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Cats In Space

By Mike Blanche. E-Mail

Captain's log, stardate 20002.376

We are on a scientific mission, exploring the galaxy, trying to boldly go where no man (or cat) has split an infinitive before.

I am Captain Si P. Siamese, captain of the Federation Fleet Starship CATPAW.

We have entered an unexplored region of space near Sirius, the "dog star." This is a forbidden area, but some invisible force took control of our ship and we were unable to stop until we arrived in this system. We are encountering strange phenomena.

Our sensors are working poorly or not at all, and I have been unable to contact Star Fleet headquarters on our sub-space communicators.

Now, an unidentified ship has materialized ahead of us. It is huge and ugly, unlike the sleek, graceful, catlike form of the CATPAW. This alien ship is ungainly, with strange, bulbous protuberances here and there, the purposes of which it is impossible to fathom.

"All engines stop, Ms. Sushi," I order.

"Lieutenant Xeno, please open a hailing channel to the alien ship."

"Aye, aye, Captain," responds Xeno.

A form fills the screen in front of me. Slowly emerging from the static, as the computers work to clear the channel, is a hideous visage.

First, a hairy face slowly becomes visible. Two triangular ears are attached near the top of the head. One ear stands erect, the other hangs down the side of the face. A bare, slimy nose protrudes from the face, above an extended mouth. In that terrible maw are long, deadly teeth. I deduce the alien is not a vegetarian.

"The alien wishes to speak to you, Captain," reports Xeno.

"Agreed," I say. "Open the audio channels."

The terrifying mouth begins to work, and the horrifying sound fills the bridge of the Starship CATPAW.

"Woof, woof, woof woof woof!"

Captain's log, stardate 20002.385

I am Captain Si P. Siamese, of the Starship CATPAW. We are confronted with a huge, ugly alien ship in a forbidden region of space where we have been taken against our will.

"Lieutenant Xeno, please turn on the translator," I ordered.

"Woof, wo..ip must heed this warning. If you do not leave the area immediately, you will be attacked."

Ah, friendly sorts.

"Lieutenant Xeno, send a message to the alien ship. Say that we seem to be having drive problems, and are unable to leave or even to move, but that we will depart the area as soon as repairs are completed."

I pressed the communication panel on my command chair.

"Engine room," I said.

"Oh, aye, Kiptin," came the reply.

I wonder where they get all these Scottish Fold cats to be the engineers on these ships?

"Scotty, how long before you have the engines ready to work again?"

"Ach, Kiptin, it'll be hours. All the whatsits are flummoxed, and the dilithium crystals were stolen for collar jewelry. You just can't trust those alley cats the recruiters are sending us these days."

This was not good news, unless you wanted to make a serial adventure out of this. Maybe in another life...

"Captain," said Lieutenant Xeno, "the alien captain insists he must speak to you immediately. I have him on the screen."

I turned to the communications screen. The horrid face had receded a little from the camera, and was now clearly atop a laterally symmetrical body. A collar with pointed metal studs surrounded the neck. A harness of some sort, perhaps ceremonial, criss-crossed the captain's chest. The captain was in a circular type of seat. His claws were not retractable, and he had a tail that wagged incessantly as he spoke. "Clearly an inferior being," I thought.

The mouth was working again, and the the movement did not match the translator's sound. A minor annoyance, but annoying none the less.

"Inferior felinoid being, may your litter boxes never be cleaned. You have only 15 minutes to vacate this sector of space before we attack you. Destroying you would give me great pleasure, so I hope you do not leave."

The screen blanked. Now what should I do?

Captain's Log, Stardate 20002.396

I am Captain Si P. Siamese of the Starship CATPAW. We are drifting helplessly in a forbidden region of space. We have been accosted by an alien ship and threatened with destruction. We have only four minutes of the time remaining given us to escape, and the engines will not be ready for hours. What can I do???

And don't you think there ought to be some new plot twists to this tired storyline? I'll see what I can muster.

I slapped my hand on the communicator panel.

"Science Officer Spot, please report to the bridge!" I commanded.

"I am already here, Captain," said Spot from the doorway of the elevator.

Someone should issue that cat hobnailed boots so he can't sneak up on me like that!

Spot is half Maine Coon and half Tonkinese. An ancestor of his on his mother's side, of the same name, once acted in a TV series as the pet of an android, the the family has been Hollywood ever since. The normal feline side of his personality is balanced with a strong bent to logic. His ears, however, are no more pointed than anyone elses's here, except Scotty, our Scottish Fold engineering officer. Of course, being a cat, he has no eyebrows, so those aren't weird, either.

"Spot, we are trapped. We can't flee, and we have only three minutes before we are attacked. What are we to do?"

"Hmmm. Captain, I may have an idea. Be prepared to deploy all shields forward at the first sign of hostility."

Spot moved to Lieutenant Xeno's post, and the two began conferring quietly, working at the keyboards.

A few moments later, the warning came: "Captain, the alien ship has fired a projectile at us!"

"All shields forward!" I cried.

We watched in horror as the projectile approached the CATPAW. It suddenly exploded, and the shock wave shook us, but no real damage was done. I checked the visual screen, and saw an ugly brown cloud floating in space between us and the alien ship. I had no desire to know what the aliens had fired at us.

"Captain, I believe we are ready," said Spot. "We are prepared to fight. Please launch a Slasher torpedo at the alien."

"Fire Slasher torpedo!" I commanded. A satisfying shudder through the ship announced its departure.

"Torpedo away!" came the reply from the console.

We all watched in rapt attention as the torpedo made its way toward the alien ship. Just as it approached the alien's shields, Spot commanded, "Execute now!"

"Executed!" came Xeno's reply.

Just as the torpedo reached the alien ship, the ship suddenly dropped its shields. The torpedo made a sudden curve, as it was designed to do, and swept rapidly across the bow of the enemy, leaving four brilliant red slashes of flame across the prow. The alien ship suddenly turned tail and fled the scene.

The alien captain appeared on our communicator screen.

"Alien felinoid captain, shame be upon us for our presumption in assaulting you. May my tail be ever between my legs. Your clearly superior ship is free to go where you wish. Our humblest apologies to you and your people. We are unworthy to clean your litter boxes. We will anxiously await your return and hope for greater enlightenment at that time. Farewell!" The screen blanked.

I turned to Spot, stunned at these events.

"Most illogical," he said. "But not unexpected."

"Spot, what on earth did you do?" I demanded.

"Lieutenant Xeno and I tapped into the alien's computers. Just before the torpedo reached his shields, we caused his sensors to perceive the CATPAW as at least three times larger than normal, and filled all his audio channels with an ear-splitting hiss and howl. This startled him into preparing to back away, leaving an opening for the Slasher to inflict some damage on him. It was obviously enough to cause him to believe we are more powerful than we are."

"Spot, you never cease to amaze me!" I exclaimed.

"Oh, and Captain, when we are ready to leave this area, please be careful to avoid that brown cloud. Our sensors indicate it is a very noxious substance, and would be very difficult to remove from the CATPAW's exterior."

"What is it, Spot?"

"My guess it is a repellent substance well known to canines. Captain, they fight with what they know well, just as we defeated them with tactics perfected by our race millions of years ago!"

Was that a small smile I saw on Spot's face? Nah, couldn't be!


Written by Mike Blanche.

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