Author: Anthony Butler
Stardate 51516.7. We have picked up a distress call from an outpost on the edge of Flarn borders. We can only assume this outpost is under Flarn jurisdiction, but I’m hoping that if we help out one of the border worlds, they will be persuaded to aid us in ridding the quadrant of this Flarn menace. We are currently en route to the outpost to give whatever assistance we can.
“Time to the outpost, Lt. Larkin?” Captain Baxter asked, pacing back and forth in front of the viewscreen at the front of the Aerostar’s bridge.
“Nine minutes and four seconds at our present speed of warp 8.4.” Larkin replied.
Baxter came to a stop at Larkin’s station. “Any idea of what we’re dealing with here?”
Larkin stared down at her panel. “Long range scans indicate that the outpost is Flarn in design. It seems to be a small orbital observatory of some sort. Its primary reactor is almost critical.”
“A meltdown, perhaps?” Baxter asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes, sir. Their main reactor operates on a principle similar to fusion, but I do not recognize the materials that are used as reactants.”
“We’ve got to stabilize that reactor.” Baxter said, turning to the center of the bridge, where Commander David Conway sat in his usual chair, sipping from a cup of coffee. “Conway, I want you to take a team over there and fix that reactor.”
Conway sighed, put his cup down and jumped out of his chair. “Gee, why do I always get the fun jobs?”
“Just go, Conway.” Baxter muttered, taking a seat at his chair.
“Fine. Larkin, J’hana, you’re with me.” Conway tapped his communicator as he led the way into the turbolift. “Conway to Richards. Meet me in transporter room one.”
“Acknowledged.” Came Richards’s reply.
Ensign Fresca took a seat at ops and looked over the panel. “We have arrived at the Haricor system, Captain.”
“Wonderful. Mr. Ford, take us out of warp,” Baxter responded. “Scan the station, Fresca, I don’t want to send our people into a gang of angry Flarn.”
“I detect no Flarn life signs, but Larkin was right. That reactor’s going to blow any minute.” Fresca replied.
“Lovely,” Baxter said, covering his face.
“It looks pretty radioactive over there, guys!” Lt. Hartley snickered as Commander Conway, Lt. Commander Richards, Lt. J’hana, and Lt. Larkin entered the transporter room, “I’d hate to see any of you die from radiation poisoning.”
“Bite me.” Conway muttered, taking a place on the transporter padd.
“I’ll see you in hell!” Hartley said sweetly as she energized the transporter.
The away team materialized aboard the spacestation in the midst of a huge melee. The crew was running around madly trying to stabilize the reaction, but it seemed like they had no idea of how to do it.
“This is Captain Andrew Baxter of the Federation Starship Aerostar to the Haricorian Outpost, we are allied with the Sulani government and are here to give you any aid you may need.” Captain Baxter’s voice said over the speakers.
Commander Conway switched on his wrist beacon and walked through the wreckage of the dimly lit station, pushing a couple bodies to the side. “Who’s in charge here?” he called out, hoping for an answer.
A man stuck his head up from underneath a panel. Conway imagined that he was Haricorian, because much like the other inhabitants of the small station, his head was roughly arrow-shaped and his skin had a greenish hue. “I am the supervisor of this outpost. My name is Ven.”
“Hi there, Ven, I’m Commander Conway of the Aerostar. We’re here to help. If you can tell me where your reactor is, we will do our best to fix it.”
Ven indicated a huge dome shaped object at the center of the room.”It’s right over there. This is a Flarn station, and my people are only its custodians, we have no idea how to fix the thing, and there is no Flarn ship nearby to aid us.”
“Thank goodness,” Conway said under his breath. “Larkin, Richards, get over there and see if you can fix that thing.” The First Officer called out.
Larkin examined the reactor with her tricorder. “I was correct. It seems to operate on the basic principle of fusion.”
Richards put his engineering kit down and opened it up, taking out a few tools. “Well, that should make our job a little easier.”
Conway looked at Larkin’s and Richards’ progress, then slapped his comm badge. “Conway to Aerostar. I recommend that we get these people off the station just in case Larkin and Richards aren’t successful.”
“Understood, Commander. We’ll begin transport right away.” Baxter replied.
“Listen up!” Conway called out, standing atop a small console. The many arrow-shaped heads in the room turned to see what he had to say. “This place is going to blow very shortly. We are going to transport you to our vessel where you will be safe. I need you all to gather in a central location and be very calm.” Conway hated talking to these stupid people, they weren’t exactly geniuses, and he didn’t join Starfleet to be a Kindergarten teacher.
“You need to get all those people out of there, Lieutenant.” Baxter’s voice commanded.
Hartley put down her magazine and looked at her panel. “There are forty-five Haricorians over there, sir. If we use the other two transporter rooms and the emergency transporters, as well as the ones in the cargo bays, I think we can get them out in five minutes.”
“Fine. Get moving then.”
Hartley began tapping her panel. “You’re welcome.”
Conway turned back towards Larkin and Richards after watching the Haricorians begin to disappear. “How’s it coming, guys?”
“Not good.” Richards said as he leaned inside the huge mechanism. “The cooling mechanism is damaged, and I can’t seem to find a backup.”
“You mean the Flarn probably considered these people expendable?”
“Yes sir, that’s exactly what I mean. And because of that, we might be expended, too.”
Conway tapped his foot nervously. “Cute. Just fix that damn thing.”
“That’s the last of them, sir.” Hartley said, tapping her badge. “And you better get a freaking security detail down here. I’m up to my pips in aliens.”
“Mr. Gellar is on his way to assist you, Miss Whiny.” Baxter replied.
“How much longer, Larkin?” Conway asked, getting more and more nervous by the second.
Larkin regarded her tricorder then looked up at the reactor. “I would say approximately thirty seconds.”
Conway put his fingers through his hair and pulled on it in frustration. “Are you kidding me! We have to get the hell out of here!”
“Wait, I think I almost have it!” Richards said.
“I don’t care, we’re getting out of here.” Conway said, pulling Richards up with one hand and tapping his comm badge with the other. “Get us out of here, Lieutenant Hartley.”
“What’s the magic word, sweetie?” Hartley said with a giggle.
“NOW!” Conway shouted.
“That’s the one.” Hartley replied.
“The station’s reactor is critical.” Lt. Tilleran noted from the science console. “The station is breaking apart!”
Baxter looked back and nodded. “Understood. Is everyone off there, Fresca?”
“Yes, sir.” Ensign Fresca replied.
“Then back us off, Ensign Ford!” Baxter said.
The Aerostar drifted away from the station as its hull buckled.
“I’m picking up a huge energy buildup, Captain. We have to get out of here!” Tilleran suddenly shouted.
“You heard her, Mr. Ford, Warp one, en-“ Baxter said, when suddenly the station exploded with the intensity of a supernova.
The Aerostar tumbled backwards as the shockwave hit.
“That’s funny.” Lt. Hartley said, looking at her panel. The patterns of the four officers were in some sort of flux.
Suddenly Hartley reeled backwards as the deck pitched out from under her. The Red Alert klaxons began to sound as the lighting began to flicker.
“All hands, this is the Captain. We are in the middle of a level six shockwave. Nothing to worry about, just go about your business as if your lives weren’t in grave danger.”
Hartley cursed as she held onto her panel for support. She had to resolve the matter stream soon or Conway, Larkin, J’hana, and Richards would all be lost in the power fluctuations.
The transporter chief quickly made some computations on the panel and tried to re-initialize the stream. The patterns were still in some sort of flux, and she had no idea why. As a last resort, she tried adding an extra linear containment field to the beam.
Finally the patterns stabilized enough that she could resolve the stream and energize the transporter. Hartley pressed a button and watched the beams coalesce on the pad. Something was still wrong. What the hell were those readings?
That’s when the room suddenly seemed to explode in a bright wave of light. Right after that the world went black.
Conway, Richards, Larkin, and J’hana materialized on the transporter pad moments later.
“What the hell was that?” Conway asked, rubbing his head.
“I don’t know. It felt like we were almost lost in the matrix for a minute.” Richards replied, still feeling a little woozy.
Conway was about to curse Lt. Hartley for her ignorance, when he noticed the transporter chief lying limply on the floor. He slapped his comm badge. “Conway to sickbay, medical emergency. I need someone in the transporter room on the double,” He looked down at Hartley. It was kind of funny to see her helplessly unconscious like that. “…well, don’t wear yourself out, sickbay. As a matter of fact, take your time.”
Lt. Larkin looked over the transporter console. “It seems like she was hit by a phased pulse beam.”
“So what the hell does that mean?” Conway asked, still looking down at the unconscious chief.
“It means that the radiation from the reactor explosion interfered with the transporter beam and caused a huge energy dispersal when the beam was energized.”
“So what the hell does that mean?” Conway asked again.
“Do not concern yourself with it, sir.” Larkin said, taking out her tricorder and scanning Lieutenant Hartley. “Hmm. That is strange.”
Richards was busy examining the transporter console. “Well, the system is operating fine now.”
Just then Doctor Browning entered the room. She looked from person to person carefully. “So who’s hurt?”
Conway pointed down at Hartley. “Who the hell do you think?”
Browning thought a moment. “Oh, okay.”
The doctor pulled out a tricorder and scanned Hartley. “That’s really weird.”
“What’s weird?” Conway asked, annoyed. “Will one of you please tell me what’s going on?”
Larkin stared at the readings on her tricorder. “This is not Lieutenant Hartley. At least, not the one from our universe.”
“Meggie, honey, wake up!” A sweet male voice cooed in Hartley’s ear. Her head really hurt, and she felt really strange.
The Lieutenant opened her eyes. She was in sickbay. So who the hell was talking to her?
“Meggie, darling, if you’re hurt, I don’t know what I will do.”
Hartley sat up. “Whoever is saying that better be either really good looking or really quick on his feet.”
The first thing she noticed was that sickbay wasn’t sickbay. Well, it was, but it wasn’t. It was painted in pastel pink, blue, and orange, and it had fluffy throw pillows in every corner. The next thing she noticed was Commander Conway. He was smiling broadly. If that wasn’t strange enough, his uniform was completely different. Instead of black with grey shoulders, it was pink with black shoulders. And the communicator…it was in the shape of a smiley face!
“My sweet Megan, you’re finally awake.” Conway said in a fruity voice.
Hartley just fell back, welcoming unconsciousness.
“So it is Lieutenant Hartley, but it’s not.” Commander Conway asked, looking across Dr. Browning’s desk.
“That’s the long and short of it, Commander.” Browning said, staring down at a huge piece of cake. “Her brain waves are out of phase, and that’s playing havoc with her entire system.”
“Which means, her readings don’t match up with her readings.”
Conway just shook his head. “I don’t understand.”
Browning tried to swallow a mouthful of cake. “From what Larkin can gather, she was hit by the wave, and her particles were distorted, phased somehow.”
“So what do we do?”
Browning just shook her head. “Hell if I know. We’re going to monitor her until she comes around. Until then, all we can do is wait.”
“She’s coming around again.” A female voice said. “The poor little thing.” The voice was almost cartoony.
Hartley decided to give reality another try. Maybe she was just hallucinating because of her fall.
She sat up and opened her eyes again. This time she saw Commander Conway and Doctor Browning, who was wearing the same outlandish getup Conway had worn, except with baby blue where Conway had pink.
“Could one of you guys tell me what all this is about?” Hartley demanded, her mind starting to clear.
“What do you mean, precious?” Browning asked.
“You guys are dressed so…” Hartley stopped, looking down at her own uniform. It was canary yellow “Oh.”
“Perhaps you should see the Counselor,” Browning said serenely, putting a hand on Hartley’s shoulder.
Conway put Hartley’s hand in his. “I’m sure you just bumped your cute little head. We’ll make it all better, don’t you worry one bit.”
Hartley pushed herself off the biobed and stepped away from Conway and Browning. “Is this some kind of joke?”
“Maybe you should sit down, darling.” Conway said kindly.
“I’ve gotta get out of here.” Hartley said, stepping towards the turbolift.
She backed out into the corridor just to realize it was the same color scheme as sickbay. They wouldn’t have repainted the entire ship just to play a sick practical joke on her. Even Conway wouldn’t go through that much trouble to make her miserable. Or would he?
Hartley’s thoughts were interrupted as she backed into someone.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Lieutenant,” a happy voice chirped. A familiar happy voice.
“Captain Baxter, what the hell is going on?” Hartley asked turning around to find Baxter in the same getup as Browning and Conway. Except that he had the same disgustingly happy yellow outfit that she did, instead of the command pink. If that wasn’t bad enough, his hair was long, and twisted into an ornate ponytail.
“Captain, Meggie? I wish. I’m just a humble little old inventory officer. The Captain said that my job is just as important as everyone else’s, though,” Baxter said wistfully.
“This joke is getting old,” Hartley said, marching down the corridor to find some answers.
Commander Conway didn’t really know why he had stayed behind to monitor Lt. Hartley’s condition, but he figured it was because he liked the idea of being able to call her names and smack her around without her responding.
“You’re nothing but a moody, cranky, evil minded little bitch!” Conway said, plucking her ear with his finger. This was wonderful. He could finally get his revenge.
“What the hell are you doing, Commander?” Doctor Browning asked, stepping out of her office.
“Just checking her reflexes,” Conway said, putting his hands behind his back nonchalantly.
“You are one weird guy,” Browning said, walking back into her office.
Suddenly, Hartley’s eyes fluttered open and she snapped up.
“Finally,” Conway muttered.
Hartley looked at him, squealed with joy and wrapped her arms around him, strangling him in a bear hug.
“Erg,” Conway said as she squeezed him tighter.
Doctor Browning emerged from her office again. “She’s finally awake. And it looks like she’s getting her strength back. She’ll be fine.”
“What’s wrong with her, Brownie?” The alternate Commander Conway asked, frowning. “My feelings are hurt.”
“I’m not sure, Davey-doo, she’s just a little twitterpated right now. You should take her to Counselor Kelly-bell. She’ll know just what to do about that.”
“You’re right, Brownie. I’ll go track her down,” Conway replied, giggling with joy. “You’re so smart.”
Brownie giggled. “I read a lot.”
Hartley’s walk through the twisted, disgustingly cute corridors of the alternate Aerostar had her feeling dizzy once again. What exactly happened to her?
She found a turbolift. She knew exactly where she would have to go to find out what had happened. The bridge. Lt. Larkin would be there and she could explain why everyone was acting so funny.
Hartley stepped into the turbolift.
“Hidilly ho, where do you want to go?” The computer said in a sing-song type of voice.
“The bridge,” Hartley barked in annoyance.
“What’s the magic word?”
“The freaking bridge, now, please.”
The turbolift went up the shaft with a woosh.
When the doors opened, Hartley felt as though she would faint again.
The bridge was done in happy pastels like the rest of the ship, but if that wasn’t bad enough, the chairs at all the stations were replaced with big, fluffy throw pillows.
“What the-“ Hartley said with astonishment.
“Hi there!” Lt. J’hana said happily. There was something seriously wrong with her. Her eyes and mouth were painted like a clown. “I love you,” she said, handing Hartley a flower.
Hartley took the flower. “Yeah, I love you too. Where’s the Captain?” Hartley asked with impatience.
“He’s in his rumpus room. Do you want to see him?” J’hana asked with a twinkle in her eye.
“Later,” Hartley said, walking over to the ops station.
Lt. Larkin was sitting there on a big fluffy pillow, studying the cartoon bubble letters of the readouts.
“Larkin, am I glad to see you. Something terrible has happened to me.”
“Oh, I am so sorry to hear that,” Larkin exclaimed. “I do not know what I could do for you. I could tell you a joke!”
Larkin stood up and cleared her throat. “What is a Changeling’s worst nightmare?”
The bridge crew collectively shrugged.
“A blender!” Larkin said with a smile. To Hartley’s horror, Larkin’s eyes and ears then popped out and spun around, along with the communicator on her uniform. “Yuk-uk-uk!” Larkin said in a Popeye voice. Suddenly a small drum set emerged from her chest, along with a pair of drumsticks that slid out from her palms, which she then used to rap against the drums. “Bud-um-bum”
Hartley just rubbed her eyes, unable to believe what she saw. Larkin was nothing but a complex jack-in-the- box. Just as she tapped the doorchime on the readyroom door, she turned to see Larkin’s entire head spin around, to the amusement of the bridge crew.
“Come,” came an unfamiliar voice.
Hartley entered the readyroom. Well, it was more aptly called a rumpus room, and she could see why. All over were bean bag chairs and happy paintings and sculptures. It was disgusting.
The Captain’s chair and desk were replaced by a small swingset. The Captain had his back to Hartley as he swang. “Oh, I’m sorry, I was just looking at the stars. They’re so shiny.”
Hartley was about to say something when the man jumped off the swing and turned to face her. “Oh, Meggie, how nice to see you back from your little accident in one, precious little piece.”
Hartley fainted again, leaving Captain Willy-Nilly Riker extremely confused.
“Will you please explain this to me, Conway?” Baxter asked, looking across his desk at Commander Conway. He was still in the vice-like hugging grip of Lt. Hartley.
“Well, according to Doctor Browning and Lt. Larkin, she had her molecules scrambled by some by-product of the transporter beam, and she switched brains with an alternate version of her in another universe.”
“Ahh, I see. That explains everything.” Baxter looked at Lt. Hartley with disgust.
“Can you speak English?” He asked cautiously, leaning over his desk and peering at her.
“Hey, Lieutenant Antsypants. Are you the Captain now? Where’s Willy-Nilly?”
Baxter looked to Conway. “Do you have any idea what she’s yammering on about?”
“Not a clue, sir.”
Baxter looked at her again. “How…did…you…get…here.” He said slowly.
“Well, I walked with Davey-wavey. I asked him to give me a piggy back ride, but he said no.” she put out her lower lip in sadness.
“I see.” Baxter said, sitting back down. “Well, it seems you are in another universe, Lieutenant. You’ll have to sit tight here until we can figure out a way to get you back where you belong.”
Hartley wasn’t paying attention. She couldn’t seem to keep her free hand off of the model of the Secondprize Baxter had sitting near his couch. His was a special one that made authentic phaser and photon torpedo sounds. He was quite proud of it.
Hartley picked up the model and began flying it around. “This is so cute!”
“Leave that alone!” Baxter said, grabbing the model.
“Are you mad at me?” Hartley asked.
“Yes–No! I’m not. Conway, get her out of here!” Baxter cried with agitation.
“Can I just have J’hana shoot her off me?” Conway pleaded.
“No.” Baxter responded. “Take her back to her quarters and settle her in. We have no idea how long it will be until we can get her back to normal, if we ever can.”
“Fine.” Conway said. “Come on, Lieutenant.”
Conway dragged Hartley out of the room. Just before she disappeared behind the doors, she blew Baxter a kiss. “I love you, Antsy-Wantsy!”
“Sheesh!” Baxter said, putting his model back where it belonged.
“Thank you for finding her, Willy-Nilly.” Davey- Wavey said, placing Hartley on the couch. “I was really worried about my little sweetie-pants.”
“It’s no problem,” Captain Riker replied. “She just came in my rumpus room and fainted. Poor little thing. I hope she’s okay.”
“Me too.” Conway replied, kneeling by the couch and holding Hartley’s hand. “Are you okay, sugarkins?”
Hartley’s eyes fluttered open. “Ugggh. I just had the worst nightmare. I dreamt that…” She looked around. “Oh, boy.” She once again fell unconscious.
“Poor little thing. Maybe you should take her back to your quarters and let her sleep. I’m sure she’ll get better.” Riker said, going back to his swing-set.
Conway picked Hartley up and swung her over his shoulders. “I sure hope you’re right. I’d hate for Counselor Kelly-bell to have to use the mood-stabilizer on her.”
“Well, don’t worry, Davey-wavey, I’m sure it won’t come to that.”
Hartley looked up as Conway dragged her out of the rumpus room. Conway’s quarters? Mood-stabilizer? What the hell?
Hartley was becoming more and more certain that she was definitely not in Kansas anymore.
Conway walked Lt. Hartley back to her quarters, all the while getting sidelong glances from all the crewmembers they passed. He didn’t blame them; she was skipping along, swinging his hand back and forth as she walked, waving and saying hello to all the passersby.
“Okay, here we are.” Conway sighed, coming to a stop at Hartley’s quarters.
“These aren’t our quarters.” Hartley said, smiling up at Conway.
Conway ignored her, “Computer, open this door, authorization Conway Beta 113.”
The door slid open.
“There you are, pleasant dreams.” Conway said, turning to leave.
“Where are you going, silly?” Hartley asked playfully dragging Conway into her quarters.
“Oh, no.” Conway cried as she threw him on her bed with unbecoming strength.
“You’re so cute!” Hartley said, jumping on top of him.
Hartley’s impact pushed all the air out of Conway’s lungs. “Get off!” he wheezed, reaching for the comm button near Hartley’s bed.
Conway reached out for the button but came just short.
“Naughty naughty my little monkey!” she said playfully, throwing him over on his back. “I’m going to hug you and love you and squeeze you till you die!” she chirped.
With one free hand, Conway tapped his comm badge. “Conway to bridge, security to Lt. Hartley’s quarters…” Hartley leaned down and engulfed him in a sloppy kiss, making Conway long for the attack of Counselor Peterman’s dog, Charlie. Conway dragged himself off the bed and across the floor, feeling as if the very life had been sucked out of him. “I NEED THAT SECURITY NOW!” he shouted.
“Oh, playing hard to get?” Hartley said, crawling after him.
Conway ran across the quarters and tumbled into the bathroom, closing the door and locking it.
He leaned against the door, sighing with relief. He idly wondered what kind of horrid alternate universe this Hartley lived in.
Lt. Hartley shouted and beat on Commander Conway’s shoulders through the entire ride down to his quarters.
“Put me down, you big oaf! Put me down!”
“I know you love me, Meggie. Stop playing around.”
“Whatever.” Hartley said as Conway dragged her into his quarters and placed her softly on the bed. The bed was so deep and soft it almost swallowed her whole. She struggled to right herself among the cushions, but soon gave up.
“Sleep tight, sweetie pie.” He kissed her on the forehead and went into the other room.
“Ewwww.” Hartley spat on her hand and rubbed her forehead. What kind of sick place was this?
Hartley sat there in the dark trying to think of a way out of this situation.
Suddenly she heard a noise in the other room. It sounded as if…no…
To confirm her suspicions, Hartley looked around the corner of the doorway to the bedroom and just stared in amazement and horror. She couldn’t exactly say that she was surprised, though.
Commander Conway sat on a big pillow in front of a huge viewscreen. On it where some sort of chanting, laughing cartoons. Hartley looked on in amazement. What the hell were these people doing to their brains?
“Hi! We’re Yacko, Wacko, and Dot!” the characters on the screen chanted. Conway just giggled insanely.
Hartley just watched the animated creatures jump and giggle on the screen.
“I must be in hell.” Hartley muttered to herself.
Lt. J’hana, Lt. Gellar, and Ensign Puckett arrived at Lt. Hartley’s quarters.
“Okay, guys, phasers drawn. She could have gone insane or something in there.” J’hana said, drawing her phaser. “Computer, open door, authorization J’hana Delta 404.”
The three security officers burst into the room, and laughed uncontrollably. Lt. Hartley had Conway spread out on the couch and was in the process of pulling off his uniform.
“Thank God you guys got here in time, she busted the bathroom door down.” Conway wheezed.
J’hana just laughed. “I’m a security officer, I don’t handle domestic disputes.” she turned to leave.
“NO!!! You CAN’T leave me!!!!” Conway screamed.
J’hana continued to laugh as the security officers followed her out the door.
Seeing an opening to escape, Conway darted for the open door.
“Come on, lovey-dovey!” Hartley yelled, giving chase.
“GANG WAY!” Conway shouted as he barreled down the corridor.
Doctor Browning carried the three-story plate of lime Jell-O out of her office. It was time for her mid- afternoon, pre-post-lunch snack.
Suddenly, Commander Conway burst through the door, knocking her and the Jell-O over. With inhuman agility, he lept over a biobed, with Lt. Hartley in hot pursuit.
He grabbed a hypospray and filled it with a sedative. “Take this you crazy little jerk!” Conway shouted, jabbing the hypospray into Hartley’s neck as she cleared the biobed hurdle and tackled him.
“But…I…love…you…” she said as she lost conciousness.
“Yeah,” Conway sighed, “That’s what they all say.”
Browning picked herself up and scooped up the fallen jello. “You are way out of line, Commander.”
Conway just placed Hartley on a biobed. “You don’t seem to understand, Doctor, she attacked me.”
“I’m sure. That still gives you no right to come in here and disrupt my sickbay and ruin my snack, much less plunge a hypospray into one of my patient’s necks. I’m the Doctor on this ship, mister, and one of only three people capable of relieving you of duty. So I suggest you get the hell out of my sickbay before I jab a hypospray into you that will make your testicles shrink and fall off!” Doctor Browning’s voice had steadily risen throughout the tangent, and by the time she was done, her two nurses and the three other patients in the room were staring at her and Conway.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry. Jeeze.” Conway said, walking out of sickbay and leaving Lt. Hartley lying on the biobed.
Browning looked down at her jello in disgust and then looked at the rest of sickbay’s occupants. “What are all you guys looking at?”
Nobody interrupted one of Browning’s snacks and got away with it.
After watching something called “Animaniacs”, something else called “Tiny Toons”, and yet another show called “The Best of The Muppets 1980 to 2080,” Lt. Hartley thought she was going to go mad.
Two hours of nonstop giggling, happy music, and syrupy voices were bound to annoy any normal human being, but this universe’s Commander Conway seemed to thrive on it, enjoy it. Something was wrong here, terribly wrong. She would have to find a way to get back.
Suddenly, Hartley saw Conway get up and turn off the viewscreen. She quickly returned to the bed, threw the covers over herself, and proceeded to snore as loudly as possible.
Hartley watched with one eye slightly open as Conway tiptoed in and tucked her covers in as tightly as he could.
“Goodnight my precious lovemuffin, Davey-wavey has to go to work now.” Conway cooed right in her ear.
It was all Hartley could do to stop herself from retching as Conway tiptoed out of the room, ordered a cherry soda at the replicator, and slipped out of the room.
Once she was sure that Conway was gone, Hartley snuck out of the bedroom and tried the door. It was locked, and her security override didn’t seem to work. Her counterpart in this universe probably had a totally different code, or perhaps a similar, cuter one. At any rate, Hartley wasn’t in the mood to play around.
Instead, she decided to check the terminal on Conway’s desk for any information that might tell her what exactly she was up against in this alternate universe.
After righting herself on the huge cushion behind Conway’s desk, Lt. Hartley accessed the data terminal. She grimaced at the disgusting display of multi-colored bubbly letters and colorful cartoon characters that danced on the screen.
“Hiddly ho! You have accessed the United Federation of Fun’s Dum-Diddlyriffic Data Terminal. Please tell us your happy name and what you want.”
“My name is Lieutenant Hart-I mean, Meggie. And I want to access the historical database.” Hartley said through gritted teeth.
“Access granted, Meggie. Have a super day!” The computer replied.
Hartley skimmed through several submenus before she came to the historical text dealing with the federation. Everything seemed much like it was in her own universe. There was Surak, Kirk, Kaden…everything seemed in order. It was then that Hartley came up to a point in history only three years previous that didn’t seem to quite make sense.
The text spoke of a race called the Joegonots. Who the hell were they? Hartley read on and soon found out. Evidently, a ship called the Secondprize had made contact with a planet called Ugilious, and shortly thereafter the entire human race, the entire Federation of Planets, was changed.
Hartley found a clip in the ship’s database that seemed relevant and played it.
The clip showed the President of the Federation addressing a huge crowd.
“It is with great pleasure that I announce the Joegonotization of the entire Federation of Fun. Thanks to Captain Travie Dillon and his crew, we have found the way to true peace, friendship, and love. Mandatory Joegonotization will take place very soon. Soon we will all be happy friends. Won’t that be great?”
Suddenly a phaser beam lanced across the room and hit the President square in the chest.
A woman in a tie-dyed starfleet uniform stepped out from the crowd. “Hello, everyone, I hope you’re all happy today. I just wanted to thank the President for getting the ball rolling. Yes, it’s true, soon we’ll all be happy friends. But first, we must make one adjustment. The Joegonots do not really like us. They aren’t our friends, and they have the power to use their technology to make us unhappy again. We must make sure that won’t happen.”
The room was in an uproar, as people began to rush onto the stage, the woman continued, “Our cute little science officer was nice enough to develop a beam that would cause a quicker, more widespread effect of the happy beam. Let me demonstrate,” she tapped her comm badge, “Lt. Hawkins, hit it.”
Within seconds, the entire room stopped what they were doing and collectively hugged one another.
“That’s good!” The woman said, “Now we can all be friends. But how rude of me not to introduce myself. I am your new leader, Emporer Clairie Webber. I hope we can all be friends.”
The article went on to explain that the Joegonots plan was simple, it just involved making everyone in the Federation think like Joegonots and therefore be happy and friendly, but it backfired horribly. They became happy all right, but shortly thereafter they sent a fleet to Ugilious and blasted the planet to bits. The same fleet took duplicates of the so-called “happy beam” to every Federation world and, before long, the entire Federation was “happy”.
There were reports of scattered rebellion, but the reports weren’t very much in favor of success. As for the rest of the galaxy, they immediately closed off their borders and did whatever they could to stop from becoming “happy” as well. Much like Communism, however, the disease was spreading.
Hartley just looked at the information in horror. The entire Federation hand become little more than space hippies.
There was one thing that didn’t make sense. Whenever she had heard Baxter, Larkin, or Ford talk about their time on the Secondprize, they always referred to a Captain Rydell. But the commander of the Secondprize in this universe seemed to be named Dillon. Perhaps that had something to do with the timeline changing. Perhaps if this Rydell had been in command, the Secondprize wouldn’t have been taken over by the transference ray, and Webber, crazed by happiness, wouldn’t have hatched her scheme to make the entire Federation happy.
Hartley idly wondered whether or not the crew of the Secondprize of her universe was so screwed up. What was she saying? It wasn’t as if the crew of her ship were anything to brag about. Still, they were preferable to the geeks she had to contend with in this universe.
Hartley stirred as she heard the door to Conway’s quarters open.
Hartley walked over to the door, wondering why Conway would be back from his shift so early. However, Commander Conway wasn’t the one at the door.
“Why, hello, Meggie. I hear we’re not happy anymore. Well, you know that just cannot be.” Counselor Kelly-bell Peterman said. “You and I have to have a long talk.”
“Well, I’m sorry about you’re station Mr…” Baxter looked down at the padd he was holding, “…Ven. An investigation is currently underway to determine….”
Ven stood up from the crate he was seated on. He and the rest of his crew were occupying one of Aerostar’s cargo bays until they could be dropped off somewhere. “You don’t understand, Captain. We’re part of a mining outpost. We take in shipments of sclorid on a daily basis. We’ll be killed by the Flarn when they find out we lost the station.”
Baxter put a calming hand on his shoulder. “I’ve been authorized by the Sulani government to give you and your people sanctuary on the Sulani homeworld.”
“Well, that’s a relief. But some of my people are still down on the planet. You must rescue them as well.”
Baxter sighed. “Fine, fine, I’ll send a team down right away. There’s one other thing I wanted to mention. During a transport, one of our people were affected in a strange way by the shock wave from your station’s explosion. Do you know why that may be?”
The old man rubbed his head in concentration. “Hmmm. Sclorid is a very volatile material. It powers our reactors. The explosion could have ripped a small tear in the space-time continuum.”
Baxter sat down wiped a hand over his face. He looked over his shoulder at Lt. Larkin, who stood patiently behind him. “Well?”
“I believe I have an explanation, sir. When the wave hit us, it must have distorted the transporter beam, and when Lieutenant Hartley beamed us back to the Aerostar, a small pocket of the space-time distortion was released. It physically hit her, knocking her down and, in a manner of speaking, screwing up her head.”
Baxter just shook his head. “I’ll be damned. We’re going to have to duplicate the accident in order to get her back. Tell Commander Conway what we’ve learned, and go down to the planet with him and oversee the evacuation of the miners. When that’s done, I want you to get some of that ore. We’re going to have a little fireworks show tonight.” Baxter got up and headed for the door.
“Fireworks?” Ven asked, looking at Larkin with confusion.
“Do not ask, for I am unable to give an adequate response. Good day.”
“Do you really think that’s a good idea, Counselor?” Dr. Browning asked, looking over Hartley’s immobile form on the medtable.
Peterman just stared at the readouts, and then looked at the padd she was holding. “From what you guys have told me, it sounds like she’s a heck of a lot more personable than our Lt. Hartley. I don’t see what putting her back on duty would hurt. Aside from a touch of dizziness, she’s physically okay, right?”
Browning chewed on a pretzel stick thoughtfully. “Well, yeah, I suppose.”
“Great, then excuse me while I go walk my dog and my monkey.”
Browning just rolled her eyes. “I don’t guess you and Andy have been talking a lot lately.”
Peterman paused at the door to sickbay a moment, then turned her head back toward Browning. “I think I’ll be satisfied with my monkey.”
Hartley tried to slide out the door and past the alternate Peterman, but was blocked by two security officers.
“I think you and I need to have a lil chat!” Peterman said sweetly. “In my office.” Momentarily, her voice took on an eerie spookiness.
“All right, all right,” Hartley said, “Just let me get my teddy bear.” Hartley turned back toward the door of Conway’s quarters.
“A wise, happy choice, Lieutenant.” Peterman said.
Hartley suddenly whirled herself around, bringing a fist underneath one security officer’s chin, knocking him to the ground, kicking her leg back and knocking the other one over in the same movement. Peterman lunged toward Hartley in attack, but Hartley had been anticipating this, yanking forward on Peterman’s arm and slamming her into the bulkhead, using her own momentum against her.
That done, Hartley took off down the corridor to find some help.
Peterman lifted her head painfully. “She must be made to feel happy, damn it, she just has to be! Even if I have to kill her to accomplish it!”
Hartley came to a stop at the Starlight lounge. It looked dark inside, so she hoped it would be a safe place to hide.
She entered the lounge to find it even more obnoxiously decorated than it was in her universe. It looked to her like a preschool classroom, with colorful wooden tables and stuffed animals everywhere.
She found a table and hid behind it. She had to find a way out of this mess. Who would have thought she would actually beg to be back with those annoying people on her ship?
Suddenly Hartley was startled by a noise behind the bar.
She picked up a chair and held it over the head. “Who’s over there!”
“I’m happy, I’m happy, I swear!” Mirk exclaimed, standing up and holding his hands up.
Hartley sat the chair down and walked over to the bar. “Mirk, what the hell are you doing back there?”
“The dishes?” he lied. Unlike the always pleasant and flirtatious Mirk of Hartley’s universe, this one seemed dreary and impoverished, wearing a plain, grey uniform.
“Listen, I know you won’t believe me, but I’m not happy. I mean, I’m not even from this universe. I switched brains with my counterpart in this universe. I don’t know how or why I’m here, but I have to get back. And Counselor Peterman seems hell-bent on capturing me.”
Mirk took all the information in and thought a moment. “The people on this ship are insane. When they captured me a few months ago, I thought they were just really cheerful people. Well, they enslaved me and made me work as their bartender when they found out that their stupid ray wouldn’t work on me. All it did was give me one hell of a headache.”
“Why don’t you try and escape?”
“They would never let me escape. They said I’m integral to their overall happiness, whatever that means.”
“I hate this damn ship.” Hartley said, banging her head on the bar.
“You and me, both.” Mirk said. “Listen, I don’t know how you got here, or how you’re going to get back, but, if you find a way…”
“You couldn’t go back. We already have a Mirk in my universe, and I don’t think he’d be to willing to leave.”
“Is he successful there?”
Hartley thought a moment. “Well, I guess that depends on how you define successful. I think he’s…content.”
“Well, it’s nice to know I’m happy in one universe at least. Does this kind of thing happen often on Federation vessels?”
“The alternate universe, space-time thing? All the time. You’d think we’d have a course at the academy on it by-“
Suddenly, the doors to the Lounge burst open and Peterman limped in, flanked by her two security guards.
“You must be happy, Meggie.”
“Never!” Hartley shouted, hurling her barstool at the officers, heading for the other entrance to the Lounge.
“Wait for me!” Mirk called, ducking the security officers’ phaser blasts and following Hartley.
“Hello, Davey-wavey! How are you today?” Lt. Hartley said with a sing-song voice as Commander Conway mounted the transporter pad.
“What the hell is she doing back on duty?” Conway asked Larkin as she took a position on the pad next to him.
“Counselor Peterman feels that she would benefit from being given a task. She must also be present when we detonate the sclorid on the planet’s surface, to reenact the accident that caused this.”
“I can’t wait until the bitchy Hartley is back. I miss her snide remarks.”
Larkin stared at Conway a moment. “Commander, I assure you, you are in the minority.”
“I love you both, have fun on that cute lil planet!” Hartley waved as she hit the transporter controls.
“Yeah right.” Conway huffed as he disappeared.
“Do you know a way out of here?” Hartley asked, pulling her smiley face-shaped communicator badge off and throwing it in a supply closet. Mirk did likewise.
“We may be able to make it to my ship, if we can get the shuttlebay doors open.”
“Your ship? Didn’t it get destroyed?” Hartley said, heading down a corridor.
Mirk followed after. “No. I guess that’s another difference. The Aerostar came to this quadrant in search of new “friends”. They used that damned beam on the Flarn, the Sulani, and most of my people. They have managed to single-handedly take over this quadrant.”
Hartley rounded a corner, coming to a jeffries tube. “We better use this. They can track us in the turbolift. You’re the only one that ray won’t work on?”
“That I know of.” Mirk said, following her down the ladder.
“Well, what would make you different?”
“I don’t know. I think it has something to do with my brain. I think I’m different than the other Maloxians. I feel like I’m on the verge of getting some kind of powers.”
Hartley laughed. “You’ve never had any experience with
Mirk thought a moment. “I flew a short range supply ship on Garibid for awhile.”
“That’s not what I meant. Have YOU flown?”
“No. How the hell could I do that?”
“The other Mirk can.”
Mirk seemed extremely annoyed at this. “Wow, that’s fair. I get enslaved, he’s runs the bar and everyone on the ship likes him, plus, he can fly. Why the hell can’t I fly?”
“Do you think the ray might have something to do with that?”
“Could be. If that’s the case, that makes me even madder.”
Hartley continued to descend. “Well, it may also be a key to de-joegonotizing this ship.”
“That’s it, Captain.” Commander Conway reported, tapping his foot nervously as he looked at the huge cargo container full of sclorid that Lt. Larkin was testing with her tricorder. “All the Haricorians have been beamed up.”
“I know, Commander. Their supervisor can’t seem to give our transporter chief enough compliments. They say she’s one of the nicest people they’ve ever met.” Baxter’s voice responded.
“Great, I guess you’ll want to keep her now.” Conway replied.
There was a moment’s silence. “Well, it’s really tempting. Just think, calling down to the transporter room and hearing a sweet, darling voice answer. It would be such a delight.”
“Just shut up and prepare to do whatever you have to do to get that lunatic off our ship.”
“You’re going to miss her when she’s gone, too, Dave.”
“Yeah, right. Just get the whole thing set up.” Conway muttered, annoyed at even the thought of keeping the nice-Hartley. She was even harder to take than the mean one. At least when someone had a bad attitude, you knew where they stood.
“Peterman to Bridge.”
Captain Willy-nilly pushed a button next to his bean-bag command chair. “Riker here, what is it, snoogums?”
“Well, lovebucket, I’ve got some disturbing news to report.”
“Nothing that comes from your sweet little lips could possibly disturb me.”
“Well, what if I told you that Lt. Megan Hartley is a Class-A Unhappy.”
“Not possible. We haven’t had one of those in months.”
“Well, it’s the truth. We have to stop her.”
“Do whatever you have to, snoogums. I’ll send some more security to help you and we’ll track her with the internal scanners.”
“Thanks, hon. By the way, you were great last night.”
“Well, I’m no Travie Dillon.”
“Don’t even say that, lovebunch. You may not have his looks, but you have a sense of humor and personality that more than make up for that.”
“I love you, snoogums.”
“I love you too, bushy-beard. Peterman out.”
Riker leaned back on his command bag. “Larkie, J’hanabannana, go down there and assist the Counselor.”
“Hoo hoo hee, ha ha ha!” The Andorian said with a smile. “Let’s go make people happy, yuk yuk yuk!” She wobbled over to the turbolift and squeaked the horn that hung on her belt opposite the phaser. “Come on, Larkie!”
Larkin’s head turned around and extended several feet above her body. “I am already a-head of you, B’nana!” Larkin then walked over to the turbolift, her arms and legs wiggling and wobbling the whole time like she was a puppet. “I like to make people happy!”
“Go get ‘er, girls!” Riker said with pride.
“Cap’n Willy-nilly?” Conway asked from beside the Captain. “Could I go and help our friends? I feel partially responsible.” Conway began to sob. “If only there was something I could do…”
“It’s okay, Davey-wavey, you can go help arrest your loved one. I know how much it means to you.” Willy-nilly said, patting Davey-wavey on the shoulder. “Just don’t get too attached to her.”
Conway sniffed, wiping away a tear. “Okay, sir.”
“We’ve made it!” Hartley said, ducking out of the Jefferies tube. “Deck 26. The main shuttlebay is just down this corridor.”
“Not so fast, my precious!” Counselor Peterman said, rounding the corridor, her two security guards right behind her. “You’re not going to get away, this time. I’ll make you the happiest little girl in the world.”
“Not if I can help it!” Hartley shouted, diving into an opening door and dragging Mirk through.
“Great.” Hartley said, entering the room. “It seems like holodecks are still holodecks. Computer, seal this room.”
“What’s your bright idea?” Mirk asked, staring at the door with fear.
“You’ll see.” Hartley said with a smile. “Let’s just hope Petermans are still Petermans.”
“Can you get in or not?” Peterman demanded, stomping her foot angrily.
The security guard looked up from the door’s panel. “Counselor Kelly-bell, you don’t sound happy…”
“I am happy, and I should have you stripped of your rank just for accusing me of something like that.” Peterman fumed.
“I understand, Kitty, and I still love you. I managed to bypass the door’s locking mechanism.”
“Super.” Peterman smiled, entering the holodeck. She found herself in a log cabin. “It looks like our resourceful Lieutenant has made us a little holodeck scenario. How nice!” Peterman said happily as the two security officers entered beside her.
“Lt. Hartley should know that she is incapable of bypassing the holodeck safeties…” Peterman said to no one in particular, hoping Hartley and that damn bartender were nearby, and could hear her taunts.
Suddenly, an old woman entered the room, followed by a little boy.
Peterman held up an arm when one of the security officers raised his weapon to fire. “Don’t shoot, they’re just holodeck characters.”
“Well, boy, I guess you know it’s time to become a man.” the old woman said.
“Yeah, but…” the boy responded.
“No buts. He’s gettin’ mighty old.”
What was this all about? Peterman was sure it was just some sort of elaborate distraction. Hartley wouldn’t fool her.
“Okay.” The boy said. He left the room and returned with a dog, one that reminded the Counselor a bit of her own dog, Charlie.She had never seen this holo-movie before.
“Do it, boy.” The old woman said, handing the little boy a double-barreled shotgun.
“Yes, ma.” The boy said with tears in his eyes. “Bye bye, Hank.”
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Peterman screamed, with terror in her eyes, running to push the dog out of the way, but she just went right through it and slammed into a holographic wall.
Peterman didn’t even turn around to see what had happened, the warm spray that hit the back of her neck told her everything she needed to know. She collapsed to the floor and sobbed uncontrollably.
“Get them!” she cried. “Go out there and kill them. No, kill the bartender, and bring me the other one. And TURN THIS DAMN THING OFF!”
“Yes, Counselor.” one of the guards said slowly, as he looked at the scene with horror.
“We did it!” Hartley cried, ducking out of the holodeck. “That should keep her busy a few minutes, hopefully.”
“That was pretty low, Lieutenant.” Mirk said, following Hartley into the shuttlebay.
“I exceed at low. The lower the better. Now get your ship started.”
“On it.” Mirk said, running across the flight deck and climbing the ladder to the entrance hatch.
Hartley climbed up the ladder to the control tower to make an attempt to bypass the shuttle doors. She found the control mechanism and ripped it apart, trying to get around the security protocols, but it was just no use.
Suddenly she heard several phaser blasts.
“What’s going on, Mirk?” Hartley asked, ducking out of the tower. She looked down on the flight deck to see Mirk’s immobile form. Someone had blasted him right off his ship before he could get in.
Hartley grabbed a phaser and a padd from the control tower and ran out onto the balcony around the control tower, spotting the two security officers crouched behind a cargo container.
“Over here, geniuses!” Hartley cried, firing, and hitting one of them square in the chest. The other one ducked behind a shuttlecraft and began shooting at her.
“This better work.” Hartley whispered to herself, tapping a few controls on the padd and jumping right over the railing, free falling the two stories to the flight deck.
After a split second passed, the bay’s tractor beam caught her and flung her to the side, in a preprogrammed trajectory that put her right next to Mirk’s ship.
She took advantage of the security officer’s shock and fired, hitting him dead on, sending him to the deck.
Hartley holstered her phaser, looking at Mirk, who laid on the deck on his back, with his eyes open.
“I would have liked to have flown just once, like you just did.” Mirk gasped, closing his eyes for the last time.
Hartley just looked down at his still form. “What a day,” she sighed.
Suddenly the doors to the shuttlebay opened to reveal Larkin and J’hana.
“Hey, it’s the birthday girl!”
“It’s not my birthday!” Hartley shouted indignantly, diving behind a container.
A robotic hand extended in an almost cartoonish manner across the distance between Larkin and Hartley, knocking the container away like it was nothing and grabbing her, dragging her kicking and screaming towards the comedy duo.
“You will nonetheless receive a wonderful present, Lieutenant.” Larkin said wickedly, her eyes spinning around like a slot machine, coming up twin skulls and crossbones.
“Let me go!” Hartley cried.
B’nana just laughed and squeaked her horn. “Hee hee!” She reached into the pockets of her oversized uniform and pulled out a bag, holding it up to Hartley’s face. “Try some itching powder. Guaranteed to make you itch!”
“Haw haw haw!” Larkin chuckled as her head spun around.
B’hana blew the powder in Hartley’s face. At first the Lieutenant just wrinkled her nose and tried to scratch it, but then, slowly she started to lose conciousness. The last thing she saw before blacking out was Counselor Peterman enter the room with Commander Conway.
“There she is, Commander. She’s been a lot of trouble. We have got to make her happy.”
Conway nodded gravely. “Whatever you need, Counselor.”
“What a day.” Hartley repeated softly as she blacked out.
“Mind telling me what the hell we’re going to do with that stuff, Larkin?” Conway asked, staring down at the container of sclorid.
“Quite simply, Commander,” Larkin began, “We will be reenacting the accident to the best of our ability. This will require us to detonate a quantity of sclorid and then engage the transporter beam nearby. Lieutenant Hartley is standing by in the transporter room to energize the tansporter. In theory, the effect will be the same.”
Conway nodded. “I see. So what are we going to transport?”
Larkin looked at the commander. “They will be transporting us.”
Conway held up a hand. “Wait one damn minute. Bad idea. What if Hartley messes up? Does this Hartley know how to work the transporter as well as the other one? If this doesn’t work, we’ll be blown to bits!”
“That is correct.”
“I did not sign on for this!” Conway shouted, stabbing his communicator. “Conway to Baxter. What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m fixing the space time continuum. The ship’s phasers are targeted on the sclorid and standing by. Lt. J’hana is normally a pretty good shot, but I’d hate for her to miss and fry your ass. Now shut up and get into position.” Conway could hear J’hana laughing in the background. She was really enjoying this.
“I’ll get you, Baxter.” Conway growled, stepping in front of the cargo container.
Larkin joined him. “I suppose you understand how critical timing is in this matter. If the sclorid is detonated a millisecond too soon, we will be blown to…”
“Just shut up,” Conway barked.
When Lt. Hartley opened her eyes, she found her arms and legs strapped into some sort of chair. Looking around, she saw that there was a great, swirling disco- type ball twinkling above her. She then saw Counselor Peterman sitting across from her.
“Oh, you’re up.” Peterman said happily. “That’s good. We’ve brought you back to my office for some therapy. Allow me to explain how the session is going to work. This machine is for those who don’t take right away to the transference effect. It rarely happens, but when it does, we haul this baby out. It is extremely painful, and, to be honest, 99 percent of the time it causes either insanity or death.”
“So I have a one percent chance, is that what you’re saying?” Hartley asked.
“No, not at all. That one percent is insanity followed by a slow, painful death.
“What a relief.” Hartley muttered. “Sounds like a kind of flawed concept.”
“It’s worked so far.” Peterman said happily. “Would you like something to drink?”
“Yeah, I’d like some real Terran Old Crow whiskey.” Hartley said, bargaining that Peterman wouldn’t keep something like that in her office in any universe.
“Well, I’ll see what the bar has. It’ll be hard…our bartender is currently indisposed, oh, but you knew that, didn’t you?”
Hartley growled under her breath as Peterman left the room.
The transporter chief stewed there for a moment, trying to work free of the straps. No good.
The door suddenly opened. Commander Conway stuck his head in the door, looked around, then came inside.
“Honeychops, I just couldn’t stand by and watch her do this.”
“Me neither.” Hartley replied wryly. “How about getting me out of this chair…um…dollbaby.”
Conway undid the straps. “I just want my old Meggie back.”
“You and me both. Listen, I was thinking about Mirk, and…I have an idea.” Hartley said, running around to the back of the machine she was hooked up to.
“What are you going to do, sweetie pie?” Conway asked, looking over her shoulder.
“I’m making some adjustments to Peterman’s device. It’s based on the Joegonot transference ray.”
“So?” Conway asked, confused.
“Well, if I recall, in our universe, the Secondprize’s science officer changed the machine to convert Joegonot brainwaves into human ones. I think I can do something similar.”
“Why would you want to, there aren’t any Joegonots here. We killed them all.”
Hartley just nodded her head, ripping at wires in the machine’s guts and pulling out the machine’s main isolinear board. “Listen…uh, Davey, I need you to call up Mirk’s brainwave record on your terminal.”
“Anything for you, sweetums.” Conway said obediently, running over to the terminal. “How do you know so much about this stuff?”
“I’m a transporter chief.” Hartley said, buried now in wires and circuitboards. “I’m the next best thing to an engineer.”
“Here you go.” Conway said, handing a padd to the Lieutenant.
“Wonderful. Now if this works, you’ll all have Maloxian brainwaves,” Hartley said, tapping some commands into the padd and hooking it’s inputs up to the machine. “Let’s hope it does.”
“Maloxian?” Conway asked.
Suddenly Peterman burst into the room. “What the hell?” She hurled the whiskey bottle she was carrying at Hartley.
Hartley lept across the room, digging her fingernails into Peterman’s face and knocking her into the wall. “Die you psycho bitch from hell!”
“Meggie here. Watcha want, punkin?” the voice echoed over the bridge speakers.
“Well, I just wanted to say goodbye,” Baxter replied. If this works, you’ll be back in your universe, and our grumpy, moody Megan will be back in ours. I just wanted to tell you that you did a wonderful job at your post and if I had my say in things, you’d be promoted to full Lieutenant.”
“Gee, thanks, sweetie pie.”
Baxter just pressed a button, closing the channel. “I’m going to miss that gal.” He was starting to get a little teary-eyed.
He heard a grunt of disapproval from behind him. “Blasted milk of human kindness crap.” J’hana muttered.
“As you were, Lieutenant. Now prepare to activate the phasers.”
“Hartley to Bridge. Cap’n Antney? I just wanted to ask a question. I have to energize the transporter when J’hana sends the signal, right?”
“Right.” Baxter said.
“Well, I just wanted to make sure…which direction do I slide the bars in?”
Baxter just covered his eyes. “Push them up, honey.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s what I thought. Thanks.”
“Still gonna miss her?” J’hana said from tactical.
“I didn’t say she was perfect. Fire the phasers already.” Baxter replied.
Hartley swung Counselor Peterman down, smashing her into her beautiful clear glass coffee table.
“Eat glass, you bitch!” Hartley cried.
Peterman got up and wiped the blood from the side of her mouth. “I see it will take a lot of work to make you happy.” She grabbed Hartley and slammed her head into the desk.
Peterman then turned to Commander Conway. “And what about you. What the are you doing sitting there, dumbass? Hook her up to the machine.”
Conway did as he was told. He had put the cover back on the machine during Peterman and Hartley’s struggle. He hoped Peterman wouldn’t notice. He wondered what the machine would do to them. Whatever it was, it was better than being at the mercy of this psychopathic Counselor. Everyone knew she was the one in control of the ship. That would last approximately one more minute, if Hartley was successful.
Hartley winced at the bump on her head, opening her eyes. “Hey, Peterman, mind explaining to me why you’re so unhappy? I thought you were just like the rest.”
Peterman leaned in close to Hartley’s face. “Well, I’m not, okay? The beam seemed to have a different effect on some people, mostly ship’s counselors, for some odd reason. We all work directly under her highness, Emporer Webber. We’re in charge of making sure everyone is…happy…while we build our empire.”
“You’re insane!” Hartley cried.
“Shut up. I’m the Counselor here, I’ll say who’s insane and who’s not. Hit the beam, Conway!”
Hartley looked up at Conway for a split second. “Thank you.” she whispered.
He winked, and whispered, “No, thank you for helping us…”
“…you crazy bitch! We almost died!” Conway continued, now shouting.
Hartley rubbed her head. “Where am I?”
“Where the hell do you think, on the Aerostar!” Conway railed.
He stepped off the transporter padd, followed by Larkin. “Commander, you do not even know if the experiment was a success.” Larkin stated, pulling out her tricorder.
“I don’t care. Neither of them knows a transporter
from a blender!” Conway ranted, walking over to the
Hartley pulled herself up, still feeling incredibly dizzy. “Oh, my dear Davey-wavey…” she smiled.
“Oh, shit.” Conway grumbled.
“…I’ve missed you’re tirades.” Hartley continued, grabbing him by his uniform and shoving him out the door.
Conway skidded across the corridor and hit the bulkhead, his face registering total shock.
“Baxter to Conway,” came Baxter’s voice over the comm. “Well…..? Did it work?”
Conway rubbed his head. “You could say that, sir.”
Supplemental. We are now rendezvousing with the Sulani starship Rangar to deliver our group of Haricorians to the relative safety of Sulani space. Before leaving, we destroyed what was left of the mines. No sense leaving any profit for the Flarn. I’m pleased to report that Lieutenant Hartley has returned to her body, and seems no worse for wear, other than a few scrapes and a little dizziness. I look forward to her report. It should make for some very interesting reading.
Lieutenant Hartley stared into her glass, looking up from time to time at the stars whizzing by the great windows of the Starlight Lounge. An entire crowd had gathered to hear her story. She had to admit, it was a pretty exiting adventure, although at the same time, extremely disturbing.
“So you slammed my head into the desk?” Counselor Peterman asked, amazed.
“Yeah, I gave the other you a beating she’ll not soon forget.”
“Ouch.” Peterman said, touching her forehead gingerly. “Well, it sounds like she deserved it. Scary to think that in some parallel reality I could be like that.”
“It was pretty scary.” Hartley agreed, downing the rest of her drink.
Mirk stood by, as awestruck as anyone. He refilled Hartley’s cup the second she emptied it. “So I actually died?”
“Yes, it’s a shame, too, because you were a really nice guy.”
“I still am!” Mirk said, straightening his silky red jacket and bow tie.
Hartley just laughed. “You guys were nothing alike, trust me.”
“So,” Ford asked, “what do you think happened in that universe?”
“I have no idea. If I was successful, the machine turned Commander Conway and Counselor Peterman, and the other me back to normal, and made them immune to the transference ray’s effects. They’ll have to do the rest.”
Larkin was sitting next to Ford. “I studied your report, Lieutenant, and, in my estimation you did an excellent job of recalibrating the tranference ray.”
Ford shook his head. “An evil Counselor Webber leading the Federation with the Secondprize as it’s flagship, with Commander Dillon in command…it’s almost unthinkable.”
“Evidently, in that universe, Lt. Commander Jaroch was not successful in restoring Captain Rydell to the time stream. With Dillon as Captain, the Secondprize had no
hope of stopping the Joegonots.”
Upon the mentionof the other ship and crew, the crowd began to dissipate, until even Ford and Larkin had gone.
“I’ll never understand it all.” Hartley said, shaking her head and taking back another shot of whiskey.
Mirk stood by the table as she stared out into the stars. “I think I will, some day.” He left the bottle of whiskey and returned to the bar.
Hartley continued to watch the stars a few more moments, finally leaving the lounge and heading straight to bed. After all, she had an appointment with Counselor Peterman the next morning to help her sort the past days’ events out in her head. And for some strange reason, she didn’t want to risk being late and angering her.
NEXT TIME ON STAR TRAKS: THE VEXED GENERATION:
Will they get together? Won’t they? The persistant Ross and Rachel-ness of Baxter and Peterman’s relationship is about to come to a head, as Baxter investigates a planet full of beautiful women, soon finding that it may not be the paradise he first thought it would be.