Running Wild and Free

Posted on Fri Dec 22nd, 2017 @ 12:13am by Lieutenant Shrasha M'Graer

Mission: 101- Where No One has Gone Before
Location: Austin, Texas
Timeline: Prior to Present Mission

Humans were funny beings.

Not that Shrasha had anything against humans. For the most part, she liked most of the humans she had met. They were possibly the most interesting sentient beings in or out of the Federation, and one could easily make the argument that humans had been crucial to the formation of the Federation. And human beings definitely ran the gauntlet when it came to phenotypes, whether you were talking emotional, intellectual, name it.

Unfortunately, a lot of humans forgot that the rest of the galaxy's humanoids didn't fall into a narrow spectrum of stereotypes. Then there were those humans who treated other species as humans with some minor (or not so minor) physical differences.

Shrasha had encountered a small group of humans called 'furries,' who held a fascination with the anthropomorphization of various animals. It was a fascination that had existed even before humanity had proof positive that sentient life existed beyond Earth. So when humanity first came into contact with Caitians, there was a part of humanity that was ecstatic to have met a real life version of their fascination.

The thing was, Caitians were not merely felines with human intelligence, in the same way that humans were not merely chimpanzees with human intelligence. And Caitians were definitely not promiscuous to the extent that human 'furries' were hoping/expecting.

A point that Shrasha had had to emphasize on a few occasions.

The other misconception that some humans held, that Caitians were simply humans with tails and an aversion to water, was one that Shrasha encountered in her athletic passion, adventure racing. The more challenging the course was, the better.

Quite a few of Shrasha's competitors had been surprised the first time they had seen Shrasha run through courses with mud or water. And not merely complete the course, but win it.

Another surprise to other individuals was, based on her appearance, they weren't expecting Shrasha to be as good at Adventure Racing as she was.

Not that there was anything with how Shrasha looked. Quite the contrary. She was slender but with definite feminine curves that could easily turn someone's head. But she had the shape of a glamour model, not a top athlete.

The courses that Shrasha loved to run required physical and mental strength and endurance. Human women who ran and trained for these courses tended to have highly developed shoulders and legs, which Shrasha lacked.

The thing was, as much as they appeared similar, Caitians and Humans were still different. The same training and exertion that would cause human muscles to develop one way did not necessarily have the same effect on the Caitian muscular/skeletal system.

So strangers who would look at Shrasha with disdain at the beginning of a race would look at her with awe and confusion when she won the same race.

The Broken Skull Challenge had been no exception.

The Challenge was a series of physical challenges among eight contestants that culminated with the winner running an obstacle course that was often described as "the toughest kilometer on or off the Earth." The Challenge claimed to be more than two hundred and fifty years old, beginning its existence in California as something called a "reality show."

The other seven contestants had expected the "beauty queen" to be eliminated in the first round. Instead, she had eliminated her final competitor in the last round. It had been easy, really. Grappling of any type was not necessarily Shrasha's forte', but she had long ago learned to use her misleading appearance (to some humans, anyway) to her advantage. Plus, for some reason, her human opponents always thought they could gain an advantage by grabbing her tail, and Shrasha had learned to use that to her advantage as well.

So Shrasha found herself running the Challenge's obstacle course. And had found it as taxing as those who ran it claimed it would be. Even more so.

Seven minutes later, she found herself on her back, looking up at the sky, completely exhausted, with one thought: she had completed the course.

Once she had recovered, there were journalist to talk to. Not that the Broken Skull Challenge was a major sporting event. It wasn't the Olympics, after all. But it did enjoy a certain following, who not only watched the competitions religiously, but kept track of all the contenders and potential contenders. And Shrasha did enjoy a certain celebrity status among those who followed adventure racing in all its forms.

When the journalists had gotten their fill and began disbanding, Shrasha spotted a slender blonde in a blue Star Fleet uniform.

"Carol!" the Caitian shouted excitedly, bounding toward her friend before bringing herself to a halt just a few centimeters away. "Sorry. Almost ruined that uniform of yours. What are you doing out here?"

"I came to be amazed," Carol responded, looking at her friend in shorts and shirt, covered with sweat, dirt and mud and still looking fantastic. "Dad always said that if we still had a MACO, you'd be leading a company, kicking ass and taking names."

Shrasha ducked her head and blushed. "Only if marksmanship wasn't a requirement. You do remember how long it took me to qualify at the Academy, don't you? And then there was the incident with..."

"Fine, fine, fine," Carol interrupted with a laugh. "But I did come for something besides watching you crush that course."

"Oh?" Shrasha responded.

"Dad wants you to consider taking an assignment," Carol began. "And he's hoping I can talk you into giving up your R&D gig at the Yards."

Shrasha raised an inquiring eyebrow but listened intently, as her friend laid out exactly what her father wanted and why.