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In A Tight Spot

Posted on Tue Apr 14th, 2020 @ 9:17am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Lieutenant Jackson Smith & Lieutenant JG Soto Gantt

Mission: Interlude 4
Location: Deck 2
Timeline: 13 March,2395 - 1600 Hours


Although the space around the emergency batteries was tight, Gantt was wedged comfortably surrounded by parts beside a console. A slight hum vibrated in the wall he leaned back against. Using his PADD he scanned through every detail on the emergency systems. His eyes hardly registered the text. He knew every word and diagram by heart and could inject his own comments on some of the weaker points of the instructions. The sharp smell of ozone and grease was nearly a perfume in the quiet space. No people. No crowds. No pointed looks.

The looks had started soon after his conversation with the EMH. Gantt's diagnosis was private. The doctor is programmed to follow proper channels. So the reactions were most likely all in his head; however, anger often streamed close to the surface these days and Gantt found that hiding out doing menial tasks was very desirable. People just bothered him these days.

"Computer, make a note that emergency batteries show some sign of corrosion that needs to be checked." He sighed. Corrosion could mean anything from dust on the contacts to a failing seal, but that was his trump card. Vague work statements with unknown diagnosis. It's how he stayed busy in the small corridor away from everyone else and let his anger flow into the constant thrum of power through the conduits behind his back.

Jackson worked his way through the ship. The computer had located Gantt near the emergency batteries. It was pretty tight moving around in the bowels of the ship, but there was something up with his friend and Jackson was determined to see if he could help. The passage was tight and full of obtuse corners and edges that seemed to want to reach out and grab him at any moment. Jackson still, almost unconsciously slipped quietly towards his companion. Jackson could see his friend up ahead, wedged next to the emergency batteries. Jackson could immediately tell that something was wrong, the tightness in the jaw, the stress shown in Gantt's movements. Jackson situated himself as best he could in the tight quarters, "Well my friend, you sure make it difficult to get to you. I think Harlan might be the only other one comfortable enough to be at home here." Jackson glanced around at the closeness of everything and then turned to look at his friend. Jackson gave him an encouraging smile.

"Things don't always break in the comfortable places," said Gantt, quietly. He reconnected the sensor chip with the one he had brought in the toolbox. There was nothing wrong with the old chip but the pause gave him time. When Jackson made no further comment, Gantt flipped the toolbox closed. "No one has bothered tracking me here before. What brings you to this tiny little corner of the Firebird?"

"You, my friend." Jackson studied his friend. He could see that things were off with Gantt. Jackson had given Gantt some space, at first Jackson thought it might be because of his transition to Intel, but soon it became obvious that something more internally was going on with Gantt. Something that Gantt was struggling with and not having a great time getting over. It was time to at least off help, "To be honest, I am concerned. Something seems to be wrong, and you are my friend. Which means, I have to squeeze into tight places if that is what is needed." Jackson gave Gantt a tentative smile. He didn't want to push the optimism too much.

"There's nothing to worry about, Jackson. Really. I'm fine. I'm really fine. Couldn't be better." He rubbed a black smudge on the wall with the end of his shoe, making the mark longer. "Living my best life here in the corners of the Firebird where all the little broken things are."

"Best life?", Jackson looked around him at the tight space and all the metal corners and edges. "I mean it is a pretty exciting spot you have here, but do you really want to become Harlan? I am pretty sure our ship can only handle one Harlan. Come on Gantt, I know something is up." He looked concerned at his friend. "I am just here to help. I have been itching to get in trouble, and how can I do that without you?" He gave Gantt a warm smile.

In that smile was an understanding that Gantt needed. Jackson had saved his life, trusted him in return, and the Prophets knew what kind of a mess the pilot's life was growing up. If he could lie that much to Starfleet then Jackson could keep anything a secret and Gantt need to relieve some of the pressure. "I'm just going to jump into it. One of the dirty little secrets about the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor is how they ran genetic experiments on the locals. So many people were tortured and killed that this isn't talked about very much. But it's true. Cardassians used Bajorans in medical and science experiments like they were so many animals.

When still a young girl, my mother was was smuggled off Bajor during the Occupation. But here's a fun fact: she was part of one of their successful experiments. True story. My mother had a genetic mutation created in a lab, and she passed it on to me. Now my DNA carries hereditary genes altered by the Cardassians. Now, how would you like to carry that inside you?"

Jackson studied his friend. This was pretty tough news to take for someone. He could tell it was really affecting Gantt. "That is some pretty tough news to get my friend." Jackson looked Gantt solidly in the eyes, "All I know is that your DNA makes you a good guy and a great friend. I truly blessed to know you." Jackson started to reach out to pat his friend on the shoulder, but his foot slipped in the cramped quarters and he nearly fell into him. Jackson quickly straightened himself and tried to appear as if nothing had happened.

Snorting, Gantt shifted to give Jackson more room to spread his legs out. Not that there was much room for that even with just one person here. To Gantt's surprise, the slight smile stayed in place even though by now it felt almost unnatural to smile. "Thank you Jackson. How do you stay so positive even even when things are so gloomy?"

Jackson smiled at the shift in his friends attitude, "I never really thought about it much. I guess maybe I spent the vast majority of my life being angry, upset, or worried, that I have no time for that stuff now." He pondered momentarily, "When things are crap, I just would rather be happy during those times." As Jackson was talking with Gantt his mind started to piece a few things together. Gantt coming across this knowledge shortly after he had help capture a terrible sceintist during the war was probably not a coincidence. Jackson filed that knowledge for a later time, right now he wanted to focus on his friend. "So, how about we go find a more comfortable place to chat? Cause there is no way I am letting you turn out like Harlan and have the tubes be your "happy place"."

Gantt nodded and said, "You're right about this not being my happy place. I'll follow you out." Then put a hand on Jackson to stop him. "There's one more thing. My mom died before my sister and I were grown. Doctors said they tried everything but it was as though her body was killing itself faster than they could heal it. I'm terrified of that happening to me, Jackson. I can't get too close to anyone. I might already be dying." Gantt took his hand off his friend's arm. ""

Jackson reached over and grabbed Gantts arm in a comradery way and looked him in the eye. "That isn't happening. You are stuck with me." Then with a lighter tone, "Besides, my friend, there is no way you are dying faster than me. Have you seen my latest medical checkup? I am surprised my body is still holding together." He flashed him a grin, "I guess us walking corpses better stick together. Come on let's go." He turned and started to head out.

"Lead the way," Gantt said, trying to squeeze cheerfulness into the words. In fact, some of the weight had lifted. Was that Jackson's secret? Thinking of himself as a death waiting to happen might make things easier. Acepta la carga y pesarĂ¡ menos. Someone said that to him once: Accept the load and it becomes lighter. At the time it sounded dumb and maybe it was. Even dumb things can help, he decided. "You have a point, Jackson. I've seen you in a fight and you're very much more going to die first. But if not, I don't want to waste any more time sitting at the bottom of a pit waiting like a lamb."

Jackson chuckled, "Well let's go enjoy our time we have." he led the way out. Jackson knew he was lucky to have such a good friend and he was glad that he could help even it was just a little bit. They have been through a lot together and it seemed that they had some tough times ahead of them, but for now he would enjoy the good times.


Lieutenant Jackson Smith
Chief Intelligence Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Lieutenant Junior Grade Soto Gantt
Assistant Chief Engineering Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298


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Comments (2)

By Warrant Officer Arlan Harlan on Mon Apr 20th, 2020 @ 7:58pm

This is a great interaction between two strong characters. Great job guys! But don't let Gantt think he can turn into another Harlan. My eyes are on you...

By Captain Malcom Llwyedd on Wed Jul 22nd, 2020 @ 8:15am

This duo is one of my favorites. I love that they are always there for each other and care about each other. More!