Cats of War Excerpt #1
CATS OF WAR is a standalone novella in my Central Galactic Concordance space opera series. In the grand timeline, it takes place after the events in Jumper's Hope, but is not a part of the big damn story arc. It debuted in the limited-edition science fiction romance anthology Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3. I'm posting a few excerpts from the story. This is Cats of War, excerpt #1.
By the way, the line drawing of two cats of war is by excellent illustrator Nyssa Juneau. She does illustrations for all the pets in the Pets in Space anthologies, and for my Ice Age Shifters paranormal romance series.
The heroine in Cats of War is Ferra Barray. She rescued two creatures—superior cats—from the swamp and took them back to her room. Totally against the rules, seeing as she's in prison working off a restitution sentence, but she couldn't leave them alone in the rainy night. This is Ferra's first good look at the cats.
Cats of War, Excerpt #1
On impulse, she crouched down and held out her hands to the cats. The male ignored her hand and went straight for her knee. He rubbed his triangular-shaped face against her. She stroked his damp fur. The female cat licked her outstretched fingers.
For no reason she could name, tears threatened, and she wanted to gather the cats in her arms. She reluctantly stood and stepped back. She dimmed the lights further, then locked the door behind her.
In the lab, she put a drying mat on the shelf, then put Oran Mòr on top of it and left the cabinet open. “I’ll check you tomorrow,” she told it. If cats could be sentient, so could bots.
No emergency trouble reports meant she could close up the lab, so she returned the gravcart and walked back to her cell. Worry tried to hurry her feet, but she walked sedately, then closed and locked the door behind her, just like any other evening.
The bed looked inviting, but first, she had to look after the cats. Their presence was warm and comforting in her mind, even if she couldn’t see them. She used the wallcomp to turn up the lights and darken her only window.
The female oozed out from under the bed, followed by the male.
Now that she saw them in better light, she didn’t know what she was looking at. Wide, cat- like heads and ears, with narrower muzzles, and nose flaps. Mottled dark fur with a faint rosette pattern, and folded, bat-style wings with fine downy fur. No orange stripe on the female’s wing, so that must have been a trick of the light. Their front paws had sharp-looking claws and opposable toes. Their tails were long and ovoid.
We are cats. That was the female.
We were made for war, thought the male.
Food? asked the female.
Ferra didn’t know what to do with cats designed for war, since the Central Galactic Concordance government had kept the peace across the galaxy for the last two centuries, but she could do something about food.
Reaching up to the top shelf of her closet, she retrieved the mealpack she’d stashed there two days ago. She triggered the heater and put it on a narrow counter that served as the cell’s desk and table to warm.
She gratefully sat on the bed and pulled off her clammy shoes and tossed them onto the drying mat by the door. “Do you have names?”
The female’s tale twitched. Yes.
Ferra laughed. The cat was just like some AIs Ferra had known, unhelpfully literal and disdainful of imprecise questions. Ferra tried again, this time forming the words in her mind and projecting them to the female cat. What is your name?
My call sign is Novo Seventeen Alpha.
I am Bozlurian Four Delta, volunteered the male.
“I’ll just call you Novo and Boz, if you don’t mind.”
Read the rest in CATS OF WAR:
About Cats of War
NOTE TO READERS: Cats of War debuted in the limited edition Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology. It has been edited for clarity, but is substantially unchanged from the original. If you already have the anthology, you don't need to buy this story again, unless you like your books standalone or want to support your friendly author. For fans of the Central Galactic Concordance series, the events in Cats of War take place after Jumper’s Hope, but are not part of the ongoing big damn story arc.