Star Traks: Boldly Gone... was created by Alan Decker and Anthony Butler. It's based on Star Traks, which in turn is based on Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry. Star Trek is owned by CBS, Paramount and Viacom. If you're offended by mildly disturbing language, situations, and the utter disregard of some of Star Trek's greatest premises, not to mention a huge jump 120 years into Star Trek's future, better hit the 'Back' button on your browser right now. If not, welcome aboard!

Author: Alan Decker, Anthony Butler
Copyright: 2000


“Respect Your Elders”

By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler

“So different yet so much the same,” Captain Reginald Bain thought to himself as he sat in his recliner gazing out the viewport in his quarters at the stars beyond. He took a sip of his tea and sighed. One of the small consolations of the Anomaly’s extended stay in the Andromeda Galaxy was that Bain had programmed Rosalyn’s tea recipe into the replicator. Her special blend was one of those little amenities that made life worth living while stranded so far from their home galaxy.

Yet looking out the viewports, Bain would have been hard pressed to say what made Andromeda any different than the Milky Way he knew so well. The stars had the same twinkle. Nebulae formed in the same way. Planets where still multicolored spheres floating in the vast void of space. But whether that similarity was due simply to the laws of astrophysics or some overarching design of a higher intelligence was not for Bain to say. He was just a Starfleet Officer. A man of exploration and, when the situation required (which wasn’t often enough for his tastes), combat. He’d had a very full life in his almost 70 years.

“Seventy,” Bain said softly, feeling the word roll around his mouth. In less than a week, he’d reach that milestone. And even though he knew that it was only half of his potential life span, seventy just sounded so…old. Yes he still felt fit and spry now, but how long would it be until the wear and tear of time caught up with him?

“That’s enough of that, Bainy old boy!” Bain exclaimed, forcing himself up out of the chair before he sank too deeply into this pit of moroseness. Times likes these called for quick, decisive action. “Computer, MARCH!”

Loud music began booming out of the speakers in Bain’s quarters and he strode around with military precision.

“Step, two, three, four! Step!”

Wait…what was that noise? Bain stopped and listened. Was there a problem with this recording? He was hearing some sort of off note in the background. There it was again, all high and chirpy rather than the crisp booming tones of the rest of the recording. And there it was again…and again…blasted persistent too. A light dawned in Bain’s mind. The door chime.

“Come in!” he shouted. Immediately, the doors to his quarters slid open revealing Dr. Natalia Kasyov. She appeared to be a tad on edge about something,

“Don’t you ever answer your damn door!” she screamed. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Going for a march,” Bain replied, returning to his precision stepping. “Invigorating and good for the spirit. You should try it, Doctor.”

“I’ll pass,” Kasyov said, practically tossing herself onto Bain’s sofa. Bain continued marching for a few more moments before considering that Kasyov’s presence on his couch might indicate that she actually wanted to speak to him about something.

“Computer, cease playback.” The room was suddenly much quieter. “Is there something I can help you with, Kassie?”

“We’re going to get him back, aren’t we?” Kasyov asked, her voice barely audible.

Bain smiled soothingly and sat down next to her. Between losing Cabral, then her capture by and subsequent rescue from the Associates, Kasyov had been through a lot in the last few days. Bain was actually touched that she would come to him rather than Dr. Nooney, the Anomaly’s official counselor, about her concerns. “Cabral will be safe and sound in his housing before you know it,” Bain said. “I promise.”

“I just hope this trip is worth it,” Kasyov said. “Cabral could be getting farther away by the second.”

“Do you trust the man you met on the test world?”

“I did…,” Kasyov replied hesitantly. “No. I do. If he says there’s a resistance group, there just has to be one. We’ll never be able to rescue poor Cabral without help.”

“That’s the spirit…I think.” The room fell silent for a moment as Kasyov’s thoughts lingered on the missing brain. Bain, meanwhile, just wasn’t quite sure what to say. After several moments, though, the silence started to get to him.

“So how’s Tovar holding up?”

Kasyov suddenly perked up and switched to all business with the change of subject. “As far as we can tell, he and the…bundles of joy…are doing fine. Personally, I’d rather let Dr. Nooney handle most of Tovar’s care, but Tovar doesn’t seem to like that idea at all.”

“The boy’s not especially fond of our good doctor,” Bain replied. “He finds Nooney’s methods to be a bit intrusive.”

“In any case, the pimples or gestation sacks or whatever you want to call them have grown to about the size of a small blister. I’ve counted 237 so far all over Tovar’s body. He says they itch a bit, but his main concern is not crushing the embryos. Shelly…sorry. Lieutenant Marsden is going to fit his bed with an anti-gray generator, and she’s working on something for his pants.”

“His pants?” Bain asked hesitantly.

“To make him float when he sits. We can’t have him crushing all those little ones camped out on his butt.” Kasyov couldn’t help but smile as she said this.

“Oh…right…well…good show, then. I just hope that you and Marsden will be sensitive to Tovar. He’s a very private person…always has been. This whole situation must be mortifying for him.”

“Don’t you worry, Captain. Shelly and I will be the epitome of caring and tact.”

“Strip!” Lieutenant Shelly Marsden demanded impatiently as Tovar stared at her with a mix of astonishment and fear from across his quarters. It was bad enough that the engineer had insisted on bursting into his quarters completely unannounced (and the fact that she’d somehow managed to circumvent his security precautions without alerting him was very disconcerting), but now she was making outrageous demands.

“I heard you the first time, Lieutenant,” Tovar replied as evenly as possible.

“Then why aren’t clothes falling to the floor right now?”

“I have no intention of displaying myself in front of you,” Tovar said.

Marsden started laughing in a burst so sudden that Tovar almost jumped back. “I don’t really want to see you either, but unless you don’t want to sit down or sleep until those things hatch or pop or whatever they’re going to do, I’d suggest you go along with me on this.”

“Wouldn’t a tricorder scan be just as. . .”


“Fine!” the Yynsian snapped, unzipping his uniform tunic with a jerk. A few moments later, he was naked and incredibly unhappy about it. Marsden immediately started looking Tovar over, mumbling to herself as she circled him. “Will you be making any scans at all?” Tovar asked finally.

“I’ve got plenty,” Marsden said. “But engineering is more than that. I have to have a feel for the real thing. . .or person in this case.”

“You will not be doing any feeling,” Tovar said firmly.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Marsden replied. “Okay. I’m done. You can get dressed.”

“Thank you.” Tovar quickly pulled on his undergarments and uniform. “Did you learn anything of value?”

“You’re a bit more muscular than that uniform led me to believe. I’ll need to account for that in my design. Also, a few of those guys seem to be in uncomfortable places.”

“Quite,” Tovar said.

“Don’t you worry. I’ll take extra special care of your delicate places,” Marsden replied, heading toward the door. “I’ll be in touch.”

“What should I do until then?”

“Stand,” Marsden said as if the answer was completely obvious, then left Tovar alone…well as alone as a man growing 237 baby squids can be.

Commander Prosak had spent much of the last several days considering how the Anomaly would and should proceed now that they were trapped in Andromeda. On the one hand, they were still a Starfleet vessel, and there was always the chance, albeit a slim one, that they would rescue Cabral or find another way to return to the Milky Way. That was the course that Captain Bain had set them on. After learning about a possible resistance movement against the Associates’ policies on brain confiscations, Bain, with the hearty agreement of Dr. Kasyov, had decided to locate this movement and solicit their assistance.

Prosak, however, wondered if maybe they were going about this the wrong way. Considering the incredible odds against them and the fact that other than a few kidnappings, the Associates had presented themselves as a reasonable organization, perhaps the Anomaly crew should simply find a way to integrate themselves into the society of the Andromeda Galaxy. While she would miss her father terribly, she found starting a new life here far preferable to being blasted into space dust by a fleet of angry Associate vessels.

But for the time being, she sat in the command chair on the Anomaly’s bridge monitoring the ship’s progress toward the star system rumored to contain the headquarters of the resistance. She may have had some minor qualms about Bain’s course of action, but they were not enough for her to go so far as to suggest alternatives.

Meanwhile, at the helm console, Ensign Hector Arroyo felt better than he had in months. Somehow being trapped in Andromeda had had an exceptionally liberating effect on the young officer. His family was gone. His fiance was gone. His entire life outside of this ship had pretty much just evaporated. Some days it was just good to be alive…

…at least it was until the proximity alarms suddenly started blaring.

Captain Bain was already on his way to the bridge for his shift, when the ship lurched violently to port, then dropped into a steep dive, sending Bain bouncing around the turbolift like an ice cube in a martini shaker.

He stumbled out onto the bridge dizzy and disoriented, but he was able to focus enough to see Arroyo frantically moving his hands across the helm console as Prosak stood behind the helm officer, gripping onto his chair for dear life. She whipped her head around upon hearing the turbolift doors open.

“Oh thank the Great Bird!” she shouted, then immediately caught herself, forcing a calm veneer across her face. “I stand ready to be relieved.”

“What the devil is going on?” Bain demanded just as the doors of the other turbolift opened and Tovar raced out onto the bridge.

“We’re not sure,” Prosak said. “A ship dropped out of warp almost directly in front of us, scanned us and immediately tried to lock on a tractor beam. We’ve been evading ever since.”

“What do they want?” Bain asked.

Prosak and Arroyo exchanged a sheepish glance. “Um…we didn’t ask,” Prosak said.

“Tovar!” Bain called, turning back to his tac-ops officer.

“We have been hailed repeatedly,” Tovar reported. “However we seem to have neglected to reply for some reason.”

“We were busy!” Prosak snapped. “You try running a starship bridge with only two people.”

“Arbutus II,” Bain said, seemingly at random.

“Excuse me?” Prosak said.

“Arbutus II. Tovar and I ran the entire bridge by ourselves while we worked to rescue the crew from the Cult of Festering Fruit.”

“Festering Fruit?” Arroyo asked.

“Nasty offshoot of Maaloxitarianism,” Bain replied.

“Relevance,” Tovar said flatly.

“Quite right,” Bain said. “What about these new chaps?”

“Ship is of unknown configuration,” Tovar said, bringing a view of a massive vessel up on the viewscreen. It almost didn’t look finished. Instead, several oval chambers were connected to each other by lengths of gleaming silver conduits, forming the general shape of a wedge. “Not that this should be especially surprising considering where we are.”

“But what do they want?” Prosak asked.

“They are demanding to know how we got this ship and…why we’re up past our bedtime.”

“Bedtime? “It’s not even ship’s night,” Bain said. “Ring them up, Tovar.”

“They are responding,” Tovar replied as the image on the viewscreen shifted to show the interior of a beautiful bridge. Elegant consoles curved gracefully along the walls, which had been adorned with ornate golden and silver designs. The chairs, each of which was upholstered in a red velvety cloth, looked more like thrones than seats. And perfectly positioned lights illuminated the chamber in a soothing candle-like glow.

But despite the beauty of the room Bain and his crew could not take their eyes off the alien vessel’s crew. The occupants were humanoid, but their skin, if it could even be called that, seemed to be little more than a diaphanous gauze covering flowing rivers of light that swirled in an out of one another in a dance reminiscent of a warp core. They were all thin and lanky, with long limbs and delicate fingers. Meanwhile their heads were little more than extended ovals of the same gauze-like skin. No hair or features were visible, but they glowed with an intense pale pink light that was almost hard to look at directly.

Bain stopped gaping at the newcomers long enough to gather his thoughts. “This is Captain Reginald Bain of the USS Anomaly. Our ship represents the United Federation of Planets, a government located in the Milky Way galaxy. We come in peace and want nothing more than to pass through this region of space.

“They are simply precious,” a soft, androgynous voice said almost melodically. Considering that the aliens seemed to be missing mouths, locating the speaker was rather difficult. “Such imaginations.”

“We musn’t encourage them, Cyndril,” another voice said. “They could get hurt out here like this.”

“I beg your pardon,” Bain said. “But we are all quite capable of taking care of ourselves.”

“Of course you believe,” a voice replied condescendingly. “How old are you, young man?”

“Young man? I’m…” Bain stopped himself for a second. Did he really want to say the word? No. He’d round down. “I’m in my sixties!”

“Then you should know better than to take these little ones out without adult supervision. You may be almost there in age, Reginald, but you have a lot to learn about adult responsibility.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Bain replied. “However, our culture does not believe on enforcing its views on others. If you will excuse us, we’ll be on our way.”

The Anomaly jolted slightly as a tractor beam latched onto it. “We would be negligent of the welfare of these children if we allowed you to do that, Reginald. You are all now wards of the Nabusari and you will remain so until you have matured into adulthood and can handle the responsibility of space travel.”

“But we are adults!” Bain thundered. “We are! We are! We are!”

“As evidenced by your temper tantrum.”

“Tovar! “

“All weapons systems have been deactivated,” Tovar reported, frustration evident in his voice.

The captain turned back to the helm. “Arroyo, break us free. I don’t care how you…”

Bain’s words were cut short as he and the entire Anomaly crew abruptly dematerialized.

Captain Bain reappeared just as abruptly and found himself seated in an elaborately carved wooden chair in a simple, yet comfortable office. His chair was placed in front of a vast black desk behind which was seated one of the diaphanous aliens. Off to Bain’s right, a picture window dominated the entire wall, looking out onto rolling hills dotted with clusters of tall, green trees. Obviously, he was now on a planet.

“Good morning, Reginald,” the alien said.

“Hello,” Bain replied still a bit disoriented.

“It’s nice to see you’ve left that unpleasant attitude in space. Now maybe we can have a civilized conversation.”

“Where is my crew?”

“The other children are being taken care of.”

“They aren’t children,” Bain said.

“You may not see them as such, but then you are also young.”

“And how old are you?” Bain demanded. Hmm…his wrist was lighter than normal. Damn alien blighters took his phaser!

“By your species’ accounting, I am 175, which means I am still young enough to remember the rashness of childhood, Reginald.”

Bain tensed upon hearing his entire first name again. Why couldn’t this person just call him Reggie like everyone else did? Actually, the whole situation was almost to drive him around the bend. His ship and crew were both missing, and now this glowing brighter was talking to him like he was barely out of nappies. It was enough to make Bain want to engage in a bit of fisticuffs, but, other than making himself feel better, he couldn’t see what good it would do. He took a deep calming breath and tried to talk sense to the Nabusari.

“What you aren’t understanding here is that my people don’t live that long. We’re considered adults at eighteen.”

“Eighteen!” the Nabusari exclaimed with a laugh.

“Yes. I am almost 70! I am OLD!”

“Almost 70, you say. Well that is somewhat different. At 70 you will be the equivalent of an adult in Nabusari society. At that time, if you can pass the test to get your pilot’s license, we’ll release the starship you arrived in to you. Until then, you will be in my care. I’ll see if I can’t teach you some responsibility.”

“What about my crew?” Bain repeated.

“As I said, they are being cared for. I’m sure they’re having a wonderful time.”

Marsden strained against the device encasing her. “Can’t…move…legs…trapped.”

“Oh stop flailing and enjoy it,” Dr. Fred Nooney replied, kicking happily in his own mini-prison. Marsden, Nooney, and eight other Anomaly crewmembers had found themselves instantly transported from their posts on the ship to this brightly painted room with large windows looking out onto a gorgeous pastoral landscape. They, however, could not go outside to enjoy since they each had been placed in the center of what almost appeared to be a table, which surrounded them. They sat in sling-like sections of cloth while their legs dangled below. The only consolation was that the table surrounding their torso was littered with gadgets and doo-dads to play with. Unfortunately, none of those doo-dads happened to be their phasers, which had been confiscated. In the front of the room, a large screen holovid projector was playing a sing-along program hosted by one of the Nabusari.

“Does this remind anyone of anything?” Ensign Ondu Akashi asked.

“Should it?” Marsden replied.

“La la la la,” Nooney sang obliviously as he spun the plastic wheel attached to his table.

“The bright colors, the toys, the holoshow?” O’Malley said.

“By Kahless, we’re in daycare!” Lieutenant Gworos, a typically gruff Klingon member of the ship’s security team bellowed. “I am SO being dishonored right now!” He immediately began smashing his fists into the table in a futile attempt to free himself.

“Get a hold of yourself, Gworos. I don’t think you’re going to get into Sto’vo’kor for your valiant battle against an exersaucer.”

“Exersaucer,” Nooney repeated dreamily. Marsden could tell that the creaky gears of the CMO’s brain were starting to spin. If they ever got out of here, he’d probably try to make them standard issue on the Anomaly. Although she had to admit that Hector Arroyo would look pretty cute dangling in a helm console exersaucer.

Gworos growled threateningly at the doctor, bringing Marsden back to the situation at hand. “They can’t leave us in these forever.”

“You haven’t been flossing like I told you to, Gworos,” Nooney said.

“Look, Doc, a birdie,” Marsden said quickly, pointing at the window. Nooney swivelled in his exersaucer seat as Marsden had hoped he would, leaving the somewhat sane members of the crew to work on their escape plan.

“We will need weapons,” Gworos said.

“We need a hell of a lot more than that,” Akashi said. Marsden decided she’d better step in before Akashi started making her list. Akashi was technically attached to ship’s services, but her specialty was acquisitions. She had a knack for getting her hands on items no one else could find. In years past, she might have been compared to a Ferengi, a comparison that undoubtedly would rankle Yonk. Speaking of Yonk, he’d been surprisingly quiet considering he was now dangling in a tiny exersaucer all his own. Another glance in his direction told Marsden why. Evidently, the Nabusari had plugged a pacifier into his mouth that he could not remove. Just as well, though. They last thing she needed right now was to listen to Yonk gripe about discrimination against people his height.

“What we need is to get out of these things,” Marsden said, cutting Akashi off. “After that, we need to find the ship. Without the Anomaly, escaping isn’t going to matter much. For now, we play along, but at the first opportunity, we strike. Is everyone clear?”

She noticed Nooney raising his hand.

“What is it, Doctor?”

“I made a poopy in my diaper.”

“What diaper? We aren’t. . .” Marsden suddenly realized why her lower regions seemed a bit more cushioned than usual. “OH DEAR GOD!!!”

Meanwhile in another room almost identical to the one Marsden and company had found themselves in, Commander Prosak dangled helpless in an exersaucer of her own. Actually helplessly implies that she was upset about the situation. In fact she was surprisingly relaxed. There was just something liberating about having all choice taken away from her. Prosak idly wondered if such feelings were logical.

The incessant clacking and pounding from the saucer next to her prevented her from really achieving the level of meditation she desired to ponder the issue, though.

“Is that really necessary?” Prosak asked the seemingly empty saucer next to her.

Lieutenant Polnuc poked his head up through the hole in the center of his play table. “You got any better ideas?” the Moglodin engineer demanded.

“You could simply relax and accept the situation.”

“Why the hell would I want to do that?” Polnuc asked. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life playing patty-cake and hide-and-seek.”

“There are those who would find this situation ideal. We have been freed from the strife and responsibilities of adult existence and given the rare chance to return to a simpler time when all of our needs were seen to.”

“We don’t cook. We don’t clean. We aren’t hungry. We don’t want for anything at all. Just what strife are you talking about?” Polnuc said.

“He’s got a point, Prosak,” Dr. Kasyov said from another nearby saucer. “And I have no intention of remaining a prisoner here. We have to get out of here, get the Anomaly back, find the resistance, rescue Cabral, and get back to the Milky Way.”

“Have you listened to yourself? That entire course of action is SO not logical. You’re talking about a one in a billion chance of success. We need to find new lives here, and I for one am content with the one that’s been offered to me here.”

“She’s lost her mind,” Polnuc muttered, returning to his work of trying to free himself from the exersaucer.

Kasyov, however, continued pressing the Romulan. “Are you serious about this, Prosak? We’re being treated like babies.”

“For now. However, babies do grow into adults. By the time the Nabusari consider us mature, we will have had time to learn about and adapt to their culture.”

“Or we’ll be dead. You have no idea how old these people are.”

“Romulans have an exceptionally long lifespan.”

“Well humans don’t!” Kasyov shouted. “I don’t want to spend my golden years in elementary school! I am NOT going to recess with a walker and an oxygen tank!”

“I had not realized you had such a flair for drama, Doctor,” Prosak replied. “You will have to join my theater company.”

“You don’t have a theater company.”

“Not yet, but I plan on starting one as soon as I grow up.”

“Don’t make me kill you.”

“Try it, and I’ll tell!”



Deep inside his exersaucer, Polnuc groaned.

“Four more days,” Captain Bain thought to himself as he sat on the edge of the bed in the room he’d been given by Clophil, the Nabusari who’d taken him in. Evidently, this room had once belonged to one of Clophil’s children and had remained fairly undisturbed since that child gained maturity. Posters for bands and holovids Bain had never heard of lined the walls. . Three of them at least. The fourth wall was dominated by some kind of massive entertainment system consisting of a holoprojector, audio playback device, and some other components Bain was unfamiliar with. And judging by the nasty looking probe-like tendrils hanging off of said components, Bain didn’t really want them to become familiar with him either.

But other than the tendril device, the room reminded him quite a bit of his own children’s rooms. Audrey had insisted on leaving those posters of that disgusting Pakled metal band up on her wall for years. But now that she was gone, Bain and Rosalyn hadn’t had the heart to take them down.

“Just four more,” Bain’s mind repeated. And then he would be 70, he’d breeze through this silly flying test, then rescue his crew, get the hell away from here, find the resistance against the Associates, rescue Cabral, and escape back to the Milky Way and his beloved Rosalyn. Actually, it all seemed absurdly simple…assuming he could tolerate being treated like a teenager for four more days.

Suddenly, the door of his room slid open, revealing Clophil. In the few hours he’d been around the Nabusari, Bain had picked up on the subtle signs that individuated the species and indicated their moods. This was definitely Clophil, and he was definitely agitated about something. Then the Nabusari floated a long glass cylinder into the room. The glass was fogged, preventing Bain from seeing the contents.

“Did you do this?” Clophil demanded angrily, pressing a control on the end of the cylinder that caused the glass to immediately clear up. Tovar was floating inside unconscious, his skin covered by small red blisters each about a half-inch in diameter.

“Certainly not!” Bain replied indignantly.

Clophil reached over, grabbing Bain by the ear and yanking him closer to the cylinder. “Don’t lie to me. This little one is far too young to know how to get pregnant.”

Bain pulled away, but resisted the urge to snap the Nabusari’s arm in three places. “He had a run-in at the border with some sort of squid woman. She did this, and before you so rudely snatched us out of space, WE were taking care of him.”

“And doing SO well obviously,” Clophil said condescendingly. “It’s just a lucky thing you ran into us, Mister. We have an excellent adoption program on our world, so these 237 little darlings will have good homes when they burst out. Then we can see about getting Tovar here some counseling.”

“Then you’ll give him counseling? What happens to him until then?”

“He’ll stay asleep? What else? We’re a mature and enlightened culture here, Reginald. We do not allow our expectant mothers…or fathers in this case…to go running around potentially harming their bundles of joy.”

“What about what Tovar wants?”

“He’d want what’s best for his children. I’m just relieved to hear they’re not yours. I knew you were an upstanding youth at heart.” Clophil tousled Bain’s salt and pepper hair lovingly. “You’re a good boy. Come on. We’ll go out for dinner. Someplace special.”

“That would be nice,” Bain said, falling back to his agreeable facade. Now was not the time to antagonize Clophil. He needed to bide his time until he found out where his people were. “What about Tovar?”

“He’ll be well taken care of,” Clophil said. His fingers suddenly intensified their glow. Moments later, two other Nebusari entered and pushed Tovar’s capsule out of the room. “Now how about that dinner?”

“Capital, Clophil”

“Could you call me ‘Dad’?”

Bain grimaced inwardly. “Sure…” He almost choked on the next word. “Dad.”

Lieutenant Shelly Marsden wasn’t sure how much time had passed since their arrival in this demented daycare center, but dusk was setting in outside. She imagined it had been hours, but still she hadn’t made any progress in extricating herself from the exersaucer. She couldn’t even tell how she was being held inside of it. No forcefields crackled around her, no straps bound her, yet she just couldn’t pull herself out. The engineer inside her refused to be deterred, though. She would free herself and the others. It was only a matter of time…

…of course, some tools would have been nice.

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Yonk waving his arms wildly toward the door. It took Marsden a few moments to realize what he meant. “Someone’s coming!” Marsden exclaimed. Yonk nodded his head vigorously.

“Everyone pipe down. Let me handle this,” Marsden said.

“For now,” Gworos replied. “But if I am freed from this infernal contraption, I will rip off our captor’s head with my bare hands and feast on their brain.”

“That sort of dietary selection is not going to help your poor teeth any,” Dr. Nooney said.

“Silence or your liver will be my dessert!”

“Shut up, both of you!” Marsden shouted just a half-second before the door to their room slid open, allowing one of the lanky Nabusari to enter the room.

“Oh how are my little darlings this evening?” the Nabusari said warmly. “I bet you all want something in your tum-tums!”

Hmm…now that Marsden thought about it, she was hungry. The escape could wait until after dinner.

“Miss Sujill has some nummy num-nums for your tummy tum-tums,” the Nabusari continued, tickling Gworos under his bearded chin. Marsden was honestly impressed that the Klingon didn’t attempt to bite her finger off. She’d have to remember to put him in for a commendation when and if they got back to the Federation.

Sujill’s fingers glowed brightly, and almost immediately steaming bowls of some sort of goopy white substance appeared on the exersaucer tables in front of the Anomaly crew. A moment later, liquid-filled bottles, complete with nipples, appeared beside the bowls.

“Can my big little boys and girls feed themselves? Can they? Can they?”

“Yes, we can,” Marsden said finally, prompting Sujill to jump back in surprise.

“Aren’t you smart? Talking so soon.”

“Ma’am, we are adults,” Marsden continued. “And while we appreciate your hospitality, we’d really like to get back to our ship.”

Sujill just started laughing. “My my, you are rambunctious. Hush now and eat for Miss Sujill. Once everyone has finished every bite, we’ll get you out of those things and have nap time.”

“Klingons do not nap!” Gworos said.

“MMMMmmm-hmmpm!” Yonk added from behind the pacifier that was still stuck in his mouth.

“Ooh! My little big ears can’t eat with that in his mouth now can he?” Sujill said as she moved over to Yonk and effortlessly dislodged the pacifier. Yonk was about to launch into a rather long rant about his recent treatment but was summarily shushed by Marsden.

Marsden stretched and faked a big yawn. “A nap sounds nice, Miss Sujill,” Marsden said, trying to sound as sickeningly sweet as possible. We’ll all eat up like good little boys and girls.” The last statement was aimed at the Anomaly crewmembers present, who promptly started shoveling the white goo into their mouths.

“What good little children!” Sujill exclaimed. “I’ll get nap land ready.” The Nabusari moved over to the far side of the room and touched her finger to a panel on the wall. Instantly, several sleeping mats appeared on the floor.

Meanwhile, Marsden had finished her goo, which was thankfully tasteless, and moved on to the bottle. “Eat quickly,” she hissed at the others.

“That’s bad for the digestion!” Nooney shot back.

Marsden heard a slight popping noise and turned to see Yonk bobbling his bottle. “I’m sorry!” he said. “This nipple is just too small. I keep sucking and sucking and hardly anything’s coming out. If I keep this up, I’m going to suck until my ears shrink.”

Gworos grabbed his bottle’s nipple between his teeth and pulled, tearing the nipple into shreds. “You must improvise,” he said, then chugged the bottle, draining the contents instantly. The others muddled through in their own ways, but within a very short time, Sujill found that her charges had all finished their meals and were yawning uncontrollably.

“Time for kiddie nap-naps,” she said, pressing her fingers together. The exersaucers split open, allowing the Anomaly crewmembers to experience freedom for the first time in hours. Eyes drooping with fatigue, they trudged past Sujill toward the sleep mats. What Sujill didn’t notice was that her charges were walking by her on both sides…and moving very slowly.

“NOW!” Marsden shouted suddenly.

In an instant, Sujill was buried under a pile of Starfleet officers. “Release me!”

“What should we do now?” Yonk asked.

“Pummel her into unconsciousness,” Gworos replied. “It is the only way.”

“Hold on a second,” Marsden snapped. “Is there a Vulcan in the house?”


“Doesn’t anybody know how to do that neck pinch thing?”

“Oooh oooh! I do!” Nooney said.

“Really?” Marsden said, unconvinced.

“It’s very useful for relaxing patients,” Nooney said, squeezing his way through the pile holding down Sujill. “But I could never use it as a weapon.”

“Just do it!” Marsden said. “You can examine her while she’s out, if that will make you feel better about this.”


“NOOOOOOOO!” Sujill cried, then was silenced as Nooney’s fingers clamped down on her neck.

“Everybody up!” Marsden said, pushing her way to her feet. “All right. Yonk, Gworos, you’re with me. Akashi, ransack this room and see if you can find anything useful…like our original underwear. This diaper is killing me. Nooney, you see to Sujill. DO NOT let her regain consciousness. The rest of you hold down the fort until we get back.”

Marsden, Yonk, and Gworos cautiously exited the room, leaving the others to their own devices.

“So,” Akashi said, looking at the holovision. “You think they’ve got a remote for that thing?”

“These people are menaces,” Polnuc muttered from inside the exersaucer as he fiddled with the locking mechanism. At least he assumed it was the lock. It was the only thing remotely mechanical he’d been able to find. “No food. No water. They just stuck us in these things and left us here to rot with only that drivel for entertainment.”

That drivel, which was actually a holovision children’s show featuring a giant singing lizard of some sort, seemed to be on an infinite loop. The same 30 minute show had repeated over and over again, slowly driving the Anomaly crew trapped in the room toward the brink of insanity.

“I HAVE BEEN DIAPERED!” Lieutenant Bre’zan Brazzell, the neat-freak Mezzakkan, wailed for what must have been the thousandth time. Unfortunately, the poor man had been stripped of his disinfectant sprays, and the horror of possibly sitting in his own waste products had frightened him beyond all reason. Personally, Polnuc didn’t care if Brazzell did go nuts as long as he was quiet about it.

“It is only logical to assume that a species as advanced and long-lived as this one does understand proper child care,” Prosak said calmly. “Our needs have been and will continue to be met.”

“Well I need a hamburger,” Kasyov grumbled. “I’m starving.”

“Ditto that for me,” Polnuc said, popping his head back out of the exersaucer. The Mogoldin looked carefully around the room, searching for the one thing that could help him escape his playtime prison. “Gotcha!” he exclaimed suddenly. Polnuc began throwing himself against the sides of the saucer, causing it to rock violently.

“That will not work,” Prosak said. “The base is too wide.”

“But he’s moving,” Kasyov countered. “Rock over here. I may be able to help you.”

Polnuc immediately altered his rocking in order to maneuver toward Kasyov.

“Closer…closer…okay. Now really rock back,” Kasyov said. Polnuc followed her instruction to the letter, slamming himself against the rear of his exersaucer. As he did so, Kasyov was able to grab the front end as it jerked up into the air and yank it upwards even more, sending the entire exersaucer toppling on its side.

“Now this I can work with,” Polnuc said, using his hands against the ground to roll across the room toward the table of art supplies in the corner. Once there, the toppled the saucer upright again and grabbed an entire box of children’s scissors and a few paintbrushes for good measure. “Back in a minute,” Polnuc announced, ducking down into the saucer with his treasures.

“He will fail,” Prosak said. “It is not logical to believe that advanced alien technology can be overcome by scissors designed for those not allowed to handle sharp objects.”


Kasyov smiled as Polnuc’s exersaucer swung open. “You were saying?”

“You two are just going to get us in trouble,” Prosak pouted.

“I think the idea is to get us out of trouble,” Kasyov said. “Speaking of, get me out of this thing!”

“I’m on it,” Polnuc said, rushing over, his hand almost incased in a metallic contraption made from various scissor and paintbrush components. Moments later, Kasyov was free, and Polnuc was working on Prosak’s saucer, which obediently clicked open.

“Thank you,” Prosak said, exiting past Polnuc. Then in a sudden blur of motion, she yanked the lockpick off of the tiny engineer’s hand and shoved him into her saucer, slamming it shut.

“Prosak! Have you gone nuts?” Kasyov demanded.

“On the contrary,” the young Romulan replied, wielding the lockpick menacingly. “I am thinking quite logically.”

Captain Bain let out a low whistle as he and Clophil exited the hovertram at the entrance to a vast facility consisting of restaurants, shops, rides, and games of all sorts. The tram, which was the main method of transit through the Nabusari city, silently sped off toward its next destination as Clophil led Bain through the entrance gates into the main mall area of the facility.

“What is this place?” Bain asked. All around, various Nabusari strolled happily through the flower-lined walkways, sat at one of the many outside tables, or browsed at one of the vendor kiosks while other Nabusari moved in and out of the large building bordering the outdoor area.

“It has many names,” Clophil explained. “Officially, it is a designated Maturity Training Zone. Most people just call it ‘The Mall.’ It is where our youth who are on the brink of adulthood go to spend time, socialize, and exist free from constant adult supervision. I hope you won’t be too embarrassed coming here with your dad.”

“Um…no. Not at all,” Bain said, still very uncomfortable with this whole “dad” thing Clophil insisted on.

“You may get some strange looks,” Clophil continued as the pair walked to a food stand. “We don’t get many aliens here.”

“Since you brought it up, how is it that you manage to be here free of the Associates? Our impression has been that they control most of this region of space.”

“Let’s just call it a mutually-beneficial understanding.”

Bain wasn’t exactly sure if he liked the sound of that, but he let the subject drop as Clophil paid for dinner. After sitting down at a table with a nice view of a multi-level fountain outside, Bain examined the meal he’d been given. It looked remarkably like French fries covered in chili and cheese. He tentatively took a bite. They were chili cheese fries! And they were WONDERFUL! Rosalyn would have a fit if she knew Bain was eating such things.

“I’m pleased to see that you enjoy Nabusari cusine,” Clophil said, amused at the rate Bain was now consuming fries.

“First rate,” Bain managed to mumble between bites.

“I’ve missed this. It’s been so long since I just spent a day with my children. That’s one of my big regrets. I was so busy at the Ministry that I never took the time to just be a dad.”


“Excuse me?”

“I know what you mean,” Bain said after swallowing his fries. “Starfleet’s been my life for the last fifty years. I married Rosalyn, and we had the little ones, but I was always off with one ship or another while Rosie held down the fort. Damn fine woman. I don’t deserve her.”

“Where are your children now?”

“Damned if I know. Sophie was on Alpha Centauri last I knew. And Audrey…well, there’s not much to say there. Then, there’s Tovar, of course.”

“He is your son?” Clophil asked surprised. “Adopted, I assume.”

“Yes. His parents disappeared, so my wife and I took him in as one of our own.”

“At times I have a hard time accepting that you’re so young,” Clophil said understandingly.

“Age is relative,” Bain replied, taking a sip of the carbonated beverage Clophil had bought him. “Mine seems to fluctuate by the day. Sometimes by the hour. I woke up yesterday feeling like an old man.”

“Well now’s your chance to be a child again, if only for a couple of days.”

Bain looked around at the scene before him. The roller coasters in the distance almost seemed to be calling his name.

“Are my people being this well taken care of?” Bain asked. Despite it all, he had a duty to see to the well being of his crew.

“Definitely. My guess is they’re having the time of their lives.”

“Capital.” Bain moved to leave the table, then hesitated.

“Go,” Clophil said. “Have fun. I’ll be home when you get back.”

Bain smiled and was off like a shot, off to have the time of his life (recent life anyway) and confident in the fact that his crew was equally happy.

“This so sucks!” Marsden muttered as she, Yonk, and Gworos crouched uncomfortably in an alcove waiting for the two Nabusari in the corridor to finish what seemed to be the longest conversation in the known universe.

“We could just show ourselves. At the worst, they’d just take us back to the others,” Yonk suggested.

“Where they’d find their friend that we tied up and then lock us back in those damn exersaucers.”

“I will decapitate them with my bare hands before I allow that to occur,” Gworos announced.

“You just hang on to that thought,” Marsden said. Finally, the two Nabusari said their goodbyes and went their separate ways down the corridors of the child care facility the Anomaly crew had found themselves imprisoned in.

With Nabusari roaming the halls, Marsden and the others had been unable to move freely or locate the rest of the crew. They had, however, found an unguarded exit down a seldom-used hallway. If at the very least they could get their room of Anomaly officers to freedom, they could regroup and find a way to locate and rescue the others.

“Come on,” Marsden said, gesturing for Yonk and Gworos to follow her as the made their way back to the room where the rest of their group waited. As the approached the door, they heard the sounds of music and laughter emanating from within.

“The idea was to keep a low profile,” Marsden grumbled. She opened the door then immediately shut it again.

“What has happened!” Gworos demanded.

“Sujill’s free. The others are…playing with her.”

“I am not going back into that exersaucer,” Yonk said, his voice on the edge of panic.

“No one is in them. They’re just running around and playing some kind of game.”

“They are free?” Gworos said. “Then it must be some sort of ruse to distract attention.”


Gworos’ ridged brow furrowed even more. “I do not know, but there must be an explanation.”

“That’s what I’m going to find out. If I’m not out in five minutes, make a break for the exit.”

“I will not ‘make a break,’” Gworos protested. “Klingon tradition states that I must engage in battle.”

“Fine. Battle the door when you open it, but get the hell out of here,” Marsden snapped. “I’m going in.”

Before Yonk or Gworos could respond, Marsden opened the door just enough to slip inside and shut it again.

“Five minutes seems like a long time,” Yonk said. “How about we start running now?”

“Only if you wish me to slice off your ears and eat them raw.”

“Comments like that are why you don’t get invited to my parties.”

Inside the room, Marsden quickly meshed in with the rest of the crowd of officers, all of whom were standing in a group singing while Sujill played some sort of piano-like instrument.

“What the hell is going on?” Marsden whispered, sliding up beside Dr. Nooney.

“It’s sing-along time.”

“I can see that, but why is Sujill free? We’ve got to get out of here.”

“Leave? Why would we do that?” Nooney asked.

“Come on, Lieutenant,” Ensign Akashi said. “They feed us, they take care of us, we play all day…why leave? This is great!”

“You’ve been brainwashed.”

“Okay, kiddies, who wants to play with clay?” Sujill asked.

“I DO!! I DO!!” the Anomaly officers, minus Marsden, all shouted, raising their hands emphatically into the air.

“You aren’t going to get away with this,” Marsden whispered to Nooney. “I’ll be back to rescue you whether you like it or not!” She made a quick retreat towards the door.

“Sujill! Sujill!” Nooney shouted suddenly. “Shelly’s trying to leave!”

“We can’t have that now,” Sujill said.

Terror almost froze Marsden in place, but she managed to propel herself to the door, throw it open, and dash out into the hall.

“RUN!” she screamed as she flew past Gworos and Yonk. Not one to waste time, Yonk immediately took off after Marsden.

“Just so you know, I am not running,” Gworos shouted, bringing up the rear. “This is an aggressive charge!”

As Prosak moved the gleaming metal lockpick menacingly toward Dr. Kasyov, Kasyov edged backwards, hoping she remembered the room layout well enough to not trip over anything.

“Come on, Prosak,” Kasyov said soothingly. “You can’t honestly expect to hurt me with that. It’s made out of safety scissors!”

“I can still give you one hell of a scratching,” Prosak said. “Now please re-enter your exersaucer before I get mean.”

“Think about this. You’re forcing us to give up on any hope of escape. Whatever happened to freedom of choice?”

“It was never a popular concept on Romulus.”

“Or Vulcan?” Kasyov demanded. Maybe thinking about that one would distract Prosak for a few moments.

“Logic dictates the life of a Vulcan. Fleeing here is illogical.”

Kasyov backed into a table, effectively ending her retreat from Prosak, who loomed ever closer. “Then why should we stay here?” Kasyov asked, stalling for time as she reached behind her hoping to grab onto something useful.

“We have already discussed this,” Prosak said. “I am sorry to do this to you, but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.”

She prepared to slash at Kasyov just as Kasyov’s hand wrapped around a soft plastic tube. She quickly pulled it around in front of her, opened the cap, and squeezed, sending a stream of blue paint into the eyes of the Romulan. As Prosak staggered backwards, Kasyov, using the table for support, kicked Prosak with both feet, then bolted for the exit as the Romulan quickly recovered and started shouting for help. Kasyov wanted to stay and free the others, but between Prosak’s screaming and the other’s cries to be released, someone was bound to have heard the ruckus.

Opening the door and racing out into the hall, Kasyov saw that she was right. Two Nabusari were running down the corridor toward her position. She immediately took off running the other way, barreling around a corner where she collided painfully with another person. They both collapsed to the deck.

“Ow,” Marsden groaned from underneath Kasyov.

“This is a great image, but we really should be going,” Yonk said as he and Gworos yanked Kasyov and Marsden up off of the floor.

“Nabusari coming,” Kasyov gasped painfully, pointing back the way she came.

“Great. That’s the way out!” Marsden said.

“Lieutenant…,” Gworos began.

“Go,” Marsden interrupted. “But don’t make a mess.”

Gworos grinned toothily and ran around the corner, shouting his battle cry. Marsden, Kasyov, and Yonk peered their heads around the corner in time to see the Klingon smash into the two frail Nabusari like a linebacker, sending them thudding to the floor.

“Now!” Marsden cried, taking off behind Gworos with Yonk and Kasyov right behind her. They sped past the still-dazed Nabusari, rounded another corner, and headed down the corridor toward the exit door that Gworos was now holding open for them.

Marsden ran faster. The world outside beckoned as the moon shone down. It was all right through that door. But Marsden knew this was the moment when everything usually went wrong. A steel door would clang shut. Nabusari would appear from nowhere. Something.

“AHHHHH!” Kasyov screamed.

“What is it?” Marsden shouted, refusing to slow down.

“I got paint on my labcoat!”

Marsden reached over and smacked Kasyov upside the head just as the entire group rushed outside to freedom.

Over the course of the next day, Reginald Bain felt the freest he’d been…since…well…ever. He’d gone straight from living under his parents’ control to living under the control of Starfleet. Sure he’d had some pretty wild leaves. What cadet didn’t? But the whole time his duty to Starfleet had been in the back of his mind. But on the Nabusari world, all such obligations were gone. His crew was safe; he’d get the Anomaly back on his birthday as soon as he passed that silly pilot’s test. What was there to be concerned about?

Instead Bain spent his time at “The Mall” enjoying the company of others “his age,” as laughable as that was. In the morning, Clophil waited for him at the breakfast table, and the two would engage in conversations about their wives (Clophil’s had died two years earlier), their children, and their lives. In a way it was leave and therapy all rolled into one.

Meanwhile, Marsden, Kasyov, Gworos, and Yonk spent their time sleeping in the forests on the outskirts of the city (For some unknown reason, the Nabusari had decided to put their daycare center in the middle of nowhere) and scrounging for whatever food they could catch all the while hoping that the Nabusari didn’t come looking for them. During the following day, they approached the city in hopes of getting some idea of where the Anomaly was. Needless to say, they didn’t learn a thing. The Nabusari seemed to have other things to discuss than some alien spaceship.

Shortly after their escape, the refugees had tried their commpips in hopes of calling for an automatic beam out, but the Anomaly didn’t respond, a fact that had sent morale plummeting to new lows. Even the blackened venison Gworos prepared for dinner that evening had done little to brighten the mood.

Finally, two days before Bain’s 70th birthday, Marsden approached a vast facility with roller coasters, eateries, and shops that reminded her a lot of a much less scary version of that amusement park on Quonos she’d visited in her childhood.

With very little cover to work with, Marsden resorted to swiping a parka from the kiosk outside the log flume ride, which allowed her to move about with more freedom than she’d had in days.

Not wanting some overly curious Nabusari to see her face, Marsden kept her head bowed as she walked through the facility, listening to bits of conversation as she went.

“…new album sucked. I liked their old stuff better.”

“…she totally should dump him…”

“…can’t believe how dead I’m going to be when they see my report card.”

“…blighters thought they had the drop on me, but I soon showed them what for!”

That last voice was unmistakable. Bain! She cautiously looked up to locate the source of the voice. Up ahead, standing on a table surrounded by a crowd of Nabusari listening with rapt attention, Captain Bain gestured wildly as he told of his single-handed defeat of seven Nausicaan Enforcers.

Marsden’s first impulse was to run up there, pull him off the damn table, and demand to know what was going on. Considering the number of Nabusari around, though, that didn’t seem like such a wise idea. Instead, she waited as Bain finished his story…

…and then he told another…

…and another.

Night fell across the city, but Bain kept on going.

Finally, one Nabusari in the crowd said something about needing to get home before his curfew, which finally led Bain to end his performance. As the Nabusari scattered toward their various destinations, Marsden moved in close to Bain, who was busy finishing off the last of a massive hamburger.

“Could I talk to you for a minute?” Marsden whispered harshly.

“Oh course, my good…” Bain looked at the nondescript parka-clad individual. “…person. What can I do for you?”

“It’s me!” Marsden spat, pulled her hood back just a little.

“MARSIE!” Bain exclaimed before Marsden yanked her hood back up and clamped her hand over Bain’s mouth.

“With all due respect, shut up! If they catch me, they’ll send me back to that damn day care.”

“Day care? What the devil?”

“While you’ve been here having fun, the rest of us have been imprisoned.”

“I was assured that you were being cared for.”

“Brainwashed is more like it. They feed us, they play games with her, they diaper us, they lock us in exersaucers.”

“Back up a moment. Did you say diaper?” Bain said in horror.

“Yes! Nooney’s having a field day, and the others aren’t holding up well at all. With that kind of continual nurturing, the crew is getting complacent. They don’t want to leave. Prosak almost killed Kasyov just to stop Kasyov’s escape.”

“Good god! How many made it out with you?”

“Three. Kasyov, Yonk, and Lieutenant Gworos. They’re in the woods waiting for me to come back. You’ve got to get us out of here, Captain.”

“Go back to the woods,” Bain said. “I have a plan.”

Marsden hesitated. “What kind of plan?”

“Something simple. If all goes well, you’ll all be safe until I take the pilot’s exam.”

“If all goes well? What the hell does that mean?”

“Just an expression, Marsie. Run along now. Keep your chin up.”

“I’m agreeing to this,” Marsden said, starting to walk away. “But only because I really don’t have any other options. If you strand us here, though, I’m coming back, and I’m killing you. Got it, Bain?”

“That’s my Marsie. Fiery to the end,” Bain said with a laugh. “My best to the others.” Bain headed off in the opposite direction, humming one of his blasted marches as Marsden slipped back into the darkness at the edge of The Mall.

“Why would you want to do that?” Clophil asked the next morning as he and Bain sat across from each other at the table enjoying breakfast.

“A good pilot should know his vehicle from stem to stern. I just want a bit of a walkabout before the big day tomorrow,” Bain replied. Meanwhile, the cereal in his bowl continued the incessant crackling, popping, and even snapping it’d been doing since he poured milk on it. Damn alien cereal. At least Earth cereal knew to let a man eat his breakfast in peace!

“Well all right,” Clophil said. “I think I can slip away from the office for a while this morning. We’ll run up to the docks and see your ship.”


“What do you say?” Clophil asked cloyingly.

“Thanks, Dad.”

“Better,” Clophil said, getting up and giving Bain a light kiss on the forehead. “Be good, buddy. I’ll call.”

“Bye, Dad,” Bain said, pasting a smile on his face until Clophil left the room, then, finally, the house.

Bain then sprang into action, jumping up from his chair and running to the small comm console located in Clophil’s study. Bain had first thought that the Nabusari were telepathic considering the way they seemed to be able to call one another without words. With further observation, he realized that technology was at the heart of their abilities. Each Nabusari had devices implanted in their fingers almost from birth that allowed them to stay in contact with each other. Starfleet had experimented with something similar years earlier, but most people just weren’t willing to have chips stuck under their skin.

Beyond the finger implants, each residence had a central computer that acted as an information/communications hub for that particular household. The hub didn’t require the finger implants to operate, which allowed Bain to actually make a couple of calls.

“I need to find Tovar,” Bain said to the console. A moment later, the image of a Nabusari wearing some kind of headset appeared on the screen.

“What city please?” the Nabusari asked boredly.

“This one.”

“What listing?”


“I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t have any Tovars in the directory.”

“Of course you don’t. He’s an alien. I think he’s at some kind of hospital. But hurry up. The poor man is preggers!”

“I’ll connect you to the Transgender Xenonatology wing at Nabusari General. Thank you for using A.T&Barsnap.”

The image shifted to show another Nabusari, this one wearing a set of pale blue scrubs over its translucent skin. “Transgender Xenonatology. May I help you?”

“Is Tovar there?”

“He’s in stasis right now. Can I take a message?”

“I need to see him!” Bain exclaimed.

“Visiting hours are from 10 to 4.”

“So I can see him?”

“Yes, sir,” the nurse replied condescendingly.

“Be there in a jif!”

“I personally don’t care how you get here, sir.”

After a quick tram ride, Bain entered Nabusari General Hospital and made his way to the directory. All in all, things were going smoothly, but he really wished he could get the tune that was playing on the tram out of his head. Damn catchy, though.

“Doo de doo doo, doo de doo doo, doo de doo doo doo de doo doo.”

Let’s see. Emergency. Radiology. Transmorphography…

“Doo de doo doo, doo de doo doo, doo de doo doo doo de doo doo.”

Kinesiology…hurtalotowowology…pub…PUB! He’d have to visit that right after seeing to Tovar.

“Doo de doo doo, doo de doo doo, doo de doo doo doo de doo doo.”

Orthoscopy…angioplasty…transgender xenonatology.

There. That wasn’t so hard.

“Doo de doo doo, doo de doo doo, doo de doo doo doo de doo doo.”

Bain took the elevator up to the eighth floor and found himself in a VERY quiet part of the hospital. The nurse he’d spoken to over the comm channel was seated alone at a nurses’ stand in front of a lone patient room. Through the window on the room door, Bain could see Tovar’s tube stationed in front of a holovision screen, which had been turned on for the Yynsian. Bain wasn’t sure if that was a nice gesture or just plain cruelty considering the fact that Tovar was in stasis at the moment.

“Can I see him?” Bain asked.

The nurse, who until that moment had been wrapped up in watching her own holovision monitor gave Bain an irritated scowl.

“Are you family?” she asked pointedly.

“I’m practically his father.”

“How practically?”

“His parents vanished, so I raised him…with help from the missus of course.”

The nurse’s frown deepened. “I am not familiar with any species called the Missus. Can you contact them to confirm your relationship.”

“Missus! My wife!”

“Ahh…so she would practically be his mother.”


“Well that’s close enough, I guess. Just don’t rile him up. His condition is rather delicate.”

Bain looked at the insensate Yynsian. “How could I possibly rile him?”

“Just don’t.”

“Right. Thank you for your help, madam.” Bain bowed his head courteously and headed into Tovar’s room, allowing the nurse to get back to her holovision watching.

She didn’t even seem to notice that Bain left almost immediately…or that his collar was now one pip short.

“You are cleared for entry,” the voice of the Nabusari docking control officer said as the doors of the vast spaceport in orbit about Nabusa (the proper name for the planet) slid open allowing Clophil’s shuttle to enter. On either side of the main ship lanes, spaceship after spaceship sat docked in mooring slips that resembled giant cubby holes. It reminded Bain a bit of a massive version of the cubby wall in his preschool classroom. He smiled. Almost seventy, but his mind was still sharp as a tack…whatever a tack was. Those old Earth expressions lost a bit over time.

“Let’s see,” Clophil said absently as he looked over the slip designations. “Your ship is in XXYH78. And we’re at…TXUG34. Hmmm…”

Bain started to involuntarily rock in his seat. He just wanted to get there, to see his ship. It’d been far too long.


“How much longer?” Bain asked.

“Not long. WXVH66…”

“How long is not long?”

“Patience, Reginald. XXYH78! There it is!”

Yes, there is was. Bain broke into a huge grin as he saw the vast saucer of the USS Anomaly stretching before him, warp nacelles gracefully extending from port and starboard. A true thing of beauty. Marsden and the other designers were artists.

Marsden! Ah, mustn’t forget why he was there today.

“Shall we?” Clophil asked.

“Absolutely,” Bain replied, as Clophil activated the shuttle’s transporters. A moment later, Bain was back on his bridge.

“You just take all the time you need,” Clophil said. “I’ll be right here.” And he said down in the command chair…BAIN’S CHAIR…leisurely and closed his eyes for a nap. As much as Bain had grown to like the man (despite the “dad” thing), this was pushing Bain to the very limit. If there weren’t a whole planet of the blighters, Bain would’ve given Clophil a good what for!

Instead, Bain sat down at the helm for a moment to pull up his personal console configurations. Arroyo was a top flight man, but he had an odd way of flying a starship…either that or he was just left handed. Bain wasn’t sure.

With the helm set to his liking, Bain casually strolled back to the tac-ops console where Tovar traditionally sat. Bain activated the sensors and found that he couldn’t see a thing outside of the docking complex. Of course, that made sense considering he’d been unable to contact the ship from Nabusa. That would make the next bit could be a bit tricky. He waited until the docking bay doors opened, allowing a ship to exit, then quickly scanned the surface for commpip signatures. The vast majority were clustered together in one spot. Bain concluded that this must be the daycare center where most of his crew was being held. They would have to be dealt with later. Four more pips sat in a wooded area just to the north of the capital city. And finally one pip sat in the middle of town. That would be Tovar.

As the docking bay doors closed again, Bain readied the transporter. As soon as the doors opened again, the system would automatically lock on to Marsden, Kasyov, Gworos, Yonk, and Tovar’s stasis tube, where Bain had left his own commpip, and send them to sickbay. Bain then typed in orders commanding Marsden not to do anything until after the pilot’s test the next day.

In the command chair, Clophil shifted a bit. As much as Bain wanted to stay, he knew he should probably leave before Clophil got impatient and began to know what Bain was up to. “I’m ready, Dad,” he said.

“Good. I can’t sleep in that chair. Too uncomfortable.”

Bain fought down yet another urge to strangle the Nabusari.

Minutes later, the shuttle flew out of the opening doors of the docking bay. At the same time, Tovar’s cylinder vanished unnoticed from his hospital room. And several kilometers away, four humanoids dematerialized in the forest, just before the roots of the man-eating jawvicean tree of Nabusa could get its roots up through the soil to latch onto the unsuspecting Starfleet officers and turn them into plant food. The tree cursed its rotten luck and settled back in to wait for its next opportunity, taking note to leave its roots closer to the surface.

The average person might think that the pressure pressing on Bain to save his ship and crew might have prevented him from sleeping that night, but he actually collapsed into his bed like a sheet of duranium (gotta love these 26th century analogies. But come on, when have you ever seen a pile of bricks on Star Trek?). So anyway Bain slept soundly, so soundly in fact that it wasn’t until he slowly regained consciousness many hours later that he realized he’d been moved to a sitting position…

…and that he was now firmly being held in a chair by some kind of force field.

“What the devil?” Bain muttered groggily.

“I…I just couldn’t let you go,” Clophil said from a short distance away. Bain’s vision cleared enough to show him that he was back on Clophil’s shuttle, which was currently sailing over the open plains of Nabusa. “You don’t really want to leave your daddy, do you son?”

“Dammit, man, I’m not your son!” Bain shouted. “Now stop this damn foolishness and let me go. I have a test to pass!”

“We’ll go camping. Just the two of us. I brought my fishing gear and a tent and…”

“Listen to me, you bloody git!”

“Don’t make me drug you again,” Clophil said. So that’s why Bain had slept through his own kidnapping.

Bain calmed himself down. “What is it that you want?”

“To be a family again.”

“But I’m not your family.”

“That can change.”

Testing Officer Advill materialized on the bridge of the Anomaly at precisely 0930 hours and was a bit surprised to find himself all alone. Usually pilots waiting to take their exam eagerly awaited his arrival. The test wasn’t technically scheduled until 0935, though, so Advill took a seat in the command chair to wait.

Several decks below, a warning light began flashing on Marsden’s main engineering status board, drawing her attention away from her diagnostics of the Anomaly’s systems. Fortunately, despite her fears that the Nabusari had broken something while examining the Anomaly, the ship seemed to be in perfect working order.

“Someone’s aboard,” Marsden said, checking the readouts. “One Nabusari.”

“Then where’s Bain?” Dr. Kasyov, who was assisting Marsden with the diagnostics, asked.

“Probably just HAD to stick around for that fourth helping of breakfast.”

“He normally stops at two, Lieutenant,” Lieutenant Commander Tovar said as he entered engineering. The Yynsian seemed a bit wobbly on his feet, but otherwise unharmed by his time in stasis.

“How are those new pants working out for you?” Marsden asked.

“A true engineering marvel,” Tovar replied as he sat down. Instantly, the mini-anti grav generators in his pants activated, preventing his rear end (and the womb bumps dotting it) from touching the seat.

“Are you feeling okay?” Kasyov asked.

“Nicely rested, actually,” Tovar replied. “But I believe Captain Bain’s location should be our primary concern. If he does not take this test, the Anomaly will not be allowed out of this dock and we will not leave this world.”

On the monitor on the engineering console, Advill looked at his chronometer impatiently.

“If he leaves…” Kasyov started.

“I know. I know,” Marsden said.

Tovar thought for a moment. “Perhaps a holographic…”

“No time,” Marsden interrupted as Advill stood up from the command chair. “You two get to the shuttlebay and be ready to go.” Marsden accessed the transporter controls from her console and began punching in commands.

“What are you going to do?” Kasyov asked.

“Go be Captain Bain,” Marsden said as the transporter grabbed her. “Pip pip cheerio and shit.”

“Just where the devil are you taking me?” Bain demanded as Clophil continued to fly the shuttle.

“Someplace where we can have family time. Just you and me. Just like we used to.”

“We’ve never done this,” Bain said.

“Don’t be silly, Nyquill. Of course we have.”

Nyquill? That was Clophil’s son’s name. Clophil had told Bain days earlier that he didn’t see his son much any more, but he never mentioned being a raving loony about it.

“You’ve gone completely round the bend,” Bain said.

Clophil looked at Bain confused. “No. We’re flying straight.”

“Straight to hell in a handbasket,” Bain muttered.

Testing Officer Advill looked up from his chronometer as Marsden materialized on the bridge.

“You’re Reginald Bain?” he asked skeptically, looking at the name on his clippadd.

“Absolutely,” Marsden replied. “Let’s get cracking.”

“You’re late.”

“Unavoidably detained. Shall we go?”

“You look awfully young…”

“My species is well preserved,” Marsden said, moving to the helm console. “Now I fly this a little bit, then we’re done, right?”

“Yes yes,” Advill said. “We’ll just take you through a few basic maneuvers, then, assuming you pass, you’ll be given your license and safe passage out of our system. Fair enough.”

“Sure,” Marsden said, looking over the helm. Despite the fact that she’d designed the Anomaly, she’d never actually flown the ship. Arroyo or someone else had always been around for that. In all honesty, she hadn’t been at the controls of a ship in a very long time.

How the hell was she supposed to pilot with the controls all screwed up like this? Bain’s configuration had put everything on the wrong side of the console. “Damn backward menace,” Marsden muttered.

“Is everything all right?” Advill asked.

“Oh sure. Just doing a final flight check.”

“Feel free to ease us out of the parking space, turn to starboard and merge into the flow of traffic heading toward the exit.”

“Sure thing.” Marsden pressed down on the console, sending the Anomaly forward with a jolt and almost knocking Advill out of his seat. Marsden chuckled weakly. “Sorry. It’s a sensitive ship.”

“Please ease us out of the parking space…”

“I got it. Hang on.”

“I sincerely hope you mean that in a figurative sense.”

Down in the shuttlebay, Tovar and Kasyov held onto the walls inside of the Shuttlecraft Gnork (names for famous Horta scientist) as the Anomaly lurched forward again.

“I was under the impression that the goal was to pass Captain Bain’s test,” Tovar remarked.

“Maybe she’s just trying to get the tester motion sick,” Kasyov said. “Because it’s sure as hell working on me.”

A collision alarm sounded, then abruptly stopped.

“Perhaps I should have impersonated Bain,” Tovar said. “I doubt she can even do his accent properly.”

“No time to worry about it now,” Kasyov said, taking a seat at the shuttle’s co-pilot console as Tovar sat in the pilot’s chair. “We’re nearing the exit.”

“Opening shuttlebay doors,” Tovar said.

“Not too much. Just enough to let us out.”

“I will try to be inconspicuous.”

“Good. I don’t want any repeats of our last shuttle trip. I’ve been blown up and captured enough for one year.”

“Then you might want to put in for a transfer when we return to Federation space. Captain Bain has something of a reputation.”

Before Kasyov could demand an explanation, the Anomaly sailed out of the Nabusari spacedock, missing the side wall by a whole six feet. As the view of the docking facility outside the shuttlebay gave way to open space, Tovar gently eased the shuttle out of the Anomaly and dove into the Nabusa atmosphere.

“A door is ajar. A door is ajar,” the voice of the computer repeated.

“No,” Advill said again, growing angry. “A door is a portal. A jar is a container.” He turned on Marsden. “What kind of morons programmed this thing?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Marsden muttered. Seeing on her console that Tovar and Kasyov were away, she closed the shuttlebay doors, thankfully causing the computer to shut up.

“Very well then. Proceed to Nabulani and turn to port.”

“Um…which one’s Nabulani?” Marsden asked, looking that the array of planets and moons in the Nabusa system.

Advill sighed tiredly. “The green one with the rings.”

“Gotcha,” Marsden said. The Anomaly jerked forward again, headed toward its new destination as Advill made another notation on his padd.

The shuttle Gnork meanwhile sped into the Nabusa atmosphere, hot on the trail of Captain Bain.

“I’m checking for lone human life signs now,” Kasyov said, pouring over the sensors.

“Just look for his commpip,” Tovar replied.

“He used it to beam you up.”

“So? He’s a captain. He still has three left.”

“Good point….Got him! Five hundred kilometers northeast and moving.”

“Hail him. See if you can find out what his status is,” Tovar said.

Captain Bain was a bit displeased with himself at that moment. After Dr. Kasyov had been taken hostage by that rogue brain a few months ago, Bain had gone through at least eight different ways that he would have escaped the situation. Now here he was in almost the exact same circumstance (trapped in a chair by forcefield on a fleeing shuttle), and he couldn’t do a blasted thing.

He was mulling over another approach to getting through to Clophil when he heard a soft feminine voice in his ear. It was the commpip operator.

“You are receiving a comm on pip two. Would you like it transferred to your main pip, sent to voice mail, or would you like to take the comm?”

“I’ll take the comm,” Bain whispered.

“Captain?” Dr. Kasyov’s voice asked.

“Kassie! Get me out of here!”

“Oh that’s sweet,” Clophil said from the front of the shuttle. “Playing with your imaginary friend?”

“What was that?” Kasyov asked.

“Just ignore him. He’s gone bonkers,” Bain said.

“Are you in trouble, Captain?” Tovar’s voice broke in.

“Tovar! Good man! I can’t tell you what a relief it is to hear your voice. I’m in a bit of pickle. Seems my host, Clophil, thinks I’m his real son and is taking me camping whether I like it or not.”

“Can you get control of the shuttle?”

“Afraid not. He’s got me in a forcefield.”

“I told you it’s not that easy to escape from those things!” Kasyov said.

“Not now, Doctor,” Bain said. “Where are you?”

“We’re in a shuttle closing in on your position,” Tovar reported.

“Splendid. Let’s go with Number 93 then, Tovar.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Tovar said.

“Capital. I’ll be ready. Bain out.”

“Number 93?” Kasyov asked confused.

“One of Captain Bain’s 100 standard issue plans for every occasion. I believe copies were sent to the entire crew on their terminals.”

“Really? Must have missed that one,” Kasyov said.


“So what does this plan entail?” Kasyov asked as Clophil’s shuttle came into view.

“This!” Tovar sent the shuttle into another dive as the phasers flared to life, sending blasts smashing into the fleeing Nabusari craft.

On Clophil’s shuttle, the power flickered as the phaser barrage slammed into the rear of the ship.

“He can’t come out to play!” Clophil seethed angrily.

Bain, meanwhile, had managed to dive out of the chair holding him when the power flickered, disrupting the forcefield. The captain stormed to the front of the shuttle, grabbed Clophil, and hoisted the frail Nabusari out of his seat effortlessly. “Why don’t you take a load off, ‘Dad’?” Bain said, carrying Clophil back to the rear of the ship. Bain deactivated the forcefield around the chair that formerly imprisoned him, slammed Clophil down in it, then reactivated the field.

“That’s no way to treat your father!” Clophil shouted. “Just you wait, Mister!”

“Bain to Tovar,” Bain said, ignoring the raving Nabusari. “Situation secure, but I want to get Clophil some help. He’s a good sort, but a bit off his duff at the moment. Follow me back to town, then you can bring me aboard.”


After Clophil and his shuttle had been left at Nabusari General with a note explaining his mental state, Bain, Tovar, and Kasyov headed into orbit to rendevous with the Anomaly, which at that moment was performing a delicate three-point turn under the control of Lieutenant Marsden.

“And now turn to starboard and return to the docking facility,” Advill said flatly once Marsden completed the maneuver.

“Is that it?” she asked hesitantly. Tovar and Kasyov hadn’t returned with Bain yet, and the last thing Marsden wanted was to get stuck back in that docking facility. “Can’t I parallel park again?”

“You did it adequately the first time,” Advill replied, checking the notes on his padd.

“So did I pass?”

“We shall see.”


“Please return us to the docking facility.”

“But…” Marsden trailed off as her console blinked that the shuttle was returning. She casually activated the shuttlebay doors.

“A door is ajar! A door is ajar!” the computer announced.

“You really must have that looked at,” Advill said irritated.

“First thing,” Marsden said as the shuttle landed in the shuttlebay and she closed the doors. “Well, it’s been a blast. Let me know about that license. Bye now.”

“Bye? What do you mean bye? We aren’t in the docking…”

Advill suddenly dematerialized as a Federation standard transporter beam sent him back to the docking facility. A moment later, Bain, Tovar, and Kasyov rushed out onto the bridge.

“We’re ready to go,” Marsden said as she headed to the engineering console. “I’m going to do a mass transport of the rest of the crew from here.”

“Confine them in Cargo Bay Three until we can break the news to them that playtime’s over,” Kasyov said.

“Good plan,” Bain said, taking a seat at the helm. Now why were the controls all backwards again? “You and Mr. Tovar can see to that problem.”

“I’m sure I will find ways to break them of the Nabusari’s spell,” Tovar said with a hint of evil in his voice.

“Keep it cricket, old boy.”

“Everyone’s aboard,” Marsden announced a few moment’s later.

“And we appear to have attracted some attention from the docking facility,” Tovar reported. “A vessel is starting to emerge. And we are being hailed. It appears that you passed your pilot’s test.”

“Then tell whoever’s coming to pursue that I’m a licensed adult now and I’ll do whatever I damn well please.” To punctuate his point, Bain smashed his finger down on the helm console, launching the Anomaly into warp.

“Captain’s Log. Stardate 175223.5. We’ve left the Nabusa system like the proverbial bat out of hell and, after taking a few moments to get our bearings, we’ve returned on our course toward the supposed rebellion against the Associates. So far we have not seen any signs of Nabusari pursuit, which I am taking as meaning they are respecting my rights as an adult. How refreshing.

In all honesty, this entire experience has me thinking a bit more than usual about my own kids. I’ll have to remember to look them up when we get back. In the meantime, I must see to my own crew. Most of them seem to have recovered from their imprisonment in the Nabusari daycare with little or no ill effects. They look at the experience as having a spot of holiday. Commander Prosak, however, is another story.”

Captain Bain took another look at the doors of his former ready room (now Prosak’s quarters) as he sat in his command chair on the Anomaly’s bridge. “I’m starting to wonder if she’s coming out of there,” he said finally.

“Seeing as how she’s missed her last two shifts, I doubt it,” Tovar replied from his post at tac-ops.

“Right,” Bain said, getting up from his seat and marching over to the ready room doors. He pounded three times. “Come on out of there, Commander. That’s enough of this foolishness.”

“You aren’t my father!” Prosak’s voice shouted from inside.

Bain sighed. He remembered conversations like this all too well. Of course this time he had a slight advantage. “Maybe not, but I am your commanding officer.”

The doors opened almost instantly, revealing Prosak standing in civilian garb, her hair all askew. She waved Bain inside, then closed the doors once he had entered.

“Starfleet would hardly seem to matter out here,” she said. “We should be settling down. This course of action is suicide.”

“Nonsense. I’ve never committed suicide in my life,” Bain retorted. He wrapped a comforting arm around Prosak’s shoulder. “I know it seems hopeless. We’ve got an entire galaxy stacked against us, but we’re going to make it.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I’m Reginald Bain!” Bain said as if the connection was obvious.

“I see,” Prosak replied noncommitally.

“Why don’t you take a couple of days off? Think things through. I’ll be busy getting us home.”

Prosak smiled weakly. “Thank you, sir. And believe me, I have every confidence in you.”

“Glad to hear it,” Bain said, heading toward the door. He smacked right into when it didn’t open. “Bloody hell.” Bain smacked the door controls and stormed out as Prosak continued to have every confidence that they were all doomed.

Tags: boldly