Give me an S! Give me a T! Give me an A! Give me an R! Give me a 'Star Trek was created by Gene Rodenberry and is owned by Paramount, Viacom and CBS! Give me a 'Star Traks was created by and is owned by Alan Decker!' Give me a 'Star Traks: Silverado was created by and is owned by Brendan Chris!' Now, please give me a glass of water. Also, I'd like my dignity back, if you're finished with it.

Author: Brendan Chris
Copyright: 2008

Ensign Trish was flat on her back.

“Push it a bit harder,” she said, “No, that’s not right. A bit more to the left. Up…no, down. Oh, just let me plug the damned thing in already!”

She grabbed the isolinear processing module that Lieutenant Sage had been trying to attach to the innards of the helm console and plugged it into the receptor port. The console lit up and an unidentifiable tune played.

“Welcome to LCARS 4.0 MT!” the computer voice announced happily, “Would you like to use this console separately, or connect to a central computer core?”

“Computer core, ODN connection,” Sage ordered, “Network identification is USS Silverado,”

“This console has detected that the indicated computer core contains bio-neural circuitry. To get the best performance out of your helm console, upgrade to LCARS Expanse, the newest version of LCARS! In addition, a new bio-neural processing module will increase the response time of your helm console!”

Sage punched a few buttons, disabling the ‘helpful, user-friendly’ mode and reconnecting the console the ship’s computer.

“Helm control has been restored,” Sage reported.

“And I helped!” Yanick added, climbing to her feet.

“Great,” Jall said, sitting in the command chair and sipping a low-sugar, high-protein shake, “Got any fresh warp cores in your pocket while you’re at it?”

“Lt Cmdr Jeffery is still talking to the Matrians and Senousians about adapting one of their cores until Starfleet can send us a new one,” Sage said, “But then the Matrian engineer and the Senousian design manager got into an argument over who thought Jeffery was cuter,”

“The women in this sector have no taste in men,” Jall complained.

“If you had the quadrant’s lowest ratio of males to females, you’d be getting desperate too,” Yanick pointed out.

Jall just rolled his eyes.

“OK, c’mon now, people!” he said, giving Sage and Yanick a sassy look, “Please try to remember we’re still recovering from a major crisis!”

“We are Starfleet,” T’Parief grumbled from the tactical console, “It is what we do,”

“But we don’t always have to like it,” Yanick said, dropping into her seat and pouting.

Stafford was sitting in Sickbay. Next to him, Dr. Wowryk and Chief Engineer Jeffery were examining the module that contained Sylvia’s core gel-pack. He watched as Jeffery used a specially designed key, an actual metal key of all things, to unlock the neutronium casing he’d designed as a way of protecting Sylvia from hostiles.

“Initiating scan,” Wowryk said crisply.

Stafford paid her no attention, instead staring into the module, at the blue gel-pack that contained Sylvia’s brain tissue.

“Hard to believe one of these things could become self-aware,” Jeffery mused, “And that a computer program could become so important to us,”

“She’s much more than a computer program,” Wowryk said sharply.

“Aye,” Jeffery swallowed, “Aye, of course.”

“Neurotransmitter levels don’t match her previous readings,” Wowryk went on, “Neural activity is depressed, but I’m not showing any sign of cell damage,”

“The bio-neural interface is stable and functioning normally,” Jeffery said, delicately probing the interior of the module, “The processing cores and data chips are fine! All the isolinear circuitry is workin’ exactly the way it’s supposed to,”

“Aye,” Wowryk said. She shook her head, “I mean, yes.” She put her medical tricorder down, exasperated, “Captain…Chris. I’m not an expert on this bio-neural stuff. All I can tell you is that the readings for the neural tissue have changed, but I’m really not sure I know how to fix that!” She frowned, “There is something almost familiar about these readings. I cannot think of what that might be, though,”

“The hardware’s fine,” Jeffery said.

Stafford still didn’t speak. He just sat there, staring.

“We’ll keep trying though,” Jeffery said, “It just might take a while.”

Still nothing.

“Ah better go see if anything in the computer core can tell me anything,” Jeffery muttered, turning to leave.

“I have research I must attend to,” Wowryk said, “Fifebee has downloaded a number of studies on bio-neural tissues from Memory Alpha,”

They both left, leaving Stafford alone in the ICU. He stared down at the open module for several moments.

“Get well, Sylvia,” he said softly, turning to leave.

“We want our express our thanks and gratitude,” Queen Anselia, leader of the Matrian Republic said, her lovely visage displayed at twice actual size on the bridge viewscreen, “For your help in defending our planet from the Qu’Eh attack,”

“You’re welcome,” Jall said, having risen out of the command chair to receive Anselia’s comm, “That’s why we’re here, after all. Adding to the positive karma of the galaxy and all that noble stuff.”

“We’re recalling our fleet,” Anselia informed him, “We’ll have scouts patrolling our borders, but we’re keeping anything bigger closer to Matria Prime,”

“Probably a good idea,” Jall shrugged.

“Is Captain Stafford available?” Anselia asked, “We are most interested in speaking to him about our strategic and defense plans,”

“Er,” Jall shrugged, “One of our crewmembers was badly injured in the attack. The Captain’s been down in Sickbay, offering his, uh, support,”

“Admirable,” the Queen mused, “And he’s ever so lucky to have a handsome, outstanding man like yourself to help in out during these difficult times,”

“Something like that,” Jall sighed as Anselia gave him a suggestive look.

“Perhaps there’s something we can do to cheer him up?” Anselia went on, “Tell us, is Captain Stafford fond of athletics?”

Jall was taken aback.

“I, um, I don’t know,” he admitted.

“Well, we assume that at least some of your crewmembers enjoy a bit of athletic competition,” Anselia said, “We understand your people are probably quite shaken up over current events, as are ours. We’re sending our Minister of Athletics to your ship to discuss a proposition he may find…interesting.”

A few hours later…

“The Matrians want to hold a Sport’s Competition,” Stafford said. His senior staff was gathered in the conference room, but the air was grim.

“Are they daft!?” Jeffery demanded, “We haven’t even finished repairing our battle damage, and we don’t have a bleedin’ warp core!”

“Yes, Captain, the timing is very poor,” Valtaic said, “We are in the middle of a crisis,”

“I think it’s a good idea,” Jall said. He didn’t look at Stafford; instead he sat facing the rest of the staff, his arms crossed. Evidently, he was still angry at the captain.

“Oh really?” Wowryk raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah,” Jall said, “I mean, I know we’re still recovering from the attack, but we have to remember that we have more to worry about than just ourselves now. It’s pretty dark times for the Matrians, right? They need something to pick up their spirit. And since they’re having issues getting accurate information on how to play any of their own sports, it makes sense for them to get us involved,”

“Do you play anything, Mr. Jall?” Stafford asked tiredly.

“Wrestling,” Jall replied.

“He meant outside the bedroom,” Yanick said.

Stafford rolled his eyes in disgust.

“Yes, I know that!” Jall said, leaning back in his chair, “Seriously. I was on the Academy wrestling team.”

“Before this conversation gets any more disturbing,” Stafford said, “Let me say that I think it’s a great idea,”

Jall looked surprised.

“Really?” he asked, “But this is a fun…thing. And you’re not usually into fun…things…even when you’re in a good mood,”

“I’m in a shitty mood,” Stafford said flatly, “We’ve been attacked, the ship is dead in the water, Sylvia’s badly hurt and the Matrians have a new set of hostile neighbors.”

“Admirable honesty, sir,” Valtaic said, inclining his head.

“Admirably depressing is more like it,” Yanick said.

“Their Minister of Athletics-“

“How can they have a Minster of Athletics if they don’t remember how to play any of their own games?” Wowryk interrupted. She had been down and quiet since the incident with the Qu’Eh. Stafford was glad to see that she was starting to show some interest.

“Their Minister of Athletics,” Stafford said again, rolling his eyes, “has been studying our athletics database. Apparently,” he looked warily at Wowryk, “she hasn’t had much else to do with her time. She and I have agreed on three sports: hockey, basketball and soccer.”

There was immediate ruckus around the conference table.

“Curling? Why not? It’s fun!”

“-don’t know why something wholesome like-“

“-wrestling? But…spandex-“

“-are we going to wear for uniforms?”

“Settle down, settle down!” Stafford called out. Gradually, the din subsided.

“Well, Ah take it we need to select teams?” Jeffery asked, “Ah’ll take basketball.”

“You’re too short for basketball,” Jall said, waving a hand.

“Bite me, ye cocky oaf!”

Stafford slapped a hand over Jall’s mouth.

“Just…don’t…” he said, “I’m not in the mood for an argument,”

“I will take the hockey team,” T’Parief grumbled.

“I didn’t know you played hockey,” Yanick commented.

“I do not,” T’Parief replied, “However, you have made me sit through many hockey games since the ship’s team started playing, and I believe I understand the rules well enough,”

“Oh yeah. The Silverado Salvagers,”

“They need to work on the name,” Stafford muttered.

“I’ll take the soccer team,” Wowryk said firmly.

Everybody stared at her.


“I was on the Catholic Girl’s Soccer team when I was younger,” Wowryk sniffed.

“Ooookay,” Stafford said. The energy in the room was already improving; even Stafford was feeling a bit better, “As for Ensign Yanick, I have a special job for you. In fact, I think Mr. Jall may want to help you out…”

Word of the games spread quickly around the ship. There were to be three games: a soccer game, a basketball game and a hockey game. There were no prizes, no incentives, and no real benefits to winning. Instead, the point was to lift the spirits of the Matrian people by giving them something they hadn’t had in centuries: televised sports. All teams would be co-ed, in keeping with the spirit of the new Matrian Republic. Governess Gelitha, the Matrian Minister of Athletics, had been hoping for such an event for some time now and the Matrian teams were raring to go. Her only concern was that all three games were Earth games. They neither represented the diversity of the Federation, nor Matrian culture. But, it was a start.

Now, Silverado just had to try to pull their teams together.

“This is so exciting!” Yanick squealed.

“Uh-huh,” Jall muttered. The two of them were heading down to the Replicator Center to pick up their uniforms and equipment.

“Oh, come on, what’s bothering you?” Yanick asked, grabbing Jall by the arm and laying her head on his shoulder.

“Well,” Jall shrugged, “I just…why would Stafford think I’d want to help you with something like this?”

“Are you saying you don’t?”

“No, no,” Jall said quickly, “I do. He was dead on the mark. I just want to know when the hell he got so…so…perceptive,”

“Oh, come on, Jall,” Yanick rolled her eyes, “He wasn’t perceptive, he was just following an old stereotype. It just so happens that in your case, the stereotype is right,”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jall sighed, “OK, who else are we going to get to help with this little project we’ve been given?”

“Lieutenant Fifebee already agreed to help,” Yanick said, “I thought we’d ask Nurse Kerry, Madame Schoonbaert, Lieutenant Day, and maybe Lieutenant Commander Ovens.”

“Oh, don’t forget Crewman Ellis.” Jall said.

The two of them continued walking, details and plans forming in both their heads.

Stafford was seated in his private dining room, Governess Gelitha seated across the table from him. He had to admit, the Matrian was attractive. She had hair that was so black it almost looked blue, though not as blue as Nurse Kerry’s. Her body was athletic, though not as athletic as Ensign Bith’s. Her face was finely featured with beautiful, porcelain skin. Although, he mused, not as beautiful as Queen Anselia’s.

“I need more women in my life,” Stafford realized, muttering to himself.

“Are there not enough women on Matria Prime?” Gelitha asked, having overheard him.

“What? Oh! I’m sorry,” Stafford said, “I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just that…well…”

Gelitha was staring at him.

“What I meant,” Stafford said, “Is that…” he trailed off again. Why was he talking to her about this? On the other hand, why was she paying such rapt attention?

“Look, I don’t know how it is on your ships,” he said, “Or other ships, for that matter. But I’m picky about who I get romantically involved with. And I think it’s a bad idea for a Captain to get involved with a woman under his command,”

“Ahhh,” Gelitha nodded, “I understand. I have no idea if Matrian Captains did the same, since we haven’t had a co-ed ship in centuries. But I do understand. I would find dating a member of my staff very awkward,”

“Exactly,” Stafford said, “So, you see, I’m sort of limited to women from off the ship. And that sort of makes relationships difficult,”

“Romantic relationships, yes,” Gelitha said, a mischievous look in her eyes, “I know men are concerned with romance, and monogamy, and celibacy,”

“On your planet, maybe,” Stafford grunted.

“Not on yours?”

“Well, it’s…complicated. There’s what people want, there’s what their specifical culture says they should want. There’s also what the people in their lives think they should want.”

“Interesting,” Gelitha said, “But the unattached men on your planet would welcome a bit of no-strings-attached…fun?”

“Many of them, yes,” Stafford said, suddenly hoping this conversation was going where he wanted it to.

“So,” Gelitha said, setting down her padd, “Would you like to go for a long, romantic dinner, perhaps watch a movie, spend some time getting to know each other?”

“That could be good,” Stafford nodded.

“Or,” Gelitha continued, “Would you like to get naked and have crazy sex on top of this table, right now?”

Stafford stared at her for a moment.

“Is this a trick question?”

Lieutenant Pye and Lieutenant Sage were walking past the doors to the Captain’s Dining Room.

“Do you hear shouting?” Sage asked.

“Nope, I don’t hear anything,” Pye replied.

“Huh. So, are you trying out for basketball, soccer or hockey?”

“Soccer,” Pye said, “I don’t like the cold, and I’m too short for basketball. You?”

“Hockey. I look better with a mask on,”

As the two officers stepped into the turbolift, an access hatch popped open. Lab Technician First Class Trent Smedi peeked out into the corridor, checking to be sure the coast was clear before heaving his bulky midsection through the one-size-too-small hatch. One section of his mind quickly counted the number of doors visible in the short, U-shaped corridor and calculated the space taken by the shuttlebay to the aft and the Captain’s Dining Room to the fore. The remaining space was junior officer’s quarters, and Deck 3 was a pretty small deck. Still, Smedi’s calculations revealed that even the lowly ensigns living on Deck 3 were given more living space and better views than the hard-working crewmen below decks. If his lab team partner, Jemi H’Kspeda, had been present, she would have pointed out that many of Silverado’s officers lived in windowless quarters deep in the saucer section. She would have also pointed out that on Klingon, Romulan or Andorian ships, non-commissioned members would have even less space, sometimes sleeping in racks in maintenance corridors. Smedi, of course, would counter that this was Starfleet, and that they should know better. Finally, H’Kspeda would give one of her sighs that was a special blend of defeat, annoyance and ‘oh, just f**k it!’.

Still watching carefully to be sure he wasn’t seen, Smedi withdrew a gleaming bottle. A tag was attached to the neck, to which the words ‘To Captain Stafford’ had been written. Outwardly, it appeared to be a perfectly ordinary bottle of white wine. It would take a thorough analysis to discover that Smedi had added a little something extra to the mix.

Smedi had grown tired of waiting for Stafford to do something stupid enough to warrant the attention of Ms. Lydia Thompson of Starfleet’s Office of Humanoid Resources. It was time for him to take action!

Yanick stepped off the turbolift onto Deck 3. She could have sworn she saw a flurry of motion out of the corner of her eye, but when she took a closer look, there was nothing but a bottle of wine sitting on the deck.

“Pixies and fairies!” she giggled, picking it up. She was walking up to the double doors to the Captain’s Dining Room when they hissed open, revealing a very lovely Matrian woman.

“Oh, hello,” Yanick said cheerfully, “May I help you?”

“No, thank you,” Gelitha said, smiling, “I have been ‘helped’ enough for now. I have preparations to see to for Sports Competition,”

“Sure,” Yanick said, “Oh, did you finish with Captain Stafford, then?”

“Yes, he finished,” Gelitha said walking off, “Several times,”

Yanick walked in to find Stafford slumped in one of the chairs. His hair was a mess, his face was red and sweat was drying on his forehead.

“I’ve been waiting for you to finish with her for the past two hours!” Yanick complained, setting the wine down on the table, “How long does it take to plan a few games?”

“Uh, it’s surprisingly complex,” Stafford gulped, “You have to plan for referees, and refreshments, and-‘

“Wait,” Yanick held up one hand, sniffing around, “Something’s…different…in here,”

“Uh, no?” Stafford tried.

Yanick walked carefully around the room, sniffing the air.

“It’s almost like sweat,” she mused, “With just a touch of…” she trailed off, then spun around to look at Stafford.

“You had sex with her!” she snapped.

“Uh,” Stafford cringed, “Um,”

Yanick continued sniffing.

“Three times???” she exclaimed, “And in the reverse lay-up position???”

“Well, actually, it was three and a half…hey, how could you possible know that?” Stafford demanded, sitting up in his seat.

“It’s a gift, sweetie,” Yanick giggled, “Oh, Chris! It’s about time! You’ve needed to get laid for a while now!”

“Was it that obvious?”

“Oh,” Yanick made a show of thinking, then turned back to Stafford again, “Only to anybody with eyes,”

“Look, Trish,” Stafford said, “I know it’s frowned on professionally-“

“No it isn’t,” Yanick interrupted.

“-and I know it was a bad idea-“

“No it wasn’t,”

“-and I know I shouldn’t have done it-“

“Yes, you should have,”

“-and I swear I’m not going to do it again-“

“Yes, you are,”

“Are you even listening to me?” Stafford asked.

“Yup,” Yanick said, “You’re doing that thing you do, where you try to hold yourself to a higher standard than everybody else. You’ve convinced yourself that if you don’t be a complete slave to some imaginary morals that everybody is going to look down on you,”


“So here’s what you’re going to actually do,” Yanick said, “You’re going to go back to your quarters and have a drink, and think about how lucky you are that an attractive woman showed interest in you. Then you’re going to add it to that stupid little ‘banging female chicks’ captain-quota thingy. And then, the next time a woman you like propositions you, you’re going to invade her star system like it’s nobody’s business and you’re not going to beat yourself up over it the next day!”

Stafford stared at Yanick.

“Where the hell did that come from???” he demanded.

“Commander Jall, actually,” Yanick admitted, “I just replaced ‘boy’ with ‘girl’ and-“

“Stop,” Stafford help up a hand, “I liked the speech. Please don’t ruin it,”

“Well then.” Yanick nodded, “Good. Oh, by the way, somebody sent you wine,”

“Huh,” Stafford stared at the bottle for a moment, “What do you know? I wonder who it’s from?”

“C’mon, Captain,” Yanick giggled, pulling on his arm, “You have an event to plan!”

“And thank you for tuning in to Matrian Sports Chat on MESS, the Matrian Entertainment and Sports Station! This week, which by the way is the only week we’re going to be on the air until somebody remembers the rules to Grensball, we bring you the Matrian Republic’s first co-ed sporting extravaganza!” on the screen behind him, images of the Silverado crew alternated with images of fit Matrian athletes, “We’ll be bringing you every moment of every game, right here on MESS…”

Stafford swallowed. He and Governess Gelitha were seated behind another desk facing an as-yet inactive camera. In mere moments, the camera would activate and the two of them would be broadcast across the entire planet.

“You don’t really need me for this, do you?” he asked nervously, “I mean, you probably know as much about these sports as I do by now, and you’re the fellow Matrian that everybody here is going to want to see,”

“Hardly, Captain,” Gelitha giggled, “I’m just another politician, spending my boring days in the Council Building. You’re the brave, handsome alien Captain who changed the course of our civilization,”

“That was a Senousian, actually,” Stafford gulped, “Hey, did you say handsome?”

“We’re on in thirty seconds,” the cameraman said.

“I don’t wanna do this!” Stafford said suddenly, “I don’t like talking to crowds of people I don’t know!”

“Twenty seconds,”

“You’ll be fine,” Gelitha said, “You were fine last night,”


“And ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five…” the cameraman counted down.

“And joining us today,” the announcer was saying, “We have Governess Gelitha, Minister of Athletics and the woman responsible for this event. With her is Captain Christopher Stafford of the Starfleet vessel Silverado. Whether you hate them or love them, they’re the folks who single-handedly brought our civilization back into the light of day!”

“Actually, that was a Senousian-“ Stafford started, but was quickly cut off.

“Welcome to Matrian Sports Chat,” Gelitha said, smiling broadly at the camera, “I’m really excited about this event; I think everybody will really enjoy the show we have in store. It’s been centuries, after all, since we’ve done something like this! Captain, your thoughts?”

Stafford stared at the camera for a moment.

“Meep?” he squeaked. He cleared his throat, “Ahem. Uh, yes. I’m very, um, pleased that this event will give our peoples the chance to build some bonds of common, um, friendship,”

“And with Matria Prime’s application for Federation membership all but complete, this is only the first in what we hope will be many exchanges, competitions and other events that will help bring Matria Prime closer into the Federation,” Gelitha continued, “And I promise you girls,” she gave Stafford an impish look, “Some of them are worth getting close to,”

“Meep!” Stafford squeaked again.

“So, join us this evening as the Silverado Salvagers go head to head with the Matrian Maulers in the first ever Matrian vs. Federation soccer match!”

The recording light went dim.

“See? I was awful,” Stafford exclaimed.

“You sat there and looked pretty,” Gelitha said dismissively, “That’s the kind of thing our viewers expect a man to do. See you at the field!”

Smedi made his way into Unbalanced Equations, looking just a bit like a fox sneaking into the henhouse. Technically speaking, Unbalanced Equations was the officer’s lounge and non-commissioned crew like Smedi belonged in The RoughHouse or one of the smaller lounges. In reality, neither Stafford nor Steven particularly cared where crewmembers went on their off-time. Perhaps if Smedi had actually bothered to do something other than sit in his quarters and play Galaxy of Starcraft, he might have known that.

He snuck towards the back corner, trying to stay out of the light. The lounge was fairly empty; those crewmembers that could be spared from the repair efforts had beamed down to watch the game. Smedi looked around carefully, trying to find somebody close enough to the captain to tell him what he wanted to know.

Finally, he approached Lieutenant Kennerdy.

“Hello, Lieutenant,” Smedi said politely, “And how are you today?”

“Uh, fine,” Kennerdy replied, looking a bit wary, “Hey, aren’t you that scientist that turned us all into gunk a few months ago?”

“A minor matter, truly,” Smedi waved a hand, “Listen, Lieutenant, I was wondering if you’d noticed anything…unusual about Captain Stafford lately,”

“Let me think,” Kennerdy rolled his eyes, “Nope.”


“Really. Oh, uh, I think I hear my mom calling,” Kennerdy quickly turned and walked away.

“Blast!” Smedi cursed, “I suppose I’ll just have to be more subtle!”

Down on Matria Prime, the games were about to begin. A large stadium in Matronus that according to the city plans used to be used for a sport called Methics had been pressed into service as a soccer field. Methics was almost but not quite a sport yet on Matria Prime. In several cases, not only involving the athletics world, the problem wasn’t so much that the Matrians had forgotten information, it was that there were so many arguments between Matrians who ‘remembered’ that nobody could agree as to what the information truly was. In any event, dozens of Silverado crewmembers and several thousand Matrians had packed the stadium. Vendors were selling various snack foods of Matrian and Federation origin and at least one fight had broken out between two burly, beer-swilling Matrian women. In the VIP box, Stafford sat next to Gelitha. Queen Anselia and King Hektor were sitting in plush thrones behind them, surrounded by several members of the Council of Governors. Stafford couldn’t help but notice that there were a number of extremely attractive Matrian women in the crowd. Far more than he might have expected, actually.

“I’m eager to try this beverage you brought for us,” Gelitha said, hefting the wine bottle Stafford had brought down from Silverado, “It looks interesting.”

“Hmmm?” Stafford pulled his eyes away, “Oh, right. Beer is the traditional sports watcher’s drink, but somebody’s been leaving gift bottles around the ship. Give it here, I’ll pour,”

As he served the wine, careful not to spill any of the scarlet red liquid on his white dress uniform, the crowd started to cheer as a pair of double doors at the far end of the stadium opened.

“Here we go!” Gelitha said excitedly.

“Here goes our dignity,” Stafford sighed.

“Here goes our dignity,” Jall said happily as he followed Yanick out into the stadium.

Over a dozen Silverado crew members including Jall, Yanick, Fifebee, Kerry, Madame Schoonbaert, Day and Ovens ran in pairs through the double doors and onto the green. The men wore silvery-grey shorts along with blue and grey muscle shirts, the girls wore silvery-grey mini-skirts and blue tank tops. Each had a stylized ‘S’ on the back and a grinning cartoon pirate squeezing a cartoon starship in one hand on the front. They ran to the center field, forming two lines.

“Ready?” Yanick asked. In the VIP box, Jall could see Stafford covering his eyes.

“HIT IT!” she shouted, brandishing her glowing blue pom-poms in the air as the music started to play.

We’re cool! We’re hot!

We’ll give it our best shot!

We’re killin’, we’re sweet,

Just watch us mix this beat!

As they sang, the men moved to the back as the women danced in the front, brandishing their pom-poms and shaking their behinds like it was nobody else’s business. Even Fifebee had loaded a cheerleading program into her database and was managing to keep up.

I’m Yanick! I’m pretty!

I’d love a fluffy kitty!

I’m Jall! I’m bad!

My moves are totally rad!

I’m Fifebee! I kick it!

Holography will hit it!

We cheer, and we dance!

Just come give us a chance!

“This ‘cheerleading’ is a very interesting tradition from your world,” Anselia said to Stafford from her throne. She appeared to be captivated by Jall’s gyrating hips.

“Interesting is one way of putting it,” Stafford said, trying not to wince as Fifebee did splits that would have probably killed a living human, “It depends on the male to female ratio of the cheerleaders,”

“I like the dark-skinned one,” Gelitha said, watching as Day flipped Yanick over his head, “Is he single?”

“Day?” Stafford shrugged, “Yeah, but he’s a Deltan. Sex with them turns the average humanoid’s brain into a lump of mushy putty. It’s actually illegal in the Federation.”

“Hmmm…but what a way to go,” Gelitha mused.

Stafford was confused. He and Gelitha had gotten it on a few times in the dining room, but now she was checking out other guys? Did that mean that he wasn’t any good? That she wasn’t interested? Was it possible that she had only wanted to have some fun with him before moving on?

No way. No way could he possibly be that lucky.

Yanick and the rest of the Silverado cheerleaders were just wrapping up their opening routine, as evidenced by Yanick and Fifebee being hoisted onto Jall and Ovens’ shoulders. As they cheered and ran for the sidelines, the actual teams started running into the stadium. Dr. Wowryk led the Silverado Salvagers soccer team, wearing blue and grey uniforms similar to those worn by Yanick and her cheerleading squad. Lieutenant Marsden, Lieutenant Pye, Crewman Roscoe, Nurse Veeneman, Samantha from the lounge staff and several other crewmembers following her. The Matrians were being led by a male who was very tall by Matrian standards (average male height for humans) and consisted of a mix of muscled, athletic women and wirier but still fit Matrian men wearing red and white uniforms. Stafford especially felt his gaze drawn to one woman in particular, a particularly curvaceous blond. Evidently, Gelitha noticed his unblinking stare, or possibly the drool forming around his mouth.

“That is Bethini,” she said to him, “She’s been doing a lot of research into our past recreational activities. She believes she may have discovered a sort of ‘pleasure guide’, once used by Matrian couples.”

“Like the Karma Sutra,” Stafford murmured.

“I wouldn’t know about that,” Gelitha shrugged, “But, if you like, I would be happy to arrange an introduction,”

“Really?” Stafford squeaked.

Further back in the stands, T’Parief watched as Yanick danced and cavorted on the field. He took a long sip of the Andorian beer he’d brought down from the ship, watching with amusement as a spilled drop started burning through the floor. He was still trying to get the taste of that God-awful Terran wine Yanick had poured with dinner out of his mouth. Perhaps some of the pickled Targ’s feet he’d brought down with him would do the trick!

As he bent to fish the desired snack out of his pack, he again saw Yanick dancing. His eyes were suddenly drawn to her lithe, slender limbs and to the swaying motion of her breasts as she spun around. Captivated, he didn’t even notice the scent that came over him…a scent that a human would recognize as fresh rain, with just a touch of honeysuckle.

The game started off poorly for both sides. Wowryk was running up for the kick, but managed to slip and fall on her ass. The bright side was that she did manage to hit the ball on her way down, sending it bouncing off the head of one of one of the Matrian players, sending the man stumbling to the side. The play might have been recovered, if only Veeneman and Samantha hadn’t collided with each other in a mad rush for the ball. Bethini, the Matrian player, managed to get control of the ball and rushed down the field, deftly evading the Salvagers as they tried to steal the ball from her. She fired a shot at Crewman Trac, the ship’s Velvattian botanist. Trac deftly spread out its tentacles to cover the net, easily blocking the shot.

“That creature will be a tough goalie to beat!” Anselia commented with excitement.

Indeed, as the game progressed, the Matrians found that scoring on Trac was very difficult, but still possible. Their most successful ploy involved distracting it with a shiny mirror and two Matrian men performing an interpretive dance explaining the history of the Port-a-Potty while Bithini snuck up from the opposite direction. By the time the game hit half-time, the score was tied.

Stafford was escorted to the bench as Wowryk went into her half-time speech and Yanick led her squad out for a disturbing rendition of ‘I’m Too Sexy’. He tried to pay attention to Wowryk, he really did. But his gaze kept flickering over to the Matrian Mauler’s bench. Bethini had just poured half a pitcher of water over her head, leaving her uniform top hugging in all the right areas.

As Wowryk continued blabbering on about how they had to believe, truly believe that they would win, Stafford found himself walking over.

“Hey,” he said to her, “Great game. You play very well,”

“You think so?” she asked, “How sweet,”

“Gelitha speaks highly of you,” he went on, “I can see it’s well earned,”

“OK, you’ve gotta stop the cheesey lines, bud,” Bethini said, “If you wanna get it on, just say so,”

“Um,” Stafford swallowed, “So?”

“And we’re ready to start the second half of the game!” the announcer called out, “We’ve got a tie game, with four points each to the Silverado Salvagers and the Matrian Maulers! We’ll just get both teams in place for…oh…it looks like the Maulers are missing a player!”

There was a commotion under one set of bleachers, then Bethini and Stafford ran out, Bethini heading for the field and Stafford heading for the VIP box.

“Christopher Rico Stafford!” Wowryk snapped as Stafford ran by, “That is SO TOTALLY a sin!”

Yanick’s cheerleading squad, on the other hand, started making lewd gestures and chanting ‘Do it like they do on the Discovery Channel’.

“Very nice, Captain,” Gelitha said as Stafford returned, panting, to his seat.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into me,” he said, “I wouldn’t normally…you know…”

“Have fun?” Gelitha laughed.

“I did,” Stafford admitted. They sat and watched the remainder of the game, wincing as a collision between Day and a Matrian female resulted in both being taken out of the game on stretchers, then cheering as Dr. Wowryk whipped out a protoplaster and healed both in minutes.

The game was close, but the victory went to the home team by one point. The Matrians managed to distract Trac with an impressive display of back-flips while Bethini kicked the ball through the narrow space between two of Trac’s tentacles. Dr. Wowryk indulged in a rare fit of profanity while Yanick and her squad gave a grudging congratulatory chant for the winners.

Stafford suddenly noticed a pretty young brunette in the stands.

“Excuse me,” he said, getting up.

Further back in the bleachers, Smedi watched, an evil grin forming.

“Stafford to Silverado, one to beam up please,”

“Do you wish for me to arrange an honorable death during transport?” Ensign Pysternzyks asked, tapping his comm-badge.

“No, thank you. Although at this point I could probably die happy,” came the reply.

“Humans,” Pysterzyks grunted in disgust, running his hands over the transporter controls. With the standard blue shimmer and whine, Stafford materialized on the pad. His hair was tousled, his uniform was askew and he was red in the face.

“The rest of the soccer team beamed up from the post-game party two hours ago,” Pysternzyks commented, “What took you so long?”

“None of your business,” Stafford said curtly, exiting into the corridor. It was ship’s night, but several crewmembers were still roaming the corridors. Most of them were night shift personnel, continuing the repairs to the ship. The major repairs had been completed, with the exception of the warp core which of course couldn’t be easily replaced. Reaching his quarters, Stafford quickly pulled up the sensor logs for the evening. He knew he would have been commed if anything major had happened, but for some reason he wanted to check for himself. Nothing. Nothing from the ship’s sensors, nothing from the probes they’d sent out, no reports from Matrian scout ships, nothing.

There was, however, another bottle of wine on his table.

“More white wine?” Stafford mused, eyeing the bottle, “It’s nice that somebody on the crew cares, I guess,”

Shrugging, he went to bed.

“And welcome back to Matrian Sports Chat on MESS, the Matrian Entertainment and Sports Station!” Newscaster Felitsa said, smiling into the camera, her dazzling white teeth almost blinding Stafford and sending several Matrians into epileptic seizures, “We have with us again the Matrian Minister of Athletics, Governess Gelitha, and Captain Christopher Stafford of the United Federation of Planet! Last night’s game between the Silverado Salvagers and the Matrian Maulers was a screamer, the first co-ed sports game in remembered Matrian history! Coach Wowryk led her team to a gracious defeat, with Coach Hurn and the Maulers coming out victorious! Let’s take some comms! On line one, we have Ursule from Jentar District. Ursule, you’re on!”

“Hi Felitsa! I love your show!” an image of a plump, motherly Matrian woman appeared on the screen, “I have a question for Captain Stafford,”

“Sure,” Stafford said, smiling nervously at the camera.

“Does your…what do you call it…‘cheerleading squad’ do private performances?”

Stafford blinked.

“Um, I don’t know,” he said slowly, “But knowing Yanick and Jall, probably,”

“Oh good.” Ursule smiled, “That tall skinny boy of yours is just TOO delicious! I’ve never seen a man who can move like that!”

“Oy vay,” Stafford sighed, letting his head fall to the desk.

“I agree,” Gelitha smiled, “With Ursule, anyway. Thank you for your call! It’s so good to see that last night’s game is doing so much to help us get to know our new allies,”

“Bye!” Ursule waved.

“And next we have Kreth from K’Tari District on line two,” Felitsa said.

“Hi Kreth,” Stafford said, raising his head back up, “What’s up?”

“You are SUCH a tramp!” Kreth said, “Everybody at the game saw you and Bethini come out from under the bleachers! It’s sluts like you that give us guys such a bad reputation! Honestly, sleeping around with any woman that comes your way!”

“Huh-wha?” Stafford said.

Gelitha smiled weakly at the camera.

“Just a bit of cultural misunderstanding folks,” she said, “In many cultures, things are a bit different. But thank you for your call,”

“I’m not finished-“ Kreth started, before he was cut off.

“And next,” Felitsa cut in, “We have Derethi from J’Taeri District on line one,”

“Good morning, Derethi,” Gelitha said warmly.

“I have another question for Mr. Stafford,” Derethi said, her rather average visage appearing on the screen, “How do you feel, now that you’ve lost the first game?”

This, at least, was a question Stafford had prepared for.

“Well, it always sucks to lose,” he said, “But somebody had to, right? I think the more important thing is that everybody had a good time.”

“Well said,” Gelitha nodded, “Get used to saying that, because you know the Maulers are going to clean the floor with your basketball team tonight,”

“Oh, we’ll see about that!” Stafford laughed.

For the basketball game, a different setup had proven necessary. This time, a huge indoor arena on the outskirts of Matronus had been pressed into service. The city plans listed the arena as being primarily used for Yorgenball. Yorgenball had evidently been a very popular Matrian sport back in the day, and only minor arguments still prevented it from being played professionally.

Down in the locker rooms, Stafford, Valtaic and Jeffery along with the rest of Silverado’s basketball team, were stripping out of their Starfleet uniforms and getting into their sports gear.

“What Ah don’t get,” Jeffery was saying, “is how we can have three teams of different people, all with the same name!”

“It’s because they’re representing the same ship,” Stafford said, “It’s just less confusing this way,”

“Sez you,”

“Do not let such minor matters distract you from the enjoyment of the game,” Valtaic said curtly, “Try instead to simply enjoy the exercise,”

“I was a surprised when you signed up for the basketball team,” Stafford said to Valtaic, “I thought you’d consider our sports to be nothing but ‘silly human nonsense’,”

“Of course not,” Valtaic said. Some might have found their exchange to be snide, bordering on rude, but it was simply the way Valtaic’s people did things, “Remaining fit is essential, and for both our peoples sports are an excellent means of improving both physical and emotional fitness. But although I enjoy Terran basketball, it cannot compare to a good game of Electromagnetic Frisbee,”

“You’ll have to teach us that one,” Jeffery said.

“Unlikely,” Vatlaic said coolly, no doubt annoyed by Jeffery’s obvious attempt to be polite, “As the sport involves using our bodily energy fields to manipulate the flight of an object best described to you as a Frisbee,”

“That would be a problem,” Jeffery muttered.

“I see everybody’s getting ready?” Jall said pleasantly, walking into the men’s change room,”

“Hey!” Stafford yelped, grabbing a pair of shorts and holding them strategically over his genitals, “Get out of here!”

“Oh please,” Jall rolled his eyes, “It’s nothing I haven’t seen before!”

“Yeah, Yanick said the same thing,” Jeffery said, quickly pulling his shirt on, “But we still didn’t let her in here!” Behind him, Dar’ugal and Shwaluk snickered.

“Believe me,” Jall said snidely, “Seeing you naked brings absolutely no pleasure to my life,”

“Hey!” Jeffery straightened up, looking insulted, “We’re sexy!” he turned to Stafford, “Aren’t we?”

“Once again, you are dwelling on matters that are completely irrelevant,” Valtaic said crossly, “Whether or not the homosexual finds us attractive is of no consequence, unless of course you are trying to impress him,”

“Jall, why are you here?” Stafford asked tiredly.

“Oh, right,” Jall sighed, “I’m supposed to tell Jeffery that the coaches are supposed to meet with the referee in five minutes,”

“Thanks. Now scram,”

“Y’know,” Jeffery said as Jall left and Stafford resumed changing, “Usually the coach doesn’t actually play in the game,”

“Well, technically you’re more of a Team Captain,” Stafford said, “But I wanted to be the only Captain on the field,”

“Ego-trip,” Jeffery muttered.

“Well,” Valtaic said, clapping his hands over his chest in an expression of readiness, “Let us begin!”

“Those,” Stafford muttered to Jeffery, “Are big women,”

“Aye,” Jeffery gulped, staring at the female members of the co-ed Matrian basketball team. Each one was well over six and a half feet tall. “Are ye as turned on as I am?”

“I refuse to answer that question, on the grounds that I’m too busy staring at that redhead,” Stafford replied.

Yanick’s cheerleading squad was again warming up the crowd, singing some ridiculous song about how this was ‘The Final Countdown’. The Matrian women watching in the stands hooted and hollered, cheering on Lieutenant Day as he danced forward, let by Yanick and Kerry. He started going into a Deltan fertility dance, and though the genuine dance was performed nude and at about half the current tempo, Day at least limited himself to stripping off his shirt, much to the enjoyment of the Matrian women. The Matrian men appeared to be at least moderately entertained by the female dancers, though they were considerably less demonstrative in their enthusiasm.

“This is a really weird planet,” Crewman Gibson observed, sitting next to Counselor Yvonnokoff. (Much to her irritation.)

“Jas, is vunderful,” Yvonnokoff said, tapping frantically on her padd, “I vill get paper, maybe two out of zis mixed-up culture!”

“Uh, right,” Gibson twisted from side to side, trying to see past T’Parief’s bulk as the huge officer sat stone-still in front of the short, slightly chubby crewman, his eyes again locked on Yanick.

The basketball game went almost the same as the soccer game. The Matrians, though playing an alien sport, were in somewhat better shape than the Salvagers, most of whom had just started seriously practicing a few days previously. Dar’ugal was playing the center forward position, and seemed to have a knack for keeping control of the ball. (His two-meter plus height was a big help, too.) Stafford and Shwaluk stayed back on defense until Shwaluk tried to intercept a pass between two of the Matrian players. He somehow managed to trip over his own feet, stumbling several steps before crashing into one of the Matrians. The Matrian pushed him away roughly, sending him bouncing off of Dar’ugal. Shwaluk tried to get his footing by grabbing the Barudan officer’s thick, red fur, resulting in a scream of pain and a reflexive elbow jab from Dar’ugal. The end result was Shwaluk lying on the arena floor covered with tufts of red hair, blood pouring from his nose and an obviously broken leg. As the unlucky crewman was carried away, Stafford jumped as he felt a hand on his buttocks.

“Meet me after the game,” the Matrian woman breathed.

Watching from the crowd, Smedi grinned.

“This is working perfectly!” he murmured to himself. After the butt-grope that had been seen across the planet, it was obvious that Stafford and the Matrian woman could barely keep their eyes off of each other, to the point where Jeffery benched Stafford in favor of Lieutenant Burke. (The Matrian player had also been benched, but Smedi didn’t really care about that.) It hadn’t even been ten minute before the Matrian woman whispered something in her coach’s ear, and then walked back towards the locker rooms. Stafford followed less than thirty seconds later, not even bothering to tell Jeffery where he was going.

“Perfectly,” Smedi said again, his grin taking on a slightly evil aspect, “Tomorrow, it all comes to a head!”

His plotting was interrupted when a scaled elbow slammed into the back of his head. Behind him and to one side T’Parief had been joined by Yanick and the two of them were making out frantically.

“Get a room!” Smedi hissed, rubbing the back of his head.

The game was over. The Salvagers had pulled off a narrow victory, thanks mostly to Dar’ugal’s excellent ball handing and ability to dunk. The spectators had dispersed to their various entertainments, while the two teams had been escorted to one of Matronus’s more exclusive night spots.

“You know, this whole sports celebrity thing has its advantages,” Jall said as he snagged a complimentary beverage off a passing tray.

“We were already celebrities on this planet,” Fifebee pointed out. Somebody had planted a disco-ball on top of her holo-relay and made the thing part of the lighting system.

“Yeah, but sports celebrities are cooler than ‘we blew up your ships and changed the course of your civilization’ celebrities.

“Don’t let it go to your head,” Dr. Wowryk advised, sipping a glass of mineral water, “This whole thing is gluttonous and sinful,”

“Sort of like our fearless leader this week,” Jall observed, watching as Stafford emerged from a back room with yet another Matrian woman, “This is just years of sexual repression being purged,”

“He’s being a perverted man, as usual,” Wowryk said darkly, “The only difference is that he’s actually succeeding this time instead of merely trying and failing,” she frowned, “Or talking about trying, but never actually trying,”

“You know,” Stafford said, grabbing a Matrian beer and wincing at the wine-cooler-like taste, “Maybe this mission won’t be so bad after all. You know, aside from the whole ‘we got attacked and lost our warp core’ thing,”

“Yer not mad that I benched ye in the game, are ye?” Jeffery asked.

“Nope. I had better things to do,”

“About that,” Jeffery said, “What’s gotten into ye? Ye’ve spent the past three years getting’ less female tail than Jall, now ye’re suddenly…suddenly…”

“On a lucky streak?” Stafford supplied.

“Aye! It’s…bizarre! Ye’ve never been such a…such a…”

“Stud? Player?”

“I was gonna say man-whore, but aye, those too,”

“You’ve been hanging around Dr. Wowryk too long,” Stafford observed.

“Heh. With the number of Matrian STI’s ye’ve probably picked up, ye’ll be seein’ a lot more of her, too,”

Stafford rolled his eyes.

“Come on, Jeffery!” he said, “I’m doing what a good starship Captain is supposed to do, aren’t I? I’ve got to keep my quota up! Spread the love!”

“Aye,” Jeffery shrugged, “It’s just…not ye. Ye never cared about that load of bollocks until now.”

“Well, sometimes you have to do things a bit differently,” Stafford said defensively, “You’re only young once!”

“Aye, Ah suppose,” Jefferey said. He noticed Wowryk a short distance away, talking amicably with one of the slightly-built Matrian men, “Ah guess everybody needs a little companionship now and then,”

He turned back, but Stafford had gone chasing after yet another Matrian woman.

Suddenly on his own, Jeffery sighed. The party had suddenly lost all appeal. Better he should find something useful to do. He’d beam up to the ship and spend a few hours trying to figure out what happened to Sylvia. Yeah. That would be a much better use of his time.

Suddenly galvanized by the thought, he called for beam-up.

The next day, Stafford sat back in the VIP box surrounded by Matrian Governors and Governesses, waiting for the final game, the hockey game, to begin. He’d let T’Parief handle the MESS interview, since he was the hockey coach after all. (Lieutenant Commander Stern, the ship’s actual hockey coach, was annoyed to no end at being temporarily demoted to assistant.) Things were tied: the Matrians had won at soccer, Silverado had won at basketball. Officially, he didn’t care who came out on top, but unofficially he hoped to see some Matrian ass kicked. And best of all, since the game took place on a sheet of ice instead of a grassy field or hardwood court, he wouldn’t have to watch Yanick lead Jall in another round of ridiculous cheerleading!

Stafford’s hopes were quickly dashed as Yanick and her squad skated onto the ice and promptly went into a simple but entertaining figure-skating routine, choreographed to ‘We’re Not Going to Take It!’. The women were wearing blue tutus over silvery leotard; the men were wearing silvery tights.

“That’ll teach me to doubt her,” he sighed to himself. Fine. Whatever. As much as he enjoyed seeing Nurse Veeneman in a sexy miniskirt, checking out Fifebee would be weird and checking out Yanick would just be dangerous. Plus, the concept of Jall or Day wearing tights was enough to bring his lunch back up for a second appearance. OK. So he’d just take the opportunity to check out some of the Matrian women in the crowd. Maybe he could work a bit more magic…

Finally, the figure-skating was over and the game begun. The puck was dropped, and the Matrians immediately seized control, scoring a goal against the Salvagers in less than thirty seconds. T’Parief countered by snatching the puck at the next drop and passing it up to Stern, who managed to slip it neatly into the Matrian net. The game continued at a fast pace, the puck and players moving swiftly from one side of the ice to the other. What T’Parief lacked in skating abilities, he made up for in his ability to squash any opponent who got in his way. Stern proved quite adept at puck handling, and Sage was proving an adequate goalie.

In the end though, it was a Matrian victory in the last thirty seconds of overtime.

“Well,” Stafford grunted as the players lined up to shake hands, “That’s that. Now where did that blond run off to?”

There was a sudden flurry around the VIP box as a horde of reporters and cameramen suddenly swarmed it.

“Captain Stafford! What’s your response to the charges?”

“Could this mean the end of Federation-Matrian relations?”

“How does it feel to be a lying scum-bag?”

“What the…” Stafford looked around frantically, seeing nothing but flashing lights. The nearby spectators were staring and Queen Anselia was rising to her feet, looking just as surprised as everybody else.

“Captain Stafford, if you’ll come with us…” there was suddenly two burly Matrian security guards and an officer from Matrian Planetary Defense standing right in front of him.

“What’s going on?” he demanded.

“You’re under arrest for the use of illegal substances,” the officer informed him, pulling his hands behind his back.

“On whose authority?” Queen Anselia demanded, “How dare you! This man is a visiting dignitary!”

“Your Majesty, we received an anonymous tip that this man has been using wine drugged with Senousian pheromones to seduce women,” the officer explained, “We need to take him in for questioning and drug testing.”

“Wine,” Stafford murmured. Then, louder, “Wait. Do your test right here, right now. If I’m dirty, I’ll go with you.”

The detective and officers exchanged glances.

“Sir, this could be very embarrassing, given the public nature of-“

“I think the USS Embarrassment has gone to warp,” Stafford snapped. He could see Wowryk, Jeffery and Jall working their way towards him through the crowd.

The Matrians were looking confused.

“I’m already embarrassed,” Stafford explained, “Just do your tests!” Next to him, Anselia nodded her approval.

“Excellent, excellent,” Smedi grinned, staring through a set of electro-binoculars as the officers started to cuff Stafford. “Ms. Thompson is going to love this news report!”

He watched as Stafford started arguing with the guards. To Smedi’s surprise, they stopped trying to cuff him. Instead, it looked like…like…was that a drug testing kit they were bringing out?

“Oh, perfect!” he giggled. In his head, the headlines had just changed from ‘Starfleet Officer Arrested on Suspicion of Drug Use’ to ‘Starfleet Officer Tests Positive for Illegal Drugs at Sporting Event’.

Wowryk, Jeffery and Jall had just arrived on the scene and were watching as a Matrian medic was brought forward to administer the test.

“What the…”

“So terribly sorry for the misunderstanding,” the Matrian police officers were saying, “We, um, obviously received some bad intelligence in this matter,”

“Get out of here!” Anselia said angrily, “We will be talking to the Commissioner tomorrow morning! Captain Stafford, We are so very sorry!”

“I don’t think it was your officer’s fault,” Stafford said, pulling Jeffery, Wowryk and Jall to the side, “I think somebody tried to sabotage me!”

Across the stadium, Smedi cursed.

The four officers were scanning the arena, surrounded by Matrian security guards as they pushed their way through the crowds.

“If I may, Captain,” Wowryk was saying, “I’m trilled that your descent into sinful gluttony doesn’t include the use of mind-altering drugs,”

“Is that a compliment or an insult?” Jeffery wondered.

“Is the glass half full or half empty?” Wowryk shot back.

“The glass wasna’ engineered to proper specs!”

“Come on, you two,”

“What’s the rush?” Jeffery asked, “Yer clean, right?”

“I’m clean,” Stafford said, “But look, somebody’s been leaving me bottles of white wine since this whole sporting thing started! Then I get accused of using drugged wine to seduce Senousian women? Sounds a bit fishy to me! Somebody planted that drugged wine on me!”

“It does,” Wowryk agreed, “But, if you tested negative, no harm done, right?”

“How did ye manage that anyway?” Jeffery asked.

“I hate white wine!” Stafford said, “Can’t stand it!”

“So what did ye do with it?”

“I replicated myself a nice Primitivo and gave the white crap to…” Stafford trailed off.


“I had no idea doing it a locker room could be so hot!” Yanick giggled.

“For sure,” T’Parief replied, leaning up against the wall as he inhaled a Matrian cigarette. He was still wearing most of his hockey equipment, and the gloves especially had proven useful in shielding Yanick from his claws.

“Y’know, I don’t know what’s come over us,” Yanick sighed, lying her head against his chest, “I mean, you were so…hesitant…”

“I do not know what came over me either,” T’Parief replied, looking down at Yanick and cradling her against his side, “But I liked it.”

“Yeah,” Trish sighed. She took another long pull from the latest wine bottle Stafford had given her. She and T’Parief had saved this one until after the game, but it was already close to empty.

As she drank, T’Parief was suddenly overcome with the scene of fresh rain and honeysuckle. He had no idea what Yanick was putting in her hair lately, but it was turning him on something fierce!

The wine bottle went spinning away, forgotten, as T’Parief began kissing Yanick passionately.

Captain’s Personal Log:

“Well, the Sports Competition was a rousing success. We’ve managed to build some new ties between the Federation and the Matrian people, nobody was hurt, and I got more action than a Risan on Friday night.”

“Commander T’Parief and Lieutenant Commander Fifebee have attempted to trace the drugged wine to its source, but have come up dry. Unfortunately, I have no idea if the attempt to get me arrested was an attempt by a Matrian faction to disrupt the membership negotiations or a prank by a member of my crew that just went to far.

“As for Lieutenant Yanick…”

“I just don’t know what got into us,” Yanick said. She and Stafford were seated in Unbalanced Equations, “I mean, we’ve been kinda…hesitant to…y’know,”

“Do it?” Stafford suggested.

“Well, yeah. I mean, Pari was kinda worried that his claws or fangs would be a problem.” Yanick scratched her head, “Actually, I was pretty worried about that too. But it turns out that if you just wrap him up in hockey gear, it’s a all good!”

“I see,” Stafford swallowed, “Look, Yanick, there’s something-“

“And what about you?” Yanick asked, giving him a conspiring look, “You’ve certainly been a bad boy lately!”

Stafford grunted.

“Yeah. But you know, I think I’m going to have to cut that out. I had to get that out of my system, but y’know, I’ve got a reputation to build on this planet, and I don’t think sleeping with every Matrian woman I meet is going to help,” he sighed, “Besides, I think I need a rest from all that ‘fun’,”

“Ohh, now you’re back to your boring old self again!” Yanick pouted.

“What can I say?” Stafford grinned, “I like me!” He became serious again, “But Trish, there’s something-“

“Captain!” Fifebee shouted, running into the room, “Come quickly! One of the scientists has engineered a mutant platypus, and it is running amok!”

“What the…” Stafford jumped to his feet, “Stay here, Trish,”

He followed Fifebee into the corridor, then nearly fell over when she stopped suddenly.

“Where’s the-“

“There is no platypus,” Fifebee informed him, “However, I believe you were about to inform Lieutenant Yanick that the new level reached in her relationship with Commander T’Parief is due to the effects of drugged wine,”

“Yeah, but-“

“I suggest you do not,” Fifebee said.


“Sylvia and I had observed that the two of them were having serious relationship problems in regards to their sex life,” Fifebee explained, matter-of-fact, “I believe that if they realize that they were drugged it would be destructive to their relationship,”

“As opposed to them building their relationship with a lie?”

“I believe that now that they are ‘over the hump’, so to speak-“

“Oh, geez, you had to say it like that!”

“-that their relationship can now flourish rather than stagnate.” Fifebee continued, “Indeed, Lieutenant Yanick has already begun replicated rugby equipment for Commander T’Parief,”

“Right, fine,” Stafford said. “I won’t tell her. But T’Parief knows about the wine. He probably will.”

“I am sure he will,” Fifebee said, after a moment’s thought, “But better coming from him than you.”

“Yeah, that’s true. Good thinking.”

“Then I bid you a good evening,” Fifebee nodded and turned to leave.

“Hey, Fifebee?” Stafford called.


“What’s with the sudden non-gossip interest in their relationship?” he asked, “And how did you even know what Yanick and I were talking about?”

“Hmm,” Fifebee thought for a moment, “I do not know,”

“Ah well,” Stafford shrugged, “See you later.”

“See you later, dear,” Fifebee said.


“Starfleet Officer Falsely Accused in Matrian Police Mix-Up” Lydia Thompson read. She did not look amused, “Nothing else came in on the Matrian feed today?”

“Just the hockey scores,” her secretary replied.

“Hmmm,” Thompson mused. She’d received a message from Smedi, her relatively new, somewhat bumbling operative on Silverado, telling her to watch today’s Matrian headlines closely. The office of Ambassador Ovens had been feeding Matrian news broadcasts back to Starfleet Command ever since the subspace relay had gone online, and so far as she could tell, there was nothing in today’s transmission that could be useful.

“Incoming transmission for you, Ma’am,” her secretary called, “It’s coming in from the Matrian sector relay,”

“Put it though,”

The screen flickered for a moment, then Trent Smedi appeared on the screen.

“Is this what I am supposed to be impressed about?” she demanded before Smedi could even speak, holding up the padd with the Matrian new report, “I believe you were supposed to sabotage Stafford, not make him into an innocent victim!”

“I don’t understand what happened!” Smedi objected, “My plan was flawless!”

“Obviously not,” Thompson snapped, “Mr. Smedi, I’m sorry, but I’m afraid this relationship is no longer profitable,”

“Wait, I can-“

“Humanoid Resources thanks you for your efforts,” Thompson said, her voice chilling, “I remind you, Humanoid Resources cannot be held responsible for damages incurred while attempting plots, schemes or other diabolical efforts,”


“Good day,”

Cutting the channel, Thompson leaned back in her chair.

“Sometimes you have to know when to call it quits,” she mused. She though back to her time aboard Silverado, and how Stafford had had the nerve to not only refuse a direct instruction from Humanoid Resouces, but to actually throw her off the ship.

“And sometimes, you just have to know when to take half-time,”