The alarm clock – or what we would call an alarm clock – went off at 6AM, it’s gentle waterfall and rustling wind tone getting louder and louder as time marched inexorably forward.

The blanket den did not stir.

The alarm clock – what we might still call an alarm clock – began to vibrate somewhat insistently, the nightstand that it was placed on rattling irritatingly.

The blanket den did not stir.

The alarm clock – what we might generously call an alarm clock, but what is rapidly becoming more of a nuisance to snooze-button hitters everywhere – began to turn on the lights in the boy’s room. Deep, moss-green walls were illuminated slowly, the lights embedded in the ceiling and intersections of walls going from a warm, soft glow to a bright, brilliant daylight. The room was somewhat tidy – or as tidy as could be expected from the youngest son, with only a few articles of clothing and college schoolwork littered about the floor. A faux window began to “open”, the viewscreen sliding the wall away to show the vista-of-the-day. Today it was from the POV of a drone on some pristine cliffs somewhere, their height and depth seeming to split the planetoid in two.

The blanket den mumbled some muffled protest, and huffed.

The alarm clock – what we will now firmly call an evil invention and a trespass of the Geneva convention – slowly lifted the bowl like den-bed, inexorably tilting it to rest at 120 degrees. As it did so, Ngruzren-of-Arzgr unceremoniously tumbled out of his bed in steps; first his legs, then his hips and torso, then finally everything but his head, which went by the rules of “if I’m still in the bed then it counts.”

However, at this point he was most unfortunately awake.

Grumbling, he stood up – still blanketed, of course, its’ heavy weight comforting him as he shuffled to the alarm clock, resting his unkempt paw ontop of the cruel device. After a few seconds the cacophony of annoyances stopped with a happy beep; the bed retracted into the floor and was covered, sitting flush with the rest of the ground. Ngruzren tossed his blankets into the recessed bin, smiling sleepily as he heard them thunk into the scrubber. Eyes squinted, ears back, he trudged into his own, personal bathroom – one of the few benefits of being a male, after all – and began his daily grooming ritual, slowly coming to consciousness as the brush bar worked out stray knots, errant dead hair and flaky skin cells.

Ngruzren-of-Arzgr cracked open his Navy Blue eyes, pupils shrinking as they were invaded by the sharp bathroom light. He sighed as he looked himself over; Dusty-blue fur, gray underbelly, deep blue eyes, boring boring boring. He winced as the brushbar traveled over his back, snagging on a couple unkempt knots of fur – usually he just lightly brushed over the spots that his clothing covered, but, for some reason today he felt he should just be a little more thorough. After the second snagged pass-through of the brush, he thought better of it, gave it a lazy once-over smoothdown with the flat back of the brush bar, and set to work on his teeth.

Ahh, yes. His teeth. Ngruzren-of-Arzgr grumbled as he opened his mouth, finding the few errant teeth that had grown loose overnight, and pushing them back into his gums. With that same delicate-but-firm touch, he ran his padded finger hopefully over a single large gap in his jaw; no toothbuds today. With an irritated flick of his ear he pulled open a drawer and brought out the box.

He hated the box, or more specifically, what was inside it. With a click of a latch the lid popped open, his prosthetic gleaming up at him, fresh and perfect from a sonic scrubbing. He picked up the device and ran his finger lightly underneath it, where it would sit on the gums; the teeth above rippled just slightly – just enough so that nobody looking would know that he suffered from Gaptooth… they would write off his slight lisp as just being natural. He opened his jaw wide and glared angrily into the mirror as he set the damned contraption onto his lower jaw, wiggling it back and forth to get the micro-servos to activate. With a firm pinch of his gums the device turned on, for a lack of a better word, and he ran his tongue on the inside of his jaw to test the seal.

“{Ba. Ra. Fa. Sa. Ka. Da. Br. Dr. Kr. Lr.}” He intoned, the device moving just a microsecond too late with every syllable. He stared at himself as he closed the lid on the box. “{Fihve more yearsh. Ugh.}” He rolled his toothline, gnashing the prosthetic in his jaws. “{Five more years. Five more years and then you’re going to throw this shade-damned bracer into the sun.}”

= = = = = =

Dzgranra-of-Arzgr was an accomplished homemaker. He had married young – well, relatively young, given his people lived at or just past a thousand years old – and had somewhere along the lines of 3 dozen pups between his three wives. His first few were the most hectic; no book, holo-seminar, retreat or clan denmeet can actually prepare you for having a screaming, howling little ball of terror that can disappear into the vents and behind furniture and under vehicles and doesn’t mind chewing on the insulation or hunting and devouring your collection of shoes.

After his eighth – which also happened to be his second son – he finally fell into a rhythm. Burrowers in bed by 6, Leapers by 8, family time with the Mrs’s from 10 onwards.

This was, of course, how he ended up with more and more pups. After his 23rd, he said “fuck it, they’ll live” and started running on autopilot as long as nothing was actively on fire, making a very concerning sound, or was an indicator of massive structural damage to the home. When news of this transformation in parenting hit his Father, Uncles, Grandfathers and Granduncles they nodded to each other sagely, and counted him as one of their own.

Dzgranra-of-Arzgr was busily flipping pitchercakes in the trough of boiling oil with his left hand, his right errantly mincing a few of the finished breakfast treats into a steaming pile of mush for his smallest children. With his left leg he scooted an errant ball away from the still-warm stove, his right leg having fallen victim to two of his youngest daughters who had latched onto it once they woke up and refused to let go, 30 minutes later. Suddenly there was a loud bang somewhere from the play-room, and a sharp howl of pain.

No pause beforehand. No warble of the throat. More surprise than actual injury – “{Grenzg, get your daughters please-}” Dzgranra called out from the kitchen, a few more of his older daughters (who really should know better) errantly stampeding into the dining-den by way of the most inefficient and most obstructive route – as children are often want to do.

“{Why are they my daughters when there’s an issue?}” Grenzgranr-of-Drezr said, smirking as she stood triumphantly in one of the doorways, a few pups under each arm. “{And how did you even know that they were my daughters anyway?}”

“{Because they take after their mother-}”


“{Now sit them down, I almost have the second batch done. It’s your day to walk my leapies to school-}”

“{I know, I know-}” Grenzgranr-of-Drezr said, rolling her shoulders as her daughters considered a prison break. “{Shall I gather everyone else up?}”

“{Mmm.}” Dzgranra said noncommittally. “{Has Rzkrenz gotten the boy?}”

“{No, I think she’s loading the shuttle.}”

“{Well, you know how kids are at their last molting – if he sleeps in again-}”

There was a sharp cry from a few of the younger children – this one of joy, and some tired, resigned murmurs reverberating from the stairwell. As if on cue, Ngruzren-of-Arzgr slowly tromped into the kitchen, a few of his very small (and not so small) sisters latched onto his legs, arms, or scrambling onto his back – not caring in the world that their sharp claws were all but shredding his clothing.

“{I got myself, Dad.}” Ngruzren-of-Arzgr said in a slightly exasperated voice as his little sisters cackled and howled with the glee and excitement that only those who have no responsibilities can enjoy. “{Need help?}”

“{Awww, come here my baby boy~}” Dzgranra cooed, momentarily leaving the stove to half-hug his last, and youngest son, making sure to keep his food-flecked paws away from his body. “{You look fantastic today!}”

Ngruzren stared flatly at his father, who beamed nothing but support and pride back at him. One of his little sisters took this opportunity to full-mouth bite his side, which caused him to grunt – breaking the moment.

“{Oi, no biting – Nk-Grenz?}”

“{Why is it always MY daughters?}” Grenzgranr-of-Drezr growled, plucking a few of the offenders off of her pack-son and tucking the squirming, protesting beasts under her arm. “{It’s not like you were perfect at that age either!}”

“{All my sons were absolutely perfect at every age, because they take after their father.}”

Grenzgranr-of-Drezr inhaled sharply as if to rebut the statement, but at the last moment thought better of it. Spinning on her heels, she hauled the 5 or 6 little tyrants into the dining-den. “{Well, what about Zni-Kzdzgrar?}”

“{Government business. Again.}” Dzgranra said in that dad-isn’t-yelling-but-wants-to-be-heard voice, Ngruzren silently standing next to him by the stove to help with breakfast preparations. Forming an assembly line, they got to work: as each still-steaming pitchercake came out of the hot oil, father handed it over to son, who dipped it in a bowl of an edible, congealing fat-wax blend, then placing them on a cooling rack to dry.

“{Mom’s working too hard.}” Ngruzren stated, matter-of-factly. “{It’s been three weeks of leaving before the pups wake and coming home after they’re put to bed.}”

“{I know, my little sweetmeat.}” Dzgranra sighed, dipping his paw into a bowl of mince and forming another cake before dropping it into the oil trough. “{She won’t even tell me what’s going on, but whatever it is it’s important. I just have to tell myself that.}”

“{Do you think so though?}”

Dzgranra hummed a bit to himself, then looked at his son with a …somewhat disturbing twinkle in his eye. “{Well. I don’t smell another man on her, and with how she wakes me up around midnight for-}”


Dzgranra chuckled, tossing a few more of the fried breakfast lumps to his son. “{You say that now, but you’re almost through your last child-molt. I know you’ve already gone through your first couple of seasons-}”

“{DAD. NOW?}”

“{Mmm, captive audience. Look, all I’m saying is, just keep your eyes open and your nose to the ground, ok? Girls are already noticing you, and you need to be aware-}”


“{I just don’t want you running off-}”

“{DAD. PLEASE. I’m not going to leap into an unmarked shuttlecraft because they promised me sweets and adventure.}”

“{IT WORKED FOR US-}” Grenzgranr-of-Drezr called out from the dining-den, the mass of children starting to behave with the promise of food on the way.

“{To be fair, it was a very luxurious interior. Real leather and everything.}” Dzgranra said, nodding slightly.

“{Dad, pleeeeease~}”

“{Oh all right, alright. What’s got your tail in a twist this morning anyway?}”

Ngruzren-of-Arzgr rolled his jaw a slight moment before answering, and his father immediately cut him off. “{You have to wait until you finish growing, son.}”

“{I’m within a few centimeters of being done! My jaw is basically as big as it’s gonna get-}”

“{You still have to wait.}”

“{Daaad. Come on, I just go to the clinic, we get a sequence done, I’m fine with surgery-}”

“{And they’ll tell you what I’m telling you now, boy! You still have to wait if you don’t want to risk a permanent lisp.}”

Ngruzren growled, and his father matched his growl in sympathy. “{I don’t… like it, Dad.}”

“{I know, son, I know. And I don’t know why you got it – that disease has been out of our family for 4 generations. But it’s not permanent like in the ancient days, and nobody knows you have a prosthetic.}”

“{Trilly knows.}”

“{Trilly knows because you told her, son.}” Dzgranra said, gently bumping shoulders with his child. “{Nobody knows – especially no girls.}”


“{I mean, that is why you care so much, right? Is it the Drezndz pack you have your eye on? You could do worse than union-backed silver miners-}”


= = = = =

“[Number 488, done. And …this should be in triplicate.]”

“{Done, and we have the originals archived.}” Kzdzgrar-of-Rzndzre responded, running down the checklist for the 15th time. “{Permits to build?}”

The Karnakian city planner flicked through something only her HUD could see before nodding. “[Yes. Four freshwater sources, well within the defensive grid of the city, easy hookups to all amenities. We lose the Grand park, but, it puts them right in the center.]”

“{I don’t think they’ll take all of it-}”

“[Not for a few generations at least.]” Mused the Jornissian treasurer, as he ticked off a couple things on his list. “[Which means they’ll most likely be building from the outside, in.]”

“{Fine, fine. So it’s us and Volshak-prime?}”

“[Yep, but only by dint of them being the system capital. They don’t have the space to offer without a massive public works project, and their city grid is too restrictive. We were blessed to have the city surround a park so large-]”

“{Yeah. I’m going to miss it, though.}”

“[GENERATIONS.]” the Treasurer emphasized, his deep-throated rumbling hum seeming to rattle the table itself. “[It’s not like we’re losing it tomorrow, and think of the economic gain!]”

“{Yeah, yeah. ‘Welcome to the first mixed tiny-chomper colony’ – come buy a souvenir vest, stay a while~}”

“[You say that, but the [humans] are going to be a boon to us; not just in increased tourism and trade, but also in general industry as well. It’s a full colony, which includes cultural artefacts!]” the Karnakian trilled, wiggling with slight excitement. “[The new perspectives could give us whole entire cottage industries that we would be the founding city of! This could change our planet for millenia-]”

“{We still have to win the bid.}” Kzdzgrar-of-Rzndzre growled, scratching tiredly at her muzzle.

“[Erm. Well, yes. I’ve resubmitted it-]”

“[49? Times?]” The Jornissian chuckled, throwing out a guess.

“[37, thankyouverymuch.]”

“{Mmm. All we can do is wait.}”

The three city administrators looked at each other for a few moments, before a slight twinge of worry crept back into the room.

“{Mmmmmaybe we just doublecheck-}”

“[Yeah! Ok, so item #1-]”