Author: Cory Parker
Star Traks: Next Frontier
“What the Puck!?!”
By Cory Parker
Commander Rachel LaCroix frowned as she tried to fix the collar on her dress uniform. She continued to try and stretch it out as she walked out of her quarters and headed for the turbolift. She took one quick glance at a computer terminal in the wall next to the turbolift to check her hair before she entered. “Mess hall,” she requested. As the `lift started, she pulled again at the collar. “Damn diplomatic functions.” In the Academy, she had nearly failed her First Contact class, and she hadn’t liked being on such missions ever since. It wasn’t meeting the new species that bothered her, it was the endless pomp and ceremony the diplomats ALWAYS went through that really got to her. The lift stopped, and she exited. As she was heading for the mess hall, Ensign Bannon met her in the hall and proceeded to walk with her. Unlike LaCroix, Blake was clad in his standard duty uniform.
“Hey, Commander,” he greeted. “Ready to meet the delegation from Friedon?”
“You apparently are not.”
“What?” She pointed at his uniform, then at hers, then back again. Bannon looked puzzled for a minute, then finally got it after LaCroix repeated the action a few more times. “Right, right, right, right. I’ll be right back.” The ensign dashed off as LaCroix let out a sigh, then entered the mess hall. It was packed with people, mostly Starfleet, and all were talking and laughing while a holographic jazz quartet played in the background. She made an effort not to roll her eyes.
“Nice to see you here, Commander,” greeted Captain Halloway.
“Always a pleasure,” she remarked through gritted teeth. Halloway leaned in and lowered his voice considerably.
“Listen, Rachel, I don’t like these things much either. However, the Friedons are the first race in Sector 66-F to ask us to dinner, so I’m trying to make a good impression.”
“They’re going back in the morning still, right?”
“Oh, definitely.” She smiled out of politeness to a crossing dignitary and grabbed a drink from one of the holographic waiters passing by with replicated champagne. “That’s what I love about these little gatherings, the degree of sincerity they project…” she muttered as she took a generous sip from her glass.
“That’s right Commander, start the night off right,” said Lt. Benn as she appeared beside the two and took a rather large gulp from her own glass. Halloway rubbed his head and turned away to attend to the diplomats.
“I am not looking forward to tomorrow,” said LaCroix suddenly out of the blue.
“Why? The delegation is leaving.”
“No, it’s not that. Tomorrow is the Haymaker’s one month anniversary being in this godforsaken sector.”
“Oh.” Benn looked off for a moment, then turned back and finished her drink. “Well, you’d better get a few more of those then,” she said, pointing to LaCroix glass as she walked away. LaCroix sighed and made her way towards the window and found a seat at a table. Only a month in Secor 66-F, and she was ready to leave. Not that she was the only one, mind you. However, LaCroix was one of the most vocal about it.
“May I sit down?” The question brought the first officer back to reality, and staring into the eyes of one of the delegates she had not seen before. He was tall, with light brown hair. Like the rest of the Friedons, his skin was a dark olive color, and he had ridges traveling from his chin to his ears. He was strikingly familiar to LaCroix, but she couldn’t place where she had seen him before.
“Yes, of course, Ambassador…?”
“Actually, the name is Alladon, no title attached.” He flashed a brilliant grin as he sat down across from LaCroix.
“Are you with the diplomats, or just a visitor?”
“I’m just passing through. Wonderful ship you have here, Commander LaCroix.” Rachel blushed.
“You’ve heard of me.”
“Yes, Captain Halloway speaks very highly of you.”
“Nice of you to say so.” The conversation was off to a good start, until Alladon opened his mouth again.
“You must look good naked.”
“Yes, as a matter of…what?”
“I bet you’re good in bed, too.” LaCroix raised a hand and smacked Alladon across the face. Not because it wasn’t true (it was), but as a matter of form.
“How dare you!?!”
“Oh, I dare, I dare!” responded Alladon with a devilish grin. LaCroix was utterly in shock. Not since shore leave on Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet had she encountered such blatantly male behavior. “So, what do you say, Commander?”
“About WHAT???” Alladon proceeded to make a rather graphic gesture with his hands, resulting in another slap across his face.
“I’ll take that as a `no’, then.”
“Man, you are fast. You just met me, and already you want to jump my bones!”
“I’m going warp factor 9, I’m so fast, baby! I can send you into light speed, too!” LaCroix readied another slap, then put her hand down.
“Oh, what’s the use…Is that the only thing you came on this ship for, is to get laid?”
“Mainly, yes, but now since that has failed, I want another drink.” He snapped his fingers, and a holowaiter approached. “I’ll have a martini, and I think the commander would prefer sex on the beach.”
“Actually, I’ll have a another glass of champagne,” corrected LaCroix with a smug look. The waited nodded and walked away.
“I wasn’t talking about the drink.”
“I figured that out, thanks.” The waiter returned and set both drinks down on the table, then left. “So, why the hell are you here?”
“I think I have already answered that question already, Commander.”
“So, now that I refused you, are you going back to your planet?” Alladon smiled and downed half of his martini.
“That’s not my planet.”
“But you just came from there,” stated LaCroix, clearly confused.
“Yes, but I’m not from there. Well, Commander, it’s been real. Good luck with everything, and wear something to bed tonight,” said Alladon as he stood.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Never mind. I’ll be seeing you.” With that, he turned and left, leaving LaCroix very confused.
`F***ing men…’ she thought as she sipped her champagne.
“Time to get up…time to get up…time to get up…time to BZAARRRRK!” The alarm in Halloway’s quarters stopped after a fist landed squarely on top of the clock. Bobby rubbed his eyes as he got up. It felt like he had gone to sleep only minutes before he had been rudely awakened by his alarm clock, a present from his former captain when Halloway had been promoted. It wasn’t one of his favorite things that he owned, but it took a lot of abuse, and it never complained. After his quick sonic shower, Bobby opened his closet to grab a uniform. Except there wasn’t one in there.
“What the hell?” The closet was completely empty, his uniforms, his off-duty clothes, everything was gone. He then searched his entire room, from top to bottom, but still no clothes except for the ones he slept in. Halloway gritted his teeth and walked to the replicator. “Computer, replicate me a captain’s uniform.”
“Unable to comply.”
“What? Why not?”
“Desired uniform not in database.”
“You have to be kidding me.”
“Negative.” Halloway raised an eyebrow and put on his blue shorts and his t-shirt, which read `One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor’, and his robe, which he tied tightly closed, and walked out the door.
As the turbolift doors opened, Commander LaCroix expected stifled laughter from her crewmates. Instead, she let loose a giggle as the rest of the bridge crew was still in their sleeping attire. “Something amusing, Commander?”
“I see that you all have the same problem I do, Captain,” she responded as she sat down.
“Since when do you sleep in a toga, Commander?” asked Lt. Benn, who wore a long light blue nightshirt which dangled just above her knees, displaying the words `Federation’s Sexiest Pilot’. LaCroix coughed uneasily and shifted in the makeshift gown she had constructed out of her bedsheets.
“If you must know, I sleep in the nude, Lieutenant.” Halloway’s eyebrow raised a bit, but he made no comment. “Where’s Bannon?”
“On his way,” reported Lt. Comm. Halvox from her station, clad in a pair of red pajamas complete with little devils running around on them. Just as she spoke, Ensign Bannon walked in from the turbolift, wearing a one-piece fuzzy green pajama with feet and a zipper that ran from his neck to his crotch.
“I should have guessed,” chuckled Benn from the conn.
“So, anybody want to take a guess about what’s happening around here?” asked Halloway as he looked around the bridge.
“Somebody stole all of our clothes,” postulated Gabriel in his pair of black shorts.
“Thank you, Commander. Anybody wanna take a stab as to why?”
“Nope,” answered Bannon from his science station.
“The computer still can’t locate any patterns for clothes, Captain. Monty’s working on the problem as we speak.”
“Thank you, Halvox. Computer, activate EEH.” Monty shimmered into existence beside Halloway.
“GOOOOOOOOD MORNING VIETNAAAAAAMMMM!” he proclaimed with a grin.
“Hey, Captain. Nice outfit, Rachel. TOGA! TOGA! TOGA!” he chanted suddenly. “The clothing files are in the computer, the pathways to the files have just been taken out.”
“I dunno, that’s you all’s job. I just fix it. Toodles,” he said as he disappeared. Halloway rubbed his head and sighed. Suddenly, the ship jumped to warp.
“What the hell? Halloway to Monty, what just happened?”
“I don’t know! The core just powered up and jumped to warp 6.9!” Benn stifled a laugh. The stars streaking by slowed down as the Haymaker jumped out of warp.
“We are 0.7 light years away from our previous position,” reported Benn as she checked the conn.
“Are we having malfunctions again?” asked LaCroix with a frown. Nobody wanted to go through that mess anew.
“No. According to this, a command was given to the computer to both start and stop the warp drive,” reported Halvox with a glare at Lt. Benn.
“Hey, don’t look at me. I’m not looking forward to meeting any new life or new civilizations looking like this! My spots are showing!” cried Jenna.
“Captain, I may be able to offer an explanation,” said LaCroix as she remembered her strange encounter the previous evening. “This guy named Alladon came up to me last night, and wanted to…you know.”
“No, what?” inquired Halloway.
“Have sex with me.” Halvox snorted from Ops.
“This Alladon also warned me to wear something to bed, something I forgot to do after 6 glasses of champagne and three Jell-o shooters.” Bobby nodded and thought for a moment.
“Gabriel, was this Alladon on the visitor’s list for last night?”
“No one named Alladon listed, Captain,” stated Gabriel as he reviewed the list.
“Hey, Gabriel, what was the name of that one aide who downed a Black Hole and spewed all over Crewman Simmons?”
“Lohokan, I believe.”
“That’s right. Boy, was he fun. I liked him.”
“Good for you, Captain.”
“Thank you, Gabriel.”
“You’re welcome.” LaCroix sighed, ajusted her toga, and spoke.
“So, what are we going to do? Obviously, this Alladon wasn’t part of the delegation, so they wouldn’t know who he is. He must still be on the ship.”
“But why would he steal all of our clothes, then send the ship into warp for less than 20 seconds, Commander?” inquired Halloway.
“Because he wanted to see me naked.”
“Uh huh,” muttered Halvox as she checked the internal sensors. “The computer says that there are no Friedon lifesigns on board, normal crew complement present.”
“Well, Rachel, it seems that your boyfriend doesn’t want to be found,” said Halloway as he turned to his first officer with a grin.
“He’s not my boyfriend!”
“Uh huh. Gabriel, have all security teams conduct a deck-by-deck search.”
“Aye, sir.” The security officer left his station and entered the turbolift while Lt. Jane Smith stepped in for him at tactical. Halloway smiled at the blonde lieutenant, who was dressed in only a black bra and a makeshift skirt made from a towel. LaCroix rolled her eyes as she tapped him on the shoulder.
“Isn’t there anything else we can do while the search is going on?” Halloway suddenly smiled.
“Yes, I believe so.”
“Thanks, Captain Halloway.” Halloway, along with Dr. Clinton, were standing outside of the brig, looking at a very perturbed (and very naked) Mennol. “So, what brings you down here?” the Betazoid asked as he stood up. Both Halloway and Clinton turned their heads to the side and coughed uneasily. Mennol simply rolled his eyes and read both the men’s minds. “Oh, I see. You have an intruder running around, and you believe him to be a more advanced life-form than he appears, hmm?”
“That’s about the gist of it, yes.”
“And what do I get if I help you?”
“I don’t know. I’m sure I’ll think of something.” Mennol scanned Halloway’s mind again to try and see what exactly he would do for him. “And will you please stop doing that? It’s disconcerting!”
“Sorry,” replied Mennol, not sounding terribly apologetic. “Force of habit. Alright, I will help you, and I know that sooner or later, you’ll think of a proper reward, so here goes.” Mennol then sat down and closed his eyes as he reached out with his mind. He chuckled a few times before he apparently found what he was looking for. “So that’s how you make a batch of Rigellian waffles with uttaberries and not have them come out all soggy and flat.”
“Mennol.” said Halloway impatiently.
“Sorry.” He scanned some more before finally opening his eyes. “There’s a definite presence on board, but he’s shifty. I couldn’t get a good look inside his skull or whatever he may have. Definitely more powerful than the average humanoid, that’s for sure.”
“Okay, thanks Mennol. I’ll be in touch.” With that, both Halloway and Clinton exited the brig, leaving the naked Mennol to his own (and others) thoughts.
“So, what now, Captain?” asked Clinton as the two walked down the hallway. Scott was the most modestly dressed out of all the senior staff, with a pair of blue flanel pajamas and an old fashioned nightcap adorning his noggin.
“May I ask you a question, Doctor?”
“By all means.”
“Why did you come with me to see Mennol?”
“I was bored.”
“Sickbay can get terribly boring, Captain.”
“I can see that.” A few moments of silence passed as Clinton followed Halloway. “No offense, Doctor, but isn’t there something you would rather be doing?”
“Well, um…go assist Lt. Benn with.something.” Clinton’s eyes lit up.
“Is she on the bridge?” he asked hurriedly.
“I believe so.” Clinton began grinning like an idiot, and turned to head for the turbolift. Except he turned too early and smacked into the bulkhead.
“I’ll be okay.” he muttered as he made the turn this time and dashed for the turbolift. Halloway sighed and continued on his way.
`Not a very nice thing to do, sending the good doctor after poor Lt. Benn.’
LaCroix wasn’t amused by the lack of clothing she was wearing. She wasn’t amused about the fact that some alien came on to her so bluntly. And, as Commander LaCroix exited the turbolift and set foot on deck 12, she was definitely NOT amused by the fact that she was up to her waist in whip cream. Indeed, the entire deck was filled with the stuff. She sighed and grabbed a note that was taped up directly across from the lift. “‘For you, my sweet.’ Oh, how wonderful.” She waded through the cream until she found Lt. Comm. Gabriel, covered from head to toe in the white stuff.
“Is there something I can do for you, Commander?” He didn’t sound too pleasant.
“Actually, I’ve been thinking.”
“That’s a good thing to do.”
“This Alladon guy wants me, right? So, to bring him out into the open, let’s offer him something that he wants…me.”
“As head of security of this ship, I must formally object to any officer using themselves for bait in such a manner. But since it’s you, I have no problem with it.”
“Oh, gee. Thanks, Gabriel.”
“You’re welcome.” The two waded back to the turbolift and headed for the bridge.
“Looks like you two had some fun,” remarked Halloway as both LaCroix and Gabriel stepped onto the bridge.
“You don’t know the half of…WOAH!” LaCroix yelled as she slipped and fell to the floor, landing on her rear.
“What the hell are these things?” she asked as she peeled a red flower petal off of her cream-covered arm.
“Bannon tells me there are rose petals; the bridge was suddenly filled with them a few minutes ago.”
“Has our friend shown his face?” inquired Gabriel as he checked his station.
“No, not yet.”
“Captain, if I may, I would like to try and lure Alladon here so that we may reason with it.”
“Or you can just hump him, whichever comes first,” murmured Halvox from Ops.
“Permission granted, Commander. Shake your booty.” Rachel sighed and braced herself for the unknown.
“Hey, Alladon, I’m here. I want you! Please come to me!” she yelled as she walked around the bridge. Halvox shook her head and rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, that’ll do it.”
“Alladon, honeybuns, where are you?” A sudden flash of light startled the bridge crew.
“Right here, sweetie pie!” Rachel turned to face the newcomer. His golden hair was cut short, his pointed ears sticking up between strands. He wore a multi-colored tunic, and floated a few inches off the deck.
“Who the hell are you? You’re not Alladon?” The being, still floating, flew over to the commander and hovered inches from her.
“Well, yes and no. This is my real form, and the name’s is Puck, not Alladon.”
“Puck? Shakespeare’s Puck?” questioned Halloway. Quizzical glances followed from his crew. “Oh, give me a break. I do read books on occasion,” he responded, frowning. Puck smiled and gave a nod to the captain.
“Correct, Captain Halloway. The very same.” Halvox snorted from her post.
“Impossible.” Puck turned and waved his hand at her, turning her into a pig with a flash of light.
“You really should control that temper, young lady.”
“Puck, turn her back!” ordered Halloway as he stormed up to the being.
“Bobby, don’t pull that `Picard talking down to Q’ routine on me. I like you, so don’t piss me off!” He then smiled and turned to LaCroix. “Ready to go, my sweet?”
“Go where?” she asked nervously. Puck simply grinned and flipped in midair.
“Anywhere you wish, darling!” He waved his hand and the Haymaker lurched to the side.
“Status!” yelled Halloway as he picked himself up off the ground. Halvox was grunting and snorting from her station, but luckily, Gabriel was on the ball.
“We appear to be on a planet.”
“On screen.” The screen was completely green. “Reverse magnification.”
“Is that grass?” asked Lt. Benn as she studied the conn. Puck only smiled as the Haymaker shook again as it was being lifted away from the grass. A giant face filled the monitor as the ship pitched at every possible angle.
“Hey, Mom, look what I found?” said the giant child on the screen.
“That’s nice honey,” responded a voice from offscreen.
“Let’s see you fly, little ship!” The bridge crew looked in utter horror as the child aimed the Haymaker up towards the sky.
“Benn, full impulse, NOW!” yelled Halloway as he tightened his robe in nervousness.
“Trying, Captain…!” The boy launched the Haymaker towards the sky, and as it reached its apex, it slowed, then sped up as it headed for the ground. Puck just chuckled and watched. LaCroix grabbed him by the collar and shook him.
“Look, buddy, get us out of this NOW!” she screamed into Puck’s face.
“Anything for you,” he responded as he waved his hand.
“I’m going to rip your f**king head off!!!” yelled Halvox as she was returned to normal. Puck stared at her, then at his hand.
“Not that, idiot, THAT!” he yelled at his independent appendage. His hand snapped its fingers, and waved once more. Instantly, the Haymaker disappeared and was back in space again. “Thank you,” he said to his hand. It raised its middle finger, then fell to Puck’s side. “Sorry, he’s temperamental at times,” he apologized with a smile. Halloway glared at him, then turned to Halvox.
“Nice to see you again, Lieutenant.”
“Shut up,” she mumbled as she checked Ops. “We are back at our same position.”
“Now that everything has been taken care of, my dear…” said Puck as he grabbed Rachel’s arm and raised his hand to teleport them away.
“Oh, no you don’t!” He turned and looked at her, puzzled.
“But you said that you wanted me!”
“I was lying.” Puck’s jaw dropped in shock.
“Yep. It’s what women do best.”
“We wanted to get you out in the open to talk with you,” explained Halloway.
“About what? I don’t want to talk, I only want to fu…”
“That’s enough, Puck,” interrupted Rachel as she placed her hand over his mouth. He raised an eyebrow and turned to Halloway.
“What did you want to discuss, Bobby?”
“I prefer Captain, thank you.”
“And I prefer bacon, isn’t that right, my little piggy?” he asked towards Halvox with a grin. This time, the lieutenant was able to keep her rage somewhat under control, as she only snorted and looked away.
“Why are you here, Puck?”
“I want Commander LaCroix.”
“Yeah. Were you expecting something else?”
“Oh, well, uh.I just thought that you might put us on trial for humanity, or send us to a distant galaxy, of something like that.”
“You mean like Q? Oh, no no no no no,” he exclaimed rapidly. “I just want Rachel, that’s it.”
“What the hell do you do the rest of the time?” inquired Ensign Bannon, who had just realized that there was something somewhat important happening on the bridge.
“When I’m not picking up chicks?” He thought for a moment. “Play checkers, mostly.”
“Play checkers?” asked Ensign Bannon eagerly, who had previously been organizing his collection of holoprograms while the ship had been in a nosedive.
“And I like to knock planets out of their orbits. When you get to be my age, immortality and ultimate power are not all that they are cracked up to be,” he sighed as he sat down in LaCroix’s seat. “I mean, Trelane has his family to go to, Apollo had the rest of the Olympians. Hell, the Q have an entire continuum to mess around in! What do I have? Aside from a bit part in a thousand-year-old play, nothing! It gets to me sometimes.” Rachel put on her kindest face and sat down beside Puck, and lightly ran her fingers through his hair.
“Puck, listen to me, okay?” He looked at herwith sad eyes and nodded slowly. “You are a good person at heart, we all can tell that. You are going to make a lucky lady very happy someday. She’s out there for you, I know it. But I’m not her.” He slowly smiled and nodded.
“Yes, yes. You are correct, Rachel. To think, I was too enamoured with her body to even contemplate that she had an equally beautiful soul!” he declared.
“Don’t bet on it,” muttered Halvox under her breath. Puck stood and took a long look around the bridge.
“It was a pleasure meeting you all. Captain, hopefully we shall see each other again!”
“None too soon, I hope,” he replied as he shook Puck’s hand. He laughed and waved his hand. The Haymaker was engulfed with light, and suddenly, everybody was wearing his or her proper uniform, and Puck had vanished. “These little adventures of ours always seem to wrap up nicely,” he mentioned to no one in particular. Monty suddenly shimmered onto the bridge beside Halloway.
“Captain, I found the uniform patterns.but I see that we have taken care of that already,” he finished as he glanced around the bridge. Halloway smiled and smoothed out the wrinkles in the uniform as he sat down in his chair.
“Another day, another dollar, eh Commander?” he grinned.
“Oh, shut up.”
“Helm, lay in a course, mark 213 mark.”
“Crewman Simmons to the bridge.” Monty’s face lit up like a gaslight as he recognized the voice.
“Hey, isn’t that the guy who was barfed on by that aide last night?”
“Bridge here, Crewman. What seems to be the problem?”
“Well, sir, I’m here on deck 12, and there is a lot of whipped cream to clean up, not to mention the live chickens left on deck 7.”
“OOPS.” muttered the disembodied voice of Puck. Halloway could hear what sounded like a `whoosh’ of air over the comm system, and then Simmons came back on.
“Never mind, Captain. Problem solved. Simmons out.” Lt. Benn was grinning from one side of her spotted head to the other.
“Jenna, get us outta here!” ordered LaCroix while Halloway has busy chuckling.
“Yes, ma’am,” she responded with a grin as the USS Haymaker continued her voyage.