Drake arched his eyebrows. “Okay it sounds like you had a fun time one the beast coast.”
“Oh it was a beast,” Ama agreed. “Maybe even a bear.”
“Want to try some acetone?” Drake asked.
“I already did,” Ama said. “The shop had some fingernail polish remover.”
“May I be of any assistance?” Bard’s deep voice distracted them and they turned as the bear stepped out of the back of the semi.
He seemed larger than usual in the enclosed space and dim lighting and slightly rounder all over.
“You couldn’t form a proper internal support so quickly could you?” Drake hazarded.
“The system is sufficient,” Bard assured him. “But the vibrations of the engine combined with the peculiar position I was required to spend the drive in did preclude my forming a more detailed form at the present moment.”
“Fascinating,” Ama said in a dry tone. “Now if you want to be of assistance I have some pallets of paperwork that need to be moved over to that trailer.”
“Immediately,” Bard said with a happy tone.
He strolled over the the back of the trailer and lifted the tarp off of the cargo space, standing as he did so. He reached in and picked the pallet up in his forelegs.
“Do those count as arms or legs when he does that?” Drake asked with a grin.
“Well he is only using his rear legs for locomotion.” Ama said thoughtfully. “He is in his bear form but only nominally. They are forelegs on a bear no matter what the bear is doing with them and believe me I have seen them do some tricky stuff with their paws. They are the next thing to having opposable thumbs. Of course they look so unformed at the moment that they might be pseudo-pods.”
Drake kept a smile on his face as Ama went on. She was distracted from whatever she was so mad at him about, but who knew how long that would last. Bard had emptied out the trailer meanwhile and was looking around for something to do. Drake got up in the cab and Ama handed him up her laptop case.
“If you can get the last few loose boxes in the king cab of the jeep that would be great,” Ama informed him.
“Certainly,” Bard said turning to reach into the vehicle.
“Is it really a crew cab if it is a six passenger jeep?” Drake asked.
“I don’t know and I honestly don’t care” Ama said reaching to scratch her head again. “I think I left my coffee cup in the cup holder though. Give me a sec.” She turned ad walked back around the hood of the jeep.
Drake glanced over at Bard and frowned. The bear was still head and shoulder in the jeep and his outer membrane was gradually turning from blues and greens to reds and oranges. It also looked like Bard’s head had sprouted a set of long rabbit ears.
“Bard?” Drake asked nervously. “What’s going on?”
Ama glanced up from where she was rooting around between the seats and pulled her hair out of her face.
“Is something wrong Bard?” She asked.
Bard’s gaze focused on the blue scrap attached to the base of her head and he flared a brilliant red over every inch of his membrane. Bard gave a sound that might have come from a tuba snarling in rage. His arm stretched out and the paws at the end expanded and enveloped the back of Ama’s head.
“Bard?” Ama demanded. “What are you –“ Ama sudden stiffened and then screamed.
Drake’s heart leapt in his chest and he was darting around the jeep to his sister’s side. He wasn’t quite sure how he had gotten out of the truck. He reached Ama just as Bard released her. Ama’s scream cut off as she staggered into Drake but she was breathing hard.
“Oh sweet – it hurts. It hurts.” Ama gasped.
“Where?” Drake demanded.
“The thing,” Ama hissed out. “The thing in my hair.”
Drake pushed aside her thick hair and his stomach dropped when his fingers touched something warm and sticky. When he saw the bright red welling of blood he snarled and let out a string of choice words. He yanked his hat off and shoved it against the blood of blood.