Missions and Suspicions Part 1
“And next is um, Ensign Lucky!” I stumble over my words, watching Ensign Lucky bounce up and down, ready to come up on stage for her promotion. I, Captain Shtankadoodle, had contacted Admiral Meowers to host a celebration, promoting Ensign Lucky to lieutenant, and Ensign Spot to doctor. Almost everybody on my crew was excited. Of course a few other ensigns from different ships were being promoted too, but I didn’t really care about them. A paw waved in front of my furry face. I realized I was up for a speech.
“Um yes,” I snap back into reality remembering I was still on stage, and expectant cats were listening for my speech. I stutter again, my stomach knotting up from nervousness. “Ensign Lucky is very nice…” I begin. “She uh…helped save our ship-,” I was startled as the crew let out a small applause, “on the Destiny II mission.” I continue, my nervousness beginning to disappear. Blank faces stare at me from every angle. “You know…the moon…that scientists are on…...the scientists that almost died? Um, the Catnip was sent on a mission to send vaccines to the scientists. Any of this ring a bell?”
“What’s the Catnip?” A small voice comes from the crowd.
“My ship you mor-! My ship.” I get a hold of myself, my eyes scanning the crowd, trying to see if anybody else had any clue about my mission. Nobody appeared to show any signs that they did. I sigh. “Well some aliens attacked our ship and Ensign Lucky saved it from being destroyed.” The cat equivalent of a smile lit up my face, but the crowd didn’t share my excitement.
“Where’s the romance?” A voice from the back of the crowd calls. Ensign Spot, who was still in the crowd, patiently waiting for his turn to come on stage, and Ensign Lucky, who had all eyes facing her too, looked just as confused as me. Everything clicks together in my mind—usually that doesn’t happen, but today it did.
“This isn’t a play or a musical or any kind of movie!” I shout. Anger practically steaming out of my ears. I was clearly annoyed. Cats look back and forth at each other. Then back and forth again. A long silence follows as one fourth of the crowd backs out of the large (and pricey) auditorium I had rented for my Ensigns' promotions. I sigh and turn back to the crowd as the last cat silently trots out. Her tail hung breezily behind her.
“As I was saying,” I start again,“This young Ensign deserves every bit as much respect as I do! I am constantly amazed by her diligence, patience, and optimism." Even though I am running out of all of that right now, I think, "She should really be the captain of the Catnip!” Before I could continue, Ensign Lucky looked at me with the questioning eyes of a pleasantly surprised ensign. I grumble again.
“No she shouldn’t. That was just a figure of speech.Llet’s try this again, simple and clear: She should get a promotion. She’s a good, talented ensign. She’s getting a promotion. Applause, please.” I take a deep breath as the room fills with clapping paws and the meows of satisfaction from Ensign Lucky’s crew mates. I noticed Ensign Ricky, toward the front of the crowd, hanging his head unhappily. He didn’t clap or meow. He instead seemed to be sulking. The thought was quickly replaced with how hungry I was though, because thoughts don’t stick around long in my mind.
“And next up is my wonderful Ensign-.” Ensign Spot flew up stage before I could pronounce his name, and I continued to give my speech.
“Ensign Ricky!” Ensign Spot, now Doctor Spot, bounds down the hall leading away from the auditorium. I had told them to immediately come back to the Catnip, because we had just been surprised with another urgent mission to a newly colonized planet. Isn’t it funny how everything is always “urgent”, and all the planets are “newly colonized”? Ensign Ricky turns around.
“I saw you sulking earlier in the auditorium after Ensign Lucky got promoted. What’s wrong?” Doctor Spot asks. Ensign Ricky sighs.
“I’m a puny Ensign. She’s a lieutenant. How am I supposed to get her attention now?” Ensign Ricky looked down with a drooping, disapointed, body posture.
“Aw! Now come on! You can still get her attention!” Doctor Spot coaxes, struggling to keep up with Ensign Ricky’s fast pace.
“No, I can’t. I never will.” Ensign Ricky sighs again, walking through the little plastic flap in the wall, or, the door outside. My ship greets them as the first sight they see, basking in the sun and shining like a prized silver jewel. Which is really cool because I spent a whole lot of money on a new buff and wax job for her.
“Ricky, stop it. All you need is to do something. You know, catch her attention some how. But still play it casual and cool. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just sit by her at the table in the cafeteria or something. Maybe pick up something she drops. You could start a conversation. She’ll at least get to know you. Right now she probably sees you as one of the expendable crew members. You know, the one’s that bad stuff always happens too, like Ensign Ricketta.” Ensign Ricky frowned, tossing the idea over in his head, thinking about it from different perspectives.
“You’re right Spot, I mean, doc, thanks!” The two underwent a security test, and then split up on different ways to get to their rooms. Doctor Spot needed to switch into his informal uniform, and so did Ensign Ricky. Everybody, including me, had dressed nicely for the promotions.
“Okay.” I pace back and forth from behind my kitty-sized desk. Four new cats in my office had sparked the interest of my crew. Murmurs were swapped back and forth from cat to cat about who these four new strangers might be. “Admiral Meowers just told me that we have to deliver these four specially trained doctors” I point to the four strangers,“to the newly colonized planet of Aswan.” My crew members gasped. Aswan, a recently discovered planet, was two solar systems away. This planet was so new, so unknown, that most charts did not have it listed yet. However, despite it’s isolation, it had made a very good name for itself in the tuna industry, where tuna was farmed in the Aswan High River. Felines who had visited also came back with rave reviews about the quality made things that the planet offered for sale.
“We are also bringing several crates of merchandise to a nearby planet. Ensign Ricky, I want you to do a safety check on the merchandise, to see if it’s packaged securely.” Ensign Ricky nodded, he understood that Subcommander Ocee wasn't there to do the check like usual. She was on a training mission back at StarConvoy headquarters. Surprisingly, nobody missed her, in fact, now the entire ship, including me, seemed much more relaxed. "Now, this neighboring planet is not on very good terms with Aswan, so I would prefer you don’t bring anything up about it once we reach either planet.”
“What is the neighboring planet called?” Ensign Grace, a typically reserved crew member asks me.
“Gobble Gobble or something, I don’t really know how to pronounce it, but it doesn’t really matter, because we aren’t suppose to mention it at all once we land.” I look at my crew as they process the information. They appeared to already be prepared for the trip. I point toward one of the four new faces. This one belonging to a fluffy, grey cat with soft eyes and a pressed in face. “This is Doctor Fuzzums, he is a Persian cat. Along with the other three doctors, he has been trained beyond just normal practices, and is now familiar with the diseases, sicknesses, natural medicines, and the history of Aswan-.”
“Who named Aswan?” A crew member blurts out, interrupting me. Doctor Fuzzums immediately responds.
“Admiral Rich, a sphinx, whose mother was born in Egypt. Thus, Aswan in named for Rich’s mother, after a town in Egypt.” I glared at the random crew member for his rudeness. He shrank back out of sight.
“And this is Doctor Archie,” I continue, pointing toward an orange and white tabby cat. I then introduce Doctor Cocoa, a well groomed, longhaired, cat. She appeared to be the youngest of them all.
“And finally Doctor Inkwell.” My crew members had already directed their stares to the last doctor, a kind-looking, black cat, and were looking him over. Especially Doctor Spot, I noticed, which had a certain cheeriness about him. I was proud of Ensign Spot though, he wanted to learn, and that was especially good for the insane encounters that the Catnip faced. You never knew when you would need a doctor. Luckily this time though, everything was peaceful.
The Catnip had already been in space for an hour, and every room of the ship was already getting darker and colder. Ensign Ricky walked around the crates he had been ordered to inspect, repeating the names of the doctors in his head. “Doctor Fuzzums, Doctor Ernie—no, Doctor Fuzzums, Doctor Archie, Doctor Cocoa, Doctor Inkwell.” As he finished repeating the names of the doctors for the two hundredth time, he was also done inspecting the crates. Ensign Ricky let out a happy whistle, admiring his work. He had neatly padded with bubble wrap, one entire box, and another box he had padded twice! A clear container disguisted by bubble wrap caught his attention. Ensign Ricky took a step closer, which he would have never done on Subcommander Ocee's watch, almost unable to believe that he had overlooked it.
“This is my ticket to winning Lieutenant Lucky’s attention once and for all!” He said aloud, tearing up his bubble wrap and reaching in for the container. He hated to tear up his neat job, but he could fix it, and besides, this was for getting Lieutenant Lucky’s attention. This was definitely more important than his bubble wrap job! He quickly did a makeshift fix for the box, promising himself that he would come back later and fix it for real, and then scurried off to his room. “I’m playing it casual and cool, Doctor Spot. I’m playing it casual and cool!” He repeated, a broad smile across his face.
I sit with a worried expression, fidgeting and twitching as Admiral Meower’s radio transmission came in. The one thing I was happy about though, was that I had told my crew to relay this troubling message to my office before they had had a chance to hear it. I would hate to worry my crew too. The last part of Admiral Meowser’s message verified my concerns, and I balled up into my tail. “Again, Gobheinleizgoble has declared war on Aswan. We have to warn you that spies may be on your ship, as we have located two of them on separate ships heading toward Aswan already. We believe that if there is a spy on your ship, he or she will have a poison on him or her to poison the Aswan tuna supply, and cripple the planet sending it into a state of poverty. We do not know if there is a spy on board you’re ship, however we do ask that you stay alert.” I press a yellow button on my desk half-heartedly. The entire crew needed to know this, not just me, and I also knew that Admiral Meowers was the kind of Admiral to keep repeating the same message thirty-three times in a row. That meant that my crew-members were sure to hear it. At the end of the transmission, I could already hear a nervous bicker come from outside my office door.
“So much for a ‘completely sound proof starship door’ like the ad promised” I mumble to myself, picking up a microphone. The microphone would boom all over the ship, yes, even in the bathrooms, so that my crewmembers could hear me. “Everybody, if you have any suspicions-,” I glance over to the 4 and counting emails already coming in on my computer, “please tell me in person, or, cat.” The emails suddenly stopped at 15. I put the microphone down, amazed by how fast my worried ensigns could type. I was, also, still troubled by the fact that a spy was most likely on my ship, and very possibly, one of the specially trained doctors, that Aswan needed. But even maybe one of my own crew members. I braced myself. I had to stay strong when I walked out of my spacey-cold office. I needed to be a good figurehead to my crew, and to not be knocked over by the flood of crew members probably rushing to tell me some information about a spy. Oh, and I needed to brace myself from not becoming the first feline-popsicle as I made it toward the heating controls. This eco-friendly thing the Admiral put the Catnip on, where I wasn't supposed to use the heater or air conditioning unless I absolutely had to definitely wasn’t cutting it for me. I tap slowly at some controls, surprised that I wasn't acting as angry as I felt inside, and walked out the door. What can I say? I'm a relaxed captain! Four cats were already lined up and talking over top of each other to tell me some sort of news. Now the peace I had been experiencing on my journey just seven minutes ago was completely gone, just a memory now. I begin listening in on the worried crewmembers quick talking, realizing that the rest of my day was going to be filled with this insanity. Probably even the cats in the cafeteria would be trying to hound me while I ate. But what about the spy? Where was he or she right now? And what about the war on Aswan? Would the Catnip be in touble for dropping off supplies? Worries flood into my kitty cat mind, and I couldn't do a thing about it.
To be continued in: Missions and Suspicions Part 2
Yet another addition to, "The Sun Always Shines On Lactolia."
Another addition to, "The Sun Always Shines In Lactolia."
Like usual, its so long that its painful! (But you know you can't resist reading it, anyway.)
Another addition to, "The Sun Always Shines In Lactolia."
An addition to, "The Sun Always Shines In Lactolia."
A spin off the of the much-loved "Star Cats" series.
The behind-wiggling sequel to 'The Big Dent' Part 1.
As if the threat of a comet bound for the Solera Station didn’t seem looming enough, with the entire ship induced into a nervous, whispered panic, Subcommander Ocee could only keep from biting her claws and resisting the impulse to shrink away into a tight cranny—a box, a nook in the insulation, a raccoon trap—anything would do, really, to get away from this news: Lieutenant Lucky had just confirmed that the comet everybody was worried about was only seventeen minutes from impact.