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Authors: Ann Somerville

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I Was An Alien Cat Toy

BOOK: I Was An Alien Cat Toy
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I Was An Alien Cat Toy

Ann Somerville

These stories are a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or

organizations is entirely coincidental.

‘I Was An Alien Cat Toy’ Copyright © 2007 by Ann Somerville

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission,

except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

For more information please visit my website at

Smashwords Edition 1, January 2010

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you

would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to

and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Published by Ann Somerville


I was an alien cat toy


For Paul


Chapter 1


A sudden pitch by the podpod to the left and the instantaneous alarm response from the console

snapped Temin to attention, his stomach almost turning inside out from the shock. He grabbed for the

controls and fought to quell the prickle-sick of adrenaline, even as instinct guided his fingers and his responses, letting him rapidly assess the warning lights and system messages flying across the heads-up


“What the shefting crack was that?” he muttered, before realising just how bad the problem really

was. Frantically he switched to manual to try and boost power, but it was hopeless. The FTL drive was dying

—no, dead—and the sudden clarity of stars in front of his small observation window was like a slap in the

face, the silence of dead engines loud as a drum as he stared into the endless night. “And where the hell am


The HUD gave him the answer. Pexis system—a good forty light years from his home on Venshu.

What the sheft was wrong with the FTL drive? He’d never heard of one of them failing before. He ran

through the diagnostics, but communications with the FTL were down so he was getting no usable data. The

sublight engines were...sheft it! He was losing power to virtually all the systems...but where...? He sent a

chasing programme down the lines as he frantically shut everything but bare life support down. Artificial

gravity was failing, and crap, even the CO2 scrubbers were struggling. He had to get into a breathable

atmosphere and repair this or he was one dead spacer.

The alarms were more insistent now, and as the artificial gravity failed completely and his stomach

lurched in response, he rapidly scanned the HUD, willing his heart to slow down so he could shefting think.

Planet U67809 was reachable if his life support could hold on for another twenty hours, by no means assured,

but it was the only possible option. With relief he felt the sublights kick in—he had to hand it to the

engineers who demanded that the FTL and sublight systems were isolated. Unfortunately, they were the same

engineers who insisted there was no point ensuring podpods were capable of atmospheric re-entry, so his

gratitude wasn’t exactly unlimited.

Once the auto guidance programme took over, he could stop and analyse the results of his tracing

prog. It looked like a whole bank of controls had failed, which just should not happen—unless he was hit by

debris or something, but his shields had been good, and even now they were still operational. He couldn’t

think what single unit could fail so catastrophically and take out so many essential systems, but that was why

he had to land. Which was his next urgent problem. The artificial gravity failing had stopped the power leak

almost entirely. Shutting down the rest of the inessentials had slowed the drain even more. He still needed to

secure that because if he didn’t have enough power for the shields, the question of whether the sublights

would slow his landing wouldn’t come into play. He’d just be a bright light in a sky and a few mysterious

bits of litter on the ground.

He didn’t bother with the distress beacon—there were no sublight capable craft in this sector, and no

civilisations capable of building any either. The data on the planet indicated the upper atmosphere was

heavily ionised, so a signal might or might not get through. If he survived the landing, he could think about it

then. If he couldn’t repair the FTL, he might not be able to achieve escape velocity with the sublights, but

marooned and alive was still alive and he forced himself to focus on the achievable. Spending the next

twenty hours thinking up worst case scenarios would do nothing for his chances, and right now, he need to

garner all the good luck that positive thinking could possibly get him, because there wasn’t a shefting lot else

going for him.


His first thought was ‘ouch’ quickly followed by ‘huh, not dead’. He spent the next few minutes

assessing how much of him had survived the crash (apparently all, with no obvious breakages, so chalk one

up to those whacky engineers again) and how much of the podpod had survived as well. The capsule had

protected him just as designed, but the deceleration from the sublights hadn’t been quite enough to ensure a

smooth landing, and he’d blacked out from the g-forces. The forward shields had held, he was sure. That

didn’t mean he had a podpod that could take off again.

He snapped the harness catches and then opened the capsule. The viewscreen was intact and the

structure wasn’t obviously damaged. Now to see if the same could be said of him...ouch. He winced as he

climbed out, and his hips twisted. Despite the capsule padding, he’d been thrown around pretty thoroughly,

and he was lucky only to be bruised. He took a few seconds to make sure he wasn’t overlooking an injury in

the post-adrenalin come down, and then began checking his systems. The news was pretty bad—power levels

nil, the console was dead, no HUD. As things stood, he had no hope of getting shields back up, unless he

could find out what had caused the cascading power failure.

As he cracked the rear hatch, a blast of freezing air hit him in the face, so he hastily closed it again.

Shefting shit, it was cold out there, and he’d never seen so much snow. His flight suit was well insulated,

intended to give a vital few seconds’ survival in the vacuum of space, but he needed his gloves and some

kind of head covering, since he could hardly work in his EVA suit. He removed the microfibre lining of the

EVA helmet and it made a cosy, if ungainly fit. Time to tackle the freezer again.

He was in a world of white and grey, with needles in every breath. Snow blasted into his eyes if he

even turned slightly into the knife-like wind, almost penetrating the suit, and threatening to freeze-dry the

little skin he’d left exposed. He really wished the pathetic survival kit on board had included things like

gloves he could actually work in, and goggles, and, oh, he didn’t know, maybe enough food to last more than

three days. But it didn’t, so all he could do was squint against the wind, and start clearing away the snow

from the engine side. It was going to take a while. He only had his hands and an empty storage container to

use as a shovel and the podpod’s rough landing had compacted the head-high snow into stone-hard ice.

When he thought he couldn’t dig another second, he was so shefting cold, he realised he could finally

reach the panel covering the FTL controls. He did a little jig to try and get his blood circulating again in his

feet and legs, scrubbed his ice-encrusted face clear of snow, then he popped the panel lock. With any luck he


Sheft it.

Temin stared in disbelief at the blackened mess that used to be quite a sophisticated and robust

mechanism for travelling around the galaxy, and was now about as good for that as the snowflakes settling on

the charred remains.
A fire? In here?
There was nothing that could...but then he reached in and pulled out a

half-melted control box and realised this had been no accident, no quirk of fate or failure of engineering.

Someone had put a bomb on his craft. Why? If they wanted to kill him, why do it this way?

He tossed the remains of the device back into the guts of the drive and slammed the panel cover

down. So no getting home the conventional way, and since the sublights would take over a hundred years to

get him even close to Venshu, they weren’t much use either. He could set the beacon, sure—the solars in the

roof of the podpod would power it until long after he was dead—but the chances of the signal escaping the

atmosphere, and then someone actually picking it up, were so slight as to be non-existent. Effectively he was

marooned for life on a planet with no other human inhabitants.

He allowed himself a moment’s panic, another moment to feel sorry for himself, and then he kicked

himself in the pants. He was alive, uninjured, had shelter, some food, water, and weapons. If he could get the

trickle charger working from the solars, in a day he would have access to limited scans and the entire

database of knowledge held in the main Venshu depository. That would give him maps, advice, and data on

the planet. On his descent, he’d read U67809 had been a seed settlement but the colony had never been

established. No one knew why, but just because a bunch of colonists five hundred years ago disappeared

without trace, didn’t mean he couldn’t survive here. And he would.

He locked himself back inside the podpod, glad to get away from the wind and the featureless snowy

landscape. He could live in the podpod for a while, though he couldn’t cook inside it and the bathroom

facilities were definitely not going to see him through. The survival kit, which wasn’t really designed for

terrestrial activities, didn’t contain anything as useful as a tent, or even an axe, though he had a full toolkit

and a wicked-looking knife that Jeng had given him last year. He’d done an inventory during the descent and

there had been nothing of any use to him in the anonymous boxes of chemicals he’d been carrying back from

Nixal—they were still in their restraints, for all the good it did him, them and DCIR, the drug manufacturer

who’d paid for the shipment. All he had apart from the kit was the remains of the food he’d bought on Nixal

—just snacks, really—and a couple of shirts he’d bought in the markets. If he’d known he was going to be

marooned, he’d have bought something more useful, but that line of thinking wasn’t going to help him either.

He set up the beacon and the trickle charger, then he could only wait until he could connect his

handheld and download from the database. He settled into the passenger’s chair and stared gloomily out into

the slowly darkening landscape—by his reckoning, the sun would set in about half a standard hour. He’d

landed on the hemisphere just entering its cold season, which wouldn’t have been his choice but it was just

how it worked out. This planet had a twenty-six standard hour revolution, years of five hundred standard

days, ninety-two percent standard gravity. There were several large landmasses, but it was largely oceanic—

in theory, it was so similar to the ancestral Terra, it should have made an ideal colony. But like three other

groups, the initial colonisers had simply disappeared, and the policy was not to return to an unsuccessful

seeding site. There was no need, not with dozens of habitable worlds, and FTL technology making the

distances between them trivial. It had all seemed sensible to Temin when he was studying colonial history at

school. Now, looking at a world and a future devoid of human company, he kind of wished the early

governments had been a bit more persistent.

He was quite warm in the suit and the podpod, but he shivered as he looked at the snow covering the

viewscreen. Could he do this? Survive? He’d done a little camping, knew the basics of fire starting and

shelter building, but this world, this frigid territory, was nothing like he’d ever encountered before. If the

BOOK: I Was An Alien Cat Toy
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