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It's The Little Things...

Posted on Sun Mar 1st, 2020 @ 12:07pm by Comm Tech Wulf Edevane & Executive Officer Kenneth McTigue

Mission: The Forgotten Arm
Location: On Board the Albatross
Timeline: Eros Incident Minus 4 months

Wulf was bored. He'd had way too much time to play games, read books, tweak tech and binge shows that he'd shamelessly pirated. He'd exhausted his selection of adult entertainment, rejigged the servers and drives until everything was in alphabetical order, neatly documented and protected sixteen ways through Sunday. He'd pestered Allegra for flying lessons, played cards with Soto and even considered hitting up Mickey for yet another game of cards, but stopped just before he'd knocked on that door. An idea had come to him, a beautiful, wonderful, magically simple idea filled with malicious intent and yet dusted with genuine fraternal affection.

He'd waited, impatient as hell, until he knew Ken was asleep. Listened outside the engineer's bunk to be sure he heard those deep rumbling snores, and then walked confidently down to the machine shop the two of them had both shared since Wulf's arrival on the Tross just under two years ago. It had been a shaky, untrusting start, that process of cohabiting a workspace, mostly down to the tech's initial error in assuming he had equal rights, but Wulf had proved his worth. He'd done his time. He'd worked hard for his respect.

And that respect definitely called for the occasional push in the opposite direction. Sometimes this cycle of affectionate mutual mischief was begun by the elder, sometimes by the younger, but it always tended to escalate slowly and end up involving an intervention. It had been too long. It needed a revival.

So, after breakfast the next morning, Wulf sat impatiently swinging his feet under the kitchen table, waiting for his clever jape to be discovered. It was only a matter of time until Ken needed to lift his toolbox, that mainstay of the engineering work environment, and then the trap would be sprung.

When he lifted it up, the bottom of the box would remain on the floor, every metallic tool and bit of kit within the box connected together, magnetised in a long beautiful clumpy string of frustrating clankiness.

Ken just stared at the boxcover in his hand for a long moment. His beautiful red, double width, rescued from the UNMC, toolbox was in two pieces. When that last happened one of the two bolts of the handle had just broken through. But now he simply stared at a string of wrenches, screwdrivers, a hammer, and several other tools portruding from the box towards boxcover in a long magnetic chain.

"What the fuck." Ken finally muttered as he pulled the boxcover up and felt it resisting due to it's magnetic tethers of tools. Each piece of gear was beautifully connected to the other by the tips through the use of a magnetizing tool. Ken janked but it wouldn't budge. His mind clicked over the possible ways this could have happened. His magnetizing tool wasn't in his box, he kept in a drawer. And then it clicked over. "Wulf!" he finally bellowed and tossed the boxcover to the deck, creating a clanking noise resonating through the ship.

"If I get my hands on that little shit." Old Ken growled as he walked to the door and into the elevator up the ship.

Sipping at a hot chocolate peacefully, Wulf visibly flinched with his entire body as he heard his name resonate through the Tross' interior. A big dirty grin swiftly followed that fleeting second of panic and he stood up, wandered over to the coffee machine and brewed up Ken's preferred beverage. With a freshly filled coffee bulb in his hand and as innocent an expression as he could muster up, Wulf leant in the galley doorway, ready to meet the inbound human storm.

"Everything okay?" He asked, as soon as Ken hove into sight.

"You messed with my gear?" Ken asked loudly and angrily. His nostrils were flaring with frustration as he stepped into the Wulf's personal space, glaring down upon his friend.

"Who? Me?" Wulf momentarily became the picture of complete and utter innocence, big dark eyes like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar. Then, as Ken stepped closer, Wulf stepped back and looked up to the engineer's moody face. "Yeah," he admitted, dryly. "I did. Pretty cool though huh? I didn't think all that stuff would really hold together..." he continued. "It did though, right?"

Ken gave Wulf a proper stink eye for a long moment. Then he turned around and stepped out the galley. Before the lift hatch banged close Ken called back "Yeah, it held together."

Totally worth it. The Look? Priceless. Wulf sipped the coffee and made a face that suggested he'd far rather ditch the beverage. Ken's words might have been a innocent threesome, but Wulf knew they were an unspoken promise. It was ON.

A few days later Ken got his revenge in. It had cost him sixteen roles of electrical tape and half a night. But everything in Wulf's part of the workshop was wrapped neatly in a variety of colours of tape. His toolpouch was wrapped in nice red tape, each tool wrapped indepedently in tape as well. His workshop couch had clean wrappings of black electrical tape. His workdesk had bright yellow tape wrapped around it. Ken had even taken the time to wrap the several bundles of fibre-optic wiring in clean and neat coffins of electrical tape.

Lost in his own little world, Wulf strolled merrily into the workshop, singing a happy little song, ready to get shit done and then stopped just short of his desk. Mouth open, eyes wide, he stared at this bastardisation of some Christmas morning from Hell and stood, stunned into temporary silence by the sheer magnitude of it all. Then he dropped to his knees on the floor and howled.

"Noooooooooooooooooo!" That ten minute job Mickey wanted doing was definitely more of a three hour turnaround now. Wulf didn't even bother starting to try and unravel the sticky carnage. He dragged himself up, turned around and stormed off in the direction of Ken's cabin. "Ken, dude... You BASTARD!!" He called ahead with a broken angry tone by way of warning.

From his couch, Ken laughed his ass as he heard the shouting reverberate. He swivled the couch to face the door, waiting with a gleeful grin.

Wulf could hear the engineer's laughter as he smacked an open palm on the door panel and waited the precious unwanted second for said door to open. His face rocked an anger theme, dark eyes furious and his hands in clenched fists to his side as the tech marched in and walked right on up to within punching distance.

"What the actual fuck?!" Yelled Wulf right in Ken's face. "You better be helping me undo this!"

Through his uncontained laughter Ken replied: "Like you helped fix my toolbox, and demagnetize all my tools?" The laughter died down a bit as Ken actually wiped a tear from his eye. "It took me seven hours to unfuck that mess. Turnabout is fair play. But here." And Ken tossed Wulf a folding knife. "This should help."

Wulf stamped a moody foot on the ground as he furled and unfurled his fingers. Ken's laughter only fuelled the fire, but slowly as Wulf stood rooted to the spot he edged his ire down a notch. Just one. Ken was right, of course. It was fair comment. Wulf had started the game (this time anyway) but that didn't wash away the anger and it didn't solve the problem.

"Great," snapped Wulf, as he caught the knife between right hand and thigh. "Thanks..." Any gratitude was a long way behind in his tone or expression. "You don't have to look so bloody happy about it," the tech complained bitterly. "Mickey's gonna kill me, but laugh it up why don't you."

Ken gave a wide grin and a wink. "Better get to it then kid."

The young man turned, thumped a fist into Ken's cabin wall and winced at the resultant pain.

"Well-fucking-played," Wulf muttered begrudgingly.

The engineer nodded graciously.

He'd been overthinking it. For well over a fortnight in fact. And then, finally, Wulf had his Eureka moment. It wasn't a proud moment, or one he'd tell anyone about, but sometimes inspiration just came from the animated world and there was nothing he could do about that. He grinned. A big stupid childlike smirk of pure happiness. This. Was going to be. Awesome.

The nuts and bolts of the idea, so to speak, weren't real at all, not in normal people's terms. The virtual world came to Wulf's assistance as it so very often did. Kinda fitting really considering who was being taken for the ride.

By the middle of the third week, Ken might have been forgiven for thinking the prank war was over. But it took Wulf a little while to figure out the logistics.

That next morning, Ken was going to find himself, at least aurally, in the cartoon world. Accompanied by a myriad of overexaggerated toon sound effects as he walked, moved and went about his day to day work. Hell, Wulf threw in a little theme tune for his buddy too, just for shits and giggles. It seemed only fair. He laid back on his bunk and luxuriated in his own genius. Ken, the tech decided, would love this. Right?

Ken flipped his covers away from him and stretched in his couch. When the gimbal shifted it didn't make a quiet hydraulic hiss. Instead the sound was that of a loud groan. Confusion ran over Ken's face. Had the hydraulics leaked? He flipped his feet over the bed, and as soon as they touched the ground a quiet double honk was produced. Ken shook his head thinking he must've imagined it.

He got out of bed and checked under his couch, but there was nothing but the usual crap there. As he stood straight again, the honk was faintly audible. When he turned around and took a step it was there again, and again on the next step. Out of habit Ken slipped his hand terminal into his pajama pocket and stepped out. The honking sound of steps followed him to the door.

When he pressed the door the button let out an screech of pain, and the door a wooshing sound like the wind as it slid open. Ken studied the door for a long moment, wondering just what the hell was happening. The door wooshed again as it slid closed, but Ken pressed the screaming button again and it wooshed open. Honks followed him to the head, while Ken's head had wrinkles deepening further and further.

When the second button screamed in a different voice, and the door to the head had a different woosh it slowly started clicking. Ken turned around and honked to the galley, looking for his pranking adversary.

Wulf wasn't in the galley. He'd set up shop on the Ops deck and was monitoring Ken's progress from the Zee-sized passenger on the engineer's terminal. No camera - that would be weird - but via a little clown-shaped avatar moving along within the deck plan of the Tross. The tech sat back in his chair, stifling his laughter with a loose hand over his own mouth and added in the musical layer along with some colourful footprints that left a little trail behind his victim.

Ken looked around the galley to no avail. "Where is the little goblin?" he asked out loud to himself. And that's when the background music kicked in. Ken looked around the galley left, right, up, and down. Then he felt the sound waves move the fabric of his shorts and it clicked. He pulled the terminal out of his pocket and felt as much as heard the speaker play the background noise of Misko and Marisko.

With the terminal, he pulled up Wulf's location. Every touch on the panel left out the sound of a cat's meow. A few moments later Ken's new destination had been decided. And with honking sounds, Misko and Marisko wooshing, screaming, and the longest ever burp when he wrote the elevator, Ken appeared in Ops. "What the fuck did you do to my terminal?"

A snicker of amusement was momentarily hidden as the loud music filtered through the ship, followed by meowing. That gorgeous elongated burp sound brought a full on giggles attack though, and Wulf snorted air out of his nose as Ken strolled into view. He literally couldn't speak as the Misko and Marisko happy theme tune played around the stoic engineer.

"I improved it," Wulf eventually managed to speak and breathe simultaneously. "Zee - activate Misko-Mode."

And around Ken, a 3D projection made him into the big pink dinosaur.

Ken looked at the terminal in his hand, then back at Wulf through the hologram. "How the hell did you get access to my terminal?" Ken asked, then remembered he was talking to Wulf. "You hacked my terminal? That's crossing a line, man."

"Not really hacked.... just gave you a temporary passenger," Wulf nitpicked. "She's riding on the streaming service link from the ship's computer. I didn't look at any of your stuff. And I didn't have to mess with any of your files. More of an overlay kinda deal.Y'know, like when I get you the high end pay per view porn." He sounded so happy about this. "You just look so.... cute..." He chuckled.

"Right..." Ken said as he looked down on his hand terminal. "You get thirty seconds to quit the program and get your passenger from my terminal before I break it in two and throw it in the recycler." Ken held his terminal up.

Wulf frowned. This wasn't as much fun as he'd hoped, though the immediate pay-off had been awesome, the fall-out was starting to make the whole event feel less worthwhile.

"Zee - exit clean," he said, enunciating clearly while trying and failing not to look too forlorn. There was a second of silence before the AI program responded.

'Exit Clean complete, Wulf.' responded the cheerful female voice. 'Confirming zero trace of presence in Terminal Bravo.'

"Thank you." Ken said before pocketing his terminal and exiting the Ops deck. The following shower Ken took was blessedly quiet, allowing him to plan his revenge.

Ken had snuck into Wulf's quarters after the kid had left for his duty. In hand was a set of powered wrenches, and a plasma cutter. It took the better part of an hour, but he managed to cut Wulf's couch out of its place on deck. Ken grunted as he lifted the couch into the air and onto his little cart. Quietly he moved it into the engineering bay, hiding it behind several of his large crates of tools. Now he just had to wait.

It hadn't felt like a particularly long shift, but Wulf yawned as he stepped away from the terminal and rubbed his tired eyes. Too much screen time, and he really should have taken a couple of breaks, but the hours had flown by. Admittedly that hadn't all been work-related, but research and security protocols, checks, scans and updates were just as important as the duties he needed to get done. Granted those duties hadn't taken as long as the game he'd been playing in the background. His head hurt.

Maybe he'd just chill out in his bunk for a bit, fire up some tunes or a story and nap some.

The door opened. Wulf walked in. No less than three classic double takes later, he turned around and walked back out into the corridor again, expression forlorn. "Zee," he asked, so he didn't have to study his hand terminal. "Where is Ken?"

Ken was sitting in the galley, enjoying a bottle of whisky he had gotten from Earth a couple years back and paid far too much for. Simply enjoying good times after a long day at work.

"Dude," said Wulf as he walked in, shoulders slumped just a little more than usual. "Where's my couch?"

"Why are you asking me?" Ken asked innocently before pouring a second glass of brown gold and sliding it to the other side of the table.

Wulf paused for a moment, slightly taken aback. Then he decided to overthink it. "Huh?" He asked, a deep frown marring his brow. But Ken was both super chilled out and offering him a drink, so the tech decided to play along. "Who the fuck else would have moved my couch?"

"Oh, that was me." Ken shrugged with a smile. He took a sip of his whisky and savoured it. "Payback for fucking with my terminal. I'll put it back, on the condition that we're even."

"You sure?" Wulf countered. He took a tiny sip of the whisky and closed his eyes. That was The Good Stuff. He was pretty sure he hadn't tasted that since his sister had raided the drinks cabinet back home. "How'd you even..." He considered this a moment longer then shook his head. "Hell, I'm not even angry, I'm kinda impressed." Wulf sipped the liquor a second time and leaned back in his chair. "But we are soooo not even."

"So, you going to find, and put your own couch back then?" Ken asked, his lips curving up slightly. "Do you even know how the welding kit works?" The engineer teased before sipping again.

A scowl clouded Wulf's features as he considered this. The Tross was only so big, and it was a closed system, right? How long could it take to find his bed while they were stuck out here in transit anyway... But, and here was the kicker, Ken had a point. He could watch vids on how to work a welding kit though. Maybe that would be enough?

"No," Wulf admitted. "I don't know how it works. But I can learn." In the meantime though, where the hell was he going to sleep? "Where's my bed, dude?" He asked, a little desperation creeping into his tone now.

"Accept my cease fire, or I'll open the airlock and send your couch out." The magnet of the bulb Ken was drinking on clicked to the table.

"You..." Wulf held the glass between them like a tiny alcoholic shield and unintentionally hit Ken with puppy dog eyes. "You wouldn't dare." He had a feeling Ken really would, but chose to ignore that nagging doubt. "Mickey'd stop you," Wulf rallied. He was almost sure. Well, a little bit anyways.

"Mickey knows better." Ken pulled up his hand terminal and showed Wulf that Ken had transferred airlock control to his terminal. The outer door was already locked and secured. The outer door was primed for explosive decompression. Ken then raised an eyebrow.

His heart thumped involuntarily faster. Ken and Mickey went way back and Wulf knew that for sure. He'd heard the story, or at least part of it in the year and some months he'd been aboard. They'd bought the ship together, Mickey, Soto and Ken. In wonky logic, it definitely scanned right in the tech's mind that Mickey would take Ken's side when it came down to it. Wulf's forlorn look intensified accordingly. "Don't..." he half-pleaded. "Ken, please? Don't." He held up his hands in surrender.

Ken put the terminal on the table and extended his hand, "Then it's a ceasefire? This round of pranks over?"

Wulf's expression encapsulated the pain of defeat perfectly. He looked visibly crushed as his soulful nod was offered slowly and with real feeling. He looked at Ken's hand and sighed. "Yeah," Wulf said miserably and he put his hand into Ken's. "You win, dude."

A firm handshake followed, "Not so glum, chum." and Ken clapped his other hand on Wulf's. "That trick with my terminal was proper impressive." Ken let go of Wulf's hand and poured another two fingers in Wulf's bulb. "Have another drink, I'll get your couch back in its proper place and you can crash."

That second hand atop his own steadied Wulf a little, and as tech looked up at engineer, he briefly grinned. "Thanks buddy," Wulf noted gratefully. "That one took a bit of time to figure out. Sorry for the privacy invasion, but I really didn't do anything to your files. Promise." His gaze lowered and then tracked back with the motion of Ken's hands. "S'fancy stuff," Wulf noted with appreciation as he sipped more whisky and yawned.

"Fanks. But... S'okay," the tech noted then, somewhat soporifically, reaping the benefits of the last few days blurring rapidly from 'day' to 'night' and back again. "I can sleep here." Wulf cradled the whisky bulb and rested his head on his forearm.

Ken shook his head and took the bottle on his way out. He stowed it behind a loose bulkhead in the engineering bay, somewhere nobody would think to look. Then he grabbed his toolbox and strapped it to his back before digging out Wulf's couch and lugging it up to Wulf's quarters so he could secure it all safe and sound. An hour later he stepped back in the galley and shook his friend. "Come on sunshine, time for bed."

"I don't wanna go to school, Kamikaze," Wulf mumbled into his arm. Old memories floating up to the surface. "Justlemmesleep?" But reality snuck in under the tech's radar and he opened one eye to look up at Ken. "You're..." Wulf paused, jerked himself into an upright seated position and ran a hand through his thick ruffled hair. "Sorry man," he said, guiltily. "Truce, right?" He double-checked.

Ken slapped Wulf's shoulder and laughed. "Truce, dude. Your couch is back in its place. You should get in it."

That last grin was a genuine expression of a purer happiness. "Thanks, Ken-dog!" Wulf said, truly grateful for such a welcome reward. Bed. Sleep. Hardcore.

"Night buddy," Wulf added, as he stood in the galley doorway and placed his right hand over his heart. "Definitely truce." He stepped into the corridor then turned back one last time to regard Ken, a smile filled with nostalgic contentment wrapped around his sleepy face. "Was fun though, huh?" He asked, then headed off to his bunk.

As he walked, Wulf wondered how long this particular truce would last, and who would initiate the next round of Prank War: Albatross Edition.



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