Once upon a time, in a city far, far away, Paramount took ownership of Star Trek and retains it to this day. Once upon another time, in a city not quite as far away, Alan Decker created Star Traks, which is really great, I say! Then sometime quite recently, in the city he now calls home, Brendan Chris created Silverado, now it's his and his alone!

Author: Brendan Chris
Copyright: 2004

Simon Jeffery stepped into Unbalanced Equations, a free man after his twenty days of solitary confinement.

A large banner with ‘Welcome Back Simon’ was hanging from one wall and Steven had set out a nice buffet. Trish Yanick jumped out of her seat and rushed to give him a hug.

“We’re so glad you’re back!” she said with her usual big grin, “I bet it really sucked, being locked up for so long, with nobody to talk to. I just can’t imagine having to go that long without being able to talk to anybody!”

“I can’t imagine you going that long without talking, either,” quipped Jall. Yanick threw him a mock-glare.

“Thank ye,” Jeffery said, “It’s really good to be back. Um, where’s Noel?”

“Right here,” Wowryk answered, appearing at Jeffery’s side.

Jeffery took one look at her and his brain promptly shut down. She was wearing a stunning evening gown. It covered nearly every inch of skin, but flowed over her body, giving gentle hints as to what lay beneath. Several other crewmen were staring openly at her. She was normally such a restrained woman that it was a surprise to see just how sexy she could look if she wanted to. For Jeffery, who hadn’t seen much other than Starfleet security uniforms for nearly three weeks, it was a double whammy.

“How are you feeling?” she asked, her voice void of emotion.

“I’m, uh, good,” he forced out, “Your arm?”

“Fully healed, of course. The medical staff on this ship is quite excellent.”

“Well, yeah, of course it is. I mean, you run the medical staff, and you’re excellent, so of course the medical staff must be great, cuz they work for you, and you’re great and are you still mad at me?” Simon cringed. The last bit had just kind of slipped out.

Wowryk glared at him.

“You got me drunk. I broke my arm. OF COURSE I’M STILL MAD AT YOU!” She turned on her heel and walked away, taking a little more of Jeffery’s heart with each step.

“Don’t worry,” Yanick whispered, “she still likes you. Give her a few days, she’ll soften up.”

Jeffery felt a bit better. He wandered over to the bar, eying the drinks Steven had set out. After his previous experience, he wasn’t really too eager to drink anything syntheholic so he grabbed a fruit punch instead. He noticed Stafford skulking around the far end of the room and walked over to say hi.

But Stafford was gone when he got there. Looking around, Jeffery saw that he had moved over by the windows. As he moved towards him, Jeffery saw Stafford glance in his direction, then start moving through the crowd towards the bar. Jeffery intercepted him.

“Hi Chris,” he said.

“Oh, Simon. Um, hi,” Stafford said nervously, “Great to have you back. I’m just going to go get a drink-“

“How come yer avoiding me?” Jeffery demanded.

“Avoiding you? That’s crazy. I’m not avoiding you. Hey, look, T’Parief’s trying to dance! This I gotta see.”

Jeffery grabbed Stafford by the shoulder.

“Look, ye did what ye had to do. Ah sure has hell don’t like it though! Ye stabbed me in the back!”

“Come on, Simon,” Stafford sighed, “I’ve been through all this with HR already. Yeah, HR. The big evil. And your girlfriend took a bite out of me, too. You want your turn? Go ahead, take your best shot! But remember that it was YOUR actions that got her hurt!”

Jeffery’s accusations died on his lips at this.

“Yer right, it was my fault. Ah guess Ah’m just gonna have to learn to deal with that!” Jeffery walked over to the bar, downed a shot of whiskey then left, leaving Stafford standing in the middle of the lounge.

Captain’s Log, Stardate 56301.23

“With our Chief Engineer back, life is definitely getting back to normal. Lieutenant Sage has returned to the night shift, although if I’m any judge I think Jeffery better watch his back. Sage was really getting used to being in charge down there.”

“We’ve left the Senousians behind as we continue to explore this sector of space. We haven’t received any response from Starfleet on our report concerning the Matrians as of yet. The Senousians have provided us with the general border of Matrian space, which is disturbingly close to Senous, as well as star charts of some of the surrounding systems. We’re going to give the Matrians a wide berth as we continue to chart this sector.

The senior staff was in the latest in their seemly endless series of meetings.

“I’m concerned over the readiness of our security force,” T’Parief was saying, “Without holodecks our training options are very limited. Reaction time is lagging, co-ordination is poor.”

“I think we’ve established that another encounter with the Matrians is inevitable,” Noonan interjected, “There is a very strong possibility that we might find ourselves under the influence of their spatial interphase devices.”

“If that’s the case,” said Stafford, “we need everybody, not just security, up to date on hand-to-hand combat, ground tactics and guerrilla warfare. All that fun stuff.”

“I agree,” rumbled T’Parief, “we must be ready. But it is difficult to practice any of those skills without a holodeck.”

“Jeffery?” Stafford asked, “What is the holodeck situation?”

“We’ve been installing components on and off since launch,” Jeffery said, “it hasn’t really been a priority. Lieutenant Sage was running some tests, but he was having problems aligning the emitter nodes. We might have the smaller personal holodecks running in a few days, but they can only hold five people, max. If ye want the whole crew involved, we can’t do it, no matter how many holodecks we have running. Even the bigger holodecks will only hold a few dozen people. The more complex the simulation, the fewer people ye can fit in it. “

“So that won’t work,” Stafford said, dejectedly.

“What about surface war games?” T’Parief asked.


“We have detected three uninhabited planets in this sector so far. I suggest we beam down, setup a war-game simulation on the planet and use that for training.”

Stafford thought for a moment then turned to Jall and Jeffery.

“Can we do that? Logistically?”

“Sure,” Jall said, “We can replicate materials for bunkers, or barriers. Get some crewmen digging some trenches. Whatever we need.”

“All of our weapons have low output settings for training,” Jeffery said, “We have replicator patterns for ‘tag suits’ too. They detect whether or not you’ve been hit and communicate with the computer to keep track of who’s alive and ‘dead’.”

“We used those at the Academy,” T’Parief added, “they work very well.”

“Fine,” Stafford decided, “We’ll set course for the closest uninhabited planet. T’Parief and Jall, you’re in charge.”

“What about me?” demanded Jeffery, “It was my idea too!”

“I have something else in mind for you,” Stafford said, “odds are good we’re going to be fighting the Matrians ship to ship, too. I want us at full readiness. That means the pulse phaser cannon is your new priority.”

Silverado had been fitted with a single pulse phaser cannon during the refit. Pulse cannons were first used on the U.S.S. Defiant and were quickly becoming very popular in Starfleet. They fired a series of high-powered phaser shots, machine gun style, overloading enemy shields and delivering massive amounts of damage. The problem was that they sucked up huge amounts of power. Silverado’s new warp core could generate the power needed; the problem was that the power conduits in the saucer couldn’t handle that kind of power transfer. Silverado’s pulse cannon was useless until somebody came up with a way around the power transfer problem.

Jeffery nodded, “Ah had a thought about that right before you tossed me in the brig. Ah want to install a series of EPS storage cells. The cells will charge up off the power grid, then run the cannon.”

“Um, excuse me for being blond,” Yanick piped in, “but HUH?”

“If we run the cannon off the cells,” Jeffery explained, “it’ll cut out when the cells are depleted. That stops the cannon from overloading the power conduits, like it did before.” Everybody remembered the last (and only) time the cannon had been used. Lieutenant Commander Sean Russell of Waystation had used it against K’Eleese, a crazy Klingon pirate. He’d also blown out main power to the entire saucer section.

“The downside,” T’Parief interjected, “is that once the cells are depleted, the cannon will be useless until they can recharge.”

“Which takes how long?” Noonan wanted to know.

“About five minutes to charge,” Jeffery answered, “Eight to ten shots from the cannon to be depleted. The charging time could be reduced with upgrades to the power grid, but that’s a very long-term project,”

“Ten shots isn’t very much,” grumbled Stafford, “but it’s better than nothing.”

“There’s one more problem,” Jeffery said, “if we take a direct hit to the storage cells, it’s going to blow a big hole in the hull.”

“Oh, great!” Stafford said sarcastically.

“Are there essential systems in that sector?” Noonan asked.

“Nay, just crew quarters-.”

Dr. Wowryk started to protest.

“-but we can relocate crew to adjacent sections. Repurpose those sections to storage.” Jeffery continued, ending Wowryk’s objection.

“Fine. It’s settled then.”

Enthusiasm among the crew for the war game grew steadily as the ship approached the planet labeled Kuwake III by the Senousians. Tag suits, full body suits covered with small sensors used to detect weapon hits, were replicated in bulk while Jall and T’Parief started planning the event.

As the crew started drawing computer ballots to determine which team they would be on a problem quickly arose, leading Yanick and Wowryk to corner Stafford in his ready room.

“Did you know about this?” Wowryk snapped, “This is sexist, male TRASH!”

“Um, know about what?” Stafford asked weakly, trying to face his way out of the situation.

“You know what!” wailed Yanick, “ I can’t believe you’d do this to us! It’s SO unfair!”

Stafford had a pretty good idea what this was about.

“Look,” he said, “for security measures-“

“You’re refusing to allow any females to participate in this exercise!” snapped Wowryk, “I know this kind of primitive, barbaric behavior is far better suited to the more primitive, barbaric sex, but we need to be able defend ourselves if we end up back in Dreamland!”

“It wasn’t my idea,” Stafford snapped, “But it’s one I fully agree with. Considering what happened last time, the women on this ship are the LAST people we want primed and ready to fight!”

During the Silverado’s previous encounter with the Matrian’s SIDs, every female on the ship had become a warrior under the influence of Queen Wowryk, eager to enslave every male they could find and killing any who resisted. Jall had actually brought that point up, stating that the women should probably be kept out of the fighting if at all possible.

“We’re not crazy man-haters!” Yanick objected, “We didn’t really want to enslave you all. It just kinda happened that way.”

“No, you were influenced by the devices,” Stafford shot back, “either way, it’s too big a risk. End of story.”

“I’m protesting to Starfleet,” Wowryk said crisply, “this is gender discrimination!”

“It’s a tactical decision, so go right ahead! Dismissed.”

As Silverado entered standard orbit of Kuwake III the computer randomly split the ship’s male compliment into two teams: the Reds and the Blues. Lt. Cmdr T’Parief, along with Lt. Jall and Lt. Cmdr. Jeffery, led the Reds. The Blues were led by Stafford, along with Cmdr. Noonan and Lieutenant Stern.

Splitting 400 some odd crewmen into two teams made for armies that were far too big for the war game, logistically speaking. To compensate, each army was split into divisions of thirty, which would rotate through the different game scenarios. Only the three commanders of each army would remain for the entire exercise.

Lt. Fifebee located three large valleys, formed by the convergence of two rivers. The valleys stretched away in three directions, with a large flood plain where they met. Engineering teams immediately beamed down and started setting up bunkers, obstacles and so forth. Thick forests filled the valleys, right up to the riverbeds. While the terrain closer to the rivers was fairly level, the deeper into the forests one went the rougher the terrain was and the higher up the valley walls one was forced to travel.

Captain’s Log, Stardate 563015.5

“We’re ready to start our training exercise! We’re starting off light; hand phasers and phaser rifles, all modified for training. Anytime somebody is hit, his tag suit will communicate the hit to our handy little base computer for analysis. If somebody is stunned, they must remain in that location until the suit notifies them that the stun effect has ended, otherwise they’re removed from the game. If somebody is ‘killed’, they’re beamed back to the ship.”

“We’ve put Silverado in geosynchronous orbit over the site and Fifebee has trained several visual scanners on the valleys and the surrounding area, allowing anybody on board to track the action. Our first match is going to be simple: destroy the other team!”

Yanick and Fifebee were on the bridge. Yanick had a bowl of popcorn ready while Fifebee routed the sensor feed to the main screen. At tactical was a pretty young security officer, Ensign Bith.

The turbolift doors hissed open and Dr. Wowryk stepped onto the bridge. She settled into Stafford’s command chair and made herself comfortable.

“This ought to be entertaining,” she said.

“I can’t believe they won’t let us play,” pouted Yanick.

“It does make sense,” said Fifebee, reasonably, “after what happened the last time.”

“I don’t care! I wanna play!”

“It wouldn’t be difficult to duplicate their efforts, if you really want to participate.”


Wowryk smiled at Fifebee.

“Have our own game?” she asked.

“I have something different in mind.”

Stafford, Noonan and Stern huddled around a map at Blue Base, a six-sided structure with two side entrances and ladders leading up to platforms running along the walls. The platforms gave sharpshooters a clear view of the path leading up to Blue Base. There was also a central, elevated platform that served as the command center, affording Stafford and company a clear view of the surrounding area.

Blue Base was situated in the North-West Valley, roughly a mile from Red Base, which was in the South Valley. The North-East Valley was unoccupied, save for supplies better kept out of the way.

“Ok,” Stafford said, “Stern, I want you , Pomel and Susenk to stay back to defend the base. Noonan, you take half the squad and start moving through the east side of the valley. I’ll take the rest and move down the west side. We’ll rendezvous at-“

“Um, what are we trying to do?” Stern interrupted.

“Kill them all and take their base,” Stafford said, impatiently.

“Right, but why? I mean, the only reason we built these bases was for this exercise. If anybody actually DID build two bases in a valley, and one side DID manage to defeat the other, so what? It’s a big empty valley filled with nothing but trees!”

“And some cute little bunny-like alien creatures,” Noonan pointed out. He had his protective eyewear and skin cream on and looked like an Albino in the bright sunlight.

“Right. And Bugs Bunny’s cute alien cousins.”

“Look,” Stafford snapped, “just keep your eyes open and shoot anybody wearing a red suit!”


“Like them?” Stern asked.

The entire Red squad, led by Simon Jeffery, had just burst out of the trees and was rushing the Blue base.

“Fire! Fire!” Stafford ordered frantically. The two officers up on the platforms opened fire on the advancing squad, dropping several of them before they rushed the entrances to the base.

“FIRST BLOOD!” boomed the loud automated announcer as a Blue phaser blast took out one of the Red invaders.

T’Parief, on the other hand, elected to charge right THROUGH the base, clawing through the thin wall in an impressive display of strength. Stern gave a single, high-pitched shriek before T’Parief swatted him across the chest, claws retracted. The tag suit recognized the nature of the contact, beaming Stern back to the ship.

“You’re dead,” T’Parief said with a smirk. He promptly caught his foot in the remains of the wall, falling flat on his face. A quick phaser shot from one of the Blue squad ‘killed’ him.

In Unbalanced Equations, Steven had setup his holoprojector so those on board could watch the action. He’d also tapped into the ship’s intercom to give commentary.

“And Stafford ducks a shot from Jeffery,” he announced, “Close shave! And the Captain retaliates with a shot of his own! Oh, a miss. Wait, what’s this? It’s T’Parief! He’s clawing right THROUGH the wall! Wow folks, talk about aggression! And Stern is out for the count!”

The room burst out laughing as the massive reptilian officer tripped and crashed to the ground.

Wowryk was giggling in the command chair.

“Talk about co-ordination!” she gasped, “This is the guy in charge of security?”

“He really is much better with a phaser!” Yanick grumbled.

“And Noonan takes out Jeffery with a shot from behind! That was cold! And wow, look at him move!” Noonan moved so quickly the camera could barely track him as he took out two more Reds.

“The Red team’s blatant attack certainly caught the Blues off-guard,” announced Mary, Steven’s head waitress, “But Blue holds the home advantage, as the battle is taking place in their base. Steve?”

“Well Mary, I think we can all see that the Reds are suffering heavy casualties. They’ve lost two of their three commanders, leaving Lt. Jall in charge. I think we’d all agree that Jall is the LAST person who should be running any army!”

“RETREAT!” hollered Jall as he tried desperately to escape into the woods. The four surviving Reds followed him, dashing between the trees towards the river.

Stafford and Noonan looked around. Their base was a shambles. Aside from the huge hole in one wall, three of the platforms had been knocked down. The intact walls showed dents and scratches and Stafford’s map had been stomped into the ground. Six Blue troops remained.

“Let’s get them!” Stafford yelled. He led his men after the retreating Reds.

Commander Noonan was having a great time! The sun was starting to get to him, but once he was in the deep forest it was less of a problem. The Blues had caught up with the Reds, who had promptly scattered, leading to a search and destroy operation. Noonan was stalking one of the last remaining Reds.

He had to admit, he had really missed the thrill of the hunt. Chasing after an unsuspecting victim, effortlessly staying out of sight, moving so quickly that he appeared to vanish from one place and reappear someplace else. The daytime interfered with his abilities to an extent, but the deeper into the forest he went the more of his strength returned to him.

Crewman Shwaluk ran through the forest. Separated from the other Reds, he was dashing straight back to Red base.

“Going somewhere?”

He spun around. Nobody.

“You can run, but you can’t hide!”

He spun again. Looked left. Looked right. Nobody.

He took a step forward then jumped in surprise as Cmdr. Noonan suddenly appeared right in front of him.


“Pleasant dreams!”

There was a phaser flash then Shwaluk found himself standing on the transporter pad.

“Happy honourable death!” said Pysternzyks from behind the transporter console, a big grin on his face, “I can hardly wait for my turn!”

Shwaluk flicked a rude gesture at the Andorian on his way out.

“BLUE TEAM WINS!” boomed the auto-announcer over every comm channel on and off Silverado. There were cheers from the Blue army and groans of disgust from the Red army. Lieutenant Sage and an engineering team beamed down to prepare the arena for the next match.

Captain’s Log: Supplemental.

“Blue 1, Red 0! Our next match is going to be ‘Capture the Flag!’ Each team has a flag. Whichever team can capture the enemy flag and return it to their own base wins. A team must still have possession of their own flag as well before they can make a successful capture.”

“Because of the nature of this exercise we’re turning ‘deaths’ off, so to speak. Anybody ‘killed’ will be beamed to a random location on their side of the valley.”

“We’ve also expanded our arsenal to include stun grenades and mock-leths. Mock-leths are much like bat-leths, only with electrodes designed to work with the tag suits instead of a sharp blade. Both have been modified for the war game.”

Jall, T’Parief and Jeffery huddled in the Red base.

“Ok,” Jall said, “I think we can agree that a direct assault isn’t the best idea,” he gave Jeffery a dark look.

“Seemed like a good idea at the time,” Jeffery muttered.

“Right,” rumbled T’Parief, baring his teeth “I will take charge of strategy now. Any objections?”

Jall and Jeffery shook their heads.

“Good. Now, we must leave a sizable force behind to guard our flag. Jeffery, you and Pysternzyks will keep twelve troops around the base. Scatter some of them into the woods nearby. If any Blues make it to the base, they’ll find themselves surrounded. Jall and I will lead a strike against the Blue base.”

“I wanna attack the Blues,” objected Jeffery.

“And I wanna stay here, where it’s safe!” whined Jall.

“Find. You’re switched,” T’Parief turned to Jall, “but just so you know, it’s the ones guarding the base who are going to be sitting on the bulls-eye.”

“Aw, f**kberries,” moaned Jall.

“And it looks like T’Parief and Jeffery are leading their troops to battle,” announced Steve over the Silverado intercom. Security officers carefully analyzed the battle tactics, while everybody else munched popcorn and listened to the commentary.

“And moving over to the Blue side, it looks like Stafford and Stern have set up an impressive defense! The Reds are going to have a nasty surprise in store!”

Noonan, Frat and Frek Naketh crept through the forest, carefully avoiding the Red army. Every other Blue troop had been held back for base defense.

Noonan continued to move so smoothly through the trees the two Nicondii could almost swear that he wasn’t touching a single branch. The two small engineers were able to walk under the thickest layer of branches, but still had to move carefully.

Stafford looked through a pair of binoculars at the valley. He could just see the top of the Red base in the distance. He was so intent on the base that he didn’t see the sixteen Red troops come charging down the path until Jeffery’s phaser blast triggered his tag suit, beaming him back to the ship.

“Got him!” said Jeffery with satisfaction as the auto-announcer shouted “FIRST BLOOD!”

“Now is NOT the time to gloat!” snarled T’Parief, “ATTACK!”

Phaser blasts filled the air again, but this time the Blues were prepared. Sharpshooters on the base picked off four Red troops before T’Parief’s phaser found them. Stern tossed a stun grenade into the approaching Reds, stunning most of them, including T’Parief.

Stafford came running out of the trees seconds later, just as Stern was ‘dispatching’ the stunned Reds.

“The first Red grab for the Blue flag was a dismal failure,” said Steve, “Mary, what do you think?”

“I think the Reds underestimated the Blue defenses. We still haven’t seen Noonan, Frat or Frek in some time, we can only hope they have something clever planned. And it looks now like there is some disagreement between the Blue commanders…”

“NO you IDIOT!” Stafford snapped, “we DON’T kill them!” He waved his arms at the dozen ‘stunned’ Reds sitting on the ground.”

“Well why not?” Stern objected, “You said we needed to ‘kill’ all of them!”

“Right, that was before! Now, if we ‘kill’ them, they’re going to go right back into action! We need to hold them hostage so they can’t get back in the game!”

Stern and Stafford continued to argue back and forth, not noticing T’Parief gesturing one of his men to move closer to the Blue base.

“Stun cycle complete,” announced the tag suits. Immediately the Reds jumped into action, taking out Stern, Stafford and several of the Blue guards. The Red closest to the base darted in, grabbed the flag and darted out.

“And the Blue flag has been taken from the Blue base! The chase is on! Now it’s up to the Blues to stop the Red flag carrier before he can return to his base. But wait, it looks like the Blue’s have their own plan going into play!”

Noonan, Frat and Frek eased up to the Red base, having slipped past the guards.

“Frek and I will create a diversion,” whispered Noonan, “Frat, you will sneak in and get the flag.”

Noonan and Frek waited until Frat was in position, then Noonan jumped out and hurtled stun grenades in three different directions. The Reds immediately returned fire. Frek snuck up behind one of the Reds with a mock-leth, smacking the much larger ensign across the back with the weapon. He promptly dematerialized.

Frat slipped into the Red base easily enough, snagged the flag then bolted for the bush. Unfortunately, the bright red flag made him an easy target and he had to avoid multiple phaser blasts before he was able to rejoin Noonan and Frek. The three immediately started running towards the Blue base.

Noonan, Frat and Frek returned to Blue base, battered and gasping for breath (except for Noonan), Red flag held proudly in hand.

“We’ve got it!” announced Frat.

“Great,” snapped Stafford, “why don’t you use it to sweep the floor, cuz that’s all it’s frikin’ good for now!”

“Hey, where’d our flag go?” wondered Frek.

At Red base, T’Parief and Ensign Pye had just arrived, Blue flag held proudly in hand.

“We’ve got it!” announced T’Parief.

“Great,” snapped Jall, “why don’t you go cram it up your torpedo tube, cuz that’s all it’s f**king good for now!”

“Hey, where’d our flag go?” wondered Pye.

Unbalanced Equations burst into laughter as the watching crewmen listened to the broadcast from the surface.

“Well, they’re in a nasty fix now, aren’t they Mary?” said Steven.

“Oh yeah,” Mary giggled, “They’ve each managed to get their hands on the other team’s flag, but without their own flag they can’t make a successful capture!”

“Each team now has to hold on to their enemies’ flags while attempting to get their own back!”

“I think Blue will win this one,” Mary said, “They’ve got their defensive strategy figured out, and we’re starting to see some strong offense from them as well.”

“Don’t forget that Red started off very strong,” Steven pointed out, “I think they still have some surprises for the Blues, both in offense and defense. And don’t forget that Lieutenant Jall is more offensive than anybody else on this ship!”

Mary dropped her ‘announcer voice’ to groan. “Geez Steve, that was just BAD.”

“I’m running out of material!” Steven objected.

“SHHH! It’s still on!”

Jeffery paced back and forth while T’Parief and Jall debated strategy. Pysternzyks had been sent out into the forest behind the base to hide the enemy flag. Pysternzyks had protested loudly, saying that hiding was for cowards, but after T’Parief informed him that he was to guard the flag, surrendering his life if necessary, he quickly changed his tune.

“We need to get our flag back!” Jall said for the 5th time.

“Aye, thank ye, Master of the Obvious,” Jeffery snapped.

“I don’t hear you giving any good ideas!” Jall snapped back.

“Silence!” roared T’Parief, “Either contribute, or shut up!”

Jall grunted and started scanning the valley with a set of binoculars.

“It looks like there’s Blue activity in the North-East Valley,” he said after a moment.

“What would they be doing there?” wondered T’Parief.

“Hiding our flag, maybe?”

“I doubt it. It’s too visible. We can see them.”

“Well,” Jall corrected, “I can’t actually see THEM. But I do see the trees moving, like something’s knocking them out of the way.”

“Keep an eye on it,” T’Parief decided. He turned to Jeffery, “I want two teams of three to scour the valley, one on each side of the river. See if you can see what Blue is up to and where they hid our flag.”

Stafford was scanning the valley with his binoculars while Stern and Noonan debated strategy.

“I’m not seeing any Red activity so far,” he reported, “although there are a few trees getting knocked around in the North-East valley. I can’t see more because of the terrain.”

“Keep an eye on it,” Noonan advised, “but we must come to a decision: do we wait for the Reds to come to us, or do we take the battle to them?”

“Let’s send everybody,” Stern said, “hit them with all we’ve got! Leave one person hiding in the bush with the Red flag.”

“I don’t like it,’ Stafford said, “it leaves us too vulnerable.”

“Well, we could send out two scouting parties then,” Noonan suggested, “say, two teams of three? They could scout for Red activity and try to locate our flag.”

“Sounds good,” replied Stafford.

Watching the action in Unbalanced Equations, Ms. Lydia Thompson of Human Resources shook her head in disgust as she watched the four ‘scouting parties’ draw closer and closer to each other. She had been intrigued and impressed at first when the senior staff had initiated the training exercise, showing excellent use of limited resources as well as taking advantage of an opportunity to improve morale. She just hadn’t realized that when it came to ground combat tactics most Starfleet officers were out of practice at best, thanks to the tendency for most battles to be fought in space.

“And the Blues and the Reds seem to be using identical tactics,” announced Steven, eliciting a round of groans and a few calls of ‘D’UH!”

“If this keeps up, we could be in for a long match, ladies, gentlemen and gender-neutral beings,” said Mary.

“But not to worry,” added Steven, “we’ll be here to talk you through the action, and the bar and buffet will remain open!”

The Red and Blue scouting parties met at the center of the three-valley confluence. There was a brief flurry of exchanged weapons fire and stun grenades. When it was over, all twelve troops had been ‘killed’ and beamed back to their respective valleys.

“Well, that did nothing,” muttered Jall after hearing the report from one of the scouts.

“Fine,” said Jeffery, “Then we rush out right now as quickly as possible and surprise them!”

“Well, at this point I’m out of ideas,” admitted T’Parief, “so CHARGE!”

The Red team ran towards the Blue Base, leaving only Pysterzyks behind to guard the flag.

“Great. Our scouting parties were killed and we didn’t learn a thing!” complained Stafford, “To hell with strategy! Send everybody except our flag guard to attack the Red base!”

The Blue team ran towards the Red Base, leaving only a single guard hiding in the forest with the Red flag.

The two armies met at the valley confluence.

“ATTACK!” shouted Stafford as he saw the first of the Red troops running towards him.

“CHARGE!” shouted T’Parief. He un-slung his phaser rifle and fired a shot directly at Stafford, who was barely able to shimmy out of the way. Stafford fired back at T’Parief, missing by a long shot but hitting one of the Red troops emerging from the trees.

Frat and Frek Naketh fired phaser shots at the Red troops from their hiding places behind some small bushes. The tiny engineers presented such small targets that Ensign Burke drained his phaser rifle trying to hit them. Frustrated, he tossed a stun grenade in their direction, taking both out of the game.

Noonan skirted around the edge of the trees, dispatching three Red troops before they could respond. He was about to dispatch a 3rd when a shot from T’Parief took him by surprise.

Crewman Purch had taken a slightly different route. The amphibious crewman had dived into the river, staying just below the surface except for his froglike eyes. He popped up, ‘killed’ a Blue troop then dived below the water, narrowing escaping a barrage of phaser shots. Swimming a short distance away he popped up again, shooting Lieutenant Stern in the back. This time a stun grenade came flying in his direction before he could make his escape.

Stafford, the only Blue commander left, assessed the situation. Frat and Frek had taken out Jall while Jeffery had had a close encounter with a stun grenade, leaving T’Parief in charge. Stafford was positive that T’Parief was a better tactician that he was, but Blue had a slight advantage in numbers. Ducking low, he backed towards the trees, calling for his men to follow him. They ‘advanced to the rear’ (retreated), firing back at the Reds.

The Reds followed them, realizing only at the last minute that the trees would afford the Blues cover while the Reds were still in the open. T’Parief quickly hollered at his troops to drop to the ground, taking them out of the Blue line of fire.

“RED FLAG CAPTURED,” boomed the auto-announcer.

Stafford looked at his team in confusion.

“Who managed to get the flag?”

“I dunno, maybe somebody got past the Reds,”

“And back again? I doubt it.”

“BLUE FLAG CAPTURED,” boomed the auto-announcer.

“What the hell is going on?” Stafford demanded. He shouted out towards T’Parief.

“Hey! T’Parief! What’s going on?”

“I do not know!” the tactical officer shouted back.

Up on the ship everybody was in a state on confusion.

“And it looks like both flags have been captured,” Steven announced, puzzled, “but neither the Red team or the Blue team has scored. I don’t understand how this could have happened!”

“Indeed,” added Mary, “The only way this could happen would be if there was a third team…”

Stafford and T’Parief had declared at temporary cease-fire and met just outside the woods. The Blue and Red troops hunkered behind whatever cover was available, keeping their weapons trained on the each other. Stafford and T’Parief were arguing over what was going on.

“I think it’s a malfunction in the computer,” Stafford said, “Maybe ‘Mom’ thought this was too dangerous and wanted to shut things down!”

“The base computers running the game are small portable units,” stated T’Parief, “Silverado’s main computer doesn’t have that level of control over them,”

“You don’t know that woman…if she wants to do something, she’ll do it!”

“I remind you that we’re talking about a computer, not in fact your mother. Fortunately.”

“Lieutenant,” Stafford said stiffly, “you better not be insulting my mother!”

“I really think we should return to the problem at-“


Stafford and T’Parief turned towards the source of the shout as green suited troops burst out of the trees nears the North-East Valley, yelling at the top of their lungs and firing their weapons at the Red and Blue troops.

“Holy s**t!” shouted Steven as he watched the carnage on screen, “We’ve got some new players on the field, and they’re swatting both the Reds and the Blues like flies!”

The crew in Unbalanced Equations stared at the projection screen, popcorn and snack foods forgotten.

“Who are these people??”

Stafford ran through the woods, pursued by one of the Green intruders. T’Parief and most of the Reds and Blues had either been taken out by the Greens or had taken each other out in a frenzy of weapons fire (in which T’Parief had been caught. Stafford had managed to duck in time).

He twisted past a thick bunch of trees then jumped over a fallen log, stumbling as he landed. His shoulder hit a tree, sending him sprawling to the ground as a cold blast of pain knifed through his arm. He was pretty sure something was broken.

He struggled to get up as his attacker stepped out of the shadows.

“That shoulder looks bad,” said Dr. Noel Wowryk, dirt smeared over her green tag suit, “we’d better get you to Sickbay.”

Captain’s Log, Supplemental

“Well, it looks like some people just weren’t content to sit back, follow orders and watch the fun. The women on the ship, following Dr. Wowryk, Lieutenant Fifebee and Ensign Yanick, have formed their own team, the Greens. They also completely kicked our asses, mostly because they caught us completely by surprise.”

“Unfortunately, my previous orders stated that females on the ship could not join the Red or Blue teams. They didn’t say anything about forming a third team, which means that nobody has disobeyed my orders, which means I can’t punish anybody! Dammit! Furthermore, Ms. Thompson has informed me that if I continue to prevent the females on this ship from participating I’ll be violating Starfleet’s anti-discrimination policy, regardless of tactical considerations. Against my better judgment, we’re continuing with the war game. Mostly because I want to see the look on Dr. Wowryk’s face when we completely defeat and humiliate her.”

“Computer, transfer that last sentence to my personal log.”

“I think you’ll be in for a surprise, Captain,” Dr. Wowryk said coolly as she ran a tricorder over Stafford’s shoulder.

“Ohh, I don’t think so,” Stafford said, “We beat you once before. We’ll beat you again.”

“We were in Dreamland last time,” Wowryk said, “and those were completely different circumstances. We’re not brainwashed lunatics anymore!”

“Well, you’re half right-OH GOD!” Stafford screamed in pain as Wowryk popped his shoulder into place.

“Dislocated shoulder,” she said. Stafford gasped in pain for several seconds before he was able to speak again.

“You could have warned me! Or given me painkillers! Or SOMETHING!”

“You would have just tensed up, which would have made it hurt even more. Besides, God frowns on drug use.”

“I think you’re confusing pharmaceuticals with street drugs.”

“I hardly think YOU are one to lecture me about God!”

“Just fix my shoulder!”

Wowryk ran a dermal regenerator over Stafford’s shoulder, repairing the damage.

“I suggest you rest for the next 48 hours,” she ordered.

“Forget it. We’ve got a match tomorrow morning. I’m in it. End of story.”

“I figured you’d say that,” Wowryk said with disdain, “you can’t help it, it’s the testosterone talking.”

“Hey, I like having testosterone.”

“Typical male. So in love with your parts you can’t contemplate how much better life would be without them!”

“What? You think we should all get fixed?”

“Neutering pets has shown to have a positive impact on their behavior.”

“OK,” Stafford said, “now you’re just pulling my leg! Teasing me! Trying to get a rise out of me!” Stafford gave her a slightly scared look, “Right?”

Wowryk smiled, “Yes I am, and it sure took you long enough to notice.”

“See you on the field tomorrow,”

“You better believe it.”

The next morning the Blue, Red and Green teams beamed down to the planet. Stafford and T’Parief had inspected the Green base to ensure it matched the Red and Blue bases and didn’t provide any unfair advantages. Finding everything in order, they returned to their respective bases.

Three teams made many of the planned matches more difficult. Three-way capture the flag was too much like three-way sex: two teams were likely to get heavily involved while the third sat back and watched. Obviously that was to be avoided so a different scenario had been concocted.

For the third (and final) match, T’Parief, Stafford and Wowryk agreed on a sort of king-of-the-hill type match. The teams would fight for control of the three bases. For each base they controlled they would be awarded one point per minute. If Red held their base plus the Blue base for ten minutes, they’d get twenty points. At the end of five hours whichever team had the most points would win. Squads would rotate from Silverado to the planet, allowing all crewmembers to participate.

All three commanders had been adamant that there be no partnerships between any of the teams, and that no team would attempt to favor one of the others.

“Out numbering them two to one is not honorable,” T’Parief had said.

“Plus,” Stafford had added, “if were to team up and beat them they’d be crying about how they were completely outgunned!”

Wowryk and Yanick had just rolled their eyes.

In Unbalanced Equations, Steve was setup for another day. The buffet was stocked and his three other waiters were running around filling drink orders. Steve and Mary had resumed their positions as commentators at the back of the lounge.

The crowd in Unbalanced Equations had grown to half again it’s previous size. Suddenly everyone on the ship not participating was interested in the events unfolding on the planet.

Wowryk, Yanick and Fifebee stood on the command platform at Green Base, surrounded by their troops. A rough map of the valley in front of them.

“We’re going to target Blue Base first,” said Fifebee, “We will send 3/4s of our force to attack while the remainder stays here to guard the base. You will always remain in groups of two, nobody should ever be alone. Also, Nurse Kerry and Yeoman Schoonbaert will stay here,” she indicated a section of forest near Green Base, “to provide a reserve in case our base is in danger of being overrun. Any questions?”

“Like, do we all have to wear this green?” asked a blond ensign, “It, like, so totally clashes with my hair!”

“This is a battle,” snapped Dr. Wowryk, “not a fashion show!”

“Like, lighten up!”

“Our attack strategy is simple,” interrupted Trish Yanick, “Pincer maneuver. Two squads hit Blue Base from two directions. Then the third group comes in to catch them by…oh! Look! Bunnies! They’re so CUTE!!!”

“Alien bunnies aside, since when did you know anything about strategy?” asked Lieutenant Crixar.

“Well, I don’t,” admitted Yanick, “it was Fifebee’s idea. But I still think it’s a good one.”

“I say we vote on it,” piped up another voice.

“Oh! Oh! We need a Strategy Committee to decide this stuff!”

“I wanna be on the Refreshments Committee!”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” groaned Fifebee

Jeffery and Pye had snuck through the bushes right up to the outer wall of Green Base. Hearing the argument inside, Pye raised his hand and pantomimed chatter. Stifling a giggle, Jeffery reached into his pocket and pulled out a very special grenade.

Basically a stun grenade, Jeffery had modified it using some parts from a comm badge. He chucked it over the wall before rushing back into the bush.

Everyone in Green Base turned to stare as a brightly coloured object landed on the ground in the middle of the base. It beeped softly, then a recording of ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ started to play.

“What is that thing?” asked Yanick.

“And why is it making that racket!”

“I don’t know,” said Dr. Wowryk, “it looks like a stun grenade, but stun grenades aren’t bright pink and they don’t play music.”

“Is it a music box?” asked Crixar.

“Look,” Fifebee said, “We should get rid of it. Whatever it is, it might be dang-“


“I can’t believe they fell for that,” muttered Pye as he and Jeffery climbed onto the Green base command platform, ignoring the angry glares of the ‘stunned’ Green troops. Jeffery tapped a red button on the base computer. On a small display screen the icon representing Green Base changed from green to red.


“Now we have to hold onto it,” Jeffery said.

“And how do we do that? The stun is going to wear off soon. Should we just ‘kill’ them?”

“Nay, they’ll materialize somewhere in the valley and be on us in no time.”

“Stun them again?”

“The tag suits are set to recognize multiple stun blasts and will record them as a ‘kill’ after three consecutive hits. But aye, I think that’s the best bet.” He turned to the Green troops and found himself facing Dr. Wowryk.

“Um, hi Noel,” he said, “I’m sorry, but I have to stun you again now.”

“You’d shoot me, Simon?” Wowryk asked, “What would God say about that?”

“Um, um,” Jeffery stuttered, his phaser rifle wavering.

“It’s just a game!” snapped Pye, “shoot her and lets go!”

“I know, but-“ Wowryk was looking right at Jeffery, her big blue eyes damp with tears, her long auburn hair framing her sad but delicate face.

“She’s so beautiful!” wailed Jeffery, “I can’t do it!”

“Stun cycle ended,” announced the Green tag suits. The Greens immediately fired, hitting Jeffery and Pye with multiple shots, ‘killing’ both. Fifebee rushed to the base computer and hit a green button, returning the base to Green control.

“You can’t,” Wowryk muttered to herself, “but I can!”

“And the Red team pulls into the lead with 60 points! Blue is holding steady with 45 points while Green trails with 30!” The sensor feed on the holoprojector screen now had an insert across the bottom, displaying team scores and the status of the three bases. A betting pool had formed, under the supervision of Crewman Shwaluk. Despite a rough start, odds still favored a Green victory.

Jeffery’s disguised stun grenade may have won the Red team the lead, but it had also re-awakened the Green team to the fact that they really didn’t have time for a Strategy Committee. They had decided to continue to target Blue, as the Reds would be expecting retaliation. Fifebee was left in command of base defense while Wowryk, Nurse Kerry and Trish took command of the three attack squads.

The Blues didn’t know what hit them.

Stafford and Stern directed base defense as the two Green attack groups assaulted the base. They’d sent an attack force to the Red base, under the command of Noonan, which left them vulnerable to an attack. Noonan’s attack force had been obliterated by Red defenses, but the random transports following their ‘deaths’ had scattered them across the valley, too far from Blue Base to help.

The Blues were on the verge of pushing the Greens back when the third Green attack team came surging out of the trees. Stafford and his defenders were wiped out in minutes. Kerry ran up to the Blue computer and tapped the green button, taking control of Blue Base.

The Green’s didn’t have long to savor their victory. An unexpected assault against Blue Base by the Reds caught them off guard. Wowryk and Trish’s assault teams, already weakened, had fallen back to the base and were defending their captured territory against the Reds. After a pitched battle, they barely managed to repel them. Kerry’s team had returned to bolster the defenses at Green Base, somehow passing by the Red attack force without being noticed. Wowryk immediately called for Kerry to assault the Red base while the Reds were preoccupied.

Stafford and his Blue troops, having been dispersed across the valley by their ‘deaths’, were regrouping by the river.

Noonan and Stafford debated their next move.

“There’s still fighting at our base,” Stafford said, “I say we pop up, surprise them and take our base back!”

“Problem,” said Noonan, “we would be fighting off two armies.”

“You’re right. Same thing if we attack the Red base.”

“Green Base is our best bet,”


“And we’ve got a pitched match now, folks!” announced Steven excitedly, “Green is holding the Blue base, Blue has taken control of Green base and Red remains firmly fixed in Red Base. The score is Blue 35, Green 63 and Red 48. The Blues really need to get their act together if they want to catch up!”

Over the course of the next few hours, control of the bases bounced from team to team. Green continued to show a strong performance; holding, losing then retaking Blue and Red Bases repeated while Red nipped at their heels. Eventually though, the team commanders started realizing it was time to break the pattern and try something different.

“Enough of this,” grumbled T’Parief, “here’s what we’re doing: We need to get these bletchexths out of the way. I want five teams. Jall, your team will stay here. I will take a team to attack Green Base. Jeffery, since you don’t have the gonads to shoot your woman, you will attack Blue Base. Dar’ugal will take the fourth team to Green Base while Day takes the fifth team to Blue Base.”

“Right, so now we have more teams. So what?” Jall asked, “Sounds like we’re just complicating things!”

“That’s why I’m the tactical officer and you are the ship’s flunky!” snapped T’Parief, “We’re going to tag team!”

Jeffery scratched his head.


“Each base has two teams attacking it,” T’Parief explained, “One team will attack and be ‘killed’, taking out some of the defenders in the process. Once they’re done, the second team will attack, take out some of the defenders and be destroyed. While the second team is attacking, the first team will regroup then attack again. Eventually, we will wear down their defenses enough to take their base.”

“But they’ll be regrouping too!” Jeffery pointed out.

“We will have to be faster. Let’s go!”

Dr. Wowryk stood on the command platform of Blue Base, watching the newest Red attack team approaching. It was pathetic! The battle lasted all of ten minutes; with Wowryk losing only four troops while the Red team was obliterated.

Seconds later another Red team attacked. After a fifteen minutes fight, Wowryk was down six more troops.

And another Red team attacked….

“And the Red team’s new strategy seems to have worked perfectly for Blue Base,” stated Mary. Within an hour, the Greens had been defeated and Blue Base was under Red control.

“The Greens are taking a beating,” Steven agreed, “Blue has taken control of Green Base while Red has ousted them from Blue Base.” It looks like Green is trying to regroup, but they’re having problems getting through the Red forces attacking Green Base. The Blues are going to have their hands full…”

‘Problems’ was putting it lightly. Every time a Green troop materialized in their valley, they barely had time to hunt for other Green troops before being ‘killed’ or stunned by the warring Blue and Red teams. Blue was putting up a hard fight for Green base, but since their ‘causalities’ were materializing back in the Blue valley, the reinforcements had to try to fight their way past the Reds, usually failing miserably. Time was running short, with only an hour left to go! The current score was Reds: 254, Green 317 and Blues 201.

“And Red has established a hold on all three bases!” announced Steven, “They can’t hold for long though! Blue is already attacking Blue Base, trying to knock the Reds out while Green is regrouping for a counter-attack. Mary?”

“At this point,” Mary said, “Blue is out of the picture. They would have to control at least two bases for an hour just to catch up to where Green is now. I think we’ll be seeing a heated battle between the Reds and the Greens.”

Stern ducked behind a tree, avoiding a phaser shot from Ensign Day, who was perched atop Blue Base and firing at the Blue attackers. A shot from Crewman Sutherland sent Day into a flurry of transporter sparkles. Without any sharpshooters, Blue Base fell quickly to the Blue assault.

Stafford slammed his hand down on the Blue button, returning Blue Base to Blue control.

“HAH!” he hollered, “Suck it, Red!”

“I think the time for taunts has passed,” Noonan said calmly.

“What? Why?”

We’re 116 points behind. We cannot possibly win.”

“Oh, f**k!”

Stafford, determined not to show any favoritism to either the Reds or the Greens, sent attack parties to assault the flanks of each force. The Greens continued to assault the Red force holding Green Base, but the combination of the Red and Blue attack teams made it hard for them to regroup.

Red wasn’t happy with Blue either. During one brief period where Red Base was lightly defended, Stafford had led an attack and taken the base before T’Parief returned in a rage to re-take it.

The score was Red 305, Green 317 and Blue 212 with fourty minutes remaining.

Dr. Wowryk had finally gathered most of the Green team in a small clearing near the river.

“We’re going in hard,” she said, “ignore Blue, stun Red. If they’re stunned, they can’t regroup. If you’re ‘killed’, jump right back into the party! We need to take and hold our base if we’re going to beat these pigs!”

“We’re going to show them that Green is the most powerful team!” yelled Yanick.

“Oh, such motivation,” cracked Kerry, her voice thick with sarcasm, “I feel such undying loyalty to the wonderful Green team!”

“Just shut up and shoot!”

The Greens swarmed their own base, splitting into two columns and flanking the Red assault team from the cover of the woods. Finding themselves under attack from both sides, the Reds quickly became aware that they were between a rock and a hard place. By the time they reached Green Base, Red resistance was crumbling.

T’Parief’s plan of sending wave after wave of Red troops had worked great. The problem was that now Green was playing the same game with the home field advantage of materializing much closer than the Reds, who had to run from their valley to the Green valley to rejoin the fight. Green managed to crush the Red occupational forces by tossing three stun grenades over the walls of Green base. Trish Yanick ran into the base, up the command platform and slammed her hand down on the green button.

“Yeah!” she squealed as the icon representing Green Base change to green, “Go us!”

Red 335, Green 317 and Blue 232 with 20 minutes remaining.

“We can still win,” Fifebee declared, “We must hold our base and the Blue base for sixteen minutes. We have twenty minutes. Mathematically, it is possible.”

“Right, we’re going to take the Blue base in four minutes!” snapped Nurse Kerry as she phasered a Red player who had been sneaking around.

“If we’re gonna do something, we better do it now!” said Yanick.

“If we take the Red base, we only have to hold it for nine minutes to beat the Red team,” Dr. Wowryk pointed out.

Fifebee looked at her in shock.

“You’re right! I can’t believe I missed that! Doctor, have you studied this kind of strategy before?”

“No,” Wowryk said, “at least, I don’t think I did.”

“We’ll repeat our earlier strategy,” decided Fifebee, “Three groups, sending in two first than one later. But this time the third group will circle around and attack from behind.”

Red base was a scene of chaos.

T’Parief, Jeffery and Jall were exhausted, having been in ‘combat’ for nearly five hours straight. A Blue attack team (led by Stafford) had knocked out half of his squad, leaving them to helplessly watch the firefight until their stun cycles ended. His sensitive ears picked up the sound of snapping branches and rustling leaves a full minute before the first Green troops burst out of the woods, charging the base, Ensign Yanick in the lead.

“Hi honey!” she called to T’Parief, blowing him a big kiss and flashing a smile. T’Parief stopped to wave back, not even noticing Nurse Kerry until she nailed him with her phaser rifle.

“Aw, fwark!” he cursed.

With the Red forces already weakened by the Blue attack, Red Base fell before the third Green team had even arrived.

“They’ve got our base and their own,” T’Parief was giving orders to the Red squad after they had regrouped, “If they hold it for four more minutes, they’ll tie with us. There’s only ten minutes left. We need a base to stay in the lead. They’ll be fortifying their positions, trying to prevent us from getting our base back.

“So which do we go for?” asked Jeffery, “Theirs, or ours?”

“Neither,” piped in Jall, understanding, “we go for Blue base. Blur just finished an assault against us. They’ve been alternating for the past half hour. They’ll attack Green next. As soon as they leave, we take their base.”

“Let’s move,” rumbled T’Parief.

They skirted through the trees. Before they even reached the Blue valley, they could see Noonan leading more than half the Blue team towards Green Base.

“We’re going to hit them from all directions,” murmured T’Parief, “Fire stun grenades into the base. Don’t worry about conserving; we’re almost finished anyway. Hit them hard and fast.

Hard and fast was right. The Reds stormed Blue Base, catching Stafford and Stern with a single grenade. The rest of the Blue defenders last all of two minutes before Red took control of the base.

“RED TEAM IS THE WINNER!” cried the auto-announcer as the clock hit zero.

The score was Red 347, Green 346 and Blue 246.

“Oh yeah! Oh yeah! We rule! We rule!” Jall chanted as the senior staff gathered in the conference lounge for the post-exercise briefing.

Everybody had showered and eaten and engineering teams were hard at work dismantling the bases. Members of the science staff would be combing the valleys, ensuring that no Federation technology was left behind.

“All right, first off,” Stafford was saying, “congratulations to the Red team for winning the last round.”

“Who-hoo!” Jall held his hand out to T’Parief, who stared at him blankly.

“Mr. T’Parief, would you please high-five him so we can continue?” Noonan said blandly.

T’Parief slammed his thick hand against Jall’s, electing a cry of pain.

“Thank you,” Stafford said with a grin, as Jall clutched his bruised hand, “So, opinions. Did this exercise improve our combat skills?”

“Undoubtedly,” rumbled T’Parief, “I observed marked improvement in response time, coordination and marksmanship skills on all three teams. It will take some time to further analyze the footage recorded by the sensors, but I think the results will be very positive.”

“On that topic,” Fifebee joined in, “The Associated Worlds Network has expressed interest in purchasing broadcast rights for that footage.”

“Really?” Stafford asked surprised, “How did they find out about it so soon?”

“I made the acquaintance of a charming young reporter while I was on Waystation,” said Noonan, “I thought she might be interested. Of course, they will have to deal with Starfleet’s Public Relations department to get the footage, but most likely they will get it.”

“Cool. We could use some good publicity.” Stafford said, nodding his approval.

“Exactly,” Noonan agreed.

“I’m not sure good publicity is what we’d get,” muttered Jall.

“Oh shut up.”

“How are we resource-wise, Jeffery?” Stafford asked.

“We’re fine,” Jeffery replied, “We used a fair bit of replicator energy, but it’s not like we’re running low or anything. It was certainly less of an energy drain than the holodecks would have been.”

“So, the Reds win, we all learned something and we’re ready to move on,” said Jall happily, “sounds good to me!”

“Hold on mister,” said Stafford, “the Reds didn’t win.”

“Huh?” Jall’s face fell as realization struck home, “Oh, sh**t.”

It was true that the Reds had one the last (and most difficult) match. But the Greens had won the Capture the Flag match, and the Blues had won the first match, leaving the teams tied.

“Why the heck did we only three matches anyway?” demanded Dr. Wowryk.

“Because,” Stafford said, “The original plan was for two teams to play best two out of three. But somebody screwed that all to hell, didn’t she?”

“Well excuse me,” muttered Wowryk.

“What about a tie-breaker?” asked Yanick.

“We’re already taking everything apart,” said Jeffery.

“And we’ve used the time allocated to this activity,” added Noonan, “I will remind you all that there is no prize to be won. This exercise was about improving our abilities.”

“No prize??” demanded Jall, “F**k it then. I say we all get drunk and celebrate a job well done!”

The remainder of the senior staff exchanged glances.

“Did Jall just say something nobody is objecting to?” asked T’Parief in shock.

Wowryk rose her hand. “I will object on account of-,”

“First round’s on me!” interrupted Yanick as she led the rush for the door.

Next: The Silverado crew is trapped as they investigate a planet where time seems to have the hiccups. Dr. Wowryk and Lieutenant Jall team up in ‘You Can Say That Again,’ coming soon to a Nexus near you!