The Space Cloud slowly moved away, disappointed that it didn't move any merchandise, but unable to resist due to Klaa'ck's effective mind-melting.

Well, that was mildly exciting. Hope it helped the ratings.

"Captain," said Lt. Kato, fiddling with the device in her ear, attempting in vain to make it feel reasonably comfortable. "There's a message coming in for you from Fleet Headquarters. On a private channel."

Clerk sighed. The last thing he needed was more bad news.

"I'll answer it in my quarters," he said, getting up out of his seat. If some bigwig is going to gloat over our imminent demise, I'd at least like to be comfortable.


Settling in on his couch with a bottle of Fleetade®, Clerk finally turned on the monitor in front of him.

"Clerk here."

The never-quite-smiling face of Admiral Placãrd appeared on the screen, sitting comfortably in his office, sipping on a hot beverage of some sort.

"It's about time you answered, Jimi. I was beginning to think you'd taken a look at the Caller ID and made a run for it."

"Well, I wasn't exactly excited about a private message from the Headquarters, especially after the day I've had. But you know I'll always take your calls, sir."

"Still keeping bees, eh?" Placãrd said as he listened to the constant buzz in the background. "I'd hoped you'd have given that up long ago."

"Oh, I can't give that up. Those bees are the only things on this ship that even come close to obeying my orders."

Placãrd nodded his head. "I can understand that. I kept fish myself. That is, until the food supplies ran out while we were on a long-range mission."

Clerk's nervousness at speaking to his mentor just kicked up a notch.

"Say," the Captain said, trying to change the subject. "What'cha drinking?"

"Oh, come on, Jimi. Do you really have to ask?"

"Sorry, sir, I was just--"

"It's chamomile tea."

I'll never understand you, Admiral. One of these days I'll give up trying.

"So," the Admiral said, changing his tone of voice to that dreaded Serious Tone. "I've heard about your ratings problem."

"Yeah, I imagine it's all over the news by now."

"Well? What are you doing about it?"

Clerk shrugged. "To be honest, we haven't had much time to even think about it. While we were having a meeting to discuss it, we had a Red Alert due to a Space Cloud."

"One of those black market dealer ones?"


Placãrd put down his empty tea cup. "Oh. I can't stand those things. A bit interesting, but that won't help you out here. You need something bigger. Especially because this is your season finale."

"I know, I know. If you've got a suggestion, I'm all ears."

Placãrd smiled somewhat mischievously. "Two words, mon petit capitaine." Pause for dramatic effect. "Time travel."

An ancient Earth device called a "light bulb" came on over Clerk's head. Time travel? Of course! Why didn't I think of that? I can't believe we've made it through this many seasons without any time travel!

Seeing his protégé's visage light up, Admiral Placãrd continued. "That's probably the best you can do on short notice. Anything else will require too much planning, and probably a bigger budget than you're working with."

Clerk became confused. "Well... what do we need for time travel? I mean, that sounds pretty big, in and of itself."

"Not at all. It's pretty commonplace in the Fleet. You know that, Jimi. The Secondprize has a Time Travel Department, I'm sure. In fact, if I recall correctly, Lt. Rosemary Crony is the person in charge. She's proven time and again to be one of the best time travel experts the Fleet has to offer.

Thank you, Admiral J. L. Placãrd, the ever-ready punster.


Within the hour, Captain Clerk, Lt. Whatsisname, and Lt. Cmdr. Cecil made their way together to the Time Travel Department area, which was located in an office across from the portrait studio.

"Greetings, Captain. How can I help you?"

"Well, Lt. Cr--"

"Rosemary, if you please."

She's her mother's daughter, alright. Ugh. That reminds me. I need to setup my next appointment.

"Sorry," Clerk continued. "We are getting ready for a time travel mission, and we need to get going ASAP."

"Okay..." Lt. Rosemary said skeptically. "What's the mission?"

"Higher ratings."

Rosemary sighed loudly. "Not again," she said under her breath.

Clerk, Whatsisname, and Cecil all looked at each other in confusion.

"So... you have no set destination?"

"Well," Clerk stammered. "I've probably got a few time periods I'm interested in, but I hadn't actually picked one out. I figured we'd just go for whichever one is easier, or, maybe, whichever one will get us the best reaction."

Rosemary crossed her arms and frowned.

"What?" said Clerk.

"Never mind. So what's our Chief Engineer doing here?"


"Fine. Whatever. So... this is for ratings?"

"Yes," Clerk replied. "We recently got put on notice. If we can't get ratings up, we're at risk for cancellation."

"I'm assuming the letter-writing campaign didn't pan out?"

"We're trying other options at the moment."

Rosemary turned around and began pacing around her office. "Well, time travel is a tried and true old standby. Many a great episode has been--"

"Let's cut to the chase," Clerk butted in. "What do we need to do and how does it work?"

She shot a piercing glance his way. "Well, the standard method is pretty simple: we slingshot around whatever star is nearby, at Warp Factor 8.8, and the time travel circuits take care of the rest."

"Time travel circuits? What do you mean?"

"They're what puts you in a specific time period. Otherwise, you just wind up somewhere at random. But... I wouldn't recommend doing any time travel right now."

"Why not?" Whatsisname asked.

"These are brand new circuits, and we haven't had time to fully test them. Technically, we could try it now, but I would strongly advise against it. It's not safe until we do more tests."

"Well," Clerk replied, "the problem is, we don't have time for any testing. It's already the season finale, and we're going to have to do it now if we're going to have any immediate impact."

"It can't wait?"

"I really don't want to risk cancellation. We have to take action immediately."

Rosemary sighed again. "May I log an official complaint?"

"Noted in the Ship's Log, Lieutenant," said Whatsisname, looking up from his clipboard.

"Just set it for a couple of centuries back and see what happens," Clerk said with a shrug. "I mean, come on. Wherever we wind up, I'm sure we'll probably wind up meeting somebody cool anyways."

Lt. Rosemary had to hold back the urge to facepalm.

"So... can you get on that?"

"Right away, sir," she said disapprovingly.

"Cool! Let's go, guys."

Clerk, Whatsisname, and Cecil turned and left the Time Travel Office, ready to get going.

"Don't say I didn't warn you!" Rosemary shouted down the hall.


"Attention, everyone, this is your Captain speaking," Clerk said over the ship's intercom. "We are embarking on a time travel mission, which will be totally sweet and will get us out of this low-ratings situation for sure. So, stay calm, keep your arms and legs inside the starship at all times, and get ready for the episodes of your lives!"

"All stations report go for launch, sir." Wharf said, looking up from the Security Station's display.

"Good. Helmsman, engage time circuits."

"Time circuits engaged."

"All righty," Clerk said a little nervously. "Take the first star on the left, and... go for it!"

"Going for it at... Warp 1... Warp 2... Warp 3..."

The room got tense as the helmsman continued his count.

"Warp 4... Warp 5... Warp 6..."

The star in front of them filled the screen. Clerk wanted to change the channel, but he lost the remote a few weeks ago.

"Warp 7... Warp 8... 8.1... 8.2... 8.3... 8.4..."

Does everybody do this every time they do time travel? Seems kinda tedious.

"8.5... 8.6... 8.7... 8.8!"

The stars blurred around them as the Secondprize launched into Time Warp for the first time since Captain Bobby February retired...