It was dark. The Creature had no problem with that. It moved along quietly across the carpeted floor, zeroing in on its target. It crawled across the bedroom floor. Soon it was on top of the bed. Its claws began to dig in...

"AHHHH!" yelled Captain Clerk, who quickly reached for the light switch. The lights came on, revealing a 6-month-old Kurilian Bobtail cat, who was, much to the Captain's chagrin, all too familiar.

Sighing, he reached for the communicator. "Clerk to Transporter Room."

"Yes, Captain?"

"Ensign Tolstoy's cat has gotten out again."

"Yes sir." The cat vanished in a flash of light.

Clerk looked at the time. It was 5:31am, about an hour before his alarm was set to go off. Figures. Might as well get up and head to the Infirmary and get a head start on acclimating Dr. Flüshaht.

He arrived at the Infirmary (or Sick Bay, or Medical Area, or whatever they were calling it this week) to find Flüshaht already inside, arguing with the ship's computer. No surprise there.

"No, I haven't read it. I don't have time for that junk. Just upgrade the stupid thing!" the Doctor was yelling.

"Need any help?" Clerk asked sarcastically.

"Well," Flüshaht sighed, "I've been trying to use the stupid Downloadable Doctor for about an hour now, and this thing keeps telling me a new version is available, and that I should upgrade it."

"So what's the problem?"

"Well it's got these silly Terms and Conditions or whatever, and I don't have time to read all that! It's about 500 pages long and written in a foreign language that looks deceptively like English."

Clerk held back the laughter as best he could. "Don't worry," he said. "We've got a guy from Legal that reads those things."

Since the Legal Department practically never slept, it was a safe bet that Commander Youlla was already up. Clerk called, and sure enough, Youlla was there within 15 minutes, getting through all the popups so they could do the upgrade.

Within minutes, the Downloadable Doctor appeared. "Version at your service!"

Flüshaht looked at it in disgust. "Can we get an upgrade to get this software some more hair? Surely we've got some remedies for--"

"Don't worry about that, Doctor," interrupted the Captain. "Just learn how to use it."

Flüshaht grumbled. "Fine."

"You two play nicely," said the Captain as he headed for the door.

"Where are you going?"

"I need to check up on the Bord situation. They're detained right now, and I think they're trying some therapy, on Jenkins at least."

"You need to beam them punks off the ship and get away! They're--"

"Dangerous, I know," Clerk replied, holding up a hand. At that, he turned and exited.

Flüshaht sighed. "Nobody ever listens to me." He turned to the Downloadable Doctor. "I suppose you won't either."

"Is that your desired course of action?" the amiable software replied.

"Don't you get started with me, you lousy pile of ones and zeroes!"


Captain Clerk arrived at the Bingo Room Brig to find a gaggle of Security Officers, buffered by layer after layer of duct-taped sheet metal, padding, and anything else they could find, standing around, looking very worried.

"Do I want to know what's going on?" the Captain asked.

"Well, sir," Ensign Rann Dome said, stepping forward. "The situation is worsening."


"They're infectious, sir. You get anywhere near them, and they get you. We've lost 7 crew members to this plague already."

"Can I see?" Clerk said, looking for a vantage point.

"Right here, sir," Rann Dome replied, pointing to a small monitor mounted off to the side. Clerk looked at it, seeing a rather depressing-looking group of guys moping around the small room.

"Has any of the treatment worked?"

"No, sir," the Ensign said, disappointed. "We've tried everything: classical music, fashionable clothing, even sunlamps -- to no effect. They're bound and determined to be gloomy and dour, and to bring us all down with them."

"Understood. So, what's with all the extra barriers?"

"That's how infectious they are, sir. It's been all we can do to keep them from affecting anybody who gets anywhere near the door."

"Wow... that bad, eh?"

"Yes, sir. And getting worse as time goes on."

"Okay, well... keep me posted. We're getting close to the starbase, and we gotta have this contained and dealt with before then."

"Aye, sir!"

Clerk moved to the other side of the room and got out his communicator. "Clerk to Port Room."

"Wharf here."

"How are things going down there?"

"It's still pretty bad, sir. We haven't been able to patch things through, and it's backing up even faster than before."

"What are our options?" Clerk asked, though he was almost afraid to hear the answer.

"Well, there are really only two, Captain. Let this thing blow, taking the bottom deck with it, or try and salvage it by routing the pipes through here."

"Which is cheaper?"

Wharf thought for a second. "Well, we're talking either plumbing installation or ship repair. It's gonna be an arm and a leg either way."

"No kidding. We'll have to talk to Accounting and see what they're willing to fund, and get somebody down there for an estimate." I feel sorry for whoever gets to do that. "Changing the subject, have you found any other intruders down there?"

"No, sir. We've checked everywhere, and there's nobody in sight. Oh, and the ceiling's been patched as well."

"All right. Anyways, as soon as you can get away from there, I need you to meet me in the Infirmary."

"You mean Sick Bay?"

"Did they change it again?"

"Yes, sir, it was in this morning's email."

Clerk sighed in frustration. "Okay, well, anyways, meet me up there ASAP."

"Why there?"

"Dr. Flüshaht is up there getting trained on the new software, and this is the closest we can get to a Senior Officers Meeting right now." How this many higher-ups got vacation time simultaneously infuriated Captain Clerk.

"Dr. Flüshaht? Didn't he die last season?"

"No, he wound up on one of the new upper decks somehow."

"Oh, that's right. I vaguely recall seeing his name on the report. I'll be up in about 15 minutes."

"Thanks, Wharf. Clerk out."

The Captain walked back over to the monitor, which now showed thirteen people in the room, including Ensign Dome. He also noticed a few more layers of padding had been duct-taped onto the door.

Poor guys. Like we don't have enough problems on this ship already.

"Keep me posted," the Captain informed the current Security Officer on duty.

"Yes sir!"

With a nod, Clerk left the room to head for Dr. Flüshaht's location, whatever it was called.