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I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes

Posted on Sat Jun 29th, 2024 @ 9:28pm by Commander Lorut Vila & Lieutenant Commander Frasier Greene & Lieutenant S'Tera & Lieutenant JG Aurora House of Kor & Fleet Captain Maxwell Culver

3,391 words; about a 17 minute read

Mission: Silver Rain
Location: Science Labs
Timeline: MD-1, Afternoon

After the briefing, Vila had managed to grab a few hours' sleep, and while she wasn't rested, she was at least a bit more alert and less inclined to snark.

She made her way to the science labs. They were overdue a look see at the spider that had been..."rescued" from Triton, and they had a several days' trip to their next outpost, even at Warp. She believed that idle hands equalled trouble, so she was going to put the Science department (and herself) to work.

She entered the labs, ignoring the chime, and put on her lab coat. It was left over from her own tenure as Chief Science Officer, and it was still uniform code, unless something interesting had happened in the past few months she was unaware of. She slipped on some lab glasses before she hollered.

"Lieutenant S'tera. Get your people together. I need the spider specimen from Triton," she said, heading directly to the specimen room. As XO, she, of course, had access to the codes and rooms, but would allow the Caitian to run her lab, as much as it killed her to not step into the role herself.

Old habits died hard.

"Let medical know we might need them on standby, too, please," she said.

"Things look good here!" She was pleased. Vila had run a TIGHT lab, and S'tera was more relaxed, but did her work and Vila couldn't fault her for that. "We're going to cut open a tarantula today!!" she said, with a delight that was nearly girlish.

"Thank you. I try to run a good department. Interesting. Tarantulas, eh? Interesting. Why? what is the purpose of said tarantula? As CSciO, I am curious."

Max had entered behind Vila, not necessarily one to take part in scientific endeavours. Something told him that his presence was needed today. “Actually, Commander Lorut, it’s still alive and is probably waking up in that box now that you’ve removed it from stasis.

With extreme caution Doctor Greene arrived in the lab behind Max and remained mute and hugged the walls wanting to himself as far away from the specimen as possible. He'd been remarkably relieved he'd been excluded from acquiring the creature in the first place and tried to ignore the knowledge it was still aboard until this moment. He shivered as the other continued to talk.

“Computer, erect a level one biocontainment field a meter in diameter around that science station and a level one forcefield just outside of the biocontainment field; ground to ceiling on both fields.”

"Just because it's still alive RIGHT NOW doesn't mean it will still be alive in a little bit," she said. She stepped back as the shields raised.

Seeing Vila back away as two fields engulfed nearly half the room, Max wanted to smile. “As I recall, these little bastards are nasty when awake and this one is bound to be hungry!” Max offered by way of explanation. “No reason to take risks or have anyone get eaten today,” he added, pulling on a pair of glasses for eye protection.

Aurora walked in, already decked out in her personal lab wear, as she sometimes needed such things when working with the aquatic animals.

"Wowzers! I'd almost forgotten about that thing," Aurora tried not to shiver as she watched it slowly awaken.

The box on the table shook a few more times before the terrible vision on a nearly white spider emerged, shook itself -as if to awaken - and then promptly jumped at the first person it saw. No doubt thinking them prey.

"YIPES!" Aurora yelped, jumping back as the spider attacked.

S'tera jumped a bit herself.

Even Max, with all his rewired brain hadn’t expected that. He jumped back, his arms outreaching to push back any of the others in his area. Fortunately the containment field rejected the advance, depositing the spider on the floor, where the electricity of the static shields seemed to annoy it.

Vila quickly reached for a stun phaser, but wouldn't use it unless it was necessary to do so. She watched the Captain. "Sir, perhaps you should let one of us do this," she said, pointedly. "Dr. Greene won't be super excited about treating you for a deadly spider bite, and Albion would just LOVE the satisfaction," she pointed out.

Mirroring the others Frasier scuttled away from the advancing spider: his noise of fear and panic were masked by the containment field successful halting it.

"Ugh," he managed having heard his name mentioned: "I'd rather see that thing in the vacuum of space than here."

In defence, it began covering its new surroundings in a thick webbing, presumably to protect its highly sensitive feet. Once off the ground, the spider turned to hiss at the scientists and make chittering noises with its ghastly maw.

“Well,” Max exclaimed, his heart still beating rapidly, “I guess we can agree the extra protection from the fields will keep the spider in its temporary home. It’s time for you all to science.”

"Yeah seems so. You okay Aurora? So what are we supposed to do with this thing? Nobody has explained what they want done with this thing."

"Yyes, Ssir. Sheesh, that's sure a scarry little bugger!" Aurora leaned closer to the field, turning her head from side to study the spider.

“Seek out new life and new civilizations, Lieutenant. The hallmark of the Federation tenets,” Max gently reminded them all that just because several people retained a genetic memory fear or sustained a traumatic fright to fear spiders and snakes.

"So break out those new tricorders and last of the new stuff for a few years. Don’t kill it unless you need to,” Max gave Vila a poignant look. “If it gets too spry, trolzine gas will released if the biocontainment is tested too often or breached. Not to mention when you need to return it to stasis.”

“Let’s see if it has a language , then we can begin properly speaking to it,” Max added to his tall order.

"Oh!” Max paused a moment before ending his very long train of thoughts. "I want to know everything necessary to kill it, for that, I’d recommend that holodeck, not the live specimen. I’d rather be ahead of this thing."

"And THAT is why I said to cut it open," she said, pointing at the door. "It's best if you observe from over there," she said.

Max made a face before getting up and moving to stand nearer the door. He crossed his arms at Vila’s insistence on killing the spider.

Still hovering near the exit and looking somewhat uncomfortable Greene glanced at the Captain as he drew closer and tried to shield his displeasure for the specimen.

"Lieutenant S'tera. I presume this is your first time handling something like this? The shields will hold, but if we want to get closer, and we do, we'll need some way to stun it.

“I would, personally, recommend a hypospray administered via particle droplets into the shield's air. What do you think?

"I like the hypospray option best." S'tera responded. "Yes it is my first time. Not my specialty but I can still study this thing. Ought to be interesting.

“Alternatively," she paused, and held out the phaser, "There's this method. Choice is yours. I'll let you take the lead on this," she said. It had once been HER project but given the topic, she really didn't mind passing the buck this once.

"No, we'll stick with the hypospray."

Vila nodded, and handed the woman the hypospray gun. "Alright, Lieutenant," she said. She stood there, as moral support. "Inject 2 ccs into the shield's forcefield directly. That will stun it long enough for us to lift the shield and then localize the shield to a study bed," she instructed. "Since I am not allowed to kill it yet," she said, "I think that will give us the best way to begin a study. Lt. Aurora, can you work with the Captain to set up the electron microscopes? We're going to need a way to focus them on the spider," she said. "Dr. Greene...why don't you return to Medical and we'll call if you're needed." It was more or less an order than a suggestion.

Glancing around the lab Greene felt himself sag with relief at the demand: "Very well," he responded. "Just be careful, please." The Doctor added before leaving.

Vila smiled lightly, but nodded. "Of course," she said. But they all knew that things would fall where they would.

"Yes Ma'am. (So we can't kill it unless it tries to kill us? This otta be fun)" Aurora thought, taking a closer look at the spider's silk.

“You could just release some neurozine gas into the containment field,” Max suggested.

The spider turned its ugly maw at him and chittered. It raised up, much like a tarantula ready to strike. Max could feel its fear. “It’s afraid and I think it knows what I just suggested. It almost stopped following instinct when I suggested putting it to sleep.

“Maybe offer it some food,” he suggested. “I told you it’s probably hungry after being in stasis for months. We can open a small port in the forcefield to let some food be transported through,” he suggested.

Vila nodded. "That's a good idea, as well. Lieutenant?" She asked S'Tera. "What do we have to offer as far as live-feeding options?" The thought turned her stomach, but on the other hand, as a scientist, she knew that such things had to happen sometimes. "That is NOT Romulan flesh, I mean," she clarified. At least currently, they were fresh out of Romulans, and with luck, they'd stay that way.

"Yeah, fresh outta Romulans. Well, we have some small animals. The local equivalent of mice. We could try that. I think this one at least is fairly intelligent. It seems to understand us.”

"Ma'am? Um, I've got some Gagh in my quarters...maybe the spider'll like it?" Aurora poked her nose into the conversation.

"Gagh? Hmm, now that would be interesting to try. Why don't you go get it Aurora and we’ll try some and see how it likes it." S'tera suggested.

Aurora nodded, slipped from the room, grabbed the Gagh, and returned.

"Now, I'm trying to be nice...after not being so, no biting, ok?" Aurora wasn't sure if the spider understood, so she moved very slowly and put the Gagh inside of the forcefield.

Vila smiled. That was it!! She was glad to see Aurora taking initiative. It was a good idea! A bit later, the young woman returned, with the Gagh. Vila handed her a long pair of lab forceps, and let the woman work. "Slowly..." she said, quietly. Finally, the gagh dropped. "Get out!" She yelled.

"With all due respect, Ma'am...please don't do that again. I almost bit my tongue," Aurora asked, placing the forceps on a counter. Aurora looked back at the spider, wondering if it was as intelligent as it appeared to be.

"Sorry," she said, smiling. "I was just needing you to haul your butt quickly," Vila said.

"Yes Ma'am...we still don't know very much about it, so it's" Aurora bit her tongue and mentally face palmed. She'd done it again!

The spider reared up and hissed before grabbing up the live worms with its mouth feelers and feeding them into its mouth. It grabbed the empty bowl and tossed it at the forcefield, shattering it. Almost demanding more.

Max observed the spider with his empathy and the spider seemed to lock in on him. It nearly demanded his attention. He got up and wandered close to the forcefield, moving hypnotically.

"Well whaddya know. I think it likes it. Nice work aurora. Gagh! Who knew? It seems to like it. In fact I think it wants more."

“Go ahead, open the fields. It’s not gonna hurt us,” he said. Far from an order and without his typically carefree intonation.

"Okay, if you say so. Commander, I suggest you have that phaser ready, just in case. Okay, computer. drop forcefields." S'tera said.

Aurora willed herself not to cringe at the shattering bowl.

"[The little guy's just hungry...but for what? Wait a minute...] Um...Captain? Are you okay?" Aurora asked, noting the slight change in the Captain's behavior. While Aurora wasn't as scared anymore, she wasn't exactly ready to have the hangry little thing running about.

"With respect, Captain, we're raising the shields. Lieutenant S'Tera, belay the captain's orders," Vila said. "Lieutenant Aurora, would you please call up Lieutenant Campbell or Commander Lyo? I think the Captain's gone around the bend," she said. "S'Tera, order up more Gagh. Let's try that some more...and then prep the universal translators," she said. She tapped her badge.

S'tera nodded. "Computer restore full shields and bio containment. Aurora, you have any more gagh? If not, I can replicate some."

"Yes, I do, S'tera. I'll go grab it. (Hope we can get some more at the next Starbase). Aye, Ma'am. =/\=Lieutenant Campbell, Commander Lyo, one or both of your assistance is needed in the lab at once!=/\=" Aurora spoke into her combadge.

=/\=Doctor Greene, be on standby to receive the Captain. He's...acting strangely. =/\= Even for him, he was weird. She didn't have time to babysit him while assisting with these experiments. Once she clicked off, she turned back to the women.

=/\=Acknowledged=/\= Greene replied after rolling his eyes at the hail - that man would be death of him.

"What do you think your next steps should be? Personally, I'd try the universal translators, but it's entirely up to you. I'll follow your leads," she said.

"Computer activate universal translator. We want to see if this thing can speak. Or communicate in some way." To the rest, S'tera said, "I wonder if this thing is affecting the captain in some way. Just speculation but considering when the captain started acting funny...."

Vila nodded in agreement. "I agree, Lieutenant," she said. She turned around. "Captain, please wait there. Lieutenant Campbell is on her way up. Maybe she can make hide or hair," she said, sighing deeply. "Ok, let's begin the UT assay." She looked at S'tera. "Begin with a simple phrase. Anything would do," she said.

Max was close enough to reach out and touch the forcefield. A small blue flare occurred where he touched it indicated an electrical discharge. It was enough to break the hypnotic effect.

Max glanced around the room before asking, “What the Hell just happened?” he asked the women gathered.

"Interesting! Seems I was right! Okay, let's try communication. Hello. can you understand me?" S'tera said.

The spider turned and reared up at the interruption, showing long yellow fangs that dripped with a wet, sticky substance that looked a part butter and maple syrup. It was revolting.

Vila's lab glasses were off with a flash. "You need to go if you're going to do things like that," she shouted, in a tone of a voice that indicated she was serious. "Are you trying to kill yourself? There's faster ways," she said. She had been cool to him before, but had never shouted. This was serious, however; as "cool" as it was, these experiments could be deadly if they weren't careful.

Just then, Rena appeared. Vila's gaze flickered to the counselor. "Maybe you can talk some sense into him," she said, and replaced her glasses. "He's messing with the force field. He's lucky that he didn't disrupt it long enough for the spider to escape and kill us all," she said, with a shake of her head. And they said SHE was reckless. What was he DOING?! He wasn't a child. He knew better.

Rena nodded. "Yes, ma'am. Captain, a word, please? In the office..." she said. She turned "on" her mind. Don't make me make this a thing... she warned him telepathically. "Commander, if you don't mind, we'll use your office for a moment. I think it's a temporal disruption of some kind, probably from the stress of the explosions and all..." she lied.

Aurora yelped and backed away from the forcefield.

"Dang, Captain! What the heck!?" Aurora growled, throwing a "You're scary as crap!" looking at the spider.

“It used me,” Max explained. “It used the empathic bond I created and mesmerized me. These things are far more dangerous than we thought. I don’t want any telepathic or empathic crew working near this…thing! Consider that a red alert directive.”

Max didn’t quite feel that was the right terminology. Like he pulled it from a distant memory of the past, or -worse - the future. “Let’s go Rena, before it tries to get into your head next.”

’Rena…Campbell. Maxwell Culver. You would do well to feed a million of my children,’ a sinister voice filled Max’s mind. He turned to see an equal horror on Rena’s face. “Gas that Gods’ damned thing and put it in the deepest stasis with its own, dedicated power cell.

“And if that doesn’t work. Space it!” Max had recovered his wits and left with Rena immediately after issuing orders. He just hoped Vila would realize how serious he was.

Rena nodded, pulling the Captain along. "Maybe we should also have Doctor Greene look at you. Going to need something for the headache," she said, as the pair left the lab. She had felt it trying to probe her head, but luckily, she'd gotten out before TOO much damage could be done. All that would remain was a sore head for a bit.

“Normally, I’d say no,” Max answered, pausing for a moment to gather his own thoughts and close out the intruder entirely. “I think I’ll make an exception to the Captain’s prerogative today and go see Frasier.”

"I already said that," Vila said, frustrated.

Max acknowledged the frustrated tone. “We couldn’t have known these things had that kind of mental capacity,” he told her.

THIS is why these red-shirt types really should just leave Science alone! Still, she recognized the danger, and moved quickly, reinforcing the force field. "Lieutenants," she said. "Stay back." If anyone was going to be harmed, it was her. She thought for a moment.

Aurora bristled and stayed as far away from the spider as possible.

"Seriously, Spider...what's WRONG with you!? You're so...," Aurora snarled, not having heard the mental conversation, was very angry at the spider for messing with her Captain!

"It's a predator, Aurora. A very dangerous one apparently! Computer flood the creature cell with tranquilizing gas. When unconscious, transport it to a stasis chamber with independent and long lasting power supply." S'tera said. "It messed with the Captain’s mind. That makes it very dangerous."

"Yes, S'tera. Please make sure you make a report about this. I am going to make some calls. Let's put it out of its misery. The best way to do that is with noxious gas. Start it up," Vila said, putting on her gas mask. "Tell Doctor Greene that Counselor Campbell and the Captain are stopping by for a quick look-see," she said.

She started the noxious gas machine after the two others had put on their masks. "Medical will want the body, but we need to ensure it's DEAD," she said.

A bit later, the spider was dead, and Vila had phased it thrice, just to ensure it was truly DEAD. She pulled off her gas mask.

"Alright, are you two okay?" She asked S'tera and Aurora.

"I'm...I'm fine. What kind of monster were we dealing with?" Aurora asked, shivering as she took off her mask.

S'tera takes off her mask. "I'm fine!" her tail flicked back and forth in annoyance. It was close. Some very bad things could have happened. Fortunately they did not.

Vila nodded. "Get the body up to Medical," she said. "I'll tell Dr. Greene to meet us there," she said. An autopsy would tell them more. "Sorry that our experiments didn't work out." She was excited for them. Now, she was just glad that they'd all gotten out of it alive.


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