The Cat's Out of the Bag
"So you sure we're actually ready for a field test? I mean, I'm still having nightmares about that cat."
Nick Kandinsky, Operative for the Confederation and now guinea pig for the same pan-galactic government, raised an ear. Not in an attempt to demonstrate that he'd refused gene therapy to have a genetic throwback to mankind's ancestors removed, but because he wanted to hear better. There was money to be made in this experiment, but given that all that could go wrong from applying the concept of FTL travel to personal teleportation, he'd only be able to collect on it if he survived, unless by some miracle he could be cloned afterwards. And since a certain feline hadn't survived apparently,
Apparently? Don't make assumptions, Nick. You know better than that.
"Um, guys?" the Operative asked to the two scientists in the room with him, both of them engrossed in their work. "What cat?"
Neither of the aliens spared him an eyebrow-the Wendigo ignored him (apparently civilizing those savages hadn't taught them manners) and the Seer didn't possess any. Still, with the psyker giving him a glance as he glided over to one of the consoles in the room, he was willing to bet that his mind was under scrutiny.
"Don't worry about it, my friend," murmured the telepath, his fingers drifting over the keyboard. "We've made major strides since the last incident, not to mention-…"
"Yeah, I bet you have," Nick interrupted, wondering whether to step off the farcasting pad right here, right now. "However, it's the incident itself I'm interested in rather than-…"
The Operative blinked. He didn't speak whatever language the Wendigo spoke, but even without a translator, he could still understand what it said-"mind your own business." And while he wasn't inclined to agree with the savage, the Seer was. And drifting over, he continued what the ice man had started.
"Now then, these are for you," said the mind reader, handing the human some body armor, a standard issue rifle and the ammunition to go with it. "We're setting you down on Caspian and-…"
"So why do I need them?" the Operative interrupted, though fitting the armor on nonetheless, instinct remaining despite being cloned at least once. "Caspian's a Confed planet isn't it?"
The Seer sighed, his hairless head prickling despite the lack of it. "Mr. Kandinsky, as you know, Caspian is filled with lawless areas and if you miss the target site by a few miles-…"
"A few miles!?"
"…then you may need protection. And gods forbid that you miss the planet altogether or land on Osiris…well…"
The Seer trailed off and despite his unease for himself right now, Nick found himself sharing the Seer's own concerns. The egghead probably knew more about the Sword of Shadoon then he did, given the damage the renegade cult had done to their race's place in the Confederation's good graces, but from what he'd heard, dying from vacuum exposure was a much better way to go than falling into the hands of religious zealots, situated on Caspian's moon.
Is that what happened to the cat then? The Operative wondered. Or did it-…
"For goodness sake, stop worrying about the bloody cat."
Apparently the Seer thought that telepathy would calm the human's anxiety. If anything however, it had made it worse. And as he arrived back at the console to sit aside his hairy friend, asking if the Operative had any questions before being teleported from the Tejas to the planet below, Nick only had one question.
"Yeah, I'd still like to know about the cat."
The Seer sighed, realizing that the Operative wouldn't let the matter go. Turning to the Wendigo, he said something that Nick truly wasn't expecting.
"Boris, show him what happened."
Nick raised an eyebrow. Boris? What kind of name is that for a Wendigo? Come to think of it, why does it even have a name in the Holy Shit!
There wasn't really anything "holy" about the situation but there was certainly a lot of proverbial excretement. Or maybe that was literal excretement. Because given the bones that the Wendigo pulled out of the bin beside him, bones that had clearly been gnawed on, someone must have taken a mighty dump afterwards.
"This is all that remains of the cat," said the Seer formerly. "A cat that refused to stay still on the farcasting pad and pissed off Boris here enough to use it for his lunch instead of the rations we usually get. So either shut up and get ready to teleport or you'll…well, use whatever passes for human imagination."
Nick briefly did…and then quickly returned to the real world. Imagination was overrated, especially when it involved him on a skewer with an apple in his mouth.
"Right then," asked the Seer. "Ready to farcast?"
Suddenly teleportation didn't seem so bad.
Update (08/02/2016): Per review comments, I should probably establish that I did indeed take inspiration from the "what cat?" scene in Half-Life 2 when writing this.