"Captain Potter, you're talking about putting us close to a week behind schedule. We just can't leave a whole ship sitting here waiting for two whiners with stomach aches to recover," Doctor Frank Burns protested as he paced in front of the command chair of Captain Sherman Potter.
"Can it, Burns," Potter snapped. "As far as I know, there isn't anything that pressing in the Korenoth system."
The turbolift opened onto the bridge allowing Lieutenant Porter to exit.
"One of the Waystation officers to see you, sir," Ensign Walter O'Reilly said from the operations station right next to the turbolift.
"I can see that, Radar," Potter said, rising from his chair.
"I know he's a fellow officer, but doesn't he need clearance to come onto our bridge?" Burns asked. "There's protocol here."
"Why don't you and your protocol skedaddle before my foot sends the lot of you out an airlock?"
"Aye, Captain," Burns groused as he retreated to the turbolift. "I hope you realize the inconvenience you're causing, Mister!" he spat at Porter as he passed.
"Just ignore him," Potter said, stepping over to shake Porter's hand. "Good to see you up and around, son."
"Thank you," Porter said, returning Potter's hand shake. The man had a surprisingly strong grip considering he looked to be well into his later years. "Where are we?"
"Pierce and Hunnicutt didn't give you the welcome speech, I guess. Allow me. Captain Sherman Potter."
"Lieutenant Craig Porter from Waystation."
"Nice to make your acquaintance. As for where you are now, this is the U.S.S. M*A*S*H. NCC-4077."
"Mash?" Porter asked confused. "What a name? What were her sister ships? The Squash and the Crush?"
"It's some old Earth army term. Means...Radar?"
"Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, sir," the young ensign piped up from the rear of the bridge.
"Thank you, Radar," Potter said. "We were on our way to the Korenoth system shipyards when we ran across your ship. Good thing we did, too. You two were in bad shape. Burns wanted us to press on to deal with our own problems, but this ship is not about to turn away from someone in need while I'm in command."
"We appreciate that," Porter said. "What sort of problems are you having?"
"Something in the blasted warp drive. Every time we try to push it above warp two, the whole ship starts bucking like a bronco with a bee sting. Hell if I understand it. Problem is our engineer doesn't either. My first officer is down there with him right now trying to sort the whole mess out."
"I'd be happy to lend a hand," Porter said.
"I'd appreciate that, son," Potter said. "Just take the lift to engineering and look for Commander Houlihan. She'll be the blonde barking orders."
"No problem. Please let Commander Beck know where I am if she needs me," Porter said, heading back towards the lift.
"Sure thing," Potter replied, heading back to his seat.
The turbolift doors opened, and Porter almost ran straight into a thin, kindly-looking man who was on his way onto the bridge.
"I'm terribly sorry," the man said. He looked at Porter. "Oh, you're from the ship we found."
"Right. Lieutenant Porter. I need to get to engineering."
"That's fine. I was looking for you anyway," the man said as he followed Porter into the turbolift.
"Engineering," Porter said, setting the turbolift into motion.
"Counselor Francis Mulcahy," the other man said, introducing himself. "I just wanted to check in with you and your commander to see if you were recovering all right."
"Dr. Hunnicutt says I'm just fine," Porter said. "And I don't think I'm really psychologically scarred at all; although, I won't be touch Eskerelian Chowder for a while."
"A wise precaution," Mulcahy agreed. "Well, if you should need to talk, my doors are always open."
"I take it you don't get a lot of business."
"Sadly no. It's a small ship, and the crew seems to deal with their problems in other ways."
The turbolift started to slow down.
"What sort of ways?" Porter asked as the lift stopped at the doors opened, revealing Dr. Burns. He was currently coated in some sort of steaming green substance that was putting off a strong enough odor to take out a platoon of Klingons.
"Those ways, I'm afraid," Mulcahy said, covering his nose.
"Where's Pierce?" Burns demanded.
"Can you take the next car?" Porter asked, slapping the emergency close panel on the lift wall before Burns could protest.
Beck's legs felt a little unsteady, but, before she could get much beyond an initial wobble, Dr. Pierce was there wrapping his hands around her shoulders to make sure she didn't fall.
"Thank you, Doctor, but I can't have you walking behind me forever."
"Oh, it's no problem. I don't have any other pressing engagements," Hawkeye replied.
"I'm starting to think you may be hitting on me," Beck said trying to hide the laugh in her voice.
"Me? Never. You're not my type at all. I can't stand gorgeous red heads."
"Be good, Doctor."
"I am good. Some have gone so far as to say great."
"Ah, so I see I'm not the first to get your personal touch."
"You're the first red headed commander of an out of the way space station."
"I'm so honored," Beck quipped. She took a few more far more steady steps forward away from Hawkeye. "Well, Doctor, am I fit for duty?"
"Everything seems to be moving the way it's supposed to, but you don't need to go rushing off into battle just yet. I'd like to keep you under observation for a couple more hours at least...just to be safe."
"What about Lieutenant Porter?"
"I'm sure B.J. is observing him as we speak."
"Right. Okay then, Doctor..."
"Hawkeye. Please. This formality is killing my mood."
"Fine. Hawkeye, just what is there to do while I'm under observation?" Beck asked.
"I thought we'd go grab a bite to eat in the mess hall. You either forcefully ejected or we removed all the food in your stomach; you must be starving."
Beck's tired and abused stomach perked up at the idea of food... non-life-threatening food, and growled loudly.
"I'd say we have at least one yes vote," Hawkeye said.
"Who am I to argue with my insides?" Beck said. "Lead the way."