Kayla: A Life of Love and Loss

The 28th century was but a single stop in time for the technology of rejuvenation, when the social systems created around it had already made billions see more sunrises than a single lifetime had to offer. From its earliest inception did it incarcerate Earth’s convicts, forming generations of Penitatas who served their time until the day of their parole began an adventure anew. From the first Melody sung by a Lurking Dragon, their various stories made for countless memories – and at least one thankful fox. (Story Sixty-Two)
Concept by Lurking Dragon
Kayla and story by Professor Bob
More Kayla Stuff!: www.Professor-Bob.net

October’s last day still brought around the timeless Earth tradition that was Halloween. For the first time in literally ages, Ki`rene trotted enthusiastically along a landing strip they called a neighborhood street under the cover of darkness, surrounded by so many exuberant young voices in costume; the various baskets they carried twinkling light like lanterns of old, making the rain-soaked asphalt and parked hover-cars shimmer damply from the showers that rolled through earlier in the day. Following suit in the festivities as a larger and taller creature than most as a grown female drake, she shed her cultural modesty as an Earth-raised Drakonian to leave her clothing at home and don a more appropriate costume for her dinosaur-like, raptor shape. With her red sofa blanket thrown over her back and a matching scarf around her neck, her camping saddle bags turned her into a pack animal of Earth’s past, joining in as a scale-clad caravan camel in the neighborhoods adjacent the Penitatas district; her home street of Lochgelly dim and silent, a world apart from the realm of kids having fun. Exploring every avenue of the freedoms her silver ‘C’s provided her, Kayla would surely never miss what would be her first ever Halloween, much to Ki`rene’s new son’s perturbed embarrassment after the gleeful fox begged him to join her with a flailing tail and such puppy-dog eyes, some days back.

It was normal for rejuves like them to dress up in costumes and trick-or-treat like the Kindern, but with a flair all of their own; a far more social affair that stretched into the night, rife with parties and even passing out candy of their own to the Kindern that would visit those with non-’K’ letters on their way by. That being said, the dignified and reserved twelve year old Jacob had always rejuvenated to in the past never participated in such things, avoiding it like the plague. In forcing himself to go along with it for Kayla, he did so with a stiff snout with painted rosy scales, dressed in a fresh white doctor’s coat with a pumpkin shaped bucket clutched awkwardly in his claws while his “nurse” behaved far more animatedly at his side, laughing and talking with any passer-by that was friendly with them; quite literally a child that was elated to be let out into the world like she dreamed, seeing so many people walking around the dim street-ways, including the real kids that were sheltered from her as a Penitatas. Kayla picked out matching costumes to go as a couple, opting for the more historical versions of their attire, complete with real stethoscopes over their shoulders and a vintage nursing cap between her pert ears if she was going to play with the occupation Jacob would be returning to on this trip through life once more, leaving military rank pins in the past. If she couldn’t be her Commander’s Ensign, she could at least be her doctor’s nurse, she did so craftily figure in trying to make this fun for him too. Boy did poor Jacob still look so ailing as he put himself through it all – Ki`rene catching those very moments the people answering their doors would notice his Medicalos ‘M’s to begin liberally dumping candy into his pumpkin, soon to be melted by the radiating heat of his own furiously blushing Karrian muzzle. By golly was it sweet though, seeing him humor his sweetheart.

At least the day rewarded Jacob for his goodwill and love for his adventurous fox, giving him that rain shower in the afternoon. For someone that was so shy over being seen acting their age, Zachary ended up being the perfect friend that he knew wouldn’t think anything of it, and that left the two tumbling rambunctiously through her backyard for over an hour – just as he wanted. Ki`rene did at least snap a picture of the mud slathered duo in case she ever needed to remind Jacob that he wasn’t always an old man in a child’s body, and sure knew how to play when he permitted it. Her boys made a mess of themselves, but she wasn’t one to mind helping shower all that mud out of Zach’s fur afterward, always happy to lend a claw like that, especially to someone Jacob was clearly becoming so friendly with.

Following in tow tonight to play her own role in Kayla and Jacob’s wake, Ki`rene granted the pair a fair degree of distance so they could enjoy their independence without an adult needlessly looming. In getting to be a chaperon in an unfamiliar residential neighborhood, Ki`rene used her saddle bags to pass out the treasure-trove of full-size candy the young CEO of Ackart Enterprises purchased if she was to participate in this night, never being one to skimp on gifts and giving as it were. It was a delight for the long-lived woman to be able to do such a thing when the modern Penitatas she had cared for were restricted from a day like Halloween, now having a pair of kids she could hastily volunteer to join if it meant being able to see so many young ones enjoy themselves and give candy out again.

Back when she was a Penitatas well over a hundred and fifty years ago, it was one of the few times she could freely go out into the district for some fun with her friends when it was still permissible for a penny to have roam outside of their backyard. It was spanking-free for the most part, even if the occasional piece of candy had been doped to taste excessively vile without being able to tell which would be the “punishment” kind. The parents of Penitatas households were discreet about slipping in bits of their punitive stash, and more likely to pass them to Penitatas they didn’t like. With the reform of the Penitatas Justice System that came much later, Halloween came to be abruptly barred from Penitatas with the mantra of “balanced but strict” Emily spoke of so recently lending a hand to it, taking away treats and a child’s funner activities to make up for some of the lifestyle changes that occurred. Not every outcome of the reform was a comfort measure, when a Penitatas’ place within their white walls was to be punished. It left her daughter Ninne at home with the Targates, idly working on a school assignment at their dinner table as if it was any other day… quite likely to be sent to Kayla’s bed for her curfew before the Completatas and Medicalos returned from their extended evening of the freedom she was denied.

At least the bits of candy Ninne would get sneakily passed to her out of sight wouldn’t be doped with anything foul these days, so long as no one pawned their candy-corn off on her. Ninne wouldn’t go entirely without; Ki`rene knew all the little tricks, and neither Kayla or Jacob would take it too far with the judgment they had.

So while Kayla chatted up a group of Voluntarus that recognized the vulpine face behind that olden-times nurse uniform she wore, asking about her work; rejuves talking older subjects as they tended to when you gathered them together in clusters; Ki`rene was happily being the “cool mom” in getting to give out such fist-fulls of candy to anyone that approached her. It was really hard to be the that mom in a Penitatas neighborhood, strict as she needed to be, but everyone knew she sure tried in her gentle, endearing ways.

Take care you all!”, she bade farewell to her own clustering of Voluntarus with the last toss of Kayla’s generous confections into the final waiting bucket; its colorful glow of light coming to wobble from the weight.

The slits of Ki`rene’s ears picked up a whine of protest, sharp and elongatedly childlike nearby as the rejuvenated children made off around her, dispersing into the street-way for the next home or passing mobile candy-giver; not that any of them looked like a historical caravan animal the way she could.

Looking around the night-darkened street with all its moving light sources, a bit of Halloween orange struck the shine of her yellow eyes just a couple of steps away, and so low to the ground. A little human girl tucked tightly against what had to have been her mother, dressed in what was likely the pinkest, most princess-like outfit she could find at the store; some of that magical princess sort of thing Emily yearned to have a kid for, complete with a petite white wand and pumpkin-hued bucket. The grown woman she clutched, face shoved into her pant leg, must have noticed that sparkle of the bucket’s light cross the movement of Ki`rene’s slit iris as they met gazes immediately, coming to make an embarrassed, worried sort of face. It didn’t take much to deduce that the little one with a voice that matched her physical age, surely no older than five, was a Kindern that had stayed out into the later rejuvenated person’s hours feeling like a celebrity with all these other “kids” giving her candy just as readily as the grown-ups.

She’s not going to hurt you sweetie. Go on, she’s all yours now.”, the Kindern’s mother tried to encourage her daughter, unable to kneel down as tightly as her knee was being squeezed by a pair of tiny, deathly intimidated arms. Right away the little girl made a fearful whine, like a hum. Not wanting her child to look that of a racist in the awkward situation of not wanting to give a perky “trick-or-treat” to the Drakonian woman the same as everyone else, the older of the pair swallowed.

“… I’m very sorry ma’am, she’s just sca-… ”, she pressed to explain for the sake of her child’s hesitation, unfamiliar with the size and appearance of a Drakonian as young as she was, but stopped short.

Knowing quite well why a very young Kindern would hide their face and taking no offense to it, the shy act merely made Ki`rene perk up playfully in her hope of perhaps being able to change all that. With the slide of a hind-claw against the dampened asphalt, she turned to face the little one and squatted down as low as she could get her saurian figure to go with a rearward reach for some candy. Tucking her form against the ground, negating the fear-factor of her height with a forward bow, the candy she fetched was balanced upon the back of her knuckles, balling up her reptilian fingers to hide her claws. With little more than a downward tip of her snout to assume the profile of a harmless house-pet with her big raptor-like eyes, even her mouth and its sharp teeth disappeared; the form of her figure as nonthreatening and “cute” as she could think to make it, with the thick of her tail sticking partly up and back behind her. Slowly, and as thoughtfully as she could, Ki`rene reached her closed claw out along the ground to offer what the Kindern girl was too scared to request from her; a faint, guarded hint of a stare keeping watch against her mom’s leg.

See sweetie?”, her mother said quietly, knowing Ki`rene was going well out of her way to huddle up against the wet ground and shrink as she did with her blanket’s drape touching the roadway. Though her head being pointed somewhat downward made it neigh impossible to see, the motherly drake gave one of her kindest smiles in wanting the child to warm up to her.

Big things don’t have to be scary, little dear.”, she came to say against the cool dampness below, tightening her throat and focusing deeply on the trained control she used to speak panglish in order to sound softer than appearances would allow – the truth of that matter deeper than what could be seen.

It took a good moment, but the little one did turn around to get a better look at the giant scaly kitten squished against the ground like a loaf of bread with eyes even lower than her own, far from towering any longer. She looked so conflicted, and so unsure, but with the same hand that held her wand did she creep a little further forward to lift the two full-sized bars of soft chocolate Ki`rene picked for her off the back of her claw, needing to bring them in close before her small fingers lost the big things. Never did Ki`rene let herself so much as twitch, not wanting to spook when the dear wished for a treat and not a trick. She just squinted happily, making that smile you couldn’t see a bit more obvious.

Getting to be that loving sort of motherly figure took entire lifetimes, coming from a difficult and oft times heartbreaking past, rife with hardship and pain. She wasn’t always the wise and protective person she was now, endlessly sweet with her Penitatas and defensive of Kayla on her parole day as if she was sheltering her own young; all having started somewhere, and her beginnings coming from a bygone time upon a younger Earth.

Two hundred and thirteen years ago began what would be that wild ride, when a Drakonian couple immigrated to the heart of the Federation with the idea of a fresh start in a thriving place. While they may have lacked one of the world’s parenting licenses needed to conceive a child, coming from one of the farther reaching Drakonian colonies together, they didn’t need one with an egg already tucked in for their journey. Their old home didn’t mandate Kensington sterilization the same as Earth did, figuring it was as good time as any to form a family before red tape got in the way. It would have been best for them to try adopting one of Earth’s rejuvenated children first though, as perhaps they might have realized some of their faults before that egg hatched. It wasn’t that the drake couple was abusive or mean – far from it at the end of the day, as to be the biggest weakness in their parenting. Their hatchling daughter was shown a degree of apathy over the things she did, and given free reign to the extent that they rarely ever attempted so much as scolding her, easily giving in to tantrums in their unwillingness to stifle their child. When she got older and became a willful teenager, and defiant attitudes were all they got for their efforts and words, the mother and father were at a loss; not knowing what to do, and too afraid to make the pushy, scaly punk agitated.

Once she fell in with a bad crowd and made friends she shouldn’t have, it was too late. That teenager became one part of a tiny trio of Drakonian hellions, darting through the streetlights in saurian stride under the cover of urban twilight. As bad, aggressive high school Kindern would if so allowed, their pastimes became destructive. One jumped upon hover-car later, landing on it from a ledge up high to shatter its windows as a passing act of amusement, had her silver ‘K’s changed to the ‘J’s of a Juvenalas Penitatas at the age of sixteen. It was mandated that she was to be grounded to her home, and the local judiciary assigned her a live-in mistress to uphold the rule of penance and ensure her parents enforced every bit of it. Not one to obey, much less quietly accept the first tail chewings of her life at that age, the efforts fell upon stubborn scales. All the human woman wanted to do was “get her into line”, and that did nothing to solve the core issues stemming from her parents being timid and disconnected.

The actions of a wayward teenager would have her in cuffs again once she turned eighteen, after being caught on one of her frequent escapes of the house at night. The continued disobedience was already risking an escalation to her to being a full Penitatas as it was, seeing being a Juvenalas failing as she approached adulthood, but being arrested for setting fire to an abandoned building in the city was the final nail in the drake’s proverbial coffin… the incident being an accident having no impact. Frustrated and lashing out, she merely intended to run away from home for a little while to send a message to that “damn mistress”, wanting to make herself a small fire to keep warm with when it spread. She never got to see what being an adult was like before being charged as one and sent away to be imprisoned, too young to know what this vast universe had to offer, or what she had even gotten herself into.

Ki`rene was a terrible kid, certainly, but she’d always come to wish in the future that everyone didn’t give up on her so easily, leaving her to feel like she was a contemptible burden. They weren’t there for her – what could a thickheaded jerk do when she grew up simply allowed to raise hell as she pleased, only for everyone to try and shove her into a corner later? No one thought she’d respond that way as a Kindern – tit for tat?

From courtroom to rejuvenator, that eighteen year old became a five year old Penitatas; life ending before it began, for the choices in life a child could make. What a different and harsh time it was too, to be wearing silver ‘P’s upon such young claws. Before the reform of the Penitatas Justice System she would appreciate as a parent in the far future, a nano-web was promptly installed within her brain and adjusted in power just up to the point her eyes were forced to unwillingly water against the fearful trepidation her strong will was suppressing; stealing away that bit of her very person, compelled into her younger frame of mind. As Penitatas were corralled into communities tailored to their rearing, tucked away from the rest of society so only those willing saw such severe and profane things, a drake with the emotional weariness of her newly implanted device was whisked away from the city of her hatching to some new district across the region… they said it was called ‘Newstat’; a place for bad ‘pennies such as herself, so rubbed in by a rejuvenator technician at the courthouse.

Just as Kayla and the others sometimes heard their school called by the staff, it referred to the institution’s prior name of ‘Newstat Elementary’; an homage to the district it resided, preceding Calleet before it was ever established. It was one of those Penitatas-centric towns, forming a sprawling punitive suburbia with plenty of sidewalks where the present day Penitatas neighborhoods now stood; strip-malls and shops surrounding it when the future downtown and mall didn’t yet exist, with its elementary school for the punished populace standing right in the very same spot Kayla knew it to. Inhabited by the region’s incarcerated children and those who would punish them to the full accordance of the law, Newstat was a place where like-minded adults found camaraderie. Those parents of hard timers were all legally required to be ‘spankos’ as the group generally identified themselves by, being those who regularly enjoyed a sound spanking or several in their bedrooms and beyond. Society used their broad disciplinary knowledge and piqued intimate interest to ensure their smallest criminals were aptly punished as frequently as possible, and were so encouraged to do so even, so that these Penitatas would never fathom breaking the law again so long as they live. It gave rise to a plethora of traditions within the institution, including the floating hover-camera Ki`rene spotted as soon as she stepped hind-claw into her new home – the domicile of Miss and Ma’am Ulrich, making her Ki`rene Ulrich by the penny social requirements of the time.

For the first time in her life, Ki`rene was shown what actual consequence for one’s actions was, and that not everyone so easily tolerated a sharp-edged girl; a Drakonian maw giving her a tedious hour long tail chewing, only to have her hips well paddled by a white-scaled Karrian claw afterward under the faint whine of the family hover-cam, making a memento of the hysterical shrill roars and jerks of hind leg to enjoy on a later date – a perk of the duty then, when the “parenting” wasn’t so much a focus. She cried her fresh little eyes out for much of the evening, thrust into such an existence with the adult understanding it would not soon end, while lamenting it as a self-pitying five year old; young mind and nano-web alike. The first cycle of her thirty year ‘6x5-10’ sentence was meant to be memorably miserable like that, with such lengthy sentences more commonplace before the reform. She’d be chewed and spanked very often, even when she wasn’t busy being the defiant sass-maw she was at times, pulled straight out of being a bad teenager.

Beyond the lifestyle of constant punishment she had been given by the court, she also had five Special Punishment Days assigned for her to dread: that of her birthday and Diaspora, like everyone faced, along with Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas as a drake that grew up on Earth without knowledge of Drakon’s culture or holidays. The concept of agonizing trials of penance with lashes as hard as her parents could swing was one unchanged by time, going beyond the once a year she would have to do such a thing to Ninne when she knew full well what it felt like. When only soft time was intended to be focused on reform and rehabilitation back then, hard time was meant to be purely punishment alone – and a heavy one it was, rife with indignity and shame when given things to cry about.

Now, that wasn’t to say that Ki`rene fit into the mold she was intended to, regardless of that nano-web or how the system treated her as an individual. Her personality strong and her will just as powerful, she ended up a Penitatas that spoke her mind and fought to maintain the things that made her unique and comfortable within her own scales. Just as she had begun as a teen before being rejuvenated, the little raptor insisted on wearing a scarf so she wouldn’t feel so bare and plain when the sheer concept of a Drakonian wearing clothing didn’t even exist yet; the cold of the latter part of the year surely helping her get her first ones, which she put around her neck every day she was allowed. She wasn’t an easy Penitatas and surely did things her own way – far more often for worse, than for better.

[… Thank you for coming.]”, a six year old Ki`rene wished a passer-by out the front door exactly one year later as her first Penitatas birthday party was drawing to an end, after all the invited neighborhood children had played their games and instilled the spanks upon her that they won – and most rather curious and eager to win those games, just to see what it would be like to swing a metal bristled brush onto such hard scale when Ki`rene was the only non-human Penitatas in the entire district. It wasn’t that they disliked her, but rather that the lack of privacy a Penitatas had lent itself to the sharing of their disciplinary affairs; an accepted thing when it was at least interesting to wander the sidewalks looking to catch a glimpse of who was copping what through a purposely open window. The true horror of the day was still from the one-year-older girl’s parents anyway, awoken that morning by her drake mother for a whole series of spanks in birthday themed sets, just like her fleshy counterparts… surely to be screeching and bawling later when her Karrian mother played the role of “dad” for all her bedtime sets, and boy could she with the arms she had, the lumberjack.

Taking a moment to sniff and clear her little nostrils, having only gotten her last swats from the party’s games moments before, Ki`rene lifted the dangle of her blue scarf to wipe her eyes with it as another Penitatas came up toward the door to leave for home. Catching the bouncy step of a human girl with long blonde hair as the cloth’s drape fell away from her snout, the drake cracked a thankful, scant smile.

[Thank you very much for coming Aubrey.]”, the scaled girl who stood taller than her neighboring friend of the same age said more personally and far less monotone in the way her syllables hissed about in Drakonian; the happier sort of calm to her faintly teary words that Ninne would hear someday. The young human Penitatas scrunched her face into a knowing, silly little grin from both her cheer and that nano-web prodding her mind to act its age.

Aubrey won one of the games and spanked Ki`rene so lightly she couldn’t even feel it against her most worn, sore-to-the-touch scales. That was a friend, and also a bit of payback; the drake having done the same thing for her, on her own birthday. She shared a nuzzle from her snout to the girl’s shoulder on her way by, brushing across the baby blue strap of her dress to turn her head back and…

Stepped right up to her behind Aubrey was Scott, the neighborhood Voluntarus. He went to every party he was invited to, living in the Penitatas district to enjoy all the punitive affairs and bare derrieres. It left him with his hands behind his back, smiling from ear to ear waiting for his own personal “thank you” after what all he got to do to her hindquarters. Scott won one of the other games, and got an extra turn spanking her from it since he wasn’t a Penitatas like everyone else. Unlike Aubrey, the ten year old was out of place for his older age and had clearly swung as hard as he liked, dancing about the base of her tail too… suspiciously. It felt as if he had been teasingly looking for private creases of scale in his slow, purposeful smacks of the brush’s pointed metal bristles, taking advantage of his “intimate” proximity. Thanking every guest was a requirement for Penitatas; all a part of the tradition and ritual, and something they all did so unblinkingly in their shame and submission.

That shit-eating grin though, excited over some self-depreciation… Ki`rene’s snout tipped forward, eye-ridges curling in offense.

[As if I’d thank you, asshole. Get lost!]”, the birthday drake spat and snarled hard for a child, as if her nano-web wasn’t even there to make her sweet toward the punitive authority he came into her home with, waving in her face… well, her tail, but still.

That sure wiped the smug look off his face, and made the rest of the day even worse for Ki`rene, grabbed by the scruff of her neck rather promptly for that one. It was the sort of rowdy she was though, when marching to the beat of her own drum and protecting what she thought was right was ingrained to her very soul. Scott was a disrespectful vulture and she told him what he deserved to hear – to hell with being made to say nonsense like a robot.

At least one of her other Special Punishment Days had a fun element to it, and a bit of gambling – something Ki`rene did like as a Kindern teen. By the time she was seven years old and a fair bit bigger from being what was the raptor equivalent of a big toddler, Ki`rene could at least appreciate the big Penitatas egg hunt when Easter came, even if the initial punishment of the day still dampened things outright. Unlike other special days that operated solely on one’s age and merit, Easter was unique in that its severity could be changed by chance. A penny would be given a base swat count for all of the day’s coming spankings, tailored to them, and it would be their luck during the egg hunt that determined what that number would become after. The hundreds of pastel eggs all over Newstat’s public park were filled with coded chips, adding and removing swats from their counts when scanned, but the most special ones all came as red chips – that’s when you knew you found one of the very rare important ones that could greatly raise or lower your count, but the hunt was at least scaled toward easing the day’s spankings. No one would “play” such a game willingly if gathering eggs caused more harm than good.

Starting the day with forty-three weighty, heavy-handed blows of a standard dragon-paddle across the base of her tail and hips alike, that was the number Ki`rene hoped to make way better once her mothers had taken her to the park for the hunt. Sore but full of sassy, raptor-teeth baring energy, the growing drake hoped to use her size and abnormally limber body for her kind to collect a ton of eggs before time ran out; always wondering if being hatched on Earth helped her body adapt better when Drakonians were considered slower and more lumbering in this gravity. When the whistle was blown for the Penitatas to take off into the park, “Little Miss Ulrich’s” wiggling hips launched off of a hind-claw into a full sprinting stride, blazing into the park with a scarf as yellow as her eyes for the holiday.

She weaseled her larger size past some of the youngest Penitatas, snatching up some of the easy eggs ahead of them before deviating into the bushes to track down ones better hidden, holding to an inner hunch that those would be more likely to hold the coveted red chips within. Sly and knowing she was the most intimidating penny to an entire district of humans, Ki`rene held no qualms over snatching eggs others were working to reach, be it higher or lower than their arms could grab when her neck could reach out and nab the plastic-like eggs in her teeth if need be – a place the other kids would avoid sticking their fingers for sure.

When Ki`rene spotted an older Penitatas trying to get something out of a nearby tree; obviously an egg few would be able to see; the cheeky little drake with her mind on saving her tail took to a gleaming smirk, slipping right over to leap up and smack the egg right off the knot in the branch it rested within.

[Good eye, guy!]”, she both thanked and teased to the surprised face the boy held, wiggling the lavender colored egg she scooped up in her claw as she made off with what would have been his spoils.

By the time the Easter egg hunt was called to a stop some minutes later, Ki`rene had amassed a bounty of eggs in the small wicker basket her Karrian mom found for her to use. It was like a little pile of plastic rainbows with all the different colors, staring at it with a gambler’s pride and excitement while a few of the human kids gave her a bit of a look, having surely an egg or two fewer from her meddling and throwing her literal weight about. The scores of Newstat Penitatas were summoned to line up in front of tables the justice department set up, and one by one their eggs were unsealed and their contents scanned for their new number of spanks today to be unveiled. Any time a red chip appeared there was a commotion from the crowded lines. There was one sought-after chip that dropped your count to zero, potentially ending the day early, so it was always a big deal for the things to be spotted.

Once it was Ki`rene’s turn, she set her basket down on the table for an older human gentlemen with a small handheld scanner linked up with the justice department’s computer system – the prior iteration of PACS, where each Penitatas’ base Easter swat count was stored for their records. She stood with that same happy smile, claws fidgeting, hearing the man so gently speak the results of every chip.

Add one. Drop two. Drop another two. Drop one more.

With the very next egg, it cracked open into the man’s wrinkled fingers to reveal a translucent ruby red chip, and right away the other Penitatas in lines beside her squealed in delight. Ki`rene did too with a reptilian hiss of glee, fluttering her claws about along with her heart in childish anticipation. Please, be the ‘no swats’ chip!

Oh!”, the man exclaimed with a bit of calm surprise when he waved the scanner over the chip. Ki`rene’s maw flew right open into the biggest of childish smiles-…

Double swats.”, he said so plainly in his old voice, the drake’s look of outward elation contorted.

Those chips could be very good. They could also be very bad.

The scalded Penitatas’ reptilian eyes narrowed, realizing that chip came from the lavender colored egg. The one she sniped. It was well hidden in that tree either as a favor, or to punish a try-hard moron like her. Oh – fuck.

[It’s not mine, I don’t want it! Give it back!]”, Ki`rene spat from her mouth so quickly it was hardly intelligible even to those who were rather versed in Drakonian, leaping forward until her scaly breastbone was shoved up against the table in trying to reach for the chip; so promptly pulled away from her squirrely, swinging claw.

Big lil’ lady, it doesn’t work that way! Now let me scan the rest!”, the old man with the justice department raised his voice a little, using a “cautiously reminding” sort of geriatric tone that Ki`rene was stuck with the bad chip whether she liked it or not. Her eggs would all be counted, and in the order he selected them.

Ki`rene’s base was thirty-nine when that red chip was tallied, leaping her all the way to seventy-eight full-bore strokes of her Drakonian tailored paddles – the ones way worse than her standard one, slated to grace her today. By the time her claws were smacked away and her remaining eggs were added up; other Penitatas laughing at the stupid display; the fearful drake had dropped her count down to a still-horrific seventy-one. Frozen and without options, the whole show had at least summoned her Drakonian mother to pull her out of the predicament; though she surely wanted no place of where they were going, grabbed to be lead by the scruff of her neck.

The final number of the egg hunt began a public spanking right in the park, and that backtracking and stammering drakeling was paddled across her hips for so long with her harsher-studded dragon paddle that they were one of the last to leave – the entire district, adult and rejuvenated child alike, given plenty of time to see how spanking a Drakonian worked, and how effectively one can make them roar these shrill, still somehow feminine little cries. When the worst of the spankings always seemed to come at the end on these brutal and abusive days, that incredible swat count made for some honest, liberal tears until her ducts ran dry before bed that day when round three was instilled; scales broken into a mess of their equivalent of blisters long before the final blow.

If she had been a better penny and person back then, more akin to the fox she would later admire, perhaps Ki`rene would have accepted that she deserved her count to increase after the way she acted; such proper holiday karma for that chip coming from a misbegotten egg. She wasn’t that good of a girl, even if she was sorry for being the way she had been; some slack needed for how young she was in years. The Easter Bunny took the brunt of the blame and was eternally dammed as the drake’s personal demon forever forth.

Take your goddamn eggs back, and your colorful bullshit holiday.

But, of course, that was only one of Ki`rene’s other Special Punishment Days. The others were even less fun, and all of them extreme by design, sometimes hurting in different ways than the last. The worst of them wasn’t even Christmas, in the drake’s lineup.

Thanksgiving was typically assigned to only the worst offenders back in those old days, which should make it rather apparent to how harrowing it was crafted to be; something special for murderers, rapists and the like. The circuit court judge that sentenced Ki`rene took specific issue with her charge of arson, starting a fire that ended up burning down a building right in the middle of the city, arguing that there was no way she could have ever confirmed the place was “unoccupied” when she attempted to make that fire and claim it as her personal domicile… aside from the glaring fact that the building’s doors were chained up from the outside, the snobbish prick. Because of his notion that she could have killed people, Thanksgiving was given to her as if she was a violent offender for her first cycle with the possibility of it being replaced during her first parole hearing, and that landed her in the most harrowing public spanking spectacle of every year, commonly held in Newstat’s park in their district.

Near a cluster of inch-high saplings that would one day grow to be the trees Kayla would hide behind to call Cameron on the day she hacked into the law firm of Dembler Associates, the justice department had deposited a pillory made just for Ki`rene’s unique size and shape as a Drakonian child while the other twenty some-odd humans damned to this extra-special day had to share theirs in turns; the whole holiday affair pilgrim themed, utilizing olden-time punishment methods. While they were howling in the worst of their tears, getting lashed by switches and broad, heavy razor straps, Ki`rene’s equivalent punishment was essentially getting spanked with everything she commonly saw to make up for the excruciating whipping every soft-skin was getting – a formidable paddle assigned to her hips, a sharp-bristled brush for her tail, high and even low like Christmas, and a nasty little claw-swatter to roast every other little scale they couldn’t quite reach beyond those palms it was meant for. It had the unique capability to reach into grooves and the insides of her legs, spanking her in places one would loathe and squeal over, and it taking so painstakingly long on someone with armored scales. But, the event lasted all afternoon, and her parents took turns between justice department officials getting their own licks in, just as they were personally delivering that razor strap to the human Penitatas.

Their tool to get as close to the strapping the others were was an actual whip; real and long, and professionally applied across her saurian hindquarters and thick tail. They had plenty of room out here to do it, seeing the implement they chose could whack her scales hard enough and fast enough for her armor to do little more than prevent her from being cut open, making it the sole time of the year such extreme measures allowed Ki`rene to experience what a high-tier cane or strap felt upon a soft-skinned person. Fleshy tissues, young and soft beneath her coat of smooth brown scale, swelled to raise her reptilian hide into knots and thickened welts from all the pressure below.

There were plenty of sharp reptilian snarls, cries, screaming roars, and even teary, desperately saddened weak squeaks when a louder sound couldn’t be mustered. Nothing in the future of the justice system came close to the extreme degree of agony the day instilled; one meant for people like Stephanie Galmar and Richter Saccard, when even the likes of them would never be beaten so incredibly.

By the time she was locked in her traditional pillory and received her final dose of the whip; neck and claws bound tight to stand on her sore, tired and lashed legs; that face of Ki`rene’s was exhausted, soaked, and so long. Her eyes were closed and still seeping, even while her mothers sat on a picnic blanket in the sunny grass and ate a lovely Thanksgiving meal without her. The frown was so endless, and the misery radiating the same as her pain; red marks glowing through her scale across her entire rear, from hip to haunch, to everything in between – no question as to where her normally private scale creases were with the swelling and marring of such thin, delicate scale. She had been spanked on and off for the duration of the afternoon, and the stings were getting lost in the baseball-like knots of bruising. With everything discolored and marred amidst raised whip marks, right up to the softer scaled crease where her thighs met with the underside of her tail from how meticulous her mothers were with that claw swatter, her whole world was awash with throbbing sting like a wound open to the air.

She’d never even be allowed to eat either. Thanksgiving dinner was right in front of her, under her nostrils, and she’d not get a dog’s table scrap of it. To say she was hungry, ashamed, and broken would have been an understatement. Even though the term of “Earth drake” had not yet been coined by fellow Earth-hatched Drakonians and there was no such thing as clothing tailored to them, she very much hated having the personal region of her tail between her legs bared so blatantly in the compromised bowing position that ridiculous old wooden restraint device was forcing her to stay in.

Cracking her eyes open weakly, slumping some of her seven-year-old weight into the padded parts of the pillory she was given, those bloodshot yellow eyes looked through the cloud of her persistent silent tears and hiccups at the image of a large brown saurian body and a clothed figure of white. Her mothers, Sally Ulrich, the white scaled Karrian, and her wife, the docile yet clumsy drake Rah`veia. Watching the two of them eat turkey, that delicious bird, without so much as even glancing her way, made the young Penitatas fume forlornly with gnashed teeth. Even on the worst of special days, you couldn’t ever expect sympathy when you had a debt to pay… you were only getting what they said you deserved, after all.

The parents of a Penitatas were the conductors of this intentionally scarring experience, and while the pair made a harsh duo, they at least weren’t the worst, adjusting to this harsh life with them, day after day. Her discipline was still sometimes a “fun game” to have her tear-soaked snout rubbed into, but that was a cultural thing back then, and one at least Rah`veia didn’t partake in normally. She was typically a bit more comforting, perhaps knowing what it was like to be on that side of a dragon-paddle, even if she chose to be willingly. Not only were they a bit different for being a same-sex inter-species couple, the biggest and strongest of the two was actually the ‘bottom’ of their spankophile relationship; summarily disciplined by Sally to be her very own “good girl”, as Ki`rene spied on through a closed door to hear when she was supposed to be knocked out by her bed’s delta-wave sleep inducer one night.

But, when the special days weren’t rolling by, she was slowly growing up more by the passing of the months, becoming a more experienced penny and person alike; a little better behaved, and a little more aware of the impacts of her actions upon others, given the structure she was never shown as an actual child. Going to school to learn and make real friends, Ki`rene was shaping into the person she would one day become – essentially the girl she always was at heart, wanting to belong without feeling an outsider. While the era made for a harsh sentence and a difficult home at times, it was a colorful one for how much it permitted her to have the fun of her physical age, right up to being able to split a cookie with a friend like any other kid when the rules were different; the common lot of them owning at least one of those cute sailor outfits that ended up being popular among Penitatas during the period, regardless of gender. Wishing for that companionship and camaraderie, she learned in time how to play with her human friends so carefully that they’d never have to feel afraid of her size or claws again. Ki`rene became a tiny gentle giant, soon smiling more often beneath sunnier eyes.

Constraining her inner sass and rowdy vigor with disciplined behavior, trying to settle into this life to enjoy what she could, wouldn’t save her from the events chronicled into the fabric of time, as it were. A date was fast approaching that would go on to be remembered as her greatest fall, stiffly alluded to in front of her loved ones and friends on the day Kayla shed her silver ‘P’s. Coming, was one of the darkest days in her entire existence.

At this fated crossroads in history, DeltaStar Station wasn’t yet a gleam in its architect’s eye. The name ‘Packet-Storm’ would not appear upon the Galactic-Net for another century and a half, and Jacob Vasse was still ten years away from taking his very first breath. It began as a cloudy morning the future city of Calleet would come to be known for that time of year, and another one of those days the district of Newstat’s Penitatas didn’t want to leave their beds for.

It was September 30th, of the year 2699 – the Earth holiday of Diaspora, celebration of technology.

For a Kindern growing up, or a rejuvenated adult making their way back through the extended education of the rejuve school system, today was a day for flashy interactive field trips, and was generally regarded as one of the funnest days of the year for a kid. While they would all be piling back onto their hover-buses shortly after arriving at school, shuttled off to play with simulated antimatter and interstellar drive cores, the elementary schools for rejuvenated persons were largely left out when those young enough to attend were predominantly Penitatas. For the soft timers, today would be a day for high-stakes group projects to be graded by the day’s end; woesome work instead of fun, and how Kayla and the other hard timers would spend their Diaspora after the reform.

Back in Ki`rene’s time as a Penitatas though, a hard timer didn’t simply get forced into difficult tediums of academics when left behind for those field trips. For them, it was another Special Punishment Day. Their restrictions on severity again thrown to the wind, they were headed to school specifically to be thrashed through the theme the holiday provided them – the wonders and gifts of what technology could do, shaping the human civilization. For Diaspora, the justice department coordinated with states and municipalities to have fully automated spanking booths delivered to the elementary schools serving Penitatas when the bulky devices weren’t commonly used on Earth outside of the holiday. On colonial worlds where there weren’t enough parents for all their charges, the commercial units allowed for the “correction” of more errant Penitatas than one person could possibly care for. For Earth’s own purposes, they leaned instead on the technology’s other benefits to create “special” penance.

Marvels in corporal punishment administration, the booths would be given a Penitatas’ encrypted program chip by their own hand, providing instructions to the entering child before cinching down its binding straps to secure their limbs tightly in place. The day consisted of its one long session usually, but the machine ensured it would be excessively harsh beyond even the more severe implements it would use in random order. When its servos and mechanical components could be finely dialed to deliver swats and lashes to specific force and velocity values, turning physical punishment into a science of physics and engineering that Zachary would be both impressed and chilled by, it equated to each and every blow being sharper than a living person could reach; never tiring or making a mistake in delivering the most precisely agonizing spanking that only an automation could. When it finally ended, you couldn’t expect a quick cuddle or comforting word from a machine built into a soundproof booth either, unlistening and uncaring after being so hard and heavy. Those whom submitted themselves to it would howl their way back to class without reprieve to sit on the blisters it would surely make for the rest of their punishment-driven day, writing lines at their desk.

The gray sky above lent to a cool air and quieter atmosphere for those departing their hover-buses at Newstat Elementary, leaving Ki`rene’s then eight year old hind-claws stumbling onto the sidewalk through the weighty inertia of her own thick tail; the scarf around her neck bouncing with the gray messenger bag she used for school over her saurian shoulder. Not one to walk with her head down, the young drake stilled her bag with a claw and looked around as she made her unenthusiastic trot, making understanding note of all the long human faces trudging anxiously along as if they were already upset beneath those still clouds. The drop-off loop was typically one of shrill sounds of play and boisterous conversation before they would get in trouble for such things, sometimes that dash of “younger” from the less-obtrusive effects of their nano-web, but the crowd was eerily silent as the girls’ code-compliant tartans fluttered with their stiff walks, and the boys mumbled in small groups as they trudged without haste. Bigger and taller than most of the human Penitatas, it was always so easy for Ki`rene to gauge a crowd with a few turns of her neck – and boy was this one down in the dumps, stretching the ends of her maw with an expressive, disquieted exhale.

It wouldn’t be too long of a trek, but everyone had a few moments before they made it to their classrooms via the school’s exterior; the district’s few Voluntarus and Medicalos already well ahead, having bolted away so they could get off to their field trip faster. Newstat still a fledgling district and not the city it would become, the school was smaller than it would be in the future with exterior courtyards and breezeways in lieu of the interior halls it would gain over the next century of expansion. Cuts of terracotta and stone lined the walkways decoratively with the occasional line of short bushes to add in greenery, making the school seem more open with its aesthetic of separated buildings splitting up the campus.

Hi Ki`.”, the drake’s eye-ridges piqued out of surprise upon hearing, turning her head to have a familiar face dart up to her side in catching up with her; long strands of such light, radiant blonde getting caught up in the stream of her own wake as far as it reached down her back these days.

[Hey Aubrey. I didn’t think anyone was going to talk.]”, the softer sounds Ki`rene always tried to make with her raspy Drakonian hissing came off her forked tongue with a degree of relief, looking rather pleased Aubrey had the heart and mind to break the silence and say something to her when the bus ride to school had been so dull. Special days clammed up the penny populace when they were about to be lashed upon like tiny adults rather than kids – something they were, but also weren’t, in their delicate and precarious place of having such tender nerves and so much to answer for.

I’m too nervous not to, but didn’t want to on the bus if I was going to be the only one. That’d just be weird with everyone listening to me.”, the eight year old human did at least sound the sort of anxious she claimed with some stiffness around her diaphragm. Aubrey wasn’t only her neighboring friend any longer, but also her classmate since the pair began school.

But I hope the booth isn’t too bad. I know being good doesn’t help, but I still… yeah.”, Aubrey cradled her white purse uneasily in wanting to talk about the morning’s clandestine trip to the booth, trailing her own thought off in knowing that it was childishly unrealistic to hope for any kind of reprieve.

Diaspora worked differently to other special days in that it couldn’t be lightened by one’s merit, punished instead for their rap-sheet of criminal convictions alone; all set in stone by the actions of their prior adult selves, no matter how clean they kept their nose once they came to wear their silver ‘P’s. The girl’s nose was fairly clean too, as out of trouble as the feminine chatterbox typically was… not that it stopped her from getting spanked in front of her friends somewhat often when her father preferred her unearned punishments be well-known to others. “A lesson for you and them both.”, he would say, though his teasing, ribbing quips about doing her spankings publicly did suggest he simply liked them better that way. Ki`rene lifted a claw and gave it a flick, making an arch-like motion with her reptilian fingers.

[At least you fit inside the stupid thing. My tail’s tip bends against the ceiling because it’s too long, and the padding is obviously meant for… things that aren’t me.]”, she wrapped the bemoaning thought up with a shrug and a throaty snarl in her language, again flicking that claw about into a wave of sorts in regard to how the machine would adapt its restraint systems to her physiology in a way that felt haphazard, so obviously meant for true bipeds. Her Drakonian voice was experiencing a similar child-like dread as much as she didn’t want to acknowledge it, trying not to imagine the actual spanking part of being in that booth when it could slam her scales with a high-tier dragon-paddle far harder than even her mother Sally’s arms could, with a rhythm you could predict down to the millisecond. Pain, for pain’s sake.

Happy Diaspora. Isn’t technology just the best?”, Aubrey’s eight year old mouth crooked with a weighted smirk of sarcasm, looking off into the quiet, moving crowd around them as the pair made their way to the building that housed their homeroom class. It wasn’t at all like her to be cynical, but that was a quick way to make Ki`rene bare a few sharp teeth in a lightheartedly humorous face; surely some dirt deserving to be slung if their means of celebrating technology would be so terrible.

Why’d you bother wearing your scarf anyway? Now you just have something to take off like I… ”, she had turned her head back to better address in question, wanting to make light of Ki`rene now having a clothing item to shove into the booth’s bin when her time came, but staring at the fluffy, soft dangle of cloth made her stop with a different sort of inquisitive scrunch of skin around an eye.

Wait – is that supposed to be like one of our sailor outfits?”, the girl had to ask of its suspiciously familiar colors, and the answer surely came quick when the drake hissed a reptilian sound of bemused delight.

Ki`rene’s claws went for her scarf to show it off more properly, stretching one end of the plush fabric to show off the primarily white scarf as having a blue stripe around each dangling, tasseled end. To shore up the whole thing into the appearance she wanted, the very middle of the scarf was red where it would be wrapped around her neck. It made itself to be just like the color scheme of the sailor outfits all of the drake’s friends seemed to have at least one of, emulating their red bows and the blue stripes at the end of their short sleeves.

[What do you think? Is it cute? It’s the closest thing I can get to getting one!]”, the drakeling’s spitting, reptilian rumbles grew more animated despite her restraint in keeping her voice down, looking rather pleased that Aubrey noticed the new scarf she got and what it was supposed to look like – proud and tickled. Out of place by sounding as she did on the day of the year it was, it did get a passing look from a younger Penitatas amidst breaking off for a different classroom building.

It’s… ”, Aubrey tried to find some similar energy in herself considering the scarf was in fact surprisingly adorable; thoughtfully functional for a Drakonian to try and don if they could wear nothing else and wanted to, as Ki`rene seemed. However, matters more bewildering were very hard for a girl that did seem to have a clean nose to ignore.

How did your parents even let you wear that to school?”, her voice took something of a curious and prodding tone, seeing as there was a dress code and what they could wear was already quite limited, strict as the place was. With an odd squint, she looked ahead at everyone and raised a questioning hand.

“… On Diaspora?”, she couldn’t help but add with a heavier note of befuddlement, finding such a playful thing to be really out of place for a penny-parent to have fathomed on a Special Punishment Day, of all days.

On cue, the slight craning curl of a Drakonian neck graced her with a gleam of sharp teeth from quite the guilty looking face. Obviously not wanting to announce how such a thing occurred verbally, especially “on Diaspora”, that telling, sunny yellow eye giving Aubrey such a look made the human girl groan a rougher, more disapproving sigh at something so foolishly brazen… and rather Ki`rene, the disobedient thing that she could be sometimes.

Ki`, are you seriously kidding me right now?”, the long blonde strands of hair of her forehead tipped toward the raptor stride at her side, mumbling to dull her syllables from being caught by anyone around them.

[Come on, lemons to lemonade or something. Let me have my fun when today already sucks. I left my plain color scarf on the porch; I’ll swap back to it when I get home. Nobody around here will think it’s anything but a scarf, or even know what to do with a drake’s adherence to dress code.]”, the dismissive request for a free pass came to be explained with a shrug and lift of two open claws; such human-like expression being a common thing from Ki`rene. She was in the odd position of being outside of the dress code as a creature unintended wear clothing to begin with.

[I’d like to see someone put one of those stripey dresses on me.]”, she found it in herself to be a wise-ass, rolling that toothy smirk into something a bit more teasingly willful as she pointed a claw at the checkered plaid of Aubrey’s tartan; unaware she truly would be able to wear clothes one day in the evolution of culture on Earth, being such a melting pot for mixing ideals.

But, seeing as Aubrey was still giving her a cautious glare in knowing she misbehaved on a freaking S.P.D as they called them, Ki`rene shed some of her more prideful mannerisms for a bit more of a tender smile – something she always had in her, but with people to bring it out these days. Lifting her claws, she held them against the bulk of her scarf, tucked into the red around her neck.

[You know I like to fit in. Still an Earth girl, even if I don’t look it. I’m keeping up with those vocal training techniques that have been coming out too, to see if I can speak even just a little panglish someday!]”, she was sure to remind that it wasn’t a silly act to simply be bad, but just her trying to be herself; full of some hope, and wanting to be things beyond the constraints of her silver ‘P’s and scaly body.

The concept beyond rational comprehension, Aubrey felt compelled to make a sympathetic yet frustrated face in wanting to reason with Ki`rene’s often lofty dreams. Clothing was one thing, especially when she could cheat and wear a scarf to feel unique and pretty at times to express who she was, but the baffling notion that her throat could ever produce panglish sounded like holding the belief that the sky’s color could be changed at whim. It just couldn’t happen, and wanting to be supportive made her wish to knock a few of those notions out from between the drake’s ear-slits.

We have to learn Drakonian because it’s not poss-… ”, Aubrey wanted to remind of the impossibility of such a thing when Earth went as far as to make learning Drakonian compulsory so their races could communicate, but Ki`rene made that too hard when she held her claws together at the height of her scarf and walked with this happy, almost clueless smile. It was like her mind was made up, and she’d keep trying no matter what anyway – she’d not be so callous in shooting her friend’s idea down like that, and decided to just not say anything disparaging.

“… You actually managed to distract me from Diaspora you goof. Fine – yes, the scarf is cute. I’m happy you managed to be good enough to get your moms to get it for you, even if you’re still sneaky on the side.”, Aubrey thoughtfully relented when the pair had been good friends for so long, playing and getting into mischief together at home in wanting to be a good influence; a good bit older than Ki`rene when the drake was damn near still a Kindern at just 21. It seemed to work too as the drake let off a purring reptilian sound, pleased to know her choice wasn’t too farfetched.

Coming into an open square between three of the buildings; that quarter of the school’s main courtyard; the expanse opened up with more of that shaped and inlaid terracotta brick beneath the falls of shoes and one pair of broad hind-claws among the crowd. Ki`rene and Aubrey’s classroom was dead ahead across it and down a few doors beneath a sheltering awning, looking fairly basic and utilitarian aside from the courtyard walkways themselves. Smooth stone benches dotted the space to provide ample places to spank multiple Penitatas on the spot should the need arise, or a teacher wished to take a moment of corrective action to a more public location for all to see – and especially hear, the way the courtyard reverberated the sounds of slaps and cries. Right in the middle of it all was a testament to such a strict institution as Newstat Elementary was to it’s student body, being that of a stone effigy of a paddle upon a pillar-like pedestal. Tipped into a decorative an angle upon it’s edge, the white rock paddle’s flat faces faced those who would walk by, with the words “Continuing Education” inscribed across the ‘business ends’ of each side as an example of the sort of lessons these hallowed spaces provided, and to whom. The statue of sorts was a product of the time for certain when the application of discipline was championed and celebrated in a Penitatas district without any hint of social reservations over the matter. After all, the adults surely liked it and enjoyed sharing in it – such reminders of punishment residing even in the places Penitatas would socially gather, clustering in these courtyards to talk and boast about how that last spanking they got didn’t even hurt, even if their eyes were still bloodshot from the encounter.

If only Zachary could be such a confident liar.

[See, I’m good at getting you to look at the bright side, aren’t I?]”, Ki`rene couldn’t help but do a little boasting of her own, if just to toy with the fact she got Aubrey’s better behaved sensibilities to lighten up; a little wiggle to her stride, expressive and social as she was. She had her own personal ways to get through things, and like she’d argue for the sake of a fox in the far future, doing the off little something to be herself wasn’t “bad” all the time.

[No one can hear you inside the thing for you to get in trouble, so try mocking the booth a little when it starts bossing you around.]”, that confident grin cropped back up across the drakeling’s snout in suggesting; anxiety kept at bay with a special brand of a girl’s sass.

[Remove the clothes you don’t even wear and-… ]”, Ki`rene’s reptilian head bounced from side to side, making fun of the fact the machine knows by her program chip she was a Drakonian and still went through the motions of directing her to undress, the stupid overgrown porta-toilets. The split and silly way she spat and churr’ed those words out mockingly forced Aubrey to go as far as to stifle a snickering giggle, so abrupt and unexpected, but something else out of the blue stopped them dead in their tracks – very intentionally.

Everyone – freeze right where you are!”, the sharp and authoritative interjection caused them to stumble with a powerful flinch, instinctive and reactionary to the unmistakable voice’s command exploding over the courtyard to bounce across it’s walls. It brought instant results and fear, urging even the most errant and uncaring of the school’s criminals to immediately stop what they were doing and snap to attention.

The courtyard paralyzed into motionless silence; colors dulled by the cold sheet of clouds above; the unanimous turn of heads went to the tallest figure that emerged from between the buildings joining the open space together. With a firm step that made not the faintest of sounds against the stone and brick below despite the sheer size of her feet, the stern woman came forward as the entire congregation of passing Penitatas were forbidden from proceeding any further; those just around corners and out of sight slowly slinking backwards to avoid getting caught up in whatever was going down in that courtyard, all so very acquainted with the Mistress of Fur and knowing when she was cross.

And she certainly was, head tilted faintly back and off to the side with the weighty droop of her massive hare-like ears sweeping back off her skull; two feet long, and quite stiff. The sloping, snout-like muzzle of a lagomorph came to a broad nose ahead of a pair of stark crimson red eyes, staring at an issue most pressing in the morning’s dreary light while all of the Penitatas around her were present and potentially unaccounted for. Her fur thin, smooth, and dusty colored in shades reminiscent of a desert; an intermingling of gray, brown, and rusty strands all across her visible figure; she even looked intimidating through her formal, if somewhat revealing means of dress. Characterized by stiff, tight clothing that matched her personality, a fitting white blouse went down into a black, white striped pencil skirt that hugged her broad hips without a wrinkle’s crease. Formidable legs that were just as hare-like as her ears, akin to a woodland animal while remaining entirely bipedal, turned into long, sizable four-toed and black-clawed footpaws that were far too big to receive anything resembling normal footwear, allowing those toes to stick freely from the black sole-protectors strapped to her ankles. You could say she was a hare of sorts, but Earth’s similar creatures surely did not have fangs as she did, coming from a race that gained those features by chasing prey, rather than being it. A Parssia, known for their strength and visual acuity, she commanded such respect out of one’s frightful need to protect their backside from a top-tier disciplinarian such as herself.

She was Madam Montgomery – Principal of Newstat Elementary, and bane of its Penitatas.

Without another word, the astute and observant overseer stepped with a purpose to the center of the courtyard with so many eyes watching her come to inspect the paddle statue and its decorative pedestal. Cracks and chips rose from the bottom side of where the stone effigy rested, prompting the woman to raise her right, clawed paw, and give the stone a light nudge of investigation to see if it was loose. Without so much as a wobble or tip, the stone outright collapsed from the pedestal and fell before the stiff hare could so much as flinch, getting as far as to dart both her paws to catch it out of unexpected surprise before it hit the ground and broke into three scattering pieces. The woman’s cheeks lifted in irritation when her paws were left empty from their scramble while the courtyard stared, looking a bit smaller than they did before; not even the sound of a pin dropping to be heard in wake of the stone’s skitter across the brick. All that was left were two rods of rebar protruding from the rocky surface of the pedestal, not appearing to have gone deeply into the stone facsimile it held.

Correcting her posture to stand tall, Madam Montgomery smacked at her tight blouse and thigh-length pencil skirt to remove the bit of rock-dust she collected. Taking a long look out over the courtyard, she skimmed over the Penitatas surrounding her.

Alright all of you, it’s fess-up time! Who vandalized this and set it back as if no one would have noticed? Hmm? Any takers, little ‘pennies?”, those fangs of hers worked overtime, calling out loudly across the expanse of brick like a warden intimidating her prisoners – and that analogy not being far from the literal truth of the matter.

She used her tongue as if it was an instrument of punishment in itself, barking as firmly from her Parssian maw as she could manage while the clusters of rejuves from every grade looked at one another without words, questioning who could have possibly done such a thing. The pillar that made up the pedestal was too tall for the youngest out of them, surely incapable of breaking such a thing as it was, but none of the ten or eleven year olds dotting the courtyard looked any guiltier than the smallest kids. From her place beside Aubrey; the human girl looking around with a worry that made her clutch her purse for support; Ki`rene shook a few of those fetters as her mind generally allowed her at times. Rather than glance about seeking answers or potential targets for the principal’s wrath, the drake took a more pragmatic perspective in squinting at the pedestal’s remains.

With the rebar rods so short, they must have hardly supported the statue’s integrity. She didn’t have to be a genius to figure that. Who’s to say anyone broke it? There was no way it was just poorly made, destined to fail to its own weight someday? Sure, someone could have been mad about it being Diaspora, but…

No one is going to claim responsibility for this? No witnesses at all to throw me a bone, and the guilty party under the bus?”, Montgomery’s tone didn’t shift what-so-ever, staying low and casually berating as she sent it over everyone’s heads to send shivers; how harsh she intended to be to the person at fault just dripping from every syllable, so ready to lay down the law.

Hot under the collar of her blouse, the sneering Parssia crossed her arms, letting her fangs remain visible as the sounds of whispers and quickly spoken murmurs began in a chorus all throughout the courtyard. The littlest among them tightened their circles in their inquisition of one another, while the eldest Penitatas remained frozen, too wise in their older ages to fathom doing anything to suggest they knew the perpetrator in the slightest. Ki`rene had only just gotten to turn her head back to Aubrey to share a moment of their own before a ‘hrmph!’ erupted from Madam Montgomery. At the last of her patience and “goodwill”, the hare took a single step; that agitated scowl cracking to that of a threatening leer with another tip of her short muzzle.

That was your choice. Remember that.”, the principal felt fitting to forewarn; the lowering of her head splaying her long heavy ears backward.

You all know the rules. When there is no guilty party, every possible culprit will be punished as if they were – and that is every single one of you from this courtyard’s classrooms, on top of what you’re already getting for Diaspora!”, those ears flung against the woman’s back with an authoritative flick of her head, condemning all of the Penitatas to another punitive product of the time.

Right away the courtyard burst into an uproar of scalded whines and desperately saddened sounds; Ki`rene taking a blow to her chest like all the others, cracking her snout in wounded shock with a half step backward. Aubrey’s face scrunched, lifting her purse to thump her nose against it. It went beyond the courtyard when those who slunk backwards to avoid getting caught up in the spectacle slumped against the wall to choke back tears; their classrooms a part of the adjoining buildings she just promised this hell to on a special day. Staying out of sight did nothing to help.

Please, no!”, a younger female Penitatas, likely one of the first graders cried out tearily from across the yard in her age’s innate need to plead against such a thing – but that Parssia wasn’t done, taking a step with another lash of her head, swinging her ears.

I don’t care if they’re signed into their desks and already writing their lines either! Every – single – ‘penny!”, the condemnation grew broader to include those that didn’t so much as know what was going on outside, adding an extreme-tier spanking to several dozen Penitatas’ day all at once in her clarification of just who she saw as being potentially guilty. The woman’s razor edge shook everyone further, with one of the oldest Penitatas stepping forward out of his group to end his silence.

If someone did it, say something! Own up!”, he demanded of his peers as a fifth grader hoping to just finish his sentence and be done with all this. He didn’t need anything to make today more torture than it was. It was a plea for leniency from his fellows, but alas, no one spoke up. The response was muffled sobs and sniffs as Ki`rene’s teeth clenched, wanting to shiver at all the people she could hear saying ‘please’, ‘no’, and ‘don’t’.

That particular punitive rule was a staple of the time before the eventual reform, and one without option or question. A Penitatas would be punished for the misdoings they – may – have performed, if their guilt was uncertain. If something happened and there was no one suspect, then all of those suspected or even present would be punished equally, just in case they had done it. They could be punished even if the adult wasn’t sure anything wrong had been done, done simply again as “just in case.” It was intentionally unfair, and was one of the things that kept a hard time Penitatas well-punished; those spankings a part of their constant repayment for their crimes, punished for the past rather than what they did presently. In that sense, it didn’t at all matter who was guilty. Everyone was, from the start.

But… on a Special Punishment Day? When it was already beyond agonizing – bruised, battered, and blistered for their crimes? The hare merely turned her broad snout into a knowing little smile.

Oh yes.”, she replied to all the Penitatas that cried out ‘no!’, reminding them of their place with the flash of a fang.

I’ll be out in the recess yard to see you as you step out of your booth, Board of Education in my paw, to give you a good few extra blisters and to split the ones the Spankmaster already gave you! You naughty bunch will be a sorry lot, no matter if you did this or not!”, Principal Montgomery affirmed with the resolve of a true disciplinarian, unphased by the sounds of lament and the wet puppy-dog eyes from all the littlest Penitatas in her point to the empty pedestal.

The Board of Education was the principal’s paddle, her personal implement, and the largest and most severe of the administration's assortment of paddles for the various grades and ages. Long, thick hardwood that the eldest Penitatas likely experienced at least once, but the youngest surely never, as far beyond their thinner lighter paddles as it was, unmeant for them. All of that was thrown aside thanks to the holiday lifting restrictions. They’d not see as many licks, but they’d all feel the same weighty crack of solid wood, and to do it after their Diaspora trip into the automated spanking booth was surely intentional. Purposefully cruel, to make the paddling incredibly… unforgettable. A sentiment not lost on Ki`rene, who tipped her snout and huffed an angry puff of air from her nostrils; eyes piercing the woman, especially upon hearing Aubrey beside her choke up with the rest of them. Her eyes burned, imagining how much easier on them being punished right now would be. Doing it after they were blistered…

It was a diabolical plan. She wanted to hurt them.

That’s just how it is, kids! Now get to class – those lines don’t write themselves, and the first batch of you will be called in fifteen minutes!”, the hare thoroughly dismissed their reservations and objections, soon to be punished just for being Penitatas, and twice, at that. Commanding and in a state of being permanently harsh, she was sure to remind that the main event was soon to begin, and there were other punitive matters to occupy their worries with until that time came.

While sluggish and hindered deeply by stiff legs and worried, teary minds, the courtyard began to move again with heads of all ages hung. Today was already one of the bad ones, and they could hardly fathom how much worse it just became if they were going to get a bad paddling right after getting out of the booth. They’d all need nano-lotion just to not callus, heaven forbid their parents send them to their CornerStools for a while after they got home with potentially open, torn blister wounds. Their parents would punish them all the same, when it didn’t matter if they were officially declared guilty of these accusations or not.

Ki`rene couldn’t entirely imagine such a thing with her own physiology and hard scale, experiencing blistering differently, but her heart was a deeply empathetic one. Not being the sort to hang her head made her look around at how hurt everyone was, slinking away with legs of jelly; frowning, and so unwilling to do the same as they. When she began to walk, Aubrey’s sniffles followed quietly at her side, but fell back with hesitation when she realized in her stare toward the ground that they weren’t going in the proper direction for their classroom door.

[Madam Montgomery?]”, Ki`rene lifted her neck to properly get her principal’s attention in what looked like simply passing by; something that made Aubrey stumble with a frightful turn of her head, sending strands of blonde through the air. As closely as she was walking with the Drakonian, the eight year old could have fainted to that kind, gentle hiss of reptilian politeness.

Nudging a broken piece of the “Continuing Education” paddle with the bare fur of her toes protruding from her footwear, the rigid Mistress of Fur turned part way back around; a short, desert-dusted tail coming against the pedestal with another no-nonsense, chilled leer part way over her shoulder. Crimson met sun in the eyes they shared, so different from the humans they lived beside.

Yes, Miss Ulrich?”, Montgomery’s strong and heavy voice spoke with a lesser volume, reined in to being between she and the third grade Penitatas that addressed her. It was somewhat hastened as well, as if to remind her single solitary drake pupil of her prior command and the place she needed to go before they even spoke. That drake was a thickheaded and willful reptile as it was, she was already well aware of from prior visits to her office. That penny needed her nano-web cranked up a tad, she figured – and still surely did, catching the fire in the little arsonist’s eyes even as she tried to act cordial with what was surely a put-on of a calm smile.

[I’m sorry to bother ma’am, but I think this thing gave out. I don’t think anyone broke it.]”, that ‘little’ Miss Ulrich “helpfully” stated of her own findings in an innocent way, wanting to ensure the woman that just turned everyone’s stomachs into pretzels understood there was a fairly good chance that was no culprit, nor wrongdoing. Questioning an adult’s judgment was risky for a Penitatas, and it being the Mistress of Fur made Aubrey take a step away from her friend, no matter how well those snarls came out of her mouth. Following a similar thought, Madam Montgomery curled another smile along her Parssian muzzle, following her staunch behaviors in turning to face the young drakeling more properly.

A Penitatas will be punished for ‘might’s and ‘maybe’s. Rules are rules.”, her pupil was duly reminded that the spankings were constant for all of them, and culpability held little bearing. The dry nature of it only served to set the drake off further, trying to hide it behind the respectful mask she slapped over her snout.

[Well… you see, it’s just so hard to see everyone so upset. Today is such a painful day as it is, and all us ‘bad pennies’ are already real sorry. What if you taught us all a good lesson before the booth, instead? It’s really… harsh to punish us as soon as we’re done with our Diaspora spanking, and hurting so badly. We’ll have blisters… they’ll rip, won’t they?]”, the drake tried to lean on a smaller, younger tone, half forced by her nano-web as it was in trying to detail what the woman was suggesting doing to them; acquainted with Aubrey’s skin being stripped to wet wounds of white on her worst of special days, and her own scale to weep, when blisters were abused. She even opted to say ‘harsh’ instead of just plain ‘mean’ in her mission to nudge the woman out of doing something so extreme to all those around her, including herself.

I know.”, Montgomery tepidly acknowledged, choosing a faux-sympathetic tone that suggested she was bored from having to hear Ki`rene’s sweet-tongued spiel.

Sad. Now get to class.”, she went further with those inflections, cutting into that mask the Penitatas was trying to maintain by dismissing her without a remorseful thought, the mean-spirited shrew. Eye-ridges curling, those yellow eyes grew to be further biting in the furl of her snout, creating a glare the Penitatas she’d care for one day would come to be familiar with – mother drake disapproving of their behavior, and someone about to be in trouble.

[Fine – what if I said I did it?]”, the eight year old reptile firmed up her voice in choking down her fears to embrace her will, turning it into nervous defiance as her spits and snarls turned harsher. Aubrey went wide-eyed and looked as if she wanted to snap at her, humoring the idea of trying to take a fall for everyone like that when she was entirely innocent. It didn’t matter – they were all being punished, so why not take the blame and save everyone else from bawling their eyes out? Nano-web or not, the drake’s claws trembled faintly, holding on to what she had in her heart; a protective bravery, and a distinct fright.

But, to the impassioned sounds her throat warbled, the hare’s ears lifted in a tiny bounce – a single laugh shooting from the woman’s mouth as if she could hardly help it.

Then I’d just have to double your paddling for lying.”, she was replied with due promptness, indicating that she knew quite well that the drake hadn’t done a single thing – her punishment soon to come, despite. All too easily spoken, the uncaring words bared a few of Ki`rene’s eight year old teeth; left standing there and meant to feel helpless, smirked down at like she was nothing in just trying to help everyone on a day that was already bad enough.

[… You don’t care who did it, do you?]”, she challenged with a spiteful tone to her guttural reptilian language, forming damming words that made Aubrey take a much bigger step away, shrinking with a quiver. Without the veil of cordial notes and respect, that sounded like rather blatant insubordination. Ki`rene wasn’t even pretending to call her ‘ma’am’ – what the heck was that fool lizard doing?!

[No one deserves any of this today! Take it back!]”, that lizard demanded of her authority figure, grasping all that she could when she was already in so deep; be it confidence, or her fear. She knew what she was doing… she didn’t like it either, but…

Into the widely diffused light coming from above, so muted and gray, Ki`rene was forced to look up into the sort of shit-eating grin that she couldn’t stand; snout coming to quiver with gnashed teeth. Even Aubrey was left just staring, face half hidden behind her purse, wanting to grab Ki`rene and run at a fraction of the drake’s size. That Parssian face spoke of disdain, offense, and an unmistakable amusement to it all, as unfathomable as it was to speak to the Mistress of Fur like that. Telling her what to do, even? A Penitatas?

So… ”, the Parssia purred questioningly, tainted with vitriol.

You don’t like my explanation that it ‘is the way it is’, Miss Ulrich?”, Madam Montgomery eyed down with a tip of her nose, changing the rearward dangle of her ears. It was harder spoken, like a punitive mistress of old; the embodiment of what she was and how she ran her school.

I’ll promise you this – I’ll be having a lovely morning with my big, oh-so nasty paddle that the student body does love to hate. You all earned your horrible little day, and I surely don’t mind cracking open a bare bottom’s blisters! Or, in your case, hips! I’m well aware of what I’m doing, pouncing you all after the Spankmaster is through with you, and some sass-mouthed penny isn’t about to make me feel bad for delivering you boys and girls the medicine you all so desperately need!”, those tones ratcheted up to that of fang-bearing railing upon the audacious drake that dared question their merit for whatever additional punishment she decided, though she didn’t find Ki`rene to recoil or stumble away as she expected with her battering words and volume.

That drake stood firm, as if there was nothing else she could be scared by when facing such incredible pain and trouble as it was. Those yellow eyes just glowered, looking as if she’d audibly snarl at her; claws squeezed shut, and messenger bag experiencing the faintest of trembles. The Mistress of Fur wished to the very stars for a nano-web adjustment tool of her very own to “fix” this seething little wretch with! Her petite hare muzzle curling the same as Ki`rene’s in agitation, Madam Montgomery had run dry of patience if she couldn’t rub the child’s snout into her own mess.

No, I will do you no favors, paddling before the booth. Milking some blisters is my treat today, and the only thing I’m going to regret is that they don’t make Pain-ties for Drakonians when I’m personally through with you!”, the tall, long eared creature continued to leverage against the brown scaled girl and her ridiculous scarf, highlighting exactly what level of hell Ki`rene had earned for her mouth, and the not-so-subtle reminder that she was going to particularly enjoy what she was going to be doing. Holding that interest was a requirement in the “care” of hard time Penitatas, and the mistress did surely fit the bill – the severity she chose quite intentional, and something as special and memorable for her as it will be for them.

A bad egg could easily hide under the guise of “rule enforcement.” The drake caught whiff of the smell, and her throat rolled a low, slow reptilian growl in disapproving warning, wiping the last of the amusement off of her principal’s face to leave nothing but spite behind. Aubrey couldn’t have been more scared, only thankful she wasn’t getting pulled into this situation by proximity; though now wondering if the rest of the Penitatas caught up in this would be coming to school tomorrow in Pain-ties and Bee-riefs after that comment. The aptly named undergarments were punishment underwear with tiny nylon prongs to stick a Penitatas’ skin with, making sudden jarring stings that didn’t exactly work on scale nor fur.

Enough!”, the Parssia snapped to that growl, having crossed a line she’d not tolerate from any Penitatas.

I’m going to fetch the board, and one just for you, Ulrich. This is happening and there is nothing you can do about it – no matter how bad, stupid, or combination of the two you may be!”, Principal Montgomery threw a finger out at the drake if she’d go as far as to roll a crackling rumble from her throat, firm and damning before taking her first step back toward the administrative building. Needing the Board of Education from her wall as well as a dragon-paddle for someone special, she’d not permit the saurian child to waste another moment of her time.

She’d just make her roar and cry until she was nothing but the sweetest of words.

Left in the authoritative woman’s wake, neck craned where she stood to watch the Parssian’s short tail take her leave, the drake knew in her gut the only reason she wasn’t being dragged off to her office was that grand plan of the hare’s to trounce them all after the Spankmaster booths ate them alive. Her tail was to be briefly spared, to cause her a great deal more pain later. Growling quietly where she was left, those sunny eyes tore apart the woman and everything she stood for. Why did everything have to be so unfair?! Even being good only helped so much, especially when people like her would be such a hard-ass! It felt nothing more than unconscionable to take the school’s harshest paddle to everyone for little reason when they were already being punished to the utmost of the law on a day like this, specifically for the purpose of opening their paddle blisters!

And… to even dream of suggesting that wounding them was her treat? Treat?!

Ki`… ”, a soft voice crossed the slits of her ears in the midst of her shaking and reptilian growling, trying to keep her eyes from watering as Madam Montgomery left her sight unswayed. Blinded by the pooling of tears and a child’s more upset version of anger, seeing at least a few other saddened Penitatas that stopped to watch the unheard-of altercation begin wandering away in seeing nothing changed, Ki`rene had to swallow and take a breath to respond to Aubrey’s tiny plea.

Turning her head back the other way, she found Aubrey wiping at her eyes with this tear-fighting frown, broken down from what she had to watch and listen to. Seeing her take a deep sniff, looking lost and without anyone to protect her from what would befall, just made Ki`rene’s head droop… finally lowering it, with the sort of weight that could. With it, a hand came upon her forearm, lightly gripping her scale with a tug.

Let’s go. Our lines.”, the human girl she had come to know through play, sharing, and punitive ordeals tried to usher her along, wanting to get the both of them to class so they could begin writing their Diaspora punishment lines before it was too late. They were meek but honest little words, wanting to behave and fall in line to go begin their penance.

The drake however stared at the terracotta brick below, coming in time to shake her head faintly after some moments of thought. Head spinning and nothing wanting to calm itself within her, the truth was that her own sensibility wanted her to be good too… really, it did. There was a different kind of good in her though, coming from a spark she kindled tenderly.

It wasn’t right. It was too wrong – too unfair.

[I-… I’m sorry for scaring you.]”, Ki`rene’s reptilian voice gracelessly stumbled in both discomfort and a flavor of guilt, having left her friend to bear witness to her sass-maw and inadvertently threaten the seat of her tartan by proxy. Lacking strength, the snarls were airy; soft as a whisper on the breeze, becoming alone in the courtyard as the last stragglers and those who couldn’t dry their eyes as quickly as others disappeared into the doors of their classrooms. Knowing she didn’t sound that great, Ki`rene let off a stifled girlish chuckle to the sound of her own uneasiness – raspy as such a thing was, coming from her untrained throat.

[You go on. She-… pissed me off so bad I need to pee now.]”, her neck came back up with a lift of her head, trying to crack a feeble smile though she carried the same jitters as her friend.

Aubrey didn’t look like she wanted Ki`rene to dawdle for any excuse, rattled and timid as she was, but such a thing was met with the gentle nudge of a Drakonian snout to her shoulder, friendly and reassuring in what became a wordless exchange in their fetters. Mind made up, her claws came up to the height of her sailor scarf’s two dangling ends as she did earlier in her wish to train to speak the same as her companions, just so naively steadfast when her will permitted her to go beyond what sense would allow. As sweet as such a look could be, Aubrey accepted there would be no winning such a contest the same as before, nodding her head as the pair parted ways in their own directions while the Parssia’s lingering damnation stilled the human girl’s tongue; one for the red door of their homeroom, and the other for the walkway that lead to the school’s only Draconian-accessible bathroom. On pins and needles did Ki`rene trot away from her friend, lip of her maw stiff from how badly she had just lied to Aubrey… listening anxiously for the thump of a heavy classroom door behind her. Once it graced her ear-slits and she peered back over her shoulder to ensure she was alone and the ruse was bought, the drakeling’s facial features narrowed with a hastened turn for an entirely different walkway.

The facade of innocence was replaced by the sort of look she’d have in time, coming to step before a circuit court justice that dared to railroad a lovely young woman’s blessed parole day. There was a place in particular the forefront of her mind wished to visit, clambering over Principal Montgomery’s words and the sorts of things her wayward conscience refused to accept. That spark in her heart flickered into that of a flame for what would be the first time in her short-lived life, thinking of so many Penitatas being taken advantage of, outright tormented and abused by a bully with authority. A dark heart, preying upon those with no voice when they couldn’t help to stop what was coming. It ushered her hind-claws across pavement and past doors, refusing to look down and slink away as everyone else was made to.

It was the undying, unyielding desire; an absolute need; to protect those smaller than she.

She didn’t know how, but all she could think of was putting a stop to what the Mistress of Fur wanted to do to everyone. To be the one to say no, and not permit it for what it was. Their discipline was taken to places of shame and extreme from time to time, but this… thinking of Madam Montgomery getting her way, and actually hurting people…

Seething in emotion-driven silence though her brisk, path-stamping stride, Ki`rene ended up at the end of that stretch of pavement she chose; green fields of grass erupting from the ground just ahead of her glossy, large white toe-claws. She was told they’d all be met by the recess yard, Board of Education in paw, so that was where her mind told her to go. As they stood upon the other Diaspora holidays she had spent in the district of Newstat, the large elongated booths of punitive prowess towered above the entry point to their field when compared to the size of a child; Drakonian included, as monolithic as the primarily green outer shells of the machines appeared. Fed by thick cables trailing off the nearest building, three early-production Spankmaster-2000 booths were lined up in a staggered diagonal pattern that reached toward the recess ground’s swing-sets in the distance. Their doors faced her way with a control panel to each of their sides, shielded by a locked glass cover with a display beneath cycling through functions at someone’s beckon; typically showing its occupancy information when operational, and someone was suffering through it inside. Preventing any tampering with the controls, the only split in the glass cover was for the slot that accepted a Penitatas’ coded chip.

The gray day already so dreary, the empty and silent yard would have been breathtakingly ominous if not for the crunch of a sneaker’s step closer by. All in his lonesome did the school’s IT officer, a young human man, seem to work on preparing the units for the day’s use; those thick power cables snaking through the grass surely his doing. A data-pad in his hand was shown to be the source of the diagnostics the units were booting into, with the farthest booth still looking to be in its startup sequence when the short haired man turned his head from his work to find a sole student watching from the sidewalk.

Hey over there! They’re not ready yet! Could you go back to your class and ask your teacher to be patient please?”, he lifted a hand above his head to call out across the expanse to the scarf-wearing drake he was familiar with seeing around the campus, imagining some overachieving Penitatas classroom teacher figured they’d start without his ‘good to go’ message going out across their desk computers. Known for being somewhat snarky and cynical, the vague hints of disdain towards the other members of staff went nowhere as the Drakonian girl just continued to stare at the booths… sneering, and coming to look so disquieted.

Ki`rene’s head lowered with a threatening growl rumbling through her throat, running thoughts through her brain at a mile a minute in her anger. Teeth coming to greatly bare, snout wrinkling with hostility, all she could think of was Montgomery and Aubrey. Her friend screaming in tears, thrashing desperately as a hardwood paddle was swung as hard as the Parssian monster could, tearing loose skin from her blisters in spatters of clear fluid for no goddamn reason other than that she wanted to – like they weren’t people. That it was going to happen, and there was “nothing she could do about it.”

That sent a rough, forceful huff of air through her nostrils.

[… You want to bet on that, asshole?]”, the drake’s smoldering nerves hissed venomously from her maw, twitching her eye-ridges from the heat of tears wanting to build upon their lids. So deeply upset and those feelings greatly amplified by her nano-web, the formulation of a heartfelt decision made for a course of action she’d have to learn to live with – and absolutely fight to execute.

I can’t hear you, what was tha-… ”, the school’s information technology officer tried calling back with some confusion to his voice from the face he could see, but stumbled awkwardly at a dull thump.

Ki`rene’s gray messenger bag left her shoulder with a throw of her arm off to her side, sliding the bag’s strap from her scaly fingertips and claws until gravity pitched it to the ground; a focus gnashing her muscles from snout to tail. A throaty reptilian snarl escaped from between closed teeth as her left hind-claw slid backwards with the stretching and lowering of her figure, bolting into a physical ready stance with claws curled into a raptor’s attack posture. Reminiscent of Easters past in the park, but with a serious urgency that went beyond the saving of her own tail, Ki`rene burst off her hind-claws into the most explosive stride her saurian hips could generate, sailing into the short grasses ahead of her with strength, resolve, and violent purpose; eyes fixated on one thing alone as the two tasseled ends of her scarf turned to a stream of blue-striped white against her sides.

It was then, that a motherly wing was born – to shield others and disrupt a plan of malice, at the cost of her own scales.

Relying upon her will to milk her strength for all it was worth, Ki`rene blazed into the quickest heavy-footed gait that she could muster when she wasn’t much bigger than Ninne was when she met Kayla, barreling as hard as she could for the closest tower of green. Generating the force of a tiny freight train with the thick of her tail driving so much of her body’s kinetic energy, the eight year old turned her own frame into a weapon if the world was to leave her empty-clawed and small. With a swing of her neck and shoulder, thrusting off her legs in the blur of the final moment, the raptoress speared headlong into the first Spankmaster’s control panel, slamming all of her weight with the full-force of her run – nothing held back. An incredible bang was met with the sharper crack of shattering glass; a spray of twinkling shards taking to the air as the heavy booth sent most of the impact back into the instrument that dealt it. Eyes squeezed shut, a yelp failed to escape Ki`rene’s throat as tightly as it clenched down from the sickening concussive pain, outright injuring herself as her scales took so little of the strike when everything inside of her was soft; body deflecting backwards off the control panel to fall part way onto her own side, hitting the grass with the catch of a hind and foreclaw. A headache that made her want to throw up struck instantly, coupled with a shattering pain in her own bones to the hammer-blow she gave herself – a Drakonian child having more weight and body to throw around, and Ki`rene trying to do just that.

It didn’t take a genius to figure the slot they put their chips into was important, and vital to function – the control panel left cracked and partly concave, dropping shards of its display upon Ki`rene’s snout below.

Shi-… Hey!”, the human man several paces away screamed with a force of his own, hostile to the Penitatas that would pile-drive her own body without regard to herself, looking like she scrambled her brains with the mallet that was the Spankmaster. They weren’t his booths, nor we he a disciplinarian of any kind, but you couldn’t see such a thing and not yell – especially when the young lady’s twitching eye-ridges spoke of such anger and pain in scraping at the earth to get back up.

The technically inclined man didn’t have the speed of reflex that a child had, unable to throw his pad to the ground and take off from where he stood before hind-claw found footing off of grass roots, and that teeth-bearing sneer of hurt shakily thrust back into another stride; adrenaline-dulled stings all across the side of her face and neck, and a throb that made it hard to see straight. With less room to build speed and turn her weight and bulk into kinetic energy, sights on the next control panel, Ki`rene came under distinctive hesitation from how badly she hurt herself the first time. Gnashing every muscle in her face, she tucked her head down for her final thrust to slam the panel with more of her shoulders and the top-side of her neck, shielding her face… though feeling right away in her damaging recoil that there was a lot less force that time, landing right back on her hind-claws with the sprinkle of fractured glass.

With a hearty scream that was both feminine and deeply reptilian, hissing and shrill, Ki`rene threw her arms upward and thrust her claws downward in full curl, jamming them through the keys of the panel with a ripping tear into what was behind them; a piece of plastic and display glass flying up across her scales, before something else did. Just as a snap came through the slits of her ears from somewhere below the panel, slashing and stabbing upon it with blind, haphazardly slamming strength, a vice grip around her tail made her squinting eyes shoot open with a shocked, shaken gasp. Tunnel visioned into disabling the machines as she was, and deafened by the crashes of her own thrashing and hastened breaths, she didn’t catch the school’s IT officer’s own feet striking the ground in her periphery, going right for her tail as humans knew to do to disable a drake.

His arms throwing her tail upward in a harsh lift, Ki`rene’s balance was thrown so far off kilter that she stumbled on her feet and nose dived, snout smacking against the side of the Spankmaster with a few more pieces of lost glass skittering down her neck and eye ridges. Same as an adult would do in baring the base of her tail for affairs more punitive, losing the counter-balance of her tail as a saurian creature forced her into an inescapable bow with the end of her snout to the floor. It brought instant peace; Ki`rene panting below, while the man seemed to heave himself in the brisk actions he had taken to stop her.

Somebody! I need help!”, the man summoned all the strength of his diaphragm to shout aloud, turning his head back toward the buildings in hope of getting assistance with the errant Drakonian cataclysm that suddenly descended upon his morning. It made Ki`rene’s jaw shake, and her eyes to squint with another sort of pain… turning her head slightly to stare at the third booth around the corner of the one she was plastered against, still completing its initialization sequence.

Hearing someone call back in the far distance, echoing off the buildings of the school, a panic came over Ki`rene that added a whimper to her hastened breaths. This would all be for nothing if that last booth remained unharmed, and the jig was about to be up once she was swarmed upon; the trouble she’d be in so meaningless if she couldn’t finish what she set out to do. Desperate and coming more aware of her numerous scratch-like stings and the battered state of her body, the young drake closed her eyes and curled her snout into a grimace that wanted to fight on – heart not ready to let go, as quickly as it beat. Clawing at the faintest idea of anything she could try, Ki`rene slowly lifted her right hind-claw, teetering her weight upon a single trembling leg.

I don’t know what the hell you were just thinking, but-… !”, the school’s tech tried to chide her into calming down from above, hugging her tail to his torso to brace it and keep her immobile, until a fierce jerk disrupted his own footing.

Determination meeting with the impossibility of physical limitations, a protective wing proved to be harder to restrain once Ki`rene swung her right leg back with as much torque and momentum as her adrenaline-fueled frame would allow. Left hind-claw tearing into the grass in the spin she generated, she flexed her leg to dive into a crouch at the same time, throwing her entire center of gravity off to twist out of the technologically-inclined man’s grasp; the whole maneuver pulled off like a break-dancing trick as he was staggered backward, nearly tripped up. That right hind-claw soared for a fraction of a second before the spinning, stationary slide of her body got her chicken-leg of a limb to meet her toes back into the grass – all she needed before her tail could tip back ever so slightly and allow her to explode into a leap, slipping free of human fingertips with the helpless slide of skin against smooth scale.

Unwilling to hesitate as she did before and risk failing in her final moment, Ki`rene’s legs burned forward with the gathering of all her nerves; a daunting task for blurry eyes when the pain of what she had done to her body was gradually seeping through the veil of her endorphins. The distance between she and the third unit so short, she reeled back in her final thrust off the ground to ram the booth’s lit console for all her eight year old body was worth – all of the Penitatas’ worth, at that. It wasn’t but an instant, any longer than the clench of eyes and teeth, before she took a brutal self-inflicted clubbing as a living thing against a solid object. The scattering spray of glass and display went straight across her snout and into the wrapped folds of her scarf upon impact; impulse crushing her body against the unit into a visible, exaggerated crumple with the trailing force of her own haunches. Skull and neck taking the brunt of it all, hardly bouncing off the unit from the energy her figure both delivered and absorbed, Ki`rene fell straight to the ground at the same time as the shards and console fragments hit the grass with her.

Immediately she writhed with a growling thrash of her legs, throwing her claws up to her face to grip her snout and forehead from the incredible blow, laying there on her side with every Drakonian tooth bared to the gray sky. In the time after the abolishment of nano-webs, the invention of the pain scale scoring system for Penitatas would have landed her higher than Kayla, as an eight. Doing something so outlandish and self-destructive with that nanite lattice in her brain could only keep the tears back so far once she managed to actually hurt herself. Seething through her teeth and shaking from the pain, the rubbing and batting of her reptilian fingers sent bits of glass from her scale, getting them away from her eyes now that her duty was done and there was nothing left to focus on but the aftermath of what she chose to do; blood smearing across her claws, to ensure a wounded blister would not do the same upon someone else.

All of the scattered stings she had felt came from striking the glass with her naked scale, leaving shallow, minute cuts in her armored hide. While they were ultimately too superficial to do anything more than moisten with a trace of blood at best, stinging around her right eye and across her neck, the warm red she lifted into her sight came from her nostrils. That last hellacious tackle left both reptilian holes dribbling with a terrible throb from the punch of metal and all her might, feeling it crest the lip of her heaving maw to become more noticeable.

Not having the luxury of laying there to snivel, the clamber of footfalls off the brick of the school buildings dulling into thumps against earth and grass urged Ki`rene to pick herself up. Shoving off of her claws, her scarf flopped into a looser dangle from her neck as she got back up with a stagger, turning as promptly as she could to angle her tail in the opposite way of those approaching, wishing to keep it from being grabbed again. With wet eyes and the end of her snout dripping beneath the clutch of a claw did she meet with the storming approach of irises most crimson; a pair of long ears bounding in her authoritative, rushed steps.

What – have – you – done?!”, Parssian fangs caught the dull gray of the light in stride, turning the individual words into a commanding chastisement. Her paws empty, not having gotten to return to her office before getting word of an emergency across the campus, the woman in her tight skirt was accompanied by other members of staff in tow whom slowed their walk in finding a bloodied Penitatas, damaged Spankmasters, and one clearly irritated Mitch the IT officer.

It was an intimidating sight for a Penitatas, accosted by so many disciplinarians all at once and the Mistress of Fur herself, but the toss of a snout-nursing claw had the drakeling standing her ground; a puff of misted blood huffed from her small nostrils in the most raptor-like of ways.

[I put a stop to your bullshit is what I did!]”, those claws of Ki`rene’s balled into fists to shout back, hissing voice shaking from the internal war that was going on within her mind to keep control of her jaw; such a frustrated and wounded bawl held back by the tiniest dam.

[No one is going to have any blisters for you to break! Your ‘treat’ can just go and fuck itself!]”, she explained of her brash actions with the most colorful and damming of rationale her young maw could shrilly spit, deeply entrenched in her own emotions and what was going through her head.

So unused to being defied by anyone she could punitively destroy, grasping the meaning of the drake’s misdoing stiffened the lagomorph’s purposeful saunter. Left as the only individual stepping upon the threatening Drakonian child; snarling and riled as she was; there was a moment in her slower walk where her expression collapsed upon her stern might and unflappable demeanor. Her lengthy ears drooped off the back of her head, and in the angry glare of a disciplinarian, there came to be pained realization.

It was exactly what little Miss Ulrich demanded in her fit against the writ of ‘might’s and ‘maybe’s. No one would be paddled after being blistered by the booths, if the booths were taken out of commission – and she taking the fall for it all, just as so brazenly offered in the first place. Stopping mere paces in front of the seething, wounded eight year old drake, Principal Montgomery lifted a paw to her face and buried her whiskers into it for a moment’s time. A quiet fell upon the field of green with the other adult humans looking on, catching the Parssia looking so disarmed.

“… Call the nurse out here please.”, the stern woman asked far more quietly than she had ever spoken that morning, turning her head over her shoulder.

Summarily denied of the memorable “just because” paddling she intended to instill and left to pick up the literal pieces of her Penitatas student body’s Diaspora, the principal briefly left Ki`rene be so that she could delegate more critical duties. Left without hands grasping at her scruff or hauling her off when her actions made for such a grand distraction, Ki`rene soon came to lay down on her side, curled up like a cat in the grass when the school nurse arrived upon that stretch of field leading toward their playgrounds. The Cardassian woman was as no-nonsense as the institution’s true disciplinary figures, giving her plenty of lecture as she tended to her cuts and stanched the bleeding from within her nostrils; head hung quietly as bits of her were swiped by a dermal regenerator and dabbed with disinfectant. Several syringes with Penitatas-grade needles sat bare and open from the first-aid kit that was brought to her, but to Ki`rene’s rare fortune they sat untouched in the bustle of activity that formed beside her.

Coming down from her fight and all the bodily chemicals that fueled it, a rushing, spinning world found physical and mental discomforts as she tuned out the Cardassian woman’s lambasting over her self-inflicted injuries to keep tabs on Madam Montgomery and the spanking booths she wished to remain disabled. She had pulled the IT resource officer aside for what sounded like a short lived argument over “letting her wreck the justice department’s machines” before more hastily attempting to find means of making the units function. Barking orders in perfect organization, Montgomery sent one staff member after another to make calls; one of them she overheard being in regard to getting guidance if their school had no working Spankmaster units – something that made the young Penitatas smirk craftily in the success she pulled from a misdeed most positive, she decided to think of it as.

Boy were these people going to be sore with her, but…

Look, as far as I’m aware the chips they shove in these machines are just a formality to make them nervous. Why can’t you pull their assigned programs from the masters on record with the justice department? Manually boot into each one?”, it seemed Madam Montgomery was attempting to lay forth some tough words of her own in needing to formulate some sort of resolution, raising her voice in frustration. Crouched at her side, Mitch had his hands inside the control panel of the third Spankmaster unit by then, having been taking apart each of the booth’s damaged sections.

Exactly what part of ‘broken control board’ are you seriously not grasping?”, the IT officer snapped, looking up at his side with the yank and pull of the unit’s circuitry in question, coming to wave the bare electronics in a way that made the cracked half of the board flap about; same as Ki`rene managed to do to each of the primary circuits, and being the thing that audibly snapped beneath the drake’s claws on the second unit.

We could ask your ‘penny there for a crayon if you’d like me to draw you a picture.”, his snark increased with his own frustration, giving the ruined component board a flick in Ki`rene’s direction to inadvertently send half of it flittering in a twirl toward the grass when it broke free; all the while making the ends of the hare’s muzzle lift, showing fang tips as she generally tended to when agitated in any way. Ki`rene could barely stifle the growl-like ‘snrk!’ from her snout.

Can we skip that part and get to where you fix the damn thing before the district has our heads?”, Montgomery threw her paw out with her claws extended toward the shattered bits of control panel that remained attached to the unit; the two feeding off one another.

Sure, my cousin is always sending me Spankmaster control boards. Got a whole box in my office, wouldn’t you know.”, Mitch tossed the remaining piece of board he held to land silently in the grass, tone dense with biting sarcasm when neither individual was particularly intimidated by the other.

Can we stop that in front of the Penitatas, please and thank you?”, came firmly from the lecturing Cardassian mouth beside Ki`rene, dabbing a cotton ball against her neck as firmly as she formed her words.

Why not get with the department and ask for replacements? This is getting the two of you nowhere.”, the middle-aged woman pitched as a more level-headed solution, trying to sound at least slightly more calm compared to them. It didn’t amount to much, seeing Montgomery stiffen with a backward tip of her head and roll of her eyes, ears flopping more loosely southward.

As if they have these things just laying arou-… ”, her paws lifted with a claw-curling gesture in grievance toward the discipline-administrating booth, though she did stop suddenly with a tense sigh. Catching her own tone with someone not providing her with the same, the principal ceased her sarcastic and jabbing attitude for one more becoming.

“… No, I’m afraid not. What we have is what we get.”, her red eyes lightened with a weakness appearing around them; expression akin to an apology, as simply and gently as she changed her response. Beneath her, with hands no longer having anything to try and poke at, Mitch crossed his arms and tried to relax all the same.

It’s also a holiday.”, he tepidly reminded.

I wouldn’t imagine anyone fathoming a Penitatas of all people would do something as violent and foolish as this when they’ve already got it hard enough. This is on another level Miss Ulrich… something you’ll be paying me back for, dearly.”, Madam Montgomery trained her gaze upon Ki`rene against the ground, taking steps toward her in time when there was no longer any backup plan for her to focus upon. Holding to her disdain and the mannerisms that earned her the title of “Mistress of Fur”, that ever-sneering Parssian muzzle above a rigid, strong feminine figure turned her nose up at the drake before her – and Ki`rene doing the same, tit for tat as she could while a pair of hands tended to her.

[Better than you hurting people for no reason.]”, the eight year old felt fit to jog the woman’s memory if she’d lost the context of their prior confrontation, having dared to threaten actually wounding her peers – the truthful way of putting “milking” blisters.

Catching those notions of disapproving disgust, Montgomery’s muzzle wrinkled. Squatting down as best she could with her skirt so tight, the Parssian mistress got in close to Ki`rene; eye to eye, and nose to bloodied nose.

You don’t like that there are consequences, ‘penny? I’m still going to paddle every single-… ”, the hare’s animosity got the best of her while being forced to stare down a fearless idiot of a Penitatas, and though her hastened, angry words were meant to put Ki`rene in her place, a crooked snout failed to care.

So instantaneous it gave Madam Montgomery’s senses no time to react, much less know what happened, her threatening attempt at berating her pupil was cut short by a warm, wet slop upon her face. Like a greasy slice of bologna thrown upon a car door, the feeling of slime adhered across her muzzle brought the principal’s paws to flail and bat the sensation away with an intense jump of recoil. A drake’s tongue quite the long, adept forked appendage at any age, Ki`rene slapped hers against the dumbass that thought it would be safe anywhere near her maw, delivering a load of her skin-irritating Drakonian saliva.

[Stings, don’t it?]”, Ki`rene teased like a child and monotone teenager all at once, making even the hissing of her reptilian voice still come off as terribly “matter of fact” to the stupid sight of the so-called mistress hastily batting her spit from her face, shooting back up to standing with a few shuddering steps.

And though Montgomery’s broad, large footpaws were busy stamping the grass amid quite the feminine growl of exceptional irritation, Ki`rene came to feel something so sharply painful that it blinded her; eyes snapping closed with a roaring yelp warbled from her throat. Not having kept a close eye on the school nurse, the Cardassian woman capitalized on the moment to instill her own form of medicine and discipline – one of those Penitatas-grade needled syringes missing from her first-aid kit, nearly trampled under Parssian paw.

“… Stings, don’t it smart-mouth?”, she chided if the drake would be so decidedly rude, snapping down upon the forearm Ki`rene wasn’t laying upon once her intentionally dulled needle found its mark between two scales of the eight year old’s left haunch; that single act alone having made an absolute explosion of a “pinch”, and the depression of the plunger a screaming, knotting sort of sting. The bearing of teeth was coupled with quite the squirm, trying to kick her legs, but that was all but futile in her position. She whimpered and growled so shrill, but in a mere moment it degenerated to hissing sobs.

The milky shots tend to burn to high heavens, or so you’ve all cried to me… but it’ll help keep you from getting any infections, or swelling into a balloon. You’re welcome.”, the nurse twisted her punitive yet beneficial act, seeing as one pain was being exchanged for the loss of another; the thicker and larger the fluid volume being given, the more it would generally hurt.

Those words being intrinsically Cardassian, and that syringe putting a distressing lump in the rear of her hip, Ki`rene smacked her own face against the ground to find the sweet smell of dirt and grass, choking back cries in her painstricken whimpers. Swallowing roughly, the piercing feeling of the injection didn’t fade as the needle was withdrawn from out of the channel it bored between her scale, claw going right for it as soon as the nurse let go of her arm. Wanting to thrust right back into a tear-fueled tantrum in response, Ki`rene lifted her head back up with yellow eyes most moist; the first bits of tear slipping onto smoother scale.

Even then, she directed it right back up to Madam Montgomery, letting slide the injection a Penitatas would get in their medical treatment. The prim and proper dressed hare turned with Ki`rene’s saliva removed from her nose, looking like she’d explode all the same as her pupil, but Ki`rene was faster on the draw in countering the woman’s prior attempt to threaten her.

[You’re just pissed off because we’ll all have to cop our Diaspora punishments at home from our folks, and you’re out of the picture! Treating everyone like they’re guilty and taking your paddle out now doesn’t mean shit compared to what you would have done! You thought it would be fun to hurt us, you bitch! All you get is me to abuse now, so I hope this was all worth it!]”, two shaky claws struck the rough of grass root and soil, sneering with all her heart’s hatred, and what her entire act of disobedience was worth to her.

It didn’t have the victorious impact she would have expected, however. Slowing her huffing breaths of agitation, the Mistress of Fur looked bewildered… perhaps a little stunned, standing there as she was.

And then, with the inquisitive lift of a brow, did her mouth do the same in the silence that fell between them.

“… Really? Is that where this stone wall is coming from? That confidence?”, Montgomery shifted gears entirely, sounding so much calmer, if not… gloating. Coupled with a darker grin than Ki`rene would have ever called “shit eating”, so tainted by the glint of crimson eye and fang-tip, the strange words tightened the girl’s stomach into an apprehensive knot; left leg curling from the injection, nagging with a pain that didn’t dull.

You’re entirely out of line, in attitude and deductive reasoning both, child. You think everyone’s parents would make up for what the booth didn’t do to you all, and that’s how today would go? That wouldn’t be Diaspora any longer. That booth has no second option.”, that calculated smirk did so explain for her pupil’s comprehension, dancing slowly about her syllables… Ki`rene squinting in confusion, not liking where those knife-twisting words were leading her.

The articles that govern the Special Punishment Days assigned to a Penitatas are very clear, that if a day is missed for any reason, the next S.P.D endured will have its lash counts doubled to make up for it. The only thing I reached out for guidance on is what to do with you lot until you go home.”, was a lesson on Penitatas regulations so cut and dry, Ki`rene’s defiant and worried snout broke violently into a deeply wounded gasp – so contorted, like her everything just shattered before her very eyes.

[W-… w-what, no, that isn’t fair! Anyone can give us the same sentence the booth was going to give!]”, Ki`rene stumbled before screaming in Drakonian, collapsing to that of a child’s shaken stammer.

She never thought that they’d simply skip counting Diaspora as served if they weren’t thrashed by those ridiculous machines. In Ki`rene’s young imagination, and having seen how other punitive matters went, she thought everyone would go home to get their spankings from their parents if the booths couldn’t give them… a better day for all except for her, who would be left to all the additional punishments her mothers and Principal Montgomery would be too thrilled to give.

Why?! Why the hell would they do that?!

Rules are rules. Serves you right.”, Newstat’s Parssian mistress beamed a satisfied smile for, getting to be the person to shut down the Penitatas terror that had the reptilian ovaries to tell her ‘no’ and stand in the way of anything she declared as duly just and well earned.

Heart stumbling to a fearful pound, the feeling of physical illness overshadowed the shot she got to the degree that her flailing limbs had her darting backwards off the ground in a retreating scurry. Shrunken and low, all of the selfless bravery she kept close to her heart to stay strong had been flayed. Jaw quivering in disbelief, unwilling to imagine a world so unfair, a squeaking sound growled into a reptilian cry with a sputter of sobs keeping her words back, making her throat burn as her eyes seeped freely.

That knowledge hurt so much worse than anything she had done to herself all morning. That all meant… everyone would be spared the entirety of Diaspora, only to be obliterated come their next special day.

And it was all her fault.

[No, no, no – it’s not right! Put it off – get new machines – fix them – something, please!]”, would be the tearful flurry of desperate words she’d hobble together at the notion that such a terrible thing ‘served her right’, having wanted to protect everyone from the actions of another. Known for being well versed in the matters she oversaw, Madam Montgomery stood tall while all the other adults stared on.

Next holiday for most of you is Christmas. Congratulations on making the single worst day of everyone’s sentences – even those I wasn’t going to be paddling today.”, Montgomery tore so purposely deep into Ki`rene’s spirit, she broke the drake into a forlorn and mortified series of sobs at the mere suggestion she personally harmed every hard time Penitatas in all of Newstat. She knew how bad Christmas was with all those nasty sticks, and Aubrey could hardly make it through what she got as it was! Doubling it?!

No matter having already made the eight year old lower her head, the principal with her hubris so far into the lofty clouds brought the proverbial paddle down as hard on Ki`rene as she could.

Except for those of you suffering Thanksgiving. Enjoy your whip, Ulrich. You’ll be intimately acquainted… twice as long as usual, it will feel like it’ll never end.”, such a lesson in education was painted a shade darker, hissed in such a way as to bring dread and quivering limbs; all with such pleasure, at that, to invoke mental images of a whip that cracked against her again and again, endlessly. Ki`rene took another step back, burying her snout in her claws with a thrashing shake of her head.

[T-this isn’t… w-what I wa-wanted… ]”, Ki`rene sounded broken to pieces; a high pitched squeal in her snarled, hissing sounds. She meant for none of this…

[I’m-… I’m so-rr-rrry. Please.]”, the trembling drakeling was reduced to begging, hiccuping with the weight of the whole world crushing down upon her raptor-like back. Her nano-web gouged into her mind just how torturous the next special day for everyone would be because of her, and what double lashes of her Thanksgiving whip could ever possibly be like. Her welts would have welts – she’d come apart!

To those tiny, emotionally obliterated words of extreme guilt and regret, did a crack suddenly erupt through the air. The clap of two furred paws at the height of tightly swaddled bosom met with the bounce of Parssian ears.

There we are!”, Madam Montgomery declared happily.

Nothing but the sweetest of words.”, her tones pirouetted in a disciplinarian’s delight; her sole drake student finally in her place, and the mistress again elevated to her own. It was as the world should be.

“… But for now, you have other matters to worry about. Your illicit tantrum destroyed three Spankmaster units. These men will discuss whatever crimes they charge you with.”, came out of her mouth so comfortably amidst her smaller’s sorrow, plainly and callously hinting of what else loomed. She hadn’t finished speaking before Ki`rene’s snout flew out of her claws with a shaken gasp, slit pupils narrowed as she threw her head around with quick, sweeping swings of her saurian neck.

Side to side and dead ahead all looking as she left, trembling and whimpering in such extreme tearful fright before the staggering of her own hind-claws had her thrash her sight toward what had been the reach of her tail. What she saw sank her heart into her legs, bringing the once headstrong reptile to crumple into a curl where she stood, crying audibly and with earnest.

It was the flash of red and blue; a twinkle of light unchanged in North America over the course of centuries. In all the hell that was flying through her young mind, she never heard the hover-vehicle settle down to land by their swing sets without the alarm of any sort of siren. Summoned by one of the adults Madam Montgomery sent off earlier, they were made aware of a crime committed, and where exactly the perpetrator and the evidence of her transgressions stood. Two human men in black officer’s uniforms were already walking their way; none too bothered, but none too pleased.

In one of their hands, dangled a pair of cuffs meant for a child.

[They’re all fixable – nothing is destroyed!]”, Ki`rene spun back around with the weight of her own tail throwing her off balance to wobble, screeching in such inconsolable panic for her hide. She didn’t want to be arrested – for goddamn what?! The machines were fine, they could still be used!

To it all, Madam Montgomery maintained her dear smile, pleased as a peach.

When you throw a rock through a window, are you absolved when the pane is replaced?”, the hare answered so easily to her hysterics, it was like simply spelling out a nursery rhyme’s moral to a Kindern; those words motherly and tender, obviously so mockingly.

Ki`rene looked like she’d throw up and collapse, staring into her eyes. Shaking like a leaf, and with legs of gelatin, did the drake look like she had no place to run and hide… so pleading. Tiny, alone. Pitiful, even, as clueless and far from reality as her actions and intentions had been. She never would have left Aubrey’s side if she thought she would have hurt her… or if any of this would have happened…

You really had no idea what you were getting yourself into. How sad.”, the mistress stretched her maw into a frown for, soaking her pitch with the sort of false sympathy that made it almost undeniable that she was taunting the wretch that had the gall to stand up to her, all while seeing in the little girl’s wounded eyes that she truly meant no lasting harm, and saw none of this coming.

I hope this was all worth it.”, her whiskers splayed with the shift of her derisive frown, taking Ki`rene’s own words to shove them back down her throat.

Left with remorse and ruin, Ki`rene melted into a hatchling’s lament as the ebony boots of the Newstat police stepped up to her from behind, tearing down what remained of her hopeful, bright little world. The fight in her all but gone with the unintentional harm she had caused everyone and her own self, the still practically Kindern woman in her small saurian frame cried her eyes out as her claws were cuffed wrist-to-wrist, showing the men no resistance.

She wanted to do right… but all she got, was her wing broken.

By the way Ulrich, don’t ever wear that scarf to school again.”, Ki`rene heard Madam Montgomery say through her tears and sputters, just as the two officers had begun taking her to their cruiser.

You look like an idiot.”, her far less veiling tone insulted of the asinine nature of a drake wearing the facsimile of a cuter child’s sailor outfit, cruelly adding spite in paying administrative notice to the playful faux-attire.

It wouldn’t be the only hurtful thing she heard behind her either as she was lead away, having the gathered handful of staff members applaud the arrest of the destructive convict she surely looked to be. After what she had done, she was given the same cheer as a rowdy child getting the public tanning they deserved; such justice meeting with proud approval. Found guilty by their judgment, their casual condemnation made it hard to feel any smaller, or more misunderstood. It left her so beside herself in the state of mind she was in, walking slowly with the world blurred into a rushing haze.

Guided into the back of the two officer’s hover-vehicle by a hand gripping her upper arm, she was left alone with plenty of time to think about how much she’d come to be loathed like that. Losing control over her emotions disrupted her conditioned resistance to her nano-web, making it nearly impossible to access the maturity and will of her older half as a rejuvenated person, feeling such stresses and pains weakening her. While those uniformed men gathered their evidence and interviewed all of those with witness statements to offer, scanning her droplets of blood in the grass and the trace DNA she imprinted into the consoles of the Spankmaster units, her lonesome had her howling to herself in ways she could hardly quell, wanting so badly to be held. For someone to extend their own wing, and make the regret and fear stop hurting.

She ran herself in circles like that until the police officers’ return some time later, when she went from being detained to officially charged with crimes committed – those fears turning into a harrowing ordeal that was all too real. Being only eight years old and already institutionalized into the Penitatas Justice System, being taken to Newstat’s precinct for processing didn’t land her in jail, or a cell of any kind. The reality of the matter was that she already had a “prison” to return to, and a pair of wardens to mind their tiny criminal as they did on a daily basis. Ones that looked a mixture of disappointed and irate when they arrived to collect her back into their care, finding their Penitatas cuffed to one of the station’s benches in a slump with yellow eyes several shades redder than they last saw them.

It was apparent that Sally wanted to go off on Ki`rene from the start, not even out the precinct’s door before lashing out with a flurry of “You just wait until we get home!” sorts of threats of punishment, but Rah`veia took to a far calmer form of chastisement by remaining solemn and quiet. The drake mother shushed Ki`rene with a light, abrupt reptilian sound any time she tried to speak, joining her in their hover-car’s backseat. The urge to cry refreshed in returning to her parents’ side, Rah`veia surprised Ki`rene by providing her a place against her body to blubber against while she rubbed her snout, chin, and neck clean of dried blood with a damp cloth. It seemed a few lost blood droplets left stains upon her child’s scarf that she’d need to get out, though she wasn’t sure how the heck her penny left the house with that particular one as it was. That misdeed so greatly overshadowed, it’d not come to be a proper subject by the time Ki`rene’s legs were nervously treading ground through their front door, slinking in an awkward stride.

[Mother Sally, ma’am, I can explain!]”, those legs of Ki`rene’s scurried like a stumbling puppy, shrunken so close to the floor like any kid not wishing to be struck. Shag living room carpeting softly puffing between her saurian toes, her clumsily staggering hind-claws had her stepping backward at the chasing, brisk advance of Karrian claw; in a degree of trouble she could hardly fathom in her panicked sounds.

You can rationalize away three felonies, Ki`rene? I can’t believe you’d even try!”, the mid-thirties Karrian woman lashed back with her harshly assertive feminine tone. Typical of how she’d conduct herself when Ki`rene had really gone and screwed up, she was in the middle of rolling up her button-down work shirt’s sleeves as she spoke, bearing the labor-sculpted muscle of her forearms with each tug of her claws. It was usually the last thing she’d see before getting thrust into some sort of position and spanked as soundly as Sally surely knew how.

While the physically strong lizard was a paragon of Karrian beauty with scales a rarer hue of pearl white, she was a solid flower with spicy fruit. Confident and natural within roles of leadership, a head of short rusty blonde hair let the golden metal plate on the back of her neck shine without being covered by a single strand, as polished as she kept the distinctive feature of a grown Karrian. Toned and fit, she was quite the compliment to the maw of true Drakonian teeth her mate had to offer in maintaining the disciplined life of a hard time drakeling. It gave Ki`rene a lot of reason to flee her reach; the light of the room shifting as Rah`veia stepped through the doorway behind them to obscure much of the milky glow of the day.

[I didn’t mean any of it! Not like it sounds mother, please, I swear… !]”, Ki`rene’s spits and snarls broke in her pleas for merciful understanding, so tearfully loud and desperate to clarify her acts with context.

She didn’t get to as heavily as the pants-wearing Misses Ulrich came upon her, ending up in a wince that enveloped her entire raptor-like body; eyes squeezing closed with the tiniest of whimpers, expecting her scruff or arm to be yanked into the commandeering grasp of her warden’s claw. When she felt nothing and noticed the sound of footfalls had eased, Ki`rene cracked her damp eyes back open to find a muzzle near her snout that she’d dare not slap her tongue against; Sally her own personal “Mistress of Scale”, as it were, and someone she could fear more than Madam Montgomery herself.

[No explanation can justify what you did. Not when you ended up here because of vandalism to begin with. Have we not been hard enough on you, for you to learn?]”, Rah`veia’s more poignant verbal mannerisms followed as a bright and collected drake, cracking into words of lecture as Ki`rene stared into sharp eyes beneath furled white brows; an air of serious intimidation coming over the dim living space.

Hard is exactly what we’ll be.”, Sally declared with forewarning to her voice, bringing her muzzle to wrinkle as a woman most punishing of those small and imprisoned; low, and with a parental figure’s sort of promise to the sentiment her wife shared behind her. Ki`rene’s youngest emotions had her try begging for an ear, but the slightest shift in her snout’s scales had Sally’s own curl more deeply.

No, you shush! After all this, you’re going to walk right on over to the paddle wall to fetch me your ‘real bad little lady’ paddle you got for your birthday, and march your tail right into the bathroom!”, her attempt to plead her case was condemned with the assurance of immediate consequence from a mouth of fire, delivering a direct order that tugged the ends of Ki`rene’s maw as far back and taut as they would go.

[N-not the ba-… !]”, the whining eight year old tried to cry out with an inevitable squirm.

I said hush! For you making me leave work early to come and get you out of a police station, having the gall to commit a crime as a Penitatas under my roof, I’m going to do something that I like, and you hate – so quit it with the backtalk, acting like you shouldn’t be blistered raw!”, Ki`rene was shut down so hard into her face that she flinched from being yelled at, shrinking further at her firmest mother’s berating scold. As angry and willing to punish as she was, the Karrian’s long tail took a flick right along with her right finger; not done, and with more words for that sputtering snout beneath her nose.

And you’re going to ask me for it! Very – nicely! Otherwise, I’m going to treat today like it’s still Diaspora and swing that paddle as hard as I can! Is that what you want?”, the introduction to the paddling to come was further bittered by all too familiar expectations of self-depreciation.

Being torn into like that broke Ki`rene down with the damming influence of her nano-web, turning a series of reptilian sputters into a frightened little girl’s sobs as the drakeling lashed her head in the typical human gesture for ‘no’. Already so sad and shaken; alone in the world with the misdirection of her own good intentions; those harshly biting words momentarily silenced her snout aside from the notes of her squeaking little cry. She sure as hell didn’t want to be treated like severity restrictions were still lifted if they weren’t going to count the day as having been served! But, before she could hold back her tears enough to ask her mother if she’d promise not to do that, the Karrian’s expression stiffened with a threatening tip of her muzzle in warning.

If that chirr you’re about to squeak isn’t ‘yes ma’am’, so help you… ”, Sally could see through every tiny shift in Ki`rene’s scales to tell when she was going to try and speak, as accustomed to Drakonians as she was. Not wanting to hear a single utterance of excuse or hesitation when a “bad penny” needed to do exactly as told, willful compliance was all she’d accept from her resident criminal.

With a frustrated, submissively restrained grit of her teeth, Ki`rene clenched her eyes to force a pair of wet tears down the cool, smooth surface of her scales; one crossing a few hardly visible remnants of glass cuts. She turned hind-claw upon carpet, and with her weary head hung did she walk those last several steps over to the family paddle wall. While her home would one day re-exemplify the concept of having a living room wall dedicated to the punitive needs of the person she cared for, the paddles in the Ulrich residence were kept at a child’s reach in their public display; the Penitatas’ own claws meant to retrieve them whenever her non-drake mother desired one in particular. And, when she asked for the “real bad little lady” paddle, it was the same as asking Kayla to go and get her own “big girl” paddle to beat her with… the dread and fright surely not lost on a young Ki`rene in needing to lift the big, heavy thing off its hanging pegs.

One of the gifts she unwrapped during her last birthday party was her very first blistering-capable dragon-paddle; something that made her guests all gasp and gawk. It looked little different no matter the century, being a dark synthetic wood with tightly clustered, sharpened metal studs that came to finer, longer points than your typical Drakonian paddle. A few of the points were even jagged, purposely making a faintly uneven spanking surface to dig certain studs deeper into her armored reptilian hide; one of the things that could permit her to blister in the drake sense, pooling fluids into pockets within her scale, versus how such a thing worked on the soft skins all around her. It made her fingers shake in bringing the implement up to her loosely wrapped scarf, and with the longest of faces did she simply make her walk of shame toward the bathroom adjacent her bedroom… isolated, even with footfalls following.

The small bathroom she had known since becoming a Penitatas was a decently sized one for being Drakonian compatible, leaving plenty of room for a party of two with a full grown drake tagging along for assistance. Colorfully decorated with the purpose of it being for Ki`rene’s baths and daily affairs, there were different sorts of stick-on foam cut-outs on the tiles around the tub, along with a rubber duck with a sailor cap that her mothers found too adorable to not have floating around the bath whenever their penny was in it. For all the things that made it playful and casually embarrassing at times, the worst thing that could happen was to be sent there by Sally with an ulterior motive; Ki`rene knowing exactly why she’d be ordered there with a paddle in claw.

That reason was a simple rubbery bag of white that always hung from the tub’s curtain rod high above. Forced to see it there every day as a harsh reminder of “things that could happen to bad girls”, it also lent itself to making the poor drakeling need to explain it to her visiting friends that asked questions of the weird thing hanging there with that long hose; something that lit her snout afire, and enthralled her mother – the particular white-clawed one that plucked it from its perch with such familiarity. Being her specialty, and that “spice” she could throw on top of a good paddling, Sally was something of an enema fiend, as creative and punitive as she could be with the bag and its pediatric Drakonian nozzle. Clutching the paddle that would soon be gracing her hips did Ki`rene sniffle and sob, listening to the telltale sound of running hot water at the sink; that rubber bag getting its fill, with a generous helping of various doping agents from a woman that really knew how to make it a crampingly uncomfortable ordeal. The room quickly smelled of scented soaps that couldn’t be seen as a few powders were sprinkled into the bag, forming an alchemist’s slurry of something the eight year old Penitatas could tell would be worse than Sally’s usual concoction.

Well?”, echoed about the bathroom with the steaming hiss of running water, adding something beyond Ki`rene’s tearful notes.

Don’t you have a question for me, Ki`rene?”, Sally looked off to her side as she wrapped up what she was doing, suggesting that this was the final moment her Penitatas had to do as she had been commanded. As the experienced disciplinarian’s fingertips slid across the controls on the back of the sink, gliding to slow the water’s flow to a halt, Ki`rene gripped the paddle to her scarf-covered chest with one arm, just so the other could wipe at the scale all around her eyes.

As much as it hurt, being made to collect her own paddle wasn’t the punishment being forced to ask for her own paddling was. It was another one of those products of the time when your typical ‘spanko’ parent preferred such things… and Ki`rene had been well trained for those times, when her snout often didn’t say the things expected of it. It was impossible to utter without hesitation, or a lump in her throat… made promptly worse when the sudden silence of the water made apparent the gentle droning whine of the family hover-cam in the doorway. The sphere with its glowing base of blue took point at Rah`veia’s shoulder, following her, but with a gesture of her claw it came aware of whom to be filming. In the huddled stance she stood, Ki`rene eyed up at her mothers and up into the sparkle of the hover-cam’s lens, knowing Sally was about to make the home movie at a lifetime at her intimate privacy’s expense.

It was a punch to the gut to be reminded that her discipline was an entertainment to be enjoyed, when life itself had gone so sour for her. Some piece of scale at the end of the day, no matter how bad she felt. Despite wanting to curl up and scream a roar with the world so uncaring, self preservation left weak, meek eyes of yellow in the remains of her feelings.

[… Would you spank me, mother?]”, Ki`rene uttered with defeat, raising the paddle she held to partly hide her face with the pain and shame doing so caused. She sniffled, taking a breath.

[… Pretty please?]”, she closed her eyes and pressed with a stiff jaw, giving Sally exactly what she wished; the handle of the paddle being extended in offer beyond a downward pointed raptor snout.

The request so kindly spoken, it was that of an honest, actual plea from the bearer of silver ‘P’s. It was like asking for that promise she wanted from Sally, that she would not swing her worst paddle with the full-force offered by the Penitatas holiday if she did exactly as told, and submitted as demanded. With it, Ki`rene’s dragon-paddle slid from her claws into Sally’s own in the woman’s step, reaching up with her other arm to hang the white rubber enema bag from its rightful place upon her bathroom shower rod; suggestive plug-like end dangling with a softened bounce against the side of the tub.

Then let’s see that tail. You know where your snout goes.”, Sally gestured into the tub with a jerk of the paddle’s end once it was in her control, forming a directive that made it sound like Ki`rene was being asked to willingly discard her dignity again before the floating hover-cam’s ever-watching stare.

The sad little drake didn’t bat a watery eye. She tightened her scarf’s wrap around her neck with a comforting pull, taking her expected place against the side of the tub without anything to cause further trouble to herself. She was scared out of her wits and her nano-web wouldn’t let her dull her tears, whimpering out a couple of fresh sobs as she padded her hind-claws apart to bend forward. Just barely tall enough at her age to lean over the side of a Draconian-accessible bathtub without something to stand on, the outstretched reach of claw and snout let her hindquarters come to be bared openly; tail headed up into the air at an angle, curled toward her head in the limited amount her raptor frame would permit. Her fingertips touched the cold of the tub’s bottom, settling the tip of her snout between the bracing splay of her claws as she had been taught to do… expected to keep it there, and not move.

Breathing roughly in anticipation of the unwelcome touch to come, the room’s shadows shifted and flickered against the bit of white tub before her eyes; the sound of movement meeting with the unmistakable click of a lubricant bottle’s cap, made to wait those final moments on such display. Before she could so much as swallow in response to the nervous warmth of dread skittering across her scales, a physical grasp at the base of her tail brought Ki`rene to flinch right up to the appendage’s tip. Abrupt and intentionally ungraceful, the press and forceful spread of Karrian fingers upon the subtle, thick curve of her tail’s underside brought her furthest-back crease of private scale to part with Sally’s deft experience. Though such intimate creases of scale were typically invisible to the naked eye, the mother had a knack for always knowing the exact point her tailhole rested, or where to swing to make every steel bristle of a brush across the entirety of her small genital slit… never much of a surprise, considering whom she was married to; watching over her wife’s shoulder. Brown scale furled away from one another, smooth and soft to the flash of delicate, wrinkled pink flesh, baring a couple of Ki`rene’s teeth from the same disquieting sensation Kayla hated when her tail was yanked.

Except, in her own case, what came next was firm, cold, and intrusive.

Without regard to comfort or person, Sally’s grip upon the pediatric enema plug brought the nozzle’s tip to that reptilian gnarl of hole with a prompt and unyielding press, turning what would typically be an easy poke into a stomach-tightening jab. So sensitive and personal in nature to begin with, the abrupt shove of the plug shot a confusing multitude of feelings clear through her hindquarters, penetrating and flowing, though the brisk widening of her tailhole to swallow up the bulb of the nozzle came as a yanking, tugging ache for that split second before her natural grip took hold of the narrower part of the end meant for a drake child; all while the hover-cam whined faintly in re-positioning, trained to follow and focus on movement to catch all of what was occurring with precise acuity. That stretch of taut, private hole folded scale around the plug, forming the sheen of loose lubricant around its rim with a slight turn of the plug in Sally’s hand, making sure it was in place. The deepened prod into her tail brought the base of Ki`rene’s snout to wrinkle with a grunt of a huff, curling her fingers slightly, but there would be little time for more than that when Sally felt the way she did.

Now… ”, the Amazonian of a Karrian fired off sharply, redirecting her attentions with a disciplinary overlord’s ire.

The telltale clack of the rubber hose’s flow-control dial rolling open curled Ki`rene’s maw into a deep frown, tightening up in a wince, and sure enough the sudsy slurry of water hit her insides like a ton of bricks at the rate Sally opened it to. With its gravity-fed rush from the curtain rod, the heated and volatile water rushed through the clench of her tailhole unabated, striking with a sharp jolt that quickly melted into the sensation of tickling, flowing warmth southward toward her belly. It never began comfortably when the water’s temperature was different from her body’s, and sure enough the soapy, tainted contents of the water quickly urged her intestines into a tensing cramp; something that elicited a whining growl to be echoed into the tub. But, a punishment enema was only the “spice” of what was coming, and not where her mother’s ire was switching gears into.

The throaty, deep ‘woosh’ of a flattened object cut the air, swatting Ki`rene across her right saurian hip with both speed and zero warning when the weight of a dragon-paddle meant nothing to Sally’s arms. The sharp studs of Ki`rene’s first “big girl paddle” dug into her armored scales hard, sending a loud, pounding clap through the space of the bathroom, followed by that of a Drakonian child’s reptilian screech of pain; the blow being hard enough to make the seasoned Penitatas’s hindquarters wobble toward her other side from the strike. When a raptor’s anatomy permitted for the insertion of an enema nozzle independently of the rest of her haunches; hose trailing up their own tail; it left Ki`rene’s hips entirely bare and clear for spanking without disturbing the secondary punitive measure. It left a lumping, waterlogging discomfort that swelled by the moment, taking a second stroke of the paddle to her right chicken-thigh of a hip in rapid succession, and another pair just like it to her opposite tender haunch. The heavy swats deafening in the smaller space of a bathroom, they brought Ki`rene’s legs to flex from the explosions of quickly-applied bruising sting; Sally not needing to change her footing to swap hips, when she could backhand a paddle with the best of them.

Those four swats of her new worst-tier paddle had Ki`rene wanting to dance in that spot she held her position in, squatting in a way that offloaded some of her weight to her lean into the tub. In such a place, her nano-web had her tears elevated to howling sobs she could hardly control at all, sounding much like the eight year old drake she truly was in form, muffled by the bathtub her head was enveloped within.

From the top, girl… ”, sounded distinctly as if it was being spoken through Sally’s teeth, hinting to the empowered bulge of her forearms beneath the rolls of her sleeves. The phantom shape of those rectangular slaps of pointed studs left a lot of hurt by themselves, and they still weren’t “Diaspora hard”… just “Sally hard.” Ki`rene could hardly stiffen up and lock her hind-claws upon the linoleum before being spanked again, knowing damn well that it was coming from those harsh words.

What-!”, Sally launched into a question that commanded an answer, driving the blistering-grade paddle across Ki`rene’s right hip for a third time, purposely angling the implement to clip the back of her drakeling’s haunch to her sharp cry.

the hell-!”, she drilled upon the same hip, making Ki`rene’s leg jerk with a more distressed yelp; that paddle rushing through the air like a bellowed wind in that echoing space.

were you-!”, pushed on, spank by spank to deliver a hearty blow to her right hip yet again, breaking pattern to confuse her Penitatas. It knocked Ki`rene’s hind-end toward her left, shifting the enema hose about with her tail to make a metallic ring from the weighty bag above sliding awkwardly on the curtain rod.

thinking!”, the mother ultimately demanded to know the meaning of her personal convict’s actions, swatting without mercy; that final blow to the same hip after so many drilled into it making it lift, squirming and kicking her hind claw against the side of the tub with a shrilly desperate wail of reptilian proportion.

Ki`rene could hardly keep her snout down like she was supposed to, thrashing it against the bottom of her bathtub in what was becoming a painful slump against its raised side; the porcelain digging into the front of her legs were it met with her saurian pelvis. So many swats in a row to the same place put her in a world of hurt without much effort, and while her left hip had only the two starting strokes, that was also where she had gotten the school nurse’s infection-prevention shot… that lump of fluid in her muscle suddenly being dispersed on impact, tearing through her tissues to leave the strangest, yet sharpest sting in one round little spot. Couple that with the fact the enema water was entering her bowels so rapidly, rushing the hot, bubbly water through her in a way that harshly irritated her insides; bubbling and groaning; she was left with a discomfort that was growing in size, and soon to be called “painful” instead of just an intrusive misery. All of what was in it, right down to the temperature, was meant to turn her lowest abdomen into knots. It would also need to make her go to the bathroom with critical urgency as hard as her belly was clamping down upon itself, but the punishment was in the pressure and inability to relieve those painful knots, for now.

[E-e-everything went w-wrong! I was just trying to-… ]”, it took some moments, but Ki`rene began hissing out a stammering cry of words that sputtered to a stop with tears.

[I needed to help everyone!]”, she tried to explain after a hard intake of air in her sobbing, finding it hard to gather her words in her distress and the tiny nothing her nano-web was urging her to be. Be silent and cry, you Kindern fool.

That tearful wail was turned up a notch with the reply of her own paddle, firmly swatted across the flattened lump of her injection site upon her left haunch. Those longer and jagged studs pricked in the way they smacked harder into her scale, injuring the pinpoints they licked with a stabbing, pinching sensation to go with the weight and force of a paddle’s blow; so many pains mixing to make a heat she couldn’t help but screechingly roar out to, every single time. Those legs both teetered, stamping against the floor in both a trantrum-like protest and the need for footing; those toe claws of hers wanting to curl with the inward turn of her saurian heels, smitten by a particularly biting cramp low in her gut, beneath the press of her own weight against the side of the tub. The pressure of her own position made a pinch point for the water’s flow inside of her, and whatever Sally added to the water was making her bowels outright burn with those hurtful cramps; nagging with venomous acid. Despite how much had already flowed into her, forming a frothy, steaming sea, a drake child had plenty of room to spare, and there wouldn’t be much reprieve from the punishing water tormenting her tailpipes until her stomach was visibly sagging. Seeing as Sally was using the whole ordeal as an interrogation…

Save them from what? Diaspora? That thing you all earned, you brat?”, the bossy woman barked in her angry distaste of such an explanation, using her questioning to grill Ki`rene on the horrific misdirection of her errant ways.

Being called a brat brought Ki`rene to desperately squeak a stammer that reverberated about the tub, obviously wanting to defend herself, but Sally’s heavy claw was a bringer of thunderous silence, ceasing the childishly feeble attempt at tearful pleas with a piercing blow of the paddle. Without concern for keeping her hips even, Sally gave it to her Penitatas’ speckled, reddening right thigh at an angle that gave it the full weight and every single metal stud the tool had, knocking her off balance on purpose.

Yes, you are a complete brat! I could call you a bunch of other things too, after what you did to screw us and everyone else over!”, the voice cutting through the tearstricken reptilian howls ratcheted up in firmness, embracing the corporal punishment she controlled to deliver a painful message home to the child she reared. Spited by Ki`rene’s criminal misbehavior as she felt she was, she took it well upon herself to remind of how far those actions went to harm so many – that of every other Penitatas, in a way she felt unconscionable if her penny wouldn’t assume one fleeting speck of responsibility.

While Ki`rene begged in crying out ‘No!’ in Drakonian, the sound of her voice was dulled away by the clap of heavy wood driving metal studs into a young girl’s thick scale, ensuring such a plea would go ignored. With a few wrinkles upon her white muzzle did Sally focus her eyes and begin a strong, fluidic flow of her arm in applying some greatly needed penance, spanking from sore hip to the next with impassioned blows of Penitatas proportions; all met with frantic, hardly understandable snarling pieces of Drakonian words like ‘mother’, ‘please’, and ‘stop.’ It had Ki`rene thrashing, clawing at the bottom of the bathtub in her screaming attempts to both speak and roar out her agonies, wanting to cross the legs Sally was wailing upon, pop after pop. Each prick of those longer studs threatened to eat into her scale and hurt the tissue beneath – she’d blister before long if her mother kept this up for any length of time further! It was impossible to hold still with her tail and stomach so bothered, leaving this hot, vice-grip of a bowling ball crushing down on her pelvis from how horribly her insides were reacting to the enema.

Who cares what your stupid excuse is! Stupid selfish excuse, for your stupid selfish tantrum!”, Sally found it well within her heart and mind to yell, taking one hell of a tone that she rarely ever did. Upset and riled, using the words ‘stupid’ and ‘selfish’ to tell Ki`rene exactly how she felt, she gave each utterance a smack from the paddle that clipped the backs of her drake’s raptor-like haunches, nicking a tiny bit of the sides of her tail-base in an effort to jostle Ki`rene’s grip upon the plug her tailhole held. Boy did it work too; that widened spread of scale furling as it tried to clench, taking airy, punching sensations that beat upon the sides of her tailhole from the firmness of the plug, and kicked the force right up her back-end in shockwaves through her waterlogged organs.

You can forget it for the next dozen strokes! Clam that mouth up before I dig out a bar of soap to shove in it!”, her mother condemned hard of Ki`rene’s attempt to speak anything but remorse, wanting to end that stumbling, crying little snout’s attempt at forming anything that wasn’t a meaningless roar.

Heart pounding, racing from all the duress and pain, Ki`rene was desperate in so many ways; from her spirit, to that enema pressing its weight down upon her more feminine organs, pinning and squeezing them between her intestines and the lip of the bathtub’s edge. Her stomach, straight back to the base of her tail, had turned into one stabbing pain, feeling like everything inside of her was going to pop from the irritating discomfort being forced into it from that sagging white rubber bag above. Having had enough of it to visibly show, the lowest bit of her belly swelled into a chubby, folding bulge against the tub, putting her onto the tips of her raptor-like toes; legs quivering from all the pain within them, making it so hard to spare her pelvis the punishment of her own weight, pressing into the balloon of all that water inside of her.

Hearing a deep breath behind her, Ki`rene balled her claws into fists, smearing tears against the bottom of the tub with the thrash of her snout against it… that “next dozen strokes” beginning with a low, booming displacement of air.

Then, a scream called out, roared with fire from a Drakonian throat.

Paddled so hard she lurched forward and partly off to the side, the blow made her stumble in a way that caused all her weight to collapse upon her belly, swept right off her hind-claws. The agony in her right leg brought her thigh straight up, shaking like a leaf in the limb-swinging fuss that exploded out of her; battered and stinging from scale to deep muscle. Tears flung from Ki`rene’s eyes in the surprise force of the swat, bursting into childlike cries amidst her hatchling’s lament.

[E’he-you promi-ha-haaa-… !]”, she so hysterically tried to shriek aloud for fairness… that solitary blow being far beyond “Sally hard”, to be well within the realms of the severity restrictions that were lifted due to it being Diaspora. Ki`rene did just as Sally demanded, she wasn’t supposed-… !

I promised you nothing!”, Sally shouted in retort, adding so much emphasis to ‘nothing’ that it still managed to be louder than the scraping, scratching sounds of claws thrashing before her; trembles from her Penitatas making the enema bag jingle against the curtain rod. Coming to show how she was the force of nature that could corral a destructive Drakonian child, the Karrian thrust the paddle she held down to her side in switching to the punitive implement of her own mouth.

What do you think is going to happen to you now Ki`rene? Huh? What happens to Penitatas that break the law as Penitatas? Where do they go?”, the grilling only escalated, though thankfully ceasing the dozen strokes if they were all going to be that hard. Feeling as if she had been assailed by a bat, unable to settle her right leg back down even after a few moments of powerful, broken wailing, Ki`rene had to ball her claws up by her snout and fight the reflexive, choking feeling in her chest.

It was hard, when she knew the answer.

[… Peni-… -tatas court… ]”, she came to more quietly speak in time, splitting up the first word with a hissing, stiffly growled sob; her right hindclaw floating in the air with her claws curled, needing to push off her fingers to levitate her sagging belly off the tub’s hard side. And, just like Ki`rene surely could, Sally made the reptilian sound of air rushing through angrily flared nostrils, glaring down at the soon-to-be incredibly well-punished Penitatas she housed.

Where they get judicially paddled and sentenced to more cycles! You’d better believe that they’re going to be swinging like that – and your turn for it is tomorrow morning, so you’d better get used to it!”, had actually lightened the way Sally’s chest threw the words into the bathroom’s enclosed space, making it sound more like a plea of her own; one for reality and sanity, wanting her child to grasp with her thick head that things really were that bad, and she too was that bad, for what she did to get here. She’d now be the defendant in Penitatas Court, facing those charges she piled upon herself today – none of this over, and truly only beginning, when a judicial paddling was the worst thing that could ever happen to a penny, being the only thing so much farther above the punishment they were already receiving as Penitatas.

Forehead smacked against the tub, a bit of her tasseled scarf ended up beneath her face to absorb her shower of copious tears. While most of her human friends would be kicking their legs, Ki`rene found more comfort in locking her joints and crying forcefully into the soft of her own cotton accessory, too afraid to let that leg down as her thigh’s instinctive muscle contraction eased. She’d be batting and rubbing her hip, but there was no way she’d be able to reach it with her anatomy in the position she was in; getting up ran the risk of her tail pulling the enema bag hanging above her, and perhaps the whole curtain rod with it.

But, with a hard swallow, Ki`rene fought with her mind, nano-web, and aching figure for her will. Some of what made her the thickheaded optimist she was, and fueled her sunshine. A turn of her head had a sopping wet eye trying to look back with a curl of her neck; scarf slopped against the bottom of the tub in a messy crumple.

[I don’t want to get used to it! I want to stop it!]”, Ki`rene fired back, using the pin-pricks of tiny blisters trying to form between the layers of her right haunch’s scale as motivation to speak in a way that could be understood through her roaring, squeaking sounds of pain and sorrow.

[I can defend myself, can’t I? Tell them I’m not guilty?]”, she stumbled over her snarling sounds that equated to words, so hurried and shrill in so tightly clutching to hope. Knowing that Sally would either scream some sort of scold at her, or stop her with another blow of her biggest paddle, Ki`rene broke her position with a press off the tub, lifting her head as best she could to plead in earnest; leaning awkwardly to one side as to shield her hips from a proper paddling angle, despite the tugging sensation that placed upon her own tailhole from the rubber hose going taut.

[Please, let me have my time in court! Don’t let them do anything to me without letting me speak! You can’t let them do that without-… !]”, the poor child screamed desperately for that reassurance and wing she wanted, refusing to let the world beat her and destroy her voice when her everything was at stake.

Getting shouted at by a screeching little drakeling wasn’t Sally’s definition of how a Penitatas should ever act. The airy sobs and sputtering cries were enough to make the Karrian’s muzzle twitch, gripping the wrapped handle of Ki`rene’s top-tier paddle… but the interruption to the eight year old’s heartache did not get to come from her.

[Ki`rene, stop. Breathe.]”, was stiffly hissed by a larger Drakonian throat, urging for the hurtful, harrowing back and forth to end.

Stepping forward from where she had stood to watch, Rah`veia nudged their holo-cam out of the way with a brushing toss of her claw, making the device whir in a sort of gravitational protest as it wobbled. The drake mother placed that claw upon the heavy paddle’s edge that her wife held, sharing a sympathetic glance into the turn of Sally’s head, meeting eyes. It made the Karrian crook the ends of her maw, wordlessly questioning why her mate would stand between their Penitatas and the punishment she was obligated to deliver, but all it took was a solemn stare to dull the tension around Sally’s eyes; the labored, destroyed cries of a flayed child making such a sad music in the small echos of the room. It was easier to notice, when made to listen.

Sally sighed loosely, letting some of what she held in her chest out, just looking over the brown heap of the Penitatas she had gotten to know these past three years. Curling up against the tub’s edge, guarding the squeezing cramping of her bowels, Ki`rene’s sobbing head had laid back down upon the bottom of the white porcelain, nuzzling her own scarf now that she wasn’t being actively wailed upon. Those reddened hips looked sore, and her right one nagging her just as badly as her belly; there being at least five tiny pen-tip sized blisters of light brown crowning fluid just beneath the surface of her thick scale, with her hindclaw still hovering above the floor from the swats’ lasting flames.

While Ki`rene was that difficult Penitatas at times, the little convicted hellion did have her sweeter moments, and had grown to be so much calmer the past year… she knew that as well as Rah`veia. It felt wrong to hold back when Ki`rene had some dire lessons to learn, and Sally did return a “lecturing” lift of a brow to her wife, but with her encouragement, she did relent to her call for the racing emotions to quell.

“… I’ll give you another chance. Spill what you were trying to do, and why, or you’re going to get that bar of soap between your teeth.”, Sally’s tone and vigor collapsed to something far softer, feeling her own heart rate as being far too high now that she wasn’t speaking with the tempo of its beat. It didn’t even sound all that threatening, despite trying to be.

Snout’s frown so strong, Ki`rene couldn’t break its sorrowful curl as her claws grabbed the white of her scarf and pressed it against her face, sputtering her sobs into it in easing every horrible worry that racked her mind since being led to a police hover-cruiser. It took a lot of hiccuping gasps for air to find her voice as a small woman against the prod of her nano-web, but with eventual sniffles did she find the capacity to return meaningful, weak hisses of Drakonian tears.

[There’s a statue at school… it broke. I dun’ think anyone did it, but the principal… that nasty fur-ball was going to punish everybody for breaking it, but only after getting whipped by their booth! She said she wanted to break people’s blisters on purpose for fun!]”, her urgent, higher pitched snarls tried to get out through the wobbling wane of her young speech, clutching the composure she could hardly keep as if her life depended on it. Being able to vocalize what happened struck Ki`rene with a tension that made her reach back to cradle what of her belly she could, clenching her teeth hard at the moving, flowing sensation of a cramp when she could be paddled again just as quickly as she was the first time in response to her excuses.

But when the bathroom remained silent, aside from a gurgling growl out of her hanging stomach; scale stretching to hang fairly obviously against the edge of the tub like an overfilled reptilian water-bed; a pain-milked whimper huffed out her nostrils.

[S-… so… I tried to stop her. Be the somebody, to protect everyone. I didn’t mean to be so bad… I wanted to help, but all I did was hurt everyone.]”, she pressed on despite her worry over being blistered worse for her reasons, wanting so badly for both Sally and Rah`veia to know the meaning of her actions, for better or worse, after what she had done. Jaw coming to shake violently, Ki`rene cradled her own face against the tub and her scarf both as her will wavered, and her desire to howl came too much to bear. Blubbering, her right hindclaw returned to the cold of the linoleum, just to squeeze her saurian legs into a bow, crossing the claws of her toes in an overlapping clench to the sack of water tormenting the base of her tail and deep beyond.

[I’ve never been so sorry… ]”, was all her heart could think of to assure, after being told she was a brat… like she didn’t grasp or appreciate the damage she had caused. She couldn’t do it without breaking down into a mess of sobbing, raspy squeals of a hatchling’s ugly, open mawed wail.

[I ruined everything!]”, she admitted as of what weighed on her, and how badly it did; a doubled Special Punishment Day for every one of her friends and acquaintances being gut wrenching to her conscience, and how those “three felonies” Sally kept harping upon obliterated her hopes, comfort, and potentially her future, for trying to do something good for a change.

After that, writhing in anguish and pain, all Ki`rene could get out was a fervently mourning weep, crying aloud like a damn toddler.

Her paddle didn’t cut the air, and though she’d not see it, Rah`veia wilted, standing in puzzled thought. Sally was still Sally though, lifting that heavy paddle like it was nothing, just to simply rub it against the bridge of her muzzle with a gruff, subdued groan.

Why the hell would she say that out loud?”, the Karrian mumbled with a fellow disciplinarian’s frustration, not fathoming what would have gotten into that Parssian woman’s head. She was aware of Newstat Elementary’s principal from how many times she had to deal with Ki`rene in her office. Directly telling a Penitatas that, and not keeping a “loose little ‘spanko’ thought” to herself? Especially one so… outright not okay?

[… Well, it sounds like Montgomery is a terrible fur-ball indeed.]”, Rah`veia knew as to who Ki`rene spoke of as well, adopting even her Penitatas’ rude remark in besmirching the so-called legendary “Mistress of Fur.” Slowly spoken and with a mother’s sort of disapproval, the open sentiment brought Sally to flinch into a surprised, stumbling blink, dropping the paddle from her face with an awkward lump in her throat; her muzzle opening to hushed words, though far too harsh for Ki`rene to not be able to hear in the sound chamber of her bathroom.

Hey, excuse me – we’re not supposed to be saying things like that about Ki`rene’s other authority figures. That’s a no-no.”, the lead Misses Ulrich corrected of her partner, reminding that it was a severe faux-pas to undermine the structure the Department of Corrections utilized in Ki`rene’s place as an incarcerated Penitatas.

And with me holding a paddle in my hand already?”, she lifted that paddle to the level of her head, wiggling it in due reminder for her mate to follow the rules in place for them both to follow; their muted exchange following their personal relationship, and whom sometimes had to “remind” her “good girl” how to behave.

While their Penitatas was too busy crying with a hose under her tail, Rah`veia cleared her throat and toyed with her own claws; fingertips coming together, as sharp-minded as the woman generally was.

[I, er’… don’t mean to be insolent darling.]”, her snout curled awkwardly, reassuring of her own intent in defense of her scale.

[But, it sounds like Ki`rene didn’t lash out mindlessly, as truthful as she sounds. She’d not be so hysterical if she wasn’t already on a bed of pins and needles over it… I think we need a time out, for everyone to calm down.]”, her head came further down with the lowering of her neck, becoming the voice of reason though the turmoil and chaos of what became of their morning; softer and more serious, tucking her consensual disciplinary submissiveness aside. Sally did wear the pants, literally, but it had come too hard to stand and watch such an exchange… turning her head back to their distraught Penitatas with a frown of compassion, trying to put herself in the scale of the tiny girl that loved to wear scarves, joining in with the district’s humans like she was no different.

[She doesn’t seem to need any help crying right now.]”, that poignant intellect pointed out with the lift of a claw in gesture, with Ki`rene crying as liberally and powerfully as she was. Surely that was not just due to the enema her wife concocted, or a claw-ful of furious paddle strokes… not when Ki`rene was a tough little thing. Worrying over her Penitatas’ emotional state and the need for this screaming day to slam the brakes for everyone involved, she extended the ear, and wing, Ki`rene wished someone would – and not to Sally’s comfortable approval either, and she knew she’d not get it.

After what the brat’s done, you-… ”, Sally rushed to remind with her wife’s saurian trot around her side in smooth stride, lifting her voice to that of a dulled, questioning scold, but stopped short with Rah`veia’s reach of a claw. Guiding the hose of the enema bag into her fingers, her thumb rolled the flow-control wheel until it locked closed, pinching it back down upon the hose without a lick of hesitation against her wife’s will over this matter. That creeping, perpetual golf ball of a lump against Ki`rene’s agape tailhole eased with the water’s movement until it disappeared, flinching to the click of the wheel out of sheer surprise.

[… I know you’re going to be upset with me, but the bag is already just about empty. We’ll let her go to the bathroom, I’ll give her a bath, and she can come to terms with the ramifications of breaking things to solve her problems while she’s in the corner for the afternoon. It’s not like I’ll let her go scot-free. We’re going to have a talk over a very, very long tail chewing… discussing tomorrow morning is a must.]”, Rah`veia took the lead in presenting another direction for this all to go in, putting her hindclaw down in insisting the day’s “reset button” be pressed with the calculated way she could speak so directly; turning to face her wife as if to acknowledge her own disobedience.

[May I?]”, she asked of her partner softly, and with a faithful note of a proper “good girl.”

The drake’s expression serious and somber for Ki`rene’s extended panic to be allowed to come to an end, she stood and awaited Sally’s response without a further word; claws held calmly together. Contrasting so heavily against the extremes both Ki`rene and Sally had perpetuated with their yelling, there was nothing Sally could think of to counter such a rationale, despite her overwhelming desire to discipline. That mind being one of the things she loved about her big ol’ wife, collected when she at times was not, the stare of slitted Drakonian eyes brought her head to nod with a relenting relaxation of muscle.

You’re her mom too. I’ll stop here, if it’s best.”, she extended her leadership’s baton, allowing her long, lizard-like tail to go slack, not having even noticed before that she had it curled into a stiff posture. Doubts and uneasiness hit Sally, holding that paddle she was meant to be swinging, but a Drakonian smile put some of it to rest… along with a quick nuzzle from that same snout to her own, when Rah`veia knew with certainty when her mate wasn’t feeling her best.

The exchange of roles allowed for a different breed of firm claw to release Ki`rene from the punishment she was so promptly accosted with. While Sally took her leave to get changed and take a needed breather, Rah`veia let Ki`rene up from that uncomfortable position, helping her ease that hanging lower belly off the edge of the tub. Bloated and sloshing, that heavy weight left an anvil atop some of her most sensitive organs, leaving a twinge in her genital slit that hurt from the anatomy of her saurian stature. That soapy slurry of Sally’s additives had the poor Penitatas hunched over from the intensity of her belly ache, not sure if she had ever felt so bad even when she had been sick. Thankfully relief was a few stiffly waddled steps away once Rah`veia gingerly removed the enema nozzle’s plug, leaving nothing more than the dulled sheen of half-dried lubricant upon thinner, softer scale that partly folded into itself with a clench for dear life.

Not that relief would quickly come, trying to handle that “business.”

Some of the tightness and more stabbing pains proved to be lasting, even by the time she was in the tub trying to feel less ailing; sullenly sniffling under the diligent scrub of Rah`veia’s claws. A part of her wanted to say ‘thank you’ for having rescued her from that whole predicament, but Ki`rene had sunk to a place where she no longer wished to speak, and simply hung her head to be obedient and quiet for her drake mother, like it was the least she could do. While the day would be historically awful, it at least wasn’t the date she experienced her first cold bath. Her larger mother meant her words, and brought calm to turmoil. It was a brief reprieve from the weight of her heart, that thankfully continued when she wasn’t immediately given that tail chewing in store for her when she was dried off.

Not given back her scarf when it desperately needed washing, a plain brown Ki`rene was shown to her usual corner of the dining room that she spent her punitive time in. Lead there by her claw, looking up with a long, sorry face, she was told by the one above her to stay put and think about what she had done. Given the opportunity to work through her problems with her snout tucked tightly into the corner, touching both adjoining walls… Ki`rene couldn’t say she liked what she pondered.

Penitatas court? Judicial paddling? At first she was just upset over what was going to happen to everyone else. The reality of things were terrifying, thinking of how many multitudes worse the punishment was going to be for her.

And that was exactly what she discussed with Rah`veia after standing there for two hours, given a quick bite to eat before her mother did some biting of her own. So slowly chewed upon it was “gentle”, her mother ensured she stayed at the level of a tepid sob for a good while, all to place her in the proper frame of mind for their talk. She learned how court was going to work in the morning, and how much trouble she could be in between nips and gnaws – her apologies not going unheard, but Rah`veia honestly letting her know that being sorry couldn’t change anything, at the point they were at. That Ki`rene would need to do exactly as told, and behave right, along with telling the judge that she was sorry, if she really did want to contest what she did… something Rah`veia told her was controversial to begin with, chewing harder for a spell when she wanted to duly remind her vandal once again about how wrong it was to “break things to solve her problems.” For that, Ki`rene tucked her snout into the crevice between two sofa cushions and howled meekly throughout. Not even her nano-web’s childish antics had the will to demand Rah`veia stop when she was already getting cut such a break. She’d be blistered half to hell if it wasn’t for her.

By the time she was back in her corner for another long stint to wait until dinner, the base of Ki`rene’s tail was bumpy and mangled; scales uneven from all the bite marks and where she was chewed upon. Deeply reddened like a human penny that had gotten a spanking from their parent’s hand for over an hour, glowing with a scorching heat, she surely had a lot more to snivel and whimper about in the dark of her narrow spot. Her tailhole caught a few sharp Drakonian teeth, left to gnarl and swell in its tired state; something Sally swung by to examine, hiking the base of her tail with a lift to peek beneath at Rah`veia’s work. At least it wasn’t the damn hover-cam, but disquieting none the less.

Once she had some real food in her belly later in the day, the sky was in the dusky throes of sunset; legs copiously aching in pain and exhaustion, when she was never allowed to sit for any of her corner time that whole afternoon and beyond. Afraid of what would happen when she scoffed her entire plate of food at the dinner table with Sally and Rah`veia, she sat sadly and nervously once she was finished, not really wanting to get out of that chair, just in case. But, be it by luck or “time served”, her drake mother spoke up to allow her to spend time in her room to unwind and rest before an early bedtime, and Sally didn’t protest. That was easy to say “Yes ma'am.” to.

Haunted by butterflies and guilt, Ki`rene never bothered turning on a light in her welcomed lonesome, leaving the door to her bedroom closed to wallow in peace. Her window’s curtain was left open, letting in the dying light as it steadily grew redder within the space she considered her own, but with little to do and no joy in doing it, Ki`rene’s eight year old saurian form was slopped across her bed in time, moping against her comforter as the room dimmed into a melancholy twilight.

It was quite unlike the white-walled prisons a Penitatas would one day see, when they were treated more like “little kids” during their stays with their overseeing families. With walls of light pastel pink, accented by the Ulrich home’s warm wood trim, the space had seen some personal customization over the past years, right up to the colorful cartoon comforter Ki`rene’s snout was half sunken into. Dotted by characters from one of her favorite shows and series since becoming a young kid again; their different elemental affinities splitting up the scene the bedding made; the listless stare of sunless eyes looked over her nightstand and three of the stuffed little creatures seated upon it. Ki`rene had gotten one from Aubrey each year for her birthday, holding to the playful joke that she’d have a full combat team of six of them by next cycle. While they were thoughtful sights on any day, decorating her room and giving her something special to play with when she was a but a tiny, younger sort of penny, the handheld gaming console that normally rested beside their feet was a heartbreaking thing to find missing. One little note that would have undoubtedly made Kayla jealous was that such a thing was just within range of being at an acceptable price-point for a Penitatas when video games weren’t entirely banned, though Ki`rene had to earn it, and was told up front that the one game in her little monster creature’s series would be all she’d be getting this whole cycle. It was one of several things that she actually played with as an eight year old that were confiscated from her while she was in the corner all day, and she was unsure when or if she’d ever see it again.

Propped against the wall across from her sad, spacing stare was a sizable drakeling doll of sorts, seated on outstretched legs with a repentant frown across her snout. ‘Gnawing Gracie’ was her name, just as Aubrey had a ‘Spanking Suzie’; basic animatronic dolls with lifelike skin, meant to be disciplined by their owners as Penitatas custom of the time, giving them an outlet for their frustrations and imaginative need to be on the other side of the lifestyle they were living, coping with it all. Ki`rene did dabble with settling onto her tail just as Rah`veia did at times to give the realistic hide of the doll a proper chewing as part of a kid’s “mom” roleplay; poor Ninne unknowing just how long her mother had practice at doing what she did; but she always preferred to spank Aubrey’s Suzie for the sheer humor of it. Ki`rene’s attempts at traditional tongue lashing looked and sounded so absurd on the doll’s bare little butt, it always left Aubrey rolling on her bedroom floor. It was one of the few times the subject of corporal punishment could just be funny between them – and that was surely welcome.

Laying there like the lump she was, crowning tears upon her eyelids, Ki`rene did want to grab Gracie by the scruff and give her the tail chewing of the lifetime… but it felt unkind to do so, even if she only wanted to do it to express her anger at herself. She felt like the last person that should be giving the seemingly toddler-aged, perpetually frowning little lass a reason to be looking so apologetic.

[If I’m going to do that to you… it should be ‘cause I need to, not want to, right?]”, Ki`rene broke the silence of her darkened room, sharing her inward-facing thought with the facsimile of a drakeling.

[… Doing things to you for fun is what makes you a toy. Does that… make me a toy, too?]”, she couldn’t help but wonder the existential similarities between she and Gracie’s punitive purposes to others.

[I don’t care how much of a stupid brat I am. I don’t want to be a toy. I don’t deserve to be something less than… me.]”, came to be snarled under her breath, sounding so soft and small in wanting to interact with her own imagination as a wounded child, thinking back to the names she had been called since the day went awry.

[Not fur-ball’s. Not… Sally’s.]”, she whispered with a sullen, thoughtful weight against the cotton image of the fire-type creature her snout dug into, brushing her scale with the movement of her jaw.

From being described as a “treat”, right down to Sally’s declaration of doing “something she likes” before waterlogging her hind end so intrusively, Ki`rene had little left of her blind optimism and rowdy vigor, feeling such a nobody. She couldn’t be more hyper-aware of her own anus if she tried, as centered around the day’s humiliation as the tender hole had been. Still experiencing the embers of a hot tail-base, a bruised right hip, and a bothersome discomfort in her gut from what it went through earlier, she knew she would have had it a lot worse if there wasn’t an intervention to it all. Her mother Rah`veia was the only person to even try and make today a little better, realizing that she wasn’t a beast, and surely wasn’t okay. No one else cared to be there for her beyond punishing her, or were willing to deviate from a hard-time Penitatas’ constant pillar of painful repercussions. Even then…

[… I should have hugged you the last time I chewed your rear, Gray’.]”, she uttered as a token of regret to Gracie, in wishing that others would have done the same for her.

Such lacerated emotional wounds did make Ki`rene muse her own inner philosophy as it learned and grew with her, forming her views on life, and what it meant to be someone’s guardian. She rarely ever heard the words she needed, or the comfort of a friendly, wanted touch, when her very person could be so casually violated through simply being a hard-time Penitatas. In the silence that followed when Gracie didn’t have the capacity to reply, Ki`rene eased the tension in her chest with a loose sigh through her nostrils… not feeling as better as she would have hoped, having a serious introspective conversation with that of her own childlike coping mechanisms.

A faint, teary sound called out to be muffled across the dull bluing glow upon Ki`rene’s bedroom walls, bringing the distracted girl to blink when she was fairly certain the sharpened whimper didn’t come from her own throat. Perplexed, the raptor hoisted her neck from her mattress to listen more carefully, and in the dead stillness she noticed that sound continue on so lightly until a louder yowl gave away what she was hearing – and the answer enhancing that frown she had been sharing with Gracie, drooping in sorry realization. The cry so feminine and raucous, and unmistakably human, Ki`rene slid from the reclusive comfort of her bed to share in her window’s milky birth of nightfall.

Some of the early Penitatas district’s houses were tucked closely together in order to accommodate those sidewalks they had, and when there wasn’t a fence on their narrow property line, Ki`rene shared in having a window directly across from Aubrey’s own. It was something her public spanking aficionado of a father took punitive advantage of when he wanted to ensure his Penitatas’ discipline would be seen or heard, throwing her window open to remove the element of privacy whenever he saw fit. Peering through the glass, the light of her best friend’s bedroom struck the yellows of Ki`rene’s eyes, finding her stout, thin-haired father seated on the room’s arm-less spanking chair with Aubrey across his lap, per usual for such a show. Aubrey’s long blonde hair kicked about with her legs, gripping at the wooden legs of the chair as the deep, punching slaps of her thick hickory hairbrush made firm, rhythmic work of her bottom’s bare cheeks; clapping loudly enough to make it through Ki`rene’s window panes. She wore her typical green nightgown for what Ki`rene presumed was the sentence of an early bedtime, similar to her own, but you couldn’t expect such an incredibly short garment to go past your waist when your caretakers preferred your welted backside to be on prominent, shy display – along with the rest of whatever you had, left hanging out on the other side.

It sucked to hear Aubrey crying as roughly as she was, wiggling from what had to be a whole lot of pain, but Ki`rene took a little relief in being able to see that her fellow eight year old’s hind-end lacked the mottled white of human blisters, even though it looked such a crimson, battered red. The poor thing undoubtedly felt the weighty licks of Madam Montgomery’s Board of Education as the Parssia promised everyone, and this bedtime followup was the spanking her dad was meant to deliver afterward, seeing that his girl paid for that “possibility” that she vandalized school property.

When Ki`rene felt certain that she was hearing Aubrey’s muffled voice behind those louder howls she could hear, she tried to discreetly pop the release of her window to lift it a few inches, wanting to hear what her cohort-in-discipline might have been trying to say or plead when she was out of the loop on how the rest of the school day went. While she got the window to open slightly without much of a clumsy stumble from her young claws, she hardly had enough time to hear Aubrey pathetically wail for her dad to stop before the entire affair ceased; hairbrush falling out of the air from its ready position.

Ah, there’s our little drake! See, I figured you and I could get her to visit.”, Aubrey’s stout father called aloud from his seat in his boisterous mannerisms, surprising Ki`rene to hear that he had been keeping tabs on her window purposely.

Aubrey’s writhing motions eased with the sudden break, dulling what had been her end-of-a-horrible-day bawling to that of strong, girlish sobs of painful discontent. Getting her rock-solid hairbrush to her Parssian paddle bruises and thick welts hurt immensely, leaving her trying to fan her backside with stiffly patting fingers. Nursing the fire-stoked aftermath of a good swatting wasn’t the rule-breaking taboo it would eventually become when parents of the time universally found the image of a penny holding onto their bottom as being “rather cute.” It gave Ki`rene the moment she needed to slide her window the rest of the way upward, timidly presenting her guilty self before an adult figure she was quite acquainted with.

[… Hi Mister Weyburn, sir.]”, she greeted with a weary air to her snarls, sounding like a Kindern in having to suddenly address her other closest family after what she had done.

[Please believe me that she didn’t do anything to some paddle-shaped rock. She’d never.]”, Ki`rene still had it in her to more gently plead in Aubrey’s well-deserved defense, clasping her claws together to sound sincere in her recount of the incident he must have surely been notified of – for what little a Penitatas’ good word really meant, in the world which they lived. The naturally sunny drake held none of her splendor and smile, sounding so worn out and sad, and it made her wonder if that weakness made her appear more honest when the older man Mister Weyburn was chuckled with some looser enthusiasm, wiggling his penny daughter’s brush into a wave.

Oh, don’t I know it. Why’d you think I stopped so short when you showed your nose?”, he dismissed of the very idea, knowing the Penitatas around him well enough. His rounded, soft features matching with his higher pitched and gentle, playful voice, Ki`rene couldn’t help but sigh thankfully upon hearing that those few swats would be all Aubrey would get.

But, with all that happened today, it was best that you and Aubrey spoke. I imagined I could facilitate that through giving her just a little reminder.”, he happily exposed his reasons for trying to garner her attentions if she was available, looking down over the silken strands of Aubrey’s hair as she came down little by little, releasing her wood-seared cheeks to wipe at ones more tear soaked.

For simple words, they still stung Ki`rene with the affirmation that he knew of what she had done. Lowering her claws to her windowsill, Ki`rene paused like a meek hatchling before her best friend and a man that often cared for and punished her; that feeling of disappointing family making it hard to speak, watching Mister Weyburn slip Aubrey’s brush aside to begin helping her out of his lap once she began the motions of returning to her feet.

[… Then, if you still trust me, believe me when I say I’m sorry, too.]”, her fingers curled upon the cold faux-stone in the nightfall air, extending her honesty to an apology for her terrible-looking actions.

Once standing, Aubrey’s reddened and stiff-lipped face scrunched in discomfort, quickly brushing her hair back over her shoulders with an eventual and entirely futile tug of her nightgown toward her exposed hips, trying to stand in such a way as to not look half naked by stepping closer to her window. She hiccuped once, sniffling fairly firmly before needing to rub at her eyes.

That’s all you can give? You lie to me and stick us all in the middle of your fight with the principal, and all we get is a ‘sorry’?”, the pause of her motions drew out in time, sounding so tearful and upset with her inquisitive and damming retort; mind going back to the courtyard, and the deceit that began this entire escapade. Child-like and filled with frustration, the words and twilight-lit tear streaks glinting off her scowl made Ki`rene stumble in guilty sorrow, throwing those claws back up to her reptilian breastbone.

[Aubrey, I don’t have anything else! I didn’t know I’d mess up Christmas!]”, she forcefully begged for her leniency with more energy to her voice, able to tell without a shadow of a doubt that Aubrey knew everything right down to what would now befall her – something she was just as mortified to find out.

All because you were mad, we have to suffer! Do you have any idea how angry everybody was when they told us that Diaspora was ‘off’, and what was going to happen, all because of you? Just to have your dumb fit, and one-up the rage-rabbit?”, Aubrey thrust her hands down upon her own windowsill, leaning forward to rip into Ki`rene’s actions and useless regret after what she had done to give so many a day of special torture; not skimping on her own pet name for Madam Montgomery in castigating both the terrors that hurt her this day. So angry and holding firm against Ki`rene having done it out of spite toward their principal alone, Ki`rene shook her head with a scalded, chirping reptilian whimper.

[I wasn’t acting out, I was thinking of you… !]”, her desperation deepened as her throat tightened toward sounding like she’d up and cry again, pleading for Aubrey to understand how much agony her heart was in for all the same reasons she was so mad.

Well good job Ki`, everyone hates you!”, Aubrey’s syllables bounced about with a child’s ire, slamming the conversation shut on what remained of the drake’s hopes of ever being accepted again; that being Newstat Elementary’s universal reaction toward the “rotten snake” that shafted them so royally.

Before Ki`rene could so much as squeak from the massive lash of finding out she was a despised pariah to those she meant to protect, another emotion exploded to drown out her stammer.

I – hate you!”, Aubrey clarified with exceptional emphasis and force, following the drive of her feelings in declaring her dislike of the flagrant jackass who stood at the window across from her – rejecting every bit of the terrible things Ki`rene proved today that she had the capacity to do.

Ki`rene stumbled at such a hurtful thing, averting her eyes with the sting of an inevitable sob coming on in the weakened toss of her neck, burning her eyes and tickling her throat. To get that from Aubrey, her best friend of all people, obliterated her feelings so-…

One moment!”, came above their young responses to the incredible emotions blinding them, interrupting both indignation and heartache alike with its stronger sort of interjection.

Snapping her tear-pooled eyes back to Aubrey’s window in the dull blue light seeping from above, Ki`rene’s jaw cracked open with an airless gasp at the sudden lift and thrust of her friend. The young human Penitatas made quite the yelp of shock as the sensation of brisk movement struck her, launching her forward as if being thrown from her bedroom window, but it all slid to a halt once she was bent over the windowsill, dangling half outside. In the light behind her, a fluffy old man raised the silhouette of Aubrey’s hickory wood brush, bringing Ki`rene to wince before Aubrey knew what was happening. With a hand bracing the girl’s lower back where her too-short nightgown ended, the shape of two deeply reddened hills came to be flattened – one massive, throaty ‘pop!’ at a time to echo across the sides of their houses.

Yeeee’-aahhhh!”, one sound out of Aubrey’s mouth was merely replaced by a hell of a scream when the first swat to her left butt cheek was met with its partner to her right, so much harder than Mister Weyburn swung during her actual spanking those moments ago.

Enough to bring Ki`rene’s shoulders toward her neck, shrinking with the sharp swats, such corrective licks surely fell into the realm of “Special Punishment Day” hard.

But, with just the two, a toss of the brush had Aubrey’s father hoisting her from her bucking flail, still trying to kick her legs in the pain-mediated tantrum the penny wished to have. Wailing with her mouth open, the girl burst into a loud, self-pitying sort of bawling as soon as her feet wobbled back into the carpet of her room, grasping her deeply reheated Board of Education welts for dear life. Met promptly by the clutch of hands upon her shoulders, she was turned right away toward her penance-providing guardian as he knelt down toward her level, giving him an earful of high pitched words that weren’t comprehensible as they warbled.

That’s enough of that. No – stop your fuss.”, Mister Weyburn scolded calmly with his voice’s beseeching nuances, obviously comprehending those nonsensical sounds as being questioning or defensive.

I didn’t try to get Ki`rene to show her face so we could lecture her more than she already has been. That isn’t how you treat your friends when they slip, Little Weyburn. She’s not so heartless that she’d not be scared about what is happening to you, or herself.”, he highlighted, eye to eye with Aubrey and her dangling spray of hair, that she wasn’t the only one going through something awful right now. Being the sort to speak more gently when trying to make a convincing point to those beneath him, the caring sort of sentiment brought Ki`rene to stifle the sniffle that hit her in trying to listen.

Here.”, Mister Weyburn shifted in focus with a glance toward the hurt drakeling across the way, sliding his hands down the silken green of Aubrey’s shoulders to slip his fingers under her arms.

In becoming the person the pair needed, he lifted Aubrey up without the surprise of being thrown over her windowsill like last time, though she still wasn’t at all a fan of the concept as short as her nightgown was. But, as she came to imagine with how high she was lifted; legs outstretched awkwardly in her desire to keep them closed; she was swept off her feet in order to be seated on her window’s ledge – something that did get her to yelp out a quick, girlish “Ow!” in response to her weight sinking into the rough surface. That nightie not being enough to cover any inch of her pelvis, a huffy, annoyed Aubrey shoved her hands into her lap and pressed her knees together, but when Mister Weyburn was your fatherly figure, that was ceased with the man’s lean out of the window at her side, lightly slapping her wrists to remind that those digits didn’t belong there. The fussing little penny flailed her hands for a second in her embarrassment before turning her head, bolting her arms to chest level to cross them if she couldn’t hide the naked skin of her front; feet dangling stiffly from the tight way she sat, trying to hide her privates.

Despite what Aubrey had yelled at her, a part of Ki`rene’s droop was sympathetic to the frustration on her long time playmate’s face. Being human, getting hoisted up and over something to be seated upon it left absolutely nothing to the imagination, as much as her kind’s skin made every crease and curve so obvious. Ki`rene wished she could tell Aubrey to try and not care when it was her being the one to see it, considering she didn’t at all mind or think much of copping a glance of insignificant body parts, but that was something too difficult to speak of at her young age; physical as well as total. They had seen and been through a lot together as it was, being companions since meeting as fresh Penitatas. Aubrey joined her in this life for multiple counts of ‘Possession of Illicit Substances’ charges, though she always swore up and down that she had nothing to do with illegal drugs… not that she would ever admit to what she dabbled in as a laboratory technician.

But, for all the discomforts ailing both girls, a soft-voiced old man with thinning hair sought to swap focus from his place in the window with Aubrey; eyes upon her pouty, tear-brushed face.

Now, you’re the one who told me about how scary your morning was, and who tried to stand up for you, hmm? Even though Ki`rene was very naughty, I think we both know what kind of person she is, no?”, he reasoned with her deductive nature as an educated and generally obedient Penitatas, taking to a fatherly method of questioning. The two had talked plenty after she returned home, hashing out the events of the day… and the painful things they learned of their sunny drake having done.

She was arrested today, when I’m sure she didn’t mean for the degree of malice that unfolded. Can you honestly look at her, and think she hurt you on purpose? Especially knowing what was said in that courtyard, and what she wanted to stop from happening to you?”, he spoke up in clear empathy and defense, raising Ki`rene’s neck all the way back up in her shock.

Because… wh’-… why shouldn’t I be mad? Aren’t you? Don’t you want to pop her one, like you just did me?”, Aubrey tried to wriggle in her own reasoning to counter Mister Weyburn’s, feeling the need to justify how she felt – her bottom innocent in her eyes, versus that of Ki`rene’s. That earned a lighthearted chortle from the stout man at her side, as immune to pouting as a proper penny-parent was.

Oh-ho, I’m pretty sure she’s going to be wondering what I’ll surprise her with the next time I have the two of you out on the town together! But, that’s my job, not yours’.”, he figured of what worries would form in the back of Ki`rene’s mind when it came down to how he handled bad behavior, but with his feathery dance of syllables did he poke his chest, and then Aubrey’s own, ever so lightly.

Please. Forgive your friend.”, his tone dialed back, cocking his turned head with the note of a heartfelt request – not an order.

Such an act going against all the behaviors and terrible things she had heard all day long, having someone speak kindly of her in grasping that her intentions were not evil lifted Ki`rene’s spirits and the ends of her maw into an expression of surprised joy; watery eyes or not. If you were to look past Mister Weyburn’s eccentric affinity for spanking and public display, he was a lot more like the ‘dad’ he called himself by title when there were often lessons within his words, and meaning to his discipline. There was a healthy dash of parenting to the things he did unless it was just “one of those days”, and he sprung a good unearned swatting upon she and Aubrey while they were out playing in the park, of all places.

For the better ways the rounded, friendly coot could make Ki`rene feel, she did like him more compared to most others who wore the self-proclaimed badge of a ‘spanko’. He allowed her feelings to matter, when everyone else walked on them. It was a very good thing she respected him like that too, when those bright yellow walls of Aubrey’s room would one day be her own, becoming Ki`rene Weyburn in twelve years for her third cycle.

Although he’d perform her ‘welcome spanking’ in the middle of the front yard. Seriously – right on the lawn, so she could “proudly announce” to the whole neighborhood where her new home was.

[I didn’t have to explain everything, and you still-… ! You don’t think I’m lying! You do believe me!]”, all those butterflies tickling Ki`rene’s heart were given an escape through the chittering, brightened growls of Drakonian sentimentality. All the man knew was what she did, and what happened that morning, and he pieced together her reasoning for doing what she did all on his own; all without the vilification and all-too-happy-to-punish attitude when he knew in his gut that she didn’t go rogue, and had tried to be protective of others.

The only reason I have to doubt your intentions is the fact you’re a ‘penny. That isn’t good enough, against what your principal is accused.”, he turned away from his own Penitatas, leveraging his rationale with the expressive lift of a hand. Treating a penny as being untrustworthy was a social norm of the time when their words were meant to not be heeded, but for the gentlemen Weyburn was, it seemed he was more concerned about what Madam Montgomery had said and done – not condoning it, and unafraid to say so.

The exchange made Aubrey scoff, shifting her partly crossed, uneasily squeezed legs, but with the quick wipe of an eye and a fling of some hair out of her face did she sniffle out a sigh.

“… I believe you too, but I’m still upset you pulled anything at all. You just needed to come to class and write your lines, you damn-… !”, she found it in herself to look at Ki`rene again, stepping back from her harder stance only so much before stumbling in her tearfulness, pressing again what had been her last plea before her hard-headed companion ran off on her own.

Come now.”, Mister Weyburn prodded, steering her with a tap on her shoulder.

Sorry.”, she relented, especially knowing a little language was allowed to slip. With a moment’s pause, Aubrey lowered and shook her head.

Dad says our folks will be really careful on Christmas, and to trust him, but I’ve never liked being on the painful end of the things you do. I’ll get over being mad at you… it’s not like I haven’t before, when you’ve gotten me in trouble.”, Aubrey lightened up, trying to share something that wasn’t an overly-passionate display of a rejuve’s younger side; there being a will and a way, and there being means to ensure their eventual doubled day to be safe beneath their winter roofs.

She hated everything Ki`rene did, but… no, she couldn’t hate the goof.

Just… thanks for caring I guess, even if it didn’t work out.”, she at least understood what Ki`rene took upon herself, and as her father said, where the mistake that led to all this came from; not exactly wrong, in any case. So much softer spoken and closer to how Aubrey generally talked as a chatterbox, she still looked so terribly bashful under the openly corrective shames her father implemented – hard to be a “tough girl” with the cool air lapping at her exposed lap, even with her tight-legged modesty intact.

Much better. I like it when the two of you talk. No hard feelings.”, her overseeing father broke into a noble smile in his relief, knowing the pair would remain the pals they were with a little effort.

Ki`rene has a harsh piper to pay as it is. You’d not want to see the paddles reserved for the courthouse.”, he felt fit to duly remind with a more serious and sympathetic tone, wholly aware of what lurked in wait for the drake in his life, knowing that she was arrested today. Aubrey didn’t have to help punish Ki`rene when the world was poised to strike her before a judge, threatening the very length and severity of the sentence she was already serving.

“… When is your time, young lady?”, his attentions returned to Ki`rene in addressing her actions, whom slouched in her lean against her window. Looking ashamed for the place she put herself in, needing his good graces just to help retain her best friend, the poor drake somberly tipped her snout to the faint glow upon the grass below.

[Tomorrow morning. First thing. I’m… going to contest it.]”, her fear, and the tiny spark of her hopeful fight bled through into her slowly uttered snarls. She wasn’t certain if Mister Weyburn would tolerate her not claiming total responsibility and guilt when Rah`veia chewed into her what a slippery slope that would be, but for all of the bare honesty she had given the man, she hadn’t the heart to fib – accepting the stiff, lowered shake of his head that so quickly came in its wake.

I’m not sure what would come of it. The sort of deathly needed punishments those ‘penny judges dole out are meant for those who turn their noses up at their letters, continuing to commit crime no matter what we’re already doing to them. As familiar with your tail as I am, I’ll surely be thinking of it tomorrow.”, came to sound like such a scold, sharing a firm hand’s opinion of those who did terrible things as Penitatas. When it brought Ki`rene to recall the haughty, jeering applause the school staff taunted her with when she was carted away, she couldn’t help but wonder if every soul in her life was going to condemn her in the same manner; meant to get what she “deserves.”

I wish you the best of luck, that it all goes as well as you hope.”, he again surprised her wounded conscience in adding without delay, when Mister Weyburn didn’t lump Ki`rene into the group he described – there being no punitive joy to be had in the dire situation she faced, when her everything was at stake.

When all Ki`rene wanted this whole day was to be understood, being shown some kindness in not being treated like her Gnawing Gracie allowed her stiffened jaw to crack into a tiny smile in the moment. It was thoughtful, and it was surely noticed – Ki`rene wishing she could be that helpful to the smaller people around her, as the little lass that wanted to extend her wings around others.

[… And I swear I’ll be really, really good if ya’ want to have a talk about me being bad later sir!]”, she had the forethought to obediently assure when Mister Weyburn’s quip about springing something on her while they were out on the town sounded like a promise, considering who it came from. She wasn’t the most acceptant of things, preferring to stamp her hind-claws and fuss, but it was the easiest way her tied and scalded tongue could express her gratitude to the soft-cheeked old man as a Penitatas. Aubrey rolled her eyes, already envisioning the scene Ki`rene would make when she conveniently forgot that promise later, in the middle of some crowded place.

I’ll think of something nice for you and Aubrey to do, and we’ll make a day of it!”, Mister Weyburn laughed heartily with his mixed bag of parenting, joining his colorful spanking preference with the thought of helping his girls patch things up – something that made Aubrey look worried, wondering if she’d get caught up in it even if she was on her best behavior.

Such things were inevitable for a penny in hard time, when the same went for the sudden slide of a door and eruption of light into the brooding void of Ki`rene’s room. Perturbed by the sound of voices when their Penitatas was supposed to be preparing to turn down for the evening, Sally chastised Ki`rene for “not being in the right mindset for her situation” while Rah`veia greeted her neighbors in her child’s place; ears tone-deaf to her wife’s lecturing through practice. With a goodnight and a goodbye, Aubrey was helped down from her awkward and prickly perch by the same hands that set her upon it so she could be tucked into bed.

That seemed to be what Ki`rene’s own parents were looking to do as well, swooping in as they did. Her window was closed and the curtain drawn by Rah`veia’s claw, and her bedspread pulled away from its tuck beneath her pillow; that bed made by Ki`rene’s claws every morning as a chore, and a rule. Seeing as how she had been enjoying sharing a few words with a gentle, guiding grown-up, the distracted eight year old felt a bit second-rate to be ushered away from her window, only for it to be closed without her. Claws rubbing together and saurian body at an uneasy posture, having all this bustle going on around her felt strange when she still felt isolated… like it was outside of her bubble, and she was standing there along for the ride.

As hastily as Sally seemed to want her in bed, stressing that “tomorrow was going to be a big day” and that she “needed all the rest she could get”, Ki`rene tried to slow it down in wanting to talk. Same as she had with Mister Weyburn, she asked if Sally and Rah`veia would like to sit down with her and talk for a while… maybe tell her a story – anything to help her not feel as scared as she was, tearing herself up inside now that she knew she was so openly hated by so many. That wasn’t what Sally wanted though, who commanded her into bed with the assurance that she’d sleep just fine with the delta-inducer turned on.

That turned into a protesting scuffle when Ki`rene hated the damn sleep inducer, begging her mothers to please not do such a thing. It was no more than flipping a switch to them, but for her, she would wake up and it’d just suddenly be tomorrow – she wasn’t ready to leap into court! As gruff and irritable as her Karrian mother had been, she tapped at the keys on the controls of Ki`rene’s headboard while Rah`veia took to being slower and calmer, giving reassurances Sally felt their little convict surely didn’t deserve. Brown claws holding those more petite, Rah`veia had Ki`rene under her covers despite her squirm and teary-eyed protest, trying to quell a few fears with her drakeling when Sally’s tightened maw gave way to the final, unannounced stroke of activating the bed’s sleep inducing system.

A maw that snapped looser with a significant flinch, as soon as a hard, heavy bang shuddered the entire headboard of her Penitatas’ bed with a crash.

With a snap of her head, Sally found her wife face first into the crease between the headboard and Ki`rene’s mattress, slumped up against the Penitatas’ side as they both succumbed to the lulling induction of delta-frequency brainwaves. Sally opened her wrinkling muzzle and lifted her claws in the silence that fell; Rah`veia still partly on her feet from her awkward and uncomfortable-looking crumple as such a large creature; but the continued sight before the white scaled woman eventually brought her to growl out a rough sigh.

How many times do I have to tell you to keep your head out of the emitters?”, she chided her slumbering wife when she should have known by now that she’d not warn Ki`rene when she was going to activate it, as difficult a thing as she was. Just steer clear of the headboard when she’s hitting buttons, it’s not that hard!

“… You stay right there until I grab a paddle to wake you up with.”, her Karrian brows curled after a squinting stare at the peaceful display, deciding that a certain girl could use a little lesson to help her remember such fine, cautious details.

Ki`rene didn’t so much as budge for the eventual hissing yipe beside her head, as deeply out as she became.

When the district of Newstat awoke the next morning to a bittersweet date of normalcy for its numerous hard time Penitatas still coping with the reality of their bygone Diaspora, the one non-human among them faced a struggle to which she was ill prepared. The groggy return of her consciousness brought on by the shake of a Karrian claw, she discovered her prior worries were well founded when Sally was already dressed and ready to head to the courthouse, and waking her had been put off until the last minute. With shepherding haste was she corralled into her bathroom to put on a plain black scarf for the occasion and be freshened up, only to be drug by that proverbial leash right outside and into the family hover-car without so much as a nibble for breakfast. It wasn’t like Ki`rene didn’t ask, still wanting everyone to slow down and think of her, but Sally was firm that she couldn’t have a full stomach for Penitatas Court… she’d not want one, for what they were going to do to her.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, god dammit.

Sick and tired of being put down like that, a disempowered Ki`rene ended up walking into the Newstat Courthouse with an annoyed face and nary a sound, just trying to think of what to say in court. There was so much at stake and it wasn’t like anyone was helping her – and surely not, as Ki`rene was placed in a pair of soft children’s cuffs as soon as she was presented to the local law enforcement officials in the lobby for proper intake as an accused, defendant Penitatas. That did not bode well for her nano-web, when it honestly made her want to mewl like a Kindern as that thick, heavy chested feeling of impending pain haunted her worries in the same way a true eight year old girl would feel in her place. It wasn’t the sort of day she could afford to be anything but sharp and mature, and she wasn’t experienced or blessed enough to have the clarity of either; one stripped from her, and the other not something she had when she was no honor student.

Looking far more like a prisoner than usual with her escort of uniforms and parental minders, her melancholic scowl ended up being directed toward the sheen the glossy wood floor with the hang of her head, eyeballing around at the bustle of the place and its corridors; ornate placards beside foreboding doors. She listened to the telltale step of grown Drakonian hindclaw to tell how close her mothers were following behind, focusing on every little thing – including the huff that clearly came from Rah`veia.

[… I look like Rudolph the red-hipped dinosaur thanks to you. Really, on the night we needed to be here?]”, the drake grumbled at a low, rumbling pitch to conceal her voice from the rest of the wide, faintly echoing space. As close to whispering as the Drakonian language could get, it was still enough for Ki`rene to hear and make a face to. You couldn’t really miss the welt-like speckles of a dragon-paddle across her broad, bare hips. Looked like it stung a bit too, the penny gathered from personal experience.

You were the clumsy little drakeling. Not my fault you look like a bad ‘lil girl.”, Sally replied with a wave of a claw and the grin of Karrian teeth, choosing to be cheeky toward her wife’s embarrassed griping over her earned paddling. Walking with her raptor-like arms crossed and a bitter expression across her snout, Rah`veia craned her neck closer to Sally in stride.

[Everyone is staring at the marks!]”, she barked in that low growl, speaking the sounds through her teeth when her partner knew damn well that she had no means of hiding her paddling when it was that fresh, and they were in public. Her eyes caught and followed one onlooker as soon as she turned her head too, catching a young human man raise a brow and smirk bemusedly.

Don’t forget where we live. Everyone here is just admiring my handiwork.”, her authoritative ‘top’ in their matrimonial partnership declared with a smirk ever so similar when the district of Newstat was populated almost exclusively by spanking enthusiasts such as themselves. Of course they’d look – who could blame them when these humans had likely never seen a sore hind-end so glaring in size. Rah`veia chuffed with a sheepish, feminine Drakonian snarl.

[And my ass.]”, she corrected as to what else was being admired, turning to another staring passer-by to startle them with a sharp huff from her nostrils; their sideways stagger continuing to check out her sore hind none the less.

With a few lasting marks of her own, Ki`rene laid eyes upon a door she’d come to be quite familiar with in time, seeing it for her parole hearings later. It was the seemingly ordinary institutional door to Newstat’s one and only Penitatas Courtroom as a budding community, really no different from a door at school in its minimalism versus the courthouse Calleet would build. Before her curiosity of what laid beyond could be sated, the two men leading them followed through with their obligatory security protocols, scanning her mothers with a simple wand while she was lead into a niche beside the door for a mandatory strip search as a defendant Penitatas. In a teenager’s “are you kidding me?” sort of way, she removed her scarf and shrugged, which was apparently all the man needed anyway. She was afraid he’d snap a rubber glove on and make her even more hyper aware of her personal crevices than yesterday had already made her, but realistically speaking, a drake didn’t need to hide a shiv to make someone bleed at any age.

Rah`veia fixed her scarf as they were lead inside the courtroom, doing what Ki`rene’s bound claws could not as they walked; her young eyes fixated on absorbing what came before her, rather than the doting of cloth about her neck. It wasn’t her first time in a courtroom, but it was the first time she had been so small inside such an ominous space, holding to an air of darkened wonder as an eight year old. With walls of white and accents of woody tans, holding to the nostalgic, throwback allure of 26th century architecture and design, a colored brand of the Penitatas Justice Department’s insignia looked over the courtroom from the back wall, forming a civic space that the centuries would not redesign in layout – the judge’s stand tall and center, with two screen-lit podiums before it.

And unlike Kayla’s big day to come, the left side of the room was occupied by a no-frills human woman serving as prosecutor, turning with crossed arms to bear witness to the approach of the accused… something the whole room did, to Ki`rene’s immediate anxiety. Seated on the bench behind her was the unmistakable bob of Parssian ears and the scruffy hair of Mitch the school IT officer, making it clear whom her witnesses were in the evidence to be presented before the judge; a younger looking sort of man that stared down the middle aisle from his lofty perch, having been waiting for his defendant to present herself. Cloaked in a justice’s robe of regal black, the fair skinned human didn’t look the powerful part Ki`rene imagined in her fears, envisioning a sportsman’s broad shoulders and chiseled jowls. His head of vibrant gold hair came to be pulled straight back into a long ponytail, looking more like a science teacher with his silver eyeglasses upon his nose, smiling and looking as aloof as he did. The spectacles were an odd sight when no one normally needed them their day and age.

Well, would you look at that. This must be the most diverse room in all of Newstat. It’s unfortunate that unpleasant matters brought so many of us together like this, otherwise our courtroom would look like a model example of Earth’s inclusive ideals.”, the man came to demonstrate that his vocal tones matched that of his appearance, mixing a dash of intellectual pretension with that of an innocent, progressive quip over the sheer number of non-human races and people gathered before him. Tranquil and thoughtful, Ki`rene couldn’t tell if such a personality would benefit her case as she left the center aisle at the leading officer’s beckon, stepping into the defense’s side of the room.

Since that’s everyone, why don’t we get this going?”, the robed scholar leaned back in his chair, musing aloud before his newcomers could situate themselves. The clerk of the court gave the synthetic wood of the justice’s bench a pat of acknowledgment, lifting a legal sized data-pad.

Alright… Penitatas Court docket sixteen eighty-three; prisoner number twenty-seven ninty-nine oh-eleven, indicted for three counts of destruction of government property by the District of Newstat. Honorable Judge Valence now presiding.”, the clerk went from casual to official in the shift of tones that came with his job, placing such a tension in Ki`rene’s chest as this began to feel all too real; cuffed claws hugged against that weary pain as her step stopped behind the defense’s podium to stare on, when the man so clearly began doing the same to her.

As she is an active hard time Penitatas, please see that your inmate is quiet and ‘taken care of’ during the presentation of charges and the articles of evidence, by the ways and means of this court and its purpose.”, his focus soon shifted to Sally and Rah`veia in tow, providing necessary direction that Ki`rene’s brows curled to in her lack of understanding.

[That means you belong right here, Ki`rene.]”, Rah`veia spoke up after a moment of the confused child standing there motionless, bringing the stiffened curl of Ki`rene’s neck toward her just in time to see her finish settling down onto her tail; the thick thing bumping the lip of the bench Sally sat herself down upon. The position so known to Ki`rene, along with the look across her mother’s face; snout tip motioning toward the lap she made; the penny turned meek in finding herself so unexpectedly between a rock and a hard place, with an audience. Of course the “ways and means” of this particular court involved her corporal punishment.

[But!… I’m supposed to be fighting th-… !]”, she briskly tried to argue when her focus was very much elsewhere, like stopping such a fate, but that was promptly ceased by a white muzzle that knew she would.

You can speak when it’s your turn. They go first.”, Sally abruptly assured, with bite.

[And you’re still a Penitatas. One that was bad, and put herself here.]”, Rah`veia nodded in agreement of how this was intended to work, duly reminding that Ki`rene was a hard timer in this situation, no matter her intention to contest her charges. The lifestyle of punitive measures she lived within never took a backseat, and especially not here, at the heart of it all. She’d be chewed just for her silver ‘P’s here, regardless of what was decided.

Ki`rene was too afraid to make a scene, needing to make a good first impression. With a dart of her eyes, seeing everyone behind the prosecution’s bench watching; Madam Montgomery looking satisfied with her blood full of morning coffee and vengeful glee; the punished drakeling allowed herself to become more-so, slinking between Rah`veia’s legs to be pinned into the traditional tail chewing position. While “the adults” did their labors and set their work into motion against her, starting the trial that would impact her very existence to come, it was their intention that she lay there over her mother’s leg and quietly cry when that slow, nipping gnaw of her under-tail was equal to a constant message-sending slap of a mother’s hand upon a human’s bottom. A proper place for a Penitatas beneath the seal of their court, when her guilt here had no relevance to the fact she still had things to sob for.

With little judicial fanfare, the staunchly laconic prosecutor pressed Newstat’s criminal charges and built her case with droning monotony, presenting what was collected by the Newstat Police. She painted Ki`rene as the unquestionable culprit with it all, and what was her own admission of such guilt before the witnesses she had gathered in the courtroom today. The sounds that softly erupted from Ki`rene’s throat from time to time during it all were gentle and feminine, reptile or not as she wept in her tepid, slow-drip of a tail chewing, trying to pay attention despite her pitiful lament; a step behind and so underfoot, when a penny was not allowed to stand upon the same level ground as others.

Mitch the IT officer came to be summoned off the bench first, once the physical evidence imagery was cleared off their podium screens. In his obvious annoyance with needing to be in court, he slipped in notes of cynicism in recounting the story of a sole Drakonian Penitatas who turned destructive without notice when he tried to communicate with her. Ki`rene couldn’t exactly argue against any of it – she did surely batter those machines, as her well-clubbed neck and shoulders could attest. It wasn’t until Madam Montgomery traded places with him, standing in yet another still-too-tight blouse with her self-importance held high, did the sniveling Penitatas toothily sneer with her seeping eyes; meeting gazes with the rabbit’s astute, reveling leer, as the prosecutor introduced her to the court.

So, you oversee our community’s elementary school, and our ‘penny population, hmm? You’re our right hand, and you sure look to be a firm one.”, Judge Valence leaned over the display of his bench in finally getting a moment to speak between the prosecution’s molding of their case, commenting of Madam Montgomery’s formidable figure and intimidating dress; rigid as the disciplinary implements she must have routinely swung. The cheeky glance she shared with Ki`rene turned up to the young, long haired justice, shifting into a confident, fang-laden smile.

I try to be a proper headmistress, in the department’s name.”, the hare replied with a splay of fingers upon her bosom, ears taking a rearward, weighty dip in her prideful motion. It was the reality of being the principal of a Penitatas district’s elementary school for rejuvenated individuals – her place as an administrator making her a functional limb of the Penitatas Justice Department by proxy, in administering the structure they so demanded.

For the purposes of the district’s case against Ki`rene Ulrich, would you be able to testify as to what transpired after you arrived on that field Mitchel West described?”, the prosecutor at her side asked directly, as the human of concise words seemed to prefer.

Of course.”, Montgomery assured.

I came as soon as I was called. The first thing I had the displeasure of seeing was that your defendant had hurt herself in her blind, violent rage. Not that she cared, since screaming profanity at me was her response to my desire to obtain medical treatment for her. She declared her malice against me as being her reasons, and any member of my staff could attest to her hateful, shouting little growls.”, did her pitches and tempos dance gratingly, same as if she was taking more false sympathies in her one-sided rendition of the facts. Purely a fur-ball thing to do, sounding so sharp and proper even while being a cocky hard-ass.

Getting the base of her tail treated like a piece of gum that should have been discarded quite some time ago, Ki`rene had to hold in a powerful, hellacious shout that wanted to come out even before the liar finished her tainted words. As her eyes gnashed shut in her anger, forcing the accumulated pools on her eyelids down the damp trails of her brown scale, hiccuping in her frustrated sob, the judge hummed in his own little world; that courtroom spinning without her, experiencing intensely raw scale and the humidity of Rah`veia’s maw.

Our ‘penny did this out of spite then? She verbalized that to you?”, Valence lifted a blonde brow, stiffening it in how seriously he questioned those apparent facts for assured accuracy. Having described the scene as Ki`rene being nothing more than a despicable Penitatas, leaving out any and all forms of context through purposeful omission, Montgomery made a silent chuckle of air leave her hare-like nose.

Correct.”, she egotistically affirmed as her sworn testimony, pushing her narrative with the authority she carried about herself.

Your honor.”, those Parssian ears took a swing, openly gesturing with a clawed paw once she caught herself. She had to be polite and subservient, and not just bark things as she typically would elsewhere.

A tiny, nearly inaudible growl brought Sally to turn her head back toward her Penitatas and wife, finding Ki`rene staring intensely despite what had to have been a fairly grating chewing by then; long since red, and nerves howling. Claws clenched to the point they shook, crying all to herself, the flaying the rabbit was getting from the drakeling’s eyes told the Karrian a lot… turning back to the tall, furred woman with a distrustful glower.

All of this after already acting out of line, mind you. We had someone vandalize a statue at the school, and she didn’t appreciate all of the possible suspects getting what they earned as Penitatas. She chose to be willfully insubordinate in front of her peers, and verbally accost me in front of the lot.”, her once gesturing paw returned in the crossing of her arms beneath her cotton-choked breasts, taking charge of her moment to speak by adding her own bits and pieces of information with a tone of remnant distaste.

Ki`rene has yet to have her turn in my office, by the way, for that vandalism incident. With her actions that followed, she’s prime suspect material – and then some. Her punishment will reflect the likelihood of that guilt.”, she spoke aloud to the judge in a way that made it sound like a threatening promise of things to come, looking back over to the defense’s side to acknowledge the ocular stabbing she was getting from the weepy little penny across the aisle. Clearly a personal jab at the Penitatas she once told was obviously innocent of that, flexing in showing just how easily such things can be changed.

She’s certainly a known vandal, with the record to prove it.”, the judge sat up from the informal slouch he had upon his bench, quipping over Ki`rene’s teenage criminal history he had sprawled across the screen beneath his fingers.

If the shoe fits.”, Madam Montgomery curled her prudish smile.

That time, Rah`veia felt the muscles throughout Ki`rene’s tail firm up as they went taut; the eight year old whimpering more audibly in her rile.

Very good then. Unless you have anything else to add, I do believe the burden of proof has been satisfied.”, the prosecutor decided to cut in and interject for the sake of judicial practicality, when her case had been solidified to the point that nothing further would be necessary. Irrefutable physical forensics and eyewitness testimony assured that Ki`rene did exactly as she had been accused, and as they said, the rest spoke for itself.

That will be all.”, the Parssia happily agreed, though Mitch made a grumpy face. As witness to the crime itself, he had to be up at that podium a lot longer.

The Prosecution rests, your honor.”, she returned her attention to the justice’s bench, whom nodded his head and gave his glasses a correction with the push of a few fingers.

I suppose it’s time for someone else to have a rest as well. Ki`rene, little lady, you have some explaining to do.”, the tip of his forehead finally came to bear on the right side of the room, looking over the unoccupied defense’s podium to those who laid just beyond.

While Madam Montgomery stepped back and took her seat back upon the right side’s bench, prosecution remaining at the ready, Rah`veia looked over Ki`rene’s haunch and took that as a cue to cease her chewing and grant the floor to her Penitatas. Withdrawing her snout left a deeply reddened and mottled wrinkle of disciplined, personal scale in its wake, shimmering with saliva, and though the young penny was released rather promptly from the restraining pin of her parent’s legs, Ki`rene didn’t slip back onto her own hind-claws without a tantrum-like fuss. The after-sting of such a long tail chewing hit her prompt and hard, and in her handcuffs, there wasn’t anything she could do to reach back and rub it, leaving her stamping and squirming until the feeling of a much larger claw suddenly appeared. Brisk and firm, Rah`veia massaged the bottom side of her tail’s base, catching it before Ki`rene could slip away. Immediately relieving and not feeling like a tease, it eased Ki`rene’s dance with a curl of her neck back toward her shoulder.

[I know you need to speak.]”, the much larger raptor reassured, using those low, rumbling tones of reptilian whisper. Her gift of support, when such gestures didn’t often come to a hard time Penitatas. Sally didn’t bat an eye to the blatant comfort measure either when the stern, tough lizard still wanted the girl she decried as a brat to be able to address the court as she wanted. It was only right.

The distraction of a good rub interrupting the flow of Ki`rene’s inner anger, it did let her breathe for a moment. She closed her eyes and tried to find the twenty-one year old inside of her, tucked into the fog of her nano-web, but a hesitant lift of her tear-trailed snout toward the judge’s stand had that smart-looking man looking down at her with this human expression of firm, pressing bewilderment. Like someone simply on the outside of her punitive life looking in, his face made him look so baffled as to how she could have done such a thing. ‘Why?’, it stumbled over, piecing apart her demeanor as she stood there faltering in her innumerable discomforts.

You single-handedly canceled the Special Punishment Day of Diaspora in Newstat… something I’m sure no one thought was possible, not expecting a Drakonian Penitatas to go so far off the deep end. In an assault on this institution, you disrespected your superiors en mass, in an affront to reason. You were already paying such a hard price for your destructive nature against society, and yet here you are, doing the same to our community.”, his eloquence put to words his confused, almost fatherly sort of disappointment in describing how it all looked from his perspective above the courtroom.

Have you any decency? What do you even have to say for yourself?”, his tones steered well clear of the agitated, speaking so thoughtfully… though that didn’t stop Ki`rene from squirming, wringing her cuffed claws from his laundry list of condemnations. Not wanting to fear the pony-tailed man even if he sounded offended by what he saw to be her rebellion, the nervous and disciplined Penitatas eased forward from her mothers, keeping her eyes upon Judge Valence.

[… I’ve only been so quiet, because I was told to be. I ‘wanna do this right. It was hard shutting my mouth up while having to listen to some of what was just said, but I did it for that ‘decency’.]”, Ki`rene pushed her tearful sounds as deep into her tired throat as they could go, straining her hissing snarls in her attempts to sound heartfelt – so gentle, and outwardly obedient before the court as she sniffed and wiped at her scales with such difficulty from the cuffs she wore. With a lump in her chest that extended to her toes upon the carpet, her tiny steps brought her saurian slink around the side of the defense’s podium, opting to address the judge in the open.

[The only thing I heard that I agree with, was that I broke those booths you guys use. I… don’t really know how this works, or how to explain it the way I need, but I want to say that I’m not guilty of what I’m being charged with.]”, her repressed anger reformed itself as a will to fight, clumsily trying to declare her innocence against Montgomery’s testimony. It was so hard to think when her nano-web repressed her older self and urged her eyes to stay wet, but though her words were small and child-like, they still seemed to convey her message as the judge lifted a blonde brow and the prosecutor scoffed with her own befuddled disbelief.

I put you at the scene, and you just admitted that you did as accused. How are you going to form a defense?”, the woman in her periphery took to being blunt, unable to imagine Ki`rene’s thought process behind uttering such a conflicting statement. Judge Valence was right on board, taking to a displeased crook of his mouth.

Little lady, that doesn’t make a lick of sense. You did it, but you didn’t? Against the evidence, you’d flaunt such a behavior – here, of all places?”, the justice of the Penitatas Court pressed more sharply than he did initially, scolding the childish formulation of such a selfish notion. Already knowing it would sound bad from her mother’s prior warnings, Ki`rene shook her head and shoved her stiff fetters aside, assuring herself deep down that their tones and glares could be countered.

[It’s because someone else lied to you by leaving out two-thirds of the story.]”, Ki`rene’s snout curled with a swing of her neck, directing the statement right at the person she took a suddenly harder tone with, leaving no question as to whom she had been referring to once she locked right on Madam Montgomery’s face. The drake shared a familiar sneer with her bubbly Parssian facade, looking rather comfortable on the prosecutor’s witness bench with her legs crossed; fluffy, large footpaw making a casual bob, despite looking so formal in her tight little skirt.

In front of her, the darkly dressed woman standing at her podium snapped right to attention even if Montgomery herself didn’t budge an inch, leaving her weighty ears motionless in contentment.

Accusing someone of lying in a court of law is very serious, ‘penny.”, the prosecutor unexpectedly let fly with emphasis, using her “to the point” nature to get across the significance of making such claims. Coming off like a lecture, hearing it brought Montgomery to perk with amusement in a nod to her authoritative fellow woman.

Would you really try going there? In front of this many, red-tail?”, the long-eared hare tipped her head to the side to give Ki`rene a look with, lacing her question with a taunt over the blatant appearance of her tail-base’s underside.

When Ki`rene couldn’t care less what Newstat Elementary’s bullshit-artist and rage-rabbit had to say about anything, the drakeling gave her a forceful huff of air through her nostrils as a reptilian ‘fuck you’ before swinging her neck right back toward the judge’s bench. He seemed curious, as astute as he appeared, and sank backwards in his chair as if he had thrown a leg up over his other knee, crossing his arms to leave his pony-tail dangling.

Let’s hear it little lady, but be warned… you’re already in a lot of trouble, just being here. Don’t make it worse. The damage you did warrants explanation, so please.”, he took to similar harder words, but even then, they still broke down and trailed off into something that just wanted to pick her apart and make sense of the senseless.

On a different day, and in a different place, such a thing would have made Ki`rene smile with every pointed saurian tooth-tip gleaming. When his words were true, and she had so much on the line, getting an honest opportunity and attentive ear made the eight year old take two rushed steps forward, throwing her cuffed claws to her chest to capitalize as immediately and hard as her mouth would let her, launching right into the declaration she had been trying to imagine making all morning.

[No one broke the statue at school, and Madam Montgomery wasn’t having any of it when I tried to convince her, because she wanted to punish us all! She said she’d wait until after we were whipped by the Diaspora booths, because breaking our blisters open would be a treat!]”, she let her snout’s scales furl and her teeth to catch the overhead lights of the bright courtroom as she cast out with her personal conviction, putting her all into righting a wrong, and dispelling a false image – exactly the same as she told her mothers without missing a beat in the seconds she gave herself to put it all out there.

[She tried to take advantage of Diaspora, and hurt us for her own amusement.]”, those claws lowered from her breastbone in a downward thrust, slowing her speech down to be firm and serious with those brilliant yellow eyes of hers’ upon the young justice’s own; just she and him, as if the others weren’t there with the way she could pull her will together to be more than just a little mind with a nanite-lattice.

And, from it, there was hardly a moment’s pause for a breath.

Really now?”, came from Judge Valence’s mouth, a step darker and quieter than he had been speaking as his eyes left Ki`rene’s figure in a glance toward the prosecution’s bench. Not wanting to even know what sort of look he and Madam Montgomery were sharing, fighting to keep entirely focused, the Penitatas’ claws squeezed in their gnash together, refusing to take her attentions off of him in the sort of motionless silence that befell the room.

[… Doing what I did, I was just… saying ‘no’. I didn’t know what else to do. There was no one for me to go to, when she was at the top. To tell them something bad was happening. Something wrong.]”, Ki`rene took the moment that she had the floor to speak aloud her actual intentions, bringing her tone of voice down to that of a young drake girl’s in breaking off from the forceful growls she had been using… so much softer, and almost reeling from having taken this leap that she had. While brash, surely, she wanted them all to know what little recourse she felt she had if she was to stand up for what was right.

A ‘tch!’ of all too familiar pitch made Ki`rene faintly flinch; an unseen twitch of her fingers, hidden against her from the handcuffs she was in. Without turning her head all the way, she tried to look over her shoulder; a far more irritated looking Parssia left upon the bench when she did dare to tell the missing pieces of the story as accurately as she did… and likely better than Montgomery expected too, holding her to such little regard.

As if anyone in the Penitatas Justice Department would ever buy some half-baked excuse for violating our rule of law! Your lippy, snarky, foul little tongue has gone way too far, digging a disrespectful hole such as that.”, the hare exploded into a flurry of the sharp, absolutely lambasting words she was so known for, using it as an incredibly harsh retort. Taking it with clear agitation and offense, her once cozy footpaw had returned to the ground when there was a mouthy penny needing correction – one that snapped her snout right toward her without fear.

[I know it sounds crazy and stupid!]”, Ki`rene first called aloud in Madam Montgomery’s direction before swinging her nose back up to Judge Valence, knowing damn well that only his views mattered. Her hind-claws staggered a little as she couldn’t stand still in one place, taking a big breath before leaping right back into giving the man in his regal robes every bit of her she could.

[I know I was bad. Breaking things to solve problems isn’t right, and I’m not going to bother arguing that in front of you – but I’m telling the truth! These charges… she started-… instigated this whole mess, and I didn’t mean for anything to turn out like this! I just didn’t know how else… !]”, she tried so hard to simply level with Judge Valence and plead her case, re-using her mother’s scold in admitting she was right, but having to defend her words against Madam Montgomery so suddenly made her trip up; be it her nano-web, or just her emotions, in trying to be something bigger than eight years old. Floundering to be maturely worded made her sound younger than she would have liked, akin to a kid trying to explain why they came home from playing late, but be it by good grace or the lack of his patience for it, Judge Valence lifted an open hand and put a stop to it.

That’s enough prancing about the subject of bad-mouthing those above you, little drake. The Penitatas Court will never accept behavior unbecoming of the rules and life a Penitatas abides by, and your slander amounts to something you’d get in trouble for at home. It’s your word against hers. Who do you think would win?”, the man that had been so oddly open-handed suddenly clamped it into a fist, delivering a verbal spanking that Ki`rene didn’t expect as he took to the sort of punishing words that a justice of the Penitatas Court surely had in their repertoire. Penitatas were treated as Penitatas within these walls, hence the tail-chewing she got all throughout the first half… needing to be respectful and observant of her title-wearing superiors was still a requirement.

Ki`rene stumbled both her body and mouth to a halt, clenching her teeth as she tried to not look as rattled as she actually was. The sharp man’s quick language wasn’t something she had the capacity to fight against, and the look that went with it was intimidating; glasses and fun, long pony-tail or not.

[Fine then. Okay sir.]”, her young voice uttered airily after a pause, having audibly sounded like she took a blow from it; far softer and calmer, as if forcing her throat to snarl in the manners which he’d better appreciate coming from a Penitatas. She was no social mastermind, but she had a will – and a way.

[She mentioned the courtyard incident with her own words, right? There was a ton of us in that courtyard! Just ask Aubrey Weyburn, she’ll tell you the same exact thing! ‘Treat’!]”, started off so gently in bringing the man’s memory back to all the extra information Montgomery let slip before her young whims got the better of her and she hopped a little off her saurian toes, capitalizing upon using what she said if Valence was inclined to believe the prideful administrator over her. While she thought it was crafty to make note of so many additional witnesses; ones Madam Montgomery even suggested to exist; Ki`rene right away had the judge changing positions in his chair, leaning over the tall podium of wooden walls.

The word of a Penitatas is considered proven unworthy of trust, having lived a dishonest and deceitful life. I’d not accept witness testimony from another inmate you abruptly name-drop, child.”, Valence’s demeanor remained where it shifted to, pressing the values of earned penance and merit the Penitatas Court of the time operated upon, shutting Ki`rene’s attempt to prove her principal’s hidden misdoings down before it ever had a chance to start.

And I’d never sit quietly and listen to Penitatas speak in such ways.”, Madam Montgomery barked from her seat, rolling her tones with a flick of her right claw in agreement as Ki`rene stiffened up, clutching her cuffed claws uneasily in the race of her mind to come up with something more.

Though before anything else could be said, Judge Valence’s robed arm slid across the polymer-glass of his bench’s display, bringing his hand to his chin.

That being said, if I were to randomly select a few students that were known to be present in that courtyard from your disciplinary records yesterday, Miss Montgomery, would they corroborate Ki`rene’s story, or yours, if our defendant hadn’t personally chose them and potentially groomed their answers?”, Valence’s voice hardly left the firmer notes it was hitting in so quickly demonstrating that he in fact could question such things in his courtroom, in Ki`rene’s stead – and absolutely would, in his inquisitive prodding of the events for his own clarity.

That brought Ki`rene’s eyes back up to him with a look of shock while Montgomery blinked, taken aback behind the prosecutor. There was a distinct droop of her long ears toward the back of the bench in the weakening of their muscles, though those in her cheeks went taut enough to uneasily bare her fangs. A rather noticeable pause brought a weight to the room, and in those few seconds, the turn of heads.

I… ”, Madam Montgomery faltered, trying to maintain her typical means of speaking, but there were no words of proper response to follow. Shooting her crimson eyes toward her shoulder, she found Sally and Rah`veia staring from the other bench with scowls across their particular scaled faces, and in trying to focus back upon the judge, she discovered even the prosecutor standing in front of her to be waiting for an answer. Not one to tolerate the expectations of others, no matter their age or place, the Parssia responded with an unnerved sort of agitation.

How am I on trial? I’m a witness here! Could we please move on?”, the firm hand of Newstat Elementary lifted a claw and urged with the more commanding sort of voice that she used throughout her school’s hallways, wanting the trial to return to where it deservedly belonged – her decisions and doings being of no part.

Your ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response determines whether or not you’ll be committing perjury. You are on trial, if you think of it that way.”, she was given a taste of the prosecutor’s own brand of bluntness in the clashing of authority she was attempting to perpetuate.

Short muzzle curling awkwardly, a few more teeth came to be bared from Madam Montgomery… all the sudden coming to look as disarmed as she did when Ki`rene laid down her own law, covered in blood upon a field of grass. That sudden feeling of being overpowered and without a leg to stand on, the master of rules and correction sat corrected. Surrounded by so many eyes and with no explanations she’d like to give when she knew damn well what she said and wholly planned to do, the Parssia visibly drooped against the bench, losing her flavors of confidence through the theft of her grin.

Humming, and with hesitant sounds, did the pinned hare timidly sing.

“… There may have been some misunderstood… ”, the silence of the courtroom was broken by her weakened, weighted voice, in trying to respond honestly for her own sake.

“… Choice words, that I may have used.”, her eyes closed a bit in the dip and turn of her head as she admitted to Ki`rene’s allegations without divulging too much; something that elated the drake with relief on the inside, though the rest of her was still too tense to follow. When faced with perjury, the Mistress of Fur was a law abiding disciplinarian, and would answer to those who were not Penitatas, if she was so shamefully forced.

I had a feeling my ‘penny wasn’t lying about that. Real smooth!”, Sally’s back came off her own bench, throwing a white claw up with a sharp and particularly damming rejection – one that snapped Madam Montgomery’s ears and eyes right back up, turned across the aisle with a jeering Parssian snout.

Don’t blow it out of proportion! I didn’t make her trash the district’s machines!”, the hare was clearly shaken to the point of agitation through the expressiveness of her body, leaving her firm-and-proper shtick to the wayside with the open gesture of both her arms in Ki`rene’s direction in her readiness to argue with the drakeling’s own heavy-handed feminine figure.

With the missing facts added in Ki`rene’s favor, the upturned Newstat courtroom had Judge Valence seemingly seated on the edge of his chair, leaning forward so far as to get as close to his trial as he could. In his lean, his long pony-tail fell toward his shoulder, expression stern and serious behind his glasses.

Oh, but you sure didn’t help. I’m… perturbed, to not hear you be able to deny Ki`rene’s allegations. I’m well aware of what we all like and enjoy, but that isn’t something you utter to the likes of your students. We discipline Penitatas when we aren’t sure if they’ve committed an infraction in order to keep them from sneaking things by us, all as part of their continued, regular corporal punishment. We spank them when they’ve done nothing else wrong all the time, to pay their dues as they live as small children. The timing of your decision to use that authority is suspicious, questionable, and does not bode well with me. You aren’t intended to be a part of Diaspora’s festivity, and yet you injected yourself – as you so admitted, having indeed punished those Penitatas, despite Ki`rene fouling the severity of that plan.”, Judge Valence delivered his insight in the form of a disdainful lecture toward a subordinate, looking at the heart of the matter from a higher place in the justice department. To so publicly take such matters into her own claws for the reasons suggested was inappropriate, to say the very least.

Crossing her arms defensively, Montgomery’s heavy ears took an upward bounce as they lifted with her desire to enforce her will. Stiffened, yet cross, the Parssia spoke up against her dressing down.

I was doing my job, handling that vandalism. It’s my duty to keep them in line, and the day of the year has no bearing on that.”, she alluded to her beliefs and strict foundation as the Mistress of Fur, as if she was chiding a Penitatas.

And if we’re using one another’s words like that, then as you said, I am a firm hand. Always.”, her wrinkling little muzzle slapped on top like a cherry in her boundless hubris as a figure of control.

“… ‘Treat’?”, Valence questioned with but a single word, disrupting the confidence Madam Montgomery had clawed back. When her words could only clear her actions so far against the sorts of things she yelled aloud during Ki`rene’s attempts to stop her, the Parssia’s face melted to one of guilt, and her eyes broke contact with the judge’s.

“… Precisely, Miss.”, he drove home with a justice’s grace, seeing her realize that she had tumbled from her high horse.

From her place a few steps ahead of the defense’s podium, looking to and fro from the judge to her principal, Ki`rene had wrung her claws with antsy fetters throughout the exchange. Sounding so austere only to have the Parssia’s mouth uncharacteristically silenced, the hopeful Penitatas stepped gingerly into the open space of the courtroom’s center when it seemed the pair had stopped. With an anxious curl to her back and an unsteadiness of tail, she held her claws to her scarf and raised her head to finish what she started here – that which went beyond simply blowing the whistle the Mistress of Fur’s attempt at self-serving cruelty.

[This is what I had to fight against. The courtyard argument happened because I thought it was wrong too… and I felt too strongly to sit by and do nothing. The looks on everyone’s faces. Being scared – feeling hopeless. None of them needed someone to rip their skin and injure them because it’s… fun.]”, Ki`rene took what Valence had discovered and so similarly decried it as being inexcusable, trying to shed some light on why she did something that looked so horrible without context. Calm and soft, she eased her growling little hisses in the way she had been training her throat in simply wanting to convey the bigger goals which she held, and the positive intents she had.

Them? As in your classmates – the other hard timers?”, Judge Valence’s tone of voice eased significantly, coming back to the volume she heard earlier in the return of his attentions.

[Yes sir. I knew I was going to get into trouble… I did it all to protect my softer skinned friends and fellows.]”, the young drakeling’s fingers curled, just as her snout tried to smile in its dulled, timid way in the middle of that courtroom. But, it didn’t last, melting with the tension in her chest, and a dire light behind her eyes.

[This is why I’m going to be begging you for forgiveness, your honor. I thought I was just going to be in hot water with my mothers, and Madam Montgomery. An… ‘innocent nothing’ that they’d get over after I’d been punished enough, and I’d be able to save everyone from getting hurt… taking it in their place, you know?]”, she lightened away from trying to be as wordy as everyone else, pulling the meaning of her actions from her very spirit as the scarf-wearing girl that wanted to make friends and shelter them; a splash of sunshine that tried to be selfless, only to falter into realms unseen, and a trap unfathomable.

[I didn’t know I’d be arrested. I didn’t know I’d double everyone’s next ‘special’ day.]”, Ki`rene uttered with such regret, sounding her physical age in the way she nearly whispered it.

[Please… I apologize. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen, and I’m so stupidly sorry for how it turned out. I didn’t do it out of malice, like you were told… it hurts me a lot, for my having done what I did. I was upset and angry, but not for me and my own sake. I wanted to do something good, and… this all become one big, awful mistake. I was trying to be a bigger persondo something right.]”, she defended her guilt with the intents she held dear.

[I beg of you… please – please don’t punish me for trying.]”, Ki`rene pleaded like an eight year old, scrounging for that spark of a rejuvenated person’s piece of something bigger in her fight for what was right – and her sake, in turn.

[I’d never do anything like this ever again. If I could be forgiven and go home… ]”, her slow, pained little girlish snarls prattled on into making promises with the mess of emotions going through her mind, but with her reasons and purposes for her misdoings spread before the court, Judge Valence merely nodded his head before she rushed herself into anything further; obviously desperate.

You can stop, Ki`rene. You were a little lady on a mission, just as I am a Justice of the Penitatas Court, ready to render a verdict before his community and peers.”, he took to a voice of ease in wanting her to calm down, using that mind behind his glasses to do so in the way he carried himself as a figure of Newstat. Breaking off the shrunken figure of brown scale and black scarf, his brows furled with a dirty look over Ki`rene’s left shoulder, and the prosecution’s side of the room.

And that verdict begins with you, Miss Montgomery, our purported headmistress.”, he announced with official declaration, adding bite to his syllables that Ki`rene got to see ruffle the Parrsia’s fur as soon as she turned her head. The pretentious woman was caught off guard so unexpectedly, she looked like a Penitatas that had suddenly been caught with her claw in the cookie jar; wide-eyed when her name and ‘verdict’ belonged no where near one another in a sentence.

Madam, as you seem to like being called… I hereby find you derelict of common sense, in light of what you allowed to slip yesterday morning while representing the Department of Corrections. If your duty is to keep our inmates in line, then do us all a favor and not throw stones at the wasp’s nest. It’s neither smart, nor helpful, to not know when to ‘pull a punch’, as it were. Maybe try to not literally flay the lot of them next time, and especially don’t say so out loud.”, Valence tore into her with the adroit pirouette of his vocal mannerisms, reprimanding the Mistress of Fur in a way that she neither liked, nor knew how to handle as her snout curled.

It makes you look incompetent.”, he added without holding back in his own administration of discipline, reminding Montgomery what it felt like to be spoken to that way when no one else around her ever dared.

The experienced applicator of rule squeezed her own polished claws upon her forearms, visibly boiling from the indignation of having been cut down – especially in front of an errant penny who had been undermining her to begin with. She’d prefer the degree of height and control that made her immune to it; a true dominant at heart; and she’d keep it that way.

“… Duly noted.”, she grumbled harshly, stripping the pretense from her language – not even feigning to call him by any titles in dismissing his scold, with the inner reassurance that she’d never allow such a misstep to put her in this place again.

Shaken and bothered, keeping her arms crossed, Montgomery sat in nervous embarrassment as Ki`rene found Valence looking back down upon her from the glossy wooden lip of his bench, centered in front of the colorful emblem of the Penitatas Justice Department he spoke for.

As for you, our Penitatas… ”, he shifted back to speaking lighter, perking Ki`rene up with some prickly anticipation.

Ki`rene. I hereby find you guilty on all three counts of destruction of government property. You have-… ”, Judge Valence had began the same way as he had been all along, though the abrupt passing of such judgment brought Ki`rene’s breath to stumble along with every muscle in her arms and hind-legs; maw coming agape for a split second without even a squeak of a gasp in the extreme blow it caused.

[No! What – how?!]”, the Penitatas’ slit pupils narrowed with the wounded contortion of her snout, snarling out heavily in her astound dismay. Immediately her body spun in the stagger of her hind-claws, throwing both of her arms up so she could try and point toward Madam Montgomery when her wrists were bound together.

[That’s all she gets?! You’re not going to do anything about what she tried to do, but I’m guilty?!]”, the scalpel of Ki`rene’s yellow glare remained over the judge’s bench, leaning upon all that fire she carried when facing down something wrong. Thrown from one fight and into another, she knew injustice when she heard it – the Mistress of Fur getting nothing more than a slap on the wrist while she took a fall from a cliff; the raptoress growling between her reptilian syllables of forceful hissing, so furious and rejecting.

Do not interrupt the judge!”, the clerk of the court came forward like a whip at the Penitatas that would disrupt the courtroom out of turn, and out of process.

[So much for holding your tongue… ]”, Rah`veia’s snout sank into her claws with a shake of her head, mumbling to herself; Sally giving her an eye before returning it to her Penitatas in the stiff way she sat.

Though Ki`rene’s hind-claws danced about with the swing of her neck, matching whatever looks of distaste anyone cared to throw her way when it was her scales on the line – her very testimony and reasoning for them all being here being callously dismissed – it was a more studious, pressing voice that brought the clamber that befell to still itself.

Little… lady.”, Valence’s careful nuances drilled in the slower, heavier ways that he showed Madam Montgomery, bringing everyone’s attentions back to whom truly held the floor.

As the principal of Newstat Elementary and a pillar of your punitive rehabilitation, she had every right to do as she did, regardless of how it was phrased or how you felt about it. She violated no laws. She didn’t even break a rule. Her only mistake was in her overzealous eagerness to perform the duties Newstat has entrusted her with; intentionally mind you; to facilitate such frequent and heavy correction.”, he urged his justifications through his intellectual reasoning, reminding the hard time Penitatas staring him down that her school principal was meant to be that incredibly strict to she and her peers as an unapologetic fact.

While I don’t agree with what she attempted to do yesterday in side-stepping what the Department of Justice formulated to be your Diaspora activities, taking it a step too far for reasons she never should have said, that is something I and those above you can say – not you. You acted wildly out of bounds the moment you so much as vocalized your insubordination to her. A Penitatas never had the right to act against the discipline she sought to enact for the reasons of the possible vandalism, which invalidated what you presented as a defense for your crimes, Miss… Ulrich, I do believe you are called at the moment.”, Valence laid bare across the court the entirety of his decision’s basis as the Penitatas Justice Department’s front-line harbinger of law, wrapping his boundless eloquence up in a highbrow bow. Not that Ki`rene could stand particularly still while having to listen to it all, deeply sneering at the suggestion that she wasn’t permitted to so much as have an opinion over what amounted to being blatantly injured and abused.

[There has to be something meant to protect us from people that take things too far! It’s not right to ignore everything I just told you when I was pouring crap out of my heart like that! She was wrong to want to hurt us for the goddamn fun of it!]”, she held her ground with conviction, still using her arms in expressive, human-like thrusts even with her wrists cuffed together, flicking the ends of her scarf about in her motions. The very mindset surrounding her silver ‘P’s had Judge Valence darken his expression when he didn’t appreciate being jeered at by some rowdy Penitatas acting like her single-digit age.

In the guidelines set by the Penitatas Justice Department from its very inception, it’s mandated that the ‘parents’ of a Penitatas be active, law abiding members of the ‘spanko’ community. They roleplay their place as your disciplinary minders because they enjoy doing so, and have the knowledge and desire to keep you as deservedly sore as possible. So, while that mandate does not extend to administrative personnel, it’s a fact that the majority of us are ‘spankos’ as well, at the helm of this ship. She is wholly permitted to like her job, and it serves your discipline as such.”, he outlined as the very core of the justice department’s values and those meant to deliver her the painful imprisonment of perpetual childhood that characterized ‘hard time’.

And, in becoming a Penitatas, you’ve proven your obviously conflicted morals as being out of line from our culture’s. Who are you to dictate right or wrong, to law abiding people?”, the scholarly young judge took to more of a retort against Ki`rene’s attitude, judicially scolding his now twice-convict with the accepted mantra of the time.

Ki`rene scoffed uneasily in her emotional rile, trying so hard not to tremble as the sole Penitatas surrounded by suits, uniforms, and discipline-providing adults. It was normal and expected for a penny, even the soft timers, to be treated as second class compared to everyone else… bumped to the back of lines, relinquishing turns in games, or just being plain not allowed to do the things that all others could. They were criminals who were kids for bad reasons, so why not? But to always be so constantly told she had no merit – not even the right to speak her mind, all because she was a “bad penny” meant to be put down

She knew who she was. She also knew who she wasn’t, in her deeply reptilian damnation.

[Someone who’s not a ‘Gnawing Gracie’!]”, Ki`rene answered to Valence’s objection with one of her own, thinking back to laying in her bed; those silent, uncomfortable moments of introspection with her lifelike drakeling doll. She had wondered if she too was a voiceless plaything, and in her heart she’d reject the very thought of it.

Such poignancy was lost in translation when Justice Valence’s nose wrinkled in his confusion with the statement, hiking his glasses up faintly. Getting that he didn’t understand her abrupt analogy, having broken past bits of her nano-web by sheer force of id, Ki`rene’s inner maelstrom brought the clarity of her voice.

[… A ‘Spanking Suzie’. I’m a person, not a toy! Ripping open some kid’s blisters for no good reason is wrong, no matter what you say! I shouldn’t be guilty when I didn’t have any other place to go – anything else I could do!]”, she initially delivered more gently in emphasis as to what she meant, using a comparison he’d better grasp as a human, but allowed her self-protective whims to return to a boiling point as she went, shouting the man down no matter the robes he wore; purely Ki`rene in not following like a blind little robot when she didn’t accept what he or others believed, giving her own opinion if he’d damn her with his own.

You were supposed to go where you were told, and do exactly as you were instructed to do! Nothing else!”, Valence lurched forward with an elbow against his bench’s display, ratcheting up his volume to cut Ki`rene down with a direct answer to her excuse. It was her place to accept the unfair, and feel rightfully punished by it. When blisters broke regularly at the end of some of the more severe special days as it was, Valence was hardly in a position to coddle the defiant reptile’s want for something different.

Get over yourself Ulrich!”, brought Ki`rene to flinch when her focus had been deadlocked on the judge, catching it from her rear periphery when she had so many directions to protect her scale from. With the slink of a few brisk steps in a circle, akin to a feral creature surrounded by predators; cuffed claws curled defensively; the eight year old flung her snout toward the familiar voice of authority, finding Madam Montgomery’s face curled with her lasting agitations.

You put yourself here. You’re the convict, and you’re getting exactly what you earned, is what the man is trying to tell you. The world watches with a smile, with every lick you get. That’s what being a hard time ‘penny is, and the price you’re paying.”, the Parssian headmistress returned to her role when her short puff of a hare’s tail no longer felt like it was on the line, putting the judge’s wordy admonishment in a way even her dim-witted drake pupil might understand. Far past having had enough of that damned mentality over what they all saw as proper treatment, Ki`rene’s snout’s scales furled into further wrinkles with the angered, yet frightened looking baring of her Drakonian teeth, voice wobbling to sound so shrill and upset.

[My misery isn’t yours to celebrate! It’s no one’s! You didn’t have to try and paddle everyone with your stupid canoe oar, we were already going to be beaten senseless! Do you have any idea how terrible those booths and our programs are?!]”, she put her focus squarely on the Mistress of Fur if she’d choose that moment to pick a fight and hurry to the defense of the man that just tore her a new ass, even if it was just meaningless lip-service; the prosecutor and clerk starting to look tense over the continued conjecture derailing the court.

[What would it take to make you care? To see that everyone needs a nice word sometimes, and to not just be a source of entertainment for the things you like?!]”, Ki`rene argued her own beliefs when fighting with Madam Montgomery couldn’t possibly make things worse, snapping so harshly in the way her young voice flipped upon her; the meanings and impassioned emotions bleeding deeply into her destroyed snarls bringing her mothers to both freeze, with Sally’s fingers squeezing at her forearms in discomfort.

And what do I do instead, our oh-so-very angelic arsonist? If you were in our place and had some ‘penny in your care, you’d just let them slip anything and everything by you? Treat them like Kindern, maybe?”, Montgomery tipped her head to the side, lifting her large ears expressively in her sarcastic, prodding questions to try and leave Ki`rene feeling stupid.

[I’d treat her the way I want to be treated!]”, the drakeling spat as if the answer should have been obvious, stating that little thing she heard so many times as an actual eight year old, having listened to her biological parents at times when she wasn’t busy being a selfish, ghastly little hellion back then.

[Were you raised in a barn? It’s… nature, to want to be fair! Saying the world is happy with this… does the world know how unfair you are? How shitty and mean you can be, telling rejuvenated people with nano-webs they’re something to be played with?]”, she could so easily translate human sayings to her language in the way she fit herself in with them, using that social prowess she had to twist the knife of how exactly she felt beneath everyone surrounding her, holding such strong doubt that anyone would really “smile” at the sort of “discipline” Montgomery was perpetuating, and Valence enabling.

Again Ki`rene was made to wince into a stumble when a loud bang echoed across the room, jumping backwards with another shrink of her frame to the floor in taking a shaky defensive stance. Judge Valence’s chair had struck the wood of his bench in his leap from it, left leaning upon his display with both hands. There was an uncomfortable lapse of any movement besides the rapid, huffing breaths of a mortified Penitatas as the generally thoughtful and easy-going judicial sort of man glared over the top rim of his eyeglass frames to make a look that those who knew him well had never seen before; the prosecutor lifting her brows at him as if Ki`rene wasn’t barely a few feet away. While a human did not have a muzzle or snout to give certain things away to the naked eye, the curl of his upper lip made it look as if his teeth were clenched; the blue light of his bench’s display reflecting off his lenses.

You have a lot of nerve, acting gallant while throwing your hostile, disrespectful attitude around as a Penitatas in a Penitatas Court! The moment you’re not having your hind chewed upon, you act like it’s up to us to tolerate your mouth!”, Judge Valence revealed his instinct and drive as a bringer of a Penitatas’ disciplinary structure in the fury of lecture he came to show that he had the ability to deliver, much to Ki`rene’s seething tremble across the courtroom carpeting below. Having tarnished his courtroom and broken what was her own sentencing, his patience and intellectual curiosity had run dry if his lighter words would not be appreciated by a young drake that didn’t exactly deserve them, acting such an unrepentant terror.

This is my house. I didn’t have to give you such hospitality.”, the justice of the Penitatas Court reminded with heavier threat; robe sleeves dangling with the lengthy slop of his pony-tail in returning Ki`rene’s more aggressive intent from his standing position. So far from the calmness he carried about himself, he sure didn’t seem like a science teacher any longer when the duties of the seal behind him had him behaving like the harsh authority he was appearing to be under it all – those looks deceiving, when he was truly toward the top of the punitive command chain Ki`rene answered to.

If I had to take all of your comments and judgments and tie them up into one little package, I’d call them nothing short of ignorant. You’re quick to sling the dirt, but look at yourself! Barely an adult in the era of rejuvenation – twenty-one years old, and you couldn’t stay out of being imprisoned, even with the chance you got as a Juvenalas. Yet you’re openly criticizing the personal interests of others in a progressive, welcoming society that takes pride in corporal punishment, raising our kids right and ensuring our criminals pay dearly before being re-raised all over again. Even if we are honest and open with being ‘spankos’… what happens behind closed doors, and in our minds, is none of your business. None – of it. You are not the thought police.”, the sharply worded man lashed back with his own passions when he took personal offense to the very idea that a Penitatas was passing judgment in his hallowed chambers.

“… And you’re especially not qualified to be such a thing.”, he derided in such a way with his ‘thought police’ argument, uttering it so low that his cheeks touched the bottoms of his eyeglass lenses as far as they had slipped down his nose.

In forcing his courtroom into dead silence with even his clerk staring at him as if he was nervous, Ki`rene being in the middle of that room between the two podiums had her shaking like a leaf, so desperate to say anything that would make any of this right. To stop what was in motion, despite simply angering everyone around her whenever she tried. Knowing that she must have looked like she had been taken down a peg, hardly able to speak, the eight year old Penitatas lifted her head and squeaked out such a pained, pleading chirr.

[I don’t want to be! Just be fair! See that I just made a mistake, and that I’m sorry – and maybe need help when I’m so damn small and can’t defend myself!]”, she knew she was doing little more than begging for mercy, bleeding anything out of her heart that she could find to give the man when her eyes were being made to sting so badly. Penitatas or not, she was an eight year old who needed the support of the grown people around her; the stress and pain of all this becoming too much to bear, wanting so badly to be shown compassion and the comfort of security. To simply stop the fear, and her urge to cry. Even if she wasn’t going to be forgiven, for the love of hell, don’t hurt her for an honest mistake!

There was never going to be an explanation that would have earned you a ‘not guilty’ verdict, Ki`rene. When you willfully laid into those booths, we were going to respond in kind. That is as society expects, and the Penitatas Court is willing to deliver it. Disagreeing with your superior did not give you carte blanche to disregard the law, and destroy that which the people of this district owned.”, the judge did some leveling of his own from his perch above, speaking those cavalier nuances of social justice and inclusion even in delivering its penances to Ki`rene’s quivering snout. His truth, when her fate was sealed before the trial even began.

I acknowledge that you had a misconception blind your judgment, and held an anticipation of a different outcome. We see many mistakes, be it in this court, or the circuit courts overseeing who become Penitatas. The errors in life that we are left to correct, whether the transgressors feel bad for them or not.”, Valence sought to demonstrate that he did listen, and fully understood Ki`rene’s hopeful wishes this day as he spoke of the court and its rule of law. Surely not blind to any of it, he took a breath and loosened the muscles within his diaphragm.

You wanted to stand up, and be righteous. We will help you get there one day, I hope.”, he lightened his tones to sound solemn, in seeing Ki`rene’s maw crack open in suppressed pain to the meaning of the words she was picking up on.

[Don’t you do this to me. Not after all this… ]”, she so airily snarled with difficulty, sounding as if she’d lose it with the tears her nano-web wanted to burst into.

For the three counts of destruction of government property, this court sentences you to four additional cycles.”, Judge Valence took his hands from his bench’s display and called out with his authority, finally delivering the sentence his overly astute speaking mannerisms didn’t get to do earlier before being interrupted; those extra twenty years becoming official, and an absolute travesty that had Ki`rene’s cuffed claws thrashing with the stamp of a young hind-claw’s forward stagger.

[That’s my life you’re taking away!]”, she cried out tearily, having her jaw betray her – hard. In absolute discomfort from having to sit and listen to such things, knowing the sort of pain Ki`rene was in from being familiar with her body language, Sally sighed, and Rah`veia squirmed like an errant child, neither looking remotely happy amidst something they were merely bystanders to.

You’ll still have your life. You’ll be well cared for, until deemed fit to step back into the world with the rest of ushopefully less inclined to thumb your scaly little nose at authority, as atrociously behaved a child as you’ve made.”, he began with a reassurance that whittled down to a disciplinarian’s tongue-whipping of a Penitatas’ misgivings.

But, as I attempted to explain to you before, we certainly have means of encouraging our children to behave, no matter their total age. Since the purposeful pains of being a Penitatas were not enough to deter you from further unlawful inclination, I will be personally showing you that things really can hurt more than they already do… and that there are things we reserve only for our worst re-offenders.”, Valence prefaced in his lack of having finished with his sentencing, and with such a macabre warning weighing upon her fears did Ki`rene slam her right hind-claw upon the courtroom’s carpet as hard as she could, in the ways she could have a complete meltdown as a young raptor.

[Listen to me and stop this – please, I’m begging you… !]”, she screamed, loud and dire, hardly able to speak as she broke down. Judge Valence didn’t so much as blink.

Thus, this court hereby sentences you to the judicial paddling it is obligated to provide for having committed crimes as a serving Penitatas, administered under the influence of Firebottom One.”, the justice proved you didn’t have to be physically built to have a strong arm, and the will to condemn a deserving Penitatas to it without missing a beat.

Ki`rene crumbled on the inside, sobbing into a broken, weeping stare when tales of judicial paddlings were told by Penitatas like urban legends. The world turned a little slower with the vicing of her blood vessels, standing there in this feral saurian crouch as if she’d scurry into a hole out of hatchling’s instinct. Emotionally vulnerable and infinitely imaginative as an eight year old, the pain Judge Valence condemned her to brought the shattering of her world, knowing in her gut what was about to befall her little scales and delicate nerves.

Firebottom One was something Jacob would have known about, though better as the pharmaceutical compound Poenamorphone. Used solely by the Penitatas Justice Department and only for judicial paddlings, it was a drug that bound with endorphin receptors to block their function, with the end purpose of shutting down the body’s natural painkillers. When repeated pains would normally dull with the body’s chemical response, negating endorphins ensured that the final stroke of an implement hurt just as jarringly bad as the first, and its aftereffects painful without resting reprieve. It was one of three such drugs in the court’s arsenal, forming a piece of the extreme measure they would take against a Penitatas that still had the capacity to commit a crime – its effects lasting an entire week, and doped with nanite deactivation agents to render nano-lotion useless in the event the penny managed to steal a container out of sheer desperation.

Gentlemen, if you could bring in the Drakon Horse.”, Judge Valence raised a hand with a turn of his head to the two officers that brought the Ulrich family into the room, bringing movement and the clack of the court’s side door.

With you being the only Drakonian Penitatas in the entire region, Newstat had to reach out to have the tools we would need be sent to us overnight. I did educate myself in the event it came to this, for equality’s sake.”, he dropped the sheen of his lenses back upon Ki`rene, though she was too fixated upon the officers carrying in a strange wooden frame with red padding. Never having seen such a thing before, its frighteningly obvious purpose as a restraint for a young drake made her chest clamp down upon her heart.

I’m not used to doing a paddling this way, when you should rightfully be over my lap for what you went and did. Since that wouldn’t work for either of us, I’ll adapt.”, his looser, casual explanations turned to idle quips amidst the thump of boots, feeling somewhat disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to show off the lowering mechanism for his bench – what would normally form the grand stage of a penny ending up across his lap in his judge’s chair, creating a spectacle for all those there to witness.

The uniformed men brought the otherworldly device into the middle of the courtroom just in front of Judge Valence’s glossy bench, eyes all seemingly locked upon them when no one had ever seen such a thing in the more foreign nature of Ki`rene’s corporal punishment needs. Contrasting to the spanking horse of Earth’s own history, Drakon’s had more of a wedge shape to it that bolstered a young drake’s hind before dipping sharply downward for the natural curve of their saurian body once bent over. A thick red pad for her pelvis made the spot where her legs would dig tightly into it, and at the end of each faux-wooden strut was a leather strap with a metal buckle to lock her legs in place. Worst for Ki`rene to decipher as to its purpose was an adjustable sliding pad on the horse’s slanted lower end, complete with its own fairly large strap compared to those meant for limbs. The pad must have been for her chin and neck, and the restraint to tighten her head down against it without any ability to move at all once her wrists joined with the binds attached to its sides. There was an even longer and broader strap coming off the back of that adjustable piece, slopped into the carpet, but Ki`rene couldn’t figure its use in the rush of the sickening moment, standing there to watch it all like a sniveling fool – or so she viewed herself, suddenly glad her stomach was as empty as Sally had left it.

Above the show of men preparing the place of her disciplinary exhibition and unimaginable pain, Judge Valence’s watchful gaze stood tall with the elevation of his bench. So much smaller than a grown drake matriarch at just eight years old, lifting her scarf-swathed neck, Ki`rene still couldn’t help but want to get through to him, feeling so crushed.

[Mister Valence.]”, her tear-tinged young growl called softly for his attention, lifting his nose from the goings-on between them. Fighting her need to scream against an unfairness that hurt so badly, staring over the preparation of her paddling, Ki`rene hadn’t been entirely robbed of her hope when her beliefs stood so strongly at the center of what made the future mother drake the guardian she was.

[There wasn’t one person that said my principal did something okay. Not even one… not even you. How can you stand there and do this to me when… when I came to you for help? She isn’t innocent, just because she didn’t break a rule… why would you not see what I tried to do, and forgive me?]”, Ki`rene questioned with gentle, urging conviction, the very conscience of Valence’s verdict when every adult in her life had so quickly rejected Madam Montgomery’s over-the-top intent to purposely torment her incarcerated students. So slowly and brokenly uttered, her inner wound sounded as gaping as it truly was in her last ditch effort to beg for leniency.

She had wanted to come here. She wanted to meet her judge, and see this through to a conclusion that would have at least partly saved her tail and those countless years of her existence. Struggling in her refusal to accept the encroaching darkness, her bound claws hugged tight to her breastbone.

[I wanted to protect people, and what was right… isn’t that what justice is-… ]”, she put forward what had been her faith in the system and her trust in him, trying to convince like a brighter, more grown little lady before a glint of metallic shine hit the tears in her eyes.

Though the shifting waft of Valence’s judicial robes brought a clue to his movement, none had anticipated the immediate explosion of a loud, hollow bang of a hard object against the wooden lip of his bench. Ki`rene’s voice fell into the void as she jumped with everyone else in the room, but with a child’s squeal and tearful backward stagger, flinging her whole frame toward the gallery before striking the wall of Sally’s outstretched arm. Caught by a Karrian claw as to not outright flee, pressing down between the base of her neck and saurian shoulders, both reptiles kept their eyes forward… Ki`rene glued out of fright to what Judge Valence clutched in his bare white hand, seeming to examine in his grasp.

It was without question the largest dragon-paddle any of them had ever seen, with stark differences to those they knew within the realms of Ki`rene’s day to day discipline. Rectangular and with incredible weight, a hardwood surface surrounded a core of metal alloy, trailing a valley along the lengthy, thickened edges of the punitive instrument; its top fringe having been what hit Valence’s bench so hard, rattling everything upon it to the flicker of its display against the young man’s glasses. Ki`rene’s deathly stare immediately picked up on its spanking surface of broad triangular blades of studs, looking so much like actual Drakonian teeth bundled densely together to so many fine, mother-drake reminiscent tips. Tucked amid the numerous protrusions of metal were diamond shaped channels of nothingness, forming aerodynamic holes clear through the paddle’s metal structure. Looking like a maul best meant for bloodletting, Mitch was the first person to lift his hands from the sight and leap from his bench to leave… this surely not his kind of spectator sport, when he didn’t hate Ki`rene that much for making him be here today.

Good grief is this thing heavy. Now how do I… ?”, Valence mused with such casual ease when this was not his first rodeo, but surely his first with a drake – the one meant for the paddle visibly shaking with her maw aghast, plastered to Sally’s claw.

With a bit of fumbling at the paddle’s rubberized handle, a pop and shrill whir erupted with a flash of blue light, revving down in its drone as the studded tool lifted off the wood of Valence’s bench with an experimenting wiggle in his hand. The outer rim of the paddle came alight with the familiar glow and soothing warble of a hover engine, giving purpose to the paddle’s unorthodox innards. The way the paddle jumped and swished effortlessly in the judge’s hand did nothing to quell the horrified and deadened expression locked across Ki`rene’s snout as a tear broke free of her right eye, rolling down smooth scale with nary a sound in her stare.

There we are. Light as a ‘mother’s little helper’ now. What a marvel. Never thought I’d get to hold one of these.”, Judge Valence’s mouth curled into a smile from having gotten to learn and experience something new at his age, as impressed with the design as Zachary would have been disconcerted – such a paddle being the dark solution to pain that his hover-impulse toy ball could have been, surely in a different engineer’s creative hands.

Well, light for me, anyway. To my understanding, you’ll still feel most of its weight.”, the shiny tooth-like studs all twinkled against the light illuminating the room’s crest behind Valence in the man’s upward swing of the implement in gesture, with words for Ki`rene.

Holding the paddle in ways that wouldn’t have ever been comfortable naturally, making the hunk of metal look weightless, further realization forced a sobbing, shaking sort of stiffened gasp through Ki`rene’s throat, like her chest wouldn’t inflate. When the thing looked like the judge could balance it on a single finger with the help of the hover-engine within its core, it became more obvious as to why the paddle had those holes scattered through it like missing teeth in the rows of studs. Dragon-paddles were thick and slow, and the ones meant for blistering had to rely on jagged studs to break inner layers of scale. Everyone else’s paddles simply had holes drilled in them to allow them to be swung as fast as they could be, robbing their surfaces of any cushioning pockets of air as they sharply spanked fluids out of cells and vessels, forcing them into the spaces between their layers of skin.

This was a dragon-paddle that could actually be swung fast, just like a human’s. A powerful, inertia-heavy instrument that could cut the air like it was nothing, slamming her with sharp facsimiles of a mother drake’s teeth… so crisp, and with a tissue-milking speed that could blister her in the same way a human could be. It would eat her alive, defeating the absolute entirety of her scale’s natural armor.

And while Sally said nothing in understanding why Ki`rene jumped and wobbled as she did, the strong woman felt the slump of her Penitatas’ weight ease off of her forearm. Though the drake hiccuped a sob, torn so deeply in her stare, the scales of her snout tightened… those seeping eyes becoming damming, and her teeth so obviously glaring in their clench toward the justice that would pull such a thing out and smack it upon his bench in the middle of her trying so hard to speak with him. With his focus on the massive paddle, it was like she hadn’t said a thing – totally pushed aside, and much to Ki`rene’s feisty chagrin.

A rumbling, childlike reptilian snarl brought heads to turn, only to find such narrow, enraged little yellow eyes all for Judge Valence, without care to what he held in his hand.

[… Ignoring what she did, means you’re ignoring me and everyone else she tried to hurt yesterday. Why’d you even bother shutting her wise-ass down if you were going to do the same thing she did? You’re no different!]”, the eight year old Penitatas lurched off Sally’s arm to so harshly spit from her maw with the Drakonian rumbles of a child’s tearful condemnation, slamming the useless, complicit judgment” Valence decreed upon the room’s Parssia. Right away she felt the slip of scale across her own in Sally trying to grab her arm, prompting the defensive raptor to bolt away from the touch.

Ki`rene, that’s not going to help you!”, Sally tried to reason, sounding exacerbated now that she had to open her muzzle.

[No one was going to help me to begin with!]”, Ki`rene couldn’t help but sound so hurt in her fiery retort of honesty, half-broken in what was looming over her as it was; just so sharp in her snarling shouts. Shrunken, feral-like steps so quick, lashing her body about to ensure no one was about to nab her from between the two podiums, the girl gave everyone one hell of a look.

[I don’t get cart-blanco to break the law, but fur-ball gets it to do things that you all call wrong – and you still defend it, just because of who she did it to!]”, she damned the entire court when no one stood up behind her, leaving her to take the fall for being the only one to do something they all apparently agreed with her on… even if she couldn’t correctly translate Judge Valence’s more austere wordings in throwing the lot of tripe right back at him.

Fur-ball?!”, Madam Montgomery piped up with a puffing of said fur before Ki`rene even finished, lifting her claws with a flick of her head toward Sally.

Are you just going to sit there and let her go off?”, the Parssia challenged when the woman’s Penitatas needed some severe corralling, but Sally merely glanced at the hare so she’d know she heard her before turning away without a word. Judge Valence surely had some to give the drake though, tossing the long, technologically-assisted paddle over his shoulder.

Ki`rene Ulrich, I do suggest-… ”, the man raised his voice in warning as the officers between them finished locking the Drakon Horse solidly in place, though he got nowhere before a cantankerous, girlish hiss burst above his refined reprimanding.

[Screw this – and screw you! I take everything back! Every last bit of it! I’m not sorry for anything!]”, Ki`rene clutched what little she had and lambasted the man if this imbalanced, horrific fate was what he truly wore his robes for; the regret melting from her heart in seeing that perhaps she had done something right after all. Holding back the deluge of her misery, her snout curled into teeth baring anger, no matter her muffled, choking sobs.

[Everyone always tells me that ‘I get what’s coming to me’! Well, I can teach lessons too! When I stood up to you and broke those machines, you got exactly what you fucking deserved!]”, the would-be mother drake so duly punished for the first time in her life with the complete withdrawal of her apologies; this end result being what Madam Montgomery, Judge Valence, and the entire goddamn Penitatas Justice Department warranted if this was how they’d treat a problem needing their attention, and a penny needing a hand to uplift, rather than smack down.

Dipping into a raptor’s stance, the snarling drakeling put her hind-claw down once more if this was what she had to do!

“… My.”, the coming silence let forth such an airy voice, making Ki`rene’s scales crawl as if she could feel the wolves surrounding her. Spoken from above with such blackened calm, Judge Valence scratched his forehead with the glowing edge of his judicial dragon-paddle.

What big sharp teeth you have.”, he muttered as if referencing ancient children’s literature, low and stern to that hostile expression in the middle of the room, and Ki`rene’s hissing, threatening growl against him. His smile all but gone, that paddle left his skin.

I’m glad to finally see your true colors, and that violence you carry.”, Valence’s glasses lifted with the more serious curl of his face in getting to bear witness to the particular Penitatas that forcefully disabled the department’s Diaspora booths. It was all the better he saw it now, before he was within claw or tooth’s reach. With a drop of his attentions to the officers between the two of them, standing in wait beside the horse they set up, he lifted his free hand.

Strap her down… and muzzle her while you’re at it.”, the justice gave his go-ahead, and summarily ordered against that gleaming little snout.

Despite expecting to be restrained into those waiting buckled straps, the command to “muzzle her” sliced right through Ki`rene’s bravery and determination for personal justice, making her flinch and recoil right out of her shrunken stance. Sure enough, one of the two officers slid a child-sized Drakonian muzzle out of a holster tucked against the inside of the horse, looking a dull sort of lattice of gunmetal slats and bars with buckled straps of its own. An optional component for a vile defendant that posed risk to others. Her claws were cuffed to the point of uselessness, and she’d never bite someone! Its clasps jingled in falling to the man’s side, and with the first step of his boot did Ki`rene gasp and shakenly whimper, ducking backward.

[Please don’t! I’m not an animal!]”, she cried in sheer fright. Muzzles were for wild creatures – not her!

Let’s go! C’mon!”, the other uniformed officer barked in command with the dry manner you’d expect of a strong man trying to do his job. No one saw that Drakon’s views were not Ki`rene’s, and that its accepted norms were not her own.

Eyes forward and snout dipped low to the ground in a horrified retreating slink, ever so reminiscent of the sorts of animals she did not wish to be, Ki`rene’s snout furled with a sharp growl to push the men away. But, to make her flinch in shock once more, the raptor bumped into the force of a firm wall behind her. With hardly enough time to make a half spin and swing her neck about to lay eyes upon the touch, she found Sally had slipped off her seat and into a crouch to block her path. Without a grab or shove, it was like being caught in the Karrian’s arms, face solemn and quiet in the fleeting blink of an eye theirs met before the heavy-handed grips of the officers found their way onto the scruff of her neck and both her upper arms. Unwilling to let her Penitatas make this any worse for herself, Sally lent her claw in a way Ki`rene would not like.

[No, please! Get off me!]”, the drakeling screeched like a hatchling as she was yanked forward and away from Sally, pulled in close between the two men as the one with the muzzle promptly began to try to slip it over her snout. The hand upon the lower back of her neck kept her head down as she stumbled over herself in being hauled toward the Drakon Horse, howling and crying in such frightened earnest with the muzzle right in front of her nose as if she’d be suffocated by the thing, struggling to keep it off.

[Stop resisting them!… ]”, a familiar tone-of-growl crossed the slits of her ears through the deafening thumps of the three’s thrashing, scraping scale against the fabric of their uniforms, though it lacked the collection Rah`veia so sharply kept about herself.

In the flurry of her own heart’s race, Ki`rene squealed as her toe-claws tore through the carpet and tripped her up, sending her sailing into a controlled free-fall in the men’s guiding thrust over the back end of the Drakon Horse, smacking the padding with an audible ‘pop!’ once the fronts of her hind-legs dug in and forced her tail into the air with the downward fling of her saurian torso. Striking her chin on the wood of the horse when the pad meant for it and her neck wasn’t in the right place, the Penitatas’ well-stoked fears and pains had shredded what was left of her will. In its wake, an eight year old was left screaming and crying with the feelings of hands all over her body; one obviously holding a leg to strap it down, while the other gnashed her face into the chin-rest that so quickly moved under her, seemingly trying to restrain her in haste to have a better chance of getting that muzzle on. So dire, and so small no matter her Drakonian size, the look in Ki`rene’s eyes broke into such desperation as the scent of the red pads and leather straps hit her, staring down the fate of that muzzle looming against her face.

I wonder if I could get one of those to parade you around the school with, Ulrich?”, Madam Montgomery still had it in her to snidely drill when such struggling displays clearly didn’t encroach upon what would make her uncomfortable.

Ki`rene let out a heavy series of sobs, head forced into the horse by the strap meant to hold it down jamming against her scale in being pulled taut; scarf messily curling between the pad and her neck as she began running out of ways to thrash and fight.

[Dal`krest! My name is Dal`kre-he-hee’st!]”, her eyes clapped shut, insisting with her destroyed tears who she was when her emotions turned deep into her memory in the lament of a child’s loss.

Assaulted by those restraints and the weight of the human men, it wasn’t just her nano-web that won over her urge to break down and entirely lose it. In feeling so loathed and alone, the grinding clamber of her rushing thoughts had her repeating her own heartfelt words from earlier. Mentioning something her biological mother used to tell her all the time in trying to get her to behave right, that you should treat others the way you wish to be treated, had her wishing she had listened back then. It had been hard for a headstrong and different sort of girl to get close to her parents thanks to how she conducted herself, and the ways she tried to make friends. They might have argued a lot, and the distance they made from their astray daughter never helped, but Ki`rene still had it in her to miss them. How great would it be to be rescued by them and whisked off this wooden horse to see her old bedroom, lost within her tears as the rough, sliding pulls of leather restraints in reality dulled her sense of place.

She may have withdrawn her apologies from this court, but there in her place of penance; a wiser girl, with lessons learned; did she have some for her true family. She wished she could tell them how sorry she was for everything she did to be taken from them. That she’d never be bad for them, ever again.

[… I want my mom and dad! Give me back my mom and da-aaaad!]”, she cried in a Kindern’s hysterics, wanting to run home where she belonged.

Cinched down into the horse’s bindings without purchase over her limbs beyond her cuffed arms, such a devastated bawl erupted over the courtroom as Ki`rene felt the cold of metal jam over the scales of her snout without being able to resist it any longer. Tugged and positioned with several jerks in her vice against the pad meant for her chin, the hard metal’s enveloping embrace of her maw felt as suffocating as it was horrifying; dehumanizing to a girl that wasn’t even truly human. The one officer pulled the muzzle snug while his cohort brought the one remaining strap all the way up and over Ki`rene’s body, revealing its purpose as it came back to the adjustable chin-rest’s opposite side with a resulting yank upon the midsection of her tail. The appendage of raptor brown becoming braced and immobilized, she was left prominently pointing the reddened underside base of her tail to the room behind with the wooden device’s punitive indignity.

And though the courtroom seemed to move with purpose, accented by the click of Ki`rene’s handcuffs in wrestling her wrists into the horse’s final bindings, the defense’s bench remained motionless. Sally watched on as if she was spacing into things beyond what was in front of her, arms crossed tight, but blinked back into their time and place upon hearing the raspy, reptilian hiss of a sigh beside her.

[… Maybe it was too much to ask, thinking we could all show some sort of example in front of Ki`rene. Instead it was just more yelling, and some bimbo with a rude mouth.]”, Rah`veia mumbled her distaste in rumbling, harshly muttered ways.

Just as Ki`rene said she had.”, Sally disquietly agreed. She didn’t have the unflappable constitution Montgomery did despite being the same sort of top-tier disciplinarian she was, sitting there in rigid discomfort and few words; Ki`rene’s last claw pulling against the grasp of those trying to tie her down, fighting to paw at the slats of that muzzle as if it was scalding her.

When she couldn’t feel as angry at Ki`rene as she once was, giving her efforts and truthfulness such credit, the sight of her so desperately wanting that muzzle off her snout made her think of her laugh… her smile, and how happy she was whenever she got a new little something from her colorful creature fighting series, or a token as simple as a new scarf. It was a distraction bothersome to her heart when she had a civic duty to perform and a bottom she did take pride in rearing, but her mind was pulled from it with the weighty creak of the wooden bench she was seated upon, along with the thud of a Drakonian tail in striking its back; the thing having been making her wife sit awkwardly upon it to begin with, unmeant for non-bipeds. Startled and seemingly on edge, the pearl-hued Karrian looked crossly up at Rah`veia as she suddenly slipped by her with the expression of a silent snarl.

Excuse me, where do you think you’re going?”, her voice naturally scolded.

[Leaving. I want no part of this.]”, the drake swung her claw out in hastened, upset gesture, far unlike herself in snapping at Sally on her way by to storm out; a tremble to her growls.

The snatch of a Karrian claw to her forearm had Rah`viea’s hind-claws jammed into the carpet, briskly spun with a thrust of her snout right into Sally’s face if she was going to pull rank and stop her. All so quick, and dulled away from the courtroom by Ki`rene making such a louder scene, Sally sank stiffly into her seat as soon as her outreached forearm ended up in the drake’s other claw; all in a flash, and with force.

[I can and will drag you out into the goddamn hallway and belt you with my tongue if you think you’re going to make me sit quiet and watch, because two can play your game, little miss!]”, Rah`veia burst into a preemptive lashing of disciplinary language in expecting Sally to do the same, breaking from her traditional submissive role as the woman’s partner in this life. So firm and impassioned, it left its mark when it was truly the drake who held the position of physical dominance between them; something that never came up when she was no ‘dom’, despite that size and figure. The coming split second not promptly removing Sally’s claw from her arm, Rah`veia growled more sharply, eyes looking damp against Ki`rene’s mortified bawl.

[I’ll do it!]”, the shaken drake promised, demanding to excuse herself without question.

Because when it’s all over, she’s going to need you to be there for her!”, the Karrian reasoned with haste, shaking her head in her unwillingness to let her go. Melted away from the typical demeanor Rah`veia knew from her, it was a plea from someone who was not trying to domineer, and surely no more comfortable than she was.

She’s going to need support, and she’s going to want it from you – not me. Some of what she said… I know she meant me, too. I’m not dumb; I know what I said yesterday when we got home, trying to be hard on her. We aren’t allowed to apologize for things like that when she’s getting what she’s supposed to as a hard timer, but… I want to make it up to her, and make you proud.”, the reasons for Sally’s distractions revealed themselves out of compassion and guilt, sharing some honesty with the woman she kept at her side to keep her so well grounded.

She didn’t mean to make Ki`rene feel like some lifeless toy when the drake obviously meant every word she cried in front of this court, and unlike someone else across the aisle, Sally was bothered by the thought she had. Much of that “tearing down” was intentional in getting through to a fresh hard timer, but… Rah`veia couldn’t have been happy with how all of it turned out when she had to step in, and no matter the injury to her pride or what she thought had been right, Sally was willing to try and do things a little more thoughtfully. Taking charge and leading her home was the white scaled lizard’s forte, and with a little direction, her “good girl” loosened the squint of her eye-ridges.

We’ll try and be the mothers she hoped for yesterday. More for real, than just something we call ourselves. She’s sharing our name of Ulrich, isn’t she?”, the short-haired reptile tried to take that first step, even if it was hard for her.

Though others seemingly wouldn’t, Sally put her rejection of Montgomery’s behavior to meaningful action, stepping in to ensure Ki`rene felt better under her roof. Rah`veia’s claw released Sally’s forearm, and with defeated acceptance did she turn and more slowly trot back toward where she had slumped her sore hip into the bench prior. She may have looked irked at the idea of sitting through such a thing, but she would if it could make a positive difference. So while Judge Valence stepped into the middle of his courtroom with that glowing paddle under his arm, slapping his chosen glass-like ampule of Firebottom One into the hilt of the hypospray he clutched in hand, Sally lifted her head and perked up.

Hey… kiddo! It’ll be over before you know it!”, the lead Misses Ulrich delivered to the floor in encouragement, replacing the teasing damnation Ki`rene had already gotten so much of from everyone. Their penny may have been scared, but this had an end, and…

[We’ll be right here!]”, Rah`veia followed promptly behind, assuring that they’d be there for her – those parents she wished for moments ago.

Wrists bound beside her muzzled snout, sobbing so brokenly, Ki`rene let off a reptilian whine of protest when the cold of Valence’s judicial hypospray touched the scales of her neck, rolling it into a frightful squeak once the tiny device hissed to the press of the man’s thumb. Her limbs jerked, pulling her bindings taut to the faintly stinging rush the hypo shot into her blood circulation. Her eyes opened to slits after her powerful clench, breathing heavily with the pound of her heart… and, with each passing second, she began to feel something awry creeping through her body. The base of her tail began to ache more deeply, and her scale prickle irritatingly as she lost what little comfort she gained since Rah`veia rubbed its intimate underside. The smoldering heat that came was like the woman had just let her out of her lap again, urging her to squirm. Even her hips felt like they wanted to crawl back into the forefront of her mind, feeling day-old paddle wheals throb curiously anew in the dying of her endorphins... melting away every bit of relief her body created. The extreme of being robbed of her own pain regulators made her want to have a kicking tantrum as she slowly succumbed to the pain-exuding feelings it bestowed through every ticking, seething little nerve.

With matters taking their course, the prosecutor left down the center aisle with her case won and sentence handed down, not noticing the leery following of crimson eyes in passing. Having the witness bench all to herself and rid of the observant human, the Mistress of Fur skimmed the room cautiously before she reached up to the top cut of her blouse, dipping her claws between the furred shape of her bolstered breasts.

Finally, you can reap what you sowed. For what you did to me and my school, you’re going to help me get to sleep every night for the next millennia, ‘penny.”, Montgomery haughtily declared in a mumble only to herself, assuming a degree of excited anticipation as those rusty-furred digits of hers slipped a tiny metallic sphere from her bra. A padded fingertip found the smooth, cold luster of a lens, adjusting the device so that it would look out from the concealed tuck of her vindicated bosom.

She wasn’t certain if filming would be allowed in a courtroom despite it being common in a Penitatas’ life, and this was not a time she’d care to ask. Such punitive comeuppance would be retained for enjoyment if she so wanted, and she had every intention to savor it.

“… So slither for me, you piece of shit.”, her maw tightened with the base of her hare-like snout, growling vengefully under her breath the cutting hint of a racial epithet to the Penitatas that dared besmirch her reputation and good name.

The discreet holo-cam began forming a special scene for the sadistic hare to watch at a deserving wretch’s expense as it locked upon Judge Valence at Ki`rene’s side, standing still with his glowing paddle in hand. Taking in the bound drakeling’s hissing, raspy reptilian sobs being dulled by the slats of her muzzle, his silent observation was met with the weakened pivot of a single slitted iris, weeping with an intense stare back up at him. Bound so tightly and face partly shrouded, that look of devastation was the only window left to Ki`rene’s inner self.

If a sunny yellow eye could grovel…

Was that something of an attitude adjustment, ma’am? You don’t seem to want to tussle with us anymore.”, the justice made sharp note of Ki`rene’s sudden lack of a will to fight, pleading so pathetically without so much as uttering a word. That eye quivered, twinkling in the wet sheen of light across it – a reptilian whine growled through sobs against metal and padding.

Spirit broken and distraught beyond all desperation, that pool of tears imploring for Valence’s sympathies sank behind a brown eyelid when the tip of his glasses turned away without reply. At his mercy and lack thereof, Ki`rene sputtered against the padded horse as the soft step of formal footwear left for her outreached hindquarters, carrying the churning hum of a small hover-engine with him. With nothing ahead of her muzzled snout but the floor and the base of Judge Valence’s bench, unable to move… it was just she and the young man with the pony-tail down his back, to the prickling crawl of her own scales. Something that got abruptly sharper upon feeling the passing brush of metal studs across her bare saurian hip, gliding their points slowly by.

That’s good.”, he affirmed in stride, sweeping the paddle’s face off Ki`rene’s left haunch.

Now maybe you’ll learn something!”, his footing pivoted into the carpet, driving itself home as he effortlessly threw the metallic instrument into an upward reel with his body’s motion. Dug into position, the uncharacteristically weightless slab of thick alloy sailed the blue blur of its outer edges past the height of Judge Valence’s head before snapping forward with purposeful, harsh intent.

Out of sight, Ki`rene wouldn’t have known he swung so suddenly and hard if it weren’t for a fleeting few milliseconds of a stomach-turning, horrifyingly abhorrent sound; the dragon-paddle’s hover-impulse engine spooling into an electrified leap, whistling air through its tooth-shaped shaped holes. That deepened, broad howl with its grinding trills of higher pitches brought the incredible force of a grown man’s arm before the little drake could so much as brace herself for it, clapping thunderously upon the exposed underside of her eight year old tail in a flash. Rather than the low ‘pop!’ of a typical dragon-paddle, a screaming pain was met with the explosion of a snappy ‘whop!’ from the blinding gnash of studs, sending a racing shock-wave up her raptor tail and through her abdomen – hardly able to finish traveling before the painful impulse brought Ki`rene to shriek out such a yelp against her stifling muzzle. The instrument slapped down upon the tender lower arch of her tail’s shape where it met her body, and with the strength of an intellectual human treating her childish physique as if she was a grown adult, that fraction of a second sent the tips of those faux-teeth deep enough for the paddle to go flush with her scale, experiencing the bruising blow of its weight from the kiss of the hardwood face beneath it all… far more like how a soft-skin took a paddle, and surely with the same blistering speed they’d be shown for their worst of licks.

It wasn’t even the thinner scale of her hip where she’d normally be paddled… and it was still the most painful thing Ki`rene had ever felt in her life.

Coming to be but a single strike, the absence of any follow-up strokes behind the judicial paddle’s maiden flight gave the Penitatas a moment’s agony to screech and squeal in its wake, suppressed against the Drakon Horse in her attempt to wiggle and thrash as a little kid of any total age would, tough or not. It was quite unlike Rah`veia’s chewing of the intimate part of her tail, or even that of a usual spank… far more than just ‘nicking’ her hidden parting of tailhole scale, and more like whacking the absolute hell out of it with the residual stings of tooth-tips all over. It was what a human might call “crisp”; snappy and hot; but for a drake and the heavy paddles they were accustomed to, such unhindered velocity made for a unique, piercing sting to which she had never felt. The same radiant sting that gave Aubrey mottled spots of dreaded white.

“… I’m going to have to get used to this paddle. The follow-through is awkward.”, Valence considered aloud as he paused behind that constant sweltering of prickling heat driven across her under-tail in a wide strip, not improving in the slightest as her bindings all rattled. The dulling glow that usually enveloped the pain of a punitive lick after a moment’s time did not come as it typically would, leaving Ki`rene trembling in the seemingly endless peak of the swat’s throbbing blaze, deep through her dinosaur hind. Trying to cope with the Firebottom One’s effects, squirming with urgency, it was hard to believe that abrupt swat wasn’t the worst Valence had to offer, not having a feel for the hover-impulse unit’s nuances yet.

It’s curiously fitting though, wouldn’t you think? Seeing as this paddle of ours is provided to us by the wonders of technology, it seems as if you’ll be the only Penitatas in all of Newstat to still celebrate Diaspora proper.”, he contemplated the practical ‘karma’ of sorts that was coming back to Ki`rene, patting her bondage-bared tail-base to deliver his moral twist and familiarize himself with the otherworldly feedback of the paddle; the young drakeling jumping out of instinct against her pads and straps with each rap.

If you ask me… I think that is what justice is, little lady.”, the firm man revealed he was in fact listening when he interrupted Ki`rene’s undeserving plea for leniency earlier, and that he was a bringer of penance most unpalatable beneath his once aloof demeanor.

Judge Valence’s expression lacked any of those lighter features though as he withdrew the glowing instrument back to himself, taking one last look over that sputtering, leaping raptor-like back slanted toward his courtroom floor. His fingertips brushed along the peaks of the dragon-paddle’s cold hard teeth out of a studious fascination, hobbling together a plan of action when this particular flavor of judicial paddling was entirely new to him. Ki`rene’s feral, saurian legs stretched along the back struts of the foreign horse, exaggerating their curves and joints to the open, bare jut of her hip’s bulk upon the sides of her reptilian haunch; those chicken-thighs as exposed by the spread of her limbs and hiking of her hind as her underbelly, sloping into the upward bend of thick, stiff tail. A young female Drakonian’s strong, childishly petite muscles and underlying tissues gave him a lot to aim for and spank soundly. Still, even if his guilty inmate’s position was incredibly immodest; the southern slope of Ki`rene’s under-tail hardly within her own shadow; he couldn’t notice any tightly hugged creases in the courtroom’s open air in his inexperience with her kind, though a few smaller bits of brown scale striking the light just right gave a few hints in her leg’s splay… legs that pulled against the ankle bindings, with clawed toes curling to the unintelligible sound of a sobbing Penitatas trying to speak while muzzled.

I’m afraid this is the part where you pay attention, Ki`rene.”, Valence quietly scolded those squirming little protests when he had heard enough of them in his courtroom, slipping into a form most solemn and serious as the glowing dragon-paddle reeled back with the silent flap of his robe’s sleeve. Those few seconds of thought were all the law-bringing disciplinarian needed to formulate a living hell.

With teeth bared in the shade of gunmetal slats, clenched to brace herself against the grating pains her reddened under-tail was already forcing her to contend with, Ki`rene was struggling to look back up over her shoulder and face that condemnation when the whistle of air and anti-gravity pulses shocked her out of the blue. The strap that went across the base of her skull to keep her neck from craning in the slightest jammed itself taut in time with the explosive ‘whop!’ of the dragon-paddle, bringing Ki`rene’s snout to snap open against the muzzle holding it with quite the scream of a cry; everything within her leaping into such a gnash when the heated, powerful sting she was first shown came back under her tail with a creative twist just for her physique. With more to her than the two soft hills of a humanoid bottom, the studied man had decided to pitch the punitive instrument with an underhand swing, causing it to swat her on its upward stroke and at a low-reaching angle, clipping southern tail-base innately unfamiliar with paddles and chewing. Reaching along the bend of her tail toward the tuck of her raptor-ish thighs might have spared the lower sides of her tail from being compressed and smacked with the blow, but made for a bigger, more under-tail centric swat that caught all the scale between her tightly veiled anus and genital slit… plus a little extra by the top corner of the paddle, taking the punching graze of a few teeth across her feminine opening’s furthest end. A hot little poker giving her a passing touch between those lips of thin, sensitive scales forced her legs to jerk downward and try to kick out of pained instinct before her brain even processed the electrical scream of the paddle’s actual spank across her – that blinding speed milking the most intense sting one could feel while slugging like a weighted bat clear through flesh to bone.

That childish reptilian roar had barely gotten started, and that mass of instantaneous pain absorbed into the Penitatas’ internal reality before a heavy swat crossed her in another flash; Valence able to withdraw and re-throw the assistive dragon-paddle rapidly as close as he stood to her up-ended haunches, same as he could with a bumble-bee or other high speed judicial paddle in his bench’s arsenal. So swiftly was the studded board of wood and machine upon her right hip were it would normally provide a drakeling the proper pains of a paddling, and for the second time in only a few moments, poor Ki`rene again felt the worst pain of her life. A raptor’s hips broad and tender, with scales thin and less cushioned beneath against blows, the lightning snap of that heavy dragon-paddle up against the side of her leg made her head want to rear back in such a shriek, continuing that same draconic howl into metal and pad in her inability to budge. Studs spanked flush against scale in an instant, driven into muscle with the force of an armor-piercing bite across the entirety of her saurian hip when every tooth on that enlarged paddle found cool Drakonian hide. So sharp, and as crisp to her senses as her Thanksgiving whip, a world-shattering sting rushed into the feeling of literal fire with the punishing battering of all that might behind it, ripping through muscle and joint to resound clear through her pelvis and nearby organs; that eight year old limb dwarfed by what it received, no matter Ki`rene being bigger than your typical biped child. A step above the swat from Sally that swept her off her feet yesterday, she’d have gone tumbling to the ground if it wasn’t for the Drakon Horse… twice over, as promptly as the paddle hammered a second lesson right over the last, nipping her leg a little lower.

All of this happening over the course of a second or two, it set the stage for what a judicial paddling was within these hallowed walls, watchfully stared down upon by the seal of the Penitatas Justice Department. There was no gradually easing into it, or granting of traditional comforts offered to a rejuvenated child; gone be the image of a mother righting a young one’s wrong. A judicial paddling was administrative and expedient, whipping the dexterous instrument of corporal punishment to a blazing melody of constant ‘whop!’s that clustered together so closely the sounds could touch. A spanking with a sole purpose, and a level of applied soft tissue injury to reach. It was a blistering in the truest, most authentic of forms, paying no mind to physical age.

With a paddle to suit even the tiniest Penitatas to be found guilty, existing in the duality of being both young and responsibly grown, the dragon-paddle they fetched just for Ki`rene’s sentence lengthened her saurian screech, shredding it into a throaty scream with the jarringly sudden flurry of excruciating swats to follow her left hip deflecting deep into her, with a tap dance across the base of her tail before returning to her right side without humane hesitation. Slapped and slammed so vigorously, what started as a searing throb of solitary smacks turned into a sea of flowing ripples across her nerves both shallow and muscle deep, sending venomous waves that turned every microsecond of conscious thought into a nightmare. Eyes clamped shut and claws balled into fists that pulled against the straps keeping them next to her snout, Ki`rene violently mewled into absolute lament in having to endure a pain that would have an adult doing the same. To be spanked so intensely made for a blaring, bruising fire that continued stacking one lick of the paddle after another… licks that were feeling exactly as painful as the first one to kiss her tail-base, as the Firebottom One’s suppressive effects became an immediate torment beyond merely losing the resting comforts endorphins could provide. The spanks did not blur against her with repetition, and with every one plowing against hip and under-tail, slapped as quickly upon her as an angry father using his bare hand, the punitive agony became white and radiant… horrific alone, yet coupled with a tissue-splitting force that beat clear through her hind, obliterating capillaries as the studs of the paddle tenderized what her scales existed to protect.

Her scales audibly crunched to the stainless steel teeth… hideously calling to the room just what the bound drakeling must have felt.

Ki`rene wanted to cry for it all to stop before long at all, but all her muzzled maw could elicit were muffled screams of suffering; incredible bawls that lost their ability to ever make sense in her distress, gasping and growling for breaths to the deafening claps of top-end paddle against her. Immediately reddening in rectangular stripes to the implement’s punishing touch, rapid-fired against any speck of her that could take it, the gallery behind plenty to watch in Ki`rene’s hysterical yelps and attempts to thrash, jostling the Drakon Horse to blows you’d never see elsewhere. Rolling her Parssian mouth into a distracted smirk, Madam Montgomery threw one fluffy footpaw back into the air in crossing her legs to the sweet music of one hell of a paddling, and one awful drake’s obvious agony from it. Legs that rather felt such a nagging need to cross. It was a bench absorbed into such a snappy spanking, though the other across the aisle would have made you think it wasn’t occupied by ‘spanko’s as well; Sally stiff and strong only on the outside, and Rah`veia sulking to a display that surely did not make them happy.

When a dozen strokes of the paddle took no time flat, a minute had Ki`rene well to the point of incredibly spanked, but there was to be no limit until the duty was done – not in pain, nor tears. A smack that hurt worse than others would choke up the drakeling in the instant it bit her, stumbling out snarling, blubbering sobs in the time that two more would crest along each hip, oddly angled to clout the backs of her legs and saurian rear in ways she had never felt from others more accustomed to Drakonian corporal punishment, catching a rasping from those tooth-like studs at times. Valence’s inexperience with her kind was ever apparent in his treatment of her tail’s preferably private slope, slipping in those underhand strokes of the paddle to a tormenting addition most harrowing when the trailing tuck of her slit unknowingly took a blow… something she wanted to shriek at him for, to at least tell him he was doing it wrong, but words were long past gone when it felt as if the dragon-paddle was flaying her unfathomably pain-soaked hindquarters. So many tiers past profoundly intolerable, those claps all about her tail and hips in a wide, unusual area brought a melting heat, and a sting most panicking

It was that feeling she’d dread in the middle of her evening thrashing on Easter, or those seemingly scattered, random swaths of harsher pain on Thanksgiving where her whip lashed her just right, only to be smacked by something else after. Those feelings of soft tissue injuries giving birth to blisters, forcing pockets of scale and nerve-screaming meat apart with the gathering swell of fluid. They felt deeper and different when not granted to her by a long, sharp paddle stud… almost as if she could feel spots emerge in every swat of the paddle, inflaming peeling layers of young under-scale tissue as the paddle sharply drove fluids from their intended places. A flame-swathed scalpel taken to those rounded, searing little wet wounds unseen, adding to the wracking inferno of the paddle’s fury with every swift flick of Valence’s arm.

It was a beating… and it was unbearable.

Unable to do anything but swallow that which she couldn’t, begging the universe to make it stop burning, Ki`rene cried her eyes out like a Kindern that had been mauled. Metal muzzle dug into the red pad beneath her chin as if she was grinding her snout into her mattress at home, howling through another minute in the deliberate blistering, the little drake’s scrunched and wrinkled face had its teeth permanently bared by a hiked, scaly upper lip, looking like Kayla lost in a snarl in her ugliest of tears; spittle dripping, nostrils shimmering, and cheeks lined with trails from being vigorously milked the same as her forming lumps of light, thin brown blister. Her bawl heavy and raucous, outright roaring childishly girlish cries as only a drake could, the arching bend of her back and constant pull of her limbs was all she could do to fight against her restraints, battering the horse in the mortified challenge it was to breathe as an eight year old screeching so much. The twisting dig of needles erupting amidst the constant clap of scorching sun; that telling pinch of blister in the middle of a sound swat; her clenched eyelids sprinkled and spattered tears through the air liberally in the shocks that rocked her body as Judge Valence found his rhythm and clearly learned his curious new paddle.

Refusing to weaken even as he needed to reach out and hold Ki`rene’s tail just to lean in and keep from slowing down in his exertion, the non-parental man of higher discipline took the paddling as serious as his agonized Penitatas did beneath his flurry of scorn. A stabbing whack of the paddle across the hip he stood beside made the drakeling shudder at the baseball’s knot he drove through her hip joint, carefully following all of those reactive attempts to rip free of the horse and scurry away in his focus on leaping the paddle to its next landing place. With there sometimes being two strikes to the same place before moving on, and other times only one, that unpredictably frustrating randomness was seasoned by Valence’s ire and Ki`rene’s own physique; those underhand, saurian crotch-splitting swats of the paddle returning occasionally as the man’s personal touch for a penny with a mouth, without knowledge to what all he was actually wailing upon. The act had lit up Ki`rene’s tailhole into being visible in its swollen puff; a blister of dull brown but a pin-prick upon the tiny line of reptilian anus that shyly formed; but the zenith of her more protected parting of feminine scale did nothing to alert Valence to its throbbing dismay, taking a bruising that wouldn’t be visible through her scale so quickly. Ki`rene’s unique wince when he tried his little trick just encouraged him to do it more, seeing that ever-lifting stretch of her body fall into a writhing curl as if she was guarding a great pain in the lowest of her belly – one of those plowing blows returning across the base of her tail thrice after, seemingly faster than Valence had achieved before in gracing her tail-base’s crimson little hint of tailhole with the paddle’s brisk whipping, seeing it a shade of a color that stung just to look at.

[Maaaaaaaaaaa’… !]”, came out in Ki`rene’s furious, piercing screaming in a way that sounded like an actual syllable inside of her Drakonian roar. Rah`veia’s claws lifted uneasily with a weak parting of her maw, struck with such instinctive emotion if that truly had been an intentional screech for her mother… and if she meant her or Sally, by it. It broke Rah`veia’s heart to hear that and not leap to her feet to the sound of a frantic child… Penitatas or not be damned.

The poor thing roared herself hoarse with all her will – something Ki`rene Dal`krest had a lot of, whether others liked it or not. She felt those blisters pulling and separating between moist tissue and scale, only to be struck and ripped into spreading further… white hot all over, with a cutting sting that felt like a pair of pliers was grabbing at her scales with each blue blur of the dragon-paddle. Battered and scorched to the prickle of those tiny ulcers, the spots of liquid-filled scale that could be seen paled in comparison to the clusters hidden beneath her scales entirely, quickly growing with every slap of the paddle, and tick of the clock. Pains that hurt before multiplied several times over once those scales began turning shades of crimson so dark they were edging on purple, marred by red dots from the dragon-paddle’s teeth and a frayed haze from the implement’s sheer speed making a mottling of pure, unadulterated sting. It was like being cut into, but not able to move away from it… paralyzed with your own boiling nerves. The shame of sounding like a newborn hatchling wasn’t a thought in Ki`rene’s mind when such a thrashing was so frighteningly rough, and excruciating beyond any true compare.

As her throat howled itself raw, rasped by her own crying and stiffened, sore chest, Ki`rene’s attempts to fight against the horse dulled with her beaten exhaustion… her legs clubbed to the point they didn’t have it in them to kick and resist. But, as a judicial paddling, the brisk ‘whop!’-ing did not stop against her, knocking her hips about; her shoulders and head wiggling and rocking with every spank. It was meant to go on long after a breaking point. Spittle drooled down the red pad toward the carpet, followed by hiccuping, breathless wails.

It hurt. So – bad.

Cleaved down the middle and split across her sides, Ki`rene’s body convinced the back of her mind that she was physically injured. He beat her broken, with the stroke count obviously in the hundreds without even having the mental faculties to count the man’s torturous strikes of something that shouldn’t have ever been able to sting so severely. A thick paddle cracked against her at the speed of lightning would do that though, just as she saw it happen to Aubrey; the worst of her sting-blisters shaped and gathered so similarly beneath that whitish-purple haze her scales had assumed. It was a sizzling acid atop a percussive throb, glowing just like the dragon-paddle that struck her, again and again…

That is, until a visceral sting shot her eyes open to the sickened narrowing of her pupils in an instant, gasping sharply to a pain greater than one could scream for.

Interrupting her impulsive, uncontrollable sputtering of tears, a brisk rap of the paddle across her right hip made no louder a sound than it did the several times it spanked her the seconds before. Valence’s wrist flicked no more skillfully, or spanked her any harder. What hit Ki`rene, was the breath-robbing blade of a tiny ripping tear; one of those blisters unseen splitting open to suddenly strike the air and become a wet, sharp little wound beneath the blow. In wake of the swat, locking up her entire leg to the agonizing sting, the shimmer of fluid wept out from under one of her scales as her hip snapped back to shape from being slapped, forming a ring around its partly lifted rim. The screaming squeal that bolted from her throat rolled into that of a deeply lamenting cry of pity, carving gouges into the Drakon Horse with her claws to the spray of her own babyish spittle in the paddle not ceasing its foray.

She needed to plead for Valence to stop. For anyone to make it all stop. Please, before-… !

Again, a blister beneath her hide ruptured to the splitting peel of scale, showing the sheen of pink flesh for a fraction of a second as a few droplets of clear fluid spattered in the retreating swing of the paddle’s face. That scale in particular might have flapped loosely back into place, but a prompt followup swat felt like slapping an open gash with all the might of a grown human, maltreating the fresh flaying of her hide.

It was exactly what she did all of this for. What she wanted to save everyone from. To Valence, it was only right that Ki`rene experienced exactly what she rebelled against, seeing this being the end result of a judicial paddling. They’d not just blister – they’d keep going, stinging those stings until they spilled upon the skin, and the judicial dragon-paddle let it happen the same as if the drake were human.

Ki`rene could hardly screech, falling into a guttural, reptilian growl of a cry… like Kayla or Zachary quietly letting off an Aspatrian howl when there was no more left to scream. Wailed upon swat after another, the choking shocks of having broken blisters paddled worsened as more ripped to the physical abuse; those hazy patches of her most worn, mangled saurian scale all starting to shimmer between their seams. Droplets showered to the floor with Valence’s knowledge, watching the streaks and spatters of blister fluids to Rah`veia’s mortification behind. Knowing very well this was a hundred times worse than anything she’d ever consent to, and actual injuries, her sympathies as another beneath a paddle’s scorn had her claws over her snout, hanging her head and watching as if she felt guilty. In reality, she was using her claws to hide the fact she was crying; Sally keeping a claw on her leg for support. Blisters were awful enough, but to hear Ki`rene cry like she was hurt

Made Montgomery breathe more laboriously, distinctly reddened along her short hare’s snout. Fingers stirring with unrest against her crossed arms, that “firm hand” sat enraptured beneath her rigid exterior, far detached from the gloom across the aisle.

Thirty more briskly smacked strokes of the paddle was a quick, exhaustive task – and one that finally brought the hand upon Ki`rene’s tail to slide toward her back in Valence needing to brace himself, dropping the weightless paddle to his side when his arm could only do that for so many minutes without stopping. Catching his breath, the sudden loss of the paddle’s loud sounds brought a tense, surreal silence… Ki`rene’s whimpers so strange and abhorrent, and the loudest sound being the rapid jingle of the metal buckles that bound her. The Penitatas shook so violently, shuddering out of a nervous system and adrenaline rush to combat a pain her body was unable to suppress, mauled as it was without the endorphins it would utilize to protect the conscious mind within it. Just as the peaks of the dragon-paddle’s studs shined damply in the courtroom’s light, the overly spanked blisters her scales tried their best to protect dribbled from the places they had torn – more than a dozen of them shred to the blinding venom of open oxygen, and struck multiple times when so much as faintly grazing an open blister would make any person yelp. Both hips, right up to three clusters dotted across the base of Ki`rene’s tail, seeped watery serosanguineous fluid from beneath hurt, peeling scales; mostly clear with a tinge of orange from traces of blood. The swatting had one tainted droplet as far down as her left equivalent of a knee, rolling smoothly with all her leg’s muscles contracted in their quiver; her hips just a smear of shine, with a bit of fluid cresting over her tailhole from some scales just above the puffy, swollen reptilian slit.

Toward the floor, Ki`rene crumpled without vitality nor resolve in her restraints, dangling in her downward bow with a pained stare at the floor as she shook. Tears deluged unabated, no matter her odd gasps and gurgles… and in not being paddled any further, the passing seconds of nothing let her slowly break back down into a weak bawl that still had so much behind it, even in her lack of strength; a snarling moan turning into a subdued, infantile wail. Open mawed and dripping, it was the bitter sound of a shattered child.

“… I do believe that will be enough.”, Judge Valence officially declared of Ki`rene’s corporal sentence with the sigh of a good breath, swiping that bracing hand off of the drakeling he had punished. His right forearm feeling that of tightened elastic and rather sore, he tucked the pointy paddle carefully under his arm to turn and rub his muscles; the two officers from earlier coming right back over to unstrap their inmate.

This time the sensation of hands didn’t faze Ki`rene, finding the pain she was in to not ease very much in the absence of the dragon-paddle’s strokes. Hardly able to move in wake of all that, the freeing of her wrists made them fall tensely back into her child-sized cuffs as the judicial-grade paddle’s warble disappeared from her hearing and all her binding straps slowly began to fall away. It was calm until the broad strap that held her tail up high came down, causing the weight of Ki`rene’s own tail to pull and pinch at her tail-base’s blisters as it fell… something that brought quite the squealing, seething intake of air, shoving harshly off the Drakon Horse like she had been burned. That abrupt leap threw her saurian pelvis from the hike of the horse’s hind in what would have been a backward stagger, bringing the bulk of her muzzle with her… but the concussive pressure her right leg took in catching her weight brought her snout to snap open in a gigantic gasp against the metal shrouding it.

The weight-bearing muscles within her hip beaten to a bruised, internally bloody pulp, her poor limb right away folded in being unable to carry her through the piercing stab that shot through it. Literally paddled to the point she couldn’t stand, Ki`rene bounced off her Drakonian toes with a reptilian cry in her body’s rearward inertia back toward her punitive parents, hardly able to flip her bulk over before falling flat upon her saurian shoulder and cuffed claws; muzzled snout striking the floor to the shocked, hissing exclamation of Rah`veia, who threw herself from her seat to scoop up the Penitatas that crumbled before her. It was no simple task to lift an eight year old Drakonian girl with their bigger size and dinosaur shape, but just as Rah`veia rolled Ki`rene mercifully off her open, red and shimmering hip blisters; bits of broken scale dangling like loose skin; a welcome sight of white came into her periphery with a rolled up sleeve, grabbing hold of that gunmetal muzzle’s tan straps.

I have a few things to add before I’ll adjourn this court.”, Judge Valence spoke over the affair with a waving lift of his empty right hand, leaving the shutdown dragon-paddle propped against his judicial bench in returning to business; that firm voice bringing the lift of his clerk’s datapad for official recording like well rehearsed choreography.

While her Firebottom One is in effect this next week, our collective duty is to ensure her constant and consistent corporal punishment. Keeping my paddling just as fresh as it is now will be up to you misses for the next seven days, and I will be making sure you receive specific orders before you leave regarding our expectations and requirements.”, those glasses of the man’s fell upon Sally and Rah`veia, splitting their attention amidst trying to loosen that Drakonian muzzle off Ki`rene’s face.

Though the sharp-minded justice’s agitations were lost in the catharsis of laying down the stricter laws of his bench’s purpose, choosing more collected tones than those he graced Ki`rene with, they still struck the wives with a note of serious warning in what laid in store for their household. A judicial paddling was a main course, surely, but came with the long trial of a just dessert afterward. The Firebottom series of drugs lasted a week on purpose, creating seven days of further heavy punishment at home – one of Emily’s “punishment weekend” styles of frequent domestic discipline carried out over a much longer period, and far harder, by decree of the Penitatas Justice Department.

Even as the metal cage slid free of her tear and spittle soaked scale, Ki`rene would be finding no reprieve… her usual harsh discipline would be applied on top of those knotted bruises and stinging wounds, treated like a naughty child in trouble at home. All without a single molecule of an endorphin.

But, if you’d notice my choice of words in saying collective’… this week of Ki`rene’s will begin where her path of insubordination and destruction started. First thing tomorrow morning, she is to be brought to school to answer for all she did there, and to accept her principal’s assigned correction all the others faced in the possible vandalism of Newstat Elementary. What I did today doesn’t excuse her a single lick of what she has earned elsewhere, Miss Montgomery.”, Valence’s pony-tail shifted against his robe in turning over to the Parssia upon his prosecution’s bench. Looking satisfied and with a brighter aura than she came in with, the Mistress of Fur rose to her sizable fluffy paws with an innocent-looking correction of her blouse top.

The corrective school system would be happy to oblige, your honor.”, actually came out of her muzzle with a more pleasant and agreeable ring to it, riding on her mood to provide the pillar of the Penitatas Justice System some further respect with the knowledge she’d get to do a little of what she just witnessed herself. She was another pillar just as he, after all.

Now that’s what I like to hear.”, Valence commended of that civic pride and what he viewed to be benevolent stewardship, especially after all of the things that were said between them.

Hoisted from the floor, the burden of Ki`rene’s dead weight was taken up by Rah`veia and Sally as a team, as unwieldy as trying to carry a big raptor hatchling was. Braced into a sagging drape between the two’s shoulders, her neck dangled with a hoarse, seemingly unrelenting lament, rasping and stumbling into leaps of hissing she was fighting to quell… even just a little, by the sound of the struggle. Rah`veia figured her throat must have ached from it all, tucking a bit of her neck against Ki`rene like a mother drake would for a smaller baby. She purred a reptilian hum, resonating it through her upper body; their traditional means of soothing a young one, shushing them with a comforting sound and vibration.

Cupping the rest of the eight year old’s saurian bulk into her two arms to put her Penitatas at a moment’s ease, Sally watched her wife provide that comfort she assured Ki`rene would want; released from the horse’s clutches and into the arms of those she knew. Close enough to see how bothered Rah`veia was with her eyelids wet and looking so commiserating, her typical stoic face melted to something more morose, wishing she was more adept at making things better. Hardly noticing the passing of long Parssian ears sweeping by into the center aisle for the courtroom door, too focused elsewhere to be distracted by the ardent woman’s empowered saunter, it wasn’t until something brushed across her that Sally Ulrich raised her head.

In Madam Montgomery’s wake, a muffled, slow, trilling sort of growl brought the hare to squint into a smirking grin; curiosity beckoning the turn of her head to meet eyes with the pitiful little drakeling that would look to blame her for her own misfortunes. The Parssia’s whiskers shifted in rattled surprise to find Ki`rene limply caught up in her own attentions, and that Karrians had the capacity to growl such a chirring threat in catching an infuriated dragon-like muzzle glaring at her instead. The passing of her figure brought a scent’s waft past Sally’s white nostrils… one she was innately familiar with, and took umbrage to.

“… You don’t think you liked that a little too much?”, Sally’s lower, gruffer tones grated her words through the points of her teeth at a hushed volume – a personal admonishment for the feminine bedroom allure Montgomery exuded to the air. Had she no shame? No guilt for her own role?

Keeping her voice down the same as Sally, Montgomery’s lofty, confident smile piqued to the show of fang.

I’ll like it a lot more later.”, she replied with the twisting taunt of her amusement, thinly veiling what she meant as a means of privately telling the lizard to take her bravado and piss off with it. With no more than the dismissive turn of her head, Newstat Elementary’s principal had her swagger headed down the courtroom’s length untouched and excited for tomorrow, without so much as a flesh wound to her pompous reputation as an infallible rock.

Agitated by behaviors so inexcusably cold and brazen, not to mention insulting, Sally’s reptilian muzzle-lip twitched with her teeth bared in shock for the solitary moment she was permitted before Judge Valence’s wandering words spoke back up for their attentions.

For now, I’ll see to it that the three of you are directed to the rejuvenation wing of the courthouse. While we would simply throw your typical Penitatas into a diaper to protect their bothersome little blisters – and Ki`rene is no exception, mind you – there’s the matter of those hips needing proper bandaging for safety’s sake, since they’d not be covered otherwise. The technicians are versed in first aid and standard medical care, and will show you how to remove and exchange the bandages for further paddling.”, he prattled on in his proper directives, becoming a mixture of his grandiose progressive speech and disciplinarian alike with the trio he had left, nodding for the two officers to join the scaled mothers in their preparation to leave. It was a taste of how heavily harsh the coming days would be, suddenly thinking of taking off bandages just to…

[… I’ll nev-… ]”, so laboriously hiccuped, airily reptilian in the muffled quiet behind and between Sally and Rah`veia. The unexpected interjection, though sputtering and lost, stunned the motherly pair and Valence into staring at the cracked hint of reddened, ailing yellow eye trying to peek out from against the scales of her Drakonian parental figure.

[… Never forgive y-you… not for as long as I live… ]”, Ki`rene dredged enough of her frayed, scratchy voice through to the surface of her sobs, forcing out her own ‘final verdict’ to Judge Valence with difficulty… little else other than sad and pained, though still having anything to say at all after what had been done to her was enough to bring Valence pause. A shift of his nose followed the hike of his upper lip.

Have her nano-web looked at while you’re at it. I think it needs to be… adjusted, like the rest of her attitude. We’re adjourned.”, the blonde man added with a tone, summarily ordering as part of the technician’s assignment before the last stroke of his clerk’s typing hand set it in stone.

Ha!”, Montgomery gave as a tickled exclamation across the room, throwing her head back to her ear’s flop as she shoved the door aside and disappeared into the courthouse hallway on her way out.

A cake’s icing could be so sweet sometimes.

Carried in the arms of her mothers as they were shepherded by those with uniforms and ties, Ki`rene left behind judicial robes and the “comfort” of what had been an already suffocating life. It was too difficult for her young mind to comprehend when she was in insufferable pain. Every movement one of the adults made to her body jostled her exposed blisters or bone-deep bruises, shifting her about on the rejuvenation lab’s examination bed to cover her hips with sheets of gauze and tape – macabre as it was when modern medical equipment was at hand’s reach. Laying there in a persistent, stiffened curl, Ki`rene did little else than weep, even as her tail was swaddled in a protective Drakonian diaper they replicated for her on the spot; matching her older size, and announcing her gender with its outright Kindern pink highlights. It wasn’t like anyone other than Kindern wore them, but to not omit the pattern when replicating it was surely an intentional embarrassment. Ki`rene couldn’t have cared when she was already in such a low place, feeling pains that made her want to have frustrated crying fit… something she covered her snout with her cuffed claws for, stifling successfully until a warbling pass of a pen-like device over her saurian temple broke her back into uncontrollable blubbering. Her nano-web re-attuned to make her childish hesitations and natural inclination to cry more forefront, it left her feeling submissive and “punished” as a Kindern would feel after such harsh condemnation, jamming her face against Rah`veia to hide it once she could be picked up to be brought home.

Such brought the peace of calm, though the misery would remain as a looming cloud. The torment of how badly such a paddling’s aftermath would hurt was multiplied by her body not dulling any of it, constantly grating on her nerves to absolute distraction and unrest, even as she was placed back into her bed like she’d been hospitalized. There upon her favorite elemental creatures and their bursts of water and fire, laying on one battered hip or the other no matter which way she whimpered and rolled in upset; teeth perpetually bared in both pain and tumultuous sorrow, soaking her colorful pillowcase; Ki`rene began what she’d come to call “the week without a scarf.” There would be no time or place for social garments and fun, sentenced to every waking moment being a part of her discipline within the Ulrich’s walls… this bed rest she was placed in being more than just for her child-like exhaustion and agony, but because she’d not be playing or doing a single thing of her own accord until all was said and done, and her Firebottom One was up. It was an easy way to put the squeeze on a young rejuvenated person and rob them of any semblance of happiness, experiencing the passage of time the same as a real child at their age… seconds being such eternities, feeling the things she felt on the outside, and the horrible fretting things she lamented on the inside.

But, curiously, Ki`rene didn’t sniffle and quietly cry in her lonesome the way she figured she’d be abandoned for punishment’s sake while she “sobbed it all out.” Given shape only by the light bleeding in from the curtains she drew the night prior, Rah`veia curled up beside her bed and Gracie, staying with her for reasons that didn’t feel like she was there merely to supervise her staying in bed when she clearly couldn’t get up anyway. She’d come closer and purr for her when she got fussily squirmy from the pain, tucking her snout against her, and she helped feed her once Sally finally brought in some food. It felt… motherly, the way she didn’t wish to leave, and used such a soft claw, like she was compassionately worried for her sake. She even became a complaint-free diaper changer when inevitability struck, inviting her to “use the silly thing” in that it would be easier and a lot less awful than trying to carry her about the bathroom with a claw-full of blisters in all the wrong places.

That bed was her entire day until the evening, when the recuperative reprieve was brought to an end by Sally opening her bedroom door to the silhouette of a dragon-paddle in her claw. Rah`veia protested at a hissing whisper’s volume to please be allowed to simply chew Ki`rene’s tail a little when Ki`rene hid her face and mewled her sobs at the sight, but Sally took it slowly in pressing what they were required to do, patting her wife’s snout. Tail chewings could be mid-day punishments on the other days… but this was to refresh Valence’s paddling, and those hips needed a bedtime dose. Day one was just the one spanking after being paddled to shreds, but needing to be positioned and held by Rah`veia made it a daunting task that did not end quickly with the Penitatas’ desperate flailing. Her Karrian mother may have used only her standard paddle, and swung far below “Sally hard”, but there was nothing that could be done to Ki`rene that wouldn’t cause deafening screeching – the kind that had Mister Weyburn throwing Aubrey’s window open to the sight of a dark, drawn curtain, and a sad answer to his wonder of how the Ulrich’s day went. Ten strokes to each hip and her tail had the little raptor bawling in a saurian curl with Rah`veia, given all the attention she wished while Sally did the dutiful labors of re-bandaging Ki`rene’s freshly shimmering scale.

And when neither parent could find a restriction on nighttime use of a delta-wave inducer in the courthouse’s orders they were provided, skimming carefully over a data-pad as a unit, Ki`rene was happy to have it turned on for the first time in her life. Not that it worked so well against such severe pain, stirring through the night to such ominous, weighted silence.

The coming morning had Ki`rene easing onto her own hind-claws with Rah`veia’s help to see if some rest had improved the use of her legs. While the Penitatas was able to stiffly stand in a whole realm of irritating discomforts, a shuffling, tiny-stepped attempt to walk toward her bedroom door had Ki`rene squeak a pitiful growl before needing to be caught as her legs buckled beneath her. Judge Valence’s underhand paddle strokes bruised the lower half of her pelvis, making it feel like she had a jagged rock the size of a beach ball between her legs, jammed clear up her genital canal. It was more than a feeling too when the purple, bloody splotches went as high as her prepubescent ova chamber as if she had been kicked in her raptor-esque crotch a dozen times over, stabbing so harshly into her belly. Scooped up while she clutched at her stomach, seething through her teeth, Ki`rene was carried to the Ulrich hover-car where Sally was waiting – a woesome sort of mercy, fulfilling the court’s order for her to be brought to school without making her anxiously wait so much as an extra minute.

Despite the boon of being given a plain white diaper at home when her mothers were less teasing with their replicator choices to pad her chewed-up tail with, she’d not be spared any teasing for wearing it when she was carried by other Penitatas on their way to their first class that morning; so easily recognizable, lacking her scarf and hiding her face with her claws or not. There were few along the front walk when so many of the students arrived via hover-bus, but the hurtful things they could hurl on their way by wasn’t good enough for the sort of “parade” a certain hare wished to have. Waiting with a smile most confident and her tightest, most official looking clothing, Madam Montgomery intercepted the pair of parental reptiles in front of Newstat Elementary, twirling a Drakonian muzzle with a single furred finger.

Not stopping as she walked by the Parssia, refusing to look the woman in the eye, Sally snatched the muzzle right off the woman’s paw, and in one sweeping motion flung the bundle of metal rods up onto the roof of the nearest building – not a word, nor hesitation shared. That was one way to make even the Mistress of Fur flinch, slacking her jaw into a wounded expression with the collapse of her long ears flat against her back in being left momentarily behind, staring into the air.

She needed to give that back to the courthouse.

With a huff and a glint of fang ahead of her short muzzle’s few irritated wrinkles, Montgomery followed as rigidly as she typically did, pretending to still be collected and unfazed in following the trio to what was her own office as it was. Getting her claws on Ki`rene’s scruff by court order was a “treat” anew, after all, and once she commanded the two Misses Ulrich’s to stay put in the administrative lobby, she ensured it was written all over her splayed whiskers the sort of price their penny was about to pay.

Too afraid and punitively suppressed into obedience with all the things that had already been done to her nano-web weaved mind, Ki`rene said not a word as she was hiked over the thick, plush arm of the principal’s office armchair, opting to limply sob with all her teeth-bearing resentment. Feeling a victim of the system and that of her own stupid self, teased and chided on her way into the building by those she meant to shield, the butterflies within her grew violent to the carefully savored, tormenting tear of her Drakonian diaper’s tape, and those keeping her bandages against her hips, peeling away from her scale to the cool waft of wound-stinging air.

From its pegs upon her wall, Montgomery’s blistering-grade dragon-paddle came down for Newstat’s sole drake, promptly challenging the soundproof construction of the principal’s office with a guttural scream that could only come from the soul.

Methodically slow and precise, Ki`rene got exactly what the others did from her Board of Education, plus extra for her mouth, the destruction, and that promised “probability” that she truly was the culprit vandal, when Montgomery knew for a fact she wasn’t. Four dozen strokes later, the door to the principal’s office reopened to the wailing sound of a drake that could hardly catch a breath, glowing red through her scales from the tip of her snout to her ear-slits; jaw locked open in a drooling, gasping hysteria. Sally and Rah`veia were surely going to be carrying their Penitatas for longer, noticing a multitude of blisters upon Ki`rene’s dark red-purple hide than there were before; those overly spanked parts of her so thick, splotchy, and mottled with strange ashy whites. There were more trails of clear fluid to be patted dry, including a more obviously blood-tainted smear lost through the wrinkled folds along the base of Ki`rene’s tail… something Rah`veia did with an upset look she didn’t care to hide.

With nothing to the semblance of a cordial goodbye, Principal Montgomery officially suspended her Drakonian pupil for the duration of her court-appointed punishment period and sent the gaggle of reptilian women on their way; all more than happy to leave, with Sally not giving the hare so much as the time of day. So while Ki`rene would have no choice but to fail any assignments that came out in school due while on suspension, the justice department still mandated that she complete her daily ‘ethics and morals’ class assignments they put out… meaning her line writing, including the Diaspora ones she missed out on.

It formed the entirety of her week at home, to so many cries and pleas. Paddled or chewed no fewer than twice a day, every single waking moment was either standing in the corner, recovering in bed, or sitting in her wooden Drakonian dining room chair at the table to do all of her make-up line writing… a horrifically painful task even with a diaper’s protection. Using real paper instead of her school desk’s built-in tablet, she had to be careful not to smear the old graphite with drips of tears, squirming and so unable to be any semblance of still. She’d beg for Sally to please not make her do anything… she couldn’t. Her legs said no, and everything hurt so badly. That Sally couldn’t even understand how bad it hurt… no one could – and it was hardly getting any better each day. All the Karrian could do was scold as lightly as she knew how, and usher Ki`rene to do as they all needed.

Without play, or any fleeting speck of anything that wasn’t a horror, it was seven days of routine torture one would fight with every inch of their being to never have occur to them again. Rah`veia cuddled with her and soothed her the best she could, and even curled up beside her corner when she could get away without being too harshly reminded of her required behavior by Sally, but there was only so much anyone could do when their duty was to punish Ki`rene as legally required… it wasn’t like they could slip something by Valence when the courthouse had a clerk showing up at their door randomly to check on their progress, and their Penitatas’ haunches for medical safety’s sake.

And when her bedroom light turned on at night for her day’s final paddling, just like the first, Aubrey and her father would wait at their window to see if any teary-eyed drakeling would come to see them… but alas, she’d never come when the room fell dark and somber once more.

When the sun finally rose upon a day different from the rest, the rousing rub of a claw prying her from the delta-inducer’s clutches brought the sensation of her diaper having been pulled loose. Sally and Rah`veia were already half way through slathering nano-lotion all over her hindquarters… the ordeal all over, and her suspension from school coming to an end. Rah`veia was all smiles and chittering cheer, trilling her Drakonian syllables all about in getting to tell Ki`rene that she served her time, and like a little trooper she had made it to the end. That everyone knew she was sorry, and to chin up, because today would be her own – Aubrey ready and willing to have a friend over, and she’d be able to play and be herself again without worry. She was rather unsubtle in letting slip that there would be nothing punitive hidden in wait, encouraging the drakeling to greet a life that waited for her to come back.

It was a motherly elation that slowly dulled with the passage of the morning, when the quiet little raptor failed to move from where she was curled up upon her bed… her bare hip and the trailing tuck of her tail against her haunch looking little better, when it should have been quickly healing. The residual effects of the nanite shutdown agents and the severity of her Penitatas’ punitive injuries forced Rah`veia to keep reapplying nano-lotion, eating through a day she wanted Ki`rene to have. It was unheard of to say a Penitatas that had been judicially paddled and done such wrong deserved such a nice day… but Rah`veia believed it. She was excited for it. To see the day go by and her still laying in bed when this was all meant to be over, brought the drake to wilt so apologetically for it all.

By the time the bulk of all the different dragon-paddle’s marks had faded and all of her surface wounds sealed with the reconstruction of her scales and connective tissue, Ki`rene was seated on the front step of her house, discolored along the sides of her legs from bruise remnants that looked like they hurt more than they actually did. Sky turning a young yellow-orange in the birth of evening, white claws wrapped her stain-cleaned sailor motif scarf around her neck; a traditional duty, with the harsher ones behind in having to take the lead as the “disciplinarian” all those days. Staring at the ground, the Penitatas just seemed so listless and tired, thankful to finally be sitting without feeling battered and flayed as far as her oviduct. Her attentions short, she didn’t pay Sally’s work upon her neck much mind until the last folding tucks of the long accessory… feeling something heavy about the last few motions, lifting her head to the firm pat of her young back in her mother setting her loose.

In the retreat of Sally’s footsteps, Ki`rene curiously reached up to the lower part of her neck, and in feeling some sort of light little brick, slid the object out of the soft clutches of the scarf’s synthetic cotton. Swept cleanly into claw and before the yellow of her eyes, the drakeling stared… stiffening the saurian rim of her maw, and in time, curling it into a quiver.

It was the handheld video game player she didn’t think she’d ever see again – her creature training title right where she left it.

But, in breaking down into a sharp, high pitched growl of a reptilian sob, Ki`rene lowered her neck until her forehead came against her favorite toy. The Penitatas didn’t fall into a crying fit simply because it was an act of kindness from those unexpected, and a powerful way of telling her that she wasn’t an awful brat after all. The little things in life had the capacity to remind of all the things that had been lost. In that moment, all of the trauma and sadness came back to her in reflecting upon the last seven days now that her mind wasn’t awash with excruciating pain… all the unfair things done to her, her sentencing, and the wrecked future that came from being thoughtful, and trying her best. All those years of her existence. So, so many years; this life becoming her next forever.

Those closest to her wished for her to rebound. To smile, and play again. She didn’t have it in her.

Without a single ray of sunshine, robbed of everything that made her a confident gentle giant, Ki`rene cracked her maw open and began to bawl her eyes out. She cried like something had died. In a sense, something did.

A pair of arms wrapped around her saurian torso, and a snout appeared against her neck and scarf… scales that didn’t feel as shinily smooth as usual, and with a calm, strong sense of their own. With a firm hug, it seemed Sally didn’t leave her side after all. Maybe she had a feeling she shouldn’t.

“… I’m sorry kiddo.”, she fought back against the anguish, giving the blessing of an honest word without care to whether she should say such a thing or not. For all the things she had said, and all the things her claws had done, not knowing how to make things better and be that kind of mom be damned – she was going to try.

Wounded in ways that couldn’t be whisked away by nano-lotion, those who knew Ki`rene best all extended a wing for the heartbroken Penitatas in the aftermath of what befell her. Aubrey ended up having her work cut out for her, though it was excessively easy to forgive such a misty-eyed sad-sack of scales. Ki`rene’s heart had been in the right place, and when that couldn’t have been said for everyone else, her parental figures all developed an opinion of their own; that sly little penny overhearing quite a few colorful nicknames for Principal Montgomery and Judge Valence both out of her mothers. Mister Weyburn gave her an uncharacteristically wide berth for a first-cycle hard time Penitatas, dropping his public punishment displays entirely until the healing effects of time could uplift a little spirit back into his favorite scarf model; his “discussion” about her choices becoming a paltry three raps of a claw-swatter across her knuckles, just to say he did something when he gave her the lightest, yet longest lecture she had ever heard.

Even as normalcy began to reappear in her life, Ki`rene saw changes she didn’t anticipate beyond the ire of her classmates and teachers. The enema bag that had hung from the shower rod in her bathroom came down, and Sally would only bring it out a handful of times further during her time as an Ulrich. In ways that reminded her of Mister Weyburn, shrunken into a saurian slink with her claws wrung, they always came with a lecture as to why she was hanging it, and what earned it – the water-logging of her hind becoming a time for harsher lessons of words to be followed by swats of a paddle, and far less intrusively than before. There was always a gentle push, and a warning to precede it… Sally seeming to have changed, and trying new things as parenting became a thing under her roof. The teasing, the being made to ask for punishments – it all slipped away quietly. In time, it brought back Rah`veia’s cheery voice she heard the day her judicial punishment was up, finding it rather nice to be an attentive, supportive mom beyond just having Sally’s back… the Karrian made her wife proud, just as she promised.

They were a team like that even for the worst of days, like when that dreaded Thanksgiving landed upon Ki`rene. Already terrified out of her mind from being traumatized by her judicial paddling, the poor drake needed a lot of reassurances that she’d be alright while justice department officials gathered around her pillory to place her whip’s lashes as precisely and closely together as they could manage after Sally took the gut punch of having to do the rest; far more than she was comfortable with. Poor girl was knotted and red all over, and they kept needing breaks just to calm her down. The other families with their Penitatas wondered where the Ulrich’s picnic blanket was, much less all their food… didn’t those lesbian ladies want to sit and eat once they were done being quite so preoccupied with their little twice-convict?

And while her Christmas was excessively awful when it was merit based, she was pleased to find Mister Weyburn was a gentlemen of his word when the rest of the district survived their doubled ‘special day’; Aubrey able to say so with her own words that very night in uncomfortably wishing a teary “Merry Christmas” from window to window. Her father thought it would be a good thing for Ki`rene’s worried conscience. He refrained from showing what Aubrey’s backside actually looked like, though. The rest of the district gave her a dissimilar ‘thanks’ when they all returned to school, pelting her with vicious insults and hatred until time mended those wounds as well.

In its unending flow, second by second; a troubling report card one month, to a fun family vacation with a sore tail the next; the stream of consciousness that enveloped life brought her to a morning just under two years later, when a harshly paddled birthday-drake stood before a judge as a ten year old, sent back to the rejuvenator for another cycle of hard time as anyone could have guessed. So soon after being spanked by both Sally and Rah`veia, they were graced with the rare, sweet sight of a Penitatas that wanted to give her faithful moms one last hug as the name ‘Ulrich’ faded from her. They became her favorite parents in the hindsight of history, right up there next to Mister Weyburn… heck, they even stopped inviting Scott to her birthday party when she explained why he made her so uncomfortable, and how that didn’t jive with a few feelings of her own.

Oddly though, the judge that day never mentioned taking away Thanksgiving. Little did Ki`rene know then, that none ever would.

Slipping free of their arms and scales, joining an officer in the courthouse with a wave over her scarf-swathed shoulder, she parted ways with those she’d miss. Out another door in several minutes, she’d be five years old and with a new surname… the one she’d hate the most, ending up with a pair of humans that treated her like an exotic spankable pet for her second cycle. Rigid to the point of stifling unfairness, seemingly never able to do right by them, she’d be duly reminded of what a hover-cam sounded like, as well as practiced, seasoned penny-teasing under a roof that would become a long, drawn out nightmare of painful hardships.

Until repeating the process again five years later, cautiously peeking around the edge of the door leaving the rejuvenation lab that time until squealing at discovering she was Ki`rene Weyburn; the portly old man standing there with his wife – a wonderful thing with all the public corporal punishment drawbacks that went with having that fatherly man at her side. Sally and Rah`veia were right next door again, and jumped in to be her go-to babysitters in missing her right back.

But, the thing with time, rejuvenators, and immortality, was that the world was a constantly changing place.

There came the day Aubrey went to the courthouse just the same as they always did at their cycle’s end, but returned the same age with the ever-endeared markings of a Completatas upon her hands. Sweet, liberating parole. Ki`rene grabbed her hands and jumped up and down with her, carrying on like a human girl of nine would to the bouncing splay of her scarf.

Though when her own time came, it was right back to hard time again. As the years went by, punitively serving each day, Ki`rene began to see a world that turned without her.

She’d not see her best friend for long once she left the grades Newstat Elementary could provide, and made new friends her own age. A teenager didn’t need a perpetually little raptor’s play, nor the cumbersome rules stifling the air around a Penitatas. Aubrey grew up, and by nature, lost touch.

Mister and Misses Weyburn rejuvenated together as old as they were, putting their Penitatas District property “on hold” so they could be re-raised by volunteer parents trying to vie for a parenting license.

Sally and Rah`veia eventually moved away as they got older too, complaining about the blustery winters of the Great Lakes… visiting their familial-bonded Penitatas one last time to give a parting farewell before disappearing south to the land of palm trees and sand, better suited to a pair of reptiles.

Ki`rene found herself in the Penitatas Justice System for so long, she had to endure the disappearance of every single person she knew. Every friend she ever made – life moving on, leaving her dulling heart behind in its lonesome to be disciplined yet more. One school year, trudging into Newstat Elementary like it was her second home at that point, she discovered someone new had taken over as principal… the Mistress of Fur gone with the times, all without fanfare, ending what had become a constant feud with the hare trying to take the screws to her however she could.

Every time she stepped before a judge, it was the same thing, no matter who it was. These people who didn’t know how gentle and kind she could be, or how hard she tried to behave despite being frustrated with being a Penitatas, only looked at her record to pass their judgments upon her. Those screens built into their podiums made her look nothing more than a “bad penny”, no matter what she had placed into her blue column; her deeds and merit be damned. She was the drake that destroyed those Spankmasters, remorselessly attacking the very punishment she was supposed to be serving. Just some cold troublemaker that couldn’t stand authority. She was rubber-stamped back into hard time, again and again, right up until a hemming and hawing judge figured it was time to begin easing her back into society with soft time. Never seeing early parole and treated as if she didn’t deserve it, Ki`rene served every single cycle of her sentence – fifty years of wearing a ‘P’ before seeing the same ‘C’ she cheered Aubrey for decades earlier.

She was thrilled to no longer be faced with easily earned acts of pain and the restriction of a child’s prison, but her big day looked nothing like Kayla’s. There was no one left to jump up and down with her… and after everything she had faced, and for so long, her sunshine had dulled to being afraid to act out in ways like that anyway, even at ten. Following in the footsteps of those she knew and lost, she left the district and grew up with a family that was willing to take in a parolee. The pair of drakes were nice enough, but always a bit strict with her in ways she never felt warranted until she realized that keeping her from having fun also kept her out of trouble, bolstering their parenting license application with brownie points. When it came to feel like a boarding house the older she got, wondering if she was cursed in regard to people being distant with her, Ki`rene was happy to shed her classification letters and move away at the first second she could. Leaning on the vocational training the Penitatas Justice Department offered Completatas, she slapped herself with the title of ‘accountant’ in order to find such independence, becoming the legal third-party check-and-balance for all the automation and AI businesses used to balance their books – her job to validate them, ruling out illegal activity or software error.

In her little apartment, quiet and half empty, the inbox on her computer would deliver spreadsheets to so many colorful sprawls of numbers. She immediately hated it in practice, and always would, the trite monotony of trying to crunch numbers while she had Ninne down for a nap well into the far, far future, no matter how tired she was. Ki`rene just swallowed her work to pay for her home, and kept to herself as she felt safest.

She had a lot of solitude to reflect on what had been her life, and with the mature mind of an adult, found herself increasingly upset with it all in hindsight. Haunted by traumatic experiences and nagging memories, those forty years of hard time left an impression upon her that could have never been positive; the time an eternity to a weepy eyed little girl, spanked and scorned to the hurtful tune of others enjoying what they’d do to her. There was never any need for her to be shackled for so long, or put through some of the torments she could never forget – the torturous anxiety that would hit her in thinking of being bound in her judicial paddling once more, or the simple knowledge that she had faced forty visits of her Thanksgiving whip. All those special, harshly abusive days, and some parents that were anything but. So needless, and to such heartache she knew she didn’t deserve… especially at the cost of having had the world leave her so far behind.

After all that time, she went looking for her real parents she had left so long before. It was a trail of cookie crumbs she followed, from one public record to the next, until the trail seemingly departed the surface of the Earth. At some point, and without visit nor word, the two people who gave her life and the name ‘Dal`krest’ left for Drakon or some other Drakonian colony, leaving the mistake of this world behind – including who they hatched, she imagined in her abandonment. They didn’t get to see who she became, or hear the apologies she wanted to shower them with; her arrest sixty-one years prior, and those two likely children again somewhere under a different star, living a life that didn’t include their daughter after all these ages. They’d never even recognize her.

Ki`rene couldn’t stand it, and no amount of therapy eased her contempt for the complacent system that put her through every horrible punishment ever written for her honest mistakes, right up to the loss of her family. Joining ex-Penitatas support groups on her computer for a little helpful comfort, she soon discovered that the world was filled with many ‘Scott the Voluntarus’ sorts by those who would post on the boards, perturbed to see just how many felt similarly intentional brushes across inappropriate places in the passing of a hand. Others like Madam Montgomery, taking things too far without care for the well being of those standing beneath their height. Those familiar sentiments over holo-cams watching their most vulnerable, shameful moments of what was meant to be their penance – that thing they were being forced to do because they lived in a proper moral society. The world at large couldn’t see the double standard beyond the invisible walls of those centralized Penitatas towns, tucking the incarcerated purposely out of sight, and without change, there would always be more scarred adults for her support groups to console.

It made her want to do something, and be that person she wished would have ripped her from Judge Valence’s wooden horse.

As life would have it… that’s exactly who she became.

Keeping up with those ex-penny forums to become their leading ambassador over the years, eager as she was to help, her daily routine of checking on them between financial spreadsheets brought her to stumble upon a whisper most curious on the New Years Day of 2788. A Penitatas district in the North American south was reportedly seeing the unfathomable – a coordinated protest from its hard time Penitatas population. Someone, and somehow, got the majority of the district to agree to disobey any orders their parental figures gave them, and instead reply to them all with one simple message, all so it would gain the signal boost needed to escape the invisible walls of their punitive community to be heard by the world at large.

I am not an object.”

Ki`rene was flabbergasted, filled with both pride and painful dread for all those rejuvenated souls calling out. Their defiance would mean a lot of tears. For the eldest upon who it was allowed, surely blisters for how bad they’d cop it for staging such a thing.

It worked with certainty though when her forums collapsed into boisterous disarray from all the outside traffic, flooding their pages with snippets of news material and word that other district’s Penitatas were getting wind of it and joining in. It was a peaceful wildfire of insurrection… something the protest’s organizer never imagined when the plan was hatched within the halls of his elementary school, demanding better for his fellows and classmates. Before that rebellious courage could be traced back to the charismatic Penitatas that had the unforeseen ability to start a reform movement, not even knowing his name, Ki`rene and other ex-Penitatas rose up to meet his call, taking ample opportunity of the media’s coverage of the unrest to say the things they had been saying all along.

With enthusiasm, Ki`rene swept her car’s key-fob into claw and went out her door to talk to anyone she could think of. Those hard timers would not be alone in their battle – she’d fight right alongside them!

And with those like her, the uprising ingrained into history gained a second front, just as soon as it was born.

As a grown, aging woman, a fifty-one year old Ki`rene wasn’t going to be as easily dismissed as an often voiceless Penitatas; those old tropes of their words being untrustworthy still a common sentiment, as well as their complaints being little more than childish tantrums against their fair, just punishment. Drakonians seeing shorter lifespans than their fully-upright bipedal counterparts, the drake wasn’t as smooth scaled as she once was, gaining the fine lines and wrinkles of a sweet old dinosaur in her lifetime since shedding her silver ‘C’s. A fair few of them clustered into the ridges of her still vibrant yellow eyes, softening her face with an elder’s depth and character. Spry as ever and still in fine health with modern medicine; drakes usually making it into their eighty’s before planning to rejuvenate; Ki`rene was pleasantly surprised to be offered a holovision interview when she swung by the region’s broadcast station to inquire about merely lending perspective and making a statement. She might not have had a silver tongue, but there were more attention-catching traits to her than simply being an exotic off-world creature that stood taller than others.

She was a drake that wore clothing like a human, when such a thing was still culturally unheard of. And, bigger than that, when she opened her maw, panglish came out. Ki`rene could talk.

Embracing all the things that made her different and who she was, Ki`rene’s lack of going out to mingle and engage in things she found to be silly gave her a little extra side income to consult her own tailor while keeping up her habitual vocalization practice. Living alone and working from home gave her all the time she needed, making her a true gentle giant in both appearance and sound. Grown into being a thoughtful and calm woman, her polite and friendly mannerisms made her seemingly ideal to be placed in front of a holo-camera… a thing she could do with confidence, knowing she had shown far worse things to holo-cams in the past. Life itself had trained her for that moment – the very institution she rallied against.

With a scarf like she used to wear on Easter long ago, matching her eyes to the compliment of bright attire, she sat through an interview using her claws in gesture no differently from the human asking her questions, smiling with her striking uniqueness as she spoke of the sorts of parents these Penitatas were asking for, thinking of the Ulrich’s and Weyburn’s. That kind older drake spoke of the positive things these young people were trying to reach, and that it was not some sort of dastardly trick on their part when they were surely experiencing a lot of hardship for the stance they’ve chosen to take against those disciplining them. She was nothing but charming in that sense, until revealing that she too had been a Penitatas; a thing most would never say aloud once it was stricken from their public record. Not looking nor acting the envisioned part of a convict, her next breaths detailed just how long someone like her spent in the system… and as the thought of it made viewers innately squeamish, she garnished it with more unfortunate truth.

What it felt like to be filmed for someone else’s enjoyment, to the idea that you deserved no better. What it felt like to be used like that, punished at your expense, instead of for your own good. The things that could be done to your vulnerable, sensitive little self, so long after you were sorry.

And, without temper nor malice, placed one claw over the other and said that it was time for change.

Ki`rene became a public relations nightmare for the Penitatas Justice Department, just by being herself – the scale-clad softy with a motherly voice painting the picture of what could befall anyone, no matter how good or decent, to be declared guilty of wrongdoing.

Looking as if she had been mistreated by a system that snatched her up as a Kindern, going overboard in ways warranting question, Ki`rene was offered further opportunities to speak in wake of her sweet success. It made her usually dark apartment’s vid-phone light up with activity, and that same night, come alive to a sight that made her brighten into an expression of outward elation she hadn’t felt cross her snout in so many years. It was another Drakonian with the same subtle wrinkles of their fifty’s, right alongside a white scaled Karrian that could apparently look the same as she could recall; tough, yet with a cheerful, amused little smirk to her muzzle. Sally and Rah`veia recognized her on the news without even needing to hear her name to the dead giveaway her scarf made, and with a few calls, tracked down their old Penitatas from a different lifetime for Sally to provide a token of support.

In case anyone wanted to clash with Ki`rene over her claims, Sally transmitted the entirety of her holo-cell recording chips from Ki`rene’s time as an Ulrich before she put the holo-cam to the wayside. Those dusty home movies were irrefutable proof of the time she served, and how rough they were with her then; willing to shame that of her own claw, should Ki`rene need such help in her newfound mission. Transforming the same videos Ki`rene spoke against into purposeful evidence, every holo-cell that she plucked from her vid-phone after transmission was broken by her brawny thumb and brushed into the trash by Rah`veia’s happily waiting claws, making right of those old films together.

Ki`rene became armed with the encouragement of those who would come to stand in her corner, and regained the Ulrich’s back into her life. Rising to the occasion, she pushed forward as an activist for reform, setting her on a collision course with history once she became the endearing icon of the outspoken adults. In seeking to protect those smaller than she; a piece of her that would remain as timeless as her heart; all of the stress and push-back Sally saw coming still ended up making one of the happiest, most incredible months of Ki`rene’s long life. Breaking out into the world at large with a reborn sense of purpose, she got to see so many wondrous places, and meet some truly wonderful people.

Her meaningless scraping of financial spreadsheets fell to the wayside, and in time, a warm, wrinkling drake found herself smiling contentedly up at the biggest, most ornate skylight she had ever seen. The panes of so many shapes all converged to a dome within a crown molding of white granite, peering up at the dancing, swirling brush of powdery snow and the greater picture of dark sky beyond; the tall buildings nearby so barely able to be seen in the snowstorm. Pleasantly optimistic butterflies converged upon her chest to the sound of a grand, sprawling atrium filled with a chorus of voices bouncing around its ostentatious display of carved stone trims, dulled only by the multitude of colorful flags hanging from its walls. The bright floor brimmed to capacity before the imposing doors to the legislative chamber beyond its back wall, setting the stage for a day that would live unbeknownst in historical infamy.

That momentous occasion was January 24th, of the year 2788.

By then a certain doctor was long since among the stars on his first trip through life, but in that moment in time, Ki`rene knew a different sharp-minded little fellow.

Grandma Scales!”, called through the crowded ambiance of voices, boyish and enthusiastic to the perking of Ki`rene’s features. Her bright eyes left that snowy skylight, pivoting on a hind-claw to the source of the sound in a heartbeat; a young human that lifted his hand into a wave above his rusty blonde hair, stepping through a split in the crowd.

Richie!”, the tender drake happily greeted in her familiarity; demeanor reminiscent to what those in the future would come to know, set in place as the person she became.

Dressed in the leather, fluff-collared bomber jacket the eight year old liked wearing in these colder places, the young gentleman's silver ‘P’ flashed against the freckled white of his skin as that hand fell gracefully from his side. Hair combed into a neat tuft upon his head likely by his own diligent fingers, trying to look his best all on his own, there was so little about his movements and vocal mannerisms that seemed that of his physical age; such a strong man in a tiny stature, brimming with a comfortable, confident presence beneath such an unassuming, kind-looking exterior of a little Irish boy’s. Charismatic by nature, he was the sort to speak up as a lawyer on the side of others, and speak out in his impassioned hindsight of his own last twenty years as an incarcerated child. Even though becoming identified as the original protest’s catalyst brought him to be reprimanded dearly for the mass “misbehavior” he had incited, the flood of attention that one demonstration caused prevented those above him from hiding he and his message away when journalists descended upon his parent’s doorstep, and the Penitatas Justice Department’s in kind. In the reassuring aura he continued to wear about himself, he didn’t regret the sacrifice of his own skin as the boy who lead the charge his fellows all hoped for, holding a vision for a better life beneath the sentences they served.

He was Richard McDaft, the orchestrator of defiance.

Always good to see you, sir.”, Ki`rene’s claws found one another beneath the drape of her salmon, snowflake patterned scarf as she lowered her snout to a thoughtful height for her smaller compatriot; those scarves a recognizable symbol of the adult activists after wearing them to every appearance and rally. The both of them de facto leaders of their own groups, it was incidental fate that the two would wind up together in the same building a good handful of times when all the initial media coverage drove them to new places meeting him much to Ki`rene’s pleasure, even if her polite, revering greetings continued to make Richard smile awkwardly.

You’re one of the only people in the world that would ever fathom calling me ‘sir’. There are plenty that would hit me for hearing you say that.”, came from that boy’s mouth in a way so unlike the pitch of his voice, unmistakably older and well spoken. No one called Penitatas such titles, especially each other, and made for an easy quip. His making light of the imagined scene of ‘Sir Penitatas’ needing some “humbling” brought Ki`rene’s mostly-trained throat to rumble a faintly reptilian chuckle.

What can I say, I know who’s the brains of this operation. This is your movement, and your big day. Bet you’re feeling pretty proud, after everything you’ve been through to get here.”, she talked that compliment up into the warmth of praise from where she stood, having gotten to know and collaborate with him as she did.

Surrounded by the troves of ex-Penitatas and public that came out in support of him, filling that grand place, Richard had been summoned to speak before the people that could make real changes to the Penitatas Justice System. His persistence placing the ‘powers to be’ under such scrutiny, they had little choice than to permit such a formal spectacle before the world when the whole affair didn’t blow over, and Penitatas were continuing to civilly disobey directives to their misery. With the hearing meant to satisfy the public, it would become Richard’s platform to put forth his ideals for a new way, and what of the old needed to disappear in how a hard timer would be raised… something he beamed the same as Ki`rene over, stopping to slip his hands into the front pockets of his brown, fleece-lined jacket in his longing, surreal look over the endless clustering of people in that spacious atrium.

He paused, long and hard, just to absorb it all.

I’m feeling thankful, is what I’m feeling. Really, I wouldn’t have gotten any further than anybody else that stuck their neck out if it wasn’t for you and the others. You lent a lot of legitimacy to what we were trying to get out and say, just by telling your own stories and assuring that we weren’t lying. All this support is incredible, seeing everyone here.”, he put that appreciation and extension of credit where it was overly due, regardless of how modest his Drakonian colleague wished to be about how helpful they all really were.

Despite having a hopeful message, calling for accountability and proper guiding figures, there had been plenty of resistance from correctional caregivers and department officials. Those talking heads claimed that it was all an “agenda” aimed at making their criminal justice system “soft.” When Richard said there was something abnormal about his current home, feeling unsafe, the things he noted were shrugged off as the mundane, everyday things hard timers face. Ki`rene had it no easier when she was often paired up in live debates with these people as a grown adult; Richard watching the tense exchanges on the nightly news with his irritated parents not far from arm’s reach. She really did have to release some of the video clips she acquired, shown heavily censored or as audio only, just to stop being called a phony waving a false flag.

If it wasn’t for the concerted fight against it all, Richard could have seen his attempt to rally flounder into the silence his parents and district officials wanted. They didn’t want the stigma and embarrassment, much less the dismantling the little lawyer had been advocating. His next Christmas would have simply devolved into institutionalized retaliation when his “merit” was quantified by a faceless official, seeing his efforts for good tallied into the misdeeds that weighted his stocking down with more coal.

In hindsight of the struggle it took to get Richard to this point, Ki`rene brought those claws of hers up, hugging her scarf to her fluffy, sweater-clad breastbone; looking quite that of the grandmother Richard nicknamed her as when he realized he’d not be flayed for being so loose and casual in her presence.

I can’t say I can play politics, the way this has all turned out… but I’m glad to help in the ways I know how. Calling out the abuse we all faced at one point or another is the least my coalition of ex-Penitatas groups could do, to make sure something good came from what we experienced.”, Ki`rene rounded out their thoughts more simply than Richard’s innate speaking abilities generally did, never wanting the system to turn its back on a desperate Penitatas the way it did her again. When politics were all that was left on the table, Richard’s lips smacked with a distrusting flick of his hand toward the legislative doors across the atrium.

If I can get them to listen to me. We’ve worked on this together enough for you know how this song and dance with anyone who thinks they’re important goes, and this is going to be the Corrections Counsel and Continental Legislature. You don’t really get any high-and-mightier.”, his young voice gained a sprinkling of smooth, realistic cynicism against the challenge facing him, sliding that hand back into the light fleece of his bomber jacket.

You earned their ear. This did happen because they wanted to hear from you.”, Ki`rene felt prudent to encouragingly remind. Richard merely lifted his brows and scoffed a hint of a laugh.

To save face, Scales.”, he corrected with a tidy little truth, grinning in his older flavor of self-confidence before letting his cavalier gripe melt with a quick, zippy sigh.

I’ll be giving it my all. Biggest case of my life.”, Richard rekindled his upbeat attitude with a more assuring pitch for the reptilian woman that scraped her way here the same as he, despite being the far younger one between them. He knew he was being counted on, and that happy-to-work face always charmed Ki`rene’s heart.

Do you want to talk through any of your plans? Or maybe have a message I could relay to the troops?”, the elder drake shifted toward the collaboration they usually attempted when they crossed paths, speaking of the other ex-Penitatas she guided in assistance. Ki`rene did enjoy being a board for the intelligent rejuve to bounce conceptual talking points by so he could internally write his speeches, and her face was a much friendlier one than the scowls he’d soon be facing within a chamber bigger than the courtrooms he was familiar with.

Just as quickly as he tended to speak, Richard lowered his brows with a tipping of his head; a hand flipping free of his pocket as if to say, “not so fast.”

I think we should discuss a matter more pressing, first.”, young Mister McDaft stressed with an odd note of spirited ease to his voice, despite trying to sound consternated over some serious affair. Ki`rene’s lowered head had but a moment to assume a curiously questioning look before Richard’s other hand slipped part way from the beige woolen fluff of its enveloping pocket, bringing the colorful peek of blue, galaxy-swirled plastic with the slide of his fingers. Letting his older counterpart through this past month get a glimpse of the small portable gaming device he cautiously flashed, having parents that would not have appreciated him bringing something fun to such a place…

“… How are they?”, Richard asked more quietly and playfully to the snout that was courteous enough to keep at his height, letting his facial features animate away from his wildly older mannerisms in asking about the combat team of creatures he traded over to an unexpected fellow trainer. The twin tips of Ki`rene’s forked tongue poked free of her maw, hissing a peppy snicker as she curled her neck away from her side and reached back to pat an obvious lump in the pocket of her cream slacks, resting against her saurian hip; that colorful creature fighting series something she still played, always at least a little young at heart.

I’ve been a dragon tamer for the better part of a century, I’ll have you know. Your couple of whelps will be in a place to obey your combat orders in a few more days I think, at your level and type-bond.”, that claw left her tailored leg-wear with a joking gesture of boast, rattling off a seasoned player’s take on the training his dragon-class creatures were getting, and how soon she’d be able to get them back in a properly usable state for him. Her fellow reptiles with wings were an ornery lot, and the mechanics of the series had gotten very in-depth with the complexity of their fans living continuous, uninterrupted lives. Games for rejuves had to be fairly involved, and the ability to retain progress indefinitely from game to game allowed for older individuals to become specialized in things that took longer to attain, lending earned skills that a newcomer wouldn’t have – like making dragons do as they’re told.

I like your trainer name by the way. You’re sillier in private than you show on the outside.”, Ki`rene paid note to Richard’s fun side behind all those stoic, older quirks. It wasn’t what she would have expected out of the sharp witted leader when she thumbed through the hatchling dragon’s stats, but while Richard could be as age-defying and collected as Jacob, he didn’t have trouble being a kid on the side, the same as he.

Though, knowing ‘RichAndDelicious’ was indeed a cheeky play on his name, the human Penitatas couldn’t help but laugh and scratch his head; that gaming device falling back into the plush depths of his bomber jacket pocket.

Work and play are best separate. I’m glad we both got to share in a game like this during our sentences, even if it’s such a contrast to all the other rules and things we’re punished with on a nearly daily basis.”, he delivered as a hot take since it was related to their usual discussions, and a piece of the punitive life they ended up having in common. They both had at least one cycle with parents nice enough to let them have one of the series’ games, and getting it on his last cycle’s final birthday let him bring something unexpectedly cool to his next home… quite a welcome thing when that current “home” of his turned out to be anything but – a sentiment Ki`rene seemed to split with him, tightening the wrinkles around her maw with a memory.

True, until your so-called ‘dad’ snatches the thing out of your claws and deletes your six year old save file out of spite and calls it a ‘lesson’.”, she shared with a gruff note of lasting rejection over, highlighting a particular hurtful experience as a Penitatas and aspiring creature connoisseur. Richard’s face narrowed toward his nose, imagining something like that being done to himself, and finding further pain in hearing it from such a sweet, comforting voice that it surely never should have come from.

“… I really hate that you were ever one of us. May I pry and inquire as to why he did something so mean to you?”, the curious concern brought the complexities of Richard’s speech, crossing his arms as fluidly as his broad personality could shift back toward a serious demeanor. Posing questions like that so genuinely did make it easier to reply.

He took me fishing a lot, and I blew up on him over not wanting to go.”, Ki`rene sounded bothered in still being able to remember her emotionally frenzied screeching in Drakonian as her second-cycle father figure held her player just out of reach, destroying her game just barely a year after leaving Sally and Rah`veia’s side. But, the joylessly stated reason for that exchange made Richard’s lips part in disbelief, squinting a single eye with a tongue that wanted to stumble out of character for the rapid-fire way he’d so deftly speak.

You… didn’t like to fish, I gather?”, Richard wasn’t entirely sure how to ask without sounding potentially rude, seeing as getting to go fishing with some kind of fatherly figure was one of the aspirations he wanted to achieve out of these protests for reform.

Oh no, I didn’t get to fish. Fishing wasn’t for ‘bad little pennies’ – they had to sit out, and stay quiet. If he got bored from the fish not biting, he’d grab my brush and order me over… and I had to be silent for his idle spanking. Nothing to scare the fish, or else I’d be in big trouble.”, Ki`rene effortlessly described of the detestable man and what he considered to be his fishing excursions, all to the tune a serving Penitatas could relate with. It didn’t take much imagination to envision the man’s threatening, teasing scolds in real time, and her perpetual boredom between sniffles.

The one time I tried to strike a conversation with him on the lake, thinking we could at least talk, he made me hold my tongue with my claw as punishment to shut me up. I was just there so he could fish. Made me feel like dirt.”, she had lifted her right claw to her maw as an example of how uncomfortable and demeaning being forced to hold your own tongue was, and how maliciously conceived the idea was against the man’s motives. Feeling strongly about it to this day, giving personal meaning to her striving for change, Richard more stiffly stood to the old scars she put forth.

I imagine he meant for that too. A show of dominance.”, the smart lad chimed in as one to validate others’ feelings and be that supportive person, rather than simply hum and nod. Inferring it was a sexual affinity bleeding into Ki`rene’s treatment at worst, and an angry, controlling behavior at best, it was the sort of thing he was fighting to have regulated away from those that had no business giving children commands.

Seeing as I became his ‘Gnawing Gracie’ whenever he wanted… yes, I suppose.”, Ki`rene agreed of Richard’s insight with a lack of her prior perkiness, digging so deeply into the past to dredge up old stories to her shame like that; a claw upon her scarf in physical defense against that vulnerability she permitted in front of a boy she trusted.

It was an aged analogy she had uttered long before then, still lingering in the deepest recesses of her mind when there came to be more figures during her fifty years as a Penitatas to make her feel that way. Though, unlike when she said such a thing before a clueless judge, it brought a creep of intellectual realization across Richard’s face… his normally prompt responses pausing as he enamored the words and their deeper meaning.

Our dolls. Objects in the image of us… things that don’t have blood, but are treated the same as we.”, the lawyer with a silver tongue could dance with the light of the subject, bringing it philosophical clarity as he talked his way through an analogy he could understand. Just as he had a ‘Spanking Sam’ as a male hard timer, he figured something with such a name must have been Ki`rene’s own. It so deftly fit in with the simple phrase he began this entire venture of protest and reform with, ‘I am not an object’, that he right away wanted to use it somehow.

It made him wonder, in the wrinkled, creased scales he looked into, if Ki`rene’s weary mind as a Penitatas thought of that same sentiment with entirely different words, nearly a century before him.

My time had some decent parents, but people like him… just the sheer amount of things I went through at his hands, and his wife’s. Being made to stand on tall wooden wedges because I couldn’t kneel on a switch like a human comes to mind. Not being allowed to go to the bathroom sometimes, just because ‘mom’ liked watching me squirm… she never said so, but she didn’t have to. Just like their little tricks they pulled to try and get me into trouble, all so I could cop it worse with everyone. They both loved doing that.”, interrupted his musing as Ki`rene sullenly recounted the things a Penitatas in a bad place could suffer; those unforgettable smirks and sly comments, or the heartless toying of her chores so that things would look missed or done poorly.

That sounds relatable, actually.”, Richard suggested of his current parents when Ki`rene’s trailing complaint hit close to home for him, weakening his smaller voice. Such sabotage was one of those “unfair” acts that ate him alive as an advocate for others, and they knew it in the face he made when they’d withhold his homework and send him off to school without it. It ensured truly unearned punishment in front of his friends and peers, and welts the pair could take turns darkening when he returned home to show what their ploy reaped him. He was a hard timer as it was, they didn’t need an excuse to spank him!

The collected gentlemen in his bomber jacket clenched his teeth together, hiding it behind a stronger, more assuredly defiant face in the tension that crept over him.

We’ll get people like those out of the system, and hold them to the same moral standards Penitatas have to exemplify to keep out of trouble. Rules are for everyone, not just the those that have fallen out of sight to the bottom of the barrel. We’re still kids, and we’re still people. Let us have a good home, first and foremost. I want to serve my time feeling like I still matter, and people want to do more than just hurt me.”, the defensive, passionate boy found some of the language he would be choosing to use when facing down the Corrections Counsel soon enough, ready to strike down upon the clear and present dangers giving people who enjoyed corporal punishment such unbridled authority to go with the ability to discipline the smallest and most vulnerable into submission.

Sounding more riled in the rejection of his own treatment and his compassionate Grandma Scales’, Ki`rene suddenly felt guiltily responsible for the agitated gnashing of Richard’s face; surprised he’d fall so upset when the emotions of a child so rarely encumbered his carefully calculated mind, nano-web or not.

We can’t even get sick in peace! One of my friends takes medicine regularly, and the pharmacy still dopes her syrup bottle with the Penitatas bittering agent we’re supposed to get. It’s not her fault she needs treatment when she’s young, so why should she get a spoon’s dose of that lingering swill every day? Doesn’t anyone care?”, Richard’s eyes snapped with weight toward the dark gloss of the legislative doors, envisioning those behind them looking to stymie the Penitatas’ cry for just, appropriate treatment while they served their time – excuses made while some unfairly suffered more than others, and for little to no reason related to their crimes. Medical care wasn’t an opportunity to be spun against them! It was a right, not a privilege!

Richie… people definitely care. I know I do.”, Ki`rene tried to reassure, stepping forward to steal Richard’s attention back from what must have been heavy upon his mind today. Swiping her claw into a wave to draw his pupils back to her face, she slipped her saurian bulk between he and those doors he sneered at so abruptly; her tail lifting into an optimistic perk for him.

I would like a world where an astray little attorney could serve his time with the reasonable balance he hopes for. Maybe with someone that would make sure that he’d never do something as silly as steal money again, trying to be a big-shot show-off with his fancy cars and trinkets.”, Ki`rene opted to do as she always did with the intelligent Penitatas, responding to his ideals with her own vision – one where he and others like him could be taken care of the same way a misty-eyed drakeling imagined, having a one-sided chat with her Gracie.

Her mentioning of the reasons behind what Richard did to get himself sentenced to a rejuvenator wasn’t meant to be a tease, not being the sort, but rather a playful reminder as a friend that his time in the justice system would still have purpose if she had anything to say about it. As she figured, the boy didn’t get angry, but the face of surprise he winced into still came as something of a shock, looking as if he had been actually chided by her.

Gran’… come on, please don’t blow it out of proportion. I took a couple extra credits off the top and used them to impress my clients into choosing me over my partners. It really wasn’t that big a deal compared to what we made.”, Richard promptly snapped out of the mode he placed himself in with the reddening of his freckles, lifting his hands to try and dispel the uneasy flavor of embarrassment that came over him in being called out for his days as an overconfident playboy of a lawyer; business being business, and nothing more.

Downplaying his embezzlement charges were his typical means of dismissing the subject, not wanting to be viewed as a thief with the white-collar nature of his crime, but a snappy huff from Ki`rene’s nostrils startled him into nearly jumping. Those silver marked hands recoiled back to his body in his reactive flinch, feeling a rustling rush of air through his hair as closely as the drake kept herself to him, and in grabbing his full attention, Richard found himself staring down a snout that wrinkled at its base more-so than it usually did. Ki`rene’s big, slit yellow eyes glared at him harshly for what felt like the longest of moments, giving him a familiar urge to shrink beneath her expression, no matter how good he was at fighting it. He never would have fathomed the gentle old drake even had it in her.

Richard McDaft, if I didn’t respect you as much as I do, I’d put those letters of yours to work here and now myself. It was tens of thousands of credits, and you don’t have a leg to stand on to be defensive over it. You know what you did, and why.”, she went as far as to use his full name against what he allowed to slip from his mouth, unwilling to let a fellow wayward soul act that impenitent and say such a dishonest thing when she knew full well what he did at his law firm. Snout poised above Richard’s scolded figure, Ki`rene exemplified all of the lessons that good people instilled upon a more aggressive drakeling when those words just came to her like nature, mixing with her own convictions.

Don’t ever say that again. No matter how shy you are about it.”, the squint of her eyes lightened with the firming of her voice, softening the blow of lecturing a Penitatas she cared about; his brilliant independence not stopping her from saying what she needed, urging for his pride to not put up such walls of excuse if he wanted to be released from being a Penitatas.

It was the foundation of what would be the mother drake – the proper lesson-based parenting of Mister Weyburn’s carefully chosen words, and Sally’s strict claw, willing to enforce every syllable.

Having made it abundantly clear that he had said something out of line for even the likes of his supportive confidant, Richard set his hands behind his back with a tip of his head. It seemed as if he wanted to be that older, stronger self he preferred, but in his moment of weakness managed to look that of the young Penitatas he was.

“… Yes Miss. My apologies.”, Richard provided more along the lines of the respect he was normally required to show everyone, sounding sorry in the indignity of Ki`rene’s brisk admonishment. He was, but such words were difficult for his underlying hubris to contend with at times, leaving him with ‘my apologies’ merely because it sounded less painful to his internal image. Such vanity all went back to the reasons he was arrested to begin with, and despite the foolishness Richard felt, he did indeed “know what he did, and why”, as the usually sanguine grandmother drake so aptly put.

Without the chipper and hastened nature of what naturally fell from his lips, the sigh Richard came to make sounded uncharacteristically shaky and drawn out in disappointment, cracking the curl of Ki`rene’s saurian eye-ridges above him. She wasn’t familiar with bursting out and saying such things to the tune of what she remembered from being a Penitatas herself, and that foreign act of trying to be parental had her looking as if she too might have made a mistake when Richard looked scorned, and eyes distant, as if they wanted to dampen from having been yelled at by someone he didn’t expect. Ki`rene wasn’t used to being on that end, and in her uncertainty, just stared in sympathy without knowing what to say.

When Richard caught the worried expression pointed his way though, all he could do was shake his head in the silence between them; shoes and chatter stepping by all around.

I’m alright, it’s just the web. It’s letting you know that there’s a child who feels guilty for his shortcomings.”, the boy lifted his chin with his own sort of grown assurance, adding again through his airy, slower voice that he was still rather sorry for what he said, even if he couldn’t force himself to say it well.

Innately able to overcome his nano-web and feel when an emotion was being manipulated, he could normally isolate its intrusive, fraudulent whispers, hardening his mind in the constitution he carried as a rejuve. It only worked so well when Ki`rene said just the right things, making his inner child curl up a tad to her motherly sort of disapproval… there being nothing fraudulent about those feelings she brought forth. With a breath to collect himself, Richard’s crooked mouth tugged upon the freckles of his cheeks as he swept his handheld gaming device out of his pocket, contemplating what Ki`rene placed on his mind.

There’s a lot to cover in this hearing today… sort of like how dumb it is that we still have games like this, when even a Kindern who gets in trouble would have these things taken away. So little about being a Penitatas makes sense sometimes… ”, he trailed the both of them back to the matters at hand as he stared down at the blue device’s blank screen, questioning the very structure surrounding him when he felt in that moment he didn’t deserve to be able to play a game anyone else in his place rightfully ought to be grounded indefinitely from, if this was truly meant to be a rejuvenated person’s childhood penance. It wasn’t that he wanted more taken away, but rather it didn’t seem to fit with the message that this punishment was supposed to be for a purpose… how could he be so bad he needed constant thrashing, but not bad enough to have a tiny privilege taken from him?

Consistency is a part of parenting.”, slipped from Ki`rene’s wisdom, affirming his thought to be a mature one from the grown side of his mind. Not looking too happy with himself, a momentary stare at his game had him forgiving his stirred emotions, returning the portable brick and his menagerie of creatures back to the fluff of his bomber jacket.

That thing we need.”, Richard couldn’t help but accept his scarf-wearing counterpart’s vision in all this, hating how sensitive he’d get over having his pride hurt.

I think I’ll focus on that today in the hearing. We need to make some fruitful goals for people serving, and stop with the correctional caregiver pandering culture that ultimately put us all in this place, Scales.”, his plan of action came together in wake of that thought, feeling like it encompassed much of what he had come here to fight for. The objectification and filming – not to mention all the holidays and rituals that made up their lives under their parental figure’s roofs, suffering through the insufferable. Their purpose was to experience pain to their incarcerated misery and little more, and that was a lot to ask when not all of them had someone close to turn to for comfort.

We weren’t forced to bring you here so you could have a mouthy social visit, Richard.”, loudly chastised without warning from the encircling bustle of the crowd, cutting through its noise with a high, accusing feminine pitch.

Caught in the spur of the moment’s startle, Ki`rene lifted her snout from Richard’s wince with a hastened swing of her neck toward the barreling interjection that split through the congregation near her hip. Having swooped into earshot unnoticed amidst the slew of people, a sharp-tongued woman stormed ahead of a well dressed man in formal stride through the gap, having found their Penitatas by descending upon the recognizable tower of brown scale he seemed to gravitate to like a magnet whenever she was around. The irritated scowl Ki`rene was so familiar with seeing out of the brunette and her auspicious curls came with a cold, uneasy air from Richard’s father figure, so used to the pair being snappy and socially inhospitable.

Pandering.”, the man, who happened to be the District Attorney over their entire home region, twisted with an angry gibe of offense to the word his Penitatas had chosen in the astute manner his throat could growl. Having an intimidating presence and knowing it, leaning upon his stature like a baton of command, his best legal suit purposely placed him echelons above his rag-tag headache of a Penitatas as he joined the confrontation his wife swept into forming with a thrust of a finger.

That really takes some nerve, and some from you as well if you’re going to stand there and pay it any mind. Such disrespect of us shouldn’t be encouraged out of our convicts, much less the pet-name you let him call you. That’s our hard time we’ve made for him that you’re subverting, ma’am.”, she had barely glared at Richard before jabbing that finger of hers practically into Ki`rene’s snout, drilling that pleasantry her Penitatas really should have been using; the drake lightly recoiling from the aggressive motion with an expression that sighed toward the berating without so much as needing to open her maw.

We can agree to disagree on that, Misses Baxter.”, Ki`rene let roll off her scales with a steadfast lift of her claw, sweeping her digits as if to suggest that long, polished fingernail leave her face. Beneath her, Richard uncomfortably tried to hold his ground all the same.

The… the focus of our sentence isn’t meant to be on you. We’re the ones serving time, and we have the right to demand standards.”, his voice faltered when his throat went uncharacteristically tight against their grievances, seeming uneasy in choosing such an answer when today’s hearing was going to be of him saying plenty more of where “caregiver pandering” came from.

I guess we’ve not been clear enough at home about that kind of back-talk? Or are you just feeling a big boy because someone is giving you attention?”, Mister Baxter took the tone of casual, questioning threat to the tune of his seemingly typical verbal bullying, stiffening Richard’s mouth while his wife huffed herself into a tizzy.

Richard Baxter, we are the sentence you serve, and we earn privileges for volunteering to bring those discomforts to you. Our hover-cam is supposed to make you feel like your little butt is on display – it is, and you’re a grown man who’s supposed to deal with it! You have no right to be throwing this public tantrum!”, flung from her mouth more like bickering than a lecture, railing against Richard’s hearing and the black eye he brought upon her district and household. The way her varied pitches always over-emphasized words in her flighty fits, sounding mean and unpleasant, served to deepen the wrinkles of Ki`rene’s snout when she was far tired of young Mister McDaft being rebuked whenever she saw the pair.

Filming people against their will while you do things to them in the bare, is not a privilege to be claimed.”, the guardian-drake tipped her snout and stood up to the same blind entitlement Richard was pushing back against, calm and firm, no matter the scoff she practically got into her face from the seething shrew.

It’s harmless fun. A game, if you’d grasp such a concept.”, Misses Baxter flicked all of her fingers at her temples as if Ki`rene was too stupid to understand the ultimately innocent nature of their roleplay, and her husband was prompt to step closer to her side if the big-name protest leader was going to open her mouth in front of them.

You’re just as bad as he is, and you don’t have the excuse of being a little kid, slandering the entire community that’s been loyal to the Penitatas Justice Department with the nonsense you’ve been saying. Claiming moral high ground? We’re allowed to like what we do. They want us to, all so these hard timers can repay a penance to society before their rehabilitation in soft time.”, the intellectual man of status took up the challenge of debating the woman who flaunted such dialogue upon his holovision and beside his disobedient, disrespectful Penitatas. Spoken to as if she needed such “obvious” things explained to her by someone who knew better, the degree that it reminded her of Judge Valence’s tainted old memory brought Ki`rene’s focus to narrow with a faint squint.

No one is saying that ‘spanko’s can’t rear Penitatas. We just want those feelings kept out of your corporal punishment, and for you to not feel as if you’re owed something for providing it. Its always been a common argument that hard time is meant to be punishment for the crime, and that only soft time is for rebuilding the person… but it’s a literal contradiction to everything else we know about rejuvenated children. It’s nothing but an excuse.”, the elder drake capitalized upon if he’d use that tired old saying, stoically unblinking against the tropes the home of a Penitatas was built upon.

Oh? Care tell?”, the District Attorney seemed to taunt with his uncouthly questioning mannerisms, seeking to shatter the drake’s argument by making her actually explain it. Ki`rene shook her head, raising the glossy sheen of her claws as if she was speaking in front of just another holo-cam.

The proof is in our society itself. People rejuvenate to go back to school when they want to learn something difficult, because children are sponges that absorb everything around them by nature. Soft timers are re-raised strictly and carefully the same way, shown right and wrong again, because they can be. Simply claiming that hard timers can take the consequences you’re dishing, resilient as kids are, doesn’t mean they’re not actively learning too, like everyone else. If you’re not parenting them, then they’re learning things we didn’t intend to teach.”, she picked apart the leg that unwilling Penitatas parents were trying to stand on to resist change, slowly and thoughtfully as the herald she spent the month trying to be.

Rehabilitation must be the focus from day one, right from their welcome spanking… raised over their entire sentence in harsh but safe places, by people who shelter them as much as they make them suffer. It needs to be toned down, and that means saying goodbye to having fun at their expense. You’re right – I’m not a child, I’m an adult. They trust us to be one for them.”, Ki`rene’s claws came to her scarf as she always would when making a properly heartfelt point; her honest views on Penitatas and their care coming forth as the sorts of standards she was fighting for alongside Richard. Children were children, no matter what prices needed paying.

Laying on more of your sentimental fluff that’s swayed the public’s view on the nightly holo, I see. And what exactly is supposed to make someone in the justice system spank these Penitatas if they didn’t want to?”, Mister Baxter countered that anti-spanko rhetoric if she’d build an argument based on feelings, rather than the logic of why the communities that took care of prisoners existed in the first place.

To his surprise, and annoyance, the strange Drakonian who feigned to look like a human grandmother seemingly looked pleased he asked, right away getting the impression he was being lead, rather than doing the leading as he first thought. No matter if his probing had confrontational intent, Ki`rene was happy to announce of her own hopeful mission she carried into this day.

Children have been disciplined by those caring for them for centuries. Penitatas need more extreme than others, and often when they’ve done nothing recently wrong… but all we need is a will, and a way. I believe offering a path to a parenting license for the care of hard timers would-… ”, the motherly ex-Penitatas laid forth her idea for how the Penitatas Justice System should be reshaped from its core, until Misses Baxter exploded.

You are bat-shit insane!”, her curls bounced with the crossing swing of her arms, shoving her face forward to interrupt something so disgustingly outlandisha thing that she was surely successful in doing when Ki`rene didn’t expect a feisty woman in her face, flinching the same as Richard nearly tripped over her hind-claws from such a violent outburst. Not having fathomed her most cherished idea for change could elicit such a response, letting her guard down seized up her saurian throat to the point a hissing stumble of reptilian surprise slipped from her maw, far separated from any panglish sound as Misses Baxter’s shrill insult stopped every other person within earshot; heads turning, and chatter collapsing with their attention.

Giving people licenses to raise Kindern because they showed how good they could abuse little kids? What century do you even think we live in? You don’t actually grasp any of this, do you?”, the venerated Mister Baxter twisted his usual dismantling inquiries into those more directly disparaging as he adopted the disdain of his wife’s voice, understanding the debauchery of bare-bottom affairs were kept away from the rest of free society for a good reason. Ki`rene, though, nearly shuddered in her fluster to being rejected before she could even explain her position.

I’m saying it shouldn’t just be about spanking the daylights out of them! Those who take in Penitatas have the opportunity to learn how to be parents when it’s at its hardest! To be that parent even when it’s not fun, happy, or easy! To discover how to make a little someone who’s unbelievably sad, scared, or hurt still look forward to tomorrow, and how to correct their worst of mistakes so that they see and accept them, even if they don’t want to!”, she tried to convince the paragons of corrective and legal authority both the merit of what she was putting forth, balling her claws as high as where her scarf’s festive snowflakes wrapped around her neck.

There were bigger things a penny-parent could achieve that they weren’t realizing, thinking of it solely as the tanning of hides. Those exalted licenses went to those who exemplified the very best of their society, taking in Voluntarus and Medicalos to vie for the opportunity, and she saw in the grander unseen picture the merit of a penny-parent being judged for their own work the same as their common peers.

I had parents as a Penitatas that I respect even now. You’ve seen my interviews – you know how young I was when I was rejuvenated! Those families raised me! They took care of me, and disciplined me straight!”, Ki`rene went to a place more endeared to her heart in speaking of the Ulrich’s and Weyburn’s, knowing firsthand how critical true parenting was to a Penitatas – the discipline and penance only one part of a broader puzzle, and those missing pieces being exactly what Richard was trying to say that he wanted, and didn’t have. All the while, Mister Baxter curled his lip and turned up his nose to her pleading.

Hell of a lot of good that did. Someone skipped putting some real respect into you.”, he cut in with searing hostility, rejecting the failure of those figures upon the subject before him, to Ki`rene’s more visible consternation. She looked upon the man with a loss for words to so suddenly being told such a thing, and before her wounded eyes could stare for long they were pulled toward another lancing thrust of an accusing finger; her hind legs taking a faint step back, no matter the profound size difference between she and Misses Baxter.

All you people proud enough to openly admit to being ex-cons need to keep your fake solutions to problems that don’t exist to yourselves! You’re bitter over what you got – end of story!”, came the verbal trashing Ki`rene never experienced on holovised public platforms, dismissing and discarding everything she ever had to say behind a wall of op-ed flavored insult-politics to the jeer of the surrounding crowd of ex-Penitatas; the encircling cluster tightening with a rumble of disapproval off the building’s ornate tiles.

Stop talking about other people like that!”, shouted below Ki`rene’s stature, tearing her part way out of the frazzling trance being verbally accosted had rattled her into. She’d hardly been able to curl her neck and try to look down upon Richard’s fiery, freckled face and the colors of his olden-days wartime jacket trying to defend her before something darker earned the snap of her reptilian pupils.

It was the creep of a falsely sanguine smirk, slow and eerily placid as it beamed down from the man the boy had to call “dad.” Trouncing Richard’s riled emotions, he smiled upon his seething little lawyer with a look of practiced belittling, ridiculing his anger as if to overtly make fun of him.

Speaking of bitter.”, his lips parted as if Richard had provided him ample opportunity to continue his wife’s train of thought. Not one to permit his Penitatas to raise his voice against him, his tones and mannerisms became sharply derisive; that grin turning to a phony frown, puffing the grown man’s lower lip.

Woe is me. Let’s abolish ‘Special Punishment Days’ like my birthday because getting my little fanny roasted plum-red for the things I did is just too unfair.”, the D.A. of his own Penitatas district mocked Richard’s complaints he had taken up against the Penitatas Justice System, taunting the boy with nuances so rich with bullying that Ki`rene’s maw curled awkwardly enough to lift the pearly whites of her pointed teeth into view while someone in the crowding rabble piped up for Mister Baxter to go fuck himself.

“… Choosing not to punish a hard timer for a day is too offensive for you to imagine? To spend a normal birthday with them and remind the person you make cry all the time that they’re still valued, and that you care?”, Ki`rene lowered her voice as if she could hardly believe someone as high up the food-chain as a District Attorney would act such a way in front of so many closely listening witnesses, openly demeaning a rejuvenated child and the most basic of their reform goals.

You’re wasting your time.”, Mister McDaft grumbled for his Grandma Scales as if this was nothing new.

You already know they don’t.”, he sneered up at his purported father figure when the answer to Ki`rene’s question was written right upon the Baxter’s faces, clear as day for everyone to see.

Speaking out of line and daring to take that stance when his parents demanded utmost obedience – the true thing they cared about – those stabbing little eyes and scathing voice of Richard’s collapsed Mister Baxter’s expression into an agitated furl. It brought him to jolt sharply forward to correct the situation, and just as his arm swung outward and his fingers outstretched to grab the Penitatas, a bolt of brown dove into the coming fray.

Whoa – hey, look at the time, you need to get to your hearing!”, Ki`rene swiftly reacted to the tension, sweeping her claws around Richard to pull him away from the advance. Hind-claws stumbling backward in the flash of the moment, she barely had time to lift the young boy from the stone tile before both Baxter’s rushed upon her to the defensive lunge of the surrounding crowd; arms thrown against the man’s chest, and bodies blocking the way.

Don’t you touch her!”, came out of the commotion of the mob’s shouting, along with a more demanding, “Back the hell off!”, from a bigger one of those “ex-cons” Misses Baxter insulted prior to the shoving dog-pile of limbs, buying the moment Ki`rene needed to hoist the older human child against her scarf and saurian torso.

That’s enough out of you, drake!”, Mister Baxter yelled out with a commanding throw of a finger, difficult as it was in his struggle against those who stepped in; his wife’s own yelling drowned out by the roar of the scuffling mass.

Drop him this instant! You need a license now to be putting your hands on-… !”, he tried to lawfully order those claws off his Penitatas, pressing the recently passed licensing system against her, only to have one of those claws whip a glossy sheen of white from the wrap of her winter scarf’s cotton.

I can’t critique these new licenses properly if I don’t go through the process to get one, now can I?”, the front-runner for reform firmly asked in declaration of her actions being perfectly legal, thrusting the card she earned through her investigative journalism over the shoulders of the men separating her from the self-important official.

Listing all of her credentials in front of a holographic seal of the Penitatas Justice Department, it sported a cheerful looking picture of an aging Drakonian woman in a scarf – there being no argument as to its obvious validity, and that she had decided to keep it close for a reason. Considering there was only going to be one Penitatas in the entire legislative building today, it took little thought to decipher who she was carrying it around for, and whom she thought she might have needed to use it against… something that contorted Mister Baxter’s features into a hostile, burning sneer. Swooping in to Richard’s aid like some pushy interloper getting into things she had no business, the man’s brows squeezed into the stare he shared with the drake as she tucked that shiny new license back into the folds of her scarf. Those slit reptilian eyes steadfast and unmoving above a maw that didn’t grin with the confidence she exuded, she just seemed to look straight into him as her claw returned to Richard’s back; the boy taking a small bounce in settling his weight toward her raptor-like shoulder.

“… You know, I can still remember that look. You’re just burning to grab me by the arm and make me dance in a circle around you like I’m some ‘penny in need of an attitude adjustment. Is that where we’re at? You’ve lost yourself that deep in the power fantasy your district lets you play? That’s your reaction to a grown adult that’s challenged you, Mister District Attorney?”, Ki`rene’s snout let forth with a tip and a tilt as the dying of the scuffle lowered everyone’s voices, taking in the glare of a man that eagerly yearned to retaliate against her impudence and make her sorry for having crossed him, just as he could do at home when his authority wasn’t heeded exactly as he desired. It really was no wonder why such a petty “king” fought so direly against their calls for reform.

How dare we trespass upon your sandbox.”, Ki`rene slapped on top with a pivot toward the man’s wife, calling them out on the real reason they hated the reform movement – their home district a playground for their whims where they were on top, and their every word was law… or else.

Unwilling to subject Richard to another moment of the pair’s aggressive enforcement of their opinions and the controlling behaviors that fueled them, desperate to have their “treats” and authority left without oversight, Ki`rene ignored every last little bit that bellyached against her ear-slits as she carefully turned tail toward the legislative doors and left the residual argument behind, carrying the influential boy on his way to something grander. His freckled cheeks hugged against her sweater, not really liking having to hold on to her like a Kindern in being carried as a rejuve… but, the burn across his eyes felt more embarrassing, and that was enough to still his mouth from complaining about Ki`rene’s good graces seemingly trying to help him hide his face from being seen. It was no secret between them that he didn’t like his parents, fearing them as much as he did. The hurtful exchange nearly escalated to him being thrashed in front of a lot of people right before a public oration; something that would have ruined the mature clarity of his thought, and in the silence Ki`rene walked with as well, he was markedly worried for how dearly the pair must have gone and upset her.

Sighing against her saurian bulk to loosen up his chest, Richard felt the gentle slide of smooth scale come up against his shoulders and the rusty hair atop the back of his head; Ki`rene craning her neck to nuzzle the fluffy collar of his jacket as he was carried. The lightest, yet most rumbling of vibrations came over the young Penitatas, feeling a tickly ripple throughout his body emanating from her. Perplexed, the lawyer blinked a couple of times before his weary face snapped into the scrunch of a snicker.

Scales… ”, his airy little voice piped up with surprise.

You’re purring.”, Richard pointed out as a friendly observation, pleasantly confounded as he was. Not knowing Drakonians could purr like that, much less thinking Ki`rene would be in the mood for such a thing after being ganged up on, he got to feel an amused puff of air escape the older drake’s throat; his ears picking up on the reptilian sounds within her neck, normally buried beneath her panglish as her forked tongue formed words.

And it feels good too, Freckles. It’s what I’m here for. Push the worries out, and keep imagining how good you’ll do in front of your podium. Might as well keep your mind on the ‘biggest case of your life’, right?”, she followed her instincts in trying to comfort him as a vulnerable child underneath all his stoic mannerisms, soothing Richard the same as a mother drake would her own young – just as Rah`veia did for her. Leading by example and sounding as if she’d managed to crack a smile across her snout after all that, Richard sank his forehead deeper into the plush of Ki`rene’s sweater to watch the movements of her trusty scarf, letting go of concerning himself over getting seen being coddled as the foreboding doors of the legislative chambers came upon them with their ornate sprawl.

“… Maybe we’ll make tomorrow better.”, young Richard McDaft wondered aloud of this hearing with his quicker tongue, hopeful and empowered when he was a sharp witted boy. His Grandma Scales was trying to be the kind of parent he’d be fighting for everyone to have in a matter of minutes, giving him the security and care the child-like side of his mind failed to get from the Baxter’s, all so he could find some solace and keep his head in the game.

A lot of tomorrows. Everyone’s, even.”, Ki`rene shined a little of her light upon the life he was about to change for himself and so many others, reaching out with a claw to shove open the grand door to his greatest achievement.

And, his last.

For much of the merry All Hallows’ Eve’s end back in the present, Ki`rene’s night of being the kind of mom she always wanted to be had her once again cradling the red scarf she chose for her costume against the bare scales of her saurian breastbone; the cotton accessory gradually placing her in a nostalgic, contented trance as memories danced through her long-lived mind from when she wore the garment <