Kiadan grinned as she stalked her prey through the cavernous air tunnels that made up the starship. Her feet made no sound upon the metal ductwork. She paused for a moment to spy the one she stalked. The felinoid warrior had long eluded her expert skills, but now she had her!
She need only take three more steps, and the day would be hers. Kiadan uncorked the liquid she had painstakingly collected from the galley. The dish soap would get stuck in the fur of the therianthropic warrior felinoid named Tigris. Kiadan laughed at her nickname for the furred warrior. Cat Cat would cry in anguish!
Clutching the liquid container with her prehensile tail, Kiadan began the task of removing the solitary screw from the vent cover above her enemy. She had long disposed of the other screws that kept the vents in place and changed them to gain easy access from inside the ductwork. Her owners had tried to keep her from the vents, had tried to capture and control The Escaper of Cages! None could imprison the clever Ris’War, if she did not feel like being contained in a cage, the ships vents, or ship itself. She continued to elude imprisonment.
Closer cat cat stepped to her sticky doom. It was almost time for her to return to her room for sleep; she had but scant seconds to remove the meddlesome screw.
The screw came loose and the vent made a loud bang as it fell to the floor before Tigris’s feet. Quick as lightning Kiadan poured the dish soap down the hole and ran! Her terrible prank would be known far and wide by all aboard The Discordant Saint. Another in a long list of masterful jokes played by Kiadan Slywyth, The Escaper of Cages!
Kiadan didn’t stick around to see Tigris’s predicament or the consequences of her gooey prank. Even if the humanoid feline had gotten mad enough to come after her Kiadan was safe in the air ducts. She was the smallest of the crew, her lemur-sized body allowing her to slip into any room on the ship undetected.
Taking out her computer from her pouch of holding many things™ she began to cycle through the information she’d collected, seeking her next target. Common sense would say that pulling too many pranks was bad for the crew, but Kiadan dismissed that idea as silly. This allowed her friends to practice surprise tactics. Kiadan frowned at the list in front of her, careful to select a prank that was little more than a simple annoyance at best. She didn’t want another prank to backfire against her. She’d been able to look at Jello after the last fiasco.
She grinned to herself as she sighted her next target: Philip, her owner and best friend in the whole universe. Kiadan knew that her friend wouldn’t mind another prank, even after she filled one of his shirts with an adhesive that had required a special trip to Ryian X5 for removal.
The two had been friends since Philip stumbled into the lab where she was being held by The Evil Scientist Who Was Not Funny™ for experiments. Kiadan growled as she remembered the horrible tortures he’d inflicted on everyone before the members of the Discordant Saint destroyed the space lab.
Musing to herself she clicked through the list of options before finally settling on gluing feathers to his hand. Pleased with her plan she scurried off to wreak havoc. She would need to wait for him to sleep for a few hours before she could implement her trickery. The feathers were easy. She’d secreted those away throughout the air caves months prior. She would need to collect more glue from engineering.
Returning to one of the many locations she’d stashed a feather she sighed as the feather would not come unstuck from where she’d glued it. “Stupid feather! You supposed to come when Kiadan pulls.” Harrumphing to herself she began retracing her steps, hoping to find some feather that would do as it was told.
Through the course of her patrol, Kiadan didn’t find a single feather willing to cooperate with her fiendish master prank. In a tantrum, Kiadan jumped up and down in the vent. “Stupid feathers!” she cried in her squeaky voice. To her shock the vent came undone and she tumbled into a darkened room.
The fall had so surprised Kiadan that she forgot to unfurl her wings or even to shift her form into a creature of pure space. It was her greatest gift to become a space being whenever she wished. Her shape could not change but she gained abilities that were common to the vacuum of space that surrounded The Discordant Saint. Her normal purple scales faded into blackness and a private collection of constellations would dot her hide.
She lay upon a box glaring up to the vent that had betrayed her and left her sprawled upon her back. “Stupid vent make Kiadan fall!” she snarled as menacingly as her tiny voice would allow.
Standing up on all fours, she swiveled her head left and right. “Where Kiadan fall?” she asked aloud. “Hello? Anyone but darkness can hear Kiadan?”
As her eyes adjusted to the gloom she realized where she was. She was in one of her emergency hideaways. The box that had broken her fall was filled with all her most precious of possessions! Rooting through the box, she giggled and laughed as she uncovered toys she’d long forgotten.
“Kiadan find heaven!” she laughed, grabbing her favorite bear. “Kiadan remember Plushie Bear! She use Plushie Bear on Asteroid to whisper secrets to Philip!” With a happy laugh she flew back into the air duct with her toy, intending to show Philip her newest rediscovered treasure.
“Philip!” she called running the air vents, the sound reverberating everywhere in the ship. “Philip! Kiadan find surprise! See what Kiadan find!”
Seeing the cyborg keeping vigil at the communications station, Kiadan sprang from the air vent laughing. She landed on his head and dangled the toy in her mouth. “Mukit!” she laughed, spitting it onto his lap. “Kiadan find Plushie Bear! Philip want play with Plushie Bear?” Kiadan asked him earnestly, her mission to prank him long forgotten.
“You made a mess, young lady,” Philip reprimanded. “You have a pile of dish soap to clean up. Captain Branko isn’t going to tolerate a mess on his ship.” He fixed the tiny lizard with a serious gaze. “And then he’d make me get rid of you and we couldn’t play anymore.”
“Philip!” Kiadan whined.
“You clean up the mess and I’ll play with you and your toy.”
“Yaaaaa!” She snatched up the bear in her mouth and jumped to the ground, running in the direction she had last spotted cat cat. Running as fast as her tiny legs would carry her, she covered considerable ground, taking three or four bounding leaps and using her wings to propel her further down the passage.
Coming to a stop, Kiadan spied the evil green goo resting in a puddle on the floor. Setting Plushie Bear next to the gunk, Kiadan fixed the stuffed animal with a serious expression. “Goo evil, no touch, Plushie Bear.”
Reaching into the tiny harness that she wore, Kiadan fished a moist towel from her pouch of holding many things™. She set about scrubbing the vent cover and floor with the towel, giggling at the bubbles that quickly formed from the motion. “Oh no! Evil goo changing! Stay back Plushie Bear!”
Again from her pouch of holding many things™ Kiadan produced a simple water bottle and started squirting the evil bubbles. As she worked Kiadan heard a sound and she paused. “Hello?” she called into the empty hallway. “Anyone hear Kiadan?” Receiving no answer she looked to her close friend. “Plushie Bear hear sound of skittering claws?”
A brief pause for her friend to answer and Kiadan nodded. “Kiadan hear it, too! What make scuttling claw sounds?”
Setting her bottle down Kiadan sat upon her haunches, looking this way and that and straining to hear the sound again. When it did not repeat Kiadan shrugged and looked at the stuffed animal. “Kiadan not like this,” she mumbled to the plush animal. “It like time Jeff Uinti explored planet of mudmen! They scampered past vision and creeped out famous explorer!” Looking around, she held the water bottle close to her chest. “They not get Kiadan! Kiadan know that mudmen hate water!”
To accent her point she did a quick 360 degree turn, spritzing water. “HA!” she gloated. “Kiadan safe from mudmen now! No cross liquid trap!”
“Kiadan,” Philip’s voice came over her walkie talkie, “have you finished cleaning up that mess?”
“No,” she mumbled aloud. Realizing that Philip couldn’t hear her she dropped the water bottle and pulled her human sized walkie talkie from her pouch. “No,” she repeated. A gift from one of her many adventures. Philiph had spent time to configure the simple toy into a communication device that could be used in the spaceship.
“Finish up and you get a treat,” the cyborg promised.
“But I want that area clean, Kiadan.”
“Kiadan not stupid,” she responded over the radio. “Kiadan just telling Plushie Bear she heard something.”
“Uh huh,” the response came back. “Well, be sure to clean up the mess.”
The walkie talkie went quiet as Philip signed off. Whistling to herself, Kiadan put the device back and returned to the task of cleaning up the evil goo. The eerie sounds of the scurrying claws were forgotten with the promise of a treat from her friend Philip.
Dropping her water bottle, Kiadan stood upright on her hind legs.
The sound had returned and closer than ever. Gulping Kiadan picked up her water bottle in two tiny hands. “Who there?” Kiadan asked, her tone braver than she felt. “Kiadan have dangerous weapon!”
Sskksis! Sskksis! Sskksis!
Kiadan felt it before she saw it. Something looming just off to her right. Spinning in that direction, water bottle spritzing crazily she was confronted with the terrifying monster, only a little bigger than she was. Its brilliant orange eyes locked upon her, staring deep into her soul. The monster’s tiny fanged mouth dripped blue ichor. With a horrifying scream, it lunged at her, intent on making the tiny dragon-like creature its meal.
“AAAAAAAAhhhhhhh!” With a burst of speed Kiadan flew up and away from the creature, water bottle held tightly in her small hands. She spritzed the creature a few times. It was however unfazed by her mighty weapon. “Uh oh!” she muttered floating above it.
The creature below her wasn’t moving, what could make that sound? Suddenly there was an immense weight upon the tiny dragon and she was hurtling to the ground. She landed with a groan and struggled under the weight of another of the creatures.
“Kiadan not want to be monster food!” In that one moment of panic she felt the transformation of living space flow through her body, turning her as cold and black as the space around the ship.
Repulsed by her super cold form, the creature squealed in anger and jumped away. “HA!” Kiadan jeered, rolling back to her feet. “No eat Kiadan! Bad monsters!”
“Rrrrrrawaaaaaaaaaaa!” the creatures screamed in unison, blue spittle dripping from their fanged maws.
“Uh oh,” Kiadan gulped in fear. She dodged one of the creatures as it lunged again. “No! Not eat Kiadan!” she said, taking wing. The creatures, vexed by her disappearing act, reared and lunged, leaping into the air after the nimble dragon. She clutched the wall, holding on and watching. “Nya! No get Kiadan in air!”
Denied their target, the creatures began to search for something else. At the same time both parties saw the forgotten stuffed animal. Faster than the monsters Kiadan dived, scooping up her Plushie Bear in her front paws and taking back to the sky. The monsters screamed again and jumped after her. “Kiadan in trouble! Better tell Philip. Philip know what to do!”
Decision made, Kiadan took off as fast as her small wings could carry her. Pumping furiously, as she sought to stay ahead of the fanged horrors she had discovered. “Philip!”
Kiadan turned the corner and collided with the shut bridge door. “Ow! Philip open up! Kiadan being chased!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, banging on the metal door with her small fists. “Philip!”
Behind her, the creatures grew louder and it seemed as if there were more of them. Daring to look behind her Kiadan saw that the first two had found another six to play with, and they did look hungry and scary!
“Uh oh… Kiadan got bad feeling ‘bout this.” Flying upwards, Kiadan landed on the ceiling, gripping onto the vent there and digging through her pouch of holding many things™. She brought out her screwdriver and worked at the screw. Forgetting that the vents opened out she almost fell to the ground when it came loose, only taking wing at the last second to avoid being under it when it hit.
Crawling into the air ducts, she looked back at the creatures milling around the foot of the door. The eight seemed to have more friends coming, but Kiadan wasn’t sure if they were as clever as her. She searched around in her pouch of holding many things™ to find something to slow them down. She knew what to do. She whipped out a blanket and laid it over the vent. “They not see it now,” she laughed. Her ruse laid, she headed to the bridge, returning to her normal purple hue.
Peering into the bridge revealed that Philip wasn’t alone. He stood before the door with his six metallic arms keeping it wedged shut. With the giant robotic communications officer was cat cat, Mare-lene and Jigsaw Branko.
“Give me a report,” Branko barked, his scarred face matching his menacing voice. Kiadan didn’t like Jigsaw Branko and his meany meanness.
“Nothing to report, Sir,” Marelene responded, her normal amused tone gone. “They simply appeared.”
“Don’t look at me,” Tigris said in an agitated voice. “I don’t know where they came from either.”
“Philip?” Branko asked.
“Can’t say, Captain, like Marelene said, they just came from nowhere.”
Sensing safety near at hand, Kiadan unfastened the latch that held this vent in place. Banging the vent open she came tumbling out. “Philip! Icky-bug thingies in ship!”
“Yes, Kiadan,” Philip said. “We know about them. Do you know anything about them?”
“They no scared of water.”
“Kiadan,” Branko began in his gruff voice, “do you know anything about this?”
“No, Jigsaw Branko,” she said, cowering back and onto Philip’s shoulder. The disfigured face with crisscrossed scars intimidated Kiadan more than anything else she had ever seen. His terrifying presence was a constant reminder this was not a man to be messed with, and his punishments were the sort that could end wars. He once made Kiadan clean the bathrooms for an entire week with a toothbrush.
“So what are they?” he asked, fixing her with a cold gaze for a few moments before moving on to the others. The gaze served to remind Kiadan of the punishment for hiding his clock, and she retreated from Philip’s shoulder onto his back, using her claws to grip his metallic body.
“I don’t recall ever seeing them before,” Philip said, stepping from the door. “Kiadan, how did you get in here?”
“Kiadan went through air caves,” she said happily. “Kiadan fool big icky-buggy-thingies.”
“How?” Marelene asked.
“Kiadan throw blanket on vent cover. No icky-buggy find way in here. Kiadan smarter than bugs.”
“You just threw a blanket over the vent hole?” Philip asked.
Kiadan nodded from her perch, a large smile upon her draconic face. She was pleased that Philip recognized her genius.
“Kiadan, how many of those things where chasing you?”
“Kiadan counted eight chasing her, but sounded like icky-bugs had friends.”
“Kiadan!” Branko looked at her and she could see the rage contained in his eyes. “Listen to me. Do you have anything to do with these things?”
She shook her head. “Kiadan not see icky-bug things before today when Philip make Kiadan clean up evil green goo.”
He arched an eyebrow at the answer but chose not to say anything. “So, how did these things get on my ship and where did they come from?”
“Captain,” a smooth voice spoke over the radio. “I think I found where the creatures came from.”
“Go ahead Erebus,” Branko radioed back.
“I found a honey comb looking… thing… behind my engine core.”
“Behind the engine core?” Marelene said. “Where exactly?”
“Near the base and about twelve feet back, give or take.” There was a pause on his end. “It’s too hard to get to; it must have been put there deliberately.”
“Sabotage?” Tigris hissed. “One of the rival ships leaving us a surprise?”
“If that’s the case,” Marelene chuckled, “you’re a bad weapons officer.”
“Weapons,” Tigris said, fixing the female pilot with a look of contempt. “I am in charge of leading boarding parties and maintaining weapons caches. Not examining the ship for every minor occurrence.”
“Enough!” Branko barked.
Kiadan shifted nervously On Philip’s shoulder. “AIRBUS! Icky-bug things eat honey treasure?” she asked.
“Look like many chamber filled honey thingy,” Kiadan explained patiently. She ignored the looks from her crewmates on the bridge. “Kiadan put it there for safe keeping.”
“You brought these things on my ship?” Branko snapped, his eyes vanishing into the mass of scars as he glared at the purple dragon.
“No,” Kiadan said in a patient voice. “Kiadan bring honey treasure onto ship, looked valuable.”
“Translation: it was shiny,” Philip said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Kiadan, what have we told you about taking things that aren’t yours?”
“But no one there to claim it!”
“I got more bad news,” a new voice chimed in over the radio.
“Go ahead, Doc,” Branko said. “I can’t imagine we want to hear it.”
“The uh… bugs’… favorite meal is wiring.”
“What do you mean wiring?” Branko growled.
“They’re Inukaes. They eat the plastic that wires are contained in. Then they lay more eggs which hatch, and in turn eat more wires, which makes more creatures.” There was quiet for a bit. “I caught them eating my medical equipment and just now found another communication relay.”
“How do we kill them?”
“They’re no hardier than any other creature,” Rahyne said over the radio. “Only portions of their body can be severed and they will continue to operate for a full hour before dying.”
“So how do we kill them?” Branko said.
“They suggest we find a Yiqueas to feed them to.”
“Well we don’t have one of those. What else do they suggest?” Marelene asked.
“We could try jet…” Rahyne’s voice broke off in a static hiss.
“That would be them chewing through the wires to the radio,” Philip said. With one of his hands he picked Kiadan up by the back of her neck. “You’re going to fix this, young lady.”
“But! Icky-bug thingies scare Kiadan!”
“What doesn’t?” Marelene asked.
“No buts,” Philip said in a firm voice. “You brought them you have to clean up after them. It’s your responsibility.”
She stared at Philip, her eyes growing larger as she attempted her patented Ris’War eyes. When the trick didn’t work she began crying. “Philip no send Kiadan out to die! Kiadan not know honey thing hold baby icky-bugs!”
“This will have to be a lesson to you, young lady,” Philip said. “Only you can fit into the air ducts, so you have to go to the rear cargo hold and release the door.”
“You know, with Kiadan crawling through the ceilings constantly nowhere on this ship is safe from depressurization,” Marelene reminded the cyborg.
“There’s one place,” Tigris spoke up.
“She means the escape pods,” Branko said. “Philip we’re going to have to do something about your pet’s annoying tendency to make my ship unsafe. What pirate keeps a pet that causes more trouble than they do?”
“We do,” Marelene said. ”I can get us to the escape pod. Kiadan can survive hard vacuum. It’s a sound plan.”
“Except we’re trusting in a forgetful, naïve little space dragon,” Branko said.
“Kiadan not forgetful! Kiadan remember everything informational video ever teach her!”
“We have other worries,” Tigris said, pointing at the door. “Rahyne and Erebus are in their respective areas. And while they might be formidable combatants they cannot survive a trip through hard vacuum.”
“Kiadan know!” she laughed, perking up. “Kiadan program computer to open doors an suck everything out.”
“Kiadan,” Branko snapped. “Everything getting sucked out of the ship is bad. Even if it did work we’d be sucked out and die; all but the reptilian pain in my ass. To confound matters you’ve done so much tinkering with the computer that even the vent safety valves won’t shut when the ship’s main hatch is opened. Nowhere on this vessel is space safe anymore.”
“Oh…” she mumbled looking ashamed. “What we do?”
Branko looked at the people standing before him and hung his head. “Abandon ship. Philip, you and Marelene head to Medical, get Rahyne. Tigris and I are going to engineering. We’ve gotta get Erebus. We’ll go jump in the shuttle.” He turned to look at Kiadan. “And you had better do your job or I’m gonna turn you into a belt.”
Kiadan gulped and nodded, terrified of the prospect of being worn around Branko’s waist for the rest of her days and missing the part of her being dead in the process. “Kiadan do it.”
“Alright, Kiadan you’ve gotta listen to your walkie talkie now,” Philip said. “Our main ship communicator is broken. You’ll need to listen for when I give the word.”
“Kiadan listen!” She said, taking wing and heading to the air vent.
“You know,” Philip began, “the wiring to the escape pod is probably eaten or disrupted.”
“Well then,” Branko said. “We die and no one will know it ‘till some other pirates come to claim the ship as theirs.”
Marelene smiled at Branko, “Charming.”
Running as fast as her little legs could carry her, Kiadan rushed through the enclosed air ducts. She darted left and right in a complex pattern of zig-zags. She attempted to confuse pursuers that did not even know she was there.
As she came to the final vent that would lead her into the cargo bay she froze, staring into masses of icky-bug things. Gulping she reached for her walkie talkie and tuned it to Philip’s signal. “Philip,” she whispered into the box. “Kiadan find cargo bay.”
“Good, I’ve got the doctor.”
“Philip,” she whispered again. “Jigsaw Branko in trouble, Kiadan no see shuttle.”
“What do you mean, no shuttle, Kiadan?”
“Kiadan looking in cargo bay… more icky-buggy things than she can count. And Philip knows Kiadan can count really high, she counted entire bag of hard shells once. Kiadan think icky-bug things ate shuttle.”
“They can’t eat a shuttle, Kiadan.”
“Kiadan just telling you what she see, Philip,” she said in a hurt tone.
“Ok, just wait there. I’ll radio Branko.”
“Tell Jigsaw Branko Kiadan doing what told! No want to be belt!”
“I will,” Philip’s voice came back patiently.
“Kiadan mean it! Kiadan not look good as belt.”
Several tense moments passed before Philip responded. “Branko has Erebus, they’re headed here. Give him a minute, and then blow the door,” Philip said, his voice tense. Kiadan nodded her head, looking at the walkie. “Kiadan are you nodding?”
“I can’t see you nod. You have a walkie talkie not a vid phone.”
Waiting, she reached into her pouch of holding many things™ for her screwdriver and another blanket. She began to remove the screw, taking time to make sure that Jigsaw Branko, cat cat and Airbus got to Philip. She also made sure to be as quiet as possible. Kiadan wrapped her tail around the vent bars in an attempt to avoid the cover falling into the mass of teaming creatures and creating a loud noise. There was a jarring explosion and the ship rocked. There was one last blast from her walkie talkie, “We’re away!” Then silence.
Breathing deeply Kiadan closed her eyes and sighed. “Philip safe, cat cat safe, Airbus safe, Mare-Lene safe, Ray-hen safe,” she thought. “Kiadan need save ship. Kiadan be hero. Hero like Naika The Battle Magus of Celiera Five! Kiadan need be brave. No one else be brave for Kiadan.”
She had to be brave. Even more so than Naika The Battle Magus of Celiera Five! Naika left special messages in his informational videos, speaking directly to her from millions of light years away. Kiadan knew it. Why else would he direct the purple dragon to purchase equipment if he didn’t need Kiadan’s help? Truly wise beings like Naika could foresee the future. Kiadan knew it. The shiny box told her so, and no one lied in informational videos.
Drawing upon her unique ability she once more changed into a living personification of the night’s sky. Her vision enhanced, allowing her to see in the darkness of the air ducts. With another deep breath to steel her nerves she pulled the vent back towards her and gave the screw one last turn. With a muffled tink the screw fell to the vent floor and the grate was free. Kiadan wedged the vent with her blanket so it would not fall into the masses, and floated along the top of the bay above the heads of the monsters.
The manual cargo release was located near the entrance to the ship proper but the heavy lever would require Kiadan’s full weight to move. As she skulked quietly along, she watched the creatures from above. They milled about and munched on anything it seemed, biting hard metal as well as themselves in their quest for plastic. Kiadan was sure they’d make a meal of her given the chance.
“Brave Kiadan! Naika not ‘fraid of icky-buggy things! Naika powerful and brave. Kiadan powerful, too. Kiadan pre-or-danied Ris’War! Kiadan creature of legend!” she crowed triumphantly.
The teeming mass of bugs turned towards Kiadan as they heard the tiny would be hero squeaking to herself.
“Uh oh. Kiadan need to learn to talk in head!”
The bug things began to lunge at the floating reptile. Kiadan ducked, dived and dodged, caring little for where she was going as long as she stayed away from the creatures.
She reached into her pouch of holding many things™ and pulled out her walkie talkie. “Good bye Mister Talk-For-Me!” she cried pitching it over her shoulder and away from her. Some of the creatures chased after the small black box. Kiadan zipped forward, landing on top of the control and pushing with all her might, hoping to release the lever and open the cargo doors.
Try as she might Kiadan’s insignificant weight would not move the lever. She knew what she had to do. Snaking her tail into her pouch of holding many things™ she retrieved her toy remote for her plane. She held it aloft with her tail, waving it back and forth. “Kiadan know this going to hurt!”
Sensing the plastic in her controller, the mass of bugs jumped and pressed against her. The added weight and mass pulled Kiadan down to the ground. The cargo bay doors opened but the action was not without consequences. Tiny fanged maws dripping goo found Kiadan’s body and struck, piercing the cold flesh. Each bite caused her body to wither in pain and her blood to race. Her tiny heart hammered in her chest and her breathing came in ragged gasps. Death it seemed, had found the tiny dragon as she was sucked out of the ship along with the problem she’d created.
It was hard to know how much time had passed for the tiny mischief maker, but when she finally regained consciousness she was surrounded by her favorite friends, including Plushie Bear. The info box was on and playing for her entertainment. Hard chocolate shells sat next to her box in a tiny bowl. Her favorite meal!
Kiadan lay upon her back staring up at the Info Box, which was fine with Kiadan. Movement was hard to do for some reason. Every time she attempted to move pain would lace through her body. Even talking was hard for the normally loquacious reptile. The box was playing Naika The Battle Magus of Celiera Five!
“Turns out they had poison,” Rahyne’s voice said from somewhere to the right of Kiadan. “You’ve been asleep for almost a week now.” The doctor’s face appeared in the single opening to her box. “We’ve been feeding you through tubes. Probably the first real meal you’ve eaten since I’ve known you, Kiadan.”
Kiadan attempted to mumble something but found it too hard. “We had a devil of a time finding you. Next time don’t throw your walkie talkie away when you’re looking to distract monsters.”
A door slid open and a pair of booted steps marched in. “Leave us,” the voice said.
“Yes Captain,” Rahyne said. A second later a door opened and closed again.
If there was any face Kiadan did not want to see so soon upon waking it was Jigsaw Branko’s. She shivered and tried to move.
“None of that, Kiadan,” Branko said. She stopped shivering and lay still. “Bet you feel as bad as I look,” the pirate captain grinned. He coughed and his face relaxed into its normal scowl. “Here,” he said placing a small stuffed animal right next to her. “For your brave deeds in the course of saving this ship and her crew, I give you the first stuffed animal of heroism.” He fixed her with a serious gaze. “You tell anyone I gave you this and I’m making a hat outta you, Kiadan.” She nodded she understood. “Have you learned not to pick up strange shiny objects?”
Kiadan didn’t respond as she stared up at Branko from her back. Her tail snaked into her pouch of holding many things™ and she held up Branko’s shiny silver spoon her face splitting into a grin. Branko stared at Kiadan for a moment before snatching up his first stolen item. “Well at least you won’t cause trouble here in medical.” He turned from Kiadan. “Take care, kid.”
The adventures of Kiadan Slywyth excerpt
Kiadan grinned as she stalked her prey through the cavernous air tunnels that made up the starship. Her feet made no sound upon the metal ductwork. She paused for a moment to spy the one she stalked. The felinoid warrior had long eluded her expert skills, but now she had her!