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.