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There’s A Cat on Neda

Here’s an excerpt:

 

Towed by its host planet’s orbit the small companion moon, Neda, moved inescapably with the large gas giant to annual perigee around 55 Cancri A. Neda’s damp, thinly oxygenated air smells of rich fertile soil that had reached the temperature for micro flora to flourish. Dark workable soil in the mound hill’s valley, a combination of an organic meteorite’s impaction when the moon was young and the agroserveoid terraforming expedition from Sol’s third planet nine years earlier, is in bloom. Encouraged by the moist, balmy weather and the nitrogen enriched loam, flat topped acacia trees dotting the landscape are blossoming. Brilliant green tall grasses have begun to leaf out in the pampas surrounded by the mound hill and indigenous anion cabbages, influenced by the annual climatic conditions, send out exploratory tendrils to produce new shoots to suck oxygen from the nurturing medium of the dark loam.

Looking back across the valley’s greening grasses and cabbage sprouts to the clear furry form that follows her, the feline creature waited patiently for the tiny kit to reach her. Before moving on she carefully positions the kit at a jagged outcropping above the water’s edge. It is a dry place of protruding yellow limestone overlooking the crumbled shards of shell and fragments of bleached carbonate that make up the butter colored sand base of the irregular islands coast. Below the stone waves of blue-green water lap gently against the beach frothing masses of bubbles that burst against the shoreline to release newly formed oxygen from the sea.

The padding of fat that had insulated her body to prepare her for originating the kit is almost gone. Her hundred-eighty-seven pound form had diminished by more than a quarter during the long, cold winter hibernation but her power remained strong. She had mated over twenty lunar cycles ago on the far side of the archipelago with one of the last of her kind during the previous spring’s perihelion.

Even among her own breed the she trid was an exceptional traveler moving gracefully on land and swimming smoothly through water. And just as she had done for the last thirteen years she ranged far and wide across the archipelago’s loosely connected landmass feasting on other warm bloods and fresh cabbage blooms to build her bodily reserve. As apogee began the snow season, a mothering instinct returned the trid to her native territory near the fertile grass fields surrounded by the mound hill of the large island. There she initiated her annual dormant state, not far from the sea’s edge. She chose a natural limestone cave on the side of a snow covered hill above the valley. Even as she settled into hibernation she had an animal’s presentiment that this would be her only birthing.

When the snow season subsided, she gave birth to a female kit in the dark of the cave. The kit, blind and earless at birth, weighed less than a pound and fitted easily within her hand like paws. For two month, as the snow slowly melted from the land and the melt began to trickle to Neda’s sea, she carried the tiny helpless kit in her warm belly pouch only allowing it out at night to suckle.

During Neda’s thirty-six hour rotation, when darkness fell, the trid would lie on her back retracting her rapier nails into the quick of her forepaw’s to cuddle the little female. Singing in different animal voices, watching for her progeny’s multi colored fuzz to turn transparent, she rocked the kit as a human mother might rock a baby while it fed. Contented, the kit began to imprint the she trid’s abilities. It would take two full years of nurturing and training before the kit would be able to act on them alone.

But now the warm spring weather allowed the trid to release the kit during the day to follow along in her tracks.

Other mammals too, both aquatic and land based, were moving out into the open to enjoy the warmth of the elliptical orbits equinoctial point. There were fewer warm bloods on the archipelago now than in past years but the trid would soon feed well. Today she would provide the first taste of fresh meat for her offspring. In anticipation of the feeding to come the trid’s transparent fur bristled in stimulation, testing. Here on Neda, in her natural habitat, the trid was impervious to any law of the cosmos but her own. She was different from the other species on Neda in a way that made her special.

The angle of the light that signaled the equinox had brought out a small colony of seal like seamoffs. In the warm daylight these amphibious seafaring mammals gathered together on the bright sands of the shore to grunt, chatter, whistle and pair. Twice the size of a trid, male seamoffs sprouted new multicolored body scales each spring for reproductive flashing. They whistled through their long supple proboscis and thumped their webbed feet to attract females to their bodily show. Smaller than the bulls, females showing off their newly calved pups lolled about watching the renewal ritual. From time to time an unfettered female interested in a bull’s display would flash back a subtle tease from her own drab brown scales encouraging the male to move away with her from the busy colony to pair.

After carefully coaching the kit to sit and watch, the trid’s transparent fur morphed. Her visual outline slowly modified, to take on the shape of a chattering female seamoff. Twittering in the warm blooded amphibian’s high pitched vocabulary she moved down hill into the colony. Within a few moments of mimicking a female seamoff’s beguiling flashes the trid lured one eager male away from the sandy seaside. Whistling and grunting not knowing he was about to become a meal the bull followed along uphill toward the outcropping to where the kit waited.