Chapter 8. Scratch-Ear

<———Chapter 7. I’m your man       Chapter 9. Welcome to Bracëo———->

With curious violet eyes Maverick scanned the area hoping to at least see an array of cool aliens like Sydney but all he found was somebody’s Russian-blue cat in shorts sitting on one of the chairs, the thing looked about ready to bolt from its own shadow.

Ah, Scratch-Ear.” Sydney called in a friendly manner.

Maverick’s hunch that the fur ball was skittish was right on the dot as the cat leapt from the seat and ran under the rope that separated the queues.

The young man in the alien body had enough time to blink as the grey blur scampered over the reception desk where a mixture of a purr mixed with an array of clicking noises was heard.

Sydney, the ever slimy negotiator strolled to the desk with his new employee in his shadow. “Of course I don’t blame you for what happened Scratch-Ear,”

For the first time since they briefly met there was a shiver of hunger in the monster’s voice that caused Maverick to step back. “but there is a quoter to be filled.”

With a gesture from Sydney the grey cat teleported from the hidiehole and materialised eye level to Sydney.

The Damu-Sarmi hunter as well as Maverick instantly became paralysed, their instincts told them that pissing of this nightmare man was a bad move

A mismatch of screams, hisses, and clicks erupted from Scratch-Ear that caused Maverick to put a finger to his ear.

There was an urge to lecture Sydney on the proper treatment of his pets but it was suppressed as giving the boss a good talking to on your first day on the job is often frowned upon.

Sydney’s polite negotiator voice returned. “Scratch-Ear. I would like the things your friends took from me back.”

The grey cat looked to be pleading and a number of clicks and tongue smack came out.

Maverick’s shoulders dropped.

The cat was communicating, it was some strung Amazon/African dialect of clicks and sounds but it was definitely a language, but only Sydney appeared to understand it.

Knowing that he was dealing with something not of this world, Maverick could now see the differences.

Not only was the kitty cat wearing people clothes, instead of paws it used a pair of clawed four fingered hands, and its shorts looked to be made from animal skins.

In protest to Scratch-Ear’s existence Maverick pointed to it. “What the hell is that?”

Sydney released the cat from whatever hold he had an Scratch-Ear fell to the ground and returned to the desk, but instead of hiding underneath the wooden exterior the Damu-Sarmi took a vantage point and stared at the beings that towered over it.

As if for the first time the cat observed the Earthling and spoke in its tongue.

The space octopus blinked, to him this was all going extremely well, or was it terrible? These lesser creatures were so difficult to understand. “Yes, introductions are important.” Sydney said.

With a cough that could strip the paint of a wall, Maverick’s new boss gestured to the Earthling. “This is Maverick Kenning, one of the multiverse’s best couriers.”

I am?” Maverick asked, surprised at his introduction and status.

His employer ignored the fact that this Maverick had yet to accomplish a thing in his other than giving a few people premature lung cancer.

You will be.” Sydney corrected before he gestured to Scratch-Ear, “A native of universe 045-41 R.P. Planet Bracëo. I understand he is a junior hunter in training.” A novice could tell that the cat alien did not like the junior hunter remark.

A stare down occurred between Maverick and Scratch-Ear, listening only to Sydney’s side of the story, Maverick decided to go out on a limb.

Unless Bracëo was full of man-eating mice Maverick didn’t see Hello Kitty being much of a hunter.

And this…” Maverick hesitated. “Scratch-Ear is friends with the people who stole from you? Is this the part where you tell me to interrogate it? Because the language barrier is not helping so far.”`

Scratch-Ear gave a number of clicks but it was clear from his cute expression that he did not like Maverick and the teenager couldn’t blame him.

If he saw a giant, grey skin man trailing behind an octopus alien, one would think he was an enemy or the octopus’s hired muscle.

Which was exactly what Maverick felt like, Sydney’s personal thug.

Oh.” Sydney seemed to have forgotten a detail in his plan. “I forgot about you lesser creatures and your primitive languages.”

Out of nowhere an loud and irritating static noise penetrated Maverick’s mind.

Against such an attack Maverick could do little else but hold his head and breath out a silent scream, this was different than the agony inflicted from the crazy vigilante’s poison on that one felt like Maverick’s blood was on fire while this felt like his mind was about to cave in.

Fortunately this new experience receded and Maverick could allow himself to breath again. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” A dribble of red blood flowed from the wounded teen’s nose, an after effect from whatever trauma Sydney had performed.

Why does giant stone thing use such bad words to chief of clan Sydney?” Came the voice of child possibly seven or eight years old.

Mister Kenning.” Sydney said in a firm voice. “I would advise you not to use such harsh language in front of a child.”

This talk only made Maverick less than thrilled about being tortured not once but twice today. “Don’t give me that crap. Give me some warning before you do some bloody alien mind probe on me.”

With a brush of his thick grey fingers the young man smeared the blood away from his lip. “And I don’t know what this dickless body you gave me is made of but it ain’t stone.”

Scratch-Ear took on a curious expression. “Did not the craftsman give statue a penis?”

The cat appeared to be bowing in his head in sympathy as he now had an idea of where this anger stemmed from. “If stone man like, Scratch-Ear can take you to Damu-Sarmi craftsman, he make you happy.”

The idea to retort that a stone strap-on would not make Maverick happy was interrupted as the teenager in the grey eunuch suit noticed that the kit was able to speak English.

Able to witness Maverick’s confusion Sydney seemed pleased to elaborate. “There have been multiple updates since your body was created Mister Kenning. The implants in your brain now allow you to psychically connect to most sentient species, but as you are in an outdated model there is some lag.”

An confused expression cross Scratch-Ear’s face. “Your words… I do not understand.”

As Maverick concentrated he could tell that Sydney was in deed correct. It was as if Maverick were watching a dubbed Chinese kung foo movie and the actor’s lips did not match his words. It still would have been nice to have a warning.

Sydney waved the young hunter off. “It does not matter Scratch-Ear, only know that Mister Kenning here is to aid me in collecting my property, which it turn aids you and your people.”

How did Sydney’s getting his property back save the cat’s people? For some reason Maverick doubted a race of cats would know what a bill was let alone be able to pay it.

Maverick chose to learn this later. It was time for business, the faster this job was done the faster Maverick came to getting a good package of reproductive organs. “I still haven’t been told what this dim sim’s friends stole.”

The young hunter almost spat the words “Cali are not Scratch-Ear’s friends.”

With a raised talon an ornamental spear appeared and floated in front of Sydney. How this was done Maverick guessed was some hologram projector, Scratch-Ear just assumed Sydney was a water God and that this was magic.

As if he was Maverick’s old English teacher telling the idiots Sydney spoke, “A limited edition Spear of Orga, originally it was used as an accessory for a Tosun action figure.”

Maverick could not halt his eyebrow from rising. “Wait. They stole an action figure accessory?”

Sydney looked a bit peeved at this. “It’s a limited edition product Mister Kenning and I would not like you to judge my clientele.”

The teenager raised his hands in defence. “No no. It’s just. Let’s forget it. What else did they take?”

Maverick of course was not the type to question somebody’s hobbies, he knew of some thirty years olds that were anal about that sort of thing.

Back in primary school days he had would collect the odd solider figurine and launch into epic fights with his friends.

There was also the occasional anime geek who would come to him for cheep knock-off products that came straight from a sweat shop in China.

Awe crossed Scratch-Ear’s face, “This Orga must be a mighty hunter.” he whispered.

Never had he seen a spear with such metal and shine, with such a weapon the young Damu-Sarmi envisioned himself bring down two deer in one throw.

Sydney continued to display his stolen goods, each object looked like it either belonged to ancient science fiction society or to magical girl from a cartoon show. “A one-of-a-kind limited edition gemstone in the Castro series, a earring of Tsavo…”

Wait wait wait.” Maverick called out. “What kind of shop is this?”

The creature from the outskirts of imagination puffed out his chest which expanded amazingly three times its size. “We at Sydney’s Emporium only sell the highest grade collectable pieces.”

The cogs in Maverick’s head spun, “You sell dolls and accessories?” he said this as if he was trying to wrap his mind over it.

In your Earth terms I suppose you can say that we are trying to expand to the third dimensional dream state tombs that contain graphic recreations of exaggerated battles between demigods. As well as guides to understanding the paranormal conditions and cross dimensional energies.”

Trying to take what he knew of science fiction novels and manga, Maverick decided to decrypt Sudney’s innuendo. “You trying to get into the comic books and voodoo guide books?”

Again you are over simplifying things Mister Kenning.”

This was just typical, Maverick was now a courier for an space comic book store that sold doll parts to children and people who lived in their mum’s basements.

No wonder Sydney did not go to the police, he would have been laughed right out of the station.

Again Maverick had nothing against graphic novels but he pictured his life just a little bit differently.

So I am going to steal your toys back from alien cats huh?”

Sydney’s eyes became red and Maverick stepped back. “They are not toys, they are collectables.”

Scratch-Ear did not like the loud angry voice and once again hid under the counter.

Okay okay.” Maverick said quickly before his employer went agro. “So how am I going to find your stuff? Do I get like a space ship or something?”

Sydney averted his eyes like a child that had just been caught selling tickets to their parents having sex. “I had hoped you would secure your own transportation”

Unless Maverick’s bike some how recently got installed with a hyperdrive engine without him knowing, both him and his cheep-ass employer were down shit cheek without a pray.

I haven’t even got my learners, how in the hell am I going to get NASA to lend me their space shuttle?” Maverick said.

Sydney looked to be fighting with himself. “Fine. Until you are trained in interstellar, cross dimensional transportation,” The octopus let out the slug monster’s very long, very unpronounceable name. “will take you in the middle of his lunch breaks.”

The idea of car pooling with alien slug monster, who thought he could pull of facial hair that could be linked to every generic fan of loud obnoxious motorbikes, did not sound as thrilling to Maverick as it would any other day.

It was like a cop asking his mum to drop him off at narcotics bust.

Maverick, using what brain cells were left after having this many plot holes and twists forced on him was finding it had to accept things.

He had to go to the planet of the cats in order to pinch toys back to a intergalactic comic book shop, yep he was lost and there was no map in sight to tell him the way back.

How am I going to find these…” Maverick closed his eyes. “Collectables?”

Why was that so hard to say with a straight face, he wondered. “These Cali could have sold them, or buried them, or tossed them into the ocean.”

What is an ocean.” Scratch-Ear said.

Though the cat didn’t know what an ocean was Scratch-Ear did seem to understand Maverick’s point. “Cali would take weapons to Chief.”

Then it occurred to the small cat what else was taken. “Stone monster help Scratch-Ear save Elder-Sister and Free-Fang?” But not Black-Paw, for some reason Scratch-Ear did not wish him to survive.

Sydney did not seem alarmed by this. “All my goods have the latest in tracking devices implanted in them. Here.”

Once again Maverick felt his brain rupture but this time it was shorter and the sense was numbed at a degree, “Stop doing that damn it.” he yelled.

At the corner of Maverick’s vision a circle with faint white lines hang in the air where ever his gaze moved, it reminded him of minimaps in games.

Without warning the image of a grey cat head displayed Scratch-Ear’s presence. “Wow.” Was all that came to Maverick’s mind.

I thought it best to put it into a format that you would find pleasing.” It wasn’t so much pleasing as it was familiar but Sydney was on the right track, now Maverick was able to see his goals clearly.

Feeling his inner gamer take root Maverick wanted to see what else was installed in his new life. “Do I get laser rifles and plasma bombs?”

Certainly not.” Sydney explained. “In the first place you are here to collect my lost property, not to launch a war on Scratch-Ear’s race.”

That was a bummer, Maverick had high hopes that he could turn this job into something a bit more fun, but it looked as if Sydney wanted to play to some form of code.

Looking down at his body, a disheartened Maverick pinched the white cloth that was his one piece garment. It offered no protection of the elements and nothing that Maverick would have called fashionable. “Do I at least get some clothes?”

Sydney appeared to be coking his head in interest. “You have not yet completed your mission so I can not pay you. This was stated in the contract, if had bothered to read it.”

What?” Then it dawned on the teenager on how cheep this bottom feeder was. “I have to pay for my own clothes.” It wasn’t a question, it was a fact.

Clothes, food, even board and transportation came out of Maverick’s employee account, which was currently in the red due to his current body being prematurely bought without Maverick’s consent.

It was now official, this job sucked.

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