Monday, October 1, 2012

The Not So Magic Carpet Ride

Arcadia: "The Not So Magic Carpet Ride":

[Somewhere beyond the edge of Federation space...]

The shuttlecraft was a box that sat on two warp nacelles.  Inside the box was seating and stuffed in the back was a chemical toilet currently under assault by a man who had enjoyed himself far too much that evening.  The abuser went by the name of Jon McFerren.

Loudly complaining and slamming the thin wall of the toilet's cubicle was Jon McFerren's wife.  Kate McFerren ravaged her purse, banged the cubicle, screamed at both Jon for his drunkenness and sickness, and at her daughter Lia McFerren.  "Where is my CANDY!"

"If by candy you mean certain pharmaceuticals, they didn't make it here with us.  They are now molecules in space."  Lia McFerren looked up expressionless from her padd.  "I do not wish us to end up in a labor camp."

"The Soberalls?"  Kate gave her daughter the filthiest stink-eye she could muster.

"Soberalls are illegal on 4,546 planets outside the Federation.  We are moving outside the Federation.  Should we cross the territory of one of those planets we could be in danger of falling foul of the law.  So in the name of caution, Jon will have to deal with his hangover in twentieth century fashion."

"Um... 'scuse me..." A plump blond female appeared from an aft section. "You have candy? Would you... um... maybe... that is... Could you possibly share?" She paused. Getting no immediate response, she rambled on: "I have a... a real weakness for sweets. They even call me Sweetie, I love 'em so much. And I have SUCH a sugar craving. I would really like some." She hesitated, then repeated herself. "I would really... REALLY... like some." Her chin tilted downward; a strange look entered her eyes, though she appeared nonthreatening.

"I am sorry."  Lia had a Vulcan tone and no expression.  "There is no 'candy' if I am understanding you correctly, among us.  Nor do we have anything sweet that is edible, although I can assist you with the replicator if you wish it.  It is primitive and has few built-in recipes."

"Silly twit!"  Kate sniffed as Jon exited the bathroom cubicle.

"Give Lia five minutes and she'll make that replicator spitting out five stars.  Don't help us any."  Jon stared at the little blond newcomer rather longer than was polite.

Lia wanted to meditate as she had one hell of a headache, but this stranger seemed a little too Bo Peepish to her.

"Lia, you might want to fix the bathroom."  Jon grinned.

Lia blushed but got up.  She was a pretty fair shade tree mechanic as well as a wizard with holograms and her own invention, the gifgram.  She needed to be, as her parents left a lot of wrecked machinery through her childhood.

"But you said..." The blond gal sighed, deflated, turned away from Kate McFerren, then perked at Lia's suggestion. "Replicated." She wrinkled her nose with another sigh. She cocked her head, backing away from the bathroom, toward Lia. Abruptly she turned and stepped closer to the girl. "Are they are your parents?" she said in a low voice. "They smell funny."

"Yes I...”  Lia spoke as she pushed several buttons and waved a wand at the toilet.  It looked a bit like Starfleet issue had a baby with Klingon and Romulan issue with a touch of Borg.

"Why the hell you all nosy and all?"  Kate was suddenly touching the blond’s shoulder.  "Get away from her right now you..."  Kate was cut off by a happy chime from the toilet.  "Who are you?"  Kate snapped aggressively.

"Aggression is not an ideal approach to problems!"  Nina raised her voice a bit.  She looked worried, her first emotion.  "Sit down Kate!  Please!"

Kate moved closer, touching the other blond breast to breast, her heels giving her the height advantage.

Sweetie seemed unfazed, until, at Kate's proximity, the strange light re-entered her eyes. She put her head forward, sniffed Kate, then jerked back. "Ohhh... that candy." She reached up and touched the older woman's face with her fingertips, applying pressure. "She's right, you know."  Yanking her hand away and stepping back, she jerked her head in Lia's direction. "Dantari operate in these parts. They have a big problem with drugs. A big big problem. They..." She gave an apologetic smile and a head shake. "They don't treat you well, if they find out you got 'em. And my name, honey, is Spice. But my friends call me Sweetie. Can we be friends?" Noticing how Jon was looking at her, she smiled even wider at him.

"I'm open to friendship, although I'd take care with my parents.  They are not proper,"  Lia said.

The older couple looked at each other, then at Lia, then started laughing like hyenas.  The laughter was peppered with comments unfit for decorative ears and some just rancid.  "You birthed a Vulcan!" Jon gasped.

"She's a little moneymaker, or I would have dumpstered her years ago."  Kate chortled.  “Those gifgrams are worth trillions!"

"SHUT UP!  How the hell do you know there's not a cop on board?"  Past her tether, with a throbbing headache, Lia lost her temper.

"Cop on this sack of road apples?" Jon asked.  "You are not only Vulcan but you are paranoid."

"Being paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you," Lia shot back.  "And you two are as discreet as a Klingon opera."

"Klingons are disgusting,"  Kate snapped.

Turning to Sweetie, Lia said, "I'll be eighteen on Earth date April 4th.  Then I can 'play' on my own."

"Don't think about it," Kate snarled.

Their guest watched this go on back and forth, and from the look on her face, realized she had ended up on the wrong shuttle. While the two laughed, she patted Lia reassuringly. "Now now, sweetie. It's okay," she whispered, in an attempt to calm her. At Kate's burst, Sweetie raised her eyebrows. "Oh. Okay." So that's how it was. Over her shoulder she said to Lia, "Want me to... uh..." She stopped. "No... no... Sorry. Better not." Her fingers were twitching, flexing. To Kate, who obviously wore the pants, she said in a direct tone, "Now. Be nice."

Nina began a light trance.  It was a bit of a risk with her volatile parents there; they could get physical.

Kate glanced at her daughter, then at Jon, who made ear points with his fingers and crossed his eyes.  Kate rolled hers.  She then turned toward new prey.  "You look like you got two personalities in your head," Kate suddenly said perceptively.  "You mental?"

Noting Lia's shift in focus, the plump blond woman took a sudden, silent step to Kate, putting both hands on her face.... and Kate found herself unable to move or speak. She was staring into her own face... her own face, staring back at her. And she was immobilized. "Are YOU mental?" she heard herself asking again, in response to her question, in a voice that was hers yet not hers. "That sweet young thing is your child, sister. You should be ashamed." The new Kate eyed Jon. "How about you, sugar?"

Kate's hand clawed out at the other woman in basic instinct and Jon joined in the pounce.  Kate put in a solid upper-cut with a grab of the hair while Jon went for the kneecap.  Kate and Jon were good at mugging and dirty fighting, and this was going to be a beaut.

Up front, a proximity sensor had sounded an alarm. A male voice followed, on the com-system:

"Shuttlecraft, name of Slagg. This is the Dantari Regional Authority. You are harboring a wanted fugitive. Cease your propulsion and prepare to be boarded."

 In a panic, the one known as Sweetie busted loose. "Dantari!" she exclaimed and rushed to Lia, leaving Kate and Jon on the floor. "Lia! Wake up! Make this thing go faster!" She was still in the form of Kate, identical right down to the clothes. She essentially could have been Lia's mother to Lia's viewpoint, if Lia didn't hear the altercation through her trance.

Lia came out of her trance but still in pain.  She went to the pilot's section, and popped off the hatch below the controls where Sweetie couldn't see her easily.  "Found it, if this works..."

Lia took a furtive look at the communicating ship and noted they were legit, and pulled a fast one.  She sent a tiny gifgram to the other ship warning that she was under direct threat and was increasing speed to another warp, please assist -  Lia McFerren.  Sweetie felt the jump, as did the other passengers on the ship, and Lia's padd jumped.  Gifgrams were like holograms but much smaller and tighter.  They were all the rage in the civilian sector.  Lia hoped the cop knew what she did.

The second Kate McFerren moaned and climbed off the floor, rubbing her head, mumbling.  "I need a doughnut."

Lia looked at her with one eye dilated more than the other. "Twigaaa?"  She had cracked her head on the dash hard.

The second Kate/Sweetie looked from Lia to Kate and Jon behind her, back to Lia, and fretted. "Oh dear. Oh dear." Kate number two faded in a mirage into - for just an instant - a hideous, hairy creature with an O-shaped mouth, then the heavy-set blond woman as before. Kneading her forehead with both hands, she grumbled. "Hard to think… If only I had some candy..."

A uniformed body standing before her gave her pause. She blinked at a fearsome alien visage, barely humanoid in appearance: A Dantari enforcement officer.

Others had appeared throughout the shuttle interior. The one nearest Lia promptly ordered her to "Cut your engines. You're under arrest."

Lia did not move.  "Sorall!  No, T'Ran sector isn't."

"Stop your babbling and fix the freaking ship you twit!  You've been off your nut all week," Kate snapped.

"Rlllan.." Lia helpfully replied.

"I dunno Kate, maybe we should talk to T'Ran.  She's flipped her warp drive."  Jon worried.


Todd Smutz: “Sweetie”; Dantari enforcement officers

Sandy Frazier: Kate, Jon, and Lia McFerren

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