Meanwhile, on another ship called Secondprize...

Captain Willie T. Wrecker stood in front of the bathroom mirror, nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. It was the morning of the first day of his first starship command. Sure, he was getting the Secondprize 2.0[beta], the big shiny new ship that was going to be the testing ground for all new technologies (thereby guaranteeing that something would be broken at all times), but still... a command is a command, and his four fateful weeks as Captain Clerk's First Officer were now ancient history. Not that he would ever hear the end of it anytime soon. Today, however, he faced one of the most monumental career decisions he'd ever have to make, one he'd dreaded ever since he got the assignment, but that he knew was inevitable:

To beard, or not to beard?

The decision stared him right in the face. Certainly he wanted to make a good impression, both on the crew, and on Admiral Placãrd, who was there to see them off (and get a ride to Starbase K-9 while he was at it).

I mean, the rugged look is in... it'd show them I'm strong, fearless...

He stroked his precisely-trimmed-well-within-regulation beard as he contemplated its fate.

But on the other hand, a clean face would present the look of a fresh-faced, youthful, energetic leader...

Then he grimaced. Here I am, talking to myself again. Dr. Troy -- I mean, ahem, Mrs. Wrecker -- would get onto me if she knew I was--

Suddenly, Captain Clerk's question, "Wait, you're marrying your therapist? You're sure this is a good idea?" finally made sense.

His second alarm went off. Decision Time. He steeled himself and grabbed his sonic razor.

Let's do this.


The elevator doors opened to a moderately busy Bridge. With a smile on his smooth, clean face, he surveyed the scene. The earth-tones color scheme would take some getting used to, of course (what with the Fleet's penchant for using the gray-with-primary-color-accents look more or less everywhere), but all in all, he was happy with what he saw.

The wood paneling's got to go, though. That's just a bit much.

He began to saunter over to the command chair, and had gotten about halfway there when a very nervous ensign stopped him.

"S-s-s-s-sir," the ensign began, "I-I-I hope I'm not out of line here, but I'm wondering why you're not wearing the Command jumpsuit."

"What do you mean?"

"Y-y-you're wearing yellow, sir. As Captain, you should be wearing red."

"No... Command is yellow. Always has been."

"Not anymore, Willie," said Admiral Placãrd, who was making his way across the Bridge towards the new Captain. "It's another change the Fleet is trying out. They're switching the Command and Ops colors. You'll be wearing red from now on."

"You gotta be kidding me," Wrecker replied, arms akimbo. "They're going to make all captains into redshirts?"

"Shhhhh!" Placãrd hurriedly corrected, waving his hands frantically. "You're not supposed to say that anymore."

"What's the word, then? Away-team-impaired?"

"No no no no no. There's no new word. They're just switching up the colors to try and eliminate the stigma. We've been losing recruits fast lately. As soon as their uniforms come in, they jump ship at the first starbase they get to."

Something sounds aquatic about this.

"Don't worry," Placãrd said reassuringly. "I had a feeling you might make this mistake. There's been a lot of confusion over it. I put a spare uniform for you in your Ready Room."

"Thank you, Admiral," Captain Wrecker replied, trying not to sound nervous. Time to change the subject. "So... is my First Officer on his, her, or its way?

"Should be here soon, I believe."

"That's good." Whew. Dodged a phaser blast there. Almost forgot to say "or its". Glad I re-reviewed the Workplace Sensitivity Manual last night.

"Well, I've got some things to do, Willie, so I'll be going now. I'll call you when we'll be heading out."

"Yes, sir. Helmsman, you have the Bridge. I'll be in the Ready Room if anybody needs me."

Without wasting a second, Wrecker quickly walked to his office. He immediately changed uniforms, and, after taking a deep breath, sat down to pick up his FleetPadTM to begin reviewing the ship's upcoming assignments. The atmosphere was so serene that he didn't even notice the sound of the door opening.

"You shaved off your beard?!"

This was a sound he definitely noticed. Looking up, he saw N-Diana Wrecker (née Troy), Ph.D., his wife.

"Uh... um... well, yeah. I thought it would look more... professional."

"Professional? You look like a 14-year-old."

Sigh. Everybody keeps saying that. Note to self: quit going beardless. "Fine. I'll grow it back. You know it'll take me an entire season, though."

"Whatever," N-Diana said with the customary eye roll.

"So... what are you doing here, anyways? I thought you weren't going to be here for another few weeks."

"You didn't get my text?"

"Your what? Oh. Well, I had my communicator turned off so it would charge faster."

"Mmm-hmm. Tell me another one."

Pick your battles, Willie. "Forget it. So... I take it you're my First Officer?"


"Then what are we doing?"

Knowing how crazy it was going to sound, Troy-Wrecker braced herself for what she was about to say. "We're... co-captaining."


"Just roll with it. It's another new Fleet experiment. Like everything else on this ship."

Willie T. shifted in his seat. "Ohhhhh-kay. So... how exactly does co-captaining work?"

"You do whatever I say."

"I do that anyways."

"Then it'll be no problem, right, Captain?"

Sigh. "Yes dear -- I mean, Captain." If I'd have known this was going to happen, I could have just stayed with Captain Clerk.

"Placãrd to Captain Wrecker," a familiar voice came over the intercom.

"Yes," both Wreckers uttered in unison.

"We have our departure orders now. Time to head to Starbase K-9."

"Aye, sir." The response, once again, was in stereo. The two looked at each other awkwardly, then silently left the room together.

Placãrd got up from his desk, giggling a little. "Now I remember why I stuck around for the launch."