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Like most days throughout the week, Lucien works hard as a cashier at the grocery store, he’s employed at. He not only works the register, but adjust shelves, and helps customers find items in the appropriate aisle. One of the things he is most proud of though – even if it can be a bit tedious, is the compost in the back lot behind the store.

Like most food service businesses, the grocery store he works at is committed to managing waste. Any food that can’t be donated to the less fortunate is used to create compost or sold to various companies for use as raw ingredients.

Along every city street, shopping district and residential neighborhood is vibrant landscaping – plants that favor the arid environment of Rancho Duna but with plenty of notable exceptions in local or private gardens.

This ecological approach is even more emphasized in the kind of store that Lucien works at. As the diets of therians are so diverse, stores like his are essential to providing not only nutrition but the culinary pleasures that are so sought after in Rancho Duna.

It’s this kind of culinary pleasure that draws Luke into Lucien’s store.

“It’s good to see you again, Luke” Lucien says. “Is there anything I can help you with today?”

“I’m trying to make something impressive for my cooking courses” Luke replies.

“Well, I know you’re an excellent cook” Lucien says brightly. “You should trust your instincts more.”

“Yeah. I think you’re right” Luke replies softly. “I think I’ll try some seafood this time.”

“Great choice” Lucien says. “Speaking of seafood, I wanted to ask if you’d be interested in joining me on the lake this weekend. Me and a few friends are going fishing. There’s also plenty of things to do around the lake if Hayden comes with you.”

“Let me ask her real quick” Luke replies.

Luke pulls out his specula – gazing deeply for a few moments before sending a message.

Luke: Lucien wants to go fishing this weekend at the lake. Would you like to come with?

Hayden: Definitely. Preston told me about it a little earlier. We’re planning a picnic at the park nearby.

Luke: Perfect. I’ll let him know.

“So, what did she say?” Lucien asks.

“It looks like her and Preston are already down to go.” Luke replies. “I look forward to this weekend.”

Days later, Lucien and Luke find a spot near the edge of the lake while Preston and Hayden set up a blanket and other supplies a short distance away.

Like many parks in Rancho Duna, this lake is surrounded by natural flora and fauna and is meticulously maintained by both city workers and the public citizens who enjoy it.

After a bit of setup and a little finagling, Lucien and Luke set up their fishing poles, tackle boxes and chairs and cast their lines – the both of them enjoying the idyllic view of the water.

The crisp morning air sends a chill across Lucien’s reddish vulpine fur, and in response he playfully says, “If it’s this cold to me, your scales must be pretty icy.”

“I actually brought a jacket – like a normal therian” Luke replies with a smirk while adjusting his jacket and gently tugging at the barbels around his piscine mouth.

“Here sweetie” Preston says as he approaches Lucien. “I made sure to bring your coat for you. You two have fun, okay?” Preston gives Lucien a brief kiss on the cheek and sweeps his tail across Lucien’s chair before sauntering back towards Hayden closer to the main park area.

Lucien and Luke sit and observe nature for a while – listening to the sounds of water and the songs of various birds whose names neither of them can quite place.

“We’re quite lucky, wouldn’t you say?” Lucien says softly.

“That we are” Luke replies in agreement. “Preston is quite a catch, and so is Hayden.”

“Speaking of catches” Lucien interjects. “Look at our lines.”

What begins as a bit small jumps continues as a loud whir – as both their lines are drawn out by unseen aquatic creatures on the edge of their hooks. At just the right moment – one after the other, Lucien and Luke set their hooks and begin their struggle with unseen fish.

As the pace continues, and the water is disturbed by each fish, it soon becomes apparent that both men have much larger fish than they expected. Two large catfish nearly exhaust them through their struggle and they are just barely able to bring them out of the water and unhook their gaping mouths.

“These are some of the biggest fish I’ve ever seen!” Lucien says with a heavy breath. “These two alone will easily feed all four of us.”

Both men take a moment to bask in their accomplishment. In the silence, Luke says, “Let’s keep going, Lucien. Who knows what else we’ll catch?”

“Definitely” Lucien replies.

“Those are huge fish!” Hayden says with astonishment.

“Can we join you?” Preston says.

“Of course you can” Luke replies. “Let me set up some spare poles for you both.”

As the early morning sun crests over the horizon and brings with it the beginning of midday, the two couples catch their fair share of fish – in many different sizes and varieties. They enjoy the warm afternoon sun, snacks, drinks and the friendly company of everyone around the lake before they eventually decide to leave.