Slow and Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter One

There Be Mature Content Here

Please be advised that the following is intended for mature readers only.

Chapter One

(Finished)

Pyxis the Restrained

Fake plastic bushes look nothing like real bushes.

Truly, the stiff, chemical smelling leaves, which had been glued to a bundle of dead branches, would never be mistaken for the bramble that marks the boundary of Briarwood and the human settlement. As camouflage, it’s entirely ineffective.

But still.

How fascinating.

I turn to the human crouched down next to me. “This is absolutely fantastic.”

Benny—our ‘team leader’—hushes me.

Right. Quiet.

My two human companions want to ambush a War-wolf that isn’t lurking amongst the shadowy trees of Briarwood. They’ve dragged out this pitiable fake bush, hunkered down with mining rock cutters in hand, and begun waiting.

And waiting.

It’s not that I mind the waiting. I’m used to the mindless boredom. But, by Aku, humans are so entertainingly illogical.

Two-Four-Kay, which is the humans’ settlement, and its surroundings have already been scrubbed free of forest apex predators. You know, the curious carnivores that wouldn’t hesitate to feast on a human? Well, earlier today, the mayor’d tasked me with creating a pseudo-pomery—a defensive strip clear of dangerous beasts rather than stripped clear of trees—between the settlement and Briarwood.

During my only break of my patrol shift, I’d personally ran those beasts off. Didn’t take up much time. Took a piss. Wrestled a handful of three-ton beasts who were prowling within a dozen leagues of the settlement. Got back behind the fake bush within three minutes.

All done.

But each time I try to tell Benny—who’s hunkering down next to me behind the obviously false, yet mind boggling intriguing fake bramble—that there’s nothing to patrol, I get hushed.

Hushed. Did you know it’s a word and a sound in the humans’ language? Incredible.

Sitting here, absorbing all this humanness, is more exciting than tussling with one of Briarwood’s predators. Truly. My left leg is trembling and—

Creeeaaak.

Whoops.

I glance down at the gauntlets covering my hands.

Yep. I’m squeezing my already fisted hands. Didn’t mean to do that. When I apply too much pressure, the scutites—the Akupara nanotech of my armor—make a low-toned, straining sound that humans call ‘fucking ominous.’

I see their point, plus the fact that I’m fully covered—crown to heel—in matte black armor. Even my face is hidden by my dark faceplate.

Unfortunately, my people deliberately crafted the whole “Coldblooded Killer” impression. My armor serves the purpose of protecting the Bale—my people’s home—but it also kinda messes with my own agenda.

For instance, let’s look at Benny here.

As if on cue, he’s giving Gary, the other patrol companion in our party, a wary side-eye. “He’s thumpin’ again, Gary.”

Yes, well. I tend to do that when I’m excited.

Or bored.

Or intrigued.

Or angry.

Oh, and when I’m hungry. Like, ‘eat it first and worry if it was edible later’ kinda hungry.

Right now, though? I’m fucking thrilled!

Wanna know why? Because I getta turn to Benny and say, “Hush!”

Sure, my spit’s rolling down the inside of my faceplate because I more or lesser hissed—the Akupara don’t have lips—but hushing someone is a fucking delight!

Kinda.

Wide-eyed, Benny jerks away from me and bumps into Gary.

“Shit, whaddya do to him, Benny?” Gary whispers harshly as his gaze darts between me and Benny.

Oh! I know the answer to that one!

I point at Benny. “He wasn’t being quiet.”

Gary swallows loudly—should I hush him, too? Nah. I’ll let it go—then he whimpers something.

Huh. Well, I’m not opposed to trying to ‘skin our gizzards’. I mean, if he’s offering…

Listen, never turn down the chance to do something new just because you’ve got no fucking clue what that new thing is. New is wonderfully free of expectations.

Like, if Emys, my sibling cum Commander, hadn’t brokered an alliance between the Akupara and the humans dwelling on Warren’s Planet, I wouldn’t be on patrol in Two-Four-Kay, the humans’ settlement. My other sibling, Kinixys, wouldn’t be deliriously mated to Rez, a human female. I never would’ve met Joia, my bestest friend in all the worlds.

Jo says when I get sleepy, I get ‘tired-rantical.’

She’s the best. The ultimate bestest ever.

In fact, Jo—as the recently appointed leader of the human settlement—is the one who gave me this outstanding new experience: ‘babysitting idiots while on patrol.’

And Benny and Gary are the best idiots. They’re giving me no trouble at all. I don’t even have to subdue them. They’re just huddling behind a fake tree, staring wide-eyed at Briarwood, and flinching like scared rabbits at their own shadows.

Yep. This new experience is proving to be informative on many levels.

Like, did you know human males don’t hug? The hatchling human males do, but not the adults or subadults. Well, at least, the older males don’t hug one another. They do this ‘whap on the back’ thing. Which is not as awesome as a hug. But still, it’s something to do. Right?

Since Gary needs some reassurance that he’s doin’ all right on patrol, I reach out—making sure to move slow and steady because that’s what the humans expect from an Akupara like me—and whap him on the back.

Fine. I don’t ‘whap’ because that could kill him.

I kinda tap him with my fingertips.

“I would be honored to skin your gizzard.” It’s important that Gary hears this, so I gaze into his wide—well, not so much wide as bulging—eyes.

Of course, Gary’s stuck gazing back into my opaque, expressionless armor faceplate. 

I soften my voice because I recognize that overtures are culturally important to humans. “Whenever you wish it, I will do so to the best that I am able.”

Tap. Tap. Tap. There you go, little human. I hear you.

Good Ol’ Gary backs away. The typical sickly pale sallow of his skin is draining to a paler, lifeless pallor. Not to mention his shallow, rapid breathing…

“Fuck.” He stammers. “Benny, that alien ain’t right.”

I’m not? “Am I left?”

Well, shit. I’m obviously the left-most member of our patrol unit. An Akupara would never have asked such a pointless question. A real Akupara would’ve remained as steady as a rock—not compressing their armor’s scutites—as they methodically assessed—

Oh!

I snap my focus to the forest. “Something just breached the perimeter.”

Fantastic!

The animal, which is steadily moving closer to the settlement, is sick. Or, at least, that’s my first assessment based on my keen senses. It smells off. Kinda putrid. And it’s shuffling rather than stalking.

Whipping my attention from the forest to my companions, I wait for acknowledgment or tactics or, truly, anything from Benny or Gary. Everything about this creature is entirely unexpected.

Fascinating.

I wanna go there.

“Yeah,” Benny blabbers. “Go. You should really, really go. Check it out.”

Benny’s on to something here. I should totally go. I mean, I don’t even look at the human as I nod my head in agreement. That’s how utterly spot on Benny is right now.

“You stay,” I say as I stride off into Briarwood.

Well, okay. I’ll be honest. I have no clue if I told Benny and Gary to stay put. I get like that sometimes. It’s not just my attention, but the entirety of my being, that gets completely captured.

Ensnared? Captivated? Taken?

Whatever. Doesn’t really matter because in moments like this, nothing matters.

I know. It sounds like I’m self-aware right now.

I’m not.

I’m no better than a War-wolf who’s tracking the scent of blood with the single minded focus to pounce and devour.

By Aku, my plastron—the plates on my chest—hum along with the growl radiating in my throat.

In the forest awaits prey. Sweet, tender, and deliciously unsuspecting prey.

And it’s all mine.


Luna the Baby Bunny

When rocks are being aimed at your head, it’s time to admit it: Things are not going as planned.

At all.

But, I’m gonna give it one more try anyway, because that tyrannical little brat has pissed me the heck off.

From my well sheltered spot behind one of Briarwood’s monolithic trees, I yell, “You’re being unreasonable, Howie!”

Plus he’s being a pint-sized pain in my butt.

Seriously, Howie, what’s made your eight-years-young life so jaded that you’re on a mission to turn all the kids against me?

I’m handing out candy, here, Howie! Freaking candy!

Who doesn’t want candy?

Whack!

Yep. That was a rock smashing into my tree. It hit pretty close to my head, which means Howie’s recruited Bianca.

Well, shoot. That girl’s got a badass arm and killer aim. Definitely time for me to hop along, then.

With adrenaline surging through me—the amped-up ‘Crap! Oh crap! This is freaking terrifying’ kinda heart-pounding rush—I holler out a senseless stream of cusses as I abandon one tree and scramble toward another.

Out in the open, I stumble. Crap. A freaking tree root almost took me out. For the love of—

This is just so dang sad.

I mean, the way I must look right now… My shoulders are hunched. My arms are wrapped around my head. My once adorable bunny ears—which I’d made from fabric and sturdy twigs so that they would stand pointy and tall when pinned to my hair—are all floppy and screwing with my line-of-sight. My homespun lavender dress and matching gloves are stained with dirt…

…Ugh. I hope that’s dirt…

…and there’s something gooey and wet soaking the back of my dress. I think it’s raw egg.

Sigh.

And let’s not forget that my basket, which is swinging wildly from the crook of my elbow, is carpeting the forest floor with the individually wrapped yummies of my painstaking labor.

That’s right. Scattered all over the ground behind me are individually wrapped pieces of homemade candy. And the vicious little moblings, who are chasing me farther and farther into Briarwood, aren’t even slowing to pocket them. 

This means that I now have empirical evidence that Howie has no freaking clue how unbelievably difficult it is to make candy when you have to forage for ingredients on an alien planet. Let alone have any appreciation for reproducing plant-based cellophane using rundown, no-better-than-cottage-industry tech.

Well, there isn’t an established tradition of ‘village cellophane-smiths’ back on Ancient Earth for a reason, Howie.

Because it’s really hard to turn clumpy cellulose into viscose, then back into smooth sheets of freaking cellulose, Howie!

Like, really, really hard. The sulfuric acid baths are the worse part. My hair still smells like rotten eggs.

Stupid Howie.

I was supposed to be the Yummy Bunny. You know, enchanting and endearing and trustworthy because: 

I. Have. Candy.

“We don’t want your creepy fake candy, Looney Luna!”

That voice booming through the forest—sounding all smug and superior—is eight-year-old Howie, the Irate Candy Hater.

Oh, and by the way, he’s wrong. It’s not fake candy.

It’s enhanced candy.

Seriously, it’s not like I’d tampered with—I mean, enhanced the candy all that much either. It’s merely laced—ugh, enhanced with vitamins.

Yep. Vitamins.

And they’re the best freaking vitamins that I could source from Warren’s native offerings.

Warren’s, short for Warren’s Planet, is the planet that I’m stuck on, where I’m making dietary supplements for children who refuse to take candy from a sorta shady—most definitely socially awkward—acquaintance. And I wouldn’t even be doing this if everything on Warren’s didn’t epically suck.

First, farming on Warren’s is not a bucolic profession. All those idyllic pastoral scenes that I once had floating around inside my head were quickly replaced by bloody, mass-murder-themed nightmares. More settlers have died from attempting to farm than those who’ve attempted to go hunting.

Oh, and livestock is also out. When the original settlers of Two-Four-Kay—which is the asinine name of our settlement—tried rearing native livestock, they were basically hosting a buffet for all the carnivores of Briarwood. 

See, the food-chain on Warren’s is very well established. Every freaking animal is either:

(a) a horrifyingly monstrous predator or…

(b) irresistible prey.

(In case you’re wondering, humans are solid b’s on this planet’s menu. Thus the whole lopsided Farming vs. Hunting casualties mentioned above.)

The core problem is that all the advanced tech which was used to colonize Warren’s two generations ago is pretty much gone. Anything left is one breakdown away from being useless junk. Plus, there hasn’t been a spaceship in orbit for several decades.

Well, a resupply ship. The ship that’d crashlanded—thus stranding me along with my friends, Jo and Rez—doesn’t really count. The crew on that ship was not coming to help the settlers on Warren’s. They were coming to this hellish planet to help themselves…

But, anyway. Back to the current crappiness in my life. The people on Warren’s have been abandoned. We gotta step up and fend for each other.

So, you know what, Howie? I dare you to run back to Two-Four-Kay, whining about me and my fake candy. Let’s see what happens then, Howie. I bet you get incarcerated for crying about vitamins, Howie.

Sure, it’ll only be for, like, five-to-ten minutes, but hopefully they’ll put him in a maximum timeout corner with sensory deprivation—

Smack!

Yep. That was another rock, bashing into my shelter-sans-tree and narrowly missing my noggin. 

I groan loudly. “Gimme a freaking break here, Bianca!”

“Then stop throwing your fake candy at us!” That’s Howie.

Again.

Apparently, he’s the sole voice of his misguided pack of brainwashed minions.

“I don’t throw it!” Because I don’t have an arm like Bianca. Rather, I offer it insistently while kinda bordering on shoving it—albeit altruistically—down their throats. “And it’s not fake!”

But, yeah. I’m totally peddling fake candy.

At least I’m not scamming them with a snake oil cure for something serious, like the sickness that’s hitting the workers in the mine. Right?

Well, I couldn’t peddle snake oil even if I wanted to. Have you seen the size of what passes for a snake here on Warren’s? War-snakes have billions of little legs, sorta like millipedes, but the legs have these tiny graspers. So, I guess, they kinda have billions of little arms with graspy little hands…

Shiver.

I hate War-snakes.

And War-gators.

Plus War-wolves.

Pretty much all the animals on Warren’s creep me out.

Speaking of which—since I am being chased by a snack pack of edible, although malnourished, human kids—where the heck are all of Briarwood’s ravenous pred—

Smack! Smack!

Freaking ambidextrous Bianca! (But seriously, she’s such a badass kid.)

I take off toward another tree. My heart’s pounding wildly. My broken bunny ears are flopping pathetically. 

Sigh.

Visibly, I am being so obviously me that it’s painfully humiliating: I am not an aggressor. At all. It just isn’t in my nature. Even when I’m the adult dealing with children, I wind up being the hare to their pack of hounds.

Well, it’s time to lead this chase back toward Two-Four-Kay. Seriously, I’m so freaking ready for this day to be over. It totally sucks.

Do I have any regrets? Second thoughts? A passing ‘If I’d only…?’

Nary a one.

Yeah. I got all fancy for a second. Because I’m not giving up. I’m gonna try again tomorrow. And the day after that. And if I gotta, the day after that one, too.

If I don’t deal with these underlying threats…

Those unassuming, yet insidious little things that tend to be overlooked or not considered real dangers—like eggs and dietary supplements…

Then tell me: Who will—

Smack!

My back hits the forest floor as stars burst across my vision.

Yeah, no. I wasn’t hit by a rock. Rather, I hit a tree.

Technically, I ran into a tree…

…while running at ‘normal human’ speed…

…and knocked the crap outta myself.

Looking up at the huge green leaves of Briarwood’s uppercanopy, I sigh.

This is just so…me.

Precious Little Luna—who’s been deemed so dang precious because she’s always tripping over her own feet and smacking head-first into massive, thus astoundingly easy to avoid, stationary objects—could actually hurt herself. And if she gets hurt…

Etcetera, etcetera, physician heal thy own butt on your own time, etcetera.

Well, my butt does hurt. Of course, that could also be my pride that’s throbbing right now.

Stupid pride.

Stupid ideas that backfire.

Stupid secrets that—

A hand is thrust into my face.

But, hey! Good news! It’s not some gory, severed farmer’s hand being flung at me. It’s just a regular hand covered in black armor.

Which happens to be attached to a person who’s also covered in armor.

But still, no biggie.

The bad news? I know this hand and the towering alien attached to it.

I shift my gaze from the familiar hand to a dark helmet. Shielded behind the solid back faceplate is Pyxis the Restrained, an Akupara warrior from the Umara Bale and all around stand-up alien guy.

Um, guy alien?

Whatever. The point is that he’s amazing.

When that stuck-up Akupara ass, Ryorin, crossed the line with Jo, Pyx’d turned into a feral guard dog.

Back at the Akupara’s sickbay, he’d spent well-intentioned, but ultimately needless, hours beside my med-chamber.

Currently, he’s an Akupara volunteer who’s patrolling the human settlement.

The guy recently became a brother-in-law to Rez.

And Jo—who trusts no one—doesn’t distrust him. (The hair splitting here is significant. Believe me.)

Most importantly, he’s kept our secret. He knows that Rez, Jo, and I aren’t like normal humans. When Jo and Rez had tried to rescue me from the Kletka bountyhunters, Pyx’d single-handedly gone head-to-head against the Kletka’s pulse cannon. He’d done it as a distraction; so that Rez and Jo could use their near-supersonic speed to race around Two-Four-Kay and find me. 

See? The guy’s a perfectly amazing alien—er, person.

Some people could say he’s also sexy as hell. Which, I get. Really, I do. The guy’s right there, wearing body armor so skin-tight, that my imagination is tossing its hands up and huffing ‘Whelp, I’m obviously not needed.’

That, and he’s been politely offering to haul my sorry butt off the forest floor—even though I’ve been sprawling out in the dirt and obviously stalling—with a hand that can grip with the same pounds-per-pressure as the settlement’s mining rock crusher.

So yeah. I get it. But, I’m not salivating over the pulverizing power of Pyx’s hands. Rather, I’m very—so very—aware that he’s the only person on Warren’s who can pulverize me.

All my secrets. All my plans. All of my h—er, all of my stuff. He’s holding everything, yet doesn’t even have to close his hands—heck, he doesn’t have to lay a single finger on me—to destroy me.

Er, destroy my stuff. Totally, all my stuff.

Unfortunately, he knows it.


Pyxis the Restrained

I have no idea why Luna the Baby Bunny is here.

She’s flat on her back. Her chest is rising and falling—something that humans do when they’ve physically exerted themselves—and her damp hair’s plastered to her glistening forehead. Her dress, though stained and rumpled, is clinging to her body and twisted about her legs.

Interesting.

The scent of prey had lured me to this spot in Briarwood, yet I’ve found Luna here instead.

Which is absolutely fabulous.

It’s also confusing as fuck. She shouldn’t be laying on the forest floor.

Unless she has a reason.

And a real Akupara would try to determine that reason.

Very well. As I continue to hold my hand out in offering, I run my gaze over her again. Her dress is a soft, floral shade and there are twigs—

Well, I’m not sure what’s in her hair. She’s got two spear tips, cut from some sort of fabric and all tangled up with forest twigs and leaves, stuck in her hair. Those limp spears are useless for hunting, so…

Yeah. Doing this like a real Akupara isn’t working. I’ve got no clue what’s she about. 

But, not having a clue has never stopped me before, and it sure as fuck isn’t gonna stop me now.

Withdrawing my hand, I flop down next to her. The fresh scent of green leaf volatiles—the gaseous hydrocarbons which are oxygenated inside the plants of Briarwood’s undergrowth—bursts into the air.

Luna’s startled cry also bursts into the air, but whatever. I’m already rolling about, crushing vegetation with the wide plates of my carapace, doing my best to contribute to her efforts.

Very well. Doing my best to contribute to ‘what I assume to be’ her efforts.

See, when plants are being eaten, they release that ‘fresh green scent’ as a defense. Nearby carnivores take notice, drawn to the promise of an ‘all-you-can-eat-meat-buffet’ featuring the grazing herbivores.

Which means Luna is hunting the meat-eating predators that prey on the plant-eating predators.

I think.

If I’m correct, that’s fantastically badass of her.

“Am I doing this right?” I flick my gaze to Luna to gauge her feedback about my technique. “Am I?”

She’s staring up at the uppercanopy as she resettles herself, her tiny body adding little puffy whiffs to our leafy bait. “Is there a wrong way to get knocked on your ass?”

“Numerous.” At least a dozen of ‘The Most Common Mistakes Made by the Untrained Tackle-ee’ come to mind.

“That sounds about right.” She sighs. “Bet I’m the perfect example of The Worst Wrong Way.”

She’s excellent examples of the top thirteen pitfalls, but I don’t rattle them off.

Rather, her breathy exhale—so soft sounding, yet heavy with self-battering—has me craning my neck as I lift my head.

My helmet is fucking cumbersome right now, so I’m fighting the urge to yank it off as I scan the immediate area looking for…

Shit. I don’t know. Looking for something that I can actually fight?

“What are you—?” Luna’s voice is sharp with alarm. Her brows are raised over her wide eyes. Her body tenses, readying to spring up, and my muscles coil in response.

My heart strikes against my plastron—my chest’s hard plates. Finally. Finally. Finally. Something to pounce on.

A sharp crack—the sound of a stick breaking under the heel of a scurrying creature—has Luna snapping her attention to the south.

The noise came from the north.

Another stick snaps farther north, closer to the settlement.

Luna, though, redirects her attention toward the east, tracking past north along the way. “Oh. It’s just the kids.”

And yes. I’ve been aware of the human hatchlings the entire time. They’re keeping a wary distance from me, as they usually do.

But still, I’m impressed by Luna.

Sure, her second attempt to pin-point the human hatchlings wasn’t accurate, but she’ll get it by her fourth try. I know it.

It’s simply that, as a hunter, she’s not like the other humans.

Truly, it’s fascinating to observe how humans hunt. They have such unrealistic expectations, constantly setting their sights on apex predators, insisting that the beast will ‘make a good burger.’ If other humans had heard the hatchlings stomping about in the forest, they would’ve scampered off.

And here’s an interesting observation about humans: their choice of direction—moving either toward or away from the sound—is completely unpredictable. It defies statistical modeling. Which, after countless hours of other Akupara documenting humans in the field, is simply astounding.

Luna, though, is reacting differently than a typical human. By letting herself go lax and flopping back to the ground, she’s implementing a wise strategy. She’s conserving her energy for her targeted prey as well as refreshing her leafy-scented bait.

Outstanding.

Seriously. Good on her.

“Pyx.”

I snap my attention—which is sharply honed on due north—to her.

“Trust me.” She gestures with her hand, flicking her tiny fingers to the west.

See. She’s getting closer.

“It’s just Howie and—” She presses her lips together, the corners of her mouth turning downward. “They’re just kids. It’s nothing to worry about, and you’ve got your patrol thing to get back to. I’m good.”

“It’s all right.” Patrolling and baiting a trap are conveniently concurrent endeavors. So I nod and smile at her. “I can do both.”

Too bad she can’t see my smile that’s hidden behind my Bale’s mandated helmet. But, I get a glimpse of her face as I start rolling again. Her lips are parted.

That’s it. Parted lips. Nothing else.

Actually, she looks baffled.

I think.

But I can’t verify it. I’m too busy rolling around, and I’m really putting my back into it, too. Just like that animal that the humans call a ‘War-adillo’, I’m curled up and tumbling-slash-prowling about, marking my territory.

Fine. What I’m doing isn’t as badass as all that. I’m just making a crushed circle of ground-carpeting plants around Luna, pointlessly beefing-up our leafy-ness.

Why is it pointless?

Well, there’s nothing to trap because Jo ordered me to clear the forest. I’ve already pounced on everything that could be pounced on.

I slide my gaze to Luna.

She’s lying in the center of my—well, the center of this fascinating thing I’m doing—tugging at her twisted skirt and creating more enticing scents to draw and trap her prey.

Should I tell her? About the lack of pouncing—er, prey?

Luna stops adjusting her skirt. “What is it, Pyx?”

I must’ve stopped my prowl-slash-rolling—prolling?—because Luna’s bright, human eyes are steadily gazing at my dark faceplate.

Well, fuck. Of course, Luna would ask about her prey. I didn’t have to tell her, but I can’t not answer her. I mean, I’d’ve preferred to have kept the beasts and cleared the humans from the area, but Joia insisted that the other way was best.

I clear my throat. “It’s complicated?”

Her brow wrinkles again. “Complicated?”

“Yep.”

“Are…” She sits up and looks about. Turning toward me, her brow is still creased as she pins her gaze on me. “Are you asking me or telling me?”

“I’m answering you.” By Aku, I love easy questions.

“Answering?”

I sure the fuck am. Keep the easy questions coming, Luna, because they’re gifts from Aku right now.

See, while Luna’s been darting her adorably confused, yet suspicious gaze about—looking for whatever—I’ve gotten caught up in a very ‘Akupara Moment.’ It’s kinda like the same thing that drew me into Briarwood. My attention’s gotten snared again.

So, fun fact about me: I naturally have one Akupara trait in abundance: temporal perception.

Whereas humans race through each second that ticks by, an Akupara crawls through that same stretch of time. What humans observe as blips or blurs, we view with clarity.

Since finding Luna lying on the ground, I’ve caught each slide of her dress against her skin. Have counted the trembling flutter of her eyelashes against her flushed cheeks. Have filtered her distinct scent as it wafts through the odors clinging to the fibers of her clothes and skin.

I’ve been seeing Luna the Baby Bunny endlessly.

My instincts are prodding me. Reminding me that Luna’s not like other humans. She can move fast like us. Like an Akupara.

My heart thumps against the squeezing tightness in my chest.

Pounce. Pounce. Pounce.

But, does Luna being like an Akupara also mean she’ll see me as the others of my Bale do…?

My voice comes low and gruff, rumbling up from my churning gut. “Want me to flush your prey?”

Ass. Luna’s not hunting anything. I know this.

Instead of waiting for her answer (as an Akupara would do), I zip off (as an Akupara would not do) into Briarwood.

The shit question. The reckless running. It’s all me being so unbearably me.

Creeeaaak!

There go my hands again, but I catch the ominous tone that the humans claim to hear. Censure. Scorn. Blame. 

Clamping down on my fists, I run faster. But it’s pointless. I can’t outrun the condemning creaking or the phantom echoes that’ve taken up the chase.

“Fake. Fake. Fake.”

This chapter is complete! I’ve enabled commenting and have added my own thoughts as well.

As always, thank you so much for reading!

xo Bex

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From Slow & Steady: The Velveteen Tortoise
Copyright © 2020 by Bex McLynn
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13 thoughts on “Slow and Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter One

  1. Here we go again!

    What’s different this time? Well, I’m trying first person point of view. I love reading from this perspective, but I suspect it will take me more than this chapter to get my “1st PPOV legs” under me. So, please bear with me.

    How do I think this chapter went? Honestly, I posted it because I need to push on with the story. My beginnings are still shaky. I revise them once I have an entire draft written, which (of course) I don’t have right now. But, that’s the point of all this!

    My goal for this chapter was to reset the stage, introduce Luna and Pyx, lay the foundation of each character’s internal conflict, and finally roll the story toward the external conflict. The next chapter will focus on adhesion. Meaning, I need a reason for Luna and Pyx to team up even though they don’t want to team up. Should be fun!

    Again, thank you so much for joining me as I tumble through another serial based on The Tortoise and the Hare. 🐇❤️🐢

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  2. This was really fun, and intriguing. A very different kind of story, and one in which I have no idea which way it will go. I was immediately drawn in, and now I will be faithfully waiting to read more. Please don’t disappoint me, and continue this enigmatic tale. Thank you so much for finding a completely new story to tell us, I excited.

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    1. You’re welcome, Sabina! I so glad that you’re enjoying the story. Yes, there are more installments coming! Thanks for commenting and reading. I greatly appreciate it!

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  3. Awesome start! I love being back on Warren and I just know these two are going to be such fun! I love them both, thank u so much for writing about my 2 favorite characters.

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  4. Not tryin to rush u but about how often should I look out for chapters? (I can’t wait to get into Baby Bunny and Pyx’s heads). Thank u so much for doing what u do, I know these two are gonna be hilarious and probably a little heart warming. Please stay safe and I wish I lots of joy.

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    1. Good question, Jolene. I’ll do my best to complete one chapter per week. I’ll also post scenes (aka installments) as I complete them.

      And it’s my pleasure to share this serial. As I said in my Q&A for the original serial (Rez and Kin’s story), posting like this keeps me writing during all the uncertainty with covid. I get to write a ridiculous, and hopefully heartwarming, sexy tale about Girl Meets Alien Boy. In this regard, I’m having a blast and am incredibly grateful that folks are reading along.

      All the best to you as well, Jolene! Stay safe!

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