Long ago, a cabal of wizened old men decided to align themselves with the power known as Roddenberry. These men are called Paramount, and now they own Star Trek. They will stop at nothing to prevent you from knowing that Star Traks is owned by Alan Decker.

Author: Alan Decker
Copyright: 2004


“Things That Go Meow In The Night”


Alan Decker

STARDATE 53543.8


Duong Lanh tossed the pack of rations she’d been allotted for dinner onto her bunk as she entered her quarters after what she’d dubbed “The Day That Wouldn’t End - Part Two.” Yesterday morning, the freighter had been damaged in an unexpected micrometeorite swarm on their way out of the Alpha Centauri system. Most of the problems were minor, but the big problem was how many systems had been affected.

Lanh subscribed to the idea that there were basically two types of engineers. Starfleet engineers had glistening engine rooms that ran perfectly smoothly until an emergency arose, at which point they’d get all excited about the prospect of dealing with a new problem.

Starfleet engineers were wimps.

A real engineer worked on a freighter. Some were born on freighters and spent their childhoods learning how the ships worked so they could head into the engine rooms as soon as they reached maturity. Others grew up on planets but felt the irresistible tug of a life devoted to keeping a ship like the Jerry’s Choice running.

Lanh was starting to wish she’d resisted. The last two days had been hellish for her and the ship’s three other engineers. Life support was a three-hour job, then another six for the warp drive. After all, the freighter still had cargo to deliver.

Now if only she’d had time to get the replicators back up. Unfortunately, she didn’t, and now she was stuck with rations for yet another meal. Lanh (whose name was Vietnamese for “gentle,” something she absolutely did not feel right now) threw herself onto her bunk and tore into ration pack.

“Lin-Lin. Here, kitty,” she said, ripping off a small hunk of the beef-flavored meat cake inside the pack. The cat didn’t show herself. Odd. Usually, Lin-Lin was practically attached to Lanh’s legs as soon as she stepped through the door, purring and rubbing her fur against Lanh as she went in an out of the engineer’s legs in a circle.

“Lin-Lin,” she called again.

“Rooooaarrrwww,” came a low howl from underneath Lanh’s bunk. The black feline stalked out into the open, keeping herself low to the deck as though hunting.

“There’s my girl. Want something to eat?”

“HISSSSSS!” Lin-Lin froze in the middle of the floor, glaring angrily at her owner.

“Yeah. I know. Rations aren’t real high on my list either. As soon as we get to Earth, we’ll get you a nummy treat. Okay? Okay, Lin-Lin? Lin-Lin? What’s wrong, girl?”

Lin-Lin pounced.


“You don’t care at all about this, do you?” Starfleet Intelligence Agent Batyn asked as he steered the Runabout Pee Dee past Saturn towards the outer edge of the Sol system.

“Mmmm…,” Batyn’s partner, Agent Samantha Dallas grunted from the runabout’s co-pilot’s seat, her attention riveted in a padd.

“What the hell is happening to us? I’m supposed to be the one wanting to stay in the office and do nothing. You’re the surf’s up one,” the Antidean said testily.

Dallas finally spoke her first words since their departure from Earth. “I’m not doing nothing.”

“Well, that’s a relief,” Batyn muttered. “What is it? Romance novel? Holodeck operating instructions.”

“Admiralty archives,” Dallas replied. “What I could get anyway.”

“You’re still on that? Who cares, Dallas? Come back to the rest of us…er…me.”

“Somebody got me out of Tantalus V. That same somebody led us to the Crazy Condor Circus on Waystation. I need to know who it is!”

“Why? If they’re keeping their identity a secret, don’t you think there might be a good reason for it?”

“I don’t like mysteries,” Dallas said.

“Then you chose the wrong line of work.”

“I don’t like unsolved mysteries,” Dallas clarified.

“Good. Then maybe I didn’t drag you out here for nothing.”

“What’s the story?” Dallas asked, forcing herself to put the padd aside.

“Oh now she wants to know,” Batyn said.

“I will go back to Earth,” Dallas threatened.

“No way. You were getting obsessed again back there. If you kept that up, you were heading straight back to Tantalus V. You needed a new case.”

“Fine. So what is it already?”

“Mysterious death,” Batyn said ominously.

Dallas sat up. “Death?” she said eagerly. “How mysterious?”

Batyn’s huge eyes darted back and forth conspiratorially. “That, Dallas, is a mystery.”


“Ow!” Batyn cried, clutching the side of his face.

“You deserved it.”

There was certainly a death involved. At least Batyn hadn’t been lying, Dallas thought as she crouched next to Duong Lanh’s bunk and looked over the corpse of the engineer.

“We haven’t moved her,” Jerry Sparacio, owner and captain of the Jerry’s Choice said, leaning tiredly against the door frame of Lanh’s quarters while Dallas and Batyn examined the room’s contents.

“Good,” Dallas said trying not to look in the corpse’s eyes, which were currently wide open, her face contorted in terror. The victim evidently saw whatever did her in.

“I don’t want this to sound callous, but do you have any idea how long they’re going to keep us out here,” Jerry asked. “We still have cargo to deliver, and more importantly, my crew is still stuck with rations. Lanh was our replicator expert.”

“This vessel won’t be allowed into the Sol system until we’ve established what happened here. But you’re welcome to use the replicator on the Pee Dee,” Dallas said distractedly moving in for a closer look at Lanh.

“Hmmm…” Batyn said, looking at his tricorder.

“What hmmm?” Dallas asked.

“She’s a bit low. On blood, I mean.”

Dallas felt around the bunk. “I’m not seeing any. How long ago did this happen?”

“We found her three hours ago,” Jerry said. “We don’t have an actual doc on board, so we couldn’t determine the exact time of death.” Jerry Sparacio looked to be a fairly young man. Early 30s at the most. Despite his comment about his cargo, it was obvious that Lanh’s death was troubling him as he continually shuffled his feet and looked away from the body.

This was the first death on the Jerry’s Choice. Jerry stuck to the major space lanes, so problems like this really hadn’t been an issue. If someone got sick, they were usually close enough to a major world or another vessel that the crewman could be treated.

But this was different. Something or someone had killed his engineer in her quarters on HIS ship.

This was exactly why Maura had wanted him to stay out of space. She’d loved him, but she wasn’t about to spend her life taking those kinds of risks. It was her or the stars. Jerry made his choice and stood by it to the point that he named his ship as a constant reminder.

“Massive blood loss but no blood,” Agent Batyn said. “Could she have been killed elsewhere and moved here?”

“Possibly,” Dallas said, her voice skeptical. Something just didn’t seem right.

“I’ll have my people search the ship,” Jerry said quickly, seemingly glad that there was something he could do to help in the situation. He headed off down the corridor at a rapid clip. Dallas couldn’t blame him really. Despite her interest in the mysterious death, spending this much time around a corpse was unsettling.

Frankly, this case didn’t even seem like it should be in their jurisdiction. Sure it was weird, which fit their case profile, but where the hell was Starfleet Medical in all of this? What if some disease was ravaging the blood of victims, somehow depleting their supply of blood?

Dallas shifted Lanh’s head, moving the section of her neck that had been obscured in shadow into the light. “Batyn?”


“Look at these. What do you think?”

The Antidean leaned down beside Dallas, once again marveling Dallas that he didn’t smell like the giant fish he looked like.

“Holes of some kind,” Batyn replied, examining the two side-by-side marks on Lanh’s neck a bit more closely. “Maybe from an injection?” He checked his tricorder. “I’m not detecting any toxins, though.”

“What if that’s where the blood went?”

“Out the holes?” Batyn said skeptically. “Oookay. I’ll bite. Where is it now?”

“I have no idea.”

“Great theory you’ve got there, Dallas.”

Dallas glared at him. “I know. I know. Don’t criticize unless I have something to add,” Batyn said. “Anybody ever tell you you’re a one stroke swimmer?”


“Dead woman. Right. I guess it’d be too much to hope that this place had decent internal sensors.”

“Check on it,” Dallas said, standing up from the corpse. “And somebody should see to her cat.”

“Cat?” Batyn said alarmed. “What cat?”

Dallas pointed at the kitty box and food and water bowls in the corner, all of which was labeled Lin-Lin in ornate lettering. “Cat.”

“Oh goody,” Batyn muttered.

“I’ll get back to the Pee Dee and replicate some fresh food. That bowl looks days old.”

“A soft spot for felines. I should have known,” Batyn groused.

“You have a problem with cats?”

“What’s wrong with a nice fish? Eh?”

“Too scaly. And they don’t do anything.”

“Scaly!” Batyn said offended.

“What? Do you want me to throw you in a tank in my office?”

“If it gets me a vacation, go for it.”

“Hey. You were the one who dragged me out here. Don’t you forget…”

The doors slid open, cutting Dallas off in mid-sentence as Lin-Lin, Lanh’s black cat stalked into the room. The animal froze as soon as it detected the presence of Dallas and Batyn, its fur rising as the doors slid shut behind it.

“Found the cat,” Batyn remarked.

“Hey there,” Dallas cooed, squatting down slowly as to not scare the feline. “Everything’s going to be okay now. We’re going to get you some new food and water, and you’ll be all set.”

“Other than your dead owner.”


“The cat deserves to know the truth. Um…why is it looking at me like that?” Indeed, Lin-Lin had turned her attention to the giant walking piece of seafood occupying her quarters. “Make it stop.”

“The kitty scaring you?” Dallas asked amused.

“It thinks I’m sushi.”

“Come on, Batyn. This cat isn’t going to attack you,” Dallas said as the cat turned its attention back to the human woman squatting in front of her.

Dallas was right. Lin-Lin attacked her instead.



“Demon kitty!”

“Get it off!”


“Hold still!”

“It’s got my hand! Ahhhh!”

“I said hold still!”

“Put that phaser away! Grab it.”

“No way! I am NOT touching that beast!”






“Stop your whining and RUN!”


Dallas and Batyn tumbled out into the corridor at a dead run, careening into each other as they went. Recovering quickly, they made a mad dash toward the airlock where the Pee Dee was docked.

“Is it back there?” Dallas demanded.

“I’m not looking to find out. It’ll slash out my eyes!”

They ran into the Pee Dee less than a minute later, sealing the airlock behind them.

“Bad kitty. Bad bad kitty,” Batyn said, gasping for breath.

“Evil kitty,” Dallas said, tending to her injured hand. Considering the grip Lin-Lin’s teeth had had on her hand, she expected there to be a lot more blood from the gash. As it was, only a couple of small trickles were flowing where Batyn had violently removed the cat from Dallas. Otherwise, there were just two small holes.

Two small holes.


“What?” Batyn snapped irritated as he watched out the Pee Dee’s hatch for any sign of the feline of doom.

“These look familiar?” Dallas asked, holding her hand up to Batyn.

“Teeth marks. I was there when you got them. Big deal.”

“Look at the size and spacing.”

“Oh no. I see where you’re going with this, and I am not following. That’s ridiculous.”

“That cat just tried to eat us for lunch, and you’re saying it’s ridiculous?”

“It would have hurt us, but I can’t see a small cat killing a full-sized human. Besides, that still doesn’t tell us where the blood went.”

“The cat ate it,” Dallas said.

“And who let you out of Tantalus V again?”

“I’m serious, Batyn. There are bugs on Earth that live off of blood. Why not a mammal?” “The thing had cat food. If it drank blood to live, somebody would have damn well noticed by now. Duong Lanh would have told somebody, and she certainly would have taken better precautions around the thing.”

“Maybe it just happened. There are myths in my culture about undead creatures that suck the blood of the living to survive. Vampires.”

“So now we have a mythological cat,” Batyn said. “This is getting better all the time. I’m guessing there are no real recorded incidents of these vampy things?”

“I don’t think so. They’re kind of a kids’ ghost story sort of thing, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Many myths and fairy tales start with a shred of fact.”

“Yeah. Like there’s an enchanted school of prawns on Antide Three just waiting to anoint me as their leader and feed themselves to me for the rest of my days. Sure.”

“It’s all we’ve got right now,” Dallas said, heading toward the front of the runabout. “I need some more info. I’m comming Wally.”

“I’m sure he’ll be thrilled,” Batyn said.

“You can always go track down the cat.”

Batyn winced. “Let’s call Wally.”

“Good plan.”

Dallas could almost hear Wally seething on the other end of the commline. “Vampires? You disturbed a perfectly good game of chess for vampires?” Wally’s voice said.

“Just one really. A vampire cat,” Dallas replied.

“You’ve got a vampire bat?”

“No, cat. Meow meow. Hiss.”

“Claw claw. Bite bite,” Batyn added.

“Who the hell is that?” Wally demanded.

“Agent Batyn. My partner,” Dallas explained.

“My sympathies, son.”

“Thank you,” Batyn said.

“Can we get back to the vampires?” Dallas asked.

“There are no such things as vampires,” Wally said tired. “Good night, Dallas.”

“Wait. Just pretending for a moment that a vampire did exist, how would we go about devampiring it…hypothetically?”

“Devampiring it?” Wally said in disbelief.

“She’s got a soft spot for the psycho kitty of death,” Batyn said.

“Well, you don’t devampire something. It’s undead. The only way to make it not a vampire is to make it deader.”

“Redead the undead,” Batyn quipped.

“Something like that.”

“Okay. Then how do I kill it?” Dallas asked, growing exasperated at the exchange.

“Hang on,” Wally said with a sigh. The line was silent for several moments. “They don’t like garlic, but that won’t destroy them. Looks like you’ve got a couple of choices in that department. Wooden stake through the heart. Burning. Decapitation. And sunlight. Now is that all you want, Sam?”

“Yeah. Thanks a bunch, Wally.”

“Good. I’ve got to go. The staff’s been looking at me strangely the past couple of days,” Wally said.

“Maybe they’re sick of cleaning up after you.”

“Like I make such a big mess,” Wally replied. “Bye, Dallas. And…”

“…don’t ever comm you again. I know,” Dallas said with a smirk. “Good night, Wally.”

“Yeah yeah,” Wally said, then closed the commline.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m all for the burning. Sounds like something we can do from a nice, safe distance,” Batyn said standing up from his seat. “And conveniently enough, we’ve got the perfect tool right here,” he added pulling his phaser out of his pocket.

Dallas frowned slightly, then shook it off. “You’re right,” she said after a moment. “We’ll hunt down Lin-Lin and roast her. But first we’re moving the crew of the freighter over here.”

“We’re not going to make them help?” Batyn asked alarmed.

“They’re civilians. We can handle this ourselves,” Dallas said.

“Yea, us,” Batyn muttered unenthusiastically.

Twelve people do not fit very comfortably in the living area of a runabout, but Dallas had managed to convince the crew of the Jerry’s Choice that it was a preferable alternative to being completely drained of blood and left for dead.

“This is why I hate cats,” Trish Wyatt, the second-in-command of the Jerry’s Choice muttered unhappily from the sofa, where she sat with three others.

“At least there’s food here,” Carlos Hidalgo, one of the freighter’s engineer’s said as he perused the replicator menu. “Right, Stanley?” He patted the man leaning against the wall next to him on the shoulder, waking him.

“Unnh? Yeah,” Stanley Monroe, another of the Jerry’s Choice’s engineers mumbled.

“Let him sleep,” Jerry Sparacio said. “He was up all night trying to fix those replicators.”

“You all are welcome to get as comfortable here as you can,” Dallas said.

“As long as you stay away from my sleeping tank,” Batyn added quickly, glancing up from the phaser he was setting. One just wasn’t going to cut it fro this mission.

“Can you check on darlings for me?” Brenda Knox, the pilot, asked. “They’re my four canaries, and I swear Lin-Lin was always eyeing them. I dread to think what that nasty cat has done to my babies.”

“And look in Bruno, my boxer,” Carlos piped up. “Assuming he hasn’t already gutted that ugly beast.”

“Or been sucked as dry as Vulcan by it,” Trish said.

“We’ll see what we can do,” Dallas said before Carlos could retort. “But all of you are to stay here until we get back. Hopefully you’ve watched enough holovision to know what happens to people who wander off alone when monsters are roaming your ship.”

The freighter crew shuddered at the thought.

“I’m glad we understand each other,” Dallas continued, heading toward the exit hatch. “We’ll be back.”

“Hopefully with as many pints of blood as we left with,” Batyn added, following after his partner.

The freighter crew was silent, contemplating the horror Dallas and Batyn were facing. That lasted for all of three seconds.

“You ever going to order something, Carlos?” Trish asked testily, breaking the silence. “Some of the rest of us are hungry too.”

“This is a difficult decision. After so many days of rations, I want to give my stomach just the right treat.”

“It’s about to be treated to my foot impacting it with extreme force,” Rick Wanatobi, the cargo chief, grumbled.

Taking a bit of her own advice about holovision shows, Dallas made sure that every light on the freighter was blazing brightly as she and Batyn cautiously moved through the ship’s living deck toward Duong Lanh’s quarters.

“We’re not wasting any time on this one, right?” Batyn said, phaser in hand. “We see. We vaporize. We’re done. No trying to pet the poor little demon kitty, okay?”

“That’s the plan,” Dallas said. She stopped for a moment. “Do you hear something?”

“Like what?” Batyn asked.


“How can I hear quiet?”

“No, be quiet, you moron,” Dallas snapped. She thought she’d heard a high-pitched noise for a brief second over the hum of the ship’s power systems, but now…

“AHHHHHHH!” Batyn screamed suddenly, looked back in the direction they’d come. Dallas spun around in time to see four bird zipping in their directions, their little faces now distorted into terrifying visages complete with sharp fang-like protrusions on the beaks and red, vicious eyes.

The birds swooped toward Dallas and Batyn, attempting to latch onto their exposed flesh as the Starfleet Intel agents swatted frantically.

“Get them!” Batyn screamed, trying to get his phaser up.

“I’m trying,” Dallas shot back, ripping a vampire canary off of her arm and tossing it to the floor. She fired quickly, nicking the bird in the wing, but it was enough to cause the creature to suddenly flare up and dissolve into a pile of ashes. “Really flammable,” Dallas said.

“That’s not a bad thing,” Batyn replied, swatting at an incoming bird and sending it plummeting to the deck with a broken wing. Considering that threat resolved for the moment, he turned his attention to the canary currently latched to back of his neck and sucking rapidly. An instant later, the first, supposedly injured canary was back in his face. “These things regenerate faster than the Borg.”

“Duck!” Dallas shouted. Batyn hit the floor, crushing the canary on his neck as Dallas fired, vaporizing the canary with the not-so-broken-wing. Batyn’s relief was short-lived as he scrambled to his feet and blasted the canary under him before it could recover. The lone canary remaining fled back down the corridor, coming to a halt right at the next junction, an act that confused Batyn until he heard the low growling. Carlos’ boxer stalked around the corner, fangs bared.

A suddenly howl from the opposite direction sent Dallas and Batyn spinning around to see Lin-Lin exiting Lanh’s quarters and licking her chops. Dallas leveled her phaser at the cat as Batyn spun back to take on the dog.

“No fishy treats today,” Batyn said, pressing the fire trigger. The boxer moved with blinding speed, zipping under the phaser blast, and covering the distance between it and Batyn in a heartbeat. The dog pounced, tackling Batyn to the deck as it dug its teeth into Batyn’s neck. A split second later, it let go, shaking its head in disgust.

“Ha! Not a seafood fan, huh?” Batyn said cockily. Lin-Lin jumped him from behind an instant later.

“Hold still,” Dallas shouted, trying to get a bead on the cat that had just zoomed past her. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the dog eying her. She turn and fired just as it leapt, catching the vampire-canine in mid-air and reducing it to a pile of ash.

“Cat!” Batyn gasped in a panic as he felt the blood being drained from his body.

Dallas kicked out, catching Lin-Lin in the gut and sending her flying off of Batyn, taking a nice hunk of fish-flesh along as she went. The cat, predictably enough, landed on all fours, then transformed into a smoldering pile as Dallas’ next phaser blast seared into it.

Batyn, holding one hand to his injured neck, spotted the final canary moving to escape and fired, catching the bird in the tail feathers and sending it crashing to the deck in a ball of flame.

“That had better be it for the pets,” Dallas said, collapsing to the floor beside Batyn.



Batyn pointed at the new vampire horde rounding the corner. “HAMSTERS!”

The crew of the Jerry’s Choice had quickly made the best of things on the Pee Dee, replicating more food than they could possibly consume along with several gallons of various types of synthehol while Captain Sparacio ordered the runabout’s computer to get some party music playing.

The festivities screeched to an abrupt halt as two battered figures stumbled through the hatch into the runabout.

“Ship’s…clean,” Dallas gasped, wiping a streak of blood off of her face.

“How are my birds?” Brenda Knox asked hopefully.

“Dead. They’re all dead,” Batyn said harshly. “If you had a pet, it was a vampire, so we incinerated it. End of story.”

Silence as the Jerry’s Choice crew soaked in this sobering information.

“Food,” Dallas said finally, limping over to the replicator.

“Best idea I’ve heard all day,” Batyn said.

“Not that you probably care after slaughtering every creature on the ship, but you had a comm while you were out,” Trish Wyatt said. “Some guy named Wally. I recorded it.”

“Thanks,” Dallas muttered, pulling a BLT out of the replicator and heading to the cockpit. Batyn entered a few moments later carrying a bowl of steamed shrimp. It’d taken a while for Dallas to convince him to try them cooked, but he had to admit that they had a certain appeal this way.

“So what does everybody’s favorite fountain of information have to say this time?” Batyn asked.

“We shall see,” Dallas replied, activating the playback.

Wally’s cranky voice soon burst forth from the speakers. “Dallas? Dallas? Damn voice mail. When the hell did you get that harpy of a secretary? Doesn’t matter. Look, about the vampire thing. Great bird knows why, but I did some more checking. Did you figure out how the cat became a vampire in the first place? This isn’t a spontaneous sort of thing. According to the mythology, another vampire has to do it. Possibly by three bites. Possibly by making the victim suck vampire blood when they’re near death. This mythological crap isn’t exactly science-minded. I don’t know who’d want to do it to a cat, but that isn’t my problem. Now leave me alone.”

The recording abruptly ended.

“So what?” Batyn said. “Lin-Lin went and turned the other pets into vampires by making them drink her blood?”

Dallas shrugged. “Possibly. Maybe she wanted minions.”

“Power-crazed demon kitty. I love it.”

“That still leaves with the possibility of another vampire to find,” Dallas said.

“The freighter came from Alpha Centauri. Are we supposed to search the whole planet?”

“We may not have to,” Dallas said thoughtfully as she rose from the pilot’s chair and headed back toward the living area. She found Captain Jerry Sparacio leaning against a wall sucking on some dangerous-looking mixed drink.

“Seriously,” Jerry said as Dallas approached. “Are you and your partner all right?”

“We’re fine,” Dallas replied as Batyn walked up. “I have a question, though. Was Lin-Lin ever off of the ship while you were at Alpha Centauri?”

“No one was. We did our cargo pickup in orbit. Our client had it beamed up.”

“And what exactly is it?”

“Nothing special. Some fruits and crafts for the Interstellar Market in Cairo.”

“You checked every container?”

“Yes, ma’am. We always do. Some folks occasionally think they can use honest transport operators like myself to move contraband.”

“I see,” Dallas said. “Thank you, Captain.” Dallas wandered off toward the replicator, still deep in thought, with Batyn right in step.

“I can see the isostators working in there, Dallas,” Batyn said. “What’s going on?”

“No outside contact means someone on the crew has to be the vampire.”

“Oh come on! Then why is anyone even alive? It should have sucked them dry long before now.”

“Unless it was getting blood from another source,” Dallas said.

“What source?”

“A source that vanished when the ship was damaged.”

Batyn was growing exasperated. “Can you just come out and…” He trailed off as his eyes fell on the replicator. “Instant blood blank.”

“Exactly,” Dallas said. “Let’s see who’s been ordering what, shall we?” Dallas brought up the replicator logs until a promising entry scrolled by.






“Let me be the first to say, ewwww,” Batyn muttered.

“No kidding,” Dallas replied. “But what better way to get the platelets you crave without arousing too much suspicion than by passing yourself off as a big fan of Klingon food?”

“Okay. So if we’re going full-ahead with the vampire theory…”

“I’d say it’s a hell of a lot more than a theory at this point.”

“Fine. There are vampires. You got me. So how about getting this meal some special seasoning? Computer, garlic powder please,” Batyn said. The replicator obediently produced a small shaker of the substance, which Dallas quickly palmed.

The search for the one person in the room seated in front of a plate of Klingon food didn’t take very long.

“Hey there,” Dallas said, walking up. “Stanley wasn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Stanley Monroe replied softly. He squirmed a little bit, avoiding eye contact with Dallas as he sank a little farther down in his chair. He didn’t seem to be enjoying the attention at all.

“How was your meal?”


“That’s nice. I’m not much for Klingon food myself. Too much blood. Just can’t stand it without a mountain of GARLIC!” Dallas suddenly tossed a handful of the powder at Stanley, who, surprised, toppled backwards out of his chair.

He sprang back up an instant later, his eyes blood red as he hissed, revealing two long fangs.

“Vampire!” Batyn cried. “Run!”

The Jerry’s Choice crew immediately commenced pandemonium, trampling Dallas and Batyn as they charged to the exit hatch and fled back to the freighter. The Starfleet Intel agents went for their phasers and came up firing.


“Woah! Hey! Hang on a second!” Stanley shouted, dodging for his un-life.



“We don’t negotiate with murdering bloodsuckers!” Dallas shouted back. “Keep shooting, Batyn.”

“I never stopped,” Batyn snapped.

“I didn’t want anyone to get hurt!” Stanley called back. “Can’t you at least hear me out?”

“No,” Batyn said.

Dallas paused for a moment. How many opportunities did one get to interview a vampire?

“Um…Dallas? Dallas? You stopped with the zapping. Let’s get back to the zapping,” Batyn said worriedly.

“We’ll talk,” Dallas said.

“That makes perfect sense. Have a little chat before dinner. You do realize we’re dinner, don’t you?” Batyn protested.

“I haven’t ever killed a humanoid,” Stanley said. “And the cat was an accident.”

“Likely story,” Batyn muttered.

“Actually, it is,” Dallas said. “Otherwise the Jerry’s Choice crew would have noticed a problem long before now.”

“It was my fault. I’d become too reliant on replicators,” Stanley said, moving out from behind the table he was using for cover and going to sit on the sofa. “I was never much for the hunting anyway.”

“How long…have you been like this?” Dallas asked, pulling up a chair as Batyn scowled nearby, his phaser at the ready.

“A few hundred years. Turned out the kinky sex game I thought I was playing at that New Year’s Party in 2019 wasn’t about sex at all. Whoops. I should have known. Women never threw themselves at me like that. Anyway, after I accepted what had happened and got over the whole ‘Vampires aren’t real’ denial thing, I had to figure out a way to survive. Killing people just wasn’t in me, so I switched from botany to the night shift at a slaughterhouse. Steady income and all the blood I could drink.

“The replicator changed everything, though. Sure it’s not the real thing, but it works well enough. And nothing has to die. You have to love progress. With replicators, I could work anywhere just as long as I could slip away and order a drink. Then when I discovered Klingon food…I could actually eat out with other people. I’ve never been exactly social, but it’s still nice to have some contact every now and then.”

Batyn sighed. “Can we skip ahead here? Why do we have a dead woman and a several piles of ashes that used to be blood-sucking pets?”

“The replicators went down and you got hungry,” Dallas said.

“Three days is a long time to go without anything,” Stanley said. “And Lin-Lin always had the run of the ship. She came into the mess hall that afternoon while I was working alone on the replicators. She came up and rubbed against me and…I just snapped. Before I knew, I’d almost completely drained her. I panicked, so I cut myself and let her drink a bit to bring her back. I never should have let her go back to Lanh. I knew she’d be hungry, but I never thought…”

“I understand,” Dallas said consoling to the clearly-upset vampire.

“You should just kill me. I don’t know how many of my kind are left anyway. I like progress, but it’s been disastrous for vampires. We could handle bullets. Sure they hurt, but you got over it. Phasers, though…instant inferno. It’s hard to hunt when your prey can incinerate you before you get close. They deserve it, though. You don’t have to kill to live. I don’t…or didn’t anyway. We should all be wiped out.”

“Fine by me,” Batyn said, leveling his weapon.

“Hey!” Dallas shouted. “I didn’t say kill him!”

“Since when did I care what you say?”

“I don’t think he should die.”

“He does. I think his decision should take precedence.”

“The crew of the Jerry’s Choice was like my family,” Stanley said. “I’ve been here for years, and now they think I’m a monster.”

“You are a monster,” Batyn clarified. “I’ll make this quick as I can.”

“Not yet,” Dallas said. “No one is dying until we get some things out in the open.”

“So…” Jerry Sparacio said hesitantly. “You’re a…”

“Vampire. Yes,” Stanley said, his head bowed as he sat alone in a chair on the far side of the Jerry’s Choice’s mess hall while the rest of the crew and Batyn sat along the opposite wall as far away as possible. Only Dallas was willing to get anywhere near him.

“Wow. That’s a surprise,” Jerry said. “I never would have guessed it. You seem so…”



“Tell me about it,” Carlos Hidalgo said. “We played ball in the cargo bays for years, and I never had a clue that all the time I was playing with a…”

“Vampire. You can say it,” Dallas said.

“You seemed so nice,” Brenda Knox said.

“He is nice,” Dallas said. “There’s nothing new about Stanley. He’s been a vampire longer than the rest of us have been alive. He just made a mistake.”

“You should have told us,” Trish said.

“I was scared to,” Stanley said remorsefully. “I didn’t know how you’d react.”

“We could have prepared,” Jerry said.

“Yeah. Wooden stakes all around,” Batyn said.

“Could you shut up?” Jerry snapped.

“This is ridiculous,” Carlos said finally, jumping from his chair and striding over to Stanley. “This guy hasn’t so much as bared a fang at me in the last six years. Yeah, he screwed up, but he didn’t kill Lanh. If he says it won’t happen again, I believe him. He’s important to all of us, and I want him to stay aboard.”

“Is insanity just in the human genome or something?” Batyn cried, throwing up his hands.

“Vote time, folks,” Jerry said. “All in favor of banning the fish from the rest of this meeting, say ‘aye.’”

“AYE!” the room boomed, Dallas included.

“I’ll be back to mop up the bloody remains,” Batyn muttered, storming from the room.

“Now then,” Jerry continued. “All in favor of retaining the services of Mister Monroe?”

“AYE!” the room boomed again.

Stanley was near tears. “But if the replicators break…”

“Then I’ll give you a pint of mine,” Carlos said.

“We won’t let you go hungry,” Jerry said warmly, stepping over to shake Stanley’s hand. He turned to Agent Dallas. “I’d appreciate it if you’d find some way to leave Stanley’s name out of your report.”

“She was killed by her cat. What else is there to say?” Dallas asked. “But I’m impressed at how willing you are to take Stanley back after what happened.”

“It won’t be the easiest thing. A lot of bad things happened that could have been avoided if he’d just told us about his condition. And nothing’s going to bring Lanh back, but he’s one of us. We don’t reject our own just because of a screw-up, no matter how big. Besides, his heart was in the right place, it just wasn’t beating.”

“He’s lucky to have all of you,” Dallas said sincerely. “But on that note, I’m going see about getting the quarantine lifted, so you all can get to Earth.”

“That would be much appreciated.”

“And thank you, Agent Dallas,” Stanley said, shaking her hand vigorously. “If you hadn’t been assigned to this case, I’d probably be dead…well, deader right now.”

“Your continued existence is thanks enough. And it has the added bonus of annoying the hell out of my partner,” Dallas replied with a smile.

“We done?” Batyn grumbled from the pilot’s seat in the runabout cockpit as Dallas entered.

“All set,” Dallas replied, sitting down beside him as he quickly detached from the freighter and turned the craft back toward Earth.

“Don’t look so pleased with yourself. You just let a bloodsucking demon monster-thing go free because his friends are sentimental idiots.”

“It was kind of refreshing, actually,” Dallas said. “We talk about tolerance and infinite diversity all the time, but it’s nice to see it in practice when people encounter something that shouldn’t even exist.”

“I never should have let you drag me here.”

“It was your idea in the first place.”

“Don’t remind me.”

“Come on, Batyn. You were right. This was exactly what I needed to get me out of my obsession with who let me out of Tantalus V. I’m back, and I’m ready to work. Are there any other odd cases we should be looking into?”


“Are you sure?”


“You just don’t want to go anywhere else, do you?”


“Would you stop saying that?”