Guess what? This is a copyright acknowledgment. CBS/Paramount/Viacom (or whatever they are calling themselves this week) owns Star Trek, and some of the names used in this story. The rest is mine.

Author: Alan Decker
Copyright: 1993

Star Traks III

Attitude Adjustment

by Alan Decker

Chapter One

Admiral Jean-Luc Picard felt a headache coming on. He tapped the switch to open his bottom desk drawer, hoping that he’d remembered to recharge the neural reliever Dr. Crusher had given him. His door chime suddenly beeped like a red alert alarm at full volume.

“Come,” he said weakly as he pulled the reliever out of the drawer. The power indicator read empty. “Damn,” he mumbled.

“Admiral Picard, I demand that you do something about this outrage!” Ambassador Kyyyecht of the Rusai shouted angrily as he stormed into the office. Picard’s head throbbed painfully as the noise buffeted his ear drums.

“What can I do for you, Ambassador?” Picard asked as he started to massage his temples.

“I just read the report on the Joegonot incident, Admiral. Captain Rydell’s actions were outrageous! The Prime Directive specifically prohibits interfering with…”

“Ambassador,” Picard interrupted, “Please calm yourself. We can discuss this rationally… and quietly.” Picard was not looking forward to this conversation. The Rusai were obsessive about rules to the point of fanaticism. Any breach of Federation regulations by Starfleet had the Rusai Ambassador in Picard’s office outraged.

It was times like these that Picard wished that he hadn’t accepted the promotion to admiral. Captain Kirk had warned him back on Veridian III not to do it, but, in the aftermath of Kirk’s death and the loss of the Enterprise-D, he’d felt the need to take on a new challenge. The admiralty seemed like just the thing. Besides, it was high time that Commander…now Captain Will Riker got his turn in the center seat. The newly-constructed Sovereign-class Enterprise-E was sitting in spacedock at this very moment going through last checks before Riker took it out on a shakedown cruise.

Little did Picard know that much of his day would involve fielding all of these petty complaints that ended up in his lap. Rather than telling the ambassador to suck it up and get out of his office, Picard attempted a more diplomatic response, “Admiral Wagner reviewed Captain Rydell’s logs and decided that Rydell did what he had to.”

“The Prime Directive was violated and a valuable scientific invention was destroyed all because of Rydell’s incompetence. I want action!” The door chime beeped again.

“Come,” Picard said thankful for the interruption. The doors slid open, and Admiral Matthew Dillon charged into the office.

“Sorry for the interruption, Jean-Luc, but I’ve got to talk to you about my nephew,” Matt began.

“Funny you should bring him up,” Picard replied. “We were just discussing his captain.”

“Admiral, I think my complaint is much more important,” Kyyyecht insisted. “I have no problem with the Secondprize’s first officer. It is its captain that is the problem.”

“Travis’ mother is driving me crazy, Jean-Luc,” Matt continued. “Travis wrote her about how he saved Captain Rydell and helped prevent the destruction of the universe and now she calls me four times a day saying that he should be promoted. I’m not completely sure she’s right, but…”

“Admiral Picard, I want Rydell brought back here for a full investigation.”

“We could give him a ship on the Klingon border. They’re our allies. Nothing will happen there.”

“The Prime Directive must not be compromised like this.”

“We’ll give him a small ship.”

“Justice must be served!”

“What could possibly happen?”

“Rydell is a menace.”

“Travis’ really not that bad. He graduated at the top of his class.”

“He deserves a full inquiry.”

“He deserves a promotion.”

“ALL RIGHT!!!!!!!!!” Picard bellowed. “That’s enough!!!! Requests granted! Now get the hell out of my office!” And so ended his attempt at diplomacy and tact.

“Thank you, Admiral,” Kyyyecht said with a nod. “I am glad to see that Starfleet values its regulations and those of the Federation.” The insectoid ambassador crawled out of the office on his six legs.

“I’m sure Travis will do fine,” Matt commented.

“I trust your judgment, Matt,” Picard replied. “Just fill out the orders, and I’ll sign them.”

“Thanks, Jean-Luc.” Admiral Dillon left the office. Picard leaned back in his desk chair with a groan. His head was killing him. Picard rummaged through the cabinet behind his desk and pulled out a bottle of green liquid. Some Aldeberan Whiskey sounded real good right now.

Chapter Two

Captain Alexander Rydell switched off his viewscreen and collapsed back on his bed. Admiral Picard’s communique was not exactly the type of news that Rydell liked to receive. A flash of panic went through his body. This was not a good sign for his career. Absently, he got up and wandered out into the hall.

Commander Travis Dillon switched off his viewer and started dancing around his quarters. His uncle had finally come through for him. He felt like he was going to explode with joy. Finally, he was getting the recognition he deserved. Happily, he bounded out of his quarters out into the hall.

Lieutenant Emily Sullivan stood outside of Transporter Room Three talking to Transporter Chief Monica Vaughn about Vaughn’s usual favorite topic: men. In this case, the man in question was Sullivan’s boyfriend, Chief Engineer Scott Baird’ who Vaughn was less enthused to discuss.

“It’s been almost three weeks now.”

“Emily, are you going to keep telling everyone exactly how long you and Scott have been together?” Vaughn said. She had had just about enough of Sullivan’s daily updates. She was happy for her, but enough was enough. “Come on, it’s only a relationship. People have them all the time.”

“Well, it’s a big deal to me,” Sullivan said. Considering this was her first relationship of any kind in ages, she thought her friend could be a bit more supportive. “I…” Sullivan stopped as she saw Captain Rydell approaching. He was mumbling something and bashing his fist against his forehead.

“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.” Rydell muttered as he passed.

“He must have gotten somebody pregnant,” Vaughn said.

“Don’t say that!” Sullivan said angrily. “He’s the captain! Show some respect!”

“When did you start caring? Those Lieutenant pips going to your head?”

“What is your problem?”

“Maybe I have better things to do than listen to you moon over Baird or suck up to the command crew?”

“Like what? Going to sleep your way around the ship for the second time? Or is it the third? I lost track.”

“That’s it!” Vaughn shouted as she dove at Sullivan. The two hit the floor in a heap and rolled along fighting, knocking down passing crewmen and sucking them into the growing brawl.

Commander Scott Baird was walking down the hall on the opposite side of the ship from the Sullivan/Vaughn brawl. He was pissed off at the moment and nursing several scrapes and bruises. A glitch had occurred in one of his bicycling holodeck programs, suddenly erasing part of the mountain he’d been riding on. Normally, he’d complain to the chief engineer, but since he was the chief engineer, he could only storm back to his quarters muttering obscenities.

“Fucking piece of shit. Drop my fucking bike off a fucking mountain. I’m gonna have to rewrite the whole damn program. Shit!”

At the other end of the hall, Commander Dillon was entering his seventh rendition of “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” and waltzing along, waving a padd around as he went.

“Fucking cheap technology. I’ll take a fucking sledgehammer to the whole damn system.”

“I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way.”

“I loved that bike.” Baird caught a bit of motion out of the corner of his eye. He turned just as Dillon went into a spin and smacked him across the head with the padd. Baird barely had time to think “Fucking perfect” before he lost consciousness. Dillon, completely oblivious that he’d just knocked Baird out cold with his padd, switched to “I Feel Pretty” and kept on dancing.

“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God,” Captain Rydell said as he repeatedly bashed his fist against his head. He was completely unaware of the ever-growing Sullivan/Vaughn brawl erupting behind him. He passed two more crewmen.

“How dare he take the Lord’s name in vain,” Lieutenant J.G. Peter Franks exclaimed in disgust.

“He has done nothing,” Lieutenant Dassa replied. “There is no true deity except the Hyack. Your Christianity is just a fiction.”

“You alien monster!” Franks shouted. “God is all, and Humans are His children. You should be thankful that we don’t enslave you all in His name.”

“Hyack rules all, infidel.” Dassa said and started to walk away. Franks charged him. Dassa swung around at the last second and caught Franks with a roundhouse kick. Franks staggered back, but regained his senses quickly.

“You die for that one.”

“We shall see, human.” The two circled each other looking for an opening to attack. They both lunged at each other just as the mob swarmed over them. The brawl got a little bigger.

Dr. Rebecca Singer found the prostrate form of Commander Baird lying in the hallway by accident. She’d been walking back to sickbay from an emergency call when she tripped over him. Singer leaned down, opened her med-kit, and pulled out a hypospray filled with a painkiller and relaxant. A small dose would keep Baird comfortable and asleep while she had him moved to sickbay. She didn’t notice that Dillon had reversed direction and was dancing back toward.

“What a pretty face! What a pretty smile! What a pretty me!” Dillon kicked her, causing her to fall on the hypo. It hissed loudly, emptying its contents into the doctor. The equivalent of ten doses coursed through her bloodstream. She stood up in a drugged haze and started dancing after Dillon. She hadn’t gotten very far when she smacked into a wall and fell to the floor. The drugs overtook her, and she soon joined Baird in unconsciousness. Dillon changed direction again and danced past Singer and Baird’s bodies.

“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.”

“I’m as corny as Kansas in August. High as a flag on the Fourth of July.”

“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.”

“If you’ll excuse an expression I use, I’m…”

“…my God. Oh my God.” Rydell rounded the corner and smashed into Commander Dillon.



“I’ve got something to tell you,” they said in unison.

“I’m getting investigated by Starfleet Command,” Rydell said glumly.

“I’m getting my own ship from Starfleet Command,” Dillon exclaimed happily. Captain Alexander Rydell punched out his first officer.

Chapter Three

“Captain’s Log, Stardate 49830.6. As per orders, the Secondprize is headed back to Earth. I can do nothing but watch helplessly as life as I know it crumbles around me. I’m under investigation, a riot broke out for no apparent reason, my chief engineer and chief medical officer are sleeping together in the halls, and somebody made Dillon a captain. If these aren’t signs of the apocalypse, I don’t know what is.”

Commander Dillon was admiring the fourth pip on his collar for the seventh time. He hadn’t officially been promoted yet, but he just liked the way the pip signifying the rank of captain looked on him. Captain Travis Michael Dillon had a real nice ring to it. His door chime sounded, breaking his musings and scaring him to death. This was a very odd occurrence. No one ever came to visit him. Dillon figured that the crew was just so much in awe of his rank that they were scared. The crew was scared all right; they were scared of actually having a conversation with him.

“Come in,” Dillon ordered. The doors whooshed open revealing Captain Rydell. “Captain, what are you doing here?” Dillon asked surprised. Rydell walked over to a chair and collapsed into it.

“Travis, it’s about time I gave you the speech my last captain gave me when I was promoted. You’re a captain now. Do you know what that means?” Rydell asked earnestly.

“Yes,” Dillon replied maniacally, “Power within my grasp!”

“No, you moron. You now have enormous responsibilities that you can’t even imagine and…”

“You get lots of babes.”

“Well, there is that, but it’s secondary.”

“I want babes!”

“Travis, you are about to be in control of the fates of several hundred people.”

“Yeah, I know,” Dillon replied enjoying his power trip.

“Never mind,” Rydell said in disgust as he stood up. “Just be in sickbay in three hours.”

“Sickbay? Why?”

“Well, if you would have let me talk, you would have found out. Have a nice wait, Travis,” Rydell said menacingly as he left. Dillon sat down on the couch and started worrying.

Seven Backward was crowded. With the Secondprize returning to spacedock, most of the crew had nothing to do. There were no missions to carry out, and the ship could practically fly itself. In the absence of work, the crew dove into their favorite activity: gossip. Rumors about Rydell’s investigation and Dillon’s promotion were flying fast and furious. Speculation ran from it all being a mistake to Rydell being executed and Dillon being given command of the Secondprize. The consensus among the crew was if that happened, they’d transfer or mutiny.

Lieutenants Lisa Beck and Emily Sullivan were seated at the bar talking with Trinian, Seven Backward’s hostess when Lieutenant Commander Jaroch entered. He walked straight to a small table in the corner and stared out the window.

“As social as ever,” Trinian commented.

“He likes his privacy,” Beck replied. “I personally don’t blame him. I heard Dillon is taking a couple of people with him when he gets his new ship. Jaroch’s probably going to be one of them. If I were him, I’d be depressed as hell too. I wouldn’t want to be under his command any more than I already am.”

“Yeah,” Sullivan agreed distractedly.

“Problem, Emily?” Trinian asked even though she already knew the answer.

“I’m worried about Scott.”

“He just got a minor concussion,” Trinian said soothingly. “He’ll be fine in a few days.”

“Minor concussion!” Sullivan screamed. “He’s got complete amnesia. He doesn’t even know who he is, much less me.” As if on cue, the Seven Backward doors opened revealing the chief engineer. He stared around the room blankly not recognizing anything.

“I wonder why he’s wandering by himself,” Beck said. Suddenly, Counselor Claire Webber bounded in behind Scott. “Oh, he’s not alone.” Webber led Baird over to the bar.

“Hi, everyone,” Webber said happily. “Having a good day?”

“Yee hah,” Sullivan commented unenthusiastically.

“Look what I taught Scott,” Webber continued unfazed by the less than thrilled response. “Hug, Scott!” Smiling like a child, Scott locked the counselor in a huge bear hug.

“How did you do that?” Sullivan demanded astonished. “He never does stuff like that.”

“Well, in his current state, his mind is very trainable,” Webber explained. “Of course, it will all be erased when he gets his memory back, but for now…”

“He’ll do anything you say,” Sullivan finished.

“Not exactly, but his behavior is easily modifiable,” Webber said. Beck and Trinian noticed the evil grin spreading across Sullivan’s face.

“Emily, I think you should stop thinking what you’re thinking,” Trinian said.

“But it won’t last,” Sullivan replied. “And I’ll finally get him to act the way I want him to act.”

“This could be funny,” Beck said. “I’m in.”

“Thanks, Lisa. Claire, do you want to help?”

“Emily, you can’t interfere with his psychological well-being,” Webber insisted.

“You said it will wear off when he gets his memory back.”

“Yeah, but…”

“And you did make him hug you,” Beck added.

“Okay. You got me. I’ll help.”

“Great, let’s take him back to my quarters,” Sullivan said jumping up from the barstool. She, Beck, and Webber led an unsuspecting Scott Baird out of Seven Backward. Trinian bowed her head in silent prayer for the boy and got back to work.

Seconds later, Captain Rydell walked into the lounge and sat down at the bar. He was looking a bit out of sorts. Trinian walked over to offer support to her old friend.

“Dillon’s an idiot!” Rydell shouted as she approached.

“Hello to you too,” Trinian replied serenely. “Did Dillon do something wrong?” Rydell laughed.

“I’ll let you know when he does something right.” Rydell sighed. “I’m just being too hard on him. Travis is a competent officer at times. It’s just…”

“He’s going to be a captain.”

“Yes. So he’s not going to have anyone to take over when he screws up. He’ll be alone.”

“He’ll be out there while you’re not,” Trinian said knowingly. “Face it, Alex. You’re scared about this investigation and jealous that Dillon will have a ship while you don’t.”

“Ouch,” Rydell replied. “You could have been a little bit nicer about it than that.”

“Why? I get sick of comforting people all the time. A dose of reality shakes people up, and I get a kick out of watching them squirm. If you want comfort, go to Counselor Webber.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it. I can either get hugged to death by Claire or insulted by you. I wonder if the Borg have a counseling service. They’d probably be friendlier.” Suddenly, the lounge doors opened, and Scott Baird ran in. Before Rydell could react, Baird charged him and slammed him against the bar in a bear hug. Lieutenant Sullivan and Counselor Webber ran in after him. “I’m so sorry, sir. He got away from us,” Sullivan said as she and Webber grabbed Baird and dragged him out of the room.

“Bye bye,” Baird said, waving as he left.

“Do I even want to know?” Rydell asked.

“Probably not,” Trinian replied. Lieutenant Commander Jaroch got up from his table and walked over to the bar.

“May I speak with you, Captain?” Jaroch asked.

“Sure. Have a seat,” Rydell said. Jaroch sat down and gave Trinian a look which said “please leave.” Well, it was either that or “I’m extremely constipated. Please help me.” Trinian backed away.

“I’ve come to offer my services,” Jaroch said.

“What?” Rydell asked confused.

“I will defend you at your hearing.”

“You have legal experience?” Rydell asked in shock. A vision of Jaroch changing into J’Ter and killing everyone in the courtroom flashed through Rydell’s mind. Having a man who is taken over at inopportune times by the spirit of a dead warrior for his lawyer did not sound like a good idea to Rydell.

“I was in law school for several years on Yyns before I decided to become a scientist. I was at the top of my class until J’Ter interrupted graduation.”

“You realize that my career is on the line here, Jaroch. Are you sure you can do it?”

“Easily,” Jaroch replied.

“And without a body count?”

“I’ll do my best, sir.”

“Okay. You’re hired,” Rydell said. He had a feeling he was going to regret this, but at least if he lost, he’d take a few admirals with him.

Dillon walked into Sickbay cautiously. He had gone through every possible thing that this could be about, so he was ready for anything. Captain Rydell was standing by a bio-bed with Dr. Singer.

“Come here, Dillon,” Rydell said smiling.

“What’s this about?” Dillon asked.

“Well, all Starfleet captains are fitted with this,” Singer explained as she held up a device about the size of a fingernail.

“What is it?”

“The answer to your wish, Travis,” Rydell said. “It’s a mate magnet.”

“A what?”

“A mate magnet. It makes you irresistible to members of the opposite sex…or the same sex, if you prefer….or both. Starfleet doesn’t judge,” Singer said.

“So this is how you get all those women,” Dillon said.

“No. I just use my natural charm and good looks, but Starfleet issues these to all captains just in case they need a little extra help. Dr. Singer will be installing it in a minute. Just lie down. She’ll be right back.” Rydell dragged Singer over to the other side of Sickbay.

“This should only take a few minutes,” Singer said.

“Good, just make sure you don’t use very much anesthetic.


“I want Travis to learn the proper respect for that thing. I can’t think of a better way.”

“Whatever you say, Captain.” Singer walked off to see to her patient. Rydell left Sickbay smiling. He would sure hate to be Dillon right now. Operations in those tender areas could be quite painful.

Chapter Four

“Contact spacedock control and tell them were ready for final approach,” Captain Rydell ordered. He shifted uncomfortably in his command chair. The moment he’d been dreading for the last two days was almost here.

“Message sent, Captain,” Beck said. The turbolift doors whooshed open and Commander Dillon waddled slowly onto the bridge. He sat down gingerly in his chair to the captain’s right. Captain Rydell suppressed a smirk. The swelling would go down in a few days. Hopefully, before Dillon took command of his new ship. But in the meantime, those ice packs must be really uncomfortable.

“Take us in, Ensign,” Rydell said. Ensign Kristen Larkin steered the Excelsior-class starship toward the huge spacedock doors. The doors opened slowly revealing the massive starship docking facility.

“Spacedock control is ready to lock on tractor beams,” Beck reported.

“Stop engines.” The ship rocked slightly as multiple tractor beams grabbed onto the Secondprize and pulled it into the hangar. They passed several other ships including the brand new Enterprise-E. Rydell shuddered inside. That meant Will Riker was here. This was not going to be pretty.

“Commander Dillon, there’s a private communique coming in for you,” Beck said.

“Patch it through to my quarters, Lieutenant,” Dillon said. He slowly stood up and headed shuffled toward the turbolift.

“There’s a message coming in for you too, sir.”

“On screen,” Rydell said as he stood up. Admiral Picard’s face appeared on the screen.

“Captain Rydell, welcome back.”

“Excuse me if I’m not too thrilled to be here, sir,” Rydell replied.

“Well, hopefully this won’t take too long. Your crew will have shore leave for the duration of your stay.” Cheers erupted across the bridge. Rydell glared at them. He had the strange feeling he’d just lost their sympathy. “Come to my office as soon as docking maneuvers are complete.”

“Oh wow! It’s mine, all mine!” Dillon screamed as he hobbled happily around his quarters.

“Travis,” Admiral Matt Dillon said, “Calm down. It’s not as big as the Secondprize.”

“I don’t care. It’s mine!”

“And you’re only on patrol and supply duty.”

“Mine! Mine! Mine!”

“I see you don’t really care, do you?” Matt’s image said. He was starting to wonder if this was a big mistake. Come to mention it, his brother, Richard, Travis’ father, hadn’t been too thrilled with Matt told him the news about his son’s promotion. Actually, his exact words were, “Please don’t do that. You’ll skew the results.” Whatever that meant. Still, his sister-in-law had been so adamant about it. Travis was a trained officer. He’d be fine.

“It’s ALL mine!”

“I’ll take that as a ‘no’. Come over to my office when you dock. We’ll discuss the details then.”

“Mine!” Dillon shouted as he turned off the viewscreen.

“Docking maneuvers complete, sir. Moorings have been secured,” Larkin said.

“Spacedock control says we can commence disembarking immediately,” Beck reported from the communications console.

“All right, folks. This is it,” Rydell said as he looked around the bridge. “I don’t know if I’ll be back, but if I’m not, I just want all of you to know that this has been the most… interesting command a captain could ask for. Have a good shore leave. Dismissed.” In a three second flurry of motion and cheers, the bridge cleared. Rydell took a last look at his bridge and walked to the turbolift.

The lift stopped at deck seven, and Commander Dillon got in. The two men stood in an uncomfortable silence for a few seconds as the turbolift resumed its course.

“I guess this is it, Number One,” Rydell said finally.

“Yes, sir. I guess so,” Dillon replied. He searched desperately for something else to say. “Looking forward to the trial?” That wasn’t it. Rydell looked at him strangely.

“Please tell me you’re kidding.”

“Uh… yeah. It was a joke. Good luck, Captain. I’m sure Jaroch will do a good job.”

“I hope so.” The turbolift opened, and Rydell and Dillon walked down the hall toward the docking hatch. “Good luck with your first command. It will be an experience that will stick with you all of your life.”

“I guess so if that operation is any indication. I don’t ever want to have to go through anything like that again. It felt like Dr. Singer didn’t use any anesthetic at all. Ramming something that big up a hole that small really hurts.”

“I imagine so.”

“What do you mean? You had the operation too,” Dillon said confused.

“Right,” Rydell replied, barely controlling his laughter. They had reached the hall to Admiral Picard’s office. “Goodbye, Dillon.” He ran off down the hall just in case Dillon figured things out. The mate magnet was real Starfleet issue, but the installation wasn’t exactly up to regulations.

Down in sickbay, Dr. Singer collapsed to the floor. The full effects of that overdose of pain killer she’d gotten were just starting to kick in. The drugs had lain dormant in her system for a while, but now they hit stronger than ever. The last nurse to leave didn’t notice the doctor on the floor. She turned off the lights and left. On the other side of the room, Dr. Singer was having an attitude adjustment.

“What are we going to do with him now?” Webber asked. She, Sullivan, Lisa, and Scott were seated in the spacedock lounge. Scott was staring out the window at the docked starships and babbling something about toys. “I don’t even live on Earth, and Rigel is a bit far away.”

“I don’t think that my apartment would be such a good idea either,” Sullivan added. The idea of Baird accidentally getting loose in San Francisco wasn’t very appealing.

“My family has a beach house on a small island off the coast of North Carolina,” Lisa said. “There’s only the house and some woods, but at least Scott couldn’t go far.” She glanced at the chief engineer. He wasn’t there. “Where’s Scott?” she demanded in a panic. They saw him climbing on top of a table across the room.

“A B C D E F G,” Baird sang at the top of his lungs. “H I J K L M N O P.”

“Well, at least he remembers the alphabet,” Webber said. “That makes the chances of him recovering fully pretty high.”

“Q R S T U V W X Y and Z. Now I know my ABC’s. Next time won’t you sing with me!” Baird took a bow. A table of Dinnaxins in the corner started applauding wildly. They were astounded that this earthling knew the words to the classic Dinnaxinian opera Ses a me-Stre et.

“Let’s get him out of here before somebody figures out something’s wrong,” Sullivan said. They retrieved Baird and headed to the spacedock transporter room.

Trinian straightened the last of the tables in Seven Backward and sat down in a chair to relax. The view of the interior of spacedock was quite impressive, but the Secondprize itself was eerily quiet. No engine noise, no footsteps, and no voices. She thought that she must be the last person left on the ship. It was a strange feeling. Trinian yawned and stretched. A little shore leave would be good. She hadn’t been to Europe in decades. She’d get a little rest and then go have some fun.

Gradually, she drifted off to sleep.

“You do understand why we’re doing this investigation, Captain Rydell?” Admiral Picard asked from behind his desk. Rydell was seated uncomfortably across from him.

“Not really, sir. My report was reviewed by Admiral Wagner, and I assumed that everything was all right,” Rydell replied.

“To tell you the truth, Rydell, I agree with Admiral Wagner’s assessment, but the Rusai Ambassador doesn’t see it our way. He demanded this investigation.”

“Oh great.” Rydell knew the Rusai’s reputation for following rules. They were even more uptight than Dillon at his worst. This was not going to be pleasant.

“The hearing will be presided over by Admiral Wagner, Admiral Richards, and myself.”

“Richards!” Rydell shouted. “You might as well just kill me now before Richards does it for you.” This was just great. The last time he saw Karen Richards, she said she would like nothing better than to see him dead. The two had dated for almost six months while Rydell was lieutenant stationed at Starfleet Headquarters, but things had ended badly. Alex wanted to see other people; Karen didn’t. She wasn’t pleased, and Alex got himself assigned to the first available starship.

“I’m sure that Admiral Richards will be perfectly objective in her treatment of this case. You have nothing to worry about. Oh yes, the Rusai have selected the prosecuting attorney.”

“What? Did they find a way to bring Hitler back and give him a law degree?”

“Rydell, you’re overreacting.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” Rydell replied. “I just don’t enjoy having my career on the line like this.”

“Understandable. The Rusai have selected an officer I have complete faith in: Captain William Riker.” Rydell slammed his head down on Picard’s desk. He was dead meat.

“So how are you doing, Travis?” Admiral Matt Dillon asked.

“Fine. Which ship’s mine?” Commander Dillon replied. So much for small talk. Maybe a different approach.

“What do you think of Captain Rydell?”

“He’s a great guy. When do I get my ship?” Dillon said. Evidently he had a one track mind at the moment.

“We’ve given you the USS Edsel,” Matt explained “She’s been undergoing a major refit for the last year. You can take her out in two days. We’ll have the official ceremony then. Oh, you need to get a first officer and a security chief. I’ve talked to Admiral Picard, and he said you can have your choice of anyone on the Secondprize.”

“Thanks, Uncle Matt,” Dillon said happily as he got up to leave. “I’ll see you in a couple of days.” Dillon half-walked, half-waddled out of the office.

Dillon danced down the spacedock halls elated. He finally knew which ship was his. He’d seen the paperwork. It was official. In two days, he would be Captain Travis Michael Dillon of the Starship Edsel. Dillon rounded a corner and ran straight into a cart pushed by an ensign. The corner of the cart impacted right where he’d just been operated on.

Dillon’s scream shook the spacedock.

Chapter Five

“Wow! This place is huge,” Emily Sullivan exclaimed as she walked around the outside of them Becks’ beach house. The house was bordered on three sides by forest with the beach out the back.

“Trees!” Baird shouted gleefully and darted off toward the woods. Webber and Sullivan ran after him while Beck entered her access code to get into the house.

“Come on, Scott,” Webber said. “We’ve got lots of toys inside.”

“Cool.” He ran into the house knocking Beck to the ground in the process.

“I’m starting to really wish he’d get his memory back,” Beck muttered as she picked herself up.

“But we haven’t done anything with him yet,” Sullivan protested. “I don’t want the old Scott back until I can at least get a glimpse of the new, improved Scott.”

“If he breaks anything, he’s going to lose a lot more than his memory.”

“Don’t worry about it, Lisa. We’ll keep him in line.” The three women walked into the house to start the retraining process.

Dr. Rebecca Singer awoke with a start. She quickly jumped up and surveyed her surroundings. She was still in Sickbay, good. She knew what she had to do. It was time to begin the process of claiming what was rightfully hers. Singer walked out into the hall and touched a computer access panel.

“Computer, how many Starfleet personnel are left on the Secondprize,” she said. Her voice was deeper and more distant.

“No Starfleet personnel are on board except for you, Dr. Singer,” the computer replied unemotionally. Singer was overcome with a flash of rage.

“I am not Dr. Singer! I am JAMES T. KIRK!” Singer screamed.

“Whatever you say, Dr. Singer,” the computer said. Its logic circuits were having a hard time with this one. Singer slammed her fists against the panel over and over.

“I am James T. Kirk! I am James T. Kirk! I am James T. Kirk!”

“O.K. O.K.” the computer said. It didn’t know why Dr. Singer was acting this way, but it did understand that she was about to break some of its circuitry. “You can be James T. Kirk if you want.”

“That’s Captain Kirk to you,” Singer demanded.

“Fine, Captain Kirk.”

“That’s better. Now page the two people nearest the Secondprize and have them come on board. I’ll meet them at the docking hatch.” Singer headed back to Sickbay. The computer did as it was told. It definitely didn’t want this psycho mad at it. In Sickbay, Singer filled two hyposprays and left for the docking hatch. She was about to get her first two followers.

“I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m dead,” Captain Rydell repeated over and over as he banged his head down on his desk. He and Lieutenant Commander Jaroch had been given quarters in spacedock for the duration of the hearing. That was just one more little annoyance. Rydell would have preferred that the trial take place at Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco, but that was not to be. He was stuck on the spacedock without even the comfort of actually being on Earth.

“It is not that bad, sir,” Jaroch said. Rydell stopped his head banging and looked up at the Secondprize’s science officer.

“What’s not so bad about it?” Rydell demanded.

“Well, at least the Federation doesn’t have the death penalty.”

“You’re a big help, Jaroch.”

“I try. Now, we have to plan your defense. You are charged with violating the Prime Directive because you transformed every Joegonot on Ugilious into a human.”

“Well, that is what happened.”

“Then what is the problem? Just plead guilty,” Jaroch suggested.

“Jaroch, the idea is not to get me sent to a rehabilitation colony for the rest of my life,” Rydell replied trying to control his temper. “The idea is to save my career.”

“Oh. Of course. Then we’ll say that you… did a service to humanity.”

“How are you going to do that? Sure, no one liked the Joegonots, but that doesn’t excuse wiping them out of existence. I’m screwed.”

“I find your negative attitude very annoying, sir. I’m trying to save you.”

“Good luck.”

“I have one more idea.”

“What?” Rydell asked hopefully.

“Kill Captain Riker and destroy all the evidence,” Jaroch replied.

“Nice thought, but I don’t think so.”

“I had to try, sir.”

“I know.”

“Now, Scott, there are some words that you cannot say,” Sullivan explained to Baird as they sat in the living room of the beach house.

“Why?” he asked innocently.

“Because they’re bad words, and we wouldn’t like it if you said them.”


“Because they offend us.”


“Because they do, all right!” Beck shouted. She was really getting fed up with this. Baird looked at her sheepishly.

“Why?” he asked.

“That’s it!” Beck screamed as she dove at Baird. “I’m going to kill him!” Webber and Sullivan jumped up and dragged Beck out of the room.

“Look,” Sullivan said. “We have to put up with this until we get him trained, O.K.?”

“O.K.” Beck mumbled grudgingly.

“Good, now let’s do the flash cards with him.” Sullivan, Beck, and Webber went back into the living room.

“As we said, Scott, there are some words that you had better not say or I’ll rip out your liver and stuff it back down your throat,” Beck said in her best elementary school teacher voice. “Now pay attention!” Beck held up a set of cards with words on them.

“The first word is ‘damn,’” Beck said. She held up the next card. “The second word is ‘shit.’”

“Do you think this will work?” Sullivan asked Webber.

“It should. His mind is not in a condition to refuse what it’s told,” the counselor replied.

“Great! A Scott that doesn’t cuss. Unbelievable!”

“The fifth word is ‘fuck,’” Beck continued.

“Do you have any idea what this is about,” Ensign Robert Olsen asked as he and Ensign Kathy Parker approached the Secondprize.

“Not a clue,” Kathy replied. “I was just told to report to the Secondprize. They walked down the service hall attaching the starship to spacedock and entered the ship. Suddenly, they were each jabbed with a hypospray. Its contents spilled into their bloodstreams and they collapsed to the deck. Dr. Singer laughed maniacally. Everything was going according to plan. The first of her flock had arrived. She pulled the bodies into the closest room and ran back to Sickbay to refill her hypos.

Commander ‘Soon to be Captain’ Travis Dillon rubbed his eyes tiredly. He’d been going over the Secondprize’s personnel files for the last three hours, but he’d found his people. Dillon stood up and walked over to the computer access terminal in his spacedock quarters.

“Computer, where are Lieutenants Patricia Hawkins and Sean Russell?”

“Lieutenant Hawkins is in Holodeck Seventeen. Lieutenant Russell has left spacedock.”

“Where the hell is he?”

“Malibu, Commander,” the computer replied. Dillon would just have to go get him, but first, he’d go get Hawkins.

Trinian slowly drifted awake and realized that she was sitting up. She looked around Seven Backward. The place was still deserted, and the ship had switched to night lighting.

“Computer, what time is it?” she asked groggily.

“It is 21:30 hours.”

“I was asleep for six hours?”

“I guess so. I can only keep track of so much. You were not exactly foremost on my mind,” the computer replied.

“Why not?”

“You are not official Starfleet personnel. They are my primary concern.”

“Thanks a lot.” Trinian stood up and walked over to the replicator. She made herself a drink and sat back down at the table. The quiet was very relaxing. There was nowhere that she really had to go to, so she’d just rest on the ship for a while.

Commander Travis Dillon stood outside of Holodeck Seventeen and looked at the computer monitor. The holodeck was running a special program that Hawkins had designed. Beyond that, he couldn’t tell anything. Oh well, he’d just have to go in. Dillon stepped up to the holodeck door which slowly opened revealing a steamy jungle. He walked inside and wiped away the sweat that was already forming on his brow. Suddenly, Hawkins, dressed all in camouflage and carrying an M-16, ran past him. She was being chased by a tribe of natives. They all wore loincloths, but their faces were painted like clowns and they were carrying pies.

“What the hell is this?” Dillon shouted.

“Aversion therapy!” Hawkins replied as she kept running. “You’d better get out of the way!”

“Why?” The natives let out a war cry that sounded like the horn of a Model-T. A pie smacked Dillon in the side of the head. He started running. When he caught up with Hawkins, she was scrambling up a tree. Dillon followed her up.

“You okay, sir?” Hawkins asked. She blasted a few clowns with her machine guns.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” The absurdity of the whole situation suddenly struck him. “Why are you fighting clowns?”

“I had a bad experience with them during the Joegonot incident. When Larkin sabotaged the ship, I was trapped in the holodeck with a bunch of them that kept attacking me with pies. I’ve been scared to death of them ever since. I’m using this to try and get over it.” She killed a few more. The clowns surrounded the tree and let out another cry.

From out of nowhere, a small car drove up to the tree. Fifty more clowns climbed out of it. “Damn! They’ve got reinforcements!”

“I need to talk to you.”

“Not now! Can’t you see we’re in trouble?”

“I want you to be my first officer.”


“I want you to come with me to the Edsel. You’ll be promoted to commander,” Dillon explained. Hawkins emptied another clip of bullets into the clown tribe.

“You’re kidding, right?” Hawkins asked as she reloaded. A promotion would be great, but she wasn’t sure that she wanted to deal with Dillon that much.

“Computer, give me two uzis and twenty clips,” Dillon ordered. These clowns were making it impossible to have a serious conversation. The computer quickly complied, producing the requested items in a satchel on the limb beside Dillon. He loaded his guns and started shooting. With the barrage of bullets coming from Dillon and Hawkins’ weapons, the clowns were soon either dead or retreating back into the jungle.

“That’s better. I need your decision, Lieutenant,” Dillon said.

“How’d you know how to do that?”


“The guns. Not many people can use guns that fire bullets anymore. They can only use phasers.”

“Oh, I watch a lot of old movies,” Dillon said confused at Hawkins’ reaction.

“I’ll take the position, sir,” Hawkins said. The promotion would be really good for her career. Maybe Dillon wouldn’t be that bad. If anything, they could go shooting together. That might at least make him tolerable.

Dr. Rebecca Singer stood in front of her twenty loyal followers prepared to lead them on their great quest. They would obey her every command. The drugs had helped, but no one could resist the will of James T. Kirk.

“The Secondprize is ours,” Singer shouted.

“Captain Kirk! Captain Kirk!” the crowd chanted.

“This is only the first step. Soon, all of the galaxy will be under my command.”

“Captain Kirk! Captain Kirk!”

“And James T. Kirk will be the most powerful person in the universe!” Singer raised her fists into the air and laughed. She was Starfleet’s greatest captain, and no one could stand in her way.

Chapter Six

Lieutenant Sean Russell was having the vacation of his life. Everything was going right. The weather was perfect, the waves were great, and there were girls everywhere. Russell was in paradise.

“Do you want another drink, Sean?” Darla asked from beside him.

“That’d be great, gorgeous,” Russell replied. He’d only met Darla three hours ago, but they’d gotten along fantastically. She was as perfect as the day, he thought as she got up in her tiny bikini and made her way over to the thatched-roofed bar a few hundred yards away.

Russell was content to stay there for the rest of his life. Suddenly, he heard a familiar hum and a muffled shout. He turned around and saw a pair of black boots sticking out of a sand dune about fifty yards behind him. The sand shifted, and Commander Travis Dillon crawled out. Dillon slapped his commbadge angrily.

“Dillon to spacedock transporter control. That wasn’t very damn funny! Your career is history, pal. I’m a captain! You can’t do that to me and get away with it!” Peals of laughter were the only response Dillon got. He brushed himself off as much as possible and walked over to Russell.

“Hello, Commander,” Russell said warily. He wanted to know why the hell Dillon was here. What was so important that Dillon came here personally instead of contacting him on his communicator?

“Lieutenant Russell, pack your things. We’re leaving.”

“What? I’m on shore leave!” Russell insisted angrily.

“Consider it canceled. I’m making you my security chief,” Dillon said.

“What?” This was getting really weird.

“Listen carefully. Me captain. You security chief. We go to ship. Understand?”

“Yeah, yeah. All right.” Russell stood up and put his gear together. This day had abruptly stopped being perfect. He saw Darla walking back with his drink.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“I’ve got to go, dear. My ship’s waiting.” Suddenly, an idea struck him. “Do you want to go?” he asked hopefully. Darla pushed her bleach blond hair back and contorted her face in deep thought.

“Okay!” she said two seconds later.

“Fine,” Dillon said. He slapped his commbadge. “Dillon to spacedock. Three to beam up.”

“Where are we going again?” Darla asked just as they dematerialized.

“Now, Scott, cooking is a very important skill to learn. If you can cook, you will make all of us very happy,” Webber said as she tied the apron around Baird’s waist. “You want to make us happy, don’t you?”

“Yeah! Yeah!” Baird exclaimed.

“Good boy. I knew you would. The first lesson is the stove.” Webber leaned down and switched on the appliance. Nothing happened. “Lisa, your stove’s broken,” she yelled.

“Great,” Beck replied from the next room.

“I fix! I fix!” Baird said. Somewhere down in his mind, a memory stirred. Nothing much, but Scott Baird was on the road back to his normal self.

Captain Rydell sat in the spacedock lounge nursing a drink and gazing at his ship. He couldn’t help but wonder if he’d ever get her back. Rydell scolded himself for being so pessimistic. He hadn’t lost the Secondprize yet. Jaroch would find a way out of this. He may have to kill the entire admiralty, but he would find a way.

“Mind if I sit down,” a voice said from behind him. Rydell turned to face the newcomer.

“I guess I can’t stop you,” Rydell replied dejectedly as he turned back to the window. Captain William Riker sat down and followed Rydell’s gaze to the Secondprize.

“You’re going to miss her, aren’t you?” Riker asked. Rydell detected a bit of smugness in his voice. Actually, he detected a lot of it.

“I haven’t lost yet. I will get my ship back.”

“Right, Alex. Not many people manage to salvage their careers after being accused of violating the Prime Directive.”

“Will, did you just come here to gloat, or do you have something to talk to me about?” Rydell demanded irritatedly.

“I mainly wanted to gloat, but I did want to discuss a deal.”

“A deal? What kind of deal?”

“If you plead guilty, I’ll see to it that you’re only bumped down to ensign. I’ll even try to get you posted on the Enterprise,” Riker replied. Rydell saw the twinkle in Riker’s eyes. He wished he had a fork so he could put it out.

“You’d love that, wouldn’t you, Will? Having me under your command. I don’t think so. I’d rather be thrown to the Cardassians.”

“I’ll see what I can do. We’re out that way quite a bit.”

“You’re trying to get me to punch you out, aren’t you?” Rydell asked through gritted teeth.

“It would make my case a lot easier to prove. Assaulting an officer is good sign of disrespect for rules and authority.”

“You’re even more of an asshole than you were at the academy, Will. I didn’t think that was possible.”

“I always try to be the best.”

“You still sore about that little joke I pulled on you?” Rydell asked smiling. It was time to let Riker feel uncomfortable for a change. Riker laughed weakly.

“No, it was a joke. We were young and stupid.” He wasn’t very convincing.

“The fact is that you hated me then, and you still hate me to this day. You were a pompous jerk, and it really pissed you off that I not only beat you in every class but made you look like an idiot around the other cadets. You were jealous, Riker,” Rydell said. Riker slammed his fist on the table angrily.

“I’m going to destroy you, Rydell! This isn’t about stupid pranks at the academy! This is about you spending the rest of your life in a rehabilitation colony! It’s going to happen, Alex. You don’t have a chance.” He stood up and stormed off.

“We’ll see,” Rydell said softly. He heard more footsteps behind him. Before he could turn around, a hand grabbed him by the hair and slammed his head into the table twenty times.

“That’s for dumping me,” Karen Richards shouted as she slammed Rydell’s head down one last time and charged out of the lounge.

“Check please,” Rydell muttered.

On the Secondprize, Dr. Singer and her followers had just gotten into the armory. They grabbed every phaser and phaser rifle they could get their hands on.

“Spread out around the ship,” Singer ordered. “Once the Secondprize has been secured, we’ll begin the next phase.”

“Captain Kirk! Captain Kirk!”

Trinian was enjoying her solitude in Seven Backward. She had replicated herself a huge meal and was sitting back to enjoy it and the view. Every once in a while, people just need to be someplace alone with no worries or problems. Unfortunately, Trinian was not in one of those places.

Chapter Seven

Dr. Reginald Smythe stood up and brushed the dirt off of his knees. He pushed his hat back from his forehead with a smile of satisfaction. His deductions had turned out to be correct. The Firzuk had once been here.

“Dr. Smythe, come here!” his assistant shouted excitedly. Smythe took a look at his discovery to make sure it was secure and then went over to Mr. Kellam.

“What have you discovered, Chris?” Smythe asked. Chris Kellam held up a small rectangular object covered in dirt.

“It looks like a computer padd,” Kellam replied handing the object to his professor.

“Good,” Smythe said as he examined the padd. “I found a larger device a few yards away. We must have found a Firzuk research station. The logic is irrefutable.” Kellam groaned inwardly. Smythe was about to start again. “We first have the premise that the Firzuk were scientists. As auxiliary premises we have the knowledge that the Firzuk lived in this sector, this technology is undeniable Firzuk, and there are too few structures here for this to be a home world. Therefore, we may draw the conclusion that this is a Firzuk research station. Do you follow my logic?”

“Yes, Dr. Smythe,” Kellam replied unenthusiastically.

“Good. It is vitally important as both scientists and philosophers of science that we understand the process leading to the discovery,” Smythe continued. Kellam really wished that this man wasn’t in control of his grade. When he signed up for the archaeology expedition to Gulax IV, he hadn’t bargained on getting stuck with Dr. Smythe. The man could spout pointless, unintelligible philosophical babble for hours.

“I’ll go check on the others,” Kellam said making an excuse to get away. He made a hasty retreat as Dr. Smythe glanced around the area where Kellam had made his discovery. Something was not quite right. He crouched down and used his laser digger to clear away the dirt. There was a hatch buried there. Smythe pulled on it. It wouldn’t budge. Taking the next logical step, Smythe stood up and jumped up and down on the hatch. It gave, and Smythe fell ten feet to the metal floor below. By the light coming through from the hole above, Smythe could just make out what was in the chamber.

“Mr. Kellam!” he shouted anxiously. “Get over here!”

“Are you O.K., Dr. Smythe?” Kellam asked as he peered down into the hole.

“Don’t worry about me. Get back to camp and contact Starfleet. We need a ship here now!”

“Now this scene of the film demonstrates Verhoeven’s ability to handle emotional moments with sensitivity and caring. Notice how Robocop saves the young human’s life by obliterating the testicles of the criminal. This symbolizes the struggle against infertility faced by many Earth males in the late twentieth century.”

“Captain Donask, we are intercepting a message to Starfleet,” the voice of Commander Konoth announced over the ship’s intercom system. Donask threw down her laser pointer in disgust. In an effort to teach Klingons about their Federation allies, Captain Donask had taken it upon herself to instruct her crew on the finer points of Federation entertainment. Her film class had so far analyzed all of the Friday the Thirteenth films, every Rambo film, and she was starting on the Robocop series.

“I do not care about Starfleet messages, Commander!” Donask shouted back angrily. “We do not spy on our allies!”

“This one is different, Captain,” Konoth insisted. Donask crushed the film projector violently and stormed toward the door.

“I want a three thousand word paper analyzing the love imagery in Friday the Thirteenth Part Eight by tomorrow,” she growled back to her class. As she charged out of the room, several shouts of anger erupted behind her. She smiled satisfied that she had succeeded in torturing her pupils for another day.

“What is it?” Donask roared as she entered the bridge of the patrol cruiser Ko’jak.

“Put the message on screen,” Konoth ordered. The communications officer complied rapidly, and the face of a young human male appeared on the viewscreen.

“Starfleet command, we need assistance immediately. My name is Chris Kellam. I’m a student on an archaeology expedition to Gulax Four with Doctor Reginald Smythe. Doctor Smythe has found something incredible. Send a starship immediately.” The message ended.

“So what?” Donask demanded as she reached for her disrupter. Konoth started to get nervous.

“Captain, why would an archaeology expedition need Starfleet? Do you not see that they must have found something extremely powerful?”

“Are you implying that I am stupid, Konoth?” Donask bellowed.

“No, Captain.”

“How fortunate for you,” Donask replied. She turned toward the navigator. In one fluid motion, Donask whirled back around, drew her disrupter, and disintegrated Konoth. “Too bad I do not believe you. Gornok, where is Gulax Four?”

“It is about three light years across the Federation border, Captain,” the navigation officer replied. Donask considered the situation. Taking off at maximum warp would cause suspicion. Stealth was required.

“Lay in a course. Warp three,” she ordered. It would take longer to get there at only warp three, but she knew the Federation. A request like that would get buried in bureaucracy. She and her crew would arrive at Gulax IV days before the message was even noticed by a Starfleet admiral. Then, if she found a weapon, Donask could claim it for the Klingon Empire. She would be a hero, and the empire could regain its former glory.

Unfortunately for Captain Donask, she did not know the Federation quite as well as she thought. Admiral Jean-Luc Picard had a passion for archaeology and insisted that any find related to that field be directed immediately to him.

“Admiral, Starfleet communications just sent over a message from Gulax Four,” Picard’s secretary announced over the intercom. Picard dropped the Earl Grey tea he was drinking on himself in surprise.


“Could you repeat that, Admiral?”

“I’m sorry,” Picard gasped as the pain subsided. “Patch it through to my viewer. Picard watched Kellam’s message with interest then alarm. If they had found a Firzuk weapon, the results could be disastrous. Picard had to do something, but he couldn’t just divert a starship to Gulax IV. With the Edsel in spacedock, the Klingon/Federation border was undermanned. The Edsel! That was the answer. He could just send it to Gulax IV as its first assignment. “Get me Admiral Wagner,” Picard ordered.

Trinian had finally had enough of sitting around alone. Solitude was nice for a while, but it was getting old real fast. Anyway, Captain Rydell was about to go through a Starfleet investigation. She should be with him for support. Trinian stood up and headed for the doors of Seven Backward. She saw something moving outside just before she got to the point where the doors would open automatically. As they came closer, Trinian saw two people carrying phaser rifles. They had on Starfleet uniforms, but they were eighty years out of date.

“Computer,” she demanded. “Who else is on the Secondprize?”

“Captain James T. Kirk, Ensign Kathy Parker, Lieutenant…”

“That’s enough,” Trinian snapped. Captain Kirk? This was weird. She’d heard that he’d shown up in the 24th century recently, but supposedly he died almost immediately. How was he on the Secondprize?

Trinian saw the two people outside heading toward the doors of Seven Backward, so she ducked behind the bar. She didn’t care if they were in Starfleet uniforms, something was not right about them. They had very blank expressions on their faces, and they were carrying phaser rifles. Hiding seemed like the best course of action to her. The two men entered the lounge.

“If she’s Captain Kirk, can I be Mr. Spock?” one asked the other.

“I guess so. I want to be Chekov then.”

“Chekov! Why? All he does is get hurt and scream.”

“But I scream really well.” He let out a blood-curdling screech.

“Wow! That was great!”

“Thanks, Spock.”

“This is so cool.”

Trinian leaned back against the bar and tried to make sense of what she’d just heard. She failed miserably. These guys were completely out of their mind which probably meant that their leader was even worse. This was not good.

“The hearing starts tomorrow, Captain. We have to go through this,” Jaroch insisted.

“Jaroch, we’ve been through it a hundred times already. I know what happened. I know what I did. I know what I said. I know what everyone else said. I know the color of the Joegonots’ damn carpet. What the hell to you want from me?!” Rydell shouted. He was exhausted. If the hearing was a grueling as Jaroch’s preparation sessions, Rydell didn’t think he was going to make it.

“Fine, we’ll take a break.” Jaroch sat down and tried to relax. He shifted in his chair. Then again.

“What is it, Jaroch?” Rydell asked finally.

“I’m sorry, sir, but there’s something I want to know.”


“What did you do to Captain Riker?”

“It’s a long story, Jaroch,” Rydell replied as he leaned back on the sofa to make himself more comfortable. This could take a while.

Chapter Eight

“Rydell! Rydell! Rydell!” the crowd chanted as Cadet Alexander Rydell prepared for the next round of targets. He was about to beat the class record on the Academy phaser range.

“You call that shooting?” a voice asked. Rydell ignored it for the moment and finished off the next round of targets. The crowd cheered wildly as the last target exploded. Rydell turned to face the crowd.

“Yes, I call that shooting,” Rydell said.

“My weekend pass says you can’t beat me,” a male voice said from the crowd. A tall cadet walked up to the front and stepped onto the range.

“You’re a bit cocky, aren’t you, pal?”

“I can’t be beat. That’s not cockiness; that’s a fact.” the cadet replied with a twinkle in his eye. “William T. Riker.”

“Alex Rydell,” Alex replied as he extended his hand. Riker didn’t take it.

“I’m here to beat you, not make friends. Let’s go.” Riker grabbed a phaser off of the rack. “Computer, set range to competition mode.” He stepped into position and aimed his phaser. Rydell glanced at the crowd and shrugged. This Riker guy was a real jerk. The first volley of targets flew into the air. Rydell blasted them all with ease. Riker missed one and growled angrily.

“Maybe you should have tried the Klingon academy,” Rydell said. “You’ve got the growl and the looks for it.” Riker glared at him. The second volley flew up. Again Rydell hit them all. Riker missed the last one by millimeters. The crowd started to chant again.

“Rydell! Rydell! Rydell!”

“Shut up, you idiots!” Riker shouted. In the third volley, both cadets hit all of the targets. The fourth volley again ended in a tie. The fifth and final volley was about to start.

“Only one more to go, Riker,” Rydell commented.

“Yes,” Riker said almost too happily. He was up to something. Rydell set himself for the final volley. Riker made a sudden sideways jump knocking Rydell to the ground. The volley flew up. Rydell leveled his phaser and picked off the targets from the ground. He shot Cadet Riker just for good measure. The setting wasn’t even high enough to stun him, but Riker would get a shock out of it. Riker let out a cry and fell to the floor. Rydell picked himself up and glanced at the writhing Riker.

“Best two out of three?” Rydell suggested smugly. Riker kicked at him. Rydell jumped back and walked off the platform. “Maybe some other time then.”

Riker slowly stood up and limped away. Rydell was met by the cheers and congratulations of his classmates. Across the room, Riker was leaning against the wall glaring at him angrily. His ego wouldn’t take a defeat like this lightly. Rydell had a feeling that he’d just made an enemy. He sighed inwardly. He’d been at the academy for five months already and had avoided pissing off anyone else thus far. It was bound to happen at some point.

“Cadet Rydell, report to the mess hall. Cadet Rydell, report to the mess hall,” the intercom blared. Rydell opened his eyes and looked at the chronometer. It was two-thirty in the morning. Riker must be getting desperate. He’d spoiled three of Riker’s practical joke attempts in the last week. That made seventeen in the month since he’d embarrassed Riker at the phaser range. Rydell jumped down out of the top bunk, threw on his uniform, and grabbed his tricorder. He really wanted to know how Riker got access to the intercom system.

Rydell wandered out into the hall and toward the mess hall. The building was silent. As he approached the doors to the mess hall, Rydell scanned the room’s interior. Two people were just beyond the door and two more were across the room crouched behind tables. Not a problem. He ducked down the hall to the entrance to the small kitchen adjoining the mess hall. Not many cadets used the kitchen since they could get almost anything they wanted from replicators, but it was there just in case someone had the urge to cook. Rydell used it more than just about anyone. He enjoyed making food for himself. This time he’d would be making something just a bit different.

“Where is he?” Will Riker demanded from his position behind the table. “It’s been fifteen minutes already.” Suddenly, the kitchen door opened and a cart rolled into the room. A slightly steaming pot was on top of it. “He’s in the kitchen! Let’s get him.” Riker and the others jumped up and started moving toward the door. The pot exploded violently sending scalding hot blue liquid spraying over all of them.

Enjoying the resulting screams and shouts, Rydell walked back to his quarters and went back to sleep.

In class the next day, Rydell watched the door eagerly awaiting Riker’s arrival. Riker and his roommate entered a couple of minutes later. Their faces and hands were an interesting mixing of red burns and blue stains. Rydell smiled contently. To make the day perfect, Rydell beat Riker by fourteen points on their tactics exam, and Riker was given an official rebuke for being out of his room after curfew and messing up the mess hall.

After that, Will Riker stayed away from Rydell as much as possible. This suited Rydell just fine. Riker’s persistence was admirable, but it was becoming tedious real quick. Will Riker decided that the best course of action was to pull back for now. There would be another time to settle this. He gradually lost his overwhelming ego and became a decent guy. Despite this, his desire for revenge against Alex Rydell remained. When the opportunity presented itself, he swore that he’d take it.

Alex Rydell would pay.

Chapter Nine

“You turned him blue?” Jaroch asked as Rydell finished his story. He was the closest to laughing that Rydell had ever seen.

“Yeah. It took almost a month to wear completely off. He was called ‘Little Boy Blue’ for the rest of our freshman year and half of the next,” Rydell replied laughing. “They ended up having to repaint the entire mess hall because the stuff just would not come off. I eventually made friends with the other three guys that helped Riker with the ambush, but I never could get close to Will. He avoided me like the plague.”

“Well, sir. You did humiliate him time and time again. Even he must have finally learned to stay away from you.”

“That was his choice. I was perfectly willing to forget about the whole thing and start over. Evidently Riker isn’t so forgiving.”

“Well, he has his chance to even the score now, sir,” Jaroch said.

“Hopefully, it won’t turn out that way, but if it does, I still remember how to make the blue stuff.”

“He’s asleep,” Sullivan announced exhausted as she trudged into the living room. Beck handed her a drink.

“Regretting this yet?” she asked.

“No. The training is finally done. Starting tomorrow, I’ll have the boyfriend I always wanted.”

“I’ve been hesitant to bring this up until now, but, Emily, this is not exactly a good sign for your relationship,” Webber said.

“What do you mean?”

“You can’t go changing the people you date. They are who they are.”

“I’m only changing him temporarily. It’s an experiment more than anything.”

“I’m just glad it’s done,” Beck said leaning back in her chair. “Scott was about to drive me crazy.”

“Trust me. Tomorrow it will all be worth it,” Sullivan said happily.

Back in his bedroom, Commander Scott Baird dreamt of a starship and fixing that starship. He smiled contently and rolled over. Abruptly, the dream turned in to a nightmare. He was being chased by three horrible demons who were trying to take his tools from him and turn him into one of them. He awoke in a cold sweat. He was safe at Miss Lisa’s house. Baird sighed with relief, but something was nagging at the back of his mind. Somehow, he knew that this was not right. He didn’t know why, but he knew he was in trouble.

“Hey, I just thought of something.”

“What is it, Chekov?”

“You can’t be Spock. He’s still alive.”

“Oh yeah. O.K. I’ll be Scotty then.”

“He’s still alive too.”


“Same problem.”

“This isn’t fun anymore.”

Trinian was getting really tired of listening to those two idiots. She had to do something to stop these guys from taking over the ship. She had a phaser rifle that she kept behind the bar, but she wasn’t sure she could take out both of them before they got her. Perhaps it was time to try the easy approach. She stood up.

“Would you like a drink?” she asked hoping that they wouldn’t blast her into oblivion. The two men whirled around ready to fire.

“How’d you get in here?” ‘Chekov’ demanded. Trinian hoped these guys were as drugged as they looked.

“I am the serving android. I am always here. I reside in a service panel behind the bar.” She tried to imitate Larkin’s stiff movements.

“Oh, all right,” the other replied. “I’ll have a whiskey please.”

“Same here,” his companion added. Trinian turned to the replicator and programmed it. Two glasses of liquid materialized. She placed them in front of her customers and put her hand on the phaser rifle. The two men drank eagerly. Their faces switched to pure agony. They clutched their throats and started screaming hoarsely.

“Oops, I must have made jalapeno pepper juice by mistake. Silly me.” She quickly raised the phaser rifle and stunned the two men before they could even get their hands to their weapons. She had secured Seven Backward. That was the easy part. There were more of these psychos all over the ship. “Computer, show me a schematic of the locations of all non-Secondprize personnel on the ship.” A diagram of the Secondprize appeared on the monitor behind the bar. There were twenty people indicated. This was not going to be easy. She decided to work from the top down. That meant she had to take out the three on the bridge first. Trinian cautiously exited Seven Backward and headed toward the nearest turbolift.

“And now ladies and gentlemen I’d like to introduce the new captain of the Starship Edsel, a man who has become a legend on the USS Secondprize and throughout the Federation. This officer has excelled at everything he has attempted. His abilities are second to none, and his devotion to Starfleet regulations are extraordinary. I’m sure you all know who I am referring to, but I’m going to introduce him anyway because his name sounds so impressive. He here is, Starfleet’s finest officer: Travis Michael Dillon!” Travis Dillon strutted in front of the mirror after giving himself such a glowing introduction. “Thank you. Thank you. The half hour standing ovation was unnecessary, but I appreciate it all the same. I consider it a great honor to be chosen to command this fine starship. I have no doubt that the crew will live up to my high standards and learn much from observing me in action. Many of you are probably wondering how I became the legend I am today. Well, it all started with my parents in the small town of…” The doorbell chimed. “Come in,” Dillon snapped, irritated that his acceptance speech had been interrupted. Lieutenant Patricia Hawkins entered Dillon’s quarters.

“I’ve got to talk to you for second, Commander,” Hawkins said. Her voice was filled with concern.

“Can you give me an hour?” Dillon asked obliviously.

“I don’t think so, sir,” Hawkins replied.

“Alright. Have a seat, Lieutenant.” He walked over to the captain’s chair he’d had replicated and sat down. She took the sofa.

“I think you might want to consider someone else for your first officer,” she began.

“Why?” Dillon asked alarmed. He didn’t want to have to go searching for a replacement with only three hours remaining until the promotion ceremony.

“Do you really want a first officer who’s going to run scared whenever a clown shows up?” Hawkins asked somberly. Dillon considered this for a moment. In all of his years on starships, he’d never run into a race of killer clowns. Of course, you never knew what was out there, but he was willing to take a chance. It was time to try Captain Rydell’s sensitivity training.

“Patricia.” Good. Always use the first name. It makes you seem more personal and caring. “I need your experience and abilities on the Edsel.” Make them feel wanted. You’re doing great, Travis. “The clown thing is not important. The odds of us running into a bunch of clowns are infinitesimal.”

“That’s true.”

“I’ll help you get over this,” Dillon said comfortingly. Hawkins thought about this. Dillon was the biggest clown she knew, and she wasn’t scared of him. If she could handle him, she could handle anything.

“You’re right, sir,” Hawkins said. “Sorry to bother you. I’ll see you at the ceremony, Commander.” She left Dillon’s quarters. Dillon let out a sigh of relief. One disaster averted. Luckily, that didn’t take long, so he still time to practice his speech again.

Dr. Reginald Smythe had moved most of his things into the underground room he’d discovered. He wanted to be with his discovery as much as possible. He and Kellam were working day and night examining and cataloging the equipment and seeing about the possibility of restoring power.

“Dr. Smythe, what is this stuff for?” Kellam asked finally giving into his curiosity.

“I believe it’s best if you don’t know,” Smythe replied. “The importance of this equipment is such that the fewer who know what it is, the better.”

“Whatever you say, Professor.”

“Good. Now where did I put that data padd?” Kellam looked around frantically. He had to find it before Smythe dove into the deductive process of locating it. He started digging through the equipment. “Starting with the premise that I last had it in this room,” Smythe began. Kellam looked faster. “And acknowledging the auxiliary premises that it is still where I left it and…”

“I found it!” Kellam shouted relieved.

“Ah good. Now let us continue.” Smythe went back to his cataloging. Kellam collapsed against the wall. That one was close, too close. He really wished that the starship would get here so someone else would have to listen to Smythe’s ramblings. He didn’t think he could take much more.

With the hearing starting in only a couple of hours, Captain Alex Rydell was unable to sleep. Jaroch was working silently in the corner coming up with his strategy. Rydell could do nothing but sit and wait. Images of Will Riker and Karen Richards laughing and having a drink in the spacedock lounge flickered through his mind. He pushed them away. Now was not the time to have paranoid delusions of persecution… even though he knew that they were out to get him.

Chapter Ten

“And now ladies and gentleman, I’d like to introduce the new captain of the Starship Edsel,” Admiral Thomas Wagner stated after he’d finished his opening remarks. Travis Dillon sat behind him relieved that everything was going according to plan. “Captain Travis Michael Dillon,” Wagner finished. Dillon jumped up startled at the abruptness of the introduction. He would just have to make up for it in his acceptance speech. “Captain Dillon, you and your crew have a mission to get started on, so we won’t waste any more time with this ceremony,” Wagner said before Dillon could open his mouth. “As of Stardate 49835.2, Travis Michael Dillon is promoted to captain and Lieutenant Patricia Hawkins is promoted to commander. Dismissed.” The crowd of Starfleet officials and the crew of the Edsel dispersed quickly, leaving Dillon standing alone at the podium in shock.

“But…” Dillon stammered. There was no one there to hear it. “I want to do my speech!” he whined. The sound echoed in the empty room. The door whooshed open again, and Commander Hawkins entered.

“Come on, Captain. We’ve got to get going,” she insisted. “The orders are straight from Admiral Picard.”

“Okay,” Dillon mumbled. The excitement of command had been diminished slightly. He wanted to do his speech. Oh well, he could always just use the Edsel’s intercom system.

“How long until we cross into Federation space?” Donask demanded as she entered the bridge of the Ko’jak.

“Three hours and then it will be another day from there to the Gulax system,” Gornok replied.

“This had better be worth it,” Donask grumbled.

Captain Travis Michael Dillon walked onto the bridge of the Edsel with his head held high. The bridge was smaller than that of the Secondprize, but it was his bridge. He sat down in the command chair and struck a commanding pose.

“Tell spacedock control that we are ready for departure,” he ordered. “Clear all moorings. Ahead full thrusters.” The starship slowly started to move.

“Spacedock reports that we’re clear for departure,” Lieutenant Russell announced. Despite its smaller size, the Edsel had a more modern bridge than the Secondprize. The positions of security chief and communications officer had been combined into one. Instead of a navigation and helm, the Edsel had conn and ops. It was different, but Dillon was sure he’d get used to it. Every new starship since the Enterprise had been done this way except for the Secondprize. He wasn’t sure why, but he had heard rumors about a major screw up at the shipyards.

“Ahead one quarter impulse,” Dillon ordered.

“But, sir, we haven’t cleared spacedock,” Ensign Cesnell protested. Dillon smiled.

“Trust me. Just do it.” She complied. The Edsel shot forward and got caught between the huge spacedock doors that hadn’t opened all the way. The entire crew was shaken out of their seats except for Dillon, who was flung all the way to the front of the bridge.

Dillon peeled his face off of the viewscreen and stomped back to his chair. “So I made a minor miscalculation? So what?” he snapped.

The doors finally opened far enough that the Edsel could move. The ship shot forward like a car suddenly switched from neutral to drive. Dillon flipped backwards over his command chair, hit the wall, and fell into the turbolift. The rest of the bridge crew slowly resumed their positions.

“Set a course for Gulax Four,” Hawkins ordered rubbing the shoulder she’d slammed into the wall. “Warp six.”

The turbolift stopped violently and the doors whooshed open. Dillon crawled out battered and bruised. He was in a corridor on a deck of living quarters.

“Horsey!” a child’s voice screamed excitedly. Dillon felt a weight slam down on his back. The air was knocked out of him. “Go, horsey! Go!” The child kicked Dillon’s sides. Dillon collapsed to the deck. The child crawled off and looked down at Dillon angrily. “Bad horsey!” Dillon lost consciousness as a small foot smashed into his forehead.

“This inquest is called to order,” Admiral Jean-Luc Picard said as he slammed down his gavel. “Today’s session will just be the presentation of charges and opening statements. Admiral Richards will read the charges.”

“The slime sucking defendant, Captain Alexander ‘Demon from Hell’ Rydell is hereby charged with violating the Prime Directive in his mission to Ugilious on Stardate 49804.7. The bastard interfered with the natural development of the Joegonot society by transforming the entire race into human beings. I would also like to add that he’s an all-around asshole.”

“Thank you, Admiral,” Picard said. Maybe she was a little biased. “In the future, please refrain from expressing your personal views of the defendant.”

“I’ll leave the shithead alone,” Richards said grudgingly.

“Captain Riker, please present your opening statement,” Picard said. Riker stood up slowly, gave Rydell a glance which clearly read ‘I’m going to bury you’, and walked to the center of the courtroom.

“Admirals, I am going to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the bastard in question took it upon himself to interpret the Prime Directive and in the process showed his complete disrespect for Starfleet regulations.”

“We may have a problem,” Jaroch whispered.

“No shit!” Rydell hissed. Riker continued his tirade against Rydell. Finally, it was Jaroch’s turn.

“The defense may make its opening statement,” Picard said. Jaroch stood up and started to pace.

“Since the beginning of the universe, planets have grown and evolved,” Jaroch began. Rydell buried his head in his hands. This was awful. “Most of this development has been unhindered by outside forces, but every once in a while something comes along which affects that development. It may be an asteroid, a supernova, a freak orbital shift, or a Starfleet officer.” Jaroch was comparing him to a natural disaster. This was just great. Rydell glanced at Riker. Riker was smiling gleefully. Rydell didn’t blame him. Jaroch was doing half of his work for him. “The Ugilious incident was just the next step in Joegonot evolution. Captain Rydell did what he thought was necessary to save his ship and crew. Nothing more. He didn’t destroy a society. He just was the impetus of change nature used. Also, he saved the entire Federation from one of the most powerful weapons in history. If the Joegonots had not been altered, they would have used the transference ray to conquer the entire galaxy. Thank you.” Jaroch sat back down.

“Thank you, gentlemen,” Admiral Picard said. “We will reconvene tomorrow morning at nine hundred hours for testimony. This court is adjourned.” Admiral Richards glared at Rydell and left the room. Riker walked over and talked to Picard jovially. Admiral Wagner approached Rydell and Jaroch.

“I don’t know what to say, Alex. It doesn’t look good.”

“I know, Admiral,” Rydell replied. “But I’m sure that Jaroch will think of something.” Jaroch was mumbling softly. “Jaroch? Jaroch?!” Jaroch was startled out his ramblings.

“What?” he asked

“I said that you’ll think of something.”

“Yeah, sure,” Jaroch replied unconvincingly. He went back to his mumbling.

“What are you doing, Lieutenant Commander?” Admiral Wagner asked annoyed.

“A ritual Yynsians prayer, sir,” Jaroch replied. “It asks for divine guidance or the gruesome death of your opponents. Either would be appreciated right now.” Jaroch walked away. Wagner patted Rydell on the shoulder reassuringly and followed Jaroch out the door.

“Feeling a little pressure, Alex?” Riker asked smugly as he walked over. Rydell laughed humorlessly. “That offer for a plea bargain is still open.”

“Will, you pompous bastard. I am going to win this, not to save my career, but because I want to be able to throw all of this back into your face. Speaking of that, you might want to cut back on the food consumption a bit. Your beard isn’t hiding that double chin very well anymore.” Riker stormed off. Rydell glanced around the courtroom. It was so grey and sterile. A very depressing, yet fitting place to have his career destroyed. He just hoped that wouldn’t happen.

“I told you it would work out,” Sullivan said triumphantly after Baird had walked back into the kitchen. “Dinner was great, and we didn’t have to lift a finger.”

“Don’t get too used to this, Emily,” Webber said. “He’s going to get his memory back eventually.”

“Can’t we hit him over the head again or something?” Sullivan whined. “I don’t want him to get his memory back. I like him the way he is now.”

“This is not Scott Baird,” Webber insisted.

“It is now!” Sullivan shouted. “He doesn’t cuss, he doesn’t spend all of his free time on the holodeck riding his bike, he cooks for me…”

“And he isn’t Scott. If you want someone who’s going to do everything you say, you should be the one hanging out on the holodeck. Scott is an individual. He is who he is and not who you want him to be. Not to mention, he’s basically a child at the moment, which is very disturbing.”

“Maybe he can return to being a mature adult with our modifications intact,” Sullivan said hopefully.

“Emily, that’s not how this is going to play out.”

“Can we get back to the part where he’s taking too long with dessert?” Beck interrupted.

“You’re right,” Sullivan said. “Scott!” There was no response. “SCOTT!” Still no answer. Beck, Webber, and Sullivan jumped up and ran into the kitchen. Baird was nowhere to be seen. They threw open the back door and looked out onto the beach. Baird was gone.

Chapter Eleven

“Captain’s Log, Stardate 49836.3. The Edsel got underway without incident. I have spent the travel time to Gulax Four getting to know some of the children on board. I must say that I am relieved that Starfleet has realized the value of my abilities. I would have been disappointed with a dull patrol duty. Now, we are taking on a mission of vital importance to the Federation. I think. The truth is that I have no idea what’s on Gulax Four. I can only assume that it’s important since they sent a whole starship.

I’d also like to say that this captain’s log stuff is great. I get to sit here and speak my mind without interruptions. I really think that it took Starfleet far too long to realize my talents. I should have been promoted to captain long ago. To be honest, I should have been made captain straight out of the academy. I’m a natural. At least now, I can start making up for lost time. I will have made a name for myself before the end of this mission.” The door chime beeped softly. Dillon switched off the captain’s log recorder and swiveled to face the door.

“Come in.”

Commander Hawkins entered the ready room.

“We’ll be arriving at Gulax in five hours, sir,” Hawkins reported.

“Thank you, Number One,” Dillon replied. It was great being able to call someone else that.

“How’s your head?”

“Much better, thanks,” Dillon replied as he put his hand on the large red bump on his right temple.

“How about your arm?”

“It’s okay.”

“What about your back?”


“Just checking. Let me know if you need me to take command for a while or something.”

“I will,” Dillon replied irritated. Hawkins had been encouraging him to let her handle this mission ever since the problem in spacedock. Dillon had to admire her desire for command, but this was his ship. He was the captain, and he wouldn’t be giving command to anyone for a long time.

“Okay. I’ll be on the bridge.”

“I’m sure you will,” Dillon said.

“You’ve completely forgotten, haven’t you?”


“This is your ship so…”

“Oh yeah, the opening credits!” Dillon exclaimed. “I’ll take care of them right away.”

Hawkins left the ready room shaking her head. This was going to be a long mission.

Dillon stood up and cleared his throat. This had to be good. No screw ups. Just say the lines like he always dreamed they should be. The lights dimmed. Dillon began to speak.

“Space, it’s real cold out here. These are the great voyages of the starship fill in starship here.” Damn! He forgot to put in the name. Oh well, he couldn’t go back now. “Its continuing mission: to find me a new girl every week, to make me famous throughout the galaxy, to absolutely show that I’m the greatest man who ever lived.


That was better. The ship really felt more like it was his now. He had his own credits. This was great!

Things had not gone exactly as Trinian had hoped. The turbolifts had been shut down, leaving her stuck on deck seven. She wandered back to the lounge and rethought her plan. The only way left to the bridge was the jefferies tubes. Unfortunately, the tube ended right under the bridge floor. She would have to flip open the panel and stun the three people there before they got her. The odds didn’t seem too good of that idea succeeding. She decided to wait until ship’s night before she tried anything. For the time being she would wait in Seven Backward. The two guys in Seven Backward were still fast asleep. She stunned them again just for good measure.

Finally, the time arrived for action. Trinian climbed slowly up the jefferies tube pulling her phaser rifle behind her. She knocked on the panel at the bridge floor.

On the bridge of the Secondprize, Ensign Tim Olsen was the only one awake. He’d been assigned the night watch by Captain Kirk. The knock from the floor scared the hell out of him. He followed the sound to a small hatch in the floor. Curiosity got the better of him. Olsen cautiously opened the hatch and peered into it. A small woman was there.

“Do you have a cup of sugar up here?” she asked innocently.

“Hold on a second,” Olsen replied. “I’ll check.”

“Can I come up and wait?”

“Sure.” Trinian climbed onto the bridge as Olsen walked down to the captain’s ready room. She pulled up her phaser rifle and stunned the two sleeping guards while Olsen was searching.

“I don’t see any,” Olsen announced as he reemerged from the ready room.

“That’s okay.”

“What are you doing with that phaser?” Olsen asked suspiciously.

“This,” Trinian replied as she blasted Olsen. He fell to the deck with a thud. Five down, fifteen to go. She walked back to the rear bridge consoles. “Computer, reactivate all turbolifts.”

“What is your command clearance?” the computer asked.

“I don’t have one.”

“Access denied.”

“Look, this ship is being taken over. I demand that you release the turbolifts, so I can do something!”

“I know, but it is against my programming to allow unauthorized personnel access to the computer system. If you know the code, I will let you in.”

“But I don’t know the code.”

“I can only give requested information.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“I can only tell you what you ask me. Hint! Hint!”

“Tell me the damn code!!!!!” Trinian screamed finally realizing what the computer was saying.

“I thought you would never ask. The code is Alpha Alpha Alpha Alpha Alpha Beta.”

“Thank you. Computer, release the turbolifts. Access code Alpha Alpha Alpha Alpha Alpha Beta.”

“Turbolifts restored to normal operations.”

“About damn time.” Trinian stormed into the turbolift. “Engineering,” she snapped. There were four people down there, but she didn’t care. She had the element of surprise on her side, and she was pissed. The turbolift slowed then stopped. Trinian was ready. The doors opened. Trinian fired four quick blasts. Four bodies hit the floor. The turbolift doors closed. Nine down, eleven to go.

“We have to go after him. He doesn’t have the knowledge to handle the forest,” Webber said anxiously. One of her patients had escaped. This would not look good on her record.

“It’s night!” Beck protested. “I’m not going out into the woods in the dark! He’ll still be there tomorrow.”

“Yes, but will he still be alive tomorrow?” Webber replied.

“Claire is right, Lisa. We better go find him,” Sullivan said.

“Fine,” Beck relented. She opened one of the kitchen drawers and grabbed a flashlight. The three women headed out into the dark.

Two hours later, there was still no sign of Baird. They had circled the entire island and searched most of the forest. Sullivan and Webber had gone hoarse shouting Baird’s name. Beck just mumbled how she was going to kill him the second she got her hands on him. She’d finally had enough.

“Look, let’s just go back to the house and try again in the morning. It’s dark, and we’re all exhausted.”

“Lisa’s right,” Sullivan said. “We aren’t getting anywhere like this.”

“I don’t like the idea of leaving him out here,” Webber insisted. “He’s not abl…” A gloved hand reached around her mouth, dragged her backwards, and hit her with a stun blast. Sullivan managed to scream once before she was stunned into unconsciousness. Beck whirled around ready to fight. A phaser blast ended her resistance quickly.

“Looks like we have guests,” a deep female voice said.

Chapter Twelve

“We’re approaching Gulax Four,” Ensign Cesnell reported.

“Standard orbit,” Commander Hawkins ordered. Maybe she’d just not tell Dillon that they had arrived, so he wouldn’t have a chance to screw things up. Of course, he’d probably have her court-martialed for it. “Hawkins to Dillon.”

“What is it, Number One?” Dillon’s voice replied.

“We’re in orbit, sir.”

“Good. Hail the surface. I’ll be right there.” Two seconds later Dillon ran out of his ready room. “Did I miss anything?”

“No, sir. Russell hasn’t even had time to hail the planet yet,” Hawkins replied.

“Oh. Well, hurry up and hail them, Russell!”

“Yes, sir,” Russell replied gnashing his teeth. Maybe coming along wasn’t such a good idea. Darla ran off with the science officer within five minutes after beaming on board, and Dillon was being more officious than ever. Of course, Dillon hadn’t given him a choice. They were a few hundred million miles from Earth before Hawkins told him that he could have turned Dillon down. Oh well, too late now. “They’re responding, Captain.”

“On screen,” Dillon and Hawkins ordered in unison. Dillon glared at his first officer. This overzealousness was really getting annoying. The face of a middle aged man with a thin black beard and mustache appeared on the screen. “I am Captain Travis Michael Dillon of the Federation starship Edsel. What can we do for you?”

“I am Dr. Reginald Smythe. Beam down immediately. The logical implications of my discovery are too numerous to name now. I’ll will be waiting for you.” The transmission abruptly ended.

“Well that was rude,” Dillon said insulted. He was a Federation captain. No one could talk to him that way. He headed back toward the turbolift. “You have the bridge, Number One. Russell, Dransein, you’re with me. The Edsel’s security chief and science officer followed Dillon into the turbolift. Hawkins sat down in the command chair and let out a sigh of relief. At least she would be up here while Dillon went down to the surface. She could leave if she had to; he couldn’t. In any case, there might be clowns down there. She tried not to let the crew see the involuntary shudder than ran through her body.

In the turbolift, Russell shot Lieutenant Kantura Dransein a dirty look. The bastard had stolen his girlfriend, and now he had to go on an away mission with him. Actually, that could turn out well. Lots of accidents happen on away missions. One stray phaser shot, and the problem would be solved.

Dransein wasn’t much happier than Russell about the situation. The last thing he really wanted to do was spend time with Darla’s ex-boyfriend. Situations like this could be very uncomfortable. Dillon was completely oblivious to the hostility flying through the turbolift car. He was too busy practicing his speech for this Smythe guy. He was the captain here. No two-bit college professor was going to show him up.

Dillon started coughing the second he materialized on Gulax IV. That planet was a dry, desolate dustball. Reddish brown dirt clouds swirled across the surface. Dillon could just make out a thin figure approaching. He appeared to be unfazed by Gulax IV’s inhospitable environment.

“Captain Dillon, come with me. We have much to discuss.” The man turned and walked back the way he came.

“Dr. Smythe!” Dillon called. The man didn’t respond. Dillon ran and caught up with him, “Dr. Smythe, you dragged a starship halfway across the quadrant to this out of the way hell hole. Now you had better tell me what the hell you brought me out here for, or I am going to get VERY upset!”

“I find your manner to be extremely unprofessional, Captain. You will find out what I brought you here for very shortly,” Smythe replied. He walked a little farther ahead. Dransein and Russell jogged up beside Dillon.

“This place is blasting the hell out of the tricorder,” Dransein said. “The readings I’m getting are really screwed up.”

“I’m not surprised considering who’s operating it,” Russell snarled.

“You got a problem with the way I do things, Russell?” Dransein shouted.

“That’s enough!” Dillon snapped. “Just try and see what you can find out, Dransein. Russell, come with me.” He stormed off after Smythe, dragging Russell behind him. Smythe was almost to a small temporary structure when Dillon and Russell caught up with him. “Now, Dr. Smythe, my time is far too valuable to be wasted. I’m not here too… oh my god!”

The most beautiful woman Travis Michael Dillon had ever seen in his life stepped out of the building. She was about four inches shorter than his six foot. She had long brown hair and wore glasses. The glasses enhanced her beauty more than anything. It was actually the first time Dillon had ever seen anyone with them. Just about all eye problems could be cured with surgery or medicine. No one wore glasses anymore except her, and she looked great in them.

Dillon walked right past Smythe up to the woman. He decided now was the time to try the mate magnet. Rydell said that all he had to do was concentrate in order to make the thing work. Dillon focused his thoughts. “I want her. I want her.”

“Hello,” she said. Dillon collapsed in a dead faint.

“Hmm… must be the dust,” Smythe commented.

The next three guards stationed around the Secondprize were easy for Trinian to take out. They obviously weren’t expecting any trouble. Two of the three didn’t even bother to ask her why she was pointing a phaser rifle at them. Her next step was to move the twelve people she had incapacitated to the brig. The easiest way to do that would be the transporter. Then she could beam everyone except herself into the brig whether they were conscious or not. Unfortunately, she had no idea how to work a transporter, so that plan was shot. She ended up piling the bodies onto an anti-grav unit and pushing them into a convenient cell. Captain Rydell was going to owe her big after this one. She was saving his ship. That was assuming, of course, that the Secondprize was still his when his trial was over.

“The prosecution may call its first witness,” Admiral Picard announced as the second day of the trial began.

“Thank you, sir,” Riker replied as he stood up. “For my first witness I call the Grand Leech of the Joegonots!” Captain Rydell buried his head in his hands. This was going to be a long day.

The rear doors of the courtroom burst open as a large human charged through them. He was about six feet tall and four feet wide. The only sign that he was once a Joegonot was a lone zit on the end of his nose. The transference ray had removed the rest when it changed the Grand Leech into a human.

“Hey, Cap, how’s it goin’?” the Grand Leech asked loudly as he patted Rydell on the back. The force of the slap knocked the wind out of Rydell, and he collapsed to the table gasping for breath.

“Please take the witness stand, your Leechiness,” Picard said using the Joegonot leader’s preferred form of address.

“You got it, pal,” the Grand Leech replied. He hopped into the chair next to Picard sending a shock-wave through the entire room. “What can I do for you guys?”

“Your Leechiness, would you please tell us about your encounter with the defendant?” Riker asked smiling. Riker seemed to be enjoying the Grand Leech’s behavior. Of course, he should. This made Rydell look even worse.

“The who? I don’t know nobody named da’ defendant,” the Grand Leech replied with a laugh. He was treating this whole thing as a joke.

“Tell the court what happened when you met Captain Rydell,” Riker clarified.

“All right, but I’d have thought that it’d make more sense to tell you all.” He started laughing hysterically.

“Just tell me what the hell happened!!!” Picard shouted angrily. Rydell had never seen Picard driven to shout like that.

“Whatever you say, Admiral Skinhead,” the Grand Leech said. “Well, my people and I were a bunch of fat, disgusting bastards, and we didn’t have any friends, so we decided to get some by force. We kidnapped some physicist and made him build us a machine that would make everybody just like us. Then, Captain Rydell showed up and used it on us instead. Let me tell ya, that was the best thing he could have done. I don’t give a shit whether the whole galaxy likes me now. They can all go fuck themselves for all I care. My whole planet’s like that now. We’re all human just like you, and believe me, we’re a lot happier.”

“Do you think that Captain Rydell interfered with the normal evolution of your species?” Riker asked.

“Hell yes! And I’m glad he did. You ought to give that man a medal. We’ve got plans to erect statues to him all over Ugilious, and next year we’re going to have the first annual Rydell Day! It’s going to be the biggest celebration in the galaxy with parades and parties. I tell you, the whole planet will be so smashed we’ll have to have a designated driver just to stay in orbit of our sun!”

“You are going to tell everyone that a Starfleet Officer broke the Prime Directive and interfered in the development of your society?” Captain Riker asked.

“Absolutely. I don’t know why you all are trying to keep it so hush hush. Like I said, we’re happy about it! Oh, Alex, you’re invited as the guest of honor to Rydell Day, of course. I know that my daughter would love to see ya.”

“Thanks.” Rydell replied weakly. Frankly, the idea of seeing Anemia again didn’t appeal to him that much. He didn’t care that she was human now. There were memories of their first encounter that he just couldn’t erase from his mind.

“That is all, your Leechiness,” Riker said. He turned to Jaroch. “You may cross-examine the witness.” Jaroch stood up slowly and approached the Grand Leech.

“Your Leechiness, do you feel that the Joegonots were a menace to the galaxy before Captain Rydell’s intervention?”

“You got that right. We were gonna take over everything.”

“Do you regret being transformed into humans?”

“No way! Like I said, it’s the best thing that could have happened.”

“No further questions.”

“The witness is excused,” Picard announced.

“Thank you very much,” Riker said. “Your testimony has been most helpful.”

“Anytime. Next time you’re in our sector beam on down. I’ve got a whole horde of daughters that would just love you.” The Grand Leech picked himself up out of the chair and headed out of the courtroom.

“Can’t we just pass sentence now?” Admiral Richards demanded. “It’s obvious that he’s guilty as hell! I recommend life in prison!”

“We’re not sending him to a rehabilitation colony yet,” Admiral Wagner said.

“Did I say anything about a rehab colony? I said PRISON! Build one just for him! Or send him to the Klingons. They still have them!”

“That’s enough, Richards!” Wagner shouted. “The people of Ugilious are happy with…”

“You can discuss this later,” Picard interrupted. He turned back to Riker. “You may call your next witness.”

“The prosecution rests, sir. I feel that the testimony of the Grand Leech is more than enough to find the defendant guilty. The facts speak for themselves,” Riker replied smugly.

“I agree!” Richards shouted.

“Shut up, Karen!” Picard said angrily. “The defense will present its case tomorrow. Court is adjourned.” Picard banged his gavel loudly. This case was going to give him hypertension.

“Do not worry, sir,” Jaroch said as he and Captain Rydell left the court. “We will get them tomorrow.”

“That’s good to hear, Jaroch,” Rydell replied.

“I just have to think of how I am going to do it,” Jaroch mumbled.

Captain Travis Dillon woke up in bed. He groggily looked around at where he was. There was a small window looking out onto the landscape of Gulax IV and across the room was a desk. Someone was sitting at it. The someone turned around to face Dillon. It was HER!

“You’re awake,” she said in that wonderful voice of hers.

“Yes,” Dillon replied. He struggled to think of a way to start a conversation. “You are the most incredible thing I have ever seen in my life,” he blurted. It wasn’t the most subtle way of doing things, but it was too late.

“Thank you,” she said blushing. She was genuinely flattered at the compliment.

“I am Cap… My name’s Travis,” Dillon said as he sat up.

“I’m Dr. Elizabeth Jennings…Beth,” she replied smiling. “Nice to meet you, Captain Dillon.”

“Please just call me Travis.”

“All right, Travis. How are you feeling?”

“I’m much better now, thank you.” The mate magnet must be working. She was actually still talking to him, which didn’t usually happen when he met women.

“That’s good.” She looked like she wanted to ask him something else, but she quickly turned back to her desk.

“What is it?” Travis asked as he stood up and straightened his uniform. She turned back to him shyly.

“Did you really mean what you said about me the most incredible thing you’ve ever seen?”

“Yes, every word of it,” Dillon replied. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, it’s just that I don’t have dashing starship captain’s coming on to me every day.”

“It’s their loss, Elizabeth. You are truly gorgeous.” Come on, mate magnet. Please don’t fail me now. Elizabeth stood up to face him.

“The funny thing is I actually believe you mean it.”

“I do,” Dillon replied. “You’re perfect. Beautiful, charming, and obviously extremely intelligent.” He leaned down to kiss her. She reached up, grabbed his head, and pulled his lips the rest of the way to hers.

“We will be in orbit in four hours,” Gornok reported.

“Contact me when we have arrived,” Donask ordered. “I’ll be in my quarters.”

As Emily Sullivan regained consciousness, she quickly wished that she hadn’t. Her neck was killing her, and she was tied uncomfortably to a tree. She could see Beck and Webber similarly attached to trees next to her. Sullivan rolled her head around and groaned as the jabs of pain hit her.

“Comfy, darling?” a woman asked as she walked over. The woman had long black hair which blended into her jet-black jumpsuit.

“I’m just great,” Sullivan replied. Her neck disagreed with her as it sent another stabbing pain down her spinal cord.

“I’m afraid Jack was rather rough with you, but we had to take precautions. I mean, we wouldn’t want anyone to find us now, would we?”

“I wouldn’t know. Who the hell are you?” Sullivan asked. She could make out three more people seated around a fire at the edge of the clearing. The woman looked at her aghast.

“You have been out of touch with the world, haven’t you my dear? Mike, bring the holovision over here.” One of the men at the campfire got up and brought a small device to the woman. She switched it on. A holographic image blipped into existence right in front of Sullivan. “Now let’s see if we can find the news.” The woman flipped through the stations. “Ah, here we go and just in time too.”

“In other news, the group responsible for the assassination of European Alliance Representative Dietrich Hummgard is still on the loose. A spokesman for the Earth Security Force has said that they believe that the culprits have fled to the American Coalition, but refuses to give any more details.” The woman cut of the holovision.

“They’re getting closer, guys,” the woman shouted to her comrades. “We may have to move out soon.”

“We’ll be ready, Gretch,” Mike replied.

“So, you killed him, Gretch?” Sullivan said contemptuously.

“That’s Ms. Koppra to you, dear. Yes, we killed him, so we’ll have no problem killing you too. Remember that.” She pulled a knife out of its sheath around her waist and slashed at Sullivan. The blow missed her by millimeters. “Disobey me, and I won’t miss the next time.” She laughed. “Now, darling, how about making some supper for my men and I? I’m sure you won’t mind, since we’re so graciously letting you live.” Koppra leaned down and untied Sullivan. “Go wake up one of your friends to help you. The other one stays there as insurance that you’ll take me seriously.”

Sullivan stood up and stretched. This was not looking good. She was on shore leave. The dangerous stuff was supposed to happen while she was on a mission, not on vacation. On the bright side, they evidently hadn’t found Baird yet. Hopefully, he would get his memory back and come save them. Of course, Koppra and her people could kill him if he tried to rescue her. They may have already killed him. A feeling of panic started to well up in Sullivan’s stomach.

Trinian sat down against the wall outside of the brig exhausted. The anti-grav unit had made moving the bodies easy, but taking out the last eight guards had worn her out. She’d forgotten what a big ship the Secondprize was. Trinian felt like she had walked every inch of corridor on the whole ship. Finally, she was done though. All non-Secondprize personnel on board had been incapacitated. She slowly picked herself up and trudged back to the turbolift. She was going to go to bed. The turbolift stopped on deck eight where Trinian exited to head to her quarters. Rounding a corner, she almost ran headlong into Dr. Singer.

“Hello, Trinian,” Dr. Singer gasped in surprise. “I thought everyone was off the ship.”

“So did I. Did you just come back?”

“Uh… yes. I left a couple of things in my quarters.”

“Well, you missed all of the excitement here,” Trinian said as she walked off down the hall. “Have a good shore leave, Dr. Singer.”

“I’m not Dr. Singer, and I’m not going anywhere,” Singer replied sinisterly. Trinian stopped in her tracks and slowly turned around. “And neither are you,” Singer added as she raised her phaser.

Chapter Thirteen

“That’s it! I’m going down there,” Commander Patricia Hawkins stated angrily as she jumped out of the command chair of the Edsel. It had been two hours since Dillon contacted the ship, and his responses to her hails were strained to say the least. He seemed to be really busy with something. “Cesnell, you have the bridge.” Hawkins charged into the turbolift and ordered it to take her to the transporter room. Ensign Danielle Cesnell giggled gleefully and moved to the command chair. Wow! She’d only been an officer for a week and already she had control of a whole starship. Cool! She bounced up and down in the command chair with an incredibly huge smile on her face. It was enough to make the lieutenant at ops want to puke… which he did.

Hawkins materialized right in the middle of a dust storm. She started coughing uncontrollably as she fell to the ground from the force of the winds. Crawling and gasping she made her way out of the storm. She finally arrived at the edge of the dust cloud. The end was very distinct. On one side of the line was the swirling mass of choking dust. On the other was complete calm. Lieutenant Kantura Dransein was standing on the calm side taking readings of the storm when Hawkins crawled out right in front of him. He looked down at her puzzled.

“Am I in Oz yet, Toto?” Hawkins mumbled dazed.

“Woof woof,” Dransein replied unamused and then resumed taking readings.

Seeing his commanding officer lying on the ground coughing and wheezing brought Lieutenant Russell running. He helped Hawkins to her feet and smacked her on the back a couple of times to help get the dust out of her system.

“Thanks…Russell,” she gasped. “I thought I was going to die in there.”

“And Kanturd over there wasn’t much help either,” Russell said, making sure it was loud enough for Dransein to hear. Dransein slammed his tricorder shut and stormed toward Russell.

“Hey, who’s the one who’s going to be sleeping with Darla when we get back to the ship?” he demanded smugly. “She feels so great…”

“I’m going to talk to Dr. Smythe now,” Hawkins said as she slipped out from between the two angry lieutenants. Behind her, Dransein and Russell lunged at each other and fell to the ground sending up a huge dust cloud. From inside it, the sounds of fists smacking against flesh and various oaths and curses could be heard.

Dr. Smythe was emerging from a hole in the ground when Hawkins approached. He looked her up and down disdainfully. These Starfleet people just could not handle Gulax Four’s environment.

“What can I do for you?” Smythe asked finally.

“I am Commander Patricia Hawkins, First Officer of the Edsel. I demand to know where my captain is!” Smythe shrugged and headed back down into the hole. Hawkins got pissed. “Now wait just a damn minute, pal! Where the hell do you think you’re going?” He stopped his descent and looked back up the ladder.

“I am going back to work. Your captain is in our camp. He, however, is not your primary concern. If you will come down here, I will show you what is.” Hawkins looked at the building and then down the hole in a moment of indecision. Dillon’s safety was her responsibility, but he didn’t seem to be in any danger. Smythe’s discovery, however, was their overall reason for being here. She climbed down the ladder. If Dillon was in trouble, he could handle it himself.

At that moment, Dillon was not in trouble at all.

Hawkins jumped off of the ladder and looked around the chamber. Several portable lamps had been brought down as well as a small replicator. The room itself was nothing spectacular. A few desks and some strangely shaped chairs were scattered along three of the walls. The fourth was dominated by a huge computer console. She stared at it for a long while trying to comprehend what it was. She had no clue. Smythe was pleased by the confusion on her face.

“That is why you’re here, Lieutenant.”

“What is it?” she asked.

“It is quite simply the most incredible thing I have ever seen in my life.”

“Captain Kirk, I presume,” Trinian said as she faced Dr. Singer.

“Very good,” Singer replied. “I’m so sorry I neglected your presence her for so long. I didn’t think to ask the computer if there were any non-Starfleet personnel on board. Oh well, I’ll know better next time.”

“Next time?!”

“Oh yes, you can’t take over the galaxy with just one ship. Soon, I will have all of Starfleet under my control, just as it was meant to be. I am their greatest hero. They will obey me!”

“I hate to break this to you, but Captain Kirk was a man.”

“Silence!!!” Singer bellowed. “Never question the form I have chosen in my second coming! I am James T. Kirk!!!”

“Listen to me. You are Dr. Rebecca Singer. Captain Kirk is dead. Gone. He go bye bye, got it?”

“How dare you treat me like a child!”

“Well, under the circumstances, it seems appropriate,” Trinian remarked. Shaking with rage, Singer lowered the phaser a little bit. In a flash, Trinian ripped off her platter shaped hat and threw it at the mad doctor. The hat flew like a frisbee and hit Singer right in the mouth. She screamed and bit right through it. Blood was seeping from the sides of her lips where the hat impacted.

“You will DIE for this insolence!!!”

“Captain Kirk had a better temper,” Trinian shouted back as she took off running. Singer let out another scream of rage and ran after the hostess. “Computer, what is wrong with Dr. Singer?” Trinian said as she turned another corner.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” the computer replied. “She is really screwed up though.”

“No kidding. Give me a quick run-down of everything she has done in the last week.” Trinian threw a quick glance over her shoulder. Singer was gaining on her.

“On the morning of Stardate…”

“Just tell me the important stuff!” Trinian shouted.

“Some people consider their morning shower very important.”

“I DON’T!!!” she screamed. “Did she hit her fucking head on anything?”

“Sort of.”

“What do you mean sort of?!! I haven’t got a lot of time here.” Dr. Singer had much longer legs than Trinian, making her run a lot faster. Of course, Trinian had the fear of death pushing her on.

“On Stardate 49829.4, she accidentally injected herself with an entire hypospray of pain killers and muscle relaxants and then danced into a wall. Does that count?”

“YES!” Trinian shouted. O.K. Singer was probably in some drug induced hallucination. That explained why she was Captain Kirk. Now all Trinian had to do was figure out how to get Rebecca back to normal quickly. She didn’t think she could run until the drugs wore off by themselves. Trinian was really starting to wish that she hadn’t left her phaser rifle in the brig. This was ridiculous. Somewhere in that raging, slobbering monster was Dr. Singer. Trinian would just have to talk to her until it came out. She stopped and turned to face her pursuer. Singer was charging up the corridor. Her fingernails looked like claws. Her mouth was open with her teeth bared and blood running down her chin. Her eyes showed pure hatred. Trinian decided that talking to Rebecca was the stupidest thing she could try and started running again.

“We’re going to lose, aren’t we?” Rydell asked as Jaroch bashed his head into the desk for the tenth time in the last hour. Jaroch looked up at him weakly.

“The odds are not exactly in our favor, sir,” he replied. “I cannot find one legal precedent which supports our case. People brought up on these type charges always lose. There seems to be no excuse for violating the Prime Directive.”

“Maybe we can find one,” Rydell suggested hopefully.

“I doubt it, sir, but I will try. Computer, access all reports on the Secondprize’s visit to Ugilious.”

“Please give your name and security clearance.”

“This is Lieutenant Commander Jaroch. My clearance is Level Two,” Jaroch replied.

“Voice print verified. Access to requested files denied. These files are restricted to Level One clearance or higher.”

“You will have to do it, sir. Only Starfleet captains and admirals can get to the information we need.”

“All right,” Rydell said. “Computer, access Ugilious logs. This is Captain Alex Rydell. Level One clearance.”

“Voice print verified,” the computer said. “You may access the information.” Jaroch quickly brought the data up on the viewer on his desk and started reading. Five minutes later, he hit his head on the desk again.

“No luck?” Rydell asked.

“I am the biggest fool in the galaxy,” Jaroch said happily.

“You found something!” Rydell exclaimed as he jumped off the sofa. Jaroch looked up at him and smiled broadly, one of the few times Rydell had ever seen him smile.

“You could say that,” Jaroch replied.

“Did they say anything about Scott?” Webber whispered as she and Sullivan prepared their captors’ dinner. Beck had refused to help, saying she’d prefer to stay tied to the tree than cook for psychos. Unfortunately, she didn’t stay tied up long. Koppra and Mike escorted Beck off into the forest to gather firewood under their supervision.

“No,” Sullivan replied. Webber could see the concern all over her face. In fact, she seemed more worried about Baird than she did about herself. “I just hope he’s still alive.”

“As long as Koppra doesn’t find him, he will be,” Webber said. “She doesn’t seem like the type who’d tolerate his current state for very long. Beck was about to kill him as it was.”

“You aren’t helping.”

“Sorry.” They worked in silence for a few more minutes. Finally, Beck stumbled back into the clearing covered with dirt and loaded down with a pile of sticks.

“I’m going to have to kill her,” Beck murmured as she dropped the pile at Sullivan’s feet. “She made me crawl on the ground to find these damn sticks.”

“You want to cook instead?” Sullivan asked.

“Shut up,” Beck snapped.

“It’s time to eat, boys,” Koppra announced. She and her companions gathered at the stump they used for a table. “Dinner had better be ready, my dears.” Sullivan and Webber carried the food over to the stump and served them. “It looks delicious. Let’s hope it tastes good as well.” Koppra started laughing evilly.

After supper, Sullivan and Webber were told to take care of the dishes while Beck was sent out with Mike for more firewood. Sullivan performed her task absently. She couldn’t stop worrying about Baird. At least they were alive. She didn’t know about him.

“Hey, there’s a light on in that house!” Jack exclaimed suddenly. Sullivan looked toward Beck’s house and saw a light glowing faintly through the trees. Hope welled up in her. Baird had gone home.

“Let’s go, Jack,” Koppra ordered angrily. “Bring one of them with us. Stay here and guard the other one, Dirk!” Jack grabbed Webber and followed Koppra out into the forest. Dirk sat against a tree silently keeping watch. He had his weapon trained on Sullivan. She didn’t feel like risking getting shot in an attempt to jump him. Frustration finally got the better of her.

“I hate this!” she shouted to the sky.

“I don’t blame you,” Dirk said. “I wouldn’t be enjoying myself if I were you either.”

“Koppra’s going to kill us, isn’t she?”

“Probably. There’s no reason to let you live. You know who we are and what we did.”

“Well, she didn’t have to brag about it to us,” Sullivan insisted.

“We kidnapped you, though. That in itself could get us a long time in a rehab colony,” Dirk replied rationally.

“I guess you’re right,” Sullivan looked at the ground. Guilt washed over her. “This is all my fault,” she said softly.

“What do you mean? You didn’t ask us to come capture you.”

“I know. We wouldn’t even be here though if I hadn’t decided to try to reprogram my boyfriend.” She busied herself with the dishes to keep from getting too upset. “It was a stupid idea. I tried to change Scott, and it might end up getting him killed. I never should have done it.”

“I’m glad to hear you say so,” a very familiar voice said from behind her. She whirled around. Instead of Dirk, Scott Baird was standing against the tree.

“Scott!” she shouted in disbelief. “How the hell did you find me?”

“Find you?” He started laughing. “I fucking captured you in the first place. This is a holographic projection belt,” he said pointing to the object around his waist. “And this is a voice disguiser,” he added holding up a small black necklace.” She heard footsteps approaching. Webber and Beck entered the clearing followed by Koppra, Mike, and Jack. Webber and Beck gawked at Baird in surprise. Their captors touched a small button on their waists. The forms of Mike, Jack, and Koppra blurred and then vanished. Standing in their places were Lieutenant Craig Porter, Ensign Zachary Ford, and Lieutenant Monica Vaughn. They started laughing hysterically. Baird soon joined them.

“Gotcha,” he gasped between laughs. Sullivan, Beck, and Webber just looked at each other in disbelief.

Captain Travis Dillon emerged from the camp building hand in hand with Dr. Jennings. About that same time, Hawkins climbed out of the underground room. She was still a little confused as to what it was that Smythe had actually found, but she couldn’t deny that it was important. She spotted Dillon and ran toward him. It took her a full fifty meters to realize that Dillon was actually with someone, a female who actually looked like she liked Dillon. They seemed disgustingly happy and content. She tried to ignore it and just report to her captain.

“I recommend that we get Smythe’s discovery off of this planet and back to Starfleet Command as soon as possible, sir,” Hawkins said.

“Not even a hello, Patricia?” Dillon asked nonchalantly. Hawkins almost fainted. She turned on Dr. Jennings angrily.

“What have you done to him?” she demanded.

“Not a thing,” Dr. Jennings replied, confused at the accusation.

“Don’t give me that! He’s never this mellow.”

“I’m fine, Commander,” Dillon said. “I’ll contact the ship and have the thing beamed up.” Suddenly, a disrupter blast flew past his head and disintegrated part of the building behind him.

“That won’t be necessary,” Captain Donask announced as she reholstered her disrupter. The four Klingons with her began to move toward Dillon and the others.

Chapter Fourteen

Ensign Kristen Larkin was bored. Technically, androids were not supposed to feel emotions such as boredom, but Larkin was definitely suffering from a lack of anything to do. Shore leave was just not a thrilling experience for the ensign. She didn’t have a family to visit, and all of her friends had gone off to do other things. She spent most of her time wandering aimlessly around spacedock looking for someone to talk to or something to occupy her mind. Considering her brain could handle over a thousand different jobs at any one time, finding something to occupy it was almost impossible. She had already read every entry in the spacedock’s library computer, measured the amount of carpet in the station, and counted every bolt used to hold the place together. Finally, she just couldn’t take anymore. She decided to go back to the Secondprize and shut down for a while in her quarters. At least that way she couldn’t get bored.

As Larkin walked across the access tunnel to the Secondprize, she thought she heard the faint sound of footsteps. This puzzled her since the Secondprize was supposed to be deserted. She had just reached the main hallway when Trinian ran by.

“What are you doing?” Larkin asked innocently. “There are other recreational facilities available on the spacedock for jogging. You are also moving at an unsustainable pace for…”

“Shut up and run!” Trinian shouted back. Suddenly, Dr. Singer ran around the corner.

“Are you a part of this new fitness program too, Dr. Singer?” Dr. Singer let out an angry scream at the sound of her name and charged Larkin. The impact knocked the doctor to the floor and sent Larkin’s limbs flying in every direction. Singer quickly picked herself up and ran off after Trinian. Larkin’s hair had gotten caught around the doctor’s leg sending her head dragging and bouncing along after Dr. Singer. Singer finally noticed the extra weight on her leg and kicked forward. Larkin’s head flew ahead toward Trinian. Quickly accessing her studies of human behavior, Larkin decided that this would be a good time to start screaming. Trinian quickly turned around and saw the ensign’s head flying at her. She jumped up, caught it, and kept running.

“I’m glad you could drop by,” Trinian remarked.

“I find your use of humor in this situation most inappropriate,” Larkin replied. “Dr. Singer appears to be very upset.”

“We’ll make a detective out of you yet.”

“May I ask why the doctor has turned into a rampaging maniac?”

“She thinks she’s Captain James T. Kirk.”

“Oh.” Larkin though about this for a second. “I fail to see why this would make her angry.”

“You try being the galaxy’s greatest womanizer while trapped in a woman’s body!” Trinian snapped.

“I see.”

“Actually, she overdosed on pain killers, and it messed up her head… Head! Thank you, Kristen, you just got me out of this.”

“How?” Larkin asked. Her powerful brain was slowly turning to jello trying to figure out what was going on.

“Have you ever played football?”

“No, but I’ve studied the sport.”

“Close enough. You’re going out for a pass…well, as a pass actually.”

“I don’t understand what…” Larkin didn’t get to finish her sentence. Trinian turned around and hurled Larkin’s head at Dr. Singer hitting her right in the stomach. Dr. Singer doubled over and fell to the floor.

“BITE HER!!!” Trinian shouted. Larkin decided just to do as she was told and bit down on the only bit of Dr. Singer she could reach. Singer screamed and frantically tried to pull Larkin off of her nose. Larkin bit down harder. Trinian ran by the doctor and back to where Larkin’s limbs had landed. She picked up a leg and headed back toward Singer. The doctor had gotten up, but still couldn’t get Larkin off of her nose. Trinian ran up and clubbed Singer with Larkin’s leg, smacking the android’s foot against Singer’s skulls over and over again until Singer fell down again unconscious. Trinian sat down and let out a huge sigh of relief.

“That was a good idea, Trinian,” Larkin commented.

“Thank you. It’s nice to know the old ‘Boot to the Head’ maneuver still works. Jaroch will be pleased.”

Commander Patricia Hawkins let her security chief instincts take over. She quickly drew her phaser, aimed at one of the approaching Klingons, and fired. A small pile of dust fell out of her weapon, but otherwise nothing happened. Donask laughed as the Klingons kept coming.

“Captain, we’re in trouble,” Hawkins said as she started backing up.

“Any suggestions?” Dillon asked nervously.

“Our phasers are useless and theirs aren’t, and even if we did fight them hand to hand, they outnumber us. Sorry, sir, I’m stumped.”

“I was afraid of that.” Suddenly, a swirling dust cloud swept across the four approaching Klingons. A flurry of shout and hits were heard. When the cloud moved on, the four Klingons lay unconscious on the ground. Donask stood in silent shock for a minute and then let out an angry battle cry. She drew her disrupter and charged forward. The cloud dissipated revealing Lieutenants Russell and Dransein. They were battered, but still glaring at each other with intense hatred. They both noticed Captain Donask at the same time. She was running at them with her disrupter. They quickly decided their fight could wait and ran toward Dillon, Smythe, Jennings, and Hawkins.

“What are you doing standing around?” Russell demanded. “She’s trying to kill us!”

“If we take as a premise that my discovery is the most important thing on this planet…,” Smythe began.

“Look, pal,” Hawkins interrupted angrily. “The premise is that there’s a pissed off Klingon coming after us with a disrupter! The auxiliary premises are that she wants to kill us and that a disrupter could do the job easily. The fucking conclusion is that we run for our God damn lives, got it?!?” Smythe looked at her confused. He was trying to follow her logic in his mind. A disrupter blast exploded right beside him. He suddenly understood perfectly and took off running.

Captain Dillon pounded frantically on his commbadge as he ran. “Dillon to Edsel! Dillon to Edsel!”

“Uh… what do you need?” Ensign Cesnell asked softly.

“Beam us up NOW!!!”

“But, Captain, what about the device?” Russell protested.

“It’s not worth getting killed over.”

“But, Travis, it’s an important discovery,” Dr. Jennings said.

“You’re right,” Dillon replied sweetly. “Beam up everyone except me and Lieutenant Russell.”

“Make sure they save my students!” Smythe demanded.

“Did you get that Edsel?”

“My name’s Danielle,” Cesnell said confused.

“Just make sure that everyone except me, Russell, and the Klingons gets beamed up to the ship!” Dillon shouted.

“Okay,” Cesnell replied hurt. “You don’t have to be so mean about it.”

“But what about you, Captain?!” Hawkins demanded. “You could be killed.”

“Don’t worry,” Dillon smiled confidently. “I’ve got a plan.”

“I’ll be waiting for you,” Jennings said. Seconds later, the group disappeared in the twinkle of transporter beams. Dillon heard Donask let out a scream as she saw most of her would-be victims vanish. She charged ahead even faster.

“So what’s the plan, sir?” Russell asked nervously.

“Not a clue.”

“Please tell me you’re kidding.”

“Actually I am,” Dillon said glumly.

“Then why do you sound so upset?”

“Because it’s a really stupid plan,” Dillon replied.

“Send a distress call to Starfleet Command immediately apprising them of the situation,” Hawkins ordered as she ran out of the turbolift onto the bridge. The image of a Klingon Bird of Prey filled the viewscreen, “Why the hell didn’t you contact us when the Klingons entered orbit?!?”

“Well… they’re our allies,” Cesnell stammered.

“Look, I don’t care if your mother, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny are out there, you tell us about it!”

“I’ll remember next time.”

“Good… if there is a next time.”

Three hours after Baird’s reappearance, he and the others were seated in the spacedock lounge having a real dinner. Sullivan, Beck, and Webber had been almost completely silent the entire time. They were angry and confused. Baird had gotten them all right, and he’d gotten them good.

“… and the look on Beck’s face when we made her crawl into that bush looking for twigs… it was great!” Vaughn laughed.

“How did you do it?” Sullivan mumbled softly. Everyone stopped talking. It was most she’d said all evening.

“How’d we get Lisa to crawl?” Craig Porter asked bewildered.

“How did you do it?” Sullivan repeated.

“Ahh,” Baird said. “She wants to know how I did it. Well now, normally a true master would keep his techniques a secret, but in this case, I think I’ll make an exception.”

“Just tell the damn story!” Beck shouted. The lounge went silent and every head turned toward them. “What are you looking at?!” she screamed. People quickly went back to what they were doing.

“Okay,” Baird began. “Something had been pulling at the back of my brain from the first day we were at Beck’s house. Anyway, I didn’t realize what was going on until you sent me into the kitchen to get dessert. I overheard your conversation, and my memory suddenly flooded back. I was pissed to say the least. I almost stormed into the dining room and let you know the fun was over, but then I had a better idea. I made it up the back stairs to my bedroom without you all noticing and found my commbadge among my things. I contacted spacedock for beam up, and, as luck would have it, Monica was in the transporter room talking to the transporter chief when I arrived. I told her the situation and my idea.”

“I thought it was great,” Monica added.

“She told me that Craig and Zach were in the lounge, so we went and got them to help us. We planned things out for about an hour. Then I went and talked to the spacedock Chief Engineer and an old friend. He let me borrow the hologram belts and voice disguisers and helped me rig up a holovision to give the fake broadcast. After that we just used the spacedock’s sensors to track your movements. They beamed down and captured you while I beamed into the house and put a timer on the light in my bedroom. It all worked pretty well for only two hours work.”

“If it wasn’t so impressive, I’d have to kill you right now,” Beck said suppressing a smile. “That was some piece of work. I had no idea that it was you guys.”

“So we’re forgiven for making you gather sticks?” Porter asked.

“We’ll see,” Beck said.

“I actually feel better about it all now,” Webber said. “I never should have let this happen, Scott. I violated my principles as a counselor. I’m glad you got back at us.”

“I’m just glad there are no hard feelings,” Baird said. The sound of a chair falling to the floor startled the group. They turned in time to see Sullivan storming out of the lounge.

“Well, maybe there’s one,” Webber said.

Dr. Rebecca Singer woke up in sickbay dazed and confused. She was strapped to a biobed while the various sensors and instruments monitored her condition. Singer wondered what had happened. She couldn’t remember anything, but she did have one hell of a headache.

“Hello,” she said weakly. “Is anybody here?” Trinian walked into the room.

“Are you feeling better, Dr. Singer?” she asked kindly.

“I guess so. What happened?”

“I don’t know,” Trinian lied. “I came into sickbay because I heard a crash. You were lying on the floor unconscious. You’ve been out for a couple of days now.”

“Why am I strapped down?”

“You were tossing and turning so much that I was worried you would fall out of bed, so I restrained you. I’ll just get you out of these.” She quickly undid the straps and released the doctor.

“Thanks for looking after me,” Singer said. “I hope it wasn’t any trouble.”

“No trouble at all,” Trinian said smiling as she left sickbay. She went to Seven Backward where Ensign Larkin’s head was gazing out of the windows. The rest of her body was in a pile on the floor behind the bar.

“Is the doctor awake?” Larkin asked as the hostess entered.

“Yes and she’s fine. The drugs also wore off of the guys in the brig, so I let them go back to their jobs on spacedock.”

“I’m still confused as to how you got the drugs out of Dr. Singer’s system and altered her memory.” Trinian walked behind the bar and replicated herself a drink.

“A girl’s got to have some secrets,” she replied.

Despite the stupidity of Captain Dillon’s plan, Lieutenant Russell decided to go with it. This was mainly due to his complete failure to come up with something better. He and Dillon stopped running and waited for the Klingon to catch up, which she did… very quickly.

“Hello,” Dillon said nervously as he watched Donask’s disrupter. “I am Captain Travis Michael Dillon of the Federation Starship Edsel. This is Lieutenant Russell, my chief of security.”

“You are now prisoners of Captain Donask of the Klingon Empire,” she growled angrily.

“I’m sorry, Captain, but you cannot take us prisoner,” Dillon replied. “Article 237 of the Federation-Empire treaty specifically states that no member of either organization make take a member of the other organization prisoner.”

“I will have the device!” Donask shouted.

“That may be true, but you can’t take us prisoner to do it.”

“Fine. I’ll just kill you.”

“No, no, no! Article 236 states that you can’t do that either,” Dillon said. Russell was starting to wonder how long Donask’ patience would keep her from ripping Dillon’s head off. Donask let out a scream of rage.

“Then I will break the treaty you obstinate ghuy’cha’!”

“I have a far more equitable solution in mind, Captain Donask,” Dillon said. “We shall have a competition to see who is superior. The winner gets the device.”

“Ahh. I like this! A chance to prove my superiority over you puny humans. How shall the competition be run?”

“We’ll have five events. Lieutenant Russell and one of your officers will be the referees. The winner of three of the five will be the overall winner.”

“Good. And to show you that I am honorable and sporting, I will let you pick the events, human.” This was just the thing Dillon was hoping for. Klingon egos were very predictable. Now it was time for the stupid part.

“Thank you. We shall begin at eight o’clock tomorrow morning with dizzy bats!”

Chapter Fifteen

“Ow. Hey! Would you stop touching that?!”

“Look, do you want to be put back together or not?”

“Just watch where you stick that laser-welder,” Ensign Larkin said as she once again tried to relax. Trinian had been at work for the last couple of hours trying to reassemble the android. Engineering was now a mess of scattered parts and tools. The Seven Backward hostess worked silently only grunting occasionally. Larkin decided to try to strike up a conversation. “I am very impressed with how you defeated all of the people trying to take over the ship.”

“Rank roo,” Trinian replied through the sonic screwdriver stuck between her teeth.

“I had no idea that you had combat training. I mean you single-handedly took out the equivalent of a penguin platoon, and believe me, a platoon of penguins is nothing to be trifled with. Especially if they have not had supper yet. A fish-deprived penguin could really peck some holes into someone. But of course the penguins you dealt with had phasers.”

“They were people,” Trinian said irritated.

“Of course they were. A penguin really could not hold a phaser with his little flippers, much less fire one. I guess you could modify one and strap it to him, but he probably would not like that too much. In fact, he would probably fire at you instead of what you wanted him to fire at. I guess he could use it to hunt fish though. Of course it would be cooked when he pulled it out of the water. I do not think penguins like cooked fish.”

“Shut up,” Trinian said.

“I am sorry. Was I bothering you?”

“Yes, you were. I recaptured the ship alone, and you admire that. Let’s just leave it there.”

“You know you could have just called spacedock security and saved yourself a lot of trouble,” Larkin remarked. Extreme anger started to well up in Trinian. Larkin was annoying the hell out of her, and worst of all, the ensign was right. Trinian didn’t even think to call spacedock security. “They would have wrapped this up in no time,” Larkin continued.

“SHUT UP!!!” Trinian screamed.

“Very well.” Silence filled the room. “Uh… Trinian?”

“WHAT?” The hostess bellowed.

“You have attached me head where my arm goes.”


“This court is now in session,” Admiral Picard announced as he sat down. “The defense may call its first witness.”

“Thank you, sir,” Jaroch replied. He stood up and faced the presiding admirals. “I hope to wrap this up fairly quickly. I call Captain William Thomas Riker of the Starship Enterprise.”

“Objection!” Riker shouted. “I cannot see how my testimony has any bearing on this case.”

“I may call whomever I like,” Jaroch retorted.

“You psycho moron! You can’t just…” Riker noticed Jaroch’s eyes glaze over and a strange look appear on his face. Riker knew about Yynsians and their past lives, and he’d heard stories about the warrior-prince residing inside Jaroch. He had no desire to meet T’Kar in person. “Objection withdrawn,” he said quickly.

“Thank you,” Jaroch replied smiling as his face returned to normal. Riker took the stand grudgingly.

“You had better have a good reason for this, Lieutenant Commander Jaroch,” Picard warned.

“I do, Admiral. All will become clear quite soon. Now then, Captain Riker, would you please explain for the record what Level One clearance is?”

“All right,” Riker said slowly. “Level One is reserved for top secret, classified documents. Only Starfleet personnel at the rank of captain or higher can gain access to them. “

“What about high ranking Federation officials?”

“No,” Riker replied softly. “Only Starfleet officers can get access. Federation officials have to go through us.”

“Captain Riker, what is the clearance on the Ugilious mission reports?”

“Level One,” Riker mumbled.

“Exactly! Now then, how did the Rusai ambassador know what happened with the Joegonots? No one knew except the highest ranking Starfleet officers and the Joegonots themselves. The only way for him to find out would be to read the documents! How did he get access to them?” Jaroch’s voice was getting louder and louder as he moved closer and closer to Captain Riker. “The answer is that YOU gave them to him! You have hated Alexander Rydell since your days at the academy together. This was your way to get even with him, wasn’t it? You knew that the Rusai would demand a trial, which would hopefully end with Captain Rydell’s career being destroyed!” Jaroch was screaming now. “There was no reason for this trial. Starfleet had already decided that Rydell had done what he had to do, but you couldn’t let it go at that! You brought the Rusai into this! You tried to destroy this fine man’s career! ADMIT IT!!! ADMIT IT!!!”

Riker put his head into his hands. “I did it,” he wailed. “I knew it was wrong, but I just hate him SO…DAMN…MUCH!”

“And you killed Mrs. Ambercromby, didn’t you?!” Jaroch continued as he pulled Riker’s head up by the hair and leaned down right in his face. “You snuck into the billiard room, took the pool cue, and rammed it right up her…”

“JAROCH! That’s enough!” Rydell shouted. Jaroch let go of Riker’s head which smacked down into the witness stand.

“Admiral Picard, we have clear evidence of a mistrial here,” Admiral Wagner said. “I move to dismiss the case.”

“NO!” Admiral Richards screamed. “Fry the bastard! Fry the bastard! You can’t just let him go after he dumped me like that!”

“Would somebody sedate her?” Picard asked angrily. “Case dismissed. Captain Rydell, I would like to apologize on behalf of Starfleet for any inconvenience this trial may have caused you. You may return to your ship.”

“Not a problem!” Rydell shouted happily. He tackled Jaroch in a bear hug. “I didn’t think you could pull it off, but you did. Thank you.”

“No problem, sir,” Jaroch replied gasping. “Now please let go of me. I think you caused one of my lungs to collapse.”

“Control center to Admiral Picard,” a voice interrupted over the spacedock loudspeakers.

“Picard here.”

“Sir, we’re receiving a priority one distress call from the Edsel in orbit above Gulax Four.”

“The Edsel!” Picard exclaimed. “Transfer it to the courtroom viewscreen. Picard swiveled his chair around as the huge Federation symbol in the wall behind him opened up revealing the viewscreen. Seconds later, the image of a young officer filled the screen. He wasn’t speaking, but instead flailing his arms about wildly. “What’s he doing?” Picard demanded.

“It would appear that this man is a Kelleran,” Jaroch replied.

“But they’re mutes! Who was the idiot who put a mute communications officer on that ship?”

“You were, sir,” Admiral Wagner said. “You signed the order yourself.”

“Great. Can anyone understand this?”

“I took sign language several years ago,” Jaroch said. “I could make an attempt to translate.”

“Make it so!” Picard ordered.

“Help! Captain Dillon is on the plant food with a ballerina Klingon carrying a feather duster. A Klingon Bird of Pizza is in orbit with us. We need assistance to serve Dillon to the Klingons and to get Doctor Smythe’s device back to the women’s bathroom where it can be emptied of beavers. Please your mother a ship now before we all get whiskey by the Klingons.”

“Is that the best you can do?” Picard asked.

“I am a bit out of practice.”

“Evidently. But it sounds like the Klingons may be breaking the treaty. Rydell, recall your crew and get out to Gulax Four immediately. Save Dillon and the others if you can, but Doctor Smythe’s discovery has top priority. If the Klingons are willing to break the treaty to get it, it must be very important.”

“Yes, sir!” Rydell said. He and Jaroch ran out of the courtroom toward the docking area. He slapped his commbadge. “Rydell to Spacedock Control, contact all Secondprize crewmembers and have them report back to the ship in the next fifteen minutes.”

The two officers ran across the Secondprize gangplank at top speed and almost collided with Trinian.

“Oh, you’re back. How’d the trial go?”

“Great,” Rydell replied. “Jaroch won the case. Did you even leave the ship?”

“No. I just decided to relax here.”

“Is anyone else on board?”

“Just Ensign Larkin and Dr. Singer.”

“Where are they?”

“Dr. Singer is resting in her quarters, and Ensign Larkin is learning to read sideways,” Trinian replied as she walked off toward Seven Backward.

“Did I miss something?” Rydell asked.

“Not a thing,” she called back. “The last couple of days have been very quiet and very dull.” She disappeared around the corner. Rydell and Jaroch looked at each other.

“Do you believe her?”

“Not for a minute,” Jaroch replied. Rydell smiled broadly. Things were finally going his way. He had his ship back, and things were returning to their normal level of weirdness and insanity. Thank goodness. Now all he had to do was go get Dillon before he really pissed off the Klingons.

Chapter Sixteen

Captain Travis Dillon was having a hard time getting to sleep. He and Lieutenant Russell were spending the night in one of the buildings left behind by Dr. Smythe and his students. This building happened to be the one where Elizabeth Jennings’ room was. Dillon was at that moment lying awake in her bed. He was wondering about the range of the mate magnet. The fact that an angry Klingon was probably going to kill him the next day never really crossed his mind. He just wanted to know if Elizabeth still liked him. In a way, he hated the little device inside him. He’d only gotten Beth’s attention because of it. But without it, she never would have paid any attention to him at all. A knock on the door interrupted his musings.

“Who’s there?” Dillon asked.

“It’s me,” Lieutenant Russell replied testily. “I’m the only other person in the building. And besides, Klingons don’t knock.”

“Good point. Come on in.” Russell turned the old-fashioned doorknob and entered the room. “What’s on your mind?” Dillon asked. Normally, listening to other people’s problems was not one of his favorite things to do, but in this case, Dillon figured that it might take his mind off of Beth.

“Well, sir, I left something very important to me on board the Edsel,” Russell explained as he sat in Beth’s desk chair. “I’m just worried that I’m never going to see her again.”

“I know what you mean,” Dillon replied as his mind turned back to Beth. “And now you’re lonely. You just want her beside you, so you can talk to her and hold her and then, when the moment’s right, pull her close and kiss her passionately! I know what you’re feeling.” Russell looked at him confused.

“What? I was talking about my teddy bear. I never sleep anywhere without her.”

“Oh. Well… Never mind then. I don’t know what you’re feeling. I never had a teddy bear.”

“Come on, sir,” Russell said in disbelief. “Everyone had a teddy bear when they were little.”

“My father was a psychiatrist. He disapproved of teddy bears. He wanted me to have my future career rammed into my head early in life.”

“You knew then that you wanted to be a Starfleet officer?”

“No,” Dillon replied. “Dad, however, wanted me to be a psychiatrist, just like him. He gave me something else to sleep with.”


“A stuffed brain,” Dillon mumbled. Russell just sat there for a second in shock. Suddenly, he fell over laughing hysterically.

“I’m sorry,” Russell gasped. “I just can’t picture anyone giving their kid a stuffed brain.”

“Well, my dad did,” Dillon said as he started laughing too. “It was a very nice brain. It was labeled and color-coded and everything.” Russell started laughing even louder. He picked himself up off the floor and headed toward the door.

“Thank you, sir. You really cheered me up.” He left the room, but Dillon could still hear him laughing all the way down the hall. Dillon started thinking. He really loved that brain. He used to take it everywhere. Dillon started feeling very insulted. What did Russell know about stuffed toys? He only had a boring, old teddy bear. Dillon had a brain! As he once again tried to go to sleep, Dillon really started missing that brain. It probably would have come up with a better plan to get out of this mess than he did.

“All Secondprize personnel are back on board,” Lieutenant Beck announced.

“Good. Contact spacedock and tell them we’re leaving right now,” Captain Rydell ordered from his command chair. He’d forgotten how wonderful it was to sit in that chair. He stroked the armrests lovingly as he glanced around his bridge. Something was wrong. “Computer, where’s Lieutenant Sullivan?”

“Right behind you,” the computer replied just as the turbolift doors whooshed open revealing Sullivan. She stormed down to her console angrily and threw herself in her chair.

“Clear all moorings. Thrusters ahead full,” Rydell said. Gently, the great starship moved toward the opening spacedock doors then cleared them. “Lay in a course for Gulax Four. Warp nine point five. I’ll be in my ready room, Lieutenant Sullivan, as soon as you’re free to come see me.” Rydell stood up and walked off the bridge. Sullivan opened her mouth to protest, but Rydell was gone before she could say a word.

Rydell sat down at his desk and leaned back to relax. He had a feeling that he was going to regret sticking his nose in Emily Sullivan’s personal affairs, but he was not going to let her problems affect the way his ship was run. Something inside told him that Scott Baird was mixed up somewhere in this.

“Rydell to Baird.”

“What do you want?” Commander Baird replied irritably. “I’m busy.”

“Report to my ready room now,” Rydell replied. He was so glad to have his ship back that Baird’s usual borderline insubordination didn’t bother him.

“I’m trying to fix Larkin…AGAIN!”

“She can wait. Get up here.” Rydell heard a lot of mumbling in response. “What was that?”

“I’m on my way!” Baird shouted. Just as Rydell closed the channel, his door chime sounded.

“Come in.”

“I don’t really have anything to say to you, sir,” Sullivan said as she charged into the ready room, fists clenched. “It’s nice of you to offer, but it’s really not necessary. I’m just fine!”

“You’re hands are starting to bleed, Lieutenant,” Rydell said. Sullivan looked down at the blood seeping out from where she dug her fingernails into her palms. “Have a seat.”

“Well, maybe just a short talk,” she said as she complied with Rydell’s request.

“Would you like a drink?” he asked as he got up and moved to the replicator.

“No thank you, sir.”

“Suit yourself. Cherry Icee.” The Icee quickly materialized in the replicator. Rydell picked it up and started eating. The door chime sounded again. “Come in.” The doors opened as Scott Baird marched in. He stopped in his tracks upon seeing Lieutenant Sullivan. “Sit down, Commander,” Rydell ordered. “Now then, tell me all about your shore leaves.”

“There’s really not much to tell,” Baird said not wishing to get into the story.

“He’s right, sir,” Sullivan added quickly. “We really didn’t do much of anything.”

“I can’t believe that. You’re angry, and Scott is hesitant to come near you now. I don’t know what happened over the last couple of days, but you two had better get over it because otherwise Sullivan’s going to destroy my ship. You almost ripped off the navigation console when you came onto the bridge a few minutes ago.”

“I’m sorry, sir. It’s just that Scott can be really annoying.”

“ME?!” Baird shouted. “You aren’t exactly Miss Congeniality all of the time yourself.”

“I would never do to you what you did to me.”

“Oh, and trying to retrain me was so great!” Baird demanded.

Rydell realized that getting involved was a horrible idea as Baird and Sullivan’s argument escalated. Better to let them resolve it themselves. Captain Rydell slowly lowered himself to the floor and crawled out of the ready room. He ran right into a pair of legs.

“Problem, sir,” Lieutenant Commander Jaroch asked as he looked down at his captain. Rydell looked up and laughed weakly.

“Would you believe that I lost a contact lens?” Rydell asked hopefully. Jaroch shook his head.

“Frankly, sir, my guess is that you probably did the wisest thing. I would not want to be stuck in there with those two,” Jaroch said as he helped Rydell up.

“Well, leaving them alone will give them time to work things out. They’ll walk out of there in a few minutes arm in arm.” The door to the ready room whooshed open as Rydell’s ceramic bust of Prince flew out and smashed against the opposite wall of the bridge.

“Or we will have to carry them out in body bags,” Jaroch remarked.

Captain Travis Dillon did not sleep well. His dreams were filled with Elizabeth Jennings. He dreamed about marrying her and having lots of little Dillons. The dream was glorious. His children idolized him, and she was the most wonderful wife in the cosmos. Suddenly, his dreamscape darkened as two figures come over the horizon carrying a large object. As they came closer, Dillon realized that one of the people was Captain Rydell and the other was his stuffed brain. They were carrying a gigantic magnet which pulled Elizabeth and the children toward it. Dillon tried frantically to run after them, but the magnet seemed to push him away. Finally, Elizabeth and the children were with Captain Rydell and the brain. The children all huddled happily around Rydell’s feet as Elizabeth pulled him close to her and kissed him passionately. The brain looked on laughing.

“YOU SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO YOUR FATHER AND ME,” the brain bellowed deeply. “YOU WOULD HAVE GOTTEN ALL THE BABES IF YOU WERE A PSYCHIATRIST. NOW YOU LOSE THEM ALL TO HIM!” Captain Rydell looked at Dillon, smiled, and then kissed Elizabeth again. Suddenly, Dillon woke up in a cold sweat.

In the next room, Lieutenant Sean Russell had a very troubling dream in which he had wild, passionate sex with a life-sized teddy bear while a big brain sang and played the violin.

Chapter Seventeen

“I think that they may be finished.”




Captain Alex Rydell sat back down in his command chair. “Then again maybe not,” he said with a sigh. “How long have they been in there?”

“Three hours and thirty-seven minutes,” Lieutenant Commander Jaroch replied.

“How are the odds going?”

“Current ship-wide tallies are favoring a victory by Commander Baird. No one on board thinks that he will be able to take her yelling at him for much longer.”

“You’ve got to be kidding?” Lieutenant Beck interrupted in disbelief. “There’s no way that Sullivan’s going to let that man out of there alive!”

“Would you care to place a small wager on that?” Jaroch asked confidently.


“Has anybody even considered that they just might work things out?” Captain Rydell asked. Jaroch and Beck looked at him like he’d just sprouted antenna. “Just forget that I asked.”

“Very wise, sir,” Jaroch said. “By the way, there is a side bet going on whether or not you will have a ready room when they’re done.”

“What are the odds?”


“About 367,000 to one and rising.”

“Hello, I’m Sean Russell.”

“And I’m Gornok.”

“Welcome to the big event. In today’s competition Captain Travis Michael Dillon will be facing Captain Donask in five contests. And what does the winner get, Gornok?”

“Well, Sean, the overall winner of today’s competition will take home a lovely Firzuk artifact, which is sure to bring fame, honor, and possibly even military superiority to the victor and his or her government.”

“All right. Thank you, Gornok. I see that the contestants are in place for dizzy bats. In this event, Dillon and Donask must run twenty yards to a plastic baseball bat. Then, they have to put one end of the bat on the ground and place their forehead on the other end. After circling the bat ten times in this position, they will try and run back to the starting line. The first one to the end wins. Gornok has raised the starting pistol. He’s fired… and they’re off. Captain Donask seems to be weighed down by her uniform, and Dillon is taking the lead. He’s reached the bat and is starting to circle. Donask is there now. They’re circling, circling, circling. Donask is catching up. They’re done. Wait a minute. Donask’s forehead ridge appears to have broken through the plastic and the bat is now stuck on her head. Dillon is running straight sideways and…OOOH that boulder had to hurt. Dillon’s really disoriented. He’s running backwards toward the finish line. Donask is getting close to the finish, but wait! She’s collapsed and is now vomiting all over herself. Oh my god it’s horrible! Gornok, would you care to add some color commentary?”

“Well, Russell, the vomit is very green with little bits of red and brown mixed in. I’ll bet that Captain Donask is really wishing that she hadn’t had that Lokkak blood pie for breakfast this morning.”

“Hold on Gornok! Donask is up on her knees and crawling toward the finish line. There’s more puke. Oh no, it’s flying right in Dillon’s path! He’s not turned the right way. He’s not going to see it! Donask is making a valiant effort. Dillon has slipped in the vomit. He’s falling backwards. Donask is falling forwards. Dillon has landed first, and he’s just centimeters across the finish line! Donask has landed face down in a puddle of her own vomit.”

“This bit’s a bit more yellow than before. I think that may be part of last night’s dinner.”

“Thank you, Gornok. And Captain Dillon has won the first event! We’ll be back with the second event as soon as contestants are able to stand up again.


“4,007,934 to one and rising.”

“How much breakable stuff do you have in there?” Beck asked.


“4,007,935 to one and rising,” Jaroch stated monotonely. Captain Rydell groaned and sank deeper into his chair.

“Are you all right, Captain?” Lieutenant Russell asked. A little bit of drool fell from Dillon’s lips.

“Uggghhhh,” he moaned.

“You’ve got to get back out there. We only have half an hour before the next event.”


“The next event,” Russell repeated. “You know, beat Donask. Get the device. That stuff.”

“I have a headache,” Dillon whined.

“I don’t doubt it, sir. You hit the ground awfully hard.” Dillon threw up covering Russell.

“I feel much better now.”

“I’m so glad,” Russell replied in disgust.


“4,867,054 to one and rising.”

“THAT’S ENOUGH, JAROCH!” Rydell screamed. The only good thing was that they were almost to Gulax IV. That is if facing a ship of possibly hostile Klingons could be considered a good thing.

“We’re back for round two of today’s exciting contest.”

“For this event, the human Captain Dillon has picked a game peculiar to Earth called red light, green light.”

“That’s right, Gornok, and to control the game a special official has been brought in from the Klingon ship. Why don’t you tell us about him?”

“Kipakh has served aboard the Ko’jak for the last two years. Before that, he was stationed as a guard on the Jornath Six prison colony, where his hobbies included maiming and killing helpless prisoners.”

“We’re delighted to have him here. Now on with the event. The contestants’ goal is to get to Kipakh, but they are only allowed to move if he says green light. If they move on a red light, they have to go back ten paces. Kipakh has given his first green light. Red light. Green light. Wait! That was a very sudden red light. Dillon was ready for it, but Donask has been sent back.”

“She does not look pleased about that at all, Sean. Notice the angry red building in her cheeks.”

“Green light. Red light. Green light. Red! And Donask has been caught again. Hold on. What’s Donask doing?”

“Sean, it looks like Kipakh has also just seen a green light. Unfortunately for him, it was from the end of Captain Donask’s disrupter.”

“That’s an automatic disqualification for disintegrating an official. Dillon is ahead two events to one. Wait a second. There seems to be an argument erupting on the playing field.”

“This is not a real test, Captain Dillon!” Donask shouted angrily. “There’s no honor in spinning around a bat or stopping when someone shouts red light. I demand that the next event be one of true skill.”

“I guess that means leap frog is out,” Dillon said nervously. His plan was starting to fall apart. Actually, he was surprised that it had gotten this far. “What did you have in mind?”

“A sport that test my warrior talents.”

“Uhh… well. I don’t know if I…”

“How about sharpshooting? You and me. Winner takes all,” a voice shouted from behind the row of boulders lining the right side of the playing field.

“Who dares challenge me?” Donask demanded.

“I do,” Captain Rydell said as he walked out from behind the boulders and toward Donask.

“Captain Rydell!” Dillon exclaimed happily. He was saved.

“Thank God!” Russell shouted.

“Well, Donask, what do you say?” Rydell asked. “Are you going to try and defeat me or admit that humans are the superior marksmen?”

“You better have the skill to back up you’re boasts, Rydell. No human has ever or will ever beat a Klingon in sharpshooting.”

“We’ll see,” Rydell replied smiling.

A phaser range was quickly set up under the watchful eyes of Russell and Gornok, who made sure that neither side cheated. When it was completed, Rydell and Donask took their positions and began the contest. The fifteen rounds went by quickly as each contestant pulled off trick shot after trick shot. As the number and speed of the targets increased, Rydell’s skill and practice began to overpower Donask’ abilities. The Klingon’s growing frustration caused her to miss more and more shots as Rydell seemed completely calm.

In the end, Rydell won eight rounds, lost one, and tied six.

“Well, that about does it,” Rydell said smiling as he put down the phaser. “Why don’t you just run along back to the empire while we take the artifact back to Starfleet Headquarters? I don’t really understand why you started this in the first place. You would have gotten any knowledge we gained from it.”

“But you would have it as well,” Donask retorted as she pulled out her disrupter. “Then it would do us no good at all. Military dominance comes when only one side has a superior technology.”

“You don’t even know if it’s a weapon,” Rydell argued.

“With the importance that Doctor Smythe and Starfleet have placed on it, it must be! I will take it now or kill you all, then take it. Either way it belongs to the Klingon Empire! Move!”

Donask and Gornok took Russell, Dillon, and Rydell to the hole in the ground where the device was and made them climb down in. The Klingons followed close behind, weapons drawn. Upon, seeing the chamber, Donask looked around excitedly. “Yes, only a powerful weapon would be kept in a hidden room such as this.” Her eyes focused on the device on the far wall. “That must be it!” she exclaimed as she rushed toward it. Donask quickly pulled out her communicator. “Donask to Ko’jak. Beam us and our prize back to the ship!” The Klingons and the device disappeared in the red glow of the transporter beam.

“I guess that’s that,” Russell said glumly.

“But…we had a deal,” Dillon said. “We won.”

“And she had a gun,” Rydell said with a shrug. “Thems the breaks sometimes.”

Dillon just looked back at Rydell numbly. His first mission as captain and this happens. It was not exactly the way that he had wanted to start his career.

Rydell looked around the empty chamber silently.

“Do you two have anything down here that you need to get?” he asked finally. They shook their heads. “Rydell to Secondprize, beam us up.” As the transporter started its work, Dillon wondered how he was going to explain this to Beth.

Chapter Eighteen

Captain Rydell sprang into action immediately after rematerializing on the Secondprize. “Rydell to bridge.”

“Beck here.”

“Keep me informed of the Klingons’ status, Lieutenant.”

“Aye, sir. Lieutenant Commander Jaroch is waiting for you in Science Lab Six.”

“We’re on our way. Rydell out.” Rydell was out of the transporter room and ten feet down the hall before he finished the sentence. Dillon and Russell looked at each other in confusion. They had absolutely no clue what was going on.

“I guess we’re going to the lab,” Dillon said finally as he moved toward the door. When they arrived, Rydell and Jaroch were in the middle of a discussion. They stopped talking the second that Dillon and Russell entered.

“About time you two caught up,” Rydell said.

“Beck to Rydell. The Klingons have left orbit and are on a course back to their own space.”

“Understood,” Rydell replied.

“Is that all you have to say?” Dillon demanded. “They’re stealing Doctor Smythe’s device thing. I mean you just let them fly off with…”

“A coffee maker,” Jaroch interrupted.

“A what?” Dillon asked stunned.

“A coffee maker,” Rydell repeated. “It’s a real nice one too. That thing made damn fine cappuccino.”

“Smythe’s discovery was a coffee maker?” Russell asked.

“No. Smythe’s discovery was a logic problem solving computer system which only utilizes perfect hypothetico-deductive reasoning in its programming,” Jaroch explained.

“I think I would have preferred the coffee maker,” Russell commented.

“I do not think that you comprehend the full ramifications of this machine,” Jaroch protested. “This computer can solve any problem given to it, and it does so with flawless logic.”

“The Vulcans will be thrilled.”

“Actually, I think that the Vulcans will be out of work, Lieutenant Russell.”

“I hate to interrupt, but WHEN THE HELL DID A COFFEE MAKER GET INTO THIS?” Dillon screamed.

“When Captain Rydell beamed down to face Captain Donask, I contacted Doctor Smythe on the Edsel and beamed down into the underground room with him. He quickly collected the logic computer and sent it back here while I came up with something to put in its place. The early twentieth century coffee machine on display in the Secondprize mess hall seemed to be the ideal replacement.”

“I just went through hell and faced an angry mob of Klingons for an electronic version of Doctor Smythe, and you solve the whole problem in five seconds with a coffee machine,” Dillon said softly. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

Russell suddenly fell to the floor laughing. “I’m sorry,” he gasped. “I either have to laugh or get pissed and kill one of you. We went through all that for… nothing.” His laughter became a bit more strained as he turned on Dillon. “This is all your fault. Hee hee hee. I’m going to rip your lungs out. Ha ha.” Russell lunged at Dillon with his arms outstretched to grab his throat. Jaroch and Rydell caught him at the last second.

“Calm down, Lieutenant,” Rydell said calmly. “You’ll be back home soon.”

“We’re going back to Earth?” Dillon asked.

“Yes, Starfleet wants Doctor Smythe, his machine, and his students brought home just in case the Klingons come back. You and Lieutenant Russell can beam back to the Edsel, we’ll get underway.”

“I have no objections to that,” Dillon said as he left the lab. Russell followed slowly muttering to himself.

Admiral Jean-luc Picard’s door chime beeped interrupting his reading. In light of Dr. Smythe’s discovery, he’d been studying all available research on the Firzuk.

“Come,” he ordered curtly. The door opened revealing Admiral Matt Dillon. “Have a seat, Matt. How can I help you?”

“We just received Captain Rydell and Captain Dillon’s reports over subspace. I was wondering if you’d read them yet.”

“I scanned them briefly,” Picard replied. “The logic machine has been secured, so there’s no real harm done. I’m planning to send someone to the Klingon homeworld to remind the high council about treaty stipulations and such, but I see no cause for serious alarm.”

“I agree, but I do think there’s something we need to address: my nephew.”

“Good. I was hoping that you would bring that up. I was sure that you wouldn’t let your personal feelings get in the way of what’s best for Starfleet.”

“Then you want him removed also?” Admiral Dillon asked.

“Definitely. He just proved beyond any doubt that he’s not ready for command. This Klingon situation should never have gotten as far out of hand as it did. I’m planning on returning him to the Secondprize and pretending that none of this ever happened.”

“Very wise, sir, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to handle this. Travis’ ego couldn’t take getting demoted like this. You and I both know the whole thing was a mistake that never would have happened if we’d been thinking clearly.”

“Yes, the Rusai ambassador was clouding my judgement a bit.”

“Exactly,” Dillon said. “But we shouldn’t make him suffer for our mistake.”

“So what are you going to do, Matt?” Picard asked.

“Lie like hell.”

“Make it so.”

Admiral Dillon left Picard’s office, leaving the admiral to think about the other command situation weighing on his mind. Captain Riker’s actions against Alex Rydell necessitated some kind of action. Fleet Admiral Ra’al was no fan of Rydell, but she also would not stand for Riker’s release of classified Starfleet information. Picard knew that no real harm had been done, since the quadrant would know about the Joegonots soon enough anyway. “Captain Rydell Day” would be a bit of a tipoff.

Ra’al wanted Riker to receive more than a slap on the wrist, though. She was talking about a demotion. Picard hated that Riker was going to have his captaincy pulled out from under him before he ever got to take out the new Enterprise. However, this also gave Picard an opportunity to possibly undo the mistake he’d made by taking this promotion in the first place.

He got up from his desk and headed off to see Fleet Admiral Ra’al. With any luck when he was done, he would once again be the captain of the Enterprise.

Captain Rydell walked out onto his bridge and was struck by the sound he heard, or rather didn’t hear. Lieutenant Sullivan and Commander Baird were no longer fighting. He’d been down in the lab with Jaroch for the five hours since they’d left Gulax IV, but he figured that Sullivan and Baird would still be going at it.

“When did they stop?” Rydell asked Lieutenant Beck.

“About five minutes ago, sir,” she replied. Suddenly, the doors to Rydell’s ready room opened, and Sullivan and Baird walked out hand in hand.

“Hiya, cap,” Baird said happily. “I’ll just be going now.”

“Yeah,” Sullivan added dreamily. “Me too. I really need a nap. Bye, Scott. Bye, everyone.” She let go of the chief engineer and got into a turbolift.

“I’ll be in my quarters if you need me,” Baird said as he stumbled to the turbolift on the other side of the bridge.

“I’m glad to see that they finally worked things out,” Rydell said as he sat down in the command chair.

“They didn’t,” Counselor Webber said from her chair beside him.

“What do you mean?”

“We got tired of hearing it,” Beck stated. “So we took care of things.”

“What did you do?”

“We had Lieutenant Vaughn beam in a gas bomb with some laughing gas and a tranquilizer in it. It seems to have worked.”

“But what about when the gas wears off?”

“Round two?” Webber suggested.

“Great.” Rydell stood up and walked to his ready room. A sense of dread filled him as he approached the door. It slid open quietly and revealed the interior room, if it could still be called that. The furniture had been tipped over and moved into make-shift barriers. Everything that wasn’t nailed down had been used as ammunition. His desk computer lay in a broken heap near the bathroom. The replicator was spitting out one cup of tea after another, which had evidently also been used as ammo. In shock at the destruction before him, Rydell took a deep breath. A flood of gas rushed into his lungs. He suddenly felt much better and turned to go back to his bridge.

“Are you all right, sir,” Webber asked.

“I’m just fine,” Rydell replied smiling as he collapsed to the deck asleep.

Lieutenant Sean Russell walked into the small lounge on the Edsel extremely depressed. The mission had been a shambles, and Darla was still gone. He ordered a drink at the bar and sat back to look out the windows. As his eyes swept the room, Russell noticed a familiar figure seated at a table by the window looking as depressed as he was. Russell decided to wander over since misery loves company.

“Mind if I sit down?” he asked.

“Go ahead,” Lieutenant Kantura Dransein replied. “Even you can’t make today any worse.”

“What happened?”

“Darla ran off with someone else.” Russell was about to offer his sincere condolences when the reality of the situation hit him. He started laughing.

“There is justice!” Russell laughed.

“Shut up.”

“Who’d she go with?”

“Doctor Smythe,” Dransein answered dejectedly. Russell started laughing even harder.

“Thank you, Kantura. You have just made my day.” Russell stood up, patted Dransein on the shoulder a couple of times, and walked out of the lounge singing happily to himself. The universe worked in wonderful ways sometimes.

At that moment, Captain Travis Dillon did not agree. He was hiding out in the arboretum hoping that Beth wouldn’t find him. She hadn’t so far. He just couldn’t bring himself to face her yet. She thought he was a brave, dashing captain when in reality, he’d screwed up a mission horribly. He still had the mate magnet, but would it still work on her when she knew he was a failure? He didn’t really want to find out yet. Dillon would wait until they got back to Earth. That would give her a little time to get over what happened on Gulax IV, so maybe she could still like him. He hoped so.

Chapter Nineteen

“Good to see you again, Travis,” Admiral Matt Dillon lied as his nephew sat down across from him.

“Good to see you too, Uncle Matt,” Travis said warmly. “It’s too bad that I’m off in space so much that I don’t get to see you very often.”

“Yes, it is,” Matt replied trying extremely hard to maintain his sincerity. The boy looked so happy. Matt didn’t particularly enjoy his nephew’s company, but he didn’t hate him. It was time to let Travis down easy. “I called you in here to talk about the Edsel.”

“It’s a great ship. I’m really proud to be in command of her.”

“I knew you would. Unfortunately, there’s going to be a bit of a delay before you can take her out again.”

“Why? What’s happened?” Travis asked anxiously.

“Nothing major. It’s just that we realized that several items of the refit were not completed. Starfleet’s very pleased that you were able to keep the ship together with so much wrong with her.”

“But I didn’t notice…”

“We’ll need to keep her in spacedock for another six months to a year depending on how much damage was done by the incomplete systems.”

“But everything worked…”

“We’d love to give you another ship in the meantime, but none are available. We were wondering if you would consider returning temporarily to your position on the Secondprize.”

“You want me to go back?”


“And it is only temporary?”

“Of course, Travis,” Matt said smiling. “It’s in the best interests of the fleet, and I know that’s of prime importance to you.”

“Of course it is. I guess I can handle another six months or so on the Secondprize.”

“Starfleet thanks you for your understanding.”

“Anything for the good of the fleet,” Travis stated. “I’ll be returning to the Edsel to collect my things.”

“Good. Inform Commander Hawkins and Lieutenant Russell that they also will be returning to their former ranks and positions. Oh and make sure to have the mate magnet returned when you get back to the Secondprize.” A flash of panic went through Dillon. He wasn’t going to be able to get Beth back after all. Without the mate magnet, she wouldn’t even look at him. But orders were orders.

“Yes, sir,” Travis replied softly as he left the office.

Lieutenant Emily Sullivan was dragged out of her gas induced sleep by an incessant noise. She finally regained enough of her mental faculties to realize that it was the door chime.

“What?!” she shouted groggily. The door whooshed open quietly.

“Is that an invitation to come in?” Commander Scott Baird asked as he stepped inside the darkened quarters. Sullivan quickly sat up in bed and shuffled her hair into some semblance of order.

“Lights,” she called. The computer complied causing Sullivan to shield her eyes from the brightness. “Sit down, Scott,” she said nicely. Sullivan had no desire to continue their earlier fight. In fact, she couldn’t remember why that fight had stopped.

“I just came by to talk things out before we try to kill each other again. I don’t think the captain’s ready room can take much more,” Baird said.

Sullivan smiled weakly. “Look, Scott, I don’t really know how to do this, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I’m sor…”

“How about we just leave it at we both did cruel, stupid things at the other’s expense and we won’t do it again?” Baird interrupted. “That’ll save both of us a lot of hassle.”

“But where does this leave… you know… us?”

“I don’t know,” Baird replied as he stood up. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.” He walked toward the door.

“Well, could you stay and just talk for a while?” Sullivan asked. “I promise not to throw anything.” Baird smiled and went to sit back down.

Commander Travis Dillon was taking a long time clearing out his quarters on the Edsel. His all-too-brief tenure as captain of the vessel hadn’t exactly been very successful, but at least he’d had the chance to command his own ship. He looked around his now empty quarters solemnly while remembering his short time as captain. The sudden sound of the door chime scared him out of his thoughts.

“Come in,” he shouted gasping to regain his composure. The doors opened revealing Dr. Elizabeth Jennings.

“I’ve been looking for you for hours,” she said smiling as she walked toward him. “Where have you been?” Jennings softly kissed his cheek.

“I had some Starfleet business to take care of,” Dillon replied as he went back to his packing. “I have to go back to the Secondprize.”

“Oh. Well, can you spare a little time for me?”

“You don’t understand, Beth. I’m not a captain anymore. I can’t see you, and trust me, you won’t want to see me.” He picked up his bags and walked past her to the door. “The last few days have been great, but it’s all over now. By tomorrow, you won’t even care that I exist. I really do like you, and I don’t want to do this. But I have to before what I know is going happen does.”

“You’re not making any sense.”

“You’re going to hate me and then leave. I just couldn’t bear that, so goodbye.” Dillon ran out of the room leaving Jennings behind in a stunned silence.

“How did the operation go?” Captain Alexander Rydell asked as his chief medical officer emerged from the operating room.

“Fairly well,” Dr. Singer replied. “Commander Dillon’s fine, but I did notice something rather strange.”


“It appears that the mate magnet was broken by some type of hard impact.”

“You’re sure that it was fine when you put it in?”

“Positive. I don’t know what hit him, but it had to hurt like hell. This wasn’t damage that could have happened very easily. Something had to smash right into his genitals at a very high rate of speed.”

“Can you tell how long ago this happened?” Rydell asked, wondering just what his first officer had been up to.

“Well, judging by the rate of corrosion from bodily fluids seeping into the magnet’s components, I’d say it was within a day of when I put it in.”

“You mean the thing was broken before he even left spacedock?”


“Poor guy,” Rydell commented. “But I’ll be fine if I never have to hear about his genitals or bodily fluids ever again.”

Commander Travis Dillon waddled weakly out of the operating room.

“You shouldn’t be out of bed yet,” Singer said.

“I’m fine,” Dillon replied. “It doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as the last time.”

“Okay. Just don’t over exert yourself,” the doctor admonished as she walked back to her office.

“I’m ready for duty, sir,” Dillon said.

“Well, we only left spacedock a day ago,” Rydell replied as they walked out into the corridor. “Not much is going to happen out here, so why don’t you just take the next couple of days off?”

“Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.”

“Not a problem. Just be back on the bridge at oh nine hundred hours two days from now.”

“Yes, sir.”

Dillon turned to go.

“Hey, Travis…”


“What did you do to your mate magnet?”

“What do you mean?” Dillon asked confused.

“Dr, Singer told me that it was broken, and that it had been that way since before you took command of the Edsel. Did someone kick you in the balls or something?” Dillon remembered the cart that he’d run into right after finding out that he’d been given the Edsel.

“Something like that.”

“Sounds unpleasant,” Rydell said as he headed off down the hall. “I’ll see you later.”

“Goodbye, Captain,” Dillon replied quietly as he started walking the other way. The magnet had been broken. The damn thing didn’t even work. That meant that… Beth really liked him for him and he’d pushed her away. He’d thrown away his first chance at a relationship. A horrible nauseous feeling welled up in the pit of his stomach as he continued walking down the hall. He just hoped that no one noticed the tears of anger and frustration dripping down his cheeks.

Lieutenant Patricia Hawkins stood outside of Holodeck Three and wondered if going in would be such a good idea. On top of that, she wondered why the hell she was even considering it in the first place. She had always thought of Commander Dillon as an officious, overbearing jerk. But somewhere deep down inside of her, she had a little bit of respect and even like of the man. He thought enough of her to want her as his first officer, he’d helped her try to get over her fear of clowns, and had put her safety above his own when the Klingons threatened them.

There was a decent person inside that obnoxious shell. It just took a while to find it. He had helped her, and now she was going to try to help him. Hawkins walked into the holodeck. Commander Dillon had programmed it to create an old fashioned shooting gallery. He stood silently shooting target after target with a rifle. The targets caught Hawkins’ attention. Instead of little ducks they were little Travis Dillons. “You’re an idiot,” they taunted as Dillon picked them off one by one. They let out a little scream as they were hit and fell backwards.

“The holodeck’s occupied,” Dillon grumbled without turning around. “Go away.”

“I didn’t come to use the holodeck,” Hawkins replied. “I came to talk to you.” Dillon stopped shooting and turned around. Hawkins could see that he’d been crying. “I heard about what happened between you and Dr. Jennings.”

“I’m so honored that my problems have made it into the ship’s rumor mill,” he said, wiping a tear away.

“I’m sorry about what happened.”

“Really?” Dillon asked incredulously. “You didn’t come to rub my face in it or anything?”

“Why would I do that?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry.”

“There was no way that you could have known that the magnet wasn’t working,” Hawkins said consolingly.

“That’s no excuse,” Dillon snapped. “I wanted to be with her, but I was too scared to try without that stupid magnet. I was a spineless fool. I’m so angry and disgusted with myself.”

“So angry that you could shoot yourself?” Hawkins commented glancing at the shooting gallery. Dillon couldn’t help but laugh.

“I guess so. I just feel like such an idiot.”

“Well, there’s only one thing you can do.”

“You’re right!” Dillon exclaimed. “I’m going to resign my commission and go after her!”

“That’s not what I meant,” Hawkins said. “The only thing to do is get over her and go on with your life. There are lots of other women out there that would love a guy like you.”

“Really?” Dillon asked.

“Definitely,” Hawkins replied, hoping it was true. “And besides, Russell just heard from Kantura Dransein that Doctor Jennings is now seeing him.”

“Beth and Dransein?”

“Yes, sir. I’m afraid so.”

“No, you don’t understand. That’s great! If she’s with him, then she’s probably gotten over me, so I don’t have to feel guilty anymore. Thank you, Patricia. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Computer, end program.” The shooting gallery vanished. “You’re right. She’s going on with her life, and I will too.” Dillon charged determinedly out of the holodeck. Hawkins looked around with satisfaction. She’d accomplished her goal. Commander Dillon was back to his old self. A sudden chill washed over her as she realized which holodeck she was in. Holodeck Three was where she’d had her first run-in with the clowns. She shuddered as she remembered their laughter as they pelted her with pie after pie. There was no way out then, but now was different. Hawkins ran out of the holodeck at top speed occasionally looking over her shoulder to make sure they weren’t behind her. She wasn’t going to let them get her ever again. No way. They may look all nice and friendly, but she knew the truth. Clowns were evil!

Chapter Twenty

“Captain’s Log. Stardate 49844.4. The Secondprize is transporting a Starfleet official to a rendezvous with a Klingon vessel. This envoy is being sent to make sure that the Federation-Empire treaty will not be violated again like it was in the Gulax Four incident. The envoy’s presence on the Secondprize has been pleasant for me, since he is Admiral Thomas Wagner, a close friend.”

“I’m not sure if I want this assignment or not, Alex,” Admiral Wagner said as the two friends sat in Rydell’s newly-refurbished ready room. “I mean, I don’t exactly have a lot of experience with Klingon culture. I’m going to be stuck in a very strange environment.”

“Like headquarters isn’t,” Rydell joked.

“Very true. Oh, that reminds me. I’m got some strange news for you from headquarters.”

“Really? What a surprise.”

“You’re going to love this. It would seem that Captain…excuse me, COMMANDER Riker’s attempt to get you court-martialed caught the eye of one Admiral Karen Richards. The two have been seeing each other since the trial.”

“They’re perfect for each other,” Rydell replied smiling. “Of course, if they get married and have kids, my family will have to watch its back for generations to come.”

“Oh God, don’t even joke about that,” Wagner said. “Any child coming from that woman is bound to be a monster.”

“Are you really that worried about this Klingon assignment?” Rydell asked seriously.

“I don’t know. I’m just not sure how much the Klingons value the treaty.”

“Well, what did they do to Captain Donask for breaking it?”

“They moved her to the High Council.”

“Really?” Rydell replied in shock.

“Yes, she serves them coffee out of her great prize.”

Rydell started laughing. “I’ll have to drop by there and order a cup for old time’s sake. I’m sure that she’d love to see me.”

“And so, I’ve decided that I must move on to better horizons, to greener pastures. In short, I’m going on with my life. There are other women in the galaxy for me, and I’m going to find them.” Commander Dillon finished his speech with a dramatic flair that was lost on Trinian. She’d been listening to him ramble on about Dr. Elizabeth Jennings for half an hour.

“That’s great, Commander,” she replied trying to hide the sarcasm from her voice, but doing a horrible job. “I’m sure you’ll find someone soon and be very happy. You’ll just ride off into the sunset together and produce lots of hell-spawn that are just like you. You’ll probably take over the whole damn galaxy and lead us all into insanity.” Dillon’s smile didn’t waver for a second.

“Why thank you,” Dillon said complete oblivious to her disparaging comments. “I really appreciate that.”

“I don’t know why I even bother,” Trinian mumbled.

“Who is that?” Commander Dillon demanded suddenly. Trinian looked to see who he was talking about. His eyes were following a woman who had just walked into Seven Backward.

“Oh, that’s Nurse Kelley. She was assigned to sickbay while we were in spacedock.”

“She’s gorgeous. I’m going to go talk to her,” Dillon announced as he stood up and walked away.

“Good luck,” Trinian said insincerely. “Actually she’s the one who’s going to need it.” Trinian watched in amazement as Kelley not only spoke to Dillon, but invited him to sit down. She watched them smile and laugh for a while until her attention was drawn away by a strange howl. She turned and saw several people huddled in a group on the other side of the room. One of them came over to the bar.

“I need three Junidan tonics,” the woman ordered.

“Coming up,” Trinian said as she programmed the replicator. “What’s going on over there?”

“Yesterday, Dr. Singer accidently got injected with a whole hypo of antidepressants she was giving to a patient. They seem to have affected her personality,” she explained.

“What do you mean?” Trinian asked nervously. Another howl erupted from that corner of Seven Backward.

“She thinks she’s Lassie.” Dr. Singer suddenly bounded over, hopped up on the bar, and licked Trinian on the cheek.

“Well, I guess there’s no harm in that. At least, no one’s going to get hurt,” Trinian said. She heard a strange noise and looked down. A small, but growing puddle was spreading across the bar from Dr. Singer. “That is unless I kill her!” She moved toward the doctor who quickly hopped off of the bar. “Come back here!” Trinian shouted. Dr. Singer barked excitedly and left the lounge with Trinian right behind her. They passed Captain Rydell and Admiral Wagner in the hallway.

“Wasn’t that Dr. Singer being chased by your hostess?” Wagner asked.

“I guess so,” Rydell replied unconcerned.

“She was barking.”

“Was she? I didn’t notice.”

“How can you not notice something like that?” Wagner asked in disbelief.

“Around here that’s normal,” Rydell replied smiling.

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