by Dave Rogers
After a tiring day, Tom and Harry were relaxing in Sandrines over a few synthales. The bar was busy but not overcrowded, and they sat at a table gently winding down together.
"Back in a minute, Tom," said Harry, standing up. "Nature calls." And he walked over to the swing door with a small male stick figure on it.
Returning after a couple of minutes, he had a puzzled frown on his face.
"Tom, you programmed this place. How exactly," he paused, wondering how best to frame the question in public, "did you implement the rest room facilities?"
Tom shrugged. "Like everything else, based on the original. Nothing special about them, except they're a bit cleaner."
"Yeah, that always seems a bit wrong. Still, that's B'Elanna for you." The Chief Engineer had accidentally stumbled through the wrong door over a year ago, and insisted on making one or two changes to the program. "But what I meant was, well, what about the waste disposal arrangements?"
"Standard practice, Harry. The holomatrix separates out any, shall we say, extraneous matter, and diverts it to a recycler. It can cope with limited volumes. I thought about installing a backup system for heavy usage, but it's never come to that." He frowned for a moment. "Come to think of it, the system seems to cope with at least double my original design estimates. Of course, that's based on some assumptions it would have been a bit difficult to test."
Looking round, Harry saw that the bar was clearing. "Hey, we'd better turn in, it's nearly 2300. Don't want to be late on shift tomorrow."
"I guess not. Goodnight, Sandrine," he called.
"Bon nuit, mon cheri," replied the hologram, blowing him a kiss flamboyantly.
"Computer, end program," finished Paris, and the bar dissolved into the stark simplicity of a hologrid as he and Harry left.
Down in engineering, a light flashed on Ensign Vorik's panel, and he steeled himself for the usual unpleasant sequel. Donning thick gloves, he walked to Holodeck Two, entered, and crossed over to a small access panel in the bottom of the far wall. Holding his breath, he lifted out a large metal container, covered it to reduce the stench, and dragged it into the middle of the holodeck. From there, the Chief Engineer had assured him, it was safe to beam out the contents without destabilising the holomatrix. Finally, he replaced the container, catching another whiff of the revolting odour as he flipped back the lid.
He understood that the job had to be done; his Chief Engineer had explained it to him when she made the modifications to the program, a few days after his regrettable, and still to him embarrassing, attempt to bond with her in Pon Farr. He understood, too, that his strength and emotional control made him, as she had explained, far better able to perform this duty than any other member of the engineering staff. But she had sworn it was only temporary; he hoped most earnestly that she would come up with a permanent solution soon.
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