Pretty Lady Marmalade!
1,181 words; about a 6 minute read
Ninety-Nine Bottles of Swill
Location: Station Commander's Office
If it was not his operas, it was something else blaring and blasting, echoing through the hollows of the old communications relay station. Lieutenant Commander Brott was known for his elaborate mannerisms, his avant-garde attitude, the flamboyance of his decorative tastes, and his flare for the dramatics. He lacked subtlety; the concept of quiet and mundane was as foreign to him as a Delta quadrant species.
"Itchi gitchi ya ya da da!" the Bolian could be heard from Ops all down the corridors a good way. The station had great acoustics if you wanted to hear a Bolian sing. Many did not. He had been playing "Lady Marmalade" since receiving notification that an SS Orange Marmalade would be dropping off supplies, and something even better, a new member of the crew.
Finally, there was someone to take the last bunk in the men's suite. It was a pretty good addition to the crew too by the looks of the man's personnel file. A Communications Systems Technician with years of experience, but not a commissioned officer. It was perfect to see how Brott's young sometimes sarcastic operations ensign would handle being in charge of someone more than twice her age.
Lieutenant Commander Brott had gotten up from his desk, swaying his hips to the beat of the music playing in his office. He made his way towards the replicator. "Mocha Chocolata, ya-ya!" he sang aloud.
The Bellwether's computer cut the music briefly, interrupting with a sound of rejection. "Item not located. Please specify or restate request." The Bolian chuckled at the computer. He knew that his new crewmember would be arriving shortly.
Ford knew it wasn't possible. Sound didn't have the compression and rarefaction needed to be heard in space but he'd swear he heard the Bolian before the airlock had cycled. Was it possible the male Bolian singing voice defied the laws of physics?
It certainly defies the laws of propriety, Ford thought to himself with a grin.
He had to admit through the shrieking that he'd always loved Bolians. They were gourmands and bon vivants without the arrogance and underhandedness of some other species. His own personal whims and fancies weren't so different, even to the extent that he'd found himself going out on a couple of dates with a Bolian woman in his younger days. She had a pleasant disposition but kissing her was like taking an Alaskan king crab leg and shoving it in your mouth shell and all. Had he let that cartilaginous tongue stand between him and happiness? Who knew.
After tracing the source of the sound, he wrapped on the doorframe with his knuckles to try to grab the attention of the performative blue whirlwind. "Commander Brott?"
The blue whirlwind came to sudden pause as he heard his name. "Computer, mute music," he said and immediately focused his attention on the visitor. "Yes, yes. Please come in. May I get you something to drink Chief?" The Bolian knew hospitality well.
Hmm, a drink. Was he on duty? Was Brott? On such a small station was anyone ever truly off duty? Better to play it safe.
"Gimme an Arnold Palmer with a sprig of mint," Ford said as he crossed the threshold. He didn't immediately spot a replicator, so he added, "Or whatever the house special is."
Brott stepped aside to reveal the older replicator. By the looks of it, the replicator was probably first installed decades ago. "It is serviceable," the Bolian station commander commented. "Don't let the looks of the station fool you. She's an old thing, but she's not ready to retire yet." Brott shook his head. "Regardless of what Starfleet says."
He ordered the beverage and handed the glass over to the man. "It takes a little getting used to. Sometimes, the orange juice actually tastes like orange juice if you close your eyes" teased Brott. "The good ingredients are in the cargo holds."
Ford arched an eyebrow, wondering if that was some subtle hint about smuggling. After all, this was just about the perfect place for it. "If I recall the specs correctly, then it can't be holding that many good ingredients..."
"You are correct, there was not that much space for many good ingredients," Brott replied. "The internal specs are probably a bit off. It has been several years since anyone has bothered to do a proper inspection. I had a few bulkheads removed, some things filed done here and there...at the end of the day, we make use of the space we have."
Brott shrugged. "There's more cargo space than there is living space."
"Ooo, now that might be a problem," Ford said, bringing his free hand up to his belly. It didn't take much movement for the fabric to show strain. "I seem to be caught in this spatial anomaly where-" He paused for both dramatic effect and to take a sip of his drink. "-I keep getting larger in the equatorial region. Can't seem to break free of it no matter what I do. So, I find myself taking up more and more living space every year."
"I know the feeling," Brott said patting his barrel chest and gut. "I have the luxury of private quarters. I'm afraid I cannot say the same about your living arrangement. There are two crew suites, each contains three beds. You'll be living with the Security Chief and our Shuttle pilot."
Ford made a thoughtful face, grasping for what he'd read about the crew aboard the Marmalade. "Riehl and... Who's the pilot again?"
"Kostova," replied Brott.
"Kostova," he confirmed with a nod. Ford swirled his drink, watching the tea and lemonade collide. "What's the inside scoop on 'im?"
Speaking my language thought Brott. "Oh he just came aboard a breath ago. He's barely settled in yet. I have not gotten the chance to get to know him yet, but he's human, Hungarian heritage. He brought us an old Exocomp that needs repaired."
Ford didn't even bother to hide his excitement. Excitement should be a source of joy, not embarrassment. "No kiddin'? I've never actually met one before. Always wanted to, though. Exocomps, I mean. Not Hungarian fellas - they're a dime a dozen."
"Well," Brott said. "It will be something for you and Astor to handle, get that Exocomp repaired and functional. It is an older model, doesn't quite have the sentience level as the more recent ones do, but certainly more than a tricorder."
"For a minute there, I wondered if you were talkin' about the exocomp or readin' out of my personnel file," the chief said with a grin.
Brott smiled widely in response to the good humored man. "Chief, I don't think they would call you an older model just yet. You have a few good years of service left in you," the Bolian teased. "I think having an old dog around to teach these new kids some old tricks is exactly what Bellwether has been missing."
"We'll have 'em in shape in no time," Ford winked.