“What’s with the cat?” Van said, gesturing at Mr. Squibbles.

“She and I have an understanding,” said Ashtar. “I give her some food and she gives me some warning. We split the rats she catches, and I let her use a feline pressure suit I found.”

“She?” said Van. “Mr. Squibbles is a she?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Why the ‘mister’ then?”

“Because it’s hard to tell when they’re kittens,” Ashtar said. “By the time I realized he was a she, the name had stuck.”

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