For once, Captain Clerk wished the elevator would go slowly. Figures it'd be going at top speed now. He arrived on the bridge just in time for the Incoming Signal.

"Starbase Deep Dish $9 to starship Secondprize."

"Secondprize here. Clerk speaking."

"Understood. Can you please connect us to the Captain."

"That's who you're talking to."

"You just said you were the clerk."

"Captain Clerk speaking."

Snickering ensued. Clerk sighed. Every. Single. Time. "OK, OK. Is there someone there without a sense of humor? A Vulcan, perhaps?"

"We've got half a Vulcan on here, but you might not like the other half."

"Excuse me?"

"Never mind. Prepare for docking procedures. Deep Dish $9 out."

Goofballs. "Okay, everybody," Clerk said, addressing the Bridge Crew. "Best behavior and all that. As you know, we're getting an inspection this time."

As the ship docked, Clerk did his best to try and come up with an explanation for all that had gone on in the last couple of days. The new decks, the Bord infestation, the mess down below The Port...

"Captain," Lt. Whatsisname spoke up, breaking Clerk's train of thought.

"Yes, Lieutenant?"

"We're having trouble finding a good parking spot. There a really good one up close, but it's kind of a tight fit. What with the new decks and all, I wasn't sure if we should go for it."

"Well, they're on top and bottom, and I think they're the same width... I'd say go for it."

"Yes, sir."

It took lots of backing in and out, but the Secondprize at last managed to get in the spot without scratching either the Trepidatious or the Fancypants.

"Excellent navigating... um, Lieutenant."

"Thank you, sir!"

Just then, Clerk's personal assistant, Janet Rind, arrived on the bridge. "I've got your schedule from the starbase, sir."

The Captain looked it over. "Ugh. Lots of meetings."

"Yes, sir. Meetings all morning tomorrow, then New Officer Orientation."

"Any word on who the new guys are?"

"Nobody I've heard of," Janet said. "But their dossiers are... interesting..."

Clerk handed back the report. "Well, I don't really have time to read this tonight. I've got to coordinate stuff with our Security Chief regarding our crew roster. Put it near my bed, though, in case I have trouble getting to sleep."

"Yes sir."


It wasn't that Captain Clerk hated visits to starbases. Hate is far, far too mild a word. But Deep Dish $9 was one of the more tolerable ones, so he didn't complain too much. Plus, it was another chance to see his mentor. It was always good to see Admiral Nezbomb, even if it meant a shipwide inspection as part of the visit.

Nezbomb was busy for the entire day, so Clerk wouldn't get to see him until tomorrow. But then again, so was Clerk, especially in the morning. At least the barrage of meetings gave Clerk the opportunity to catch up on some of the sleep he'd been losing. The afternoon, however, was a different story. Yeoman Rind picked up the Captain at the Conference Center promptly at 1:30 to begin New Officer Orientation.

"Are you sure we can't pick up lunch here first? I'm starved," whined the Captain. None of the meetings were catered this time.

"Sorry, Captain, but we're already late for Orientation."

Just once, I'd like to have somebody in charge of Scheduling that has a sense of time. "Let me at least pick up a sandwich or something and wolf it down while we walk."

"Okay, sir. There's a really good sub shop just around the corner."

Sandwich procured, the pair began to walk toward the dock.

"So what's the skinny on the new crewmembers?" Clerk asked, hoping Janet wouldn't chide him too much for having not read the dossiers.

"Mostly just lowly ensigns who are very promising according to their bios. But the new First Officer and Engineering Chief are the most interesting of the bunch."

"Tell me about the new first officer," Clerk said as they boarded the Secondprize.

"He's half-Vulcan..."

So that's who they were talking about.

"...and half-Klingon--"

Clerk stopped in his tracks. "He's what??" How does that even work?

"They say he's an interesting fellow," the Yeoman continued. "His name is Klaa'ck. We might not be able to talk with him right away. He's been meditating since he got on board."

Those Vulcans and their meditation. "Let's stop by his quarters anyways and see."

"Yes sir."

As they approached the First Officer's quarters, a cacophonous cavalcade of bangs and clangs could be heard, along with a lot of screaming in what Clerk assumed was Klingon (it wasn't Vulcan; he'd studied that in high school).

"Yep. Still meditating," Rind said flatly.

Clerk's eyes widened. I don't want to know. I don't want to know. I don't want to know. I don't want to know...

"Shall we move on?"

"Yes, please," Clerk said, trying not to think about what was going on in those quarters.

The two got onto the elevator. "Engineering, please." Yeoman Rind requested.

"He's already on-duty?"

"Yes, sir. He was very eager to get acclimated to his new post."

"Well, he's got initiative. That's good."

The door opened to Engineering HQ, and Clerk froze in terror. Of all the Engineering Sections in all the starships in all the galaxy...

"Captain? Captain, what's wrong?"

It beams onto mine...