Literary Challenge #10 : Replicator Rations
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Join Date: Dec 2007
01-15-2012, 08:07 AM
“I say we break into 'the pool'.”
“No,” Specialist Hauser didn't even hesitate.
“Think about it,” Ezeni continued, “there has to be enough there to at least make the rationing a little more bearable. We can distribute it evenly among the crew if it makes you feel better.”
The specialist didn't dignify the statement with a response.
“I'm sorry, 'pool'? Did I miss something?” asked Petty Officer Yonus, finally turning away from his console.
“No, you're just new,” Kasyd Ezeni quipped as the rest of the bridge shift crew chuckled. Their ship's primary operating hours were based on the 3rd shift clock, mimicking the prime hours of east asia on earth. The result was that this particular shift was the first of the night watches and comparative to the late night, despite being what would be considered by the rest of starfleet to be early morning. Like all the shifts the duty officers involved had grown accustomed to one another, and being a new transfer to both their ship and shift Trill Petty Officer Yonus naturally felt out of the loop quite often.
“Cut him some slack Kasyd, it's not like you weren't new once,” Evangeline Barthell called back from the conn, “Although, he probably could use someone else's guidance rather than yours. What was it you did during your first week again to put you on this shift? Something about running off to enter an unsanctioned combat arena?”Ezeni reached up and rubbed one of his antenna, the scar that marked where it had to be re-attached stuck out like a sore thumb.
“Alright, point taken,” he shrugged light-heartedly and then leaned up against his console to casually address the new-bee. “So, Yonus, you seem to be an observant fellow. Have met Security Chief Bovard yet?”
“I'm operations staff, so I haven't been introduced to her no...”
“But you've seen her?” asked Ezeni with a grin.
“W-well,” the image of the dark skinned and physically fit woman strutted through his mind. It absent-mindedly flicked the hair alongside her neck revealing the sleek tattoo while passing. “Y-yeah, I saw her,” Yonus tried to say without croaking. Ezeni chuckled knowingly and the rest of the crew was unaware of Evangeline rolling her eyes up at the conn.
“Tell us, how much do you know about Lt. Commander Mary Celeste Bovard?”
“I'm not sure I understand the question?”
“Despite what you think Ezeni, not everyone at the academy is taught obscure lore about former students.” Ernie Hauser added to the conversation as he typed away at his work, his VISOR never leaving it.
“I swear, what do they teach kids these days?”
“ 'These days'?“ came the voice of Ensign Terrok, a Cardiassian tractor beam specialist and the only member of their shift who was an actual bridge officer. “If I recall Kasyd you're less then a year out of the academy yourself?” Ernie, looking up from his work, was the one who finally chose to relieve Yonus's confused look.
“Lt. Commander Bovard has a bit of a history from her academy days that Kasyd apparently thinks everyone who goes to the academy knows.”
“Hey I heard it, that's all that's important to me.”
“Well then why don't you be kind and share?” Ezeni made a flat expression at the back of his shift compatriot, then again shrugged before he began to type at his own console.
As he did he spoke, “Well, as it turns out, the Lt. Commander was actually almost expelled from Starfleet Academy in her third year, for an incident that is rumored to be the sole reason why the Captain applied for her to be added to the crew.” This curiosity caught Yonus's attention. “The story goes that while out on a date in San Fran with a fellow cadet three men in a bar began to bother them. Witnesses say the two tried to ignore them until eventually one of the men went to strike her date. The subsequent conflict resulted in significant property damage and the urgent need to rush all three accosting gentlemen to emergency medical treatment.”
“It sounds like it was justified,” Yonus defended, “Like they had it coming to them. Why was she almost expelled for that?”
“Oh no, it wasn't that. She was almost expelled for what happened after.” He began to smirk again, “Apparently, after it was said and done, her date put his arm around her, leaned over to her ear and whispered something. After which she promptly broke his arm in two places.
is what she was almost expelled for.”
The new crewmen gave a surprised whistle.
“Yeah,” the storyteller bemused, “In the end the charges against her were dropped at the other cadets request, claiming that he 'probably deserved it'.” That said Ezeni stopped typing and leaned forward on his console. “It's also now said that like the ship, 'Mary Celeste' Bovard is cursed. And any man who rid-”
“Okay, that's enough of that,” Barthell interjected from up front, “unless of course you want me to turn on the ship's intercom?”
Ezeni just leaned closer and at a whisper gave the end of the sentence, “...
never seen again.
” He waved his fingers eerily just for the sake of it.
After a little time to allow for the snorts and snickers Yonus returned to his original inquiry, “So what's this have to do with that pool you mentioned?”
“Well,” Ernie Hauser answered, “Shortly after Ms. Bovard joined the crew someone decided to start a betting pool based on the concept of what it was the other cadet said to get his arm broken. For the cost of one replicator ration you can put your guess for the offending comment into the pool. If and when the answer is found out, the winner takes the pot of ration withdrawals. It will be split up evenly among the winners in the case of a tie.”
“That's it? It's a ration betting pool?”
“But isn't betting aboard a Federation Starship a violation of-”
“So then why are you doing it?”
“Because, we honestly want to know and it's pretty harmless. There is a good chance the Lt. Commander knows about the pool herself, but hasn't stopped it since it keeps the speculation off her back.”
“And the rumor and relative fear it provides is just enough to keep most of the male crew from giving her 'unwanted attention'.” Barthell added.
“If the captain wanted it stopped he would do so,” Ernie returned to the head of the conversation, “instead I'm just waiting for him to throw his own lot in.”
“My bet is he's waiting till he actually knows the answer,” Terrok added, “it sounds like something he'd do.”
“So it's more a ship's joke than a betting pool? Do people even participate?”
“We're up to 648.”
“This is a Long Range Science Vessel!? There is only a crew of 200!”
“Multiple entries. 'Johnny' Cutts down in medical has put in over 38 alone.”
“How long did you say this has been going on?”
“I hear since shortly after she joined the crew. About, a little over a year now,” Ezeni explained. “Ernie Hauser here is in charge of the pool. He inherited it when Ensign Smith...”
A silence drifted into the room at the mention of the name. Eventually Ezeni returned to the original topic in order to lift it.
“But yeah, I say we break into the pool in order to spread some of the rations around. That way some of us can have three meals a day instead of just two with the current rationing in place.”
“Kasyd, you know it doesn't work that way. The pool is just a tally of unclaimed withdrawals. With the energy supplies limited and the active replicator rationing in place by the captain even if one person had access to all 648 claims he couldn't actually collect more than two a day.”
“Not true! While you are right that you wouldn't be able to get all of the pool's worth of rations you would be able to get at some. Until the system rebalances itself at a starbase any new additions to the pool are in a state of 'energy limbo' with no one to claim them. Right Petty Officer?” All the eyes on the bridge fell on Yonus, who was indeed a system's engineer.
“It is pretty sound logic...” he shrugged.
“So! All that matters is if anyone has come to Ernie with any new ideas in the last week. Well?”
Specialist Hauser didn't look up from from his work, but he did stretch his neck uncomfortably, “12.”
“Ha ha! There we have it! It may not be enough to feed the whole crew but... it would be enough for two extra rations for everyone here listening in providing they stay quiet. Plus one extra as a finders fee for me and one for Ernie as gatekeeper.”
“Well that's a rather deceitful of you,” Evangeline quipped.
“Yeah, well I'm hungry, and I get a little testy when I'm hungry.” After this point, for some reason, everyone looked to Ensign Terrok as if being the one Bridge Officer among them he would be able to pass a final word of yay or nay. Instead all he provided them with was his continuing chuckle at Ezeni's emotional response to having an empty stomach.
“I wouldn't worry about it so much,” he eventually said to the silence, “Sure our communications are down and we're weeks away from repairs at a starbase while on impulse but isn't like we need to find a vast floating interstellar farmer's market to stock up at. All we need is a little energy and some matter to rearrange. Voyager did it for what, seven years, without breaking a sweat? Granted... they had warp.”
“Not to mention the Captain also sent his first officer and some others in one of the shuttles to get in contact with Starfleet,” the shift crew sighed at the recollection brought on by Ensign Barthell's memory. His own excitement curbed Kaysd Ezeni began to slump against his console. “We may not be able to talk to anything or go at warp but they can. I'm sure we'll be resupplied and have starfleet support within a week.”
“There you have it Kaysd,” Ernie said, finally smiling over at him, “Honor and integrity win the day. Besides, Christmas is more fun if you don't peak at your presents early.” Ezeni merely mumbled something about Andorian holidays.
“So, about the pool...” The rest of the crew stopped to stare at the Trill, Yonus just smirked. “I'm going to go with, 'You're going to have to show me that High-kick again later'.”
There was a mutual amount of nodding done by the rest of the group before someone said, “Good answer.”