The Bear’s Cub #1:
Been Sleeping in My Bed
This is an AU, based on the premise that a teenaged Tyr,
shortly after escaping from slavery, found an orphaned Harper and became
Seamus’ foster brother/father figure.
the sentient species he’d encountered, humans had to be the dirtiest.
Anasazi’s mouth twisted in disgust as he picked
his way across the refuse-strewn alleyway.
Even a Pregpog Tree Ape knew better than to
soil its living environment with its own waste, and that particular species
ranked so low on the intelligence scale that some argued that they weren’t
sentient at all. Still, even though stupid, the ape knew better than to wallow
in its own shit. Not so humans. If
he’d had a choice, Tyr wouldn’t have been in
this stinking alley, seeking a sheltering bolt hole.
Ever since his Pride had been wiped out, however, the young Nietzchean
had found few choices left to him.
the alleyway smelled marginally better than the slave pens had.
fifteen year-old resolutely turned his mind away from that uncomfortable
topic. He had regained his freedom
and the overseer who had tormented him was dead by Tyr’s
own hand. It was in the best
interests of his continued survival to take to heart what lessons the
experience had offered and not dwell on the rest.
However unpleasant, no experience Tyr could
learn from was wasted, especially not if it could be applied to the monumental
task of reestablishing his Pride.
at hand wasn’t as all-encompassing but was still important – shelter.
The captain of the cargo ship that had hired Tyr
on as a temporary stevedore had been all too happy to take advantage of the
adolescent’s desperation. Although
scrawny by his own people’s standards, Tyr was
still capable of moving a lot of freight.
His relative youth and lean financial situation had been an easy
combination for the Sallas’ captain to use to
justify paying Tyr less than the going rate for
cargo wranglers. The teen had been
aware of the inequity, but had been in no position to negotiate a higher
wage... and had even less leverage to keep the captain from ditching him on Ifia,
a planet of questionable reputation, especially where Nietzcheans
found himself with little money and no immediate means to getting more, unless
he were willing to peddle his body in ways totally
distasteful to him. Since he wasn’t,
that meant scrounging lodging rather than paying for it.
The young Nietzchean wandered the streets
of Ifia, mindful to keep a confident expression on
his face. One lesson he’d
learned from the Sallas’ captain was to never
show how desperate you were and he was determined not to make that mistake
again. Eventually, Tyr
had found what he was looking for – an alleyway off a main thoroughfare,
somewhat secluded but with clear sight lines for at least a minimum amount of
ducked into the narrow access lane, Tyr was even
more pleased to discover an unclaimed alcove.
From the looks of it, the buildings adjoining the alley had been
remodeled several times and, somehow, a tiny corner had been boarded off and
apparently forgotten. There were
some signs that an animal was making its den there, but Tyr
wasn’t terribly concerned. From the strewn goods that had been crudely
fashioned into a small nest, the creature was undoubtedly slight in stature
and therefore couldn’t pose much of a threat.
that he’d found his lodging, Tyr gratefully
dropped his carrysack.
The adolescent was weary down to the bone.
The last couple of years had brought a series of hardships, very nearly
too much for even a Nietzchean to endure.
The loss of the Kodiak Pride, including Tyr’s
own family. Slavery.
The overseer with an all-too-personal interest in
the young Nietzchean under his control.
Clawing his way through tons of suffocating rubble.
Weeks of meaningless jobs, performed for meager pay and the opportunity
to put star systems between himself and his former owners.
the Nietzchean knew that the safety his bolt-hole
offered was dubious at best but it still was a relief to have a hiding place.
Tyr moved some debris out of his way and
made himself a spot to lay down.
Night was falling fast and, although a portable light was one of the
few items he’d been able to sneak off the Sallas,
the teen wanted to conserve its energy. As
tired as he was, sleeping wasn’t a problem.
With every intention of resting lightly, a necessity since was alone in
potentially hostile territory, Tyr soon nodded off
and exhaustion took him deeper than he’d intended.
indeterminate time later, Tyr was attacked.
awakened to the feeling of a weight landing on his chest and the sound of
epithets being yelled into his ear. Tyr’s
mostly-asleep mind flashed back to the night his family was killed.
For a heartbeat, the youth was back in his mother’s house, listening
to the sounds of slaughter going on all around him.
In the next heartbeat, his mind shifted to the slave pens and the press
of too many unwashed bodies packed into too small a space. With a jerk like a
poorly functioning holovid, Tyr’s
mind brought him abruptly back to the present and the Nietzchean
came fully awake. As he did, the
teen automatically categorized his assailant as he’d been taught.
He immediately realized that the weight pressing down on his chest was
slight; the fists pounding on his chest were small; and the voice yelling, “Mine!
Mine! Mine!” had a piping
quality to it.
decided that he’d been right about the alcove’s previous occupant being
small and not a threat, but never would he have imagined that the tenant he’d
ousted was a child.
move that was fluid despite his exhaustion, Tyr
rose from his makeshift bed and firmly grasped his attacker by the back of its
grubby shirt. Holding the
interloper’s slight but struggling form as far away from his own body as
possible, the Nietzchean reached for his portable
light and flipped it on. The
resulting harsh illumination lit the alcove’s meager interior in a harsh
glow and Tyr got his first good look at his
another time, Tyr might have found the fierce look
of defiance on the child’s tiny features amusing, but he was too tired to
find anything entertaining about the situation.
For a moment, the not-quite-grown Nietzchean
and the dirty human child glared at each other.
do we have here?” Tyr finally asked with a
Parkonian Gutter Cat?”
words broke his opponent’s silence. “My
The youngster yelled, not at all intimidated by the fact that his foe
was holding him several feet off the ground.
“You get out!”
blinked and then laughed. It wasn’t
a pleasant sound, since the teen was still not at all happy at having been
awakened. “Not a Parkonian
Gutter Cat, after all,” he derided his captive.
“It’s just a dirty little kitten, with milk teeth instead of fangs.”
child struggled in Tyr’s grasp, making a swipe
at the Nietzchean despite the fact that the teen
held him well out of arms’ reach. The
movement, however, did gain the boy his freedom, as the decrepit fabric wasn’t
up to the task of supporting his weight. With
a moist ripping sound, the cloth of his tunic gave way and the boy hit the
fully expected his diminutive foe to run away, but instead, the child started
kicking at his shins. “My
place! You get out!” The
urchin chanted with each kick. His
head didn’t even come up to Tyr’s waist.
valued children above all else, the cycle of procreation being sacred to them.
The young of other races were, of course, much, much lower on the value
scale than even the least gene-desirable Nietzchean
child. In general, however, non-Nietzchean
children could expect marginally better treatment than their parents. That was
why Tyr, instead of twisting the boy’s neck and
thus ending his problem expediently, instead reluctantly placed one hand on
the child’s dirty head and straightened his arm.
The difference in their sizes was significant enough that the simple
tactic put Tyr out of the boy’s meager reach.
watched as his attacker continued to punch at empty air.
Despite his resentment at having been rudely awakened, the young Nietzchean
was reluctantly coming to appreciate the human child’s fighting spirit.
few more minutes of futile struggling, the little dynamo finally wound down.
Physically, at least.
Niechy,” the urchin yelled, aiming one last kick
in Tyr’s direction.
“My place, mine!”
shook his head in bemusement. “You
have a one track mind, kitten. You’re
almost as determined as a Nietzchean, I’ll give
comment got his opponent started again. “Not
a kitten, not a Niechy!”
The last was virtually spat out in disgust.
“I’m a Harper and I made this place.
You get out!”
longer amused, Tyr jerked the defiant urchin
forward. It was no burden at all
to wrap a hand around each of the human’s stick-thin arms and lift him so
they were eye-to-eye.”Let me give you something
that I’ve found to be rare in this universe: free advice that’s actually
worth listening too,” the Nietzchean said,
ignoring the blue eyes glaring back into his own.
“Discretion is the better part of valor.”
Seeing the rage in the boy’s face become replaced with confusion, the
teen rolled his eyes at the human’s ignorance.
“I’m bigger than you are, kitten.
You’ve lost. This place
*was* yours but it’s mine now.”
Tyr countered, shaking the boy hard enough to make
the child’s legs swing as he dangled in Tyr’s
clutches. The action served to
emphasize the Nietzchean’s point and some of the
defiance trickled out of the young human.
sensed the change in his opponent’s resolve.
“No, go, before you make me angry.”
set the human none too gently on his feet.
Seeing a last bit of defiance in the boy’s face, the Nietzchean
suddenly dropped into a defensive crouch, displaying his arm spikes and
barring his teeth in a menacing growl.
it. With a yelp, the child turned
and ran, snatching a rag from the nest Tyr
had seen when he discovered the alcove.
move, kitten,” The Nietzchean called as the
urchin disappeared into the alley. “Running
from a fight you cannot win means you survive to fight another day.”
was well and truly alone, the teen shut off the light.
The Nietzchean squelched any feelings of
remorse that arose from having kicked a young and defenseless child from his
only shelter. Tyr
was Nietzchean, which meant that his first
priority was Tyr and the human would just have to
find a new place to live -- it was as simple as that.
Besides, Tyr had no desire to stay on Ifia
one minute longer than he had to. So,
if he were watchful, the boy could reclaim his nook when Tyr
much better about the situation, Tyr settled back
to doze the rest of the night, confident that it would remain undisturbed this
coming days, Tyr came to regret two things.
One, that he had advised the child to “run and fight another day.”
And two, that he’d thought, even for a moment,
that the creature was defenseless.
refused to let himself regret that he hadn’t
snapped the urchin’s neck when he’d had the chance. That way led to
madness and madness was, no matter how justified, unproductive to his survival
or to restoring his Pride.
had begun to look for work the very next day after his run-in with the boy.
Although it galled his Nietzchean soul to
work for humans and other inferior species, he’d long resigned himself to
its necessity. Unfortunately, the
citizens of Ifia weren’t quite so resolute. The
planet had previously been a dumping ground for Nietzchean
slaves, those unfortunate enough to have been harvested in general raids but
unsuitable for whatever work the Nietzcheans had
been conscripting for at the time. Of
course, the slavers wouldn’t put themselves out to the effort of returning
the unneeded ones to their homes and therefore simply offloaded them at a
convenient location. Not only was it cheaper, but the Nietzcheans
then knew that they had a ready supply, should a different need present itself.
arrived at Ifia, never achieved the funds to
return to their places of origin. Instead,
they simply stayed and made a life for themselves on their new planet as best
they could. The civilization that
already existed there was seedy enough as it was, but the constant influx of
new slave-rejects, and the “sharks” that their desperation attracted, made
Ifia even more disreputable than it had been. Nietzcheans
had stopped using Ifia a year or two earlier as a
dumping ground, but the citizens had certainly not forgotten how they’d
ended up there. They were still
wary enough of any Nietzchean not to attempt to
attack one, even one as alone and young as Tyr,
but neither were any of them the slightest interested in hiring a member of
the species that had made their lives so miserable.
didn’t help that Tyr had acquired a shadow, one
that was loud and vulgar, despite its small size.
first, the street child that had called himself “a Harper” contented
himself with yelling insults and unflattering descriptions of Tyr
as the Nietzchean made the rounds of potential
employers. The creature remained hidden and his voice wasn’t that loud, but
since Tyr never got further than the front door
anyway, even that minor disruption was enough to undermine his employment
step in the young human’s guerilla campaign involved throwing rubbish.
Having obviously observed Tyr and noticed
his preference for remaining clean, the child began pelting the Nietzchean
with garbage whenever the opportunity arose. Given how scummy Ifia
and its denizens were, there were *lots* of opportunities.
Tyr’s superior senses and reflexes helped
him dodge most of the filthy missiles. Most,
but not all. A few of the
projectiles found their mark and Tyr had to
interrupt his job search more than once to do a quick clean-up.
What was worse, once when he ducked, the garbage hit a large, furred
alien next to him, one that immediately blamed Tyr
for being hit in the head with something that smelled like it belong in the
sewer. That time, it was Tyr
that ran from a fight, with the urchin’s gleeful cry of “Nasty Niechy!”
ringing in his ears.
did his best to ignore both the hurled insults and the trash.
As much as he wanted to hunt the boy down and rectify his earlier
mercy, he didn’t dare. None had
dared attack him yet, but seeing a Nietzchean
chase down a ragged human child would be sure to incite the other citizens
against him. Given his current
status, Tyr couldn’t afford it and so he
endured, hoping to outlast his stalker.
enough, the child left Tyr alone when the Nietzchean
was in the alcove he’d appropriated from the boy.
Like an animal, the urchin probably realized that it was best not to
draw attention to its lair. Even
if his home had been stolen by someone else, he wouldn’t want the other
predators to find about it. Or perhaps he sensed that Tyr
wouldn’t be reluctant to pursue him in the isolation of the night, without
witnesses to be offended if a Nietzchean was
violent towards a human youngling.
It was a
stand-off between teenaged Nietzchean and dirty
human child... until the evening Tyr came back to
the alcove and found that all of his belongings had been urinated on.
the destruction of his Pride and family, slavery, and the forced hand-to-mouth
existence he’d been enduring, Tyr had few
possessions and none he was sentimental about.
That didn’t stop him from becoming infuriated upon finding that they
defiled in such a way.
just isn’t worth it,” the teen muttered to himself
after the rage had passed and he began to salvage what he could of his things.
“Let the creature have this hole if he’s so attached to it.
I can find somewhere else.”
a minute for his words to sink in, but when they did, Tyr
stood still in shock. Was he, a Nietzchean,
actually thinking of admitting that a human child, at least ten years his
junior, had bested him? Had he
sunk so low? Or, it occurred to him, was this child simply more suited to the Ifian
environment than he was?
so, was that something he could use?
day as Tyr made his rounds, he observed his
stalker with a new eye. Instead of
being frustrated on how the child managed to stay out of reach, he instead
admired how well the boy knew hidden nooks and crannies throughout the city.
The teen still dodged the thrown garbage, but as he did, a plan began
to form in his mind. With any
luck, he could not only stop the child’s irritating attacks, but he could
also use the boy to better his own situation.
night found the plan ready to put into action.
had secured an odd job here or there. Not
enough to earn any significant wages, but enough to buy a little bit of food.
With what he was able to steal from the carts in the marketplace, he
had enough to fill not just one empty belly, but two.
As the sun began to fade, he set his offering out and waited for his
stalker to arrive. Tyr
had no doubt that he would. It had
been obvious that the child had been watching him and, besides, the Nietzchean
figured that the creature wouldn’t have wanted to stay too far away from his
know you’re out there, kitten” he called, when alleyway was riddled with
shadows and he heard a faint scuffling noise that couldn’t be attributed to
vermin. “You might as well come
out.” He’d set his portable
light on low, enough to provide some illumination but not enough to be
was silence at first, but then that maddening voice that had become so
familiar answered him. “Nasty Niechy,”
the boy derided him, “Not dumb! *You* come out.
Stay out too!”
upped the ante, stepping a few feet away from the alcove and setting down a
small pile of food. “I won’t
hurt you, kitten. I just want to
talk to you.” The silence became
expectant and the teen could almost hear the little one’s stomach growling
at the thought of food that didn’t come from a garbage can.
The voice was decidedly less mocking this time but still full of doubt.
talk,” Tyr assured him, careful to remain seated
a comfortable distance from his offering.
“No hurt... and you can eat.”
“Food, for talking?” The child’s
tone was still unsure, but Tyr could make out
movement from just beyond the lantern’s reach.
want to propose a truce,” the teenager explained, watching as one thin arm
darted out of the shadows and snatched a piece of fruit from the top of the
The question was muffled by the sound of munching
but still clear enough to understand.
going a lot better than Tyr had anticipated.
The boy must have been starving to accept the bribe so easily.
“A truce means a cease-fire... a pact,” the teen struggled to use
words that he thought the young child would understand.
“I won’t hurt you, you won’t hurt me.
Instead, we help each other.”
had come back, one dirty hand groping from the darkness at the pile of food.
At Tyr’s words, it instead slapped the
ground in frustration. “Help a Niechy?
was getting very tired of that word but put the frustration aside.
If this truce worked, though, he’d increase the boy’s vocabulary
out of simple self-preservation. “Think
about it,” he said, calling on every bit of patience that slavery had taught
him. “I’ve noticed that you’re
always alone. Don’t have many
friends, do you? And there’s
lots of scary people around, people that would want to hurt someone as small
and alone as you... but I’m bigger than you are, so I could help protect
noticed that the boy was slowly creeping out of the shadows as he spoke,
approaching the light and the food. As
the child’s face became clearer, the Nietzchean
noticed by his expression that he was listening and Tyr
decided to play his most important card. “We
could share this space of yours. I’m
not leaving. That much should be
clear, even after what you did. So,
if we share, you’d have part of your place back.” The teen shrugged.
“Half of something is better than all of nothing,
even you should be able to figure that out.”
Although he didn’t admit it to the boy, he was also hoping the child
could help him learn the city’s back ways, so that Tyr
could disappear at will. That, and
the added camouflage of appearing to have taken a human foundling under his
wing, should help dissipate some of the other citizens’ hostility towards
crouched by the food, shoveling it into his mouth as fast as he could when Tyr
made no sign of stopping him. With
his mouth still full and busy chewing, he appeared to consider the proposal.
Protect? No touching?”
winced in sympathy at the wary question. He
had a feeling he knew what was behind that inquiry and as a young one also on
his own, he understood where it came from.
As a Nietzchean, his upbringing had been
ruthless by some standards, but in a way Tyr had
been sheltered too. No Nietzchean
would consider hurting one of their own children and it had come as a great
shock to him to find those in the universe that considered the young a
desirable type of prey. “No
touching,” he assured the younger boy firmly.
felt himself being assessed by two blue eyes too old for the human’s young
face. Apparently he was found
worthy, because the child plopped himself down and began to eat in earnest.
smiled, pleased at a victory, no matter how small.
“Good. Now that’s
settled, we should formally introduce ourselves.
I’m Tyr Anasazi,
out of Victoria, by Barbarosa.
Of the Kodiak Pride.”
child tilted his head to the side, forehead wrinkled as he considered.
“‘Out of Victoria, by Barbarosa,’
what does that mean?”
sighed, obviously they had a lot of ground to
cover. “Victoria was my mother
and Barbarosa was my father.
The Kodiak Pride is my...” the Nietzchean
struggled again to put the concept into words an uneducated human youngling
would understand. “My
the boy said, having finally finished off the food and wiping his hands on the
rags that served him as pants. “I’m
Seamus Zaz’ny Harper.” He pointed a finger to
his chest in emphasis, then proudly added, “I’m
couldn’t help but notice that the child hadn’t mentioned his family.
An inexcusable omission for a Nietzchean,
but perhaps not quite as grave a faux pas for humans.
Not that Tyr was personally interested in
his new partner’s background but he realized he needed to gather information
about someone who would be sharing his life for a few days.
With that in mind, he continued the line of questioning as he gathered
his gear and motioned the boy to join him in the alcove.
about your parents?” The teen
asked. “How did a child so young
end up on his own?”
almost ran into the youngster as Harper abruptly stopped.
Tyr was about to berate him for nearly
tripping him when Harper turned to him, the glitter of tears obvious even in
the little light that was available.
ate ‘em,” the boy whispered.
didn’t need a further explanation. The
child had said he’d been from Earth, he really should have figured it out
had decimated that particular planet, making it ripe for Nietzchean
slave raids. It wasn’t at all
surprising that the boy’s parents had died in the original Magog
attack, only that Seamus Harper himself had survived.
As for his presence on Ifia, the Nietzchean
slave raids easily explained that. As
young as he was now, Harper must have been a toddler at the time he’d been
taken, too young even for slave work. No
wonder he’d been dumped with the other undesirable slaves.
In spite of himself, Tyr felt something akin to sympathy for the human child. He knew what it was to lose one’s family, become enslaved, and then have to survive totally alone and bereft. Still, he didn’t offer any words of comfort, not willing to unbend from his Nietzchean superiority
there are no Magog here,” he gruffly said, “We
have to find me a job tomorrow and there are some things I want you to teach
me, so get some rest.” Then,
before the child could respond, he added, “if you
can stand the smell, that is.”
human had the temerity to giggle instead of looking abashed.
As it gleefully jumped into its nest of rags, Tyr
having been too fastidious to use them himself, the child laughed at him.
You should have seen how you looked, holding your nose and yelling!”
Tyr carefully enunciated. “Not
He could ignore a little territorial spraying if it meant keeping the peace,
but not the continual mispronunciation of his species’ name.
The boy chirped back at him, the look on his face defying Tyr
When the child only laughed at him, the teen almost gave up but then
something occurred to him. “Alright
be that way, *kitten.*” The threat was clear, Harper could either use the
proper word or Tyr would continue to use the hated
were something that Seamus obviously understood.
“Nietzchean,” he repeated correctly,
heaving a huge sigh at the injustice of it all.
repressed a laugh of his own, decided that he would win this round gracefully.
“Goodnight, Harper,” he said, spreading out his own blanket and
preparing to go to sleep. He’d
just begun to nod off when he felt the boy’s warmth join his own.
“What are you doing?”
came the succinct reply.
was tempted to kick the child out, but the boy had a point.
The weather had turned to cooler and there was a decided nip in the
air. Deciding that shared warmth
was a good idea, he left the youngster in peace.
They’d deal with the issue of personal hygiene and possible fleas in
again about to drift off when he felt a hand touching his hair.
“What is it now?”
those?” The boy asked, referring
to the barely started locks that adorned Tyr’s
head. They were still short, but
deeply meaningful to the Nietzchean teen all the
mourning locks,” Tyr replied, not bothering to
turn around and face the child. He
told himself it was to emphasize his superiority to the boy and had absolutely
nothing to do with the tears he felt stinging his own eyes.
He’d taught himself not to think of his family, only of his mission
to reestablish the Kodiak Pride, but somehow this human youngling had managed
to break that resolve multiple times in only one night.
“There’s one lock for each person I loved that died.”
Tyr could almost feel the child counting.
“There’s an awful lot of them.”
family’s dead,” Tyr admitted, surprising
himself at revealing such a vulnerability to a virtual stranger.
Even if the stranger was a child, it still went against his training...
but that didn’t stop him from continuing.
“All of them, down to the last aunt and cousin.
I don’t have anyone either.”
felt a small hand pat his back. “Na-huh,
not no more” the sleepy voice objected, “Now you gots
spite of his upbringing, Tyr found that statement
meant more to him that he ever would have thought.
The teen was still Nietzchean, but a young
one and a adolescent that had survived several
horrible ordeals. The warmth of a
warm, non-threatening body pressed up against his back offered creature
comfort that was hard to deny.
joined his small companion in sleep, he couldn’t help but wonder just what
it was he’d gotten himself into.