No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no…
Clerk frantically pressed the Close Doors button on the elevator. Janet reached in and began to pull on his arm.
“Captain!” she exclaimed. “Captain, what’s the matter with you?”
“GREETINGSSSSS CAPTAIN!” came a loud voice from the Engine Room.
Clerk grabbed Yeoman Rind and pulled her into the elevator just before the doors closed.
“What’s the matter with you?”
“Didn’t you see the–”
“The Gorn? Yes. That’s our new Chief Engineer. I take it you didn’t read the dossier?”
The Captain just stood there, eyes wide and jaw dropped. Was there a Treaty of Paris I missed or something? “How did this happen?”
“It’s the Officer Exchange Program. I thought you were aware of it.”
“Well, yeah, but… isn’t that limited to people we have diplomatic relations with?”
Rind looked around nervously. “This is… um… an experiment.”
“An experiment? Who authorized this?”
“You signed us up for this? Did you use my signature keycard? That’s only for–”
“I thought you’d go for it. You’re always saying we should–”
“Not a Gorn though! At least… not in Engineering! That’s like Batman hiring the Penguin to fix the Batmobile.”
“Never mind,” Clerk sighed. This was a done deal, apparently, and he was going to have to live with it. “So let me get this straight. We’ve switched Chief Engineers?”
“So they have Mr. LaGrange?”
I’m gonna miss ol’ Georgie. Such great taste in books. “Well, they got the better end of the deal, that’s for sure.”
“Give him a chance, sir. I’m sure underneath that brutish, extremely destructive exterior is a… um… tender… heart-equivalent?”
It was all Clerk could do to keep from facepalming himself into warp speed.
“Alright,” he said after a moment. “Let’s go meet him.”
In retrospect, Captain Clerk would regard this moment as probably the greatest suppression of the fight-or-flight-response of his entire career. He slowly walked up to the fearsome reptile, whose booming voice had to have been a strain on the hull.
“H-h-h-h-hi,” Clerk gulped. “I’m–”
“PLEASSSSSED TO MEET YOU CAPTAIN! I’M VERY EXCSSSSSITED TO BE HERE!”
Janet caught the Captain and held him in place.
“You’re not going anywhere,” she whispered.
“Can I at least tell him to tone it down?” Clerk whispered back.
“They don’t have inside voices, Captain.”
Of course not. Clearing his throat, Clerk resumed his normal speaking voice. “So… uh… what’s your name?”
Rind leaned over and whispered. “It’s Cecil.”
“Cecil? Really?” Clerk whispered back.
I have a cousin named Cecil. “So, Cecil… how long have you been in Engineering?”
“Well… good. I trust you’ll do a fine job here.” Clerk never sweated so much in his life. I can only hope I don’t look like as much of a buffoon as I feel.
Seeing the can-I-please-leave-now look on the Captain’s face, Janet spoke up.
“Good to see you again, Cecil. The Captain and I are headed off now, so we’ll see you at the Senior Officers’ Meeting at 18:00.”
As soon as the elevator doors closed, Captain Clerk let out a beaut of a sigh and nearly collapsed.
“You have 4 hours, Captain. I’d suggest you rest up.”
Even with the uncomfortable new addition, it was still good to have everybody there for the Senior Officers’ Meeting. Everybody, that is, except Klaa’ck, who was summoned away on last-minute business. Clerk didn’t mind, however. One introduction for today was enough.
“Okay, let’s call this meeting to order,” Clerk said, shakily standing up. “It’s good to have everybody back. We made a stop at Discount Crisis Warehouse while you were gone, so we have plenty of problems for everybody to solve. Hopefully we can get some stuff done. And rest assured, I will never let this many of you have time off simultaneously again.”
“And I see we have Dr. Flüshaht back with us,” said Lt. Whatsisname. “Didn’t you die last season?”
“Order! Order!” Clerk interrupted. “We’ll discuss staff changes later. First order of business is The Port. Wharf, do you have an update on that?”
“Yes sir,” Wharf replied. “We’ve reached critical mass, sir. The entire bottom floor is full, and is expected to burst by tomorrow morning.”
“I’m sure you’ve all been briefed on that situation,” said Clerk amongst the murmurs. “What we need is a solution.”
Wharf spoke up again. “We do have an idea, but it’s pretty impractical, and we’re going to have a problem finding somebody to do it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Due to the construction of that outer part of the hull, it appears that somebody intended to route the pipes through there, but didn’t for some reason. If we could get somebody strong enough, they could get down in there and open up that hatch. That would release the, um, contents of the hull. Then we could get the plumbing put in.”
“We don’t have a robot or something that could do it?”
“Nothing that we could get configured in time. It takes a lot of force and they’re going in blind. A strong enough crew member with X-ray goggles could get in there and do it.”
All eyes in the room slowly moved to the only one in the room with that kind of upper body strength…
“WHAT’SSSSS EVERYBODY LOOKING AT ME FOR?”
“Cecil, I hate to ask you to do this on your first day–”
“SSSSSORRY, SSSSSIR! THOSE GERMSSSSS! THOSE GERMSSSSS!” Cecil quickly stood up and started to back out of the room.
Great. Strongest crew member on board, and he’s a germaphobe.
“We have the best cleaning crew in the Fleet,” I can’t believe I’m saying this, “You just have to muscle past the gag reflex for a minute.”
Gathering up all his courage, and wanting to make a good impression upon the Captain (since they had already gotten off to a bad start), Cecil stood tall.
“YESSSSS, CAPTAIN. I’LL DO IT. I’LL SSSSSAVE THE SSSSSHIP!”
“Good man, er, lizard!” the Captain said awkwardly. Then he reached for a communicator and uttered one of the strangest commands he’d ever given.
“Attention all decks: Redirect all hand sanitizer to The Port!”