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The Bramatine Blues

Posted on Feb 05, 2018 @ 5:10am by Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Feb 05, 2018 @ 5:10am

Mission: Section 31


"The Bramantine Blues"

(Cont. "Dirty Little Secrets")

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

Location: USS PHOENIX

Stardate: 2.18.0130.2038

Scene: Main Science labs

Karrington Crow and the Marine Commanding Officer had been holed up in the science labs for some time. Though not adroit in most aspects of technology, the Marine had proven to be adept at the inner workings of the tools of her trade, and had set to work pointing out the circuit boards, describing the function of each part, and more importantly for Karrington, cannibalizing the innards of about 100 pulse rifles to give Karrington and the Science staff enough Bramantine to run a battery of tests on.

Now, however, the Marine was in Karrington’s office, angrily gesticulating at the computer console as she browbeat some poor supply officer somewhere.

She had every reason to be angry. A few hours ago, the first of the Marines had been making their way to sickbay, complaining of headaches and short term memory problems, likely related to their earlier sustained exposure to the Bramantine radiation. A few hours ago, the first cases of meningitis had popped up, somehow the pulses of energy the Bramantine was emitting was causing the blood-brain barrier to loosen, allowing bacteria into the spinal and cerebral fluid.

So now there were five Marines in sickbay alongside the pug, who seemed to be pulling through well enough to wander back and forth between the sick Marines, snuggling up next to them.

The rest of the Marines were under close scrutiny by the medical staff, and Kassandra herself would have been with them if Aerdan Jos had not decided to allow her to remain under Crow’s watchful eye.

“Listen, you don’t want to listen to me anymore, I can tell that. I don’t really want to talk to you anymore either, but I ain’t- I don’t really have a say in this matter. This is all on you. All ya gotta do is give me the name of the person who recommended the new weapons be purchased by the Marine Quartermasters, and poof, I become their problem, insteada- of yours.” The Marine pounded her open hand on the edge of Karrington’s desk for emphasis, she had a scowl on her face that was partially frustration with the person on the other end, partially concentration as she forced her lips around less familiar speech patterns so that she’d be taken more seriously by the person on the other end of the line.

It made Karrington a little bit melancholy as a linguist- the perception of some dialects as inferior, or only possessed by those of low intelligence had caused many of the colony planets to try to erase their colony world accents and replace them with something more cosmopolitan. This, in turn, would lead one to believe that Human culture, and, in fact, many other cultures, were far more uniform than they actually were.

[[I can’t give you that information, Ma’am, I-]] the Marine on the other end of the line was painfully young and clearly uncomfortable, though she was putting up far better a show than the last few that Kassandra had chewed through on her way to this point. Kassandra was dressed neatly in her uniform, her hair slicked back, and her chest festooned with what she had called ‘chest candy’ in a tone that was both derisive and proud at the same time, looking far sharper and like a career professional than she had when she’d come to Karrington’s office earlier in the morning.

“You can, it’d be real easy, kid,” Kassandra was smiling now, which Karrington had noted was usually a prelude to her most savage ‘persuasive’ tactics. “You’re on Eldar IV, right? That’s got real nice beaches, doesn’t it… Just picture yourself on the beach, surf, sand, and me not being your problem. Sounds nice doesn’t it? Of course, if you say no, keep in mind my next step is to get myself on the next transport out of here and to sit outside your office. This ain’t a face you wanna- want to see first thing in the morning, or at the end of the day for that matter.”

[[I- it’s need to know and-]] the young Marine was wavering, and Kassandra was getting ready to go for the kill. She crooked a finger at Crow and waved her over.

“Lemme introduce you to my buddy Doctor Crow. Doctor, do you care to explain to Mr. Jenkins here exactly what those weapons I’m talking about are doing to my Marines?” Kassandra turned to face Crow, who tilted her head to the side and raised an eyebrow questioningly, unsure what the Marine was expecting of her. The Marine grinned at her and quickly signed with her hands: [[Blind her with science.]]

“Ah, well. The metal they’re using as a power conductor is capable of very low resistance, allowing more efficiency by easily transmitting down its length, however this also causes an energy burst as the electrons in the outer shell are excited… Now, this power transmits at-” Crow rattled off the statistics, and saw the young Marine’s eyes begin to glaze over. This was a common enough occurence for Crow, but the speed with which the girl lost interest was certainly prize winning. She wrapped up her explanation of the side effects of Bramantine radiation, and then turned to raise an eyebrow at Kassandra again.

“So, in conclusion, since I saw ya glazin’ over: These weapons are turning my Marines’ brains into mush, and they’re going to turn other platoons into morons if they use them. So, I guess the question is, kid: Do you really want the buck to stop with you? You’re the one who filled out the requisitions, you’re the one who got them shipped out to the entire Corps.”

[[Fine.]] The young Marine looked defeated. [[Leave me out of this, please. I was just following orders, I had no idea there was something wrong either. I was told to requisition these by Colonel Aston, but I don’t think he had any idea. I’m sure he didn’t.]]

“But these didn’t go through testing, clearly, and they aren’t the usual manufacturer we work with, why’d he push these?”

[[Well, normally we wouldn’t have taken on new weaponry, only one of the Federation Councilors contacted us directly, told us that his planet had a new manufacturing company that was putting out some weapons that he thought we’d be interested in, but that the company hadn’t been able to get through the procurement process because of cronyism, and would we mind looking at it. The data that he had was good- better than good, it was a huge improvement over even the upgrades that the usual supplier was pushing out on the next model, and we had no reason to doubt that everything was on the up-and-up, I mean, it was a councilor, for pete sake! He wouldn’t be recommending dangerous weapons, would he?]]

“This councilor got a name?” Kassandra had a look on her face like a dog that had just found the bone it was looking for.

[[Gavaar, okay?]] The girl looked around nervously. [[Can you just leave me out of this? You know how it is, even if it’s irregular, the chain of command is the chain of command, Sir.]]

“I think I can leave you out of it this time, but you should remember, regulations are regulations, and they’re there to keep our men and women safe. I find one more irregularity in your conduct, and I’m going to be there chewin’ yer ass in person. Gottit?”

[[Sir, yes Sir!]] The girl practically leapt at the off button as fast as she could.

“Well, shiiiiiiit.” Kassandra stared at the empty screen and then looked helplessly back at Crow. “What the hell am I supposed to do with *that,* Doc? This sounds like a game I ain’t equipped to play. I totally did not think this far down the line- I just thought I’d end up with someone to holler and yell at, an’ that’d be it.”

“I don’t know. This is a game I’m also not equipped to play,” Karrington said a little dourly. Her inability to take part in the social games and power plays had left her as a Lieutenant for far longer than would be normal for someone performing her caliber of research, with as many publications as she had. The Marine cocked an eyebrow, recognizing a sore point, but moved past it quickly.

“Well, I guess it’s time to take it to the Cap’n, since everyone else is away. Sure hope he ain’t in a good mood today,” Kassandra hooked her thumbs into her belt and stretched. “Wouldn’t want to be responsible for ruinin’ his day. Don’t look so worried, I’ll know the symptoms of meningitis by now. First sign of anythin’ not being tickety boo, an’ i’ll be down in sickbay lickety split.”

“And I’ll continue to experiment on the Bramantine, and see if I can figure out what else it may be being used in,” Karrington said, a little bit relieved to have her domain free of interlopers, although it did now mean that she’d have to deal with Stephanie Trimble’s thinly veiled hostility- apparently she had wanted the CSO position. The resentment would eventually fade, or else Stephanie would apply for a promotion elsewhere. Either way it wouldn’t be a problem for too long.

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

Scene: Captain’s Ready Room

“Sir, gotta bit of news ‘bout those weapons that I thought you might wanna hear,” Kassandra stuck her head around Kane’s ready room door, an overly cheerful smile on her face. It was the face of someone trying to disguise the fact that they were about to drop a mess in someone else’s lap. His lap. Kane sighed.

“Come in, Major. How are you doing? I’ve been keeping abreast of the situation in sickbay. I hope your Marines have a speedy recovery. I’ve been told that they expect them all to gain normal cognitive function given some rest and no further exposure,” Kane got the expected pleasantries out of the way, while Kassandra gave him an amused smirk, as though she agreed that it was a social nicety that needed saying, but was rather obvious.

“Such as it was,” Kassandra said lightly. “Some of ‘em are as bright as Alaska in December. Rico Suarez is still insistin’ you’re thinking about putting music in the elevators. As fer me, guess my nanites an’ all the wire fer my sensor nets helped me out a bit. I feel right as rain.”

“So, what is it that you wanted to talk to me about?” Kane cut to the chase, and Kassandra looked appreciative.

“The Marine Corps never tested those weapons. I’ve been beratin’ everyone near and far all day, tryinna figure out what idiot okayed these things, an’, well, turns out that no one okayed them, really. Didn’t go through the normal channels at all. Apparently the deal for these weapons was all brokered on the good word and impressive testing results given to the Marine Corps Quartermaster by Councilman Gavaar. I ain’t got the wherewithal to deal with the Starfleet chain o’ command, but I’m bettin’ that you’ll find that the Bramantine filled weapons that Yu got okayed for the same damn reason. Who knows what else that shit is in. An’ Doctor Crow thinks she knows why they got all them kids doin’ the mining, by the way. Turns out that the Bramantine converts almost all energy, includin’ kinetic energy into small bursts of the same radiation the weapons do- that means the miners are all gettin’ radiation each time they hammer or pick a vein of ore. Kids are way more resistant to the mental effects, their minds are able to repair and adapt so quickly, that it don’t make ‘em as dumb. But the adults would be gettin it too, which may explain the collapse, the adults in charge mighta had a case of the Bramantine dum-dums.”

“I see,” Kane stroked his chin thoughtfully. Kassandra’s brows drew down. “Yes, Major?”

“Whatchya gonna do with this info, Cap’n?” She was clearly still invested in something happening, even if she had no desire to get involved in the politics.

“Oh, the same thing you are,” Kane felt a smile growing on his face. Kassandra looked a little worried. “I’m going to drop this mess in someone else’s lap. Xana Bonviva’s lap, to be exact.”

“God help her. You look like the cat that ate the canary,” Kassandra said dryly.

“She does always remind me that I’m no good at playing politics.”

“Oof. I’m goin’ back to the Armory. Got a lot of new weaponry to take apart to dispose of the Bramantine, then shove into the recyclers once I’m sure they’re clean. You have fun droppin’ that little bomb. Have a good day Cap’n!”

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


NRPG: This should wrap up the Smooshy plotline, and the new weaponry issue!

Alix Fowler
as
Kassandra Thytos
A professional pain in the ass
USS Phoenix

 

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