Jane L King

Jane King is a full-time faculty member at the University of Phoenix, where she teaches online.  She is also a retired business lawyer.  After many years, she has returned to writing fiction.  She is also an avid animal lover—with cats being at the top of the list.  This is the second story in her series, The Ten Lives of Hector, The Cat!  The first story was published in Volume 3, Issue 6 of Impspired Magazine

The Second Life of Hector, The Cat!

Hector Time Travels to Mars

Have you ever done something dangerous or something that excited you at the same time that it frightened you?  Do you remember that feeling of fear before taking the final step?  And, the next time?  Did you do it again?  If you can relate to this, then, you know exactly how Hector felt when he thought about taking another journey into the unknown. 

Of course, cats are much more naturally courageous than humans, and due to this, humans believe them to have nine lives.  This is because cats are always curious.  Have you noticed?  And, it is this curiosity that leads them into danger.

One of Hector’s nine lives had been used for his journey to ancient Egypt.  Other travels, of course, had not resulted in the loss of any of his nine lives.  They had been enjoyable journeys, with interest and pleasure, but without risk of his life.  If the truth be told, Hector was now at the point where he quite liked the thought of doing something bold again. 

After Hector had returned from his trip to ancient Egypt, he spent many lazy afternoons  with his cat friend, Charlie, who was an expert at relaxing and only exploring on a low-key basis.  One of the places Charlie took him to was the home of Vanilla Butty.  She was a smallish, sandy-colored ginger cat with only one eye; she also had an injured back leg that she pulled along after her.  Because Butty’s humans were not at home, Charlie asked her to transform herself so that Hector could see her in her time traveling guise.  When she did this, she had a patch over one eye.  She also had a peg leg.   She was dressed in pirate’s clothes, with a pirate’s hat, and had a green parrot on her shoulder.   

Hector was amazed and very complimentary, and exclaimed, “How wonderful, Butty!”

“My name is actually Captain Vanilla Butty, Hector.”

“It’s obvious that you’re a pirate, Captain.  I can imagine that you have had many adventures on the high seas. Is this true?  Do you time travel often?” 

“Yes, I do, but not as much as in the past.  I always time traveled to the same time in history, the 16th Century.  I was one of a handful of female pirates, and the only cat pirate.  I loved the excitement of it.  Having one of those beautiful ships to command, and taking gold from the Spanish ships to help all of the animals who had difficult lives during those days.  I can’t tell you how exhilarating it felt to be on the open seas, in the middle of nowhere, with only water all around me.  And, then, one day, land would appear on the distant horizon.” 

Captain Butty continued to talk, and Hector could not have been happier. 

“After many years of time traveling in this way, on one particular day, as we approached a Spanish ship, I had a premonition that something was not quite right.  It was a trap, and I was lucky to escape with my life.  I lost the use of one eye, and one of my legs was injured in the skirmish.  As I told you, though, I did not stop time traveling all together after this, although not so often.”

At this point, Captain Butty’s humans arrived home, and she quickly transformed herself back into their quiet ginger cat.  After being greeted by the humans, Charlie and Hector took their leave.

Later in the day, when Hector was resting at home, he realized that Captain Butty had inspired him to travel again, with the specific goal of finding adventure.  On one beautifully sunny day, then, Hector jumped onto Sheila’s desk, and climbed onto the dictionary.  As he felt the warmth of the sun, he drifted into a deep, deep sleep.

******

“Who are you? Who are you?  Wake up!  We demand an answer.  You have intruded into Catopian airspace.” 

Hector heard these words, as he gradually came to from his journey.  He saw that there were two large black cats, wearing spacesuits who were staring at him.  They were holding phasers aimed at him.  He could see that he was in a spaceship.  His blood surged, and he felt a wave of complete excitement.  He then quickly came to, and spoke to them. 

“I am Hector, The Cat.  I mean you no harm.  I have time traveled from England.  I am an explorer and an adventurer.  Where am I?” 

One of these cats said, “You are in a spaceship in the Catopian airspace.  We intercepted your journey to Catopia.” 

“Catopia?!  Where is that?!” Hector asked. 

“It is a planet in the inner solar system.” 

“I am from the planet, Earth,” Hector said.  “I don’t remember a planet called Catopia. 

“Catopia was formerly known as Mars,” he was told. 

“Oh, yes, I know about Mars.  But, how is it possible that there is life on Mars?!” 

“That is a long story, which we can’t share with you until we are sure that you can be trusted.”

“But, if Mars does not have life on it in my time period in history, what time period is this?” 

Once again, the Catopians told him that they could not give him any information until they were sure he was not a spy.  They told him that they would take him to Catopia, where he would be questioned. 

At this point, he was left in a small locked room in the spaceship with a porthole.  Shortly afterwards, the ship broke out of its orbit and began to gradually descend to the ground.  It was during the day, and as the ship descended, he could see trees everywhere below.  It was like a luscious green carpet.  He could also see the sun and mountains in the distance.  The light was slightly misty, with a red tint to it.

As they descended closer to the ground, he noticed flat futuristic-looking buildings.  One building was covered with solar panels, and had a network of pipes leading into it from the outside.  He would learn later that these pipes carried oxygen and water into the building.

The top of one of the buildings opened up, and the spaceship gradually descended into it.  When the ship was safely docked, the two cats took Hector to an interrogation room.  Several minutes later, the door was unlocked, and two official looking cats entered the room.  They took seats across the table from him.

“Welcome to Catopia,” one of them said. 

“Thank you,” Hector said.  “I want to assure you that I mean no harm.  I have time-traveled from Earth.” 

“Yes, we have been told that,” one of the cats said to him.  “We need to determine that you are telling the truth.”

Over the next several hours, these two policats interrogated Hector, until finally they were won over by his kindness, decency, honesty, and just overall friendliness.  They knew that he meant no harm, and told him they would make a recommendation to the Council that he be allowed to stay for a visit on Catopia.  He thanked them very much. 

During the interrogation, Hector had managed to discover that the Catopians were living in the 22nd Century, precisely 2162.  This was the only information the policats would give him.  They told him he would learn more if the Council agreed that he could meet with them. 

******

The day after he arrived on Catopia, Hector was taken to appear before the Council of Cats.  This was the governing body for Catopia.  There were 20 distinguished looking cats sitting at a round table.  Hector learned that each of these cats represented one geographical area of Catopia.  They had been voted for by the cats in each area. 

As Hector learned from the Council Cats, in the 21st Century, although many humans  worked to reduce pollution and waste, climate change continued to cause the planet Earth to warm up, and to disturb the balance of all life. Later in that century, then, cat leaders and scientists joined together to discuss the possibility of using cat time traveling skills to leave Earth, and to create a new home just for cats. They began by exploring the possibilities in the inner solar system for another place to live. They unanimously decided on Mars.

It was determined that Mars was the best candidate, because trees could be grown to produce oxygen and water which would sustain cat life.  This was a tremendous undertaking, but with a great deal of planning and implementation they had managed to establish a base on Mars, and to transport cat experts to it.  Once there, they gradually created a new world that was habitable.  After that, cats were able to use their time traveling skills to leave Earth and to move quickly through time and space to Mars.

There was a lot of thought given to this new world, and how perfect it could be.  This is why it was renamed Catopia.  Of course, cats instinctively know how to live a balanced life, and so, it was not too difficult to create a society that allowed cats of all kinds to live peacefully together.  Hector learned that within the buildings, there were many levels, and cat-sized rooms, for all of the cat activities.  Underground as well, they had built tunnels to give cats the opportunity to explore and to branch out and to create more buildings around the planet. 

Before the cats settled Mars, humans had explored this planet more than any other, sending many spacecraft there.  This was how humans finally discovered the cats on the planet.   For many years, Catopians had been able to create a stage because the spacecraft always landed in the same place and then explored from there.  Unfortunately, a mistake was made.  A sighting was made of a group of Catopians on one of these missions.  This had left the Catopian leaders with no choice but to make contact with humans to try to negotiate a way forward for humans in space.

It took many hours for Hector to learn about the catistory of Catopia, and the eventual movement of many human beings away from Earth and out into the inner solar system.  Cat leaders on Catopia had been instrumental in this movement. They had created a technology based on their powers of time traveling, which they shared with humans to a very limited degree.  They did set conditions, though, with humans before they would help them.

One of the conditions of the migration of humans was that everyone would have an equal opportunity to migrate, without regard for nationality, religion, race, or any other characteristics.  No weapons (with the exception of phasers, which stunned only) were allowed; and all disagreements would need to be resolved by negotiation.  Any humans who were unable to comply with the basic rules of kindness, respect, and honesty in the inner solar system would be sent to asteroids in the Asteroid Belt.    These humans came to be known as Hegos. 

After many humans left Earth, Catopians and humans worked together to restore Earth to its former balance.  They had stopped climate change, reduced the amount of waste, and restored all of the rivers, oceans, forests, and the atmosphere to their original pure state.  Many humans continued to live on Earth.  It was also used as a place to travel to enjoy its beauty and all of the animals, flowers, trees, rivers.  It now was the crowning star of the solar system, with its beautiful blue appearance.  (Imagine if you or I could travel to Earth after its transformation?  Are you similar to me in that you imagine how wonderful it would be to have our own planet cared for in such a special way?)

After a long meeting with the leader cats, Hector was escorted back to his room for a rest.  In his room, he had an ample supply of food.  The Catopians had managed to produce a special type of food that contained all of the nutrients required by cats, but without meat.  Hector loved this food. The food was all different colors and flavors.  Hector was in Cat Heaven!   

******

As he was napping, though, after his meal, on his comfortable bed, Hector awoke to the sound of a siren, and a flashing light in his room.  This was followed by an announcement about an emergency: “Calling all CERP!!! Calling all CERP!!! Emergency Plan ZZZZZZ is now operational!”  This message was repeated over and over again for five minutes.  Hector was curious about its meaning.  His fur—and especially his tail—did fluff up somewhat because he knew that danger might be close. 

It was some hours later when two guard Catopians appeared at his door.  They took him back to the Council chambers, to meet with the Catopian leaders.  One of the leaders explained to him that one of the tribes of Hegos based on Ceres in the Asteroid Belt called Antidecs were threatening to invade Catopia, and to take control of the inner solar system.  The leaders were aware that the Antidecs had been working to undermine the way of life created by the Catopians, by infiltrating computer systems.  They did not realize, though, that the Antidecs were also developing weapons. 

As they explained to Hector, they were impressed by his stories of his travels, and especially, by his trip to ancient Egypt in which he had negotiated on behalf of the Pharoah of Egypt with the Nubians.  They thought that perhaps he might be willing to undertake a mission to meet with the leader of the Antidecs, called King Ivan.  Because Hector loves a challenge, he readily accepted this mission.  Hector was a negotiator and not a fighter.  This was always his thought:  “What if we could just convince the person that they should do the more decent and honest thing?” 

When he returned to his room and started to plan his approach, he thought that he would need help from a new friend who would fight if necessary.  This was Captain Butty, who he contacted through space to ask her to come to Catopia.  Captain Butty almost immediately arrived, and told Hector she needed her old side kick, Rose, the Ferocious Chihuahua, to help her. 

As you may recall, cats need to take special steps to help dogs to travel through space and time.  Captain Butty concentrated very hard to find and transport her friend.  When Rose arrived, it was obvious that both of them were excited to undertake this mission, and to get Hector safely in and out of Ceres.   Hector had been told that he needed to go alone.  This was a condition of the negotiations.  He would be transported through space and time to this place.  Captain Butty and Rose, though would fly to Ceres in a spaceship to be available if necessary.

When Hector arrived in the palace on Ceres, he was met by human guards, and escorted to a spacious room in the palace, with a huge desk, and a man sitting behind it.  The walls were covered with photographs of this man, and the flag in the corner contained his likeness.  The man was large with dark brown hair and a beard.  He was pale, with small dark piercing eyes, and looked unpleasant.  He was dressed in regal clothes.  He had a crown on his head.  Hector bowed to him.  The man looked at him, and said, “Welcome to Ceres, my name is King Ivan.”  Hector replied, “I am pleased to meet you, your royal highness.”

The first hour or so of the meeting was quite pleasant, and Hector enjoyed listening to the King share his exploits from Earth.  He had been a great leader there with many followers and had taken over several countries without war because, as he told Hector, people loved him so much.  During their meeting, servants entered and continuously supplied them with wonderful food and drinks.  Hector was impressed with the geniality of the King, and felt that he could definitely negotiate with him. 

As they began to talk, though, about the threats to the peace of the inner solar system, it became clear that the King would not make any concessions.  “You have to understand, Hector, that I can’t live like this.  I’m too good and too valuable to be closed away millions of miles from the main activities of the inner solar system.  I long to return to Earth.  That planet is just sitting there without purpose.  Imagine how much I could accomplish if I were there?!” 

At this point, the King seemed to become transformed into a quite frightening human being.  Hector felt that he might not be able to convince the King to negotiate.  (He had been given permission by the Catopians to send the King and his followers to a smaller asteroid, Hygiea, but that would never satisfy this self-obsessed human who only wanted more and more power over others.) 

As much as Hector always wanted to believe the best about others, he was starting to see the reality of this situation.  It was at this point that the King ordered him to be taken away and placed in the dungeon of the palace.  Hector was in trouble.  Would he be able to survive? There was no doubt that Hector’s curiosity had lead him to a dangerous situation.  He was left in the dungeon without food or water, and with a slowly-decreasing air supply and could not possibly survive for very long.

Hector, though, was always resourceful, and he knew that Captain Butty and Rose, the Ferocious Chihuahua, were in a spaceship close to Ceres.  The challenge was how to contact them.  For this, he would need his distant cousin from Egypt: Professor Topsy Turvey.  Although the walls were very thick, he sat quietly and used all of his cat powers to contact his cousin.  Before long, he found her and told her he needed her help. She said she would contact Captain Butty and tell her to implement Plan B to rescue Hector from Ceres.  Within an hour, Hector could hear the alarms throughout the palace, and knew help was on its way. 

While Hector was in touch with his cousin, he asked her to investigate the King to discover anything about him that Hector might be able to use to convince the King to negotiate rather than to take him over by force.  Within minutes, she found something amazing.  When the King was a child, he had made friends with a baby elephant.   The King was such a difficult boy that he did not have any friends.  He was known as Ivan, the Angry Boy, by his teachers.  His parents, though, loved him and did everything they could to make him happy.

They had taken him to an elephant sanctuary against his will, and it was there that he had met Angel, the baby elephant. She headed right for him, and they seemed to become friends.  After that, the King spent as much time as possible with Angel, until one day, she disappeared.  And, he was told that she had left this world for a better place.  He was inconsolable and began a course of bad behavior and unkindness to others that simply increased as he aged.  Of course, all cats know that animal spirits exist in different dimensions of space, and Hector had the idea to find Angel and to bring her to the King.  He left this with Professor Turvey to achieve, knowing that if anycat could do it, it would be her.  

After several hours in which Hector grew weaker because the air in the room had decreased almost to nothing, finally, Hector heard the door being unlocked and opened.  And, there stood Captain Butty with her phaser held like a sword.  She quickly released Hector, and carried him out of the room and laid him on a table in the next room.  Gradually, Hector regained his strength, and was able to ask Captain Butty what had happened.  Captain Butty proudly proclaimed that she and Rose, the Ferocious Chihuahua, had won the day.  Hector was truly grateful.  (Hector had the thought that this would make another wonderful story for Captain Butty to share.)

Hector and Captain Butty then made their way to the King, who was captured and being guarded by Rose, the Ferocious Chihuahua.  Rose, of course, had totally frightened anyone who came near the two of them as they made their way through the palace to capture the King.  Although it is true that she is tiny, when she bared her teeth and growled and barked, there was no cat, human or other animal that would stand and confront her.  They all ran for their lives. 

Before they reached the King, Hector asked Captain Butty to give him some time to work on a punishment for the King.  Hector then contacted Professor Turvey.  She had found Angel, the baby elephant, and was transporting her to the palace.  After a short time, Angel appeared, and the two chatted about life in the dimensions

Angel remembered the King as a boy and said she would be pleased to see him again.  The two together then made their way into the palace room to find the King.  When the King saw Angel, his eyes watered for the first time since he had lost her as a boy.  He ran to her, and they had an emotional reunion.

Hector began to speak with the King.  He told him that he and those followers who truly loved him would be required to transfer to a smaller asteroid, Hygiea.  The Catopians maintained much more surveillance and control over human life on Hygiea.  Angel, though, had agreed to stay for some time with him, and after that to visit him often.  The King agreed.  Finding Angel again had changed him he said.  He was sorry for everything he had done that had caused pain or distress. 

******

At this point, Hector said he would love a spaceship ride back to Catopia.  So, the three comrades transported themselves to the ship, and returned to Catopia.  Along the way, in the great vastness of space, Hector was able to see millions of stars, including his home planet, Earth, as they approached Catopia.  Earth was spinning in space, and was a beautiful blue color.  He longed at that moment to go home again.   

When they arrived in Catopia, all three were greeted as heroes, and were given a grand party.  There was a ceremony in which the three of them were given medals.

Rose, the Ferocious Chihuahua, though, needed to return home quickly.  Her special human would be waking up soon, and if she were not there guarding the fort, it would cause a great deal of distress.  Hector thanked her from his heart for her help, and Captain Butty transported her friend back to her home in England.  As for Hector and Captain Butty, they enjoyed the party, with Captain Butty telling everyone about her exploits and Hector questioning and listening to all of the Catopians, learning as much as possible about them.  Learning was one of Hector’s greatest delights!

********

“Hector! Hector! It’s time for dinner!”  Hector was sleeping soundly on the dictionary in Sheila’s study.  “Hector!  Where are you? It’s time for dinner!”  He slowly awoke, and heard Sheila calling him.  Home again!  How wonderful!  But, Hector was thrilled all through to the tips of his tail, whiskers, and ears with his latest adventure.  Who would ever believe him that he had visited Catopia, and had almost lost his life in a dungeon.  As he reflected on his experiences, he thought to himself, that was my second life!  I must be more careful in the future.  (Do you believe this is possible for Hector to do?  After all, he does still have seven lives!)

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