Merlin finished his narration and closed the cover of his journal as he looked around at his family with a smile. Samantha sat beside him on the loveseat in the front room of their home in Grandstorm, their five pups sitting on the carpeted floor at their feet. Now six years of age, the anthrocanine youngsters were curiously inquisitive, and one of them had pulled out their father’s first Blue Horizon Captain’s Journal, taking it to the wolf in his study for him to read to them.
Merlin rubbed his hand over the worn cover of the journal with affection. “Now you know how the Blue Horizon came to be, sixteen years ago,” he said with a smile. “I imagine that one day, each of you will also fly on board the flagship of our fleet.”
“Who gets to be captain?” little Ramius asked with wide, golden eyes. His triangular ears stood up erect and his tail thumped the carpet behind him.
“I’ll bet it’s me!” Cassandra said immediately, tapping her chest with a fist.
Samantha laughed aloud and leaned down toward her children. “It could be any of you,” she said with a grin, “if you mind those in authority above you.”
“If you’re captain, you’re the boss!” Marcus piped up. “Ain’t nobody in ‘thority over you!”
Merlin shook his finger in front of them all. “There is always someone in authority over you, even a captain,” he told them.
“That’s right!” Katherine said haughtily over her siblings. “Taro’s the captain of the ship, but father is president over her!”
Alexander scratched an ear. “Father doesn’t have a boss!” he replied. “You can be captain, I wanna be president!”
Katherine jumped to her feet and raised her hands into the air triumphantly. “I get to be captain! I get to be captain!” she boasted. “The Blue Horizon is mine!”
“No it’s not!” yelled Ramius. “I called it first!”
“No you didn’t!” Cassandra yelled just as loudly, “I did!”
“Settle down!” Samantha said loudly. When the noise level did not drop, Merlin put fingers to his lips and let out a shrill whistle that made them all stop and clutch their ears.
Once he was sure that he had everyone’s attention, Merlin held up his old journal. “Being the captain of a ship is not an easy task,” he said. “Just because you are the alpha over others does not mean you always get your way, nor does it mean that it’s easy. It’s not always fun, and you have to be responsible for the actions of your crew as well as your own. If you want, I can read more of my journal entries to you each night.”
“Yeah!” all the kids exclaimed in unison.
Merlin tapped the journal. “There are lessons to be learned in here,” he added. “You will learn how hard it can sometimes be, and I might even tell you the story on how your mother wound up coming back to us on the ship after returning to her father’s company after that first year was up.” All five cubs nodded, but one of them held up a small hand. “Yes, Cassie?”
“Can I still be captain?” she asked.
Merlin glanced over at his mate and gave her a subtle wink before answering his daughter’s question over the whines of the others.
“That will depend upon you,” he said. “Before you can become captain, you must first serve others faithfully. I became captain only after I had served in the Dennieran military and had proven myself capable of leading others. If you serve well, you might be able to lead well, and this means doing what you are told when you are told to do it. Prove yourself to be trustworthy, and you may have a chance at being captain someday.”
All five of the children fell quiet, lost in their little thoughts; Merlin sat back on the loveseat, putting an arm around Samantha’s shoulders. After several moments, Ramius looked up at his parents and held up a hand.
“Yes?” Merlin asked.
“I want to be captain someday,” Ramius replied. “What do I need to do?”
The wolf smiled. “A captain has to set a good example for his pack. The last time I looked, your room was a mess. Go straighten it up, and I think you will have a good start.”
Ramius stood up and gave his father a snappy salute. “Yessir!” he responded loudly. Then he dashed off toward his bedroom as commanded. Not to be outdone, Cassandra saluted and gave her own loud “Yessir!” before running off to do likewise.
The other three cubs looked at one another for a moment before getting to their own feet. They were not as excited about cleaning their bedrooms as their siblings were, but none of them wanted to be left out of a possible captaincy.
After the last one was gone, Samantha turned toward her mate and gave him a smirk. “I have been trying to get them to pick up their things all day.” she said.
Merlin raised an eyebrow and then shrugged. “All it takes is a little encouragement to the crew,” he said. “It isn’t that important to me that they all serve aboard the Horizon, but it would be nice to hand over the business to one of them someday. If one becomes captain, I am sure they will have adventures of their own. Some might think that life should be mundane shipping freight across the galaxy, but that never seemed to be the case for the captain and crew of the Blue Horizon.”
Unless otherwise noted, all material © Ted R. Blasingame. All rights reserved.