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reptile logic

An imposter among aliens.

I am only two, partially finished stories away from completing my draft of interconnected short stories. Soon, I will be releasing the work to my beta readers, then to final editing and publishing. I have already shared some of the story drafts here. This one is just a teaser; sharing this whole story here would spoil the underlying plot. It is feline and human heavy, with some reptile presence, and cameos of a few other species.

I hope you enjoy it:
Copyright © Feb 2022, All rights reserved

The woman tossed her battered hat and padded flannel coat on the nearby couch, as she entered the meeting space in Martin's home. Her straight, dirty-blond hair fell across one of her light blue, almond shaped eyes. Those colors held an interesting contrast to her otherwise strongly Asian facial features. With her short-nailed fingers, she brushed her hair back and said, "Thanks for seeing me, Martin." Not quite twenty years old, she already carried herself as someone much more mature. Her plain work clothes and dirty, worn boots screamed 'country girl'. In her hand, she carried a computer tablet.

Wearing a medical mask and gloves, Martin closed the door behind her. Unnecessarily, he motioned for the woman to sit on that same couch, saying, "I'm still uncomfortable with this idea." He walked over to his side of the room, removed his mask and gloves, and sat down on his couch, opposite her couch and a large coffee table. Though he claimed to be in his fifties, the man carried the years well. Most folks would put him in his forties.

The woman plopped down on the couch. She could feel the light breeze flowing from multiple vents along the wall behind Martin, and into return vents along the floor behind her. That laminar airflow protected Martin from her, and other visitors. House guests were asked to never cross the small room, beyond the coffee table. Martin had even provided a small washroom, on the guest side.

For all of this young woman's life, at least, Martin had suffered from severe allergies. Though he had never told anyone specifically what he was allergic to, one could certainly guess at some of it.

She set her tablet on the table and activated it. "I'm the one who approached you about all this. There's no weight on your conscience. All my research tells me that there's nothing illegal about it."

Frowning, Martin explained, "I just can't help seeing its permanence. I can offer you protection, but you will still lose your human rights and everything you own."

"I could transfer all of my personal holdings under House Boardman," offered the woman. "You could provide me with a maintenance trust; maybe we could establish some supply drop points."

"I suppose, but people will still look at you differently. You'll become an outcast."

"Martin, you know I've always been most comfortable living on the fringe. How is my life going to change, except for the better?"

Martin stood up and walked to the nearby kitchenette behind him and started making coffee and sandwiches. From there, he said, "You'll develop a true appreciation for a quality lice comb. Lets get these particulars down, while you still have some legal say in the matter."

He poured opaque, black coffee into a mismatched pair of old, stained cups and set those on the tray. He added two, chipped plates to that tray, then dragged out the sandwich fixings.

"Is there anything you might be able to tell me about what I'll look like?" she asked, as she accessed her computer tablet.

Martin smiled and said, "Let's just say I see a big cat in your future." Plopping the sandwiches onto the plates, he picked up the tray and returned to the living room with the refreshments.

Throughout the night, they sat across from the coffee table and hashed out the details. By late morning, the woman was still as determined to go through with it as ever.

* * *​

(Continued, below)
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reptile logic

An imposter among aliens.
(Continued from above)

Against the the cool breeze of a late-spring evening, the fe-man stepped up out of the darkness of a small gully and walked toward the old, well-lit building. It's cougar face and its rugged, tight-fitting clothing were dusty and stained. A long-range, scoped weapon hung across its back. The bandoleers it carried were mostly filled with spent, supercap ammunition cartridges, cleaned and prepped for recharging and reloading. Along with two canteens, two long tubes were secured to a narrow, body-hugging backpack. Strapped to its left leg, a combat knife. Well-worn, digitigrade boots hugged its feet. Hanging from its neck were small ears, strung on a cord.

The roadhouse, "Instinct", had been a popular stop for decades. Located deep in the unincorporated badlands, well outside of the city, this place was beyond both the protection and the control of The Board. Out here the locals decided what law, if any, would be followed. There were two main reasons why this place remained intact, and in business; its popularity among adventure-seeking city-folk, mostly low-tier succs who otherwise had little personal contact with non-humans, and the ownership mark on its roof and front door. House Boardman, Hospitality claimed this spot.

Despite the early hour, the place was busy tonight. Two private aircraft occupied the nearby landing pad. Three beautifully kept, antique, fuel-burner cars were parked outside, as well as a dozen more ground vehicles of much more recent vintages. The fe-man slowed its pace to admire the old ones. Inside the building, a familiar, high-pitched voice sang an unfamiliar song to a thumping beat.

Carved into the front door below the owner's mark, its letters painted white, a notice read, "We don't care what skin you wear. First come first served."

The door suddenly opened outward; the fe-man jumped back out of the way. Startled, then intrigued, two male humans stared as they walked by. The fe-man returned their stare, then slipped inside just ahead of the closing door.

Wearing a kilt and sitting at his usual spot, and spearing pineapple cubes with a sharpened chopstick, the ur-man bouncer, Dennis, sniffed then called out over the music, "Raylan! Great to see you, girl!" He turned his ursine head to look at her and pointed the kebob at the ear necklace. "You've been busy!" He delicately pulled a fruit cube from the chopstick with his rubbery lips.

Raylan handed her weapons and other gear over to Dennis. "Yep. Thought big packs like this were a thin' of the past. You losin' weight?!"

Dennis smiled. "Nope, still holding at two-ten (kg)!"

"Coulda fooled me! If it tastes good, eat less of it! Either that or take a thirty day nap!" She smiled in return. "Who's runnin' the house tonight?!"

"Both Dusk and Shadow are here!" replied Dennis. "Shadow's in the office!" He picked up the nearby intercom receiver. "I'll let it know you're coming!"

"Thanks, Dennis!" Raylan watched the crowd as she walked across the room to the office door. It was warmer in here than she would prefer, but that was to be expected in a business run by reptiles. She waved at Dusk, who smiled and waved back from the bar. Local humans sat near the center of the main room and dined and chatted with the local and visiting "nons", as well as the server staff. Tonight it looked like a couple ca-mans she didn't know, and one cap-man that she recognized. "Hey, Billy!"

With that same look as always, William said, "Never gets old for you, does it, Raylan?!" He shook his head; those scrupulously maintained and polished horns flashed in the low light.

The visiting humans quietly watched from booths along the perimeter, while they tipped back enough courage to say hello. Later yet, talk might lead to dancing, but it was still early.

As Raylan walked past the stage, from atop a carpeted box located there, Chime softly began its rendition of Janis Joplin's "Bobby McGee". Raylan loved its singing, especially the soft, soulful songs in that talented kobold's repertoire. However, once Chime started enthusiastically belting out the high notes in this song, it could be a little hard on Raylan's ears. Through that twin vocal chord larynx, one note, just above human hearing range, tended to drift off-key.

As she neared the office door, a male human stranger, sitting at a nearby table, boldly grasped her left hand and said, "So you're a bounty hunter, huh? I'd love to buy you dinner."

Raylan gently placed her right hand on the back of his, then extended her claws. She allowed him to draw back his hand; four drops of blood dotted its surface.

"No thanks." She continued to the office door and entered.

Once she closed the door, she turned and smiled. "Shadow, great to see you." She removed the necklace of ears and tossed them across the small room, onto the office desk. She then curled up on the nearby couch, along the same wall shared with the entry door.

The the darker-colored of the two, black kobold co-managers of this place, Shadow counted the ears. "Sixteen rotters; a couple of big breeders, too. All on your account?"

"Yeah, and can you have my thapper barrels relined; maybe get me another spare barrel, too?"

"Sure. You have a couple days?"

"If you have a room for me, I do. I shot the last of these only two klicks from here." When Shadow nodded its head, Kaylan said, "Send up my stuff. Think I'll patrol nearby for the next three days."

"Sounds good. I'll let the locals know." Shadow reached for the rolling ladder behind it and climbed up to reach the key rack. It pulled the key from a hook and tossed it across the room to Raylan, who caught it.

Shadow dropped down from the ladder, to land near its chair at the desk. "Master Martin is here. Seems like he was expecting you. Room ten, next to yours."

"Dammit," said Raylan. Despite her grumbling, she wasn't angry. Not only was the old man one of those very few humans that she could tolerate, he was her trusted friend and protector. The problem was that Martin would ask for favors. These little favors could quickly morph into tedious chores, if not outright unpleasant adventures.

Key in hand, Raylan padded back out of the office and closed the door. With casual grace, she negotiated the crowded room to the bouncer's station. After Dennis handed her gear back to her, she stepped outside, then up the side stairs. She paused there for a moment to take in the nighttime view, the smells and the sounds, then opened the outer door to pad down the stuffy hall to her room.

She entered the room. Though muted, the music still oozed in from downstairs. The first thing she did was open the window. Despite the tidy appearance and the clean sheets and towels, the room smelled strongly of human. She dropped her pack on the luggage carrier and pulled out her dirty socks and underthings, then undressed and set her dirty clothes down on the small table, near the door. She laid those tubes and the empty cartridges on that same table.

A knock and a familiar voice at the door. "Room service."

When Raylan looked through the peephole and saw someone wearing a rare, sifaka lemuroid shell, and maid uniform, she let her in. "Hello Pearl. How are thin's goin' for you?"

Pearl transferred everything from the table over to her cart, then set Raylan's bag on that same table, "Doing alright. We're renting more rooms lately; it keeps me busy. I heard hunting's been good."

"Yep. Surprised at how many I found locally, lately," replied Raylan. Naked, she stepped over to open up the floor to ceiling doors, concealing the grooming station, and locked them open. A quiet suction fan started up. "The marked cartridge has a weak "cap"; replace it. Can you have the rib-based cartridges charged to sixty-five percent, and the smooth-based ones to eighty? Think I'm gonna go for barrel life over range, next time out."

Pearl nodded her head. "Sure. Same dart weight each load?"

Raylan turned to face Pearl. "Yeah."

Hand on the doorknob, Pearl said, "I'll take care of it, myself. There's a game of cards starting up in the back room. Should I tell them you're coming?"

Stepping back toward her pack, Raylan said, "Not tonight. Thanks for lettin' me know."

When Pearl closed the door behind her, Raylan pulled her brush, a can of powder, and her fancy, titanium lice comb from her pack, then stepped back over to the grooming station.

She stepped into the space between the doors, looked into the mirror, and began brushing and combing her face and the short, tan fur of her body, occasionally rinsing her tools in the station's tiny sink. She paid extra attention to her tail. Any loose hairs, dust, and dander drifted toward the suction intakes, to be carried away. Good, only a few lice this time. She then applied the herb-scented toxin powder and brushed that in well. After thoroughly cleaning her brush and comb, she closed up the grooming station.

Walking over to the regular sink, she looked into the mirror at her own, yellow-brown eyes as she brushed her teeth. Lastly, Raylan pulled a white kimono from the bag that Pearl had brought up from storage, and donned it. Satisfied with her appearance, she exited her room to walk next door and knocked on it.


reptile logic

An imposter among aliens.
Martin opened that door; this surprised her. She asked, "Where's Secundus?"

By now an old man appearing to be in his eighties, Martin invited her in with a gesture. "Some days you need to be in two places at once. Secundus will join us tomorrow afternoon."

"You know I love you, Martin, or I wouldna come. I ain't eaten yet. Watcha need from me?" She stared at him as she lay down on his bed.

Martin smiled and took the chair. "Secundus found a high-value core donor. I need you to back up Secundus' play."

"In the city?" asked Raylan.


"I was afraid of that. Anythin' like the body swap job you stuck me with last time?" She stretched out across the bed. It felt so good that she caught herself purring, for just a moment.

Martin shifted his gaze and looked out the small window, at the night sky. He said, "This one you'll like." He lined out his plan to her.

When Martin had finished. Raylan said, "I do this and you leave me alone for a couple years, deal?"


Raylan was about to go back to her room, when she heard William's guitar, below her. Wearing only her kimono, she quickly padded back downstairs and around to the front door. She entered, nodded at Dennis, and quickly sat at an empty table.

On stage, William had taken off his server apron and taken up his guitar. He played a short lead-in to gather the crowd's attention, as Chime prepared to sing one of Raylan's favorites; one that showcased the lower end of Chimes range. It quietly sang the first verse of Simon and Garfunkel's, "The Sound of Silence".

Already purring in anticipation, Raylan slowly closed her eyes and let the eerie harmony, drifting from that kobold's mouth, melt her into her chair.

(That's it for now)