trekwriter151: (trip)
[personal profile] trekwriter151
Four

It was turning out to be a LONG afternoon.

Trip leaned against the console, arms crossed, his right index finger tapping impatiently on his arm. Lieutenant Rita Soriano, head of the Enterprise's chemistry department, peered through her electron microscope without saying a word. Next to Trip stood Travis Mayweather. The helmsman had sent Trip and urgent page, asking Trip to meet him here in one of the science labs. Poor Travis looked like a cat about to have a litter of kittens; it didn't take Trip long to realize why.

Soriano straightened up from her microscope. "I'm not familiar with this alcoholic drink, Ensign, but I can tell it's molecular structure's been altered somewhat."

"Altered how?" Travis demanded.

"The simple sugars within it have been chemically changed by the application of a source of irradiation," she said in a distracted tone. At the sight of Travis's glazed eyes, she translated, "The alcohol's been radically altered on a molecular level. The only way I can think of is by some kind of unknown energy."

Trip straightened and asked, "Like some sort of odd power source? Radiation poisoning?"

"Not enough to kill you, if that's what you're worried about, Commander, but its effects are highly unpredictable. I can say that it probably wouldn't take a lot to become drunk as a skunk off this stuff."

The implications dawned on Trip and he met Travis's gaze. "Aw, crap. Chef was using it in pasta sauce that he was gonna serve to the crew. And people have been acting kinda loopy lately."

If panic had a face, it was Travis's at that moment. "Oh, no. We'd better tell the Captain."

Trip sighed and shook his head. "I'll do it. Travis, I want you to go down to Sick Bay and alert Phlox, then try to get a hold of your friend on the Magdalene. What was her name again?"

"Juanita," he replied glumly.

"If they've got some sort of radiation leak in their engineering section, it could be dangerous to 'em."

"I'm on it, Commander." Travis hurried out as fast as he could, and Trip couldn't blame him. Soriano looked up at Trip and nodded.

"I'll analyze this further and try to compose a counter-agent, Commander."

"Keep me informed, Rita. And thanks."

"No problem, Commander."

*****

Jon Archer didn't say anything as Trip outlined the problem. Instead, he leaned forward on his desk in his Ready Room and rubbed his temples. Malcolm Reed only shook his head, but Trip saw the smirk that Malcolm was trying to hide. Having a crew high on ale fumes made for some interesting blackmail material, but Trip couldn't allow himself to indulge in the humor. This was a serious matter.

At least T'Pol isn't here to see it. He winced; he and Hoshi had spent time tracking down and eliminating the subroutine in the comm system that relayed T'Pol's files into the general message queue at regular intervals. Hoshi had also erased as many traces of T'Pol's entries as she could find. The only saving grace was that not many members of the general crew spoke fluent Vulcan. Whoever had installed the subroutine was due for more than just a dressing-down from the Chief Engineer.

"Malcolm, we need to find and confiscate as many bottles of this ale as we can find," Jon finally said. "And any members of the crew that are suffering from the aftereffects need to be in Sickbay."

Trip winced again. "Cap'n, Chef's supposed to have a whole case of the stuff in the Galley, and he's a little...obsessed with his cooking right now."

Jon looked torn between being angry and laughing his head off. "I tried to talk to him earlier, but he yelled at me to get out, and he's laid out a spectacular line of knives within easy reach. Cunningham said that Chef threatened to skin him alive with a cleaver-"

"My fault, Cap'n. I asked Ryan to get a bottle of the ale for me. It sounds like Chef won't give up any of his stash without a fight." Trip glanced at Malcolm. "You might need a tactical plan for this, Malcolm."

The Armory officer nodded, though he looked rather regretful. "I've also gotten the brunt of Chef's ire. We'll have to find a way to pry him out of his domain, kicking and screaming if need be."

"Just don't hurt him too much, Malcolm. He's still got the knives." Jon glanced at Trip and said, "The Torinian Head Councilor sent some specs of their power generators, Trip, and his technology experts think there might be a link to the virus that's affecting your engineers. I had Hoshi relay it to your computer, top priority."

"Thanks, Cap'n. I'll get right on it."

Malcolm nodded again. "I already have Mueller's and Birkenwald's teams making sure we don't have any more...ah...creative sabotage in the ship's systems. Phlox sent Ensign Cutler and some medics to check the status on the crew."

Trip remembered Mueller and Birkenwald's operatic rendition in the Armory and shuddered. Obviously, Malcolm didn't know about it. "Travis is tracking down the Magdalene. The ale came from there...we might be able to find the cause of all this."

Jon allowed a small smile in approval. "I'll go down and check with Phlox. We still have people down from that virus, and if they'd drunk any of that ale, there's no telling how that'll affect them. Dismissed, gentlemen."

Trip and Malcolm hurried to the lift, where Malcolm hit the button for F Deck. "Be careful with confronting Chef, Malcolm," Trip warned him, "or you might just find that cleaver in your backside."

"I'll take every precaution, Commander." Malcolm's voice still had a touch of apprehension under the confident tone, and Trip didn't blame him. He shook his head as he headed to Engineering while Malcolm went toward the Armory.

*****

Trip accessed the power generator specs from his office computer and quickly went through the information. His eyes widened, then he scrolled back up and read the document from the beginning. Then he hit his intercom. "Anna, Michael, I need to see you in here right away."

Hess and Rostov came in a minute later. "Is there a problem, Boss?" Rostov asked.

Trip angled his screen so the other two could see it. "Check out the output levels and tell me what you see."

Hess frowned and tapped the result with her finger. "That's weird. Some sort of low-level radiation...why didn't we see this before?"

"You can barely see it on the readings," Rostov remarked. "That could be why we overlooked it the first time." He looked over at Trip. "You think this is connected with the flu thing that's hit half the department, Commander?"

"Phlox said that once you get it, you're immune. I got the impression the symptoms don't last long; the Doc was expecting our people to be on the mend by now. But they're still stuck in Sickbay, coughin' and wheezin', and Doc's worried about it." Trip nodded at his deputies. "Run a level two diagnostic on our own systems, and pay extra attention to the radiation outputs. If what I'm suspectin' is correct, if our systems are affected, it could be part of the reason why we're getting' hit hard by this."

"We're on it, Commander," Hess said, as she and Rostov traded a nod, and they hurried back into Main Engineering. Trip watched them go with a smile; those two were an important part of his team, and he felt lucky to have them.

He sighed and downloaded the information onto a PADD, then headed directly to Sickbay. Phlox needed to know about this, and he figured he'd swing by and visit some of his people who were still stuck there. Their morale could use a boost; Trip knew that being sick could be frustrating as all get out.

He'd just gotten through the Sickbay doors when he heard more singing. Unlike the Armory Boys' Choir, this was completely on-key, booming and operatic, and echoed off the walls. Trip stopped abruptly as he recognized the song. It was the theme to the Denobulan mini-series they'd watched on Movie night. It was one of those catchy tunes that got stuck in your head; Trip groaned inwardly and thought,Great. Now I'll be hearin' it all afternoon. "Doc?" he called aloud.

The music stopped and Phlox came out of his office. "Ah, Commander Tucker."
"Got somethin' for you." He handed Phlox the PADD and waited as the doctor looked over the information. Trip noticed that the Denobulan's skin was flushed, and that silly grin was plastered all over his face. Uh, oh. Can Denobulans actually get drunk? I mean, I've seen him woken up from hibernation before, but this...

"This could help tremendously in tailoring a counter-agent," Phlox said heartily, "combined with the information that Lieutenant Soriano sent me. Thank you, Commander."

"Uh...you're welcome, Doc. You mind if I check up on my people?"

Phlox shook his head and raised a hand. "Sorry, Commander, but I've declared them under quarantine. We've had a few more cases among the crew. I compared the samples between the previous and the more recent cases; it seems that the virus has been altered a bit from the original."

"Altered? How?"

"The inoculation shots should have taken care of it, but it seems that a foreign protein has changed its molecular structure slightly." The doctor slapped Trip on the back in reassurance; Trip hadn't been expecting it and stumbled forward. "But, optimism, Commander! The adjustments shouldn't be difficult, and we should have it corrected very shortly. In fact, since you're here, I need a volunteer for the updated inoculation shot..."

"Uh..Doc," Trip began to protest. Great. Now the doc's loopy too. "I don't think-"

The comm channel roared to life. Trip heard yelling and shouting in the background, then Bernhard Mueller's voice ground out, "Security to the Mess Hall. Doctor Phlox, please come to the Mess Hall immediately!"

"Oh, what have they done now?" Phlox said to himself, clucking under his tongue as if he was reprimanding his bat. "Oh dear." He grabbed his medkit and walked toward the doors; Trip scrambled to catch up with him.

*****

The Mess Hall was utter chaos.

When the doors opened, all Trip saw was a dark stream of something flying directly toward him. He grabbed Phlox by the collar and yanked the doctor out of the way. It hit the back wall of the corridor with a definite smack and dribbled to the floor. The smell of fresh basil and garlic hit Trip's nose and his stomach rumbled in response.

"Oh, hell," he muttered.

"It smells delightful," Phlox commented. "Like...sauce."

"Get ready to take cover when he get inside, Doc," Trip said. "It sounds like a battle in there."

"Like the one between Lady Senna's forces and the Antarans," Phlox agreed with a nod. "I shall be careful, Commander."

Trip rolled his eyes. "Okay, here we go. On three: one, two, three!"

They dove through the doors. Trip immediately lost Phlox in the chaos as he ended up behind an upturned table, next to Ensign Bernhard Mueller. Mueller was yelling something in his communicator, and next to him was a pile of soft, round, pinkish fruit. The table reverberated with thumps as flying projectiles hit it, and Trip realized the place smelled like a pizzeria.

"Bernhard!" Trip shouted. "What's going on?"

"It seems that Chef has decided not to come quietly," the Bavarian hollered back. "He enlisted some of the junior officers into his 'army' and barricaded himself in the kitchen. His regulars have pelted us with pasta sauce and macaroni and cheese, and now he's added salad dressing and vinegar to the mix." Bernhard sighed and gestured toward the fruit. "All I could find at short notice, Commander. They make perfect grenades."

"Where's Malcolm?" Another sauce-filled missile missed Trip's head by inches and exploded, coating his uniform with tomato.

Bernhard sighed. "He's a prisoner of war. The captain tried to negotiate with Chef, but got knocked unconscious by a frozen turkey. Lieutenant Reed was overcome by a barrage of sliced peaches and cream. They are both being held in the pantry."

"Great." Trip sighed and shook his head. Here he was, in the middle of the Great Mess Hall Skirmish with his commanding officer and his best friend held prisoner by a mad Chef.
Yup, it was going to be a LONG afternoon.

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Don't make money off 'em.

Notes: Yeah, the Great Mess Hall Skirmish...*snerk*. Not my idea...blame my 3 year old and mac and cheese all over my kitchen floor. LOL. Oh, BTW, there's a little(?) reference to Exploded Pen's fic "Cold Cheese" (Couldn't help myself, it just fit perfectly. Hope you didn't mind, Hannah;)).

EntAllat, I did see that episode of "Mythbusters". Frozen turkey+high pressurized air cannon+plexiglass= total destruction. Lucky for Archer that it was a glancing blow.

And great to see you, BnB! How are ya? ;)

This is the last chapter...it's longer than usual, and if there's enough interest in the end, there might be a sequel. ;) And about that story in the Observation Lounge with Malcolm, the Klingon and alcohol, I'm working on it!

Language Translations: I put the English translations next to the German (Bernhard and Johannes). Italian from Chef: Traditore! Traitor! Perché? Why? From Cunningham: Mi dispiace. I'm sorry.

Rating: T

Please R&R! Thanks!;)


Five

"Bernhard!"

Both Trip and Bernhard snapped around to see Ensign Johannes Birkenwald and Master Chief Antoine Desgauld huddled behind another table. Johannes was gesturing frantically to get Bernhard's attention.

"Ich hab' eine Idee!" I have an idea.

"Was für eine Idee? What kind of idea?

"Ein Blitzkrieg." A blitzkrieg (a full-out assault).

"Womit?" With what?

"Damit!" With this! Johannes jerked his head to the impressive arsenal that Antoine had collected behind their barricade. Trip's mouth twitched as he saw the cans of raw bread dough and melted cheese, jars of marshmallow fluff and bottles of soy sauce. The every-so-resourceful Quartermaster had soaked some couscous in a pan of water and was rolling the inflated pasta into impressive projectiles.

"You sure Antoine isn't a closet Armory officer?" Trip asked Bernhard.

"I should ask Lieutenant Reed to consider recruiting him," Bernhard replied in a dry tone. "Stay here, Commander...I will be back shortly with some ammunition."

"'Kay." As the Bavarian crawled toward Johannes and Antoine, Trip surveyed the battlefield. He counted three junior officers at the entrance to the kitchen, plus another two pouring pasta sauce into balloons. So far, they were successful in keeping any would-be rescuers away, and the fight was rapidly becoming a stalemate. It seemed that Johannes's blitzkrieg was the only solution.

"Here you go, Commander." The voice of Crewman Philippe Trieste at his shoulder made him jump. He and Bernhard had reappeared with a considerable amount of squirty cheese and marshmallow fluff. "We have Crewmen Tyler and Cunningham, and Ensign Rostov awaiting your signal, sir."

Trip shook his head as he hefted a can of liquified cheese in each hand. I've become the general of the most whacked-out army on the ship. Where're the MACOs when you need 'em? "All right, on my mark. Ready...GO!"

The makeshift army yelled and rushed forward from their barricades, spraying cheese and marshmallow in their wake, with Cunningham and Desgauld covering them with couscous bombs. Trip hollered as he got one of the mess hall stewards with a faceful of cheese, just as Bernhard was hit by several sauce-filled balloons. It was glorious mess, a combination of a junior-high school food fight and the Charge of the Light Brigade.

"ARGH!" screamed Rostov, as he went down with liquified cheese in his eyes. It streamed down his face, so he didn't see Philippe and another steward. The three went down in a spectacular tangle.

Trip and Johannes were the first to rush the doors into the kitchen. Chef glanced up from his stove and screamed as he saw Cunningham, "Traditore! Perché? Perché?"

"Mi dispiace, Chef," Cunningham told him with a rueful shake of his head, as he nailed Chef with some marshmallow fluff.

Trip and Johannes reached the pantry door. Trip yanked it open as Johannes hung back to protect him. There, amid the cans of vegetables and sacks of rice, sat Malcolm Reed as he held an icepack to Captain Archer's head. Luckily, Jon was conscious and talking; Trip had been really worried about the wallop from the frozen turkey. Those things really packed a punch.

"You okay?" he asked them. "Cap'n-?"

"I'll be all right. Luckily, it was just a glancing blow, Trip...otherwise, I'd be in a lot of trouble." Archer sighed and rolled his eyes. "Thanks."

"It was Johannes's idea," Trip pointed out. He tried not to snicker at the orange-and-white uniform that Malcolm wore, or the festive greens that adorned Jon's shoulders like some kind of twisted cape. "Lemme get Phlox in here..." He glanced at Johannes, who relayed the message to Antoine.

"Ensign Birkenwald?" Malcolm called.

"Sir?"

"Good work, Ensign."

Johannes flushed crimson, but replied, "Thank you, sir." He fled into the kitchen.

"Remind me to give Johannes and Bernhard a commendation," Malcolm said wryly. "Strategic outflanking your enemy with squirty cheese. I should incorporate that into our tactical maneuvers."

Trip eyed Malcolm warily; the Armory officer's voice was so deadpan that Trip wasn't sure whether or not he was joking. Then Trip caught the twinkle in Malcolm's eye and they all burst out into relieved laughter.

The Great Mess Hall Skirmish was over.

*****

Personal Log of Charles Tucker the Third:

Phlox, Crewman Cutler and Lieutenant Soriano managed to revamp the Toranian flu vaccine to match the virus's strange mutation. Within twelve hours, my staff was feeling a lot better, including Thera Maldonits and Jerzy Nietsa. Poor Bernhard got a lump on his head during the charge; he tripped over Crewman Castagna when he was hit with the sauce. He's in Sickbay for observation. Glad I'm not around to deal with a cranky Bavarian.

Chef slept off the hangover and he was mortified at his behavior and what had happened to his domain. Antoine and Ryan employed a volunteer clean-up crew and the Mess Hall was back in business in time for the late-dinner crowd.

Hoshi erased the last lingering traces of the subroutine that's been relaying T'Pol's entries to the general public. We still don't know who did it...but we've all agreed not to let T'Pol know about this...uh...incident. She'd be embarrassed as anythin', not to mention a mad Vulcan is not a good thing.

I've quit seein' weird green fuzz on the walls after a solid six hours of sleep. Whatever that alcoholic stuff is, I'm not gonna touch it again with a ten-foot-pole. Not worth the trouble.

*****

The doorchime rang and Trip called, "Come on in."

Travis poked his head into the room. "You okay, Commander?"

"I'm better. C'mon in, Travis."

The helmsman sighed and passed Trip a PADD with information on it. "Looks like our suspicions were correct. There was a small radiation leak on the Magdalene that affected the bottle of ale and the case of Denobulan aperitif. It changed the chemical content of the drinks to the point where half a glass made you drunk."

"And combined with the virus that was mutated by the power generators on Torinia, we had one heck of a crisis on our hands," Trip murmured. "Accordin' to Phlox, the virus affected people's thought processes, and adding alcohol to the mix made things worse. What a mess."

"Yeah." Travis sat back and shook his head. "I'm glad no one got killed or seriously hurt-"

Trip shook his head and chuckled. "The Cap'n nearly got brained by a frozen turkey. He might object to that."

Travis managed a weak smile, but it didn't reach his eyes. Trip dropped the humor as he reached over and put a hand on Travis's arm. "Look, it wasn't your fault. You didn't know that the ale had been contaminated. We had no idea that half the Engineering department would be laid low by a kids' disease, and we didn't know that Denobulan Culture Night would lead to a loopy crew that started a food fight in the Mess Hall."

"Yeah, but-"

"No buts, Travis. And we manage to solve the problems. Malcolm's looking at those weird power readings to see if he can put up some countermeasures to 'em. No one got killed, and no secrets got out...unless you speak fluent Vulcan, which consists of T'Pol and Hoshi right now."

"You planning to tell T'Pol about this when she gets back?"

Trip pulled a face. "Are you kiddin'?"

"Didn't think so."

"So ease up, Travis. It'll be okay."

"I guess. Thanks, Commander."

"No problem. Get some rest, all right?"

After Travis left, Trip sat back in his chair and rubbed his temples. Maybe I ought to go and grab something to eat, then hit the sack. Then he smiled ruefully. I think I'll skip the spaghetti and the turkey-and-cheese sandwich, though.

*****

Present Day:

T'Pol cocked her head and raised an eyebrow at Trip as he finished the story. "I am...gratified to hear that the crew is recovering from this incident."

"Yeah, so am I. It could've been a lot worse, though looking back on it, it's kinda funny."

The corner of her mouth twitched once, then she sternly regained control. "And Ensign Sato has eliminated all traces of the subroutine that interfered with my personal computer?"

"Yeah. We still don't know who did it; Hoshi said whoever it was probably feels embarrassed and guilty about their little prank. She also figured it was an accident and not meant to be deliberate, since there seemed to be a randomizer within the program. It just happened to pick your computer."

"That would assume who did such a thing would be skilled in computer coding and language."

"Yeah. Hoshi said she doesn't think it'll happen again."

"I am confident that Ensign Sato is correct. Alcoholic beverages tend to lower inhibitions and promote behavior that are not usually sanctioned."

"Uh...sometimes."

"I am grateful for your honesty, Commander, no matter how...uncomfortable...it may be."

Trip blushed slightly. Coming from T'Pol, it was a compliment of the highest order. It had taken them months to learn how to be honest with each other, especially after the Xindi mission. Yet those events had served to help bond them closer together.

"Thanks, T'Pol."

She nodded and gracefully got back to her feet. There was a twinkle in her eye that hadn't been there before. "I shall see you tomorrow at the usual time, then. There are some issues I would like to discuss with you."

"Issues?" He frowned. "What issues?"

"Ones that were brought up by my cousin, she who recently became married to her bondmate. It is rather complicated." She inclined her head. "But I cherish your opinions and your honesty."

I'll be damned. She's never said it quite that way before. He fought to keep a straight face. "Sure. I'd be willin' to hear you out, T'Pol. Till tomorrow, then?"

"Until tomorrow. Good night, Trip." She nodded and left the room.

I wonder what all that's about. He shook his head and looked over at his computer, which was still awaiting his input after all this time. Trip had forgotten it was still on recording mode. Aloud, he mused, "I guess the five words shouldn't be 'Sir, we have a problem'. In this case, it should be 'Problem? I'm really not sure'."

The End?...for now...

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trekwriter151

May 2012

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