Notes: This is written for August’s “Get Trip Into Trouble Month.” Although this centers on Trip getting into trouble, for some reason, the Muse decided to put this in Travis’s POV. It’s still hilarious, though...a first contact has a rather strange complication.
There are a few literary references in here. Can you find them? :) And I thought that Trip might be a more eclectic comic book collector and not just have issues of Superman.
Trip Gets Stuck
“Get me out of here!”
Travis couldn’t help it; he burst out laughing and couldn’t stop. His knees suddenly went weak and he had to lean on the cave wall to steady himself. The problem was that right next to him was the bottom half of Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker the Third, firmly wedged in a hole in said wall. Trip’s legs flailed about in a useless effort to free himself. Travis knew he shouldn’t laugh at his superior officer’s expense, but it was just hilarious.
“I’m warnin’ you, Lieutenant, say one more word and I’m bustin’ you down to crewman and you’re scrubbing plasma conduits till the cows come home!”
Travis managed to get himself under control. “Sorry, sir. Captain Archer said they’d be here within half an hour. I think I heard Lieutenant Commander Reed saying something about explosives—“
“Malcolm’s gonna try to blast me outta here? Great. ‘Up in the air with the greatest of ease...the engineer goes flying without a trapeze.’” For someone who was wedged tight in the only exit, Trip sounded unusually upbeat. In fact, Travis decided he had a good singing voice, all things considered.
“We can always call the Rataffians to dig you out, sir.”
Trip laughed shortly. “That’d look pretty good, huh? Commander First Contact gets jammed in their emergency exit. ‘Uh, ‘scuse us, I know that we just met you folks, but can you dig me out with those sharp claws of yours?”
“They would, though.” The Rataffians lived within the dark depths of Humara Three. Trip had described them as ‘prairie dogs with faces of moles’, and Travis had thought it was quite apt. Their vision was poor, but they compensated by excellent hearing. When the Rataffians found out Trip was an engineer, they insisted on Trip being Enterprise’s representative instead of Archer. They were elegant builders and their underground cities were not only grand, they were magnificent.
“How can a species of skilled architects build beautiful cities, but have only three exits to the planet surface? And I just manage to pick the one out of the three that collapses around me?”
Travis started at how Trip had picked up on his thoughts. “The Rataffians can tuck themselves into a ball and hurl themselves out, sir. Small holes aren’t a problem for them.”
“I bet Malcolm wouldn’t have trouble getting out of here, then.”
“I think even Lieutenant Commander Reed might have a problem, sir. He’s still more than twice the size of a normal Rataffian.”
“That’s reassuring.” Suddenly Trip laughed again. “Sorry, Travis. It’s just that these things always seem to happen to me.”
Travis silently agreed with him, but knew better than to say it out loud. At least Trip’s mood seemed to lighten a little. “You know, Hoshi might’ve had better luck.”
Trip snorted. “Yeah, but unfortunately, she’s claustrophobic enough that having her down here would be a really bad idea, but at least she was able to be with us via communicator. And if she hadn’t, the cap’n might not have known we were in trouble--“
He heard scraping sounds from outside, then Trip burst out, “Cap’n! Thank God! Can you get me out of here?”
Archer’s voice was reassuring, but Travis knew the captain was barely holding in his laughter. “We’ll get you out of there, Trip. Where’s Travis?”
Travis raised his voice. “Here, sir. I’m all right, just on the other side of the wall.”
Then Malcolm spoke up, “Can you try to push the Commander while we pull him from this side?”
“I can try.” Travis winced as he tried to figure out how he could do that without putting Trip through another round of humiliation. I wonder if regulations have something about pushing your commanding officer out rear-first. Travis settled for putting his hands around Trip’s waist and pushing him that way while Archer and Reed pulled Trip from the other side.
Trip cursed up a blue streak, but he was still wedged in tight. Travis gave up all pretense at being gentlemanly. He said, “Sorry, Commander.” Then he picked up Trip’s flailing legs and tried pushing him out of the hole that way. It didn’t help.
“No good,” Trip gasped. “I’m stuck.”
“Stop, Travis,” Archer said. “We’ll have to think of another way.”
“Reminds me of Winnie-the-Pooh,” came Hoshi Sato’s frustrated voice from the other side of the wall.
“What the hell does Winnie-the-Pooh have to do with this?” Trip demanded.
“Remember, he got stuck in Rabbit’s front door after he ate lunch at Rabbit’s place.”
“I am not staying in here till I lose enough weight for you guys to push me outta here!”
Travis couldn’t help it; he burst out laughing again, and he heard Archer’s loud guffaws and Hoshi’s musical laugh. Travis could imagine Malcolm’s smirk and Trip’s scarlet face. Then he heard Phlox’s voice say, “I suggest we get Commander Tucker out of the opening before his blood pressure rises any more.”
“Permission to use dynamite, sir?” Malcolm asked, and Travis swore that the Armory officer sounded downright gleeful...for Malcolm, anyway.
“Hold on a minute, Malcolm. Let’s try the old pick-and-shovel technique first. I’d like to have my Chief Engineer in one piece.”
“I really do appreciate it, Cap’n.”
“Be careful,” Malcolm warned. “Too fast and we might cause a major cave-in.”
“Travis, can you try digging from that side?” Hoshi asked.
Travis eyed the rock with a dubious look. “I can try, but I’m not sure how much help I can be without tools.”
“Keep an eye on the surrounding area, Lieutenant,” said Phlox, “and warn us if there are any signs of cave-in.”
“Will do, Doc.”
He heard the scrape of blade on rock and a fine powder of dirt rained on him. Travis wiped his face with his sleeve. It was still rather disconcerting to see just the lower half of Commander Tucker stuck in the wall; it looked as if it had just sprouted from the rocks. Maybe it’s good that I don’t have the Commander’s camera right now...
A chittering noise startled him out of his thoughts. Travis jumped as a furry paw brushed against his lower back. He glanced down and saw a groundhog-shaped shadow squatting on the ground at his feet. Carefully, he switched on the UT on his belt and words poured out of it.
“...help, if you would be so gracious to accept it.” Humor seemed to be a universal concept, for the Rataffian seemed to be just keeping himself from rolling on the ground in laughter. “You Tall Ones get yourselves stuck often, hmmm?”
“Actually, it happens far less than you think,” Travis replied. “Commander Tucker has to crawl around some tight spaces on our ship, but he doesn’t usually get stuck like this.”
“It is fortunate, then, for your commander seems to have the worst fortune of anyone I have ever seen.”
Interesting he notices that already, even though we’ve known each other for a little more than twenty-four hours, Travis mused. Aloud, he said, “We can use any help you can offer us, sir.”
The Rataffian looked over his shoulder and shouted something high-pitched that the UT didn’t translate. Archer’s voice called, “Travis? You all right in there?”
“I’m okay, Captain. The Rataffians are going to help dig Commander Tucker out from this side,” Travis said. “If we work from both sides, we’ll meet in the middle.”
Trip raised his voice and said, “Tell the prairie dogs that I’m grateful for their help, Travis.”
A swarm of furry Rataffians slithered past Travis and took up position all around Trip’s wedged lower half. Travis managed to stifle his giggles, for the sight was just ludicrous. Now he wished he had the camera. “All right, we’re ready!”
The Boss (as Travis mentally nicknamed him) gave the order, and the Excavation Crew began using their claws to remove the dirt from around the hole, slowly but surely. The sounds of scrabbling rose up again from Archer’s side. After fifteen minutes, Travis saw the first glimmers of light.
“Almost there!” he yelled. “Just a little more.”
“Careful!” Trip hollered. “I can just barely wriggle my way—“ And Trip began shimming side to side, his legs trying to gain purchase on the slippery dirt. Travis tried to push, while Archer, Reed and Hoshi grabbed Trip’s arms to pull. The Rataffians hissed in encouragement, as inch by inch, Trip began to move, then in one big rush, he flew out of the hole. The rest of the hole collapsed around him, cutting off the light.
“He’s free!” Travis yelled. The Rataffians broke out into squeals and cheers. It went on for several seconds before Travis realized they had another problem. “Now I’m stuck in here.”
He felt the Boss’s paw on his arm. “Not to worry, we will guide you to another exit.” The humor in his voice “One that is more stable.”
“I can deal with that. Lead the way.” The Construction Crew swarmed all around him and gently pushed him farther up the cavern.
“I don’t think I’ll ever live that one down,” Trip said, as Phlox hovered over him with a medscanner in Sickbay. “Thanks, Travis.”
“No problem, sir. I’m just glad things turned out for the best.” He chuckled. “The next time we go underground, we oughta include shovel and picks in our equipment, just in case.”
The Sickbay doors opened to admit Captain Archer, Sub-Commander T’Pol and Hoshi Sato. Trip flushed red when T’Pol just looked at him with calm Vulcan aplomb, but even Travis could see the amusement in her eyes. He was sure that T’Pol had read the “official” first-contact report, but she’d probably heard the unofficial version from the Gossip Grapevine (namely, Hoshi, since Travis hadn’t had the time yet to talk to anyone).
“The Rataffians have sent you a gift, Commander,” T’Pol deadpanned, “in the interest of interspecies friendship.” She handed Trip a package wrapped in soft leather.
“What is it?” Trip asked, genuinely curious. He turned it round in his hands, but there were no identifying marks.
“Open it, Trip,” Archer prompted him.
Trip did so and he lifted out a pair of furry gloves. “Gloves?” he asked, confused. “They gave me gloves?”
“Put them on, Commander,” T’Pol said. “The Rataffians said that their function would be better understood if you do so.”
Mystified, Trip put the gloves on and flexed his fingers. There was the sound of metal and five claws sprang up from slits on the back of each hand. Trip examined them and whistled in awed delight. “Wow. I bet these would be great if I ever got stuck somewhere again.” His grin widened. “These are like Wolverine’s claws!”
T’Pol raised an eyebrow and said, “They do resemble the claws of the Earth mammal.”
Travis grinned as everyone laughed in Sickbay, all but T’Pol and Phlox, who wore identical looks of utter confusion. He wondered if Trip could get them interested in reading some particular issues of Trip’s huge comic book collection.