Author: Alan Decker
And Now, Right Here On Our Show…
By Alan Decker
“It should be a pretty standard first contact, Number One,” Captain Alexander Rydell explained as he leaned back in his desk chair. His first officer, Commander Travis Dillon looked at him nervously. Dillon hated first contact missions. Something always seemed to go wrong.
“You’re sure that this race isn’t xenophobic or anything?” Dillon asked.
“Well, to be honest, I have no clue. We’re the first ones to ever see Nielsen IV. I know that normally months of scans are done before first contact is even attempted, but in this instance, Starfleet became aware that the Neilsonians know about Earth. With that being the case, Starfleet just wants us to get contact out of the way now. Don’t worry, I have complete faith in you.”
“Thank you, sir,” Dillon replied bolstered by his captain’s confidence in him. “I won’t let you down.” Dillon practically jumped out of the chair and ran out of the ready room.
“I have complete faith that in about one hour I’m going to have to beam down there and save his ass,” Rydell mumbled.
Commander Travis Dillon stepped up onto the transporter platform with the members of his away team: Lieutenant Patricia Hawkins, Lieutenant Commander Jaroch, Ensign Kristen Larkin, and Ensign Emily Sullivan. Sullivan understood why the others were there. Hawkins was security, Jaroch would be doing science scans, Larkin was a vast storehouse of any kind of information, but Sullivan was just the navigator. She’d spent all of her time on the Secondprize on the ship. No away missions or anything. Now suddenly she was beaming down on a first contact mission.
The truth was that Dillon thought that Sullivan needed the experience, and also he wanted somebody else down there for the aliens to shoot at instead of him. Sullivan would not have been happy about that one. She already thought that Dillon was an obnoxious, overbearing martinet, but the fact that he was using her to protect his own safety… that would have sent her through the roof.
“Energize,” Dillon ordered confidently. The captain was right; everything would be just fine. They’d beam down and have this wrapped up in no time. As Captain Rydell would say, not a problem. Dillon felt the molecules of his body tingling as the transporter began its work.
The team rematerialized in the center of a small neighborhood. It reminded Sullivan of pictures she’s seen of life in the twentieth century. The houses all looked about the same: two story white houses with green lawns and flowers lining the walk that led to the front door. It was so disgustingly normal that she wanted to gag.
Several of the neighborhood residents came outside to gawk at the beings that just appeared in the middle of their street. The Neilsonians were about a foot shorter than the away team. They had huge eyes and stomachs, but small and stumpy arms and legs. Soon, the away team found themselves surrounded by about fifty of them. They heard sirens and saw several black and white vehicles with flashing red and blue lights approaching. Each vehicle had the number 54 on its side. Dillon decided it was time to deliver his speech.
“Citizens of Nielsen Four, I am Commander Travis Michael Dillon of the Federation Starship Secondprize. This is Lieutenant Patricia Hawkins, Lieutenant Commander Jaroch, Ensign Kristen Larkin, and Ensign Emily Sullivan of my crew.” Gasps erupted through the crowd.
“His crew? Yeah, right,” Sullivan thought to herself unaware of the crowd’s reaction. “Dream on, you bastard.”
“Sullivan! Sullivan!” the crowd began chanting placing emphasis on every syllable. “Ed Sullivan! Ed Sullivan! We want Sullivan! Do show! You must do show!”
Sullivan was jolted out of her thoughts by the sound of her name. What the hell was going on?
“What the hell is going on?” Dillon demanded, echoing her thought. “Who’s Ed Sullivan?”
“An Earth television star from the mid-twentieth century. He hosted a variety show called The Ed Sullivan Show,” Larkin replied after she’d retrieved the information from her vast memory.
“It would seem that these people have received Earth’s television signals,” Jaroch said. “And they are very fond of this Ed Sullivan person.”
“Great. What’s that mean for us?” Dillon asked.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Jaroch replied. Dillon hated that response with a passion.
“Sullivan! Sullivan! Ed Sullivan! We have Sullivan! Take the Sullivan to the theater!” The crowd charged forward, grabbed the away team, and carried them toward a large building in the center of town.
“Put us down!” Dillon ordered. “I am a representative of the Federation. I wish to open relations with your people. For God sakes, take me to your leader!” The crowd didn’t listen. Actually, things got worse. People in the crowd began pawing at the away team and taking their equipment as souvenirs. They soon found themselves without phasers, tricorders, or communicators. Dillon was starting to wish he’d stayed in bed.
The away team was carried through the center of town right past a huge statue of a human. He was slightly overweight and balding. Sullivan managed to catch a glimpse of the placard at the base of the statue. It was Ed Sullivan himself. The Neilsonians really did worship this guy which meant… she was practically a goddess. This was starting to look a whole lot better. Yes, there would be feasts and offerings and everything else. Was it even against the Prime Directive if the Neilsonians already knew about Earth? Probably not!
The Neilsonians carried their captives into a huge theater. The stage was bare and everywhere the seats were full of Neilsonians. News of the away team’s arrival had travelled fast. The away team were plopped unceremoniously on the stage except for Sullivan who was set down gently and with extreme reverence.
“Now do show!” one of the Neilsonians replied.
“Do show! Do show!” the crowd chanted.
“Wait a minute,” Sullivan said. “I don’t know how.”
“Then you not real Sullivan! You must die!” the crowd replied angrily.
“Oh! A show!” Sullivan exclaimed trying to save her life. “Of course I can do a show!” Appeased, the crowd settled into their seats. The away team ducked backstage to regroup.
“Suggestions?” Dillon asked hopefully. “Hawkins?”
“We could try to sneak out the back, but without our equipment, we probably won’t get far. We don’t exactly blend in,” Hawkins said.
“They want a show, and that’s what we have to give them if we want to get out of this,” Sullivan said.
“I concur with Ensign Sullivan,” Jaroch said.
“I’m not much of an actor,” Dillon said.
Sullivan ignored him and turned to Ensign Larkin. “Kristen, tell me everything you can about how Ed Sullivan acted and the type of stuff that was on his show. We’re going to give them a show they’re never going to forget!”
“Because it’s so good or so awful?” Hawkins asked.
“Definitely one of those two!”
“Show! Show! Show!” the crowd chanted impatiently. Nothing had happened for almost ten minutes. They wanted their show, and they wanted it now! Suddenly, the lights in the theater went out, the curtains closed, and a lone spotlight shone on the stage. Emily Sullivan stepped into the beam.
“Good evening, ladies and gentleman,” she said in the best approximation of Ed Sullivan’s voice she could do. “We’ve got a great show for you this evening.” The crowd roared with delight. Cheers and yells erupted from everywhere. Sullivan noticed several cameras at the base of the stage. This was being broadcast!
“Captain, I think you’d better see this.”
“What is it, Lieutenant Beck?”
“We’re receiving a video signal from the planet, sir.”
“On screen,” Rydell ordered. The picture of a stage appeared. Standing on the stage was Ensign Emily Sullivan. What was going on down there?
“And now, ladies and gentlemen, right here on our show, the amazing juggling of Kristen Larkin!” Sullivan darted off stage as the curtains opened to reveal Larkin. She was seated in a chair on the otherwise bare stage. Jaunty music began to blare through the theater speaker system.
Larkin reached down and detached one leg, much to the astonishment of the crowd. She took off the next leg to even more gasps and cheers. Then in one smooth move, she took off her head and tossed it into the air, followed by each other her legs. Soon she was juggling the limbs and her head around and around with ease. The crowd applauded wildly. They loved it.
“One success,” Sullivan thought to herself as Larkin finished and reattached her head. Dillon and Jaroch carried her and her legs off stage to thunderous applause.
The curtains closed, and Sullivan stepped back into the spotlight.
“More show! More show!” the crowd chanted.
“That was Kristen Larkin. Wasn’t she incredible, folks? I bet you’ve never seen anything like that before,” Sullivan announced. “Now I’d like to introduce sharpshooter Patricia Hawkins who’ll give a demonstration, but first we need your help. Patricia has lost her phaser, so we’d like to know if one of you would give it back. If you do, you’ll get to come up on stage and be in the show. It’s an object about so long,” she said, holding up her hands at phaser-width, with buttons on top that you absolutely should not touch!”
Sullivan tensed a little as she waited for the crowd’s response. This could easily blow up in their faces. Suddenly, someone in the back of the theater jumped up and ran toward the stage phaser in hand.
“Me! Me!” the Neilsonian said breathlessly as he approached Sullivan. “I want to be in show! Here phasee.” He handed the weapon to Sullivan.
“Thank you very much,” Sullivan said relieved. “Come on up here. What’s your name?”
“Beaver,” the Neilsonian replied. Beaver? This race was strange. Sullivan led Beaver backstage where Hawkins was waiting.
“Here’s your assistant,” Sullivan told Hawkins. “His name’s Beaver. And here’s your phaser.” Hawkins practically took Sullivan’s arm off as she snatched the weapon. She had her phaser back. Everything would be fine now.
Sullivan walked back out on stage. “And now, here’s Patricia Hawkins assisted by Beaver.” The curtains opened to reveal Hawkins, Beaver, and a series of five targets Hawkins had cobbled together from various props and pieces of equipment she had found backstage.
“Tonight,” Hawkins began, “I will show you the art of sharpshooting. First, stationary targets.” Hawkins proceeded to quickly blast through the targets, first straight on, then after a spin, a roll, a dive, and finally from behind her back.”
The Neilsonians applauded appreciatively.
“Next up, moving targets with the help of my assistant, Beaver.”
Beaver quickly grabbed a bag of items from the edge of the stage and tossed the first, something that resembled a toy horse but with eight legs, into the air. Hawkins zapped it out of existence before it started to fall back to the stage. Beaver tossed up more items faster and faster, with Hawkins quickly blasting each one to the growing cheers from the audience.”
With the bag empty, Hawkins and Beaver took a bow.
“And finally,” Hawkins said, “I’d like to bring out our very own Commander Travis Dillon. Commander Dillon slowly walked out onto the stage, looking extremely nervous.
“You’d better know what you’re doing,” he muttered to Hawkins as he walked past her and got into position at the far end of the stage.
“My assistant Beaver will now blindfold Commander Dillon and place a two inch long piece of wood between the commander’s teeth. I will attempt to shoot that piece of wood without harming Dillon.”
Dillon tensed up as Beaver tied the blindfold around his head and let out a little squeal of fear as the stick was placed in his mouth. He was just thankful he couldn’t see what was going on. Suddenly, he heard the familiar whine of a phaser and felt a scorching heat go by his face. The applause of the crowd told him that Hawkins had been successful. It was all over now.
“Encore!” someone shouted. Dillon cringed.
“All right,” Hawkins said. “Now I’ll try a one inch stick.” Beaver came up and put a new stick in Dillon’s mouth. This was not the type of danger he’d expected to be facing when he joined Starfleet. He heard the phaser and felt the heat again. Success. “Thank you. You’ve been a wonderful audience,” he heard Hawkins say. “Give a big round of applause to Beaver!” The crowd erupted in clapping and cheers once again. Then, Dillon heard the curtains close. He was safe. He ripped off the blindfold and looked around in near panic. He was supposed to be up next, but he had no clue what his act was going to be.
Dillon may not have known, but Sullivan had it taken care of. She walked back out on stage. “And now right here on our show, Travis Dillon, who you just saw risking his own face for your entertainment, singing the Earth classic ‘I’m A Little Teapot’!” She might be risking a court-martial with this stunt, but it was so worth it. Sullivan ran off stage as the curtains opened revealing Dillon standing in the middle of the stage frozen with fear.
“Um…Uh…,” Dillon stammered. The audience started to shift in their seats. If he didn’t do something soon, they’d kill him. “I’m a little teapot short and stout,” he sang softly as he did the motions. “Here is my handle, and here is my spout.”
He was gaining confidence. “When I get all steamed up, hear me shot.”
He got louder and finished the song with showmanship worthy of a Broadway star.
“Tip me over and…pour…Me…OUUUUUUUUUTTTTTT!”
The audience laughed hysterically as Dillon hit notes flatter than anything heard in history. This wasn’t the response Dillon had hoped for. He stormed off stage angrily. These people just didn’t know talent when they heard it.
Sullivan suppressed her laughter and went back on stage. So far, the Neilsonians loved the show, and there was only one act left. This one was either going to put the Neilsonians into hysterics or get the entire away team killed. Either way, it’d be interesting to watch. “For our final act this evening we have a special treat. Right here on our show, all the way from the planet Yyns, it’s the comedy team of Jaroch and J’Ter!” She ran offstage a bit faster than usual this time. J’Ter was dangerous, and she didn’t want to be around when he popped out.
“Good evening, Neilson Four,” Jaroch said after the curtains had opened. The stage was empty except for him and the piece of metal pipe he was holding. “Tonight, my partner J’Ter and I will do everything in our power to amuse you. First, I’d like to introduce you to J’Ter. J’Ter was a Yynsian prince from one thousand years ago. He was murdered by his own brother, and his life force now resides in me, forever searching for his brother in order to kill him. But tonight revenge has to step aside because we’re here to have fun.” Sullivan cradled her head in her hands. Jaroch was not doing very well. Hopefully, he’d get better.
“We’re all going to be killed,” she heard Hawkins mumble.
“Now for our first joke,” Jaroch said. “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Jaroch bonked himself over the head with the metal pipe. The audience laughed hysterically. Jaroch’s eyes glazed over, and his face contorted into a menacing scowl. J’Ter was out.
“To get away from my wrath!” J’Ter bellowed. “All beings fear J’Ter. J’Ter is the master of all beings, slayer of multitudes. I shall destroy you all!”
Sullivan realized that J’Ter wasn’t going to let Jaroch back out. It was time to help the process. She untied a rope backstage. A sandbag plunged from the ceiling and clobbered J’Ter. The audience was rolling out of their chairs with laughter. Jaroch stood up a second later.
“I apologize for J’Ter’s destruction of the punchline of that joke. We shall try another. What is red and green and moves at one hundred kilometers per hour?” Jaroch hit himself again.
J’Ter reemerged. “You when I finish with you, insignificant vermin!” J’Ter screamed. He began to strangle himself in order to kill Jaroch. Sullivan closed the curtains as the audience laughed, clapped, and cheered wildly. Jaroch/J’Ter was still trying to kill himself.
“Patricia, stun him,” Sullivan said. Hawkins zapped Jaroch/J’Ter, who fell to the floor immobile. Based on the claps and cheers from the crowd, that seemed to entertain the Neilsonians more than anything they’d seen so far. It was the perfect time to bring things to a close.
Sullivan walked back out on stage. “I hope you enjoyed the show this evening. We’d like you to show us your appreciation by bringing any articles you removed from us up to the stage.” Sullivan knew it was a long shot, but she was pleasantly surprised to see that the audience complied gladly. Soon there was a pile of phasers, communicators, and tricorders at Sullivan’s feet.
“Sullivan! We love Sullivan!” they chanted as they filed out of the theater. Sullivan took the equipment back stage and gave it back to the rest of the away team. It was time to go home.
Captain Rydell was waiting in the transporter room when the away team beamed back aboard.
“Great job, Sullivan,” he said as Sullivan stepped down off the transporter pad. “We saw the whole thing. You’ve more than earned yourself a place on future away teams.”
“Thank you, sir,” Sullivan replied smiling. She wasn’t going to be stuck on the ship anymore.
Later that evening, Sullivan was lying in her bed about to go to sleep. The mission had been exhausting. She felt tired, but elated at the same time. She’d experienced her first strange new world. This was why she joined Starfleet.
“This is the captain,” Rydell’s voice announced over the ship’s loudspeakers. “Tonight, we have a special treat for your listening pleasure. It’s our very own Commander Travis Dillon singing I’m A Little Teapot.” Sullivan started laughing as the recording of Dillon’s earlier performance began to play.
She could swear that somewhere on the ship, she could hear Dillon screaming.