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JL | CDR Valeese, LCDR Stacker | "O Good and Gentle People ..., Pt. 1"

Posted on Sun Dec 10th, 2017 @ 9:57pm by Commander James Stacker & Commander Valeese Stacker

Mission: The Round Table
Location: Location: Classified | Cold Station Theta
Timeline: The Present.

There were mysteries in the universe, some of them more public than others. What was the Tholian Assembly's role in the events of the 22nd century, involving a timeship from the 31st century? How many Federation crew had been assimilated at Wolf 359? Who had built the legendary Planet Killer first encountered in the 2260s, and were there more out there? Who had sent the Whale Probe to Earth in 2286? Was Zefram Cochrane still alive?

Then there were those the classified mysteries, such as the Unlabeled Locker. It was tucked away in a compartment in a decidedly low-traffic area, in an unobtrusive area of Cold Station Theta that lacked vital primary or secondary systems. There was nobody living aboard the station able to attest to its date of installation, as a power surge years after installation had erased and fragmented some maintenance records for a several-hour span of time. They had been reconstructed, of course, sans a one-line entry.

The activity which led to the appearance of the locker, as previously hinted at, had preceded arrival of the current senior officers of the station, to say nothing of its current construction and expansion. Yet what was important, now, was that James Stacker had become Keeper of the Unlabeled Locker. Or, as his predecessor would have said, "The Man Who Would Be King of the Locker." And so he stood here now, wondering if getting the station's chief medical officer involved was a good thing. The locker did need its physical: he hoped the Stenellis wouldn't find out about it in short order.

It was dark, more so shady, in the depths of that particular region of the station. At first she'd been suspicious of his reasoning for calling her down there - the memory of the Bajoran still high on her nerves and playing havoc with them. Still... It was Stacker. There wasn't a lot she was willing to deny him regardless of how strange the request, or location, happened to be. Stepping from the lift she steeled herself away and strode off in long, brisk strides. Her hair bounced loosely along her shoulders, and the only true sounds she could hear were the staccato echoes of her shoes hitting the deck plates beneath her. Nothing about this portion of the station was finished or particularly pretty. It was blank, a canvas wipes clean of any interest aside from the looming hulk of a man waiting for her as she rounded a bend in the corridor. The fact that he stood in front of a row of lockers made things never more weird for her - to the point that a single raven brow arched high as she greeted him, "Did someone get shoved in?" She asked, floating to rest beside him, her chin tipped up and head tilted to the side so that she could regard him with that cool, crisp demeanor that she reserved for medical shenanigans. Him being alone, sans a team, told her that she wouldn't be pulling some poor unfortunate freshman from hazing hell.

"No," he said, perhaps a little coolly but not in a mean-spirited way. This was Valeese, after all; the woman who had elicited his return to his humanity. The Vorta who had caused him to remember what it was to be human, not someone locked away behind armor plating because of the past. In fact the corner of his mouth quirked a little as he continued. "Two things. First, I hope you brought that medical tricorder. Second, what you're going to see is highly-classified by Starfleet Intelligence. Please don't make me have to report you for violating my trust." Please don't his eyes seemed to ask of her. That was not a step he wanted to have to take. Yet even as the eyes were making their silent plea, it didn't diminish the fact that there was an undeniable air of ... amusement, about him.

The pink of her tongue soothed the pout of her lower lip as she considered the request and the man who made it. The idea of violating his trust refused to cross her mind, but it did bring to light so many questions about what lay behind the odd haze gray colored vented door. Her eyes flicked towards it, only briefly, and she found herself nodding. She trusted him, but couldn't help feeling her suspicions rising on an inbound tide. "I brought the tri-corder. You said this was a medical issue." She affirmed, stuffing a hand into the pocket of the labcoat covering her duty tunic. When it returned, she gently shook the device to show him that she wasn't completely inept after all. "What's in the locker?"

He gave her no answer, instead bending over to focus on the security lock on the door. It took a moment to undo: not only had the last Keeper been fanatical about security for no good reason, but the Bolian had insisted on trusting in ancient security devices that were not well-maintained. It took several minutes, during which he worked in thankful silence, before it grudgingly relented and unlocked the last of the cylinders. Holding it in one hand, he turned to her and opened the door, swinging it aside and letting a chorus of voices erupt.

"James! He's back! All hail James! All hail James! Oh James can you see, by the dawn's early light -" the song began. The smile teasing his mouth turned slightly conspiratorial.

It was a hoard. A hoard of beadie eyed hamster looking creatures that stood upright and bi-pedal at a modest four inches tall. While their eyes blinked up at Stacker in adoration, Valeese peered down at them in wide eyed disbelief as she took in what appeared to be an entire city-like civilization of the little singing creatures dwelling within such a small space. Fake stars even hung in the sky, green like what one would expect to find in a teenage girl's bedroom. "A Prime Directive violation. That's what's in the locker." The Vorta felt her stomach lurch and the blood begin to drain away from her face and fingertips and all at once she was in motion with a quick pivot that almost sent her barreling into Stacker as she beat a hasty retreat back down the corridor, "No way. Nope. Not doing this. I can't be framed for this. So long and thanks for all the fish." She babbled, shaking her head and doing everything in her power not to break into a run.

"One moment," she heard from behind her, before his boots started pounding the deck plating. A moment later he was there, hand on her arm, fingers encircling it and pulling it back slightly. He was, even now, remarkably restrained in his handling of her. It was not terribly dissimilar from the way one might handle china in a fine-dining establishment. "Val, please. One moment and let me explain," he said as his other hand landed on her shoulder and his head dipped, eyes looking at her face. "No, it's not a Prime Directive violation. They're warp capable."

"They're warp capable." She repeated, incredulous, but allowed his touch to slow and stop her. She could have shrugged him off, demanded he leave her be, but the road that would have walked her down wasn't one she was ready to accept. Something in his eyes begged for her understanding and trust, promising that he'd never do anything that would hurt her, physically or otherwise, and she believed him. It took a minute, but her head finally nodded and her face tipped up to really look at him, "Ok. So... You have warp capable pets that you keep in a locker? Taught them songs of praise and worship?" She asked, realizing that her voice was threatening to tremble, "Help me understand if I'm wrong, James, because this..." She gestured back towards the locker with the tricorder still held in her hand, "Really doesn't look good."

"They're called the Anasaxi. Brilliant technical engineers with a nose for trouble. Starfleet Intelligence encountered them -
this group, at least - almost 50 years ago, after they'd blown up three asteroid mining colonies and most of a solar system testing a new weapon design," he explained, patiently and with confidence. "The design they were working on was actually performing far below expectations. If they'd perfected it - and they would have - it would've been enough to destroy most of a sector. Oh, and they were doing it for kicks."

"So... You trapped them in a locker and convinced them you were a God?" Valeese was incredulous. Her chin stuck out slightly as she spoke and both eyebrows raised as she thought about the implications of keeping dangerous hamsters in such a tiny cage. How the hell had they not been taken and set loose on the Borg? Was that considered biological warfare? How had the Founders not gotten their hands on them? Jesus Christ that was a blessing... Her mind spun wildly, but she tried to maintain that calm, cool exterior as they spoke, "And where do I come into the picture? I'm trying, James, I swear to you I'm trying, but you have a troop of homicidal maniac alien hamsters in a locker singing some messed up version of the Star Spangled Banner!" Her voice was a rough stage whisper, praying that no one else heard her.

His hands stroked from her shoulders, down her arms, as he reflected that she was taking it all rather well. He, by comparison, had just about deleted the file 'acquainting' him with the Anasaxi as he'd been convinced it was a joke. Until, that is, the prior Keeper had shown him the locker. Then it had suddenly not been a joke. His eyes rose back up to hers, seeing in the depths that she had been rather badly rocked. "Actually that was Starfleet Intelligence's doing. Rather than having them running around blowing up systems, they were trapped in the locker in exchange for - well, what we provide them is rather strange, and I'm not sure you need to know other than if you start detecting non-harmful biological fluids in the locker, that's normal. All I need you to do is scan the locker. You tell me if you're picking up the fluids, and if you're detecting any signs of communicable diseases or biological weapons. You don't even have to stick your hand inside."

If it hadn't been for his touch anchoring her to the spot and tethering her to him - or if he had been anyone other than who he was - she would have left. She should have kept on going when he tried to stop her, blown past his touch. "James," Valeese half whined, half sighed his name with a shake of her head, "You want me to..." The urge to all out gag as she got the hint was repressed by her squeezing her eyes shut and shaking her head. She was a doctor. She could do this. Didn't matter that they were weird creatures doing Christ only knew what in that locker. "No hands in the locker? Promise me? You hold the door open, I scan, we throw penicillin at them if they need it and we leave? No physical contact?" Her eyes blinked back open, flecked with lighter lilac as she fought the urge to crawl into a hole.

The sudden mental image of Val throwing a vial of penicillin into the locker and running away in terror popped into his mind, and he had to suppress the urge to laugh. As it was, the corners of his mouth were threatening to tug upwards into a full-blown ridiculous smile, and he had to cover it with a hand until he could get the urge under control. "Yes, no hands in the locker, and no physical contact," he conceded, voice sounding a little strained even as amusement clearly danced in his eyes. "Just the scan, and I'll hold the door open, and then we leave." Oh if only she knew what price Starfleet Intelligence had to pay to keep the little critters sated and under control. But he wasn't about to tell her - even though she'd clearly gotten a strong hint, judging by her reaction.

Her head bobbed again as her jaw set, begrudgingly accepting the task and taking a deep breath to settle herself. She was a doctor... It was becoming a mantra rolling over and over and over in her head. Regardless of how weird - and, or, disgusting - she was bound by an oath to make sure that every living being on the station received adequate medical care. That now included a pack of hamsters that liked to blow things up for fun. "You know... Back in Terran history there was a group of people that were locked off from the rest of the world by their leader. They, or at least the leader, liked to randomly launch missiles and various other things as well," She said, turning and making her way back towards the locker. She knew he'd be hot on her heels to keep up his end of the bargain and talking helped convince her that this was the right thing to do, "Only he thought he was part unicorn or something like that. I can't remember exactly. Kind of looked like these guys a bit..." The voice paused and her free hand disappeared back into one of her pockets, "Before you open that, I'm tying my hair up." There was that edge of weirded panic and she tucked the tri-corder between her knees just long enough to crudely gather her tresses into a quick and messy pony tail. "Now. Now you can open the locker."

It once again clicked open, even as he filed away the mention of a Terran who randomly launched missiles and other things at the world. "James! He's back! All hail James! All hail James! Oh James can you see, by the dawn's early light -" the song blared out, ten times as loud as before. The look of amusement on his face quickly disappeared, turning into something flat and not amused. His other hand swept up, the back of it horizontal to the floor, silently beckoning Valeese to the now-open locker as the Anasaxi started singing about the twilight's last gleaming. Which was going to lead to - "O merciful one! The tablet! The tablet! The tablet!" With a sigh, the hand dropped to the holster on his hip. A practiced finger switched it to active. Its twin rested in the back corner of the locker, behind three tall skyscrapers and a field shaded by some miniaturized trees.

=/\= To Be Continued =/\=

Commander Valeese
Chief Medical Officer

Lieutenant Commander James Stacker
Chief Intelligence Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170


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