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Part of Challenger: The Romulan War: Calling The Shots

Calling The Shots – Two

Challenger NX-03, Denobula Triaxa system, Beta Quadrant
Tuesday, February 8th, 2157
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“Shuttlepod One to Challenger, requesting permission to dock.” Lieutenant (JG) Hathaway asked in her thick Scottish accent after flipping the communication switch.

“Permission granted Shuttlepod One, proceed to launch bay one with Shuttlepod Two. Welcome home weary fighters!” answered Lieutenant (JG) Tanisha Avery. 

“Thanks, Tanisha,” Hathaway replied before closing the channel with another flip of the switch. 

“Now that’s an impressive sight to see,” spoke Captain Luis Trummler from behind Hathaway.

The pilot looked over her left shoulder to see the MACO commander creeping forward to see the image before them. The Columbia-class starship was just ahead of them and was slowing down to allow them to dock. She shook her head and rolled her eyes at Trommler’s words before replying. “I will never understand what you guys see in a ship that makes you get all weak at the knees when you see it from the outside. Rupesh is the same.”

Mentioning her husband, Trommler chuckled. “My first sergeant has taste,” He stated before returning to his seat. 

“In starships or women?” Hathaway countered back as she started to slow their shuttlepod down. They weren’t the only shuttle in use right now. Three others were following them in towards Challenger while other shuttlepods carrying other MACO units were heading to the other ships in the task force. 

Hearing that question caused Liam Jenkins to pipe up. “Do not answer that question, sir.”

“Sergeant Jenkins is right,” First Lieutenant Alder advised her commander. “Or if you do, just make sure you are certain you want to be responsible for a domestic on board the ship, sir.” 

Trommler looked at his deputy and then at the sergeant. “Do I hear a sense of worry from my right-hand woman and my specialist lead?”

“Seriously, sir, it’s not worth you even trying to answer it. You’ll place yourself and Gunnery Sergeant Iyer in the biggest ditch,” Jenkins retorted. “Plus, you may put the entire unit in jeopardy by not keeping Angela sweet next time we need a pick-up.”

“Liam, you are wise beyond your years, my friend,” Hathaway stated. “However, Captain Trommler is not wiggling himself out of this one.”

“Well, obviously, the answer is women,” Trommler said after a second before quickly adding an addendum. “Though I should say, woman, as he only has eyes for one particular woman in his life.” He smiled sweetly at Hathaway.

  Hathaway burst out laughing at hearing the German soldier make that remark. “Oh, Luis, you are full of bullshit, but I love it!” She looked over her shoulder at Jenkins and Alder. “Don’t worry guys, he’s saved you from having to beg another pilot for a ride home.”

“Ouch, Angie, I thought our common sisterhood would ensure I get a free pass on whatever crap Luis shares,” Alder said in a mocking distressed way.

“Aye, that’s true. I take it back,” the pilot said, still grinning before carrying on. “And don’t worry, Liam, you married to a fellow lieutenant keeps you in the good books.”

More laughter filled the cramped shuttlepod with both Jenkins and Alder thanking Hathaway for her thoughts on the matter at hand.

“Hey, both Tanisha and I have been dating for over eighteen months, do I not get some consideration for that?” Trommler mockingly protested. 

Hathaway considered it for a second and then shook her head. “No, as you’ve not put a ring on it yet!”

Sighing heavily at hearing that, Trommler slumped into his chair. “Hey, there’s a war on. I’ve been busy.”

“That’s a poor excuse, sir,” Jenkins stated. “I’m married after only a few months of knowing Niall, and Angela and Rupesh got married after a year of dating. Plus the captain married within two years.”

“Yeah, yeah, don’t start with me telling me about the boom in weddings since the war started,” Trommler deflected. “Anyway, Tanisha has said she doesn’t want to get married, yet. With her recent promotion and us having our hands full with our jobs, it’s been hard to talk about it.”

“Just don’t leave it too long,” Hathaway advised. “Or you’ll become the only bachelor on Challenger.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Trommler asked as the shuttlepod jolted as it connected to the telescoping arm.

“Well, a good number of people have coupled up,” Hathaway said. “I hear our newly promoted Lance Corporal, who’s sitting quietly at the back, has been seen sharing a meal with a certain young Russian science officer in the mess hall.”

Hearing his rank be mentioned, Lance Corporal Harvey Rafterty looked up from staring down at the deck plating and was about to protest when Jenkins jumped in for him.

“Hey, leave Harvey out of this,” Jenkins said, showing that he had the corporal’s back.

“Ooo, do I sense you know something, Liam?” Hathaway teased.

Shaking his head, Liam just placed his arm around Rafterty who was next to him and answered the pilot. “No, just protecting my little brother here.”

Rafterty chuckled at Jenkins. “Thanks, Liam, but I don’t need my big brother to defend me against a rumour.”

“I’m always here for you little bro,” Jenkins said with a smirk. “Even when you get your foot stuck in a hole!”

Rafferty laughed at that incident before responding. “Like I’m there for you when you get your butt stuck in an access tunnel!”

“Hey, I’ve told you before it was my backpack that got stuck!” Jenkins responded in defence.

Alder now chimed in. “Yeah, yeah, Liam. We all know it was your rear end that was stuck.”

“You weren’t the one who had to push it to get him out of there, ma’am.” Rafterty reminded his superior which caused more laughter. 

“And that’s why we’re bros, and we need to stick together,” Jenkins stated. 

“Aye, sir,” Jenkins said with a mocking salute. 

The banter between the MACOs came to a gradual end as their shuttlepod eventually docked, and the launch bay doors were closed. The green light above them went off to say the bay was repressurized for them to exit their vehicle. 

“Well, however much it is nice to hear how much Harvey has touched Liam’s derrière, ladies and gentlemen, we are finally home. Please ensure you depart the craft in an orderly fashion, and remember to take all your belongings with you,” Hathaway stated.

“Thank you as always Angie,” Trommler said as the MACOs started to climb out of the shuttlepod. 

Hathaway flipped the last of the switches to turn the shuttlepod off and looked at the MACO leader. “Anytime Luis,” She said with a smirk. “Even if you do you think my husband likes the Challenger more than me.”

“I’m never going to live that down, am I?” Trommler asked the group.

“No!” They all said in unison before laughing more as they exited the vehicle. 

Everyone moved along to the locker room to deposit their belongings so that the quartermaster could run checks to make sure all of it worked plus no alien substance was on them that would damage them later or make others ill. Once they had done this, they all went through the decontamination scanner to ensure none of them was bringing back a lethal microbe, virus or bacteria themselves. Operating the scanner was Lieutenant (JG) Stewart. 

“Luis, Liam and Harvey, you need to go to the decon chamber,” Stewart ordered over the intercom on the other side of the room. He stood in the control room and was looking over the results of the scanner. A window between them and he allowed them to see one another with protection.

“Problem?” Trommler asked Challenger’s senior nursing officer. 

Stewart nodded. “Yeah, I’m detecting that all three of you have been exposed to a protocystian spore.” 

“Is it fatal?” Trommler questioned, sounding a bit worried. 

“I don’t think so, but I’ll get Doctor Payne to double-check. Get yourselves into the chamber and away from the others and I’ll be back with the results.” Stewart stated.

All three MACO men nodded and proceeded as they were told. Before Trommler entered the chamber, he ordered Alder to get started on their after-action report. Moments later and Stewart returned with Hillary Payne. The doctor appeared with the nurse.

“Hey fellas,” She said over the intercom and through the viewport. “Did you guys encounter anything on the moon that the others didn’t?”

Trommler, Jenkins and Rafterty looked at each other before Jenkins realised something. “We were the only ones to enter that empty dark room.”

“You mean that broom closet?” Trommler asked.

“Liam is right, for the rest of the time we were all together,” Rafterty pointed out.   

“It may have been more than a broom closet,” Payne suggested, “but it’s nothing to worry about. We can treat it.”

“I’m loading the appropriate decon gel into compartment B,” Stewart announced. “You’ll need to spend a few hours in there.”

“How long?” Jenkins asked his husband.

“At least eight, maybe ten.”

“You best cancel our dinner plans then!” Jenkins suggested to Stewart.

“Don’t worry Liam, I’ve heard all about your plans, I’ll join Niall so the food doesn’t go to waste!” Payne cheekily stated.

“Right, come on guys. Let’s get Niall’s special goo on us before one of us mutates into an alien lizard or something,” Trommler stated as he started to strip down into his underwear. “And the quicker we apply it, the quicker we can get out of here!”

“That’s fine with me sir, as long as I don’t have to touch Liam’s butt with it!” Rafterty jokingly said. 

“Hey, no one touches my husband’s rear without my consent!” Stewart told them over the intercom. “And it’s not my goo. It’s Starfleet Medical goo!” The nurse paused as he noticed them all cracking up with more laughter. “Now, seriously get in the decon chamber before you turn into lizards!”

“Aye, sir!” Jenkins said with a wink to his husband as he pulled his shirt off and started to undo his trousers.

“Call us if you need anything!” Payne added before both she and Stewart closed the window and the intercom, giving the three men some privacy. 

Entering the large decon chamber, all three men were only in their trunks now. Rafferty had headed over to the compartment and pulled out the gel that Stewart had sent them. Opening the tin, he sniffed it. “Smells like mint,” He remarked before pushing it under Jenkins’ nose. 

“Nah, smells more like lavender,” Jenkins stated as he stuck his fingers into it and then proceeded to rub his arms and chest with it. 

Trommler took some gel and started on his legs. “Nein, it smells more like chocolate.”

“Just don’t eat it, sir,” Rafterty advised as he proceeded to rub the gel across his stomach. 

“Or lick it off one of us!” Jenkins added as he finished his front and then put some more gel on his fingers. He offered to do Trommler’s back while Rafterty did his. 

“It’s cold, whatever it is,” Trommler noted as Jenkins rubbed his neck, shoulders and back with it. 

Once they were all covered in the gel, the three MACOs sat down on the bench while the ultraviolet radiation did its work. 

“You know Hillary said we could call them for anything?” Trommler asked aloud. 

Jenkins and Rafterty had both closed their eyes once they had sat down. Jenkins opened his eye a bit to look at Trommler. “What are you thinking, Luis?”

“Music, beer and some snacks would be great right now!” Trommler answered.

“I agree,” Rafterty stated.

The intercom then went off and the voice of Doctor Ben-Ami followed. “Gentlemen, my sickbay isn’t a five-star hotel with twenty-four-hour room service, I’m afraid.”  

 “You can’t blame us for trying!” Trommler replied to the chief medical officer.

“I can’t,” Ben-Ami admitted. “Just try to relax and let the decon chamber do its work. We’ll let you know how you’re getting on in a couple of hours. Sickbay out!”

“Liam, are you sure you can’t get Niall to sneak something in for us?” Trommler whispered.

“Absolutely not,” Jenkins replied. “I’m not having him face the wrath of our chief medical officer.”

“Fair enough,” Trommler sighed before closing his eyes and leaning his back against the wall of the decon chamber. “Do you know what, I think this may be the first time since the war started I’ve been forced to relax?”

“Normally you need to be quiet to do that, Luis,” Jenkins stated.

“I’m not sure the captain knows how to be quiet,” Rafferty said as he adjusted himself, sitting between his two superiors. “No offensive, sir.”

“None was taken,” Trommler replied, “and if I do fall asleep, don’t be upset that I snore or talk in my sleep.”

“Oh great!” Jenkins moaned before closing his eyes again.

“It definitely smells like chocolate,” Trommler said after a few seconds of silence.

“Lavender,” Jenkins argued back.

“Mint!” Rafferty stated with further conviction before all three men burst out into laughter like a group of naughty school kids.