Log Entry 140927.116

I wasn't quite sure what Rutter meant by 'stake-out' until he returned from his quarters with a sleeping bag. It soon became obvious that the intention was, between us, one of us would be awake to see how Beastie got out—assuming she made an escape attempt that night of course.
Either way, Rutter made himself comfortable in the front room and I went to bed. I couldn't sleep though, not with Rutter in the next room, the door open and waiting for Beastie to do something.
The hours ticked by ... eleven o'clock ... twelve o'clock ... one o'clock ... two o'clock ... three o'clock ... and then I gave up and got up. I crept into the front room and saw Rutter was awake too. I ambled over and sat beside him, feeling despondent and tired. There was a chill in the air, which is how I like it at night when I'm asleep, but not so pleasant when you're awake. Rutter must have seen me shiver because he sat up and wrapped the sleeping bag around my shoulders.
"She's not going to do anything, is she," I whispered to him.
"There's still time," he whispered back.
Strangely, now out of bed and snuggled up on the sofa with Rutter, I fell asleep, but not for long. A gentle nudge roused me. I looked up and could see Rutter's eyes fixed rigidly upon something. Beastie was up!
She ambled nonchalantly into the front room and turned her head to look at us. We both snapped our eyes shut, pretending to be asleep and waited. After a few moments, Rutter nudged me again. I opened one eye cautiously to find Beastie was now sitting in the bedroom doorway studying her surroundings. A few more moments passed and she got up and began to wander into the front room, stopping and sniffing various things on the way. She looked as though she was bored and preparing for mischief. I was right.
She came and sat in the middle of the room and looked at us again. Once more, we snapped our eyes shut and waited. Opening my eyes just a tiny bit, I waited until Beastie looked away and then gave Rutter a little nudge.
Beastie wandered over to the comfy chair on the other side of the room and jumped up onto it. She circled in the seat as though preparing to nap. Suddenly she dropped down to attend to an urgent cleaning matter at the end of her tail. Then she looked up again, towards us. I was convinced she was checking that we were really asleep because she settled down with her paws tucked under her chest and stared at us for ages, but we didn't give up. Even when my foot, curled underneath me, began to go numb, I didn't move.
Finally, she got up again. She stretched, jumped off the chair, crossed the room and jumped up onto the table. From there, she leapt onto the top of the shelving unit which stands about four feet away from the door. She walked to the end of it and then crouched down, preparing to jump. Her bottom wiggled as she took aim—and then she leapt!
With typical feline grace, she landed on the chair on the other side of the door. Immediately, her head whipped round to look behind her, but I couldn't figure out why.
Her tail lashed the air in annoyance and then she jumped down, crossed the room, jumped up onto the table, then the shelving unit and crossed to the far side. Again, she prepared herself to jump, her bottom wiggling and her tail quivering. She leapt, but it was the same result. She landed on the chair and looked back to where she had come from. I don't know if cats can scowl, but it sure as heck looked like she did!
Again, she got down, crossed the room, mounted the shelving unit and leapt. Each time, she took a little longer in her preparations before making her leap, and each time her jump seemed a little more awkward, as though the leap had to be made precisely, in just one way, but whatever it was she was trying to achieve, she failed time and again. Four, five, six times she tried.
Come the seventh, she stood on the edge of the shelving unit and took even longer in her preparations. She crouched, bottom wiggled, then stood up straight and paced the top of the unit a couple of times before assuming the position again. She did that three times and then on the fourth, I could see she was determined to make the leap. She did. Paws outstretched she flew through the air. As she hit the chair though, the door slid open. In the same instant, she turned and fled.
Somehow, as she had leapt in front of the door, she had managed to hit the sweet spot that activated it.
"Good grief!" exclaimed Rutter. "If I hadn't seen that with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it!"

Log Entry 140920.115

All morning, I've been itching to check out what Beastie's been up to, but I've not had the chance. With half duties assigned, it means that every moment is precious to keep things up to date, and I don't want to leave any loose ends when I leave for the Academy. What I did do though, was stop off at Starboard-7 at the end of my shift. I was walking right by anyway, was thirsty and hadn't forgotten that dish on Karl's shelf.
It was quiet when I walked in with only Karl at the bar, a table of four crew members in a semi-circular booth to one side of the room and another table with Rutter sitting alone, studying a data pad. He was enjoying a raktajino but glanced up as I walked in and smiled.
"Two breaks away in as many days?" he chirped.
I laughed lightly at that.
"Yes, but I'm here for a reason."
"Oh, really," he smiled, getting up and joining me at the bar. "What's that then?"
I turned and pointed towards the dish on the shelf but, to my surprise, there was just an empty space.
Rutter grinned and indicated the party of four.
"Oh!" I repeated but in a lower tone.
The four crew members were eating lunch, laughing and chatting merrily. Perched by the side of them, on the end of the padded seat was Beastie. She was squatting in the way that cats do, munching away at a plate filled with food.
Gobsmacked, I approached, my jaw slightly open. Karl's laughter made me turn to find him standing behind the bar polishing a glass.
"That's Beastie!" I exclaimed, pointing out the obvious.
Rutter slapped me on the back.
"You really have no idea, do you?"
It was a statement rather than a question.
"Idea? About what?"
"About what your cat gets up to."
I gawped at Beastie for a while before I asked the question.
"Is she in here often then?"
"Often enough that she has her own plate," piped up Karl.
"But I feed her. She doesn't need any more food! She'll get fat!"
Karl laughed.
"Get fat? I think she's past that stage."
My face said more than I intended I guess because Rutter suddenly put his arm around my shoulder and gave me a squeeze.
"Come on. Let's get you two home."
Having excused Beastie from her dinner guests (much to her protestations), I carried her back to my quarters, Rutter walking with us. Once inside, I put her down. Normally, I would have fed her, but seeing as she'd already eaten, I ignored her demands.
"Tea?" I offered.
Rutter sat on the sofa. Beastie, realising she was going to get nothing from me, went to him and began pirruping, rubbing up against his legs and begging for food. He put down his data pad so he could sweep her up into his arms and cradle her like a baby. As he cooed at her, I pondered how easily Beastie could worm her way into almost everybody's affections, even Rutter's.
"So what's with the collar?" he asked.
"Oh that! It's to track her."
"Excellent idea! So where else has she been?"
"Um, well I know she's been to engineering once or twice," I said, recalling the incident the other day, "and the Captain's quarters, but I only put it on her this morning so I don't know what she's been up to today ... other than Starboard-7."
Rutter, meanwhile, picked up his own data pad and tapped something into it.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Just making a ship wide request to report any sightings of Beastie over the last few weeks—see where else she's been. Can we check the tracker now?"
I put the tea down on the coffee table and picked up my own data pad to call up the tracking program.
"Starboard-7 ... Engineering ... and Sick Bay," I scowled.
"That's not bad for one morning," smiled Rutter, and then he giggled.
"I've got some responses to my query."
"She's a sociable little kitty, isn't she?"
I snatched the data pad from him, but Rutter immediately snatched it back, slapping my hand at the same time. I screwed my face up at him.
"Manners!" he teased.
"Then don't keep me in suspense. Tell me!"
"Well ..." He dragged the word out and then, leisurely, picked up his tea and took a sip. He leaned back into the sofa and crossed his legs. He was stretching this out and thoroughly enjoying it.
"So how many friends do you think Beastie has?"
"Yes. People she visits."
"I wasn't aware she had any until recently—"
"Take a guess."
"I dunno. Ten?"
He motioned with his hand that the number should be higher.
"No!" I exclaimed like a schoolgirl hearing some totally unbelievable gossip.
"Oh yes."
"More? How many more?"
"Well," and he snuggled into the side of me to share his piece of delicious information. "I have sixteen responses—"
"—from crew members."
"What do you mean, from crew members?"
"I mean I have other reports from Sick Bay, Engineering, Starboard-7, Maintenance and Transporter Room Two."
I sighed.
"But how is she getting out? I don't understand it. This room is totally secure!"
"Obviously it's not."
"I know that, but how? I have to find out before I go back to the Academy!"
"Only one way to find out."
I looked at him quizzically.
"We have to do a stake-out!" he said excitedly.