Snowy padded through the wood, her ear still throbbing where the tag had been inserted. She knew that if she took the tag off, an alarm would sound in the control room, and it wouldn’t be long before Hop along and salty would come barrelling in to subdue her. Snowy knew her mistake was to beat Simba up. Using her huge paws to smash the white cub into the carpet caused her to be banged up and tagged. Now she was public enemy number one and knew her job was in danger. Padding noiselessly through the wood, snowy found herself near the pit, the place where the community lavatory was. She saw fleur leaving carrying Leo in her mouth. Fleur hardly glanced at Snowy as she passed, and Leo made a point of ignoring her too. Snowy knew this was orchestrated by the Boss and those around him.
Meanwhile, back in the control room, Sam and Allie were getting a crash course from the Boss in how to use the computers. The operation of the equipment was easy, and the bears picked it up quickly. Soon Allie was able to work the cameras with ease, Sam listening to the audio feed from the camera his mate was viewing. The Boss then suggested that, as part of her reparations to the community, snowy should teach the bears how to use the equipment in her former domain.
“That sounds a good idea,” Tigger mewed, for he was as angry with Snowy as the rest, “she’ll then really realise she’s messed up her life. Allie worked the buttons and joystick with her forepaws, her hind paws working the camera zoom function with pedals which the Boss had switched on for her use, snowy not being able to use them. The forepaw, hind paw, eye operation sped search times up considerably. Sam watching Allie’s fore and hind paws working, smiled to himself.
“Your paws look so sexy moving over the keys, working the stick and pedals Allie,” Sam thought.
“Snowy’s hind paws were redundant,” The Boss said, catching Sam’s thoughts, “I had to configure buttons so she could use the full features of the cameras. Now you bears are in control, you can use the system as it was intended. Allie sat in the hot seat, her forepaws resting comfortably beside the keyboard, the pads of her hind resting comfortably on the pedals. Finding Snowy, Allie spoke to her through the two way radio installed in her electronic tag. The white tigress padded towards the house, her head hung in shame as she realised her job was about to be transferred to two polar bears. Snowy knew that to apologise to Simba would not ease her punishment.
Padding into the control room, snowy stood stock still, staring down at her toes curled into the carpet.
“You wanted me?” She asked. Allie glanced at her.
“Show Sam how to use the editing suite,” she snapped. Snowy looked at Allie’s face, the polar bear was furious with her.
“Make it quick but thorough,” Allie said. Snowy did, as the editing suite was easy to use. Once Sam had performed a cut, paste, a save, and a retrieve command, Snowy fled from the control room.
Petra lay with Simba cuddled close. The cub was still shaken by his encounter with snowy, and would wake often in the night, sobbing and thrashing about. The touch of Petra’s paws soothed him, and he’d sleep peacefully after that. Allie watched the white lioness and her cub, greatly upset by their situation.
“So we’re in control now?” Allie asked the Boss.
“Well, with my help yes,” the Boss said, putting down one of the phones which littered the control room, “I’ve just told my back up team to stand down. I think I might see if there are other community members who could be trained to use this gear. Maybe Nanuq and Bramble?”
“Why not Kodiak and Arki?” Sam asked.
“They’re tied up with bathing and cubbing duties,” the Boss replied, “I’m leaving their paws free to concentrate on their jobs.”
“Good one,” Allie said, remembering the births of her own cubs.
“Now we’re trained,” Sam said miserably, “we’ll be confined to here won’t we?” The Boss shook his head.
“You can leave off,” he replied, “I will take over the running of the system whenever you want to have downtime. I run the system at night anyway, or the system just logs what’s going on. Oh yes, Allie, I’m sorry about what happened with Orsa.” Allie looked grim.
“She brought it on herself, beating up Simba like she did,” the female polar bear replied. The Boss took one of Allie’s forepaws in his hands and began to stroke it; the polar bear resting her head on his arm and closing her eyes in bliss. Sam watched his mate.
“Allie’s always liked having her paws stroked,” he said.
“I saw the DVD of the births of her cubs,” the Boss replied, “she and Arki coped really well with that.” Sam looked down at his own paws.
“I ran away,” he mumbled, ashamed at his cowardice.
“Some can’t cope with it,” the Boss replied, “that’s no bad thing Sam.”
“I’d like to be there when we next have a cub though,” Sam replied, “I’ll force myself to be there!”
“I’d like you to be there,” Allie said dreamily, surfacing slowly from her massage induced doze. The Boss patted Allie’s paw and left the control room, determined to let the community do its own thing for a while.
Snowy sulked in a corner of the wood, angry at herself for losing control of her temper with Simba. If she’d only kept her cool when the white cub had accused her of wanting to steal a cub, she’d not be in this situation. Snowy knew the reason she lost her temper was because she was very close to stealing a cub, and the white lion cub had found out.
Meanwhile, back in the house, Ellie lay on her rug, contractions building in her as she struggled to give birth to her and Nick’s second cub. Her labour had come on quickly, and she hadn’t been able to contact anyone before hand. Indeed, until a week previously, Ellie hadn’t known she was pregnant. Now she was in trouble, screaming and scrabbling on the rug in her lie up.
“What’s going on?” Little Leo asked, padding into the room, having heard Ellie’s cries of pain.
“I’m having, having my cub!” Ellie mewed, panting and groaning as another contraction built in her.
“Would paw massage help?” Leo asked, remembering the chat between Fleur, Arki, Kodiak and Petra in the cubbing den. Ellie thrust her left forepaw into Leo’s huge hairy ones, the little cub stroking her pads and toes, the cub willing Ellie’s pain to go away, and for her cub to have a safe delivery. Leo didn’t know the mechanics of cubbing, all he knew was Ellie was in pain and that wasn’t a good thing. His massage soothed Ellie, the female lynx able to birth her cub with reduced pain and distress. She bore down, and then felt her cub emerging:
“Go to my tail,” she panted, “there, find my tail with your paws, you’ll feel a cub being born!” Leo, dazed by the whole experience, crawled to Ellie’s tail and touched Ellie’s left hind paw, the female lynx wiggling her toes to acknowledge the cub’s presence and thank him. Leo, now excited at the realisation another cub was to be born, examined Ellie’s hind quarters, feeling a tiny cub’s head and forepaws, slippery and warm, emerging from beneath Ellie’s tail. Ellie strained hard, Leo catching the cub in his paws. Ellie felt Leo’s paws holding her cub and pressed down hard, her cub being caught in the hairy lion cross bred cub’s paws. Leo gathered the tiny bundle to him, not caring how much of a mess he got into. Ellie, feeling proceedings were over, turned to look at her newborn cub. Leo held the tiny creature in his paws, the cub still wet from its birth. Ellie took the cub from Leo and cleaned it up, Leo bewildered and slightly frightened. Fleur ran in, alerted by Allie, who’d only found the image of Ellie giving birth when Leo was catching the cub.
“Is everything all right in here?” She asked, anxious for her own cub’s safety as well as that of Ellie and her newborn cub.
“Yes fine mum,” Leo mewed, still shocked by what he’d witnessed and taken part in.
“You should have stayed in our lie up!” Fleur snapped at her cub.
“No fleur no,” Ellie mewed, “Leo was great, he knew about paw massage and helped me through my labour. Please, I beg you, don’t get angry with him. He came to me and was wonderful!” Fleur looked at her cub.
“How did you know about paw massage?” Fleur asked.
“I remembered you and Petra talking, um, also, you had Arki, Kodiak and, I think Samson was there too! You said paw massage could help mothers having cubs, so I asked this cat if she’d like paw massage and she put her forepaw in mine, and I had a go at stroking it, and it worked.”
“My name’s Ellie,” the cat said, “I’m a lynx.” Nick ran in then, alerted by Allie.
“You had your cub Ellie?” He panted, distressed he’d missed the whole thing, “you didn’t tell me you were in labour! I didn’t know!”
“I’m sorry Nick,” Ellie mewed, “it happened so fast!” Fleur was in two minds, whether to be angry with little Leo for crawling away from her, or keep praising him for a job well done. Even though Allie hadn’t noticed the female lynx’s labour, the camera would have caught everything, so it could be reviewed later. Indeed, Allie and Arki were already viewing the footage, the female polar bears impressed by Leo’s command of the situation. The cub calmly massaged Ellie’s paws, the lynx getting on with birthing her cub, clearly relieved to have someone with her. Leo did exactly what Ellie wanted, and caught her cub with gentility and care, maybe remembering his own birth, where he’d been born onto cold tiles. When the recorded footage ended, Allie selected the live feed from the camera and spoke into the microphone.
“Well done Little Leo,” she said softly, the hairy cub’s smile telling her he’d heard her words.
Meanwhile, snowy listened through her ear tag, Allie having forgotten to switch off the feed to her tag. Snowy heard everything. Whimpering with anger, she screamed at Allie, the female polar bear hearing her and realising what she’d inadvertently done. Switching off the feed, Allie realised she’d broadcast everything to snowy, that the white tigress knew of the birth of Ellie’s cub, and now would be on the look out for a chance to get in and steal it!
“I’ve messed up!” Allie whimpered, telling Tigger what she’d done. Tigger looked grim.
“Snowy will be on the look out for that cub,” he mewed, “Allie, you have made a grave mistake, but we will try and help by redoubling our patrols. Tigger lifted a handset in one forepaw and dialled with the other. Speaking to hop along, Salty and Raja, he outlined the situation. Raja swore viciously, which Tigger couldn’t blame him for.
“Stupid Allie!” Raja yelled.
“I’m sorry!” Allie whimpered, overhearing the conversation, as Raja was shouting.
“I’ll tear her paws off!” Raja mewed.
“Allie’s only started today,” Tigger mewed, trying to soothe his friend.
“Yes, I suppose,” Raja grumbled, furious his workload had just increased. Allie’s paw suddenly tightened on the joystick. She’d seen something which filled her with horror!
“Snowy’s watching through a window as fleur, Ellie, Nick and Leo bathe the new cub!” She yelled. Tigger hit the transmit button and shouted into the microphone.
“Snowy, get away from there!” Hitting a button which broadcast to all stations, he commanded:
“All stations, this is Tigger. Go to the bathroom window and apprehend snowy!” Snowy fled with Hop along, Salty, Raja, Rani, Isaac and Samson chasing her! Samson overtook snowy and wrestled her to the ground, the white tigress engulfed in a sea of flying mane and angry lion!
“You keep away from that cub!” Samson yelled, smacking snowy on her nose. Snowy, half crushed and winded by Samson’s attack, mewed she was leaving and that he’d been heavy pawed with her, and that she’d be complaining to the boss. Samson told her what he thought of her in terms which made Allie blush with embarrassment.
“Don’t hold back will you,” Sam thought. Samson was so angry with the white tigress he trailed her into the wood, well away from the house. Snowy could hear his heavy paws padding through the wood behind her, and they sounded menacing. Samson was protecting not only Ellie’s newborn cub, but his own cub too. He knew Snowy had her eye on Leo and he wanted her to keep her paws off.
“I will leave you now,” Samson said, turning and padding away. Snowy watched the huge lion go; wishing she’d never crossed him. Stiff from the fight, Snowy found a bush to hide beneath. Thinking of her situation made her cry bitterly. She knew the information she’d heard over the radio wasn’t for her ears, that Allie had screwed up and broadcast the information. Snowy knew that by acting on that information, by going to the window to look at fleur and Nick bathing Ellie’s newborn cub, she’d earned herself a kicking. Samson and the rest had piled in on top of her at the command of someone in the control room. Tigger most likely. Now snowy was cold and wet. The weather had changed for the worse, driving wind and rain bending the trees and lashing at her face and paws. Snowy’s paws sank into the mud and she felt worse than ever. She knew Ellie’s newborn cub would be virtually kept under lock and key, and she’d have no chance to get paws on with it. The void in Snowy’s heart consumed her, and she lay under her bush, crying and wringing her paws.
Ellie finished bathing her cub, drying the tiny creature off. She wondered whether Snowy’s addiction to cubs could be cured if she was given a job looking after the cubs. Her addiction to cubs could be put to good use, for Ellie knew there was no danger of Snowy abusing the cubs, she just wanted one of her own. Indeed, her addiction to cubs wasn’t the reason for her exile from the community, her attack on Simba was the cause of all that. Ellie met with the Boss to see if Snowy’s skills could be put to good use.
“The thing is,” The Boss said, “we don’t have many cubs here. The community isn’t into having loads of cubs. There is one or two born every year, but that’s about it. Now if we had more, we could put Snowy’s skills to good use. At the moment though, she’s in the doghouse, and I don’t think your suggestion would go down too Well Ellie.” Ellie, being mad about cubs herself, though nowhere near the level snowy was, sympathised with the white tigress.
“If only you hadn’t laid into Simba Snowy!” Ellie thought. She decided she’d try and talk to Simba, to reason with the white cub and see if he would understand Snowy’s predicament.
Padding to Simba’s lie up, Ellie was stopped by the white cub half way.
“I know what you’re about to ask,” Simba mewed, “Ellie, if only Snowy had admitted her addiction was consuming her rather than beating me up, everything would be okay! Now she’s banged up for eohippus knows how long, and reviled by the community. I know Snowy’s not a bad tigress, but she’s feared by everyone who has cubs, because she wants to steal the cubs! She’s admitted as much!”
“How about if we employ her to look after our cubs?” Ellie asked,” that way she’d get contact with cubs, would be able to play with them, and love them. I’m sure if snowy had regular contact with cubs, her need to steal a cub would vanish. It’s only because eohippus gave her instructions that she was only to have one cub that she’s feeling depressed. Tigger and snowy could have several cubs a year if they wanted!”
“Since when did Eohippus say to snowy that she couldn’t have another cub?” Simba asked, “Snowy’s new lease of life was to perpetuate her good work with cubs, not to stop it. It so happened that during the brief time Snowy was with Eohippus, her sister cub was shot and eohippus gave snowy Bianca to look after. There was no edict from the white mare either way. Its snowy herself, not eohippus that is stopping Snowy from having another cub. Snowy thinks she can’t have another cub, so she doesn’t want to try. If she only tried, she might have her wish for filled.”
“Can we do anything to help her?” Ellie asked.
“I need snowy to come to me and apologise for what she did to me, tell me in person that I was correct in my assumption she was close to stealing a cub, and that she will not steal a cub as long as she lives. Snowy must mean that, and stick to it. I hate seeing her roaming the wood, being exiled when there’s no real reason for it. Snowy’s not a bad tigress, she just couldn’t wait for a cub, so she nearly stole one, and we couldn’t have that. We could have monitored her, and we were, but she pushed things too far by beating me up. That’s what she’s tagged for. Now though, I think she’s very close to repenting of her crime.” Ellie didn’t ask how the white cub knew all this. Simba padded away, waving his paw at the Lynx.
“I’ll talk to snowy,” he mewed.
Padding to the wood, Simba found snowy under her bush, the tigress miserably twisting the toes of her forepaws together and mewing pitifully. Simba got down on all fours and gently nudged Snowy under her chin with his nose, just like a cub would. Snowy opened her eyes and looked at the white cub.
“I’m so sorry!” Snowy wept, “I, I was going to steal a cub, you were right! Oh Simba, Simba Kizungu, dear cub!” Snowy sobbed. She reached out with both forepaws and gathered the large white cub to her.
“I shouldn’t have hit you Simba, I’m sorry, I lost it! I know you were right; I was going to steal a cub! I can’t undo what I did, but I could, could try and repair my ways! I’m not going to steal a cub, not, not if, if I get regular contact with cubs. Please, please help me!”
“I can help you,” Simba mewed, “but you have to convince the community you will never steal a cub. We have two lion cubs which you could help raise, as well as a lynx cub born today. Little Leo helped Ellie birth her cub.” Snowy closed her eyes, thinking of the cub she’d seen in the bathroom. A tiny cub, a cub she wanted to protect.
“I can’t have a cub of my own,” snowy wept, “eohippus only let me birth my sister cub’s cub, and now, now I can’t have any more! I want cubs of my own Simba, but I can’t have them! So, so, I thought I’d steal a cub, a cub to protect and call my own!”
“Who said you couldn’t have cubs of your own?” Simba asked, “Eohippus didn’t. She gave you your sister’s cub to give birth to, and that was that. You could have another cub, if you tried. It is you snowy, not Eohippus which is stopping you from having another cub. Instead, you want to steal another mother’s cub. Try for a cub snowy! Tigger is angry with you, furious in fact, but if you showed him you were truly sorry, then maybe, just maybe you and he could have a cub of your own.”
Tigger listened to all this, the earpiece in Simba’s left ear relaying everything. He’d known about the white lion cub’s wish to get to the bottom of Snowy’s problem, and had wanted to find out for himself what drove the tigress to want to steal another mother’s cub. Now he knew, and wanted to help her. Tigger knew some might think him stupid for wanting to have cubs with a tigress that had beaten up the very thing she’d desired, but there it was. Tigger now knew it was Snowy’s own issues, not those of a higher power which had restricted her. She needed to take the plunge and see where she ended up. Tigger wanted the snowy he’d fallen in love with to return to him, the kind, caring tigress, not the obsessed scheming creature she’d become lately. Tigger knew he wanted cubs with snowy, if only she’d asked him before all this! His paws tightening on the pen he’d been playing with for the last few minutes, Tigger sighed deeply.
“Snowy, you silly thing,” he thought, “All this, when all the bluster and rubbish is cleared, was all to do with you thinking you couldn’t have a cub. You had this idea that you couldn’t give birth to your own cub, but you never tried. Instead you plotted to steal another mother’s cub,” Tigger thought. Padding from the control room, Tigger made his way to the wood.
Reaching it, he found the bush under which Simba and snowy were talking, and pushed his way into the centre of things.
“Why didn’t you tell me you wanted a cub snowy?” Tigger asked, “If you’d said, we could have tried for cubs! I want to make a family with you! Instead, you tried to do it in an underpaw manner!”
“What can I say to defend myself?” Snowy mewed, “for some reason I couldn’t ask you, I didn’t ask, I thought I could find cubs by other means. My addiction needed satisfying now! Not in four months time!”
“Now though, you have assaulted a cub, the very thing you want, you hit with your paws! I don’t know if I can forget what you did to Simba,” Tigger mewed, “I wish you’d kept your paws to yourself! Petra will go mad! She wants you to pay for what you did to her cub.”
“Snowy can make reparations by keeping her paws off Simba,” Petra snarled, passing Snowy’s bush on her way to the pit, “keep your paws off! Don’t touch my white cub snowy! If you break these rules, I will do to you what you did to my cub. You do this for the time it takes you and Tigger to have a cub, then you can embrace my white cub. Until then, paws off!” Snowy, who was at that moment embracing Simba pushed him away. Simba got to his paws, shook himself and padded after his mum.
“Snowy will have to show everyone she’s not going to steal cubs,” Simba said to Petra, “the only way she can do this is by demonstration. I’m letting her off lightly, because she’s admitted she’s got a problem, and is willing to try and solve it.” Petra covered her cub’s paw with hers.
“Snowy just got broody,” Petra translated, “instead of seeking cubs with Tigger, she tried to steal others cubs.”
“Yeah,” Simba mewed, “horrid ain’t it. Now though, she’s going to try for a cub with Tigger, let’s see how that goes.” Petra looked at Simba.
“Have you met Ellie’s cub yet?” She asked.
“Um, no, not yet,” Simba mewed. Petra led the white cub to Ellie’s lie up, where the female lynx and her newborn cub rested. Simba cradled the tiny lynx cub in his paws, the cub holding onto the toes of his left forepaw with both tiny paws.
“She’s got my paw!” Simba mewed. Ellie grinned as Simba tugged at his trapped forepaw, the cub holding on even tighter.
“Silly play,” Petra mewed, loving every second. Simba freed his paw and stroked the cub’s back and paws.
“One lovely cub,” Simba mewed. Ellie smiled:
“I don’t know if there might be two,” she said, “I don’t think I’ve finished giving birth yet. I’m feeling another cub might be on its way.” Simba stared at Ellie.
“How long is it since you had your first?” He asked.
“Five hours,” Ellie mewed, “but labour can suspend for twelve or there about. I still feel uncomfortable though, so I might be having another cub.”
“Is there anything we can do to speed it up?” Simba asked.
“Paw massage sometimes does it,” Petra mewed, “I could try that if you wanted Ellie.”
“I don’t know,” Ellie replied, “oh yes, Simba, how did your talk with snowy go?” Simba told her.
“Great,” Ellie mewed, “Well maybe snowy might want to see the birth of my second cub. See if she can walk away afterwards, or if she needs to be dragged.”
“That’s rather drastic,” Petra mewed.
“She’s going to have to see a newborn cub sooner or later,” Ellie replied, “and it might as well be sooner.”
“Do you want anyone to stay with you tonight?” Petra asked, “Just in case?” Ellie smiled:
“I think I’m okay thanks,” she said. Petra looked at Ellie’s large paws and body. The female lynx had filled out in the last few months, and now was quite large.
“I might have more than one cub still inside,” Ellie mewed, “my cubbing might not yet be over.”
“Good luck,” Petra mewed.
Snowy padded into the house; conscious she was about to witness the birth of maybe one, or two cubs. She knew this was a test for her, as Ellie knew how to birth cubs, and wouldn’t need her help.
“Ah snowy,” Ellie mewed, feeling her cubs shifting inside her, “maybe you want to get paws on with this, just like little Leo did?” Snowy looked at Ellie, who’d started pacing about. Snowy knew the female lynx was in total control.
“I would like to get paws on,” the white tigress mewed, “but do you want me to get that intimate with you?”
“You can’t steal any of the cubs,” Ellie replied, “so why not? You wouldn’t mistreat the cubs; you’ve made that quite clear.” Snowy felt her toes curl with apprehension, she wasn’t sure if she could go through with this.
“So you want me to watch you cubbing?” She asked, “And maybe, maybe get paws on? Feel the cub emerging? Catch it? Clean it up?” Ellie smiled, feeling her contractions starting:
“Yes,” she panted, settling down to birth her cubs.
“What control that lynx has,” Simba thought, “the first cub might have come quickly, but this one and the one after are totally in Ellie’s control. She knows what she wants.” Simba padded over and took Snowy’s paw.
“You can do this Snowy,” he mewed, “I know you want to help Ellie.” Snowy looked at the white cub.
“You have seen what I can be,” she mewed, “now, now it’s up to me to prove myself.” Simba squeezed her paw.
“Enjoy working with the cubs,” Simba mewed, “just don’t steal them.” Snowy watched as Ellie delivered her second cub, a larger cub than the first, but no less of a miracle for all that. Petra caught the cub in her paws, and then gave it to snowy to clean up.” Snowy took the cub and washed it with water which stood nearby, the cub squirming and wriggling. Snowy smiled with pleasure as she did what she was born to do.
“Now it’s your turn to catch the second cub Snowy,” Ellie panted, still in control of things. Snowy took Petra’s place, the white lioness touching the tigress’s paw as they passed, snowy astonished at the messages of support Petra transmitted during their brief contact. Snowy had no time to think of what Petra meant by all this, because Ellie’s third cub, a large one, was emerging into the light of day, Ellie straining hard to deliver the cub, with Simba massaging her paws. Snowy watched first the cub’s forepaws, then it’s head, then body, then hind legs, tail and hind paws emerge into the open air. Snowy gasped as she felt her need to protect these cubs welling in her. She fought the urge to feed the cubs, remembering her exile in the wood, and that she was on probation.
“What the hell’s this?” Pipin asked, running into the room. Ellie, still exhausted from labour, looked up at her son cub, which was no longer a cub, but a huge lynx. The blind lynx pointed his nose at the newborn cubs, his anger at their birth plain to see.
“First you birth a horrid misfit!” Pipin yelled, “then you and Nick get back together and produce three more cubs! I thought I was your only cub! You promised me I was the only one! Now those cubs will die! I don’t like lies and deception!” Ellie looked horrified!
“Pipin,” she said drowsily, Simba’s paw massage still dulling her senses, “you are loved by me and Nick, you don’t need to do this!” Pipin launched himself at Ellie and her cubs!
“Snowy!” Petra yelled, “forget what I said, and help us for Eohippus sake!” Snowy grabbed one of Ellie’s cubs and ran away with it, knowing Pipin wouldn’t be able to follow her. Simba grabbed another cub, and Petra the third, each running in different directions. Ahanu pounded in, alerted by Allie.
“So, you want to kill your brother and sister cubs pipin?” He asked, “Well, keep your filthy paws off! Pipin rounded on his hated half brother.
“You are the cause of all this shit!” Pipin yelled, launching himself at Ahanu, who fended him off easily.
“I want you dead!” Pipin screamed at Ahanu, losing control completely!
“No Pipin, no!” Ellie yelled, unable to help, “this is all wrong!”
“Too right it’s wrong,” Pipin yelled, “you are cub mad Ellie, first you let Clarence screw you and you give birth to a monstrosity, now you and Nick get back together, and there are three more bloody cubs! It’s wrong, because you said to me, on pain of death, that you’d have no more cubs! I want every single one dead, but most of all, I want Ahanu dead, his paws crushed and neck broken!” Pipin screamed.
“Can I help?” Someone asked. Ellie looked up into the eyes of a huge polar bear.
“Nanuq!” Ellie gasped, “Please, stop this!” Nanuq picked Pipin up in his mouth and shook him so hard his teeth rattled!
“You want more of this?” The bear asked round a mouthful of fur. Pipin, still defiant, screamed at the polar bear.
“Go on stupid furball, do your worst!” Nanuq obliged, Throwing Pipin into the air with tremendous neck breaking force! Pipin was dead before he hit the ceiling and crashed onto the floor. Ellie looked down at the broken body of her eldest son:
“He was twisted and bitter,” she mewed, tears rolling down her nose, “We never promised not to have more cubs. Pipin just assumed that, because I hadn’t had cubs for a long time, he’d be the only one. He became terrified I’d have another cub, and when Clarence and I got together, Pipin nearly went mad! What saved me and Ahanu was the fact Ahanu wasn’t strictly his brother, but if Pipin ever heard Ahanu tell Nick or I that he loved us, he’d storm from the room in a dreadful rage. Nick and I having pure bred lynx cubs, clearly his brother cubs, broke Pipin’s control on his anger, resulting in today’s outcome. Pipin, my dear sweet cub turned into a hate filled creature, and I don’t know why. I and Nick loved him, as we love all our cubs. Now though, it’s all ended, all finished.”
“I’m sorry,” Nanuq said, looking down at his work, “I didn’t mean to kill your cub. I’m heavy pawed sometimes.” Ellie touched the polar bear’s paw.
“Pipin wanted Ahanu dead,” she mewed, “if he could, he wanted my other three cubs dead too! He wanted to be the only one, as in his mind he’d always been. You did the right thing, protecting my other cubs where I could not.” Nanuq, ashamed of his role in the whole sorry episode, hung his head in shame.
Meanwhile, snowy lay in the only place she knew where Pipin wouldn’t find her or the cub she cradled in her paws. Shivering with fright, snowy lay in the Boss’s living room, Ellie’s largest cub held tightly in her paws. Snowy had resisted the urge to feed the cub, until the cub herself mewed for food. Snowy, her addiction to nurturing cubs meaning she had milk for them, fed Ellie’s cub, hoping Petra, Simba and Ellie would understand. Her paws shaking, she stroked the cub, feeling dreadful for going against her promises not to associate with the cubs any more than was strictly necessary. Snowy cried bitterly as she thought of her promise to Petra and Simba. Looking down through her tears at the lynx cub she’d fed and was now cradled between her body and the protection of her huge paws, snowy wondered if she’d ever be able to let this lynx cub go back to Ellie. The large female lynx cub buried her paws in Snowy’s fur, accepting her as her surrogate mother. Snowy cuddled the lynx cub in her paws, rocking her gently, the cub falling asleep.
“Eohippus,” snowy prayed, “please give me the strength to give this cub back to her mother.” Snowy slept a while, woken by the heavy sound of large paws on the carpet. Looking up, she saw Petra and Ellie watching her.
“Here’s your cub Ellie,” Snowy mewed, pushing the newborn lynx cub away with determination. Ellie picked the cub up in her mouth and carried her away, snowy watching her go with sad eyes. Petra looked at Snowy’s face, realising how much of a wrench this was for the tigress.
“Snowy,” Petra mewed, lying down and taking the tigress’s paw in hers, “I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have asked you to do it.” Snowy buried her face in Petra’s fur, squealing with pain, a pain Petra knew well.
“You’re destroying me Petra!” Snowy screamed.
“I know I shouldn’t have asked you to forget your promise,” Petra mewed, “for you’d only have to let the cub go. I needed a safe set of paws, and you were there, a safe set of paws snowy! I should have let you leave the cubs as you promised, and you would have done it I’m sure, but the time wasn’t right for that. Pipin was dangerous! The threat to the lives of the three cubs was greater than the damage done if I let you have a cub to look after.”
“You might think that,” snowy sobbed, “but for me, it’s horrible! I bonded with that cub Petra! We’ve been alone for hours! I bond quickly with cubs to save their lives! Now, now that bond is broken, for I can’t be as close to them as Ellie is, but it tears me to little bits inside.” Petra hugged Snowy tenderly, the lioness trying to soothe snowy with gentle paws, Snowy clawing and pawing at Petra’s fur in her distress.
“Either I remain apart from the cubs, or I embrace them Petra,” snowy sniffed, “I can’t do both! I can’t be told one minute to be detached from the cubs, and the other to forget detachment and protect a cub with my life! Which would you rather I did? I can’t do both!”
“You are a tigress, but you act like a lioness,” Petra mewed, “you love every cub as if they are your own, and that’s wonderful snowy! Never have we detracted from how wonderful that is. The community love you for it. We just wish you hadn’t considered stealing a cub! Beating up my Simba only confirmed your intentions.”
“It’s withdrawal completely, or total emersion,” snowy choked, “I can’t do both! I either work with the cubs, loving them like they’re mine, or I leave them alone, paws off, totally isolated from them. There’s no other way Petra! I admit I lost it with Simba when he told me what he knew, and I’m sorry for that. It was part of my addiction. I’m fighting it all the time! Trying not to love cubs as deeply as my heart wants to. Petra, do you know how much I loved you as a cub and still love you now? When Tembi did her worst, I had to fight my urge to rip her to shreds! I had to let justice do its thing, whereas my heart was telling me to tear Tembi’s paws off! I had to watch Theo force feeding you the meat, I had to watch your fight for life in the garden, knowing I could do nothing, that my paws were tied as I was not your mother and could not do anything to help! I know I was close to the leadership then, and many thought they knew me, but they didn’t. I wanted to rip Tembi’s head from her neck for what she was doing to you Petra Kizungu, when all I could do is watch and pray you’d be okay. I wanted to take you in and feed you as if you were my own, but I knew love from your own kind was what you needed. Petra, I, I wanted to hold you! A white cub in need of more protection than any cub since Whitie and Blanche. I wanted to take hold of this fat white cub and embrace her in my paws, hold her, love her, feed her! It took a lot of strength to not whisk you away in my paws and nurture you. So can you imagine my feelings when Tembi mistreated you like she did?” Petra was crying now, embracing snowy so tightly she feared she might break the tigress’s bones, but unable to lessen her hold.
“Feel my paws Petra!” Snowy shrieked, “Then you will know!” Petra took hold of Snowy’s paws and the message she felt in their touch made her crumple totally. Snowy’s anxieties, her worry, her fear and terror which she’d felt for Petra overloaded Petra’s senses, and even as an adult, she couldn’t cope with it. Collapsing against the tigress, Petra clung weakly to Snowy’s paws, her strength spent.
“Snowy,” Petra sobbed, “you need not worry any more. I can make it okay with the mothers, that they let you love their cubs as much as they do. Just, promise me one thing, that you won’t steal their cubs!”
“I won’t, I promise I won’t!” Snowy sniffed.
Petra lay in Snowy’s embrace, wishing she’d been more in tune with this tigress before now. Struggling to her paws, Petra heard Simba padding into the room behind her.
“Let’s go on from here,” Simba mewed, padding up to snowy, lying down and wrapping his paws round her neck in a cubbish hug which reduced snowy to a sobbing wreck.
“Start by loving a white cub,” Petra mewed, snowy freeing her paws from Petra’s and embracing Simba tightly.
“Let’s remove that tag from your ear snowy,” Petra mewed, “you don’t need tagging any more.” With that she broke the plastic on the tag and removed the pin from Snowy’s ear, the ear bleeding slightly, Petra licking Snowy’s ear to stop the bleeding. Snowy hugged Simba tightly, the white cub burying his paws in her fur, snuggling closer to her. Petra and Simba buried their paws and faces in Snowy’s fur, breathing in her scent, the scent comforting the white lioness and her cub.
Meanwhile, Ellie and Nick played with their three newborn cubs, trying to forget about Pipin’s untimely death.
Ahanu, helped by Nanuq, buried the disgraced male lynx in the wood. Returning to the house, Nanuq embraced Ahanu in a massive bear hug, the cross bred cub enjoying the feel of the polar bear’s warm paws.
“I’m sorry you got tangled in this,” Ahanu mewed. Nanuq stroked Ahanu’s back with his huge left forepaw.
“I had to protect the cubs,” the bear replied.
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