- You may also be looking for the young adult novel A Beautiful Friendship.
Timeframe: 1518 PD
Climbs Quickly, a young treecat scout of the Bright Water Clan, has come to one of the "two-leg" (human) settlements that have recently appeared on the surface of his world. Intrigued by the telepathically conveyed memories of the strange beings' first arrival, he wants to learn more of them. The greenhouses they build to grow plants in the middle of winter especially interest him, as they are said to hold "cluster stalk", a plant unlike any known to the 'cats, with a delicious taste.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Harrington, an eleven-year-old girl whose family has recently migrated to Sphinx from the planet Meyerdahl, has an argument with her father, who does not allow her to go out and explore the surroundings as she would like to do. Bored by the long Sphinxian winter, she is determined to find out who keeps stealing celery from greenhouses and gardens all over Sphinx.
In the middle of a nightime thunderstorm, Stephanie finally catches Climbs Quickly sneaking out of the greenhouse. The two young beings experience a moment of deep psychic connection – unknown to both of them, the first bonding between a human and a treecat has just occurred.
Back in the nesting places of his clan, Climbs Quickly is reprimanded by the Elders for letting himself be detected by the humans. Even though the criticism angers him, his mind is mostly occupied with the memory of Stephanie Harrington's mind glow. The same applies to Stephanie, who to her own surprise can find no hint to the existence of creatures such as the one she encountered in any of the planetary databanks. Seemingly to get her mind of things, she continues her hang gliding lessons. In truth, she goes looking for her newly found soulmate, as the two youngsters have discovered an inexplicable ability to feel each other's presence and direction. Realizing that she might well discover the nesting places, Climbs Quickly leads her away from them, into the wilderness.
Taking to little care of the wind, Stephanie crash lands in the picket wood. Climbs Quickly swiftly comes to her aid. He soon realizes that there is a hexapuma's nest full of young nearby, and calls his sister Sings Truly, a memory singer, for aid. She sounds the alarm, sending the scouts and hunters of Bright Water his way to safe her brother and Stephanie, whose bond deepens with every minute.
Eventually, a hexapuma arrives and attacks them. Climbs Quickly defends his human friend, mainly distracting the attacker until his sister and the others arrive, but is gravely injured. Now Stephanie in turn defends the treecat, using a vibro blade to mortally injure the hexapuma. Bleeding to death slowly, the beast still charges after her, but is overwhelmed and torn to shreds by the arriving scouts and hunters of the Bright Water Clan.
While Richard and Marjorie Harrington finally realize that their daughter is missing, the treecats discuss the consequences of recent events. Feeling the special bond between her brother and his "two-leg", Sings Truly convinces the others that the time has come to reveal their existence to the other species. Soon after, the Harringtons arrive, finding their daughter amidst a small army of "tiny hexapumas". Stephanie's father, a veterinarian, decides to take the wounded Climbs Quickly with them. The young human and the treecat settle into a legendary friendship that shall last a lifetime.
As this short story ends before he is named by Stephanie, Lionheart is never referred to by his more popular human name.
In September 2010 it was announced that A Beautiful Friendship would become the beginning of a young adult series set in the Honorverse that features Stephanie Harrington, set to be released in October of 2011. It is not yet clear what the exact connection between the short story and the novel will be, but the cover summary suggests that the novel will cover the events of the short story and what happened afterwards.
Bright Claw | Broken Tooth | Digger | Fleet Wind | Marjorie Harrington | Richard Harrington | Stephanie Harrington | Lionheart | Sapristos | Shadow Chaser | Short Tail | Sings Truly | Song Spinner | Stone Biter
aircar | bonding | Bright Water Clan | Celery | Elysian Rule | Harrington Clan | hexapuma | High Crag Clan | Hollister | Jeffries Land | lake builder | Manticore System | Meyerdahl Forestry Service | mind-glow | near-turtle | snow hunter | Sphinx Forestry Service | Sun Shadow Clan | Tannerman Ocean | treecat | Twin Forks | Yawata Crossing Times