.Viacom and ,Paramount ,CBS by owned is Trek Star .Decker Alan by created and owned Traks Star .you Thank (Just doing my bit to add a little surrealness to your day)

Author: Alan Decker
Copyright: 1995

Star Traks

Fear Has a Red Nose

by Alan Decker


I


Lieutenant Patricia Hawkins pointed her wrist-light down the crumbling passageway. Ahead appeared to be nothing but more nothing.

“Exciting place,” she said.

“No kidding,” Commander Travis Dillon replied from behind her. “You’d think that a whole civilization would have the decency to leave some artifacts or writings or something before dying off.”

“The Guulam were wiped out by a supernova. I don’t think that they had time to do much of anything.”

Commander Dillon felt something move past his leg.

“What the hell is that?” he shouted, pulling out his phaser. He fired towards the ground wildly. Hawkins moved her wrist-light along the ground until she spotted the charred remains of the offending creature.

“That, Commander Cool Head, was a creature commonly known as a rat,” Hawkins said.

“It could have been rabid or something,” Dillon insisted.

“It’s good to know your looking out for our welfare and not letting fear get the best of you,” Hawkins said.

“Rydell to away team,” their commbadges barked suddenly.

“Dillon here.”

“How’s the survey going?”

“Well, we’ve entered the burial temple, but we still haven’t found much of anything. I think we’re going to have to leave this one to the archaeological survey,” Dillon said.

“So, you feel that it’s safe?” Rydell asked.

“Yes, Captain,” Hawkins said. “There’s nothing down here except some rats, and Commander Dillon is doing his best to exterminate them.”

“All right,” Rydell said, the confusion apparent in his voice. “Let us know when you’re done tormenting the local animal life and ready to beam up. Rydell out.”

Hawkins walked down the corridor a little farther. She still couldn’t see any of the tombs that were supposedly in the burial temple. She scanned the walls with her tricorder. Nothing.

“You about ready, Patricia?” Dillon asked.

“Yeah, just a sec.” She walked down the corridor a little farther, scanning the walls as she went. She was sure that there had to be a secret passage or something somewhere. The whole burial temple couldn’t just be the one long hallway.

She took a few more steps, crossing the sensor of an ancient protection system. She didn’t pick it up on her tricorder, and it didn’t do anything to make her away of its presence.

The system scanned the trespasser. After assessment, she would be eliminated by what the system found to be her worst fear.

“OK, Commander, let’s get out of here,” Hawkins said, closing her tricorder.

“Dillon to Secondprize. Two to beam up. Energize.”

The two Secondprize officers dematerialized just as the ancient security system completed its scan of Hawkins. Momentarily confused, the system widened the scope of its scan, searching for the trespasser. She was not in the building. She was not on the temple grounds. She was not in the city. She was not on the continent. She was…above the planet.

The scan detected a ship above Guulamia. The trespasser was on board that vessel. Energy was converted into matter. The trespasser would not escape.


Lieutenant Hawkins and Commander Dillon stepped out of the turbolift onto the Secondprize bridge just as Captain Rydell was giving the order to leave orbit. The starship pulled away from Guulamia and headed out of the solar system.

Back on Guulamia, the entire burial grounds shook violently as the security system formed its weapon of destruction. Finally, the burial temple and everything around it exploded outward in a storm of stone and dirt as the weapon broke through the surface of the planet and headed out into space.

“Set a course for Pollux Two, warp five,” Rydell said. At the conn console, Lieutenant Emily Sullivan started punching in the coordinates.

“Captain, I’m detecting something coming up behind us,” Lieutenant Hawkins said.

“What is it?” Rydell asked.

“Unknown, Captain,” Lieutenant Commander Jaroch said, checking the sensors. “It does not match any ship in our records.”

“Hail them, Hawkins,” Rydell ordered. Hawkins activated the hail.

“The response is coming in now, Captain,” Hawkins said. “Audio only.”

“Hawkins. Hawkins. Hawkins. Hawkins,” a deep, slightly mechanical voice said in booming tones over the Secondprize’s speakers in an ominous, death chant. Hawkins, despite her best efforts to control herself, was starting to get nervous. What was out there? And why was it interested in her?

“Are you expecting company, Lieutenant?” Rydell asked.

“No,” Hawkins replied.

“Well, let’s see who’s come to visit. On screen.” In the middle of the starfield on the viewscreen, the bridge crew could see a small red object. “Magnify.” The red mass became larger, but it was still indistinct. “Full magnification.” The red mass cleared up. It appeared to have many tendrils or filaments. Behind it, white shapes jutted out from its left and right.

The red started to tilt upward revealing the true identity of the pursuer. The red mass sat above a whiter-than-white face that glared at the crew with a wide, toothy grin, huge shining eyes, and a round red nose.

“CLOWN!” Hawkins screamed.

“Confirmed, sir,” Jaroch said. “It appears to be a giant clown.”

“Define giant,” Rydell said.

“It is approximately fifty meters long and fifteen meters wide.”

“CLOWN!” Hawkins said again.

“We’ve already established that, Lieutenant,” Rydell said.

“Uh, sir. She doesn’t like clowns,” Dillon said, trying to explain Hawkins’s reaction.

“What do you mean by doesn’t like?” Rydell asked.

“She’s scared to death of them.”

“Oh.”

“CLOWN!” Hawkins screamed. Her hands raced across the tactical console. Seconds later, a volley of photon torpedoes flew out towards the approaching creature. The clown was momentarily engulfed in explosions, then continued its pursuit seemingly unaffected.

“Jaroch, what is that thing?” Rydell said.

“Sensors indicate that it is an energy field surrounded by a shell formed from matter,” Jaroch said.

“So, it’s not really a clown,” Dillon said.

“No, the circus from hell is coming to get you for one of its side shows,” Jaroch snapped.

“CLOWN!” Hawkins screamed again. She had to get control back. She had to think. It wasn’t a clown; it was just another hostile vessel. She locked the phasers onto the clown and fired. No effect. OK. It was invulnerable to conventional weapons, so…

“Lieutenant, hail the clown again,” Rydell said, breaking her train of thought.

“Aye, sir,” she said, her voice shaking.

“This is Captain Alexander Rydell of the Federation Starship Secondprize. Please state…”

“HAWKINS! HAWKINS! HAWKINS! HAWKINS!” the speakers boomed, cutting Rydell off. On the viewscreen, they saw the clown raising its arm toward them.

“Oh no,” Dillon said softly.

“Pie!” Hawkins screamed just as the clown let go of the giant pastry and sent it flying at the Secondprize.

“Analysis, Jaroch,” Rydell said.

“It appears to be banana cream, sir,” Jaroch said.

“Can it hurt us?”

“It probably has enough calories to kill a blue whale, but other than that it appears to be harmless,” Jaroch said. The pie smacked into the shields and oozed over them.

Suddenly, the ship started to shake violently.

“What’s happening?” Rydell demanded.

“The pie is reverting back to pure energy,” Jaroch said. “It is overloading the shields.” Rydell turned back to his security chief.

“Lieutenant Hawkins, if you have any ideas, I’d really love to hear them right about now,” Rydell said.

“It seems to want her,” Dillon said.

“So, you’re just going to shoot me out there, Travis! Thanks!” Hawkins said.

“That’s not what I meant,” Dillon said meekly. Hawkins ignored his attempt at an apology and tried to think. How do you stop a clown? A giant banana peel would have been real handy about then, but there wasn’t a banana large enough…unless.

“Turn around,” Hawkins said suddenly. Everybody whirled around to look at her. “The ship! Turn the ship around,” she said. “Find the nearest uninhabited planet.”

“You heard her, Lieutenant Sullivan,” Rydell said. Sullivan steered the ship to port, followed closely by the clown. “What’s your plan?” Rydell asked.

“We’re going to become the galaxy’s largest banana peel,” Hawkins said. Jaroch stared at her blankly, then his face started to light up.

“I think I understand,” Jaroch said. “The warp field.”

“Exactly,” Hawkins said.

“Hello. The command officers would like an explanation please,” Rydell said.

“Sorry, Captain,” Hawkins said. “We’re going to make the clown hit the planet.”

“What’s the warp field got to do with that?” Dillon asked.

“If we form the warp field near the clown, we can use the field to propel it forward,” Jaroch explained.

“What’s the danger to the ship?” Rydell asked.

“He throwing another pie,” Hawkins said suddenly. The ship shook again as the pie filling zapped the shields again.

“We could overload the warp drive,” Jaroch said.

“Of course, the alternative is that we do nothing and die from a giant pie in the face,” Hawkins said, visibly shuddering.

“So, our choice is between joke prop and cemetery plot,” Rydell said.

“Yes,” Jaroch and Hawkins said.

“Your plan it is then.”

“Good choice, sir,” Jaroch said walking over to the engineering console at the rear of the bridge.

“We’re approaching the planet, sir,” Sullivan said.

“It’s your show, Lieutenant,” Rydell said.

“Full stop,” Hawkins said.

“Answering full stop,” Sullivan said.

“HAWKINS! HAWKINS! HAWKINS! HAWKINS!” the speakers boomed as the clown loomed larger and larger on the viewscreen.

“Full reverse,” Hawkins ordered, blocking out the clown’s voice. The Secondprize flew backwards, underneath the clown. “Now, Jaroch!”

Jaroch activated the warp field around the ship. The subspace field contacted the body of the clown and accelerated it forward.

The security entity inside of the clown felt itself being pulled away from its target by a force that it couldn’t fight. It could not end this way. Hawkins had to be destroyed by the clowns that she feared so much.

The clown was caught by the gravity well of the planet, and it plummeted to the surface, slamming into a mountain range. The clown shell exploded violently releasing the energy that controlled it.

Severely weakened, the security entity flew back up into space. It was now no match for the vessel that held Hawkins, but it would find a way to complete its mission and punish the trespasser. The entity moved off to begin its search. Hawkins would die by the hands of a clown!


“Damn clown,” Hawkins muttered as she watched the clown explode on the viewscreen.

“Did you piss off the circus union or something?” Rydell asked.

“Not a clue,” Hawkins said.

“Well, just in case, circuses are now off-limits to you. Understood?”

“Yes, sir,” Hawkins said. “Besides, this ship’s enough of a circus on its own. No clowns need apply.”


II


Lieutenant Patricia Hawkins stepped out of the turbolift onto the bridge suppressing a yawn. She’d been up late the night before watching a twentieth-century form of entertainment called a movie with Commander Dillon. Unfortunately, her duty shift started at seven in morning. Dillon wasn’t on until noon, so he could sleep in. She made a mental note to schedule some time consuming activity for a night before he had an early bridge shift.

“Anything going on?” she asked Lieutenant Commander Jaroch, who was in command for this shift. He looked back at her like she’d just sprouted antlers.

“Surely, you are joking,” he said.

“Just making conversation,” Hawkins said. She yawned again and took her position at the tactical console.

“Another date with Commander Casanova?” Jaroch asked.

“My personal life is none of your business.”

“Just making conversation,” Jaroch said, turning back to the viewscreen.


Fifteen days had passed, but the fury had not abated. Hawkins would still die for transgressing the sacred ruins of Gulaamia. Its first attempt to destroy Hawkins with her greatest fear had failed, but the security entity had not given up. It scouted the galaxy, searching for the proper implements to assist it. The necessary force had been found quickly, and the entity made preparations. Now, all was complete. Hawkins would die by the clown. The entity’s forces were about to intercept Hawkins’s vessel.


“I’m picking up some type of ship on long range sensors,” Hawkins reported.

“Can you be a little more specific?” Jaroch asked.

“Not yet. It’s very small and…it’s heading directly toward us.”

“Yellow alert,” Jaroch said. “Keep me informed, Lieutenant.”

“I thought keeping you in the dark would be more fun.”

“This is not the time, Hawkins,” Jaroch said.

The turbolift doors opened a short time later, and Commander Travis Dillon charged out onto the bridge.

“What the hell is going on?” he demanded. “Why are we at yellow alert?”

“Shouldn’t you be asleep?” Hawkins asked.

“I was,” Dillon replied. “I have the computer programmed to wake me up should our alert status change.”

“I have things under control,” Jaroch said, irritated.

“I’m not taking over command,” Dillon said. “Yet.”

“Is there any more information on the incoming vessel?” Jaroch asked.

“Not much. It measures three meters by three meters by… Hold on. It’s a small cube!”

“Are you sure?” Jaroch asked.

“Sensor report confirmed,” Hawkins said. “It’s definitely a cube. No life signs. It’s coming into visual range now.”

“On screen,” Jaroch said. The unmistakable image of a Borg cube glided into view. This one was just very small.

“You are welcome to relieve me of command,” Jaroch said quickly.

“No. You can handle this one,” Dillon replied, fear causing his voice to quiver. He and Jaroch looked at each other for a second and silently came to the same conclusion.

“Red alert,” Jaroch said.

“Captain Rydell to the bridge,” Dillon added. A couple of minutes later, Captain Alexander Rydell raced onto the bridge still pulling his uniform on. He looked at the viewscreen and stopped in his tracks.

“Please tell me I’m still asleep,” Rydell said.

“I am afraid not, sir,” Jaroch said jumping out of the command chair. “The bridge is yours.”

“Thanks,” Rydell said unenthusiastically as he moved toward his chair.

“Shields are up and I have started modulating them. All weapons are on line,” Hawkins reported.

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Rydell said.

“Sir, they’re hailing us,” Hawkins said.

“On screen.” The starfield winked out and was replaced by the figure of a Borg, the site of which made all of the bridge crew go cold. It was dressed in the normal back suit, and a half-mask covered the left side of its head. Its skin was pale white but jutting out of the right side of its head was a long tuft of bright red hair. A bright red ball covered its nose.

“What the hell?” Rydell muttered.

“I am Bozo of Borg,” the Borg said. “You will follow us immediately and give us the one known as Hawkins. Resistance is futile.”

“Oh god,” Hawkins said before her eyes rolled up into her head, and she hit the floor in a dead faint.

“And if we refuse?” Rydell said.

“Resistance is futile.”

“You mentioned that,” Rydell said. “Sullivan, get us out of here. Warp Six. Dillon, take tactical.” Commander Dillon leapt back to Hawkins’s station as Lieutenant Emily Sullivan punched the new orders into the conn console.

“They’ve activate their tractor beam,” Dillon said.

“Shield modulation is working,” Jaroch said. “But if this continues, the shields will be overloaded in ten minutes.”

“Patricia. Patricia!” Dillon said, nudging the collapsed security chief with his foot. “Please get up.”

The Secondprize shot forward into warp.

“The Borg ship is pursuing,” Sullivan said.

“Full stop!” Rydell shouted. The Secondprize came to a halt, throwing everyone off balance.

“The Borg have overshot us,” Sullivan said.

“Good. Turn us around, and get us out of here,” Rydell said.

Dillon knelt down beside Hawkins and started gently tapping the sides of her face.

“Patricia, please get up. We need you right now. I need you,” he said softly.

“Captain, request permission to get some cold water,” Jaroch said.

“For Hawkins?” Rydell asked.

“For both of them,” Jaroch replied, gesturing at Dillon and Hawkins.

“Denied. Keep an eye on those Borg,” Rydell said.

“That will not be necessary,” Jaroch said. “They are right behind us.”

“What?” Rydell said. Dillon stood up and frantically checked the tactical console.

“Confirmed, sir,” Dillon said. “They’re right on us.” The ship rocked violently. “And they’re trying to lock on to us again.”

Just then the turbolift opened, and an officer none of the bridge crew had ever seen before stepped out looking at a padd.

“Can we help you?” Rydell said angrily.

“I’m Lieutenant Andy Baxter, the Secondprize’s inventory officer,” the officer said.

“What inventory officer?” Rydell demanded. “We don’t have…”

“Yes, you do,” Baxter said, cutting Rydell off. “My office is on Deck Twenty-six.”

“Deck Twenty-six,” Rydell said. “That’s the very bottom of the ship.”

“So?”

“So! So, go back to the pit of hell you came from. We’re kind of busy up here!”

“Shields down to twelve percent,” Dillon said.

“The bridge is scheduled to be inventoried today,” Baxter said. “Just work around me. I’ll start in the ready room.” He walked down to the ready room doors and stepped inside.

“Can you believe that guy?” Rydell said.

“Sir, not to interrupt, but could I draw your attention back to the emergency at hand?” Jaroch said.

“Oh, yeah. Dillon, fire at will. Sullivan, evasive pattern Rydell Theta.”

“Firing.”

“Evasive pattern initiated.” The Secondprize shifted course suddenly as a barrage of phaser blasts and photon torpedoes buffeted the Borg ship.

“Weapons appear to have had no effect,” Dillon said. The Secondprize shook violently. “Shields are down…they’ve got us. We’re being hailed.”

“Ignore it,” Rydell said. “I don’t feel like listening to how futile our resistance is.”

At Dillon’s feet, Hawkins stirred, then sat up.

“What happened?” she asked, pulling herself to a standing position.

“The Borg attacked us, and they want you,” Jaroch said.

“I must have burned down a circus tent in a former life or something,” Hawkins said. The Secondprize jerked forward.

“They’re towing us,” Sullivan said.

“Let me take a shuttle,” Hawkins said. “They’re after me, so I’ll lead them away.”

“That’s suicide,” Dillon said.

“They could kill everyone if I stay here.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Rydell asked.

“Positive.”

“All right, but we’ll be following you. Hopefully, we’ll find a way to get you out of this.”

“Captain, request permission to accompany Lieutenant Hawkins,” Dillon said.

“Granted.”

“I appreciate you volunteering to come, Travis, but you should stay here. There’s no need for both of us to die.”

“I’m going with you,” Dillon said firmly. “The captain already said I could.”

“And I second that decision,” Jaroch said.

Hawkins shot a quick glare at Jaroch then headed to the turbolift, followed by Dillon.

“Good luck, you two,” Rydell said.

“Thanks,” Hawkins said. “We’ll need it.”


“Shuttlecraft leaving bay two,” Jaroch reported a couple of minutes later. The Secondprize shook again. “The Borg have released the tractor beam and are moving after the shuttle.”

On the viewscreen, it almost looked like an even match-up. The three-meter-cubed ship was actually smaller than the shuttle, but the Borg ship was capable of overpowering a starship. The shuttle didn’t stand a chance.


“They’ve got us in their tractor beam,” Dillon said. Hawkins just sat beside him and watched the Borg ship on the shuttle’s viewscreen. What could they want with her? And why did the Borg who contacted the Secondprize look like a clown? Was this some kind of galactic conspiracy to drive her completely bonkers?

Dillon futily tried to break the shuttle out of the tractor beam, then sat back in the pilot’s seat frustrated. He noticed the comm signal on the control panel start to flash.

“I think they’re hailing us again,” he said.

“You’re the commander here. Do you want to talk to them?” Hawkins replied.

“They came for you. It’s your show, Patricia.”

“On screen.” The image of the Borg ship switched back to Bozo of Borg.

“Patricia Hawkins, you will come with us. Resistance is futile”

“Yeah yeah. I know,” Hawkins said. The Borg ended the transmission. Suddenly, the Borg ship jumped into warp, towing the shuttle along behind it.

“Do we have a plan?” Dillon asked.

“Not yet,” Hawkins said. “We’ll just have to wait for an opportunity to present itself.


“Follow them,” Captain Rydell ordered.

“Aye, sir,” Sullivan said. The Secondprize leapt into warp, pursuing the Borg and the shuttle. The ready room doors whooshed open, and Lieutenant Baxter stepped back out onto the bridge carrying a padd.

“Captain Rydell, the serial number on this padd does not match the one that’s supposed to be in your office,” Baxter said.

“What?” Rydell demanded angrily.

“This padd is not the one that is supposed to be in your office,” Baxter repeated.

“Do I look like I care?”

“Where is the correct padd?”

“Look, you’ll have to talk to Commander Dillon about that. He’s good with anal-retentive bullshit!” Rydell said.

“Where is Commander Dillon?”

“Well, he’s been captured by the Borg right now, so you’ll just have to wait until he gets back.”

“The Borg…I see. And do you happen to have a way that I could reach him?”

“Baxter!”

“Is this a bad time?”

“YES!” the entire bridge crew screamed.

“In that case, I’ll just start inventorying out here. We’ll talk about your ready room later.” He walked back into the ready room and reemerged a few seconds later carrying his original padd. “Don’t mind me. You’ll never know I’m here.”

“Right,” Rydell said.


Two hours later, the ships dropped out of warp.

“Where are we?” Hawkins asked.

“The Gamma Psi system,” Dillon said after checking the sensors. The Borg ship towed the shuttle into the system, then started descending toward one of the planets.

“They’re taking us down to Gamma Psi Four,” Dillon said. “It’s Class M, but I’m not detecting any life-signs. There is some type of structure down there though.”

Hawkins got up and headed for the back. She threw open the weapons locker and pulled out all of the phasers just as the shuttle touched down on the surface a few feet away from the Borg ship.

“All right,” she said. “There’s seven phasers here, and there can’t be any more than five Borg on a ship that small. If we turn each phaser to a different frequency, we can take them all out then get out of here.”

“Uh, Patricia…”

“What?” Hawkins said, walking back into the cockpit. She looked out the viewport, and her jaw dropped. A hatch in the small Borg ship had opened, and Borg were spilling out of it. There had to be twenty outside already, and they were still coming. Each one had a tuft of brightly colored hair sticking out of the side of its head and a red nose. Worst of all, they all were wearing long red shoes.

“You want the even better news?” Dillon said. “Look over to the left. Hawkins turned and spotted what Dillon meant. Rising out of the serene grassy landscape of Gamma Psi Four was a large red and white striped tent.

“Kill me now,” Hawkins muttered.


“They have landed on the fourth planet in the system,” Jaroch said. “No other ships are nearby.”

“Go into orbit above their position,” Rydell said. “Bridge to transporter room.”

“Vaughn here.”

“Can you get a lock on Dillon and Hawkins’s position?”

“No, they’ve been taken inside the structure, and I can’t get a lock. That place has some kind of distortion field around it.”

“Understood. Bridge out.” Rydell sat back down in his chair. “Damn.”

“Captain,” Lieutenant Baxter said. He was laying on the floor in front of the ops console.

“What now?”

“What are these?”

“Conn and ops.”

“I know that, but why are they here? My inventory clearly states that you’re supposed to have helm and navigation consoles.”

“We got a refit over a month ago,” Rydell said, barely containing his temper. “We got new consoles.”

“Inventory never received paperwork about the change. I need to see the original consoles,” Baxter said.

“They’re at Starbase 219. If you’d like to see them, I’d be more than happy to have you launched out of a photon torpedo tube in their direction.”

“I see.”

“I thought you would. Now, is there somewhere else you could go besides here?”

“I could do the conference room.”

“Good idea,” Rydell said, forcing a smile. Baxter got up and headed back into the conference room. The doors closed behind him, allowing the bridge crew to breathe a sigh of relief. “Computer, seal doors A1004 and A1005. Flood the conference room with anesthezine.”

“Please state command authorization,” the computer said.

“Rydell Alpha Mu Mu Omicron.”

“Procedure complete,” the computer said.

“That should take care of Mister Baxter,” Rydell said.


“I really don’t want to be here,” Hawkins said. She and Dillon had been taken from their shuttle into the tent. Inside, at least four hundred Borg sat in the risers circling the chamber. In the center was a large open area covered in sawdust separated into three rings. It was a circus alright.

“What are they trying to do here?” Dillon asked.

“Torture, then kill Hawkins!” all of the Borg boomed at once.

“Oh.”

A Borg stepped out into the center ring.

“Borg and victim, welcome to the greatest show in the quadrant,” the Borg said emotionlessly. “We shall begin with a performance by the Borgettes.” A line of Borg marched into the ring and started to sing.

“BE A CLOWN. BE A CLOWN.”

“Make it stop,” Hawkins wailed softly.


“Captain, request permission to beam down,” Jaroch said.

“What do you hope to do?”

“I do not know yet, but someone must ascertain what has happened to Lieutenant Hawkins.”

“And Commander Dillon,” Rydell added.

“If you insist.”

“Granted, but be careful.”


A few minutes later, Jaroch materialized near the shuttlecraft. He walked toward the tent, but was stopped by a Borg at the entrance.

“Ticket please,” the Borg said.

“I do not have a ticket,” Jaroch said

“Ticket please.”

“I do not have any money.”

“Money is irrelevant. Ticket please.”

“How do I get a ticket?”

“Tickets are by invitation only.”

“How do I get invited?”

“Bozo of Borg must invite you. Ticket please.”

“Bozo of Borg invited me,” Jaroch said.

“You may enter.”

“Thank you.” The Borg stepped aside and allowed Jaroch to walk into the tent. Jaroch had no trouble spotting Dillon and Hawkins in the stands. He pushed into the row past a few Borg and sat down with his crewmates just as the Borgettes finished their rendition of “Be a Clown.”

“Is everyone unharmed?” Jaroch asked.

“So far,” Hawkins replied. “They’re making me suffer before they kill me.”

The Borg ringmaster stepped back into the center ring. “And now the moment we have all been waiting for,” he said. “But this act will require a volunteer from our audience. As if on cue, the right arm of every Borg in the stands went up. “How about you?” he asked, pointing at Hawkins.

“Not a chance!” she shouted back. The two Borg behind her grabbed Hawkins’s shoulders and lifted her out of her seat. Dillon and Jaroch tried to reach for her, but two other Borg held them down. Hawkins was passed from Borg to Borg down the line until she disappeared from Dillon and Jaroch’s sight. As soon as she was gone, Dillon and Jaroch were released. Dillon immediately jumped up, but Jaroch held onto his arm.

“Remain here, Commander,” he said. “Rushing off after her will not help. We must come up with a plan.”

“They could be killing her right now!” Dillon protested.

“Then why go through all of this? No, they intend to bring her back out here.”

In the center ring, several Borg dragged out a fake building front, which rose over two hundred feet into the air. The windows at the top of the edifice were nothing but specks.

“Now, our daring fireclowns will perform a hilarious rescue,” the ringmaster said.

“DEATH TO HAWKINS!” the Borg audience said. Just then, Hawkins stepped out into the center ring with a Borg standing on either side of her. Dillon and Jaroch stared in horror at what had become of the Secondprize’s security chief. She was now dressed in the traditional Borg black suit, but she had a pair of disgustingly bright orange and green polka-dotted overalls over it. Black tubes jutted out of her neck into the suit and into the mask that covered the left half of her face. Her skin was now pale white and a red rubber nose had been affixed over her real one.

“NO!!!” Dillon and Jaroch screamed.

“I am Sunshine of Borg,” Hawkins said. She turned and started climbing to the top of the fake building.

“Jaroch, we’ve got to do something. She’s going to die if we don’t.”

“We will all die if we attempt to do anything now,” Jaroch replied. “Lieutenant Hawkins’s death seems to be the only thing they care about.”

Hawkins completed her ascent, and several Borg lit the building on fire. A loud siren sounded, then a troop of ten Borg in fire gear marched in. They pulled out a large round net and positioned it below Hawkins.

“Jump!” they shouted.

“JUMP! JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!” the Borg audience chanted. Hawkins jumped.

Dillon and Jaroch looked on in horror as the speck at the top of the building fell, gradually becoming larger and more distinct.

“I can’t watch,” Dillon said.

“You must. We have to act as soon as this ends,” Jaroch said.

Hawkins continued to fall. Dillon’s palms started to sweat as he forced himself to watch. Finally, Hawkins reached the net. It ripped as soon as she hit, and she slammed into the hard floor below.

“Go to her now, Commander!” Jaroch shouted. Dillon vaulted over the Borg in front of him and headed for the ring. At the same time, Jaroch raced to the exit.

“IT IS DONE!” the Borg said. “HAWKINS HAS PERISHED!” Dillon reached Hawkins’s limp form just as Bozo of Borg approached from the other direction. Bozo slapped Dillon out of the way and stood over Hawkins.

“The trespasser of Gulaamia has been executed,” Bozo said. Suddenly, Bozo froze. A greenish mass of energy rose from the top of his head toward the ceiling. The security entity had succeeded and was returning to Gulaamia.

Just then, the stands Dillon and Jaroch had been sitting in burst inward, sending Borg flying everywhere. The shuttle ripped through the wooden seats as if they didn’t even exist and came to a rest beside Dillon and Hawkins. The shuttle’s hatch opened, and Jaroch leapt out holding two phasers.

“Here, Commander,” Jaroch shouted, throwing Dillon a phaser. Both men aimed at the energy mass and fired, phaser beams lancing upward.

The security entity writhed in pain as it felt its life-force dissipate. This was the end, but at least Hawkins was dead.

The green field flared brightly for a moment, then vanished. Dillon and Jaroch stopped firing and pulled Hawkins’s body into the shuttle. The Borg made no move to stop them.


The turbolift doors opened allowing Lieutenant Patricia Hawkins to walk out onto the bridge. She still felt a bit weak, but overall she was doing much better. Jaroch and Dillon’s quick action had gotten her back to the Secondprize in time for Doctor Aldridge to revive her. Removing the Borg implants and repairing her shattered bones had taken a bit more time. Now, two weeks later, Hawkins was shaky, but up and around.

“It’s good to have you back on duty,” Rydell said smiling as Hawkins took her station.

“Thank you, sir,” Hawkins replied.

“Are you sure you’re up to it?” Dillon asked.

“I’m OK.” A wave of queasiness flooded her, shaking her visibly. “I think.”

“Go sit in the conference room for a few minutes,” Rydell said. “Just relax.” Hawkins nodded and walked off the bridge only to return a moment later.

“Did you know there’s a guy asleep in there?” she asked.

“Guy asleep?” Rydell said. “What the hell?” He, Hawkins, and Dillon walked back into the conference room. There, stretched out across the table, was Lieutenant Andy Baxter.

“Oh yeah, him. I forgot,” Rydell said.

“What’s he doing in here?” Dillon asked.

“Never mind. Let’s just leave very quietly and try not to wake him. The anesthezine’s probably worn off by now.”

“Anesthezine!” Dillon shouted. Baxter jolted awake and sat up quickly.

“Dillon!” Rydell shouted.

“Sorry.”

“Well, you get to deal with him,” Rydell said. “Come on, Hawkins. You can sit in my ready room.” He and Hawkins walked out of the conference room.

“Hungry,” Baxter said weakly. “Need food.”

“Two weeks asleep will do that to you,” Dillon replied.

“Are you Commander Dillon?”

“Yes.”

“Just the person I needed to see…after I eat something.” Baxter stood up and hobbled toward the door. “I’ll be back in an hour. By the way, those chairs should be on the inventory.”

Dillon wondered how far away he could get from the ship before Baxter finished lunch and came looking for him.



Tags: Original