Space Taxi: B.U.R.P. Strikes Back


By Wendy Mass

By Michael Brawer

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Book five in the intergalactic science-based chapter book series from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Mass and Michael Brawer!

Archie Morningstar fights crime across the universe alongside his dad and Pockets the talking cat. In Archie’s fifth adventure, Pockets is in a panic: all the tuna fish sandwiches on Akbar’s Floating Rest Stop have been stolen! He thinks it’s the fault of the irritating head of his alien fan club, but Archie suspects the mystery goes much deeper. Get ready for another thrilling and hilarious space adventure!


Chapter One:

Pockets Gets Big News

When you live with a talking alien cat, life gets pretty weird. Pockets—whose real name is Pilarbing Fangorious Catapolitus—is a very important agent of the International Security Force, or the ISF for short. It's been two weeks since my dad's space taxi brought us back home after capturing the Galactic, the huge spaceship owned by the universe's most dangerous criminal organization, B.U.R.P. In this time, my little sister, Penny, has forced Pockets to participate in many embarrassing situations:

1. She invited him to a tea party with her stuffed dragon, a bear, and an old doll missing both arms. Pockets didn't want to be rude, so he lapped at the tea, but it turned out the tea was not actually tea at all, but rather brown Play-Doh mixed with warm water. This led to many hurried trips to the litter box.

2. Then she held a make-believe wedding between Pockets and Penny's armless doll. Penny put the doll in a dress and tied Dad's best bow tie around Pockets' neck. She made me act as the ring bearer, and I had to walk down the hallway carrying two gold rings (crafted out of yellow Play-Doh, which Pockets now knew better than to eat) on a pillow. Later, when I jokingly referred to the doll as "Pockets' wife," he took a swipe at me with one sharp claw and left a scratch that required a Band-Aid and a formal apology, which he only gave grudgingly.

3. When Penny saw the wound, she immediately decided Pockets must be too riled up and needed a spa treatment to relax. So she gave him a body massage, which I think he actually enjoyed, because he fell asleep in the middle of it. When I pointed that out to him later, he claimed that he hadn't fallen asleep at all, but rather had passed out from the embarrassment of getting a massage from a little girl while a clay mask dried on his face and warm booties heated his paws. I'm not so sure.

Tonight I have been instructed to tell Penny that Pockets is taking a post-dinner nap so that she can't test out her new purple hair powder on him. Instead of sleeping, though, he's currently in my closet getting the latest report from the ISF on what they've discovered by searching B.U.R.P.'s spaceship.

Even though Sebastian—the head of B.U.R.P.—escaped with plenty of secrets, the ship has been turning up lots of great information. Unfortunately, Pockets said it's "classified," which means it's top secret and "better for my safety if I don't know."

"Wait, what?" Pockets suddenly shouts, flying out of the closet. He skids on four paws across my room, coming to a halt at my feet. He lifts one paw to his mouth and speaks into his watch. "I have to make a speech? Are you sure? Can't I just say thank you and then we eat tuna sandwiches?"

The voice coming through the watch sounds both breathless and excited. "No, my excellent leader. Your fans will have come from near and far to bask in your wondrous presence. They will want to hear from you."

Pockets must have hung up with the ISF already, because that voice could only belong to Feemus, the head (and I'm pretty sure the founder and maybe the only member) of Pockets' fan club. Sure, my family and I think Pockets is awesome, and are super-impressed with his bravery, intelligence, and skill, but Feemus takes his adoration to a whole other level. Pockets can barely stand to be around the little red one-eyed alien, which might seem mean, but I think he's embarrassed by all the attention.

A few months ago, I wouldn't have thought it was possible for a cat to get embarrassed. But a few months ago I didn't know there were such things as aliens or flying taxis that could take you to any planet in the universe. I certainly never guessed I'd meet a talking cat who worked for the ISF and helped keep the universe safe! Or that this cat would invite me and Dad to work with him, or that he'd come to live in my house! It's been a crazy time, but I love it, and so does Dad. I'm not sure how Mom feels having half her family flying around in outer space all the time, but she's a good sport about it, usually.

At only four years old, Penny still thinks Dad drives a regular taxi and that Pockets is a regular cat. Until she learns how to keep secrets, that's the way it has to be, especially now that's she's finally started talking!

"Let's see what my father has to say about this," Pockets says, then angrily hits his watch with his opposite paw to disconnect the call.

"What's going on?" I ask.

"Feemus said I'm getting a big award on Akbar's Floating Rest Stop this weekend and I'm supposed to give a speech. Ugh!" Pockets begins pacing in circles. I glance down at the rug. His claws are cutting a perfect circle into the cloth. I've never seen him this worked up, so I feel it's best not to mention that Mom is very fond of this rug and he'll have to answer to her when she discovers it's been ripped to shreds.

"An award sounds like a good thing," I point out. "You told me you've gotten plenty of medals before. Why are you so upset about this one?"

Instead of answering, he whips out his tablet and calls his father. "Hello, son!" the ISF chief shouts. "How's life on Earth?"

"We need to talk," Pockets declares.

I lean over to wave at the screen. "Hi, Chief, how ya doing?"

He gives me a salute. "Fine, Archie boy. It's a lovely day here on Friskopolus!"

Pockets stops pacing and glares at the screen. "You're in a particularly good mood," he says, clearly suspicious. "What gives?"

His father grins, which makes his long white whiskers quiver. "It's not every day one learns his son is going to be awarded the ISF's highest prize for bravery."

"So they're giving it to me for capturing B.U.R.P.'s most important spaceship and finally identifying its leader, something no other agent had been able to do?" Pockets asks.

"Well, no," his father says, shifting in his chair, "not exactly. Actually, the award is for being the only cat willing to go to the planet Canis."

"But I didn't even go on the ground," Pockets argues. "You know that."

The chief leans back. "This award is quite the honor for us both, don't you think?" he asks, as though he didn't hear Pockets at all. "And it's a big deal for all the agents stationed on Friskopolus who assisted you at the end of the mission."

Pockets opens his mouth to argue, but his anger must have deflated in the face of his dad's enthusiasm. "I guess it was brave. But is it really necessary to make such a big deal about it?"


On Sale
Jan 31, 2017
Page Count
144 pages

Wendy Mass

About the Author

Wendy Mass is the New York Times bestselling author of The Candymakers, Pi in the Sky, Every Soul a Star, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, and A Mango-Shaped Space.

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