Fungus Among Us

Science Officer Fergus O'Malley stared at red corridor 343 on the science deck leading to his lab with a look on his face that could only be described as "mildly concerned with a hint of bemusement." The walls of the corridor were coated in a purple fungus that was visibly growing at a rate of four meters per-minute. And it was growing right out of his lab.

"Well... this is quite a pickle innit?" O'Malley said to his assistant, a weedy-looking guy with large glasses named Pickman. Pickman was currently running a psi-scan over the fungus, so engrossed in the activity that he didn't seem to hear O'Malley. "I guess I didn't screw the lid tight enough on that stasis container."

Pickman finally turned to O'Malley and adjusted his glasses. "Think the captain will kill us for this?"

"No doubt, no doubt." O'Malley said rather matter-of-factly. "So, how many have fallen ill from touching it?"

"A handful of guards, and three technicians who were coming to fix the tampon machine round the corner." Pickman said.

"Their sacrifice will be remembered," O'Malley said whilst saluting the valiant technicians. "We need to get to our lab and figure out what went wrong."

"How?" Pickman asked. "We can't touch this stuff. Physical contact results in immediate symptoms."

O'Malley frowned and stroked his chin, deep in thought. "Well... we need someone who can't be touched."

"MC Hammer?" Pickman asked.

"No, someone far less qualified." O'Malley said with a small grin.

Five minutes passed and a very agitated Jason Tanaka stepped out of the turbo lift and glared at the two "scientists" who were smiling at him as if nothing was wrong.

"I really hate you two, you know that?" Tanaka said.

"We know," O'Malley said cheerfully. "So, did Pickman fill you in on the situation?"

"Deadly fungus broke out of your lab, you need me to go soft-light to see what went wrong." Tanaka said. "Right?"

"Exactly!" O'Malley continued to beam. "Best be on with it, we're losing ground after all."

"We've linked your light bee to the psi-scan so we'll get plenty of readings. Hopefully, we'll know what's going on and how to rectify it," Pickman said, shaking the cheap scan with an audible clatter.

"Great." Tanaka sighed and shrugged, his blue jumpsuit shifting to red and he casually stepped into the fungus. Despite not really having actual feet to step on the fungus, Tanaka couldn't help but act as if the whole ordeal was an unpleasant trod through sick. It didn't take him long to reach the infernal lab of O'Malley and Pickman. When he stepped inside it was like stepping into an alien world.

The walls were covered in purple fungus, which had visible green fungal pods that were glowing. It was like Tanaka had stepped into a hellish rave. There were a number of experimental rodents and monkeys in cages which had succumbed to the fungus. And in the center of the room, the epicenter of the fungal outbreak, was a glowing, broken stasis container.

"Get closer to the container, please, Mr. Tanaka." O'Malley said over radio.

Tanaka was hesitant, but did as he was asked. The thing was humming, stasis energy pulsating from within the container.

"Getting readings," Pickman said. "Yep, we're doomed."

"What?" Tanaka exclaimed.

"Ooohhh...." O'Malley droned. "Yeah... That's no good, is it Pickman?"

"What is it?" Tanaka said, just barely containing his panic.

"Somehow the fungus has managed to mingle with the time dialation properties of the stasis container." Pickman explained. "Instead of becoming a quantum nonevent mass, resulting in time standing still within the stasis field, the polarity has been reversed, and time is running faster. Hence the accelerated growth we've been seeing."

"This would explain the speed of the infection as well. We're dealing with a fungal infection fueled by accelerated time." O'Malley added.

"So, what do we do?" Tanaka asked.

There was a pause. Then O'Malley said: "Well I am definitely mailing a complaint to the manufacturers of that container. Customer satisfaction is getting a big zero!"


Meanwhile, in the medibay, Jade was busy stitching up one of the men from the bar brawl when Nurse Hazel let out a shriek. She turned and saw her stepping away from one of the technicians who had come in after being infected from that fungus on the science deck. The technician was acting as if he were choking, clutching at his throat before chucking up a purple-colored blob and going limp on the examination table. The blob, it turned out, was a purple toadstool the size of an apple which stood upright on the tech's chest.

Everyone was silent, watching the mushroom as it shuddered and shook. Then a pair of eyes opened on it and it looked around before little arms and legs sprouted out of its sides and it began to scuttle off of the technician, who was already in the process of puking up a second toadstool. The other infectees were also beginning to puke up sentient mushrooms as well, sending the medibay into chaos.

(OOC: So I decided to run with the fungus plot. I couldn't help but bring back my one-off characters O'Malley and Pickman from the karma field storyline. It felt natural that this issue would be their handiwork. Hope no one minds. In either case, we now have some "funglings" to deal with. I figure the reversed stasis field has resulted in the fungus evolving into gremlin-type critters bound to wreak humorous havoc on the Dwarf.)

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