The Lesson


Dana Bell

Soft Whisker smoothed a spot on her shining grey fur with her delicate tongue. She caught a glimpse of Gnarl Stump watching her, but pretended she didn't see. It would be at least nine planet turns before she would be ready for her first batch of kitlings. Though she knew he wanted to mate her before then. She turned her head back to the learning tree. She doubted he would be able to catch HER in the mating dances during the next clan gathering. Not that she intended to let him. SHE had someone else in mind.

A hush fell over the near grown kitlings. Long Tail strolled to the tree and stretched high along the rough trunk. Her long creme fur rippled and she clawed her mark on the bark. She then sat primly in front of her class.

Soft Whisker was excited. Long Tail was one of the few Felcats who had been a part of the Great War two centuries before. Her stories, which she freely shared, were amongst the best known.

'Kitlings,' Long Tail's rich lilting voice filled their minds. 'Today, I will teach you about other cultures.' Her tail curled daintily around her white front paws. "And what can happen when two cooperate.and two clash.'

There was a faint rustling as a breeze swept through the upper branches of the tree. The kitlings took a moment to resettle themselves more comfortably.

'It was the Earth year 2270, the Seventh year of the Great Shadow War.'

With great care I stalked the piece of string. I crouched down wiggling my hind end in preparation to pounce.

"I didn't think playing with a cat was your style, Mr. Garabaldi." A Scottish accented voice commented from the door.

I jumped catching the string and almost tugging it away from a very startled security chief.

My play companion stopped then and faced the ex-Earth Senator, now Callisto ambassador to Babylon 5. The Immortals followed Sheridan's lead when the station succeeded from Earth and did the same with their colony. Then, when the Great War started, they sided with the Captain.

"She seems to enjoy it." Michael said. He gives my head an affectionate rub. "What can I do for you, Ambassador.?"

Connor MacLeod shifts his feet slightly. He had been a warrior for a long time. His alert, ready for action pose, is obvious. Even Michael notices.


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The Highlander shakes his head. His hand rests on his silver sword hilt. The Immortals are again wearing their blades. They did this when they joined the Great War. They hadn't worn them for over two hundred years, Not since, Adyra, a descendant of Rassilon, told them of their true origins. Connor, his clansman, Duncan, Richie Ryan and the oldest Immortal, Methos, with the help of a Watcher named Joe Dawson, told others why and how they were created, and, for the first time in their bloody history, a community decision was made to stop the Game.

Oh, it didn't stop overnight. It took about fifty years of purging. But those who were left resettled on Callisto, one of Jupiter's moons. The Immortals have lived like normal humans ever since.

"I just wanted to warn you," Connor smiles slightly, "Lord President Adyra is on the station again."

Garabaldi chews on his lip thoughtfully. I decide this is a good time to sit on his lap. I leap nimbly to his uniformed leg and proceed to make myself comfortable.

"Any idea why?" Michael asks as he absently strokes my head.

Connor is watching me. He has met my Grandame, Four Footed One. She was with Adyra, (still is, for the Time Lord is her chosen Companion,) when the Immortals were told the truth. She was trying to right an old wrong. The Time Lords created the Immortals and The Game. For their amusement. Adyra was within her rights to stop it.

Four Footed One told me this story when I was still a kitling.

"The Lord President has gone to see Ambassador Delenn."

My ears perk up. Delenn? Why?

The Highlander rubs his chin. He always looks like he needs a shave. "I heard her say something about an old debt to the Jedi."

Uh. Oh.

I hop down and scuttle past Connor's booted leg. The gray tiled hallway is busy with bustling leg traffic. I dodge the various beings and slide down an air vent. Maintenance has been very good about leaving a few key ones open for me. I hurriedly make my way to the Ambassadorial wing. After making the correct twists and turns I finally nudge aside the covering in Delenn's bed chamber.

I stop once there. One white paw in the air, my tail twitching as I listen. I hear two female voices. Quietly, I walk across the carpeted floor and enter the ambassador's main reception room.

Lord President Adyra is seated on a comfortable couch. Beside her is my Grandame, Four Footed One, who lifts her black head and acknowledges me with a blink of her yellow eyes.

Delenn, wearing a gown of red, sits in her favorite chair. She watches her guest with polite interest. It is a Minbari trait to wait until a visitor states their business.

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Adyra shifts. I am sure their are times her robes of state must seem cumbersome. She seems.ill at the humans say.

"A few years ago," the Time Lord begins, "a very old Jedi came to me.on his way here.and asked something of me." Her dark features frown. "He asked if I would search the Matrix and discover what became of Valen."

Delenn can not contain her start. "Minbari legend states he went beyond."

Adyra tilts her head. Her almost feline eyes regard Delenn with interest.

I slink around Delenn's chair and sit myself down. I see Adyra's delicate hand stroke my Grandame.

"I have discovered some.oddities.where he's concerned."

I have a dirty spot on my tail and I proceed to give it a thorough wash.

"Indeed." I hear Delenn say.

"It seems, after the last Great War, he left Minbar when enemies made it far too dangerous for him, and his family, to stay." She pauses. "The records show his children returned many years later."

Delenn nods. I know, she knows this much of the history. But now I am nervous. How much of the true history exists in the Matrix?

"Luke Skywalker took him to Vulcan. He claimed a debt owed him by one of its healers."

" I do not know of a world called Vulcan."

"You wouldn't."

Four Footed One sits up then. Her sleek ebony body tense.

"It is in a section of space belonging to the United Federation of Planets." The Time Lord continues. "You haven't been contacted by them yet." She rises to her feet and begins to pace. I remember my Grandame telling me this is an old habit of her long time Companion. "There is no record of him ever leaving."

"You think he died there."

"Perhaps." The Lord President stops and faces the Minbari female. "Matrix records are somewhat muddled. There are hints he played a part in Vulcan history, but nothing specific. And as for his final resting place." she shrugged. An very inelegant movement. "I wish I could more specific."

"You have told me more than we knew." Delenn rose to her feet. "Thank You."

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"You are welcome." The Adyra rose with a rustle of silver fabric. Four Footed One launched herself from the couch to her Companion's shoulder. She encircled the Time Lord's neck like an old Earth style fur piece. (I remember seeing such on their old history tapes. Fortunately, they no longer do such vile things.)

The Lord President left.

As the door swished closed, Delenn again sat down. Her calm features became thoughtful.

I took this opportunity to leave. At least the Time Lord did not know as much as I feared she might. Good. Then the secret is still safe.

Long Tail stopped her story then. Her wise lemon eyes surveyed her class. She cleaned a spot on her white stomach and considered her next words. 'How many of you heard the story Many Paws told last Clan gathering?'

Many meows and eyes blinks answered her. Excellent. Most of her class.

'Then I will not repeat that part of the story. I shall continue with the next major event.' Her tail tip flicked. When instructing Kitlings, one had to always take care to phrase things properly. It would not matter how long she took before continuing.

'It was the human month of June.half a planet turn after Adyra's visit.'

I watch with interest as the humans meet with the Vulcans for the first time. Their science vessel arrived about mid day. Just dropped out of warp and smoothly sailed up to the station. It was fun watching the Earthers run here and there in panic. They're not used to being taken by surprise.

Of course, a science vessel is not a threat. The Vulcan captain hailed them and briefly explained why they were here. Just out exploring when they heard about Babylon 5 and had to come see. (And the Vulcans like to pretend they aren't curious. If they hadn't been, they would never have contacted the humans on Terra Epsilon and thus began the great United Federation of Planets.)

Captain Sheridan agreed to meet with them. I'm not sure why he chose the observation dome for this first contact situation. Maybe because it looks out on space and reminds everyone we're not alone. Or maybe.because it best shows off his station and the various ships which protect it.

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The Vulcans are not impressed. Ebony brows and slicked back hair lines grace noble features and finely sculptured pointed ears. They wear the uniforms of Star Fleet. Each jumpsuit has carbon pants and matching boots. Only the tops vary. Their captain's is red. Behind him is the science officer, in blue, and a couple of security people in gold. Each proudly wears a badge in a type of arch shape in glittering gold.

Their captain is familiar to me. The lines around his jet eyes give him an appearance of wisdom.

Captain Sheridan steps forward. I scuttle to a place where I can safely watch this historic meeting.

"I'm Captain John Sheridan. Welcome to Babylon 5."

The Vulcan captain lifts an eyebrow. "I am Captain Spock, of the Starfleet Vulcan Science Vessel, Elcar."

Spock! He is well known amongst us. The first Vulcan to entire Starfleet Academy. Science and First Officer to the mythic Captain James T. Kirk.son of Sarek and his human wife Amanda.both of whom helped shaped Federation have him here at this time.

"My Science officer, T'Palla." The only Vulcan female in the group bowed her head slightly.

The other two he did not introduce. Sheridan didn't miss this. Well, he didn't introduce his security people either. They were posted at the door.

"This is Commander Susan Ivonova."

"Welcome." She greets with a nod of her raven haired head.

"Dr. Steven Franklin."

The black man gave the group a warm smile. He likes meeting new species. Before the Earth-Minbari war, or so I have heard, he hitch hiked around the galaxy to gain as much medical knowledge as he could about other races.

"My head of security you've already met, as well as Ambassador Delenn."

They met the Vulcans when they beamed over. It was quite a shock to them. None of the races on Babylon 5 have transporter technology. The Vulcans chose a spot in the middle of the Zocolo. Probably because it was easiest to get a fix on.

Anyway, Delenn and Garabaldi escorted them from there to here.

"And these are Ambassadors G'Kar of the Narn Regime and Lando Mollari of the Centuri Republic."

The lizard like G'Kar and the rotund figure of Mollari both bowed.

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'Why should we know who was present?' Gnarl Stump asked. 'We all know the Narns were only important because they sided with the Earthers when Earth Gov tried to retake Babylon 5.'

'They played more of a role than that.' Long Tail gently corrected. 'When the Centuri retook Narn, G'Kar did Mollari a great favor. Because of this, when he became Prime Minister, Mollari freed Narn. Much later, he and G'Kar became strong allies.'

Long tail blinked. 'But we stray from our lesson, kitlings. Knowing who was present is an important aspect of history. It does not matter that neither G'Kar nor Mollari played a major role in this first contact episode. They were there. It is the accuracy that is important.'

She rose to her feet and stretched. Now would be good time to allow the kitlings to play. Besides, she was hungry and her kit mate Long Claw had been hunting all morning. He too, had not chosen a mate during the last set of dances. It was not uncommon for them to be together between matings.

'I will continue this lesson in the first sliver of the afternoon sun. Go, play and hunt.'

The kitlings scampered off. Soft Whisker looked disappointed. She held much promise as a future Chronicler. She was always asking for stories. Long Tail trotted over to her and touched her nose.

'It is important to know WHEN to stop a story and continue later.' Long Tail assured her. 'You will learn this yourself.'

Soft Whisker still didn't seem happy, but she left to join her mother and kit mates.

Long Tail turned toward the den she shared with Long Claw. In another planet turn she would have to return to Minbar and her current Companion. She would not be with her people until the next Clan Gathering. This was time she always treasured. She had been flattered when they had asked her to an instructor to the young. It was the first time she had been asked. She knew it would not be the last. She glanced at the sun and knew she had time for a meal and well deserved nap.

Happy, she trotted to her den.

The sun was in the appropriate place and all the kitlings had returned for the remainder of the lesson. Soft Whisker anxiously awaited Long Tails return. She wanted to know what happened. What did happen when two cultures cooperated and then clashed? did they resolve the matter? She had to know.

Long Tail strolled once again to the learning tree. She sat and began the story once more.

'It was the next day that Captain Spock met with Ambassador Delenn.'

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I've come to like Delenn very much. I spend my nights sleeping here and my days roaming the station. Except when something important is happening than I am at the event. And true, I do play with Garabaldi, and Marcus, when he is on the station, but when I need a safe place to sleep, I come here. I curl myself close to Delenn's head. (Hard to do since they sleep at a 45 degree angle.)

I sense, she sleeps better when I am here. This war has been hard on all. Particularly on her. She became Ranger One after Sinclair left. That was about five Earth years ago.

I am thinking of making her my Companion. At least she would understand the honor.

The door has buzzed. I wonder who that is? I raise my head. I've been napping on the counter again. I know I'm not suppose to, but Delenn never scolds me. She just gives me a look that says "You know better." And leaves it at that. Sometimes I get down and sometimes I don't. It depends on my mood.

"Enter." Delenn calls. She is working on a report for home.

"Ambassador." Spock's quiet voice states.

"Captain Spock." She stops working on her report, once again the inviting ambassador. "How may I help you?"

He is uneasy. This piques my curiousity.

"If I may have a moment."

"Of course."

Delenn indicates her couch. Spock sits stiffly down. She sits in her chair and waits.

"Their is an ancient legend about a mythic leader of the last Great War. It is said he spent a part of life on Vulcan."

Delenn nodded. "Lord President Adyra, of Gallifrey, told me this during her visit several months ago. Valen was taken to Vulcan by a Jedi. She thinks Valen died on your world."

His eyebrow points up again. I think she surprised him.

"Died, yes." Again a sense of unease. What is it that Spock knows that troubles him? Does he know the secret?

"I have spoken with the High Priestess on Mount Seleya. There is a place in the temple where few go. It contains the katras of those from long ago."

A puzzled look on Delenn's face.

I sit up. My whole body quivers.

"There is a katra there they do not know. It is alien."

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"What is a katra?"

"It is all a Vulcan is. the humans would say. At our moment of death we are entombed in one of the temples. In this way, who we are is not forgotten, our knowledge is preserved for future generations."

Delenn's face is stunned. I know the Minbari believe for each of them that dies, their soul is reborn into the next generation, thus keeping them strong as a race.

"And you think this alien katra is who?"

"We do not know. It does not speak to anyone. Not even the High Priestess."

Don't Delenn. Don't ask anymore questions. Your people do not need to know!

"Why come to me?"

Maybe she doesn't suspect.

"Because of the legend. We know little of this mythic legend. Perhaps it is he."

"But you do not know."

Spock shakes his head. "We have had contact with other races for centuries. It could simply be the mate of a Vulcan. My own mother's Katra is entombed at Seleya. Beside my father."

"Thank you."

A curt dismissal. I seen her use this tactic with the Rangers.

Spock at least picks up on it and takes his leave.

Her look is pensive. She glances at me. I decide silence and retreat are the best answers. I jumped down and scampered to her bed chamber and out the vent.

All the kitlings wait. Expectancy hangs in the air. Long Tail paused her story. How best to tell the rest of the story? She decided it would best to skip the intervening parts and get to the heart of the conflict.

"It was the Earth year 2271, in their month of July. An invitation came from the United Federation of Planets to meet with their leaders, and Starfleet Command, on Vulcan."

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It was a quick journey on White Star One. ( It was sleek vessel of shining silver, a beautiful combination of Minbari and Vorlon technology. ) We arrived in orbit around Vulcan and were welcomed by their government. (It is interesting to note that the Enterprise, under the command of Jean-Luc Picard, was there.) Nimbly, the Minbari crew landed Sheridan's flagship on the desert plains outside Shi-Kahr.

We were met by Captain Spock. He escorted us to a large domed building in the center of the city. Inside, there was an expansive garden, many offices used by Starfleet personnel, and, on one wall, a very detailed map of the planet.

It was by this map Delenn paused. Her eyes searched it and by sneaking a quick peak into her mind, I knew she was searching for Mount Seleya. She found it, but only seemed to note it as an absent observation.

Good. It would be better if she kept her curiousity at bay. Much better for her people if they never learned.

Of course, there were fun places to explore here. The leafy vegetation of the garden made excellent places to hide. I stalked many fluttering leaves and wiggling branches. Once or twice I encountered resident cats. They are descended from felines who came to Vulcan from Earth. For some odd reason the Vulcans adopted them.

Not that Earth cats are interesting to talk to. They prefer creature comforts to intellectual pursuits. Quite dull.

But the meeting was held in the garden area and I used it to entertain myself as the many introductions and various boring protocols were observed. I only returned when the major agreement was made. Captain Sheridan was not a stupid man. He could see that a diplomatic arrangement with the United Federation of Planets would be quite advantageous.

What he did not know, was that several UFP worlds had been attacked by unknown ships and the descriptions which were given of the Shadow vessels matched those of the very few survivors of these unprovoked and savage attacks.

In a sense, both parties used each other.

'I won't bore you kitlings with the terms of the agreement. Most of you know the basics of such.' Long Tail stood and stretched lazily. The wind bore a scent of an evening rain. A wind whirled through the gathered kitlings and she knew she would soon have to end her story.

'After the meeting a reception was held. And there appeared an unexpected guest.'

All talk abruptly stopped. I poked my head up above the deep green plant to see what was happening. Through the small crowd a tall dignified Vulcan woman marched with purpose. Her dull white robes never seemed to move. She stopped before Delenn. Very old, but wise, midnight eyes studied the Minbari.

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"I am T'Prambal. High Priestess at Mount Seleya. I have been awaiting you."

Delenn did a very good job of hiding her surprise. She smiled at the Priestess. "I am at your service."

"Come." The Vulcan turned and strode away.

I had to hurry to catch up with Delenn and Sheridan. He didn't seem to leave her side much. They loved each other, but hadn't yet come to an understanding. I think the strains of the war made it very difficult for them.

Outside the building the wind tore across the desert sands. Fine grains worked their through my fur and itched. I stopped to wash a spot on my back when I was suddenly grabbed and unceremoniously dumped inside a ground vehicle.

I was indignant. This was not proper behaviour in my opinion.

I ignored the four beings who I was accompanying and watched the desolate world hurl by. Delenn tried several times to discover why the Priestess had come, but never got an answer. It was always. "You will see."

I know I dreaded the answer. There are times when even WE, wish we did not know all that we do.

By Bast, this was such a time.

The many steps of Mount Seleya appeared finally. They seemed to climb forever into a deep haze.

The vehicle stopped and the T'Prambal lead the way. Captain Spock also came. I have heard he died and was reborn here. But none know for certain. The clan who had made the UFP their lives work all perished on Deep Space Nine during a mysterious uprising on Bajor. The details are sketchy. Even the Time Lords do not have an accurate record.

I scampered out on the hot sand and hurried to keep up with Delenn. The steps were long and tiring. I was panting when we finally reached the top.

Not an a very interesting place. Bare stone rock. Walls. Floors. Hallways. All seeming the same.

T'Prampal lead our party deep into the temple. It was warm. Dark. I could see quite well. The lighting used were faint globes of light imbedded in the walls.

I did sense the age of the place though. It was ancient.

"Why have you brought us here?" Delenn finally demanded.

"You are like this one." The High Priestess answered. She pressed her palm against an impression on the wall. "He wishes to speak with you." She stepped back removing her weathered hand.

Delenn hesitated. I could feel myself tense. Could it be?

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Slowly, she reached for the spot. She rested her hand against it and expression on Delenn's face changed from wonder to sorrow to fury. "!" she blazed at the Vulcan Priestess.

A slight uptake of an eyebrow. "I did nothing."

"Free him!" Delenn demanded.


"You are no better than soul hunters!" Tears began to roll down Delenn's face. "How could you." She turned to Sheridan who willingly took her into his arms. He rested his chin on her brown hair as she sobbed.

We knew it would be better if she did not learn. But it seems HE had other ideas.

I wonder why?

'Of course, kitlings, I did learn in time. It was actually a good thing.'

'Who was it?' Soft Whisker asked.

'I will tell you.'

We returned to White Star One. Delenn went to her quarters and would not speak with anyone. When morning came Sheridan went in search of her. He found her dressed in the robes of the Grey Council. (She was the only living member left. The rest had been killed in a Shadow attack many years before. The Minbari hadn't gotten around to replacing them. The Great War took all their efforts.)

"What are you going to do, Delenn?" John asked her. He didn't like it when she was a leader of her people. He always complained it made her seem cold.

"It is not our way." She answered. "I must make them understand that."

"We just made allies with these people, don't turn them into enemies."

"I have an obligation to him. You will not stop me."

"To whom, Delenn? Just who is it that you think is trapped in that temple of theirs?"


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'Of course it was Valen. We had known where he was for centuries. ' Long Tail decided not to go through the numerous arguments between Delenn and the High Priestess. Nor would she tell of the battle fought between the White Star and the Enterprise. A battle the Starship would have lost, had Sheridan not intervened and took their surrender. Most of the kitlings would hear the full account later in their training. It would better now to keep the details short and jump to the end. 'What followed in the weeks to come were many disagreements between Delenn and the T'Prampal. It almost destroyed the new alliance between Babyon 5 and the UFP.except, that help came in a very unusual way.'

We're here again. At the steps that lead to Mount Seleya. Delenn, dressed in Grey, and the High Priestess in her stately robes of white.

Delenn is again asking for Valen's release. The High Priestess is again saying no. Behind Delenn stand several Rangers. I know they are prepared to storm the temple and force the issue.

That is when I noticed the faint outline taking shape behind the two arguing females. It solidifies into a male form wearing black clothing and a light sabre at his belt. Around his body is a glowing aura.

"T'Prambal." He says. "Delenn." His voices holds a mystical quality.

Both suddenly notice him. "Why have you not asked Valen, WHY he chose to be interred here?"

I do not think this had occurred to either of them. They have both been far too busy defending their own view points. To the Vulcans it is a great honor. To the Minbari it is an abomination.

The High Priestess bows her head. I think she knows he is correct.

Delenn seems more hesitant.

Luke points up the stairs. Both women begin to move around him and climb.

Good. Maybe this silly argument will find a peaceful outcome.

The Rangers try to follow but the Jedi stops them. I scurry around them, and the specter, and hop up the high steps. I want to be there when the question is asked.

Light rain was falling. Long Tail decided she needed to take her class indoors. There was only one place large enough. She rose to her feet and began to lead the kitlings to the Gathering Den.

Trudging through the rain was unpleasant. She didn't like to get wet. Neither did most of the kitlings. They would all have to dry out very quickly with a thorough wash. That would take some time. She didn't intend to finish her story until she was dry.

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They finally reached the narrow cleft in the rock face. The kitlings hustled in, making room for each other and furiously licking themselves.

Long Tail made certain her entire class was there before she entered. Wouldn't do to have to answer to an angry mother for losing her precious kitling.

She cleaned herself as well, finally feeling dry. Settling on a still warm stone she kept a watchful eye on the youngsters. Most were almost dry. She would be able to finish their lesson soon.

As the kitlings arranged themselves on the dirt floor, kit mates huddling together for warmth, Long Tail decided it was time to finish her story.

'We retraced our steps to the ancient place.'

Once again we stood in the very old place. Delenn, with great reluctance, reached out her hand to touch the impression where Valen was. The High Priestess waited.

I could see the question asked in her hazel eyes. Then the pain at the answer. And the understanding. When she finally removed her hand she seemed far older. "I am sorry." She apologized to the Vulcan. " I did not understand."

I saw the unshed tears though. It was tearing Delenn apart. Whatever the answer was. "It was not our way." She murmured.

"Does he wish to stay?"

Sadly, she nodded. With that, Delenn turned and left the temple. I went with her.

'During the trip home, Delenn spent the time in seclusion. She didn't even tell Sheridan what she had been told.' Long Tail paused. 'Does anyone here understand the lesson?'

Soft Whisker rose to her feet. She did. 'By honoring the alliance the Time Lords already had with Babylon 5, the Lord President gave information to Delenn she didn't have. As did Captain Spock.' She considered her words. 'This lead to an alliance with the United Federation of Planets.'

'And the conflict?'

'Cultural. The Minbari believe when one of them dies, it is reborn into the next generation. The Vulcans believe the Katra must be entombed for the knowledge to be preserved for the future. The two clashed and almost caused the destruction of the new alliance. It could have been avoided by asking a simple question. Why?'

Long Tail meowed her approval.

Soft Whisker was filled with pride.

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Thunder filled the sky. Rain fell in hard sheets.

'Rest, kitlings. I think we shall have to spend the night here. Perhaps tomorrow, I will tell you the other half of the story. The end of the Great War. And true reason Valen had himself entombed.'

Thunder rumbled.

'But not tonight, my dears. Sleep now. Dream a good hunt.'

The den fell into silence as the kitlings fell asleep. Soft Whisker left her spot and the floor and snuggled close to Long Tail. She had the right. Long Tail was her grandame of two generations.

Soft Whisker only hoped she could one day tell stories as well.

Sixth story in the Felcat series. Felcat universe in an original creation of the author and copyrighted, Written permission must be obtained.