Star Traks, Waystation, and REM's Document belong to Alan Decker. The Explorer, her fated crew, and all the mistakes and uncomfortable situations that come about because of her are gladly owned by Anthony Butler, Copyright 1998. Paramount owns everything else, including my eternal soul. If you're offended by mildly disturbing language, situations, and the utter disregard of some of Star Trek's greatest premises, better hit the "Back" button on your browser right now. If not, welcome aboard!

Author: Anthony Butler
Copyright: 1998

HISTORIAN’S NOTE: This book takes place shortly after the re-construction of Waystation.


“Smile–it’s free!”

Some Hippy Idiot


:) PROLOGUE


UNITED FEDERATION OF FUN

THE FUNSHIP SECONDPRIZE


“The Multek vessels are closing on us fast,” Andrea

Sulli-fun called out from the helm console. “They’ll

finish off our shields in less than a minute.”

“Damn,” Happymaster Travvy Dillon cursed to himself,

gripping the helm console as another burst from the Multek

vessel pounded the Secondprize’s shields. “And where, pray

tell, are our reinforcements?”

“Emperor Webber has sent the Enterprise to assist,”

Patty Hawkins said happily from the tactical console.

“Picard will help us.”

“You ditz!” Travvy shrieked in panic. “That

insufferable, effiminate, sherrry-drinking bastard has

wanted my job from day one!”

“Happymaster, surely you’re not saying that another

Federation Funship would–”

“I’m not saying anything. What’s the ETA of the

Enterprise?”

“Just under a minute,” Sulli-fun ticked off.

“Put their approach on the viewscreen and get me an

open frequency as soon as they’re in range.”

Suddenly the doors to the aft turbolift swished open

and the irritating squeak of rubber brushing against rubber

poured onto the bridge.

Travvy didn’t have to turn around to see who was

breathing heavily behind him. “Lisa-love. I thought I

told you to remain belowdecks.”

“It’s awful lonely down there,” Lisa-love said, running a

finger through Travvy’s hair.

Travvy whirled around. “I’m kind of busy now,

darling. I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!”

Lisa-love had become more and more annoying ever since she

had given up her command status to act as Travvy’s faithful

love servant. Such had been the price of her loss of

Playstation to the rebels. Without that loss, thought

Travvy wryly, he probably wouldn’t be in the predicament he

was in right now.

“Shields have failed!” Patty called out, glaring

jealously at Lisa-love. “Our hull is compromised on three

decks!”

“What about the Enterprise?” Travvy called back,

ignoring Lisa-love for the moment.

Commander Zackie Ford looked up from his panel.

“Coming in on a vector of three two one mark zero at full

impulse. They’re fending off the Multeks, Happymaster!”

Travvy smiled fiendishly. “Maybe Picard has a trace

of honor left in him. Get him on-screen.”

The view of scattering Multek ships suddenly gave way

to a view of the Enterprise’s sassy and bright bridge,

decorated with a satisfactory splash of color over sensible

wood-paneled walls and oriental rugs.

Captain Jean-jean Picard stepped into view, causing

Travvy to immediately scrub a hand down his bearded face.

Picard was still wearing that silly sailor’s outfit, along

with its outlandish tassled Captain’s hat. Something about

the Enterprise’s original lineage inspired the warped man to

wear the outfit, and he had once told Travvy that the pants

made him feel powerful.

The Happymaster shivered as Picard addressed him.

“Hello, Travvy. How nice it is to see you again. I see

I caught you in a spot of trouble.”

“Yes, um, thanks for the help,” Travvy replied

tiredly.

Picard nodded. “We can negotiate my…payment later,

sweetheart. What I need from you is a deal. It seems your

ship is damaged and you are almost defenseless. It would be

a shame if it was…beyond repair.”

“What are you talking about, Jean-jean?” Travvy asked

angrily. He didn’t like the sound of this. “Aside from

some hull fractures, the Secondprize is fine.”

“Is it?”

Patty suddenly looked up from her panel in horror.

“Happymaster! Incoming!”

An array of panels exploded behind her, throwing her

over her station and to the ground.

Zackie jumped over the tactical railing and assessed

the situation. “They just knocked out our first and third

command processors, your Happyness!”

On the viewscreen, Picard twirled a hand in the air

happily. “Frere Travvy, Frere Travvy, dormez-vous, dormez

vous? Sonner la matina, Sonner la matina…”

“He’s going to destroy us just so he can take over

your job?” Lisa-love asked angrily from behind Travvy.

“It would certainly seem that way,” Travvy said,

annoyed. “Damn ladderclimber.”

Picard turned again to face Travvy. “Morning bells

are ringing for you, brother Travvy. Will you wake up, or

shall I put you to sleep…permanently?”

With a wave of the Frenchman’s hand, another spread of

torpedoes crashed into the Secondprize.

“Breaches all over the secondary hull. Massive

casualties coming in, Happyness!” Ford called out from

tactical.

“Well, this is a pickle,” Travvy said thoughtfully.

“This is a pickle?” Lisa-love said frantically. “A

PICKLE? Is that all you can say?”

“What would you like me to say? That I know a way to

get us out of this in one piece? Ha. I wish I did.”

Suddenly Ford looked up from his panel in amazement.

“Happyness, a vessel just decloaked off our bow. It’s the

Defiant!”

“As if we didn’t have enough problems,” Lisa-love

muttered.

“Sir, they’re–”

Five beams suddenly coalesced on the bridge of the

Secondprize. Before anyone on the ruined bridge could

react, they were felled with phaser blasts, until Travvy and

Lisa-love were the only crewmembers left standing.

One of the members of the party stepped forward,

looking Lisa-love and Travvy up and down incredulously. “Fancy

meeting you two here,” Dr. Singer said ironically. “Call

me sentimental, but I wanted to see my old ship one last

time before it’s destroyed.”

“You’re nuts, Becky,” Travvy said. “What do you

hope to accomplish by being here?”

“If I’m lucky,” Singer shrugged, clamping a hand

down on Travvy and Lisa-love’s wrists. “A sweet ransom for you

two pretties. Singer to Defiant. Pull us out.”

Before Travvy or Lisa-love could protest, they were gone

in an electric shimmer.


“Merde! Where did they come from!” Picard cried from

the command chair, batting its armrests like a child having

a tantrum.

Commander Data turned from his position at ops.

“Presumably, they decloaked, Captain.”

“Well, destroy them!”

“That is easier said than done, sir,” Data said.

“They have recloaked, on an apparent course back to

Playstation.”

Picard turned back to regard Lt. Woofie at tactical.

“Then transport the Yynsian aboard so we can interrogate

him and destroy the Secondprize. I’ve grown tired of looking at

it.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” the towering Klingon said

in a cartoony voice. Picard felt that Woofie had way too

much hostility ever since he had forced him to divide his

ponytail into two cute, girlish pigtails.

Picard watched in satisfaction as beams lashed out at

the Secondprize, burning through its engineering hull and

incinerating the warp core shielding, until the whole thing

exploded in a bright dance of light.

The Captain took his hat off and turned to face his

bridge crew, a solemn expression on his face. “Ladies and

gentlemen, the Secondprize is a loss. As is the former

Happymaster.” He sniffed and wiped a tear from his eye.

“Contact the Emperor with the bad news. Then submit my

application, along with my resume and a few good references.

And try to get the spelling right this time, Woofie.”

Woofie nodded as he carried out the orders. “Shall I

contact our allies in case something should go wrong?”

Picard giggled jovially. “Yes, yes, Mr. Woofie. At

any rate, they will make charming companions at the party I

shall throw once we retake Playstation.”

“Goodie,” Woofie said giddily.

Data turned a gaze up to Picard. “If I may ask, sir,

how can we be sure that Happymaster Dillon is dead? Perhaps

he was beamed away by the team from the Defiant.”

“I’m sure he was, Data,” Picard said, leaning down and

putting a hand on Data’s shoulder. “That’s why we’re going

to chase them all to Playstation and put an end to this be-

damned rebel menace once and for all. You’d like that,

wouldn’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” Data nodded.

Picard gave him a little nudge on the chin. “I knew

you would. Now prepare my bath and my ducky. I feel like

splashing around a bit before we reach Playstation.”


DELTA QUADRANT


If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.


Waves of joy spread throughout the billowing pink

plasma eternity that was the Crebius cluster. Inside, a

giant eyeball spastically bounced back and forth like a

tennisball. The eyeball represented a link between the

higher, transcendent functions of the beings known to many

in the Delta Quadrant as “The Directors” and the corporeal

beings they liked to call “The Audience.”

The Directors thought they had everything planned up

until and including the moment when the Starship from the

Other Side ripped through their dwelling and seared it with

a weapon that they had not expected. A weapon that pushed

their evolved, transcendent brains past the point of sanity

and well into an unbearable, but happy, oblivion.

The year and a half that passed since that unfortunate

moment saw no ease to the madness that afflicted these

peaceful creatures. Months ago they had reconciled

themselves to the fact that it simply would never end.

Then, finally, the Starship that had afflicted them pushed

into them again, causing their innermost being to be warped

even more. They didn’t know what to do; they’d never

confronted emotions like the ones that surged through them.

Happy-sappy-happy emotions. So they did the only thing they

could as they caressed the hull of that Nebul-class vessel.

They pushed and pulled and tore at the purple clouds around

them…turning the very make-up of the cluster and its

corresponding link with the Bermuda Expanse in the Alpha

Quadrant inside-out.


If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to

show it,

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.


And the Starship responded by plunging right through

them toward whatever lie on the other side.


:) CHAPTER ONE


USS EXPLORER


Captain’s Log,

Stardate 52605.5. We’re currently docked at

Waystation while the Explorer is resupplied for another trip

into the fringes of Beta Quadrant. It’s been an interesting

few months, but I’m glad to see some familiar sights again.

Space can be a pretty darn lonely place if you let it get to

you. That’s why I’m glad to know that we can return to a

friendly little port of call like Waystation.


“Well?” Lt. Hartley asked, trying to get a glimpse of

Lt. J’hana behind the menu she was reading. “What do you

recommend?”

“Silence,” J’hana barked, returning her eyes to the

menu. She had been looking forward to trying out the

Andorian restaurant on Waystation for quite some time, since

she hadn’t had the time to try it the previous times she had

been in the area. Unfortunately, J’hana had run into Lt.

Hartley en route to the restaurant, and the transporter chief

seemed intent on going along with J’hana to sample the

cuisine.

“I don’t know about you, J’hana, but I’m getting

really worried about that stench coming from the kitchen.

It smells like burning rubber.”

“That smell, Lieutenant, is bashtak, and it only gives

off that odor when it is very fresh,” J’hana said briskly.

“Maybe I’ll just have a hamburger.”

J’hana slammed the menu down so hard it shook the

table. “You are at an Andorian restaurant. You WILL NOT

have a hamburger. There is a Sandwhich Star stand just on

the other side of the food court if that is what you wish to

eat. Otherwise, you will eat what I order and you will not

complain.”

“I can only hope the food is half as good as the

conversation,” Hartley muttered, picking up her own menu

and trying to make sense of it. “Why couldn’t you get us

Federation Standard menus anyway?”

J’hana made an irritated noise. “I read Federation

Standard every single day. I speak Federation Standard

every day. I hear Federation Standard every day. If I have

the opportunity to speak and read my native tongue, I will

do so.”

“Gotcha,” Hartley replied, going back to her menu. Her

latest attempt to be nice to the only person on the Explorer

crew that was grumpier than she was not going as well as

planned.

“Hello, ladies,” a man in a well-tailored suit said

excitedly, approaching behind J’hana and Hartley and pulling

up a chair. “Here from the Explorer?”

“Go away,” J’hana said, without looking up from her

menu.

The man turned to Lt. Hartley withoug missing a beat.

“Could I take a moment to talk to you about being prepared?”

“You heard my friend. Scram,” Hartley said.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” the man replied,

pulling a card out of his jacket and handing it to Hartley.

“The name’s Bradley Dillon, and I am the CEO of Dillon

Enterprises. We are dedicated to advancing exploration,

much like you. You two enjoy discovering new cultures and

planets, right?”

“It’s a living,” J’hana muttered, not looking up from

her menu.

“Well, what if I said I could offer you two the chance

to explore the galaxy without the constraints of Federation

law? We would have a powerful ship, all the equipment we’d

ever need–and adventure beyond your wildest dreams.”

“We get plenty of adventure without your help, Mr.

Dillon,” Hartley said.

“That may be. But you know what you don’t have?

Risk! Sure, it’s all well and good to visit the far reaches

of space in a Galaxy-class starship. Anyone could do that.

Hell, they’re even sending families out there. But we could

go places that even your fancy ship doesn’t dare venture.

What would you say to a trip to the Galactic Core? We could

meet God, have a nice catered lunch, then catch a holonovel.

It would be so much fun!”

“I would say the Galactic Core is off-limits to…adventurers,”

J’hana said, turning a dark grimace on Bradley.

“Sure it is. That’s why they call it risk! How can

you take an authorized risk?” he turned back to Hartley.

“I’m prepared to offer you this trip for a very reasonable

price. I’d even offer my services as guide absolutely

free.” Bradley turned back to J’hana. “And you both could

come. The more the merrier.”

J’hana considered what Bradley said thoughtfully. “So,

Mr. Dillon. You say you are an expert in making

preparations?”

“Yes, ma’am!”

“Then I have something for you to prepare for.

Prepare to have your scrotum ripped off and crammed into

your ears!” J’hana lunged across the table at Bradley and

knocked him back to the floor.

“Help!” Bradley cried, as J’hana pushed him into a dirt-

filled circle at the center of the restaurant. It appeared

to be a sandbox or a rock garden of some sort.

“Mishtak!” one of the Andorian waiters cried out.

“Gather everyone, and place your bets. Mishtak has begun!”

Hartley squeezed past the gathering crowd and looked to

the waiter. His nametag read “Baughb.”

“What’s Mishtak?”

“A traditional Andorian restaurant brawl. I told the

manager that it would be useless to put in the Mishtak

circle–that we didn’t get many Andorians in here. But now

I’m glad he didn’t listen to me.”

Hartley watched in dismay as J’hana rammed sand into

Bradley’s mouth. “And what exactly is the point of this?”

“The winner recieves a free meal,” Baughb explained.

“How nice.”

“Mercy! Mercy!” Bradley cried, scrambling out of the

circle and darting off through the crowd.

He slammed right into Lt. Commander Walter Morales, who

had been attracted by all the noise.

“What’s the problem here?” Morales asked, looking down

at Bradley and then over to J’hana, who dusted her uniform off

with satisfaction.

“That woman attacked me!” Bradley cried. “I was just

trying to make conversation and she nearly killed me!”

“Is that right, Lieutenant?” Morales asked, turning to

J’hana.

“According to Andorian by-laws, I responded to his

challenge within the constraints of custom. And since the

challenge was made in a restaurant, I am entitled to a free meal.”

“Right away,” Baughb said, disappearing into the kitchen.

“Well, I don’t know much about Andorian law, but I

know we don’t condone brawls in any part of this station,”

Morales said. “This will be reported to your commanding

officer.”

“I will try to recover from that, Commander,” J’hana

said, picking her seat up and sitting back down. “Now,

Lieutenant Hartley, prepare to have an excellent meal.”

Morales raised a hand to say something else, but then

decided to leave well enough alone. He turned on a heel and

left the restaurant.

“You haven’t heard the last from me,” Bradley said, as he

scuttled back towards his store. “I plan on filing an

official protest with the Federation council!”

“Be gone, cretin!” J’hana shouted.

“So, do you feel better now that that’s out of your

system, J’hana?” Hartley asked, watching Bradley scramble

off with satisfaction.

“Much better,” J’hana said. She watched as the waiter

lowered two dishes in front of them.

Hartley looked down at the squirming, furry lump on her

plate. It was drenched in some kind of milky yellow fluid.

“What is this?”

“Smothered Naardit,” J’hana explained as she withdrew

her ceremonial blade and cut into the furry lump, causing

air to seep out of it with a puff. Hartley sniffed as the

steam escaped and immediately thought she would be sick.

“For Pete’s sake, J’hana, it smells like raw sewage!”

“Only when very fresh.” J’hana picked up a fork and

dug in.

For her part, Hartley pushed the plate away and hurried

over to the Sandwich Star.


Captain Andy Baxter stepped out of the turbolift

and gave a cursory look around Ops.

“Can I help you?” a man in a blue-collared uniform

asked from the science station.

“I was looking for Commander Beck,” Baxter said,

looking the man over a moment. “Hey, I know you. Craig

Porter!”

Porter looked Baxter over a moment, perplexed. His

eye caught on Baxter’s captain’s pips. “Can’t say I

remember you, Captain.”

“Baxter, Andy Baxter!”

Porter looked down. “Not familiar.”

“We served on the same ship together for more than two

years! And we came through here a few months ago and saved

this system from Flarn annihilation. Doesn’t any of that

ring a bell?”

“Well, I don’t really have that great a memory.”

“Sure you do. I remember when we were on the

Secondprize you used to memorize shield prefix codes as a

hobby. It was amazing.”

“Yeah,” Porter grunted, clearing his throat and

adjusting his collar. “Well, that’s numbers.”

“I’ll take it from here, Craig,” Commander Lisa Beck’s

calm voice said from behind Porter. The Lieutenant let out

a long, relieved breath. “What do you want, Captain?” Beck

asked, eying Baxter suspiciously.

Baxter held up his hands in surrender. “Just to talk.

Listen, I know when the Aerostar left here and got tossed to

the Delta Quadrant we weren’t on the best of terms, and I

don’t like being on anyone’s bad side.”

Beck looked at Baxter thoughtfully and sighed, turning

on a heel, gesturing toward her office. “Fine. C’mon.”

Lieutenant Sean Russell crossed over to the science

console, watching as Baxter and Beck disappeared behind the

doors of Beck’s office. “What’s he doing here?”

“The Explorer’s in for resupply and I guess Captain

Baxter wants to make amends with the Commander.”

“Poor woman,” Russell said, lowering his head in

sadness.

“What about me? I had to talk to him too.”

“Listen, their Chief Surgeon pulled skewers right out

of my chest and walked away!”

Porter examined his panel and then looked back up.

“The whole crew is full of crackpots. Why do you think they

were sent to the Delta Quadrant in the first place?

Starfleet wanted to get rid of them.”

Russell nodded. “Yeah, well, I wonder what the

chances are that they’ll get lost again.”

“Don’t hold your breath.”


“The usual, Commander?” Mirk asked, putting down the

glass he was polishing as Commander Conway slumped into a

seat at the bar.

“Um, no. Uh, why don’t you just make it a Yynsian

herbal tea with a sprinkle of umgee root.”

Mirk staggered back, as if he was just hit with a

phaser. “Excuse me? Herbal tea? Are you kidding?

Commander, you’ve ordered the same thing for a year and a

half. Why change now?”

Conway shot Mirk a very serious look. “Man cannot

live by coffee alone. Anyway, it’s important to be open

about your tastes. That’s part of what exploration is all

about.”

“Uh-huh. Commander, could you turn around real

quick?”

Conway dutifully slid off his barstool and turned

around, then resumed his seat. “What was that for?”

Mirk shrugged. “I just wanted to make sure you didn’t

have an alien neural parasite attached to your neck.”

“Enough funny stuff Mirk, just get the damn drink,”

Conway grumbled, pounding the bar in frustration.

The Maloxian ducked down and called up the drink on

the replicator. “There we go, that’s the Commander Conway I

know.”

Mirk pushed the steaming drink across the bar to

Conway and moved down the length of the bar to help another

customer, idly wondering what it was that possessed Conway

to change his drink order. Whatever it was, it was serious

business indeed.

At that moment, Dr. Lana Shar, the Explorer’s colony

specialist, seated herself in front of Mirk, just a few

stools down from Conway. “Hi, Mirk. I’ll have a Yynsian

herbal tea with a sprinkle of–”

”–umgee root,” Mirk finished. Suddenly it all seemed

to make sense.

“Yeah, how did you know?” Lana asked with interest.

“Well, it was just–”

Suddenly Mirk heard a loud, gutteral noise from the

general vicinity of Commander Conway. “Over here, Mirk!”

”–a hunch,” Mirk finished, quickly handing Lana her

drink and scuttling over to Commander Conway.

The First Officer immediately grabbed Mirk by his wide

collars and pulled him close. “Listen, I guess you know now

why I ordered the herbal tea. Now I suggest you keep your

little Maloxian mouth shut about it or I’ll punt you out

the nearest airlock. You get it?”

Mirk pulled back, straightening his collar. “You’re a

deeply loving person, Commander.”

“Tell me about it,” Conway said, picking up his drink

quickly and scurrying over to where Lana was sitting.

There was already a crewperson sitting in the left seat,

so Conway darted for the right one, just as a young female

yeoman slid into place on the stool.

“Ahem,” Conway said, burning a gaze down at the

yeoman. “Yeoman Huffmann, I believe Lt. Tilleran

requested your prescence in Science Lab Two to repair the

analytic converter.”

“I just did that,” Huffmann protested.

“Well, go do it again!” Conway said, in the loudest

whisper he could manage.

Huffmann was about to object, but then she looked

up and saw the burning anger in Conway’s eyes. Without

another word she slid out of the chair and made for the

Cafe’s exit.

“Commander?” Lana said, turning. “I thought I heard

your voice.”

Conway quickly dove into his seat and crossed his

legs, trying to look as comfortable as possible. “Lana! I

didn’t know you were even sitting there. And how are you?”

“Fine. You know, no complaints.”

“Refill anyone?” Mirk suddenly asked, appearing behind

the bar near Lana and Commander Conway. “I know

Commander Conway loves that herbal tea. He orders it all

the time!”

Conway cleared his throat again. “Mirk!”

Lana just laughed. Mirk was about to reply, when

suddenly he jerked backwards spasmodically into a row of

bottles, then flailed forward toward Commander Conway and

his mug.

The Commander watched Mirk tumble toward him with

concern. “Conway to Sickbay, Medical Emerg-ARRRRRRGGGGH!”

Mirk slammed into Conway’s mug, causing it to flip and

dump its entire payload of herbal tea onto his crotch.

Lana shook her head worriedly as Conway hit the

ground.

“That had to hurt.”


“Listen, Commander, I know our procedures might seem a

little odd, but we’re really very much the same,” Baxter

said, eying the model of the Secondprize on Beck’s sparse

desk as he talked.

“How do you figure?” Beck asked dully, sliding a cup

of coffee in front of Baxter and collapsing into her chair.

“We’re both Starfleet commanders…dedicated to duty,

goodness, and the freedom of all God’s little creatures!”

Beck shook her head. Baxter sounded like a Public

Service Announcement. “Spare me, Captain. I’ve read some

of your Starfleet reports. They scare me. Why, the Beldana

Two incident alone–”

“Hey, why do people keep bringing that up? Men have

needs! And that government official threw herself on me!”

”–coupled with your complete disregard for the Prime

Directive, and any other Starfleet rule you come across.”

Beck scrolled through a data padd which presumably carried

some of the reports. “You murdered the leader of a tribe of

penguin people!”

“Now that wasn’t my fault. The runabout was out of

control!”

“You lost your first officer in the Nexus Ribbon!”

“But we got him back! And had a nice breakfast on top

of that!”

Beck kept scrolling. “Your ship was embedded in a

planet?”

“It was a dimensional kind of thing!”

“Your whole crew was driven insane by some kind of

cloud?”

“I wasn’t even there for that. You’ll have to talk to

Commander Conway about–”

“You created an assistant–in a laboratory?”

“Don’t even get me started,” Baxter said with a shake

of his head. “Listen, I’ve been over all of this before

with Starfleet Admirals and fellow officers. If you take a

good look at the records of both the Explorer and the

Aerostar, you’ll see we really did accomplish a lot of good.

We stabilized an entire quadrant for God’s sake.”

“By calling in the Borg?”

“That wasn’t my idea, trust me.”

“The fact that a man like you can be put in command of

a starship–one that’s crewed by people who clearly have no

business aboard a starship in the first place–scares me, Captain.”

“Hey, the Secondprize wasn’t exactly the most

competent ship in the fleet,” Baxter countered.

“I never said it was. But at least over there…well,

there was some kind of order. Some kind of sense.”

“We have sense and order. I think you’re just getting

the wrong idea–”

“Browning to Baxter,” Baxter’s comm badge chirped. Beck

rolled her eyes at this. Her experience with Browning in the

Food Court a year and a half ago was not pleasant.

“Baxter here. What do you want, Doctor?”

“I just thought you might want to know that Mirk is in

some kind of coma over here, and Commander Conway has

second-and third-degree burns all over his crotch.”

“I see,” Baxter said, looking to Beck, who shot him an

“I told you so” look. “Well, can you figure out what’s

wrong with Mirk?”

“Not yet, only that there’s a great amount of activity

in his cerebral cortex. I’m not sure, but it may have to do

with his powers.”

“Powers?” Beck asked.

“Our bartender has certain…special abilities,”

Baxter said, returning to his conversation with Browning. “Put

an ice pack on the Commander and keep me informed on Mirk’s

condition.”

“Aye, sir. Browning out.”

“You were saying?” Beck asked.

Baxter raised a finger to speak, when another comm

badge bleeped. This time it was Beck’s.

“Morales to Beck. Commander, there’s something I think

you should be made aware of.”

“Go ahead,” Beck said with a sigh.

“One of Captain Baxter’s officers, a Lieutenant J’hana,

was just involved in a disturbance at the Andorian restaurant

in the food court.”

“Mishtak, huh?”

“Uh, yes, Ma’am. How did you-“

“I had an Andorian roomate at the Academy. Who was

the unlucky Mishtakee?”

“Bradley Dillon. He says he’s going to file a complaint

with the Federation Council.”

“Tell Mr. Dillon to take a close look at the sign in

front of the Andorian restaurant. It clearly warns all

customers about the Mishtak custom. Tell him to chalk it up

to a…cultural misunderstanding.”

“Yes, ma’am. Morales out.”

“Commander, I’m very sorry about–”

“Save it, Captain,” Beck said, standing up. “Listen,

I’ll be frank. I don’t like you. And I don’t care much for

your command style. But I do understand that it takes all

kinds to make up this Fleet. Including agressive Andorians

and Doctors with voracious appetites.”

“Does that mean we can be friends?”

“No,” Beck said flatly. “It means I won’t press

charges against your officer. And just be thankful for

that.”

“Porter to Beck. Commander, I think you and Captain

Baxter better get out here quick…”

“What is it, Lieutenant?” Beck asked.

“I think you’d better see this one for yourself,

Commander.”

“Sheesh, it’s one thing after another around

here,” Baxter said casually. The look Beck shot him stopped

him from saying anything more.


“At first I thought the sensors had just

malfunctioned,” Porter explained, as Baxter and Beck

examined the swirling melange on the main screen in Ops.

“But it’s no malfunction, Commander. The Bermuda Expanse

has reappeared.”

“How is this possible?” Beck asked, without looking

back at Porter.

“I don’t know. It shouldn’t be. The entire sector

underwent a gravitic inversion seconds after the Aerostar

came back through it six months ago. The Expanse was, for all

intents and purposes, destroyed.”

“Maybe someone from the other side reactivated it,”

Baxter offered.

“Someone like the Flarn,” Beck said, her eyes

becoming wide with anger as she turned to Baxter. “Russell,

open an emergency channel to Starfleet Command and fill them

in immediately.”

“Hey, don’t look at me like this is my fault,” Baxter

said.

Before Beck could reply, another alarm sounded at

Walker’s station. “Commander, something’s coming out of the

Bermuda Expanse!”

“Damn it,” Beck cursed under her breath. “Go to Red

Alert and put up the shields.”

“Aye, sir,” Russell replied.

“Russel, activate all weapons arrays.”

“Done, Commander.”

Baxter squinted at the silvery object that began to

emerge from the Bermuda Expanse. “That’s no Flarn ship,

Commander. Can we magnify that image?”

Beck gave a nod back to Porter. “Do it.”

“Magnifying and enchancing…” Porter repoted.

“Sweet fancy Moses!” Baxter cried, staggering back

against the deck railing.

“Porter, confirm I’m seeing what I think I’m seeing!”

Beck said, looking back to the science station.

Porter looked up from his panel. “Sensors confirmed.

Federation Starship, Nebula class. NCC-83835. It’s the

Aerostar.”

“Deja vu…” Russell said quietly.


:) CHAPTER TWO


Beep-eep.

Dr. Shar looked up from her reports. She had just

arrived from the Constellation Cafe, and hadn’t had five

minutes to work before being interrupted. “Enter.”

A portly man in a dapper suit came through the doors

to the Trill’s office, clumsily knocking into her statue of

the Breen Tiki God. To Lana, he looked well-dressed but a

bit disheveled, as if he’d recently been in some kind of

accident or something.

“Whoops, sorry,” the man said, righting the statue and

touching it lightly. His eyes grew wide as he evaluated it.

“This is an excellent piece, Dr. Shar.”

“Do I know you?” Lana asked, looking the stranger up

and down.

“You do now.” He offered a hand. “Dillon. Bradley

Dillon. President and CEO of Dillon Enterprises…a

multipurpose organization.”

“Is that so?” Lana asked, shaking Bradley’s hand limply.

“Well, Mr. Dillon, if I’m not mistaken, they just called for an

alert on the station, and on this ship. How on Earth did you

get in here?”

“I have my ways. Listen, that’s not important. What

is important is that I happen to know that you’re the

Federation colony specialist assigned to the Explorer. And

as such, I bet you have access to all kinds of great

information. Valuable information.”

“What do you mean?” This man was talking like a

Ferengi. “I have access to some interesting artifacts, and

some planetary scans. That’s all.”

“Well, that’s exactly what I’m looking for. Ameteur

explorers come through the station every day, wanting a

piece of the ‘real thing.’ And how much closer to the real

thing can you get than what’s aboard this ship? I think you

and I can be of great use to one another.” Bradley narrowed

his eyes at Lana and shot her a sly smile. “Now let’s have

a look at some of those artifacts.”

Lana considered the human with great interest. At

least showing him her collection would be a way to bide time

until they got back out to the Galactic Rim.


“Ship…coming through…Bermuda Expanse…Directors!” Mirk

mumbled, as the sensors on his biobed kept track of his

vitals.

“What are you trying to tell us, Mirk?” Browning asked,

hunching over the Maloxian and examining his brain with a

handheld scanner. “Is the ship in trouble?”

“Directors…” Mirk continued to mutter as he twisted

and turned on the biobed.

“Are the Directors in trouble, boy? What’s wrong with

them?” Browning asked again. “Come on, spit it out, Mirk!”

“Inside-out…twisted…wrong universe.” Mirk

continued to writhe.

“Anything?” Nurse Holly Carter asked, observing Mirk

from the other side of the biobed.

“Gibberish, as far as I can tell,” Browning said, checking

the biobed readings. “His brain looks like it’s been through a

cuisinart.”

“Hmmm,” Holly said, examining the readings.

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands! If

you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it,

if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!” Mirk

sang.

“He’s bonkers,” Holly concluded.

Browning rubbed her chin thoughtfully as she looked Mirk

over. “There’s only one more thing I can try to bring him

out of it, but it’s risky.”

“What is it, Doctor?”

Browning didn’t reply, she just hauled back and slapped

Mirk in the face as hard as she could. “Wake up, numbnut!”

Mirk suddenly shot up, looking around as if he just

notcied Browning and Holly were in the room. “Doctor, the

Aerostar has returned. I have to get to the bridge.”

With that, the Maloxian slid off the bed and bolted

for the door to Sickbay.

“Glad I could help,” Browning waved as Mirk shot out the

doors.


Commander Conway emerged from the turbolift and

waddled as fast as he could to the command chair.

“Are you okay, Commander?” Larkin asked, as she

vacated the command chair and headed for ops.

“No,” Conway huffed, sitting down as gently as he

could in the command chair. “I spilled some hot herbal tea

on my crotch.”

This sent Lt. Ford into a bout of uncontrollable

laughter.

“As you were, Lieutenant!” Conway shouted. “Larkin,

put that ship on the screen.”

“Aye, sir,” Larkin said, pressing some controls at

her station.

“A blast from the past,” Ford said brightly, watching

as the Aerostar loomed closer.

Conway turned gingerly towards Tilleran. “What do we

know about that ship, Tilleran?”

“Based on what the combined sensors of Waystation and

the Explorer can determine, that is the USS Aerostar…”

“But the Aerostar was destroyed…” Conway

interrupted.

“I wasn’t finished. That is the USS Aerostar, but not

of our Federation or our Starfleet.”

“Then what the hell Federation is it from?” Conway

asked.

“According to my interpretation of its ID code, the

Federation of Fun,” Tilleran said.

Conway slapped a hand against his forehead. “I should

have known. The happy universe.”

“Yes, sir. The frequency of the trace from their warp

engines tends to suggest that as well.”

“They are approaching the station at a speed of one-

quarter impulse,” Larkin reported, looking up from her

scans. “They should arrive within twenty minutes.”

“Contact Waystation and ask Commander Beck how she

wants to proceed. And find the Captain,” Conway said,

“because I sure as hell don’t want to deal with these

nutcases.”


“Something wrong, Captain?” Beck asked wryly. “It

looks like you’ve just seen a ghost.”

“I think I have,” Baxter said slowly.

“The Explorer’s science officer agrees with my

hypothesis,” Porter said. “We are definitely looking at a

vessel from the alternate happy universe we encountered last

year.”

“We also encountered an alternate happy Aerostar last year,”

Baxter said thoughtfully. “One of my officers was exchanged

for the alternate one by a transporter accident.”

“So we’ve established that we know where this ship is

from.” Beck folded her arms. “But why is it here?”


Lt. Hartley and Lt. J’hana had just returned from

Waystation when they recieved the call from Commander

Conway. Hartley and J’hana quickly left the transporter room

in order to find out what was going on. As soon as they

were out the door, however, they were slammed into by a

running Maloxian.

“Need I remind you that there is no running allowed in

the Explorer’s corridors?” J’hana asked angrily, as Mirk

helped her and Hartley up.

“Sorry about that,” Mirk said sheepishly.

“Where are you going in such a hurry?” Hartley asked,

dusting off her rear end as she and J’hana followed Mirk

into a turbolift.

“Bridge,” Mirk said, prompting the turbolift to swish

quickly upward.

“What a coincidence,” Hartley said. “Commander Conway

just called me and J’hana up there. Do you know what this

is all about?”

“Unfortunately,” Mirk sighed.

“Mind telling us?”

“Oh, you’ll find out soon enough.”

J’hana grimaced. “I do not like the sound of that.”


“They’re hailing us,” Lt. Russell announced from

tactical.

Beck glanced over at Baxter. “Do you want to do the

honors, or should I?”

“It’s your station,” Baxter replied.

“It’s your ship. Kind of.”

“You’re in command here.”

“You outrank me.”

Baxter straightened and pulled the bottom of his

uniform down a bit. “Okay, fine. I’ll talk to them, for

what it’s worth. Put ‘em on screen, Mr. Russell.”

The viewscreen in ops crackled to life as a picture of

the approaching vessel was replaced with a very familiar

face.

“Commander Conway?” Baxter asked, noticing how strange

Conway’s uniform looked. It was black, with a scattering of

pink–only vaguely similar to that of Baxter’s universe.

“Captain Conway. But you can call me Davey-wavey,”

the man on the screen corrected. “What in Happyness’ name

are you doing over there, Lieutenant Baxter?”

“Captain Baxter,” Baxter corrected. “Listen, Captain,

I think we have a bit of a mix-up here.”

“You can say that again. Playstation doesn’t look

anything like we remember it.”

“That’s because this isn’t…Playstation,” Baxter said

with exasperation. “Captain, you’ve somehow wound up in an

alternate universe.”

“Damn. That would explain the ugly uniforms you’re

wearing. Maybe it would be best if I could meet with you.

We have a lot to talk about.”

“Well, I…uh,” Baxter stammered, looking over to

Beck.

Beck threw her hands up. “Don’t look at me.”

“Sure,” Baxter said. “You’re cleared to dock at this

station. We’ll send you coordinates where you can beam

aboard and we can discuss this whole alternate universe

thing.”

“Thank you Captain.” Davey-wavey’s eyes wandered over

to Beck. “And keep that oversexed lunatic clear of us, if

you please.”

Baxter glanced over at Beck with a raised eyebrow.

“Seems you’ve made quite a name for yourself in that

alternate universe.”

“Don’t remind me. Cut the channel, Russell,” Beck

grumbled.


Lt. Hartley stopped short as soon as she saw the ship

on the viewscreen. She stopped so quickly that Mirk and

J’hana slammed right into her. “That’s not the…no, it

can’t be.”

Mirk weaved his way around Hartley as she took up a

place at the engineering station, while J’hana relieved the

ensign at tactical. “It is. It’s the Aerostar.”

“How?” Hartley asked, staring at it with wonder.

“You should know,” Conway said, glaring up at Hartley.

“You were there.”

“Oh no, oh no, oh no,” Hartley said softly.

“Oh yes,” Conway said. “And some of their

crew is going to meet with Captain Baxter and Commander

Beck. And the Captain has asked that you beam over and talk

to them, since you’re the only one of our crew that’s

actually had contact with them.”

“I want to go too,” Mirk said. “I need to talk to

them.”

“Well, I don’t know–” Suddenly a padd flew across the

bridge and smacked into the back of Conway’s head.

“Sorry about that,” Mirk said sheepishly.

Conway grumbled angrily, rubbing his head. “Fine,

Mirk. Get out of here. And stop using your powers to throw

stuff at people.”

“No promises. C’mon, Megan,” Mirk said, dragging

Hartley back into the turbolift.

“His aim’s really improving,” Tilleran noted from the

science station.

“Muzzle it,” Conway grunted.


Captain Baxter watched the group coalesce at the other

end of the conference room with a growing sense of dread.

He’d heard reports of other Starfleet officers who’d dealt

with alternate universes, and it was always a big mess. He

wasn’t looking forward to whatever he’d find himself sucked

into.

Captain Conway stepped forward as soon as he

materialized. “Captain Baxter. Nice to make your

acquaintance.”

Baxter walked over, Beck and Russell at his side. He

wasn’t looking at Davey-wavey at all. The officer next to

him was what had caught his attention.

“This is my Chief of Operations, Lt. Andy Baxter.”

“Hello,” the other Baxter said with a grin. “You must

be Andy Baxter.”

“Nice hair,” Beck said, covering the grin that was

rapidly spreading across her face.

Andy-wandy patted his perm with love. “I thought it

was time for a change, and this seemed to be the way to go.”

Davey-wavey indicated the android next to him. “And

this is my second in command, Lt. Commander Larky.”

Captain Baxter eyed the android skeptically. She

didn’t have quite the same stoic intelligence that his Larky

had.

“Pleasure to meet you,” Larky said. A compartment in

the top of her head opened and a robotic hand emerged,

intent on shaking Baxter’s hand.

Baxter shook the robotic appendage, which promptly

disappeared back into Larky’s head. “Likewise.”

“If you’ll have a seat, we can get to matters at

hand,” Beck said, ushering Davey-wavey, Larky,

and Andy-wandy to their seats. She cast a glance back

at Captain Baxter. “If that’s okay with his Captainness?”

“Quiet, Beck,” Baxter muttered under his breath,

moving around to the other side of the table.

She was enjoying this way too much.

“Grant to Russell. There are two people out here

claiming to be from Captain Baxter’s ship. They say it’s

urgent that they get through.”

Russell looked to Baxter. “Captain?”

“Let ‘em in,” Baxter said. He knew Hartley was coming,

but he was wondering who the other person was.

Moments later, Ensign Grant ushered Lt. Hartley and

Mr. Mirk into the room.

“Watch where you put that hand, big guy!” Hartley

grunted, wrenching herself free of Mumford’s grip.

“Meggy,” Davey-wavey said happily, looking up

at Hartley.

“Here we go again,” Hartley sighed.

“What are you doing here, Mr. Mirk? Shouldn’t you be

in Sickbay or something?” Baxter asked, directing Hartley to

a seat at his left.

Mirk approached Baxter’s seat urgently. “Sir, I had a

powerful vision just before they–” he pointed to Davey-

wavey and his officers, “–came through. Sir, there’s something

very wrong with the Directors.”

“The Directors?” Captain Conway asked with interest.

“The beings who control the Bermuda Expanse,” Mirk said,

turning to Davey-wavey. “What did you do to them?”

Davey-wavey sighed heavily. “If you mean the strange

occupants of that cloud, I regret that we had to expose them

to the Happyness beam.”

“The Joegonotizing ray?” Baxter asked. “What effect

did that have?”

“The normal effects,” Andy-wandy said with a smile.

“It made them happy.”

“It didn’t make them happy at all!” Mirk shouted. “It

drove them insane! And it’s the exact reason you all ended

up here instead of in your own universe!”

“Calm yourself, Mr. Mirk,” Baxter said. “Why don’t

you just have a seat and we can sort this whole thing out.”

“Captain, allow me to explain,” Davey-wavey said

calmly. “When your Lt. Hartley crossed over to our world a

year ago, she enacted a series of events that changed our

vessel forever. She was able to adjust the polarity of

Counselor Kelly-bell’s ‘mood stabilizer’ to shift everyone’s

brain patterns to those of Maloxians–”

“By the Directors,” Mirk said quietly.

”–thereby nullifying the effects of the Happyness

beam,” Davey-wavey continued. “Unfortunately, some officers

were so far gone they could not be saved. I was able to

stir up a revolt among the crew, overthrow Captain Riker,

and take command.”

“Wow. I succeeded,” Hartley said in awe.

Davey-wavey smiled. “Yes, you did. And you made some

marvelous things happen for my crew and me.”

“Marvelous things?” Baxter raised an eyebrow.

“Watch this,” Davey-wavey said, concentrating on the

vase of flowers at the center of the table.

The vase lifted off the table and glided toward

Baxter, coming to a soft landing right in front of him.

“You have my powers!” Mirk’s eyes went wide.

“We believe that the beam has refined them, and

brought them into focus,” Davey-wavey said. “In short,

they’ve made some of my crew more than a match for the

psychological powers of Happymaster Dillon and the

Counselors.”

“That could be a huge gain for the rebellion,” Beck

said, from her place next to Baxter.

“That’s why we had to return,” Davey-wavey said. “So

we could help out the resistance in whatever way possible.”

“Why did it take you so long?” Hartley asked.

“We had to undo the damage we did in the Delta

Quadrant first,” Davey-wavey explained. “We put the Sulani

and Maloxians back to normal and enlisted their support.”

“You didn’t put the Flarn back to normal, did you?”

Baxter asked frightfully.

“Do I look that stupid?” Davey-wavey asked. “We left

them happy, for eveyone’s sake. Anyway, we have a fleet

waiting near the Crebius Cluster in the Delta Quadrant. All

we have to do is contact them and tell them we made it here

safely.”

“You may find that easier said than done,” Mirk said.

“If I’m right, the only place the Bermuda Expanse will take you

right now is your universe. You guys seriously screwed up

the portal.”

“That would be unfortunate,” Lt. Commander Larky said.

“Captain, you must help us restore the portal to

normal and get us back to our universe. If we can overthrow

Emperor Webber, we can finally turn our quadrant in the right

direction.”

Baxter looked to Beck, then to Hartley and Mirk.

“We’ll certainly do all we can to help you, Captain Conway.

Our science officers are at your disposal.”

“One thing troubles me,” Beck said. “What happened to

the people you couldn’t convert?”

“Oh, them,” Davey-wavey said quietly, looking to Andy-

wandy.

Baxter’s double shrugged. “They’re pretty much taken care

of.”


“This is ludicrous!” Counselor Kelly-bell Peterman

shrieked, pounding against the electronic field around the

brig angrily. “I must be set free.”

“If you don’t shut up,” Lt. B’nana said, turning to

face Kelly-bell on the other side of the field. “I’ll come

in there and kill you.”

“In your dreams,” Kelly-bell scoffed.

B’nana growled in Kelly-bell’s face, causing the field

to spark disturbingly. “Since I was freed of your mind-

control device, I have grown quite angry at what you and the

other Counselors have done to Starfleet. I would be more

than happy to take out my anger on you.”

“You and what army, you blue bitch?”

“That is it!” B’nana shouted, throwing down the field

and jumping through the doorway, piledriving into Kelly-bell.

“You are a dead woman!”

“I’m distracting her!” Kelly-bell shouted to her

bunkmate. “Do your thing!”

Lt. Tilly jumped off the bed and lunged for the device

on B’nana’s belt clip.

B’nana turned to grab the device and was met with a

swift roundhouse kick from Kelly-bell.

“Do it, Tilly!” Kelly-bell cried, slamming a fist into

B’nana’s face and pushing her to the ground.

Tilly quickly inserted the device into the collar that

was around her neck and snapped it off. “Do you know how

long I’ve been waiting for this?” The Betazoid’s black eyes

grew bright neon green as she turned on B’nana and fired a

brillant bolt of energy at her.

The Andorian was slammed against the wall.

Kelly-bell ran over to Tilly and hugged her tightly.

“We’re back, Tilly! We’re back!”

“No time for celebration,” Chrissie Richards said as Tilly’s

eyes returned to normal. “We have to get the others and get the

hell out of here.”

Kelly-bell kicked the unconcious Andorian one more time

and followed Chrissie and Tilly out the door. “I can’t wait to see

what’s happened to the Federation since we left.”


:) CHAPTER THREE


“And this is a locust-catcher from Dalban Two,” Dr.

Shar said, indicating the large blue box at the center of the

arhaeology lab. “The ancient Dalbanians used it to protect

their crops.”

“Very interesting. But not profitable. What do you

have in the way of precious metals?” Bradley asked, eying the

box and turning back to Lana.

“Listen, Mr. Dillon,” Lana said, turning to Bradley

angrily, “I will be more than happy to show you some of

these artifacts, but I’m not about to sell you Federation

property just so you can make a tidy profit!”

“And why not?”

“Because, it’s just not…not right!”

“Oh, come on, it wouldn’t be that bad.” Bradley edged

closer to Lana. “I take it you’re the kind of person who

always imagines what it would be like to do something

unseemly, but never has the guts to carry it through.”

“Mr. Dillon, I have had just about enough of you.”

Lana grabbed the portly man by an arm and dragged him out of

the lab. “Now I’m going to escort you back to the airlock

you came from and I don’t want to see you back on this ship,

unless you’re on your way to the brig!”

“You really have no vision, Doctor,” Bradley said

uneasily, as Lana shoved him out into the corridor.


Tilly slammed a fist into the panel near the

Aerostar’s airlock door. “I just accessed the computer

systems here. This is not Playstation. As a matter of

fact, this cannot even be our universe!”

“Then what universe is this?” Kelly-bell asked angrily,

looking around with skepticism.

“If I had to guess, I’d say it’s the one that Meggy

Hartley traded with last year.”

“The one that f***ed everything up?” Kelly-bell asked.

“What I wouldn’t give to…”

“Revenge can wait!” Tilly cried. “We have to get out

of here, and fast. This place is a hotbed for Federation

officers. We won’t be safe here for long.”

“I agree,” Chrissie Richards said from behind

Kelly-bell. He rubbed her shoulders lovingly. “Maybe we can

access one of the vessels that’s docked here.”

Kelly-bell ran hands through her long, dark hair.

“Okay, go for it, Tilly.”

Tilleran squeezed her eyes shut. “I’m searching…yes! We’re

in luck. I’ve found doubles of us…very close.”

“What about that damned Hartley?”

“She’s on the station,” Tilleran said. “But the

others are on a nearby starship.”

“I’ll come back for her later then. We’ll take this

whole damned station in due time,” Kelly-bell said, gesturing

for her other officers to creep out of the airlock. “Come

on, everyone! Lead the way, Tilly!”


Dr. Browning strolled into Engineering, nodding at Ensign

Stuart as she approached the door to Lt. Commander

Richards’s office and pressed the call button.

“Come on in,” Richards’s voice called out.

Browning stepped in and tossed a padd onto Richards’s

desk. “There it is, honey. The perfect cake.”

Richards put his sketch pad aside and examined

Browning’s padd. “Wow, Janice. It’s very…um, big.”

“It’s a WEDDING cake, silly, it’s supposed to be big.”

“But it’s the size of a person!”

“A very small person. An adolescent kid.”

“And it’s almost as wide!”

Browning folded her arms defiantly. “Well, there will be

plenty of guests.”

Richards recalled the guest list on his terminal.

“Don’t I know. You’ve invited half the quadrant, Janice. I

was kind of shooting for a quiet wedding, you know, close

friends and relatives. As it is, we’ll have to rent out the

main auditorium on Deck Twenty-three.”

“I want a big wedding, and darn it I’m going to have a

big wedding,” Browning said.

“Come on, Janice, I really think we can trim the list a

little bit. You’ve got the Chief Medical Officer from the Madison

on here. How long has it been since you’ve talked to her?”

“Me and Casey talk almost every month.”

“Then what ship is she on now?” Richards challenged.

“Um…the Greensboro?”

“No, she transferred to the Yorktown three months ago.

I found that out when I tried to send the invitation. And what

about Ezri Dax?”

“Um…you know why she’s invited, Christopher.’

Richards rolled his eyes. “You were only eighteen when you

dated Curzon. Isn’t there some Trill rule where you can’t associate

with new hosts? Dax has been through two since it was Curzon.”

“I don’t care. We’re still very close.”

All sorts of uncomfortable images scrolled through Richards’s mind.

“Listen, either you trim the guest list, or I’m inviting Elliot Finglass.”

“Not your Starfleet Academy roomate!” Browning cried in

horror. She’d heard stories from Richards about the cadet

that had replaced Chris Henricks after that whole “Larkin”

incident. No way he was coming to her wedding.

“Cut the list down to a hundred people or Hurricane

Elliot will touch down here on May 19th.”

“Okay, okay, you’ve twisted my arm,” Browning said

woefully. “A hundred people it is.”

“I knew you’d see it my way,” Richards smiled,

pulling Browning into his lap. “Now help me design the ice

sculpture for the reception.”


“Stop pushing, I’ll go, I’ll go,” Bradley protested, as

Dr. Shar dragged him down the corridor towards the airlock.

“I’ve seen some con artists in my day, but you take

the cake, Mr. Dillon,” Lana said angrily as she stabbed the

airlock button.

“I’m really not that bad a guy,” Bradley said, “I just

want to make a living.”

“Tell it to someone who cares.”

Lana suddenly heard talking in the airlock. Someone

was evidently coming through.

“It’s a Galaxy-class,” a voice said with wonder. “We

should be able to access its systems through Main

Engineering. That’s about ten decks down from here.”

“Lieutenant Tilleran?” Lana asked as the door whisked

open.

Peterman and Tilleran looked Lana over. “Hello…you,”

Peterman said.

“What are you guys doing in those wierd outfits?” Lana

asked. Something was definitely wrong.

Tilleran and Peterman pushed by. “Don’t worry about

it,” Tilleran said quickly.

Sensing that something was amiss, Lana tapped her comm

badge. “Shar to security. There’s–”

Suddenly Tilleran’s head whipped back around, green

eyes plunging into Bradley and Lana. “I wouldn’t do that if I

were you.”

“Erg–” Bradley said, dropping to his knees.

Before Lana could say anything, her eyes rolled back

into her head and she collapsed on top of Bradley.

“Find a closet and shove them in. We’ll deal with

them later,” Peterman ordered. “We’ve got bigger fish to

fry right now.”


“We’ve got to get the Bermuda Expanse put back in order, or

these folks will be stuck here forever,” Baxter said grimly

from the viewscreen on the bridge of the Explorer.

“I think the problem is even worse than that,

Captain,” Tilleran said from the science station.

“Everything I’ve seen so far leads me to believe that what’s

happened to the Bermuda Expanse is two-sided.”

“Do you mean to tell me we’re open to attack from that

other universe?”

“I’m afraid so, Captain.”

Conway sat back in the command chair and folded his

arms. “Then we have to put it back the way it was, sir. We

have enough problems as it is without having a warped

Federation breathing down our necks.”

“I agree, Commander,” Baxter said. “Lt. Tilleran, I’d

like you to beam over and coordinate your efforts with Lt.

Porter and his science staff. Maybe the two of you could–”

Suddenly a loud alert siren screamed through the

bridge. “Richards to bridge,” came Richards’s voice over the

comm. “We just had a spike in the warp core. Our containment

fields are fluctuating and I don’t think I can keep them up for long.”

Conway shot up in the command chair. “What are you

telling me, Richards?”

“I’m telling you the Explorer is going to explode in less

than five minutes! We need to separate the ship now!”

Baxter’s eyes went wide on the viewscreen as he heard

this new information. “Commander! You have to get clear of

the station!” Beside Baxter, Beck barked orders at the man

at the docking console. “Release docking clamps on the

Explorer immediately!”

“Lt. Ford,” Conway said quickly.

“On it, Commander!” Ford said, jerking the Explorer

into impulse speed and steering it away from Waystation.

Conway snapped on the all-call button. “All hands,

this is Commander Conway. The warp core will breach in less

than five minutes. All hands report to designated safe-areas

immediately. The ship will be separated as soon as everyone

is clear. Please be calm and file in an orderly…ah, you

know the damned drill. GET MOVING!”


Nurse Holly Carter scrambled with the few patients that

were in Sickbay, heaving them onto the anti-gravs and

shoving them out the Sickbay doors. “Dean, come on!”

Crewman Wilcox slung Ensign Dawson over his shoulder,

since her broken leg hadn’t quite healed yet. “Coming, Ha-

ha!”

Carter noted that Dean was getting quite close to being

able to pronounce her name, from “Humma” to “Ha-ha.” Or

maybe he was just laughing, she wasn’t quite sure.

“Careful! I break easily!” Dawson protested as Dean

lugged her out of Sickbay.

“Quiet girl will get a present!” Dean said happily,

smacking Dawson on the rear end as he helped Nurse Carter and

the other med-techs push the patients to a nearby turbolift.

Carter had almost made it to the turbolift when a pack

of screaming kids flew by her, knocking her into Ensign

Sanchez, who had been in a coma for almost three weeks due to

cranial trauma from slamming his head into one too many

Engineering bulkheads.

“Who the hell are all these kids?” Carter asked as she

gathered up Ensign Sanchez and shoved him back onto the cart.

“Kindergarten class,” Lt. Gellar explained, shoving

kid after kid into a vertical pile in the turbolift. “On a

field trip from Earth. Guess who gets to be their

chaperone?”

“Well, we’ve got sick patients here that need to be

evacuated.”

“Shove ‘em in,” Gellar said as he wrenched a teddy

bear from some poor little girl’s hand. “Sorry, kiddo. Mr.

Fluffers here has got to go. Living beings only.”

“NOOOOOOO!” the kid yelped. “Mr. Fluffers can’t die!”

“Mr. Fluffers was never alive in the first place,

sizzlechest. Now get in the freaking turbolift!” Gellar

cried, cramming the kid into the lift.

Carter sighed and hauled the leaden body of Ensign

Sanchez into the cramped turbolift, grabbing Ensign Dawson and

shoving her after him.

“Hey, watch it!” Dawson said, as a five-year old

Starfleet Scout shoved his elbow into her side.

“This is going to be fun,” Carter said sarcastically,

pushing Dean into the lift and sucking in a breath, leaving

just enough room for the doors to close. As the lift slowly

sighed its way up through the Explorer’s innards, she idly

wondered where Dr. Browning was.


Captain Baxter watched the Explorer angle away on the

viewscreen nervously, fearing what might happen to Counselor

Peterman and the others.

“Lt. Porter,” Beck said from behind Baxter. “How long

until they reach a safe distance?”

Porter did the calculations. “About three minutes.”

“Raise the shields just in case, and order that the

Aerostar do the same. I don’t want to take any chances.”

Baxter watched woefully as the Explorer moved away.

“I only had her for six months…”

“You’ve certainly got a way with starships, Captain.”

Beck let out a tiny, stressed giggle from behind Baxter.


Counselor Peterman tumbled out of the turbolift, her

hair clinging around her face in wet, dark clumps. “Did I

hear right? Is the ship going to explode?”

“Your timing is impeccable, Counselor,” Conway said

from the command chair.

“I was stepping out of the shower when the alert

came,” Peterman explained.

“Have a seat and watch the fireworks,” Conway replied.

“How long, Tilleran?”

Tilleran looked up from her panel. “Two minutes,

sir.”

“Is everyone clear yet?” Conway asked, drumming his

fingers on the arms of his chair.

“Not as yet,” J’hana replied. “I am reading ten

lifeforms still remaining on the stardrive section.”

“Where?” Conway asked with irritation.

“Two on Deck Twenty-six and eight down in Main

Engineering.”

“They may have been knocked unconscious

somehow,” Peterman suggested.

“Lock onto them with the transporter and get them

the hell out of there,” Conway ordered.

Tilleran pounded her panel in frustration. “No good,

sir. I can’t get a lock with all the radiation coming from

the warp core.”

Conway stabbed a button on the command chair. “Bridge

to Engineering: Richards, you have to get out of there!”

“Not enough time!” Richards replied. “You have to

leave us!”

“But–” Conway said.

“No buts! I don’t know how much longer I can keep

these fields up. You have to go now!”

Peterman looked up from her side-console. “Dr. Browning

is down there with him and Stuart…and there are some lifesigns

the computer can’t quite identify!”

Conway let out a long sigh. “They’re not going to be

lifesigns for much longer. Larkin, initiate saucer sep now.”

“Aye, Commander,” Larkin said emotionlessly.

“Janice…” Peterman said quietly.


Captain Baxter watched the viewscreen in Ops in

stunned silence as the magnetic locks pulled back from the

top of the stardrive section. The saucer lifted up into

space with a small puff of released gas and space particles.

The stardrive section then listed backwards as the saucer

engaged its impulse engines and angled away at a steady clip

of full impulse.

Baxter clenched his hand into a tight fist as the

saucer sped away. “Come on, guys…get out of there!”

“Warp core breach in less than thirty seconds!” Porter

called out.

“Will the saucer section have enough time to get

clear?” Beck asked.

“They should be okay…it depends on the magnitude of

the blast, how much deuterium and anti-deuterium is in

there…”

Captain Baxter held his breath.


“We’re at forty thousand kilometers, sir,” Ford

reported.

Commander Conway leaned forward. “All power

to structural integrity and aft shields.”

“They’re losing warp containment!” Tilleran called

out. “Warp core breach in five…four…”

Peterman tightened her fingers around her seat as she

watched the stardrive section tumble away on the screen.

“Three…two…one…”

The counselor covered her eyes, prepared for the

imminent wave of blinding light that was about to hit the

bridge.

A few moments later, Peterman lowered her arms and

stared at the stardrive section on the screen. It was still

intact.

“Warp core levels returning to nominal,” Tilleran said

from the science station, staring at the readings in

disbelief. “Commander, I don’t understand. A minute ago

they were about to–”

Suddenly, the stardrive’s impulse engines fired up,

stopping its clumsy listing and turning it on a course away

from Waystation and the saucer section.

“What the hell?” Conway asked, snapping his

head back to look at Tilleran.

“Good question, sir.”


“You did it, Commander,” Kelly-bell said with a broad

smile, wrapping her arms around Lt. Commander Richards’s

neck and giving him a long, passionate kiss.

“You don’t think I overdramatized towards the end?”

Richards asked, as he turned back to look at the warp core

with satisfaction. “I mean really, ‘You have to go now’?

Don’t you think that was a bit much?”

“It was perfect, Chrissie,” Kelly-bell said. “Now

we have to get to the battle bridge and take full control.”

“What about these little annoyances,” Chrissie

asked. “Shall we kill them?”

The other Lt. Commander Richards fought at the

electronic bonds that had him, Browning, and Stuart bound

together. “You may be a handsome fella, but you’re not very

nice!”

“That’s because I’m evil!” Chrissie said happily,

as suddenly a huge beard erupted around the bottom half of

his face. “And since I’m an evil villain, I must have an

evil beard!”

“What a wacko,” Browning said.

“You look more like a lumberjack,” Stuart said.

“Enough!” Kelly-bell cried. “Bri-Bri, Fresca, take

these three and put them in the brig.”

“Yes, Counselor,” Lt. Bri-Bri Gellar said, as he and

Fresca dragged the unwilling prisoners out of engineering at

phaserpoint.

“Wait a minute!” Browning said. “Fresca?” She eyed the

Bajoran suspiciously. “But you’re–”

“A loyal officer of the Federation of Fun!” Fresca

said, winking at Browning. “I couldn’t possibly be anything

else. And don’t you forget it.”

“You tell her, Fresca,” Gellar said, as he lugged the

group into the turbolift, shoving a phaser into their backs.

“Now let’s be nice and cordial on the way up, or I’ll fry

the lot of you.”


“B’nana, I expect a good explanation for this,”

Captain Conway said sternly, looking up at the very

unsettled Andorian on the viewscreen in Ops.

“Kelly-bell jumped me, and Tilly got my key to the

mental collar. That’s the last thing I saw before I was

blasted into the wall.”

“Damn! The psychoblast…” Conway said fearfully.

“Are you all right?”

“I will live,” J’hana said shakily.

“Psychoblast?” Baxter asked from behind Conway.

“What the hell is a psychoblast?”

“I’ll explain later. Right now we have to find your

ship. If Peterman and the others succeed in taking it back

to our universe, they could use it to do all kinds of

damage.”

Baxter looked to Mirk, who had taken up a position

next to Lt. Porter at the science station. “Mr. Mirk?”

“It’s possible, Captain. The Bermuda Expanse has

become a two-way portal between our universes. All they

have to do is fly through.”

Beck looked back to Russell. “Lieutenant, what is the

position of the Explorer’s stardrive now?”

“They’ll reach the Bermuda Expanse in about fifteen

minutes.”

“We have to go after them,” Baxter said, turning to

Conway. “What condition is the Aerostar in? Will she stand

up to a beating?”

“She’s all we’ve got, Captain. Let’s hope so,” Conway

said, shaking Baxter’s hand vigorously. “Let’s go. The

longer we wait the farther away they’ll get.”

“You know, I like you a lot more than your

counterpart,” Baxter said, tapping his comm badge. “Baxter

to Conway. I’m going after the Explorer.”

“What the hell do you expect me to do until you get

back? Twiddle my thumbs?”

Baxter shook his head. “No, I need you to protect the

civilians here and keep an eye out for any intruders from

the other universe that might try to come through the

Bermuda Expanse.”

“And all I have for protection is a remodeled space

station and a powerless saucer section?”

“You’re catching on,” Baxter replied wryly.

“Starfleet won’t be able to get support out here in less

than two days, so you’re on your own.”

“Just peachy. And I suppose you’ll also want Lt.

Tilleran here to find a way to repair the Bermuda Expanse?”

“Wouldn’t hurt,” Baxter said with a shrug. He pointed

at Hartley and Mirk. “You two are with me. Let’s move,

Captain Conway.”

Beck stood in the way of the turbolift as the group

moved toward it. “Wait a second. I’m coming with you.”

“Don’t you think your place is here with the station?”

Baxter asked, then added, “Not flying around with someone

as unlucky and idiotic as myself?”

“Our first officers can take care of the situation

without me. Besides, I have a score to settle with my

counterpart.”

“Okeydoke,” Baxter said, ducking into the turbolift.

“But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Things could get wierd.”

“I’m counting on it,” Beck said wryly. “Mr. Morales,

you have Ops.”


“The Aerostar is moving off,” J’hana said from

tactical.

“Just great,” Conway griped, gulping down a mug of

coffee. “That leaves me here to babysit a saucer section

full of kindergartners.”

Peterman tugged at her matty hair fitfully. “Well, at

least your boyfriend isn’t aboard.”

“Yep,” Conway said, starry-eyed. “My boyfriend is

right here. Right, Ford?”

“Hey!” Ford said. “I resent that remark.”

“Stop trying to hide your emotions, Lieutenant. We

all know why you got that promotion!”

“Stop it!”

“Really, Commander,” Peterman said. “That’s a little

more than we needed to know. If you don’t stop, I’ll tell

Lana.”

“That’s not funny,” Conway said, his face becoming

serious.

“Peterman to Shar,” Peterman said with a smile.

Conway waited for the Trill to respond, then grew

worried when she didn’t. “Conway to Shar.”

Peterman stopped smiling. “Computer, locate Dr. Lana

Shar.”

“Dr. Lana Shar is not aboard the Explorer.”

Tilleran looked up from her sensors. “Commander,

according to my records, Lana was aboard the Stardrive

when we separated.”

“So she is aboard the Explorer,” Conway muttered.

“Just not this half.”

Peterman clapped Conway on the shoulder. “Well,

Commander, it looks like we’re both in the same boat.”


:) CHAPTER FOUR


Captain Baxter surveyed the bridge of the Aerostar.

It was much brighter, much more colorful than the bridge of

his Aerostar, but the layout was basically the same.

“We had to rearrange a lot of stuff after we got our

minds back in order,” Davey-wavey explained from the command

chair. “They used bean bags and inflatable chairs at most

of the stations.”

“Freaky,” Baxter said, collapsing into the chair

beside Davey-wavey with a sigh.

“We just lost the Explorer’s signal,” Lt. B’nana said

from tactical. “They have disappeared through the

Bermuda Expanse.”

“Pursuit course, maximum impulse power,” Davey-wavey

ordered.

Andy-wandy looked up from the ops panel. “I’m

adjusting our shield modulation for a trip back through the

Bermuda Expanse.”

“So, Commander, how much of your crew is actually on

our side?” Baxter asked, as he watched the Bermuda Expanse

loom closer on the viewscreen.

“Out of the senior staff, me, B’nana, Larky, Brownie,

Andy-wandy, and Meggy were able to be normalized.

Out of two-hundred crew, fifty are still loony.”

“But all of Peterman’s people didn’t escape, right?”

“Affirmative,” Larky replied. “Peterman was only able

to release the five officers from her cell block.”

“So they’re going to have to run the Explorer with

five people. That should be to our advantage,” Baxter said.

Hartley shook her head. “Not if their Richards is

anything like ours. If my guess is right, he’ll have that

thing totally automated before they emerge from the

Bermuda Expanse.”

“That has been our guess as well, Lieutenant,” Larky

said.

“Then we’ll have to be prepared for anything,” Baxter

said. “The Explorer’s a powerful ship.”

“But she’s never had to fight the Aerostar under my

command,” Davey-wavey said. “We’ll bring her in.”

“I sure hope so,” Mirk said.

“We’re entering the Bermuda Expanse,” Ensign Susie

Madera announced from the helm.

“Hold on everyone,” Davey-wavey said. “Things may get

a little bumpy.”

“We’ve done this trip enough to know that,” Baxter

said.

Mirk looked around as the Aerostar shook and rattled

around him. He could feel the anguished song of the

Directors cry around him:


If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.


It was maddening.

“Captain, we have to help the Directors,” Mirk said

urgently. “They’re insane!”

“One thing at a time, Mirk,” Baxter said. “First we

have a stardrive to catch.”


Counselor Kelly-bell Peterman watched the tiny

viewscreen on the battlebridge as Playstation loomed closer.

The wonderful feeling of being back in her home quadrant, in

her home universe, was overshadowed by the unreality of what

she saw. A Galaxy-class vessel, the Enterprise according to

the ship’s sensors, was doing battle with Playstation.

Somehow, Kelly-bell sensed that a lot had happened

since she left.

“Open a channel to the Enterprise, Tilly,” Kelly-bell

ordered.

“Open,” Tilly reported.

Captain Jean-jean Picard appeared on the viewscreen.

“Hello, what’s this? Counselor…Kelly-bell! What are you

doing back from your mission in the Delta Quadrant so soon?”

“It failed,” Kelly-bell muttered bluntly. “What’s

happening here?”

“The resistance has taken Playstation, and I’m afraid

they’ve murdered the Happymaster. What has happened to the

Aerostar?”

“Lost to an unhappy revolution, Captain. But I was

able to steal a vessel from the other universe.”

“Other universe?” Picard thought to himself a moment.

“That’s extraordinary, Kelly-bell. Will you help me break

this station’s defenses? Then we can discuss the whole

thing over Earl Grey tea and nice hot blentzes.”

“You do make good blentzes, Jean-jean. We’ll do what

we can.” Kelly-bell closed the channel.

“He’s lying!” Tilly said it so suddenly that it made

Kelly-bell jump.

“What do you mean he’s lying?”

“The Happymaster is alive, and Picard wants to kill

him!”

“Where is the Happymaster?” Kelly-bell asked, grabbing

Tilly by the shoulders. “We must find him!”

Tilly concentrated hard. “I can feel him…he’s not

far. The Defiant!”

Kelly-bell whirled around. “Bri-Bri?”

“Picking up the Defiant bearing 087 mark 114,” Bri-Bri

reported. “It’s defending Playstation.”

“Defending? That doesn’t make any sense,” Kelly-bell

said thoughtfully.

“He’s trapped there!” Tilly said, then she began to

shudder. “And…by the holy rings…Mistress Beck is there

too!”

“Very well, intercept the Defiant. Chrissie, tell

me what you know about this vessel’s capabilities.”

Chrissie looked up from the engineering panel and

stroked his beard thoughtfully. “It’s amazing, Counselor.

This vessel easily matches the Defiant or the Enterprise.

It has quantum torpedoes, high-powered phaser systems and

ablative armor just like the Defiant, but it has the power

and size of a Galaxy-class. A remarkable ship.”

“Well, then. Let’s put her to the test,” Kelly-bell

said, stroking the command chair amorously. “Mr. Gellar,

ready all weapons and unleash them on the Defiant as soon as

we get within range.”


Commander Conway stormed out of Commander Beck’s

office, pulling at his hair in frustration. “That was

Admiral McGrath. He said we may have to wait up to four days

for help. The Venture and the Dartmouth got caught in an

ionic storm.”

“Great,” Lt. Porter huffed. “Meanwhile, we’re stuck

with a spacial rift that could spit out attacking vessels

any minute.”

Lt. Tilleran grunted slightly as she worked beside

Porter at the science station.

“Do you have something, Lieutenant?” Conway asked.

“Maybe,” Tilleran said. “Give me another second.”

“Don’t take too damn long, Lieutenant,” Conway griped,

turning to Russell, who was grouped at the tactical console

with Lt. J’hana and Lt. Commander Larkin. “You guys better

have those runabout deployments ready soon. We may have to

defend this station in a matter of minutes.”

Lt. Commander Walter Morales leaned against the docking

console and watched Conway bark orders at his staff. In all

fairness, it was he that was put in command of the station

after Beck’s departure, not Conway. “You have Ops,” Beck

had said. What right did Conway have to come in and take

over?

“You daydreaming, Morales?” Conway asked, tapping the

station’s Executive Officer on the shoulder.

“N-no, sir,” Morales said, inwardly flinching. He

should be standing up to this man. Sure, Conway outranked

Morales, but that gave him no right to barge in like he owned

the place.

“Okay, everyone, I need a way to protect all the

innocent lives out here before some happy bastard comes

through the Bermuda Expanse and blasts us to hell. What have we

got?” Conway asked, facing the crew in Ops from a position

in front of the viewscreen.

“We have some good news and some bad news,” Tilleran

said, finally looking up from Walker’s console.

“Let’s here the good news first,” Conway sighed,

crossing over to the science station.

“Well,” Tilleran said, taking a deep breath. “The

nature of the problem with the Bermuda Expanse is essentially

that its subspace pathway has been regenerated, by a beam

from the Aerostar that originated in the alternate Delta

Quadrant.”

“Sure,” Conway said. “What’s the point?”

“Due to the Director’s confused state, the pathway was

reoriented across the time-space domain and broke through to

our reality.”

“And?”

“And…” Tilleran made an impatient sound. Conway

could be very difficult sometimes. “If we can generate a

powerful enough subspace field around the rift, we should be

able to close it. It’s only a matter of creating a strong

enough field.”

“Can we do it?” Conway asked.

“If we combine the warp fields from the two runabouts

aboard Waystation and the three aboard the Explorer, that

should suffice,” Larkin announced.

“So what’s the bad news?” Conway asked, looking from

Porter to Tilleran.

Porter sighed. “The bad news is, if we close the

rift, we’ll have no way to reopen it from this side. We’ll

have no way to get Captain Baxter, Commander Beck, or

anyone else back.”


“I’ll be a son of a bitch!” Singer cried, as the

massive stardrive section soared towards them on the

Defiant’s viewscreen. “What is that?”

“Records indicate it’s not part of the Funfleet, sir,”

Seany-weany Russell reported from tactical. He’d been

coerced into joining the rebellion after Singer took over

Playstation. “But it has weapons similar to the Defiant’s.

Sir, they’re opening fire on us!”

At the rear of the bridge, Happymaster Dillon smiled

broadly. “Finally. The cavalry.”

“That ‘cavalry’ isn’t even registered with the

Funfleet!” Lisa-love said indignantly. “Where could it have

come from?”

“Shut up!” one of the security guards said, jabbing

them both with the butt of his phaser rifle.

“You can use that Happy mind trick of yours any time

now!” Lisa-love cursed under her breath.

“Patience, Lisa-love, I know what I’m doing!” Travvy

hissed.

The Defiant spasmed under the assault of the

approaching ship.

“Defiant…this is Counselor Kelly-bell Peterman of the

Federation Funship Explorer. You will release Happymaster

Dillon to us immediately, or you will be destroyed!”

“I’m not giving up that easily,” Singer muttered

angrily as the Defiant pitched beneath her. “Evasive

maneuvers!”

“It’s no use!” Seany-weany reported. “Our shields

are failing!”

“Send a distress call to Playstation. Tell Lazlo

to call us in some support–and fast!”

“Negative,” Russell said, looking up from his panel.

“The Multek and Cardassian forces are engaged in skirmishes

along the Klingon and Romulan borders.”

“Damn!” Singer cursed. “We’re out of options!”

“This is your last chance, rebel!” Kelly-bell’s voice

continued.

“Helm, lay in a collision course with the Explorer.

If we’re finished, we’re taking them out with us.” She

glared back at Travvy. “No way you’re getting out of this

thing alive, scumbag!”

“Really?” Travvy asked calmly. He glanced over at

Ensign Bobby at the helm. “Bobby, you’re not

going to lay in a collision course.”

Bobby looked up from the helm, his face blank.

“No, not the mind trick!” Singer shouted. “Fight

it, Bobby!”

“I’m not going to lay in a collision course,” Bobby

said matter-of-factly.

Singer dove from the command chair and grabbed the

helm, turning the Defiant towards the Explorer herself.

“Shoot him, Seany!”

Seany turned his phaser on Travvy, but it just shook

in his hands.

“Don’t shoot me, shoot her!” Travvy ordered happily.

“Major Singer…I’m sorry!” Seany said helplessly

as he turned the phaser toward Singer. “Get out of the

way!”

Singer ducked as Seany fired the phaser, vaporizing

poor Bobby and fragging the helm console.

“Enough games,” Kelly-bell’s voice said, as suddenly

Lisa-love and Travvy began to dematerialize.

“Ta-ta!” Travvy said fiendishly.

“I don’t think so!” Singer cried out, leaping across

the open space between her and Travvy, clambering into him

just as he disappeared.


“Get her into a brig!” Travvy ordered, pushing

Singer aside and pulling himself to his feet. He looked

at Kelly-bell approvingly. “Good work, Counselor.”

“Picard’s trying to kill you, you know,” Kelly-bell

said, as Singer was dragged away kicking and screaming.

“I know,” Travvy said, straightening his uniform,

pushing the cape out of his face and walking toward the

center of the bridge. “Disable the Defiant’s engines and

get that bald twit on the viewscreen.”

“Yes, Happyness,” Bri-Bri said dutifully.

“The Explorer, of course, is yours,” Kelly-bell said,

stepping next to Travvy as he prepared to talk to Picard.

“Of course it is, though I didn’t think it would be

ready yet. And why is it so drab around here?”

“We got it from the other universe,” Kelly-bell

explained.

“Resourceful, aren’t we?” Travvy said proudly.

“You’ll go far, Counselor.”

“We haven’t won yet, Mr. Happypants,” Lisa-love

pouted, collapsing into one of the command chairs.

“Oh, be quiet,” Travvy said, as Picard flashed onto

the viewscreen.

“Oh, look, you’ve found the Happymaster…erm, uh,

thank goodness. Welcome back, your ah, Happyness,”

Jean-jean said nervously from the viewscreen.

“Can it, Jean-jean,” Travvy said dryly. “It’s over.”

“Oh, it’s far from over, Travvy,” Jean-jean said, victory

in his voice.

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Travvy asked. “My

vessel easily outguns yours.”

“Very true, very true. Well, what if I were to tell

you…So’ chagh!”

“So’…chagh?” Travvy said to himself. “Well, I’d say

it sounds like Klingon…”

“Happymaster!” Tilly shouted, pointing at the

viewscreen.

Travvy, Lisa-love, and Kelly-bell watched the screen,

mouths agape, as dozens of Klingon vessels–Birds of Prey

and battlecruisers alike–decloaked around them.

“We’re surrounded!” Bri-Bri called out, looking up

from a tactical display.

“Retreat! Retreat!” Travvy cried.

“To where?” Kelly-bell asked, looking at the screen in

fear.

“To the only place we can go,” Travvy said resolutely.

“Back to Earth!”

Kelly-bell nodded down at Ensign Fresca, who promptly

whirled the Explorer around and sent it through a wall of

firing Klingon ships.

“This is just a piece of damn cake!” Lisa-love cried

frantically.


Captain Conway resumed his seat in the command chair

and handed Baxter a cup of hot, steamy coffee.

“Wow, I guess some things will never change,” Baxter

said, eyeing the cup conspicuously.

“Does your Conway drink coffee as well?”

“Sure does,” Baxter took a sip and recoiled instantly.

“Though he doesn’t put so much sugar…and…ugh…what is

that I’m tasting?”

“A hint of nutmeg,” Davey-wavey said with a twinkle in

his eye. “That’s what gives it zing.”

“I’ll have to mention that to my Conway,” Baxter said,

putting the cup aside.

Mirk and Hartley stood near the science station,

watching the viewscreen aimlessly as the purple mesh of the

Bermuda Expanse streaked by.

“This is awful, Lieutenant Hartley,” Mirk said, leaning

against the panel for support. “The Directors are in

jeapardy. No, it’s worse than that. They’re in double

jeapardy!”

“I’m sure the Directors will be okay, Mirk,” Hartley

said, watching the science console uneasily. “I’ll just be

glad when we get back to our own universe. This whole

situation gives me the creeps.”

“We have emerged from the Bermuda Expanse,” Larky

reported from ops. “We will be within sensor range of

Playstation in under two minutes.”

“You know, it amazes me that Playstation could be

taken over by the rebels,” Captain Conway said

incredulously. “When we left, Playstation was a stronghold

of Federation Funtroops.”

“Evidently they were kicked out,” Commander Beck

explained, walking around to the front of the bridge. “I’ll

wager a lot has changed here in a year.”

“I was thinking, Captain Conway,” Baxter said, “that

it seems that this ‘Happy’ Federation isn’t so happy after

all.”

“It’s happy all right,” Davey-wavey said. “The leaders

are happy because they oversee an empire of willing, always-

cheery subjects. And the subjects are happy because the

leaders hit them with a powerful happy-beam.”

Baxter turned to Beck. “It almost makes sense.”

“No, it makes no sense at all!” Beck replied.

“Oh, dear,” Larky said, looking up at the viewscreen.

“What is it, Larky?” Davey-wavey asked, looking over.

Davey-wavey’s question was answered when the

viewscreen snapped up a view of swarming Klingon warships

attacking a retreating Explorer stardrive.

“I wonder whose side they’re on,” Davey-wavey said

thoughtfully.

“Well, they’re attacking the Explorer, which is right

now being commanded by our enemies,” Beck reasoned. “So

doesn’t that mean they’re on our side?”

“The Klingons were on the side of the Federation the

last I heard,” Davey-wavey said.

“Maybe a lot HAS changed,” Baxter offered.

“We are being hailed,” B’nana reported.

Davey-wavey approached the viewscreen. “Let’s see

it.”

The smiling visage of Captain Jean-jean Picard graced

the viewscreen. “Davey-wavey…how nice to see you again.

Where’s my Binkyboo?”

“Uh-oh,” Davey-wavey said.

“What’s wrong?” Baxter asked. “Is the Picard here

good or bad?” Regardless, he was definitely a snappy

dresser.

“Very, very, bad,” Davey-wavey said under his breath.

“Ready on weapons,” he grunted back to B’nana in such a

garbled voice it sounded like a cough. “Uh, Captain Picard,

I’m sorry to say that…uh, well… some things happened on

the Aerostar, and, um, your ‘Binkyboo’ as you, um, call him,

well…he’s been…compromised.”

“Compromised?” Picard’s face went ashen. “How so?”

“Um, Captain Riker’s brain went a little funny.”

“Oh, Riker…my baby!” Picard covered his mouth in

horror. “Beam him to my Sickbay immediately.”

“I’m sorry, Captain. I can’t do that,” Davey-wavey

said. “You see, I’m here to retrieve a ship from the other

universe and help the resistance in any way possible.”

“Then you won’t let me see my Riker?”

“Afraid not,” Davey-wavey said weakly.

“Tracking the Explorer,” Larky reported. “On a course

of 012 mark 008. They are having trouble getting clear of

all the Klingon ships and are unable to enter warp.”

“Intercept them,” Davey-wavey ordered.

“Might I remind you that we will have to cross the

whole field of Klingon warships to–”

“Do it!” Davey-wavey ordered.

Picard blinked back on the viewscreen. “You are not

nice!” he said in a thundering voice. “But I can’t destroy

you–not if I want my Binkyboo!”

“Sorry,” Davey-wavey said, returning to the command

chair, just as the first disruptor blasts hit the Aerostar.

“Return fire, B’nana, all weapons!”

“What’s going to happen now?” Mirk asked.

“They’re going to wear down our shields until they can

board. Then it all depends on whether it’s a Klingon team

that beams aboard or if it’s Picard himself.”

“Why? Didn’t they hit the Klingons with that happy

beam?” Hartley asked, hunched over the science station.

“Oh, they’re happy all right,” Davey-wavey said

grudgingly, holding tight as Ensign Susie maneuvered the

Aerostar. “But they’re still killers. They’d murder the

whole bridge crew.”

“So we’d be better off if Picard beamed over,” Beck

said.

Davey-wavey laughed hideously. “Oh, no. You don’t

know Jean-jean. We’d be begging for death by the time he was

finished with us.”

“Shields down to thirty percent,” B’nana reported

grimly.

“Wonderful,” Beck grumbled. “We’ve got a choice

between death and–” she looked to Davey-wavey.

“Don’t ask,” Davey-wavey snapped back.

More streaks of light blazed through space on the

viewscreen, lighting up the bridge at the same time as

panels exploded all around.

“Our shields have failed!” B’nana cried out.

“Sensors indicate that the Explorer has engaged into

warp,” Larky reported from ops.

“So we bought them time with our hides?” Baxter asked

wryly.

Hartley grimaced. “See, every cloud does have a silver

lining.”

Suddenly, six beams of light appeared on the bridge–

three blue and three red. The blue beams formed Captain

Picard, Lt. Woofie, and Lt. Commander Data, the red ones

formed angry, yet happy, Klingon warriors.

“I guess we get the best of both worlds,” Davey-wavey

griped, leaping out of the command chair and smashing head-

on into one of the Klingon warriors.

Baxter was paralyzed with fear. The Klingon warriors

were dressed in long, feathery, pink tutus, powder blue

tights, and big Peter Pan shoes.

“Hey, little guy,” one of them said happily, stabbing

a dk’tang knife into Davey-wavey’s shoulder.

“I want him alive!” Picard chanted, withdrawing his

sword and stabbing it into Ensign Madera.

Lt. Commander Larky was instantly on her feet. A

compartment in her chest opened up, firing a grappling hook

at Picard. The hook wrapped around the Captain’s neck and

jerked him back.

“What scullduggery is this?” Picard asked.

Woofie moved to assist Picard, and was immediately hit

by a phaser in the back from Commander Beck.

“My thanks, Commander,” Larky said, as her eyes slid

away to reveal two phasers which lashed beams across the

bridge.

“She’s like a damn Swiss Army knife!” Baxter said,

ducking as a Klingon soared over him in an elegant jetee,

crashing into the command chair.

Lieutenant Hartley lept over the science station,

barely missing a phaser blast from Lt. Commander Data. The

android aimed again, just in time for Larky to plow into him.

Data hopped back, preparing to do battle with the

other android. “I see the unhappys reprogrammed you,

Lieutenant.”

“It is Lieutenant Commander now, and yes they have,”

Larky said, as beams seared from her eyesockets.

“A pity,” Data replied. The phaser beams bounced

harmlessly off a field that surrounded the android. “You

were formidible. Primative, but formidible indeed.” Data

cocked his head, and suddenly emotional fire crackled into

his eyes. “You see, I too have made improvements to my

systems, including Dr. Soong’s emotion chip. It is quite

envigorating. I feel so much. You could feel it to. A

trip to my lab, a chilled sherry, or a nice kiante perhaps?”

Smoke filled the bridge as Baxter lunged towards the

helm. “Gotta get us out of here!”

Baxter fumbled with the helm contols as Picard grabbed

the wounded Davey-wavey. “Tell me where my Binkyboo is!”

Lieutenant Woofie struggled to his feet, clambering to

Jean-jean’s side. He shook off the effects of Commander Beck’s

stun with a grunt. “Captain?”

“Search this ship from stem to stern!” he cried.

“Find my Binkyboo and any other Federation citizens who are

still HAPPY!”

“Aye, Captain,” the Klingon said as he moved to the

turbolift.

Beck struggled with two Klingons, desperately trying

to avoid being stabbed. “This is such fun!” she growled.

“We must do this again some time!”

“Don’t blame me, Beck!” Baxter cursed, pushing a

Klingon away as he steered the Aerostar into a tight roll.

“You were the one that wanted to come along so badly in the

first place!”

“What was I thinking,” Beck snapped, plowing one of

the Klingon’s heads into a bulkhead. Before she could turn,

the other one drew his knife high above his head, prepared

to strike.

Lt. Hartley scrambled over the tactical console, just

in time to avoid a flying batleth. “I’m coming to help,

Commander Beck!”

The transporter chief lept onto the back of one of the

Klingon warriors, ripping his blade out of his hands.

“Step off, girlie!” the massive Klingon grunted,

tossing Hartley away as if she weighed nothing.

Hartley landed at Mirk’s feet, just in time to see a

Klingon descend towards them.

Mirk squinted his eyes shut and concentrated. “Don’t

worry, Lieutenant, this fellow is all taken care of.”

Hartley winced as the Klingon crashed into both of

them.

“You were saying?” Hartley croaked, sliding out from

under the Klingon and dragging Mirk away.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Mirk replied.

“There’s something wrong with my powers.”

“No kidding.”

Meanwhile, B’nana struggled with two Klingons hanging

from each arm in an attempt to help Commander Beck. “The

old B’nana would have reached out and hugged you. But the

new B’nana just wants to crush your fwarking skulls!”

“Don’t you have some kind of powers from that

normalizing beam that you can use on these guys?” Beck

asked.

“Afraid not,” B’nana grunted. “However, I have found

that, since being hit by the beam, I have become quite adept

at basketball.”

“Well, that’s not helping us now!” Beck cried, ramming

her shoulder into the nearest Klingon.

Captain Baxter gripped the helm as he spun the

Aerostar around again, moving to the side as a phaser blast

seared by him.

“You are tenacious, otherworlder,” Jean-jean said. “I

can’t wait to get you back to my ship. You’ll be a

fun…exercise.”

Baxter shivered as he worked the controls. In his

peripheral vision, he noticed Larky hovering behind him.

“Thank goodness you were able to take care of Mr. Data,

Larky. Go see if you can get the shields back up.”

“Lt. Commander Data has corrected my programming

errors. Have a beeee-utiful day, Captain!” Larky said

joyfully, lifting Baxter into the air and hurling him into a

bulkhead.

“Captain Baxter!” Hartley called out, as she recovered

her fallen phaser and blasted an onrushing Klingon.

“We have to get out of here!” Mirk cried from behind

her.

“No kidding!” Hartley said. “I’m up for suggestions.”

Suddenly the Aerostar rocked again. But it was a

different kind of rock. Like a wave of energy passing

through the entire system.

And that energy filled Mirk like he was a lightening

rod.

“Take my hand!” Mirk cried, reaching out towards

Hartley. “I’m not sure what’s happening, but it’s something

cool!”

Hartley grabbed Mirk’s hand, just as a Klingon warrior

lunged towards her. “Could you be a little more specif–”

And in a blink the light was gone, as were Mirk and

Hartley.

Without anything to stop him, the Klingon slammed

painfully into the bulkhead.


:) CHAPTER FIVE


WAYSTATION


“Report in, Cumberland,” Commander Conway said,

taking a long sip from his cup of coffee and staring up at the

viewscreen in Ops.

“Engines at ninety-five percent, Commander,” Lt.

Porter’s voice replied. “Yadkin, Roanoake, and Algonquin

are maxed out as well.”

“What about Susquehanna?” Conway asked, leaning

forward with interest.

“Moving into position now,” came Lt. Commander

Larkin’s voice.

“Great,” Conway said. “Lt. Tilleran, what response are

we getting from the rift?”

“It’s closing to four thousand meters, sir. A marked

improvement. I’d say we should see full closure in another

forty minutes.”

“Hey, toadboy! I’ve got a bone to pick with you!”

Counselor Peterman said, emerging from the turbolift.

Conway edged back as Peterman approached.

“That’s…um…Commander Toadboy to you.”

“I heard you were closing the rift.” Peterman backed

Conway against one of the bulkheads.

The Commander squirmed slightly. “Yeah, what if I

am?”

“My boyfriend’s over there!”

“Hey, a lot of people that we care about are over

there, but the security of the Federation is more

important,” Conway said, backing up a little more, carefully

holding his coffee as far away from Peterman as he could.

“Security of the Federation my ass.” Peterman grabbed

Conway’s collar and lifted him up against the wall. “You

just want to be Mr. Hero, at the expense of everyone who’s

trapped over there.”

“Watch the coffee, watch the coffee!” Conway said

frantically, balancing his mug as Peterman shook him.

“I’ll watch the coffee all right, buster,” Peterman

said, letting Conway drop to the deck, grabbing the coffee

and dumping it onto Conway’s crotch.

“Arrrrrrgggh!” Conway cried, as the hot coffee soaked

into his uniform. “You are way out of line, Counselor!”

“Well, then, allow me to get a little more out of

line,” Peterman said, tapping her comm badge. “Peterman to

Algonquin. The word is ‘go’.”

“J’hana here. Acknowledged.”

Conway lept forward to grab Peterman as she disappeared

in a flurry of blue particles.

“J’hana!” Conway growled.

“Sorry, Commander,” J’hana returned over the comm.

“Honor always comes before duty. Is there anything you’d

like for me to bring back from the other side? A t-shirt, perhaps?”

“Conway to Susquehanna,” Conway cried, slapping his

comm badge. “Intercept the Algonquin before it reaches the

rift.”

“Aye, sir,” Larkin responded. “But Commander,

should I succeed, do you wish for me to fire on them?”

“I don’t care what you have to do, just stop them!”

Conway cried.

Conway limped towards the viewscreen, watching as

Larkin’s runabout maneuvered after the Algonquin.

“Would you like me to get the doctor up here,

Commander?” Lt. Commander Morales asked from behind

Conway.

“Please,” Conway croaked, falling back to his knees.

“The Algonquin has outmaneuvered my phaser beams and

entered the rift, Commander. Shall I pursue?” Larkin’s

voice crackled over the speakers.

“No, break off, Susquehanna. Break off,” Conway

grunted. “Resume your position and continue to close the

rift.”

“Are you okay, sir?” Morales asked.

“I can’t believe she made me dump coffee on my

crotch!” Conway muttered. “That has to be a Court Martial

offense.”

“You have a very…unique command style, Commander,”

Morales commented, as Conway grasped at his burned genitals.


USS ENTERPRISE


Captain’s Happy Thoughts,

Stardate 52605.7. While my Klingon compatriots go to

work taking control of Playstation, we have set course to

pursue Happymaster Dillon. In the meantime, I have some

unfinished business to attend to.


“THANK you for saving me, Captain Picard,” Manservant

Jaroch said, pacing back and forth in the small quarters he had

been assigned to. “Thank YOU for saving ME, your

Happyness!” he said again. “No, that’s not right. Thank

you for SAVING me, monsieur! That’s it. He will like the

french part.”

Suddenly the doors to Jaroch’s quarters signalled a

visitor from outside with a pleasant, Jetson-esque “doo doo

doo doo!”

“Come,” Jaroch said, straightening his hair and folding

his hands behind his back neatly, putting on the biggest

fake smile he could manage.

Captain Picard pushed through the door, his sword

clanging at his side. “Greetings, Mister Jaroch. It has been a

while.”

Jaroch bowed graciously. “Thank you for SAVING me,

monsieur.”

“Think nothing of it. I needed someone I could trust

and who knows Travvy well. I hope you’ve found the

accomodations pleasing.”

“Very much, sir. The rumors of your treatment of

prisoners are quite erroneous.”

Jean-jean clapped Jaroch on the back and squeezed him

tightly. “Don’t think of yourself as a prisoner, cher.

Think of yourself as a guest. You’ll be treated well by my

staff and me, and all I ask in return is that you help me

stop Lisa-love and Travvy from reaching Earth. If they do, my

place as Happymaster General is endangered. And we wouldn’t

want that, would we?”

“No, sir.”

“Perhaps, if I do make Happymaster General, there will

be an administrative position at my side for you. Would you

like that?”

“Oh, yes sir!” Jaroch said excitedly. “I shall do all I

can to assist you.”

“Excellent,” Picard said with a smile. “We will

intercept Lisa-love and Travvy in five hours. In the meantime,

I have another little assignment for you. One that will put

all your scientific skills to use.”

“Scientific skills?” Jaroch asked with a gulp.


Manservant Jaroch rounded the bend to the adjoining

corridor and stopped dead in his tracks as soon as he heard

the anguished grunts from the room at the end.

“Keep a-movin’,” the security officer said pleasantly,

nudging Jaroch onward with his phaser.

Jaroch came to a stop at the set of doors at the end of

the corridor and had to stop himself from jumping back when

he heard another anguished grunt.

“Computer, be a sweetheart and open up this door,

security authorization Betty Boop One,” the security guard

said. The doors promptly swished open, and the guard

unceremoniously shoved Jaroch through. “Have a good time,

Mister Jaroch.”

Upon being shoved inside, Jaroch tripped and fell flat on

his face. The Yynsian squinted up at the dark shapes in the

dimly lit room. “Computer…lights.”

The lights sprung on, causing Jaroch to stumble back as he

groped his way to his feet.

As his eyes adjusted, he saw a dark shape move towards

him and knock him back over the couch.

“Errg?” a voice asked.

Jaroch pulled himself up and looked into the face of his

assailant. “Captain Riker!”

Willy-nilly had changed a lot since Jaroch had last seen

him. His beard was bushy and his hair was wildly unkempt.

And his eyes…they reflected a warped and twisted mind that

swirled behind wide corneas.

“Fox in sox knocks blocks from docks and watches

bottled beetles battle with paddles in puddles!” Willy-nilly

cried, leaping over the couch and jumping on top of Jaroch.

Jaroch wiped a spray of drool off his face and squirmed

out from under Riker. So this was what Picard meant by a

little assignment. He had to put right whatever was wrong

in poor Riker’s head. And he only had a few hours to do it.

“The goose grabs gooey globs of gross gunk!” Willy-

nilly said pleasantly.

“Not a problem,” Jaroch muttered.


“You win again,” Lt. Commander Richards said with a

sigh, handing his cards to Bradley Dillon. “You’re pretty good

at this game, Mr. Dillon.”

“It’s a hobby,” Bradley said with a smile. “Cards are a

nice way to pass the time.”

“Excuse me,” Dr. Browning said from the cell across from

them. “But I was just wondering when we were going to stop

playing cards and find a way to get out of here?”

“If you have a suggestion, hon, I’d love to hear it,”

Richards said. “You want to go again, Stuart?”

“No, I already owe Bradley here two bars of latinum,”

Stuart said grumpily.

“That is if we ever get out of here alive,” Bradley

sighed.

From her place on the cot next to Browning, Lana Shar

crossed her arms and made an angry noise. “He’s cheating,

you know.”

Stuart turned to Bradley and narrowed his eyes. “Is

that right?”

Bradley backed up a bit. “Of course not. My

gorgeous friend is mistaken.”

“Listen, pudgy, I didn’t live five hundred years

without learning a thing or two,” Lana said resolutely.

“You have a microscopic implant in one of your fingers that

is capable of changing the number and suit of the cards in

your hands.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Bradley said. “I’m offended that

you would think such a thing of dear old Bradley Dillon.”

“Check him,” Lana said.

Stuart grabbed Bradley’s hand and rubbed his fingers

over the brig’s wall, and sure enough, a tiny, red, “ten”

appeared.

“Just a parlor trick. I wasn’t actually going to

collect,” Bradley said innocently.

“Why you…” Richards muttered.

“Hello, friends,” a voice said, as the doors to the

brig swooshed open. Richards turned to see Ensign Fresca

approach the two cells. “I trust you’re all happy with the

accomodations.”

“Thrilled,” Browning said with a plastered-on smile.

“Good,” Fresca said, smiling even wider. She leaned

closer to Richards’s cell. Without moving her lips, she

said, “I understand you are well versed in this ship’s

functions, Mr. Richards.”

“I’d like to think so,” Richards replied.

“Just what I wanted to hear. Watch for my signal,”

Fresca said, still smiling wide. She backed away from the

cell. “Stay happy and nothing will happen to you. Pleasant

day.”

“What was that all about?” Stuart asked, as Fresca

left the brig.

“It makes perfect sense,” Browning said. “She couldn’t

possibly be named Fresca, since that was just the alias Lt.

Commander Preston worked under when she was on our Aerostar.

Fresca is obviously her alias in this universe too.”

“But who does she work for?” Lana asked.

“Good question,” Richards said, rubbing his chin.

“Whoever it is, I’m more inclined to trust her than

Happymaster Dillon.”

“You can say that again,” Browning said.


“Back already?” Travvy asked, as Fresca made her way

down to the front of the battle bridge.

“Yes, sir,” Fresca said sweetly. “Everyone’s still

tucked in.”

“Goodie.” Travvy leaned back in the command chair.

“Ready a Priority One communication for the Emperor. Tell

her Picard and the Klingons have betrayed us and call for

support.”

“Aye, sir,” Fresca said, entering the commands into

her terminal.

“Well, what do we do now?” Lisa-love asked from her

place next to Travvy.

“We wait,” Travvy snapped. “Unless you have a better

idea?”

“Not at all. This is your show, Happyness.”

“Damn right. Don’t ever forget it.”


Lieutenant Hartley fought her eyes open and tried to

ignore the throbbing in her head. “Captain Baxter? Captain

Conway? Mirk?”

“Here, Megan,” Mirk said, leaning over her. “You

took a bump on the head when we landed.”

“Landed?” Hartley asked, leaning up and rubbing the

bump on her head.

“Yeah. Sorry about that,” Mirk said. “I projected us

about ten meters above the planet’s surface.”

“Wait a minute. Projected?” Hartley asked. “The last

thing I remember is being on the Aerostar as it was attacked

by Picard and the Klingons. We were about to be taken over

when you started glowing and…”

“Then we ended up here,” Mirk said, gesturing to the

green foliage around them. “As near as I can tell, some

kind of energy inversion in the Bermuda Expanse supercharged

my powers for a moment and gave me the ability to transport us

out of there.”

“You mean you used your powers to beam us here?”

“Not really beam. I just…‘thought’ us here.”

“Neat trick,” Hartley said. “Well, genius, where

exactly did you ‘think’ us?”

“Good question. I was wondering that myself. I don’t

recognize the planet.”

“Me neither. Do you even know if we’re near the

same system?”

“Not a clue. We could be anywhere. Maybe even in

another quadrant.”

“Just great. What about the rest of the Aerostar crew?”

“I don’t know. I assume Captain Picard took them

prisoner.”

“Meanwhile, we’re powerless to help them.” Hartley

through her hands up in frustration. “Thank goodness for

little Maloxians and their magical powers.”

“You know, I did save your life, if you recall,” Mirk

said.

“Believe me, I couldn’t thank you more. But right now

we need to find a way to help the Captain and the others.”

Hartley grunted as she slid off the rock. “Maybe there’s

some civilized life around here.”

Mirk looked around at the towering trees that

surrounded them. He had a very bad feeling about this

planet. “That’s a nice thought, Megan. But somehow I

doubt it.”


When Captain Baxter came to, he was immediately made

aware that he was spinning rapidly.

“What the hell is happening?” Baxter asked, as he

whirled around dizzily.

“Nice of you to join us again,” Beck’s voice said

nauseously. “They put us on some kind of damned gyroscopes.

A quick, dizzying, look told Baxter that Beck’s

observations were correct. His arms and legs were stretched

out and attached to some kind of hollow, metal, spherical

ball–kind of like the ones they used to prepare cadets for

zero-g work at Starfleet Academy. But this ball was

spinning far more rapidly.

“I think I’m going to puke,” Beck said.

“Other than that, have you found anything out about

where we are?” Baxter said, trying to suppress the vomit

that was churning in his stomach.

“Very little, actually.”

“Just great. Well, obviously we weren’t successful in

getting the Aerostar away from the Klingons.”

“We made a darn good try at it, though.”

“And accomplished little, I’m afraid,” a voice said

from somewhere in the room. Baxter couldn’t locate it

because he was spinning so fast, but it was unmistakably the

voice of Captain Picard.

“Hope you all are enjoying my…hospitality.”

“Where is everyone else?” Beck asked.

“We left the Aerostar in the tender care of my Klingon

enforcers. You two came along because…well…this other

world intriuges me.”

“What about Mirk and Hartley?” Baxter asked.

“You mean the other two people from your universe?

They seem to have disappeared. I’d like to know why…but

maybe you could tell me that.”

“Mirk’s powers must have malfunctioned again,” Baxter

said dizzily.

“Intruiging. I’d like to hear more about this later.”

“Could you please stop this God forsaken spinning?”

Baxter pleaded. “It’s driving us nuts.”

“Mmmmm…precisely,” Picard said, clapping his hands

together. “You two are simply delicious. We’ll have your

brains so scrambled soon that you won’t be able to tell your

left from your right. Then we can be friends.”

“I don’t want to be friends, Mister, I just want to

get my ship back and get the hell out of here.”

“Oh, you’ll get your ship back, all right. We can

even make you Captain of it again. But first you’ll have to

undergo a little …attitude adjustment.”

“Oh for the love of Pete!” Baxter cried out.

“There will be time for love later, big boy,” Picard

said. “For now, enjoy the amusements.”

“How the hell are we going to get out of this one,

Captain Intelligence?” Beck asked, as Picard left the room.

Baxter responded by puking loudly and uncontrollably

all over the inside of his sphere.


J’hana’s voice, mixed with alarms and computerized

bleeps, buzzed around Peterman.

“We’re caught in a gravitic flux!” J’hana cried out.

“Attempting to adjust the warp field to compensate!”

Peterman’s field of vision warped and clouded up as

she tried to make sense of the swirling world around her.

“Can we get through?”

“Uncertain. I cannot even–”

Then everything stopped. All the sounds inside the

runabout disappeared, along with the feeling of the deck

bucking under Peterman’s feet. Suddenly it was all just–

gone.

“J’hana?” Peterman asked, looking around at the

swirling purple eternity around her.

<Thank goodness someone came.>

Peterman looked around. “Who’s there?”

<Weir.>

“Weir who?”

<We’re all nuts. And you have to save us.>

Peterman shook her head to clear the feeling of

confusion that set in, but, oddly, she had no sense of

amusement. “Where are we?”

<In the eye of the storm.>

Suddenly an eyeball carreened by Peterman, almost

slamming into her.

J’hana flew after it, fists curled. “Transport me

into a funky purple mental plain, will you? You damned

eyeball! Wait until I’m finished with you!”

<Counselor, can you please call the blue one off?>

“J’hana!” Peterman called out.

The Andorian whirled around. “What do you want? I’m

busy here!”

“Don’t you see where we are? We’re with the

Directors!”

“That may be, but no one sucks me into a dream world

against my will without answering for it!”

“Calm down, J’hana! Remember our talks about your

temper?” Peterman said as she hovered there helplessly.

“I’ll calm down the second we–”

<You must help us…time is running out…> the eyeball

said, as suddenly the purple eternity transformed around

them.

Suddenly Peterman felt herself descend through a

strange multicolored world, struggling to stop her fall as

she felt plastic slide past her face.

“Where are we?” J’hana’s angry voice asked. “Where

are those Directors?”

Peterman suddenly realized that she was in a giant

tank that was filled with little plastic multicolored balls.

“Kelly, honey! Be careful in there,” a voice said.

“Who is that?” J’hana asked, as she writhed through

the thick surrounding balls.

“My mom,” Peterman said in confusion. “Hey, that’s

where we are. Playtime Place! On Earth!”

“Playtime Place? Was this some kind of torture

facility?” J’hana asked as she pushed up through the balls.

“No, it was a place where kids went to play. Hence

the name,” Peterman replied, struggling for footing.

“Charming,” J’hana grunted. “Why are we here?”

“You’ve got me.”

Peterman struggled against the current of balls until

her head emerged. “Mom?”

“There you are, sweetie. It’s time to go,” Peterman’s

mom said, extending a hand. “Come on, baby.”

“What is this bedamned nonsense?” J’hana asked, as her

head emerged beside Peterman.

“Watch your mouth, Melody, or I’ll be on the phone to

your mom in a jiffy!” Peterman’s mom warned.

“Melody?” J’hana asked. “And who the hell is Melody?”

Peterman climbed out of the balls and scratched her

head thoughtfully. “Melody was like my best friend when I

was eight.”

“You won’t be eight until March, sweetheart,”

Peterman’s mom said.

“I’m seven?” Peterman asked, taking her mom’s hand and

following her down the steps to the rest of Playtime Place.

“Amusing,” J’hana said. “I am sure you were a pretty

little girl, Counselor.”

“If I’m seven, and you’re Melody, that would make you

six, so shut up.”

“Be nice!” Peterman’s mom said with a wave of her

finger.

Peterman stopped at a row of funhouse mirrors and

gasped. A dark haired, seven year old girl in a flowery

pink and yellow jumper and white panty-hose stared back at

her. “This is not happening,” Peterman said, rubbing a hand

over her face.

J’hana looked over Peterman’s shoulder and laughed.

“You were a pretty little girl, Couns–” the Andorian

stopped when she saw her own reflection in the distorted

mirror. “By the hive mother!”

“Melody” was decked out in canary Osh Kosh overalls with a

big, purple bow in her hair.

“I am a freakish human child! How could this have

happened!”

“Don’t ask me,” Peterman said.

“And who is this B’gosh that my overalls belong to?

He sounds like an Andorian religious figure.”

Peterman grabbed J’hana’s hand and led her away.

“Come on, we have work to do.”

“Kelly, Melody!” Peterman’s mom called out. “Come

on, kids. We have to go now!”

“This is greatly disturbing,” J’hana said as she

followed Peterman.

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Peterman said. “Wait

until you see my room.”


Happymaster Dillon watched the onrushing stars on the

viewscreen impatiently. “Have we received a reply from the

Emperor yet?”

“Not yet, sir,” Fresca replied.

“Well, what’s taking so damn long?”

“I don’t know, Happyness. Perhaps it got stuck in

traffic.”

“If I want to hear jokes I’ll hire a comedian. Dillon

to Chrissie.”

“Chrissie here.”

“I need you to take a look at the primary

communications relay. I sent a message to Emperor Webber

an hour ago and I haven’t heard anything yet.”

“That’s odd. We’re only a few hours away from Earth

at this speed.”

“Very good, Chrissie. Now, the question is, can

you fix the f***ing problem?”

“Yes, Happymaster,” Chrissie said. “I’m on it.”

“Lt. Bri-Bri, what is the position of the Enterprise?”

“Well behind us, sir,” Bri-Bri replied from tactical.

“We will reach Earth twenty minutes ahead of them.”

“And once we reach Earth, they will be powerless to

stop us,” Travvy said, laughing maniacally.


:) CHAPTER SIX


EXPLORER


“Hello, Major,” Mistress Beck said, looking with

satisfaction at the brig that held Major Becky Singer at

bay. “I trust the occupation of my station is going well?”

“Well enough to assure you happy bastards will be out

of commission within the year,” Singer grunted.

“That may be. But your friends will do it without your

help.”

Singer threw her head back and laughed. “Do your

worst, bitch.”

“Honey,” Lisa-love said in a sultry voice. “You can’t

imagine what my worst is.”

Lisa-love suddenly whirled at the sound of opening doors.

“Happy day, Mistress Beck,” Ensign Fresca said with a

smile. “I’m here to check up on our prisoner.”

Lisa-love folded her arms and glared at Singer. “Make

it quick, my precious.”

Ensign Fresca walked over to the security console and

tapped in a few commands.

“Chrissie to Fresca. I need you down in Engineering.

Someone’s sabotaged the comm relay and I need your help to

fix it.”

“Right away, Commander,” Fresca said, making some

final adjustments to the panel in front of Singer’s cell.

“What are you doing, anyway?” Lisa-love asked, walking

over to where Fresca was working

“Just some routine maintenance,” Fresca said.

Lisa-love peered at the monitor. “You’ve shut down the

security sensors on this deck and rerouted the feeds to a

stand-alone data feeder…why would you–”

Fresca didn’t let Lisa-love finish her question. She

slammed an elbow into her chin, sending the Mistress reeling

backwards, then she pulled out her phaser and shot her,

sending her down for the count.

Then she holstered her phaser and deactivated the

field around Singer’s cell.

“I thought you’d never let me out of here,” Singer

said, climbing out of the cell. “I heard the rebels

assigned you to infiltrate the Aerostar. How did that go?”

“It was horrible. Now get Lisa-love into a cell and

follow me,” Fresca replied, tossing a phaser to Singer.

“We have some other guests to liberate before we can take

out the Happymaster.”


“More bubbles, Data! More bubbles!” Captain Jean-jean

said joyfully, squeezing his rubber ducky as his android

First Officer dutifully dumped more bubbly solution into the

Captain’s lavishly huge tub.

“Captain, it strikes me that you are undertaking a

grave risk by threatening the throne of Emperor Webber. Is

it not possible that you will fail and kill us all?” Data

asked.

“Risk is all part of the game, Mr. Data. I thought

you would have learned that by now. The universe is a

constantly expanding, constantly changing entity. We must

respond to this by adapting accordingly.” Jean-jean pursed his

lips in a smile. “Don’t you think?”

“Yes, sir,” Data said, and continued to stir the warm,

bubbly water.

“Manservant Jaroch to Captain Picard,” came the nervous

voice over the comm system.

Picard reached up with a toe and hit a control.

“Mmmm…Picard here.”

“Captain Riker is…er…responding favorably to the

electrical therapy I am administering to him. However, I am

not sure if he will recover total use of his brain.”

“It’s not the brain I’m interested in,” Picard said

with a mischievous grin. “Can he speak yet?”

“I am afraid not. All I have gotten so far is a

string of garbled sounds approximating words. Whatever

happened when the Aerostar crew revolted seriously

compromised the neuron chains in his cerebellum.”

“I don’t want to hear your technobabble, Mr. Jaroch,”

Picard said, splashing the water angrily with his hand. “I

want results. You must find out the secret of the

Aerostar’s mind reversal tool. If we can find out how to

reverse the effect of the happy beam, we’ll have enough

leverage to knock Emperor Webber out of office.”

“Aye sir. I will keep you updated on my progress.

Jaroch out.”

“Shall I give you your evening foot massage now, sir?”

Data asked, once he was satisfied that the water was bubbly

enough.

“I’m not getting any younger, am I?” Picard said,

sticking his feet up in the air so that Data could go to

work.


Fresca, Singer, and the group from the non-happy

universe quickly made their way to Engineering.

“Thanks again for letting us out, Fresca,” Browning said

quietly, as Richards led the group down the corridor.

“You’re welcome. Now hurry!” Fresca whispered back.

“As soon as the other Richards sees what I’ve done to the

comm relay, he’ll fix it and send the message on to Emperor

Webber. After that it’s just a matter of minutes before I’m

discovered to be a traitor.”

“We’re almost there,” Richards whispered, leading

the group around a corner.

Richards crept into Engineering with Fresca and the

others on his heels.

“Commander,” Fresca called out. “Happymaster Dillon

sent me to help you.”

“Groovy,” Chrissie replied from behind one of the

bulkheads. “I’m here in the Jeffries’ tube.”

Fresca keyed the door open. As soon as the doors

swished open, the other Richards stuck his head out.

“It’s really weird. Someone sabotaged the primary–”

“Suprise!” Richards cried, punching Chrissie in

the face.

“That felt good, didn’t it?” Browning asked, looking down

at the other Richards’s unconcious body.

“It sure did. Serves him right for having such an

ugly beard,” Richards said. He ran over to the master

systems display and began working.

“What’s our next step?” Bradley asked excitedly, looking

over Richards’s shoulder. He really seemed to be enjoying

this.

“We have to reroute control down to Engineering and

seal it off. Then we can take the Explorer back to the

Bermuda Expanse and get back to our own universe,” Richards

explained.

“Oh, that reminds me,” Fresca said. “Your Captain

Baxter and some of his friends followed after us, but Picard

captured them before they could do much good.”

“And you just now thought to tell us this

information?” Lana asked angrily.

“It slipped my mind, jeeze,” Fresca said. “Anyway, I

suppose you’ll want to rescue them.”

“Easier said than done,” Browning said. “We can’t just

ask Picard nicely to give them back to us.”

“Maybe we won’t have to,” Major Shwartz piped up. “I

think Captain Picard is going to make a move to overthrow

Emperor Webber. Evidently he has the backing of the

Klingons.”

“So?” Richards asked as he worked.

“So,” Fresca chimed in, “Picard will most likely

attempt his coup when he reaches Earth.”

“And?” Bradley asked.

Fresca let out a long sigh. “And, instead of fighting

him, we’re going to give him exactly what he wants:

Happymaster Dillon.”


Chirpy music thudded against the walls of the Battle

Bridge’s readyroom as Happymaster Dillon danced on top of

his small desk, singing happily along with the song that was

currently being piped in. “…When the end comes I know I

was just a gigolo. Life goes on without me ‘cause I ain’t

got nobody. Nobody cares for me…”

“Haggar?” Counselor Kelly-bell asked from the doorway.

“Roth,” Travvy corrected, straightening his uniform.

“Don’t you know how to knock? This is my private playtime.”

“My apologies,” Kelly-bell said. She curled up in the

small couch beside Travvy. “I thought we might talk

about…certain career opportunities.”

“What kind of career opportunities?” Travvy asked,

standing up and moving to the desk.

“It’s come to my attention that you have placed

Mistress Beck in Couselor Troi’s old position. Do you think

that’s wise?”

“Why, do you have someone else in mind for that…position?”

Travvy asked. He moved around to the couch to face Kelly-bell.

Kelly-bell pulled Travvy down onto the couch. “I just

might.”


“Report, Larkin,” Commander Conway said as he slid

off the biobed in Waystation’s infirmary with a wince of pain.

Larkin crossed her hands behind her back. “The rift

in the Bermuda Expanse has been repaired. There is no sign of

any kind of fluctuation in the phenomenon, and no sign that

the ionic disturbance surrounding the former position of the

rift will appear again.”

“Good,” Conway said, limping forward. “Thanks for the

skin grafts, Dr. Nelson.”

“Don’t mention it,” Nelson replied as she put her

instruments away.

Just before Conway reached the door to the infirmary, the

doors opened to reveal Lt. Commander Walter Morales.

“Sir,” Morales said. “There’s someone from the Explorer

here who wishes to speak with you.”

“Later,” Conway said. “I don’t have time to deal with

a sniveling scientist who ‘never signed on for this.’” Conway

made air quotes with his fingers.

“That’s not exactly–” Morales replied, as he was

suddenly shoved aside.

Conway looked down to see who had pushed Waystation’s

First Officer away, to realize with astonishment that it was a

five year old child in a red-on-black Starfleet Scout’s uniform.

“I’ve been patronized long enough, Commander. Now I

want a moment of your time.”

“He’s an insolent little bastard, isn’t he?” Conway

said, looking to Larkin with a smile.

“Sir, he is just a child…”

Conway ignored Larkin and bent down. “Okay, little

fella. Tell Uncle Dave what your problem is.”

“I object to your handling of this entire situation

Commander. Since I have come aboard your vessel I have

been misled and misdirected at every turn. I simply asked to

talk to my Uncle about the current situation and your

Lieutenant Gellar called me ‘Spanky’ and told me to go play

with a box of crayons. Now I demand satisfaction!”

“Okay, okay. We’ll let you call your uncle. Who is

he?”

“Admiral Frank McGrath.”

“Son of a bitch!” Conway said, smacking his head.

Larkin put a hand on Conway’s shoulder. “You are

hardly making this situation any better, Commander.”

“Larkin, why don’t you shut up and get this

little…” Conway looked down at the child and tried to

compose himself, “angel..a chocolate sundae while I take him

up to Ops to call his uncle.”

“Aye, sir,” Larkin said, and moved off to a

turbolift.

“Now…” Conway said tiredly.

“Robby.”

“Now, Robby, let’s go make that call.”


:)


Happymaster Dillon rushed out onto the bridge, jerking

up his uniform pants at the same time. “Report, Bri-Bri!”

“Sir, we’ve stopped!” Bri-Bri said from tactical.

“What do you mean we’ve stopped?” Kelly-bell asked,

shrugging on her uniform top and zipping it as she ran to

join Travvy on the bridge.

“I mean we’re not moving anymore,” Gellar replied.

“Obviously,” Travvy said. “Well, what’s the problem?”

“All the command pathways to the bridge have been

severed,” Tilly said. “It would appear it was done from

Engineering.”

“Dillon to Chrissie!” Travvy growled.

“This is Engineering,” a voice that sounded almost

exactly like Chrissie Richards said. “I’m afraid your

friend is unconcious right now. Maybe when you meet up

with him in the brig you can chat with him.”

“In the brig?” Travvy asked. “And just how do you

think–”

At that moment, a hiss of gas could be heard

throughout the bridge.

“F***!” Travvy cried, and dropped to the floor.


Mirk pushed leaves aside and hovered up to the higher

branch, his feet barely brushing against the tree trunk. “I

almost have it, Megan!”

“Be careful!” Hartley cried from the ground. She tried

to keep herself from looking away as Mirk hovered

precariously above the treetops.

“I think I see something!” Mirk cried out, hovering up

a little higher.

“What do you see?”

“Um–” Mirk said, when suddenly he dropped out of the

air, hitting several branches on the way down.

Hartley hopped back as Mirk plummeted to the ground

with a thud. “What happened?”

Mirk grabbed a branch and pulled himself up, dusting

off his outfit carefully. Of course he’d have to be wearing

his hunter green suede suit today of all days. It was

completely ruined now. “Well, I kind of lost my

concentration.”

“How?”

“I’d rather not say,” Mirk said defensively. “It’s a

private matter.” Truth was, he had let some rather steamy

thoughts of Amara, the waitress back at the Constellation

Cafe, seep into his head. Thinking about sex always either

activated his powers or messed them up, depending on which

would work out worse for him.

“Fine, fine,” Hartley said. “Let’s at least keep

moving. Maybe we can find shelter or something. I’d rather

not have to spend the night lying in a bed of pine cones.”

“Listen, I didn’t mean to transport us here. Anyway,

it’s better than being captured by that lunatic Picard,

isn’t it?”

“I guess so. I just wish we could figure out where we

were.”

Mirk looked around as the two proceeded through the

woods. “Well, you’re the Federation officer. Presuming

that I at least transported us somewhere within the

Federation, you should have a pretty good handle on where

we are.”

“These trees look darn familiar, but I can’t quite put

my finger on where I remember them from.”

“Trees look the same all over the galaxy. That’s not

going to help us.”

Hartley picked up a stick and examined it. “Okay then,

genius, what do we do?”

Mirk bent down and picked up a handful of soil,

lifting it up to his nose and smelling it. “Hmmm. It’s got

a trace of sulfur–maybe a little carbon. This is probably

a planet with an industrial or geological base.”

Hartley peered through the trees and squinted. She

could barely make out a large, red shape. While Mirk

talked, she pressed forward, studying the long struts and

beams.

“Damn it, how could I have been so stupid!” Hartley

cried. “I know where we are! Come on, Mirk!”

The transporter chief grabbed Mirk’s hand and dragged

him through the forest.

“Hold on! Where are you going!” Mirk huffed, trying

his best to keep up with Hartley.

Hartley didn’t answer, she just kept running, until

they reached a clearing. Beyond, over a large, grassy hill,

clear blue water dug into a well-developed stretch of land.

And over that clear blue water, a large red bridge joined to

sections of that land.

“That’s the Golden Gate Bridge, Mirk!” Hartley cried,

jumping up and down. “You sent us to San Francisco. We’re

on Earth!”

“San Francisco?” Mirk asked. “Wow. What a treat.”


Lt. J’hana ripped the head off the fluffy pink

elephant doll and threw it across the room. “I demand to

know why we are here, you damned eyeballs! I know you can

hear me! Why did you do this to us?”

Peterman grabbed Mr. Ed L. Fant’s body from J’hana and

put it back on her daybed. “Stop it, J’hana. I doubt the

Directors can hear us and you’re not helping matters by

messing up my stuff.”

“Perhaps this is an indirect result of the Directors’

twisted state,” J’hana said thougtfully.

“Of course,” said Peterman. “Mirk said something about

the damage the happy-beam did to the Directors. Could it be

possible that, by kidnapping us, they were somehow asking

for help?”

“I suppose so,” J’hana replied. “But why send us

here? What’s the significance of this place and time?”

“Maybe it’s just a way for them to speak in our terms.

They’re such an advanced race, maybe this is the only way

they can communicate with us.”

“I refuse to accept that. They conversed with the

Captain on several occasions, and if he can understand them,

anyone can understand them.”

“You’ve got a point.” Peterman hopped up onto her

daybed. “They must have doen this for a reason. Somehow,

by being here, we can help them.”

“I fail to see how we would go about that,” J’hana

replied grimly. “We are two children living on a ranch on

Earth. What can we do here to help a race of omnicient

beings that are twenty years in the future and on the other

side of the galaxy?”

That’s when the eyeball appeared above Peterman’s

dresser.

<First of all, you can stop applying those petty human

terms to our existence. We are non-corporeal. Thus, we do

not exist in time or space as you know it. You will have to

first accept that before you can help us.>

“Uh-huh,” Peterman said. “Listen, I’m just a

Counselor, and J’hana here is a Security specialist.

Wouldn’t a scientist be better equipped to help you?”

<You do not seem to understand the nature of the help

we need. We are disassociated and in desparate need of

something to pull us back together.>

“Uh-huh. Like a multiple personality disorder?”

<Not exactly. You see, we live across the plain of

multiple universes. We experience the insanity of those of

us unfortunate enough to occupy the universe where your

friends have traveled, but until recently, we have not been

affected by it. When the alternate Aerostar traveled

through what you call the Bermuda Expanse, our insane

counterparts tore themselves apart in an attempt to stop it,

only succeeding in ripping apart the fabric of space-time

itself.>

“Well, that is a problem,” Peterman said.

Just then, Peterman’s mom stuck her head in the door.

“Girls, Dinner!” She turned to look at the eyeball.

“Kelly, are both your friends eating with us?”

<That won’t be necessary, the eyeball said. I already

ate.>

“Come on, it’s deviled ham!” Peterman’s mom said with

a grin.

The eyeball looked down and considered the

proposition. <Okay, I’ll have a little plate. But go light

on the honey glaze, please.>

“Sure thing. Now come on down before it gets cold!”


J’hana and Peterman picked at their dinner and tried

to consider all that the eyeball had told them.

Meanwhile, the eyeball ate three helpings of deviled

ham and conversed amiably with Peterman’s parents.

<It was then that I decided that the subspace elements

were too volotile to be introduced into normal space. I

tried to convince my colleagues of that, but they laughed.

Little did they know that I was already coming up with a

plan of my own.>

“What a charming fellow!” Peterman’s dad said.

“Maybe one day you’ll find a guy as nice as this one,”

Peterman’s mom said.

“I have a boyfriend, mom!” Peterman protested.

“Sure you do, honey. I bet he’s sitting in this empty

chair, isn’t he?” Peterman’s mom turned to the empty chair.

“Mr. Bumpkins, would you like some ham?”

“Mom, would you stop that! You’re embarassing me!”

Peterman protested.

<Listen, Sheila, dinner was wonderful, but I really

should be going,> the eyeball said, pushing back from the

table.

“Now, come on, Ike. I know you want some of my

gourmet cheesecake,” Mrs. Peterman replied.

<Well, maybe a little piece.>

Peterman’s mom pushed away from the table and scuttled

back into the kitchen. “I’ll go get it!”

“This charade is ridiculous!” J’hana grunted under her

breath. “How long will we be made to endure it?”

“Until we get the eyeball straightened out, I guess,”

Peterman replied.

“Well, I’d sure as hell like to know how we’re going

to do that.”

<I’m glad you asked,> the eyeball said. <Come with me.>

Suddenly, Peterman, J’hana, and the eyeball

disappeared in a flash.

Mrs. Peterman emerged from the kitchen moments later

with a big plate of cheesecake. “Ike? Kelly? Melody?

Where’d you all go?”

Mr. Peterman didn’t look up from his newspaper. “You

say something, Sheila?”

Visibly perplexed, Mrs. Peterman plopped down into her

chair and sat the cake down. “Ron, don’t we have a

daughter? Seven years old, about so high?”

Mr. Peterman turned the page and examined the previous

night’s football scores. “Beats me.”


Stellar cartography was alive with disco music and the

sounds of wild, unrestrained reverie.

Captain Picard had converted the room into a

discothecque during one of his more eccentric phases, and

ordered the crew to join him there for parties at his whim.

Many of the crew had danced to exaustion, only to be prodded

to further dancing by security officers. “Dance until you

can dance no more!” Picard would say. Four officers met

their end on this dance floor. Occasionally, their bodies

would be permanently contorted into the shapes “Y,” “M,”

“C,” and “A.”

Tonight, Picard was in a particularly festive mood,

since he was certain that it was the eve of his appointment

to Happymaster…possibly even Emporer. He had ordered the

most annoying, screeching, electronic music piped into the

giant room, and had ordered all his top officers to meet at

the center of the dance floor for a furious dance-off that

would put their mettle to the limit.

At the center of this bumping and grinding orgy,

Picard–decked out in a shimmering yellow plastic outfit,

gigantic pink plastic pink-tinted glasses, and shoes that

had seven-inch soles–girated with reckless abandon, almost

knocking Mr. Gorgeous La Forge into the orbitting image of

Maxia Zeta.

“Where it’s at! Got two turntables and a microphone!”

Picard chanted along with the music, thrusting his pelvis

first against Dr. Bevvy Crusher and next into the

unsuspecting Reggie Barclay from Engineering.

Suddenly the music ground to a halt as the doors to

Stellar Cartography swished open, allowing Manservant Jaroch

and Captain Riker to enter.

At Picard’s request, Jaroch had put on his customary head-

to-toe leather outfit, and had dressed Riker in a sporty

white leisure suit.

“Report,” Picard said briskly, looking Riker up and

down.

“I have taught him a move made famous in a twentieth

century Earth movie known as ‘Saturday Night Fever,’” Jaroch

said with satisfaction.

“Let’s see it,” Picard said with a smile.

Jaroch jammed his electroprod into Riker, who immediately

jabbed a finger up into the air, and then down to the floor.

Picard clapped his hands vigorously, which prompted

everyone in the room to do so as well. “Bravo, Mr. Jaroch.

Dee-jay…back to the music!”

The buzz of electronic music once again filled Stellar

Cartography as Picard whirled Riker onto the dance floor.

“Let’s get down!” Gorgeous La Forge cried with a

whoop.

Mr. Woofie hung from the balcony that looked out over

the Stellar Cartography screen, letting out a shrill howl

and diving into the audience.

“Dance, Jaroch, dance!” Picard cried, as Lt. Commander

Data caught Woofie and whirled him back into the air,

finishing off the movement with a fast-spinning break-dance

move.

Jaroch performed the only Earth dance he was familiar

with: The Hand Jive.

Upon seeing this, the crew immediately caught on, and

quickly they were all caught up in a hurricane of hand-

jiving.

“Born to hand-jive, baby!” cried Jean-jean.

The furious dancing was interrupted by a shrill beep

from overhead. “Bridge to the Discotheque. We have

detected the Explorer directly ahead.”

Picard immediately stopped hand-jiving and tapped his

comm badge. “This is Picard. Come to a stop and go to

Canary Alert.”

“Understood.”

“Woofie, Data, Jaroch, Riker. You’re all with me. The

rest of you, keep dancing!” Picard said merrily, skipping

toward the exit.


Data removed his stylish beret and took the ops

station. “Captain, the Explorer is within visual range

now.”

“Put her on-screen,” Picard said, removing his plastic

glasses and taking off his rubbery jacket to reveal a white,

frilly pirate shirt.

Data did as he was told and examined the readings on

his panel. “Sir, she appears to be adrift.”

“Adrift?” Picard asked, stepping forward and looking

at the ship on the viewscreen. “What about her systems?”

“Fully operational, sir. It seems as if they simply

cut their engines.”

“How strange,” Picard said, rubbing his chin. “Mr.

Jaroch, what do you think Travvy is up to?”

“It could certainly be a trick, sir,” Jaroch said.

“Mr. Riker?” Picard asked hopefully.

Riker just repeated his John Travolta move.

“That’s very good, Will. But can you tell us anything

about the ship out there?”

Riker shook his head and began gnawing on the material

of his chair.

Picard snapped a look over to Jaroch. “He hardly seems

competent, Mr. Jaroch. What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I am not a miracle worker, sir,” Jaroch said with a gulp.

Picard sighed. “Very well. I suppose this will have

to do.”

“Captain…I am detecting several lifesigns aboard the

Explorer,” Mr. Data reported. “Among them is Happymaster

Dillon.”

“Very good, Data,” Picard said with a smile. “Have

everyone you can find beamed aboard so we can..mmmm…add

them to our happy little family. And put a tractor beam on

the Explorer.”

“Aye, sir. Transferring coordinates to the transporter room.

They are energizing now.”

Picard tapped his foot on the bridge carpet several

moments until his patience was at an end. “Picard to

transporter room, what on Earth is taking so dreadfully

long?”

“Transporter room here. Happyness, I can’t seem to

resolve the matter stream…oh pooty!”

“Pooty?” Picard asked, raising an eyebrow.

Suddenly panels began exploding all over the bridge,

causing several unlucky ensigns to be knocked off their

feet.

Picard held fast and looked back to Woofie. “What in

Happyness’ name is happening?”

Woofie looked up from his panel, “They somehow managed

to piggyback a destructive microvirus on the transporter

beam. It’s working it’s way through the entire computer

system!”

“Stop it!” Picard ordered angrily.

“I cannot!” Woofie replied.

“Captain, this is the transporter room. I’m still

reading several patterns in the buffer. Should I

materialize them?”

“Transport them directly to the bridge. Perhaps then

we’ll have some answers.”

Suddenly Lt. Commander Chrissie Richards,

Counselor Kelly-bell Peterman, Commander Lisa-love Beck, Lt.

Ariel Tilly-ran, Lt. Bri-Bri Gellar, and Happymaster Travvy

Dillon all appeared on the bridge, tied and gagged in a very

primitive fashion, which seemed to please Picard to no end.

“Oh, rapture!” Picard cried with a shriek of glee. He

ran over to Travvy and tore the tape forcefully from his

mouth. “What do you have to say now, Happymaster?”

“Untie me, you British fruit! I’ll rip your lungs

out!” Travvy cried angrily.

“Now that doesn’t sound very happy to me,” Picard

said, feigning disappointment.

Suddenly an ominous-sounding alert came from Woofie’s

panel.

“Captain!” Woofie said urgently. “Engineering reports

that the cascade has spread to the warp control systems.

They report a warp core breach is imminent!”

“Jettison the core, then!” Jean-jean ordered, jumping about,

arms flailing gaily in the air. “Puse Alert! Puse Alert!”

Beside Travvy, Commander Chrissie seemed to be

making quite a fuss.

“Oh, what is it? Do you have to go to the bathroom?

Now really isn’t the time,” Jean-jean said tiredly, ripping the

tape off of Chrissie’s face.

”–we did the same thing to the Explorer. It’s a

trick, Captain! They’re going to try to steal the battle

section of the Enterprise like we took theirs!”

“And how do you know this?” Picard asked.

“Because I heard them planning it, and their engineer

is essentially me. He thinks the same way I do.”

“Woofie! Gather a security team and take it down to

engineering,” Picard ordered. “And send some men to the

battle bridge and to auxilliary control. We’re not going to

be taken so easily.”

“But what about the breach?” Woofie asked.

“We will go along with the separation as planned,”

Picard said.

“But what if it isn’t a ruse?”

“Then you and your security forces will die a gruesome

death,” Picard said. “Do you have a problem with that,

Lieutenant?”

The honorable blood in Woofie that had long been

buried slowly rose to a steamy boil. “No, SIR!”


“Quickly, Christopher! They’ll be on to us any second

now!” Dr. Browning said urgently, as Richards worked to free

the security systems of the door to Captain Picard’s

happyness lab aboard the Enterprise. They had used the

confusion that their cascade had set upon Picard’s ship to

give them the time to sneak aboard and retrieve Baxter and

Beck.

“I’ve almost got it…” Richards said, ripping

wiring out of the door panel. “There!” The doors swung open.

Richards ducked into the room, while Browning swung her

phaser around to make sure no one in the corridor had seen

them.

All Richards could make out in the dimly lit room

was faint beeping and twinkling neon lights, and the light

of the forcefields that surrounded the two cells at the back

of the room.

“Computer, lights,” Richards ordered.

“Please restate request.”

“Of course, I forgot myself for a moment there.

Computer, I need lights to light up my already happy life.”

“That’s the way!” responded the computer.

Lights flickered on all around the room, illuminating

the insides of the two cells as well.

“Andy!” Browning cried, running to one of the cells.

Baxter looked up from his bench and smiled. He was

idly twiddling his thumbs. “Oh, hi there, Janice!”

“We’re here to rescue you, and all you can say is ‘hi

there’?”

“Stand back!” Richards said, aiming his phaser at

the field controls. As soon as Browning was clear, Richards

fired.

Baxter and Beck emerged from the cells, looking as if

they had just awaken from a long night’s sleep, but their

eyes were wide open, giving them a very doe-like appearance.

“Are you guys okay? You look like you’re on Regalian

Pleasure Products or something!” Richards said worriedly.

He stared at Baxter and ran a hand in front of the Captain’s

eyes while Browning ran a tricorder over both he and Beck.

“We’re groovy tunes,” Beck said brightly.

“Where are the people that came with you?” Richards

asked Baxter, ignoring Beck.

“I think the other Aerostar blew up!” Beck exclaimed.

“And Hartley and Mirkie went bye-bye!” Baxter said,

waving his hands. “Bye-bye!”

“Christopher, I don’t like the looks of this,” Browning

said uneasily.

“We’re so happy to see you,” Beck said, a twinkle

glowing in her eye.

“Real happy,” Baxter agreed, grabbing Richards in a

tight bear hug. “Be our friends, kay?”

“F***,” Richards croaked.


TO BE CONTINUED. . .


Tags: vexed