I let Leo and Tiger deal with the zoologist that was waiting while we unloaded. I set the mini leopard eggs in the living area before putting the pelts in the storage area to clean later. Mom pulled all the girls away and into the bathing room when we finished. After they were done it was our turn to get clean.

When we got out mom and dad took everyone to Kimber, the closest colony town. I stayed behind to start looking at the sat maps for our next site. I had just picked one below the great lake when Griffin lifted his head from my lap and looked across the room. I followed his look to see the warming pad shaking.

I stood and crossed to look at the eggs. They were rocking and had cracks running through them. I quickly went to the kitchen for meat from the stasis cabinet and then ran up to the storage rooms for fire and spice leaves. I was ready when the first egg cracked and spilled the tiny kitten out.

I started the leaves burning in the fire pit beside me and held the mewing creature until it quieted and started swaying. I pulled it back and started feeding it tiny slivers of meat. They broke shells quickly and I struggled to keep up and feed them. When they were finally satisfied and curled up to nap I cleaned up.

I sat and made a sling before slipping the kittens into it. I put the remaining meat away before returning to the map. Griffin and Hunter both put their heads inside the sling to smell the young animals. I rubbed Griffin’s ears, “they are to hunt the squirrel rats with.”

He sniffed and I smiled as I pet Hunter, “you need to teach Hunter how to hunt tree rabbits and lemurs.”

I marked the site I chose and went to start cleaning the pelts we had brought back. I was feeding the kittens again when everyone returned and the next thing I knew all the girls were helping. A few hours later we went hunting and I kept the kittens in the sling. When Leo pointed out the rat nest we were just turning to go back.

I looked at the huge ball of leaves and slipped the sling off, “Alex?”

She took the kittens as I took the large bag of fruit from Jade. I gestured and started filling Terrie’s and Sandy’s bags before using vines to swing out and away from the branch. I glanced back at my brothers as they watched and grinned, “wait until I tell you and then come out and beat on the top.”

I used my legs to grip a vine when I reached the bottom of the nest. I covered the only opening into the nest and glanced back. Leo and Tiger swung out and a minute later were beside the nest and held on with one hand while gripping the vine with their legs as they struck it. The dragons suddenly decided to help and landed on top and started digging and tearing.

The rats poured out of the nest and into the bag as I held it. When they stopped coming out I closed the bag and struggled to tie it. I used the end of a cord as my brothers moved back to the branch and then I tossed the other end to Tiger. I let the bag go and started back as he pulled it up.

When we returned to the house I took the bag and went up to the shop. I used a shop freezer to freeze the bag and the rats inside before dumping them out. I started cutting heads off and skinning the rats before cleaning them. I let Tiger take the small skins to clean them as I defrosted the bodies and took them down to the stasis cabinet.

It was a week before we left, Alex had another bird bat and Jade had three, the other girls each got a couple, one of mom’s had hatched her eggs. While we had waited the council had added a dozen flyer transport battery packs to our first site and reviewed the total cost of our work.

This time when I stepped out of the hatch of the cargo flyer Griffin and Hunter both flew down ahead of me. I had a large pack on my chest with the kittens and was careful going through the leaves. The others followed me just like before and we landed on a branch before circling a tree trunk and climbing down. We were less than a kilometer from the shore of the great lake.

We must have had luck riding with us because when we reached the thicker branches we needed we found the site. I glanced at the others before opening the comm, “we’re down and safe. We have the site already too.”

The pilot chuckled, “we’ll let your dad know.”

We selected a tree for the pod and hung up packs. I left the pouch of kittens with Alex before carrying the wood laser out to the end of the branch. Since we had done this before, things seemed to go faster and smoother. When I heard the crack of a rifle behind me I spun to see a leaf leopard collapsing to the narrow branch.

Jade was a little white faced as she lowered her rifle. Alex shook her head, “it came down from above.”

I set the laser aside before moving to the leopard. Something didn’t seem right when I looked at the wound carefully. I pulled my pistol before stopping and pulling fire and spice leaves out of my shirt. I knelt and set them just in front of the five hundred pound animal’s head. I lit them and watched as the leopard breathed in the smoke.

I almost shot it when I saw that but froze. Alex and Jade were pointing their rifles as I looked across at Tiger who was watching, “I need a lemur or a couple of tree rabbits.”

He turned to look around before saying something to Sandy, she turned to aim above her and fired before he sent his dragon after the lemur body. Griffin and Hunter were growling as they landed by me and faced the leopard that was shaking its head. I caught the lemur body when my brother’s dragon dropped it.

I turned back to the leopard before knocking the remains of the fire away. It lifted its head and I saw how dazed its eyes were before I cut off a shoulder and held it out. The leopard hesitated before taking the shoulder and chewing. It glanced around and I was ready to kill it but waited and cut the other shoulder off and held it out.

The leopard took it but its eyes were still a little glassy. I cut the back quarters off and fed the animal. When everything was gone it looked at me and I reached out to rub an ear and it leaned into it. I slowly pulled a med stimulator and gently tilted the large animals head down. I sprayed the gash where the bullet had struck and it shifted.

I rubbed an ear again, “still hungry?”

It lay down and put its head on its paws. I shook myself and glanced at my brothers and their girls before looking at the leopard. It was acting strangely like a lost cub and I moved it back on the limb, “watch it.”

Alex and Jade nodded and I used a long cord to tie it off to several limbs. We went back to cutting and were much higher than before when we got the call for the pod. I looked at the leopard before gesturing to Alex, “stay and watch her.”

She had been petting it and it was making a soft crooning purr. Guiding the pod down this time was nerve wracking since I kept worrying about the leopard turning on Alex. It settled into place perfectly and we fastened the ramps before putting the stairs together. I climbed back to Alex and the leopard and untied it and sent Alex down before backing towards the tree, “come.”

It took a little coaxing but it climbed down the tree and followed to the pod. I hesitated before calling Griffin and moving closer. The leopard growled and I spoke sharply, “NO!”

It looked at me before reaching out to smell. One at a time I brought the others close and the leopard smelled them. I gestured to Alex and Jade, “stay back when we hunt.”

I looked at the others, “I’ll cross my fingers.”

I climbed down with the leopard following and Griffin and Hunter flying ahead. I sent Griffin and Hunter after tree rabbits while I looked for something larger. I had just killed a Rainbow peacock feeding on vine melons when Griffin dropped down between me and the leopard.

I turned expecting it to attack but Griffin dropped a rabbit body and pushed it towards the larger animal. The leopard crouched as it looked at him before slowly reaching out to take the rabbit. Five times Hunter and Griffin killed a rabbit and brought back the body to feed the leopard, it was something I didn’t expect.

I killed four of the large birds before we headed back. Jade and Alex had been nervous but collected two large baskets of melons. At the foot of the ramp we were cooking dinner, the leopard lay just beyond us and watched until Emily walked close and it lifted its head. She knelt and held out something and I frowned, “what is that?”

Peter chuckled as the leopard smelled it and perked up before gently taking it, “blood fruit.”

Blood fruit was a different kind of fruit and unless you knew how to cook it, not very tasty. The leopard loved it and even licked her hand. She grinned and opened a pouch on her hip to feed it another. I wasn’t sure what to do with the leopard during the night but Sandy, Terrie and Emily coaxed it into the pod.

It sniffed the baby mini leopards as it went by but didn’t do anything. When I closed the door for the night it was resting beside the front grate. I didn’t get much sleep but when the morning storm started the leopard growled and Jade looked over my shoulder, “she doesn’t like the storm either.”

I reached out slowly to touch the leopard and it looked at me. I gestured and it moved closer so I could touch and pet it. I was surprised when first Griffin crawled onto it and spread his wings and then Hunter. The large animal put its head down and sighed and I shook my head. After the rain stopped and it lightened up I opened the door.

The leopard was the first out and lifted its head to smell before looking around. We had breakfast before climbing back to the branches to start cutting again. I was a little surprised we hadn’t seen more large predators and the girls kept looking below. When the wolfapes were spotted the leopard went from laying in front of Alex and Jade to crouching.

Suddenly it was gone, it dropped and moved straight across to climb up and attack as the wolfapes moved closer to Emily. It ripped the first apart and tore the second from shoulder to crotch. The rest fled as it roared. It looked around after they were gone before turning and moving back and climb up. Alex didn’t even hesitate and hugged it, “good girl!”

Jade rubbed her face and scratched under her chin. I turned back to finish and was surprised when we did without anymore animals coming for us. We started pulling beams out and putting them together as the girls sat on the pod with the dragons and leopard to watch. I smiled when I saw Jade feeding the baby leopards and the big one only watched.

We went hunting together and like before Griffin and Hunter brought their kills to the leopard. We still had meat from the rainbow peacocks, I had put two in one of the stasis boxes mom sent. Emily pointed out another cluster of blood fruit vines and we made several pouches before picking and filling them.

Even the bird bats seemed to like the leopard because several came to drop blood fruit for it. I was curious and sliced one of the fruits up and tried to feed the baby leopards. They were more than eager to eat it and I shook my head, “you learn something new each day.”

After we returned the leopard stretched out to one side as we cooked and I frowned before moving to feel its tummy. It shifted nervously but didn’t do anything, I moved away after rubbing against its cheek. I looked at Alex and Jade, “its pregnant.”

They looked at it and then grinned. Alex moved to sit by its head and pet her, “its okay Momma.”

We had roast peacock and vine melon with cooked spice leaves and it was delicious. I saw the lion as we were finishing and pulled my pistol. Strangely it was with its mate and only watched us. We cleaned up as I watched and moved into the pod. We had a lot more room but the leopard stretched out by the grate again.

I fed the blood fruit to it and the baby leopards before it got dark. Griffin and Hunter moved to lay against the leopard and it sighed as it put its head down before the other dragons joined them. Alex rubbed my chest after stripping, “can we...”

Sandy or Terrie moaned from the darkness and Jade giggled, “do that?”

I grinned as I finished undressing and turned to feel and caress Alex. She shuddered when her sister started sucking on a nipple. I finally turned and moved over her and kissed her as I pushed into her. I fucked her slowly with long, deep thrusts. It was only a couple of minutes before she shuddered as her pussy squeezed.

She was lifting and thrusting up each time I pushed into her. Every couple of minutes she pulled me down to kiss me as she spasmed and jerked. It was over ten minutes before I thrust into her and kissed her hard as I began to gush and spew cum. She shuddered as her pussy grasped and milked the cum into her.

When I stopped cumming she sighed and Jade giggled, “my turn.”

I pulled out of Alex and nudged her, “move over Jade.”

I laid back and Jade straddled me before slowly impaling her pussy. She sighed and wiggled before starting to rock and thrust back and forth. I kneaded her breasts and pinched her nipples and she jerked and shuddered as her tight pussy gripped my cock. She grinned in the dim light from the glow moss and began to twist and roll her hips.

It wasn’t long before she was erratic and shuddering hard. Her tight pussy kept grasping and squeezing and I finally pulled her down and rolled. I started fucking her hard and deep and she lifted her legs and spread them. I wasn’t trying to hold back and humped into her on each thrust. It was awhile before I thrust into her and held her as I began to cum.

She jerked as her pussy tightened and clutched me as she moaned. When I stopped cumming she slowly put her legs down. I kissed her and pulled out before laying back and glancing outside. The leopard chuffed before looking outside again and Alex giggled.

I let Jade put her head on my shoulder and reached up to pull the mini leopards down against my other side. I tried to stay awake but since I didn’t sleep much the night before I drifted off. I woke to growling and it wasn’t just from the leopard. I reached up for my pistol and flashlight before moving over the kittens and going to the door.

I really couldn’t see anything and turned on the flashlight. The leopard roared with the dragons as the two lions appeared on the other end of the ramps. I aimed through a hole and fired before shifting my aim and firing again. The first shot hit the lion on the right and went in the left eye, the second shot went in the right ear of the second lion and exploded out the other side.

The leopard and dragons were still growling as I lowered my weapon. Peter, Tiger and Leo moved up next to me and I reached out to touch Griffin, “quiet.”

The two lions were convulsing as I turned to reach for my pants. Leo opened the door for me as I stepped out and looked up using the flashlight. I turned back and moved towards the two dead lions and checked them. The only reason they hadn’t fallen was the other branch and the two ramps. I put my weapon away before kneeling and starting to skin the first lion.

I was surprised when I cut it open and found eggs. I glanced at Tiger as he came to help, “get the warming pad.”

I worked the eggs out and checked them. There were only four but they were very large and soft, almost like wet leather. Tiger held the pad as I put the eggs in, “I don’t know if they will hatch but the zoologist will go crazy if they do.”

I rolled the pelt up and Leo and Tiger both helped tilt the body over to drop down. I skinned the second lion and rolled the pelt up before using a cord to pull both up out of reach. We worked together to dump the lion off the ramp before washing up. When I came in the leopard stood and came to rub her face against me.

I wasn’t going to sleep and neither was anyone else. We sat together by the front and ate while watching as the morning storm began. The girls took turns petting the leopard as Griffin and Hunter crawled onto her and spread their wings again. I finally used the sat comm to call home. It was several minutes before it was answered, “what happened.”

I smiled as my brothers snorted, “we are fine, the pod works wonders. We need a consult from the zoologist. We retrieved eggs from inside a lion and need to know if they might hatch.”

There was quiet and dad came on, “I’ll give him a call as soon as...”

I broke in, “the lion has been dead less then two hours. We need to know if the heating pad will keep them warm enough.”

I looked at Momma, “we also have a new member to the family. A leaf leopard was shot but only stunned. I used smoke while it was out and fed it and it has been with us for over a day. The dragons have been feeding it and protecting it from the storm, she is also pregnant.”

There was more silence before dad answered, “I’ll get Dr James and be there as soon as we can.”

I shut the comm off and turned to let Momma put her head in my lap. I was careful not to touch the scar on top of her head but caressed her cheeks. As soon as the rain stopped we moved out of the pod and began putting together the beams. It was almost two hours before dad called, “Firehawk.”

I had my hands full and looked at Alex. She grinned and answered, “we’re here.”

“We are almost there.”

I started attaching the beam bracket, “tell him to follow the standby beacon freq.”

Peter stood from his corner and then Tiger. Leo was having trouble as they went to get the fifth corner together. I finally stood when I heard the transport. We only had the center ten meters left so I hoped they had brought the grating. Alex held Momma as the transport started down and we moved back. Like before they pushed out the grating and we moved it.

After it was off loaded dad and the zoologist, Dr James jumped down using anti grav vests and belts. I led them back and knelt to rub Momma’s cheek. She started growling but let dad come closer before looking at the other man.

He moved slowly and kept his hands away while looking her over, “she is almost two I think. She might have a concussion but her eyes look clear.”

I stood, “she isn’t what I needed you for.”

I turned to lead him to the tree and then down onto the pod and around and inside. I showed him the pad that barely covered the large lion eggs. He sucked in a breath as he knelt and felt them. He pulled out another large blanket like heating pad from his pack and moved the eggs, “this will be better and keep them warmer.”

He glanced at us, “the lion wasn’t far from laying them so they may hatch.”

I glanced at dad, “want to stay with him while we finish the platform?”

Dad smiled, “you mean keep him out of your hair.”

I nodded and he snorted, “sure.”

It didn’t take long to finish the beams and we went to work on the grating. Halfway through Momma went to a crouch and Alex gestured to get our attention. I followed Momma’s look and gestured to Sandy, “come this way.”

She moved onto the platform with us as Emily aimed at the other leaf leopard stalking towards us from a side branch. Momma was growling as Alex and Jade knelt and aimed before Emily fired as the leopard reached a wide section on the branch. Peter fired an arrow that took it in the chest as it convulsed and started to slip off the branch.

He barely held it while we went to pull it back up onto the branch and started skinning it. I smiled at Peter as we worked, “we should bring large capture nets and place them around on the branches.”

He laughed with my brothers before we let the body fall. It was a couple of hours before we were completely finished, including the walkway to the side branch and down to the pod. We gathered on the pod, it was time to hunt. Dad and the Dr James went with us and they were both shaking their heads when Griffin and Hunter brought tree rabbits back to feed Momma.

When the small bird bats brought the blood fruit Dr James was stunned. I killed a lemur digging in a phoenix nest and pulled it in before deciding to check the nest out. A phoenix was like a peacock in that it ate fruit but the head looked like a falcon or hawk. It weighted maybe five kilograms and had reddish orange feathers that reflected like it was on fire.

I used a vine to climb down the side of the branch and turned the nest to look into the opening. I grinned when I saw the babies and opened a pouch before reaching in to pull them out one at a time. When I climbed onto the branch I held the pouch out to Jade, “their only useful as decorations.”

She cooed at the frightened chicks as I took my bow from dad. Dr James hovered at her shoulder to look at the chicks as we headed back. Dinner was on top of the pod and Dr James almost leaned on me as I sat beside Momma while feeding the young mini leopards.

More then once Momma nudged one of the young back towards me and dad finally chuckled, “I understand why you named her Momma.”

I grinned at Alex as she blushed, “that was Alex after I felt the eggs.”

When it started getting dark we went inside and closed the grate door. Dad and Dr James stretched out beside us and Jade grumped, “no sex tonight.”

Dad heard and chuckled, “you can molest him when you get home tomorrow.”

Alex laughed as she pushed Jade down and kissed her. I shook my head and settled the young mini leopards and reached out to touch Momma. The first rumble of the morning storms woke me and just from the feel I knew it was going to be bad. Momma was almost shaking as Griffin and Hunter covered her and I moved closer.

Dad moved over the girls, “she is afraid of the morning storms?”

Jade shifted, “I’m not thrilled with them either.”

Lightning shattered the dark and Momma mewed pitifully which brought the other dragons. They pressed against her and spread their wings to comfort her. Dr James came closer, “she must have had a bad experience.”

It wasn’t long before the lightning and thunder was almost constant and we couldn’t talk. Everyone was up and moved to the front as it rained so hard we couldn’t see out. When it finally stopped raining I opened the door and stepped out with my pistol. It was clear so we ate breakfast before packing up.

The transport arrived an hour later and I sent everyone ahead to load up. I wasn’t sure Momma would get in the transport and coaxed her along. When she peered in and saw the others and Griffin she slowly climbed in. She laid on the floor and Griffin slipped off his seat to lay against her. She growled when the transport lifted but didn’t move.
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