The Sun Colony: Part 2
Clumps of singed fur waft to the ground, and it isn’t floating carelessly through the air because of the massive amount of shedding due to the crew (the dreaded shedding season has hit the starship, Catnip, by storm again), but due to Felina’s limp body being shuttled into the medical hub by several diligently working ensigns. They seemed to have appeared from nowhere
Doctor Spot blinked twice, the idea in his head that these unfamiliar ensigns had emerged from his medical closet bewildering—it must have been a hallucination, imagining that these “expendables” had carelessly waltzed out of his medical closet, surely. Right? Right? Or is THAT where the expendables nobody hears about hide until necessary?
Radiation burns caught the doctor’s eye and suddenly Doctor Spot realized this patient’s symptoms were more than just the symptoms of another careless overdose on one of the medicines he had prescribed. He snapped into take charge mode as his new number one priority jolted into convulsions.
“She’s in shock! Her body is shutting down—her circulation is jeopardized! Quick, get the intravenous catheter and start the fluid therapy NOW! What are you doing not getting the antimicrobial emollient?! Where is my gauze?! Don’t you realize she is insanely susceptible to bacterial infections now that her epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis are scorched?! Over 30% of her body is burned— she’ll be suffering anemia—and for the life of me why isn’t somebody getting a blood sample?! Don’t you realize that this feline is SEARED?! I need to get some electrolytes in her, and I can’t do that without knowing how much! Do I need to do everything myself—her prognosis is grave as is… Won’t somebody give me a paw here? I need some pain medications! Stop thrusting equipment into my face—I can’t graft anything without fresh skin and this poor cat looks to be all of it! Besides, haven’t any of you been to medical school?! These are RADIATION burns! How am I supposed to know how this will heal?! Even if she did have good skin I can’t start slicing it up and reapplying it—Is anybody taking a diagnosis or do I have to do that too?! I’m still waiting on my gauze!” Doctor Spot shouted out his demands with the best of intentions, the intensity of the situation in the usually quiet sickbay spiraling far out of the confines of whatever Ensign Ricketta would daily walk in with—ranging anywhere from never before documented poison carrot juice to radiation burns just like this—except far more minimal. For once, Doctor Spot was thankful for the precarious positions Ensign Ricketta couldn’t resist, for it exercised his training for the more serious dilemmas, like the one he was now plagued with.
“If this patient would have come in here just a few moments later,” Doctor Spot found himself mumbling after he had stabilized his patient’s blackened body, the result of ionizing radiation,“I wouldn’t like to imagine what would have happened.” He turned to the two patrons that had brought Felina’s limp body to the medical bay in the first place. They seemed to have appeared just as randomly as the ensigns that had assisted Doctor Spot had just disappeared, lugging in a near dead feline body. “Tell me,” Doctor Spot voiced the question he had been to overwhelmed to ask, earlier, “How did you get to her so fast?”
“Well, um,” A fluffy brown cat with matted fur and a collar reading, ‘Burly,’ began hesitantly, the same hesitant posture he had held all the while he had been in the medical hub, upheld. Suddenly, Doctor Spot remembered the relieved the feeling when these two cats, undoubtedly a couple from the handful of colonists the Catnip was transporting to the Solera Station, had up and disappeared.
Doctor Spot felt his paw pads perspiring, and they weren’t sweating because of the air-conditioning failure flooding the ship, Catnip, with an intense amount of heat as it barreled into a sun. They were damp with worry wondering where this unruly looking bunch had disappeared to, after all. And for just a few moments? Even worse, Doctor Spot reminded himself all over again about the worry that had seized the entire crew just a couple hours ago: the worry that the colonists being transported, the very ones that were put on a seven year waiting list to become “pioneers” of sorts, wouldn’t have any place to colonize, crude as it was! News was, the Solera Station, coined, the “Sun Colony” by some, had been hit by a comet with a projectory 12 kilometers away from the station! How could the chunk of ice and dust even manage to graze the station, no less hit is full force? The question baffled Doctor Spot, oblivious that his question still hadn’t been answered. At the sputtering of a frenzied answer, Doctor Spot snapped back into reality.
“We were waiting for her to come back to the ship but she just wouldn’t! So we tried to contact her but that was pointless too! And then, and then we had to take matters into our own paws so we took the shu-,” The cat named Burly slapped his paw over his yammering partner’s mouth, his eyes peculiarly wide, and not just because he was a Scottish Fold cat.
“We were in the right place at the right time,” Burly answered firmly, cryptically. At that, Burly motioned to his brother that it was time to leave, a firm nod of kitty head complete with mashed down ears. The two mysterious colonists padded silently out of the medical hub.
Doctor Spot was left staring, even though the spectacle had left. Why had these colonists, both brothers, Doctor Spot had deduced, by the ear deformation they both shared, seemed so uncomfortable? What were these two colonists trying to hide?
Finally, when Doctor Spot decided he had been too on edge to give these newcomers the benefit of the doubt, he curled up on the visitor’s chair beside his mummified patient. He dared to give the pitiful (but stable) body a half-hearted glance, before tucking his tail underneath himself and propping his head solemnly between his paws.
Doctor Spot closed his eyes, but even in the darkness of his eyelids, he could see images, figures flashing before him. First, the bizarre way the expendable ensigns had seemed to pile out of his medical closet, desperate, anxious to be of some use—surely that had just been his imagination, right? Second, the terrifying radiation burns that shocked Doctor Spot as to the fact that his patient had imagined to stay alive—where had they come from? Thirdly, the way the perplexing colonists had been not so agile in dodging Doctor Spot’s inquiry. Fourthly, the picture of the station Doctor Spot’s heart leapt at visiting—the station with green and red and purple and every other color of the rainbow solar flares leaping, dancing, glimmering and twirling up to kiss the wide-windowed viewing deck—being rocketed into a ball of flames. How much longer did it have until it collided with the sun it was shuttling towards? Three hours? Five?
But even more than all of these uncomfortable images, Doctor Spot couldn’t get the image of folded ears out of his mind. And not the kind of folded ear that happens when your human pet plays a prank with you and flips your ear inside out, trying to see your reaction as you jerk and squirm, trying to get it righted, but the folded ear only common to the Scottish Fold. Burly and what Doctor Spot had decided was his tiny brother, both shared the same ear degeneration, a dead giveaway that they were Scottish Fold cats.
Finally, Doctor Spot fitfully pieced together a piece of information that did nothing more than open the door to more questions. More puzzle pieces that he couldn’t piece together: His patient, despite the radiation burns, undoubtedly shared in the same Scottish Fold heritage as the confusing guests that seemed to vanish—and appear—at will.
Felines had been pestering me all evening: “How are we going to save the Sun Colony?” “Do you have the solution yet, Captain?” and most recently, “Calling, Captain Shtankadoodle: Critical evidence to the Sun Colony’s misfortune has been located. We need you urgently to examine it!”
Well I want whoever is operating the microphone to know something, (I have a hard time putting voices to names and faces without actually seeing the person who’s speaking to me. As a matter of fact, I have a hard time putting voices to faces and names even when I see the person I’m speaking to.) and I want those microphone operators to know it now: I’m sick of all these big words that require thinking to understand, like “urgent,” and “critical.” Also, I’m tired of people calling the Solera Station by its Sun Colony slang. Why can’t people be responsible and understanding around here? Why don’t they actually listen when I tell them these things! I, Captain Shtankadoodle, swap by fluffy, bur-filled gray tail against by furry chair, unsettling a cloud of sticky fur from it’s entangling fabric that only adds to the hot and uncomfortable fur ball that is my ship, the Catnip, now that shedding season has begun and the air-conditioners have gone out. That’s when my ear, missing a chunk like a chip off a fine china teacup, goes up to the sound of a message broadcasting throughout the ship. Just one ear goes up, because I’m really more interested in going back to sleep than performing my duties as captain. Yes, yes, I know. I’m really in no way qualified to be flying the flagship, Catnip, around the merciless depths of space (er, merciless for the expendable ensigns that hide in the nooks and crannies of the ship) and I scarcely know how I got the position I have, really! Ssh. Don’t tell.
This is what I hear, “Calling, Captain Shtankadoodle, for 158th time, PLEASE, please please come to the main bridge!”
“Ah, give it up, you’re bothering me already!” A voice I don’t recognize hollers. I decide that perhaps one of the colonists I’m transporting is rattling off. I’m impressed by the volume of his voice, and silently, I agree with him. I’d rather be devouring a dish of King’s Buffet then doing some sort of official business. BORING. “If the Cap’n ain’t answer’n yet, it’s a lost cause!” The colonist continues from somewhere outside my office. “Your cap’n is a bum!” Now that I take offense at. Not that I know exactly what, ‘bum’, means, but the way it was said makes me feel uncomfortable.
Since I’m not one to remember grudges (or anything, really), I find myself forgiving the irritated colonist. But, for once in my life, the definition of ‘bum’, intrigues me. I decide to ask my computer for details.
“Sally,” I speak to my computer,“Show results for: Definition of bum.” In an instant the results are at my paw pads, hundreds of them. Or something.
“Concise results,” I say, in the most intelligent meow I can muster. The image that appears on my desk screen (My desk functions as a desk AND a touchscreen! Brilliant!) must be rigged.
“It’s…a picture of me,” I mumble in disbelief. Then I gag on a free floating hairball. Bleh.
When I hear the same message that the colonist had sounded out about, my mind moseys back to topic at paw.
I take a deep breath of warm air, the recycled air whistling through my stuffy cat nostrils, quickly forgetting all about the practical joke my computer had discovered. (Again, I don’t remember things for very long.)
“Fine.” I respond with the swipe of my paw at a radio on my desk. I think I here a cheer arise from the deck crew outside my office.
“Um, Doc?” The first thing Doctor Spot noticed about the crew member cautiously walking into the quiet medical hub, a tension of unease blending with the ambient sound of medical equipment and the Catnip’s engine, was the white and brown cat’s folded ears. Another Scottish Fold? Is it Intergalactic Scottish Fold week? Was Doctor Spot’s first thought, doing all he could do from keeping the startled expression reverberating through him from reaching his once gleaming, but now stress laden eyes. Doctor Spot remembered his manners.
“Whatcha need? I don’t recognize you—are you new?” Doctor Spot wondered aloud,“Are you having a hard time with your catnaps? It can be hard to get used to being so far from home,” Doctor Spot concluded,“But I have some sleeping pills that’ll knock you out right away,”Doctor Spot found himself offering, digging around his meticulously organized medical hub for a bottle of sleeping pills. “This is some really good stuff, too,” Doctor Spot babbled on, uncomfortably aware of how hard he was trying to act normal around this new crew member. But the ears… Doctor Spot protested silently to himself, feeling ashamed that he was writing off his new coworker as awkward, like the shady fellows who had ominously appeared, then vanished, then reappeared, and then cooly left earlier that day. Wow. It feels like its been longer than just one day, Doctor Spot shot a sorrowful glance at his limp patient. “There has never been one casualty or complaint about these pills,” Doctor Spot found himself talking again. He paused, then corrected himself,”Well, there has been one issue with these pills,” Then, in an almost murmur,“Who would have thought Ensign Ricketta would have gotten something as violent seizures from these innocent little pills? It’s just…chamomile…” Doctor Spot gave a brief frown before batting it over to his guest.
Doctor Spot’s guest smiled apologetically.
“Actually, I came here wondering if I, um, could help out here,” Doctor Spot thought he saw his guest blush through his fur. A confused expression knit its way across Doctor Spot’s furry forehead.
“But—but your an engineer. Why do you have any interest in medical studies?” Doctor Spot closed his eyes to think if he were confusing the uniform symbols. He wasn’t. The shiny silver badge of a pristinely kept survey vessel is unmistakably the badge of an engineer. I mean, usually the engineer’s badges are caked with goop from fixing the regenerators—and now, the degenerators. Doctor Spot added to himself, remembering the newest invention to sweep Star Convoy by force—a device to eliminate all the trash generated by regenerators with only the command of a meow. Or caked with goop cleaning the survey vessels themselves, so they usually aren’t so shiny, but they’re still engineering badges.
“Oh! Well, uh, um,” Doctor Spot’s guest’s eyes swept over the medical hub, lingering a second longer on Doctor Spot’s near mummified patient. “I might, uh, um,” Doctor Spot’s guest jerked suspiciously, and he pursed his lips oddly as he gazed off into the distance. “switch my field to medical studies.” Doctor Spot’s guest finished with a squeaky meow.
No your not going to switch your field to medical studies. Your as much born an engineer as you are a Scottish Fold, I can tell. Your here for my patient, don’t lie to me. Why are you so interested in her? Are you related to those other shady fellows—Tiny and Burly—like I initially suspected? Something is going on, and centered—or at least heavily involved—with this lady, who mysteriously comes in with radiation burns, though nobody will tell me why. Thoughts fell into place like Tetris blocks stacked neatly in Doctor Spot’s brain. Doctor Spot narrowed his eyes at the new fellow, keeping his gaze long and hard for a lengthy time. Finally, when the new cat was about to start sliding around the medical hub’s white tile floor on wet with perspiration paws, Doctor Spot determined his answer.
“Fine. Welcome to the medical hub.” A joyous expression burst over Doctor Spot’s new volunteer’s face, and Doctor Spot knew as sure as he knew the day was red on Hewen IV that this volunteer was desperate to be in the medical hub--and for continuous lengths of time.
“Why—that’s just wonderful—I, I’ll make myself useful right away—what do you need?”
“Your name.” Doctor Spot’s new volunteer looked mortified.
“Of course! My name is Klein!” Nice to meet you, Klein. I’m Doctor Spot, and I'll be keeping a close eye on your every single move while your here in my medical hub. And I’m going to figure out just what's going on right here in my medical hub--and why.
“Alright, who wanted me on this bridge and why? Does it involve food?” I ask directly, my mangled grey and white fur looking plenty threatening enough, not to mention my one chipped ear tilted backwards in displeasure as far as I could bring it.
“No, it doesn’t involve food,” Subcommander Ocee began speedily, knowing my interest was dropping faster than my head after a full, two hour captain’s shift on the deck. “BUT,” Subcommander Ocee prolonged her word as if it would somehow renew some sort of curiosity within me. It did. What can I say? She said it like this, ‘Buuut,’ like setting bait right before my very eyes—no, make that mouth. I can barely see anything out of my eyes. “Lieutenant Lucky discovered some crucial evidence that suggests the Sun Colony’s misfortune might not have been an accident.” There it was again. The Sun Colony wouldn’t anybody call it by its proper name—the Solar…Flare…Station. Or something.
“And what is this evidence?” I sigh with disinterest. As many of the duties I manage to evade or sleep through as Captain, some things are just mandatory. Like asking questions.
“Watch this,” Subcommander Ocee, although usually serious, replies eagerly, probably excited that I’m paying attention at all. My mind wanders, okay! Subcommander Ocee clicks a button and the incredibly wide viewing screen that spans an entire wall in the front of me switches into an animation. Whoa! Who knew it could even do that?!
My inferior ranking crew members nonchalantly paw away at the touchscreen in front of them, performing their duties, not at all shocked by the viewing screen that just ***literally***turned into an animation before my eyes. I pretend to be cool about it, as if this technology is nothing new to me. Yawn.
“Did you see that?” Subcommander Ocee stops the animation. I answer honestly.
“No.” Subcommander Ocee clicks the button and the animation starts over again. I quickly scan the crew members. A casual ho-humness, aside from the worried murmer of the fate of Solera Station, or desperate and unlikely solutions to Solera Station’s dilemma, drifts lazily among them. Yawn. I try to gather myself and pay attention to animation that Subcommander Ocee reset before me. This is what I see:
A comet hurtling through space. It kind of looks like a meatball. Not now, Captain, I reprimand myself, trying hard not to get distracted. Then the space meatball encounters a blip. What was that? It was gone so soon… And suddenly—
‘What?!” I wonder if the anomaly on the screen that I just witnessed was something that was normal, like the viewing screen changing into an animation. To the alarm of my crew, wave of satisfaction washes over me. I was right, the comet unpredictably jumping a vast distance of space—with no explanation at all—is definitely an anomaly. Why, it jumped full three feet on the viewing screen to a completely different projectors—one headed straight into the Sun Colony! Rats, they have me saying ‘Sun Colony,’ now, too! Again, Subcomander Ocee resets the animation, but this time, she resets it to the blip that briefly appeared on the screen. Good, it wasn’t my eyes playing tricks on me
“This,” Subcommander Ocee says in a way that builds anticipation. How was she so good at this?! I hang onto her very word with heightened inquisitiveness. Weird. “Is what Lieutenant Lukcy and I suspect to be an illegal device—the Repulser Ray. It uses radiation to repel objects.. Very, very large objects, like comets or even space stations. Now there are legal forms of these, that use magnets to repel objects, and they aren’t nearly as dangerous, but for safety purposes, they aren’t legally allowed to move anything larger than…a metal chair. But this device, on the other hand, not only moves large objects, it degrades after use. Ensign Grace is checking for radiation residue around where the comet was manipulated, but so far, nothing. Also,” Subomander Ocee continues, and I feel my eyes growing heavy,” This wasn’t a one cat job. Lieutenant Lucky found this after hours of combing though the Catnip’s records,—in fact, she’s more than doubled the slowness of this clip,” That explains it, I blink to myself, trying not to fall into a snoring heap right where I was standing in front of all my deck crew. “Usually the blip wouldn’t have even been noticed if the clip was going at its proper speed. Somebody did a very poor job at covering tracks.” Subcommander Ocee concludes. Phew! The it's almost over, I sigh thankfully to myself. “AND,” Subcommander Ocee pipes up again. This time her fancy length extension isn’t going to work on me. I begin to thaw my fluffy, tangled tailed to show my disinterest, and discover the added benefit of fanning the fur balls (yes, it’s that time again: shedding season) out of my face. But the words from Subcommander Ocee manage to shock me. “Lieutenant Lucky and I have done some research, and discovered that not one ship has come very near us this entire time. Likely, unless the pilot of the repulser ray was on a death mission for himself or herself, the pilot is in fact on our ship. You know, because the Repulser Ray degrades and all.”
“Wait, we’re housing a uh…bad guy?”
“Quite an informal question, but yes. We are, most likely, in fact, housing several ‘bad guys.’”
To be continued in: The Sun Colony, Part 3
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.