TITLE: Alphabet Soup: P is for Pathos
AUTHOR: Marisa 'Mayonnaise' Jane G.
DISCLAIMER: I didn't create the Power Rangers, I can't take any credit for them and I'm fully adhering to Alphabet Soup Contact Protocol while handling them.
SPOILERS: Up to and Including: "Dome Dolls"
ARCHIVE: Contact me please.
P is for Pathos: An argument which appeals to logic is scientifically superior to one which appeals to the emotions... but it can be very difficult to ignore strong feelings, even when they are completely illogical.
K glanced away from her computer, not for the first, or even the fifth time in the last twenty minutes, down at Ziggy, still laid out where he fell. On the one hand it seemed wrong to just leave him there, when they'd gone and propped the rest of the male rangers up against the wall, but on the other he was already in the lab, and it seemed improprietous to go about touching him without need.
"Contact Protocol," she said, to no one in particular, trying to dispel the intrusive thoughts which kept distracting her from her work. "Let's just concentrate on the antidote, shall we?"
She had to get it working before Venjix managed to swarm the city. Even with Summer up there trying to calm her down, Specialist Vasquez could not be counted on to keep the dome shields operational on her own. It wasn't that she wasn't competent, in fact she made an optimal subordinate, but by her panicky nature, K could predict with rather high certainty that Vasquez would object to being left with sole responsibility for the Bio-dome... strongly enough to melt down completely if this went on too long.
While it was tempting to resent the Specialist's lack of self direction capability, K sympathized with the woman. K had volunteered to the defense of the city... she knew what she was getting into the moment she stepped into it, but, as she had learned while working with the young woman early in the setup phase of the Ranger team, Vasquez had been conscripted into her position, as the military dwindled in the fight against Venjix. She had been a computer support technician nearing the end of two year enlistment in the National Guard, which was paying for her secondary education, when in a last ditch effort to save Corinth, all discharges were suspended, and every last remaining guardsman was mobilized into full time military duty. She'd been stuck on control tower duty ever since.
"We need to get the men awake as soon as possible," she muttered, still speaking to the empty lab. "Vasquez does not want to be in charge."
K redoubled her efforts at antidote fabrication, guiding the manipulation of the solution currently sitting in her nano-fabrication chamber, just a few feet away. Advanced chemistry with out the mess: the device, and its ability to manipulate the composition of a solution on a molecular level, had been the inspiration for Morphing. Why carry a suit around with you at all times when you could have it molecularly assembled around you from a remote location?
"Modifications to Road Attack Zord complete!" Gemma bounded into the lab. "But right now it can only be energized using Scott's Engine Cell."
"Right," K confirmed, "Antidote: version one," she stood from her terminal to collect the liquid from her nano-fabrication chamber. "Computer simulation calculates a fifty two percent probability of success," she loaded the bottle into the aerosolizing mister, and paused, "Now, who should we test it on?"
It only took a moment for her eyes to alight in the same place they kept being drawn... the Green Ranger. She darted across the room and knelt at his side, Gemma on her heel, and sprayed the concentration in his face. He woke almost immediately, much to the doctor's delight... but then he opened his mouth.
"I had the strangest dream... we... we were on a date..." he stammered out, reaching up to touch her hand.
"That sounds like a nightmare," she replied, removing her hand from his reach as he grunted softly and fell back into a deep sleep, much to her disappointment. Failure.
"Any luck?" Summer entered the lab, standing over the three on the ground.
"Luck is an abstract concept that ignores skill... but since you asked," K and Gemma stood from the floor, "no."
The attack sirens sounded, drawing K quickly back to her terminal to check on the cause.
"The guards at the Eastern Quadrants must be asleep," she sighed. "The shields have been breached."
"We need the streets cleared," Summer said hurriedly as she started for the door to the lab. "What we're planning is going to have a large area of effect..." and with that the two were out the door of her lab, leaving her alone again, with the four sleeping Rangers propped against the wall... and Ziggy. She peered down at his sleeping form again, thinking about what he'd said. It didn't actually sound like a nightmare at all... which of course was why it couldn't be allowed to happen.
'He's cute when he's asleep,' she thought, and not for the first time.
Allowing herself to indulge the thought for moment, she recalled the disastrous first deployment of the Croc Carrier. That night she had stayed up, without sleep, trying to find out why it had malfunctioned so spectacularly, and he had stayed up with her... annoying as ever. The following morning though, as she briefed the other Rangers about the need for the flux over-thruster, she watched as he slowly drooped and fell face first, asleep in his bowl of cereal, and couldn't help, for just one moment, thinking about how adorable he was like that.
"Not now!" she chastised herself, for the daydream. "There's an attack bot on the loose!"
Besides which, cuteness was a highly superficial way of selecting a mate. Even Summer wasn't that shallow. After all, it was Scott, and not Dillon who scored a ten on an objective scale of cuteness, at least from where K was standing...
'And Ziggy...' She shook her head at the intrusive thought. It had never been this much of a problem when she'd been behind her screens, even if there had been somewhat of an unrealized ulterior motive to giving him a long laborious task that left him bottom end up for most of the afternoon, scrubbing. At the time, she had dismissed it as nothing more to it than the sublimation of simple human animal desires in a contained population, no different to Gem's brief infatuation with her. It was a passing physiological reaction, nothing more.
"Summer and Gemma need the roads cleared!" she snapped, at herself more than anyone else, "and Vasquez does not want to be in charge."
She called up her cameras in the streets and muttered something quite rude, realizing that the infantry... what remained of the infantry, would have their hands more than full clearing the streets of the unconscious male population, and the panicking female population of the city.
"All remaining active Corinth Military!" she tapped into the military coms, "This is Doctor K. As you may have noted, the male population of the city is currently incapacitated. This includes the majority of your chain of command, and many of your comrades. Specialist Vasquez is currently the highest ranking officer, but as her hands are full maintaining the dome functions, I am taking command. Rouse all off duty female personnel in the barracks. All patrol units: I need you to clear the streets in your sectors of all civilians and incapacitated males. All reserve infantry: assist in the clearing of the Eastern Quadrant, currently under attack by a Venjix bot. All gate guards: check in on alternate coded channel... I need to know which gates have remaining personnel, and which will need reinforcements. That bot came in through an unguarded gate."
K sighed, and settled back into her work on the antidote, counting on the mere 32% of the Corinth Military not currently under the effects of the toxin to follow her commands... fairly certain that Vasquez would be grateful, rather than perturbed at her decision to usurp her command.
She sighed, eyes alighting first on the sleeping Rangers sitting against the wall, and then once more on Ziggy, reminders of the untenable position the city was in, with half of it's population completely incapacitated. What if she couldn't come up with the antidote in time? What if they were stuck like this until they inevitably starved to death or were destroyed by attack bots?
"Ok... we're not thinking about that right now," she said, sullenly, as she pulled up the coded channel data-flow, pinpointing the unguarded gates, and opened the military coms again, selecting a private channel, "Lieutenant Fernandes."
"A bit busy down here Doctor K..." the young woman replied.
"I need you to send two of your unit to gate 15. It's unguarded."
"Why my unit?"
"I'm sending personnel from other units to other gates Lieutenant, your unit is the closest to gate 15 which can spare personnel."
"I can't spare any. I've only got six!"
"That's four more than the next nearest unit."
There was silence on the other end of the coms for a moment. "Right... on it."
K called up five more units in this manner, re-allocating infantry to guard the gates which had fewer than two women on duty at the time of the attack, all the while working on the Antidote. Multitasking command and development was an important skill she had been required to develop early in her days in Corinth, and it hadn't been easy, previously focusing on only one project at any given time, on time-lines as determined by Sir and Ma'am. Managing her own time was never a concern in the Soup.
She often wished she really were as cold as people thought she was, that she really was the human computer, the robot or sociopath that others took her for. It would be so much easier in that case to ignore these intrusive feelings she kept having and focus on the tasks she was trying to juggle. Instead the best she could do was stuff those feelings down as hard and tight as she could, cover them with a thick layer of logic, and hope they would go away in time.
On the other hand, K just as often envied Ziggy, and his purely emotional way of looking at the world. She really did suppose it must be wonderful to grow up at a lower intelligence level. While she could see only clear facts and figures, usually predicting a dismal outcome for the human race, Ziggy, without the capacity to understand the depths they were trying to claw their way out of, always remained optimistic. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt so much to feel, if she could hope...
"Antidote probability... 70 percent," she lamented, "Not good enough."
She didn't even bother testing it that time. In all likelihood Ziggy would just say something else infuriating or else completely stupid that would lodge itself in her head as further distraction. That was the trouble with him. His distraction capabilities had moved beyond inducing inconvenient but otherwise negligible hormonal reactions. His words... his inane statements had a way of staying with her long after they were spoken, rattling about and popping back into her head at the most inopportune times.
"I had the strangest dream... we... we were on a date..."
She could always humor him...
"No," she announced, frustratedly to the empty room. "There's a reason we cannot have nice things."
She returned her focus to re-calibrating the nano-fabrication chamber for a new chemical formula, determined not to allow herself so much as another fleeting moment of fantasy.
It was bad enough that she'd almost allowed herself to enjoy his company only a few hours earlier, acquiescing to his insistence that he could teach her how to prepare food fresh, rather than re-heating the frozen entrees she habitually consumed. She had no real desire to eat anything else, but had consented to the lessons, she realized shortly after they began, as a means of spending time with him. Realizing this, she'd cut the interaction short and retreated, leaving the poor boy in frustration again. He probably wouldn't take much more of her abuse before he became resentful... which was after all the goal of her behavior. It would be better for him to hate her, even if it hurt her... or perhaps because it hurt her.
As frustrating as he could be, and despite his criminal past, Ziggy had always struck her as a gentle person. Somehow she knew, if she were to allow him in, take him up on the affections he offered so relentlessly, he wouldn't ever hurt her. He didn't have it in him. He was too nice, too gentle, too good for her to ever allow herself to have him, no matter how much she wanted to.
Her eyes alighted on his prone figure again, mind reaching back to the feeling she had for just a moment, when thrown across the lab by a Venjix controlled Dillon, she had met upon impact, not the painted concrete floor of the lab, but Ziggy's gentle arms. She'd laid awake many nights trying to recall that moment in all completeness, to remember what it felt like to have his arms around her, soft... warm... comfortable...
An alarm sounded again... the control tower was taking damage. K checked the extent and source of the damage, something emanating from where Gemma and Summer were engaging the Venjix attack bot... climate control and coms were out... Vasquez was cut off from all assistance.
"Vasquez does not want to be in charge," it was becoming a mantra, meaning stop thinking your own selfish thoughts, and save the city already.
She re-tweaked the formula, for the umpteenth time, and set the nano-fabrication chamber to produce it, simultaneously feeding the formula it into her biochemical computer simulation. Without even waiting for the results she started working on the next iteration in case this one failed. They were running out of time... if this thing enlarged... and they couldn't field a Megazord without at least one of the male rangers, awake...
The computer chirped... and she turned to the other screen, reading out the results.
"I have the Antidote!"
Next Up: V is for Venjix - There's far more in common between the doctor and her creation than she would like to admit... but far less than he believes there is... (Ancient History)