Here it is the second installment in the series, this being the sequel to Reaching Out. All the characters are still co. me, Aaron Jeffery, if for some bizarre reason someone wants to use them just send me a copy of the story, picture or whatever it is for approval, I'm a reasonable guy. As long as your picture, story, ect. doesn't totally violate the characters personality I'd probably be okay with it. And hey, write me, let me know what you think of this or any other story I have written, constructive criticism is welcome, no flames please. In all honesty I'd rather fair criticism than false praise. Feel free to pass this around to your friends any way you want, that doesn’t involve profit, or altering this document.

The Outsider

By Skunkaholic

I crashed heavily into a chair in the corner of the cafeteria, it usually wasn't too busy this early in the morning. I hate Monday mornings, they always seem to come way too early. There were a few other people here, mostly humans. There was only one other furry present, a half dead looking Raccoon, chewing on the butt of his pencil before lowering it to write something on his paper. Shaking his head somewhat violently, probably to wake himself up, he took a quick slug of coffee and continued working on whatever it was that had him out of bed at this ungodly hour of the morning. Why was I up this early, what can I say I'm stupid. Seriously though, I couldn't sleep much last night, dreaming about Maggie again, and so I came down here before my first class, see if anyone else is around. Racheal was here and so was Leeroy, they both had early classes too.

Then the door chimed as a dark chocolate colored furry walked in. It was either Stewart or some cat had dropped his radio in the bathtub. He walked up to the counter and bought a coffee, before heading our way.

“Hi Racheal, Duke, have you heard?” he asked with a sense of urgency.

“Heard what?” The most recent news I had heard was about Wolfgang's upcoming tour of Canada, this courtesy of Leeroy, hardly earthshattering.

“Bart Findley, you know, from fencing? He got the crap kicked out of him by a bunch of humans last night. He's in the hospital.”

“Oh man." I gasped, " have you heard if he's all right?”

“They say he's gonna be okay, but he's got several cracked ribs, a bunch of stitches and apparently they busted his knee up pretty bad. The doctors don't think he'll be able to fence the rest of this year because of it.”

“How'd you hear about this so fast?” Racheal asked.

“My mother's a registered nurse, she was working when they brought him in and she recognized him from our fencing exhibitions.”

I sighed, “We warned him, But he said he could keep it quiet.”

“What?” Racheal asked.

“He was secretly going out with a human, they'd coincidentally sit beside each other at movies and they'd sneak over to each other's apartments and stuff. I told him it wasn't a good idea, but he was in love.”

“What kind of screwed up looser would fall in love with one of them?” Leeroy snorted between sips of coffee.

“So are you going up to see him?” I asked Stewart. The porcupine looked thoughtful for just a moment before he replied.

“Yeah, I'll go up after last class, maybe get a card and get it signed by the rest of the fencing club.”

“Yeah, that's a good idea, tell you what, I'll go up with you after last class.”

“Count me in too.” I looked around for a moment before I realized that Leeroy had said it. Apparently I wasn't the only one caught unawares by Leeroy's response, Racheal was also staring at him in utter shock.

“Sure, man, but why?” I asked curiously, “From what you were just saying it serves him right for dating with a human.”

Leeroy bared his fangs for a second as he replied, “I want to find the shits that did this to him, Bad taste in girlfriend or not, he's still one of us. And when they start going after us, I say we strike back twice as hard.”

Sounded to me like New York gang mentality, or any city gang mentality for that matter, but I couldn't say for certain. Leeroy doesn't talk about his past much, not even to me.

“Listen man, don't do anything stupid. I mean you could get yourself seriously hurt going after a group of humans.”

“Yeah, Leeroy, I mean think of what these guys did to Bart.” Racheal sounded really concerned for Leeroy, the first time I'd ever heard that.

Leeroy was about to say something but instead just stared over my shoulder, with a look on his face of pure malice. Just as I was about to turn around to see what had earned his venom I heard an unfamiliar voice. “Do any of you mind If I sit here?”

“There are plenty of other tables.” Leeroy spat hotly, now I did turn around and there standing behind me with a cup of coffee was the last thing I expected. A human, he was about our age, which meant he was probably a first or second year student like us. He had short, light brown hair and was dressed in a pair of grey slacks with a light blue business shirt and a sports jacket. His glasses gave him that look of a lawyer or corporate wage slave, the kind that wore them just to look smart.

He waited for a second and during that second if someone had sneezed halfway across campus I swear you would have heard it at our table. Then when it became obvious that no one was going to contradict Leeroy the human started walking away from us. I had to wonder why had he wanted to sit at our table in the first place, as Leeroy pointed out more that two thirds of the tables in the cafeteria were unoccupied, but for some reason he had walked past all those to ask if he could sit with four furries that he didn't even know. As he took a couple steps away from our table I thought, what did he do to us to make him unwelcome? If a strange furry had come over to our table we probably would have invited him to sit down, it was simply because he was human. And that fact didn't sit well with me.

I think I was as surprised as anyone when I heard my own voice, “Here have a seat, don't mind Leeroy he's just pissed at having to get up this early.”

The human turned back to us and seemed to survey for a moment, measuring what I had said against the expression on Leeroy's muzzle. Leeroy looked like he would pounce this guy if he even came within arms reach of the table.

Leeroy is my best friend but he does have his negative points. Chief among them, he can be blunt about how he feels to the point of rudeness, and tends to hold the actions of even a single human against the entire species. Personally I would like to think that I don't, because I'd like to believe that I'm better than the ignorant bigots that blame all furries for the few who like to use their superior strength to bully and dominate humans.

Cautiously he pulled out one of the chairs and sat down, putting as much table between himself and Leeroy as he could.

“I'm Duke, This is my sister Racheal, and these are my friends, Leeroy, and Stewart.” I introduced.

“I'm Ruddy MacEntire.”

Leeroy stood up, grabbing his leather jacket off the back of his chair, “I gotta go, got some shit to do before class, I'll catch up with you guys after last class.” Then casting a final hostile glance at Ruddy he left.

“Shotgun!” Racheal cried as we approached the car. Deep inside I really hoped no one wanted to buy this car. It had been Dad's before the accident, me and Uncle Sean had torn the car down to the frame and straightened that. Then we rebuilt it using all same year parts. Except for the engine this car was a handbuilt, custom '71 Plymouth Caravelle. As Racheal climbed in the passenger side, and Leeroy slide in the back, I ran my hand nostalgically over the tan paint.

“I'll meet you at the hospital.” Stewart called before slapping on his helmet, and revving the engine of his Honda gold-wing. After a brief display the motorcycle squealed loudly, gliding gracefully out of the student parking area.

I climbed into the drivers seat, making sure my tail was out of the way before I shut the door. Racheal just stared at the dash board, She seemed to be thinking about the same thing I was. “Bruce?” Her voice was slightly cracked, I'm sure she was on the verge of tears. “Do you remember mom?”

I sighed, I hated thinking about this. “Yeah, a little. Vague kind of stuff. I was only four when her condition deteriorated, and she died not long after that.” I thought for a moment trying to get something to solidify. “I remember watching mom hang up the laundry on the clothesline, while I played in the dirt, I don't know if she knew I was watching her. I remember peeking around the corner into the kitchen while she made dinner. She'd lift me onto the counter and I'd sit and there and watch, she always said I was helping.”

“I don't.” Racheal stated flatly, regret plain in her voice.

“Enough of all this sentimental bullshit, let's get going.” Leeroy growled from the back seat. He got that tone whenever someone started talking a lot about family, like there was a huge load of pain, he was carrying around with him, because he couldn't bare the anguish of telling anyone.

I turned the key in the ignition and put the car into drive, pulling slowly out of the parking lot. No one said anything on the drive to the hospital, Racheal, stared at the dash, trying to call up memories from when she was three. Leeroy sat in the back hating whoever he hated, for whatever had happened to him those years before, and I just concentrated on getting us there.

Stewart pulled into the hospital parking lot just as we came into sight, how long had we just sat there? His Gold-wing was fast, sure, but he didn't speed while in city limits. Get him out on the open roads and who knows. Finally we pulled into the parking lot and piled out of the car, Stewart was standing beside his bike, with his helmet under his arm.

“What took you guys so long?” He commented as we walked up to the front door. The receptionist was a furry, that surprised me a bit, I don't know why. Furries are everywhere you look nowadays, movies, sports (in our own league in most cases), right down to the Chinese family who owned the store on our corner, and their youngest daughter who was a cricket. She was what is referred to as the new breed. In addition to the original virus' intentionally engineered there were many other strains created when the virus escaped to the insect population. Furries born from these virus' are what is referred to as the old breed. Then about 15 years ago a group of genius', some would say wackos, took the initial virus and created a large number of new strains, including crickets, dolphins, whales, and there was some rumors that they had been successful in creating a couple other strains, the problem with the new breeds, is that they were recessive to the old breed. If one side of a furry's parentage had the virus of an old breed then the new breed virus would be completely covered. They were rumored to have created a virus strain for a number of creatures that had never existed or were now extinct if they had. Dinosaurs, Unicorns, Griffins, Pegasus, And who knew what else. I didn't believe these rumors though, No documentation has ever shown up of any of these new strains, and I couldn't believe that they were able to create from scratch the DNA of these animals, I just didn't buy it. Although come to think of it there was one supposed unicorn out there, although he claims he's just a regular horse with a miniature narwhal horn grafted on, he's the lead singer for a band called 'Corn. That was the problem with furry music, too many of them were content to be parodies of human bands, like Furvana, whose lead singer was a sheepdog.

The elderly Raven peered at us through a pair of coke-bottle glasses. “Can I help you?” She seemed almost a little suspicious of us, probably convinced that just because we're young that we're here to somehow, find a way to cause trouble.

Stewart spoke for the group, “We're here to see Bart Findley, he was brought in last night.” She typed for a moment at the computer terminal, keeping her eyes on us the whole time, “Your friend has been moved to 3rd floor, room 319.”

“Thank you, ma’am.” We decided to take the stairs up, instead of waiting for the elevator, which was currently up on 5th. Once we got up there we walked down the hall looking for the right room.

As we reached the room one of the nurses was just coming out. “We're here to see Bart Findley, Is he awake?” I asked.

“Yes, he is.” The human replied in a hurry to get on with whatever he had to do.

We opened the door and slowly stepped inside, none of us were really sure what to expect, or how bad he was. We walked into the room and all of us stopped dead in our tracks. Bart Findly was a pretty typical housecat furry, an orange-tabby short-hair. His head was bandaged as well as a thick gauze pad over his right eye. Certain areas of his face had been shaved down to the skin in order to apply stitches but in addition the entire right side of his body, as far down his body as we could see above his hospital gown, had been shaved clean, including his whiskers on that side. That was clearly not the work of the hospital, that had been done to him while they had him down and bleeding on the street. Bart looked up from the TV he was watching and saw us, standing there catching flies with our muzzles. Shaking my head for a moment I stepped forward. “Hi Bart, we came up to see how you were doing. We brought you a card.” Stewart stepped up as well, with Racheal and Leeroy right behind him. Stewart extended a paw with the card in it, while I stood transfixed on the odious shaving bestowed upon my friend and fellow furry.

“Everybody signed it.” Stewart offered as Bart flipped the card open and read the comments his fellow fencers had.

“Not everyone,“ He sighed setting the card aside on his nightstand, “Just the furries.”

“Who cares about those other guys, anyway.” I tried to comfort him, but considering the position he was in he had the right to be depressed.

“You were right, Duke. You tried to warn me, both of you. But I figured we could keep it quiet, or maybe that even if people did see us they would see how in love we are and not care. I was a fool.”

“Who did this to you?” Leeroy demanded.

“There were four of them, driving a red crew cab, probably a couple years old, that's all I can tell you It was about 12:40 at the Moose.” The bar formerly known as the Loose Moose had in recent years undergone a change in image and become just 'The Moose'.

I knew what Leeroy was capable of with a little information, and what he had right now scared me. I turned to challenge his decision, “You are not going after these guys Leeroy.”

He just stared at me impassively, his expression cold and set, like it was carved in marble. “That's crazy,” Racheal gasped, I don't think she had realized how serious Leeroy was about his proclamation earlier.

“Don't do it, look what happened to me, just leave these guys alone.” Bart protested from his bed. At that point the door to the room opened again, and someone else joined our little party. She was petite, and actually quite lovely, for a human. She had long brown hair, and walked gingerly, like she was afraid that the floor might break under her.

I turned back to Bart, “Maybe we should leave you two alone. We'll stop by again.” Shaking paws with him, I turned and the four of us left the room, leaving the two alone.

As soon as we were out of the room Leeroy started walking off, and I was on his trail before he took his third step. I put a paw on his shoulder to talk to him. “Listen to me Leeroy, don't go after those guys. They are dangerous.”

“Christ Bruce, those shitters do that to one of your friends, and you're ready to just let them get away with it?” Leroy snarled.

“So what if you do find them. And even if you can beat them up, then what? Does that make Bart heal any faster, Does that tear down the prejudice's that put him there? “

“We can't just sit back and do nothing, what they did to him, by shaving his fur they’ve insulted every last one of us!”

“Let the police deal with it, Leeroy. And speaking of which, if you go after these guys then the police will be on your case.”

“I am going after them Duke, you can either leave me to what I have to do, or help me.” He challenged.

“You know what,” I replied, “I will help you. I'll help you by making sure that you don't do anything stupid. You're my friend Leeroy, but the last thing we need is for this to escalate into a race war.”

“Fine then,” He conceded, “Are you going to give me a lift home or do I have to walk?” I could tell by the sound in his voice that he was in no way deterred in his chosen course.

“Why don't we go rent a couple of flicks, then go back to my place and hang.” I suggested.

“You don't trust me? I thought we were friends.” He was seriously pissed, so much so that Racheal had backed a few steps away from him and was now standing directly behind me.

“We are friends man, that's why I can't let you do this. I know how you feel, but taking the law into our paws isn’t the solution. Just let the police handle this, and they'll get what's coming to them.” And they most likely would if they ever got convicted, most prisons were desegregated. And those who committed race crimes very often found themselves on the receiving end in the system. Sometimes in more ways then one.

“All right, since I doubt I'll be able to convince you otherwise, let's go.” He resigned.

We left the hospital, saying bye to Stewart and headed to the Rodger's Video just a little bit away from the collage. As we drove Racheal slipped a tape into the deck mounted in the dash. Within a few minutes the quiet ringing of an old fashioned cash register could be heard, leading into ‘Money’ By Pink Floyd. Me and Racheal are both big on Classic Rock and Roll, Aerosmith, Stones, Pink Floyd, Queen all that sort of thing.

Soon we were pulling into the parking lot of the video store. We piled out and locked the car up, You don't just leave a car unlocked, regardless of the age, especially in Surrey. Some areas where better than others, and anything was better than Scott Road, down by the docks. The only place in all Vancouver more run down than that was the East Side. We went into the store and started scanning along the new release wall. A couple interesting new comedies, one of which was all rented out. Leeroy picked up the latest tape from the World Furry Wrestling Federation, a division of WWF. It was called North of the Border, the event had taken place in the Skydome in Toronto, the third major WWF event in that arena. The main event was Denis Stalker challenging The Corporate Workhorse for the WFWF title.

Continuing down the wall a ways, more suggestions where made before I decided on my pick, the new Jackie Chan film, for a human he seemed almost ferret in his agility, and had the common sense of a lemming when it came to his stunts. We also got Recticle, the new Jean Le Chat action movie.

As we walked up to the counter Racheal , who had been looking further down the wall, looked at pour selections. “Great,” She complained, “Two action movies and a wrestling. Why didn't you just get a live taping of an execution?”

“Do want to get something else?” I offered.

“No forget about it, I'll just go see somebody tonight, give you two a night with the guys.”

Once we were out in the car we took off heading for home, as we came up on a gas station Leeroy requested we stop, “I want to pick up some munchies and hit the can.” We pulled in and I filled the tank up while Leeroy went in and headed for the bathroom immediately. There was a fair crowd of people here right now, busier than this place usually was.

Leeroy flushed the toilet and wiped his paws on his pants. " Shit, " he thought to himself, “Bruce's too nice. If anything's going to happen to these bastards I gotta loose him. But how?” He glanced around for some sort of inspiration, before he noticed something, the panels in the roof so the maintenance people could get up to check wiring and such. Leeroy went to the door to the bathroom and unlocked it. Then he closed the lid on the toilet and climbed up, allowing him to push the panel in the roof aside. He gave a small jump grabbing onto the rafters in the roof and hauled himself up into the cubby. Then he replaced the panel and waited. In a few minutes he heard a knocking on the bathroom door. That would be Bruce. The knocking again, and then the door opened. Leeroy could hear Duke's voice cursing, then the door shut.

Leeroy sat down in a booth and waited for the human to sit down across from him. Leeroy would really have rather not done business with a human, especially where this was concerned, but he hadn’t been able to get ahold of Iggy. Still, Buzz didn’t really care who he did business with, as long as they could pay his fee in one way or another. Buzz kept his ear to the ground, if it has happening in Vancouver and he didn’t know about it, it wasn’t worth knowing about, and if you ever needed to find something in a hurry, legal or otherwise he knew someone who had it or could get it. And if he didn’t Iggy or one of a half dozen other fixers Leeroy knew exactly like them would.

As they sat down a waitress came over to take their order, She was a cute looking dog, some sort of golden lab cross. “Coffee, and a platter of fries.” Buzz replied before she even asked.

“And for you sir?”

“Just a coffee thanks.” He didn’t really have time to waste, one of the mission parameters of operation payback was ‘avoid Duke at all cost’. Leeroy had to shake his head, some people where just too nice for their own good. “All right Buzz man, what do you know about four humans in a red crew cab? They were at the Moose around 12:40 last night?”

“Other than the fact that they shit kicked some cat last night? I know a bit, but it’ll cost you. I assume you have my consultation fee or you wouldn’t even be here.”

Leeroy casually passed a small baggy containing four well stuffed joints under the table. Buzz ran a finger over the bag to determine it’s contents and pocketed it. The waitress came over with their coffees, and once she left Buzz passed a note to Leeroy under the table, Buzz had learned the rather unique skill of writing without looking at the paper, it wasn’t pretty but it was legible. “I know you’ve got the connections to get this, meet me back here when you’ve got it.”

Almost two hours later Leeroy was back with a bag containing a dozen more joints and three grams of magic mushrooms. The pass was made and Buzz satisfied himself with the merchandise. “All right stinky, here’s what I know. The guy who owns the truck is a Niger by the name of Lenny Smith. Big fucker, stands about 6’7 weighs a little over two-forty. Lives in Caribbean Place apartment complex with his chick. Little Asian thing, nice ass. They both work at the Safeway, he works produce, she’s in the bakery.”

Every half hour Leeroy made a walkby of the apartment building looking for a red crew cab. On his forth pass he finally struck pay dirt, the son of a bitch was finally home. He walked over to the tree on the edge of the lot and picked up the baseball bat he had concealed there on his first passby. Slinging it over his shoulder he whistled cheerfully, ‘Come Out And Play’ by the Offspring seemed to fit the mood.

“They’re gonna bash it up! Bash it up! Bash it up! Bash it up!” His first shot took the drivers side mirror right off. Then he smashed the bat across the hood twice and wound up putting his forth shot across the windshield. Quickly he circled around to the front of the truck and stepped up onto the bumper. From there he hauled himself up onto the hood of the truck and smashed the bat into the windshield again, clearing most of the glass away from the window. He interrupted his whistling to chuckle, “Give these bastards something to remember me by.” Quickly he undid his belt and turned his back to the car, jerking his pants down around his knees he hunched over and raised his tail. “Fire in the hole!” He wished he could have seen the spray covering the front seat, and such a piece of luck; upholstered seats, the smell would seep in and they’d have to replace the seats completely to be rid of it. Then he raised his pants again and redid his belt, just in time to see four humans come pouring out the front doors.

“What the hell are you doing to my truck?!”

Leeroy quietly sang to himself, “Hey, Come out and play.” He jumped down off the hood and raised his bat again. “You wanna beat up furries, take them four on one? Well me and my little friend here have something to say about that.”

Leeroy circled as the four humans approached him, fanning out to try and surround him, like they’d probably done with Bart. “All right monkeys let’s party.” He swung the bat at the first one catching him right on the shoulder. Then he was jarred by a kick from behind, sending him stumbling forward. He turned bringing the bat into the gut of the one standing on his right. And the turned to strike the one who had hit him from behind. As he was taking aim he was again struck from behind, this time across the back of the head. At the same time the one standing to his left kicked him in the stomach, causing him to drop his bat. Leeroy stood up and lashed out at the closest human to him, raking his claws across his cheek. Blood splattered on the pavement as Leeroy took another punch, this time to his kidneys. The ones on either side of him grabbed his arms and stretched them away in opposite directions.

The human in front of him picked up Leeroy’s bat and lightly tapped it against the ground, making an ominous clacking noise that echoed through the parking lot. “You cut me freak, now you’re gonna really pay!” He rammed the bat hard into Leeroy’s ribs. Leeroy did his best to suppress a grunt of pain as the tip of the bat drove into him.

“Do it again!” One of his buddies urged. He stepped back and postured for a second before taking the bat like a lance and charging, driving it into his ribs again, concentrating on the left side.

“Show this animal what happens when they don’t know their place.” Again, this time battering ram style.

“Beat him like a dog.” As the pain condensed Leeroy thought he might have heard a crack, but he wasn’t sure.

From there the blows to his ribs sort of flowed together, he lost count of how many they were but each was punctuated by a taunt or encouragement to the one Leeroy was sure was Lenny. “Break him in half!”

“Having a good time animal?”

“We should hang his tail from the mirror.”

“Hurt him!”

“What are you gonna do now?”

“Make him pay!”

“That one had to hurt.”

“Maybe he’ll share a room with that cat we got last night.”

Then he stepped back for a minute, the human standing behind Leeroy grabbed a handful of red dyed headfur and pulled his head up. Still he couldn’t really see much, his ribs were aching so badly he could barely keep his eyes open, and when he did they were still trying to cross, causing a massive blurring of his vision. “Pull his head back further.” Lenny instructed. Once the human behind Leeroy had complied Lenny moved in again this time thrusting the bat into his throat. Leeroy barely noticed the blow, the pain in his ribs was overrunning anything else, and it was already hard to breath. He was sure now that he had cracked ribs, if not broken, and they were burning with each labored breath he took.

The human behind him let go of his head, letting it drop forward again. Lenny raised the bat high over his head and brought it down cracking it against Leeroy’s head. Leeroy would vaguely remember the humans letting go of his arms dropping him to the pavement.

Ruddy smoothly took the corner, pumping his legs, driving him forward. He had been fortunate that he found an apartment within biking distance of the college. The only problem was that this wasn’t exactly the type of neighborhood to be traveling through alone late at night. Still he couldn’t really help it, he needed to finish that paper and the library had been open late. As he sped down the street he saw a group of humans standing in the parking lot of the Caribbean Place apartment complex. They seemed to be kicking at something on the ground. As Ruddy came closer he could see what they were kicking. At first it looked like some sort of carcass, maybe a large animal hit by a car, but as he looked closer Ruddy recognized the mess on the ground as a furry. It was a skunk to be precise, and judging from the red streak through it’s headfur it was the same skunk who had been in the cafeteria earlier that morning.

At first Ruddy thought to just keep on biking, even if he did help, the skunk probably wouldn’t appreciate being helped out by a human. Ruddy had gotten a good enough look at this one’s bigotry that morning to judge his likely reaction to a human’s assistance. However if he simply ignored what was going on that would make him no better than these same racist cowards who could only stand up to a furry if they had him against odds four to one. These same attitudes were at work in every level of society and they were the single largest obstacle for the furry rights movement to overcome. Sure, by law furies had the same rights as anyone else, and it all looked very pretty on paper but on the streets was another story. Many apartments would accept a human client over a furry, claiming that the furry would have left behind hairs and smells embedded in the carpets. Many business’ would refuse to hire furies, often having one ‘token’ furry on the payroll, and stuffed away in the dirtiest, sweatiest, or most degrading area of the job.

Ruddy stopped his bicycle across the street from the parking lot where the four people were still stomping the broken and bleeding form. Ruddy walked across the street approaching the scene, drawing the attention of the group.

“This doesn’t concern you, take off.” The largest member of the group warned him. Apparently the skunk had managed to at least lay a pretty vicious claw on him before he went down.

Ruddy stared down at the skunk, he must be unconscious because even with the attention of his assailants turned away from him he wasn’t trying to crawl away.

“Hey, You deaf or something?” Another one barked. “We said beat it.”

“Leave him alone. He’s had enough.” Ruddy was hoping that maybe he would be able to talk them into leaving their victim alone without resorting to violence.

“We’ll decide when he’s had enough. Now if you don’t get the fuck out of here we’re going to have to do the same to you.”

“Come on. He needs an ambulance as it is. If you do any more you’re gonna kill him. Do any of you really want murder on your conscience?”

“Ain’t no crime to put a diseased animal out of it’s misery. Now this here’s your last warning, get the fuck out of here before we have to put you down beside this freak.”

“I can’t leave you doing this. Please leave him alone.”

“Right then; you had plenty of warning, now we’re gonna have to give you a bit of the same.” The largest one sauntered towards Ruddy, the blood trailing down his cheek adding a ghastly element to his visage. His three friends filed in behind him the last one picking up the baseball bat which was lying on the ground.

The one with the bat filed to the front of the group as the approached. Ruddy reluctantly assumed a combat stance, now he was about to find out if his years of karate training would actually count for anything in a fight. The bat came in high at his face, but the attacker caught a hard forearm to his wrist causing him to drop the weapon. Before the thug was able to contemplate what had happened, Ruddy was already following up with a snap kick to the midsection, doubling him over.

Ruddy then seized the neck of his shirt with one hand and his belt with the other. From there it was a simply enough maneuver to propel him head first into one of the three other approaching attackers. The two remaining glanced at each other nervously for a moment before the one on the left charged Ruddy intending to tackle him to the ground. Ruddy again proved to fast for his assailant though as he sidestepped and reached out a foot to trip him. He cursed as he crashed face first into the grill of the truck which stood nearby. He was definitely out of this fight now but the other two had rejoined, “I’m going to ask you again,” Ruddy offered, “Leave me and the skunk go, and this can end right here and now.”

The two who had collided came at him at once, with the injured guy still hanging back. The one tried to circle around behind him as the other one came at him with a punch. It was painfully obvious that none of these punks were anything more than street brawlers, Ruddy saw the blow coming and would have had time to send out for pizza before it landed. Ruddy seized the attempted attack by the wrist and heaved him through the air to the street. As the punk rolled on the ground holding his back the other came up behind him and grabbed him in a reverse bearhug, pinning his arms to his side. He turned Ruddy towards the clawed face who was finally entering the fray. Ruddy let him get in a bit closer and then executed a reverse hook sweeping the legs out from under the one holding him. He quickly spun around, and removed the third thug with a hard stomp to the treasures. Hearing his howl of pain made the last man standing question the wisdom of this attack.

Ruddy reassumed his defensive stance, which seemed to cement his opponent’s decision. Leaving his friends lying beaten on the ground he ran for the hills.

Ruddy immediately turned his attention to the injured furry laying on the ground. He seemed to be alive although he was not conscious. The blood trickling from his head had matted a large section of his fur, both head and facial. He was going to need an ambulance right away. Right now Ruddy was regretting that he hadn’t taken his mother’s advice and gotten a cellular telephone. Ruddy looked around for someone who could help. Immediately his eye caught a pay telephone about a block away at a gas station. Ruddy jumped back onto his bike and high-tailed it to the phone.

Fifteen minutes later Ruddy was watching as they loaded the skunk into the an ambulance. While they loaded he managed to pry the location of the hospital out of the attendants. Finally they finished loading the spineboard which he was strapped to into the ambulance and the ambulance was on it’s way. Ruddy pushed himself as hard as he could trying to keep up with the ambulance as long as he could but they slowly pulled away. Until they hit a red light which the ambulance just breezed through leaving Ruddy standing in the street with his bike.

By the time he arrived at the hospital the police had already been notified and arrived. They took him in and questioned him as to what had taken place. He gave them a simplified version of the story neglecting to mention the opportunity he was given to leave peacefully. Once the police were convinced that Ruddy had acted in self defense they let him go. He then proceeded to registration to check up on the skunk. After a drawn out confusion he finally managed to discover that the skunk was already out of emergency and was resting in post op. He’d been lucky and had managed to avoid anything more serious than some broken ribs. He would be released from hospital care when he awakened and as long as he didn’t push himself, his ribs would heal in time. Ruddy sat down in the foyer to wait and make sure for himself that the skunk was all right.

Slowly Leeroy’s eyes cracked open, and he found himself staring up at a strange ceiling. His ribs still throbbed but he forced himself to recall the night before, searching out those fuckin’ apes. Then he remembered the fight, them with his bat. He recalled the pain, It had dulled a lot since the night before but Leeroy still wasn’t sure where he was or how he had gotten there. Looking around he realized that he was in a hospital room, at least that explained where he was, but how he had gotten here was still a mystery. They had probably left him beaten and humiliated like they had Bart. He tried to sit up but stopped when a sharp pain lanced through his side. In a minute when he had recovered he tilted his head forward enough to look at his body. All his fur was still where it should be; which means that either they had felt satisfied with just breaking him, or someone else had stopped them. The first was about as likely as Sydney becoming a nun, and the later wasn’t much more probable, that was a human neighborhood. How the HELL did he get here?!

While he lay there pondering the night before a doctor entered the room. Just his luck to get a human doctor. Leeroy tried to speak but found his throat so dry that the words choked off before he could speak them. The doctor offered him a glass of water from the bedside. Fortunately it was a narrow glass, had it been wider Leeroy would have been reduced to lapping it out of the glass like an animal. Something that never failed to amuse the humans around. Once he had wet his throat he croaked out, “How did I get here?”

“Your friend brought you in. He said that he found you laying in a parking lot.”

“Friend? Who was it?” Maybe Duke had managed to find where he had gone after all.

“Short brown hair, and glasses, well dressed.”

Leeroy racked his brains, he didn’t have to many friends and none of the ones he could think of fit that description. “What species?”

“Species? Oh, he was a human.”

Human? why the hell would a human do anything to help him. Hang on. That prep school reject who had come up to them in the cafeteria. But why had this human helped him after the way he had acted. “Stupid fuckin’ human,” He thought, “doesn’t he know that we’re too different to care what happens to each other?”