KITTY KITTY - The future that never was

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Summary

"KITTY KITTY - The future that never was" is an adult science-fiction book series borrowing from different sub-genres such as space opera, space western, cassette futurism and cyberpunk. KITTY KITTY has a unique and deeply retro universe. Because, in this uchronia, the Soviets planted the Red Flag on the Moon in 1949. Since then, mankind has relentlessly pushed its colonies to the ends of the solar system. It devotes all its scientific and industrial resources to it. This means that, during the events of "KITTY KITTY - The future that never was", its cultural codes seem frozen in some alternative 1980s. Floppy disks are kings and David Hasselhoff is the ultimate galactic superstar; Robots do all the work and the packs of cigarettes are cheaper than ever! Yet, life is hard. As humanity is expanding trough the Kuiper Belt and the New Worlds, the overly consumerist society is slowly collapsing because of the never-ending corpo-wars and the blatant technocratic corruption. "KITTY KITTY - The future that was never was" contains 24 episodes. I will upload the first 8, one by one, every Wednesday from January to Mars 2021. Want to learn more? Check my website! Authors : Quentin Raffoux & Aliénor Rossi

Genre:
Scifi / Action
Author:
Quentin & Aliénor
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
1
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

#1 RETRO COSMOS

No one knew what the nutrigel was made from. The official version advocated a mixture based on tholins harvested from the Outer System and gelled deposits from protein farms. A more fanciful explanation suggested the involvement of cockroach juice or recycled seniors for the common good.

Shaping food from this compote was an art. A craft so difficult to master that most stellar canteens offered the radiation-free nutrigel and its derivatives directly in raw form; usually an emerald colored gum cobble with an indeterminate taste and consistency that couldn’t be placed on any chart.

That said, the chefs of the lost stations on the space highway, stretching from Earth to Saturn, discovered how to make dishes worthy of the name. Sushi, burgers and tartiflettes; everything was imaginable with the nutrigel, because it could be shaped as desired. Thanks to a few spices and black-market condiments, it was even possible to recover the flavors of yesteryear; when humans were cramming into the Blue Planet.

It was nevertheless with deep sadness that I revel in such refined dishes as that day, a multi-cheese pineapple pizza. Because, alas, my cat’s stomach couldn’t allow me to eat them in their entirety.

“What an injustice! What a misery! What a suffering!”

My last slice laid before me, immaculate; within paws’ reach and yet so far away.

“Are you monologuing alone in your head again, Lee?”

Apparently, I had let the conclusion of my lament slip away.

But what could Ali understand about it? Now, she was gluttonously eating enough to feed a supercargo crew and their lot lizards. Crumbs were covering her black jumpsuit and she had hot sauce all the way up to her blond hair that was falling over her shoulders.

This girl’s stomach appeared to be a bottomless wormhole. I, meanwhile, was overcome by a few counterfeit pieces of tropical fruit on a slice of fake bread despite a real appetite.

“My life is nothing but pain,” I concluded, rolling over the greasy dinner table, only to rehash my sad failure.

I was morose. The imperial roundness of my overfilled belly reflecting through the empty Coke glass was nevertheless more to blame than my usual existential depression. I always had the blues when I had eaten too much.

My partner finally took pity on me. Or was I decidedly too cute to leave her indifferent? She washed her hands with a wipe that smelled like gasoline and took the opportunity to stroke my silky gray coat. After having scratched my white-haired chin, it was time, according to her, to pack up.

“But Ali… there are two slices left!”

Here we were again wasting while only a few days ago we were starving in Phobos’s orbit.

We had been browsing the system for weeks now, looking for a former pirate on the run. According to some information that we had collected when we passed through Ceres, in the belt, our target was near the Red Planet. Alas, it turned out that he had never set foot there. We had been scammed. Frustration added to exhaustion. Patience wasn’t my partner’s forte.

“Don’t make a big deal out of it…” she said while looking daggers at me with her blue eyes.

Once standing, my human had difficulty adjusting her Velcro belt, which she had loosened as a safe precaution before eating like the ogre she was. She ultimately left it open, revealing, with the opposite of grace, white boxer shorts and navel through the aperture. That night, this legendary black hole had reached its limits. There was finally justice in this cold universe.

With her pink plastic jacket back on her shoulders, Ali nonchalantly threw a few bills on the table where they got stuck on a stain of sauce. Then she took a piece of bubble gum and we left.

The restaurant of the cargo stop was now almost empty at this late hour. The VFD clock indicated 3:00 a.m. Martian Time, but this wasn’t of much help because outside the night was eternal.

Nancy Sinatra sang through the radio over the muted info-ads from the blurry color TV set. The chorus of Bang Bang barely covered the animated discussion of a few pilots in a cubicle near the toilets. Further on, a droid salesman in a worn suit and piano tie, who was staying at the adjacent motel, was trying to sell his electronic trinkets to a group of gullible tourists.

Of the staff, only one waitress with orange gloss remained in the room; busy cleaning the antique Mr. Coffee machine. She bid us farewell with a nod, bouncing her wrinkled jowls and dentures that held a rolled cigarette firmly in place.

Her skin was so white that it was no wonder she had never seen the real sunshine in her too long life. Here, on the road to the asteroid belt, its rays had already been lost in the void. A bit like us. And we liked it that way.

“She looks like a low-sugar Betty White,” Ali joked.

With my usual elegance, I positioned myself on her right shoulder, always covering her back when we left a public place. I had been doing this since we first met years before. It was the safest way to do so.

“You are a scandalmonger. And a very mean one.”

But when we finally reached the Plexiglas gates, they refused to open. We were locked in.

“Bogus! Has the waitress already bolted the door? What time is it?” Ali asked, confused.

It was ridiculous. Those diners never closed.

Through the glass, I glanced at the outside handle. It had recently been tampered using some acidified resin. Unfortunately, I couldn’t answer because someone immediately shouted behind us.

“All right, folks! Everyone stay at their table and keep being very quiet! This is a hold-up! You know the drill.”

The criminal stood on the counter with bowed legs to avoid collecting his share of cobwebs. His greasy brown mane, which was covered with poor quality hairspray, shone under the ceiling lights. His faux leather jacket gave off a strong smell of perspiration perceptible through the room. The coat was decorated with various faded veteran badges from the corpo-campaigns around Uranus. He had previously entered by the other door leading to the motel; or via the pantry.

As we returned to our cubicle, the man continued his plea, punctuated by coughing fits. Clapping his boots, he was now threatening the waitress with a blade sticking out of his palm. This wasn’t her first armed robbery, as there were no signs of panic from her. Or maybe they were just imperceptible under her thick Tinkerbell makeup barely covering her wrinkles.

The customers, on the other hand, reacted differently and began to get agitated. The tourists started filming the scene with their newly acquired camcorders.

“And don’t anyone make a fuss or I’ll cool it down! No hesitation! he shouted. I’m a wanted man on all the moons of the Outer System, to tell you how much you must not provoke me!”

The bar’s neon lights over his skull illuminated his sweaty face with red, threatening to ignite the lacquer. He looked like a maniac and nobody moved after this new warning.

“Well… that is interesting,” I whispered to Ali as we had just returned to our table.

I was now lying against an empty napkin dispenser. The latter was resting on top of the bench covered with dusty forgotten gum wrappers, just behind where my human had taken place.

“Wait a minute. I’m checking the register,” she mumbled to me as she was holding one of the last, now cold, slices in her mouth.

She was tapping on her wrist terminal; a tiny console inlaid in the flesh of her left forearm now connected to the table’s network outlet. Lines of green squared characters flashed up on the monochrome monitor among poorly rendered pictures. I could hear the processor cramming megabytes of data from the interweb.

At first, I thought the man must have phonic implants, because he immediately rotated his head towards us. It turned out that he was just trying to pass the time while the waitress was completing filling a large metal box with cash. Luckily for us, Ali had already finished her research.

“I note that someone here don’t lose her appetite while traveling across space, he said after leaving the bar. How they call you, blondie?”

He had that smug, intrusive tone, making this clumsy, old-fashioned approach even awry.

Even worse! He had ignored me. Me, the cutest face in the system. Lying on top of the back of the bench, hadn’t he noticed me? Or was that a challenge? Of course. I had to intervene. It was a matter of feline honor.

“Who do you think you’re talking to? Can’t you see you are bothering my partner, low rank human?”

He opened his eyes wide. Obviously, he had never heard a cat speak so eloquently. Perhaps he had never heard a cat speak at all.

“Come again, impertinent little rodent? Human… of rank what?”

“Rodent? Impertinent? I meowed. What insolence!”

With my ears back, I was fulminating.

“I happen to be a Maine Coon, Monsieur. I am only one gene away from the ruthless cougar!”

He laughed. Then his wrist blade shone under the dirty ceiling lights. From the tip of it, he was about to steal the leftovers of our meal.

“Listen, mutant, I’m chatting with the chick with the indecent yet very appetizing cleavage. Not with her flea-covered Teddy Ruxpin, capishe?” he pursued.

Or rather, he concluded. For his lame tough-hearted speech was interrupted by a crash and the sweet scent of Saturnian gunpowder. The synthetic copper bullet had gone through the table and plate so fast that the last piece of pizza resting on it had barely shaken. It had penetrated by his Adam’s apple then continued to the junction of the spine and the base of the skull.

The ballistic behind this was amazing; yet disappointing. There was no large sheaf of blood repainting the restaurant’s decrepit walls. There was no screaming or backward jump as you see in those bad direct-to-video movies.

Hollywood truly lied to us.

The thief was still conscious when he collapsed to the ground, following the gentle law of gravity, even if artificial. The fall was followed by a few spasms and a muffled hiccup.

George Orwell wrote: you have nothing, except the few cubic centimeters of your skull. That was true. At least until that airhead Ali just shot emptied the content of its braincase onto the turquoise tile floor and gave up his final breath. The few remaining molars and the pellet, which miraculously didn’t come out, had transformed his anemic brain into marmalade.

“That is clever!” I exclaimed as I jumped to the ground.

I landed a few centimeters away from a chunk of tongue and a pool of purple liquid with a dead-fish smell.

The gaze of the last customers who hadn’t taken the opportunity to leave through the utility room or the motel had turned towards our table. Once again, my sapiens offered a pitiful spectacle of our profession.

“This fucker wanted to pinch my slice,” Ali strongly defended herself while picking up the expelled shell from her massive iridescent Desert Eagle. 50 AE caliber. “So, I plead like, you know, self-defense or whatever.”

“Nonsense!” I replied.

Our sixth spat of the day was immediately interrupted by the cook. This fat man with a bull neck must have been slumbering in the scullery, judging by the sleep lines on his puffy face. He had finally summoned up his meager courage to intervene once the threat had been averted.

“Excuse me, Madam…” he began by replacing the safety catch on his old Remington.

My partner lifted her jacket to put her gun in the holster under her left armpit, revealing her badge on her lapel: a discreet palladium plaque the size of a quarter.

“Madam the bounty hunter…”

“We prefer the term ‘Auxiliary of Justice’,” I replied before my human, leaping to the table where the bills were still lying in the dried sauce. “Way more PR, you see.”

Ali shut me up with a slap on the head. She was the only person authorized to do so. And by ‘authorized’, I mean that I was endorsing this behavior with minor diplomatic repercussions.

The cook resumed while scratching his dreadfully shaved throat:

“Certainly… well… could you please hurry up and retrieve his identifier? We would like to dispose of the body. It’s pretty bad for business.”

“Alright… alright… right away,” Ali replied politely, her white sneakers bathed in the blood that was beginning to clot. “We just need his FID.”

The identifier, or FID for Finger IDentification, was a small visible ring that replaced the first phalanx of the right annular. A plastic and metal implant, anchored in you and containing your administrative, banking and medical information. Not fully trustable, it was, however, what hunters would retrieve to prove the fulfillment of a contract. Always more enjoyable than flying through the cosmos with a severed head in an ice tray. Well, I mean, from a sapiens’ point of view.

My partner summarily cut off the finger of our target with her right heel. And it was a match. She had found on her wrist terminal that his name was Joey Neill. And Joey should have run today. But who cares? He was a wastoid and murderer wanted for C$10,000 on Phoebe. C$10,000. That’s all we needed to know.

“Phoebe…” Ali mumbled again after sweeping the FID with her computer’s optic.

The moon S IX Phoebe was where we had to head for our reward. As I said before, the finalization of the contract had to be done in person: no mailing, no identifier scanning or holo-conferencing. We kept the Wild West spirit beyond the belt.

“I can already hear you ranting about making such an excursion back to Saturn,” I remarked to my human as she placed the FID in a special metal box. “You regret your intervention, don’t you?”

“It’s so far away! Why can’t the Outer System work like the Middle or Inner Planets? It’s so lame! I fucking hate road trips!”

“Take a chill pill! Thus, I think it is time to go back to the Rings anyway,” I said.

I then climbed again on her shoulder as we abandoned the restaurant for good.

“By the way, did you give a gracious gratuity for the pool of hemoglobin we left? And the huge hole in the table?”

“I didn’t know you had to tip before the belt too. It’s such an outdated custom anyway. God! The Middle System sucks!”

This girl was never happy.

She then proceeded to kick the door off its hinges, which the corrosive gum kept closed. The violence of the blow knocked the adjacent ashtray and its contents onto the asphalt sidewalk. As always, Ali was turning into a cheeky teenager while thwarted.

“Are you kidding?” I cursed her. “Yet another establishment where I won’t be able to come back!”

Miraculously, the sashes returned to slam against the twisted jamb, but the Plexiglas pane split in two.

“Fine! I’m getting tired of pizzas anyway.”

“Are you going insane?” I meowed at the time.

I put one of my paws on her temple. My pad didn’t detect a fever. She was very serious.

“You will change your mind in less than twenty-five hours, as usual,” I premeditated, and rightly so.

As evidenced by the green LED on the station’s circular airlocks, the short stop parking lot was almost empty and peaceful. But it would soon fill up. Already, on the other side of the armored windows, a dozen purple and luminous blue dots appeared. These were flashing in the infinite night. It was certainly a convoy of supercargos on its way, like us, to Ceres. They would stop here for a few hours, or days, to rest.

Space travel wasn’t long but consumed a lot of energy for both men and ships. Lack of sunshine and confinement could overcome even the most robust of minds. Ali and I had found our parade: greasy fast food and the relatable Betamax. And we weren’t the only ones. Franchises like PizzaDroid and Blockbuster constellated the invisible highway and attracted local and transiting wildlife; as did criminals. The great distances had sparked a new boom in the age of smuggling and piracy. Good for us, right?

“Is the coolant full?” Ali asked the red-haired boy wearing leather fingerless gloves sleeping next to the main hangar.

Snoring against one of the huge heat pumps, he finally opened his eyes and took the helmet off his Walkman where we could hear the last notes of Don’t you forget about me.

“Huh? Yeah! Full load of Blue, Madam,” he stammered as he saw us approaching. “Quite a museum piece you have here, eh?”

Under his acne pimples, his skin turned bright red.

It was the same everywhere my sapiens went. Her black jumpsuit left her curves at no margin of imagination. Rotational gravity gently floated her golden hair and her silk-light jacket, giving her a fairy-tale air, or at least a supernatural presence. And her smile made many people’s head spin. Or maybe it was her freckles, shaped like the Milky Way.

You can’t imagine how many bottoms I had to bite to brush humans, from both sexes, off her bed every morning after we stopped on inhabited worlds. Short answer? Hella lot.

From crimson red, however, these suitors usually turned to the palest white when she lifted her top to reveal her badge and her much too large caliber’s holster to grab her outrageously kitsch pink furry wallet.

“You… you’re a police officer? A darned Techno-cop?” he stuttered ordering a robot to open the garage door. “No wait! An Auxiliary of Justice?”

“Quite right,” replied my human who, like me, noted here the correct use of the term.

“Dang! You have to hunt the worst criminals to be able to afford such a beauty!”

He turned on the dusty spotlights and the interior of the hangar was flooded with a pale blue glow, revealing a vast, and creepy, collection of Molly Ringwald’s posters.

In the center of the large room, vertically stood the Kitty, a marvel at the confluence of design and technology. A Swallow-2 military fighter of the former United Nations converted into a lone frigate. Twelve tons of alloys and ceramics with flaked coral paint; the legacy of a triumphant past. A 3,5 by 10 meters of earthen-armored hull in the shape of the eponymous bird surrounding a real next-generation post-nuclear Baltimore-IV engine from sixteen generations ago.

Weapons inventory: no laser beams certainly, nor electronic toys, but good 40 mm machine guns at the front and a 200 railgun under the belly. Rusty, yet effective. The vintage class like these sapiens no longer did.

Finally, I will pass you the details about the control computer and the power of its IBM 16 bits 50 MHz data-core processor.

Impressed? Stop it! You’re making me blush, low-rank human.

“The rust really tied the ship together, eh?” joked the young boy.

As you now can see, he was abusing unwelcome sarcasm on this splendor of times sadly gone by.

“How fast can she push at full cycle up there?”

“This pimply asteroid-faced uncouth is mocking my vessel!” I muttered between my lips so only my partner could hear it.

“I don’t know. I don’t fly it,” she replied to him while he guided us on the footbridge.

“I am the pilot!” I fulminated before Ali stopped me by taking me in her arms.

This scoundrel was saved because I was about to make canned dolphins out of it. Too bad for him. He will never know how a cat could maneuver a medium starfighter. This pump attendant will remain ignorant until the end of his pathetic existence, shortened by the radiation from nuclear reactors.

But the chin scratching that was supposed to soothe me was promptly interrupted by a message. It appeared on my partner’s terminal which had just synchronized with the ship’s computer, now in range.

“New contract?” I asked. “At last!”

My sapiens opened the body of the announcement with a hand gesture and frowned.

“It’s a gig in the belt. It’s on our way, but… no homicide allowed. Capture only.”

I let out a groan of disappointment.

“We’re heading for the asteroid belt and the external stations of Ceres tomorrow,” I concluded. “On the way, we will check for other contracts and whether we can gather new information about this miserable pirate of Oswald Avery.”

Ali had already placed the contract in the virtual bin and we boarded the Kitty. The encrypted key in the ignition, I made the cooling pumps roar. The reactor started its cycle and the dashboard lit up at the same time as the Blaupunkt. This was the best part of the day.

Desireless’s Martian accent made the speakers vibrate to the sound of Voyage Voyage. With the paws on the controls sticks, we took off towards the starry sky, plus loin que la nuit et le jour.

Back to business!

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