Viacom called. They wanted you to know that they own CBS, Paramount, and Star Trek. And some guy named Alan Decker also called ranting about owning Star Traks.

Author: Anthony Butler
Copyright: 1998



“While You Were Out”

By Anthony Butler

“Renovations” concept by Alan Decker and Anthony Butler

First Officer’s Log,

Stardate 51683.5. With Commander Beck away on vacation, I’ve been assigned the pleasurable task of making sure this string of cargo modules we so laughingly call a space station is functioning properly, in addition to overseeing construction of our new place of residence. As you might imagine, I’m enthused.

“Wow, Commander, I’ve never heard you that sarcastic,” Lt. Craig Porter said, peeking from behind the science/engineering/mission ops/frozen yogurt dispenser/etc. console. One of the power junctions had fried again and he was busily repairing the connections. “It’s definitely a change for the better.”

“Can it, Craig,” Morales muttered, turning toward the door to the cramped closet that served as the Commander’s office and ducking just before the bulkhead rammed into his forehead. Three months of practice had just about cured him of making that mistake.

Just as the doors cranked open to admit Morales, a chirp sounded from the tactical/security/muzak control/antigrav handball equipment rental station.

Lt. Sean Russell sighed, swiveling in his chair. He tossed a pile of protective gear to Ensign Stanton. “Get this down to the party at handball court eight, would you, Ensign?”

“Yes, sir.”

Another chirp. “Okay, already,” Russell said, snapping on the communications system.

Morales hovered by the door to the office. He didn’t bother going in; he was probably going to just be called back to Ops anyway.

“All right,” Russell replied. “I’ll let him know.” He turned toward Morales, shrinking back when he saw the look on the Commander’s face. “We just got word from the construction crew. Their lasagna wasn’t cheesy enough.”

“Oh, for Pete’s–”

“And they want a bigger menu selection. And they want the Andorian Brothers to do carryout.”

“Son of a–”

“AND they want the torpedo bay on the Exeter saucer to be converted into a dining room. They don’t like eating on the bridge anymore.”

Morales’ face grew increasingly red. “Tell them their requests were taken under advisement, then swiftly denied, Lieutenant.”

“Aye, sir,” Russell said, tapping the information into his panel and sending the message.

Porter hopped up into his chair and activated the new junction box. His panel flickered on, just in time for him to take note that the frozen yogurt dispenser in cargo module twelve had broken down. He grabbed his toolkit and rounded his station down to the lowered command area. “You know, Commander, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that our response to the construction crew’s demands isn’t exactly going to speed up their performance.”

“How can they go any slower?” Morales demanded. “They’re already three months behind. They should be nearly finished by now, and they’re less than halfway through!”

“They’re not Starfleet, Commander. We can’t expect them to be as efficient as we are.”

“Just because they’re not Starfleet doesn’t give them an excuse to make outrageous demands and work at the pace of a Tarkalian slug-beeetle!”

“Outrageous?” Porter said, shoving open the hatch that would take him through the maze of interlocking connecting tubes and cargo modules that was Waystation Village. “Have you ever tried to eat lasagna that wasn’t totally cheesy?”

“Get out of here, Porter,” Morales seethed.

“Keep working on that sarcasm, sir.”

Morales’ brow creased. “Please, Lieutenant, stay! We really enjoy your company!”

“Much better.”


Morales would have to talk to Lt. Porter about Waystation Village’s communications system. It had the longest, most annoying comm page he’d ever heard. Since the cargo modules were subcontracted from the Zenedron Construction Group, much like the Zenedron Construction Group itself, it was of the lowest possible quality.


“WHAT!” Morales slammed his hand blindly on the communications panel.

“It’s Russell, sir,” Sean Russell’s voice resounded throughout Morales’ petite quarters. “We’re having some trouble with the construction people.”

“What a shock. Do tell.”

“They just heard that you denied their requests, so they decided to stop working.”

“They just DECIDED to stop working?” Morales blared, rolling out of bed and pulling his boots on. “Of all the–we’re paying them!”

“Tell me something I don’t know, sir.”

“Well, we’re going over there. Get the Cumberland ready.”

“Technically, sir, I’m supposed to be on break.”

“Oh, don’t you start now, Sean!”

“Just a little levity, sir. On my way to the runabout bay.”

Still in his pajamas, save the boots, Morales tiptoed through the dark runabout bay, tapping the control to open the door to the USS Cumberland.

Light poured out of the cockpit; Russell was already inside doing the preflight.

“Close the door already,” a voice said.

Morales sighed, not looking back. “I’m sorry Yeoman Jones.”

“I’m trying to get some sleep, Commander. But how can I when technicians are always coming in at odd hours and working on the runabout?”

He glanced over his shoulder. Jones was curled up on a cot in a thermal sleeping bag, pillow smushed over her face. She’d been transferred to the runabout bay when a stray piece of space debris collided with her compartment and ventilated it to space. Luckily she wasn’t in there at the time, but her teddy bear was destroyed virtually beyond recognition.

“Sorry, Yeoman. Porter said you’d be out of here in a few days.”

“That’s what he said a few days ago,” muttered Jones.

“I’m sure. Well,” Morales said, but couldn’t think of anything else to say. He sighed again and climbed the stairs into the cockpit, allowing the hatch to slide closed beside him.

Buck Winters, about 350 pounds of man as Morales judged, loomed over he and Russell.

“It’s all a matter of respect,” Buck said, and the contractors surrounding him grunted agreement.

“Look,” Morales said, feeling out-of-place in his Starfleet Academy Polo Club t-shirt and sweatpants, stared nervously up at Buck. “We respect you, okay? We just can’t go catering to every bizarre demand you make.”

“Well, well, well,” Buck said, thumping Morales on the chest. The smaller man stood his ground. “You’re saying cheesy lasagna is a bizarre demand? Funny you should say that, pajama boy.”

“Ahem, uh, well I–” Morales straightened. “I certainly am.”

“We want cheesier lasagna!” shouted back one of the laborers.

“And the big dining room!” shouted another.

“I’m not going to stand here and listen to any more of these silly demands,” Morales snapped. “If you guys were Starfleet engineers, this facility would have been finished months ago. I don’t care if you’re civilians, I want this station finished and finished pronto!”

Buck blinked at this, then shifted his toolbelt around his gut a bit. “Okay, I get what you’re saying.”

Morales sighed. “Finally. Listen, I hate to be so curt with you guys, but–”

“Come on, let’s go!” shouted Buck, turning around and motioning to his workers.

“Boy, they really are getting to work quick,” commented Russell.

“Yes,” Morales said. “A little too quick.”

Morales tried to catch up on some sleep as the thirty minute ride back to Waystation Village began. He had almost drifted away to dreamland when a bleep sounded from Russell’s console.

“I don’t want to know what it is.”

Russell coughed uncomfortably. “Sir, activity from the site of the new Waystation. Workbees and transport shuttles are apparently…leaving.”

Morales shot up in his seat. “On viewer.”

He turned to watch the swarm of ships vacate Waystation and veer off into warp. “Hail them!”

“You’re on.”

“Zenedron construction ships: Where do you think you’re going???”

Buck appeared on the viewscreen. “You wanted us to finish early. We’re finished. You and your so-called crack Starfleet crew can finish the rest.”

“No, you can’t be serious!”

“We’re serious all right. Your government will be getting a bill from the Zenedron Construction Group for lost time, personal suffering, etc. Have a nice day.”

And Buck bleeped off the screen.

“Good thing Commander Beck’s on vacation,” Russell said weakly. “I’m sure we can get them back before then.”

“Oh, we’re doing no such thing,” Morales snapped.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean we’re going to finish that station. And in record time.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Morales was so angry his eyes twitched. “Do I look like I’m kidding?”

“You look like you’re having a stroke.”

“Either way, that station’s getting finished. BEFORE Commander Beck gets back.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“Let’s not go through that again.”

First Officer’s Log,

Stardate 51685.3. Construction on the new Waystation is going completely as according to plan. Nothing unusual whatsoever to report. All is well, everything’s fine. No need to worry about us. Nope. No sirree.

Lt. Commander Morales circumnavigated the new stretch of Starfleet Square Mall, following a long string of fiberoptic cable to the Jeffries tube where Lt. Porter and his men were currently working.

“How’s it coming?”

Porter sighed. “Don’t ask.”

“That bad?”

“Well, for starters, I have no idea how any of these electrics were done. It’s not to Federation specs, that’s for sure.”

“Then I guess it’s good we caught that now.”

“Then there’s the matter of the structural problems. None of my engineers were certified for raw construction. Especially on this scale. The upper and lower saucers still haven’t been added yet. All the expansion work has barely been completed.” Porter sat up, squirming out of the Jeffries tube. “You realize this place is supposed to be around a hundred decks when we’re all finished, don’t you?”

Morales cleared his throat. “Nothing you guys can’t handle, right?”


The inside of the Jeffries tube was suddenly illuminated very bright as Porter was blasted out and into Morales’ lap.

Porter sighed again. “Better call the Infirmary. Again.”

After Porter’s crew had been treated and released, Lt. Commander Morales returned to the station commander’s cramped little office in Waystation Village to catch up on some paperwork.

“Jones to Morales,” rang the comm system.

“What is it, Yeoman?”

“We’re having a minor vendor relations problem.”

Morales rubbed his temples wearily. “Which vendor?”

“Mr. Dillon, sir.”

“I should have known. Tell him I’ll meet with him–” Before Morales could finish, Bradley Dillon, dapperly dressed as always, marched through the door to the tiny office, followed by several men in suits just as snappy, and one woman in a miniskirt and matching blazer.

“What the–”

Jones was barely visible behind the cluster of suits. “Sorry I couldn’t give you more notice sir. They kind of just came from out of nowhere.”

Bradley Dillon advanced on Morales’ desk, smiling broadly. “No need to worry about this, Commander Morales. I respect Commander Beck and you. This little matter can be taken care of very easily.”

“What little matter?” Morales demanded, rising from the chair and leaning on Beck’s desk.

Bradley paced the office. “The matter of the total stoppage of construction on my portion of the new station.”

“On YOUR portion? But you hired independant contractors.”

Bradley rolled his eyes. “That may be, but evidently they have some sort of agreement with the Galactic Two-forty-two, which is the union that represents the Zenedron Construction Group, hence, they left too. My associates here have calculated that the lost assets to come because of your handful of Starfleet engineers taking on a job way beyond their capabilities will cost Dillon Enterprises upwards of–”

“Four million credits,” crisply responded the lead suit, a thin, mannerly Vulcan.

Morales blinked. “You want ME to pay YOU because your construction crew left.”

Bradley’s grin broadened. “I’ve got a substantial business to get off the ground, Mr. Morales. I’m sure you can appreciate the demands on my schedule. Any delay is costly.”

Morales collapsed into his seat, laughing heartily. “You’ve got some nerve, Mr. Dillon. What will happen if I don’t pay? This bunch will beat me up behind the matter reclamators?”

“Not at all,” Bradley said. “I’d hate to think you’d defamate my character by insinuating something like that. These are my lawyers.”

“Your what?”

“A dying artform, to be sure,” Bradley said, leaning easily against Morales’ desk, “but one I’d like to preserve. This is a Dream Team made up of the galaxy’s best lawyers.”

“You’d sue Starfleet. Oh, Mr. Dillon, that’s rich.”

“No, I’m rich. And I stand to be a lot richer if I get a settlement of –what?” He looked at the Vulcan.

The Vulcan clasped his hands behind his back. “Twenty million credits.”

“But you said this will cost you four million!”

“Personal suffering, collateral damages, I could go on,” said another lawyer, a tall, angular Cardassian.

“Who are these idiots?” demanded Morales.

“Oh, I’m such a dunce!” Bradley exclaimed. “I forgot to introduce my friends. This is Skarnak, the only Vulcan lawyer known to exist. He’s capable of using logic to convince you you’re a bowl of cream of crab soup.”

That does sound good about now, Morales mused.

“And this,” Bradley pointed at the Cardassian next to Skarnak, “is Densin Gremlak, a Cardassian expatriate who can break any witness with his insideous phsychological techniques. He once sat in silence with a witness for two days, until finally she had a nervous breakdown and confessed to planetary terraforming fraud. And, incidentally, he also is an excellent chef.”

“This is sick.” Morales shook his head.

“I’m not finished!” Bradley pointed to the fat guy. “This is just a really fat human, but he knows corporate law like nobody’s business.”


“And this little cutie,” Bradley gestured to the girl in the miniskirt, “is Alyssa McNeil, an up-and-coming girl lawyer in an all-boys club who puts her heart into her cases and has a wild imagination.”

Somewhere, in the distance, Morales heard the peppery beat of a theme song.

“Good premise,” Morales nodded. “Anyway, I don’t think Starfleet has anything to worry about. That’s what we have Judge Advocate Generals for.”

Bradley laughed maniacally. “Have you ever seen a Judge Advocate General?”

Morales shrugged. “Have you?”

“Well, no,” Bradley admitted.

Morales stared angrily at the front viewport of the Cumberland as it sailed toward the site of the new Waystation.

“Don’t be mad at me,” squeaked Yeoman Jones.

“I’m not mad at you. None of this is your fault.” Morales pounded the computer panel before him. “But damn, I can’t believe Bradley would sue us after all we’ve been through with him.”

“Respectfully, sir, what have we been through with him?”

Morales rubbed his chin several moments. “Oh, I have no freaking idea! Just steer, please.”

“You shouldn’t go into this mad. We’re about to do choose the color scheme for the new Ops. You need to be thinking clearly.”

“I’d be thinking clearer if I saw Bradley floating by in front of us, dead from exposure to the vacuum of space.” Morales smiled wickedly.

Jones looked Morales over nervously. “Sir, I think you’re a bit stressed. Maybe you should see a counselor.”

“I am NOT STRESSED, YEOMAN!” Morales snapped, and ducked back into the rear compartment.

“Okay, I believe you.”

“Then you exit through a curtain of beads into the main foyer. Actually, it would technically be called a foy-yay, but what does that matter, really?” asked Farlak, the frilly-shirted Klingon interior decorator assigned to create the new Waystation’s “asthetic feel.” He pranced through the turbolift alcove and lead Morales and Jones into the center of the gutted room that would…someday…be Ops.

“Where’d you find this guy?” Morales whispered.

“He came highly recommended by Krilik.”

“The owner of the Klingon formal wear shop?”

“The same.”

“What, is he a brother of his or something?” Morales whispered as Farlak closed his eyes, supposedly “feeling the aura” of the place.

Jones blushed. “Well, not exactly a brother, in the traditional sense of the word.”

“You know what I see?” Farlak asked, shoving his head in between Jones and Morales. “I see lots and lots of wood paneling! And shag carpeting!”

“This is going to be a military command post, not a retro-millenia dance club!” Morales exploded.

Farlak blinked. “You no like?”

“No, I no like!”

“Listen,” the larger man asked, “do you want me to design your space, or not?”

“Sorry, sir,” Jones said, stepping in front of Morales to circumvent any more violence. “Lt. Commander Morales has just been very stressed lately.”

“Oh, of course he’s stressed!” Farlak cried, maneuvering behind to massage Morales’ shoulders. “It’s all those violent grey and mauves that he has to work around. I’ve seen Starfleet designs. They’re so…combative. They’re not pleasant to work around at all. No, Mr. Morales, what I’m going to design for you is a space that’s functional, yet fun at the same time! Get it? Fun, functional? Isn’t that a hoot?”

Yeoman Jones shook her head as the Cumberland sped away from the Waystation site. “You didn’t have to punch him, sir. He was just being friendly.”

“I didn’t like the way he tickled my ear. It made me uncomfortable.”

“You’re wound up tighter than a Romulan warp field, sir,” Jones asserted, setting the Cumberland gently down on its landing pad. “You should be glad Farlak isn’t suing you like Mr. Dillon is.”

Morales sunk lower in his seat as the runabout sunk into its bay and the pressure doors swung shut above it. “Don’t remind me.”

“Ops to Morales,” came Russell’s voice over Morales’ communicator.

“Morales here.”

“Sir, we’re recieving a communication from Commander Beck. She wants to know how things are going.”

“Oh, spectacular,” Morales muttered. “Put her through in here.”

“If you’ll excuse me,” Jones said, rushing toward the exit hatch. “I’m on duty.”

“Not for another fifteen minutes!”

“Early bird gets the…well, you know, it gets fed!” Jones stammered, rushing out of the bay, yelling over her shoulder, “don’t bump into my cot on the way out, please, sir!”

Morales sighed and swung in his chair to face Commander Beck’s face on the viewer. “Commander!” he said warmly. “How nice to see you.”

“Nice to see you too, Walter. How’s my little village doing?”

“Ha ha,” Morales laughed uncomfortably. “Couldn’t be better.”

“Those construction people aren’t giving you any trouble, are they?”

“Nope,” Morales gritted his teeth. “You’d hardly know they were here.”

“Good. How’s everything else?”

“Ship-shape,” Morales said. “Well, station-shape, I guess.”

“Well, I just wanted to check in and make sure you weren’t having any problems. Glad to see the Multeks aren’t dropping in.”

“Wouldn’t be surprised, after a day like this,” Morales muttered quietly.

“What’s that?”

“I said, ‘hope you’re having a good vacation!’”

“Uh-huh. Well, I am. You know, a little of this, a little of that.” She glanced over her shoulder. “Whoops, wouldn’t you know. I have company. Listen, Walter, I’ve got to go. Take care.”

“Easier said than done,” Morales grumbled, snapping the channel off.

He swiveled around in his chair and leaned up to duck out of the exit hatch. He heard a rumbling out in the hangar.

“Yeoman Jones?” Morales gulped.

Then a meaty hand wrapped around Morales’ neck and slammed him up against the runabout bulkhead before he could yell for security.

“This is a message from the Galactic two-forty-two!”

“OOOOF!” cried Morales as he underwent the most vicous pounding of his life.

Station Log,

Supplemental. Everything is still fine. No problems to speak of.

“Hold still, will you?” asked Dr. Amedon Nelson as she reset Morales’ jaw.

He rubbed. “It still hurts.”

“And it will for a while. Not much we can do about that.”

“So, go on, Commander, what did he look like?” asked Sean Russell, pacing the Infirmary, studiously working on his pad.

“Huge,” Morales grimaced. “Other than that, I can’t remember much, since his fist was kind of in my line of sight.”

“That would explain the black eyes,” said Nelson with interest, shoving a hypospray in Morales’ arm. “This will kill the pain, but what you really need is rest.”

“I don’t see that happening any time soon,” Morales muttered. “I’m due in tomorrow morning, and I have to get ready.”

“So was he human?” Russell prodded.

“The only inhuman thing about him was his size, Lieutenant. I don’t even see how he could squeeze through the runabout hatch.”

Nelson glared at Russell. “I don’t see how he could get past security.”

“These union folks are tricky,” Russell admitted. “They have friends everywhere. And they can disappear as quickly as they appear. Your assailant is probably already on a transport out of here.”

“You did lock down all ships from leaving the area, didn’t you?” demanded Morales.

“Damn!” Russell slapped his padd down. “I knew I forgot to do something.”

“Listen,” Morales said, sliding off the biobed and ducking down one of Waystation Village’s cramped corridors. “We have worse problems than the Galactic two-forty-two. We have a station that needs to be completed on schedule, we have a crack team of lawyers hell-bent on suing the Federation and we have–”

“Klingon Bird of Prey approaching on attack course. All hands to battlestations. I repeat, all hands to battlestations,” called Ensign Stanton over the station intercom.

“I thought the Klingons were our friends,” Russell said, as Morales picked up his pace down the connecting tube to the Ops module.

“Assume nothing,” Morales grumbled as the first disruptor blast hit Waystation Village.

“They just decloaked and started firing,” Stanton said, stepping aside to allow Morales access to the Master Systems Console/Foosball Table. The Ops room doubled as a rec deck on Friday and Saturday nights. “Br’el class, small raider I think.”

“Hail them,” Morales ordered, as Russell jumped to the tactical controls and started firing back at the Bird of Prey.

“Response on-screen,” Stanton said, manning sciences.

A fattish Klingon appeared on the screen, draped in a frilly golden sash, hair in stylish dreadlocks.

“I’m Commander Kruul. Are you Walter Morales?”

“Um, yes,” Morales said slowly. “What’s this all about?”

“It’s about Farlak. You’ve assaulted him, and I intend to pay you back for it.”

“And how do you know Farlak?” asked Morales, rubbing his chin.

“He’s a very…close…friend. But that’s not important! Give yourself up to me for painful gutting, and I’ll spare your puny little complex.”

“It’s a village!” Russell retorted. “Get it straight.”

“Whatever. You have two minutes to decide what to do.”

“Well,” Morales said, folding his arms. “How do we stand against a B’rel- class Bird of Prey?”

“If this was Waystation, we’d be able to clean their chronometers,” Russell muttered.

“But this is Waystation Village,” Morales sighed.

“Right sir.”

“We’re dead meat.”

“That’s about the size of it.”

Just then, the hatch leading to Ops swung open, and Krilik, the owner of the Klingon formal wear shop squeezed through, head clanging on the doorframe.

“That is in an inconvenient entranceway,” he grunted.

“What are you doing here?” Morales demanded.

“I want to speak to that Klingon out there.”

This was getting just plain silly. “And how do YOU know HIM?”

Krilik folded his arms, unfolded them, then put his hands on his hips, posturing uncomfortably. “He’s an acquaintance of a friend. Farlak.”

“Farlak. Of course.” Morales stared down at the deck uncomfortably. “So you want to kill me too?”

“Actually, I spoke to Farlak. He’s not hurt. As a matter of fact, he’s, well…he asked me to invite you out to dinner with us tomorrow night. Our treat!”

Morales rubbed his eyes. “How about you get rid of that Klingon out there and we’ll call it even.”

Krilik grinned. “With pleasure. Put him on screen.”

Morales waved a hand at the viewscreen and turned his back to it.

“Krilik?” asked the confused Kruul. “What business do you have on a Federation station.”

“VILLAGE!” shouted Russell.


“A booming fashion business, Kruul,” Krilik said defensively. “More than I can say for your little pirate operation.”

“I’ll have you know I’m doing quite well.”

“Oh admit it,” Krilik retorted. “The only reason you’re a space pirate is because you like the clothes.”


“DusanH!” Krilik shouted back. “Farlak and I have been perfectly clear about this: we don’t want to hang out with you! Get out of this star system or so help me Kahless I’ll call your mother and tell her about what happened on Raisa.”

“Oh, do not bring my mother into this!”

“I’ll do it!”

Kruul smoldered on the viewscreen for a moment, then pounded a control, closing the channel.

“Bird of Prey disengaging,” said Stanton.

Morales turned back to Krilik. “Thanks. We owe you one.”

“Just take me up on that dinner some time, human,” Krilik said mysteriously and ducked out of the hatch.

Morales sighed and thudded into the commander’s office. “Don’t call me if anything else happens.”

Morales awoke that night to discover that he’d somehow rolled right off his bed–and onto the ceiling.

He turned his head to notice his bed right on the ground where he left it. A lamp and some loose trinkets from his last trip to Corsica floated by.

“Something isn’t right,” Morales deduced quietly. “Morales to Russell.”

Nothing. Damn.

“Morales to Russell.”

Again, nothing.

Morales pulled himself down toward the viewport and let out a yelp of shock.

It was painfully obvious that gravity was out. Which, in and of itself wasn’t such a problem. It was known to happen, especially in something as shabbily-built as a Zenedron cargo module.

The thing that made Morales yelp was that another of the cargo modules– specifically, the one that used to be attached to his, floated by his window. He could see a very angry Amedon Nelson floting around through the opposite viewport, scrambling for handholds along the bulkhead.

Then Morales felt the familiar buzz of a transporter taking hold.

The vacant room that was soon to be the new Ops materialized around Morales. Around him, stunned-looking members of his command crew milled about, murmurring confusion.

“Federation Station, this is the Galaxa Repossession Squad. Your cargo modules are property of the Zenedron construction group, and as such, they are to be returned promptly, vis a vis the termination of your construction agreement with them. Have a nice day.”

Sean Russell angrily tied his robe and marched down to the lower level of the new Ops to meet Morales. “This is just great. I was having a meaningful subspace communique with a model from ‘Universe Today,’ and it was terminated like that!” he snapped his fingers.

“I feel for you,” Morales grumbled. “Someone find me Porter. See if we can get something more than life support up here.”

“What do you intend to do?” Russell asked. “Run this station as is?”

“Do you see that we have much choice?”

Station Log,

Stardate 51686.4. This is a fantastic time to be commanding a space station. Everyone’s getting along and Waystation Village couldn’t be better!

“USS Velour arriving at Docking Arm Four,” said Yeoman Jones’ voice over the comm as Morales marched down the partially-completed cooridor toward the docking complex.

Jones was there waiting by the airlock for him, padd at the ready, in full liason mode. “Morning, Commander.”

“Yes, it is,” Morales grumbled, watching the Oberth-class Velour’s airlock line up with their own. With a soft thud, the two airlocks mated and began the process of pressure-equalization.

“Do we know anything about the judge?” Morales asked.

“I asked my source at the Federation Judiciary Board. He said she was fair but stern. But don’t cross her or she’ll cut you down quicker than a Tarkalian razorbeast.”

“May I ask who your source is?”

Jones waffled. “I’d rather not tell, sir.”


“He’s the janitor there, sir.”

“Lovely.” Suddenly the airlock wheezed open on the Velour’s end and a pair of officers strode through. On the left was a thin, gangly ensign Morales guessed was the adjutant. Beside him walked an oldish red-head.

Morales straightened as the Judge Advocate General for his sector stepped through the airlock.

“Welcome to Waystation, Captain Rothenberg,” Morales said, stepping forward to shake hands.

The JAG continued past. “You can call me Judy. The hearing will begin in three hours. I want you to be ready.”

Morales and Jones fell into step behind Judy and her ensign. “Have the preparations been made?” he whispered.

“Porter wanted me to remind you that he warned you,” Jones whispered back.

“That’s not exactly bolstering my confidence.”

The group took a side-corridor to one of the slightly more complete residence complexes.

Judy studied the bulkheads with interest. “I didn’t realize you’d already moved in here, Commander.”

“We just moved last night,” Morales said weakly. “It didn’t take very long at all.”

Judy nodded as she rounded a corner. As soon as she passed one section of bulkhead, its outer covering flopped down to reveal the skeletal structure of the still-not-completed station underneath.

“Is that a draft I feel?” asked Judy.

“No,” Morales said. “Don’t be silly. That’s a state-of-the-art environmental system at work.”

“I see. So where are my chambers?”

“We’ll be working out of the Dillon Enterprises offices,” Morales said.

“And why are we giving the so-called enemy the home-team advantage, Commander?”

Because it’s the only completed portion of the station, Morales thought to himself, and smiled dumbly as he escorted Judy to the suite Bradley Dillon was so nice to set aside for her.


“And in other news, Dillon Enterprises makes Federation history, as the first indepentant corporation to sue our government. Jake Sisko reports on this exciting development…”

Commander Beck stuck her head out from under the covers. “What was that?”

“What was what?” asked Banyon cooly from beside her.

“I swear I heard the name Dillon.”

“Is that a problem?”

“Besides the fact of it totally killing my libido? No.”

“Your libido, huh?” Banyon smiled and yanked the covers over Beck. “I’ll see what I can do about that.”

Judy Rothenberg stared out the viewport of her temporary office and cocked her head as two space-suited figures tumbled by, dragging a sheet of duranium. They must just be putting some last-minute touches on the station.

“Ah, there you are!” a voice said.

Judy turned. “Oh. You must be Mr. Dillon.”

“The one and only! How are you finding your accomodations?”

She ran a hand along the desk, in search of dust. “Adequate.”

“Can I get you anything from the kitchen? We don’t have a chef at the moment, but I can certainly have Gisele whip you something up.”

“Just some warm tea.”

“Gisele!” Bradley snapped his fingers. “Warm tea.”

He joined Judy at the viewport. “Madam, I want to do everything in my power to make your stay here as comfortable as possible. If you need ANYTHING, don’t hesitate to ask.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“And I just wanted to tell you, I read your book, The Measure of a Droid, criticizing Phillipa Louvois for her overly sentimental treatment of Mr. Data in that sentience case several years back. It was just gold, Captain! Gold!”

Judy narrowed her eyes. “You are buttering me up, sir.”

“Buttering?” Bradley smiled. “Nonsense. Just making conversation. I can stop if you want me to.”

“Please do.”

“Right. Well, I guess I’ll get going, unless you–”

“I don’t.”

“Uh-huh. Okay.” Bradley headed for the door. “Oh, by the way, do you–”

“No, I don’t.”

“Right, then. Okay, I’m gone.”

“All rise,” decreed Lt. Russell. “Presenting the honorable Judy Rothenberg, presiding over this…conference room, to determine the verdict in the case of Dillon Enterprises versus the United Federation of Planets. Here come the judge, here come the judge!”

Judy glared at Russell as she took her seat at the head of the conference table and he immediately sat down. She scanned one side of the table: Morales, Jones, Porter, and Dr. Amedon Nelson, then the other, Bradley and his gaggle of lawyers.

“All right,” Judy said tersely. “Let’s proceed.” She looked at Bradley’s side of the table. “Plaintiff’s counsel?”

The lead counsel, Skarnak, rose from his chair. “Madam, we would like to prove to you today beyond a shadow of a doubt that the United Federation of Planets is indebted to Dillon Enterprises to the tune of twenty million credits, for time lost, collateral and personal damages in the matter of the construction of the Dillon Enterprises offices, Dillon’s Pioneer Depot, and the Starfleet Suites hotel complex.”

“Isn’t that where we are now?” asked Judy. She looked around the conference room. “Looks complete to me.”

“I assure you, ma’am,” said the Vulcan. “This is a mere fraction of the Dillon Enterprises section of the station. Alyssa, the graphic if you please.”

Alyssa McNeil pushed out of her seat, straightened her tiny miniskirt, and strode over to the large viewscreen that dominated the conference room. She hit a control. “Your JAGship, if you will, take a look at this representation of our part of Waystation. The blue shaded areas are completely finished, but these yellow portions are less than half-finished. And work has not even begun on the green sections.”

Judy rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Break it down in terms of numbers, barbiedoll.”

Alyssa fretted with her hands momentarily and shifted her gaze to Skarnak, shrugging.

Skarnak joined her at the viewscreen, pointing to a cluster of numbers. “These figures indicate that over fifty percent of the Dillon Enterprises complex is unfinished. The raw value of that space in terms of fiscal annuity stands at three million credits alone.”

“Okay, number-cruncher, I get your meaning. But you’re going to have to prove that Mr. Morales here was in control of the situation with the Zenedron Construction group, and that he, as a representative of Starfleet and the UFP, acted with malice and forethought in ending construction.” She turned to face Morales. “Commander?”

Morales rose. “Captain, that’s my point exactly. Why would I have acted willfully to terminate our contract with the Zenedron group? Our station is in just as much distress as Mr. Dillon’s…enterprise. We have people working day-in and day-out to make up the time lost by the withdrawal of the Zenedron group. Mr. Porter can attest to that.”

“Mr. Porter?” prodded Judy.

Porter was staring at Alyssa. Her legs were incredible. Like two long, slender warp nacelles thrumming with plasma.

“Mr. Porter!”

“Hmm?” Porter pivoted in his chair.

“Can you attest that you and the members of your engineering team have been distressed by the withdrawal of the Zenedron group?”

“Sure, sure. It’s been an uphill struggle getting the new systems installed and online.”

“Madam, if I may, that proves nothing!” said Gremlak, Bradley’s Cardassian lawyer. “May I address Mr. Porter?”

Judy nodded. “Sure.”

Porter sunk in his chair. Morales squeezed his shoulder. “It’ll be okay, Craig.”

“Easy for you to say.”

Gremlak paced in front of Porter, looking him up and down. “Hello, Lieutenant.”


“Look at that graphic of your Waystation, please.”

Porter looked. “Yeah, what about it?”

“How many decks in this station?”

“A hundred,” said Porter easily.

“And how many occupied by Dillon Enterprises?”

“Three, in fourteen lateral sections.”

“No, that’s incorrect. It’s four decks.”

“Hey, I counted them myself, it’s three.”

Gremlak leaned down in Porter’s face. “FOUR DECKS! YOU SEE


“CAPTAIN!” Morales exploded. “What in the hell does this prove?”

“I’m wondering that myself,” Judy said with interest. “Mr. Gremlak?”

“I’m just trying to make him nervous,” Gremlak said, shrugging. “We’re finished with this witness.”

“THERE…ARE…THREE…DECKS!” Porter cried, leaning his head down on the conference table.

“Captain,” Morales said. “This is obviously a bizarre attempt by Dillon Enterprises to sucker the Federation into covering his losses. They don’t even use the Zenedron Construction Group–he hired an independant contractor!”

“Who left as a direct result of the termination of your contract with Zendedron.” said Skarnak evenly.

“Walter, this is a setup,” said Jones softly.

“Why don’t you just go ahead and admit it!” cried Gremlak, leaning over the table. “All of you are conspiring to rid this station of Bradley Dillon, its most prosperous occupant.”

“That’s not true!” said Nelson.

“You don’t like him!” added the fat lawyer.

“You are jealous because he has so much more money than any of you,” Alyssa said defiantly.

Russell shrugged. “That wouldn’t be hard. None of us have any money.”

Alyssa considered that, and her large lips puckered in sadness. “No money?”

“Nope,” Russell sighed. “They don’t pay Starfleet officers.”

“From the moment Bradley Dillon stepped aboard this station, the command staff was deadset against him,” said Skarnak, retaking control of the proceedings.

“I wouldn’t say deadset,” said Morales.

“Exibit A!” Gremlak punched a control on the conference table and a Starfleet Officer profile complete with goofy picture appeared on the viewer. “One Travis Dillon, First Officer, USS Secondprize. The former home of Commander Beck, Mr. Morales, Yeoman Jones, Lt. Porter, Lt. Russell, and a bevy of others!”

“And what does this prove?” asked Judy.

“Travis Dillon is Bradley Dillon’s brother,” Skarnak explained. “And not well liked by many aboard the Secondprize.”

“Oh, we liked him fine,” stammered Morales. “We all got along fine with him!”

“Oh, yes?” asked Gremlak, punching a control. “Then explain this: Exhibit B!”

“Personal Log, Walter Morales, Stardate 48539.8. I’ve never liked Travis Dillon, and I never will. He’s a total moron, and couldn’t command a mop and bucket, much less a starship.”

“Again,” said Skarnak.

“I’ve never liked Travis Dillon, and I never will. He’s a total moron, and couldn’t command a mop and bucket, much less a starship.”

“You don’t like Bradley Dillon,” said Gremlak, leaning into Morales’ face.

“That’s not–’

“So you ruined his building plans!”


“You hate Bradley Dillon!”


“Because of his brother!”

“And now you’re going to ruin him!” cried the fat guy.

Judy put two fingers in her mouth and blew a loud whistle. “Silence, everybody!”

The whole room froze. Gremlak was still in Morales’ face, Skarnak was watching the action with a raised eyebrow. Beside him, Bradley Dillon watched with detached bemusement. Sean Russell appeared to be playing footsie under the table with Alyssa, and Amedon Nelson had the fat guy in a headlock.

“Now,” said Judy, taking a deep breath. “If any of you have anything intelligent left to say, say it now.” Exchanged nervous glances. Silence.

“Right, then. Recess. Be back here in an hour.”

Lt. Commander Morales leaned against the railing and stared out at the space beyond Waystation. He’d managed to find an out-of-the way place to go and think–that being the future location fo KelNar’s Science Emporium. The room had a beautiful bubble-shaped window that looked out onto the vista of stars. And they also had a pretty cool looking human-sized gyroscope machine, but Morales had not been able to get it activated.

“Sir?” asked Craig Porter from behind him.

Morales didn’t glance over his shoulder. “If you don’t mind, Craig, I’d like to be alone.”

“Sulking, sir?”

“That’s right I am.”

“You know, I think our chances for winning this are good.”

“What gives you that idea? What makes you think our luck will change any this late in the game?”

“Well, let’s just say Russell’s in the store room down the hall deposing the plaintiff’s counsel, if you get my drift.”

“That little stinker,” muttered Morales. “Fat lot of good that will do us.”

“Hey, think of it this way–that’s a Federation representative out there. You can’t tell me she’ll be totally impartial.”

“She once granted the Romulans a whole star system because they had a grievance against us. I think she’ll stand by her guns, Porter.”

“I see. Well, there are always possibilities.”

“I guess. Anyway, even if we do win this case, how are we going to get this station completed in time? You realize Commander Beck will probably demote me for this.”

Porter joined Morales at the viewport. “You don’t really think she’d do that, do you? After all we’ve been through together?”

“Why would she want someone who can’t even oversee a construction project as her first officer? You know I’m right, Craig. She’s always been closer to you, anyway.”

“Hold on, wait just one second. When did this become the ‘Who Lisa Loves Most’ debate?”

“It’s true. Executive officers have always had a close relationship with their captains. I don’t have that with Commander Beck.”

“Like Commander Dillon was all snugly with Captain Rydell.”

“Okay,” Morales granted, “there are exceptions. But I still feel like I’ve let her down, Craig.”

“Commander,” Porter said, “it won’t just be your butt in the warp chamber over this. We’re all partially responsible. And we’re going to work together to get out of this.”

“And how do you propose we go about that?”

“I’ll get back to you on that one.”


“Trial participants report to Conference Room 1A.”

“That’s it. That’s our verdict,” Porter said.

“Joy,” muttered Morales.

Judy scanned the table again. Every particpant save Russell and Alyssa quickly filed into their seats, eagerly awaiting her verdict.

“Glad to see you all here,” Judy said wryly. “I’ve thought long and hard about this.”

Everyone leaned forward eagerly.

“Who am I kidding? I thought for five minutes about this. The other fifty-five were spent taking a luxurious bath and eating the best dish of hasparat souflee I’ve ever had. Thanks, Gremlak.”

Gremlak bowed gracefully. “Think nothing of it, madam.”

“Just great,” Morales grumbled.

Bradley Dillon smiled victoriously.

The doors suddenly swung open and Alyssa and Russell scurried in, adjusting their clothing fitfully.

“Sorry we’re late,” Alyssa said, playfully dropping into her seat.

Russell leaned over to Morales. “Peace of cake, sir.”

“I don’t see how you made a difference,” muttered Morales. “Captain Rothenberg’s the one giving the verdict.”

“So I should have slept with her?” Russell glanced at Judy.

“Forget it. Too late now.”

“Never say never, sir.”

“Be quiet,” ordered Judy sharply, causing Morales and Russell to quickly shut up. “Now, let’s get this charade overwith.” She turned to Bradley. “Mr. Dillon, I am prepared to order Starfleet to pay you the sum of–”

Everyone drew in collective breaths.

”–nothing,” Judy finally said. “I mean, really. You can’t expect a government with absolutely no financial system to pay you anything? What would we pay you in? Starships, phasers, and graviton emitters?”

“Or a small moon?” suggested Bradley, still smiling.

“You couldn’t have thought you’d have a chance of getting money out of us, did you?” asked Judy.

“Nah,” Bradley admitted. “I really just did this for laughs.”

“What,” exploded Skarnak calmly. “This is a humiliation.”

“Sorry, old chum.” Bradley clapped Skarnak on the back. He shuddered. Whoops, he’d forgotten about that no-contact thing. “Anyway, you’ll all be compensated nicely.”

“But we’ll never practice law again,” muttered Gremlak.

“Maybe,” said Bradley. “But I’m prepared to offer YOU a chef’s job. That soufflee was magnificent.”

“Intruiging,” said Gremlak, rubbing his chin.

“There’s still the matter of the withdrawal of Zenedron Construction Group and your independent contractors,” said Judy. “It’s painfully obvious to me that the Starfleet people here cannot finish the job. We need them back.”

“Hmm,” Bradley said, shrugging. “I guess I could offer them a few million credits to reconsider our contract.”

“You’d do that?” bursted Morales.

“Sure, it’s a drop in the old bucket.”

“Well, then,” Judy said. “I think we’ve come to a resolution here.”

“Maybe,” said Morales. “But there’s one more thing.”

Judy glared at him. “What.”

“Is it possible that we can keep quiet about this?”

“We meaning me?”

“Well, yes. I’d hate it if all this got back to my commander.”

“I’m not your problem. You think you can keep a whole station quiet?”

“Ever hear the word ‘hush-money’?” asked Bradley.

“You’re a slimy little man, Mr. Dillon,” said Judy. “But a well- intentioned, slimy little man.”


She turned back to Morales. “I’ll keep quiet about this, more because it would be bad press for Starfleet than for any other reason. Just try to remember the lesson you’ve learned here today.”

Morales gulped. “And that would be?”

Judy shook her head. “Hell if I know. You’ll have to figure that one out.” She turned to her attendant. “Come on, Ensign Hunt. Let’s get off this station.”


“Morning everyone,” Commander Beck said, entering ops.

“Oh hi, Commander,” Lieutenant Porter said. “I didn’t hear you come in. Must have been the absence of that familiar bonk.”

“I learned to duck.”

“So it was that kind of vacation,” Porter said. Lieutenant Commander Morales walked in from the airlock joining ops to the ready room/conference room module.

“Welcome back, Commander,” he said warmly. “Nice trip?”

“A little bumpy at first, but things improved. How were things here?”

“About the same,” Morales said, exchanging a meaningful glance with Porter.

“Right. I expect a full report,” Beck said, heading back towards the airlock. “And I mean FULL.”

“Are you relieving me?” Morales asked.

“Hell no. I’ve still got five hours of vacation time left. Have fun, boys.” Beck exited, leaving a stunned Morales in her wake.

“Does she seem different to you?” Morales asked Porter.

“Yeah, but in a good way,” Porter replied smiling.

“If you say so.”

On her way down to return her ski equipment to Dillon’s Pioneer Supply Depot, Beck ran into one of the construction workers. His name tag read “Buck.” And he had a very nice suede uniform on, and a gold Rigelex watch, by the looks of it.

“Hello,” she said, squirming past him into the airlock.

“Why, Commander Beck, it’s great to see you,” Buck said brightly, taking Beck’s hand. “I just want to thank you for contracting with the Zenedron Construction Group.”

“Uh, you’re welcome.”

“We’re having such a great time working with you.”

“Sure.” Beck pulled her hand away and ducked into the adjoining airlock. Last she’d heard, the construction workers were being extremely difficult. What the heck had happened while she was gone? Did she want to know?

Probably not, she decided, and headed to Bradley’s depot.