Boredom Bingo part two
by Jinny & Bodie
Disclaimer: see part one.
At the end of the shift, Tom stepped into the turbo lift with Jenkins.
"Sorry I haven't caught up with you lately ensign. Tuvok's been watching me like a hawk on the bridge. Am I just in time to collect my winnings?"
She resisted the urge to glare at him. "What winnings?"
"For the bingo games for the last few days."
"There haven't been any," Jenkins said shortly.
"But I've been organising the things on your bingo card haven't I?" Tom asked, somewhat confused.
"Yes, but it's all been happening too late in the shift. Apparently Lieutenant Torres has been going off her rocker in engineering. Yosa has won just about every game. Is everything alright with Lieutenant Torres sir?"
"Yes," replied Tom. "This is the first I've heard of this. I'm about to have dinner with her in her quarters, so I'll check it out. Even though, without any winnings, I'm not sure I'll be able to replicate the dinner I promised her tonight."
The turbo lift doors opened at deck nine and Tom stepped out rather apprehensively. Almost as if B'Elanna could sense he had no replicator rations left and was going to smite him the moment he set a foot in the corridor. As he wandered along, he tried to think of a simple excuse that she would believe. He'd been spending too much time in sickbay and less on bridge shifts? No, she'd never believe that one. The doctor was always complaining about him shirking his medical duties. As the doors to B'Elanna's quarters opened, Tom could see that she was already sitting at a set table awaiting his arrival.
"Hi Tom," she said. "I was looking forward so much to the little feast you promised me tonight that I left engineering a little early to get prepared. My mouth has been watering all day at the thought of a nice big five course meal washed down with a few good bottles of wine."
"That's great," Tom replied, baring his teeth in what B'Elanna assumed was an attempted smile. "There's just one problem however."
"Yes?" B'Elanna raised her voice slightly with one eyebrow raised, looking for all the world like a cat preparing to pounce.
"Well you see, honey, I don't actually have enough replicator rations. Things haven't been going so well in the bingo." Tom braced himself for impact.
"Oh, that's a shame," B'Elanna responded calmly. She got up from her chair and strolled past Tom towards the replicator. "I suppose I'll just have to pay for it myself," she said with a whimsical smile.
Tom watched her carry the first course and a bottle of wine to the table. "But how can you afford-". He broke off, recalling what Jenkins had said about Torres' recent behaviour.
"You ... you deceitful floozey. You've been rigging the bingo game down in engineering."
B'Elanna laughed. "Why not? If it's good enough for you... what's the matter? Can't handle me being the bread winner?"
"I don't know," said Tom. "I kind of like the idea of being a kept man."
"Yeah? Well get used to it. My guys are going to kick your guys' butts".
He felt a huge grin working its way across his face. "That sounds like a challenge to me."
Chakotay smiled at the contented look on Kathryn's face.
"You look like the cat that got the cream", he observed, sliding into the chair opposite her.
"Do I?" she smiled.
"Are you going to spill?"
"Spill what? The cream?"
"Oh come on Kathryn", he said. "I know you've been up to something. Some scheme to do with the crew's bingo game. Don't you want to let me in on it so I can admire your cunning?"
Kathryn chuckled. "Okay. But after I showed you the bingo card the other day, a few things changed."
"On the cards?"
"No, in the game itself. The cards do change everyday though. They made up a set of them at the start, then they programmed them to rotate." She took a swig of her coffee. "What I meant was that it seems both Tom and B'Elanna have been trying to rig the game, and are getting a cut of the profits from whoever they're helping."
Chakotay nodded. "That would explain a few things about Tom's behaviour recently. So, what's the plan? Are we going to start playing up too?"
Kathryn shook her head. "No, that wouldn't work. Tom's either helping Jenkins or Murphy, or both, to get ahead. They don't need our assistance. As much fun as it would be to help them fill those flirting boxes which seem to appear on every bridge card," she added.
"Then who does need our help?" Chakotay asked, ignoring that last comment.
Kathryn leaned closer to him. "Do you remember when I went on that mission to save some of Voyager's lost sheep?" At his nod she continued. "Well, one of the women who needed my help then needs it now."
"Celes", he said.
"The one and only." She sighed. "Can you imagine her getting Seven to help her out in the bingo?"
He laughed shortly. "No. She'd probably ask though. She's plucky enough. But I imagine Seven would find the whole thing irrelevant. That, or a distraction from the crew's efficiency", he added.
"Both I think", Kathryn replied. "So I thought we could give the bingo team down in Astrometrics a hand."
"Sure, I'll be in it", Chakotay said. "But how?"
Kathryn grinned and passed him a padd.
"We'll start with this".
Celes and Jurot huddled together over a console, obviously having a conversation that they did not want anyone to hear. This was somewhat of a pointless exercise, as aside from them, only Seven of Nine was in astrometrics. Had she chosen, using her Borg enhanced hearing, Seven could easily have heard their conversation. It was just as well for them that she couldn't have cared less.
"But Jurot, neither of us have won a game for days now. Either engineering or the bridge have won the game before I've even got a couple of boxes checked off. Instead of lasting most of the day, most games are ending before lunch break. I tell you, something fishy is going on."
"Oh, another conspiracy theory is it Tal?" Jurot replied sceptically.
Celes shook her head. "No! Well yes, it is I suppose. But this time I have evidence. Haven't you noticed that Paris and Torres have been spending replicator rations like they're going out of fashion?"
"So what if they have?"
"And at the same time Jenkins and Yosa have been winning most of the games," she prompted.
"So I think that Paris and Torres are rigging the game and are receiving some of the winnings as a pay off."
Jurot nodded thoughtfully. "Well if this is true, I say we pull out of the game. Let them take someone else's rations."
"I've got a better idea," Celes said. "Why don't we get Seven to help us win a few games?"
"Because she'd never agree to help us."
"She might if we gave her a big enough cut of the rations."
Jurot looked skeptical. "I don't know. But if you want to ask her, go right ahead. Just remember that she might report you to the captain. You know," he added, "she has a thing about the crew not performing efficiently enough."
"That's a risk I'm just going to have to take," replied Celes, attempting to draw bravery from her own words. With that she turned around and walked over to the main console where Seven was working.
"Can I help you ensign?" Seven asked before Celes even got to within a couple of steps of her.
"I hope so, Seven. I have a proposal for you."
"As long as it is not one of marriage, ensign."
At the doctor's urging Seven had been working on her sense of humour for the last few months now. The only form that she had slightly managed to get some grip on was sarcasm. Unfortunately, most of the time those she tried it on found it hard to differentiate these biting comments from her normal rude behaviour.
Celes blinked at her. "Err, no. It's much more profitable than marriage. I've been playing a game called 'bingo' with some of my crew mates in other parts of the ship. What we do is place things that happen often in our work areas in a grid of check boxes. When one of the things happens, we check it off on the grid. The first person to complete a line on the grid wins, you see."
Seven stared at her, her face expressionless. "That does not seem like an efficient use of your time. What is your proposal?"
"I haven't won a game for a long time, and I think that Lieutenants Paris and Torres are conspiring with the players in their areas to help them win. I was wondering if you could provide me with similar assistance."
Seven looked perplexed. "Why would I do that ensign? I would be encouraging you to neglect your duties."
"It would be good for crew morale in Astrometrics and I could also give you a share of my winnings".
"Crew morale is irrelevant ensign. I expect your best performance regardless of your state of mind. And I have no wish to share in the profits from gambling. Besides, I have no need for replicator rations."
Tal's face turned red. "I just thought I'd ask", she stammered.
Seven opened her mouth to respond but a voice from the doorway cut her off.
"On the contrary Seven, crew morale is far from irrelevant."
Seven raised her eyebrows. "Captain?"
Janeway grinned at them and stepped inside. "I hardly think it would be fair to let Torres and Paris continue to get away with this, while Celes and Jurot here have no help at all."
Celes looked from the Captain to Seven, then back at the Captain.
"What did you have in mind?" she said with a shy smile.
"How about a little revenge?" Janeway offered.
"Hey you", Yosa poked Jor in the shoulder with his finger.
"You're miles away. What are you thinking about?"
Jor smiled dreamily. "I was imagining what I'm going to order for dinner tonight. I saved up the last two lots of winnings, so tonight I can have something special."
Yosa grinned. "Sounds good. And speaking of which, what day of the game is it today?"
"Day twelve I think."
"Alright. Let's have a look what's on the cards for day twelve."
Both men pushed a few buttons on their respective padds to bring up the bingo card for the day.
"What's this!" Jor frowned. "I don't remember putting this on any of the cards. Are you sure we have the right day?"
Yosa shook his head. "That's what it says. Day twelve, engineering. We did do them all together and it was a little while ago. Maybe Celes or Murphy came up with these and we don't remember."
Jor chewed his lip. "Maybe", he said. "but we would have had to agree they were fair. Do you remember saying this was alright?"
He pointed to the first row, where it said:
TORRES TELLS CREWMEMBERS THEY CAN FINISH THEIR SHIFT EARLY.
Yosa shrugged. "No. It doesn't ever happen. Why would we have let that pass?"
"Or this one. And this one. And this one!" said Jor, pointing down the padd.
Both men looked at the entries in confusion.
TORRES OFFERS TO DEMAGNETIZE THE WARP CORE.
VORIK UNDERGOES PON FARR.
TORRES SWEARS IN KATARIAN INSTEAD OF KLINGON.
"Something funny is going on here", said Jor.
Yosa nodded. "But what are we going to do? Call the others and ask if they did something to our cards?"
Jor shook his head. "No. We can't do that. Let's just wait. We can ask them about it after the shift."
"So", said Tom, "the Bolian said to the Ferengi, 'Maybe you just need a bigger umbrella.'"
Harry groaned and slapped his palm against his forehead. "That's awful Tom."
Tom shrugged. "Each to his own."
He half turned in his seat towards Jenkins, who stood at one of the rear bridge consoles. She was intently scanning a padd. As Tom finished speaking, she looked up and met his eyes. She didn't look impressed. Tom frowned. Hadn't "Tom tells an awfully bad joke" been a standard entry on most of the cards so far?
Jenkins returned to studying her padd. This was extremely odd. She didn't remember writing any of these entries, or saying that they were okay either. Could one of the other teams have changed her bingo card without her knowing? She glanced over at Murphy, who looked similarly puzzled, then down at the padd again.
"Is something wrong ensign?" She jumped at the sound of Tuvok's voice next to her elbow.
"No sir, not at all", she said, and tried to unobtrusively put the padd behind her. Tuvok merely raised his eyebrow at her and held out his right hand for the padd. Jenkins swallowed and looked quickly at Murphy. What should she do? He shrugged, and pretended to be interested in his own console.
"Thankyou", said Tuvok placidly, as his hand closed around the evidence.
Oh no, thought Jenkins. Not Tuvok. Of all the people who could have found out what they were doing, why Tuvok? He was the only member of the bridge crew who had no sense of humour at all. This was a catastrophe!
At that moment, however, the Captain happened to turn around and witness the exchange. She glanced questioningly at the security chief.
"Tuvok?" she said innocently. "What do you have there?"
Oh gods! Jenkins felt a flush rising across her face. Tuvok was bad, but the Captain was worse. She had to do something. She looked helplessly over at Murphy, only to see that his face had also turned an interesting shade of red.
"It appears to be a list of possible actions by members of the bridge crew, Captain," Tuvok reported. "The layout would suggest some sort of game card."
"Really?" Kathryn said. "I wouldn't mind playing a game to keep my mind occupied at times like this. What does it say?"
Jenkins gritted her teeth and prepared for humiliation.
"It says", Tuvok began to recite, "Commander Chakotay tells Tuvok how much he dislikes him."
Chakotay looked around at that, but didn't say anything.
"Harry Kim receives a promotion", Tuvok went on. Over at Ops Harry grinned at that, then frowned when he realized that the others thought it was a joke.
"Tom Paris is quiet for an entire hour".
Tom spun around on his chair. "What!" He threw a questioning glance at Jenkins, who seemed rooted to the spot.
"The Captain does not touch Commander Chakotay at all during the shift. The Captain does not call the Commander to her ready room during the shift for no apparent reason." Tuvok's eyebrow remained raised although he recited the list in a placid tone. "The Commander does not remain in her ready room for a suspicious amount of time."
Jenkins tried not to meet anyone's eyes as Tuvok continued to read the entries. She especially didn't want to see the expression on Janeway's face right now. Each one seemed more embarrassing than the last. And none of them were probable events at all - in fact, some seemed direct reversals of entries they had used previously. Someone had definitely tampered with the card. Her mind raced as she stared down at her feet. Who would do this to her? Celes? Jurot? They hadn't been winning at all since she and Tom set up their scam. How had they accessed the computer though? They had set up their card system using a random encryption algorithm. Whoever did this had to break through it first. So that ruled out Celes, whose computer skills were less than exemplary.
"Finally", Tuvok said, "Mr Paris is sent to the brig."
When Tuvok finished reading there was silence on the bridge. Harry, Tom, Tuvok, Chakotay and Murphy were all looking at the Captain, waiting to see how she would respond. Jenkins stared intently at the patch of carpet in front of her feet.
"Well", Janeway said mildly, "It doesn't look like you're doing too well today, Ensign."
"No ma'am", she mumbled.
Kathryn fought to keep her mouth from smiling as she continued. "Maybe what you need is an inside operative on the bridge who could help you out."
At that Jenkins seemed to turn an ever darker shade of red. Tom wondered if he could possibly sneak off the bridge unnoticed. Kathryn watched Jenkins carefully as she spoke.
"Tuvok", she said, "kindly escort Mr. Paris to the brig."
"What!" Tom exclaimed again. "Captain," he protested, "what did I do?"
Janeway sat back in her seat and crossed her legs. "Do you really want me to answer that Tom?", she said.
Tom quickly scanned through possible responses to that question, then decided to merely shake his head instead.
"Oh, and Tuvok", Kathryn added as they stepped into the turbolift. "Have someone pick up Ms Torres as well. I want them both confined."
Jenkins looked up quickly at that. "She knows!" she hissed under her breath to Murphy.
Chakotay turned to her and flashed a dimpled smile. After all, he wasn't the one being taken to the brig or being denied a promotion. "Of course she knows. She's the Captain."
Kathryn leaned over towards her first officer so that their faces were centimeters apart.
"Bingo", she whispered.
That night in the mess hall, the gossip about the bingo game made its way around the tables.
"I heard", one crewman said enthusiastically, "that the Captain screamed at Tom Paris for five minutes before she had Tuvok drag him off to the brig."
One of his companions snorted. "She didn't scream", she said witheringly. "She threw the bingo padd at him, is all, then gave him one of those death glares she does."
A little further down the table another crewmember leaned forward. "So how does the bingo game work anyway?"
"Well," said the first crewman, "it all sounds pretty interesting. What we'd have to do is this..."
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