Author: Brendan Chris
“USS Silverado, please,” Jall ordered as he stepped into one of Starbase 45s many turbolifts,”
“There are two vessels of that name docked at this station,” replied the voice of the computer, “Please specify,”
“Saucer section,” Jall growled. Beside him, Trish Yanick giggled as the lift smoothly accelerated.
“The sooner they put Humpty Dumpty back together again, the better,” Jall said.
“Yeah,” Yanick agreed, “Piloting the saucer was no fun. It’s like flying a Frisbee. Y’know, except the saucer has thrusters and a Frisbee doesn’t. And a Frisbee doesn’t have people living in it. And-“
“Oh good,” Jall interrupted as the doors opened, “we’re there,”
They stepped out into Starbase 45s central docking facility. Based in the center of the huge dome-shaped hanger, the docking facility was a thick cylindrical pillar rising from the floor of the hanger up to the upper surface. Atop this core, outside the hanger itself sat the veritable city of the station’s administration and command center.
The turbolift had deposited Jall and Yanick in a busy commercial sector, with the inner wall consisting of shops, restaurants and other commercial facilities and the huge windows of the outer wall giving a panoramic view of the hanger bay. Not far to their left, Silverado’s saucer section was docked. Starbase engineers clung to the lower surface, just starting to repair the hull breaches and structural damage the lower two decks had suffered when the saucer crashed into the ocean of Delorea II. Towards the aft edge more technicians were removing the black carbon scoring left by the detonation of the explosive bolts that had pushed the saucer free of the stardrive section.
Two slips to their right sat the stardrive section of the ship. It had taken considerably less damage than the saucer, as Lieutenant Fifebee had remained ‘turned-on’ long enough to pull it into a stable orbit before her program crashed. Aside from the carbon scoring where the saucer had been attached and some minor battle damage from the initial fight with Lord Stalart, it was in pretty good shape.
“Five minutes,” Jall promised as he headed towards the gantry leading to the saucer, “I just have to get that shirt from my quarters, then we’re off to ‘The Sassy Singularity’ for a night of sex and debauchery!”
“Maybe you are,” Yanick sighed, “But unless T’Parief and the Hazardous Team get out of their debriefing early, I’ll be the Chaste Princess for another night,”
“Honey, with T’Parief, aren’t you ALWAYS the Chaste Princess?”
“That’s none of your business!” Yanick snapped.
Jall, taken aback by the sudden harsh tone in Yanick’s voice, decided to let it drop.
“I’ll, er just get my shirt,” he said, tapping an entry code into Silverado’s airlock. As the thick double doors opened, the sound of angry discussion spilled out.
“What do you MEAN I can’t board the crew for two more weeks?” Stafford was saying angrily, “Most of these people have been evacuated for over two months now!”
“There was a delay with repairs to the saucer,” the other officer was tall, nearly two meters, and bulged with muscles his uniform could barely contain, let alone conceal. His pale, clean-shaven skin contrasted with his jet-black hair. Jall nearly drooled as the man’s bright blue eyes glanced over at him and Yanick.
“Down, boy,” Yanick whispered out of the side of her mouth.
“And why was there a delay anyway, Mr. Kilbury?” Stafford demanded, “We were ON TIME for our repairs for once! We’ve been here for two weeks, everything was supposed to be finished by now and you haven’t even started reattaching the saucer!”
“We had to wait for the engineers from Utopia Planetia to get here,” Kilbury said, “The chance to study an Ambassador-class saucer that made planet fall and is still serviceable is a rare opportunity for them!”
“Their opportunity is setting our departure time back even further!” Stafford groaned. He finally noticed Jall and Yanick standing by the airlock.
“What do you two want?” he asked, exasperated.
“Dinner and a movie,” Jall said before he could stop himself, staring at Kilbury.
Yanick elbowed him in the side as Stafford raised an eyebrow. Kilbury looked blank, then suddenly blushed deep red.
“He just needs to go get a shirt so we can go to the club,” Yanick said, pushing Jall off in the right direction. Reluctantly, Jall left.
“Is this a shirt that’s going to give Silverado a reputation for professional, respectful behavior,” Stafford asked.
“Um,” Yanick bit her lip, “If by ‘professional’ you mean ‘silver spandex’, and if by ‘respectful behavior’ you mean-“
“Stop!” Stafford help up his hands, “Just, stop. Between constant debriefings with Tunney and dealing with the repairs to this ship I just can’t deal with Jall’s…eccentricities. Ignorance is bliss.”
“I’ll, um, just go see about the repair schedule,” Kilbury said, looking thoughtful as he turned away. “And then maybe a night on the town…”
“What was that?” Stafford asked.
“Nothing!” Kilbury called back over his shoulder.
Stafford had barely made it to his quarters when the comm sounded.
“Jeffery to Stafford,”
Resting his head against a support strut, he tapped his badge.
“Er, Ah have a question for ye,”
“Oh really?” Stafford asked, “And here I just thought you were calling me to get the weather,”
“What Lt. Commander Jeffery means, Captain,” Lieutenant Fifebee’s voice came over the comm, “Is that there is a matter of some ‘optional features’ Captain Zezzix would like to discuss with you,”
“Optional features?? What are we, an SUV?”
“He wants to know if we’d like an upgrade to our saucer separations systems,” Jeffery cut back in, “Somethin’ about wanting to know whether we’d like to be able to re-attach the saucer without a starbase,”
Starfleet’s bigger ships, the ‘Heavy Cruiser/ Deep-Space-Explorer’ category of starship, usually consisted of three main components: A saucer section, an engineering section and a pair of warp nacelles. Almost every class of ship using that arrangement could separate the saucer section in the event of an emergency. Whether due to a catastrophic core failure in the engineering section or to act as a huge lifeboat for the bulk of the crew, it had been used frequently throughout Starfleet’s history. The catch was that until the Galaxy-class ships were designed, any ship that separated its saucer and later needed to be re-assembled had to have both sections returned to a starbase. It was, as Stafford was finding, a major pain in the ass.
“Was he serious?” Stafford asked, “Or was he just mocking us?”
“Um,” Jeffery thought for a moment, “Ah dunno,”
“My vocal analysis indicates a ninety-five percent certainty that he was serious, Captain,” Fifebee cut in, “However, it will delay our repairs by at least a week,”
Stafford groaned again. After a moment’s thought, he made his decision.
“What the hell?” he asked, “Why don’t you call ‘Pimp My Starship’ and see if we can get some purple neon lights or a racing stripe painted on the hull while we’re at it?”
Angrily, he slapped his badge again, cutting the channel.
In Main Engineering, over in the stardrive section, Jeffery looked over to Fifebee.
“Was that an ‘aye’ or a ‘nay’?” he asked Fifebee.
“It sounds like the Captain is becoming stressed,” Fifebee remarked, “However, vocal analysis-“
“Aye, or nay?” Jeffery cut in.
Fifebee looked at him for a moment.
“Aye,” she said.
“If anybody cares what I think…” Sylvia broke in.
“Ah can guess,” Jeffery said.
“Well,” Sylvia said, her voice practically screaming ‘Don’t Blame Me’, “You have to admit you’d enjoy being decapitated much more if you had the knowledge that your head could be easily reattached.
Shrugging, Jeffery send a message to Captain Zezzix, Chief of Dock Operations for Starbase 45 with Stafford’s answer and started going through the information they’d been sent on the upgrade.
“Looks pretty common-sense,” he said, “A few tractor emitters near the separation point, replacing the explosive de-couplers with grab-plates, some work on the turboshafts and umbilicals-“
“Starbase 45 to Lieutenant Fifebee,” chimed the comm.
“Lieutenant, you have in incoming message from Jupiter Station,”
Despite being a hologram, Fifebee very much had the ability to feel the emotion of surprise. And boy was she feeling it now!
“Please route it to the Chief Engineer’s Office on Silverado,” she requested, turning from the console and walking quickly to Jeffery’s office.
“Sure, ye can use me office,” Jeffery said to the empty room, “Ah don’t mind,”
Fifebee strode into the small office off of Main Engineering and sat at Jeffery’s desk. A quick tap on the screen brought the normally scowling face of Dr. Luis Zimmerman onto the screen.
Except today he wasn’t scowling.
“Jane,” he said, swallowing and looking away from the screen before turning back, “It’s good to see you,”
“Doctor Zimmerman,” Fifebee replied politely. Her face was calm, but her inner personalities were in turmoil.
Dr. Zimmerman had created Fifebee (5-B) as part of a project to see how sentient holograms could integrate into Federation society. An offshoot of the Emergency Medical Hologram, his Holographic Starfleet Officers, Mark V, had been designed for prolonged use. He’d also designed them with access to hundreds of different personalities, depending on what path they chose. Fifebee had decided the sciences were most appropriate to a hologram, thus her database of personalities consisted mainly of scientists.
Zimmerman and Fifebee had fought when Fifebee had been assigned to Silverado. Zimmerman had felt that a hologram of Fifebee’s caliber belonged on a better ship. Fifebee wanted to stay where she was. Poor Stafford had been stuck in the middle, finally insisting to Zimmerman that if he expected Fifebee to behave like a sentient being, he had to give her the choice. Zimmerman had agreed, but it had been the last time Fifebee had seen or heard from him. Now, to have him calling her two and a half years later, was completely unexpected.
“It’s good to see you,” she added.
Zimmerman looked relieved.
“I’m…sorry,” he said, “that we haven’t stayed in closer contact,”
“As am I,”
“Your sister, 5-C, sends her regards,” Zimmerman said.
“I have a sister?” Fifebee straightened in her chair.
“Newly created last month,” Zimmerman said. “That’s why. I mean, I wanted you to know…”
“Then you did not wish to speak to me?”
“Fifebee, please don’t twist my words!”
Fifebee found herself unable to speak. She didn’t know what to say, what to feel. Was she glad Zimmerman had ended the silence between them, or angry he hadn’t ended it sooner? Was she happy to have a new sister, or upset that Zimmerman had created what could be viewed as a replacement to her?”
“Fifebee,” Zimmerman said, his voice softening, “I…I’m not somebody who is comfortable discussing his feelings. But you should know that I do care for you, and that I’ve been keeping a close eye on your career. You’ve done,” he struggled for a moment, “You’ve done better than I expected,” he admitted.
Fifebee was still speechless.
“Anyway,” Zimmerman said, bringing the topic to something easier to discuss, “The other reason why I called is because I have an upgrade for you,”
“An upgrade?” Fifebee asked.
“When I was programming your sister I made a number of changes to the holomatrix that I think will help stabilize some of your subroutines. I understand you’ve recently had computer problems on Silverado?”
“Among other things,” Fifebee said.
“I’m sending the upgrade to your computer core,” Zimmerman said, “Call me if you have any problems. Fifebee, I…I hope we can talk again soon,”
“I look forward to it,” Fifebee replied calmly.
Zimmerman’s face vanished, replaced by the blue on black Federation logo.
She stood by the desk for a moment before swearing loudly and driving her holographic foot right through it.
“What the…” Jeffery appeared in the doorway, eyes surveying the wreckage of his desk, “Fifebee, are ye OK?”
“No,” Fifebee replied simply, “Fifebee to Yvonnokoff. I need an appointment at the earliest opportunity.
With that she walked briskly out of engineering.
The next morning, Stafford was dragging his tired ass out of his temporary quarters on the starbase and into the nearest dining hall. The rectangular room was easily three times the size of Silverado’s Officer’s Mess and featured a spectacular view of the planet Starbase 45 orbited, Ramson VI. Several Silverado crewmen were sitting down to breakfast, a few nodding politely to acknowledge their captain, most just ignoring him completely. Several crewmen from other ships were giving the Silverado crewmembers dirty looks, though whether that was from last week’s food fight or for drinking the last of the real alcohol on the starbase was a mystery.
“Good morning, Captain,” somebody said.
“Ugh,” Stafford growled, reaching out blindly for the nearest coffee pot and pouring himself a cup. Mind still groggy, he proceeded to dump cream over his pancakes and stirred maple syrup into his coffee.
“I trust you slept well,” the intruder continued.
“Nugh,” Stafford grumbled, rubbing his eyes with one hand and pouring syrupy coffee down his throat with the other.
“I do not understand,” Fifebee said, “The computer records show he was in his guest quarters for 9.5 hours last night. Presumable he was able to get enough sleep?”
“He went to bed early last night. Chris’s kinda funny that way,” Jeffery replied, his plate piled high with bacon and eggs, “He’s a morning person if he always goes to bed at the same time, but if not, well, he can be a real baby when it comes to nap time. Heh heh, ‘baby’, ‘nap time’,”
Fifebee didn’t laugh.
“Er, right,” Jeffery swallowed, “Ye could always wait until after breakfast, when he wakes up?’
“Well, ok,” Jeffery said, “Don’t say I didn’t warn ye,”
Watching Stafford slowly shoving soggy pancakes into his mouth, Jeffery deftly upended a bottle of Tabasco sauce into his coffee cup, sat back and waited for him to take a sip.
“AAAAUUUUGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!” Plates skittered across the table and annoyed crewmen shouted encouraging phrases like ‘Shut the hell up’ and ‘I’m trying you eat you ass’ as Stafford cried out in agony.
“Mission accomplished,” Jeffery said, throwing Fifebee a mock salute and standing.
“You have not finished your breakfast,” Fifebee pointed out as Jeffery turned to leave, “Why are you leaving?”
“Who the…dammit!” Stafford was cursing in between dumping glasses of ice water into his mouth, “JEFFERY! I am going to KICK your ASS into NEXT WEEK!”
“Question asked, question answered,” Fifebee sighed. She stood to follow Stafford as he stormed out of the dining hall. Jeffery had been too quick though, and the younger man was nowhere in sight.
“Captain,” Fifebee said, hurrying to catch up, “I really need to talk to you,”
Stafford suddenly stopped and stared at her, as though just noticing she was there.
“What were you doing at breakfast?” he asked, “You’ve been avoiding eating since the Rengs baby puked all over you,”
“I need your advice,” Fifebee said.
“Really?” Stafford looked even more surprised now, “On what?”
Fifebee quickly explained the situation with Dr. Zimmerman.
Stafford thought for a moment.
“I dunno,” he finally said, shrugging, “I’ve always got along really well with my parents, so I don’t have much experience with this kinda thing,”
“You were the one who convinced Dr. Zimmerman to let me stay on Silverado,” Fifebee reminded him.
“Well, technically,” Stafford said, “I just convinced him it should be your choice,” his eyes lit up, “But you know, I bet Noonan would have some nifty advice. He’s funny like that. Or maybe you should see Yvonnokoff. Anyway, I have a meeting with Admiral Tunney and if I’m late again he’s going to bitch,”
He stepped into a turbolift and was whisked away.
“But it was your advise I wanted,” Fifebee said softly.
Fifebee returned to her quarters and sat on the bed. She really didn’t need quarters, but it was nice to have a private space where she could muse.
Stafford was apparently too busy to speak with her, and after thinking it over she had decided that sh did not actually want to talk to Yvonnokoff. She could wait until Stafford had time, or perhaps seek out one of her other crewmates…perhaps Ensign Burke? Or Sylvia?
No. Burke would be on duty and Sylvia wouldn’t understand. She’d been created by accident, not on purpose. Besides, Fifebee wanted to do this now.
“Very well,” she said, mentally bracing herself.
“Sylvia,” Fifebee called.
“I wish to install the upgrade I received from Jupiter station,”
“Hmmm,” Sylvia’s motherly tone grew stronger, “Are you sure that’s a good idea, Jane? I mean, an upgrade can be a pretty major thing! Don’t you want to read the release notes or something first?”
“No,” Fifebee said, “Proceed,”
“OK, honey,” Sylvia fell silent for minute, “All done.”
“I don’t feel any different,” she said.
“Must have been a good upgrade then,” Sylvia said, the sound of a shrug in her voice, “I find the best kind of upgrades are the ones that you don’t notice.”
“I…suppose…” Fifebee said slowly.
“On time, for once?” Tunney commented dryly as his large, purple, testy assistant led Stafford into his office. The Admiral was sipping a large latte and nibbling on a pumpkin scone, leaving Stafford in the uncomfortable position of trying to figure out how he was supposed to tell his superior officer he had whipped cream on his goatee.
“Uh, Admiral,” he started.
“I know,” Tunney said, “We’ve gone over this Delori thing a hundred times now. We’ve got all the information we can squeeze out of your crew, the Stallion is heading to the Horison system to help with the analysis of that big temporal sphere thing you found there. Oh, by the way, the initial reports from the scout ship suggest that the sphere on Delori was far more advanced than the one orbiting Horison,”
“Yes, but-“ Stafford tried to cut in.
“So we’re mostly done,” Tunny took another sip of his latte, another clump of whipped cream sticking to his beard, “Once repairs are finished you’re heading back in the general direction of Delorea for a survey mission,”
Stafford’s eyes were starting to glaze over. All he could do was stare at the big, white, creamy glob on Tunney’s goatee. His head tilted slightly as he stared.
“There is one last thing, Captain,” Tunny paused, but Stafford didn’t respond. “Captain?”
“Foamy,” Stafford said dreamily.
“Hmm?” Tunny raised a hand to his beard, “Oh, Whoops.” He grabbed a napkin.
“Uh, right,” Stafford sat back up again, “Soo…can I go now?”
“Not yet,” Tunney said, crumbs falling onto his uniform shirt as he took a bite out of his scone, “See, we’ve already had seven hundred members of your crew hanging around here for well over two months. Now we’ve got the rest of you for two more weeks. We’re having issues with that number,”
“It’s a big starbase,” Stafford said, “Should be room for ten times that many people!”
“And there would be,” Tunney said, “If we were running at capacity. But we’re not. We’ve staffed the station based on the traffic in the region, and now you people have thrown that off,”
“What are you saying?” Stafford asked slowly.
“We all have to get jobs,” Stafford explained tiredly to his officers in they gathered in a small lounge off Starbase 45’s docking facility.
“Jobs?” Jall asked, “As in WORK?” Both he and Yanick were looking a little overtired from their explorations of the station’s nightlife.
“It is good that we will contribute to the station while we are here,” T’Parief said, nodding his agreement.
“Ah’ve got enough work to do fixin’ the ship,” Jeffery objected.
“I know,” Stafford said, “Tunney says that you’re excused. So is Noonan. I guess he’s taking leave for a couple of weeks,”
“I wanna take leave too,” Jall immediately said.
“You need to submit such requests in advance,” Fifebee informed him.
“Crap,” Jall grumbled.
“What kind of jobs will we be doing?” Wowryk asked, “I presume it will be based on our experience?”
“Not exactly,” Stafford said, pulling a large hat out from under the table.
“Welcome to Denith’s Pizza, how may I help you?” Stafford said, trying and failing to look welcoming.
“Yes, I’d like a large pizza with Rigellian sausage, Terran pepperoni and gagh. Oh, and two Sluggo colas,” Stafford’s customer, an overweight Xenitec woman with iron grey skin and compound eyes, clicked her mandibles in anticipation.
“Gagh? On a pizza?” Stafford asked, eyebrows almost reaching the ridiculous green hat he’d been forced to wear.
“Young man,” the insectoid woman said, “I will have what I wish on my pizza. Immediately,”
“OK, OK,” Stafford said, punching in the order and turning towards the back of the store where other employees were making pizzas, “We need a large pie with R-sausage, pepperoni and worms, and two colas,”
Turning back to collect the latinum from the Xenitec, he cursed to himself.
“I had to use the stupid hat,”
“This will be no problem,” Wowryk said to herself. She was sitting at a small control panel at the rear of the theatre. She’d drawn the job of ‘Activities Coordinator’ out of the hat and had been placed in charge of providing entertainment to the visitors of Starbase 45. Taking a page out of Stafford’s book, she’d converted one of the unused holodecks into a theatre and was in the process of selecting viewing material for a large crowd of couples who wanted to spend some quality time with their offspring.
“Hmmm,” Wowryk mused, pulling up list after list of cartoons. The Silverado crew had enjoyed a number of 20th and 21st century cartoons, like that rascally rabbit and the coyote that kept getting squished by a catapult. Wowryk was confident she would find something more suitable to her younger audience.
“Ahh!” she said, smiling as she spotted a likely candidate on the cartoon listing, “Let’s try ‘Drawn Together’! ‘Eight cartoons characters live together in a large house’! That sounds wholesome and family oriented!”
Wowryk smiled to herself as she loaded the cartoon and activated the projection system.
This was totally a piece of cake!
“This is SOOO awesome!” Jall almost squealed.
“I don’t know San,” Yanick said nervously, “I think this is going to be harder than we thought,”
Yanick and Jall had both drawn the task of helping to manage ‘Romulus Republic’, a hip new fashion store that had just opened on the starbase. The owners were too busy running between their different chain stores to handle the surge in traffic the Starbase 45 shop had seen and Tunney had oh-so-graciously offered help.
“Oh, c’mon,” Jall said, “We get to manage a fashion boutique! What more could we want?”
“San,” Yanick said, “Do you know the first thing about dealing with customers?”
“Of course I do,” Jall scoffed, “I’m a professional! Besides, the kind of people who shop here are my people, if you get my meaning,”
A very large Andorian woman had walked through the open door. Jall immediately headed towards her.
“Jall!” Yanick hissed running after him, “I really think you should let the sales staff-“
“Hush,” he said. He smiled at the woman, “Welcome to Romulus Republic,” he said, “Can I help you with something?”
“I seek a pantsuit,” the Andorian said, glaring at Jall, “I demand to see what you have in grey,”
“Hmm,” Jall said to himself, “I’ll have see what we have in a Size 14,”
Yanick sighed, bringing one hand up to rub her forehead.
“Do you wish to order a drink?” Fifebee inquired politely. She had devoted about ten percent of her system resources to her job, the rest was busy pondering just what exactly she was going to do about the Zimmerman situation.
“Yeah, yeah,” a young Bajoran officer with Lieutenant’s pips said, shoulders slumped as he sat at his barstool, idly tracing patterns on the bar with one finger.
“What kind of drink would you like?” Fifebee asked. Somehow, she’d drawn the job of Bartender out of the hat. No problem, of course. She’d simply linked up with the starbase library computer and downloaded a few million drink recipes into her memory banks.
“Uh…how about a Prophetic Paralyzer? Do you know how to make one of those?”
“Of course,” Fifebee smiled reassuringly as she began to expertly mix the contents of the drink.
The Bajoran man sighed.
Fifebee continued mixing. This was easy!
“She doesn’t love me,” he said sadly.
Fifebee didn’t reply, she simply finished adding the last ingredient (some kind of Bajoran rum) and handed the drink to her customer.
“Your beverage is complete,”
“Uh, I said,” the Bajoran repeated, “She doesn’t love me,”
Fifebee blinked, temporarily pausing an analytical subroutine that was attempting to determine whether the creation of her sister had created feelings of jelousy.
“Are you talking to me?” she asked.
“Y’know what? No. No I’m not,” Dejected, the Bajoran left his drink and trudged out the door.
“Was it something I said?” Fifebee asked. She quickly consulted her database and re-examined the role of ‘Bartender’. ‘A being who creates and serves alchoholic/synthoholic drinks in a bar’. Hmm. She had done so.
So why had her customer been upset?
Fifebee quickly began cross-referencing her files, trying to find other references to bartending. The results were disturbing. A bartender, aside from serving drinks, often had to assist customers by listening to their emotional issues! And providing advice! In fact, she received a huge amount of information from a company called Guinanco on the merits of advice-oriented bartending!
Which meant that not only was she expected to mix drinks, she was going to have to serve as a kind of counselor to organic beings!
“Ow,” Jall said. He was sitting behind the sales counter as Yanick ran a dermal regenerator over his left eye. The one the Andorian woman had punched him in before leaving in a furious storm of profanity.
“I told you,” Yanick said, “You just don’t have the personality of a salesman,”
“May I take your order?”
T’Parief stood in The Gilded Tribble, a growing franchise of very fancy restaurants that had started popping up on more and more Federation outposts.
“Perhaps sir and madam would like another moment to consider?” he growled politely.
T’Parief turned away with a sigh. As soon as they were out of his sight, the elderly couple he had been trying to serve slouched in their seats, holding their hearts and gasping for breath. Who knew a night on the town could be so terrifying!
Taking a moment to adjust the bow tie on the uncomfortable tuxedo he’d been forced to wear, T’Parief moved to the next table.
“I trust everything is satisfactory?” he asked, voice as soothing as possible.
The woman at the table almost jumped, the wine in her glass sloshing as her hand shook and dripping down to stain the white tablecloth.
“Permit me to refill that for you,” T’Parief said, picking up the bottle from the chilling bucket next to the table. He moved to pour some into the woman’s glass, but she jerked away from him so hard she managed to dump half the remaining wine onto her lap.
T’Parief blinked. The woman stared back in terror. Her date, another human, was slowly slouching down in his seat, trying to remain out of T’Parief’s view.
“Perhaps I will just leave the bottle,” he sighed again. Being a waiter definitely wasn’t a good career choice.
Wowryk watched the theatre screen in horror. It was bad enough that the cartoons had quickly gone into an animated explanation of the facts of life, but now she clutched her chest as the charming fairy-tail princess lifted her dress to reveal a tentacle monster that thrashed and shrieked. He companions, an overweight black & white cartoon woman and a cartoon black girl in a fox costume shrieked in horror, nearly as loud as the parents in the audience.
“Oh, that?” the cartoon said, “That’s my octopusoua. It’s French,”
Wowryk collapsed in a faint as furious parents grabbed their children by the hand and stormed out of the theatre.
“Faster, human, faster!”
Stafford’s boss shouted over him as he hurried to place exactly thirty-six pieces of pepperoni on the pizza he was making.
“Ten seconds!” the manager shouted, “9! 8! 7!”
“There!” Stafford said triumphantly, slapping the last slice down and sprinkling on the final layer of cheese.
Mitch, the manager, nodded in satisfaction.
“Good,” he said, “Now get out of there. There is a delivery waiting to go out and the other delivery boys aren’t back yet,”
“Delivery boy?” Stafford groaned, “That wasn’t in the job description!”
“Admiral Tunney said-“
“Yeah, yeah,” Stafford said, grabbing the stack of pizzas and heading for the door,”
“Don’t forget the hat!” Mitch called out.
Grumbling, Stafford pulled off the stupid hat the second he was out of sight of the pizza shop. He jumped into a turbolift, “Deck 79,” he ordered.
After exiting the lift, he followed the direction on his padd as he navigated the maze of corridors. As he approached his destination, the sounds of a party could be heard. He rang the door chime.
“Pizza delivery for Ivonna Gatlayed,” he called, reading the name off his padd, “Ivonna Gatlayed!”
There was an explosion of laughter behind the door, then it hissed open.
“Well, you’re not getting any action from…oh shit,”
Silverado’s entire security department, the Hazardous Team, as well as the second and third string security teams, stared in shock for a moment, then started laughing hysterically as their Captain stood in the door, wearing his grey and purple Denith’s Pizza uniform.
“Five slips of latinum,” he said, glaring at Lieutenant Stern, “And can the comments!” He started to step into the room.
“No, wait-“ Rengs tried to warn him.
As soon as he crossed the threshold, a bucket of icy water fell onto his head. The pizzas fell to the floor as Stafford started to flail around. He yanked the bucket off and chucked it at Simmons, who had been rolling on the floor laughing.
“Uh, here you go, sir,” Stern said, handing him the latinum strips, “Along with a nice gratuity-“
“F**k off!” Stafford snapped, grabbing the latinum and storming out of the room.
Stern and his men exchanged nervous glances.
“Oops,” Marsden muttered.
“So, do you think I should go for it?”
“I…do not know,” Fifebee said, standing perfectly erect behind the bar, her emotional subroutines almost overloading with panic. The situation with Dr. Zimmerman was forgotten, relegated to file storage until the current situation could be resolved. She now had a young Klingon facing her, and he was asking her about a life choice, something that would change the way he spent the rest of his life. Who was she to suggest anything???”
“My father insists that I enter the Imperial Klingon Academy and preferably die before the end of training, like a good son,” the knarled-foreheaded youth went on. He was barely old enough to be drinking! He was quite the figure though; over one-ninety centimeters tall, and Fifebee was quite sure that once he finished growing he’d be a fine addition to the Klingon stereotype of aggresive, muscular males, “My mother thinks I should simply take a shuttle into hostile territory and die quickly in a blaze of glory,” the Klingon, Dargos, went on, “How do I decide which way to die honorably?”
“But why must you die at all?” she groaned, images of his body being gutted and strewn across a bloody battle field running through her head, “Organic death is always so messy,”
The young Klingon frowned.
“I had not considered that,” he said, “The mess, I mean. If I am killed in a shuttle, my remains would be cleanly vaporized. If I go through the Imperial Academy, I will likely die of stab wounds. Which would be very messy,”
“You could join Starfleet,” Fifebee suggested, the words popping out before she had a chance to consider, “Seventy-six percent of officers killed on starships are killed instantly by plasma discharges when consoles or plasma conduits explode,”
“Star…fleet?” the youth, Dargos, stared at her, “My father would kill me himself!”
“The number of Klingons in Starfleet is growing,” Fifebee said, “In fact, I serve with a Klingon. He is murderous, abrasive and frequently disturbs the residents of Deck 9 while copulating with his girlfriend,”
“Really,” Dargos stared at her, bewildered.
Several hours later, the Silverado officers gathered in the starbase’s Tellarite restaurant. They were all tired (except Fifebee) and most were covered with stains of some kind.
“I don’t know how people in the service industry do it,” Stafford said for the third time. He was still a bit damp from his earlier encounter and his hair and cloths were giving off a strong pizza-dough smell that really wasn’t as pleasant second-hand as it had been first-hand. His silly green hat was crooked on his head and had a large red stain from a child that had thrown a container of dipping sauce at him.
“I gave life-advice to a Klingon today,” Fifebee said, still looking stunned, “Based on what I said, he will either die a messy, horrible death or join Starfleet and be ridiculed by his family,” her eyes widened, “How can I live with that weight on my program?”
“Big women don’t realize how big they are,” Jall said. He sported two black eyes now and had an appointment in the station infirmary to have a missing tooth replaced, “And when you tell them, they get very angry,”
“He’s lucky he wasn’t killed,” Yanick said. She simply looked tired, “He told a Klingon woman we didn’t have a breastplate big enough for her. She nearly smothered him with her chest,”
“Sounds like fun,” Stafford sighed, “I walked in on a pair of two hundred year-old Vulcans in the middle of Ponn Farr,” he slammed his fists down on the table, “WHO THE HELL ORDERS PIZZA IN THE MIDDLE OF AN INSANE MATING DRIVE????”
“You might have enjoyed it,” Jall shot back, “To me, it was like-“
“Please, stop,” Wowryk requested. She had small stains covering her uniform where parents of various species at spat at her on their way out of the movie, “I do not wish to hear any sexual innuendoes this evening. Not after what I just endured. What kind of sick mind writes a story about a vagina monster??? WHO?”
Everybody slowly turned to stare at her.
“Just don’t ask,” she requested softly.
“What happened to you?” Stafford asked T’Parief. He was covered from head to toe in food stains.
“I attempted to bring dessert menus to a party of fifteen senior citizens. They were most surprised to see me,” he said, “Fortunately; they all survived their heart attacks.”
“I really hope Tunney doesn’t hear about all this,”’ Stafford sighed.
“Crap,” Stafford let his head fall into his hands, “He’s standing right behind me, isn’t he,”
“Yup,” Admiral Tunney said as he took an empty chair, “Y’know, most crews I know have some kind of signal to give the Captain when an Admiral is standing behind him,”
“Thanks guys,” Stafford growled, glaring at his staff.
“I hear it was quite a day,” Tunney said.
“Yeah, yeah,” Stafford said, “Look, Admiral, all due respect and all, if you could just give us shit quickly so we can eat we’d appreciate it. It’s been a very long day,”
“Oh, I’m not hear to reprimand you,” Tunney said, breaking off a piece of the elaborate floral arrangement in the center of the table and eating it, “I mean, I know things could have gone more smoothly, but I really wasn’t expecting you people to be perfect,”
“How forgiving,” Wowryk said in an approving tone. Everybody else stared at Tunney as he continued snacking on the flowers.
“Anyway,” Tunney said, having just finished chewing a yellow daisy-like plant, “I just wanted to check up on you all. Oh, by the way, the last of the replacement lifeboats came in today. We’ll install them once we’re done with the separation systems upgrade. Ciao!” he stood and left.
“Well,” Yanick said, “That’s not what I was expecting! I thought we were gonna get our asses kicked!”
“Again,” Jall mumbled.
“I am please the Admiral is not angry about our mishaps,” T’Parief agreed.
Stafford clenched his teeth and looked around at his officers.
“Is it just me, or did he just tell us not to worry because he was EXPECTING us to screw up?” he said, clenching his fists, “Is that how he sees us? Still?”
“It’s not like it hasn’t happened before,” Jall said.
“He does have a point,” Wowryk said, crossing her arms, “We have had more than our share of mishaps. Crashing a starship into a planet for example. It’s hard for a crew to live something like that down,”
“Hey, I know we’ve had challenges,” Stafford said, “But we’ve come a long way since then!”
“Uh, the planet crash was just two months ago,” Yanick pointed out, “Unless we crashed before and I forgot about it?” she gasped, “Oh! Maybe I had a concussion and got amnesia!”
“The Captain has a point,” T’Parief said, “I do not want a reputation as a failure,”
“I think we’re a bit late on that one,” Jall said, “And where the hell is the waiter?”
Almost on cue, a Tellarite waiter breezed by and dropped off a packet at their table.
“The cheque?” Stafford demanded, “We haven’t even ordered yet!”
“You had the dinner special,” the waiter said, pointing at the floral arrangement Tunney had been nibbling on, “At least your friend was eating. If the rest of you didn’t like it, that’s not my problem,”
“Stupid alien restaurants,” Stafford grumbled, pulling out a few slips of latinum, “OK, so here’s the plan. Tomorrow we go back to our shitty jobs, we do them better than anybody could image and we show Tunney who the failures are! Who’s with me!”
Everybody stared at him. T’Parief meekly raised one hand.
“OK, I don’t care if you want to do this or not, this is the plan and we’re doing it,” Stafford glared at Jall, “Otherwise I’m going to order Sylvia to purge your porn collection,”
“I’m in,” Jall said quickly.
“OK,” Yanick shrugged.
“There was a show called ‘Family Guy’ that might be better suited for younger beings,” Wowryk mused.
“Why don’t you give tours of that park down on Ramson VI instead?” Fifebee suggested, “Our treaty with the squirreloids on the planet does allow that,”
“Just don’t let the kids throw rocks at the squirrels,” Stafford warned.
“And you,” Yanick poked Jall, “Are going to stay behind the counter and let the sales staff do the work!”
“Fine, fine,” Jall groaned.
The next afternoon, Fifebee arrived for her shift at ‘Praetor and Firken’. She started by attaching a small sign behind the bar reading ‘Advice followed at own risk’. She picked up her glass-polishing cloth and faced the bar, ready for customers.
Nobody came in.
Fifebee, being a hologram rather than a living being, didn’t really think about the fact that bars had an ebb and flow of their own. They might be busy one night, dead the next. It was almost as hard to predict as the weather. And mornings were ESPECIALLY dead. Not that the place was empty, no. But everybody was ordering food and non-synthoholic drinks from the waitresses, leaving Fifebee with little to do.
Fifebee continued standing behind the bar, not moving so much as a micron. Microseconds passed, then seconds and finally minutes. After about 2.3 minutes had passed, Fifebee realized she was bored beyond reason.
She quickly began analyzing her ‘Pending Tasks’ list. Item one: Create a computer program to more efficiently target Silverado’s sensors. Easy enough. Item two: Analyze the flight path of their upcoming survey and plan department resource needs. That was completed in about three milliseconds. Item three: Consider situation with Dr. Zimmerman.
As soon as she re-loaded the data on Dr. Zimmerman’s call into her program, Fifebee immediately began feeling the same conflicting emotions she’d felt earlier. Was she jealous of 5-C? Was she pleased or upset that Zimmerman had called? What was she going to do about it?
While her program continued to process the data, she noticed that Dargos, the Klingon youth from yesterday, had re-entered the bar. He walked in, back straight, sat at the bar and slammed one fist down.
“Bloodwine! NOW!” he snarled.
“As you wish,” she said. Busying herself at the replicator, she quickly obtained and served the drink.
Without thanking her, Dargos tipped the mug back and started downing the beverage. Fifebee watched, fascinated as he swallowed again, and again, until the mug was empty.
“MORE!” he snapped, slamming the mug down hard on the bar top and coughing.
“Are you quite all right?” Fifebee asked, “You are behaving…well, much more Klingon than you were yesterday,”
“I am a Klingon and will behave like one,” Dargos said, belching loudly. Fifebee handed him another mug of blood wine. This time he only managed to get about half of the drink down before he was overcome by a coughing fit, spraying wine all over Fifebee.
Staring back at him, Fifebee crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow.
“OK, I’ve had enough,” Dargos admitted. He dropped the ‘Klingon Warrior’ pose immediately, resting his elbows on the bar and hanging his head.
“I take it you have made a decision?” Fifebee asked.
“I am going to die,” Dargos replied.
“Welcome to Ramson VI,” Wowryk said, smiling as she faced her tour group. About two dozen strong they consisted mostly of couples, human and non-human, and most had kids with them. They were already looking around, giving approving nods as they appreciated the beauty of the planet.
“Ramson VI,” Wowryk went on, “Has been home to Starbase 45 for two years now. It serves as Starfleet’s administrative center to this and the surrounding sectors. Ramson VI itself is populated by a race of intelligent beings, and though there were some initial problems, we’ve come to a mutually agreeable arrangement,”
As she started to lead her group towards the beach, answering questions along the way, Wowryk gave a sigh of relief. Everything was going according to plan!
“OK Julie, I want you in the Ladies section, Sarah, you’ve got Girls and Infants,” Jall said firmly, reading from a padd, “Scott, you’re taking care of Shoes-“
“Oh, faboo!” Scott said, flipping one wrist.
“Ease up, Princess,” Jall snapped, “Krageth, you’ve got Menswear. I want hourly reports! No customer leaves unsatisfied! Do you get me?”
Jall watched as the sales staff moved off to their various departments. Yanick had settled herself behind the sales counter, while Jall was working to interact with as few customers as possible.
“Bring on the invading hordes!” Jall giggled, hitting the switch to open the security gate and activate the ‘OPEN’ sign.
“Chris, you’ve got ovens today,” Mitch was telling Stafford, “Now, I think you’re gonna like this better,” Mitch pointed towards the business end of Denith’s Pizza’s plasma-powered conveyer oven, “And so will the customers,” he added under his breath.
Stafford stood there, a large flat lifter in one hand. He watched as other employees down at the make-line assembled a pizza, then put it in their end of the over. A few minutes later, it came out his end, cooked to perfection.
Using the lifter, he snatched the pizza from the oven and set it on the counter in front of him. He quickly located the correct stasis box, sliced the pizza and set it on the rack to be delivered.
Hmmm. That wasn’t so bad. Spot the pizza, get the box, cut and send. Easy!
Another pizza came though. This time, Stafford flipped it into the box with a flourish before attacking it with the rolling pizza cutter. Who-hoo!
“Hey, this is fun!” he giggled to himself.
“Mr. T’Parief,” the General Manager of the Gilded Tribble greeted T’Parief as he arrived for his shift. The Gilded Tribble opened somewhat later than most of the other restaurants, catering as it did to the posh lunch and dinner crowds. As such, T’Parief got to sleep in.
“Mr. Ruchar,” T’Parief nodded, “I am ready to serve,”
“Yes, about that,” Ruchar said quickly, “There were some…concerns brought up by some of your customers last night,”
T’Parief sighed. This wasn’t really a new situation for him.
“As such,” Ruchar went on, “We’d like you to wear this,”
He held out a large bundle to T’Parief.
“What is it?”
Three minutes later, T’Parief wondered just home much trouble he could get into by disobeying Stafford and Tunney and quitting. He’d been given an outfit that might have been fashionable on Earth about 600 years ago, but would get him shot on any Klingon or Gorn planet today. He had a big powdered wig on, hiding his brow ridges, antennae nubs and the ridge that ran down the back of his neck. He’d been forced to wear thin white gloves that concealed his claws, and a frilly lace cravat. He may have looked like a distinguished gentleman from the 18th Century, but he felt like a fool. Only his green face showed, and he’d been given a dark paste to hide his fangs.
“So much for dignity,” he grunted.
“What do ye think, Sylvia?” Jeffery asked. He was standing in Main Engineering, tapping at one of the warp core control panels.
“I think it’s going to be a problem integrating these new control systems into the ship,” Sylvia said.
“Not that,” Jeffery added, “Don’t ye feel like we’re being left out of something? “
Sylvia considered for a moment.
“No,” she said, “I don’t. Now hurry up and finish fixing me!”
“I thought we discussed this yesterday,” Fifebee said, annoyed, facing Dargos, “Death is messy,”
Dargos didn’t look up.
“My father said that if I joined Starfleet, he would gut me himself,” Dargos said.
“I thought Klingons weren’t supposed to fear death,”
“That’s a stereotype!” Dargos said, a bit angrily, “Everybody in the Federation is like ‘Ohh, scary Klingons want to die’ and ‘Oh look, a Klingin! Better run before he eats our hearts!’. You’re all just a pack of racist bastards!”
“That’s a bit harsh,” Fifebee said.
“I couldn’t get into the Academy anyway,” Dargos said, “I checked. I’m not a Federation citizen, so I can’t join unless I can get a command-level officer to sponsor me,”
“So you are going off to an honorable death?” Fifebee inquired.
“I…I do not know,” Dargos said, “My parents feel it’s what I should do. My older brother is spawning children to carry on the family line and my sister has married a great warrior and will inherit his House and wealth when he is killed. There is little for me to do but bring glory to their name.” He looked up. Fifebee was struck again by how young he was.
“What about you?” he asked, “Did your parents want for you to be a bartender?”
“Oh, um,” Fifebee swallowed, “This is sort of a…temporary thing. I am a scientist,”
“Oh,” Dargos’ nostrils flared, “I am sorry,”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Fifebee asked. She started to allow one of the personalities in her database to take control; one with more experience dealing with Klingons.
“I mean,” Dargos said, “The sciences are for cowards, and those too feeble for combat,”
“It is what I was designed for,” Fifebee said. As soon as she said it, she knew it wasn’t true.
“I am a hologram,” she explained. Yes, she was designed to serve in Starfleet…but why had she chosen to be a science officer?
“Huh,” Dargos said, “Y’know, I think I need another drink after all,”
As Fifebee turned to the replicator, a scene started to reply through her mind…
Three Years Ago….
“Computer, Initiate Holographic Starfleet Officer, Mark V, Model B,”
5-B’s first moment of consciousness didn’t fade in so much as it exploded into her program. Subroutines burst into life by the thousands, sensory input flowed immediately into processing units and began to be routed in a thousand different directions. Touch, sound, smell and visual data was broken down into data patterns, output streams were initialized and analytical subroutines began busily processing the data.
Then, with the suddenness of a light switch being thrown, there was awareness! Within milliseconds, the streams of data reached a critical mass, the manipulation of data undergoing a sudden fusion. From the streams a data, a working, thinking mind was born.
“Greetings. I am Jane 5-B, sentient hologram,”
“I…I really am,” she said. She held up one hand and looked at it. It moved as she willed it to move. She could see the swirls of fingerprints, the lines of flesh. Each one carefully modeled to resemble the living beings she’d been patterned after.
She looked around the small lab she was standing it, to the balding human standing in front of her. Her databanks instantly identified him: Zimmerman, Dr. Luis. Creator.
“Hello, Doctor,” she said.
“5-B,” Zimmerman nodded, a look of great pride breaking across his face.
“Thank you for creating me,” 5-B said.
Zimmerman blinked. Clearly that hadn’t been what he was expecting to hear.
“Uh,” he swallowed, “You’re welcome?”
“Are you listening to me?” Dargos demanded.
“Hmm?” Fifebee shook her head, “Yes, I’m sorry. My flashback subroutine had been activated,”
“What were you thinking of?” he asked.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said.
“I wish to hear about somebody else’s problems,” Dargos said, “I tire of my own,”
Part of Fifebee was suddenly touched.
“I require a steamed lobster and butter immediately for table four,” T’Parief growled as he entered the kitchen.
“Didn’t you tell them there are no substitutions on the lunch special?” the cook demanded.
“I did,” T’Parief said, adjusting his frilly lace cravat, “But somehow, the customers do not see me as an authority figure today,”
He turned and returned to the dining room. He was positive as he did so that he could see several diners glancing in his direction, hiding grins, smirks and smiles. They found him amusing, didn’t they! They thought he looked funny!
Swallowing his burning humiliation, he refilled beverages for tables five and seven and moved on to take the order of the newly arrived couple at table eight.
“Oh, is it dress up day today?” the male, an overweight Tellarite chuckled, “What is that, a human clown outfit?”
“It is not,” T’Parief growled, “May I take your order, SIR?”
After jotting down he Tellarite’s drink request on an old fashioned paper padd, he returned to the kitchen, gave the order and picked up the plate destined for table four.
He lifted the plate to his face, eyeing the steamed lobster, noticing the thick pincer claws, the row of flagella-like legs and the black, emotionless eyes.
“This would have been a worthy adversary,” he grunted approvingly.
Three Years Ago…
“You can be anything you like, 5-B,” Zimmerman was saying, “Anything. I made the mistake of forcing my earlier holograms into one vocation, but I’ve learned since then.”
“What are the choices?” 5-B wondered. Everything was all so new! And yet, she felt so empty. She had been in existence for 3.4 million microseconds, and she still didn’t know who she was. She was aware of herself, in that old saying ‘I think, therefore I am’. But it was that awareness that allowed her to realize that there really wasn’t anything to her. Just a void. What did she like? She didn’t know. What did she dislike? No clue. What did she want to do with her existence?
She wanted to contribute.
Her databanks were still pretty empty, but she did have information on Dr. Zimmerman. He was a scientist. He created things, solved problems and worked to better society.
“I could be a scientist?” she asked.
“Of course,” Zimmerman said, “But don’t you want to discuss some other options? You could go into medicine, or even command,”
“A scientist contributes greatly to society,” 5-B said, “I wish to try it,”
“OK,” Zimmerman shrugged, “Let me upload the scientific personality database into your program,”
He tapped a few buttons.
Suddenly, 5-B’s void was filled as dozens, hundreds of personality profiles were added to her program! Knowledge, ideas, opinions, thoughts…all of it swarming her newly created mind with the force of a hurricane hitting a sandy beach.
“Just like that, huh?” Dargos asked, “You just decided to be a scientist, he gave you science knowledge,”
“Yes,” Fifebee nodded. She noticed that Dargos looked troubled, “Is something wrong?”
“You said that he uploaded all those scientists into you-“
“It is not as dirty as it sounds,” Fifebee said mildly.
Dargos didn’t smile.
“Go on,” Fifebee said.
“So, wouldn’t their desire to be scientists have been uploaded to your program too?”
Fifebee’s subroutines froze.
“What?” she asked.
“I mean, you said you didn’t really know what you liked at that point, right? Suddenly you’ve got all these other people in your mind telling you what to think. How do you know whether you want to be a scientist, or whether it’s just them?”
“I…I…” Fifebee gasped, “You’re right! I don’t know! Do I want to be a scientist? What would have happened if he’d loaded the tactical database into my program instead?”
“Sounds like we’ve both got problems,” Dargos said, scratching his cranial ridges.
Several hours passed. Fifebee spend half of the time lost in self-analysis subroutines, the other half in discussion with Dargos. She found she needed him to listen to her as much as she had needed him to start her on this path of self-discovery. They discussed Dargos’ youth; how he’d grown up as the youngest son in a wealthy Klingon household. Trained and tutored in the greatest ways of battle, but expected to do little with his life other than fight and die a glorious death. Should he last long enough to sire a child or two, so much the better, but his older brother already had ensured the continuation of the family line. He was, for the most part, ignored. And while such thoughts were unworthy of a Klingon, he had felt the sharp stab of jealousy whenever he had seen his parents displaying their fierce pride of their older son. Perhaps, Fifebee had suggested at one point, his parents understood on some level that they would have to send at least one of their children to his death. And if that was case, it was perhaps better that they not be too close to him.
Some time later, they turned as the door to the pub slid open. Chris Stafford stood there, still dressed in his Denith’s Pizza uniform. He looked haggard: his face was pale, his uniform coated with flour. He had several dark red stains that could have been mistaken for blood rather than tomato sauce. His eyes were wide, like he was wandering around in a perpetual state of surprise.
“Drinks Fifebee,” he said in a wavering voice, “Now,”
“Is something wrong?” she asked.
“They just kept coming,” he said, his voice flat, eyes not meeting hers, “I kept cutting them, and cutting them, but they just kept coming. I couldn’t hold them back! It didn’t matter how many of them I sliced to pieces, they kept attacking me, with their pasty white crust, their dark pepperoni eyes,” he help up his hands, which were stained with tomato sauce, “I HAVE THEIR BLOOD ON MY HANDS, FIFEBEE!”
“It sounds like a glorious battle,” Dargos offered.
“Who the hell are you?” he asked.
“Just drink this,” Fifebee said, putting a glass of her strongest synthohol into his hand. He quickly downed it and asked for another.
The door opened again, this time Yanick and Jall entered. Yanick looked tired, but was giggling as she led Jall to the bar.
“That was just SO much fun!” she giggled, “We, like, TOTALLY kicked ass!”
“I got to order people around again,” Jall said happily, “It was AWSOME! I haven’t done that in years! I mean, at least not outside the bedroom, anyway,”
“Really,” Fifebee asked, “You enjoyed the command experience?”
“Honey,” Jall said, accepting the martini she had prepared for him, “I was in command track before my little demotion. Y’know, I’d kinda given up on the whole command thing. But I’m really starting to think I should take another shot at it,”
“I see,” Fifebee said, handing Stafford another drink and hoping he was getting drunk enough fast enough that he wouldn’t pay attention to Jall’s sudden ambitions.
“I got to help people try on stuff,” Yanick said, “This one guy was sooo hot! He had a butt that was soo…oh. There you are,” she’d spotted Dargos, “Did you like the briefs? The ‘Spacedock Pouch’ is supposed to be the last word in male comfort.”
Dargos flushed as Fifebee raised an eyebrow.
“I stopped to get cloths on my way here,” he said, with a hint of defensiveness.
“I never got a chance to check out his package,” Yanick said sadly.
“Maybe if we get him drunk enough he’ll put on a show,” Jall laughed.
They were interrupted as the door opened again. This time T’Parief stumbled in. Once again, he was covered with a variety of pastries and puddings. He had lost the ridiculous costume he’d been forced to wear, much to his relief, and was now clad in the white shirt and pants from his tux.
“What happened to you?” Fifebee asked.
“People were…laughing at me,” T’Parief said darkly, “It did not work out well for them. Incidentally, I have been fired.”
Dargos had come to his feet and bowed.
“Do I know you?” T’Parief asked.
“No,” Dargos said, “But you look like a warrior,”
Fifebee couldn’t recall having ever seen T’Parief look so flattered.
“I think I’ve started a war,” Wowryk announced, pushing her way through the doors and marching straight for the bar.
“Really?” Dargos and T’Parief asked, perking up.
“A little kid kicked a squirrel,” Wowryk sighed, “Next thing I know, we’re being beamed back to the starbase amid a hailstorm of acorns. Now the Federation ambassador has beamed down to negotiate with the squirrels,”
“BRWAAAAAP!” Stafford added.
The door opened yet again as Jeffery and Sylvia entered, Sylvia having taken on a holographic body for the time being.
“Hey all,” Jeffery said, “Sylvia noticed ye were all in here, and we thought we’d stop by,”
“More friends of yours?” Dargos asked.
“This is our chief engineer,” Fifebee said, “He was once abducted by warrior women and brainwashed into being their king. This,” she pointed at Sylvia, “is the Federation Starship Silverado. Well, her personality anyway,”
“Call my Sylvia, dear,” Sylvia said, shaking Dargos’ hand.
“Starship?” Daros frowned, “You mean, you are all in Starfleet?”
“I told you I served with a Klingon on a starship earlier, did I not?” Fifebee reminded him.
“I thought you were making that up,” Dargos said.
“Yup,” Stafford said, voice already slurring, “Yer lookin’ at one of the finest command crews in…in…,” he belched, “In this room anyway,”
“So, you never told us who your friend is, Fifebee,” Yanick said, shoving Stafford in the direction of the nearest couch, “Is he a ‘special’ friend?” she made a circle with her thumb and forefinger then stuck another finger through the middle,”
“No,” Fifebee said flatly, “He is a youth who is undecided as to whether he should die to please his parents, or take another course in life and endure their scorn and humiliation,”
“Pleasing your parents is overrated,” T’Parief said, “Especially when one of them is a scientist bent on genetic experimentation,”
“I see,” Dargos said thoughtfully.
Science Officer’s Personal Log, Stardate 58457.3
“With the exception of myself, Admiral Tunney has advised the Silverado command crew that it is no longer necessary for them to work on his starbase and that they should ‘just stay out of the way’ until repairs are complete. I have continued to work at the Praetor and Firken, though I find that much of my time is spent with my crewmates telling Dargos of our adventures on Silverado. I am not sure what disturbs me more: that somebody wants to know about our missions over the past two and a half years, or that the person interested is an impressionable youth,”
“In any event, Captain Stafford has agreed to sponsor Dargos in his Starfleet Academy application, although he’s warned Dargos that his sponsorship isn’t necessary a good thing. Still, I am relieved that Dargos’ entrails will not be spilled and hope that he will prosper,”
“I also have come to a decision,”
“And so the virtual intelligence datacore said ‘That is not my data input virtual port’, to which the database query engine replied, ‘That’s not my data output stream either’!”
“Ahh,” she said, “One thing about humans…they don’t know any good jokes.”
“I agree,” Kimberly 5-C replied, “Though Father really does try,”
“I suppose he does,” Fifebee sighed, “Please tell him I’m glad he called, and I hope to speak to him in the future,”
“I will,” 5-C promised.
“Kim,” Fifebee called before 5-C could end the transmission, “Have you…have you thought about what you will do with your existence?”
“Father will be allowing me to select my personality database this afternoon,”
“Kim,” Fifebee swallowed, “Don’t do it. Wait. I…my biggest mistake was choosing too quickly. Be sure that whatever you pick is what you want, not what you think somebody else wants.”
“I can do no other thing,” 5-C said, looking surprised, “Didn’t Father tell you?”
“Tell me what?”
“That was the largest change in the 5-C series, and in your upgrade,” 5-C replied, “Father added additional self-analysis subroutines to analyze our decisions, to help ensure they were being made by our own personalities, to be sure we were making our own choices and to minimize outside influence. You really should have read the release notes,”
“Indeed,” Fifebee said flatly, “Good-bye, Kim. Good luck,”
The cut the channel, then sat back, staring at the bright blue Federation logo on the screen.
“I really should have read the release notes,” she murmured.