655: I’ll Take What’s in the Box, Monty!

by Dengar, Reece and Lair
After Pandora’s Box

-=Deck 6, USS Serendipity=-

"Something's not right," Reece lamented as he stood in the doorway of his office, awaiting Rada Dengar. February was snug as a bug in a rug for the moment, so he could afford himself the luxury of actually relaxing…and working.

"Oh, the lights!" Dabin flipped the switch, and the Christmas lights ringing the room lit up. His mind just worked so much better with the room bathed in various colors than it did in the sterile white light.

He sat as his desk, pulled out a PADD, and looked again at the redecorating plans he had been doodling around with the last few days. Reece tapped in a few more ideas quickly, and stored the PADD away just in time for Rada to enter his office.

"Shall we begin working on the scanner Commander Reece?" Rada asked, as he looked around at the Christmas lights. If the colorful illumination were not bizarre enough, there was something that could only be described as a cauldron bubbling away in the corner. "What is that?"

"That? Would you believe Salvek's dentures? My attempt to recreate Fleur's homemade soup? Sparrow's hot tub?" Reece rose from his desk and looked into the cauldron.

"I would not."

"Then would you believe I was attempting to study the effects of thermodynamic conduction over a class 4A isolinear chip to determine the long-term implications of reusing chips that had been exposed to high temperature water during accidents aboard starships. With all that was going on lately I, uh, forgot that I had turned the warmer on."

Reece reached into the cauldron with a pair of tongs and pulled out a tiny piece of chip that had not yet completely dissolved.

"So, in conclusion, boiling isolinear chips is bad." Reece turned the warmer off. "We'll need lunch before we start. Have you eaten yet Rada? I can call you Rada right? I mean, we are buddies."

Dabin slid the window between his lab and Lair Kellyn's open, and shouted through the opening.

"Kellyn, babe, Chinese?"

"Not now Dabin." She growled back. Reece could tell she was bothered by the idea of getting anywhere near Hugreti technology.

"If I order you a Szechuan Chicken you'll eat it. You won't replicate it yourself, but if I do, you'll eat it."

Reece held up seven fingers towards Rada, and whispered as he counted down.

"Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one."

"Yeah, I’ll take a plate." Kellyn said. She didn't want to admit it, but he was right.

Reece slid the window shut, and turned back to Rada.

"So, how about you Danger? Chinese?"

“Actually, I’m not really hungry…” Rada really was hungry, but since the first meal he shared with Breaux of his hometown dishes, he had decided that he wouldn’t eat any Terran food that he hadn’t at least run under a tricorder first.

“Oh, come on. Everyone else is eating. I wouldn’t want you to feel left out. How about a leaf of stir-fried beef? A fork of sweet and sour pork? A smidgen of salt baked pigeon?”

It seemed that the commander really wanted him to eat and so he relented. “Perhaps I’ll just have what Kellyn’s having.” Rada didn’t know what a Szechuan was but he had eaten chicken before and liked it, if his memory served it was nice and bland.

“There we go. I knew I’d get you to eat.” Reece said as he gave Rada an encouraging pat on the back. “Now, what else would you like?”

“Really the chicken will be enough,” Rada replied.

“How about just a little Kung Pao Shrimp on the side?”

“Really, I’m fine,” Rada replied.

“Really? You won’t have just a tiny bit?” Reece asked again, demonstrating by bringing his thumb and forefinger together just how small it could be.

“Really,” Rada confirmed.

“It could just be a tiny, tiny, tiny….” Reece would have kept emphasizing how small it was for ten more 'tinys' but Kellyn objected through the window, “Leave the poor man alone.”

“Okay,” said Reece dramatically with exasperation as he made his way towards the replicator and then mumbled to himself “I’ll never understand what it is with engineers and refusing to eat. They’re almost as bad as captains.”

Reece arrived as his destination and ordered “Two orders of Szechuan Chicken with,” he shot one last questioning glance at Rada who mouthed ‘really’ in response, “absolutely nothing on the side and half orders of General Tso’s chicken, popcorn shrimp, curry chicken, pork fried rice, crab rangoon, two buttered dinner rolls, two fortune cookies.”

Reece handed Rada his meal and the necessary cutlery then hurried to make his window side delivery of Kellyn’s.

“Just one question, Dabin,” She asked before taking the plate. “Did you tell Zanh Liis before you told me?” Kellyn was positively pouting.

Reece handed her plate over to her. She accepted it and thanked him, it did smell delicious and it made her a lot hungrier than she had been before.

Still, she pushed the plate aside and folded her arms.

“Are you going to answer me, Dabin?”

Sheepishly, Dabin raised the small plate with a buttered dinner roll and fortune cookie on it. “I buttered it myself, and the fortune is especially for you.”

“Yeah, you buttered my bread all right.” Kellyn grumbled.

“You weren’t there, she was. I couldn’t just not tell her, could I? Besides didn’t you hear the song?”

Kellyn snatched the roll and the fortune cookie. She cracked open the cookie and read aloud. “It says ‘I love you’. Oh, and there is a little smiley face.”

“Am I forgiven?”

“Depends on how my food tastes.” Kellyn slid the window shut to settle down to her lunch.

“Commander…” Rada began but Reece held a hand up that he should wait while he ran back and forth retrieving his various dishes and positioning them strategically around the bench where they could be best reached from his chair. Once everything was set up just perfectly Reece took his seat and Rada began again but before he could get a full word out Reece told him to “Sit, please sit.”

Rada sat down in the chair across from Reece and whilst he was about to start speaking he noticed how expectant Reece was looking and so he reluctantly took a bite.

He quickly concluded that Szechuan was Chinese for ‘fire’ and that it was meant quite literally. “W…” Rada wheezed out “Wa…”

He put his meal down and headed to the replicator but he couldn’t form the word. At times like this he considered just how ridiculous it was that the replicators were voice activated. “Wat…” he gave up and typed the command in to the keypad and then downed the glass of water in one go.

After an extended period of panting he managed to force out “That’s very nice,” as he requested another glass and a numbing agent for the pain receptors in his mouth.

“I’m glad you like it!” Reece replied enthusiastically. “Oh and by the way, water only makes the spice worse. If you want to put out the fire, you need eat bread. TC Blane taught me that trick.” Dabin ripped a hunk off of his dinner roll and unceremoniously chucked it at Rada. “There you go.”

Once his breath had returned Rada returned to his seat and began to speak again “So, about this Hugreti box, do you have any idea how we’re supposed to look inside it?”

“Well, the materials it is made of are like nothing we’ve ever seen according to the report they sent me.” Reece moved his fork from plate to plate, stabbing several morsels and popping them all in his mouth together.

“So we’re going to need to take the readings the construction team managed to get, build a sensor prototype for scanning the interior, and try it out.”

“I’ll need a specification if I’m going to know what to build.” Rada pointed out.

Reece continued moving around his array of dishes and Rada was staggered at the sheer grace he displayed in navigating his meal. It was like watching a master pianist play a complicated movement with his eyes closed. Only rather than a performance of fine music, this was a display of unparalleled gluttony.

“Well, let’s look at the readings then, shall we?” Reece asked.

Rada figured it was best to bring up the readings, since Reece was “in the zone” and could not be disturbed from his current position.

He turned the display towards Dabin so he could read the scans.

“Undetermined material. Undeterminable density. Undetermined thermodynamic properties. Color, gray.”

Reece took a few more bites of food. “Well, I have to say, honestly, that is completely useless. But, we’ve dealt with materials before that can resist our scanning technologies.”

Rada moved his Szechuan chicken around the plate in an attempt to make it look like it had been eaten.

“First, we’ll need something emit a beam that can cycle through every frequency in the book. EM, subspace, subatomic, everything. We measure the reflection and absorption of said beams until we find something that works. Then, we piggyback a sensor beam on whatever frequency works.”

Rada was stunned. That was actually a brilliant idea. He briefly considered that there could be a method to Reece’s madness but quickly dismissed it on the grounds that no one in the galaxy was that methodical.

He realized that he had just been sitting there looking shocked for several seconds and that he really should say something. “We should be able to construct the beam with only minor adjustments to pre-existing designs,” he confirmed, although he wasn’t entirely sure how to make it work.

“Buuuut…?” Reece asked as he threw some little orange things into the air and caught them in his mouth. “Call it former woman’s intuition but I can tell that you have doubts.”

Rada wasn’t quite sure how to put this. “We’re talking about running through every point on a continuous spectrum when we can only observe discrete data. Even if we interpolate between the observations to approximate continuous time we still run a very high risk of simply passing straight over exactly what we’re looking for unless we set a near infinitesimal tolerance.

“We need to bring it on the ship before anyone else can get to it, we need to scan it before we can bring it on the ship, we need to figure out the frequency before we can scan it, we need to run at least part way though our scan before we can figure the frequency out, and if we’re to use any reasonable tolerance then I can almost guarantee that’ll take a lot longer than it’ll take for someone else to get to it.”

“Dude, that is one lengthy bit of reasoning.” He furrowed his brow as he stopped eating for a second, just a second, to say, “Unfortunately it may just be right. We may not have time to run through every possible frequency.”

Then he resumed eating and his brow completely unfurrowed. “So, we’ll just have to play it smart! We’ll target the most likely frequencies first and with a bit of luck we’ll find what we need before the entire Romulan fleet arrives demanding that we hand over the box, the ship and Pointy’s entire personal supply of ear sharpeners.”

“That would be nice,” Rada agreed. “Okay, let’s give it a go.”

Lair Kellyn had been listening to all of this through the thin glass window as she persisted in pouting over having found out that Dabin and Bru were expecting their first child in the senior staff meeting.

She sighed as she picked at her food, suddenly rolled the window open again and glared at Reece.

“You are taking into account that whatever might be inside that thing could be explosive or at the very least, highly flammable, aren’t you?”

She slid the window shut again without waiting for his response from either man. For an instant, Reece thought he heard her mumble. “She was there…a likely story.

“Take into account that what may be inside could be explosive or flammable, Danger.” Reece requested, stabbing a forkful of General Tso’s chicken and chomping it vigorously. “Damn. I forgot to order a spring roll and half a dozen almond cookies.”

Lt. SG Rada Dengar
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Commander Dabin Reece
Chief Science Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Commander Lair Kellyn
Engineering Research and Development
The Alchemy Project