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***Rated T+ (PG-13) for Mild Language and Violence. Under 13, please do not read

                      Chapter 1

     THE SUN set on two foxes huddled by the remains of a wall in the middle of a sea of rubble.  Clouds of smoke lingered from the ruin and mingled with the dust that was settling.  The orange rays of sun filtered through the smoke and dust and shimmered on the wasteland in a haze.  Among it all the two foxes sat, almost motionless in the deepening gloom.  

     The first fox, a five-year-old kit, was gray.  Dust covered her tattered clothes, the bag she clutched, and her black hair.  She sat with her back to the wall and held on to the second fox, a white kit of one year.  The white kit whimpered in her sister’s arms, and it was the whimpering that made the wolf turn aside from his mission.

     The wolf went by the name of J.R. Dunsworth.  He stopped what he was doing and stared at the two kits in the ruins.  As he watched them, the gray kit gazed up at him.  No fear existed in her eyes; she just studied him the way he studied her.  J.R. almost asked her why she was sitting alone in the middle of this rubble but decided it was none of his business and turned to go on his way.  

     “Hey Mister.”  The gray kit stood.  “My sister’s been crying for a long time.  She’s hungry.  Do you have any milk?”

      J.R. halted and watched her out of the corner of his eye.  She looked at him with big brown eyes that flashed gold when they caught the light and tilted her head, waiting for an answer.

     J.R. knew he should just say, “no” and walk away, but two girls in the middle of this death trap was asking for trouble . . . anything could happen to them.  They might starve or get captured by slave-finders or . . . J.R. shook his head.  Whatever happened to them was not his problem.  He had other things to do.

     He was about to turn and leave these two on their own when a smile widened on the little girl’s face in direct contrast to the devastation around her.  It was a smile that reminded J.R. of the sun peeking through heavy, gray clouds on a winter’s day to melt ice and snow and reveal green grass and flowerbeds.  

     “Mister?  Did you hear me?” she said.  “Do you have any milk?”  

     J.R. sighed and shook his head.  He couldn’t leave her here, not with a smile like that.  “Yeah, kid,” he said.  “I’ll get you some milk.”  He beckoned her to follow and set her and her sister on his speeder.  

     “Where are we going?” the kit asked.

     “We’re going to get your milk.”  J.R. glanced at the hover platform attached to the speeder and thought about putting them on that but decided against the extra work.  “I don’t have any on me.”  

     The kit giggled.  “Of course you don’t have any milk on you.  If you did, you’d be all wet.”  She cackled, almost falling backwards.

     A smile slipped onto J.R.’s face before he realized it, and he sat on the speeder, started the engine, and sped off.  

                      Chapter 2

     FIFTEEN MINUTES later, J.R. cut the engine of his speeder and coasted to a stop in front of a grocery store.  The streetlights hadn’t yet come on, but in the twilight, J.R. caught sight of a reward poster.  His mouth curled into a smirk at the picture of himself, and he glanced at the list of offenses he had committed: grand theft, larceny, murder, impersonating the royal plumber . . . he chuckled when he remembered that job.  Grabbing the door, he took a glimpse at the amount of the reward: $1,500,000.   

     “Alright!”  He walked in, leaving the two kits outside.  “I finally broke a million.”   

     The hushed whispers of people who recognized him from his poster, the murmured questions of those who doubted who he was, and, most satisfying, the hushed squeals of the two female cats he had spoken to the last time he was there reached his ears as he walked in.  

     He made his way past the aisles, glancing at the groceries as he went but could not find any milk.  So, he walked toward the cash register.  

     “Hi there, girls.”  He leaned on the counter and smiled, revealing sharp, white teeth.  “Remember me?”

     With a titter and a giggle, one cat said, “How could we forget?”   

     J.R. leaned in closer and smiled.  “I’m looking for milk.  Where can I find it?”

     “Refrigerator aisle in the back of the store,” the first cat said and, stifling a squeal, pointed in the right direction.

     The second cat elbowed her.  “I was going to tell him.”  

     “You’re too slow,” the first whispered.

     “Thanks, ladies.”  J.R. winked at them and sent them into a mass of squeals.  He thrust his hands in his pockets and whistled while he waltzed to the back of the store.  “Let’s see,” he muttered once he had located his prize, “quart, gallon, and half-gallon.  Two kits can’t drink that much.  I mean, the little one can’t drink more than a quart in a week, right?”  He halted and gawked at himself.  “It doesn’t matter.  They won’t be with me that long, anyway.  I’ll just find a nice stoop to drop them off on and be on my way.  They can become someone else’s problem.”

     He grabbed the quart and walked back to the counter.  

     A bulldog stood at the front of the line.  His wrinkles looked like a roadmap of Kingston, capital of Drymairad, with its cross-streets and alleyways weaving across each other.  Those wrinkles re-enforced his droopy cheeks, and gray hairs peppered his brown and white fur.  He clutched his items in his hands and dumped them on the counter.  “These prices are ridiculous.”

     “They’re the same as they always were,” the second cat, the one that J.R. had yet to flirt with, said.

     “Then they’re always ridiculous,” the bulldog said.

     J.R. sauntered to the front of the line, slid in front of the bulldog, and leaned toward the cashier.  “Hey, miss me?”  

     “What do you think you’re doing?” the dog growled.

     J.R. whipped his laser pistol from his jacket and pointed it at the dog.  “I know you really don’t mind me cutting in front of you, do you, old guy?”

     The dog glanced at the gun, stiffened, and shook his head.  

     “And because I know I’m inconveniencing you, and I appreciate it by the way, all your stuff is on me.”  J.R. smiled, almost as if he really was doing him a favor.

     The dog gathered up his things and fled.  

     J.R. stowed his pistol in its place, turned back to the cashier, and gazed into her eyes.  “You’re not really going to make me pay for one little carton of milk, are you?”

     Her smile extended to fill her face, and she shook her head.

     “You are such a good person.”  J.R. pulled her toward him and kissed her.  Then he winked and said, “Later.”

     The cat collapsed on the counter with a thump.  “How can anyone be that evil and that hot at the same time?”

     J.R. chuckled to himself and gave her another wink before walking out.  
    He almost tripped over the gray kit.  She stood just outside the door and gazed up at him with those big eyes.  It felt like twenty-pound weight had been thrust into his chest when J.R. remembered the responsibility he had taken on.  “Where’s the other one?” he said.  

     The kit pointed to the platform.  

     “Here’s your milk, kid.”

     “Thank you.”  After taking the milk from J.R., she climbed up on the platform, removed a baby bottle from her bag, and unscrewed the top.  Then she turned her attention to the milk carton.  She turned it over and over and, once she found what she thought was the top, pulled and poked and bit at it.  

     J.R. chuckled as he watched her attempts.  “Want me to get that for you?”  

     The kit nodded, and J.R. took the milk carton and opened it.  He almost poured it into the bottle for her, but curiosity and a bit of a mean streak got the better of him.  He handed back the carton, and the kit, with her tongue sticking out of her mouth just a bit, tilted the carton to pour the milk.  But it was too heavy for her, and she splashed milk on the platform, on her clothes, and in J.R.’s face.

     “Oops.”  She looked up at him.  “Sorry.”

     J.R. wiped milk out of his eyes, snatched the carton from her, and poured it into the bottle.   

     “Thank you, Mister,” she said and pulled her sister onto her lap and began feeding her.  The white kit chugged it so fast that it looked as if she would choke herself.

     Despite the smell of milk in his nose, a smile snuck its way onto J.R.’s face.  He couldn’t leave her on any stoop, not such an adorable girl.  Who knew if the stoop he would leave her on belonged to someone who would sell them into slavery after all his efforts?  He couldn’t let that happen.

     J.R. scratched the back of his neck and groaned.  He’d have to find someone he could trust, and that would entail a little more thought than he had first realized.  

     The white kit burped, and the gray kit put down an empty bottle.  

     “That was quick,” J.R. said.

     “She was hungry,” the gray kit said.

     “What about you?”  J.R. leaned on his speeder.  “When was the last time you ate, kid?”


     J.R. scratched his ear and crossed his arms.  “I guess you’ll want something to eat, too.”  

     She smiled and nodded.

     “Okay.”  J.R. muttered and mounted the speeder.  “Something for the kid.”

     “Can we ride back here?” the gray kit said.  “The front’s uncomfortable.”

     J.R. waved her off.  “Whatever, kid.”  

     “My name’s Xena, Mister,” the gray kit said.  

     J.R. motioned to the white kit.  “And what’s her name?”  

     Xena held up her sister.  “Kathra.”  

     “You call me J.R., kid.  I’ve never been a ‘mister’ before.”   

     Xena set her sister down and rocked back and forth.  “My mommy says it’s not nice to call grown ups by their first name.”  

     “Your mommy ain’t here.”  J.R. beamed, his ears standing straight up.  A way out had just presented itself.  “Where is your mommy?  I can drop you off.  She must be very worried.”  

     Xena gazed at her sister, ears falling.  “I don’t know.  She took us to my Auntie Rose’s house.  She said she’d come back for us, but she never did.  Then Auntie Rose said that it wasn’t safe for us at her house and took us to her friend’s house.  But then her friend said it wasn’t safe, so she took us to her friend’s house.  And then—” She paused and counted.  “And then the ground shook, and all the buildings fell down.”

     J.R. felt his muscles creak.  He hadn’t moved since she started speaking.  “Aren’t you scared, kid?”

     “My mommy said that when I get scared I should pray,” Xena said.

     J.R. rolled his eyes.  “Really?”   

     Xena nodded and lifted her eyes.  “I’ve been praying a lot.  And . . .” She beckoned to him.  When J.R. leaned down and cocked his ear, Xena clasped it and pulled him down so that her nose tickled the fur inside his ears.  “And if I start crying,” she whispered, “Kat will cry too.  She’s a crybaby.  So I don’t cry anymore.”  She let go of his ear and then shrugged.  “But sometimes I do even when I try really hard not to.”

     Kathra yawned, and Xena repositioned her and covered her with a tarp.  “She’s sleepy,” Xena said.  “She misses her bed.”

     J.R. looked at the child.  She had lived through the destruction of Jelu and hadn’t been reduced to a blubbering mass.  What an extraordinary girl!  Had she been bawling when he found her, J.R. would have certainly dumped her on a stoop without a second thought.  But she was different; she was brave; she reminded J.R. of himself.  

     He gazed down the road and sighed.  Miles of asphalt separated him from the only soft, safe bed that he knew of.  He wouldn’t be able to rest until he had given them that, not after all they had been through.  “Don’t you worry, kid.  I’ll take care of you.”

     Xena smiled so wide that it made her squint.  That smile made J.R. realize exactly what he had done.  

     “Am I crazy?”  He ran his hands through his hair.  “What am I doing?”  

      “You’re finding me something to eat.”  Xena giggled.  “You sure forget easy.”

     J.R. bit the inside of his cheek and clenched his fists.  “Easy, J.R., easy,” he muttered.  “You’ll only have to keep them for a few days.  Once you find someone suitable, you can dump them and be rid of this problem forever.”  He started the engine and took off.  

                      Chapter 3

     J.R. ROLLED over in his bed and groaned.  His muscles ached from riding his speeder all night long, and as hard as he tried he could not remember why he had done that.  The brown canvas curtains were drawn to keep the sun out, but the numbers from his alarm clock cast a red glow on his blanket.  It was 8:30 A.M.  He had only fallen asleep two hours ago.  What had woken him up?

     He groaned again, rolled over onto his stomach, and settled in to go back to sleep.  

     The sound of a spoon clattering against a bowl came from the kitchen.  J.R. shot up and listened, ears pricked and fur on end.  

     A chair scraped against the kitchen floor.  

     A growl rumbled from the depth of J.R.’s throat as he removed his laser pistol from its place inside his pillowcase.  The fact that he was a professional thief didn’t mean he would allow anyone else to steal his things.  Those intruders were messing with the wrong wolf.

     “Kathra, stop wiggling!” a small voice said.

     Everything flooded back to him.  The kid had fallen asleep after eating one of those fast food kid meals, and J.R. had ridden all night because wanted her and her sister to wake up in a warm bed rather than on the cold road.  

     He cursed, stowed his pistol in his pants and covered it with his shirt, and then stumbled into the kitchen.  

     He found Xena sitting at the kitchen table with Kathra on her lap.  Xena was feeding her sister something brown floating in milk and taking bites of it in between.

     “There’s nothing to eat in your fridge,” she announced.

     Kathra giggled and thrashed her arms and legs.

     “Is that right?”  J.R. stumbled past them and opened the fridge.  It was empty except for some beer, baking soda, water, and butter.  He retrieved a glass of water, seeing as it was too early for alcohol.

     “You’re out of milk, too,” Xena said.  “And your cereal’s yucky.”

     J.R. halted and turned to her, ears pricked.  “I don’t buy cereal.”  

     “I found it in your cupboard,” Xena said.

     He stepped forward and peered into the bowl.  Brown, fuzzy chunks of what had once been corn or wheat floated in the white liquid leaving green trails in its wake.  “Don’t eat this.”  

     Xena sighed and thrust her bottom lip out.  “But there’s nothing else to eat in your house.  Don’t you go to the store?”

     “Not if I can help it,” J.R. muttered.  “You want to go to the store, then?”

     “We can make a list.  My mommy does that.”

     J.R. yawned and shook himself awake as Xena yammered on about all the things she wanted.  Perhaps it wasn’t too early for alcohol.

To part 2

Hello all,

Will be editing the artist's comments also because the originals sounded so pretencious (sp?) .

Anyway, this is part 1. The Prologue is here: [link] . Please read it first.

legal stuff:

This story is (c) 2005 M. R. Anglin. I worked hard on this, so please do not copy or redistribute without my permission. If you want permission, note me.

If you get inspired and want to draw a scene, by all means do so. But please do two things (1) give me credit; don't claim the characters are yours. (2) Note me the link; I'd love to see it.

If you see someone else passing off this story as if it's theirs, please tell me about it. And tell that person to stop being a stinker. Thanks much *=)*!
Add a Comment:
ShastaTheCat Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2011
:iconnewlaplz: I simply adore this!!! I especially love J.R. Bad guy with a good side ^^
Michelay Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2011  Professional Writer
thank you. Enjoy the ride!
ShastaTheCat Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2011
AsjJohnson Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
After seeing illustrations from this story all the time by Tazi-san, I decided to finally look at it. ^_^" (I'm a slow reader, so I usually only read stuff when I'm bored, or procrastinating. ...I'm procrastinating. >_> )
I find it interesting that the little kid's more mature than the adult. How'd JR get by, anyway, without anything to eat?
Michelay Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2010  Professional Writer
what do you mean get by without anything to eat? He was just passing through. He probably intended on getting food when he stopped for the night.
AsjJohnson Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
okay, just seemed odd to me that he had absolutely nothing besides old ceral. Maybe I didn't pick up that he wasn't there very often.
Michelay Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2010  Professional Writer
Oh, I thought you were talking about the ruined town. I misunderstood.

No, he doesn't have food in the house even though he does live there alot. He's a bachelor and doesn't care much about cooking. He'd just go out and buy stuff or mooch off another person in town . . . like Melody. He's charming enough to do that. :XD:
AsjJohnson Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
oh, I didn't think about there being more than one place I could've been talking about. ^_^" I guess my comments aren't too clear (hopes you can decifer the ones I made recently).
I'd at least have snacks, myself. But then again, I've never lived close enough to free food. Or lived by myself.
Nahcima Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2010
This. is. so. GOOD! :D I love it! xD

" Don't eat this." <-- best part ever!!
Michelay Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2010  Professional Writer
thank you
LadyKnightDianna Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2008  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very intresting story and the prologue was intresting as wel lI like how you wrote that out that was definetly creative. I've seen art work that Tazi-san had done about your story and her pictures had sparked my intrest to want to read this. It was defently as intresting as I pictured it would be from the pictures she had done form your story.
Michelay Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2008  Professional Writer
thank you
Risen-Art Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
Prologue isn't working.
Michelay Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2007  Professional Writer
yes it is :nod: . . . I just tried it :XD:
Risen-Art Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
I LOVE this metaphore!

There was silence again, but J.R. could feel the unasked question buzzing in the air, crashing into his mind over and over like a fly trapped on a screened-in porch. “What is it, Xena?”

Was this one that you revamped a little? It's good reading it again.=D I love the whole scene in Mr. Whither's store too. Pity I havent seen much of the Whitherses lately. BTW. I notice again that J.R. tinkers with bioelectric technology. You don't really reference that as much in later stories. I'm surprised you don't see him still trying stuff (safe enough of course) out on Xena or perhaps expanding more of his research into stuff like touch sensitive light switches in his house or something? Or maybe he'd look too nerdy, but then he's a buff, dangerous nerd so he's allowed.

I also don't remember much recent references to the gym. It'd be fun to see Hunter getting creeped out with J.R.'s little aresenal. The gym and the workshop seem to be two pretty central places to J.R. so I'm wondering if they should have appeared more.

Just a though =D
Michelay Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2007  Professional Writer
perhaps . . . they're still central to his life, just not to the stories. Plus, he's gotten side-tracked trying to figure out how to help Xena . . . so that took all his time. I implied that, but I don't think I implictedly said so in the stories.
Risen-Art Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
Aaah okay.
Risen-Art Featured By Owner May 21, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
Hahah! This just rekindles my love for J.R. :XD: Especially since I imagine him voiced by Scott Mc'Neil
Michelay Featured By Owner May 22, 2007  Professional Writer
Sukeile Featured By Owner May 19, 2007
I just read it through and I love it :clap:
The children are so innocent and real, it made me smile many times while reading :D
I really like all the characters and it is easy to visualise the different scenes. Very well written but also easy to understand even for someone like me who does not have english as their first language :nod:
Michelay Featured By Owner May 19, 2007  Professional Writer
oh, thank you. I really appreciate you saying that. I'm glad it's easy to understand
multicoloredflame Featured By Owner May 9, 2007
*small squeal* Aww, that last part in the gym is so cute! ^.^
You can't not love lil Xena. It's impossible.

And what's all this about J.R. "Impersonating the Royal Plumber"? Is it an interesting and/or funny story?
Michelay Featured By Owner May 9, 2007  Professional Writer
lol . . . yeah little Xena is adorable. I had to show everyone what made J.R. keep her

And as for impersonating the royal plumber . . . my sister also laughed when she read that part!

There really is no story behind it at this point; I was just trying to think of the most random thing I could. But as C.S. Lewis (my favorite author) once said, "If I ever [find out what happened] and the story is at all interesting, I may put it in some other book."
ApacheMan2K Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2007
it could still use some fixing here and there, but you still did a good job, so far. :)
Michelay Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2007  Professional Writer
oh, i know . . . I cringe when I think of this story. It's really bad, but the story line's good (I think). All in all, I think I should re-write it . . . one day.
doozerdan Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2006
Ooo, now I'm going to have to read all these ones too :D
Michelay Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2006  Professional Writer
nosdivad Featured By Owner May 28, 2005
Sorry it took me so long to comment - I've been having trouble finding a PC with an internet connection.

The dialogue in this is very well written. Each spoken word sound's natural to the charactor and gives the reader a real sense of being there. You've clearly thought out each scene to the last detail, and created something very captivating.

My only minor complaint is that each chapter sometimes ends a little too abruptly. It dosn't really has a chance to wind down before the story moves on.

Apart from that, this is a very well written story. Looking forward to more parts soon!
Michelay Featured By Owner May 28, 2005  Professional Writer
Thanks . . . I'm going to let this story sit for a while before I look at it and work in all the critiques I've gotten . . . so you probably won't see the changes in the future chapters.

Keep commenting, though. I want to be better.
NiggaJack Featured By Owner May 18, 2005
well done buddy bravo! Not only is this a good piece, it justifies the way you did the prologue, now officially well done as well. lol.

I gotta say your a master of moving things along in a story with a little space as possible. That said the transition from scene to scene could be better, namely switching from biotechnology to combat training, it was just a jarring switch.

I'd be lying if I said your dialogue wasn't awesome, but it could use some physical responses, nods and shrugs and telling looks, that would make the scene more believable and could increase the humour.

Keep it comin:katana:
Michelay Featured By Owner May 19, 2005  Professional Writer
Thanks for your tips. I'll keep that in mind.
Risen-Art Featured By Owner May 17, 2005  Professional Digital Artist
0_0...that was awesome...I epecially love those 'mysterious rides' and the 'plan A,B,C' diologue between J.R. and Mr. Withers. Hilarious XD
Michelay Featured By Owner May 18, 2005  Professional Writer
Risen-Art Featured By Owner May 18, 2005  Professional Digital Artist
Hey, you should do a little doodle of what the two little ones look like. I'd do one for you as a gift but I don't know how they looked then. ^^
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