Canto 69 – Coffee Time on the Shadowcat (the Blood-Red Thread)
My first meeting with Ham Aero and the crew of the Leaping Shadowcat was in the Trophy Lounge on the lower deck of the Shadowcat herself. The charming white-furred Lupin boy, Sahleck Kim, led me there when I arrived from the White Duke’s shuttle.
“So, you’re the cabin boy?”
“Oh, yes, Dr. Marou. It’s hard to believe, I know. I’ve gone in a matter of a few weeks from Count Nefaria’s dungeons where I was destined to die, to working aboard the space ship of the great Safari Master and adventurer, Ham Aero. My future is suddenly bright.”
The child’s eyes glistened like an excited puppy’s as he told me his tale of rescue. He led me to a seat in the Trophy Lounge where I could sit and eat one of Sinbadh’s sumptuous meals. There was a stuffed head of a dragon-mouthed pakoollie beast from the planet Samothrace looking directly down on my plate, trying his hardest to ruin my appetite with his ugliness.
“My boy, do you have any coffee?” I asked.
Sahleck grinned in a wide-mouthed way that only Lupins can manage. “It’s one of Commander Sinbadh’s specialties!” He said.
“Bring me some. Please.”
The boy hurried to the mess. At that same moment, Ham and Duke Ferrari entered.
“I guess, with Cloudstalker’s departure, you are the Captain of the ship again,” said Ferrari of the curly moustaches.
“Oh, I think you still out-rank me,” answered Aero modestly. “Hello… You must be Professor Googol Marou.”
Ham offered his hand to me and I gladly shook it. “Yes, I’m honored to meet a man who has traveled almost as much as any explorer.”
“The reputation has not entirely been earned,” said Ham.
“This is YOUR ship, Ham,” said Ferrari, frowning slightly. “I think you should be the captain.”
Ham smiled. “I won’t argue that now, Han. Have you met Dr. Marou?”
“No, no… Nice to make your acquaintance, Doctor.”
“I too, am honored,” I said. “I am not used to meeting such powerful inter-planetary politicians.”
Ferrari looked at me as if he were slightly annoyed. “You know the White Duke. He’s a bigger light in this galaxy than I am.”
“Well, if you say so.” I know I must’ve been grinning ear to ear to hear my own friend being praised in this way. I wonder how Ferrari actually took that.
Ham looked at me quizzically. “Professor, what’s in all the boxes you had installed in the skinning and mounting lab?”
“Oh! My invention! I have to tell you about it.” Gleefully I related everything they needed to know about the Marou Ancient Light Holo-Assembler Telescope and maybe a tad bit more as well. I explained how my sheer genius had allowed events to be viewed from light years away, and thusly, years in the past.
“Umm, that’s very good, professor,” Ham said. “I guess that will come in handy…”
He didn’t speak with enthusiasm, but I knew he was actually quite impressed with me.