Mythical member of the secret sect known as the Collectors
Snapshot: skalosakJolonah looked up ... and up...
Standing there, filling the height and width of the vast doorway, her sapphire eyes burning in the midst of her regally striped and whiskered face, was a fully-grown female Siberoo.
Jolonah pressed deeper into the padded corner, wanting to hide from the massive, two-legged marsupial feline that stared down at him as if he were a delectable little mouse. His lungs and spine froze rigid with fright.
The Siberoo was as majestic as she was terrifying - a perfect synthesis of sculpted hardness and luxuriant softness. Her fur was striped finely with black and white, with gentle shades of bluish-grey in between, creating an almost liquid ripple effect. Tufts of downy white fur grew on her cheeks, neck, belly and pouch. She stood on thickly solid hind legs, with firmly rounded hips almost as wide as Jolonah's arm span. Her pouch bulged underneath her, palpitating slightly with the stirrings of some unseen passenger within.
"Jolonah," said the Siberoo, her voice deep yet perfectly fluent and feminine. "My name is Skalosak. I hope they are feeding you well."
Jolonah nodded slightly.
"I'm pleased to hear that. You must have your energy and alertness where you are going."
Penal colony, confirmed Jolonah's frenzied mind. The crew was in the slave trade after all.
"Do you mind if I sit with you?"
Jolonah felt his head and neck freeze, unable to move, to even twitch. The idea was so frightening that she may as well have said "on" instead of "with".
"Don't worry," said Skalosak. "I've just had my weekly roast zebra, extra rare with basil."
She got down on all fours and crawled towards him, as bulky as a hippo yet with infinitely more grace; then stopped a meter before him and crouched on her massive haunches, careful not to crush her pouch. Her forelegs rested before her like striped furry columns. With her digits outspread on the padded floor, her forepaws disturbingly resembled gigantic human hands.
"You have no offspring," said Skalosak.
Trembling all over, mute with fright, Jolonah jerkily shook his head.
"That is just as well." The giant marsupial scowled knowingly at him. "I am the only one on this ship who has had offspring. I had a son. Rantrelaka. A wise and strong and handsome exemplar of his species, even in youth. He and his friends often played rough, as do all joeycubs, but always with honor and mutual respect. He would come to me with a few scratches, but nothing grave. Nothing a few good licks and a rest in the pouch could not fix."
She stared silently at him for long seconds - that same stare Jolonah had seen dozens of times in the eyes of much smaller cats; the stare of judgment.
"There was an accident," she added. "The amat reactor on the ship he crewed malfunctioned. Everything was atomized. His tomb is a dim cloud of ever expanding vapor in NoCoZo space, far from home."
More silence. This time her eyes were downcast, reflective.
"From that day on, I prayed to whatever God would listen. I prayed for all parents of all species who had ever lost their offspring."
Her fiery gaze rose to meet his, and Jolonah looked away fearfully, knowing exactly where this conversation was heading.
"I have a ritual. A private, solemn ritual. For every murderer that we collect, I claw my wall for the parents of his victims. I claw my wall so that I don't have to claw HIM."
The final word was an inhuman snarl. Jolonah began to whimper.....
-From "Yes Jolonah there is a Hell"