Mission: Little Things
Jasen barely dodged a group of children running rambunctious through the corridor of Deck Five. A few seconds slower and he would have been stampeded.
"Children," he shouted and the lot of them, mostly eight and nine from an assortment of races, turned and looked at him. "Don't run in the corridors. You might run over someone useful, like the cook."
All of them lowered their heads, admonished, and provided a collective "sorry, sergeant."
"Hey, look at me," Jasen said, his hazel eyes focused on the group of rugrats. They all looked up at him. "It's Gunnery Sergeant, and I told you, it's Jasen. Now go bother Chef and tell him I said to give you all a treat, courtesy of my replicator ration for the day."
The children all beamed up at him before running along. Since the Minerva had been invaded by the children from the orphan ship and Captain Rau's outstanding order made law, Jasen had helped where he could. And for some strange reason, the children seemed to hone in on him.
Probably because he had forked over all but one replicator ration a day for the children. And even that went to the children for treats. Chef could be creative with some of the recipes from rations.
Not that he minded, of course, but it did take from his duties, including weapons manifest records, which he was supposed to deliver to new MCO.
Shortly, he was in the turbolift, barely avoiding another stampede of children ... looking down at the data pad when someone suddenly bumped into him rather unceremoniously. A dark look touched his eyes as he looked up, ready to chew out whatever midshipman for the rude entrance ...
... when he saw her. Captain Rau. He stiffened slightly and muttered respectfully, "Captain." He then averted his eyes and said "main armory, Deck Fourteen ... after the Captain's destination."
Cecilia Rau eyed the gunnery sergeant as he walked in, recalling their one quick "chat" not all that long ago. Since then, there hadn't been quite so many reports about his beating up other crewmembers, so she figured that had to be progress. "She inclined her head slightly in greeting. "Calin," she greeted. "I'm en route to deck fourteen as well." She hesitated then decided she could offer a touch more information. "Firing range." It was, of course, one of the areas that the children were expressly forbidden from going...and thus, that was where she wanted to go.
Jasen smirked at the captain’s specific destination. He really didn’t see too many senior officers outside security make use of that particular facility.
“I’m guessing the sound of phaser fire is preferable to … another sound, sir,” the gunnery sergeant said with a straight face. Most seemed less than thrilled, whereas Jasen was somewhat more accustomed to it.
He was about to say something else when he heard a high-pitched noise … well higher than the normal turbolift hum. Jasen looked at the skipper to inquire …
… and then the small area suddenly shook violently. Jasen found himself thrown against a nearby wall just as the bloody lift came to a complete stop. The next thing the Marine was aware of was emergency lighting coming on and the brief ringing in his ears.
“What the fuck just happened?” he muttered before looking in the Captain’s direction. “In one piece, sir?”
"Yes," Rau growled, "although a few engineers may not be soon." She slapped the comm badge on her chest. "Rau to engineering. What the fuck just happened in turbolift four?"
Jasen wasn’t sure whether to smirk or grimace over the captain’s intent with a few poor engineers. He did neither, instead focused on waiting for a response from Engineering. Loyalty and admiration to Captain Rau was one thing; being stuck in a lift with her was another thing entirely.
The answer came all too soon … but not in the fashion Jasen had hoped. “Engineering to … relays exploded … difficulty rerouting power,” the response from an apparent apprehensive engineer came over the comm garbled. “Interference … no transporter signal … threat of more overloading …”
The comm went dead. A few seconds later the bloody turbolift shook again before falling silent.
Jasen tapped his own comm badge. It chirped briefly … “Gunnery Sgt. Calin to Engineering, I’ve got a Captain stuck in Turbolift Four who was on her way to the firing range so any help would be appreciated …” Only a garbled response came back, unintelligible.
The Martian marine swore quite violently in Greek, including mention of some bloody engineers suddenly becoming involved in the next round of combat exercises … and then blinked when he realized the bloody UT was likely still working.
“Upside, sir, we can chat," he muttered. "Scuttle is you resisted the order to have orphans aboard. I'm guessing you're ... not fond of them." It was no secret that Jasen had gone out of his way to surrender replicator rations for the younger children ... or reprimanded some of his Marines for trying to shirk the Captain's orders.
Apparently, the rumor mill aboard the ship was getting more skilled. Rau grunted noncommittally as she leaned back against the wall, folding her arms over her chest. "There are some people in the world who are born nurturers and caretakers, and they get on well with children and small animals. I am not one of those people."
“And I thought you’d be accustomed to such tasks after speaking with admirals all the time, sir,” he muttered as he scanned the contents of his PADD. Rumors flew like a fast bird from junior bridge officers every so often — often just rumors because no one was stupid enough eavesdrop on such communications.
Jasen briefly eyed the turbolift door console, then the PADD in his hand and then briefly glanced at Captain Rau.
“Hera help me, but I don’t know if I have such patience, sir,” he said after a moment. “Dealing with admirals, that is. Dealing with children comes naturally when you’ve been a father twice … and when your mother had to raise a son whilst being a senior starship design engineer at Utopia Planita.”
Jasen’s hazel eyes returning to the door console. Gods but he was half tempted to find a solution to their current predicament himself before the captain decided the Marine would make a better meal than an unanticipated companion in a stuck turbolift.
The captain briefly wandered into a what-if realm that she very, very rarely went to: children. Chameloids were not biologically compatible to mate with any other race, at least any she'd heard of, on their own. And the medical intervention required to achieve it was daunting, at best. She'd never known anyone she wanted to go through with it for. Never that close to anyone. And never met a Chameloid she wasn't related to, so... Well. Eight centuries of childlessness made an impact on that part of the psyche. "Admirals are harder to deal with because, unlike children, they do have some power to the orders they give you."
Jasen chuckled at his captain’s remark on admirals. A very hearty chuckle at that.
“Captain, you’ve really never dealt with children, have you?” he asked after a few seconds, an ear-to-ear grin on his mouth. “Children have more power over most parents than said parents try to pretend didn’t exist. Hera alone knows even Cardassian parents show such love for their children — perhaps their one redeeming quality.”
A moment passed before the gunnery sergeant looked at his PADD, sighed and muttered, “Well, so much for four hours of arms inventory,” and deleted the entire content. He stood and walked over to the lift’s control panel and studied it carefully.
“You should really get to know at least a few of the children, sir, especially the teens,” he murmured. “You’d be surprised what insight they could provide … and it wouldn’t hurt as they may become the replacement crew we will desperately need as we stagger toward the Delta Quadrant.”
He poked the panel and it beeped, albeit faintly. “Permission to tear this control panel apart and attempt to gerry-rig a workaround for a possible beam-out signal? Gods alone know that a skipper shouldn’t be out of touch with her ship for long, or the hijinx will ensue.” He frowned slightly. “Or my Marines for that matter.” The latter generated a serious concern across his face. He didn’t have much confidence in his new second to control the Marines in his squad. Gods alone knew he would have loved to have one of the Tenatha sisters to assume that role.
This one was on his way to admiral, Cecilia reflected, given the amount of unasked-for advice he offered. She didn't comment on that part, however. She'd begun mentally calculating what sort of animal would get her out of the lift the quickest, but she figured she'd let him have a try. She smirked slightly. "Permission granted," she drawled before looking at the seams to the emergency exit in the ceiling again.
The gunnery sergeant immediately got to work and within a few minutes had his PADD gerry-rigged to the door panel. Next came his comm badge, to provide some access to internal communications. It was far from a seamless setup but Jasen Calin was not for being clean when he improvised in the field.
The PADD's display flickered slightly — and he swore silently, looked at the captain and saw her looking toward the roof. "I'd advise against that, Captain," he said, holding up the PADD as it spit out data points. "There's exposed relays up there pumping out so much juice you'd be roasted no matter what form you shift into."
"Earthers, always looking the easy fucking way out," he muttered under his breath. The PADD flickered and lost connection for a few seconds, and he smacked the wall next to the panel. "Work, you bucket of bolts, or I'll ..."
The PADD lit back up and Jasen began inputing a sequence of commands ... and frowned. "Good news, we can cut through the interference and establish a crude site-to-site transport to engineering or the bridge," he muttered. "Bad news, there's enough power to just do it for one person. Beaming both of us at the same time would be ... messy, and a second signal would likely scatter."
The PADD beeped ... " ... and there's fucking secondary plasma relay located 10 feet below us, about five minutes from bursting if this is correct. So whenever you're ready, sir ..."
Cecilia was immediately pissed off by his assumptions and planetary racism, but now was not the time. "It's risky but I can take on forms small enough to fit in your hand. It won't take more power to beam you with a mouse than just you, and it gets us both out of here quickly. With only a minor chance of us becoming one creature." She may have developed an instant dislike for him, but he was a member of her crew and she was the captain. She took care of her people first and foremost. "So, if you'd be so kind as to put out your hand, we have less than five minutes, I'm the captain, I order you to shut your mouth and beam us to engineering."
Jasen cocked his head at the Captain before shrugging. There was a fleeting look in his eye, as if he would simply disobey a direct order and send her on her merry way rather than risk both their lives, but it was gone.
"Yes, sir, 20-second sequence set before beam out," he said as he tapped the PADD. "And on the off chance this doesn't work and we both end up inside out on the engineering deck — it's been an interesting honor serving under your command, Captain. And apologies about the quick way out comment. Didn't want my skipper roasted ... especially when one already lost one other great captain in their lives ..."
He didn't say another word, merely waited for the Captain to transform into whatever small form she wanted and quickly scooped her up seconds before the transporter beam enveloped the pair.
=/\= Main Engineering...
Several seconds later, a man holding a flying squirrel appeared in the corridor. The instant their bodies and brains were properly reformed, the squirrel was leaping off his head and flying (as the name would suggest) to the floor. Still in small form, she turned and let out several high-pitched chirpings that somehow still sounded suspiciously like foul language--if adorably packaged.
Jasen blinked for but a few seconds as the captain’s small form floated to the engineering deck. The gunnery sergeant fought back a smirk of humor at the series of chirps coming from the rodent.
All the while, the engineers surrounding them were a bit surprised by the sudden appearance of a Marine and a squirrel. “Captain on deck,” Jasen said simply as he saluted. “You know the one stuck in the turbolift … “
While the surrounding crew members suddenly stiffened at the realization, Jasen slowly began shifting toward the door. “Well, with your permission, sir, I’ve got a report to recompile.” He already halfway to the exit leading to some corridor. If he was fortunate, maybe he wouldn't have to figure out who those sharp squeaks were meant for.