Pied Piper of Forty-Two
Posted on Monday December 30th, 2019 @ 3:16am by Captain Cayne Morrigan & Captain Maximus Mackenzie & Lieutenant Carmina Barbossa & Lieutenant Mavet & Lieutenant Gypsy Sage & Lieutenant Junior Grade Jordan Emerson MD & Civilian . & Ensign Murray Campbell-Mckay & Lieutenant Katherine Briggen & Lieutenant Maerynn
Oh Where, Oh Where, Has My Everything Gone?
Captain Cayne Morrigan stood in shuttle bay two, on deck three of Vorl and waited for his crew chiefs and whatever else staff was going to help with the rounding up of the Phuques. He wasn't exactly sure what the plan was to get them all to where they needed to go, but he definitely wanted to watch. The station had been fortunate that a group of Horbalak traders had agreed to take their entire population of Phuques. It was especially good when the planet had refused, under any circumstances, to take even a few of them.
The Horbalaks wanted their Phuques for reasons that Cayne wasn't totally sure that his crew wanted to know, but he was certain that they were going to ask anyway. Unfortunately, the Horbalak's had some very unsavory ideas about the contents of aphrodisiacs. At least he could assure his crew that the Phuques would be well cared for. The Horbalaks had actually approached the captain about their infestation and Cayne was more than happy to oblige them. The traders quickly provided the station with cargo boxes that would accommodate the numbers comfortably.
Horbalaks weren't known for being the nicest or the most polite of people, but Cayne was on his best behavior. The captain of the Horbalak ship was called Puk and he was potentially the ugliest and smelliest Horbalak that Cayne had ever met. Captain Puk kicked a member of his crew down the ramp of his ship and yelled. "Get them crates out there and plan to switch 'em as soon as they're full! We don't know how many they got! Work faster!"
Fortunately for Maerynn, she was somewhere else. Currently, she was shaped into the Phuque again. She had scurried to where they were gathering and told them to come, that she would show them where to gather. Some followed immediately, but some were a bit more... resistant. So she had told the first group where to go and was in the process of trying to convince the stragglers that this was good, that they would have a new home.
"If you would kindly calm your tits," Mavet said to Puk, inserting himself between the Horbalak captain and the dock workers, "I can assure you that our fine staff of specialists will see the crates loaded and transferred just as fast as possible."
The Horbalak captain laughed. It was a rather disturbing sound and consisted of a lot of snorting. "I like you, squishy. We know Phuques, but you can fill crates." Puk grinned, if that's what it could be called, his teeth were rotten and broken and his breath was hideous.
"And you can go die in a fire," Mavet muttered. More loudly, and with his cordial tone, he said, "If you'll come right this way, Captain Puk, I'm sure we can scrounge up some refreshments and something shiny to stare at while the crew wrangles the last of the little vermin."
Kat glared at Mavet after he said that but stayed quiet.
Captain Puk snorted again, blowing snot out his nose and then rubbing that with the back of one hand, then wiping that hand on his shirt. "Refreshments? Some drink maybe? Long trips make people thirsty." He stared around at his people, his eyes narrowing. "Yes, can handle."
Captain Morrigan, from across the room, noticed Lieutenant Mavet talking to the captain of the Horbalak. For a moment, he couldn't breathe as he worried about what the loud-mouthed Gelly would say to their "guest". He tried to decide how to get across the room by the shortest path and potentially stop an incident. Although, he swore the Horbalak captain was laughing.
Jordon wasn't sure whether to feel amused or disgusted by what was going on around him. For the moment, he settled for just being an observer. He leaned against a bulkhead and let his eyes wander.
Cayne pointed at finger at Dr. Emerson on his way to Mavet. "Observe, I just want you here in case anyone gets bit."
Gypsy showed up a bit late to the party. She saw Cayne and headed that way. "So, I wasn't too sure what this was about, but here and ready to help."
Cayne smiled tensely at the counselor as she fell into step next to him. "Stick with me, Lieutenant. You're here for observation only." He was the most concerned with the conversation that could potentially be going on and came to a stop near Lieutenant Mavet and the Horbalak captain.
"You're just in time to partake of some drinks with our guest," Mavet said to Gypsy. "Captain Puk is direly thirsty."
"Drinks?" Cayne questioned, his gaze on Lieutenant Mavet, one eyebrow up in alarm.
"Jumpin' gee hosaphat! Dinna be spittin' on me deck ye hear you filth," Kat barked, just in time to see the snot go flying and walking to the captain's side. "Sorry me bein' late, Sir," she added.
Captain Puk snorted at Kat's comment and then belched loudly.
Captain Morrigan blinked at the Horbalak and then shifted his gaze to Kat. He took a deep breath. "Help them crate these rats, Lieutenant Briggen. Lieutenant Mavet is going to escort our guest to a drinking establishment..." His eyes shifted momentarily to Mavet. "One of the better ones... Security and Lieutenant Maerynn should be here soon... with the rats."
Namira walked up to the captain and asked, "Do we know what the Horbalak want the animals for? I don't mean to be culturally insensitive, but they don't strike me as the most trustworthy people. It wouldn't be right to place the animals into a situation where they could be harmed."
Gypsy felt a bit confused. She turned to Namira. "What do you mean?" She hoped the woman would shed more light on what was going on.
"I mean, I wouldn't put it past them to kill the lot of them, or use them for lab experiments. Unethical stuff, something we mustn't be involved with, and definitely something we mustn't aid by sending those trusting creatures, who at this very moment are being told they'll be safe where we take them by Maerynn, to their potential doom. I say we must make sure first."
"Okay, the more I hear about this the more I worry." Gypsy hated to think that what Namira said was true.
Cayne shook his head. "No no... Believe me, I was leery too. I know they have a reputation for being rather rude and are even unwelcome in some places because they're distasteful, but I assure you that this is not the case. They actually want the animals... and will care for them as well." He leaned over closer to Namira and spoke in low tones. "So they apparently use the Phuques' urine for some sort of aphrodisiac. I actually spoke to the owner of the farm where these will be going. It's disgusting, but they're all I could find since the planet won't take them back."
"I've seen some 'farms' that look more like concentration camps, Captain," Namira grumbled.
Gypsy sighed. "I should probably do an assessment of the farm owner too. I want to make sure they will be treated right."
"What the fuck are you guys waiting for?!" Mavet had wriggled away from drinks with Captain Puk long enough to poke his head back into the bay. "I can't distract this guy forever, and he's no good to us shit-faced drunk. Move it along already!"
Gypsy studied Mavet. "You and I have to have a talk after this. We're moving as quickly as we can. Don't get your jelly liquefied."
Cayne leveled a look at the group around him. "I don't want to hear any more bullshit about these rats. I don't care where they go, the planet they came from wants them exterminated... so it's Horbalaks or death. Final order. You don't like it..." he pointed around at the lot of them. "Then get off my station... I will not have rodents tear my station down around me because we're sensitive. You got me?"
Gypsy sighed. "Understood."
"That is how much your word can be trusted, then?" Namira asked. "I shall keep that in mind. Perhaps it is better if I conduct the archaeological expedition without the mantle of this fleet commission?"
Maerynn was completely unaware of the conversation which had preceded her coming into the bay. All she knew was that the captain looked angry, Namira looked disgusted, and the other lady looked... well, she wasn't sure what that look was.
Behind her, a group of the Phuques entered the bay. Maerynn skittered aside as one of the Horbalaks reached for her, shifting to her normally-used form as she did so to prevent herself being put in one of those crates by mistake. She did not pay much mind to the Horbalak who was now gathering up her furry charges as she moved to the group. "Did I miss something?" she asked, looking from one to the other questioningly.
"It looks like our Captain here," Namira started, putting obvious disdain into the accentuation of the word 'captain'. "Is about to sell the phuques into industrialized agriculture, a fate worse than death."
Mavet rippled with a sudden thought. "Worse than death, you say? Then death is preferable to our little commercial solution to a very big problem. Very well, then."
He slithered over to the airlock and raised a pseudo-appendage over the release. "According to Lieutenant Twisted Panties over there, it is more ethical for me to depressurize this shuttle bay than it is to hand the Phuques over to someone who will care for them in the process of messing with their urine. Worse than death, she says. If that's true..." Mavet activated the airlock and its subsequent depressurization sequence. He had to shout over the warning klaxon and rush of ventilating air. "... THEN DON'T TURN IT OFF!"
The Gelatin's facade-for-a-face challenged someone to make a move. "BUT IF YOU TURN IT OFF, THEN LOAD THOSE CRATES AND BE DONE WITH IT!"
Namira thought it over. She wasn't certain the deal was bad. It was, however, very likely that it was. She imagined tiny little cages the Phuques would be stuck in so as to efficiently harvest from them. She had seen installations like that. Factory farms, feedlots, concentration camps. "In my opinion, an investigation is needed, and we cannot afford to ignore our moral obligations based on expediency", she said. She made no move towards Mavet's airlock, deciding to call his bluff. She did not want this situation to escalate any further. Instead, she looked at Maerynn. "Can you warn them?"
Gypsy was fascinated with that comment. She turned to Maerynn. "You can communicate with them?" A plan was already forming in her mind.
Jordan stood there uncertain of what to do. He looked around the room, evaluating the situation.
Maerynn frowned. "I could, but I think it's too late. I will try though." She altered her vocal apparatus and chitter-squeaked the situation as well as she could to the creatures not yet in crates. They paused, chittering among themselves. A few of them broke and tried to run. She could do no more for them, though, so she did the only thing she could. Just in case that lunatic wasn't bluffing, she shifted, flowing over Namira and solidifying into the form of an EVA suit.
The temperature dropped as the shuttle bay continued to depressurize. Soon ears would start popping, followed by other orifices.
"MAKE MY DAY!" Mavet shouted in order to be heard over the rushing gusts of depressurizing air. He backed away from the airlock to allow somebody--anybody--to return the shuttle bay to normalcy and safety.
Cayne marched himself over to the airlock and returned all of the locks to their previous positions, cancelling the alarms. "Just cut it out! All of you! I didn't hear any other options offered!" He turned and looked at his crew, his face serious. "This is what we're doing! No one else would take them! If you don't like it, take it up with the Union! You don't have to watch." He'd had it with all of this complaining with no offered solutions and then more complaining when he made a decision. It seemed to him that all that was happening was complaining when these rodents were doing serious damage to the station. So much so, that their operations and engineering departments were having a hard time keeping up with them.
Maerynn flowed away from Namira, pooling on the floor for a second before fountaining up into her normally-used form. The captain was obviously angry, and she could understand to a degree. He had offered a solution that he saw as equitable to all and harmless to the creatures he wanted rid of. But Namira's objections, which he had labeled as complaining, but Maerynn did not see as that so much, were more based in ethics than personal preference. Maerynn could also see her side, but ultimately, the captain was in charge, and she was a Union officer, so she was bound to obey. The objections were noted and rejected, and now the decision was his. She sighed, wishing that she could have remained neutral in all of this somehow, but as the only one of them who could truly communicate with the little critters, she could not.
Shifting her vocal apparatus once more, she chitter-squeaked to the Phuques. She told them that while what she had said before was true, in as much as it was possible, it was not a guaranteed outcome. Okay, she told them in a much simpler way than that, but the idea was the same. She told them that, given what the Horbalaks wanted them for, it was also just as likely that they would be treated well. Of course, she knew the reputation of the Horbalaks, but the Phuques didn't. And Cayne was right about one thing. They couldn't stay here; they were pretty much tearing the station apart. So she was encouraging them to go whether she ethically agreed or not.
As the creatures returned to the loading area -- none had actually gotten out of the bay -- she realigned her vocal apparatus once more and spoke to Captain Morrigan. "I'm sorry, Captain. I can see both sides of this, but I have told them to go as you ordered." She wanted him to know that she respected the chain of command enough to do as he ordered but that in the ethical argument, she preferred to remain neutral and keep her own feelings on the matter to herself, at least for now.
Cayne took a deep breath. "Lieutenant Mavet... go back to drinking. Now." His gaze shifted to Maerynn. "Thank you, Lieutenant Maerynn. I do appreciate your cooperation. Believe me, I tried several places, including the one they came from and everyone wanted them exterminated."
"Yes, captain," Mavet said, taking the order quite seriously. "I'll see to it that Puk is suitably amenable without getting completely shit-faced."
Namira took off the her uniform jacket, which held her rank epaulets and the Union fleet symbol on her chest, and handed it to the Captain. "Definitely working this job as a civilian from now on. This is ridiculous."
Maerynn blinked at the other woman. She likely shouldn't have been surprised at that decision, and in truth it wasn't the decision itself that made her give Namira the stunned look. It was the method of carrying through on it. Oh, she wasn't judging, merely observing, but she was curious to see how Captain Morrigan would respond to it. For now, she kept her mouth shut.
Cayne nodded and took Namira's uniform. "You're not working this job at all. It's no longer your concern and civilians need to return to their quarters. I'll have new civilian quarters assigned to you."
A sharp whistle escaped Mavet's word hole. "Yeah, baby, take it off!"
Once more, Maerynn found herself blinking at Cayne's response. She likely should not have been surprised at it, but she was for some reason. But anything she might have thought or said regarding it was shattered by Mavet's disrespectful reaction. Why was he even still here? Wasn't he supposed to be keeping that Horbalak captain busy? She frowned at the Gelly but didn't say anything, choosing instead to turn her attention back to the captain. She didn't dare say anything, though with the mood he was in. She had done her part, and now what could she do? "Is there more you need of me, Captain?"
Cayne was angry and having a hard time getting it under control. His gaze went to Mavet. The tone of his voice was slow and controlled. "Mavet... get back to the bar. Don't make me tell you again. Maerynn, please make sure that all of these fuzzy assholes are off my ship... You got me?" His face was red and hot.
All around them the Horbalaks were closing the full cages and loading them slowly onto the ship.
Maerynn knew his anger was not directed at her, and so she only nodded. "Yes, sir." What else could she say? Ultimately, she had done what he'd asked and had told them to go into the crates. What more could she do really? Watch? "I'm not sure what else I can do, but I will do my best." She then went over to where the little critters were being crated up and chitter-squeaked at them, asking them if this was all of them. They told her it was, and she looked back at Cayne. "They say this is the last of them," she told the angry captain.
Cayne wiped his face. He was starting to calm down just a little. "Thank you. We're going to have to do something to keep them from getting back on the station. I'm sure they're coming up with the miners from the surface of the planet." He looked around. "Where the hell is Murray?" He knew he had called the Security Chief to the bay, but he hadn't seen him.
"Eh, don' get ye bollocks in a knot," replied the Security Chief walking in at the right moment to hear the Captain's comments. "Do ya know how damn confusin' the layout of this station is? Got turned righ' 'round I did. So, I'm a wee bit late," explained Murray.
Kat could not help but laugh when she heard Murry tell the captain to keep his britches on. It was a funny situation yet also a serious one as there were animals lives at stake here. "As long as they are taken care of let them go please. Let's get this done so I dan get back to work," Kat said now getting a bit peeved.
Gypsy went up to Cayne. She didn't like the idea of where the creatures were going but she knew that this was taking it's toll on Cayne. She walked up to him and pulled him aside gently. "Sir, how are you doing through all this?"
"Are lil rodent friends?" said Murray. "That's part of the reason why I got turned 'round in this hell hole," he added. "I was able to find a place for the lil wire chewin' bastards."
Cayne looked at Gypsy and then at his Security Chief. He took a deep breath and rubbed his face. "I'm going to live," he said to Gypsy. "Murray, do you think you could devise a way to keep them from getting on the station again?"
"Aye," he replied nodding. "With a wee lil' help from me science friends I do think so. I have another idea that might help keep them off the station or at the very least keep 'em away from crucial systems if they do en' up back on here."
"All of the above, please," was Cayne's only response. The Horbalaks were almost done with their task. All of the cages were now full, shut and being crated onto their ship. Cayne had to admit that it was a relief to be rid of the rodents. Hopefully, for good.
Standing there smiling, "Bye bye you little varmints havn' a wee ni' trip," Kat said waving.
"Well ye may not like the solution, Captain," commented Murray with caution. "It involves sprayin' the piss of the predator of these rodents 'round crucial areas of the station. It would definitely keep them at bay," added the Security Chief. "Wee problem, no pun intended. Seems like these predators are endangered which has lead to our rodent problem... over population."
Captain Cayne Morrigan turned slowly to look at his Chief of Security. Finally, someone that was motivated to offer solutions. All of his attention was suddenly focused on Murray. "All of what you just said made sense." His nose wrinkled a little. "If it has to be piss... it has to be piss, but I feel like there's more to this... go on." Cayne didn't mean to, but he even leaned towards Murray, hoping that there really was more and that piss wasn't all of the solution.
"Tell me that's just a one-time thing and not a regular treatment," Mavet said. "Otherwise I will throw my jelly ass into the nearest sun."
Cayne looked expectantly at Murray, waiting for an answer.
Kat's face changed. "I had a thought that might help. Why don't we neuter the males so they can't reproduce?" she said. "It would reduce the population drastically if the males were not able to reproduce."
Cayne stared at her, as the Horbalaks continued to load the crates onto their ship. "I am not wasting my time or resources in neutering some rats. If the Horbalaks want to do that they are free to." He looked around at the gathered group. There really wasn't much else for them to do. "Everyone's dismissed. We're done here."