SOMETHING SMELLS FISHY
Artwork (c) 2002 by Eduardo. All Rights Reserved.
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Paris awoke to two things the next morning, neither of them pleasant. The first was the snarl of the alarm buzzer. The second was--no doubt about it--a bad case of bad breath from Chakotay.
Groaning at the first and coughing from the second, he shut off the alarm. Chakotay looked up and smiled at him. "Hello, darling!" he said and reached to kiss Paris.
Oh, jeez! "Uh, honey, not right now." he said desperately.
"What's wrong?" Chakotay asked.
"Well, darling..." Paris leaned in closer and Chakotay backed away.
"Whew!" Chakotay said.
"What?" Paris said, cupped his hand over his mouth and nostrils and exhaled. "Whew!" he said. "It's both of us!"
"Beats me!" Paris said. "Smells like rotting fish! Phew! Honey, what have we done to ourselves?"
"Must have been the kelp dish." Chakotay said.
"Not-quite-kelp." Paris said, blew his breath on himself again, choked. "Yep, definitely. I recognize it now. Quick, dear, to the toothbrushes!"
A modern implement which had acquired the old item's name, Paris and Chakotay shared the bathroom basin and wielded them over their teeth.
Chakotay finished first. "Better?" He said and exhaled at Paris.
Paris gagged. "Not a bit!"
"We'd better talk with the Doctor." Chakotay decided. "Could be food poisoning."
"Maybe, but hadn't...*BURP!*" Paris sad.
Chakotay waved the air in front of him. "Man, that was worse than the breath!" he said.
"Sorry, dear." Paris said. "We'd better speak to the Doctor."
"Let's get dressed and...*BRACK!*" Chakotay said.
"Yes, let's." Paris said. "In the meantime, forgive me for not looking right at you. It's not the sight of your face I'm having trouble with right now."
"The feeling is very mutual."
Clothed, they commed the Doctor. "Yes, Commander." he asked with his usual lack of benevolence.
"The Lieutenant and I seem to have had...*B-R-R-R-R-R!*" Chakotay said.
"With bad breath." Paris said emphatically. "Those odd weeds we picked up at our last stop. *BU-U-U-URP!* It's getting worse!"
"Yes, the senka plants." the Doctor nodded. "They do produce a certain amount of intestinal effluence, but as long as you ate them with the leola root soup, you should be fine."
"With the soup?" Paris asked in sudden horror.
"Yes, that's why they were packed into the same containers. Don't tell me you separated them?"
"*BELCH!*" Chakotay said.
"Oh, dear!" the Doctor said. "Well, there is no real harm in what you two are going through even though it's not socially acceptable, so to speak. When did you eat them last?"
"Last night. About--BR-R-R-R-R!--about 1800 or so." Paris said.
"Then it's too late for an oral counter-medication." the Doctor said. "The senka juices are already coursing through your bodies. And without the Sickbay resources, all we can do is treat the symptoms. I suggest you replicate some breath mints, some anti-gas pills and some anti-flatulence drugs."
"Replicate?" Paris asked.
"Flatulence?" Chakotay asked.
In chorus they belched mightily with a *BRAP!* from Paris and a *U-R-R-R-R-P!* from Chakotay.
"Yes, replicate some anti-flatulence medication such as Verizene-12. Or hasn't the flatulence begun yet?"
"Not yet." Paris said.
"Well, I'm sure it will shortly. About six hours of that and you'll both be fine. Doctor out."
Paris looked at Chakotay. "Replicate? With what?"
Chakotay sighed. "I'll authorize an advance on your rations for you if you'll replicate for both of us. I don't have authority for myself."
"Darling, you have got yourself a deal!" Paris said. *P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P!* And it wasn't his mouth this time.
"And so it begins. Make us some odor-neutralizer while you're at it." Chakotay held his nose while he punched in the combinations on the computer.
"Hurry up!" Paris said nasally (he was holding his own nose). "I feel another one coming on, and it's even bigger!"
This has to be the most unromantic day of my life! Paris thought as he set up the odor- neutralizer by hanging it from the center of the ceiling. As the sensor in it picked up the trace amounts of methane in the air, it would hiss a brief light mist which settled over the compartment. Trouble was, their bodies seemed determined to replenish it as fast as the neutralizer could spray. The neutralizer helped the fight, but wasn't utterly victorious.
By the time breakfast was done, by unspoken agreement, they had resigned themselves to a rather noisy and odorous day, and were ignoring the sounds enamating from their bodies. Their noses, thankfully, had given up the ghost and had shut down all function, so that breakfast tasted like so much cardboard. Given what Neelix's rations usually tasted like, Paris decided, it was probably better that way. And while breath mints had definitely cancelled the bad breath, at least as long as they were sucking on one, the Verizene-12 seemed wholly inadequate to its task so far.
"[belch] What are we going to do today?" Paris asked after they had done the scan and reported to the Captain, by computer input-output only. Fortunately, the Doctor had reported their plight, so she didn't ask any questions about the lack of visual/audio contact from them. The wormhole was larger, but only fractionally so, some eight feet in diameter. Paris thought he could fly the shuttlecraft through it if he had to, but it would be a desperation gambit. But it was growing, and perhaps in a few days' time, could be large enough to navigate if necessary.
"We could [belch] set up the second probe." Chakotay suggested. "Have it [wind] ready to fire when we reach the wormhole two days from now. [wind]
"All right [belch]." Paris said. [wind] "You get another copy of the [belch] personal messages ready for us." [wind]
"And I'll turn the ventilators up another notch." [wind]
"I've already turned them up to maximum." [wind]
[belch] "Oh, yeah."
[belch and wind together]
"Maybe if I replicated another odor neutralizer and we both hung them from our butts, it would help?" Paris speculated.
"I doubt it." Chakotay said. "Pass me another breath mint."
"Take the roll. If I eat another one of them, I'm going to throw up. Which might be an improvement on the smell in here."
Separated by the five feet between the conn and the station where Paris worked, it did seem that the odor neutralizer did a better job, and he kept a constant selection of loud music playing to help with the sound effects. Paris reached the same point he had the day before where Chakotay had held the panel for him and he looked at the time. "Time for the next scan and report to the Captain." he said. "Dare we try a voice communication this time?" He had to repeat and shout it to Chakotay.
"No!" was Chakotay's brief and sufficient answer.
Paris waited until he ran the scan. Heavy rock music was ear-splitting, but they had tried softer music, only to find their own noises insinuating themselves into the sound tracks, distorting their love of the music. And with the guitar riffs, Paris had trouble guessing which was on the audio and which was coming from the man he loved. Which was a good place to leave it.
Done, Paris shouted. "How big is the wormhole radius?"
"Twelve feet!" Chakotay answered. "Rate of expansion seems to be increasing!"
"Great! I could fly the shuttle into that if we had to." Paris said. "Still dangerous, but no longer suicidal. Tell the Captain I said that."
"I will." Chakotay said, as he leaned to one side for an obvious reason. Paris closed his eyes. Would he ever see Chakotay the same way again? Talk about killing the romance!
After a time, Chakotay shouted to him. "Captain says when it reaches fifteen feet, we have her permission to enter the wormhole if we consider it adviseable."
"How far away is the first probe from it?"
"It'll be ready to enter the wormhole tomorrow at 1500 hours!"
"Great!" Paris said. "Let's launch this one so it'll arrive exactly twenty-four hours later."
"That'd be 2000 hours."
"It'll be ready. Almost ready now. Same self-destruct on this one?" That was what had delayed the first probe's launch by nearly three hours, reprogramming it for the multitude eventualities for a self-destruct auto-sequence.
"Not necessary. We'll recall it if the first probe self-destructs. Can't waste the probes, hard to replicate new ones."
"All right." Paris said. "Nearly lunch time."
They ate at separate stations, but Paris could tell that his symptoms were diminishing. He would go nearly five minutes between belches and almost fifteen between bursts of flatulence. By 1500, he decided, he and Chakotay could talk to each other again.
His timing was right. At 1500, he killed the music and in the sudden silence, he and Chakotay looked at each other. "Nothing out of me for a while." Paris said.
"I'm not so fortunate." Chakotay said. "But if I hear any more of that so-called music, I'll go insane."
"I'll risk softer music if you'll try to keep the sound-effects down." Paris said.
"Deal." Chakotay said.
"Computer, Beethoven's 'Pastorale.'" Paris said. "I'll run a confirmation check on the probe. That'll chew up another hour."
Through the "Pastorale" and through Bach's "Toccata and Fugue", they worked at their separate stations. That took them to 1730 and Paris risked going to Chakotay's station. "Better now, darling?"
"I think so." Chakotay said.
"My nose committed suicide." Paris speculated. "Both passages completely clogged. Maybe a cold virus of some sort, but under the circumstances, I was happy to have it."
"Lucky you." Chakotay said. "Mine never quit trying."
"The nose of a Maquis leader." Paris said, grinned. "Time for the scan and an actual conversation with the Captain."
"You do the scan." Chakotay said. "If we need the third probe, the grease is on me."
"Thanks." Paris said. The sonic shower couldn't quite cut the grease, he still felt a bit slimy from the double-dose he'd received over the last two days. He'd take another shower before bed, or before anything else they might do.
He ran the scan, comprehensive picked up Voyager's warp signature. Did they have their drive operational again? No, it was gone. Just a test firing of some sort. He didn't bother with the selective scan, just switched to the probe's sensors. "Up to thirty-eight feet in diameter." He said, impressed. "And it's moved closer to us. Probe will be ready to enter tomorrow morning at 0200 hours. We'll reach it in two more days ourselves if it keeps moving this direction."
Chakotay groaned. "We'd better plan on a nap if we're going to monitor the first probe."
He didn't state the obvious, an unstable wormhole was useless. But its movement had been minor so far, less than a light year. In their early stages, wormholes made such minor adjustments as they grew. And the increasing size meant further range, enough to get it past the galaxy's central black hole and into the Alpha Quadrant. Or out into the space between the galaxies instead, he admitted.
"And we'd better go ahead and launch the second probe." Paris pointed out. "Wouldn't hurt to have the third one ready."
"Let's talk with the Captain."
Janeway agreed with Paris. "Go ahead and launch, and prepare the third probe. I'll get all available hands on the warp drives. Has the wormhole's movement changed?"
"Running another scan now." Chakotay said. A brief pause. "No, still heading toward us. Course and speed relatively constant."
Janeway grimaced. "If the wormhole leads to the Alpha Quadrant and you two are the only ones who can use the wormhole to return home, I expect you to do so. Ensign Kim, prepare a comprehensive database of all information on the Delta Quadrant and send it to the shuttle. Include our planned course and course changes since last contact."
Paris gulped. "But Captain, what about the rest of you if we do?"
"We'll manage without you, and you can be liaisons with Starfleet, tell them our capabilities and what our probable actions would be."
"With me in New Zealand and Chakotay along the Cardassian border or in prison beside me?" Paris said. "Out of the possible crewmembers to send back to Starfleet, Chakotay and I aren't the top of the list. We're not even on the list."
"We'll worry about that if it happens." Janeway said. "If you have to represent us from your jail cells or from a Maquis base, I expect you to represent us."
"Agreed." Chakotay said quickly.
"We're preparing a pretty big banquet here and don't even know if anyone's going to show up." Paris pointed out.
"Contingency plans, Lieutenant." Janeway said. "You may need to act fast, and I expect you to have no doubts about your course of action."
"Aye-aye, Captain." Paris said.
"I'm ordering Paris to rest under a somatic device until 2000, then I'll do the same until the probe approaches the wormhole." Chakotay said.
Paris looked at Chakotay, surprised. The somatic device put a person to sleep by brute force. Useful under some occasions, it was hardly blissful slumber, more like being hit by a phaser set on heavy stun. "Is that an order, Commander?" he asked.
"Yes." Chakotay said.
"So much for the Klingon warlord story for another day." Paris said.
"How long does it take to tell it?" Janeway asked, then caught herself.
"Captain, it is a most involved and wonderful plot. While I blush at telling my captain, I suggest you question Jenny Delaney, the last person who has played this particular game. As for the Commander, I refuse to divulge the ultimate Paris love secret until such time as my explanations permit a playing out of the scenario. It's my best move, and not to be wasted on casual chit-chat."
"I think I've been out-maneuvered." Chakotay speculated. "Or am I being punished?"
"Merely out-ranked in this one field, Commander." Paris said. "Besides, today was hardly conducive to romantic interests."
"And tomorrow will be even less so." Janeway agreed. "Sorry, fellows, but duty comes first."
"Always, Captain." Paris saluted her.
"I'll shower again to get the last of the grease off of me, and you prepare the somatic device." Paris said.
"Yes, sir." Chakotay saluted him.
"Now, don't sulk." Paris said. "I have to keep your interest up some way."
"Learned a lesson or two from Megan MacGruder?"
"Only thing I have gotten out of her." Paris agreed as he stripped off his clothing. After the sonic shower and a thorough going-over with his "toothbrush", he lay on the bed and let Chakotay place the somatic device, a metal device shaped like a woman's hair-band, looked up as Chakotay reached for the activation pad.
"Good night darling." Paris said.
"Good night." Chakotay said as his hand reached the activation pad.
A pounding headache was his next sensation. "...you." he said, and reached for his head, his hand clashing with Chakotay's as he removed the somatic device. "Oh, that smarts!"
"I love you, too." Chakotay said. "Recover a moment, while I get ready for bed. It's 2000 hours."
Paris sighed, looked at the ceiling as his headache rapidly went away. It felt so very much like being sucker-punched!
He rose up as Chakotay finished his preparations for bed. "You know, dear, between the bad breath, belches, farts, wormholes and probe preparations, you and I never even kissed today."
"Let's take care of that right now." Chakotay said and stepped over. They embraced, and when Paris' hands wandered, Chakotay caught him quickly. "I'd better rest. We can't count on any rest once the probe enters the wormhole."
"But I'm horny!" Paris whined.
"So talk to Mr. Hand about that." Chakotay rebutted.
"I could always molest you after I activate the somatic device." Paris said.
"You could." Chakotay admitted. "Robert often woke me up that way."
"Well, Robert was a smart man." Paris said, ready for this conversation at last. But he shuddered at it being their only conversation in this brief hiatus of sleep periods.
"I thought about it, myself, watching you sleep. Did you know you had an erection the entire time you were under the device?" Chakotay said.
"I'm not surprised. No outlet all day long, remember." Paris sighed in relief.
"The wormhole statistics are on the computer screen, but really, it hasn't changed course and speed at all. Original projections still apply. Size has increased to twenty-five feet radius." Chakotay said. "If it continues to grow, Voyager can enter it when she arrives in six more days."
"What am I supposed to do while you're asleep?" Paris protested.
"You can finish the third probe." Chakotay pointed to it lying on the table. Paris had seen it, but with his work on the second probe all day, had ignored its presence. "I did what I could on it while you slept, but it needs to be finished up. I even left all the personal data transferral for you on your shift. Kim intends to send the data dump to us at 2200 hours."
"Well, it was a fun vacation while it lasted, Chakotay." Paris said. "Time to earn our keep."
"Put the device on me." Chakotay said as he lay back.
Paris hooked the somatic device over Chakotay's forehead and said. "Ready for beddy- bye, dearest?"
"Ready as anyone can be for being slugged in the head." Chakotay nodded.
"One kiss before I hit the button." Paris said. He reached for Chakotay's lips and they kissed. Paris wanted more than anything to let his hands wander down and turn this into lovemaking. Instead, as Chakotay's lips increased their urgency and an arm reached up to envelop Paris, Paris activated the device, and Chakotay's arm fell, his hand slapping Paris' back limply, and falling to the side like warm molasses.
"Sweet dreams, dear." Paris whispered, looking at the peaceful face. And he turned to the probe. Chakotay had nearly finished it. Only a few more control panels to insert and he would be ready for the computer work. And his day, which had begun in noise both obscene and loud, ended in utter silence as he worked quietly to ready the third probe. They wouldn't fire it at all unless the wormhole in fact led to the Alpha Quadrant.
And somehow he felt more and more certain that this one did. Why did the thought of that only fill him with foreboding? And why did he feel that this wormhole only carried bad things for him if it did? He'd had feelings like these before, and they hadn't let him down yet.
"Something smells fishy in the Delta Quadrant." he muttered as he worked. "And it isn't the senka plant we had for supper last night."
END OF DAY 6
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Shuttle Trip, Day 7