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Part of Starbase 86: The Adventures of Heather Kowal

Henri and Bernadette

Starfleet Academy, Earth
Circa 2391
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Heather quickly made her way across campus to the science building and up to the second floor to the lab that Oval had called her to.  She was not sure what the problem was but when her best friend called her urgently for help the sound of her voice told her to not ask questions and to just get to where she needed to be.  When she’d gotten to the classroom she found Oval standing guard outside attempting to stand on her tiptoes and block the window in the door.

“What is going on?” Heather asked, looking down at her best friend.

“Bernadette and Henri got out,” said Oanez, her voice hushed. She looked one way down the corridor and then the other. “I don’t think they made it into an air vent.”

“Who are Bernadette and Henri?” she asked.  “And why are you trying to hide the door?” she asked.

“Umm…” She checked the hall again, making sure no one would overhear. “So, they’re a pair of avicularia purpurea that may have been irradiated a tiny bit…”

“What is a… avita-laria-purpurea?” she asked, looking a little nervous.  “And how much is a tiny bit?” her voice now matching her friends in hush.

“Just think of them as teddy bears. With eight legs. That I need to get back into their terrariums… in the lab three doors down.” Oanez grinned, hoping to melt her friend’s heart into helping her capture a pair of giant spiders.

“They’re big gross spiders, aren’t they?” she asked, crossing her arms.

Oanez looked wounded. “They are not gross.”

“Why do they keep escaping?” she asked, realizing she was getting louder and then repeating in a whisper.  “Why do they keep escaping… and why are they irradiated?”

“That’s classified,” Oanez said, a little too quickly. “But I think they’re playing. Their natural habitat is far more open.” She peeked through the window then had a realization. Turning to Heather, she said, “Or they’re mating!” Avicularia purpurea produces a cocoon of about 120 eggs, but Heather didn’t need to know that.

“Wonderful,” Heather said, rolling her eyes. “Just what we need mutant gross spider babies. And you don’t have a clearance, Oval.”

“Sure I do! Now, keep a lookout. I’m going in.”

“They’re in there?” she asked.

The giant, hairy body of Bernadette darkened the door’s window. Gulping, Oanez looked up and said, “…Yup.”

“Did you just gulp?” Heather asked, panic-stricken.

“If I die, tell my parents that the spiders were twice as big,” Oanez said before opening the door and dashing inside the classroom.

“How big are they?” she exclaimed after her friend disappeared.  “Oval!” she yelled, through the door before following her in.  She slammed the door shut behind her and then it occurred to her that she just blocked their exit or at least easily.  “Oval! What do we do?” she asked, going quiet and pale when she finally got a good look at the two giant, radioactive, gross spiders.

“Just make sure no one comes in.” She faced off against Henri, and the dark mass of Bernadette creeped down the door toward Heather. Noticing that the tarantula was about to “hug” her bestie, Oanez gasped and squeaked, “Look out!”

Heather let out a scream and jerked herself away from the spider’s “hug” and fell to the floor.  She scooted across the floor away from it.  “Why do they always escape?!” She yelled, angrily.

“They’re just curious!”

“They are supposed to be in cages, Oval!” she said, shrieking a little and getting up and running across the room grabbing a chair to protect herself with.  “Why are they so big?”

“Because they can be!” Oanez finally got her arms around Bernadette, who she hefted off the floor. “Open the door, I’m gonna make a run for the lab.”

“They’re not supposed to be,” she said, as she watched her friend grab it. “What if it eats you? What do I do?” she asked, as she tiptoed toward the door, unhelpfully slow, watching the other spider.

If Oanez could shrug, she would have, but the massive spider nearly enveloped her as she hurried to the door. “Now!”

Thankfully Heather realized what Oval wanted and she slammed her hand back against the door’s control panel and it shot open.  She hit the panel when Oval ran through to close herself and the remaining spider in the room.

“Come here Harold,” she called, not quite remembering the name correctly.  “I can’t believe I’m saying this,” she said, under her breath.  “Harold…” she said, her voice breaking.

She rushed diagonally across the corridor, constantly shifting her balance to keep the spider from tipping her over. The doors to the lab hushed open and the empty habitats were ready to receive their missing residents.

“Here you go, Bernie,” Oanez cooed, gently setting the tarantula inside its cage. “That’s enough adventure for you today.”

About five minutes after Oanez made it into the lab with the first spider the doors hushed open again and a blur of red hair and a giant spider came into the room.
“Take him! Take him! Take him!” Heather said, literally crying as she ran inside with the spider.  She threw the spider out in front of her as she came to a halt and slammed her hand against the panel repeatedly to close the door.  She was shaking, her hands trembling in front of her now, as if she were blocking the spider’s return toward her.

Oanez, surprised to see Heather handling Henri, hurried over and scooped the spider away from her friend. “You touched a giant radioactive spider for me!” she gushed, beaming. “I love you, too.”

Heather was still stunned from the experience luckily the girls had plenty of alcohol stashed away to make it better.