Trouble Beyond the Borders

Cats, cats, and more cats!

Meet the Felines

[The cats don’t notice anything now while the ship’s airlock is open. However, there has been times in the past on large stations where you notice that some shielding around power plants and such can partially block the “signal.” No rodent smell, but interesting food smells from a dinner last night. There might be some leftovers if they haven’t fully cleaned up.]

Sister Moon bows deeply before Jakii. “I have brought you a man whose mind and soul have been impressed on a clutter of cats. I had a hunch that they might be useful to you.”

Comments

The woman looks towards you. First a quick look of concentration is on her face, then her face relaxes for a bit.

She says into your mind, “Good afternoon, I am Jakii. Sister Moon seems to believe that you could help us in our quest. I’m willing to give you the information to allow you to make a choice, if you can deal with a non-disclosure form. If you will sign the form and give me an hour of your time, I can tell you what we’re planning.”

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

A taller woman in black slips into the room quietly and sits down. She takes out one of her blasters and starts polishing it. She doesn’t seem to be paying attention to much of anything.

Jakii points with a thumb to the new woman then says with her mind. “Jeane. My bodyguard.”

Then out loud “Jeanee, Cats. Cats, Jeane. And Sister, please stop bowing; it’s embarrassing and could blow our cover.”

Then with her mind again, “Would you like to say something?”

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

While several of I start exploring deeper into the ship, I sit beside Sister Moon and reply to Jakii’s mind,

Hello, Jakii. Your quest to stop a war sounds like a good one. I would like to know how you hope to accomplish this before committing myself, but I’m sure I would be able to help. I’m curious, though: do you think a paw-print on a non-disclosure form has any value?

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Sister Moon says outloud, “Yes,” and to the Cats’ mind, "The agreement is more than merely a legality. While there are legal penalties for disobedience, they are there purely for form’s sake and to prevent people from looking further. There is a geas attached to the form which you will accept merely by accepting the agreement.

“When you’ve done that, I will know.”

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I look over the agreement, and try to study the geas. I hope to be able to detect the actual conditions of the geas, not just the words on the form. I will also study the conditions on the form.

Do I detect any conditions (geas or form) that go far beyond a non-disclosure agreement?

If not, I accept. If there, I will question these points.

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

You don’t find anything particularly bad about the document. The only clause that might refer to the geas says “You will not be able to talk about the following conversation unless you agree to further conditions to be disclosed.” The NDA itself is fairly normal, the major addition is a clause that says that neither refusing to sign the form, nor refusing the offer after you hear further information will be used against you.

After you give your pawprint and agree to the NDA, you feel nothing in particular.

Jakii, the shorter woman, gets up and looks at you, "Now that we have that out of the way, I need to say a few things first.

“First, I was originally born in the Republic of Humanity almost 2,000 years ago. I was asleep and healing most of that time, so I’m officially only 301 years old. During my first 140 years or so I was the youngest of the Divine Guardians of the Wind, or as is more normal in history classes, a Republican Wind Guard. And I looked like this.”

She changes shape (and more surprisingly to you, scent). She’s taller, with longer hair and her features are more symmetrical. She is also wearing some sort of advanced protective armor. From your history classes you vaguely remember the outfit. The Wind Guard were some sort of all female protective unit of the Republic. – Think Jedi Knights, sort of. -

She changes her form back but leaves on the armor and she goes on.

“Second, I am a shape shifter.” She rapidly changes to a black bird and then a large blue parrot. "I am now a non-human. Once I was human, but I was healed from near death by a group of powerful non-human sophonts. They could only save my life by making me like them. As I still had things to do, I accepted. However, when I woke up I was in the Empire, having missed about 1,800 years.

“Third, I have been knighted as a High Knight of the Empire. I am officially High Dame Jakalinne Keenan, Order of the Mirrored Box. I am one of the Phoenix Emperor’s unofficial troubleshooters. I am called the Raven Knight, and my assignment is the continued peace of the rim.

The Empire has been expanding for over 400 years, normally peaceful expansion with most systems happy to join the Empire for the peace, well being, and technology that come with joining the Empire. Some systems have been taken by force, but on the whole these systems are better off. There have been small pocket empires on our borders, but we’ve managed to absorb them with relative ease. However, there has come a problem."

She turns on a holoscreen showing a star map. "Over here, on the border of the Empire, there is perhaps a small pocket empire, perhaps something else. The problem is that this group is claiming to be The Republic of Humanity and they claim to be a direct and continuing descendent of the old Republic. If we cannot disprove this quickly, we may lose rim worlds to this false ‘Republic’

“Our job (at this time you twitch a little because of a discovery that I’ll put in later today) is to find out the truth behind The New Republic of Humanity. Doing this may stop a bloody civil war.”

As she sits down, the armor is replaced by normal clothing.

“I would like for you to become one of my Oathsworn. This will protect you and you may aid my cause.

“Do you have any queastions?”

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

Meanwhile, an exploring cat turns a corner and almost runs into some huge rugs. Er, I mean dogs. Large dogs. Newferdoodles (a Newfoundland-Poodle cross) but about 20% larger. And both of them are staring at the suddenly much tinier cat.

The brown one speaks with his mind, “Cat?”

The black one replies. “Not cat. Looks like cat. Smells like cat. Not cat. Maybe chew toy.”

The brown one leaps up. “Where? Where chew toy?”

The Black one goes, “Sit down, Pixie.”

Pixie pants, “I sit. Pixie is good dog.”

The Black one looks at the cat, “Not cat, I Nixie.”

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

The oath for Oathsworn would be in the glossary

Oathsworn

And if you can give me recommendations for making the wording seem a bit more archaic, I’d appreciate it.

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

[btw—a google search turned up 0 hits for Newferdoodle; 1,560 hits for Newfydoodle, and 34,800 hits for Newfypoo.]

I bristle a bit in surprise at the encounter, but then I sit and reply, “I ‘Not Cat’. [I don’t think of myself as having a name (since I am unique), however ‘Not Cat’ seems like a good label for Pixie to learn.]
How many are in your pack?”


To Jakii I reply, "Interesting. What if we learn that The New Republic of Humanity actually is a direct and continuing descendent of the old Republic?
Also, I’m a bit surprised you want me to be your Oathsworn, since we just met. Are you able to read my character deeply enough to already take on that responsibility?

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

[I never thought that anybody would ever try to do this. I should have realized that somebody would. At any rate, they really aren’t called any specific breed in this game.]

Nixie: Small pack. Alpha is Old Man. Beta is Big Bird. Does Notcat have pack? Smell many cats.



Jakii: I would like you as my Oathsworn for my own reasons. I do feel that you could be very useful, being able to go places that we cannot. But perhaps more so, being my Oathsworn gives you the legal status of a person.

Jakii: And no, I am not a telepath. I can communicate to those minds that are receptive though. But Sister Moon trusts you and I trust her.

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

Jakii continues, "As for the 2nd Republic, my job is to negotiate a peace if I can. I’ve been an investigator for hundreds of years. And I saw the fall of the Republic. I spent over 100 years searching out and bringing to justice some of the war criminals that were behind the countless billions of deaths.

“I’ve read all the information the Emperor could gather in time. I’ll get more before we meet them, but all I’ve seen tells me something is very wrong. I don’t know what it is, but its my job to find out.

“If I’m wrong, then I’ll try to negotiate the best peace I can. But my mission is to stop a war. The Emperor is mobilizing entire battle fleets. The Gael Storm is fast, but we’ll only be a few months ahead of the fleets.

“If I’m right, then we have to find out what is wrong and fix it if possible.”

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

I stand up, stretch, and stroll over and nuzzle [mark] Nixie. “There are nine of I in my ‘not cat’ ‘pack’. We will be staying in this ship for a while. Ah—Excuse me, but I am needed. Nixie, I’ll talk to you later. And it was interesting meeting you, Pixie.” With that, I turn and leave.

To Jackie, I reply, “Very well. I will trust Sister Moon’s judgement as well. All of I am gathering back here. I would like to undertake this solemn oath together.”

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

And so it is. Jakii asks one awkward question: “What is your name? I ask because the oath uses a name by default, but it’s possible to do it without. I’d like to know so I don’t stumble over the words.” Jakii is now in her taller human shape. You do notice, being close to the floor, that she is heavier in the taller form than in the shorter. Curious.

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

[I’m sorry; I was waiting for a response in my email. As Morfydd announced, “The Adventure log does not trigger an email….” I didn’t realize there was a response. Sorry. I will be more attentive.]

As I (all nine) gather together, I reply, "I do remember having a name when I was in my original form, and even remember my identity was linked to that name. However, now that I am in cats, I find that name to be meaningless. I know that I am, and see no need for a word or a sound to identify me. If it makes you feel more comfortable to use a name to identify me, you may choose one, and I might respond to it, but that will be your name for me, not my name.

I am glad the Phoenix Empire exists, and your quest to stop a war is a noble quest that I will be proud to join."

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

[GM: I’m sorry, I should have realized that it didn’t trigger an email, but almost everything else does. In another game I’m playing here I check the game’s Adventure Log at least once a day when I can; several times if possible.]

Jakii says, “Sister Moon says that a group of cats is called a ‘Clutter’. Will that do for the name for the entire group? Otherwise we could use ‘Pride’. If you have a preference for one over the other, let me know, otherwise I will go with ‘Clutter’. And I do understand your point, but yes, people do need names to identify things.”

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

By this time, all of I am together, and facing Jakii. I reply, “I don’t care what you call me. Some of I have taken advantage of people’s need to cuddle cats by responding to names such as ‘snookums’ and ‘stink butt’. I never bothered talking to those fools, but I would cuddle on their laps while learning things they would never dream of sharing if they knew I was intelligent.”

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

Jakii goes "OK, Clutter it is. If you wish to change this, let me know. I understand what it is being unique, but most of the people on this ship are human, and it seems all of us started that way.

“Oh, just a warning. Your individual cats will be named and collared or whatever passes for identification on each world. This is to keep you safe from the more foolish humans because I intend to keep your secret except from my other Oathbound. It will be much safer for you if the rest stay foolish.”

Jakii pauses, thinks, and continues, "And I would never think of calling one of you stink-butt, but don’t let the Ixies name you. They’re rather intelligent for dogs, even sophont [the word Traveller uses in place of ‘sentient’ which is in its proper place as any creature which can think of itself] but they are still dogs.

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

Some of I wince. Reluctantly I reply, “I will tolerate the collars when we are on worlds. Remember to leave them loose enough that I can slip them off. I won’t abuse that ability. I fully intend to keep secrets. Fools deserve to remain fools.”

“Why would letting the Ixies choose a name to call me be a bad idea? Like the name you have picked, it means nothing to me.”

Cats, cats, and more cats!
 

Jakii responds, "They’re very intelegent, sophont dogs. But they think like dogs, and they have a sense of humor. Sherman moded them several hundred years ago, but they still act like dogs.

“Sherman, on the other hand is far older and much more intelligent than most people.”

Cats, cats, and more cats!
DangerousThing

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