Episode 54: Nervous Endings

J.L. Placãrd was a man of few words and even fewer emoticons. Combining that with the Admiral’s well-known distaste for SMS in general, Captain Clerk assumed the worst, and was already packing his belongings when the phone began ringing (Fleet Regulation 58A.1 requires Admirals to always follow up any emails or texts with an immediate phone call).

“Jimi? Are you there?”

“Yes, sir,” Clerk replied, stuffing his tape collection into a duffel bag while simultaneously trying to figure out how to relocate his bees. “I’m–”

“Sorry I took so long to call,” Placãrd interrupted. “Been in dreadful meetings all morning. I hated to be so curt with my message, but that’s all I had time for. I hope you understood…”

“I did, sir. I’m packing as we speak.”

Packing? Why would– oh, no no. You’re not fired,” Placãrd began laughing. “I just meant you’re cancelled. Sorry for the confusion.”

“Well… it’s pretty much the same thing, isn’t it? Captains who get themselves cancelled usually lose their commands, don’t they?”

“Usually, yes, but…” his voice trailed off as he searched for words. “The problem is, they couldn’t find a captain who would take the Secondprize.”



“Not even Commander Bennie Disko? I thought he was itching for a command.”

“I was surprised at that too. Apparently he prefers starbases for some reason.”

“Yeah, that’s w–” Clerk stopped himself as he realized what he was hearing. “Wait, I’m still in command?

Placãrd feigned regret. “I’m sorry to have to inform you, but yes. You get to keep your ship.”

“But I’m still cancelled.”

“Yes.” Placãrd stopped for a few seconds to let it sink in. “How far packed are you?”

“Nearly everything but the bees.”

“Sorry for the inconvenience.”

“No worries. It’ll just give me something to do this weekend.”


News of the cancellation went over better than anybody would have expected. After all, they’d been cancelled before, so it wasn’t like it was really anything out of the ordinary. All in all, the mood was pretty much the same as usual. In fact, the only truly heartbreaking part was having to return Cecil.

I’M REALLY GONNA MISSSSS YOU GUYSSSSS! THISSSSS HASSSSS BEEN THE BESSSSST SSSSSHIP I’VE EVER SSSSSERVED ON!” said the teary-eyed Gorn after he exchanged hugs with his fellow senior officers. By then, he had already changed back into his traditional Gornish metallic apron, and he had to admit, he was going to miss his Fleet uniform.

The Secondprize met the Gorn ship Gornucopia at the border to make the switch. Due to this month’s transporter malfunction, Clerk, Lt. Whatsisname, and Cecil all boarded a shuttle and got going.

“This sounds like the beginning of a joke,” Whatsisname said after a few minutes. “An android, a human, and a Gorn all walk into a shuttle…”

Clerk started to laugh, but then stopped and turned to him. “You’re an android?”

“Yeah,” Whatsisname replied. “You didn’t know?”

“No… somehow I missed that.” Explains a lot though.

The trio arrived just in time for supper. As a courtesy, they were escorted to the mess hall for a meal. Upon entering, Captain Clerk immediately slipped and fell. As Cecil and Whatsisname helped him up, he took a look around, and saw that the whole room, almost from floor to ceiling, was covered in food, napkins, plates, etc. There wasn’t a clean chair or table in sight. All the Gorns were already eating (a sight Clerk immediately noted that he never wanted to see again), and in the middle of it all was Lt. Cmdr. Georgie “Rainbow” LaGrange… eating, drinking, and making a mess just like everybody else.

Well what do you know. A literal Mess Hall.

LaGrange spotted the Secondprize officers out of the corner of his eye, and immediately got up and ran over.


“No need to shout, Commander,” Clerk said, smiling. “I know it’s loud in here, but…”

“OH… SORRY ABOUT THAT, SIR! I CAN’T HELP IT! GORN ALE MAKES YOU TALK REALLY LOUD! I’LL TRY TO TONE IT DOWN!” LaGrange cleared his throat a few times and did his best to approximate hushed tones. “Is this better?”

“Just fine. Say, how did you keep from falling down when you ran over here?”

“Cleats!” LaGrange replied, holding one foot up.


“Did they issue you those along with your apron?” the Captain asked.

“No, I had to have them specially ordered.”

“Speaking of which, I’m surprised you’re even wearing that thing. I know you brought Fleet uniforms with you.”

“Yeah, well… they wore out quicker than I thought, so I finally caved in.”

“I’m sure wearing those have helped you to fit in with the rest of the crew,” said Whatsisname.

“Sure has! I think they probably resented seeing a reminder of where I came from.”

“You certainly seem to have no trouble fitting in now!” Clerk said with a laugh.

“For real,” LaGrange replied, laughing as well. “I gotta say, though, these things are insanely comfortable, Captain. You should try one. I think I could probably hook you up with one if you want me to.”

“Thanks, but I’ll pass.” Awkward pause. “So, how’s the job been? I’m sorry we haven’t been able to keep up with you.”

“I know,” LaGrange said with a sigh. “Turns out it’s not really any legal or political issues…” He looked around and tried to quiet his voice even more. “It’s the technology here! I’ve had to upgrade nearly every system on this ship. You don’t even want to know what operating system they’re using here. It’s worse than FleetDOS 1.0.”

“My grandfather had lots of complaints about that OS.”

“Mine too. Anyways, it should be easier in the future. I’ve been hard at work getting stuff up to spec around here. It’s been tough, though… this ship is like the Gorn equivalent of the Secondprize.”


“Well, with you having fixed or upgraded everything, that makes you the resident expert, doesn’t it?” Clerk asked with a little bit of concern.

“Yeah, it does. I mean, I’ve got a few of these guys trained, but uh…” he shrugged a bit and scratched the back of his neck. “I’m kind of indispensable here.”

HE REALLY ISSSSS!” said a booming voice coming from behind them. “WE HATE TO SSSSSEE HIM GO!

Everybody turned around to find a Gorn with a significantly nicer apron on, flanked by a couple of security guards.


“Pleasure to meet you,” Clerk said. “I’m James Clerk, Captain of the Secondprize.”


“Yeah,” said Clerk. “And Cecil has been doing so well on the Secondprize, we–” Then it hit him.

“Captain?” said Whatsisname. “What is it?”

“Lieutenant… is there any real reason we have to do this?”

“Do what, sir?”

“Exchange officers back. I just assumed it was part of the whole cancellation deal, but, uh… it seems like they’re doing really well right where they are. I mean, it isn’t, like, a requirement, is it?”

Whatsisname shrugged. “I don’t think so. I just set everything up because Yeoman Rind said to.”

Shame she isn’t here. This was all her doing anyways. “Well, I’ll make an Executive Decision here. Since our respective ships would fall apart without our adopted Engineers, and they’re happy enough where they are, I say let’s keep them where they’re most useful.” He stretched out his hand again. “Deal?”

Captain Justin smiled the biggest smile Clerk had yet seen on a Gorn, and once again shook his hand so hard he was sure he’d need physical therapy. “DEAL! IT ISSSSS AN HONOR AND A PRIVILEGE! BUT JUSSSSST ONE THING!

“Sure thing. What is it?”


The color vanished from Clerk’s face. “Understood.”


“Captain on the Bridge!”

“Thank you, Lt. Obvious,” Clerk said as he stepped out of the elevator. I seriously hope she’s not going to do this every time I walk into the room.

Then, just as he was about to sit down in the Big Comfy Chair, a few bleeps occurred and Lt. Kato stopped playing Solitaire just long enough to turn towards the Captain. “Incoming transmission, sir,” she said, annoyed that somebody had had the audacity to interrupt her game. “It’s from Captain Safeway.”

May as well skip a step here. “I’ll take it in the Ready Room,” Clerk said, already halfway out of his seat.

“Yes, sir,” she said, relieved that any actual work had ended for the moment.

As he made his way to the door, he stopped by Whatsisname’s station. “Lieutenant, I need to see you for a bit after this call is finished.”

“Yes, sir.”

After a few minutes of shifting piles and stacks around so he could sit down, he finally pressed the Answer button. “Clerk here.”

“Aww, no need to be so formal with me, Jimi.”

“Force of habit. So… what’s the latest on the other side of the galaxy?”

“Not a clue, Jimi. I’m not there anymore.”

“What?” Clerk responded, shocked, but relieved as well. “I thought you were several seasons away or something. What happened?”

“I found a loophole that got us here in just a few weeks.”


“Whatever. It was a relief, too… I mean, we were stopping and looking at every last thing we could find, and there is no shortage of weird stuff out there. Got into some real situations that way, I can tell you.”

Please don’t. “Well, now what are you gonna do?”

Safeway’s face lit up like a reactor breach. “I got promoted, Jimi! I’m an Admiral now! So… I guess I get to do all Admiraly type stuff or whatever.”

“Wait, you made Admiral just because you brought the ship home? If I had known that was all it took, I’d have taken this thing home a long time ago.”

“Jimi, I think you’re more likely to make Admiral if you don’t come home that often. Besides, I seem to recall something about it being some kind of inventive solution and stuff. I wasn’t listening too closely. Anyways, I gotta go now, they’re holding a reception for me!”

“Well, congrats, Kathy, I guess you earned it.”

“Thanks! I’ll call you when all this official stuff is over with. Later!”

The screen went blank, and Clerk sat back in his seat. Just as it was occurring to him that the Fleet never seems to promote anybody to Commodore anymore, the door opened, and in walked Lt. Whatsisname.

“That was quick,” Clerk said, concerned. “You weren’t listening in, were you?”

“Of course not, sir. I just monitored the transmission status, and entered when it ended.”

Now you’re starting to act like an android. Stop it.

Clerk started to get a bit nervous as he prepared to say what he’d been wanting to all day (and the last several seasons, for that matter). “Anyways, since I just found out you’re an android — and I’m really sorry that that somehow slipped totally past me, by the way — there was something else that I’ve been wanting to know for a long time, and I figured now was a good time to ask.”

“No worries, sir,” Whatsisname replied. “What is it?”

The Captain took a deep breath. “I never learned what your name is.”

“Oh, is that all? That’s no big deal. There are plenty of people on board who have been calling me Lt. Whatsisname for years.”

Including me. “Well, it’s a big deal to me. I mean, I’m the captain, I should know. I, uh, guess I was too shy to ask… and I couldn’t look it up to save my life.”

“Okay… but I will say, it’s not a particularly good name. My inventor wasn’t particularly imaginative when it came to naming things.”

“Well, I’m ready for it. Lay it on me.”