Chapter 8

Red watched as Elh slept, her chest raising and falling to the gentle hums of the Asmodeus's engines. She seemed peaceful and her soft white fur was pristine. Red sat on the edge of her bed and put her small paw into his gloved fist.

"I should have let you go back," he said with a sigh. "You were already sick from using your powers and it didn't help you been surrounded by all of those bugs. I'm meant to be protecting you, yet you almost died yesterday. When that bug had you in its grip… my mind just stopped. I should have insisted that you stay on the ship but I guess… I always feel better with you by my side. I'm sorry…"

Red bowed his brown head, the bone he was biting almost slid from his mouth to the floor.

"… don't get down, I'm fine." Elh murmured sleepily.

"Whaaa?" Red sprang up. "You were awake?"

"Uh huh," Elh giggled, sitting upright. "Don't get all embarrassed, I thought what you said was sweet."

"Just saying the truth," Red shrugged. "You get back to sleep. I'm going to see the red-haired Kaptain, he's got a lot of explaining to do."

"Good luck, I know you'll figure this out Red, you always do," Elh tilted her furry head and grinned up at him.

"Thanks… I'll see you later…" and with that Red left Elh's room and went to the cabin.

The mining in Shetland had picked up pace. Minerals were being brought from the mines to ships with haste and the port was much busier than it usually was but Red had no trouble spotting Kaptain. He was slouched against the Quest Broker building chatting to Flo whose face told Red that she wasn't that impressed with what he was saying. Red approached quickly; Dahak clinking down the street towards them.

"Just one drink on Pickaxe Street tonight, that's all I ask."

"No, I'll be working."

"Surely, a beautiful feline like yourself needs a break."

"Not with you she doesn't!"

"I don't think she's interested," Red interjected. "I am though."

"You're… interested?" Kaptain's face drained of all emotion.

"Not like that!" Red snapped. "I want to know why you sent me on a wild kitty chase after the Black Cat Gang, when you knew that it wasn't a valuable seed but an insect egg."

Kaptain opened his mouth to speak but then closed it again.

"Speak up! Thanks to you my friend Elh almost got killed."

"Ok, ok, I'll explain. The seed wasn't valuable at all. It was just a trick to get back at the Black Cat Gang. They're always troubling me and annoying me so I thought I would get one up on them. So in their presence I kept boasting about a seed that I had that grew a gold bearing plant and how it needed to be planted in Vizsla. I pretended to try to sell it to them knowing they would not buy it but steal it instead. I have a friend from Vizsla and he gave me an insect egg so I painted it gold and just waited for the Black Cat Gang to steal it."

"You're such a fool, you know how dangerous that was?" Red growled. "And why did you send me after them if it was all a set up?"

"Well… don't tell them I said this… but I started to grow uneasy about three kitties being chomped to bits by a huge bug. So when I saw you come to Shetland I thought I would get you to go after them and make sure they were alright by offering you information on the miner's kidnapped daughter."

"So there was no information then?"

"No, no, there is!"

"Well?"

"Are they safe? The Black Cat Gang?"

"Yes, no thanks to you," Red snapped. "Now give me your information before another person gets put in danger because of you."

"You'll like this," the red haired caninu said, grinning mischievously. "I was in the employ of the daughter."

She employed this idiot, that's weird, not that it's any weirder than screaming your head off when you're about to be rescued, Red thought.

"What did she employ you to do?"

"To be a deliveryman, she would get me to deliver letters to a captain of a ship. The captain of a sky pirate ship I believe. I thought this strange myself and was tempted to have a peak at the letters but she said if I tampered with them in any way the captain wouldn't be best pleased so I thought better of it. Also, the pirate would give me back letters to give to her."

"Hmm," Red pondered. "Sending letters to a sky pirate… kidnapped by sky pirates… love books in a fierce pirates' library. Thanks, Kaptain and stay out of trouble."

Back at the Asmodeus, Red recalled all the information he had found out to Chocolat and Elh who listened carefully. They were eating croissants and sipping hot chocolate drinks, their fur getting matted around their mouths.

"It's obvious," Chocolat said slurping her hot chocolate.

"What is?" Red said blankly.

"You really don't know anything about romance, do you Red," and she glanced knowingly at Elh who blushed.

"Hey, I have loads of girls banging down my door, Toffee, Princess Theria, Alicia." Red huffed.

"Red, Red, Red, my brother," Chocolat said, shaking her head. "You have a lot to learn."

"Hey! We're not talking about me anyway, what is it that's obvious?"

"They're in love," Elh said wistfully.

"She must have met this sky pirate, they fell in love, wrote letters to each other and then he whisked her away on his ship…" Chocolat whispered, her eyes glazing. "How romantic…"

"How romantic?" Red said incredulously. "He's kidnapped her away from her father, who is devastated. They could have at least let him know."

"Maybe they did," Chocolat finished the rest of her drink and placed the cup down. "We've already identified that the father is hiding something."

"There's only one way to find out," Red said grinning determinedly. "We're going to have to get back on the Red Destroyer and confront them. We've been running around in circles with this quest for far too long."

"Take Beluga with you, I don't want you to get captured again." Chocolat said.

"Good idea," Red said grinning. "I'll call him up and then it's off to find us some sky pirates."

Chocolat piloted the Asmodeus to meet Beluga on one of Shepherd Republic's uninhabited islands. His huge robot, Salamander, was there also. Its terrifying arms armed with revolver canons were pointed outwards. Beluga was standing still, his red cape was blowing delicately in the wind along with spiky white hair. He didn't move until the Asmodeus docked, climbing onto Salamander and navigating on board the ship. When he got to the cabin his eyes flickered over Elh for a moment before turning to Red who grinned at him happily.

"Thanks for agreeing to help," Red said.

"It was simple," Beluga responded.

"Sorry? I don't follow…" Red mumbled baffled.

"It was simple. I asked you to take care of her but instead you put her in a worse situation than before." Beluga said coldly.

"Whaaa? Hold on a second, how did you—"

"Do you take me for a fool?" Beluga said, his voice as cold and hard as the stone pillars on Samoyede.

"Beluga…" Elh mumbled.

"I didn't mean for her to get hurt… believe me I'm more angry with myself than you could ever be with me." Red said through gritted teeth.

"I don't know, I could try," Beluga marched forward so that he was inches away from Red's face.

"Guys, this is not the time, we've got a quest to solve," Chocolat said firmly, getting in between them and gently pushing them apart.

"Chocolat's right," Red headed for the cabin door. "We've got a job to do, let's find these pirates."