‘Push them away before they get close enough to know him, to hurt him.’ She reached out and carefully slid a finger under a clump of hair that was obscuring Lexx’s features. ‘How do I know this?’ The observation came from nowhere. ‘I just feel it.’

Stealth and Dash peeked through the opening from the riser to the biosphere. What they saw surprised them. Neither of them had actually expected Chel to be touching Lexx. “We should leave them alone.” Stealth whispered to Dash.

“Yes.” Dash nodded solemnly, “What do you think, Stealth?”

“Only that it would be nice if they’d get past this, and let each other know how they feel. I know it will happen on its own, but at times, I worry it will never happen.”

“Maybe it’s the wrong season?”

Stealth chuckled, turning and walking past Dash, swishing her tails in the air under Dash’s nose.

“Humans and Rishans don’t run on seasons. Things are more complicated for them.”

“I don’t get why.” Dash rolled his eyes and padded after the smaller feline. “I should convince Lexx to use some poetry. Chel likes my little rhymes. She can brush Lexx’s hair while he talks to her.”

“Dash, ” Stealth snickered, trying hard not to burst into laughter at the thought. “Sometimes you can be really naïve.”

“Hrmpth,” Dash flattened his ears, “You won’t be saying that when you’re in season.”

Stealth stopped walking abruptly, “Dash. Shut up.” Her tone changed abruptly to an angry hiss. “You’re being naïve again. It’s pointless. No kittens, no puppies, chicks or litters of any kind for any of us. We are dice. We are just game pieces. We don’t,…”

“Who says?” Dash purred. “You think you know everything, Stealth,…”

“They kill them.” Stealth’s mood had turned even further. Her ears went back and eyes narrowed to slits. She bared her fangs and twitched her tails as the fur rose along her shoulders and neck. “They are not pure dice. They are something else. It is stupid of you to even be talking like that!”

Without warning, Stealth slashed at Dash’s nose with her right paw, then darted off into the corridor. Dash snorted wrinkling his muzzle. Four small slashes were starting to ooze blood across his nose.