Episode 22: We Built this City on Rock and Sludge

“Yeah, I’m totally calling Shenanigans on this one,” Whatsisname said.

“Good idea, Lieutenant,” Captain Clerk replied. “We may need his help.”

Within minutes, Lt. Cmdr. Shenanigans showed up. “And just what seems to be the trouble here, fellows?” he said as he sat down at the table across from Sludge. At 2’7″, he was barely taller than the table top, and he spoke with a whiny, nasal voice that always sounded like it had a cold.

“And just who are you, ya little runt?” Percy said, giggling a little.

“I’m your worst nightmare,” Shenanigans said, leaning in and narrowing his eyes. It did nothing to add to his intimidation factor, but he tried. Oh, how he tried.

“Heh, I’ll bet.”

“Cut the theatrics, you two,” Clerk interrupted. “Let’s get this over with. Supper’s in 45 minutes, and it’s Meatloaf Night.”

“Sorry, sir. It’s all part of the job.”

Gimme a break.

“What was that, Captain?”

Sigh. “Never mind.”

“Oh, a mind reader, eh?” Percy laughed. “Well, then you’ll know that I’m telling the truth.”

“Mr. Sludge, you have to have a mind in order for me to read it.”


“Anyways, I’m not a mind reader… but I do specialize in lie detection techniques and psychological profiling.”

“Listen people!” Percy exclaimed as he stood up. “You don’t have to coerce me into telling the truth. I already am!

“It’s not that we don’t believe you,” said Clerk. “It’s that nobody believes you.”

“Captain, Captain! Look, I’m willing to show you. You just have to–”

“Let you back down onto the planet’s surface. Just how stupid do you think I am?” Pause. “Don’t answer that.”


Clerk returned from supper, and the two were still going at it. Klaa’ck and Whatsisname were leaning on the door, holding glasses up to their ears, trying to hear something.

“Hear anything good?” he whispered.

“These new doors are nearly sound-proof, sir,” Whatsisname replied. “I can only hear something when it gets really loud, and that’s only when Sludge is yelling at the little fella.”

“And he hasn’t even done that in quite a while,” Klaa’ck added.

“Shen’s a tough cracker. It’s probably quiet because he’s reduced Percy to tears.”

Just then, the doors opened, and Klaa’ck and Whatsisname quickly hid their glasses behind their backs.

“You can come in now.”

As they did, they saw an exasperated Percy Sludge drumming his fingers on the table.

“Well, Shen, what’s the verdict?”

“I can’t detect any deception.”

“You sound so disappointed,” Percy taunted. “Well, there’s your verification, Jim Bob. Two hours of raking me over the coals and I’m still vindicated.”

“So you’ve totally convinced yourself that you’re telling the truth.”

“I am telling the truth!”

Clerk sighed. “Alright, alright. Obviously you’re wanting to get back down there, and you’ve made up some cockamamie story to make us take you down there. You’ve even managed to fool our Lie Detector. But you don’t fool me. I’ve just received word that the Brig is ready, so in you go. I’m tired of these shenanigans…” Catching what he said, he turned to Shen. “Oops, sorry, no offense…”

“None taken.”

“Anyways, I’m tired of all this, so unless you can give me a solid argument in five words or less, it’s over.”

“Your brother says hello.”


Captain’s Blog, Stardate: Meatloaf Night. We’re beaming back down to Alpha Beta II with Percy Sludge, seeking some underground city, apparently run by my estranged brother Lionel. Nobody believes anything this merchant has been telling us, but he passed all of Lt. Cmdr. Shenanigans’ lie detection tests, so we’re contractually obligated to check it out.

“I still don’t believe you,” Clerk said as he, Wharf, Sludge, and a couple of Security officers walked to the Chamber of Commerce building.

“I know you’re expecting my usual tricks, and granted, if I were you, so would I. But for once in my life, my dearest Jimnasium, I’m being straightforward with you.”

“We’ll see about that.”

They entered the main office, which was still deserted. Percy hit a switch behind one of the filing cabinets, and a secret door slid open, revealing a staircase.

Percy stretched out his arm to the open door. “Shall we?”

The group made their way down, and the stairwell got narrower and darker. Finally, they reached the bottom, where there was a steel door with a bare lightbulb glowing above it.

“Some city,” Clerk remarked.

“Just you wait.”

The door opened to reveal a small room, packed wall-to-wall with records, comic books, and the occasional action figure. In the middle of it all was Lionel Clerk, sitting on a bean bag chair.

“What took you so long, Perce?”

“They had to throw a lie detector at me first.”

“Was it Shenanigans? I miss that guy.”

“Some city you have here, Percy,” Clerk interrupted.

“You told him it was a city?”

“Some say small, uninviting cave, I say underground city. It’s a matter of nomenclature.”

“Should we just beam them up now, or what?” Wharf asked.

“I’d like to hear their lame explanation of what’s going on first. So… what kind of ‘operation’ are you nutcases up to?”

“What operation?” Lionel asked, surprised. “I just asked him to bring you down here while you were in town.”

“He was arresting me, man! I had to make it sound interesting so he’d actually come down.”

“You could have just said, ‘Dude, your brother’s down there. Wanna say hi?'”

“I would have believed the underground city thing first, to be honest.”

Lionel shrugged. “Touché. Well, now that you’re here, let me tell you my plan…”