Happy Winter Solstice, to those of you in the Northern Hemisphere! Soon the all-too-short days will be getting longer, and before you know it, green things will be popping up out of the ground and waving their flowers around and such.
In the meantime, I’ve made a colouring page, and written a little story, that draws on the universe of The Quadra Cats, my webcomic (where I’m pretty much living these days). Just download the page*, print it off on paper that is compatible with whatever you are using to colour with, and settle down for some nice meditative colouring, suitable for winter hibernation season (or if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, you can take it to the beach or the woods with you).
*Downloading hint: click on the image, then click again for the larger version, then right-click for your computer’s menu that will allow you to save the image. Or you may be able to drag it directly to your desktop. A screen save will get you a lower-resolution file.
The story is from the viewpoint of Alien Cat, whose journal excerpts are frequently featured on the webcomic. He is an incorrigible entrepreneur, and has big plans for his takeout-delivery and tourism empire. Aided by MOLLY-unit, a feline ship’s AI (artificial intelligence), he has made friends with some Earth cats, who have become his partners in the Takeout Planet (AKA Earth) franchise. If this sounds like fun to you, go read the webcomic! But first, here’s the colouring page, and the story of Galaxy Day.
From the personal diary of Explorer (AKA Alien Cat):
[MOLLY system notes: transcription of conversations and dictation supplied by Explorer’s iZap, footnotes inserted from MOLLY archives]
On Takeout Planet, at winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the cats of Madame Gloriana Catsby’s Home for Wayward Kittens along with our Large Bipedal Primate friends and their cubs (and, er, one canine) relaxed after a glorious morning of opening presents and eating delectable treats appropriate to each of our species. I had brought some invisible takeout made by the Phantom cats from the planet Hideout*, and everyone, even the human cubs, had a good time finding it by smell!
It was delightful to observe the Takeout Planet kittens. Jazz says I’m not allowed to use the words “quaint” or “primitive” anymore, but shall we say they are refreshingly uninhibited by conventional civilized constraints.
[MOLLY system notes: that is perilously close to “uncivilized” and may attract Jazz’s ire]
At any rate, I have become very fond of them all.
Young Boudica was toying idly with a ribbon I held in my paw. She had a pensive look, which, for a change, didn’t seem to be directed at figuring out how to reach the highest shelf in the room.
She said, “Uncle Alien Cat, do the cats in outer space have holidays?”
“Yes, Boudica, we have Galaxy Day, which is very similar to what you do here.”
Her brother, Arthur, spoke up. “You mean like with an indoor tree, and new catnip toys, and all?”
The kittens, cats, bipedal primates and their cubs were all looking at me now. It seemed it was story time, and a chance to educate the first generation of Takeout Planet youngsters destined to be part of the Feline Federation! “First, a bit of history,” I said. Long, long ago, every planet was on its own. There were interstellar wars, and invaders and brigands roamed the spaceways. It was a dangerous time. But a few brave felines from across the galaxy met together for peace talks on an unmarked planetoid—“
Tux asked, “The one we went to?”
“— yes, the same one where the headquarters is now,” I continued. “That’s why we don’t put it in a more convenient location. It’s historic, and you know how some cats can be about tradition!”
Rosa, one of Tux and Jazz’s P.E.T.S.**, said, “Yes, like when I rearrange the furniture — you’d think I had committed the ultimate crime!” Tux and Jazz exchanged knowing glances.
Arthur returned us to the subject. “What do you do on Galaxy Day?”
“Well, we do have extra lights, because it’s the dark time of the year, and we hang up shiny things to play with, and eat glorious takeout feasts, play games, and we give each other boxes and fancy strings. The traditions don’t look quite the same everywhere — it’s different on every planet. For instance, on Wet, the Mercats* gather all the bioluminescent jellyfish they can find, and give each other giant clamshells! On Greebeau 5*, the snow lions compete in snow-sliding competitions — I once saw one of them slither down an entire mountain — and the Warblecats* of Tuna 3 give non-stop concerts that last for twelve days and nights. The Qlackx*, who follow the Way of the Tardigrade, harness the energies of the Tardigrade Field to create light shows — they are very much in demand on all planets, as you can imagine!”
Fiona, the young human cub, said “It sounds wonderful! Is it happening now? Out there?”
“Good question! Because of the difficulty of synchronizing the time over light years, Galaxy Day is celebrated on each planet’s winter solstice, in each hemisphere. Which means that Galaxy Day happens on every planet twice each year!
Eric, Fiona’s brother, said, “Wow! Wish we had that! But don’t some planets have longer years than others? They would get cheated!”
“It seems that they would, doesn’t it? But then they have more time to visit other planets for their Galaxy Days, so it all evens out. It is always Galaxy Day, somewhere in the Galaxy! It’s part of what holds the Federation together — traditions are exchanged, and goodwill between different species is strengthened. And that is why takeout is traditional: Cats whose planets are not currently in celebration mode bring their planet’s takeout to the planet they are visiting, just as I did with the Phantom Phricassee — that way no one has to work on their holidays!
“There is even a whole travel industry based on it. One of my tours will be a grand tour of the galaxy, taking in all the planets’ staggered holidays in sequence. No one has ever offered the whole circuit before! It will take several of your planetary revolutions around your sun to make the rounds, as Galaxy Day is often celebrated for a pawful or two of days before and after, and of course there is travel time, during which we will continue to celebrate!”
At this all the kittens and cubs began to clamour. “Can we go? Please, please?” Tiny Minerva actually climbed on my front paws and tried the big-eye thing (she’s very good at that, that kit will go far). The other kittens began to leap towards me, and soon I was covered in small wriggling bodies! I don’t know how Scatcat, er, Handsome, manages to retain his dignity around them.
Fortunately, Madame had been listening quietly and politely to my account of Galaxy Day, and at this point intervened. “Children! Kittens!” she said, rapping her teacup with her spoon for attention. “We are not leaving right now for Uncle Alien Cat’s Galaxy Day tour — you have your educations to finish, and forever homes to find, and I’m sure his tour will take lots of planning. One day you may decide to go into outer space, but for now, please give him some local space!”
To my relief, the kittens subsided, not without some rather squeaky grumbling, and the conversation broke up into small groups. The sounds of happily ripping paper and kittenish shrieks resumed as they battled ribbons and pounced in boxes, making me purr with contentment.
(MOLLY system notes: this unit gave tractor-beam rides to the kittens and cubs. Purr-simulation program was stimulated and initiated)
One last conversation is worth noting: Spike the dog asked if canines would be allowed on the tours, and I replied that my tours would be non-discriminatory, as all participants, of whatever species, would have to take the Federation Oath of Peace***. I can envision these tours as being the first step in the promotion of a new Pax Galactica — eventually all species will be represented. Is it egotistical of me to daydream, on this day of all days, about myself as the architect of a new-and-improved Pax and bringer of the light of a new Galactic Day?
[MOLLY system notes: Yes, it is.]
And, well, of course… I will make a lot of money on the tours.
Happy Galaxy Day, everyone, whatever species you are, and whatever planet you hail from!
*See the Compendium of Galactic Felines for more information
**P.E.T.S. — Primate Entities Trained to Serve
*** The Federation Oath of Peace is taken by all members of the Feline Federation (and Friends of the Federation) and has resulted in the widespread galactic peacetime known as the Pax Federation.