Star Trek. Paramount, CBS and Viacome. Star Traks. Alan Decker Star Traks Silverado. Brendan Shuist Remember to use small sentences, some people aren't too smrt.

Author: Brendan Chris
Copyright: 2006

Captain’s Log, Stardate 58185.2:


“It’s been over two weeks now since Lt. Commander Jeffery and ‘Lieutenant Fifebee’ arrived on the Stallion and I really must that they’ve done a great job of working out some of our kinks. We’re currently patrolling near Shelliak space, which is kinda cool. Now that our weapons actually work, Starfleet is giving us some more dangerous assignments. On the other hand, the Shelliak are so xenophobic there’s no way in hell they’d cross the border anyway. And if they did, it wouldn’t matter what kind of ship we were in; they’d kick our asses in about a second. So there isn’t really any point in us being here.”

“Back to the original topic, Mr. Jeffery has been fitting right in with the crew,”

Captain’s Personal Log:


“I’ve got to get my hands on Mr. Jeffery before Sinclair or Terenth do. And the rumors about Ensign Kukarudz turned out to be true: she tried to seduce him in a Jefferies tube last night. Jeffery can only hold out so long before he cracks, and when he does it’s going to be with me!”


“OK, ‘Fifebee’,” Jeffery said, buried in the holodeck computer interface, “Can you try it again?”

Sylvia, firmly seated in the Stallion’s computer core, tried initiating the holodeck. When the Stallion had been attacked by Orions, the aggressive aliens had claimed to be after the holographic Lieutenant Fifebee, not realizing that it was actually Sylvia aboard the Stallion. As part of their plans to keep Sylvia safe from further attempts, Simplot and Jeffery had decided to work with that. After all, somebody trying to steal a hologram wouldn’t be very interested in a bio-neural gel pack buried in the computer core.

“Simon, you need to connect the ODN data shunt to the secondary port,” Sylvia said, “The primary one seems to be corroded,”

“If ye say so,” Jeffery grumbled. There was a click as he made the requested change, “All done,”

There was a hum as the holodeck powered up, the display panel near the door flickering to life.

“It’s about time, ginger boy,” Bianca Sinclair, Operations Officer said, “I’ve been waiting for my holodeck reservation all week!”

“Yer lucky to have a holodeck installed on a Constitution-class ship,” Jeffery said, “What did ye have to give up to make room fer this thing?”

“The bowling alley and two suites of guest quarters,” Sylvia cut in promptly, “According to the original schematics,”

“We’ll have the smaller unit done by tomorrow,” Jeffery told Sinclair. Smaller. Right. About the size of a broom closet.

“Whatever,” Sinclair said, scrolling through the available holo-programs, “Hmmm. What am I in the mood for tonight? Klingon men are great for muscles and macho attitudes, but those Deltans really know how to please a girl,”

“W-what?” Jeffery stammered.

“On the other hand,” Sinclair let her eyes move slowly up and down Jeffery’s frame, “There’s something to be said for a cute, young engineer,”

“Uh, Ah have to go, um, fix something,” Jeffery said, “Bye!”

Sinclair crossed her arms over her large chest, annoyed.

“You can run, ginger boy,” she said to herself, “But you cannot hide,”


First Officer Iron Kren sat at the Environmental controls on the Stallion’s bridge. Why, he wondered for the millionth time, had nobody taken the time to install a second command chair on the ship’s bridge? He was First Officer, he deserved a seat in the center of power.

The turbolift doors hissed open and Simon Jeffery emerged. He took a quick look around, avoiding the gazes of Captain Simplot, Lieutenant Tereneth and that blond Ensign at the Master Situation display that kept giving him the eye. He sat next to Kren.

“Is it me,” he said in a low voice, “Or are the women on this ship really aggressive,”

Kren raised an eyebrow.

“You’ve been here for over two weeks, Commander,” Kren said, “And you’re only figuring that out now?”

“Well,” Jeffery shrugged, “Ah noticed that the Captain and that Herma-thingy seemed a little, uh, friendly. But it’s getting to point where-“

“Where you can’t walk down the corridors without being hit on?” Kren said.

“Aye. It’s bordering on harassment.”

“Do they accept it when you say no?”

“Aye…but it seems like Ah’m sayin’ it a lot.”

“You are the ‘fresh meat’,” Kren said, “Get used to it. Now, on the topic of Sylvia,”

“I thought we were calling her Fifebee,” Jeffery said, “Y’know, to keep up the illusion that the hologram is here,”

“Yes,” Kren said, “I’ve been thinking about that. How are we to convince anybody we have a hologram if the ship doesn’t have shipwide holo-emitters?”

“Simplot and I talked about that,” Jeffery said, “We figure that’s why she’s speaking through the comm system. Cuz of that,”

“Oh,” Kren frowned, “And nobody bothered to tell me?”

“Ah guess we kinda forgot,” Jeffery shrugged.

“I should think that I should be informed of these things,” Kren said crossly, “Regulation 23, Paragraph B: ‘The First Officer should be kept informed of all items of significance in the day to day-“

“We forgot, man,” Jeffery said, “It’s not like we did it on purpose!”

“Oh Mr. Jeffery,” Simplot called, her voice chiming like a bell, “Could you come by my quarters later this afternoon? I’m having some trouble with my replicator again,”

“Uh, yes Cap’n,” Jeffery said, making a beeline back to the turbolift.


“Is the coast clear?” Jeffery whispered.

“All the way to Engineering,” Sylvia replied.

Jeffery was standing discreetly by the turbolift on the engineering deck. Several of the female crewmembers had taken to hanging out just outside of Engineering in the hopes of catching Jeffery on his way in or out. Easing around a support strut he looked both ways, then moved quickly down the corridor.

“Heya, handsome,” a silky voice called.

“Uh, hi,” Jeffery gulped, smiling weakly at the attractive redhead who had popped out of a side passage.

“So, I hear you’re going to be with us for a few more weeks,” she said, “My name’s Kelly. You know, a few of us are having a little get-together today on the rec deck and I’d love for you to come with me,”

“Um, uh,” Jeffery gulped, “Ah have to, um, recalibrate the lateral sensors,”

“Really?” Kelly pulled out a padd, “Cuz the maintenance schedule doesn’t say anything about that,”

“He’d love to go,” Sylvia cut in, “He’ll pick you up at seven,”

“Great,” Kelly smiled, brushing against Jeffery as she left, “I can hardly wait,”

Jeffery waited until Kelly vanished into the turbolift.

“Sylvia, uh, Fifebee,” he snapped, “What do ye think yer doing??”

“Clearly,” Sylvia said, “you can’t take care of your own romantic life. So you need a little help,”

“Ah SO do not!” Jeffery snarled, tapped the control to open the heavy blast doors leading into Engineering,”

“S-so do not what?” Lieutenant Josh Shurgore asked. He was trying to recalibrate an ODN junction but his hand kept shaking.

“Don’t need help with women,” Jeffery said.

“You sure don’t,” Ensign Menuk cut in, “They’re all over him like flies on a garbage can,”

“Thanks,” Jeffery said dryly.

“And yet he refuses to go out with any of them,” Sylvia said, “If you’re not careful they’re going to think you’re not into women at all,”

Jeffery looked up.

“Do ye think that would work?” he asked.

“Arrgh!” if Sylvia had had hands, she would have thrown them up in exasperation.

“What you n-n-need to do,” Shurgroe said, “Is sleep with one of them. Do it really, really badly. They’ll t-t-talk about it behind your b-b-back and the r-r-rest will leave you alone,”

“Great,” Jeffery said, “So the entire ship would end up doubting my manhood,” he rubbed his forehead, “That doesn’t seem any better than fakin’ a case of the queers,”

“Why are you so dead set against the ladies on this ship anyway?” Menuk asked, “I mean, I know Tereneth has that whole Hermat thing going, but s/he is AMAZING in the sack,”

“S-S-Sinclair isn’t bad either,” Shurgroe said.

“You guys know from experience?” Jeffery raised his eyebrows.

“S-S-Sure,” Shurgroe said, “You think they just became sex-crazed vixens the d-day you arrived?”

“Ah think if ye don’t take yer hypo soon,” Jeffery said, “Ah’m gonna cram it up your behind!”

There was silence for a moment.

“Soo,” Menuk finally said, “You could always have yourself changed into a woman for the rest of your stay.

“Ah’m NOT willing to go that far to scare off these crazy women!” Jeffery snapped.

“Why are you so dead-set against them?” Shurgroe asked, his hypo hissing as he held it to his arm, “I mean, it’s not like they’re ugly,”

“Ah,” Jeffery paused. Just how could he explain the delicate situation with Wowryk?

“His ex is going to tear him apart if she sees him again,” Sylvia broke in, “But if he plays around and she finds out, she’ll kill him too. Plus he still wants to get back together with her,”

“Thank ye, Sylvia,” Jeffery said, “And how do ye know she’s gonna tear me apart?”

“I have access to her psyche profile,” Sylvia said simply.

“At least if you take advantage of the situation here you can die happy,” Menuk shrugged, going back to his examination into a malfunctioning plasma relay, “Personally, I think you should go for Captain Simplot. I hear she’s been studying that Tantric stuff,”

“He has a date with Kelly tonight,” Sylvia said.

“Kelly?” Shurgroe frowned, “Never heard of her,”

“Red hair, about this tall,” Jeffery drew a hand up around his neck.

“Probably just haven’t met her yet,” Menuk shrugged.


Penelope yanked off the red wig she’d been wearing the instant she had returned to the small corner of the cargo deck she currently called ‘home’. It was little more than an unused cargo pod. Unused, apparently, because it was wedged up against one wall and jammed between two support struts to the point where removing it was quite a problem. Still, as long as nobody came down to try to remove it, it would be secure.

She’d been laying low for the better part of two weeks now, waiting for the right time to snatch the hologram. She had planned to snatch it right after her arrival, but those idiot Orions had attacked the ship and put everybody on guard. Now, finally, they were starting to relax again. But for the life of her she couldn’t locate the hologram’s program. She’d checked the holographic memory core, such as it was, and checked for holo-programs in the main computer as well. It had taken her most of the first week just to crack her way into the system, and while she’d learned that the Stallion’s crew had an almost unhealthy obsession with certain…nocturnal activates, she hadn’t found her treasure. And it was really getting on her nerves. With the bounty on the hologram’s artificial intelligence she could finally afford to have that weeklong getaway at the Medusan Pleasure Spas.

She knew the hologram was still around; the crew was still talking about her. And the short engineer was the key.


Simplot, Sinclair, Annerson and Tereneth were seated at a table in the Wreck Deck, the Stallions recreational center. While the Constitution-class ships didn’t have modern style bars or lounges, they did come with an enormous, two-level recreation area. Since the ship had been designed before holodecks it had taken a lot more space to keep the crew from going space-crazy. Simplot loved having the big open space at the front port side of the saucer. It really did have an open feeling to it. The only problem she had was that everything had to be crammed in there. They’d setup a bar in one corner, along with several tables. The center of the deck had a bunch of old 23rd century gaming tables, still done up in that ridiculous plush red that had been all the rage back then. The area near the windows had been converted into a sort of library. Unfortunately, the noise from the bar tended to prevent anybody from actually enjoying a good read. Also, any time the ship hit turbulence, books and padds had a tendency to fly from the shelves, turning the area into a disaster.

“Who is that handsome young man,” Simplot asked, pointing to a dark-haired male.

“Who?” Tereneth’s head pivoted around, trying to spot the male in question.

“You just missed him,” Simplot sighed, “He just ducked back into the corridor. I could swear I’ve never seen him before though,”

“You know,” Sinclair said, her Caribbean accent clipping her words slightly, “I could swear that I saw a young woman yesterday I had never seen before either,”

“Weird,” Simplot shrugged and turned to the waiter, “A martini. Any kind, you pick,”

“Yes, Captain,” the waiter smiled, “And for you?”

“Why so formal, Craig,” Tereneth asked with a smile, “I thought we were past that by now,”

“I just want to be sure my customers are treated like the high-class ladies they are,” Craig grinned back.

“Such a charmer,” Annerson shook her head.

“But he gets an ‘A’ for effort,” Simplot pointed out.

“Why don’t you drop by my quarters later and we can discuss your final grades?” Tereneth suggested.

“You’re on,” Craig nodded, heading back to the bar.

“Hey!” Annerson called, “I wanted a beer!”

“On it’s way!” Craig called back.

“What a nice young man,” Sinclair observed. She turned to Tereneth, “You seem to have him well-trained anyway,”

“What can I say?” s/he spread their arms, “It’s a gift,”

“That ‘gift’ doesn’t seem to be working too well with our engineer friend,” Simplot observed.

“That boy has issues,” Sinclair said sharply, “Either that or he doesn’t like girls,”

“That’s not what Sylvia tells me,” Annerson said.

“You’ve been buddying up with Sylvia?” Simplot asked, interested, “What’s the scoop on Jeffery?”

“Well,” Tereneth leaned in, “She wouldn’t give me whole story. Something about End-User Privacy Agreements. Or something like that. But she did say that Jeffery is a very devoted man, when it comes to relationships. And that his last girlfriend was lucky to have him,”

“She said ‘last girlfriend’, as in ‘no current girlfriend’, right?” Simplot asked.

“Yup,”

“Goood. Then we just have to wear him down,” she ginned at her companions, “Then wear him out!”


“Ah don’t like this, Sylvia!” Jeffery said as he approached the quarters Kelly had specified, “This is all yer fault!”

“You know,” Sylvia said crossly, “If I had gotten Chris a date, he would have been grateful,”

“Ah think at this point Chris would be grateful for a date with a Horta,” Jeffery grumbled.

“Look, it’s just a nice, innocent little date. No expectations, no commitments, no secret shrine to engineers in the back closet, nothing,” Sylvia said, “And if you happen to end up engaged in coitus then so much the better. That is, if you remember how at this point,”

“It’s not something Ah’m likely to forget, ye know,”

“Really?” Sylvia sounded surprised, “I’ve been studying human mating a great deal. There are so many techniques, so many erogenous zones that must be memorized. Plus, you must identify your mate’s particular likes and dislikes. For example, some women enjoy the act of cunni-“

“LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!” Jeffery said loudly, covering his ears and drawing an odd look from a passing crewman, “AH CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

“Well of course you can’t, silly!” Sylvia snapped, “You have your fingers in your ears!”

“Look, can ye just stop with that kind of talk?” Jeffery requested, removing the appendages, “It’s just messed up!”

“Fine, if you say so,”

“Who are you talking to?”

Jeffery spun around to see Kelly standing there. She was wearing a standard off-duty uniform. He had to admit, she looked great. She had a very fit, athletic figure.

<Probably has the firmest bum on the whole ship> Jeffery caught himself thinking.

“Uh, just er, Fifebee,” he said, “Y’know. The hologram. The one that talks through the comm cuz there aren’t any holoemitters…”

“Oh, yes,” Kelly said, “The AI. Hello Fifebee!” she called, waving innocently.

“Hello, dear,” Sylvia called back, “Simon, I just need to have a word with-“

“Not now, Fifebee,” Jeffery said, “We’ll talk later,”

“But Simon!”

“Later!”

Jeffery listened for the faint click that would tell him Sylvia had turned off the comm channel. It came quickly.

“She sounds a little jealous,” Kelly smiled.

“Oh, Ah dunno,” Jeffery smiled weakly, “She’s just a bit, er, possessive?”

“Well,” Kelly looped her arm around Jeffery’s and moved a little closer, “She should be jealous,” Kelly giggled.

Jeffery gulped.

“Where, uh, are we going?” he asked. They weren’t headed to the mess hall or to the Wreck Deck. In fact, they seemed to be getting close to the computer core.

“It’s a private function,” she said.

“It sure is, mate,”

Kelly and Jeffery came around the corner, only to be confronted by a dark-haired male. Jeffery’s first thought was that the guy looked like trouble. Perhaps it was the phaser he held that gave that impression. ‘Kelly’/Penelope’s first thought was <Damn, he’s hot>

“Jeffery to security,” Jeffery tapped his comm-badge, pushing ‘Kelly’ behind him.

“Won’t work, mate,” the guy said, his accent very Australian, “Ah took the liberty of disablin’ yer badge. Now, hand over the AI, nice and easy,”

“The whot?” Jeffery asked, trying to look confused.

“The hologram!” the man grumbled, brandishing an isolinear chip, “You upload her here, now, or Ah start blowing holes in yer little friend here,”

“Ok, Ok,” Jeffery said, holding his hands up, “But she won’t fit. Ye’ll need a bigger chip,”

“Wrong answer,” the attacker lifted his phaser, aimed and fired.

But Penelope wasn’t there. She’d dropped as soon as he moved, her hand yanking a tiny weapon from her boot. She fired the small beam, wounding the attacker’s arm. Cursing, he fled, ducking into a Jefferies tube.

“After him!” Jeffery cried, getting ready to run.

“NOBODY MOVE!”

Lt. Commander Hurken and four security officers rushed around the corner, brandishing phasers.

“Thank God yer here!” Jeffery said, “We just got jumped by this crazy Aussie guy and-“

“Drop your weapon,” Hurken said flatly, pointing his phaser at Penelope.

“What are ye doin’?” Jeffery asked, “She’s-“

“Not a member of the Stallion’s crew,” Sylvia cut in, “I caught a good glimpse of her on a functional internal scanner. She isn’t even part of Starfleet!”

“Kelly,” Jeffery turned to her, only to find that her tiny weapon was pointed right at him, “What the f-“

“Anybody moves and the engineer gets it,” Penelope said, her voice a cold counterpart to the girlish tones Jeffery had heard earlier.

“You’ll never get out of here,” Hurken spat, “Even with a hostage,”

“I know,” Penelope smiled. She abruptly stomped down hard with one foot, triggering a small device that generated a hologram between her and the guards, obscuring her position. The device burnt out after four seconds, but by that time she’d dived down into the Jefferies tube, hoping that whoever the other attacker was, he had used it as an escape route for a good reason.


“INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER ALERT!”


The computer warning repeated, well, repeatedly.

“Hurken!” Simplot’s voice came over the comm, “What’s going on?”

“We’ve got two intruders!” he said tersely, “Female, about 160cm tall, dark hair under a red wig. Male, about 180cm tall, dark hair. Both were trying to get their hands on the AI,”

“Can you catch them?”

“Maybe, if I can spend more time chasing them and less time on witty banter,” he wheezed, starting to tire as he crawled through the Jefferies tube.


Simplot, Gonzalez and Kren burst onto the bridge from the starboard turbolift and took their stations. Gonzalez had lipstick smeared all over his face and Simplot’s hair was up in a towel. Kren on the other hand was still in his uniform.

“Anything on internal sensors?” Simplot demanded.

Gonzalez tapped away on his panel.

“We still have a lot of dead zones,” he said, “Sensor coverage of the Jefferies tube where the incident was reported ends right before a major junction. They’re long gone.”

“Damn,” Simplot cursed, pacing across the bridge. She turned to look at Gonzalez, “Who was she?”

“Captain,” Kren cut in, “With so many of the sensors down there’s no way-“

“No, I meant the woman you were with,” Simplot cut Kren off, “Who was it tonight?”

“Lieutenant Harris,” Gonzalez replied, trying to wipe the lipstick off his face.

“Again?” Simplot looked surprised, ‘That’s like the fifth time this month,”

Gonzalez shrugged.

“She’s worth it,” he shrugged.

“Not that I don’t love hearing about the live and times of Gonzalez’ Bedroom,” Kren said dryly, “But we have armed and dangerous INTRUDERS LOOSE ON THE SHIP!”

“Right,” Simplot said, “And right now we have to wait for security to track them down. Not really a whole lot we can do at the moment,”

“We could be restoring sensors-“ Kren started.

“Engineering is on it,” Gonzalez cut in.

“Dispatch search teams to adjoining sectors-“

“Already done,” Simplot said.

“Interview Sylvia! She spotted the intruder after all!” Kren was beginning to turn a rather unpleasant shade of red.

“Security is taking care of it,” Ensign Shoal called from the helm.

Fuming, Kren stalked to the Environmental Control console.

“Fine!” he snapped, “I’ll just sit here and try to make myself useful!”

Tereneth and Sinclair exchanged glances as quiet returned to the bridge.

“Sooo,” Simplot said finally, eagerly turning towards Gonzalez, “Did you at least get to second base before the alert sounded?”

“Shields up!” Gonzalez barked.

“Shields up?” Simplot frowned, “Can’t say I’ve heard of that. Is that when your partner decides-“

Simplot was cut off as the ship crashed, something impacting against the defensive screens Gonzalez had barely gotten up in time.

“We’re under attack!” Ensign Shimko cried from Tactical, “Klingon Bird-of-Prey! She’s coming around for another pass!”

“Arm weapons!” Simplots called, her expression turning serious, “Return fire! Get the rest of the senior staff to their stations!”

“We could hail them,” Kren suggested.

“We could,” Simplot agreed, “But while we’re asking them nicely to stop shooting us, they’re just going to shoot us some more!”

“Firing phasers,” Simko reported.

They watched on the main screen as the twin beams lanced out and hit the Klingon vessel amidships. The shields crackled and the hawk-like ship wobbled off course before swooping around for another run.

“Shields are taking damage,” Simko said, “Can I use the torpedoes now?”

“We got those fixed, right?” Simplot asked Kren.

“What, NOW you want my advise?” he snapped.

“I’m just having trouble keeping track of all the work-“

“Torpedoes away,” Simko said. Sure enough, two glowing red torpedoes were flying towards the enemy vessel. A shot from the Klingon ship destroyed the first torpedo and for a moment it looked like the second was going to miss. But the torpedo reacquired its target at the last minute and hit the green ship just aft of the bridge.

“They’re retreating,” Simko stated.

“I don’t know why,” Gonzalez said, “We were pretty evenly matched. Doesn’t sound like Klingon behavior to just take off like that,”

“No,” Kren said, “Sounds more like somebody’s gotten their hands on a Klingon ship,”

“More bounty hunters?” Simplot asked.

“Probably,” Kren agreed, “This makes what, four now?”

“Somebody must really want ‘Fifebee’,” Simplot mused.


“What do you mean I’m not after the hologram,” Penelope hissed softly but angrily into her portable communications unit, “I’ve been hiding here for weeks and now that my cover’s been blown I’m this far,” she held her thumb and forefinger a centimeter apart, “from being caught and you’re telling me THE HOLOGRAM ISN’T HERE!”

“We intercepted a transmission between Silverado and Starfleet,” her controller said, unruffled, “Containing several scientific survey reports with Fifebee’s name on it. Clearly she never left the ship,” he clasped hid hands in front of him, “We suspect there is a second AI, possibly an android or-“

“The computer,” Penelope spat, “All along, it was the computer,”

“Well, that’s possible,” the controller conceded, “but-“

“No, you just don’t get it,” she informed him, “They’ve been pretending the hologram has been here to hide an AI in the computer,” she looked thoughtful, “which means they’re on to me. Or have been on to me,”

“Or there may be another bounty hunter on board,” the controller suggested.

“Speaking of which, how many more of these attempts can I expect?”

“Since the Orion Syndicate added their own bounty?” the controller shrugged, “Plenty,”

“Then get me out of here,” Penelope said, “Send one of your real drones in here. Section 31 doesn’t pay me enough for this,”

“You will fulfill your contract,” the controller said, remaining calm, “Section 31 doesn’t take kindly to freelancers who default on their obligations. We can make things very, very unpleasant for you,”

Penelope swallowed.

“I have to move quickly,” she insisted, “Things are getting out of hand,”

“The Banshee isn’t far from you,” the controller said, “Get whatever artificial life form is on that ship and signal them when you’re ready for extraction,”

The screen went blank.

Penelope stared at it for a moment.

“I hate working for those people,” she said to herself. Sure, they had the best in high-tech toys, but they really hated to share them. She should have had personal cloaking fields, portable memory wipes and more! But nooo. She was a freelance agent. Outsourced help. Nothing but second-rate crap for her.

Time to get to work.


Timothy Suade peered carefully around the corner as he eased his way down the maintenance corridor deep in the Stallion’s secondary hull. He’d already sabotaged the internal sensors in the area. Since half of the ships internal sensors weren’t working as it was, he’d guessed (correctly) that nobody would notice another bank of sensors going down.

Of course, now that the crew knew they’d been infiltrated those would be the areas they’d be searching first.


“I’m scanning as fast as I can, Captain,” Sinclair reported from Ops, “but we have more sensor outages than green snakes in a sugar-cane tree,”

“And why weren’t THOSE fixed?” Kren asked.

Sinclair frowned.

“The sensor outages or the green snakes?”

Kren grumbled unpleasantly.

“L-Low priority?” Shurgroe gulped.

“Who would have expected bounty hunters to target this ship, anyway?” Simplot gave a sort of weary smile, “C’mon Kren, we know we have problems. There’s no point trying to place blame,”

“Sylvia, any chance ye can give us a hand?” Jeffery asked.

“I’m trying, Simon,” Sylvia said, sounding tired, “I’m tracking comm-badges and life-signs within sensor coverage, but I can’t do anything about the dead areas,”

“Our security sweeps will focus on those areas,” Hurken called from Tactical, “Just be sure to have the bionic gossip machine send me a list of sections,”

“Bionic gossip machine,” Jeffery mused, “Ah’ll have to tell Chris about that one,”

“Chris?” Simplot asked.

“Me best mate,” Jeffery explained, “Back on Silverado,”

“Mate?” Simplot almost seemed to sag. Tereneth and Sinclair looked up from their stations, “You mean you and he…”

“Whot?” Jeffery frowned, then gasped as he realized what Simplot meant, “No, no! Not ‘mate’ like that! Mate like a friend! Buddy! Pal!”

“Ohhh, he’s your friend,” Tereneth sighed in relief, “Good then. Friends are good,”

“Way to miss an escape route, Simon,” Sylvia chuckled softly.

“Oh, don’t start with me, Sylvia,” Jeffery grunted.

“AAAIIIEEEE!”

“What the hell?’ Jeffery and Simplot jumped to their feet, “What’s that?”

It was Sylvia screaming.

“Somebody’s accessing me!” Sylvia cried, “Rummaging through my files!”

“Can you trace them?” Hurken snapped.

“I’m having trouble focusing,” Sylvia said, “Uuggghhhhh….” She groaned.

“Shut down the computer core!” Jeffery snapped.

“What?” Kren was aghast, “We’ll be defenseless!”

“That’s what backup systems are for,” Jeffery said quickly, “Hurry up and shut down the core before, before something happens to her!”

Simplot nodded.

“Shutting down the core,” Sinclair said. Around the bridge display screens and control panels went dark. Just over half of them flickered back to life as backup systems kicked in.

“We fixed the backups last week,” Jeffery said grimly, “C’mon, Shurgroe, we gotta make sure Sylvia’s OK,”


Jeffery and Shurgroe went directly to the section of the computer core housing Sylvia’s gel-pack.

“Did it occur to ye,” Jeffery asked, “That we could be leading them right to Sylvia?”

“Sounds to me like they already found her,” Shurgroe replied, putting on an extra burst of speed. They flew through the doors to the tiny computer core control room and went immediately into the core section where Sylvia’s container was still securely fastened to the rack of isolinear chips.

“It’s about time somebody got here,” her voice came from the tiny speaker set into the box.

“Are ye OK?” Jeffery asked

“What happened?” Shurgroe added.

“Somebody started a dump of my program!” Sylvia said, “It was very unpleasant, but I’m not hurt,”

“Oh, thank God,” Shurgroe breathed. Jeffery gave him an odd look.

“By the way,” Sylvia went on, “Could you tell me what my name is, young man?”

“Simplot to Jeffery,”

“Jeffery here,” he was already tapping on a panel, trying to find what happened to Sylvia.

“Hey handsome,” Simplot was speaking quickly, “A small ship just detached from our lower hull and took off. Thought you should know,”

“Don’t let them get away!” Jeffery cried, “They’ve got Sylvia’s memory!”


Simplot digested this new information and started snapping orders.

“Tereneth, follow that ship! Try to mask us from their sensors!” she called, “Sinclair, bring the computer back online. Hurken, arm weapons. And somebody bring me, oh I don’t know. I think I want a cup of peppermint tea. But the Wreck Deck had this really good raktijeeno the other day. Maybe I’ll just have one of Craig’s healthy Snack Smoothies. Yes, that’s it,”

“Pursuit course, yes ma’am,”

“Computer core coming back online, Captain,”

“Weapons armed,”

“Healthy smoothy for the indecisive, weight obsessed lady, yes ma’am,”

“Way to paraphrase,” Tereneth smirked.

Jeffery arrived on the bridge.

“What happened?” Simplot asked.

“Somebody managed to hack the computer core and downloaded Sylvia’s memory files,” Jeffery said, “Ah traced the access to an empty sector of the engineering hull, but security didn’t find anything,”

“What’s the point of getting her memory?” Kren asked, “Aren’t they after her?”

“It looks like they tried to download all of her,” Jeffery said, “But it dun work that way. Sylvia’s a living being, ye can’t just download her out of her gel-pack anymore than Ah could download ye from yer brain,”

“So they just got the memories,”

“Simon, who are all these people inside me?” Sylvia asked.

“I’ve been at a few parties myself where I’ve had to ask that question,” Tereneth said wistfully.

“Just sit tight, Sylvia,” Jeffery said, “We’ll find the rest of ye,”

Lieutenant Gonzalez piped up from his quiet corner of the bridge.

“I’m only reading one life form on the fleeing ship,” he reported, “They’re pushing their engines hard, but it looks like we’ll be able to keep up with them,”

“Barely,” Sinclair cut in, “We’re at Warp 8. We’re already past the maximum rated speed for this class of ship,”

“As of a hundred years ago, ye mean,” Jeffery said. He looked around nervously, “Uh, right?”

“I dunno,” Simplot shrugged.

“I hate to interrupt,” Gonzalez went on, “But if there’s only one thief over there, we still have another one on board!”

“Shurgroe and I are workin’ on that,” Jeffery said, turning back to the turbolift.


Timothy Suade really wanted to pace.

He knew it was a bad habit, and that it potentially revealed his mood to any adversaries that might be watching. But here in the private confines of his ship’s cockpit he really, really wanted to pace.

Too bad the cockpit wasn’t big enough.

“Who are you?” he demanded, “What’s your name?”

He’d taken the stolen AI files he’d downloaded from the Stallion and connected them to a secure, secondary computer on his ship. But the AI was remaining stubbornly silent.

“Computer,” he called.

“READY,” both the ship and the secondary computers responded.

“No, I mean the secure computer,” he reiterated.

“READY,” both computers replied.

“OK, I mean the computer here in this second case!” he snapped.

“READY,” replied the indicated machine while the other computer grumbled to itself about lack of gratitude.

“Interface with the AI files retrieved from the Stallion,”

“INTERFACE COMPLETE,”

“OK, good-“

“No AI detected,”

“WHAT???”

“There is no AI detected in the indicated files,”

“Then what are they?” he demanded.

“The indicated files contain machine-code memory engrams,” replied the computer.

So, he didn’t have the AI. But maybe he had something just as good.

“Can you access them?”

“Affirmative,”

Information began to scroll down his display.


“He’s headed for Scarborus VIII,” Tereneth reported, “I’m sure of it. There’s a trading post there that’s been known to associate with the Orion Syndicate,”

“He’s off to sell his ill-gotten wares,” Simplot mused.

“He c-c-can’t sell them!” Shurgroe was almost frantic, looking around at the other officers that had gathered for the briefing, “Those memories are all that she is! It’s like one of us having our minds stolen!”

“Why are you so worked up over this?” Jeffery asked, his eyes narrowing.

“I-I-I get worked up over everything,” Shurgroe said, averting his eyes.

“He really does,” Dr. Annerson nodded in agreement.

“Not like this,” Gonzalez said, joining in the conversation, “If I didn’t know any better I’d think he had a thing for her,”

“N-n-n-n-n-“

“Ye’ve got the hots for me computer!?” Jeffery snapped, “Are ye daft?”

“Well,” Gonzalez was looking thoughtful, “give her a holo-emitter and she could be anybody you wanted,”

“You people are just sick!” Jeffery snapped, “It’d be like doing Chris’s mother!”

“Who’s Chris?” Annerson asked, “And what does his mother have to do with anything?”

“Our Captain,” Jeffery said, “Sylvia’s personality came from his mother,”

“That’s a little twisted, isn’t it?” Kren asked.

“Oh come on,” Simplot shook her head, “Like we’re in any position to judge?”

“I am,” Kren said coolly.

“Really?” Simplot raised an eyebrown, “Maybe I should bring out the pictures we took of you the last time we took shore leave…”

“You put something in my drink,” Kren said, getting defensive.

“Not that I don’t care what horrible thing happened to Kren,” Jeffery started, then paused, “Uh, actually…what happened to him?”

“Nothing,” Kren said, giving warning glances all around.

“He started dancing on the table,” Simplot said immediately, “We found him passed out naked in a corner the next day.

“Uh, moving on,” Jeffery said, “We are goin’ to get the rest of Sylvia back, right?”

“Yup,” Simplot nodded, “Anybody got a plan?”

Silence.

“Anybody?” she looked around, “Don’t be shy!”

“Ah want to go home,” Jeffery sighed.


Penelope tapped frantically at the computer panel. She knew now that the AI wasn’t gone, since the responses to her access attempts were ‘Sorry dear, accessed denied’, rather than the more conventional ‘Access Denied’. She’d been wondering about that before. But now something was different. Sneaking around the ship before she’d heard the AI, which she had assumed to be the hologram, speaking to various crewmembers. Even though she wasn’t able to move as freely, what with the somewhat incompetent security squads combing the ship for her, she could still tell that the computer was being very quiet. The ship wasn’t exactly quiet though, every now and then the hull groaned with what she believed to be the stress of high-warp travel.

But what was going on?

There was a barely perceptible lurch as the ship dropped out of warp.

“All hands, this is the Captain,” came a voice on the intercom, “We’re entered orbit of Scarborus VIII. Please stand by to repel boarders, in the event our assault is unsuccessful,”

Assault? They must have learned that the bounty on the AI had Scarborus VIII as the delivery site. But how? The other bounty hunter must have made a grab for the AI, she realized. But what was in the computer now. A few leftover figments of personality? Or were they trying to trick her into believing the AI was still there? Obviously. After all, they knew she was there. Most likely they were setting a trap even as she spoke.

“C’mon Sylvia, this way,”

It was the engineer. And he was fleeing. With the AI? Must be, her name was Syvlia. Even as she watched he barely dodged a phaser blast. Had the ship been boarded already? She knew the Orion Syndicate had some very impressive ships, or maybe the Section 31 vessel had arrived.

Jeffery ran down the corridor, pushing a cylindrical object ahead of him. Whatever it was, it was hovering on anti-gravs and encircled with a small railing. What looked like a small subspace transceiver was mounted on the top. Running behind Jeffery was an older woman with medium length brown hair. She looked a little out of breath, yet she wasn’t breathing hard at all. A hologram!

“Hurry up!” Jeffery snapped, “if they hit yer holo-relay you’ll blink out in a second! Especially if yer cortical processor is damaged!”

Penelope immediately switched into battle mode. They AI in the computer WAS a distraction. They were trying to escape with the real AI plugged into some kind of portable computer device!

“We’re almost at the shuttlebay!” Jeffery wheezed, pushing the device ahead of him. Penelope followed, leaving a stun-grenade behind to discourage pursuit.


“OK, let’s go,” Jeffery pushed the holo-relay into the back of the shuttlecraft Roan.

“If you say so,” the Sylvia hologram said mechanically.

“Hold it, pretty boy,”

Jeffery spun around. It was Kelly! Holding a phaser!

“Kelly!” he gasped.

“Penelope, actually,” she corrected, “Now step away from the shuttle,”

“Kelly, uh, Penny-“ he was cut off as Penelope discharged her phaser, barely missing his groin as the beam went between his legs.

“Not,” she said sharply, “A nickname I care for,” she took another step towards the shuttle, “Now, I’m not going to ask again. Step away from the shuttle and open the bay doors, or I kill you,” she smiled, “Which I’d hate to do. You really are cute,”

“What is WITH the women on this ship?” Jeffery sighed.

“What’s wrong with you?” Penelope counted, keeping the phaser pointed at Jeffery as he stepped away from the shuttle, “You could have had more action here than on holiday on Risa! But nooo!”

“Just shut up and go!” Jeffery fumed, tapping at the bay door controls.

“Sure thing, stud,” Penelope blew him a kiss as the shuttle hatch closed.

Jeffery held the angry look on his face until the shuttle was clear of the bay.

“Jeffery to Simplot,” he said, “She fell for it,”

He jogged to the runabout Niagra. Shurgroe, Hurken and nearly a dozen security guards were already waiting inside, ready to go.


“I’m tracking the signal from the holo-relay,” Hurken said, “They’re heading for a small settlement about three kilometers from the main trading post,”

“Good thing they don’t know that holo-relays need to stay linked to shipboard computers,” Jeffery said.

“Good thing we were able to slap this thing together on the way to this planet,” Shurgroe said, “Just how did you know about these things anyway? I’ve never heard of anybody using a holoemitter in this way,”

“Our holographic officer uses one when she leaves the ship,” Jeffery explained, “Actually, she used it on the ship for quite a while too. We only got around to installing holoemitters when we found out that prolonged exposure to the holo-relay causes, er,” he coloured, “impotence,”

All the men in the shuttlebay turned slowly to glare at Jeffery.

“Prolonged exposure,” he said loudly, “We’re fine!”

“Is that why you won’t hook up with any women?” Shurgroe asked quietly.

“Nay!” Jeffery smacked him upside the head.


The building at the coordinates Suade had been instructed to arrive at was small and unassuming. The countryside was pleasant enough, he supposed. Not that he really cared for the outdoors. He was far more interested in who was inside and how much latinum they’d be giving him for his prize. He opened the door and stepped into gloomy darkness.

“I’ve got what you wanted,” Timothey Suade said, approaching the table where his clients sat.

“You have the AI from the USS Silverado?” one of them asked.

“I do,” he lied. He couldn’t see his clients; they always sat in the shadows. They were entitled to their privacy, he supposed. But he felt they were going to a bit of an extreme. Their voices had a mechanical sound to the, like they were using voice distorters or some kind of mechanical speech aids.

“He’s lying,” a female voice cut in. Timothy turned to see the female he’d almost shot aboard the Stallion, “I have Silverado’s AI.”

Timothy gulped. He had taken the downloaded memories and rigged him to his own computer’s personality profile, hoping that would fool the buyers until he was long gone.

“What an interesting dilemma,” the voice came again. Timothy and Penelope could see movement in the shadows, “How could it possibly be that you both have the item we seek?”

“I already told you,” Penelope said, sounding annoyed, “He’s lying! AI, come here! State your name!”

A middle aged woman stepped forward.

“I am Sylvia,” she said, “Computer core AI for the USS Silverado,”

“No,” spoke the box Timothy had placed on the table, “I’m Sylvia!”

“Oh my,” sighed the voice, “this does pose a problem, doesn’t it?”


Jeffery, Shurgroe, Hurken and the security guards had crept silently up to the small building. The security team was deploying a range of espionage devices while Jeffery peered through a pair of transpectral goggles.

“Anything?” Jeffery asked Shurgroe as the latter tapped at a tricorder.

“There’s some kind of computer module in there,” Shurgroe said, “don’t know if it has Sylvia’s memory engrams in it though,”

“It must,” Hurken said, “Why else sell it? Not all humans are as moronic as you free-for-all Starfleeters,”

“You’re in Starfleet too, you know,”

“I can’t make out anything on the buyers,” Jeffery interrupted, “But both Penelope and that other guy are there,” he frowned, “Looks like they’re arguing about something,”

“Check out that ship,” Shurgroe pointed, “Looks kinda cramped, huh?”

The ship in question was strangely shaped. A bulbous forward section gave way to a wide structure, almost reminding Jeffery of the plastic cone dogs used to wear to keep from licking wounds. From the aft protruded two small warp nacelles. There were rows of windows to account for at least fifteen decks, but the entire ship only looked to be around six decks high.

“The hatch is very small,” Hurken pointed out, “We would never fit,”

“I have audio,” Ensign Simko reported.

“Let’s hear,” Jeffery said.


“Perhaps the best solution,” Suade said reasonably, “Is for you to purchase both units. You can then take whatever steps you wish to ensure their authenticity,”

“We could,” replied the buyer, “But we’re feeling rather cheap at the moment. One of you is lying. Tell us, and we will let you leave with your life,”

Neither moved.

“Very well,” sighed the voice, “We will simply kill you both then,”

Before anybody could fire, both entrances to the building burst in and uniformed Starfleet security officers stormed in.

“AMBUSH!” Penelope and Timothy shouted, grabbing for their weapons. Neither made it far before they were hit, flopping to the ground like dolls.

“Get the hologram!” Jeffery ordered. No fewer than three officers charged for the slowly bobbing holo-relay.

Bright green beams lanced out from the hidden buyers, sending the Starfleet officers ducking for cover. A projectile of some kind immediately lanced out, attaching to the holo-relay. The relay and the yet-unseen buyers disappeared in a storm of transporter sparks.

“Clear!” snapped Simko,”

“Clear,” another officer acknowledged. Both Penelope and Timothy lay on the floor, stunned.

“I’ll take this,” Jeffery said, grabbing the box with Sylvia’s memories from the table, “Glad to see they took the bait and left the treasure,”

The building started to shake.

“That ship is taking off!” Hurken called from the door, “And I think they’re pointing weapons at us too!”

“Jeffery to Stallion! Beam us up!”


Jeffery and Hurken rushed onto the Stallion’s bridge. Shurgroe had gone to Engineering to nurse the strained warp core, while the security team members had been detailed to returning the Roan and the Niagra from the planet surface.

“We have them on sensors,” Gonzalez reported, “Wow, check out these power readings! Looks like a mean motherf**ker!”

“Watch your mouth!” Kren shouted.

“I’m still feeling very confused,” Sylvia piped in, “Am I supposed to analyze these sensor readings, or do you do it?”

“One sec,” Jeffery was plugging Timothy’s fake AI box into a computer junction. Within seconds, Sylvia’s memories were back in the computer core.

“I’m on it,” Sylvia said, suddenly all business, “And thank you, by the way,”

The Stallion shook hard, tossing everybody to the deck.

“Analysis complete,” Sylvia chimed, “We don’t stand a chance against their weapons,”

“I could have told you that!” Hurken snapped, “Return fire?”

“No,” Simplot ordered, “Let them go. Back off,”

“They’re not pursuing us,” Hurken reported after a moment.

“Why should they,” Simplot shrugged, “After all, they got what they came for,”

“Yeah,” Jeffery sat at an empty station, exhausted, “But what happens once they realize all they have is a cheap holographic copy of Sylvia?”

“I thought the holo-relay was going to shut down once it was out of range of our subspace transceiver?” Gonzalez asked.

“Ah squeezed a small holographic memory module on board,” Jeffery said, “It would never hold a full hologram, even the most basic ones we use on the holodecks. But it will answer three or four different questions. And Ah included Sylvia’s recipe for potato soup while Ah was at it,”

“Still,” Simplot said, “I don’t want them to come looking for us once they figure out they have a fake. Set course for Starbase 45,”


The next day Jeffery was sitting in an armchair in The Wreck Deck. A Ship’s Services maid was picking up all the scattered library padds and returning them to the shelves they’d been on before the unknown AI-nappers had fired on them, but Jeffery wasn’t paying much attention to her. He was looking out at the stars. Somehow, the empty viewport on the Stallion’s Wreck Deck just seemed off for some reason. He kept expecting to see a pair of warp nacelles filling the lower sides of the view.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Simplot asked, taking a seat next to him.

“Y’know,” Jeffery said, “This little mission for Admiral Tunney turned out to be a little more action-packed than Ah was expecting,”

“You mean you weren’t expecting to be attacked by bounty hunters, chased through the ship by my security staff as part of some scheme to trick that Penelope bitch, building holo-relays from scratch and raiding criminal hotspots to regain your computer’s memory?” Simplot asked.

“Aye,” Jeffery said, “Ye can say that. For sure,”

“I hope you don’t regret visiting us here,” Simplot said.

“Regret?” Jeffery looked up, “No. Not at all,”

“Liar,”

Jeffery sat up, “I didn’t-“

“It’s OK, Simon,” Simplot sighed, “We aren’t an average crew. We all know that. It’s not like we’d be on this ship if we were. I guess we thought somebody from another Operation Salvage ship would fit in well with us, but I guess you folk on Silverado are a bit more professional than we are,” she shrugged, “Your captain probably runs a tight ship where everybody knows their place and inappropriate conversations just don’t happen in public places like the bridge,”

“Hardly,” Jeffery snorted, “Ah mean, yeah. That’s it.”

“He doesn’t mean to give the impression that he dislikes you all,” Sylvia cut in, “He just isn’t good at showing affection,”

“Sylvia!” Jeffery groaned, “Do ye mind?”

“Sorry,” Sylvia said, “I’ll be good,”

“Look,” Jeffery said, turning to Simplot, “Ye’ve got a good crew here. A little strange,” he frowned, “Very strange. Extremely strange,”

“I get the point,” Simplot said dryly.

“But strange is good,” he went on, “Ah mean, being strange gives ye diversity, and strength. Ah just,” he shook his head, “Ah dunno,”

“You’re afraid that if you get too attached to another crew it’s going to be hard on you when you go back to Silverado,” Simplot suggested.

“If I go back to Silverado,” Jeffery corrected, “Tunney wants this to be a permanent thing, going from ship to ship,”

“Do you think you can deal with that?” Simplot asked, “I mean, here you are just getting comfortable with my crew. You’d have to go through the whole thing with each crew you work with. The only alternative would be to cut yourself off entirely. And that’s really no way to live,”

“Lots of people do it,” Jeffery shrugged, “Starbase personnel never work on the same ship very long,”

“But they have the Starbase crew to bond with,” Simplot reminded him.

“Ah have Sylvia,” Jeffery said.

“That’s sweet, Simon,” Sylvia cut in.

“Dammit Sylvia!” Jeffey groaned, “Didn’t ye get the memory about privacy in conversations back?”

“I did, but since I was the topic…”

“Can ye shut off yer audio pickups for ten minutes?” Jeffery requested.

“As you wish,”

After a pause, Simplot chuckled.

“You two sound like an old married couple,” she said, “If you’re not careful, that’s what you’ll become,”

“Ah have a girl,” Jeffery said.

“No you don’t,” Simplot said, signaling a waiter to bring them drinks, “The way I understand it, you left her without even saying a proper goodbye,”

“Ah left a message,” Jeffery said defensively, “She didn’t want to talk to me,”

“You assumed she didn’t” Simplot said, “Bad idea with women, believe me.

Their drinks arrived. They both took long swallows.

“What’s the real reason you refuse to date?” Simplot asked, “And don’t tell me it’s because of a girl back on Silverado. I know men. Most of you are so horny you’d jump at the first pretty woman to make an offer,”

“That’s not true,” Jeffery said.

“Right,” Simplot said, “Then your Captain didn’t really have sex with the Prefect of Senous in the ladies bathroom of the Matrian government building?”

“How’d ye know about that?” Jeffery frowned. He took another swing of his drink and waved for another. The waiter, annoyed, made the long trek from the bar all away across the huge, open space to the seats by the window.

“Sylvia told me,” Simplot said.

“The woman has no concept of privacy,” Jeffery fumed.

“She does,” Simplot said, “But he didn’t instruct her to keep that private,” she frowned, “In fact, it sounds like he was pretty proud of the whole thing,”

“You know,” the waiter said peevishly, “We have a dozen empty seats closer to the bar,”

“Take a pill, John,” Simplot said. The waiter grunted and went back to his work.

“But anyway, Simon,” Simplot went on, “So you say you have a girl. Clearly the two of you are at least taking a break from each other. Another guy in your situation would be checking out the ladies, dating a few of them. Maybe even trying to score. But the only date you went on was with a psycho bounty hunter, and Sylvia forced you into that one!”

Jeffery was quiet for a moment, sipping his drink.

“Noel,” he said, “Had very firm ideas about men, sex and relationships. The first time we did anything together was in a virtual reality she had been brainwashed into taking control of. I, uh, wound up in shorts and a dog collar, playing the part of her slave,”

“Kinky,” Simplot said, trying to picture it.

“Not really,” Jeffery sighed, “It didn’t have anything to do with sex. It was all about control. About showing how men were beneath women. Her entire virtual world was like that,”

“But you said she was brainwashed,” Simplot said.

“To a point,” Jeffery nodded, “The device that did it picked her because her personality was so close to the folks who had built it. The Matrians. No, that’s not right. Close to what the Matrians in power wanted. But that’s a whole other story.”

“So you’re out from under her thumb now,” Simplot said, “Shouldn’t you be stretching your legs? Enjoying your freedom? Let me tell you:” she cut Jeffery off before he could speak, “You’re afraid that if you do anything to enjoy yourself the slightest bit you won’t want to go back to her. That you’ll realize how good it is when you’re with a woman who actually cares about you and wants to please you, instead of being with a someone who would rather you ate with the dogs than at the dinner table,”

“Yer out of line!” Jeffery said, getting angry, “Ye know, Ah once spent days in a holo-program with an abusive woman. And I learned perfectly well that Ah don’t need a control freak. Ah can be my own man and Ah don’t care what she says,”

“No, you’re an idiot,” Simplot snapped back, taking another drink, “I bet you tried standing up to Noel after that. And what did she do? Respect you?”

“Not…exactly,” Jeffery admitted. In truth, Wowryk had been even colder after that. But she had been starting to warm up, especially after little Luke had come along, “But she was improving,”

“Uh-huh,” Simplot tossed back the last of her drink, signaling for more, “Then why did you break up?”

“We DIDN’T!” Jeffery snapped. As soon as he said it, he knew it was a lie.

From the look on her face, so did Simplot.

“We, had a disagreement,” he said, sipping the fresh drink the waiter had delivered, “Over physical…stuff,”

“Sex?”

Jeffery looked annoyed.

“Kissing,” he said.

“Even worse!” Simplot looked shocked, “Simon, if she won’t kiss you, then what do you have? People have needs! Even I know that!”

“Evil needs,” Jeffery shrugged, “According to Noel,”

“This is worse than I thought,” Simplot said, “Simon, how long has it been,”

“Has what been?”

“You know damned well what I mean,” Simplot said, “How long has it been since you’ve had sex. With another person,”

Jeffery blushed.

“That’s really none of yer-“

“How long?”

Jeffery sighed.

“Over two years,” he admitted.

“Good grief,” Simplot shook her head, “It’s worse than I thought. You’re terrifed that sex with a woman will make it even harder to go back to that chaste life the two of you lead,”

“Look, Captain,” Jeffery said, “Ah don’t appreciate yer analyzing me, or presuming to know what I’m feeling or thinking!”

“Then what are you thinking, Simon,” Simplot asked, tilting her head.

At that moment, Jeffery suddenly noticed that her hair really did look good, cascading as it did over her shoulders. He shook his head.

“Ah’m thinking that it’s time to go back to me quarters and get some shut-eye,” he growled.

“No, you’re not,” Simplot said simply.

“Ah know what Ah want,” Jeffery said.

“No, you don’t,” Simplot replied, “Did you know, Simon, that when a guy is turned on there are very obvious signs? Your pupils dilate. Your respiration increases. And your eyes start looking in the oddest places,”

“Look, Captain, Ah,”

“Don’t bring rank into this,” Simplot yanked her rank pips off her collar and threw them to the floor, “I’m a woman. You’re a man. That’s all there is to this,”

“Elizabeth,” Jeffeery was shrinking back into his chair as Simplot moved closer, “Ah can’t. Ah won’t! There’s nothing ye can do to-“

Simplot leaned forward and kissed him.

Her kiss was strong, aggressive. She firmly planted both hands on his wrists, preventing him from raising his arms in protest. When she leaned back again, he was flushed, his breathing shaky. And he wanted her. Now.

“You like aggressive women?” she breathed, “I’ll show you an aggressive woman,”

She grabbed him by the arms and hauled him out of the Wreck Deck.


Command Kren lay in his bed, deeply engrossed in a fascinating article discussing the relative merits of the new Sovereign-class cruisers and their Galaxy-class predecessors. He was particularly interested in the author’s analysis of the impressions made by the two ship designs during First Contact situations, and agreed that the spacious interior and non-threatening design of the Galaxy-class made it far better suited for exploration duties. Then the screaming started.

“YES! YEEES!!”

“Knock it off!” Kren shouted, banging one fist against the wall, “It wasn’t cute the first four times you did it, it’s not cute now!”


“Well, somebody had a good time last night,” Sylvia remarked as Jeffery walked into Engineering. He didn’t bother to dodge his way through the usual group of young women trying to get his attention. Instead he strode right through, ignoring them completely.

“You and the Captain hit if off last night, huh?” Shurgroe asked, just packing away the candles from his morning chant,”

“Ye know ye shouldn’t have flames in an engine room,” Jeffery said cheerfully.

“I k-know,” Shurgroe said, “But if I d-don’t give the engines their morning blessings I f-feel nervous all day,”

“And what a change that would be,” Jeffery muttered, “How do ye know about me and the Captain?”

“Please, Simon,” Sylvia said, “Who doesn’t know? You woke up half of Deck 5,”

“It’s been a while,” Jeffery said, blushing.

“Clearly,”


“OK ladies, pay up,” Simplot said, arriving on the bridge.

“We know, we know,” Tereneth sighed, “Gonzalez already told us,”

“I won the betting pool, “Gonzalez said.

“And how did you know he’d weaken for me?” Simplot asked with a smile.

“I know how men think,” Gonzalez said.

“How was he?” Sinclair asked, “Any good?”

Simplot shrugged.

“Well, if you consider being completely ravaged by an energetic, attractive young man who’s even more sex-starved than a sailor in the merchant navy as being good…” Simplot smiled, “then definitely.

“I hate you,” Tereneth grumbled.

“You want energy?” Gonzalez asked, “Drop by my place later. I’ll show you energy,”

“Please,” Tereneth said, “I know where you’ve been. I do have some standards after all,”


“Jeffery, do you have a minute?”

“Since when do ye ask me before ye speak, Sylvia?” Jeffery asked. He was on Deck 8, working on one of the power conduits.

“Simon, I’m going home,” Sylvia said bluntly.

“Home?”

“To Silverado,” Sylvia said.

“But Sylvia!” Jeffery said, “We’re just getting started!”

“Maybe you are,” Sylvia said, “And I’m glad to see that you’re finally settling in here. Although since you’ll be leaving for the next ship soon and shouldn’t make yourself too comfortable,”

“Right,” Jeffery said tonelessly.

“But I’ve been attacked by bounty hunters, had my memory stolen and had to convince two new crews that I’m not just a talking appliance!” Sylvia fumed, “Not to mention that I really miss the high-power computer core on Silverado, the larger body, the bigger engines. I want to go home,”

“I hear our next assignment is a Republic-class ship,” Jeffery offered, “They have fairly modern computer systems,”

“It’s not the same,” Sylvia said, “I want my old body back!”

Jeffery thought for a moment.

“Ye know,” he said, “Sometimes even I forget yer more than a computer sometimes,” he admitted.

“Thanks a lot!” Sylvia grumbled.

“But Ah also forgot yer barely a year old,” he went on, “And Ah can see why we’d want to go back,”

“Thanks, Simon,” Sylvia said, “We’re on our way to Starbase 45 anyway, so it won’t be hard for us to catch a shuttle back home,”

“Right,” Jeffery said, frowning, “Ah guess ‘we’ will be back before ‘we’ know it,”