By Michelle Pichette and Holly Cushing
Captain Crane tried not to cringe as the Seaviewís new Head Engineer went over the incident log with him. He was more than familiar with what was in the it, after all heíd lived it, but having it read off to him wasnít any more pleasant than going through it all over again. What made it worse was that it was he was pretty much being lectured to by the woman he was currently interested in romantically. She had only been working on the Seaview for two weeks and the reactor had almost melted down due to an incident already. Sheíd been working on a report ever since and it was a doozy. Lee took a bite out of the donut heíd been holding while sheíd been speaking, but it so stale he almost couldnít chew it. He tossed the remainder away, thinking that all in all, it had been a pretty depressing morning.
"So thatís it. Three hundred and thirty three incidents in just over three years," Rowena Simmons said, looking up from the paper she had been reading from. She did not appear at all happy as she met his eyes. "Thatís three three three. If it were six six six, Iíd let you explain it away as the boat somehow having been possessed by demons. As it is, sir, it doesnít take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that thereís a problem here."
"Now, listen Ro, isnít really not that bad," Lee said. She was probably the one person aboard the Seaview who could speak to him like she just had, aside from the Admiral, of course. Even she had the good sense to only do it when they were alone. She was as intelligent as she was beautiful, and she was trying to make his boat a safer place to work, so he couldnít slight her fervor. Still, Lee didnít want Ro to doubt her crew mates. They were the best of the best and Lee was glad to have them as his crew, Ro included.
"Not that bad? Please, tell me youíre joking. Otherwise, you obviously donít know what youíre talking about, Captain. Do you know how many government agencies would have a field day with these incident logs? Youíre lucky that the entire crew doesnít glow, never mind the nonreactor associated episodes."
"Yes, but all of those incidents had perfectly logical explanations. It wasnít equipment failure or human error that made those things happen. Most of the time the Seaview was under some form of attack," Lee told her.
Ro shook her head. "Yes. I read the explanations. Some of them Iíll give you, but intelligent Marine species and multiple Alien invaders? Funny how your boat seems to be the only one bothered by them. Why do you suppose that they never pick on anyone else?"
Lee rubbed his forehead. "I wish I knew the answer to that one, because if I did, Iíd take immediate steps to change things. We do seem to have some sort of magnetic effect on trouble. So, what do you suggest we do, aside from the security changes that the Admiral has initiated since you started here?"
"Oh, I know he fired some people and he told me he had written up a report on it but somehow that document went missing after he put it on my desk," Ro said, then leaned back and picked up what looked to be a heavy, stone paperweight from her desk and took a file from underneath it. She handed it to Lee, saying, "This is your copy of my report, sir. I wouldnít want it to disappear, too. It also contains some suggestions I have for some upgrades on emergency procedures."
"Iíll look them over right away, but I really donít think that you need to worry as much as you seem to be. The Seaviewís the best boat afloat and her crew is topnotch. Iíll bet you that with the new security procedures the Admiral has put in place, weíll get have that incident log down to nothing before you know it. Then youíll have enough time for dinner," Lee said, giving her a winning smile. Sheíd turned down his offers to join him for dinner, saying that she was far too busy with her work, not to mention that she didnít think it would be appropriate to date her commanding officer. Roís annoyed look slowly shifted to a calculating one and Lee knew he was in trouble. What had he just done to himself?
"How much what?"
"How much do you want to bet? Iíll bet you anything youíd care to name that the incident log gets another entry before the week is out," Ro said.
Leeís smile brightened. "Anything?"
"Get your mind out of the gutter, Captain. How about this dinner you keep trying to lure me off to? I win, you cook and serve me the dinner of my choice at my place. You bring all the food and clean up after yourself before you go. If you win, Iíll do the same for you."
Lee leaned back, thinking it over. They were in port and probably would be for the majority of the time Ro was suggesting, and he certainly wouldnít mind the Engineer waiting on him hand and foot. "Itís a bet. A week from today, then?"
"A week from now," Ro agreed, then glanced at her watch. "Letís see, itís fifteen thirty seven and itís been, what, eight days since our last incident report. Sparks ought to start flying any minute."
"Oh, come on. Things arenít as bad as all that," Lee said. The words had barely left his lips when the boat rocked roughly to port, flinging him unceremoniously onto Ro. "What the..." Lee started, as he picked himself up, only to get tossed back to starboard as the boat righted itself. He struggled to his feet, then looked to Ro. "Are you hurt?"
Ro sat up, shaking her head. "No. Donít worry about me. Go see what happened."
Lee nodded, then all but launched himself out into the passageway, wondering what was going on now, only to have what looked like a mound of seaweed on legs all but run into him. It didnít make a sound, it just threw him into the wall and started to shamble up the hall.
Before it got two steps, lazar beams struck it, knocking the creature to the deck. Riley and Henderson were suddenly there, blasting the creature, keeping it from rising, until nothing remained of it but a smoldering heap. "Skipper, are you okay?" Riley asked as he helped Lee back to his feet.
"Whatís going on here? What was that thing?" Lee demanded.
"The Admiral was experimenting with some of that junk that was clogging the vents a few weeks back. He got it to grow some, but I donít think he knew it was gonna to get this big so quick, or that it was gonna get mobile. The Admiral was taking a little break to do some stuff he had to do off base and I was passing by the lab and heard all this crashing around and... well, it kind of escaped when I opened the door, sir," Riley said, looking down sheepishly. "We tried to catch it right away, but it smashed through a bulkhead into the Circuitry Room, then up the hall here and... well... Sorry, sir."
Lee rubbed his neck, his arm smarting a little from when heíd struck the wall, but otherwise he wasnít hurt. The Seaview seemed pretty intact and at least this disaster had been short lived. It wouldnít help anything to come down on Riley since what had happened really wasnít the boyís fault. "Was anyone injured?"
"No, sir. That is if youíre okay, Skipper," Riley replied.
"Iím fine, Riley. Get this mess cleaned up and get me a damage report. Iíll make a report to the Admiral."
"Yes, sir. Iím on it," Riley said with a quick smile, then he and Henderson left, probably to get something to clean up the mess the seaweed monster had left in the passageway.
Lee turned and found himself face to face with a smirking Engineer. "Letís see, we made our bet at fifteen thirty seven and I have fifteen forty nine," she said looking at her watch. "Is that what you have, Captain?"
Lee sighed, looking at his watch just so he wouldnít have to see that ĎI told you soí look on Roís face. The crystal on his watch was smashed, probably from when heíd been tossed into the wall. His arm hurt when he lifted it and knew it was probably going to be one big bruise in the morning. At least it wasnít broken like his watch, he thought as he looked back up at Ro. "Iíll take your word for it. Okay, so I admit that things do tend to get a little crazy, but this was purely coincidence."
"Coincidence or not, a betís a bet. I like German food, but if thatís too complicated, Italian will do. You werenít planning on welching out, were you?" she asked with a disapproving look worthy of the Admiral.
"No, no. Iíd never do that," Lee told her, his ego getting a little bruised that she would even think it, never mind say it. "So, when would you like me to pay up?"
"You know my schedule, Captain. Just let me know when is good for you. Until then, Iíd better see what happened in Circuitry that was making the boat lurch."
With that, Ro walked past him toward Circuitry, gingerly stepping around the remains of the thing that has caused him to lose his bet. Lee shook head. He was just glad he hadnít had time to brag about how easily he would win this bet to Chip. He didnít like losing at anything, but if he had to lose, there were far worse punishments than have to make dinner for the lovely Miss Simmons. He let out a short laugh, starting to think about what he was going to cook for Ro for dinner that would win him a second dinner that he wouldnít have to cook.