. "She always..", the grief-filled mother began, only to trail off to a stop at the sound of Ninne's calls.

"Mom!", the smaller drake called from the livingroom, sounding urgent. "Ma'ma!", Ninne called again not even two seconds later, even louder. Naturally, Ki'rene's first reaction was not very positive, figuring she'd have her teeth under her drakeling's tail for being rowdy and interrupting the adult's conversation. What she left her seat to find, was enough to pardon Ninne's yelling, and cause Emily and Alex to leave their own seats. Ninne still had a claw pointing towards the holo, trembling, looking as if she had been nearly hit by a low-flying hovercar. The extended family gathered around the shocked Drakonian, quietly staring off into the imaging screen while listing to a reporter on one of the news networks Emily left on earlier in the morning after Kayla's cartoons.

"As many of you know, shortly ago the Deltastar Banking system went completely offline, halting all planet to planet financial business. The markets froze and are at a standstill, potentially costing some investors and businesses a large sum of money. However, as I just now reported in the breaking news headline, we have discovered from Starfleet that the system failure on Deltastar Station was the result of an expert hacker. The station has indeed been the target of a computer originating robbery, with the perpetrator able to steal a massive amount of funds from one of the vaults. Deltastar Bank's president, Martin Peretti, declined to inform the media of specific numbers at this time, promising his bank's customers that Deltastar will be operational again within three more hours. This alleged incident occured just under an hour ago, with new details being vague as to the nature of this attack into the banking fortress we know as Deltastar. We will be back with details as soon as we have them", the news anchor reported, assuring Earth's viewers there would be further news shortly. He didn't even get finished with his last sentence before Ki'rene burst out.

"I can't see Kayla doing that! It can't be!", she had to just say, not wanting to believe that could possibly be the fox she knew so well. The reporter had no clue who it may have been, thanks to Starfleet and Deltastar's silence.. but they knew only one person who could do that and be successful.

"No. She was in there once before, prior to her arrest. Stealing is not her thing, it never will be", Alex chimed in right after, also not wanting to think Kayla attacked and robbed Deltastar. Wasn't something he would have believed her to do, but just like Ki'rene, he had that sinking feeling.

"Enough!", Emily gave sharply in a snap, turning her head quickly around towards them. It was enough to make both other penitatas parents wince, seeing the parent-like scold across her face. "That's my daughter. I know it is", she lightened her look after a few seconds, to look sad and teary as she spoke. The certainty was in her voice; she as a mother, knew. There was no other quite like Kayla. The first one to gain a growl out of the two drakes was actually Ki'rene, letting it rumble through her long throat till it escaped her bared teeth.

"Why would she do something like that! I can't believe that girl!", she released in a burst of sudden anger, looking crossly towards the holo with eyes that could pierce the heart. Ki'rene loved that little fox, and there were no words possible for her to describe how sickened and disappointed she was with Kayla if she were to stoop to being even more of a criminal then she was before. All of the kind words she ever gave Kayla seemed almost pointless, feeling betrayed. Ninne was second to agree, clenching her claws tightly and trying to hold her anger inside.

"Kayla, you're such a moron if you did this!", Ninne screamed towards the holo, teeth as bared as her mother's. Harsher words would have been used if she could have gotten away with it. They had all known the fox for so long now, the pain of thinking Kayla disappeared to rob a bank made each of them feel stepped on. Alex could only keep his mouth shut; he did not know what to say. Each person in the room was deeply hurt inside, right down to Kayla's own mother.

"It was a terrible, evil, and criminal thing to do. She could not have gone and done worse.. I am so mad at her I could paddle her blistered a hundred times over! Would deserve every lick too! She'd be a penitatas for a very long time and rightfully miserable. But.. No matter how much I want to beat her into Aspatrian pulp, she's still my daughter. I have a promise to keep", Emily spoke with airy passion, while letting only some anger reach into her voice. She squeezed Melissa into her chest, wishing it was Kayla, even after hearing news like this. "I'm only thankful to know she is alive. She can pay for her criminal acts and complete lack of ethics when she's back in my arms and she can have justice served to her. I'm still going to hope for the best", she added after the small show of affection to the plush fox, not wanting to be negative when it was not neccessary. She wanted to know more, and simply wanted her daughter home.

"I'd be happy to help you with serving that justice if that's the case", Ki'rene offered wholeheartedly, ready to show the fox she cared about some tough love if need be. Ninne only lightly growled at the holo, at a higher pitch then her mother did, due to her age.

"We now have word from our affiliate stations that Starfleet suspects notorious master hacker 'Packet-Storm', also known as Kayla Ackart, to be the hacker of Deltastar Bank. She was reported missing from her penit-", the same reporter from before cut back onto the air to continue reporting, releasing his new information. Emily spoke above him, not wishing to at all hear this.

"Ninne, turn that thing off", Emily promptly ordered, turning her head away from the holo. At the first tiny sound of objection, the penitatas mother cut off the drake before she could let out one word. "Off - now!", she ordered much more sternly, causing quite the rapid compliance from Ninne. You did not mess with an angry penitatas parent if you wished to be able to sit down. Not to mention with tomorrow being Christmas, she wanted an unsore tail to start the day with.

"I trusted you..", Ninne growled harshly to herself, crying silently without any sniffs or sobs. A tear rolled down her cheek, which she wiped off briskly, staring down at the carpet where she sat. When you look up to someone and adore who they are so deeply, only to find out they were a heartless criminal.. hurt even the closest of family and friends. None of them wanted to think of their Kayla as a bad person, but could not help but feel hurt and betrayed. Love was not something easily thrown around; it was something they all held sacred. Kayla was the closest friend Ninne ever had, and she trusted each word out of her muzzle, right down to her oaths of ceasing her life as a hacker.

"It looks bad, but let Kayla have her due process. If she is guilty, then so be it..", Alex finally thought through, finishing his sentence with a light nod, as if he was agreeing with himself. Their emotions were high and so was their pain - but they had to suck it up for now. He uncrossed his arms and reached around his wife to give her a hug. The sudden action from behind startled Emily, but as soon as his arms wraped around her, she let out a relieving sob. Alex's hands stroked his wife's own, brushing his fingers through Melissa's fake fur.. oh how did it remind them both of their lost family member. Be it comforting cuddles or painful swats, they would deal both, together - for their daughter's sake.

"Are you going to be okay sweetie?", Ki'rene lowered her neck down a lot to ask Ninne, whom looked like she was still pouting where she sat. Not wanting to sound teary, Ninne replied with nothing more then a simple nod of her head. That's when a thought crossed her mind. One big enough that made her scramble to her footclaws, and break a penitatas rule of conduct they all followed the day before Christmas. She'd risk aggrivating a penitatas parent, again.

"I'm sorry to interrupt miss Emily, but I need to talk to you. There is something in Kayla's room I want to show you", Ninne announced loud enough to be clearly understood, running to the base of the stairs to wait for all of the parent's reaction. A risky maneuver. Much to her surprise, her mother didn't look that angry, and nor did Emily or Alex. Emily could tell what Ninne had to say was important enough since she looked so eager to tell, walking towards the stairs to follow the young penitatas. Ninne lead her upstairs, running into Kayla's room to wait for Emily, whom was only a few paces behind.

"What did you need to tell me Ninne?", Emily asked with the residual sound of tears in her voice, curious as to why she was asked up here. Not like she wasn't in this room all the time. Her teary voice was fine though, Ninne's voice had the same sound to it too she soon realised.

"Here..", she said quietly, stepping her footclaws to Kayla's desk, pulling open the second drawer on the side. Inside the drawer was a pile of old school work, looking like Ninne was thumbing through it. What she pulled out from the pile was not school work, but a folder. Looking at the cover, she was convinced she had the right one, holding it out and up to Emily. "This is Kayla's private stuff. Even I don't get to look at it.. but you should. Kayla would be really mad I showed where this was hidden. This holds things she thinks are important, like a time capsule would", she explained while the older human took Kayla's keepsake from her claw. Mad at Kayla or not, she figured that folder was still not her's to read. It would help a mother's grief instead.

"I have been looking for something like this since Kayla disappeared! Thank you Ninne!", Emily exclaimed with actual joy, kneeling down just slightly to hug the reptile around her chest and torso. Ninne did not expect that sort of reaction, and would have blushed if her scales actually did that. She smiled and hugged her back, minding her claws so she would not cut the softer human by accident. The mother had wanted some things to look at that would remind her of the good times, not being reminded of her daughter by a corner or paddle, or by the mountains of data chips she occationally leaves around.

"Welcome!", Ninne said out of pure good feelings. After saying such bad things about Emily earlier, she needed to make things better. It was easy to see how much she cared, being here to see her tears. Emily's arms released the nine year old drake, with Melissa in one hand, and the folder in the other, keeping leaned in to give Ninne a kiss on the end of her snout, between her nostrils.

"You're a good girl, you know that?", Emily complimented out of appreciation, finally smiling a whole lot. "I hope the Corrections Council is fair to you tomorrow", she then wished, knowing it had to be on Ninne's mind. It certainly was. Emily swore to make at least one penitatas feel like others know the pain they suffer through, and care about them, so that they are not forgotten. Was the least she could do in Kayla's name.

"That means more then you'll ever know..", Ninne replied, though she sounded somber once again. It was still a painful subject. She padded herself from Emily, towards the door before turning her neck. "I'll let you see all the stuff Kayla made", she said before she left to give the mother the quiet time she needed. Emily sat herself down on the end of her daughter's bed, tucking Melissa into her lap prior to opening the folder. Ninne was right, this was Kayla's personal keepsakes. All sorts of cute drawings of things; showing her child's curiosity. What caught her eye more were things Kayla had written that looked like loose pages of her feelings. On the right side of the folder, there was one up front, a newer page in particular.

"I was made a penitatas for my wrongs; wrongs that are very obviously still there... I choose not to be a hacker, even if the road to bettering myself is paved with pain, tears, and every implement of spanking imaginable. All of you I ever harmed.. I am very sorry..", Emily read aloud bits of Kayla's writing to that really struck her. It was like reading the feelings inside of her girl's mind, seeing what she thought of herself and what she used to be. It actually made her stomach turn.. this was not an old sheet of paper. She swore these things recently, which made Emily even more weary as to what may have happened to her daughter. "Kayla.. be safe..", Emily whispered out of worry, still so uncertain of what has really happened to her furry blessing.

* * * *

There was nothing Kayla could do all Christmas Eve, having no friends or toys around. At the moment, she was not concidering that large computer to be much of a toy, though she would under different circumstances. The fox never left the dirt ground she crawled onto earlier in the day, deciding she'd rather be absolutely filthy then up about with her captors after what they forced her to do. The numbness and pain in her paws from working at such speeds died down after a good bit of time, as she slept lightly every short bit. Right now she only stared at her dirt coated paws, thinking about what she had done to Deltastar and the consequences that most likely followed. Soon enough, she'd be back home to take them. The poor girl had not even been fed or offered water, leaving her more miserable then she would have been otherwise. Maxwell and Tyson must have forgotten to take care of their dog, being so busy loading their pockets with money. Kayla just did not want to move an inch, even to frown.

"Come on up Kayla. We'd like for you to preform another job now", she heard Maxwell instruct her from across the room. She groaned unhappily, before grudgingly pushing herself up to climb to her footpaws. It would get her home.

"What do you want now?", Kayla asked with irritation in her voice, even if she walked right to his side to comply as asked. She did not wish another incident like before. Maxwell placed his hand on the corner of the terminal while he thought about her question.. he was not sure what to have the hacker do this time.

"Are there anymore banks you're familiar with?", he decided to ask her, not knowing if she had previous experience with any other banking system. When she had prior experience, it was safer and gave them the upper-hand. Kayla stepped around to the other side of the terminal, stopping beside the chair to look up at him and shake her head.

"It is still too dangerous. Those institutions will be protecting themselves more actively, with other people already searching for my connection on a bank service", Kayla gave as her response, even though she dodged the question. The sly fox might have known a few more financial institutions, but she was not going to tell them that. The part about such a job being too dangerous still was honest anyhow. Tyson didn't care for that answer, no matter how logical it sounded. Logical wasn't profitable.

"Then break into something more valuable then a bank, girl!", Tyson shouted, being as intimidative as he could; as usual. Kayla turned her head to give him a glare, till she found him standing only behind her. Wasn't about to anger him within smacking distance when he was this angry. She knew she had a big mouth, but she was smart enough to know when to keep quiet and keep her eyes off of the violent man hovering above her much smaller body. "You seem to be able to get into anything, so I want something better then that bank", he grinned cruely, grasping Kayla's left upper-arm, making her wince in fear. It felt like her blood halted as his very touch.

"Some people can pay us a lot of money for information", Maxwell was quick to suggest, with a note of excitement. Tyson looked up from the fox he was scaring, giving Maxwell a look of thought before something very rare happened. He got an idea - a good one.

"Alright dog, listen up!", Tyson ordered sharply, squeezing Kayla's delicate arm and pulling her upwards by it. Kayla let out a small whimper of fright, keeping her eyes clenched shut while keeping her head down. Her toes did their best to keep her weight supported on the ground while being held up like that, but the soft dirt was not going to be cooperative. "You're going to break into Starfleet's main computer system and get us everything they have, right down to prototype weapons!", he yelled hard down to her, making sure she'd comply with him. Tyson looked up again, grinning to Maxwell with a look that said, 'I thought of something damned good!'. Kayla could not have heard anything more terrifying, opening her eyes wide and suddenly finding herself unable to breathe. As soon as she could, the young fox let out a scream, fighting to escape Tyson's grasp with wild kicks of her legs and bucks of her body.

"No! It's impossible, I don't have the ability!", Kayla howled, shaking and trying to fight free hard enough to knock the chair beside her over. Tyson tightened his grip for only a moment, just to use it to throw Kayla forewards against the terminal. She fell and hit the front of it with a loud sound, hitting her lower back hard against the metal. Not even letting her up, Tyson got down onto his knees and grabbed Kayla by the headfur, slamming her head backwards into the metal casing again when she tried to get on her paws and knees. A sharp yelp of pain rang out, and as soon as she opened her eyes again, she found the emitter of a phaser pressed right between her eyes, with her head pinned against the lower front of the terminal. The sight made her cry, sobbing freely in Tyson's grasp, reguardless if it made her seem weak.

"Fuck you and fuck your ability! I told you what you're going to do, and you're going to do it! You care about that goddamn family of your's? I'll kill each one of them, slow..", Tyson taunted her right in her face, slowing down his words to savor the part about murdering Kayla's family, to chill the fox's blood. Feeling as if she'd vomit, the fox didn't even reply. As soon as she was released with a harsh shove by the violent man, she climbed into her chair as Maxwell stood it back up, to commit another terrible crime. She would do anything to ensure her family was not harmed. To prove her compliance, Kayla's nimble paws hit several keys on the terminal, readying all the windows and monitoring programs she had used to break into Deltastar. Tears left her eyes, even in her silent, fearful acceptance of what she had been very physically ordered. Her head throbbed hard, with the new whack to it inflaming the two major blows already inflicted. The wound on the back of her head even opened back up slightly, letting out a small amount of blood. She did not want to do this.. the day she was arrested brought her deep emotional torture, leaving her deathly afraid of that computer system; the only one she failed in hacking.

"You guys don't understand..", Kayla sobbed, trying to keep from crying hard, to not further upset her head's wounds. Her watery eyes looked into the central screen of the terminal, remembering her fateful day. "Starfleet Headquarters is how I was caught! Deltastar is fucking child's-play compared to the Federation military!", she turned her head and snapped in Maxwell's direction, somewhat hoping he would step up and defend her. Concidering Kayla had reached the end of her usefulness, Maxwell had no more need to play his false mind games.

"Do what he says Kayla. Get all of the files you can, and don't screw up", Maxwell dropped his tone and expression to say, sounding much more dire and threatening then he had ever spoken to her. It made the last bit of her heart sink, making her realise she was in deeper hot water then she first believed. Made her wish they'd rape her and leave her like everyone else used to; it would be a lot less painful.

"Let's add an incentive. If you screw up, you die!", Tyson then added immidiately after from Kayla's left, pointing his phaser directly at her and keeping it there with his finger on the weapon's firing button. The emitter trailed around, from her neck, to her head, to her back.. leaving the fox as scared as she could be, not knowing where she could be shot the moment something went wrong. Kayla would have wet her panties and jeans if all the muscles in her body were not so tightly clenched. Again she was left with no alternative - hack into Starfleet or have herself and her family die. Neither man had any decency left in them, further tainted by the greed brought on from all their fortunes. Now they wanted more then money, they wanted the power and pristege that came with being wealthy! The horrified little girl's cries and pleas meant nothing to them, and in the case of Tyson, made him feel even more alive. He could smell the blood seeping from the back of her head, moistening the hard, crusted fur. He loved it, causing so much harm to such a meaningless life.

"I.. I'll start now..", Kayla tearfully assured, taking her soiled paws from the terminal keys to wipe her eyes. Her face was already coated in dirt, so getting it dirtier was not going to happen, reguardless of the amount of dirt in her paw's fur. She let out one final whimper, a tiny, foxy wish for things to go well. Everyone she cared about depended on it, including herself. The two paws settled onto the terminal once more, with Kayla taking one last deep breath as she always did.. till her paws burst into sudden frenzy, bringing all three screens to life once again, full of windows and data. Ethics and morals told her this was the worst thing her paws could be doing, so Kayla had to whisper encouraging thoughts to herself in her mind. That it was not her choice, nor her fault. It took a lot of convincing to keep down the urge to howl and run, to keep her focus as she attempted to establish a connection with Starfleet Headquarters' network. Not even that was possible under normal circumstances - she'd have to use brute force programs to get in. No stealth or bypassing. One she kicked down the door there would be no turning back either. Unlike Deltastar, trying to dump her connection, Starfleet's main system would force her connection to stay live. It will fight back and wall up each portion of it's shell commands and file system, to keep itself safe while it traced and disabled it's attacker. Technicians on the other end would also not be away from their stations sipping coffee.. but she had to try. She had to live! A notion in the back of her head added a foul taste to her muzzle as well. She also wanted to take on this server, once and for all. One last time..

"C'mon Kayla!", Maxwell rushed the fox as she did her work, since the screens looked like she was getting no where. Damned idiots just did not understand the work she was doing, and she decided to ignore him and finish her login procedure. All of her windows were green and on standby, with all of her attacks pre-programmed to force her entry. They needed to off at once. And, they did. With one final keystroke, all of Kayla's programmed commands executed at maximum system priority, operating in sync with eachother to send a hellstorm of damaging packets and service attacks at certain sectors of Starfleet HQ. That was the same moment the terminal made many loud and frantic alarms and klaxons, with all of her monitoring programs flicking to red in color. Progress bars and route monitors littered the fox's left monitor, and even her right, showing the amount of things she had to watch and anticipate. Kayla started off looking straight faced and focused, but her usual demeanor was fading fast. Her paws needed to work faster then they normally could, despite how fast they were. Trying to defend herself against being attacked by the Starfleet system and get inside of it was a horrible process. Her primary windows were becoming loaded with error messages and critical-stops, as the system resisted Kayla's attempts to access it's filesystem directly. One thing she learned from the first attempt two years ago, was that the tracers were merciless devices and programs. They changed their connection boucing path just as Kayla did her's, making it difficult to terminate their connections. Station by station, they would follow the line right back to you. The first time she tried to stop them with conventional means, and she knew better now. Confusing them with interferance to slow them down slightly, then halting their connection at a bouncing station. It meant she had to hack several different servers at once, to be able to drop tracer connections. Sweat was growing under the fox's fur as she frantically tried to stay ahead of the military-class electronics warfare defensive structure. Tears even found time to roll down her cheeks at knowing what she was doing. Last time she had gotten traced by now, and she was holding her own this time, though barely. Kayla had a firewall and port-spoofing router to get past before she could touch any files, and her only means of stopping them was flooding them with improper codes and security exploits, hoping to disable them so she could slip inside. The strain needed to calculate each tactic and defense with her paws was unbearable; her young muscles could not handle it.

"I'm still trying!", Kayla suddenly said in a sharp panic, knowing she must look like she's not doing so well at the moment with all the red flashing windows and unflattering flying bits of code that were more from the Starfleet system than her own. It was much bigger, it would do that. No matter what she tried, her packets never entered the firewall. The port-spoofing router was making false open ports, only to catch the packets and dump it back into the attacker's line to slow down their transmission speeds. That's when it hit her. Let the router do that! Racing her small paws across the terminal keys, she opened a new window on her right screen, showing the status of a command she set to re-run constantly. She told her system to look for her firewall assault packets on the return line, and re-transmit them rapidly across multiple ports. A dark little smirk crept across Kayla's muzzle at her genious, finding some of her commands making it into the firewall. The fox stopped her focus on the router and kept her paws busy with the firewall attack and the tracer de-routing.. which ended up becoming her next big problem. The electronic 'clog' she caused with the router freed itself when the device suddenly shut down and came back online, routing Kayla's new attack packets differently while the tracers suddenly got more aggressive. Kayla let out a small gasp of trepidation, finding herself cornered as quickly as she had turned the tide on the Starfleet HQ system. The technicians made themselves alarmingly present, maintaining their system's integrity and letting it do most of the work. Her paws shifted to complete defense, trying to re-route everything being thrown at her connection. Several monitors let out a long sound, freezing up as they stopped running and crashed from the Starfleet system's counter attacks, and her own re-directed disabling packets. More tracer connections appeared across too many servers for Kayla to follow and interrupt. Her once decent dive turned sour. With one final alarm of defeat, Kayla's screens flickered and became distorted, with most of her programs crashing and freezing up even as she fought on her primary window to keep her connection masked and retake the upper-hand.

"Shit!", exclaimed both men within a fraction of a second of themselves, sounding a lot more then just paniced. Kayla did not even hear it in her rush. They were frantic, able to see Kayla's trace-route monitor grow so close to their position before even that monitor hit improper codes and collapsed. Kayla was leaned in close to her keyboard and central screen, fighting with her main window to the last woman or machine. More and more errors and failures were flooding her primary window as her computer's core completely failed. The only thing that snapped the fox out of her fearful, fighting trace was a loud clap and metalic sounding explosion, snapping her eyes from her screen and feeling as if she had taken a blow she had flinched and gasped so hard. Her frozen eyes saw the remanants of a phaser beam, hitting the midsection of the terminal ahead of her, below the other devices, as sparks, flame, and parts launched violently through the air and the screens went out. Even as an Aspatrian she had no time to react - after seeing the bright blast, another phaser emission filled her single ear and a hot and painful beam slammed her hard in the back. The fox's pupils shrunk that instant as the sensation filled her body and the force of the blast launched her foreward in her leaned-over position. Her muzzle and face smacked into her central monitor with brutal force, bouncing violently backwards off of it to fall to the dirt on her front like a rag doll. Her ear was quiet. There was no movement. Silence. Nothing. Just a charred back of her shirt, black around the edges of the hole, and a clamantly bleeding wound in the upper-left side of her back. Fur and skin burned or vaporized by the weapon, leaving nothing but missing flesh. The blood flowed neatly down her sides like waterfalls, with a trickle dripping out of her muzzle as it laid stiff against the dirt, opened slightly. All she remembered was up to the phaser blast to her young form, already being gone from consciousness as soon as she slamed into the terminal before falling. There was nothing more. For now, only black. Tyson's weapon was not set to stun.

'I'm sorry mommy.. maybe I'm not coming home afterall..'