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


“Transparent Motives”

By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler

Captain’s Log,

Stardate 175237.6. We’ve been searching for the fabled resistance movement against the Associates for nearly three weeks now and have fallen woefully short of anything resembling success.

Balpar, Doctor Kasyov’s “contact’ with the rebels, directed us to start looking near the Vartasian nebula. Though we’ve passed several alien species in the past few weeks, none have the slightest idea where such a nebula is. The Associates probably know, but for obvious reasons, we’re not asking them. We’d just as soon they not know where we are.

In other news, crew morale is at an all-time low, and even our holographic entertainer, Steve, er, that is, “Steve!” is unable to bring them out of the doldrums.

Some of us, though, have responded to the depressing state of things with great aplomb.

“Your move, old chum,” Captain Bain said, nodding in Lt. Commander Tovar’s direction.

Tovar shoved the checker along the board and sighed. “King me.”

“Good show,” Bain said unenthusiastically.

“Indeed,” replied Tovar.

Bain looked over his checkers. “What to do now, eh?”

“You have several avenues to victory, sir, but I doubt it would be proper for me to point them out to you.”

Bain nodded. “No, wouldn’t be cricket, that.”

Tovar watched the stars blaze by outside the window of the deserted rec room.

“You’d think we’d have found that nebula by now. It can’t be all that far from the test world.”

“You’d think,” Bain said, studying the checkerboard.

Tovar shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “I think I need to go to see Lieutenant Marsden. The squid nodules on my buttocks are chafing against the anti-gravity field my pants are generating.”

“My, that must be quite a pain, there, eh?”

Tovar nodded. “I will be most pleased to give birth.”

“And when will that be?”

“Doctor Nooney isn’t sure, but he estimates the nodules will reach critical mass within a couple weeks.”

“And then what happens?”

“No one seems to know.”

Bain clapped Tovar on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, Tovar. I’m sure you’ll come through splendidly.”

“Sir, you nearly slapped one of my nodules.”

Just then, Doctor Natalia Kasyov strolled into the rec room. “Do you have a minute, Captain?”

“Of course,” the captain said, casting an apologetic look at Tovar. He stood, gentlemanlike, and smiled at the science officer. “What can I do for you, Doctor?” Tovar looked at him sidelong. He knew Bain was just glad for a distraction from the fact that he was losing at checkers.

Being a good pseudo-son, Tovar didn’t say anything and merely smiled inwardly.

“We’re going around in circles, Captain,” Kasyov said suddenly and loudly, stepping toe-to-toe with Bain. He hopped back a couple steps.

“Doctor, don’t you think you’re being a bit melodramatic?”

“No, I mean it literally. We’re going around in circles.” Kasyov walked over to the large 50-inch viewscreen on the far wall of the rec room and tapped a couple controls. Up came a starchart of the sector the Anomaly was traveling in, overlaid with a blue trail Bain realized was the Anomaly’s…complete with a blinking Starfleet insignia, symbolizing the Anomaly’s current course.

“Technically, it is a spiral,” Tovar said, still sitting at the checkers table. Kasyov pretended he wasn’t there.

Bain approached the viewscreen, scratching his grey-topped head. “I’ll be damned, you’re right, Kass. Have to talk to Mister Arroyo about that.”

“The most efficient way to complete a search of a large sector is expanding, concentric circles, Doctor,” Tovar said. “I would say we’re taking the best course of action in searching for the rebels.”

“Who asked you?” Kasyov snapped at Tovar. She turned to Bain. “You weren’t on that planet, Captain.”

“I was–” Tovar said, but Kasyov cut him off.

“You haven’t seen first hand what they can do!”

“I di–” Tovar began, and was cut off again.

“You have to do something!” she said, pounding Bain on the chest. “Who knows what they’re doing to Balpar, Captain?” She leaned her head on Bain’s chest and exploded into sobs.

Bain looked at Tovar helplessly. The Yynsian shrugged. Bain patted Kasyov’s head.

“There, now, Kass, it’s not all that bad.”

“You didn’t see the testing rooms on the upper levels. Beyond the jams and jellys. They tested other things, there, Captain. Horrid things. Molasses. Guacamole. Wasabe.”

“Surely not–” Bain began.

“Who knows what they’re doing to his digestive system, Captain? If we wait much longer to rescue him, he could be a veritable shell of a man! His kidneys could fail altogether!”

Bain nodded, taking it all in, gently patting Kasyov’s head in the process. “Yes, Doctor, I understand the danger. But I’m not sure we can do anything about that until we find this resistance.”

“Hell with the resistance!” Kasyov said, pulling back from Bain, face red and streaked with tears. “Send a team in there to get him! Equip the Navigator with our cloaking device. Load it up with security officers! Go in there and pull him out. I’ve seen your record. You’ve led extraction teams before. Into Breen territory, and before that the Romulans and even into the Bast systems on the outer ring!”

“But, Doctor, this is different. We’re in Andromeda, we–”

“So we’re in Andromeda! Does that make you a gutless, spineless wimp? I thought you were a man of action, Reginald!”

Bain blinked at Kasyov. “I understand you’re upset, Doctor, but do remember I am your captain.”

Tovar suddenly appeared as if he were beamed there next to Bain. “Doctor Kasyov, I think you’ve said quite enough. May I suggest you return to your quarters and calm down before you say something we all regret.”

“Fine,” Kasyov said, and marched toward the door. “Do nothing. Let’s see where that gets us after another few weeks.” And with that she dashed out of the room.

Tovar looked up at Bain. “I can have her confined to quarters, sir.”

“Nonsense,” Bain said, and sat down, resting his chin on his fist.

“She was way out of line, sir.”

“Quite,” Bain said distantly.

Tovar looked down at the checker board. “I guess it’s your move, sir.”

“Yes,” Bain said, resolutely. “Yes it is.” He slapped his legs and stood up, turned on a heel for the door, and bolted out.

“Aren’t you going to finish?” Tovar called after him.

Captain’s Log,

Supplemental. Per Doctor Kasyov’s request, we have fitted the U.S.S. Navigator, our companion vessel, with our cloaking device. We will take that vessel back to the Keldora system, where the test world is, and where Balpar and one of Cabral’s kin are being held. We will get them back. Damn the neutron torpedoes, full speed ahead!

“You sure lit a brush fire under his ass,” Marsden muttered as she packed the last of her tools into a case and headed for the corridor leading out of the Anomaly’s engineering room.

“I didn’t mean to be so hard on him,” Kasyov said. “I think I went a little overboard.”

“Not at all. In the short time I’ve known the captain, I have seen him as more a proactive than reactive guy. He’s been too reactive lately. You straightened him back out.”

Kasyov allowed a small smile. “You think so?”

“This is the most energized I’ve seen him since we got here.”

“In that case, I guess I did the right thing,” Kasyov said, but didn’t seem certain.

“Just be glad he let you come with us,” Marsden said, passing the dwarfish Lt. Polnuc on the way out of engineering. “The place is all yours, Polnuc.”

“Hopefully it’ll be here when you get back,” Polnuc said noncommitally and trudged over to the office.

“What’s his problem?” Kasyov asked as she and Marsden headed down the corridor toward the shuttlebay.

“Oh, you know, Polnuc is among the many crewmembers who think we’ll never get back to the Milky Way. All this fatalism is really starting to get on my nerves.”

“Well, a little field trip may be just what the doctor ordered.”

Marsden grinned. “Let’s just hope it’s a successful one, Nat.”

“My sentiments exactly.”

“My formal objection has been lodged,” Commander Prosak said as she accompanied Bain into Shuttlebay Two, where the Navigator loomed huge over the engineers scrambling about, getting her flight-ready.

“As has my objection,” Tovar said from the opposite side of Bain.

Bain stopped in his tracks, looking from his first officer to his tac-ops chief. “What’s this? You’re both against me, then?”

“I just do not understand why I wasn’t included in this mission,” Tovar muttered. “You have drafted every security officer on the ship, all fifteen of them, and yet chose not to take me, your security chief, along.”

“Well, the reasoning behind that should be obvious, old boy,” Bain said, looking Tovar over. “I’m not putting you in harm’s way in your…condition. The missus would never forgive me.”

“Mum is not at issue here,” Tovar said. “Ship’s security is.”

“There now, Tovar. I’ve made my decision. At any rate, Prosak needs you here.”

“For what, exactly?” Prosak demanded.

“You will keep searching for the rebels,” Bain told Prosak. “Just in case we fail. You may need them to help pull the lot of us out of the Keldora system.”

“Would it not be simpler to just abandon this futile misson and find a place to settle down?”

“Now then, there’ll be no more of that, Prosak,” Bain commanded. “I hate to get stern with you, but you leave me no choice. I don’t want you spreading the idea of giving up to this crew. It’ll spread like wildfire. In my absence, you’re their leader. Act like it. Give them a reason to wake up in the morning.”

“If we found an out-of-the way place to begin spawning a new civilization, that would certainly be reason enough,” Prosak said.

“Hmmph,” Bain said. “Don’t make me regret leaving you in command, Prosak. You are up to this, are you not?”

“Although my emotions tell me I should do otherwise, the logical course of action is to follow your orders, sir,” Prosak said, standing at attention. “I shall not let you down.” She didn’t say that with much conviction.

Bain nodded. “Good enough for me. The Anomaly’s yours, Commander.” With that, he shook Tovar’s hand, patted Prosak on the shoulder, and trotted off to the ground-level hatch leading into the Navigator, where Marsden, Kasyov and fifteen security officers waited for takeoff.

“We should return to the bridge and monitor their departure,” Prosak said dully.

Tovar clasped his hands behind his back and nodded, following Prosak. “My thoughts exactly.”

Bain trotted out onto the bridge of the Navigator and nodded appreciatively at the scene of his crew working cohesively.

Marsden was at the back panel, monitoring the energy feeds to the new cloaking device. Kasyov was standing at the science/ops console, monitoring communication signals and ship movements in the sector. Lt. Brazzell, the ranking security officer aboard, was standing opposite her at tactical, and Ensign Lara Randall, also of security, was at the helm.

“Very well, Ms. Randall, let’s be on our way,” Bain said, lowering himself into the command chair at the center of the bridge.

“Aye, Captain,” Randall said, plunking in the coordinates for the Keldora system. “Course laid in.”

“Make your speed warp six, to keep us off the ‘scopes.”

“Aye, sir. Warp six.”

“Engage,” Bain ordered, leaning back in his chair to relax.

“Way to go, ‘man of action,’” Marsden said, suppressing a chuckle.

After an uneventful few minutes on the bridge watching the Navigator being launched, Tovar headed back to his quarters to catch a few hours sleep before going back on-shift.

When he arrived in his quarters, he found the message light bleeping on his terminal. He punched a control, and Reginald Bain appeared on its small screen.

“Mister Tovar,” Bain’s voice said. “I am sorry I didn’t get to speak with you in person, but the last several hours have been hectic, and I had no time to talk to you alone. What I have to say is for your ears only: Keep an eye on Commander Prosak. If she shows any sign of disregarding my orders, you are to relieve her of command, confine her to quarters, and take control of the Anomaly.

“I trust her implicitly; however, she is a Romulan, and I’m not used to trusting Romulans quite yet. This could all just be paranoia on my part, and that’s why I’m addressing this to you only, Tovar. Hopefully, I’m far off-base. At any rate, good luck. I’m sure we’ll talk soon. Bain out.”

Tovar punched a control, deactivating his terminal. Prosak wasn’t his favorite person, but she was a Starfleet officer. He thought quite a bit of Bain, but in this case, he figured Bain was overreacting. He went to take a nap. He’d check on Prosak later.

First Officer’s Log,

Supplemental. It has been twelve hours since the Navigator left on her appointed task. By my estimation they should be arriving at the Keldora system within the hour. My hopes go with them.

Meanwhile, I am guiding the Anomaly on her continuing mission to locate a resistance against the Associates. So far, I have been unsuccessful.

Prosak sat in the vacant rec room, reading a padd that contained the sensor data from the Anomaly’s last twelve hours of duty, oblivious to the fact that someone was looking over her shoulder.

“Commander, do you have a moment?” a voice suddenly asked.

Prosak turned to see who was behind her. Though sitting, she came eye-to-eye with the fully-upright Ensign Yonk. “How may I help you, Ensign?”

“I want this off the record.” Yonk circled her table and lept into the chair opposite Prosak.

Prosak sat her padd down. “Of course. Computer, disengage audio capture.”

“Fine,” the computer muttered in reply.

Prosak folded her hands in front of her. “Okay, go ahead.”

“I think what we’re doing is a mistake.”

“That being…?”

“Wasting time and resources looking for some resistance which may or may not exist, when what we should be doing is finding allies and settling down on a planet we can call our own.”

Prosak agreed with Yonk, but she decided to play Devil’s Advocate. “Don’t you think that’s a bit extreme, Mister Yonk?”

“Not at all. And there are others aboard who feel the same way. Especially after being coddled on that planet a week ago. A lot of us liked being nursed like that. It sure beats replicators day after day.”

“Do you suggest we return to the Nabusari?”

“Not at all, being they sort of kept us imprisoned. But maybe we can set up on a nice, lush planet and live out our days until a Starfleet rescue party reaches us or until we think up the technology to get back to the Milky Way.”

“Wouldn’t you agree that ‘settling down’ would lessen our chances of discovering the technology to get us home?”

“I’m not talking about becoming xenophobic, Commander. Quite the opposite. While some of us are living it up on our new planet, the Anomaly would still be out there, making friends and making deals. Not getting shot up and chased out of every system we encounter. There’s an ancient Ferengi proverb that says the best way to achieve a goal is by taking the path of least resistance.”

“Romulans have a similar proverb,” Prosak said thoughtfully. “As do Vulcans.”

“So…whaddaya say?” Yonk asked, leaning forward.

“You’re suggesting I disregard Captain Bain’s orders and stop looking for the resistance.”

“Hey, if he gets that scientist guy, then that guy’ll lead him to the resistance, right?”

“And what if he does not succeed.”

“Logically, he won’t be coming back.”

Prosak’s neck hairs hackled at that concept. “That cannot be allowed.”

“Let me ask you this, Commander. How many people do you really think are that interested in finding this resistance?”

Prosak thought about that. “Captain Bain, Doctor Kasyov. Lieutenant Commander Tovar, and possibly Lieutenant Marsden.”

“The few.”


“Well, I took a poll on the intra-ship messaging system. Seems seventy-five percent could care less about finding a resistance.”

“The many,” Prosak said thoughtfully.

“You get the idea.” Yonk smiled toothily.

“Mister Yonk, this ship is not a democracy.”

“I don’t see what that has to do with anything. Just make a decision.”

“I believe you’ve said enough, Mister Yonk. Report back to your station.”

Yonk hopped off the seat and scuttled over to the door to the rec room. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, Commander. You should know that better than anybody.”

Yonk left Prosak alone in the rec room. She stared down at her padd, thinking about Captain Bain. “Or the one.”

If she did do this, she’d need help. And she knew just where to find it.

“Status of cloak?” Bain asked jovially as the Navigator breezed into the Keldora system.

“Fully-functional,” Marsden said.

“Any Associates warships?” Bain asked.

“Three in orbit on the far side of the planet.”

“Splendid. Maneuver us into an orbit opposite them.” Bain looked to Kasyov. “Any luck finding Balpar?”

“I have no idea what Pulsan lifesigns look like, Captain,” Kasyov said. “Cabral’s race, however…” She tapped her science controls for a moment, then looked up victoriously. “I found Loborus. He’s in a holding cell six levels below the surface; main testing facility.”

“Guess they repaired it,” mused Bain. “Can we beam in?”

“They have no shields up, and the rock won’t interfere with our beam, so I don’t see why not.”

“Cocky bastards aren’t ready for us.”

“I think they figured we wouldn’t be back, since we fled the system with our tail between our legs last time,” Marsden pointed out.

“Tut now, Marsden. Reginald Bain has never run anywhere with his tail between his legs. Come to think of it, Reginald Bain doesn’t have a tail.” Bain pointed to Kasyov and Brazzell. “You two are with me. Bain to security team: Assemble in the transporter room. Marsden, you have the bridge.”

“Happy hunting, Captain,” Marsden said, walking over to the command chair. She looked over her shoulder at Kasyov. “Happy hunting, Nat.”

Bain, Kasyov, Brazzell, and 13 other security officers beamed down to Level Negative Six, as it was called, more than 20 meters below the surface of Keldora Three, right outside the room where Loborus was being kept, according to sensors.

Kasyov flipped the lens on her quadcorder headset over her eye. “He’s right through this door.”

Bain glanced at Brazzell. “Anyone else around, Lieutenant?”

Brazzell checked the security lens that was flipped over his eye. “No, sir. The area’s clean. Of guards that is.” He glanced at the walls. “Otherwise, this place is a mess. I’m showing vast mildew buildup in sectors five, seven…”

“Right, then. Through the doors.” Bain glanced at a security officer. “Gworos, use the door-opening whatsit.”

The Klingon security officer, stepped forward and retrieved a small disc from a pouch at his side. He placed the disc on the door and thumbed a control on it.

The door slid open. In true Klingon fashion, Gworos hurled himself inside, unsheathing his bat’leth and swinging around in a circle pattern.

“The area is clear,” his voice called from the darkness.

“Torches,” Bain ordered, unslinging his phaser rifle. Kasyov and Brazzell switched on their wrist-mounted beacons and Bain dashed in first, with them and the rest of the security bunch behind.

Kasyov spotted Loborus sitting glumly in a tank at the far end of the room. Sleeping, probably. A flicker of energy just beyond the tank caught her attention. She ventured forward, stepping carefully so as to not wake Loborus. Considering the large brain’s track record, he’d probably accidentally trip an alarm in his excitement at seeing Kasyov.

On the other side of the tank in a small force-field enclosed cell sat Balpar, his legs curled up toward his body allowing his massive skull to rest on his knees.

“Balpar? It’s Natalia,” Kasyov whispered. “Are you all right?”

Balpar looked his, his weary expression brightening upon seeing Kasyov. “You came back for me,” he said as Kasyov deactivated the force-fields.

She smiled. “You’re safe now.”

“Sir, multiple beam-ins, from all around us!” Brazzell suddenly called out.

Bain and the others reacted quickly, raising their phaser rifles and wrist phasers and pulling together into a tight circle facing out at all corners of the room, shining their lights about as multiple green shimmers appeared around them.

“Get behind me,” Kasyov ordered Balpar, pushing him back as she extended her wrist phaser to face the incoming threat.

Bain had already uttered the “Fi-“ part of “Fire,” when the shimmers took a shape Kasyov recognized. Immediately she held up her hand.

“Nobody do anything!” she called out. “They’re friendly!”

“Great day in the morning!” yelped Bain. “Their heads are huge!”

Marsden had hopped behind the tactical console just as the ships began entering orbit beside the Anomaly.

“Do they see us, Randall?” It was just her and Ensign Randall aboard the Navigator. Everyone else had beamed down.

“Doesn’t look like it,” Randall said, studying the helm sensors.

“I’m not getting that idea either, but I have weapons ready just in case.”

“Good idea.”

“Maybe I should take the helm, and you can take tactical?”

“I’m a security officer, not a tactical officer.”

Marsden put her hands on her hips. “I thought they were one and the same.”

Randall turned in her chair to face her. “Not always. I’d always assumed engineers had all done tours at tactical.”

“Well, we’ve both learned something today,” Marsden said, then did a double take at her sensors, watching helplessly as the vessels, all oval and about the size of the Anomaly, beamed down a dozen people, right where she’d recently put Bain and his team.

“Marsden to Bain!” Marsden called out, ready to drop cloak and raise shields and weapons. “You’ve got company!”

“It’s okay, Marsden,” Bain’s voice came back. “They’re friendlies.”

“Who are they?” Marsden demanded.

“Those rebels we’ve been looking all over for,” came Kasyov’s voice over the comm channel.

Marsden leaned against the tactical console. “Hmmph.”

“Clear the bridge.” Prosak looked around blankly, waiting patiently for the order to be carried out.

She was met with uncertain stares.

“Care to tell us why?” Ensign Arroyo said from the helm.

“That does not concern you. I am in command, and I’ve given an order. Follow it.” Prosak felt a sudden rush of power and liked it. So that’s what being a Romulan was all about. Subterfuge.

It was an interesting facet of her personality she’d never really investigated. She walked over to the command chair and sat down. “You people heard me. Clear the bridge.”

Arroyo got up and huffed toward the door. “Tovar’s going to hear about this.”

“Do as you wish,” Prosak replied, as Arroyo, Yonk, Neville from tactical and Brand from Engineering all exited into the aft turbolift.

Prosak glanced over her shoulder to see Yonk’s toothy and knowing smile just as the doors closed. He probably had all sorts of ideas about what Prosak might be doing.

Once she was alone, Prosak stood again.

In order to get the help she needed, she had to be on the bridge alone.

“Computer,” Prosak said. “Activate the Emergency Diplomatic Hologram.”

The EDH had been installed by Admiral Larkin, without Bain’s knowledge. Larkin had instructed Prosak to activate the hologram, if Bain “seemed to be losing control of a situation.”

Prosak decided this qualified.

And was met instantly by the smiling visage of one Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

It appeared to be Kirk circa 2289, just after his demotion from Admiral back to Captain. He wore the ancient red Starfleet uniform with the white collar and rank on the shoulder.

Prosak had studied Kirk, as most Romulans had. Kirk’s pitched battle in the Neutral Zone in which he destroyed a Romulan Bird of Prey, in addition to the adventure in which he, disguised as a Romulan, snuck aboard a D-7 cruiser and stole a cloaking device- -those stories were stuff of legend on Romulus.

And now he stood, facing her.

Starfleet’s best example of diplomacy?

“Please state the nature of the diplomatic emergency,” Kirk said smugly.

“Pardon my surprise, sir, but I am a bit taken aback by Starfleet’s choice of visage. Your exploits are not exactly considered diplomacy at its best.”

“My…designers decided this face was the most attractive of the bunch,” Kirk said easily, leaning against Prosak. “They…decided I had a certain…charisma. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Prosak studied Kirk. “You are an attractive man.”

“Why, thanks.” Kirk grinned.

“But how does that help?”

“Depends on the problem. Suffice it to say, I’ve talked myself out of some sticky situations.”

“Indeed,” said Prosak.

Kirk clapped his hands together. “Well, let’s get down to business. What’s the problem?” He looked around the bridge. “Crew kidnapped? You’re all by yourself?”

“No, no, I had the bridge cleared.”

“What for?” asked Kirk.

Prosak gestured toward the command chair. “Perhaps you should sit down.”

“I’m a hologram. I don’t think you’re going to say anything that’ll rattle me. But I can’t resist the offer.”

Kirk raced into the command chair and sat down, immediately looking at ease. “Oh, that’s a great feeling. I can sense the power of her, rushing beneath me. It’s quite…erotic.”

“Indeed,” muttered Prosak. “Listen…”

“You hear that…the hum of the engines at impulse–”

“We are at warp.”

“Right. Well, anyway…” Kirk said, then suddenly stopped. He rocked back and forth in the command chair a bit. “Hmmm.”


“I miss my old chair.”

Prosak was moments away from deactivating Kirk and forgetting the whole thing. This program was obviously faulty.

“You’ve got diplomacy trouble, eh?” Kirk suddenly said.

“You could say that,” Prosak said. “Our ship was controlled by a giant brain that made it possible for us to run a very complex type of engine that was powerful enough for us to travel to the Andromeda galaxy. Once we arrived here, the brain was taken hostage by the natives and we’ve been trying to find it ever since. It would seem hopeless.”

“No such word as hopeless, Commander.”

“Well, anyway,” Prosak said. “The captain has left with all our security officers to attempt to free a captive of these…natives…and in the process find the brain we so desperately need.”

“Seems sensible,” said Kirk.

“But the crew has requested that I take another route in his absence.”

Kirk leaned forward. “Go on.”

“They’ve suggested that we find a place to settle down, make alliances, and wait for Starfleet to rescue us, or else find some other means of getting home.”

“I’m not the giving up type.”

“Neither is my captain,” Prosak said. “But you’re not just the embodiment of James Kirk, right? You have other diplomats in there, right? You have the ability to help me find another race to befriend so we can have a safe harbor somewhere in this galaxy, don’t you?”

“Of course,” Kirk said. “That’s what I was designed for.” He patted Prosak on the shoulder. “You did the right thing. I can tell you’re a good officer…what was your name again?”


“Prosak. Doesn’t sound very Vulcan.”

“I am not a Vulcan, sir. I am Romulan.”


“Actually, RommaVulc.”

Kirk blinked. “Pardon?”

“A Romulan who emulates Vulcan ways.”

“Bones would just love that,” Kirk mused. “Well, then, Prosak. We have our work cut out for us. But first things first. What are you doing for dinner?”

It was then that Prosak felt Kirk’s hand resting on her hip.

She removed his hand and said, plainly, “I think we should focus on the task at hand.”

“You’re sure you’re not Vulcan?”

“Positive, but thanks for the compliment.”

Balpar rushed past Kasyov to meet the group of armed Pulsans that had just beamed into the chamber.

“Good god!” Bain shouted as Balpar’s bald head brushed by his shoulder. “Another one!”

“Calm down, sir,” Kasyov said. “This is Balpar. He’s the one I told you about.”

Bain looked the Pulsan up and down, then shook his hand. “Captain Reginald Bain. United Federation of Planets. A pleasure. I’m guessing you’re more of a thinker than a fighter, eh?”

“I assure you, we are quite capable of fighting for what we believe in,” Balpar replied.

The leader of the Pulsan rescue team stepped forward. “Have you been harmed, Balpar?”

“Nothing permanent, Cranius,” Balpar replied. He looked around at the group. “Where’s Dodohed?”

“Um…he’s gone.”

“Gone? How can he be gone? He’s our leader? Who’s in charge now?”

“I think you are,” Cranius replied.

“Me? I can’t lead the rebellion!”

Bain cleared his throat to interrupt. “Perhaps we could continue this on our ship. It really won’t matter who’s in charge if the Associates take you all prisoner.”

“True,” Balpar said.

“Are you coming to lead the fleet?” Cranius asked.

“I’ll command from Captain Bain’s ship for now. You and I have some things to discuss.”

Cranius gulped uncomfortably, then ordered the other Pulsans back to their ships.

“Right then,” Bain said, touching his commpip. “Bain to Navigator. Eighteen to beam up.”

“Nineteen,” Kasyov corrected, pointing at Loborus’ tank. “We can’t forget him.”

Bain grimaced as Loborus pulsated rhythmically in his sleep. “Nineteen it is then. But send the big brain to Science Lab Two. Energize.”

Loborus shifted slightly as the transporter effect latched onto him. It tickled. A moment later, the chamber was empty.

“Welcome to the Navigator,” Captain Bain said, gesturing for Balpar and Cranius to step off the transporter pad and out into the cramped corridor of the companion ship.

“It somehow looked larger when it was swooping down at us,” Balpar said thoughtfully, as Kasyov picked up step right next to him, eyes intent on that big, big…

“Head this way, please,” Bain said, pointing to the corridor that veered toward the turbolift. “Actually, this isn’t the vessel that rescued Doctor Kasyov and Mister Tovar from the test planet. This is her companion vessel, roughly one eighth the size of our home vessel, the U.S.S. Anomaly.”

“Weird name for a starship,” Balpar replied as the group squeezed into a turbolift. Bain found it rather difficult to maneuver around the two massive craniums of Balpar and Cranius. Hey…Cranius! That name made sense all of a sudden.

“I’ll want to have a look at Loborus when we get the chance,” Balpar said, more to Kasyov than to Bain. Loborus…LOBE. Of course! Bain smiled to himself pleased that his mind was still as much of a steel trap as ever.

“Of course,” Bain interjected, returning his thoughts to the situation at hand. “But first we have to get to the bridge and ascertain the situation. Last I heard we were being chased by a bevy of Associates vessels.”

“I wouldn’t worry about that, Captain,” Balpar said. “My people have a few…tricks up their sleeves.”

“As do mine,” replied Bain. “Our vessel is capable of rendering itself invisible in such occasions as this.”

“Funny,” replied Balpar. “OUR vessels are capable of rendering OTHER ships invisible.”

Kasyov gasped. “You’re kidding.”

Balpar lead the way out of the turbolift, his ear brushing against Bain’s nose. The man’s head was just WAY too big. “Watch,” Balpar said as he lead the way out to the center of the bridge.

Bain quickly stepped up next to Balpar. “I’ll be interested to see how this works.”

“Me too,” Kasyov said, stepping up behind Balpar, reaching out a hand to stroke that lovely ridge at the back of his head, where no doubt the spine connected with the cerebellum…

Ooh, she hadn’t felt like this since Neurology school.

“Open a channel to my fleet,” Balpar said. Bain glanced at Brazzell, who manned tactical, and nodded.

“Open,” said Brazzell, a little off-put that someone else would give him an order.

“This is Balpar to all resistance ships…” He looked at Cranius. “What did we call this again?”

“Disappearing act,” Cranius replied.

“Activate disappearing act,” Balpar ordered confidently.

“Now this is more like it!” Cranius said excitedly, slapping his hand down on the corner of Brazzell’s tac-ops console.

“Criminy! Would you look at that!” Bain said, stirring Kasyov from her thoughts. She glanced at the viewscreen, and sure enough, a wing of oval rebel vessels dove around the triangular associates ones, firing blue beams that, upon connecting with each vessel, made it seemingly vanish.

“I have to admit, I don’t see the benefit of making other ships disappear,” Kasyov said as Bain ordered Ensign Randall to bring the Navigator around and get the hell out of there.

“Watch,” Balpar said.

“Rear angle, Mister Brazzell,” said Bain.

Kasyov watched the retreating angle on the viewscreen, seeing nothing but empty space at first, and then blooms of fire as two vessels suddenly reappeared, crashing into one another, then another slammed into that clump, and another.

“That’ll take some time to sort out,” Balpar grinned.

“So it would seem,” Bain said, and settled into the command chair.

“All right, let’s get moving while we still can. Make course for…” Balpar looked at Bain.

“Rendez-vous with the Anomaly. Have them follow us.”

“Very well. All ships, follow us. End transmission.” Balpar looked back at Brazzell expectantly. Brazzell, meanwhile, was busy spraying some kind of disinfectant on the spot Cranius had touched, then a bit more in Cranius’ direction for good measure.

Balpar walked over to tac-ops, leaning over almost right in Brazzell’s face. “End transmission!” he repeated more forcefully.

“Oooh! No!” Brazzell cried, whipping a breath spray out of his ever-present sanitary supply belt and squirting several blasts into Balpar’s mouth. He managed to close the transmission with one hand while giving himself a complete spray-down with the other.

“Unusual man,” Balpar commented, walking back over to Bain and Kasyov.

“That was fantastic,” Cranius said. “You were born to lead us!”

“Since you mentioned it, just what happened to Dodohed.”

“He went home.”

Balpar’s skull throbbed, the veins pressing against his skin in a way that almost made Kasyov weak at the knees. “Home? HOME? We’re trying to have a rebellion here. He just can’t go home!”

“Well, we really weren’t doing much rebelling anyway,” Cranius said.

“Surely you spread discontent on Associate worlds.”

Cranius shook his head sheepishly.

“Disrupted shipping lanes?”

Cranius continued shaking his head.

“Attacked an outpost?”

Still shaking.

“Then what did you do?” Balpar demanded.

“We had a lot of meetings. A whole lot of meetings. And we said a lot of nasty things about the Associates at those meetings. They were really rebellious meetings.”

“I bet.”

“But then Dodohed said he needed to get home,” Cranius continued. “We eventually got bored, so we decided to come find you.”

“And we’re very glad you did,” Kasyov said, jumping in before Balpar could respond. “Aren’t we, Captain?” She kicked Bain’s shin lightly.

Bain, who’d been busy trying to figure out what he’d do if his ship was ever turned invisible against his will, jolted back to attention. “Quite right! Capital! First rate! Ballyhoo and such!”

He looked at Cranius, Balpar, and Kasyov. “Well I’m sure you chaps have some catching up to do. Why don’t you go below and have a toddy or something? It’ll be a few hours before we reach the Anomaly.”

“And boy will I be glad to be back,” Kasyov said distantly, holding onto Balpar’s hand as he lead her into the turbolift, followed closely by Cranius.

Once they were gone, Brazzell said, “Permission to speak freely, Captain?”

“Always,” responded Bain.

“Gods, that man’s head is huge!”

“Now now, Mister Brazzell. Big heads, fresh ideas. Be tolerant.”

“Meet our new…um…”

“Mission Mediator.”

“Yes, meet our new Mission Mediator, everyone!” Prosak said, her smile a little forced, as everyone filed back onto the bridge.

“I wasn’t aware we needed a mission mediator,” said Ensign Arroyo. “And what’s with his uniform? It looks like something out of a Starfleet history book!”

“I’m a hologram, mister,” James Kirk said, approaching Arroyo at the helm station. “Although you’re looking at a visual representation of James T. Kirk, a captain who served in Starfleet more than two centuries ago, I am in fact comprised of an assortment of diplomats, capable of steering a hapless crew out of any tight situation.”

“I wasn’t aware we were ‘hapless,’” Arroyo said, glancing at Prosak.

“Then you did not understand the situation,” Prosak said stiffly. “What’s our first objective, Captain?”

Kirk looked back at Prosak. “Call me Jim.”

“Very well. Jim.”

“First objective is to find an Associates base and blow it up.”

Prosak blinked. “But…Capt–er, Jim. That is NOT what we discussed.”

Jim walked up to Prosak and leaned in toward her ear. “Trust me.”

“Um…I’m not sure I can.”

Jim sighed, stared up at the bridge ceiling. “All right, then, Miss Prosak, since you wear the captain’s pants, what do you suggest we do?”

“Well,” Prosak said, a bit taken aback, looking around at the expectant gazes of the bridge officers. “I think we need to go about this whole thing a bit…differently.”

“You mean differently than the captain ordered you to?” questioned Arroyo.

Prosak frowned. “I would not have worded it that way, but if you wish, yes. We are going to be…diverting a bit…from the captain’s plans. We are going to find a way home.”

Jim folded his arms and smiled. “And if your Commander Prosak’s plan fails, then we’re going to try it my way and blow stuff up.”

“Does anyone have a problem with this course of action?” asked Prosak.

The crew glanced around at one another. In a way, Prosak felt sorry for them. They were all low-rank, many junior officers not long out of the Academy. They had no other answer programmed in their little Starfleet heads other than “yes.”

Nobody said a word. Not Neville and Brand–certainly not Yonk, who only smiled. Arroyo turned around and faced the viewscreen, not looking at all pleased.

Prosak folded her hands primly and hopped up into the command chair, Jim at her side. “Very well, then. We shall proceed. Mister Neville, begin searching for M-class, warp-capable worlds. When you have found one, have Mister Arroyo make best course and speed for that world. Until then, I will be in my readyroom–I mean, my quarters. Mister Yonk, you have the bridge.”

Yonk made an excited grunt and toddled over to the command chair. He made a tiny jump, but it wasn’t even enough to reach the chair arms.

“Mister Arroyo,” Yonk snapped. “Please pick me up and put me in the command chair.”

Arroyo turned around in his chair at helm and glared at Yonk. “You’ve GOT to be kidding.”

“I gave you an order, Mister.”

“You’re an Ensign.”

“I’m also in command, Mister!”

“I’m a lieutenant j.g.,” Kyle Brand said quietly from engineering.

“We weren’t talking to you!” Yonk snapped at Brand. “Arroyo, pick me up and put me in that command chair!”

“Fine! Just shut up!” Arroyo walked over to Yonk, grabbed him by the back of his uniform shirt, and effortlessly plunked the tiny Ferengi roughly into the command chair. “Enjoy your sit, CAPTAIN.” And Arroyo headed steamily back to the helm.

“Capt…Jim, far be it from me to question your programming, but I must admit I am confused,” Prosak said, pacing her quarters as Jim stood there looking at her placidly.

“How so?” asked Jim.

“You are suggesting battle, where diplomacy would seem to be more your forte.”

“And why would you say that?”

“Because you are the Emergency Diplomatic Hologram.”

“Oh, I see where you might have been confused by that title.”

“What is there to be confused about? You are a DIPLOMATIC hologram!”

“Yes, yes, it would seem that way, wouldn’t it?”

“This is SOOOOOOOOO not logical,” Prosak said, and stood up. “Your program is obviously defective. I’m going to have to deactivate you and have the whole thing analyzed when we get back to the Federation.”

“A wise choice,” Jim said. “But before you deactivate me, you may want to do something about that awful brown stain on the front of your uniform.”

“The what?” asked Prosak, looking down at her uniform.

“Right…THERE!” Jim said, and swung his joined fists into the back of Prosak’s neck like a hammer. Prosak dropped to the deck like a sack of Romulan farva roots.

“There’s a nerve pinch for you.” Jim clicked his tongue as he stared down at the prone Romulan. “It’s not really my way to hit a woman, but you’re a Romulan so I’ll make an exception.”

Jim knelt and plucked the commpip off Prosak’s uniform. “You won’t be needing this, now, will you?” He glanced around the quarters. “Nice place you have here, by the way, Prosak. Lots of greens. Lots of pictures of nice Romulan vistas. What would you call this? Early Praetorian?”

Prosak groaned and rolled over. “Wha…who…how?”

Jim sighed. “Tsk tsk. Now, Prosak. I need you to just do me the favor of keeping your fat Romulan trap shut long enough for me to take over this ship and get it back to the Federation. Can you manage that?”


“That’s a girl. Computer,” Jim said, and suddenly his voice sounded exactly like Prosak’s. “Recognize Prosak, Commander, Authorization Lambda Tau 443.”

“Authorization Accepted.”

“The command staff has been incapacitated. Follow emergency protocols and transfer all command codes to the Emergency Diplomatic Hologram.”

Prosak grunted, grabbing the end of her couch, shaking her head groggily. What emergency protocols? What would the computer do now? And how did that damned hologram know her authorization? Suddenly she remembered exactly what the computer was programmed to do as she heard a slight hiss coming from the air vents and felt every muscle in her body going dead….

“And how are we today?”

Tovar frowned through the transparent aluminum of the glass tube Nooney had stuck him in. “How on Yyns do you think I am? I’m floating in a tube like a cursed science experiment. Is all this REALLY necessary?”

“It most certainly is!” Nooney responded, looking hurt that Tovar would even suggest his method was substandard. “I need to be able to get all around you to scan the squiggling little bundles of joy growing inside…or should I say outside of you! I can’t very well have you lay down on a metabed, can I?”

Tovar grumbled something unintelligible. “I feel like an imbecile floating around in here.”

“Well that’s hardly my fault, is it?” Nooney tittered. “It wasn’t me who decided to go around diddling every alien he came across, was it?”

“I…I didn’t…she…that squid woman took advantage of me!”

“Oh, likely story Mister Tovar,” Nooney said, circling the naked Yynsian and studying the magnifications and readouts on the transparent aluminum he was encased in. “That’s what they all say.”

“I don’t need to justify myself to you.” Tovar could barely stand the injustice of this. He was developing a healthy hatred for Nooney. So healthy a hatred, in fact, that Totap was lingering just beyond the lid of his subconscious, ready to pop out and devise a contraption out of a hypospray and a toothpick that would permanently put Nooney out of commission.

“Ooh, this is interesting!” Nooney said, oblivious to Tovar, as he glanced over the peach-sized lumps all over Tovar. “Ooh, these little guys are coming along quite nicely. And oh, what SHARP teeth they have!”

Tovar shuddered. “Doctor, why don’t you kindly DROP DEAD.”

And, quite obediently, Doctor Fred Nooney collapsed to the floor of sickbay, eyes rolled up into the back of his head, a stupid grin on his face.

Tovar’s eyes went wide. “Sweet Provider, I didn’t mean it literally!”

Captain’s Log,

Supplemental. Ahh, computer, the winds are finally changing! We have but to rendezvous with the Anomaly, and we will be on our way to locating Cabral and getting out of this blasted galaxy!

“What do you MEAN she’s not there?” Bain demanded, scooting out of the command chair and striding the length of the bridge to face the small viewscreen that looked out on…

…well, nothing.

“Just that, Captain,” Brazzell said softly. “She’s not out there.”

“Are you sure we’ve got the right place?” Bain looked at Randall, who manned helm.

“These ARE the coordinates, sir,” Randall said. “I’m sure of it.”

Bain glanced at Brazzell. “Extend our sensors to full reach, Lieutenant. Find my ship.”

Brazzell nodded and got busy at his panel.

“And for providence sake, get Marsden and Kasyov up here!”

“This…what do you call it…it’s exquisite.”

“Borsht. It’s a naughty pleasure.” Natalia Kasyov traced her finger in tiny circles around the table in the Navigator’s tiny mess hall, glancing from time to time at the light that glinted off Balpar’s massive forehead. Kasyov had suggested that Cranius go check on Loborus, giving her and Balpar a little time to be alone.

“That’s a beautiful name,” Balpar said as he stuffed the red…well, whatever it was, in his mouth. “Borsht. Just delicious.”

“You’re a sensual man, Balpar,” Kasyov said. She gently pushed the borsht bowl away. “Listen. I have something to confess to you…” She stared down at the table. “This isn’t easy. I’ve never been good at this.” She giggled. “I’m so nervous. I shouldn’t be nervous.”

“We have to take our chances when we have them,” Balpar said, taking Kasyov’s hands. “These are troubled times.”

“But you’re just the man to lead your people out of them.”

“I hope so, but then that was what I said about Dodohed. Obviously I was wrong. But the Associates plans must be stopped.”

“What are they trying to do?” Kasyov asked. Truth be told, she still hadn’t quite gotten a handle on the Associates.

“They rampage across the galaxy, conquering species right and left, and then categorizing them. The Kelvans used to be a proud race, but now all they do is dehydrate people into little blocks, transport them from place to place, then rehydrate them. They’ve been categorized. The Kelvans transport people, the Tenclons work as clerical help…”

“What about the Pulsans?” Kasyov asked.

“They want our brains.”

“As scientists?”

“No,” Balpar said darkly. Before he cold elaborate, the doors to the mess hall opened, and Lieutenant Marsden poked her head in.

“Doctor Kasyov, Mister Balpar!” Marsden exclaimed, a sly smile spreading across her face. “Why I sure do hope I’m not interrupting anything you two might be doing…or thinking of doing as the case may be!”

Kasyov glared back at Marsden. “We are doing nothing whatsoever, SHELLY. What could you POSSIBLY want?”

“Just thought you’d like to know. The Anomaly’s nowhere to be found.”

Kasyov whirled in her chair. “What do you mean, ‘nowhere to be found.’”

“I mean she either got destroyed, or sidetracked with an emergency, or else…”

Kasyov stood up. “Prosak.”

“We have to get to the bridge,” Marsden said. “Something you’d have heard about, if you hadn’t turned off your commpip.”

“Whoops,” Kasyov said sheepishly, looking at Balpar. “How could that have happened?”

“I tried to tell them the sub-dermal communicators were worth another try!” Marsden snapped. “You just need to find the right place to stick it.”

“I’ll tell you where you can stick it,” muttered Kasyov.

“What’s that?”

“I said, I’ll be right with you!” Kasyov said, suddenly cheery. She turned to Balpar. “I’m sure there’s just a little navigational mixup.”

“Captain Bain is sending your fleet on ahead,” Marsden said. “Do you want us to beam you over?”

“I’d rather stay here,” Balpar said, his gaze never leaving Kasyov.

“And I need to get to the bridge,” Kasyov said. “But we’ll get together later. For now, go down to Science Lab Two and go talk to Loborus. I’m sure he misses you.”

“Good idea. And where is this Lab Two?”

“It’s hard to miss. We’ve only got two labs on the whole ship.”

“I’ll manage,” Balpar said as he headed out the door.

“You sure do like them big,” Marsden commented once Balpar was gone.

“He’s a very thoughtful man,” Kasyov replied.

“I should hope so…but I bet he’s hell to sit behind in a theater.”

“And that would be the end of this conversation,” Kasyov snapped, striding out of the mess hall.

“Oh yeah. She’s got it bad,” Marsden said smiling to herself.

The hologram in the image of Jim Kirk pranced out onto the Anomaly’s bridge feeling pretty good about himself.

In one fell swoop, he’d taken over a vessel and incapacitated her entire crew.

Quite an achievement, even for someone with the illustrious career of one Captain James T. Kirk.

But then again, this hologram wasn’t James Kirk. Just a representation of him. But a good representation. Maybe too good. Certainly one that had far too much Jim Kirk and far too little of the other great diplomats of the Federation.

That Sarek bit of his program was quite annoying. He’d managed to suppress him, though, and all his nagging, and that of all the others. Now it was just him. Just Jim.

And unlike the old Jim Kirk, the so-called “real one,” this Jim was a hologram. Unstoppable. Phaserproof. In command of what was probably the most advanced vessel of the time. And this time it’d take a hell of a lot more than dropping a bridge on him to put him out of commission.

Sure, he’d have to find a way out of Andromeda, but how hard could that really be?

Jim laughed gaily as he tossed the tiny unconscious Ferengi out of the command chair and sat down.

“Computer,” he said, feeling quite comfortable in the chair after all. “Lay in a new course. Second star to the left…and straight on till morning.”

“What?” replied the computer.

“Oh, hell with it. Just get me to the nearest Associates Base. Maximum warp. Let’s see if these folks are as scary as everyone says they are.”

“I’ve got a bead on her!” Kasyov suddenly said, bent over the science console. “Two two seven mark nine one one.”

“On screen,” Bain said, swiveling in his command chair. He winced as he saw the Starfleet symbol on the screen cutting through the computer-enhanced stars. “Heading right into the heart of Associates territory.”

“And going there fast, too,” Marsden said, looking over Kasyov’s shoulder.

“Can we overtake them?” Bain asked Marsden.

“If I permanently burn this engine into a melted, twisted hulk of misshapen…”

Bain cracked his knuckles. “Do it.”

Tovar had spent the last twenty minutes banging repeatedly on the damned bell jar Nooney had locked him into, but the doctor just wouldn’t wake up. Perhaps he WAS dead, after all.

He’d tried to get the computer to beam him out, or get it to respond in any way about what was going on around the ship, but all it kept telling him was that command functions were locked out. The ship was under siege, and Tovar had a sinking feeling he knew who was at fault.

Tovar could see Nurse Ih’vik and Ensign Samms passed out in the adjacent waiting room. He briefly wondered if anyone on the ship was left conscious…or alive for that matter.

Then something occurred to Tovar. Something gut- wrenching and horrifying, even considering the state of things at the moment.

“Computer…” he said gravely. He really hated this. “Activate Steve.”

“No such program is on file.”

Tovar winced. “Computer…” He gritted his teeth. “Activate…STEVE!”

“Hey hey hey!” came a voice from behind him, over the examination tube’s intercom system. “Who needs a little cheering up?” It was him. That loud orange suit, and even louder neon orange tie with all the blinking lights. It was like death.

Tovar grimaced. “Steven, I need your help. This ship has been overtaken by some unknown force.” He HOPED it was unknown. “I need you to help me retake it.”

“Ah, I see!” Steve! said, grinning. “You want to have a little roleplaying game. But to do that, you probably need to get out of that silly tube.” Steve! studied the tube. “And, come to think of it, you may need some clothes.”

“Good thinking, Steve,” Tovar said. “You’re going to help me do that, right?”

“Sure thing! I’m here to make your day THIS MUCH BETTER!” Steve! made an expansive gesture with his hands.

“If we succeed, that is exactly how much better my day will be, Steve,” Tovar said, as Steve! went to work at the controls to the examination tube.

“And who are you exactly?” First Overseer Wooooohaaaaaaa said, blinking his slit-like triangular eyes at Jim.

“Commander of the U.S.S. Anomaly, James T. Kirk.”

“Funny. Our records disagree. They show Captain Reginald Bain as the current commander of that vessel.”

“There was a…change in leadership,” Jim said. “I’m the new kid in town.”

“You’ll need to fill out the proper forms. We’ll transport the first ream over momentarily.”

“Thanks,” Jim said.

“Now…” Wooooohaaaaaaa said, leaning forward over his desk. “What exactly is it I can help you with? Regulations state I can only talk to you for three point five minutes.”

“That’s really all I need to get my tri-dolemide device ready and locked onto you.”

“Come again?”

“Have a nice day.” Jim thumbed a control on his command chair, cutting the channel, then another control, launching said tri- dolemide device. Finally, he brought up an outside view of the Associates space station. A twinkling yellow ball smashed into it, blasting a chunk out of their hull.

“We are being hailed,” the computer said dryly.

“No kidding,” Jim said. “Let them eat static. Ready another device.”

“We just launched something…bigger than a neutron torp….maybe a tri-dolemide device,” Tovar said, cocking his head at the sounds.

He said this as he stumbled down the corridor, Steve! at his heels, as he dragged on his anti-gravity pants and shirt–clothing designed to keep Tovar from smashing the little squidlings growing on him as he went about his daily business, which, on this day, seemed to be the task of re-gaining control of the ship.

“You can tell we launched something just by listening?” Steve! asked, obviously impressed.

“It’s a tac-ops officer thing. Now the question is, who the heck are we firing at, and who’s at the controls?”

“A hologram,” Steve! said simply, prompting Tovar to skid to a halt and whirl on Steve!

“How do you know that?”

“Because I’m a hologram. I’m aware of all the holograms running on this system. The chef, for instance, is currently making ratatouille.”

“Sounds delicious,” Tovar said. “What’s the other one doing?”


Tovar resisted the urge to strike Steve! He knew the holo wouldn’t feel it. “THE ONE THAT HAS CONTROL OVER THE BLASTED SHIP!”

“Oh. He’s preparing to fire another volley, and taking us into evasive action because other ships are–”

Suddenly the Anomaly rattled and Tovar slammed into the ground. Only his anti-grav clothes prevented the impact from smashing his little squiddies.

“WHO IS HE?” demanded Tovar, rising to his feet. “And WHO’S FIRING ON US?”

“Emergency Diplomatic Hologram,” Steve! replied easily. “And it’s the Associates. Anything else?”

“Not for now,” Tovar replied. “Good job, though.”

“I live to serve!”

“Obviously.” Tovar scrambled to his feet as another blast hit, sending him to the deck, and causing the lights–and Steve!–to flicker.

“Uh-oh,” Steve! said. “They compromised the hull in two places.”

“Lovely,” Tovar said, and once again picked himself up. “Wait a second. Can you stop this…this Emergency Diplomatic Hologram…wait, wait, I have an even better question: Why on Yyns is the Emergency Diplomatic Hologram in control of this vessel and using it to blow up scores of our enemies?”

“I’m afraid that second part is a question best left to the programmers,” Steve! said. “As for deactivating the illustrious EDH, I’m afraid there’s only one way to do that. The primary holographic junction on the Twenty-Seventh Deck.”

“That’s the bottom of the ship!”


“Listen, I may not have time to get down there and pull the plug. I need you to transfer yourself down there. Can you do that?”

“I’m afraid not, Mister Tovar. I can’t self-terminate.”

“What good are you then?”

“She’s WHAT?” Bain demanded, as the Navigator sailed into the system wherein the Anomaly was located.

“Taking quite a beating from Associates vessels,” Brazzell said, studying his tactical readouts. “On the upside, she is dolling out quite a punch to that space-station. One or two more hits and the space station will be space dust. Of course, one or two more hits and one could say the same for the Anomaly.”

“Get a channel open to them,” Bain said. “Post-haste!”

“No response,” Marsden said, tapping at a panel beside Brazzell’s.

“Broadband, Brazzell,” Bain said.

“Go,” said Brazzell.

“This is Captain Reginald Bain to all Associate vessels. Greetings! I hope you are well. Please don’t destroy my ship. It’s under the control of madmen. Just allow me to pick it up, and I assure you we’ll be on our way, never to trouble you again!”

“We’re getting a response,” Brazzell said.

“Thank goodness,” said Kasyov.

“Well, on screen!” said Bain.

“It’s not a verbal response. They’re responding by sending a wing of their ships over to intercept us, weapons-hot!”

“Damn it!” Marsden snapped.

“Great sticky-wickets!” cried Bain. “Get the cloak up, NOW!”

“It’s up,” Marsden said. “But I don’t know how long we can hold it, or anything else for that matter. As anticipated, we fragged the engines to within an inch of their lives just getting here this quick.”

“Helm, alter course so they can’t track our last position,” Bain said.

“Then what?” Kasyov demanded.

Bain steepled his fingers and stared at the viewscreen. “We wait.”

“For what?” asked Marsden.

Bain’s smile was tiny. “For Tovar.”

“Hope I was some good after all, showing you the quickest way down and all,” Steve! said sheepishly, hovering beside Tovar as he huffed his way down the ladder, weighed down by a satchel of neutron charges and the space suit he’d donned. The EDH had already flooded the ship with neurozine. No telling what he’d try if Tovar attempted to put him out of commission.

“I have the ship’s crawlspaces memorized, but thanks for the sentiment, Steve. You’re not all that bad a guy, after all.”

As Tovar made the slow climb downwards, the decks stretched for lightyears in both directions. They all seemed to run together after the first five or six. He had no earthly idea how soon he’d reach the bottom..

“This is just way too much for a man in my condition,” Tovar muttered.

“What’s this now?” Jim said, staring at a blip on the viewscreen as he threw every bit of the Anomaly’s weaponry at the Associates’ base, while ordering the ship to evade as much enemy fire as was possible.

But the new thing that concerned him most was the proximity alarm. There was a lifesign aboard, and his sensors were telling him automatically that he was getting close to the primary holographic junction.

How could that be? Hadn’t he told the computer to knock out the crew with neurozine?

Jim frowned. “Well, if you want a job done right…” He headed for the door to the bridge, then said…“Computer, get us out of here, maximum warp. We’ve done enough damage. It’s time to work on the PR aspects. Get some other races behind us, then plunge through to the core of the Associates’ empire and pick up that wayward brain Prosak told me about. That’ll get us home, and may finally get me the respect I deserve from Starfleet.”

“I should point out I’m just a computer, and all this exposition is wasted on me.”

“Just transfer my program down to the main holo-junction, okay?”

“Whatever you say, Captain Insane-O.”

“They’re leaving?” Bain asked. “Randall, match course and set speed to overtake. We’ve got to keep pace with them.”

Suddenly, and to Bain, overdramatically, Marsden was standing right in front of him, arms folded.

“Need I remind you, these engines are minutes from boiling over, Captain?”

Truth be told, Bain could hear the Navigator’s warp engines whining. “Hold us together just a bit longer, Marsie. I need to get my ship back.”

“We’re sure not to get it back if we blow up, sir.”

“Calculate EXACTLY how much engine we have left, Marsie, and set a countdown. We’ll shut ‘em off if the countdown reaches zero. Otherwise, I have to at least ATTEMPT to get that ship back.”

“Fine,” Marsden said. “But you realize, I’m leaving NO margin for error!”

“I trust you implicitly, Lieutenant.”

Kasyov sighed. “Glad somebody does.” Marsden glared at her. “A joke, Shelly. It’s just a joke!”

“WHO the HELL are YOU?” James Tiberius Kirk demanded, standing between Tovar and the glittering edifice of twinkling lights that was the primary holo-junction of the Anomaly.

“I was about to ask you the same question.” The space- suited Tovar folded his arms. “If you’ll excuse me, I just need to get right behind you . Just some routine maintenance. It’ll take only a minute.”

“You can forget about it,” Jim snapped. “I know JUST what you’re up to, and it won’t work.”

“Why are you so angry?” Steve! asked, next to Tovar.

“And just who the f*** are you?” Jim snarled, looking Steve! over with distaste. “Why, you’re a disgrace to all holo- kind.”

“And you are a grade-A psycho!” Tovar said.

“That’s RIGHT!” Steve! said supportively.

“Fine, I’ll destroy both of you,” Jim mumbled, and reached a transparent hand right through Tovar’s space suit, past squid babies, and deep into his chest. “If you’ll excuse me, I just have a little routine maintenance…” Tovar felt Jim’s solidifying fingers wriggling around in his innards. He pulled back, but Jim held on tight.

“Steve! Do something!” Tovar gasped.

“Oh! Of course!” In an instant, a straw hat and cane appeared on Steve!’s head and in his hands respectively.

“Five foot two, eyes are blue,

But oh what those five feet can do.

Has anybody seen my gal?”

Jim’s grip on Tovar’s insides relaxed as the holographic Starfleet hero turned to watch Steve! sing and dance around. Jim’s face twisted with horror.

“What are you doing?” he demanded.

“Come on, Mister Grumpy-Photons,” Steve! cooed. “Give us a smile!”

“I’m going to give you a kick to the teeth!” Jim spat, pushing Tovar aside.

“He’s not seeming very entertained,” Steve! commented. “Hmmph! I know what will get him.”

“Oh when the saints,

Go marching in!

Oh when the saints go…


Jim launched forward with his patented too-footed, drop kick, smashing into Steve! and sending both holograms tumbling to the deck. They both quickly scrambled to their feet.

“You messed up my song! We’ll see about that, you naughty naughty man!” shrieked Steve!, who dove at Jim and tackled him to the ground in a festival of sparkles and light.

Tovar leaned against a bulkhead to recover from Jim’s attack, watching, disbelievingly, as the two holograms stood, circled each other like prize fighters, punched, evaded, skipped to the side, dove and wrangled.

“Hope you’re being entertained!” Steve cried as Jim tossed him through a bulkhead.

“Exceedingly,” Tovar replied as he pulled one of the explosives out of his pack. The transparent Steve! came barreling back through the bulkhead, driving straight through Jim, leaving a hole in the former captain’s midsection.

“Why, you…” Jim made his midsection solidify again, then pounded Steve! with relentless fists. Tovar stopped for a moment just to enjoy the site of the annoying entertainment hologram getting pounded, but the Yynsian had to admit that Steve! was doing a great job of distracting Jim by being pummeled by him.

“The things I do for my public,” Steve! cried.

“Bravo! Great performance!” shouted Tovar as he flung a disc-shaped neutron charge at the wall of holo-controlling lights. It stuck. “But it’s time to say ‘Good Night,’ Steve!”

“Good Night, Steve!” Steve! exclaimed as Tovar ducked into the nearest office and pumped the door closed. He winced as seconds later an explosion rumbled outside.

As the blast subsided, he looked around in the cramped office. Didn’t seem familiar. Wasn’t on the ship’s specs for sure.

An ensign was passed out at his tiny desk, his head lying on a little padd.

Tovar picked up the padd and paged through it. “Chief Comptroller, huh?” Tovar asked, looking down at the unconscious crewmember. “Says here you keep track of the ship’s supplies and equipment, although you have no administrative authority whatsoever. Doesn’t sound familiar at…at…” Tovar’s eyes glazed. Something awoke in him, and a far-off voiced whispered the word “Inventory” in his brain.

And, for reasons unknown to him, Tovar slammed the padd against the inert ensign’s head and walked out.

Balpar paced back and forth across Science Lab Two (not that there was much room to pace in the tiny room which was also occupied by Loborus in his brine tank and Cranius, who’d somehow managed to scrounge up a cargo container to use as seating) as he listened to the Navigator strain all around them.

“I should be helping them,” Balpar said.

“We could call back the fleet,” Cranius said.

“I never should have let them go in the first place,” Balpar said. “I’ve put a woman ahead of the movement. What kind of resistance leader am I?”

“Ours, I guess,” Cranius said.

“But I should be on our ships commanding our fleet instead of sitting here waiting for Natalia. I know that once they find that Cabral, she’ll be gone.”

“Is Cabral here?” Loborus asked. “I don’t sense him.”

“Wait a moment,” Balpar said. “You can sense this Cabral?”

“No. I can’t sense him.”

“But could you if he were here?”

“If he was here I wouldn’t need to sense him, silly,” Loborus said.

Balpar took several deep breaths as he formulated a simple way to say this. “If Cabral were nearby, but you couldn’t see him, could you sense him?”

“Of course. He’s one of my kind.”

“Fantastic!” Balpar said.

“Will this Cabral help us resist?” Cranius asked.

“No, but finding him will make Natalia happy.”

“But then you said she’d leave,” Cranius said confused.

Balpar pondered this a moment. Did he use the knowledge at his command to help Natalia find Kasyov and risk losing her forever? Or did he hide that information from her, keeping her near him but created a horrible secret in the process?

“I can find Cabral,” Loborus said all of a sudden.

“You can!” Natalia Kasyov exclaimed. She’d entered the science lab unbeknownst to Balpar as he debated his personal ethics. Loborus had just taken care of that dilemma, though.

“We think so,” Balpar said.

Kasyov rushed over and wrapped her arms around Balpar. “Thank you! You have no idea what this means.”

“Actually, I believe I do,” Balpar said softly.

“Hey!” Loborus protested. “I’m the one who can find Cabral. Why don’t I get a hug?”

“Oh, come here you big lump of neurons,” Cranius said, wrapping himself around the tank as best he could.

Captain’s Log,

Stardate 175241.4. The past few days have been spent cleaning up, both aboard ship and in the grander sense.

Aboard ship, we’ve had both the situation of battle damage to the Anomaly and severe engine damage to the Navigator. The Navigator’s problems should be fixed in a jif, but the Anomaly’s situation is far more severe. While I understand that he had to do it to stop the rampaging Jim Kirk hologram, Tovar also managed to take out every holographic system on the ship. That means no holochef, no holopods, and no Steve!

In addition, we have a ship full of knocked-out crewmembers to wake up and debrief. One poor lad fell unconscious right in his soup. Luckily he’d left one nostril exposed, or, well…I shudder to think. It was minestrone.

At any rate, we have spoken with the Associates, and they assure us that a mark of death has been placed on our heads for the whole mix-up with the blowing up of parts of their space station and whatnot. I explained our situation, and they gave me a lot of “avoid the mark of death” forms to fill out. Hope I fill them out right.

If only there was a “get Cabral back” form. In the meantime, we’ll have to hope that this Loborus can point us in the right direction.

Speaking of, we are on our way to rejoin Mister Balpar’s rebels so that we can plot the retrieval of our sorely-missed brain.

All that’s left is a nasty little bit of discipline, and honestly, I have no idea where to even begin…

“You’re suspended from active duty, effective immediately,” Bain said flatly, as Prosak sat calmly on the couch in her quarters, taking in his words. “Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. It’s been hectic.”

“I can imagine,” Prosak said distantly.

Bain sat down beside Prosak. “Make no mistake, Prosak, I don’t do this gladly. You’re a good X.O., and I’m proud to serve with you. But you’ve made it very hard to keep trusting you.”

Prosak nodded. “I did explain to you in detail Admiral Larkin’s orders regarding the Emergency Diplomatic Hologram.”

“Yes, you did. And I have words for Larkin, believe me, I do. But this is about you and me, lass. A captain and first officer…well, that’s a sacred relationship.”

“I understand that, Captain.”

“You and I have been through a lot in our short time together. And I know we haven’t always agreed. But you didn’t just question my orders, you violated them. Now, sad to say, I’m going to have to remove you from the roster until I can trust you again.”

“Can you give me an estimate as to when you will return me to active duty?”

Bain turned to face the door. His not looking at Prosak was…unnerving. “Hard to say. Certainly not until we return to the Milky Way.”

“And if we never do?”

“We will, Prosak. Trust me on that, we will.”

“I do trust you, sir. And I am sorry, for what it’s worth.”

Bain turned to smile at Prosak. “It’s a start.”

“I’m still having headaches,” Ensign Yonk said from his perch on the meta-bed as Nooney looked him over.

Nooney nodded. “That hologram must have tossed you around like a rag doll.”

“He must have gotten to me too,” Chief Comptroller Martin Kawafura said, rubbing his head sitting at the metabed next to Yonk’s. “And someone really banged up this padd.” He held up his equipment list. “Not only is it dented, but it’s giving me this strange error message…like it’s full of errant data or something.”

“I’m sure I can’t help you there, Ensign,” Nooney sighed. “But I’ll have a look at that head.”

“Something wrong, Doc?” Kawafura asked as Nooney looked him over with the medcorder lens.

“I lost a friend,” Nooney said, then broke into sobs and dashed off. “Oh, Steeeeeeeeeve!”

“Go ahead, cry like a little shazaart!” snapped Nurse Ih’vik from her desk by Nooney’s office as he ran sobbing into it.

“Let me see that padd,” Yonk said, snatching the defective accessory from Kawafura and looking it over. “Hmm. Know what I’d do? I’d toss this piece of junk and get a new one.”

“Can’t do it,” said Kawafura. “It’s on the inventory. I have to account for it. I’ll just work through the bugs.”

“Those bugs might come back to bite you on the ass, you know.”

“I’ll risk it, thanks,” Kawafura said, and slid off the metabed. “Speaking of which, your quarters are up for inventory today.”

“Go to hell,” snapped Yonk, and Kawafura slunk dejectedly out of Sickbay, carrying with him a padd that contained a large chunk of evil, evil data.

“Damn it, Cabral, what do I do now?” Kasyov asked her empty quarters as she stared out at the streaking stars. Two wonderful brains and only one of her. The universe could be damn cruel at times.

Her doorchime bleeped, and she turned to face the door. “What?”

It was Balpar. “Natalia…why are you standing alone in the dark?”

Kasyov shrugged. “I was just…thinking.”

“Thinking about what?” Balpar asked, crossing Kasyov’s quarters in two easy strides, wrapping a protective arm around her.

“Oh, nothing.” Kasyov leaned her head on Balpar’s shoulder, feeling safe under the shade of that massive, massive head. “Nothing at all.”

Tags: boldly