My New Boss (Crossover with Stargate SG-1)

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My New Boss (Crossover with Stargate SG-1)

Post by EditorElohim » Thu Oct 29, 2020 9:51 pm

Good morning, afternoon or evening to everyone. Although I know I have a fic pending, I encouraged myself to upload this experiment, which would be like a prequel to another one of my fics that I haven't published yet. If everything goes well, it's possible that I'll continue it; fortunately, I don't plan to make it long.

Any doubt you have, like about the Stargate franchise, don't hesitate to ask me.

Enjoy!

LOGLINE: After being arrested for helping Dark Kat, Hard Drive is sent to Alkatraz, where an unexpected ally helps him escape and offers him a deal he could hardly refuse, and would change his life and his perception of the world forever.


__________________________________________________________________________________________



Chapter 1: The Offer.


I had ended up in Alkatraz again, and all because I had allied myself with Dark Kat. How could I have been such a fool? His Creeplings got me out of the Enforcers' prison, yes, but for what? To be a pawn in their stupid plans? To waste all the data of the Defense Center's secrets that I stole on a stupid voice-altering device? The idiot wasn't even smart enough to kill the Swat Kats when he could, it would have been so easy and fast! But no: the giant purple ant-brain wanted to show off, be too melodramatic and make the Megakat City believe that their favorite vigilants had turned into real criminals. What was I thinking?

I wasn't thinking, I repeated myself several times: I was afraid of that idiot in the black cape. Who in Megakat wouldn't do it? The guy was huge, just over two meters tall and with a wide and robust body, he was extremely strong, evil, and as much as I don't want to admit it, intelligent. All criminals in the city was afraid of him: from petty thieves, to slum youth gangs, to organized crime. If you got in Dark Kat's way, you'd better be dead... and if he showed an interest in you, whether as a nuisance or even a mere servant, too. And I found out the hard way: I was now behind bars and with no chance of escape.

At times like this, I think back to my life before I went down the road of crime, when I was seventeen and a high school prodigy, especially in science. Since I was a child I had demonstrated talent with electronics and machines, which had given me the reputation of a nerdy child: this, added to my scrawny physique, athletic ineptitude and the poverty of my family, had slowly led me to the path of crime. Even though I lived in a poor area, thanks to my grades, I had the chance to win a Puma-Dyne scholarship and perhaps get out of poverty. And what did I do when I was seventeen? I threw it all away by joining a gang of juvenile delinquents who took advantage of my technological skills to rob a bank. The worst thing was not that they left me, or that they caught me -I was lucky that time- but that I liked the thrill of stealing. Why the hell would I waste my time studying if with what I already knew, I could get more? I didn't even have to go to a dumb university to learn more things: I would do it with practice.

That's how I left high school and gave up that scholarship; my parents were disappointed, but I ignored them: maybe in the end they wanted that scholarship more than I did... and I was sick of doing things for others: from now on, I would think about myself. When I turned eighteen I was kicked out of the house and ended up living in a homeless shelter. I managed to get a job in an electronics workshop and tried to settle down. I was free: with the little I earned, I paid for my apartment, a few prostitutes and alcohol to spend the weekends, and prepare my next robbery plans. Making the plans, and executing them was almost as exciting as sex.

Almost.

That's how seven years went by, until one night, I came across a briefcase with the Puma-Dyne logo lying on the asphalt a few streets away from my house. I took it and took it with me to check it in my apartment: I was very surprised to discover what would change my life forever. They were plans of a kind of coat that allowed the user not only to absorb a lot of data and connect to electrical or telecommunications networks, but literally to become energy to move through those same networks, and even to have certain electrokinetic abilities. What the heck were those crazy Puma-Dyne people thinking? Whoever the madman was who devised such a thing, I will be eternally grateful to him: the components to build it were not so difficult to obtain, but it required numerous thefts to various places: from electronics stores, textile companies to the Puma-Dyne facilities themselves. Or, I would take the easier way: the black market....

And for that, I needed money: good thing I was an expert at robbing ATMs.

It took me almost a year, a period in which those odious Swat Kats appeared. Between stealing money from several ATMs as well as electronics stores, getting the money to buy the black market parts and tools, building the blissful vest and submitting it to several tests. But finally, I was ready: when I put it on, something changed in me: I acquired not only impressive power and skills but also a greater self-confidence. I was also changing my hairstyle to a peculiar blond Mohawk and my eyes were turning yellowish-orange, but these are cosmetic details that I can't explain and that make me look intimidating and cool, so I don't care. I was no longer the puny nerdy kid who lived in misery. I was now...

— Pss... Kevin.
— Huh?

I shook my head, leaving my thoughts, had anyone called me by my real name? It was someone so lonely that since I became involved as a criminal, I hardly ever heard myself called that. I turned to the source of the voice only to realize that it was completely dark, as if there had been a blackout. I could barely make out his silhouette in the shadows: average height, thin and wearing a trench coat. I heard him pass his arms between the bars.

— Here, it's yours.
— What? -I asked as I took something from my paws; his voice sounded familiar, but I didn't quite recognize it- Who are you?
— If you want to know, check out what I gave you.
— You'll get in trouble for helping me: there are cameras.
— You think I didn't think of that before? See you, Kevin: you have five minutes.

I could hear his footsteps moving away from my cell until the whole place was silent; no one but me noticed the presence of this guy. When the light came back, I was astonished to see that I had my Surge Coat perfectly restored and folded as if it were clean clothes: when I unfolded it, a piece of paper on which it was written fell:

"Go to this address tomorrow at one o'clock in the morning. I’m interested in a business partnership with you."

A business partnership? Really? I had just finished one with Dark Kat, which was a terrible disaster: it was not in my plans to partner with anyone ever again. But on the other hand... my curiosity about that guy was a force to be reckoned with. Besides, no one could be worse than Dark Kat, could they? I calculated that it was a little after two in the morning, so the appointment would be the next day; I also calculated that those "five minutes" were for me to put on my coat and escape before the prison cameras and alarms went off. My mysterious benefactor had given me a small window of opportunity and I didn't plan to miss it: I put on my coat and used it to escape through the power lines to my apartment in less than a couple of seconds.

After a day of rest and evading the Enforcers who inspected my apartment after learning of my escape, I went to the meeting place: an abandoned stretch of a dirt road on the outskirts of Megakat, in the middle of rural surroundings. No car and certainly no person passed by: my only company were the trees swaying in the night breeze, and a solitary wooden streetlight whose light flickered constantly, and was the only source of illumination on that moonless night. I remained there alone and on guard for about five minutes until I heard his voice again coming out of the trees and approaching me.

When the light hit his face, I drowned out a scream. Despite his black sleeveless t-shirt, his leather boots and camouflage pants, I recognized him.

— You? You’re the...!
— Shh... Leonard. My name is Leonard, but I prefer to be called Lenny.
— Lenny is not short for Leonard.
— Leo sounds very stupid and bland, Kevin. Let's meet at Lenny, Shall we?
— Okay, "Lenny." What did you bring me here for?
— To what I left on the note: a business partnership with you.
— Which translated would be... I'll be working for you.
— More like for my boss; the two of us would be partners. -He smiled mockingly; I began to get angry- But I promise you will gain a lot by working with us: technology, wealth and knowledge you could never imagine.
— Uh-huh... And how does your boss plan to do that?
— He has resources that you have no idea about; that even Dark Kat would be amazed to have them in front of you. Besides, unlike that idiot, he's not so melodramatic or wasting his time on foolishness. He's subtle, precise and efficient.
— Mmm... I don't know. -I answered with some hostility- I already went through Dark Kat's bad experience, how can you assure me that with you and your boss it won't be worse?
— Let's see... -he took out a folded paper from his pocket and started reading it- Kevin Stern, born March 15, 3968 in Megakat City, state of West Andreas... excellent grades up to high school... possible candidate for a Puma-Dyne scholarship... And then comes a long list of misfortunes: of robberies to electronic stores, ATMs, drunk arrests... Your parents don't want to know anything about you, you're on the Enforcers' wanted list, and you owe so much on your apartment rent that it won't be long before they get you out of there. -he clicked his tongue with his teeth- I don't see that you have much choice, my friend.

I clenched my fists angrily, but resigned; everything he said was true: my parents and my family had turned their backs on me since I left school and no longer wanted to see me; I had had my troubles in bars and with pimps, they were about to kick me out of work because of my reputation, the money was running out and because of my recent failures, I could no longer pay for the apartment. And the Enforcers were looking for me.

Heck, I had nowhere to drop dead. Crudding Dark Kat. Why did I have to work for you?

— Apart from what you already offer me... I would like to know some things.
— I'm all ears.
— If I join you and your boss... Will I have a place to live?
— It can be arranged; don't worry. And I promise you will live better than before.
— Will I be free to do things my own way?
— You can do the robberies you want in your own way, but you won't use the boss' resources. In any case, if you get caught again, I will help you get free.
— Your boss likes to stay hidden apparently.
— Of course he does. -He smiled- Taking into account his ambitions and his nature.
— And what exactly does he want? The city? -he denied with his head- The state? -He denied again- The... country?

He denied one last time and looked up, pointing his finger, as if to tell me to do the same. I did, and all I could see was a starry sky like I had never seen before: Megakat's light pollution made it impossible to see a sky like that at night. But being here, so far away from the city, the Milky Way looked in all its splendor.
Spoiler:
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“That. I want ALL that, Hard Drive."

When I heard that voice, my whole body, from the tips of my hair to the soles of my feet and the tip of my tail shook with fear. That voice wasn't from the guy I was talking to... or rather, it sounded the same, though distorted, deeper and with a very strange metallic tone. But when that subject lowered his head and looked at me, I was paralyzed with fear: his eyes shone momentarily in a yellowish-white tone before speaking to me again.

“Good evening, Kevin.”

From his left wrist a kind of golden glove emerged, as if it were unfolding from the watch he had been wearing. He pressed a button on his wrist, and to my surprise, a strange, vaguely pyramid-shaped ship of leaden, golden hues appeared beside him. A hatch opened at the side, revealing an interior apparently covered in gold.
Spoiler:
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— W... W... who? WHAT... WHAT ARE YOU?
"I'm the "boss", Kevin." -He said in that metallic voice- "And my name is Li Shou."
— You're... you're a...
"Do you want milk or beer?"
— What?
"Do you want milk or beer? I imagine you're very confused, and I try to be a good host."
— Uh... Milk?
"Fine." -He nodded- "Get on the ship; you and I have a lot to talk about."


__________________________________________________________________________________________


It's a good thing I didn't ask for beer, because if I had, I would have believed that the whole story of this Li Shou was the result of a drunkenness. Between cans of milk that we drank as if we were known forever, he told me everything about him: that he was a kind of alien parasite called Goa'uld that once ruled over a good part of the galaxy for almost twenty-four thousand years, until about fifteen years ago, a group of aliens called "humans" from a planet called "Earth" killed Ra, the "nominal emperor" of his species, and since then, his rule has been in a tailspin until it disappeared about four years ago. He also told me about some aspects of their biology, technology, and behavior, as well as other alien species.

He also told me about the “Stargate”, and its builders. The very idea of a network of wormhole portals throughout the galaxy blew my mind. I was also amazed to learn that many Goa'uld live by the thousands with the help of a device called the "Sarcophagus", and that this Li Shou was actually fifteen thousand years old. Older than our own civilization!

When I asked him how he got here, he said it was by simple chance: he was looking for a safe haven from even more powerful aliens called "Ori" -whom he would tell me about later- and he saw our planet in an ancient database of the Goa'uld portal network, and that it was apparently forgotten. Believing it to be a primitive world, he came here only to discover that it was not only a technologically advanced world, but also one that was highly populated. Sometime later, he told me, he remembered that he had visited our planet before.

But what blew my mind was about the identity of other Goa'uld, especially those called "System Lords", among whom was Bastet, the mother goddess of the kats of antiquity.

— She was one of you too?! So...
"I understand that she discovered them ten thousand years ago, naming her species and this planet "Mye'yu". Just as Ra did with the humans, she enslaved them, scattered them throughout the galaxy, and subjected them to her mercy for five thousand years until apparently there was a rebellion that drove her out of here." -said Li Shou calmly while I was digesting this information next to a can of cold milk- "Thanks to this, you managed to advance technologically, or you would still be in the Copper Age."
— I... can't believe it. If only the Basteists knew... if only the Bhurakistanis knew...
"They would tear their clothes off, calling everyone else a heretic, especially when they found out that I was hosting a human and not a kat." -He scoffed- "Even more so when they learn that their beloved goddess is dead. Ba'al, a System Lord, had her killed with his army of Kull Warriors about four years ago."
— Crud it... You guys are terrible.
"I know... Do you have any other questions about me?"
— If you're a Goa'uld... Did I say it right? -Li Shou nodded- You mean Lenny is a prisoner of his own body?
"Normally, that would be the case: that's how we take our hosts, but I'm different." -Li Shou closed his eyes for a moment- Li Shou and I have a true symbiotic relationship: I agreed to be his host for good. It was... painful at first, but you gain a lot: more strength, better health, improved mental acuity, stamina and agility, incredible knowledge. And you’re never alone.
— I find it hard to believe that you have accepted something like that. -I answer honestly- I mean... it's... weird. And scary.
— I have a terrible life, too, Kevin: people who make fun of me, who look down on me, a family that turned their back on me. If you only knew the effort I have to make to be seen as an idiot and not be noticed.
— I understand...
— In fact, Li Shou went through that too: the System Lords despised him also for being very intelligent.
— Really? How so?
— I could explain that to you later, but he prefers to discuss what you could do by working for him. Shall we continue?
— Ehm... Okay.

Again, Lenny closed his eyes and then opened them, showing a fleeting yellowish-white flash. I learned that this was the Goa'uld's way of implying that he was in control of the body.

We talked a bit about what I would have to do: at the moment it was very little, but more than anything, it would be to use my abilities with the vest to steal information from kat military installations, and from other targets outside the planet, such as abandoned Goa'uld bases, from a group called Lucian Alliance, and even from Earth itself. In return, he would train me in the use of Goa'uld weapons and technology, as well as in both weapon and close-combat techniques. He would even teach me how to pilot the ship we were in, called “Tel'tak”, which was capable of interstellar travel. He would also share some of his wealth with me.

It was a tempting offer: no one, least of all Dark Kat, would have offered me such things in exchange for my cooperation. That purple giant never paid me a single cent, nor did any of his Crepplings give me a measly glass of water, nor did I get any respect. This alien Li Shou, in spite of being someone much older, more intelligent, and possibly more powerful... treated me with some respect, and asked for my help and cooperation in a more... polite way: he even invited me to drink canned milk with him. In spite of this, I sensed that there were things I needed to explain to myself.

— I want to understand this: you want me to help you conquer my planet...
"Uh-huh…”
— To use it as a starting point to conquer the rest of the galaxy.
"Uh-huh…”
— And what about the kats? Will you enslave us like you say Bastet did?
"Of course not: that was the old method of the System Lords... and now all those idiots are dead. I myself criticized almost ten thousand years ago the shortcomings of that system of domination... and they mocked me, marginalizing me for it. I’m looking for something different."
— Like what.
"You may have heard of those conspiracy theories of aliens ruling the world from the shadows.” -I went; those things sold a lot and were entertaining- “Basically, imagine that applied to reality: the Goa'uld ruling over numerous planets in the galaxy, infiltrating the upper echelons of their governments -politics, military, culture, economy, science, religion- while the natives, except for a duly selected elite, are ignorant of this. Eventually, a federal galactic government would be created under Goa'uld rule, where people would live in peace, under my rules and conditions, obviously. And of course, my species would not be on the brink of extinction."
— I see... You're all doing this out of altruism.
"Partly yes, and also to satisfy my ego: those stupid System Lords mocked my idea because it eliminated their traditional savagery inherited from their times in the swamp. I want us to be a civilization, and at the same time, respect the fact that we are parasites. Intelligent, yes, but parasites after all."
— Uh-huh… And let me ask. How do you think you can, with or without my help, conquer the whole galaxy?
"I have woven a veritable network of spying throughout most of the known galaxy over the past ten thousand years: beings of numerous species, and even other Goa'uld, serve me as spies and sources of information and resources. Of course; I have the economic resources to sustain it, but I do not have enough logistical resources to carry out my plan, at least for the time being".
— I guess that's where I come in.
"Exactly."
— How long have you been planning this?
"Ten thousand years." -He replied; I was totally perplexed- "But only in the last seventy years have I been able to speed up the final execution of my plan. Just yesterday."
— Suppose I refuse to help you, What will you do to me?
"If you stand in my way, I will clearly kill you." -I tried to hide my fear in my chills, in vain- "If you decide not to help me and go back to your normal life, no problem: I will only erase your memory of the last twenty-four hours: you will wake up in your apartment as if you had suffered a terrible hangover and you will not remember anything we talked about nor will you recognize me once you see me again." -He sighed and looked at me inquisitively- "But if I were in your place, the decision would be very easy, wouldn't it? We're a lot alike, Kevin: we don't have a lot of options to choose from."

I didn't know much about his case, but he was right: What options did I have? Go back to my usual life and wait for Dark Kat or another more powerful criminal to look for me to be his pawn and then be defeated by the Swat Kats and the Enforcers and thrown into jail? My life was horrible, and possibly partly my fault, but there was no turning back now: my family wanted nothing to do with me, I had no friends, and soon I would have no job or home. And now, someone, literally fallen from the sky, was opening the doors to a new world for me... No: to A GALAXY of possibilities. How could I refuse such a juicy offer?

What about the moral implications of helping an alien conquer my home planet and subjecting my species to an invisible dictatorship? Not to mention the entire galaxy. I thought about it carefully and concluded that... Bah, TO HECK WITH IT! I love my country, my planet and everything, but they're not perfect, so why fool me? And if someone can lead it better, then let him be welcome.

And that someone, without a doubt, was this Li Shou.

— There will be no unnecessary deaths, right? I am a thief; not a murderer.
"Curious; you once tried to kill the Swat Kats."
— You know what I mean.
"I will try to minimize civilian deaths, but if you work for me, sooner or later you will have to kill. Of course; not innocent people."
— I guess I can assume that.
"Good. Any more questions?"
— I'll get my share of the loot, right?
"Of course: I already have enough wealth; you will have a generous share of the robberies you do for me. In addition to everything I will teach you."

That was it: my doubts had been cleared up. I stretched out my arm and passed my right paw over it.

— I'm in, boss.
"Welcome aboard, Hard Drive. This will be the beginning of a productive partnership." -He pulled two cans of milk out of an icebox- "Let's celebrate."



NOTES:

- Li Shou: A OC character, based on an ancient cat god -or goddess- from Chinese mythology.
- Mye'yu: Derived from the ancient Egyptian words myeou and mau, meaning "cat".
- Bhurakistan: A fictitious country of the Kat Homeworld, based on the culture of the Indian Subcontinent. Patent pending RazorHappyCait
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Re: My New Boss (Crossover with Stargate SG-1)

Post by EditorElohim » Mon Nov 16, 2020 8:25 am

Chapter 2: Training.


After accepting Li Shou's offer, I received the key to a new apartment, its address and a cell phone. After returning to my house and picking up some of my things, I moved into that new apartment: it was in a quiet but not so nice part of the city; it had a living-dining room, a bedroom with a balcony, a cleaning room with a washing/drying machine, and a bathroom. It was small and simple, but relatively comfortable and prepared for a single person; in addition, it had water, electricity and gas. The refrigerator and cupboards were full of food and drink, the bedroom closets had some clean clothes and sheets. On a bedside table next to the sofa there was a note next to a fairly simple cell phone.

"I hope you like your new home; don't worry about supplies, you'll get them every week. The rent, as well as the payment of utilities will be on my account. Try not to go out too much or draw attention to yourself so you don't get caught: remember that discretion is our rule. As for the cell phone, do not try to call me; I will call you as soon as I need you. And don't worry: no one will be able to trace it.

Sincerely, Li Shou".


I admit that at first I was not so grateful after reading that note and feeling almost like a pet, but Li Shou was right that I should limit my outings. After all, the Enforcers were still looking for me, and I had to disappear for a while so they would forget about me; at least I had a roof over my head where I could hide and where no one would bother me. I put out the last doubts I had with a few cans of beer before going to sleep.


__________________________________________________________________________________________


In the following weeks, and already at night -Lenny worked for almost ten hours from Monday to Saturday- I went to a real night school where I learned about the current political situation of the galaxy. I also learned something from Li Shou: he was a scientist, specialized in biology and all its branches, as well as sociology and a derivative called psychohistory -something that many of his species despise- as well as enough about engineering and computers to maintain his ships and other technology. In addition to handling several languages.
The classes, as well as the training, took place in some undergrounds galleries under Lenny's house which were accessed by a system of transportation rings in his basement; the galleries were built with the help of special crystals that dug through the ground once programmed and created quite comfortable environments with water and oxygen supply: all based on technology of the so-called Tok'ra. Simply incredible.

The Goa'uld, the Tok'ra, the Jaffa, the Asgard, the Lucian Alliance, the Earth - "Ta'uri", as the Goa'ulds know them - the Ancients, the Ori... Their technology, their tactics, characteristics of their culture, their history, etc. Names unknown to me became familiar: Apophis, Cronus, Anubis, Ba'al, Adria, etc...

I was fascinated by all that, especially the Ancients and the Asgard, who were among the most advanced species not only in the galaxy, but in the known universe. The Ancients had created the Stargate network almost FIFTY MILLION YEARS ago! And it was still working! Holy Kats! I was also surprised to learn that humans were practically their descendants, although as a species and civilization, they were as young as us kats. Even though, those on Earth were fifteen years ahead of us technologically.

But what struck me about the humans on Earth when I learned about them was that their culture was virtually identical to ours; including the languages. When I pointed this out to Li Shou, he shrugged his shoulders and told me that while it was a curiosity, he didn't care. "I don't know the reason for this peculiarity either, but I must admit that it has been particularly useful to me, and it will be useful to you as well. Besides, I like that kind of advanced world. I hate pre-industrial societies." In time, I learned that he was right.

After a while, and after a series of tests to prove my knowledge, physical training followed: he had a very well-equipped gym with all kinds of body-building and cardio equipment, as well as benches, bars, dumbbells, punching bags and spaces for wrestling training. There I became more aware of Lenny's physique: although he was practically my height and weight and not particularly robust, his musculature was quite marked, well developed and athletic, unlike me, who was not very dedicated to exercise in my life. Besides, I could verify that the symbiont gave the host greater strength and resistance: Lenny ran for several hours on the treadmill without getting tired, did more than two hundred push-ups, and lifted more weight than one could expect. Once, I saw him lifting almost three hundred kilos on a bar on a flat bench, showing few signs of effort. I was unable to keep up with him, much less reach him.

On one occasion, during our break from training, Lenny showed me a picture of him from almost three years ago, before he met Li Shou: I was surprised to see that he looked very much like my current state, perhaps a little athletic, but nothing compared to how he looked now.

— Who needs steroids when you have a symbiont?
— Heh heh... Yeah, I guess. -He smiled jokingly as he put the picture away- That's why I wear long sleeves when I'm in public, or people will ask me questions.
— You could say you're trying to impress a chick. -I said mockingly- They'll believe it.
— Maybe... but I prefer to remain unnoticed. I was never good at exercise per se, let alone having a girlfriend. So... it's better that no one notices and they still think I'm a nobody.
— I understand. -that's when I noticed his right arm, he had a tattoo on his shoulder. I didn't notice it until now- Hey, what's with the tattoo? It looks cool.
— Ah... It's the symbol of Li Shou: most Goa'uld have it, and their Jaffa wear it on their foreheads. He convinced me to get it months after I met him: another reason to hide my arms.
— But no kat knows about the Goa'uld, least of all Li Shou.
— Yes, but it never hurts to be cautious. Not for nothing did he survive ten thousand years in the shadows and hidden from other Goa'uld, the Replicators, the Ori, the Lucian Alliance or the Ta'uri.
— I guess. Living in the shadows sucks.
— Sure... But the reward at the end makes you forget about everything else. -he replied before standing up- Well, let's keep training: I'll help you with the flat bench.
— Will you be nice to me?
— We’re training; not playing, Kevin. -he laughed- Let's go.

I admit that Lenny was a bit of a handful during workouts at the gym, but his guidance helped me a lot, motivating me to try harder and harder. And little by little, I saw the results in me, just as a true friendship began to emerge between the two of us, even if we didn't admit it: the truth is that I never had a friend as close as he did in my life, not even in my childhood. Is that what those idiots at T-Bone and Razor felt? Maybe.

Crud it: now I was starting to compare myself to those dumb Swat Kats.

When we had to train in combat techniques, it was Li Shou with whom I interacted: from the little I knew about the Goa'uld, it seemed strange that I could fight, but as he told me, "Living as an outcast within your species forces you to know how to defend yourself” It sounded reasonable.

We would train on a mat in the gym of his lair: he would show me the movements, and then try to get my mind and body to learn them. We repeated those exercises fairly regularly until the end of each class, when the real test came: combat. And I admit that at first, it stunk.

"You need to improve your moves, Kevin." -he said after he knocked me down with ease- "I know we're in accelerated classes, but I'm making it easy for you."
— And you expect me to learn fast?
“Exactly. I hired you as my partner and employee, but what I realized is that you depend too much on that Surge Coat: I need you to be stronger and more agile." -he replied emphatically with his arms crossed as I stood up- "That's why the Swat Kats beat you so easily last time."
— You didn't have to remind me!

I tried to hit him with my fist, but he grabbed it with his right paw, squeezed hard, breaking my fingers and throwing me to the ground. I fell back on the mat, moaning in pain over my broken paw. I could see him approaching with a Goa'uld healing device on his right paw, which he started to use on me: he got down on his knees and brought the device close to my paw, without giving up that authoritative look.

"Another Goa'uld would have considered that a pathetic attempt at insubordination and would have killed you in the most painful way possible." -he said as I stared at him, clenching my teeth- "You're lucky I'm different, and I'm more patient. Besides... that punch could have come off with a little more practice."
— I'll have to try harder.
"That's all I expect from you, Kevin: just like Lenny, and your species in general, you have great potential." -the gem of his device stopped glowing; then I felt my paw was as good as new. Li Shou immediately stood up- "But that's enough for today. It's time to replenish your energies."

By that he meant drinking one of those rare protein shakes or blends that athletes and bodybuilders drink: at least they didn't taste as bad as I first imagined, and I admit they satisfied my appetite. I used to watch my trainer take one of those things, wondering why he was doing it if he was playing Lenny as someone who was better than a normal kat, but I erased those doubts immediately; it was Lenny's body that had to recover from so much training, and Li Shou, as a parasite, was getting nutrients from his host.

I took advantage of that post-training moment to find out a few more things about my boss.

— Can I ask you something else... personal?
"Go ahead."
— How many hosts have you had?
"Mmm... Let me think." -he replied, scratching his chin after he stopped drinking his shake- "I had two Unas hosts, and after that... three human hosts, which changed every three thousand years or so. And finally I had Lenny."
— And only Lenny was a volunteer host?
"Exactly. We usually take hosts by force, selecting those we find most physically attractive; during the period I was Underlord of Yu, I couldn't afford to do things my way. I didn't care anyway."
— So those humans who were your hosts lived through hell in life.
"That's right... I think I explained that to you. And that I killed my last human host after getting into Lenny."
— Why did you select him?
"I watched him carefully as soon as I got here: I guess I saw myself in him. Maybe he wasn't the most graceful physically, or in character, but he had potential." -He took a big sip of his protein drink before continuing- "Besides, I was tired of the old system: I wanted my host to be willing to accept me, to have the same ambitions as me. And Lenny met the requirements: I just had to... polish his body and improve his skills for my purposes."
— It shows. And what do you think of our species as a host?

I was surprised to see how for a few seconds he looked at me severely and then burst out laughing. I barely knew his species, but something told me he was privileged to see and hear a Goa'uld laugh like that.

"Believe it or not, it took me a while to get used to the fact that they have a tail: I felt something rubbing against me from behind and I said to myself "What is that?" And it turned out to be Lenny's tail" -I almost fell backwards when I heard that- "Or that they are covered with hair, or that they call their hands "paws".
— What?
"None of my previous hosts had a tail; the Unas have claws, though not retractable, and humans have some hair. But kats were different from them. I was literally a pioneer: most of the Goa'uld would never have them as a host."
— Why?
“Because if we considered humans as mere breeding stock, other species, like you, would consider them little more than wild animals. They are repelled by the idea of a hairy host."
— You're kidding...
“Hehehe... No: it's true. But I’m more pragmatic: between seventy to ninety percent of known sentient species in this galaxy -or at least those I know- are compatible with us, but the System Lords specialized in both humans and standard hosts who missed a great opportunity." -his laugh subsided a bit and he got some air- "I guess I got a little attached to your species, Kevin. And it helps that along with spiders, cats are my favorite animal."
— Ah, right.

He had told me about cats: a type of domesticated feline that humans kept as a pet, a little smaller than an otter or a raccoon. According to Li Shou, along with "dogs" -domesticated wolves- they were the favorite pet of humans, and humans, if they knew us, would consider us kats as anthropomorphic cats or something like that. The very idea that kats looked like some kind of alien pet seemed strange and somewhat uncomfortable to me, but I ended up accepting it.

The universe is very strange.

"Do you have any other questions?"
— So far, I don't think so, boss.
"Good; then get your stuff together, take a shower and I'll meet you in the Ring Room. I'll take you home."
— Of course.


__________________________________________________________________________________________



Between classes to review my knowledge and physical training, came the engineering and mechanical classes: I learned the basics about Goa'uld, Asgard and Tau'ri technology. I was surprised when I discovered that except for humans on Earth, most advanced aliens used crystals and not silicon-based circuits for their computers; Li Shou told me that in time, I would be able to adapt that technology to my Surge Coat to enter those computer systems and be able to manipulate them.

He also gave me a cell phone from Earth to communicate privately and get rid of the old one; it had some features added by him, but overall, it was still a normal phone. And I say NORMAL for the Earth humans, because for me and the kats it was truly a technological marvel: it was little bigger than a wallet but extremely thin, with no antennas, and above all... NO BUTTONS! Just a touch screen that covered the entire surface and showed full color images with amazing definition.

And what could be done with it... Holy Kats! Not only make calls and send text messages, but take pictures, record videos or voice audios, watch movies, play music, play video games, use multiple "applications", access something called the Internet -which he later explained to me and I was enthralled- Crud! I wanted to test it on Earth! Although Li Shou warned me to guard it with my life, because if the Enforcers or anyone else found it, they would ask me a lot of questions.

The highlight was learning about his ship, the Tel'tak -which was more of a generic name for the type of ship- and how it worked: its power and fuel generator, its engine room, cockpit, controls, etc. In a short time I became familiar with the ship and learned how to operate and maintain it, although I would not fly it yet.

It was one night, already two months after meeting Li Shou, that he made the big announcement: We would go into space and I would see the Stargate for the first time. Although excited, I asked him why, if Phellus had a gate, we didn't use that one. He told me that although he located the gatein the ruins of Katchu Picchu on the outskirts of Megakat City, it was inaccessible, since it was buried several meters below the surface. And for security reasons, he didn't want to take any chances either.

I entered the ship through the conveyor rings and settled in the co-pilot's seat, while Li Shou sat in the pilot's seat and placed his paws on a red orb, which was the command system.

"This is the plan: we will go around the planet, circle the moon and then enter hyperspace to the nearest planet with a gate to our true destination."
— I understand.
"You must pay attention how I operate the ship, so that you can do it."
— I understand, boss.
"Okay, get ready. And enjoy the flight."

Li Shou pressed a few buttons on the control panel and the ship began to take off silently. In a few seconds we were flying over Megakat; at first I was scared to be seen, until I remembered that the ship had a cloaking device. Just thinking about it made me smile from ear to ear, thinking that Dark Kat would dream of having something like this.

But you don't, and you never will, you bloody pusillanimous mastodon.

"I see you’re enjoying it."
— Huh? -I snapped out of it, realizing that I had focused too much on my thoughts- Ah, yeah... It's impressive.
"I guess so." -He answered serenely before smiling enigmatically- "Oh, look, we have company."
— The Swat Kats!

The shape of the Turbokat was unmistakable: the Swat Kats' jet was flying alongside us; we were close enough to see them, if not for the fact that their cabin was polarized. Of course…

What the heck would they be doing?

"They’re probably doing a routine patrol." -said Li Shou, interrupting my thoughts- "Charming."
— Yeah, I suppose so. -I replied sharply- Don't you think...?
“No, it's too easy. Besides, what would Megakat be without its favorite jokers? It wouldn't be much fun."
— Do Swat Kats “fun" for you?
“Sure..." -he replied without hesitation- "It's really funny how Feral gets humiliated at least three times a week, don't you think?"
— Well...
"Anyway, let's get out of the atmosphere."

The ship suddenly accelerated and rose higher and higher, leaving behind that stupid jet and Megakat itself: in less than two minutes, we were in Phellus' orbit, seeing the night lights of much of Muricia. I must say that I was amazed to realize that I was really in space seeing my home world as almost nobody had seen it before: the Tel'tak circled the globe in just over another couple of minutes before going directly to the moon.

The whitish orb that I used to see at night soon turned into a desolate wasteland covered with craters, cliffs and steep mountains under a completely black sky. The ship landed softly on the surface, raising some gray dust. I was enraptured by the lunar landscape bathed in sunlight and the incredible sight of my home planet in the black sky. Everything I knew: my family, my acquaintances, Megakat, the Enforcers, the Swat Kats, Dark Kat... reduced to a mere dot on that blue, green and ochre sphere covered with white clouds.

But it was nothing in comparison to realizing where we had... "landed": almost a hundred meters from MASA's first successful manned moon landing. The abandoned lunar module and the Murician flag were clearly visible. Li Shou smiled condescendingly.

"It's like watching a baby's first steps, isn't it adorable?"
— I don't know if you mean that as a joke.
"Oh, come on: don't take it so hard: we Goa'uld have been traveling through space for MILLENNIUMS, and we take it as routine and even boring. For young species like you, it's an odyssey to even leave their planet.”
— I guess... So what are we doing here? Are we going out?
"It's just a little stop: I thought you'd like to be here before our trip.” -He replied by leaning back on the seat with his arms behind his neck- "And no: we will not go out; I did not put the spacesuits in the ship. We hardly use them anyway; we Goa'uld don't usually visit barren worlds like this one.”
— It makes sense.
"If you already know how to use your smartphone, you can take some pictures of the landscape before you start." -He suggested- "We have a program to follow.”

I did exactly that -the cellphones were easier to understand than I thought- and after taking some pictures, I accompanied Li Shou to explore the ship: he showed me the cargo compartment, the escape capsules -one modified as a bathroom- the engine room, etc... and explained once again how everything worked. After that short review, he took the controls back and took off, leaving the moon behind and entering hyperspace.

From what I understood of hyperspace, it is a kind of dimension that serves as a shortcut for interstellar travel: its interior is like a blue light tunnel of semi-liquid fluid consistency. Seeing it was... reassuring.

"We'll be there in about ten minutes." -said the Goa'uld before releasing the controls to let the ship go by itself- "We're not in much of a hurry."
— Could we go any faster?
"Yes, but as I said, there's no hurry at the moment. Besides, this ship has an alternative system that could take us there instantly, but... I doubt you're ready."
— Explain to me, boss.
"I discovered it thirty years ago while exploring a sector unknown to the System Lords: a graveyard of ships in a completely wiped out solar system. A fairly advanced human civilization... but poor fools: they ended up killing each other and their robots." -laughed Li Shou in a somewhat grim way- "The point is that I found several perfectly functional ships, and with their propulsion systems still intact, that I could learn to understand and apply to my ships: the FTL jump".
— How does it work?
“It basically makes the ship contract at a single point to reappear elsewhere in space.”
— Sounds... unpleasant.
“It is. The first time I used it, I ended up vomiting from so much nausea that I felt... You get used to it in time." -He paused, before continuing- "Although with Lenny I had to go through the same thing... And I found out that you guys have a nasty habit of spitting out hairballs."
— Hahaha... I'm sorry for you.
"Well... no species is perfect." -his gaze passed over the holographic screen of the control panel- "We are about to arrive."

We came out of hyperspace a few minutes later, in front of a planet very similar to Phellus: at first sight, it had a larger continental mass and blue oceans, but the continents were covered almost entirely in green, and the atmosphere had more clouds. After going around the planet and passing by it in shadow, I noticed two things: that the planet had no moon, and that the only lights on the night side were the result of numerous thunderstorms.
Spoiler:
Image
Unbelievable: I was in the orbit of a planet very similar to mine, almost sixty light years away -according to Li Shou- and apparently it was uninhabited. We began to descend, entering the atmosphere: we passed through white and gray storm clouds that left water drops on the glass of the cabin. Little by little we were getting closer to the surface, its details becoming clearer: mountains in the distance, rivers and lakes, and forests everywhere with some clearings scattered around. We landed right in the middle of one of them, being totally surrounded by trees: I stayed almost a minute watching the familiarity of all that landscape until my boss pulled me out of my trance.

"Well, here we are: the weather forecast reports that we will have cloudy skies, with scattered precipitations of dihydrogen monoxide, pleasant 16 °C and a breathable atmosphere of 70% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. Time to take a walk; Lenny will guide us: he already knows the way" -he said before "changing" his shift with his host- Are you ready?
— Without suits? Or some kind of protection? Is it safe?
— Almost all the planets in the Stargate network are perfectly habitable for life forms like ours, Kevin: breathable atmosphere, liquid water, temperate temperature, leftoaminoacid carbon-based life... After all, the ancestors of humans built them, and we have an identical biology.
— Ehm... well.
— I hope your Surge Coat is waterproof. -He scoffed- The weather is a bit humid.
— Worry more about our fur. -I spat at him pretending to be angry as I put on my coat- Or your tail, buddy.

We left the ship without any sorrow or glory, leaving it with the cloak activated, and we began the walk, entering the forest: it had stopped raining, but it remained cloudy and the sun was barely noticeable among the clouds: I still found it hard to accept that I was on another planet when the landscape and everything I saw, the trees, the bushes, the air, the rain, even the insects and birds, were so... familiar, so identical to Phellus. Was the whole galaxy like that? Was the Earth like that? Just hearing the creaking of the branches or the splashing of the puddles and mud as my boots went by still made me shudder; to Lenny, however, it seemed like a simple walk.

— Never been to camp, Kevin?
— Yes... Sometimes when I was a kid. -I answered as we walked along- And I got pretty bored: I'm not a big fan of nature: I'm a city guy.
— I had that feeling; I didn't like camping either.
— Tell me, Lenny, did... did you have trouble adjusting to this? Have Li Shou as a guest inside your own body and share it, traveling to other planets, meeting aliens?
— It took me a while... at first I was too perplexed and scared like you.
— Hey! Who said I was scared?
— Oh, please: don't be brave. -he replied with a sneer- It's a completely natural reaction in situations like this, but you'll get used to it.
— I hope so, or I won't be useful to the boss. Where exactly are we going?
— To where the gate is. It won't be long now.

We arrived at another clearing, where, as Lenny said, the gate was: I had already seen it in photographs and holograms, heard about it in descriptions of the boss, but seeing it in person for the first time...
Spoiler:
Image
Lenny told me to go take a closer look and I did: I felt it with my paws, I looked at every possible detail of the gate itself as well as the stone step platform and the pedestal with buttons called Dial Home Device or DHD. All that device: the stone ring, the DHD, the platform... they were at least ten to fifty million years old, and they were still there unaltered and working.

Holy Kats...

When I returned to Lenny, Li Shou had taken control again, and proceeded to disarm part of the DHD to explain to me how it worked: It was basically a supercomputer MUCH more powerful than all the computers and supercomputers of Phellus together, and they formed a real subspace computer network throughout the galaxy, exchanging information, readjusting the directions by the stellar drift and storing the information -including the matter they must transport, including US- in the control crystals. It was also the source of energy for the gate, and without the DHD, the gate is practically useless.

He also told me some portal precautions like not being in front of them and very close to them when they are activated, and that since it was only a one-way street, I shouldn't use it if it was an exit; he also taught me how to erase the portal's call log to cover my tracks with a device: he specified that I would use it a lot as soon as I could do those missions alone, in addition to memorizing the addresses I had to use. While I was digesting all that information, Li Shou took out his cell phone -also a touch screen phone- and showed me something that left me with my jaw hanging out.

— You created a “cell phone app” that works like DHD?! How?!
“It's more of a remote control; and it's only for emergencies, since it requires a lot of power.” -He replied before putting the DHD buttons on his site- "Well, you know how the gate works, the proper precautions, and how to dial." -He took out a piece of paper from his coat pocket: there was a list of gate symbols: addresses. He pointed to the first one- "We'll go there.”
— You want me to mark.
“That's right.”

I took the paper and checked it before I started dialing; I was nervous every time I pressed a button and both this one and one of the portal chevrons lit up. As I was about to press the center button, I felt chills just touching it: as if I was afraid of doing something stupid. I shook my head, clearing that cowardly attitude from me in front of the gates that -literally- would soon open for me, and I pressed it hard.

And that's when I saw it activate for the first time: the "kawoosh effect", similar to an explosion of water, but which was pure energy capable of disintegrating EVERYTHING I touched, the water mirror... Everything was simply incredible; of course, for Li Shou it was as common as for me to open a wooden door, but he didn't make any mockery or condescending comments this time.

Those Ancients were bloody geniuses. I had to give them credit.

"Ready to cross?" -said Li Shou as he approached the gate- "Or are you still afraid?"
— Let me understand this: when we cross over, this thing will literally take us apart particle by particle... and reassemble us on the other side as if nothing had happened.
"Basically."
— So we'll literally be DEAD for a few seconds.
"Kevin... Just because I'm over fifteen thousand years old doesn't mean I should treat you like a little kid." -he sighed wearily- "But if you are so worried, I will cross first and call you from the other side. You know that radio signals can go both ways."
— It's not nece...

I didn't even finish the sentence when I saw him cross the gate and disappear behind that puddle of rippling water and semi-plastic consistency. I admit it: I was afraid of crossing that thing and ending up dead. But I had come so far in this, and the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint... and above all, piss off Li Shou. And also to disappoint Lenny, who was unknowingly becoming my first real friend.

"We're fine, Kevin." -Li Shou spoke through the communicator, referring to him and Lenny as- "We're waiting for you... If you have the courage.”

Even with that Surge Coat and the rude attitude I adopted every time I wore it, part of my cowardly personality was still there. How could I not be as tough and brave as I intended to be by becoming my alter ego?

No... No more steps back: this is a new era for Kevin Stern... and for Hard Drive.

With clenched fists and firm resolve, I ran to the gate and through it.



Continue.



Notes:

- Phellus is the fictitious name for the Kat Homeworld. It is the result of the combination of the Latin words "feles" (cat) and "Tellus" (Roman goddess of Earth personification; that is, the equivalent of Gaea or Gaia), replacing the "F" with "Ph".
- Muricia: A fictitious country of the Kat Homeworld, based on the Angloamerican culture (United States, Canada, Anglospeak Caribbean, Britain and Ireland), And that obviously, is the nation to which Megakat City and its inhabitants belong. Patent pending RazorHappyCait
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Re: My New Boss (Crossover with Stargate SG-1)

Post by EditorElohim » Sun Mar 21, 2021 11:26 am

Chapter 3: My first trip through the gate.


It is difficult to describe what it feels like to cross the gate, because... well... you disintegrate, and you are reassembled on the other side as if nothing had happened. The first thing I felt was very cold, even with my coat. Heck: I was even covered with frost for a few seconds all over my body and I started coughing. As I could barely open my eyes, I could only hear Li Shou's voice explaining to me that it was normal because of some of the molecular compression during its reconstitution.

When I was able to recover my sight, I discovered that we were inside an old stone building, apparently abandoned and with some dust: the gate and the DHD were inside a simple chamber with very few symbols engraved on its walls.

"This planet used to belong to Sokar." -He explained- "A world relatively rich in naquadah: after Sokar and Apophis died, it was abandoned, surely with the help of rebel Jaffa. It didn't have much population anyway: a few thousand human slaves. There must be some interesting treasures for you in this place".
— Good: I will be able to take some souvenirs with me.
“Of course. But first let's go outside and familiarize ourselves with the planet."

We left the chamber, crossing a long corridor to an antechamber and then to the outside, only to witness a radically different landscape: we had just come out of a huge stone pyramid, with a staircase lined with two obelisks in the middle of a sandy desert that was getting lost in the horizon; it was very hot, to the point that Li Shou had to take off the raincoat he was wearing; instead, I remained with my coat on.

What surprised me most was the fact that this planet had a ring system that cast a peculiar shadow on the surface, and that it had, not one... BUT TWO SUNS! Although they looked smaller than Phellus', they were relatively close to each other. Li Shou told me that being part of a binary system whose stars had a common center of gravity, or that they were of spectral type F, was not the explanation that that planet was a desert precisely: simply that planet was in the right place to house liquid water and life, but close enough to have a warmer and drier climate.

"Forty-nine degrees Celsius." -said Li Shou when he saw a device that read the environmental data- "Charming."
— This place is a crud furnace. And there were people living here?
"Living, working in the mines, worshipping Sokar... Everything." -He pointed in one direction- "About ten kilometers from here are the naquadah mines and the nearest settlement: the villagers extracted the raw ore, brought it here in caravans, and left it as an offering in the gate’s chamber of the pyramid along with other offerings such as food, cloth, and jewelry."
— Are we going to the mines?
"Not unless you're interested in using a pick and shovel to extract raw naquadah."
— You're telling me they didn't even give their slaves advanced tools?
"Megalomaniac gods giving special suits and pneumatic drills to their worshippers? Good joke, Kevin." -he replied without smiling- "No one gives technology and potential weapons to people who might turn against them: no wonder the System Lords prevented their slaves from advancing technologically at all costs, or terraformed planets instead of giving them protective suits. So you kill two birds with one stone: you avoid giving them advanced technology, and you give some credibility to your pantomime of divinity by pretending to be a creator god.”

I couldn't argue with that logical but sinister argument. Heck, it made a lot of sense! Although it did not stop sounding rather cruel and... paradoxical. The dominant species of the galaxy sustained by an almost infinite tangle of slaves working from sunrise to sunset with technology from the Copper or Bronze age? When I heard Li Shou speak again, it seemed he had read my mind.

"Of course, your disbelief is understandable: the truth is that this system of domination is quite mediocre. Besides the pathetic fact that you depend on ragged, ignorant, religious slaves, you have to do that stupid little divine theater a good deal of the time.”
— Something tells me you didn't enjoy acting like a god, boss.
"I hate it." -He replied with a slight grunt- "Although... I've been able to take advantage of it as you'll find out later. Now let's go back to the pyramid, where your treasures await.”
— Right! And here we are wasting our time with nonsense.
"Good said."

We entered the pyramid and explored the corridors and chambers; not before Li Shou checked the traps with the help of his cell phone. Yes: traps; and yes: with his cell phone.

"Sokar was quite cautious... and sadistic." -He explained as we walked down the corridors- "False floors, hidden laser guns, poison gas dispersers, or his personal psychotropic.”
— And you didn't tell me this before, because...
"I'm telling you this now so you don't end up dead... or worse. Anyway, I warn you that we will be coming here more often for your obstacle track training."
— What?
"Don't worry; we're just passing through today." -He said as he walked up to a door, put his paw on a panel and the door opened- "Go ahead, Kevin, take whatever you want.”

My jaw almost fell off because of what I saw inside: thousands of gold jewels, precious gems, silk cloth, decorative ceramics, statues and gold figurines encrusted with jewels... AND ALL WITHIN THE SCOPE OF MY PAWS! I fleetingly thought of the artisans who killed themselves making these things for a tyrannical alien god who barely compensated them for their devotion, but it went quickly: I had too many things to fill my pockets with; fortunately, Li Shou already had two plastic bags on his paws.

— Something tells me that this visit was already in your plans.
"Pretty obvious, isn't it? Take as much as you can; you might need it."
— Why are there so many treasures here? From what I saw in the Tel'tak, the Goa'uld like gold. Crud! The Metallikats would short-circuit to see all this!
"We like gold, but it's more for aesthetics and to help the role of deities. That, and that gold is an excellent electrical conductor; but you should know that."
— You’re right.
"Besides, it is not the offerings that the System Lords liked so much, but the worship itself. The idea of thousands, or millions of lower beings bowing at your feet, seeing you as a powerful and implacable god is like a drug that stimulates and excites the ego. I know, Kevin: I've tasted it myself.”
— I understand... I think I've already filled the bags. -I answered- Is it time to go?
"Yes, we have another destination. And we will go from here."


__________________________________________________________________________________________


The next planet we visited was very different: after crossing the gate, we appeared under a rocky formation that served as a protection; outside it, it rained stormy, the plants were shaken by rain and wind, and there was a constant sound of loud thunder; besides, it was quite dark.

I thought it was only because of the storm, or because it was night, but when I noticed the moment when the lightning flashed to the point of turning night into day, I was impressed. The plants were black! Li Shou told me about the planet: just bigger than Phellus but less dense, with no moon, covered in 90% water with only one continent and some islands, and orbiting a red dwarf star.

There I understood: That's why the plants were black, and that's why the storm was so brutal. And to top it all off, Li Shou told me that they were regulars!

"Add to that that this planet is very close to its mother star, and has no moon: it wobbles too much on its axis. And the year lasts forty local days."
— And one day lasts here...
"Sixteen hours."
— Holy Kats: This world is a nightmare. Why did we come here?
"To have your first business experience, Kevin."
— Wait... There are people living here?!
"Yes. Come on; let's not waste any more time: the rain is just water. It won't kill us."

I stopped asking more questions and followed him, leaving the cave and advancing in the middle of that forest of strange black tropical-looking plants; by then, the rain had subsided a little. My new boss simply told me to take the bags of treasure carefully to make a good deal, not to get too involved with the natives, and not to show nervousness under any circumstances; that although they were harmless, they might see weakness as a sign of distrust. I was nervous at the mere possibility of meeting these people. Were they human, or another species? How did they live? And more so on such an alien planet from my perspective.

We arrived at a small village composed of roughly carved stone buildings, roofed with branches and straw, and surrounded by a stone wall. As we approached, I was surprised by my life, to the point that I would have lost my composure if it weren't for Li Shou, who straightened me out with one blow on his shoulder. They were kats! I was on a planet almost six thousand light years from home... inhabited by my species!

I turned to see my boss with an expression I could only describe as funny.

"Surprised to see your species here, Kevin?”
— Ho... How?
"Descendants of slaves brought here by Bastet between five and ten thousand years ago.” -He replied naturally- "Possibly one of his less important worlds given the environmental conditions.”
— So there are more planets with kats in the galaxy.
“Exactly. A few out there that almost no Goa'uld knows about."
— They seem to live in the Middle Ages.
"More or less; a somewhat advanced Iron Age rather. No more than a million on the planet."
— Are you telling me that these people have been here for almost five thousand years without advancing technologically?
"Look at the planet, Kevin: they have to make a huge effort to get wood, shipping is almost suicidal, and agriculture is difficult. Also, not all the populations implanted by the Goa'uld advance technologically once they're abandoned: some prefer to maintain a primitive lifestyle."
— So... what was Bastet's reason for bringing these people here?
"The same reason all Goa'uld have for bringing slave populations to various planets: to extract resources."
— You mean...
"Naquadah."

Of course. I had learned from Naquadah: a quartz-based mineral that serves as a building material, superconductor and energy source, which was vital to all Goa'uld technology, as well as to other civilizations. Crud! The Stargate itself was made of naquadah, and the Goa'uld had it in their blood! That mineral didn't exist on Phellus, but apparently it was abundant on this planet. And we were going to trade some of my treasures for it.

"Just let me do the talking and stay cool and safe, Hard Drive." -he advised me as we approached- I'll tell you when you can talk. Do you understand?
— Le... Lenny?
No, it's me: Li Shou.
— But you're not using...
The "voice" is not necessary: I just use it to differentiate Lenny and me. Don't worry: he will be watching.
— If so, how do I know when I am talking to Lenny and when I am talking to you?
Are you suggesting that I would try to trick you?
— Well...
I don't need to: we both trust you. Now let's go: it's time for business.
— Sigh... Got it, boss.

We approached the entrance, where we met the guards, who looked at us carefully: they looked healthy, using simple cloth and leather clothes with some metal pieces and simple spears as weapons. Li Shou introduced himself, talking to the guards -in our language!- ; they bowed to him and let us pass.

The village was in one word: rustic. As the rain had subsided a little, there was more movement of its inhabitants in their daily activities. Seeing kats wearing old and tattered clothes, working, walking, buying and selling, and even children playing in the central square, left me perplexed. It was like a journey into the past of my own world... but I was living it now, right there, while walking with my boss wearing much more modern clothes and looking like strangers to these kats, and even more so now that I was under my identity of Hard Drive.

Some people, children included, were pointing and whispering at me, more out of curiosity and fear than out of mockery of my appearance. I ignored them as I continued to maintain a stoic, rude attitude, walking with Li Shou to what seemed to be a sort of mix between market and bar: there weren't too many people, but there were guys who looked like experienced merchants... and tough guys, as there were other pretty big guys armed with spears and hammers.

Good morning... -he greeted naturally- Tarok, good to see you. Are you in the mood for business?
— Mr. Li Shou... -said a robust kat with gray fur and ochre clothes about fifty years old; his expression became more cordial- It's good to see you after so much time. -His gaze was fixed on me.- And who is this man?
— My name is Hard Drive. -I answered with certainty after seeing Li Shou pointing out to me with a nod that he was talking- I am Mr. Li Shou's new employee.
— What a strange name. But you look like a competent and tough guy; you must be if you were hired by Mr. Li Shou. Well? How can I help you?
My new employee, pupil and partner wants to do business with you, Tarok: he has an offer to make to you. -he replied before looking at me briefly- Hard Drive...
— We brought some forgotten treasures that might interest you. -I answered firmly when patting the bags- Which could be yours... in exchange for a good supply of naquadah.
We visited an old pyramid in Sokar, and since it's been dead for a while... we thought you wouldn't be interested in those trinkets.

Without being told by Li Shou, I opened the bag so they could see its contents; the look of those kats when they saw such a quantity of gold and jewels was the same I would see anywhere in Megakat: shining eyes and mouths that tried hard not to drool. I quickly closed the bag to continue the transaction: they had already seen my merchandise; it was time to see theirs. Out of the corner of my eye, Li Shou nodded in approval.

— I see you are interested. -I replied in a slightly overbearing manner without raising my voice- How much naquadah are you offering, gentlemen?
— Let me talk to my associates, kid.

He and a couple of men stepped aside to the back, leaving me and my boss alone, except for two guards who were watching us. A girl with blond hair and prominent bust asked if we wanted to have a drink; Li Shou accepted the offer and asked for two vases of a local drink. After a while, the girl arrived with the order in two wooden bowls and my boss paid her with two gold pieces. I gave my drink a shot: it was a kind of sweet and spicy alcohol, as if it were based on ginger; it was not bad.

— I think things are going well, don't you, boss?
Maybe so: so far you're doing well. -I took a sip of your drink- Just don't get too carried away.
— By the way... You seem to come here often, what do you usually trade with them?
Seeds for growing food: this planet has few indigenous crops, and the crops don't always leave for the next sowing, so I sell them rice seeds, millet and other things suitable for the soil of this planet; in exchange, they sell me the naquadah that they extract from the mines, which doesn't serve them anyway.
— Ah... I see.
Tarok is the de facto leader of this village: he leads the Farmers' and Miners' Guilds: I sell him the seeds and he distributes them to the farmers; he also makes sure that the mines produce enough raw ore and trades with the other settlements.
— Quite a leader, this Tarok, huh?
Of course, he's also a good partner. And my agreements are a fair deal: I’m better than the Lucian Alliance, which literally extorts them by demanding their naquadah in exchange for almost nothing.
— You really are a good guy, boss.
I'm just a good businessman. -He replied before finishing his drink in one gulp- They're coming back; stay alert.

Indeed; this Tarok and his bodyguards returned, and with several young men behind them carrying wicker baskets almost a meter high loaded with a dark gray mineral almost to the top. From the look on those boys' faces, their load must have been heavy.

— My associates and I are willing to trade five baskets of naquadah for your load of treasure, kid.
— We want to see the quality of your product, Tarok.
— As you wish. -he replied, folding his arms- Naquadah here is always of good quality.

Li Shou approached one of the baskets left by the exhausted boys and began to look closely at the contents, caressing portions of the mineral with his fingers; he subtly invited me to accompany him to see his testing of the merchandise. After a couple of minutes, Li Shou nodded silently and turned to this Tarok.

It seems that you have not disappointed us, Tarok.
— I would never disappoint you, Mr. Li Shou: you are one of our best business partners.
However...
— Yes?
Hard Drive, do you have something to say?
— We want double.
— What? -the perplexed middle-aged kat said- Double? For a single load of treasure from a god?
— I can ask for triple, if you like.
— I think you're overdoing it, kid. -he grumbled- You may be Mr. Li Shou's employee, but you are just a novice.

His paw was about to take the bag, but I quickly grabbed it, squeezing his wrist tightly. His guards became alert, pointing their spears at me without attacking me yet. Although it would have been a good time to use the powers of my Surge Coat, I did not: surprisingly I kept my cool and somewhat boastful attitude while that guy looked at me with some contempt, and Li Shou remained calm.

No; it wasn't because I thought that if I got into trouble, I trusted Li Shou to help me. Maybe that would happen... or maybe not. It was because that guy made me angry, but I wasn't planning on getting carried away.

— As you said, Tarok: if I am an employee of Mr. Li Shou, it is because I am competent and tough. -I answered by clenching his wrist a little more tightly and smiling from ear to ear with my teeth showing- I’m someone who has been in the "business" since my youth on my planet, so I am no novice.
— Mmm... It seems that way.
— Well? Do we have a deal? -I let go of his wrist- If not, I can take my treasures and go.
— Sigh... Ten baskets of raw naquadah for the treasures in that bag.
— Make it ten baskets and a barrel of your best liquor for this bag and half the contents of the second one. -I told him; both Tarok and Li Shou raised their eyebrows- I feel generous because this is my first transaction... and I want my commission.
— Hehehe... Mr. Li Shou; I don't know where you got this strange guy, but I'm liking him. He's got an attitude.
It's one of his many skills. -My boss replied- With some luck, you may see it more often.
— That's good to know. -Tarok nodded before shaking my paw tightly, and I responded in kind- We have a deal, Hard Drive; I hope we continue to do good business.
— Sure, Tarok.
— Hey, you! -He shouted to the boys as he took one of the cases and half of one went into a sack- Take the load of naquadah of Mr. Li Shou's and Hard Drive and escort them to the Goddess Ring!
— Yes, Mr. Tarok!

Five other boys and two more guards had to come to carry the baskets to the location of the Stargate. I almost felt sorry for those boys who were carrying such a load in the rain and stepping on mud and withered leaves... Almost.

They left the ten baskets well covered and tied up on the platform of the gate and vanished immediately. Apparently, they were somewhat afraid of the gate, and did not go near it except for a few exceptions. Li Shou told me that it was a taboo in their culture, and that it was not for nothing that they called it "Goddess Ring"; as soon as Tarok's servants and bodyguards vanished, I activated the gate to the planet where our ship was. As soon as a stable portal was formed, Li Shou took the baskets and threw them into the gate very easily one by one. I was still amazed at how strong he was.

When we were left alone, he made sure to erase our destination in the DHD log and we crossed the Stargate.



__________________________________________________________________________________________



We returned to that wooded planet, where the sun was beginning to appear among the clouds; Li Shou gathered the ten baskets piled up next to each other and told me -already with his characteristic voice- to accompany him to the ship. It made sense: no matter how strong he was, he would not carry those baskets one by one.

We went through the forest until we reached the ship, entered it and made ourselves comfortable... or at least that's what he expected, until my boss ordered us to change places.

— Wait, boss. You want me to fly?
"Of course: it's quite easy. You saw me flying it, didn't you?"
— Ehh...
"You flew the Turbokat, right? Then you have certain pilot skills."
— I guess... but...
"Sooner or later you'd have to blow up the ship." -He replied before patting me on the shoulder- "I'll be here watching you, Kevin.

With no other option, I sat down in the cockpit and placed my paws on the red glass orbs that served as "controls". I remembered the instructions, I knew what to do, why was I nervous? I took a breath and set out to pilot the ship: it began to take off gently from the ground and rise above the trees. I couldn't help but get excited that I was actually flying an alien ship... And I was doing it right! I shook my head to focus on the mission and proceeded calmly; in less than a minute we reached the location of the Stargate, keeping the ship floating motionless over the loaded baskets of our merchandise. Li Shou stood next to me, giving me directions.

"We will make good use of our transportation rings." -he pressed a button that brought up a holographic screen- "We must position ourselves on the target." -He pointed to a dot on the screen- "Do you see it?"
— Yes.
“Use the control panel to activate the transportation rings from here.”
— Call me crazy, but using the rings like this sounds like a crazy thing that Swat Kats would do.
"It is, Kevin." -he replied slyly- "But we are here because we accept to do crazy things; not to be boring orthodox. Anyway, I hope you don't have to resort to this maneuver that in other circumstances even Swat Kats wouldn't do under an overdose of katnip.”
— Understood.

Once in the exact position, I activated the rings from the control panel within my reach, and in a few seconds, our merchandise was inside the ship; Li Shou carefully removed it from the ring platform and placed it in the cargo compartment. Once ready, he asked me to leave the atmosphere; by this time I was quite confident with that ship and I took off without any problem. I don't know if it was natural for me, or maybe the fact that flying the Tel'tak was easier than I thought.

Once in orbit, we made one last trip around the planet -which I named "Stern" in my honor, something Li Shou laughed at- before entering hyperspace on the way home. Even this was also easy, since I only had to give the commands to the ship's computer, and it would do everything. Once inside that blue light tunnel, we relaxed with a couple of cans of milk in an icebox on the ship.

"So... what do you think of your first day in space, Kevin?"
— It wasn't as exciting as I expected. -I answered before taking a big sip from my can- But it was interesting: I learned a lot. In less than a few hours, my horizon of the universe expanded quite a bit: I visited three different planets, met kats from another world, and made my first commercial transaction. It was... -I finished my can and ended up throwing a loud belch- a productive day. Oops, sorry, boss.
"It's okay, you're doing fine. I hope you didn't think I'd send you straight to the Lucian Alliance or to Earth, did you?"
— Not at all: I'm not prepared.
"It's good that you recognize it: you still lack training in combat and handling of weapons to enter the field in a complete way. This excursion was just to give you a little bit of atmosphere, and I recognize that the results are satisfactory".
— I thank you for it. But I have a couple of questions. Does this Tarok know that you’re a Goa'uld?
"Of course not; he thinks I'm an extremely intelligent normal kat and a business expert. That's why I say you were good today; not only did you not give away my identity, but you behaved like a true black market trader. Keep it up and you will achieve a lot."
— I will no longer need boring Megakat City to become rich and powerful. -I smiled maliciously- I like that plan. And what will we do with the naquadah?
"I have a naquadah refinery hidden outside Megakat City; we will make it more useful there."
— What will we use it for?
"That's a secret... I'll tell you in time." -He replied- "We still have one more thing to do before the end of the day." -Li Shou closed his eyes- Where do you want to go, Kevin? “Night's Temptations” or “Dirty Kitties”?

If I had drunk milk at the time, I would have spit it out with more force than a fire hose. I knew those places, although I never set foot in them: they were the most expensive and luxurious private clubs -not to mention brothels- in Megakat City. I had heard rumors that those places had the most beautiful and daring girls in the whole city, and that the biggest criminal bosses, as well as some corrupt politicians -and it was even rumored, that Feral himself- were his regular clients.

And now I, who until recently was less than a beggar, would have the opportunity to go.

— Are... are you serious?
— Well, yes. Li Shou believes that we deserve to have fun after this learning journey; he will pay for the stay.
— Where does he get the money?
— As he told you, Li Shou has enough resources to finance his galactic spy network, coming from the planets he still maintains.
— He owns several planets?
— Three inhabited by humans, totaling one hundred million people, and another fifty uninhabited star systems. But since he was never able to develop them technologically so as not to attract the attention of other Goa'uld, and it takes time to even get them from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution... That's why he focuses on Phellus.
— Holy Kats...
— The precious metals and jewels he gets from his subjects he brings them here, and sells them under a pseudonym, fake accounts and shell and offshore companies; then, with that money he maintains our way of life.
— And no one suspects anything?
— Kevin... Li Shou is a Goa'uld expert in infiltration: he has been on our planet for almost three years now. He has several infiltrators in various layers of our society.
— I didn't know he was so powerful. Then the System Lords were even MORE powerful!
— Yeah, I suppose so. -He replied with disdain- But that no longer matters: the vast majority are dead. And we can now live on those luxuries, courtesy of our boss. -Lenny looked at me with complicity- What do you say, Kevin?

Forgetting the fact that I really wanted to have fun, I was stunned by the reality of my alien boss: if what Lenny was saying was true -and nothing showed that he was lying to me- Li Shou was not starting with Phellus' domination, but was at a VERY advanced stage. You could say... that the planet was almost his. To what extent really? And was he really willing to help him?

But first, I had to clear up some doubts.

— I would like to know something... Do I know anyone... within this "conspiracy"?
— If you mean are Feral, Manx, Briggs or even Dark Kat involved... No: they’re not.
— Ah, okay.
— Any other doubts?
— Yes. How do you and Li Shou do when... well...
— Do we have sex with a woman? -he answered with ease- Oh, come on, Kevin: we're all adults now: no need to be prudish, especially when I read about your encounters with prostitutes. Well... look: it's like having a threesome, where the third one is inside me, and he feels the same way I do. And believe me: Li Shou is an expert, and he loves sex. I guess being an asexual species, he enjoys it more than we do.
— Right... I remembered that detail. Anyway, since that's been cleared up, how many girls can I sleep with? -Lenny almost burst out laughing when he heard that- Come on, it sounds like we're going to a great place.
— Maybe two; we'll see. Have you chosen the place yet?
— “Night's Temptations” sounds good.
— Excellent; we'll stop by my place so we can put on some more appropriate clothes. Although that place is famous for its discretion, you are still among the most wanted in the city.
— That reminds me, won't going there hurt your work?
— Pff... Not at all: as I told you, they are discreet there.

Seconds later, we come out of hyperspace, being greeted by the familiar sight of our planet. We landed the cloaked ship in the back garden of Lenny's house, passed through the rings into the basement and from there to take a shower, change clothes and use his car to enjoy the night.

"Night's Temptations” was just as I imagined it: big, luxurious and with girls from a movie. I admit that I wasn't particularly attractive -in fact, I considered myself somewhat ugly- but to some extent, I had been lucky with women when it came to sex: it was all about attitude. I spent a great night with two beautiful girls - a blonde and a hawksbill carey fur- with whom I had a lot of fun. I don't know how Lenny and Li Shou spent it, but I'm more than sure they had as much fun as I did.

Not bad for my first visit to space. What does it matter if I help an alien conquer my planet? What does it matter what dirty business I do or get involved in? Li Shou was a good boss, Lenny was a good partner, and I was someone who had given up worrying about being a good citizen. Now my only priority was to become rich and powerful anyway.

And although it was just the beginning of a series of jobs with my new boss and new partner, I have to admit that the rewards, so far, have been more than satisfactory.
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