Clerk and Wharf boarded the elevator, hoping they could at least get there in time to explain something before the ship got decommissioned.

"Deck W, please," ordered the Captain.


"You know, The Port."

"Oh, right, right."

"Um... we're not moving," Clerk finally spoke after several seconds had passed.

"You're not going to make me go down there again are you? I still feel--"

"Listen here, Elevator. You take us down there right now, at full speed, with no stops, or I will see to it personally that you are dismantled as soon as this is all over, and reconstituted on Alpha Beta IV as an outhouse. Right now, the Admiral is on his way there, and if we don't--"

"Duh. Of course I know he's down there. I took him there."

"Right! And if we don't--"

"I explained the whole thing to him."

"If we don't-- wait, you what?? You told him all about the--"

"Yeah. Dude was pretty upset about it too. That's what I'm saying, Captain. You don't want to go down there."

Clerk and Wharf looked at each other. The elevator did have a point.

"Captain," Wharf said after a few seconds. "He's going to have our hides anyways. We can either enter the fray and go down like warriors, or run and hide like cowards."

Always a battle analogy. "Look, Elevator, just take us there, okay? Wharf has a metaphorical point here. Let's get this over with. I want my death to be quick and painless."

"You'll go down like a redshirt!" the elevator protested.

At that, Captain Clerk took in a deep breath, stood straight and tall, and gave his order.

"Bring it on."


Clerk and Wharf arrived at the Port Room to see Flüshaht and Rind standing nervously outside the door. Through the glass they could see Admiral Nezbomb standing in front of the observation window. Unfortunately, the area had not yet been cleaned up.

"What took you two so long?" Flüshaht asked.

"Elevator trouble," Clerk responded. "So you two haven't gone in yet?"

"We've been afraid to," said Rind. "When we first got here, he was pacing back and forth, yelling... we couldn't tell what he was saying but it sure wasn't happy. Then suddenly... he just stopped."


"Yeah, right where he is now. He stopped pacing around, and just relaxed," Flüshaht said, pointing to where Nezbomb now stood.

Clerk sighed. It was the moment of truth. "Well... I've gotta go in there."

"I don't think that's a good idea, Jimi," said Flüshaht, holding him back. "You don't know what he'll do."

"I know," Clerk said with resignation. "But this is my responsibility. I have to do this."

"Responsibility? It's not your fault this happened!"

"Actually, Doc, it is. It's that captainy stuff, y'know. 'A captain is responsible for his crew' and all that."

"I agree," said Wharf. "Still, one or more of us should accompany you, for support."

"No, Wharf, I'm his protégé--"

"And his favorite punching bag," Flüshaht interrupted.

"Correct. I must face him... alone."

"It's been nice working with you, Jimi," Flüshaht said, beginning to tear up a bit.

"And with you as well," Clerk replied.

After a group hug, the Captain turned to face his destiny. He slowly walked into the Port Room and stood right beside Nezbomb. As he turned to look at the Admiral's face, he saw an expression he did not expect to see: not only was he not angry, he was practically bereft of all emotion whatsoever. The only thing left was a mild confused look, as if he just couldn't process what his eyes were seeing.

Once Admiral Nezbomb noticed the Captain's presence, he turned to him and spoke. "Oh hey, Jimi," he said calmly, as if greeting an old friend. But he was distant, as if still reeling from the shock.

"Sir, I apologize for all this. I--"

Nezbomb raised his hand. "No... it's okay," he said. "It's okay."

"Are you... sure, Admiral? I mean, with all the--"

"Yeah..." Nezbomb's expression lightened up. He even smiled a bit. "It's all good. The mess, the bees, the Klingon boxing, the Gorn... I'm... I'm okay with this.

Clerk nearly had to pick his jaw up off the floor. Now he was in shock... until it hit him...

We've broken him.

"Sir, this is very magnanimous of you, but--"

"Call me Mike."

"Okay... Mike..." the Captain fumbled. "But you're... I mean, how did you..."

"I dunno Jimi... I just realized what a wreck you've got here... and you're just the man to captain this wreck."

Clerk wasn't sure if he'd just been complimented or insulted.

"Say Jimi... how's about you and I go explore those new upper decks? That sounds like fun."

Clerk smiled. He's... he's serious. "Sure. I've been wanting to have a good look myself."

The pair walked out of the room with smiles on their faces, arm in arm like brothers.

Janet Rind fainted.


Clerk and Nezbomb spent the rest of the week checking out the various levels above the bridge, talking with the locals, trying out all the pizza places, overseeing the beauty salon construction, and just really bonding in a way they never had. They even tried Quirk's special burangabeast pizza. It's not half bad, really.

As the Admiral was making his way off the ship, Captain Clerk caught up with him. "Adm-- I mean, Mike?"

"Yeah, Jimi?"

You know, someday I might get used to that nickname. "I was wondering what kind of report you're gonna give. You did say it's a wreck."

"I know," Nezbomb said reluctantly. "I guess I'll say... 'Same As It Ever Was'."

"Thank you, sir."

"No, Jimi... thank you. I haven't been this chill in years. I think I might actually go on vacation this year."

"Send me a holocard if you do."

"You betcha," Admiral Nezbomb said as he waved to everybody on his way through the airlock. Clerk was sure he was going to be accused of staging a transporter accident or something, but nobody seemed to mind this New-and-Improved Admiral Nezbomb.

I think this is gonna be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Now all he had to do was meet his new First Officer...