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

Author: Anthony Butler
Copyright: 1998

Captain’s Personal Log,

Stardate 52039.3. It’s been two weeks now since the Explorer returned to dry dock, and I’m happy to say that I’ve enjoyed every bit of my leave time. I am, however, anxious to get back to work. It’s been so long since I’ve been to my house on Earth, I almost forgot how boring it was here. Fortunately, now I have something…that is to say someone, to help alleviate that boredom.

Captain Baxter pushed the door to his bedroom open with one hand, carefully balancing the tray full of breakfast goodies on his knee.

Once inside, Baxter sat the tray down at the foot of his bed and removed the red rose from his mouth, briefly wondering how tango dancers stood the pain of biting down on thorns.

The Captain kneeled down next to the still sleeping Counselor Peterman, stroking the rose across her face.

“Good morning, sweetie,” Baxter whispered.

Peterman shot up in bed, endangering the pot of orange pekoe tea that sat on the breakfast plate. “Red Alert?”

Baxter quickly moved to grab the pot before it tipped over. “No, honey. We’re back on Earth, remember?”

“Whew,” Peterman said, laying back down. “I had the wierdest dream.”

“Do tell,” Baxter said, pouring Peterman some orange pekoe.

“I dreamt we were slingshotted halfway across the galaxy, and we had to fight these great big, angry-looking bug creatures.”

Baxter smiled, handing Peterman the cup. “I hate to tell you this, sweetie, but all that really happened.”

“Oh,” Peterman said. “I guess my subconcious hasn’t really gotten used to the fact of being back here yet.”

“Well, it hasn’t even been a month yet. Give it time,” Baxter said reassuringly, climbing into bed.

“Maybe I’m just nuts,” Peterman said with a frown.

“In that case,” Baxter said, grabbing a plate and handing it to Peterman. “I suggest you talk to the Counselor. She’ll be back on duty quite soon.”

“I hear she’s wonderful,” Peterman said, grabbing a fork and studying the plate Baxter handed her. “What’s this?”

“That,” Baxter said, grabbing his own plate. “Is the Baxter Omellete.”

“Oh,” Peterman said. “But I don’t eat eggs.”

“But it’s got three kinds of cheese!” Baxter said. “Just have one bite. You’ll love it!”

“Three words for you, Andy. Cholesterol. Cholesterol. Cholesterol.”

“But…” Baxter said. “I beat the eggs myself.”

“No buts,” Peterman said, grabbing the plates and setting them on the nightstand. “I’m going to have you eating healthy even if it kills you.”

“You know, I did put vegetables in it. Onions, peppers, uh, ham.”

“Ham is not a vegetable, Andy,” Peterman said, rolling over and sitting on top of Baxter’s chest, lovingly patting his tummy. “Now, we’re going to get ready of this gut, if it’s the last thing we do!”

“But I like my gut,” Baxter frowned.

Peterman snuggled closer. “Well, I like it too. But sometimes, when you love something, you have to let it go.”

“I guess,” Baxter said, stroking Peterman’s hair. “So you want me to go throw these in the reclamator and fix us some nice belgian waffles?”

Peterman rolled off of Baxter. “There you go. No syrup though.”

“Aw, Kelly.”

“You can put strawberries on them.”

“How about butter? That’s a vegetable, isn’t it?”

“No.” Peterman folded her arms. “You’re not going to be one of these old geezers who has his heart replaced at ninety. I want you to keep that ticker until at least one-twenty.”

Baxter sighed. “Okay, okay. No butter, no syrup.”

The Captain got up and stacked the two plates back on their tray. “Have you seen my housecoat, hon?”

“Uh-uh,” Peterman replied, snuggling back under the covers. “Just use mine.”

“Kelly…” Baxter said. “It’s pink and fluffy.”

“So? Who’s going to see you?” Peterman asked.

“Good point,” Baxter said, throwing Peterman’s robe on. He had to admit, the silk felt pretty good.

“It looks great on you, Andy.”

“But I feel like a dork.”

Peterman laughed. “That’s not the robe’s fault, baby.”

“Here ya go, Pandy,” Baxter whispered, scooping some of the Baxter Omellette into Pandora’s oversized dish. “At least you still appreciate my cooking.”

Pandora yipped quietly and chowed down.

Baxter stood up, looking out the kitchen door and into the foyer. Charlie was still, thankfully, asleep by the door.

After two weeks of living together, Baxter realized his dog and Counselor Peterman’s pets were completely incompatible. Usually, Pandora got along okay with the cats, but Charlie didn’t exactly see eye to eye with the Jack Russel. As a matter of fact, they fought constantly.

Satisfied that the house would at least be quiet for a few more minutes, Baxter began to scrape one of the plates into the matter reclamator. Before he scraped the other plate, he studied it a moment, glancing up at the ceiling, as if Peterman could actually hear him thinking about cheating on his so called “diet.”

“Yeah, right,” Baxter whispered, sticking a forkful of omellette into his mouth. Who would know?

Suddenly, Charlie jumped up and began barking relentlessly.

Baxter quickly put down his plate and ran over, grabbing the dog by the collar and sticking a stern finger in his face. “Quiet, Charlie! Do you want Kelly to come down here and catch me eating?”

Charlie just kept barking.

“Come on, shut up!” Baxter said, trying to hold the dog’s mouth shut with his hand.

In response, Charlie slapped Baxter across the face with a paw, knocking him backwards.

Baxter’s butt hit the granite floor of his foyer with a loud thump, as Charlie jumped on top of him and began relentlessly licking and gnawing.

Pandora immediately finished the last bit of her breakfast, her little paws skittering across the linoleum floor of the kitchen as she barreled into the foyer, leaping through the air and on top of Charlie.

“Get off, both of you!” Baxter shouted, trying to sit up, his legs insanely waving in the air as the dogs did battle. Who was Charlie barking at, anyway?

As if to answer that question, Baxter’s front door suddenly opened.

“Hello?” a woman asked, looking around. “Is anybody…” she looked down. “Woah.”

Baxter pushed Charlie aside and looked up. “Who’s…woah. Emily.”

“Andy…you’re back…” Emily said. “I didn’t…I mean I thought you were…”

“Yeah,” Baxter replied. “Well, I got back. I thought you’d moved away.”

“No, I was, um, in France. En Provence, actually.”

“Guess they didn’t get the news there,” Baxter said.

Emily stared down at Charlie and Pandora, then looked to Baxter. “Obviously.”

Baxter looked down at his pink, fluffy housecoat, just now realizing what he was wearing. “Oh, this…um, I can explain.”

“No need,” Emily said with a smile. “Actually, I…”

Suddenly someone stuck his head into Baxter’s door. “Emily…who’s here? I thought you said…” He looked down at Baxter. “Oh, my.”

“Andy,” Emily said, looking back at the man. “This is Tom. My husband. We just got back from our honeymoon.”

“Woah,” was all Andy managed to say.

“Hey, Andy…I found your…” Peterman said, coming down the stairs. She stopped a moment, looking from Baxter, to Charlie, to Pandora, to Emily, to Tom. “Robe.”

“Emily, Kelly. Kelly, Emily,” Baxter said tiredly, standing up. “Anybody want some waffles?”

Peterman spewed bits of Belgian waffle everywhere as she laughed. “I can’t beleive Andy used to dress like that!”

Baxter just covered his face, which was now red with embarassment.

“Yeah,” Emily said, staring at Baxter in amusement. “And he used to wear his shirts unbuttoned halfway down, supposedly so that the girls could see all his chest hair!”

“But he doesn’t have any chest hair!” Peterman said in between guffaws, slapping her hand down on the table.

“That’s what I tried to tell him!” Emily replied. “But he wouldn’t listen. He said he was a ‘trend-setter.’”

“Hey,” Baxter said, trying desparately to defend himself. “I was making a fashion statement.”

“The same fashion statement you’re making with that robe?” Emily asked.

Baxter crossed his legs and folded his arms. “I happen to think it brings out my eyes.”

Peterman put a reassuring hand on Baxter’s leg. “It works for you, darling.”

“Evidently it works a little too well,” Tom said. “Judging by the way that golden retriever was mounting you.”

“Hey,” Baxter said, standing up and taking his plate over to the kitchen counter. “Charlie and I are just friends.”

“Sure,” Emily said. “That’s what you told me.”

A hush fell over the crowd. “Very funny,” Baxter muttered.

“Isn’t he cute when he’s depressed?” Peterman asked.

Emily nodded. “Oh, yeah, and he was cute all the time.”

“Listen,” Baxter said. “If you guys are done thrashing me for my hip fashion sense and my debonaire attitude, I’m going to go and bail my dinghie out.”

“Is that what they’re calling it now?” Emily asked jokingly.

Baxter slid the glass door aside and marched outside into the brisk morning air. “Hardee har har.”

“Don’t mind him,” Peterman said, as Baxter slid the door shut. “It’s his time of the month. So, Emily, tell me more about Andy’s swingin’ bachelor days…”


Commander Conway rolled out of his bed, hitting the floor with a smack, and, choosing not to expend his precious energy in standing up, decided to bellycrawl across the room until he reached the door.

“Computer…” Conway said groggily. “Lights.”

As soon as the lights flicked on, Conway realized that he had made a terrible mistake. Due to his considerable hangover, the normal-level lights in his quarters seemed to be burning holes in his retinas.

“Computer!” Conway screamed. “Dim the lights!”

“By what factor?” The computer said pleasantly.

“By a lot!” Conway shouted, grabbing onto his desk and dragging himself to his feet.

“Please restate the command in terms of light magnitude.”

“Reduce lighting by one half, how’s that?” Conway asked shielding his eyes with his arm.

The computer obediently reduced the light level enough, at least, for Conway to keep his eyes open.

Conway shook the cloud of delirium from his head, briefly wondering why he had begun the seemingly impossible odessy of getting out of bed.

When the unbeliveable pounding on the bulkhead started up again, however, Conway remembered exactly why he had gotten up.

The first officer lurched to his door, pressing the “open” button and leaning outside.

“Is that really necessary?” he barked, squinting in the brighter light of the outside corridor.

“Afraid so,” Ensign Stuart said, as he and Ensign Sanchez worked at the exposed power conduit outside Conway’s quarters. “Lt. Commander Richards told us to get this new conduit installed as quickly as possible. Powering the residence decks with secondary reserves is causing a power drain or something.”

“Oh,” Conway said. “Well, do you have to be so freaking loud about it?”

“We’re working as quietly as possible sir,” Ensign Sanchez said serenely. “Awful sorry to interrupt your sleep.”

Conway wiped a hand over his face. “Fine. Bang all freaking night then. I’m going to see if I can replicate a seditive.”

“Good night sir,” Ensign Stuart said.

Stuart and Sanchez waited quietly as Conway disappeared back into his cabin.

“Where was I?” Sanchez asked, looking around to make sure no one was coming down the corridor.

“Sixty-five,” Stuart said. “Remember, the bet’s one hundred.”

“I can do it,” Sanchez said. “Just watch.”

Looking around once more, Sanchez approached the wall outside Conway’s quarters. He took a deep breath, leaned back, and proceeded to repeatedly ram his head into the bulkhead.

“Sixty-six…sixty-seven…sixty-eight,” Stuart counted. “I can’t believe that doesn’t hurt…sixty-nine….seventy…”

“It does,” Sanchez said as he continued ramming. “That’s what makes it so interesting.”

Commander Conway tossed back the cup of warm milk in one swig, which was at once burning hot and disgustingly terrible.

Conway quickly spat the vicious, heinous mixture out all over his wall, splattering Browning goo all over his treasured Led Zeppelin poster.

Cursing Jean-luc Picard’s Aunt Adele, and cursing the replicators for not providing real sedatives, Conway trudged back to bed in the vain hope that he could possibly get a few hours of sleep.

After fifteen minutes of tossing and turning, the first officer finally seemed to find a comfortable spot.

“Finally…” Conway muttered, drifting off into a peaceful sleep.

Soft music played in Conway’s dreams as beautiful naked women invited him to join them in a huge pool of lukewarm coffee.

“Why, sure I’ll join you…” Conway said happily, preparing to do a “cannonball.”

Then Conway’s doorchime rang. Who the hell would be stupid enough to come wake him at this hour?

Conway’s question was answered once the doors swung open to reveal Dr. Janice Browning.

“Hey, Commander,” Browning said. “Question. Which do you think is the better floral pattern?” She waved two different padds in front of Conway’s face.


“For my wedding.”

Conway scrubbed a hand down his face. “You woke me at 0100 hours so I could help you pick out a floral pattern for your WEDDING?”

“I can’t sleep, I’m so excited!” Browning said brightly. “Anyway, Stuart and Sanchez said you were up and around, so I didn’t think I’d be bothering you.”

“Figures,” Conway muttered. “Okay, let’s see those patterns.”

“McKinley station, we read you loud and clear. And may we add that we think you’re all a total snarg of fwarz-sharshers!”

“You tell ‘em, J’hana,” Richards said mildly from the Engineering console on Explorer’s bridge. J’hana’d been fighting with the people over at Docking Control ever since the Explorer had docked weeks ago. It was almost becoming tradition.

“You don’t know what that means? Look it up in the Andorian dictionary! Now leave me alone so I can plan how I’m going to blow your whole fwarking station out of the stars! Explorer out!”

“Pent up agression?” Richards asked with a grin.

J’hana slammed her tactical panel. “Anger at having been moved all the way to the side of the bridge. I was happy with my center position on the Aerostar bridge.”

“Oh, get over it,” Richards said, slapping closed his toolkit and stepping into the turbolift to head back down to engineering. “Why don’t you spend some time down on Earth and work off a little of that steam. Janice and I are going down to the Loray caverns tomorrow, since we’ll be leaving Earth soon.”

“An interesting prospect,” said J’hana. “I accept your invitation. We will leave at 0800 hours.”

“But–” Richards said, then the turbolift doors closed.

Richards tried thinking of ways to break the news to Janice that J’hana was coming with them on their so-called “romantic getaway” in Loray Caverns as he pressed the control to open the door to his office. The door slid open to reveal Lt. Larkin staring blankly at him.

He let out a brief scream. “Larkin! What are you doing just standing there!”

“Awaiting your arrival, sir.”

“Don’t call me sir. I’m your ‘mommy,’ remember?”

“Very well, Mommy,” Larkin said. “I wish to speak with you.”

Richards made his way to his desk. “Go ahead.”

“I think it is time that we engaged in some sort of token familial bonding experience. If we are to live on this ship as mother and daughter, it is important we learn about each other. While it is true that I have detailed biological and psychological profiles on you in my database, I do not know the ‘little things,’ that Counselor Peterman stressed were so important.”

“I see.”

“I am free tomorrow.”

“Hmm,” Richards said, checking his desktop terminal. “Tomorrow’s no good. Janice and I are going caving.”

“Excellent. I shall accompany you. I have not been to present-day Earth in quite a while. I should enjoy ‘taking in the sights.’”

Richards grimaced inwardly. He’d have to work on Larkin’s ability to take a hint. Her current subroutine was seriously lacking. “We leave at 0800,” Richards said weakly.

“Very well. Good day, Mommy.”

“Mom is good enough.”

“Very well, Mom.”

Commander Conway walked into Explorations early the next morning to find Mirk scrubbing a glass and whistling a pleasant tune.

“Why are you so damn chipper?” Conway asked, saddling up at the bar.

“No reason. Can I get you something.”

“The usual. Double black. Double strong. Triple-size.”

Mirk poured the huge vat of coffee and slid it Conway’s way. “Gee, Commander, you’re not your usual chatty self. What’s the problem?”

Conway swigged his coffee down. “I can’t sleep.”

Mirk stifled a giggle. “No wonder.”

Conway kept chugging. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

The first officer set down his empty mug. “More coffee. No, it isn’t obvious at all.”

“It’s the coffee, Commander. It’s a stimulant. You did know that, didn’t you?”

“Well, yeah. But I’ve always slept fine without it.”

“Maybe your system is finally catching up with all the caffeine. It’s really not healthy.”

“It isn’t your place to tell me what’s healthy and what isn’t. Just pour another damn mug of coffee.”

“Might I suggest defcaf?”

Conway let out a long, hard bellow. “That’s rich, Mirk.”

“I’m serious. It might help you get to sleep.”

Conway sighed. “Fine. I guess. Whatever.”

Mirk smiled. “Trust me, sir. You won’t regret this.”

“Sure I won’t.”

“Well, this sure is nice,” Lt. Commander Richards said, leaning back on his hands and surveying the array of stalagtites and stalagmites that surrounded him.

“Mm hm,” Browning replied disinterestedly.

“You’re not still mad at me, are you?” Richards asked hopefully.

Browning shifted her weight on the blanket. “No, certainly not.”


At J’hana’s command, Lt. Larkin tossed a rock gracefully into the air and the Andorian let loose a barrage of compression-phaser fire. The rock disintegrated cleanly.

“Excellent, Lieutenant,” Larkin said crisply. “Thus far you have a perfect score.”

“I know. It sickens me. I need more of a challenge.”

“How about picking out appetizers for the bridal shower?” Browning suggested. “That’s a challenge.”

“Only if it involves blowing them apart with my phaser rifle, Doctor,” J’hana replied. “Otherwise, it, along with the rest of your pathetic human marraige custom, is a waste of time.”

“Thanks for the input,” Browning said diplomatically. She shot Richards a glare that told him he’d be paying dearly for this. Probably by shelling out the latinum for some expensive wedding accessories. Richards yanked a biscotti out of his picnic basket and chewed it nervously.

“Thanks for coming!” Baxter said, waving good-bye to Emily and Tom as they jumped into their hovercrusier and sped off. As soon as they were out of sight he turned sullenly around and slammed shut his heavy oaken door.

“Well, that was lovely,” Peterman said, clearing the remains of their second consecutive breakfast with Emily and Tom away and shoving them in the reclamator.

“I cannot believe you asked them to spend the whole day with us and then invited them to spend the night!” Baxter grumbled, collapsing behind the kitchen table.

“What’s the problem?” Peterman blinked in surprise.

“It was just…well, awkward.”

“But you like Emily. And Tom really seemed to bond with you. Didn’t you guys have fun fishing?”

Baxter sighed. “Sure, I guess. I like them both fine. But it seems like Emily belongs in another world now. It just felt weird having you both in the same room together, considering.”

Peterman nodded knowingly. “Considering you used to be in love with her. And now you’re…” she waited for Baxter to finish the sentence.

“In love with you,” Baxter said. “Just in case you were wondering.”

Peterman smiled. “I wasn’t!”

“Anyway, it seems like I’ve closed the chapter in my life that Emily was a part of.”

“You’ve changed a lot since you were assigned to the Aerostar a year ago.”

Baxter smiled proudly. “I’m my own person now.”

“I wouldn’t go that far.” Peterman walked sultrily over to Baxter’s chair and sat in his lap, cradling his head against her shoulder. “You’re my own person.”

“Still. An improvement.”

“Commander,” Lt. Tilleran said softly, nudging Conway’s shoulder.

Conway stirred. “Eh?”

“A park ranger from Earth’s Loray Caverns is on the comm. Something about Commander Richards’s party.”

“Who’s having a party?”

“The group who went down to the caverns this morning?”

“Sure I’ll go to the tavern with you. Let me just get my knickers.”

Tilleran glanced over at the tactical console. The comm line was bleeping annoyingly. The ranger would be getting pretty ticked about being on hold by now. “Forgive me, Commander.” Tilleran reached over and punched up the vibration controls on the command chair, setting them to their highest level. Instantly, Conway shot out of the chair and fell painfully to the deck.

He glanced up from his position on the floor. “What does this ranger want?”

“Beats me.”

“Put him on screen.”

Conway peered up tiredly at the viewscreen as the turning orb of Earth was replaced by a dank, wet cavern. In the foreground, a man in a green and tan ranger’s uniform gestured to several workers. “Careful with that! Adjust the gain on the tractor beam!”

“What do you want?” Conway muttered bluntly.

The ranger turned. “There you are. I’m Ranger Phil Harris. A group from your ship was caving down here this afternoon. Our best guess is that they were firing some sort of compression phaser beam down here and accidentally loosened some of the surronding rock formations. It resulted in a total collapse of that section.”

“Tough,” Conway mumbled.

Phil Harris blinked. “Anyway, we can’t use transporters to get them out, because it would destabilize the entire area, and put everyone down here in danger.”

“So you’re saying our people are trapped in there and you guys can’t get them out?”

“In a nutshell.”

“We’ll get them,” Conway said blankly. “Conway to Hartley.”

“Hartley here,” muttered Lt. Megan Hartley over the comm.

“Lock onto Commander Richards and the rest of his group and beam them up.”

“But sir!” shouted the ranger on the main screen. “I just told you, that will destabilize–!”

Suddenly, the surrounding walls collided down around Harris’ ears, until he was also buried in crashing debris.

All they heard over the comm was a brief “Urgh” from Harris.

“Whoops,” Conway muttered. “Close channel. I’m going to go sleep in the ready room. Less interruptions.”

The next day, Baxter and Peterman returned to the Explorer to find it totally repaired and ready to officially begin duty. After stopping by their quarters to drop off their luggage and change uniforms, they made their way toward the bridge.

When they passed Explorations, they heard the distinct gutteral, hoarse tone of a very tired Commander Conway.

Baxter poked his head into the lounge. Commander Conway had Mirk by the lapels and was shaking him vigorously. It looked like it took every ounce of energy the Commander had left.


“Aren’t you getting more sleep, sir?”

“I’m getting nothing but sleep! Help…me.” And Conway collapsed to the deck.

Mirk called out to Elli, his Bolian assistant. “Elli! Get me four quarts of Conway’s Choice #3 STAT! And call down to Sickbay to see if we can borrow an IV!”

Baxter grinned at the commotion and gestured for Peterman to follow him to the turbolift that would take them to the bridge. “It’s nice to be back.”

“All right, folks,” Baxter said stepping out of his readyroom less than an hour later, after reading the engineering and staff reports about the last two weeks of layover time. “Let’s get to our stations and prepare the ship for debarkation. I want us kicking up dust in ten minutes.”

“Kicking up…?” Larkin asked from ops.

From the quarterdeck behind the command chairs, Dr. Browning grinned, despite the fact that she was wearing a large grey bandage over one side of her head from the collapse of the cavern down on Earth. “He means he wants us to be ready to leave.”

“Oh,” Larkin said. “A human vernacular that I was not aware of. I must expand my library.”

“Expand some other time, Lieutenant,” Baxter said, taking his chair. “Right now I need you to chat with McKinley station and see if you can get them to release the docking clamps. For some reason they didn’t take well to Lt. J’hana’s charm and charisma.”

“They called me a ‘poop head,’ sir,” J’hana said defensively, taking her station. “I am not accustomed to being addressed in such a manner.”

“Maybe they weren’t accustomed to having their reproductive organs threatened, Lieutenant. Did you ever think of that?” Baxter asked wryly.

“Honestly, no, I did not,” J’hana admitted, looking down at her panel. “Sir, Admiral McGrath is responding to your earlier hail.”

“Good. Put him on screen,” Baxter said. “And try not to threaten his reproductive organs.”

“If you say so,” J’hana sighed, hitting a control.

“Captain Baxter,” Admiral Frank McGrath said pleasantly. “I trust you’re all ready to go?”

“Ready as we’ll ever be, Admiral,” Baxter said. “Sure you don’t want to come along?” The captain tried to hide the amusement in his voice.

“That’s quite alright, Captain,” McGrath said nervously. “I had enough…um…fun on my last excursion to last a lifetime. Exploring the final frontier is a nice concept, but I’d rather sit behind my desk and hear reports about it, thank you very much.”

“Aw, that’s too bad,” Baxter said, covering his mouth with a padd,

in order to hide his smile. “In that case, we’d better get underway. You’ll hear from us in a few days. Explorer out.”

“Such a nice guy,” Ensign Ford said from the helm.

“Much nicer now that he’s not taking up residence on my ship anymore.”

Peterman carried a hot cup of tea over from the replicator and sat down beside Baxter. “Your ship. You like saying that, don’t you.”

“Must have taken a lot of counseling school to figure that one out, huh?” Baxter grinned.

“She’s ship-shape, sir,” Lt. Commander Richards said, stepping out of the foreward turbolift. “We can leave on your order.”

“Good to hear,” Baxter said. He glanced back at Browning. “Janice tells me you guys had quite a vacaqtion yesterday.”

Richards glared at J’hana. “It would have been nicer had J’hana not nearly killed us when she missed that bat and destroyed a chunk of one of Earth’s natural wonders.”

“Remind me to go back again the next time we’re in this sector,” J’hana said wistfully.

“I doubt you’d be allowed,” Browning said, mildly amused.

“At least we had a fruitful bonding experience,” Larkin offered.

“Fruitful for you, maybe,” Richards said, taking up the engineering station.

“Enough, already,” Baxter said. “Mr. Ford, set a course for–”

Then Conway stepped out of the aft turbolift. He glared at everyone on the bridge. “What the hell are you all looking at?”

“Back to your old charming self, eh, Commander?” Baxter asked amiably, as Conway trudged down to his seat.

“I’m drinking caffeinated coffee again, if that’s what you mean. I told Mirk if he changed blends on me again I’d kill him.”

“Not an empty threat, I would imagine,” J’hana chuckled.

“Damn right,” Conway said.

“It’s so nice to see the family back together again,” Peterman remarked, crossing her legs and folding her hands over her knees. “Just the way we should be.”

“What a load of crap,” Conway grumbled, folding his arms.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” Baxter said. “Mr. Ford, set a course for the Blardvar system, warp six.”

“Course laid in. And I got laid too, by the way.”

“Good for you. Engage.”

And the Explorer staggered drunkenly toward the final frontier.


Baxter creates life! Conway gets command! Ford joins a cult! The Explorer goes Disney! Peterman meets Richard Simmons! Larkin meets Larkin! Tilleran eats brains! Dogs take the ship! Pregnancy abounds! The crew throws a wedding!


Tags: vexed