Month 6, Day 12
Smythe sighed as Yellow Dog returned from placing the bottle of whiskey on the floor. “Yeoman, I know Colleen likes that stuff.” Quite a lot. “But do you think she’s so addicted you can trap her with it?” That’s all we need on the crew, an out-of-control alcoholic communications officer.
“No trap,” the normally uncommunicative woman responded, and glanced at him. “Not addicted.”
Apparently, she has no idea how much of the stuff Colleen has brought aboard. Even I’ve lost count, and I doubt if I know about all of the bottles. It’s definitely more than three. He considered the four bottles the yeoman still held against her chest.
Smitty was about to disagree with Yellow Dog when the air vent cover landed on the floor with a crash. He watched in shock as a haggard Colleen crawled out of the vent. How did she ever fit in there? Wouldn’t have believed she could, if I hadn’t seen it. She’s too... rounded.
Without rising, Colleen made her way to the bottle. She sat to open it.
“How did you know she was here?” Smitty asked, but the yeoman only shrugged. “Where did you get all that whiskey?”
“Found,” she answered.
Unsatisfied, he turned his attention back to Colleen just in time to see her raise the bottle to her lips and drink the contents down. The entire bottle! Didn’t even pause to take a breath! She’s killing herself! Well, it might be an easier death, at that. If only I’d understood what was going on earlier! We’ve got to get her to the bridge! This has to work!
With the bottle empty, Colleen sat where she was, her head sagging, for a couple moments, then raised her head to look at them. Strangely, her face seemed to have a hint of color to it now; it was no longer the absolute white and gray it had been before. With great difficulty, she climbed to her feet, staggered as she turned to face them. A dark blue aura shimmered around her. “Dog,” she greeted, but her voice seemed to come from very far away. The aura disappeared.
The yeoman held out another bottle, showing it to the redhead. “Come,” she requested, and bumped Smitty with her elbow, urging him out of the room. She put the second bottle on the floor in the hallway, and they slowly started their journey to the primary bridge.
Smitty couldn’t help but look back repeatedly. The redhead actually did follow them, at least as far as the doorway. She leaned against the bulkhead, much as he had, looking too exhausted to continue. But after a couple deep breaths, she picked up the bottle Yellow Dog had left behind, took a drink, and then staggered on in their wake.
“She trusts you,” Smitty muttered as they neared the lift.
“Yes,” the yeoman agreed.
He eyed the lift doors as they approached. “How do you tell her to go to the bridge? We occasionally can hear her, but she doesn’t seem to hear what we say.”
He mulled that over, not sure what she meant. After glancing behind again, he asked, “You mean, get her on the lift with us?”
She turned her head and brown eyes considered him carefully. “Yes.”
His brow furrowed into a frown. “Considering that... electrical charge she has - and doesn’t really seem able to control - that is fairly tight quarters. We may wind up unconscious.”
Again the yeoman shrugged. “Gamble.”
Smitty grunted. That’s a gamble, alright. It’s a gamble that one of us will manage to instruct the lift before we lose consciousness. And if we don’t, Colleen may never realize we’ve moved her work to the primary bridge, where it needs to be. So, since the girl’s life... lives? ...is on the line, I refuse to lose consciousness until after the lift is instructed.
The door opened, and Yellow Dog entered without hesitation, stood against the wall opposite the door, followed closely by Smitty. Colleen stopped a few feet from the lift, watched them warily. The door started to close. “Hold here,” Smitty told the computer.
The door reversed its movement. “Holding,” the computer stated.
Maybe I could- “Computer when I tell you to go, take us directly to the bridge, with no stops along the way. Do you understand?”
“Understood,” the computer returned.
Colleen looked down the hall behind her, then considered the two of them yet again, her brow furrowed in confusion. Yellow Dog waved for her to join them.
“Show her another bottle,” Smitty suggested.
The yeoman sighed but took hold of another bottle by the neck and held it up where Colleen could see the label. The redhead cocked her head to one side, and held up the bottle she still had. It was half full.
Don’t tell me this isn’t going to work! It’s got to work!.
It was a strange thing to see, but Colleen approached the lift jerkily. Like she’s... dragging herself? If both of them really are in there together, which one is dragging the other? She finally stepped inside the door line - barely - and stopped abruptly.
“Go,” Smitty said softly. The door silently closed so close to the girl, it stirred the bottom hem of her uniform. They were on their way to the bridge. Hope they’ve got that contraption put back together for her. Doesn’t look like she’s got the energy to repeat any work she’s already done once.