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.