Lower Decks: Tales From The Creche

by: username | Story In Progress | Last updated Nov 12, 2022

Chapter 2
A fine day for rabbit holes!

Chapter Description: Boimler trips, but in a good way.

I can’t help but feel that we're either in danger or that it doesn’t matter,” said Boimler.

What do you mean?” asked Mariner.

Simply that the investigation didn’t reveal DNA evidence and we’ve found something that could infect us.”

Tende waded in with her tricorder. After a few quick scans of the members present, she announced, “If we’re infected, it hasn’t manifested. I see nothing in my scans to show it. Shall we call the Cerritos and start quarantine protocol?”

I think the wise choice would be for them to have our quarantine on the De Leon. There’s zero risk of infection for them if they do so,” suggested Rutherford.

Guys, let’s search this room from top to bottom and look for any hidey holes that a tricorder would miss. Then we’ll scan ourselves again before reporting our findings to the Cerritos,” suggested Mariner.

After several searches of the room, which felt larger and larger to Mariner with each passing moment, Boimler tripped over a tiny indent in a corner covered by the lush Starfleet-issued rug. After peeling it back, a small switch with a thumbprint reader and eye scanner presented itself.

Retina and thumbprint? Puh-leez!” snorted Rutherford as the security became bypassed without so much as a second thought.

Tende scanned the area where they found the switch.

There’s no sign of it being present! That’s a neat trick considering all the quantum trickery involved, but why use archaic and outdated tech to guard what’s behind the switch?”

Mariner pressed the switch. “No idea, but we’re running out of time. We’re overdue for our report and we don’t know what’s- AH!” The switch opened a small sliding door next to it. Inside, there was a small, black flat object. Before she could pick it up, Tende scanned the hatch and declared it safe.

You can’t be too sure,” she said.

Mariner pulled out the object and waited for Tende to tell her what the object her tricorder told her it was.

It’s a holographic projector of some sort.” She handed the tricorder to Rutherford for confirmation. He agreed and added nothing else to its description.

Mariner knew what the protocol was for finding such an object. She’d had it drilled into her head repeatedly with simulators and instructors. There were even Kobayashi Maru scenarios with buttons you’re not supposed to press!

But, still…

She pressed the button, which made a small but satisfying clicking noise as its contacts closed.

A solid holographic image of an ancient personal computer appeared in front of her, complete with a particle board desk and leather upholstered chair. An ancient CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) sat on a painted steel chassis accompanied by an equally ancient keyboard and mouse.

The front of the PC had a label on it that announced it had a “Pentagram” CPU inside. The team stared at the ancient setup for a few scant seconds before Rutherford, always fascinated by any sort of technology, especially with the ancient PC in front of him, examined the box, and its protruding wires to find a big red flip switch on its side.

This is a holographic technology that shouldn’t exist yet!” he stated. “Hard light holographs are still very expensive in human hours to create, and it’s not very easy to do! I know because I’ve tried it!”

Just then, Boimler’s comm badge went off. He raised his hand for silence and answered it, “Ensign Boimler here!”

Ah, Mr. Boimler!” came the clear, sardonic voice of Captain Freeman from the badge. “You’re late with your report! But I’ll overlook it, as you’ve some good news concerning the cleaning, yes?”

The cleaning is progressing nicely, Captain! We’d like to stay the night and finish it up. Would that be okay with you?”

Boimler nearly fainted from all the lies that were flowing freely from his tongue. He performed breathing exercises to get his heart rate down and calm his fraying nerves.

And the rest of your crew is happy to do this as well, Mr. Boimler?”

Tende went to assure the captain, “Why-”. Before Tende could get another word out, Mariner covered her mouth.

Boimler replied, “Yes ma’am! Even Ensign Mariner likes the idea!” He smiled at Mariner, stopping short of sticking his tongue out. He didn’t want the doc to reattach it a second time after the last incident.

She lightly waved her fist in mock outrage at him.

Very well! Don’t stay up too late over there, Mr. Boimler! I expect your crew to be finished and packed up by 1600 hours tomorrow afternoon!”

Yes, ma’am! Will do! Boimler out!”

He turned to Mariner and said, “You owe me for this! Let’s hope we’re not making a serious mistake!”

No problem! Any luck getting that thing to work, Rutherford?”

Yes, and if it works, we’re in for a treat!” he said as he flicked the big red switch on the PC.

A tinny chime sounded from the PC as the sound of a brushless motor spun up with a loud whirring sound. The screen lit up as another chime sounded from the PC. The screen proclaimed, “Welcome to a new generation of information!”

The PC booted straight into a graphical interface with the whirring disk drive making clicking noises as it loaded data on the CPU’s system bus. Several icons appeared on the screen as the mouse cursor faded from a pointer to a couple of “Z” symbols as more of the operating system loaded.

So, this is what they did in the twenty-first century? How did they ever get anything done?” asked Mariner as she realized that the combined noise from the fans and disk drives wouldn’t get any quieter as it “warmed up”.

She remembered how the room had felt so enormous when she’d walked in. With the hatch to the hidden floor safe exposed, she didn’t feel it now. She shrugged her shoulders and watched as Rutherford attempted to use the mouse.

If he pushed it up, the cursor went down; he moved it left; the cursor went right. After a few attempts at moving the mouse around the screen, he turned it around. “It’s upside-down!” he proclaimed.

With more experimentation, the team discovered “double-clicking”. After playing a solitaire program that Rutherford claimed to help him master the mouse, they looked for other programs to open.

What’s that one, labeled ‘Internet’?” asked Tende. Rutherford double-clicked it and a window opened up with a home page that proclaimed itself to be a “Chrono browser”.

Mariner had an inkling of thought as she looked at the primary-colored page. “Hit the tab labeled ‘History’ and see what you get.”

A long list of places that they could go to by clicking on them appeared. Rutherford waited on Mariner before proceeding. She’d gotten them this far, after all.

Hmm. There’s an entry on the list called ‘ARArchive’. I don’t know why, but I think we should try it.” She said as the vertigo-like feeling hit her again. She knew that nothing in the room was growing, but it just felt like it to her.

A white background page with a blue header presented itself:

Welcome to the AR Story Archive

Stories and images of age transformation, age regression, age progression, mental regression, and progression.

Oh! This must be one of those old-time fetish sites!” said Tende, “What do you suppose was so important about it that the captain had to hide it?”

Aha! If the crew took turns on this box and it embarrassed them to talk about it, they'd probably wipe all records of its existence out to hide it!”

Boimler, who had been watching the team as they explored and played with the box, gave up another reason.

I used to go to Holo-Fetish sites as a teen. When I finished, I’d wipe the evidence clean and swear I’d never do it ever again until the next time rolled around.”

Tende looked at him with concern in her eyes, “That’s awful! When were you able to get out of that loop of negativity?”

When my parents sat me down and explained that they knew everything I did on the Holo-Pad and that the only reason they were intervening was because of my unhealthy behavior of late.”

Boimler sighed, “I got help from a Holo-Psychologist, accepted things about myself that I didn’t have to tell others and feel guilty about, then moved on. Anyway, it looks like the entire crew of the De Leon got hooked on this ancient PC as an unhealthy hobby.”

Rutherford had perused the site and several others like it. As he experimented with the Holo-Classical PC, he discovered a “hidden” directory with an icon the same color as the home screen’s background. After double-clicking it, a video player came up and offered a list of videos to play.

Check this out! I think it might be a clue!” he said, clicking on the first entry.

End chapter two.



End Chapter 2

Lower Decks: Tales From The Creche

by: username | Story In Progress | Last updated Nov 12, 2022


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