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15th December
posted by amber

Planet of the Cats

We’d lifted from Taskans and were about to engage the FTL drive when Davyd noticed that the cat was missing.

“She must have gotten out at the last planet,” I said, filled with dread, knowing what he would say next.

And he said it. “We can’t go back for her. You know that.”

I began to cry. Little Nano has been such a comfort to me. Our passage between the planets on our route is brief, but FTL is subtly disturbing to me. Holding and stroking that small furry body helps. “It’s not fair. Our carelessness has cost her her life.”

Davyd ignored my unspoken accusation. The other times Nano had gotten out had been due to his carelessness, but we’d always noticed her absence in time. “Kristie, she might still be there when we get back. She is a SmartCat after all – maybe she’ll figure out how to put herself in stasis or something.”

But I felt no hope. It would be nearly 1000 years, planet-time, before we returned to see if the EarthSeeds we’d sown had born fruit.

We continued on our second pass over our route, sowing seeds on all planets where the oxygen bacteria had been successful. Six weeks later, we were back on Taskans. I was still feeling sad about Nano, and not optimistic despite Davyd’s incessant conjecture on how a SmartCat might adapt itself to the environment of a rapidly evolving planet.

During our descent, I started scanning anxiously and noticed right away that Taskans had not developed according to the expected template. There were no trees; instead tall fernlike vegetation blanketed the planet. Instead of the grazing meat animals we’d sown, the fern groves teemed with small creatures which rushed about in a moving carpet of nervous activity. And there were structures.

Muttering about terraform poaching, Davyd brought us down next to the largest structure. We braced ourselves to see one of our professional rivals emerge, even after we noticed that the doors and windows were on a much smaller scale than human.

Nano swept through a beaded crystal curtain, wearing a golden cape and jewelled crown. “You may approach and stroke me,” she said.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.

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