The Farther One Travels

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Tri-Galactic Trek, December 2019


“Electricity sparked between the captain and the alien eel again, and this time Jacques felt sure that he had somehow shared the image from his own memory with the alien in front of him.”

The alien probe gleamed like a star, small and bright, on the Initiative’s main view screen.

“Can we get closer?” Captain Pierre Jacques asked.  The Sphynx cat’s pink ears skewed to the side, betraying his excitement.  The Initiative was in deep, unexplored space, and the presence of an artificial object of any sort implied an entire civilization that must have created it.  An entire civilization that the cats and dogs of the Tri-Galactic Navy had never encountered before.  Captain Jacques loved nothing more than first contact missions. Continue reading “The Farther One Travels”

Rapscallions

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in What the Fox?!, March 2018


“The chicken-alien was easily four times Lt. Vonn’s current size, and even if the puppy could knock away its blaster, those talons and beak looked fierce.”

Lieutenant Libby Unari, a black cat and science officer with a focus on botany, had a tray of biology samples in her lap — cuttings and sprouts, planted in soil samples — taken from a forest moon.  The moon itself hung like a green star in the rear window of the shuttle craft, receding into the distance as they flew away.

“That was a very peaceful away mission,” Captain Pierre Jacques meowed.  The pink-skinned Sphynx cat didn’t usually accompany away teams down to previously unexplored planets, but he’d made an exception for this forest moon.  “Why, I don’t think I’ve felt that relaxed since I was a kitten!  I should get off the bridge of the Initiative more often.”

Lt. Unari’s black triangular ears skewed.  “I don’t think it was just the break from your daily routine…  There’s something very strange about some of these plants.  Continue reading “Rapscallions”

Katelynn the Mythic Mouser

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Necromouser and Other Magical Cats, September 2015


“…Katelynn pounced on the yellowed pages. She nosed and pawed, flipping through the pages, until the book lay open to the illusion for Hydra.”

Jenna was almost asleep when she felt the weight of a cat plop onto the end of her bed.  She turned on the lamp on the bedside table and saw Katelynn, her aunt’s dirt-brown tabby, sitting on the bed’s patchwork comforter.

A tiny mouse hung by its tail from Katelynn’s mouth, twisting and squirming, desperate to get away.

“Oh!  Katelynn, thank you!” Continue reading “Katelynn the Mythic Mouser”

Encounter at Hoppalong

by Mary E. lowd

Originally published in Lost In Time, October 2019


“Usually, LeGuin was a shy cat. He didn’t let romance or sudden impulses overcome him. He felt more comfortable with computers and machines than with other cats and dogs.”

The starship Initiative glided through space, the technological culmination of centuries of work done by uplifted cats and dogs from Earth.  The graceful, swooping lines of the ship’s exterior twinkled with light from within, where the ship’s crew lived their lives.  Dogs and cats worked side by side, exploring the universe, searching out other species, and seeking the humans who had left them behind. Continue reading “Encounter at Hoppalong”

Jumping Jellyfish and Singing Salmon

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, April 2023


“…if Trugger could summon fish and birds with his words and Jenny could control the movement of water with her mind… what could Kipper do? Did she have any magical powers in this strange, impossible land?”

Kipper placed her gray tabby paws on the metal orb.  It felt smooth and cool against her paw pads.  Jenny was explaining everything that she and the other otter scientists had learned about this particular, mysterious relic that they’d found in one of the deepest, most thoroughly locked and booby-trapped rooms in the ancient octopus base on Europa.  Trugger sounded fascinated.  But all Kipper wanted to do was touch it.  She felt compelled, perhaps by feline curiosity.  Perhaps by something intrinsic, something sinister about the orb.

“What are you doing?” Jenny asked, grabbing Kipper’s arm with a webbed paw.  “We don’t know if it’s safe!” Continue reading “Jumping Jellyfish and Singing Salmon”

Skin of Reflection

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Tri-Galactic Trek, November 2021


“At home on Ursa Minuet, Grawf had been a commander, but in the Tri-Galactic Navy exchange program, she was an ensign.”

Grawf awoke from her long sleep, yawned widely, and lumbered out of her cot and over to the window.  Her ursine reflection hovered ghost-like over the black field of space, a bulky, brown-furred bear in plaid pajamas, dotted by pinpricks of starlight.  She wondered where the starship Initiative had flown to, what wonderous places had been explored without her, during her hibernation. Continue reading “Skin of Reflection”

Clever Hansel 2020

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, March 2023


“…he felt the upgrade chip click into place. And instantly, everything grew a million times more complicated.”

Engleine hesitated with the upgrade chip mere millimeters from the docking port in her beloved Hansel’s head.  His mechanical ear flicked, and he said, “You stopped.  Why?”

“Are you sure you’re ready for this upgrade?” Engleine asked.  Her own conical ears — a biological mirror of his mechanical ones — had flattened behind her long head.  She shuffled her hind hooves on the floor, and her keratinous hoof-fingers tightened on the upgrade chip that would push Hansel — her dance partner and best friend — from the seeming-sentience that had fooled her into believing he was fully his own person into an actual sentient robot. Continue reading “Clever Hansel 2020”

The Rocky Spires of Planet 227

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Exploring New Places, July 2018


“Captain Jacques hoped these spires were the remnants of a long-ago civilization. He longed to search for signs of that civilization and learn about what kind of creatures could have once lived here.”

Captain Pierre Jacques sniffed the air on Planet 227.  It was dry and sweet, very still in his whiskers, and chill on his bare pink skin.  None of his science officers had mentioned being cold, but then Captain Jacques was the only Sphynx cat in his crew.  Everyone else had fur under their Tri-Galactic Navy uniforms.

“It’s exhilarating!” Captain Jacques said, eliciting a polite but distracted nod from the nearest officer, a junior scientist tabby who was busy scanning the unusual red-brown rock clusters with a uni-meter. Continue reading “The Rocky Spires of Planet 227”

On the Difference Between AI Cats and Actual Cats: A Love Story

by Daniel Lowd and Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, February 2023


“Because even malicious AIs want to be liked. And people like cats.”

They Might Be Cats:  A Lecture on the Prevalence of Simulated Cats in Media (Social and Otherwise!) by renowned feline expert and AI trainer, Professor Andrea Middon

(Closed captioning provided by Mew Mew Twinklepaws.)

* * *

[Prof. Middon enters stage left.  Walks to the middle of the stage, nodding and waving at the audience (who are not visible on the screen).] Continue reading “On the Difference Between AI Cats and Actual Cats: A Love Story”

The Dragon’s Mask

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, January 2023


“Faye smiled tentatively, settling into this new reality they were creating together out of lies, a reality where what she’d seen — a true dragon’s face, staring into hers from only inches away, begging to be seen, understood, and maybe loved — was only an illusion.”

Bark broke from the trunk of the sharillow trees in large, curved chunks, littering the forest floor along with their fallen leaves.  Storakka sifted through the pieces at the base of the biggest tree she could find, her talons running over the slightly curved sheaves of wood, rough on one side and smooth on the other.  Finally she found an oval one she liked, about the same size as a human face. Continue reading “The Dragon’s Mask”