Bugging Out

Riley checked the time and took a long pull from the container sitting beside her in the cockpit. Scowling, she shook the container. Bone dry. It wasn’t like anything was happening. There were no random asteroid fields, no ships within radar, nothing but the black and… she glanced over at her calendar. “Sixteen more days.” This would be it - the last flight with Tetrahalcynate, but that was still sixteen days away and for now? Hydration.

At first the Lieutenant was impressed with her punk Crew Chief’s new work ethic. The drogs were well-kempt, the cargo bay was spotless, the state rooms were well on their way to being usable, and the crew chief himself had seemingly made it his mission to scrub every usable space top to bottom. He cleaned and rearranged shelves, He scrubbed the inside of cabinets. It’d gone beyond admirable, sliding into downright…

“Evening.” she said as the boy lay on his stomach, cleaning out underneath of the stove. “You trying to starve the rats? How will we know if the ship’s in trouble?”

“Rats in space?” Vas chortled. “With all the Drogs onboard I feel bad for the ‘em. Nice to see you out and about Lieutenant.” He said shoulder deep under the stove with a rag. Fingers probing the nooks and crannies underneath.

“I’m sure.” She replied, refilling her canteen and taking a long pull. “I saw the staterooms and the cargo bay last night. Nice to see the crew working hard --” adding under her breath quickly “for once.”

“Yea well … have to justify keeping around the extra deckhand right?” Vas reasoned now satisfied no one was listening on whatever the mechanic cook in or on the stove. “Thought the Engineer tends to keep to herself most of the time.” He mostly stayed out of her way and so long holy hell Lieutenant didn’t rain down on him he was happy to let her run her kingdom in the engine room as she saw fit.

Thought … at the moment Vas was hemming and hawing inside. He was trying to find the right time and place to tell her about his little discoveries. Just her know so far of two little ears hidden in the nooks and crannies of the galley so far.

“Uh huh. You know Jat, I was born at night - but not last night. You want to tell me what’s going on? Nobody cleans under a stove, unless they’ve lost something. Somebody stowe something on this ship without my say so?”

“Damn right no one’s ever cleaned under the stove …”Vas muttered.” … but ain’t nothing going on.” Vas said but he nodded his head up and down ‘Yes’ and tapped his ear. “Ship really needed a once over. Since I had to sterilize the Med Bay I figured I would keep going.”
Riley quirked an eyebrow. Maybe he hit his head over on the Skyhook, either that or all those nose breaks finally pushed something up into his grey matter.

“Aye, I’m agreeing with you, and I appreciate the elbow grease” Riley narrowed her eyes, trying to interpret the punk’s version of charades. Something was on the ship without her say so, and he didn’t want anyone to overhear. “I have to get back to the cockpit. Follow. I want to hear your plan for the next sixteen days to make sure no one slacks off.”

“As you say, Lieutenant …” Vas said trailing after her and pencil rolling through his finger ideally.
Inside the cockpit, Riley motioned for him to close the door. (Asphyxiation! Dammit! I thought we had that fixed!) Once she was satisfied hearing the click, she folded her arms across her chest and glared in his direction, head tilted slightly to the side. “Out with it.” She ordered.

“Someone is planting bug’s ‘round the ship.” Vas stated flatly.

“Come again?” She asked, her voice as devoid of emotion as his. “Who?”

“Bugs … you know ... a tap? A remote listening device?” Vas said clarifying. If he was any more clear might turn into a gorram window! “On the ship.”

“I know what a bug is.” The Lieutenant snarled. “It wasn’t what I was expecting to hear. I’m also deducting that since you said ‘someone’ that you don’t know in fact who it is, because not telling me would be bad for your untenured career. Who do you suspect?”

“Oh … The Widow, The Engineer or Leo.” Vas said keeping it succinct.

“Interesting. I take it this is a recent discovery?”

“Not long after out we touched off of the Skyplex.” He answered.

“Have you removed any of them?” She asked, clenching her jaw.

“No Lieutenent.”

“Good. Maybe you should see to it that the cabins of the Engineer and Hen-Leo are thoroughly fumigated because of this insect infestation. Rule them out first. I don’t see our good passenger out of her room enough to be planting wires, but if your search -- cleaning -- of the other two yields no results, we’ll -- do what we have to. I know the Captain will back that, so anyone gives you shit, you tell ‘em Captain’s orders. They can come see me if they have any complaints. Are we clear? The hell would someone want to listen in on the Gorram nonsense you all bullshit about around the table….” she added under her breath.

“Ain’t just the galley … Med Bay is where I found the first one. Them be the fancy kind too, small short-range. I think you don’t plant those things around unless there is something worth listening to. I know it ain’t me, or my deckhands. But someone is trying to listen on something important from someone else on this ship.” Vas pointed out reasonably. Otherwise, Riley would be right. Why would anyone want to listen in on a bunch of spacers bullshitting?

“So that means we have two potential issues. Finding out who is bugging the ship, and possibly more importantly, what they’re trying to find out.”

“Pretty much. Find one and well get answers for both. I hop on that quick. Bed bugs tend to move quickly in tight quarters if you don’t get them quickly.” Vas said pretty sure they had all they need for the charade.

“Filthy critters. Do what you need to eliminate them, Jat, for good.”

“No problem Lieutenant.”

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