Certain parallels between this story and Beyond the Frontier
are not completely coincidental.
Day 1 - Monday
"We were promised a free week after that mission, Sir!"
"I know that, Captain Fox. And I'm sorry for you and your team, but nobody could have expected this crisis on Texarcota. You'll leave immediately."
"But all of us have arrangements for the next days, Sir."
Walsh sighed. "You've got half an hour to cancel them all. Blame BETA if you have any trouble."
"Thank you, Sir."
28 minutes later:
"Sir. I've got a problem with my arrangements for the next five days."
"You had no permission to leave the base, Gooseman. So don't tell me that your travel agency won't refund your tickets"
"No, Sir. But Chief Engineer O'Malley is already on vacation."
"And where does that fit in?" Walsh looked warily at the ST in front of his desk.
"She looks after my cat when I'm on duty, Sir."
"Give the cat to the kennel, then."
"They won't take him."
"Why not?" Walsh's forehead creased in annoyance. "Make it short!"
"They had him the last time. I can't find someone to look after him for the next week, Sir. My team is on this mission as am I, Captain Fox's family is going on their planned vacation without him and Ms. O'Malley – as I said – is already gone. I can't leave my cat alone in my quarters for more than two days!"
"I'll make sure it gets water, food, and fresh litter every day."
"That won't do it, Sir. He can't stay alone all that long."
Walsh sighed and clapped his hands on his desk. "You win. I'll look after it till you come back. But hurry. You're already damn late."
"Thank you, Sir." Gooseman opened the door and reached around the corner. "Here he is." He set a big grey plastic container and a voluminous paper bag onto Walsh's desk. "I taped the list of what he needs on the lid."
"What–" Gooseman was already gone. Joseph snorted. At least I now get to know this ominous pet of his. He had a look at the list: "Possessor's needs." Possessor! Why the hell should he call a cat "Possessor"?
The scraping noise from inside the box did not inspire confidence.
In the evening:
He opened the container and a surprisingly small grey animal flashed out of it and under the sofa. From what I've heard about Goose's pet I thought it must be as large as a tiger! Walsh shook his head and had a second look at the list: Water bowl, dry food bowl, and the litter box... Okay, first the bowls.
Five minutes later:
I should have started with the litter box! He checked the calendar: Monday. Shit - the cleaning woman comes on Wednesdays. He spent the next hour moving the sofa and washing the carpet.
Afterwards he located the cat as a little shadow on top of his wardrobe. Somehow it seemed to have grown.
Day 2 - Tuesday
The alarm clock rang next to his ear. 4:30. Time to get up. He started to push back his sheets–
His eyes flew open in shock. Sparkling green eyes met his from a disconcerting 10 centimeters away. The cat sat on his chest, claws sunk into the sheets, and was obviously not of the opinion that it was time to get up now.
So – that's why he named it "Possessor"! He sighed and...
"Sir." As usual, Sheela awaited him with a pot of fresh-brewed coffee. "Here's your mug and the daily mail–" She broke off and stared at him. "Oh Sir. That must hurt. Did you cut yourself shaving this morning?"
Walsh made an undescribable growling sound and vanished into his office.
Day 3 - Wednesday
"Sir." Sheela's voice came from the speaker in his desk. "Your cleaning lady just called. She said she won't work for you as long as you keep free running predatory animals."
"Sheela, please post an offer for the job."
"She said she informed the union about the conditions in your house, Sir."
Day 4 - Thursday
"Sheela! Contact the supply department. I need three standard uniform jackets and shirts with my rank insignia. One set is to be delivered to my office immediately."
She looked up from refilling the printer in the bottom of her console and saw her boss standing in the door, wearing uniform trousers and boots as usual. She couldn't see more from her position under the desk.
"Right away!" Walsh snapped. "This thing's scratchy."
She jumped to her feet at his tone and saw the Norwegian pullover. "What happened this time?"
"I forgot to close and lock my wardrobe yesterday evening."
Day 5 - Friday
So – the beast is locked in the bedroom while this damn politicians' reception takes place. Walsh rubbed his hands together, put the key in the pocket of his dress uniform and took his position at the front door to welcome the rotten assh– "Dear Senator Wheiner. Nice to see you."
An hour later:
"As usual at events given by military members there aren't enough hors d'oevres at all." Wheiner snorted and shook his glass, slopping wine onto the carpet. "But I'm grateful, Walsh. I told your personnel to use the pâté in the bowl in your fridge."
Walsh coughed heavily as if he had choked. "Please excuse me. And thank you for your attentiveness, Senator."
"We can't all be sloppy military types, Walsh."
After another two seemingly endless hours:
The cat sat at the end of his bed, its tail curled around it, and awaited him with raised ears when he entered the room. He dropped himself next to the little animal and smiled weakly.
"We two have had our problems with each other, Possessor. But..." Walsh stroked a careful finger warily over the cat's back and was rewarded with a faint purring. "For this evening you get a big chicken filet." His grin deepened. "Whatever else has happened – seeing Wheiner eat your food was worth all the trouble you caused."
Then he noticed the cat puke next to his pillow.
Day 6 - Saturday
"You took too long for this mission," was the only comment Walsh gave the S5's when they had made their report and were standing in line in front of his desk. "And there's your pet, Gooseman." He pointed at the plastic box next to the door. "Don't op–" But the lid was already slid aside and a purring ball of grey fur clinched to Goose's arm.
"Why not, Sir?" An impertinent loud purring accompanied the ST's question. The cat bumped its head under his chin.
"This monster is more dangerous than–"
"Possessor, Sir?" Niko stroked the tiny creature heavily. "Dangerous? I can't believe that."
"Get it out of here. Now! – And Gooseman–"
The ST turned towards him and four glowing, deep-green eyes focused on Walsh's face. "Yes, Sir?"
"I want to talk to you later. – You're dismissed, all of you!"
He watched them leave the office and opened a comm link to Professor Negata: "Owen – please – I have to know! Have you ever tested STJ with cats?"
Some hours later:
"What did the commander say, Shane?" Niko asked.
Gooseman shrugged. "The same as the people from the kennel last time."
"Never again?" She guessed, giggling.
STJ: Super Trooper Juice