“Keona~~!” Leon called into the trees. He stood still for a while, trying to peer for a bounding, bouncing red-brown blob of fur into his view.

The cool, moist air of the forest helped him adjust his amphibianic eyes a lot better compared to the sometimes painful dry cold of the ship. The ache of the strain was noticeably less nagging and he felt like he could breathe better since a long while.

“We should come here more often,” Luc commented, not looking up from doing an inventory check on the supplies. “What – uncharted planets with myriads of landscapes and things ready to kill us on and off?” Leon laughed.  “I was talking about alpine zones, but yeah, why not?” he chuckled back. “The weather’s good for you here,” he remarked. “Aww, listen to you going old on me,” Leon cooed.

A loud yell rang out nearby and a lot of rustling and crashing into branches followed. A large ball with a long red-brown tail around it rolled out of the forest and into the clearing. Leon hastily jumped out of the way, but Luc merely lifted a pack out of its path, watching it crash into a tree.

Jai lay unconscious, his feet up in the air, his back against the tree. His four arms cradled Keona like a precious package, her long tail wrapped around him like a scarf. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Royan ran out after them, Talon and Fang on his shoulders manically laughing.

They were covered in moss fuzz and strategically placed sticks, making them appear like some kind of mossy sludge monster. Talon and Fang were close to falling off, laughing so hard they were holding on to Royan’s hair and shoulders like demented parrots.

“Keona? Come help me cook,” Leon called. Like a large squirrel, the wolf-girl squirmed out of Jai’s tangle of arms and bounded up to him. A huge grin on her face and her tail wagging, she resembled a large lovely dog. She held her hands out expectantly. “Ah ah, wash your hands first,” Leon instructed. Still grinning, she bounded over to Luc and held her hands out to him.

As Luc helped her wash the soil and moss from running all over the forest from her hands, Royan shook off Talon and Fang, who ran over to Jai to probably pester him some more. “Need help with anything?” he offered to Leon. “Know anything about cooking?” Leon grinned. Royan’s mind immediately went to all the lavish dinners he had back in the castle. It suddenly occurred to him that he had no idea how to even pick out the greens used to garnish the tables. Very apprehensively, he shook his head.

“Sit down and see then!” Keona practically pushed him down, bounding back over but this time on her legs. “Yes, yes. Watch,” Leon encouraged. Royan went to sit with a beckoning Luc and watched as Leon presented Keona with a raw scallop from the food bag. She squealed with delight and clapped her hands together. “Now, put your hands together,” Leon motioned. She cupped her hands together and her tail wagged even harder. “Now, heat on,” Leon smiled.

Keona stilled and her face frowned in concentration. The tips of her ears sparked and little match-flames formed. Leon pulled out a small canister of oil and sprayed her hands with it. The oil sizzled right away so Leon motioned her to lower her heat. Keona frowned again and focused on her hands. The sizzling slowed and Leon held his hand over it. Once he deemed it warm enough he placed the raw scallop on her hands. Her concentration did not break, and Leon crouched down to her level, observing the scallop cook and turning it over every now and then.

“Is that how you train her?” Royan asked Luc. Luc frowned at him. “Train her?” he questioned. Clearly it struck a bad chord with Luc. “Oh no, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…,” Royan apologised profusely. “Yeap!” Keona answered cheerily, but still fixated on the scallop. Luc and Leon guffawed at Royan’s panicked face and Luc clapped him on the back. “It was her idea,” Leon grinned.

“Leon teaches me to make good food,” Keona explained, her tail wagging slightly. “And with it, how hot she chooses to be,” Luc continued. Royan felt like he needed something to say about how Keona was actually learning how to control her powers, but then decided best in accepting their interpretation of it.

“Aaaaaand I think it’s done!” Leon announced. Keona squealed again and her fire went out. She eagerly held it up to her mouth but paused. Very carefully, she crawled over to Luc and held it up to his face, smiling proudly. Instead of taking a bite however, Luc affectionately kissed her fingers. “Daww,” Leon cooed. “HUNGRY!!!!” Talon and Fang jumped over and tried to eat the scallop from behind her.

A hilarious scuffle ensued between Keona, Talon and Fang for the scallop, with Leon and Royan getting caught up. Luc wisely and as usual, managed to get out of the way. Jai painfully joined him on the side and witnessed Keona try to eat the scallop before the bird-boys could get to it. Royan somehow managed to escape the struggle crouched into a screaming ball but Leon tripped over Keona’s tail and face-planted into the ground.

“What is going on?” Mars cried out. “Ah, how’s the shelter-building, honey?” Leon asked, spitting out some moss. “I think I need Jai’s help, are you alright?” the robot-girl concernedly picked him up. Leon gave a silly smile and shrugged into her arms.

“Aaaaaummmmm!” Keona shoved the scallop into her mouth and happily chewed it in front of the disappointed bird-boys. “I think it’s time for dinner,” Leon sighed.

Writer’s note: Sorry if this seems a little dragged out, its been a long week and I think I’m slightly burned out. Hopefully it won’t carry on till next week tho 🙂