Log Entry 170212.205

No more time for self pity. There's work to be done.
T'Roc and Traeth have returned from the mainland and, I'll be honest, it doesn't sound promising. It took two whole days of negotiation to make the arrangements with the Dirrians. The party going will be Arunga (of course), Traeth, T'Roc, me, Al and Rutter. Strangely, there were no other Mairne included in the party. I was curious as to why that may be, but that night, as we prepared for bed, a very large, fat Mairne came to see us. She was ever such a pretty creature though. She was of the long-haired variety and had white, black, ginger and tabby patches all over her coat. She strode into the camp and settled herself by the fire, awkwardly arranging her feet. She sat silently for a while, staring into the flames while we waited.
"Hi," I eventually said.
She looked up and her eyes smiled at me.
"I need you to promise me something, Jenny," she said.
"Of course. If I can, I will."
She shuffled awkwardly. She didn't seem very comfortable at all and noticed my concern.
"You must excuse me. I am heavy with kittens and will birth any day now. It's a big litter too, which is why I can't travel. Not that my dearest Arunga would let me anyway."
Celia (that's her name) went on to explain that Arunga was her mate and this was their first litter. They were both very excited about it, but because there were at least eight kittens there, it was likely that they would come early. Their nursemaid was keeping a very close eye on her, which is why she had been forced to sneak out that evening alone.
Celia was very easy to talk to and chatted wildly about lots of things. I got the impression that between her mate and the nursemaid she hadn't got out much of late.
"Kittens, kittens, kittens!" she exclaimed at one point. "If one more Mairne tells me about their damned kittens and their birthing experience, I think I'll scream! I do have a brain in my head you know! I'm not just a Mairne-making machine!"
How familiar that all sounded.
"But, with regard to Arunga, I want you to promise me that you will take great care of him. He's refusing to let anyone go with him. He won't say it, but he fears the worst. I don't want him to go at all, but I can't stop him, so I'm entrusting him to your care."
"Then I promise to protect him."
"And that means that you mustn't leave him on his own … EVER!"
I baulked a bit as she spat the last word out. She sighed.
"The Mairne are never alone. Solitude is … a fate worse than death. If you leave him alone, he will become despondent. I know Arunga better than anybody. He's being really brave about this but inside, he's full of trepidation."
I assured her again that I would stay with him, but she pressed further.
"Even at night—especially at night … please stay with him," she begged.
I assured her that I would.

Log Entry 170128.204

I'll be honest. Seeing T'Roc and Traeth go off to the Dirrian mainland without me was hard. I had always been T'Roc's advisor on all matters Dirrian … until now that is. Now I was being supplanted by … well, a Dirrian, who obviously did know a lot more about the Dirrians than I did. Not that I begrudged him. He was the logical choice in fact. It was just my nose that was being pushed out of joint.
Until I joined the Earhart, I had never been anything special but since then, I'd got used to being noticed. I had become accustomed to people listening to me when I spoke. I had started to feel that I had found my place in life—that I had a role to fulfil. And I know that I still do. It's just me being silly. It's my problem, and I shall have to deal with it.
I thought I had hid my feelings quite well, but it seems I was wrong. As I perched by the campfire, Rutter and Al came and sat down, one on either side of me. Rutter put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me close.
"It's okay, Jen," he said.
He didn't say anymore. He didn't need to. Damn him, he knew me too well and I found myself leaning into him and swallowing down the lump in my throat. Al leaned over and wrapped her arms around me too, and the three of us sat there, huddled together, staring into the flames of our tiny, little campfire deep into the night.

Log Entry 170121.203

Shortly after that, we were all dismissed leaving Arunga and T'Roc to discuss things in private. We ambled back to our little tent that we had now erected and chatted among ourselves. Traeth was really concerned about the idea of Arunga meeting the Emperor. He reckoned that Honka wouldn't accept the King as anything other than a feline. He wouldn't recognise or acknowledge his intelligence. However, it wasn't our decision to make; it was Arunga's. So when we were finally called back into the meeting house and the plan was revealed to us, Traeth shuffled about nervously.
T'Roc explained that she would seek an audience with the Emperor to pave the way for a royal visit so that both nations could meet.
"You look concerned, Traeth," T'Roc commented.
He nodded. "I am. I know Honka well and it worries me that he will neither accept nor respect another dignitary on Dirria. He's at the top of the tree, and as far as he's concerned, the branch is only big enough for him."
"And that is why," said Arunga, "I need an official intermediary to help me. I don't know the ways of the Dirrians so will need an advisor and representative."
"And I would agree that Jenny is most suited to that task—"
"Oh no, no, no," grinned Arunga.
"She can't," agreed T'Roc. "She is a Starfleet officer so will need to remain impartial." T'Roc and Arunga let a sly little smile pass between them.
"So, who then? A Mairne? "
It took a few seconds for Traeth to realise that all eyes were trained upon him.
"Me!" he screamed at the realisation.
"If you would do me the honour," said Arunga.
"But Honka doesn't even like me. I'd go as far as to say that he can't bear the sight of me! In fact, he sent me here to get rid of me."
"And what have you done to deserve such distain?"
"Other than being too tall … and a bit odd by Dirrian standards—"
So Traeth told him all about his past, his time on Earth and how he had never quite conformed to the blueprint of a typical Dirrian after that.
"To my mind, that makes you all the more perfect for the position," said Arunga.
I was starting to get the impression that Arunga isn't used to people saying no to him, but Traeth still wasn't sure.
"And anyway," Arunga continued, beckoning to Traeth. Traeth approached and Arunga leaned into him so that their noses were nearly touching. "Wouldn't it be nice to make him show you just a little bit of respect?"
Traeth gulped.
"I'm honoured to be asked but I'm not sure even that would get his respect."
And then, blow me, Arunga did the most peculiar thing. He threw his head against Traeth's and rubbed it hard against his cheek, just like a cat.
"Pleeease?" he purred.
I can honestly say, I have never seen such a blatant display of feline manipulation in all my life. He even outdid Beastie at her best.