Star Trek and all its references are the sole property of Paramount and Viacom Communications. Star Traks, the Secondprize, Waystation, and all their references are the sole property of Alan Decker. That tiny portion left over is ALL MINE! Anthony Butler, Copyright 1997. WARNING: The following contains mildly disturbing language and situations. I'd say it's comparable to prime time. If Seinfeld doesn't offend you, you're probably okay :)

Author: Anthony Butler
Copyright: 1997

Captain’s Log,

Stardate 51400.6. We have been traveling through an expanse of uninhabited space for weeks, with no apparent end in sight. I think the stress of our predicament is finally getting to the crew, and the reality of our plight is starting to sink in. The boredom of the last few weeks hasn’t helped any, either. Personally, I’m keeping myself occupied with a certain Counselor. Tonight is our big dinner date. Wish me luck!


“How could you do that, you big stupid jerk!” Peterman shouted, getting up and throwing her napkin in Captain Baxter’s face.

“Shhhh…Counselor, everyone can hear you,” Baxter whispered. The occupants of the Starlight Lounge had begun to stare.

“I don’t care what any of them think. Thank you for a totally screwed up evening!”

“I’m-“ Baxter said, watching Peterman stomp out of the room, the doors closing behind her. “-sorry.”

At least Baxter could appreciate how good she looked in that tight, black velvet dress.

“Great job, there,” Mirk said, approaching Captain Baxter with a towel, wiping off the table. “And I thought Starfleet Captains were supposed to be ladykillers.”

“I’m thinking of one I’d like to kill right now,” Baxter grimaced, standing up. “Your chicken needs work, Mirk.”

“Hey, I do what I can,” Mirk said, shrugging.


LOOK OUT BELOW!


“Come here, Mirk!” Lt. Hartley demanded.

“A bartender’s job is never done,” Mirk sighed, walking up to Hartley’s table. “What do you need?”

“I want some real alchohol. This Ferengi swill is doing nothing for me.”

Mirk looked Hartley up and down, she was draped casually in her chair, facing one of the large viewports. She seemed to be in a severe syntheholic stupor.

“It looks like it’s working fine.”

Hartley stood up combatively, glaring hard at the bartender. She had to cock her head upwards to be able to do so. “Listen, smartypants, I want some hard liquor-now!”

“Okay, okay.” Mirk said, starting to get really annoyed. “But you have to go with me down to the cellar.”

“What’s the matter? Scared?”

“You heard me, Hartley.”

“Fine, whatever it takes, I’m getting drunk!”


The long turbolift ride down to deck thirty-two was starting to get to Lt. Hartley. “So what’s the big deal about deck thirty- two, anyway?”

“Well,” Mirk began, “nobody has ever been down there. I’ve heard stories about that place around the lounge that would curdle milk.”

“If no one’s been down there, how do they know about what’s down there?”

“They don’t, they’re just stories.”

“Exactly.”

“My people have always been supersticious, Lieutenant, and for good reason. When you’re beaten, tortured, and enslaved for generations, you need something to hold on to.”

“That’s stupid.”

“That’s what they said about Judaism and Christianity.”

Hartley thought about that for a moment. “Listen, Mirk, this is a damn cellar, not some religious Mecca.”

“Maybe.”

Hartley just rolled her eyes.

The turbolift came to a soft stop, its doors opening onto a long corridor.

“Here we are,” Mirk said eerily.

“Let’s just get this overwith,” Hartley replied looking around the dimly lit companionway.

Mirk reached the end of the corridor and pressed his palm to the panel beside the door. “Recognize Mirk, bartender, authorization Delta three two nine.”

“Authorization accepted,” the computer said.

As the huge double doors began to part, Hartley felt a cold chill run up her spine. Maybe she could have done without the liquor.

Mirk flipped on his wrist beacon and began scanning around the massive bay.

The bartender’s beacon revealed rows and rows of shelving, carrying all sorts of different supplies. For almost an hour, Mirk and Hartley searched the huge warehouse for the desired liquor.

“Here we go,” Mirk said, his light falling upon a shelf that held rows and rows of bottles. “I knew it was down here somewhere.”

“Let’s just get it and go,” Hartley said with a bit of fright in her voice.

“What the matter, scared?” Mirk said, now starting to delight in the lieutenant’s fear.

“No, I’m just in a hurry.”

“Ha ha ha. All we have to do now is find an antigrav lift to cart all this stuff back with.”

“Okay, go find one. I’ll stay here.”

“Suit yourself. I have the palm beacon,” Mirk said, laughing as he walked away.

Hartley took a seat on one of the shelves, impatiently rapping her fingers on the metal, waiting for Mirk to return.

Suddenly Hartley heard a scream from the darkness.

“Mirk?” she asked, beginning to feel uneasy. No answer.

“Mirk?” Nothing.

Should she go try to find Mirk or make for the exit as fast as she could?

She decided to, for once at least, appeal to her better judgment and try to find the bartender. After all, without him, how could she get back with the liquor?

Hartley cautiously made her way through the darkness, calling Mirk’s name. “Mirk! Mirk! Come on, this isn’t funny!!”

Slowly moving in Mirk’s direction, Hartley came upon an unusual smell. Was that smoke?

Before Hartley could make out exactly what the smell was, the floor suddenly seemed to drop out from under her, causing her to flail wildly through the air.

“Help!” she cried.

“Do not worry Lieutenant, I will catch you,” a familiar voice said.

Suddenly, two flat, seemingly flipper-shaped objects seemed to stop her fall. “What the-“ Hartley said, looking up.

“AAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!” Hartley screamed, staring right into the face of a giant penguin. The transporter chief ran as fast as she could, slamming into a wall and falling to the ground.

“Strange,” Lieutenant Larkin said. “I suppose she did not recognize me.”

“No wonder, you look like a freaking penguin,” Mirk said from behind her.

“Perhaps you are right, Mr. Mirk, but this costume is all part of a technique prescribed by Counselor Peterman.”

Mirk looked around the room, taking note of all the Penguin- shaped candles that burned, casting an eerie glow on the room.

“I guess those are prescribed by the Counselor as well?”

“Correct. I am attempting to meditate on the nature of the penguin that is in my soul–if I do in fact have a soul. I believe that penguins play an intricate part in my creation. I assume that is why I am constantly plagued with these strange ‘penguin dreams.’”

“Interesting theory, but how does an android meditate?”

“That is the question that has confounded me. I cannot seem to find that inner light that I am striving for. A crewmate of mine on the Secondprize came from a race that heavily believed in reincarnation. He believed that he could access his past lives, and in some cases, that was not an altogether good thing. Whether good or bad, however, the experieneces were beneficial to him in reaching feelings and emotions he did not know he had. I am attempting to reach the penguin that I am certain lies within me.”

“That’s fascinating. Can I get the heck out of here, now?”

“Huh?” Lt. Hartley said, getting up and scratching her head. “I’m not even drunk yet and already I have a headache.”

“Certainly, Mr. Mirk. The ladder is directly behind you.”

Mirk walked over to Lt. Hartley. “Come on, Lieutenant, it’s time to go.”

“What the heck is going on?”

“We accidently stumbled into Lt. Witzmann’s ‘Zen Room.’”

Hartley looked around at all the candles and penguin posters that lined the room. “This is way too wierd.”

“I agree,” Mirk said. “Let’s go.”

Mirk and Hartley quickly began to climb up the ladder, when suddenly one of the supports snapped, causing the ladder and its occupants to fall backward, right into Lieutenant Larkin.

In the process of falling, the ladder also knocked over one of the many candles in the room.

Unfortunately, the candle ignited the ornate penguin- decorated oriental rug that Larkin was using for her meditation.

“That is unfortunate,” Larkin, said, climbing out from under the ladder.

“How do we get out of here?” Hartley asked, picking herself up.

Mirk glanced over at the barrels that surrounded the room fearfully. “Hey, Larkin, do you know what’s in those containers?”

“I had never thought to check. Why, do you suppose there could be some sort of-“

As if to answer the android’s question, one of the barrels exploded violently.

“We must depart,” Larkin said, watching her wonderful Penguin temple go up in flames.

“I agree!” Hartley shouted, dropping into a fetal position.

In an attempt to control the flames, Larkin quickly ran over to one of the many twisting pipes that lined the bulkhead and ripped it off the wall. Water gushed from it, up into the air.


Meanwhile, Captain Baxter had just awaken. After returning to his quarters after his “incident” with Counselor Peterman, he had decided to collapse on his bed. Still feeling groggy, he stumbled into the bathroom to throw some cold water on his face.

When he activated the water control, there was only a brief buzzing noise. “Hmmm. That’s odd.”

“Warning. Malfunction in environmental conduit thirteen, water pressure critical,” the computer stated calmly.

“So what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Baxter’s question was answered when the sink exploded in a torrent of water that sent him reeling backward into the durable stainless steel towel rack that was bracketed to the bulkhead behind him. Had there been a towel on the rack, the injury to Baxter’s head would have been far less extreme.


Back in the bowels of the ship, the water suddenly stopped flowing before the fire had gone out.

“Sealing environmental conduit thirteen,” the computer said serenely. “Now initiating fire protocols.”

“What does that mean?” Mirk asked.

“The fire will be surrounded by an airtight field until it is put out,” Larkin said.

“Well, what if the fire has taken over the entire room?” Hartley asked fearfully.

“Then the room will be sealed off,” Larkin said matter -of-factly.

“Well, we are in the room!” Hartley said, starting to panic.

“Oh, that is correct, humans and Maloxians require oxygen. I am sorry.” Larkin said.

“SORRY?? SORRY??” Hartley screamed.

“Don’t worry, Megan, everything will be fine,” Mirk said, grabbing her and Larkin.

“You better not be doing this just to get a cheap feel,” Hartley said defiantly.

“Just wait,” Mirk said, starting to try and push himself upward. Nothing happened.

“I can’t breathe!” Hartley gasped.

“Hold on!” Mirk said, wondering why those wonderful flying powers hadn’t kicked in yet.

“What do you plan to do, Mr. Mirk?” Larkin asked. Mirk was wishing she would shut up, it was probably that damn heavy penguin suit that was weighing them down.

“Just think of a happy thought!” A voice said in Mirk’s head.

“What kind of happy thought should I think?” Mirk asked the voice.

“Something that makes you happy, how the hell should I know, I’m just a stupid voice,” the voice replied angrily.

“Oh,” Mirk replied, slowly conjuring a picture in his mind of the lovely Ensign Kessler draped on a giant heart-shaped bed.

Mirk, Hartley, and Larkin suddenly skyrocketed through the opening in the ceiling.

“What the hell?” Hartley screamed.

“Just shut up and hold on,” Mirk said, feeling a little ashamed, but nevertheless aroused.

The three crewmembers flew with accelerating speed through the cargo bay, approaching the door.

“Computer, emergency, open the door now!” Mirk yelled. There was only a buzz. The computer must be malfunctioning.

“COVER YOUR HEADS!” Mirk shouted, as the three crashed right through the door and down the corridor, landing in a heap in the turbolift.

“Deck ten,” Larkin said calmly, looking down at Mirk and Hartley. “I am sorry if my meditations caused you any inconvenience.”

“Don’t mention it,” Hartley said, losing conciousness.


Upon returning to the bar, Mirk went straight to the back room to find the first aid kit. He and Hartley were banged up quite a bit and he hoped that he could find some pain suppressants to help ease the suffering.

As he rooted through the contents of the back room, Mirk stumbled upon several cases of various alchoholic beverages. Funny, he had never thought to check there before.

“Hey, Hartley!” he shouted, carrying out the cases. “I found all the liquor you could ever want!”

Mirk set the cases down on the counter, just in time to encounter a series of beatings from the transporter chief.

“You mean we never had to go down there!” she shouted, pummeling him in the stomach.

“Sorry, here’s a bottle of Aldebran whiskey on the house.”

“Thanks!” Hartley said, grabbing the bottle, uncorking it and tossing the liquid back into her mouth.

“Where did Larkin go, anyway?” Mirk asked.

“Oh,” Hartley said between chugs. “She left. She said she was very sorry for the whole mess.”

“Yeah, I’m sure.” Mirk said, stepping back behind the bar.


GROWING PAINS


Suddenly, one of the doors to the Starlight Lounge wheezed open, revealing an extremely annoyed Doctor Browning.

All eyes were on Doctor Browning as she made her way to the bar and sat down beside Lt. Hartley.

Mirk seemed extremely scared. “Something….to…eat…Doctor?”

“BROCCOLI!” Browning screamed, bursting into tears and putting her head down on the counter.

Mirk patted Brown’s head understandingly. “You just tell Uncle Mirkie what’s wrong, hon.”

“I gained four pounds!” Browning cried.

“That’s not so bad. It’s definitely not fatal.”

“You don’t understand, I don’t ever gain weight! Something is wrong, terribly wrong.” Browning continued to sob.

“Hmmm. I guess that is…um…tragic.”

“Yes, yes it is.”

“Maybe it has something to do with being in the Delta Quadrant?”

“That’s what I suspect. But, it doesn’t matter why! I have to go on a diet now, or I’ll explode or something.”

“I’m sure you won’t explode,” Mirk said comfortingly.

“How do you know? Besides, I had my physical today, and it’s all in the official report, and there is a certain weight requirement for senior officers.”

“Tell that to Scotty,” Mirk laughed.

“ARRRRGH!!” Dr. Browning grunted, slamming a fist down on the bar.


“What a day,” Lt. Commander Richards said, unlocking the door to his quarters. All he wanted to do was sleep. He had spent three hours trying to take care of the fire on deck thirty-two. The fire had blown up ten barrels of brenium, which had caused all sorts of havoc–from buckled bulkheads to a malfunctioning water conduit system. He still had two teams working down there through the night.

Just as Richards hit his sheets, his door beeped.

“Ugggg. Come…” he murmurred.

Richards didn’t even look up to see who it was, he just heard muffled footsteps run to his bed and then felt something jump on top of him.

“Erg!” Richards said. “You’re crushing me!”

“That’s not funny!” Doctor Browning said. “I had my physical today, and found out I gained four pounds!”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“I’m not. What am I going to do?”

“Beats me, don’t eat as much,” Richards said, now faced with the dilemma of whether or not to go to sleep.

“Well, I don’t want to go to that extreme. I’m having the chemistry lab do a bunch of research. I swear this to you, Christopher…I will never go hungry again!”

“Honey, I don’t want to scare you,” Richards said, sitting up. “But I’ve heard a LOT of bad things about the Chem lab.”

“I don’t care. If they don’t find a way for me to eat as much as I want to, then, by golly, I’ll find a way–even if it takes me the rest of this century.”

“Well, if that’s how you feel, honey, then I support you one hundred percent.”

“Great,” Browning said, standing up. “Let’s eat.”


The next morning, Doctor Browning stumbled into sickbay, extremely tired. She had tossed and turned the entire night before. Lt. Commander Richards had convinced her to have a light supper–told her that she would feel better if she didn’t pig out on junk food. She did as she was told and was plagued the entire night with nightmare upon nightmare, all in some way involving her being eaten by one of the four major food groups.

“Morning, Doc!” Nurse Bailey said happily.

“Cram it, Brenna,” Browning said, going straight for her office to get a cup of coffee.

Bailey just shrugged and continued her rhytmic oil rubdown of Ensign Ford.

“A little to the left, Nurse,” Ford said, his voice dripping with pleasure.

“Are you sure that the doctor on your last ship prescribed daily morning massages for you?” Bailey asked suspiciously.

“Of course. In her words, it is a matter of life or death.”

“Okay, well, I wouldn’t want you to die, but I don’t see what hot oil rubdowns have to do with life and d–”

“What the heck are you doing, Brenna?” Doctor Browning asked, returning to the main Sickbay area with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

“I’m giving Ensign Ford his prescribed massage.” Jenkins explained.

Browning was fuming. “You’re pulling that crap with her now, are you?” She glared at the ensign. “Get the heck out of my sickbay, you perverted creep!” Browning followed Ford out the door and yelled down the corridor after him, “And don’t come back until you’re REALLY injured!!!”

The Chief Medical Officer glared at Bailey as she returned to Sickbay. “Don’t let him pull that crap with you, Brenna.”

Bailey just wiped off the medtable and began setting up the diagnostic equipment for the day. “I guess you’re right, doc.”

Browning just shook her head. “Any other cases yesterday that I should know about?”

“Well,” Bailey said. “Captain Baxter was knocked unconcious when a water conduit busted in his quarters, but we were able to patch him up.”

“Good to hear,” Browning said.

Just then, Browning’s communicator beeped. “Lt. Elton to Doctor Browning. We have completed tests on a new serum that is garanteed to return you to your former bouyance.”

“You mean I can eat whatever I want again?” Browning asked.

“That’s right, Doctor.”

“That’s wonderful news, Mr. Elton. I’ll be there in a flash!” Browning said, grabbing her labcoat and heading for the door.

The door parted before she reached it, admitting a badly injured looking Ensign. He was covered in blood and clutching his hand, which was wrapped in cloth.

“Doctor Browning! I was in engineering, and Ensign Sanchez accidently hit me with a phasertorch!”

“Oooo. That looks painful,” Browning said, still moving. “Nurse Bailey will help you.”

“Hi, what’s up?” Bailey asked as the ensign collapsed on the floor, losing conciousness from loss of blood.


“Here we go, Doc,” Lt. Elton said, handing a hypospray to Doctor Browning. “The secret to eternal life….HA HA HA H-oh, wait a minute, wrong hypospray. Here ya go, this is the diet one.” Elton sat the other hypo down, raking it into a drawer and slamming it shut. “That is something…else we’re working on. Anyway, enjoy!”

Browning seemed a little nervous. Did these guys really know what they were doing? Browning decided it was worth the risk to be able to eat regularly again, jamming the hypo into her arm.

“Thanks,” Doctor Browning said, setting the hypospray down and leaving.

“Don’t mention it!” Lt. Elton said mischievously. Once Browning was gone, he turned to one of his assistants. “Ensign Krantz, what did I tell you about leaving our other experiments lying around!” Elton said, slapping the ensign on the back of the head.

“What is going on here?” Lt. Ariel Tilleran, Chief Science Officer, asked, glaring at the two officers.

“Oh, nothing out of the ordinary,” Elton said, smiling broadly.

“Don’t lie to me!” Tilleran said, fuming. “You can’t lie to Betazoids!”

Elton and Krantz stopped laughing. “Oh,” Elton finally said. “Sorry. Well…um…”

“Save it,” Tilleran fumed, stomping back to her office.


Doctor Browning returned to sickbay, feeling extremely strange. She couldn’t quite tell what she was feeling, but she just passsed it off as reaction to the medicine. It was a relatively slow day, except for treating that ensign that had stumbled in earlier. He was in pretty bad shape, seeing as Bailey had accidently given him a huge dose of nitrous oxide instead of the standard dose of blood clotting agents. He laughed himself right into a coma, as a matter of fact.

“I’m leaving now, okay, Doc?” Bailey asked, peering into Dr. Brown’s office.

Browning didn’t even look up. “Sure, go ahead. See you tomorrow. Oh, any improvement in Ensign Dunbar?”

“Oh, the guy I accidently made comatose? He’s still in a coma. But at least he’s smiling.”

“At least,” Browning said, grimacing as Bailey left.

Dr. Browning spent the next hours silently finishing up on medical reports. When her shift ended, she switched off her desk monitor and left sickbay, just as Nurse Luntley came in to take over.


Dr. Browning made her way into Mirk’s place to test out the eating serum.

“How about a big bowl of Mirk’s special chili, Mirk?” Browning asked sitting down at the bar.

“S-sure thing, Doctor.” Mirk said, turning around and activating the replicator.

“What’s your problem, Mirk?” Browning asked, as the bartender shakily sat down her chili.

“Are you trying some new sort of makeup, Doctor?”

“No, why?”

“Well…” Mirk said, reaching below the bar and pulling out a mirror. “Look.”

Dr. Browning jumped back. She was blue.

“What the heck did they do to me?” she asked, stumbling over her chair, backing away from the mirror like it was going to attack her.

Ensign Ford was nearby and noticed the scene. “Oh, poor Doc Browning, Uncle Zack is here to help you,” Ford said, rushing toward Browning with arms outstretched.

When the Ensign tried to put his arms around the Doctor, he bounced off her, slamming up against the bulkhead and falling to the ground.

“What the hell?” Mirk said, astonished.

“This is really confusing!” Browning cried.

Lt. J’hana was just entering the lounge, and stared at Dr. Browning’s new complexion with satisfaction. “I like the new look, Doctor.”

“THIS ISN’T FUNNY!” Browning shouted. She turned to rush out of the lounge, but as soon as her foot hit the deck, it bounced up, sending her up toward the ceiling. Like a rubber ball, she hit the ceiling and bounced back on the floor, then back up to the ceiling. The doctor bounced right out the lounge doors, ricocheting down the long corridor toward the turbolift.

“Look out!” Mirk shouted down the corridor.

J’hana watched the doctor bounce down the corridor with horror. “J’hana to security. I need a team down on deck ten, section one, on the double.” That done, J’hana took off down the corridor.

“Careful, Lieutenant!” Mirk called out after her.

“What happened?” Ensign Ford said, rubbing his head. The rest of the occupants of Mirk’s lounge were expressing a similar sentiment.


Meanwhile, Commander Conway was just leaving the holodeck. “Ahh, nothing like a spin around the Nascar track to get the adrenaline pumping.”

“Look out!” he heard Lieutenant J’hana say. What was her problem? Conway turned to see the ship’s Chief Medical Officer tumbling down the corridor.

“Holy crap!” Conway yelled, diving for the deck.

The doctor touched down inches away from the first officer. Conway got up and caught his breath. “What the hell is going on, J’hana?”

“No time to explain!” J’hana cried, chasing after Browning.


Lt. Larkin was on her way down to engineering when the turbolift stopped on deck ten. The doors parted to reveal Lt. Hartley.

“Hello, Lieutenant,” Hartley said blandly.

Larkin looked past Hartley to see Doctor Browning bouncing toward them. Her massive CPU was not powerful enough to accurately process what was going on. However, her instinct program was set to preserve all human life, which in this case meant pushing Lt. Hartley out of the turbolift and into the bulkhead.

“Hey, what gives?” Hartley cried, picking herself up.

Suddenly Doctor Browning flew past her and into the turbolift, as the doors promptly closed.


When the tubolift finally reached deck twenty-four, Larkin had been pounded almost to a pulp.

“Urp…he..prrrrrrr…zztt…help…” Larkin fizzled.

Doctor Browning carreened out of the turbolift and flew toward the warp core.

“Janice?” Richards asked, looking up from the day’s warp core diagnostics. The doctor was bouncing right towards him and the warp core. She seemed to be changing colors too. At that moment she looked like a decorative fuschia. “Computer! Seal the warp core now! Authorization Richards Omega Three two three!”

Richards dived under the closing door, followed by the rest of the engineering staff. If Doctor Browning accidently hit the dilithium chamber, they’d all be dead.

Browning proceeded to bounce back and forth between the isolation door and the other side of engineering.

“Chris…help…me.! Chemistry…department…did…this…!” Browning managed to get out as she bounced back and forth.

“Those jerks! I told you not to go to them, honey!”

“SHUT…UP…AND…HELP…ME…!” Browning shouted with irritation.

“Right. Richards to Chemistry Department.”

“Elton here. What can I do for you?” Elton’s voice replied over the comm.

“My girlfriend is bouncing all over the place because of you, you bastard. What are you going to do about it?”

“Who?”

“Doctor Browning!”

“Oh. Her. Well, did you ever see the classic earth movie ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’?”

“Yeah, what about it?”

“Well, we were trying to create flubber, and…well…”

“What about the color changing thing?”

“Did you ever see ‘Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?’”

“ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGH!” Richards shouted.


J’hana reached the turbolift, breathless. She met Lt. Hartley there, who looked extremely annoyed.

“What’s going on?” Hartley asked.

“No…time,” J’hana huffed. “Wait a minute… Lieutenant…come with me to the transporter room.”


“And that’s what happened,” J’hana said as she and Hartley approached the transporter room.

“Wierd. So what are we going to do?”

“I want you to locate Dr. Brown’s comm badge and transport her into the buffer.”

“If you say so.”

Hartley manipulated the controls for a few moments. “There, done.”


“What…are…you…going…to…do?” Browning asked, becoming extremely annoyed at the bouncing. She was starting to get a real headache.

“I’m thinking, I’m thinking.” Richards said.

Suddenly, Browning was engulfed in the blue glow of the transporter beam.

“What the…” Richards said. Engineering was once again quiet.


“Now what?” Hartley asked, watching the blinking indicator lights that showed one occupant present in the transporter buffer.

“Gee, I don’t know. Ummm…” J’hana replied.

“Okay, what’s going on?” Lt. Commander Richards said, running into the transporter room.

“Well, we have Doctor Browning in the buffer, all we have to do is fix whatever’s wrong with her,” J’hana said.

“Hmm,” Richards said, looking at the transporter controls. “This could be very tricky.” Richards played around with the controls a bit, until finally a satisfied smile spread across his face. “That should do it.”

Hartley ran her fingers up the panel, energizing the transporter.

Doctor Browning materialized, seeming a little shaken, but none the worse for wear. “Man, do I have a headache.”

“How do you feel?” Richards asked.

“Oh, fine, fine. I think.”

“Well, while you were churning around in the buffer, I think I put your metabolism back to normal, but I’m not sure.”

“I don’t care, I couldn’t possibly think of eating right now,” Browning said. “I’m really nauseous. All I want to do is go to bed.”

Richards’ eyes lit up at that as he helped her off the pad and out of the transporter room.

“I’m game for a drink, how about you, Hartley?” J’hana asked.

“Sure…no one’s going to be transported since we’re not near any planets anyway,” Hartley replied, leaving the transporter room.


CRASH COURSE


Commander Conway considered himself extremely lucky after barely escaping being crushed by Doctor Browning. He shuffled back to his quarters to change out of his Nascar jumpsuit and back into a uniform.

He had almost reached his door when Ensign Fresca burst out of the adjacent turbolift.

“Oh, there you are, Commander!”

“I’m not here,” Conway said, unlocking the door to his quarters.

“This is important. I need you!”

“I don’t care!” Conway shouted, disappearing within his quarters.

“Commander, I want you to teach me how to fly a runabout!”

“Go get Ford to teach you. I’m not interested.” Conway’s muffled voice said from inside the quarters.

“But you’re the best.”

At that, Conway stuck his head out briefly. “So what if I am?”

“Well, I want to learn from the best. Besides, there aren’t many other certified pilots on board to choose from. Ford is in Sickbay…”

“Well, that is good news.”

“…and Captain Baxter’s pilot license is temporarily suspended until he recovers from the concussion he got yesterday.”

“That’s great. The answer is still no.”

“Please, Commander!” Fresca pleaded.

“Okay, okay, stop whining and give me a minute to change into my uniform,” Conway muttered.


Meanwhile, back in the chemistry department, Lt. Elton was busy concocting a new formula.

“Ensign Krantz, will you hand me the–”

Suddenly, Lieutenant Commander Richards burst into the room. “So there you are, you girlfriend-bouncing bastard!”

“Mr. Richards, what can I do–” Elton was interrupted by Richards’ fist.

“How dare you play with my girlfriend’s genetic structure like that! You could have killed her and everyone on this ship.”

“I never touched your girlfriend!”

“I mean Doctor Browning!”

“Oh, her. That was a simple mistake.”

“I’ll give you a mistake you jerk!” Richards said, throwing Elton up against a row of shelves.

“Security!” Elton croaked, tapping his comm badge.

“J’hana here. What do you want?”

“Commander Richards is trying to kill me!”

“I heard what you did. Good for him!”

“Aaaaah!” Elton screamed, as the shelving collapsed down on him.

After all of the commotion, Lt. Tilleran marched out of her office. “Could you all be a little more quiet?”

“Sorry,” Richards said sheepishly. He usually didn’t have outbursts like this.

“Thanks,” she said, storming back into her office.

Suddenly, Lt. Elton rose up from the wreckage of the shelves, glowing brightly. “Ha ha ha. Stupid mortal fool. You do not know what you have done!”

Elton jumped right through the ceiling, laughing all the way.

“My God…” Richards said.

“He really did it,” Ensign Krantz said with disbelief. “Everyone at the Starfleet science division laughed–they didn’t think it was possible. But he really did it.”

“What the hell did he do?” Richards asked.

“He made a formula that would make him the most powerful human being in the galaxy, then went insane.”

Tilleran marched back out of her office. “I thought I told you guys to keep it down!!”

“Well,” Krantz corrected, “they knew the insanity part was possible.”


“Okay. First things first,” Conway said, sitting down at the runabout Washita’s right hand pilot’s chair. “Check all your sensor screens, make sure you have clearance from shuttle bay control, then check all the safety and auxilliary systems…”

Fresca sighed, becoming impatient. “Come on, Commander, I just want to fly!”

Conway grimaced as he activated the panel in front of him. “We’re doing this by the book or not at all. Understood?”

“Got it.”

“Now, begin the preflight check.”

“Uggggh!” Fresca said, pounding the commands in on her panel.

“Very good, now you can activate the thrusters.”

“Finally,” Fresca grumbled, hitting the thruster ignition.

“Runabout Washita, you are cleared for departure. Have a nice run around the block,” Heller announced over the comm.

“Whatever, Mr. Gellar, just open those doors.”

The shuttle doors parted slowly, letting the Washita plunge out into the depths of space.


Lt. Larkin ran over her diagnostic programming one more time while she was watching over the bridge’s night shift. Everything seemed to be in order, but she had to make extra sure, due to the heavy damage she had incurred during what was now dubbed “The Bouncing Browning Incident”.

As always, Lt. Commander Richards had done an exemplery job of fixing her, but he seemed a little hurried this time, saying he had an appointment with someone up in the Chemistry department. Larkin idly wondered why as she checked and rechecked her systems.

It was a quiet night and the bridge was very lightly staffed, with Lt. Gellar at tactical and Ensign Hill at helm.

Larkin noted with curiosity that Ensign Hill had been transferred to the helm position due to fraternization with some of the engineering crew. What a terrible way to end a career. And what with the suspect nature of the helm position, it could possibly be a terrible way to end a life.

“Report, Ensign Hill,” Larkin said as she considered these factors.

“I don’t know. We’re still flying through space. And Commander Conway is giving Ensign Fresca a piloting lesson,” she said, sounding extremely bored. “I don’t know much about helming.”

“Hmm. How interesting.”

“Lieutenant!” Gellar suddenly shouted from tactical.

“What is it, Mister Gellar?” Larkin asked.

“Something really strange is happening down in the Chemistry department. I just picked up a huge energy signature, and it’s heading this way.”

“Go to red alert,” Larkin stated calmly.

The red alert sirens blared as the bridge lighting subdued and was replaced with an eerie red glow.

Suddenly, Lt. Elton from the Chemistry department burst through the floor.

“Can I help you, Lieutenant?” Larkin asked, still calm.

“No!” he shouted with a thunderous voice.

“I’ll get him!” Ensign Hill shouted, rising from her chair.

“No, Ensign, it is too dangerous!” Larkin replied.

Elton merely laughed and grabbed Ensign Hill’s head, energy surging from his hands.

Hill’s head exploded in a hail of blood and brains.

“That is a court martial offense, Lieutenant,” Larkin said sternly as the headless body hit the floor.

“Yeah, well, so is this!” Elton said, grabbing the android, twisting her head around, and slamming her against the wall. Larkin hit the wall and slid to the ground, her eyes spinning as her systems failed one by one.

“Yikes!” Gellar cried, leaping for the turbolift and disappearing behind its doors just before a bolt of lightening from Elton’s fist could connect with him.

“Computer…localize all command functions to the bridge and lock them out under this password,” Elton said, tapping some buttons on the armrest of the command chair. “The Aerostar is mine for the taking!” Elton roared victoriously.


“Now, I want you to bank hard right, then come about and engage at full impulse,” Conway commanded.

Fresca yawned. “This is so boring.”

“Do you want to know the truth, Ensign?” Conway barked, annoyed. “You don’t know the least thing about flying a runabout. You’ve twice now almost hit an asteroid–and once you almost switched off life support and gravity!”

“Jeeze, you jerk, give me a chance.”

“I wouldn’t certify you to save my life.”

“Oh, yeah?” Fresca said defiantly.

Suddenly, through the viewport behind Conway, Fresca noticed the Aerostar turn.

“Commander, where is our ship going?”

“Be quiet. I’ll tell you another thing…”

“Commander!”

Conway turned around just in time to see the Aerostar engage into warp.

“Are you crazy, follow it!!” Conway barked.

“Yes, sir,” Fresca said, engaging the runabout’s engines.


Captain Baxter met Richards and Tilleran on his way down to engineering.

“Just what the hell happened, Chris?” Baxter asked, picking up step with Richards.

“Somehow the Chief Chemist, Lt. Elton, has attained god-like powers and taken total control of the ship.”

“Can we get control back?” Baxter asked.

“He’s locked all command functions out. We have to get up there to get control,” Richards said, looking at the display on the main control panel.

“What about the bridge crew?”

“Larkin is most likely out of commission and the others are probably dead.”

“Hi guys!” Lt. Gellar said proudly, erupting from the turbolift. “I made it out of the bridge alive!”

“Well that’s just dandy,” Baxter said. “But what do we do about the lunatic that’s still up there?”

“I have an idea, sir,” Lt. Tilleran said, approaching the display console. “Lt. Elton was under my command and I feel partially responsible.”

“Don’t feel that way,” Captain Baxter said reassuringly. “Feel completely responsible!”


“We have matched speed with them, Commander. But if they go any faster, we won’t be able to follow. We’re already at our maximum velocity.”

“Great, just great.” Conway griped, getting a cup of coffee out of the replicator. “I wonder where the hell they’re going. Try hailing them.”

“Aye, sir,” Fresca said, pressing some buttons on her panel.

“This is Captain Elton of the Starship Aerostar, how my I help you?”

“Who the hell are you?” Conway barked.

“Who the hell are you?” Elton returned.

“Commander David Conway, First Officer of the Aerostar.”

“You’re fired. Have a nice day.”

Conway seemed a little taken aback. “How dare he fire me. Just who does he think he is?”

“The Captain?” Fresca offered helpfully.

“Well he’s not. Whoever he is, he’s nuts and we’ve got to stop him. See if you can get a tractor on them.”

“At warp? Are you insane?”

“Do it.”

“Okay, Mr. Death Wish,” Fresca said, engaging the tractor beam.

A beam latched onto the Aerostar, as the tiny Washita bore back on the much larger starship.


“Woah,” Richards said, as the Aerostar shook almost impercieveably. He checked the master display. “A runabout has locked a tractor beam onto us.”

“A runabout?” Baxter asked.

“Yeah, Commander Conway was giving Ensign Fresca a flying lesson,” Gellar replied.

“That’s right. What the heck can they do to help us?”

“We’ll see,” Richards said, hopefully.

“Captain, I want to go up there and try to reason with him,” Lt. Tilleran said.

“You are kidding, aren’t you Lieutenant?”

“I never kid,” Tilleran responded, heading for the jefferies tube. “And how dare you accuse me of being incompetent!”

“I didn’t say anything!” Baxter waffled.

“But you thought it!”

Baxter clenched his fist. “Damned Betazoids.”

“Whatever we do, we’d better do it before Mr. Elton decides to turn off life support or something,” Richards suggested.

“Fine. Go, Tilleran. Gellar, you go with her,” Baxter commanded.

“Come on, spanky, you’ve got to be kidding,” Gellar said. “I already escaped that place once…and you want me to go back?”

“I’m not kidding, mister, and DON’T call me ‘spanky’!”

“Ow, I guess I just hit a sore spot.”

“GO!” Baxter shouted.

“Okay, okay, I’m going.”


“Shearing force on the tractor beam is about to tear our hull apart, Commander,” Fresca reported, as sparks showered from panels all around the Washita’s cockpit.

“Keep it on. Start slowing down; see if you can reign it in.”

“That is a Nebula class starship, sir! It has a cruising speed of warp nine point four.”

“Just do it.”

The runabout shook as it began to slow down.

“Tractor beam approaching critical!”

“Keep it on!” Conway shouted, making alterations to the inertial dampening field. “Trust me, Ensign.”

“Not likely, sir.”

Conway saw the Aerostar suddenly come to a dead stop.

“Sir, they’ve stopped!” Fresca cried.

“Damn. They must be trying to shake us off,” Conway replied, grabbing on to a support beam. “Hold on!”

The small runabout overshot the Aerostar, missing it by a fraction of an inch. The tractor beam stretched like a rubber band and jerked the runabout back toward the Aerostar.

“That was close!” Conway gasped.

“Sir, we’re heading back toward the ship!”

“Son of a–!” Conway said, hitting the deck as the Aerostar grew larger and larger on the viewport.


“Incoming!” Richards shouted. “Everyone hold on to something.

Everyone held on for dear life as the runabout clanged against the starship’s hull.

The Aerostar lurched violently as the inertial dampeners made a frantic attempt to stabilize it.


“Stop this insanity, Mr. Elton!” Tilleran shouted, climbing out of the jefferies tube.

“Go away.”

“I’m not going away. I’m your commanding officer, and I demand that you release control of this ship.”

“And if I don’t?”

“Then I’ll tell everyone on board about your teddy.”

“NOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” Elton shouted.

“Hit him now, Brian, while he’s weak!”

Gellar withdrew his phaser. “Gladly.”

Lt. Elton fell back against the bulkhead as Gellar shot at him, his phaser on maximum stun.

“Increase power on your phaser, Gellar!” Tilleran shouted.

Gellar did so, and finally Elton was knocked unconcious.

“Whew,” Gellar said, sitting down at the seat normally occupied by Counselor Peterman.

“I’m glad that’s over. Let’s get him down to the brig, quick.”

“What about the command functions?”

“Oh. He passworded them. No problem. Computer, release command lockout. Password: Fluffykins.” Tilleran said. “You’ll find, Mister Gellar, that being a Betazoid is quite helpful sometimes,” Tilleran added, grabbing each of Elton’s arms and dragging the fallen officer into the turbolift.

“Obviously,” Gellar replied, grabbing Elton’s feet.


Captain’s Log,

Supplemental. The last couple of days have been hell. I guess that tired cliche about being careful of what you wish for has some merit after all. The damage that both Mr. Mirk, Dr. Browning and Mr. Elton have done is being slowly cleaned up. And thanks to Elton, Lt. Larkin is back in the shop. Mr. Richards promises me that she’ll be up and running by tomorrow’s night shift. Note for personal log: Counselor Peterman is still not talking to me.


Commander Conway lurched out of the Washita, cradling his banged up arm.

“Your flying needs a lot of work, Ensign,” he remarked, leaving the shuttle bay. Behind him, crews began to work on the badly banged up runabout.

“Come on, I wasn’t that bad!” Fresca said, chasing after him.

“Oh no? Come on, you and I both know you’re never going to be an ace pilot.”

“Maybe not, but who would you rather have piloting in an emergency? Me or Captain Baxter?”

“Good point.”


“You really think she’s that good?” Baxter asked Conway as he studied the report on his desk.

“Well, let’s just say she’ll do in a pinch. And we do need as many certified pilots as we can get.”

“Okay, fine. I’ll sign the certification.”

“What about the Elton matter?” Conway asked. “How are we punishing him?”

“Well, Dr. Browning and Lt. Tilleran say that he’s completely back to normal. After a little counseling he’ll be fine. I picked a punishment that I think perfectly fits the crime.”


“I guess you got off easy,” Ensign Krantz said, stooping down to help Elton pick the pieces of Ensign Hill’s head up off the bridge carpet.

“Shut up!” Elton screamed. “I hate brain detail. I guess I did kind of get off easy, though. And is it just me, or does Lt. Tilleran have a thing for me?”

“Stranger things, sir,” Ensign Krantz replied. “Stranger things.”


THE DATING GAME


“Good Morning, Captain!” Mirk said as Captain Baxter walked into the Starlight Lounge.

“What’s so good about it?”

“Still depressed about the Counselor?”

“No, I’m having a bad hair day. Of course I am! Does it show?”

Mirk laughed. “Like a bad toupee. What happened anyway?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, Mirk.”

“Why don’t you try me?”

Baxter hopped up on a barstool and leaned forward as Mirk poured him a tall, cool glass of grapefruit juice. “Well, I guess it all started when I asked Counselor Peterman out for dinner the other night…”


“This is so boring,” Counselor Peterman sighed, sitting back in her chair on the bridge and sighing. “There’s nothing to do around here!”

“I know how you feel,” Baxter said, watching the viewscreen with distaste. “You’re going off duty soon, aren’t you, Counselor?” Man, was he sly. She’d never see the date request coming from this angle.

“Yeah, in fifteen minutes. Why?”

“Well, I thought you might join me at Mirk’s for dinner.”

“Just me?”

“It’s no big thing,” Baxter laughed nervously. “Just a quiet meal.”

Peterman smiled. “That sounds good. How about 1900 hours?”

“Sounds perfect. I’ll pick you up at your quarters.”

“Great. Can I have off early to get ready?”

“Sure,” Baxter said, and before he knew it, she was gone. Baxter smiled, mentally patting himself on the back. That Peterman really liked him. As long as he didn’t mess anything up, it was a sure thing.


Baxter showed up at Peterman’s door at 1845, with a huge boquet of flowers and a giant raw porkchop.

Cautiously, he rang the buzzer.

“Come on in,” Petersman’s voice said over the comm.

The doors parted as Baxter stepped forward, and immdiately he spotted Charlie lunging towards him. Thinking fast, Baxter threw the porkchop.

Charlie lunged after the porkchop and began eating.

“I’ll be out in a minute,” Peterman said from the bathroom.

“Okay,” Baxter said, looking around. The room was a bit too feminine for him–covered in pictures of animals from all over

the galaxy and decorated in nothing but pastels.

Baxter wondered idly where Peterman put all her other animals.

While Peterman was getting ready, Baxter searched for a place to put the flowers he had brought. He was extremely proud of the flowers. They were carefully cultivated by the specialists in the arboretum. The specialists called the rare Klingon flower “k’taGh,” and evidently, though beautiful, they killed any creature dumb enough to eat them.

Baxter rifled through Peterman’s cabinets in search of a vase, and was shocked when from out of one cabinet jumped a huge, fluffy black cat. There was one of the animals. And one that signified bad luck at that. Baxter shuddered. He needed nothing but good omens tonight, and here was a black cat crossing his path.

“Did you let Prince out? Good. He needs the exercise.”

The cat piledrived into Baxter, knocking him down and running off with the bouquet of flowers.

“Come back here you little–” Baxter rasped, chasing after the feline.

Prince climbed a bookcase and began gnawing one of the flowers.

“Stop it! No! Bad kitty!” Baxter screamed. But it was too late. Instantly Prince stiffened and gave one last dying meow. Prince rolled off the shelving, its claws raking Baxter’s horrified face as it descended.

“Is that silly cat giving you trouble, Captain?”

“He sure is a handful!” Baxter said, grabbing the flowers up in one hand and the cat’s body in the other. “Listen, Kelly, I..uh, left something back on the bridge. Meet me at Mirk’s, okay?”


Baxter ran as fast as he could to Sickbay, getting strange looks from everyone he passed.

“Let me get this straight,” Dr. Browning began. “You killed Counselor Peterman’s cat with a poisonous Klingon flower?”

“Yeah. It was an accident.”

“I would hope so.”

“Well, can you do something about it?”

“Damn it, Andy! I’m a Doctor, not a vetrinarian.”

“This is serious, Janice.”

“There’s nothing I can do for little Prince. He’s dead as a doornail,” Browning said, gesturing down at the cat’s body on the biobed.

“Well, can we replicate another one?”

“You can’t replicate living animals with the replicators.”

“Oh, yeah. Right.”

“Just tell her the truth, Captain. If she really likes you, she’ll understand.”

“You’re right, Janice. I will. Thanks.”

“No problem. So what do I do with the corpse and the flowers?”

“They’re yours, Janice,” Baxter said, leaving sickbay.

“Gee. Thanks.”


“How could you do that, you big stupid jerk!” Peterman shouted, getting up and throwing her napkin in Captain Baxter’s face.

“Shhhh…Counselor, everyone can hear you,” Baxter whispered. The occupants of the Starlight Lounge had begun to stare.

“I don’t care what any of them think. Thank you for a totally screwed up evening!”

“I’m-“ Baxter said, watching Peterman stomp out of the room, the doors closing behind her. “-sorry.”

At least Baxter could appreciate how good she looked in that tight, black velvet dress.

“Great job, there,” Mirk said, approaching Captain Baxter with a towel, wiping off the table. “And I thought Starfleet Captains were supposed to be ladykillers.”

“I’m thinking of one I’d like to kill right now,” Baxter grimaced, standing up. “Your chicken needs work, Mirk.”


“And that’s where you came in,” Baxter said, downing his third glass of grapefruit juice. “I’ve been moping around ever since. I just can’t get her out of my mind.”

“That’s really sad,” Mirk said, looking over Baxter’s shoulder. “If only she was here you might be able to buy her a drink and try to make it up to her.”

“Yeah,” Baxter said. “If only.”

“Well, there she is…” Mirk pointed at a table in the far corner of the Starlight Lounge. Counselor Peterman was staring into a glass of orange juice and watching the stars fly by.

Mirk slid a glass into Baxter’s hand and smiled. “Here you go, sir. Humans call this a ‘pink squirrel.’ It’s the Counselor’s favorite.”

“Thanks, Mirk,” Baxter said, hopping off his stool.

“That’s what I’m here for,” Mirk replied. “Now go get her, tiger.”

Baxter walked over to Peterman’s table and sat the glass down in front of her. “Hi, Kelly. Here…this is on me. I hear it’s your favorite.”

Peterman glared at the drink. “It’s oh-eight hundred hours, Andy. Why would I drink synthehol fifteen minutes after waking up?”

“Right. It’s morning. That silly Mirk. He still hasn’t quite got the hang of human drinking habits.”

Peterman didn’t look up. “I’ll just stick with my orange juice, thank you very much.”

Baxter floundered, swaying back and forth on his heels. “Nice view, huh?”

Peterman didn’t even turn her head. “Stop trying to make small talk, Captain. I’m not in the mood.”

“Well, we’re one step up from ‘stupid jerk’.”

“Don’t bet on it.”

“Ouch,” Baxter said, wincing. “Listen, Couns…Kelly, I want to try and make things right. I hear Nurse Bailey’s cat just had kittens. I think she might be willing to give you one.”

“That won’t replace Prince.”

“No, nothing will replace Prince. You might say, though, that he’s not really dead as long as we remember him. But really, it’s not like I killed him on purpose.”

“But you did do something pretty stupid,” Peterman said, almost smiling.

“Well that’s not a sin, you know. Ha. Good thing too.”

“In your case, yes,” Peterman remarked.

“May I sit down?”

Peterman sighed. “I guess so.”

Baxter did a little mental victory dance and sat down.


Ensign Ford grimaced as he watched Peterman and Baxter talk amiably. Why was such a beautiful woman wasted on him? He just couldn’t understand.

Just then, Ford watched as Lt. Elton entered the lounge with Lt. Tilleran on his arm.

“Is it just me, Mirk, or is everyone on this ship pairing off like it’s Noah’s ark?”

“Noah’s what?”

“Never mind.”

“You know, Mr. Ford, the desire to breed is a natural instinct. Especially when you’re crammed in a ship that’s stranded far from home.”

“Tell me about it,” Ford replied, eyeing Lt. Hartley. “Hey, Lieutenant, have you driven a Ford lately?”

“No,” Hartley said flatly, pouring her hot cup of coffee right on Ford’s crotch. “And I don’t plan on it.”


PULP AND CIRCUMSTANCE


“How many?” J’hana asked, drawing her phaser and rechecking the settings as her and Lt. Gellar descended toward deck eighteen.

“Three…maybe four.”

“Armed?”

“Not sure.”

“Damn. We should have phaser rifles.”

“No kidding,” Gellar said, withdrawing his tricorder. “We’re almost there.”

“I know. It’s this part of the job that makes me tense.”

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

“I didn’t say it was, human.”

“Right.”

“What time is it, Gellar?” J’hana asked, as they reached the proper door.

“0755.”

“It’s not quite time yet. Let’s wait a couple minutes.”

J’hana and Gellar paced the deck.

“So, I hear Captain Baxter is dating Counselor Peterman,” Gellar said, in an attempt to make smalltalk.

“That is a rumor,” J’hana said, checking the level on her phaser a second time. “They are merely friends.”

“Then what were they doing in Mirk’s this morning?”

“Having breakfast together.”

“Sounds like they’re dating to me,” Gellar replied.

“Oh, so a man and a woman can’t have breakfast together without it meaning something?” J’hana asked, irritated.

“It depends on what you call breakfast. If it’s a muffin, no. Eggs and bacon…that’s a date.”

“What if you eat a bowl of ground up nocturnal Andor zhrarg rats in curdled vorba milk and read security reports. What does that mean?”

“It means the Andorian Security Chief is married to her work.”

“Very good. So, why do humans have this obsession with the relationships of their fellow crewmembers?”

“Hey, I’m just saying it’s a little wierd that they’re always having meals together and hanging out in the holodecks.”

“How do you know what they are doing in the holodecks?” J’hana asked, her eyebrow raised.

“I’m a security officer, Lieutenant. It’s my job to be informed,” Gellar said proudly.

“Good answer. I knew I made you my right hand man for a reason. Whatever the Captain’s relationship with Counselor Peterman, it is none of our business.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“But, I do appreciate the fact that you are well versed in the skills of observation. What is the time now?”

“0800.”

“Okay, let’s do it.” J’hana walked over and hit the door buzzer.

No one answered.

“Computer, override this door. Authorization: J’hana Delta Gamma Five Seven.”

The doors parted with a woosh.

“Alright everybody, hit the decks now!” Gellar shouted, as he and J’hana plunged into the cabin.

“So this is where they’ve been hiding out,” J’hana said, not amused. She was facing four young noncomissioned crewmembers. They were enlisted men, not even academy trained.

“You didn’t think you could hide forever, did you guys?” Gellar asked sternly.

“No, sir,” one of them said.

“I guess this explains what happened to all the beer and pizza.” Gellar stared around the hovel-like quarters with disgust. There was garbage all over the place.

“Well, won’t the Captain be surprised,” J’hana said.

“Please don’t tell the Captain-“ one of them said, appearing scared.

“Do you know how important the beer and pizza is to the maintenance of this ship?” J’hana asked.

“Yes, ma’am.”

J’hana sat back on the table where one of the crewmembers was seated and took a bite of his pizza. “Mmm mmm, this is good pizza. Let me ask you a question Crewman…”

“Foster.”

“Crewman Foster. What does Captain Baxter look like?”

“Um…”

“I asked you a question. What does Captain Baxter look like?”

“Um…”

“Don’t say ‘um’ again you little bastard!” J’hana said, shoving her phaser up against the crewman’s neck. “Now what does the Captain look like?”

“Um…he’s tall…”

“Go on…”

“A little chubby…”

“Uh-huh,”

“And he’s got dirty blonde hair.”

J’hana peered down at the crewman and narrowed her eyes. “Does Captain Baxter look like a Pakled to you?”

“N-n-no!”

“Then why are you trying to screw him over like a Pakled, Foster? Why would you do that to him?”

“I…um…that is, I…um…um…um…”

J’hana shoved her phaser harder against Foster’s neck. “Say ‘um’ again, Foster! Say it! Say it!”

“Hey…” one of the other crewmembers said.

In one swift, flowing movement, J’hana’s phaser whipped around and blasted that crewman unconcious.”

“I’m sorry,” the Andorian said, turning back to face Foster. “Did I break your concentration?”

“Listen, I’m sorry things got so messed up with the Captain. We got into this thing with the best of intentions. I mean we never meant–”

“FOUND IT!” Gellar shouted, pulling a case from out of one of the small cabinets in the room.

“So you did take it,” J’hana said, staring at one of the yeomen. “Do you what that thing is? One of the Captain’s most prized possessions. He’ll be glad to have it back, I’m sure.”

“You see…we didn’t…” one of the other crewmen said.

J’hana shot him with her phaser without even taking her eyes off the yeoman. “I’m in no mood to screw around, boys. You see, I am the Andorian, and you are imbeciles. And we will walk together to the brig and you will be locked up pending a review by the command staff. Do you hear me?”

“Please, just take the case and leave us alone,” Foster said weakly.

“Sorry,” J’hana said slowly. “It doesn’t work that way, scumbag.” She shot both remaining yeoman with her phaser and then flipped it around, shoving it back into her holster.

“Did that feel good, Lieutenant?” Gellar asked, amused.

“Quite.”

J’hana and Gellar made their way out of the small cabin with the case in tow. “Let’s go get a cup of coffee.”

“Sounds good to me,” Gellar said, opening the case to check its contents as the two stepped into the turbolift. The light glinted off the object inside as the lift ascended. “The Captain sure will be glad to get his lucky horseshoes back.”

“You’re telling me.”


Tags: vexed