Feral! report — Day 1 and 2

Well now. As it appears Jeffery Core has begun posting his report on Camp Feral!, it would appear I must do likewise, lest I appear to be a slacker. Besides, I am sure that one or two of you are curious to know what it was all like. Check his blog for the short version once you reach Friday morning.

My adventure began a day before the ‘fin’s, because I had the great idea to fly from Charlotte to Toronto the day before we were to take the bus to camp, so I would not have to get up early or make it from the airport terminal to Yorkdale at top speed, especially since I had to clear customs and all that. (As it turns out, that concern was for nothing.) Anyway, after dropping off my four-legged friend Virgil and experiencing separation anxiety, I made it to the Charlotte airport. Now, I always give myself a few extra minutes because I always opt out of the scanner, and the TSA always gives me the up-close-and-personal screening instead. You also immediately become their lowest priority when you do opt out. They make you sit there and wait for a while.

Finally get through security, force myself to eat a little bit of something for lunch (a hamburger that wasn’t all that interesting), and board the plane. All well and good so far, but once we taxi to the runway, we just sit there. When you have a connecting flight, sitting there is the last thing you want to do.

After a few more minutes of waiting and the coyote on the verge of panic, we finally take off, and before too long we’re at LGA. Maybe it was longer than I thought… I was reading Jeffery Core’s story at the time. Of course, when I land I learn that my plane to Toronto is in a different terminal, so I have to leave the secure area and go through my second TSA encounter of the day.

In the future, be very careful when you have a connecting flight at LGA.

I finally make it to Toronto and go through customs. They waved me through in a hurry, no questions asked. I was slightly surprised; most countries I’ve visited ask “Where are you staying?” at the very least. I get my bag, hop on the Airport Rocket from Terminal 3, and away I go to the hotel, taking the subway along the way. I like their subway; it is clean, if kind of old.

I do some sightseeing around the hotel, find food, and retire for the night.

Next day I get up rather early (I tend to do that) and did some more sightseeing, walking from the hotel, to Queen’s Park, to the CN Tower. Along the way I stopped at Tim Hortons for breakfast and also exchanged some of my American money for Canadian at the bank. By this point I am not running late yet, so I check out of the hotel and get on the subway to Yorkdale.

Then an announcement comes over the intercom: the train I am on is being taken out of service, so everyone must get off at the next stop. So we do, and we all wait for the next train. That one actually made it all the way to Yorkdale though.

I know Jeffery Core is waiting for me somewhere in Yorkdale, but first I have to find my way around. The layout is actually rather simple, but it was still enough to be disorienting and I wanted to make sure I did not take a wrong turn. When he and I finally meet, he’s been waiting for about a half hour. Don’t feel too bad for him, though. I was a few minutes late, yes, but he was also early. We embrace, find food at KFC (it wasn’t wonderful), and meet up with a few others going to Feral!. We walked with them to the meetup point which was in a residential area, and kind of hung out until the bus pulled up and everyone was ready to go.

While I enjoyed Feral! and appreciate the work the staff put into getting everything organized and ready, I must tease them for a moment. While waiting for the bus, I began developing an idea of what I called “Feral! time,” which I took from my trips in Latin America. That’s when you say one time, but you really mean some indeterminate minutes later. The bus was supposed to leave at 2 PM sharp… it was more like 2:40 PM dull. The Canadians talked about how hot it was, but this Southern ‘yote was quite happy in the mild heat. Maybe it was a little on the warm side, but surely they were exaggerating.

After about five dozen head counts, we were on our way. The ‘fin and I talked for a bit, but he was tired so he tried to nap. Others successfully napped in very awkward positions on the seat; how they did it is anyone’s guess. There was quite a bit of traffic between Toronto and Barrie, putting us even more behind, but we did eventually make it to our Tim Hortons stop. They gave us 15 minutes. About 40 minutes later we’re all back on the bus and ready to keep going.

We go farther and farther into the wilderness, and finally we arrive at Arowhon. It’s gotten noticeably cooler as we’ve traveled, so I’m beginning to wonder just what the weekend will be like. It’s fine though. We stand in line to get our badges (they got my species wrong! : ( ) and sponsor bags, and then we eventually find ourselves in a cabin.

The cabin hunt is a story all by itself.

We drop off our things, we have supper, get acquainted with the grounds and some of the campers, and then it’s time for sleep after a snack, and a late-night talk with Callaster Nightwings. Well, try to sleep. It’s hard to get to sleep the first night someplace new, especially when the beds are a little harder than you’re used to.

That Obligatory Furry Dream

It is not altogether unusual to hear my fellow furries describe fandom-related dreams they have experienced, often with some sort of transformation theme. Until this week, I had experienced exactly two furry dreams in my life, and both are from high school.

And then this week was the super-rare (for me) transformation-related furry dream. In keeping with many dreams, none of the events actually happen to me; I am an observer and nothing more. In the dream, a husband and wife explorer – at least I think they were husband and wife – end up being a little more feline than they were anticipating. Why feline I’m not sure, considering I’m not overly fond of those. But that’s what they were.

I can understand to a point why these dreams are enjoyable. Because I am a writer and storyteller, a dream like that is amazing for me, because the dream presented itself in story form, almost as if I were watching a movie of the event. As is typical for the coyote, there were some skips in the scenes and a moment or two replayed itself, but it told a cohesive story.

If only I could write it down. I tried to earlier this week, and the attempt simply was not vivid enough. I’m not good at writing about expeditions in strange places, apparently.

WagzTail 2.0

Those of you who have not forgotten this blog exists might remember a couple years ago when I linked to the WagzTail podcast. As it turns out, that particular incarnation kind of fell to the side for an indefinite time, because people were otherwise busy (life has a tendency to be that way).

But it has re-started! WagzTail 2.0. We are still the Christian Furry Podcast People (that’s not going to change), and we actually have plans to maintain weekly episodes this time!

Anyway, all podcasts are available for download on the web page: http://wagztail.com/ Go have a listen! Unfortunately you can no longer take the podcast quiz announced on certain episodes. Those have expired.

But there will be others in the future!

WagzTail

In the Links of Interest on the right-hand side of the page, you’ll find a few resources that are, well, of interest to me and perhaps to some of you. Of course, only two of the five are furry-related. The rest have some connection to DIOM, another interest of mine.

I would like to bring your attention to Wagztail, the Christian Furry Podcast. It is a family-friendly podcast aimed at Christian furs, often covering a wide range of topics. Some past topics: Maintaining Christian morals in mainstream furry culture, knowing God’s will in your life, and even music likes and dislikes.

I will admit I have not listened to all of them (I usually can’t sit still long enough and pay attention), but those I have listened to, I found enjoyable. Go take a look!

It can be reached here: http://wagztail.com/

Updates have been sporadic of late, due to busyness and life on the part of the producers.

Shifting the Blame

It has been proposed, both periodically and recently, that the furry fandom has little to nothing of value for the Christian, and that any attempt for a Christian to begin a ministry in this field is doomed to failure because of the nature of the fandom; that is, furry and Christian are incompatible and a union of the two causes a Christian to backslide. An individual’s life is appealed to as evidence for this claim. He stumbles upon an area of the fandom that catches his interest. Perhaps this area isn’t even one of the dark ones, which we already know are filled with garbage. Then, for some reason, thoughts that do not please God enter into his mind. He entertains the thoughts, even though he knows he shouldn’t. And so he enters the downward spiral into bondage, trapped by sins in his life.

Admittedly, my above example is a gross generalization of what actually happens. I could instead have provided a specific example from my past, because I am too familiar with this bondage, but because of a desire to keep the blog as clean and viewer-friendly as possible, I have chosen not to do this. Perhaps another time you can hear.

Most if not all of my readers already know about the fandom’s dark side. This is the part of the fandom that exists to satisfy sexual desires inconsistent with God’s plan for man. Whether it be erotic artwork or stories, or a piece that satisfies any imaginable fetish, it is out there, and unless you’re a furry living under a rock you know where to find it. It does not take much of an imagination to wonder how exposing oneself to this would lead to anguish and bondage to sin. I won’t go into any more detail on this.

But what about those parts of the fandom that are innocent on the surface, but which cause individuals to stumble? This, I think, is where the debate lies. The dangers of the obvious dark side are present and known to all who wish to see them.

Quickly, before I continue, I want to present what I label as innocent in this post. I mean general artwork, stories, music, role-playing and interacting with others. Yes, these can be used for evil purposes, but that misses the point. I want to know if the fandom really does cause an individual to fall, or if the problem lies elsewhere.

I cannot deny that some professing believers in the fandom are slaves to sin, in rebellion against God. And I cannot deny that they appeared to be in a better position than this at some earlier point in their lives.

What is going on?

Frankly, it makes no sense to accuse the fandom of leading a person to sin. Yes, any aspect of the fandom can be twisted and used for a perverted means. But is that enough to condemn it? Are we to say that because it is not immune to corruption, we must destroy it? If we do, then we must reject everything in this world. Including Christianity. There exists nothing, no idea or culture, that can stand against the corrupting influence of mankind. Even if the core message is pure, humans will seize it and use it to further goals never intended by that message. Look at our history. The message of repentance and love that we have received has held true for two thousand years, and no one will be able to take that away from us. However, battles have been fought, people have been murdered, because people take advantage of the message and turn it into something it never should have been. But I veer from the topic.

The core of the fandom is fantasy. Furries imagine worlds populated by different creatures, and they create societies based on these worlds. They enter the realm of the possible, the wished-for. A cat and dog playing tennis, pretending to chase one’s tail in IRC… none of this, on its own, is bad. It may be strange to the outsider, but it’s not wrong. It is pretend. It’s only wrong if it becomes excessive and uproots God, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

Because the fandom can be corrupted, because it can dominate one’s life, it is admitted that the fandom can be used as a means to cause a person to sin. However, that does not come close to the claim that the fandom is a gateway, and that those who value their relationship with God should abandon ship. The problem does not lie with the fandom itself.

The problem is the person.

It is not the fault of the fandom that a person falls to temptation. He falls because he acts on his own desires, as stated by James:

“…[E]ach one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

The desires he has may not even be sinful in themselves (and often aren’t). In the case of the furry fandom, there is something the fandom offers that, in moderation, is acceptable. But he isn’t pleased with that offering. He looks for a new thrill, or obsesses so much that it consumes his life. He does not exercise self-control, and the desires become something more. They become sins.

But the sin is too good. He doesn’t want to let it go. He knows he needs to. He knows it is wrong, but he is comfortable with it. Maybe he tries to let go of it. He turns his eyes and walks a few steps away, but a week later he’s embracing the sin again. It is his master, and he is the slave. On his own, there will be no escape.
However, pride will not allow him to admit that he is a slave to sin, especially if he supposedly repented years ago and calls himself a believer. So he looks for an excuse. The excuse can come in many forms, but in this instance, he places the blame on a conglomeration of ideas. He can avoid responsibility. But if he does this, then he will never come to repentance.

There is hope, of course. All is not lost. As John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

What is to be done?

Instead of placing blame on the fandom, those who have allowed themselves to become slaves to their sin should take responsibility for their own actions. If the fandom has caused you to sin, then repent and remove yourself from the source of temptation. Do not look for excuses, and do not add to your sins by casting a legalistic gaze on other furries.

Develop a relationship with your Maker and move on.

Challenge to Christian Furs

A few weeks ago, a friend posed this question to me: why does it seem that furries go to the furry fandom for comfort instead of to Christ? This is a fair question, and one that I have wondered in the past. The answer is simple, yet it is disheartening.

For those who do not know, the furry fandom sees itself as very accepting. Possibly due to the negative image the outside world has of the fandom, it is willing to accept other outcasts of society: sexual deviants, the irreligious, even anarchists. Put another way, the otherwise-minded. I could discuss the feedback loop this mentality creates – and probably will in another post – but for now we can leave it alone. But let me provide you with some data. According to the State of the Fandom 2008, approximately a quarter of furries are homosexual, a quarter heterosexual, and a third bisexual (the others gave no preference). Fewer than 20% of responders identified themselves as “Christian,” with the majority being agnostic and atheist. There were more pagans than Protestants. And furries tend to be much more open about their sexuality, their (anti)religious beliefs, or other behaviors. This adds another dimension to the analysis. But the overall attitude is one that will allow most any socially-marginalized mindset.

In other words, the fandom gives furries an opportunity to “feel good” about themselves, where they can experience what passes for love.

What does this mean for Christian furs? We find ourselves a minority in the fandom, generally opposed to the filth that makes up no small part of it. We are a sub-class of sorts.

Now, I said the furry fandom came across as accepting. I will maintain this position. However, there is a mindset that they are not as willing to tolerate, and that is evangelical Christianity. Why is this? I offer one primary reason: a perceived lack of love.

Mainstream furries see a crowd that has sacrificed the love of God for traditions of man, erecting an arbitrary standard based not on the Scriptures but on what they feel is acceptable. There is no love here. Instead, there is coldness, a silent look that tells the furry that “their kind” isn’t allowed here. And sometimes it isn’t silent, but a word of condemnation. So furries see a Church that is distant, that openly condemns them without knowing them. I think this is the largest hurdle Christians in the furry community face. And some in the fandom propagate this attitude. Without taking the time to see furries as humans, they instead focus on their sinful behavior and rail at them until the furries return the favor and respond with similar, hateful words. Our reputation has been tarnished by those who speak before they think.

This is not to say that we should ignore the darkness in the fandom. We can’t do that; we’d be abandoning our duty as Christians if we let them wallow in their chains, without declaring freedom. But we also can’t treat them as inhuman filth. God created them. They have value. And we must not forget that we were in darkness too, once.

I want to be like Jesus. He went to the ones who needed Him, speaking truth and love because He IS the truth and love! I do not want to wink at the works of darkness, but neither do I want to place myself on a pedestal, viewing those around me as lower than I am. I want to live my life in full surrender to God, seeing His creation as He sees it and doing as He directs, no matter what.

Anyone else?

Enan’s Story

Okay, I enjoyed this story more. Let’s see if it’ll all fit. (Oh, and Enan, being Enan, doesn’t always act the way he should.) Of course, the story makes more sense if you’re familiar with the soap opera that is Ryu.

Enan threw the bag containing all his belongings down the side of the ravine and kept running. Letting them go hadn’t been his first choice, but it was a decision he realized he had to make; it slowed him down, and his pursuers did not seem all that interested in taking a break so the kitsune could gain a better lead. And with the unnecessary baggage out of the way, he could run much faster. Looking over it, there hadn’t been all that much there, anyway: just an extra change of clothes that he had with him at all times and more than a few rocks he had picked up while out to make a better wall for his shelter. The rocks had really slowed him down.

Enan knew this forest; he lived nearby, after all. He had spent a good part of his five centuries alive in the hundreds of acres that comprised these woods, and he knew everything there was to know about it. He scrambled across fallen tree trunks and bored his way through the undergrowth. For the second time that day he was thankful that he had splurged enough to purchase high-quality rubber-soled shoes in the town that one time he had been there. (The first was when he bolted across a beach coated with sharp shells and stones.) They served better than the worn moccasins he had worn for the past several years. While they were perfect for sneaking around unheard, they were not the best for running for one’s life, especially when the sole had been worn down so far there were holes in it.

He ignored the pain inflicted on him by the briars that lined the trail he was making up as he went along; they were nothing compared to what he had seen earlier.

“You are taking the proper arrangements?” Enan asked one of the town leaders, a kitsune with a weathered face and graying ears. The elder pulled an object from the folds of his burgundy robe and handed it to Enan.

“We’ve been training with these ever since the humans came,” he said. “Are you familiar with them?”

Enan held the L-shaped metal device in his palm. “Not really. What are they?” Then it clicked in his mind. “This is a human weapon! Where did you get it?”

“You of all people should know that we’re not the most passive of races.” The elder grinned. “We’ve been biding our time, that’s all.”

Enan shoved the weapon back into the elder’s hands and spat on the ground. “Biding your time while the rest of Ryu has gone to hell! Since when did we start caring about using their weapons?”

“About the time we got sick of our firefoxes being abused,” the leader replied. “Of course, there are those of us who would rather pamper our foxes than train them for war.”

“Shut up,” Enan said. He did not take kindly to insults about his firefox. His had never matured beyond the kit level, so while most self-proclaimed warriors had foxes that towered to four feet or more at the shoulder, he was stuck with a playful creature that would only pose a danger to those who dissolved in saliva. Cute, yes, but not the most effective.

A rumble filled his ears. He spun around, searching for the source of the noise. A glance at the elder told Enan that he had heard it, as well. “What is that?” His ears moved forward, and his tail twitched. He scraped the ground with his shoe, noticing that there were no shadows. He looked up. Cloudy. “Not thunder, is it?”

A foreign object appeared in the distance, flying closer. Several of them. “Gina! Teru! I want you to round up all our fighters and tell them to meet me in front of the city hall in the next ten minutes!” the elder shouted. A blond-haired and black-haired kitsune saluted before dashing in opposite directions. “Enan, get out of here.”

“What?”

“The rest of us will be moving underground before long. You’re not advanced enough to do any good.”

“Well thanks a lot.”

“The humans are surprisingly strong,” the elder rebuked. “You and your firefox would just get in the way.” With that, he summoned a four-foot-tall fox creature made of congealed flame and climbed on its back. “Take me to the square!” The fox growled its acknowledgment and raced to the center of town, leaving Enan behind.

“Leave? Yeah, right.” He summoned his firefox, only to have it yip with delight and run across the street. “Where are you going?” he asked. The kit returned with a bone, which it placed at Enan’s feet. “We’re not playing fetch right now.” The kit looked at him with a sparkle in its eye before snatching the bone and running off. It skidded to a stop thirty feet away from him and dared him to chase it. Cursing himself and the kit, he obliged. The kit scampered away as soon as Enan took a step toward it and stopped again. It was all a game.

This went on for several minutes, the absurdity of the situation not lost on Enan. The rest of the town was readying itself for an attack, and here he was playing a game with his firefox. He rolled his eyes and ran after the kit again, who was now running back the way they had come from.

A popping sound startled Enan and made him gasp for air. He finally noticed that the objects in the sky were much closer, and he could make out all the details of the machines. His kit dropped its bone and bolted for its master, leaping into the air and colliding with Enan’s chest. Enan grabbed the kit and held it close, covering its ears with his hands. “You need to go away,” he said gently. The firefox dissolved into nothing, leaving Enan with his hands free again. He raced for the town square.

Fighting had already begun by the time he arrived. He threw himself behind a stone wall and peered through one of the narrow cracks. Humans in their hunter green masks and uniforms and kitsune in their multicolored tunics battled it out. I didn’t know humans used fire, he thought. But their fire was different. It came from weapons similar to the one the elder had shown him earlier, and the only clue to the flame inside was the smoke. A group of two kitsune stood in front of Enan’s wall and launched streams of fire at the humans, who replied with explosions from their weapons. Both fell to the ground, and a small piece of the wall chipped away. Enan’s heart raced, and blood pounded in his ears. This wasn’t supposed to happen! The fire should have incinerated the humans. Unless they had learned.

He saw the elder collapse under the superior force of the humans, then he made up his mind and rushed from the scene as fast as he could.

He had been followed, apparently. Some of the humans from the town must have noticed a lone kitsune trying to escape with his life intact, and since that went against the orders of whoever they served, they needed to remedy that. Sighing to himself, he came to a stop and changed direction, choosing to hide himself in the undergrowth.

Enan heard them as they walked by, alert and at the ready. They were going to pass him.

Unfortunately that was the moment his firefox decided to summon itself and protect its master. The kit growled and lunged at a human, who fired at the creature out of surprise. The bullet passed through the firefox without causing any harm, but the human had managed to scare the kit witless. It had run back into hiding and was now yipping and growling at the humans from a safe place: between Enan’s legs. Enan wanted to strike his firefox, but he knew that would do no good. And it wasn’t obeying his orders, so that was out of the question, as well.

He looked up and locked eyes with the human when it approached him, or more correctly he glared at where the human’s eyes would be if they weren’t behind the mask. “What are you doing out here, kit?” the human asked, using the derogatory shortening of the race name. Enan resisted the urge to snap back. The human leveled his weapon at the kitsune’s chest and indicated that he was to walk out of hiding.

He obeyed without saying a word. He surveyed the humans who had come to capture him, looking for a sign of weakness but finding none. One of the humans said something to another and reached for the kitsune’s ears, stroking and pulling them.

That did it. “What do you think I am, a dog?” He pushed the human back several feet and growled. The other human shoved its weapon into his chest again. Enan thought he could smell smoke coming out of his ears. No one touched him there.

An orange creature roared and attacked one of the camouflaged humans, forcing him to the ground and tearing at its clothes with its claws and teeth. The human’s allies turned on the creature, an acceptably-sized firefox, and fired at it. As expected, the bullets passed right through, causing no harm to the fire-composed creature. It must have felt Enan’s shock, because it stepped away from its victim and faced Enan. He recognized it immediately.

All of a sudden he felt weak, and he staggered against a tree. The human who had first found him swore and jammed his weapon against Enan’s back, demanding an explanation. “I don’t know what happened!” he cried. He had an idea, though, but he wasn’t about to tell them. It would get them killed.

“It’s gone!” Enan let himself relax. It wasn’t going to be a problem, anymore. Then he sensed movement behind him and all of a sudden he blacked out.

They brought him to one of the many prison camps scattered throughout the region. They stripped him of his old clothes and outfitted him with the prisoner uniform: a stark-white tunic with matching cotton pants. Then they threw him into a cell of his own, and there was nothing he could do but wait.

And brood.

He already had a dislike of the creatures who had invaded his home, but the realization that not only did they claim to be able to conquer but actually had the means to back up their statement irritated him. For what reason did they feel it was their right to subjugate a foreign species? But the humans weren’t the only target. He still had not forgiven himself for his humiliation in defeat.

“Here! This way!” The voice shook Enan out of his dark thoughts. Whoever had spoken wasn’t speaking English, so there was the small chance that the kitsune had finally managed to muster the courage and resources to strike back.

The strangers’ steps clacked on the hard concrete floor and came to a stop outside his cell. Because his room contained no window to the outside, he could not check to see if his suspicions were correct. “This one!”

“You sure?” another asked.

“Yes, I’m sure!” The sound of a lock being tampered with made Enan’s heart jump. He leaped to his feet and ran to the door.

“I’m in here!” he said. He tapped on the door and swore. “I can’t help you, though!”

“No problem; it’s taken care of.” That was the second voice. The door slid to the side, and Enan got his first look at the two who had come to help him. His blood immediately went cold.

“What do you want, human?” The human reached in and tried to grab Enan’s arm, but he wouldn’t let him. “Stay back!”

“We don’t have time for this! As soon as the shock wears off, the humans are not going to be forgiving,” the kitsune with the human said. “I’d give us two minutes, tops.”

The human shoved a hunter-green uniform into the captive’s hands. “Change into these,” he ordered. He nodded at his helper, who reached into her pocket and pulled something out. Enan didn’t get a good look at it before she lunged at him and forced whatever it was between two of his molars.

Enan’s hand shot to his face while his tongue searched for the device. He found it, a metal chip that had been successfully wedged into place. “Don’t move it,” she said. “It’ll help you escape.”

“And how, may I ask?”

“You’re running out of time,” the human said. “Change into those things now!”

“Okay. You come barging into my cell, shove the scum’s clothes into my hands, make me feel like you’re ripping out a tooth, and you expect me to go with you?”

“Put simply, yes.” The sound of movement from above made the two kitsune and human look up. Enan saw that both strangers looked quite nervous about the whole affair. He decided to take it.

He tore apart his old clothes and forced his way into the uniform. “Hey, I’m not going to have room for my—” He felt the back of the pants, hoping that maybe he could stuff his tail down one of the legs. “What did you do to me?!” Was that a snicker?

“It’s only temporary. Come on, we have thirty seconds left.”

Grumbling to himself, the now-human-appearing Enan stepped out of his cell for the first time in weeks. Or was it months?

The kitsune nodded. “Looks good on you. Now come on!”

He followed the pair up the stairs and out into the courtyard, where the kitsune and humans were fighting it out. “What happened?”

“We got sick of having our side cooped up in cages, is what happened,” the human replied. For the first time Enan wondered if this human was another kitsune in disguise like him.

The three hurried outside the camp to the relative safety of the no-man’s-land. “Think you can stay human until we get back to camp?” asked the kitsune.

“I guess.” He didn’t know how he had changed in the first place, so he certainly did not know how to revert to his original form.

Once they arrived, one of the rebel kitsune approached the trio and engaged in a short conversation with the human. Enan’s English wasn’t that great, so he didn’t catch all of what was said. The kitsune told Enan to follow him, and after checking with his rescuers, did so. “I realize that was a tad unorthodox,” he said. “Sorry about that.”

“Hmm.”

“So you can take that chip out whenever, but unless you want your tail to be in a very uncomfortable position, you may want to wait.” The kitsune winced when he spoke.

“Personal experience?”

“You could say that.”

He followed the kitsune’s advice and stripped himself before removing the chip. It came out with some difficulty since it had been lodged in there rather well, but before too long he was staring at a strange metal object. “You can hold on to it if you want,” his host said. “Might come in handy later.”

“You trust the human?” Enan asked.

“Yeah. Considering he’s been helping us for the past several months. We wouldn’t’ve even found the camp if he hadn’t helped us out.” He pulled a loose hair from the top of his ear. “Unfortunately that made him a fugitive. His name’s Chris. He’s a nice guy; might want to get to know him.”

Enan had nothing better to do, so he wandered around the camp. He ran into Chris while he walked. “Oh uh…hi.”

The human flashed him a smile. “Good afternoon,” he said.

Enan grunted in reply and let his firefox out to play. It waddled over to Chris, who laughed and picked it up. “He’s cute,” Chris said. “You got a name for him?” The firefox licked his face, so Chris gently moved its head so it couldn’t attack him again.

“No. Never bothered naming him.”

“So listen. This is about the time that I apologize to a kitsune I’ve just met for the evils my kind has caused.”

“Don’t bother,” Enan said. “I don’t really care.” A buzzing sound filled the air. “What’s that?”

“Oh, it’s probably my parents emailing me again,” Chris replied. Moving the firekit to one hand, he pulled a small device from his pocket and began tinkering with it. “Yep, that’s what it was.”

“They…what?” Enan moved so he could see the device better. It was a small plastic rectangle with a colored screen. “What’s it say?”

“They’re asking me how I’m doing, that’s all. I’ll reply to them later.” He put it back in his pocket and cradled the firefox again. “So where do you come from?”

“Nowhere, really. I’m a wanderer. I already know you’re from Earth. How’d you end up helping us?”

“I came here to see something different, but I’ve been working for you since day one,” Chris said. He wouldn’t answer any more of Enan’s questions. “Anyway, nice meeting you.” He waved to another kitsune a few yards off and headed his way. Chris walked with a slight limp, Enan noticed.

Later on the kitsune rallied around Chris yet another time. He produced the blueprints he had used earlier, and he and the leader kitsune (who was a few years younger than Enan and was named Flair) began assigning tasks to everyone present. The humans had not followed them back, which as a shock in itself, but the current opinion was such that no one would tolerate the humans’ presence any longer. They would begin with this camp as a symbolic gesture, and hopefully this would begin a turning point. If all went well, the humans would either be dead or would return to their world.

So what would that mean for Chris? Enan had heard whispers of disappointment that their hero would be forced to leave. Chris himself had stated that he would return home as soon as the war was over, but some believed he was only saying that so others wouldn’t accuse him of working for his own gain.

They returned to the camp, a force just under fifty strong, ready and willing to sacrifice themselves for the redemption of their home. Both sides fought fiercely, but as time wore on the kitsune gained a definite foothold that they did not lose. Finally, the humans surrendered the camp.

That was an odd time. The humans and kitsune stood on opposite sides of the courtyard, the blood of both races mingling in the center. Chris and Flair approached Enan and asked him to come with them.

The three crossed the courtyard, and Chris began to speak. “We are going to give you a choice,” he said. “You can either be prisoners until we can find a way for you to return to your home, or you can join your fellows there.” He left no doubt that he referred to the bodies lying about.

Enan saw why he had been asked to come with the two. The humans had been disarmed, but at least two burned with hatred behind their calm demeanor. Should they try to attack the traitor human, Chris might need someone to protect him.

Chris nodded to his two helpers and backed away. Then blood came from his head and he fell to the ground.

“We would like to take his body with us,” the soldier who referred to himself only as Ashton said. He was one of the few who had helped restore order to the courtyard after the sniper had murdered Chris. And as expected, it had been the kitsune who had reacted the most violently to the event. Enan and Flair had not been enough to keep them under control.

“Understood,” Enan said. “Although, if you don’t mind…have all his valuables been taken care of?”

Ashton shifted on his feet. “Er, well, yes, they have. Why do you ask?”

“I was wondering if I could have something of his.”

Ashton paled and then turned red. “How can you even ask that?”
Enan held up his hands and took a step back. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to come out like that. I would like to contact his parents, if you do not mind.”

Ashton frowned. “There’s going to be someone to do that,” he said.

“I know, but that person isn’t going to give the perspective that matters. Our perspective.” The official reports were that the human Christopher Bryce had fallen in battle, but the kitsune refused to allow the report to say anything about his defection. He would be just another number in the battle.

“He was a traitor.”

“He was a hero. Goodbye.” Enan left the human to his complaints.

He was able to inherit Chris’ PDA, and when the humans were arranged to be sent back, he grabbed the chip he had used to transform into a human and went with the defeated soldiers with the understanding that he would be allowed to return as soon as his mission was complete. It was difficult going from place to place with only a rudimentary understanding of the language, but he picked it up quickly enough.

Finally the day came when he stood outside the Bryce front door. There was a car in the driveway, so he knew someone had to be home. He knocked on the door three times and waited. After a minute a lady wearing a pink sweat suit answered him. “Mrs. Bryce?” He bit his lip. “I am a friend of your son, Chris. May I come in?”

She let him and to top it off called for her husband. He sat in a chair, and they on the couch, with only a dark wooden coffee table between them. “What was it you wanted to say?”

“I wanted to tell you what really happened.” He removed the chip from between his teeth and set Chris’ PDA on the table. “And to say, ‘Thank you.’”