As he read through the last page of the investigation file, Captain Zachary Fox leaned back in his seat, stretched his tense shoulder muscles, grabbed his coffee mug, and enjoyed a deep sip of his afternoon coff– "Ugh!" The coffee had gotten cold again, acquiring the distinctive taste of fresh-brewed dishwater. With a disgusted expression on his face he emptied the mug with a bold movement into the wastebasket next to his desk.
"Ahem, Zachary..." Niko had seen his action but hadn't been fast enough to stop him. "You'd better get a rag." "Eh?" The captain looked up. "We got new wastebaskets while you were at lunch." "And?" He knew he was less polite than usual, but it had been the third of today that had gotten cold while he worked, and he yearned for a hot, steaming mug with fine, slightly bitter scents of fresh-brewed coffee reaching his nose... His right boot grew wet. He looked down. "What–?!" "The new ones aren't waterproof, Zach. That's what I wanted to tell you." Now he saw the battery of mugs on his team members' desks: their own mugs, unfamiliar mugs, a couple of mugs "borrowed" from the cafeteria, paper cups... "This can't go on." He nodded towards her desk. "You need a place for your work, too." It'll be pretty nasty to carry each cold mug over to the restroom just to get rid of the dishwater. "Goose is already working on a solution." Doc smiled. There were no mugs on his desk, but the rubber plant his mother had sent him for his birthday this year looked rather... brown. Fox frowned and went over to the small restroom next to their office to get some paper towels. He knew the ST as a man with pretty strange ideas about solutions. The door slid open and Gooseman strolled in with a big, bright red bucket in hand. "This should do it, girl." He dropped the big metal bucket in plain sight of the whole office between Niko's and his own desk. She snickered, regarding the bucket large enough to be used as a stool when turned upside down. "Where did you get that monster from, Shane?" "Fire department," he grinned. "They're always glad when I don't volunteer for their jobs." "Why?" Niko was already emptying the mugs on her desk into the bucket. "They get nervous around anyone who doesn't wear breathing apparatus and fire-proof clothing in a fire." The cold slop in the five mugs on Goose's desk joined the liquid sploshing in the big bucket. "But honestly, Captain. How does the person who invented melting wastebaskets think we use the things?" Zach sighed, swabbing the floor next to his desk and shoving the melted paper mache into a soggy heap. Sh– He didn't have a wastebasket to throw his wastebasket into! "I'm sure the person didn't think at all, Goose," he grumbled. "At least, the person has no clue about the use of wastebaskets in field units." Niko noticed his problem with the wet remnants of his new wastebasket. "Use our bucket," she suggested. Zachary did, then went to clean his hands. The new wastebaskets next to his people's desks were all clean and untouched. Goose turned his over to lay his feet on and discovered a sign on the bottom. After reading a moment, he laughed out loud. "Hey, you've gotta hear this! This wastebasket – paper friend – is designed and manufactured to be both useful and decorative..." The ST began to snicker maniacally. After a moment, Niko continued, looking at her own basket: "...It is meant to increase the comfort..." Zach looked down at his coffee-soaked right boot. "...and appearance..." All of them now stared at the big red bucket in the middle of the room. "...of your workplace to the max while combining..." It was hopeless. Niko began to giggle helplessly. "...functionality with ecologically friendly materials," Doc finished. "Yeah!" He prodded the wilted leaves of his rubber plant. "Sure looks that way." "Okay! Let's do our own improvements!" Zachary fetched his hat from the coat rack. "Five credits a head, please." "What do you plan?" Niko asked, flipping a credit chip into the hat. "To go wastebasket shopping," Zach shrugged. "What else?" END