Log Entry 171014.216

By now we had reached a large, open area of ground where the shuttle had set down. We gathered on the perimeter at a point where the long grass faded into bowling green lawns. A rather grand bandstand had been erected with white wooden struts and a white shingle roof with a red carpet beneath. The High Emperor stood on a plinth in the middle with various dignitaries surrounding him. We approached as a small dignified procession with Arunga in the lead, tail held high. Honka smiled at Arunga. It was the first time I had seen him smile at the feline, but it wasn't a nice one. It was devious and malicious to my mind.
The ceremony was a very polite affair with Honka making a long and protracted speech about how their new found friendship with the Mairne people would last for an eternity, but I knew it was all bull. I also knew that I had to play along, ignoring my feelings of contempt, and play the warm and friendly officer from the Federation.
Finally, as the High Emperor finished his speech, he signalled for us to make our way towards the shuttle. It nestled in the grass, having made quite a sizeable dink in the smooth lawns with its weight. Arunga paused at the doorway and looked down.
"Oh dear," he said. "We appear to have spoilt your beautiful lawn. I am so sorry."
Honka pouted.
"Yes, but it matters not. Although I had assumed that you would be returning by boat under the circumstances."
"Why would I travel by boat?" asked the cat, looking quite perplexed.
"Bearing in mind how poorly you were from the Federation's new fangled transporters, I would be dubious of their flying box."
"As I am, but I suspect it is far safer than the sea."
Honka laughed. "I thought you had no fear of the water?"
"Why on earth would you think that? Just as you are, we are very wary of such things."
Honka's brow furrowed.
"But why? I know why my people fear it, but yours?"
"No doubt our fears stem from similar history. I know our Federation friends have no fear of it, but they do not know our seas as we do, and like you, I am not so foolish as to venture uninvited into the territory of the sea people."
You could have heard a pin drop.
"S-s-sea people?" ventured the high Emperor, his face quite pale.
"Yes. Surely you know of the sea people? Do they not haunt your myths and legends? Is that not the root of your own people's dislike of the water?"
Honka shook his head.
"We … have no such legends of sea people," he said, concern etched hard into his features.
"Then you are most fortunate. Huge, terrible beasts they are. With many legs adorned with dangerous, spiked suckers … and a beak so powerful it can snap a tree in half. I admit to being very surprised that any Dirrian has ever crossed the sea without disturbing them and lived to tell the tale."
"But your people have?"
"Ventured onto the sea? No, but they often come close to our shoreline when they hunt."
The tables had been turned. Suddenly, Honka had a third species to contend with and he wasn't happy.
"And … are they sentient? I mean, have you spoken with them?"
"I'm not sure that they have a proper language such as you or I, and no one has ever got close enough to one to find out more, not without perishing, that is."
"You know this to be fact?"
"I have seen it with my own eyes."
"When?" demanded Honka in horror.
"Oh, it was many, many years ago; too long for me to remember clearly. I was only a kitten and it was a horrible sight. A herd of deer had wandered onto the beach and one strayed too close to the water's edge. From underneath the calm surface of the waters, two of the creatures broke. They snatched three of the creatures from the sand before the herd could bolt. It was horrific. They tore them limb from limb in a matter of seconds. Blood and guts painted the beach red in seconds. It was a dreadful sight to witness."
The High Emperor's expression was one I will never forget, and his face was so expressive. The irritation he usually showed for the cat had been replaced by horror and then incredulation. With his bottom jaw slightly dropped, his eyes scanned the King of the Mairne looking for answers, but he found no more than those already provided. To my joy, though, you could see that he was regretting frittering away the time Arunga had spent on the mainland. He had been impatient to be rid of the cat when all that time he could have been asking questions and learning more. He had been a fool and suddenly he knew it. There was nothing he could do now, though. It was too late. All he could do was watch as the shuttlecraft doors closed behind us and we left.

Log Entry 170827.215

The time has come for us to leave the mainland and I'm really anxious that I've not had a moment to talk with T'Roc alone again. She did, however, form a subtle okay sign with her fingers to me earlier in the day. I caught it and glanced up at her face whereupon she threw me a wink that was barely more than a twitch, and a small smile with it. It was her way of saying that it's all okay, but I'm still nervous.
We're not going to travel by transporter, though. It made Arunga so ill the first time around that we couldn't risk it again. Instead, we will be travelling by shuttlecraft, and for the first time it occurred to me to question why the Dirrians hadn't ever visited Tikarra Island by air. They might be afraid of the water, but flying? That was different, surely? I was astonished that I hadn't thought about it before. Traeth was standing beside me so I asked him and he laughed.
"Having been off world, I can tell you that Dirria is the most peculiar of places. While we do have scientists, they are a strange breed and not at all like those of other worlds. You have seen for yourself that we have very little technology indeed. The planet is very civilised but quite simplistic. As to flight, we have no such capability at all. Dirrians have never sought to conquer the sky."
"But your parents were astrophysicists, killed in a shuttle accident."
"Yes. When Dirria made first contact with the Federation, my parents became very interested in them. They learned about Starfleet and its Academy. They managed to secure themselves places on a study programme and left Dirria forever." Traeth's eyes became dreamy as he remembered. "They travelled the stars and they loved it."
"That must have been a really big thing … leaving Dirria, I mean."
"It was. Dirrians don't like off-worlders and don't want to have anything to do with people who aren't Dirrians. As far as they are concerned—" I noted that Traeth spoke of Dirrians rather than 'my people'. "—it was treacherous. My parents were shunned and considered traitors to Dirria. It's why they never had any intention of returning here. They knew they would never be accepted back."
"Oh my goodness!"
"And that's another reason why I've never been able to reintegrate back into Dirrian society. The sins of the father … isn't that something a Terran says?"
"So how and why did Dirria open communications with the Federation in the first place?"
Traeth shrugged.

Log Entry 170820.214

Horrified at what I had just heard, I was desperate to tell the Captain as soon as I could, but I had to wait until the evening. Arunga was preoccupied with Traeth, wandering in the twilight of the garden, when I was finally able to pull T'Roc to one side. I spilled my guts and I know my tone was one filled with angst.
T'Roc listened intently, her brow furrowing deeply between her Klingon ridges, and then Arunga and Traeth reappeared and we could talk no more.

Log Entry 170716.213

Damn! I don't normally hate to be right, but on this occasion, I do.
I was enjoying a little alone time. I've had few such moments since we arrived on Dirria so when I found myself with half an hour and absolutely nothing to do, I grabbed it. I went up to our room, kicked my boots off, poured myself a long glass of refreshing cordial and went out onto the balcony where I could lounge. It was quite blissful.
The sun beat down, warming my face and I leaned back in the chair, closing my eyes against its brilliance and put my feet up. What passed for birds on this planet sang with all the skill and harmony one would expect from a Klingon opera written by a tone-deaf Ferengi and being sung by a hoard of badly neutered cats, yet were strangely soothing as they screeched and squawked among the distant trees. From below, the more melodious tones of soft Dirrian voices rose to my ears. I wasn't listening to them per se, but after a while, as I became accustomed to their tone, I realised I was picking out words, and then sentences. Suddenly, I sat up bolt upright. It was the High Emperor Tonka speaking with one of his ministers.
"Of course, once this feline has returned to its island and the Federation has left, we shall retake Tikarra Island."
"Yes. Before we knew of these pests, the island was ours; even if we had never been there, Tikarra Island was ours. The appearance of these beasts is an inconvenience but little more, and I am not prepared to split our nation, especially for a rabble of cats. Dirria is one world. It always has been, and it always will be."
"But how, your Highness? We have no technology to fly or transporters."
"The same way we always have done; with boats."
"Of course. I think it has been safely proven that we have nothing to fear from the waters. It is time that the Dirrian people braved this frontier and that we took back what is rightfully ours and make Dirria whole once more."
"But what of the Federation?"
"They have a policy of non-interference, and once they have gone, how will they know?"
"And the people of Dirria? What will we tell the people?"
"Nothing. The appearance of these animals is nothing more than idle chatter. Once they are gone, they will be nothing more than myth."

Log Entry 170708.212

At last, it seems that a very tenuous truce has been reached.
Both parties recognise that they are leagues apart. Their cultures are completely different and neither has anything to offer the other, and nothing that the other desires. In effect, the Dirrians want nothing to do with the Mairne, and the Mairne nothing to do with the Dirrians. It has therefore been agreed that the Mairne will stick to their island and the Dirrians to the mainland … exactly as it always has been. So why do I feel so uneasy about it?

Log Entry 170701.211

Things are not going well. The Dirrians continue to show their disdain towards the Mairne, slighting Arunga at almost every opportunity. They are only ever little things but they are very rude ones.
For example, when they take tea, Arunga's is poured into a saucer and put on the floor. It means he has to get down off the stool he has begrudgingly been provided with, and drink like a mere pet.
Arunga, though, rose above it. He looked thoughtfully at the saucer for a moment, and then jumped down with typical feline grace and dignity. He sauntered over to the saucer, sniffed it and began to lap the tea up, enjoying its sweetness. While he drank, Honka tried to continue to talk but found it difficult. He discovered that it was more awkward talking to a cat on the ground than to a dignitary sitting on a stool before him. He had to twist around and down to see Arunga clearly. In the end, he resorted to staring at the ceiling as he spoke which made him seem even more aloof. In retaliation, Arunga remained on the floor once he had finished his tea and began washing his ears with his paws.
I could see exactly what Arunga was doing. If Honka wanted to treat him like a mere cat, then he'd behave like a cat. Honka would feel far more discomfort from it than Arunga would. In fact, I think Arunga enjoyed tormenting him in this way. Doubly so as the method of torment was of Honka's own making.
At one point, as Arunga sat on the mat washing his face, he moved in such a way that I thought he was going to roll onto his bottom, lift a back leg into the air and start licking his arse. Boy! Would I have laughed if he had! As it was, I had to stifle a giggle, smothering it with a cough. I didn't dare look at T'Roc.

Log Entry 170828.210

T'Roc and I were up early, preparing for yet another day on Dirria. Arunga was still curled up lazily in the warmth of the bedclothes with only his little purry snores giving away his presence. Sharing a bed with Arunga was just like sleeping with Beastie. He would stretch and writhe in pleasure during his sleep, often pushing his big, fluffy paws against me, occasionally letting out a silent meow.
T'Roc was reading a datapad as she sipped her tea and I was putting my boots, when I caught sight of her smirking.
"What?" I demanded.
"Nothing," she said, taking another unnaturally delicate sip from the cup.
"Yes, there is. You're grinning at something."
Still smirking, she put her cup down and leaned forward to be sure that Arunga couldn't hear her.
"Well, if you must know," she whispered, "I was just musing about … you know," and she left the words hanging in the air.
"I know … what?"
T'Roc tipped her head towards Arunga. She was teasing me, but I couldn't quite see how. I took the bait shamelessly.
"What?" I hissed at her.
"How to write this one up? What do I say in my report?"
My brow furrowed in confusion.
"What do you mean?"
T'Roc grinned even harder, evil glinting in her eye. She leaned closer to me and whispered, "I've never had to report one of my officers for behaviour unbecoming before."
Horror filled me. What behaviour? What had I done? My mouth worked open and shut like a goldfish, but no words emerged. T'Roc giggled.
"Sleeping with the king!" she whispered.
The words out, she immediately leaned back in her chair and took another innocent sip of her tea.
"It's not like that at all!" I hissed, but T'Roc only laughed all the more.
"Shame on you!" she tutted.
T'Roc can be a rotten tease.

Log Entry 170424.209

An eventless day and for that I think we should be thankful. While Honka remained outwardly polite and courteous towards Arunga, it is obvious that he has little but contempt for him. Sadly, Arunga was not oblivious to it so at the end of the day we chatted quite openly about it in our rooms.
We had all gathered there before bed, primarily to compare notes but also to chill. It's quite tiring, fawning over people and feigning politeness in the way that Honka demands, so the opportunity to relax and unwind was welcomed by us all.
"So if Honka is the High Emperor, who is the Low Emperor?" Arunga suddenly asked.
Traeth explained that in ancient times (again, no idea when 'ancient' was), the country had been divided into the High Region and the Low Region. However, either due to a marriage of the two families or a war (no one could decide which because the Dirrians have never recorded their history), there was now only the High Emperor. I can't say that fact was particularly interesting, but the lack of recorded history was very intriguing.
On Earth we say that history is written by the victors. On Dirria, history is apparently written by the old wenches that feel compelled to tell it to their grandchildren. Such stories are filled with embellishments to entertain or terrorise the young (just as we do with our children), so tales often contradict each other; the truth is very ambiguous at best.
Traeth began to tell us some of the stories that were told to him as a child. Just like our own histories, his tales were filled with kings and queens, princes and princesses. There were rogues and heroes, the kind and the cruel. There were also tales of adultery and murder among the Emperors through the ages, so I suppose the Dirrians are not that different to Terrans after all.
I asked Traeth where he thought the current emperor would fit into Dirrian history. Would he be remembered as a good emperor I asked?
Traeth's eyes suddenly widened and his whole demeanour changed. He glared uncomfortably at me.
"Oh, definitely one of the better ones!" he said, but his eyes spoke differently. He tapped his ear with one hand and swept his finger across his chin with the other, pointing most discretely towards the window. We all realised what he was saying, and a faint shadow passing across the balcony confirmed it. Someone was listening.
Our conversation became stilted and dull, and we quickly feigned tiredness and a need to retire to our beds. We went inside, shutting the windows behind us and began to chat hurriedly. I was worried about listening devices but Traeth assured us we had no need to be. The Dirrians weren't that sophisticated or technologically advanced. In future, though, our conversations will be taking place in hushed tones, our doors and windows closed tightly against the outside world.

Log Entry 170325.208

The evening passed painfully slowly but thankfully without incident. Eventually, and to our immense relief, it drew to a close and we were shown to our rooms. It was the same one we had been in before but with the addition of a pet bed. I found that to be yet another insult upon Arunga and I felt fresh rage. Arunga said he didn't mind, but I sensed his deep unhappiness. He wasn't enjoying this visit at all.
We chatted for a while and then settled into our beds, but I couldn't sleep. I could hear Arunga turning in his, and Celia's words echoed through my mind.
"I can't sleep," I suddenly declared, artificially loudly.
Arunga stopped trying to organise his blankets that stubbornly wouldn't shift.
"Not used to a foreign bed?" he grumbled.
"It's more than that. I'm not used to sleeping alone. Usually I have Beastie beside me." I paused for effect. "I wonder …" I asked slowly. "Would you curl up with me, Arunga?"
The words had barely left my mouth before I felt the thud of his paws landing on the bed by my feet, and the familiar sensation of a cat running up the bedclothes. I pulled the covers back and he snuggled beneath them with me. His loud, contented purr thrummed against my chest, and it wasn't long before we both fell into a deep slumber.

Log Entry 170319.207

I had half hoped that when we entered the Palace a proper reception would have been arranged. As it was, our presence wasn't even acknowledged. The room was full, just as it had been when we first arrived on Dirria, with people chattering and socialising—oblivious to our presence just as it had been last time. Then, I hadn't minded too much but to treat Arunga with such indifference was infuriating and just downright bloody rude. Anger rose in me like a storm. I glanced at T'Roc and saw a similar rage there, bridled but chomping at the bit. She caught my gaze and gave me the tiniest of nods. As the captain of a Federation star ship she couldn't react and risk an affray, but a somewhat unruly acting ensign? Well, that was a different thing.
Reaching over, I plucked Rosie's tricorder from his hand and bashed it hard on a table by the side of me.
"Ladies and gentlemen!" my voice boomed out, "I present to you … the king of the island of Tikarra, king of the Mairne people, his most royal highness, King Arunga!"
Silence dropped onto the room with the weight of an anvil. Every pair of eyes turned to look in our direction as the Dirrians parted like the Red Sea to reveal a rather cross looking High Emperor. As a single, unified body their eyes slowly fell upon the large, graceful feline. With his head held high and his tail flicking the air, Arunga swankered down the aisle, grinning like a Cheshire Cat. T'Roc and Traeth fell in behind Arunga, Al and I behind them, and finally Rutter and Rosie, to form a procession that walked the length of the hall towards Honka. Arunga stopped a few feet from the High Emperor, looked him squarely in the eye and then tipped a bow.
"I am honoured to meet you," he said graciously.
Honka just gawked at him, the edges of his mouth twitching uncomfortably. I could see his uncertainty as he wavered between continuing his ignorance and acknowledging the presence of another leader. His eyes briefly glanced at T'Roc. He was unsure how the Federation might view his rudeness, and in that moment, I realised that despite any impressions he gave, the approval of the Federation was important to him. Dirria may have had something we wanted, but it seems we had something he wanted too—and it wasn't just the exploration of Tikarra Island. In that instant, he had revealed a card he would rather not have played.
Suddenly Honka made a decision. He tipped his head and waved a hand as he sat, inviting Arunga to take a seat beside him. Arunga, with his usual grace and dignity, leapt onto the chair. The rest of us stood by as polite conversation ensued—the sort of polite yet uncomfortable conversation that passes between two diplomats who just know they aren't going to get on.

Log Entry 170305.206

We arrived in the gardens of the High Emperor's palace by transporter, a mode of transport that did not suit Arunga at all. We materialised and almost immediately he collapsed into a fit—a strange combination of coughing and heaving. Hacking and retching like a cat with a fur ball stuck in his throat, he grew weak under the strain very quickly. Without a second thought, I dropped to my knees and cradled him, rubbing his throat and soothing him like I would Beastie. Within seconds we were joined by Dr Roosevelt. Hailed by the captain, Rosie immediately began medical scans with his tricorder. Arunga momentarily lost consciousness but quickly came too.
"I'm okay," he whispered and although not well by any means, he did seem a little better. He had stopped coughing and heaving and lay limp in my arms. Rosie continued to wave the tricorder over him and cast me a reassuring smile.
"He'll be fine. Nothing long term, but I certainly wouldn't recommend using the transporters again."
He smoothed Arunga's face and, forgetting that this cat was a sentient being, tipped his head back to look into his eyes before peeling his ears back to look inside them.
"Oo!" said Arunga in surprise.
"Oops! Sorry," said Rosie. "I was thinking you were … well, I always check … I mean …"
"He means he looks after Beastie," I explained. "She has regular checkups to make sure she's fit and healthy."
"Does she have problems with her ears then?"
"Actually, yes. She had a bit of an infection in one recently and then kept scratching at it, so we do pay particular attention to them."
"Well, as long as it's in my best interests."
"It is, and I'll be staying to monitor your health just to be sure," assured Rosie.
Arunga scoffed and said, "That won't be necessary."
I smoothed his fur and replied, "I promised Celia I would look after you so if the doctor needs to stay, he shall."
Arunga baulked and glared at me.
"And when did you speak to Celia?" he demanded.
I tapped the side of my nose knowledgably and winked.
"Never you mind. Just remember that us women talk."
He sighed in resignation, but it was an affectionate one. I think he liked the thought that people were looking out for him.
"Either way, with or without Celia's consent, I'll be staying. That was a very nasty turn. Have you ever experienced anything like that before?"
"Then I suspect it was a reaction to the transporters, but I don't want to take any chances."
Arunga was fast recovering from his turn, but we sat on the grass waiting for him to recover fully. I glanced up at T'Roc and found her eyes were directed towards the palace. Her face was stony.
"So where is everyone?" she asked.
Traeth sighed heavily and dropped onto his knees beside us.
"It's as I feared," he said. "I'm so sorry. It's insulting—"
"Don't apologise for your people," said Arunga.
"But I feel I should."
Arunga put a paw on Traeth's knee.
"If your people are sorry, they will apologise. If not, you are in no position to apologise on their behalf."
Arunga was so wise.

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.

Log Entry 170114.202

We agreed with the captain that she should transport down behind the tree line on the far side of the village. This would be near to the meeting house so that her sudden appearance would be discrete, and she wouldn't startle the other cats by her sudden appearance. I have to say that when she materialised, she wasn't her usual pristine self. Her uniform was slightly rumpled and grubby, and she held something in her arms, something wrapped in a blanket—undoubtedly a gift for the King.
We entered the meeting house and found Arunga sitting on his throne, his eyes almost closed, mere slits through which he peered at us. Upon seeing the Captain, though, they widened to reveal his great amber orbs.
"What is this?" he demanded, somewhat startled by T'Roc's arrival.
"Forgive me," I said. "But it really is incredibly important that you meet our captain. The reasons will become clear," and I proceeded to make the appropriate introductions.
T'Roc settled herself, uninvited, at his feet, tipping her head respectfully and said, "It is an honour to meet you."
I have to say, Arunga did not look impressed.
"Will you be bringing more of your kind to my island?" he asked indignantly. I looked down at my feet suitably shamefaced.
"Forgive her," said T'Roc. "As her captain, she does as I bid."
"And I suppose that," he said, glaring at the bundle, "is to bribe me with?"
"Not a bribe but a gift. It is our way and when I came to Dirria, I brought a gift for the Emperor. It is only fitting, therefore, that I extend the same courtesy to the King," and she placed the package between them, unfolding it and smoothing its surface. It transpired that the packaging was the gift: a lovely, soft, fleecy blanket.
Arunga's nose twitched with interest but otherwise, he looked disdainful.
"Is that supposed to impress me?" he mocked.
"No, it is supposed to keep you warm," sighed T'Roc wistfully.
This wasn't like T'Roc at all. She was up to something.
Arunga's nose twitched again. His eyes swivelled towards the gift but his head didn't move. He was as transparent as Beastie though. He liked it but wasn't prepared to let us know that.
"And what is it that you want from me in return?" he demanded, his nose desperately trying to turn to the blanket but his will commanding him to resist.
"I am here to offer my service to you because, with my people here, it would be prudent for me to find out your wishes with regard to the rest of Dirria."
I'm not sure that Arunga heard the rest of T'Roc's little speech. His will was breaking. His head kept turning, against his will, towards the blanket.
I whispered very quietly to Al who was standing beside me, "What the heck's going on? What's she up to?"
Arunga's nose was now twitching so furiously, he was in danger of suffering a seizure. Suddenly, his eyes were transfixed upon T'Roc's uniform. He had spotted something.
"What's that?" he demanded suddenly.
T'Roc looked down at her uniform and began brushing it briskly with her hand.
"Oh, I am so sorry. I'm covered in cat hair. I must look a dreadful state."
"Cat hair? You have our kind in your midst?"
"Not exactly. Jen has a cat called Beastie. She's a feline but not sentient like yourselves. She's probably more like your forebears, from a time before history began."
"You mean she lacks intelligence," he scoffed.
"Good grief, no! She might not speak but she's very clever—a proper little escape artist too. She can outthink us all on that topic. The little minx is always foiling our attempts to restrict her access to places on the ship."
"I see," he scowled. "And what purpose does she serve? What task does she perform for you?" He obviously didn't approve, thinking her enslaved or something.
T'Roc looked thoughtful for a moment.
"None that I can think of. She goes where she pleases, does what she pleases and eats what she wants from what I can tell. Her only function as far as I can make out is to get as many cuddles as she can, as much food as she can stuff in her belly and to hair up my uniform!"
Ah! So that was her game! She'd purposely come down covered in cat hair and smelling of feline. So what was it with the blanket?
"Catnip," whispered Al on cue. "She's rubbed catnip into it. It stinks of it."
Of course, I couldn't smell it, but Al had a Klingon nose that was far more sensitive than mine.
Arunga looked taken aback.
"And you permit this?"
"It's not a case of permitting it. It's just what she does."
"She must be very lazy and fat!"
He really didn't approve. T'Roc gave a flighty laugh.
"Lazy? She can be, but the effort she puts in to getting her own way keeps her mentally active. As to her weight, it is a problem we all try to address. We try not to overfeed her but she can be very persuasive. Our doctor keeps an eye on her, and Jen nags us endlessly about not overfeeding her."
"She sounds incredibly spoilt," he remarked, his nose stretching forward and sniffing the blanket. His eyes narrowed in pleasure and the shortest purr in history burst forth before he remembered himself. He jerked back from the blanket sharply.
"I think you are right, but she's a very happy cat. I would be very honoured if you would try the blanket," said T'Roc. "Beastie told me it was lovely."
"I thought you said she couldn't speak."
"Beastie doesn't need words to tell us what she wants, likes or dislikes. She's quite verbal without."
Arunga got up and stretched.
"Oh, very well," he sighed snootily and settled himself in the middle of the blanket, tucking his huge paws in beneath him. He even gave that quaint little wiggle that cats do when settling themselves down, and then his nose dropped to the fleece and buried itself in the pile.
T'Roc had well and truly suckered him!

Log Entry 170107.201

We sat in our little camp and debated our options for hours, arguing everything back and forth. Eventually, we realised we had to talk to the captain. We had no choice. We hadn't checked in with the ship before as there was no need. Our excursion wasn't being classed as a mission, more a vacation, but things had changed. This was, essentially, a first contact situation and I could see the whole thing going tits up at this point.
I opened a communications channel and asked to speak to Captain T'Roc. Fortunately, she was in her office so I didn't need to ask for privacy before I unburdened myself of the whole sorry tale. At the end, there was a long, terrible silence.
"I'm sorry, Captain," I began to apologise. "It's—"
"No, Ensign, don't apologise. You've done exactly the right thing. I was just thinking that’s all. I need to come down there and chat to Arunga personally. As you've already realised, this could all go very badly—very badly indeed. The entire Mairne nation could be at risk and while Starfleet has a non-interference policy, we are responsible for the situation to a degree. We are certainly too deeply embroiled to be able to step away without repercussions of some kind. I suspect we are now into damage limitation, but whatever we do, we need to consult with the Mairne. It's their future that's at stake after all. I'll come down personally."
That was most unusual. The captain of a ship does not normally beam down into such situations but then, T'Roc was no ordinary captain.