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It's the Great Space Pumpkin, Vesta Crew!

Posted on Tue Oct 31st, 2017 @ 7:14pm by Captain Ewan Darrow & Markus Darrow & Commander Jonathan Mantell & Commander Martin Sorenson & Lieutenant JG Tyr tr'Saren & Isabella Cerin & Ensign Rufus Marocain & Aaron Corrino & Rashane ch'Thaia & Gwen Frye & Jonathan Frye
Edited on on Tue Oct 31st, 2017 @ 7:15pm

Mission: Back Post
Location: Various
Timeline: Halloween 2392

A superhero, a Romulan, and a lion all walk into sickbay.

That wasn't a joke, the trio of costumed kids proudly assembled in the ship's medical facilities and looked around. Doc Sorenson had promised a themed party for the ship's children on the day, but sickbay looked the same as ever. One boy shuffled his feet, another yawned as they waited for something to happen or someone to appear. If this was going to be a bust, it was back to normal trick or treating, something the ship's inhabitants probably wanted to avoid after last year's debacle. It had taken a maintenance crew a few weeks to clean up the dog poop from the few cabins who had called the bluff, and one of them still smelled a bit rancid despite scanners showing no trace of decaying material.

"Man, this sucks," the voice of Jack came from the goggled superhero, decked out as Captain Proton this year. "Where's the party?"

"Yeah, I didn't get all dressed up for nothing. These ears itch," Aaron the Romulan whined.

"Maybe we should go haunt the halls like last year?" the lion, formerly known as Rashane, suggested.

The doors opened and a few other kids processed in, and soon the complaints swelled to a noisy din as the chatter increased. A few left to find other means of procuring candy that day, but most stayed to wait for the promised party. After what seemed like forever, but was probably only five minutes, the doors to the medical lab opened. A swell of music filtered out, and beyond the doors only darkness with a few flickering neon lights could be seen. But what ushered forth from the doorway was a creature beyond the terrible reach of horror that could have ever been formed.

"Hi, guys," the Were-man said, smiling to display prosthetic flat human teeth. Rufus had gone all out for the occasion - shaved his face and pulled his ears back to simulate a look of slicked back human hair. He even had on fake hands gloves, complete with dull human nails. And to add the to kids' horror, he was dressed like ...a teacher!

The terror before them could have only produced one reaction. The kids screamed, together, in unison. It was almost choir-like, if they hadn't been yelling at the top of their voices. Yet the fearful reaction didn't cause them to move, for some reason their legs were mostly rooted to the ground, minus a step or two back in recoil. Eventually, they realized who was standing before them, the once-furred canine pilot named Rufus, and a few bashful chuckles rounded the group in earnest.

Martin stepped around Rufus to greet the party goers. Containing Jack and his band had seemed like a good idea after last year, but he had to admit to a certain childish delight in an excuse to dress up for the holiday. But since he was in medbay he'd kept it subtle: surgical scrubs and lab coat, plus hair spiked a bit for a mad scientist look. Just for good measure, he'd grown a goatee to add an evil mirrorverse vibe. "Welcome to my laboratory... I mean to the party..." He flashed a manic smile. "Won't you come in?"

After a few looks to each other to ensure it was mutually safe, the kids did just that.

Before them lay a classic Halloween party. The medical lab had been redecorated to mad scientist's lair, complete with bubbling test tubes (of variously colored sodas) and holographic sparking coils and dissected specimens in jars. There were some games, both holovid type and classic apple-bobbing. A table was set with candy in the theme, like gummy worms and brains, and a punch bowl was filled red juice and chilled with eyeball ice cubes. There were also some healthy snacks - including one Rufus considered part of the horror aspect: raw broccoli.

Martin watched the kids stream in with a smile on his face. He'd never had children, but he'd dealt with a fair number of young patients. And Allison Darrow had been willing to offer advice, so he felt pretty good about the party. Besides, Ensign Marocain was the official chaperone, since Martin had to be on call.

He looked at the big Kainan. "They're all yours. Enjoy"

"Okay, Doc." Rufus turned and let out a howl. "OOwooo! Let's get this party started."

----

tr’Saren wasn’t sure why he’d turned up to the adolescent gathering being hosted in the medical facilities. Some sort of curiosity, perhaps? There had been a similar events held back at the Academy but the Romulan had decided to venture only to the compulsory social engagements. He understood the theme was supposed to orient around death... but a warped, deeply inaccurate representation, intertwined in ancient Federation myths. It was confused. Some aspects were supposed to be scary (none of it was), there was an element of begging and threatening and other aspects simply appeared to be hero worship or... and this mostly applied to the adults celebrating ...an excuse to dress up provocatively. Sincerely, from an outsider, it was baffling.

Tyr didn’t wear a costume, what indeed would he wear? The fears he held were too abstract and personal to be manifest in attire. There were some legitimately lethal avian-like creatures that hailed from ch’Rihan, but given that they now existed only in a few zoos and scattered private collections it seemed trite to attempt to dress up as such a thing. Instead the bulky Romulan just wore simple civvies. He surveyed the scene, the decorations and attendees both, with the critical eye of an investigator.

Much like Martin's costume, Izzy's costume, to the naked eye, didn't on first glance seem that different from her usual attire. Expect for the details: Gone was the agency lapel pin; added was a press access badge from the Federation News Network and a clip-on microphone/recorder. Several children nearby gave her a quizzical glance as if attempting to discern her costume, or perhaps, those that did so, what exactly was so frightening about a reporter. She looked around the room as the door closed behind her, first spotting Rufus and only partially succeeding in stifling a peel of laughter.

"Turnabout should be fair play indeed..." said Izzy to Rufus with a grin.

"Turnabout?" Rufus replied deadpan. "What could be more frightening than turning into a hairless ape?"

"This." said Izzy, offering Rufus a better view of her outfit, then turning to show Martin as well.

"Ahh!" Martin raised hands to cover his eyes in mock horror. "Reporter..."

Rufus blew out a soft breath with just a touch of growl, the Kainan equivalent of a low whistle. "Yep. You win."

"Can I quote you on the record on that?" said Izzy with a grin.

Meanwhile, Captain "Jack" Proton was serving up test tube sodas to himself and his friends, which they filled, sometimes haphazardly, with the red punch from the bowl. He, himself, dived into the chocolates on the table of desserts, and happily strutted around with a brown ring around his mouth.

"What's that?" their blue-skinned Andorian lion asked, pointing at the green shoots of broccoli. So they told him. To their shock, he picked one up and crunched down, then uttered, "Mmm, it's sweet!"

Aaron walked away in horror. Jack shook his head at Rashane, giggled for a second, and then told him, "You're weird."

Aaron found himself behind a tall figure with similar ears, whose head was covered in tattoos. Turning around the man to stand in his view, the boy marveled at the makeup and prosthetics adorning his face. "Whoa, your costume looks so cool! My dad couldn't do all the makeup and stuff, he's no good at it. So I just look like a pink Vulcan in Romulan getup. But you look like the real thing!" After a moment, Aaron cocked his head, half raising an arm to it, "Do your ears itch, too? I think my dad put them on wrong or used too much stuff on them."

Tyr turned to the adolescent voice. Involuntarily one eyebrow piqued in surprise at seeing the Kid's costume. Without so much as a smile (albeit some internal amusement), the security officer scratched one of his ears and shrugged. "My ears don't itch. Yours look the part though." tr'Saren lifted his chin and critically examined the boys attempt at 'Romulan'.

"So are you going for admiration..." He pointed at the other kid dressed as a super hero, "...or scary?" Again Tyr pointed to what looked to be reanimated, bandaged corpse. That was supposed to be scary, right?

Aaron shrugged, "I just wanted to be a Romulan," the boy explained. "The computer had a few costumes, and I picked this one. Next time I do one like this, I'm going to book some holodeck time so I can get the makeup right, call up one of the salon programs or something."

"Why aren't you in uniform, or something?" Aaron the Romulan asked curiously. "Are you supposed to be a Romulan diplomat? Or a Senator?"

"Hnffh!" tr'Saren grunted involuntarily. It was a harsh, almost disdainful noise, the notion of him being even remotely like a Senator crumbling is usually nonchalant resolve. "No..." He recovered, rather more stoically, "The Senate tend to wear long ancient styled robes..." How long should he toy with this kid? "No, I was going for 'off duty security officer'." Tyr folded his arms and eyed the boy, watching to see if any cogs were turning in there or if he'd already succumbed to some sort derangement due to an overdose of sucrose.

The boy grew wide-eyed in realization, and his cheeks flushed red, making him a much pinker Romulan than he had been before. "Oh, you mean, you're...really a...omigosh!" Aaron's excitement was hard to miss now, and though it could be mistaken for a sugar high, it was definitely his own natural exuberance at the encounter. "Wait, are you a spy?!"

"Aaron!" Jack called from across the room, making his way across to the pair. "There you are. Come on, you're missing the good stuff." Handing his friend a fizzy drink in a test tube, he pulled on the young boy's arm with his now-free hand and the two of them disappeared back into the crowd.

----

"Oh, come on!" Captain Proton, aka Jack, cried. He took another sip of punch, trying hard to keep it from snorting through his nose at the next line he heard.

"No, really. The Great Space Pumpkin is real!" The gaggle of kids stared at the expert among them. Some rolled their eyes. Some stood wide-eyed. One or two nodded their heads knowingly. The dark-haired boy, dressed as a Rigelian Scarecrow, continued, "It's said he warps from planet to planet, ship to ship, all in one night."

"That's impossible." "No, it's not, not at Warp 10." "So he's Q? Riiight."

Izzy, as the fringes of this conversation drifted over to her ears, couldn't help but think that that last piece did, in fact, sound rather horrifying: Any report or news story she had ever read or heard pertaining to Q left her reasonably certain they were best unencountered, generally.

The Scarecrow continued, nodding. "He may have been one of the Q, once. Now he's the Great Space Pumpkin, and he judges young boys and girls on Halloween. Good ones get double candy. Bad ones...get vegetables!"

"EWWWWWW!" "Gross!" "Yuck!" "Do they include broccoli?"

"That's awful." Rufus shuddered in horror at the idea of treats turning to broccoli.

"Broccoli and carrots, peas and corn, beets and lima beans," the scarecrow went on, "All the foods bad kids wouldn't eat the whole year when they stuffed their face with candy instead." By now he had several of them believing, and a few still around to see what would happen next. "It's said the Great Space Pumpkin arrives at a ship's arboretum to any waiting children."

"But how does he get there?" "He beams in or something." "Through the shields?" "Well, he can travel at Warp 10, and he might be a Q, yes, through the shields."

The small group of kids began moving off, heading towards the door to Sickbay.

Seeing a knot of kids heading out, Martin hurried over to see why. The whole point of this after all was to contain the sort of trick-or-treat antics that had happened last time. "Hey, where are you heading? The party just started."

The doors to the corridor stood closed as Markus Darrow shrugged, "Seems a little more focused towards the little kids there doc." The senior of the Darrow children said as he looked towards the Chief Medical officer, he nor his friends had noticed that the doors had failed to open at their approach despite being well within the distance that would have triggered it.

"They want to go to the arboretum to see the Great Pumpkin," Rufus whispered. He glanced at the kids near the door, and looked at Jack in particular, before tipping an eyebrow at the doctor. "They seem pretty intrigued by the idea."

Martin quickly picked up on the Ensign's thought that keeping the pint-sized CEO in with a simple door was not a winning strategy. "Right." He stepped back out of earshot of the kids and tapped his comm. "Sorenson to Darrow. I need a slight modification to tonight's plans. Can we set up a holographic Halloween theme from here to arboretum?"

There was a pause for a moment before the ships Executive Officer replied, "I think I have just the thing." The line went silent for a moment apart from the sound of a light tapping sound and the computers confirmation. "Alright Doctor I think that should do it." With that the comm cut off and the doors swished open revealing something that was very much not the corridor of the Vesta. In fact in its place was something dark, something almost sinister. For the human children it was easily recognizable, for those not a bit confusing but for all it was scary. For the Vesta was no longer a ship, but it was now a haunted house.

"Wow. Thank you, Commander," Martin said and tapped his comm off. "Okay, anyone who wants to venture to the haunted pumpkin patch, go right ahead."

With permission given, or at least the obstruction removed, the kids activated the door to exit sickbay. Moving mostly as a group, they headed towards the turbolift, chittering about a Great Space Pumpkin and other Halloween subjects. Jack, Aaron and Rashane went with them. Aaron was suckered into the idea, hoping he'd get double candy. Jack wasn't really buying it, but he wanted to see what would happen. Rashane secretly hoped he'd been an awful child that year, the memory of broccoli still on his tongue.

"I'll go along and make sure they get there okay," Rufus told the doctor, following them out. "Besides, I want to see if this Pumpkin being shows..."

The haunted halls were just spooky enough for the gaggle of pre-teen and adolescent kids. The older ones rolled their eyes a bit, and the younger stepped quickly as to not get left behind. Sinister laughter came from down the hall, a shadowy shape vanished around the corner to disappear when the corridor came in view, and a few doors were stuck opening and closing with no one around. The real scare came when the group rounded the bend and came face to face with a group of off-duty officers. Uncostumed and not holographic, the amount of eerie setup had built up enough tension for the encounter to be truly scary.

They ran as quickly as short legs could carry, and soon the mob of children were piling into the turbolift, safe and secure. Ordering the lift up, it was all some could do to breath a sigh of relief, and others trying to quickly wipe eyes dry before anyone noticed. All at once, the turbolift lurched, coming to a stop, illiciting a collective groan from the group. Then it began to move down, picking up speed, and turning into a free-fall, the lift plummeting to the unending depths of the ship to their certain demise.

And then it was over, the lift stopped and the doors opened on deck 6, the arboretum deck.

There wasn't a size 8 sneaker left in the lift within three seconds flat.

Thoroughly chilled and terrified, some of the kids broke off, meandering back to the party in Sickbay or back home to their quarters. Jack and his friends stayed put, accompanied by the Darrow kid and a few other brave child souls, with Rufus still trailing behind. The Great Space Pumpkin awaited them in the arboretum, perhaps.

"You guys sure about this?" Aaron asked at last, his voice hushed but his tone serious.

"Why not?" Jack replied, shrugging his leather-clad shoulders.

"Hey, if they have broccoli, I'm in," the maned Rashane noted, giving Aaron a shove from behind to keep him walking.

"Fine, but if I have nightmares, it's both of your faults," the dour-faced Romulan retorted.

Jack and Rashane shared a look before they all went into the arboretum.

As they entered the arboretum it was quiet, and as they progressed through the foliage, almost peaceful. Eerily so. Rufus followed along, staying close in case anyone the younger kids still with the group got spooked.

Suddenly there was a orange flash. Rufus' head snapped around, his keen eyes, more tuned to motion than most humanoids instantly oriented on the flicker, which just as quickly disappeared. "Over there - did you see that?"

Somewhere behind the group of brightly-hued children was a fairy and a goat. Or a zombie masquerading as a goat... a goat masquerading as a zombie? Gwen walked along slowly, using her wand to brush anything that may actually touch her out of reach. Her brother followed along, his eyes wide behind the mask, his hooves clunking to the deck as he took in the remnant haunted hallway as they moved into the arboretum. "Y'know, you're going to have to open your eyes sooner or later."

"No, I really don't." Gwen shifted her hand in the opposite direction. At the mention of seeing anything, she let out a startled gasp, jumped backwards and nearly took Jon out for what seemed like the twentieth time.

"Dad said this was mom's favorite holiday. How come you came if you're so scared?" There were kids a lot younger than they were in front of them and they were looking in the direction that Rufus had turned his head to.

"Because someone weird equates 'fun' with 'scaring the living daylights and... what did I just touch?" Gwen was close to opening her eyes now and was blindly in the dim lights. "What did I just touch?"

"A vine," Jon replied, rolling his eyes. "The better to scare you with." He crept up behind her, poked her in the sides and listened to her shriek. "Don't worry about her," Jon said to the eyeballs that turned in their general direction. "She's just a big 'fraidy cat."

Jack looked, but he didn't see anything. Aaron could have sworn he saw a bright green leaf attached to...something. Rashane had the lasting impression of a mischievous grin in his mind, but nothing else. Other kids looked in the direction Rufus pointed but failed to catch anything more, and some shook their heads with disappointment.

Though the arboretum was still themed for the night with the rest of the ship, there wasn't much to see there after a while. "Let's go back to the party," Jack suggested at last to his friends. They seemed to nod in agreement, but before they could mosey their way back, something else flashed in the distance.

"I saw it that time!" Aaron shouted, drawing the attention of other kids. Jack shrugged and turned to follow his friend, Rashane and others in tow. A few more times this happened, changing direction and placement for each.

Finally, before them stood a gigantic Jack'O'Lantern, a large evil grin carved into its side, a huge leaf and vine sprouting from its head, vines for its legs and arms, which grasped a large pitchfork held to one side. The lighting flickered and noise thundered at its appearance, leaving the kids bewildered for a moment.

Then they turned to run. Jack muttered under his breath, unbelieving what he was seeing was real. Aaron led the pack, despite his earlier leadership, the gigantic pumpkin appearing before them was just too much. It was only later that Jack and Aaron realized they had left Rashane back in the arboretum with the giant pumpkin.

The Andorian-turned-lion for the night looked up at the Giant Space Pumpkin before him, and without a quiver in his voice or shake in his legs, asked, "So, do I get any broccoli?"

Martin, concealed inside the giant pumpkin hologram, contained a laugh. "All the broccoli you want!" he announced in his deepest voice and threw a double handful to the veggie-loving lion.

"Huh..." Was all Markus managed as he watched the Giant Pumpkin throw handfuls of broccoli to the little kid. "Well that's something you don't see every day." He said aloud.

It was something that could only be seen on Halloween night, aboard the USS Vesta. Happy Halloween!

 

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