“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.
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.
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 disguised 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.
I sit with a worried expression, fidgeting and twitching as Admiral Meower’s radio transmission came in. "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.”
“We-ell.” Ensign Ricky began. The ensign shuffled a nervous expression around on his face. “We-ell” coming from anybody didn’t typically mean that they had stuck to the rules, “I saw something. And I picked it up. And I took it back to my room.”
“You mean you stole?!” The other ensign blurted out a little to loudly. After a brief silence of checking if Lieutenant Lucky had heard them, their heart beat began to come back. Ensign Ricky moved a little uncomfortably, and tensed up. He began to twist his wrench harder. “You need to put it back! I don’t know what it is but you need to put it back It’s not worth it, Ricky!”
“It’s fur-gel. Okay?” Ensign Ricky sighed.
Nobody is going to notice just a little missing fur-gel, Ensign Ricky thought cheerfully, ripping off the seal, which he would glue back on later, and pumping the goop into his paw. It felt good as it seeped into and between his fur. He slicked it against his body. Then he got a towel and wiped off the excess gel. He was ready.
The light lit up the soft eyes of a feline as he violently tapped away at the keyboard to his computer. On the computer it read: I have successfully infiltrated the starship, Catnip. While I am a suspect, there are at least six other suspects here too. I’ve lasted five days already. The imbecile of a captain, Shtanky, or something, is already getting tired out. The poison in still safe with me. Contact me again soon. That was all. The unknown cat scrambled the message and then sent it, closing the laptop and silently putting it away.
Ensign Ricky slapped himself in the head with his paw. He looked down sadly at the bottle, again. This time, it wasn’t the half-full bottle that stared up at him. It was the bright orange label he had some how managed to overlook. It read: In testing; Being sent to laboratory.
Don’t leave this room. Don’t tell anybody I’m here. Don’t contact any outsiders.” Doctor Fuzzums emerges behind a bath robe. It didn’t seem as classy or cynical as a villain emerging from a shadow—but, in Doctor Fuzzums defense, Doctor Spot kept his room lit up! The last words Doctor Spot heard before passion out were: “I’m taking you hostage.”
“It’s in his glasses!” I shriek,“The poison Doctor Fuzzums wants to use to kill the Aswan tuna supply is in his glasses!” Panic arouses in the room and a loud bickering fills my office. The heads of all the cats in the room turn, searching for Doctor Fuzzums.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fuzzums takes Ensign Ricky and Dr. Spot hostage.
"Oh really, well what about Punchers. Does that exist?” . . . Dr. Fuzzums leaned his head back sincerely. Ensign Ricky brought his paw to his chin in thought. Then he shook his rapidly growing furless head.
“No, I can’t say that it—,” A firm punch from Doctor Fuzzums swift paw knocks Ensign Ricky out cold.
Lieutenant Lucky took the quietest gasp of recirculated air she could imagine, her suppressed breathing a thundering racket in the tiny space capsule she was sharing with two of her incapacitated crew members. Lieutenant Lucky grimaced at her subordinate, Ensign Ricky, who not only was black and blue from a punch received directly to the left eye, but was visibly black and blue. That wasn’t supposed to happen with a cat who (was supposed to have) had fur. Lieutenant Lucky ran her eyes over Ensign Ricky in distraught shock. I now have motivation to follow through on the proposal of a weekly checkup! Who knew that Ensign Ricky was in suck bad shape Lieutenant Lucky found herself slithering backwards—not from the pilot of the ship who didn’t realize she was a stowing away, but from the possibly-contagious Ensign Ricky. Lieutenant Lucky wedged herself underneath a shelf cram-packed with medical supplies and emergency field equipment, leaning her head outwards to view Dr. Fuzzums in the pilot’s chair. There he is… But what am I supposed to do about it? A maniacal covert spy has just stolen one of our two survey vessels and I’m in charge… For once in her entire promotion, Lieutenant Lucky regretted being in command. She wished that Captain Shtankadoodle were in charge of everything, like he used to be, his cleverly weird tactics saving the ship and crew members repeatedly and confidently over and over again. Lieutenant Lucky sighed with a hopeless tap to the communicator buckled to her suit. ………… No response. I figured… Lieutenant Lucky thought heavily, an enormous desire building in her to forlornly swish her tail. Unfortunately, one swish of her tail could send her on her way to the cold floor to join her other crew mates. Or worse. Lieutenant Lucky shivered and pressed her furry body up tight against the bone-chilling aluminum siding of the survey vessel. She knew that back on the Catnip, her home and practically family, her crew members were desperately trying to save her. Probably brainstorming genius ideas, while I, the head of engineering and repairs, can’t come up with anything a good as…an amplified communicator accelerated by a standard medical beacon! That’s it! Maybe this isn’t so hard, after all. Now I just need to get to the medical bags above me. How am I supposed to do that? Lieutenant Lucky let dismay seep into her thoughts, her four shoulders drooping as she closed her eyes frighteningly tightly. Her dreams of doing anything beneficial for this one critical mission were being dashed. She was, for all intensive purposes, dead weight on board the survey vessel. And if Dr. Fuzzums knew anything about this survey vessel, he would recognize the weight distorting. Good thing he doesn’t know a thing about it. Lieutenant Lucky knew The Lynx like the back of her paw. But what was she supposed to it? She succumbed to wish that everything about this day could be a dream. Ironically, her real dreams featured her doing heroic things like this. However they never ended this hopelessly. Lieutenant Lucky opened her eyes, a tear streaking her furry face. She was almost certain she could be assisting the Catnip now, if she hadn’t made the dumb decision to clamber aboard the survey vessel seconds before it lurched into outer space. At least I can count on the Captain to come up with some ingeniously bizarre plan—even if I can’t… Lieutenant Lucky let her thoughts trail off in defeat, curling herself up in a kitty ball and half-heartedly closing her eyes, while Dr. Fuzzums flew her farther and farther away from her home and “family”.
My eyes are telling me to keep them closed. To ignore the irritating tapping sensation I feel on my aching right thigh. But what am I supposed to do? I can’t just ignore this irritating sensation. Whoever is tapping me is tapping me on one of the few areas that hasn’t lost complete feeling yet. Don’t my pets know when to leave me alone by now? I thought I made it perfectly clear that I have no interest in cuddles…or “playing” or whatever. I like sleep, now leave me alone. My kitty eyes flash open like lightning flashes through air. What if my pets were waking me up to alert me that dinner was ready. I could live with that! Unfortunately, my eyes don’t bring me to the backyard that I know all to well, a field of stained concrete that my aching paws have traversed more often than I can count. Instead I see an aluminum sided, heavy duty office with a purplish kitty house in the corner. Kitty house? I’m digging that. Wherever I am must be pretty nice, I grin to myself, my yellowish fangs showing. And then I remember: I am the captain of the starship Catnip, with a crew of…well, I’m not good at numbers. Somewhere between one and million, I’m pretty confident. All this is pretty cool, except that three of my crew members have been taken hostage aboard one of the Catnip’s two survey vessels—and the entire crew (that is still housed safely where they belong, on board my ship) is completely braindead at coming up with a solution to communicate with them! In fact, due to a plasma leak that injured one of my most valuable expendable crew member earlier today, we’ve had to cut power to mapping and sonar around us. We’re practically blind! Ugh. The thought makes me want to conk out on the desk again, but I have duties. Yeesh! Sometimes I wish I didn’t have so many people counting on me to save the day with my weirdly awesome tactics!
“Um, Captain?” It’s Ensign Grace, my bridge officer. Unspoken and solitary, Ensign Grace is the one primarily in control of mapping and sonar and pretty much everything that power has been shut down to. I hope she isn’t waking me up out of boredom.
“Yes?” I tidy myself up, pretending I hadn’t just slept with my head on the table for an hour and had just been…checking to see if my desk was properly cleaned. Okay, nobody would fall for that. Everybody on my ship knows me too well. I relax and start licking my paws. On second thought, they taste so nasty, I’m better off keeping to myself.
“You said that you would have a plan on how to help Lieutenant Lucky—and all of the other hostages?” Ensign Grace bellows. I know that I’ve taught her well as her voice clearly reaches my ears. Just as everybody knows that more often than not, I power nap on my sturdy, mahogany and black glass captain’s desk, everybody knows that I have a seriously bad hearing problem. If you were looking for a mediocrely healthy cat, you won’t find him here. I have like, issues. But that doesn’t stop me from being the universe’s best starship captain! I stop myself from writing the trailer to my own movie and pretend to listen to Ensign Grace by staring at her eyes. But that just makes me hungry, seeing the gold flecks in her nearly round, green kitty eyes. I imagine the gold flecks as little cat food pebbles, and soon I’m listening to my own stomach growling instead of my Ensign. Ensign Grace looks thoroughly aggravated at me, and for a second, I’m the one that feels like I belong in lower rank.
“Oh, yes. A plan to save the hostages. And why do we need to save these hostages?” Ensign Grace grows weary as she slants her eyes at me; all I see is food.
“Because! Your head of engineering and my friend is on that ship! Among others! And the future failure of Aswan is on your paws if you allow Dr. Fuzzums to poison their tuna supply. Not only has the entire crew entrusted you to save them from dangers and threats, Star Convoy has too! Otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten this!” Ensign Grace bats my “Star Convoy’s Best” plaque across the room and leaves in a huff. As I watch my usually understated Ensign leave my office, a wave of guilt hits me, and it isn’t just because I had lost my spectacular view of Ensign Grace’s awkwardly-appetizing eyes. It was because I had disappointed one of my crew members. A pit develops in my stomach, but that’s just because I’m ravenously hungry. I wish I could have had an answer for Ensign Grace’s dilemma, reminding myself that not only were Ensign Grace and Lieutenant Lucky coworkers and friends, they were long-time roommates in the house they shared with their human pets. A feeling of guilt intensifies as I order a meal for myself from my office food regenerator. Usually Captain’s offices don’t have food regenerators, but I had had one custom-made for my office—Ensign Lucky of all, kitties, who ended up installing it for me. I sit down with my bowl of kitty chow and start brainstorming. In between savory crunches and gulps, I know I have a task to complete. Maybe even the most important task I’ve ever had since signing on with Star Convoy. I grope for my plaque that had been lividly batted across my big wide desk, and place it back where it belongs. Yes, it belongs on my desk because it makes a good and easily accessible back scratcher when nobody is looking, but it also belongs on my desk because it prominently, accurately, and proudly states: Captain Shtankadoodle: Star Convoy’s Best.
Suddenly, Lieutenant Lucky’s heart is in her throat, beating, throbbing. What was Dr. Fuzzums doing in the back of the ship? Lieutenant Lucky froze like a stone underneath the shelf she was curled up under, pressing her tail close against her side. How had she been so careless as to let it droop out into the main walkway?! Don’t notice anything peculiar. Don’t notice anything peculiar. Don’t notice anything peculiar. Don’t notice anything- Lieutenant Lucky couldn’t breath! Dr. Fuzzums had stopped cold in his tracks—right in front of her! Did he know she was aboard? Had he been pretending to not have heard her squeak as she leapt into the survey vessel, earlier that day? Lieutenant Lucky’s heart pounded in her throat. She didn’t want the same fate as Ensign Ricky—a fist to the eye. She quite liked not having any decolorations on her furry face. At least my face IS furry, Lieutenant Lucky thought to herself, glancing over at the ugly sight of her incapacitated crew member. Is that really you, Ensign Ricky? Lieutenant Lucky caught herself from wondering aloud. Her coworker, the one she had almost forgotten about with her new, authoritative position of lieutenant, looked so…frightening. What did he do to himself? And why? Lieutenant Lucky paused inquisitively. An alarming thought crossed her mind. What if Dr. Fuzzums had injected some of the poison into Ensign Ricky? Just a little, so he still had enough left to complete his mission? If that were the case, he wouldn’t have to be as alert—not if Ensign Ricky were dead! And what if a side effect is loss of fur? The flush of a foot-peddle toilet in the lavatory startled Lieutenant Lucky from her jumping to conclusions. Lieutenant Lucky assured herself that her mind was going wild being cooped up from so long. Lieutenant Lucky wasn’t much of a sitting down kind of cat, despite her own office and chair. She liked doing things and being active, not crouching on burning, stinging paws for over an hour. Lieutenant Lucky watched the lavatory door slide open and Dr. Fuzzums come out. Lieutenant Lucky didn’t feel just fear from Dr. Fuzzums anymore. She felt anger. Dr. Fuzzums probably hadn’t killed her coworkers, but he had caused them to become wasted lumps on the floor—some way or another. A burning desire made itself present in Lieutenant Lucky to retake command of the survey vessel, The Lynx, and show Dr. Fuzzums just who was in charge. And the burning desire wasn’t coming from the pain in her paws. Now I just need a plan, and I need to try harder than I did last time. This time, I won’t give up. Lieutenant Lucky eyed Dr. Fuzzums keenly. He was fumbling with the toilet paper holder on the door. Behind him Lieutenant Lucky noticed a fresh set of bold red pomegranate-tuna shampoo and conditioner. Well, at least we know that The Lynx is in good hands, in matter of cleaning. Lieutenant Lucky was surprised at her own confidence. Now I just need to get to that shampoo… Dr. Fuzzums strolled out of the lavatory, giving Lieutenant Lucky an opening to dart into the lavatory. For a split second, fear quelled inside of Lieutenant Lucky, and she lingered stationary, watching her opening fade before her hesitant eyes. This is my chance! Take it! NOW! Lieutenant Lucky couldn’t stay still any longer. She quickly ducked into the lavatory with quick and feather light steps. She was putting her plan in motion.
I shuffle frustratedly in my office comfy chair, as I stare into the abyss, appearing to not be looking at anything.
“Okay,” I say, putting my paws together in one last desperate attempt. If I couldn’t brainstorm a genius idea, surely the ship’s computer could! “Sally, hypothetically, if three crew members are trapped on a departing survey vessel, how would I rescue them?” I pause impatiently, hoping that this time, the computer had heard me right. I crossed my paws.
“You would ask the captain,” An austere voice came back. I hit myself on the forehead.
“Rephrase: What would the captain do, in this scenario?” I sigh heavily, a hefty burden on my four shoulders. I feel defeated in that I, Captain Shtankadoodle, was at an impasse. That was only happened when I was at a literal impasse, and couldn’t make up my mind on which direction to go!
“Infinite number of variables.”
“Tell me number one, then” I feel like I’m speaking in a kitten language as I spell everything out for my computer. Aren’t computers supposed to be smart, anyway?
“One.” Apparently not.
Ensign Ricky squinted his gold framed black eyes. They were sore. Sorer than anything Ensign Ricky could remember. But in the midst of an inflamed eyelid, Ensign Ricky saw something that made his eyes not so sore. In fact, he saw something that made not only his eyes debate his sanity.
“Uh...Lieutenant Lucky!” Ensign Ricky’s mouth blasted the news out faster than his brain blasted: Be quiet! Too late. Lieutenant Lucky was panicking—and he had gained the unwanted attention of Dr. Fuzzums.
“Who is Lieutenant Lucky?” Dr. Fuzzums said with his stereotyped english accent. His flat Persian cat face made him look less kind than that of other cats. Of course, that was combined with his anxiety furrowed kitty eyebrows. You can’t see them, but they’re there.
“WHO?” Dr. Fuzzums bellowed. It was clear that Lieutenant Lucky wasn’t the only panicking, as Dr. Fuzzums fists shook vibrantly.
“M-my commander,” Ensign Ricky stuttered, at a loss. He felt guilty for blowing his crew members cover, but what else was he supposed to do? He still didn’t even know how his crew member had even come aboard the Lynx. The last thing he remembered was being knocked out onto the floor, seconds before Dr. Fuzzums took off in the ship. A pleasant smile curves up onto Dr. Fuzzums fluffy grey face, illuminating his soft eyes.
“Commander?” The way Dr. Fuzzums voices his question gives Ensign Ricky the shivers. “Then I suppose you might know a thing or two about flying this thing.” Dr. Fuzzums urges Lieutenant Lucky into the pilot’s seat with a discreet weapon he pulled out of his mess of fur. Obviously, he had been prepared.
“Shampoo,” Lieutenant Lucky whispers softly as she passes by Ensign Ricky. Ensign Ricky savors Lieutenant Lucky’s closeness to him before processing her message. Shampoo? What was that supposed to be. Ensign Ricky sniffed himself. Did he stink? Ensign Ricky didn’t think that he stunk. What was ’shampoo’, supposed to mean then? Ensign Ricky stood boggled, deciphering Lieutenant Lucky’s message. Ensign Ricky waltzed into the lavatory and snatched up the shampoo. What place did a blood-red shampoo play in Lieutenant Lucky’s scheme? Blood red! Ensign Ricky had an idea of where Lieutenant Lucky was going with her clue. He tucked the shampoo into his uniform where it bulged out awkwardly the least, and scurried over to Dr. Fuzzums and his commander, currently being forced at gunpoint. Ensign Ricky quickened his pace in the vestibule of a survey vessel. Dr. Fuzzums did have a weapon extended! At Lieutenant Lucky!
“If you try to contact anybody, then you have another thing coming. I already disabled communications.”
“Okay,” I begin, bracing myself for crew wide disappointment. At least, I think hopefully, my crew member’s disappointment won’t be as great as mine when I consulted my computer. The name ‘Sally’, rings throughout my primarily-food focused mind, urging contempt. “We don’t have many options. I’ve thought it over, and the only thing we can in fact do is monitor our communications constantly.” I direct a glare towards one of my lazy ensigns, who shuffles nervously and slinks behind another standing crew member, ignoring my gaze. As far as I’m concerned, I am the only cat aboard my space ship allowed to be lazy and slack off duties. Nobody else. “HOWEVER,” I say loudly, partly because I have a hard time hearing even myself when I don’t speak loudly, and partly because my ship needs to know what I have to say. “I’ve contacted a nearby Star Convoy transportations ship. They are on their way to complete our mission of taking the weary doctors all the way to Aswan, and they will also lend us use to their mapping systems while ours are undergoing repairs.” I end my speech knowing that the hope of my crew members hasn’t been raised, and neither has mine. I feel a certain disappointment knowing that the safety of my crew, and an entire world, has been taken out of my paws, and now relies in somebody else’s. How can I know that I can trust them? I mean, I know that I can’t really trust myself with important stuff, because I forget to easily, but at least I know! I know nothing of this transportations vessel I contacted. My doubt intensifies.
“Hey—um,” My lazy ensign taps me on the shoulder,“This is getting a little-,”
“-Hectic?” I finish my ensign’s sentence for him.
“Exactly. And I’m kind of wondering, is this how all modeling gigs go?” My ensign flashes me a shiny white grin, and I’m boggled that my ensign thinks he’s on a modeling gig. Where did he ever get that impression? Do cats even model?
“You aren’t on a modeling gig,” I say slowly, a little confused. This time, I’m not confused by the disorienting cloud that follows me from my quarters and into my office every morning, lingering around me from dawn to dusk. I remind myself that from ‘dawn to dusk’, is not a valid statement since I’m in (and have been for a month or so) the cold depths of outer space.
“Well uh,” My ensign shifts his weight and his smile drops from his face. He suddenly looks angry, and like he means business. His mouth is pressed firmly. “That’s kind of what I signed up for.” He gives a fake laugh. I sigh. Seriously, where do these buffoons keep coming from? I tap my communicator, requesting my security officers. Note to self: Don’t trust Catted-In Employee Services. Despite their cool professional logo of a cat wearing a uniform, I need Subcommander Ocee to start taking charge of the hiring process. I begin missing my second in command, Subcommander Ocee. I mean, sure she can be a pain, but isn’t she reliable? Unfortunately, I’m a month away in space while she is undergoing a long-period training mission on Earth. I sink into my comfy chair and watch my security officers cluster around my misconceived ensign and take him away. I remind myself of the transportation ship I contacted. If I can’t trust a member of my own crew, how can I trust a member of anybody else’s? And then my mind switches over to how hungry I am.
“I’m bleeding! I’m bleeding!”
“It looks like it! It looks like it!”
“You’re causing me to lose focus! Do you want me to fly us into one of the asteroids in this asteroid belt?!” Lieutenant Lucky cries out, jerking The Lynx in and of deadly obstacles like a snake through a garden.
“What should I do?” Dr. Fuzzums cries frantically. He looks the least composed that Ensign Ricky has seen him since he was caught scrounging around the cafeteria for a midnight snack. That was before anybody knew he betrayed Star Convoy, Catnip, and his duties as a doctor to Aswan.
“Maybe wake up Dr. Spot? He might be able to help you!” Ensign Ricky cries, pretending that he was just as alarmed by Dr. Fuzzums shampoo stain as Dr. Fuzzums was. Dr. Fuzzum started to kick at Dr. Spot’s limp body.
“Save me! Save me! I’m going to bleed out!” Dr. Fuzzums drops to his knees, giving Ensign Ricky the perfect opportunity to pump more shampoo into his paws. With his free paw, he tucks away the miniature shampoo bottle, reminiscent of a hotel complimentary shampoo. Ensign Ricky touches Dr. Fuzzums tail, distracting Dr. Fuzzums from his chaotic abusing of Dr. Spot to awaken him.
“Don’t touch me there!” Dr. Fuzzums snaps, pretending to still be in control. It is quite obvious that even he is failing to convince himself of his charade.
“No,” Ensign Ricky gasps,“Look!” Ensign Ricky fakes a startled concern. Dr. Fuzzums whips his fluffy, breezy tail in front of his face.
“It’s bleeding there too! That’s the fifth spot! I’M GOING TO DIE!” Dr. Fuzzums wails, his desperate grip shaking Dr. Spot by his collar. Dr. Spot stumbles into consciousness. He can’t help it. Dr. Spot isn’t capable of denying his instinct to assist people.
“Die? Die?” Dr. Spot mumbles, placing his paw on his forehead. He couldn’t shake the woozy feeling he had acquired when he hit his head on the rubber diamond pattern floor of the shuttle pod. “Who’s going to die?” Dr. Spot straightens himself up, greeted by the disconcerting face of a frenetic Dr. Fuzzums. Dr. Spots head grows heavy, threatening to push him down to the ground again.
“Don’t pass out Dr. Spot! We need you!” Ensign Ricky can’t help sarcasm from seeping into his voice as he plays along. Fortunately, Dr. Fuzzums is so devastated he doesn’t notice. Wow, who knew that shampoo could get this person so riled up, Ensign Ricky stops himself from laughing. The unrivaled fun Ensign Ricky was participating in almost made him forget about the cruciality of this mission—and the stress he was obtaining from going bald. If Ensign Ricky were to let out as much as one snicker, his cover could be blown. Ensign Ricky reminded himself of his duties, faking his most convincing panic.
“Need! Yes, need! Need is a very appropriate word in this situation, now help me, you fool!” Dr. Fuzzums snaps, unsure what do with his paws, as he scatters them around in complete and total terror. Dr. Spot lifts a questioning eyebrow at his friend Ensign Ricky.
“What are you doing, questioning Dr. Fuzzum’s word? He’s telling the truth! Now save him!” Ensign Ricky clamored, mimicking his unnerving captor. Dr. Spot rubbed his eyes.
“Ooo-kay. Let me see your wound, then, Dr. Fuzzums.” Dr. Spot sounded doubtful, seeing that Ensign Ricky had formed a large lump on his face from Dr. Fuzzums punch, earlier that day, and it was turning a rich-plum purple. Dr. Spot looked irresolute. Was he seriously about to help the person who just took him hostage? Yes. Don’t let your lack of trust of this one person get in the way of your professional duties, Doctor Spot, Doctor Spot told himself. Dr. Fuzzums turned to show Doctor Spot the blobs of bright red, pomegranate-tuna shampoo caking to his grey fur.
“Why—that looks like,” Dr. Spot tilted his kitty head and examined Dr. Fuzzums ‘wound’. It didn’t look right… A waving motion distracted Dr. Spot. Ensign Ricky was waving his paws wildly and voicing some unsaid words. It’s a ploy. It’s all a scheme…And they need me to play along! Dr. Spot nodded his consent, watching as his friend pointed toward the rack of medical equipment stacked on one side of The Lynx. The rack was stacked high of emergency rations except for the bottom shelf. Although Dr. Spot wasn’t officially in charge of what happened with the shuttle pods, he liked the idea of keeping the bottom shelf clear for personal belongings, and even more so, research and specimens that might be acquired on a mission to an unknown planet. Dr. Spot was proud to see that his efforts to keep the bottom shelf clean had been followed through on—not that it has yet made any difference, Dr. Spot speculated.
“What DOES it look like? Speak up!?” Dr. Fuzzums bawled. It wasn’t just a matter of opinion, Dr. Fuzzums was seriously losing his mind.
“Oh my galaxy!” Dr. Spot exclaims,“I need a medical bag and I need it quick! If this is what it looks like, why—you’re going to need more than just my expertise!” Dr. Spot jumps to his paws, groping for the bulkiest medical bag he can find—not to the delight of a frenzied Dr. Fuzzums. Ensign Ricky snatched out the medical beacon. He was pretty certain that Dr. Fuzzums wouldn’t notice it missing from the overstuffed emergency aid kit in his deliriously fretful state.
“Here,” Ensign Ricky passed the medical beacon to Lieutenant Lucky. “I think you are needing this.”
“Perfect!” Lieutenant Lucky’s eyes fly backwards, checking if Dr. Fuzzums had heard her. Crying in utter turmoil, Dr. Fuzzums was more than preoccupied with himself. “I’m going to need your help. We don’t have much time before Dr. Fuzzums realizes he just has cleaning products coating his fur. Here,” Lieutenant Lucky passed her communicator to Ensign Ricky to disassemble, keeping her other paw busy prying apart the medical beacon. Ensign Ricky was suddenly self-conscious of his patchy fur—and in front Lieutenant Lucky! I will never be more thankful for my itchy uniform, Ensign Ricky thought to himself, hoping he wasn’t making a bad impression of himself in front of his not-so secret crush. “Oh,” Lieutenant Lucky’s gentle voice surprised Ensign Ricky. A week ago, he would have thought that that side of her had vanished. Apparently not, Ensign Ricky thought satisfactorily. “Nice with the quick thinking and all that. I didn’t really give you much to go off of with ‘shampoo’,” Lieutenant Lucky laughed loose-mannerly in a way she would have before she was promoted. “Honestly, I was just planning of cracking open his eyelids and pouring shampoo into them. I mean, it’s pretty brutal, but I couldn’t come up with anything else!” Lieutenant Lucky scattered some loose screws across the floor, delicately pulling up one strand of red wiring running along the inside shaft of the medical beacon with one of her, sharp, protracted claws. Ensign Ricky frowned thoughtfully.
“I guess that would have worked.” Ensign Ricky shrugged.
“No, I like this plan better. Thank you.” Lieutenant Lucky smiled, clasping the communicator Ensign Ricky had successfully disassembled into the rewired medical beacon. Ensign Ricky dislodged a piece of the medical beacon that would serve as an improv communicator. Despite the loud humming of The Lynx, all he was able to hear was the loud purring of his heart. No, that wasn’t true. That wasn’t true at all. All he could in fact clearly hear was Dr. Fuzzums cowardly bawling. Which meant that Dr. Fuzzums cowardly bawling sounded like purring. Weird.
“I’m getting a message,” My modeling crew member says without much passion. Yes, I dragged my ensign from the paws of security to replace hi position on the bridge. But before you start making any rash decisions on my part, you have to realize that I was two crew members short. I had to resort to getting ModelCat out of detainment. Or whatever his name was. I scold myself for being a hypocrite, remembering that I had just reprimanded Lieutenant Lucky for not remembering of her subordinate’s names. I have a lot more subordinates than her—all she has two! I try to justify myself. I glance around the command center of the ship—the Catnip’s heart, quickly counting the number of officers and ensign on the bridge. 5. Okay good, I DO have more than two subordinates, I tell myself. Really, I’m not any good at numbers. I scamper-limp, a type of run-walking that is all mine, over to ModelCat’s consul. In my defense, he has more of a name than some of the ensigns on board my ship. The Expendables, I call them.
“Well broadcast it!” I declare, hovering over ModelCat’s shoulder. It smells cologney and weird, and I realize that his cologne must be quite potent for me to smell it. I can’t even smell myself, and I can cause some of my crew members to wind up in sickbay for lightheadedness! I connect why the ensign sharing a consul with ModelCat headed was admitted into sickbay for “unknown reasons”. The message originating from my rogue survey vessel begins to blare out of the Catnip’s speakers. Some of the crew members shield their large, triangular cat ears, but I can hear just fine.
“We’re located in the Nile Asteroid Belt. We’ll try to be here for as long as we can—but we don’t know how long that will be. Please, come fast.” ModelCat ends the transmission by tapping at one of the many long bars on the computer screen that I find needless and confusing.
“That is it,” ModelCat says, tapping at a few more bars. I sort of wish I could understand what the random bars represent. Then I could tell if my crew members were doing anything of value with their time, I think to myself.
“So set a course!” I declare, a seed of hope growing within me.
“Uh. I don’t know how to do that,” ModelCat whispers,“I sort of thought that this job was a modeling act. You know, paving the way to my career with Fancy Feast.” I sigh disgustedly and let Ensign Grace take over. I seriously need Subcommander Ocee to take over the hiring process bit.
“The Catnip!” Dr. Spot practically sings, standing up from where he had been hovering over his sedated patient and trotting over to the sill framing the window. Lieutenant Lucky joins Dr. Spot on the cat perch sill, followed by Ensign Ricky.
“The communicator plan worked.” Lieutenant Lucky grinned, swishing her tail, proud of herself and Ensign Ricky. They all stare out of the dwarfed survey vessel window, waving enthusiastically at the giant starship they called home.
Dr. Fuzzums wakes up in Dr. Spot’s pristinely white medical bay, the smell of disinfectant tickling his pressed-in nose. That was probably because I had just stopped by the medical bay moments before.
“You said that I’d need more than just your medical expertise,” Dr. Fuzzums looks around from his position in a sickbed, his neck propped up against hospital pillows,“ But I don’t see any other doctors tending to me.” Dr. Fuzzums voice sounds weak, but that is from an accidental overdose of sedative.
“Oh, yes,” Dr. Spot grinned, pulling the sheets snug around Dr. Fuzzums. “You are going to need so much more than my expertise!” Dr. Fuzzums soft eyes grow alertly wide. “Why, you’re going to need…dandruff shampoo! Lot’s and lot’s of dandruff shampoo! I mean, you’re going to need A LOT. Sleep tight.” Dr. Spot grins smugly as he walks away from his patient, giving a pleased swish of his tail.
Captain’s Log: We made it to Aswan safely and deposited the more-than-enthusiastic doctors to the planet they have devoted their life and study to. As for the rest of the crew and I, we are more-than-enthusiastic to be headed to home sweet Earth—and while the rest of the crew may not, er, does not share my anticipation of the Subcommander joining us back aboard the Catnip, I am primarily pleased. I catch myself wondering if things would have been so hectic around here without her. Even the rest of the crew acknowledges the certain stability she brings to this ship. This time, she’ll be bringing more than that, though. She’ll be bringing an extra crew member. That’s right: We are now in communications range of Earth and I have already relayed the message involving a new deck hand to Subcommander Ocee. She was eager for work to do, since, apparently her training mission only lasted two weeks. Not two months. Please believe me when I say that I really, truly, seriously am not good at numbers—or remembering things. Unless it relates to food. Back to the topic at hand: I have a new crew member that soon will be joining my team, thanks to my marvelous, overreactive subcommander. Saying that I want to meet him would be a lie, because, honestly, I don’t want to meet him. I just want him to do his duties and blend into the rest of the crew. In fact, it would be great if I never meet him! Signing off.
“Really, Sally?”An aggravated expression is sprawled across my grey and funky-yellowish-white, scar-strewn face as I nestle farther into my purple kitty-house. I know that I don’t have feathers, but I sure do feel like they’re ruffled, right now. Maybe that’s because the closest thing to my “feathers”: My fur, is always in a tousled, tangled, disarranged mess. To get the full impression, I might even have to use more adverbs than that. Like knotty, mussed up, matted and… something or another. Coming up with adverbs is requiring to much thinking. I disregard my last topic and continue with my conversation. I rarely can keep a straight line of thought for a duration of time longer than a couple of minutes. “You got my entire entry perfectly,” The anger I have towards Sally stirs up within me, again, “and then—at the very end—call me ‘Stinkamoogle’? Really?” I always look pretty disgruntled, but this time, I feel disgruntled. I may be pretty mellow, but that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t have a lot of patience. I shuffle crossly, to stubborn to give up, but also unwilling to let the computer take me away from my critical order of business. “Fine! You win, Sally!” I give in,“‘Stinkamoogle’ is close enough! Publish log entry!” Any computer argument pales in comparison to my much-needed office nap. After all, it is the awareness of the captain that keeps the ship in ship-shape, isn’t it? And right now, Captain "Stinkamoogle" needs an awareness recharge.