– Oi! Shortarse! Cap’n says we got company in just under two standard hours. You gotta put that fucking pest in the cage.
Cyn sighed and put down his welding pen that he used for small repairs. He patted the feline lying in orange and purple glory the usual four foot away from him. Although he knew Jax heard him just fine without speaking out loud he scratched behind the blue tufted ears and crooned:
– Sorry mate, you gotta go in the cubbyhole. I’ll leave the cage unlocked. I’ll come and get you when the rozzer’s been n’ gone.
Jax made its displeasure felt, but also its acquiescence, in Cyn’s mind. Although it looked more like an Earth cat than anything else, it was a rare species native to the outermost world of the Cassandra nebula. Jax sprang up onto Cyn’s shoulders almost making him overbalance.
– Hey, watch it mate! I almost face planted the floor and it ain’t none too clean.
Jax snicker-purred in his mind and Cyn set off muttering about how some critters were lucky to have no bollocks already or they might be in danger of losing them.
The shielded cubbyhole for illegal contraband was Cyn’s pride and joy. It measured twenty by twenty foot but was literally invisible to all of the rozzer’s sensors, which measured the full size of the hold even though part of it simply wasn’t visible when the dampening field was on. Cyn had designed it five years earlier but was still the worst paid crew member of the twenty on board the trading ship. The cubbyhole was half empty as Jax would fetch a king’s ransom on the black market of Lupus Prime.
The feline sprang down and curled up in the wire cage. Cyn had laid down a thick blanket on the floor and he left Cyn with its favourite biscuit snacks and water. Cyn switched on the dampening field and stomped off to the next repair job. A genius at ship engineering despite little formal training, he was a simple man at heart. He had developed an unshakable fondness for Jax who returned his loyalty with a fierce possessiveness. Together, the loneliness eased and Cyn found Jax’s presence in his mind comforting. He was aware that Jax was a manipulative little sod, having wangled staying out of its cage and near Cyn for the most part, but he didn’t mind. Jax looked out for him and the other wankers on board had stopped the bullying in the face of Jax’s lightning speed and four-inch retractable claws.
Beginning its grooming routine, Jax settled down to wait out the inspection for illegal freight. The rozzers wouldn’t find anything and it felt pride in its human’s skill. Jax’s species bonded for life and, with no others of its kind to meld its mind with, Jax had adopted the ugly but curiously gentle little man. It hadn’t taken much to persuade the downtrodden Cyn to plan an escape route for them. At the refuelling stop on New Mars, they would be sneaking off on the ship’s escape shuttle craft. Cyn had spent every spare moment upgrading its systems under the guise of maintenance, and he had installed the dampening field on it so that no sensors would pick up the shuttle leaving or follow its flight path. As a final “up yours!”, Cyn would damage the dampening field in the cubbyhole, knowing that the crew would not be able to repair it without him.
Jax felt a fleeting sense of guilt for having applied its influence to the human. But it would take care of him. With a smidgin of business sense, Cyn could sell his dampening field to contraband ships across the galaxy. They would be able to buy a one-man razor ship and Jax wanted to show Cyn the wonders of the universe. Jax’s tribe would not understand its affection for a human but space was vast and it was unlikely to cross any of their disapproving minds.
Yes, it thought with a rumbling pur in Cyn’s mind, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. In the distance, it felt Cyn smile.