Disclaimer: 'The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers' is copyrighted by Hearst Entertainment, Inc. This is a work of fanfiction and I make no profit of it.
* Egg drop contest: A contest where the participants let raw eggs drop from a certain height, using mechanical contraptions to protect the eggs and trying to get them as close as possible to a marked target point.
* Easter egg: in computer speech: a hidden, unexpected program feature that is usually difficult to discover
This is a slightly rewritten repost of an earlier story.
It is 6.30 am on the camping site of an unnamed and unimportant frontier planet. Niko's alarm clock rouses her from an uneasy sleep that has offered her little rest but plenty of inspiration for nightmares yet to come. Groaning, she drags herself from her covers and forces herself to leave her tent to brave the misty morning chill. With the wisdom of hindsight she berates herself for having offered to get up before anyone else and make breakfast. Finally her struggles to alight the camping cooker bear fruit and she starts to recite mantras for equanimity and calmness while waiting for the water to boil. Through the haze that surrounds her consciousness (or at least the part of it that is awake) she notices that the alarm clock in her colleagues' tent has gone off as well. And then one of the figures from her nightmares drops by to haunt her. Only that this time it is real!
Niko suppresses a scream as Mrs. Wheiner approaches her. The aura of disdain that the senator's wife projects is almost palpable. Niko doubles the speed with which she recites her mantras, but she is helpless against the panic that seizes her as she remembers that she hasn't brushed her hair yet. Before Mrs. Wheiner can start another long complaint, though, that for the vast amount of money the League is paying the Galaxy Rangers, a senator (and his dignified wife) should at least be able to expect those rangers to form a presentable retinue when accompanying said senator (and his dignified wife) on an inspection tour of the new frontier camping sites, her eyes seize on another outrageous detail that she can protest about.
"You placed the eggs in the water before it started boiling! How can you! For the vast amount of money the League is paying the Galaxy Rangers, one should at least be able to expect ..."
Niko grits her teeth and imagines Wheiner's wife as a pink bunny in underwear.
"Mrs. Wheiner, I assure you that I do know how to boil eggs."
"My husband is a very important person and he needs his breakfast eggs to be cooked exactly 8 1/2 minutes! If you put them into the water before it boils, they will be too hard! For the enormous amount of money the League is paying you rangers …"
Niko clenches her fists and adds some hungry alligators to the mental image of the pink bunny in underwear.
"Mrs. Wheiner I have plenty of experience in cooking eggs. My psychic abilities will tell me exactly when the eggs are done."
"My husband is facing a long and strenuous day, and you will take those eggs out of their pot and put some fresh eggs into the water precisely the moment it starts boiling, and you will take out the eggs exactly 8 1/2 minutes later! Is that clear?"
Mrs. Wheiner's complexion definitely starts to resemble that of a pink bunny as she spits out those words. After giving Niko one last contemptuous glance she rushes off to take a dignified shower.
"And brush your hair!"
Niko grits her teeth even more firmly and wishes all the alligators this galaxy can muster upon the person who inspired Wheiner to take a trip to the camping sites of the new frontier. Accepting the inevitable, she uses her powers to lift the eggs out of the water and starts rummaging through her traveling bag to find a stop watch. This is when Doc joins her in one of his infamous good moods.
"Good morning, Niko. Is breakfast ready? If the hole in my stomach grows any larger, it's going to swallow the whole planet."
Niko reminds herself that it is not Doc's fault that he is in a cheerful mood and fetches a new package of eggs from their provisions. Out of a hunch that it might be some time before she actually gets to eat something, she takes a chocolate bar for herself, too.
"Ahem, Niko, I'm really hungry. Don't you think the eggs would be done earlier if you put them into the water now instead of waiting till it boils?"
Niko grips the bar of chocolate she is eating so hard that it crumbles. A devilish smile crosses her face.
"Why don't you cook the eggs while I have a shower?" she asks with an innocent smile. "Just remember that Mrs. Wheiner has her principles about boiling eggs."
10 minutes later Niko returns after an extensive and refreshing shower - only to see that the egg pot has been taken from the fire again.
"Doc, how can you! Just think of the long and strenuous day we are going to have if the senator doesn't get his eggs in time!"
She holds up the package of eggs accusingly.
Doc shrugs his shoulders apologetically. "Sorry, Niko, Wheiner insisted that you cook his eggs for him. He wants them to be put into the water when it reaches exactly 209 degrees of Fahrenheit, i.e. 98.33 degrees Celsius."
Niko drops the package of eggs in shock and the eggs crush on the stony ground.
"That stupid, colorless worm wants me to cook his eggs! His distant ancestors' eggs should never have been allowed to hatch!"
"Ahem, Niko, what culture do the expletives you are using belong to and how surely are they going to get me into the worm pit if I use them on the wrong person?"
Niko has used up the little energy her shower has restored to her and sinks to the ground, exhausted.
Doc looks at her questioningly. "Come on, Niko. Did Wheiner's snoring you keep awake all night or what? I've got a spare pair of ear plugs, if you want."
Niko determinedly keeps her eyes on the remains of the broken eggs on the ground. She grits her teeth extremely firmly and makes a mental note that she probably will have to see her dentist when this horror vacation is over. She will never again think that teddy bears are innocent fun.
"Unfortunately, Wheiner and his wife seem to think there are things worth a sleepless night."
Doc looks at her, curious, but Niko refuses to give details. Tired, she buries her face in her hands. "I shouldn't have used up all my charge defending Wheiner against that wasp swarm. I mean, there was a sign that read 'Beware the wasps' and he stepped right into their nest. It would have been justified to just stand back and watch, wouldn't it?"
"You're assuming that he can read?" Doc cocks his head as though seriously contemplating the probability of that.
"Isn't that one of the prerequisites for a political career?"
"I believe you've got some rather peculiar notions about politics. I mean, if he was able to read, the vacation prospects would have told him how chilly the mornings on this planet are, and then he wouldn't have needed to confiscate Zachary's sweaters."
"He's done what?" Niko almost jumps up in shock.
"Well, officially the sweaters are unsuitable for an important senator's retinue but I think I've recognized the collar of Zachary's blue sweaters under Wheiner's jacket."
"How did you manage to escape the expropriation?" Niko asks, momentarily forgetting that she is too tired to talk.
Doc scratches himself thoroughly. "I don't know what you mean, Niko."
At that moment Zachary appears from his tent, wearing a purple sweater that he's obviously borrowed from Doc. He seems to be extremely agitated about something, and Niko thinks that he couldn't look more panicked if he had to sing an opera in front of the Board of World Leaders.
"Have you seen my razor, Doc? I can't find it anywhere. Niko, could you do a psychic read to locate it? I don't think I can survive Mrs. Wheiner's speech about an overpaid ranger's proper attire on a camping site one more time."
Niko ponders the problem for a moment. "I think your razor was in the bag that fell into the lake when we had to rescue Mrs. Wheiner from drowning yesterday, but I don't think she will accept that as an excuse."
Zachary sighs in resignation. "I guess I'll have to buy a new one, then. And a new sweater," he adds with a side glance at Doc, who is busy devouring their last chocolate bar.
"If you're at it, could you bring some fresh eggs?" Doc asks, pointing to the sad remnants of their last package of eggs on the ground.
"Sure." Zachary's face lights up considerably as Doc mentions the word 'eggs'.
"I'd like to have scrambled eggs for breakfast. Rather crispy but still soft on the inside. And not too much caraway."
Niko shoots him a deadly look.
Zachary looks at her questioningly. "Is something wrong, Niko? The last time you were in such a bad mood was when they sent you onto that diplomatic mission on Ippshaa to apologize for our criticizing their construction sites. Actually, do you think we could get away from here faster if we did that again?"
"I think I'm going to buy those eggs myself." Before her team-mates can make any more ill-conceived suggestions that will mean just more work for her (and put her resolve to the test not to call those telepathic bloodhounds that she has been sensing in the hills around the camping site), Niko snatches her purse and hurries off.
"Please try to keep Mrs. Wheiner from borrowing anything that cannot be replaced. And don't discourage her from wearing high heels for our climbing tour."
When Niko returns with a dozen new packages of eggs (for making breakfast) and a large box of chocolate bars (to survive until then), Doc and Zachary are busy reconfiguring a scanner so that it beeps exactly the moment the water reaches 209 degrees of Fahrenheit. That is, Zachary is busy reconnecting wires while Doc is engaged in a heated debate with his tweakers, who refuse flatly to be used as breakfast sub-routines.
Niko silently tends each of her colleagues a chocolate bar and settles down to watch the show. Her returning good mood is abruptly shattered when she sees Mrs. Wheiner re-emerge from the shower and approach the camping fire.
"Hurry up, guys, or we had better apply for new jobs."
She starts wondering what talents they all have that might qualify them for a job on a Wheiner free planet. At that very moment, Senator Wheiner decides to leave his tent, and Niko starts seriously considering a career as a lion tamer on the southern continent of Beastee-Fenokee. When Mrs. Wheiner catches sight of her husband, a radiant smile spreads across her face and she hurries to embrace him, actually missing the fact that Doc's sweater doesn't match the color of her sunglasses.
"Darling, you look stunning in that camping wear. We should take pictures for your next election campaign."
Niko contemplates volunteering to travel to Andor and buy a really good camera for them, but then she remembers that she hasn't ironed her shirt yet and remains silent.
"And that blue sweater you're wearing - you look so swell in it."
Zachary winces visibly but Wheiner seems too absorbed in admiring his wife to notice. Mrs. Wheiner giggles and whispers something into her husband's ear. Wheiner casts a disdainful look at the chaos around the camping fire and seems to come to the conclusion that whatever his wife suggested is a far better idea than watching his escort boil their fingers while trying to boil his eggs.
"As I see that you have still not been able to prepare a decent meal, I will use the time to work on my ... new speech," are the last pompous words he manages to utter before his wife drags him into their tent.
"Hey, wasn't that lucky that he doesn't want to eat his eggs yet?" Doc remarks cheerfully. "I wonder what they're doing..."
Zachary looks as though he would rather walk back to Beta than think about what the Wheiners are doing. "I'll never wear that sweater again."
"I'll never be able to look at teddy bears again without second thoughts," Niko adds, disgusted.
"Teddy bears?" Doc echoes, astounded.
"Don't ask. Don't _ever_ ask."
Meanwhile, the tweakers have reached a decision. "Okay, Doc, we'll help you cook the eggs but only if you let us have all the Easter eggs we want."
Doc looks at his programs with new found horror, then he looks at his colleagues as though pleading with them to tell him it is only a nightmare.
"I've heard they're hiring at Tortuna," Niko comments.
One week later:
Doc, Niko and Zachary have somehow survived their camping trip with the Wheiners, though they are not sure as to exactly how they did it. Relieved that the nightmare is over, they return to BETA mountain and enter their office - or what used to be their office. Now it is full of cardboard, straw, metal scraps, explosives, strange apparatuses worthy of a mad scientist's lab and ...
"Eggs! Who stuffed our office with tons of eggs?" Zachary demands to know, with more anger in his voice than a medium-sized tornado.
Goose appears from behind a stack of crates. "Hey, I had a strenuous week on Tortuna. I need to relax a bit.
And BETA is holding an egg drop contest tomorrow."