Blue Guard

blue guard coverTitle: Blue Guard
Series: Dragons of Tarakona #8
Published by: Meankitty Publishing
Release Date: July 2020
Contributors: Jody Wallace
Pages: 250
ISBN13: 9781393373971
ASIN: B08DLK7JBF
Buy the Book: Books2Read; Amazon; Kobo; Apple
Genre: , , ,

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Two operatives, two sides, same mission: if they choose to accept each other.

Cornelius Blue is a dragon and tracker, not a diplomat. A deadly interruption of the Blue Guard Trials, which should have begun an era of exploration for Cornelius's nation, threatens to crush his dreams of exploring his home world. So what's he doing in Magic, New Mexico, attempting to convince a dubious city council that his planet, Tarakona, should be allowed an embassy? Why is he playing statesman when he should be investigating the catastrophe?

Zuri Kaleo is a spy and wizard, not a seductress. And she should be, secretly, deciphering the disaster of the trials as well. But no, her king reassigned her to Magic, New Mexico, to sweet-talk a stubborn blue dragon out of building an embassy on Earth. Because an embassy there—as well as Cornelius's thirst for exploring Tarakona itself—might reveal the biggest secret Tarakona has ever known.

When Zuri discovers another spy was sent to disrupt the Blue Guard Trials, questions beg for answers. Surely no one was meant to die, were they? The Pirate King wouldn't have ordered that, would he? If only Neil was her teammate instead of her enemy, they could discover the truth together. And perhaps find each other in the process.

NOTE: This novella is the companion to DB Sieders' Blue Streak which is chock-a-block full of romance, gnomes, but not romance with gnomes, and adventure.


Also in this series:

A Pixie’s Tale

the cover of a pixie's tale which is a wacky paranormal romanceTitle: A Pixie's Tale
Published by: Meankitty Publishing
Release Date: June 2013
Contributors: Various Authors
Pages: 140
Buy the Book: Books2Read
Genre: , , , , ,

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

When paranormal romance authors indulge in a round robin, the results are fantastical!

In an attempt to sway human voters—for a totally legitimate cause—Delphie the pixie targets a college neighborhood on Halloween. College students are notoriously liberal anyway, and the neighborhood is a human-only zone. She shouldn’t run into any other supernaturals to interfere with her important mission.

But instead of drunken students, she mistakenly bespells a mysterious, sexy fellow supernatural who doesn’t appreciate the fact her defective fairy dust turns him invisible. In retaliation, he curses her, too. She almost escapes, but he’s determined to enact the cure—a taste of her delicious blood, blood that may also give him a yen for her dainty body.

If only Delphie can resist her yen for his body, too, she might just survive the craziest night of her life.

A 40,000 word paranormal romance

Rated PG-13. Contains mild profanity, drug and alcohol references, dimensional travel, stressful situations, sexy situations, unicorns, evil kittens and characters making not-so-great decisions.

Blue Streak

blue streak coverTitle: Blue Streak
Series: Dragons of Tarakona #7
Published by: Meankitty Publishing
Release Date: June 2019
Contributors: DB Sieders
Pages: 180
ISBN13: 9781393280354
ASIN: B07T1FNHTX
Buy the Book: Books2Read; Amazon; Kobo; Apple
Genre: , , , , ,

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this race, love is the ultimate prize.

Tatiana Blue is a fast-flying water dragonshifter of impeccable breeding and high social standing with a wizard to match. She’s the perfect contender for the race that will win her a spot on the elite Blue Guard. Until, that is, another blue dragon enters the competition, a handsome bad boy from the slums of Valiant City. But these rivals will have to become allies when they land in hostile territory…on another planet.

Ranvie Blue appears to be a carefree rogue, member of a wizard-run dragon gang that dominates the human warrens. But looks can be deceiving. When the race catapults him and his alluring rival out of their dimension and to Earth, the two blue dragons must team up to save themselves and the enchanted town of Magic, New Mexico, from a magical anti-immigrant group that seeks to destroy enchanted creatures from other worlds or dimensions.

Can an uptown lady dragon find common ground and passion with a dragon from the streets, or will their differences lead them and the citizens of Magic down the path of destruction?

Tropes: Rich girl, poor guy; rivals to lovers.

NOTE: This novella is the companion to Jody Wallace’s Blue Guard (coming soon!) and is chock-a-block full of red-hot romance and rascally gnomes.


Also in this series:

Gold Fever

cover of gold fever by db siedersTitle: Gold Fever
Series: Dragons of Tarakona #6
Published by: Meankitty Publishing
Release Date: October 2018
Contributors: DB Sieders
Pages: 160
ISBN13: 9781386424826
ASIN: B07JYXZQQQ
Buy the Book: Books2Read; Amazon; Kobo; Apple
Genre: , , , , ,

ABOUT THE BOOK

She’s got a fever, and he’s the only one who can break it.

Sienna Gold is an energy dragon. Useful gift—as long as the excess power inside her doesn’t cause her to explode! When a demon kidnaps her leader, the burden of rescuing him falls on her shoulders. This rescue will take some teamwork, and she knows exactly who she is going to invite to help her.

Declan Amari is a wizard in disguise. He hates magic, refuses to use it, and absolutely abhors the thought of exploiting dragons for their magic. Unfortunately, one alluring and persistent gold dragon sees past his disguise and drags him, literally, to another world to rescue the leader of her merry band of rogues.

It’s a noble mission, but her needs could bring out the beastly nature he’s spent years suppressing. Can they come to a mutually acceptable arrangement in time to stop the demon hell bent on draining souls of Earthborn humans, or will his beastly nature cause even more devastation?

NOTE: This novella is the companion to Jody Wallace’s Gold Rush and is chock-a-block full of gnomes.


Also in this series:

Gold Rush

gold rush coverTitle: Gold Rush
Series: Dragons of Tarakona #5
Published by: Meankitty Publishing
Release Date: September 2018
Contributors: Jody Wallace
Pages: 250
ISBN13: 9781386954293
ASIN: B07JYXSYJS
Buy the Book: Books2Read; Amazon; Kobo; Apple
Genre: , , , ,

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

She didn’t know she was a dragon. He didn’t know he was a hero.

Oksana Popov, scientist, has no reason to believe in magic until she finds a portal to another world near the mysterious town of Magic, New Mexico. Even then she’s inclined to believe it’s military until she meets rascally wizard Wade Insbrook, who helps her through her transformation into an actual gold dragon. But when she tries to return to Earth and confront her parents about her heritage, Wade uses all the tricks in his very tricky book to stop her. Because gold dragons who don’t have a particular wizard to drain their power blow up. Literally.

And while Wade might appeal to Oksana’s baser instincts, he’s just not the right kind of wizard. Originally from Earth, he’s been hiding on Tarakona because of a deal gone bad with a demon. While things heat up between Wade and Oksana, her trip through the portal has alerted the demon, and soon the demon has discovered Wade at last.

A harrowing escape finds Wade and Oksana on Earth and racing to destroy a seemingly indestructible object before the demon uses it to raise hell. Their budding attraction won’t be the only thing that can’t survive the demon apocalypse.

Tropes: This fish out of water romance contains elements of romantic suspense and adventure, opposites attract, and the secret society trope.


Also in this series:

Red at Night

red at night coverTitle: Red at Night
Series: Dragons of Tarakona #3
Published by: Meankitty Publishing
Release Date: July 2018
Contributors: Jody Wallace
Pages: 147
ISBN13: 9781540169174
ASIN: B07FNFMHBQ
Buy the Book: Books2Read; Amazon; Kobo; Apple
Genre: , , , ,

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

She rescued him from death, but can he trust her with his life?

Alliah Red has one last duty before she can be truly free of the wizard who enchained her. She must guide the dragons in her master’s stable to the world of Earth. She’s the one who killed him, making them vulnerable to other wizards. Worse wizards. She just didn’t count on Leopold Crystal, the mysterious dragon from the dungeon, tangling her simple mission into a dangerous snarl.

Leo doesn’t trust the proud woman who barges into his cell claiming she killed their master, but he does believe that the pack of greedy wizards on their tails will stop at nothing to possess them. When Alliah leads him through a gateway to another dimension, his entire belief system—about himself, about magic, even about Alliah—threatens to crumble.

Placed in the unexpected position of guiding their companions in a world none of them understand, Alliah and Leo grow close in a way dragons in Tarakona are forbidden to be. But the wizards continue to clamor at the gates, endangering the town that is their refuge. Though Leo vowed he would never let his magic be taken by a wizard, can he learn to trust Alliah and her friends in time to protect them from those who would enslave them forever?

Tropes: This enemies to lovers romance also contains elements of the alpha male trope, the alpha female trope, and the protector trope.


Also in this series:

Red in the Morning

red in the morning coverTitle: Red in the Morning
Series: Dragons of Tarakona #4
Published by: Meankitty Publisher
Release Date: July 2018
Contributors: DB Sieders
Pages: 150
ISBN13: 9781386705697
ASIN: B07FNQ2DVP
Buy the Book: Books2Read; Amazon; Kobo; Apple
Genre: , , , , ,

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

He’s never met a dragon he couldn’t master—until her.

Katia’s been lost since her liberation. Her wicked former master held her under his cursed thrall, forcing her to do his bidding, but freedom is its own prison. Red dragons of Tarakona are warriors and defenders. But she has nothing left to defend, only a portal to guard, the portal that leads to a place called Earth and the enchanted realm of Magic, New Mexico. A distress call from the other side of the portal provides her the perfect opportunity to be the hero she was born to be.

Too bad a beastly, bossy, sexy earthborn dragon keeps getting in her way.

Dragon Master Ju-long Shi has seen it all. The anthropomorphic dragon shifter line from which he’s descended has tamed every species from tiny fairy dragons to great serpents and everything in between. But the enigmatic—not to mention annoying—new dragon in town intrigues and infuriates him with her infernal antics, as if she has something to prove. He meets his match in the red Dragon who will not surrender to his will or his charms.

When a pack of three-headed giants shows up in town looking for trouble, Ju-long and his merry band of dragon warriors find themselves outnumbered and outmatched. Katia is their only hope, if he can turn the alluring fireball from enemy to partner. Will their epic battle of wills end in a passionate alliance or a fiery disaster?

Tropes: This alpha male meets warrior female romance also contains elements of dominance play.

NOTE
No dragons were harmed in the making of this novella. The three-headed giants were, but they had it coming.


Also in this series:

Catalyst

The cover of Catalyst by Jody WallaceTitle: Catalyst
Series: Cat Ship #1
Published by: Meankitty Publishing
Release Date: August 2019
Pages: 236
ISBN13: 9781393683964
ASIN: B07VH7NLP4
Buy the Book: Books2Read; Amazon; Kobo; Apple; Barnes & Noble
Genre: , , ,

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Dance teacher Wil Tango, adopted by a cat who needs to make use of his opposable thumbs, knows all too well the primary rule of their arrangement: never reveal the cat is a genius. Their clever scheme to win all the jackpots on Gizem Station works until a bigwig gets suspicious, and he finds himself stuffed in a stasis box and shipped to Garbage Planet. At least he’s got the cat for company.

Sulari Abfall, scrapyard picker extraordinaire, thinks she’s scored when she earns access to the latest offload from Gizem Station. Their trash is her treasure, and the profits from her recycling program should provide more than enough to upgrade her clunky garbage scow into a clunky tow ship, a huge step up in trash hierarchy. When she’s drawn to a hazardous waste container, she finds more than she ever bargained for. A naked man. And a sentient cat.

But unsealing the stasis pod sends an interspace signal back to Gizem Station—and the vengeful VIP who thought Wil was dead. It will take all the wits of a lovely garbage scow captain, a down on his luck dance instructor, and a brave orange feline to defeat a gang intent on mayhem, murder, and a galactic catnapping that could change the course of the future for the entire Obsidian Rim.

 


Also in this series:

Read an article about the series by the author! 

https://romancingthegenres.blogspot.com/2020/10/light-paranormal-try-cats-by-author.html

What readers are saying...

Rann: When I first saw this book, I knew I had to read it. A cat. Scifi. Romance. Jody Wallace. One click.

CW: Five paws up.

NSUM: Great characters, a suspenseful story and intriguing and creative world building.

Bea: "Catalyst" was fast, fun, and engaging. Once I got into it, I whipped through it, reading right till the end. I've already started bugging Ms. Wallace about book two. 😀

Lola: This review wouldn't be complete with more mention of Pumpkin. He was such a typical cat and at the same time so much more with his enhanced intelligence and special skills. I liked that mix of how smart and capable he was, but then reverted to typical cat behavior as well.

Karen F: What a fun read! Pumpkin was beyond words. His attitude mixed with his catitudes left me chuckling. The world building was first class. The ending was a shocker leaving me wanting more. Highly enjoyable book!

a grey cat looking all crazy eyed at the ceiling

Try a little taste of CATALYST!

CHAPTER ONE

The low, flat mech-dolly let out a suspicious clank as it followed Sulari Abfall up the ramp that led into the unplumbed depths of the waste management stellarship from Gizem Station. The stench of oils, metals, and organic rubbish bloomed out of the cavernous bay doors. With great restraint, Su did not break into an excited jig at being first to enter, with the fifteen minute head start she’d won at last night’s pikka game.

Such behavior would be in poor taste. Even for a garbage picker.

The cold, ever-present wind in this district of Trash Planet whipped several strands of her hair free of the band of the protective goggles. As she shoved up her hood, she caught the glares of the other pickers, arms crossed, carts, dollies and assorted equipment idling behind them.

Fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes to bag and tag the best loot with no interference, no wheeling and dealing, and no fistfights. You had to go in alone—but it was always, always worth it.

“Halt for inspection.” The Pish Incorporated goons flanking the cargo bay waved her to a stop. She directed the dolly to idle while they sent drones underneath, tiny beeping robotics that looked like they may have been the work of a refurber here on Trash Planet themselves.

Hells, that probably meant they worked better than new.

“Arms,” directed the larger of the two goons. Su raised her hands out to her sides while he wanded up and down her body in search of weapons. He had the kind of scanner that penetrated the protective fabric of her coveralls. The drone exited the undercarriage of the dolly and shot up to scan the flattened crunch crates lashed to the top.

Guns weren’t allowed in waste ships or scrap piles after that explosion at Hazard Port. The pickers of Trash Planet didn’t agree on much, but none of them wanted to die in a chem fire that blazed for eighteen days and nights, untouched by the storms. Hadn’t been a Pish ship, but inspections on the way in and out were now routine with all the big companies.

“You’re not a very big one,” the goon commented. “How you gonna pick up any scrap?”

Su lifted her goggles to her forehead and enjoyed his flinch the moment he noticed her scar. “Stronger than I look,” she said. Which was true. Her job included heavy lifting. “Meaner, too. Tell him, Bart.”

“She’s plenty mean,” said the other guy, a Pish guard she’d gotten to know over the years. The big goon’s wand beeped at her knee, and he frowned, adjusting the knob.

“It’s metal,” she said. “You don’t wanna see those scars, too, do you?”

“Musta hurt,” he grunted, starting up her other leg. The rest of her was all flesh and bone and a damn bunch of hair, and he wouldn’t find anything illegal.

At least not that he would recognize as illegal.

“Any other implants I should know about?” The wand reached her head, and again his gaze fixated on the scar bisecting her cheek. “You mighta needed more mending after that, and I don’t want to false positive you.”

The second drone whizzed out from under her dolly, green lights flashing.

“I’m clean. So’s my dolly. And you’re wasting my fifteen,” she complained, though her head start hadn’t officially begun yet. “I got dumpsters to dive.”

“She’s safe,” Bart encouraged. “It’s a big deal, when they get to go first. Sorry, Abfall, he’s new here.”

Come find treasure, whispered a voice in her head, the embodiment of her own excitement, no doubt.

The new goon shrugged. “I’m done. Good hunting.”

Yeah, he’d better wish her good hunting. If the trash wasn’t quality, their union, Bristler, wouldn’t contract with Pish, and he’d be out of a job. Not all garbage ended up on Trash Planet. They had their standards.

She thumbed her chin in a rather insolent thanks and turned her attention to the other pickers. Hundreds of them, slavering for junk, and all watching her. Garza, the union president, lifted his wrist and tapped his chrono, his giant beard bristling with annoyance.

She could take a hint. She gave them the traditional one finger salute, and the countdown clock started.

“Goat, increase speed by three.” The mech-dolly responded to her voice with another ominous clank and zoomed up the ramp, into the loading bay. She hopped on the top of her crate stack, grabbed a corner pole, and abstained from spinning around it like a dancer hoping for big bills.

No jigs, no spins, no rubbing it in. She was all about being classy in her victory.

Because today’s treasure trove should bring her mega money. First shot always did. She’d likely earn all the credits she needed to upgrade the Moll, her small intraplanetery scow, into a stellarship capable of towing. Then she could scavenge trash on other planets and space stations on her own and not have to share.

The waste management company for today’s delivery, Pish Incorporated, along with others, contracted with various picker unions on Trash Planet to deliver the waste and scraps from other parts of the Obsidian Rim here. Not just as a dump site. The hardy entrepreneurial spirit that had enabled humanity’s survival during the deadly Oblivion War up until present day, over 1600 years later, also enabled them to create treasure from trash. Recycling, converting, refabricating, scraphacking, rewiring, composting, you name it, someone on Trash Planet did it, with what the rest of the galaxy considered garbage.

In the end, everyone profited. Recycling required specialized machinery, time, and training, and for some it was cheaper to send it off. According to the contracts the waste management companies signed, they had to allow pickers to comb their ships before they added their mess to one of the massive scrap heaps in less habitable areas of the planet. The sorta-livable equatorial band was divided in districts, and everything outside that was a frigid wasteland.

Now that Su was inside the ship, she really picked up the pace. Fourteen minutes left. Ish. She and her employees had a rep for snagging super gloss items, bartering for what she wanted from other pickers for a minimum of digital intergalactic credits, and nobody had been happy that she’d won first look.

Since Pish employed guards, they’d probably give her the full fifteen. Today she’d focus on rarer barterables because they were easier to snatch. She’d scoop up her specialty items during the later phases when she could bring helps. Some of the things she refurbished were pretty big.

Su hung tight to the corner pole as the mech-dolly sped along the immense cargo bay to the lifts in the midsection. Ship rats ran squeaking out of her path. Since they were alive, they’d either broken in during the night or life support had been maintained in the bays during the trip to Trash Planet.

Interesting. Since when did rubbish need life support?

Overhead lights cast enough of a glow that she didn’t need her lamp. Su activated her goggles to detect any radiation and hazardous waste. She wasn’t equipped for hazmat, though sometimes she refurbished the containers. Those had significant resale value to Hazer Union and other places.

She also resisted the lure of the huge plastene bins stacked along the bottom bay walls. Someone else could hit those. Probably organics, from the smell of it. Hence the rats, which could have been loaded along with the organics back on Gizem.

Nope, what Su wanted was the high-end shit. The household waste. Yeah. Pish didn’t collect peon litter. They ran jobs for royals and high rollers and all of those jazz hands. People who threw out perfectly good stuff.

Finally she reached the elevators. “Goat. Slow.”

Pish cargo ships were long and bulky and rarely had side corridors. But they did have multiple floors.

And Su went straight for the next to top floor. Always the best. Always. Most said top, but too many other pickers would go for the top, and she’d have to fight or, worse, pay her way out.

And she had a feeling about today. A feeling that she was about to hit the legendary Gizem Station jackpot.

Far Galaxies

the cover for far galaxies by jody wallace which is a science fiction romance spoof and completely ridiculousTitle: Far Galaxies
Series: The Adventures of Mari Shu #3
Published by: Meankitty Publishing
Release Date: April 2015
Contributors: Jody Wallace
Pages: 370
ISBN13: 9781507074435
ASIN: B00O6FTRAY
Buy the Book: Books2Read; Amazon; Kobo; Apple
Genre: , , , , , ,

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Mari Shu, a factory drudge in the year 4000-something, must choose how to protect her sisters, her purity, and her own conscience in a bleak futuristic society that’s been polluted by smog, rampant commercialism, tacky jumpsuits, sexual perversions, unjust socioeconomics, interstellar travel, and inconsistent use of the Oxford comma.

In this second jubilant outing, Mari Shu decides to desert Olde Earth for the unfamiliar comforts and sexual practices of Mars...and possible elevation to the elite Martian rover class.

Warning: Book is a spoof and contains offensive material. Buttloads of boatloads of offensive, vulgar, disrespectful, and possibly triggering material. Sexual, political, economic, racial, physical, typographical, religious—really, trying to hit all the big ones. Please make sure to sign your correct name to the hate mail so we can give proper credit in the follow-up volume entitled, “The Hate Mails to Mari Shu”.

Warning 2: What that means is this entire book is a spoof. A joke. A hoot. It wasn’t born out of hatred of any aspect of genre fiction and culture or even hatred of human beings but instead out of love, true love. No, seriously, quit laughing. Oh, wait, you’re supposed to laugh, because it’s parody. You pick, okay?


Also in this series:

Catapult

catapult by jody wallace is a man in coveralls with a black cat on his shoulder and a space backgroundTitle: Catapult
Series: Cat Ship #2
Published by: Meankitty Publishing
Release Date: November 2019
Pages: 313
ISBN13: 9781393645511
ASIN: B07ZWMXNF9
Buy the Book: Books2Read; Amazon; Kobo; Apple; Barnes & Noble
Genre: , , ,

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Lincoln doesn’t want trouble. Briar is trouble personified.

Lincoln Caster owes everything he has to the Trash Planet recycling plant that hired him, allowing him to lead an uneventful life for a change. When he’s asked to plan a heist from a less than savory rival factory, he wonders if his checkered past is the only reason he got the job. That is, until he realizes the priceless item he’s been asked to steal will save a top-secret generation ship full of cryopreserved humans…and freakishly intelligent cats.

But first Lincoln has to seduce—or at least fool—the rival factory’s sales agent, cool, competent Briar Pandora, who may or may not be leading a double life as a corporate mole. He’ll have to trust her with the truth…unless her own agenda results in them becoming targets of a vicious intergalactic corporation that will stop at nothing in its quest to hijack generation ships and sell off their parts—and their passengers, be they human or feline.


Also in this series:

Read an article about the series by the author! 

https://romancingthegenres.blogspot.com/2020/10/light-paranormal-try-cats-by-author.html

Please enjoy this excerpt from CATAPULT!

PROLOGUE

Mighty Mighty, pink nose to the view screen, watched in horror as the stellarship carcass he and Lincoln intended to scavenge was towed out of the throng of dead vessels in orbit around Trash Planet. The one part they needed to replace in order to reboot their own cryosleep system was being dragged out of range by some dog-damned, pesky humans in a fleet of short-range cruisers.

“Lincoln!” Mighty yowled at the top of his lungs, hurled himself off the control panel, and raced to the last place Lincoln had been refurbishing the many ancient components on the Catamaran. Boson Higgs, their long-haired tabby pilot, stared at Mighty in shock when he raced past. He reached the nearest waste room in the flick of a tail. “They’re stealing our ship, they’re stealing our ship!”

“What?” Lincoln bolted upright, thonked his head on the underside of the specialized disposal unit, and glared at Mighty. “Nobody in this part of the galaxy can pierce this camouflage. They can’t possibly be stealing the ship.”

It was true. The Catamaran, a very unusual ancient generation ship that had set sail into the stars over three thousand years ago, was protected by a reflective force field that prevented most of today’s sensors from detecting its worth. Or its occupants. Standard scans read it as one of the junkiest hunks in the sky pile.

“That’s not the ship I’m talking about. Obviously. It’s the one with the cryopods like ours.” Mighty placed an insistent paw on Lincoln’s leg, a gesture that rarely failed to motivate humans in the desired fashion. “You know these trash people. I insist you go stop them at once.”

“For the last time,” Lincoln said, “I don’t know most of the people on Trash Planet. I’ve only worked here for a couple of months.” The human’s scalp, devoid of hair, showed a faint red mark where he’d smacked into the cat toilet. Lincoln rubbed it, smearing a bit of grease on his brown skin.

“Then call your boss,” Mighty said, undeterred by mere facts and a sluggish human. “She will stop them. Hurry. They’re getting away!”

A couple of months ago, the Catamaran’s fundraiser, Pumpkin, and his human assistant, Wil Tango, had landed in a spot of trouble on Trash Planet and had been rescued by Sulari Abfall, the owner of a box recycling factory. Granted, Pumpkin had saved the day in the end—as cats do—but Su had proven to be a clean and honorable human, worthy of knowing the secret.

“You’re already pushing it with Su,” Lincoln reminded Mighty. He stroked his big hand down Mighty’s sleek black fur a few times. Some of the humans asked permission before they touched a cat, but some seemed to sense when the time was right for a pet. Lincoln was one of the latter. “She hired me to work on the mech and tech, not your ship, but I’m up here more than I’m down there.”

“Our cause is more crucial, and Su knows that,” Mighty said with a sniff. Lincoln had been selected for the trust circle, but he wasn’t as easy to push as a cat might have wished. He was stubborn of head and slow of body but reliable enough, as humans went. “If you won’t do it, I will skip down and talk to Su myself. She is a woman of science and will listen to reason.”

“She can’t stop whoever’s taking that gen ship framework. We always knew it was a possibility.” With a sigh, Lincoln started packing his tools. While he did, Catpernicus, one of Queen Bea’s kittens, skidded into the room, bounced off the wall, and jumped onto the waste disposal unit.

Lincoln stretched an arm toward the small black kitten. “Catto, hold on, I haven’t switched—”

But Catpernicus was already doing his business. The acrid odor of urine filled the room. Catpernicus squeaked as it doused his paws instead of being absorbed by the disposal unit like it was supposed to be.

“I haven’t switched it back on.” Lincoln hit the button and the unit gave a quiet, reassuring hum. The kitten scratched around, sniffed, and flew out of the room without so much as a thank you.

“Kittens today,” Mighty said. “They don’t know how good they have it. Why, when we cats first woke into the new dawn, we had to use human toilets. Can you imagine? The balancing was insanely precarious. And I don’t even want to talk about the food.” Mighty Mighty had been one of the Originals—the first felines to pop out of their cryopods and realize they were changed, with enhanced intelligence and other satisfying abilities. It had been days before he and the others had managed to wake a human, dear, dear Barbara Ann Collins, to perform the tasks that required thumbs.

Unfortunately, Barbara was the only human they’d been able to release from the thousands of cryopods in two years. They also hadn’t been able to wake all the cats. They’d spent that time combining their efforts to repair the ancient ship, rouse their colleagues, and figure out what had happened to the galaxy during their long sleep.

Now they had some new people—humans on a cold, dingy little rock called Trash Planet—who were proving to be very useful. Lincoln was useful, if slow. But you had to appreciate a human who always thought before he spoke, always watched his feet, and never accidentally stepped on a sleeping cat’s tail.

Lincoln finished packing his tools and joined Mighty at the view station on the bridge. The disappearing gen ship and its escorts were a blip on the screen, heading toward the planet’s surface.

“I believe they’re headed to the Market District of the planet, based on their trajectory,” Boson Higgs relayed as he monitored the status screens. With one paw, he increased the magnification so they could watch the gen ship burn through the planet’s atmosphere. All the controls had been altered to suit his specifications. “Who in that part of the world would have the ability to harvest a ship?”

The toilets weren’t the only parts of the Catamaran that had been altered to suit the cats in the past two years. Dear Barbara had proven capable as long as a cat was there to give her proper instructions, but it didn’t compare to a real mechanic like Lincoln who didn’t need pictures and blueprints fed painstakingly into his brain.

“I imagine there’s more than one factory that tears ships apart,” Lincoln said. “Just don’t know the names yet.”

Trash Planet was run by unions instead of governments or corporations. Not that there was much about Trash Planet to run—the barely habitable equatorial band was where the humans built their stenchy, loud factories to recycle the galaxy’s garbage, suffering bad weather and constant hail storms and long, dark seasons that could drive a cat mad.

Boson Higgs flicked through a bunch of data on the wide touchscreen, which whizzed past faster than Mighty could read it. “There are facilities in Hazer Union, Endeavor Union, Builder Union, and a few independent operators. Endeavor Union owns most of the ships in the sky pile and does a lot of trade in parts, so that’s the most likely culprit.”

A handy union to cultivate when you and all your friends dwelled on a stellarship. Granted, they had to keep their ship a secret. This galaxy wasn’t ready for the awesomeness that was sentient cats, and humanity’s tendency to destroy what it feared meant secrecy was paramount. That and the threat to their sleeping humans if pirates and slavers were to discover their gen ship.

Humans had not improved in three thousand years. They had arguably devolved while cats had done the exact opposite. It was a disappointment, to say the least.

“How much money do we have left?” Mighty asked. Their funding had been cut off after Pumpkin and Wil Tango got fingered in some ratty casino—probably because of something the human did—and wound up on Trash Planet.

“We would have to confirm with Jacobus, but enough that we could make an offer for the part we need,” Boson Higgs said, tail curling. “All we need to do is send Dear Barbara down to buy it.”

“Can’t do that,” Lincoln said, shaking his head.

Mighty looked up at the big man. “Why not? It’s worked for two years.”

Dear Barbara, in addition to maintenance, had been their agent in all the purchases and interactions with the sadly devolved humans around the Obsidian Rim. It wasn’t as if the cats could go haggle themselves. They had learned cats were so rare in the galaxy after the foolish Obsidian War—which was what happened when you left humans to their own devices—that the mere sight of a cat turned humans into avaricious lunatics.

The approved areas on Trash Planet were the lone exception.

“Anybody who knows you want just the Mozim power converter will know you’ve got a gen ship on your hands,” Lincoln said. “And if they figure out you’ve got this kind of gen ship, full of sleepers…”

“They will try to take it,” Mighty finished with a growl. Human greed and evil were constant annoyances, and the cats did not appreciate the threat to their people. “Why has humanity not found your better selves, Lincoln? Why are you like this?”

Lincoln, his dark face impassive and his lips firm, shrugged his shoulders. “Everyone has to learn their own lesson.”