Author: Anthony Butler
Stardate 55109.7. We’re on our way to an outpost deep in Dominion space to pick up our “Dominion Ambassador,” on our first official mission in the Gamma Quadrant.
The command staff has reacted well, so far, to the new assignment, and to our new “Dominion Expert,” Lieutenant Commander Nell Vansen.
“I’m almost too mad to eat,” Commander Christopher Richards grumbled and stabbed at the egg on his plate.
“Perish the thought, Christopher,” Doctor Janice Browning said softly, gently rubbing his arm. “That little vein is throbbing in your forehead. That’s not going to help the situation.”
“Then you obviously don’t understand the situation.”
Browning blinked at Richards. “I sat here and listened to every word, Christopher. Commander Vansen–”
“LIEUTENANT Commander Vansen arrived on the bridge this morning and sat down in the command chair while you were in the readyroom, even though, technically, you had the conn.”
“But that was just the beginning.”
“She cut you off when you gave an order to Lieutenant Madera.”
“And called me ‘useless.’ Right in front of the others!”
“Didn’t they all know that already?” Browning asked, suppressing a giggle.
Richards’s look told Browning he didn’t find that at all funny.
“Okay, okay,” Browning said, holding up her hands. “Obviously, you and she have not hit it off. But you’re going to have to work together. Even Andy can’t help you out of this one.”
“Believe me. He tried whining to his Dad several times about not needing a Second Officer, but Admiral Baxter would hear none of it.”
“Then you’ll just have to make the best out of a bad situation.” Browning nudged a dish in front of Richards. “And have some more sausage.”
“Janice,” Richards said, “you just don’t understand. Nell Vansen is a pushy, insulting, mean-spirited, hideous monster of a–”
“Commander!” Browning said, shoving out of her chair and trotting over to the entrance to Space Tastes, where Commander Vansen surveyed the restaurant with a dull eye.
Richards continued to shove cheesey eggs into his mouth, but gritted his teeth and diverted his eyes from Vansen.
“Come sit with us,” Browning said, grabbing Vansen by the arm and dragging her over to Richards’s table. “We were just talking about you.”
Vansen brushed by Browning. “I’m sure. And you are?”
“Janice Browning,” Browning said with a grin. “Nice to meet you.”
Vansen sat down across from Richards. “Are you Starfleet?”
“No, but I…”
“Then why am I talking to you?” She looked to Richards. “I thought I’d find you here. You had a disagreement with me over our route to the Brokkus system, and instead of sticking up for yourself, you came down here to cower.”
Richards didn’t look up from his food. “I’m not cowering. I’m eating.”
“If you say so.”
“Guys, guys,” Dr. Browning said, scooching into a seat between Vansen and Richards. “We’re all friends here, right? All on the same team! The Explorer team!”
“What’s wrong with you?” asked Vansen. “Did you get dropped on your head when you were little or something?”
“Well, I…” Browning stammered.
“Shut up and leave us alone. We have Starfleet business to talk about. How about you make yourself useful and get some coffee.”
Browning’s eyebrows crunched together. “Listen, I just…”
“‘I just, I just’…yeah shut up,” Vansen snapped. “Go get me some coffee.”
Richards turned to Browning, who’s mouth opened and closed as if she were a fish out of water. “Now you see what I’m talking about.”
“Let me just…go get that pot of coffee,” Browning said, and walked into the kitchen.
“So, what’s good here? Nothing?” Vansen said conversationally, not raising her voice over the slamming and cymbal-like crashing of pans in the kitchen.
Richards again gritted his teeth. “I want you to know, that’s my girlfriend you’re talking about.”
“Yawn,” muttered Vansen.
“You are treading on thin, thin ice here, Lieutenant Commander Vansen.”
“And how do you figure?” Vansen asked, leaning forward. “What, exactly, can you possibly do to me?”
“Unleash J’hana on you, for one.”
Vansen threw back her head and laughed, sending dark brown hair cascading around her shoulders, framing her pale, round face, full lips and sparkling hazel eyes. Richards noticed then that Vansen wasn’t exactly hard to look at. Damn it.
“Commander, that confused woman wouldn’t know whether to beat me up or make love to me. She’d probably end up doing both.”
“Show’s how much you know about Andorians. To them, it’s one and the same.”
“Indeed.” Vansen turned around to look back at the kitchen doors. “Now where is that silly woman with my coffee?”
Just then, Dr. Browning came strolling out of the kitchen with a large silver pot of steaming coffee and a big smile on her face.
“Hot java, freshly brewed!” Browning said cheerily, approaching Vansen. “I do hope you enjoy it!”
Vansen eyed Browning with a raised eyebrow. “Where’s my cup? You expect me to drink that out of my hands?”
“You never said anything about a cup,” Browning said innocently. She tipped the pot and dumped the steaming coffee right on Vansen’s head. “Enjoy!”
Vansen shrieked so high-pitched that Richards had to cover his ears. The shrieking almost completely covered up his laughter, and that of the surrounding crewpersons.
Vansen sprang to her feet and ran toward the door of Space Tastes, soaked. Steam rose off her head and shoulders, her face was red, no doubt from embarrassment and the scalding coffee. “I will have you booted off this ship!”
“I’m not Starfleet, remember!”
“OH GOD IT BURNS!”
“I hope you know a good doctor!” Browning called out, waving goodbye to Vansen.
Browning sat down the pot and collapsed into the seat across from Richards, sighing with relief.
“Well, I’m sure glad that unpleasantness is overwith.”
Richards beamed at Browning. “Janice, it’s times like this that I remember why I love you.”
“A woman can only take so much, Christopher.”
“Got anymore coffee in that pot?”
“Nope, but I can make you a fresh one.”
“Sounds good.” Richards grinned. “I’ll have mine in a cup.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
When Richards returned to the bridge, he found Captain Baxter pacing behind the foreward stations, brows knit in consternation.
“Captain? I thought you and Kelly were spending the morning in the arboretum.”
“I got called away,” Baxter groaned.
“By Lieutenant Commander Vansen. Apparently, somebody assaulted her while she was at the mall this morning.”
“That would be Janice,” Richards said sheepishly, stepping down to join Baxter by the foreward stations.
“Yes, yes it would,” Baxter sighed. “Do you know Vansen is down with Doctor Wilcox, getting skin grafts, composing a letter to Starfleet Command demanding that Doctor Browning be kicked off the ship?”
“I will ensure it gets routed to the proper place,” J’hana piped up from tactical.
“Yeah,” Tilleran chimed in. “Breen.”
“Knock it off, you two,” Baxter said, turning on Richards. “Commander, we have to find a way to work with Vansen. We’ve tried having her removed, and my Dad wouldn’t budge. He insists we need her. While I have my doubts, I know a lost cause when I see one.”
“The woman’s angling for my job, Andy. I’m beginning to think I should just give it to her.”
“And saddle me with a pain-in-the-ass first officer again?” Baxter asked, walking over to the command chair and sitting down. “I don’t think so. I already did that once with Conway.
“Captain Conway was arguably the most objectionable person in the quadrant, and somehow we learned to work with him. We’ll learn to work with Vansen in time, too.”
“Or we will kill her.”
“We will NOT kill her,” Baxter said to J’hana. “There is to be no killing, got it?”
“If you insist,” sighed J’hana.
“What about maiming?” suggested Tilleran.
“A battle between you and Commander Vansen would be glorious indeed,” J’hana said in a low voice.
“There will be nothing of the sort!” Baxter said sternly. “Is that understood?”
“Yes,” Tilleran and J’hana said half-heartedly.
“Now, if you’re wise, Chris, you’ll tell Janice to apologize to Commander Vansen. Maybe we can patch things up between the two of them before we have to resort to drastic measures like…”
“I was going to suggest blackmail, but whatever you like,” Baxter said, and, finally, he chuckled.
Supplemental. We’ve arrived at the Brokkus system, where Dominion Outpost 417 is located. Here, we will pick up our Dominion Ambassador, and receive our first mission as the emissary ship (so to speak) from the Federation.
It’ll be a little odd taking orders from the Dominion, but since we didn’t fight in the Dominion War, it really isn’t all that jarring. Maybe that’s part of why we were assigned to this mission. I think we were the only ship NOT to fight in the Dominion War.
Anyway, I’ve assembled the most diplomatic group I could find to meet the Dominion Ambassador. Needless to say, it wasn’t easy.
“How’s my belt look?” Captain Baxter asked, as he waited with Counselor Peterman, Doctor Browning, and Lt. Commander Tilleran in the transporter room.
“Fine,” muttered Peterman.
“I’m glad you finally pulled that thing out of storage,” Browning said playfully. “I was starting to miss it.”
“Me too,” said Baxter. “It kind of adds some spice to my dress uniform.”
“It looks ridiculous,” said Peterman.
“It’s a bit early yet for the mood swings,” Browning observed.
“I’m not having mood swings. I just think the belt looks ridiculous.” She pointed at it. “Look how big the buckle is! And why does it have to be shaped like the Starfleet emblem?”
“Because it’s fancy,” Baxter said defensively.
“I agree, sweetie,” Ensign Lindsay Morgan said from behind the transporter console. “I think you clean up really nice.”
“Well, thanks,” Baxter said sheepishly. He glanced at Peterman. “It’s nice to know somebody has good taste around here. You’re a credit to the uniform, Ensign. But, for further reference, it’s ‘Captain,’ not ‘sweetie.’” Baxter thought about it for a moment. “Aw, what the heck. ‘Sweetie’ will be just fine.”
Peterman elbowed Baxter in the gut and he turned back around to face the transporter pad.
“It’s so nice to have some new faces on the ship,” Browning said to herself.
“Looks like they’re ready for transport,” Morgan said. “Want me to energize, sugar?”
“Uhm, yes,” Baxter said, feeling the daggers of Peterman’s look.
Morgan ran her hands up the transporter controls, and a familiar figure materialized on the transporter pad.
“Weyoun!” Baxter cried, stepping in front of Browning and Peterman to shield them from whatever the maniacal little Vorta was up to. Tilleran noticed he didn’t make an effort to shield her.
Baxter knew enough about the Weyoun series of Vorta clones to know he was a nasty customer. A particularly fat Weyoun had been overseeing operations on the Jem’Hadar battleship that had abducted Baxter and Peterman, along with their parents and a Starfleet outpost crew. Now what did this Weyoun want, and how’d he get on Baxter’s ship?
There was one other possibility, that Baxter hadn’t really considered for some reason.
“I am the Dominion Ambassador,” Weyoun said, stepping off the transporter pad. “I assure you. You have nothing to fear from me.”
Baxter could believe it, too. Now that he was off the transporter pad, this Weyoun barely stood to Baxter’s shoulder.
He limply shook the Vorta’s hand. “Mister…um…”
“Weyoun,” Weyoun said.
“I never would have guessed,” Peterman quipped.
“I thought your series was wiped out near the end of the war,” Tilleran piped up, her scientific interest piqued as she stepped up to welcome the new arrival.
“That is…not altogether true.” Weyoun bowed in Tilleran’s direction, and then at Browning and Peterman. “The original Weyoun series was wiped out by an attack on a Dominion cloning facility; however, some of the genetic material did still remain back in the Gamma Quadrant. Since we represent the pinnacle of Dominion cloning technology, it seemed befitting that the Weyoun clone be returned to service.” Weyoun angled his neck up to look into Baxter’s eyes. “They are still…perfecting things.”
“No kidding. The Weyoun we saw aboard the rogue Jem’Hadar warship we fought was really fat.”
“That is unfortunate,” Weyoun said.
“Yeah, sometimes eating can be very seductive,” Doctor Browning chimed in.
“I was referring to the fact that one of our rebel factions has acquired cloning technology. Even more alarming is the fact that they are working in concert with a Founder.” Weyoun shivered. “It is unthinkable.” Suddenly, his face seemed to brighten. “But this is neither the time nor the place. I am quite pleased to be aboard, Captain Baxter. I have heard great things about you and your crew.”
“Then there must have been some mix-up,” Tilleran said, and Baxter shot her a nasty look.
“This way, Ambassador. I’ll show you to your quarters.”
“Excellent,” Weyoun said, taking up step with Baxter as the captain led the way out of the transporter room. “And then, I hope we will be able to assemble for a quick staff meeting?”
“Of course,” Baxter said.
“Y’all come back now, ya hear?” they heard Ensign Morgan’s voice trail off.
“She is just terrific,” said Doctor Browning.
“I’ve gotta throw up,” said Peterman.
Captain Baxter stared around the conference table at the group assembled around it, including J’hana, Tilleran, Peterman, Vansen and Richards.
“I think we all know each other here,” he said, folding his hands on top of the conference table. Peterman nudged him. “Oh, with one obvious exception, of course.” Baxter grinned at Weyoun, who sat to his left. “Everyone, this is…what do you like to be called, Ambassador? Just Weyoun?”
“Or ‘Short Weyoun’?” J’hana offered.
“We will NOT be calling him Short Weyoun,” Baxter snapped.
“Weyoun will be fine, or Ambassador Weyoun if you would like to be formal.”
“I’d like to formally ask what this mission is going to entail so we can get on with it,” Vansen piped up from her seat at the other end of the table.
“Charming woman,” Weyoun said quietly.
“We like to think so,” Baxter said. “She does have a point. We have a course to lay in, preparations to make.” Baxter recalled the subspace coaching his father had given him in terms of what Starfleet wanted to make out of this endeavor. “We’re eager to prove to you the Federation’s willing to work with the Dominion to keep the peace secure.” Admiral Baxter had not put it nearly as eloquently but he’d worked for a good part of the afternoon polishing it up.
“And we’re eager to prove we can work with you,” Weyoun said, grinning. “That leads us to the first mission in our…unique partnership.” Weyoun handed Baxter an isolinear chip. “I believe this will be compatible with your data banks?”
Baxter studied the chip, shrugging. He passed it to Tilleran. “Well?”
Tilleran looked the chip over. “It appears to be Federation in design.”
“We’ve…studied your technology,” Weyoun said in a voice that made Baxter uncomfortable.
“Let’s check it out,” Baxter said, nodding to Tilleran, who walked over to the viewscreen at the front of the conference room and slid the chip into a nearby receptacle.
The familiar L-shape of the Dominion logo appeared on the viewscreen, replaced with an image of a gray-blue planet.
“This is the planet Dalda Two. They have been a Dominion member-world for quite some time. During the war, however, we were required to divert some resources away from them. Scientific, agricultural…” Weyoun diverted his eyes toward the windows. “Uhm…medical. At any rate, we want to renew ties and help foster some of their scientific programs.”
“What sort of scientific programs?” Richards asked.
“They are apparently making great strides in the study of time travel.” Weyoun grinned.
“Ironic.” This from Vansen.
Weyoun pursed his lips. “How so?”
“Well, if the Dominion had kept funding the experiments, the Daldans could have eventually found a way to send a team back through time to sabotage the Federation in its initial stages.”
“I’m sorry, I do not have a sense of irony,” Weyoun said.
“Regardless,” Baxter said, “we’re ready to help them move forward, are we not?”
“I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that,” Tilleran said. “The Federation has strict rules on time travel research.”
“This isn’t the Federation,” Weyoun said with a smile.
“Captain, can we…”
“We can’t do anything till we at least check the place out, speak with some of the planet’s scientists,” Baxter suggested. “I for one would love to see what they have in mind. Goodness knows the slingshot method has gotten old.” He glanced around at his other crewmembers. “Come on…am I right, or what?”
“Judging by this crew’s history, the last thing we want to get into is time travel,” said Vansen.
“Do you care to elaborate on that?” asked Weyoun.
“No!” Baxter said quickly. “Meeting adjourned.”
Supplemental. We’ve arrived at Dalda Two. After much disagreement from Lieutenant Commander Tilleran, I’ve elected to lead the away team down to meet the planet’s scientists and prime minister. I assured my Chief Science Officer she’d have ample time to study the Daldans’ time travel techniques, but this first away team’s mission is simply to get a feel for the Daldans and put out some nice PR about the Federation.
Hence, Commander Richards and I are beaming down with Ambassador Weyoun to spread the love.
J’hana, unfortunately, insisted on coming along.
“I am unimpressed,” J’hana said haughtily, glancing around the laboratory as Baxter, Richards and Weyoun joined her in waiting for the Daldan scientists and representative to arrive.
“Appearances can be deceiving, Commander,” Weyoun said serenely. Certainly, the lab was nothing impressive. Gray walls and a few panels of bleeping orange and blue lights. Some worktables splayed about with circuitry. “But you must agree the device beyond that window is somewhat unique.”
J’hana gazed through the window into the room beyond, a room that appeared to be thickly walled and cushioned, with a spinning blue orb at the center. “Looks like a big gumball.”
“Andorians have gumballs?” Richards asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No, we in fact do not,” J’hana replied. “But I have tried them. I consider myself a renaissance woman.”
“Andorians had a renaissance?” Baxter asked with a chuckle.
“Yes.” J’hana’s small smile faded. “But we do not like to talk about it. Many people died.”
“That’s a conversation-stopper,” Richards mumbled.
“Your crew is diverse, Captain,” Weyoun said to Baxter. “I would like to learn more about them.”
“We’ll have lots of time to do that…apparently,” Baxter said.
“Speaking of time, where in the hell is our receiving party?” asked Richards.
“I’ll go find the secretary,” J’hana said, heading for the door. Before J’hana could reach the door, an explosion rocked the very foundation of the building, shaking the walls and sending equipment crashing to the floor.
Weyoun steadied himself against a nearby table. “What in the Founders’ names was that?”
Baxter glanced at J’hana. “Find out, Commander. Richards and I will stay here.”
J’hana nodded, withdrawing her phaser. “With pleasure, Captain. Perhaps the secretary is still alive.”
“We can always hope…” Baxter said, then turned, noticing the room was begining to brighten. J’hana, Richards, and Weyoun all turned toward the source of the light. The room with the pulsating blue orb. Which was now somewhat bigger.
Richards stared fearfully at the orb as he tapped his combadge. “Richards to Explorer.”
“Vansen here. Did you ruin the mission yet?”
“We’re getting there,” Richards said. “Scan this area, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”
There was a pause.
“Commander, chroniton radiation in your area just jumped off the scale. We’re beaming you guys up. Vansen to Morgan, lock onto the away team and BRRRRRRRRZT!”
“Brrrrrrzt?” Weyoun inquired politely.
“They’ve been cut off,” Richards explained.
“I’m getting a funny feeling as to why,” Baxter said, staring worriedly at the blue orb, which continued to grow. It was now almost as big as the room itself. “Um…run.”
“Yes, good idea!” Weyoun said, dashing past Richards to the door, knocking J’hana aside and running for his life.
“Apparently Vorta don’t have a sense of bravery either,” she muttered and charged after him, Richards and Baxter on her heels. Baxter glanced over his shoulder as he left the lab at the blue orb, which now passed right through the protective wall of the safe-room into the lab, so big he could not see the curvature of it; it just looked like a wall of crackling blue energy.
Weyoun, J’hana, Richards and Baxter skidded into the waiting room where they’d originally beamed in. Daldans in shiny yellow battle armor dashed by. One especially well-dressed Daldan pushed out of the crowd toward the Starfleet officers. His eyes immediately fell on Weyoun.
“You must be the representatives from the Dominion.”
“And the Federation,” Baxter piped up.
“Whatever,” said the Dalda representative. “I am Proctor Gallath.”
The Daldans were gangly creatures, just a bit taller than most humanoids, a little over two meeters or so, with light green skin, bald spiked heads and beady eyes. They could have been some of the original breeding stock for Jem’Hadar, looking not nearly as harmful but similarly spikey.
“Weyoun.” Weyoun shook Gallath’s hand. “It appears you are quite busy.”
“The Brn’Tar sect just bombed us, trying to get the time technology.”
“I was to understand that the civil war problem on this planet had been solved years ago,” Weyoun said dully as explosions boomed around him.
“It had,” Gallath said quickly, “until the Dominion withdrew all of their support.”
“Sorry about that,” Weyoun mumbled.
“If I can just break in a moment,” Baxter said. “There is a giant blue energy wave heading toward us from back in the laboratory and I don’t think it’s going to wait for us to have a diplomatic meeting.”
“Blue wave, you say?” Gallath asked. “Oh no.”
“I take it that’s bad?” asked Richards.’
“Extremely,” sighed Gallath.
“You all don’t sound very prepared,” J’hana noticed.
“Can I make a suggestion?” Richards said helpfully.
“Sure,” said Baxter, watching soldiers come running out of the hallway to the laboratory, screaming, as the blue wave advanced.
“Let’s dive behind that couch…” Richards pointed.
“Good idea,” Baxter said.
“I don’t think that the couch will protect us,” Weyoun said.
“You’re probably right,” said J’hana.
“You’re definitely right,” Gallath sighed, as everyone but him dove behind the couch and the wave washed over them.
“WELL??” Lt. Commander Vansen demanded, staring over Tilleran’s shoulder.
“Would you back up about five meters?” Tilleran snapped and returned to her screens.
Vansen turned to glance at the viewscreen, which displayed an overhead view of a building in the capital city of Daldadius on Dalda. The building was pockmarked with blast craters, panicked people scrambling about. What was even more disturbing was the fact that the entire building was engulfed by a blue orb of energy.
“Scanners can’t penetrate the blue sphere,” Tilleran said finally. “I’ve used every possible bandwidth.”
“Then I’m taking a team down there to get our people out,” Vansen said resolutely, pointing back at Ensign Adam Keefler at tactical. “Mister Keefler, you’re with me.”
“Belay that,” Tilleran snapped, stopping Vansen in her tracks.
“Pardon ME?” Vansen said, spinning to face Tilleran. “Did you just BELAY me?”
“You’re not going to have any luck getting them out of there. The orb has stopped growing and solidified. No one can get in, no one can get out.”
“Solidified?” asked Vansen. “You mean like a forcefield?”
“No, more like a subspace field, but solid, and made of pure, concentrated chroniton particles.”
“So…what? Our people are going to be dragged back through time, or propelled forward?”
“I can’t tell that yet,” Tilleran said. “This is like nothing I’ve seen before. A solid manifestation of chroniton radiation. I can’t begin to tell you how to dissipate it, or even how to get a signal through.”
“Well, get working on it. Call on whatever resources you need, but get our stupid away team out of there. And if you ever, ever belay ME again, you will be sorry.”
“Yeah, I’m terrified,” Tilleran muttered, punching at her console.
“Actually, this isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be,” Captain Baxter said, hopping up from behind the couch, joined by Weyoun, J’hana, and Richards.
An eerie blue glow lit the room from outside; Baxter could see the energy crackling through the waiting room’s front windows.
“So what now?” asked Richards.
“Can we get out through that?”
Gallath shook his head. “No, certainly not.” Another Daldan, one who appeared to be a lab technician, approached Gallath. “Report, Bondoth.”
“Proctor, studies conclude the bombing threw the sphere off its axis and caused a temporal inversion.”
“I feared as much.”
“Care to clue us in on what exactly that means?” Baxter asked, looking from Bondoth to Gallath.
Bondoth looked totally uninterested in Baxter. “Imagine your life as a boat navigating a stream.”
“That boat has just turned around, and is headed back exactly the way it came.”
Baxter blinked. “Can someone translate for me?”
“You didn’t want to bring Tilleran,” muttered J’hana.
“How intense is the inversion effect?”
“About 35,000 times faster than normal time.”
“That sounds really bad,” Richards said.
“So what, we’re going back in time?” asked Baxter. He’d pretty much prepared for that. He could handle that.
“Not exactly…” Gallath said, trading worried looks with Bondoth.
“We’re going back in age.”
“And we’re doing it 35,000 times faster than time normally passes?” Richards exclaimed.
“We will become approximately four years younger for every hour that passes, yes,” said Bondoth.
Weyoun cringed. “Oh dear.”
Baxter knew what Weyoun was worried about. “You’re…how old?”
“Uh-oh.” Richards rubbed his chin worriedly. “So…hmm. Andy, you and I are 34, so we’ve got…”
“You’re asking me? You’re the guy who used to do warp core intermix calculations,” Baxter muttered.
“Eight point five hours before you cease to exist,” Bondoth said helpfully.
“MMMMmmmm, Andorian puberty,” J’hana said, rubbing her hands together.
Gallath chuckled. “Luckily, Bondoth here is 140 years old.”
“You wear it well,” Baxter said by way of making conversation.
“I have work to do,” Bondoth said, running back to the lab.
“Help him!” Baxter ordered, pointing at Richards.
“Because this doesn’t have to do with command, security, or diplomacy, and you’re all that’s left. Go!”
Lt. Commanders Hartley and Tilleran huddled around the science console, tapping buttons, running simulations, muttering between themselves.
Vansen, meanwhile, sat in the command chair, arms folded, tapping her foot.
“Are you two just about done?”
“What’s her problem?” Hartley asked Tilleran.
“I’ll tell you later,” Tilleran said. “What about if we create a subspace field around the building? If we modulate it correctly, it could vibrate against the chroniton shell and break it down.
Hartley nodded. “Subspace technology is certainly the only thing I know of capable of counteracting a chroniton shell, but it would be all theory since we’ve never seen a real live chroniton shell before. Besides that, we couldn’t sustain a subspace field in a planet’s atmosphere.”
“So we beam up the whole building,” Tilleran suggested.
“Too big. And I couldn’t even guarantee the thing would resolve, what with the interference from that blue sphere.”
“Carve it out with phasers, pull it up with a tractor beam,” Vansen piped up from the command chair.
“That’s ridiculous,” snapped Hartley. “The building would break apart…”
“Not to mention everyone in it would die form oxygen depravation,” Tilleran chimed in.
Vansen stood and crossed over to the science console. “Not if you created a structural integrity field around it, and stretched our shields around it.”
“Do you know how long that would take?” demanded Hartley.
“You’d better get working, then. Draft science officers, engineers, inventory officers, whoever you need.”
“This is ridiculous,” Hartley remarked, throwing up her hands.
“It’s also an order.”
“And not a half bad idea,” Tilleran said, tapping in the simulations on her console. The success rate was better than any of the other tries.
“Doesn’t mean we have to like her,” Hartley muttered and charged off into the turbolift.
“I don’t feel any younger, but damn, I feel thinner,” Baxter said, staring down at his stomach and poking it. His uniform felt lose and baggy, and his trouser legs were brushing the floor. “I didn’t realize I gained so much weight this year.”
“It’s a shame about Weyoun,” Gallath said, appearing at least a head shorter and even thinner and ganglier than he had earlier. “His clone series is truly excellent.”
“I didn’t know him well enough to judge,” Baxter asked, staring at the pile of goo that once was Weyoun. He had been sitting there and, then, suddenly, he was just a pile of clear goo. Probably the genetic stuff he was spawned out of.
J’hana sighed, thumbing her shorter antennae. “The Dominion isn’t going to be happy with us.”
“Heh,” said Baxter. “Did you ever think you’d be saying that, and caring?”
“No, not really,” J’hana admitted.
Baxter patted his head. “Hmm. I think I’m growing some more hair. That’s weird. Didn’t realize I was losing any.”
“You must be kidd–” J’hana began, then stopped short. “I mean, I hadn’t noticed.”
“Wow. Younger, thinner. More hair. I don’t see the downside to this.”
“How about the fact that you will become a larva in a few hours.”
“Baby, J’hana. We call them babies.”
“Hey guys,” Commander Richards said dejectedly, collapsing into the chair opposite Baxter.
“Looking good,” J’hana said. “What are you now? Twenty-two?”
“Something like that,” muttered Richards. “I feel more energetic than I have in years, but that’s not going to do any of us any good. I worked with Bondoth and a few of his assistants in the lab for three hours, and there just isn’t any way to manipulate the chroniton shell from in here.”
“So we have to rely on the scientists that are outside of the shell.”
“All the ones who are qualified are in this building. And all of them have retired to their various offices to mull their impending breakdown into their component cells.”
“Sh**,” Baxter muttered.
“Yeah really,” Richards agreed.
“Well, is there a bar in here? I’d like to buy a drink while I’m still old enough.” Baxter smiled weakly. He and Richards giggled, but J’hana and Gallath appeared perplexed.
“Ancient joke,” Baxter said.
“I must warn you all,” J’hana said. “In two hours, I will have regressed in age to the time of puberty. I will become a beast the likes of which none of you have ever faced.”
“What species are you all?” Gallath asked. “You don’t appear to be from around here.”
“We aren’t from around here,” Baxter said, looking fearfully at J’hana. “Could we trouble you all for some rope?”
“Or a duridium cage?” suggested Richards.
“The ‘Introduction to the Federation’” speech might be in order about now,” J’hana said. “While you still have time.”
Lt. Commander Vansen paced the Explorer bridge, staring from time to time at Dalda Two on the viewscreen. “Mister Keefler, patch me through to Commander Hartley.”
“Done,” Keefler said from tactical, and Hartley appeared on the viewscreen, giant orb behind her in the background, Starfleet officers scurrying about behind her setting up beacons and generator equipment.
“Progress, Commander?” Vansen asked.
“This part of town is going to get one hell of a facelift,” Hartley said wryly. “But we’ll be ready in another couple hours.”
“It would help if we had some idea of what was happening inside the sphere,” Tilleran chimed in, working to coordinate the work crew’s efforts from the science station.
“Whatever it is, we need to stop it as soon as possible,” said Vansen. “Let us know as soon as you’re ready to proceed, Hartley.”
“Sure thing. Hartley out.”
For some reason, Vansen suspected that time was of the essence.
“That should do it,” a bony and pimple-faced Commander Richards said with satisfaction as he looped the rope around J’hana once more for good measure. “Try to get out of that.”
“Oh, I will,” J’hana glared at Richards. “I will shear the testicles right off of you with my teeth.”
“Right, then,” Richards said, turning to Baxter. “How are you, Captain?”
“My voice is a few…erk!…octaves higher and…erk!…still breaking!” Baxter sighed. He’d stopped getting thinner about a half hour earlier and was now proceeding to GAIN weight. Baby fat, he’d explained.
“Yeah, we’re about 15 now,” Richards surmised.
“Which means J’hana’s little puberty is ready to start any minute.”
“Could someone explain this to me?” Gallath asked, now a good bit shorter than Baxter and Richards.
“Andorians are…well, a peculiar race,” Baxter’s creaky voice squeaked.
“They have a…unique developmental cycle,” Richards added.
“Meaning what?” Gallath asked worriedly as J’hana twitched in the chair and her eyes rolled backward in her head.
“Honestly,” Baxter said, looking to Richards. “We don’t know.”
“Well, whatever it is, it would appear to be about to happen,” Gallath said worriedly. “Should I call in security…um, just in case?”
“Not a bad idea,” Baxter said.
“Lots of security,” Richards said.
And they both hoped like hell the crew of the Explorer was doing something to get them out of this.
“Anti-grav generators and structural integrity fields in place,” Tilleran said. “Control has been routed to my station.”
“Advise Hartley and her people to beam up,” Vansen said. “Once they’re aboard, coordinate with her and continue at your discretion.”
“Ahh, I see. Now that there’s an emergency it’s all of a sudden MY discretion!”
“It’s called maximizing your staff resources, you imbecile, now do what I say or I’ll find somebody who will!”
“Touchy, touchy,” Tilleran mumbled, punching controls.
Just then, Counselor Peterman stormed out onto the bridge, followed by Janice Browning.
Vansen didn’t spare them a glance. “Civilians are not allowed on the bridge. And, frankly, Counselors are dead weight too.”
“Why didn’t anyone tell us what was going on? That’s my husband and her boyfriend down there!” Peterman demanded, stomping down next to Tilleran’s station. “Huh? Tilleran?”
“We’ve all been kind of busy,” Tilleran said, and quickly looked back down at her station.
“Just because you’re married to the captain doesn’t mean you can storm onto the bridge barking orders anytime you like,” Vansen said. “I have records of you taking over a rescue mission from Commander Larkin last year because your husband was involved, using some kind of ludicrous ‘Counselor’s Prerogative.’ I assure you, there will not be any repeating that incident. Get down belowdecks and stay out of our way. We’ll let you know as soon as your husband and boyfriend are safe.”
“And J’hana,” Tilleran muttered, “as if anybody cares about her.”
Browning marched up to Vansen. “How’s your face, Commander? Hope I didn’t do any permanent damage.”
“You’re so insignificant I barely remember who you are,” Vansen snapped, and marched over to the tactical console. “Mister Keefler, remove these two idiots from the bridge.”
“Um…” Keefler said uneasily.
“I won’t keep helping you get rid of your chocolate addiction, Ensign!” said Peterman.
“Sorry, orders ARE orders.”
“And I won’t make you chocolate pudding pie,” Browning chimed in.
“Oh, jeeze. I quit!” Keefler threw up his hands.
“Stay strong, Mister Keefler,” Vansen said, holding a cold eye on Peterman and Browning. “We’re in an emergency situation and these two are causing a disturbance, placing the very lives they’re so worried about saving in unnecessary jeopardy. Escort them to the brig. Now.”
Keefler waffled for a moment, then reluctantly withdrew his phaser. “Ladies. Please don’t struggle.”
“Oh, we’ll struggle all right,” Peterman muttered and marched into the turbolift.
“This isn’t over!” Browning cried as she, Peterman, and a nervous- looking Keefler disappeared inside.
“Blah, blah, blah…” Vansen muttered, making a mouth-moving gesture with her hand.
“You handled Peterman well,” Tilleran noted. “Maybe even better than Captain Conway did.”
“Hmm?” Vansen asked, gazing at Tilleran.
“I said, we’re ready to begin carving up the building and dragging it up.”
“Good. Lieutenant Madera, move us into position.”
It took seven armored security guards to drag J’hana into the coat closet, where for the last half-hour nothing but screaming and growling could be heard.
“Someone should check on her,” said a diminutive, freckled Richards whose uniform sagged around him, completely engulfing his hands and feet.
A pudgy, 14-year-old Baxter, bursting out of the seams of his uniform, nearly as wide as he was tall, nodded. “You’re welcomed to.”
They sat next to each other, twiddling their thumbs.
“Hey…where’d Gallath go?” asked Richards.
“There now…watch that….” THUNK! THUNK! “Ow! You bit me! I was just checking to see if you were all right. Whoa, watch where you put that!”
Baxter and Richards stared woefully at the door to the coatroom.
“I guess that answers our question,” Baxter said.
“I wonder if he’s enjoying himself.”
Baxter sighed. “I somehow doubt it.”
“How are you on temporal theory?” Richards asked, sort of out of the blue.
“I can’t believe you’re even asking me that. You know I failed that course at the Academy.”
“Well, it’s just that…I was thinking. We haven’t lost our memories, right? I mean our bodies are getting younger but we are retaining the memories that we had at the outset of this thing.”
“Where are you going with this?” Baxter shouted over Gallath’s pained cries for help.
“Well, in less than an hour we’re going to regress to 12-year-olds. Another hour, we’ll be 10. Then 8. Then 6. Then 4.”
“Yes, I can divide by two. What’s your point?” Baxter queried over J’hana’s frothy-mouthed growls.
“My point is, our memories may continue to be intact, but our comprehensive and deductive abilities, our intelligence, will probably reduce as we get younger.”
“I feel as smart as I was when I beamed down,” Baxter said, wincing as he heard a shriek from Gallath.
“Let’s be honest. We’re both no smarter at 34 years old then we were when we were 14.”
Baxter sighed. “I can’t confirm or deny that, Chris.” Inwardly, though, Baxter knew Richards was right and hoped for his sake and everyone else’s that the Explorer crew would come through and pull their proverbial crotches out of the fire. They might be too late for poor Gallath, though.
“We’re in position,” Lt. Madera announced loudly.
“I’m standing right behind you, Lieutenant,” Vansen sighed and pointed at the viewscreen, which displayed an overhead view of the Daldan scientific building encircled by the crackling blue sphere. The Explorer was hovering over it, as low in the planet’s atmosphere as it could be without crashing. “Mister Tilleran, you know what to do.”
“Do you really have to use ‘mister’?” Tilleran questioned. “I know it’s correct military-wise, but it’s just so…unfeminine.”
“And dating another woman isn’t?” Vansen asked with raised eyebrow.
Tilleran moved her mouth but no words came out.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Now fire the concussion phaser blasts.”
Tilleran glared at Vansen, then glanced over her shoulder at Keefler. “Ensign Keefler, fire at the prearranged coordinates.”
“Got any chocolate?”
“I said fire!” Tilleran cried, pounding her console.
Vansen bit her fingernail worriedly as she watched orange blasts rain down around the blue sphere. Lt. Commander Hartley and her people had done a good job clearing out the area around the Daldan Science Ministry, especially considering the Daldans were embroiled in some kind of civil war. Hartley had suggested, in unflattering tones, that the Daldans fight somewhere else for a while. Vansen would have to study her more closely.
“The building’s foundation has been loosened from the sedimentary rock below,” Tilleran reported.
“Lock on tractorbeam and begin reeling in,” Vansen said, backing up into the command chair. She crossed her legs. “Full reverse on all thrusters, Mister Madera.”
“It’s annoying me too,” Madera muttered as she pulled back on the Explorer’s controls.
“Take it up with someone who cares.”
“Do you feel that?” Wiry 10-year-old Richards asked portly 10- year-old Baxter.
“Shut up. I’m not talking to you.” Baxter turned away from Richards.
“The building is shaking. It feels like it’s being ripped free of its foundation or something.”
“Good for the building.” Baxter stared out the window. His eyes widened as he looked beyond the blue sparkling wall of energy to see the windows of the buildings across the street fly past as they rose up through the air. “Gosh, you’re right, Chris!”
“That’s what I was trying to tell you.”
“I’m still not talking to you.”
“Because you took the comfy seat even though I told you I had dibs.”
“This is the same exact seat as yours.”
“Then you shouldn’t care if we switch seats.”
Richards watched the scenery outside be replaced with open sky as the building levitated right off the ground. “Is that really so important when this whole building just became airborne?”
“You’re just trying to distract me.” Now they could see the treetops.
“Why would I do that?”
Baxter folded his arms. “Why indeed?”
“You are so petty!”
Suddenly the door to the coat closet burst open, and a diminutive, nine year old J’hana hefted an unconscious Gallath out and tossed him onto the couch next to Baxter.
“I am finished with this plaything. I want more playthings.”
“You stay away from me!” Baxter cried. “We hate girls!”
“Yeah…girls are stupid!” Richards agreed.
“I will destroy you,” J’hana seethed, lifting Richards up over her head with amazing strength. She howled in triumph and Baxter shivered to see she had fangs.
The building jolted sending both J’hana and Richards flopping to the ground.
“Hee hee,” Baxter giggled. “You guys fell down.”
That’s when the clouds outside began to give way to space, and Baxter felt a true sense of fear.
He had spent a lot of time in space, but this time didn’t seem quite as fun as some of the others.
“Steady as she goes, Mister Madera, steady as she goes…” Vansen ordered, resting a hand on Madera’s seat.
Hartley dashed onto the bridge, joining Tilleran at her station. “Can I just note for the record that this is the single stupidist idea anyone on this ship has ever had?”
“I find that hard to believe,” Vansen said dryly. “Start up your subspace field, you two.”
“We’re going to have to bleed power off the warp engines. It could get dicey down in engineering. I better get down there.”
“Isn’t that where you just came from?” asked Vansen.
“No, I was just in the bathroom, if you really must know.”
“Fascinating. Get your ass down to engineering.”
Hartley opened her mouth to say something unkind, but thought better of it. “We’ll continue this at a later date.”
“You can count on it,” said Vansen as Hartley left.
“Subspace field initiated,” Tilleran said. “I’m having a little trouble with the geometry.”
“Boost power off the warp engines.”
Tilleran tapped at her controls. “Slowly bleeding off power from the warp engines.”
“Can you speed that up any?”
“Not if you don’t want a core breach.”
“Well, I don’t. Just get that subspace field stable. And overlay a graphic of what you’re doing. I hate that you can’t see subspace fields.”
“Sure, since you asked nicely,” Tilleran said, tapping a control that overlaid an image of oscillating, interlocking circles surrounding the blue sphere that held an out-of-place looking grey stone building, which was held by the Explorer’s tractor beam, hanging weirdly in space.
“Somebody take a holopic of this,” Lieutenant Madera said. “You’re not going to see it again anytime soon.”
“Jeeze, I’m glad I’m not on that buildling,” Lieutenant Sefelt muttered and resumed staring at his blank station. With Tilleran monopolizing the science angle, there just really wasn’t much to the ops job.
Richards looked up from the tangle of arms and legs that was he and J’hana as the building began vibrating…differently then the shaking when it took off into space.
“I know that vibrating!” Richards cried.
“Is it the vibration of your sucky personality?” Baxter probed.
“You’re real funny, fatty,” Richards chuckled. “No, it’s not my personality, it’s a subspace field!”
“You can feel that?” J’hana cried, digging her fangs into Richards’s arm. “Can you feel THAT?”
Richards slapped J’hana’s face away. “Quitit Quititquititquitit!”
“So what does that mean? Subspace field?” Baxter asked, scratching his head.
“It means the ship is trying to save us!” Richards cried joyfully.
“Good for them!” J’hana said and resumed gnawing on Richards’s arm.
Then the blue light outside flickered green and purple, and Richards, J’hana, and Baxter felt an odd, queasy feeling.
And, before they knew it, they were infants. J’hana warbled a growl and shoved her stubby fingers into Richards’s eyes.
Baxter, for his part, cooed and rolled off the chair, slamming into the floor.
“Something’s gone wrong!” Tilleran said, staring perplexed at the viewscreen.
“The orb changed color, so I figured as much!” Vansen replied, rushing over to Tilleran’s station, leaning over it. “But WHAT went wrong?”
“The chroniton field started collapsing in on itself.”
“I don’t know, but whatever was happening in there probably just got worse.”
Vansen rolled her eyes. “I can only imagine.” She slapped her combadge. “Commander Hartley, are you down in Engineering yet, or did you stop by the ladies’ room again?”
“Yeah, I’m down here, but it’s not pretty. The warp core is just about maxed out with this field. The ship is built to generate a specific size and shape of subspace field, and when you start messing with it, you cause big, BIG problems!”
“I’m SO interested!” Vansen deadpanned. “Now, if you don’t mind, I need you to divert more power to…to…” She glanced at Tilleran.
“To reverse the compression effects on the chroniton shell.”
“What she said!” Vansen said exasperatedly and fell into her chair.
“So, not an expert on everything, huh Mister Vansen?” Tilleran asked playfully as Vansen shot her an extremely dirty look.
Meanwhile, aboard the spaceborne Daldan building, the hallways echoed with the panicked cries of over a hundred babies with no one to look after them.
In the waiting room, Baxter crawled over and rammed his head into Richards’s. J’hana rammed into Baxter and they all ended up laying on their backs, waving their stubby little arms and legs and wailing like…well, babies.
“The compression effects on the chroniton shell are reversing! It’s expanding again and reducing in intensity!” Tilleran called over the comm system in engineering, while Lt. Commander Hartley sighed up at the churning warp engine.
“That’s wonderful, Ariel, but meanwhile, down here, we have MAJOR issues! If you don’t disperse that chroniton field and NOW we are going to be nothing but an expanding shockwave!”
“I need fifteen more more minutes.”
Hartley winced as a column burst open near the warp core and coolant blasted out.
“Damn it! We just ruptured a coolant tank. Everybody out of here!” Hartley whistled loudly, waving staff out of the engine room as she tapped a sequence to shut off that compartment as panels exploded around her, systems overloading and exploding one by one. “I’m going to set the core to auto-shutdown in ten minutes. That’s all I can give you, Ariel!”
“Mister Richards was a lot more reassuring when he evacuated engineering,” Ensign Margolies muttered dejectedly as Hartley shoved him out into the corridor outside.
“Well, I’m not Richards,” Hartley muttered. “I thought you could tell that by the breasts and the attitude problem. Now get the hell out of here.”
“I was just splashed by coolant! Ahhhrrg!” a voice came from behind the warp core.
“Come on, Bates, you sissy, get moving and get out of there!” Hartley shouted. “Margolies, go get him.”
“But you just said for me to–”
“I know what I just said. I take it back. Go back in there and get Bates.” Hartley pointed to two of her other staffers. “Samuels, Lexxin, you too follow me to Aux Control. We’re going to have to monitor the core from there. Hartley to bridge. Commander Vansen, we’re now one engine room short. Hope you’re happy!”
“Is she always so abrasive?” Vansen asked.
“You’re one to talk,” muttered Tilleran.
Vansen glared at the viewscreen. “Shut up and manipulate subspace.”
“You make it sound SO easy,” Tilleran snapped.
Vansen looked to Tilleran. “You’re going to have much thicker skin if you’re going to take orders from me.”
“Who said I plan on doing that?” Tilleran mumbled as she tapped controls.
“What was that?”
“Hartley to Bridge. The warp core is about to boil over. I suggest you send out any last messages to loved ones.”
“Or, here’s an even better suggestion, Commander,” Vansen said, her patience wearing extremely thin. “How about you do your job and keep us all from dying?”
“Easier said than done, bitch!”
“I’m sorry, what did you just call me?”
“Excuse me–” Tilleran broke in.
Vansen held up a finger. “Wait one minute. What did you call me, Commander Hartley?”
“I think you heard me, you tall, frosty glass of BITCH!”
Vansen stood up. “That’s it. I’m going down there.”
“COMMANDER!” Tilleran shouted.
“I dissipated the chroniton shell. Bad news is, with all power about to wink out in…oh, five minutes…we have to beam everyone off that building before our shields drop and the whole thing is vented to space.”
“Understood,” Vansen said, her veneer of calm back again. She stared at the ceiling. “Bridge to Transporter Room Two.”
“Ensign Morgan here. What can I do for you, hon?”
“You can cut the anachronistic slang, for one thing, you inbred yokel,” muttered Vansen. “Second, I’ve got over a hundred people off our starboard bow you need to transport to the ship in five minutes.”
“Mm, that’s a tall order, but I’ll get it done for you, I guarantee!”
“Shut up and start beaming, then.”
“Diverting leftover energy sources to all transporters, including emergency and cargo, and the transporters on the Escort and runabouts,” Tilleran said, her hands dashing across the science console. “Lieutenant Sefelt, I could use your help allocating ship’s resources.”
Sefelt glanced back meekly. “Hmm? What?”
“Isn’t that what an Operations Manager does?”
“Yeah. I guess so. What do you want me to do again?”
“Nevermind,” Tilleran muttered, scrambling her hands over the science console. “Fifty percent of the building’s occupants are beamed out.”
“Two minutes from total power loss,” Sefelt commented.
“Just a little more time,” Vansen said, gripping the arms of the command chair. “Come on, come on…”
The next two minutes stretched like an eternity. Finally…
“We got them all!” Tilleran announced excitedly.
And then all the power went out.
Supplemental. After returning some extremely agitated scientists to Dalda Two, we have met with them on proper research procedures, delivered a report on their progress which includes some extremely, extremely poor marks, and set a course to head back to the Dominion Outpost from whence we came for an old fashioned engine room overhaul.
Luckily, our away team and the other Daldans survived without any ill effects, save for a nasty civil war which shows no signs of getting better anytime soon.
The reversal of the chroniton whats-it returned us all to our proper ages…and, in the case of Weyoun, turned his goop back into a Weyoun, thankfully. I’d hate to have to go back to headquarters and ask for a new Vorta after just one mission.
At any rate, it’s nice to know the ship can survive without me on two consecutive missions. Makes me wonder why the heck I even stick around. Oh yes, that’s right, because, all in all, this is a really cushy job.
Oh, yeah, and when we were beamed aboard, Chris and I stumbled, in the dark, upon my wife and former CMO Janice Browning, who both asked me to state for the record that Second Officer Vansen is a first-rate bitch.
Their words, not mine!
“Was that last bit really necessary?” Commander Vansen asked as she, Richards and Baxter sat in the readyroom.
Baxter carried a steaming cup of orange pekoe tea to his desk and sat down. “My logs have got to be thorough.”
“Janice thought it was necessary,” added Richards. “You were totally out of line with her.”
“Well, let’s just call me even with her,” Vansen muttered, then looked to Baxter. “As for your wife, well…I’ve just begun with her.”
“You might settle up with Lieutenant Commander Hartley first,” Baxter suggested, studying a padd. “She has many unfriendly things to say about you.”
“What a surprise,” Vansen sighed, looming over Baxter as Richards leaned back on his couch, looking visibly drained.
“Listen, Commander,” Baxter said tiredly. “You’re not going to win many battles if you try to take my entire crew on at once.”
“That’s why I plan on neutralizing them one at a time,” Vansen said dully.
“Why?” Richards asked, burying his head under a pillow.
“Because it is my mission in life to make this ship function normally.”
Baxter giggled, dribbling some tea down the front of his uniform. He grabbed a napkin and patted it. “That, Commander, is about the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“We’ll see who gets the last laugh, Captain,” Vansen said, and strolled out of the readyroom.
“Never a dull moment, huh Captain?” Richards said from the couch.
“Tell me about it,” Baxter said.
“Do you remember much about your…early years?”
“You mean the ones I experienced today?”
“No, actually. I think I spent a lot of time arguing with you. Sorry about that.”
“Hey, no problem. Do you remember biting me?”
“I think that was J’hana.”
“I’m going to have to take that up with her.”
Baxter nodded. “Better you than me.” They both chuckled at that, and there was a bleep at the door.
“Come,” Baxter said, ready for round two with Vansen. Instead, it was Ambassador Weyoun.
“Nice to see you up and around again,” Baxter said, standing to shake the short Weyoun’s hand.
Weyoun bowed respectfully. “I will say this: It was an extremely disconcerting state of affairs, reverting to my component genetic material.”
“I can imagine.”
“You handled the Daldans well, Captain,” Weyoun said. “I only hope the other planets we visit don’t involve such…difficulty.”
“It’s all old hat to us,” Richards piped up.
Weyoun glanced down at Richards. “Old…hat?”
“Yeah,” Baxter said. “The Explorer’s run into her share of weirdness.”
“In that case, I look forward to enjoying that with you,” Weyoun said, and backed toward the door.
“Care to have a seat? I’ll make you some tea…” Baxter offered.
“No taste buds,” Weyoun said, and backed out of the readyroom.
“We’re going to have to find him a social life,” Baxter observed, once again alone with Richards.
“You might want to find us one, first,” suggested Richards.
“Peterman to Baxter. You have an appointment to talk to my tummy, mister. Did you forget about it?”
“If you’ll excuse me, Chris, I’ve got a tummy to talk to,” Baxter said, scooting out of his chair and heading for the door. “You might want to go out and take command of the bridge, you know…eventually.”
Richards grinned. “You sure you don’t mind if I take your seat?”
“Oh, grow up.”
When the crew tries to get rid of some hazardous goo, they get more than they bargained for in the form of a blob with a personality and a hostile alien race who maneuvers through space by means of trees. Resurrecting a proud Vexed Generation tradition, Dan McNickle is back to make us chuckle and go “huh?” That’s “The Trouble with Sadists.”