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Thanks! I Hate It

Posted on Aug 09, 2020 @ 2:27am by Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Aug 09, 2020 @ 2:27am

Mission: Dog Days Of Summer

“Thanks! I hate it.”

(cont. “The Boy, I”)

* * *=(/\)=* * *

Scene: Sickbay

“We’re going to have to shave your head for this,” Aerdan said, antennae twitching as he gestured at the neural mapper on the tray next to the biobed. The mapper was a silvery thing, that looked something like a sleek pasta strainer, or other kitchen implement, albeit with numerous twinkling lights over it.

“Good thing vanity ain’t one of my faults, then.” Kassandra eyed the instrument suspiciously. “What’s this for, anyhow?”

“Doctor Pauli’s team determined that your sensor nets currently output a lot more information than your brain needs or is able to process, so we’re going to monitor your brain and your sensor net outputs for twenty-four hours so we can see what information you actually use on a regular basis from your sensor net. Lie down on the biobed.”

Kassandra did as ordered, and waited as the Andorian activated the biobed’s stasis field. It was a very strange sensation, like when you’re half asleep and your muscles refuse to move. Fortunately, the field also had something which froze the nerves of your skin as well, so at least she wouldn’t have to deal with something itching when she couldn’t use it.

“You should be able to talk,” Aerdan said as he busied himself with the electronic depilator. “Feel free to chat, especially once I start drilling the holes for the probes.”

“Just in case you slip?” Kassandra said dryly. “Drillin’ holes is all so… Primitive, ain’t it?”

“Perhaps,” Aerdan admitted. “Several other alternatives have been debated for that exact reason. The most recent proposal was using transporter beams to dematerialize, and then re-materialize the neural mapper, however rematerializing the probes in bone made the transmittal of data less efficient, and more difficult to remove. They also suggested using a higher power scanning strength to penetrate the skull while still allowing for the resolution necessary for neural mapping, but that required several rounds of DNA repair treatments post- scanning. Given our ability to repair bone and skin efficiently and quickly, most neurologists prefer the drill method.”

“Right, holes in my head, instead of fusing stuff with my skull, or cancer. Got it. Do you at least do it with laser beams?” Kassandra grumbled.

“But of course. Alright, I’m finished mapping your brain to account for the processors for your sensor nets, and applying a pain blocking field. You may feel some heat, but it shouldn’t hurt, so let me know if it does. I’m going to shut down your sensor nets, if you don’t mind. Generally we try to avoid letting patients see us making incisions, and while I realize that you’re not squeamish-”

“You think it’s better I can’t see holes bein’ drilled in my skull,” Kassandra finished.

“Precisely. Also, I haven’t done this in a while.” Aerdan’s voice was deadpan.

“Was that a joke?” Kass narrowed her eyes. The doctor shrugged, but she fancied she picked up a brief smile as he turned off her nets. There was a few moments of silence, then the buzzing of the microlaser began. “So… Why’d you come back? Not in a smartarse sorta way, I mean. From what I understand you were at a pretty prestigious position, so what made you give it up?”

“Hm. That is a rather complicated and difficult question. Why do you ask?”

“They’re trynna give me a promotion, an’ move me to Sherman’s Planet to help run a garrison there,” Kassandra replied, wrinkling, or rather not wrinkling her nose due to the stasis field. “I’ve been ignorin’ it, hopin’ it’ll go away, but I’m gonna have to acknowledge it sometime, an’ I’ve never had a desk job with responsibilities. I wanna know if it’s somethin’ I could hack, and all that. You know, insight, an’ all that. Plus, you did say this was gonna take some time…”

* * *=(/\)=* * *

Scene: Kassandra’s office.

“Hey Boomer.” Kassandra leaned in towards her console screen as the man appeared on the screen. The older man raised his eyebrows in surprise as he took in who was on the other end of the line.

[[Hey, Tribble- er, Kass. Long time no see. To what do I owe this call?]] She thought he looked pretty much as she remembered him, although since she hadn’t ‘seen’ him in the 20 years since she’d had the sensor nets installed, she couldn’t be certain. She had the impression of the same wavy hair, thick brows, and flattened nose that she remembered, but who really knew.

“Irish said you were workin’ in personnel right now. I just got some marchin’ orders, an’, well I was wantin’ ta talk to someone about it,” Kassandra responded. “Lissen, I’m sure it was well intentioned, an’ I’m honored they think I’d be good helpin’ to lead an outpost an’ all, but shit, Boomer: Ain’t there somewhere other than Sherman’s Fuckin’ Planet? Gotta be a lot of other garrisons on other shithole planets that ain’t gonna involve me livin’ in the same planetary system as my ma.”

[[Ah, that.]] Boomer looked a bit uncomfortable. [[Listen Kass, can I be straight with you?]]

“Sure, though I got the distinct impression that ‘straight’ is like ‘with all due respect’ in that whatever you’re gonna say after that is gonna piss me off somethin’ fierce,” Kassandra said warily.

[[Listen, Kass. Personnel was told by the powers that be that you’ve been in your current position too long, and that we have to promote you. Problem is you’re a great squad leader, and a good fighter, but you lack, uh, subtlety, shall we say, and we would prefer not to waste your combat skills on a desk job since, and don’t bother denying it, we both know you do the bare minimum where personnel and reporting are concerned. So you’re a tough sell as a second in command.]]

“An how exactly does this less than glowin’ assessment lead into me bein’ offered Sherman’s Planet, instead of just bein’ left to run out the rest of my career on the Phoenix?”

[[Well, luckily for you and your stalled career Sherman’s Planet came with its own set of headaches, ones that the brass determined would be in your skillset. Plus, given the likelihood of action at that outpost, having someone who’s good at small unit tactics is a bonus.]]

“Oh yeah, and what headaches am I supposed to be solving?” Kassandra gritted her teeth. She already had a sneaking suspicion she knew the answer.

[[You know your people, they weren’t exactly overjoyed at the idea of having a bunch of government troops billeted on their planet, even though they were clamoring for protection after the Klingons pulled that grain heist last year. They stopped giving us trouble once they were told that we’d place you there as one of the top brass though; makes them feel as though you’ll keep the men in line and understand what the Shermanian’s need. Plus you know a lot of the people around Port Emily, or if you don’t know them directly, someone you know will, and you know the best ways to smooth over conflicts and make friends with the locals.]]

“Oh I see, I’m only in the runnin’ as the highest ranked Sherman’s Planet Marine,” Kassandra said with a little irritation. Boomer wasn’t wrong in his assessment of her dedication to paperwork and administrative tasks. “What happens if I say no?”

[[I can tell you’ve been on detachment way too long,]] Boomer was starting to look irritated. [[This isn’t like the Fleet, Kass. They’re not asking you if you want it, they’re telling you you have it. You don’t get to say no, and even if you were allowed to say no, it would be career suicide. They’d find a way to drum you out of the service. So just take the damn job and say thank you. It’s a pretty cush assignment, and you might see some action.]]

“If that’s the way things are: I quit.” The words were out of her mouth before she had time to think about them, surprising herself at least as much Boomer. “I’ll send the official paperwork over, but as of now, consider me off of active duty.”

[[Excuse me, Captain?]] Boomer sputtered, suddenly going formal. [[You can’t do that, you have a contract-]]

“Okay, Boomer,” Kass said with a sarcastic bite to her voice. If he was going to start being a stickler for rules, then she was fully capable of rules lawyering and quoting regulations with the best of them. “I believe you’ll find that after fifty I’m allowed to apply for release to the active reserves as long as I promise to keep myself in shape for a return to active duty for the remainder of my enlistment. Don’t worry, I’ll stick around until the new MCO arrives-”

[[There is no new MCO-]]

“What?” Kassandra frowned at him. That didn’t make any sense. Why would they be moving her without a replacement… Unless they were going to shut down her unit. Kassandra narrowed her eyes, but she was smart enough not to start asking questions. That was a rabbit hole of politics that she wasn’t going to fall down, and the more she thought about it, the more likely she was to start second guessing her choice. Kassandra was a firm believer in her gut instinct, and if her gut instinct said to get out, then that was what she should be doing. This stank of politicking and some sort of stitch up, and unemployment beat Sherman’s Planet anyway. “Make Harry the acting MCO then, and make McQueen his second. As you so gently pointed out earlier, ain’t like Harry ain’t been doin’ the bulk of the heavy liftin’ anyway. I have family on the Phoenix, I can probably stick around for a while to help him adjust, though I don’t think he’ll be needin’ much assistance.”

[[Captain Thytos this is-]]

“Rude? Unprofessional? So fire me. Bye Boomer. Nice catching up with you. You’ll have my paperwork soon as I finish filling it out.” Kassandra cut the connection, her brain feeling like it was about to short circuit. What the heck had she just done?

* * *=(/\)=* * *

Scene: Kane’s quarters.

Kane wasn’t precisely sure he was supposed to do with a child. Actually, he wasn’t really sure what he was supposed to be doing with so much ‘free’ time either. Normally he would have spent his evening going over reports, and generally catching up on the day-to-day of the Phoenix’s inner workings, but today, given his lack of a babysitter, and that Billy was too young to be left unsupervised, Kane had had to pick Billy up after school had ended, and was now in his quarters, trying to figure out how what to do with the boy. He’d settled on the old chestnut of the electronic babysitter- letting Billy choose a holofilm to watch on the generally unused screen in Kane’s livingroom once his homework was done.

There was a chime at his door. Kane frowned, and went to the door. It took him a moment to recognize Kassandra Thytos, her copper hair had been shaven off, and she was wearing a silver medical device over her head, and some sort of boxy recording device was connected to the port for her sensor nets’ processor. He waited for a moment, wondering why she was there, but she didn’t say anything. The moment grew awkward, then Kassandra gave an annoyed grunt and stepped to the side, firmly pushing a rather shy Buttercup Bellecotte to the forefront.

“Come on, Butterup. He ain’t gonna bite you.” Kassandra eyed the girl expectantly.

“Mister- Captain Kane,” Buttercup squeaked out nervously. “Can Billy come and play? Kass is going to teach me how to play Sherman’s Planet handball.”

“His homework is done, so you may go and ask him if he would like to play,” Kane said solemnly stepping aside to allow Buttercup to enter his living room. She darted in and started chattering away to Billy quietly.

“I figured you’d be needin’ some help with the kid right about now,” Kassandra said with a slight smirk. “I remember when the twins got dropped in my lap, I had no idea what I was supposed to do with them. They musta spent the first two weeks with me plonked infronta the TV.”

“Ah,” Kane said, slightly relieved, but unwilling to let Kassandra see. She grinned back at him, a knowing look passing over her face.

“You might as well come too, Sir. Bond with the boy, plus I wanna talk to you about somethin’ anyway.” Kassandra’s eyes darted to the side, evasively. Kane sighed. He didn’t feel like going, but she was clearly working up to telling him about her promotion, so he decided to roll with it.

“Sure, I could use the exercise as well,” Kane said slowly, then gestured at her headgear. “Is the refit of your sensor nets going well?”

“Yeah, we sorted out some issues. All this hardware is for them to figure out what stuff my brain actually pays attention to so they can keep that functionality then jettison the rest. I hear they may even be coming up with a way for me to have some sight again.” There was a slight wistfulness in Kassandra’s voice. There was a sudden burst of activity behind Kane, and then Billy and Buttercup ran out the door, and down the hallway. “Well, can’t let the whippersnappers get too far ahead of us. Shall we?”

Kane stepped out and the two of them followed Buttercup and Billy. Buttercup kept up a constant stream of conversation the whole time, stopping only when Kassandra outfitted them with the high tech gloves used in the game, explained the simple version of the rules, and showed them a few basic moves. Kane found it startlingly enjoyable. The game was similar in concept to Irish handball, albeit using all four walls, and with high tech gloves which immobilized the ball when it entered the field, allowing the player to redirect it with force in any direction they pleased. The two children didn’t seem to tire, and Kassandra and Kane had stepped back to catch their breath, watching the two lob the training ball around the room. Billy almost lost the haunted look on his face once or twice, and seemed to be warming up to Buttercup’s relentless charm assault.

“So, Major, what did you want to talk to me about?” Kane asked once his breathing had slowed.

“Well for one, it’s just Kass now, or I suppose Kassandra or Mr Thytos, if you wanna keep bein’ formal with me,” Kassandra said dryly. There was a long pause as Kane realized the implications of what she’d said. “Yeah. I ain’t your MCO now. Heck, I ain’t even an active Marine no more. I quit.”

“I see. Why?” Kane said, keeping his voice neutral, although he already had a pretty good idea.

“Because they wanted to promote me and send me to Sherman’s Planet. Because when I inquired about alternative postings, they made it clear they didn’t really think I was Major material, but needed to keep the population sweet on them, and thought a good ole local girl in the top brass would keep ‘em sweet.” Kassandra’s voice was surprisingly bitter and disappointed as though she was having trouble coming to terms with the organization she’d devoted a good amount of her life to thought so little of her. “Well, I ain’t goin’ back t’ Port Emily, and I ain’t going somewhere I’m just bein’ used, and people don’t really want me. Don’t worry, you’ll be in good hands though, Harry- Sergeant Bellecotte- will be your new MCO, and Sargeant Cimorene McQueen will take his position.”

“Bellecotte? But he’s not an officer.” Kane’s understanding of the Marine chain of command and standard operations was vague, mostly because he didn’t care enough to look into it, but he was fairly sure that it was quite uncommon for an enlisted man to be in charge.

“Ah. Yeah. They didn’t have a replacement for me. Makes me think they’re plannin’ ta yank yer Marine support sometime soon. Though I suppose we’re in more peaceful times an’ all that, so maybe we’re really redundant or somethin’.”

“Ah, well I’ve always found your assistance valuable.” Kane felt the secret of the PHOENIX’s soon-to-be dissolution gnawing a guilty hole in his chest.

“Aw, cheer up, Cap’n,” Kassandra said, completely misinterpreting his emotions. “I’ll still be around helpin’ ease the transition, an’ as Harry’s co-parent for Buttercup, since he’ll have less time with his new duties, Byte’s got us set up with family quarters already, an’ my- Harry’s Marines are movin’ us in today. Plus, I’ve just gotten myself a civvie position as the MWR coordinator on the Phoenix.”

“You what now?” Kane blinked.

“You know, Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Gym teacher for the kiddos, organizes movie nights an’ morale events, an’ all that shi- stuff- gotta watch my language if I’m gonna be around kids more, I guess. I gotta warn you though, Iphie’s gotten wind already an’ has some *ideas*. Like, a whole book of them. They’re, uh, interestin’. Gotta admire a woman who suggests a Zero G cocktail hour where we turn off the grav in the Tribble an’ just unleash canapes and blobs of mixed drinks into the room, an everyone has to glide around an’ catch em’ in their mouths.”

“That sounds unbelievably messy.” Kane could feel the headache already building up between his eyebrows. Kassandra made a sound of amusement.

“I said you gotta *admire* a woman who suggests that, not that you gotta *follow through* on her suggestions,” Kassandra pointed out.

* * *=(/\)=* * *

NRPG: Kassandra's gone in a different direction from Eve in regards to promotions. How's she going to handle semi retirement, how will the Phoenix and Kane's sanity survive her semi retirement, how will she dig herself out of this hole, will the Zero G Cocktail party become a reality? Stay tuned, same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel to find out! ;)

Alix Fowler

Writing As:
Kassandra Thytos


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