“Please remain clam, Sergeant,” a feline got up off the floor and stood on his hind legs. “We will not harm you.”
“How can you talk!” Claymore backed away from the cat. She stared in horror as the other animals began to stir out of their faint.
“What do you mean?” the cat let out a snigger. “Cats developed the ability to talk tens of  thousands of  years ago.”
“No,” Claymore shook her head, “The Starlit Maiden has only been gone seventy years.”
“Preposterous!” the cat stopped laughing. “It is bad enough that you blasted your way thorough the portal and used the ship against us. You mustn’t insult us with such talk.”
“I’m not insulting you,” Claymore’s voice grew hoarse. She swallowed the sugary warmth rising in her throat. “Where I’m from, this ship was declared lost, along with the rest of the Wide Horizon fleet, fifty years ago. The portal opened around the same time and the only thing that ever came through was cats.”
“If you’ve seen us,” the cat was confused, “then why are you surprised I can talk.”
“They never spoke,” Claymore decided against the truth. She swallowed hard. The sweetness in her saliva was increasingly cloying.
“So many lost,” the feline looked sad, as if he knew the full story.
“What happened to the crew of this ship?” Claymore asked, trying to blink away the sudden cloudiness in her eyes.
“Ah, yes,” the cat narrowed his eyes. “Had you not knocked us out, we could have warned you that this planet is inhabited by imperceptible microorganisms that feed on DNA.”
“What!” Claymore gurgled. She coughed and blood spewed from her nose and mouth.
“The ship’s systems don’t detect them and cannot filter them out of the air,” the cat sat in the captain’s chair and watched her. “But surely you can taste the sweetness of your own body breaking down?”
Claymore clattered to the floor, grasping at the projector on her belt. Her bloody hands shook as she launched the portal.
“We felines are immune,” the cat purred, “But you will be dead before the portal opens on earth.”

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