The U.S.S. Secondprize arrived more or less on time at Stevia II, and Captain Clerk was ready to just get the whole thing over with. It was bad enough that he had to do a hostage negotiation (after having only made a D in Negotiation Tactics at the Academy), but it was for Jed Jenkins of all people. After an hour or two of repeating to himself "I am motivated to do this. I am motivated to do this" he was finally ready. He assembled an away party, including Rind (to keep things in order) and Shenanigans (for intimidation), then steeled himself for his next task:

Dealing with the transporter operator.

Despite the Fleet's latest advances in android technology, the resident transporter operator was an actual robot. No fake skin, no attempt to emulate human functions, just a bipedal hunk of metal. With a lisp. His name was CUL8R, and his perennially-rusted exterior was at least mostly covered by his uniform.

Clerk and company walked into the transporter room, in a hurry because they only had about five minutes until the meeting.

"Five to beam down, CUL8R."

"Yeth thir. Thix to beam down. Thith ith at the entranth on the wetht thide, right?"

That was west, wasn't it? "Yes. That's correct."

"Coordinateth thet in, thir."


In a flash of light, CUL8R disappeared from the room, leaving everybody on the transporter pad.

"Um... thir?" said a nervous robotic voice via communicator. "Thorry thir. I mixthed up the thwitcheth."

"And you know Fleet Regulation 86, paragraph vii outlines strict penalties for leaving one's post without authorization," Shen chimed in.

"One more stunt like this and I'll have your hard drive formatted," Clerk said as he walked over to the console.


Once everybody was safe and secure in Negotiation Room A-116, they all sat down at the table, Clerk and the landing party on one side, and Otto and his two cohorts on the other side.

"I guess we should all introduce ourselves," Clerk suggested.

"Fair enough. As you know, I am Otto."

"My name is Mattik," said the individual to Otto's right.

I could have guessed that one.

The other masked cohort kept silent, sitting there bashfully, head lowered a bit.

"Well?" Clerk asked. "What's your name?"

"I'm Benny."

"Now, tell me about your crew here," Otto said, gesturing towards the Fleet Officers facing him.

"Naturally, I'm Captain Clerk. To my left is my Yeoman, Janet Rind, and our Chief Intelligence Officer, Shenanigans. To my right is my Security Chief, Wharf, and Ensign Rann Dome, one of our finest Redshirts."

"And who's this clown?" Otto said, pointing to the door.


Clerk turned around to see Ensign Kazoo standing alone at the door.

"What are you doing here, Kazoo?"

"I thought this was the Botany Survey Mission."

"No, this is the Hostage Negotiation Mission."

"I'm in the wrong episode, aren't I?"

"Yeah, sorry."

"Okay, I'll beam back up right away."

Turning back to Otto, Clerk began. "Now, let's--"

Immediately Otto banged his fist down on the table and began to shout. "WE WILL REQUIRE TWO OF YOUR SHUTTLES AND 10,000 FLEET CREDITS!"

"Whoa, whoa, hold on there, guy. We--"


"Dude! Enough shouting! Let's keep this civil."

"You think that we're going to give up such a great mind so easily?"

"Well, I guess not..." Clerk replied. "But I don't think you realize what--"


Sighing in exasperation, Clerk stood up. "Guys, you can just keep him for all I care."

"What?" exclaimed everybody else in unison.

Rind jumped up and pulled Clerk aside. "Shhhhh!" she whispered. "You can't just say that."

"Look, I've about had it with this whole deal. I'm tired, I haven't had supper yet, CSI: Qo'noS is on, and it's Jenkins. Do we really want to go through all this for--"

"Somebody you recently described as a 'valuable member of our crew'?"

You picked a fine time to start listening to me. "Fine," Clerk replied. "But only because--"

"Alright then. Now shut up and get to it."

Clerk bit his tongue to keep himself from letting out a sarcastic "Yes sir!"

"Now that we are negotiating again," Otto continued. "I must tell you that if we do not get what we ask for, within 24 hours, we will execute your beloved Admiral!"

"Listen, he's--"

"Cap'm! Cap'm!" shouted Jenkins. "Don't let em kill me, Cap'm!"

"He's not an admiral!"

Otto sat there silently, blinking. "Excuse me?"

"He's just our maintenance guy. His name is Jed Jenkins, and the only brush with greatness he's ever had is sweeping out our conference rooms."

"Your bluffing will not work, Captain. I know who he is."

"Seriously, you guys." Clerk broke out a couple of photographs with bios attached. "This is Admiral Horace J'henkins, and this is Head of Maintenance Jed Jenkins. Guess which one you have tied up over there."

Perusing the photographs, Otto whispered to Mattik. "We seriously need to work on our intelligence. This won't fly with--" Otto stopped as soon as he realized Clerk could hear him. "Ahem. Well... uh... I guess we can... let him go..."

"That'd be great," Clerk said flatly.

Everybody got up as Benny went over and untied Jenkins. As his landing party made their way to the door, Clerk stood face-to-face with Otto and Mattik.

"Are you guys from the Fleet Foreign Legion?"

"What?" Otto exclaimed. "No! No, no, no..."

Mattik joined in, "No, no!"

Otto leaned in close and said in a deep, low voice, "No."

"Listen here, you twerps," Clerk said, pointing his finger right in Otto's face. "Get out of here right now before I report you to your superiors."

"Yes, sir... uh, Captain. Sir."

"And work on your tactics. I've got redshirts that could have negotiated better than that."


With Jenkins finally freed, the landing party beamed back up to the ship. Finally, Clerk could get back to asking Jenkins if he could fix the DVR on the Bridge.

"Where to next, Captain?" asked Ensign Tolstoy, pleased as punch to be in the navigator seat.

"Back to Venetian IV. The Brunch is tomorrow morning."

"Yes, sir!"