Part 1- Qbit: Chapter 12

You Did Say That’s a Cat, Right?

{Chapter 2396 of the Book of Keepers}

Link to previous chapters-

Mr. Privet rushed to Aura’s side and knelt down. While stroking her head he reached into his pocket and pulled out a special treat composed of natural herbs known for their healing ability. It was something he had designed himself. Knowing that Griffins have a superb sense of smell, he held it next to her mouth so that she could smell it and easily grab it.

Almost as if she knew that it would help, Aura gently grabbed it from his hand and threw it to the back of her throat.

Mrs. Privet turned to Qbit. “Why don’t we head to the house? They can handle this; I’ve got something I need to talk to you about.”

Qbit looked to the professor to see if he could catch her eye. When she looked up, he motioned that the both of them were going. She nodded and gave him a quick smile. He turned to Mrs. P and said, “I’m right behind you.”

The professor turned her attention back onto Aura. She thought she sensed a tiny bit of relieve in her. She said to Mr. P, “Thank you… um, I’m assuming you’re Mr. P?”

Mr. Privet stuck out his hand and said, “Yes I am, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“For as long as I’ve known your wife, I’m surprised I’ve never met you before.”

He looked around and said, “I’m pretty much needed here twenty-four seven. Lots of things to do and lots of animals to keep healthy.”

“Well, Mr. P, thank you again.” She looked down at Aura. “I think whatever you gave her seems to have helped her relax.”

“Yes, let’s see if we can get her up to the barn.”

The professor knelt down and touched her on the shoulder.

 One last push girl then you can lie down all you want.

With a lot of effort, Aura was able stand. Mr. P. led them up a treelined, gravel driveway to a small barn. It was very nondescript building, just your typical barn that would probably have a couple of stalls and a small tac room. They went around to the side where they stopped at a door mounted to a slide rail at the top. Mr. Privet pulled out a rather large ornate key, stuck it into a large, ungainly looking lock and twisted. The professor expected the lock to be a problem because it was so rusty but instead the key turned easily and silently and sprung open with very little effort. He removed the lock and hung it on a hook mounted to the side of the barn that looked to be made for that very purpose. He slid the door open, and rows of lights automatically turned on.

The professor was surprised to see that the inside looked huge compared to the outside. Plus, the outside of the barn appeared to be rather rundown and in need of a lot of repairs, but the inside would put many a vet’s office or even professional laboratories to shame. She led Aura into the room, Mr. P followed.

 To the professor’s right a spotless, aluminum examination table reflected the image of a top-of-the-line adjustable surgical light mounted to the ceiling above it. On the opposite wall, a large glass, floor to ceiling cabinet was filled with every piece of equipment a vet could possibly need or even dream of having. There were things in there that the professor had no idea what they were.

“Mr. P, this is truly amazing. I really didn’t expect to see all this after seeing what the outside looked like!” Realizing that she had just sounded rude, she cringed and added, “Not that the outside was so bad, I mean, it’s just that it’s a lot different than in here.” She hoped she had not made things worse.

“That’s quite alright my dear, no need to worry. It’s all about the ruse. I like to keep things on the ‘down low’ as you kids say. It keeps certain unpleasant people from thinking that there is more going on here than it appears.” He motioned down a small aisleway. “Why don’t we put her into one of the stalls through there? The stall at the end has just been cleaned out.”

The professor walked through the doorway first and Aura followed. As soon as she passed through more lights flickered on. These were not as bright as the others instead they had a soft warm glow to them.

Two stalls were on the right and a third was across from them. She led Aura into the corner stall. It had a thick bedding of straw covering the floor. The professor felt Aura hesitate at the doorway.

“It’s okay girl, it’s safe.” She dropped the lead went further into the stall making a show of looking in each corner. “See, it’s perfectly okay.”

Aura made a sound like a low growl that seemed to aptly vocalize the way she felt. Perhaps it was the lure of the soft, clean bedding combined with her exhaustion that allowed herself to give in and trust her friend. Aura walked to the middle of the stall, turned in a couple of tight circles then dropped to her knees then on to her side. She immediately closed her eyes and purred.

The professor knelt down beside Aura and gently stroked the side of her head and neck. She looked up at Mr. Privet. “Well, from the looks of it, she likes it!” She continued to stroke her head. “Whatever you gave her before seems to be working. What was it?”

Mr. Privet came into the stall and knelt down next to Aura. “It was a homemade concoction of concentrated nutrients, vitamins and a sleep aid. We’ve had a lot of success with it on the other animals we have come through here.” From a pocket in his sweater, he pulled out a stethoscope. He listened to her heart and lungs. “They sound okay but, I’m still worried about her hydration level. I’d like to get some liquids into her. The best way would be through an IV. Is that something you could do while I do a quick examination?”

“Certainly. Is everything I need in the cabinets in the other room?”

He reached into another pocket and pulled out a set of keys. “It is and you’ll find the keys in the filing cabinet in the drawer marked keys.”He added with a smile. “That’s for Mrs. P’s sake, not mine, of course.”

The professor laughed out loud, got up and made her way to the cabinets. As she walked past the first stall, she heard a rustling noise.

Must be mice she thought.

She found the keys and thanks to Mr. P’s excellent labeling system, she was able to find everything she needed. She put the small stuff into a sterile aluminum tray and grabbed an I.V stand and hung the I.V bag from a hook at the top. As she passed the first stall again, there was more rustling. This time she stopped to take a closer look. Sure enough, tucked back in the corner, there was a set of glowing red eyes. She found them a little unsettling because they were way too large and far apart to be from any type of mouse she’d ever seen.

She decided to keep moving.

She went into to Aura’s stall and set the IV stand next to Aura and laid the tray in the straw. Mr. Privet asked, “Find everything okay?”

“Yes, thanks. I really admire the way you have everything arranged so neatly.”

“Now, that’s something I will take credit for.”

She chuckled.

He looked up at the IV bag. “You didn’t add any more vitamins, did you?”

“No, just electrolytes.”

“What size needle?”

“Eighteen gauge.”

“No catheter?”

“No, I don’t think we’ll need to give her anything else besides the electrolytes right now and I don’t like leaving anything attached.”

“Hm, sounds right.”

The professor removed the items from the IV kit and skillfully attached everything and got the liquids flowing. She attached the catheter. “Would you mind coming around and holding her head?”

“Certainly.” Mr. P deftly scooted around to gently hold Aura’s head.

The professor dropped to her knees next to aura’s neck, put the IV tube in her mouth, pushed the feathers aside with one hand, pinched the skin together in the form of a tent with the other then grabbed the IV needle. and said to Aura, “Okay girl, you’re going to feel a slight pinch.” She carefully inserted the needle and Aura didn’t even flinch. “Good girl.” She wrapped a gauze bandage around her neck to keep the needle in place.

Mr. P said, “The sedative I gave her before should keep her down and comfortable for a couple of hours. I don’t think there are any other issues besides her dehydration and exhaustion, but we should draw some blood and run some tests just to be sure.” He carefully plied Aura’s beak open and looked inside. “Is this one of Chad’s clones?”

The professor was surprised to hear him ask that. “Yes, it is. How did you know about them? I thought I was the only one outside of his organization who knew.”

He sat back on his legs. “We started to notice some differences in the bloodwork taken from some of the animals that we’ve had pass through here. We were able to identify the difference between the DNA in an original animal and that of the clones.”

“Wow, that’s very impressive.” She asked, “What is this place?”

Mr. P stood up. “Well, it’s sort of mine and Mrs. P’s little secret. Ever since we decided to start rescuing the animals that came from the Dome, we knew that we would need a place to keep them before we could get them back to the dome. And, of course, we would need a medical facility equipped to handle any issues the animals might have, so we built this place.”

The professor’s eyes widened. “You have more animals here? Like, right here, where we are now?”

“Yes, of course. We have some of the originals and now, some of the clones. I’ll show you around tomorrow if you’d like.”

“Boy would I! Thank you!”

“You bet. Say, why don’t we head back to the house to get something to eat, I’m starving.”

The professor picked up the IV wrapper and the cover to the needle and placed them along with the roll of gauze back into the tray then got to her feet. They both walked out into the aisle. The professor looked back into the stall to make sure she had picked up everything up then slid the door shut. As they walked past the first stall there was a thud like something had hit up against the wooden partition between the stalls.

The professor stopped and asked Mr. P. “Is there something in this empty stall? I keep hearing noises.”

Mr. P turned and said, “Ah, that’s Kaida. She’s sort of the barn cat. She keeps the rodents down. Would you like to meet her?

The professor turned to him and said, “Really? That would be neat, I love cats.”

“Let me get some treats for her, she loves treats.” He took the pan from her and disappeared around the corner.

She knelt down on one knee and put her hand out toward the stall. She rubbed her thumb and forefinger together and whispered, “Psst, psst, psst, come here kitty kitty.”

The eyes appeared again. This time they seemed lower to the ground and moving slightly side to side. The professor immediately thought that it was the same kind of movements a cat would make when it was getting ready to pounce.

She pulled her hand back quickly and stood up. Mr. Privet came back around the corner with a small plastic container full of treats.

The professor pointed into the stall. “You did say that’s a cat, right? A barn cat?”

“No, I said she’s like a barn cat not a barn cat.” He knelt down onto the floor then motioned the professor to do the same. He shook the container lightly back and forth. “Come here Kaida, come on. It’s okay.” He took a treat out of the container and threw it toward the eyes. It landed right in front of them.

The professor sucked in a breath as she watched a long snout reach out into the light and take the treat.

Mr. P threw in another treat. This one landed a little closer to them. “See, it’s okay. Come on out.”

There was a low rumbling sound as Kaida slowly moved forward. Her eyes shifted from the treats to the professor then back to the treat.

The professor recognized what the ‘barn cat’ was. “Is…Kaida… a dragon?”

Mr. P threw another treat on the ground. “Yes, she is.”

The professor was able to whisper, “How old is she?”

“She’s still a Wyrmling. That’s a girl, come on. Come say hello to Ms. the professor. He threw another treat half the distance between her and them.

She slowly moved out of the stall. This time she seemed a little more relaxed as she was able to take her eyes off the professor and concentrate solely on the treat.

The professor slowly exhaled, “She’s beautiful!”

“Let’s see if we can get her all of the way out. He took a treat out of the container and held it with his fingertips. “Easy now, Kaida, come and get it. Remember, no bite.”

Kaida moved forward another step then locked eyes with him. The professor heard in her head, “That’s a girl, nice and easy. Aren’t you a pretty girl?”

The professor didn’t hear a response from Kaida but watched as she gently took the treat.

She asked, “What breed of dragon is she?”

“She’s a mix of Kazilik and Flecha-del Fuego.”

She moved a little further out into the center of the barn. She was still too young to have her adult coloring, but the professor could see the red pigment of her underside starting to become more evident. She had some yellow forming on her face as well. All five of the horns on her head were starting their graceful arc towards her long neck. Her spinal horns were also well defined. They were visible all along her back and about halfway down her tail. Her scales were smooth and glossy, looking almost like skin.

The professor looked excited, “Ooo, a red dragon!”

Mr. P put the container on the straw and let Kaida take the rest by herself. “Yes, beautiful, isn’t she? Her mother is Cera, Kukulkan’s mate. Do you know her?”

“I don’t think so, but it sounds familiar.” She tapped her chin with her finger. “Wait, I have heard of him. I don’t know him, but Qbit mentioned that he was taken by Chad. Am I right?”

The professor watched as Kaida moved completely out of the stall. Her eyes were a bright red, and the professor was immediately overcome with a feeling that Kaida was full of confidence, yet her young age and her inexperience didn’t allow her too fully except it. Her lower jaw had a slight upward curve making it look as if she was smiling. She remembered reading somewhere that Flecha-del-Fuegos had a good sense of humor. Seeing her up close, she wasn’t so sure she would want to be on the wrong side of what she considered funny. She watched as Kaida started to rub her head against Mr. P’s legs and arms. She had an idea.

“She seems pretty relaxed; do you mind if I try to connect?”

“No, go right ahead. I don’t know if you’ll get a verbal response though. She’s still pretty young yet.”

The professor looked at her and asked, Hello Kaida, can you hear me?

Kaida’s head snapped toward her, and she became still.

Mr. P smiled and said, “I think you have her attention.” 

Without moving a muscle, the professor continued the connection. Kaida moved forward, her snout inches from her face. Suddenly, slowly at first, she started to get an answer back. It was weak, but there… Was it a question? No… puzzlement. That’s it, Kaida was unsure and curious. Not afraid. No anger. Just a youngster’s curiosity. Then, it was gone. Kaida pulled her head back and refocused on the Mr. P.

He stroked the top of her snout and said, “From the look on your face I’d say you got something in return.”

The professor smiled wide, and tears came to her eyes. It was always the same after a first contact. A flood of emotion. She never forgot how lucky she was to have this ability.

“That good huh?”

She wiped her eyes with her sleeves. “Yep, that good.”

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