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A Fine Mystery

Posted on Jan 08, 2018 @ 7:41am by Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Jan 08, 2018 @ 7:41am

Mission: Bramatine: Truth, Justice and the Federation Way

"A Fine Mystery"
(Cont "wasteland")
* * *=(/\)=* * *

Location: USS Phoenix
Stardate: 2.18.0197.2213
Scene: Shuttlebay 3

In a firefight, reliability is everything. The last thing you want to happen while shots are being fired at you is to have your weapon break, or find a new ‘quirk’ that you weren’t expecting, so Kassandra was approaching the new weaponry with extreme suspicion. If they were significantly better than the old models, it was one thing, but if it was basically the same with minor boosts, well, she would much rather keep to the tried and true.


Therefore, with an abundance of caution that didn’t appear to be shared by her counterparts in Security, Kassandra was putting her new shipment of weaponry to the test. Shuttlebay 3 had been modified to allow them to fire through the containment fields into the blackness of space, where the energy from handheld phase weaponry quickly dissipated. She and all the Marines under her command were putting the weapons through their paces under the watchful eye of her second, Horatio Bellecotte. So far they’d tested how long the new pulse rifles could hold a sustained blast before they overheated and shut down (1 minute, 57 seconds on average, with a low and high of 20.1 and 29.7 respectively); the number of full power shots that could be fired from a single powerpack (3458, with a low and high of 2307 and 3589 respectively); the lowest temperature they could be used at reliably (too cold for humans to survive, anyway). Kassandra also planned to test them in varying humidities, magnetic storm conditions, and perhaps, if Captain Kane would let them, out in vacuum.


The arrival of the new weapons was fortuitous, at any rate. There had been some rumblings among the Marines, with the younger ones demanding to know why they weren’t being deployed to go assist with search and rescue down on ACAMAR, and weren’t particularly pleased with the answers, or lack thereof that she was able to give them. Kassandra understood the impulse, of course. Many of the Marines were from mining colonies, and immediate response of all able bodied beings to cave-ins was an integral part of their culture and mores. The fact that there were kids involved… Well, that only kicked the instinct into overdrive. The weapons kept them from thinking about it, and that in turn kept the restlessness in check.


Kassandra only wished that the distraction the new weapons provided had helped her some. Normally it would have, after all, who didn’t like showing off their marksmanship skills, or playing with new toys, but her sensor nets had been acting up all morning, and it was making her head hurt. She was getting crankier by the moment, and it was throwing her aim off, which in turn only soured her mood. She fired off another burst, cursing as she critically analyzed the wide scatter on her grouping. She felt a tap on her shoulder- Horatio had apparently noticed her increasingly poor aim. She flicked the power back down to stun, and put the safety on.


“Everything OK, Kass?” Horatio said softly. “Your aim is pretty awful today.”


“It’s my damn sensor nets,” Kassandra said, unable to keep a whining note of complaint from entering her voice. “They’re actin’ up an’ giving me a headache today.”


“Acting up?” He cocked his head at her, his grey eyes concerned. Mother-henning as usual, Kassandra thought with the mixture of exasperation and fondness that her second’s fussing always elicited in her. After nearly thirty years it was vastly irritating, and yet comfortingly familiar at the same time.


“Nothin’ major- there’s jus’ a lot of interference today- They probably just need to be recalibrated.” If she didn’t allay his fears quickly, she’d soon find him dragging her to sickbay to have neurological scans. “There they go again, it’s givin’ me a bit of a headache. And there it goes again- I jus’ can’t figure out-”


“When did it start?” Horatio’s voice was sharp, and he suddenly shifted into what Kassandra liked to call his ‘thinker’ pose, one arm across his massive chest, the other bent, fingers formed into a fist under his chin, while his forefinger absently stroked the bridge of his crooked, broken nose. It was a pose only adopted when in deep thought, usually just before he gave some sort of sage advice, or pointed out a problem that the thought needed addressing, or had a sudden, brilliant insight.


“This mornin’, I first noticed it before the dog stole the phaser.” That had been something of an embarassment. They’d been helping Yu and Sec Tac inventory and check their new phasers, and Private Rico “not so suave” Suarez had been ribbing the Security officers about the perceived size and power of their weapons, compared to the Marines’. With all the swagger one expected of a Marine and all the dude-bro stupidity as well, Rico Suarez had taken one of the phasers and shot himself on the stun setting to prove how piddly the phasers were, and also how tough Marines were, claiming that it wouldn’t even knock him out because he ‘had undergone extensive training, and wasn’t a sissy like you Space Cadets’. It had gone predictably well, and Suarez had fallen, insensate, to the floor. Captain Smooshy had been in like a flash, growling and yipping as he grabbed the phaser and took off.


“Was that before, or after Suarez stunned himself?” Horatio’s wrinkles deepened by half a millimeter as he pursed his lips in thought.


“Before. After. Actually maybe at the same time-ish?” Kassandra scrubbed her hand through her hair. Her sensor nets fizzled again, a static burst of data noise.


“Did it just happen again?” Horatio unfolded his arms and slapped his hands together, looking rather smugly pleased with himself.


“How did you know-” Kassandra frowned, giving him her best imitation of side eye.


“It’s the weapons fire, you’re getting interference every time the weapons are fired. They must be giving off some sort of energy burst when they fire. You sure you’ve never seen anything like it before?” Horatio was positively beaming, and Kassandra rolled her eyes, torn between admiration and finding his glee irritating. They both knew full well that he was the brains of the operation. She had the decisiveness, the dogged lack of regard for her own safety, and the willingness to gamble with her own lives and the lives of others that the Federation Marine Corps valued, and had been rewarded with rank accordingly, but she would be the first to admit that none of it would have been possible without her stalwart second behind the scenes, worrying, thinking, and planning.


“Definitely not. Ain’t ever had this trouble before.”


“Random energy bursts can’t be good. I’m going to put a stop to the drills immediately, with your leave, of course,” Horatio’s eyes were gleaming. “We’re going to have to let the Captain know about this, and we need to take the weapons to the Science labs and analyze it. Maybe open one up and-”


“You sure this ain’t just an excuse for you t’ go and see that new Science Chief, what’s her name, Lieutenant Carrie Magpie, Harry?” Kassandra couldn’t help teasing the man. She’d seen him eyeing the new Science Chief with admiration at breakfast in the Vulgar Tribble earlier that morning.


“Lieutentant Karrington Crow-” Horatio said unthinkingly, then blushed as Kassandra made sound of triumph. She always found it astonishing how the giant mountain of a man suddenly became a shrinking violet when it came to members of the opposite sex. The man would face down a raging Targ in a heartbeat, but come face to face with a woman he found attractive, suddenly he was too shy and timid to do much more than blush and stare at his feet.


“I *knew* you were into her! Go on, take the damn pulse rifles to Science. I’ll handle the men-”


“I don’t need any favors!” Horatio was embarrassed, and an embarrassed Horatio was a prickly Horatio. “Besides, it’s not my place, *Sir*, you’re the MCO, *you* better take the rifles to Science.”


“Of all the flavors, Harry, why you gotta be salty?” Kassandra retorted, realizing she’d been bested. Horatio knew damn well the last thing she wanted to do was sit around with eggheads for hours, listening to them talk science. Making her do it was his revenge for her teasing. “Fine. Maybe if you’re lucky I’ll put in a good word for you with Dr Crow. Unless you stay salty, that is.”


Horatio muttered under his breath and turned away, barking orders to the Marines. Kassandra rolled her eyes, and tapped her commbadge.


“Kassandra to Captain Kane.”


[[Kane here.]]


“We’re gettin’ some weird energy pulses with the new weaponry, sir, ain’t sure what’s makin them, so we’ve suspended use until we know what’s causin’ it, Sir. Recommendin’ that Security does the same, “ Kassandra didn’t spend any time on pleasantries. She knew Kane preferred it that way. “I’m takin’ up the stuff to Science to get it looked at.”


[[Keep me posted. Kane out.]]


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


Scene: Science


Kassandra tried to wait politely to talk to Karrington Crow, standing near enough to the woman that she should have attracted some notice, and waiting until there was a lull in Karrington’s work to broach the reason for her visit. No lull came, and finally Kassandra had to resort to clearing her throat very loudly. The Science chief’s face swung up to stare at Kassandra with a slightly startled expression putting Kassandra in mind of a doe, or something like that. Evidently she genuinely hadn’t noticed Kassandra standing there.


“Lieutenant Crow?” Kassandra said politely.


“*Doctor* Crow. Yes. You are? No, don’t tell me. Marines… Captain- no, we’re on a ship so- Major? Major Thytos, correct?” She held out her hand, and Kassandra shook it. It was a rough hand, used to hard work, and unexpected. The woman gave, at least to Kassandra’s sensor nets, an impression of softness.


“Yeah. But call me Kass, everyone else does, except my Marines- they call me scary.” Kassandra paused expectantly for the woman to chuckle, but she just got a bemused stare.


“So… Kassandra… What can I do for you?”


“Ah. Not Kassandra. Kass,” Kassandra corrected. The Science chief stared back at her. They were clearly at an impasse.


“So, *Major* what can I do for you?” Crow said, after another beat.


“We’re getting a weird energy from our new equipment,” Kassandra unwrapped the two pulse rifles she’d been carrying and laid it on the table in front of Crow. Crow’s eyes lit up, seemingly happy to have been brought a mystery to solve.


“What type of energy?” Crow asked. She suddenly seemed a little bit intimidatingly intense to Kassandra.


“Uh, I don’t know. There is more than one type of energy?” Kassandra said, cursing Horatio for making her deal with the eggheads. “Listen, all I know is that every time they fire those weapons, my sensor netsg o on the fritz. I can’t really tell ya more than that. My sensor nets might have given me the best information possible, but ain’t no used to anyone because I ain’t got any idea what the flip it is.”


“Right then, first order of business is for me to set up one of our energy containment chambers, you fire the weapons, and then we can see whether it’s-” here Crow began speaking in tongues, or at least that’s what it sounded like to Kassandra, because it made about as much sense. “How does that sound?”


“Well, all I understood is that part where I get to fire the weapon, so… Good, I guess?” Kassandra said dubiously, feeling very, very stupid. Crow was a consummate professional, but Kassandra could practically hear her heavy internal sigh.

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

Alix Fowler
Writing for

Captain/Major Kassandra Thytos
MCO and not the brightest crayon,
USS Phoenix

 

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