Author: Anthony Butler
For DeForest Kelley
Stardate 52309.3. After being in spacedock for almost two weeks, the damage done to the Explorer when she, er, “hit ground” is close to being repaired. Before we can return to duty, however, there is some unfinished business to be taken care of. Some business that I’ve dreaded since returning to Earth.
Captain Baxter twiddled his thumbs nervously as he looked around Admiral McGrath ‘s office. It was a nice office. Much nicer than the new readyroom the folks at McKinley station were making him. Baxter considered becoming an Admiral many times. It had to be easier than starship duty.
The doors to McGrath ‘s office swooshed open, allowing the Admiral to scurry in quickly. He set a large briefcase down on his desk and opened it, rifling through the many padds of information within.
“Sorry I’m late,” McGrath said, holding up a padd and examining it. “I’ve had a lot of things to do since getting back from Vulcan.”
“How was the science conference, sir?” Baxter asked nervously.
“Long,” McGrath sighed, collapsing in his chair.
“Oh,” Baxter said. “I’ve heard it’s a pretty planet. Especially this time of–”
“Let’s get right down to it, Andy,” McGrath said, holding up a padd and looking at it. “It says here that the Explorer was attacked and pounded on by two gigantic…‘bigfoot’-like creatures.”
“That’s correct, sir,” Baxter said, straightening in his chair.
“In the Great Bird’s name, how?”
“Um, well…it’s kind of hard to explain, Admiral,” Baxter said. “You see, there was this interdimensional shift, and a planet appeared around us, and we had to break ourselves out.”
“They ripped right through your ablative armor,” McGrath said, rubbing his eyes tiredly.
“They destroyed your bridge.”
“The…um…‘mommy’…as you refer to her in your report…she hung on to your ship as it left this planet’s atmosphere?”
“How on Earth do you get into situations like this?” McGrath asked incredulously.
“Beats me,” Baxter said.
“You’ve put that ship through more punishment in two months than most people do in five years!” McGrath exclaimed. “Why, on the first mission, your first officer rammed the Explorer into another vessel.”
“In Conway’s defense, sir, they did successfully destroy the Furachi ship.”
“What about the matter of Verculon Two?” Kane prodded. “Am I to just ignore that?”
Baxter shifted uncomfortably. “I’d rather you did, sir.”
“And…who is this…Jabobo?” McGrath asked, scratching his head.
“Um, he was a temporary crewmember, sir.”
“Yes. I, um, created him.”
“You created him?” McGrath asked, leaning forward and staring at the padd in confusion. “Then blew him up?”
“Sir, I’d rather not talk about it,” Baxter said. “As a matter of fact, I’m under strict orders from my counselor never to mention its name or talk about it again.”
McGrath sighed, leaning back in his chair and staring up at the ceiling. “This is not what I had in mind when I came up with the Explorer project.”
“Well, sir…that is…I mean, we did…” Baxter stammered. He felt like he was back in tenth grade in the principal’s office.
Suddenly the comm signal sounded in McGrath’s office.
“Admiral McGrath, we have a priority one message coming through. It’s marked private…for your eyes only.”
McGrath pressed a button on his desk. “Thanks, Libby. Pipe it through to my terminal.”
McGrath turned his back to Baxter, pressing a button on his small terminal screen. “This will just take a second, Andy.”
Baxter sat back and waited as McGrath looked over the information on his terminal.
“Oh, no!” McGrath gasped. “How could this have happened?”
Baxter walked around to McGrath ‘s terminal and peered over his shoulder. “What is it, sir? Can I do something to help?”
McGrath looked back at Baxter, smiling broadly. “As a matter of fact, you certainly can.”
Captain Baxter followed Admiral McGrath up the steps of the sprawling plantation house, marvelling at how well it had been preserved. Whoever lived here must have really been into preserving tradition.
“Now don’t make any sudden movements and let me do all the talking,” McGrath said, pushing the doorbell.
“Who is this, Admiral?” Baxter asked, looking around.
“An old friend. A very old friend,” McGrath said, as a tall, thin woman opened the door. She looked quite frantic.
“Are you McGrath ?” she demanded.
“Yes,” McGrath replied.
“Well, he’s been asking for you,” the woman replied. “In between cussing me out and flirting with me. I’m out of here.”
“But…” McGrath said. It was too late, the woman was already on her way down the dirt road
“Follow me,” McGrath sighed, leading Baxter through the house.
“Frankie, is that you?” a gruff voice asked from the other room.
“Yes, sir, it’s me,” McGrath said, weaving his way around the dusty antique furniture.
Baxter felt like a bull in a china shop. He was barely able to avoid knocking over the nineteenth century grandfather clock that loomed over the foyer as he followed McGrath to the back room.
When Baxter emerged in the dark, gloomy parlor, he gasped at the sight of the man in the rocking chair.
“Admiral…is that…?” Baxter whispered.
“Admiral McCoy, how are you?” McGrath asked, speaking loudly enough that McCoy could hear him.
“How the hell d’you think I am, boy? I’ve got a god damn broken hip is how I am!” McCoy ranted.
“Sorry to hear that, sir!” McGrath said. “I came to help.”
“Did you get rid of that god damned woman?” McCoy shouted. “She drove me crazy. She kept trying to take my lap robe, but I wouldn’t let her!”
“She’s gone now, sir,” McGrath said. “Is there something I can do for you?”
“You can have someone come and take care of the farm. With this busted hip, I can’t do it all myself,” McCoy grumbled, looking from McGrath to Baxter. “Who the hell is that?”
“Captain Andy Baxter, sir,” McGrath said. “Of the Explorer.”
“A starship captain, eh?” McCoy said, squinting up at Baxter. “You ever see a planet killer, son?”
“No sir,” Baxter said uneasily. “But I did recently battle a sixty meter tall monster.”
“You don’t say,” McCoy said, grabbing Baxter’s hand and pulling him down towards him with surprising strength. “You know anything about captaining a starship, boy?”
“Uh…uh…” Baxter said nervously, looking up to McGrath for help and trying to break the old man’s unbreakable grip.
“I could tell you stories that would turn your poop white, son,” McCoy said with a crooked-toothed smile. “You got time to sit a spell with me?”
“He has all the time in the world, Admiral,” McGrath said pleasantly, smiling down at Baxter. “The Captain and his crew are at your disposal.”
“Well bust my britches,” McCoy said. “I do believe we’ll get along famously, boy. You want a peppermint candy?”
“Don’t hurt me,” Baxter whimpered.
Supplemental. Before heading back to Starfleet Command, Admiral McGrath, in his ultimate wisdom, has decided to commit my entire crew to seeing to Admiral McCoy’s farm house and catering to the old fart’s every need. Needless to say, my crew is none too thrilled with having their shoreleave cut short.
“Then we realized that the creature absorbed blood cells, so we were able to find a way to lure him back to the planet’s surface…” McCoy said, looking around to see the reaction this caused in the faces of the officers around him.
“That’s uh, very interesting, sir…” Counselor Peterman said, when suddenly McCoy looked up.
“Hey, boy, where’s my puddin?” McCoy rasped, waving his cane in the air. “You better get out here!”
Commander Conway grunted in displeasure as he brought the tapioca pudding out of the kitchen. Peterman had to laugh at the apron and chef’s hat the Admiral insisted that Conway wear.
“Here it is you old…” Conway grumbled, shoving the bowl into McCoy’s hand.
“Now, now, Commander. He’s an esteemed elder,” Counselor Peterman said, waving a finger at Conway.
“Shut up,” Conway growled.
“The girl’s right, Conway. You oughta respect your elders,” McCoy said, looking over to Peterman. “You know, you’re pretty cute, missy.”
“Thank you,” Peterman smiled, sticking her tongue out at Conway.
At seeing Peterman’s tongue, McCoy’s eyes grew wide. “How about giving your old Uncle Leonard a big sloppy kiss!”
McCoy leaned out of his chair and moved towards Peterman, who shrunk away in fear.
“Have fun, Counselor!” Conway laughed, returning to the kitchen to start on the roast McCoy had ordered for dinner.
Captain Baxter entered the room, wiping his forehead with a towel. “We finished plowing the fields, Admiral. I…hey! What the hell are you doing to my girlfriend!” Baxter ran to separate McCoy from Peterman.
“We’re just gettin’ acquainted!” McCoy rasped, sticking his tongue out and aiming for Peterman’s ear.
Baxter quickly moved Peterman away and scooped McCoy back into his chair. “You should know better, sir. You’re five times older than her!”
McCoy looked up at Baxter angrily. “Just because I’m almost one-fifty don’t mean I don’t have needs, boy!”
“Well, we’ve got plenty of crewmembers that aren’t my girlfriend for you to grope, Admiral,” Baxter said, looking down at Peterman. “Are you okay, honey?”
“I guess,” Peterman said, looking back at McCoy. “You should be ashamed, Admiral.”
“Just because I want a little of the old hoochie coochie?” McCoy said. “You know Spock has to mate once every seven years to survive. I bet he still gets it regular.”
“Time for your medicaton, Admiral!” Dr. Browning said cheerfully, walking into the room with a hypospray.
“Hi, beautiful,” McCoy said sweetly.
“Be careful, Janice,” Baxter said. “I think he’s rabid.”
“He’s bein mean to me, Janice,” McCoy said, looking pleadingly into Browning’s eyes.
“Stop being mean to him, Andy,” Dr. Browning said, gently placing the hypospray on McCoy’s arm.
“But he tried to stick his tongue into Kelly’s ear!” Baxter protested.
“It was just a friendly gesture,” McCoy insisted.
“See?” Browning said. “He was just trying to be friendly.”
“Like hell,” Baxter said. “You’d better watch yourself, you old scoundrel.”
Just then, Baxter’s comm badge beeped. “Richards to Baxter. We’ll be ready to get underway within the next few hours, sir.”
Baxter slapped his comm badge. “That’s great, Chris. Now we just have to stay here with McCoy until he gets better.” Baxter glared down at McCoy. “Or dies.”
“Okay. We’ll stand by up here in case you need anything.”
“Acknowledged. Baxter out.”
“Did he say your starship was fixed?” McCoy asked, as Browning took some readings with her medical tricorder.
“Yes, he did. But we can’t go anywhere until you get well. Or die.”
“I’d love to ride in a starship again,” McCoy said with wonder. “Feel the rattling of the deck beneath my feet. Watch the stars blaze by on the viewscreen…”
“Forget it,” Baxter said. “The only thing you’ll be riding is that rocking chair.”
“You know, Andy, some fresh air might do him some good,” Browning said. “A change of scenery…another planet, maybe.”
“Don’t encourage him, Janice,” Baxter replied. “How long until that hip heals?”
“It’s almost better. He’ll have to use a cane and some parabolic stabilizers for a while, but he’s coming right along.”
“Wonderful,” Baxter said unenthusiastically. “Kelly, why don’t you go back aboard the Explorer and start unpacking.”
“Okay,” Peterman said, looking down at McCoy. “Peterman to Explorer. One to beam up.”
McCoy glared longingly at Peterman as she disappeared.
Suddenly Commander Conway emerged once again from the kitchen. “Do you want mashed potatoes or rice and gravy with your roast beef, Admiral?”
“I want some God damned puddin!” McCoy said, looking down at his bowl.
“But I just gave you pudding,” Conway said in annoyance.
“This is tapioca flavor,” McCoy said, looking down at the bowl. “I wanted chocolate.”
“A minute ago, you asked for tapioca,” Conway said, hands on hips. “Now make up your freaking mind.”
With that, the Admiral hurled the bowl at Conway, splashing pudding all over Conway’s face. The commander just glared at McCoy as the pudding dripped down his apron.
Conway sighed. “Fine, fine. I’ll get you some chocolate pudding.”
“What else can I do for you, Admiral?” Baxter asked tiredly.
McCoy stuck his foot up in the air. “You can rub my bunions, boy. They’re killing me.”
Baxter stared at McCoy’s withered foot in disgust. “Admiral…I don’t think…”
Just then, Larkin and Ford entered the room.
“We have finished cleaning the barn, sir,” Larkin said, looking down at McCoy. “Admiral, is there a problem with your feet?”
“Damn right there is, Miss Robot. I got bunions. And Captain Baxter ain’t helping.”
“I shall endeavor to assist you, sir,” Larkin said, bending down and rubbing McCoy’s feet.
Baxter turned to Ensign Ford. “Report, Ensign.”
“The barn was crawling with all sorts of disgusting animals, sir.” Ford said. “And some dead ones too. We got most of it cleared out, though. And Tilleran’s fixing the combine right now.”
“Great,” Baxter said. “What about the cotton?”
“The guys from engineering are fixing the cotton gin,” Ford said.
“I didn’t realize taking care of a farm took so much work,” Baxter said, rubbing his chin.
McCoy groaned in delight as Larkin rubbed his feet. “Boy this feels good, girlie!”
“I am programmed in multiple techniques, Admiral.”
“How much longer do we have to do this, sir?” Ford whispered, as Baxter watched Larkin work with disgust.
“As long as it takes, mister.”
“Baxter!” McCoy railed. “Get my spectacles!”
The Captain sighed, trudging upstairs to the dusty, cramped tomb that McCoy called his bedroom. “Right away, Admiral.”
Later that night, after McCoy and the command staff chowed down on Conway’s roast, most of the group had been allowed to return to the Explorer. Unfortunately, some of them had to stay behind–at McCoy’s “request.”
“Please let me go back to the ship, Admiral,” Commander Conway whined, following McCoy as he hobbled back to the kitchen.
“I’ll do no such thing,” McCoy said, swinging open the refrigerator door. “Now where’d you put them leftovers, boy?”
“Bottom shelf,” Conway said. “Why won’t you let me go?”
“Because I’m lonely. There’s no one to talk to around here.”
“You have Dr. Browning and Commander Larkin. Why can’t you just talk to them?”
“I’m not going to waste my time chatting with a god damn robot,” McCoy rasped, yanking the remains of the roast out of the fridge and slamming them down on the counter. “And Dr. Browning is so busy eating and checking on my vital signs, I can tell she’s not listening to me.”
“But, Admiral!” Conway whined, as McCoy sorted through a drawer to find his laser carver.
“No buts!” McCoy said, finally finding the laser carver.
Conway continued to whine as McCoy cut off a piece of roast beef.
The Admiral placed the rest in the fridge and proceeded into the living room with his snack, Conway hot on his heels.
“You know Captain Baxter could come down here, sir,” Conway said. “You like him, don’t you?”
“Not after he took that girlie away,” McCoy complained, messily devouring the roast beef.
Conway took a seat in McCoy’s rocking chair as the Admiral made himself comfortable on the couch.
The first officer watched as McCoy ate, twiddling his thumbs and looking around the living room.
McCoy looked up from his roast beef and eyed Conway suspiciously. “Why are you just sitting there? Talk to me, boy! Entertain me!”
“What the hell do you want me to do?” Conway asked. “Dance for you?”
“You need to loosen up, boy,” McCoy said. “Go behind the bar and see if you can find my old Kentucky whiskey.”
“I’m more a coffee man, actually,” Conway said quietly.
“Get it!” McCoy snarled loudly. “And get me some too!”
“Okay, okay,” Conway said, running behind McCoy’s decrepit bar and searching for the bottle of whiskey.
Dr. Browning tossed and turned in the lumpy bed in McCoy’s guest room, trying to ignore the strong smell of mothballs and dust that pervaded the room. She briefely wondered what Starfleet Medical would think about a paper on the scientific origin of “old people” smell.
Browning rolled over on the bed, stretching out her arms and legs, trying to find a comfortable position.
Suddenly her hand hit something solid, causing her to jolt awake.
Browning stifled a shriek as she realized she was staring Lt. Commander Larkin right in the face.
“I am sorry,” Larkin said. “Did I wake you, Doctor?”
“Kind of,” Browning said, turning over. The android was perched at the end of Browning’s bed, evidently putting herself through some kind of maintenance cycle.
“I could move to the other room if you would like,” Larkin suggested, as Browning continued to try and get comfortable.
“That’s okay,” Browning said. “What are you doing, anyway?”
“Organizing my files. I am trying to understand the nature of debilitating bone disease, in an attempt to formulate an aid to Admiral McCoy’s discomfort.”
“That’s very nice of you, Larkin,” Browning said, tucking her head underneath a pillow. The Doctor suddenly became aware of the noise of loud music. She didn’t recognize the period the music was from, but it was absolutely horrible.
“Mommas, don’t let your baby’s grow up to be cowboys…”
Browning hopped out of bed, throwing on her robe. “What’s going on down there?”
“Country music, Doctor. Late twentieth century. Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. A quite effective pairing of two wildly diff–”
“Well, whatever it is, it’s annoying,” Browning said, marching down the stairs.
“…let ‘em be doctors and lawyers and such…” McCoy and Conway sang drunkenly, taking turns pulling from McCoy’s bottle of whiskey.
Both men were slouched on the couch, pounding down whiskey and smoking away at McCoy’s private stash of Cuban cigars.
“And then she told me she decided to join the Maquis,” Conway said in annoyance as Jennings and Nelson twanged on.
“Isn’t that always the way?” McCoy asked. “Just when you think a woman loves you, she becomes a terrorist.”
“I think she did it just to avoid me,” Conway said sadly. “It always seems like women are trying to avoid me.”
Suddenly Conway was hit square in the face by a huge, fluffy pillow.
The First Officer threw the pillow to the ground and spat out feathers. “What the hell?”
Dr. Browning marched down the stairs and picked up the pillow, shaking it in Conway’s face. “Some of us are trying to get some sleep here, Commander!”
Conway looked at McCoy in amusement. “I’m not trying to get any sleep, are you, Admiral?”
“Hell, no,” McCoy smiled. “Gee, Commander…seems like Doc Browning here isn’t trying to avoid you.”
“Believe me, I would if I could,” Browning growled, grabbing the bottle of whiskey and McCoy’s cigar. “You are way too old to be drinking and smoking. Those replacement organs of yours are very expensive. Do you think new lungs come cheap?”
“That’s why I have Starfleet Medical benefits,” McCoy said.
“You mean Fedecare?” Conway laughed. “Sure, President Enyo said he was going to reform health insurance, but I haven’t seen any proof of that!”
“No, no,” McCoy corrected, “that’s what his wife said!”
“Enough!” Browning shouted. “You two go to sleep right now, or so help me God I’ll sedate both of you!”
“We both outrank you, sister!” Conway slurred drunkenly, standing up uneasily and staring Dr. Browning in the face. “So I’m going to order you to leave us alone and ***BRAAAAP*** go back to bed!”
“And bring us some more whiskey!” McCoy said with a belch.
“Arrrrrrggghh!” Browning cried, shoving the pillow back into Conway’s face and marching back upstairs.
“Was it something I said?” Conway said happily.
“Must have been,” McCoy grumbled. “You know, women are not worth all the trouble, son. Captain Kirk had women like nobody’s business, and what happened to him? He got caught up in a damn space ribbon or some such nonsense.”
“What’s your point?” Conway asked drunkenly.
McCoy shrugged. “I don’t know that I had a point. Hey, you know what would be fun?”
Deep in a hidden cavern base on Romulus, Ambassador Spock leaned forward and pressed a button on his terminal. Evidently someone in the Federation had sent him an important coded message, and it was important enough to rouse him from his evening meditation.
“Spock here,” Spock said, looking at the blurry image of a Starfleet officer on his screen.
“Hello there, Mr. Spock. I’m calling from the…BRAAAP… Federation Lottery to inform you that you have one four million bars of gold pressed latinum.”
Spock shook his head. “I did not enter myself in any lottery. You are mistaken.”
“Then is there a Mister Beeo there? First name Ihav?”
“Hold on one moment, I will check,” Spock said, going out into the main gathering area.
Spock’s pupils were busy studying the latest Vulcan proverbs he had given him.
“Excuse me,” Spock said tiredly. “I am looking for someone. Ihav Beeo.”
“You have B.O.? Perhaps you should wash more thoroughly, teacher!” one of the pupils said.
“I see,” Spock said, turning and heading back to his private room.
“How’s that for logic you….God damned…URRRP…green blooded Vulcan!” a familiar voice said. Spock looked down at his terminal to see Admiral McCoy standing next to the officer on the screen.
“McCoy put me up to it!” the officer shrieked happily.
“Admiral, might I remind you that this channel is secured for emergency use by Starfleet Security personnel. By sending this message, you are not only putting me, but the entire Romulan dissident movement, in danger.”
“And that’s what makes it so funny, Spock,” McCoy croaked.
“It is troubling that your mind has become so distorted by old age, Admiral. It is likely that you will not survive much longer. I will attempt to make it to your funeral.”
“Why you damned–” McCoy said, as Spock cut the channel.
”–green-blooded son of a bitch!” McCoy shouted, tossing his terminal across the room. “How dare he hang up on me!”
“We did…urp…prank call him,” Conway said, trying to hold himself up against McCoy’s endtable then finally giving up and collapsing to the ground.
“Get up, boy. We’re going to settle this.”
Conway looked up as McCoy dragged him to his feet. “And how are we going to do that?”
McCoy laughed hideously. “By pulling the biggest prank in the galaxy!”
“Sounds good to me,” Conway mumbled, following McCoy as he lurched up the stairs.
“Shh!” McCoy said, as he and Conway tiptoed into the guestroom. “You don’t want to wake the doctor!”
Dr. Browning was snoring peacefully under a mound of covers and Lt. Commander Larkin was perched on the end of the bed.
The android turned her head and looked at Conway. “Commander, what can I–”
Conway slapped a hand over Larkin’s mouth and stabbed a finger into her armpit, hitting the android’s “off” switch.
“What now?” Conway asked, dragging Larkin out of McCoy’s house and toward his barn.
McCoy grunted as he hobbled over to the door to his barn, heaving it open with a loud creak. “We’re going to teach that damned Vulcan a thing or two about logic.”
“How?” Conway asked, dragging Larkin into the barn.
“You’ll see,” McCoy replied.
Once in the barn, McCoy approached a large, dark hulking mass. “This is the Oppenheimer. A shuttle from the original Enterprise. Help me pull this tarp off ‘er.”
Conway whistled once the tarp was off. McCoy had an antique shuttlecraft in his barn, circa 2279 if Conway’s guess was right.
“Wow, Admiral. This is a beauty!”
“The girl’s in mint condition. Now toss that android in the back.”
“Yes, sir,” Conway saluted, climbing in with Larkin in tow.
McCoy hobbled into the pilot’s seat and blew the dust off the controls. “Been quite a while since I took a spin in this baby.”
“Does it fly?” Conway asked, examining the antiquated panels.
“Damned if I know. We’ll sure as sugar find out though. Hold on.”
With that, the Oppenheimer hummed to life, rising off the floor of McCoy’s barn and tearing through the roof.
The next morning, Dr. Browning woke up to a mercifully quiet house. She slid out of bed and pulled her hair back into a ponytail, noting that Larkin wasn’t there. Browning figured the android had gone down to make breakfast.
The doctor reminded herself to thank Larkin for being so thoughtful as she made her way down the stairs.
“Commander Larkin? Admiral McCoy? Commander Conway?” Browning called out as she moved through the living room and peeked into the kitchen. Everyone was gone.
Browning scratched her head and wondered what had happened to everyone as she glanced out the kitchen window.
She looked at McCoy’s barn and scratched her head as her eyes fell upon the huge hole that graced its roof.
“Well, that’s certainly odd.”
“Thank you all for gathering so quickly,” Admiral McGrath said, looking out at the tired faces of the Explorer’s command staff. They’d been rousted from bed and ordered to assemble in the observation lounge.
“I’ll make this as quick as possible. Last night around 0200, in a drunken stupor, Admiral McCoy and Commander Conway took off in McCoy’s shuttlecraft.”
“Where’d they go?” Baxter asked, leaning forward on the conference table tiredly.
McGrath pressed a button next to the conference room’s viewscreen and stood aside. “This is a tape from the Smithsonian Gallery of Alien Artifacts. You’re looking at a display from the Bajoran Orb exibit, which is on loan to us from Bajor.”
The senior staff watched as two figures materialized in front of one of the orbs and staggered over to it.
One of the figures was recognizable as Commander Conway, the other as McCoy.
The two figures yanked the orb out of its casing and drunkenly fought over who would carry it, yanking it back and forth.
Finally they seemed to come to some kind of agreement, and McCoy cuddled the orb close to him. Conway then tapped his comm badged and the two disappeared again.
“They stole one of the Bajoran orbs?” Peterman asked.
“Not just any Bajoran orb. The Orb of Time,” McGrath replied.
“Oh, boy,” Richards said worriedly.
McGrath pressed another button. “This is footage from a Starfleet interceptor ship.”
“Shuttlecraft Oppenhiemer. Please come about and cut your engines. You have stolen Bajoran property and it must be returned,” a voice, presumably the pilot of the interceptor, said.
“BRAAPP…Never, you fascist scum! We will not give up!” Conway’s angry voice replied.
The shuttlecraft turned and bucked dizzily on the screen, probably because its pilot was piss drunk.
“Awfully sorry about this son, we’ll, uh, get this back to you soon. We’re just, um, borrowing it!” McCoy’s voice said.
Suddenly, with a flash of bright light, the shuttlecraft was gone.
McGrath turned off the viewer. “Evidently they kidnapped your Lt. Commander Larkin and took her back through time.”
“What a mess,” Baxter said. “How come McCoy always seems to get involved in these things? Hasn’t this happened before?”
“With McCoy in particular, two times. He has a thick file at the Bureau of Temporal Control,” McGrath replied. “Then again, you guys are building up a nice little file as well.”
“Don’t remind me,” Baxter sighed.
“Well, it’s about to get thicker,” McGrath said, pressing his hands down onto the conference table. “I want you, Dr. Browning, and Lt. Tilleran to go and retrieve the Admiral before he does anything to jeapardize this time stream.”
“And how, pray tell, do you expect us to do that?” Baxter asked.
“Lieutenant Tilleran?” McGrath asked, turning to the Betazoid.
Tilleran pulled out a padd and handed it to Baxter. “I’ve studied the area where the shuttlecraft disappeared. The orb has left a trail, a temporal thread that leads to wherever they’ve gone.”
“Like a trail of breadcrumbs,” Browning said.
“Exactly,” McGrath replied. “Lt. Tilleran believes that a runabout can be altered to follow that trail through time.”
“I’d be interested in seeing that research,” Richards said, taking Tilleran’s padd from Baxter.
“You’ll do more than see the research, Commander. We need that runabout in forty-five minutes. Tilleran says the trail will be too faint to pick up in another hour,” McGrath ordered.
“I don’t guess I get any say in this…” Baxter said, as Richards and Tilleran left to begin work on the runabout.
“Nope,” McGrath said. “You and the Doctor better get ready to leave.”
Commander Conway stumbled into a darkened room after McCoy, lugging Larkin with one arm and holding a flashlight with his free hand. “Where the hell are we, Admiral?”
“Sigma Draconis Six,” McCoy said, looking up at a screen and studying the readouts.
Conway let Larkin down with a sigh and looked around. “Doesn’t sound familiar.”
“No reason it should. It’s just another one of many planets the old Enterprise had dealings with.”
“Oh,” Conway said. “Why are we here then?”
“We’re here to take Spock’s brain,” McCoy explained.
“Okay,” said Conway. “Why?”
McCoy walked over and put on a huge helmet, one that reminded Conway of a hairdryer from a beauty parlor.
“So we can put it in Larkin,” McCoy explained. Suddenly his eyes rolled up into his head. “Tell me how to install the brain into Larkin, teacher.”
“Huh?” Conway asked, scratching his head as McCoy extracted Spock’s brain from a glass jar and pulled the top of Larkin’s head off.
“Be quiet, I need to concentrate,” McCoy said, ripping out Larkin’s positronic brain and shoving Spock’s brain into the empty space.
Conway picked up Larkin’s brain and studied it. “Boy, Richards will be ticked.”
“Give me that,” McCoy said, swiping the positronic brain and hooking it up where Spock’s brain had been hooked up.
The Admiral then went to work attaching Spock’s brain to Larkin’s body.
Suddenly the computer screen at the front of the room came to life. A warped-looking, squarish version of Larkin’s face appeared on the screen. “Pardon me, Admiral, but what have you done?”
“You’re running a planet now, Larkin. Have fun,” McCoy said as he worked.
“Oh,” Larkin said, considering this new turn of events. “May I ask why?”
“Because I said so.”
“Hmm. This is quite interesting. It shall be an excellent exercize in humanoid interaction. I can control many facets of planetary operations from here. I might even be able to–”
“Delete audio,” Conway said, stumbling over to McCoy.
The Admiral slapped Larkin’s skull-cap back on and screwed it back tightly. “There we go. Thanks for shutting her off, Conway.”
“Don’t mention it,” Conway replied. Boy, he sure did feel funny. It was as if none of this worried him at all. It was just good, clean fun.
“Doctor McCoy,” Larkin’s body said, looking up. “I seem to be in a different body. What has happened?”
“We’re rescuing you, Spock!” McCoy said with a laugh.
“How long was I in there?” Spock asked. “You appear extremely old.”
“Don’t worry about that, Spock, we’re taking you back to the ship now. We gave you an android’s body because we…um…hee hee…lost the other one.”
“How unfortunate,” Spock said, studying his body carefully, noting the two breasts that protruded from his uniform. “Could you at least have constructed a male body for me?”
“Fraid not,” McCoy said, stabbing Spock in the armpit and deactivating him.
Lt. Tilleran looked up from her panel and studied the sensor readouts as the runabout Algonquin held position outside the Sigma Draconis system. “Instruments report we’ve traveled back to the year 2268, Captain.”
“Any idea why?”
“Referencing planetary locale now, and cross-referencing with the logs of the original Enterprise.”
Baxter drummed his fingers nervously on the panel as he waited for Tilleran’s report.
“In 2268, the Enterprise encountered a race of hostile females in the Sigma Draconis system. They stole the Chief Science Officer’s brain and used it to run their computer system.”
“That’s pretty darned stupid,” Baxter said, rubbing his chin.
“Evidently, Captain Kirk led an away team to recapture the brain and have it put back into Spock’s head.”
“Good for them. Why would McCoy come here?”
“Presumably to take Spock’s brain, sir. That’s my guess, anyway,” Tilleran said.
“Keep us out of the Enterprise’s sensor range and take us to the place where Spock’s brain is being held.”
Baxter looked out the front window as Tilleran brought the runabout around.
“Well, what do you think?” Dr. Browning asked from behind Baxter.
Tilleran and Baxter turned to look at Browning, who was decked out in a blue Starfleet officer’s uniform, circa 2268.
Baxter busted out laughing, slapping the panel with glee. “You look like a go-go dancer!”
Tilleran giggled and continued piloting the runabout. “I love the beehive, Doctor.”
“Hardee har har,” Browning said, slumping down in the chair behind Baxter. “These fishnet stockings are riding up something awful, and I feel like I could go hip-wading in these boots.”
“Too bad Chris can’t see you now,” Baxter giggled.
“Keep laughing, it’s your turn to change. I think the computer has some nice bell-bottom pants programmed for you.”
“Sheesh,” Baxter said, climbing out of his chair. “I hate the retro look.”
“Report…Mr. Sulu,” Captain James Kirk said, looking up at the viewscreen as Sulu worked at his panel.
“The shuttlecraft just came into sensor range sir. They were able to transport three people aboard before we could get our shields up.”
“Sound intruder alert, Lieutenant.”
Kirk studied the shuttlecraft with interest. “Could it be… the Sigma Draconans again? Could they be after…yet another crewmember’s brain?”
“Negative, sir,” Sulu replied. “This shuttlecraft’s specs don’t match the Sigma Draconan ship’s. As a matter of fact, it looks more like a Starfleet craft.”
“A Starfleet craft?” Kirk asked.
“Have it brought into our shuttlebay for examination,” Kirk said. “Alert me if you…find anything else.”
With that, Kirk made his way down to his quarters to consider the problem of retrieving Spock’s brain.
“Where are we now?” Conway asked, throwing Spock/Larkin onto the bed and looking around.
“Kirk’s quarters,” McCoy laughed. “You’re about to see the biggest prank in the galaxy!”
“I can hardly wait,” Conway said sarcastically.
McCoy leaned down and hit a button on Kirk’s desk. “McCoy to Kirk.”
“I was talking to one of my staff, and she said she’s dying to meet you. She’ll be waiting for you in your quarters.”
“That’s great news…Bones. Say, are you coming down with something? Your voice…sounds kind of…scratchy.”
“Nothing you need to worry about, Captain!” McCoy said, giggling and closing the channel.
The Admiral quickly made some adjustments to the control systems inside Larkin’s head.
“What are you doing?” Conway asked.
“I’m disabling the android’s limb servos. Spock won’t be able to escape Kirk’s libido now.”
“Admiral, might I say that this is extremely sick,” Conway said as he looked down at the helpless android.
“I know,” McCoy said, dragging Conway into the closet. “Ain’t it great?”
Fully decked out in their twenty-third century wear, Baxter, Browning, and Tilleran materialized in the computer room down on Sigma Draconis Six.
Baxter approached a computer screen and studied the face that looked down on him.
The mouth moved but no words came out.
“Maybe it’s on mute,” Browning offered.
“Resume audio,” Baxter ordered.
“Captain, it is good to see you again. And may I say the new sideburns are quite a fashion statement,” Larkin’s face said from the computer screen.
Baxter looked up at the screen. “Good Lord, Larkin, what have they done to you?”
Tilleran ran her tricorder over the receptacle where Larkin’s brain had been installed. “Someone hooked her into the computer’s CPU. She’s running this whole planet.”
“It is a living.”
“No, it’s not,” Baxter grumbled. “Can you extract Larkin from the computer, Tilleran?”
“I don’t think so,” the Betazoid said, moving her tricorder over to the helmet next to Larkin’s brain. “Hold on. This is interesting.”
“What is it?” Browning asked.
“The Sigma Draconans called it ‘teacher.’ It’s a very powerful computer device that gives tremendous knowledge to the wearer.”
“Can you use this ‘teacher’ to put Larkin back to normal?” Baxter asked.
“Yes, sir,” Tilleran replied. “But first we’ll have to find Larkin’s body.”
“I believe I know where it is,” Larkin said.
Captain Kirk stepped into his cabin and immediately noticed that the lighting was at half its normal strength.
In addition, some soft romantic music was playing in the background.
Kirk made his way to the bed. “I see you made yourself at home, crewman?”
“Captain, it is a relief to see you.”
Kirk leaned down and inspected the officer. “I don’t recognize you. But I like what I see.”
“Captain?” the woman asked. “Captain, what are you doing?”
Kirk ran a hand up and down the woman’s body and winked. “You work in a sickbay, don’t you? I’m just getting ready to… operate.”
“To operate?” the woman asked, confused.
Kirk yanked his shirt off and slid underneath the covers. “Stop being so…coy…crewman. I like my women submissive.”
“Sir, I believe you are mistaken. If you would allow me to explain who I am…”
“Submissive and quiet…” Kirk said, placing a hand over the woman’s mouth.
“Hurry,” Baxter said, leading Browning and Tilleran down one of the Enterprise’s corridors. “We may not have much time.”
“We have more time than we can handle, Andy,” Browning said, quickening her pace.
Baxter was moving so quick he slammed into someone as he rounded a corner.
“Vhat the hell?” the person asked.
“Oh, I’m sorry mister…”
“Chekov,” Baxter said. “I guess I wasn’t looking where I was going.”
“You can say that again,” Chekov grumbled. “Try and be more careful in ze future.”
“Wow, I pictured him a lot taller,” Browning said, as the group continued down the corridor.
“He’s cute in a dorky ‘Monkees’ type of way,” Tilleran said.
“How much farther, Tilleran?” Baxter asked.
Tilleran examined her antique tricorder. “Another forty meters.”
“Can you tell where they’ve taken Larkin’s body?” Browning asked.
Tilleran checked her tricorder. “The floorplan of the Enterprise places Larkin’s body in…oh boy,”
Baxter grabbed the tricorder. “Where is she?” Upon looking at the information, Baxter smacked himself in the head. “Of all places, Kirk’s quarters! Come on, hurry!”
Captain Kirk leaned back and put his hands behind his head. “That was…intense, crewman. It was like…well, I don’t really know what it was like. You just leaned back and…let me do all the work. Quite refreshing.”
The crewman just sat there, frozen, muttering to herself, “Structure, logic, function, control. A structure cannot stand without a foundation. Logic is the foundation of fuction, function is the essence of control. I am in control.”
Just then, the doors to Kirk’s quarters parted and three officers stepped in.
“Oh, my God, we’re too late,” a shorter woman in a blue miniskirt with a beehive hairdo said.
A taller woman in a red miniskirt walked over to the woman Kirk had just slept with and studied her with a tricorder. “The brain has undergone severe neural trauma. I think the nerual synapses are breaking down.”
Suddenly a very old man and a younger man in an unfamiliar Starfleet uniform climbed out of Kirk’s closet.
“You should have seen the look on your face. It was priceless!” the old man cried.
The woman in blue quickly ran and grabbed both of the men from the closet, pressing some kind of hypospray into their necks.
“What’s…the meaning of this?” Kirk asked, leaning up in bed and pulling his shirt on.
The third person, a man with long, triangular sideburns and a gold uniform, approached him. “I’m awfully sorry about this, Captain, but it’s a matter of temporal security.”
Before Kirk could figure out what was going on, the man in yellow reeled back and socked him in the face.
“Was that really necessary?” Dr. Browning asked, looking down at Kirk and studying him with a medical tricorder.
“No, but now I can say I got to deck Captain Kirk!” Baxter said with joy.
“Well, you almost broke his jaw. How are we going to explain this?” Browning asked.
“Um, maybe he got really drunk and fell into a wall,” Baxter offered.
“Captain, we need to get Spock’s brain down to Sigma Draconis Six immediately,” Tilleran said.
“Very well,” Baxter said, putting his hands on his hips and staring down at Kirk. “Drug up the Captain here and leave him on the floor. When they find him they’ll just think he got real drunk. If I’m right, things like this weren’t reported in ship’s official logs or talked about. The time stream should be fine.”
“You hope,” Browning said as she worked on Kirk. “I still say this goes against the Hippocratic Oath.”
“Since when have you cared about the Hippocratic Oath?” Baxter asked.
“Good point,” Browning replied.
“…logic is the foundation of function, function is the essence of control…” Spock muttered as Tilleran worked.
“He’s really messed up, Captain,” Tilleran said, hitting a control on the android’s armpit.
“Well, let’s hope we can fix him. If we can’t, well, then we’ve destroyed one of the greatest minds of the last two centuries.”
Browning pushed Kirk onto the floor, stood, and clapped her hands together. “There, I’m all done.” She looked over to Conway and McCoy and kicked Conway in his side. “Look at all the trouble these two put us through.”
“We’re not out of trouble yet, Doctor,” Baxter said. “I want you and Lt. Tilleran to beam back to the Algonquin and get Larkin’s body back to Sigma Draconis Six. I’m going to have to go get McCoy’s shuttle out of the shuttlebay.”
“What about the drunken duo here?” Browning asked.
“Take them too,” Baxter said. “We’ll meet on Sigma Draconis Six.”
“Good luck, Captain,” Tilleran said. “You’ll need it.”
“Tell me about it,” Baxter sighed, watching as everyone but he and Kirk dematerialized.
“Spock…Spock…did I just…” Kirk mumbled drunkenly from the floor.
Baxter walked over and kicked Kirk in the head. “Go back to sleep, Captain. You’ll have plenty to worry about when you wake up.”
Fifteen minutes later, Ensign Chekov shook Kirk awake.
“Keptin, Keptin, are you okay?”
Kirk shook his head to try and clear the cobwebs from his mind. “Do I look okay, Mister Chekov?”
“You’ve looked vorse.”
“What happened?” Kirk asked, dragging himself up.
“By the looks of it you had von to many, sir,” Chekov said, examining the open bottles on Kirk’s desk.
“But I don’t remember…”
Chekov shrugged. “It happens, sir. Trust me, the Russians inwented alcohol. We know what it does to the human brain.”
“But I was in here…with a woman…and she…she talked like… like Spock!”
Chekov made a disgusted face. “Maybe it is best that you don’t remember anyting, Keptin.”
“Bridge to the Captain,” Sulu’s voice came over the speakers in Kirk’s quarters.
Kirk dragged himself up and pressed the button on his desk. “Kirk here.”
“Sir, someone’s broken into the shuttlebay and stolen the shuttlecraft we brought in. They just disappeared from our sensors and we can’t seem to track them.”
Kirk tried to think straight. The next orders he would give would decide the outcome of this mission. He could either track this mysterious shuttle or take a team down to Sigma Draconis Six to retrieve Spock’s brain.
“I think this is just a clever distraction, Lieutenant. I want you to prepare an away team to go and rescue Spock’s brain.”
“Be very careful with that last connection, Lieutenant, it is the most important,” Larkin said, as she observed Lt. Tilleran’s progress on Spock’s brain.
“I know what I’m doing, Commander,” Tilleran replied, as she balanced the heavy helmet on her head and worked on Spock’s brain.
Dr. Browning stood by and studied the readings from the brain. “You’ve almost got it, Lieutenant. If you want to take a rest and let me wear the helmet…”
“That won’t be necessary, Doctor.”
“Pleeeeeease?” Browning pleaded. “I’ve always wanted to know what a knowledge helmet feels like.”
Tilleran turned to Browning for a moment. “It feels like… knowledge.”
“Oh,” Browning said, looking down at Spock’s brain as it twitched in the vat.
Suddenly Captain Baxter materialized behind Browning and
Tilleran. “Hey guys, how’s it coming?”
“Fine,” Tilleran said. “Now please be quiet.”
“Sure, jeeze,” Baxter said. “You’d think she was wearing an ego helmet instead of a knowledge helmet.”
“I know what you mean,” Browning said. “She’s been like that since she put on the stupid helmet.”
“Silence!” Tilleran said. “I’m almost finished.”
“What did Commander Conway and Admiral McCoy do to my body, if I may ask?” Larkin asked from the computer screen.
Baxter turned back to Larkin’s face and smiled weakly. “Um, nothing you should really worry about.”
“There,” Tilleran said, looking at Spock’s brain with pride. “All better.”
“Good,” Baxter said. “Then yank Larkin’s brain out of the computer and reattach Spock’s.”
“Yes, sir, Captain, sir,” Tilleran said. “I’m the great and all-powerful problem-solver. Just use me whenever you feel like–”
“Work quickly, Tilleran! Kirk will be down here soon!” Baxter growled, prompting Tilleran to return to work.
Several minutes later, Lt. Commander Larkin opened her eyes. “Initiating self-diagnostic. Hmm. That is odd. There is a foreign fluid present in my pelvic unit. I am attempting to analyze it.”
“Save it for later,” Baxter said with disgust. “How are you coming with Spock’s brain, Tilleran?”
“Almost done, sir.”
Dr. Browning studied her tricorder with alarm. “Better hurry, Tilleran. The Enterprise just entered orbit.”
“I’m working as fast as I can!” Tilleran muttered.
“This is extremely unsettling, Captain. I am detecting vibration damage to several of my interlocking…”
“I do not want to hear about it, Commander!” Baxter barked. “It will all be explained later, but suffice it to say your cherry has been popped.”
“Cherry…popped? Cross-referencing now. Oh, dear…”
“Done!” Tilleran said. “Spock’s back where he belongs.”
“Great,” Baxter said. “Clean up this mess and get us the hell out of here!”
Stardate 52310.8. We’ve returned to our current time and I’m pleased to report the time stream is just like we left it. The injury to McCoy’s hip, though aggravated slightly by his escapades, is healing nicely and I’m told that he’ll take a harsh scolding from Starfleet Command for his misdeeds. As for Commander Conway, well, he’ll recieve an…appropriate punishment.
Captain Baxter stepped over the broken pieces of wood and into the front door of the Smithsonian Gallery of Alien Artifacts. Evidently, McCoy’s shuttle had been crashed into it on the night of the robbery.
“Glad you could make it, Captain,” McGrath said dryly as he led Baxter through the museum. “As you can see, your first officer and the Admiral did quite a bit of damage during last night’s raid.”
“What a shame,” Baxter said. “I trust the Commander is taking his punishment like a man?”
“Not at all. He’s the fussiest…”
Baxter put a hand on McGrath ‘s shoulder as they approached the Bajoran exhibit. “I know, believe me, I know.”
Conway grunted as he scraped the fragments of one of the wooden display cases into a dustpan and dumped them into a garbage can.
“How’s the cleanup coming, Commander?” Baxter asked with a smile.
“Lousy,” Conway muttered. “You two do realize that McCoy slipped a damn drug into my drink, don’t you? That’s the only reason why I helped him.”
“He’s quite proficient in chemistry, Commander,” Baxter said. “I’m sure he made you a nice cocktail.”
“I’m not laughing,” Conway said. “Look at this mess.”
“Can’t say I feel sorry for you, Commander. You had it coming.” Baxter said.
“How do you figure?” Conway asked angrily as he tried to glue the door back onto one of the other orbs.
“You tried to out-drink a southern doctor,” Baxter said with a grin.
Conway mumbled something to himself as he worked. Suddenly he looked up. “Maybe I’m mistaken, but don’t they have a Naval tradition that says the Captain is always responsible for his crew’s deeds?”
“That’s a bunch of hogwash. Right, Admiral McGrath? Admiral McGrath ?”
McGrath smiled, shoved a broom into Baxter’s hand, and walked away.
“Hello, Commander Larkin,” Mirk said, as Larkin made her way into the lounge. “Can I get you anything?”
“Negative,” Larkin said. “I am looking for Mr. Richards’s table.”
“Right over there,” Mirk pointed. Larkin discerned a slight change in the Maloxian’s behavior. It was the same slight change she had noticed in just about everyone who had heard about her “experience” aboard the old Enterprise.
“Hey, Kristen,” Lt. Commander Richards said, motioning for her to sit down at the table with he and Browning.
Larkin sat down. “Greetings, Doctor…Commander.”
“What brings you here?” Browning asked, as she chomped on the end of a foot-long hoagie.
“I was considering the events my body experienced on the old Enterprise.”
“Oh,” Richards said, looking at Browning. “Right. The…um …Kirk thing.”
“Yes, sir. I have researched human customs on the matter and come up with some very intruiging results.”
“Do tell,” Browning replied.
“For instance, I am forbidden to ever wear white again.”
Browning laughed so hard she spit out part of her sub.
“That’s ridiculous, Kristen,” Richards said. “It’s just an old superstition.”
“I also researched Captain Kirk. It turns out he was quite active in pursuits of a sexual nature.”
“Is that so?” Browning asked with a grin.
“Indeed, Doctor. From what I gather, an intact sperm sample from Captain Kirk would be quite valuable these days.”
Browning stopped chewing. “Sperm…sample?”
“I have flushed out my pelvic compartment,” Larkin announced, placing a small vial on the table. “And come up with a very special collector’s item.”
Browning looked over at Richards. “Not many girls can…um…say that, Lieutenant. You’re very lucky.”
Richards just put his sandwich down as he stared at the vial. “Check, please!”
Ambassador Spock sighed as he leaned over and activated his terminal. Another urgent message and another interruption. So much for meditating.
Admiral McCoy appeared on the screen, sporting a wide smile.
“Admiral, need I remind you again of the danger of using this secured channel?” Spock asked.
“This won’t take long, Spock. I just wanted to ask you a question. What does Captain Kirk look like naked?”
“Naked? I have not–”
“Think hard, Spock.”
“I do not understand what this…” Suddenly it hit Spock. “No, this is not logical. Admiral…how? Why?”
McCoy just laughed out loud. “Spock, that expression on your face was worth it all. Now I’ve got your katra tied in a knot!”
“This is quite disconcerting,” Spock said to himself, rubbing his temples.
“I know it is. Live long and prosper my boy!”
Spock leaned back onto his bed and tried to return to his meditation, but he could not. McCoy had left him with a very disturbing memory. It appeared that he and Kirk had been–and always would be–more than friends.
H A P P Y 3 1 S T
B I R T H D A Y, S T A R T R E K!
From the STAR TRAKS crew.
While vacationing at a planetary resort, Captain Baxter mistakenly heckles a Klingon comedian. Will he, Peterman, Browning, and Richards escape alive? And will Ensign Ford really get drafted into a cult? And will Commander Conley find a solution to his incontinence? Anwers to these questions and more on the next Star Traks: The Vexed Generation!