Hey, after nearly two months I'm back to this! Although you may want to reread the earlier parts so you know what's going on.
Sorry for the delay. In the interim I have committed story, but it's for another market and currently in the queue at Critters.Org.
There are somewhere between two and seven other stories in development at the Wapsi writers' private forum...
Now, to the new scene...
Soon, Dawn and her mother were the only ones awake in the house.
"Dawn, how about you? Do you need a nap too?"
"No, I do not. I have taken no painkillers so far today, and hope to not need them. This collar is doing a good job."
"But with a neck injury - do you have a collar that fits in feral?"
"Dr. Smithers gave me a second one, extra-large, but of course there was no chance to fit it properly. She suggested I visit her mother."
"I'll call her. I need your advice on a project, and in this snow I can't even get to it on my own."
An hour later, with Dawn in centaur form and her mother on her back with a bag of Dawn's clothing, they arrived at the old sawmill. They went inside, where Dawn knelt to allow her mother to dismount next to a strange assembly of new, heavy timber. The older mare lit a propane heater. "Now we both need to shift."
Dawn shifted and began dressing - the propane heater didn't do a lot unless one stood quite close to it. "Mom, are you sure? With your hip..."
"Oh, I can shift. I just can't do much while feral - barely walk, can't carry any weight, can't even stand for long. That's what this contraption is for, actually."
"I see no wheels. And if it had wheels, turning would be difficult."
"Maple and I thought to first get the structure working with an eye toward where wheels might go, then think about what sort of wheels and how to turn it. But really, what I want it for is to help me stand and bear some weight. A lot of weight."
"Well, it will hold a lot of weight. Two, maybe three tons, I would guess."
"Four tons, according to Maple. The problem is, it's very uncomfortable. And it needs to be comfortable enough to not be distracting. There are times when a girl really doesn't want any distractions."
"Huh, what - oh!" Dawn smiled as she noticed the leering grin on her mother's face. "Well, okay then! Now that I know the plan, let me see if the problems are where I think they are. This end is the front?" She studied the device a moment, then sketched a diagram of it and started taking its measurements. As well as several measurements of her mother's feral form, and where the known problems were with the older mare on the device.
"Any immediate advice?"
"Get someone who knows human and centaur form, in detail - like an artist or a physical therapist - involved sooner. Maple can handle the structure, but she does not know how to do curves in wood."
"Maple said the same thing herself. Dr. Smithers thought we really need an orthotics specialist, but she couldn't find a para-aware one anywhere close. In fact she suggested you as a substitute - she says those chairs you made for them a few years ago are very comfortable and accommodate their wings nicely."
"Well, I could make it a little better very quickly, but I would prefer to think about it for a day or two so I can make it much better. And how hard would it be to take these top pieces off - oh, they just lift off some pegs!"
"Maple thought your wood-shaping would be easier that way. That's only one of the places she tried to make it easy to adjust."
"Well, she was right. I'll take these and see if I can borrow some time at Aunt Hickory's workshop once I figure out just what to do with them."