January 2nd, 2010
Title: The Menagerie
Rating: Teen audiences
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: This is a non-profit, non-commercial work of fiction using the names and likenesses of real individuals. This fictional story is not intended to imply that the events herein actually occurred, or that the attitudes or behaviors described are engaged in or condoned by the real persons whose names are used without permission.
Summary: The Build Team isn't really working on animatronic giant jackrabbits. Kari, Tory and Grant just want Adam to think they are.
Betaed by fred_mouse.
Written for Aisy, as part of Yuletide 2009
Grant was piecing together circuits, and Tory was driving the circular saw when the factory phone rang.
This meant that Kari had to answer it, even though she had welding gloves on and couldn't actually use her hands.
"What?" she said into the speaker phone, after whacking the phone buttons at random.
"How's the build going?" Jamie asked.
"Tory set fire to himself," Kari said. "Grant's things don't work, and my structural bits aren't structural. So, you know, same as usual."
"Good," Jamie said. "Keep—"
"Hi, Kari," Adam said, and the phone crackled as someone at the other end switched that phone over to speaker function as well. "What are you doing still working? Jamie told me you'd all gone home."
"We were going to," Kari said. "Then, ah, Grant's thing failed on the final testing, so we're staying back to get it working."
If Kari looked across the workshop, she was reasonably sure she'd see Grant and Tory miming 'getting Grant's thing working again,' which would render her useless for the rest of the conversation with their bosses, so she kept her eyes glued on the production calendar stuck to the wall beside the phone.
"What are you all working on?" Adam asked. "I've lost track. It's not that exploding meatball still?"
"They're building a giant jackrabbit," Jamie said, and Kari closed her eyes and leaned against the workbench.
Not a giant jackrabbit. Please, no.
"What?" Adam asked. "Which myth is that for?"
"Don't you remember?" Kari asked.
"For the one about the jackrabbit and the kangaroo," Jamie added.
Behind her, Grant said, "Nooooo," hopefully quietly enough not to be picked up by the mike on the phone.
"And I vetoed using a real kangaroo," Kari said. "Animal cruelty and all that."
"And of course, a giant jackrabbit would have to be a robot," Jamie added. "So they're building them, to race them."
Kari turned around, to share looks of horror with the others. Grant was smacking himself in the head repeatedly with a miniature torque wrench, and Tory was pushing a road safety cone down his jeans.
"Awesome," Adam said.
"Except we're having technical problems," Kari said.
"How bad?" Jamie asked.
Grant put down the torque wrench and waggled one hand, then held out four fingers. If it had been really bad, it would have been two fingers, with the back of his hand toward her, so Kari felt confident in saying, "Electronics will be done tonight. Structural work is…"
Tory tossed aside the safety cone and shrugged. No fingers from him, so no estimate, either good or bad.
"Structural work is uncertain. We'll keep going."
"Okay," Jamie said, and the phone went dead.
"Jackrabbits? Adam is going to want me to build jackrabbits for certain, once this is all over," Grant said, sinking into the chair beside his robotics construction bench.
"Unless we don't make the deadline, and we all get fired," Kari said, knowing she sounded far too cheerful at the prospect. "Then we won't have to build any more stupid personalized projects for anyone, ever again."
"Weld faster," Tory said. "I can't put the shell on, until you've made the frame."
"Caffeine?" Grant asked. "Is someone going to do a burger and soda run soon? I'm not working all night on just the contents of the M7 fridge."
The three of them paused, Grant holding a miniature soldering iron, Kari her welding mask, and Tory a hammer, and Grant said, "Soldering iron and welding mask beats hammer, so Tory has to go."
An hour later, Kari switched off her oxy gear and nodded with satisfaction. The frame for the chair was done. She'd made it strong enough to hold two people, after an unfortunate incident at the staff Christmas party the year before had proved that assuming chairs were for solo use was erroneous.
Tory swooped on the chair frame, pre-cut slabs of MDF in his hands, ready to assemble, muttering under his voice about deadlines. Kari pulled off her welding apron and hung it up, tiredness prickling at her skin.
"Ready with the electronics?" Tory called out, taking the drill out of his tool belt. "I'm minutes away from done here.
Grant slung an arm around Kari's shoulders, and she leaned against him tiredly.
"All good here," Grant said. "Just leave the top panels off the arms for me."
"You got the upholstery foam cut out?" Grant asked Kari.
Kari nodded. "And the fabric, ready for stapling. Then there's just the rest of the set."
"Tin foil and Christmas lights," Grant said, and he kissed the tip of her nose.
Kari smiled, and glanced at the clock. "It's not going to be worth going home."
"Done!" Tory said, stepping back from the chair. "Do your bit, Grant, and stop groping Kari."
Kari yawned as she took the soda that Tory handed her, and he put his arm where Grant's had been.
"He wasn't groping me. Or if he was, I was too tired to notice."
"He's not doing it right then," Tory said.
"I was being subtle," Grant mumbled barely intelliglibly, from where he was easing cabling into the arms of the chair.
Tory and Kari both laughed, and Grant turned to look at them, needle nose pliers in his mouth, looking offended.
"Smoooooth," Tory observed.
Grant took the pliers out of his mouth and said, "I'm always smooth," then went back to work.
Once Grant had put the flashing, whirring displays into the arms, and the panels were on, Kari set to stapling the upholstery foam and fabric on the chair. Grant and Tory only nearly hit her once, pulling the console mock-ups out of the storage bay.
It was fiddly work, getting the vinyl wrinkle-free. She tried not to listen to the guys stacking crates under the consoles and duct-taping monitors into place, in case they distracted her, but it wasn't easy.
"Are you sure those are sliders, not twirlers? The schematic doesn't show that."
"Hey, I found the sneakers I lost last year!"
"Kari, whatever you do, don't look!"—followed by the sound of bug spray.
"That's my groin, not a patch bay."
Kari looked around the chair back, and Tory and Grant waved at her, and Tory said, "Made you look!"
"I'm done," Kari said, standing up. "If Adam doesn't like his birthday party this year, then I vote we all hate him, and make him go out to dinner by himself next year."
Kari wandered across the workshop to look out the window across the car park. It was still dark outside, but she was far too tired to drive safely.
"Sleeping bags?" she called out.
"Definitely," Tory called back. "Break out the survival kits."
Grant said, "Don't move, you loser, or I will solder your shoelaces to the mains power outlet."
Kari pulled the foam mattress off the storage shelve, above their lockers, and tossed it on the floor of the staff room, into the space between the fridge and the table. Then she retrieved the sleeping bags from the end locker.
She brushed her teeth in the bathroom, and left her work boots outside the staff room door.
The lights in the workroom were shutting down, bank after bank, as Kari unzipped her sleeping bag and spread it out. Grant sat down next to her, smelling of mouthwash, and she handed him his sleeping bag.
"Tory's?" he asked, his voice low.
"I hid it, so we're safe."
Grant grinned at her and spread his sleeping bag out, then knelt up and switched off the staff room light.
The last light went out, and Tory crawled over both of them in the dark, then climbed in on the other side of Kari.
"Hey, this isn't my sleeping bag," Tory said. "Where's mine?"
"Don't know," Kari said. "Too tired. Be quiet."
Tory made huffing noises, then hugged her, curling up behind her, and Kari burrowed sideways into Grant, getting comfortable.
"Guys," she said sleepily.
Jamie led a protesting, bleating Adam into the M7 workshop, blindfold over his eyes.
"Ready?" Jamie asked Adam, and Adam nodded.
"Happy birthday!" the crew and teams called out, and Adam pulled the blindfold off Jamie's eyes.
Adam hung onto Jamie, grinning, and Jamie pushed him toward the Enterprise flight deck that filled the M7 workspace.
"Go on," Jamie said.
Grant hit the switch, and the consoles whirred and hummed, and the displays flickered, making Adam squeal like a teenage girl.
"It works! It all works!"
Adam sat in the Captain's Chair, and started pushing buttons on the arms, and Tory leaned in closer to Kari.
"Who gets to tell him the workshop doesn't fly?"
Kari blinked innocently. "It doesn't?"
Grant said, "Can anyone smell insulation burning? I can smell insulation burning."
Jamie looked across at them and gave them a hand signal, and Kari nodded. The pull rope was beside her, and she tugged on it, opening the net holding the little furry animatronic things that Grant had been building in secret for weeks, releasing the whole lot over Jamie and Adam.
She went outside to sit on the hood of her car, while Grant and Tory dealt with the burning wiring and everyone else handed around beers. The noise of the smoke alarms got right inside her head, most days.
The car settled under the combined weight of the three of them, when Tory and Grant sat on either side of her. Grant handed her a beer, and Tory passed her a slab of veggie pizza.
"He loves it," Grant said. "There was crying."
"And there's video evidence," Tory added.