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Nov 22, 2015

Missions and Suspicions Part 3

Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles

Last time on Star Cats:

“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. 

And now the continuation...

A fervent expression crosses over my anxiety burdened grey and white face.  I flick my ear.  It’s missing a hunk because of the many battles I’ve waged (When I’m not on duty) as a stray in my neighborhood.  Even so, I believe everybody on my star ship, the Catnip, respects me a lot.  Or, I did beleive that, until now.

“Read it again,” I say in the firmest, calmest voice I can muster, even though I’m really going bonkers on the inside.  Lieutenant Lucky glances at me for affirmation.  She knew what she was about to read wasn't easy news for me to take.  I nod my fluffy head.

I have successfully infiltrated the starship, Catnip," Lieutenant Lucky reads,"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.’”  Lieutenant Lucky, who has recently undergone a promotion, as well as a drastic mood swing that came along with the promotion, turns to me.  I think I see a faint shadow of the optimistic cat that used to make everybody smile hidden behind her serious eyes.  Even though I had found a way for Lieutenant Lucky to recognize her new behavior—and it had worked—Her new personality still stood predominant.  It was sad for everybody who had known her before her promotion, to see the strictness, almost like that of my second, Subcommander Ocee, that Lieutenant Lucky displayed now.  Sucommander Ocee is away on training for once, I think to myself, Something that I had to beg her to do.  Why, Lieutenant Lucky have to start acting like Subcommander Ocee now, on the few days we have without her?  I am quick to point out to myself that it would be way worse if Lieutenant Lucky chose to become Subcommander Ocee-like when my subcommander was actually here.  That would be even more chaotic.  My mind, which doesn’t hold thoughts for long, transitions to the fish app Subcommander Ocee had sent me a link too.  Even though Subcommander Ocee was undertaking a series of training lessons on Earth, and we were entering a second solar system in space, we still kept in contact by space-mailing each other with our tablets.  Oh, what fun it was to bat at the little fishies!  I didn’t know why, because I was going to forget anyway, but I made a mental note to tell Subcommander Ocee she had struck gold with the app she had found.  

“Captain,” Lieutenant Lucky interrupts me from my hectic chain of thoughts with the humorless voice I was beginning to regard as familiar.  Only, this time, she had a reason to be so solemn,“Are you going to do anything about this?”  Lieutenant Lucky was of course referring to the scrambled message it had taken hours for my ship crew to decode, the one where it mentioned me as an imbecile.  I scowl, but since my jaw is so soar and tense from the fighting I’m used too at home, none of my kitty-face muscles move.  I might as well have been smiling.

“I can’t do much,” I sigh, for once sharing Lieutenant Lucky’s solemness.  “The only thing I can do is tell my crew-members.  Tell them that there is absolute verification of a spy onboard the Catnip.”

***

“Where’s your fur-gel?”  One of the engine room workers groans as Ensign Ricky walks dismally into the room for his shift.  Lieutenant Lucky hadn’t been the only one to change after her promotion.  Ensign Ricky, her secret adorer, had too.

“I decided against it, today,” Ensign Ricky said quietly, sliding into his futuristic shuttle creeper.  As his daily routine, he rolled it underneath the belly of a shuttle pod.  Ensign Ricky furrowed his eyebrow and slid back out.  Since his kitty-face was covered in fur, Ensign Ricky’s coworker couldn’t see his eyebrows.  Ensign’s Ricky’s coworker just saw the confusion sprawled across his face.“The work is already done,” Ensign Ricky frowned.

“I know.  I finished the routine maintenance up early today.  Now it’s time to have a talk.”Ensign Ricky’s frown grew deeper listening to his coworker speak.  The ensign dramatically crossed his paws when he finished, and landed head first into the ground.  I empathized.  Sometimes, as a cat, it was easy to get carried away that you were actually a human.  (Especially with so much TV)  But as a cat, you have to remember: Somethings about you are purely feline.  Like having four paws to support you, not two.

Ensign Ricky’s coworker got up and quickly dusted himself off with his tongue.

“As I was saying,” Ensign Ricky’s coworker continued,“It’s time to have a talk.”  The coworker directed his gaze to Lieutenant Lucky’s office,“We’re going in there.”

“You didn’t tell her?” Ensign Ricky gasped, his gold framed black eyes growing big.  Ensign Ricky’s coworker shook his head and snickered.

“No, I didn’t.  The captain called her to his office, now follow me.”  Ensign Ricky hesitantly followed his coworker into Lieutenant Lucky’s office.  It used to be a broom closet/equipment closet before Lieutenant Lucky had been promoted.  Ensign Ricky turned away from the plaque, reading, “Lieutenant’s Office,” above the door.  It was yet another painful reminder of how much Lieutenant Lucky had changed in just twenty nine days, when she had been promoted.

“Sit down.”  Ensign Ricky’s coworker, sounding more like Lieutenant Lucky than himself, ordered.  Uncomfortably, Ensign Ricky took a seat in the small folding chairs directly across from Lieutenant Lucky’s tiny desk.  Everything was miniaturized in Lieutenant Lucky’s office.  After all, her office was in a closet.  Ensign Ricky’s coworker glanced around, making certain nobody could hear them.  Once he was satisfied, Ensign Ricky’s coworker spoke up.  “What’s going on with you, Ricky?”  He asked informally.  Again, Ensign Ricky shifted uncomfortably.  Ensign Ricky wasn’t in the mood to share any personal details of his life.  All he wanted to do was finish up his work.  Seeing that that was already done—an amazing feat, considering that it had been done by just one feline—all Ensign Ricky wanted to do was go back home to his quarters.

It wasn’t that Ensign Ricky’s coworker was being too nosy, Ensign Ricky knew that he was just looking out for a friend, but all Ensign Ricky really wanted to do was be alone.  Ever since Ensign Ricky had realized that the lovely and out-of-reach Lieutenant Lucky’s new attitude was going to stay, Ensign Ricky wasn’t certain what he was supposed to do.  He had even gone as far as to steal a bottle of fur-gel to impress in Lieutenant Lucky, but she still regarded him as invisible.  Doctor Spot had said that Ensign Ricky should strike up a conversation with her, but that didn’t work, and now Ensign Ricky was beginning to feel guilty over stealing.

“Come on, Ensign Ricky!”  Ensign Ricky’s coworker pleaded,“One day you’re depressed, another day you’re ecstatic, and the next day your depressed again!  So I’m going to say it again: What’s going on with you?”  Before Ensign Ricky’s coworker had the chance to interrogate Ensign Ricky any more, the captain’s voice rang loud and clear over the ship’s speakers.  Ensign Ricky let out a sigh of relief, and rubbed his sweaty paws on his fur to dry them off.  His relief didn’t stay for long though, his ears perking up when he heard my message.

“All passengers headed for Aswan and security officers, this is the captain speaking! Please come to my office!  Verification has arrived that a dangerous spy is on board the Catnip!  I repeat:  A dangerous spy is onboard the Catnip!”  Ensign Ricky jumped out of his chair, ready to use any excuse for him to leave this awkward situation.  He threw open the doors to Lieutenant Lucky’s Office.

“Hey!  We’re not done yet!”  Ensign Ricky’s coworker called out.

“I needed in the captain’s office!”  Ensign Ricky protested, dashing towards the elevator.  My loud voice was still ringing over the speakers, and I was broadcasting it all over the ship.  I suppose I had gotten into the same habit Admiral Mousers had, where I repeat everything thirty-four times.

“Wait!  I need to tell you something!”  The ensign called, his voice growing fainter.  Ensign Ricky stopped in his tracks, listening for the rest of what his friend had to say.  “You need to comb out your fur or something.  Your looking kind of rough—patchy, almost!”  Ensign Ricky blew off what his friend was saying with an aggravated groan.  It was just his coworker playing with him, anyway.  Ensign Ricky punched in some buttons to the elevator and quickly made his way to my office.

 ***

“What are you doing here?” I say too loudly, as some of the security workers turn their heads up toward me.  I wave them away with my paw, figuring that they had expected me to have found some sort of intruder.  I suppose, in a way, I had found some sort of intruder.  “You aren’t a security worker.”  I say my next words in a more hushed voice.  Ensign Ricky stands on his tip-paws to look behind my bulky body, where I’m blocking the plastic cat flap of a door.  I have two doors to my office, but the entire crew found it more comfortable to use the plastic flap, or as humans called them “pet doors”.  When humans say stupid things like that, I wish they would understand my meow when I retort back, “look who’s talking!”

Ensign Ricky lifts his head higher, still glancing behind me.  I fluff up my fur, hoping he won’t notice Ensign Ricketta in my room.  Already, my office is half full, and I hope that Ensign Ricketta is hidden behind one of the security workers or one of the doctors in my office.  She wasn’t.

“What is Ensign Ricketta doing here?”  Ensign Ricky had me.  He looks about ready to cross his paws like humans do on television, but he was smarter than his coworker.  Ensign Ricky stood firm, awaiting a reply.  My two—or maybe four?—shoulder blades slump, knowing that Ensign Ricky had cornered me.

“She kind of barged up here,” I lower my voice even more,“And I let her in because, you know, she’s…,” My eyes dart around hoping she isn’t to close to hear me, and my voice breaks into a crack, “expendable.”  There.  I said it.  Everybody on the ship knew what I said was true. Ensign Ricketta was expendable, primarily because nobody on the ship really knew her.  All they knew was that everything bad happened to her.  And that reputation had grown so much, that she was often requested for proposals, and weddings.

“Are you saying that you didn’t ask her to come up here?”  I give up, knowing full well by now that Ensign Ricky had a point.

“Fine.  Guard the door.” I shake my head and limp over to the doctors, where some of the security officers had already begun questioning them.

“This isn’t right!” I heard Doctor Archie proclaim.

“Just go through the x-ray,” Barked one of the security officers.  I was astounded that a cat could bark, but kept quiet.  What was happening now was very important, and most of the room must have sensed that too, because all the noise—except the noise of Ensign Ricketta randomly poking at my squeaky, comfy chair with a screwdriver—had lowered to but a whisper.  Doctor Archie grumbled and slipped through the scanner.  Nothing went off.  No noise.

“The poison isn’t on him,” One of the many security officers who had crowded around the x-ray mumbled.  He pushed Doctor Cocoa, the only female cat of all the doctors headed to Aswan on the Catnip, through.  Still no noise.  Then they prepared to push the black with white socks Doctor Inkwell through.  I was beginning to question how professional my security force actually was.  Doctor Inkwell was hurled through and came out the other end stumbling.  No noise.  I sucked in my breath as the fluffy, Persian, Doctor Fuzzums, with gigantic glasses was launched through.  Beep…beep…beep…  THUZUNGA!!!!!  My head, and the heads of all my security workers spins to Ensign Ricketta, who is bruised and bleeding from my chair falling on her.  I supposed nobody had ever taught her “righty tighty; lefty loosey,” I chuckled to myself before returning my attention to the problem at hand--A heap of leather and metal bolts smothering one of my only expendable crew members.  Beleive it or not, Ensign Ricketta is a very valuable part of my team.  I send some security workers on their way to help the hobbling and limping Ensign Ricketta into the medical bay.

Then I remember—something I’m not known to do—Doctor Fuzzums!  The barely audible, beeping noise had triggered when Doctor Fuzzums had gone through!  And then I pieced it together—Something else I’m not known to do—the poison was in the rim of his giant glasses.

“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.  I begin to feel lightheaded.  Sure, I feel lightheaded all the time, but I was beginning to feel lightheaded for a different reason besides something being wrong with me.  Doctor Fuzzums was gone, somewhere loose among the ship, and we were about to arrive at the newly colonized planet of Aswan in just three days!

 ***

Doctor Spot felt exceptionally good that Doctor Inkwell wasn’t the culprit.  His stomach was also twisting into knots, however, knowing that the spy was somewhere loose among the ship.  Doctor Spot's tail tingled as he thouht about the real spy, somewhere out, lurking amongst the ship.  Suddenly, Doctor Spot didn't feel so satisfied.  What if the spy was going to hold him hostage.  It was a long shot--but still!  Doctor Spot shuddered and sped up his trip to his room.  No long walk through the cafeteria!  Doctor Spot’s heart rate sped up.  He knew the he was clearly over reacting, but still—Doctor Spot didn’t want to be a hostage.  Doctor Spot broke into a gallop down the hallways, not concerned with how the other loitering coworkers saw him, and gave a quick “hello” to Ensign Ricky as he passed Ensign Ricky up.  Doctor Spot slowed to a halt, feeling like he was about to do a burnout.  He was breathing heavily as he tapped in the code to unlock his quarters.  Doctor Spot’s tried to calm his shaking paws as he tapped in the code a second time.  The first time he had shaken too much.  Success!  Doctor Spot flew into his room, knowing that he had made way to big a deal about being held hostage, and flopped onto his couch.  He felt like he could actually breath!  Doctor Spot took a few deep breaths, before his heart rate spiked up again.

“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.”

 ***

Ensign Ricky felt a little betrayed seeing that Doctor Spot hadn’t even taken the time to say a proper “hello”, but wasn’t going to busy himself with suck nonsense thoughts.  Doctor Spot hung up his coat and meandered into the bathroom.  He took a seat on the bathtub, looking directly across at the bathroom sink.  There, across from him, and looking about the consistency of hand sanitizer, was what haunted him.  That, and his now fading memories of Ensign Lucky.  Ensign Ricky sulked a few more minutes before standing up and grabbing the bottle.  He was going to fix the seal, and return to it’s proper place.  He didn’t need any more, and he recognized that he shouldn’t have taken it.  Ensign Ricky stared long and hard at the bottle of fur gel, half of it’s contents staring back up at him.

“How am I going to return this?!” Ensign Ricky suddenly cried out loud.  He fidgeted, regretting every decision he had made involving the fur-gel.  Ensign Lucky probably wan’t ever going to like him—as sad as that was—and now he had stolen something.  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.

Ensign Ricky’s eyes grew big.  Really big, as his friend’s words flashed back to him, “You’re looking kind of rough—patchy, almost!”  Ensign Ricky’s face turned white, but nobody could tell because of the fur on top of it.  The fur that wasn’t going to be there much longer.  Ensign Ricky ran into his small bedroom and buried his face in his pillow, wishing that what he had just seen was just a dream.  But he knew he was in reality.

To be continued in Missions and Suspicions Part 4

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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.