The cluster of buildings was so overgrown, one might almost have missed them.

From the air they would've been all but invisible, hidden beneath the canopies of trees that hadn't been there when this place was built. Even at ground level, a searcher of anything less than the highest caliber might have walked right past the edge of the complex, never realizing it was there. If the security camera on the easternmost building had been working, its optic would have registered nothing for the past eight decades but the slow encroachment of the vegetation on the border of what had been a neatly manicured clearing in the forest, the occasional passing of a bird, or the even more occasional furtive darting of a small ground animal. There were larger animals about, but for all that time, they had scrupulously avoided coming anywhere near this area.

So if the camera had been working, and some intelligence had been monitoring it, that intelligence might have felt a measure of surprise as, around the midpoint of another unexceptional day, a fairly large lifeform chopped its way out of the thickest jungle and into the relative openness of the former clearing. An animal, most probably a mammal: an erect biped standing roughly 5.5 feet tall and gracile; largely hairless, but with an unusually bright red coloration of its upper body with off-white below, likely for recognition signaling rather than camouflage. Its left forelimb ended in a long, shiny claw, which it had just used to chop down the vegetation barring its path. Clearly, then, a lifeform to be reckoned with, despite its relatively slight build.

That assessment would, of course, have been wrong in many of its particulars; but exactly correct in the most important one.

Order: Primates | Family: Hominidae | Genus: Homo
Homo sapiens

"Phew!" declared the young woman in the red shirt. Sheathing her machete with a triumphant twirl, she tipped back her battered pith helmet to wipe the sweat from her forehead with the back of her arm. "I'm glad we're finally through the worst of that underbrush."

Order: Carnivora | Family: Felidae | Genus: Leptailurus
Leptailurus serval

"You said it," declared a second figure, picking fragments of leaves from her tawny-gold hair as she struggled out of the bush behind her. "I am not a jungle cat."

"Sorry, Serval," said the human with a gently rueful smile. "Seems like I'm always dragging you into environments you're not built for."

"Aw, it's OK, Kaban," Serval replied, catching her around the neck in a hug. "If there's one thing I've learned from traveling with you, it's that I'm a lot more adaptable than I ever thought I could be." Grinning, she released her companion—it was too hot and sticky out here for prolonged hugging, however much she usually enjoyed that sort of thing—and went on, "Guess some of the human is rubbing off on me."

Kaban chuckled and decided not to point out that, being a Friend, Serval was largely human in the first place. Let her have her rhetorical flourish. Anyway, Kaban knew what she meant, and it pleased her.

"So!" Serval continued, looking around with hands on hips. "Is this the place? Did we find it?"

Kaban got out the old photo and assessed what she could see of the buildings through the overgrowth of creeper vines and younger trees, then nodded.

"This is it," she said, a hush of something like awe coming into her voice. "We've finally found Park Administration."

Platina Jazz
"Welcome to Japari Park"
Anime Standards Vol. 6 (2019)

I have a message from another time...

Eyrie Productions, Unlimited

Undocumented Features Future Imperfect: FRIENDS LIKE THESE (From the Chronicles of Japari Park)
Part I: The Forbidden City

by Benjamin D. Hutchins

© 2019 Eyrie Productions, Unlimited

"Woo hoo!" Serval cried, jumping for joy. "Who's got two thumbs and is half of the greatest explorer team ever to hit Japari Park? This cat right here!" Then, turning to Kaban, she asked, "Where do we start?"

Serval's always-infectious enthusiasm banished Kaban's sense of awe; smiling, she consulted the photograph again, then pointed. "That big building in the center is the main one. The Park Director's office was there, along with the Chief Ranger's. But," she added before Serval could dash off to start exploring the building, "I think we should probably start with that one there."

Serval looked, then frowned. Unlike the central building, which was a tall structure of white concrete that must have been sleek and modern once, the one Kaban was pointing to now was a low cinderblock box, lacking even windows.

"... Not gonna lie, that one doesn't look anywhere near as interesting," she said.

"I know, but according to this, it was the Facilities Control building," Kaban told her. "There might be something there we can use. Besides, it's smaller, so it stands to reason we should check it out first."

"If you say so!" Serval agreed, her disappointment already erased.

The two crossed the overgrown plaza to the Facilities building, picking their way over roots and vines. As they went, they caught occasional glimpses of the old paving stones that had once defined a network of paths between the buildings. These had been white, and inlaid with a pattern that, after Kaban had seen enough pieces of it, resolved into the familiar Japari Park emblem that appeared everywhere on the park's signage and literature. Now they were mostly gone, broken up by decades of exposure to the elements and the slow, relentless work of the plants.

They arrived at the door to the Facilities building and found it intact, a deeply weathered but still-solid-looking metal barrier. Serval bent down to peer at an object affixed to the door, a sort of hinged metal bar with a small block of greenish brass hanging from it on a loop of peeling chrome.

"What's this thing?" she wondered, batting at it. The metal squeaked and rattled as the hanging object, rusted in place for decades, swung on its loop.

Kaban considered it for a moment, taking in the way the metal bar it was hung on was attached to the door and the frame surrounding it. "Hmmm... oh! I think it's some kind of lock," she mused after a moment's reflection. "Look, see?" She rattled the door by its knob. "You can't open the door with it hanging there. There must be some way to unfasten it and take it off that metal loop." She turned, surveying the area. "Maybe there's something around I can pry it with..."

"I got this," Serval declared, and then, flexing her fingers with a sparkle of Sandstar energy, she called forth her claws and struck at the lock with a sharp cry of, "Mya!"

She had to hit it three times, but on the third blow, the corroded metal gave way and the lock dropped to the ground, freeing the door to swing slowly, noisily open on its rusty hinges.

"... Or that," Kaban said agreeably. Stepping up to the doorway, she peered beyond it, but saw nothing but blackness inside. "Pretty dark in there," she observed, a note of trepidation creeping into her voice.

Before she could go on, or Serval could reply, something inside the darkened building moved with an audible shuffling sound, then popped abruptly into the doorway, nearly colliding with Kaban. She recoiled involuntarily, jumping back two feet with a reflexive cry of,

"Please don't eat me!"

Serval, too, had adopted a defensive posture, but she recognized the shape before Kaban did and relaxed, laughing.

"Greatest explorer in the Park, still afraid of the dark," she chided Kaban cheerfully. "Look, it's just a Boss."

"Hello," said the small blue creature standing in the doorway in a familiar metallic voice. "I am Lucky Beast. I am sorry, but this area is off-limits to visitors."

Kaban recovered her poise, slightly red-faced at having lost it in the first place, and crouched down to be closer to eye level with the guide robot. "I'm not a visitor, I live here," she said. "My name is Kaban. I'm a Park Ranger from the Kyōshū Region."

"Checking. Checking," said the Lucky Beast, its eyes flickering rainbow colors. "Records downloaded from Kyōshū Region personnel system. Kaban, no last name..." It paused for several seconds, then said, "Error. Records mismatch. Reconciling... Mismatch reconciled. Kaban, no last name, Japari Park Chief Ranger."

Serval blinked, her eyes going wide, but she had the presence of mind not to object, and Kaban remained silent as the Lucky Beast continued, "Full Access authorization confirmed. My apologies, Chief Kaban. Welcome to the Administration Special Area." The robot turned its optics to Serval, regarded her silently for a moment, then turned back to Kaban with an inquisitive tilt of its body and asked, "This Friend appears to be native to the Kyōshū Region Savannah Area. Would you like me to summon a colleague to guide her back to her proper Area?"

Serval folded her arms. "Like to see you try it," she muttered indignantly, but Kaban shot her an amused glance and then told the Lucky Beast,

"No, she's with me."

"I see," the robot replied. "I must remind you that Park guidelines strongly discourage removing Friends from their natural habitats; it can be bad for their health and places them under unnecessary psychological stress. However, it is your call."

"Serval is special," Kaban explained. Serval beamed, giving the robot an emphatic, slightly smug nod, and the two girls could have sworn that, if Lucky Beasts had been physically equipped to shrug, this one would have.

"Very well," it said. "What brings you to the ASA today?"

"We're here about the Park's food supply system," said Kaban.

Ten weeks ago
Japari Library, Kyōshū Region Forest Area

"Professor? Mimi? Are you here?" Kaban called from the entrance to the Library's central hall.

Silently, the white and brown figures of the two owls appeared from among the branches of the great tree and descended, alighting before their two visitors and furling their wings with mirror-image precision.

Order: Strigiformes | Family: Strigidae | Genus: Ptilopsis
Northern white-faced owl
Ptilopsis leucotis

"Of course we are here," said the white owl, better known to the Kyōshū Region's Friends as the Professor.

Order: Strigiformes | Family: Strigidae | Genus: Bubo
Eurasian eagle owl
Bubo bubo

"Indeed, we are always here," agreed her Assistant, Mimi to her friends.

Kaban let this blatant falsehood pass, as she usually did when the Professor and Mimi were on their dignity (which was always), and asked instead, "What's up? We got your message."

"It sounded super urgent," said Serval, nodding.

"Ah. You brought Serval," the Professor observed unenthusiastically.

"She always brings Serval," Mimi pointed out.

"That is true," conceded the Professor.

"Even though she is rarely useful," Mimi added.

"Even though," the Professor agreed.

"Rude!" Serval declared, folding her arms.

Sighing inwardly, Kaban did her best to steer the conversation back on track. "Uh, the message?"

"Yes. The message," said the Professor, recalling herself to the task at hand. "We have received troubling news."

"Very troubling," Mimi put in.

"So troubling that a Lucky Beast communicated it to us directly, since their network was unable to locate you," the Professor told Kaban.

"Oh wow," Serval breathed.

With the exception of Kaban's own personal guide, Lucky, who would deign to do so if she asked him to, Lucky Beasts virtually never spoke to Friends directly. It was the most ironclad of the relatively few rules remaining in Japari Park.

"We wish you would keep Lucky with you when you go into the field," Mimi told Kaban, her flat owl affect becoming ever-so-slightly severe. "Without him, you are often annoyingly difficult to find."

"Silver Fox and Ezo Red Fox needed his help repairing the hot spring source," Kaban explained. "Since I was only going to the Savannah Area, I didn't see any harm in lending him to them."

"Fine," said the Professor. "We will not argue the point. Our business today is too urgent to waste time on such matters."

"It is most urgent," Mimi agreed. "My apologies."

The Professor delved into a pocket of her feathery overcoat and produced a small, round object wrapped in paper, which she held up for Kaban and Serval to consider.

"... A Japari Bun?" Serval said, puzzled. "OK?"

"A Japari Bun," the Professor confirmed. "Staple food source of the Park."

"Optimized for the complete nutritional needs of all Friends," Mimi added.

The Professor nodded. "The constant supply of Japari Buns provided by the Lucky Beasts frees every resident of the Park from the need to find and procure any other sustenance."

"Uh, yeah, I know that," Serval said, a little testily. "Despite what you two think, I'm not completely stupid."

"We have never considered you completely stupid," said Mimi, and before Serval could react to the utterly bemusing backhandedness of the remark, the Professor plowed on,

"The Lucky Beasts informed us three days ago that the automated system by which they produce Japari Buns will soon fail."

Mimi nodded gravely. "They have maintained it since the humans abandoned the Park, but it is now wearing out beyond their capacity to repair it."

"In three months," said the Professor, "the supply of Japari Buns will begin to run short."

"Within half a year," Mimi went on, "it will cease altogether."

Kaban's eyes went wide with dismay; before the owls spoke again, she knew what they were going to say next, and Serval's hand seizing her own told her silently that her companion did as well.

Staring straight into Kaban's blue eyes with her unnervingly immobile golden ones, the Professor intoned, "If that happens, a darker time will fall on Japari Park than it has ever known before. Even the Cerulean War—no. Even the Abandonment will pale in comparison."

Mimi took up the thread. "The predators among the Friends will face a terrible choice: return to their old ways, or starve."

"Including us."

"Indeed, even we."

"Friend will turn against Friend."

"Many will die."

"And the peaceful dream of the Park will die with them."

"We cannot allow this," the two owls said in unison.

"For we are the chiefs of this village," said the Professor.

"And we are wise," Mimi added.

The Professor closed her eyes, as if her next remark caused her physical pain to utter, and said, "But, in this instance... not wise enough." Then, opening them again, she fixed them on Kaban's once more and told her, "You must find a way to prevent this, Kaban."

"We believe you are the only Friend who can," Mimi agreed.

Kaban blinked in a combination of astonishment and dismay. "I... of course I'll do whatever I can, but... I don't even know where to start."

"We have thought of that," the Professor said.

"For we are wise," Mimi put in. She removed a piece of paper from within her coat and handed it to Kaban.

"That is a recorded image from the Ancient Time," the Professor told her.

"A 'pho-to-graph'," Mimi elaborated.

"It depicts the holiest place in Japari Park, after the Great Sandstar Mountain," said the Professor.

Her voice hushed, as if she feared the syllables she was about to speak might rouse an angry god, Mimi said, "The Forbidden City of Admin-Istra."

"It lies somewhere in the An'in Region. It was the seat of the humans' power in the Ancient Time, before the Abandonment," explained the Professor. "The abode of the High Chief Ranger and the all-powerful Park Director."

"If there is any answer to be found to our current crisis," Mimi said, "it must be there."

"Ordinarily, we would permit no Friend even to seek Admin-Istra," said the Professor, "much less enter it."

"Even what little we know about its location is proscribed knowledge," Mimi agreed.

"But now you must seek it. You must find it. And you must learn its terrible secrets," the Professor declared. Opening her wings, she lifted off and began to rise back up toward the heights of the great tree, with Mimi no more than a second behind her. "The future of the Park depends on it."

"We believe in you," said Mimi.

While Kaban was still searching for something, anything, to say, the two owls alighted on an upper branch. In the shadows of the foliage, only their eyes—shining bright, gazing unblinkingly down at Kaban and Serval—could still be seen from ground level.

"Go now," said the Professor flatly. "We have spoken."

"We have spoken," Mimi agreed, and then their eyes, too, disappeared.

Several seconds stretched before the two visitors, still standing hand-in-hand in silent shock.

"Wow," said Serval at last. "No pressure."

It took Kaban and Serval three days, with the aid of the local Lucky Beast, to clear enough rubble and debris from the Facilities building to conduct a proper search for equipment, records, or anything else that might give them a lead on a way to repair or replace the food supply. To Serval's intense frustration, all this effort yielded nothing useful. The building, it seemed, had done no more than coordinate the efforts of the individual region's power and water systems, most of which were operating independently in various contingency modes by this point anyway. It had no connection to the food supply at all.

Undaunted, at least outwardly, Kaban turned her attention to the central administration building on the fourth day. This was, at least, a more congenial environment in which to search; it was also wrecked and littered with debris, but it had been a nicer building to start with, and its ruins had a certain grandeur that the strictly utilitarian Facilities building lacked.

By the time they had worked their way up from the ground floor to the top, Serval could feel the disappointment that had washed over her in the Facilities building growing again. This place was all just offices, with dead TV screens and meaningless papers scattered around. She felt increasingly certain there wasn't going to be anything useful here either.

In an effort to keep her spirits up, she seized on a strange detail she'd been noticing and said to Kaban, "Why do you suppose everyone who worked here had a TV in their office? I mean, you've seen Ezo Red Fox using the one at the hot springs. How did they get any work done?"

Kaban shook her head. "I don't know, it's weird," she agreed. "I almost think they must have been for something else, but I can't imagine what."

The closest thing to a thrill Serval got that day was when they breached the big, important-looking office in the corner of the top floor. The door had once had metal letters attached to it, most of which were now scattered on the floor in front of it, but their outlines in the dust still spelled out Park Director. Surely such a magnificent, godlike figure must have held the greatest and most vital secrets of the park's operations in his inner sanctum...

... But no. No, all that was in here, besides the remnants of some fine carpet and the collapsed remains of a very large chair and desk (and yet another defunct TV), were a few crumbling books on zoology and business management. No mysterious artifacts. No documents revealing some contingency measure no one had thought of yet. No answers.

"OK. There's one more room on this floor," Kaban said practically. "Let's see what's in it."

If Serval had been able to make out what was written on the director's office door, the legend on the door to the last room escaped her completely. She was literate, one of the relatively few Friends who were. She could read the words marked on the door. She just had no idea what in the world they said.

"'Interstellar Communications'," she sounded out, scratching her head. "What the heck does that mean?" She turned to Kaban, intending to ask if she had any idea, but the look of astonished realization on her human friend's face told her in an instant that she did—and that it was the last thing she'd expected to find here.

"It..." Kaban paused, as if searching for words, then said, "I'll explain later. We have to stay focused on what we're doing. This..." Opening the door, she stepped into the room beyond with Serval right behind her.

The room was windowless and pitch-black, but that was no problem for Serval. The low light cast by Kaban's little battery lantern was more than enough for her to make out the long, table-like desks, the rows of dark, cracked TV screens. Another worthless dead end.

Kaban's sigh confirmed that conclusion a moment later. "It's nothing we need right now," she said. "I'll need to come back and investigate later, but first we have to make sure there is a 'later', and this place can't help us with that."

"So... now what do we do?" Serval asked, her voice trembling, as they went back out into the hall.

Kaban considered the view from the window at the end of the corridor, late-afternoon light slanting through the glass, then said decisively, "Let's see if we can get to the roof."

The stairs up to the roof were barred with another of those hanging locks, but it fared no better against Serval's claws than had the one on the Facilities building. Within a few minutes, the two were standing by the handrail at the edge of the admin building's roof. The view from up here, above the forest canopy, was amazing, and under normal circumstances they both would have marveled at it. Today, though, they stood in pensive silence, watching the shadows lengthen across the undulant vegetation, for a long while.

"Hmm," said Kaban, and Serval felt a thrill race up her spine. If she'd still had fur at the base of her neck, it would've stood up.

She knew that "hmm". It was the "hmm" that said Kaban had spotted something—something that aroused her curiosity, something that got her agile mind turning. So many times in her life, Serval had heard that sound moments before Kaban said or did something that turned the entire situation onto a whole new course.

"What?" she asked.

Kaban pointed. "You can see the coast from here. Look—there's a city."

Serval peered into the distance and saw it at once: the biggest cluster of buildings she'd ever seen in her life. In the region of her birth, there were never more than three or four buildings together at a time; in her native Savannah Area, there were virtually no buildings at all, and you never encountered more than one. Over there, she could make out dozens of them—maybe hundreds.

"Amazing," she said. "I've seen pictures of the old human cities in the Library, but I never knew there was anything like that anywhere in the Park."

"That is Renraku City," the local Lucky Beast declared, causing Serval—who had long since forgotten it was still accompanying them—to jump with a sharp yowl of surprise.

As if she hadn't reacted, the robot went on, "Named for one of the principals of the Japari Consortium, it is the largest settlement in the Park, and home to most of the permanent staff, apart from the Rangers and Guides posted to the other Regions. It also contains the Park's logistical seaport, primary medical center, and research laboratories."

Kaban gazed thoughtfully at the distant skyline for a few moments, then said slowly, "Would... that include a food lab?"

"Yes," the Lucky Beast confirmed. "The famous Japari Bun was developed at the Advanced Care and Nutrition Laboratory in Renraku City. Special park guests holding an Investor's Backstage Access Pass can tour the production pilot plant every day between 9 AM and 6 PM."

Kaban met Serval's eyes, a little glint of triumph in her own. You see? that glint asked silently. We're not licked yet.

"I want to take that tour," she said aloud. "Can you please take us to the lab tomorrow?"

"Of course," Lucky Beast replied at once. "When would you like to depart?"

"First light, if it's not too much trouble," Kaban said.

"No trouble at all, Chief Kaban," the robot assured her. "I will prepare a Japari Bus tonight. We will depart from the central courtyard in the morning. In the meantime, please wait warmly."

So saying, it turned and hopped away, heading for the stairs. In its wake, Kaban and Serval stood looking at each other for a few seconds, then lunged together in a jubilant, jumping hug.

"Nice of Boss to mention that four days ago," Serval said wryly when they'd finished.

"I sometimes forget that ordinary Lucky Beasts aren't as good at making associations as our Lucky," Kaban said ruefully. "Speaking of which, I should get the local one to send him a message before we leave tomorrow. Under the circumstances, I'm sure he'll be willing to pass an update on to the Professor."

Serval nodded. "Good idea. She must be getting worried by now."

The weather was fine, balmy with a bit of a breeze, so they pitched camp for the night right where they were, on the Admin Building roof. Conversation was minimal as they ate their carefully rationed supper, splitting a Japari Bun between them, each preoccupied with her own thoughts. By the time they'd finished with that, tidied up, and unrolled their bedroll, night had fully fallen. Above them, the clear sky was splashed and speckled with thousands of stars.

Lying on her back looking up at them, Serval abruptly said, "You were going to tell me what that last room was for."

Kaban, engrossed in writing up the day's notes in her battered leather explorer's journal by the light of her tiny battery lantern, looked up. "Hm? Oh, the Interstellar Communications room?"

Serval nodded, hitching herself up on an elbow to make eye contact; in the dark, her feline eyes caught the light of Kaban's lamp and glittered back at her. "'Interstellar' means 'between stars' right? So what does that even mean? How can dots in the sky talk to each other?"

Kaban looked puzzled, then nodded. "That's right," she said softly, almost to herself. "You'd never have had any reason to know."

Serval tilted her head. "Know what?"

"The stars."

"Of course I know the stars," said Serval, faintly indignant. "Before I met you I was nocturnal, after all. I used to see them every night."

Kaban shook her head. "No, that's not what I mean. You've never learned what they are. The stars... well. You know the sun, right?" Serval nodded, clearly wondering where this was heading. Kaban paused for a moment, searching her memory for words from one of the ancient books she'd read in the Library, then said, "The sun is a star. And the stars are other suns. So far away that they're just these tiny points of light in the sky," she said, gesturing vaguely overhead.

"Wait, really?"


Serval plopped down on her back, looking straight up at the stars for a while; then she sat fully up to meet Kaban's eyes again, her own wide and full of wonder.

"That's amazing!" she cried.

"Isn't it?" Kaban agreed, smiling broadly.

"So the stuff in that room..."

"Was used to talk to people on the planets of other suns, out there somewhere," Kaban confirmed, gesturing to the sky again.

Serval looked up again. "Wooooow. I wonder if anybody's still out there. What am I saying, look how many there are! There's gotta be somebody out there, right?"

"I think so," Kaban agreed. "I hope so. When this is all over, I want to come back here and investigate that room more closely. Maybe... maybe that's why I've never been able to find another human. Maybe they left the whole planet, not just the Park."

"Maybe the Park is the whole planet," Serval speculated.

"Maybe. That would explain a few things," said Kaban. "Anyway, it's not important right now."

"No, but after... Kaban, that's really exciting! I wonder if there are Friends on other planets, too." She yawned, stretching luxuriantly, then lay down and curled into her usual sleeping position (face-down, with her knees drawn up and her head pillowed on her folded arms). "Maybe we'll find out sometime..." she murmured, then began snoring very softly.

Kaban chuckled fondly and bent back to work on her journal.

Food Emergency Expedition, Day 74

Park Admin exploration, day 4. We searched the entire Administration Building today and found nothing of value for our present needs... but something really interesting. The Admin building has a room marked "Interstellar Communications". As expected, none of the equipment works, but the fact that it's even there is exciting. It means my theory about what this place once was is probably correct. But something happened while we were exploring it that gave me pause.

When I told Serval-chan what the room we were in had once been, she didn't understand. Although she's a nocturnal hunter and knows the stars well, she's never known what they are. She was there when I read that particular old book in the Professor's library, but she wasn't paying attention. I taught her to read ages ago, but books aren't for her. They're too dry, too static. She'd rather I read them and then tell her the good parts—which is fine!—but what was in that one never came up before.

So I explained: the stars are other suns, so far away they look like those tiny points of light from here, and the machines in that room used to let people here talk to other people on their planets. The wonder in her eyes when I told her that... like the whole universe had suddenly gotten so much bigger in her mind. I'll never get tired of that.

I love her so much.

And now I'm worried. If there are other humans still out there, and we can make contact with them, will she want to go with me to meet them? Because without her... I don't think it would be worth going.

But, first things first. We have to solve the food problem before I can do anything else. Luckily, we have a new lead on that. From the roof of this building, we saw a city down on the coast, and the local Lucky Beast says the laboratory where they created the Japari Bun is there, along with something called a "pilot plant". It's our best lead so far, and we're going to go over and check it out tomorrow.

If we find what we need there, and we can use it to fix the food problem, I'll come back here and look more closely at Interstellar Communications. None of the equipment works any more, but there might be something left that will give me a clue.

In the meantime, I have more important work to do, and I'd better get some rest.

Kaban closed her notebook, put out the lamp, and tucked both items away in her backpack, then took off her boots, stood them next to the pack, lay down on the bedroll beside Serval, and tipped her pith helmet forward over her eyes. As she did most nights, Serval snuggled up to her side, placing one leg over hers, reached across her body, and took her far hand, lacing their fingers together.

"Raaar," she murmured happily, not really awake. "Got you."

"Please don't eat me," Kaban whispered, smiling.

"Wasn't gonna," Serval mumbled, and then went fully back to sleep.

to be continued in Part II: The Lost City

John Williams
"Theme from Jurassic Park"
Jurassic Park (1993)

Eyrie Productions, Unlimited

Undocumented Features Future Imperfect
Friends Like These
From the Chronicles of Japari Park

Part I: The Forbidden City

by Benjamin D. Hutchins
with Philip Jeremy Moyer

with the gracious aid of
The EPU Usual Suspects

The Cast
(in order of appearance)
Lucky Beast
Northern White-Faced Owl
Eurasian Eagle Owl

Based on Kemono Friends created by
Yoshizaki Mine

Kaban created by

title banner made using
Kemono Friends Title Generator

E P U (colour) 2019