Again this year I’m delighted to have a story in the best-selling Science Fiction Romance anthology Pets in Space 5. Here my fellow PiSA 5 author Laurie Green shows us the charming pet in her story. (I want one!)
This is the fourth story I’ve written for an annual Pets in Space® release with each of the previous ones including a StarDog as a pet and/or working partner. Not one to give up on a theme, for Pets in Space® 5 I decided to write another StarDog adventure, but go back in time and center the action around one of the very first bio-engineered dog-cat-weasel-mongoose DNA blends named CaSandra—or Cassie, for short.
Being creatures created in a lab, the StarDog names are all drawn from their particular production series. The three StarDogs in previous stories were a K-series (Katrina from StarDog), L-series (Luna from Courting Disaster), and M-series (Maura from SpyDog), so their stories take place in later timelines. CaSandra is, of course, from the C-series and so one of the earliest StarDogs. Her story is set five calendars (years) before any of the others. She’s literally a protype and still in the testing phase.
Like the StarDogs and SpyDogs who will come after her, Cassie is extremely perceptive and intelligent. She was created to serve as an intelligence asset and is highly inquisitive and attentive. Very few details escape her attention!
In my story Juggernaut, Dekessa “Dek” Garr is the acting commander of a security team and she meets CaSandra and her handler, Telon, for the first time in this scene: (Edited for length.)
He reached down beside his chair and lifted an object onto the table by a handle set into the top. The rectangular box appeared to be made of punched polymer with wire mesh on the side facing her.
“Say hello to the commander, CaSandra,” Telon said.
Two little golden paws pressed against the mesh from the inside. The creature attached to them gave a high-pitched bark, followed by quiet chattering.
Startled, Dek backed off a step. The animal’s soft amber eyes studied her from behind the mesh with its shiny nose molded tight to the thin bars.
“What in Empora’s Hades is this?” she demanded.
“There isn’t a name for what she is,” Telon answered quietly. “She’s a bio-construct, a first-generation prototype with canine, feline, weasel, and mongoose DNA.”
Dek raised her gaze to the stranger. “Bio-constructed for what purpose?”
His eyes went dark and deep, like the ocean just before a storm. “I’m not at liberty to discuss that, Acting Commander.”
This guy was going to be nothing but trouble. Good thing she’d been trained to handle trouble in all its masculine forms.
He reached for the wire mesh screen—
“What are you—”
—and flipped it open.
Dek backed off another step and gripped the stunpulse secreted in a pocket of her field uniform. The golden creature exited its crate, eyeing her cautiously, and sniffed the air. Its pointed ears twitched before it bolted up Telon’s sleeve and perched on his shoulder, chattering quietly in his ear.
The man nodded and met Dek’s eyes. “Cassie says she’s on your side. And she’d like you to release the weapon you have hidden in your uniform.”
The little beastie squeaked again.
“Please,” he added.
Dek dropped her chin, squinting. “Is this creature telepathic?”
“Not exactly,” he replied.
The bio-construct leaned toward Telon, nuzzling the side of his face…and purred. Huh. Just like the kitten she’d had as a kid. The man reached up to stroke the animal’s head. Cassie craned her neck and closed her eyes, emitting a happy gruff-gruff.
Dek’s heart warmed a degree or two.
Gigadam thing’s adorable.
She displayed her empty hand. “Tell her if she behaves, she has nothing to fear from me.”
Telon grinned. “You just told her yourself, Acting Commander. She understands you perfectly.”
The Inherited Stars Series
By Laurie A. Green
A security commander must decide if she can trust a mysterious stranger and his bioengineered StarDog when the secret underground site she protects is threatened.
I hope you’ll join Cassie and company for their high-stakes adventure in Pets in Space® 5.
illustration by Adrian