OF CATS, UH, FURZELS AND KINGS...
From the Log of Dr. Eden Fynn,
Chief Medical Officer
Alliance Huntership Vaxxar
“Finally! A delightfully, blessedly uneventful shift.” Dr. Eden Fynn raised the cup of tea the captain had brought her in salute. The sweet, fruity smell of the beverage wafted past her nose. With a satisfied sigh, Eden leaned back in her office chair and took her first sip.
Sass, across from her, had a similarly relaxed expression on her face. Though the dark liquid in her mug was coffee: Mahrian Blend, black. The captain was nothing if not consistent.
“No alarms, no enigmas, no unfriendlies,” Sass agreed, propping her boots on the edge of Eden’s desk. “Maybe the universe has finally realized that the combined forces of the United Coalition and the Triad are best left alone.”
It had been, what, almost three months since the combined forces had combined? It hadn’t been an easy transition though Eden knew that Sass, as captain, had had the more difficult job. It wasn’t just getting Tridian officers to accept U-Cee officers and personnel on board a Triad huntership. It was getting one particular, unbending, unflinching Triad essence-of-perfection bio-cybe admiral to tolerate probably the most unorthodox, far-from-perfect captain in the U-Cee Fleet on his ship.
Eden grinned. Actually, Sass’s presence wasn’t the only problem.
“What? What?” Sass’s mouth twisted wryly. “What’s going on in that devious mind of yours, Healer?”
“I was just thinking—”
“—about Kel-Paten’s first meeting with Reilly.”
Sass’s eyes widened for a moment, then the older woman huffed out a short laugh. “Oh, that was rich.”
...It was the final trip to transfer the last of their possessions to their new assignment on the Triad huntership, now part of the newly formed Alliance Fleet.
Eden had glanced with no small regret around the now bare cabin, her home on the Regalia for almost four years. It had been small, but comfortable. She’d made it cozy, a safe haven from the pressures a chief medical officer often faced, especially during wartime.
But the war was over. The enemy was now a friend.
Oh, what a difference a day makes!
Something large, warm and furry brushed against her shin. Okay, perhaps not brushed. Thumped was a more accurate description.
“Time to go,” she told Reilly, scooping the black and white furzel into her arms. “Our captain awaits.”
And a new ship, a new home and the gods only knew what new set of problems.
Sass was already in the transporter room and playfully poked a finger into Reilly’s ample belly when Eden stopped before her. “Guess he won’t starve on the trip over.”
The trip, by transbeam, would take all of ten seconds. Or less. Though it would be a very long ten seconds. Eden hated transbeam transports. “I know, I know.” Eden grinned ruefully. “I have to cut back on his treats.”
“Especially as there’s no way we can let him run about in the Vax’s corridors for exercise,” Sass reminded her. “Not without risking Kel-Paten’s finding out we have a furzel on board.”
That was the main reasons they were making this last transport now, in spite of Eden’s well known aversion to the method. The bio-cybe admiral had back-to-back meetings scheduled with some brass from Prime One, neither of which would bring him anywhere near the transporter deck, or the officers’ residential deck, but would likely have him escorting said same brass back to their shuttle. All Eden, Sass and Reilly had to do was traverse the fifteen or so feet from the transporter room to the lifts, then from the lifts to Eden’s new cabin.
Piece o’ cake, Sass had quipped after she’d outlined the plan.
“Ready?” The captain had asked, stepping onto the transbeam platform.
“As we’ll ever be.”
The world in front of Eden’s eyes glistened, hazed, glistened and focused.
And she was aware of two things, simultaneously. First, they were safely in the Vaxxar’s transporter room. That was the Good News. The second was that a scowling Admiral Branden Kel-Paten was standing just in front of the transbeam controls. That was definitely not Good News.
Oh, shit, thought Eden.
“Oh, shit,” whispered Sass, next to her.
“What,” Admiral Kel-Paten asked, his voice a near growl, “is that?”
Eyes wide in alarm, Sass half-swiveled, peering behind her, then behind Eden. “What? Where?”
Eden choked back a laugh at the captain’s comical display. Kel-Paten wasn’t as easily amused, nor diverted.
“That.” His black gloved hand pointed to Reilly’s over-flowing bulk in Eden’s arms.
“Oh, that.” Sass shrugged. “It’s a furzel. Male, I believe. Name’s Reilly.”
“A furzel. On a Triad huntership.” It clearly wasn’t a question.
“Oh, more than just a furzel, Admiral,” Eden put in smoothly. Reilly, bless his little heart, had fallen asleep and so was wasn’t privy to the insulting looks now directed his way by his new commanding officer. “He’s, ah... He’s actually my non-humanoid pet therapist and counselor.”
Eden stepped off the transbeam platform towards Kel-Paten. Sass mirrored her movement. Behind the admiral, a young female Triadian officer manning the transbeam station was having a difficult time suppressing a fit of the giggles.
“A pet therapist. And counselor.” Kel-Paten still glared.
“Yes,” Eden replied. “There’s considerable scientific documentation showing that furzels can reduce an individual’s blood pressure and relieve many forms of emotional anxiety. I have found, umm, Counselor Reilly to be extremely helpful in post-trauma cases, and with combat stress-related syndromes.”
“Counselor. Reilly.” Disbelief laced Kel-Paten’s tone. His ice-blue gaze shot from Eden to the furzel to Sass and back to Eden again. “This is highly unusual, Dr. Fynn.”
“I try to be progressive and innovative in my methods, Admiral.” On a whim, she thrust the sleeping animal towards Kel-Paten. “Would you like to hold him? You appear to be a bit stressed at the moment.”
Kel-Paten stepped back quickly. “I am not stressed. I do not experience stress. I am simply questioning the functionality of such a creature on this ship.”
It was at this point the conversation that Reilly decided to wake up. With a yawn and then a wiggle, he jumped down from Eden’s arms and land squarely at the admiral’s feet.
Frantically, Eden tried to recall if the furzel had made a visit to the litter box recently and silently prayed that he not choose this moment to bless his new surroundings. Or the admiral’s boots, which he sniffed with considerable interest.
“Looks like you have a new friend,” Sass intoned.
Kel-Paten stared at the large furzel. Reilly, sensing the scrutiny, sat on his haunches and glared up at what many considered to be the most powerful being in civilized space, a look of total and complete disdain on his furry face, as if to say: “You don’t impress me one whit.”
“Doctor.” Kel-Paten glanced up, a warning tone in his voice.
But before Eden could respond, Reilly yawned disinterestedly and, with a haughty flick of his tail, sashayed across the transporter room as if he, and not Kel-Paten, were now in charge of the ship.
He stopped at the door and glanced back at his mistress with his large yellow eyes as if to say, “Coming?”.
The door, sensing the furzel’s presence, opened and, without further ado, he trotted confidently into the corridor.
“I, uh, Counselor Reilly and I will be in Sickbay later should you have any further need of us,” Eden announced, then swept passed both Kel-Paten and Sass towards the door.
The tone in the admiral’s voice made Eden rethink her hasty exit. She paused in the open doorway, not willing to leave her friend to face an angry Kel-Paten alone. Reilly was Eden’s responsibility, not Sass’s.
She needn’t have worried.
The petite woman, arms folded, was almost toe to toe with the imposing Kel-Paten. “You’ve changed your mind, then? Want to book a session with Counselor Reilly? Excellent idea, admiral. I know you’ll find it very beneficial.” She thrust her chin in Eden’s direction and Eden caught a slight twitch of a smile on Sass’s lips. “When’s the first opening in the counselor’s calendar? Second shift tomorrow?”
“I do not—” Kel-Paten began.
“Want to wait that long?” Sass interrupted.
“We might be able to get you in earlier,” Eden added, falling easily into the game. It was far from the first time they’d double-teamed someone.
Eden couldn’t tell if Kel-Paten’s teeth were clenched, but it definitely sounded as if they were.
“Of course. I understand.” Sass’s smile could have melted the polar caps on Grelchfren-5. “You’re more concerned that your crew has first access to Counselor Reilly’s therapeutic sessions. That’s very kind of you. Sir. Don’t you agree, Doctor Fynn?”
“I do indeed, Captain Sebastian.”
A strident yowl echoed from the corridor.
“Uhhh,” said Eden.
Sass edged towards the door. “The counselor’s anxious to, um, dig in to his new case load. If you’ll excuse, us?”
A strange combination of exasperation, defeat and—could it really be? Eden wondered—amusement flickered across Kel-Paten’s face. Then it was gone, his usual unreadable mask back in place.
“Dismissed,” he said flatly.
“By your command,” Sass responded, grabbing Eden’s elbow. Three long strides and Eden scooped up Reilly. A few minutes later and they were all safely behind the closing doors of Eden’s new cabin.
“What now?” Eden asked over the scratching sounds coming from the covered litter pan.
“Depends,” Sass replied, drumming her fingers on the back of Eden’s couch.
“On whether you’re willing to share your new Sickbay with Counselor Reilly, or I have to get him an office and med-lab all his own...”
The doors to Sickbay phwooshed open. Sass leaned carefully back in her chair, coffee cup poised near her mouth. She lowered the cup. “Damn,” she said, softly.
Eden knew what that damn meant. Kel-Paten.
“Maybe he’s finally ready to have a therapy session with Reilly?”
“We should be so lucky.” Sass lowered her feet to the floor as the admiral strode through the open doorway of Eden’s office.
“Doctor.” Kel-Paten nodded absently at Eden, then switched his gaze to Sebastian, still seated. “Sebastian.”
Pause. There was that pause. Eden had begun to notice it. So, she knew, had Sass.
“I realize you’re off duty. However, I require your presence on a matter.”
“An alarm, an enigma or an unfriendly?” Sass asked, rising.
A slight tilt of his head, and a slight frown, was Kel-Paten’s only response, other than to step back and, with a sweep of a black gloved hand, usher Sass towards the doorway.
His only outer response. But there was something else there, something her empathic senses could discern.
An enigma, Eden thought, sipping her tea as she watched them leave. Definitely, definitely, an enigma…
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© copyright 2004 Linnea Sinclair Bernadino