The Cat and Her Ship

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 8 (v.1) - The Cat and her Ship - Chapter 8

Submitted: November 16, 2013

Reads: 34

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Submitted: November 16, 2013

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Number Seven turned and remarked to their leader sotto voce.  “It certainly took them long enough to figure out the interlock system.  I’m extremely surprised their race hadn’t died out long ago.”

“Not to worry, Science Officer,” said Loopy.  “They are quite clever.  Making sure pressure doors are closed will come as second nature to them after they’ve been through a few of them.  Of course, I can always remind them, but our main purpose is to study the humans.”

“That is easy for you to say, Number Four.  You have lived with them for quite a while.  Me?  They just give me the shivers.  At least now they’re down to our size.”

“We must be very careful ourselves so that we don’t overreact in any given scenario and cause harm to come to them.  They are our guests, remember.”  Said The Chief.

“Shall we proceed?”  Said Loopy, gesturing to the closed door in front of them.

“Might as well,” said the Science Officer, snapping off the display they’d been watching.

Loopy put her paw on the lever and pressed down.  The lock snicked and she pushed the door open.  “Ah!  There you are, my friends.”  She broadcast.

The four humans turned at the noise of the door opening, but not her voice – which seemed to come from nowhere - and stared at her.  She noted that the tallest, Mason, stood only about ten inches taller than she.  She smiled inwardly at their apprehensive expressions.

“Ah … hello … um, Loopy.”  Began Mason.  “Ah, is it okay to call you that still?  I mean, you’re not pissed at us for anything, are you?”

“Certainly.  I’ve grown to like the name actually.  Our naming conventions seem a bit drab.  And, I doubt seriously if you could pronounce them without a few missing teeth and someone stepping on your foot.  As to your last question, we are not ‘pissed’ as you put it.  We are actually very interested in learning all we can from you.  You are our honored guests – all of you; even the one called Bernard, who doesn’t like us very much.”  She glanced back at The Chief, who squeezed his eyes in irritation and showed his teeth briefly in a ‘get on with it’ visage.

Loopy walked towards the table.  “You noticed those devices over on the table.  They are simple devices we call ‘codekeys’ that will allow you access to certain areas within this ship.  I am probably the only one who realizes they look at lot like dog collars.  Rest assured; they definitely aren’t collars in that sense.  As you approach any door, the device will emit a high-pitched sound.  If you are allowed access, there will be an answering sound from the door and the locking latch will be deactivated.  If you are not allowed access, the door will simply refuse to let you open it.  We use these with our young until they develop the mental powers to open doors themselves.  They are simply to help you explore.  Understand?”

They all nodded.

“Are they all the same?”  Asked Vern.

“Quite the same.  We’ve found that the easiest way to handle them is to snap them around our necks.  If that isn’t to your liking, they will also snap around your upper arm.  Whatever you do, however, please keep them with you at all times within the ship.  We have security personnel who will detain you if you do not have an access device.  Some of our security personnel consist of automated devices that will not respond to speech – or logic, for that matter.  Being detained by them is not painful if you simply stand still until one of us arrives.”

They nodded again and went over to the table.  Mason picked up a collar and studied it.  “What’s this thing on the side here?”  He asked, pointing to a button.

“That’s a locator button.  Notice the square on the wall over there outlined in brown?”  Loopy pointed and their gaze followed her paw.  “When you stand in front of that frame and press the button it will give you your location with a blinking spot on a schematic representation of the ship.  This is yet another reason not to lose the device.  Without it, you couldn’t possibly navigate all the passageways and find your way back to here.  They are, however, coded marks on all door or hatch thresholds about halfway up on the left side.  I doubt there would be much meaning if you didn’t know our alphabet.”

The four humans nodded as one.

“By the way, you were correct, Mason, in determining that this room was part of an airlock.  Should the outer hull be breached, these airlocks protect the rest of the ship.  Interspersed throughout the ship are several more heavy-duty bulkheads that contain airlocks.  Usually these are noticeable because there are anterooms on either side containing nothing at all.  It wouldn’t do to have loose objects flying around during a sudden decompression, would it?”

The sailors looked around apprehensively as if the walls might cave in at any moment.  Loopy walked over and thumped the wall with her fist.  “Solid Blendstel.  All our ships are constructed out of it.”

Larry picked up a codekey and held it experimentally against his arm.  The ends wrapped neatly around his bicep and clicked together.  He made a muscle and the band expanded slightly to accommodate the flexing of his arm.  “Pretty cool,” he judged.  The others followed suit and snapped codekeys to their arms also.

“Can we take these back to our own ship?”  Asked Ernie.

Loopy looked at the Science Officer quizzically.  “Can they?”  She asked.

Number Seven thought a moment.  “I can think of no reason why the components within shouldn’t survive passage through the stasis field.  They would simply expand just as the humans would.”

Loopy turned back to Ernie.  “Yes.  You can take them with you if you desire.  However, if, on the way back to your ship they begin to bind, press hard right at the seam where the two ends join and the band will release.”

“That’s cool.”  Said Larry.  He pressed and the band dropped into his hand.  “Pretty cool.”  He snapped it back on.

Vern looked at his watch, then grinned foolishly as it wasn’t working.  “Hey, guys.  Maybe we’d better be getting back to the ship about now.  They’re probably wondering where we went.  It’s been over an hour – I think.”

Mason cleared his throat.  “Loopy, can you give us any information about Mister VonHassel?  He left kinds sudden like and his wife and daughter are concerned.”

“We are very sorry about that.  Our Chief Engineer got a little overzealous and transported him directly to a conference room without observing any social amenities.  Would you like to see him now?”

Loopy nodded to the Science Officer who went over to the brown square.  She paused and then it lit up showing a scene set in a rather tastefully decorated room with a seating arrangement.  Mister VonHassel was relaxing back in a wide couch facing six or seven Dwee’num of various colorations.  He held what could have been a mixed drink in one of his hands.  He was smiling and waving his other hand.

The Science Officer touched a stud and his voice sounded out.  “...of course.  The power supply then become my biggest concern.  All I had for portability was a battery pack and the more capacity I tried to add, the heavier it got.”  He chuckled.  “It got to the point where I thought I’d have to put wheels on it.”

The Dwee’num surrounding Mister VonHassel appeared to find that funny as they showed their teeth and shook their tails.  Loopy turned to the humans.  “It appears he has found a few scientists who are all ears.”

“That’s enough for me.  I guess he’ll come back when he feels like it then.”  Mason turned and looked at the other Dwee’num in the room.  “Thank you for your very cordial introduction to your ship.  We really should be getting back to ours now.”

“Probably a good idea,” said Number Four in Dwee’nish.  She turned and left through the open door.

She thought back at the humans.  “As soon as I close this door, you can open the airlock.  Be sure to close it behind you.”

“Right!  See you later, Loopy.”  Vern tossed off a casual salute.

Loopy left the room and the door clicked shut behind her.  Mason turned to the airlock door and spun the wheel to release the dogs.  They clanked back and he swung the door open.  They crowded onto the small platform while Mason re-dogged the lock, remembering to turn it the right direction this time.

“Well, guys.  We are definitely on another ship it appears.  Now, all we have to do is find out where we are in relation to anything else.”  He turned to look at their yacht.  “Sure is a lot bigger when you’re barely four feet tall.”

As they progressed back along the gangway, they tingled yet again crossing the black spots.  By the time they got back to the railing, they had resumed their proper proportions.  None of them had felt any constriction from their arm bands.  Experimentally, Larry pressed the clasp and it sprang open.  He put the device in his pocket.

Entering the lounge, they were startled to see Captain (No Kidding) Bly staring at them with anger.  “Just where in Neptune’s name did you four get off to?  We’ve searched the ship for probably an hour.”

Oops,’ thought Mason.  ‘Now I’ve done it yet again.

 


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