Star Trek is the property of CBS, Paramount Pictures, Viacom, etc. Star Traks: Waystation belongs to me and is filmed before a live studio audience.

Author: Alan Decker
Copyright: 1996

Star Traks: Waystation

Send the Marines

by Alan Decker

“Station Log. Stardate 50277.4 Close to a month has passed since I first took command of Waystation. So far things have been…boring. That’s about the only word for it. After our initial run-in with the Multeks and the Romulans, no one has even attempted to fly by us too closely, much less attack. And other than a few small internal incidents, things have been very quiet.

This quiet, however, has been good for the station. Several businesses have joined Bradley Dillon’s Pioneer Supply Depot in Starfleet Square Mall. Actually, the Andorian restaurant is quite good. It’s reminding me of my days at the academy with my Andorian roommate.

Most importantly, though, three colony ships left Waystation two days ago on a course for Juraan Two, an M-class planet recently discovered by one of our runabouts. Now that a Federation presence is becoming more firmly established in this sector, Starfleet Command informs me that the rest of the promised battalion of Federation marines is on its way. Joy.”

Commander Lisa Beck sat in the food court of Starfleet Square Mall enjoying the last bit of a slice of Andorian spice cake while she filled out another form in Starfleet’s seemingly never-ending supply of required paperwork. Captain Rydell had never told her how much crap was involved in being in command. She found herself almost wishing that someone would attack the station to keep her mind off of the drudgery. Around her, alien species from all of the Federation ate and laughed, enjoying their time on the station.

Beck couldn’t help but smile. Less than a month ago, this place was a ghost-ship, but now beings were everywhere. It wasn’t enough to make all of the paperwork worth it, but it helped. A figure walked up to her table, casting its shadow over her padd.

“Mind if I sit down?” Colonel Martin Lazlo’s voice asked, sounding way too happy. Beck looked up slowly at the Federation marine. She and Lazlo hadn’t exactly gotten along since he and three of his marines arrived in the midst of the Multek attack of a month ago. Actually, Lazlo had almost managed to start a war between the Federation and the Multeks by attempting to kill the captain of the Multek ship. Beck had informed Lazlo that while he was on Waystation, he was to follow her orders. Since then, an uneasy truce had been reached, but it generally consisted of staying out of each others way. And on no circumstances did they sit together and have a conversation.

“You sound like you’re in a good mood,” Beck said, gesturing Lazlo to sit in the chair across from her.

“It’s a beautiful day. Why shouldn’t I be in a good mood?” Lazlo replied smiling, the black mass of hair that he called a mustache spreading across his face.

“It looks the same here everyday,” Beck said flatly. “What do you want?”

“Nothing from you, Commander. My wishes have already been granted. In twenty-four hours, there’ll be fifty marines here.”

“Yes, but that changes nothing,” Beck said, sensing Lazlo’s challenge to her authority. “This is still a Starfleet installation, and you and your marines will obey my orders.”

“Surely you can see that things are not going to work that way. You have seventy crewmen, and I’m going to have a total of fifty-three. I think a more equitable sharing of power is going to have to be arranged.”

“The only thing that’s going to have to be arranged, Lazlo, is your funeral if you and your thugs try anything. This is my station!” As Beck raised her voice, other patrons began stopping their conversations and listening to hers.

“This is no time to be possessive, Beck. This place is right next door to a hostile empire. You and your Starfleet hippies should never have been put in charge in the first place!” Lazlo slammed his fists down on the table and jumped up out of his chair.

Beck stood up to face him.

“But I am in charge,” Beck said. “And while you are on my station, you will do what I say. Dismissed, Colonel!”

“Mark my words, Beck. My marines and I will not stay under the command of some Starfleet peace-nik!”

“Then you had better start making some alternative living arrangements, pal, because while you’re on Waystation, you’re going to have to obey me!” Beck scooped up her padd and stormed away from the table leaving Lazlo alone and fuming. A young Rangite waddled over on his thick legs.

“Excuse me, sir,” the Rangite said softly.

“What?” Lazlo snapped. The Rangite pointed at what remained of Beck’s spice cake.

“Do you think she was going to finish that?”

Lazlo glared at the youth, then marched away angrily. The Rangite smiled and sat down to finish the cake.

Commander Beck stepped out of the turbolift into operations. Things, as usual, were quiet except for the soft beeping of computer systems and sensors. Outside, stars slowly passed by as operations rotated slowly at the top of Waystation’s upper saucer.

Beck headed right toward her office. Lieutenant Craig Porter and Lieutenant Sean Russell looked up from the conversation they were having by Porter’s science console.

“So, Commander, I heard there was a bit of entertainment down in the mall just now,” Porter said.

“Yeah, and I have a feeling there may be a repeat performance tomorrow,” Beck said just before heading into her office.

“Lazlo to ops,” the comm system barked suddenly.

“Ops. Lieutenant Porter here,” Porter replied.

“Just the man I wanted to talk to. I want to see you in my office when you finish your shift. Lazlo out.”

“Can he do that?” Russell, Waystation’s chief of security, asked.

“What? Order me around like one of his troops? I don’t think so,” Porter replied.

“I wonder what he wants,” Russell said.

“Me too. I bet Commander Beck would like to know, too.” Porter walked over to Beck’s office.

“Somehow this sounds like an internal security matter,” Russell said, walking over to join him. Porter pressed the door chime outside of Beck’s door.

“Come in,” Beck called from inside. Porter and Russell stepped in. Beck was sitting at her desk staring blankly at a padd. Off against the left wall of the room, next to a small sofa, stood a model of the Secondprize. Paintings of woodland scenes from Earth hung on the wall above the model. Against the other wall, beside a door leading to the office’s bathroom, sat an abstract sculpture that no one had quite figured out. Beck picked it up during a shore leave on Hygansil two years earlier.

“Commander, there appears to be a situation developing on the station,” Russell said. Beck snapped her head up alertly.

“What situation?” she demanded.

“The situation between you and Colonel Lazlo,” Porter said.

“Oh, I hoped it would be something interesting,” Beck said, sliding down in her chair. “That’s not a situation. Lazlo is just an annoying worm.”

“That may be, but worm-boy wants me in his office when I finish my shift,” Porter said.

“He what? What does he want?”

“We don’t know,” Russell said. “But we thought you should be informed.”


“Well?” Porter asked expectantly.

“Well what?” Beck said.

“Should I go?”

“Definitely. I expect a full report as soon as you finish though.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Porter said. He and Russell left Beck alone to think. What was Lazlo up to?

Lieutenant Porter stepped out of the turbolift onto deck nine, the deck set aside for the marines’ equipment, training facilities, and briefing rooms. Colonel Lazlo’s office was also on this deck. Porter approached the office and stepped inside the reception area where Sergeant Rick Kyle, Lazlo’s executive assistant, was sitting at his desk fiddling with his computer console.

“I’m here to see the colonel,” Porter said. Kyle pointed toward Lazlo’s door without even looking up from his computer. Porter took this as a sign to head on in.

Lazlo was running around his office dribbling a small basketball. He suddenly stopped and tossed the ball toward a small hoop attached to the right wall of his office. The ball circled the rim a few times, then fell through the hoop. Lazlo raised his arms up in the air and imitated the noise of a roaring crowd.

“And Lazlo wins the game at the buzzer,” Porter said from the door.

“Exactly,” Lazlo said smiling as he walked over to Porter.

The two men shook hands, then Lazlo motioned for Porter to take a seat.

“Basketball is a game of precision and aim,” Lazlo said as he took a seat in the large, brown fake-leather chair behind his desk. “Offense and defense on the run. A true game of action.”

“I like hopscotch myself,” Porter said smiling. Lazlo stared at Porter, then laughed as he realized Porter was kidding.

“A sense a humor. I like that. Now then, Lieutenant, let’s get down to business. I need your help.”

“My help?” Porter said. “What for?”

“You’ve been on the scouting missions over the last month. And, as science officer, you’ve had access to all of the data collected from those missions. Correct?”

“Well, yeah…”

“Good. I want you to find me a planet.”

“A planet.” Porter said slowly.

“Yes. Not a big one. Just a little M-class world fairly close to the station.”

“Can I ask what for?”


“I see.”

“I know this is a strange request,” Lazlo said, standing up. He walked around his desk and sat down on the edge of it in front of Porter. “But I do need this information, and I have a feeling that Commander Beck won’t give it to me.”

“Why wouldn’t she…”

“Just to spite me!” Lazlo exclaimed, growing angry.

“Oh.” Porter got out of his chair quickly and backed toward the door. “Tell you what. I’ll check things out and get back to you tomorrow.”

“That will be fine,” Lazlo said. “Come to Hangar Two at fourteen hundred hours.”

“Got it.” Porter said. He walked out of the office.

“Is he still in a snit about Commander Beck?” Kyle asked. The man still didn’t look up from his computer.

“You could say that,” Porter replied.

“I’ve been trying to get him to calm down. Pick up a hobby. Something. He’s so…military.”

“Yeah. Funny thing about that.”

“You know what I do to relax?” Kyle asked, finally looking at Porter.

“Not a clue,” Porter said.

“I build models. Right now, I’m working on a scale model of the Great Hall on Qo’noS. After that, I’m planning to build a complete replica of the ruins of Galnor Twelve.”

“Ambitious,” Porter said. “Well, I’ve really got to go. I think I hear the power core calling me.” Porter rushed out of the office, anxious to get away from there.

“Hmmm. Must be an engineer thing,” Kyle said, returning to his computer.

“A planet? Why does he want a planet?” Commander Beck said thoughtfully as she sat down at her desk.

“He didn’t say,” Porter said. He and Lieutenant Russell had returned to her office as soon as Porter left Lazlo’s office.

“He could just be looking for a place to stage war games,” Russell suggested. “Marines do that type of thing, you know.”

“That is a possibility,” Beck said. “But I have a feeling that something more is going on here. You said you’re going to meet him in Hangar Two tomorrow?”

“Yes,” Porter replied.

“I may be dropping by as well. Until then, find him the planet he’s looking for. Preferably one we didn’t actually land on to check out.”

“Why?” Russell asked.

“The more surprises for Lazlo and his buddies, the better.”

“You are an evil woman,” Porter said. “I like that.”

“Thank you,” Beck replied smiling.

Promptly at fourteen hundred hours the next day, Lieutenant Porter strolled into Hangar Two. Colonel Lazlo was already there with Sergeant Kyle and the other two marines who had constituted the advance team sent to Waystation. On the far side of the hangar sat the runabout they had arrived in still bearing a few scorch marks from the Romulan disrupter fire it sustained when it arrived during the attack on Waystation a month earlier.

“Porter, great! You’re just in time,” Lazlo said walking over to him.

“Commander, we’ve got a ship on long range sensors approaching at warp seven,” Lieutenant Russell reported from his position at the tactical console.

“This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for,” Beck said softly as she stepped down into the command area in front of Waystation’s huge viewscreen. “Hail them.”

“Aye.” Russell pressed a few buttons on his console. “They’re responding.”

“On screen,” Beck ordered. The image of a young woman in the blue uniform of the Federation Marine Corps appeared. Beck smiled.

This might not be such a bad thing after all. “This is Commander Lisa Beck of Waystation. Please identify yourself.” Beck felt stupid going through the formalities. She knew damn well who the woman commanding that ship was. They’d only known each other for twenty-five of the thirty-two years she’d been alive.

“This is Major Stephanie Hodges of the Federation Marine Corps Seventy-Ninth Battalion requesting docking clearance,” the woman said, a huge smile spreading across her face as she saw her old friend.

“Only if you know the password,” Beck said.

“Lisa! It’s been twenty years since we used…”

“Password!” Beck demanded, trying very hard to keep from laughing.

“All right. All right. French kiss.” Hodges cheeks were starting to turn red.

“Thank you, Steph,” Beck said. “You can dock in Hangar Two. I’ll be down there to meet you. Waystation out.”

“I take it you two know each other,” Russell said.

“What clued you in, Sherlock?” Beck asked as she headed for the turbolift.

“Hey, I was just making conversation,” Russell said defensively.

“Try again later,” Beck said, stepping into the turbolift. “You have ops.”

Beck spent the trip down to deck ten lost in thought. She hadn’t seen Stephanie Hodges since Beck graduated from Starfleet Academy six years ago. Beck knew that Steph had planned on going into some type of service, but she had no idea that Steph was talking about the marines. Now, she was not only a marine, but an officer. At least her being here would make the marine’s presence more palatable.

Porter stood beside Lazlo as they watched the large hangar door slowly retract into the ceiling revealing the starry blackness of space beyond. A ship passed by the station and turned to make its docking approach.

The craft was shaped like a large green box with two wings extending out from the top of the box and two nacelles stuck to the bottom of it. In the middle of the front of the box, almost like it had just been glued there, sat a two person cockpit module.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” Lazlo said in awe.

“No,” a voice said from behind them. Porter and Lazlo whirled around and saw Commander Beck standing behind them.

“Commander Beck. I didn’t hear you come in,” Lazlo said, trying to cover how badly she’d startled him.

“Way to use those keen marine senses,” Beck said.

“Anyway,” Lazlo continued, ignoring Beck’s comment. “That drop ship can carry up to seventy marines into the heat of battle.

She’s got armor plating, highly advanced shields, tri-cobalt devices, quantum torpedoes, and enough phaser banks to fry a whole damn fleet of Multeks. On top of that, there are two, two-person assault sleds stored inside the ship that can be launched at a moment’s notice.”

“Spiffy,” Beck said, unimpressed.

“You’re just upset because you can no longer control us,” Lazlo said. “The marines on the Mongoose have radically changed the balance of power on Waystation.”

Porter started chuckling quietly to himself while Beck let out a loud laugh.

“The Mongoose?” Beck said.

“Yeah. So?”

“Just checking,” Beck said. She started laughing again.

“Hey! The mongoose is a highly skilled killer!” Lazlo said. “Snakes quake with fear at their approach. In its lifetime, a mongoose can kill over…”

“Your ship’s landed,” Beck said, cutting him off. The Mongoose had set down in the hangar, and the hangar door was closing. Lazlo glared at Beck, then marched over to his ship. A few moments later, hatches on either side of the Mongoose opened, and marines began streaming out into the hangar. Major Hodges and her co-pilot were the last to leave. They fell in line with the other marines who were standing at attention in front of the Mongoose. Once all fifty were assembled, one of the marines stepped over to Colonel Lazlo.

“The Seventy-Ninth Battalion reporting as ordered, sir,” the marine said, saluting so stiffly that Beck started wondering if he was part robot or something.

“It’s good to see you, Lieutenant Colonel O’Neal,” Lazlo said. “Fall in.” O’Neal quickly rejoined the assembled battalion.

Lazlo began pacing up and down the deck in front of his troops.

“Marines, welcome to Waystation. You have been sent here as the first and last line of defense of the Federation colonies in this sector. At the first sign of trouble, we will go in and eliminate it. Is that understood?”

“YES, SIR!” the entire battalion shouted in reply. Beck was disturbed to see that even Steph Hodges was shouting.

“Very good. Now then, Sergeant Kyle has your room assignments. Get settled in. Maneuvers start at oh-five hundred tomorrow morning. Dismissed!”

“Hold on a second!” Beck said loudly before the marines had a chance to disperse. “Before you go, I wanted to introduce myself.

My name is Commander Lisa Beck. I am in charge of Waystation, which makes me your commanding officer while you’re on board. This is your home now and I hope you’ll be comfortable, but I want you to remember that this is also a Starfleet station and a stopping point for hundreds of civilian ships. Feel free to enjoy the facilities and to come see me if you have any problems. And, in the event that any of you should be involved in any unpleasantness on board, you will be disciplined by both Colonel Lazlo and myself. Is that understood?”

“YES, MA’AM!” the marines shouted equally loud as they had in responding to Lazlo a few moments earlier.

“Good,” Beck said smiling. “Welcome to Waystation. Dismissed.” The marines quickly broke from their line and headed toward Sergeant Kyle. Lazlo stormed over to Beck angrily.

“What the hell was that?” he demanded.

“That was a welcome aboard speech,” Beck said. “One that you should have given yourself, Colonel.”

“I will give my troops the speeches I see fit to give them, Commander,” Lazlo said. Having received her room assignment, Major Hodges walked over to them. “See Beck, we marines deal with things in our own way. You Starfleet people could learn a lot from us. Like her, for instance.” Lazlo gestured toward Hodges. “This is Major Stephanie Hodges. She is the Mongoose’s pilot, and one of the best pilots I have ever seen. Hodges, this is Commander Beck.”

Beck and Hodges ignored Lazlo and hugged.

“Hodges, please! You just met,” Lazlo said.

“Steph, it’s been way too long,” Beck said. “Let’s get you settled in.” Beck and Hodges walked off toward the exit. Lazlo just glared after them, his fury growing by the second. This was not going the way he had planned. First, Beck takes over his meeting. Then, it turns out she’s old friends with his third-in- command.

“All personnel have been assigned, sir,” Lieutenant Colonel Daniel O’Neal said from behind Lazlo, startling him out of his thoughts.

“Fine. Dismissed.”

“Yes, sir,” O’Neal said. He turned and left quickly while Lazlo fumed about the day’s turn of events. He had the Mongoose, but Beck had established her position of power on the station. There was no way that he could continue to allow his command authority to be usurped by Starfleet. Some changes were in order.

Lazlo looked around and saw that Lieutenant Porter was over by the doors quickly making friends with five of the marines. Another bad sign. Porter wasn’t a bad guy, but he was still Starfleet.

“Lieutenant Porter,” Lazlo called. “Could you come over here for a second?”

“Sure,” Porter replied. “I’ll see you guys then,” he said to the marines.

Great, Lazlo thought, Porter was already setting up meeting times with his marines.

“What can I do for you?” Porter asked.

“About that planet I wanted…”

“Ridalis Four,” Porter said.


“Ridalis Four. It’s less than a light year from here. No civilizations. Mild forest climate. M-class. What more could you ask for?”

“A location maybe?”

“I’m way ahead of you. The complete info has already been sent to your computer.”

“Thank you for your help.”

“No problem. I hope it meets your needs,” Porter replied as he headed for the door.

“It just might,” Lazlo said.

“My God, Steph, how did you end up assigned to Lazlo?” Beck asked as she and Hodges sat in the food court enjoying some dinner.

“You’d have to talk to headquarters about that one,” Hodges replied. “I just go where they send me.”

“Lucky you. This isn’t exactly a vacation spot, you know.”

“Actually, I don’t. Nobody’s saying anything about this place.”


“Lisa, all we got was some coordinates. I’m serious. As far as the Federation’s telling people, Waystation is a nice, quiet stop on the way to unexplored space.”

“Well, it’s been quiet lately, but the neighbors can be really rowdy when they want to be,” Beck said.

“That’s why we’re here,” Hodges said, taking a sip of her coffee.

“This isn’t the same Stephanie Hodges who couldn’t even get up the nerve to go into her own basement until she was twelve.”

“The wonders of marine training,” Hodges said smiling.

“Or who wouldn’t ask Barry Jensen to homecoming our sophomore year.”

“That was a long time ago,” Hodges said. A smile crept across her face. “Besides, he smelled funny.”

“Oh, come on! You didn’t like the lovely scent of fresh potatoes.”

“Lisa! You haven’t changed a bit. I guess Starfleet really is soft on you people.”

“Don’t start that marine propaganda crap with me. I know what I’ve been through.”

“And what’s that?”

“Stuff. Probably nothing you heard about. I don’t think that the Secondprize got a lot of press.”

“Never heard of it,” Hodges said. “What’s a secondprize…besides the obvious.”

“It was the ship I was posted on before being transferred here. I was the communications officer.”

“Sounds pretty dull.”

“It had its moments. They left me in command a lot. I saved their asses a few times. I got promoted and sent here.”

“You’ll have to tell me all about it some time. But now on to important stuff. How’s the love life?”

“If you had seen the psychos I served with on the Secondprize, you wouldn’t be asking me that question,” Beck said.

Colonel Lazlo walked into Dillon’s Supply Depot wondering if it was such a good idea. The proprietor, Bradley Dillon, was busy with a couple of customers, so Lazlo started browsing. The necessary equipment was there, but… The customers left, and Bradley headed toward Lazlo.

“Colonel, what a delightful surprise,” Bradley Dillon said warmly, his red, evangelist cheeks glowing brightly as he smiled. “What can I do for you?”

“I’m interested in some camping gear.”

“Wonderful. You’ve come to the right place. Now, how much do you want to rough it?”

“What do you mean?” Lazlo asked, confused. “I’m just talking about a few tents, a camp stove, some rations and sleeping bags…”

“Nonsense. That’s camping in the dark ages. This is the twenty-fourth century, Colonel. Come with me.” Bradley led Lazlo over to a small holo-projector sitting at the end of the counter next to the credit register. Bradley hunted through a box of data chips, pulled one out, and plugged it into the projector. Instantly, the three-dimensional image of a grey building floated in front of him.

“This is the Kilasson Port-a-home 6000,” Bradley said softly, almost whispering into Lazlo’s right ear. “It is a solid structure that fits into a small briefcase. One touch of a button and…poof! You’ve got a home. Inside, there’s a working replicator, waste reclimator, lights, and it sleeps six comfortably. It’s water-tight, heated, air-conditioned, insulated, and rust-protected. This, my friend, is the top of the line in camping technology. It truly is your home away from home.”

“I’ll take ten of them,” Lazlo said quickly.

“Wonderful. You won’t be sorry,” Bradley said as he began to ring up the transaction.

Colonel Lazlo stepped out of Dillon’s Pioneer Supply Depot feeling better about his plan. They were marines, and it was about time they started acting like it. He started whistling “From the Halls of Montezuma” and walked down the wide, grey concourse of Starfleet Square Mall. For once, the garish light displays and signs advertising the various stores actually seemed attractive to him.

Suddenly, a small, hooded figure in a black robe stepped out in front of him from a candlelit alcove.

“You will regret this course of action,” the hooded figure said with light, female voice.

“What do you know about it?” Lazlo said.

“Enough,” she replied. The woman pulled the hood back from her head revealing elfish features; short black hair, small pointed ears; and eyes that were just orbs of silver reflecting Lazlo’s image. This woman, Leximas, had come to Waystation from the unexplored regions of space shortly before Lazlo’s arrival. She was a guru, a mystic, the type of person Lazlo had no time for.

This was the first time they had spoken.

“Well, I don’t need you or your crystal ball telling me how to command my troops, Lexi.”


“Whatever.” Lazlo pushed past her and started to walk down the concourse. Leximas’ hand clamped down on his shoulder with a vise-like grip, then whirled him around. Lazlo was stunned from shock at Leximas’ strength and from the pain in his shoulder.

“You are entering your worst nightmare, Martin Lazlo,” Leximas said.

“No, I’m leaving it,” Lazlo replied. “If you will excuse me…” Lazlo backed away. Leximas bowed her head slightly, then pulled the hood back over her head and re-entered her alcove.

Lazlo headed to the nearest turbolift and descended to his quarters. Leximas and Waystation be damned. He was in command of his troops, and nothing was going to stand in the way of that.

Lazlo marched into Hangar Two at precisely 0500 the next morning. His battalion had already assembled and were waiting for his orders. A swell of pride flowed through him. This was his command.

“Report, O’Neal,” he said.

“All personnel present and accounted for, sir,” O’Neal replied.

“Excellent. Well, marines. I hope you didn’t get too comfortable last night. You are to pack up your gear and meet back on the Mongoose in twenty minutes. Dismissed.”

No one said a word, but Lazlo could see the looks of surprise on his troops’ faces. No matter. They were marines, and they would follow him wherever he led.

He went over to Major Hodges before she had a chance to leave and handed her a data padd with the information Lieutenant Porter had supplied him with.

“Here you are, Major,” Lazlo said with a smile. “This is our destination. Have the Mongoose ready to go in twenty minutes.”

“Yes, sir,” Hodges said flatly. Lazlo was sure that Hodges was upset about being separated from her old friend Commander Beck again, but too bad. She was a marine. Friends were a luxury.

“Mongoose to ops,” the voice of Colonel Lazlo barked over the comm system.

“Ops, here. Lieutenant Commander Walter Morales speaking,” Waystation’s first officer replied. “What can I do for you?”

“Request clearance to depart.”

Morales checked his console and saw that all traffic was clear and nothing was approaching on the sensors.

“You’re all clear, Mongoose,” Morales said. “Have a nice trip.

When can we expect you back?”

“Never,” Lazlo said. He started laughing then cut off the comm channel.

“We should be so lucky,” Lieutenant Porter commented from the science and operations console.

“I don’t think Commander Beck is going to be very happy about this,” Morales said. “Those marines were supposed to be stationed here. Those were the orders.”

“Commander, remember when we were back on the Secondprize and Commander Dillon worried about every rule, regulation, and order.”


“Remember how many friends he had.”

“He had friends?”

“Exactly. If Colonel Lazlo wants to move his scout troop to another campsite, let him. I don’t think Commander Beck is going to get that upset about it.”

“This is another one of those commander’s prerogative things isn’t it?” Morales asked, once again wondering how the hell he ended up stuck in a command position and wishing that he was back working in the Secondprize’s shuttlebay.

“Something like that,” Porter replied.

Less than an hour later, the Mongoose touched down in a forest clearing on Ridalis Four.

“Everything checks out,” Hodges reported, checking her sensors. “M-class, breathable atmosphere. No indigenous life- forms bigger than a Saint Bernard. It looks good.”

“Perfect. O’Neal, get the troops off the ship and set up a base camp here.”

“Yes, sir!” O’Neal said, clearly excited to be setting foot on an alien world. He headed to the back to organize the marines.

“You don’t want to be here, do you?” Lazlo said when he and Hodges were alone.

“With all due respect, sir, no. And I do not understand why you have brought us here.”

“But see, that’s the lovely thing about being a marine. You don’t have to understand. You just have to shut up and follow orders. Is that understood, Major?”

“Yes, sir,” Hodges said. “Loud and clear.”

“Good. Finish shutting the Mongoose down and join us outside.” Lazlo walked out of the cockpit leaving Hodges alone.

“All right, marines, listen up!” Lazlo said as he strutted up and down the line of his assembled troops. “This is Ridalis Four, your new home and home base. We will use this as our training ground and launch point for any missions the Federation council sends us on. In the cargo bay of the Mongoose, you will find our gear. I want it set up on the double.”

The troops began heading for the rear of the Mongoose.

“Oh, before you go, I want you to know that the Mongoose is now off-limits. Since you are marines, I’m sure that none of you would try anything funny, like taking the ship, but, as a precautionary measure, I have locked the ship and only I know the code to get back in. I will go in regularly to check for communiques from headquarters, but other than that, no one will be inside the Mongoose. Now, get to work.”

Hodges headed to the small cargo hatch of the Mongoose feeling like maybe she should have entered Starfleet Academy instead. This was insane. Correction, Lazlo was insane.

As dusk fell, the marine base camp was fully in place. The ten port-a-homes had been set up along with a supply tent and security field. Two marines patrolled the perimeter, while the others settled into their new homes and tested out the replicators.

They quickly discovered that the only Earth food programmed in was borscht. Since, none of them were that fond of Russian beet stew, they moved on to more palatable selections from other worlds.

Unfortunately, there were no more palatable selections to be found. Vulcan dust soup, Andorian hujan liver, Lollax bile burgers.

Everyone was saved when Private Howarth remembered that he had a data chip with his mother’s lasagna recipe on it, however. Once the chip was installed and everyone had eaten some nice pasta, a somber silence fell across the group. How many meals in a row could they eat lasagna before they all went insane?

Night set in. The trees and the cloud cover surrounded the small camp in darkness. The only light was from a few portable lights in the center of the camp. All around was silent except for the slight rustling of leaves as a breeze blew through them.

Private Keith Copeland, a phaser in one hand and a tricorder in the other, continued his patrol rounds a bit nervously. He wasn’t used to being stationed in the wilderness. All of his training had been for urban operations. This was way out of his league.

Suddenly, the proximity detector on the tricorder went off. Copeland jumped, then calmed down and checked his scope. Several small creatures had just entered scanning range. There were at least a hundred of them, but they were all less that a foot long and four inches high. Night foragers probably looking for some bugs for dinner. They’d see the light, get curious, then run away when they hit the security field.

A few moments later, the creatures were still coming. In less than a minute, they’d be entering the clearing. Odd. They didn’t seem to be even slowing down to look for food along the way. Maybe, they were drawn to the light. He stood still to wait for them.

Seconds later, a small furry creature stepped out of the darkness into the light. It looked like a squirrel, but with six legs and deep blue eyes. It was adorable.

Copeland pulled out his ration snack bar, opened it, and threw it over the security field towards the creature. The creature looked at Copeland, then went over to the ration bar. It sniffed the ration bar, then picked it up to take a few bites. Adorable.

Several more of the creatures stepped into the light. They watched their companion nibble on the ration bar. When it had finished, the others started passing it around, each taking a few bites. This was almost too cute for words.

When the bar was gone, the creatures all turned to look at Copeland.

“Sorry, guys. That’s all I had,” Copeland said with a shrug.

The creatures started walking toward him. They hit the security field. It crackled to life, shocking them and sending them flying backwards. Copeland felt sorry for the pain the field had probably caused them.

The shocked creatures got up and started chattering wildly. The other creatures started chattering as well. Then, they all formed into a line parallel with the field and walked toward it. Just before they hit, their eyes began to glow.

The creatures stepped through the field like it wasn’t even there.

“What the…”

One of the creatures fixed its gaze on Copeland.

Its eyes turned from blue to red.

It pounced.

Across the camp, Private Oprelo Kintasa, an Epolsian, heard Copeland’s scream. As the only other marine on patrol, Kintasa’s duty was to investigate Copeland’s scream, something he desperately did not want to do. He activated his marine-standard, wrist communicator.

“Kintasa to Copeland. Are you all right? Copeland, please respond.”

Nothing. Kintasa raised his phaser and walked cautiously over to Copeland’s patrol area.

“Kintasa to O’Neal.”

“What?” the lieutenant colonel’s voice replied groggily.

“I’ve lost contact with Copeland. I’m checking it out now.”

Kintasa walked behind one of the port-a-homes and saw Copeland sitting against the side of the building. He was surrounded by a horde of small, furry creatures and smiling happily.

“Hi, Oprelo,” Copeland said, looking up at him. Copeland’s eyes were glowing with a deep blue. One of the creatures was on the back of his neck. Kintasa couldn’t tell from where he was standing, but it almost looked like the thing had its teeth buried in Copeland’s neck.

“Aren’t they the cutest thing you ever saw?” Copeland said, his voice dripping with sugary sweetness. “I just want to hug them all. Oooh, huggy wuggy!” He extended his arms and wrapped them around several of the creatures. He picked them up and squeezed them lovingly to his body.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Kintasa asked.

“Kintasa, report,” O’Neal’s voice demanded.

“Nothing’s wrong,” Copeland said. “I’m VERY happy.”

Suddenly, the creatures in Copeland’s arms turned their gaze on Kintasa. Their blue eyes changed to a bright red.

“Show him how cute you are,” Copeland said and opened his arms. The creatures pounced. Kintasa screamed and fired his phaser.

He missed.

One of the creatures landed on his shoulder. Kintasa grabbed it and threw it back at Copeland.

“Kintasa, what’s going on!” O’Neal shouted.

“We’re being attacked!” Kintasa screamed. “Help!”

Another creature landed on his neck. Kintasa wasn’t able to get his hands on it before four fangs dug painfully into the flesh at the back of his neck. He screamed in pain. Then fell silent.

Everything, suddenly seemed much better. It was a beautiful night, and he’d be gosh darned if these furry things weren’t the most dagburned adorable things he’d ever seen.

“O’Neal to Lazlo.”

Colonel Lazlo rolled over and tried to ignore it.

“O’Neal to Lazlo!”

Lazlo put a pillow over his head.


Lazlo dove over to his night stand and grabbed his communicator off of it.

“WHAT?” he shouted.

“Colonel, we’re under attack! Copeland and Kintasa are down.

I’m mobilizing the troops now!”

“My God! Is it the Multeks?”

“We don’t know.”

“Find out, damn it! I want whoever it is eliminated.”

“Yes, sir!”

Moments later, the entire battalion was in combat gear and racing out of their port-a-homes. There was no one to be seen.

“What is going on out here?” Lazlo demanded as he stormed out of his home. “I don’t see any attackers!”

“I can’t explain it, sir,” O’Neal said, rushing over to him. “Kintasa reported an attack.”

Just then, Kintasa and Copeland skipped happily into the main center of the camp.

“Hi, guys,” they said in unison and waived.

“Everyone is just so cute in their neat-o uniforms,” Kintasa said.

“Where the hell have you two been?” O’Neal said. He noticed a furry ball around the back of each of their necks. “And what’s with the furballs?”

“What furballs?” Kintasa and Copeland replied. The horde of creatures suddenly crawled up behind Kintasa and Copeland and sat at their feet.

“These furballs?” Copeland said, gesturing at the creatures around his feet. “Aren’t they just the cutest thing you ever saw?”

“Absolutely darling,” Kintasa added.

“Awwwwww,” both men exclaimed.

The creatures looked at the assembled marines with their deep blue eyes. The eyes turned to red. The creatures charged at the marines.

“Sh**!” Lazlo screamed. “Attack!”

Phaser blasts lanced toward the oncoming rush of creatures. A couple of beams hit, but the creatures just shook the effects off.

“Don’t use stun, you idiots!” Lazlo shouted. “You’re marines! Kill! Kill! Kill!”

As the marines quickly tried to re-adjust their phasers, the creatures pounced. Ten marines went down in the first wave. As the creatures dug into the backs of their necks, the marines sat down, pulled out their wallets, and started showing cute family pictures to each other.

“We’ve got to get out of here!” Hodges shouted, rushing over to Lazlo.

“We are not going to get chased off by a bunch of happy, mutant squirrels!” Lazlo said.

“They are cute,” Sergeant Kyle said from beside him. Hodges and Lazlo quickly pointed their phasers at Kyle. He didn’t have a creature on his neck. “What?” Kyle demanded.

“Go shoot something,” Lazlo said, disgusted.

“You know I don’t do that kind of thing. That’s why I’m your executive assistant.” It was clear that Kyle took great pride in the title.

O’Neal came running over to them, sweat pouring down his dirt- caked face.

“Sir, we’re getting trounced. I recommend a retreat,” O’Neal gasped.

“How many do we have left?” Hodges asked.

O’Neal looked around real quick.

“Four…including us.”

“You mean we’re it?” Lazlo shouted.

“Yes, sir.”

“Can we run now?” Hodges said.

“To the Mongoose,” Lazlo shouted, already running in the direction of the ship. The others followed.

The remaining creatures that had not already attached themselves to a marine locked their gaze on the retreating four marines. They charged.

The four marines reached the hatch of the Mongoose fast enough to put any of their speed records to shame. Lazlo quickly started punching numbers into the keypad by the hatch.

“Oh my God! They’re coming!” Kyle shouted, looking back over his shoulder at the charging horde.

“Come on, Colonel,” Hodges said.

“I’m trying! Punching in twenty numbers takes time.”

“Twenty numbers! Why the hell…”

“I didn’t want anyone to get in,” Lazlo snapped.

“They’re almost here!” Kyle said.

“Shoot them!” Lazlo shouted. O’Neal fired quick bursts into the charging mass. Once again, the creatures were not affected.

“Level eight isn’t working,” O’Neal said. “I’m trying level twelve.”

“Shut up and do it!” Lazlo said. O’Neal readjusted the setting on his phaser and fired again. A few of the creatures staggered back, but they kept coming.

“It didn’t work!”

Lazlo punched in the last digit causing the hatch to slide open. He climbed inside, followed by Hodges and O’Neal. The creatures were coming up fast, too fast for them to get Kyle inside in time.

“Hold them off, Kyle,” Lazlo said, kicking his executive assistant backwards. Kyle fell into the mass of creatures just as Lazlo closed the hatch, cutting them off from the attackers.

“I can’t believe you just did that!” Hodges shouted.

“Watch your tone, Major. You’re speaking to a superior officer,” Lazlo said. He charged toward the cockpit.

“What are we going to do, sir?” O’Neal said.

“We’re getting out of here.”

“We can’t just leave the others,” Hodges said. “We have to call for help.”

“Help?” Lazlo said, turning on her. “The nearest marines are light years away. It would take them days to get here.”

“Waystation can have a ship here in less than an hour,” Hodges said.

“Oh no! I am not calling Beck for help.”

The ship started rocking as the creatures swarmed over it. The three marines started hearing a scratching sound on the hull.

“What is that?” Hodges asked.

“I think they’re trying to get inside,” O’Neal said.

“Not for long,” Lazlo said. “We’re taking off. Let’s see if these bastards can survive in space.”

“Sir, I really think we should call Waystation,” O’Neal said.

“We need help.”

“I don’t think so,” Lazlo said. “Prepare for liftoff. That’s an order!”

“Yes, sir,” O’Neal said. Suddenly, he screamed in agony and fell to the floor. One of the creatures was on his back. Beyond O’Neal, at the rear of the Mongoose, Lazlo and Hodges could see a small patch of light where the creature had clawed through the hull and climbed inside. Two more were coming inside after it.

“Wow, this ship is cute!” O’Neal said as he stood back up, his eyes glowing with a deep blue.

“Sir, hull integrity has been compromised,” Hodges said, backing toward the cockpit.

“No kidding,” Lazlo said nervously. “Let’s go.” The two made a quick dash for the cockpit, closing the pressure door behind them. Hodges sat down at her console and activated a security field in front of the door.

“I’m modulating the shield frequency, so maybe they won’t get in as fast,” Hodges said.

“Good idea,” Lazlo said, sitting down at the co-pilot’s console. He hit a couple of buttons.

“What are you doing?”

“Calling for help.”

“Ops to Beck.”

Commander Beck stirred in her bed, hoping that she was just dreaming that someone was waking her up.

“Operations to Commander Beck.”

It wasn’t a dream.

“Beck here,” she said, sitting up and rubbing her eyes. “What is it?”

“We’re getting a distress call from Ridalis Two.”

“Ridalis Two? Isn’t that where the marines went?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I’m on my way.”

Beck stepped out of the turbolift into ops a few moments later. Lieutenant Lindsay Marcson, the officer in charge of the night watch, was standing over by the tactical console with Lieutenant Russell, who also looked like he’d just been rousted out of bed.

“What’s the story?” Beck said, walking over to them as he pulled the last few strands of her long red hair into a pony tail.

“We received a message from Colonel Lazlo ten minutes ago. He says they’re under attack,” Marcson reported.

“Let’s hear it,” Beck said.

“Mongoose to Waystation. Please help us. Creatures are attacking us. The whole battalion is gone. Hodges and I are the only ones left. They’re trying to get in. Please hurry.”

“Holy sh**,” Russell said.

“What kind of creatures?” Beck asked.

“He didn’t say,” Marcson said. “That’s the whole message.”

“Wake up Porter, Morales, and Dr. Nelson and have them meet you in Hangar One,” Beck said to Russell. “Take the Yadkin and the Cumberland. I want you guys off this station in less than ten minutes.”

“I’m on my way,” Russell said. He raced into the turbolift. Beck could hear him contacting Porter as the turbolift door closed.

“Hold on, Steph,” Beck said softly.

“The door seems to be holding,” Lazlo said.

“Yes,” Hodges replied. “For now.”

“Hodges, if we get out of this, I promise we will stay on Waystation. I mean, I really, really promise.”



“With all due respect, shut up.”

Russell and Porter ran toward the runabout Yadkin as Lieutenant Commander Morales and Dr. Amedon Nelson, Waystation’s chief medical officer, raced to the runabout Cumberland. The door of Hangar One was already opening. Seconds later, the two runabouts rose up off of the deck and flew out into space. Once clear of Waystation’s upper saucer, they jumped into warp, headed for Ridalis Four.

The door was gone. All that stood between the group of creatures assembled outside of the cockpit and Hodges and Lazlo was the modulating force field. The creatures’ red eyes glowed fiercely as they threw themselves time and time again at the force field.

Further back in the ship, they could see Lieutenant Colonel O’Neal playing with two of the creatures. They were dancing around together. Hodges wasn’t sure, but she thought O’Neal was singing “Ring Around the Rosie.”

“We’re approaching the Ridalis system now,” Porter said. “Now, the fun starts.” He dropped the runabout out of warp and headed toward Ridalis Four. The Cumberland was right behind him.

“I’ve found them,” Russell said, checking the sensors. “Numerous humanoid lifesigns and a lot of non-humanoids.”

“Assuming a geosynchronous orbit,” Porter said. “Porter to Cumberland.”

“Morales here.”

“This is your show, Commander. What do we do?”

“I’m reading three humanoids on the Mongoose,” Dr. Nelson’s voice broke in. “Two humans, and one that is very close to human, but with some anomalous readings.”

“Porter, see if you can get the two humans. I’m going to bring up the other one into a quarantined area. After that, we’ll figure out our next step.”

“Fair enough. Porter out.” He turned to Russell. “You heard the man. Beam them up.”

One of the creatures was halfway through the field. Somehow, it was squeezing its way through, but it was taking a lot of effort.

“I don’t want to go like this,” Lazlo said.

“None of us did,” Hodges said. Suddenly, O’Neal dematerialized in the wonderfully familiar blue sparkle of a Starfleet transporter beam.

“We’re saved!” Lazlo shouted. The creature finished pushing its way through. “I hope.” Then, he felt the comforting tingle of dematerialization. When the creature pounced, Lazlo and Hodges were no longer there.

“Welcome aboard,” Porter said, turning to Lazlo and Hodges.

“We’re delighted to be here,” Hodges said gratefully. “Where’s O’Neal?”

“O’Neal. Was he the other one on the Mongoose?” Russell asked.


“He’s on the Cumberland. They’re in orbit right next to us. We were getting some strange readings, so we put him in a quarantine field.”

“Good!” Lazlo said. “He’s possessed. They all are.”

“Possessed?” Porter asked.

“Nelson to Yadkin,” the doctor’s voice said over the comm system.

“Porter here. What’s up, Doc?”

“I hate it when you do that.”


“Anyway, there’s some type of creature attached to O’Neal’s neck. It seems to be altering his behavior, but he doesn’t seem dangerous. I want to get him back to the infirmary before I try anything though.”

“Understood,” Porter said. “What about the other marines?”

“Set up a quarantine field in your passenger area and beam them up. We’re going to grab twenty-five of them. You get the rest.”

“We’re on it. Porter out.”

“But my ship…” Lazlo said.

“It’s not going anywhere,” Porter said. “Just relax and let us take it from here.”

Lieutenant Colonel O’Neal lay on his stomach on one of the biobeds in the infirmary as Dr. Nelson scanned the creature attached to his neck. Satisfied with the information she had gathered, Nelson returned to her office where Commander Beck and Colonel Lazlo were waiting for her.

“Well, Doctor,” Lazlo said.

“It’s basically a symbiont,” Nelson said.

“Like what’s living inside you?” Beck asked.

“Not quite,” Nelson said. “This is more of a parasitic relationship. The creature feeds on negative emotions and expels positive ones.”

“What?” Lazlo said.

“Think of it like photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, a plant takes in carbon dioxide and expels oxygen. In this case, when the creatures attach themselves to a host, they take in anger and hatred and expel goodness and light.”

“Oh my God,” Lazlo said in disgust.

“While I appreciate goodness and light as much as the next person, these things have basically commandeered the minds of those marines,” Beck said. “Can we get rid of them?”

“Sure,” Nelson said. “We just have to overdose the marines on goodness and light.”

“How do you intend to do that?” Lazlo asked.

“We have our ways,” Nelson said smiling.

“Station Log. Stardate 50281.8. Well, it took thirty hours of nothing but cartoons and syrupy family films from an ancient Earth organization called Disney, but the creatures finally detached themselves and slipped into cuteness-induced comas.

Immediately upon being freed from the creatures influence, the marines started vomiting all over the recreation room where we were showing the films. Dr. Nelson isn’t sure if the vomiting was an after effect of the creatures control or if it was caused by the movies. I’m inclined to think it was from the movies.

Lieutenant Porter has returned the creatures to their homeworld and retrieved the Mongoose. Also, Colonel Lazlo has informed me that the marines will be remaining on Waystation. I think that his recent ordeal has mellowed Lazlo. I can only hope I’m right.

Meanwhile, now that Steph is remaining on the station, she and I get to engage in a ritual we haven’t performed since we were eighteen: a midnight coffee run.”

“Somehow, this just isn’t the same without Bernie’s coffee,” Stephanie Hodges said, looking around at the sterile gray concourse of Starfleet Square Mall.

“Is Bernie’s still open?” Beck asked.

“Last I heard it was.”

“I thought we were the only thing keeping that place in business. No one was ever in there.”

“No one was in there at midnight when we went. Most people went there earlier.”


Lieutenant Porter walked by carrying a small, force-field case. Inside was one of the creatures from Ridalis Four.

“Lieutenant,” Beck called. “What the hell is that doing on my station?”

“Stowaway,” Porter said. “I found it in the Mongoose after I docked. I was lucky to catch it before it bit me.”

“Is that the only one?”

“Yes, ma’am. I was just taking it to the infirmary to have it put in stasis until I can take it back tomorrow.”

“Go to bed, Craig. I’ll take care of it,” Beck said, a smile spreading across her face. Porter stepped over to Beck and Hodges table and set the force cage down.

“This is the part where I walk away and don’t ask any questions, isn’t it?” Porter said.

“That’s right,” Beck said. Porter made a hasty retreat. He felt sorry for whoever Beck was plotting against even though he had a pretty good idea who it was.

“What are you thinking, Lisa?” Hodges asked.

“Me? Nothing. Why would I be thinking something?”

“I’ve known you way too long to believe that. Come on. Spill it.”

“Well, I was just thinking that this creature might get awfully lonely having to spend the night alone. Surely, we can find someone to keep it company tonight.”

“You wouldn’t. What am I saying? You would.”

“Would you care to join me for a quick trip to the transporter room?”


Colonel Lazlo rolled over as he faintly heard the hum of a transporter. He was dreaming it, though. No one would be beaming anything anywhere near him. He very quickly fell back asleep.

Then, four little teeth dug into the back of his neck.

Lazlo screamed, then noticed how cute his pillowcases were.

Tags: Waystation