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Cold Fusion

Cold Fusion by Keith R. A. DeCandido
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Chapter 1
Commander, I humbly request permission to feed Abramowitz to the larvae."
Kieran Duffy sighed, rolled his eyes, took a sip of his coffee, then looked up at the Nasat standing before him in the mess hall. "What is it this time, Pattie?"
P8 Blue, presently standing upright on her two rear legs, was tossing a padd back and forth among four of her arms. "Oh, it's nothing different. She simply will not stop playing that music."
"Have you asked her to stop?"
"Repeatedly. Endlessly. Constantly."
"Well, at least your grasp of adverbs is improving."
"Commander -- "
Holding up a hand, Duffy said, "Look, I'll talk to her, okay? I have to be on the bridge in five, and -- "
"That's the other thing, we're always on and off duty at the same time. I cannot avoid her. I would like to renew my request for a new roommate."
"I've asked around, but nobody -- "
"Of course nobody wants to room with her!" Pattie said. Her voice raised several octaves -- a range Duffy hadn't known her to be capable of -- and she was now tossing the padd around so fast, it was blurry. "Nobody can stand that music of hers!"
Sonnie, come home, was all Duffy could think. Especially since this was mostly her fault. Kind of.
In addition to her duties as commanding officer of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers team on the U.S.S. da Vinci, Commander Sonya Gomez was also the da Vinci's first officer, and was therefore responsible for making up the duty assignments. Of course, the last time she'd done so was before Carol Abramowitz, the S.C.E. team's cultural specialist, got her hands on a new recording of Sinnravian drad music, specifically the newest from Blee Luu, the founder of drad's "atonal minimalist" subgenre.
Unfortunately, Gomez was presently on a special assignment to the planet Sarindar, helping the Nalori Republic to get a subspace accelerator working. This left Duffy, normally the ship's second officer, pulling double duty as the ship's XO. Which meant that personnel issues like this, that he had been more than happy to dump on Sonnie's lap, were now his problem.
In all his years in Starfleet, Kieran Duffy had heard many different types of music, and many more reactions to same. He'd heard Klingon opera that could put a spring in one person's step and stop others dead in their tracks from the headache. He'd once seen a Vulcan ambassador moved to tears by the same Mozart piece that, years later, moved a Tellarite engineer to throw up.
But pretty much everyone who wasn't from Sinnrav (and many who were) found Luu's music to be completely unlistenable -- except for Carol Abramowitz.
Gulping down the last of his coffee, Duffy got up. After swallowing, he said, "Pattie, I'm not really sure what I can do, except -- "
Except maybe change the duty roster, he thought suddenly. You're first officer until Sonnie comes back. You can do that.
"Except maybe change the duty roster," he said after his moment of clarity. "I'll fix it so that you're on gamma shift when Carol's off. Okay?"
Now holding the padd in only one hand, Pattie made a tinkling noise. Most non-Nasats couldn't distinguish one such noise from another, but Duffy had been serving with Pattie long enough to be able to do so. This one -- high-pitched, with the higher notes about a second and a half apart -- was the equivalent of a sigh of relief. "Thank you, sir."
"You're welcome. And no feeding her to the larvae." Duffy hesitated. "Do your larvae really eat people?"
Another tinkly noise, this one lower-pitched -- a shrug. "Only when they can get them. They'll eat anything. Well, I must take this report to Lieutenant Barnak. Thank you again, sir."
With that, Pattie got down on all eights and skittered out of the mess hall. Duffy wondered how much of Carol's insistence on playing Luu's music was personal preference, and how much was a defense mechanism triggered by living with an insect.
Two security guards, Drew and Hawkins, were sitting at one of the far tables. Hawkins said, "I think she was kidding, sir. About the larvae."
"Definitely," Drew said. "They're actually very picky eaters."
Sighing and shaking his head, Duffy left the mess hall, wondering if Sonnie had ever had to put up with this.
Copyright © 2001 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
Pocket Books/Star Trek; July 2001
ISBN 9780743428750
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Title: Cold Fusion
Author: Keith R. A. DeCandido
 
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ISBNs
0743428757
9780743428750