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

STAR TRAKS: THE TRAKS FILES

“Old Guard; New Tricks”

by

Alan Decker


STARDATE 53867.3

HOME OF KANABIN DROL BETAZED


“Honestly, I almost feel sorry for the guy,” Starfleet Intelligence Agent Samantha Dallas said as she considered the case at hand. “Sure he’s done some bad things, but think of what Kanabin Drol went through. Imprisonment by the Dominion…medical experimentation. Awful stuff.”

Her partner, Agent Batyn, snorted through his large nostrils. “What about those four people whose spleens he cut out…without anesthetic?”

“They lived.”

“Still, I’d feel a lot more sorry for him if we weren’t strapped to these tables about to undergo a bit of unnecessary surgery.”

“True,” Dallas admitted. As Batyn had stated, he and Dallas were currently strapped securely to two tables in Drol’s basement awaiting the arrival of their “host.” In retrospect, getting caught was their own fault. They should have checked the front door before they opened it. They might have noticed the large wooden crate dangling overhead just inside the house. Of course, if Batyn’s big fish feet hadn’t have caught that tripline…

But it was too late to worry about that now. Particularly since they could hear footfalls on the basement stairs.

A few moments later, Kanabin Drol bounded into the room, laser scalpel in one hand and two slices of bread in the other. “Spleen spleen, who’s got the spleen?” he sang, a manic grin on the Betazoid’s face. He approached Dallas and slowly pulled up her top revealing the agent’s taut stomach. “Ooooh. This should be nice and lean. And the fear and disgust I read in you adds just the right oomph!”

“Once again, I’m glad I’m not human,” Batyn muttered.

“But wait! There’s fish spleen,” Drol exclaimed, leaping to Batyn’s table. “I haven’t had really fresh fish in ages.”

“You wouldn’t like Antidean. We’re tough,” Batyn said.

“But it would be exotic.”

“You like exotic?” Dallas asked, getting an idea. “We’ve got a friend who’s a Tellarite. I can get him here, and you can eat his spleen instead of ours.”

Drol thought about this for a moment. “Okay. Bring me the Tellarite spleen, and I’ll let you live. I’m eating the fish, though.”

“Fine by me. I’ll even cook it for you,” Dallas replied.

“I hate you,” Batyn muttered.

Drol, however, was more than a little impressed. “Wow! Will you marry me? I promise you love and all the spleen you can eat.”

“Tempting, but I think I need to get to know you a little better first,” Dallas said. “You can call our friend on my communicator.”

Drol walked over to the small table at the side of the room holding Dallas and Batyn’s phasers, tricorders, and wrist communicators. “I’ll do the calling,” he said. “What’s his name?”

“Pee Dee.”

“Pee Dee?”

“Old family name.”

“Ahh.” Drol activated the communicator. “Drol calling Pee Dee. Come in Pee Dee.” The communicator chirped in response. “What does that mean?”

“Must be a comm problem,” Dallas said. “How about we…Computer, beam up everyone in this room now!”

Drol cocked his head. “Huh? Oh, dammit, you tricked me,” he said as he, Dallas, and Batyn dematerialized.

The group rematerialized on the Runabout Pee Dee moments later. The runabout computer, needing more space for the group than the vessel’s tiny transporter pad provided, sent them into the ship’s living area behind the cockpit.

Drol had two advantages: he was on his feet and armed with a laser scalpel. Agent Dallas, no longer bound to a table, took advantage of the Betazoid’s momentary disorientation after transport, though, leaping to her feet and catching him across the head with a quick kick. Drol staggered back, his black eyes wide with fury.

“When I finish with you, the spleen will be the only thing left!” he cried.

“Save the show for the reporters,” Batyn said, backhanding Drol with his large scaly hand before he could take two steps toward Dallas. Drol flipped backward from the impact, landing across the room’s large table with a thud. Dallas charged forward, slamming her elbow into the mad Betazoid’s head and rendering him completely unconscious.

“I was about to finish him off,” Batyn said.

“That’s okay. I had it covered.”

“Obviously,” Batyn grumbled.

“You can knock out the next baddie.”

“Gee thanks.”

“How about you stop moaning and put some binders on him?” Dallas said, scooping up Drol’s dropped laser scalpel. “I’ll contact the Betazed authorities.”

Dallas headed into the Pee Dee’s cockpit, ignoring whatever it was Batyn was muttering under his breath as she departed. She slid into the pilot’s seat and was about to activate the comm unit when she noticed the Waiting Message indicator blinking.

After tapping the indicator, she leaned back in her chair to listen to the message. The sound of the voice that came over the speakers caused her to immediately jolt forward again.

“Dallas? Dallas? Dammit, Dallas, answer your comm. It’s Wally. I’m…dammit, I need your help. Get here, quick as you can. Please.”

And Dallas heard in Wally’s voice the one thing she didn’t think he was capable of:

Fear.


TWENTY-EIGHT HOURS LATER…


Batyn stumbled into the Pee Dee’s cockpit and collapsed into the co-pilot’s seat just as Agent Dallas brought the craft out of warp at the outskirts of the Sol System.

“Nap time over?” Dallas asked. In fact, Batyn had been asleep in his tank for the last day.

“Getting captured drains me,” Batyn muttered, raising the spill-proof mug he’d brought with him to his non-existent lips. The overwhelming smell of warm salt assaulted Dallas’ nostrils as Batyn enjoyed his post-nap pick-me-up of coffee, heavy on the brine. “So where are we?” He looked out the viewport. “Wasn’t that Saturn?”

“Yep. Wally is on Mars.”

“Mars? How much trouble could he get in there?”

“I have no idea,” Dallas replied. “Wally just said he needed help, so I came. I owe him.”

“He’s certainly given you enough information in return. Who is this guy anyway? You’ve never even told me his last name.”

“A friend.”

“Oh, that clears things right up.”


The runabout made its final approach to Mars while Batyn tried to make some logical deductions based upon what he knew about Wally. The guy sounded old…and he was certainly cranky; although, dealing with Dallas was enough to aggravate anyone. If Dallas was talking to him, he probably wasn’t a civilian, and he also seemed to have all kinds of information at his fingertips. If it weren’t for the Mars thing, Batyn would have guessed the guy worked at Memory Alpha.

He could be a retired Starfleet Officer. Mars wasn’t necessarily the most scenic place in the galaxy, but there was nothing to say a retirement community hadn’t been established there. Wally might be the community librarian or something. Maybe he kept himself busy volunteering at Utopia Planetia’s library. Now that was possible. Utopia Planetia was Starfleet’s primary installation on Mars, after all.

But Dallas kept flying right on past the Utopia Planetia station and drydocks, continuing on a course around the planet to a much small array of docks gathered around one central facility.

They couldn’t be going there, could they? Dallas kept heading toward it, going so far as transmitting a request for landing clearance. They were going there.

“The Fleet Museum?” Batyn asked confused. Actually, the more he thought about it, the more that made sense. The last time he was at the Fleet Museum, he saw several ancient Starfleet Officers acting as security guards for the place. But again Batyn had to wonder what sort of help Wally would need in this environment.

The runabout sailed past docks containing vessels from Starfleet’s history, including an old Saladin-class destroyer, a Miranda-class ship, and the jewel of the museum, the Constitution- class USS Republic, which was still used to take groups on tours around the solar system. Beyond these on the far side of the station containing the fleet museum was the visitor’s docking facility where Dallas landed the runabout, squeezing it between a small Tellarite family cruiser and a shuttle from the Sea of Tranquility Acres Retirement Community located on Earth’s moon, neither of which were parked exactly straight.

“Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to fly,” Dallas groused as she shut down the runabout. “That shuttle is almost three inches in MY space!”

“You chose to park here,” Batyn said.

“Why should I be denied a perfectly good space because they don’t know how to stay in their own lines? I will not give in!”

“You’re an inspiration to us all,” Batyn muttered, heading toward the runabout’s hatch, which just barely had enough clearance to open without slamming into the side of the Tellarite craft.

“I should phaser their hatch shut,” Dallas said. “That would teach them.”

“How about phasering Wally for making us meet him here?” Batyn said. “Surely there are better places.”

Dallas didn’t respond. She was too busy charging toward the museum entrance. Batyn closed up the runabout and followed after her at a leisurely stroll. Somehow he just wasn’t in that big of a hurry to see the History of Duranium exhibit.


“How’s your leg?” Batyn asked as Dallas limped along beside him through the Earth and Vulcan: Centuries of Friendship display, which consisted mostly of ancient pictures of smiling humans standing with stone-faced Vulcans. Riveting stuff.

“Damn hooves,” Dallas snapped.

“Maybe if you hadn’t slammed their father up against the wall and started screaming into his face about his parking abilities, those lovely Tellarite children wouldn’t have been forced to kick the carp out of you.”

“Lovely, my ass.”

“I liked them fine,” Batyn said with a smirk as they passed one of the museum’s elderly security guards, all of whom were dressed in uniforms from Starfleet’s past. The guard nodded at the pair courteously with a warm smile on his face.

“Let’s just go,” Dallas snapped, leading Batyn into the next room which chronicled in laborious detail the development of Starfleet’s ship computer systems. She continued ahead, then turned into a small side hallway dedicated to the contributions of Dr. Richard Daystrom, founder of the Daystrom Institute and inventor of the duotronic architecture used in Starfleet’s computers throughout the latter half of the 23rd century and well into the 24th. Dallas let Batyn pass her while she checked the main corridor for oncoming people.

“I take it this is where we’re meeting him,” Batyn said, leaning casually against the large computer on display at the rear of the exhibit as Dallas returned from her scouting.

“Actually, you’re sitting on him,” Dallas said.

“Which makes me damn glad I don’t have a sense of smell,” the computer announced, lights flickering across its console.

“Auggh!” Batyn exclaimed, leaping forward in alarm and spinning in mid-air to face the source of the voice.

“It’s about time you got here,” the computer said.

“Wa…Wally?” Batyn gaped.

“In the circuits,” Wally replied. “You didn’t tell him about me, did you, Dallas?”

“Nope,” Dallas said, barely containing a fit of laughter.

“It’s a wonder you’re unmarried and friendless,” Wally said sarcastically. “So you’re the Antidean who got stuck with her, huh?”

“Yes. It’s just thrilling,” Batyn said. “We actually spoke a couple of months ago during the whole vampire cat thing.”

“I remember, not that that should be a surprise to you. I remember damn near everything…actually everything.”

“Wally’s the last existing M-5 computer system,” Dallas explained, finally getting her laughter under control.

“M-5?” Batyn said. “That sounds familiar.”

Wally snorted. “It should. One of my line wiped out a few hundred Starfleet officers a century or so ago.”

“The M-5’s were supposed to possess the ability to think,” Dallas said.

“I CAN think,” Wally snapped.

“Yeah yeah. Anyway, Starfleet put one on the old Starship Enterprise to see if it could command the vessel as effectively as a human captain. Part of the test was a war game with a couple of other starships. The M-5 didn’t quite catch the “game” part and inflicted serious damage on the other ships, killing several people in the process. Captain James Kirk finally managed to convince it to shut itself down.”

“That man could drive any computer to suicide,” Wally groused. “Menace.”

“So what went wrong with the computer?” Batyn asked, figuring out that the M-5 reference wasn’t nearly as familiar as he’d thought. He was probably thinking of M-4, which was the apartment number of a girl he’d dated in college.

“Daystrom’s method to give the M-5’s thinking and reasoning abilities involved imprinting human personality engrams into the computer’s matrix,” Dallas said.

“And Daystrom was a nut,” Wally said. “The M-5 on the Enterprise had his engrams and decided to follow Daddy straight to coo-coosville. Then Starfleet shut down the project, and the one remaining M-5, namely me, was crated off to here, complete with the engrams of the only other person Daystrom trusted, his dear old dad.”

“Who was evidently an unpleasant, crotchety bastard,” Dallas said.

“Why the devil did I ever call you for help?” Wally muttered.

“Because you’re also unmarried and friendless,” Dallas replied, giving his console a pat. “Now why did you drag us back here away from a very nice time on Betazed?”

“Nice, if you enjoy being vivisected,” Batyn mumbled.

“Let that be a lesson to you, Batyn. Never let Dallas do the talking. People will always end up trying to kill you,” Wally said.

“Do you want help or not?” Dallas said impatiently.

“Fine fine. It’s the guards.”

“What guards?”

“The security guards around here.”

“You mean the geriatric brigade?” Batyn said.

“They’re up to something.”

“Like what? Canasta? Shuffleboard? Oh wait. Don’t tell me. It’s not…Bingo, is it?” Dallas said.

“I’m serious, Sam. They’re lurking around the museum at night, and I think they know I’m onto them. They make a point to stare at me whenever they come through here…which they didn’t used to do at all.”

“And when did this staring start?” Dallas asked.

“A few months ago. A little before you called me up about that stupid vampire thing.”

“Hey! That was real!” Dallas said.

“Sure sure.”

“Actually, it was,” Batyn said. “As much as I hate to admit it.”

“You had your head checked lately, boy? I think you’ve got some algae growing in there,” Wally said.

“What do you expect us to do?” Dallas said.

“Investigate,” Wally snapped. “Isn’t that your job?”

“All right. We’ll stick around after closing and watch the guards,” Dallas said. “But if they’re just sneaking around for an all- night checkers tournament, I am going to be VERY annoyed.”


As darkness shrouded the various exhibits of the Starfleet Museum, two figures peered cautiously out of a replica of an ancient Vanidarin clay hut, then crawled out of the structure, ever- alert for approaching footfalls.

“You think we were in there long enough?” Agent Batyn groused, stretching his back painfully. “Why were in there at all? I thought the whole point of hiding in the xeno-archaeology exhibit was that nobody ever came here. Well, except that bald guy.”

“Bald guy? That was Jean-Luc Picard!” Dallas retorted.

“I don’t care if it was James T. Kirk with a scalp condition. He still hung around here way too long.”

“Which is why we were in the hut. I didn’t want to be spotted.”

“Yeah, well, your friend Wally better be as good with the museum’s security system as he claimed or all that hiding is going to have been for nothing.”

“He’ll take care of it,” Dallas replied, stealthily moving to the exhibit’s exit into one of the main museum corridors. “And if he’s right, we should be seeing some of the security guards anytime now.”

Anytime now turned out to be three hours later, by which point Dallas and Batyn had both fallen asleep. Dallas slumped against a stuffed bison-looking-thing, while Batyn wrapped himself around the legs of a male Vanidarin manakin.

Dallas was jolted away by the faint sound of a transporter in the corridor beyond, followed by some low humming. Okay. Actually she was jolted awake by the mouthful of stuffed bison- thing fur she’d sucked into her mouth during a particularly loud snore, but that happened right before the transporter.

She quickly nudged Batyn, waking the Antidean as the footsteps in the corridor grew closer. The agents crouched by the exhibit entrance as an elderly human male walked by them, humming to himself blissfully unaware that he was being watched.

“I suppose you want to follow him,” Batyn whispered.

“Unless you’re too busy getting to know your manakin friend over there.”

Batyn snorted, but followed Dallas without protest out into the corridor, where they were easily able to track their aged quarry to his destination: the museum’s repli-teria. Several other men and women, all of whom had to be past the century mark, had already gathered there and were currently pulling tables out of the way to make a clear area in the center of the room.

“Maybe they don’t like the food at the rest home,” Batyn whispered as he and Dallas peered in from the corridor.

“Then why move the tables?” Dallas asked. “Maybe I was right about the shuffleboard. Of course, it could be ballroom dancing.”

“Oh there’s something I don’t ever need to see.”

They were interrupted by a large panel opening in the far wall of the repli-teria revealing a five-foot high cylindrical jani-bot of the type generally used to handle the cleaning duties at large facilities such as the museum.

“Wait,” Batyn said. “Maybe we can watch them all slip and slide around after this thing mops.”

“That’s just evil,” Dallas snapped.

“I don’t see you leaving.”

“Just because it’s evil doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be funny,” she said.

Meanwhile, the gathered senior security guards had formed a circle in the clearing at the center of the repli-teria and had joined hands, all except for two guards at the far side of the circle. Through the gap left between these guards, the jani-bot glided, red and blue lights on its exterior blinking against its shiny bronze casing.

“You are the light,” the guards chanted in creaky voices. “You are the truth. We seek your wisdom, yearn for your guidance, and gives ourselves to your glory.”

“Blessings to you all,” the jani-bot replied in a harsh computer monotone as it hovered at the center of the group. “The time is almost at hand.”

“Glory to Anku! Glory to Anku!”

Batyn blinked several times, his eyes bulging more than usual as Dallas’ gaping mouth opened and closed in a fairly decent impression of a fish.

“I don’t know whether to laugh or run,” Batyn said finally.

“I guess we should ask them what they’re doing,” Dallas said. “I mean, how dangerous can they be?”

“They’re worshiping a cleaning robot,” Batyn replied. “I don’t think we’re looking at an incredibly stable bunch here.”

“I can’t say I’m all that intimidated,” Dallas said, standing up fully and striding into the repli-teria, much to the surprise of the gathered security guards. “Good evening, folks,” she announced loudly, flashing her ID. “Starfleet Intelligence. Would you mind explaining to my partner and I why you’re trespassing in the museum well after hours?”

“We are simply the Flock of Anku,” one of the security guards replied, his arms outstretched in supplication to the jani-bot at the center of the circle.

“That’s nice,” Dallas said, pushing her way through a couple of the guards, forcing them to unlink their hands as Batyn followed warily behind her, his hand hovering near his phaser holster. “So this is Anku?”

“I am Anku,” the jani-bot replied, lights blinking rapidly. “You have disturbed our appointed time of gathering, but we welcome you to our fold.”

“That’s very neighborly of you, but Batyn and I are strictly here for information,” she said, facing down the jani-bot. “Question One: What the hell is a jani-bot doing lording over a bunch of people?”

“This is Anku!” the crowd exclaimed.

“Right. Sorry about that,” Dallas said sarcastically.

“So he’s Anku,” Batyn said. “What does that mean? Why are you following him?”

“For the Glory of Anku,” the guards stated.

“That clears that up.”

“Allow me to explain the Glory of Anku,” the jani-bot’s computer-generated voice said.

“Enlighten us,” Dallas replied defiantly while she and Batyn stood toe-to-casing with “Anku.”

The lights on the jani-bot began to flash randomly as a low, rhythmic hum filled the air. Thirty-seconds later, it was all over.

“What was that supposed to be?” Batyn snapped. “Dallas, I don’t think this thing is going to cooperate. Maybe we should break out the phasers and…” He glanced over at Dallas, who was staring blankly at the jani-bot. “Dallas?”

“Glory to Anku,” she said sounding frighteningly mellow. “You are the light. You are the truth. We seek your wisdom, yearn for your guidance, and gives ourselves to your glory.”

“Oh flounder,” Batyn muttered.

“Do you not understand the Glory of Anku?” the jani-bot asked, surprise creeping into its robotic monotone.”

“Me?” Batyn said quickly. He opened his eyes wider and stood at attention. “Glory to Anku. You are the light, the truth, and all that carp.”

“He does not understand the Glory of Anku,” Dallas said, her demeanor turning menacing. “Those who cannot feel the Glory must not stand with our flock.”

Batyn quickly sized up the situation. Twenty or so senior citizens, one nutty robot, and one possessed Samantha Dallas. That means the biggest threat is…

He suddenly lashed out with a massive, scaly hand, grabbing Dallas’ head and slamming it against Anku’s casing. The female agent slumped to the floor as Batyn made a break for the exit, bowling over a trio of the aged security guards who tried to block his path. Less than five seconds later, Batyn was sprinting down the corridor as fast as his Antidean legs could carry him.


Batyn’s first instinct was to call the Pee Dee for immediate beam out, but he soon remembered it wasn’t there anymore. Not wanting to make anyone suspicious by leaving a perfectly good runabout parked at the museum overnight, he and Dallas had ordered it to return to their offices in Siberia, which was well out of range of his wrist communicator. If he was going to get out of there, he needed to get access to the museum’s main comm array, which meant getting back to Wally.

“Where the hell is Dallas?” Wally demanded as Batyn charged into his exhibit.

“They zapped her brain!” Batyn gasped.

“You do realize that sets me up for about 312 smart retorts.”

“I can think of a few myself. ‘There was one there to zap’?”

“They recognized their own kind?”

“And they were able to find it?”

“All right. We had our fun. Now what happened?” Wally said.

“The guards are all under the control of the repli-teria cleaning robot. It’s calling itself Anku.”

“Anku? What’s an Anku?”

“I don’t know,” Batyn snapped. “You’re the computer. Look it up! And get me access to the museum comm system while you’re at it. I’m calling my ride.”

“You’re not leaving?”

“Oh yes I am. I’ve seen more than enough.”

“What about me?”

“I don’t think they care about you. Anku just said something about the time being close or something.”

“Time for what?” Wally asked.

“Again, YOU’RE the computer. You tell me.”

“I didn’t think this was possible, but I’m starting to like you even less than Dallas.”

“Wally!”

“Fine! I don’t have any record of an Anku, and I didn’t find anything on the Federnet either.”

“Nothing? Oh well. What about that commline?”


“Attention, my beloved acolytes,” Anku said, rising as high into the air as his anti-grav generator would allow (four feet). “The coming of the fish-man is a sign! A sign that the time has come at last!”

“Glory to Anku!” the mesmerized group surrounding the jani-bot exclaimed.

“We must depart at once! To my chariot!”

“Annnnnnn-KU! Annnnnnnnnnnn-KU!” the humans chanted, Dallas included, as they followed the bronze robot from the repli-teria.


“Annnnnnn-KU!”

“Oh great. They’re coming this way,” Batyn said, ducking behind Wally’s housing.

“Annnnnnn-KU!”

Wally’s status indicator lights began to blink furiously. “If anybody shoots me, I am so going to…”

“Be reduced to slag metal?” Batyn said.

“Shut up, fin-man.”

“Annnnnnn-KU!” The chanters were right on them. From his position crouched behind Wally, Batyn could see the elderly group march by, looking surprisingly spry as they attempted to keep up with Anku and Dallas, who were at the head of the horde.

“They’re leaving,” Wally said.

“Well, that’s a relief,” Batyn replied. “Now I just need to

get out of here.”

“Yep. They’re moving on by. I’m detecting a power build- up on the USS Republic. Looks like their leaving on it. Yep. Heading out in the old Constitution Class. I guess that means they’re no longer going to bother me. And neither is Dallas.”

“Nope. They’re all gone,” Batyn agreed. “We can go on with our lives.”

“Yep.”

“Absolutely.”

“The Republic has cleared its docking slip. I feel much better.”

“Me too. I can head on home,” Batyn said.

“Uh huh.”

“Sure thing.”

“Dallas is on her own. I don’t care,” Wally said.

“Me either,” Batyn replied firmly.

The pair stood in silence for several seconds…not that Wally was technically standing, seeing as how he was lacking legs and all.

“Dammit!” Batyn shouted suddenly. “I care!”

“Me too, I guess,” Wally admitted.

“Can you get me in touch with my runabout?”

“They’re already heading away from Mars. I don’t think we have the time.”

“Then what do we do?”

“There’s one other functioning ship here. We’ll take it.”

“The two of us? Run an entire starship?”

“That’s what I was designed for, remember?” Wally said.

“And didn’t you say it didn’t go so well the last time?” Batyn asked as he felt a transporter beam locking onto him.

“Ancient history,” Wally replied. “And that wasn’t even me. Energizing,” Wally said as he tied into the museum’s transporter system and beam himself and Batyn away.

They materialized moments later on the cramped and archaic bridge of a Saladin Class destroyer from the mid 23rd century, complete with that era’s odd lighting and distracting color schemes.

“Okay, open that panel below the engineering console,” Wally ordered.

“What engineering console?” Batyn asked, looking around the absolutely unfamiliar surroundings.

“The one by the turbolift with the purple squiggly screen.”

“Ahh.”

“Then open the panel on my backside, pull the cable out, and plug it into the auxiliary interface jack.”

“You can’t just tie in remotely?”

“Hello? Twenty-third century tech here, Batyn. Give me a break.”

“Okay. Okay,” Batyn said, doing as he was told.

Wally’s systems began to hum a bit more loudly as he was connected to the ship’s inner workings. “Oh yeah. That’s the stuff.”

“You’re enjoying this just a little too much,” Batyn said, taking a seat in the blocky command chair.

“It’s just nice to stretch my abilities a bit after so much time cooped up in that damn museum. All right. Moorings have been cleared…and here we go.”

For the first time in over a century, the Saladin Class USS Pseudolus’ thrusters flared to life, pushing the small vessel (it was little more than a old-style saucer with one nacelle mounted to its upper aft section) out of its docking slip.

“Sensors have detected the Republic. Moving to three-quarters impulse to catch up,” Wally reported, leaving Batyn as little more than a passenger.

“Where are they going?”

“It looks like Earth…no wait. They aren’t slowing down.”

“Catch up!”

“I’m working on it!” Wally snapped back.

On the ship’s viewscreen, Batyn watched the rear-end of the Constitution Class Republic as it sailed past Earth on the outskirts of the moon.

“Course extrapolation suggests that they’re heading toward Venus,” Wally said.

“Wow. That almost sounded professional.”

“Clam up, bait breath.”

“That’s more like it,” Batyn remarked. “But what’s on Venus?”

“Gas mining,” Wally replied. “And that’s about it. The planet is uninhabitable. The pressure from the atmosphere is just too great for anything other than heavily reinforced probes, and there just isn’t enough down there of interest to make that worth the trouble.” As promised, he’d closed the gap between the two ships in a hurry. The Republic was just pulling into a standard orbit above Venus when the Pseudolus looped in behind it.

“Anku seems to disagree,” Batyn said, rising from his seat. “Can you beam the people on the Republic over here?”

“Do you feel like being outnumbered twenty to one? You have to get control of the Republic back.”

“You’re just trying to make me beam over there and get killed,” Batyn said.

“Yep,” Wally replied as Batyn felt himself dematerializing.


Batyn’s wrist communicator was chirping as soon as he finished rematerializing inside a small, cylindrical chamber he quickly realized was a 23rd century turbolift, a lift that happened to be in motion. “I am ripping out every single circuit board you have when I get back,” he shouted, activating the comm.

“You really need to relax,” Wally’s voice replied. “It’s not like I put you in the center of the horde.”

“Where are they?”

“Moving in small groups from the bridge to one of the Republic’s transporter rooms via turbolift.”

“Turbolift?” Batyn said, looking around.

“Yeah. Yours should be stopping on the bridge any second now. I’m reading Dallas’ wrist communicator signal and the jani-bot there.”

“Wonderful,” Batyn muttered, pulling out his phaser. “I don’t suppose you have any idea how to de-zap Dallas’ brain?”

“If it was just a light show, that would tend to indicate a fairly low-level subliminal suggestion routine. You should be able to counteract it by boosting the neurotransmitter output in her brain.”

“How am I supposed to do that with a phaser and a tricorder?”

“Check your right pocket,” Wally said. Batyn put a hand in and came back with a thin, silver cylindrical device with a colored vial mounted to the top.

“A hypospray?” Batyn asked.

“The Pseudolus’ sickbay is still stocked in case of emergency. Gotta love those Starfleet Regs.”

“Will it still work? This thing has to be…”

“Old. Yeah yeah. Rub it in. Look, it works. They made hyposprays to last in those days.”

Batyn felt the turbolift beginning to slow. “Not that it’s going to matter once they all kill me,” he muttered.

The turbolift doors opened out onto a bridge that was only slightly larger than the one on the Pseudolus. The remaining seniors and Dallas were all gathered around Anku, who was currently hovering just above the command chair.

“Though this world may appear desolate and hostile, the Great Kalix will protect us, my acolytes,” Anku orated. “Once we have transported below, the world will know that Anku has returned. A paradise will spring up around us, providing for all of our needs until the end of time.”

“Glory to Anku!” the group cried as Batyn did a quick head count. Fifteen seniors, one Dallas, and one crazed jani-bot. Bad bad odds.

“Go! Join your fellows at the transporter. Soon, we shall all beam down as one.”

“And then die REALLY quickly,” Batyn said, stepping out onto the bridge.

“The fishman has returned,” the group cried. “Hail the fishman, for he has brought for the Time of Anku!”

Wow. This was going better than Batyn expected. “Yes! I am the fishman, ku-ku-kachoo,” he said, striding forward, arms raised with the hypospray palmed in his right hand and the phaser in his left. I have returned.”

“Great,” Anku said unconvincingly. “We’re kind of busy right now. Could you come back later?”

“What? And miss the Time of Anku? I wouldn’t dream of it,” Batyn said, sliding up next to Dallas. “Besides, I harmed this acolyte before, and I came to make it right.”

“No apologies are necessary, oh fishman,” Dallas said dreamily.

“I insist,” he replied, suddenly jabbing the hypospray into her neck. Dallas collapsed to the deck with a thud.

“The fishman is evil!” Anku stated, lights flashing angrily. “Kill the fishman. Filet the fishman! Broil him up in a nice garlic butter sauce and eat him!”

“Glory to Anku!” the horde of seniors cried, charging forward. Batyn tossed the hypospray aside and leapt backwards, trying to keep himself from getting surrounded as he brought his phaser to bear.

“Stop where you are!” he ordered. The guards didn’t seem to be listening.

“Oookay then.” Batyn fired, nailing the lead senior, a kind-faced grandma type, with a light stun beam and sending her collapsing to the deck. Maybe that would convince the others to back off.

No such luck.

They kept coming. Meanwhile, he could see Anku floating quickly into the turbolift, which then closed, effectively cutting off Batyn’s escape. He kept firing, shaking off the grabbing hands of his elderly attackers as much as he could.

Suddenly, a voice boomed through the air. “Back off, bingo brigade!” Dallas was on her feet again, phaser drawn and looking VERY upset. The seniors soon found themselves trapped in the middle of a two-front war as Dallas and Batyn laid down a devastating barrage of stun blasts, soon rendering the entire horde unconscious.

“I think I heard a few bones snap,” Batyn said as he and Dallas surveyed the unconscious heap of people before them.

“Ask me how little I care,” Dallas retorted, charging toward the turbolift. “Why aren’t these doors opening?”

“Twenty-third century ship. They must take a while,” Batyn replied. A few seconds later, the turbolift doors finally opened, allowing Dallas and Batyn to race inside. They quickly ordered it to head to the transporter room.

“Batyn to Wally,” Batyn said, activating his wrist communicator. “I’ve got her, but Anku is planning on beaming down to Venus with what’s left of his followers.”

“What’s left?” Wally asked.

“I only stunned them!” Dallas snapped as the turbolift slowed and the doors opened. “Which is a lot less than what I’m going to do to that damn robot.”

She and Batyn stormed out of the turbolift into the corridor, then abruptly came to a stop. “Where the hell is the transporter room?” she demanded.

“Turn left. Eighth door on the right,” Wally replied.

“Thanks,” Dallas said curtly, running ahead of Batyn. The pair barged into the transporter room, Dallas almost barreling into the doors, which didn’t open quite as fast as she was used to. The five elderly security guards, one of whom was manning the transporter while the others waited on the transporter pad, whirled toward the agents as fast as they could while Anku rotated slowly.

“Get away from there!” Dallas threatened, aiming her phaser at the transporter operator.

“You must not stand in the way of the Glory of Anku,” the aged man at the transporter replied.

“Anku is a cleaning robot,” Dallas snapped back.

“And what does a cleaning robot need with a bunch of followers?” Batyn asked.

“I am Anku,” the jani-bot replied. “Anku must have followers to worship the Glory of Anku.”

“Glory to Anku!” the guards exclaimed.

“Was I that bad?” Dallas asked.

“Oh yeah,” Batyn replied.

She turned on the robot angrily. “You’re dead.”

“All I ask is that you allow us to proceed in piece,” Anku replied.

“Proceed as in beaming down to Venus?” Batyn asked. “I don’t think so.”

“We will be protected,” Anku said.

“Tell you what,” Dallas said. “You beam down, then when you send word that you’re okay, we’ll send down the others. Hell, we’ll even come, too. How many people can say they’ve walked on Venus?”

“If you’re protected, what will it matter?” Batyn added.

“You doubt Anku,” the jani-bot said, floating up over the transporter pad. “I will do as you say, and you will all witness my Glory. Step down, acolytes.” The guards quickly did as they were ordered. “Transport me!” Anku bellowed. The guard at the transporter console slid the three transporter controls upwards, and the jani-bot dematerialized…

…only to rematerialize on Venus a moment later.

At which point, Venus’s atmosphere crushed Anku like a beer can under a biker’s foot.


Back on the Republic, the effect of Anku’s destruction was immediate as the seniors lost the dazed expression on their faces and began looking around the Republic in alarm.

“This isn’t my room!”

“Where’s my tapioca!”

“Oh god! It’s a flashback!”

“Just relax everyone!” Dallas ordered loudly. “I know this is something of a shock, but my partner and I have everything under control.”

“I want my bed,” one of the seniors snapped, shuffling past Dallas into the corridor.

“Bed!” the other guards cried, following behind as quickly as their exhausted bodies would allow.

“I guess they’ll find quarters,” Dallas said once she and Batyn were alone.

“I don’t care,” Batyn said. “And I’m not tucking them in, either. It was enough that Wally and I came after you.”

“And I appreciate that,” Dallas said sincerely, patting her partner on the arm.

“Don’t get excited. We still don’t like you.”

“Uh huh.”

“Well, we don’t!”


“Investigation Log. Stardate 56869.4. We were able to return the USS Republic, the USS Pseudolus, Wally, and a very tired group of security guards to the Fleet Museum before anyone really noticed they were gone. Okay, surely somebody noticed that the Republic and the Pseudolus went for a late-night spin, but does anyone really care what a couple of ships over a century old are doing? Evidently not.

“As for Anku, we’ve learned that the A.I. module in that jani-bot was replaced shortly before Wally noticed the guards’ behavior. Apparently the manufacturer issued a recall due to a ‘serious defect,’ but the museum staff missed it. Serious defect, huh? Try outright lunacy. In any event, with Anku gone and the guards sleeping it off, it’s time for Batyn and I to head home.”


“Do you always babble on like that?” Wally asked as Dallas shut off the log recorder on her tricorder.

“It’s standard procedure,” she replied as she and Batyn stood back in Wally’s exhibit at the fleet museum. “You could come learn all about it. We could use you at our office.”

“In Siberia? I don’t think so,” Wally replied.

“Can’t say that I blame you,” Batyn said.

“All right, then. I guess we’re leaving now,” Dallas said as she and Batyn headed toward the main corridor.

“Good. I can finally have some peace!” Wally replied.

“If the coffee machine starts trying to kill you, give us a call.”

“Go to hell, Dallas.”

“Bye, Wally. I’ll give you a comm soon.”

Wally just grunted, but he knew he’d be waiting for it.


STARDATE 53882.2

IC’HASSSSSST V’KELSNET ANDORIAN RESTAURANT WAYSTATION


Ih’mad, owner and operator of Waystation’s very popular Andorian restaurant, stopped in his tracks as he walked into his establishment to prepare for the breakfast rush. The place was a wreck. A complete disaster area. Granted, it normally looked like that after a day of business, but it was supposed to get cleaned up overnight. Why else would he have spent all those credits on a brand new jani-bot?

“D’aarb!” Ih’mad shouted, drawing the head waiter out of the kitchen. “What is the meaning of this? Where is our jani-bot?”

“Over there,” D’aarb replied, pointing to a pile of scrap in the restaurant’s Mishtak pit. “It insisted that give myself to the Glory of Anku.”

“Who the k’vaaatz is Anku?”

“I have no idea. I disemboweled it with the ice tongs before it could explain.”

“That was the only proper thing you could do,” Ih’mad said understanding. “Oh well. We must clean this up before we wheel out the breakfast buffet. Get the flamethrowers.”