The USS Cardinal is on high alert. Technically speaking, they're not expecting an attack, this is a stop to take on supplies. But it's known that the inhabitants of this planet are only following Federation law in appearance, and are bending and breaking it wherever they can get away with. It means that the crew are all on edge, and the Security Chief had already been relieved from her post after she managed to break one of the consoles.
Which is why Avon's doing her job. Because he's less likely to break things than any of the actual Security crew, besides which, he's the Chief Comms Officer. He can multitask.
There's two -- three? -- lifeforms in one of the packages they're beaming up.
Two kids, scrawny, underfed, hearts beating rapidly, and something else, a small lifeform not in the database.
-that's not normal.
But it also doesn't feel like someone trying to infiltrate them. (He remembers, being scared, and alone and hungry, and just wanting - needing - a way out-)
Protocol says that he should flag it, should investigate it, return their stowaways to the authorities- (Still doesn't trust the authorities, even if he's technically part of them now.)
He fudges the reading. Clears the package, gets it sent straight to the cargo bay. (Somewhere they can escape easily from.) Sets the sensors and cameras in the cargo bay to reset, gives their stowaways a good ten minutes to make good their hiding.
When the light peeking in from outside shifts and the box isn't immediately opened, Lee -- takes a breath, and squeezes Erie's hand again. Go?
He's listening intently, eyes closed, focusing on the one sense he can rely on. After a moment, he nods.
Autumn's pressed tight around Lee's shoulders, balanced carefully.
Lee presses on the side of the box, sliding it open, and glances around the outside.
They're in a dim cargo bay, there's no-one else around, and the cameras appear non-functional. There appears to be engineering access set into one of the walls.
Autumn skitters from Lee's shoulders to Erie's, better for them all moving.
-- Lee's pretty sure that's not how the cameras are supposed to look.
But that's a question for later.
The engineering access is probably their best bet.
Lee releases Erie's hand, reluctantly, to crawl out of the box.
He follows close after her, one hand briefly reaching up to touch one of Autumn's paws.
Autumn gives a tiny, quiet chitter, reassurance that there's no-one near.
Lee breathes a little easier when they're in the engineering access, but keeps moving, occasionally glancing over her shoulder to make sure Erie and Autumn are close behind her, looking for a good hiding spot.
Right behind her, occasionally reaching out to brush his fingers against whichever part of her is in easiest reach.
Eventually they'll reach a slightly wider section, that seems to have been disused for some time.
...that could be nice but it's -- too open.
They'll have to keep looking.
Eventually, they find a nook, tucked away behind ducts and wiring, barely big enough for the three of them.
"Look good?" Lee asks, quietly.
Autumn sniffs at the wiring, before chittering out an affirmative. Best we're gonna find.
Lee nods, and tucks herself into the nook, leaving room for Erie and Autumn.
Erie tucks in beside her, wrapping one arm around her shoulders so they can settle more comfortably against one another.
Autumn slips down from Erie's shoulders to curl up in their laps.
Lee leans her head on Erie's shoulder.
"Well," she says, after a moment. "We made it, I guess. What now?"
Erie shrugs. "Not sure. Stay hid?"