They're Not Rats...
Posted on Thursday October 17th, 2019 @ 6:13pm by Captain Cayne Morrigan & Lieutenant Carmina Barbossa & Lieutenant Mavet & Lieutenant Junior Grade Jordan Emerson MD & Civilian . & Ensign Murray Campbell-Mckay & Lieutenant Katherine Briggen & Lieutenant Maerynn
Oh Where, Oh Where, Has My Everything Gone?
The miners called them Phuques. Which sounded suspiciously like "fuck yous", mostly because that's what you yelled when they chewed through your pipes and wires and stole your favorite shoes. They were an interesting species, not that anyone studied them, most were too busy yelling about all the problems they caused. They were indeed a rodent, but they were neither a ferret nor a rat. Instead, they were a combination of both in a lot of ways, at least they possessed the worst habits of both. They stole everything they could carry and stashed it, no one really knew for what purpose, but that was what happened. Miners would find stashes of all their missing items, buried in denlike holes in the mines. On the station, they didn't have to dig holes, not for lack of trying, but holes only led the deck below and not to nice little stash spots for random items. They also liked to chew and chewed everything. Their teeth were strong and they could successfully chew through most things. Most things included wires, hoses, bulkheads, food synthesizers and whatever else might be standing in the way. As annoying as they were, they were also super cute and came in a wide variety of crazy colors. They were long and lean like a ferret, but had large round eyes as well as large round ears and had short, but extremely soft fur.
When Lieutenant Mavet had opened the escape pod doors, about 12 of them had run out all around him, making chittering sounds like they were complaining that he had interrupted their meeting. They scattered from the escape pod and into the room behind the Gelly, disappearing almost as quickly as they had appeared.
"Mavet to Captain Morrigan," came the Gelatin's voice through the comms from a comscanner whose location on Mavet's person was best left to the imagination. "There are rats in the escape pods! What in the actual fuck?!"
"Rats??" Cayne responded. "No one told me about rats!! Why do we have freaking rats? Did you know we had rats?"
"Rats?" Phelan, who had been preparing to walk away, asked as he stopped and turned back to the captain. "I don't remember a rat ever stealing a tablet before though..." he said in a sort of thoughtful tone.
Namira brought up data from the computer and frowned. "They're not rats," she said. "But they look similar. Like a cross-breed between a rodent and a type of marten, called a ferret, if we're going by human standards." She frowned some more. "Someone is in need of a biology lesson, they're citing ferrets as an example of rodents."
"You're correct," the doctor inserted, "they are in the weasel family or mustelids. So I'm not sure how two different species could have created a third. This definitely needs more investigation."
"Yes, that's the term I was looking for, thank you", Namira said. "But I think all we're seeing is similarities, I'm sure they evolved quite separately from what there is on Earth."
Phelan frowned, but it was Maerynn who spoke, having come to see what was going on in her hangar bay. "Don't ferrets steal things though?" she asked of the group in general. "If so, then they are displaying similar traits to both of their 'parent' species."
"Baaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!" Mavet came waddling back toward them in a hurry with clumps of fur stuck all over his gooey mass. "The fuckers started licking me!"
"I thought you enjoyed that," Namira teased.
"Not all at once, I don't!" Mavet retorted. "I have to be finessed!" He paused a moment. "Wait, was that an offer for... later?"
"No, I hate getting my tongue all hairy like that," Namira laughed.
"Yeah, no shit!" Mavet shimmied like a dog, though instead of shaking off water, he sent up clumps of matted fur. "Now somebody quickly think of a plan to get rid of these pests. There's no way the Krill are going to take this station away from us if it's infested with space rats."
"It's almost as though we need a large amoeba type life form that can morph into tight spaces, around them, digest them and clear places out like that," Namira mused. "Now, I wonder where we could find one."
Ripples went through Mavet's body as he shuddered. "We have a saying: you are what you eat." His mouth shifted to a diagonal slit as he pondered something. "Though we don't technically ingest things, so I don't know where that saying came from."
"So what are we going to do about the space rats?" Cayne asked. "And how the hells did they get on the station?" He was looking over Namira's shoulder at the computer terminal she was at. "Is that one?" He pointed at the screen and an image of the animal in question. "It's really freaking cute. Cuter than a ferret or a rat. Definitely cuter than a rat, but why are they on my station."
Maerynn and Phelan exchanged glances, and Maerynn moved to stand beside the captain and Namira. She looked at the picture as well. "There might be a way to find out at least something about them," she mused aloud. Her eyes came up to lock onto the captain. "I could become one... try to anyway. Of course, it would work better if we had one I could use as a model or a three-d version in the simulator even. But if I can become it, I can get a sense of them."
Cayne looked at Maerynn and rubbed his hands together, looking unsure, his eyebrows raised. "I'm not sure I want to understand them... what I want is them off my station, but if understanding them achieves this goal then by all means, please."
Lieutenant Barbossa added her two cents. "Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril," the Executive Officer said quoting Sun Tzu. "I never thought I would be whipping that quote out and applying it to a rodent infestation," she added.
The young Security Chief who had already been on top of the situation chimed in. He groaned, "Aye, I though' it was a wee incident at first," reported Murray. "Sorry for not reportin' it. I did not want to bother either of you with a rodent problem, but it clearly is larger than just a deck or two."
Carmina Barbossa shot the ensign a disappointed look. "Ensign, whenever there is a problem on this station, I expect it to be reported. I don't care how small you deem it. Now, have you done anything to take countermeasures?"
"Aye," he said with a swift nod. "Ultrasonic emissions. I've been workin' specifically with Ensign Vonn. Workin' theory is we can smoke these rodents out with the emissions."
Cayne grinned. "Excellent! That sounds promising. Although, what are we going to do with them once you've rounded them up?"
Maerynn listened. She had been about to tell Captain Cayne that understanding any creature gives you valuable insight that might indeed help you get what you want from said creature, but they moved on. The Engineer had a plan in motion, so there was no need for her to do as she had suggested. So she said nothing just then and listened to hear the Engineer's response to that.
Kat had been quiet and listened to the ideas tossed around before she spoke. "Do you ever think about tryin' to communicate with the poor darlin' thin'? You know, maybe we be needn' to tryn' find them a new home. Back on the farm, I had many pets includin' rats, ferrets, weasels, and once they trustin' me, they followed me from the farm to a new home. Why cana we do that? Maybe being a species we know nothin' about, what you plannin' on doin' might just make them agitated and necome vicious. Let Maerynn try to change and communicate that they can trust me to find a new home. They just wantin' to live in peace and we bein' disturbin them", Kat finished.
"That's an excellent idea," Jordan replied, sitting up a little straighter as he turned towards Kat, "I don't want to kill the little things if we don't have to. But how do you propose to carry out your plan?"
Mavet formed a hand from his blobby mass and raised it. "What if we smoke out their nest? They'll wanna move then. It would just be a matter of directing them to the right place...like the Krill ship."
Kat almost left her seat when Mavet said to smoke them out. "Mavet!!!! We don't want to axphyxaite them. Just communicate wit them. It be seemin' to me that we bein' the trespassers here and we bein' obligated to find them a new home. You remember the story of the Pied Piper, weel herin' be the answer. Maerynn transform to one of them an' talkin' wit them. They be trustin' her and me and we bein' takin' them from hete in a ship to their new home. That bein' all they wantin, a new home", Kat said.
"When you send them back to the planet, please set them down somewhere far away from my dig site," Namira requested.
"Like the Krill ship," Mavet repeated.
"Mavet, they're not Tribbles and her name's not Scotty," Namira remarked.
"That would be great if they all went to the Krill, but I don't think we're going to con them into floating over there," Cayne added. "I'm also not sure the miners or the planet are going to want them back. I'm pretty sure if someone brought me a box of rats I wouldn't want to make them my pets. I will check with the planet, however, let's be prepared to kill them."
Maerynn frowned. Cayne was right. And if there was nowhere to send them, then killing them might be the only option, and that actually saddened her just a bit. It also meant that 'getting to understand them' was a bit moot at this point. Unless Briggen had a better idea. She hoped the woman did, actually.
"I mean..." Cayne was looking around at the people surrounding him. "If you can talk to them and want to, then by all means, please do. Just keep in mind that they might be slotted for extermination... so just don't get too attached. Try all the ideas. I'm even up for trying to float them to the Krill. Sonic waves, poison, traps, shapeshifting, spacewalking... Set them on fire! Just get them off my damn station!"
"Captain, they're a lifeform, they didn't ask to be here and they've got the same right to live as you and I," Namira said. "You cannot possibly consider exterminating them. We must take them back to where they belong."
"I don't care where they go, but they can't stay here!" Mavet insisted. "One won't stop licking me." He started oozing in a circle around the group in flight from a pursuing rat.
Maerynn had been listening silently. When Mavet started oozing around, she looked to see what was chasing him. A smile slid over her face as she reached out. As the rat-thing ran past her, her hand closed on it, morphing as it did into a metal vice. She did not close it hard, only enough to prevent the thing from escaping. Metal was so that it would have hell biting her. But doing this put her in physical contact with the creature, which meant that she had sampled its DNA. "Now what to do with you, little guy..." she muttered, looking at the rat-thing which had decided to try to gnaw its way out of the vice.
Its teeth were strong, amazingly resilient against the metal. It wasn't making much headway, but it also wasn't breaking its teeth. It did look sort of like a ferret, its ears were bigger and its tail more ratlike and naked. Its eyes were also larger than a ferret's, obviously made for seeing in dark places. It was also a little woollier than a ferret. This one in particular had fur sticking out all over the place and currently looked a little crazy as it fought against the metal vice.
Cayne jumped in surprise. "Okay... so not a ferret or a rat... What the hell is that thing?"
Murray 'coughed' his way back into the conversation with a not so subtle, "Fuckin' ugly bastard' to which some of the attention was back on him. "If ya wanna try talkin' to Algernon or whatever, that's your business," said the young Security Chief. "I need help from Medical an' Science. We can contain these things, but corralin' an' catchin' these things are different. I need a knock out gas to disperse via a closed-off ventilation shaft into wherever we corral these things. We can pick 'em up an' pack 'em up from there. Personally, I thought we could just relocate 'em."
Maerynn turned her amber eyes to Murray. "Helping you gather them was part of the point of talking to them," she pointed out. "But first, I need to be one of them... to talk to them. To understand what drives them, and therefore what we can use to attract them harmlessly to wherever it is you want to gather them." It seemed very simple to her, but she could understand why the Security Chief had such an issue. These things were causing trouble, and it was Murray's job to stop it as quickly and efficiently as possible, which was what Maerynn was trying to help him do.
"Do all of these things!" Cayne said in frustration. "I will see if the planet wants their rats back." He headed for his office on one of the other asteroids.
Maerynn nodded even as she began the shift. She shifted everything else, leaving the hand she held the thing in for last, releasing it as she shifted that hand into a paw. They only difference between her and the other thing now was that her eyes were, oddly, still amber. Experimentally, she greeted the other creature, the sounds coming to her awareness as if they had always belonged to her. And yet, she was not one of these beings; she had to remember that at some level or she could get stuck in this form.
Kat watched Mareynn intently. "Talk wit them. Let them be knowin' you and me wantin' to help move them to a new place to be livin' in peace. A place were no one gonna be hurtin' them any more," Kat said.
"Oh please." Mavet let out a loud blast of raspberry blowing. "Like they'd understand all that. Just tell them there's a bunch of horny rats and a mountain of heroin wherever it is you want them to go. Don't over-complicate things."
Maerynn registered both people's statements, but she chose to ignore Mavet's as not appropriate to these creatures. They weren't looking to mate or get high at the moment, so his suggestion was irrelevant and wouldn't serve the crew. Kat's, on the other hand, just might. The problem was that, while they were smart, they were easily distracted by the next shiny bit of anything they saw.
After several long minutes, though, she felt that she had gotten her message across to the one near her. It chitter-squeaked an affirmation and a promise to tell the others. She hoped that it would actually remember the message long enough to pass it on, but what more could she do really?
She chitter-squeaked that this was acceptable, and the other scurried off quickly. She then shifted back to her normally-used form and sighed. "Well, I think that one understood," she said, "and he said he'd tell the others. I just hope he remembers long enough to carry the message. They're kind of... ADHD in the sense that they're easily distracted. So I'm not sure how much good this did, but he said that when we know where we want them to go, I should tell them."