o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
"And if he wakes up," [Jonathan] added in a considerably
lighter tone of voice, heading for the door, "tell him that the blue monkeys still fly at midnight."
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
"Hey! Hey, Lieutenant!"
Charles "Trip" Tucker" stopped at the yell, groaned inwardly and turned around. It was Her
again. She of the loud voice and impossibly louder temper, She who grated every nerve that dared remain in his poor, frazzled
She was also his senior and commanding officer.
"Commander," he said through a fake grin and even more fake genial expression. "What can
I do for ya?"
Fiona Derry scowled as she got closer. Trip Tucker was not the sort of man she liked on her
teams. Trip Tucker seemed to think that work included generous amounts of time spent regaling colleagues with insipid imitations
of various high ranking officers, she being one of the most prominent features. Trip Tucker's inebriated Southern accent and
devil-may-care manner was going to be his downfall and she damn well wanted to be there to see it happen. "Lieutenant," she
repeated, approaching him, making the most of her five-eleven frame, "where exactly do you think you are going?"
"Home, ma'am," Trip said, emphasising his accent to the point of intense personal pain. It
was Her biggest weakness. "Ya see, ah got -"
"Mister Tucker," Fiona said menacingly, "I couldn't care less if you had the Dalai Lama,
the Pope and the head of the Church of England sitting in your living room ready and waiting with tea and biscuits. You are
getting back in there and sorting out the problem that you - yes, you - caused. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, ma'am," Trip replied curtly. "D'ya want me to spit-shine your boots as well?" he muttered
darkly as he walked past her, in the opposite direction to the one he had previously been going.
Fiona's eyes flashed. "What did you say, Lieutenant?" she asked incredulously. Nobody answered
back to her, nobody at all. Especially not young upstarts like this one was turning out to be.
"Nothin', not a thing, ma'am," Trip threw back over his shoulder as he disappeared around
a corner. "Y'evil witch."
One of these days, Trip Tucker was going to get was coming to him. For now, though, Fiona
would settle for bouts of public humiliation and donkey work. Repairing the intercommunications grid this evening seemed like
a good way to kick-start her weekend. The whole of Lunar Base knew not to mess with Ms. Derry, and this young hotshot would
learn the same as well, given enough time. She couldn't care less if Lieutenant Tucker had been sent to her with nothing but
the highest recommendations for his engineering and technical abilities. He wouldn't get within a light-year of her warp engine
specifications if she had her way.
Trip scowled to himself as he settled into what promised to be a full night's work. According
to the chronometer, it was twenty-one hundred now and this work could take more than six hours... if he worked quickly. Starfleet
Command had recommended him to Lunar Base because of his knack of getting any piece of equipment to sing his tune; from the
warp three engines currently making the rounds to the most basic of everyday items, like padds and comm systems. He had also
been assured that in time he would get a look at the fabled warp five engine specifications and prototypes, but Derry was
a law unto herself in this place. Whatever she said went. And she clearly wanted Trip out of here, even if she never said
so in so many words. But the intent was as clear as crystal.
Reaching for the nearest scanner to him, Trip grinned suddenly. He had plenty of ways to
pass the time, while still getting the work done. And there were even more ways of not getting found out about any of it,
either. He recalled a vital piece of information an old drunk continually looking for conspiracy theories had given him a
long time ago.
"Keep yer friends close," the old man had wheezed, stinking of alcohol, "but keep yer enemies
even closer. Tha's the only way yer ever gonna kick the crap out of them, m'boy!"
Well, Trip amended. He wasn't exactly going to kick the crap out of Commander Derry, per
se, but metaphorically speaking, well... who knew what could be achieved? He knew just how to get up her nose, and even better
- he knew how to engineer the situation so that nobody could be blamed, least of all himself, which was arguably the most
"Live long and prosper, Mister Tucker," he said to himself with a smile, a plan forming in
his head. "God knows ya gonna need to once she gets through with ya."
And it wasn't even as if the glitch in the communications grid was his fault anyway. Well,
not entirely. In the two weeks that Trip had been at the base, he had become pally with a demure engineer named Lisa Summers.
The two of them shared the same wicked sense of humour, and had become rather informal during on-duty hours, and it was as
a result of the pair of them doing their now famous routine of Derry and her husband (probably a thing of complete myth) that
one of the ensigns had been laughing so hard that she had forgotten to check the final conduit in her section, and as a result,
all the communications channels had been filled with fizzling and static for the best part of three hours. Derry, quite naturally,
blamed the whole thing on Trip, and he refused to let anybody else share the blame, least of all Lisa, or the ensign, someone
called Hess. And now Trip was going to get some well-earned revenge, on behalf of not only himself, but also his little team
in the bowels of Lunar Engineering.
And who said sadism was dead?
o o o o o
Fiona Derry had other things to think about than engineers who clearly thought that they
were the bees' knees, as her grandmother so delicately put it. One of the pilots from the first warp two programs was stopping
by the base for reason or reasons unknown. Either way, Fiona was determined to make an impression with him. There was rumour
spreading that he was going to be up for a captaincy in the next four or five years, and she wanted away from lunar bases,
from padd pushing admirals with time-consuming agendas, and most of all, she wanted away from Charles Tucker the Third, the
bane of her working life.
And Commander Jonathan Archer, son of the famous Henry, might just be the answer to all her
prayers. He had arranged to meet her at twenty-one thirty in the cramped little cafeteria area adjacent to the engineering
department - her department.
Still fuming over Him, Fiona stormed into the cafeteria, only to find Jonathan watching her
with an amused look on his face, and two steaming mugs on the table in front of him. Relaxing slightly, she allowed herself
to smile as she slid into the seat opposite him and held out a hand. "Fiona Derry," she said, sliding back into her native
Irish accent with ease. If He ever found out about it, she knew she would never hear the end of it.
"Jonathan Archer," he replied, shaking her hand. "I took the liberty of getting you some
coffee," he said, indicating a mug. "I wasn't sure what you'd like."
"No - coffee's fine," she breathed, taking a sip and nearly recoiling. For a start, it was
black and no way was there enough sugar in there for her liking. "Lovely," she lied, wrapping her hands around the warmth.
Okay, so the drink had one redeeming feature, even if it did taste like tritanium alloy that had been left in vacuum for too
long. Warmth was good.
Jonathan leaned forward in his seat and began to talk about his father's designs for a warp
five engine that Starfleet had finally decided to pursue seriously. Warp three was all well and good, but if Earth was going
to have a flotilla of homemade starships, higher barriers had to be reached whether the Vulcans liked it or not. Tech talk.
This was something Derry could do, and the pair quickly became engrossed in conversation, both unaware of the squeaking noises
emanating from the comm panels in the room.
The same squeaking noises were echoing throughout the base, although for the most part they
were ignored, except down in Engineering, where Trip Tucker was slowly and patiently working his way through what appeared
to be a major meltdown of the communications grid, and now that it had been scanned thoroughly, the six hours of work that
he had anticipated had now been cut down to just two.
Those two hours were almost up, and there were just a couple more things left to do. Neither
of them had anything to do with the repairs, although they still required a certain amount of skill, finesse and sheer luck
to pull off successfully. He had the first two down pat, although the vocal moderators had proved trickier than he'd originally
thought. Now it was just luck he needed. He went over to a computer console and checked for Derry's location. A few seconds
later, he learned she was in the cafeteria with a single other person. Trip grinned when he realised who his dear commanding
officer was with.
"Fun fer all the fam'ly," he said to nobody as he set the first part of his plan in motion.
He now had just five minutes to get down to the cafeteria to watch the fireworks fly.
o o o o o
The familiar hiss of doors behind her told Fiona that somebody else had entered the small
cafeteria, but she didn't bother turning around to see who it was. It was unlikely to be anybody she knew, although Jonathan
was already looking over her shoulder to see who the new arrival was. It was unlikely to be anybody he knew, but she refused
to make the judgement.
"Jon?" The voice behind her was both amazed and disbelieving, and Fiona blanched as she realised
who it was.
"Hey, Trip," Jonathan replied, confirming all her worst fears. "Come on, have a seat. I haven't
seen you in ages."
"Been keepin' busy," Trip replied amiably as he sat down next to Fiona. "New boss is a real
"Finished already, Lieutenant?" Fiona enquired, her 'work voice' firmly back in use, and
out of the corner of her eye she caught Jonathan giving her a strange look.
"Yes, ma'am," Trip answered. "Wasn't as bad a cock-up as ya made it out to be, though. I
was finished in a couple hours."
"That's good to hear," Fiona replied through gritted teeth. Why, oh why did he have to be
here at nearly midnight? Why couldn't he just go home, like normal people did when their shifts ended?
"Do you two know each other?" Jonathan asked curiously.
"Yup," Trip said, casually. "She's mah new boss."
"Oh," was Jonathan's surprised reply. The three quickly lapsed into an uncomfortable silence,
which was only broken by a cool female English voice over the comm system;
"Attention all hands, this is a brief message to inform you all that the intercommunications
grid has been repaired and is now fully functional. Any extra requests can be made via Commander Fiona Derry, who will grant
special favours if told that the blue monkeys fly at midnight."
The comm cut off. Both men in the cafeteria struggled to hide their grins as Fiona's face
slowly turned pink, then red, then an interesting shade of purple all in the space of about thirty seconds.
"Blue monkeys?" she asked Trip, standing up. "Blue freaking monkeys?"
"Ma'am?" Trip asked, the perfect picture of confused innocence
Fiona shot Him a glare that could melt steel. "I'll show you blue monkeys. Lieutenant," she
said. "I'd run quickly if I were you because otherwise I'll have your arse kicked out of here so fast you won't know what's
Trip looked incredulous. "All due respect, Commander, ah didn't do anythin'," he insisted,
standing up and standing his ground. "Last time ah checked, ah did not sound like some old doozy from Europe or wherever!"
"He's right, you know," Jonathan added. Both Fiona and Trip turned to glare at him. "Shutting
up," he said hurriedly. Let them fight out the Battle of the Titans, or whatever it was that Trip had managed to get himself
into this time. He was only a concerned friend, after all.
"Three," Fiona hissed. Trip didn't move. "Two... " Definitely a twitch there. "One... I'd
start running, Mister Tucker. There's only so many hiding places on this moon, and I've been here a lot longer than you have."
Trip shot a look to Jonathan, who shrugged helplessly.
Then the lieutenant ran for the doors.
Three seconds later, Derry was right behind him. She was going to make Him pay for this.
Chasing the twit around the base for a while couldn't hurt anybody.
So much for a good start to the weekend.
Trip Tucker was a dead man, and she damn well wanted to be there to see it happen.