And Then They Were Eaten By A Grue
Posted on August 29th, 2008 by Douglas McKnight and Persephone Busard
Doug McKnight and Persephone Busard
Gosh, do I ever love the smell of…mold and the droppings of alien vermin in the morning. thought McKnight with a sour grimace upon his face as, a couple of sensor beacons slung over his left shoulder and the flashlight mounted on his right wrist illuminating the gloom ahead, he advanced ever further into the cave system with his assigned partner. It could be argued, and indeed was by that unflappably calm and reasonable part of himself that mostly had a tendency to piss off the rest of him, that he should be thankful for this present assignment. After all, it WAS a chance to at least do something potentially useful while he was down here. Sadly, while he couldn’t deny that was an improvement, dwelling on it too much only seemed to highlight that this was shaping up to be one of THOSE missions. One of those missions where the security guy is brought down as a formality, more for the sake of having the complete set than anything else (Sort of like kids who keep going back to those fast food chains, he supposed. Even a child doesn’t bother entertaining the notion that they’re actually going to PLAY with that last cheap piece of plastic, but they’ve already gotten all the others, so why not?) and then everything unfolds accordingly.
“Alright, you’re the one with the map. How far down do we go before it’s time to drop one of these things? T’Kirr’s probably waiting by now. At her console. On the ship.”
For the most part, Busard agreed with the sentiments made clear by McKnight’s tone of voice, but she didn’t much feel that this was the time to fume. For one, this was because she was a bit busy swallowing the pill that they’d all potentially been exposed to a disease which was at the moment deemed incurable and terribly deadly. It wasn’t altogether a pleasant idea, but for the past five minutes or so she’d been distracting herself with the caves themselves between glances at the tricorder. Looking at it again, she frowned.
“Annoyance noted, sir. And it looks like we still have a hundred meters or so to the first dropoff point.”
Casting a glance over at the engineer which was most likely lost to the darkness, he frowned a bit in consideration. Splitting up the away team was one thing; he may not like it, but even if some of these people seemed off to him, he hardly had anything concrete to offer in that respect, and this WAS a Federation world. But containment procedures, the failure to observe even the most basic of which could actually get people killed, were another problem. Having already gone on record as essentially declaring that the present course of action went against his recommendation, it didn’t especially bother him who knew he was unhappy with the security chief being brought down so that all those ramblings about ship’s security could be subsequently ignored. Still, how he FELT was one thing. But gripes after the fact weren’t productive, especially gripes delivered down the chain of command, and so with a shrug, he just kept walking.
“Nothing a cold beer won’t fix, as soon as Carre can assure us this thing is under control. In the meantime, is that tricorder picking up anything useful? Anything that might be responsible for respiratory difficulties?”
Percy shook her head.
“Apart from the normal air pollutants, which aren’t enough to cause anything on the scale reported, and maybe the occasional alien bat guano, there is not a damned thing special about this cave.” She paused, pinching the bridge of her nose in frustration with an “Ugh” followed by a couple of breaths to settle herself before continuing on walking. Stress reduced the strength of one’s immune system, she recalled, and her immune system was going to need all it could if they had, in fact, been exposed. Controlled breaths, slow paced walking, it’d all help to some extent.
Not like it’ll make much of a difference.
She silenced that thought quickly, shifting her attention before sighing.
“And a beer sounds like a great idea.”
“I’ll buy.” See, it was funny, because you don’t pay for anything in the future.
“Oh good. Because, y’know, I’ve been really strapped for cash from using the replicators. Really.”
Percy managed to chuckle slightly.
“Oh well, free beer’s free beer. I’m in, but only if there’s pizza again too…and maybe some baseball.”
At that, McKnight looked over at her with a slight grin. There were, of course, a couple of ways one could interpret such a proposition as he’d just heard. Of those, of course, at least one required a frame of mind that simply didn’t form easily in a dank, guano smelling cave. Even so, it was an interesting proposition all the same, one which unwittingly answered a question he’d been asking himself for the past little while.
“Well, pizza isn’t normally what I consider ball park food. But you know, maybe there is a way to combine the three. I’ve been working with a few of my boys down in security on a little something. All pretty hush hush so far, but the cat’s gotta come out of the bag some time. Meet me for lunch down in Ten Forward, and I’ll tell you all about it.”
Percy quirked an intrigued eyebrow at him at that. There were a few ways one could intepret such a proposition as that, too, and she was trying to focus less on the cave, but even still that tone was probably not appropriate for the situation. So instead she simply returned the slight grin.
“If it’s so hush hush, what’s wrong with telling me all about it here? Unless you’re afraid the alien bats are going to tell on us.”
The answer, of course, was that baseball was one of those very distinct hobbies of his; that was to say, one that qualified as a real passion of his without having any connection whatsoever to his job. Moreover, it was also something of a dream of his. When people thought about their ideal retirement, some common fixtures tended to be building that dream house to grow up in, or maybe spending their days out at sea on a beautiful new sail boat. But McKnight rather liked his Tudor style house back on Earth, and he preferred the tranquility of lake fishing to the savage and unpredictable beauty of the open sea. What he HAD dreamed about doing from time to time once the time finally came to end his time with Star Fleet was to set up a baseball league. Nothing too big, of course. Maybe a nice Little League circuit, something to help the youngsters of New England rediscover a little bit of their heritage.
But now, it seemed, there was a real chance to give that dream a start, or at least a trial run, a little early. He already knew there were plenty of people aboard Atlantis who boasted at least a passing familiarity with the sport, and with the unexpected popularity of the Lost Harbor program, it seemed he had a perfect venue in which to unveil the concept. The problem, of course, was that it was something he was positively excited about. As such, he was rather reluctant to risk spoiling it by bringing it up amidst the backdrop of bat shit and fatal respiratory disease. Even so, he had to admit the engineer had a point. And it wasn’t as though they had a ton of non-dreary things to discuss down here.
“We’re putting a baseball team together. Ultimately, our hope is that every department will be able to scrounge up enough people to form one of their own, and we can have some honest to God live games.”
The intrigued expression softened to just a smile. Baseball…that’s something she could think about to make the cave seem a little less dank and horrible. If she focused, she could almost make some of the rocks along the walls look like dugouts. At the very least, it was something to keep her distracted from the smell.
“A baseball league, huh? Does this mean I’m going to have to start telling my engineers to start going to the gym? Because I don’t really see that going over too well…unless Carre backs me up on it.”
“Well, I certainly didn’t draft any of my boys. I’m assuming you should be able to find a FEW people eager to represent the engine room. At that point, there’s no better incentive than ego. Still, much as I might not LIKE to make the comparison, I’m well aware that early on, security’s likely to be the New York Yankees of Atlantis. Hell, I’m counting on it. Everyone on that ship is accustomed to excelling at what they put their minds to. Why should the challenge of teaching McKnight and his Leather Necks a little humility be any different?”
Percy couldn’t help but roll her eyes slightly at that, as she briefly thought something along the lines of Oh yes, and god forbid any of us should be in it just for the fun of playing. However, she wasn’t about to let something as small as that ruin the mood at the moment, especially as they were approaching their first drop-off point. So, with a slight shake of the head and the continuation of that smile, she conceded the point.
“Yes, well, I suppose for a while then I’ll just have to resign myself to the knowledge that I’ll be effectively coaching the Chicago Cubs to your Yankees. First beacon goes here.”
With a nod, McKnight set down his small collection of lightweight metal poles, leaning them against the nearby cave wall. Taking one of these, he set its base firmly upon the ground, then located the dial set into the pole just beneath the actual beacon at the top. Twisting this, he waited a moment for the soft mechanical hiss and the more pronounced THUNK as the trio of pitons built into the base speared outward into the alien rock, tethering the device. Satisfied that it was secure, it was only another moment’s work to activate the signal relay.
“Okay then. Let’s get a move on. The sooner we get out of here, the sooner we can get to planning our season in the open air.”
“Sounds good to me.”