Sam was able to catch his attention before he ran out into the city, and explained that he was sorry for the incident. It took some time to sort out, but apparently while Sam had gone to get another cat, Lenny and Roy had started to sing an old shanty about swinging a cat by it’s hands and feet to scare away rats. Theodore had simply intended to swing Arnold around in circles, by his legs and tail, to make him screech loud enough to send the rats running.
This simply confirmed to Arnold that he had not overreacted in the slightest, even as he helped stitch the man’s arm. Theodore himself didn’t seem to mind as cats usually scratched him, and even affectionately called him ‘kitty’.
After that misadventure Sam rubbed his hands together happily, “Well, that’s everyone, except for Captain Baha and Penelli.” He led Arnold to the bridge, and pointed out several of the rooms which they knew had rats in them.
“How many are there?”
“Well, I started with one hundred specimens…and so excluding the one’s that we already eliminated…I’d say you have about seventy to go.”
Finally they reached the front and Sam opened the door to reveal a mostly empty bridge. There was the web of metal and the glass he had seen earlier which began a few feet in front of the captain’s chair. There was a railing to either side that came together near that chair, so that if you jumped over the side you’d fall a few feet down to a second platform.
Moving over to the rails he looked down and through the glass he noted there was a vessel underneath them, “Is that some kind of escape ship?”
“Yes actually,” Sam replied and then motioned him towards the very front. “The entrance is right here,” Sam leaned in front of the captain’s chair and pointed down.
Arnold nodded and then tilted his head as he tried to make sense of the captains chair. There were three pedals for someone’s feet to alternate between, two wheels, and two levers. None of them were labeled and all of the gauges were broken. “Is this why you stopped in port?”
Sam smiled, “Oh no, we stopped because of the rats. The captain called them liars and smashed those a couple of months ago.” Arnold didn’t consider that a good sign, but he didn’t say anything as mid sentence a young woman with pale skin had entered. The first thing Arnold noticed about Penelli was that she was almost as tall as Helio, but had a child’s face and a very innocent looking smile. She also had long ears and a distinct otherness that reminded him a little of Sonnerstein…in the worst way possible.
“Hello,” She said while looking him up and down as if trying to see inside him. With a voice that matched her face she added, “You don’t belong here, but then you will never belong anywhere.”
Arnold tilted his head and crossed his arms curiously. Was she just randomly insulting him like the men in town? Sam made a dismissive gesture, “Don’t mind her. She thinks her purpose in life is to make everyone miserable.”
Penelli turned her attention to the scientist, “But everything I say is true. And you are going to die alone, having missed the chance for love because of your ‘science’.” Sam just grinned back at her and shook his head.
Arnold wondered why the captain would want the company of this woman, whatever she was, when Baha entered the room cursing under his breath. Sam approached him smiling, but he was pushed out of the way roughly and had to catch himself on the railing.
Baha got into his chair and used the levers and wheels and soon the ship lurched as it backed out of port. Sam and Arnold gripped the railing as the ship rocked from the rough movement.
Arnold studied the man while he held on, noting the captain was wearing an outfit which reminded him of Scottie’s. Unlike Melnik however, the man had a deep scowl on a heavily scared and ugly face that didn’t seem capable of smiling. He had a sword, pistol, and a dagger attached to his belt, and he would ocassionally carress the dagger.
Penelli whispered something into his ear and he hit his fist onto the already broken gauges. Arnold couldn’t overhear what she said with all the other noises, but he figured it wasn’t much better than what she’d told them. They left, without introduction, after the ship was no longer thrashing about and on a proper course. When they were farther away the feline couldn’t help but ask, “Why does he keep her around? She just makes him miserable too.”
“You know, I never really thought about it…” Sam said. “Maybe they’re married.”
Arnold considered this for a moment before refuting it. He asked everyone else what they thought later that night in the mess.
“The man just likes being miserable.” Marcus said dismissively as he offered Roy a bowl. Roy appeared to agree with Marcus until he found a sock in his meal…
…After settling Marcus with a washcloth for his eye, the cat returned to the mess to find his own meal. Everyone else was gone by then, except for Lenny.
The man motioned the cat forward and kept his voice down, “Don’t go around saying I told you this…but there’s something unnatural about that woman.” Lenny looked around just to make sure she wasn’t in the hallway before looking back. “I think the Captain knows what it is…but you be careful around her.”
Arnold nodded. Whatever was going on between them, or whatever deal they may have made, was their own issue and he didn’t want any part of it. He spent the next day killing aggressive rodents about four feet long and two wide, and hoped that the rest of the voyage was uneventful.