The elevator doors had scarcely opened when the Secondprize suddenly lurched forward, preventing Captain Clerk from setting his foot down on the floor of the Bridge as he intended. Brow furrowed, he picked himself off the floor, wondering what the top speed for which the inertial dampeners were rated was.

Lt. Eric's exasperated sigh could be heard all the way back in the elevator.

“How long until we reach Deep Dish $9?” Clerk asked in confusion as he made his way to the Big Comfy Chair, trying to hide the influence vertigo was having on his gait.

“I suppose it hasn't yet occurred to you that the answer to that question literally just changed by an order of magnitude in the last ten seconds?” Commander Odor replied without missing a beat. “Or did you want the old answer?”

“Well, I—”

“At any rate, your favorite admiral will no doubt be disappointed to know that his impossible deadline will be met. I'm sure he will be hard at work on something even more impossible to get you in trouble.”

I really need to stop telling my first officers about my disciplinary actions.

Attempting to be helpful — and diffuse the situation — Lt. Eric spoke up. “Estimated time till arrival is five minutes.”

Time to split. “Thank you, Lieutenant,” Clerk said. Turning to Odor, he continued: “You can handle this, Commander.”

“Handle what?”

“Checking in.”

A mischievous grin appeared on Odor’s face. “You mean the concierge?”

“I'll be in my Ready Room.”

“Because you're not ready, correct?”

Cut that out! “Notify me when we've docked, Commander,” Clerk said after a brief moment, trying his best to not look like he'd been had… again.

A few minutes later, the familiar starbase-to-ship ringtone sounded. Then it sounded again. And again. Odor turned to his right to see if perhaps the Communications station had been abandoned. Upon seeing Lt. Kato sitting with her eyes closed, slowly bobbing her head rhythmically, he realized that, in a sense, it had been.

“Ensign Kazoo,” Odor ordered. “Would you be so kind as to unplug our communications officer?”

“Aye, sir,” Kazoo replied, and with his signature honk, he walked over from the Science station to Communications.

The Bridge fell silent as everyone watched in anticipation. As the brightly-colored Science officer gently plucked the earbud out of Kato’s left ear, the head-bobbing suddenly stopped, and her eyes shot open. She quickly sat up straight, trying unsuccessfully to regain her composure.

Odor cleared his throat as the ringtone sounded for the tenth time.

Without a word, Lt. Kato quickly fumbled over the controls until the smiling, wrinkly-nosed visage of Major Cura Neurosis appeared on the main viewscreen.

“Greetings, Commander,” Cura said while nodding slightly.

“Major Neurosis, good to see you.”

“Likewise, Odor. Tell me, do you still have a Clerk running your ship?”

“Yes, we do indeed,” Odor replied dryly, crossing his arms. “He told me about your jokes, and he told me not to laugh. He didn’t have to.”

“Touché,” Cura conceded. “We really do need to speak with him, though. Is he available?”

“I’m afraid not. The Captain left the Bridge just before we received your call. Would you like a facsimile?”

“A what?”

As the Bajoran officer watched in confusion, Odor proceeded to shapeshift into the form of Captain Clerk.

Cura sighed. “Thanks, Odor, but it's just not the same. You are getting better at making noses, though.”

“Suit yourself,” Odor said nonchalantly as he reverted to his normal self.


Clerk sat on a bench in the Promenade, watching the various denizens of Deep Dish $9 go about their usual business. Having already said goodbye to Odor, picked up some pizza from the food court, and shopped at the duty free shops, he was now looking forward to simply relaxing for a little while. Approximately 45 seconds of uninterrupted silence elapsed before a voice shattered his bubble of serenity.

There you are!

Turning around to look behind himself, Clerk was greeted by the sight of Admiral Kathy Safeway speedwalking in his direction.

He sighed. There goes my respite.

“One of these days I'm going to have your communicator permanently fixed in the On position,” Safeway said as she stopped in front of him.

“But it is on,” Clerk said, holding the device up. He quickly put it away upon seeing the you-know-what-I-mean look on Safeway’s face.

“I've been trying to get in touch with you for nearly an hour.”

Clerk looked puzzled. “I didn't even know you were on board this station.”

“You would have if you hadn't turned your ringer off.”

“I thought you were halfway across the galaxy. What are you doing all the way out here?”

Safeway suddenly became a bit sheepish. “Well… I heard this was where you were going to be, so I changed up my schedule so I could come see you.”


A long pause ensued. “I have something I've been meaning talk to you about. It's really important.”

“Okay,” Clerk replied somewhat uncertainly. “What's on your mind?”

“I don't want to talk about it here. Let's go somewhere private.”

“Is it bad?”

“No, it's just…” She searched for the right word. “Personal. It's about us.”

Red alert klaxons went off in Clerk’s head.