Part II in a series of short stories that leads up to the complete unveiling of my new project!
Kr’zani kept his nose on alert as he walked out of the engine room. Something wasn’t quite right. There was a new smell, something that had been wiped away so thoroughly that he couldn’t but catch the faintest whiff. He had never trusted those two Muaprans, especially the tiny one. It was very possible that they had something to do with the leak. If they didn’t give off such a distasteful odour, perhaps he’d even be able to place what the strange smell was.
Kr’zani meandered into the cockpit and glanced at the edge of the flight console where small lights indicated the lock status of every room within the Endeavour. The Mistress’ study was still secured shut. Sadly, he’d have to wait to tell her about the rather unexpected fuel leak.
Suddenly, a white light began flashing in the centre of the console.
“Comm link requested,” an automatic voice said.
Kr’zani leapt onto his hind legs and gripped the edge of the console with his forepaws. He bumped the flashing button with his nose.
“Hello, Endeavor, this is Adan Stone requesting permission to dock,” came a cheery voice.
The hair on Kr’zani’s neck stood on end. He knew that smooth, disarming cadence all too well. Still, this wasn’t his ship, so he couldn’t ignore the man.
Kr’zani held down a different button with his paw. “Stone, this is Kr’zani. The Mistress is doing her research.” He knew he didn’t need to say more. As much as he hated it, Adan Stone knew the Mistress well, and anyone who knew her at all knew that to disturb her while she was in the middle of research wasn’t a good idea.
“Oh. I see.” He paused. “Mind if I come aboard to wait? I have something urgent to bring to her attention.”
Kr’zani considered. Was it a coincidence that there had been a fuel leak right before Stone showed up? It seemed unlikely that he would be that stupid, but he had reasons for wanting to sabotage them. Yet, his thoughts wouldn’t take him any further than the small suspicion. Though his race was criticised because of their complete lack of imagination, he liked to think that it kept him from making silly mistakes. He only dealt in facts, and that was why the Mistress kept him around.
And the fact was that the Mistress would berate him for turning Stone away for no justifiable reason.
Kr’zani pressed the comm button again. “You’re clear to come aboard. However, I must ask that your visit not exceed twelve Earth hours if the Mistress hasn’t emerged by then.”
“Understood. Many thanks, Kr’zani.” The link clicked off.
Kr’zani lowered himself onto all fours again. He allowed himself a small growl of annoyance. First, the mysterious leak, and now that idiotic Stone…
There was a slight shift in the ship’s balance as the other craft docked. Kr’zani made his way to the airlock and sat on his haunches, watching the door. A moment later it opened with a hiss and a well-dressed, not quite middle-aged human stepped through with a wide smile.
“Kr’zani! Lovely to see you, old boy.”
Kr’zani watched him through slitted eyes. He’d never admit it out loud, but it disturbed him that Stone didn’t fall prey to the fear-inducing pheromones that his fur naturally secreted. He was accustomed to every other being he came into contact with acting warily when they first entered the room. Stone’s brazenness right off the bat always made Kr’zani uneasy.
As the moment of discomfort passed, Kr’zani sniffed. Was that the same smell from the fuel pipe coming from Stone?
“What’s put you in a bad mood today, then? Don’t tell me it was…well, me?”
Kr’zani’s tail swished back and forth as he identified the scent for certain. “This is my normal mood, as always, Mr. Stone.”
“And how many times do I have to tell you to call me Adan?”
“You know very well that’s not a common practice among my people, Mr. Stone.”
Stone shrugged his broad shoulders as the airlock door closed automatically behind him. “I can always try, can’t I?” He clapped his hands together. “So, where is the Endeavour headed off to this time?” He started walking past Kr’zani toward the cockpit.
“That’s classified for now,” Kr’zani said, hurrying after him.
“Yes, yes, unless the Captain decides to tell me. But you know she will.” He took a seat at the flight controls but made no move to touch them.
Kr’zani sat a reasonable distance away. A beat of silence passed.
“You don’t have to sit there and watch me, you know. It’s not as if I have access to anything.”
“No.” Kr’zani narrowed his gaze. “But I will keep an eye on you all the same.”