Jeremy knocked on the commander's door, unlike most of the other doors on the space station, this one was made of real wood instead of the simulated stuff.
"Enter," He heard through the door.
Jeremy hesitated, he still hadn't figured out why he'd been summoned, all he could think about was that out of the few reasons the commander usually summoned someone, the principal one was when there had been a screw up so bad it couldn't be handled by the direct supervisor.
He didn't think he'd screwed up anything, his work was always good, at least he worked as hard as he could and no one had come complaining about his work to him. God he hoped he hadn't pissed off someone to the point where they would compile his mistakes instead of telling him.
He took a deep breath to calm his nerves and hoped again he hadn't screwed up something, he didn't want to go back to Earth, and entered.
"You wanted to see me, Commander O'Neil?" he said once the door closed behind him. The commander was seated at his desk with the kelsirian ambassador standing next to him. Jeremy didn't know the ambassador, but there was no mistaking that feline face and the faded brown fur with white and gray splotches. That, and he was the only kelsirian on the station. Jeremy squirmed a little under the ambassador's gaze and he wondered again why he was here.
"Yes, Mister Kromer, but you can relax, you're not in trouble." the commander's tome was calm, and Jeremy did just that, not realizing he'd tensed up his body until now. "An hour ago the kelsirian merchant ship . . ." he stopped as he tried to pronounce the name of the ship in its original language.
"The name translates approximately into 'The Beautiful Roamer'" the ambassador offered in perfect English, with just a slight purr under the words. "I admire your effort commander, I will not be offended if you prefer not to damage your vocal cords trying to speak my language."
The commander gave the ambassador a smile of relief. "The Beautiful Roamer limped into berth an hour ago. They had an accident with their anti matter generator. I understand that you're familiar with those types of generator."
Jeremy nodded, "Yes sir, I finished third in my class on Anti matter energy theory, I've kept myself appraised of the research and . . ."
"I see here you've been spending a lot of time working on the simulations," The commander interrupted.
Jeremy looked at him startled and was silent for a moment. "Yes sir, I've been working on the simulations," he finally said.
The ambassador placed a hand on the commander's shoulder. "If I may commander, he's here."
"Of course," the commander replied.
The ambassador went to the door on the side wall and opened it. In came another kelsirian, and Jeremy gulped. Jeremy was six two, the ambassador seemed to be an inch or two taller than him, and this Kelsirian was at least a foot taller than that. He barely fit under the doorway.
"Gentlemen this is Captain Growler."
Jeremy couldn't help himself. If he was the captain, he broke every stereotype of the fat, and lazy merchant captain. He wore an open vest and Jeremy could see the muscle definition through the captain short chocolate brown fur. He looked like he could rip a door out of its frame, if he wanted to. He gulped again as he looked at his face, unlike the ambassador whose face reminded Jeremy of a house cat, the captain's was that of a big cat; large muzzle, big ears, big teeth and large gold eyes that were looking directly at him.
Jeremy's stomach chose that moment to act up. He didn't react to the pain, but he still drew the ambassador's attention. He remained still under the kelsirian's gaze and he did his best not to look at the captain.
There was an exchange between the kelsirians in their language, low growls and rumbles, some of which made Jeremy's bone rattle. The ambassador turned to them, "Unfortunately the captain does not speak English. He wishes to extend thanks and gratitude for your assistance. I have also explained that humans are not capable of pronouncing our language which is why I gave him the name of Growler. He will not be offended when you call him that."
"What's his real name?" Jeremy asked before he could stop himself. The commander frowned at him, but the ambassador seemed amused by the question. He spoke with the captain who then looked at Jeremy.
After a moment of studying him, he opened his muzzle, and out came a few seconds of rumble and growls. When he was done he looked at Jeremy expectantly, but Jeremy couldn't move or say anything as he fought not to bend over from the pain his stomach sent shooting through him.
After a moment the captain spoke to the ambassador who then turned to the commander. "Unless we can provide further information, the captain needs to return to his ship, and I have duties I must attend to since one of our ship is here."
"No, I think we're good. If you can ask captain Growler to send over the schematics of his ship's generator mister Kromer can familiarize himself with it tonight. He'll be there early in the morning"
The ambassador gave the commander a very human looking smile "I am sorry commander, but humans have yet to be accepted within the Federation, and as you are aware, it is against Federation law to provide non aligned worlds with such information."
The commander smiled back, "oh well, it was worth a try."
The ambassador nodded in return. "I am certain that Mister Kromer will be able to provide you with many details from the work he will be doing repairing the generator." And with that the captain and ambassador left.
Jeremy closed his eyes and took slow breaths, trying to will the pain away, and slowly it diminished.
"Are you okay Mister Kromer?" the commander asked him.
"I'll be fine," he replied between breaths, "stomach pain, comes and goes." When the pain was manageable he opened his eyes. "Sir, I don't know if this is such a good idea."
"Why is that?"
"I don't like cats."
The commander looked at him for a moment. "They're not cats, they're kelsirians."
"I know, I'm sorry, I mean the pets, I don't like them. I don't know if I'll be able to get along with them because of that"
The commander sighed. "Look Jeremy, I know this isn't a good situation, but the kelsirians are supporting our admission within the federation, so we need to stay on their good side."
"What about Allison? She's been working on the generator much longer than I have."
"Allison must be psychic. She left for Earth on leave yesterday morning; she won't be back for two month." He said, leaning back in his chair.
"We could send a request for actual experts." Jeremy was running out of excuses.
"The closest station is three days away, and I doubt they would have anyone qualified to work on an anti matter generator, Earth is two weeks off at a minimum, and as much as I want to keep the fur balls on our side, I want them off my station as soon as possible. I'm sorry Mister Kromer, but you're it."
Jeremy sighed in disappointment, "yes sir."
"One more thing, you heard the ambassador, we're not suppose to have an anti matter generator, if anyone asks you've only been working with simulations."
Jeremy nodded, "yes sir."
"Now go see the doc about your stomach."
He spent the walk to the medical office morose, but at least his stomach was settled now. He walked in without bothering to knock, he spent so much time here because of his stomach that he and Omar were pretty much friends now.
"Jeremy!" his East Indian friend proclaimed happy to see him, standing to greet him. When he saw his face Omar sobered. "Your stomach is bothering you again." There was barely the trace of an accent in his voice.
Jeremy didn't bother answering, he just sat in the chair on the other side of the desk.
Omar pulled his file, "It's been two months since the last time, at least that's an improvement. Do you have any idea what caused it this time?"
"Stress. I have to go work on the kelsirian ship in the morning."
Omar looked at him surprised. "You're going to be working with the cats?"
"kelsirians," Jeremy corrected him absentmindedly, "yes. I've been ordered to by the commander. I tried to convince him to send someone else, but no luck."
The doctor looked at Jeremy's file again and then at him with worry. "If you want, I can have a talk with him, explain the situation, recommend he send someone else."
Jeremy looked at him with hope, and then shook his head. "No, he's right I'm the best one here to help them fix their problems and get them off the station as soon as possible. Can you just give me something for my stomach, I get the feeling I'm going to need it."
Omar made notes in Jeremy's file and then went to a different room, returning with a small bottle. "These worked well last time. There's three day's worth in here, take one if the pain comes back, but no more than one every four hours. If these can't keep the pain manageable for four hours come see me and we'll try something else."
Jeremy nodded and took the bottle. He was used to this, every since his teens he'd been seeing doctors about his stomach. Nothing ever seemed to work for very long.
Omar escorted him to the door. "Now, why don't you get back to your room and rest up. A good night of sleep will help you deal with tomorrow."
Omar watched Jeremy go and returned to his desk, worried about the situation. For a moment he considered sending a message informing the health council of Jeremy's new stimuli, but then decided against, preferring to observe some more, it might just have been a fluke caused by stress. Still, he made adjustments on his file, just in case.
Jeremy didn't immediately go to sleep, first he stopped in engineering to get tools, he figured the kelsirian tools wouldn't be built for human hands so he preferred to be ready. Then he refamiliarized himself with the theories on Federation anti matter generators, and then he went to bed, to spend a night in dreams of brown fur, fangs, claws and pain.