Harper and the Bunny Incident

Harper trotted down the corridor after the Captain
“Oh come on boss, lemme have one, I REALLY need one.”
“NO” Dylan said firmly.
“Oh PLEEESE…I can be responsible, let me prove it.”
“N-O no, there will be no pets on this ship and least of all in your care Mr Harper.”
“That’s not fair, Trance has her plants, why can’t I have a bunny!” The little engineer grumbled.
“Plants are not pets.” Dylan said with a sigh, trying to bring the conversation to a close as he strode off down the corridor.
“She talks to em boss and one of those evil looking plants bit me the other day-sounds like pets to me!” he yelled after the departing captain.

“No pets Mr Harper and that’s final!”

Harper stood still in the now deserted corridor, “You suck, muscle bound dictator! I bet if Tyr wanted a pet there wouldn’t be all this fuss.” With that the young man turned back the way he’d just come and went off mumbling about the injustice of it all.

A week later

Harper cleared a spot on one of his workbenches then hopped up and got comfortable before he took out his pad and started on his list of spares. He was looking forward to a spot of bartering and it would be good to get off the ship for a bit, a couple of hours and they’d be ready for their shopping trip. As Harper jotted down the last item on his list a look of defiance crept across his features, and he made an addition to his shopping list.

7. Pet 4 Me.

Harper took a deep breath of fresh air and surveyed the bustling market place a grin on his face. He coughed, Ok, so the air wasn’t so fresh he admitted as he rubbed his hands together in anticipation of a good afternoon’s bartering.

Beka tapped her young friend on the shoulder and grinned as she saw Harper jump.
“Don’t do that, you trying’ to give a heart attack before I’m 30?” Harper gripped.
“Have you got your list with you? Shall I come along and keep you out of trouble?” Beka continued to grin unrepentantly.

“Yes Mom and No thanks, I think I remember how to pick up a few supplies without getting into hot water.”
“If you say so, I’ll leave you to it and go catch up with the others. Later little man.” Beka said as she disappeared into the crowd.
Harper waved absently at his departed friend and went off to check out the local trader situation.

Harper looked from the trader to the contents of a nearby cage,
“Are you sure that’s a bunny?” he asked.
The old man gave his customer a shifty look as he scrapped what looked like last weeks dinner off the front of his grubby tunic with an equally dirty fingernail.
“Its as close to as you’re gonna find around here laddie”
Harper looked at the little creature longingly and then consulted his pad and the list of questions he’d noted there, he was determined to be responsible, he’d show Dylan!

“ Is it a girl or a boy, its not one of those single sex species-I don’t want a ship full of baby bunnies.”
“It’s a male.”
“Ok, then how big is it gonna grow?” Harper asked as he mentally ticked off the questions on his list.
“Not much bigger than it is now.” The old man sad quickly.
“Ok, sounds good, what does it eat?”
The old man disappeared behind his counter and pulled out a large bag, which he dumped on the counter.
“ Its synthetic feed and you can reproduce it with any standard food processing unit.”

Harper studied his check list and then moved over to the creatures cage and stuck his finger in to see if it was gonna bite it off. It was always a good idea to make sure you and your pet were compatible-he’d heard that somewhere.

The old man mistook Harpers hesitation to mean that he was in danger of loosing a sale, “ Your folks know you’re here sonny, maybe you should go home and come back later. Can’t promise the little bunny won’t have been sold by then of course.”

Harper thought out loud,” Well it’s got the long ears and the big feet and its not very big, and the little ridges on its back ARE kinda cute and Red is my favourite colour. And it didn’t chew my finger off, that’s a good sign.
“I’ll take it.” Harper said with resolve.

A week later

Harper was very pleased with himself, being a responsible pet owner really wasn’t so tough. He’d got Tyr and his cage onboard without detection and bunny was settled comfortably in Harpers quarters.. He’d considered all the angles; the bunny was chipped so that he could keep track of his pet on the off chance he escaped. And he’d adjusted Rommies sensors so that the little animal wouldn’t register. Harper grinned broadly, he thought naming his bunny after the big guy was a hoot! It had been a toss up between him and Dylan-but the boss didn’t deserve the honour of having a pet named after him Harper pouted.

The first hitch the young engineer encountered started during the second week after Tyr’s arrival. Harper signed, his bunny loved him and cried when he tried to leave his quarters without him. He’d tried leaving music on to keep Tyr company but Harper could still hear the screeches half way down the corridor and besides it breaking his heart he was also scared that one of the other crew would hear it. So he cleared out one of the pockets in his tool belt and let Tyr ride along with him.

One month later

Harper was in his quarters sitting cross legged on his bed, he stared with affection over at Tyr who was sleeping in the middle of the floor in a nest of Harper’s dirty washing. His pet had outgrown three cages so far and Harper had given up and let Tyr have the free run of his quarters-he just had to watch where he was stepping. Bunny poo was a bit smelly but he tried to keep on top of the cleaning chores.
“Gotta go to work now pal, so you stay outa trouble” he told Tyr as he gave the bunny a quick scratch behind the ears.

He was due back at work ten minutes ago so Harper went off at a run, and he didn’t notice Tyr scamper out of his quarters before the doors slid shut and hop down the corridor in the opposite direction.

“You’re late!” Tyr Anasazi growled at he collided with the young engineer outside the command centre.
“Yer, sorry about that.” Harper mumbled as he edged around the big warrior.
Tyr wrinkled his nose as Harper passed him, “You stink boy.” He said with distaste before disappearing in the direction of his quarters.

“Charming.” Harper said under his breath and then took a tentative sniff at the sleeve of his T-shirt.

Dylan glanced over at his tardy crewmember, “You’re late.”
“And I stink.” Harper added under his breath.

After his shift Harper went back to his quarters to shower and clean his room, rabbit hutch he amended. As Harper worked he began to get the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. He abandoned cleaning and frantically searched his room but it soon became clear that it was a bunny free zone.
“Shit, shit, shit.” Harper muttered as he grabbed and flicked on the receiver that would hopefully tell him where Tyr was. He bolted out of the door and took off down the corridor calling out as he went,
“Tyr, you long eared fur ball get back here!”
Harper ran right into Tyr.
Tyr Anasazi gave the boy a dark look,
“Is there something you wish to say about my ears?” he asked ominously.
Harper had skidded to a halt in front of the mountain of flesh that barred his way,
“Ears? Yours? No, they’re good ears, they fit…they suit you. Yes, very nice ears.” The young man babbled.
“Are you sickening for something boy?”
“Yes, that’s it! I’m sick, gotta terrible headache, just going to med-bay to see our purple Trance doll.” Harper said with enthusiasm.
“Med-bay is in the other direction.” Tyr said as he pointed behind Harper.
Harper fidgeted for barely 30 seconds before he launched into his excuse.
“I know a short cut, takes longer but its quiet, dark and quiet and good for headaches. I’ll show it to you some time if you want?”
The warrior stared at the boy as if hoping whatever Harper had wasn’t contagious, “That will not be necessary.” He stated as be stepped around Harper and strode away without looking back.

Harper frantically followed the blip on his screen until for rounded yet another corner and found his escapee sitting outside his own quarters. Harper wagged his finger,
“You naughty boy” he chastised gently as the bunny unconcernedly scratched at one of his long ears before launching himself at his owner.
Harper gasped as his knees almost buckled under the weight of the unexpected fur ball in his arms and staggered against the opposite wall.
“You’re going on a diet fatso! Now lets get you inside before anyone sees you.”
Once inside his quarters Harper plopped his charge onto the bed, “I hope you’ve not been up to any mischief young bunny?”
Tyr got comfortable on the bed and went right to sleep.
“I’ll take that as a no shall I? PLEASE let it be no.” Harper prayed silently.

Trance was distraught, something terrible had happened in her hydro-bay. The whole crew squashed into the room and looked around at the devastation.
“What happened here Trance?” Dylan asked as he offered the young girl a consoling pat on the shoulder.
“Everything looked normal when I went to get lunch earlier, I can’t think what could have caused this.” Trance said as she touched her precious plants with sadness.
“ Could some parasite be responsible for this damage Trance?” Dylan asked.
Trance shook her head, “ No, I don’t think so, I’ve found no trace of a parasite Captain.”

Trance began to salvage what she could as the rest of the crew left and feeling incredibly guilty Harper pocketed a small mound of bunny poo on his way out.
“Let me know if I can do anything to help?” He offered, even though it did little to ease his conscience.

Back in his quarters Harper gave his pet a serious talking to and threatened him with the air lock if anything like this where to happen again. But Harper couldn’t help feeling that the telling off wasn’t having much effect on his sleeping bunny.

Harper was beginning to have a suspicion that the trader hadn’t been totally honest with him! When Tyr stood on his back legs now he reached his owners chest and on numerous occasions his welcomes had left Harper on his butt in a heap with an over sized bunny sitting on his chest. It was also becoming a struggle to keep Tyr fed to his satisfaction. He’d grown tired of just synthetic feed and taken to eating whatever he could get his teeth into-Harper kept a supply of cloths in his work shop now after his bunny had destroyed his favourite pair of pants.

Several days later

Dylan was passing the crew deck when he heard noises-he tried to decide just what kind of noise it was when he heard it a second time. Dylan walked toward the noise and it appeared to be coming from mister Harper’s quarters. It sounded as if Harper was jumping on and off his bed, an unlikely but possible scenario but for the fact he’d just left the young man in his workshop.

“Rommie, is Mr Harper still in his workshop?”
A few moments later Rommie replied, “Yes Captain.”
Dylan frowned, “Is there any activity registering from Harper’s quarters?”
“No Captain,” came the curious reply.
Dylan mussed on the noises he could still hear quite clearly coming from Harper’s room.
“He must have a poltergeist then, please open Mr Harper’s quarters Rommie”
“Yes Sir.”
As the door slid open something bounded out and almost took Dylan’s legs from under him and with several giant hops it disappeared around the corner.
“Rommie, alert the crew that we have an intruder on board.”
“Yes Captain, what does it look like?” She asked.
“Like something out of Alice’s Tea Party.”
“Excuse me Captain?”
“A large red rabbit “
“Oh, I see Captain. I’ll alert the crew right away.”

When Harper heard the announcement he was almost glad that his secret was all but out. The responsibility of owning a pet was a little more time and energy consuming that he’d suspected. Now if he could just get Tyr off the ship and find him a good home without Dylan and the rest of the crew finding out the large bunny belonged to him. What was the likelihood of that he wondered.
“Zero” he answered his own question with a heartfelt sigh. A few moments later he heard a familiar screech outside his door.
“Oh here we go, Bunny’s home.” Harper said as he went to let his pet in.

“It can’t have disappeared.” Dylan repeated as he glared at a smirking Beka.
“You’ve been under a lot of pressure lately Dylan, maybe you need a bit of a rest?”
“I can still find no trace of any intruder onboard Captain.” Rommie interjected.
Dylan looked around at the faces of his crew and that’s when it registered that someone was missing.
“Where’s Mr Harper?”
Everyone shrugged.
“Locate Harper please Rommie.

The door to Harper’s workshop opened and Dylan and the rest of the crew trouped inside, Harper wasn’t immediately visible but Dylan noticed the toes of his boots peeking out from under one of the benches. Harper also seemed to be making odd screeching sounds too.

“Come here Mr Harper!” Dylan commanded.
“Are you mad at me?”
“Should I be?” the captain asked suspiciously
No reply was forth coming so he gestured for Tyr to assist Harper out from under the bench.
There was a slight tussle and what sounded like a grimace of pain and the warrior scrambled up; he sucked at several of his fingers for a moment.
“Something red bite me.” He stated.
Dylan kept a grip on his temper,” Please come out Mr Harper.”
“Ok.” Harper agreed and began to crawl out of his hiding place.
“Come on Tyr, its Ok know body wants to hurt you.” He coaxed his pet.
“Excuse me?” The large warrior glared, wondering if he’s missed something along the way.
Harper gave the big man a sheepish grin, “Not you, the bunny.”
The large red bunny in question scrambled out and sat close to Harper.
The warrior glared at Harper with murder in his eyes until he was distracted by muffled giggles from Trance and Beka.

Dylan made to poke a finger in Harper’s direction but pulled it back quickly when large teeth snapped at his hand.
“You have a lot of explaining to do young man!” he said as he put his hands behind his back.

“I think we’re in trouble.” Harper whispered as he patted his bunny affectionately on the head.

Part two

“Where did Tyr come from?” Dylan said as he indicated towards the large red rabbit.

This was a question that Harper felt was best postponed as long as possible, so he chose to ignore it.
“I didn’t expect him to grow this big boss, I was assured it was a small pet suitable for confined spaces. I followed all the rules-here look.” And with that Harper brought out a crumpled little book from one of his pants pockets and thrust it into Dylan’s hands.
THE IDIOTS GUIDE TO GOOD PET OWNERSHIP Dylan read on the cover of the ear marked book.

No yelling yet, the young man took that as a good sign and quickly continued.
“ Man you gotta admit I did all I could, he only escaped the once, err, twice in nearly two months.” Harper looked over at Trance, “I’m really sorry about your plants…and I did help clear up the mess.”

“Two Months?” Dylan said, his tone rising several notches. Before Harper could respond a commotion erupted nearby.

“Get this RODDENT off me!” Tyr bellowed as he tried to dislodge Harper’s bunny, which had taken a liking to his pant leg and was happily nibbling away at it.

Harper quickly got in-between the irate warrior and his pet as Tyr went for the weapon at his side.
“You big bully! What do ya think your doing scaring my bunny? Moron.” He muttered under his breath.

Enough! Everyone except Harper and his pet, OUT!” Dylan commanded.

Tyr Anasazi glared at Harper and the large rabbit for several moments and then turned and left the overcrowded workshop. Beka gave her young friend a comforting pat on the shoulder, “Good luck, I think you’re gonna need it.” And them followed the other crewmembers out.

Dylan took several deep breaths to calm himself and then repeated his earlier question, “ Two months? I think you better explain yourself right now mister.”

Harper snuck a quick look to see what his pet was up to, and saw the bunny curled up under one of the benches asleep. Harper sincerely wished he could do the same, but instead launched into an account of the adventures he’d had with his pet over the last few weeks. He made sure to emphasise as many times as possible just how responsible he’d been. It wasn’t his fault that fate and a lying storeowner had conspired against him.

Dylan stood with arms folded and silently listened to all that the younger man had to say for himself. He grudgingly admitted to himself that Harper had made a more responsible pet owner than he would have suspected.

“You still haven’t answered my question Harper-you discovered our stowaway two months ago? “

“Not exactly.” Harper answered.

Dylan looked at the young man questioningly, “By my math our guest’s arrival would have coincided with the last supply stop-does that jog your memory at all Mr Harper?”

Harper decided against incriminating himself so remained silent.

“Do you recall a conversation we had about that particular supply stop?” Dylan prompted.

“ Get spares on list, stay out of trouble and come straight home.” Harper quipped.

“Don’t push your luck with me Harper. You know very well I’m referring to the No Pets On Board rule we talked about.”

Harper ignored the tell tale twitch of annoyance that crossed the captains face as he went on the defensive. “ We didn’t talk about it, you just said no! And anyway I checked the Commonwealth archives and it doesn’t say anywhere that the crew can’t have pets.”

Dylan stepped right up into the younger man’s personal space, “ I’m the captain of this ship Mr Harper, if you like we can call it my No Pets Rule.”

Harper refused to be intimidated; he owed it to his bunny. Harper pulled himself up to his full height and starred the captain in the eye, ok, it was actually the third button from the top of Dylan’s jacket, but the sentiment was there.

“Tyr loves me, he relies on me-if he goes so do I.” There he’d said it.
“You can’t be serious Seamus, you’d leave the ship, leave Rommie, over a Rabbit?”
“You and Beka are always nagging me to be more responsible.”
“True, but…”
“Rules are meant to be broken, I think this situation is a perfect example of a rule crying out to be broken captain.” Harper interjected.

As if on cue a big red fur ball bounded over and launched himself at his owner, and Harper sat down on the floor with a loud “Oww!”

As Dylan looked down at the half obscured form of his Engineer his resolve began to seriously falter. Harper pushed Tyr’s big ears to one side so he could see the captain.

“Come on boss, I gotta keep him, say I can keep him?” Harper said as he pushed the large rabbit off his lap and got to his feet. Feeling that this could be the break through he kept talking to strengthen his advantage.

“ We’ve got plenty of empty old crew quarters I can easily modify one for Tyr-and put up a containment field to make sure he doesn’t escape again.”

“You’d have to give him a new name, calling him after a crew member will just cause confusion. Not to mention that our Tyr would probably stuff you and the rabbit down the nearest waist disposal.” Dylan added.

“Does that mean I get to keep him?” Harper asked.
“A trial period to start with Mr Harper but any disruption to the running of this ship and he goes. Is that understood?”

He got no immediate response as the engineer was under a bench coaxing his pet out,
“Come on Pal how’d ya feel like going to check out some new accommodation-you can choose the decor.”

“Not so fast Harper there’s still the question of you deliberately disregarding my orders.”

Harper pulled up, rabbit at his side.” I’ve got a lot on at the moment, stow Tyr away in his new quarters, and ship repairs are piling up-101 things to do boss. Can we reschedule the lecture about disobeying your divine self, Captain? “

Dylan chose to ignore that last comment, “We can do that,” he answered mildly.
“Excellent, I knew you’d understand what a busy guy I am boss” Harper grinned as he pushed Tyr ahead of him towards the door.

“Harper, report to my quarters in 15 minutes. That should be long enough to escort your pet back to your quarters.” Dylan commanded.

“Huh, I thought you said…” Harper started.
“Don’t think, just do as I ask for once please.

Thirty minutes later Harper presented himself at the Captain’s quarters, he was a bit confused because this was the first time Dylan had ever called him to his room to tell him off.
“You’re late Harper.” Dylan accused.
“The big red one gave me the slip,” Harper explained. “ Better late than never boss, you can start yelling-instructing me in the error of my ways, whenever you’re ready.”

“I won’t be the one doing any yelling of this occasion Mr Harper.” Dylan said as he beckoned the young man to approach him. Harper reluctantly came to Dylan, wondering what going on. It was about then that he noticed Dylan had placed a chair in the middle of his quarters.
“What’s with the re-arranged furniture?” He inquired.
“Call it a prop.”
“Huh?” Harper frowned.
Dylan sat on the chair in question and grabbed Harper and with a sharp tug the young man was across his lap.
“Hey!” Harper gasped, “If you wanna date you just had to ask.” He said with a nervous laugh. Dylan’s reply was to land a series of sharp slaps to the young man’s bottom. Eyes wide with shock Harper yelped loudly as each smack made contact with his butt. As abruptly as the punishment started it came to an end and Harper was stood upright between Dylan’s knees. He tried to squirm free but Dylan held him firmly in place.

Dylan looked down at Harper sternly, “It seems that you’ve gotten it into your head that I’m a soft touch and I’ll let you get away with your, shall we call it eccentric behaviour. And after this latest incident I think now would be a good time to dissuade you of that notion. So I got you this.”

Harper stared at the paddle that Dylan held in his hand, he noticed with horrible fascination that it fitted perfectly into Dylan’s large hand. “You’re not hitting me with that!” Harper said as he renewed his efforts to break free.

With little effort Dylan flipped Harper back into position across his thighs and ignoring any protests he whacked the paddle down on the young mans butt.
“Damn it, Oow! That hurts!” Harper yowled.
Dylan continued to evenly distribute hard smacks across both cheeks of Harpers bottom and then moved a little further down to cover the tops of the boys thighs with similarly painful smacks.

Harper tried to avoid the slaps from the paddle by wriggling furiously and calling Dylan all the cuss words he could think of. When all that did was bring even harder smacks onto his inflamed behind he decided to pay Dylan back by howling as loudly as his lungs could manage. He’d cry too cause that would really make the big guy feel guilty and serve him right Harper thought as he sobbed with pain and humiliation.

Dylan laid the paddle down and eased the young engineer off his lap and back onto his feet, he still help him securely between his knees. Harper dried his eyes on his sleeve and looked up at Dylan to see if he was sorry for beating the tar out of him. The Captain did look kinda sad and that made Harper burst into tears again,
“I’m sorry I disobeyed you but I’ve always wanted a pet, and when I saw little Tyr in that cage, he looked at me and I just had to have him.” Harper sobbed.

Dylan pulled the young man into his chest and stroked the back of his hair as he let Harper cry himself out. “Shush, everything is ok now, you’ll be fine, ” he soothed while he waited for Harper to calm down.

After Dylan had walked him back to his quarters Harper climbed onto his bed and prepared to have a wallow in self pity-was the boss going to whip out that damn paddle every time he was five minutes late for a shift or what! Tyr hopped over and settled next to Harper’s bed to commiserate with his owner.

“I hope you appreciate the sacrifices I’ve made for you pal? We’re gonna have to think of a new name for you too, it’s a pity because Tyr suited you.” Harper grinned in spite of the pain he was in. Tyr snuffled his owner’s ear affectionately.

“Yeh, I love you too Pal.” Harper said with equal affection as patted the bunny on the head.

Beka was alone in the command centre when Dylan appeared and flopped into his Captain’s chair with a sigh.
“Everything OK?” She asked.
“Everything’s fine-why do you ask?”
“Oh, nothing really, you just look a bit harassed.”
“Just the usual strain of command, you know.” He said.
“Harper ok?” Beka asked
“He will be.”
“And Tyr?”
“In his quarters, or working out I imagine.” Dylan replied
Beka smirked as she stuck a finger behind each ear and wiggled them.
“Harper’s pet is no longer to be referred to as Tyr, and that’s an order!”
“Yes Sir.” Beka said with a wide grin.
“Good, I’m glad that’s understood.” Dylan said with a pained expression.
“Can I have a pony?”
The Captain abruptly got to his feet and strode across the room, “I’m going to bed.”
“Night Captain.” Beka chuckled.

The end