Stefon Mears recently published his thirtieth novel, including the Jumpstart Duchy series (epic fantasy), the Cavan Oltblood series (epic fantasy), the Rise of Magic series (space fantasy), and the Spells for Hire series (urban fantasy). Stefon earned his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from N.I.L.A., and his B.A. in Religious Studies (double emphasis in Ritual and Mythology) from U.C. Berkeley.

The Captain's Cat by Stefon Mears

Carbine, the captain's cat. A magnificent white tomcat. Defeater of the Tabby of Beta Seven. Yanked cruelly out of sleep by an invasion of flashing noise monsters. Carbine vows to end them.

The Quick Sail, a merchant ship at high space. Hit and boarded by pirates. The crew, fighting back and losing. They need help. They need someone to turn the tide. They need…

The captain's cat.

The Captain's Cat, a light, funny science fiction novella full of action and adventure. Fans of cats and space opera, don't miss this one! From Stefon Mears, author of Stealing from Pirates, Twisted Timelines, and Longhairs and Short Tales, a Collection of Cat Stories.


Stefon Mears writes as many cat stories as I do. Many of those tales (tails?) are in the Year of the Cat volume. He's finally committed a full-length cat novel, named The Captain's Cat, after the cat, after all. A full-length space adventure starring a cat. What else do you need to know? Oh! That this one is exclusive to the bundle as well. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch





The worst sound in the world jerked Carbine awake.

Oh, it was loud.

Louder than those giant box-movers. Louder than any of the two-legs yelling at each other. Even louder than Scruffy, the heavy two-legs who'd sneak Carbine treats when no one else was looking.

Scruffy could get very angry at the other two-legs. And when she yowled, the sound came close to hurting Carbine's sensitive ears.

But this.


This shrieking-buzzing-honking thing.

Yanked Carbine right out of one of his favorite sunbeam dreams. And it had the audacity to keep going.

Shrieking-buzzing-honking. At volumes that made even Scruffy's worst tantrum sound like a gentle, happy purr.

And it was flashing an angry light, too.

Well, this would never do. Not at all.

Carbine would teach that stupid shrieking-buzzing-honking thing a lesson.

Hard to pinpoint where it was coming from. Too loud. Too sharp. Might be everywhere at once.

No. No it was coming from somewhere up the walls…


That light. Oh, that flashing light. It was high up on the wall. And it was making that horrible sound.

Home probably would've thought it was too high for Carbine to reach. But Home didn't know how high Carbine could jump. When he felt like it.

And that shrieking-buzzing-honking thing, that was what Carbine called serious motivation.

So Carbine rolled to his paws. His sleek, fluffy white fur all rumpled and out of sorts from what had been an excellent nap.

No time even to bathe. Not with that evil racket blaring.

No. Lesson time for the noisy flashing light.

Carbine jumped down from the big, comfy bed he shared with Home.

He trotted across the smooth floor. Too smooth. Full-out running was a bad idea in most of Carbine's domain. Too easy to do something no one should ever see.

Cats did not slip. And anyone who said otherwise was a dirty liar. And needed a lesson in manners at least as big as the one Carbine had planned for that blaring flashing thing.

The blaring flashing thing, though, it was high up the wall.

Very high.

Higher than even Carbine could jump. Which was pretty darned high, if he said so himself.

Carbine winced at the foul racket as he considered his options.

There was the shelf that Home sat at, with his boxes. The skinny little things he wasted so much potential petting time on.

That shelf was a good height. And unless Carbine was mistaken he smelled…

He withheld judgment until he leapt up. A leap so quick and elegant that he was almost sorry there were no witnesses.

But yes. Home had left in a hurry, leaving some juice behind from his last meal. Meat juice, from some strange animal that wasn't chicken, but smelled and tasted a lot like chicken anyway.

Carbine almost left the juice where it was. Home didn't eat enough. Home might need that juice later…

No. Carbine needed it now. For the jump.

Because putting an end to that flashing blaring light, and that shrieking-buzzing-honking sound, well, that had paramount importance.

So Carbine spared a few precious seconds to fortify himself with tasty not-quite-chicken juice.

Too well cooked, and flavored with some kind of boring plant life that didn't deserve to grace the flesh of a prey animal.

But a good taste nonetheless.

Carbine turned and surveyed this portion of his domain.

The offender sat high up on the wall. Past the part of the wall that opened whenever Carbine needed it to.

But the offender crouched close to the six fun shelves.

Home didn't like it when Carbine played on the fun shelves. Knocking over this and that.

Honestly, though, if Home really meant for Carbine not to jump onto those shelves, then he shouldn't have put so many portable and shiny things on them.

No time for play on the fun shelves.

Carbine had a mission. A mission even more important than bathing.

A Top. Priority. Mission.

Carbine moved to the edge of the meal shelf.

Gauged the distance to the fun shelves.

Hadn't changed since last time. Good.

Still. A fairly long jump. Not too long for Carbine, of course. And yet. Long enough to merit proper attention.

Carbine knew well the value of caution. Especially when distracted by evil flashing lights and even fouler horrible sounds.

So he bobbed in place. Checking the distance. Checking the arc. Checking the feel of his muscles.

Yes. His body remembered right. There would be no problems.

Carbine lowered himself. Prepped.


A perfect landing. Of course. Right on the third fun shelf up from the floor. Exactly as he'd intended.


All right.

Since no one else was around, he could admit that the racket and flashing had thrown him off. A little. No more than that.

So yes, maybe his hip bumped that series of smelly old boxes that opened on three sides, revealing a series of many thin crinklies that Home could stare at for hours.

But they just were stupid boxes anyway. So who cared if they ended up at a funny angle? And if maybe one of them fell to the floor with a thump.

After all, the thump was pretty much lost under all the racket anyway. Right?

The point was, Carbine was on the third shelf up.

And from there, easy as wall-opening to go shelf-to-shelf up all the way to the top. Forepaws onto the new shelf, then a hop. Then pick the next spot and go.

Nothing else even knocked over. Which meant, really, that Home would have no right to complain.

If anything, Home should be pleased to share his life with such a nimble, agile wonder as Carbine.

Up here on the top shelf were only three shiny things. The ones Home most valued (after Carbine, of course). Weird shaped things that stood upright. All of them clear enough to see through, but made the world look funny if Carbine bothered.

He rarely did. They didn't smell or taste interesting enough.

Carbine lost a moment sniffing at them all the same. He longed to knock one to the floor.

But the shrieking-buzzing-honking thing would simply not let up.

And it was even louder, this close up. Each shrieking-buzzing-honk hurt Carbine's ears.

It had to be dealt with. Immediately.

Carbine walked to the edge of the shelf.

Yes. A very short jump to it now.

It was small. Perhaps half Carbine's size. Rounded. Looked smooth, too.

Yes. It was big enough. Carbine could do it.

He bobbed three times to gauge the distance. Even for a short jump, caution was called for when he faced a rounded, smooth landing zone.

Carbine jumped.

Almost went over. But caught himself.

Carbine now stood on the flashy noisy evil thing. Winced against its incessant cries.

He proceeded to smack it hard, claws out.

Two. Three. Four times!

It failed to accept that it was beaten. Continued to flash and shriek-buzz-honk.

This called for major action.

Carbine tried to bite it.

It was too wide. Too smooth. No place to sink in his deadly fangs.

It kept up those awful, painful sounds.

Well, claws would have to do the job.

He smacked it several times in quick succession. The same series of blows that had defeated the Tabby of Beta Seven.



Sweet silence.

A moment of happy bliss for Carbine, and a tale for the ages. How he'd overcome…


That thing was still flashing.

Well, then it still had a lesson to learn, didn't it?

Carbine smacked it several more times.

The thing failed to admit defeat. It would not relent.

Fine then.

Home would have to stop whatever he was doing and solve this urgent problem.

Yes, Carbine had silenced the awful beast. But certainly he could not be expected to tolerate that flashing light when he was trying to enjoy a good nap.

Carbine jumped back over to the shelves, and made his way quickly down to the floor.

He turned and trotted for the section of wall that opened whenever he needed it to.

Yes. He would find Home. And Home would make it better.