Lieutenant Axia sits impatiently at her desk in the main lobby of the town's Hall.
It's covered in radio and electronic equipment. She impatiently squares and then rearranges the placement of her keyboard and microphone before her.
She is shorter than the typical daxy, standing at only slightly taller than the average male rather than a full head and shoulders above.
Her pale blue scales stand out from the other much darker daxy as well.
Despite waiting for a message she jumps as the radio cracks to life.
"Cold Base, returning to base, TRS One."
Her unit got to choose its own base name and of course they had to be snarky.
Axia responds. "TRS, check, how was the mission?"
"Huntress Tassis says we have all males."
Axia smiles, relieved. "What state are the males in?"
"One male minor injury, one daxy minor injury. Mission success."
Axia wishes the pilot wouldn't be so short over the radio. "How was the male injured?"
"I just saw him get loaded in with a patched up leg. You'll have to get the details from Huntress Tassis."
Axia purses her lips for a moment in annoyance, not wanting to wait longer for information but gives up.
"Copy, waiting your return, Cold Base out."
Axia swivels in her chair and calls out to her commander.
"Commander Issaya! The squad is returning now."
A moment later a larger daxy saunters out of her improvised office behind the main counter looking hopeful.
Her armor barley hides her developing gut born from a lack of manual labor that she always delegates to underlings.
"What's the status? Got a few more males?"
"Transport says they've captured all of the holdouts that were hiding in the forest. No males lost."
Commander Issaya beams. "Fuckin' finally! This place is colder than hell."
She turns and heads towards the back of the building. "I'll tell the engineers the good news and have them start packing up now. I want to get somewhere warm."
She leaves Axia alone to fiddle with her desk again for another 40 minutes anxiously waiting to see if the males are alright until she is startled again by the front door being kicked open.
"The triumphant return" bellows Tassis to the near empty room.
She saunters in as best she can with with a bandaged leg leading a male by a claw around his neck.
So that's who the daxy casualty was.
The rest of the party herds the males in behind her.
Axia looks them over. Maybe her future mate is somewhere in the group.
She is more interested in knowing that every male is safe cared for first.
Some are walking freely. The choice ones are being cradled by the back and knees in a bridal carry by the daxy who have already claimed them.
Most of them look scared but aren't in fighting spirits.
The one with a wound to his calf looks sedated in the arms of the daxy carrying him.
Some still have a more peaceful appearance, certainly from the pheromones they were subjected to.
The one Tassis is holding on to is still in absolute bliss, his hands are on the forearm latched to his neck but instead of struggling he seems to be trying to pet Tassis' arm.
He's definitely far more affected by the pheromones than the others.
"Tassis, I need a full report of the encounter."
Tassis' mood sours. "Can't I get one minute of pride in taking their whole unit at once?"
Axia masks her frustration with curt formality. "Huntress, we've been tasked with testing a new more humane pheromone weapon that will save both human male and daxy lives. High Command will want a thorough report of its effectiveness and I want to copy while you still have it fresh in your mind."
Tassis scoffs. "Tch, fine. We captured one of their patrols and extracted the location of the camp from him. We deployed the gas mortars and it was highly effective. Is that what you want?"
Axia gives her a flat look. "You've got one male who was harmed, you're bandaged, and the male you're carrying clearly took a greater dose than the rest. Tell me the rest of the story."
Tassis groans at Axia's prodding.
She motions to the male in her custody. "Alright, this one had a gas mask on and surprised us with a gun." I hit him with a pheromone dart.
Axia is shocked. "He very well could have been affected by the pheromones already from the gas and you still used more on him with a dart!? It's irresponsible!"
Tassis' frustration is unrestrained. "Fucking pale scale priestess, what else should I do!? You want me to put a hole in his chest with a rail rifle instead? Aren't you all about protecting males!?"
Axia bristles at the insubordinate insult but leans back in her chair in resignation.
"That much exposure isn't good for them." She mutters.
Commander Issaya steps in to the room to diffuse the situation. "Girls, girls, the mission was a complete success, we're getting out of this cold hell hole. Stop fighting and start packing... Shit Tassis, what happened to your leg?
Tassis manhandles Charles by her grip around his neck, holding him before Issaya like a trophy. "This one still had some fight in him but I took care of it quick."
Axia frowns at the treatment but says nothing.
Issaya looks bemused. "Commendations for not harming a male in active combat, Huntress Tassis. Just to confirm what Axia said before; we've go every male in this region now?"
Axia clenches her jaw but keeps silent. Why can't the Commander be more considerate of males?
Tassis' triumph returns and she puffs out her chest. "Every last one, Commander."
A male pipes up from the back of the group. "Hey where's Daniel?"
The room stands in silence for a moment. All eyes are on a male being held by the shoulder by a daxy in medic uniform.
He's rubbing against her like he wants to share body warmth. His eyes are dilated. He is clearly under heavy influence from the pheromones.
Issaya breaks the silence. "...What?"
"Yeah I don't see him here where's Daniel?"
Tassis turns Charles around towards the group of males and leans down to talk directly into his ear, taking a serious tone. "Point him out for me. Right now."
Some of the daxy step out of the way for Charles' line of sight and spread out the group.
Charles looks around casually, still slow from the effects of the pheromones.
He absentmindedly pets at Tassis' arm, blissfully unaware at how tense the situation is.
"Hmmmmnope. I don't see him."
Tassis looks at Issaya with a mix of frustration and embarrassment.
Issaya has her eyes squeezed shut and she is pinching the bridge of her snout. "Un-fucking-believable. You missed one."
She drags her clawed hand down her face in frustration. "Tassis you go break the bad news to the engineers that we aren't leaving and all that packing needs undone. The rest of you get these males into holding and get back out there.
Tassis is taken aback. "Shouldn't I be going with them?"
"No, stupid. You fucked up and your leg is fucked up. Get to medical after you're done with engineering."
Tassis limps out while cursing under her breath.
Issaya sighs. "Fuck, I was so ready to get out of here."
The rest of the squad quickly start herding the males into another part of the building before any of them can catch the Commander's ire.
Axia speaks up. "Wait, Commander. I'd like to speak to the male who first saw that one is missing."
Issaya looks around for the medic before catching her. "Saxis let the Lieutenant speak to that male you've got."
Saxis stops and holds the male closer. "He's still mine right? I've got my claim to him."
Issaya grumbles. "Of course. Take him to Axia and get back to the ship. I'm sure you'll be needed if there is another fuck up."
Saxis sits James down in a chair next to Axia's desk and works to disentangle herself from his hugging. "I better not smell you on him when I get back."
Higher ups poaching males was uncommon but it still happened. She has a reason to be defensive.
Axia holds her hands up in mock surrender. "I just want to see if he knows anything about the last male out there."
The daxy loosens up a bit but doesn't let her guard down completely. "He already told us where the camp was after Tassis spiked him. He'll talk."
The daxy stares her down defensively for a moment before leaving the two alone with a huff.
Of course Tassis would leave out injecting a second male. She knows what she is doing is wrong.
Axia observes the male before she starts. He's clearly still out of it and the pheromones wont wear off for hours. As much as she hates the idea, if she can keep him focused she can take advantage of the its affects to glean whatever she can out of him about the last missing male. If he were sober he probably would not want to talk.
Axia leans forwards in her chair to come to eye level with James and takes a sweet tone, hoping it will help ply him for information. "Now sweetie, my name is Axia, would you tell me yours?
James has been staring more through Axia rather than at her. His eyes seem to focus just long enough to hear the question. "James... My name is James."
"It's nice to meet you James. You said that you couldn't find Daniel. Was that one of the males with you out in the forest?"
James' eyes wander over her alien body but he manages to answer after a moment. "Yeah we've been friends for a long time. Since school."
Axia smiles. "That's great to hear. What can you tell me about your friend Daniel?"
"Well he was always out in the woods. If I wasn't around to go camping with him he would go out alone."
"So he knows this area well?"
"Better than me, that's for sure." James seems to be losing focus and getting fidgety.
"Better than anyone else? Do you know where he might have gone?"
"What happened to the girl that I was with. I liked how she smelled."
James suddenly realizes what he said and blushes a bit.
"I mean uhh, I just kinda felt warmer when she was around, y'know? Its pretty cold in here."
Axia tries her best to soothe him. "Its normal for a male to want to be around his mate. You'll be able to see her just as soon as they bring your friend Daniel in. Let's keep talking about him."
James suddenly has a much harder time making eye contact. He seems to appreciate changing the subject back to Daniel. "He, uhh, he was a real good fisher! Knew all the good spots."
Axia muses for a moment, considering what would really be helpful to know. "Is that all the hunting he would do? How was he with a gun?"
James doesn't seem to realize that he is ratting on his own friend. "He'd do a bit of trapping as well as fishing during the summer. He didn't like carrying a gun, said it wasn't worth the weight."
Axia pushes her luck with the enfeebling effects of the pheromones. "Do you think he has a gun now?"
James stops and squints at her for a moment.
Axia pushed to far.
"...Hard to say. Can't trap this time of year. Definitely can't fish. Then again he wasn't a good shot."
Axia is not trained at all in interrogation, let alone extracting information from another species. Should she keep pressing? Should she change the subject?
She decides to play it safe.
"James, how do you feel about the Daxy?"
"James doesn't respond verbally for some time but a war of emotions plays out on his face.
"I saw what happened to New York. They said that you all would rape the men you captured and then tear our throats out. You didn't do that to us yet so maybe some of the stuff they said on the news wasn't true."
Axia takes offense to the violent imagery conjured by James but doesn't show it. "The Daxy prize our males higher than anything else. Trust me when I say that hurting a male is the last thing a daxy wants to do. Your new mate wont slave-drive you like your human females did. Every last want you could ever have will be fulfilled to the best of your mate's ability."
James looks at her critically but isn't in the mental state to mount a defense.
"No one has ripped your throat out. Your mate is going to take care of you. You won't be a slave to her. She is going to cherish you and protect you forever. It won't be like your human relationships. You won't have to work for her love. It will be truly unconditional. It's what Axilis guides us to do.
"Axilis? Your queen or something?"
"Our goddess, actually. Daxy birth ratio heavily side towards females but we are blessed by the first mother Axilis to seek out males of other species to love and care for them. I'm sure that your mate will do Axilis' will and love you. She already showed her commitment to you by not wanting to leave, but she also wants to protect Daniel from all of the dangers out in the forest.
James seems to relax somewhat knowing that whatever evil expectations he had would not come true.
"We don't want to bring any undue harm to Daniel. If we know his plans we can collect him safely and have him out of danger as soon as possible. We both want whats best for Daniel. You can help him."
James rubs his face and sighs. "He fought a lot with Charles, the guy who shot at the daxy that injected me. Charles wanted to fight you guys but Dan wanted to run. He said fighting wouldn't help anything."
Axia sighs though her nose. "Huntress Tassis doesn't follow Axilis' way. She should not have used pheromones on you like that. I'm glad to know that Daniel won't pose a threat to us though."
James sits back and resigns himself. "She told me not to move but but I went for my radio to warn everyone else. She used that stuff on me and it just felt so good! She said I could feel even better if I told her where the camp was and I was so fucked up that I actually told her!"
Axia reassures him. "Shhh, it was a good thing you did. You're out of the cold now and you're all safe. Isn't this better than being cooped up in a cold tent?
James closes his eyes and hides them behind his hands as he rubs his face. "Maybe. I don't know. I'm still so fucked up... Would you... hold me? It feels better."
"I'm sorry but that's only for your mate to do. I'm sure she will be back soon and can hold you close then."
She leans forwards and plucks a radio from the strapping on James' chest. "Was this the radio you were going to call with?"
James is too drained to stop her from taking the radio. "Yes."
She inspects it for a moment and sets it on the desk.
"I think its about time you got some rest. Let's get you to a bunk and you can sleep off the pheromones."
James nods submissively and stands. Axia takes him by the hand and leads him deeper into the building to the makeshift holding area for males.
They reach the door to the room.
"I'll let your mate know you miss her. She will come right to you as soon as she is back, alright?"
James only nods tiredly and steps into the room. Most of the other males are laid out in bunks. A few are huddled together but stopped talking when the door was opened.
Axia closes the door and returns to her station and hails the search party.
"TRS One, whats your status, Cold Base."
"We landed at the last known location but the male was not there. Currently flying a search pattern over the area. TRS One."
"Rodger, I questioned a male and determined the missing male knows the area well and does not tend to violence. Please be kind with him."
"Copy. We are losing light and will have to return tomorrow if we don't find sign of him."
"One last thing TRS. I didn't catch her name but please let James' mate know that he misses her."
"Wilco. She'll be glad to hear. TRS One out."
Axia leans back in her chair to decompress for a moment.
She has seen battle clad males fight daxy in other campaigns. She is glad that these males were so peaceful.
Pheromones should be used sparingly, but admittedly the new test weapon was a far better option than traditional combat that saw losses on both sides.
She leans forwards and uses her time to write the preliminary report on the prototype gas mortars.
"Cold Base, it's too dark out here. We're returning, TRS One."
"TRS One, no sign of the male? Cold Base."
"Unfortunately not. We'll pick up tomorrow. TRS One."
A shame, but not surprising with all the time Daniel has spent in the wilderness. Hopefully he is uninjured.
Axia closes her eyes and mutters a quick prayer to Axilis for Daniel.
James was so accepting of his new life. If only she could talk to Daniel maybe he could understand that things would better for him if he were to surrender.
Axia picks up the forgotten human radio and fiddles with it.
All of the frequencies they used are still programmed in.
She has an idea.
She inputs the frequencies into her station.
MULTI-BROADCAST SELECT <462.612> <467.587> <151.88> <148.88> <446.975>
She closes her eyes and takes a breath to steady herself before she begins.
"Daniel? Are you there?"
"Please come in Daniel."
She didn't really have a plan on what to say.
"It's cold Daniel. I just want to know you're alright."
"If you're hurt just say the word and we can rescue you soon."
Axia didn't know what to expect. She doesn't think he will respond but it's worth trying at least.
Having nothing else she starts signing a daxy lullaby.
She waits after finishing.
There is no response but she still feels an undeserved sense of accomplishment.