"Shite," Sariphan growled, jerking awake from the gas-induced sleep that was common upon Rangzer pilot-launchers, or any other space travel ship.

"Adir? Get me out of this thing," he muttered gruffly, his eyes roaming over the space before him.

Eyeballing his stats on the far wall, he grunted. If that damn chart was right, he had been in cryo-stasis for nearly a month. He grunted as the tube attached to his belly button was abruptly jerked out, the inside skin coming out with it before it was abruptly being sucked back into place. The immobile air about him was dispersed as the clear door opened and he was forced to grip the walls to keep from falling. He immediately set his feet the cool floor of his ship.

Saiphan wasted no time in hurrying to his chambers, immediately jumping into the bathing stall. He allowed the cleansing beam to warm his skin and remove all traces of the chemicals. Stepping out, he walked over to the closet and grabbed whatever clothing he reached first, quickly pulling it onto his body. He was also fighting the urge to fidget, as he found clothing so uncomfortable, while he made his way to the control room.

Immediately Sariphan saw the large sphere in the center of ship's viewing window. His brows furrowed a bit - where the hell was he? The planets of his acquaintance looked nothing like this, at least not on the outside. As far as the inside went, well, he would no doubt have to find out. This planet was all blue and green, yet the greens seemed broken, almost as if they were a puzzle and one could merely push them together to have a whole.

"Name: Earth. Occupants: Several species. The most advanced - that of the human race," a rather giddy male voice said from the ship's speakers. "The green you see is land, the blue water. This planet looks efficient enough to -"

The voice was abruptly cut off as the ship rocked sharply. Sariphan's amber eyes glowed as the lights went out, leaving him in complete darkness save for the light of nearby stars. The lights then flickered a moment before yet another rumble forced him to slam hard against the control panels.

"All systems down," Adir's voice said loudly. "Prepare for emergency landing!"

Yet there was nowhere to land as the ship was too far into this Earth's atmosphere. No sooner did the controls and power go out, than the ship began to descend.

Sariphan immediately jumped into the pilot's seat, strapping the safety belt about him securely. He took the steering stick in hand and pressed the emergency button. Nothing. He growled as his ship flew over what appeared to be mountains. Already the bottom was taking down tops of trees, then whole trees. Dirt and wood spewed everywhere as the ship came to an abrupt stop, leaving a long broken path behind it.

"That was close," Adir said, the lights flickering back on. "Luckily our ship is made of Zervsata metal, or we would have blown to bits!"

"What the hell happened?" the man growled up at the computer screen set in the wall. The face of a young brunette covered the screen. "Tell me you, lousy computer."

"Hey! I'm not lousy, you brute," Adir pouted.

It was amazing, really, just how much the people of Zerca, Sariphan's home planet, could do with computers. Adir, for instance, resided in this ship and/or whatever communicator Sariphan carried with him. He had all the emotions of a normal being, yet was anything but.

"I am unsure however, a blow like that could only have been caused by a fighter ship or a meteor. As we are a hell of a lot of light years from any other ships, we'll have to go for the latter. All the same, you have to go out amongst these human people. We have a fracture in the lower left portion of the ship and we need a new sharit engine. So you'll have to go find one."

"Set the camouflage and let me out."


Toby Marshall stared morosely at the open field in front of him. There were a few trees scattered about waving with the slight breeze, their leaves a deep jade against the bright blue cloudless sky, the whole field was surrounded by a dense layer of woods. The other kids in his class moved around him, talking to each other excitedly. The small teen didn't know what the big fuss was about. 'We're outside,' he thought. 'Yay.' He pushed back his straight shoulder-length blonde hair from his forehead and glanced around again with ice blue eyes. Though it was spring, he shivered slightly in his long-sleeved tee, too thin to retain any body heat.

"Check out the asswipe, guys!" Derek Saunders laughed to his friends. "Looks like he's never seen a tree before!"

"Could be," Frank Belkins shrugged. "Look how pale his skin is. Could be one of those Goths."

"Hey! Don't ever mistake him for one of us," Damien Frost growled from a small group on Toby's other side. "He's not."

Toby swallowed the sarcastic remarks that itched to jump off his tongue, sure that both groups were just waiting for a new excuse to beat the hell out of him again. Standing only 5'7", the other boys in his class towered over him and tended to use his diminutive size to their own advantage. Truth be told, he didn't really care anymore what they did to him but he'd promised his mother that he would stay out of trouble. He glared at Derek and Damien for a minute before stalking away toward the teacher.

"Okay, I want you in groups of two or three while you're out here," Ms. Swenson said. The petite brunette teacher held a clipboard in her hand ready to assign any stragglers to groups.

"Um, Ms. S?" Toby asked timidly as he drew close so that only the teacher would hear him. She looked up at him questioningly. "Can I just stick around here and not be grouped?"

Ms. Swenson's expression turned worried, so Toby was quick to add, "I just started feeling nauseous on the ride over here. I promise to stay close by."

She regarded him silently for a few seconds before nodding. "Just make sure you stay within sight of the bus, okay?"

He nodded solemnly then walked away to sit under one of the trees and sketch while she turned to address the rest of the students.


Sariphan wanted nothing more than to kick the stupid dirt beneath his feet. It figured that his ship would crash and force him to associate with these people. These humans. Forced him to explore a small portion of this world to see if they hand what he needed or if he would be stuck here for the next few months awaiting a cargo ship carrying his needed part. He ran a hand through his shoulder length blue-black hair and sighed, he had a feeling it would be the latter in this case, too. Exploring wasn't so bad. Kind of exciting really, he reasoned with himself. At least exciting until you determined the hostility level of the planet. He hoped he didn't have to wage a mini war in order to retrieve a part they probably didn't even have.

The faint sound of voices perked his ears and his cat-like eyes searched. Sseeing nothing, he immediately began walking toward the sound. He shifted to ensure that he remained unseen, allowing the beast to overtake his human form. Bones cracked and bent, joints popped and joined. No longer did the man stand, but the beast was down on all fours. The black leopard, took off in a leisurely pace, jogging toward the voices. He inhaled the scent of these people. It would do him good to see them and determine their actions, before presenting himself in the form of a man.

Eyeing a crowd of the rather noisy creatures, he leapt quickly into a nearby tree, laying low and studying them. They were not so very different from his own kind, from what he could see at least. Their eyes were whole, not like the cat-like slits that his species possessed. Instead their eyes were round and -

His attention was immediately drawn to a lone boy who broke off from the big crowd. He walked over to a woman and spoke before approaching Sariphan and making himself comfortable just below his tree. Sariphan cocked his head to the side a bit, his eyes intent upon the youth. Eyeing his long, golden hair, his pale skin and his thin body. He was beautiful, absolutely perfect. He had to see more of him. Gracefully, he jumped to another limb, being sure to remain quiet and go unnoticed. Again he rested, his eyes immediately going back to the boy. Desire shot through him like nothing he had ever felt. An urgent need to take this boy and make him his, to own him, to love him. He was forced to close his muzzle in an attempt to keep his growl in, a growl of possession, of longing. He had no idea why, but this boy had to be his.

His mate.


Toby leaned back against the tree and drew a few more lines, the squirrel in front of him coming to life on his paper. And not a moment too soon either as an approaching yell scared the poor thing back up a nearby tree.

"Aw, did I ruin your little moment, Fag Boy?" Damien laughed as he ran up to the tree Toby sat beneath, his dyed jet-black hair flopping back.

The small blonde boy grimaced but said nothing trying to keep his concentration on his drawing.

"You're no fun anymore, Tobington," Damien sighed, using the annoying nickname he'd come up with for Toby when they were ten, and friends. "What's the matter? Did mommy and daddy get you a lobotomy for Christmas or something?"

"Why don't you just leave me alone?" the small blonde asked pleadingly.

"Oh, I think you're scaring him, Dame," Keith Montgomery suddenly said, and Toby noted how eerily close he was behind him.

The smaller boy looked around him and suddenly shuddered involuntarily as he noted that he was surrounded by Damien and his friends and they didn't look, well, friendly. He swallowed and closed his sketchpad slowly.

"I think we finally have your attention," Damien smiled maliciously. He crouched down in front of Toby and leaned in a little. "We've been watching you, Tobes. Closely."

"And don't get any ideas," Mike Freeman added. "We don't swing your way."

"Yeah," Damien laughed. "Sorry if we got your hopes up." The group snickered in unison. "We just think you need a little . . . toughening up."

Toby's stomach lurched as he took in his former best friend's expression. When Damien turned his back on their friendship two years ago when they were fourteen, the rejection was bad enough. But when it became clear that he also intended to sacrifice Toby to his new friends for entertainment that had hurt almost more than anything. It was bad enough Damien left him just after his brother died. But he used that as his springboard into the popular group, making sure Toby didn't even have a moment's peace during that horrible period in his life.

His parents hadn't seemed to care either. His father began to take more business trips and stay at work late into the night. And his mother, well, the bottle seemed to be her new best friend. She was never verbally abusive or violent when she drank, but her pain and sadness were palpable. Toby hated being left alone with her. On the rare occasions when he did get to see his dad, Toby was never able to speak candidly with him. His father seemed stiff and uncomfortable with him, asking repeatedly when he was going to give up drawing already and get into sports. Though he never added it, Toby always knew he thought it, "like your brother, Billy."

Now Damien's sneer was all that filled his vision. Damien's face held no hint of remorse either. Funny. He remembered when all he had to do was look over his shoulder and Damien would be there, ready to back him up or make him laugh. 'Oh how quickly life can change,' he thought grimly.

"Really," he sighed softly, trying again to reason with his former friend. "I'm not feeling well."

"Oh, you're going to be feeling worse real soon," Mike chuckled as he smacked the sketchpad out of the boy's hands. He and Keith grabbed Toby from behind and pulled him into the woods. The small blonde boy tried to scream but Keith covered his mouth.

They walked quickly through the woods, Mike and Keith holding Toby's upper body and Freddy Fields and Glen Yunter carrying his legs. The small boy wriggled and twisted every which way he could but the four others were too strong for him. Damien led the way. They finally stopped at a small clearing with a tree in the center.

"Tie him up tight, boys," Damien ordered.

The four complied, easily gagging Toby's mouth before he could call out. When they were done Toby was sitting on the ground in front of a tree, legs stretched out before him tied at the ankles. His upper body and arms were bound tightly to the tree trunk and he couldn't move or speak. They all surveyed their handiwork and laughed.

"Okay, I'll meet you guys back there. Don't forget to get on the bus before everyone and put his jacket over the pillow so the teacher will think he's sleeping in the back."

The four nodded at Damien before heading back to the clearing. Toby began to shake as Damien turned back to face him.

"Oh, don't be scared," he sneered at the bound boy. "No one's going to bother with a little fag like you, not even the bears and wolves." He grinned at Toby as he squatted down in front of him again. "I know you miss me, Tobington. I see you looking at me when you don't think I do."

Toby knew his look became incredulous as he listened to Damien. Is that what the stupid ass thought now? That Toby LIKED him? Bile began to rise in the small blonde's throat, but he swallowed it knowing it had nowhere to go with the gag in place.

"This is just a warning to you that you need to keep your eyes and your perverted mind to yourself."

A tear fell down Toby's cheek as he struggled with his bonds.

"Don't waste your strength yet," Damien advised sinisterly. "You'll need it for later."

Toby's eyes widened in fright as he wondered what wildlife lived around the area.

"And if you survive the night," Damien went on cruelly, "I might just come pick you up tomorrow. Maybe."

Toby shook his head pleadingly. Damien knew how frightened he was of being alone in the dark, especially outside. They'd talked about it a lot when they were kids and went on camping trips with the boy scouts.

"Aw, don't worry," Damien sneered as he stood up. "No one pays any attention to you at home. Why should it be any different here?" He took a few steps back and began to take the same path back that the other boys did. "See you tomorrow . . . if you're lucky."

And with that, Damien was gone, leaving Toby crying silently to himself.