PERSPECTIVE

Dragonlots aka Dana Bell

"Jack, are you watching this?"

I opened one eye and watched as Sam grabbed the remote off the comfy chair where O'Neill was sitting and changed the channel. The blaring hockey game, which the Avalanches's were loosing, snapped off, replaced by a flash report.

"Hey, I was watchin' that!" Jack objected. He tried to garb the remote away from his wife.

I closed my eye and tried to ignore them. Sam, out of kindness, had taken me in when I appeared, bedraggled and sopping wet at their doorstep. It had, after all, been raining, and I really hadn't had anything to eat for several days. Mice were difficult to catch when they had good places to hide, squirrels too smart, and rabbits larger than even I could handle.

"And why does that damn cat always have the best chair!" Jack didn't really like me. He put up with me because Sam wouldn't put me outside to fend for myself.

"Would you forget about the cat! Jack, look!"

"Oh, all right." I could tell by his tone he didn't really want to.

I pretended to be asleep for awhile longer, than went through the motions of waking up, stretching, arching my back and pausing to clean an offending spot on my face. I hopped down and jumped up on Jack's lap. I knew he wouldn't like it.

"Get down!" He pushed me off and I looked back at him offended. He leaned forward. "You sure this isn't some docu-drama thing?"

"Pretty sure." She sat on the edge of his easy chair. "I called some friends and they confirmed this is actually happening. They just didn't know the reporters had gotten a hold of it."

Curious now, I sat up straight, resting my white tipped tail on my matching paws. On the screen, reporters ran toward an old log building, shouting questions.

"Is it true?" one of them demanded. I noticed rising steam in the background.

"Do you know for certain anything is going to happen?" another asked.

The questions went on and on and I began to lose interest. There were birds around the feeders and they were much more interesting. I walked across the hardwood floor and landed on the windowsill gazing outside.

I heard the phone ring and Sam's worried voice as she answered it. "Yes, Daniel, we're watching it right now. Any word from Stargate Command?"

Temporarily my attention diverted. Stargate Command? Those were words I had been hoping to hear. Going there would solve many problems for me.

"They can't call if you're on the phone," Jack reminded her. Needlessly I saw from the look she shot at him.

"Right. Hope to see you soon." She hung up. "They can always reach on our cels."

"I turned mine off. No need to have it on since I'm retired." He made a grab for the remote. "Give me that thing. Want to see who's winning."

"Here." She handed it back to him. "Enjoy you're game. I'm going to call Cassie."

"Ah, leave the kid alone. She's probably partying with her friends."

Cassie, rather Cassandra, had left for her first year in college at CSU a few days ago. The house seemed rather empty without her bright presence. Besides, she made a point of brushing me and I always got lots of attention from her.

Sam picked up the phone and dialed. "It's busy."

"Lot's of kids in the dorm. Stop worrin'. Ah, man. Now they've interrupted the game."

"Could have told you they would."

"I hate it when you're right."

"You used to like it when I was."

"Different situation. Then our lives were on the line."

"And they aren't now? Are you watching what's going on?"

"It's a hoax. Gotta be." Jack got up. "I'm going fishin'."

Sam shook her head. "Unbelievable. The world is probably coming to an end and all he wants to do is go fishing."

I sympathized with her, but Jack was going outside. I darted out the door almost making him trip.

"Damn cat!" he yelled at me.

Outside I sniffed the air and ran around the log cabin to hide under a bush. Birds darted out and I jumped high trying to catch one. They eluded me and I watched with great interest as they hopped from branch to branch and twittered. One day, I'd catch one and present it Sam.

Finally bored, I went to see what Jack was doing. He'd pulled out a lawn chair, with a beer sitting beside him, and had his line bobbing on the water. Gingerly I walked out on the small dock. I hated getting wet.

"You leave my fish alone," Jack warned me. "And go away, you're scaring them."

Somehow I doubted that. I peered cautiously over the edge. A faint movement darted underneath and I put my paw out as if to catch it.

"Stop scaring my fish!" Jack shouted.

"Bing isn't," Sam replied. She cast a worried eye upward. "Jack, you really should come inside."

"Nothin's happened."

"Yet."

Sam's cell rang and she answered it. "The president's what?" She listened for a time and turned to her husband. "Jack, the president and the cabinet are evacuating the White House."

I watched below for more fish trying to figure out how I might catch one without having to steal it from Jack, as I had in the past.

"He is?"

"General Hammond says they're heading for the mountain and the Alpha Site."

"Glad I didn't vote for the coward."

"Jack!"

"Well, I am."

"President Howard is not a coward. He's just doing what he thinks best to preserve our country's leadership."

"Yeah, by running and hiding. Besides, what's wrong with the fallout shelter?"

"You really have no idea what's going on do you? About the consequences and how the fallout will affect," she waved her arm in the air, "everything."

All the nerves in my body tingled and I hissed. I wanted to run and find a place to hide from the approaching danger.

"Oh, no you don't." Somehow Sam sensed what I was going to do and grabbed me. I would have scratched her, but she dumped me inside the house so instead I ran into the bedroom and hid under the bed.

I could hear her moving around the house, talking on the phone. Finally she came into the bedroom and pulled suitcases out, plopping them onto the king - sized bed.

"We'll be leaving in a few minutes," she said, followed by a pause. I knew she must talking on the phone and not to Jack. "Yes, I am worried about her, but I've been reassured by General Hammond he's sent a detachment to get her." She laughed. "I know, he's going to be difficult to get out this house, but I'll manage." She stopped talking then and hurried around dumping things into those dratted suitcases. I hated it when they came out, it meant my people were leaving.

"Bing, here kitty, kitty."

Like I'd come out when she called. I was mad at her for leaving me.

A shadow leaned down blocking what little light I had. "There you are. Come on out." Sam reached in after me. I backed away deliberately staying out of reach.

"That's not the way to catch it," Jack told his wife. I heard the bedroom door close.

"Jack, don't -" Sam began.

Next thing I knew the horrible broom monster came at me and I edged against the wall.

"Come on you damn cat." The monster bumped me and I'd had enough. I ran out, but not fast enough to escape Sam.

"Gotcha."

I found myself in the small box they used to transport me to the smelly vet's office. I yowled in protest and clawed at the door.

"Why don't you just leave that cat here." I could see Jack by the door. He had the suitcases. I suddenly wondered if I was going with them since they weren't telling me goodbye and locking the doors.

"Cassie would never forgive me."

"Yeah, right," Jack snorted.

We left the house and Sam placed my container in the backseat. I moaned, not liking where I was. I hated riding in the car and not being able to move about freely.

"I know," Sam sympathized in a soft voice.

"Just ignore it. It'll quiet down."

"Jack, you know that's not true. Bing just gets louder when I ignore him."

"Should've left it behind," Jack muttered.

I protested some more and Sam spoke soft reassurances. Jack turned on the radio trying to drown me out.

"President Howard has declared a National State of Emergency and has evacuated all essential personal from Washington DC. Martial law is now in effect and General Fritz, in charge of national security, has advised everyone to stay in their homes and have at least a week's worth of food, water and other supplies on hand."

"He'll kill millions with that advice," Sam worried.

"He knows what he's doing," Jack reassured her.

"General Fritz has no concept of the scope of this disaster. How many times did we have to try and explain how much danger our planet was in to leaders who just didn't understand the magnitude of it."

"Sam…"

"Jack, this is an ELE."

"A what?"

"An Extinction Level Event. We should be evacuating everyone we can to the Alpha or Beta sites, or even Atlantis."

"Atlantis has its own problems or do I need to remind you?"

"You don't need to remind me. But the chances of our race surviving would be better if we're relocated to other planets."

"Sam, you know it wouldn't work. It'd take years to get everyone out and - "

The car suddenly shook violently. I howled loudly. I was trapped!

"Earthquake!" Sam shouted.

A blinding light seared by eyes and abruptly we were somewhere else. Strange yet familiar smells greeted my nose. I quieted, perking up, rapidly gazing around through the bars of my carrier. Could it be? Could I actually be on a space ship?

"Welcome about the Deadalus," an unknown voice greeted. "I'm Colonel Steven Caldwell."

"How'd you find us?" Jack demanded.

"I asked the same thing," another voice said - one I recognized from his many visits to the cabin.

"Daniel!" Sam sounded delighted to see her friend.

"It seems," Daniel continued. "That before we left the program they implanted a microchip in all of us. Colonel Caldwell has all the frequencies and used the ship's scanners to locate each of us and beam us aboard."

"What!" Jack roared. "You mean I have some little machine inside me telling people where I am all the time?"

"The microchips were implanted in the event of an emergency," the person who was Colonel Caldwell interjected. "Like this one. Believe me, General O'Neill, no one has been tracking you."

"I'm retired."

"Sorry, sir."

"And loose the sir. Reminds me what kids called my grandfather."

"Yes, sir. If you'll follow me, I'll show you to your quarters."

Sam picked up my carrier. I meowed, wanting out. "In a bit, Bing," she promised.

Gray walls passed until a door whooshed open. We were ushered into a small room with a functional bed and computer terminal.

"I'm next door," Daniel informed Jack and Sam.

"If you need anything, ask one of the crew," Caldwell stated as the door closed.

"Reminds me of a prison cell," Jack commented, sitting on the bed.

Sam opened the carrier and I tentatively placed a paw on the cold metal deck. It vibrated slightly, but it wasn't unpleasant. I'd sensed such vibration before when I'd first come to Earth.

I explored the small room while Sam and Jack talked about the microchips, why they were on the ship and where they might be going. I couldn't get under the bed because storage holders had been built in. The computer terminal didn't have a suitable ledge and there was one small door that lead to a tiny bathroom. There simply wasn't a suitable cat place anywhere!

"Why don't we find out where we're going?" Sam suggested.

She opened the door and almost ran into Daniel.

"Figured you'd be coming out soon." He managed to grab me and imprison me in his arms. Absently he stroked my head, and despite being angry, I allowed him the privilege.

"You know where we're going?" Jack asked.

"Atlantis." The excitement in his voice was unmistakable. "After all this time I'm finally getting to go.

"How nice for you," Jack growled.

"I was about to go to the control room and see if we can find out what's happening back on Earth."

Sam tried to grab me from Daniel, but I wiggled loose and ran a few body lengths, glancing back at them, wanting them to hurry. I wanted to explore the ship.

"If that damn cat gets lost, it'll be no big loss," Jack told his wife.

The walked past me and I followed more slowly. I kept stopping to sniff at the stale metal, catching faint whiffs of the various people who lived here. A bald man glanced at us when we entered the control room.

"General Hammond!" Jack sounded surprised.

"Hello, Jack."

"What are doing here, sir?"

"President Howard decided I should go to Atlantis and apprise Dr. Weir on what's happening. Hopefully, if any of her people are captured, news of the disaster will discourage the Wraith from wanting to find Earth."

"How bad is it?" Sam wanted to know.

"See for yourself."

I jumped up on a console so I could see better. We were still in orbit around the Earth. Below was the landmass I recognized as North America. Near where I had lived, a large billowing black cloud had covered a very large area. I twitched my tail. I might not completely understand what I was seeing, yet even I knew it was very bad.

"Reports we're getting say the eruption triggered a nine point five along the San Andrea fault and smaller quakes in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Nevada."

"How big is the blast zone?" Sam turned worried eyes to the general.

"Six hundred miles. General Landry reported Stargate command is till intact, as is the rest of Cheyenne Mountain, but he's evacuating everyone to the Alpha site except a voluntary skeleton crew."

"Where'd that cat come from?" Colonel Caldwell demanded joining us. I noticed he was bald and wondered how, without his head fur, he kept warm.

"I'm sorry, sir. I tried to leave Bing in our quarters." Sam picked me up and I permitted her to. I snuggled against her chest and began to purr. "Do we know where Cassie is?"

"I got a report just before Yellowstone blew," General Hammond said. "They'd picked her up and were headed for Colorado Springs."

"What! Cassie doesn't have a microchip?" Jack sounded sarcastic.

"No, Jack, she doesn't. My men's orders were to take her to the SGC and to the Beta site."

"Sir, " Sam squeezed me slightly and I nipped her arm in protest. " Sorry, Bing." She scratched my head in apology. "We've learned after Mount St. Helens that ash clogs car motors. Your men and Cassie might not make it." I could tell she was scared. Cassie's like a daughter to her. She took over raising the girl when Dr. Fraiser died.

"I'm aware of that. There isn't much we can do."

"We're not leaving without Cassie." Jack stalked over to the General. "I going to go look for her."

"Jack, there's no telling how far they got before ash began to fall. You'll never find her."

"I know the highways."

I tuned out the conversation and concentrated. There were a few times in the past when I'd found Cassie when no one else could - like the time she'd gotten angry with Jack and run away from the cabin. She'd been gone a long time and they'd had to call the police to try and find her. I'd found her first and lead her home. The adults never had believed that I'd rescued her.

She was a long way away. I knew my chances weren't very good at finding her, but I had to try. Down there somewhere in the swirling choking cloud, Cassie needed help. I felt my body relax as my mind traveled. Blackness surrounded me, clearing only as a deep ebony fog. I sighted the car she was in. It was stopped as were thousands of others. People staggered in the dust, many falling to the ground where they didn't move again.

Cassie was still in the car, the two men with her pointing guns at anyone who tried to force their way in. Tears ran down her face and she kept saying, "I want Sam."

I shook myself opening my yellow eyes. I wiggled so hard Sam had to put me down. Leaping to a console, I tapped at the keys hurriedly trying to bring up a map.

"What's that cat doing?" Caldwell yelled.

I nipped the hand that tried to remove me. Not hard enough to bring blood, but just enough to warn.

"Wait!" Daniel pushed through and stood behind me. "Didn't Cassie tell us that when she ran away Bing found her when none of the rest of could?"

"It's just a stupid cat, Daniel." Jack tried to get me.

Daniel put an arm out, stopping Jack before he could get to me. "Let's find out."

The map finally came up. I found Colorado and zoomed in on where I knew she was. I put my paw on the spot.

"I don't think 'just a cat' could run a computer." Daniel pointed out.

Sam walked over and looked. "Is that were Cassie is?'

I meowed back. I knew she wouldn't really understand me.

"An intelligent cat?" Jack sounded like he didn't believe it.

"We encountered a lot of unusual races, including non human ones," Daniel reminded Jack.

"Lock on to any living thing in that spot and transport them up," General Hammond ordered.

"Yes, sir!" one of the crew barked in response.

My job done, I jumped down and ran through the corridors to the spot I remembered coming onto this ship. The light blazed and Cassie stood there with her two guards. She also had her arms around three young children. They all had ash on their clothes.

"Cassie! You're safe." Sam ran and would have embraced the young woman if not for the children. "Who's this?"

"Mike, Sara, and Shelly." Cassie smiled sadly. "Their parents tried to run and both died. I managed to get to the children before - " She stopped.

Sam nodded her understanding. "Let's get all of you to the doctor and get you checked out."

Much later when Cassie and the children had been settled, I cleaned my brown striped fur while lying on Cassie's bed. She seemed more relaxed with me here. She breathed slowly, eyes closed in deep restful sleep.

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The Deadalus had jumped into hyperspace and we were headed for Atlantis. Jack kept avoiding me because I made him nervous. "An intelligent cat," he kept saying over and over. Sam gazed at me with wonder in her eyes and talked to me like she now understood I knew what she was saying. Dr. Jackson just asked me questions and sometimes, if I felt like it, I'd type out the answer on his computer.

0000000000000000000000000

It took many days for us to reach Atlantis. Colonel Caldwell and his crew tried to act like everything was normal, even though I had no doubt they each wondered what would happen to Earth. The news was shared with the Atlantis mission when we arrived. Dr. Weir and many others wanted to send messages home to family members. Caldwell and Hammond decided they'd make at least one more run before perhaps never again returning.

My own delight grew when I found another of my people living in the city. She'd been there since the original Atlantians had left. She'd only recently made her presence known, moving in with Dr. McKay. "He's lived with one of the non-intelligent cats of their world," she told me. "He understands our needs. They don't know where I came from, but it doesn't matter. I think they miss their pets."

Silver fur, for she had shared her true name with me, showed me the wonders of the city. We spent days prowling together, killing for food rodents that infested the lower levels, bathing in the sun on the high decks. During the time we traveled, the Deadalus again left and returned. We joined the meeting of the city's leaders in a room Dr. Weir had claimed for her own. Large windows looked out over the main control room. The group sat around a large table.

Colonel Caldwell seemed unwilling to share what he'd learned. "All governments and world economy has collapsed." There was a murmur around the table. I was not surprised. Our people tell stories of what happened the last time a supervolcano exploded on Earth. Very few humans survived.

"Those who didn't die in the initial explosion," Hammond continued. "Attempted to survive otherwise. Many children and older people were the first to go, followed later by others as mass starvation set in." He paused, swallowing hard. "It just wasn't the United States affected. We fed so much of the rest of the world."

He stopped, allowing the implications of his words to sink in. I understood that millions died all over the world. "An ice age has set in over the northern half of the hemisphere. Anyone who could tried to get to the equator. It's surmised that is the only area where people could survive."

"So there's no hope," Dr. Weir half-asked, half-stated.

"Installations like Cheyenne Mountain might survive, but when we tried to contact the SGC, we received no response," Caldwell put in.

"I've no doubt General Landry finally evacuated the entire complex." General Hammond seemed very sure of that.

"Gee, won't the Wraith be disappointed," Sheppard drawled.

"Yeah, so much for their rich new feeding ground," Dr. McKay agreed, nervously scratching the back of his hand.

"Am I to understand," Teyla inquired, quite beautiful in her native attire. "That your entire world has been destroyed?"

"That's pretty much what Colonel Caldwell said," John Sheppard agreed.

"So what will you do now?" Her calm gaze surveyed the table.

Dr. Weir gazed out the windows of her office. I followed where she was looking. Cassie and the three children she'd rescued played a game together, smiling, laughing, hugging each other. A slow grin spread across her face. "We follow their example," she pointed outside. "We live and enjoy life."

"And hope the Wraith don't suck us all dry," John wryly commented.

We left their meeting then, having lost all interest. They hadn't really said anything we didn't already know and understood about human nature. Silver Fur went to her human's place and I joined Cassie, lounging on the deck enjoying the sun while she played with the children. Sometimes her hand would stroke my head or back, and I would reward her with a purr.

As if a feline would do any less for his faithful human servants. Amused by my thought, I yawned and started to wash myself before I napped. The heat warmed my body and I wanted to take advantage of the vitamin-producing rays before the sunset. Even if the Wrath came and took all the humans. I'd survive.

I purred even louder, content in my new home and secure in the long life I'd have. Cassi's hand rubbed under my chin and I knew life could be no better for a Felcat. For, and with gladness I accepted the truth, Silver Fur had told me our mating had been fruitful and she was going to have kitlings. I would help raise them in our ways. No doubt the day would come when we would visit home and they would chose which worlds they wanted to be the history keepers of. That was the way of the Felcats.

But for now, I stretched to my full length and closed my eyes. Life was good. And I intended to enjoy it.

Published in OF DREAMS AND SCEMES 21 edited by Catherine Schlein, May 2006.