Kayla: Good Intentions
In the 28th century, the technology of rejuvenation allows for immortality. While this device is used for sentencing criminals to start a highly strict and disciplined life anew, being paroled; a Completatas; was like starting anew again.
(Story Sixty)
Concept by Lurking Dragon
Kayla and story by Professor Bob

Getting to sit on the front stoop of her house felt strange and liberating when Penitatas were generally reserved to only going to their backyard with their parent’s explicit permission. Seat of one of her more faded pairs of jeans against the sandy, rough step with her data-pad in her paw, Kayla sang some of her favorite old songs to herself while she waited for a package delivery that late afternoon after school; another empty mug of strawberry milk from the replicator at her side, as her new favorite drink as a free eight year old. Able to track purchased shipments in real-time with her pad, it was just a matter of occupying herself until that little dot on the map reached her house, getting to soak in a little bit of sun from one of Calleet’s more unusually cloudless days. The single-lane landing strip of their street was unoccupied without any another child to be seen, as silent as a Penitatas district tended to be unless someone was a heavy crier to be heard bellowing off the fences from their backyard. Bushy Aspatrian tail in one of it’s idle sways upon the step, sweeping grit, the young girl waited in upbeat anticipation, as she had been all day.

Kayla’s third day back to Calleet Elementary coming to pass, she was still adjusting to what the life of a Completatas would be like when still surrounded by the friends she had made, and those whom had participated in her discipline in the past. In making sure that she would still have structure and people to care for her after having served such a short sentence as a hard time Penitatas, Emily specifically requested the school keep her in a Penitatas class until she left elementary school; almost as if she was a soft time Penitatas in a way, to ease and taper her life toward becoming more akin to a Voluntarus in social stature. Going straight from hard time into a whole new world just to get into trouble wasn’t what she, nor Judge Kharsen would have wanted, trusted to help this special little Aspatrian find her way back to being a good woman. Smoothing the transition with that short leash had its perks, turning the Penitatas’ Ethics and Morals class into a free period for Jacob and her to share together, with the apparent downside of there always being a dose of professionally applied welts available, should she come to earn it.

It was familiar yet unnerving to be in front of Miss Chester once more, but the only thing she had to go to the front of the class for was to be thanked for her service to Earth, and congratulated on her earned parole. While positive, it was still awkward, taking to being a heroine as good as Jacob did being a hero – everyone she had come to know all saying “thank you Kayla” in unison with their small young voices at their teacher’s direction. And, when the traditional welcome spanking for the hard timers began after, Kayla had to experience what it felt like to remain in her seat. While she’d always prefer to keep her pants up her legs rather than down, Kayla’s empathy and camaraderie with her fellow Penitatas made it feel so strange to not be standing against the wall with them… like she was cheating, silver ‘C’s or not. Ninne and Anne only had each other to stand beside, hips speckled red. It took the banter of her lunchroom table friends to remind her that they’d always get over it, and that they were happy for her and all that she had come to do. Anthony begged to be told the entire DeltaStar story and what Velius was like, smitten as a fanboy when it came down to what he saw as an epic duel of hackers, but when it came to the more recent parts of her life, Jacob made quite the face and seemed insistent with his sharp body language that she not spew what her first job paid her. She didn’t get why, assuming that it might have been one of those social rudeness things she didn’t get just yet. He said it was a lot of federation credits, why wouldn’t she want to share that?

Further bolstering that bank account, Starfleet Command made a proposal to the new Ackart Enterprises in wake of DeltaStar’s success, acting upon what they said they wanted as far back as her time walking their headquarters’ pathways. Lieutenant Blaine Brayden became her official liaison to Starfleet on a more permanent basis as their upper brass enlisted her as a consultant on strengthening the communications and command protocols for the planetary defense platform network. Unlike DeltaStar, it wasn’t the sort of work she could do alone with so much of it being classified, and the scope of the project looking to span a time period of months as a subject matter expert on call; assisting, rather than taking over. Kayla was more than okay with that as hard as it was to get her eight year old mind to work so many hours straight on her first job, depriving herself willingly of friends and play, especially with school and homework to worry about now. Her work could be like a hobby, as it always was. It was the closest she could get to being a part of Starfleet without putting a pin on her neck, and she liked it that way. At least she could share pictures and blurbs with some of those she came to meet, like Commander Santorae and the young Medicalos she met, Za`kira, in branching off into a new network of people through the freedom of her console and data-pad. The budding social butterfly even got to say ‘hi’ to Blaine’s Kindern daughter over a video line. ‘Cute puppy!’, she said, the adorable thing.

But as that red dot on her map application drew near, Kayla flicked her ears twice, pivoting them with an auditory scan of the sky. A mid-sized white quad-copter delegated to its own low-altitude airway came over the rooftops of their punitive suburbia, prompting the girl to get back to her bare foxy toes out of excitement; some dust tossed from her tail its flowing movement.

I’ve never gotten to be out here for deliveries before! This thing is so cool!”, Kayla spoke to herself in regard to the swept look of the drone copter and the box carried beneath it, coming overhead to begin drop-off procedures.

Lights blinking to signify intent to drop altitude for potential passing vehicles in manual flight mode, the drone swept downward and lowered its cargo to the front walkway just in front of the waiting individual it could detect, keeping some distance for her safety. Partly shrouded blades spinning with a loud whining whir, kicking longer strands of fur about, Kayla crossed her arms over the chest of her mottled gray t-shirt, turning her ears away to muffle the sound.

You know, did I ever hack any of these?”, the fox wondered aloud in her candid nature while alone, as the drone released her package with a dull, cardboard thump and spooled its electric motors to a shrill grind.

Watching the automated device dart back toward the lanes of hover-cars sailing above, Kayla did recall getting into some shipping company computer systems in her reign as Packet-Storm. It made her imagine a quad-copter like the one flying back the way it came, shattered upside-down on someone’s roof with its payload strewn about their neighbor’s yard. And then multiplied hundredfold, across a few separate cities. That happy face looked a little guiltier in that moment, crooking the ends of her maw. Of course she hacked the things – what didn’t she, really.

Oh well, she paid for it as a Penitatas in spades, and now into the future with her court ordered reparations. She could make things right, and her gleefully-anticipated mission today was going to be a nice start to righting some of those wrongs. With her own two paws and the fruit of her labor, at that – like a real grown little lady again! All on her own and with a thoughtful sentiment, Kayla wanted to deliver that ‘thank you’ to the people she was the closest to on her life’s new beginning, just as she told Jacob she hoped to do.

As a certain pair’s furry daughter, she had some old Penitatas apologies to make up for, and to simply let them know how much they were loved and appreciated.

Oh ma’-oooom. I have something here – for – you.”, Kayla’s young voice danced playfully about its pitches and tempo as she walked in the front door with the brown box in her arms, data-pad and glossy black replicated mug balanced upon it.

Seated on the living room sofa watching the holo-programs that would come on before the evening news, Emily turned her head and lifted a surprised brow at the sight of Kayla carrying that box; being mindful of her tail when she bumped the front door’s controls with her elbow to close it. Remote in her hand, she gave its mute button a tap to hush the holovision at Kayla’s energetic scamper of her feet to join her on the carpet in front of her. Now that she wasn’t a Penitatas and could be a bit louder without getting into trouble, the young girl seemed less reserved over letting out some of her more “eight year old” bouts of excitement, as ecstatic as she could make herself in exploring the new bits of her world that she could. She still was mindful of rules, but the old smile that Kayla Ackart the Penitatas carried quietly about her became a more vibrant, expressive sort of thing at times now that a little “well-behaved rowdiness” from her muzzle wouldn’t risk her getting punished as a Completatas.

What’s all this? Is that what you were waiting out there for?”, Emily asked with a lighter note of bewilderment, not having been expecting anything to be coming. That amusing and happy voice of Kayla’s at least tickled her, setting the remote down to give the fox an audience; casually dressed the same as her, but the sort to wear more feminine pants then denim every day. Her pony-tail having gotten longer since she first tied it during their vacation, it shifted against her back with a turn of her head, following Kayla’s own towards the stairs at their side.

Hey dad, could you come down? I have something I want to give you!”, the sunny Aspatrian stuck to less silly tones to call the fatherly figure in her life, sending her voice up the stairs – something that would have gotten her in big trouble not long ago. It wasn’t a misbehavior any longer unless she was actually rude in some way; that sprinkling of freedom of speech that Kayla had been so keen to enjoy like most other rejuves, letting her be her natural self. That brighter sunshine from her orange fur had been typical of Kayla since her parole day, even when she was working her tail off as the software engineer she was under that young facade of her physical age.

Coming!”, Alex called back from down the upstairs hallway, muffled, having only just gotten home from work shortly ago that Wednesday afternoon.

With her plan coming together, feeling a little grown from having gotten to spend her first federation credits, Kayla moved her thin tablet and mug aside and settled down comfortably onto her knees, sitting upon her footpaws. With a quick poke of her right index finger’s claw into the tape atop the box, she began dragging it along to cut it open. It not being too sharp didn’t help matters, getting hung up a lot, but it was sure easier than trying to find something to properly cut it with when any sort of blade was locked away out of reach for her.

I got you guys both a little something. Actual presents! I’ve never been able to gift something besides a software program, and I wanted to say thank you for everything you’ve done for me since giving me a home. I want to be a better daughter than I was a Penitatas, and want to make up for all the times I had to say ‘I’m sorry’ for the bad stuff I gave you such a headache with.”, Kayla spoke warmly under a pair of pert vulpine ears, prideful and sanguine in getting to do something special.

Wrenching the top flap of the box with both her paws once she could slip her fingers and thumbs in there, tugging to break the last of the top free, having her eyes down upon her work didn’t allow her to see a sudden slap of worry fall upon Emily’s face. She didn’t act upon it for a moment, getting a sort of dread in her stomach that she didn’t want to pounce the fox with, as cheerful as she was. If the box came directly from Kayla’s own ordering, she would have known about it. She had to have.

Kayla honey.”, the mother swallowed before speaking, trying to ensure that concern that fell over her wouldn’t make her voice shake; watching Kayla dutifully try to get into the box on her own “like a big girl”, no matter how much she had to fight with it using her claws, like the whole affair was just supposed to be part of the fun, or her gift to them.

Are you meaning to say you bought these? How did you do that?”, Emily probed with apprehensive caution, tucking her hands into her lap. She needed to find out where this box came from, struck with a deeply parental sort of worry for Kayla’s sake.

As even Jacob had noted on the night he treated all of them at their favorite steakhouse, rejuvenated children do not have free access to their bank account for purchasing things. A parent can permit a transaction to go through in person with use of their authorization pin, something the rejuve would not have, or if they were not with the child at the time, an authorization request could be pinged to them on any of their devices for approval or denial – still, even then, with their authorization pin. Once the Karrian had stuffed them all as generously as he could, it was Ki`rene to finalize Jacob paying the bill from her data-pad at home, given his parental authorization pin by the courthouse in the legal passing of banking guardianship duty. It was for their own protection, and a particularly serious regulation.

For Emily to have not known Kayla bought presents, meant that she did not authorize the transaction – a heinous misdeed for any rejuve, should the origin of the fox’s gifts be from her own bank account.

I have my ways.”, the still-fresh Completatas casually dismissed in her jovial attitude, with not a single hint of guilt in her voice or dip of her ears to suggest she had done anything improper, paired with a quick wave of her right paw. It was enough to bring Emily pause, not being at all an answer to her question, but she would have expected Kayla to make some sort of note of discomfort if she thought she might have done something wrong. At the end of the day she was a trustworthy little thing, regardless of the things she needed to try and hide from her during her time as a Penitatas; Ki`rene being a good persuader in court on that subject, understanding as she was.

But as she wondered what exactly Kayla had been up to, the awfully perky fox had rummaged through the contents of her delivery and pulled a hand-sized, velvet purple clam-shell into her paws. Cracking it to take a peek, hiding what was inside with the way she held it, her ears took a happy backward flick as if pleased with herself; the box snapping closed with a clap. Considering even the container itself was flashy, it brought a different sort of curiosity to Emily as the sound of footfalls against the stairs began thumping out of sight. Kayla rolled off of her knees and bounced back to her bare feet, ruffling the ankles of her jeans in her quick little movement with the present clutched to her chest.

This one is yours.”, Kayla declared in her steps around the synthetic cardboard box, sharing her excitement through her voice, and the calm sort of way she could be quick on her feet and still have a soft manner of doing things. Smiling from one black-tipped ear to the other, the eight year old Aspatrian went right up to the sofa and Emily’s seat, taking a spot in front of her just as Alex finished coming down the stairs to join them. Perfect timing – she wanted them both here for the whole thing! She paused for a moment, as if trying to think of what she wanted to say, lightening the way her eyes looked to her mother’s face.

You’re the only mom I’ve ever had. Thank you for being a good one.”, that small voice of Kayla’s spoke a simple sentiment that held her prior warmth, even if she seemed a little stiffer and shyer from saying such a thing. Ears relenting their perk to bend faintly, she held out the fuzzy violet clam-shell box with both her paws, offering what she was ever so elated to find on her late-night flip through her data-pad.

The words being so sweet, it broke through Emily’s worry to allow her to smile honestly for Kayla. Being a ‘penny parent was never easy, and even harder to bond with the ones they inflicted so much pain upon. The number of times she made Kayla cry, burp soap fumes from her stomach, or simply made her miserable through the enforcement of Penitatas rules was uncountable; never really stopping at any time during a hard timer’s sentence. To be told she was a good mom, despite the issues she and Kayla had, was so considerate and heartwarming that a part of Emily couldn’t help but just melt and be so happy that poor old hacker was paroled – just as she did truly hope. She didn’t need the justice department to guide those talented paws, especially as well as the wayward fox learned her lessons. Even if the Packet-Storm of old was unfairly and brutally punished after her own kidnapping, Emily forced to do so with her own hands by those who held her license, perhaps Kayla was thankful how that all turned out in the end. Such a furry blessing, that one. The human woman’s fair hands taking the soft box, placing her eyes upon it to see what she was being given, Kayla put her paws behind her back in anticipation for her reaction.

I hope you remember it.”, the fox added with a quiet mention, as if hinting to what it was.

As Alex sort of cocked his head and crossed his arms curiously, not certain to what he walked downstairs into with this box full of varied items on the floor, Emily’s thumb pressed on the clam-shell to pop it open. A glint crossing her eyes from the sunlight coming in through the windows from their aging afternoon, the sparkle was as golden and orange as the sun itself, with something larger and even more eye-catching than that in the center. Before she could so much as truly absorb what she was holding, the mother’s face pulled toward her cheeks gawkily – dumbstruck, frightened, and unworthy in the same jarring emotional bolt that went from her brain to her heart, clamping everything right down to her toes.

Oh – fuck me.”, Emily fixated on what was in her hands, voice tightened and knocked so far off her normal mannerisms; wobbling as if the air didn’t so much as want to leave her mouth. It was all too telling, and delivered in the kindest of horrific shocks.

A gold women’s necklace. Its chain ornate, swirling and intricate with inlaid speckles of diamond, and a dangling gem at it’s lowest half. A brilliant blue sapphire almost as long as her thumb, surrounded by an embrace of further cut diamonds and fine gold wire clutching beneath it all. It was incredibly real, and she even knew what it cost. Before last Christmas, when she had gone to the Calleet Mall with Kayla to look around for gift ideas for her own parents, she had passed by one of the jewelry stores and stopped to look at that necklace sitting in a front display as one of their top-end items. She had said the sapphire looked so pretty, and wished she could have something like that. The only reason she could remember it so clearly, was because of what else happened that day, not even thirty minutes later. It was when she was being harsh with Kayla, and the fox in turn pushing back; both of them going through a phase that cycled back to the other, not getting along very well. Their relationship strained and Kayla so weary of being a Penitatas, facing down another Christmas, she publicly spanked her with a belt that day, and very harshly. Even though she felt like she was being dragged around on a leash, and she was that hard on her, Kayla… still cared to remember what she said, and the exact necklace? That was important to her, on a sad day like that? Kayla didn’t even like jewelry – she was bored out of her mind!

I hope that was a happy swear.”, Kayla folded her ears back with a quick giggle, as unfathomably rare as it was for her mother to say such a thing. She knew she’d love it, she already said she did before! The sway of her tail was utterly clueless, but Emily knew there was only one bank account this sort of thing could have come from, and it made her nauseous and shaken, unable to right away speak as Alex stared, out of the loop. All those delicate cuts of stone, shimmering right in her hands.

Honey… this is a twenty two thousand credit necklace.”, Emily had to force from her mouth, both honored to the moon as well as outright uncomfortable in knowing something truly bad happened under her nose, and even Kayla herself appeared none the wiser to what she likely did. She had no idea how, but…

A smiling muzzle scooted forward on the carpet, leaning on a single paw to give her a kiss on the cheek; the mother’s expression just looking shocked, and leaving Kayla none the wiser to the gauntlet of worries and calculations flooding Emily’s mind.

The numbers mean so little to me. As long as you like it, I’m happy. Want some help getting it on?”, Kayla followed up her mother’s shaken notions with, wiggling her little vulpine digits to show off that she’d be dexterous enough even at her age to get such a fine clasp settled upon the back of her neck. Though the cost didn’t bother the fox in the slightest, it was her father that ended up balking, looking as if he’d turn white. Well, more-so than the office worker sort of man he was already.

No-no, that’s okay Kayla. It was incredibly thoughtful of you to do such a thing, thinking of getting gifts as the first thing you’d do after making your first credit. I know you didn’t have to do that. Never thought I’d actually hold it… I do love it.”, Emily restored some of her smile in following her daughter’s sentimentality, closing the clam-shell in her hands to remove the lustrous shimmer of gold and precious stone from her sight for a moment – wanting to leave the necklace alone and protect it from any harm. The fox not grasping what she had done, but obviously an act of actual familial love, there was no reason to hurt her feelings abruptly in the middle of her trying to be generous and kind. She could calmly correct this once Kayla had done as she needed, and said her pieces.

However, it was Alex who’s oddly curled facial expression parted it’s lips, to interrupt in more disquieted surprise.

How could you approve such a thing? Letting Kayla buy something like that?”, the man sounded outright perturbed, disappointed that his wife would permit Kayla to purchase something so lavish; as if taking advantage of the large sum of money the diligent and valuable Aspatrian made for herself. It was Alex that helped her with the business and secured that account’s funds, teaching her responsibility and ethic, but it was no secret that the little once-hermit stepped forth into society with her paws on a fairly high rung.

It brought Emily’s pony tail to bounce in a sharper turn of her head, wanting to assure she had no part in it, but a muzzle that had no idea of its trespass stood in for her – and so happily too.

Oh, that was all me. Mom had no idea.”, Kayla actually snickered, taking on one of her more playful of sly faces as a vulpine girl; whiskers and ears accentuating her Aspatrian physique. That, slapped Alex with the same painful pang of tension that first hit Emily.

I wanted this to be a total surprise, and I could do it without letting her know. You’re going to be just as happy as mom with what I got ya’ dad!”, that chipper fox glowed, slapping her paws back together like she was ready to move on to his present next.

Excuse me?”, rolled out of Alex’s mouth roughly, sounding so out of tone with the room and how Emily had been, it seemed to make Kayla flinch in its loud, parental tone. It served to stiffen Emily as well, gritting her teeth in knowing she wouldn’t be able to keep this happy for Kayla for long if her husband was going to take that sort of stance.

What?”, Kayla asked cautiously, leaving those paws of hers’ against the gray cotton of her chest; eyes a little less wide, and particularly questioning considering Alex’s words suggested she said something wrong. Come on, mom was the one that swore, she was pretty sure she didn’t let anything of her own out of her mouth.

Do you know my authorization pin for your bank account?”, Emily spoke up wearily, settling the purple velvet shell into her lap to lean forward and ask calmly. This answer she knew, as much as it hurt her to imagine her sunny, furred girl having done something so bad to herself and not even known. She expected a longer, more awkward silence, but as the ex-Penitatas tended to do, she admitted her mistake willingly, even as the error began to make itself apparent to her.

Five, zero, three, zero.”, the walking calculator and memory absorption device that was Kayla Ackart said with an odd tone to her voice, making even the numbers themselves sound like she was questioning still what she may have done. Sure the code wasn’t her own, but the trove of credits she earned was, and it was just a one time thing. Kayla didn’t think anyone would care – surely there wasn’t an issue with what she bought, and they’d approve and love what she picked out.

I pick up passwords and pins by watching hands, and listening to taps.”, she tried to smile a little more to explain, wanting them to know it was one of her more perceptive little habits in putting her acute Aspatrian hearing and her knack for reading human body language together. Knowing data-pad key layouts, she could decipher what people typed even without seeing the screen, and she got to learn her own authorization pin that way, just by being nearby. That little trick let her make this a surprise.

Emily sighed, lowering her face into a waiting hand, feeling ever so bad for what she was going to need to do.

Kayla. Sophia. Ackart.”, Alex uttered harshly, but quietly from where he stood, taking a fatherly tone as that note of disapproval and disappointment shifted from one person to another, leaping tenfold at the utterance of the fox’s middle name – a heart stopping thing even in the year 2891, and something that stilled Kayla’s tail with immediate worry. The man sounded like he could hardly believe what was happening.

There is no excuse for ever stealing and using your parent’s authorization pin – don’t you get what you’ve just done?”, he glared down upon his daughter and scolded with sharper words, rattling the chipper notes out of Kayla’s body language as she shrank and had to take to the fetters she was being given.

Aren’t you going to say anything? That necklace is half a brand new hover-car.”, his eyes went back to his wife, stressing firmly, trying to figure what was keeping Emily from saying so much as the tiniest chiding word – hoping it sure wasn’t getting that ludicrously expensive necklace. Alex becoming a restrained sort of angry, he came off as sounding almost wounded to Kayla. Such a response to what she had done for them making her ears fold back, the girl’s expression across her muzzle looked like a nervous kit in front of the principal – the sad, true reality of what she had done coming to light.

I’m well aware that Kayla took and misused my pin. She’s in a lot of trouble, but that is no reason to hurt her feelings. Her being happy wasn’t fake – she meant for this to be an innocent surprise.”, Emily lifted her head and clarified as to why she was being so nice, simply trying to be a thoughtful parent. Kayla’s good intentions would come back to burn her though, and that didn’t strike her with the smallest crumb of motherly pride, knowing her daughter well enough to know how this sort of grave mistake played out in her head.

Poor Kayla’s once bright eyes and loving smile had broken into looking worried, scorned, and stumbling. Ears uncertain as to where to go, still happy for what she was able to get for her parents, she wasn’t expecting the sudden serious air to disrupt the circle of her family and the moment she tried to make for them. Hearing she was in trouble hit her hard, searching for words in her head she didn’t have even a second to prepare in her lack of awareness that she had done anything miscreant.

I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong – honest! It was just the only way I could get you guys presents without you knowing what they were.”, Kayla tried to speak up as to the nature of her intentions, trying to do something special for them, looking pinned between both her mother and her father; wanting to stick up for her gift giving mission.

I didn’t actually steal the pin, I just… learned it. I didn’t buy anything bad with it. The cost of the necklace was really small compared to what was in my account too, you shouldn’t be so worried.”, her paws came out open at her sides in her attempt to relax her parents and persuade, even as Alex began to step around her to examine what she had in the delivery box, scoffing at the notion they shouldn’t be concerned with what she did and how much it cost.

If that’s how you feel, then you have too many credits and should transfer it all to your reparations if you refuse to be responsible with it.”, Alex hit her with the off-the-cuff comment with a tip of his head, harsh and cutting as he knelt down beside the box, bringing Kayla to frown sadly – now wounded herself – and Emily to curl her brows in retort.

Alex, that’s not an okay thing to say.”, the mother that wanted to make this right countered Alex with her own hastened reminder, catching such a tone from her husband to suggest that the typically light-handed man was feeling personally hurt after all the things he had done in getting Kayla ready to take her first steps into society.

Apologizing to them with something to make them smile and be loved was her mission, and the more everything fell apart, the worse Kayla felt. She was already squirming and crying inside of her head, hating vehemently of what she had done. She wanted to look the humans that raised her to his point in the eye and have them think, wow, I guess Kayla really does love us.

Look what she did instead.

I just wanted to do something nice. I’m sorry dad.”, Kayla folded her ears back all the way to apologize to him, sounding soft and honestly meek that her attempt at doing something good brought nothing but a negative reaction – once again never able to do anything right, and not even seeing it coming. She sounded like her eyes would water any second as the scratchy, loud sounds of objects against synth-cardboard came across the living room; Alex plucking every item from the box to bare what all Kayla had purchased; surprise all but over, and finding out the scope of her failure being all that was left.

I wish you’d forgive me. I wouldn’t have done something bad on purpose.”, the Aspatrian felt herself standing like a Penitatas again, wanting to at least assure, with that being the only way she knew how to cope with parental scorn; paws clutched, head tipped in a bow. Those words were met with a scrape of a box, and a bitter thump of a stack of colorful, thin boxes onto the carpet from an upset, agitated hand – items from her order that made Kayla wince.

And these console games are gifts to who? You?”, Alex actually managed to snap as if taking the role Emily once played; a strange reversal when it used to be he being her sheltering advocate, not the other way around. Fingertips on the top of the pile of five video games, partly covering the title ‘Outlander’; what Kayla meant to be her first RPG about a rejuvenated boy space-faring in the outer colonies; the shaken young fox ‘umm’ed in uneasiness.

They were in my cart on the ‘net site too. I wanted to try a few different genres.”, she came to reply with a stronger guilty note in her voice, as her understanding took stronger hold over what she had previously thought was perfectly fine. She didn’t ask for permission for those either, and they weren’t part of the surprise she planned.

They can go right back then.”, Alex declared as if it was the first punitive measure of the day in a matter-of-fact sort of way, bringing Kayla to whine faintly. She spent a lot of time picking those out, and was becoming quite the passionate gamer gal. Something good had to come out of those two weeks of work – would someone please understand she wasn’t trying to be a subversive little jerk, and just… really wanted to be a decent daughter?

You can keep one Kayla.”, Emily chimed in from her seat, prompting Alex to lift his head and almost scowl.

Quit trying to reward her for what she did.”, he fired back with a tone to his voice, pulling another box from within the first to begin tearing it open. Kayla being left the odd one out, reduced to nothing more than a spectator to her own dressing down, her eyes darted back to her mother to catch her reply.

I’m not – please stop it. I would have let her get two or three if she asked. She’s not a ‘penny, I can cut her slack. This isn’t entirely her fault, and that’s half the reason you’re mad.”, Emily spoke in a scolding way that was familiar to Kayla, being that she used to be the person that sort of authoritative tone was directed toward. It was starting to make the fox feel horrible, so unused to hearing her parents bicker. She wanted to ask them to not fight, but her muzzle was getting ushered into silence by being so stiff. She wasn’t sure what Emily meant by this not being entirely her fault, but the sorrowful thing knew the words they were being forced to share in argument, dampening their day, were very much her fault.

A spot of soft green popped free of the box in Alex’s hands, and a plush dragon was lifted part way into the air. With limbs like Melissa’s, the scaled fantasy creature had little felt horns and a soft, fuzzy feel to his strong body and thick draconic haunches. With kind eyes and a big smile across its snout, wings tucked to its body, it was swaddled in a custom tailored polo shirt to make it look dignified and proper and nothing more in its broad stature. Bigger than Melissa, it was more akin to Ninne’s Aiko in size, and quite elaborate compared to what a Penitatas would get. Seeing it for the first time in person still made Kayla’s white tail-tip brush her leg, plastered to her as it was.

That’s a gift for Jacob. He seemed to really like Melissa, and he’d never buy something like that for himself. Too shy about it. Instead of getting him a Karrian to match Mel’, I see him more like my dragon, so… I got him his own someone.”, Kayla was happier to share her reasoning over that one, as much as she loved getting to customize that particular leg of the order. She didn’t know what Jacob would name them, or if he’d make the plush a he or even a she – he was the sort to do such a thing. Its yellow polo shirt akin to his own, along with its darker green exterior to be similar enough to him, the pant-less creature could be anything he’d like, and it meant a lot to her to be able to grant him such a thing. His life had been hard too, and Lory having made so much of it sad, it would have been great to have an emotional support companion at his age too.

It stays.”, Emily almost barked, as if preempting Alex in case he wanted to really scald Kayla and tell her it would be returned too. No one’s feelings needed to be hurt in order to teach and correct. Not arguing, the dragon slid back inside its box with the nudge of a masculine hand, going for the last of the items in the shipping box.

Nondescript and a shade of glossy brown, Alex slowed down before he began to open that one. Being the last thing from Kayla’s inappropriate order, and already told that she had something for him from when she called up the stairs, this item had to be…

That’s your gift.”, Kayla confirmed with a soft, sorry voice.

I wanted to say thank you for how much you tried to make being a Penitatas a little more tolerable. Mom was a good mom, and you were a good dad. You even helped Ackart Enterprises become a thing. I’m sorry I ruined this.”, she spoke far more slowly and wearily than when she presented Emily with her own present, and by the end when she felt the need to apologize – that very thing this ‘thank you’ was supposed to make up for – the sting of what she did, bringing the house to argue and be upset with her made those eyes finally water.

Like an eight year old, unable to help every emotion that hit her mind, especially when it came to her guardians, that frowning muzzle quivered its jaw; a tiny sob hiccuped in her throat, held back to try and silence it as a paw went to her mouth to try and comfort it.

I still hope you like it.”, her voice sounded more teary, obviously shaken and hurt with remorse. It made Emily sigh, not having been able to stop such a thing when she knew in her heart this could have gone so much better. It never had to be this way. Even Alex seemed to stop his agitation, giving the elongated little box in his hands a better look before working to pop it open.

With a snap, the lid’s tab came free and a brightly colored and shimmering object came into the same light that struck Emily’s necklace – this one simply differently. Extra glossy and too a polished metal, it was a high-end, custom made travel mug for coffee, meant for his trips to work in the morning. Most special though, was its sea blue hue and the array of yellow straw hats, pineapples, and flowing green leaves. It was the same exact print as the Hawaiian shirt he wore on casual Friday, and now he could playfully match at the office with his coffee mug – the sort of thing Kayla knew he’d love, with the way he typically carried himself and behaved.

There was suddenly more than one guilty person in the room, keeling there in silence.

You get it now, Alex?”, Emily lightened her tone, even as she twisted it questioningly like the man should have seen such a thing coming.

Kayla has no idea what things are worth. Worth isn’t going to matter to her, if she doesn’t get it. She got us gifts she knew we’d like… she didn’t mean to be brazen with the necklace.”, the mother sighed again, having known such a thing in her heart even when she was still trying to overcome the personal shock of being given a gift so outlandish and showy. People, and humans especially, were so awkward when it came to people spending a lot of any currency on them. Those Federation credits were no different, but one had to remember, Kayla didn’t view things the same.

We didn’t want to pry her from her work for DeltaStar, even when all those credits hit her account and she went from zero to a million. It was our responsibility to start from the bottom and teach her these things, like banking rules, and we didn’t, taking our ability to be guardians of her account for granted with that stupid authorization pin. Of course she’d figure it out, she’s too sharp not to – we know these damn things.”, Emily accepted some of the responsibility and fault for what transpired, even in front of Kayla, no longer needing to be unquestionable and infallible to their Penitatas charge, now that she was simply little Miss Ackart. Alex sank with his frown.

And I know you wanted to take her paws and show her all this, but we were too late. She’ll be punished for her half, but you owe her an apology for trying to jump down her throat and insinuate she didn’t deserve what she earned with those spry little fingers of hers’. Her reparations shouldn’t be the only thing she works for.”, the motherly woman with her newfound pony-tail brought her voice down further, even as she went on, as if to bring calm and peace back to the room so no one would have to cry from feeling overly guilty. Kayla’s paws clutching one another so uncomfortably, and those ears folded back as if she had been spanked already, she looked so rattled and sad, just standing there as she was.

“… I was an ass. I’m very sorry Kayla. Thank you for thinking of me.”, Alex relented entirely from the position he held, understanding there was more at play here than an errant rejuve mindlessly committing an extreme misbehavior. If a proper sit-down and lesson on finance happened sooner, not relying on Kayla’s inability to get to her credits as a barrier, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. As shown, the poor thing was just trying to be nice.

Could we… could we just let this go? Just this once?”, Kayla lowered her right paw from her muzzle to ask gently for her parent’s favor, still sounding faintly tearful in having been told that she was indeed facing discipline for her actions – ones she didn’t know were bad, even.

Please mom, I honestly didn’t know the pin was such a big deal. You can change it, I really don’t want it. It was just this one time.”, she tried to plead again, which prompted her mother to let go of the little purple clam-shell in her lap to reach both her hands out.

It’s okay – come here Kayla.”, her voice tried to be reassuring and comforting in offering her touch. Kayla stepped over to where she presented the necklace to her mother, and at the human’s kind beckon, gave Emily her paws to hold; a calm face to a saddened, small vulpine one.

A rejuvenated person forging their parent’s authorization is a very big deal. Jacob is a Medicalos and a really well behaved person, right? Well, if he did something like that, even Ki`rene would have him unable to sit for days.”, Emily tried to gingerly teach the gravity of what Kayla did with a comparison, keeping slow and very motherly. Kayla whined under her breath in self-pity, grasping that explanation, frowning deeper even in the calm of the moment.

I… I just worked so hard. Two weeks on that project, day and night mom. You know how little I left my baby while I was doing all that, and how sore my paws were. I only just these last few days got to really enjoy my video games. I don’t want to lose my privileges as soon as I get to finally enjoy them. Please?”, that quiet, tear-stricken girlish voice admitted with a low, pleading little tone what it was that she truly feared and didn’t want.

Becoming a Completatas was the grand gift of freedom. Those privileges she gained were what made life so shiny and new, and made her so far from being a Penitatas. She got to play her video games just enough to become addicted and engrossed, able to do and play all as she liked, with lovely snacks and drinks on top. Losing all of that was too much to bear, so soon after parole and only now free from the undertaking of her work. But, to her request, the ‘C’s on the backs of her paws were rubbed by human thumbs in stroking, massaging pets, eye to eye with her mother.

Honey, I’m going to be honest a moment. You not knowing what you did was wrong – is what was wrong. If you learned the password to your school’s computer system so you could get into it without hacking your way in, would you use it?”, Emily took the time to parent, wanting Kayla to begin understanding why she was culpable for her actions, even if she didn’t know the ins and outs of finance rules to know her authorization pin was deeply and direly off limits. She’d never fathom punishing Kayla without her understanding why.

“… No.”, the poor fox had to admit, thinking about how what she did must have seemed, even if she was just trying to setup a surprise. And, for her more specific question, Emily tipped her head and looked a bit more serious.

Since you can tell what I type, you likely know my own bank pin too then, right?”, she probed, though calmly. Kayla’s frowning, guilty face looked more toward Emily’s lap, shifting those damp blue eyes away from her face.

“… Maybe.”, Kayla became too sheepish and uncomfortable with the things she soaked up with her senses to blurt the numbers outright, but surely not denying she had deciphered them before. She didn’t know if that in itself was bad or not.

And you never used it to buy things before. Would you? Even if it wasn’t stealing?”, Emily followed her teaching, just for Kayla to begin shaking her head very quickly.

No, that would be wr-… !”, the fox blurted almost harshly from her maw, but stopped very abruptly with an airy sound. With a pause, and a far more guilty whimper, ever so soft from her muzzle, the poor girl looked absolutely caught, and even by her own words.

“… It’d be wrong.”, she affirmed with her own words, more shaky in realization of where Emily had been going with that. What she thought nothing of, she sure should have felt something of.

Kayla, you have a bit of a habit of thinking you can get into everything. Packet-Storm could, and even now when you learn a pin, you feel like you are allowed to use it. It might not be hacking, but its a hacker’s mentality. If you weren’t explicitly shared something, and it is not meant for you, then it’s up to you to stay out of what doesn’t belong to you.”, Emily explained with firmer words, being that it was the end result of her verbal lesson, and what Kayla needed to take away from this.

I appreciate and understand what you tried to do, and it was very kind of you. I love you for it, even. It was only how you went about it, that you’re… in a lot of trouble for, young lady.”, the firmness actually left her voice, even as she confirmed that there would only be so much reprieve, for the greater sort of mistake that Kayla had made. Sliding her hands from Kayla’s paws, Emily reserved herself to being that mom the fox did so love, as much as it sometimes hurt.

Go to your room. Sit on your stool, jeans down, and wait for me.”, she sentenced the sweet fox for her ill behaved trespass, doing so as mother and daughter, and no longer Penitatas parent and inmate.

It was just enough to make Kayla’s jaw tremble again and her eyes water with a fresh tear in each. Having been so long since she had been properly spanked, much less punished at all beside her little fit over her game, those old Penitatas worries and formalities bled back out of the young girl. Not sure what to do with her paws, she tucked her tail and began a slow walk – thoroughly sullen, and terribly worried of what would befall her, if even Jacob “wouldn’t be able to sit” for days.

Yes ma’am.”, Kayla nearly whispered as she would have in times past, taking her leave to visit the pyramids of her old CornerStool without the assistance of the stiff, shielding fabric of her pants. Wanting to be good, she ended up just being bad, and that stung her to the core.

So much for making up for her misbehavior, if she was going to screw up so badly while doing it.

Mom.”, her ears had to pivot behind herself to catch, looking back over her shoulder to see Emily giving her at least a little smile – correcting the furred girl’s choice in nouns, in this stage of their life. It made Kayla huff a lighter sound from her nose, still knowing how to be a repentant little thing, even as a Completatas.

Yes mom.”, she accepted, seeing that Emily didn’t want to be called such a formality any longer. She really did let her have fun with the gift giving, until it all went awry, and she never seemed at all angry with her, even if what she did was apparently incredibly bad. It was noticed, and it was loved.

But, repentant or not, she had to face something she surely didn’t desire, and when her bare footpaws took to the carpeting of the stairs, her tail remained tucked like a bad, sorry little kit. Despite those prior feelings of being a successful tiny woman, exploring bits of adulthood with Jacob, she was still just a kid at the end of the day, and one that wasn’t as perfectly behaved as she thought. Let me show you how good I can be, all on my own – her goddamn tail. Kayla frowning and wallowing in a bit of self-disdain, those last few steps had the downtrodden girl popping the button of her faded blue jeans to do as she was told without delay in her guilt.

At the end of the stairs to the second floor, stepping forward into her open bedroom door, Kayla gave her pants enough of a tug to bare the thin cotton seat of her underwear and the playful foxes she sported that day. She wasn’t told she needed to drop her drawers, so she’d take any extra cushion from the dully pointed pyramids of the stool as she could. The CornerStool right next to her open door to it’s right, tucked into the almost non-existent corner there, Kayla climbed up and sat down slowly. It took some wiggling and fidgeting, and was still totally impossible to get comfortable on; the seat of her cute fox print panties indented evenly all over as if sitting on a meat tenderizing mallet. Jeans binding her legs, Kayla hung her head and faced the corner, even if she hadn’t been specifically told to do that. It couldn’t hurt, and it left her dangling Aspatrian tail visible from the door, stretching down the length of the stool’s height. Pointed seat stabbing through cotton and fur, her own weight made her backside particularly uncomfortable even in an un-spanked state, paws in her lap to wait for Emily to surely thrash her one. At least she had time to think about what she did and come to terms with it, as jarring as the whole day had come to be.

And, for better or worse as a Completatas in her own discipline, she didn’t have to wait more than a couple minutes.

Ears following sounds up the stairs, and down the hallway and back, a pat to her shoulder granted her permission to get off her punitive perch. Happy to oblige, never enjoying a moment on that awful stool, Kayla’s paws paid a quick but firm rub to her backside now that she could do such things freely in the few steps she needed to follow her mother and a second pat; this time to her bed, to come sit on the end of it with her. Getting to see what Emily brought with her though, jolted a lump up Kayla’s chest and into a teeth gritting sort of frown. Her junior cane and her mother’s yardstick, both clutched together in her right hand. Eyeballing the particularly harsh items and knowing very well the terrible bite of each, seeing that yardstick was already a rarity even when she was a ‘penny still. She hadn’t been spanked with it in months, and boy could it sting with the hottest of welts. It was made with spanking in mind for a Penitatas household after all; thicker and harder than you’d expect, giving it the crispest of loud slaps from its tear-milking length. Tense and sullen, not even sure of her own pain tolerance after having not been spanked in so long, Kayla was entirely unsure of what she was in for now that she wasn’t a Penitatas either… she just hoped it wouldn’t be too severe, cane and yardstick or not.

Now Kayla, I’m going to start from the top.”, Emily spoke up without leaving any time for her daughter to fret, even before the tender feeling in Kayla’s bottom from the stool met the soft of her bed’s comforter. She tossed her tail aside with an eight year old fling as she always did in her short leaps to sit, shuffling a bit awkwardly in needing to use a paw to hold up her jeans; showing off those sleepy, playing, and running red foxes all across her hips.

Seated together side by side, Emily looked down, still hoping to make this right in the end. She smiled a little even, at least at first, taking to being a softer sort of mom in wake of her parental role changing.

The necklace you got me was the nicest, most beautiful thing I’ve ever been given. It is too valuable though, and with you not knowing the value of a credit, I can’t keep it in good conscience.”, Emily tried to explain as gently as she could, highlighting how endearing and heartwarming it was, if she was to also admit that it must go back to where it came. That frowning muzzle was surely not happy to hear that, and Kayla tried to shake her head.

Mom, no, it’s yours!”, she stressed, but as if knowing the butterflies in her stomach, Emily shushed her; dismissing the worry, at least for now.

It’s how it has to be, until you learn. You will though, and I plan to teach you once we are done in here – your spanking to help you with that, specifically. It’s not a hard Penitatas one, then sending you to a corner. I’m going to teach you a lesson with it, I have a plan, and that is that.”, Emily announced and sentenced at the same time, both cryptic and comforting enough for Kayla to have no idea how badly she was about to be reddened. And, as it was, her mother wasn’t done talking either.

Your mistake was a bad one… but, you didn’t know the banking rules, so I’m not punishing you for that. Just for taking and using what was not yours. Your big girl paddle will not be coming off the wall, when it would have otherwise. You’re also not being grounded for a month.”, came out of her mouth like a gift, until the part she knew would scald Kayla. Lowering her head, and with sympathy, Emily parted her lips more gently.

“… You will lose your privileges for two weeks. Half, with the other half being our fault.”, she delivered as the thing Kayla pleaded with her not to do, not wanting to lose all of the fun, wonderful things that made her a Completatas.

It struck Kayla with such anguish and regret, having so much taken away at the mere utterance.

Kayla outright whimpered as her head hung where she sat, rolling that low, teary whine into a sob after a few seconds. Her mother wrapped an arm around her and cradled her to her side, letting the sorry young fox put her muzzle and face against her to cry that painful frustration out, saddened so far past even wanting to hold it back. She knew that hurt very badly, and at eight, it was likely torturous to her mind to think of that degree of loss. It was what punishments were for, and she’d be sure not to misuse a password she picked up wrongly again, Emily would surely hope. Feminine and soft, Kayla hiccuped, chest and back jumping as her muzzle parted to show a few sad tips of her teeth, crying aloud like the child she was.

No more video games. No more strawberry milk. No more Galactic-Net.

I know… I know… I’m sorry.”, Emily held her and assured with honest apology, sharing in that pain as the person who caused it as she pet Kayla’s fur softly. As upset as Alex made himself downstairs, she wasn’t about to let him come up here and let him see how distraught Kayla would be once grounded. The soft man would have cried and walked away, as “hard” as he tried to be down in the living room.

I’ll take your controller out of your room so you don’t feel tempted. You’ll keep your old baby in case you need to work, but no playing on it – trust me, I know coding from playing at this point even as fast as you go, so please be good, it’s not supposed to be a trap. Same goes for your data-pad; put it away. I’m not revoking your access to the replicator either, I don’t want to be petty. Just don’t use it.”, Emily detailed what losing those privileges would entail, and what being grounded in this way would be like as the fox softly sobbed with this high, yet quiet underlying wail. Seeing that video game controller sitting there would be too hard on Kayla she imagined, as much as she was into it. It put a more painful knot in her stomach than she anticipated, seeing Kayla so unimaginably sad after she had been so smiley, generous, and even loving. As it turned out, the fox’s frown was as contagious as her cheer could be.

It’s not like being grounded was like as a Penitatas though. No more toy chest padlock, and you can still see your friends.”, the pony-tailed woman wanted to add as a more positive note, pointing out the old Penitatas punishments that would not be seeing a return. Being grounded didn’t make Kayla a total prisoner, but now that she had gotten a taste of greater privileges, Emily still had to stroke her fingernails against the smaller girl, massaging her right ear to comfort and mother those sputtering sobs the sullen fox slowly began to try and take control of. She needed a minute, but Kayla was a strong girl – she could compose herself, even if she already missed the cold milk on her tongue.

Are you ready to lay down Kayla?”, Emily looked down over the sorry fox’s head against her, speaking softly for those folded ears once Kayla’s sadder cry had faded to little more than self-pitying sniffles. There was still a sound spanking to be had, and then the lesson afterward she had promised to go with the sore backside she would make. To it, Kayla’s vulpine muzzle slid across Emily’s side to look up and nod with an acceptant, yet ready frown. Classic Kayla Ackart.

The pair parted with a few extra pats of a hand, and once feet had found the floor, Emily walked along the length of Kayla’s bed to prepare what she intended to do. Calleet’s sunny day making the room bright with its fresh blue paint, what was normally the young girl’s restful space of freedom these days became her place of punishment once more, watching from the foot of her bed as her pillow was taken, fluffed, and set back in the lower middle of her bedding. It was familiar, even if Emily didn’t do it often, being a comfortable but harsh sort of spanking position – pillow meant to go under her pelvis, propping her bottom to be openly bared. Paws fidgeting where that pillow would soon press against her, claws against her underwear’s red foxes beneath the bottom of her dangling shirt, Kayla fought her worries and unlocked her guilty, frozen muzzle.

I can keep my underwear on now, right?”, she wanted to ask, hoping she could keep from having to bare her fur any further to implements that tended to be on the highest end of “stinging”, biting through fur to welt skin with ease.

You’re tougher than a lot of boys your age I think.”, Emily responded with a bit of a disciplinarian’s insight, familiar with how well Kayla could cope with things that physically hurt.

For what you did, please give me your fur. You don’t have to undress, just keep everything at your knees and join the pillow.”, Emily looked over with her eyes as she finished readying herself, propping the yardstick against Kayla’s closet to leave only the long, pine-hued child’s cane in her right hand. Her words lacking firm authority compared to how she used to speak in times of penance, it was almost as if being asked to comply willingly; like a good, trusted girl; rather than someone whom needed commanding.

Even so, Kayla was astute enough to pick up a stiffening notion from that request. Everything at her knees, meant her thighs were a target. Catching that this wouldn’t be light, Kayla couldn’t help but hold onto that defeated frown while she did as told, freeing the tiny button of her new girl’s underpants to give the feather-weight of the small garment a tug that wasn’t bashful around her mother. The seat of her panties slid down to meet the backside of her worn jeans, settled into it like a bowl, and with an obedient hop off her toes Kayla crawled up from the foot of the bed. Up and over her dark blue pillow case, waddling and shimmying from having her legs bound by the stiff crumple of clothing, the eight year old slid naked strands of fur against the fluff of her pillow and settled her groin and front of her thighs down, leaving her back curved gently downward in her slump against the mattress. Toughness aside, the physique of her hips and legs was still rather girlish as the young fox continued to grow, showing more of that shape with the raising of her tail toward her head. Orange fur bared from the drape of her gray shirt down to the wrap of blue denim at her knee-hollows, Aspatrian backside vulnerable and feeling open air, Kayla bent her arms and tucked her paws into nervous fists by her muzzle; eyes copiously watering from already having cried over having all of her things taken away. Looking over the new colors of her bedding, out to the lighter blue wall just in front of her, Kayla wanted to speak before her mother began, hearing her already taking her place beside the bed to lash all that she had bared.

“… Even if I’m not a Penitatas, I guess I can’t help but still say things like this before you spank me.”, Kayla spoke with a lower sort of note, jaw rubbing her comforter as the words came from her maw against it.

I’m sorry I used that pin.”, she apologized, as she always felt she needed to when she “assumed a position” for someone after she had done wrong. Clearly she’d still be saying ‘I’m sorry’ from time to time as she got older. It was just the sort of rejuve she was; hating of errors, but prone to making them.

It’s okay. We learn.”, her mother’s voice came back to her black-tipped ears, still holding on to that soft reassurance that almost reminded her of Ki`rene. That there were no hard feelings, and it was okay to make mistakes and grow up.

Just a few with the cane.”, came after, sounding a little more reserved to what she was to do – the cool, smooth feeling of the cane coming against Kayla’s bare-furred bottom, and in a very tender spot.

Not starting from the top, perhaps due to getting fewer strokes, the touch of the whippy wooden rod tickled the fur follicles at the base of Kayla’s rear, in the crease where her Aspatrian haunches met her thighs. Dead center of her sit-spot. Kayla stifled the whine she wanted to make in response, not wanting to sound an unrepentant brat, and simply nuzzled her face into her dark blue comforter to… well, comfort. Ends of her muzzle crooking into a firmer frown, hardening in anticipation, Emily didn’t make her wait.

The touch of the rod leaving where it had aimed with a faint puff of moving air, licking the tips of her orange fur, an audible swish gave Kayla enough of a split second to flinch before the cane returned to the base of her rear with its characteristic snap. Indenting skin and fur deeply in the fractions of a moment that couldn’t be seen at the speed of a cane, it translated to a loud sound and a loud pain; a deeply shrill, cutting sort of red-hot line carved into that sensitive, tender crease of skin meeting skin. Kayla’s sharp vulpine teeth bared themselves in her wince, not crying out, but eliciting this long, drawn out whine of a growl.

Emily withdrew the cane and sort of stumbled on her own rhythm she would normally form, having felt something in her swing that made her stop and take a tense pause, looking over at Kayla’s facial expression and reaction with analytical worry; picking apart that low feminine growl as it suddenly got more garbled, rolling quickly into a sob and then a series of quicker ones, paws clutched tight. That pained face made to cry so easily made Emily let off a deeply sorry sound, darting off a single foot.

That’s what I thought – dammit!”, Emily said with a regretful haste of concern, quickly stepping forward to the edge of the bed to reach out with her left hand. Brisk and firm she rubbed across the welt she had just made from her lash, purposely easing its burn in a way Kayla would have never saw as a Penitatas – and with a bit of language to accompany it, as hard as a pain of her own hit Emily.

I have my wrist trained. I’m not sure how far to dial it back now that you’re a Completatas – I didn’t mean for that to be so hard, I’m sorry.”, the mother and experienced Penitatas disciplinarian apologized as quickly as she could for her mistake, so used to the higher level of swing strength. Never having spanked Kayla yet post-parole, she didn’t at all know what that muscle-feeling of a proper swat would feel like, versus what she knew.

I’ll make up for that.”, Emily assured, willing to take a swat or two off for her error. That first lash was just under Penitatas strength, but surely not enough. While it still throbbed like the absolute dickens as a solid cane lash would, her mother quelling its anger by rubbing it out, as if pouncing a fire, was at least rather nice. Kayla was glad to hear the cane wasn’t going to hit her that hard normally, leaving her ‘P’s behind.

But, when the cane returned to her rear-end just above the glowing heat of the first raised line and delivered its next loud ‘whap!’ across her bedroom walls, Kayla was duly reminded that a cane stung horribly, regardless of rejuve classification. That one didn’t blast her to the bone, but the sting across her skin and the heat remained almost the same, if simply with less of a deep impact and bruising pain – less like being walloped with a stick. More reasonable control of the cane made for a more reasonable reaction; Emily stopping again to watch Kayla’s eyes and muzzle, having known her daughter well enough to gauge how much a lash hurt based on the sounds she made and how much she clenched, baring those fangs. The growl was more childish, but Kayla being Kayla, she actually managed to swallow that one down. It would take a few more to get her crying as she normally would, and that seemed like a fair place for an eight year old who knew how to take a lash.

Still sticking solely to Kayla’s sit-spot, the cane licked its crimson heat across the very top of Kayla’s thighs, just below the first two welts to encompass the whole area in a hardening, deeply hurtful feeling; that one making a whimpering cry to mix in with that growl, making it more sullen and wet – a jerk of her tail, and a squirm of her footpaws against the plush bedding. And, following a contemplative hum from a human throat, the fox had to feel the cane take aim again, swallowing in her young discomfort. To her internal lament, and to help the tears that had formed in her eyes roll free into the fur of her cheeks, it was all the way down at the bottoms of her thighs, just barely above where her denim wrapped around her knees.

“… That low?”, Kayla let some of that lament outward as she bemoaned a tearful whine, questioning with those wet, squinted blue eyes; trying to look toward her shoulder, sounding awfully sorry. Even if Kayla couldn’t see it, Emily did nod for her.

These cane welts have a purpose.”, she did at least answer, before giving Kayla that lash she didn’t want.

Across firmer leg instead of the softer of bottom, impacting taut muscle, the crack of the cane against her fur and flesh sounded duller, but the pain certainly didn’t drop. So low, and burning so hot with a stabbing, long line across her, the cane forced Kayla to yelp, rolling it only after into a more tearful growl that fell back into a single sob. Her legs rubbed against the bed, up and down in the little she could in response to feeling such biting pain so low. She’d be feeling that later, and that was actually what Emily was working on.

There. Those will be a bit deeper and more lasting, and the yardstick will take care of the rest.”, Emily noted of her own handiwork as she turned to exchange the cane for the waiting stick of spanking prowess. While the cane was very direct and punching, making angry raised welts, the yardstick would be the actual spanking. Its thick, long nature giving fair skin coverage and being quite the stinging implement, her daughter’s bottom and thighs would be reddened in their entirety beyond the adeptly placed striped welts and bruises she had just gotten.

Kayla whimpered softly, breaking free of her last wince to let her eyes back open to little slits. That would be a proper yardsticking, propped over that pillow, on top of cane welts to certain places. It was going to really suck when the yardstick went over those, and it dawned on her that doing the cane first was intentional for that purpose. Now she’d have trouble sitting and moving later without being sharply reminded of her spanking, and her punishment itself was about to get a lot worse. Kayla wasn’t the sort to plead under normal circumstance, and after how the gift “mission” went, she didn’t even want to so much as open her mouth unless it was to cry – feeling small, and so foolish. She’d take it… and at least try to learn.

The shape of the yardstick gripped into Emily’s adult hand from its end, the punitive version of the measurement tool reached across the room as it went up and over the width of the bed and the Aspatrian beneath it. No longer needing to be surgical with placing specific welts and sore spots, the mother could simply lay down the consequence for a young girl who needed to respect boundaries and barriers. Seeing Kayla’s elbows bent to put those paws so close to her muzzle, burying herself a tad, she gave a pat with the yardstick’s flat, heavier length to let her know the guilt was about to be taken away.

She wasn’t a Penitatas, but this would still really smart – the punishment matching the crime.

Kayla jumped into her next wince with a tense shrugging of her shoulders, digging her knuckles into the sides of her muzzle at the sharp, particularly brisk and loud slap of thick, firm wood that shot through her partly folded ears – ‘Pap!’. A rectangular shape of skin-burning sear went straight across the middle of her rear, sending a jolt through her tail, and repeated by another shortly after, just a tad lower to make another red stripe and tamp down her fur with the long instrument’s snappy paddling. It was slower and likely lighter than the last time she felt that unique, nerve skittering sting, but damn did each slap bite so hard!

A’ah-ow!”, her teary muzzle blurted to the third slap of the long ruler, hard and straight across two cane welts at once at it painted its way down into her pre-tenderized, already hot feeling sit-spot. As the sting of the broad, flat implement raised in her mind and body, forming its heated, scathing little wheal, it accented down the length of the cane welt’s raised peak, turning white hot and hurting so badly it made her poor toes grind into her comforter; fur sliding against it so easily it was hard to comfort such a venomous feeling.

Ah-ha-hooww!”, Kayla cried out more pitifully to the yardstick’s harsh treatment, moving past where her bottom creased into her thighs to greet the third cane welt below, inching upon her thighs and into territories that would make her stiffen up even worse from the scorching, immediate blasts of sting.

As the yardstick raised and fell with crisp, purposeful snaps against Kayla from a motherly hand, that muzzle’s pained curl parted it’s lips and gritted vulpine teeth to squeak her girlish yelps and boyish, pain-fighting growls into an honest childish fit of sobbing. Her backside lit like a bonfire the further the yardstick went, and it had only been a good several slaps of it against her, getting closer to that cane welt above her knees until smooth wood gnashed down upon it with a weighted, dutiful snap. Poor Kayla bucked at the great feeling of wasps needling the hill of that cane welt – enough for her to cry out a quick little yell, gripping her muzzle and trying to kick her legs, despite her own clothing binding them, leaving a soft, thumping sound of her body against her bed with her footpaws flailing. It took nine strokes of the yardstick to coat her all the way down, each touching the boarder of the last to leave no skin untouched.

A strong girl, and one who was bad, one reddening paint job was not enough, even for a Completatas.

Right from the top, starting mid-bottom at their peaks, Kayla was given yet another harsh smack, and another; Emily permitting herself to be quicker on the second pass once her daughter’s endorphins had kicked in and she had been warmed up. It was a spanking, not a reminder – this was not to be easy. Prickling sparks of heat and skin-stiffening sting from her bottom straight down her thighs, having the yardstick return to spank over all those welts and wheals forced tears liberally from her eyes as her clenching and holding back broke into simply keeping her maw open, sobbing and crying at a diligent, consistent slap in her ears from a wrist that learned where to be fair to an eight year old tough-girl. Crossing the base of her rear and the junior cane’s punitive marks, and hard, at that, the squirming fox was soon brought to a sorry, well-spanked wail as her back-jarring sobs threatened to raise into bawling; thighs grinding one another and her pillow, even as the yardstick whipped them firmly. Kayla wished she could have held back from crying longer, but it had been so long since she felt something that hurt so bad, and she had already been so sad… it was just too comforting to let it out, to not.

She did not miss that thick, nasty yardstick.

Nary a bruise in its wake, she was left with a hot bottom and thighs, burning such an awful, ant-bite sting of a fire. Under her patted-down orange fur, she had grown rather red from two coatings of the punitive stick, with a darker, more blotchy crimson where the cane had treated her first – so aggravated and further punished by putting the yardstick on top of those tiny injuries. Kayla’s muzzle pressed her whiskers into her bed, pulling her comforter into her face to hide and muffle her honest, eight year old bout of tears. She may not have howled, but sounding her age was embarrassing now that she had been paroled, and her everyday life was spent being a bigger person – even the CEO and sole employee of her own company. She was out in the world now, and it would be a shameful thing to cry like a toddler in front of those she worked with, or was becoming friends with. Being punished hurt a little more uniquely, when falling from a higher place.

There was enough of a pause for her to let off a broken sputter, so badly stung by the ruler, but it came back once more – a painful surprise, and a most unwelcome one. Right upon the base of her rear and her upper thighs, most important if you were to leave a lasting impression, Emily spanked her soundly.

One – two – three – and-… !

They had all rung out in the same spot in quick succession, so explosively painful to the irritated and swollen cane welts and their underlying bruises that Kayla dug her nose into her bed even harder; tail jerked into a backward arch; screaming out a howling, tear-stricken cry into her bedding. So hot and harsh, she couldn’t still herself, trying to kick her legs against her bed with curled toes peering from the end of her crumpled denim ankles; sobbing all through her elongated sound of girlish lament. At the end, Emily had raised the yardstick one more time, aiming to spank that cane welt on her lower thighs, but as the poor fox writhed as much as she did and cried so hard, striking what she would consider to be a weak bawl, the mother did not swing the warm strip of hard wood again. That degree of sobbing was good enough to say Kayla was thoroughly spanked and sorry, and she did assure she’d make up for the first stroke of the cane being harder than she would have considered fair for a non-’penny.

All Kayla ever wanted during her sentence was for people to be fair. She’d give her nothing but fair with those well-earned silver ‘C’s, no matter how bad her infraction was. Besides, she hated hearing Kayla cry like that. Always sort of did, with the level of sunshine she could have.

Alright – give yourself a good rub Kayla.”, Emily took a deep breath and sighed out, trying to sound positive now that the negative-reinforcement had been applied and accepted with such grace. Not a Penitatas, Kayla was allowed to rub her spankings as much as she wanted now, as soon as it was safe and time to do so – opting to just plain invite the poor girl, rather than simply say she was done spanking her.

Before Emily could so much as put the yardstick down, Kayla’s paws bolted out of her now messy comforter’s folds and straight back to her rear and legs, starting a rather desperate looking rub; looking as if to knock red-hot embers from her fur. It may not have been remotely near the worst she had ever gotten, but there was something to be said about having tomato red marks all the way down your legs, even if they weren’t a shade darker with a scattering of bruises. Sure better than not being able to sit for days, but she’d sure not want to sit for all of this evening at the very least. Even rubbing the base of her rear outright smarted! Kayla’s eyes clenched closed, paw-pads stroking up and down the backs of her thighs as best as she could reach, a weight and creak against her bed was met by another touch. A larger, cool feeling human hand, joining her own paws in giving a gentle, massaging rub to the bits of her lower legs she couldn’t so easily reach on top of her pillow. Emily didn’t end her duty with her spanking, now that she could be a full-time mom.

There, there… Feel better. All paid for.”, she leaped in with some tender mothering, actually managing to smile even so soon after making her daughter strike the level of bawling. It warmed her, and made her so happy, to finally be allowed to rub the pain she applied, and comfort Kayla when she desired comforting the most – the Penitatas Justice Department no longer over her shoulder. Even Emily got to experience freedom. Such a distinct heat radiating through Kayla’s fur, she was sure to pet it all along its grain, as to not scrunch her fur up and pull on her skin, being thoughtful with it.

The extra treatment made calming down easier too, Kayla found, knocking that heavier cry into looser, more random fits of sobbing as soon as she could “fan the fire” as she was never permitted as a Penitatas. Not having her backside screaming to her brain to do something about the pain was so relieving, knowing her paws would never get in trouble for gripping upon a lash again. She also couldn’t help but notice that her mother not only avoided her tailhole, but stayed entirely away from it. Quite the gesture, and another strong relief now that Jacob went and made the base of her tail a fair bit more erogenous than she ever considered it before.

Still hurts to get in trouble, doesn’t it?”, Emily decided to ask in a candid way, following the sort of way Kayla would think and speak in her moment of bonding with the fox; the girl’s tail situating itself off to her other side, dangling from her hip onto the bed as she rested and came down. Easing in those moments into being able to breathe deeper with her chest releasing a tad, getting sniffles and other tiny sounds in between the occasional sob, Kayla tried to open her eyes a bit – though too blurry and wet to actually use them.

A lot.”, she replied with teary words, still sounding ever so apologetic. For them, a shadow came over those blurry pools of her eyes and she got a kiss to the top of her muzzle.

You can hit it with nano-lotion when you shower, I know that one was a real stinger. It was hard, in order to stay with you for a while. We’re going to use it as part of your lesson on the value of a credit, once you’re done resting.”, Emily lightened her tone further toward being positive, acknowledging the severity of what she applied in explaining it was part of a grander scheme than simply being your ordinary spanking; her hands coming to stroke Kayla’s ears, as well as her neck, in getting to sit there with her and console those pain-stricken little sobs and sputters, as soft as the fox was making them.

I understand and empathize well when it comes to yardsticks. I was spanked with one a good few times as a Kindern. Just like yours too – my mother had one designed for rearing. Thing has such a reach, I could never run away from it!”, the human woman shared in a way she never had before, embracing her ability to no longer be this iron-handed source of authority to admit that, yes, your mom needed to be disciplined too when she was your age.

Her quip at the end was more then enough to elicit a wet, awkward little snicker under the weakened sounds of young lament; a vulpine ear lifting with a light flick against Emily’s hand. Kayla tried to look up at her with her left eye, bringing her paw up to her face to wipe it and her cheek.

You? In trouble with grandma?”, Kayla questioned despite her voice still not being right, sounding tickled and shocked that the woman who did nothing but lead by example – apparent occasional slip of a swear word under duress aside – could ever manage to earn such a hurtful stroke of anything from the calm older woman she had met a few times as a Penitatas. Emily tended to keep the punishment subjects away from her family, and those visits always ended up being nice breaks for her.

I was bossy and pushy. Come on, you can imagine it.”, Emily accentuated their playful subject with a quick scratching of her nails to the back of Kayla’s neck, happy to spend a moment and get closer to her furry blessing. Kayla was such a genuine little lady. Giving that shoulder a pat, Emily slid on her hip to get back up off the bed, taking a quick look around the chipper blue colors she would have personally expected in a boy’s bedroom – but hey, Kayla sure does like the things she likes, and memory-chip blue was still a fine girl’s color. She was over trying to get her into the occasional dress anyway, with that flavor of “little lady” not really being in Miss Ackart’s repertoire of things she could be. Not finding a hint of pink in the room, and hoping she would in this case, Emily hummed.

Is the Kindern data-pad I got you still in pieces?”, she casually asked out of curiosity, seeking the little pink device’s assistance and knowing Kayla had been tinkering with its insides. Kayla had begun getting her bare pelvis and groin from the prop of her pillow, lifting off of the bed with a push from her paws.

Um… Just need to snap the back onto it.”, Kayla’s post-spanking voice traipsed about as if she was worried about its functional status being something that could get her into further trouble; tugging the pillow out from under her to set it back at the head of her bed, wincing a fair bit, considering every leg movement really stung her sit-spot as the skin stretched and shifted with her legs.

Could you? It’s small enough to go into your pocket, and you’re going to need a calculator and something to record information on.”, Emily asked of her, starting to outline what exactly this “lesson” they would be doing together would be as she collected the cane and yardstick from the closet door.

You should put your shoes on after, not your sandals. We’ll be headed out to the mall to do some price comparisons and simulated shopping, and you’ll be doing some walking and squatting with those sore legs to help you pay attention.”, she managed to speak rather easily of the subject, finally shedding some light on why specifically her sit-spot and that part of her lower thighs were treated to extra lashes – to wreck some of the fun and distraction of a visit to the bustle of Calleet Mall, and remind her it was a bit of punitive schooling. Kayla huffed a sigh through her wet ebony nose that forced her to sniff afterward, curling her muzzle a tad. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but she’d sure be feeling that spanking the whole time they were out. Sitting in the hover-car, especially. That lower thigh welt would surely rub against her jeans too, taking advantage of the stiff material she loved to wear.

Dammit, her mother was a corporal punishment mastermind. She did sort of give her a lot of practice, though.

And sure enough, as Kayla’s bare footpaws eased to the floor, sliding backward on her belly to not upset her hot bottom, Emily picked up her black video game controller from her desk as promised. She made no mention or fanfare of it – trying to be ginger and discreet about it, if anything, but it still reminded the fox of how much she just lost through her misguided attempt to be secretive with that damn authorization pin. It would be back to hanging around the house and playing on her floor, which was still at least something, but sure wasn’t a rousing run of her rogue-lite with a mug of strawberry milk at her side. Gritting her teeth from the thought of it all and the pain she was still very much in, Kayla rubbed her muzzle and eyes with one paw while pulling up her jeans and underwear with the other, dragging the garments along her front rather than her back. This was the part where she would normally be sent to the corner bare beneath the tail at the very least, making sliding her jeans and underwear to where they could be button-able while her skin was still scorching a terribly tender proposition.

She at least had a few moments to be gentle and continue calming down, with Emily taking her leave and asking for her to come downstairs when she was ready – still with that reassuring, motherly tone that made the trip not sound at all like a punishment, though the welts she carried sure would be. They were treated like a teaching tool, whacked soundly into her. Within her lonesome and still so disappointed with herself, just for once wishing she could do better, Kayla stood still and rubbed beneath her tail with an idle massage, just to make the sniffles go away before doing anything. She’d have to sit to put her shoes and socks on, or so she figured, but when that proved far too uncomfortable to tolerate; like a sharp rock being ground into her sit-spot; the fox got creative and leaned her lower back against the foot of her bed, where she just days ago felt like an older woman atop Jacob. It was awkward to lift her footpaws into the air to do such a task, but it hurt so much less, being spry and crafty as the vulpine girl could be. With a deeper thump of a footfall compared to the quiet cushion of her pads, shoes tamping the carpet, Kayla pulled her pink Kindern data-pad out of her desk, snapped its casing back together, and left her bedroom without making anyone wait for her. It hurt, and her eyes still fought terribly hard to water, but she would be alright by the time she got to the mall; the realistic view of an ex-Penitatas, mixed with the optimism that was purely her.

With the careful sort of step she always had when going down the stairs after being freshly spanked, stiffening her hips and waddling from step to step oddly; tail rigid; there was a colorfully dressed man on his knees just around the corner at the bottom waiting for her. Dressed in his casual Friday button-down Hawaiian shirt, new travel mug on the carpet with a wisp of fresh steam coming from its drinking-spout to match, Alex held his arms out to request a hug. Both faces looking so terribly apologetic, Kayla and her father saved one another the bother of saying those apologies aloud; the sore young fox giving the man that waited for her a warm, solid embrace of her arms and the touch of her muzzle to his shoulder. They were two peas in a pod, and neither wanted hard feelings for the things they both felt like they had done to the other.

And, before they all went out the front door, Emily graciously took the gold and sapphire necklace from its luxurious jewelry box and accepted Kayla’s prior offer to let her help put it on; joining Alex in kneeling on the floor, bringing the trio into the circle of family the fox hoped for from the beginning. There was something about flinching to the loud, snappy sound of a yardstick reverberating across the house, in making them all want to accommodate and be good to one another. The necklace wouldn’t yet be returned, and while it felt almost scary to wear something so expensive, Emily wanted to do her part in offering the same gesture Alex did, to heal some of the glum aura they placed their daughter in. Having changed to some of her nicer clothes before coming downstairs, Emily actually blushed slightly in the mirror before ushering her family out the door, honestly loving the cheery beauty of what Kayla got her, even if she felt awfully guilty over the thought of even suggesting she’d sure like to keep the thing the young rejuve’s fingers so proudly put around her neck.

Back out into the sunny skies that followed Callet’s days of rain, Kayla climbed into the family hover-car’s backseat and huffed a growling, groaning whine to herself as she settled in to buckle up, struck with the same freshly punished pains that hit her when she tried to put her shoes on like a normal person. She tried leaning forward, and when that didn’t work, she tried just using the toes of her shoes, but her short stature didn’t let that work well enough either, forcing her to whimper under her breath in frustration she didn’t have a pillow to sit on. Truth be told, Emily would have offered her one if she thought it was safe for a hover-car trip, but it would be short enough that sitting on those smoldering cherry ribbons wouldn’t do much more than sting her eyes. The low, bass-leaning drone of their anti-gravity engine coming up to RPM, controls lighting green for Alex up front, its automated navigation was told where to go and their liftoff began like an expedient chauffeur; the man sampling his coffee, in simply needing to babysit the controls.

It’s going to just be you and me at the mall honey by the way. I’m sending your father off on an errand, and while this is going to sound bad, I promise it’s not because of what you did today.”, Emily turned around from the front passenger seat, pulling Kayla’s still-reddened eyes from the window beside her as they made altitude and joined the lower-speed local airway to merge into the city’s more populated traffic. The gesture Alex and Emily made to show their appreciation for her gifts was surely helpful in getting her to loosen the melancholy air about her, but her lingering sting and ache didn’t help her suppress the worried look her mother’s statement made.

He’s bringing some coffee because he’ll be busy for a while, paying the wood worker you made your big girl paddle with a visit. I need a new one for you.”, she announced, sunlight brightly reflected off the stone dangling from her neck in the car’s bank toward the skyscrapers of downtown Calleet. Very much not a good thing to hear, Kayla frowned and folded her ears back with a tip of her head, intentionally looking sorry as a means of asking why her mom felt that was needed. What kind of new paddle?

Oh hun, don’t make that face.”, Emily had to sigh a little, wanting to make it clear it was not a punishment.

Your big girl paddle is very harsh. It was made for bruising and blistering a Penitatas fast and hard, and while I can swing it softer than that, it would still be really severe. On the other hand, your old painted paddle is from your first Christmas with us, when you were still six. It’s worn, but more importantly, it’s too small and thin for you at your age. I couldn’t even imagine relying on it today. It’s no good for anything beyond doling simple reminders, and I need a paddle I can turn to under more circumstances. Alex is going to commission a thicker, bigger one to match an eight-and-a-half year old Completatas who sometimes just needs a little help.”, the explainer Emily was at the core of her disciplinarian mind put to words that wouldn’t sound rough or punitive, wanting Kayla to understand that having consequences and getting spanked was sometimes just a part of growing up – especially for her, when she had far more to learn than an average rejuvenated adult.

It was a convincing argument, and it left Kayla to nod her head acceptantly. Now that Christmas wasn’t a punishment holiday for her to get paddles on, Emily had no reason to wait to upgrade if one was so desperately needed. She’d likely get several more as she continued growing, eventually seeing ones tailored for teenagers as she got up there in years. It was the stricter sort of parenting her mother and father were trusted to give to not let her go astray, and the repentant fox always accepted its place in having guided her here from the person she once was. If she was to be honest, the two dozen strokes of the old paddle Alex gave her the other week for her temper wasn’t that bad. A tear-jerker, but so was someone’s hand; neither were going to leave too lasting a mark.

The trip not taking more than a few brief minutes, Kayla was happy to unbuckle and hop out of the hover-car to join her mother while Alex waved; landing struts lifting to leave them until he could return, paddle in hand. The errand given to him by Emily was almost intended to be a punishment, even if the pony-tailed woman didn’t say so. If he wanted to be a hard nose and hurt Kayla’s feelings, he could fetch a paddle that would hurt the cute bundle of generous fur more literally, she figured – maybe make him more hesitant to jump headlong into a fit of negative reinforcement without thinking, as unused to it as he was.

The entryway to the Calleet Mall was filled with a ton of people as it normally was, and within, a sprawling expanse of corridors and shops; sky-lighting above with white columns and marbled jade green tiles. It had become popular to offer large amounts of stores and services in central locations over the past few hundred years, giving the populous more reason to get up and out instead of ordering everything off their technological devices – happy to offer ways for customers to try out products, and encourage their patronage.

Leading the way, Emily decided she’d take Kayla to the store she bought most of her things from, to get an idea of what her fur-care products cost and what shopping for herself would be like. Like clockwork, now that Kayla’s fur colors brought the attention of eyes so easily to recognize her, people started thanking her and congratulating on her parole on the way by as the pair had grown accustomed to; the young Aspatrian a positive icon in the city after all she had done. Surely her jeans were giving her cane welts a terribly scratchy rub as she walked, and Emily could see the tension beneath her girl’s eyes from her punishment making her pay those dues, but the fox still tried to put on a smile for others and be quite kind in return, putting that social butterfly inside of her to work.

By the time they were in the pearly white atmosphere of their first store and Kayla’s pink data-pad was in her paws to comply with Emily’s instructions and lesson, the fox’s muzzle was curling a little from the constant scrape of denim. It was uncomfortable for sure, but Kayla was a tough thing as she was so called, and wasn’t about to have a frustrated tantrum over it. A table on her data-pad’s screen was filling with the names of things and how many credits they cost as if doing a report; something she never paid attention to as a Penitatas, so detached from the realm of her mom buying things, even if they were used exclusively by her. Shown what some common things were, by the time they got to her fur-soap, Kayla winced, finding it to be the most expensive thing on the typical shopping list. Considering Emily had been buying it for her since she arrived in her home, that made her feel a tad guilty, not knowing her mom used her P.J.D stipend for such things until now. The two hadn’t really spoken other than to give and receive directions with Kayla’s tanned backside keeping her diligent to her assigned work, but something that had been nagging Emily made her speak up as the two snaked their way through the aisles.

You know, there’s a lesson I don’t want you to take from all this.”, she spoke up out of the blue, getting a flick of an Aspatrian ear before a tip of a muzzle and eye away from the pocket-sized kid’s data-pad.

Your credits are yours’, and I want you to know you’re very much allowed to buy things. My only job is to make sure you don’t spoil yourself, or do anything dangerous or foolhardy with your assets. What I mean to say, is don’t be shy about asking me if you can get something – I don’t plan to clutch that pin and never let you use any of it. Our next stop is the toy store in fact, so you can get a feel for what the typical toys you like cost.”, Emily spoke to the worry that was bothering her, not wanting Kayla to think her account was off-limits; she just needed to vet and protect what she had from any mistakes… like buying a 22,000 credit necklace without even grasping that was a ton of currency. Bringing up the toy store made that look of careful concern turn more to a smile though, using a tone as if to encourage Kayla to stretch her newfound freedom and do some shopping. She knew it could be the best part of their lesson too, considering these wouldn’t be necessities, but things Kayla liked; things like what does a gaming console cost, and the titles to play on them.

Passing by the candy rack near the exit, Kayla and her casually following tail stumbled to an odd halt – figuring on her own to record what the chocolate she liked from the gift baskets Starfleet officers left for her in San Francisco cost. For what was to be a guided lesson, the fox was starting to be inquisitive on her own in learning about how the world valued a credit, like a little business woman. While that should have made Emily smile, if not be outwardly elated, it made her frown a little on the inside. Goodness did that bundle of fur try, even when things didn’t go well.

“… And if you don’t pick anything, I’m going to buy you something myself anyway. I’m really sorry about how today went for you, and if I’m going to take away your privileges and leave you with just your toy chest, I should really put something in there better suited for you.”, Emily let her own intentions be clear, knowing quite well the toy chest she made years ago was for a Penitatas; Kayla deserving of far more, and not having gone out to spend money on herself despite becoming exceptionally wealthy. The fact Kayla had a trove of credits didn’t mean Emily couldn’t still buy her a toy on her own too, especially after having her feelings hurt.

Considering it was a kind thing to say, it got a calm yet brighter smile from the young fox, finally being able to feel better and relax with their outing; tender backside and scratchy legs or not. It was lovely to see that necklace around Emily’s neck, getting to feel like her daughter with the maternal way she had been treating her.

Maybe one of those really big sports hover-cars, where the doors open and you can get to the engine and everything!”, the tom-boy she was immediately mused aloud with a spreading of her arms and upward toss of her tail, pink pad clutched in her right paw; having always admired the huge die-cast vehicles with tons of lights and detail. Now that was something a ‘penny never got! She knew – cause she tried!

There you go! Try to think of some things to go with it, and see how many credits things are while you look.”, Emily brought out some of that motherly elation her pangs of guilt were holding back, cheering on her little Completatas in a new mission for the day. She’d be able to have plenty of fun on her floor if Emily could help it.

Back out into the main walkway of the Calleet Mall, snaking its curved length through different intersections and branches, Emily traversed the occasional raised planter bed and kiosk like she knew the place like home; quite the shopping sort of woman, in her direct route to take Kayla to a much more fun store. Passing by the food court, looking around with that pad in her paws, Kayla wagged her bushy tail and walked backwards and sideways at times, squinting at boards to examine prices, jotting down a thing or two that struck her as being important on her quest to define the value of a credit.

Soon in a much more colorful place geared for Kindern and rejuvenated children alike, the mall’s major toy store was fairly large compared to some of the other shops in order to span the broad gauntlet of the various age groups; be it developmental or a person’s second time around. Typical toys, electronic devices, mature hobbies re-geared for young hands – there was surely something to be found for every person whom was young at heart in their place in life. It was always a nice thing for Kayla to step into, and one she wasn’t always allowed on every trip to the mall. Being a place for Kindern as well as rejuves, it wasn’t exactly “Penitatas friendly” compared to other parts of the mall, and she would have needed to be on an exceptional behavior streak to be remotely allowed near real kids intentionally – a reality of simply being a Penitatas, and the things their parents were required to do for the safety of those whom can’t defend themselves. Earth cherished its new little lives after all, with them being hard to come by with their overpopulation and parenting license system. Being a repentant and decent person didn’t always erase the fact she was incarcerated, with a prisoner number tucked into a court database.

With the welcoming of silver ‘C’s beneath her orange fur, stepping through the wide open front of the store got an encouraging pat to Kayla’s back from Emily’s hand. The mother would look through the sorts of things she could find for her growing daughter, knowing what she liked, and Kayla would have free reign to roam the store to find new things beyond her old Penitatas norm and learn a thing or two. Enough time having passed for her spanking to have cooled off some, welts and underlying ache aside, Kayla’s legs were at least not silently roasting any longer, granting her a far bigger smile. If anything, as resilient as children were; the fox especially; Emily would have thought nothing bad even happened today as the old hermit literally became the kid in a toy store. That young attention span granted her a break from worrying about her mistake, and what came of her good intentions. Data-pad dangling from her vulpine fingers, tail swaying, she wandered off past the wide oval enclosed play-space the store had up front for kids to try out things before pestering their parents to buy them; or in a rejuve’s case, bug them to authorize it from their own savings. The place had to be filled with dozens of children from all walks of life running across its red checkered carpet, and while Kayla had been strictly taught not to run amok in such a place, the fox certainly welcomed a little bounce and scurry to her step.

Video games had to be the first stop, even if she couldn’t play the damn things because… reasons. The pink pad duly noted the entire menagerie for future reference, and to likely mope over later.

Secondly, cars and action figures! She was the only girl on the aisle aside from one other, sharing a greeting with another rejuve of her own breed – even if she wore a denim skirt, only half looking the part. Seeing how much those giant metal replica hover-cars with full moving lights and parts cost, comparing it to her fur soap, Kayla showed a few fangs. She couldn’t let Emily buy that in good conscience, no wonder a Penitatas would never hope to see such a thing. They were more expensive than three video games even! Value was… confusing. Maybe because they were basically models at that point?

Oh – wait. They had real working miniaturized hover engines, and she could sail it around the room just by nudging it if she wanted. Hell yes she was getting that.

She swung by the rejuve hobby section to see what more she could find, which ended up being far cooler than she imagined since it lacked the name “toy.” They were still toys – just grownup toys! Kayla found a lab set that looked a whole lot like Jacob’s, settled by other sets representing other professions. Engineering tools for small hands; electrical and mechanical, broken into various boxes. Some of the “build your own” sets sounded far too awesome to not try, but the really neat ones involving lasers and more volatile propulsion engines were labeled for teenagers and up; more typical Voluntarus, not some Completatas that got lucky and was paroled young. Even Jacob was technically too young for his lab set, but try telling that to an experienced physician as old as he was when he knew how to give such particularly commanding glares. Perhaps Medicalos got some wiggle room, but the fox could vividly imagine being told she couldn’t build a tiny impulse drive in her bedroom. Oh well, at least she had her old girl back to sate her need for a mature hobby.

And while Kayla made her way back around the store to find Emily, hoping to see what was okay for her to buy, she didn’t make it back to her mother before stopping to accommodate a request.

In the midst of her human guardian trying to pick out the perfect little gift to give to her daughter for her generosity, wanting to rectify her punitive sort of bare-bones toy chest, Emily caught Kayla in different kind of act of generosity. She stumbled upon the young Aspatrian sitting on her knees with the heels of her shoes off to the sides of her bottom, purposely dealing with her lower thigh lash rather than the base of her rear as she humored two little Kindern girls that thought she was pretty with all her fur, and asked her to sit down and play with them. The two humans were about the fox’s physical age, sharing a girl’s beauty set; one brushing Kayla’s fur, and the other… painting her claws. Pink, of all colors. And, despite, from the vantage point Emily had from behind, hidden from Kayla’s keen hearing by the bustle all around her, the girl looked nothing more than pleased, holding out her paw for the seven year old Kindern in a blue and white checkered dress while her friend not-so-gently brushed the fur on the back of her head. To see someone who was a hermit and a Penitatas less than a month ago be drawn to kids like a magnet brought Emily to a thoughtful, smiling pause to watch.

You’re a grownup-kid, but… what does the ‘C’ mean?”, the little girl giving the fox’s trimmed and preened ebony claws a light brushing asked; voice sounding so much younger than a rejuve’s with the way a true child rolled their syllables about, looking over the paw she was making “cuter.” They knew only those with ‘K’s were real kids like them and everyone else was once an adult, taught such things very early, but Kayla’s classification wasn’t one they were familiar with – and the subject being a prickly one, at that.

It means I did bad things and I got punished – but I’m forgiven, and I’m one of the good guys now.”, Kayla’s ears remained quite pert in calmly thinking of a light and kind way to explain what a Completatas was without going into the crime, imprisonment, and painful parts. The way she spoke was so soft, drawing from a motherly instinct she had within; the sort that came out long ago when she joined in Dianne’s discipline, or thought to give her own rapist a slice of their birthday cake to add a kind note to what was a dismal day for Stephanie.

Did you get a ‘spankin?”, the girl replied as an amused, teasing sort of a question to the word ‘punished’. Kayla ‘snrk!’ed, while Emily tightened the ends of her mouth into a sheepish smile – both girls knowing the answer to that first hand.

You bet I did.”, Kayla gave her ears a backward flick, making a cute sort of face for the young ones she was spending a moment with; thinking to be expressive and animated for them, as well as partly honest, so they’d know what being naughty gets them.

Unfortunately for that playful look and the movement of her ears, the little Kindern lass that was brushing her fur wasn’t the most coordinated, and she right away took a bit of a smack to her sensitive Aspatrian ear with the broad, pink brush that made Emily deeply flinch. It was Kayla’s left ear – the one Tyson shattered, leaving her unable to so much as tug anymore without scaring the utter hell out of the poor fox.

Ooo’p!”, the girl elicited from her mouth at her accident, as Kayla’s muzzle curled. But, in that coming second, all she did was close her eyes and swallow, folding her ears back before returning them to their tall, skyward positions.

I’m okay! How about my tail next?”, the fox tipped her muzzle, bringing her tail around from the seat of her jeans toward her side with a lift of it’s white tip, enticing the girl she was humoring with longer and more lush strands than the short head-fur she had. She still smiled, and didn’t even want the child to know it hurt.

Emily hummed inside her mind, turning around just as a Drakonian toddler clumsily scampered over with a claw-stamping stride to show Kayla a red fox plush – happily announcing ‘Fox’ee!’ in his awkward reptilian squee to be told he did a good job. It seemed Kayla would be busy for a spell, giving the mother the perfect opportunity to grab the toy she wanted to get in order to make it a surprise, just as Kayla herself tried to do with the gift giving. It was heartwarming and thought provoking to see Kayla gravitate to playing with and taking care of young Kindern like that, letting them go as far as to paint the claws she so diligently polished. Her daughter was still very much a girl, she loved those claws and spent time making them that nice. Kayla just had a more rugged and natural vision of what beauty was, if you looked past some of her more boyish inclinations to see what she viewed femininity as. At least Emily could finally teach how to remove nail polish, even if she’d never be able to talk her special little fox into something like a play-dress she could join in playing pretend with her with. She liked the sound of “Magical Hacker, Princess Ackart”, even if saying such a thing out loud would likely make her muzzle redder and hotter than her sit-spot at the moment. Tea at noon, so she could write a malicious program save the world by one. It was one of the reasons she tried to get Kayla to tolerate dresses and skirts, aside from the convenience of disciplining her as a Penitatas – that ball of fur did look pretty, despite not feeling it.

In heading back to the aisle she needed, Emily fetched the particular item she knew Kayla would enjoy at her age with just a few moments to settle on a color. That toy chest surely still needed a lot of work, but it was a pleasant start. With the tap of a card and a quick entry of a few digits, the box was in a big bag and ready to go for a little gift-giving of her own; full of such perky cheer with so many people quite obviously staring at her sapphire necklace. Certain she could make the day better for everyone after what happened, Alex’s emotional error or not, Emily returned to Kayla thinking of how she mentioned wanting to start a family the day she was paroled. Completatas made great babysitters in a Penitatas district, and while she was a bit too little still, perhaps she could start learning-…

The mother mused, until her gears stopped. Standing on red checkered carpet beside the cream, elongated oval of the play space at the front of the toy store, the gathering of Kindern and Kayla had dispersed. Bag in her hand, surrounded by the loud sounds of the mall and the kids nearby, Emily curled a brow and stepped along the aisles, checking down them all for the telltale orange of fur, but she made it all the way to the other end of the store without seeing so much as a strand.

Emily’s chest tightened, spinning back around with a thump of the bag she carried.

Kayla?”, she called out wearily and with worry.

Feet picking up their pace, she went out the wide open entrance to the store and into the noise of the main corridor of the mall; trees standing tall from ornate planters at intersections and rest points, accented by the low sound of music and a sea of people. Not one of them had fur. Emily grit her teeth, with her mind not thinking Kayla having run off being the most likely of things. It wouldn’t have been like her, and she knew better! And while she began looking in haste, thinking something more sinister occurred, there was an exception to that she wasn’t aware of. One thing that would make a motherly vulpine smile fade from her seat with a group of Kindern, and her jaw to part the lips of her muzzle with a spark of curious urgency, upon crossing her sight.

A tail.

Looking out the front of the shop, down the grand hallway the three-way intersection in front of the store made, Kayla had seen something orange, with a white tip. Spotted far down the way in a brief splitting of the slew of people walking, it was a small Aspatrian tail, and it didn’t look like Stephanie’s. There were only two of her kind in all of Calleet, with Kayla being one of them. It seemed that may not have been the case any longer, and in her shock and excitement, told the girls that she played with to let her mother know she wasn’t running off – even before literally running off, quite unaware that Kindern children of their age were not reliable message delivery vehicles, and did not stay put to let Emily know where she had gone.

With a full set of uncharacteristically pink claws, Kayla bound and weaved through the crowd past the pungent smells and sounds of shops, tail swung and streaming, trying to again find the other tail she saw – desperately hoping it wasn’t a trick of her eyes or mind. She and Stephanie knew one another for the darkest of reasons, despising that tiny cretin no matter how much she forgave and moved past that horror. If there was another Aspatrian that wasn’t such a grotesque product of their home-world, she’d be more than happy to be less alone in the fur she wore, as rare as Aspatrians were on Earth, even if she only got to shake their paw; that budding social butterfly taking flight.

Slipping through people with wiry prowess, starting to irritate the backs of her own legs again accidentally in her young strides; denim ruffling her fur like sandpaper; she began to lose hope until she merely turned her head around the corner of one of the mall’s ornate, tall planters. Just as abruptly as she first saw that bushy Aspatrian appendage, it was right in front of her, dangling from a dark red pair of cotton shorts; the stature of a fairly young child. It even had a gray-black gradient upon the top of its base, adding darker fur where Kayla didn’t normally associate it, with a plain black t-shirt resting against that spot of orange-less color. Even their paws and down their forearms were black, and black upon their legs from his calves to beyond their shoes, forming vulpine socks and sleeves. Standing upon the jade tile beside that taller planter bed the mall was decorated with, a pair of small, fully black ears pivoted; the head they were attached to turning to reveal an orange muzzle, and a very dark blue eye pointed her way with a look of surprise, standing there as they were. The fur atop their head not spiky and long as Kayla’s own, it almost looked combed, thinner and more boyish – quite looking that of a young Aspatrian boy, only about as big as when Kayla was six, and fresh from the rejuvenator. The pair shared the same quiet stare for a moment, with Kayla’s paws clutched near her chest as if not knowing what to say to the shorter, smaller fox.

Va’sk?”, came from the boy’s muzzle, spoken unusually softly for the harsher sounds of the Aspatrian language, and with a questioning ring to it – clearly not having expected to say ‘Hi?’ in his native tongue today, tail hanging idle.

Kayla curled her muzzle into an almost shy smile, flicking the white tip of her tail. Goodness did she hate hearing Aspatrian, but the way the boy said it made it not sound so bad. Stephanie made it feel full of spite, long associated in her mind with pain and suffering, but this was little more than a calm greeting.

Va’sk.”, Kayla affirmed with a chipper ring to it, muddying her syllables a tad considering her knowledge of the language was that of a five-year-old’s.

Though, before Kayla could launch into a giddy flurry of words in welcoming another Aspatrian to the fine city of Calleet, that big smile and suddenly beaming eyes dulled. The boy’s paws were clutched nervously, and over his shoulder in his body’s partial turn, that dark eye of his looked wet and shiny from the natural light above; seeming meek, and with a weight upon him that made him outwardly apprehensive. She should have noticed that just by seeing how dead his tail was, Kayla thought, but she didn’t catch the very body language her own body made from time to time, so used to reading humans at this point. With a loosening of her muzzle and the face she carried, the girl took a step forward, keeping those paws to her chest.

Ra’ vol?”, her tongue had to try and recall how to form words from decades ago, asking her question slowly to get the sounds right; tone feminine and gentle in asking ‘What’s wrong?’. She could say ‘Tak domai!’ as good as she ever could, but it had been so long since she actually used her race’s language, it felt like a struggle.

The Aspatrian boy turned around, showing the white of his chest went all the way up his neck from the collar of his simple shirt; muzzle showing an expression that had become a mixture of curious, as well as sadly troubled. His dark blue eyes anxiously locked upon the backs of Kayla’s paws with the way she held them, and after a moment his ears seemed to become more erect. Suddenly becoming a little more animated looking despite his being unable to smile, the shorter, smaller boy took a step forward and raised his right paw to point at his fellow fox’s silver ‘C’s she carried. Immediately Kayla flinched sympathetically on the inside as a silver, filled in ‘P’ was so prominently displayed in his gesture to her own classification, looking all too familiar under an Aspatrian coat, even if their color was different.

Tik’ para Penitatas, ka’? Pak est’en re’ golra, ra’ une pa’ une?”, blurted from the six year old fox’s muzzle rather quickly, stumbling in a haste that made the words too difficult for Kayla to decipher, not even being sure she knew all of them with her level of vocabulary; the word Penitatas aside. Kayla’s muzzle stiffened right away in her lack of understanding, shaking her head.

Are you able to speak any panglish? Bara’ne Aspatria’ – tak volmare’.”, her ears went back in her attempt to see if he could speak in a way she could better understand, grasping that the boy was in distress of some sort with the way he was speaking with those big, damp eyes. She tried to say her Aspatrian was poor, but her lack of solid knowledge made it come out as simply ‘Bad Aspatrian, I’m sorry.’

To it, the boy sighed roughly, loosening the upward point of his ears; surrounded by noise and a constantly moving crowd. With a faint hang of his head, he lifted it and tried talking again, slowing down his speech and thinking more of what he needed to convey if her knowledge of her kind’s own tongue was that bad. The question was too jumpy, even if the female before him did end up grasping what he said.

I’ve lost my new parents. I can’t find them, and I don’t know what to do.”, the reasons for the young, apparently fresh Penitatas’ worries became readily apparent with his squirming body language and how he gestured with his paws, sounding far more boyish without the harsh, punchy accents of the Aspatrian language.

Your letter, it means you were a Penitatas once too, right? Please help me – what can I do to not get my ass beat for this?”, he pressed in worry in regard to saving his tail from his accident, looking rather rattled where he stood, and desperate. The way his tail tucked close with the expressions on his muzzle, seeing how his ears and whiskers could move in discomfort amid describing his plight, Kayla fell into a teeth-gritting expression of understanding.

Heel of her shoe pivoting with a slide on the waxed green, marbled sort of tile beneath her feet, Kayla looked around quickly to see if there was anyone else nearby searching for someone. Looking back the way she came, toward the mall’s biggest toy store, her haste for the younger boy slowed with a similarly painful realization. The crowd was so thick, and the store so far, she could hardly see down to it. What brief glimpses she could manage, included no humans with Emily’s hair and clothing colors, when she should have been able to see her at least somewhere. Kayla’s muzzle cracked into an uneasy, similar frown to the boy’s own, and even without an adult there to see it, the black tips of her ears went straight back against her head in an expression of deep, terrible apology.

She had done wrong, once again.

“… I’m afraid you’re screwed. So am I.”, Kayla turned her head back to him beside her, speaking low, quiet, and melancholy for both of their sakes. It was a painful thing to suddenly feel inside her, but she was in just as much trouble as this poor guy, Completatas or not, for what she just did in losing her mother; blatantly breaking rules even typical rejuves followed. Emily had been so understanding, and so outright loving today, and she went and did this to her like a god-awful brat. That surely didn’t make the more colorfully furred six year old Aspatrian any happier, adopting a similar stance with his own ears; a sigh cutting through his ebony nose, whimpering a tiny bit with all the uncertainty and fear he faced.

The ends of Kayla’s maw crooking into a stiffer frown, tipping her muzzle and seeing the worry across this quiet boy’s face, she felt like the least she could do was to be there for him, and be his guardian for the time being. He was not in a safe place without an adult at his side, and she didn’t want him running off any further in some hair-brained scheme to find his parents in the overpopulated maze of the city’s most sprawling shopping complex. Setting her personal problems aside, Kayla turned toward the gray-white stone of the tall planter bed beside them and jumped up with a graceful swish of her tail, grabbing hold of the ledge with her paws. It being tucked into the middle of the walkway, two trees sticking up from it with benches and seating all around, her shoes scuffed against the rough face of it in climbing up to take a seat; the boy below looking even more worried.

Should you be doing that?”, his paws came up timidly, asking fairly casually and roughly despite. Tossing her bushy tail behind herself to rest upon the indoor tree’s roots, Kayla right away leaned forward and offered her paw to him.

Walking around with those ‘P’s and no adults at your side looks very bad. If someone thinks you’re fleeing and eluding, you could end up in cuffs before you find them, and I don’t want to see you in Penitatas Court. This is one of those times we stay put, and make ourselves visible.”, the older fox provided her guidance with a sprinkling of the things she had learned, grasping what needed to be done in a place like the Calleet Mall. The two of them were orange, black and white beacons – becoming taller than the adults walking by was the best thing they could do in hope of being found, wanting to protect the weary Penitatas from discovering what would happen should his wandering efforts end badly.

The boy was hesitant, but only for a second. She was pretty persuasive for a girl, if perhaps a tad overstepping what would be alright for a woman back on Aspatria, but this sure wasn’t Aspatria, and she was as much a woman as he was a man any longer. Besides, that new, immature six-year-old half of his mind thought getting to sit someplace higher would be fun, and he really didn’t want to be in this mess of people alone any longer. With a rougher kick of his new digitigrade-tailored shoes against the wall, orange paws pulled a black one; a small fox tail thrashing in effort until he got his body up onto the ledge and could sit down beside his fellow Aspatrian.

I have a habit of pacing, and guess I accidentally… just stopped paying attention. No one else really looked at me because of my letter, so I’m glad you thought to check on me.”, the boy explained, considering he surely didn’t mean to be fleeing anyone. As it was, he had been wandering half-ignored, with no one seeming to want to say anything to him with his silver ‘P’s prominent against his black fur. Settling the seat of his shorts on the wall, sitting on a tender spot the same as Kayla was; tolerating it quietly, as if she deserved it at this point; the young vulpine ‘penny settled his paws into his lap and turned his head to speak with the girl who did, out of everyone, stop to help.

I’m Zach.”, Zachary introduced of himself, trying to smile at least a little, despite the lump in his throat extending all the way to his belly. Kayla was quite familiar with those old Penitatas fetters, as tough as that life could be.

I’m Kayla. Unless you recognized me already? Packet-Storm and all?”, the friendly social butterfly returned in reply, lifting her right paw in gesture; ears tall beneath a welcoming smile, to at least keep her younger companion comfortable until their parents could spot them. Though, despite having become so used to being identified by strangers, Zach simply squinted a little.

I don’t think we’ve met before.”, he responded questioningly, which got the girl beside him to make a slightly surprised face. He didn’t even know of her alias? That would have been a heck of a story to drop on him, and she was more interested in how he was doing, alone and glum in such a place.

So you’re new to being a ‘penny I take? Do you know your sentence – how many cycles you got and stuff?”, Kayla thought to strike up conversation, trying to be cheerful as the motherly side of herself wanted to encourage the younger fox to relax. She was an ex-Penitatas and knew what he was going through, after all. Zach hummed with a six year old’s higher sort of pitch.

I was taken into cus-… um, arrested two weeks ago. Took a plea deal. Five cycles, from six to eleven.”, her fellow fox’s muzzle stumbled over the panglish word ‘custody’, needing to abandon it for an easier choice in detailing the 5x6-11 Penitatas sentence he was delivered. Kayla’s face tightened a bit, showing the tips of her vulpine teeth in the expression she came to make. She didn’t need the data-pad in her pocket for that math – that was a twenty five year sentence, when even the notorious bitch Packet-Storm was only got twelve years. Even the two years and handful of days Kayla served were hell enough. Zach was still in his first month though, and Kayla distinctly remembered how often Emily spanked her during that introduction period, adjusting her to a hard timer’s life. That was normal for everyone, no matter how good they were; something needed for both parent and child to feel safe, no matter how much they had to cry to realize “this was life”, now.

I’m surprised I haven’t seen you in school then, even if you’d be in first grade and not my own. Didn’t do anything too bad, did you?”, Kayla questioned with a probing note to her tone, as well as a dash of sympathy, considering she too made poor choices in the past. Zach made a face, looking down at the tops of people’s heads walking by their feet.

I served on an Aspatrian pirate vessel. It’s how I got off our planet. I’ve been told I’m… not adjusting well, to being a Penitatas here on Earth. I’m under the impression they don’t want me in school yet. I also don’t understand some bigger panglish words, unless they’re related to starship engineering.”, the boy seemed to share with apprehension and a heavy heart, not sounding particularly proud of the profession he was likely charged for, nor the difficulty he had in the life he started anew under a strict roof. A Penitatas stepped right out of the rejuvenator and into the fire, shown their new home and welcomed into it with their first taste of punitive sting rather promptly.

The whole… Penitatas thing just hurts too much. I don’t know how they expect me to lay still and just take it.”, Zach’s muzzle curled at its base, showing his fangs in his lower sort of growling gripe above the people he stared at; quite clearly showing why he was considered “not adjusting well.” He didn’t sound like he was doing as told, or cooperating in a way that would permit him to go to school until better settled into being a hard time Penitatas. That sort of attitude did make Kayla extend her maw along her muzzle, as if to give the boy a look.

My first word of advice then would be to listen to your parents and follow their rules. It’s a second chance, but you do need to show them you’re sorry for what you did.”, Kayla spoke up for the Penitatas Justice System, considering it did let her reintegrate into society – even if she was not her own biggest fan at the moment, and exceptionally tired of her nonsense, sitting on this wall with her mother left in the dust somewhere looking for her. Zach scoffed roughly, sounding like the traditional Aspatrian ‘kah!’, spat loosely off his childish tongue.

I’ve already shown them that I had all the remorse in the world. I keep getting punished on top of the last punishment, and I don’t exactly have much of a pain tolerance.”, his words came out with a bit more energy, sounding frustrated with his situation as his soft little smile slipped away from his muzzle. A six year old rejuve’s mind could be a tumultuous place, and truth be told, he was quite the wimp. He knew it, and wasn’t even the sort to be ashamed of it.

Under stress, back on my ship, I’d just shove whatever finger-cakes we had in my mouth and crawl into a bulkhead to relax for a while… listen to my plasma conduits, stoned half out of my mind.”, the boy’s black paws squeezed in his lap in memory of how he’d relax, now unable to flee in such a way, stiffening up in discomfort. It all made Kayla puzzled; a pair of Aspatrian tails sliding against tree and dirt, unsure of how to still themselves.

Finger what?”, she purposely looked befuddled for clarification, wondering if that was some strange dessert item. Zach groaned faintly, head slumping with a defeated look across his face.

A pill. A drug. Goodness, it’s one of the only fun things to do on our planet – how do you not know that, or even be able to grasp your own people’s tongue?”, Zach’s right paw came up with an expressive flick, jumping through his words with almost a faint underlying effeminate sort of tone to how he said panglish expressions like ‘goodness’. Though the explanation made sense, Kayla still had to dismiss the whole thing.

I escaped Aspatria on a ship when I was five, as an orphan. All I remember is it being red, dirty… and being taught to say phrases like ‘kitah lo’ cobol’.”, the older of the pair added her own gruff note of annoyance in regard to their home-world, knowing quite well that someone who lived there much longer would understand the words that came out of her mouth. It did make Zach’s muzzle droop, and his eyes briefly avert from her face. The phrase was basically a crude epithet for sexual acts, asking for cobalt in return; that sweet coin of theirs’ – the awful hell that made the smallest of kids try to survive on their own, on dangerous and filthy streets.

Volmare’. I had to say that a few times too.”, the boy sighed in his Aspatrian apology for what she went through, as common and painful as it was for orphans to do such things for food and water. Boys on an Aspatrian street weren’t taken advantage of though, he figured he’d omit. No one cared what happened to a small girl, and Zachary wasn’t the sort of Aspatrian to follow such damaged views of gender; one thing a crime to one, and ignored if occurred upon the other.

You were fortunate to pay for passage so young. I didn’t get off Aspatria until I was almost thirty, and that was only because of my trade-skill as a starship engineer.”, he instead rolled his response toward the positive, appreciating Kayla’s company.

I didn’t pay. Stowaway.”, Kayla let off her tongue with a loose chuckle afterward, while it made Zach’s muzzle snap to his side with the biggest of eyes and a total plastering of his black ears to his head.

They didn’t kill you?!”, the child he was snapped with restraint in both fear and amazement, with such a thing certainly meaning a gruesome death normally, and everyone knowing it. It kept the riff-raff away from the ships on the ground, but as it was, a tiny, brave little girl didn’t know any better. A bit of Kayla’s neck popped out upon learning what her fate would have been if she didn’t slip back off that cargo vessel, dirtying her blackened orange footpaws upon the dilapidated tarmac of far northern Calleet to find the protection of another illegal alien; cleaned up and given a blanket as she sniffled and whimpered in a foreign language, all before he didn’t wake up one morning soon after.

They were too busy doing other things to me. I got away.”, she added to her story more softly, really not liking talking about her rape so casually, as much as the subject kept coming up. There were distinct reasons she hated speaking and hearing Aspatrian, and had to be introduced to her own sexuality by a loving, gentle Karrian claw. It was actually starting to make her chest hurt, cutting into the friendly face she was putting on to comfort Zach.

Let’s forget that hell-hole. I raised myself here on Earth, and it’s all I want to remember.”, she turned her head more toward Zach with a tip of her muzzle, knowing well that she could be intimidating and firm without trying very hard; not wanting to be mean, but really hoping to stop walking down such a memory lane. It was met with a moment of silence, but an understanding up-and-down motion of a smaller orange muzzle.

“… But Zach, if you have remorse, why is this so hard? Shouldn’t some swashbuckling space-boy be able to take a paddle?”, Kayla decided to turn the tables and press buttons of her own, wanting to find out what would make a fresh Penitatas that was afraid of getting into painful situations disobey his new parents, or at least be so flighty as to wander away without paying them any mind. She liked space ships as toys just as much as other vehicles, and she did pretend to have the little ships be preyed upon by scary bad guys – it wasn’t the hardest thing for a growing girl to imagine.

Instead of a defiant ‘kah!’ of Aspatrian retort, Zach slumped in his seat, muzzle not recovering from its prior frown. His dark blue eyes stared off into the loud public bustle around them, and his black furred ears bent wearily at their bases, reminding Kayla of what a “sorry kit” looked like, and how she must have looked in a mirror when she was feeling regret.

I was the ship’s engineer. Nothing tough about me. I was a coward when we attacked anything, and I’d rather stay deep in that engine room of mine than see any of it.”, he painted the picture of a timid man that avoided conflict; surely no thug. He hardly seemed a pirate by that definition, especially as bothered by the subject as he sounded. A man who knew how to use his mind and his paws in quite the burly sort of trade, there was something oddly innocent and gentle about the six year old – contrasting too much against the mark of penance he wore upon his paws.

Twenty five years is a long sentence for someone that didn’t hurt people. What did you do, and how did you get caught doing it?”, Kayla’s brows curled above her brighter blue eyes, growing far more questioning as the boy appeared to be withholding information from their conversation, as meek and guilty as Zach appeared. It was met with a similar look, and nothing more than a brief pause.

We got caught, because I turned us in.”, Zach’s voice lowered, announcing his betrayal, and the fact he was a Penitatas of his own doing. That snapped Kayla’s brow-furling glare into a lighter one of shock, seeming even more confused. So that’s what Zach meant by having shown remorse already…

When I knew we were going to be passing by Earth to trade off cargo, I shared my finger-cake collection with the crew to make them all happy and stupid. With no one paying attention… or really understanding what I ever did anyway as the ship’s keeper, I disengaged all of the safety systems in main engineering and purposely overloaded our drive manifold. Made a pretty big ‘boom’.”, he continued with that low, serious tone. Though, after the notation of his self-imposed explosion, Zach let off an airy ‘heh’, dipping his ears back with a looser expression.

I did too good a job – almost sort of died.”, both of his index fingers came together, sounding more sheepish upon recollection of being within his own cone of destruction.

Ripped a big hole in my own engine room. Our cloaking field collapsed under the power failure, and while everyone was stoned and confused, a Federation vessel ‘greeted’ us in orbit. I couldn’t live with myself anymore, and that was my answer.”, the boy Zach had become described with the pain of his own shame, and while he surely did sound like a timid fox, what he did felt awfully brave to Kayla. The man he was knew that outer colonial security forces would have fired their weapons if they suddenly de-cloaked, and Starfleet would have held back – and there were a ton of their ships in orbit of Earth, protecting it while their defense platforms remained partly fouled from some pair of hacker’s squabble. He took charge in the way he knew how with his sharper sort of mind, and against people that wouldn’t have held back from killing him, should his plan have failed.

It worked, yet here his muzzle hung, looking sad and with no one in the world.

But… why five cycles? I thought… you said you got a deal?”, with a hushed, apprehensive voice did Kayla try to pry. Zach must have testified against the entire ship and detailed his sabotage, along with that regret and will to stop their crimes he had already demonstrated to her without hesitation.

With a worried lump invading Kayla’s chest, staring at the young boy at her side, Zach’s tail stopped upon the planter bed’s surface behind them in it’s flowing drape. His vulpine lips stiffened, and he granted Kayla a slight turn of his muzzle to place his dark, still seemingly damp eyes right upon her own, in that moment of simply the mall’s clamber around them. Uncomfortable, and with feelings that seemed to irk him, did he speak softly.

An engineer for a pirate frigate does more than tweak power conduits and tinker with engines.”, he duly noted of his work, and what you’d expect of an engineer.

“… I made the weapons work.”, that voice dipped to a sort of whisper, lips going taut like the six year old would make himself cry – words he had far more trouble saying, sharing what was in his heart and mind when these past many days were spent bottled and alone with parents he shared nothing with.

A pirate ship had guns, and they were his, just as Kayla’s “baby girl” was her own. Four Aspatrian ears folded, in that moment. Along with piracy, he had weapons charges; that vulpine attack vessel a gunship.

And we used them. Not for warning shots. I didn’t have to be the guy at the tactical station, to hurt and kill people. I knew what my efforts did, and I would rather hide in a bulkhead with my head in the clouds than face it, because that’s the kind of asshole I was until I put a stop to every single one of us.”, even such a young muzzle as Zach’s could bare his tiny sharp teeth and fangs in his agitated, self-hating grievance; jaw shaking faintly, just barely held back so he could speak, even if it made his panglish airy and of a higher pitch on the verge of his physical age’s tears. Still, he had to stop and make a sniff to control himself, struggling with that new brain of his.

Getting onto that pirate ship was his ticket off Aspatria and dying there, of course he’d take it! But… after so many years, the cost became too much to bear. Everything he made, or so much as touched, was used to harm others. It wasn’t who he was, and to leave it, he’d have to pay for it. He was willing, too – if only to quell what bubbled deep down inside of himself.

I’m sorry to the stars for what I did. We’d have been a pitiful ship, if I just neglected a few things. I put myself here on purpose, but that doesn’t change that I’m a wimp that runs away. I’d rather be drunk and hiding under the bed of my white-ass room.”, that stiff and deeply frowning muzzle swore harshly, pressing just how hard he wanted to curl up under his new bed like it was just another bulkhead on his now-scuttled vessel, pretending as if nothing bad was going on around him again; six year old mind and body or not. Zach’s muzzle parted to take a breath, having a hard time with his vulpine lips not cooperating with all the things he was feeling.

I’m… tiny. And scared.”, was the saddest, but most revealingly honest thing he had said.

Incredible remorse did not change the fact he was now six, and a self-professed pansy. Being sorry didn’t ease his fright, or how much it hurt to howl and cry these past two weeks.

But, for his quiet words and admission of such guilt, Zach was surprised by a touch of a paw upon his head, giving his ear a soothing, calming sort of pet. The tips of Kayla’s padded fingers brushed along the back of his ear in its fold, knowing from her own body what felt nice, even if she didn’t live under a red sky long enough to share in all the things Zach knew. Despite, Zach knew it to be the sort of thing a mother on their planet would do, trying to soothe an actual six year old. The look across her face had a tiny, warm smile, and a comforting aura about it.

Welcome to Earth.”, that muzzle of hers’ greeted, as if to thank him for what he did. Zach got to see for the first time what a forgiving sort the girl was, simply happy at the idea of there being one less pirate ship out there, and another person trying to right their wrongs. It might have been tough to fight his frown, but Zach’s tail lifted to sway slowly.

“… Val’tu.”, the black-eared boy thanked, experiencing the camaraderie a fellow Penitatas could bring, even if she had completed her penance; whatever this kind girl could have possibly done. It was nice to be understood and not judged, when all he had been was judged since… well, literally seeing a judge. That old cat that sentenced him was quite the hard-ass, and man did he pause too frequently for his liking.

Its just been really hard. I’m so happy to finally get to talk to someone.”, Zachary let out in his own relief, not having met any other rejuves yet. As an adult, while he avoided anything he disliked, he was still something of a party-fox, and surely needed people in his life – this terrible slip of losing his parents having one silver lining.

You get more used to it as time goes on. Got to keep some optimism, and always say you’re sorry.”, Kayla lowered her paw from Zach’s ear to pay note to how she tolerated and viewed being on the receiving end as a ‘penny, with that being the best advice she could give. It sure didn’t start easy.

It won’t be today or tomorrow, but it ends someday. When, depends on you.”, she too assured, patting the silver ‘C’ on the back of one paw; seeing as the Penitatas Justice System does give them an end-goal, and something to strive for beyond paying their punitive dues. A Penitatas was at the center of their own correction, and Kayla’s willingness to work to be a good person, and good Penitatas, was what got her to where she was today.

Kayla then let a huff out of her vulpine nose on that note, trying to look down the wide path they sat high in the middle of, hoping to see Emily so she could get her own punishment over with – absolutely sure what was to come for the total opposite of ‘trying to be good’. It left a weight on her chest, and in the coming seconds of nothing, the ends of her maw hooked into a sharper expression of what she too was dealing with on the inside.

“… I’m coming to learn that I don’t behave as well as I’d like, without those ‘P’s on my paws.”, Kayla turned her head back and commented of the day she was making for herself and those she loved, finding being a Completatas to be more difficult than she imagined since wanting to become one so badly. So used to minding every little thing she did, becoming relaxed made her slip in ways she didn’t expect. All that structure could be oddly comforting, when faced with the consequences of your own freedom to make mistakes; boundaries blurred, when they used to be slathered in bright red paint.

All those rules… even the ones I didn’t like.”, Kayla repeated Emily’s words etched into her mind after last Christmas, during an arduously painful ordeal; sinking into a similar, contemplative sort of frown.

The poor fox thought she’d be perfectly good if allowed more free reign and to be released from her punishment. While she was right that she was quite done being a criminal, there was still so much to learn, and so many years to grow. It made her realize just how badly she needed Emily for the long haul. Someone to love her, and still have the heart to be strict with her; keeping her safe, and well grounded. She needed that sort of mom if she was going to ever grow up right, feeling a little scared of becoming a Penitatas again, should her stupidity and casual misbehavior catch her off guard doing something even worse than forging parental authorization. Discipline had its purpose. Her heart knew that, and would be absolutely honest about it – she wanted to return the favor and take up that sort of parenting herself someday. In her disappointment, and regret for her actions today, there was a little comfort in that throb she felt ticking against the base of her Aspatrian rear, having been placing her weight into a slight bruise for a little while now.

I love my dad… I think I hurt his feelings today.”, she more solemnly let slip from her lips, thinking of the guardians that took care of rejuvenated children such as themselves – and surely what Zach’s parents were going through right now as well.

“… Please obey your parents. No matter how scared you are.”, Kayla spoke up after a spell, pressing another piece of advice, as well as her own motherly instinct as a growing, budding woman in her eight year old frame. While Zach sighed, Kayla calmed her mind lifted her right paw, wanting to add some things from the other side of the aisle if she was to say such things as well.

Also – don’t let them find out how sensitive your ears are, or your paws if you’re as bad as I am at dealing with rulers. Stuff your paws under something to keep from reaching back if you’re in the middle of copping a bad one, so you don’t get extra lashes. And, from my own experience, don’t get yourself a girlfriend – they will absolutely destroy you if you step outside the boundaries the justice department sets.”, the girl became the older sort of friend and teacher, listing the best things she could think of for Zach to know, considering he wanted to protect his own tail from experiencing more than he needed to. The freshmen Penitatas made a lighter face, loosening up from having upset himself before.

Not interested in a girlfriend.”, he let out with a small chuckle.

You’re six, and this is new, but trust me – grown thoughts intrude from time to time.”, Kayla figured she’d note with a slight grin, considering that was more of a common rejuvenated person thing and something she indulged upon only a few days ago. Zach still shook his head a little.

I mean I’m not into girls.”, he stumbled into a shyer smile, knocked more out of his previous glum expressions by having to admit his personal preferences for other men like that out of the blue.

You’ll find that I have a bit of a sensitive side.”, Zach chuckled more sheepishly, knowing quite well he had some feminine interests tucked in with all his masculine. It was all the same to Kayla in the way she thought of such things, bringing the older girl to lift both her paws into an expressive sort of shrug.

Then no boyfriends, if you don’t want trouble.”, Kayla rolled into with a light laugh, finally cutting that air the pair made talking about crime and punishment. She never thought she’d actually be able to sit side by side with someone of her own kind and hold a friendly conversation. Zach’s crimes were more severe than she was used to, knowing what that mind and those paws made and maintained, but she could never look down upon him if he meant to rectify what he did – destroying his ship and scattering new Penitatas all over Earth being quite the head start. Not to mention, if he was smart and knew at least ship computer systems, they’d have a ton to talk about!

I do think that’s one of the reasons I was paired with my parents. One of my dads is an electronics engineer too. Got the impression the Earth justice system tries to match offenders with their new parents purposely.”, the small boy provided as his own personal observation so far, reaching up to brush the short fur atop his head, slicking back his ears until they flicked back into place. While Kayla wondered if that was true, and something made Packet-Storm tick an invisible check-box to fall into the Targate’s hands, Zach tried to grasp his smile once more and strike up his own casual conversation.

You know, that first morning I woke up in my new bed, I woke up feeling a weird kind of bored? I still hurt from the night before – I guess you know why. Found a box in my closet with a few toys, and ended up on my stomach to play with them without even thinking about it. Playing pretend came so naturally… my older self would have never imagined.”, he spoke of the wee-hours after his ‘welcome spanking’ under his new roof, experiencing what it was like to so suddenly be a kid again. At six he was a tad immature, as most were, but there was still a smart engineer in there trying to keep some control.

Any suggestions on fun things to do, since I’ve been told what little I have is all I get? I tried climbing the tree in the backyard, but that didn’t go well.”, some of those timid fetters collapsed to show Zach’s chatty side, expressively dipping his ears and smiling with an almost silent chuckle at noting the tree incident. He was a more rough-and-tumble little boy being the sort to get into machines, and he did get a bit of a reprimand for climbing the tree at his age, so soon after his rejuvenation; Penitatas-style, of course.

Well I-… ”, was as far as Kayla got until a voice called from the sea of people interrupted her, catching a pivot of her ears and more of a flinch from Zach.

Zachary Weiler!”, the vulpine boy’s name was called from a Drakonian throat, sounding both a scold and a declaration of relief; male, and with a degree of firmness to it.

The man’s neck raised above the passing humans in his raptor stride with a shirt collar at its base, moving quickly in the sort of way an Earth drake’s legs could trot. Another raptor head poked above the heads of others alongside the first, looking around like a periscope at the same height. Both of the men together made their way through the crowd as quickly as their longer saurian figures could, leaving the second head to appear to make a lift of an eye-ridge and questioning lift of a claw.

And Kayla?”, the other male Drakonian spoke with much less authority in his voice, letting it simply roll off his tongue in a note of casual bewilderment. While Zach’s ears folded and he groaned, Kayla’s went perfectly erect with a big, open muzzled smile.

Come on, get down from there!”, the more authoritative of the pair, wearing darker clothing than his partner, went right up to in front of where Zach was seated on the tall planter wall; a young child’s wooden paddle swaying at his saurian waist from where it was secured to a belt-loop with a metal clasp, not being the sort of gentlemen to haul a purse with a fur-brush handy for taking punitive care of his Penitatas. As the man reached up with his claws to assist the boy down, the more lightly dressed and softer speaking of the pair smiled to do the same for Kayla.

How do my parents know you?”, Zach lifted his black paws, claws pointed skyward in his own gruff note, considering one of his dads right away said her name. Stiffening up, the boy did at least reach down and offer his paws, dropping down to be partly caught while Kayla’s shoes smacked the jade tile with a bit more force; apparently a bit too heavy for the other male drake at her age, considering his shorter height and strength versus a female of his species.

We got our Penitatas Parenting License on her tush.”, the lighter dressed Drakonian in front of Kayla expressively flipped one of his claws with a crane of his neck toward his new son; the answer only making the young boy squint and look more confused, not knowing of ‘justice department duty’ and the sacrifice Kayla was required to make of herself in getting chosen in that raffle, used as a guinea pig for a group of disciplinarians to demonstrate their knowledge upon. Kayla didn’t mind seeing the pair in this case – she remembered how incredibly nice they were, and was very happy for them to have passed!

You got a ‘penny! And it was another me – but not!”, Kayla playfully exclaimed, finding it amusing that they’d end up with an Aspatrian after getting to tongue-lash and spank a different one.

It’s good to see you again, but where is your mother?”, the primary disciplinarian of the pair turned his neck to ask with a tone to his voice, getting the impression right off the bat that the pair of young Aspatrians were alone together – otherwise Emily would have already had their child sniffling, taking charge as the sort of Penitatas parent he knew her to be from their class and test together. It would not have been unheard of for a Penitatas to be corrected by another license holder like that, as if babysitting in this situation. That happy look Kayla took upon her muzzle curled awkwardly, stumbling as if she wanted to laugh out of embarrassment and guilt of her own.

I got separated too.”, she kept her explanation short and simple, making the more gentle and eccentric of the two drakes sigh.

Seriously Kayla?”, he questioned with a lower, surprised and disappointed sort of tone. The other drake with the paddle huffed out of his nostrils, tipping his head with a similar, yet still light frown.

Congratulations on your parole. I’d be spanking you alongside Zachary otherwise, until she got here.”, the man came to show how he was taking to his new role as a Penitatas parent, describing how this would have went if she wasn’t a Completatas, and still a ‘penny as his son was. It was at least his way of saying the girl had made a fair error in judgment, without breaking into a full-on scold. They did rather like her, after all, and certainly didn’t mind her better behaviors they witnessed those months ago being rubbed off on their hard-headed little engineer.

Yeah… I can imagine.”, Kayla ran a paw down her orange forearm, wiping that overly chipper look off her face to admit she did in fact feel like a foolish brat.

But, with that said to the older fox of the two, the darker dressed drake turned his neck right back to his shorter son; his head down, looking as small as he felt. Zach wasn’t about to escape a hard scolding the way Kayla was – not to mention the disciplinary measure the stricter father had eluded to already.

Zachary, you were right there with us and then you were gone. What happened?”, he crouched down with his legs and bent his neck to lower himself, not trying to be too harsh even if he was somewhat aggravated from having to search such a big place for what was essentially an inmate. Brown scale and a pair of orange eyes tried to look into the Aspatrian boy’s, but Zach didn’t seem to want any of that, and kept them pointed at the mall tile below.

I don’t know.”, he provided as a non-answer, loose and weak from his muzzle. That right away got Kayla to stifle a scoff, knowing well the tips of her fangs bared in the expression her own muzzle shot into.

Tell him what you told me. Be honest.”, the more experienced of the two rejuves stressed, being met by a curl of Zach’s brows.

I am – I didn’t do anything.”, Zachary tried retreating further with timidly hushed tone of voice, hiding behind scapegoat words to put up a wall. All that got was one of Kayla’s more defiant and headstrong glares, crossing her arms. But…

Kayla!”, directed at her in a particularly shrill snap made her flinch far worse than Zach did when he heard his name, considering the woman who fired it from her mouth was not quite as ginger in her experience, and surely a more easily riled person.

Speaking of moms… ”, Kayla spoke with a tone, pivoting her right hear toward her rear, at what the fur on the back of her neck knew was coming from behind.

I’ll show you how a Penitatas is supposed to act – as sorry as you say you are.”, she managed to give the boy’s evasive attitude some retort, lifting her right paw to demonstrate how to answer to your own mistakes, fear or not. The girl’s shoes made for her feet turned on the jade tile just in time for Emily to finish rushing up to her.

Not getting the Penitatas-style greeting she would have expected from an angry parent in that split second later, what befell Kayla’s eyes made her ears go back in the deepest of apologies just as they did before; muzzle going slack and eyes listless. That was right before she was clasped in a protective hug, but only after seeing Emily’s eyes soaked and frightened. For Kayla, the sentiment hurt worse than getting immediately smacked for what she had done, feeling the necklace she bought her mother dangling against the fur of her neck, and a shopping bag land with a thump beside her feet.

Oh… no – no, please don’t cry.”, Kayla right away uttered with difficulty and painful shame to the person who threw herself down onto a knee, far more worried and shaken than angered. It wasn’t but a moment until Emily parted that hug with a brisk split, holding on to the fox’s upper arms; eyes reddened along with the white skin beneath them shiny in the light.

I didn’t think you’d run off – I thought someone snatched you again!”, Emily came to show why she looked the way she did with her rougher, protective words; pony-tail slumped over her shoulder. Kayla was trusted, and because of that, she imagined the possibility of the brilliant, valuable fox as having been kidnapped from under her wing again – incredibly terrifying, considering her daughter was maimed and left for dead when that happened. Kayla gently shook her head, feeling so guilty she had to hold back the urge to take on her mother’s shaky, almost tearful tones.

I’m so sorry.”, Kayla shot from her muzzle so quickly, it squeaked girlishly at her age.

I saw another Aspatrian, and I ran off to say hi. I wanted you to know where I went, but… I-… it wasn’t an accident – I did what I did on purpose. I’m a really big idiot, and I apologize mom.”, the female of the two foxes said what she intended to say when she anticipated being lectured, showing Zach what ‘being good’ looked like, even if her words were cut down into being spoken so much softer and slower for what she had done to Emily.

He’s a Penitatas, and was lost. I stayed with him.”, Kayla added for better explanation as to why there was another bushy tail with her, as well as the two kind drakes from their license exam. It all at least allowed Emily a moment to calm down and breathe, absorbing what she was told surprisingly calmly. Behind Kayla, Zach watched silently, tail pressed to his shorts, and the lighter dressed of the two drakes gave a perky wave of a claw, if a tad shyly looking considering Emily did look so startled.

I do appreciate Kayla, for that much.”, the more deeper speaking disciplinarian of the drakes did lift his claw to add in her favor, in lieu of his mate’s silent ‘hello’.

Emily’s world coming back together, she was left with a pair of sorry blue eyes staring into her own again, for the second time that day. Kayla already sore and having a tough day, the human woman was left to be a mother again; right hand leaving the eight-year-old’s arm with that all too telling reach for her purse, and the reddish color of her thick wooden fur-brush’s handle that always stood out from one end. Kayla didn’t so much as bat an eye, no matter how bad that brush hurt. It was weighty for what it was, and caused such a direct, searing sort of punch – burning like a slap, and bruising like a paddle. That was a tool that would hurt no matter how much older she got, as versatile as it was.

I certainly hope you’re ready to show everyone your little foxes.”, Emily huffed airily out of her mouth like a pained threat, pulling the brush into her hand and standing to lead her daughter by the arm, making clear reference to Kayla’s playful underpants.

Without so much as a tug, the grip of Emily’s fingers into the fur of Kayla’s arm guided her the couple of steps toward a bench beside the planter just a couple paces from Zach’s side; the boy keeping his ears back, seeming to feel bad for what he was seeing and hearing, as having thought of Kayla as being so helpful to him. As soon as Emily stopped however, right at the point she would sit down and demonstrate to Zach and his dads how a seasoned parent would correct their charge, the woman’s frowning face just looked down at Kayla’s with this… odd little expression of being disappointed, or perhaps even a little confused. Kayla’s head partly hung, blue eyes stinging, even the expert of reading human expression had trouble figuring all of what was going through her mother’s head. It was like she didn’t intend to do what she was doing, and didn’t care to hide it.

“… You’re not going to protest being spanked in public? Not even in the slightest?”, Emily uttered low and soft, huffing the words out of her mouth. The curled muzzle she brought to the bench with her shook from side to side, ever so faintly.

Because I believe in what you’re doing, and I know it’s only right. I’m not happy with myself right now.”, Kayla admitted openly with a small voice of her own, thinking of her thoughts only shortly ago. She needed Emily, and after all she had screwed up today, she’d not dare argue she deserved to be treated like a brat. Emily merely took a deep, rough breath, seeing her verbal gesture wasn’t going to mean anything when Kayla was already feeling as bad as she was going to get.

I was trying to rattle you a little. I’m bluffing. Doing that would be wrong, and pretty irresponsible of me. I’m not even mad; I’m too happy you’re alright; but what you did was a huge violation of your own safety, and I’m obligated to at least remind you not to do it again.”, Emily decided to take to her daughter’s level of uncanny honesty, stripping the old bits of parental pretense from her voice in the soft way she said what she did. Kayla was not a Penitatas, and she’d not have any such thing done in public any longer – her bluff was playing on her girl perhaps not having realized that yet, in seeing if it would make her regret what she did. Apparently Kayla had already done all of that work on her own.

Letting go of Kayla’s arm, Emily lightly slapped the fur-brush into her now free hand, properly addressing the new ‘penny parents she helped groom those months ago. Not only were they the most attentive in the exam, their partnership did help the two of them be rather memorable.

I’m Emily – I know its been a while, and the examiner that day never told me anyone’s names. Could I trouble you to trade this for what you have at your waist? Kayla has already been corrected once today, and I don’t want to use this brush on top of that. Your paddle looks much lighter, and perhaps your own little fox would appreciate seeing what this thing feels like, if we could slip into a private spot for my daughter?”, Emily sure didn’t mind being her old harsh self for a Penitatas that played a role in her daughter’s misadventure, and boy did that make Zach shrink with a worried baring of the tips of his teeth again. She did rather know how to casually make an Aspatrian’s tail squirm.

Of course. I’m Patrick.”, the drake family’s lead disciplinarian happily introduced of himself, while his partner took a little bounce where he stood, quite obviously a permanently bubbly sort of fellow.

And I’m Thomas. We’re the Rah`mar’s.”, that lightly dressed gentlemen followed suit, happy to use his claws prominently in his body language. Zachary didn’t bother to hide his grumble, and Kayla was at least relieved to know she wasn’t getting her fur-brush. Having to think about her backside was making the yardstick-kissed cane welts sting again, paying too much attention to her nerves.

We’d appreciate any Aspatrian rearing tips you might have too. We’re as much new parents as Zachary is a new Penitatas, and one thing I’ve learned is that he also really doesn’t mind being bare-furred either.”, Patrick followed up behind Thomas again in the way the two acted as their own single-minded unit, highlighting that lack of shyness to disrobe that Kayla showed them during their exam. In the midst of his speaking, the Drakonian man reached back along his side with a curl of his figure, unclasping his paddle to exchange with Emily; resulting in the quick swap of implements between a human hand and scaled claw.

And, much to Zachary’s surprise, Emily’s eyes fell upon him.

So, my daughter got to watch over a lackadaisical Penitatas. Kayla already told me her reason for leaving my side, but what about you, Zachary? You should be stuck to your fathers like glue – paw’s reach, at all times.”, Emily decided to step up to the small fox, toying with his paddle in her hand to scold and grill the fresh ‘penny with the experience she knew how. Used to Kayla, she even knew to refer to his hands as paws, and it truly was Kayla’s rule in public as a Penitatas to always be within touching distance unless told otherwise. And while Zach didn’t know what the heck a word like ‘lackadaisical’ was, sounding like gibberish, he at least understood what he was being asked; his small shoe timidly rubbing against the jade tile, tail close.

I just… got lost.”, Zachary tried again to not explain, sinking into timid and quiet territory with the proper scold of a seasoned parent. So used to Aspatrian expressions and how their ears gave everything away, Emily shook her head.

How?”, the mother firmly probed, suggesting to Kayla’s ears that the boy had just that one chance left.

I’m not sure… ”, the six year old only got quieter, shifting his tail in a disquieted wag across both his black calves; muzzle pointed down and legs not entirely still, almost like a six year old Kindern in that regard.

Right on cue, the child’s paddle jumped into Emily’s left hand so her right could dart forward; more than happy to teach a thing or two about disciplining an Aspatrian to not only Zach’s parents, but the boy himself. All of her knowledge acquired from raising Kayla jumped into her nimble fingers, and like so many times before, Emily snatched the small boy by his folded right ear and yanked it clear above his head; immediately getting a shriller sort of yelp, and a clumsily dancing pair of little legs.

Wrong answer, Zachary. Come on.”, Emily shifted right back into Penitatas parent mode as if it was second nature, falling out of the soft and loving tones she had been using with her daughter to sternly direct the errant Penitatas; face serious as she turned to pull the child along, knowing that Kayla would follow them without needing any sort of leash, or even a command. That pink and black flap of vulpine cartilage and skin was treated to the same gnash of finger and harsh, high pull that Kayla too had experienced so many times, making the girl wince as she watched and began to slink behind the scene being made. Zachary stumbled along, thrashing his tail in an awkward stream behind the seat of his shorts; whimpering and whining loudly.

Oh look at that – I learned a thing.”, Thomas said in such a damn near feminine way with a casual lift of a claw, following behind, it made Kayla slap her face as she accompanied the three adults; her own tail hung.

The Calleet Mall turned unoccupied storefronts into rest areas with tables and sofas, and as crowded as the place got, there were usually so many of them that the majority of the quiet spaces were left unoccupied. Emily being as experienced a shopper as she was a Penitatas parent, she lead Zachary along with the sort of pull on his ear that she utilized when Kayla was serving her sentence, keeping to an upward tug to keep him dancing and whimpering on his toes, trying to hold her arm as they went. Right into the closest one with its darker lighting and simple decorations that could be moved as places within the mall came and went with the passage of time, she chaperoned the fresh Penitatas until right up to a sofa that faced away from the doorway on the other side of the room before letting go. As soon as Zach could grab hold of his reddening ear, tears already in his eyes from that low pain tolerance he tried to put to words, the boy batted and fanned his foxy ear with this frustrated, tearful growl; showing more teeth than even Kayla would, the sorts of expressions he would make in trying to cope.

There. I’m sure you have an ear-full to give him for disappearing like that as a Penitatas, so while you take care of that, I’m going to take care of Kayla real quick. I shouldn’t be long with your paddle.”, Emily spoke aloud for everyone’s understanding as she took one end of the sofa, so the drakes could use the other side and not wear out their tails sitting upon them, knowing that was tough for the smaller males of their kind.

Zachary came to fall in front of his fathers, the pair taking their seats on the couch, and Kayla followed Emily to stand before her mother. Her paws held one another submissively and politely, still knowing how to at least behave when she had done wrong, and felt so bad for it. As she had told her mother, she committed no mistake, and did her misdeed on purpose. She’d be seeing a lap even before Zach, with nothing further to say of why she did what she did. She had no excuse – and the look across Emily’s face, and the way she held her paddle, told her that firmly.

Letting her ears fold to stress her continued, sorriest of apologies, Kayla reached back to her tail and unbuttoned her jeans without being asked; so quietly stared at by her mother, in such an almost sad way. She still didn’t want to punish her, but as she said, safety was paramount, and a reminder was needed. With a slip of her paws, the small red foxes of her girl’s underwear showed playfully across her hips once more before laying down over her mother’s lap; facing Zachary and his family, with her panty-clad bottom turned up below a bushy raised tail. It wasn’t before Zachary saw her cute, feminine little brief, causing the boy to raise a brow.

“… Could I get underwear like that?”, Zachary asked at the level of a whisper before his parents could so much as begin their scold, smitten by the garment, though Kayla merely pointed her ears at him and gave a funny look from her place laid upon the sofa. Of course she could still hear him, and he should have known that. Thomas hasn’t gotten through explaining that printed briefs with those little foxes weren’t something a Penitatas would be getting, before Emily’s right arm pulled her attention elsewhere with a hot, searing smack of a small wooden paddle against those sleepy, playing, and running little red foxes across her Aspatrian haunches.

On top of the spanking she had gotten earlier, tough little thing or not, it wasn’t but three slaps of the younger child’s introductory paddle to the cotton seat of her underpants before Kayla was squealing out a pain-stricken whimper, closing her eyes with a visible gnash of her teeth. It took so little to heat up the yardstick stripes across her skin, and as crisp as Emily could spank without even swinging hard any longer, those quick slaps were made to really sting with a burning, prickly sear achievable with a lightweight tool; raised back to the level of fire she had earlier in short time. Though Patrick had taken Zachary’s black paws to hold them and keep him paying attention to his lecture, the boy still kept one of his ears turned toward Kayla, flinching when he heard his own little paddle smack her backside and the sorts of whines it got out of her. She had already been “corrected” today the lady said – she could tolerate this much? He couldn’t even stand a warm-up, much less his father’s tongue used as a belt further than two lashes before crying like a total child.

But, as seconds turned to moments, with that loud slapping of wood to cotton, fur, and skin, Emily took hold of the base of Kayla’s tail to cease its squirm and continued into the point Kayla was openly sobbing from the pain. It was a good lesson for Zachary, sort of how the older fox hoped. It didn’t matter how experienced you were, or old. Everyone cried, and they were both children. It wasn’t an issue of cowardice, but Zach not trying hard enough to remain still and accept the things he earned, having to watch Kayla lay there without anything more than the natural, almost uncontrollable wiggle of her bushy tail as she was soundly paddled. Her muzzle curled into a kit’s expression of lament, lines across her eyelids shimmering from the pot lighting above, she sobbed and cried with the occasional whimper and tiny, girlish squeal, and accepted her punishment willingly as that mahogany colored, lacquered-looking spanking implement smacked and slapped with such a high pitch from one cheek to the other, with a purposeful spank to her tender rear’s base – that poor sit-spot Emily had already disciplined – about every five strokes. It was easy to tell when she got one of those, as her body would jerk over the human woman’s lap, and the base of her muzzle would deeply curl for a split second as if to snarl; those bursts of pain far more hurtful than the sting and heat of her bottom’s peaks.

Zachary.”, Patrick snapped after the Aspatrian boy couldn’t even so much keep his eyes on his father, much less his ears. The boy’s attention came back, but he was surely frowning far deeper than he had been before, listening to Kayla cry and how many swats of the paddle she was getting as an eight-and-half year old, versus what the Rah`mar’s were acclimating him with for “unearned” spankings.

Just as Zach made a whimper, about to open his muzzle, Kayla’s spanking stopped with one last dead-center swat of her underpants; flattening those poor adorable foxes she wore while her plastered ears and good cry made her sound so sorry for everything she had come to do this day. A reminder to follow rules and not the major sort of infraction she made earlier, Emily merely elevated her already-sore bottom to that of “good and red” under her fur, and back to her prior level of proper, eight year old’s fit of crying – no further, simply because that was how Emily wanted it to be, as her mom. The paddling hardly took a minute; quite brief; and by then she was even more hot and shrilly stinging than she was earlier, at least across her cheeks. Getting a pat to her thighs from a hand, and not a paddle, Kayla accepted the invitation to shoot her paws back and grip her furred nates as tightly as she could, baring those fangs in her expressive way of cooling that fire – such a wonderful privilege Zachary would not see for a very long time.

The fox was already apologetic and knew what she did was very wrong, and admitted to it without protest. She got nothing more than she earned, even if she still would have rather have not been spanked a second time at all – quick and light or not, as much as getting spanked still hurt.

Yes, Zachary, this is how your parents expect you to behave too, even if you wear a letter on your paws that makes everything ten times worse. She too, after all, sobbed the same debt to society.

The boy swallowed, stepping uneasily from what he finished bearing witness to. Another thing he hadn’t seen without school, or any friends yet, was someone else getting into trouble. He wanted to say something… please don’t use my paddle on her, she was so nice to me. I know she did something bad too, but…

I… I tend to pace when I think about things. I have a lot on my mind. It’s just what I do… it’s a habit. I didn’t mean anything by it.”, young Mister Weiler opened his maw and tried to follow that example Kayla was attempting to show him, even if it felt counter-intuitive for the sake of his tail to detail his own misdoing. The example Kayla gave made him feel more guilty that he didn’t speak up on her behalf, again being such a timid coward. It made his chest tight and his stomach hurt to hear the older girl cry as she did. What she got was surely not what normal everyday kids did he figured as a paroled Penitatas, discipline taken more seriously, but… his would be worse, by huge margins, and he was smaller; destined to be crimson and bruised, should his admission of a mistake be considered very bad. He really didn’t want to howl. He always howled.

That stiffening of his lips from earlier came back, and as he was coming to experience as a six year old boy, his worries made him soak up the emotions around him like a sponge. Trying to be a “braver” boy in accepting that discipline was supposed to hurt, made his eyes water. His supposed pain intolerance was nothing more than the excuse of the asshole who hid in bulkheads when their ship’s weapons array came online, pretending the whole thing wasn’t his fault. At the end of the day, all six-year-olds were wimps no matter how much of a pansy they were as a grown adult, and no stupid excuse was going to change that. He was just giving these two nice men that gave a sorry excuse for a pirate a home a hard time, when they spent so much effort trying to cheer him up. They tried to introduce his now-young mind back to play, and even took him nice places like this so he could speak and hear more panglish.

I’m glad you could finally just come clean with that. I can understand – rejuvenation doesn’t break our old habits.”, Patrick held those paws of Zach’s, trying to keep his snout close so the pair could see eye to eye; the sort of close connection he wanted with his Penitatas, especially if he was easily scared.

That is something you’re going to have to be careful with, and learn to curb a little. A Penitatas cannot wander, with so many places for you not allowed to go. It’s dangerous, and you do require constant supervision of some kind. Please stay closer to me and your other dad from now on, okay? Paw’s length?”, the home’s primary disciplinarian shared that moment with the young boy, even as the sputtering fox beside them let off a faint, high pitched whimper as she got off her mother’s lap and snuggled up at her side to be comforted, tucking her muzzle against Emily’s breast as she had done so many times as a Penitatas. It was the tiniest of tearful sounds, coming down from her level of sob to rest and simply finish letting it out at her age. Zach took a breath and let it out of his nose, keeping at least one eye on Kayla, just to see her handle things. In a way, seeing another of his own kind having paid their dues, and showing it was okay to cry, gave him a strength that at the same time made him start to choke up as well.

Was that… acceptance?

The stupid thing he avoided, until he nearly blew himself to pieces with a willful paw that commanded there be ‘no more’?

Zachary, sweetie, what are you thinking right now?”, Thomas asked from his own seat, gentle and curious, trying to scoot a little closer so he could wipe the lighter sort of brown scale of his claw beneath Zach’s right eye. He could barely stop staring at Kayla and Emily, and whether he knew it or not, his vulpine lips were outright trembling, and he looked like he would start sobbing before they so much as touched him with the fur-brush their colleague so graciously shared with them. Their new son was a very apprehensive sort to begin with, but that was far worse than usual, and enough to bring them to want to pause before laying into him. Both men were that sort of dad.

Zach’s eyes squinted, with those pools of tears getting thicker – hardly able to move his jaw. His legs slightly bent along with his posture, shrunken and unhappy, he wanted to be tougher, even if his ears couldn’t stay erect.

I’m thinking I’m a selfish asshole.”, Zachary Weiler spoke pained, bitter words; that six year old muzzle holding to such sad sounds, so hushed and quivering, even as he outright swore in front of his parents.

I want… to be like her.”, he admitted of Kayla’s willingness to accept punishment for her actions, when he was the man that fled; dark blue eyes staying on his fellow Aspatrian, face lost in her mother’s shirt.

I want to feel like it’s okay for it to hurt. Be more sorry, than I am scared.”, that voice remained so tiny and boyish, holding back those young emotions to not cry as he seemed spiteful of himself. It bled such remorse, and such guilt, for the things he had done – and he surely wasn’t talking about his contemplative wandering that got him into trouble.

It made a pair of brown scale snouts both tip a little lower, grasping what Kayla had stirred within him. For the walls Zach had put up since betraying his crew, evading what he had done even while declaring his guilt, Patrick was not going to let this opportunity to level with the fox slip through his reptilian fingers; the sounds of the mall faint in their dim space to themselves.

You’re here to be punished. You’re right. We’re going to be strict with you, and the discipline of a Penitatas never really stops; it’s more than just raising you right. You’ll be serving your time for those piracy and illegal weapons charges, and sometimes punished when you’ve done nothing else wrong. I know you don’t like what you did, and the lengths you took to fix that, but… you’re here, with us now. You should be sorry, for the amount of weapons on that ship of yours’, and what I’m sure they did to people.”, that tongue tried to find his fatherly note, still so new to being a parent. Patrick used the tones of his voice to stress that this was to be the once engineer’s life for a long time to come, and it was the Aspatrian’s responsibility to cope with the end result of what he had done.

To it, the man within that young boy’s body cut his muzzle into a deeper, still so bothered looking frown, even while trying so hard to face the two Drakonians. Those dark blue eyes returned to Patrick, black ears frozen backwards.

“… I was too sorry to even keep living.”, Zach remained so distracted from his own misdeed of wandering away on them, feeling such an inner need to assure that he was sorry for what Bah’Virah, their ship, did, and why he forced his cowardice to be so brazen, the day he nearly died. Patrick was an electronics engineer, so when those orange eyes stared at him, reminding him of what he did, it was like being chided by another of his kind – one that didn’t use their knowledge for harm. Standing before his fathers as he was, a reach of a claw behind him released the velcro of his shorts and briefs with one tug above the blackened, top-side base of his tail.

And it is okay for it to hurt. You’re safe, no matter how sorry we make you.”, Thomas added more lightly in his own sort of way, still wanting to comfort even as they nudged their new son into seeing his need to behave, obey, and accept, no matter what.

It was his claw that silently undressed the boy, and with a loosening of his bottoms, gave the elastic waistbands of dark red and gray a pull to drop them; ending up at Zach’s shoes without so much as a shy blink, far deeper entrenched in Aspatrian custom than Kayla was. For him, clothes were weird to be wearing being so young, and without them, more of his white fur showed; seemingly continuing all the way from the top of his neck, all the way down to his boyish parts, across his whole belly. Sniffling and trying to dry her eyes, bottom prickling so uncomfortably from nagging heat and sting, Kayla eyeballed and listened from her curled slump at Emily’s opposite side, jeans still down to place her fur and cotton-clad hip against the sofa in the odd way she sat to stay off her rear. Zachary had so much more black and white than she did, and his sheath was so small and firm looking compared to Jacob’s; not the soft sort to furl within itself. His meek hunch still had such an older, glum sort of expression above – looking an engineer, even at his immature stature with tears threatening to spill from his eyes.

And if you want to be good and brave like you see Kayla, that’s something you have to do willingly. She wants to be spanked as much as you do.”, Patrick continued his lecture with those gingerly notes, even as he pressed further into that simple, hard truth. Kayla had no secret to making things hurt less. Her will to do right, was bigger than her will to shield her own backside. That was acceptance – and…

“… And, in your case, you also need to accept what you’ve done. That there are people that can’t hear your remorse, because they didn’t survive your ship’s attack.”, Patrick allowed his words to become more cutting, even as he softened his voice even further; those paws held in his claws pulling free as if they had been slapped, while everyone else merely soaked in the words with their own pause.

Don’t say it like that!”, the boy tearily snapped as if scalded, whining with an uneasy shift of his tail and pulling his black paws to his chest. He knew what his paws did, even if he didn’t wish to hear the truth.

Do you want me to detail each weapon system from your chip the courthouse gave me? Maybe you could tell me about that disruptor-cannon you hobbled together, and what you thought all that energy would do to living things?”, the firmer of the drakes twisted the knife on purpose, knowing how much regret Zach held, and how much he always tried to flee his responsibility. The labor of those small paws, soft and young as a child’s, took weapons into the war against innocent people. What he made was no accident, and he’d face it – not just in words. Phrased that way, Kayla closed her eyes and sank her face back into Emily’s breast, even if she had already dulled herself to sniffles. It hurt even those whom didn’t commit the crime, and left Zachary himself quivering.

That was the pain that made him nearly amputate his own paws in the explosion of his drive manifold. That was the inner agony, that made him want to terminate the life he led, whether he lived or died. It hurt, so badly.

“… I never wanted… I didn’t mean… ”, the vulpine boy’s voice broke, weakening as the tears stabbed at him too hard to suppress, stiffening up with a full droop of his head. There was no place left to hide, face to face with what he did, no matter how much he hated what he was. With a sharp sob, at such a high pitch from the way it squeaked from his throat and small muzzle, Zachary broke down.

I want to take it all back! I know I didn’t deserve to live, but I did!”, he spoke through his crying, syllables split and broken to be forced out of his muzzle before it cracked into a vulpine teeth bearing wail.

He never wanted to hurt a soul. But…

His paws lifting to his face to cover his muzzle and eyes, the man who crafted, tweaked, repaired, and maintained a vessel of harm, began bawling like a six year old – his adult half, and his young half alike. Maw open, a long, loud ‘Whaaah!’ made himself sound so young, and so uncaring of how it made him look. Destroying his own work and imprisoning his fellow shipmates did nothing to quell the bubbling, self-hating remorse that ate the boy alive. He was “that” engineer, and no less guilty, even if he never fired a shot. He hated what he became, and all of what he did, and it hurt so badly to look at himself and accept that. No, he didn’t want to think about what weapons did to people, when his job was to crack ships open. Blinded intentionally to the equation of there being living people on those ships, being inebriated in his engineering bay’s nooks and crannies was all he had to escape the responsibility of what his work really did.

To see him standing there and crying with such earnest made both of his parents frown, hearing it so sad. It was the sound of someone who didn’t want to be selfish anymore. Someone who would destroy their life, and harm themselves, just to put an end to it – and now, to finally own up to it, after talking it out with someone. Unable to let him wail as he did without doing anything, Patrick reached out and eased the small Aspatrian into a hug; Thomas tucking his snout in with them. It seemed they made unexpected progress, and perhaps owed something to the pair of black-tipped vulpine ears down the sofa; be it something she said, or the role model she appeared to outwardly be.

I know… You’re not a bad guy, Zach. You tried.”, Patrick had to softly throw in to comfort his forceful cries, acknowledging that he understood the boy. It wasn’t how Zach wanted to live, and he wanted no one hurt or killed. It was obviously not lip service, and hurt the boy enough for him to not even know how to deal with it, so used to distancing himself. He wasn’t beyond saving, even if he had much to do to repent.

And if we can’t change the things we did, we’ll do the next best thing, right?”, Thomas whispered more quietly into Zachary’s folded ear from his own nuzzling tuck, feeling a little extra warmth coming off it from Emily’s tugging. They hoped Zachary would be more receptive to being punished, even if what he had coming for wandering off alone had changed focus to a different misdeed; that of a grown fox’s folly.

I’m glad I have a nice fur-brush for you. I think you need a good, hard one today.”, Patrick seemed to agree with his own choice of words, feeling deep down that this was a fine time to milk some of that regret and turn it into acceptance of his new silver ‘P’s, and the reason he stood here.

Sliding back on the sofa for his thick tail to curl awkwardly, Patrick got his saurian shape to form a lap, giving Zachary a raptor-like thigh to lay himself over, just as he had been seeing at home under his introduction to such a strict life. He’d be bent over with a pull of a claw, and Thomas would hold his paws. This time, the two men merely sat still, as Patrick slid Kayla’s old fur-brush into his claw; quite the thick implement if compared to the size of a soft, six year old bottom. Wiping at his eyes and sobbing like a fool, Zachary didn’t bother waiting to be told what to do, just like the fox before him, and took the stare of eyes as a command to shove his sheath and pelvis against Patrick’s pant-leg, considering they made it very clear what they were doing to him. Slumping over the firm fabric, ruffling his fur, Zach laid down with a defeated crumple, lifting his bushy, boyish tail just enough to make it easier to be grabbed – a signal of cooperation that was so surprising, Patrick’s eye-ridges betrayed his internal shock.

Down the sofa cushions, Emily cracked a small smile and gave a silent nod. They just did incredibly well.

Patrick snatched Zachary’s tail and slid his claw part way down it’s length, getting just far enough from the base to keep it locked in place, pulled up along the boy’s back, while ensuring its pretty white tip wouldn’t smack or otherwise tickle his nostrils – fairly distracting when you’re trying to spank, really. His motions firm, just to get some authority through, the boy got the same tailhole-baring tug that Kayla was so familiar with, making the tuck of his tail as naked as the rest of his backside; wrinkles stretched northward, toward the bend of Patrick’s wrist. The fur-less gnarl rather small and boyish compared to Kayla’s bottom at her age as a girl, the rest of his bare backside and legs held a tone and shape more that of a young boy’s as well; tad thicker, even if it was baby-fat and he wasn’t exactly muscled in any way in simply being shaped differently. If anything, just for being so young, that childish male figure looked so much more delicate; not a hint of thickened skin anywhere on him, and scrotum so firm and tucked to himself it’d still have the wrinkles and line down the middle of a toddler, if not veiled by silken white fur. And, even further from Kayla, the cold mall air hitting the shape of his tail’s tuck didn’t even make him flinch in the smallest – the boy impossible to embarrass, holding zero inklings toward false modesty.

The only thing that made Zach take any sort of pause amidst his disquieted lament was reaching out with his ebony furred paws to not feel them taken by Thomas’ claws as he always did. He even reached around, pawing awkwardly just to feel his softer dad’s touch, finding bony saurian knuckle and the tops of his pearly claws; no waiting palms. Cracking his eyes, muzzle curled so wearily, Zachary opened his paws with a sharp, quiet whine, even outright asking.

You need to learn to not reach back on your own, dear. Hold on to me, instead of me holding onto you.”, Thomas took to his own position to teach, being that he had been helping to keep Zach from interrupting his own spankings. A Penitatas had to learn to control their own limbs, and resist the urge to rub all on their own. He had been told all the rules. Sniffling hard to clear his nose, the fox grasped the eccentric and gentle drake’s scaled fingers and squeezed on his own accord, if he was to need to mind his own paws… worrisome, as his other father said this would be a “hard one”, whatever that would come to mean.

Then he jumped, fur standing on end from tail to neck.

Patrick patted the flat face of the fur-brush against his bottom so hard the sound was loud, and already distinctly uncomfortable in its claps against him. A quick three slaps with low strength to warn the boy and not make his nerves outright explode on the first slap, granting a sprinkle of what was to come, Zachary was treated to the pain he did oh-so hate.

A Penitatas-grade, hefty wooden smack shot through the room with the throaty, low sound of brush to flesh and fur, a whole world apart from the sound Emily had made lightly using the boy’s paddle; Kayla wincing at being reminded what that sounded like, almost feeling it from her own familiarity. Right off the bat Zachary yelped desperately, rolling it into a more childish cry as the brush returned with the same sound, and then again. Legs wanting to lift and kick, his tiny fingers clutched Thomas’ claws, absolutely unable to stay still as he was given the sort of fur-brush treatment a Penitatas would get; nothing introductory about it, being a very real spanking for his misbehavior and those feelings from adulthood that haunted his conscience. Wiggling about on Patrick’s leg, shoes scuffing the bare floor, bound together by shorts and boy’s briefs, only a solid handful of firm, purposeful swats of Kayla’s brush had the boy who called himself a wimp open mawed, screaming and crying out those loud tearful sounds – childish and masculine at the same time, so clearly from a boy’s muzzle. From side to side Patrick slapped the brush against the poor fox, hard and at a good pace, sticking to a rhythm that was predictable but ever so intolerable; at least not slipping in the sorts of random, jarring swats Emily began using on Kayla later, where a lighter stroke in one spot would be met by a harder one faster than usual in a place not expected-…

Was at least what Kayla thought while watching, before the brush reached further down and spanked harshly across Zach’s right thigh at a diagonal out of the blue, deflecting off his limb and fur to find air and come back down higher, square across the base of his tail. The girl’s eye squeezed out of reflex, peering over Emily’s breast.

Yee’aahh!”, Zachary tearfully and shrilly cried out, perhaps getting a smack to the tuck of his tail for the first time. Being Kayla’s brush, she knew that was an incredible stinging bite that left behind the shape of the brush, transforming with a stabbing prickle into a burn as the throbbing pain of the deeper part of the swat grew; evolving through phases. Having to see another Aspatrian’s tailhole reflexively clench as if stuck with a hot poker made Kayla’s muzzle sink into a sympathetic frown with a couple of teeth bared, wondering if her own reactions were that obvious. Why did everyone realize to smack them there so quickly?!

Well, it did stick out… and boy did Zach let Patrick know it hurt. That must have been all the reason the drake needed to give it a second spank, swatting the boy’s bottom only once; feigning returning to a pattern; before flicking his wrist and giving the base of the boy’s vulpine brush of orange and white another weighty swat. He was careful with that tail, but Kayla could tell Patrick was giving Zach’s tail a jerk to flatten its tuck before spanking down – the boy would surely realize that warning sign at some point until his dad felt safer to get close to his tail without injuring it. At the moment, that old engineer was far too into the realm of “sorry kit” to notice anything but the brush, and two swats over bare, delicate pink and tail muscle shot a sting so far up him the fox literally yelped; muzzle threatening a canine-like howl, but so high pitched it came out as a vulpine cry. To it, the boy seemed to want to roll, turning part way onto his hip, but Patrick’s claw holding his tail pushed down on him to keep him from lifting off and bolting.

Still, Zachary!”, his spanking father did warn however, letting this be his first true act of discipline as a Penitatas. The welcome spanking on the first day was a loud affair of so much crying, but also so much coddling and paw-holding. Today, the fox would have to bare his fangs in pain and try to control himself without all that support, showing he felt bad enough to submit for once, no matter the degree of hurt that brush could instill in such a young boy.

Easier said than done for Zachary.

The pounding in his ears was met with such a blaring blast of pain each time he heard it, struck hard enough to jerk him forward against his dad’s leg; legs locking up awkwardly, and his vulpine sheath partly bent and squashed. Zach’s face was pulled into this incredibly Aspatrian expression of pain with every muscle gnashed that he could, which bared his upper teeth in a frozen snarl, despite not a single sound of anger coming out of that wrinkled, contorted muzzle. The fur-brush so hard, and so bruising, he fought so hard. Bawling liberally and every part of himself squirming in some way, those fingers of his’ held onto Thomas’ claws so desperately, trembling in the best attempt he could muster to be like that girl on the other side of the couch. It hurt, it was okay, and then it was over! But… for him, the smacking of the brush just kept going, and no matter how awful a sputter of sobs he made, Patrick didn’t let up giving him the soundest of spankings under his tail – on a mission. Zachary’s painfully flattened black ears alongside his head matched his wailing face, and no matter how sorry he was, or hated the things he had done, the pain was just too new, and too incredible.

And as soon as his yipping and yipe-ing like a fox struck the level of complete tear-stricken desperation, turning it into an incredible vulpine whine that Kayla was… embarrassed to hear, considering the only time she made something that sounded like that sort of “growl” was a few days ago having sex with Jacob, those black paws could take no more. The reddish fur-brush popping him loudly all across his two cheeks, base of his rear and upper thighs, the sudden slip of fur and paw-pad against scale made Thomas dart those claws he let go of in order to catch his fingers and stop him. They pulled, and pulled hard, but the more gentle of the two men wasn’t a slouch, and held those paws for dear life, even if this brought Zachary to screech.

Tai’eeeee~!”, his broken voice attempted to cry out a plea, but all his maw could form was a word the men wouldn’t understand. Panglish was long gone from the sounds the bawling mess of fox could elicit.

Volma-… !”, Zach shot out in a scream, kicking his legs and trying to push with his paws if he couldn’t pull, hoping for anything that would make the pain stop – pounded so deeply into his backside and muscles, soon to be well-bruised once they erupted from beneath his scorching inferno of swelling, splotchy crimson skin.

Volmaaaaa-… !”, he tried so hard to get out in apology, wanting to beg his parents to forgive him and let it stop, but as drawn out as the sound got, it was so quiet; spittle running from his muzzle’s lower lip, reduced to that of the smallest of kits. It was a hard spanking, and Kayla would attest to it. That, Zachary, is what would be a “sorry Penitatas”, and it’s the sorriest thing you could possibly be.

His legs failing him, pain scraping down them and up the black-furred stripe of his spine, Zachary began to melt against that thick thigh he was laid against. From the base of his tail, going down a little further each time, the boy was treated to such harsh strokes of the brush down the valley of his Aspatrian haunches that Thomas felt the pulling of his paws ease. As if broken, just letting it happen, Zachary lowered his head onto his other father’s leg of his shorts in his sobbing mess.

Aaaaaaaa’rrrooooooooo~!”, mother and daughter were treated to such a familiar sound, simply more boyish and guttural in the boy’s incredible lament. It was torn, defeated, and sad in its copious, tear-flowing nature; muzzle against Thomas’ leg to howl like an Aspatrian infant.

Repentant or not, that boy was once a stronger man; even if he didn’t see himself that way, ripping through engines, plasma conduits, and the focus-matrices of energy weapons. There was a lot of fight to get out of him, and the drakes made sure to remove it. He outright deserved it. Those his paws harmed indirectly, and even himself.

The brush was cutting through the air when Thomas raised his neck and shook his head to his husband, causing the brush to grind to a halt through its own inertia to touch Zachary’s hip with nary a tap. The boy nuzzled Thomas’ leg through the blend of his shorts, wailing so much softer in what was like a baby trying to comfort itself. That was surely enough, and the boy would know what getting in trouble and making up for his actions would feel like, without going overboard on a boy still getting his black, vulpine ears wet.

Aarrr’… ”, trembling lips stiffened and tried to cry out again like a puppy, only to stop and break into tired sobbing.

Their son not seeming to want to move, he laid right there in his slump, which was fine for the drakes. The two men with their longer, raptor-like necks could just curl them as they needed to tuck them in with Zach’s own. Tail released, it thrashed from side to side fairly hard, quite unlike how Kayla would react. The act surely pulled on the welts at the base of his tail, roasting its tuck, but the desire to flail that bushy appendage was too great to ignore; the closest thing to rubbing that he would be getting, with his painfully clenched paws guarded by both of his parents while they consoled him, tucked into their own sort of reptilian hug where he laid.

We can stay here as long as you need. Thank you for taking that like a Penitatas Zachary.”, Thomas said with a tiny smile crept onto his snout, over the sound of his son’s howling tears. He wasn’t mad he had to snatch the boy’s paws, he actually lasted way longer than he thought he would! His ‘penny was sorry – and put his words to his will! The man’s snout rubbed along the fox’s cheek, wiping at his tears with his own scale like a proud dad.

And if that was a ‘bad’ one, you can take the other ones too. It hurts, but it’ll be okay.”, Patrick followed up with his own lesson of words, wanting to point out that despite his pain level being off the chart, feeling split apart down the middle of his furry little haunches, he was in one piece. He’ll likely have an absolute tantrum when put in the hard kiddie-seat in their hover-car, but for now, he could absorb his example of what his sentence would be like. A very good reason to behave, he hoped!

“… And don’t think I’ve forgotten your potty-mouth, by the way.”, Thomas was the person to add with his own ‘matter-of-fact’ tone, even if it wasn’t threatening sounding. It was, just in the man’s bubbly way.

Even in the middle of crying, tail swatting at the air, Zachary whimpered in punitive frustration.

Without all that chest-tightening spanking to watch, and the fur-brush she had felt from both ends so many times left against the sofa to cool off, Kayla lifted her muzzle to look up at Emily. With a paw she wiped her eyes, taking one last sniff to compose herself before sinking into the moment to be with her mom while the drake family showed the boy she met some parental love. The way she still seemed to frown though, and the look she had in her eyes, made Emily be the first to speak.

Does it still hurt that bad Kayla?”, the human mother asked with a note of puzzlement alongside her concern, snugging the fox to her side with a rub of her hand, wanting to make sure she wasn’t feeling too bad. She felt like she was brisk and had a rather snappy wrist, but was pretty light with Zachary’s paddle – surely Kayla of all people would be alright.

No, its just… I’m disappointed. I suck.”, her light blue eyes remained a little red and misty, while her muzzle gently frowned in her own personal discomfort for reasons beyond the embers beneath the seat of her favorite new underpants. Emily crooked her mouth, lifting that hand to better comfort; going for Kayla’s ear to pet it as her tail draped off the sofa.

You do not.”, she was quite quick to reassure.

Feel better honey, I know you’re sorry. Running off on your own isn’t going to become a habit. You got excited, and having all this freedom to roam is so new to you still. You’re allowed to be eight, it’s okay.”, she went into explanation mode as much as she sometimes didn’t like doing that when trying to be supportive. Emily just really wanted her to see she wasn’t mad, as mad as she used to get. Kayla was her furry blessing, now and always – no more little spats. She understood what happened, and ultimately it turned out well.

You did the right thing staying with their Penitatas when you found him alone. That was a very adult thing of you to do, keeping him safe. You were very sweet with those little girls in the store too. I like your claws.”, Emily continued on with her positive words to note all the ways Kayla did good on this day she felt like nothing but a screw-up, until she could smile a bit bigger to pay note to the Kindern’s girl’s pink, satin nail polish across her claws. Kayla lifted her right paw, holding the pink claws high with a look across her muzzle.

“… It goes with my fur.”, Emily was taken aback to hear come out of Kayla’s mouth, of all people. But, before she could glowingly offer to take the young girl shopping for her first bottle of claw-polish like a little kid herself, finally able to be that mom, the vulpine girl sighed out of her ebony nose. It was a sad sort of sound, and it made the mother pause.

I just keep ruining things. Messed up giving my presents, messed up your outing. I didn’t want to lose my privileges for longer, or my nano-lotion, but I had to be stupid.”, Kayla spoke partly tucked into Emily’s side, jaw moving against the base of the woman’s breast; sounding as disappointed as she noted prior, in her self-irritated tones. Grasping what Kayla meant, Emily nearly flinched. This was still the first day Kayla had really gotten into trouble since getting paroled, and she was making assumptions of what would happen based on what she knew – and she only had a ‘penny mom, not a real one yet until now.

Oh, honey – no.”, Emily pushed out of her mouth as hastily as she could, almost cutting the end of Kayla’s sentence off. The fox’s eyes peered back up, even if they drooped in their own way.

Stacking punishments is a Penitatas thing. That ‘reminder’ is all you get. I’m not taking anything else away, you’ve been punished far enough.”, she tried to hold her daughter better to console her, not having realized that Kayla would be thinking such things and being so hard on herself. Leaning into the younger girl a tad, her sapphire necklace came against the fox’s muzzle and cheek in their cuddled hug.

You’re still a good girl. Everyone forgives you. I just want you safe and happy.”, Emily tried to peer into Kayla’s thought process, wanting to reassure and comfort in those ways beyond merely explaining anymore. The words remaining motherly and soft, even after what she had done, brought such relief to the poor fox. She was allowed to make mistakes now, as part of being normal… and boy did that feel strange, leaping straight out of being a hard time Penitatas. She still wasn’t realizing how many parts of her life were purely punitive before.

You’re so used to rules… so, why don’t I make a new rule? One for me, instead of you?”, Emily spoke warmly and contemplatively, feeling happy for herself to have such a thing suddenly pop into her head. She used to hide most of her plans because she had to as a ‘penny mom, but now Kayla could know exactly how she’d be raised.

New rule – Kayla never sleeps sore. If you get punished, you can have nano-lotion by the time you brush your teeth for bed at the very latest. If you want it, you can pull it from your medicine cabinet without having to ask.”, the mother detailed as nicely as she could figure, believing that her corrections should not be lasting ones any longer, and restricted to only the day they were given. She’d slowly see more non-corporal punishments over time, and this would be the first step in easing her toward those as she gets older. That made Kayla’s ears lift off her head with this look as if she wanted to ask ‘really?!’, but her mother’s smile was too genuine to not be true. A rule to benefit her! Nano-lotion, and not asking even! She could have blown the ex-Penitatas’ mind with that.

And, just like you gave me, I have a surprise for you!”, Emily was excited to declare to try and cheer Kayla up with, having been fairly certain she did a good job in choosing a toy for a Completatas that was awesome enough to be paroled two years into their sentence.

The pair parting slightly from their huddled spot against the arm of the sofa together, the downward gesture of Emily’s hand toward the toy store shopping bag by the dangle of Kayla’s tail came as an invitation to have a look. Getting off of Emily’s side and being ginger with her bottom, trying to slide somewhat on her tail-bone, the young girl stuck her head into the bag…

A flaring of whiskers and a vulpine zip of excitement!… And then, most unexpectedly, that curious look on her muzzle was replaced by a faint, indescribable dulling and the weakened backward tip of her ears. Emily didn’t know what to say at first, so sure what she chose would be fine.

Is it the color? Did I do okay?”, she tried to question, but Kayla quickly shook her head.

I really wanted one – I love it! It’s just… I know it cost a lot, and I didn’t deserve it.”, the fox turned her head over her shoulder, revealing her look was a guilty one, no matter how happy her young-self was to finally get something so fancy and modern to play with around her room.

Peering from the bag, pulled back by her padded fingertips and pink claws, was the very model of gigantic, fully functional hover-car she was looking at. Emily knew exactly the thing she meant when she mentioned such a toy earlier, and she got the nicest of all of them, even including the real hover-engine and working parts. It was the one she thought looked the coolest, and even had color-shifting paint; black normally, with a dark blue hue when the light hit it just right. Emily really did know her daughter, and that went beyond knowing she hated getting whacked with a switch under her tail.

You’re not a Penitatas Kayla, you still deserve to get things. Consider it your parole present, even. Getting paroled early is our gift of childhood to you. Just like Jacob, I want you to enjoy being eight again, and… ”, Emily chuckled faintly to remind again, hearing Kayla not think she deserves something because of a behavioral slip; she had a lot of old Penitatas notions to get out of her head. Nothing excused that toy chest! But, Emily stopped, changing her expression.

You understood the car’s cost?”, she jumped in to ask, looking a little surprised. Kayla did take the task she was assigned seriously, though.

Tell me, what have you learned?”, Emily actually seemed antsy to inquire, correcting the sapphire necklace against her chest as if to use it as a prop. Kayla’s ears came back up gently, and her muzzle smiled with a little hopefulness.

I learned the value of a cheeseburger.”, the young fox provided as her food for thought. When that provoked nothing more than a baffled expression from Emily, thinking Kayla might have been teasing, the fox decided to explain with a sway of her tail.

You got me one from the food court a long time ago. I was good that day, and you were busy, so you got one for me for lunch. I was so used to eating healthy stuff from the replicator, it was really special – you letting me have it. As I learned walking with you today, I saw it’s only one credit.”, the grand concept of ‘cheeseburger theorem’ was coined as the cornerstone of Kayla’s grasp of value, using the fast food burger as an easy weight and measure. With a toothy grin, almost silly in her wisdom, the necklace she bought was pointed at by a pink claw.

Twenty two thousand cheeseburgers. That is a ton of cheeseburgers.”, the eight year old got to joke, but also provide what she felt was a solid answer.

Emily stifled a snicker, reaching up to hold the necklace she did so love. In her palm, she stared down at the blue stone again with the lightest of sighs, smiling.

It’s good that you understand.”, the human had to say, despite wanting to keep the silly thing. Kayla’s jovial expression became more… calculated, at that note; the fox’s older side taking some charge, even with her pants half down.

Glad you agree. Since you said the necklace had to go back until I learned, I’m going to tell you to keep it again. I have one-point-three million cheeseburgers in the bank, and I can’t eat that many by myself. I can swing it, and want to, so please?”, Kayla got, for all of her mistakes and errors today, to finally say with some weight behind it. She was an ex-Penitatas; when given an ultimatum as a goal, she was going to try and reach it.

With little more than a quiet smile, staring with butterflies in her stomach, Emily kissed Kayla on the side of her muzzle and tucked the fox back into her hug. She’d not argue, as hard as Kayla worked, just to tell her to stop being silly and love her ridiculous, shiny rock.

I love you, my orange lil’ pumpkin.”, Emily spoke with a bashful laugh tucked stiffly at the end, reeling pleasantly from being told she was worth so much. For all she had been through, and was feeling so bad for having done, being told such a thing was all Kayla really needed to smile.

Love you too ma’.”, the fox too allowed her mistakes to be bygones.

There is one thing left for me to ask though, for everything to make sense. Jacob has been telling me a few things, and I think this question is considered rude… but I don’t know how else to make sense of what I have, so please don’t punish me if this is a bad question, okay?”, the fox wanted to finish her lesson as her muzzle ended more up at Emily’s shoulder; the drakes letting Zachary off Patrick’s lap down the sofa, even if the boy remained such a sputtering mess. Kayla had to lift a brow in fact, delaying her own question at the shine of Zach’s nose, wanting to run over there and wipe it for him since he hadn’t realized what a well-spanked train-wreck he looked.

Um… What does dad make?”, she asked of his wages and the family income, seeing as Jacob seemed to hint to her that those things can be touchy, private subjects. Emily hummed rather understandingly though, having had a feeling that Kayla would need a second frame of reference for the whole picture to make sense. Value was one thing, but Kayla had to figure out where she stood.

About forty seven hundred credits a month.”, she leaned towards her daughter’s ears to whisper. Ears that folded tensely, as soon as told.

Eyes widening, and muzzle puffing oddly, she experienced what Jacob did the moment he looked at her data-pad and saw all those zeros. She was a millionaire.

The… amount that I have isn’t normal, is it?”, her voice stumbled over it awkwardly, as if perturbed by it.

It would be considered obscene.”, Emily was honest, so Kayla might finally learn the rung she stood upon. It made the vulpine girl sigh, and somewhat roughly.

“… I must have looked like a horrible person to dad.”, the CEO of Ackart Enterprises realized too many things at once, learning that the items she found out were expensive today, she could buy thousands of times over. It was no wonder that she got under Alex’s skin.

He makes mistakes too. We understood your level of knowledge, and he got mad anyway.”, Emily let off her tongue with a hint of spice, like she still wanted to scold the heck out of her husband. Needing to swallow back some of the more stressful notes to avoid rattling her eight year old side of her mind, the mature woman in Kayla’s young head gave it all her best thought.

“… I think I’ll make my first reparations payment, now that I get how big my debt is. I have a ton more gifts I want to get people too.”, she mused for her own planning, and to more kindly announce that Emily should expect some authorization requests – at least once she could use her data-pad again, when her privileges were restored.

In fact, with this much in Federation credits, she could rent one of those holo-suite things she’d heard about! Heck, she could likely buy the whole building, and learn how to code their programs as a new side hobby. She could try and vacation somewhere next summer again, or maybe even think of some way to make Christmas less sullen for the Penitatas district. Some ideas were starting to make the sly fox think of ways she could have fun with her family and friends, and put all that work of hers’ to good use – currency having meaning, and exceptionally willing to share. That was more than enough to get her tail to swish again, finally able to let that new bank account not be so taboo.

With everything settled within their familial union, the pair spent only another minute together before the efforts of the Rah`mar’s made them want to get up and follow suit. One fox’s playful print underwear disappeared under her jeans once more, and a plain white brief ended up around the smaller hips of a sorrier, sorer boy. Patrick and Thomas weren’t going to bother sending him off to the corner to cry himself dry while they were still in the middle of their mall trip, and would get the boy used to standing in his very own corner at home. There was still the CornerStool to introduce, but that kiddie-seat of his’ should be more than sufficient to have him crying again until his nose was tightly tucked in that nook; that bushy tail swung like a frustrated flail. The boy wiping his eyes, and finally his nose with the sorriest of looks across his face, Zachary did at least make eye contact with his fellow Aspatrian to give her a quick wave with a few of his fingers; looking exhausted, and quite pained. It was a down sort of expression, but he at least didn’t look sad any longer – a harsh punishment did wonders for guilty feelings.

While Patrick and Emily exchanged spanking implements back, Zach kept an eye on his fathers as he took small, soft steps, seemingly wanting to make sure he could move a few feet without getting in trouble for wandering. He inched his way cautiously toward Kayla with his tail still restless, and with his paws clutched together almost as high as his neck to make sure he didn’t rub the scorching desert that was the seat of his red shorts. It throbbed and burned so badly, the only thing really keeping him “behaved” in that regard is very, very dearly wanting no further swats of anything to his battered backside. Once up to her, looking a tiny mess of sniffles, the social boy had to admire how tall and straight Kayla could stand, and how casually she could smile even if her eyes had a familiar tinge of red. It was the only way you could even tell she submitted to anything painful, as strong and outwardly sunny as that face could seem, hopefully soothed properly talked out with her mother. His fellow fox didn’t seem to carry the same weight she did, coming to learn she wasn’t as much of a brat as she thought, through the will of a mother that refused to let her feel such a way any longer.

There was just something about that girl, one pink-clawed paw holding the other like a grown woman, no matter her height.

“… Thank you for staying with me, when I needed someone.”, young Mister Weiler decided to thank Kayla in full panglish, knowing their native tongue to not be very native to her. His voice was quieter, and a little hoarse in its boyish ways.

And for not turning your tail up at me, when I told you what I did.”, his dark eyes tipped away with a slight turn of his muzzle, trying not to hunch over like such a sorry kit and feeling half unable to help it, even if his words were more from his older side. Kayla’s forgiving nature and camaraderie let him be a little better for his new fathers, and there was an apologetic old engineer inside of him that was particularly thankful for that.

For it, he got a young feminine paw atop his head to ruffle his fur. The older fox seeming to just smile, that note of young play turned caring for him as it did earlier; both of Kayla’s paws coming up to give his ears a quick, light petting. He certainly did deserve to live, and she hoped he could learn to forgive himself.

I’m not going to snub someone who isn’t a jerk.”, Kayla loosely chuckled, surely less meek than the actual boy was. Zach didn’t get as obscure a word as ‘snub’, but he could guess, and still got the picture. Even teary-eyed, nose wanting to leak, the boy’s orange little muzzle tried to curl into a happier expression.

Oh, by the way Kayla!”, suddenly erupted from above all four Aspatrian ears, lively and with flamboyance. Just as abrupt as the words came out, the older girl was kissed atop her head by a raptor-ish snout; spiky bangs flattening against her forehead and ears splaying out to her sides, snapping back up with the withdrawal of the tooth-laden maw.

Aside from helping Zach, thank you for making sure I wouldn’t be blown up in my sleep by laser-beams from outer space.”, Thomas went to show just how peppily just about anything could come out of his mouth, making a twin, open clawed gesture to the ceiling to share his appreciation for what she went on to do after the pair of drakes met her; stopping Velius from slaughtering them all with the planet’s own orbital defense weaponry. Zachary looked up, and with a dumb look across his muzzle, merely sniffed.

I’m helping Starfleet get those things back up and running. But it’s hush-hush, I’m not allowed to talk about it.”, that budding CEO looked up and smiled in acceptance of that strange thank-you, which made Zachary even more bewildered that the concoction of a sentence Thomas spewed made sense to the girl.

Then the moment of realization finally smacked the man that spent too much time either in an engine, a weapons array, or inebriated with his head in any nondescript hole it could find, so long as the harmonics of the area were music to his ears. There was supposed to be a famous Aspatrian on Earth. But, she was a she, so no one really cared – the reality of gender on an Aspatrian vessel. Wasn’t she… ?

Are you the hacker that caused all those problems with the defense network, so I could blow my engine room to pieces and be confident we’d be caught before someone shot me?”, Zachary questioned with an odd tone to his voice, considering the events of the incident he knew so little about were part of his betrayal plan to survive throwing everyone into their paddle-wielding prisons. Thomas snickered, but Patrick craned his neck over from his conversation with Emily.

No, she’s the hacker who stopped it. The good one.”, he added in his more direct and calmer way, sounding surprised Kayla didn’t detail her feats. In this case, the vulpine girl smiled toothily, having had a bit of fun being a “normal” person for a while, and not Packet-Storm to someone.

That’s me!”, she affirmed.

She was the bad one before that though.”, once again came out of Thomas’ overly friendly mouth far too easily, which made Kayla’s fun smile that much more… strained.

That’s… also me. Hence the Penitatas stint.”, those black tipped ears of hers’ did also accept, followed by a light sigh – figuring that would be a pretty fair explanation as to why she experienced the same things Zachary did.

Zachary actually let off a loose chuckle. Timid and different in his own ways, and also so ungodly aching with more to see before bed tonight, he dreaded, he didn’t seem too phased by learning who she was. A big time hacker huh – that’s neat! At least they both knew how to use their minds and their paws, and… well, both technically broke things with what they made. It let him feel a little closer, and did want to get to know the girl better.

So, ah… ”, Zach tried to let any sort of panglish sound out of his muzzle so his parents wouldn’t chime in any further, and just gave the older fox some decent eye contact; blue ones, to his particularly more reddened dark ones.

Friends? Maybe?”, the boy proved himself to be anything but a loner, asking rather directly if she wouldn’t mind seeing him again; his head tipped, and his ears back. Such a stance of body language would have been inappropriate toward a woman back at home, far too submissive, but she was older than he, and he very much didn’t want to go back to having no one.

I didn’t disobey my rules to come see you, just to drop you on your tail. I’m glad to have you in the district.”, Kayla’s happy response brought Zach quite a bit of relief, having gotten a couple of fearful butterflies. He was freshly six, and she well into eight, making a bit of a gap. Kayla had always been the youngest of her group too, so she knew how that felt.

“… Maybe you could do my claws, and I do yours’?”, Zachary asked with an underlying hopeful note, and perhaps even a hint of shyness considering what he was asking, scuffing a shoe into the floor with a swaying wag of his vulpine brush of fur. Aspatria was quite okay with men being together, but a male doing anything feminine or sharing in status the same as a female was a rather quick way to get into some bloody trouble. But, same as he’d like adorable underpants, he’d love to have such polished claws – even if a Penitatas couldn’t have them painted pink, regardless of gender.

That muzzle of Kayla’s cracked into a faint giggle, and before she could so much as reply, Emily cut in from the words the girl had spoken before.

That reminds me, could we be your go-to babysitters for Zachary as well? I totally don’t mind another Aspatrian Penitatas around my house, and I think it would be a great opportunity for Kayla.”, the human mother of the group was particularly hopeful she could set up, although she had distinct reasons for that she wasn’t going to say aloud to Kayla quite yet.

Just as she was thinking about when she bought the fox her new toy hover-car, she wondered if she’d enjoy getting the opportunity to learn some parenting skills. Zachary was younger than her just enough to offset her own young age, if she’d realize any Penitatas she came to rear would likely become her friend too – that was just the sort of person she was, from the guardianship qualities she already showed her. Even if it was just to help Zach with his homework, or cope with something; there were things to take away from being someone’s guiding elder, even if she found it too hard at her age to take a ruler to his paw, should he do something to warrant more than words from her. Keeping those thoughts up her sleeve, the two foxes merely saw it as a way to get to see one another more often. Zach did want to hear about this hacker business, unfamiliar with Packet-Storm as he was. Growing up under a red sky doesn’t give you access to the news from across the stars.

That would be great!”, Patrick said the most happily as Kayla had heard the man today, almost as if he wanted to ask the same thing. Emily was already trusted like a master after how well their exam day went, and Kayla would be the best person to adjust their son he could think of. Not to mention they needed support, just the same as Zachary did in this new parental adventure of their marital life.

And, with the tap of two phones, contacts and addresses were shared, and two individual foxes became a pair.

Finally, an entire group of guys in her life. Maybe Jacob wouldn’t have to feel like he’s surrounded by girls all the time, granted he didn’t mind another Penitatas in his circle. An ex-pirate and an ex-military doctor did feel a little… clashing, when Kayla pondered it; not that either of the boys were the sort to fight.

Offered a claw by Thomas when it was time to leave that dim lounge room to return to the skylight and bustle, wanting to hold Zach’s paw to ensure he didn’t get lost on the way back to the hover-car, the boy did turn to his fellow fox, one last time.

Va’ra.”, Zachary slipped over his shoulder as an Aspatrian ‘goodbye’, so soft and without any harsh sound from his young muzzle. While meek, it was a little hopeful. Appreciative, at the very least.

Va’ra Zach. Hak’viel.”, Kayla got up onto the toes of her shoes in a perky bounce at her age, to see him off with another taste of home; struggling on the second phrase, with its syllables more difficult and being unsure if she was recalling the words right in order to wish the Penitatas ‘restful comfort’. Emily raised a brow, so unused to Kayla even humoring saying a single thing in Aspatrian that wasn’t ‘tak domai!’, and even then, she’d prefer you didn’t listen.

Zachary, however, dropped his head to hang with one heck of a snicker. Before the Rah`mar’s could so much as get him out the open door, the muzzle that had a hard time looking anything but meek split into a laugh, even if his wet little nose sounded awful.

Those words don’t mean what you think they mean!”, the boy shot back before he was gone; that orange and white tail again being the last thing Kayla would see of him. The ‘restful comfort’ a tail-peddling street urchin knew, referred to essentially hoping you could lay down and “get one off” comfortably.

She wished him a happy wank – and he sure needed a laugh.

A human and a fox now alone, standing together in that lounge room together, Kayla’s ears flicked to their full and upright positions with just a shy sort of look across her face. She’d surely made some mistakes today, and her backside knew it well, but she was willing to be the “tough girl” again.

Do you think we can go shopping together again mom? Maybe I can stick to the old ‘paw’s length’ rule again, so both of us feel better?”, Kayla felt like she had picked up one of those loose timid fetters Zachary left behind, swaying her tail hopefully. She didn’t need to do any more bits of learning, and she had already gotten a really nice toy to spend some time with – Emily could lead the way for all she cared, just wanting to spend some time with the mother that made a bad day so much better, instead of sitting out, if allowed.

Sounds good to me. I have something to show you too, by the way. Your father sent a picture while I was looking for you; I noticed it when Patrick and I sync’d contacts.”, Emily approved of rather happily, still wanting to see if she could at all humor Kayla with some claw-polish – it’d be a waste to not at least try after seeing her so cute with those pink claws. Phone in her hands, the human woman gave a couple of taps before handing it downward to Kayla; the young fox taking it into her paws calmly and with a curious look at the screen.

Kayla managed to make both an awkward, big smile, as well as dart her ears backward in a less enthused expression. Leaving the phone in a single paw, some of those pink claws went into her vision as she held her muzzle in absolute surprise.

It was one of the paddle-maker’s wooden tables, and quite possibly the very one Kayla sat at to sand and finish her blistering-grade paddle. Upon its surface was an unfinished cherry-hued synth-wood paddle beside a color drawing, recognizing her father’s pencil-work mixed in with what had to be that friendly, bearded ex-Penitatas’. Akin to her first paddle, a strong nod was taken from it – an ornate, now almost flaming swirled fox tail; orange and red, and full of style. Above and below it, assigned an orange color exactly like her own fur, were the words ‘Ackart Enterprises’; her last name on top, and the other word below, all encompassing the circular swoosh of tail. They even kept the bare wood grain, and didn’t look like they were planning to do a background paint color, just like she chose to do for her own paddle on her eighth birthday.

We made you a logo!’, the picture was captioned, by Alex Targate. She did tell her dad she wanted one.

Not only was it cool looking, but there was something strangely fitting about having it on an instrument of her discipline in this new frontier of her life. It was just…

That paddle is visibly bigger. And thicker.”, Kayla mumbled aloud very… awkwardly; pitches dancing about.

And it’s just an ornament for the wall by your stool, if you don’t do anything to earn it.”, Emily felt the need to say aloud, since Kayla was still apparently learning the differences between Penitatas life and that of a normal child’s. She’d never see the thing unless she did something bad enough… but, it was there, and a nice reason to mind her behaviors.

“… Do you mind if I pull something up on your phone before we go? Give you a little something to authorize?”, Kayla lifted a brow at the phone in her paw, realizing it was good for other things other than sharing paddle pictures, and that certainly gave her an idea.

All it would take was a few taps, little time, and perhaps a cheeseburger – she reminded herself she could eat that fast-food delight on her own accord now!

Back out into clear skies of blue and the rush of hover-cars sailing the airways, a small black one cut from the low-altitude lane to descend upon a quiet suburban street, housing the region’s incarcerated and those whom cared for them. Landing with hardly a sound as lightly as a good hover-engine settled a car down on its struts, a pair of male drakes popped from their respective doors up front with a moderate haste in escaping their vehicle. Trudging along with looks on their faces, the two men stepped up to a single rear door and popped it open to find a hanging head with a tense muzzle, toothily growling with wet cheeks. Once Zachary had been strapped into his booster seat for a safe ride home at his small size, the boy couldn’t help but kick his feet and have the tantrum they feared – treating their ears to all sorts of frustrated cries the whole way home.

Right away Zach’s head turned, frowning and feeling so stupid, but at the same time, the poor little guy was awfully desperate; his tail sure said so, smacking the seat with repetitive ‘pop!’s as hard as he swung the thing.

This – seat – hurts.”, the little Mister Weiler assured with a pain-stricken growl for his undoubtedly annoying lament that entire ride, at least sobbing lightly with his eyes open at this point. The thing wasn’t really padded in any way, and he sure wasn’t used to sitting on one giant bruised set of boyish haunches.

I’m entirely sure it does, but please feel a little… more reserved, than that.”, Thomas was the one to suggest in light of his son’s overzealous fit of tears with one of his claw’s more animated flicks, despite still being at least a little understanding. He’d not be punished for it – that seat was enough.

Patrick reached into the car and began working the latch for the seat, not wanting his son to suffer needlessly now that they were home. He could let the pain ease while he stood in the corner for a while, wrapping this all up into a good lesson, despite the boy going to surely wonder for a long while when the heck they were going to let him out; today’s corner time getting bumped to a more Penitatas-appropriate one hour stint. Quite eagerly did Zachary get to his shoes and out of the car with the help of his father’s claws, even if he knew where he was about to go. Wasn’t sitting – didn’t care!

And as the pair finished wiping Zachary’s eyes, and his nose once again, feeling at least a little closer to their boy now that he was interacting with them and not being so silent, the drakes got to learn their first Aspatrian trait. In the middle of his walking, a few paces ahead of his parents, the young boy’s ears twitched and flicked; the fox coming to stop with a shift of his tail. It got a raise of saurian eye-ridges, but as those ears pivoted and his head turned to look up, Patrick and Thomas came to see a white quad-copter coming their way – and Zach hearing it significantly further away than they ever could have. Darting right overhead and slowing down, Patrick hummed.

Did you order anything hun?”, he wondered, not expecting anything himself. Thomas merely shook his head with a raptor-like sound of denial from his throat; the delivery vehicle catching inquisitive vulpine eyes to examine it as it lowered down in front of them – the way you’d expect a tiny engineer, with his tail-fur getting caught up in the wind of the blades.

A small box ended up on the front walkway, and with that, the drone lifted off and made a dash. Thomas scooped the box up as Patrick trotted alongside, both sticking their snouts in to read the label.

From Kayla Ackart? Immediate delivery?”, Thomas said with surprise, and the second part with a slight recoil to go with that same tone. The shipping alone had to be a fortune to arrive so fast – what on Earth did that girl send?

But, the box in their claws was thanks to their sharing of address data with Emily’s phone, and the kind act of one fox to another, with a willing mother. Sharing a look with one another, the husbands slit the box’s tape with their claws in an effortless motion and popped it open – the coming sight bringing Zachary’s face to light up, wagging tail aching or not.

Not having expected a present, especially so suddenly, the new Penitatas was incredibly thankful to be handed an orange, fuzzy plush Aspatrian; one he instinctively clutched and hugged right to his chest, tucking his muzzle in against it with a big smile and closed eyes – calming his spirit. Kayla knew what that life was like, and wanted him to never feel alone in his room again; again proving her undying support of emotional companions, as if it should have been a Penitatas requirement. It was the same simple sort of soft friend Melissa was, and from the same maker, just that Kayla picked more feminine colors for Zach’s – a pink top with a dark gray pair of shorts, perhaps better fitting for a boy that obviously liked her underpants a lot, along with properly preened claws.

I love him… ”, Zachary’s small voice quietly said in the most contented he had been all day, whiskers tucked against the plush. To his sentiment, two snouts nuzzled up against his shoulders and his new little friend.

For all the things she had done in life, spreading a little sunshine was to be Miss Ackart’s way.

You can hold him while you’re in the corner. You’ll have plenty of time to think of a name.”, Patrick spoke softly and with his own smile, finally feeling the spark of family form within their own trio. The next hour could be less boring, and more comforting that way.