Disclaimer: Voltron is the property of World Events Productions. The idea/planet/customs was borrowed from C.J. Cherryh's Chanur books. Translation: She inspired the work, it's her fault.
"Neto eh-uri he'haumahn."
Lance blinked wearily. Voices...where was he...he recalled being knocked flat on his back by something. A heavy something. From that point it was black. Until now. The voices continued.
"Guriami no-hau! Chevu! Eluki-savi nemoti." He moved his eyes about, frustrated at the grainy blur that obscured his vision. He was still lying on his back, that much he knew. Finally he saw the source of the voices...two shapes. One tall, one short. Their backs were to him, so he couldn't make out the faces. The short one was gold-tawny, spotted with black. He guessed 'she', because of her build and size. She also wore a shirt and breeches. Her companion wore a bandolier and breeches, nothing else. His fur was deep brown, run through with silvery gray. He wondered who in hell they were, and where he was. He shifted, trying to lift himself up, then let out a groan at the pain that burned from the base of his skull to the middle of his back. Abruptly the figures turned to him.
"Kura! Ehsmi-he haumahn." Said the short to the tall. The tall one came forward, kneeling by him, laying a hand on his chest gently. He spoke in a soft, purring tone.
"Haumahn...ijuri hesa'loti raaurr?" He blinked his large, feline eyes and flicked his ears.
Lance groaned softly. "Who-who are you...?" he gasped. The cat-man flicked his ears back for a moment, blinked, frowning. Finally it spoke again.
"Hu-mahn...I Kura Raaufy. Who you?" Kura spoke with an accent, but somehow Lance understood him easily.
"My-my-n-name is-Lance." He stuttered, surprised at the effort it took.
"Laa-ns..." Kura said slowly. His feline accent mangled the name, and Kura knew it. Lance sighed, closing his eyes for a moment, thinking.
"Lance." He said again, for Kura's benefit. And again the cat-man mangled it. Kura shook his head, glancing back at his companion for a moment. She just looked back at him.
"Laa-ns," Kura said again, "You hu-mahn, ya?"
Lance nodded silently.
"Weh-arr you from? Wha-a you do he-ya?" Kura inquired of him, not entirely expecting an answer.
"I-I-am f-from Earth-b-but we fl-fly f-from A-Arus. We w-were exploring...we didn't k-know th-this pl-planet wa-was in-ha-ha-bited." "Urrth...Ah-ruus...you say fl-y? How you fl-y, you hu-mahn? Fl-y in sk-hi sh-ips, ya?" Kura flicked an ear back, giving himself a lopsided appearance.
Lance frowned inwardly. He wasn't supposed to answer interrogators. But this Kura seemed friendly enough. It was his companion that worried him. She seemed colder, more treacherous than Kura. He closed his eyes and licked his lips. And again he opened his eyes, rolling them towards Kura's broad, not-quite adult face.
"Y-yes." 'I shouldn't do this.' "Y-yes, we fly in ships."
"Weh ha-ave 'eard of Urrth. Hu-mahn come frum Urrth, man-ee sk-hi sh-ips. Th-hen leave."
So humans had come from Earth before. How long before? And how long did they stay? Kura made it seem like not a long time at all, but so was his grasp of Basic that it could be a mix-up. Suddenly Kura frowned slightly, looked to the ground for a minute, then looked back at Lance. "Laa-ns...you say 'weh', nah 'I'...the-ah othurrs?"
Abruptly Lance realized what he'd said. We. The others. Keith, Sven...the rest were back on Arus for defense, but Keith and Sven had been with him...they'd been walking when they'd been attacked. Where were they?! He jolted upright, immediately regretting it, crying out. Kura grabbed him with heavy paw-hands, cradled him, laid him back down. Stroked his arm gently, comfortingly.
"The-the others-" Lance gasped, "Wh-where a-are the-they!?"
"Laa-ns-Gifeny a-nd I fu-und no othurrs, just you, Laa-ns."
'Oh, no...no...no...' "Wha-what happened?" he whimpered, looking up at Kura with glistening eyes. Kura sighed. Looked away, ears down.
"Laa-ns...you we-ah in de re-sa-ve...Gifeny think hunter att-ack you, leave fo-h ded."
Lance's eyes widened in panic. "B-but...w-where a-are they?"
Kura shook his head sadly. "I not know. Ma-bee they a' live, ya? Ma-bee not."
"I hope so." Lance said, a miserable whine building deep in his chest. He was lost, alone with two aliens, and injured. On top of that, he did not know whether his two best friends were dead or alive. He felt hot tears sting his eyes, trickling down the sides of his face. Then he heard Kura's gentle voice.
"No cry, Laa-ns. No cry. They a'live. They arrrre."
Lance sniffed. He wished he could roll over, sit up, anything but lying here helplessly. Suddenly he had a thought.
"W-what h-happened to me? W-why do I hurt like this?"
Kura frowned for a moment. "I think, Laa-ns, if you wurrrrrr attacked by a 'unter, which I no think, it would be a strrrange 'unter."
"W-what c-could it b-be then? We were walking, I-I remember, t-then something b-big attacked us...b-big, red-brown colored...furry t-too, I think..."
"Ah," Kura said, "If he haad not weapons, he waas prrroably a' ex-ile."
Lance paled. "Exile?"
"Ya. Ex-ile. Hit you in the back, no move. No dangurrr."
"Danger? W-why w-would w-we be a d-danger?"
Kura sighed. He really did not want to tell the human this. About the exiles.
"Laa-ns..." he began, "Laa-ns, the ex-iles arrrr most-lee male. They arrrr big, strrrong, and-shorrrt tempurrred. They wurrr rraised by trrrurditional waays, so that they get mad. Real mad. Especially at the sight of anothurrr male, ya. You see, ya?"
"Oh, no, no-" Lance whimpered, "Y-you d-don't th-think..."
"Laa-ns, shhhh...rrest, ya. We find yurrr frriends, ya."
Lance sighed, closing his eyes. It was of no use to fight. He might as well sleep-Kura didn't seem hostile enough to hurt him. He heard the woman's voice, sharp and spiteful as usual.
"Ehhmri sufa urrr lufi gi-tah no-ya..." she rattled on for a while, boring Lance enough that he finally fell asleep. Kura's only input at all was something that Lances suspected to be "yes ma'am". They left while he slept.
~~He dreamt he was with Sven and Keith again-walking on the yellowed plains on this unknown planet. Suddenly Sven had paused, looked around-yelled something to Lance that he couldn't hear. He couldn't hear because at that moment, a powerful, red-brown hand smacked him across the side of his head. For a few moments his skull rang, then he shook it off and looked around. Keith was backed against an outcropping, he knew that he was lying on the ground-and Sven-oh, no! Sven was in such a position that he was forced to fight their attacker-one of the natives? He wondered. It was tall, taller than Sven, 8 feet maybe. And broad-shouldered, as well. It's jaws were open, lips pulled back in a voracious snarl. It's-his-eyes glowed bright gold, muscles taut beneath it's furred coat. The creature's tail lashed, and it struck at Sven, who was defenseless with shock. Lance felt a stabbing pang in his chest as Sven was knocked to the ground. His heart thudded faster when Sven remained on the ground. The alien bellowed, heaved Lance's lover up by his collar, threw him to the ground. Sven, oh Sven, oh Sven-no, no not again!! Lance struggled to get up, reaching out desperately to his lover. Keith was nowhere in sight-the blood blinded everything-Lance's cries died on his lips in the cruel silence. The only things were silence, pain, and death and blood.~~
Lance woke up, sweat drenched, breath fast in his chest. He whimpered softly, almost crying as the memories of pain and blood choked him. There was a ruffling nearby. A set of large gold-gleaming eyes peered at him from the dark. But they lacked the animosity of the beast in the dream, and Lance knew it must be Kura. Kura sniffed softly, and Lance could almost imagine him grimacing at the scents. He guessed that the alien had a cat's acute sense of smell, and guessed as well how human sweat must stink to him, let alone to other humans. Kura let out a soft, comforting purr.
"Human-you scarrred, ya?"
"Ah. No fearrr, human. I hearrr. Always. Gifeny say I stay, keep human quiet." Lance felt, more than saw, the cat's gentle grin. He almost smiled himself, but the dream forced it back. He sighed, clenching and releasing a fist. Kura rather reminded him of Hunk, with his homely benevolence and large stature. But also of Sven, because Lance could see a good wit and intelligence behind those amber eyes. Mostly because of his soft, accented voice, so like Sven's...Lance closed his eyes, trying to think of good things. Home, earth-his mother, smiling at his jokes. Play-wrestling Keith at the Academy when they were kids. One of the teachers at the Academy, jumping up on desks and tossing papers across the room to his startled students. Finally Lance began to relax, the tension and fear in his muscles draining as his mind warmed to the memories.
Kura waited until his scent grew calm, and he heard the other's breathing even and deepen. He leaned back against the wall, trying to contemplate this whole mess. They'd found the human-Lance-lying in a ravine, blood tracked all around. But the blood was not all his. Three separate bloodscents, only one belonging to their human. And another, a Hanuuuri scent, adult and male. The tracks and smears indicated that one of the humans had been dragged off by the Hanuuuri, and another-that one they couldn't figure out. It didn't seem to go anywhere, the scent was spread across the ravine like a banner. They hadn't found a body. They suspected he'd followed the river, because that's where the scent ended. And didn't come out on the other side.
This human-the last one left, unless the third had somehow made his way to the next clan hausing. That would be-Huran, Kura recalled. And-oh, gods-he remembered! Feraau Huran had been exiled just recently! That would have been the one who attacked-exiles usually tried to stay close to their old clan grounds. He shook his head in shock, thankful Lance didn't have the capacity to smell his apprehension. Feraau Huran. Not much older than him, but much taller, broader, and meaner. He-Feraau-had nearly clawed his own mother's ear off when they'd been cubs. And she, she had boxed his skull soundly, like his sisters. It was his aunts who coddled his tempers, let him ravage and destroy. Oh, gods. What a mistake that had been. If the third human got to Huran land...and the haus-sons still ran wild...he might very well be killed. And the second was probably already dead. Oh, gods, oh gods. He would have to tell Lance this. Not to worry him, to warn him of the terrible danger they were all in. If interested, Feraau might track their scents here, to this place, and kill them all. He was certainly strong enough. Oh, gods, Kura thought, what kind of a mess have we gotten into now?
Keith stumbled down an old, forlorn wagon-track, slipping on loose rocks, trying to keep his balance. He was still hurt and in shock from their fight with the alien. He knew he was hurt-the blood kept dripping down his back. Drip. Drip. He hardly noticed it now, though. And the pain. It didn't hurt that much. He had doubted before they would find civilization-but this track had to lead somewhere, didn't it? Hopefully not to more of those aliens-if they were all like that creature, who had knocked Lance to the ground and to Sven-he felt a lump rise in his throat and forced those thoughts back. The bright sun blazed down on him, seizing moisture from his throat and mouth, making the air in his chest thick and choking. He didn't know how much farther he could go without killing himself.
He slumped to the ground, exhaustion, shock, and injury catching up with him at last. He tried not to lie down, not to sleep, for sleep was dangerous. He kept his eyes just barely open, watching for any hint of life on the broad plains, and on either direction of the track.
Rhean Huran was riding chesvani with her sisters Lufy and Anfy when she saw it. Just lying slumped by the road, like a discarded scarecrow. But then she caught it's scent on the faint wind. Alive, definitely, and different-smelling. She urged the beast along, curious.
"Lufy, Anfy," she said to her sisters, "Ne-hassishi hauusvi nataan, ya?"
Lufy, speaking in basic, responded first. "Rhean, are you sure? It could be dangerous." Lufy was the youngest of the three, barely an adolescent.
"It's just a human, that's all," burly Anfy purred, "Probably not armed, and certainly injured. Just look at it." She kicked her chesvani in the side, to make it go faster. Lufy followed suit. In no time they were by the rock where the human lay, and dismounted. Rhean knelt by the figure, gently shoving it over onto it's back, watching it intently. Lufy's ears were back as she peered at the creature, the likes of which she'd never seen except in pictures.
"Oh," she said, "Is this what a human looks like?"
"Ya, sister," Anfy replied, "The males, anyway."
"Quiet, both of you, look, it's waking up." The human moaned, coughing faintly, blinking it's eyes open. They were bleary, almost rheumy. For a moment his body tensed, but he seemed not to have the strength to hold it, and relaxed. He coughed again, still staring up at them.
"Poor boy," Anfy said.
"What happened to him, you think?" Lufy asked, eyes wide, ears twitching.
"I think-he must be one of the ones from the exile-lands." Anfy replied shortly, nostrils flaring in distaste. "Poor lad, probably got attacked by some exiled man, maybe even-" she dared not finish the thought.
"Well, he's hurt, whadya say we take him home? The boy might be grateful for a little help if he's walked from the exile-lands all the way here, ya?" The human made a sound, seeming to understand them. It was a bare-scraping moan, but response enough that Rhean was convinced. She picked him up by one arm, Anfy catching the other, and hefted him up so that when she mounted the chesvani again, he slumped wearily against her chest.
"Let's go then, ya?" she said when the other two were up. Her sisters nodded in reply, and they were off.
Later, when the trio arrived home, they were greeted by their aunt Jofan Munur. She ran up to greet them, but slowed when she saw their companion.
"Who-what is that?" she asked, pointing, ears back, eyes showing whites.
"Rhean looked down, clutching the human with one arm, the reins with the other. "He's a human, aunt. He's hurt. He won't be any trouble with papa or the older boys, we promise." The rest had not been needed. When Jofan heard he was hurt, she'd come over quite quickly. The human looked at her blearily, blinking at the new face. Jofan ran a claw along her finger-tip gently down his face. She had her own instincts, maternal ones.
"Esvi hali." She whispered. Poor boy. Rhean dismounted, half-carrying the limp human, (who was taller than she by a head), and getting help from her aunt. Anfy joined them, Lufy, being the youngest, sent to stable their mounts. Jofan helped her niece take the boy inside and to the guest rooms of the house. Being partially conscious, he did make some effort to try and walk.
Jofan laid him down carefully on the bed, brushing his wild hair out of his eyes. Lufy had by now joined them, and was watching with great interest in this new visitor. Rhean couldn't blame her-this was the first off-worlder she'd ever seen. And a pretty off-worlder, she had to admit. For a flat-face, anyway. He had a lovely mane, and she guessed his eyes were bright and soulful when he wasn't in such terrible shape. Rhean looked to her aunt, who looked back at her.
"Sesvi niuri hau shashi uliia?" Should we call the doctor?
"Ehh...nassi lutau." Oh, might as well.
Rhean went downstairs to the onworld comm, to call in Faha from Munur holding. Jofan's sister, a friend of the family she was. She punched in the number, hoping that Faha would be in.
"Yao?" the standard greeting came.
"Nehesmi shujo almisi Rhean Huran par Munur. Sesi Uliia Faha Munur?"
"Ya. Usmi sivi lattu."
She waited for a minute, before Faha's round, jovial voice rumbled over her ears.
"Rhean! It's been a long time, girl. What can I do for you?" "Yao, Faha...same to you. Listen, do you know anything about humans? Like doctor stuff?"
"Yeah, why, I do. Why, girl, you thinking of catchin' one up dockside?"
Rhean knew what Faha meant, and felt her ears heat up. "No, you see, we found this human-my sisters and I did-who's hurt, and we need you to come and check him up."
"Be my pleasure, girl. My pleasure. There's never anything interesting around here, anyway."
"Oh, thanks Fa, you're great!"
"You too, girl. See you in a bit."
"Okay. Bye, Fa."
"Bye." Rhean clicked the comm to off, grinning broadly. She jogged upstairs to tell the others the news.
Lufy had never seen an outworlder before, and she was utterly fascinated by this one. His skin so pale and hairless, blunt fingers and no claws, ears almost nonexistent...no snout, blunt teeth, constant whites in the eyes...so different from her own people. He was tall, as well. Taller than her sister Rhean, even. But still not as tall as Fa. She was a great, round woman, more than two meters high, as tall as Lufy's papa. And she worked with such precision, checking the pale, unconscious human's body for whatever wounds he had. Finally she was finished and she stood, giving Lufy a clear view. His chest was bare but for thick white bandages, clad only in his undergarments. Lufy's ears heated up, only out of instinct. His leg was bandaged as well, though not as heavy as the one wrapped around his torso. She'd seen the wound on his back, claw marks thicker than her thumb, blackened at the edges with infection. She realized suddenly that the human was shivering, and she realized how cold he must be, lacking fur. She took a blanked from the end of the bed and laid it gently over his body.
"Hey, lil' Lufi, you gonna be a doctor too?" she heard Fa's great bass of a voice. She turned, smiling.
"Betcha he's grateful for that blanket. Someone's gotta be here when he wakes up," she turned to Anfy, Rhean, and Jofan as well, "Why don't we let Lufy here take the job?"
Rhean nodded slowly, more into her own thoughts, and Anfy smiled.
"Why not? She's grown quite attached to him." Jofan, Lufy's mother, smiled.
"Thanks Mum, thanks Fa." Lufy said, grinning.
"You jus' hope that boy speaks basic, honey," Fa said, with a grin equal to Lufy's. "Well, ladies, I gotta be goin' now. You take care of the boy, remember what I said, and call me if you need help, okay?" The others nodded or spoke their agreement, and Fa left. Rhean and Anfy followed her, going to their rooms to do big-sister things. Jofan lingered for a moment, looked down at her youngest daughter.
"Now, listen, Lufy," she said, waiting until Lufy's eyes and ears were on her, "This human-he's going to be scared when he wakes up. Don't use your claws, smile, see if he knows basic. Be friendly, make him feel welcome. Answer his questions, ya? Got that, daughter?"
"Okay, mum." Lufy said, every trace of sincerity in her voice. "And call me or one of your sisters if he wakes up, ya?" Lufy nodded. "Good girl," Jofan said, and left as well, leaving young Lufy Huran alone with a stranger from offworld. A male stranger, at that.
He woke up a stranger in a strange place. His eyes, ears, mind and body struggled to comprehend his surroundings. He knew that, when he'd last been awake, he'd been on a dusty track in the middle of nowhere. Now he was lying in a bed, blanket draped loosely over him, bandages swathing his upper torso. And there, right there next to the bed, was one of the aliens! His mind jumped immediately to action, and he sat up, tensing, ready to fight. The alien leaned back, shocked and a little scared, it's ears flat back on it's skull. This one wasn't as small as the one that had attacked them, Keith knew, but it could be just as fierce.
"W-wait, outsider, wait!" it stammered. Keith was shocked when he heard it's voice. Young, soft, and female. He hadn't thought for even a second that it could be a she that sat by him. Mentally he kicked himself.
"Outsider," she said carefully, in decent basic, "Please, don't be afraid."
"Why not?" Keith was still skeptical.
"Well-" she paused, "Look at the bandages on your chest, for one." He did, slowly realizing that one of these aliens had cleaned him, bandaged him, cared for him.
"Well-I-I-uh..." he broke off into a cough, a rattling cough that shook his pained chest. The alien snatched a bottle of something from the floor by her chair, uncapped it and offered it to him. At first he was wary, but she was insistent, and he took it with trembling hands. He nearly spilled it all over himself, his hands were shaking so badly. The alien put her hand over his, however, to steady him, and he was able to get a fair bit in his mouth and down his throat. It felt so good after the parched waste of the plains. Hand still trembling, he rolled over slightly and put the container down on the floor.
"Thank you," he said, genuinely grateful. The girl smiled at him, a feline grin, rumpled nose and bared teeth.
"What is your name, outsider?" she asked suddenly, peering inquisitively at him.
"Yes. You have one, don't you? I'm Lufy. And you...?" "My name is Keith."
She tried the name, but couldn't seem to get it quite right. Finally she gave up. "Kai'ta. May I call you that? If I can't get your real name?"
"Well-alright." He replied.
"Kai'ta..." she mused. "Kai'ta...it means 'bright star', in Hanuuuri."
"Hanuuuri? Is that your race?"
"Yes, yes it is."
"You're very polite, Lu-fy." He said, her name coming harsh from his throat, just as Keith from hers.
"Thank you," she replied, lowering her ears in embarrassment. "Kai'ta, my mother told me to get her when you woke up...so I have to go for a minute."
"I'll be alright."
"Okay..." Lufy left, with a lingering look to the young human man.
"Ma?" She called, out in the hall, "Rhean? Anni?" her ears flicked, and her nostrils twitched as she heard a noise behind her. She knew the heavy pawsteps behind her would have to be those of her father, Ijono Huran.
"Daughter?" she heard him rumble, and she turned, nodding in respect to the lord of all Huran. "Daughter-what is going on?"
"What do you mean?" she asked, ears back. He was bright, her father, but would he understand this?
"The scent, in the air. Fa coming by. What's up, daughter?"
She sighed, lowering her head. "Papa-Rhean and Anni and I found a human, a lost human on the road. We took him home...we didn't think he'd cause any trouble."
"A human? A male human, Lufy?" Na Ijono was in shock. "A-real human?"
She hadn't expected this. "Y-yes, papa. He's young, he's not so much older than me, he's just a human, papa, don't hurt him-"
Suddenly Ijono laughed, a great bass sound that shook comm speakers. "Daughter, dearest, darling daughter, if he's no trouble to me, I'm by-the-gods not going to lay so much as a claw down to harm him." Lufy's face lit up. "Oh, really papa?" Ijono nodded. "Well-papa, mum said for me to get her-when he woke up...the human, I mean-have you seen her?"
"She's downstairs-come on, we'll fetch her together."