Star Traks: The Vexed Generation was created by Anthony Butler. It's based on Alan Decker's Star Traks, which in turn is based on Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry. Paramount and Viacom, their dark masters, own everything. And they're trying to destroy us right now, I just know it! Copyright 1999. All rights, such as they are, are reserved. 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: Alan Decker
Copyright: 1999

“Captain’s Log. Stardate 53582.7. Now that our happy counterparts have once again returned to their own damn universe, things are returning to normal on the Explorer. However, due to the recent bad press we’ve gotten thanks to the alternate Explorer going around blasting people to bits, Starfleet has decided that we’d better keep a low profile for a little while. So, lucky us, we’ve been sent out on mapping duty. Our favorite. Even worse, the Ginantonica sector we’ve been assigned to is just rife with spatial anomalies, distortions, and other galactic errors. Needless to say, the folks in stellar cartography and astrophysics are almost orgasmic with excitement.”

Captain Andy Baxter stifled a yawn as he walked into his quarters. His bridge shifts were boring enough on this type of duty, but the incessant briefings from the science departments he had to sit through in the evenings were really starting to suck the life right out of him. Conway’s personnel reports be damned, as first officer he should have to sit through that crap. Or maybe Larkin, but Richards was still deep in his father/daughter bonding phase. The engineer obviously felt a need to get to know his daughter a bit better since he almost lost her to a temporal-shifting ice planetoid a few weeks earlier. But, all this meant that the only person left to sit through the science meetings was Baxter. He hadn’t spent a relaxing evening at home with his wife in over a week.

Entering his quarters, Baxter was immediately hit with the smell of sizzling steak, delicately marinated in thick teriyaki sauce. He traced the smell to its source: the bedroom. There, his wife, Counselor Kelly Peterman, was standing behind a small grill unit wearing a chef’s hat, apron, and nothing else. The room was lit by candlelight, and a small table had been set up near the bed complete with fine china, crystal glasses, and a chilled bottle of champagne.

“Hi, honeybuns,” Peterman said seductively as she held up one of the succulent steaks with a grilling fork. “Hungry?” She put the steak down, sauntered over to Baxter, and wrapped her arms around him. “Or would you prefer an appetizer?”

“Wow. Kelly, this is…” Baxter really didn’t know what to say. Peterman never cooked. Hell, no one really ever cooked. “What’s all this for?”

“You. What else?”

“I didn’t forget an anniversary, did I?” Baxter asked.

“No. We just haven’t been alone much since this mission started. I thought we needed a little refresher.” She kissed her husband deeply.

“Forrester to Baxter,” the comm system barked. Always the worst timing, Baxter thought.

“Baxter here,” he said, pulling away from Peterman.

“You’re late, Captain,” the testy voice of Lieutenant Commander Clarice Forrester said.

“I’m on my way,” Baxter snapped irritated. “Some of us have a life! Baxter out.”

Peterman’s face darkened. “Andy…”

“I’m sorry, hon. I’ve got to go to these damn things. I’m the captain.”

“Exactly. Change them.”

“I can’t just go doing that,” Baxter said. Peterman stomped back over to the grill. “But I wanted to swing by home and see you.”

“Go to your meeting, Andy,” Peterman said without looking at him. She picked the steak up off the grill again. “Charlie!” Her golden retriever bounded into the room at the sound of his name. “Here you go, my big pile of puppy-love,” she cooed, putting the steak on a plate and serving it to the dog. Charlie dug in ravenously. “That’s my fluffer-nutter. Let me get you a dish of champagne.” Ignoring Baxter, Peterman brushed past him to the table and grabbed the champagne.

“I love you,” Baxter said sheepishly.

“Whatever,” Peterman replied. Baxter took one last longing glance at Peterman, then left.

“This had better be pretty f***ing spectacular!” Baxter groused as he stormed into the stellar cartography lab.

“Sir! Such language,” Lieutenant Commander Forrester gasped. The other three members of her staff present just gaped at Baxter.

“Yeah yeah. Let’s just get to this, shall we?”

Baxter took a seat as Forrester started in with her multimedia presentation on the quasar they’d found. Some days it sucked to be the captain.

Commander David Conway put his feet up on the ottoman he’d ordered brought to the bridge and leaned back in the command chair to enjoy his pre-dinner cup of coffee. The viewscreen showed nothing but the endless void of space stretching out before him. A lot of officers went a bit stir crazy on these missions. Conway, however, never had that problem. A mapping mission was exactly what he needed to wind down after dealing with rampaging penguins, pestering matchmakers, and vomit-inducing happys. Conway set down his coffee and picked up his new Tom Clancy novel. Having finally waded his way through the 5,000+ pages of “Russia Still Bothers Me,” it was time to move on to Clancy’s three part, 32,000 page epic masterpiece, “And I Never Trusted Those Norwegians Either!”

“Would you like me to rub your feet as well?” Lieutenant J’hana, the Explorer’s security chief, asked sarcastically from the tactical console.

“You’ve just got to know how to relax,” Conway said. “These are the missions to savor.”

Suddenly, the science console went nuts, beeping and blipping and pinging and beeping and….

“SHUT THAT THING UP!” Conway bellowed as Lieutenant Tilleran frantically checked her console. Then, just as quickly as it began, the beeping stopped.

“What the hell happened?” Conway asked.

“I’m not sure,” Tilleran said. “Everything’s clear now.”

“Typical. Conway to Richards.”

“Richards here,” the chief engineer replied.

“Could you come up here and check the sensors?”

“What’s wrong with them?”

“That’s your job, buddy. Bridge out.”

“Should I go check on that?” Lieutenant Kamtezen asked as Richards pulled together his engineering kit. “You are supposed to be meeting Larkin soon, correct?

“Yeah, but I’ve got it,” Richards said to the orange-scaled Bewhal engineering officer. “You just keep an eye on things down here. Besides, Conway gets fussy if he doesn’t think he’s getting the best possible service.”

“I will monitor the situation from here then.”

“Great. And send Burke and Lasser to check on the forward sensor arrays.”

“Aye, sir.”

How long will these people keep talking, Baxter wondered, growing more and more impatient. He felt trapped, like some kind of caged beast as the stellar cartography people went on and on and on about this damn quasar. It’s a freakin’ quasar! They’re all over the place! Get over it! It was like the walls were closing in. He wanted to run. He wanted to scream. But he couldn’t. Forget a cave-in or being buried alive or any of that crap. This was the worst form of claustrophobia he could imagine.

“Have you found anything?” Tilleran asked as Richards worked inside her bridge science console.

“Everything looks okay to me so far,” Richards replied. “What kind of readings did you get during the incident?”

“Nothing definitive,” Tilleran said. “It was a jumble of different energies. The computer didn’t recognize anything familiar about it.” Just then, the turbolift doors opened and Lieutenant Commander Kristen Larkin stepped out onto the bridge. She spotted Richards’s legs sticking out of the science console and moved over to speak to him.

“Are we no longer having dinner?” Larkin asked.

“Kristen. Hi,” Richards said. “Sorry. Emergency bridge call.”

“I see. May I be of assistance?”

“You’re welcomed to try,” Richards replied. “The sensors went nuts a while ago. I’m trying to find the cause.”

“Define ‘nuts.’”

“Hey! Could you guys keep it down?” Conway shouted. “There are people trying to read up here!”

“Do you want this fixed or not?” Richards snapped.

“Fixed. Just be quiet about it.” Conway said. He took a long sip of his coffee. As the warm liquid mingled with his taste buds, Conway immediately knew something was wrong. He stared at the mug intently. “Did anyone mess with this?”

“The coffee?” J’hana asked.

“Damn right, the coffee!” Conway said.

“That mug has not left your side,” J’hana said.

“You’re sure?”


Conway took another, more tentative sip. Still wrong. He stormed over to the bridge replicator.

“Coffee. Extra black.” The computer hummed obediently and produced the beverage. Conway smelled the aroma of his freshly- brewed best friend and took a drink…which he immediately spat out.

“Bah!” he shouted, smashing the mug to the floor. “Fix the damn replicators too when you’re done there,” Conway ordered as he charged towards the turbolift. “I’ll be back. Larkin, you have the conn.”

“But I am not on duty,” Larkin said.

“Too bad,” Conway said just before the turbolift doors closed, shutting him off from the bridge.

Lieutenant Kamtezen’s eyes darted around engineering. He could feel the glares of the other engineering officers boring down on him, oppressing him. They knew. They had to know. He shouldn’t be an engineer. He shouldn’t even be in Starfleet. How soon until they dragged him back to Bewhal kicking and screaming? He didn’t want to go. He would not go. Damn it, HE WOULD NOT GO!

Baxter’s mind had gone into autopilot. Sure his eyes were opened, and he looked interested, but, in reality, his brain was replaying the ending of the 1996 Super Bowl. Those Dallas Cowboys sure knew how to play some football.

He was pulled out of his trance by some movement he detected out of the corner of his eye. One of the stellar cartographers kept whipping his head around to see what was behind his chair.

“You okay?” Baxter asked.

“I feel a bug. Do you see a bug? I can’t see the bug, but I know he’s there.”

“There are no bugs on the Explorer,” Baxter said, almost insulted that anyone would imply that his ship had pests on board…well, other than the obvious members of the crew.

“Can I get back to my lecture?” Forrester asked. “I’m starting to think you guys don’t love me.”

Deciding against making the obvious snide remark, Baxter returned his attention to the Super Bowl.

Conway had checked eight replicators so far, but not one of them was working right. Leaving a trail of shattered coffee mugs in his wake, Conway returned to his quarters. Forget the stupid replicators, he’d get some fresh java from his private stash.

“Did he seem a bit strange to you?” Richards asked Tilleran.

“Conway? No more so than usual.”

“I believe he was a bit more violent than usual. Perhaps he’s changing for the better,” J’hana remarked.

“Only you would think so,” Tilleran said.

“That is solely because I am the superior warrior on this vessel. No one on the Explorer can defeat me in unarmed single combat.”

“I believe that statement may be in error,” Larkin replied. “My android skills would give me a clear advantage.”

“Speed and strength are no match for a trained Andorian,” J’hana said.

“I also have been programmed with the knowledge of over 30 fighting styles from around the galaxy.”

“No offense, J’hana,” Richards said, “but I think she’d kick your ass.”

“That remains to be seen,” J’hana said. And it would be seen very soon, she thought to herself. No one was better than her. Especially not some android. Certainly not an android. But the android was a threat. If she wasn’t prepared, Larkin could get lucky. That must not happen. She was the warrior of the Explorer! The android had to go!

Someone had switched his stash. That was the only explanation.

Conway paced his quarters like a tiger. Who was behind this? Who would have the audacity and the stupidity to mess with his coffee?

It had to be Peterman. She always wanted Conway off the stuff. She hated him from the beginning. Mind bending bitch. She’d be taken care of later. Right now, he needed coffee. Good coffee. Real coffee.

After stopping by the armory for a couple of phaser rifles and side arms to use as insurance, Conway headed off to Mirk’s in search of the perfect steaming mug of premium blend Columbian roast.

Now they were whispering among themselves! Kamtezen huddled down lower in Richards’s office looking out on engineering.

They were going to take him home. They were going to turn the ship around any second now and take him home.

What was that?

What someone calling the bridge?

No no no no no.

This couldn’t be happening. He’d worked too hard. Too long. They’d never be able to take him back.

He raced over to Richards’s master engineering console and started to work. They weren’t going ANYWHERE!

“…and that about sums up Quasar 567-B,” Forrester said finally as the stellar cartography staff broke out into applause. “I apologize for the brevity of my report, but we just got a lot of this data.”

“Brevity,” Baxter mumbled in astonishment. It’d been almost two hours.

“Where is that damn bug?” the officer next to Baxter screamed.

“We should power everything down now,” one of the other officers said. “We’re using to much energy. We could run out. I’d hate to run out. Running out would be awful. What would we do? Oh God. We’d die out here. DIE!!!”

“I don’t wanna die!” a third officer shouted. All three of them went running from the room, leaving just Baxter and Forrester.

“Fun bunch,” Baxter said.

“But they love me,” Forrester said, turning a way-too-intense gaze on Baxter. “Do you love me? I need you to love me.”

Baxter slowly got out of his chair and backed towards the door as Forrester advanced on him.

“What do you mean, love you?” Baxter said nervously.

“Love me!”

“Oh boy.”

Conway swaggered into Mirk’s with a phaser rifle slung over each shoulder, one strapped to his back, and four hand phasers nestled snugly in the waste-band of his pants.

After quickly surveying the 20 or so crewmen enjoying a meal or a drink at Mirk’s this time of night, Conway sat down at the bar.

“Going hunting on the holodeck?” Mirk asked, nervously eying the arsenal Conway was carrying.

“Something like that,” Conway replied with a smile that made Mirk want to run somewhere and hide. “Now, get me some coffee.”

“I thought you were boycotting me because of that incident with the chili.” “Forget about the boycott! I. Want. Coffee.”

“Yes, sir,” Mirk said, rushing away quickly and pouring a mug out of the pot of super-premium-double-caffeinated blend he kept specifically for Conway. He tried not to think about the instruments of death Conway was carrying. One false move, one spilled drop, and Conway could kill him. Any of these people could kill him if he messed up their orders. What was he doing in this room? In this business? He never wanted this life. It was far too dangerous.

“You okay?” Amara, his Bajoran waitress and current girlfriend asked, concerned.

“F-f-f-f-f-fine,” Mirk stammered. Steadying himself as much as possible, Mirk carried the mug over to Conway. “Enjoy, sir,” Mirk said quickly, then scampered away.

Conway deeply inhaled the heavenly aroma wafting up from his mug of coffee. Mirk knew what coffee really was. That boy would never lead Conway astray.

Conway took a deep drink, his eyes darkening as the liquid raced down his throat.

“THIS IS DECAF!!!!” Conway bellowed, going for his weapons.

Alarms started going off all over engineering.

“That’s right,” Kamtezen muttered as the engineering staff stopped watching him through Richards’s office window and raced off to deal with the emergency.

“Primary plasma sequencer overloading!”

“Injectors are jammed!”

“The system’s offline!”

Damn right it was offline, Kamtezen thought. He opened the small drawer in Richards’s desk where he kept the emergency sidearms. No way was this ship taking him home.

Rushing out of the office with a battle cry, Kamtezen opened fire on the plasma conduits leading away from the warp core, then, satisfied that they’d been decimated, he turned his attention on the rest of engineering.

The lights on the bridge suddenly dimmed and warning beacons started flashing everywhere.

“What the hell?” Richards demanded, running over to the engineering console. “We’re adrift!”

“What happened?” Larkin asked, turning her attention to Richards. Lieutenant Ford frantically tried to get some response out of the helm console as Tilleran and the operations officer on duty attempted to get some kind of explanation as to what had just happened to the Explorer.

“This is my chance,” J’hana thought to herself. The android was occupied, completely unaware that an attack was imminent. This was the only way. J’hana had to be the warrior. No android could challenge that. No android WOULD challenge that.

Hurdling over her station with the grace of gazelle, J’hana leapt down into the command area and wrapped her arms around Larkin’s neck.

“You are mine!” the Andorian screamed as she wrenched Larkin’s head off. If Larkin could have registered surprise, she definitely would have done so then.

Holding Larkin’s detached head by the hair, J’hana let out another barbaric cry and thrust her hand up Larkin’s open neck into her cranial cavity.

“J’hana, stop!” Richards cried helplessly. J’hana laughed and ripped Larkin’s positronic brain right out through the neck. Then, tossing the brain aside, reached into Larkin’s torso and tore out a large handful of cable, circuitry, servos, and other android innards.

“Where is your android champion now?” J’hana cried victoriously as she lofted Larkin’s lifeless head into the air. “No one can defeat me!”

“Dammit, J’hana! I just fixed her!” Richards shouted angrily.

“Do wish to fight me as well, human?” J’hana said, crouching into a low fighting stance.

Ford looked the Andorian up and down approvingly. “You’re really hot when you’re…” Before he could get out “angry,” Ford was slammed into unconsciousness by J’hana’s foot.

“Calm down,” Tilleran said, trying to sound soothing. “Everything’s okay. Everything’s just fine. We’re all…” Suddenly, the Betazoid’s eyes widened in fear.

“You can read my mind!” she shouted.

“What?” Richards said.

“You can, too,” Tilleran said, near panic. She grabbed the sides of her head. “Stop reading me!”


“AUUUGGHHHHH!!!” Tilleran ran off the bridge screaming into the captain’s ready room. A second later, the remaining bridge crew heard the crackle of a force field springing to life. Seconds after that, several bridge consoles popped and exploded with sparks.

“So the ship itself wishes to challenge me!” J’hana shouted.

“Tilleran’s force field is draining too much power,” Richards reported from one of the few functional consoles.

“Then fix it. You are the engineer,” J’hana said.

“Fix it?” I can’t fix this, Richards thought. This is just too much. I’m alone. I need my team. I need help. I don’t even know where to begin. The isolinear relays…no. I don’t know. I don’t know.

“I DON’T KNOW!!!” Richards shouted.

“Can we talk about this?” Baxter asked as he moved out into the corridor, away from Lt. Commander Forrester.

“What’s to talk about?” Forrester asked. “You have to love me!” And he did have to love her. She couldn’t live without love. Did he love her? Oh, he just HAD to. No one else did. The others all hated her. She needed love! The captain’s love!

Baxter retreated towards a turbolift, closely followed by Forrester. On the way, he passed two crewmen walking down the corridor, one a ways behind the other. The one in the lead finally stopped and turned on the person behind him.

“I know you’re following me! Stop it!”

“You’re trying to keep me away from what’s mine. Get out of my way!”

“Stop following me!”

This congenial discussion quickly degraded into a brawl.

“They don’t love me like you do,” Forrester said.

“I guess not,” Baxter replied, ducking into the turbolift. The doors closed, blessedly cutting him off from Forrester. It was about that time his ears finally detected the unusual silence. He wasn’t hearing the engines. “Baxter to engineering.”

“You’ll never take me alive!” an insane voice shouted over the comm system.

“Baxter to security.” No response.

“Baxter to bridge.”

“Are you threatening me?” J’hana’s voice demanded.

“Is everything okay up there?”

“I am invincible!”

“Uh huh. Can I speak to Commander Conway please?”

“The weakling is not here. I could beat him to a bloody pulp with one finger. I could. Really. No doubt.”

“Right. Baxter to sickbay.”

“I’m not coming out!” Dr. Janice Browning’s voice screamed.

“Okay.” Baxter tried a few more departments, and, after his brief survey, concluded that the whole ship had gone completely off the deep end. What the hell was going on? And was Peterman okay? Baxter ordered the turbolift to ascend to the officer’s quarters deck. He then raced out of the turbolift almost right into the waiting arms of Forrester.

“You’re slow,” she said, making an another attempt to grab Baxter as he dove to the carpet and rolled away from her.

“Lift traffic,” he said quickly, jumping to his feet and running towards his quarters.

“Love me! Love me! Say that you love me!” Forrester wailed, racing close behind him.

Baxter finally made it to his door, but found it locked. He pounded on the door chime.

“Kelly! Let me in! Now!”

Forrester was almost on top of him. He backed up against the door as flat as he could just as Forrester leapt at him, devouring his mouth in a wet sloppy kiss.

And suddenly, Baxter heard a whoosh and felt the doors behind him open. Still liplocked, he and Forrester fell back into Baxter’s quarters. Gazing up, he saw Peterman standing over them dressed in some sort of black leather military fatigues looking like a special forces officer from hell. The cigar smoldering between her lips and the phaser rifle she cradled didn’t do anything to make her appear any less threatening.

“I knew it!” Peterman shouted.

Baxter forced Forrester off of him and smiled a weak, frightened smile. “Hi, honey. It’s not what you think. She attacked me.”

“He loves me!” Forrester exclaimed brightly.

“Love this, bitch,” Peterman fired the rifle. Set on heavy stun, the force of it was enough to send Forrester flying back out into the corridor, where she slammed into the opposite wall and slumped down in a heap.

The room doors closed softly.

“Activate Program Peterman Alpha.”

“Captain declared unfit for duty,” the computer said flatly. “Command code authorization has been rescinded.”

“Computer, seal the doors to these quarters. Authorization Peterman delta delta lambda.”

“Doors sealed.”

Baxter looked at the doors, then at the rifle in his wife’s hands. So much for any chance of a romantic evening.

Amara watched in dismay as Mirk let out the highest pitched scream she’d ever heard and dove under the bar as Conway started blasting.

“Come on out, boy!” Conway said. “You know not to mess with my caffeine!”

Everything that could possibly explode behind the bar did as Conway let loose another barrage of phaser fire.

“Stop that right now!” Amara ordered, storming over from the table she was waiting on. Conway gave her a quick glance, blasted her, then returned his attention to Mirk.

“I just shot your girlfriend, little baby. You’re next!”

“Don’t hurt me,” Mirk whimpered. What could he do against a force like Conway? He was best off just cowering where he was. “I’ll get you caffeine.”

Conway just laughed.

Peterman hauled Baxter to his feet and pushed him roughly towards the couch.

“So it was her, was it?” she seethed. Peterman leveled the phaser rifle at Baxter’s crotch. “I sure hope she was worth it!”

“Kelly, honey. Nothing happened. She just attacked me in the hallway. I’m telling you, there’s something strange happening on board.”

“Oh, so suddenly women are throwing themselves at you right and left? Is that it, Andy?”

“No. Just her.”

“Uh huh. That’s really why you’ve been spending all of those nights in stellar cartography.” Peterman jabbed Baxter’s testicles with the rifle a bit too roughly. “Say goodbye, boys.”

Baxter’s eyes darted around the room fearfully as he looked for an avenue of escape. In a corner, Charlie was staring at his tail. Every once in a while, it’d move, and he would try and run away from it, yelping all the while. Meantime, Fritz the kitten was frozen on the sofa, his fur permanently raised in the air as he hissed

at everything he could see.

“Look at our pets,” Baxter said, pointing.

“My pets!” Peterman corrected.

“Fine. Look at your pets. Something’s wrong!”

“They know their daddy’s been very, very bad. He needs to learn that it’s not okay to cheat on mommy.”

“I didn’t cheat on you.”

“Then why were you kissing Commander Forrester?”

“She kissed me,” Baxter protested. “That’s completely different! Kelly, please listen to me. I love you. I would never…”

Peterman pointed her rifle at the ceiling and fired, shutting Baxter up quite effectively.

“I DON’T BELIEVE YOU!” she screamed. “You never wanted me. Nobody wants me. You’ve been cheating on me from day one, haven’t you? HAVEN’T YOU!?!” She slammed the rifle into Baxter’s crotch again.

“No,” he squeaked weakly.

Richards sat on the floor of the bridge cradling the stiff torso of his beloved creation in one arm as he petted Larkin’s detached head with the other.

“Oh, my baby, my baby, my baby,” he wailed softly as he rocked back and forth. “I’m so sorry. I wish I could fix you.”

“Then quit whining and do it,” J’hana snapped, pacing the bridge like a caged animal. She wanted to leave, but she just knew an ambush was waiting for her. They all wanted to try to defeat her in combat. That was fine, but she would fight them on her terms. Let them come to the bridge. She’d be ready.

“I can’t,” Richards cried, tears streaming down his face. “I can’t fix anything. Larkin, my relationship with Janice, the ship, anything. I’m so worthless.”

“Wanna fight?”

Conway stalked around Mirk’s with an insane glint in his eye. Most of the patrons were being quiet, some mumbling to themselves about not wanting to die. Others huddled in corners begging for Conway not to let “It” get them. He’d been forced to shoot a few of the more rambunctious ones. Finally, though, he’d achieved order. Now, he just needed some damn coffee.

“Come on out, barkeep, or I’m moving my phaser settings up a tad. You don’t want to have lives on your conscience, do ya?”

Mirk was absolutely shaking with fear at Conway’s words. He wanted to save the people out there, but he was too petrified to move.

“You hear me? I WANT COFFEE!”

“All right,” Mirk cried. “I’ll make a new pot. Extra caffeine. Just put the guns down.”

“I’ll lower them. How’s that?” Conway replied.

“Okay,” Mirk said, poking his head tentatively above the bar. He could see Amara laying unconscious by a table. Conway was standing across the room. He smiled that evil, disconcerting smile at Mirk again.

“Now how about that coffee, son?” Conway said.

“C-c-c-c-c-coming right up, sir,” Mirk replied, racing to the coffee grinder. He quickly dumped in some beans and turned the machine on.

“Ah, that’s what I like to smell,” Conway said, as the smell of coffee grounds filled the lounge. “Heaven in a bean.”

“Personal log. Supplemental. Kelly has cut me off from every ship system except this one. I can’t leave. I can’t call for help. I can’t do anything. I’m just glad she let me go to the bathroom. Of course, if she discovers me recording this message, I may lose that privilege as well.

What is going on? This is not the woman I married. Hell, no one on this ship is acting right. I just don’t understand. I’ve spent the last hour trying to explain to Kelly that I’ve been faithful. In return, she’s forced me into a French maid’s uniform and made me fix her dinner and rub her back and bathe Charlie and a hundred other demeaning chores. She says she needs proof that I love her. What more can she ask? Uh oh. Better go. I think she’s coming.”

“Personal log. Continue supplemental. I have no idea how much time has passed. No one’s come looking for me, and, from what I can see out the window and hear, the engines still aren’t running. I can only assume that we aren’t under attack. There are usually a lot more explosions and screaming then. So what’s happening? Okay. Think Andy. That man in the meeting kept looking for bugs. Forrester wanted love. And Kelly is absolutely paranoid that I’ve been cheating on her. It’s funny, she’s paranoid about the one thing that would never happen. I love her more than anything, and I’d rather die than hurt her. Of course, this French maid outfit thing is really tempting me. I have got the wedgie from Hell! If she calls me Fifi one more time…”

“Several hours later, and she’s still psycho! She tied me to the bed to make sure I didn’t run off to any of my ‘hussies.’ Normally, being tied up by her would be fun. This paranoia thing has pushed her too far. Paranoid! That’s what they all are…at least the ones I’ve talked to. But how? And why am I not affected? And, most importantly, how can I save my ship? I’ve got to get out of here.”

Baxter closed his log and looked around the bathroom for any sign of a way out. His mind struggled to recall the blueprints for this section of the ship. No luck. And there weren’t any handy explosives laying around either. But maybe…

Baxter slipped out into the bedroom. Peterman was laying in bed half-asleep, but still eyeing him suspiciously.

“Ready to come back to bed?” she asked.

“Almost. I just wanted some warm milk,” Baxter said, walking over to the replicator. “Helps me sleep.” He punched in Charlie Treat #23, the one that always made the dog go absolutely bonkers, then ordered his milk. “I’ll be right back, darling.”

He re-entered the bathroom followed seconds later by Charlie. As Baxter had hoped, the smell was enough to bring the canine running. Baxter dissolved the treat in the warm milk and poured it all over the deck.

“Go get it, boy,” Baxter whispered. Charlie began attacking the floor with a vengeance, trying to get his paws around the non- existent treat.

Baxter exited the bathroom and crawled back into bed beside Peterman.

“Computer, play Baxter Love Mix #4,” Baxter said.

“What are you doing?” Peterman asked as she reattached Baxter to the bed.

“Just something soft and romantic to sleep to,” Baxter said, kissing Peterman softly. She slapped him.

“You haven’t earned that yet, bastard.” She rolled away from him, taking most of the covers with her. As the soothing sounds of Isaac Hayes filled the room, Baxter hoped that Charlie wouldn’t suddenly pick tonight to stop destroying everything someone put in front of him.

It was absolutely clear now that the entire ship had it in for him. Conway tossed the mug of crap at a cringing Mirk.

“DECAF!!!” Conway bellowed. And that sniveling little Maloxian was the mastermind behind this plot. Sure, he looked all sweet and nice, but he was out to take over the galaxy. First, he’d try to drive Conway insane by denying him decaf. Who knew what evil would come next? This had to be stopped right here.

“I-I-I-I’m out of blends,” Mirk whimpered. “You’ve been through all two hundred and three of them.”

“And you’ve sabotaged them all,” Conway said, aiming both rifles squarely at the bartender. “I’ll give you one chance to stop this insanity and give me back real coffee. Otherwise, YOU’RE CHARCOAL!!!”

“B-b-b-b-but I don’t have any!” Mirk wailed.

“Then you came a long way from the Delta Quadrant for nothing.”

Conway’s fingers idly increased the power settings on the phaser rifles to somewhere around incinerate then moved back to the triggers.

Baxter was awakened by the sensation of drowning. Water was everywhere, and he just couldn’t get a breath due to the huge weight on his chest. Opening his eyes, he saw only a moist, blurry black object. This quickly resolved itself into Charlie’s nose. Charlie’s tongue slapped against Baxter’s cheek and worked its way up his skull.

“Did you do good, pup?” Baxter asked softly. Charlie just kept licking him, his eyes shining.

“Unnnh,” Peterman groaned. “Don’t tell me you have to pee again.”

“Afraid so, hon,” Baxter said. “It must have been all that bread and water I had for dinner.”

Peterman undid Baxter’s bonds and rolled back over. “Be back in two minutes.”

“Of course, dear,” Baxter said, padding off to the bathroom after first removing half of the French maid’s outfit from his rear. Wedgie central.

In the bathroom, Baxter’s mood immediately brightened. Charlie had managed to totally destroy the flower-print bathroom tile, paw through a couple of cable conduits, and break through to the jefferies tube below.

“So that’s why they’re called man’s best friend,” Baxter thought to himself as he gently lowered himself into the crater Charlie had dug.

He then crawled through the jefferies tube to the nearest exit hatch, lowering himself into a corridor on the deck below his quarters. He ended up dropping down right behind an edgy-looking lieutenant who immediately whirled around to see what was behind him.

“Are you following me?” the lieutenant screamed, raising his fist into the air. Suddenly, it seemed to register in his mind what he was looking at. The crewman lowered his fist and started laughing hysterically at Baxter’s costume. Never one to pass up an opportunity, Baxter threw two rights and a quick left, then roundhouse kicked the crewman just to make sure he’d stay unconscious for a while.

A couple of minutes later, Baxter emerged from a nearby lab dressed in a slightly-used, slightly small, lieutenant’s uniform. He entered the nearest turbolift and headed towards the bridge.

J’hana’s Andorian antenna detected the sound of an approaching turbolift.

“So, someone dares to challenge me,” she said softly, as she moved into attack position.

The turbolift doors opened onto the bridge. Baxter started to walk out, but was met by an incoming black boot. He dodged back just in time to avoid being nailed. As it was, his nose got a bit smushed.

“Try that again,” J’hana taunted, moving in for the kill.

“Emergency close,” Baxter shouted.

Luckily, the turbolift system didn’t require a command access, so the doors slammed shut just before J’hana’s second kick arrived.

Moving on to Plan B, Baxter headed to sickbay. Maybe Dr. Browning had some information on what was happening. Probably not, but at the very least she might be able to give him a sedative to help him calm down. This whole thing was a nightmare. His whole crew had gone nuts, and he couldn’t even get his hands on a phaser to defend himself with. He should have grabbed the one Peterman had been waving around earlier in the evening, but he couldn’t be expected to think of everything. Baxter was really going to have to talk to Starfleet about that little “the counselor can override the captain” regulation.

The doors to sickbay opened quietly revealing a completely empty room. Of course, the night medical staff were probably off being insane with everyone else. Baxter moved towards Dr. Browning’s office.


“Go away,” her voice replied from under her desk.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m hideous.”


“Just go!” Browning shouted.

“I need your help. Something’s happening to everybody.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Browning demanded, standing up. She’d obviously been crying…a lot. “Look at me!”

“What about you?” Baxter said confused. Other than appearing a bit tired, Browning seemed perfectly normal.

“I’m huge.” She looked at Baxter a moment, formulating a question. “Do I look fat to you?”

Uh oh. Baxter had been married long enough to know this was the death question when coming from a woman. Of course, he didn’t really know many men who’d ever ask it. Answering it was bad enough. No matter what you said, the woman would still think she was fat.

“You look great,” Baxter said, hoping for the best. “Not a bit of fat on you.”

“But my thighs…”

“Janice, we’ve got a medical emergency on the bridge. Bring some tranquilizers and come on. That’s an order.”

Browning looked at the yellow collar sticking out of Baxter’s uniform and the lieutenant pips.

“Did you get demoted?”

“No! I’m still the captain, and you’re my thin chief medical officer. Let’s go.”

“You don’t think my butt looks…”

“You’ve got a beautiful ass. I just want to grab it. Are you satisfied?”


“Can we go now?”

Peterman rolled over in bed and put her arm around Baxter…except he’d gotten really furry. Pushing herself through the haze of sleep, Peterman opened her eyes and saw Charlie laying in bed next to her.

“Andy?” No response. “ANTHONY!” Still nothing.

Peterman crawled out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom, almost falling into the huge hole in the floor.

“Why that…” Snapping fully awake and furious, Peterman threw on her black leather hunting gear and charged towards the door. She stopped herself before leaving and grabbed the phaser rifle. It was important to think ahead at times like this. Besides, this would be just the thing to teach that lying,cheating son of a bitch a lesson.

The turbolift arrived on the bridge, but this time Baxter had enough sense to duck. Browning wondered why Baxter was pulling her down to the turbolift floor, but followed his lead anyway. She was quickly glad she did. J’hana’s boot narrowly missed their heads. Baxter charged out of the lift, knocking J’hana off balance and running to the other side of the room. Browning used the distraction to run in the other direction from Baxter.

While keeping one eye on J’hana, Baxter surveyed the bridge. The place was a mess. Consoles blinked erratically as puffs of smoke billowed out of them. The chairs were knocked around, and Lieutenant Ford lay unconscious slumped over the helm console.

Worst of all, bits of Larkin were scattered everywhere. In the middle of the floor, Richards lay asleep, Larkin’s head cradled in one arm.

“You wish to challenge me?” J’hana said, hopping to her feet.

“Of course not,” Baxter said, moving towards Browning, who was loading up her hypospray.

“Then leave my domain.”

“Richards is here. Why can he stay?”

“He is weak. But now I must fight you. Your challenge is accepted.”

“What challenge?” Baxter said quickly. J’hana was getting ready to strike. “Look, I don’t want to fight you…she does!” He pointed at Browning. J’hana turned on the doctor.

“So. You tried to distract me with a decoy. Very clever,” J’hana said.

“Andy, what are you doing?” Browning said worriedly as J’hana closed in on her.

“All she could talk about in the turbolift was how much she wanted to kick your ass,” Baxter said. That was the last straw. J’hana dove at Browning, catching the doctor with a vicious kick to the side of the head which sent her loaded hypospray flying. Baxter made a diving catch while J’hana continued to wail away on Browning. Recovering quickly, Baxter ran up behind J’hana, who was at this point holding Browning up just so she could pummel her more, and slammed the hypospray against her neck. A second later, both doctor and Andorian slumped to the deck unconscious.

“Sorry about that, Janice,” Baxter said. He rushed over to Richards and shook him awake.

“Chris! Chris!”

“Unnh. Andy? Is that you?”

“Yeah, Chris. What happened?”

“She destroyed my baby,” Chris said, tears welling to his eyes.

“I’m sorry, buddy, but you can fix her later.”

“Fix her? I can’t fix anything. I couldn’t even fix the sensors.”

“Sensors?” Baxter asked. “What’s wrong with them?”

“They went nuts at some point, and Tilleran called me up here.”

“Where’s Tilleran now?”

“Locked in your ready room.”

Baxter walked over to his ready room doors and prepared to knock.

“I wouldn’t,” Richards said. “She’s got a forcefield up.”

“Ariel!” Baxter shouted.

“STOP READING MY MIND!” Tilleran shouted back. Okay, so she was useless. Baxter checked the science console, which was fortunately one of the few consoles on the bridge that was still working. The readings from when the sensors “went nuts” didn’t mean anything to him, but maybe there was another way. He sent the data to stellar cartography and asked the computer to compute where these readings were gathered and any other information it could extrapolate.

Meanwhile, Baxter checked some of the reports that had come in from around the ship. No one could get into Mirk’s. Yeoman Briggs had locked himself in his tailor shop screaming that he wasn’t coming out until his clothes came back in style. Several other assaults. Then nothing. After a while, whatever swept the ship made people stop reporting in.

Baxter heard a groan from the helm console. Ford was coming to. He raced over to assist.

“Are you okay, Lieutenant?” Baxter asked. Ford opened his eyes, spotted J’hana’s prone form, and started screaming.

“Keep her away! Keep her away!” Ford ran to the opposite side of the bridge and huddled in a corner.

“She’s unconscious. She can’t hurt you,” Baxter said.

“She’s faking. I know it. The second I move, she’ll pounce. Leave me alone!”

“Okay. Fine. You have the bridge.” Baxter returned to Richards and grabbed his arm, pulling him towards the turbolift.

“Where are we going?” Richards asked, looking back longingly at his destroyed creation.

“Stellar cartography. I may need your command clearance.”

“What about yours?” Richards asked.

“Kelly declared me unfit for duty.”

“Pissed her off that badly, huh?”

“Oh yeah.”

Conway just seemed to be enjoying this, Mirk thought as sweat poured down his brow. The two had been standing facing each other for a good ten minutes it felt like. Conway just wanted Mirk to try to dive under the counter, to twitch, to do anything to make him shoot. Mirk, on the other hand, was far too scared to do much more than stay frozen in place.

“Havin’ fun yet?” Conway said. His voice seemed to be stretching into more and more of a drawl as this ordeal had gone on.

“Not really,” Mirk replied weakly.

“So, we just gonna stand here, or are you going to bring me some REAL coffee?”

“I told you, Commander. I don’t have any more. You’ve tried it all.”

“I know,” Conway said, his face in a sadistic grin. “I just like watching you squirm like a worm.”

“I don’t want to squirm anymore.”

“Fine by me.”

Conway pulled the triggers, sending two bright beams of death lancing at Mirk.

Lieutenant Commander Forrester felt alone, oh so alone. No one loved her. No one wanted to be with her. She sat against the wall of the stellar cartography projection lab sobbing her heartbroken eyes out in the dark.

Suddenly, the doors opened, flooding the room with light. Appearing in the door frame was a vision of strength, his silhouette filling her heart with joy.

“Andy! You’ve come back to me.”

“Uh, right,” Baxter said, entering the lab followed by Richards. “Lights.”

The lab returned to a normal level of illumination as Forrester leapt to her feet and threw her arms around Baxter.

“Does Kelly know about her?” Richards asked.

“Nothing to know. Believe me,” Baxter replied. He turned his attention back to Forrester. “Can you help us with something?”

“Sure, lover. Anything.”

“I sent some data from the bridge down here. Can we look at it?”

“Okay. But tell me you love me,” Forrester said.

“Commander, don’t make me give you an order,” Baxter said.

“Tell me you love me!” Forrester said forcefully.

“I love you.”

“Yay!!!” Forrester exclaimed jumping up and down and clapping her hands. “I’m your sugarlump!”


“I’ll put that data right up, muffinhead.”


Forrester set to work, quickly typing away at the console. Occasionally, she’d mutter a “that’s interesting” or a “so that means…” Finally, she lifted her head out of her work.

“This should do it, pouty-lips,” she said, activating the projection system. The room darkened and filled with stars. “Here’s where we are now…” An image of the Explorer came into view amongst the stars. “…and here’s where the sensor blip occurred.”

“Oh, so we’re calling it a ‘blip’ now,” Richards said.

“Stow it, Chris,” Baxter snapped.

“Thank you, honey-tongue,” Forrester said. “Anyway, the computer was able to get a lot more than just a blip. For a moment, it was like we were in another type of space, sort of like being inside a wall. We could detect the wall and only the wall. Also, we could see how far the wall stretched.” She activated another control, and a wavy bubble appear surrounding a vast area of the region of space, including the Explorer.

“So we’re inside some sort of bubble?” Baxter asked.

“Exactly! You’re so smart!”

“Where’d it come from?” Richards asked

“I don’t know,” Forrester said. “That’s not my department.”

“In any case, we’re getting out of here,” Baxter said.

“The engines are down. We can’t move,” Richards protested. “We’ve almost drifted to the other side of this thing, but we’ve still got a good seven hours of drifting to do.

“Then we’ll have to use our inertia,” Baxter said. “What about the thrusters?”

“They should be fine,” Richards said. “But that’s going to be a slow trip.”

“Then we’ll have to try a turbo boost,” Baxter said.

“What’s that?” Richards asked.

“Something I learned from Commander Conway’s race cars.”

“You’re so commanding,” Forrester said in awe.

“And so dead,” an unwelcome female voice said from the doorway. Baxter turned and saw Peterman standing there, rifle at the ready.

“He’s mine!” Forrester shouted. “And there’s nothing you can do about it.” Forrester hit the ground one phaser blast later.

“Not very bright, was she?” Peterman asked as she stalked in.

“She meant nothing to him,” Richards said quickly.

“You aren’t helping,” Baxter said, backing up against the projection control panel.

“Time to make your last confession, Andy,” Peterman said. “How many were there? How many have you seduced while married to me?”

“None, I swear it,” Baxter said, turning to face the console. He moved his fingers across the controls hoping that Peterman wouldn’t notice. “I love only you!” He sunk his head against his chest overdramatically while he typed in the last bit of programming.

“Bravo,” Peterman said flatly. “But I’m not buying it. Goodbye, Andy.” She raised the rifle. Baxter closed his eyes and hit the control to activate his program.

The lab was suddenly filled with a brilliant flash of light as several hundred stars projected on the walls of the room went supernova all at once, causing Peterman and Richards to scream and shield their eyes. Baxter opened his eyes after the flash finished, grabbed Richards’s arm, and dragged him past the blinded Peterman.

“Sorry, honey!” Baxter shouted as he ran out of the lab. “I love you!”

The twin phaser bolts slammed into Mirk with the force of a rampaging Flarn, but he didn’t move. And he certainly didn’t incinerate. Instead, his body began to softly glow.

Furious, Conway jacked the power settings on both rifles up to maximum and fired again…and again…and again.

Mirk just continued to absorb the energy.

Conway juggled the rifles into one hand and, while still firing them, started shooting at Mirk with one of the hand phasers he had brought.

And Mirk kept glowing brighter and brighter until finally Conway couldn’t look at him anymore.

Still Conway fired.

An ominous hum began filling the air, emanating from Mirk as the light around him glowed brighter than any sun.

And suddenly it was over.

Mirk exploded in a flash of energy, blasting everyone in the lounge.

“Where are we?” Richards asked. His vision was returning, but he still had an entire chorus line of bright dots dancing before his eyes.

“Quantum torpedo room,” Baxter replied as he quickly typed instructions into the launch control console. “This is our turbo boost.”

“I don’t get it,” Richards said.

“We’re going to explode a couple of torpedoes behind the Explorer to get us moving faster towards the closest way out of this place. Then, we’ll just fire the thrusters at full blast to increase our momentum out of here. Physics will take care of the rest. If this works and Forrester’s computations are right, we should be out in a few minutes.”

“I should have figured this out. I’m supposed to be the engineer. I can’t even save us from a dangerous region of space; how am I supposed to rebuild Kristen?” Chris said, putting his head into his hands.

“You’ll be your old self soon enough,” Baxter said, patting Richards on the back reassuringly. “I’ve got everything all programmed in. Just input your command code, and I’ll activate it.”

Richards typed in his code, causing the execute switch to start flashing in readiness.

“Of course, this will be the moment that Kelly bursts in to blast us,” Richards joked.

“And here I am!” Peterman said, charging in the doorway.

“Well, that was predictable,” Baxter muttered.

“Step away from the consoles!” Peterman ordered.

“She learns quick,” Richards said.

“That’s my Kelly,” Baxter replied joylessly.

“Did you really think you could hide here?” Peterman said.

“Listen, honey. You’re sick right now. Everyone on board is. We’re trying to save this ship,” Baxter said.

“You expect me to believe that?”

“I’m your husband. You’ve got to trust me.”

“Trust you? After you go run around with that Forrester tramp? I don’t think so. No one does that to Kelly Peterman.”

“You’re really going to shoot me?” Baxter asked. Even though she wasn’t herself, Baxter still expected Peterman to have a bit more respect for his life than that.

“Yep.” Peterman started pulling the trigger as Baxter dove. He hit the ground just before Peterman’s phaser blast tore through the space he’d been standing in milliseconds earlier. Rolling forward, Baxter launched himself into the air, flying at the console. Phaser blasts seared the air around him as he headed towards his target. A stun bolt slammed into his hand, deadening it, just as he fell on the console.

Baxter may not have been able to feel anything through it, but his numb hand worked on the controls just the same.

Four torpedoes soared out of the Explorer’s rear quantum torpedo tube and exploded directly behind the ship, blasting it forwards.

Inside the torpedo room, the sudden jolt, which Baxter and Richards were ready for, knocked Peterman across the room. Richards made a dash for the door, and Baxter, cradling his numb hand, soon followed.

Outside, the Explorer’s thrusters flared to life, propelling the ship forward at an even faster rate.

Inside, Peterman recovered quickly and, ignoring the pain in her now-injured knee, charged out into the corridor after Baxter and Richards.

The blast in the Constellation Cafe subsided finally, leaving only a shocked Mirk. All around him lay the bodies of his friends, his colleagues, and Commander Conway.

Mirk’s powers had kicked in, saving his life. He didn’t need to fear Conway. He was special. He could fight back.

But did any of this cross Mirk’s mind?


“I killed them all!” Mirk cried, and then he dove under the bar, cowering in fear that security would be coming for him any second.

“I think she’s gone,” Richards said, starting to pant from running at top speed down the corridor.

“I hope so,” Baxter said, equally winded.

Richards suddenly fell forward as a stun blast nailed him right in the back.

“So much for your little friend,” Peterman called from down the corridor.

“Kelly, can we talk about this?” Baxter asked, backing down the hall.

“Nope,” Peterman said smiling. She fired, sending a blast right into Baxter’s leg. It wasn’t enough to knock him out, but it sure made that limb completely useless. “I’m going to take you apart one piece at a time!”

She fired again, tagging his other leg. Baxter fell to the floor.

“Once I’m out of limbs, I’m going for the other extremities.”

She lowered the power on the phaser rifle and blasted Baxter’s arm with the already-deadened hand. He tried to crawl away, pulling himself along with his one good arm.

“One more to go,” Peterman said happily.

“GET AWAY FROM HIM, YOU BITCH!” a voice said suddenly. Baxter turned around in time to see Forrester tackle Peterman, knocking them both to the deck. Forrester wrenched the rifle away from Peterman and tossed it down the corridor. “You’ve already shot me twice! No more!”

“You want it from my fists? Fine. Let’s go!” Peterman retorted. The two women began to fight in earnest, rolling back and forth as they showered each other with blows.

“Run away, Andy!” Forrester called.

“Right,” Baxter said. Not one to pass up good advice, though, Baxter pulled himself along as best he good. Rounding a corner, he could still hear sounds of the fight.

Then, the sounds stopped.

Baxter sat still for a few moments, waiting for some sound of something.

Peterman then rounded the corner and dove on top of him.

“Oh, Andy! I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. I love you.” She grabbed his face and kissed him a couple of thousand times.

“You don’t want me dead?” Baxter asked nervously.

“No. I was crazy. I’m fine now. Is there anything I can do?”

“Get me to sickbay,” Baxter replied. “And see if you can find someone other than Dr. Browning. She’s probably a bit upset at me right now.”

Captain’s Log,

Stardate 53584.3. The Explorer has cleared whatever the hell that area of space was, and things are returning to normal. I really hate regions of space that mess with crews’ minds. We ran into that one in the Delta Quadrant that made everyone try to kill each other. Now this one makes everybody paranoid. If we have to hit these, can we at least find one that makes everyone mellow?

In any case, we’ve advised Starfleet of what little we found out, and they assure me that they’ll have a science ship out there in no time to study it, explore it, and name it. As for that last item, I’ve already suggested ‘The Paranoid Void,’ but that was rejected. They have absolutely no sense of humor.

Lieutenant Commander Richards was able to restore engines, the bridge, and Lieutenant Commander Larkin to working order in record time. If he ever really had any doubts about his abilities, that should dispel them.

Everyone stuck in Mirk’s during the incident has fully recovered from whatever the heck Mirk did to them. We found him hiding under the bar, positive that he’d killed everyone. No such luck. Conway’s still alive.

Lieutenant Commander Forrester has requested that I no longer come near stellar cartography. Something about not being comfortable with my presence. Poor girl. I must have broken her heart.

The only other lingering question is why I wasn’t affected. Dr. Browning thinks that my blood problem a while back may have altered my brain chemistry enough to shield me. Or maybe I’m so paranoid anyway that I didn’t notice any change. Who knows? I’m just glad it’s over. Now I get to go home and let Kelly atone for her behavior during the crisis. She promises me that I won’t be disappointed. I can’t wait.

Baxter entered his quarters and was immediately surprised by the sound of his own voice.

“It’s funny, she’s paranoid about the one thing that would never happen. I love her more than anything, and I’d rather die than hurt her.”

“Hey!” he called out to the empty room. “They call these logs personal for a reason.”

“Counselor’s prerogative!” Peterman’s voice replied from the bedroom. A moment later, she emerged draped in an incredibly skimpy French maid’s outfit. Happily, she looked a hell of a lot better in it than Baxter did.

“My name is Yvette,” she said in a fake accent. “And I am here to wait on you hand and foot. You will have ALL of my personal attention.”

“I like the sound of that,” Baxter said, wrapping his arms around his wife.

“For dinner, I have lovingly replicated a glorious rack of lamb marinated in a rich cream sauce, just like you like.”

“Oh, talk dirty to me baby,” Baxter said.

“Shall we eat now…” She forced her cleavage up in her top a bit. “…or would you finally like that appetizer.”

“God, I’m glad things are back to normal,” Baxter exclaimed.

“Andy,” Peterman said, turning serious for a moment. “I don’t know how to apologize to you for what happened.”

“You don’t have to. I know you love me.”

“You bet I do, big man.”

“Can we not use pet names for a little bit?” Baxter shuddered a bit remembering his run-in with Forrester. “Bad memories.”

“All right,” Peterman replied smiling. “Just know that it will never happen again. That wasn’t me.”

“No one was acting like themselves. You were dangerous. Chris had lost his confidence. Conway was convinced every bit of coffee on the ship had been switched to decaf…”

“It was,” Peterman said.


“I ordered the computer to decaffeinate all coffee given to Commander Conway. I also switched his secret stash and everything in Mirk’s for decaffeinated. He really needs to get off that stuff.”

“You’re evil,” Baxter said. “When he finds out…”

There was suddenly a vicious pounding at the door and the familiar yell of a furious first officer.


“She’s busy! Come back later,” Baxter replied. He scooped his wife up in his arms and carried her back to the bedroom.


Dr. Browning’s run for a promotion to is aided by a strange, alien gift that just may drive her bonkers. Will she become a Commander or just a stark raving lunatic? Find out in one week!

Tags: vexed