“So come on,” Candy giggled. “How was Wendy your best friend, but you never knew she was so smart?”
“We didn’t hang out at school.” Hailey said as they climbed the large rocks. “It’s complicated. Um... Do you have transgender people on Furra Prime?”
“Oh, sure,” Candy answered. “There’s a simple fix for it though. They take a brain scan to verify, and if you’re approved, you get a gene swap and recode”
“That’s why Transgender people are so accepted here, because out there you guys have a fix for it.” Hailey sighed. “Well back home, there’s no sure fire way to correct a person's gender, And people hate people who are different.”
“That’s one thing our culture shares with yours. My people hated their own kind for being a different color,” she sighed as she reached down to give Hailey a boost up to the next ledge ahead of her. Hailey turned around and held out her hands to pull Candy up next.
“We had those, too. Like your Traxian thing, we enslaved other humans, over 150 or so years ago there was a civil war to end slavery for good, but even a century and a half later, people still hate.”
“I guess stupid is a universal concept,” Candy said as she hugged Hailey. “I’m sorry you had to experience that kind of hate. I really did think you were attractive even without fur, though.”
“Thank you.” Hailey said. “I think it’s just over those rocks over there.” she pointed. “But yeah. I had to pretend to be a boy at school, and Wendy only knew me as Hailey. I had no idea she was like the head of the rocket science club and stuff.” she said, smiling, “But I think it’s pretty damn cool.”
Candy giggled. “I do too. Rocket science is rocket science. It’s literally the thing that every species I know of holds up as the gold standard for complexity.” She paused. “Well, that and Quantum physics, but you heard her hitting it off with Brie over exactly that.”
As they climbed their way past the last few boulders, they came upon a large pool of beautiful pink water.
“I wish Vanessa could see this,” Candy giggled.
“Wow, you can see the bottom of it.” Hailey said, “I wonder if it’s a hot spring.”
“I thought I saw steam earlier,” Candy said, “But it doesn’t look steamy now. No lava floes running along the bottom either.” She leaned down and touched her finger to it. “Ooh, it’s hot, but not burning hot. Just the right temperature!”
“Oh nice, someone definitely could build a hot springs resort out here.” Hailey said as she took off what little clothing she had on.
The water gurgled slightly, a few bubbles rising from a small fissure at the bottom, and a puff of steam followed. Candy giggled. “How dare you break wind before me.”
“It was the fissure,” Hailey laughed. “Besides, it was my turn.”
Hailey climbed into the water, “Oh my god this feels wonderful. There’s a even a natural ledge to sit on over here.”
“Purrfect,” Candy purred, taking off her clothes. She backed up a few feet, sprinted, and did a belly flop into the water, splashing Hailey.
Hailey giggled and splashed water back at Candy, “This is just purrfect, I could really see this as a relaxing spot.”
“For when you need a vacation from your tropical island paradise home and your dream job of exploring a strange, new world,” Candy giggled out.
“You never know, there are people here that have stressful jobs and need a place to relax.” Hailey said.
“I’m teasing,” Candy laughed. “I’m a psychiatrist, remember? I think it’s a purrfectly wonderful idea! I can tell you the entire medical staff needs a vacation badly just by looking at them.”
“Exactly!” Hailey said, “When we get back I’ll tell them about it and what good uses it can have, I think there’s like 12 of these pools around.”
There was a sudden, bright flash of light overhead, and something small plopped into the water, falling slowly to the bottom. Candy dove down after it, coming up a moment later. She had a rainbow shell in her hand, and a very, very amused look on her face.
“It’s just like the one I carved a message onto,” Candy laughed.
“Does it have a response carved into it?” Hailey asked, genuinely curious.
“It says Watch the Sky.” Candy said.
“What the heck did you tell them?” Hailey giggled.
“Thanks,” Candy laughed. “I told them thanks.” She settled back down next to Hailey and snuggled into her contentedly, as she stared at the shell. “All the achievements in the universe are meaningless, if you have no one to share them with.”
Hailey laughed, “Exactly.” She snuggled into Candy, and the sky lit up with Falling stars.
“Oh my God,” the woman from base radioed out. “Expedition team, are you watching the skies right now?”
“It’s like an earth meteor shower, mixed with Aurora Borealis,” Tricia’s voice came back.
“We’re watching it right now.” Hailey reached up and grabbed her phone to talk. “They sent us a message to watch the Sky, Candy sent them a message, saying Thank you, and this was their response.”
“This was my wish,” Candy giggled. “I wished that they could know how happy they’ve made me, by introducing me to you.”
“All I know is if we ever get space travel, I love this place and I could never go home anyway.” Hailey said, “And besides I wouldn't ever want to leave you.”
“I’d check on my apartment back on Furra Prime,” Candy giggled. “But I agree. This crazy, mixed up planet is home now.” Her ears twitched as she sat up. “Do you hear something?”
“Yeah what is it?” Hailey’s ears twitched too.
It grew steadily louder, and had a distinct high pitch. It was someone screaming, and it was coming from above them. They looked up in time to see a red haired girl rocketing towards them.
“SOOOOOOMEBOOOODOY CAAAAATCH MEEEEEEEE!” she squealed.
Hailey stood up in time, completely naked and soaked and grabbed the girl's feet catching her pulling her down, “What the heck is that?”
“Jesus Christ,” the girl gasped. “Thank you. One second I was sitting in my room, and the next I was falling through a pink sky. I thought I was dreaming.”
“Where are you from?” Hailey asked.
“Earth,” the girl said as she pushed her long red hair out of her face. “Whoa! I think I still am dreaming,” she said as she slowly reached out to touch Hailey’s fur.
Hailey laughed, “No dream, where at on earth and what day is it there?”
“Uh, Friday the 10th, and I’m from upstate Wisconsin. I was packing to go to space camp, and then... Fwoosh.”
“Um, Friday the 10th, what month and year?” Hailey asked, “I’m from Michigan myself.”
“June and 2016?” the girl said, confused.
“3 days.. I’ve been gone 3 days, and it’s only been 3 days here..” Hailey spoke to Candy.
“I thought this place was larger than your home planet though,” Candy said. “That’s strange...”
“That’s what I thought.” Hailey nodded, “But the time is the same here.” she paused, “Oh Sorry, I’m Hailey, this is Candy, we’re Furren, well I was human once.”
“Know what,” the girl said, “I’m not even going to question it. I’m Amber,” she laughed. “I just fell out of a pink and purple sky under a meteor shower and Aurora Borealis, and was saved by two cat people. I’m just going to roll with it.”
“It’s best not to.” Hailey laughed as she started gather her clothes but not get dressed, “We’ll take you to some of our people.”
“Just point me in the right direction,” Amber said. “I don’t want to interrupt your uh... thing.”
“Na, we’ll take you.” Candy said. “We need to tell them out this place anyway.”
“So like,” Amber said, as she reached up to touch one of Candy’s ears. “I’m not going to grow fur am I?”
“Not if you don’t want to.” Hailey laughed as Candy’s ear twitched.
“Looks good on you guys, but I already hate shaving my legs,” Amber giggled.
“You don’t want to think about razors to shave these.” Hailey laughed.
“It grows back within a day or two anyway,” Candy giggled. “My cousin Leena shaved her fur on a bet, once. It started growing back in patches so that by the end of the day she looked like she lost a fight with a hedge trimmer.”
Hailey giggled, “That sounds awful.”
“Ugh,” Amber said as she leaned over the edge. “I don’t have my climbing gear.” She didn’t seem at all bothered by the height.
“Here’s another point of data for Brie’s graph, though,” Candy said as she ambled down the cliff face. “Use my shoulders as a foothold. Hailey will catch you if you slip, and I’ll get you if you fall past me.”
“Just don’t grab my tail.” Hailey laughed.
“Thanks,” Amber laughed. “I’ll try not to.”
“How old are you, Amber?” Candy asked. “I’m 15.”
“14,” Amber answered, more focused on finding a good hand hold than anything.
“I’m 16, just turned like 2 months ago.” Hailey laughed.
“And I bet you anything that Vanessa’s no older than 19 or 20,” Candy said. “And Wendy’s our age too. It might be nothing, but it just seems like a lot of the new arrivals are adolescent or young adult.”
“Awfully coincidental too, that Amber was getting ready to go to space camp,” Hailey added. “Right as Wendy and Brie are working on some organic fuel-got you,” she said as she quickly grabbed Amber’s hand, helping her find another hand hold.
“And that is why I would never willingly do this without safety gear,” Amber laughed. “Me and my friends go to the gym all the time to climb the rock wall there, but we’ve been climbing in the real mountains a few times too.”
“Furren have natural reflexes, we don’t use climbing gear, we can also jump twice our body length.” Candy spoke as they got down to the first flat layer.
“We are definitely going to have to build a staircase,” Hailey laughed. “Or an elevator,” she teased.
“We want to get some overworked friends of ours up there,” Candy laughed. “But there’s no way they’d make the trip the way we went up. By the way Amber,” Candy said, “For what it’s worth, I’m a counselor and psychiatrist, so if you do have any questions please let me know. I just don’t want you to have a panic attack halfway down the next rock face.” She winked.
Amber laughed and shook her head. “No, really, I’m okay,” she said as she sat down. On the cliff’s ledge, catching her breath. “Like I said, I just saw some crazy shit, and I know this is going to sound even crazier, but you guys don’t know how happy I am to be anywhere but home.”
“I smell a backstory,” Hailey said as she sat down beside Amber, with Candy sitting on the other side.
“Drunk dad and all that BS.” Amber sighed. “I got this space camp thing from a contest at school. The way I see it,” she glanced between them. “A, I’m dead, and this is heaven, B, I’m asleep, and this is the most freaking awesome dream ever, or C, this is real, I’m here, and I don’t care whose ass I have to kiss to repay them, just as long as I never have to leave.”
“D, its real, and you don’t owe anyone anything.” Hailey said.
“You’ll be safe here,” Candy said reassuringly. “We have a friend named Ella, who can bench press an entire ship with one hand. If anyone ever lays a hand on you, Ella will literally rip them apart.” She winked.
“So it’s E, then,” Amber said with a kind of smart ass grin. “This is heaven, but I’m not dead.” She laughed.
“You ready to go down again?” Candy asked. Amber nodded, waiting for Hailey to descend first, and then ambling down alongside Candy.
“I mean don’t get me wrong, I’ll miss a couple of people, but the trade off is worth it all the way down.”
“I agree, but I did end up getting one of my friends.” Hailey said.
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