Bad Gas

Captain’s Log Stardate 100521

Demotions are the worst.

About the time the Xindi deployed their biogenic weapon, I, your fearless captain, found himself grounded.

To be clear, Starfleet never officially filed the proper paperwork. But they didn’t exactly come to my aid when I told them a band of time travelling genetic freaks were trying to destroy the human race. The briefing went something like this:

“Admiral, you have to do something! An advanced alien threat has travelled into the past to kill us in the future!”

Admiral Mukety Muck stared at me, blankly. “Why didn’t they already kill us?”

Okay, fair question. But I didn’t have an answer. “I think they did…in another timeline?”

“So we’re already dead? The whole human race?”

My turn to stare blankly. Unsure how to answer, I nodded with conviction. The admiral pursed his lips and nodded as well, seeming to understand my display of authority.

“Very well, I guess if you’re dead, you won’t need a starship anymore.”

<End Transmission> said the computer. And not in the nice, soothing voice every other ship in the fleet had. No, we get Gilbert Gottfried. Old Gilbert Gottfried, reincarnated and deep faked and digitally rendered over several centuries, his voice had gone from mildly irritating to more like a Ferengi gargling glass and spitting it in your ears.

Anyway, Starfleet ordered our return to port, so I ran. I may or may not have done this before. Being demoted and running from Starfleet.

“Aren’t we going too fast?” my First Officer asked, her fingers gripping the armrests. I really hoped she wasn’t about to get all dramatic and start flinging herself across the bridge.

“Negatory! This ship has made the Kessel…”

“Wrong franchise, hon.”

“Call me Captain, a title I absolutely still have! Now if I can just use that planet to slingshot into the next quadrant…”

This type of shortcut doesn’t work as well as the historical records indicate. Space is full of well, non-space stuff. When we careened into Degobah and ended up submerged in the swamps, I can honestly say had no idea it was a Klingon outpost.

“Can’t you…you know…” I looked hopefully at my First Officer, placed one finger on my temple, and narrowed my eyes in a display of sheer willpower focused on the ship.

“WRONG FRANCHISE.”

And that’s how I ended up serving time in a Klingon penal colony.

I mean, they take their posted warp speeds extremely seriously. Get dragged out of the cockpit by one of those brutes, a bat’leth at your throat and a disruptor against your temple and you’d think you’d murdered the high chancellor.

Officer Vick’Eh wasn’t about to listen to my side.

“Tell her I’m innocent!”

Science Officer Alfie barked a reply. Of course his own language can’t be processed by the universal translator and the officer only gave him the Klingon stink eye (an intimidation tactic perfected by none other than Galron.) He cowered as any failed red shirt would. I became aware I didn’t have anyone in the crew to take the imminent disruptor blast for me.

I offered the only Klingon I knew. “Ka’plop!”

She snarled. I Kaplopped her again, for good measure, and she dragged me to my feet.

“You will make good work, human. Clean this mess up.” She swung her Bat’Leth toward the twenty mile swath of destruction Discovery had cut through the swamp.

***

The very minute my sentence ended, I raced to the cockpit shouting orders. “Get in the shuttle! No time to dock, just follow me! Hurry!”

My First Officer raised her face from her mug of coffee, eyes bugging, nostrils flared, lip arched in a fierce snarl. I shrank into the captain’s chair. Apparently, we’d been among the Klingons far too long.

“Or, just, you know, finish your coffee.”

Finally ready to disembark, we bid our fellow prison colonists, I mean workers, goodbye and soared out of dock at full impulse!

Science Officer Alfie is shaking his head. Since nobody is wandering the back and forth on the bridge with bacon, I have to accept this as a “no.”

A quarter impulse? An eighth? More head shakes.

Hold on, let me check the computer banks. Huh. Fine.

We roared out of the docks at one thirty seconds impulse! Undeterred by the flashing lights and crawling speeds, I nudged my current co-pilot.

“Science Officer Alfie give me Warp speed! Engage!”

Discovery bucked. The rear nacelle spat a cloud of radioactive waste. The shuttle, in our wake, swerved to avoid it.

“You’re going to piss off the Klingons again!” said my First Officer over the comms. “Maybe I should open a channel with Vick’Eh about this toxic spill you need to clean.”

Oh no, I wouldn’t give in that easily. My First Officer had clearly acclimated to this warrior culture. I could expect treason and hostile takeovers from here on. I had to establish dominance.

Dangling the coffee maker out the window, I opened a channel to the shuttle. “Go ahead, Number One. Go right ahead. Make that call.”

I could see the weird Klingon facial contortions overcoming her in the side mirror and looked away before they had a chance to dissuade me. I tried again for warp speed and the instrument panel exploded with warnings. Science Officer Alfie raised an eyebrow.

“We’re going to make it,” I insisted. “Divert all power to engines!” I shouted, flicking the cockpit window open wider and sucking in the slow moving air. “Kill life support if you have to! We’ve got to get -“

Suddenly, the instrument panels wee ablaze with light. Gilbert Gottfried cackled warnings throughout the cabin. We’d spontaneously gone to red alert.

“Hold on!” I shouted, throwing myself around in the Captain’s chair for emphasis. “We’ve got a warp core breach!”

The science officer yowled. Discovery shuddered. Then she sputtered to a stop.

We were adrift.

The Admiral, he’d been right. I didn’t need a starship. Maybe I wasn’t a captain after all. Maybe I should’ve studied something else at the Academy. Astrogation. Argonian mating habits. Or tried to get into the Daystrom Institute. Damn, why hadn’t I thought of that? I could be swimming in android helpers right now, feet up, a single malt Romulan Ale in my hand, while they figured all this crap out.

That’s right, I’ve got crew for this kind of thing.

“Science Officer Alfie, I need the rear nacelle back online!”

Science Officer Alfie lowered his head between his paws. His own racial body language meant to control and manipulate. His big puppy eyes gazed up…

“No! Not gonna work.”

He gave a soft whine.

“Fine! I’ll fix it!” I said storming toward the airlock. I grabbed the bulkhead as I swung out into space and gave him one last look. “But you’re not getting treats.” I attempted a Klingon snarl and something in my face tweaked painfully. “Ow. I mean, ow.”

When my First Officer arrived, I was taking a hammer to the warp nacelle. An old trick I learned in the Academy.

“Can’t we just contact-“

“We can’t contact the Klingons! They’ll have us scrubbing toilets. Have you ever seen a Klingon toilet? They eat nothing but live food. Half of it doesn’t even die in their digestive tract.”

“I was going to say contact our neighbors, the entity known as M. As part of the Continuum, they’ve got weird universe bending powers, they can do anything.”

“Oh, sure,” I said, taking another solid whack at the nacelle. “Well, if their so powerful, why couldn’t we just have them magic us out of this prison colony, huh?”

My First Officer averted her gaze sheepishly.

Was she serious? Five months and we could’ve just *poof* been gone? “Son of a…fine, open a channel. Let’s see what the Magic M can do.”

Five minutes later, the entity known as M had diagnosed the problem.

“Unrefined dilthium in your warp core.”

Maybe I didn’t recall all of my engineering electives in Starfleet, but the idea sounded good.

“We’ve got bad gas?” I asked.

You’ve got bad gas,” Number One interjected. Science Officer Alfie nodded.

“Grow up, commander! How do we fix it, M? Core swap or just a realignment of the dilthium matrix?”

I heard fingers snapping over the comms. “Already done,” he said. Smugly. Too smugly.

Skeptical, I asked the Science Officer to put the engines back online. Discovery purred like she’d just set out on her maiden voyage.

Happy to be underway, I realized the deal I’d made had to come with strings upon strings attached. Members of the Continuum were notorious for their meddling in Federation affairs.

“Thanks, M. We’ll just be on our way.”

A sudden flash of light and the binary entity known as M stood on the bridge, the two halves orbiting each other. They spoke of the same voice.

“Whatever do you mean? You never left to begin with! This was all a holodeck accident and you’re still right here, in the penal colony with us!”

My eyes went wide. Number One smiled madly. M started an evil laugh from deep in his belly.

“Come on,” he said, “you know that hunk of junk doesn’t have a holodeck.” He leaned in close, wiggling his fingers. “But trust me, you’ll be back.”

“Not in your lifetime.”

“I’m immortal.”

Irritated, I flicked on the shields and M flickered out of existence. Grabbing the navigational controls, we went right for warp nine. Finally, to boldly go again. Explore strange new worlds. To go where no man has gone before!

Number One snarled.



Categories: Discovery

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