Ol' Miles' Book of Practical Mercs

Jeff Melcher (Pouncer) has put together a number of filk with a Bujoldian take on Elliot's "Jellicle Cats" and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Cats". It all started back in April 98.
Stephanie Folse has provided some illustrations to go with them.

Dendarii Cats

Ptarmigan Cat

Dendarii cats are grey and white;
Dendarii cats come big or small.
Dendarii cats can plot and fight
and stage an escape for one or all.

Dendarii cats are brave and bold;
Dendarii cats come different sizes.
Dendarii cats seem young or old.
And all Dendarii cats love surprises.

Dendarii cats were Cetagandans.
Dendarii gear comes from House Fell.
One Dendarii cat was a Betan, and an
Escobaran joined once as well.

Dendarii cats are white and grey;
Dendarii cats come old or young.
Strategy comes from Admiral Naismith,
Tactics come from Commodore Tung.

Dendarii cats are bold and brave
Dendarii cats are found, not born.
Sgt Taura from a maze was saved --
A field promotion brought in Captain Thorne.

Dendarii cats are mercenary
Dendarii cats fight for a fee
Dendarii do what's necessary
But sometimes more, and sometimes free.

Dendarii cats come thick or thin;
Dendarii cats come fierce or cute.
Gorgeous and thin is Commodore Quinn;
Private Danio's "thick" and a brute.

Dendarii cats wear grey and white.
Dendarii cats wear white and grey.
Dendarii fight in space-dark night;
Dendarii fight in planet-side day.

Dendarii cats don't follow rules;
Dendarii cats live interesting lives.
Dendarii cats need versatile tools
like clever Dendarii Army Knives.

Practical cats are the Dendarii
Stolid, Pragmatic, Heroic, Ideal
Don't tell me they're Imaginary
As long as I'm reading they're Practically Real!

Baz as the "Old Gumbiecat"

Baz Cat

I have an engineer in mind,
of lofty rank, a Commodore.
His work's of non-heroic kind,
to build and clean and fix and more.
All day he stalks the engine rooms,
or gunner's pods, or underdecks
He checks, inspects, rejects, directs --
'cuz that's what makes him Baz Jesek!
That's what makes him Baz Jesek!

But when the fight's hustle and bustle is done
a fleet engineer's work is but hardly begun.
When all of our men arrive back on our ships
he rolls up his sleeves, puts cigar to his lips,
and expresses concern with the cannons and shields --
"The sensors need calibration! Work on those seals."
Then once he has got things lined up to recover
He checks us again, and we do it all over!

I have an engineer in mind
who keeps a battle-ready fleet.
Our small mistakes, he always finds,
before they lead to our defeat.
He glares in silence at "good enough",
and sneers if underlings object.
But checks, inspects,and earns respect --
and that's what makes him Baz Jesek.
That's what makes him Baz Jesek!

And when the fight's hustle and bustle is done
a fleet engineer's work is but hardly begun.
He thinks the commando teams want for employment
to keep them from idle and wanton destroyment.
So he's formed from that lot of ham-handed wrecks
a squadron of competent tooled-up techs
With a purpose in life and a song in their hearts
and a working collection of useful spare parts! ...
Then he selects, inspects, and helps the techs
'cuz that's what makes him Baz Jesek.
We all respect our Baz Jesek!

Danio as "McCavity"

Danio Cat

It's Dumb Delinquent Danio, a troop without a plan-io
A liquor-swilling man-io, who bluffs as best he can-io.
He hasn't got a dead-man's switch, much less a real bomb
But when Danio's on the town, it's anything but calm.

He's tall and broad and muscular; a handsome lad is Danio,
His grin's all flashing white teeth in a face that's smooth and tan-io.
His uniform is spiffy. (He'd look good in a beret.)
But when Danio comes knocking? Pretend to be AWAY!

He's outwardly respectable.
(I heard he cheats at cards.)
His fingerprints are now on file
In London's Scotland Yard.
His Admiral bailed him out, though,
and the boy broke bond and ran-io
Now no place in the Galaxy
is safe from Private Danio!

No one, no species, world or time
is safe from Danio's thirst for gore
Not Ringworld, Pern, nor Manticore,
the Humanx Commonwealth or Gor,
And Vulcans flee in terror
as Danio dines with Chtorr,
But every move that Danio makes,
is one we've seen before.

A broadsword here, a phaser there, a virus in the LAN-io,
Credit card fraud and arson are all par each day for Danio.
Where mayhem and destruction and chaotic cliches abound
It's all the kind of pulp fiction where Danio is found!

Arde Mayhew as "GUS the Theater Cat"

Arde Cat

Mayhew runs freight on an in-system scow;
he doesn't need Jump implants dotting his brow.
For his hairline recedes, and the hair left is white,
over eyes that have started to squint for more sight.
His missions are simple, to the wormhole and back,
with rat-bars and ammo and junk for our packs.
He takes out our mail and he brings in our news
It's a calm life, but it's not the life that he'd choose.

He isn't the pilot he was in his prime,
though he had his adventures, he says, in his time.
And on some long run, when his friends are aboard,
(and there's nothing to do but tell tales or be bored,)
He regales us with yarns (that we've all heard before)
of smuggling out heros from the Escobar War.
Half of all Admiral Naismith's legends depend
on Arde Mayhew, (he tells us) the Admiral's best friend.

And he tries, now and then, to describe how it feels
to Jump from 'real' space through '5-D' back to 'real'.
How a Jump that, for us, takes less time than a blink
is for him filled with hours of strange notions to think.
Of the 'thickness' of 'yellow'; the 'odor' of 'red' --
Words fail him. His memories are all locked in his head.
All the younger Jump pilots are different, somehow.
He's the only one left who knows what it's like, now.

Mayhew is tight with his credits, they say.
When we earn some big bonus; his share's socked away.
In known space he won't part with much cash at all.
But he swings into action at a new port-of-call.
Then he studies the news and he scours the lists
for scrapyards of old ships that others have missed.
He'll call a few, visit some, scrounging for parts
But his heart's desire's really a lost piece of his heart.

He's planning, or dreaming, or praying to God
to find just one good set of old Necklin Rods
to take out to Felice to restore to 'his' ship.
He'll plug himself in, and fire up his brain's chip,
speed out to the wormhole, set course for the stars
pour power to his engines, heal his soul's scars
and Jump back to the glories he remembers so well --
though it's probably going to be a wormhole to hell.

Mayhew runs cargo for the Dendarii fleets.
He brings in our ammo and fuel and our eats.
And Jumps with us now, just like cargo himself,
his implants might just as well live on a shelf.
But during transition, he dreams of his youth
and never quite reconciles dreams with the truth.
He takes out our reports and brings in fresh mail
and now and again he will tell us his tale...
he tells us his tale.
we all know his tale.

Commodore Tung as "Bustopher Jones"

Oh, Commodore Tung -- for a merc -- is not young;
in fact, he's extremely mature.
We've fought for this sage and tried to guess at his age,
but no one's exactly quite sure.
And compounding the mystery, he's a wizard at history
of wars in old times and strange lands.
He regales us with tales in such elab'rate detail
it's like he witnessed each battle firsthand.
How the siege at old Troy went like last week's deployment
and a devious trap was well sprung --
We all can take pride in fights and plots alongside
of the Dendarii's Commodore Tung.

While we're speaking of him, for a merc he's not slim,
in fact, he's exceedingly round!
Thru the face and his chest and his waist and the rest;
well, his uniform's straining its bounds.
Not to say that he's FAT, no! We'd never say THAT!
His roundness is quite in good shape.
His stamina's grand and he chins with one hand
with arms quite as strong as an ape's.
Those who thought him 'fat' find themselves changing their minds
for his roundness is solid and firm
and his hand-to-hand combat tricks generally dom-
inate other men, women and herms.

In the Dendarii fleet, when the ship captains meet,
and the Admiral's neck might get wrung...
We all take some pride to be calmed down and guided by
our old and round Commodore Tung.

So much in this way goes the Commodore's day,
in one ship or another he's found.
It won't come a surprise that we're, under his eyes,
well trained from the wormhole to ground.
From small infantry raids to full shipping blockades
he's taught us the tactics and lore
With historic examples and anecdotes ample
of tacticians who've gone on before.
And he takes such great pains when he plots our campaigns
they're tidy and simple and cheap.
Then Admiral Naismith arranges three or four wild changes
and no one knows which way to leap.

We pull together instead 'cause ol' Tung keeps his head.
he's the anchor on which hopes are hung
And the fleet finally scrapes to 'nother hairsbreadth escape
thanks to good old, round Commodore ...
round old good Commodore ...
good round old Commodore Tung!

The Naismithing of Mercs [The Naming of Cats]

Naismithing of mercs is a difficult matter
it isn't just some Vor academy game.
It takes more than the skills of mastering patter

First you must think of all the logistics
Such as cargo, refueling, expenses and perqs
Then there's training, insurance, casualty statistics ...
All of these are important to workaday mercs.

So Naismith must promise, hand-wave, hypnotize;
Produce slick brochures of details and promotion
Stand so admirable to earn crushes and sighs
From fighters who love to be led to commotion.

But driving the forward momentum takes more
a secret name, worthy of trust and respect.
To demand oaths of allegiance, a VOR -
prefixed name can make heros of wrecks.

A Vor name's resource can be pledged to buy ships
direct spies to commit sabotage among foes;
Give diplomat's coverage to friends who must skip
out on therapy sessions or quartering's woes.

So a merc fleet's enspelled by a rep that's phenomenal
A name that's well thought of and spoken with pride
Else how can it keep up its price astronomical?
Or recruit from the best, thru the galaxy wide?

But the mercs are supported by a name more discreet
who's trusted and sponsored to missions covert
which need just the right size of squadron and fleet
and won't allow Vor-(shh!)'s rep to be hurt.

So two names are needed in fine equiposition
of one famous Admiral, one not-yet-cadet,
One "Sir"; one "My Lord", and a sneaking suspicion
that both are young rookies, and neither a vet.

But above and beyond there's still one name of power
But that is the name that you will never guess
The name that he calls himself in darkest hours
When he knows he's done wrong and would like to confess

When you notice the admirals's profound meditation
The reason, I tell you, is always the same
His mind is engaged in rapt contemplation
Of his Da, Mother, Sergeant, Gran, calling his name
Of the sound of their judgement and hope for his name
(Which they don't even mention, though it gives him no joy
for to them he will always be simply 'the boy'
and their voices ineffable ring in his head
which he holds and he shakes side to side in pure dread
he wonders what they think of his shiny new toy
Oh, Miles! Oh dear! Oh Boy, Boy, Boy, Boy.
Oh Boy, Boy, Boy, Boy, Boy, Boy, Boy, Boy, Boy, Boy.

You've really gone and done it, this time...)

Dendarii Cats Index

© 1998 Jeff Melcher

Webpage created by Michael Bernardi

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Last updated: June 8th 2002