Author: Anthony Butler
:) CHAPTER SEVEN
“Excuse me,” a voice said from behind Mirk and Hartley.
“Put on a happy face,” Mirk whispered under his
breath, and turned to face the source of the voice. The man
wore a shiny bright canary outfit, and had a dangerous-looking
cattle-prod-like device strapped to his hip. “Yes?” Mirk asked
“I don’t recognize those clothes,” the man said,
looking at Hartley’s Starfleet uniform. “And what race are
Mirk smiled proudly. “I am a Maloxian. I’m
from…uh…the Malox system.”
“I’ve never heard of that system.”
“It’s a very small system,” Hartley said.
“Very small,” Mirk agreed.
Mirk looked at Hartley then back at the man.
“She’s a pretty good lookin’ garbage person,” the man
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell her,” Mirk said,
elbowing Hartley. “Isn’t that right, hon?”
Hartley elbowed Mirk back a little harder, smiling
wide. “That’s right, hon.”
“Well, you guys take care, and make sure to stay
happy,” the man said, trotting off along a path back into
Hartley and Mirk kept on smiling until the man
“What was that all about?” Hartley asked, her smile
“I think that was some kind of cop,” Mirk replied,
seeming vexed at the notion.
“But what kind of cop wears yellow shiny pants?”
Hartley said. “That just isn’t normal!”
“Well, it fits in with the rest of this damn universe.
Now let’s get into town and see if we can find some clothes
that are a little less conspicuous.”
“I think more conspicuous is a better idea,
considering the universe we’re in.”
“We have reached a safe distance, sir,” Data reported,
as Picard looked up at the stardrive section of the
Enterprise on the viewscreen. The saucer section had
angled away on thrusters as soon as the separation sequence
had completed, in case the data cascade sent over by the
Explorer had caused any harm to Enterprise’s warp engines.
“Picard to Woofie. Is there any sign of trouble in
Picard turned to Data when there was no response.
Data cocked his head quizzically. “It appears that
the Explorer’s cascade has disrupted our communications
ability. Impulse engines have been rendered useless as
“Fiddlesticks,” Picard cursed.
“Captain…” Data said. “Someone has just broken into
the happyness lab.”
“Who? What’s going on?”
Data shook his head. “Sensors are severely limited.
I cannot tell…”
Suddenly the bridge was washed with light as the
stardrive section exploded in a brilliant eruption of color.
Picard withdrew his sword in a blindingly fast
movement and thrust it up against Chrissie’s throat. “I
thought you said that was a trick!”
“I thought…that is, I–”
Before Chrissie could finish his stuttering, a
phaser blast streaked across the bridge and connected with
Mr. Data, sending him flying forward into his panel, a
shower of sparks erupting from his back.
Ducking a blast from one of the security officers near
the aft stations, Manservant Jaroch whirled around and shot
both security officers and the science officer that was stationed
at the rear of the bridge as well.
“What is the meaning of this?” Picard asked, swinging
his sword around to face Jaroch.
“The madness must end here,” Jaroch said, leveling his
phaser at Picard.
“Jaroch, I never knew you cared,” Dillon said wryly.
“I don’t. I still hate you, Dillon. It is Mistress
Beck who I could never betray. When you are indentured to
someone, it creates a bond that cannot be broken. That is
something you’d never understand.”
“Nor would I want to,” Dillon spat out.
“Riker, baby! Take out Mr. Jaroch before it’s too late!”
Picard said, looking down the nose of Jaroch’s phaser uneasily.
“Ooog?” Riker asked, scratching his head.
“RIKER!” Picard cried. “Baby, I need you!”
“Grunch. Grunch Grunch Grunch,” Riker said, seeming
quite pleased with himself.
“He’s not going to help you,” Jaroch said. “He is a loyal
citizen of the Empire, even if you aren’t. Now Binkyboo, go
untie our friends.”
Picard’s face was lined with hurt as he watched Riker
dutifully untie Dillon, Lisa-love, Kelly-bell, and the others.
“Binkyboo, how could you do this to me?” Picard asked.
Dillon tossed his bonds aside and walked up to Picard,
wrenching the sword out of his limp hands. It appeared that
all the beans had gone right out of the good Captain.
“You’ve caused me a lot of trouble, you bald twit!”
Dillon shrieked. “And you’ll pay for it. By the smileyface,
you will SUFFER!”
And with that, Dillon removed his white suede gloves
and bitch-slapped Picard hard across the face.
“Oh, the humanity,” Picard said softly, dropping
limply to the floor. “I can’t take any more.”
“If anyone cares,” Kelly-bell said, looking worriedly
at the viewscreen. “The Explorer is getting away!”
“We have to get off this dead ship,” Dillon said
briskly, looking back at Chrissie.
“There should be a runabout available in the
shuttlebay, your Happyness,” Chrissie replied. “I’m
rerouting power to turbolifts now.”
Dillon frowned down at Picard and put his gloves back
on. “Very well. Prepare the runabout and then destroy all
the other shuttlecraft and launch all escape pods.
“What are you planning to do, you evil, evil man?”
Picard asked, tears streaming down his eyes.
“Come now, Picard!” Dillon said with a happy squeak.
“It’s about time someone else did the blowing. Up that is!”
The Happymaster snickered to himself and turned away from
Picard, moving briskly toward the turbolift, his cape
fluttering behind him. “Quickly, now! We haven’t much time
to lose! If I know Rebecca Singer, she’s only got one thing
on her mind!”
“You want us to topple the Federation of Fun?”
Richards said in disbelief as he paced the battle bridge.
“And just how do you expect us to do that?”
“Leave that up to Fresca and me,” Singer said,
turning in the command chair to face the viewscreen. “We
have an opportunity now to dethrone the Emperor once and for
“What about Lieutenant Hartley and Mr. Mirk?” Browning
asked. “They’re trapped somewhere in this blasted
“I managed to track down Hartley’s comm badge signal on
longrange,” Ensign Stuart reported from tactical. “Don’t
ask me how she got there, but she’s on Earth.”
“And I’ll bet anything Mirk is with her,” Richards
mumbled. “I guess we’ll have to go along with your plan,
Major Singer, as ludicrous as it sounds. We have to get
Mirk and Hartley back.”
“It isn’t necessarily ludicrous,” Fresca said. “The
Explorer has some defensive systems the Federation of Fun
may not have developed yet. We should be able to get past
Earth’s defenses with a minimum of fuss.”
“I don’t know,” Richards said. “It still sounds
risky. You’re talking about taking down an entire empire.”
“It only takes one phaserblast to end that empire,
Richards,” Singer said, standing up and clapping a hand
on Richards’s shoulder. “And I’m going to be the one
doing the firing.”
“Do I have any say in this?” Bradley Dillon asked from a
corner of the bridge where he and Lana sat, plaintively
watching the exchange.
“No,” Richards and Singer said at the same time.
“Well, damn, we’re back where we started,” Peterman
sighed, looking around the twirling expanse of the
Bermuda Expanse Rift. “I don’t know about you, J’hana, but
I’m getting pretty darned tired of–J’hana?”
An eyeball popped into existence in front of Peterman
so suddenly she jerked back.
<Hi there. Your friend J’hana is helping elsewhere.
What we really need is some of your expertise.>
“What kind of expertise? You mean counseling?”
The eyeball brightened. <Yes, exactly! You see, we’ve
really been pretty negatively effected by this whole thing
and we think it may help to talk about it.>
<So how does this work? Do I just start talking, or do you
like to ask questions first?>
Peterman thought about that a moment. “Am I getting
paid for this?”
J’hana materialized inside a gigantic white room,
almost the size of a football field. She was thankful to be
back in her original Andorian body, but confused as hell as
to where she was.
“Counselor? Eyeball?” J’hana asked, looking around.
All she could find was a huge pile of marbles that appeared
to take up the entire room. “Is anyone here or am I
expected to wait here until I go completely insane?”
Suddenly a man in a loud sequined suit appeared in
front of J’hana and shook her hand vigorously. “George
Sherbert, agent extroardinaire at your service! Nice to
“Who?” J’hana asked, as the man led her towards the
pile of marbles.
“That’s not important, my dear. I’m just a concerned
friend of the Directors. They’re in what we like to call a
‘session’ now, so I said I’d show you the ropes and get you
started on the…” George made air quotes with his fingers,
“I knew you’d be excited, it’s really a very exciting
project from what I hear,” George said, looking at his
clipboard and examining it a moment. “Says here these
marbles are a corporeal representation of the Directors’
conciousness–don’t you hate legalease?–anyway, you’re
supposed to separate the sane ones from the nutty ones.”
J’hana stared at the pile in horror. “And, pray tell,
how am I supposed to tell them apart?”
“Good question,” George said, scratching his head.
“Let’s see here…says you have to look at each one and
decide that for yourself.”
“Are you sure this isn’t just busy work?”
“You think they’d be paying me sixty percent over
scale for busy work? Come on, babe! Listen, I’ll be in the
other room if you need me, and there’s a pot of coffee
brewing over there. Good luck!”
“But–” J’hana said, as the man moved off toward a
door on the opposite end of the large room.
“Oh,” George said, turning. “I almost forgot. You
better work quick. The Directors said that if you didn’t
get the marbles straightened out quickly, the whole subspace
fabric might rip apart.”
“And I suppose that’s bad?”
“Roger that, sweety! I’ll see ya later!”
J’hana grunted with dissatisfaction and stared up at
the pile. “If I would have known I’d be doing this before I
signed up for Starfleet, I’d have gone into my fourth
father’s cattle-rustling business instead.”
The Andorian sighed and climbed to the top of the
pile, picking up a marble and inspecting it.
“Let’s see here. Insane or Sane?”
Upon closer inspection, the ball reflected a tiny
image of J’hana being stabbed over and over again with a
“Hmmm.” She thought for a long while and finally
tossed the marble over her shoulder decisively. “Definitely
insane. This will be easier than I thought.”
“I feel like a moron,” Lt. Hartley said under her
breath, as she and Mirk made their way through the streets
of San Francisco.
Mirk was sporting flowery bell-bottom pants and a
shiny yellow jacket, and Hartley was decked out in a bright,
ornate, vinyl jumpsuit that swirled with funky rainbow
colors. The heels on the boots she wore were several inches
too high, which was evidenced by the awkward way she tried
to move through the streets.
“When on Garibid, do like the Garibid do,” Mirk
“It’s just an expression.”
“Right,” Hartley said, looking around. “So what do we
do from here?”
“You tell me. You’re the brilliant Starfleet
officer. Doesn’t your training cover stuff like this?”
“I never read about anything even close to this at the
academy. You’ve got me.”
“Well, then. Back to square one, I suppose.”
“Maybe we should start by asking ourselves why you
transported us here of all places.”
Mirk thought about that as he looked around at all the
sickeningly happy people around. “Beats me. It just kind
“There has to be a logic to it. What’s here in San
“I mean besides the freaks.”
“Again, this is your planet, Megan.”
“Yeah, but I grew up on Beta Myrimad. I don’t know
that much about San Francisco or Earth for that matter. I
mean, Starfleet Academy is here. And Starfleet Command.
And a lot of nice coffee pla–wait a minute…”
Mirk and Hartley looked at one another. “Starfleet
Command!” they both said at once.
“So do you think San Francisco is still the base of
operations for this government?” Mirk asked.
“At least it’s worth trying. Hail us a trolley and
we’ll see what we can find.”
“Hail a what?”
Hartley moved out into the street and stuck her hand up
in the air. “Never mind.”
“Listen carefully, mister, no one calls my nephew
spanky!” Admiral McGrath said angrily from the viewscreen
in Ops. “Is that clear?”
Behind Conway, Robby stuck his tongue out.
“Yes, sir. I’ll give Gellar a slap on the wrist. Now
that we have the ‘imporant’ business out of the way, how
about this little matter about the rift and the entire
“You’d better change you tone quick, Commander!” McGrath
ordered. “I’m not accustomed to being addressed that way.”
“I’m sorry, Admiral. Let me rephrase that. What
about the rift and the entire f***ing quadrant?”
“We’ll reach Waystation tomorrow morning, and the
Venture and the Dartmouth should be through the ionic storm
by tomorrow afternoon.”
“You’re coming…personally?” Conway asked uneasily.
“With my nephew at stake, darned right I am. I’m
coming with the Starship Pulitzer.”
“Pulitzer,” Conway said thoughtfully. “I think I’ve
heard of it.”
“You should have,” the voice of Dr. Alexa Lanham, Conway’s
ex-wife said, as she elbowed Admiral McGrath out of the picture.
“It’s the science vessel I was assigned to. They’ve made me honorary
first officer now! And I get to figure out the problem with that darned
rift you’ve got there. See you soon!”
“Are you trying to torture me, Admiral?” Conway asked
“No, but if that’s the case, so much the better! McGrath
Conway looked back at his staff and the Waystation
crewmembers as McGrath and Lanham blinked off the viewscreen.
“The first person that says anything gets Court Martialed!”
“Happymaster Dillon has instructed me to inform you
that Captain Picard has attempted a coup, but it has been
stopped thanks to the interference of beings from an
alternate universe. Request a meeting to confer.”
Emperor Webber studied the image of the Bajoran officer
with interest as she rapped her fingernails against her
massive throne. “By all means, let’s confer. Tell my sweet
Dillon-baby that we’ll confer until the cows come home!”
Webber pressed a button on her throne. “This is Emperor
Webber to the perimiter guard. Let that ship through!”
“Thank you very much, your Happyness,” the Bajoran
said. “We’ll be in touch in**BLEEP***”
“Hold on just a mo, dear,” Webber said. “Call
waiting.” She pressed another button on her throne and the
image changed to that of Happymaster Dillon aboard a
runabout. “Dillon-baby?” Webber asked in confusion.
“No time to explain! Do not let Explorer through!
It’s a trap!”
“Darn it all to heck, Dillon-baby, what have you
gotten into now!”
“I’ll explain when I get there! Just stop the
“We have a ship named Explorer?”
“Just stop that ship, Emperor!”
“Travvy, honey, I have one of those Explorer people on
the other line. Should I switch over and see if she can
help clear this mess up?”
“NO! Just stop them, at any cost!”
“Now why are you being so forceful with me? Last time
we talked you were being so nice, and now this,” Webber began
to cry. The layers of mascara around her eyes began to drip
down her white, powder-caked face.
On the viewscreen, Dillon seemed to notice something
on the monitor next to him. “Damn it, Emperor, they’ve
already started beaming down there! Activate the intruder
alert and wait for me! I’ll be along as soon as I can.”
“Oh, Dillon-baby, I’m so scared!”
Dillon just sighed and closed the channel.
Webber activated the intruder alert and curled her legs
underneath her, stabbing the comm button with a trembling
finger. “Oh, guards, come and help me! The rebels are
coming and I’m terrified!”
“Interceptor ships coming in on several attack
vectors,” Stuart reported from tactical. “They’re no
match for us.”
“Take them out, Ryan,” Richards said from the
command chair. “And get our shields back up. It’s up to
Singer’s team now.”
“I don’t like the looks of this,” Lana said worriedly
from behind Richards. “We’re only one ship. How can we
expect to topple an entire Empire?”
“The Explorer has held up under worse than this,”
Richards said. “Stuart, what’s the status on that
“Out of firing range, sir. They’ve entered Earth’s
atmosphere and are attempting a landing.”
“Damn. Dillon’s going to get through after all. What
about the Enterprise saucer?”
“Right where we left it, though it appears to be
building up to a self-destruct.”
“Wish I could say I felt sorry for them,” Richards
“Sir, I’d start feeling sorry for us right now,”
Stuart said worriedly. “Three starships just entered the
area and are on an intercept course directly for us.”
“Damn,” Richards cursed. “Janice, take the helm.
Get us out of orbit. Stuart, increase power to shields
Browning blinked at Richards’s order. He’d never given
her an order before. “Christopher, I’m a doctor, not a
“Do it, Janice!” Richards barked. “That’s an
“Aye, aye,” Browning said wryly, scooting into the
pilot’s chair. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Captain Picard climbed over the wreckage of the bridge
and pulled Commander Data down to the floor with him.
“Data, speak to me…please!”
“Zrtt…ritibbbbbbbb…” Data said, sparks flying out
of his mouth.
“Shit, Data, I need you!” Picard flipped open the top
of Data’s head and began fiddling with the circuitry inside.
“You’ve always been there for me when everyone else
wasn’t…please don’t leave me now! I don’t know what I’d
do without you!”
“Self destruct in thirteen minutes,” the computer said
Picard cursed and continued to manipulate the
circuitry inside Data’s head. Finally, a few syllables of
his gibberish began to make sense.
Picard hugged Data tight as he cradled him in his lap.
“That’s my boy. I need you to help me stop Happymaster
Dillon. I can’t get anything around here to work, much less
you. I may be pretty, but I’m not very smart, I’m afraid.”
“I…grrrt…know, sir. I shall endeavor to help you,
but first you must…vrrrrrrrt…reactivate my
“Right. What’s that again?”
“Self destruct in eleven minutes.”
“We m-must st-stop the srrrrf–destruct,” Data said.
“Excellent suggestion, Mr. Data. Just tell me what I
have to do!”
Richards stared at the viewscreen woefully as the
Explorer threaded its way through the Mars-Earth asteroid
belt. “Tactical status,” he said uneasily.
“Three starships, Excelsior class, right on our tail!”
Stuart called out. “And I think they’re EXTREMELY happy
to see us!”
“Damn!” Richards cried. “Try to shake them, honey.”
Dr. Browning turned away from the helm console for a
moment. “Christopher, I’m trying as hard as I can to steer this
thing. Starship helming was never in my job description!”
Torpedo impacts crashed against the Explorer, causing
it to pitch forward toward Earth.
“You’ll have to start learning, hon,” Richards said,
as the bridge suddenly rocked severely.
“Nine torpedo hits, all direct on our shields. Down
to seventy percent!” Stuart called out.
“Janice, come about to 011 mark 032,” Richards cried.
“Ready on quantums and fire at will, Mr. Stuart!”
The Explorer barreled towards the three starships,
pummeling at them with its quantum torpedoes.
After repairing Data’s cortical subprocessor, Picard
watched as the Android briskly went to work on the guts of
one of the computer stations on the bridge.
“Data, what are you doing?”
Lt. Commander Data’s hands moved like lightening. “I
am terminating the self destruct.”
“That’s good,” Picard said confidently. “I knew you’d
get us back on the right track.”
“That remains to be seen,” Data said, as suddenly
lights flickered on around the bridge.
“Self destruct terminated. Have a great day,” the
“You did it!” Picard exclaimed, hugging the android
tightly. “Great work, Mr. Data. Now, how about getting
those engines operative?”
Captain T’poo of the Federation Funship USS Ruth
Buzzy smiled weakly as he listended to the tactical report.
He would have frowned, had he a choice, but all Funfleet
officers new that was grounds for mutiny.
“They destroyed the Piscopo and badly damaged the
Radner,” the tactical officer, a rather geeky, perpetually
grinning Benzite reported brightly. “Our own shields are
down to fifty-three percent.”
“Peachy,” the Vulcan said. “What about the Unhappy
“Their shields are down to thirty-two percent,
Captain. Just a lil more work and we’ll have ‘em.”
“So it would seem,” the Vulcan agreed, nodding. “But
they’re awfully resourceful, these Unhappys. I wouldn’t put
“Sir!” the Benzite called out. “The Enterprise saucer
is making a move for Earth!”
“Really?” T’Poo asked, arching an eyebrow. “I thought
the Happymaster had put them on self destruct.”
“Obviously something has changed. What should we do?”
T’poo shrugged. “Send the Radner after them.
Stopping the Explorer is our top priority.”
“Indeedily doodily, sir.”
“I have managed to extract a small amount of power
from the back-up fusion reactors,” Lt. Commander Data
explained, typing furiously at his panel as the Enterprise
thundered towards Earth. “It will not be a comfortable
ride, due to the cascade’s effect on our inertial dampers,
but we will be able to land nonetheless.”
“Very good,” Picard said, leaning against the helm
console and putting a hand on Data’s shoulder. “We may stop
Webber yet, you know.”
“Stranger things have happened, Captain.” Suddenly,
Data’s panel bleeped. “Sir, one of the ships that was doing
battle with the Explorer has broken off and come after us.”
“Can you evade it?” Picard asked, growing worried.
“I do not believe so. We barely have the power to
make it to Earth as it is.”
“We must make it there, Data!” Picard said. “Do we
have any weapons to work with?”
“Negative.” Data thought a moment. “However, I may
be able to offer an alternative.”
Picard smiled. “I knew you would. I’m all ears,
“The Funship will undoubtedly lock a tractor beam onto
us. All we have to do is send a disruptive pulse along the
beam. Since my sensors indicate that the Funship is already
badly damaged, I believe the pulse will be significant to
“Ooh, that sounds absolutely naughty. Make it so!”
On the small screen on Data’s panel, Picard watched
the Excelsior-class Funship Radner come toward them.
Meanwhile, they were steadily nearing Earth’s outer
As Data predicted, a blue beam lanced out and
connected with the Enterprise saucer, causing the hull to
tremble ever so slightly with strain.
“Initiate the pulse, Mr. Data!” Picard commanded.
“Aye, sir,” Data said, watching as green electricity
crackled back along the tractor beam, spreading along the
hull of the Radner.
With a hideous explosion, one of the Radner’s warp
nacelle’s blew off, causing the vessel to pitch foward,
smashing directly into the saucer.
“Oh dear,” Data said, as the saucer rumbled around
them. “I must have miscalculated the amount of damage done
to the Radner.”
Picard gripped Data tight as the saucer streaked down
toward Earth. “Stop us, Data! We’re going to crash!”
“I am aware of that,” Data said. “However, I see no
alternative at present. We have barely enough power to push
away from the Radner so that she does not pull us down with
Picard felt the saucer buck underneath him as the
Radner streaked by on Data’s tiny screen, trailing fire
“At least try to put us down near San Francisco,”
Picard ordered. “If we survive the landing we still have an
opportunity to destroy that bitch Webber. And get a
half-caf latte while we’re at it.”
Data considered this. “I believe the odds of our
failure are increasing exponentially, sir.”
“Protect the Emperor!” the leader of the Royal guard
cried, as he and his swarm of Happytroops moved into the
“Oh, thank you all for coming on such short notice,”
Webber said happily, placing her arms around the two nearest
soldiers as they made a circle around her. “I hate to get
you all so…shaken up, but I heard there were people
attacking here…and I got so terribly scared.”
“It’s okay, Emperor. We’re here now.”
“You don’t know how much better I feel,” Webber smiled.
“Let me by, you imbeciles!” Happymaster Dillon cried,
his cape fluttering behind him as he pushed through the mass
of troops and entered the room, with Mistress Beck,
Manservant Jaroch, and Captain Riker on his heels.
“Oh, darling, you’re finally here!” Webber cried,
pushing away from the leader of the guard and running to
“Yes, Emperor, I’m here. But hold off on the
pleasantries. We have an empire to save.”
:) CHAPTER EIGHT
“Yes, Emperor, I’m here. But hold off on the
pleasantries. We have an empire to save.”
“Oh, you smug f***er, will I be happy to wipe that
smile off your face,” Singer said quietly, watching Dillon
through binoculars from the window on the palace’s lofty
rooftop and pulling the reciever from her sound enhancing
device out of her ear.
“So do we get to kill them now?” Fresca asked
“Not just yet, Fresca. We have to wait till they let
their guards down.”
“There they are!” Tilly cried, clambering onto the
roof and running for Singer and Fresca’s position. “I
knew you were trouble from the beginning, Fresca! You
should never have come here after betraying us!”
“Get moving, Singer!” Fresca cried. “I’ll take care
of the Betazoid!”
Tilly fired a phaser at Fresca and barely missed.
“You’re no match for my powers, weakling!”
“Maybe that was true before we were integrated with
Maloxian DNA, but now it’s a level playing field, you
telepathic bitch!” Fresca said, ducking a punch and throwing
Tilly over her shoulder.
Tilly pulled herself up, concentrated on Fresca, and
squeezed her eyes shut.
Fresca just laughed and bowed her head in Tilly’s
direction. The Betazoid reeled backward as if she’d been
hit by a huge explosion.
“Did you find them, Til–” Chrissie said, climbing
up onto the roof. Before he knew what hit him, Tilly
slammed into him and both of them fell to the ground.
“Come on!” Singer cried from the maintenance hatch
in the roof. “Let’s make ourselves scarce!”
“And to your right is the Imperial Palace,” Sally the
tourguide said, leading Mirk, Hartley, and the rest of the
tour group around to the front of a huge, sprawling
“This is where Starfleet Command should be, judging by
where the bridge and some other landmarks are in relation to
it,” Hartley whispered.
“Emperor Webber made many alterations when she took the
throne three years ago,” Sally continued as the group moved
toward the palace. “She completely changed the government
and enacted many interesting laws that keep us safe and
“I hate this universe,” Mirk said under his breath.
“We’re very lucky to get a glimpse into this glamorous
world,” Sally said, leading the group thorough the massive
front doors and into the lobby. “And if you look to your
left you’ll–” just then a security guard in a “Nutcracker
Prince” outfit stepped forward and whispered something in
Sally’s ear. The tourguide smiled. “Fantastic. Folks, it
seems like there are some little…eventualities going on
today, so we’re going to be asked to stay well away from the
Emperor’s suite and any other secured areas. But don’t you
worry, that still leaves some amazing places to explore.
We’re going to start with the Royal shoe-shine room, located
to the left and down the East wing…”
“Wonder if those ‘eventualities’ have anything to do
with our friends…” Mirk whispered.
“I wouldn’t put it past them,” Hartley replied.
THE FEDERATION FUNCAMP FOR THE TERMINALLY
OUTSIDE SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
“Afternoon, Earl,” Inmate 0200 said, pulling up a
chair and looking up at the beautiful blue sky. “Nice day,
“Yeah, Carol, I guess it is,” Inmate 0210 replied.
“Reminds me of back home.”
“Does it make you happy?”
Carol sighed. “Not really. Guess we’re still stuck
here, huh?” “Yeah. Unless we…you know, lied. Pretended
we were happy. D’ya think we could do that, Carol?”
“Trust me, Earl. It’s just not worth it.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
After several moments of silence, a low rumbling sound
approached Earl and Carol.
“Do you hear something, Earl?”
“Yeah. Like thunder or something.”
“That can’t be it. There’s not a cloud in the sky.”
Suddenly, a large grey, metal disk swooped out of the
sky and whizzed over the Funcamp compound.
“You see that, Earl?”
“Wait a sec…” The PA system crackled to life.
“Attention all Funcamp participants: What you have
just seen flying over your heads is not a crashing Funfleet
vessel. Please return to your Twister and Scrabble games
and remain docile. Anyone attempting to be unhappy or
stimulate original thought will be forced to submit to
Conflict Resolution Therapy. Thank you.”
“Guess I didn’t see anything,” Earl said.
“Yeah. Me neither. Nice day, huh?”
“So what’s through there?” Mirk asked, looking down
the long hallway that was adjacent to the Emperor’s “Rubber-
walled Playpen” room.
“Those are the Emperor’s chambers, but we won’t be able
to see them today,” Sally the tourguide said sweetly. “But if you
follow me this way, you’ll get to see the Emperor’s tapioca
“Yay,” Hartley said unenthusiastically. “You go ahead,
Mirk. I’ve got to use the ladies’ room.”
“Okey doke,” Mirk said, pulling out his imager and
taking a picture of the Rubber-walled Playpen room.
“Get off me!” Tilly cried, as the med-tech attempted
to run a tissue regenerator over her bruises.
“So they’re loose on the compound?” Happymaster Dillon
said angrily, pacing back and forth in Webber’s throneroom.
“Great. Just great.”
“You should have seen what Fresca did to her,
Happymaster! She just looked at her and used kinetic powers
to throw her halfway across the roof!” Chrissie said.
“Don’t you all have powers of your own?” Webber asked
impatiently from her throne.
“Mine were increased, but evidently not enough,” Tilly
said, rubbing her forehead painfully.
“What about you?” Webber asked.
“Perfect beard-growing capabilities,” Chrissie said
“Great!” Dillon said, throwing his hands up in
exasperation. “And I suppose you acquired perfect hair-
combing capabilities, Peterman?”
Kelly-bell drew her legs up as she sat on the steps
that led up to Webber’s throne. “I didn’t get jack squat,
how’s that for fair?”
“At least your brain wasn’t scrambled like poor
Riker’s,” Webber said reasonably.
“Speaking of which, where is he?” Dillon asked.
“Jaroch’s walking him around the compound, last I heard,”
“Take two of the guards and go find them. I don’t
trust either of them to be frolicking around the palace
grounds at a time like this,” Dillon said sternly.
“Aye, sir,” Chrissie replied, pointing to two
guards and moving off.
Dillon turned to Mistress Beck. “Lisa-love, what news
do you have on the crashing saucer section?”
Lisa-love shrugged. “The Federation FunCamp near here
sighted it going down about fourteen kilometers to the east.
I dispatched our security forces. Whoever survives the
crash won’t survive for long.”
“Good,” Dillon said viciously. “Just tell the squad
leader not to kill Picard. I want him for myself.”
Lisa-love bowed. “Whatever you say, Happymaster.”
“I don’t know about any of you, but I really have to
pee,” Kelly-bell said, pushing off the stairs and heading out
toward the door.
“Don’t hurry back,” Mistress Beck grumbled.
Kelly-bell looked back at Lisa-love and sneered. “You’re
just mad because I can satisfy him and you can’t.”
“Satisfy who?” Webber asked.
“Don’t worry about it, darling,” Dillon said with a
“‘Don’t hurry back,’” Kelly-bell said angrily into the
mirror in the Executive bathroom. She frowned in the mirror
in an attempt to mimick Mistress Beck. “Hi, I’m Mistress
Beck, I’m a twisted sex-starved freak!”
Kelly-bell continued to grumble as she pushed into a
stall and began to do her business.
“Pardon me,” a voice said from the stall next to
Kelly-bell. “There’s no toilet paper in my stall. Do you
“Sorry. I don’t have a square to spare,” Kelly-bell
said defiantly, pulling genrously from the roll beside her.
“Isn’t that always the way. You know, this day has
just gone downhill since I woke up.”
Kelly-bell looked up and listened carefully to the
voice. Something about it was very familiar.
“I know what you mean,” Kelly-bell replied slowly.
“So what are you doing here at the palace?”
“Just taking the grand tour. You?”
“Oh, a little of this and a little of that.”
“Mmm hmm,” Hartley said with a flush of the toilet.
Kelly-bell likewise flushed and peeked out of her
stall. “You know…your voice sounds very familiar. Are
you sure we haven’t met before?”
Hartley turned around. “Not that I know–oh, f***!”
Kelly-bell laughed with a fierceness that echoed
throughout the ceramic walls of the bathroom. “You don’t
know how long I’ve been waiting for this you little shit. I
don’t know how you got here, but I know how you’re leaving!
In a body bag!”
The Counselor lept toward Hartley, who grabbed her by
the back of her uniform and smashed her into the mirror.
Kelly-bell kicked Hartley away, rising to her full hight
on top of the sink and leaping catlike down to the floor,
right on top of Hartley.
Mirk rapped his fingers gingerly on the bathroom door.
“Megan? Are you okay in there? We finished the tour of
the tapioca pool. You should see it.”
“I’m a litte busy right now, Mirk!” Hartley cried from
within the bathroom.
“Jeeze,” Mirk said. “You’d think she was fighting for
her life in there.”
“You are the reason everything went sour in the Delta
Quadrant!” Kelly-bell cried, slamming Hartley into the stall
and shoving her head into the toilet. “If it weren’t for
you, Riker’s head wouldn’t have turned to jelly and the
whole crew wouldn’t have rebelled! I’m going to kill you!”
Hartley lifted her head up just in time to see a full
roll of toilet paper hanging beside her. “I’ll be damned,
you had plenty of toliet paper to spare! You liar!”
“Sorry!” Kelly-bell cried, dragging Hartley up by her
hair and trying to slam her head into the rim around the
bowl. But Hartley kicked Kelly-bell in the stomach,
knocking her into the stall door.
“I hate toilet paper hoarders!” Hartley cried, grabbing
the collar of Kelly-bell’s uniform and hurling her out the
Mirk knocked on the bathroom door again. “Megan,
Suddenly the door swung open and a body slammed into
Mirk, knocking him to the ground.
Kelly-bell scrambled to her feet, just in time to
notice who she’d knocked into. “Mirk? But I saw you die!
You died, dammit!”
“Not in this universe, lady!” Mirk said, concentrating
his powers on Kelly-bell and levitating her off the ground.
Kelly-bell’s limbs flailed in all directions. “Help
me, for Happyness’ sake! Get me down from here!”
“Let me at her, Mirk!” Hartley cried, jumping and
reaching for Kelly-bell as Mirk levitated her.
“Goodness, you’re worked up,” Mirk said. “What’s the
“She hoarded her toilet paper!” Hartley said
Suddenly Dillon and the palace guards appeared, moving
quickly down the hallway toward Mirk and Hartley.
“Put her down!” Dillon cried.
“I’ll put her down, all right,” Mirk said, nodding in
Dillon’s direction, sending Kelly-bell flying into him.
“Help me!” Kelly-bell cried, as she soared through the
air into Dillon.
“Not now, honey,” Dillon said, pushing Kelly-bell aside
and marching toward Mirk. “You’re an impudent little troll,
“And that goatee looks awful,” Mirk countered. “Get
behind me, Megan.”
“Sure you can be brave when you have powers to back
you up,” Hartley scoffed, as Mirk looked Dillon up and down.
“So are you in charge here?” Mirk asked.
“I might as well be. Now will you two be nice enough
to come with–”
“‘Fraid not,” Mirk said, forming a ball of energy in
front of him and firing it at Dillon.
Dillon laughed and caught the ball in his hand.
“Cute. Can you make a quarter appear behind my ear, too?”
“I don’t get it,” Mirk said, starting to panic.
“You’re no match for me, little one,” Dillon said,
laughing fiendishly and tossing the ball of energy back at
Mirk and Hartley.
“You’re no match for him, little one,” Hartley
repeated, zombielike, as she stumbled back to her feet.
“Did I just say that?”
“Now that’s a neat trick,” Mirk said, winding up his
arm like a baseball pitcher. “Try this one on for size,
From seemingly out of nowhere, Mirk formed a huge net
in front of him, hurling it at Dillon and the guards.
Dillon stared the net down as it approached them,
causing it to crumble to pieces before reaching him..
“Got any other tricks?” Dillon asked with amusement.
“Just one,” Mirk replied. “Grab onto me, Megan!”
“I swear you enjoy this, Mirk,” Hartley cried, grabbing
Mirk around his waist as he exploded towards the roof in a
puff of billowy smoke.
“Can you fly too, sir?” a guard asked, as Dillon
watched Mirk fly right through the roof and out into the sky
“Sure I can,” Dillon said in annoyance. “I just
choose not to. Now I want those two found immediately. Get
the air patrol after them if you have to!”
Picard held fast to Mr. Data as the saucer section
sailed over the outskirts of San Francisco.
“I left my heart in San Franciscoooooo!” Picard
howled, cackling madly as the hull rumbled underneath him.
“Touchdown in approximately forty-five seconds,” Data
reported. “I am attempting to use thrusters to level our
“Just in case we don’t make it, I have to tell you
something, my robotic friend.”
“I love you, Data.”
“And I you, sir.”
Picard squeezed his eyes shut when he saw the bottom
of the saucer section scrape along the treetops below it.
It wouldn’t be long now.
“Touchdown in ten seconds,” Data reported calmly.
“Put this baby down, old friend!” Picard cried, as
Data tapped the final landing instructions into his panel.
With a furious rattle, the Enterprise saucer pounded
into the ground, levelling an entire forest in the process.
Picard flew forward toward the viewscreen, and would
have slammed into it, had Data not grabbed him by the back
of his frilly pirate shirt.
Everything on the bridge flew forward as the inertial
dampers tried desparately to compensate for the tremendous
decrease in speed.
Picard cried out in fear and ecstasy as the ship
thudded to a stop, kilometers outside downtown San
Outside the shattered skylight above Picard, the sun
was just starting to go down. He stared up at a flock of
gulls that soared over him, dropping a generous amount of
feces right through the skylight and onto his command chair.
Picard had to face facts. This was the end of an era.
“Come on, Data,” Picard said, rising to his feet and
dusting himself off. “We have a lot of work to do. Start
rounding up the troops.”
Briefly wondering if it was thunder that he heard in
the distance, Jaroch waited impatiently for Riker to do his
business. “Come on, Riker, do your business already.”
Riker climbed the monstrous statue of Emperor Webber
that stood in front of the palace and began getting very
familiar with it. “Boobies!” Riker replied happily.
“Whatever. Just urinate already.”
Chrissie Richards and two of the Palace guards
approached from behind Jaroch. “Come on, Mr. Jaroch. The
Happymaster wants you inside.”
“I don’t answer to the Happymaster,” Jaroch barked over
The Engineer raised his phaser and poked it into Jaroch’s
back. “You’ll answer to this, won’t you?”
Suddenly there was a loud crash as two figures
exploded out of the roof of the palace, hurtling into the
umber sky and looping around to hurtle back toward Earth
somewhere behind the palace.
“What the hell was that?” Chrissie asked.
“It appeared to be two people flying out of the
palace,” Jaroch said plaintively.
“We’d better get back into the palace now,” Chrisy-
watty said urgently. “Come on, both of you!”
“Urg!” Riker cried, climbing back down from the
“Be careful,” Captain Kramer, the leader of the SFFP
(San Francisco Fun Patrol) said, as he climbed out of one of
the several Funfleet interceptors that had descended on the
Earth-bound saucer section. “Captain Picard is reported
armed AND unhappy. Let’s proceed with all due perkiness.”
“Okey doke, sir,” one of his lieutenants agreed,
instructing the squad to bring their phaser rifles to bear
as Kramer led them towards the bridge module atop the
“We’re going in. Instruct squads four and five to
secure the perimeter,” Kramer ordered, approaching the small
dome of glass above the bridge. He peered in, covering the
area with the beacon that was mounted on his rifle. “All
clear,” he whispered, waving the group in behind him.
Kramer slid down through the broken dome, touching his
feet down on the soft padding of the center command chair.
Suddenly the Captain of the Fun Patrol slid backward,
Two of the other patrol members slid in after him,
touching down to either side of the command chair, rifles
ready. They bathed the bridge in phaser fire, until Kramer
finally raised a hand, scrambling to his feet and barking
for them to stop.
“It’s groovy,” Kramer said cheerily. “I just slipped
in some bird dookie.”
“Thank goodness,” one lieutenant said.
“We were worried about you,” the other agreed, waving
the other members of the patrol inside the bridge.
“They may be belowdecks,” Kramer said, rubbing his
chin. “Scoobie, I want you to get the internal sensors
operative. I don’t want any spooky surprises. Doodle, I
want you to check the computer logs. See if you can figure
out what went down around here.”
“Yes, sir,” Scoobie and Doodle said in unison, going
about their tasks with zeal.
Kramer looked around the darkened bridge, taking in
his surroundings with a smile. No worries here. His people
were well trained. They would simply find the traitors and
apprhend them–killing some, sending the others to the
Federation FunCamp. And Picard, of course, would go
directly to the Happymaster. This assignment was bound to
get Kramer promoted, and he felt giddy at the thought of it.
Goodbye San Francisco Fun Patrol, hello, Imperial Guard.
A squeak of alarm from Doodle shook Kramer out of his
“Captain!” Doodle called out. “Look at this!”
Captain Kramer peered over Doodle’s shoulder at the
text that scrolled across the readout screen on the main
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN BLOWN BEFORE
“Well, what the holy heck is that supposed to mean?”
Doodle asked, scratching his head.
By the time Kramer put the pieces together, it was too
late. All he could do was curse himself for his ignorance.
With a blast that rocked the steadily darkening
California countryside, the Enterprise saucer exploded
violently, vaporizing everything for blocks.
From the safe distance of a nearby hilltop, Picard,
Data, Reggie Barclay, Bevvy Crusher, and Gorgeous LaForge
watched the saucer tear itself apart. The rest of the
surviving Enterprise crew had gathered at the foot of a
hilltop, trying to hitch a ride aboard a passing shuttle.
“Whoo hoo!” Gorgeous whistled. “That’s a hell of a
The Captain ignored Gorgeous, weeping openly. “I
shall miss that ship.”
After taking a moment to compose himself, he whirled
around, affixing the pirate hat firmly to his head. “Never
forget her, friends. Those times will never come around
again. Now, let’s set about what we have to do. By
morning, I swear to you all that the Federation of Fun will
Later on that evening, Emperor Webber and Happymaster
Dillon had returned to their quarters to rest up, after the
guards had reported that there was no sign of Mirk, Hartley,
or the Enterprise crew.
“Are you asleep, Travvy ?” Webber asked quietly.
“Not anymore,” Dillon sighed.
“I’m scared, Travvy . The last report I heard said that
the Explorer destroyed one of our ships, and Picard’s saucer
section destroyed the other before it crashed. What if the
rebels succeed in taking us over?”
“Not likely, Emperor. We’ve got everything under
Webber snuggled closer to Dillon and closed her eyes.
“You’re right, Snagglepuss. Thanks for making me feel
“Not a problem.”
“They’re falling asleep…” Fresca whispered down the
length of the air shaft, as Singer began hitching up her
“Perfect,” Singer whispered back. “Do you remember
what I told you?”
“Sure…just lower you down and let you do the rest.”
“But make sure you keep hold of me. The sensors in
Webber’s room can detect even the slightest movement on the
floor. If I’m going to take them both out, I need to place
the detonator directly between them.”
“Gotcha. I’m ready any time,” Fresca said excitedly.
“Okay, let’s do it,” Singer said, taking a deep
breath and checking her cables once more as Fresca removed
the ventilation cover over Webber and Dillon’s bed.
Singer climbed out and held her ropes tight as
Fresca lowered her, careful not to brush against Dillon or
Webber as she was lowered within inches of the bed.
Singer was about to place the detonator when Dillon
shifted in his sleep, rolling over noisily and slinging his
arm over Webber’s face.
Seeing that Singer was in trouble, Fresca jerked up
on the rope, which caused Singer to swing around like a
The Major looked up at Fresca angrily and gave the
signal to be lowered again as Dillon and Webber shifted again
Singer got ready to set the detonator, and had it
almost placed on the headboard when the door to Webber’s
quarters burst open.
“Emperor, the Palace is under siege!” Manservant Jaroch
reported. He stopped dead when he saw Singer, who simply
“Hi. I’m the window washer, and I got really mixed
up,” Singer explained.
“Singer!” Dillon cried, shooting up in bed. “How
lovely to see you again!”
“Likewise I’m sure!” Singer said, shoving the
detonator underneath the covers and jerking her line. “Up,
Singer bounded up through the air, but not before
Dillon hurled the detonator up into the air duct.
“Damn!” Fresca cried from inside the duct. “I’ll get
“No! Get me up fir–” Schwarts yelled. Before she
knew it she was flying back toward the bed, right on top of
“Goodness, Becky, you’re looking well,” Webber said,
sliding out from underneath Singer.
Suddenly the detonator flew back down into the
bedroom, and Singer was jerked once again back up into the
“Ta ta!” Singer cried.
“Run!” Jaroch ordered, dragging Webber out of the room,
with Dillon hot on his heels.
Jaroch, Dillon, and Webber lept for safety, just as Webber’s
bedroom exploded in a cloud of flying debris.
“Find them!” Webber cried out. “That was my favorite
bedroom set! They won’t get out of here alive!”
“If I may, your Happyness,” Jaroch said, bowing, “we have
other problems to attend to.”
“Which are?” Dillon prodded.
“What appears to be the bulk of the Enterprise crew,
families and all, are charging the palace!”
“Sugar,” Webber muttered.
Singer and Fresca bounded out onto the roof of the
Palace, madly slapping their comm badges.
“Explorer! Come in!” Singer called out.
Fresca shook her head. “They may not have made it,
Before Singer could reply, her comm badge crackled
to life. “This…errrrt…is…Explorer,” Lt. Commander
Richards’s voice replied. “We still can’t shake that last
ship. Can’t talk long. We’re trying…zzzt…to play hide
and go seek around Earth’s sun. What do you need?”
“We need to be beamed out!” Fresca cried. “The coup
didn’t work out the way we planned.”
“It appears that Picard’s crew is taking over the
palace instead!” Singer added.
“What a turn,” Richards mumbled. “We’ll come around
to get you as soon as we can. Meanwhile, try to find Lt.
Hartley and Mr. Mirk. I’m transmitting the coordinates from
Hartley’s comm badge now.”
“Can’t you just call her yourself?” Singer asked,
“We’ve been trying. There’s no answer, and we can’t
get close enough for a beamout.”
Singer sighed. “Very well. Just hurry up. I have
a feeling Earth isn’t going to be a safe place to hang out
Guards surrounded Webber, Jaroch, and Happymaster Dillon,
pushing them quickly through the cramped corridor toward
Webber’s Emergency Eventuality Shelter. It was actually a
bomb shelter, but Webber had felt that “bomb” was just too
harsh a word.
“Okay, what happened?” Dillon barked, bulling through
the opening door to the shelter. Webber, Jaroch, and the guards
squeezed through after him, while one of the guards slammed
a control, causing the shelter’s heavy door to grind shut.
Mistress Beck turned from her place at the shelter’s
operations array, grimacing. Kelly-bell, Tilly, Bri-Bri Gellar,
Riker, and Chrissie were with her. “Apparently, the
Enterprise crew hijacked a caravan of senior citizen tour
shuttles and used them to sneak past the Palace perimeter.”
“What about the seniors?” Webber asked worriedly.
Lisa-love shrugged. “Left to their own devices somewhere
on the outskirts of town, I guess.”
Webber clenched her fist angrily. “Those cold hearted
bastards. Those old people may freeze to death out there!”
Trying to ignore the sounds of explosions and shouting
from the palace above, Dillon turned to Webber. “We can’t
worry about the old people now, darling. We should be more
concerned about ourselves.”
“Not to worry,” Tilly said from behind Lisa-love. “This
shelter can stand a barrage of half a dozen tri-cobalt
devices. Nothing’s getting through.”
“So what do we do?” Webber asked, panicking. “Rule the
empire from down here for the rest of our lives?”
“Not at all,” Lisa-love said, a mischievous twinkle in her
eyes. “We can destroy the palace from down here.”
“Do it, then!” Dillon ordered. “Before it’s too
As if to confirm the Happymaster’s fears, a heavy thud
shook the door at the front of the shelter.
“What was that?” Webber asked fearfully.
“Trouble,” Jaroch said, suppressing a grin.
“Frere Dillon!” a muffled voice called out. “We’ve
come for you! Turn the Federation of Fun over to us right
“Do your worst, your french tart!” Dillon spat.
“You’re not getting in here!”
“That’s what you think,” Lisa-love said sweetly. Before
Dillon could stop her, the Mistress stabbed a control on the
operations panel, causing the heavy door to slide open,
admitting Picard and a slew of his troops.
“Of all the impudence!” Dillon cried, turning on Lisa-love
with anger burning in his eyes. “You’ll die for this!”
“You’re the one who’s going to die,” Jean-jean Picard
said, reaching out for Dillon’s throat.
“You’re not going to kill me,” Dillon sneered,
focusing the awesome power of his Happy mind trick on
Picard laughed with the abandon of a twelve year old
girl on a Ferris wheel. “You can’t stop me, Dillon.”
When the Frenchman’s hands slid away, Dillon realized
that Picard hadn’t wrapped his hands around Dillon’s throat
to strangle him, but to attach a psi-suppression collar to
“God damn you, Picard!” Dillon cried, stomping his
feet with unrestrained fury.
“Settle down,” Jean-jean replied, bitch slapping Dillon
across the face. “There. Now we’re even.” He turned to
Mistress Beck. “Mistress. Why did you help me?”
“Because that twit has controlled me for long enough.
I am tired of being his lapdog, and I’m tired of watching
Webber run this Empire into the ground with her twisted,
ludicrous little ways.”
“Amen to that,” Picard said, patting Lisa-love on the
shoulder. “I have all new twisted, ludicrous ways to bring
into the fold.”
“I’m sure you do.”
Nearby, Tilly whispered to Kelly-bell through clenched
teeth. “What do we do now? Do you have the faintest idea
whose side we’re on?”
“Well,” Kelly-bell sighed, “I hate Mistress Beck, but
the vast majority seems to be leaning in her favor. We must
turn the way the wind is blowing, Tilly.”
“I don’t like it,” Chrissie muttered.
“That isn’t my concern,” Kelly-bell snapped back,
turning to Lisa-love. “Mistress, my crew and I are at your
Lisa-love looked Kelly-bell up and down with skepticism.
“I don’t trust you, Kelly-bell. And I don’t like you. But I
need a good Counselor Supreme, if I am to be Happymaster.”
She turned to Picard. “Does that suit, Emperor Picard?”
Picard laughed with girlish glee. “It’s absolutely
splendid. Now let’s get out of this dingy place and begin
redecorating the Palace. I’m seeing lots of puse and lime!”
“Tie them up and set all the photon charges in the
room,” Mistress Beck ordered, glaring back at Tilly and
“Do as she says,” Kelly-bell sighed, following Lisa-love
and Picard out of the shelter, with Lt. Bri-Bri at her side.
She’d just have to bide her time with Mistress Beck until
something better came along. One thing was for sure, she
wouldn’t be able to use her feminine wiles on Lisa-love as she
had done with Dillon.
After Tilly had tied Webber and Dillon back-to-back to
the operations console with electronic force bonds and
Chrissie had set the photon charges, both officers took
off quickly for the entrance to the shelter.
“It was wonderful serving with you both,” Chrissie
snapped, sliding the massive isolation door shut with a
A tear dribbled down Webber’s face. “Oh, Travvy , this
is just awful. What will happen to us now?”
“I suppose we’ll die,” Dillon said curtly.
“I’m so afraid of death, Travvy . Say something to
comfort me. Please!”
“Webber, I’ve listened to your pedantic whining for
four years now and I’m about sick of it. Could you at least
grant me five minutes of silence before I die?”
“So this is all about you,” Webber huffed. “Don’t I
get any say in this?”
“For the love of Happyness,” Dillon muttered.
As the timer on the photon charges counted down, Webber
looked at the floor thoughtfully. “I think we made the
right choices, Travvy . Don’t you? I mean, this whole
Federation of Fun thing–it wasn’t too rash, was it?”
“It was a fine idea,” Dillon said patronizingly.
“There were just a few kinks in the implementation.”
Webber sniffed quietly and thought about that. “Well,
if we ever get a second chance I’m going to make sure we do
it right the next time.”
“Don’t hold your breath,” Dillon said. “Now please,
let’s just die in peace.
“Okay Travvy-wavvy . We’ll die in peace. You and I,
the eternal bringers of joy. The leaders of the Federation
of Fun, going out in a tremendous blaze of–”
“SHUT UP!” Dillon cried, as the counter reached one.
“Jeeze, what’s got you so–”
And the roof of the shelter thundered down on top of
Dillon and Webber as the room was consumed in flame.
“What was that?” Lt. Hartley asked, peering out the
window of the tiny windmill. She and Mirk had sought refuge
on the grounds of the Imperial Mini-golf course about the
time that Picard’s troops began to storm the palace. Their
plan was to lay low there until the dust settled, then try
to find Baxter and the others.
“Beats me,” Mirk replied, looking up at Hartley. “My
guess is that one of the groups over there has won control.
But we’d better wait a little while longer just to make
“Yoo-hoo,” a female voice said, ducking in the
entrance to the tunnel.
With a gust of psychic power, Mirk blasted the woman
away from the entrance before he could even get a look at
The woman got up and dusted off her rear end. “Ouch.
Not a very nice way to greet your rescuers.”
“Prescott?” both Mirk and Hartley asked at the same time;
Mirk looking out from the entrance to the windmill and
Hartley peering out from the tiny window at the top.
“Not the one you two know,” Fresca replied
breathlessly. “Lt. Commander Richards wanted us to try
and find you guys before beaming back. Said he had tracked
down one of your comm badges and has been calling for like
an hour now.”
“I didn’t bring a comm badge,” Mirk said, looking to
“Whoops,” Hartley said, reaching into her purse and
pulling out her badge. “I had it set to vibrate and I guess
I didn’t notice because it was in my purse. Sorry.”
“Well, now that we’ve found you guys, we have to get
you out of here,” the woman next to Fresca said. “Captain
Picard has control of the Emperor’s palace and half his crew
are guarding it. We have to cut our losses and get you all
back to your own universe now.”
“You won’t get any arguements from us,” Hartley said,
as her and Mirk slid out of the windmill.
“Singer to Explorer,” Singer said, slapping her
comm badge. “Do you guys read me?”
“We’re here,” Richards returned. “We’re going to
swing by and pick you guys up so we can get the hell out of
here. I just got word from the resistance. They’re
fighting a pitched battle with the Federation of Fun near
the Bermuda Expanse and they need all the help they can get.”
:) CHAPTER NINE
In front of the Imperial Palace, Emperor Picard ran to
join his Binky-boo, with Jaroch, Lisa-love, Kelly-bell, Tilly, and
Chrissie not far behind him.
“Riker, baby!” Picard cried out, running to leap into
Riker’s arms. “It’s so good to have you back.”
“Oooogggg,” Riker said, cradling Picard lovingly.
“I knew you wouldn’t really betray me,” Picard said
“How touching,” Jaroch said, glaring at Riker. “I thought
I had purged all that from your system.”
“You’re the only one who is going to be purged,”
Picard said sternly to Jaroch. “You shouldn’t have betrayed me
back on the Enterprise. I was going to put you in my new
“Now he’ll be in my cabinet,” Lisa-love said. “You’re
looking at the new Emperor.”
“Afraid not,” Picard said. “I am the new Emperor.”
Jaroch withdrew a phaser and aimed it squarely at Picard.
“You are in no position to dictate anything, Picard!”
“I thought we had put aside these petty differences,”
Picard said worriedly.
“Wrong,” Mistress Beck said, shrugging. “We used you
just long enough to get what we wanted out of you. Now, we
will command your crew to follow us and dispose of you and
this…” she sneered at Riker. “Thing.”
“Oh, I see how it is, then,” Picard pouted. “I
destroy the Emperor, offer you all positions at my side
without hesitation, and this is how I’m repaid. That’s not
very nice at all!”
“You’ve lost, Picard. Now it’s time for you to go
back where you came from,” Lisa-love spat.
“Back home to France?” Picard said, his face filling
with wonderment. “I’ve always dreamt of returning to my
vinyards.” Picard turned toward the twinkling stars of the
night sky and seemed struck by the beauty of all of it.
“I’ve seen blue skies, through the teaaarrrrs, in my
eyyyyes, and I realize…I’m going hoooooommmmme…”
“Dreadfully sorry if you misunderstood me, Picard,”
Lisa-love said, as Jaroch aimed his phaser at Picard’s back.
“But when I said that it was time for you to go back where
you came from, I referred to nothingness. A great man once
said, ‘We come from nothing, we go back to nothing. So what
have we lost? Nothing!’”
“Oh, dear,” Picard said. “There was so much I wanted
to do…so much I wanted to see…you can’t just…I won’t
let you!” Picard took off toward the huge statue of Emperor
Webber and began climbing up it.
“Pity. I was hoping this was going to be easy. As it
is, he had to break into a musical number,” Jaroch sighed,
pressing the firing stud on his phaser and blasting Picard
right in the back. The Frenchman let out a girlish shriek
and clambered to the ground, the toes of his stylish black
leather boots curling.
“Errrrrgh!” Riker cried out, running to Picard’s aid.
“Now, Riker, don’t be that way!” Jaroch called after
“Do him too, Jaroch,” Lisa-love said.
“All that work wasted,” Jaroch muttered. “I was hoping we
could fix him.”
Jaroch and the others watched as Riker slung Picard over
his shoulder and grunted in anguish, lugging him up the
statue of Webber once again.
Manservant Jaroch fired his phaser at Riker several times,
but it seemed to have no effect.
“Raise the setting!” Lisa-love cried, as Riker climbed up
to the top of Webber’s crown, with Picard in tow.
After tapping the setting up several notches, Jaroch fired
again just as Riker reached the top, beating his chest with
“Orrrrrrg!” Riker cried out, as the blast sent him and
Picard toppling back to the ground.
The group watched the two bodies thud against the soft
“I hope you’re happy, Mistress,” Jaroch muttered.
“Happy?” Lisa-love cackled. “I’m ecstatic.”
:) CHAPTER TEN
<So, anyway, we basically resent the Directors from
this universe for ripping apart their portal. It’s thrown
everything out of wack and really put us out. I mean, we
had to put off the annual squash tournament!>
Counselor Peterman let out a long sigh. The eyeball
had been talking to her for hours. The funnny thing was,
she wasn’t physically tired or hungry. That was a nifty
side-effect of hanging out with the Directors, but it was
<Are you listening?> the eyeball asked in annoyance.
“Sure, sure. Squash tournament. Right. So you
resent the Directors of this universe?” Peterman asked.
<That’s what I just said. If you’re going to help us
out, you’ll have to do better than that, young lady.>
“What do you want me to tell you? That you’re some
kind of heroes for interceding on their behalf and trying to
put this portal together?”
“Well, listen, that’s not how it works. Sometimes you
have to make sacrifices, and you can’t keep complaining
about them because then they wouldn’t really be sacrifices,
<My, my, who’s the little firebug today?>
“You guys really have an attitude problem,” Peterman
said, letting out a long breath of annoyance.
<Exactly. That’s why we need your help. Make us
“I think you’re asking for a little more than I can
<Very well. Then we’ll talk some more. Maybe if I
told you about our creation…it’s really a very interesting
story involving a rather fiesty demigod from the Ursulan
Peterman released a cry of agony as the Director
rattled on, praying for release from her confinement in the
cursed purgatory of the eyeball’s home. And the eyeball
just kept on talking.
Mirk and Hartley bent over the Happyness reversal ray,
quibbling over exactly how the jury-rigged device should be
Richards looked on, tapping his feet impatiently as
sparks flew from the machine. “How much longer?”
“Just a minute or two,” Mirk snapped. “Why? What’s
“I’m tired of being in command,” Richards said,
glaring back at Baxter and Beck as they swung Dr. Browning
between them like a rag doll.
“And I’m sick of these two!” Browning muttered. “Stop
it, guys, this is making me dizzy!”
“Dizzy, dizzy, dizzy!” Beck said joyfully.
“There,” Hartley said, welding the final connection.
“This is as close as we can come to the device the alternate
Peterman used. Thanks to Mirk’s contribution of DNA, it
should put the Captain and Commander Beck back in order.”
“Should?” Richards asked.
Hartley shrugged. “Only one way to find out.”
“Do it then!” Richards snapped impatiently.
After Browning positioned Beck and Baxter in front of the
device, Mirk unceremoniously jabbed a control.
Beck and Baxter were bathed in blue light.
“This is fun,” Baxter mumbled happily to himself.
“Wheeeee!” Beck said with glee.
“If this doesn’t work we’re going to have to kill
them,” Browning grumbled.
“For their good as much as ours,” Richards agreed.
“That should do ‘er,” Hartley said, deactivating the
“Uh-huh,” Richards said, looking Baxter over
cautiously. He waved a hand in front of Baxter’s face.
“Andy…can you hear me? Are you okay?”
“Of course I can hear you,” Baxter said, slapping
Richards’s hand away. “What the hell is going on,
“He’s back to normal, all right,” Browning said. “How
are you, Commander Beck?”
Beck rubbed her head. “Confused. Wondering what the
hell has happened in the past few hours.”
“Hey, do you guys feel any powers coming on?”
Richards asked. “Levitation? Telepathy? Mind-tricks?”
Baxter blinked his eyes several times. “Powers?
Hmm…let me see…nope. How about you, Beck?”
“Unless you count my powerful headache, nothing.”
“There’s a good reason for that,” Mirk explained.
“Instead of giving them a whole strand of my DNA, I had Dr.
Browning extract specific codes. Sorry, guys.”
“How selfish of you,” Baxter mumbled sarcastically.
“Never mind the powers,” Richards said. “I think
we’d better get to the bridge.”
“I agree,” Baxter replied. “I have a feeling I missed
a lot of action while I was off in Happyland. I’d like you
to explain it all to me on the way up to the bridge.”
Richards followed Baxter out of Sickbay. “That’s a
tall order, Captain. Believe you me.”
USS RUTH BUZZY
“Mistress Beck, how good to see you,” Captain T’poo
said, standing from his seat at the center of the Buzzy’s
bridge as Lisa-love, Kelly-bell, Chrissie, Tilly, and Bri-Bri
emerged on the bridge. “We didn’t know what to do when we
heard about all the rukus down on Earth.”
“I’ll tell you what we’re going to do,” Lisa-love said,
approaching the Vulcan and folding her arms. “We’re going
to make way for Playstation at maximum speed. I understand
that the rebels are making their stand there?”
“That is correct,” T’poo nodded. “But are you sure
you can trust Picard’s people to keep things together down
“They recognize my new position as Emporer,” Beck
said. “And so will you.”
“But…Webber, Dillon?” T’poo said calmly.
“Both dead,” Emporer Beck said, trying to muster some
semblance of a tear. “They fought valiantly for the
Federation of Fun and we’ll remember them well, T’poo. But
for now, we’re needed elsewhere. Set a course for the
Bermuda Expanse and engage at maximum warp.”
T’poo nodded, repeating the orders to his helmsman.
“And as for you,” Lisa-love said, running a hand along
Kelly-bell’s face. “If I have even the least suspicion that
you’re going to stab me in the back…I’ll have Mr. Jaroch here
gut you like a Saurian Salamander.”
“I wouldn’t dream of betraying you, Emperor Beck,”
“Emperor Beck,” Lisa-love said warmly. “I think I’m going
to like the sound of that.”
“So, a combined fleet of Cardassian and Multek ships
was able to save the Aerostar from the Klingons. Since
then, Funfleet has sent every available ship to that sector.
It seems as though things are coming to a head pretty fast
in this universe, sir,” Lt. Commander Richards said, as
the Explorer streaked toward the Bermuda Expanse at high
Captain Baxter stumbled into the command chair
wearily. “Glad to hear Conway and my curly-haired
counterpart made it. What about the civilians that came
along with you? Lana and Bradley?”
“They’re safe belowdecks right now, Captain,”
Baxter rubbed his chin and watched the stars streak by
on the viewscreen. “Given the circumstances, I’d have to
say that safe is a pretty darn relative term.”
“Captain, may I speak freely?” Mirk asked from beside
“Go right ahead, Mirk.”
“I hate this f***ing universe. I hate it with a
fiery, hellish passion.” He turned to Singer and Fresca,
who were manning ops and the helm, respectively. “Present
“No offense taken,” Singer said. “We’re not too
wild about the universe the way it is right now either.”
Baxter nodded at Singer and Fresca and turned back
to Mirk. “I share your sentiments, Mr. Mirk. That’s why
we’re heading back to the Bermuda Expanse as fast as we can, so
we can stop the Happys and get the hell home.”
“What if the Happys find some way to get through to
our universe?” Mirk asked worriedly.
“I’m about ready to open a can of whupass all over
those f***ing Happys, Mr. Mirk. No way they’re getting near
“Do you think we stand a chance against the Funfleet,
Captain?” Richards asked.
“I don’t know. But we’re sure as hell going to find
“Mr. Dillon?” Lana asked, peering into the Deck
Fifteen lounge and looking around. “Computer, lights.”
The lights came up to reveal Bradley Dillon passed out on
one of the tables in the center of the room with a bottle of
whiskey in one hand and his pack of cards in the other.
“Whoops, sorry to disturb you,” Lana said, turning
back for the door.
“No–no, don’t leave,” Bradley said, stirring. “I found
a bottle of Aldebran whiskey in the stockroom and thought
I’d have a little nip. Why don’t you pull up a glass?”
“I don’t think so. I’m not much of a drinker.”
“Hee hee. Neither am I.”
Lana pulled up a chair and sat down, examining Bradley’s
bloodshot eyes. “Tonight appears to be an exception to the
“I really don’t have anything else to do anyway. All
those Starfleet people seem to be taking care of things
“They’re good people, if a little eccentric.”
“And here I thought they were spoiled by technology.
Turns out they need every bit of it.”
“Having second thoughts about the pioneer business,
Mr. Dillon?” Lana asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Of course not. I just never realized how hard
Starfleet officers have it. I’d hate to do stuff like this
on a daily basis.”
“Life on a starship isn’t like this on a daily basis,
thankfully,” Lana said. “Just every now and then.”
“Well, I’ll take my space station any day over this
overwired hunk of junk.”
“What about your interest in ‘exploring the far
Bradley poured another shot and downed it. “I’m going
to leave that to you guys from now on…well, and the people
that visit my shop.”
Lana stood up and turned to leave. “That’s too bad.
And I was going to ask you to explore the caverns of Breen
Six with me next month.”
Bradley tried to get up and follow after Lana, but he
just collapsed to the floor instead, slipping back into his
“My hero,” Lana said with a grin.
Captain Baxter looked over his shoulder at the door to
his cramped readyroom. “Come on in.”
Commander Beck stepped in and looked around the tiny
office. “What on Earth happened in here?”
“That’s anyone’s guess,” Baxter sighed, placing his
wet-dry vac back on its holster next to the desk and sitting
down. “By the looks of it, Happymaster Dillon got a little
too happy in here. With about a gallon of silly string and
one of his fellow officers.”
Beck picked up a piece of silly string reproachfully.
“Sorry to hear about that, Captain.”
“I’ll have to have the whole place sonically wiped
clean when we get back to our universe. For now, at least I
can sit down at my desk without feeling…icky.”
“The sooner we get back, the better,” Beck said,
collapsing onto the couch.
“Was there something you wanted to ask me, Commander?”
Beck leaned forward, trying not to slide on the
leather of the sofa. There was some kind of petroleum
jelly-type substance there that Baxter’s wet-dry vac hadn’t
quite picked up. “I was just thinking about this universe,
and how lucky we have it back in our own universe. Think
how difficult our jobs would be if we had to deal with a
fascist monarchy bent on mind control to deal with on top of
“And someone waiting to stab you in the back and take
your position at every turn…” Baxter said, nodding
agreement. “This is a scary place. I’d almost want to have
my head scrambled if I had to live here.”
“Do you remember anything about the experience? About
Baxter allowed himself a little shiver. “Very little.
But enough to give me nightmares for the rest of my life.”
“All I know is that I never want to smile again.”
“That makes two of us.”
“Bradley Dillon to Commander Beck,” a slightly drunken
voice said over the comm. “Commander, can I talk to you?”
“Speaking of never smiling again,” Beck said, standing
up. “Excuse me.”
“Go right ahead,” Baxter said, grabbing his wet-dry
vac and setting upon the greasy end of the couch Beck had
Emperor Lisa-love Beck flipped a finger through her
hair as she examined the viewscreen.
“The Klingons are all moving toward Playstation to
help us,” Captain T’poo said, gesturing at the tactical
layout. “As are all of our loyal starships. It will be a
difficult, but fun, fight.”
“All of this discussion of tactics and strategy is
awful boring,” Lisa-love said, looking over to Jaroch.
“Do I really have to sit through it?”
“Only if you wish to, Emperor,” Jaroch said. “We are
taking care of all the details for you.”
“Good. I feel like a long massage.” Lisa-love stood up
and clapped her hands. “Mr. Jaroch…”
“As you wish,” Jaroch said, bowing and following Lisa-love
out of the room.
Kelly-bell watched Lisa-love and Jaroch leave, shaking her
head. “She’ll never make it as Emperor if all she’s
interested in is massages.”
“Do not say that too loud, Counselor,” Captain T’poo
said, taking a seat in the command chair. “Execution for
disloyalty comes about quite easily these days.”
“Chrissie, join me in the conference room, please,”
Kelly-bell said, glaring at T’poo.
“All right,” Chrissie said, once Kelly-bell was sure
that the conference room was safe. “What are you really
planning on doing in Beta Quadrant?”
“Whatever do you mean?” Kelly-bell said whimsically.
“Just doing my best to save this little old empire.”
“You have something bigger in mind. Don’t try to hide
it,” Chrissie put his arms around Kelly-bell’s waist. “I
know you better than that.”
“All right, darling,” Kelly-bell said, smiling
devilishly. “I do have something bigger planned. I want to
go into the Bermuda Expanse.”
“The Bermuda Expanse…whatever for?”
“Because, there’s a power in there greater than you
can imagine. A power that makes ruling this crumbling
empire look small by comparison.”
“And how do I fit into this?”
“You’ll have to help me convince Emperor Beck that all
my actions are purely for the good of the Empire. Can you
“Are you kidding?” Chrissie said. “All I want is
your assurance that I’ll be getting something out of this.”
“Don’t be silly,” Kelly-bell said, leaning forward and
closing her eyes. “You have me, remember?”
“I’d like the power too, if it’s all the same to you,”
Chrissie said, pulling away.
“Ask and you shall receive,” Kelly-bell said sweetly.
“Now, will you help me or not?”
“Of course,” Chrissie said. “But if you try to
leave me behind, I’ll rat you out faster than look at you.”
Not like it will matter much, Kelly-bell thought to
herself. Once she was joined with the Directors, Chrissie
and the whole Federation of Fun would be a distant
Commander Beck found Bradley Dillon stretched out on a
couch in Deck Fifteen’s Visitor’s Lounge.
“Mr. Dillon, have you been drinking?” Beck asked with
Bradley slid off the couch and collided loudly on the
floor. “As a matter of fact, yes I have. But I’m much
“What can I do for you?” Beck asked, helping Bradley push
himself back onto the couch.
“I need to go to Waystation.”
“We’ll get you back as soon as we can.”
Bradley shook his head. “That’s not what I mean. I want
to go to the Waystation here.”
Beck sat down on the couch next to Bradley. “You mean
“If that’s what they call it. I hear my counterpart is a complete
“That’s not far from the truth. Evidently ‘Happymaster’ Dillon
tied his mind up in a knot.”
“Well, I was lying here in a drunken stupor thinking
about him, and how he hasn’t had the breaks that I have, and
I figured I had to do something to help him.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“I figured we could stop by Playstation on the way out
of here and rescue him…maybe get him some help somewhere.”
“Bradley…you’re talking about risking your neck to
meddle in this universe’s affairs. The Prime Directive…”
“Commander…if our places were reversed, I know you’d
never be able to live with yourself if you’d passed up the
chance to help your counterpart.”
“You’ve got a point there. Listen, I’ll see what I
“Thank you, Commander.”
Before Beck reached the door, she stopped a moment.
“Mr. Dillon …forgive me if I’m wrong…but did you just
offer to risk your life for someone else?”
“Strictly speaking, I’m just looking out for myself.
Just an alternate myself.”
“Right. Then it makes sense. The world hasn’t really
turned upside down yet.”
“Give it time, Commander,” Bradley said, smiling.
“This sucks,” Captain Baxter said, as he bellied up to
the mini-bar and looked around the minuscule cabin with
“Well, Captain, the stardrive section was never
designed for comfort. That’s what we have the saucer
section for,” Richards said, stuffing another fork-full of
bannana split into Dr. Browning’s mouth.
“I sure miss Mirk’s cafe,” Baxter said with a frown.
“How do you think I feel,” Mirk said, rising up from
behind the mini-bar. “I’ve got nothing to work with here.
What do you want, anyway?”
“Just give me a large grapefruit juice and hold the
kibbitzing, Mirk,” Baxter said.
“Aye-aye,” Mirk said, ducking back under the bar.
“So…” Baxter said, watching Richards feed Browning
with interest. “I trust you guys didn’t have too much
trouble while you were held hostage by the Happys.”
“Nah,” Richards said. “They were pretty decent
folks as fascists go.”
“Here you go,” Mirk said, rising back up to hand
Baxter his glass of grapefruit juice.
“They could at least have put some pictures in here.
Or even some nice, decorative drapes. Maybe someone should
talk to Yeoman Briggs when we get back,” Browning said as
Baxter sipped at his drink.
“If we get back,” Richards muttered.
“Captain,” Commander Beck said, walking into the tiny
lounge. “There you are. I wanted to run something by you.”
“Don’t run it by too fast, I may not see it,” Baxter
said with a giggle. When he noticed no one was laughing, he
straightened. “What’s on your mind, Commander?”
Beck pulled up a chair, realizing Mirk was staring at
her. “Are you going to have a drink, Commander, or
are you just going to take up precious space?” Mirk asked,
hands on hips.
“V’haspant, extra cream,” Beck said.
“Andorian coffee? Wow, I thought only Andorians drank
that stuff,” Browning said incredulously.
Beck narrowed her eyes at Browning. “It’s an acquired
“But what about the horrible stomach pains that go
along with the high acid content…and the high level of
nitrates and poly–”
“You get used to it,” Beck said curtly, as Mirk handed
her the drink. “How do you know so much about it, anyway?”
Browning smiled proudly. “I’m a xenonutrition
specialist. I specialize in the dietary habits of nonhuman
“I knew I shouldn’t have asked that question,” Beck
grimaced, turning to Baxter. “Captain…I want to borrow a
“A shuttlecraft?” Baxter asked, “whatever for?”
“When we visited this universe a couple years ago, we
went to Playstation and discovered an alternate version of
Bradley Dillon that Happymaster Dillon had…abused quite a
bit. And our Bradley Dillon wants to rescue him.”
“Sounds risky to me,” Baxter said. “To say nothing of
the Prime Directive implications.”
“Is that a no?”
“Of course not. I’ve been known to violate the Prime
Directive on a few occasions myself.”
“I noticed,” Beck said. “So do I get the shuttlecraft?”
“Why not,” Baxter said through a sip of his drink.
“But Bradley Dillon is a Federation citizen. If something
should happen to him, it’s going to raise a stink with the
Federation Civil Liberties Union and all those other liberal
“Pardon me,” Richards said. “It’s those liberal
pansies that separate us from the fascist bastards in this
“Not now, Chris,” Baxter barked, looking over his
shoulder at Richards. He turned back to Beck. “You’ve
got yourself a ride, Commander. But be careful. The
station is evidently swarming with Klingons.”
“I’ve dealt with Klingons before, Captain. It’s
nothing I can’t handle,” Beck said. She neglected to say
that the Klingon she had dealt with was a cross-dresser, but
she felt that wasn’t really pertinent anyway. “Thanks for
the help, Captain.”
“Don’t mention it,” Baxter said as Beck left.
“She was pretty snippy with me,” Browning said with a
frown. “Do you think she’s still ticked about that whole
“I imagine. You almost caused the death of her
security chief,” Baxter said.
“‘Almost is the operative word there, Andy. He
pulled through,” Browning said defensively.
“Oh, well,” Baxter said. “You can’t please everyone.
Sometimes there are going to be people who just don’t like
Browning sucked on the ice cream spoon Richards had
stuck in her mouth thoughtfully. “I don’t see why that has
to be. I’m going to make it up to her. I don’t know how,
but I will.”
“Just don’t operate on her, whatever you do,” Baxter
said with a grin. He stopped grinning when a chunk of
bannana hit him square in the face.
:) CHAPTER ELEVEN
Stardate 52606.3. Lt. Commander Walter Morales recording
for Commander Beck. Things have been rather quiet around
here since we sealed up the Bermuda Expanse. No ships are
scheduled to dock today other than the two Starfleet ships
that are en route to protect us should the Bermuda Expanse
reopen. Additionally, the Starship Pulitzer is arriving
shortly to investigate the phenomenon and try to find a way
to get through to the mysterious beings known as the
Directors. I can only hope that Commander Conway and his
staff go with them.
“So, you don’t like us being here,” Lt. Tilleran said
as she observed Lt. Walker’s work at the science station.
Lt. Commander Morales looked up from his log entry.
“You think we’re incompetent and annoying!”
“I said no such thing,” Morales said defensively.
“Yeah, but you were thinking it!”
“You know what’s annoying? Betazoids who probe your
mind and tell you what they think you’re thinking. Isn’t
there some regulation that says you can’t probe us unless we
want you to?”
“Well, it’s a matter of courtesy, but it’s not a
regulation. Besides, I wasn’t really probing you. I just
“Sure, likely story. Well, overhear someone else,”
Morales grumbled. He didn’t like to be so grouchy.
That wasn’t really his way, but the crew from the Explorer
somehow brought out the worst in him.
“He’s usually not so grouchy,” Lt. Porter said, as he
and Tilleran continued to work.
“I can’t help it if my powers are a little sensitive
sometimes,” Tilleran muttered quietly.
“I think it’s kind of cute,” Porter said with a grin.
“You do, do you?” Tilleran said, smiling. Suddenly
her expression changed. “Well, I never!”
“What, what did I–” Suddenly Porter realized that
Tilleran could tell what he was thinking. “Stop thinking,
“You really need an outlet for that sexual
frustration,” Tilleran said, shaking her head. “It’s not
healthy to keep that kind of stuff pent up.”
“Stop thinking, stop thining!” Porter kept telling
himself, running into the bathroom.
“I can still read you, Craig!” Tilleran called out.
The bathroom door slid open and Porter made a bee-line
for the turbolift. “I’ll be belowdecks if you need me,
Tilleran watched Porter disappear into the turbolift
and raised an eyebrow. “Was it something I said?”
“This has to stop,” Morales muttered.
Conway sipped at his double strong Cappucino, watching
the mallgoers pass in front of him as Larkin gave him the
status reports from the previous night.
“And there was a three percent decrease in neutrino
emissions from the Bermuda Expanse,” Larkin said. She looked
up at Conway. “Are you listening, Commander?”
“Sure, sure, Larkin. Three percent decrease. What
“The Starship Pulitzer should be here within the
“Damn,” Conway said. “I was hoping I’d be able to
avoid Lanham for another four years at least.”
“I found Dr. Lanham to be a competent scientist and a
decent person overall,” Larkin surmised.
“That’s because you weren’t married to her for eight
months. And she didn’t push you into a gorge.”
“Well, I suppose I can see how that might affect your
evaluation of her character.”
“Damn right it affects my evaluation of her
“It is said that forgiveness is divine, Commander,”
“Is there some way I can disconnect that self-
righteousness program of yours?” Conway griped.
“Of course, Commander, but why would you want to do
such a thing?”
“It was just a thought.”
Suddenly Lieutenant Porter came running out of a
turbolift. He saw Commander Conway and ran over.
“Commander! That Betazoid science officer of yours–
she keeps poking into my brain! How can I get her out?”
“Get a hold of yourself, Lieutenant,” Conway said
disapprovingly. “You are a Starfleet officer. You are
trained to deal with telepaths as a part of day-to-day life.
What if you were captured by some evil telepathic aliens
that wanted to probe your mind for Starfleet secrets? Would
you just give them up? No, sir. You’ve got to fight it!”
“But I’ve never met a woman like her, Commander. I
have thoughts about her, and I can’t seem to stop
them…it’s like she’s got this power over me I just can’t
Conway grabbed Walker’s shoulders and shook him
vigorously. “Snap out of it, Mister! You’re letting her
win. You can’t just let a woman control you like this!
You’ve got to be a man and show her that she doesn’t have
your balls in a bag, telepathy or no.”
Porter straightened and smiled weakly. “Fight back.
Right sir, I’ll do my best.”
“That’s darned right you will. Now take a few laps
around the mall and return to your post. Dismissed!”
Conway watched Porter run off with satisfaction.
“Ops to Commander Conway,” Lt. Commander
Morales’s voice said. “The Pulitzer has arrived at Docking
All the gusto seemed to disappear from Conway as he
heard these words. “Acknowledged,” he said meekly.
Larkin crossed her arms behind her back and followed
Conway into the turbolift. “Balls in a bag, sir?”
“Never mind,” Conway barked as the turbolift doors
“A shuttlecraft?” Bradley said incredulously as he
watched Beck detach the fueling servo from the rear end of
the shuttlecraft Cabral. “How are we going to get onto
Playstation with a shuttlecraft?”
“You didn’t think we’d just ring the doorbell, did
you?” Beck asked, checking her tricorder as she swept it
over the warp nacelles.
“I thought we’d transport over,” Bradley said, kicking
one of the nacelles. “Not fly at them in this hunk of
“It’s too risky to transport,” Beck explained, trying
to be patient with Bradley. “The Explorer will be flying into
a war zone. If they lower the shields for even a few
seconds, they’ll be open to heavy weapons fire.”
“They’d stand up to it better than this little
shuttle,” Bradley said. “Believe me, I used to be a used
starship salesman. I know about Federation shuttles. They
don’t hold up well to concentrated weapons fire. We prefer
to deal in ships of a higher caliber.”
Beck stopped working a moment to look at Bradley tiredly.
“And I suppose the vessels you sold were more durable?”
“And that’s why you’re persona non grata with the
Tellarites and the Alpha Centauri?”
“That was a–”
”–big misunderstanding. Yes, I know; you’ve told me
that before,” Beck said, running a hand over her face.
“Listen, Mr. Dillon, if you want to do this, you’ll have to
do it by my rules. It’s not going to be easy, and I can’t
guarantee that you’ll come out of it alive.”
Bradley threw his hands up. “Fine, fine. I’ll have to
rely on that Starfleet training of yours to get me to that
station. So be it.”
“Glad we have an understanding,” Beck said, stepping
inside the opening door at the rear of the shuttlecraft and
sliding into the pilot’s chair. “Now get your stuff loaded
up and get ready to take a crash course in shuttle
“I know how to fly a shuttle,” Bradley said defiantly.
“I told you, that was my business.”
“That may be, but like you said, you prefer to deal in
ships of a ‘higher caliber.’”
Bradley slung his duffel inside and sat down next to
Beck. “Okay, fine. Show me what this little ship can do.”
“Hello?” a familiar voice asked from outside the
Beck turned around in her chair to find Dr. Browning
peeking her head inside the shuttle. “Oh, there you are
Commander. The computer told me you’d be here.”
“What do you want, Doctor?” Beck asked, turning back
to her panel to finish the shuttle diagnostic.
“I want to help,” Browning said proudly, reaching into a
holster that was at her side. “Look, I brought a phaser and
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Beck said, turning toward
“I’m not kidding,” Browning said. “I may be a medical
doctor, but I’ve had Starfleet combat training, and my
sickbay has been invaded before. I’d like to say I’m a darn
good fighter for someone who’s sworn never to do harm.”
“Does your Captain know about this?” Beck asked.
“No, not exactly. My fiancee doesn’t even know.”
Beck raised an eyebrow. “Huh. And why exactly do you
want to help?”
Browning sat down behind Beck. “I thought that maybe if
I helped you and Mr. Dillon here that it might make up for
that little skewer incident.”
“Is that what this is about?” Beck said, rolling her
eyes. “Dr. Browning, that was over a year and a half ago.”
“So you’re not holding a grudge?”
“Of course not.”
“So you do like me?”
Beck gritted her teeth. Starfleet officers were not
usually given to lie to other Starfleet officers.
“Well…‘like’ is a pretty strong word. What if I told you
I tolerate you, would that be good enough?”
“No,” Browning said resolutely. “By the time this
mission is over, I want us to be great friends.”
“That’s asking a lot from a simple search and rescue
operation, but I suppose we could use your medical expertise
to help the other Mr. Dillon when we find him.”
“Great!” Browning said excitedly. “Let me just get my
“I like her, Commander,” Bradley said with a grin as
Browning ducked out of the shuttle.
“She’s already taken, Mr. Dillon,” Beck said. “Of
course, incompetent physicians with voracious appetites are
always high on anyone’s list of prospective mates. Never
level-headed, high-spirited, intelligent and attractive
“Do I detect a hint of jealously?” Bradley asked.
“Of course not,” Beck said, tapping a few buttons on
her panel. “Now, this is an combat simulation. It’ll teach
you basic shuttle operations, damage control, and
maneuvering subroutines. Get to work.”
Beck sighed and turned around in her pilot’s chair as
Bradley began the simulation. She ducked out of the shuttle to
see what was taking Browning so long when she saw the Doctor
re-enter the shuttlebay, accompanied by Fresca and Singer.
“Hey, Commander!” Browning said excitedly. “I bumped
into these two in the corridor. They want to come with us.”
“We’re not running a cab service,” Beck said.
“No one said you were,” Singer replied curtly. “We
simply need a way over to Playstation. If the Klingons have
taken it over, it’s up to Fresca and I to get it back.”
“Just you two? Against a station full of Klingons?”
Beck asked, laughing. “Good luck.”
“We aren’t asking for your tactical analysis. We just
need help breaking in. Leave the rest to us.”
“Have you talked this over with Captain Baxter?”
Singer nodded. “We have his full support.”
“Well, it’s his shuttlecraft. Welcome aboard,” Beck
said, returning into the craft, Singer and Fresca on her
Browning scurried in behind them, a rather bulky backpack
slung over her shoulder.
“What do you have there?” Beck asked as she took her
chair again. “Weaponry? Medical supplies?”
Browning shook her head. “Twinkies. I brought enough
“God help us,” Beck sighed. It was going to be a long
“Commander,” Admiral McGrath said, stepping out of the
airlock. “Where’s my boy?”
Conway grimaced at McGrath and looked past him to Dr.
Lanham, who stood behind McGrath at the airlock, seeming as
anxious to hear Conway’s reply as McGrath was.
“He’s at the Youth Center with the other Scouts. Listen,
“Quiet, Conway,” McGrath said. “Your Lt. Commander Larkin
can show me to my nephew. You and Dr. Lanham are going to
Conway gulped. “Me and Dr. Lanham? But, Lt. Commander
Larkin is more–”
“You heard what I said. Now get moving, Mister,” McGrath
said. “I’m going to coordiate from Waystation, with the
help of your beautiful operations officer.”
“Although I am unnaffected by compliments, I do
appreciate your remark,” Larkin said. “If you will follow
me, Admiral, the Youth Center is this way.”
McGrath took Larkin’s arm and moved off down the
corridor. “Have a lovely time, Commander!”
Conway stared after McGrath with irritation. “Sometimes
I think that man likes to antagonize me.”
“What can I say,” Lanham said with a smile. “It’s
fun. I know I enjoyed it.”
“Enough out of you, Doctor,” Conway barked. “Show me
to the bridge.”
“My, your attitude hasn’t changed much in the last
couple months,” Lanham remarked as she led Conway through
the airlock into a corridor on the Pulitzer.
“Is there any reason it should have?” Conway asked,
without looking at Lanham.
“Look,” Lanham said, turning to Conway. “I know our
marraige wasn’t exactly a fairytale, but can we at least put
our differences aside and be mature enough to go about our
mission without killing each other?”
“That depends on whether or not there are any fifty
meter gorges between here and the Bermuda Expanse,” Conway
“You never will forgive me for that, will you?”
“I almost died!”
Lanham folded her arms. “It was your own fault.”
“And how do you figure that?”
“You thought it was safe to go out on the precipice.
I tried to tell you that it wasn’t stable…but no…you had
to go prove yourself. Had to prove you were smarter than I
“That’s a load of bull and you know it. You pushed
“I was trying to pull you back!”
“Doctor?” the Captain of the Pulitzer said, turning in
his command chair.
Conway and Lanham had been so busy arguing, they
hadn’t noticed when the turbolift doors opened.
“Captain Walt Green, Commander David Conway,”
Lanham said, leading Conway out of the turbolift and giving
a hasty introduction. Green was a comfortable-looking, round-
faced, middle-aged man with a genteel southern accent.
“Pleasure to meet you, Conway,” Green said. “We
heard about what happened on the Aerostar. Pretty amazing
“Uh-huh,” Conway said. “I believe Admiral McGrath had
orders for us to leave immediately for the Bermuda Expanse?”
“Quite right.” Green led Conway and Lanham around
to the front of the bridge, where they took a place to the
left and right of the command chair, respectively. “Ensign
Delvecchio, clear all moorings and take us away from
Waystation at one quarter impulse.”
“Moorings clear…we are free to navigate,” Ensign
Delvecchio reported from the helm.
“Lay in a course for the Bermuda Expanse and engage
at full impulse.” Green turned toward Conway and smiled.
“So, you and Dr. Lanham are already acquainted?”
“Oh, yes, well aquainted,” Lanham said with a smile.
Conway grimaced. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
<So then we intertwined with several other god-like
beings from the Andromeda Galaxy,> the eyeball said
wistfully. <Oh, that was good. We don’t hear from them much
anymore. They said they would call, but then they never
did. Doesn’t that annoy you?>
“I really don’t think we’re getting anywhere,”
Peterman said finally.
The eyeball looked a little taken back. <On the
contrary, Counselor, I’ve found this quite helpful. You
just need to dig a little deeper.>
“I don’t even know what I’m doing,” Peterman said
tiredly. “This is far beyond phobias and neuroses. You
guys need a stellar physicist or something.”
<Nonsense. Chin up, there, huh? You’ll get it.>
“I don’t know. I’m starting to feel like it’s just
too much for one person to solve.”
<Hmmm. Funny. That’s what we were thinking.>
“I beg your pardon?”
<The problems are just too vast for us to solve. We
may be omnicient, but we’re not…well, the point is we’ve
been trying to solve the problems of another universe, when
we have one of our own to worry about.>
“I see,” Peterman said, rubbing her chin thoughtfully.
“So you’re trying to take on the problems of this universe,
and you’re being weakened because of that…”
<Exactly! Very good. You understand us better than
“Yay me!” Peterman said. “So how does that help you?”
<Don’t worry yourself with that. Go get your friend
J’hana. We’ve got preparations to make.>
“What about Andy and the others…and the
<Let us worry about that.>
“All stop,” Captain Green ordered, gazing at the
churning plasma that was the Bermuda Expanse as it roiled
on the viewscreen. “Science stations, commence sanning.”
Commander Conway stepped forward and examined the
viewscreen image. “Any activity from the rift?”
“Negative,” Dr. Lanham said, looking her science
console. “We’re picking up some minor neutrino emissions,
but that can be explained by particle interactions within
the graviton matrix.”
“Sure it can,” Conway said. “But why is it changing
Lanham looked up. “Pardon me…changing color?”
“He’s right,” Green said. “Explanation, Dr.
“I…I don’t know.” Sure enough, the Fruitlands were
changing from purplish to canary yellow. “I never bothered
to look up at it. I was busy looking at the molecular scans
and the particle–”
“We don’t have time for technobabble,” Conway said.
“Keep doing your tests and report all your findings back to
Suddenly Peterman found herself inside a vast warehouse
full of marbles.
“Hello?” Peterman asked.
“Over here,” a voice called out.
Peterman looked up at the top of a huge pile of
marbles. J’hana was sitting on top of the pile and picking
marbles out. Some she threw to the left, some to the right.
“What are you doing, J’hana?” Peterman asked,
carefully crawling up to the top of the precarious pile.
“Some fat guy instructed me to separate the good
marbles from the bad marbles,” J’hana grunted. “It has
been long, tedious work.”
“Sounds like busywork,” Peterman surmised.
“That was what I was thinking,” J’hana growled.
“Hey, I hear the Directors are back on their feet!” a
loud, obese man said, emerging from a room adjacent to the
warehouse. “Good job, Counselor.”
“Thanks, I guess.”
J’hana nodded in the man’s direction. “Counselor,
this is George Sherbert. He’s the Directors’ agent.”
“Nice to meet you,” Peterman said.
“Yeah, they wanted me to tell you that you could stop
doing that now, Miss J’hana.”
“What?” J’hana asked angrily, peering down over the
pile of marbles at George. “Are you kidding?”
“Actually, heh heh, it was just some busy work to keep
you occupied while Miss Peterman talked wit the Directors.”
“Uh-oh,” Peterman said quietly.
“You little worm!” J’hana cried, tossing marble after
marble at George. “I will kill you.”
George batted marbles away from his face. “I have to
remind you, Miss J’hana, that I ain’t corporeal, just a
representation of a non-corporeal lifeform. You can’t
really hurt me.”
J’hana rolled off the massive pile and lept towards
George. “Then you have nothing to worry about!”
“Actually, the marbles do sting a little–”
The Andorian pile-drived into the squat agent and
knocked him to the ground.
An eyeball appeared above Peterman and joined her in
watching J’hana thrash George Sherbert. <Is she always this
“I’m afraid so. I’ve been trying to work on curbing
her violent urges, but she can still be pretty spicy from
time to time.”
<You certainly have a difficult job, Counselor.>
“Tell me about it.”
“Yes, Robby, we’re going to the command center. Won’t
that be fun?” Admiral McGrath asked pleasantly as the turbolift
rose through the bowels of Waystation.
“It’s about time,” Robby said. “I was cooped up with
those inferior brats in the Youth Center for far too long.”
“Now, now, those brats are your fellow Starfleet
Scouts. They’re coming to view the Pulitzer’s findings too.
Think of it as a kind of field trip.”
“But, Unkie Frank!” Robby said angrily.
“This way, Admiral,” Larkin said, gesturing for McGrath
to follow her out of the turbolift and into ops.
“Admiral,” Lt. Commander Morales said from the docking
panel. “Allow me to welcome you back to Waystation.”
“Hi yourself.” McGrath didn’t want to think about his last
excusion to Waystation, shortly before it opened for business.
“Is there any word from Pulitzer yet?”
Morales nodded. “Yes, sir, preliminary scans only so
far. But one unusual thing to report: It has changed
“Outstanding!” McGrath said excitedly. “Are you taking
this down, Robby?”
“Of course not,” Robby said defiantly. “I have a
“Lt. Tilleran, please begin coordinating with Lt.
Porter in order to interpret the Pulitzer’s scans,” Larkin
said, moving to the science console.
“Aye, sir,” Tilleran said, looking to Porter. “Are
you up to it, Mr. Porter?”
“Of course,” Porter said, folding his arms resolutely.
“I’m not afraid of you.”
Tilleran smiled. “Well, there’s no reason you should
“Uh-huh. Running a computer decompilation of the
Pulitzer’s scans,” Porter reported, running his hands over
the science panel’s controls.
“Communication coming in from Pulitzer on subspace,”
Lt. Russell suddenly reported from tactical.
“On screen,” McGrath said.
Conway appeared on the screen with Captain Green at
his side. “We’ve found something, Admiral.”
“I don’t know how, exactly, but we were able to punch
through the Bermuda Expanse with an active ion scanning
beam, and we found–we found…”
“Spit it out, Conway,” McGrath said wearily.
“We found a massive fleet of varying types of ships.
I don’t know what’s going on over there, but whatever it is,
:) CHAPTER TWELVE
USS RUTH BUZZY
Emperor Beck stalked onto the bridge. “What’s going
on out there?”
T’poo shifted uncomfortably in his command chair.
“The Klingons have control of Playstation, but we don’t know
for how long. The rebels are fighting us tooth and nail.”
“What about the Funfleet reinforcements?” Lisa-love asked.
“A task force of six funships is here already, to be
joined by some twenty or twenty-five funships that are en
route as we speak,” T’poo said proudly.
Counselor Kelly-bell stepped out of the conference
room, followed by Lt. Commander Chrissie. “Are we here
“Yes, Counselor,” Lisa-love said. “Are you ready to take
over operations on Playstation?”
“More than ready,” Kelly-bell grinned. “Has Mr. Jaroch
informed you of my backup plan?”
“Yes. I find it bold, audacious…and quite
arousing.” Lisa-love smiled. “You intrigue me, Counselor.”
“You didn’t make me Counselor Supreme for nothing,”
Kelly-bell replied. “Chrissie has already taken care of
all the arrangements. If we begin to take too many losses,
then he is prepared to initiate the plan. All you have to
do is give the word.”
Lisa-love put her hands on her hips. “Good.” She looked
at Chrissie. “But not a minute before, Chrisy. You
take your orders from me–not the Counselor.”
Chrissie smiled. “Understood, Emperor.”
Lisa-love folded her arms and watched the battle on the
viewscreen. “Well, don’t just sit there, T’poo. Have one
of the fleet ships cover us so that we can transport the
Counselor aboard Playstation.”
“Yes, your Happyness.”
“Shuttlecraft Cabral away,” Lt. Hartley reported from
“Good luck, you guys,” Baxter said quietly.
“Time to Bermuda Expanse Sector, Lt. Hartl–”
Suddenly Lt. Commander Richards appeared on the
bridge, urgently leaning over the tactical panel. “Captain,
I can’t find Janice anywhere, and the computer says she’s not
on the ship.”
“What a coincidence. We just launched a shuttle,”
Baxter said, rubbing his chin.
“She went with them!” Richards said incredulously.
“I don’t believe it. She didn’t even consult me!”
“Well, I suppose she didn’t consult anyone. Open a
channel to the Cabral, Lt. Hartley.”
Baxter turned to the viewscreen, which obediently
displayed an image of Beck and Bradley Dillon, with Singer
and Fresca hovering impatiently in the background.
“We’re kind of busy getting ready for a suicide
mission, Captain. What do you want?” Beck asked.
“Did you take Dr. Browning with you?” Baxter asked
“Actually, it was my idea to tag along,” Browning said,
sticking her head in between Bradley and Beck. “I finally
found a way to make up with Commander Beck, Chris!”
“But you could be killed!” Richards exclaimed.
“Yeah, so could the rest of us,” Commander Beck said.
“But you sure as hell didn’t seem in any hurry to stop us.”
“But I’m not engaged to any of you!” Richards replied.
“And you don’t know how much that hurts,” Bradley said
with a grin. Browning blew a kiss at Richards. “Don’t
worry, baby, I’ll be back soon! Love ya!”
The image flicked off and Baxter turned back to look
at Richards, shrugging. “Women. Can’t live with ‘em,
can’t keep ‘em on your starship.”
“I hate to interrupt this pleasant little interlude,”
Hartley said wryly from tactical. “But we’re entering a war
Baxter motioned for Richards to take the engineering
console and moved to the front of the bridge. “Go to Red
Alert. Raise shields and arm all weapons.”
“Done, sir,” Hartley replied.
“Captain,” Richards reported from engineering. “I’m
pulling up a scan of the area. It’s anarchy out there!”
“On screen,” Baxter ordered.
The screen was suddenly filled with hundreds of
battling starships: Federation, Multek, Cardassian, Ferengi,
Andorian, Romulan, Klingon, and half a dozen others Baxter
couldn’t even identify.
“The mini bar is all secure,” Mirk muttered as he
stepped out of the turbolift. He stopped short when he saw
the melee on the viewscreen. “Wow. Looks like they started
“Better late than never,” Baxter said, looking back to
Hartley. “Alert Captain Conway that we’re here and ask him
where he needs our help most.”
“Yes, sir,” Hartley said.
“Mr. Stuart,” Baxter ordered. “Take us into the fray.”
“The what?” Stuart asked turning back.
“Never mind, just take us into the middle of the
battle!” Baxter snapped.
Counselor Peterman looked through the transparent
clouds of gas worriedly. “Can’t I get a closer look?
What’s happening out there?”
<They’re bickering again. All over control of this
little sector of space. That’s really sad,> the eyeball
said, hovering between Peterman and J’hana as they watched
“Well, do something!” Peterman said urgently.
<Sorry. It’s not quite time yet. Believe me, we have
some changes in mind for this little nook.>
“This is quite frustrating!” J’hana said angrily,
pounding at the clouds of swirling gas around her. “I
should be at the Captain’s aid!”
<Quiet, Andorian. You know, you really hurt George’s
feelings when you threw those marbles at him.>
“I’ll give you hurt feelings, damn it!” J’hana cried,
punching the eyeball as hard as she could.
The eyeball reeled back through the clouds, finally
steadying itself and hovering back toward J’hana.
<Well, that was quite uncivilized of you.>
“I like uncivilized,” J’hana said, pushing up her
sleeves. “Now how about we settle this honorably? I am
tired of your mind games.”
<Very well. You have bought yourself a ticket to pain
town,> the eyeball said angrily. Suddenly, massive, muscular
arms protruded from the sides of the eyeball. <Are you
rrrrrrrrrready to rrrrrrrrrrumble?> the eyeball asked in a
loud, echoing voice, as a boxing ring materialized next to
“We don’t have time for this!” Peterman shouted.
“Didn’t I teach either of you anything about conflict
“Not now,” J’hana barked, slipping on some boxing
gloves and crawling in between the ropes around the boxing
ring. “I have some business with our ocular friend.”
“For five hundred points, try and find the intelligent
one,” Peterman said quietly to herself as J’hana and the
eyeball took their separate corners.
“Hold on, guys,” Commander Beck said, expertly
weaving the Cabral around Playstation’s upper saucer.
“This is going to be tricky.”
Bradley Dillon gripped the panel in front of him and held
on tight as the shuttle rocked with fire from Playstation’s
defensive perimeter. “I have every faith in you, Commander!”
Dr. Browning balanced herself in between the two front
chairs. “Not that I don’t have faith in you, took, Commander,
but you do have a plan on how to get us in, don’t you?”
“Of course I do,” Beck said, pausing as she wheeled
the Cabral around another tricky corner. “Playstation is
more or less constructed exactly like Waystation was before
its renovation: two Constitution-class saucer sections and a
connecting tube. It may have some additional bells and
whistles, but I still know how to find its weak spot.”
Major Singer winced as another blast rocked the tiny
shuttle. “And how do you propose we exploit this ‘weak
“There should be a cargo bay on the lower saucer.
It’s designed for taking in grain stores and organic
supplies. It’s not very well shielded or protected, since
the goods inside aren’t high-priority.”
“But what if it’s different in this universe?” Bradley asked
“Then we’re in trouble. Then again, they have to keep
their organics somewhere, right?”
“Right,” Fresca said. “So should I get ready to
activate the transporter?”
“Two minutes ago I would have said yes,” Beck said,
pitching the Cabral forward over the edge of the upper
saucer and flying along the length of Playstation towards
the bottom of the lower saucer.
“What happened two minutes ago?” Bradley asked.
Beck ducked as a panel beside her exploded. “One of
these many colorful phaser beams hit us and took out the
“How the heck are we going to get in, then?” Browning
Beck rolled the Cabral so tightly that Browning and the
others almost lost her balance. “The old fashioned way.
We’re going to put full power to the deflectors and we’re
going to punch through the cargo bay door.”
“We’re going to…what?” Bradley asked, gripping the
“Don’t worry, those saucers were taken from
Constitution class ships. The duranium is of a slightly
lesser grade then what most people use today. Me might get
“MIGHT?” Singer asked frantically.
“Well, we’ll find out…um, right now! Hold on!” Beck
cried, ducking as the Cabral shot toward the cargo bay door
on the belly of the lower saucer and punched right through.
“We’re really taking a pounding, Captain Baxter,”
Captain Conway said from the viewscreen, gripping one of
the consoles on Aerostar’s bridge. “The Happys called in every
starship from here to Rigel Seven to help them. Both sides
are pouring on everything they have, but it doesn’t look
good for us.”
Baxter grimaced as the Explorer was pounded by enemy
fire. “That was before the Explorer joined in. Don’t you
worry, Captain. We’ll have these happy sons of bitches
smiling all the way to the pain bank when we’re through with
Lt. Hartley looked over at Richards quizzically,
mouthing the words “pain bank?”
Richards just shrugged.
“Thanks for all your help, Captain. Good luck,” Davey-
wavey said, disappearing from the viewscreen. In his
place was a view of the rear of a Klingon Battlecruiser that
the Explorer was tailing through the mass of battling ships.
“I want those maneuvers tighter, Ensign!” Baxter
cried. “We should be smelling our own exaust, get it?”
“Pushy pushy. You recall I’m not even posted as a
helmsman,” Stuart said. “I’m doing my best.”
“That ain’t good enough, buster!” Baxter said. “Our
rear is getting singed, here!”
As if to punctuate that statement, Richards’s
engineering panel lit up like a Christmas tree. “Captain,
the shields are taking a pounding!”
“Lt. Hartley, get us some room to breathe,” Baxter
ordered. “We’re not going to win this by being pansies!”
Hartley fired spreads of quantum torpedoes at the
Klingon ships that were descending behind them and leaned in
Richards’s direction. “He’s being awful agressive today,
“He was achingly happy for several hours,” Richards
explained. “He has to balance that out somehow.”
Commander Beck rolled out of the wreckage of the
Cabral, rubbing her aching toushie and bringing up her
phaser rifle, firing at the two Klingons that rushed into
the cargo bay. That seemed a good sign that the Klingons
were in control of Playstation. Beck desperately hoped that
she was wrong.
“Is everybody okay?” Beck called into the
shuttlecraft, peering down the corridor outside the cargo
bay and making sure no one was coming.
Phaser rifles at the ready, Singer and Fresca
emptied out, with Browning and Bradley on their heels.
“Oh, I’ve never been better. Can we do that again?”
Browning said sarcastically.
“We’d need another shuttlecraft,” Bradley replied, taking
stock of the ruined Cabral.
“No more chatter,” Beck said, ducking back into the
Cabral. “It’s time to put the plans into motion.”
“Plans? What plans?” Bradley asked. “We have plans?”
“Sure do,” Beck said from within the shuttle.
“When were you planning on sharing them with me?” Bradley
asked in annoyance.
“Right about now,” Beck said, stepping out of the
shuttle. “What do you think?”
Bradley looked at Beck’s attire and turned to Browning. “Do
you know anything about psychology, Doctor? Is she nuts?”
“I don’t know. You know Commander Beck better than I
do,” Browning said, looking Beck up and down.
While Fresca secured the outer corridor, Singer
looked over at Beck’s catsuit, heavy makeup and fluffed
hair. “You make a pretty good sadistic mistress,
“Thank you,” Beck said cattily, batting her
lenghthened eyebrows. “Maybe if I can convince these
Klingon numbskulls that I’m my counterpart it’ll give us an
“You may be right, Commander,” Major Singer said, as
Fresca returned from the outer corridor. “Well, Fresca?”
“This section is clear. What now?”
“You and I will head up to Ops and try to retake
control of the station.” Singer turned to Beck. “And I
assume you three will try to rescue the alternate Bradley?”
“Darn right,” Bradley replied.
“I might as well apologize in advance,” Singer said
reluctantly. “We never really got around to helping him.”
“But you’ve had a year!” Beck protested. “And you
said you would put his marbles back in order!”
“Other things came up!” Singer said. “You know how
it is. Listen: you can find him in his normal cell in the
Funtimes Mall. But I should warn you…if the outer rim of
the saucer is clear, the mall is probably crawling with
Klingons. You’ll be lucky to get out of here alive.”
“We’ll keep that in mind,” Beck said, gesturing to
Bradley and Browning. “Now let’s get going. This vinyl is really
“It is a good day to die,” J’hana growled, pummeling
her fists into the eyeball. “Are you prepared?”
<I’m omnicient, you imbecile. I cannot die.>
J’hana pounded some more. “Only one way to find out,
“Stop it, you two! This is insane!” Peterman cried
from the sidelines.
“Peanuts, wiener dogs, popcorn, sodas!” George
Sherbert called out. He now sported a black eye and was
attired in a red and white striped server’s uniform.
“No thank you,” Peterman said, watching the eyeball
knock J’hana flat on her back.
A loud bell clanged throughout the cloudy canary domain
of the Directors.
“Mistress” Beck dragged Dr. Browning out of the turbolift
and out into the Happy Funtimes Mall, whispering to Bradley,
“I’ll distract the security, you go find your counterpart!
He’s where your shop should be!”
“No problem, Commander!” Bradley said, withdrawing his
phaser and moving off through the mall.
As Beck dragged Browning through the mall, she noticed
that it seemed pretty quiet. She figured that it would be
busy what with the battle between the Klingons and the
rebels, but evidently one of the two sides had won.
Hopefully it was the rebels. If that was the case, it would
make her job much easier.
“Emporer Beck!” a Klingon cried out heartily, emerging
from the wreckage of what used to be some sort of shop. It
seemed as if he’d been scavenging for spare parts. “I
thought you were on the Buzzy!”
Emporer? Beck thought, taking stock of the Klingon.
Things change so quickly around this universe. Mistress Beck
had obviously been promoted to Emperor in the shake-up on
Earth, and it appeared that the Klingons had in fact taken over
Playstation. Beck quickly batted her eyelashes at the lumbering
Klingon and smiled flirtaciously. “Well, what can I say, I couldn’t
help but show up and give a hand.”
“Got yourself a prisoner, huh?” he asked, elbowing
Beck hard in the gut as he stared at Dr. Browning. “Want to
put her in with the rest or keep her for yourself?”
“I’ll keep her,” Beck said.
“Still up to your old tricks, huh?” the Klingon asked
“Well, you know what they say–” Beck said, when
suddenly a high pitched whine sounded from behind the
Klingon and his chest began to glow orange.
The Klingon toppled forward to reveal Bradley Dillon
standing behind him. “Takes a hell of a blast to topple one
of these guys,” Bradley said, holstering his phaser.
Beck stared down at the Klingon with satisfaction.
“Ever thought of joining Starfleet security Mr. Dillon?”
“Nope. It has great benefits but the pay is lousy.
Now come on. I’ve found the other me and he’s not in the
best of shape.”
Gesturing for Dr. Browning to follow her, Beck took off
toward the abandoned storefront where the alternate Bradley
Dillon was located.
Dr. Browning followed Beck into the storefront and
withdrew her tricorder.
“Singer was right. He looks the same as he did last
time I saw him,” Beck said, shaking her head.
Braddie Dillon was curled in a fetal position, in
nothing but diapers and a bib.
“Thbbbbbbbbbt,” Braddie said, rubbing his finger
furiously over his lips. “Thbbbbbbbbbt thbbbbbbt thbbbbt.”
“He’s whacked all right,” Browning said, standing up and
pocketing the tricorder.
“Can you do anything for him?” Bradley asked worriedly.
“I don’t know…the bonds between his brain cells are
breaking down. It looks like the effects of an active
psychointensive brainscan. Probably done by a Betazoid.”
“The late Counselor Troi’s handiwork, no doubt,” Beck
grumbled. “Between her and the Happymaster, his mind was
“We need to get him out of here,” Bradley said, looking
up to Beck.
Beck nodded. “I couldn’t agree more. I wouldn’t mind
getting out of here myself.” She slapped her comm badge.
“Beck to Explorer. We have the alternate Mr. Dillon, but we
haven’t been able to locate the bulk of the Klingon
occupying force or any of the rebels. How should we
“Your guess is as good as mine, Commander Beck. We
have problems of our own out here.”
Suddenly the storefront exploded open, knocking
everyone inside the gutted room to the floor.
“There they are,” Counselor Kelly-bell said wickedly,
rubbing her hands together. She was flanked by several
heavyset Klingons. “I knew those two rebels couldn’t have
found their way in here on their own.”
“Who are you?” Beck asked.
“Counselor Supreme Kelly-bell Peterman,” Kelly-bell
said, smiling cattily. “I’ve heard all about you and your
friends from the other universe. Sounds like a nice place.
I may conquer it one of these days. But there will be time
enough to talk about that later. Right now we’re going to
take you to visit your pals from the resistance. I think
they’ve missed you, darling.”
“And this is called the science station,” Admiral McGrath
said pleasantly, as the crowd of little Starfleet scouts
squirmed around to see Lt. Tilleran and Lt. Porter work.
“This station is responsible for coordinating all the
scientific data that Waystation’s sensors recieve.”
“Hi, fellas,” Lt. Porter said. “Ever seen a subspace
“Boring!” Robby said. “I want to see the quantum
torpedo arming controls.”
“Sorry, buddy, that’s restricted to authorized
personnel. How about taking a look at our docking
controls? Or the environmental science console?”
“Boring, boring, boring!” Robby said.
“Charming kid, huh?” Porter said, looking to Tilleran.
“He’s afraid of teddy bears,” Tilleran said with a
smile. “Because he visited a zoo once that had a Vulcan
predatorial teddy bear and it escaped and almost killed
“You got all that from a reading?”
“Yep,” Tilleran replied. “It’s all in the proximity
and brainpower of the person you’re scanning.”
“Fascinating,” Porter said, looking into Tilleran’s
deep, dark eyes. “What are you doing for dinner tonight?”
“Lieutenant!” Lt. Commander Morales called out.
“Where’s that scan?”
“Oh…the scan,” Porter said sheepishly. “Right.”
Dr. Browning let out an annoyed squeak as she landed
in the crowded room. “Where are we?”
Beck winced and rubbed her rear end as Peterman and
her Klingon escorts turned to leave. “On our Waystation,
this would be a storage facility for contraband weapons and
other materiel confiscated by security.”
“It was the only place big enough and secure enough to
stick us,” Colonel Lazlo said, moving to shake Commander
Beck’s hand. “We didn’t have much time to talk the last
time you were here, Commander. I hope you’ll forgive that
“I keep forgetting how truly different things are over
here,” Beck said, smiling at Lazlo.
“I take it you guys didn’t make it to Ops?” Browning
asked, looking to Fresca.
“Not exactly. We were captured by the Klingons about
five minutes after we left you guys.”
“Enough chit-chat,” Singer said brusquely. “We need
to find a way out of here.”
“I’m afraid that’s impossible,” Lazlo said. “They
have a class three forcefield surrounding us. Even if we
had phaser rifles, we wouldn’t be able to get through with
all of them combined.”
“Then we just sit here?” Bradley asked, as his
counterpart rocked back and forth and babbled incoherently
“I suppose so,” Beck said wearily. “So much for our
Counselor Kelly-bell marched out into ops and looked at
the battle taking place on the viewscreen. “What’s our
The Klingon shook his head, giving Kelly-bell an “I’ve
been a bad boy” look. “Not good. Estimates show that the
rebels will overcome our defenses within the hour.”
Emperor Beck appeared on the viewscreen, looking
extremely angry. “Kelly-bell! Have you found the imposter?”
“Yes, we have her,” Kelly-bell replied snidely. “But
we have bigger problems than that right now, don’t we?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact,” Lisa-love said, annoyed.
“We’re taking a real licking here, and I mean that in a bad
“Then we need to enact our option play now,” Kelly-bell
“All we need to do is free up two more starships and
we’ll be ready,” Emperor Beck said.
“Sounds good,” Kelly-bell said, carressing the arm of
one of the Klingons beside her. “It’s time to take this
show to a new part of town, Punjab.”
“Captain!” Lt. Hartley called out. “Three of the Happy
starships are regrouping around Playstation.”
Baxter rubbed his chin. “What are they up to?”
“Maybe they’re just getting their weapons reloaded,”
“No, they’re running with their shields up, and
they’re configured for…” Hartley said, and stopped
“What is it, Hartley?” Baxter asked impatiently.
Hartley’s brow creased in confusion. “Sir, they’re
activating tractor beams.”
“They’re going to move Playstation!” Mirk said.
“But move it where?” Richards asked.
“Where do you think?” Baxter said, his voice tinged
with alarm. “They’re going to try and take it into our
“Affirmative,” Hartley replied. “They’re moving off on
a heading of 181 mark 223 at full impulse. Directly for the
“How long until they get there?” Baxter asked, his
voice crisp with worry.
“Forty-five minutes at that speed,” Hartley said.
Richards swung around to the lower deck to face
Baxter. “Then we still have time to stop them!”
“Agreed,” Baxter said, turning his head back to the
tactical console. “Lt. Hartley, open a channel to the
“This is Captain Andy Baxter from the Explorer.
The Happys are attempting to move Playstation through the
Bermuda Expanse. Regroup around their perimiter and
“Response coming in from the Aerostar, Captain,”
“Captain Baxter,” Davey-wavey said worriedly. “I
sympathize with your plight, but these Klingon
battlecruisers outgun our Cardassian and Multek ships three
to one. We don’t have any resources to spare!”
“Then improvise, damn you!” Baxter said.
“Stuart…move to intercept those three starships towing
Playstation. We may be on our own!”
“Something is wrong here,” Counselor Peterman said,
watching J’hana and the eyeball fight. “You’re not like the
Directors I remember.”
<Of course we are,> the eyeball said, jabbing J’hana
with a hard left and a right follow-up. <If it weren’t for
us, the Bermuda Expanse would be a mess right now.>
“That’s just it. The Bermuda Expanse IS a mess right
now. And despite all your powers, you still can’t stop this
area of space from malfunctioning, can you?”
The eyeball stopped boxing a moment. <It’s not
malfunctioning. It’s working just fine.>
“The hell it is. I want some answers now, eyeball!”
J’hana said, trying to catch her breath.
<Hey, look over there…it’s a space station!> the
eyeball said suddenly, prompting Peterman and J’hana to turn
Peterman saw a dot through the clouds of the Bermuda
Expanse approaching them, and for some reason it gave her
a very uneasy feeling. That uneasy feeling grew worse when
J’hana slammed into her.
<Bring it on!> the eyeball shouted.
“Counselor, if you would,” J’hana said, staggering to
her feet and climbing back into the ring. “I could use some
Peterman approached the ring. “Really, I’m flattered
that you think–” Peterman stopped talking when J’hana
reached out and dragged her into the ring.
“Baxter to Beck. What’s your status?” Baxter asked
urgently. “Baxter to Beck…we have a situation here. We
need your help.”
“No response,” Hartley said, looking up from the
tactical panel. “They must have been captured,” Richards
“Damn,” Baxter said. “Is there any way to stop those
tractor beams, Porter?”
“I don’t know,” Richards said, looking down at the
engineering scans. “If we could generate a strong enough
field of antigravitons around the station, we may be able to
break it free.”
“Do it,” Baxter said.
“Ensign Stuart, I’m going to need your help,”
Richards said. “I’m going to have to reconfigure the main
“What about the helm?” Stuart asked, steering the
Explorer around a series of phaser blasts from Playstation.
“Hey everybody, what’s up?” Lana asked, stepping out
of the turbolift.
“We need someone at the helm!” Baxter barked.
“Oh,” Lana said calmly, sliding into place at the helm
as Stuart rushed to help Richards. “Sure, I can handle
“Oh, that’s great. So one of your hosts was a
starship pilot,” Baxter said with relief.
“Not exactly.” Lana pulled the Explorer into a roll.
“He was a crop duster.”
“I’m feeling better about this already,” Hartley said
Counselor Kelly-bell watched the Explorer come at them
on the viewscreen. “You won’t stop me, you unhappy
<Come on, Kelly-bell. We’re here for you,> They said,
Their voices echoing throughout Counselor Kelly-bell’s mind.
<All is in readyness. Just get a little closer…>
“I’m coming, my darling eyeball…we’ll be together
soon!” Peterman said, leaning toward the viewscreen
“What’s that, Counselor?” Punjab asked.
“How much longer, Richards?” Baxter asked, tapping
his foot nervously and watching the carnage on the
“Stuart still has to manually release the forward
relays. Another few minutes.”
“We have plenty of time, Captain. They’re still about
thirty-five minutes away from the Bermuda Expanse,” Hartley
“Yeah. You’re right, Hartley,” Baxter said. Why was
he still worried?
Suddenly, Baxter heard a huge gasp beside him.
Baxter raised an eyebrow. “Indigestion, Mr. Mirk?”
“Not exactly, sir,” Mirk said, rubbbing his temples.
“I’ve been getting confused signals from the Bermuda Expanse
ever since we crossed through to this universe. And I think the
Directors were somehow responsible for Lt. Hartley and I
being transported to Earth.”
“Cut to the chase, Mirk.”
“Well, I’ve been trying to figure out why we were
transported there, and what all the stuff I’ve been getting
from the Bermuda Expanse could mean…”
“Captain…they’re not as messed up as we think.
Well, they’re messed up all right, but not in a harmless
“Spit it out, Mirk!”
Baxter collapsed back into his chair. “Saints
:) CHAPTER THIRTEEN
<Well well well, I guess you all were smarter than I
thought you were, yes indeedie,> the eyeball said, staring
across the boxing ring at Peterman and J’hana.
“So who are you, anyway, if not the Directors?”
<We’re the Directors, to be sure, but not your
Directors. We belong to this universe, and are as afflicted
as this universe is, thanks to your lovely Aerostar.>
“So what was all that stuff you put us through for?”
<For fun,> the eyeball explained. He turned
to Peterman. <I have a certain affinity for your
counterpart, Counselor. Charming gal, charming gal. You’ll
get to meet her soon.>
“I don’t think I want to meet her.”
<Too bad. She’s on her way.>
“And where are the sane Directors, huh?” Peterman
asked defiantly. “Why don’t they come here and kick your
<Oh, them? They’re detained at the moment,> the eyeball
said happily. I’m afraid you won’t get to visit with them.
“Well, the eyeball is omnicient, and we’re not,”
J’hana said. “I hate to be a pessimist, but…well, it
doesn’t look good.”
“Stuart to Richards. Antigraviton emitter ready!”
Upon hearing this, Baxter looked back to Richards.
“Let ‘er rip, Commander!”
“Aye, sir,” Richards replied, hitting a control at
Lana steered the Explorer around Playstation and
behind the three starships that were towing it as Richards
released the antigravitons.
Energy crackled along the tractor beams as they began
to fail and dissipate.
“It’s working!” Baxter cried. “Good job, Commander.”
“Happy ships breaking off,” Hartley reported. “Coming
at us, sir.”
“Evasive maneuvers,” Baxter said. “And ready a spread
of quantum torpedoes. Target them on Playstation’s main
reactor. Maybe we can give our people over there a hole
card to work with.”
Punjab smashed the tactical console with his fist.
“Counselor, they have rendered the tractor beams
Kelly-bell didn’t reply. She closed her eyes and
reached out for the Directors. “Come get me, darlings,” she
cooed. “I’m ready to party with you.”
Suddenly Playstation rocked with explosive impacts.
“Several direct hits to the main reactor!” Punjab
cried out. “Main power failing.”
“Mmm hmmm,” Kelly-bell said sensuously. “Come on,
The Bermuda Expanse reached out towards Playstation.
Commander Beck steadied herself against a bulkhead as
Playstation rocked. “What the hell was that?”
“Quantum torpedoes by the sound of it. About a dozen
of them,” Singer said.
The lights inside the giant holding cell began to
“Main power is failing!” Lazlo said.
“Does that mean we can get out of here?” Bradley asked.
“Damn right we can,” Fresca said, reaching toward the
door and feeling around to make sure there was no
forcefield. “Our friends out there managed to take out the
whole power relay system.”
Suddenly the Klingon guards who had been posted
outside the holding cell stormed in, raising their betleths
high and letting out impressive, if slightly effiminate,
“Time to put that Starfleet battle training to good
use, Doctor,” Beck said, ramming her clasped hands into the
gut of the closest Klingon, causing him to drop his betleth.
Dr. Browning reached out and grabbed the betleth as it
fell, jabbing it into an onrushing Klingon. “Cool!”
“Come again?” Baxter asked, turning back to Hartley.
“I said Playstation is moving again,” Hartley said.
“How hard is that to comprehend?”
“But how?” Baxter asked.
“Just as I feared,” Mirk said worriedly. “The
Directors are omnicient, Captain, whether they’re crazy or
not. If they want Playstation to go through the Bermuda
Expanse, they’ll find a way to get it through.”
“So now we’re fighting gods,” Baxter said, running a
hand over his face. “That certainly ups the ante a little.”
“We can’t defeat omnicient beings,” Lana said from the
helm as she worked frantically to evade the three starships
that had been towing Playstation.
“No, but I know someone who can,” Baxter said.
“The Directors from our universe?” Mirk asked.
“Yeah, where have they been through all this?”
“Can you find out?”
“I can try,” Mirk replied, squeezing his eyes shut.
“Calling the Directors…come in Directors!”
“Maybe they changed their number to an unlisted one,”
“Just steer, Lana,” Baxter commanded. “Anything,
“Hold on,” Mirk said, “I think I’m getting something.”
The air crackled around the diminutive Maloxian,
shimmering with purple electricity.
<Hi,> a hearty voice said. Baxter leaned forward
expectantly. <We’re not in the Bermuda Expanse right now.
Please leave a message at the tone and we’ll get back to you
as soon as possible. Buhhhh-bye! Beeeeeeep!>
“Damn,” Hartley said, pounding the tactical console.
“You got their machine.”
Before Mirk could even register a reaction, a huge
vortex opened around him.
“You don’t see that every day,” Richards said.
The Maloxian staggered away from the vortex, and
was immediately seized by a meaty hand, which promptly
yanked him through.
“Mirk!” Baxter cried, moving forward, just as the
vortex winked out of existence like a television being
“Guess he found something,” Hartley remarked.
<Someone else to play with!> the eyeball said happily,
pounding Mirk across the boxing ring.
Mirk landed roughly next to J’hana and Peterman.
“Welcome to the Bermuda Expanse, Mirk,” Peterman said.
“Fancy seeing you here.”
“What are you guys doing here?” Mirk asked.
“I’d love to go into it, but that eyeball is coming at
us right now–” Peterman said, as the eyeball grabbed Mirk
by his throat and hurled him across the ring again.
Mirk grabbed the rope around the ring and pulled
himself up. “What did you do with the real Directors?”
<I sent them on vacation,> the eyeball explained. <They
needed time off, anyway.>
“Why you little–” Mirk said, pushing up his
shirtsleeves. “No one messes with my god-figures and gets
away with it.”
<Ooooh, I’m sooooo scared!>
Suddenly Mirk lept across the ring and drove himself
into the eyeball, sending it flying into J’hana and
<My, you’re a strong little fella,> the eyeball said, pushing
off J’hana and Peterman and slamming into Mirk. <The
Directors have trained you well.>
“Directors!” Mirk cried out, leaping about fifteen
meters into the air and diving back down onto the eyeball.
<This line has been disconnected,> A nasal, disembodied
“I know there must be another way to reach them,” Mirk
said, ducking a punch from the eyeball.
<In these modern times, there’s always a way to reach
the ones you love,> the eyeball said sweetly, pounding Mirk
roughly into the mat. <Too bad you won’t be alive to reach
them for much longer.>
“Slam him, Mirk! Kick his ass!” J’hana called out.
Mirk staggered away from the eyeball, trying to think
of a way to reach the Directors. Suddenly it came to him.
“Why didn’t I think of this sooner?” Mirk asked, squeezing
his eyes shut and concentrating.
<What are you doing? No, don’t do that!> the eyeball
cried out, grabbing Mirk and shaking him.
<Please enter the number you wish displayed,> came a
“HEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLP!” Mirk cried, as the
STAR GROUP FOUR-FOUR-SEVEN-ALPHA
THE OVALTINE GALAXY
ABOUT A ZILLION MILES FROM THE MILKY WAY
<More sunblock, please,> the Director said, as one of
the Ovaltines rubbed the greasy substance into the red-veiny
area around the iris. She was a semi-corporeal lifeform
made entirely of argon gas and silicates, but she had a
wonderful way of manipulating protomatter. <Oh, that’s
great. Keep rubbing.>
Suddenly the eyeball became aware of a distinct
vibrating from underneath it. <Are you doing that,
Vxxxxxxrrrrrrrrn? No? Well, then who in the Galaxies is?>
The Director shifted a bit inside the nebulous gas
cloud and pulled a tiny black box out from underneath it.
<Oh, wouldn’t you know, our pocket pager. I was sure we’d
left this back in the Bermuda Expanse. I wonder who could be
paging us?> The Director examined its pager and went wide with
amazement. <I’ll be darned. I wonder what he’d want with
us? Better check it out>.
Vxxxxxxrrrrrrrrn swirled in consternation.
<Now now, don’t be difficult. This might be important.
We promise we’ll be back as soon as possible. Keep that sun
warm for us!>
“Captain, Playstation is increasing speed. It will be
inside the Bermuda Expanse in three minutes!” Lt. Hartley cried
“Damn,” Baxter cursed. “Increase speed to warp one.
Cut them off!”
“What about Mirk? Any sign of him?” Richards asked.
“I’m getting intermittent readings from inside the
Bermuda Expanse…some kind of life-forms. Sir…how could life
exist in there?”
“Trust me. It can.”
“Aerostar to Captain Baxter,” Davey-wavey’s voice came
over the comm. “Captain. We’ve noticed a distinct change
in the movements of the happy fleet. They’re all going
toward the Bermuda Expanse!”
“Of course they are,” Baxter said. “It all makes
sense now. Don’t you see? If the Directors are under
control of the Happys, they can let their ships through
without a problem and destroy ours at the same time!”
“Then how the hell will we get back to our universe?”
“Kill the gods?” Hartley offered.
<Your powers may be strong compared to these humans,
Mirk, but compared to one of us you’re just an annoying
eyelash,> the eyeball said as it loomed over Mirk menacingly.
<Prepare to be plucked!>
Suddenly the Bermuda Expanse was filled with the sound
of a door being slammed. <Hello? Who’s in there? And who’s
responsible for this mess? The place looks awful!>
“Yes!” Mirk said triumphantly. “In here, guys!”
<Uh-oh,> the happy eyeball said, staggering back as
another eyeball glided into the boxing ring.
<Well, you’re a sight for sore eyes,> the normal eyeball
said. <What’s going on here?>
“He’s whacked in the worst way, Director,” Mirk said.
“He’s trying to destroy our normal universe by sending
people from the happy universe through.”
“And he made me sort marbles for three hours,” J’hana
<Well, that’s just not kosher, is it?> the eyeball said.
<Why don’t we sit down and have a nice chat about this,
The eyeball suddenly began to vibrate disturbingly.
It was turning a bright yellow.
<Uh-oh,> the normal eyeball said, backing away. <He’s
jaundiced! Get away, kids!>
“Move it, guys!” Mirk grabbed J’hana and Peterman and
flew them out of the ring, just as a black smile and two
large oval eyes began to form on the yellow eyeball.
<HAVE A NICE DAY!> the yellow-eye said with an evil
shriek of laughter.
The two eyeballs slammed together, grappling like two
mighty titans of Greek myth.
Commander Beck burst out of the turbolift and out into
ops, swinging her betleth menacingly into the nearest
Browning, Singer, Lazlo, Fresca, and the two Bradleys
soon followed, looking equally ticked.
“Hold them off just a little while longer!” Kelly-bell
cried out, climbing on top of the environmental station in
order to avoid a swinging betleth. She was too close now to
“Our shields are down to three percent!” Hartley called
out as another blast from the Buzzy slammed into the
Explorer. “But we have managed to short-circuit
Playstation’s shields altogether.”
“Time to Bermuda Expanse?”
“One minute, fifty seconds.”
“Damn,” Baxter said, clenching his fist and pounding
the arm of his chair. “We’re going to have to take out that
station before it reaches the Bermuda Expanse at all cost. Lt.
Hartley, ready two tri-cobalt devices. If we can’t stop
Playstation, we’ll blow it up.”
“And kill everyone aboard, including the good guys?”
“I’ll destroy this ship before I let one happy bastard
into our universe,” Baxter said angrily. “Mr. Richards,
where are our people?”
“They’re all grouped in ops. And it appears that the
alternate Peterman is there too.”
“Maybe we can at least stop them from going through.
Lt. Hartley, charge phasers to full power and aim for the
joint connecting ops to the rest of the station.”
“Aye, sir,” Hartley said. “Phasers targeted.”
“Richards, lock a tractor beam onto the operations
center and reel them in as soon as it’s detached.”
“Tractor beam ready.”
“Fire, Lieutenant Hartley!”
Beck yanked Kelly-bell down from her perch atop the
environmental station, digging in with fingernails and
slamming her into the deck. “You’re not getting out of this
“I beg to differ,” Kelly-bell said, watching the
Klingon behind Beck swing his betleth towards her.
“Commander!” Dr. Browning cried out, firing her phaser
and felling the Klingon before he could strike.
“Gee, thanks, Dr. Browning,” Beck said. “I guess you,
um…saved my life.”
Browning smiled. “Told ya you’d like me by the end of
“Don’t get carried away, Browning,” Beck said, grabbing
Kelly-bell up and slamming her into a bulkhead.
“You’re too late,” Kelly-bell said serenely. “We’re
almost there. All I have to do is–”
Suddenly Ops pitched sideways as the starscape outside
the windows spun around.
“What’s happening?” Bradley asked, grabbing onto a nearby
station for support. Through the static on the viewscreen
he saw the Explorer swing around and latch on with a tractor
“It’s the Explorer!” Browning called out. “They’re
pulling us away from the Bermuda Expanse!”
“No!” Peterman shrieked, pushing Beck away. “It can’t
“Gotcha!” Baxter said victoriously. “Lana…pull us
“Playstation is still being dragged in,” Richards
“Not if I can help it,” Baxter said. “Lt.
Hartley…are the tri-cobalt devices ready yet?”
“Loaded and ready, Captain,” Hartley replied.
“Launch!” Baxter cried.
The blue twinkling balls of light lept from the
Explorer and connected with Playstation’s connecting tube,
causing the saucers to fly apart like twin frisbees.
“The Directors have left the remainder of Playstation
alone,” Hartley said. “Guess whatever they want isn’t there
“Well, it’s about time something went right around
here,” Baxter said, leaning back in his chair. “Pull us
back, Lana. Hartley, make sure none of the other Happy
ships try to make for–”
That’s when the Explorer and the ops deck it had in
tow jerked forward towards the Bermuda Expanse.
“Now WE’RE being dragged in!” Hartley cried out.
“Lana…full reverse! Break us free!” Baxter ordered.
Lana threw up her hands in frustration. “I’ve lost
all helm control, Captain!”
“Whatever the Directors want, it must be in Ops!”
Baxter sighed. “And we have Ops, so there you have
“Just perfect,” Richards muttered.
Emperor Beck struggled to stay upright at the rear of
the Buzzy’s bridge as the helmsman frantically tried to get
past the Explorer on their dizzying path toward the
Bermuda Expanse. “How much longer until our fleet can
breach the Bermuda Expanse?”
“Not much longer,” Chrissie observed. “In just a
few seconds the Bermuda Expanse should begin pulling us in,
then it’s smooth sailing from there on.”
“So you say,” Mr. Jaroch observed from his position beside
“Are you saying Counselor Kelly-bell would let us
down?” Chrissie asked angrily.
“I am merely saying that we should not count all of
our spatial anomalies before they are hatched.”
“We’ll see about that,” Emperor Beck said. “Helm, get
us inside the Bermuda Expanse, and fast. Instruct all fleet
ships to follow.”
Commander Beck struggled to regain her footing as the
Bermuda Expanse swirled before her through the nearby Ops
viewport. She had just witnessed an exact duplicate of her
station blown apart as hers had been a year ago, and she
couldn’t say she was sad to see it go.
“You all are so outclassed,” Kelly-bell said happily.
“I have the Directors on my side.”
“This is insane!” Bradley cried. “What is she trying to
Colonel Lazlo shook his head. “It’s just as we
feared. The Aerostar must have been successful in altering
the Directors and bending them to their happy little will.”
“Exactly,” Kelly-bell purred. “And we’re about to bend
‘em some more!”
“We’ll be inside the Bermuda Expanse in less than twenty
seconds!” Hartley called out.
“Say your prayers,” Richards mumbled. “They can
tear us apart with a single thought once we’re inside.”
“Well,” Baxter said with a long sigh. “Maybe Mirk
succeeded in getting through to the other Directors.”
Suddenly the hull of the Explorer began to twist and
warp noisily as it was pulled inside the Bermuda Expanse.
The Explorer’s stardrive stretched out as if it were
made of rubber, and suddenly it and the ops deck it had in
tow snapped into the Bermuda Expanse.
“Captain…we’re losing hull integrity!” Richards
cried out. “We’re being pulled apart!”
“Increase power to structural integrity!” Baxter
cried. “Keep us afloat–whatever you have to do…just
don’t let us–”
And the Explorer was suddenly crushed like a beer can,
finally disappearing with a blink of multicolored light.
“Report!” Commander Conway said urgently, looking over
Dr. Lanham’s shoulder.
“Massive matter and energy dispacement taking place
within the Bermuda Expanse!” Lanham reported. “I just picked
up a familiar ID tag… Commander, it’s the Explorer!”
“Can we get a message through to it?” Conway asked.
“Gone?” Conway asked, bewildered. “You mean…”
“It’s not there anymore. It looks like it was
destroyed, but I’m not picking up any debris. But I am
picking up something else. Multiple signals…about twenty
starships coming through!”
“Red Alert!” Captain Green called out. “Raise
shields and arm weapons. Get a message out to Admiral McGrath.
Tell them we need those reinforcements ASAP!”
“Oh, shit,” Conway said, watching shadows loom through
the clouds on the screen.
“This is just an Oberth-class vessel…” Dr. Lanham
said quietly. “Any one of those ships coming through easily
“Captain, report from Waystation. The Venture and the
Darthmouth will be at our position in ten minutes,” the
tactical officer reported.
“In ten minutes we’ll be space dust,” Conway said.
“Prepare for evasive action,” Green ordered,
resting his hands on the helm officer’s chair.
“They’re coming through,” Lanham reported.
Commander Conway moved around to the front of the
bridge and watched as the ships pushed through the swirls of
clouds on the screen…and were snapped back as if they were
attached to a rubber band.
Conway wiped his forehead wearily and looked back.
“Could someone please explain that one for me?”
“Helm!” Captain T’poo shouted as the Buzzy wrenched
backwards through the clouds of the Bermuda Expanse. “Get
us under control!”
“Negatory on that one, good buddy,” the helm officer
replied. “Thrusters and guidance are off-line.”
Lt. Commander Chrissie ran his hands over the
science console madly. “I don’t get it. Counselor Kelly-
bell was supposed to have everything ready for us! The
Directors were supposed to let us through!”
“It appears you were mistaken,” Jaroch reasoned, as the
Buzzy flew backwards through the Bermuda Expanse along
with the other Funships, snapping back into their former universe
T’poo studied the panel next to his command chair.
“Your Happyness, all of our ships are returning to their
Emperor Beck cracked her knuckles. “That damned
Kelly-bell. This is her fault.”
“Emperor! Rebel ships bearing down on us fast!” Jaroch
Chrissie slammed a hand against his panel. “That
trip through the Bermuda Expanse somehow drained all our
shields. We are defenseless!”
T’poo looked up at Lisa-love expectantly. “What should we
“Well,” Lisa-love replied, “I suppose we have only
one option left. “Get us the hell out of here!”
“You heard her,” T’poo said, looking to his helmsman.
“Send to all ships: Retreat!”
Captain Baxter awoke to a feeling not unlike being on
the ancient Earth amusement known as “The Zipper.”
As soon as he stopped spinning around, he made the
risky venture of opening his eyes.
And he was greeted by a welcome sight indeed.
“Kelly…” Baxter said quietly, reaching up and
touching her face. “Is it really you? The Explorer was
destroyed. I thought I was dead…”
Peterman put a finger to Baxter’s lips. “Ssssh.
Everything’s going to be fine, lovemuffin. You’re in good
Baxter looked at his surroundings. “We’re in the
middle of the Bermuda Expanse!”
“Observant little feller, aren’t you?” Peterman asked,
wrinkling her nose and giving Baxter a mischievous grin.
“So, are you an inventory boy in your universe too?”
“Huh?” Baxter asked. In lieu of an answer, Peterman
reeled back and cold cocked Baxter hard across the face,
sending him spinning through the gaseous infinity.
“Simplistic moron. Try to interfere with my plans,
will you,” Counselor Kelly-bell said, rubbing her hand and
shaking out the soreness from the impact with Baxter’s face.
That done, Kelly-bell turned to see what was happening
with the Directors. The subtle empathic link that she had
with the Directors since that damned Lt. Hartley’s
interference last year told her that something was wrong.
And her fears were answered when twenty starships
blazed by, flying back towards the universe from whence they
came. What could have done that?
Before Kelly-bell could ponder the situation any
further, a hand gripped her by her hair and jerked her
“Yo, bitch!” a familiar voice said. “That’s my
boyfriend you just whacked. If anyone’s going to push him
around here it’s going to be me.”
Kelly-bell’s head was twisted around so that she could
see the face of her attacker. It was her. Her.
“Well well well. We finally meet. I knew you were
out there somewhere,” Kelly-bell said sweetly. “Tell me, are
you as powerful in your universe as I am here?”
“Let’s…find…out!” Peterman said angrily, swinging
Kelly-bell around by the arm and tossing her into another
“What is this?” Kelly-bell asked, looking around the
ring. “This is called evening the score,” Peterman
said, pulling on a pair of boxing gloves. “Your Directors
and ours are duking it out. Care to wager on who’s going to
“We’ll see,” Kelly-bell said, pulling a pair of gloves
of her own on. “But right now I wouldn’t worry about that.
I’d worry about yourself.”
“Big talk, little bitch. Let’s see if you can back it
up!” Peterman cried, jabbing repeatedly at Kelly-bell as the
bell dinged the beginning of a new round.
Captain Baxter opened his eyes a second time to see
that he was still floating lazily throughout the Bermuda Expanse.
Every time he swam in the Directors’ domain he felt as if he
was trapped in the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” cartoon.
“Hi, Captain!” Dr. Browning said as she floated by in the
opposite direction. “Do you have any idea what’s going on?”
“I know Kelly knocked the hell out of me,” Baxter
said. “But I don’t think it was my Kelly. I think it was
an alternate one.”
“Confusing, ain’t it?” Browning asked.
“Sure is,” Baxter agreed.
Mirk watched patiently as the two eyeballs went at
each other. He had lost count of how many rounds had gone
by, but he knew it was a lot. Anyway, time had no real
meaning here so he could have been in there for months for
all he knew.
There had to be some way he could help. But what did
he know? He was just a little Maloxian from the other
side of the galaxy. What could he do against two grappling
Lt. J’hana watched the eyeballs combat with
appreciation. “Interesting, is it not, Mr. Mirk?”
“I can probably think of a few words that suit better
than ‘interesting,’” Mirk said.
“Well, that happy eyeball deserves whatever it gets.
It forced me to count out marbles,” J’hana said with a
“Eat mat, bitch!” Counselor Peterman cried, shoving
Counselor Kelly-bell’s face into the floor of the boxing
“You don’t know who you’re messing with,” Kelly-bell
replied, flipping Peterman over her shoulder. “I remember
when I was like you. Someone who counseled, consoled, and
healed the mentally divergent.”
“It’s a living,” Peterman replied, bouncing herself
off the ring and slamming into Kelly-bell.
“It’s a disgrace. Counselors in your universe have no
power…no control over anything. You just sit and listen
to whiny, pedantic nonsense all day long.”
Peterman grabbed the back of Kelly-bell’s head and
yanked back on her mane of black hair. “I…help…people!”
“And…I…hate you for it!” Kelly-bell replied,
jabbing an elbow into Peterman’s stomach.
Captain Baxter swam through the cloud towards the ring
where the Directors were fighting. “Mr. Mirk…report!”
“Captain, I don’t know what to tell you. They’re two
omnipotent beings duking it our for supremacy over the
universe. It’s pretty much a stalemate at this point.”
“But one of them’s unstable,” Baxter said. “There’s
got to be an advantage there.”
“Well, the one person here who knows how to deal with
unstable personalities is busy kicking her alternate
counterpart’s ass in that ring over there,” Mirk offered.
Baxter glanced over his shoulder at the two Petermans.
“We’ve got to help her…so she can knock some sense into
that yellow eyeball and end this!”
“I wouldn’t get involved if I were you, Captain,”
J’hana said. “The alternate Counselor Peterman appears to
be a fiery sort.”
“Scared, J’hana?” Baxter asked.
“Hey, she’s your girlfriend.”
Baxter thought a moment. “You’ve got a point, J’hana.
It scares me, but you’ve got a point.”
J’hana made an odd four-fingered salute as Baxter
breast-stroked off towards the two Petermans. “May the hive
mother protect you, Captain!”
Kelly-bell bodyslammed into Peterman and grabbed her
throat, slamming her head repeatedly into the mat. “Where
is your great empathy and concern now, huh? Where’s all
that psychological training you went through getting you?
Peterman dug her fingers into Kelly-bell’s face. “You
are the biggest bitch!”
“Your little threats aren’t very impressive, Couns–”
Kelly-bell said, when suddenly something slammed into her,
knocking her across the ring.
Pushing off the dazed Kelly-bell, Captain Baxter
straightened his uniform and offered Peterman a hand.
“Usually I don’t hit girls. But in this case I think I’ll
make an exception.”
Kelly-bell wiped blood from her mouth. “Think you can
outfight your girlfriend, inventory-boy? Fine! Bring it
Peterman pushed Baxter aside angrily. “Andy, this
is my fight. Why do you have to go butting in?”
Kelly-bell slammed her foot into Baxter’s face with a
roundhouse kick before he could reply.
“Stop that!” Peterman said, ramming a fist into Kelly-
bell’s face, sending her to the mat. “I’m trying to have a
discussion with my boyfriend here!”
“Listen, Kelly, usually I’d be happy to let you fight
your own battles. But right now the Directors need you to
help them defeat Mr. Smiley-face over there. Mirk’s
thinking is that you can somehow talk him out of this.”
“What about her?” Peterman said angrily, looking down
at Kelly-bell and kicking her in the stomach as she tried to
get up. “Did I tell you you could get up, bitch?”
Baxter shrugged. “I’ll take care of her.”
Peterman winked. “Just make sure you’re hitting her
and not hitting on her. She’s quite attractive.”
“But she’s no Kelly Peterman,” Baxter said, reaching
forward and kissing Peterman passionately.
“Actually…” Peterman said as Baxter pulled away.
Suddenly a hand yanked Baxter down to the mat.
“Come on, boyfriend, let’s rock!” Kelly-bell shrieked,
slamming Baxter into the mat.
“Andy!” Peterman cried.
Baxter winced as he was slammed into the mat. “I’ve
got it under control, hon, just get over there and stop that
insane eyeball, or we’re all goners!”
Peterman quickly pushed off the mat and moved off
through the clouds, hoping Baxter knew what he was getting
“Energy surges within the phenomenon are increasing,”
Dr. Lanham reported, hunched over the science console.
“They’re going off the scale. There’s some kind of massive
interchemical reaction going on in there…building up past
“More ships coming through?” Conway asked, looking
back at Lanham.
“Negative. All the ships are gone. But there are
still a lot of sporadic lifeform readings.”
Conway leaned against the railing in front of the
viewscreen tiredly. “What in the hell is going on over
Commander Beck swam through the gaseous infinity of
the Bermuda Expanse, pushing past Klingons and scrambling
toward a familiar face. “Dr. Browning! What’s happening?”
“We’re in the Bermuda Expanse, Commander. Isn’t it
Beck looked around. “Extremely. May I ask why we’re
“I think the evil Counselor Peterman wants to join
forces with the god-like entities that control the
Bermuda Expanse and take over the universe.”
“Oh. What should we do?”
Browning watched Fresca and Singer drift by, locked in
combat with two vicious looking Klingons. Behind them,
Bradley Dillon was having a heart-to-heart with Braddie Dillon,
and it appeared that he was making progress. “I don’t know. I
think at this point all we can do is watch.”
“Great,” Beck said.
“I really wish I had brought my imager. At least then
I could be taking pictures of this. I mean, what are the
chances of this happening again?”
“Not very good,” Beck admitted.
“Oh, well, maybe that’s for the best.”
Beck nodded. “Probably.”
“I see you left the Captain to tend to your business,”
J’hana said, as Peterman moved purposefully toward the ring
where the Directors were fighting.
“I’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Peterman said, jumping
up into the ring.
“Are you going to try and beat up that eyeball again?”
J’hana asked. “You know, we tried that once.”
“No, no. I’m not going to beat up that eyeball. I’m
going to do what I should have done in the first place. I’m
going to counsel it.”
“And I thought the eyeball was nuts,” J’hana said
“Tell me, Captain,” Kelly-bell said, as Baxter rammed
her face into the post at one corner of the boxing ring.
“Is this turning you on?”
“Actually, yes,” Baxter admitted. “But, as a
Starfleet officer, you just have to work through stuff like
Kelly-bell turned around and Baxter stopped
momentarily. “Listen, Captain…Andy…we shouldn’t be
fighting like this. When my eyeball wins control of this
universe I will be endowed with powers unimagined by any
corporeal being. I will be a godess. And every godess
needs a god.”
Baxter thought about that a moment. “Really?”
“Uh-huh. So whaddaya say?”
“I’d say you’d better look elsewhere, sweetheart,”
Baxter said, tossing Kelly-bell out of the ring. “I already
have a godess.”
<Excuse me, you’re in my way,> the sane Director said
as Peterman hopped into the ring. <If you don’t mind, I’m
trying to settle this disagreement like a man!>
“That’s your problem!” Peterman said, pushing the
eyeball aside and heading toward the yellow eyeball. “Ike,
listen to me! This is no way to act!”
<Stop it, stop stop stop!> the insane eyeball replied.
<I have business to finish!>
“Whose business?” Peterman asked. “Your own? I don’t
think so. This was a plan that my counterpart came up
with…and you’re just a pawn! Now what kind of omnicient
being allows himself to be treated like a pawn?”
<Well, gee, I don’t rightly know.>
“And what do you stand to gain from making Kelly-bell a
demigoddess and letting her control the galaxy?”
<Well, she said she’d hang out with me.>
“Ike, you’re a god! You can hang out with anyone you want.
You don’t need some two-bit alterna-universe tramp to have
<You do have a point there. I don’t know, she’s got me
very confused lately. I keep getting these…mixed signals
“That’s women for you, Ike. Listen, you’re confused.
This other eyeball is here to help you. Together you can
work through this and get help!”
<I don’t know. It’s all been so confusing since
that…that ray hit me.>
“Exactly,” Peterman said, “and who was responsible for
<Um, Counselor Kelly-bell.>
Peterman folded her arms. “I think you see what’s
happened, Ike. Now put things right before any more
innocents are hurt.”
“What are you doing, Ike?” Kelly-bell cried, leaping
into the ring. “Don’t let her lies confuse you. You have
to carry on with our plans! Merge with me!”
“Come back here!” Captain Baxter shouted, scrambling
through the swirling gas.
Kelly-bell ignored Baxter. “What are you waiting for?
Merge with me so we can kill all of these imbeciles!”
<I don’t think so,> Ike said pleasantly. You played me
like a harp from hell, Kelly-bell. And that’s not happy at
“NO!” Kelly-bell cried, leaping towards Peterman. “I’ll
kill you myself, you little tramp!”
<That simply won’t do,> Ike said serenely. Suddenly
Kelly-bell glowed bright red, as if on fire. She made a
small, shrill squeak as she vaporized, just inches before
slamming into Peterman.
<Was that too extreme?> Ike asked, turning to Peterman.
<It’s really hard to tell nowadays.>
Peterman let out a relieved breath. “No, Ike. I
think that was just about right.”
“Something is coming through!” Lanham reported.
“Ready weapons,” Green ordered. “Are Venture and
Dartmouth in place?”
“Aye, sir. They’re ready,” Conway reported, looking
up from the tactical console.
“Energy readings in the Bermuda Expanse are returning to
normal…” Lanham reported. “There seems to be nothing
stopping the ship from emerging this time.”
“Can you identify it?” Conway asked.
“Not until it emerges, Commander.”
The Pulitzer’s bridge crew held their breath as they
watched the dark shape emerge from the swirling chaos of
the Bermuda Expanse.
“I don’t believe it!” Conway said, watching the
Explorer fly out of the cloud.
“Sensor reports confirmed. It is the Explorer,”
“We’re being hailed,” the tactical officer called out.
“On screen,” Green said.
Captain Baxter appeared on the viewscreen looking a
little haggard but nonetheless in good spirits. “Greetings
from the other side of the looking glass, Captain.”
“Captain Baxter,” Green said, rising. “Is everything
“Very much so. If you’ll follow us to Waystation you
can hear the whole story. I think you’ll find it has
“How corny,” Lanham said, as Baxter blinked off the
viewscreen. “How can you serve with someone who has
such a cheesy sense of humor?”
“It’s not easy, that’s for sure,” Conway said.
“Captain Green, unless you have any objections, I’d say
we should get underway.”
Green looked back at Conway with a smile on his
face. “Sure, Commander. I’d be happy to.”
Lanham made a dissatisfied grunt from beside Conway.
“Damn, it’s spreading.”
Stardate 52606.8. I’m–er–happy to report that the
Explorer has returned from the Federation of Fun none the
worse for wear, despite the fact that it was actually
destroyed while inside the Bermuda Expanse. The Directors
were kind enough to put it back together and have assured me
that their efforts will not affect the warranty in any way
whatsoever. With that knowledge safely in hand, we have
rendez-voused with the saucer section and are preparing to
make our reports to Admiral McGrath.
“So, after taking control of the alternate Bermuda Expanse,
the sane Directors were able to repair your ship and
imprison those survivors that were still loyal to Counselor
Peterman?” Admiral McGrath said from his position at the front
of Waystation’s briefing room.
“That’s it in a nutshell, sir,” Baxter said, trying to
ignore the isolinear chips that were being thrown at him by
McGrath’s nephew Robby. He had heard that beating up an
Admiral’s nephew wasn’t taken lightly by Starfleet Command.
“What about Bradley Dillon’s counterpart?” McGrath asked.
“The one that Commander Beck here helped rescue in spite of
the Prime Directive?”
Beck smiled, ignoring the little barb from McGrath. “He
was remanded over to the custody of the rebels, who promised
to give him the best care available.”
“How touching,” McGrath said. “And the Bermuda Expanse
“Dr. Lanham, along with Tilleran and Porter, have
confirmed that the Bermuda Expanse is back to its normal
state. That is, inert again,” Conway said.
“And our universe’s Directors?” McGrath asked.
“They stayed behind to set everything right again with
the alternate Directors,” Peterman said. “After talking
with the… imbalanced…Directors I’m pretty sure that
they’re ready to take the straight and narrow path.”
McGrath took all that in and thought a moment. “So all
of you can conclude that further danger from the alternate
universe is minimal?”
“No one said that, sir,” Beck said. “Both mine and
Captain Baxter’s crews have encountered this alternate
universe before in circumstances that had nothing to do with
the Directors. It’s altogether possible that we’ll run into
“Very well,” McGrath said. “I’m going to reccomend that
Starfleet develops a plan to deal with members of this
universe–should we have another encoutner with them. And
if no one has anything else to add, you are all dismissed.”
“Finally,” Commander Conway sighed. “I thought we’d
never get out of here.”
“Hey, chubby!” Robby called out, pulling on Baxter’s
Baxter glowered down at the little scout. “What?”
“What’s it like being the most incompetent Captain in
“Why you little–” Baxter said, smacking Robby in the
back of the head.
“Unkie Frank, Unkie Frank! The chubby Captain hit
me!” Robby cried out, rubbing his head.
“Captain, did you hit my nephew?” McGrath asked angrily.
“For goodness sake, Admiral, I’d like to think that
Starfleet officers are beyond such petty accusations,”
Baxter said. “Commander Conway, did you see me hit that
“Me? No sir,” Conway said with a smile.
“You’ll never get through Starfleet Academy if you
don’t learn to stop telling fibs!” McGrath said, grabbing Robby
by the ear and dragging him out of the briefing room.
“Thanks, Commander. I owe you one,” Baxter said, as
he, Conway, and the rest of his and Beck’s staff left the
“Don’t mention it,” Conway said. “He’s been bugging
me all day.”
The screaming, nails-on-chalkboard sound of Andorian
easy listening music screeched throughout Starfleet Square
“What–what do you call this one?” Lt. Hartley asked in
a loud voice, wincing as the thunderous, ear-ripping sounds
assaulted her senses.
“This one is the love theme from ‘Zanthara’s Wounds’–
a seven hour epic play in which the protagonist, Zanthra, is
slowly carved and stabbed by her mates Thrandak and
“The part of Zanthra is most sought after,” J’hana
Hartley nodded and took a sip of her Andorian bile
cider. “I can believe it.”
“Mfff–J’hana,” Dr. Browning said, looking up from her
plate and trying to speak between chews. “This stuff is
“I am glad you like it,” J’hana said. “I have found
that most humans find gabavga moste distasteful.”
“Well I’m…gmfff…not must humans,” Browning grunted.
Richards watched Browning eat with skepticism. “Uh,
J’hana, what exactly is ‘gabavga’?”
“The full bladder and intestines of a ‘gabav’,” J’hana
Browning stopped chewing a moment and looked up at
“Quite full. No true Andorian would have their
gabavga any other way.”
The Doctor shrugged and kept on shoveling it in.
Richards covered his mouth with his napkin and
looked away. “Yuck. And I’m going to have to kiss you
“If you’re lucky,” Browning said between chomps.
Captain Baxter looked around the concourse of
Starfleet Square Mall as he waited outside “Nendegar’s
After waiting several minutes, he got up the gumption
to stick his head inside. “How much longer, hon?”
“Go go go!” the small, shriveled Yridian woman said,
pushing Baxter out the door. “Not time yet!”
“Jeeze,” Baxter said, pushing his nose up to the
window so he could see if he could get a glimpse of
Counselor Peterman stepping out of the dressing room.
“Enjoying the view, Captain?” Commander Beck asked
from behind Baxter.
Baxter flipped around, quickly trying to achieve a
relaxed stance but failing miserably. “Com–Commander
Beck. Hello. How are…how are you?”
“Actually I’m wondering why you’re peeping through the
window of a lingerie store.”
“There’s a perfectly good reason for it, Commander,
really there is!” Baxter said. “You see…I kind of…well,
Kelly wanted to–”
Suddenly Counselor Peterman emerged from the store,
twirling around in a skimpy neglige seemingly made of
nothing but yellow, blue, and pink feathers. “Hey, baby!
Check it out!” Peterman said, as she fell back into Baxter’s
arms. “What’s say you and I go back to the ship and start
Commander Beck raised an eyebrow. “Say no more,
Captain.” She looked at Peterman, stifling a laugh.
“That’s…very nice, Counselor.”
Upon seeing Beck, Peterman straightened and folded her
arms, attempting to look professional despite her outfit.
“Thanks, Commander. Uh, I’ll go change now, Andy.”
“Good idea,” Baxter said, smiling nervously at Beck.
“Heh heh. That’s my Kelly.”
“Indeed,” Beck said. “Enjoy the rest of your stay at
the station…” she brought the word up as if it burned her
Captain Baxter watched Beck walk away and shook his
head in amazement. “She called me sir.”
“Well, that was more than a little embarassing,”
Counselor Peterman said, adjusting her uniform top and
tucking the parcel that contained her neglige under her arm.
“She called me sir,” Baxter repeated with incredulity.
“Never mind. Let’s go try out that neglige,” Baxter
said, hurrying Counselor Peterman over to the turbolift.
“Back in business, Mr. Dillon?” Beck asked, picking up
step next to Bradley Dillon as he made his way to the
turbolift that would take him up to his the posh Dillon
“Yes, ma’am,” Bradley said proudly, watching as the
manager of “Dillon’s Supply Depot” pushed open the shudders
around his storefront and adjusted the readout beside his
door to read “OPEN.” Since the whole mess in the other
universe, Starfleet Square Mall had been shut down.
“That’s good to hear. I was worried that your little
adventure might have inspired you to move your whole
operation out to the frontier.”
“Heh-heh,” Bradley said, “well, I figured that’s what
Starfleet’s for. Besides, I think I’m better off making
money and dealing with people. Preferably people that don’t
want to kill me or turn me into a mindless vegetable.”
“So I guess you’d be averse to trying that shuttle
maneuver in a simulator on the holodeck some time?”
Bradley adjusted the collar on his suit nervously.
“Well…gee, where would the fun be in that? I mean…it
wouldn’t be real.”
“Yes, of course, you’re right. Well, you could always
take your flagship. I believe the canyons on Bontha Four
are nice this time of year. I imagine you could get a great
deal on accomodations. And you could let your Vice
President run Dillon Enterprises for a while. Oh, Bradley,
you’d have a great time.”
“You’re toying with me, aren’t you, Commander?”
“Yes, and I’m enjoying every minute of it,” Beck said
with a smile.
“Within you beats the heart of an cruel, calculating
devil-woman,” Bradley said, stepping into the turbolift.
“And don’t you forget it,” Beck said, cackling wildly
and heading off to the Andorian restaurant.
The first table she came to upon entering the
restaurant was occupied by Explorer crewmembers J’hana,
Hartley, Richards, and Browning. Putting her best diplomatic
foot forward, Beck approached the table. “Hello. I trust
you guys are enjoying yourselves?”
“Janice is,” Richards said, watching with disgust as
Browning shoveled in more Andorian cuisine.
“Yes, there is something truly inhuman about her. She
takes down zhalat ribs like no one else I know,” J’hana
“Maybe we aren’t so dissimilar after all, Dr. Browning,”
Beck said as Browning ate. “Except I like my zhalat ribs with
“Ketchup!” Browning said suddenly. “That’s what this is
“Sheesh,” Hartley said. “You’d think she’d eat the
table cloth if her plate wasn’t sitting on it.”
“Hey, in all fairness I didn’t have much time to eat
while I was in the happy universe,” Browning said defiantly as
the waiter obediently sat down a bottle of ketchup beside
“Touche,” Hartley said. “Well, as fun as this has been
I’m going back to the ship. I haven’t seen Lt. Gellar since
this whole obscene mess began, and I’m afraid I’ll miss a
minute of butt-kissing.”
“Is he still trying to make things up to you?”
Richards asked. “Lt. Hartley, that’s just horrible. When
are you going to let him off the hook?”
“When I’m darn good and ready,” Hartley said.
“Good for you, stand up for your…mff…rights!”
Browning said, as Richards fed her another rib.
“Maybe I’ll let him off the hook when I get him
trained well enough to feed me.” Hartley patted Richards
on the back and laughed her way to the turbolift.
“Hey!” Richards said. He turned to J’hana. “She
doesn’t have me trained, does she?”
“An Andorian husband in your place would be forced to
commit an ugly and disgraceful suicide,” J’hana said
solemnly as she picked at her plate. “Speaking of which, I
have had much difficulty selecting a wedding gift. Perhaps
the two of you could provide me with a list of adequate gift
items to choose from.”
Browning grabbed another rib, nibbled the meat away from
it and tossed it aside. “I’d really love some…urp…antacid.”
J’hana turned to Richards. “And for you?”
“Commander?” Baughb asked, waiting patiently for Beck
“I’ll have the fharbus, lightly toasted, with just a
little jelly, and a large v’haspant, extra cream,” Beck
said, looking up from her menu.
“Very good,” the Andorian said, taking Beck’s menu and
moving off toward the kitchen.
Beck leaned forward and rested her elbows on the
table, lazily looking around the crowded restaurant. It had
been an incredibly long couple of days. She should probably
just have her v’haspant and fharbus and head to her quarters
for a long doze. That was definitely not a bad idea, since
the Explorer crew was going to leave the station in the next
few hours, and nothing horrible had happened for quite some
time. Based on past experience, Beck knew that something
idiotic was bound to happen soon, and didn’t want to be
around when it did.
“Your v’haspant,” the Andorian waiter said, placing
the steamy cup in front of Beck.
“Thanks,” Beck said, taking a long sip from the cup
and turning her attention back to the patrons in the
restaurant and the crowd outside. One of the people
entering the restaurant caught her eye. “Hey, Craig, over
here,” Beck said, gesturing for Lt. Porter to join her.
“Good evening, Commander,” Porter said sheepishly. “I
believe you know my…friend…Lt. Tilleran. Uh, from the
“Of course,” Beck said, souring a bit. “The Betazoid.
Lieutenant Commander Morales has told me all about you.”
“All good, I hope,” Tilleran said with a smile.
“Mmm hmm,” Beck said. “So what are you kids up to?”
“We’re just here to, you know, have dinner,” Porter
said, pulling at his collar uncomfortably. “It’s a date.
Well, kind of a date. Not really a date per se. If it were a
date, I’d be picking up the tab, and I certainly–”
Tilleran glared at Porter.
”–will be picking up the tab,” Porter said, without
missing a beat.
“You’ll have to excuse him,” Tilleran said. “He’s
kind of nervous because this is his first date in…well…
let’s just say a very long time.”
It was Walker’s turn to glare. “Ariel! I thought you
promised you wouldn’t do that!”
“Oh, did I slip and accidentally read you again?”
Tilleran said innocently. “Whoops!”
“You two have fun!” Beck said, trying not to laugh at
poor Lt. Porter as he and Tilleran were seated at a corner
Commander Conway and Dr. Shar strolled into the
Andorian restaurant and looked around.
“Well, it certainly is packed tonight,” Conway said.
“We may not be able to find a table.”
“Oh, well. I wasn’t very hungry anyway,” Lana said.
“I suppose I’ll just go back to the Explorer.”
“Yes!” Conway said. “That’s a great idea! We’ll go
back to my quarters and have a nice, private–”
“Commander, over here!” Lt. Commander Richards
said. “We have two seats saved for you guys!”
“Great,” Conway muttered under his breath. “Just
After gallantly helping to seat Lana, Conway took a
place next to J’hana, collapsing into his chair with a
“What’s the matter, Commander?” Richards asked.
“You look like a man with a lot of problems.”
“The Pulitzer just left. With Dr. Lanham aboard.”
“Ah, the Pulitzer,” J’hana said. “You still miss your
“Not really,” Conway said glumly. “Let’s just say I
miss mating altogether.”
“It’s overrated,” Lana said, looking down at her menu
“Overrated?” Richards asked incredulously. “How can
you say that!”
“Easily,” Lana said, not looking up. “I have
accumulated the knowledge of eight different lifetimes.
That includes eight lifetimes’ worth of sex. I’ve had it
every possible way, in every possible position. I’ve had
men, I’ve had women. I’ve had men and women. I’ve had
gender-neutral beings. There’s really no adventure left to
The discussion was beginning to get to Conway.
“Doctor, I really don’t think you can say that there’s no
adventure left to sex. I’m sure there are lots of things
you haven’t done.”
“Oh, really?” Lana asked, amused. “Like what?”
“Well, like…” Conway leaned over and whispered
something into her ear.
“You bastard!” Lana cried, slapping Conway across the
face and pushing him out of his chair.
“What’d I say?” Conway asked, struggling to get back
into his chair.
Lana scooted back out of her chair and threw her
napkin in Conway’s face. “That would injure the symbiont
and leave me paralyzed from the waist down!”
“And?” Conway asked.
Infuriated, Lana walked over to Beck’s table and
grabbed her steamy mug of v’haspant.
“Oh, no, not again!” Conway cried, backing away
“Hope you like it hot and wet, Commander!” Lana said
angrily, dumping the v’haspant onto Conway’s crotch.
“Dr. Nelson to the Andorian restaurant, ASAP. And
bring your burn kit, Doctor,” Beck said with amusement,
rising from her chair.
“That is a waste of good v’haspant,” J’hana said
Beck bent down and examined Conway as he writhed on
the deck. “I don’t know. I think it went to a pretty good
With that, Beck and everyone at the table laughed out
Except for Dr. Browning, who tossed yet another chewed
zhalat rib over her shoulder.
As if it had a tracking device, the rib soared through
the air, finding its mark in Commander Beck’s open mouth.
The Commander staggered back, gasping for air. “Urk!”
“Uh-oh,” Richards said, as Beck’s oxygen-starved
expression turned to one of anger. “So much for being on
Commander Beck’s good side.”
“Why? What happ-“ Browning asked, when suddenly she
was yanked out of her chair by her hair and tossed into the
“Mishtak has begun again!” Baughb said excitedly as
Browning and Beck writhed in the pit. “Twice in one week!
We must be doing something right!”
THE FEDERATION OF FUN
NEAT PLACE NINE
“Well, Major?” Captain Bennie Sisko asked, stepping
down from his office and taking up a position next to Major
Kiki Nerys. “Which way is the wind blowing?”
“Reports confirmed, Cap’n Bennie,” Kiki reported.
“Most of the Federation Funforces have been obliterated.
The rest of the fleet has retreated into Klingon space.”
“What a turn,” Bennie said with a grunt. “Anything
“No, sir. It appears, at least for now, that the
rebels are in control.”
“That’s no good,” Bennie said. “I guess it’s time for
us to throw in the towel, Kiki. It won’t be long before
those rebel ships come after us, and I for one don’t want to
be around when they get here.”
“Aye, sir,” Kiki said. “Lt. Commander Daxie, Chief
O’Bri-bri, begin shutting down and ready the runabouts for
Lights began shutting down all around Ops, and all
around Neat Place Nine. The steady hum of the main reactor
slowly dissipated until it was silent.
Moments later, Captain Bennie emerged from his office
with a packed suitcase. “Well then, no time for sappy good-
byes; let’s go.”
Bennie, O’Bri-bri, Kiki, and Daxie were almost to the
turbolift when a tiny light began to blink at Daxie’s
“For old time’s sake, Bennie?” Daxie asked sweetly.
Bennie shrugged. “I suppose so.”
Daxie hit a button on her terminal, which activated
the main viewscreen.
On the screen, the wormhole blossomed open.
“Daxie, how is this possible?” Kiki asked. “I thought
the Federation of Fun sealed off that wormhole four years
“Tell that to the wormhole,” O’Bri-bri said, pointing at
Bennie watched as a mass of little grey and purple
bug-shaped ships emerged from the wormhole. “I wonder
who they are.”
“They have pretty ships,” Daxie remarked.
“They certainly do. Maybe they can help us rebuild
the empire!” Kiki said.
“Bri-bri,” Bennie said. “Do we still have the
industrial-level happyness generators on board?”
“We packed them away after we made the whole
population of Bajor happy, but I figure we can unpack ‘em.”
“Good,” Bennie said excitedly. “I want you to do just
that. Then power all those systems back up and open a
channel to the lead ship. I do believe we’re back in