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Jan 28, 2016

Missions and Suspicions Part 4

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. 

--

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. 

And now the continuation...

Ensign Ricky stifled his hysterical breathing from his pink kitty nose.  Where was Dr. Spot?  He whirled his head around the medical bay, his frantic breathing nearly pushing him onto the floor with the enormous gulps of air he was now forcing himself to swallow.  Dr. Spot…I need you right now, Ensign Ricky let out in a whisper.  I really need you!  His gold-encompassed black eyes started growing wet, and Ensign Ricky didn’t even have the doctor to tell him if the tiny droplets forming around his eyes were tears, or some weird, mangey swamp disease that Captain Shtankadoodle had contracted while trekking in the spindly tree combed marsh behind the suburb he lived in.  Captain Shtankadoodle was one of the only stray cats onboard the ship, and while at first Star Convoy had seen that as a downside, they had soon realized that he had guts far beyond any of the house cats on the ship.  Of course, Captain Shtankadoodle's guts alone did not get him hired.  It was in fact how efficient he kept the crew running--Doctor Spot always had work to do!  Work trying to discover whatever mangey swamp disease Captain Shtankadoodle contracted...  Ensign Ricky’s stomach flipped—maybe he did have Captain Shtankadoodle’s mangey swamp disease…it wasn’t impossible.  Thankfully, even with his peculiar bog diseases, Captain Shtankdoodle was quite possibly the most level-headed cat on the ship—aside from Subcommander Ocee, his second, who was currently undergoing an intense training mission on Earth—,which was ironic, because more-often-than-not, Captain Shtankadoodle didn’t have a head.  Yeah, Ensign Ricky admitted to himself, he gets himself into way to many fights than his age will permit. Ensign Ricky's dilemma at hand made itself prominent again.  A frown slithered onto Ensign Ricky’s face as images of the nightmare that was becoming a reality flashed before his eyes.

“Where’s my doctor when I need him!” Ensign Ricky bawled, tension building up in his overly stressed kitty head.  He halted from throwing himself onto the floor in despair, when the concerned eyes of Ensign Ricketta, recovering from surgery, and Dr. Inkwell fell onto him.  Ensign Ricky slapped himself.  How could he have been so silly!  The Catnip was transporting four world-renowned doctors to Aswan.  If Doctor Spot was missing, he could just consult one of them!

“Is there a problem?” Dr. Inkwell had a concerned expression woven through layers of more concern.  Ensign Ricky's face grew warm with embarrassment.  He had just put on quite the display, including slapping himself in the face in front of Doctor Inkwell.  Maybe Doctor Inkwell does think I have one of Captain Shtankadoodle’s mangey swamp diseases…Ensign Ricky couldn’t chortle at his own joke.  The pit in his stomach grew deeper.

“Uh, yeah, there is,” Ensign Ricky gave a delayed response to Dr. Inkwell’s question.  Should I spill?  I know that Doctor Spot has always been a good friend—reliable to keep a secret with too.  But should I tell him that I stole something?  He might report me!  I might be expelled from the flagship Catnip.  The guilt from stealing burned in Ensign Ricky’s mind—but the fur gel dampening Ensign Ricky’s fur and wetting his skin burned more.  It had only been recently that Ensign Ricky had learned something all too painful to take in.  He was going bald.  And he was a feline!  Felines don’t go bald, he wanted to tell himself to ease the pain, but the mirror made it all too evident that he indeed was.  Why did the fur-gel have to be ingoing testing processes?  Why couldn’t it have already been tested?!  Ensign Ricky was oblivious to the patient stare of Dr. Inkwell.  All he could think of was the haunting bright orange label, still glinting poignantly in the back of his mind.  Dr. Inkwell started tapping his hind paws.  Ensign Ricky ended the worrisome dispute being waged in his mind and caught his breath.  His eyes met Dr. Inkwell’s.  Best not to tell him…Ensign Ricky agreed.  Just because his friend, Doctor Spot, trusted Dr. Inkwell, Ensign Ricky wasn't about to.  Not yet!

“Well what’s the problem?”  Dr. Inkwell, even with his sincerest eyes, and whiskers beaming with kindness, was losing patience.  Dr. Inkwell flicked his tail.

“Um—Where’s Doctor Spot?” Ensign Ricky said uncomfortably, knowing full well that Dr. Inkwell wouldn’t understand the predicament he had landed himself in.  It wasn’t unheard to want to impress a lady cat.  But not everybody was going to understand Ensign Ricky stealing the fur-gel he was supposed to be packaging, and using it to impress her.  But I had to!  Ensign Ricky protested to himself.  His lie was like putting butter on a wound—it soothed for only a second.  And Ensign Ricky knew that that was the perfect analogy, because he had experienced first hand watching Ensign Ricketta—which had had a 1-in-a-gazillion chance of being in the place where a plasma leak would spring on a plasma-proofed ship—use butter to sooth her plasma wound.  That had only resulted in Ensign Ricketta winding up in medical bay, where she was probably convulsing underneath the layers and layers of gauze that Dr. Inkwell had her wrapped up in.  It was true: Ensign Ricketta, who currently might be mistaken as a thousand-year-old mummy from ancient Egypt, was an expendable crew member.  One of Captain Shtankadoodle’s finest, as a matter of fact.

“Doctor Spot called in sick.  And if I’m not mistaken, you’re looking a little sick yourself.” Dr. Inkwell but his paw on Ensign Ricky’s neck to check his pulse; then his furry forehead.  Ensign Ricky would like to think that his (still) furry forehead was his best-feature, because it was the part of him that his human pets always kissed when he was on Earth, but Ensign Ricky knew better than to fall into that trap.  Humans are suckers for cats.  Which makes them such indispensable pets, Ensign Ricky smiled to himself.

“Hmm.  Your pulse is good,” Dr. Inkwell bit his lip, stepping back from Ensign Ricky,“And so is your temperature,” Dr. Inkwell did a retake before stepping back again.  His almost unnoticeable fuzzy eyebrows furrowed.

“Iee-Auugh!” A biting, ear-splitting shriek rang throughout the entire medical bay.  Ensign Ricky jumped back.  The glass in the test tubes appeared just as startled, vibrating violently.  Dr. Inkwell did not look amused.

“Shut up, Ricketta!” Dr. Inkwell said, his voice just below a shout.  He shook his kitty head.  Then, in a lower voice, “She’s been doing that all morning.”  Something illuminated his face,“Now where were we?”  His smile grew back.  Ensign Ricky was stunned—the topic on his mind split between doubting the acclaimed Dr. Inkwell’s bedside practices, and also half lingering on the wonderful choice he made deciding not to tell Dr. Inkwell his secret.  Ensign Ricky couldn’t imagine how Dr. Inkwell might react to that.

“Oh yes!” Dr. Inkwell reminded himself.  He was quite a pleasant kitty with white socks and a black “suit” of fur, just a fraction of a smile always joining him wherever he went.  It wasn’t astonishing that Doctor Spot had instantly taken to this jovial and medically renowned cat, since Doctor Spot and Inkwell were so incredibly alike.  Dr. Inkwell’s sharp outburst with Ensign Ricketta still hadn’t ceased to bewilder Ensign Ricky.  Ensign Ricky ran his eyes over Dr. Inkwell’s pristine “tux,” a tuft of hair threatening to take Dr. Inkwell away, flying him somewhere high with the clouds and birds.  Well, on Earth at least.  On the starship Catnip, as far as Dr. Inkwell’s wing-like tuft would get him was smashed up against the heating duct vent in the ceiling of the roomy-for-a-space-ship medical bay.  At least he has a tuft of fur, Ensign Ricky sulked.  “I’ve concluded that you aren't sick or anything,” Dr. Inkwell flashed a smile, his sharp, fang-like kitty teeth showing,“You’re just stressed.  Care to share with me what has you all worked up?”  Ensign Ricky drew in his breath as Dr. Inkwell backed up to the medical bay counter, preparing some kind of medicament.

“Aaaaaggghh!” Ensign Ricketta gushed, this time, her groan more throaty and deep than last.  Dr. Inkwell gave a quick glare in Ensign Ricketts’s direction and the disconcerting wail vanished, like it had never happened.

“I can tell you aren’t in the mood to talk,” Dr. Inkwell shook his mixture,“Perhaps a side effect of lack of sleep,” Ensign Ricky did have to give Dr. Inkwell that conclusion. Ensign Ricky hadn’t been getting a lot of sleep recently, but Dr. Inkwell’s correct assumption still hadn’t appeased Ensign Ricky.  Ensign Ricky was quite sold out that Doctor Spot was the best doctor.  Dr. Inkwell injected something in Ensign Ricky’s neck.  In the time that it had taken for Ensign Ricky to succumb to his own thoughts, Dr. Inkwell had finished his treatment, poured it into an injection-bottle, and made his way over to the unsuspecting victim of Ensign Ricky’s neck.  Ensign Ricky immediately groped for the medical bay counter, his legs buckling inwards.

“What did you just give me?!” He exclaimed, his hind legs that weren’t busy supporting him on the counter still wobbly.

“Oh, just a little something to help with the stress,” Dr. Inkwell looked pleased with himself as he helped Ensign Ricky straighten out,“I’ve used it a hundred times—even in medical school.  I’m sure it  will help.”  Ensign Ricky looked doubtful.

“I don’t feel any different.” Dr. Inkwell tipped his head backwards at his own simplemindedness.

“Oh yes—I almost forgot to tell you, it takes about five to ten minutes before it kicks into affect,” Dr. Inkwell stepped back over to Ensign Ricketta, hovering over her now like a mama bear, taking and retaking tests on her blood pressure, among other things.  Dr. Inkwell certainly didn’t seem easy to figure out, even despite his extroverted tendencies.  Abrupt at once...Ultra-kind at another time?

“Okay,” Ensign Ricky shrugged.  If this will work…,“Thank you.”  Ensign Ricky waltzed out of the medical bay, a feeling of smugness emanating from him.  He was stress-free!  But I still want Doctor Spot to do the real check-up, the doubtful part of Ensign Ricky, that had been momentarily cooped up, told him.  After all, Dr. Inkwell isn’t my real doctor, anyway.  Ensign Ricky convinced himself that Doctor Spot wouldn’t mind working when he was sick, even though everything that was sane about him screamed otherwise, and made a beeline for Doctor Spot’s, tiny, modest room.  Even though Doctor Spot was a crucial part of the Catnip, he still worked on a starship, and couldn’t afford to upsize a bigger, nonexistent room.  Ensign Ricky punched in the course on the elevator touch-screen, recollecting the wobbliness he had just felt in the medical bay, as the elevator zigged and zagged throughout the ship.  Finally, the doors opened, sliding to the side and vanishing into pockets, allowing Ensign Ricky to walk out.  Ensign Ricky shook his shoulders and frowned.  He still didn’t feel stress free…Maybe Doctor Spot will figure out that Dr. Inkwell mixed the wrong type of medicine—and give me validation on not trusting one of the most respected doctors in Star Convoy, currently.  Ensign Ricky’s mind immediately jumped to Doctor Fuzzums, who had been among one of the four-renowned doctors en-route to the newly-colonized planet of Aswan.  Only problem was, Doctor Fuzzums wasn’t a doctor.  He was an intergalactic spy with orders to poison the Aswan tuna supply and cripple it’s main source of income.  Captain Shtankadoodle had only briefly figured that out before Doctor Fuzzums vanished.  Just vanished.  Ensign Ricky shivered.

“Doctor Spot!”  Ensign Ricky stood patiently outside the one metal doorway, camouflaging in with fifty identical others, unsuspectingly housing one of the most valuable crew members on the ship.  Ensign Ricky knocked again.  “Doctor Spot!”  Ensign Ricky frowned.  No matter how sick Dotor Spot was, he never failed to open the door.  Maybe he’s at the cafeteria, Ensign Ricky speculated, knowing that that was Doctor Spot’s favorite place to be outside of the medical bay.  Doctor Spot was quite a chatty cat, not afraid to start up a conversation with anyone.  Ensign Ricky turned on his paws towards the cafeteria room.  I probably should have checked there first, Ensign Ricky reprimanded himself, shaking his patchy head.  Already the affects of the faulty, in-testing fur gel were beginning to show.  Ensign Ricky’s ears flicked.  Had he just heard something?  He trotted back to Doctor Spot’s door and listened closely, calming his heavy breathing.

“Yammer yammer yammer,” Ensign Ricky wasn’t paying attention enough to make out what the herd of security officers were saying, he just knew that they were affecting his ability to eavesdrop.  Ensign Ricky squished his face up close to the door.  A few of the security officers raised a questioning eye at him as half of his face fell flat against the door.  Ensign Ricky had an unexplainable feeling that he was going to get very used to that judging look, today.  He let his breath out in short puffs.  Is it creepy that I’m smashing my face into a sick doctor’s house door?  Ensign Ricky didn’t have time to answer his question, as the door to Doctor Spot's door opened, making the furturistic sliding sound that every door on board the Catnip made when it was activated.  Zzzhwwwee… Ensign Ricky’s face slid along with it.

"OW," Ensign Ricky was quick to gush, as he pried his whiskers out of the thin groove the door had just slid into.  He turned his head up to the cynical face of someone who definitely wasn’t Doctor Spot.  Before Ensign Ricky had a chance to react, a surge of…good stuff hit him.  The stress free vaccination Dr. Inkwell gave me…it works…Ensign Ricky grinned lopsidedly.  Suddenly, nothing seemed freaky about the situation he was in, as he peiced it together.  All he had done was stumble upon the lair of a corrupt and traitorous spy, who was housing a hostage already, and about to take him in as one.  But it didn't change Ensign Ricky's oppinion of not being freaky.  Doctor Fuzzum lifted Ensign Ricky up and hurled him into the tiny living space identical to every other one on board the ship.

“Doctor Fuzzums, you're buff,” Ensign Ricky laughed as he soared past the glow-in-the-dark star stickers that Doctor Spot had applied all over the roof.  Some of the stickers were peeling, but they didn’t fail to explain the owner’s fun-loving personality in an instant.  “Wee…”  THUD.  Ensign Ricky hit the kitchen wall of Doctor Spot’s living space and slid down onto the floor.

“Is something wrong with him?” Doctor Fuzzums asked Doctor Spot with a frown, bringing his eyes over to Ensign Ricky’s who own eyes appeared to be following something that wasn’t actually there.  Doctor Spot was shivering to the bone with fear.

“M-maybe.  I don’t know.  I don’t think-k so…” Ensign Ricky had never seen his Doctor so scared.  Too bad Dr. Inkwell didn’t know to give Dr. Spot any of the stress-free stuff he gave me, Ensign Ricky thought, It's great.  He heard Doctor Fuzzums voice again.  It carried a soothing, constant English accent.

“Well we can’t afford to lose the opportunity of haveing our very own engineer as a hostage,” Doctor Fuzzums seemed to hold a permanent frown, examining Ensign Ricky's uniform proclaiming rank and position.

“Yeah, I’m training to be an engineer!” Ensign Ricky grinned, still not bothering to straighten himself out from the L shape his body was making against the wall.  Doctor Fuzzum put his eyes in the questioning position Ensign Ricky predicted he hadn’t seen the last of.  Ensign Ricky straightened himself out from the strangely comfortable position he had just landed in.  “Now what do you need an engineer for, anyway?”

***

Lieutenant Lucky, Ensign Ricky’s not-so-secret crush comes to me with a touch-screen pad in-between her mouth.  She drops it down on my table, featuring a long, pretty, (almost) spotless metal plaque that reads: "Captain", with only grime on the very corners.  That’s because I use the corners for a persistent itch I just can’t reach myself.  I glance down at the pad Lieutenant Lucky dropped on my desk, longing for it to be the fish-app that Subcommander Ocee had space-mailed me, far away on a training mission on Earth.  I long for it to be the same fish-app that doesn’t function this far out in almost-uncharted space—except well, that it does function.  I’m seriously having withdrawals from the app.  I mean, who doesn’t like the therapeutic practice of batting at pretty koi fish on a touch screen?  Since it’s on a touch screen, the koi fish can’t even attack back!  It’s great!  But I don’t bother raising my hopes.  Not only do I know that it won’t be my beloved fish app, I also know that it won’t be good news of any sort.  A combination of Lieutenant Lucky’s newfound, controlling attitude that she hadn’t managed to yet nix, and a combination of the grim news that had befallen the Catnip just a day ago made me absolutely positive that I wasn’t getting any good news: The Catnip was currently housing a very dangerous spy.  Only a few select people knew that I had halted the ship from going anywhere, so that the spy couldn’t vacate to Aswan.  I had also initiated a search-party program with all of my security-officers, but so far, all they had been able to locate was one creepy ensign leaning disturbingly on sick Doctor Spot’s house door.  I sometimes worried myself that Doctor Spot made friends with the wrong people, occasionally.

“What’s this?” I ask, breaking my trance of unnecessary thoughts that I often get sucked into, as if a whirlpool.

“Status report,” Lieutenant Lucky replied firmly.  All four of her shoulders collapsed inwards,“I mean, status report,” She replied more pleasantly—like she used to before she was promoted.  I was currently working on getting the new Lieutenant Lucky back her old attitude.  The one that everybody liked.

“So?  Everybody knows I don’t have the patience to actually read these things.  They're just so long!” I emphasize the word ‘so’.  Lieutenant Lucky nods.

“Yeah, after hearing enough of the crumply sounds that the pad makes when something is dragged into the virtual trash bin, I was able to piece it together,” I’m proud of Lieutenant Lucky not sounding so formal.  She was making steady progress, after I had pointed out that she was kind of like Subcommander Ocee.  Nobody onboard the ship wanted to be like Subcommander Ocee.  Nobody.“That’s why I wanted to tell you myself—Ensign Rocky is missing.”  My ears flinch forwards, and then slightly to the side.

“Rocky?” I check the list.  Sure enough, it read: Ensign Rocky—Not Reporting For Duty.  I shrug and scratch my head.  It’s really itchy from the parasites I pick up in the ditch behind my Louisiana house.  “I think that’s supposed to be Ricky, Lieutenant Lucky.”  I say.  Lieutenant Lucky snatches the pad out of my paws.

“But it says Rocky!” Lieutenant Lucky protested.  I emphasize from her side of the debate, because I would have said the exact same thing, in her shoes.

“We’ll get someone to hunt Ricky down.  As for you, you have new orders to actually regard the people under your command as more than a misspelled name on a computer screen.”  I dismiss Lieutenant Lucky, who was hanging down her head in sad defeat.  I knew that Lieutenant Lucky wanted to be a good commanding officer.  She just wasn’t a good commanding officer.  The tablet makes a crumpling sound as Lieutenant Lucky exits the plastic flap door to my office.  I can almost feel the smiling half-hearted laugh leaving her mouth.

***

Three dark shadows (as if they could be any other color) emerge from the wall in the engineering room.  Two shuttle pods are on one side of the room; the reactor for the ship on the other side.  Ensign Ricky immediately recognizes the two shuttle pods as unique pieces that he has invested so much love, time and passion into.  Ensign Ricky was the only engineer who bothered to unscrew the screws, and clean them individually.  On one side of the room, a tiny equipment closet that Lieutenant Lucky had cleaned out to make room for her office in, was vacant.  All three of them had watched Lieutenant Lucky punch in the numbers for the Captain’s office on the elevator control pad, and enter it.  Now it was time to act.

“After me,” Doctor Fuzzums said in his classy, English voice, that was stereotyped for all spies—even apparently cat spies.  Doctor Fuzzums readjusted his glasses—really just a cleverly designed hiding space to conceal the poison lingering in the frame of his thick-brimmed glasses that he intended to transport to Aswan, and ducked towards the nearest shuttle pod.  Dr. Spot shivered violently as he slinked after Doctor Fuzzums; Ensign Ricky cartwheeled behind with loud whoops of pure delight.

“Ssh!” Doctor Fuzzums hushed, urging them along with a luminescent zapper.  That was the cool name that Star Convoy had conceived to give themselves some credibility when they decided that their ship-wide weapon would be a LASER.  Doctor Spot sidled as calmly as he could into the shuttle pod that Ensign Ricky devoted most of his day to, as if he were almost a professional spy himself—well, except that he was about to phase out of the right dimension with shivers.  Ensign Ricky followed closely behind, dancing into the shuttle pod and meowing the off-tune lyrics to a song as loudly as he could.  Doctor Fuzzums slapped him.

“Ouch!” Ensign Ricky bawled, bringing his paw to his cheek.  A fluff of fur quietly drifted to the ground.  Doctor Fuzzums eyes got big.

“Your fur!” Doctor Fuzzums exclaimed,“It’s falling out!” That was enough to make Doctor Spot pass out on the floor of the shuttle pod.  Ensign Ricky raced over to Doctor Spot, ignoring Doctor Fuzzums revelation, and the burning-cold sensation he now felt on his kitty cheek.  Ensign Ricky was satisified that the in-testing fur-gel he had applied for several days straight was not up to qualifications to hit the sales market.

“Wake up, Spot,” Ensign Ricky batted at Doctor Spot with his paw, making sure to keep his claws retracted as not to hurt his friend,“Wake up!”  Doctor Fuzzums and Ensign Ricky heard the elevator doors open.

“Fly this thing!” Doctor Fuzzums whispered hoarsely, dashing for the controls.  Ensign Ricky looked back and forth between his friend and Doctor Fuzzums’ luminescent zapper.  What was he supposed to do?!  What would Captain Shtankadoodle do?  Ensign Ricky thought frantically, his worries somehow still overpowering the super-potent stress reducer that Dr. Inkwell had given him earlier that day.  Lieutenant Lucky drew nearer as Ensign Ricky waged the debate in his mind.

“FLY IT!” Doctor Fuzzums cried out again, this time more desperately.  Ensign Ricky’s eyes darted back and forth.  He couldn’t think of what his motivational captain would do.  And then it hit him: Captain Shtankadoodle did the obvious.  Ensign Ricky waltzed up to Doctor Fuzzums.

“Take this!” Ensign Ricky bellowed, already imagining the heroic thank-you party he was going to get afterwards…with flowers and streamers and balloons and a medal of courage…Ensign Ricky didn’t have time to savor the sweet celebration, though—he hadn’t even done anything to deserve it!  Then, with all his might and courage…HHHHHhhhhhhhh!

“What?” Doctor Fuzzums said in his English accent.  He was clearly confused, “You just blew your breath on me?”  Wait for it…Ensign Ricky let a sly smile coil around his face and up to his whiskers.  Wait for it…If Ensign Ricky had presumed correctly, Captain Shtankadoodle would breath his stinky, nasty, germy breath on his opponent—at least in a situation like this.  Ensign Ricky rubbed his paws eagerly, waiting for the stink to hit Doctor Fuzzums’ nose.  He congratulated himself on the inside.  And then it happened…

“Ahhh,” But it wasn’t what Ensign Ricky was expecting,“It’s…minty fresh.” Doctor Fuzzums complemented.  Ensign Ricky beamed—he hadn’t quite processed to the full length Doctor Fuzzums’ comment.  He hadn't quite taken in the fact his master plan had completely failed.  A saggy, drooping failure that failed failure itself.

“I know.  I use Frisker’s mouth wash.” Ensign Ricky grinned broadly.  Looking back, Ensign Ricky suspected that the weird medicine Dr. Inkwell had given him was hindering his ability to think. And for the who-knows-how-many-times that day, Ensign Ricky received the raised eyebrow.

“Friskers?  I can’t say I’ve heard of it.  I mean, I’ve heard of Friskies, and I’ve heard of Whiskers, but Friskers?” Doctor Fuzzums adjusted his glasses on his pressed-nose Persian cat face.  They fell off a lot.

“Oh, no, it really exists.  Seriously.” Ensign Ricky smiled, his perfectly white, pointed teeth sparkling with his grin.

“Oh really, well what about Punchers.  Does that exist?” Yeah, whatever Dr. Inkwell had given Ensign Ricky had DEFINITELY impeded on his ability to think.  Dr. Fuzzums tilted his head 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.

“It does now,” Doctor Fuzzums muttered with a breezy swish of his fluffy tail,“And I’m going to get this thing to fly, too, even if I have to do it myself.”  Doctor Fuzzums positioned his mountain of fluff on top of the specially designed kitty chair at the control console.

“Now which button should we press first?”  A girlish squeak speeds up Doctor Fuzzums slow and movie-like decision making, as he hastily pounds the bright red exit door button into smithereens.

“I guess we’re just going to have to…wing it.” Doctor Fuzzums pulled up on the steering rod, too closely resembling the kit from Flight Simulator with his paws.  He held down a yellow button on his left.

“Too bad these things don’t have labels…,” Doctor Fuzzums fumbled around with another set of unlabeled buttons before finding the accelerator.  If they turned the adventures of secret operative Doctor Fuzzums into a movie, Doctor Fuzzums was pretty hopeful that that would be the part that they would cut out.  “Hrm.  Orange for accelerator.  And slowing down.  And,” Doctor Fuzzums squinted his Persian eyes,“Is that a depiction of an explosion?” Doctor Fuzzums huffed. “Oh, Star Convoy.  How they can’t even design a ship!”  Doctor Fuzzums laughed his cynical laugh, as he blasted off into space.  And then he sneezed.  He was hoping that if he had a movie made of him, they would cut that, too.

***

“Captain, one of our vessels is making an unauthorized exit.” Ensign Grace, one of my bridge members that I know just well enough to remember her name says to me.  Hey—at least I’m better than Lieutenant Lucky.  I’m just saying.  She doesn't even know her subordinates names!  I puff up my face like a puffer-fish and let it all out in a heavy sigh.  Aside from my autonomic functions, that’s one of the few things I can still do without being in constant pain.  Yeah, I kind of get in a lot of fights, back home.

“How many felines on board?” I ask, twisting my unattractive kitty face in worry.

“Uh-um.  Hold on.” Ensign Grace busily pecks in some command on a computer I still don’t know how to use—not well, anyway.  Just too many things pop up in my face.  I try to explain how frustrating this can be, but all of my crew members just look at me with muffled titters.

“Four.”  I catch myself from falling back in shock.  I look down, seeing that none of my legs had even flinched.  I supposed my legs hadn’t gotten the alarming message.  Not only was a critical spy onboard that shuttle-pod—so were my crew members!  And I didn’t even know who was on board!  I glance around the bridge of my ship.  Everybody else looks just as frightened.

“Broadcast this ship-wide.  I need to run a crew-count—and devise a plan to stop this very real threat to Aswan.”  I turn and scamper into to my quarters.  This time, I use the automatic door I so rarely use, and crash on my leather comfy chair.  It hadn’t felt the same since I had had Ensign Ricketta re-assemble it, but I wasn’t concerned about that mere nuisance right now.  Right now, I had much more important things—much more important nuisances.  I collapse my head into my paws uncertain of how to proceed.  How could things have gone this out of hand when I had taken all of the necessary precautions? Painfully, I can’t find the answer to my dilemma.  I can’t find any answer.  And soon, sleep whisks me away.  Actually, it whisks me away much faster than it should any normal cat, but I’m not complaining.  Because, you know, I’m asleep.

To be continued in: Missions and Suspicions Part 5

 

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Oct 1, 2016
Category: Star Cats
Posted by: weedles

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.