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Ernie Aloft Part 3: Interlude

The catlets headed down to the mess hall to begin the search. The Capo emerged from her hammock, easing away from the napping dog. "They're right, you know."


"I know," he said. "Things have...spun a bit."


"Wildly out of control, you mean?"


He grimaced. "They're just kittens."


"You called your soldiers children, too. But they'd follow you anywhere. You created this place as your personal playground. But it's so much bigger now. So many people. Following you anywhere. Building fleets for you. There always end up being consequences."


He looked at her. "Should I shut it down?"


She shook her head. "It's too late. It's too real. Too many people in this world. Following you. You have to keep it going. Keep it happy, as you can. Keep it joyful.


Besides, we'd all miss the cocktails."


"I'm an idiot," he said ruefully.


"Hearing no dissent," she agreed.


"But you're still here."


"Where else would I be? You're my idiot," she said. "Are you really going to get keyboards made for paws?"


He shrugged. "It seems appropriate. Look at what those three get up to on our behalf. Who would have thought?"


"They were just babies when they came aboard. Eyes barely open. We forget that."


"That's....a bit scary. We ended up changing them somehow. They aren't really cats any more."


"I'm not sure we are guilty of forcing them to evolve. More...privileged to witness? But yes, we need to acknowledge they aren't normal cats. Imagine if the ship crashed and someone just took them to a shelter for adoption."


"So amend the ship’s records to revise their species. They are what, felis something. Felis superior?"


"Felis caelestis, cats of the sky, I think."


"If we had more recruits like Rennie, nobody would have fears for the future of the service," he groused.


He got a very hard stare in return. "What? Oh. Ah. Well. Point. If we gave them the support, they'd thrive too. Oh gods. I didn't actually want to write manuals and do trainings for the Renegade. Please don't make me. Please."


She relented. "You do a pretty good job of setting people straight in real life, and there don't seem to be patterns of misbehavior, ah, non-sanctioned misbehavior, aboard ship. Mostly." (Neither of them said the I-word.)


He looked suddenly distressed. "Does this mean that...that she can't...that we shouldn't?" The Capo looked at him very suspiciously. "I mean, it's just, I really like it when she sits on my lap."


The Capo laughed. "I think it is entirely appropriate to permit catlike sapients to choose to indulge in catlike behavior. As long as you invite her and she is allowed to decline. Do you let Harry or Ernie sit in your lap? You should make a point of inviting them too.


"I do draw the line at Vlad. He doesn't get to sit in your lap."


"If you insist. You are the only vamp on ship with lap privileges."

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