aaaaaannnnnnnddddd i'm back. i know, i know, it took me foooorrrrreevvveeerrr to get this new chapter out and i'm sssssssooooooo sorry. i will never try to do that again. my orginal plan was just for it to be a couple of days, depending on how long it took for me to get the motivation to get to the next chapter, but then July got here and i had to spend the whole month with relative and i didn't bring my laptop and didn't have access to a computer for the first week, couldn't get my little brother to stop playing minecraft for the next two weeks, then i didn't have access to a computer again for a week, then i got reunited with my laptop, but i needed more motivation again, so i finaly got myself to type yesterday and finished today. i will not try to keep you waiting so long again, but shool's coming up in a week or two, so i can't make any promises. you are now probably wantng to get on to the story, so i'll stop talking now. i give you, 6 or 7 hours of distracted typing!

As the wranglers walked closer and closer to the huge wooden structure, more two-legs dressed in crisp, blue uniforms walked up and took the ropes from the wranglers. Star still struggled as wildly as ever to get free, but as she was led through the doors and they were closed behind her with an ominous thud, her will seemed to evaporate.

While they had been walking there had always been some way to escape. There had been wide open fields for miles around and she could have easily gotten away if she'd only freed herself, but those doors that had just been closed sealed off her one chance at freedom, the only way that she could have possibly escaped. Now it was time for her to play the waiting game, to wait until a moment when the gates were open and she was freed of any bonds tying her up, when she could make a break for it and help the other horses escape with her, then she could run like the wind with all the other horses until they were safe and sound back in her homelands. But now was not that moment. Right now, she had to wait, be patient, and save her energy for when that moment did arrive.

While Star looked around, assessing the building and looking for any other possible exits, (although when her father talked about his days with two-legs he'd only ever described the one possible exit that had just been sealed off from the horses) Dust and Lightning looked around in terrified amazement at the inside of the fort.

Two-legs holding lethal-looking metal rods with thicker wooden ends patrolled the battlements. On one side there was one long stall that usually held all the horses there, another held all the barracks where soldiers were going in and out like ants. A corner held a roofed over area with a fire pit in it and a fat two-leg was hunched over, clanging away with a hammer and a very large and very small piece of metal. In the very center there was a large corral, and a few separate posts, one inside it and one out of it. There was also a large metal pole with a flag fluttering on it. The flag had red and white stripes on it and one corner was solid blue with white stars on it. All of the two-legs except for the one banging away at the piece of metal were wearing blue uniforms, with slight differences in the uniforms depending on their rank.

The two-legs stopped them as row upon row of other two-legs riding upon brown horses trotted in perfect rows in front of them. Another two-leg rode up on a horse to them, but this one seemed different from the others. He had an air of command about him that the others didn't. Like the others he had on a blue uniform, but he also had a blue cowboy hat shading his eyes. He had shoulder length brown hair, and a brown mustache and small, neatly trimmed beard.

One of the two-legs ran up to him and saluted. "Sir! These are the horses that the wranglers have brought in." the two-leg with the cowboy hat looked them over. Dust and Lightning huddled closer together as his gaze swept over them, but when his eyes locked with Star's, she stood up straighter and met his eyes defiantly.

He nodded his approval and pointed at Star. "We'll start with her. Take them over to Murphy, but when he starts with her make sure she is securely tied up. She appears to be descended off of that buckskin stallion we had several years ago, and, if you will recall what happened then, it would be better to be safe than sorry with her now, Lieutenant." The lieutenant saluted and directed the other two-legs holding the horses to the area near the fat two-leg.

They dragged Star into the posts and tied her up as Murphy came out of the shadows. First they tied a rope halter that had a piece of cloth that covered up her mouth and nose to her head so that she couldn't bite anyone. Then they tied her head up so that she could barely move it. They also tied each of her feet to the four posts around her so that she couldn't kick anyone, and tied up her sides so that she couldn't lean against the rails. So, it was nearly impossible to do anything at all. Nearly.

After that Star got her first good look at the two-leg they called Murphy. He was a large two-leg, with balding reddish-brown hair and a mustache. He wore a large smitty's apron over his blue shirt and brown shorts, and had long, black protective gloves. When he saw Star all tied up he paled slightly.

"Why's that mare all done up like that?" he asked nervously. One of the other two-legs grinned "She's supposed to be that other stallion's girl, Murphy. Don't worry you'll be fine. It's a mare this time, and she's already tied up for yah. What's the worst that could happen?" Murphy glared at the speaker. "Last time, I'll remind you, the stallion managed to free himself and put me in the infirmary for 3 days. I don't care if this is a mare or not, that stallion and his whole family are devil's spawn." The other two-leg sighed "Just get in with it Murphy. Yah got 2 more after this one." Then he turned and walked a short distance away. He'd seen the mare fighting outside and he wanted to be a safe distance away by the time Murphy pulled out the red-hot brand.

Murphy sighed and grabbed a pair of scissors. Let's get this done with quickly, he thought and he grabbed a handfull of her long mane to start snipping away.

He's nervous; Star thought to herself, he's scared of me. Well, we can't let him be scared for nothing, now can we? She'd been, unnoticed by the other two-legs, getting her head loose. One more big tug should get her head out. As she felt him grab a handfull of her mane, she jerked her head back, out of the rope halter, and bit down hard on the hand holding the scissors. She let go quickly in surprise when she felt bones snap under her teeth. Murphy yowled in pain and another two-leg led him away.

When he came back his hand was thickly bandaged, and he looked reproachfully at the horse. Then he took a horseshoe, some nails, a hammer, and a small knife and untied her right back foot and started to clean it out with the knife. He didn't try to trim her mane, though. He needed to have all the fingers on both hands to be able to bend to do that. As his attention turned to a pocket in his apron to grab some other things, Star quickly pulled her hoof out of his grasp and kicked him.

She had aimed for the back of his head, but, luckily for Murphy, it was slightly bent downwards, so there was less damage. Star still hit his head, but instead of her whole hoof hitting square on the middle of his head, half of her hoof hit the top of his head. But he still sprawled out, unconscious and bleeding from a cut on the back of his head. The two-legs stared in amazement for several moments before reacting. Several of them picked him up and carried him off somewhere. Star snorted. Her work was done for now.

Rain trotted over slowly to an open patch ground and laid down slowly on her side. Then she whinnied to Spirit. He trotted over to her and she lifted up her head as they rubbed foreheads. Then she said gently to him "I'm alright, dear. Little Creek won't let anything bad happen to me. You and Thunder need to go find Star and Lightning. I'll be just fine." He sighed. Spirit knew what she said was true, but he still didn't want to leave her. She smiled up at him. "Go." She insisted. Spirit nodded. "Alright. I'll take Thunder and go find them. And when I come back, I'll have all three of them safe and sound." Then he trotted down to the others.

Little Creek was concerned for his former horse and was going to go check on her when Spirit trotted back down the hillside. He stopped in front of the young man, and looked into his eyes and an understanding passed between them. Spirit was going to leave to go to the cavalry fort to look for his foal and he was trusting him to take care of Rain. As Spirit turned and whinnied to Thunder, Little Creek thought of something and called "Wait!" to the horses, then called "Sunkwa!" And a young boy, about 16 or 17 years old ran up to him. He was Rushing Stream's best friend and could be trusted to bring her back safely.

To Spirit he said "Let him ride with you." Spirit snorted, then whinnied to Thunder and pawed the ground. Thunder gave a confused whinny in reply, then Spirit repeated his previous actions and Thunder whinnied back and nodded his head, then turned around.

Sunkwa looked confusedly at Little Creek. "What's going on?" he asked. Little Creek replied "Rushing Stream and Asheeba should have gotten back from the fort by now, but they have not. Several days ago wranglers passed through with horses from the stallion's herd, and took them to the fort as well. The black stallion is letting you ride him at least to the fort so that you can find Rushing Stream and Asheeba, and they can find the horses taken from their herd. I want you to go with them, since I have to take care of the mare, and the stallion will trust no others to take care of her."

Sunkwa nodded and slowly walked up to the stallions. He hesitated as he passed Spirit, but the buckskin stallion gave the boy a hard nudge towards Thunder, which got him moving again and he climbed aboard the large black horse. Once he was safely aboard and gripping the horse's mane in his hands, he turned and waved goodbye to Little Creek, who then waved back and called "Goodbye!" as they galloped off. "Be safe." Little Creek whispered as the horses' long tails waved goodbye and they disappeared from sight over the hill.

The sun was beginning to set as he turned back towards the horses. Rain's distressed whinnies brought him out of his thoughts. It's going to be a long night he thought as he headed back to the pregnant mare. A really long night.

okay, here's a the answers few things you are probably thinking right now. 1. yeah, yeah, Murphy, got kickered in the head. he's not dead, or paralyzed or anything, okay? he just has like a minor concussion or something, but he's not gonna die. he'll wake up in 3 or4 days. i just needed to get lightning and dust out of the beauty shop o' horror for several days until some other important action takes place. i would never kill anybody in this story. 2. yeah, Sunkwa's name isn't in english, but neither is asheeba's (although that little coyote pup's name is the only truly original, creative name i've ever come up with.) and i stink at coming up with names, so i went tobing and typed in 'cool native american boys names' and i found this whole sight full of them. apperently its sioux for thundering horse, which i thought was appropriate since he ries thunder :) 3. okay, most people probably aren't wondering this. but: miss/mr. guest spiritfan person, yes i am calling you out! i love love love your idea for a foal, but i already have an idea for rain and spirit's last foal. don't worry though! im using your idea in an even bette spot. ;)