Planet X is a deeply mysterious place in the Universe. First discovered around 2085 by the Virgin Galaxy Deep Space Probe, no ‘being’ from Earth has ever actually been there. This is partly because Planet X keeps changing its celestial position quite markedly but primarily because it is shrouded in thick gaseous clouds. To this day even the composition of those clouds remains largely unknown and no space probe that has entered the planet’s upper atmosphere has ever returned intact. Planet X is now followed through the cosmos by Virgin Beacons that denote it as a ‘no-go’ area.
On occasion ships passing near to Planet X have received communication signals, strongly suggesting the existences of some advanced civilisation. Three manned missions have all ended in apparent disaster, with each ship disappearing and none of the astronauts ever being seen or heard of again.
The one exception was the Locator 27 space probe, that returned some biological matter to it’s orbiting mother ship. DNA subsequently extracted from this sample led to the birth of the now famous hybrid, Joosthava X Minot.
In the late 22nd/early 23rd Century, interest in being able to make use of time had blossomed. Early experiments conducted by President Professor E. Poch in the mid-22nd Century had demonstrated the principle of ‘capturing’ time from the edges of black holes.
However, various issues led to Professor Poch’s experiments being suspended. First of all, too many of the spaceships used to extract the time wound up being dragged into the black hole or enveloped in lethal gases from black hole ‘burps’. Secondly, the small amounts of time that were captured by these early experimenters couldn’t be used in an even vaguely controlled manner.
It was only in the 2190s when the first time battery was developed that it became possible to store and the discharge, with some control, packets of time. However, packets of time are notoriously unstable and managing them is as much an ‘art’ as a science. Only a small handful of individuals study time mining as the dangers that confront a trained time miner at work are so great. Statistics show that only one in twenty time miners live into their thirties though in many cases, rather than definitively dying, they simply disappear.
ClonaCat was founded around 2110 by Tjoorbaert Morabitz, at the time the World’s most famous genetic engineer. Tjoorbaert was also a massive cat lover and believed that other people like him would pay small fortunes to have their beloved pet cats cloned and re-created after death. Tjoorbaert was certain that he could do far better than earlier experiments at domestic pet cloning that had not quite fulfilled needs.
However, just like the early experimenters in this niche market, Tjoorbaert found that the cats he created were never totally the same for the owners as the pets they had just lost. ClonaCat was looking like a failed enterprise until fortuitously, scientists working there on the horse genome, reactivated some ancient genes and created the first unicorn on Earth. This led to a whole new sports activity, unicorn racing, and ClonaCat became a prosperous concern through the selective breeding of unicorns for racing purposes.
The income from their unicorn ‘arm’ enabled Tjoorbaert to continue his research into the domestic cat genome, work that was accelerated by the arrival of a cat called Azz-leX. This cat appeared to Tjoorbaert literally out of the blue one evening (well appeared on his doorstep anyway) and turned out to be the ‘perfect’ cat with an incredible IQ. Not only that, but Azz-leX also provided humanity with the Azz-leX transposon, the cure to the DSR virus that had started to devastate the human population around 2170, near the end of the first interstellar war with the Mud Lizards.
ClonaCat ceased to trade in around 2180, being subsumed by CloneMate, another major cloning company of the time. CloneMate then used the expertise that ClonaCat scientists could bring to make the first generation of rubanon based artificial intelligences (AI’s). Cat, the Inspector’s companion, was the first off the production line and the only output from CloneMate that held a completely expressed copy of Azz-leX’s genome.
The Faxons really were a quite charming people and were the other principal civilisation on the planet Zizzdum. They had a sense of smell that was many times more sensitive than domestic dogs on Earth. They had little else in common with dogs, however, walking on 2 legs as well as liking cats, keeping them as pets once the first Earth settlers introduced felines to Zizzdum.
The Faxon sense of smell was so great that they could detect rare minerals and elements in very small quantities. As a consequence, they could command significant salaries working for Earth-based mining companies. Whilst Faxons could speak to each other, and to humans, they often preferred to communicate silently among themselves through releasing odours from their com-gland, situated just behind their ears.
This method of communication, whilst very effective, could become very confusing at dinner parties where humans might unintentionally be releasing their own ‘gaseous’ signals. There was many an embarrassing moment at early official banquets on Zizzdum when Earth ambassadors inadvertently said something rude or on occasion, made a pass at a female Faxon through natural bodily functions that had been activated by the excellent though wind inducing Faxon cuisine.
Cat, we know, is a robot. But how exactly does he come to be so like a real cat? Why does he have such an intensely superior personality? Is it programmed or inherited from Zeus or a similar God?. Well, you may be surprised to hear that it is largely inherited. He actually derives from the Pure Cat Ashley, a domestic cat from the 22nd Century who saved humanity and has essentially never let humanity forget it.
When some of the few human combatants in Interstellar War I returned to Earth around 2175, despite the usual stringent quarantine checks, humankind began to be devastated by a virus that attacked the human immune system. Deaths mounted and the projections were that within 10 years humans could be wiped out. That was looking to be the case until the work of Vice-Professor Tjoorbaert Morabitz from the Austrian Academy of Galactic Science and his assistant Trevor (unfortunately, Trevor’s surname has been lost in the annals of the history of science but some experts believe he actually did all of the work). Anyway, Tjoorbaert was also the founder of ClonaCat and in his efforts to create the perfect domestic cat, he had spent many years trying to fully understand the genetic make-up of Ashley who had been perfect physically and had an IQ almost 100X higher than normal for a cat of the time.
Whilst studying Ashley’s genes and behaviour (and the latter was what you probably would expect from Zeus) Tjoorbaert (or possibly Trevor) discovered that a transposon in Ashley’s DNA had the capability to destroy a range of viruses, including the common cold, that variously afflicted the human population. The so-called ‘friendly-transposon’ also became the miracle cure for the Amora virus, the bug brought back by the early deep space explorers.
Humanity was saved by this serendipitous property of the Ashley ‘Friendly’ Transposon. There were consequences, however. All humans effectively became part-cat, or rather part Ashley, with the phenotype of humans in relation to cat characteristics varying widely. For some there was hardly any effect, others suddenly liked to chew grass and vomit whilst some couldn’t pee unless they were standing on a tray full of litter and quite a few couldn’t survive without being waited on hand and foot. Obviously, despite the social embarrassment some of these actions could lead to, it was better than dying. Fortunately, around 15 years after the introduction of the Ashley Transposon, other scientists found treatments that could suppress most of the cat characteristics that Ashley brought into the human gene pool. This left us with immune humans who occasionally hissed when they got really pissed off and chased anything smaller that moved.
And Cat? Robot Cat? Well, he was the perfect clone of Ashley though he had no living flesh because of course, he was ‘robot’. However, Ashley’s DNA had properties that went well beyond the 4 nucleotide bases found in all living creatures across the Universe to date. Ashley’s DNA had attitude and Cat had inherited elements of ‘attitude’ in extremis.
Commssters were one of 2 principal races living on the planet Zizzdum, the other being the Faxons. Commsters were quite gentle humanoid beings and possessed quite remarkable telekinetic powers. Their heads were very large, to accommodate the rather large brain that they had and they had very long arms that almost could touch their equivalent of toes with little bending required. They loved to flap their arms about in a very animated fashion when communicating, a characteristic that had the first human explorers resort to wearing protective headgear to avoid getting unintentional, but hard, slaps around the back of the head.
With their telekinetic powers, they could control the movement of objects and make them disappear and re-appear at will. Though generally quite shy, Commssters loved the fact that early human visitors were so enthralled by their little tricks. Due to this, they developed a number of magic acts to entertain settlers from Earth on Zizzdum. A handful of Commssters have, in the years that they have been in contact with humans, become confident enough to offer traveling shows that visit outposts and space stations across the universe. They looked resplendent in their glittery clothes and pointy magic hats.
The Commssters have no name for themselves and no one is sure anymore why they are called Commssters . It is believed that the name derives from the first Commssters who tried to speak Earth language, inviting settlers into their shows with loud cries of ‘Come Sir’. They called all humans ‘Sir’ as Commssters were a) gender neutral and preferred short words where they could get them. However, their somewhat guttural interpretation of Earth language made it sound like Commsster. Well, at least that’s what my Great-Granny used to tell me and she knew a heck of a lot more than Cosmopedia about the old days.
I was also told by an old friend that they were called Commssters because they made people laugh at the way they communicated animatedly without actually saying anything and had a habit of bringing their hands, at the end of their very long arms, up to each side of their mouths and making clicking noises as their hands moved, reminding people of hamsters. Actually, thinking about it that sounds a bit more like kangeroos than hamsters. Maybe I’ll propose a name change to the Inter-Galactic Panel for the Naming of Extra-Terrestrials from Commssters to Kangeroosters!! Or maybe not……
What does eMDaDD stand for? I had no idea myself until Cat told me it was Electronic Matter Dissolution and Display Device. What a mouthful!. Anyway, an eMDaDD is basically a system that can move inanimate or animate objects from one physical location to another in a flash. Well, actually there is no flash as such – it is just quite quick.
On Earth in the early 23rd Century, a system called Fastmove had been developed. Stimulated by a 20th Century sci-fi series which I believe was called Star Trick (well that’s what it says on Cosmopedia), though Cat maintains it was called Star TREK (but what does he know?). Anyways, Fastmove on Earth never really got perfected. In fact, it turned out to be unusable. Tested on humanoid robots and laboratory animals, one could never be certain that all limbs and other body extremities would re-materialise in the same place as they were originally on the object being moved. Naturally, humans (and especially politicians) were not too keen to use this technology if there was a chance their backside could re-appear where their elbow used to be.
Enter the Mud Lizards, who I’ve always considered to be a bunch of basically quite ‘thick’ lizardy type things. Turns out they’re quite smart and developed a device with Fastmove capability. Not only that but, as their dastardly plots show in our adventures, they also added to Fastmove the capability to change the shape of an object so that it closely resembled another. In the most extreme case, a Mud Lizard is able to re-materialise in almost perfect human form. Only when the Mud Lizard in human form flicks out its slimy tongue and grabs you sloshily by the throat do you realise that you are not face to face with a fellow being.
What slimeballs these Mud Lizards are!!!!