By all the Gods of all the worlds how do I get myself into these things? I swear I am such a fool for a handsome face. No wonder the other girls call me a Spacer-Chaser.
Jake asked me if I wanted to come with him and Arr down to the kennels to feed Kayo. That’s Jake’s protect dardolf. Dardolfs are not allowed on refitting stations except in kennels or locked in a person’s ship. They are very unpredictable. Since Jake’s ship, the Calpernia, is in for refitting Kayo had to be put in the kennels.
Before there was the partnership of Jake and Arr, there was Jake and Kayo. The dardolf has saved Jake more times then he would like to admit. Kayo is a working dardolf – protect level of the breed. Dardolfs come in a wide variety of sizes from draft level, through gaming level, to protect. They look like a cross between a wolf and a bear. Their front legs and paws are like a bear’s, they can and do, reach out and grab their prey. Right now Kayo was at the full extension of his very heavy chain with Jake playing dead weight at the opposite end. He was trying to grab me.
“Down,” Jake commanded. Kayo ignored him. The animal was loyal to a fault, but he didn’t mind worth a damn. I have known Jake for years, but Kayo has never let me near him. I don’t know why I bother to try except that somewhere deep inside I have this crazy idea that if I could get Kayo to like me maybe Jake would fall for me permanently.
“Sit,” Jake yelled. He had worked his way up to Kayo’s heavy metal harness. Anything less than metal and the beast would have chewed it off and ate it. He had a reputation for eating Jake’s gloves. Every time the guy got to the station Jake had to buy a new pair. The dardolf liked them so much that Jake sometimes used them as a treat to get Kayo to obey.
Kayo had settled down at this point to sitting at Jake’s side. Jake had a firm hold on the harness. Kayo was growling and baring his teeth at me. Not a good sign. I was trying not to show my concern since I had committed to this meet. Arr had fed the beast prior to his release from the cage, but it wasn’t much reassurance that the dardolf would behave.
“Arr,” Jake said, “Show 3su the way to Kayo’s heart.”
Arr came up and handed me a small brown bag. It was full of Red Raspberry Goo Chews – those disgustingly sweet kid candies that stick to your teeth. I must have looked unappreciative cause Arr smiled and said “They are for Kayo, not you. Toss him one.”
I just stood there confounded until Arr reached in pulled a treat out and tossed it to Kayo. He caught it on the fly - didn’t even chew once, just down the hatch, one gulp. He stopped growling and I swear he smiled. I didn’t know dardolfs could smile. His tongue is all hanging out and he looks like he’s the family friendly dog of the kid next door except he’s much larger and wearing a chainmail harness.
Arr and I had his full attention now. I tossed him a second and third chew. He was all happy and wagging his tail.
“What did you treat these things with Zat? He’s a different dardolf,” I said in disbelief.
“No drugs,” Jake said, easing up a bit on his hold. Kayo stood up and looked like he might lunge for the bag. After all, I wasn’t going to argue with him over possession of it.
“Down,” Arr commanded and Kayo immediately obeyed. He went down on his stomach. “Forward,” Arr said. Kayo inched forward crawling on his belly just like I’ve seen in the vides of working dardolfs in battle training. He made it to within a foot of me. “Stop,” Arr said and gave him the hand signal that accompanied the command.
I knelt down and was still at eye level with the critter. Yes, he had gone from beast to critter in a very short time. I tossed him another chew. It went down just like the others.
“Give him a stroke,” Jake suggested. “You can pet him now.”
I handed Arr the bag of chews and reached out tentatively to let Kayo smell my hand. He licked it. I must admit I giggled like a twit, but it was so amazing to be accepted after all this time. I put my hand on his head and ran my fingers thought the ruff around his neck. The breed comes from the planet Walh where it rains incessantly so their coats are three layers to keep them dry all the time. They are sooooooo soft. If they weren’t good for so many other things I am sure they would have been hunted to extinction for their pelts.
“That is absolutely amazing. How did you figure out he liked the chews of all things?” I asked as I stood up.
Arr reached in the bag. He tossed Kayo another and then popped one into his mouth. “I liked them, why wouldn’t he?”
Yuck, that was pretty revolting. I have never met an adult that could stomach Red Raspberry Goo Chews. Arr is more of a kid then I thought.