“Harold is my father’s name, thank you very much,” Percy Sludge sneered, brandishing a phaser and slowly starting to step back. “And if you don’t mind, I’ll be going now.”
“Just what are you trying to pull off here, anyways?” Captain Clerk demanded.
“Duh, escape. I’m trying to evade arrest. Are you always this obtuse? Seriously guys, is he always this obtuse?”
“No, I mean, overall… here on this planet. You couldn’t stir up enough trouble where you came from, so you had to seek out the most wretched hive of scum and villainy you could find?”
“Well, to be honest, I only came here because the Intergalactic Karaoke Guild has no jurisdiction here. It’s one of the few places I have left to go to. The fact that this is a primarily black-market planet actually almost deterred me. I was about to have to resort to setting up a legitimate establishment. Anyways, enough talk. I’m outta here.”
“What is it now, Captain Jerk? Are you stalling or something?”
“You’re not fooling me! I know you’re up to something!” Flustered, Percy turned around…
…to find Ensign Rann Dome standing there, holding a rather large rock over his head.
“You probably should put that phaser down, Mr. Sludge.”
Percy did so, and as soon as Wharf got it out of his reach, Dome put down the rock.
“So, stalling until the big guy with the rock got over here, eh?”
“Actually, he’s been there for quite a while.”
“Yeah, I got here right about the time you started kicking the door.”
Confused, Percy turned back to Clerk. “So why were you stalling?”
“I just wanted to see how long he could hold that thing above his head. I just figured he’d disarm you as soon as he got tired of holding it.”
“So he wasn’t–”
“It’s against Fleet protocol to take people out with rocks. My ensigns know that.”
“Yeah, I was just getting bored waiting on you to try and make your escape, so I was going for the Stupidly Holding a Large Rock Over Your Head Record.”
“You missed it by about 17 seconds,” said Wharf.
“Better luck next time, Ensign.”
“Mind if I practice some more while you finish making your arrest, sir?”
“Go for it.”
As Klaa’ck went over to give Rann Dome some lifting tips, Clerk did the usual rights-reading and signaled the ship for beaming.
“This is an outrage!”
“Totally,” said Clerk. “I was really hoping he’d break that record.”
“But we’ve just finished changing it back into the Bingo Room, sir!”
“Sorry, Jenkins, but we’ve got a bona fide prisoner now.”
“Alrighty, I’m on it.”
While they waited for the brig to get cleared out, Clerk, Klaa’ck, Whatsisname and Sludge sat in a nearby conference room and talked.
“So let me get this straight,” Clerk said, head in hands. “You came to Alpha Beta II, the most corrupt society in the known universe, an environment in which you would be expected to thrive better than anywhere else… to set up an above-board, legitimate, by-the-books trading establishment?”
“Yes, Captain. A record store, to be exact.”
“And you’re expecting me to believe that story?”
“You can believe it if you wish, my dear Jimbo, but it’s the truth. Going against the grain is the Sludge way, and I’m not a man who breaks family tradition!”
“Well, seeing as you come from a long line of karaoke singers, I hardly think–”
“Bad karaoke singers, Captain! We have a right to be as off-key as we want! It’s not our fault the Guild is oppressing us.”
“So you went from singing to black-market commerce?”
“Seemed logical to me,” Percy said with a shrug.
Clerk looked at Klaa’ck.
Don’t ask. He’ll probably make up another song or something. “We’ve been asked to take you in, so I won’t hear any excuses you’ve got. Your police record for the last six months alone is enough to incarcerate you until I retire. So, whether or not you were there to set up a ‘legit’ business, you’re on your way to prison.”
“Fine. Have it your way. You won’t get to see it then.”
“Nothing. Forget I said anything.”
“You’re just trying to mess with me.”
“Mess with you, nothing. I saw it.”
“No, you’ve got your whole I’m-arresting-you thing going on. Never you mind about the underground city.”
“Underground city? There’s no–”
“Have it your way.”
I’m going to regret this. “Percy, what underground city are you talking about? And no shenanigans this time. You’re not in a position to bargain.”
“That’s what you think, Captain. It’s there, alright, and I can get you in, but you’ll have to let me go back there.”
“What are you talking about? And what makes you so sure–”
“Because you’re not out here to get me, you dope. You’re after him. He’s set up a whole new racket down there. Underground. And if you want to see him, I’m your ticket in.”