Haumea Colony

A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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It's for the Dogs!

Posted on Fri May 31st, 2024 @ 12:18pm by Cornelius Warner MS & Captain Luka Mahone

2,645 words; about a 13 minute read

Mission: What Lies Ahead, Between, and Behind
Location: Multiple Clicks North of Haumea
Timeline: Pre-Abduction

When Davna gave Luka the PaDD with a big, bright, shining smile, the Captain in him could not help but wonder if he was about to be pranked. Davna was not prone to such things, unless it ended in him sleeping soundly or, at the very least, relaxing. But, as he scrolled through the PaDD's memos, his eyes lit up with a rare desire for adventure. The accompanied giddiness propelled him to spring out of his cozy office chair and demand that he was taking the next couple of days to 'scout the area'. After an adamantly-made promise to Davna that he was not, in fact, going all on his own (no, the dogs did not count), and grabbing the old board off his wall, Luka made the long trek back to his cabin.

He could have wracked his brain on who he was bringing along with him. Shaun might have needed time off as well, but who was going to field all those close calls while the Captain was away? Gunnar? No. He was not so sure Gunnar was the type to like sun and sand like he did. Really, he had his first choice in mind the moment he touched the doorway of the Silver Tongue instead of his cabin. The door could not have opened any faster as he nearly bounced in, board in hand, demanding to speak with the owner.

Without word to anyone else but Davna and the young enlisted pilot who he commandeered a shuttle from, Luka, Haechi, and his guest in tow were off and to the beach by the end of that day.

The moment Luka settled the shuttle and was out the hatch, he paused to take a deep breath of the air. A smile broke as the salty smell of the ocean hit his nose. This was it. A beach. "I never thought I'd see one of these ever again," he admitted, tossing a glance back. "Not without the aid of the holodeck, anyway."

It was warmer than Cornelius was expecting, which was good as he walked out in his board shorts and a bright red tank top with LIFEGUARD printed across it. "I have to be honest with you Luka, when you said you had a beach day planned for me, I was expecting you to be pulling my leg a bit. Colour me surprised," he said, pulling on his sunglasses and looking about. The short walk to the actual beach on untouched grass was nice, a cooler hanging loosely from his left hand, and a bag of beach gear in his right. He had even brought a paddle board he'd been able to replicate up, if cautiously optimistic. "I know your plan, but I might need to pick up a kayak and bring that out here," he added, taking a deep breath of the fresh air.

For a brief second, a grim expression crossed Luka's face. "I would never joke about a beach." No, it was likely he would not have told a soul if he didn't think half the colony would have scrambled if he disappeared randomly. He brightened up a moment later. "That just means we definitely need to set an outpost here. I'll bring it up with the Colonel. Or science. I'm sure Bray won't say no to a beach side retreat-.... Outpost."

Luka wasted no time in setting his large bag to one side. "But that's why I brought the gear. You know, to do some readings. Make sure the tides here are surf friendly.... And don't wash out any attempts at constructing something nearby." His professional demeanor was slowly melting away as he looked back to the shuttle. "You know how to build up one of those tents right? I haven't camped in so long I don't think I'd be able to do that without a couple of tries. Or a couple of beers."

Placing the cooler down, he pushed the top open and pulled out a pair of Plagiarism Lager in glass bottles, and twisted the caps off. "I can help with the beer for sure, though it's been a hot minute since I have done one of those tents. I figure we can probably figure it out between the two of us," he said, laughing and swigging from the beer, passed the second to his friend. "I don't think you'll have too many members of the colony upset about a second outpost around. From a cursory glace, ground looks stable, close trees. Could probably build quite the hotel and visitor complex," he added with a wink.

"Could probably deck out an unused shuttle like one of those food flyers I keep hearing about. There's a small group of restaurateurs who wanna see if we'll spare a shuttle or two and I can't imagine that'll go away if we get an outpost out here." Luka took the offered glass and had a swig before giving a shrug. "If someone told me I'd need to field some business affairs, I would have seen if Starfleet had someone who had some expertise in that. Sure as hell isn't me." He set the glass down. "Should we get that tent pitched before I get too tempted by the tides?"

Taking a swig of his own beer, Cornelius placed it in the sand and pushed a button on the cooler. Soon tune began to softly drift from it, classical earth Lo-Fi floating across the water. "Don't convert a shuttle," he said, grabbing the tent's case and pulling the shell free, "there is a company on Earth than manufacturers them. You can convert a shuttle, but it's never as good as you want. These are based on the Type Eleven design - you remember those big fat ones? One of those, and the sides are specially meant to fold down. I bet you could convince Starfleet it would be good for public relations to bring one out. Then they're from the fleet, available to the civilians to rent out for a bit. Get some good will with the shops, and no one feels like you gave anyone preferential treatment."

He paused for a moment, looking at the vinyl instructions included, and then at the gathered poles, then back to the instructions. "Though... if you are going to give anyone preference..." he grinned and looked over at his friend. "Now, I don't remember these being so hard to read..."

"Dunno, I think I need an expert to help me out. Who knows what I would have had converted. I'm a doctor, not an engineer. And it sounds like someone may have volunteered..." Luka looked to the instructions, frowning immediately. "I don't think I've ever been given the chance to read those." There was a hint of guilt in his voice, but he brushed it aside. No time for wallowing, not when camping needed to happen. "I'm surprised they don't come in a fashion where you can press a button and they build themselves by now. You'd think with things like a QSD and space stations, we'd have mastered that by now."

He picked up one of the various poles before examining the cloth-like alloy that would make the tent. "There are longer ones that go in first, right?"

Cornelius shrugged. "They make them, self assembling tents. Whole thing folds up and unfolds with ease. Though I think they're the emergency shelter systems, don't get them for regular kit. I did see a Marine accidentally get assigned one once though, he ate like a king from the ration packs to trade that out." The man looked at the pile of materials. "Now I don't think he made the right call... I'd start with the longer ones first. Worst case we sleep in the bivy set up."

Luka picked up the one of the longer poles, already on the look out for a good place to start setting up. While they had the location scouted out already, Luka had to ensure the ground was solid enough for them to sleep on. He tapped his foot a couple of times, before going through the process of assembling the pole's segments. "They didn't teach us all this in the medical classes I was in, and if they taught any of that in Academy, I must've missed those seminars."

He said it with a smile, but the immediate next moment was met with the end of a pole in his face. The smile was replaced by a frown as he went to rub his forehead. Then came the determined sigh as he firmly pressed the pieces together. "Don't tell the Colonel about any of this or he'll make me go through survival training."

"The Colonel?" Cornelius said, laughing as he did. "I might see about making you do it, can't have my favourite Starfleet officer out here not knowing how to set up a tent." He gave a dramatic swish of his hands and puffed his chest out, in mocked importance. "As a civilian, you should, of course, be showing me up on how all this is to be done! Why, imagine the scandal if I spent the night sleeping under the stars because the big strong Starfleet officer couldn't face he greatest challenge-" he swished around to stand behind he friend. And with mock gravitas, he concluded "-the mighty Tent of the beach!" He broke out into a long, deep chested laugh.

"Eh, I don't think mister Fighter Pants is going to be giving you too hard of a time. He's so busy with his shiny new base and a General who wants perfection I think he might even come to like you." Warner winked. "Just don't tell his wife."

Luka scoffed. "The Tent of the Beach is more than a match for me," he explained off-handedly. "I usually patched up the welts and bruises that crew members who were goofing about caused when they were playing around with this." He shrugged it off. "But I imagine that scandal will add to the scandals I keep hearing - much more scandalous than improper tent pitching."

But then his face scrunched into confusion. "Shaun's married?" He did not pretend to be out of the loop of peoples' personal lives; he could hardly manage his own. But marriage seemed like an important fact for a Starfleet Captain to know, especially if there was a big event that they would have to attend and make a show about. A gala was not where he would have wanted to find out his second in command was married. "How could I miss that crucial detail?"

"For about a year and a half?" Cornelius said, looking up at the sky as if trying to glean the information from it. "He doesn't talk about it all that often, he and her are on separate duty tours. She's a Chief Flight Control Officer, and he's here at Haumea. But yeah, he doesn't wear a wedding band or anything, but he has the two interlinked stars tattooed on his ring finger." Cornelius shrugged. "It's one of those things that Bar tenders pick up on."

"A year and a half-" Luka looked up at the sky and gave an exasperated sigh. "Maybe I'll see if I can bait him into a couples' retreat or something - though I suppose I'd have to find someone to cover me on that behalf. I am a little curious to see what he's like when he's not looking like he's about to have his hair fall out from being here."

As the tent's skeleton was being pitched up, the Captain looked about. "... Or maybe we could make a big deal about finding this location and see I can make a few calls and casually suggest someone's next shore leave ends up here... Okay, maybe I'm more than a little curious."

Cornelius let out a long laugh, as he slid the top of the fabric over the tent itself, hooking the last of the pieces in place. "I think you'll have an easier time squeezing blood from a stone and getting a Ferengi to let go of his latinum than you will getting that man to open up. Though if you do," he said, giving a stern finger point, "don't bring up his mother." It was a very poorly kept secret that Captain Lucinda Bradley and her son had no love for one another, and it had only worsened in recent years.

"Oh no, parents are a touchy subject for a lot of people. I've learned to keep that one out of casual conversation." The string of Starfleet officers who scowled at him for having a good relationship with his parents did not go unnoticed. "I have had to get a Ferengi to let go of a latinum bar though - turns out someone implanted an explosive in one and it ended up in the hands of one of the Nagus's Advisors. Turns out loss of life is not as important as monetary wealth to traditionalists in their culture." Luka gave a shrug. "But boy was that fun to write about in a report. If I could manage that, maybe I can get our marine man to show at least a little heart. It would certainly help with the PR people keep harassing me about. 'Come to Haumea for the adventure, stay for the grumpy bulldog of a Marine CO' doesn't have a good ring to-.... Do you think he's a dog person?"

Cornelius paused, thinking it over for a minute. "I suppose he might be. Though if I am honest, I suspect he'd more of a cat person. Low maintenance, detached from needing attention, and an angry face hiding he's secretly a softy. Definitely a cat person..." A mischievous smile spread on Cornelius' face. "Are you thinking of a gift?"

"Sort of. Pets humanize people to the public eye, sure, but-and maybe he doesn't want this-but the idea of actually pulling him a little outside of his element moreso than he already is might give him something to focus on that isn't the chaos of the week." Luka gave Cornelius a lop-sided grin, "I've got a dog breeder who's been waiting to come to town too. I think she'd jump at the chance to see if she could pair him with one of her pups."

Cornelius thought it over for a moment, his face shifting from his usual carefree look, to one of serious consideration. "I met a man once, a Colonel at the time, who said it best. If you give a Starfleet Officer a dog, you have given him a friend. You give a Marine a dog, and you have given a whole unit their own mascot. I don't think the Colonel here is much of an animal person himself, dogs are somewhat hard to maintain for flyboys. But if you gave him one, he'd be too proud to turn it down, and you can bet every Marine there would die for that dog." The smile slowly crept back. "Maybe you can force your dogs on him for a few days, and let him see how he does?"

"Oh there's a thought." Luka's grin turned lopsided. "Lugh already likes jumping all over him." As well as all the other marines. And half the Starfleet staff. Semantics. "I think I can hunt down a good excuse for him to be stuck with my pups. I hear there's a mountain on the other side of the forest that needs exploring. Maybe he'll accept dog-sitting duty and we can take Davna and Gunnar with us on another camping trip."

"Until the next one, maybe we finish figuring out this one? Then you can scheme against poor Bradley," Cornelius said, his laugh lightly echoing across the water.

 

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