Summary: How Harper actually did get his dataport.
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Author's Note: It always bothered me that they never actually addressed how Harper got his port. This version may be a bit pie-in-the-sky, but I enjoyed writing it.
A Means to a Dataport
By B.L.A. the Mouse
"Harper, you've got a message! Marked urgent. If it's a girl you've got about twenty minutes." Beka cut the ship's PA and went back to her prelaunch checks, only to be interrupted seconds later.
"Beka, for the love of God do not take off!" There was a crash of deck plating from the engine room before the shout's echoes died and Harper appeared almost immediately on the bridge, clutching a flexi. "Seriously, we can't go."
"What do you mean, 'we can't go'? We've got crates of new and improved bug food—"
"This!" He thrust the flexi at her, probably the message he'd just gotten. She got as far as Your excellent preliminary results— before the click of claws on metal alerted them to Rev's presence and the flexi was jerked away.
"Master Harper, what—"
"Okay." Beka swung up out of the cockpit and grabbed Harper by the shoulders. Rev snagged the flexi between two talons as she turned her hyperactive engineer to face her. "What is this about? You've got," she checked, "eighteen minutes before our launch window, so talk fast."
"I can get a dataport!" He was flushed, his eyes sparkling as the words spilled out of his mouth faster than ever. "New, shiny, way faster and more integrated than that clunker model Bobby had—"
She sighed. "We've gone over this. We can't afford to get you a dataport, I don't care how new and shiny it is." She wished they could, but the choice between a dataport and not starving was a no-brainer. They'd barely been able to get him the tech manuals and math and science texts to help him with his job. "We are not losing a paying job for a pipedream."
"Actually, Beka," Rev put in, waving the flexi, "I believe it isn't."
"That's what I've been trying to tell you! They need subjects for the next generation of dataport, Human subjects, and that chinhead in the institute director's waiting area, Mazan, we were talking while you were dealing with the stuff for the shipment? He's on the project, said my background with science and tech was exactly what they want because I can evaluate everything better after the procedure, and he got me into the basic trials, which I passed! So—"
"So you can get one, what, half off? We still can't afford it."
"Free, Beka. Completely free. Including any maintenance that I can't do and upgrades, maybe even the chance to work wirelessly with it. I could be here on the bridge and working on something in the engine room. I, uh, just need to stay here for two more weeks, because there's a quarantine period and more tests and the recovery."
"Two more— These crates are due halfway across the galaxy in two days! And if we miss the window in… fifteen minutes… we have to wait twelve more hours to leave!"
"Leave me behind, then." He stepped back like he was ready to run, a determined set to his chin.
"I am not leaving you here! You have nowhere to stay and I'm not letting you risk getting your brain turned into pudding without somebody with you."
"He receives housing and a food stipend for the days he's not in the institute, and they'll do a full medical workup to ensure that his brain will not suffer adverse results. And," Rev paused to make sure that he had their full attentions, "the procedure would take place in five days, so we could return before then."
Harper pointed. "See? Good deal and no pudding-brain!"
"I—" She sighed and raked a hand through her hair. "We'll lose jobs during your recovery. And what if something happens to my ship while you're gone?"
"Hey, some places pay more for a crew that's got someone with a dataport!" Harper looked even more manic now that she was on the verge of giving in. He knew her way too well. "And the Maru'll be fine. Come on, Beka, please."
She looked over at Rev. "Well?"
"I believe this may be a gift from the Divine." He passed the flexi back to Harper.
She checked the time— twelve minutes— and bit her lip while she spent a few seconds deliberating. Finally, she said, "Fine, okay, go. Make it quick, I don't have the money to try bribing the dockmaster if we're late."
"Thank you! Best boss ever!" Harper darted forward to give her a rib-crushing hug and nearly gave one to Rev as well, stopping just short and thumping a hand solidly on his shoulder before charging to the bunkroom.
Beka watched him go. "Sure this is the right thing to do?"
"If nothing else, you have just made him very happy."
She grinned at the approval in those blue eyes, then shouted down the hall, "I want you in one piece when we get back. And my ship better not fall apart without you!"