Star Trek, in all its various forms, is the intellectual property of Gene Roddenberry, Paramount, CBS and various other people that I don't want to be sued by. Granted, Roddenberry has passed on, but Paramount is still scary. Star Traks was created by Alan Decker, with spin-offs by various people. Star Traks: Silverado is the property of me, so I'm not really worried about suing myself for spinning-off my spin-off. Wait...what?

Author: Brendan Chris
Copyright: 2011

Acting Captain’s Log, Stardate 59365.7:


“It’s been over a week now since the Roadrunner was stranded in this region of space. We’ve continued travelling back towards the Federation while scanning for a habitable planet where we can put down and make repairs. Or even better, a friendly civilization with a spare docking bay and a few tons worth of spare parts.”

“Crew morale is low, if you can really call the twenty-six people on this ship a crew. I of course am unaffected, but there does seem to be a lot of…unusual behaviour taking place. In an effort to dispel this, Dr. Strobnik and I have prepared an educational video that we are certain will be helpful,”


“Oh boy!” Lt. Rex Boxer said happily, “We get to watch a movie? I LOVE MOVIES!”

“The dog is easily amused,” Lt. Laarthi said to Lt Mytim, who was only now grasping that sitting between the two aliens wasn’t a smart move.

“What I don’t understand,” Mytim said, hoping to change the subject, “Is why they had to make their own instructional video from scratch. They could have just briefed us. Or better yet, use one of the pre-prepared videos in our compute library,”

“Starfleet made videos just for ships trapped in space?” Laarthi asked, curious.

“Yes. One by the crew of the USS Voyager entitled ‘Deep Voyages: The Delta Quadrant,” Mytim replied.

“That sounds boring and contrived,” Laarthi said.

“It was,” Mytim agreed, picking dog hair off her uniform and flicking it back in Boxer’s general direction, “Exceptionally. There’s also the video done by the crew of the USS Aerostar entitled, ‘AHH, We’re All Gonna Die!’.”

“Funny name,” Boxer remarked.

“I hear the video itself is hilarious…though entirely inappropriate,” Mytim replied.

“Let’s watch it later! Can we? Can we? Please?”

At that moment the lights went down and an image of Lt. Cmdr Virgii and Dr. Strobnick appeared on the screen near the front of the Roadrunner’s cramped dining hall.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Virgii said, holding himself perfectly straight, one hand held in front of his chest, ready to enunciate any key points he felt needed enunciating hand-waving, “I know our situation seems grim, nay, nearly hopeless. But I’ve been in this situation before, and let me tell you, it could be far, far worse,”

“Is this supposed to cheer us up?” somebody behind Mytim wondered.

“He’s been in this situation before?” Boxer wondered.

“Lt. Cmdr Virgii was an Ensign aboard the USS Aerostar,” Laarthi cut in, leaning over Mytim, who cringed away from the cat hairs that immediately started falling on her uniform, “According to his personal file, he prefers not to admit it. He just says he’s been lost in space before, then hopes people assume he means Voyager,”

“Wasn’t the Aerostar the ship that was nearly destroyed?” Boxer asked. He was a bit behind on the briefing files Starfleet Intelligence had given Laarthi and himself prior to departing. “The ship that lost half its crew? The ship that accidentally lured the Borg into destroying a whole civilization?”

“Now you see why he doesn’t like to talk about it,” Laarthi nodded, easing back into her seat.

“-most important thing,” Virgii was saying, “is strong leadership! A ship in our situation needs somebody who can make the hard choices! Who can make a quick decision! It was a lack of that firm, decisiveness that hurt us so badly on the Ae…er, the last time this happened!”

Boxer’s tongue was hanging out, and his head began dropping.


Twenty minutes later…


“And so,” Dr. Strobnick was saying, “By harvesting Jovian planets with the Bussard collectors, we expect to extend our deuterium supply almost indefinitely. Anti-deuterium of course remains an issue. Can anybody recall the quantum transformation steps for antimatter generation?”

“ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz…..”

“He’s going to drool on me!” Mytim squeaked, trying to move as far away from Boxer as she could.

“Better you than me,” Laarthi didn’t even look over, instead casting her eyes over the Roadrunner’s crew and trying to evaluate who might be worth speaking to later.

“Bridge to Lt. Cmdr Virgii,” the comm sounded.

“Thank God,” someone muttered.

“This is Captain Virgii,” Virgii replied, pausing the video, “We’ve already discussed proper naval tradition, have we not?”

“We’re picking up signs of an advanced civilization in one of the star systems ahead,” the duty officer reported, ignoring Virgii’s remark, “We’ve already been targeted with subspace email spam, so they’re probably equivalent to mid or late 23rd Century Earth.”

“Alter course to investigate,” Virgii said, “I’ll be up as soon as I finish this briefing. Virgii out.”

He returned his attention to the dining hall, only to find it completely empty.

“Ingrates,” he muttered.


With the briefing over, Lt. Laarthi returned to her new role as the Roadrunner’s Chief Engineer. She stepped into Main Engineering, barely more than a small room containing the warp core, power conduits and several large and complicated-looking consoles. Laarthi ignored the blinking panels and instead moved to the space beneath the glowing power transfer conduits. In the empty space formed between the conduits and the warp core, Laarthi had setup a low, broad planter-box filled with dirt. Inside, several tiny sprouts were already taking form.

“Yes!” she said happily, “Grow, my pretties! Grow!”

Lt. Laarthi was an avid nature-lover. At her last posting, she’d completely taken over the arboretum, slaving painstakingly over every tree, bush and flower, to the point where other crewmembers had started avoiding the place, just so they wouldn’t have to listen to a half-hour recitation on why exactly the orchids were blooming brighter than the tulips. The Roadrunner was too small for an arboretum, but dammit, she was going to do whatever she could!

“Lt. Laarthi, this is Ensign Riks. Um, we’ve got some weird smells on Deck 3 that I thought I should report,”

Laarthi tapped her comm-badge.

“This is engineering, not maintenance,” she said, “Call somebody with a wet-vac! Laarthi out.”

She’d barely had time to drip nutrients from an eyedropper onto a sprouting aloe vera when the comm went off again, startling her enough to dump five times the recommended dosage on the tiny sprout.

“Uhh, Lt. Laarthi, on ships this size engineering IS maintenance,” Ensign Riks’ voice came back.

“Fine! I’m on my way!” Laarthi hissed.


Stalking down the short corridor, Laarthi fumed over the indignity of her position. She was an agent with Starfleet Intelligence, not a lowly grease monkey! Virgii was the engineer of the group, if anybody should be doing her job, it should be him! What’s more, with her agent experience, she’d be far better suited to a command role than that uptight Brit!

The second she stepped onto Deck 3, she picked up the smell. It was pungent, sort of musty. In fact, it smelled exactly like dog!

“BOXER!” she shouted, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING???”

No reply.

The smell was stronger ahead. Laarthi stalked towards the tiny open maintenance area that had been turned into Boxer’s temporary quarters. Sure enough, she found the Sheppian standing next to the workbench he’d turned into a bed, carefully spraying the corridor wall with an old-fashioned squirt bottle.

“Over here is my space,” he muttered to himself, spraying a foot further up the corridor, “Right to about…here. And up here.”

Laarthi marched up and smacked the bottle out of his hands.

“STOP IT!” she snapped. She tried to further articulate her distaste, but found her words lacking. “Just…just…DON’T DO THAT!”

“But this is my space,” Boxer said, looking back at her, confused, “I don’t mind if other people go through it, but until my quarters are fixed it’s my space,”

“That’s disgusting!” Laarthi wrinkled her nose.

“It’s just a synthetic mix from the replicator,” Boxer said, retrieving the bottle, “All hygienic and Starfleet approved and all,”

“Oh really,” Laarthi’s tail swished, accidentally brushing against the wall. Boxer gulped, then immediately moved over and sprayed that section again.

Laarthi’s eyes narrowed.

“If you’ll excuse me,” she said coldly.

Two could play at this game…


The Roadrunner glided through space, her hull lit by the blazing disc of Wuyit, the star around which her destination orbited. The ship was small, only four decks, and barely had room for her crew of twenty-six people. The ship itself was unmistakable Federation, with a sleek, saucer-shaped main hull and twin warp nacelles. What made it unusual was the ring-nacelle that surrounded the aft quarter of the ship. Well, it mostly surrounded it; the lower third of the nacelle was missing due to a close encounter of the rocky moon kind.

The planet being approached, Wuyit IV, showed all the normal signs of being home to a warp-capable civilization. Small ships scurried around the solar system, intent on mining, transporting passengers or hauling cargo between a number of bases, extra-terrestrial (wuyestrial?) settlements and even a couple of M-class moons. A good-sized space station orbited the equator, and a network of communications and defensive satellites were evident.

“Open hailing frequencies,” Lt. Cmdr Virgii ordered from the center seat of the Roadrunner’s cramped bridge/cockpit.

Nothing happened.

Sitting ram-rod straight in his seat, Virgii looked around the bridge. Lt. Boxer was seated at the small tactical station, his eyes on the sensors and smelling like…like…what was that smell? Lt. Mytim was seated at the science console, likewise eyeing her sensors as she analyzed this unknown star system. Dr. Strobnick was at the engineering station, trying to explain over a comm-link just how Lt. Laarthi was supposed to reduce emissions from the quantum slipstream core. An ensign, one of the Roadrunner’s original crew, was seated at the helm. Outside the bridge windows, several menacing looking ships were starting to take an interest in the small Starfleet ship.

“Well? Isn’t one of you lot going to follow my orders?” Virgii demanded.

“I’m not controlling communications,” Mytim said immediately.

“Me neither,” Boxer said, “Oh, there’s some new ships coming to see us!” His tongue lolled out of his mouth, “I wonder what they smell like?”

Dr. Strobnick didn’t even look up from his console.

“Very well, I’ll handle it myself,” Virgii said. He started tapping at the compact control panel attached to the side of his chair. After a moment of beeps and bloops, the compact replicator at the rear of the bridge hummed to life, producing a café latte. A micro-tractor beam in the bridge ceiling hummed to life, plucking the drink from the replicator slot and depositing it neatly in the cup-holder attached to the command chair.

“Who would like to wager that he can’t repeat that little trick?” Mytim asked, still not looking up.

“Uh, those ships are baring their teeth…I mean, they’ve armed weapons,” Boxer said.

Virgii continued tapping at his console. This time, three large, rubbery wipers popped out of hidden slots outside each of the bridge windows and began briskly wiping.

“WILL SOMEBODY JUST DO IT FOR HIM BEFORE HE LAUNCHES A TORPEDO AND GETS US ALL KILLED???” Strobnick barked, rising to his feet, “And, speaking of, I’ll be in engineering trying to show a certain student how a quantum core works!”

As the lights went down and disco music started to play, Mytim turned to Virgii.

“Shall I do it for you?” she asked.

“No, I’ve got WHOAH!”

Virgii cried out in surprise as he found the ‘Klingon Massage’ button on the chair and was promptly catapulted to the floor.

“Please do,” he sighed.

“This is Lt. Mytim of the Federation starship Roadrunner,” Mytim said, speaking professionally to her console, “We come in…oh drat…Virgii! You made me chip a nail! I am SO going to make you pay for that!”

“They’re locking weapons on us!” Boxer yipped.

“Give me that!” Virgii said, pushing Mytim aside and sitting at her seat, “This is Captain Virgii of the Roadrunner. We’re on a peaceful mission of exploration, and are simply looking for a friendly harbour where we can conduct some minor repairs.”

“But we can still defend ourselves!” Boxer added from the back of the bridge.

Virgii closed his eyes and counted to five.

“We request permission to dock at your facilities, or the use of a landing zone on your planet,” Virgii continued.

The screen in front of him flickered, then a feathered alien appeared. His body was the standard bipedal form, however his arms were closer to wings. His beaked face was somewhat misleading, as he had a fairly normal mouth, complete with teeth. His nose, however, was more along the lines of Toucan Sam than anything else.

“I am Captain T’t’t’t of the Wuyan orbital defence force,” the feathered alien said, “You know, if you’d just answered our hails five minutes ago, we could have saved a lot of fuss,”

Virgii glanced briefly around the bridge. Boxer was baring his teeth at the image of the bird-man, Mytim was carefully filing the nail on her index finger and the helmsman was sinking lower into his seat, as if to pretend he didn’t exist.

“I will most certainly keep that under advisement, Captain,” Virgii said, trying to smile pleasantly.


The Roadrunner was given permission to dock at Obitus, the Wuyan central space station. Virgii tried not to feel claustrophobic as they entered the station; the open space doors passing the bridge windows as the Roadrunner eased in. Boxer started whimpering.

“This is not good,” he said, “We’re inside. It’s harder to get out when you’re inside. Harder to escape!”

“They’re perfectly friendly,” Virgii waved his hand, “If they wanted us unable to run, they would have disabled our engines, or something,”

“I’m posting guards by the airlocks!” Boxer said, “And somebody will be on duty on the bridge security station at all times! And…and…I want to chase the duckies!!!”

“Somebody doesn’t react well to pressure,” Mytim commented, carefully re-applying her mascara.

The bridge doors opened and Dr. Strobnick returned.

“We’ve masked emissions from the QS core,” he said, “To anybody scanning us, we should look like an ordinary, warp-only ship,”

“And why would you do that?” Virgii asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Strobnick gestured at the interior of the alien spacedock that now surrounded the ship, “We’re clearly decades ahead of them in advanced propulsion research. If they knew that, they might try to steal it?”

“You are being altogether too paranoid,” Virgii shook his head, “Have you not studied the adventures of Voyager or Aer…or that other ship? If they wanted us dead, they either would have tried to blow us up immediately, or right after we did something hostile and stupid,”

As he said that last word he looked around the bridge again. Mytim had opened a purse sitting next to her station and was comparing two different sizes of bra-pads while Boxer had pulled out a soup-bone and was worrying away at it with his teeth. The doors hissed open again and Lt. Laarthi stalked in.

“WHO LEFT THIS BALL OF YARN HANGING OUTSIDE MY QUARTERS?” she demanded, “That is NOT funny!”

“I stand corrected, Doctor,” Virgii sighed, “It was a wise precaution.”


Virgii, Strobnick and Boxer stepped through the small airlock at the very front of the Roadrunner’s main hull. The doors hissed shut, the guard Boxer had posted made himself comfortable, and Lt. Laarthi relaxed, secure in the knowledge that for the next hour or so, the Roadrunner would be rid of that obnoxious mutt.

Quickly returning to engineering, and let’s face it you can go anywhere quickly on a ship the size of the Roadrunner, Laarthi popped open a storage locker, removed a spray bottle loaded with Caithan-scented spray, and stepped over to the warp core.

“This is mine,’ she said, giving it a quick misting. She moved past her little planter box to the compact quantum slipstream core that powered the ring nacelle. “This is mine too,”

Within minutes, engineering was fully claimed. Now it was time to start expanding.


“We have a very long way to travel to get home,” Virgii was saying to Regent T’t’t’t’t, “We had a minor, er, navigational error and clipped an asteroid. We simply need some time and raw material to repair our ship, and we’ll be on our way,”

“And a new window for my room,” Boxer spoke up.

“Actually, the window is quite easy, we just need a place to install it,” Strobnick corrected him, “In fact, one of the laboratory experiments I designed involved-“

“Never mind them,” Virgii cut the doctor off.

“Your request isn’t difficult,” T’t’t’t’t said, looking over the supply list Virgii had given him, “I can have my Head Quartermaster, T’t’t, gather these supplies in a matter of hours,”

“Very good,” Virgii said, resisting the urge to ask about the name similarity, ‘We certainly do appreciate-“

“How do you name all six billion people on your planet if everybody’s name just has T’s?” Boxer asked curiously, “Is there some poor boy who’s name is T’t’t’t’t’t’t’t’t’t’t’t’t’t-“

“Here boy!” Virgii said suddenly, pulling out a MilkBone, “Who wants a treat?”

Boxer’s head snapped right around.

“Go get it!” he said, flinging the snack back towards the Roadrunner. Boxer immediately bolted after it.

“Cultural…tolerance,” Virgii said nervously, responding to the stare T’t’t’t’t and his people were giving him.

“Most interesting,” T’t’t’t’t said, “But as I was saying, the problem is not in obtaining the materials you want, the problem is the method of payment,”

“Oh,” Virgii swallowed, “Well, um, we do have a great deal of cultural information, starcharts, scientific knowledge that we might trade,”

“Our people have little interest in exploration or expansion,” T’t’t’t’t said, “We are content to remain in our home nest,”

“I guess you wouldn’t be interested in my recipe for bubble and squeak then,” Virgii muttered.

“Bubble and squeak?” T’t’t’t’t cocked his head in a very bird-like fashion, “Does it contain mice?”

“Um. No.”

“Then I’m afraid not,”

“Well then, what is it you want?” Virgii asked.

T’t’t’t’t and his group exchanged a glance.

“Would any of you be interested in assisting the less fortunate by performing tasks and providing services they otherwise would be unable to afford?” T’t’t’t’t asked, “In return, we will provide the materials you require.”

“Do what to the who now?” Boxer asked, gnawing away at the bone.

“They want us to do…volunteer work?” Virgii asked. T’t’t’t’t nodded.

“Where do we begin?”


An hour later, Boxer was standing at the station side of the airlock leading to the Roadrunner. His guard was in place, a dozen crewmembers had disembarked to volunteer down on the Wuyan planet and the first shipment of supplies had arrived. Lt. Laarthi and one of her engineers had looked over the pallet of duranium hull plates and structural spars, shrugged, then pulled it aboard the ship. The docking area assigned to the Roadrunner had been closed off from the main hanger bay by a series of retractable dividers then pressurized, and Dr. Strobnick was already guiding another group of crewmembers as they removed the damaged portions of the ring nacelle in preparation for repairs. All in all, the Roadrunner’s tiny crew was very busy.

As Laarthi returned to the ship, Boxer caught the whiff of a new scent. It was Caithan, no doubt about it, but it wasn’t the usual scent of Laarthi’s body odour. Noo, this was something different. Something…bad.

Quickly confirming that his guard was still in place, Boxer trotted back into the ship. His nose was sniffing frantically at the recycled air, trying to track the scent even as the Roadrunner’s air recyclers pulled it away. It was only a matter of minutes before he found himself at the security equipment storage locker. He keyed in his security code and nearly gagged. The forensic tools, the hazard suits, the face shields…all of it reeked of cat!

“Computer!” he demanded, “Who’s accessed this locker in the last hour?” Like he even needed to ask.

“Lt. Laarthi accessed this locker at 1426h,” the cold voice of the computer replied.

This would not stand! That cat was moving in on his territory, and it would not stand! Boxer rushed to the nearest cleaning closet, snatched a jug of disinfectant and went to work. It took nearly an hour of scrubbing, but soon the equipment smelled like nothing more than disinfectant spray. Sighing with relief, Boxer decided to head up to the bridge to run another security sweep.


Laarthi giggled to herself as she watched Boxer’s comm-badge beacon move from the Deck 3 corridor to the bridge. That had kept him busy for an hour. She twirled her scent-sprayer around her finger, wondering just what she could ‘claim’ next.

“Lt. Laarthi, the Wuyans have the plasma coil segments we requested,” Lt. Mytim commed from the airlock.

“Can’t you inspect them?” Laarthi asked, “I’m not actually an engineer, I don’t know what I’m looking for!”

“Regulations clearly state that the chief engineer must…oh no!”

“What?” Laarthi rushed out of engineering and towards the airlock, her Starfleet Intelligence agent training taking control. Was there a bomb? Were the Wuyans trying to sabotage them? The plasma coil wasn’t new or unique technology; any race that had used ring-shaped nacelles used pairs of plasma coils to force drive plasma into counter-rotating loops, the resulting subspace distortions being used to propel the ship. The Roadrunner Project had found the ring method worked better than the traditional nacelle pairs when it came to maintaining a slipstream. But such a commonplace technology could still be used for sabotage!

“These coils operate at a frequency of .233!” Mytim complained, “We’re going to have to recalibrate them, or the lower quarter of the ring nacelle is going to be glowing aqua instead of teal!”

Laarthi paused right next to the narrow stairs leading up to Desk 3. (The Roadrunner was too small for a turbolift network.)

“WHAT?” she demanded.

“I know! The nerve! Dr. Strobnick is going to be very upset!”

“What a shame that will be,” Laarthi hissed.


“Well, this isn’t so bad,” Lt. Cmdr Virgii said, helping to assemble a series of pre-fabricated segments into what was shaping into a moderate-sized house, “Is it?”

Crewman Billings took a breath of fresh air, then resumed tightening the fasteners between two segments.

“Nope, not at all,” he said. He wiped sweat from his brow, then looked around. They were at the edge of a new subdivision being built near one of Wuyan’s major cities. They could see the spires of the city itself to the east, the Wuyan’s avian nature asserting itself in high, narrow buildings that would make most races uncomfortable.

“A good day’s work for a good day’s pay,” Virgii said with satisfaction, “This is the way it should be. No plotting, no scheming, no cheating. We need supplies, they need work done. Simple.”

“I wonder why they need us to do this?” Billings wondered.

“Come again?”

“I mean, why do they need us to do this? It’s not like we’re doing a job that any half-programmed construction bot couldn’t do,”

“Probably a cultural thing,” Virgii shrugged, “Some races don’t like relying on technology for something as simple as constructing shelter,”

“That doesn’t explain why we’re the only work crew out here,”

Indeed, other than a Wuyan supervisor that had given then the house plans, pointed out the supplies, then promptly left, there didn’t seem to be another soul in sight.

“You worry too much,” Virgii said, “It’s probably just their equivalent of Sunday, or something like that.


Lt. Laarthi stepped away from the replicator in the Roadrunner’s tiny mess, a bowl of fish stew in hand. After several hours spent helping Mytim recalibrate the plasma coils (at Dr. Strobnick’s emphatic insistence), she was starving. Being well past the supper rush, the mess was nearly deserted, even the coveted table right next to the small window was empty! Laarthi made a small sound of pleasure then stepped briskly to the table, her tail swishing behind her. She was about to sit when her nose caught a scent. It was faint…and canine! She sniffed the table, the back of the chair, finally coming to a stop at the cushion. Yup, Boxer had definitely been sitting there. Gross! She grabbed another chair and was about to sit when the same scent crossed her nose. The new seat cushion was also contaminated! She swapped for another, then another. Soon she was tearing the mess apart, sniffing frantically for a seat that didn’t reek of dog.

Finally, standing in the middle of the roof with her bowl of stew, she threw back her head and yowled.

“BOOOOOXXXEEEERRRRRR!!!!”

On the bridge, Boxer leaned back from the security display and snickered.


Down on the planet, Virgii, Billings and the rest of the volunteers were settling into the comfortable hotel the Wuyans had sent them to after their work shift had ended. The rooms were very comfortable, each member being given a nicely appointed room to themselves. There was no pool, instead an exercise room resembling a giant bird-cage adorned the roof level of the building, but they were all too tired to even think about doing anything other than lying down.

“I hurt everywhere,” Billings groaned, leaning over his dinner of replicated…something. Given the Wuyan’s reaction to the name bubble & squeak, he wasn’t sure he wanted to know what kind of meat he was eating.

“Wonderful, isn’t it?” Virgii said, a not-entirely-sincere smile creasing his features, “Hard work is good for you. Puts muscles on your frame,”

“Or tears skin off,” Billings whimpered, massaging what he was sure was going to turn into a nasty callous.

“Man up,” Virgii said, “A man’s hands should be rough. None of this moisturized rubbish,”

“Uh, welcome to the 24th Century, sir,” Billings said.

“We only have,” Virgii consulted his padd, “16 more person-hours of work to pay for the hull plating and plasma coils they gave us. We’ll be out of here before you know it.”


The next morning, Virgii was almost ready to eat his words. Every part of his body ached, from the arches of his feet to the cords in his neck. Groaning as he rolled over in bed, he found himself face to feathered face with Regent T’t’t’t’t.

“BLIMEY!” Virgii cried, jerking back hard enough to fall off the bed to the floor, sending a fresh wave of pain through his body.

“Pleasant waking to you,” T’t’t’t’t said, ruffling his feathers.

“More pleasant without strangers in my room!”

T’t’t’t’t cocked his head.

“Your kind prefers privacy when waking? How odd. In any case, I have an offer for you,”

“Uh…shoot?”

“Shoot what?”

“I mean ask!”

“Your Dr. Strobnick has requested two hundred kilograms of replicator mass, along with fifty LEPs of energy from our dock,” LEPs referred to Litres of Electro-Plasma, the result of antimatter reactions used to power high-energy devices.

“I see. I don’t suppose we could just requisition whatever he plans to replicate?”

“Our net cost is the same,” T’t’t’t’t waved a hand, “And in the circumstances, the doctor prefers equipment replicated to your own specifications.”

Translation, Virgii thought to himself, whatever Strobnick is making is either classified, or requires the Roadrunner’s newly repaired nano-fabrication system instead of a traditional parts replicator.

“Very well, what do you want in return?”

“An additional one hundred hours of labour,” T’t’t’t’t said.

Virgii considered. With a dozen crewmen working, that worked out to an extra day or so.

“Throw in some painkillers, and you have a deal!” Virgii said.

“You are experiencing discomfort?” T’t’t’t’t asked sharply.

“Well, it’s not bad, but-“

But the alien had already tapped several instructions on his padd.

“Do not leave this room until instructed,” Ttttt said, “Ì must check on the remainder of your people. This is unacceptable!!

“What?” But the door has snapped shut.

Virgii stood there for a minute. Surely the Wuyan weren’t turning hostile over something as small as a few muscle aches.

“Virgii to Roadrunner,” he tapped his badge.

“Boxer here,”

“Lieutenant I have a…standby,”

The door to his suite had opened and two Wuyan had walked in carrying a massage table and a pitcher of something green.

“Please remove your outer garments and lie down,” the one instructed.

“Drink this,” replied the other.

Within seconds, Virgii was flat on his stomach, the aches being rubbed right out of his muscles, the green beverage apparently being filled with proteins, electrolytes and a mild painkiller.

“We apologize,” said the masseuse.

“We didn’t realize we had a labour crew here,” said the other.

“We’ll be waiting when you return tonight. Again, we humbly apologize.”

“Sir?” Boxer called.

Virgii let his head fall into the opening in the massage table.

“Forget it, Lieutenant. Virgii out.”


Aboard the Roadrunner, Lt. Boxer whimpered as the channel closed. Virgii sounded strange. And regardless of whether he was acting as an SI Agent or as a Security Chief, Boxer didn’t like strange.

But the sensor sweeps told him that all the Roadrunner crew on the planet seemed OK, there were no strange readings coming from the Wuyan station and the guard at the Roadrunner’s airlock was still conscious.

“Strobnick to Boxer,” chimed his comm.

“Boxer here,”

“Lieutenant, apparently the replicator mass and electro-plasma we’re receiving need your inspection and approval before we dump them into our storage tanks.” Strobnick said.

“Of course,” Boxer licked his lips, “Send Crewman Dion up to monitor the security station and I’ll be right down,”

“Very well. Strobnick out.”

Boxer waited until the short, stocky crewman arrived, then stepped out the small door leading out of the Roadrunner’s bridge. In the tiny corridor beyond there was a head to one side, a tiny elevator (the kind that only went up or down) to the other, and a carpeted stairway leading down to Deck 2. On Deck 2 there was, of course, another stairway leading to Deck 3. He paused. Once again, the scent of cat filled his nostrils. His path to the airlock took him right past his jury-rigged quarters.

CAT!

The smell was everywhere! On his temporary bunk, in the bag filled with his extra uniforms and off-duty cloths, in his spare boots. EVERYWHERE!

“AAARRRRRROOOOOOOOO!!!!” Boxer howled.

That cat would pay!


Outside the airlock, Laarthi enjoyed a moment of grim satisfaction as she heard the faint sound of howling. That would teach Boxer who was boss.

“Are you sure we need Lt. Boxer to inspect this stock?” Dr. Strobnick was saying doubtfully.

“Absolutely,” Laarthi assured him, “After all, who knows what’s buried in there? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I will help the team installing the plasma coil segments.”


The next day, Lieutenant Mytim found herself on the planet surface, looking for Lt. Cmdr Virgii. Her search found her in a borrowed Wuyan travel pod soaring past a large metropolis towards one of its suburbs. Homing in on Virgii’s comm-badge, Mytim landed the travel pod outside a large brick building. She’d barely stepped out of the pod when the sound of breaking glass split the air. Mytim sighed, pulled her phaser out of its holster and lamented the fact that she was probably about to get dirt under her nails.

Not even flinching at the sound of something being smashed, Mytim slipped through the open door and eased around the corner…just in time to dodge a sledgehammer flying right at her head.

“BLIMEY!” Virgii cried, jerking the hammer to the side even as Mytim fell backward. The hammer bounced off an exposed pipe, flew out of Virgii’s hands and crashed into an exposed data network switchbox. The box gave a few half- hearted sparks before dying completely.

“Mytim! Virgii said shakily, “I’m terribly sorry! I wasn’t expecting anybody here!” He looked over at the destroyed panel. “Oh. Billings had so hoped to smash the electronics.”

Mytim had climbed to her feet and was brushing dust off her pants. Realizing it was futile, she crossed her arms and gave Virgii a look that wasn’t quite cold, but wasn’t exactly warm either.

“The Wuyan’s have offered to top up our anti-matter supply in exchange for an additional thirty hours of service,” she said, getting right to business.

“That’s it?” Virgii said, collecting himself, “They wanted a hundred for replicator mass, and-“

“We’ve barely used any of our anti-matter supply,” Mytim reminded him, “We’ve been out of dock less than two weeks. We don’t need any anti-matter.”

“It can’t hurt to be fully stocked,” Virgii said, nudging his hammer with his boot before picking it up, “Besides, I’m having fun,”

“Fun?”

“We’re doing demolition today,” Virgii replied, aiming at a section of interior wall and preparing to swing. “This whole building is being gutted and renovated.”

“This is not our concern,” Mytim said, now noticing that Virgii was wearing a set of baggy overalls and a construction helmet, “Our concern is getting back to Federation space!”

“And the more effort we put into preparing the ship now, the better our chances,” Virgii said, “Now go back to the ship and see about loading some anti-matter,”

Mytim gracefully uncrossed her arms then walked back to the travel pod. This was not the way to get home quickly!


In the Wuyan space-dock, Dr. Strobnick was supervising the current repairs to the Roadrunner. Lt. Laarthi and several other crewmembers had finished installing the plasma coils and were in the process of assembling the structural supports and supporting systems. Soon it would be time to start the final process of attaching the hull plating.

“Crewman Anderson, bring me the SIF conduit segments,” Laarthi called, not looking back.

Near the stack of supplies, Lieutenant Boxer carefully crept towards the SIF conduits, a spray bottle in hand. Crewman Anderson turned to pick them up, only to be distracted by the round magnetic bearing that Boxer rolled across the bay deck. Quickly seizing the moment, he squirted several shots of Sheppian pheromones on the conduits before ducking back behind the supplies.

Laarthi’s tail was swishing angrily as the looked over the lower portion of the nacelle.

“Doctor, is it supposed to look like that?” she asked, pointing at a tangled mess of optical cables.

“Leave the thinking to the professors,” Strobnick said absently, “I’ve got everything under control here,”

“I doubt it,” Laarthi muttered, picking up the first segment of conduit, and wrinkling her nose, “AND THAT DAMNED DOG IS GOING TO DIE!”

“Nobody is going to die,” Strobnick continued, “I assure you, the nacelle is being assembled properly.

“Not the…forget it,” Laarthi tossed the conduit to the deck. She turned and stalked back towards the airlock into the ship, “I’m running out of ideas,” she muttered to herself.

As she left, Boxer popped up from behind the supplies.

“Hello!” he said cheerfully, “I’m here to inspect the anti-matter the Wuyans are delivering?”

“Ah yes my boy!” Strobnick nodded absently, “Right over there. Try not to drop it,”

“Yuppers!”


“I need to talk to you,” Mytim said. It was the following day and she’d just finished delivering yet another offer from the Wuyans to Virgii, this time for several stasis bins of fresh produce in return for help replacing the plumbing in a school.

“You picked the perfect time,” Boxer replied, his tail wagging happily, “I’m just doing my rounds…I could use somebody to talk to!”

“It’s about the Cap…Commander Virgii,” Mytim said, her head held in a way that suggested defiance while remaining elegant, “I’m worried he’s losing sight of what’s important,”

“And what’s that?” Boxer asked, giving the phaser couplings a once over then checking them off of his padd.

“Getting home!” Mytim said, “Dr. Strobnick will have the repairs finished tomorrow, but we’re indentured to the Wuyan for three more days!”

“Does that mean my room is fixed?” Boxer’s ears perked up.

“Yes, but that’s beside the point,” Mytim went on, “He’s not even bargaining! He just agrees to whatever they ask for,”

“You have to admit,” Boxer shrugged, “The materials they’ve given us are top-quality. If only we had such honest traders in the Federation,”

“By the time we get back, maybe they will,” Mytim said, “Boxer, I’ve tried speaking to him. He won’t listen. You need to help me convince him to pack up and leave!”

Now Boxer was starting to look uncomfortable.

“But he’s…the pack leader,”

“He’s an engineer,” Mytim said coolly, “Who has been forced into command by circumstance. He’s afraid of indecision because of what happened on the Aerostar and he’s overcompensating by making quick, bad choices now,”

“Give it a few more days,” Boxer said, checking the access logs to the weapons locker next on the inspection list, “Maybe he’ll come around.”

“Then you won’t help me,” Mytim said.

“You’re worrying over nothing,”

Mytim sighed, then pulled a hanky out of her pocket and began sobbing, badly and theatrically.

“Oh! Boo! Boo-hoo!” she wailed, burying her nose in her hanky.

“I said wait a few more days,”

“Very well,” Mytim sighed, straightening up and tucking the hanky away. She was about to leave when Boxer popped the locker open, releasing a wave of stink.

“What is THAT?” Mytim, her voice calm but somehow implying a deep loathing.

“Caithan pheromones,” Boxer growled, “All over MY weapons! This is the LAST STRAW! I’m dousing her favourite catnip ball in my own mix!”

“Wait,” Mytim’s eyes widened, “The stench on the ship is because of YOU TWO?” Now her calm was beginning to crack, “We thought it was something in the Wuyan air supply!”

“Oh, I didn’t think human noses would even notice anything,” Boxer tucked his tail politely between his legs, “Sorry,”

Mytim glared for another moment, then turned and quickly walked away, one hand on her face.


The next evening found Lt Cmdr Virgii riding a shuttle back up to the Wuyan space-dock. At Dr. Strobnick’s request he was en route to inspect the repairs that had been made. Within minutes of arriving at the large donut-shaped space station he had been politely escorted to the Roadrunner’s docking bay. Looking through the semicircular windows, he was struck again that despite the two long, spindly landing legs that supported the main hull and the beak-like shape of the forward saucer, the ship really didn’t look like a roadrunner of either the real or cartoon varieties. (He’d researched the topic thoroughly while trying to figure out just why exactly the ship’s dedication plaque used ‘Beep-Beep!’ as a quotation.)

He couldn’t see the lower section of the ring nacelle from his current angle, but he could see that the hull around Boxer’s quarters had been repaired.

As he stepped down the stairs that would lead him into the pressurized bay, he was joined by Regent T’t’t’t’t.

“Captain,” the regent said, ruffling his feathers, “I hope our little mishap at the hotel has been straightened out,”

“Yes, of course,” Virgii said, “Most kind of you,”

“Excellent,” T’t’t’t’t said, “I understand your repairs are nearly complete?”

“Just what I’m about to find out, my good chap,”

“We may have something else to offer you before you consider leaving,”

“Really?” Virgii paused, “I don’t know. I think my crew is getting a bit antsy,”

“You will be travelling through unfamiliar space,” T’t’t’t’t said, “Surely you would be finding our star charts worth bargaining for,”

Virgii stopped in his tracks. The Wuyan weren’t very interested in exploration. But even if their charts only extended a few dozen light-years, having a map of the space they were about to traverse would be very, very useful.

“Indeed we would,”

“We have a hydroelectric dam on our northern continent that acts as a backup to our regular power supply. Two of the generation stations are in need of refurbishment. Surely now that your engineers are completing repairs on your own ship…”

“Deal,” Virgii said.

“Excellent,” T’t’t’t’t smiled, handing him a padd with coordinates and instructions, “I will arrange the data transfer once your engineers arrive,”

Bowing, the Regent took his leave.

Arriving at the rear of the ship, Virgii saw Strobnick and Mytim watching as the technicians put the finishing touches on the nacelle’s new coat of paint.

“She looks as good as new,” Virgii said pleasantly, “I trust everything has tested successfully?”

“Short of activating the drive,” Strobnick nodded, as Mytiml stared at Virgii with a look of surprise, quickly concealed. The commander was tanned, his uniform had tightened slightly around the shoulders and loosened around the waist. Clearly, nearly a week of labour had been good for him.

“Good. Have your people ready to beam down to the planet tomorrow,” Virgii handed him T’t’t’t’t’s padd, “Nothing major, a little refurbishment job in exchange for star-charts.”

“I had assumed we’d be leaving as soon as our current obligations were met,” the doctor said, annoyed.

“Well, then we better meet them quickly,” Virgii said, turning and strolling back to the shuttle that would take him to the surface.

As the bay doors closed behind him, Mytim shook herself out of her distracted state. That does it! It was time to FORCE some action. And, thanks to the effects a week of hard work and sunshine had had on Virgii, or more specifically thanks to her new reaction to Virgii, she had a good idea where to begin.


Boxer was so pleased to have his quarters back. A new bunk and chair had replaced the ones sucked out into the void and he was looking forward to curling up in his own space again. He carefully sniffed the air. Laarthi had been inflamed that he’d ruined her catnip ball and had vowed revenge. But so far, so good.

Opening the narrow door that led to the tiny bathroom he shared with the next room over (Virgii’s quarters) he quickly undressed and jumped into the shower. Only to reel out, gagging as he was showered in Caithan pheromones instead of the sonic cleansing rays he was expecting.

It was all over him! In his fur! On his skin! In his NOSE! Wrapping a towel around his waist he dashed into the corridor.

“Problem, Lieutenant?” Mytim asked pleasantly as he stalked by.

“That cat must die!” Boxer growled. He stormed a few doors down then began banging on the panels.

“LAARTHI! GET OUT HERE YOU…YOU…FURBALL!” he shouted.

The doors hissed open revealing the Caithan officer, her heckles raised.

“Serves you right for ruining my…my…” Laarthi’s fur slowly stood down, her nose twitching. “Wait…oh no. What’s that smell? No, no, no, NO!”

“It’s whatever you programmed my shower to spray me with!” Boxer snapped, “You broke the rules! I only attacked your possessions, I never touched you! Now smell me! It will be WEEKS before I get this out of my fur!”

“I…rules? We didn’t agree…but yes, they were implied,” Laarthi shook her head again.

“I can’t talk to you right now,” she snapped, stepping back and hitting the button to close and lock her door.

Boxer cocked his head, looking confused.

“That was…weird,” he said.

“You were expecting more shouting?” Mytim suggested.

“Yes,”

“Maybe you should smell yourself a bit more carefully,” she suggested.

Boxer did. Now that she mentioned it, the smell Laarthi had used on him was different this time. It was Caithan, no doubt. And disgusting. But it was also more musky. Almost like…like…

“Male pheromones,” he said, a grin breaking out on his face, “She programmed the shower to spray me with male pheromones instead of female,”

“Well, somebody programmed the shower,” Mytim said with a hint of a smile, “Or maybe I should say ‘re-programmed’ it,”

“And now she’s responding to me like a…a cat in heat!” Boxer was giggling now.

“Exactly,”

“Ohhh, such perfect revenge! Absolutely perfect!”

“Good,” Mytim dropped the smile, “Now go break into the Wuyan computer systems and find out just why they’re so insistent on keeping us here!”

Boxer hesitated. That would be going against the pack leader. But on the other hand Virgii hadn’t forbidden him from investigating the Wuyan. In fact, it was probably part of his duty. And he really did owe Mytim…there’s no way he would have come up with something like her little switch-a-roo!

“I could use Laarthi’s help with that” he admitted.

“Whatever. Just try to keep her hands off of you,” Mytim said, turning to leave.

Boxer grinned. Perfect!


Mytim returned to the tiny bridge, where Dr. Strobnick was grumbling as he continued running tests on the repairs that had been made.

“Star-charts,” he muttered, “An few extra days of work for star-charts. Why don’t we just get them to build us a slipstream stabilization device while we’re at it?”

“Would that work?” Mytim shot straight up in her seat. A QSD could have them home in a day!

“I may be an academic,” Strobnick said, “But I still know better than to give classified technology away. Besides, do you really want to trust your molecules to a flock of walking seagulls?”

“Perhaps,” Mytim said, keeping her voice as cultured as possible, “With proper supervision…”

“No. I have some other ideas we can try before we do something desperate,”

Desperate. Mytim would never admit to being desperate, it was unrefined. But as she saw the Sheppian and Caithan life signs leave the ship together, she couldn’t help but think that her current plan reeked of desperation.


Boxer had quickly convinced Laarthi to help him with a little undercover op, pausing only to run back to his temporary quarters and a clothing replicator to make himself irresistible. He’d replicated a uniform two sizes too small, to better tease Laarthi with his physique. Unfortunately, the way his fur puffed out at the wrists and neck as a result really cancelled out any improvement. He’d replicated a popular Caithan cologne, which smelled absolutely rancid, and put on his gold-studded leather bracelets. (Furred species and chain-style jewellery didn’t get along…most Sheppian and Caithan jewels and precious metals were usually embedded in leather or other fancy fabrics.)

Of course, doused as he was with pheromones, he could have dressed as a human clown and still gotten Laarthi hot and bothered. And if there was one advantage of being Sheppian, it was the puppy-dog eyes that could, rumour had it, evoke cries of ‘Awww’ and a liberal head-scratching from even the coldest of Vulcans.

Not that she wasn’t putting up a fight. Immediately after agreeing to help him dig into the Wuyan, she’d rummaged around in her closet, only to come out with a small breathing mask. Boxer had already managed to ‘accidentally’ disconnect the breathing tube twice, and he was positive he could see Laarthi lick her lips when he turned to lead the way out of the ship.

This was going to be fun!


I am going to kill that dog! Laarthi thought to herself as she and Boxer slipped discreetly out of the station’s Commerce Plaza and into a maintenance tunnel. She reached into the bag of Starfleet Intelligence goodies they’d brought and pulled out two holographic overlays and a tricorder that was programmed to disguise their life-signs. Suitably disguised, they started looking for an office or a data terminal that might have information not available at the public information kiosks found in the station and on the planet below.

She flinched as Boxer brushed against her, purposefully rubbing his arm against her. Against her best efforts, a wave of attraction rose up, powered by that stupid smell. Between the pheromones and the Eau de Poisson Morte he’d somehow identified as her favourite, her nose was having a hayday. This was quickly followed by an even stronger wave of absolute disgust.

“Oops”, he said, accidentally catching his tricorder on the breathing tube to her mask and yanking it off, exposing her to another blast of smell, “Sorry, sweet thing,”

“ENOUGH!” Laarthi snapped, “You stupid dog! Do you think this is actually FUNNY?”

“Very!” now his tail was wagging frantically; even the holographic overlay couldn’t hide it.

“I should have done this mission alone!” Laarthi fumed, “Between your stink and your moronic antics it’s a wonder the whole station doesn’t know we’re here!”

“Of course, Agent Laarthi,” Boxer tried to keep a straight face, “Or should I call you ‘Cuddles’ from now on?”

They’d reached a door. Quickly scanning, they found that it was not only empty, it contained a computer terminal. Grabbing a lock descrambler, Laarthi popped the door open. Boxer moved around the desk and started tapping.

“I’m in,” he said. Then, with a grin, “Not the way you’d like,”

Laarthi went into a sputtering fit, quickly cut short with the hacking up of a hairball.

“Don’t leave that behind,” Boxer said calmly, “We can’t leave evidence.”

“Do you honestly think,” she snapped, “That any amount of pheromones could actually make you attractive? That this is anything other than a purely biological response?”

“That’s all it needs to be, Cuddles,”

“How DARE you!” Laarthi fumed, “How dare you shout at me for breaking the rules, then do something like this! This has gone beyond fun and games, Boxer! You’ve humiliated me!”

“You’re over-reacting,” Boxer said, still scanning through material available on the terminal, “Ohhh, this is interesting.”

“I am not!” she said, “You’re deliberately provoking me! You’re acting like child! The game isn’t fun anymore!”

That seemed to register. He cocked his head and gave her the ‘confused puppy’ look.

“Oh, you understand games, don’t you Boxer?” Laarthi demanded, “Well, just remember that when you’re playing Bury-the-Bone in the backyard with your mangy little canine friends, it’s no fun if somebody just runs away and keeps the bone for themselves! WHAT?”

Boxer’s lip had started curling into a giggle.

Laarthi mentally reviewed what she’s just said. OK, maybe trying to use a Sheppian analogy wasn’t all that appropriate, given the current circumstances.

Fine.

“Just remember, Boxer,” she said, moving closer, “Remember that when the game’s not fun, the other puppies don’t want to play.”

And with that, she drove her knee into his crotch at warp speed. Boxer let out a yowl and collapsed to the deck, clutching his bruised bits.

“Now let’s go,” she said, grabbing the tricorder he’d linked to the computer, “Somebody was bound to have heard that.”


An hour later, Laarthi had called the senior staff plus Regent T’t’t’t’t into the lounge adjacent to the Runningbird’s docking bay.

“Can we get on with this?” Lt. Cmdr. Virgii said, “Those pipes aren’t going to replace themselves. Not without me there to operate the construction micro-bots, anyway,”

“Of course,” Laarthi said.

“And dear God, what is that SMELL?” Virgii demanded. He looked over at Boxer, “Is it him? What happened?”

“Stupidity and failure,” Laathi said coldly, “But we’re here because the Wuyan have been hiding something from us,”

Virgii turned to T’t’t’t’t.

“We’ve been here less than a week. I’m sure there’s lots of stuff they haven’t told us. That’s the way it works.”

“This is something we really should have known,” Boxer added quietly.

T’t’t’t’t looked uncomfortable.

“Will you share the news, or shall I?” Laarthi asked.

“We gave the workers too much!” T’t’t’t’t burted, “We agreed to too many of their damned union demands, now we can’t get anything done unless we provide them with buffet meals, rose-scented showers and latinum-encrusted toilet facilities! Our negotiators were duped! Duped, I tell you, duped!”

“Huh?” Virgii said flatly.

“Their own Guild of Civil Construction has somehow managed to manipulate their legal system so that the laws governing labour relations with their government allow the Guild to set ridiculously high terms for any construction projects,” Mytim translated. She’d viewed the data Laarthi and Boxer had brought back, “Public works have slowed to a standstill. Infrastructure is aging and can only be replaced at an exorbitant cost. With the high cost of labour, the Guild only need take a few projects a year to maintain their standard of living.”

“So instead of the workers getting screwed out of a decent return for their work, they’re doing the screwing?” Virgii asked.

“Please change the analogy,” Laarthi muttered.

“However,” Mytime finished, “the introverted nature of their species means that the Guild didn’t consider off-worlders when they had the legislation drafted. “

“We’re building off-worlder colonies,” T’t’t’t’t admitted, “We can provide you excellent working and living conditions at a fraction of what it would cost to employ our own people. We were hoping we could keep you here long enough that you’d consider staying permanently. Especially with your own people so far away.”

“Interesting idea,” Virgii mused. Mytim stomped on his foot. “Er, I mean, Regent T’t’t’t’t, I’m afraid we’re going to have to leave as soon as our current commitments are met.”

“Please!” the Regent begged, “We can give your ship ablative armour for two hundred hours of service. One fifty?”

Virgii quickly gauged his crew’s reaction, but only Boxer looked interested.

“I’m sorry Regent, but we really do need to be on our way.”

T’t’t’t’t sighed.

“Very well. But if you come across anybody who’d be willing to put in a good day’s work for a reasonable day’s pay, do send them our way.”


As the meeting broke up, Mytim quickly tracked down Virgii before he could return to the planet. To her surprise, he turned towards the Runningbird’s airlock.

“Not returning to the great outdoors?” she asked.

“I have…work here to do,” he said.

She followed him as he boarded the ship and climbed to deck 2, towards the tiny ready room at the base of the stairs to the bridge.

“What?” he asked as she closed the door behind her.

“I sent Boxer and Laarthi into the Wuyan station, undercover, to discover what they were hiding from us,” she said, “This action was unauthorized, and I’m ready to face the consequences.”

Virgii crossed his arms.

“You did what I should have done,” he said, “You investigated. You asked questions. You poked, and you prodded, and you found something we needed to know.”

“May I make an observation?”

“You may,”

“There’s a difference between making a timely decision and a hasty one,” she said, “You’ve made it clear that you feel that your former captain’s indecisiveness caused problems, but you’re so eager not to repeat his mistake that you’ve made a completely new one. You chose to help the Wuyan before you fully understood the situation,” she allowed a small amount of anger to show, “And you were very, very lucky that their ‘secret plot’ in this case was a relatively minor piece of dishonesty. If they’d been interested in kidnapping us, stealing our ship, or otherwise forcing us into a labour community, we would have been helpless!”

“You’re right, of course,” Virgii said. He looked up. “Will that be all?”

Mytim straightened her uniform.

“I certainly hope so,” she said.


Two days later, the Roadrunner eased out of the Wuyan space station, fully repaired and stocked for the journey ahead.

“One planet down,” Virgii sighed, “How many hundred to go on this trip?”

“That depends on whether or not we can work any engineering magic,” Mytim said. She and Strobnick were pouring over the slipstream sensor data gathered during the voyage out.

“There is no magic, my dear,” Strobnick said, “Simply mathematics.”

“I’m just glad we got the Wuyan to throw in a barrel of odour-neutralizer before we left,” Virgii said, “This ship smelled like a kennel.”

“Good thing they were feeling guilty.” Laarthi agreed, “By the way, when are we letting Boxer out of that barrel?”

“Your discretion, Lieutenant,” Virgii said. He leaned back in the command chair. “Set course back to Federation space, warp 6.”


In the Roadrunner’s cargo bay, Lt. Boxer whimpered miserably as he was doused with even more odour-neutralizer.

“Keep scrubbing,” Crewman Billings said, drawing another bucket of lemony-scented fluid from the barrel in which Boxer had been unceremoniously tossed, “I think we’re making progress!”

Armed with long-handled scrubbers, the other members of Laarthi’s engineering team continued working, scrubbing the stink out of the poor Sheppian.

“Maybe we should have shaved him first?” one of the techs asked.

“Not a bad idea,” Billings agreed, “Anbody got a set of clippers?”

Boxer whimpered again as the Roadrunner flashed into warp.