Unofficial Literary Challenge #7: Prompt #1: Things Crew Members of the Jenova are No Longer Allowed to Do
Raking phaser beams across cold space, the Centaur-class U.S.S. Jenova finally blew a part of the Vaadwaur scout vessel Himotek's forward hull.
On the Jenova, Captain Iviok pointed at the view screen in utmost immediacy. "We've got them! Fire the tricobalt device!"
"We had one of those for the last two hours??" Gondi said in realization while simultaneously firing it.
The glowing shot slowly arched out into space's icy vacuum with more than enough of an opportunity to be snubbed out, until, once and for all, it detonated into the head of the Himotek's modified framework. The Himotek blew apart, sending debris flying out in all directions.
"Nice work, crew!" Iviok complimented, taking an exhausting seat in his chair.
Doyanis, the helmsmen, turned from his position. "Captain, permission to go to the bathroom? It seems like we've been working at that little scout heap all morning."
"Actually," Iviok checked his chair's chronometer, "It's passed lunch now." Then, strictly, the Andorian turned his attention to the crew. "You all know we have to work a little harder to take out enemy hulks. But we're a good ship. Yay us. Huzzah."
Gondi added: "We're a Tier 1 vessel."
"That's not an official rating system!" Iviok warned. "Those classifications were invented by tired, old, Irish noncoms!"
Later, Iviok entered the messhall, where crew were mostly in-and-out due to ship repairs being top priority. He noticed a nearby display blinking an engineering readout with the words: Do not tease the Humans.
"Iviok to Caveat." He tapped his commbadge. "A messhall screen is presenting an odd, but perhaps necessary report. How is an Andorian supposed to replicate redbat up in this place?"
The Chief Engineer replied over air: "Sorry, sir. I'm running an experimental reporting-nanite which predicts and takes into account all ship system issues. It's programmed to dictate precautions in layman's terms."
"So, teasing Humans is somehow detrimental to the Jenova?" Iviok questioned, confused. Just then, Sara entered the messhall and Iviok turned to her. "Walking through doors, huh? Typical Human. Haha."
Sara stopped, momentarily upset. "Sir, you know that's the only way I can get room-to-room!" She then ran out, crying.
"You....... you have weird exchanges with her," Doyanis squinted at Iviok, truthfully.
Just then, a nearby oxygen vent blew apart, spewing more oxygen into the messhall. Doyanis quickly put his food down and repaired it.
"Captain," Caveat's voice came through the comm, "Somehow, the messhall vent mechanisms are responding to specific sound frequencies. I'll have to investigate."
Iviok tapped his commbadge, "Understood. Iviok out." He then turned to his helmsmen. "Do you think the Jenova is a sagging old rust bucket, designed like a garbage scow?"
"I don't not think that."
At the end of the shift-day, Iviok returned to the messhall for dinner. He stopped in his tracks as he was about to walk passed the same display from earlier. On it: Don't eat meat.
"What? I'm the Captain! I can eat all the meat I want!" Iviok then went over to the replicator, in protest, and made himself a Starfleet-imitation Andorian krill-beast steak. After taking a hearty bite into it, Iviok was compulsed to spit it out in utter disgust. "Ugh! By the creepy giant eye balls of Aenar babies! That steak tasted like my regulation boot!"
Gondi paused with his tray of food, as he was about to walk by. "Are you referring to the time we were on Kobali lockdown under constant annoying Vaadwaur attack and we had nothing to eat but our footwear?"
"Of course!" Iviok slammed his useless tray onto a nearby table. He then went back to the replicator. "This means, no one on the ship can eat meat anymore. --Computer, make me a.... vithi salad. Ugh."
As soon as Iviok's salad was replicated, Gondi watched Iviok take it out and fork a cold bite.
"So... health....y..." the Captain yawped unconvincingly between chews. "Let me know when the display changes again." He left with a little less hope for the situation, more anxious than ever for a solution.
The next morning, Iviok was called into the messhall by Caveat to review the next message: Items used from only one corner at a time.
"What?" the Captain griped, confused. He and Caveat approached a corner of the messhall, only to be deflected by a force field. "Ugh!"
Caveat looked before them, "Dammit. I have specialized tools laid out in all corners of this room. Strange how evenly dispersed each of the access points are; almost conveniently inconvenient."
"Can we at least eat meat now?" Iviok asked.
Caveat nodded, "Just the poultry, so far. The tool I need for the rest is behind that force field. Furthermore, I discovered a piece of that Vaadwaur scout embedded into our hull. It transmitted an Iconian algorhythm into the Jenova's systems, effectively causing all these specified malfunctions."
"But there's meat we can eat now?" Iviok re-asked, just to make doubly sure.
Just then, the monitor nearby blinked a new rule: Only speak to people whose names start with an S.
"That's more ridiculous than the last rule," Iviok complained to Caveat in frustration-- only to be followed with a horrific feedback noise through the comms.
"Ugghh! What the hell was tha---?" But he was interrupted again by that awful noise.
"Sara," Caveat stopped the Lieutenant, just as she was walking by. "Please tell Captain Iviok that the Himotek's Iconian algorhythm is getting more aggressive."
The science officer turned to Iviok. "Sir, Caveat says the Iconians are responsible for everything that happens everywhere, which is less a surprise and more a redundancy now."
"Sara," Iviok sighed, "Please tell Caveat I'm not prepared to give up the Jenova to the Iconian-infused Vaadwaur hull fragments. The line must be drawn here: this far-- maybe a tiny bit further."
She then turned to Caveat, "The Captain says the Andorian equivalent of 'For Cardassia!'"
The floor is lava: The three turned, curiously, to see the next rule blink on-screen.
"Sara, what does that mean?" Iviok asked in shared confusion.
The Lieutenant looked at the message, unsure. "I think it means I wish we were back on Kobali Prime, eating boots."
Suddenly, the floor plating beneath them lit up in an over-heated blaze, while the gravity all over the ship disengaged and sent everyone floating into the air.
"Sara, I'm getting reports all over the ship of burned soles and flaming socks!" Gondi floated near a side-console, next to a table full of spawn beetle-infested oblissian cabbage.
Iviok's antennae twitched, "Why is my crew reporting that? Nevermind. --Sara, is Caveat able to purge the algorhythm from our systems?"
"Uh, how would I know? I'm not a telepath, nor have Caveat and I had any relations of any kind," Sara replied, sharing a quick feared-glance with the Chief Engineer.
Caveat then floated over to another force fielded corner, nodding. "Sara, I can purge our systems from here by amplifying this mini reverse-ratcheting routing planer into any data port. Only problem is, I can't get to it."
"Uggh! Am I seriously the only one who can talk to non-S's? Also, isn't Ensign Salisbury out of bed yet??"
Gondi floated over. "She transferred to the Phoenix-X last week. She said she couldn't handle another eight hour Argala patrol."
"Once! That happened only once!" Iviok interrupted in protest before suddenly being cut off by the interference--
"--Sara; I meant for that to be directed at Sara," Iviok back-tracked just moments before the next item blinked on screen.
Do not live.
The messhall crew floated in shock, reading it once more, just to make sure.
"Do not live?" Gondi repeated in Sara's general direction, only to be cut off by a sudden lack of life support.
Every floater in the room began having trouble breathing, including Captain Iviok: "Dammit to hell--! We need a new-- ship! The Jenova shouldn't be hauling garbage--- it should be hauled away as garbage--!"
He sufficatedly floated over to Caveat.
"Sara, the first message said-- to use items from one corner at a time-- If we're-- receiving limitations caused by the algorithm-- then we have to work with those limits--" Iviok took a short breath. "I want Caveat to use--- the tool sitting in the open corner-- on something."
The popular science officer scoffed, "Why does Caveat--- get to do all the fun things? --Rude."
"Would you guys-- stop-- taking-- up-- all-- the...... oxygen??" Gondi struggled, seconds before he and Sara passed out in a drooling, mid-float.
Caveat took the isolinear spanner from the open corner and sloppily adjusted the replicator into a mode where it began constantly producing nothing but meat. With floating meat slowly invading everyone's space, another corner opened up and Iviok grabbed the reverse-ratcheting routing planer.
"Maybe--- I'll get--- one of those--- canon-breaking-- intel ships---"
After amplifying its output and applying it to a data port, Iviok and Caveat found themselves losing consciousness in a sea of glorious meat. Moments later, they blacked out in steak heaven.
Later, Iviok, Caveat, Sara and Gondi all awoke in Sickbay, groggy, but bound by gravity and supported by a full atmosphere.
"I quickly grabbed a Benzite respiratory device when things got hazy," Doctor Rubens explained. "It did nothing to prevent me from having Seven of Nine hallucinations."
Everyone looked around in anticipation of a loud noise until finally falling their gaze upon Sara.
"Sara--" Iviok started--
But she slammed her palm against her biobed. "Enough! Enough of everyone talking through me! I am not dream-state Hoshi Sato!"
"I was just going to thank everyone systematically," Iviok offered, "And assure you all that we are going to purchase a new ship, just as soon as we spend a few months on Vlugta, dilithium mining. --Everyone this time; not just me with you all watching on the view screen."
Gondi glanced at everyone. "Captain, this is about us operating within our limits. After all the struggle we continuously put into this junk ship-- working Edward Jellico-level shifts-- just to keep us barely above water in a Tier 5-U/6 Quadrant, I think I speak for all of us when I say, the Jenova is our home-- as painful as it is to live here."
Iviok looked around to the others, who were all confirming with subtle, second-thought-prone nods. Doyanis then entered Sickbay just as everyone was finishing, him holding sole-less boots.
"Well, with barefoot footwear, I was able to feel my stepping on this one non-replicating nanite who must've ejected himself from the Jenova systems during your meat-filled purge. He's, uh... he's dead now."
Caveat grasped his face in terror, "Nannie-- Noooooooooo!"
"Sorry, Cav," Doyanis apologized while dropping the black-dot-looking nanite from his fingertip into Caveat's hand.
Caveat glanced over at Iviok, with sad, pleading eyes. "Torpedo case funeral...?"
"Ugh; fine." Iviok conceded, annoyed.