Note from Riley: Today’s post is the final part of our I’ve Got You Under My Skin theme. I hope you enjoy this fun post from Christina Westcott, author of Cypher.
I waited at a table in La Porte Rouge, the five star restaurant atop the tallest building in Striefbourne City, the Imperial capital. One of my contacts had set up a meeting with an anonymous source who claimed to have information about last month’s assassination attempts on our new emperor. All I know is his code name. Jumper.
The hostess headed this way, but I didn’t see anyone following her.
“Your party, Monsieur Jumper.” Her accent made the name sound exotic.
I found myself facing a large black cat, twice the size of a house cat and the thick fur made him appear even bigger. He crossed saucer sized front paws on the table top.
The word appeared in my mind, alerting me that this was a Kaphier Cat, a genetically altered intelligent, telepathic feline, one of the so called Spacer’s Cats.
“Your usual, Monsieur Jumper?” the hostess asked.
The cat’s green eyes narrowed at me. “You are paying for this, aren’t you?”
“Yes, of course. That was our deal,”
“Then, yes, Fleurette, but make it a double with extra catnip sprinkles. And a side order of cream.”
“Very good, sir,” she bowed and retreated.
“I take it you come here often, Jumper?” I asked.
“Of course, they have the best liver and creamed gravy in the entire empire.”
“Getting down to business, I’m told you have information about last month’s events concerning the emperor.”
“You mean the Cypher incident?”
“Yeah, that’s what I call it. It all started when the Boss Man went into the operating tank to have his augmentations updated…”
“Triumvir Wolfgang Amadeus Youngblood.”
“Oh, I had no idea this scandal reached so high up in the government. Then he’s a cyborg?”
“The term is augie, from augmentation. Get it? Don’t you know nothing?”
A waitress arrived with the cat’s dinner, far quicker than the service I’d received earlier for a single cup of coffee. The plate was piled high with thinly sliced meat in a thick white sauce. The fresh green herbs on top must be the catnip.
“Will that be all for now, Monsieur Jumper?”
“A few more sprinkles, if you please.”
She product a blue glass jar and shook more catnip onto his dish before excusing herself and leaving.
I waited as he attacked his meal, licking the catnip off the top with loud slurping sounds that made me cringe, certain that everyone in the restaurant stared at us. Eventually he looked up, pink tongue making short work of the gravy on his whiskers.
I tapped the end of my nose. “You have a little spot here.”
He swiped a paw across his face. “Now, where were us? Oh, yes, while the Boss Man was in the tank the bad guys slipped a program into his internal computer, turning him into a crazed assassin. I was the only one who could stop him…along with FitzWarren.”
“Colonel Kimber FitzWarren? The head of imperial security?” I squeaked.
“Yepper, that’s the Boss Lady. The assassin tried to crash that fancy soiree at Star Henge dolled up like a high priced hooker…”
“Hooker?” My mind was reeling with where this story was going.
“You know, call girl, prostitute, whore? You gotta keep up.”
The waitress returned and Jumper asked for more sprinkles. I waited for the slurping to subside and when he looked up, his pupils were dilated to pools of blackness.
“I blew his cover and then the chase was on. I led the Boss Lady through trackless jungles hot on his trail.”
“Where are there ‘trackless jungles’ in the capital city?’
“The Imperial Botanical Gardens. They count as jungles, don’t they? We narrowly escaped death when he absconded, but I followed him to his secret lair in the Warren.”
I looked away from the wide eyes, realizing a tense silence had descended on the restaurant. Two people—a man and a women—in military garb moved between the tables, headed in our direction. They stopped, one on either side, flanking the cat. Their uniforms were the black of Special Operations, now part of Imperial Security, and each bore on their collars the crossed lightning bolts to signify they were augmented. I attempted to sink lower in my chair.
“What’ve you been up to, Jumper?” the young man said. He folded his arms across his chest, but not before I could see his name tag read Pike.
The woman bore the gold and amethyst collar tabs of a full dragon colonel, identifying her more surly than any introduction.
“What has he told you?” demanded Colonel FitzWarren, her gray eyes steely.
“Nothing,” I managed to croak, my mouth suddenly desert dry.
“What ever he said, don’t believe him. He a notorious liar.”
“And a mooch,” said Pike. “Let me guess…He conned you into paying for his meal?”
I nodded. Jumper ignored the conversation and licked the rest of the cream from the elegant china saucer.
“That’s the third time this week,” said the colonel. “You should know better than to believe anything that a cat hopped up on catnip tells you.” She lifted Jumper and hoisted him over one shoulder. He began singing a slightly off key drinking song.
My tablet chimed as the bill for this little adventure popped up and I gaped at the three figure total on the bottom of the tab. I’d be living on cheese and crackers for the rest of the week to cover this. What did I get out of it? Anything I could use?
As the two augies walked out, the cat peered over the colonel’s shoulder and waved a paw at me. Had any of his story been true or was I just a convenient patsy, good for a free dinner—a free expensive dinner.
Well reader, if you want to know if it was true and what really happened during the whole sorry affair, you’ll just have to read Cypher: Book 2 of the Dragon’s Bidding. Cypher and the first book in The Dragon’s Bidding series, A Hero for the Empire are available on Amazon and are in Kindle Unlimited.
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About the Author
If you can’t tell by now, I’m a crazy cat lady along with being a writer of fun and adventurous science fiction stories. As long as I can remember, I’ve had imaginary people living in my head. Cyborgs, mercenaries, wizards, dragons and cats. After continual nagging from this bizarre cast of characters inside me, I decided to turn them loose on the world in my science fiction and fantasy stories. I’m not only a collector of books and cats, but of experiences, riding in rodeos, driving racecars and flying airplanes. All good experience for becoming a writer. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America and a professional member of Cat Writers’ Association.
I make my home in sunny Southwest Florida and delight in telling friends “up north” the local temperature in the middle of January.
Catch me at:
Web page: http://www.christinawestcottauthor.com/
Pinterest (to see what I imagine my characters look like): https://www.pinterest.com/chriswestcott33/