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Stardate: 16005.24 [24 May, 2016]
Into the Storm: Tropical Disturbance
Alexia grinned, watching as her friend suddenly released another creative string of expletives. Her eyes flickered to the movie that played behind Marielle, where a line of short elflike munchkins kicked their feet in song and dance. The brunette wasn’t quite sure what had happened, but she knew she was thankful to be clear across the universe. There was just no telling what Marielle’s imagination was conjuring up at that very moment, but it didn’t matter. Alexia knew that a storm was brewing, and she pitied the poor soul that dared to stand in Marielle’s way.
A discrete tropical weather system of ostensibly organized convection originating in the tropics or subtropics, having a non-frontal migratory character, and maintaining its identity for 24 hours or more
Marielle huffed as she paused in the jefferies tube, sighing as she sat at the dimly lit junction. She sat back, propping her hands behind her and locking her elbows. Her lower lip moved over her upper lip and she blew out a quick burst of air to move the stray strand of hair that had fallen over her eye. “Augh. You’d think they’d design this part of the ship better,” she grumbled as she looked at the PADD on the floor by her side, “especially since we have to use them fairly often.” Her eyes travelled over the choices, and Marielle glanced down at the PADD on her lap to verify the direction she needed to take. Sighing, she returned to her hands and knees and pushed the small case ahead of her as she crawled.
She thought back to the brightly painted scenes that lined the path to her office, the movie scene that had played on repeat on her wall display, and the lyrics that were so simple that they were catchy. For a week since the prank, she had been inadvertently humming the Muchkinland song because the tune was stuck in her head. The caricatures, the movie, and the music only served to annoy her once her initial shock and sense of humiliation had faded away, but two things had compelled Marielle to seek out retribution against the man who had become her nemesis: the deletion of her pristinely written equations on her office window to make way for his, albeit creatively and beautifully drawn, cruel artwork and the use of glitter.
Truth be told, as irritated as she was about her equations being washed off her windows, it was the glitter that had her seething with absolute loathing.
The absolute bane of the universe.
It had not been the first time in her life she cursed Henry Ruschmann and his blasted invention, but it was certainly one of her longest rants against the long deceased inventor and machinist. Centuries later, glitter had somehow survived three World Wars, the Eugenics Wars, and the invention of space travel, replicators, and transporters. It was the proverbial cockroach in the art universe. Marielle was still finding bits of the sparkly nuisance sticking to her boots and the hem of her pants whenever she walked through her office. It’s been over two weeks, and still the glitter remained.
When her eyes caught sight of the hatch to her destination, Marielle could only grin with each shuffle her hands and knees took to get her there. She paused before the hatch, her right hand tightly gripping the small case that she had brought with her. For a brief moment, she hesitated and her memories brought up the short conversation she had had with ALICE.
Trying to find the perpetrator ended up being easy. Peter Paul Peterson didn’t really do a good job hiding his tracks, but he had managed to hide them all the same. When Marielle confirmed her suspicions, it took all of a second to determine that he needed to be taught a lesson in manners. But, she knew ALICE’s careful watch over everything would have been to be a challenge to circumvent. In the past, Marielle had just let herself into whatever room to set up whatever she had planned. But, ALICE was not a computer and Marielle didn’t like dealing with surprises when she was in the middle of mischief.
And, Marielle had no qualms with admitting that she was definitely up to mischief. She had sought out the sentient being before even flushing out the details to her revenge. The young engineer had decided that honesty was probably the best course of action with ALICE, opting to reason with the holographically projected A.I. Marielle had prepared to logically argue her points, though she had been certain it would have come down to a pathetic attempt at begging before she finally resorted to straight out bribery. So, it had came as a surprise when ALICE began irately raving about Peterson the moment Marielle had mentioned him. Briefly, during their discussion, both women had paused their ranting as they tried to understand just how Peterson had been able to accomplish such a prank without ALICE’s interference. Not because they couldn’t figure out how he had essentially “locked” ALICE out of the office - because it took all of one minute for them to figure it out exactly what he had done - but because they couldn’t understand how Peterson, of all people, had thought it up on his own.
As it turned out, it didn’t take much to convince ALICE to just turn the proverbial blind eye to the young engineer’s planned antics and to let Marielle’s presence slip through the sensors and records. Apparently, ALICE had thought Peterson’s prank cruel while he was in the middle of putting his plan into action. When she had attempted to put a stop to it, he had shut ALICE out of Marielle’s office and played around with her subroutines so she couldn’t warn Marielle. It wasn’t enough to warrant telling the Commodore, but it was enough to have ALICE contemplating her own version of punishment. ALICE had thought turnaround was fair play and gave Marielle the reassurance she needed to flush out the details of her plan.
Thank goodness for small miracles.
Marielle gripped the latch to the hatch, turned it quickly, and jumped into the room. Peterson had scheduled a warp core diagnostics, which meant he was probably going to be in engineering all day. All the same, she wanted to work quickly.
She took a moment to look around his quarters. The living room was a mess with equipment and tools. Marielle’s brow wrinkled as she glanced at the small circuit boards that he had taken apart. The pieces were all over his dining room table. She moved to the table and studied the pieces that were tossed all over the surface. She picked up a PADD and her hand moved over the surface to light up the screen. Marielle’s brow raised as realization hit, and green eyes rested on the mess on the table again. Peterson had taken apart several PADDs and tricorders in attempts to understand how they worked and was in the process of putting them together.
At least, that’s what he was attempting to do.
She spotted several mistakes in his rebuilding process, small circuits poorly placed in the incorrect sockets. Briefly, she felt a pang of regret for her previous verbal cruelty. The man was an idiot who had no talent for engineering, that much was certain, but he was obviously trying to understand the world around him and to be better. Marielle gripped the box in her hand.
She hesitated for a second time since she had set out on her mission. The young engineer debated with herself, wondering if it was truly right of her to take her revenge when her opponent struggled so much. She had humiliated him so viciously in front of so many; it only made sense that he would try to make her feel the same. Sighing, she turned and decided to abandon her plot, taking quick strides towards the open hatch. Retribution didn’t need to be made. She would be the bigger person in this instance.
The light hit the glass tube just right, and it caught Marielle’s attention just as her hand reached the top of the hatch.
Her head tilted slightly to the right, as it always did when something made her curious or when her mind was fast at work. Marielle moved from the jefferies tube hatch and approached the desk by the wall. It glittered as she walked towards it, shimmering silver and pink under the dimmed light. Her jaw tightened at the sight of the half-filled glass tube, eyes focusing on the tiny flecks of glitter that clung to the sides.
Hesitation disappeared. “Frak being the bigger person,” she muttered to herself, her hand gripping the small box tightly as she stormed into the bathroom. Her nose wrinkled at the sight. Peterson was apparently a pig in the bathroom, with a large pile of wet towels on the floor near the open toilet seat. The mirror had flecks of dried spittal on the surface, and she surmised it must have come from Peterson trying to pick at something between his teeth. “Augh,” she complained as her boot stuck to the floor with each step. The sound grated at her ears drums much like a knife on a bottle. “Gross.”
Every bathroom was equipped to handle the variances in preferences and needs for crew and guests alike, so a shower head was poised over the sonic panels just in case one opted for an old fashioned hot - or cold - shower. It would only be a matter of programming one’s preference, and the computer could easily replicate the water, or any liquid, necessary to flow. Marielle made her way to the shower, removed the service panel, and glanced inside. She had hoped that Peterson was one of the few people on board who enjoyed a water-based cleansing shower verses the more traditional sonic showers, and luck just happened to be on her side.
She opened the small box she had carried with her, pulling out a small vial filled with a clear liquid. Marielle reached into the panel, hands moving without thought as it rewired a few choice connections and pulled out the small box that served as a water collection reservoir for the computer’s replicated water. The reservoir was just in case someone happened to be in the shower during an emergency and the computer replication sequence turned off suddenly. It served as a way of washing out any lingering cleansing agent. Replicated water flowed through the reservoir before it was dispersed through the shower head, ensuring that the collection reservoir was always filled with freshly replicated water.
Marielle emptied out the vial, watching as syrup-like liquid mixed with the water. The concentrated compound kept the water clear. After returning the vial and its cap back into the box she had brought with her, the young engineer swirled the water collection reservoir slightly to make sure it was thoroughly mixed into the reserve. It would take twenty-four hours for the compound to completely dissipate from the collection reservoir, enough time for Peterson to enjoy just one dye-filled shower. By the time anyone thought to look in the collection reservoir, the dye would have long disappeared.
She chuckled as she returned the small box and rewired it back into place. The water would run clear during his shower, and the unsuspecting lieutenant wouldn’t know what had happened until he took a good look in the mirror. The dye was innocuous and would only last a few days, certainly no more than a week. Marielle covered the panel and her eyes swept over the bathroom once more to ensure that she had left no trace of her presence. As she had only brought the box, Marielle double-checked the contents to make sure the vial and its cap were secure. She nodded once in satisfaction before taking quick strides out of Peterson’s bathroom and living room.
She stopped by the dining table, eyes moving over the tools she had studied earlier. Marielle bit down on her lower lip. There was no regret over what she had just accomplished. Peterson had to answer for the glitter bomb in her office. Yet. Marielle knew that her cruelty over his inability to be an engineer needed to be tempered. The Commodore had been right about her onslaught. Entertainingly brilliant as it was, she had picked at his weakness and displayed it for all of engineering to witness. The revelation of Peterson’s efforts despite his difficulties had Marielle feeling ashamed for her verbal incursion on the man. Sparing the table one last look, Marielle sighed as she made her way towards the jefferies tube hatch. She bent into the tube, turned around, and locked the hatch before crawling towards an unassuming exit a couple of decks from Peterson’s quarters. She wasn’t quite sure how their interactions would unfold after her discovery, but Marielle determined she’d be better about his inability to troubleshoot.
As she slid out of the tube and into a junction, she stretched as best as she could before crawling into another tube. Every shuffle away from Peterson’s quarters had her grinning. Marielle resolved to keep her pranks kind. Because she was sure Peterson would have enough sense to know she had done something to his shower, it wouldn’t be long before he retaliated. The thought had her smiling. It’s been awhile since she’s had this much fun.
Copyright 2016. All works involving Mariëlle A. Deniaud, including character biography and published stories or reports, are the property of the United Space Federation and its author. It cannot be reproduced, imitated, and copied without written permission from the authors. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction using aspects of the Star Trek universe as created and copyrighted/trademarked by Gene Roddenberry, Paramount, and their affiliates.