Episode 77: A Bridge… Too Far?

Coffee in hand, the two lovestruck Admirals strolled through the Secondprize, their ultimate destination being the Bridge. Theoretically. As they made their way along the main hallway, they ran into an impasse they didn’t expect: two men with loud equipment, and wet carpet as far as the eye could see.

“Do I even want to know what in the galaxy is going on here?” Clerk said with exasperation.

The taller of the two men turned to look at Clerk. Upon doing so, he straightened up and saluted. “Howdy there, Cap’m-I-Mean-Adm’ral!” said Head of Maintenance Jedidiah Percival “The Rug Warrior” Jenkins. “Apologies fer the disruption, but this hallway was overdue fer a bath!”

Clerk sighed. “I see your point, I guess, but did you have to do it all at once, and during peak hours as well? We need to get to the Bridge, pronto.”

Jenkins removed his cap and began scratching the top of his head. “Hadn’t thought about that,” he said. “I think I can get my intern here to go get somethin’ to put down on it, so you can walk on through.” He turned to the other maintenance worker, who hadn’t noticed the Admirals had arrived. “Hay Crewman Dice, get some rugs to put down. Admiral said pronto, ya hear?”

“As you command!” Dice said, then walked away with a spring in his step.

Jenkins turned to the Admirals and smiled proudly. “Mah sister’s youngest. Crazy ta get ta work. He enjoys cleaning almost as much as I do!”

So there’s more than one, Clerk thought. Go figure.

Within minutes, Dice returned with an armload of mismatched rugs of various sizes and shapes, most of which were well-used. He dutifully put them in a row, roughly six inches apart, along the side which was furthest from the area being cleaned.

“Done and done!” the intern proclaimed once the task was complete. “Step across with confidence, my dear Admirals, for lo, these rugs are the finest (and cheapest) ones that credits can legally buy.”

“Thanks,” Safeway-Clerk said uncertainly. “Have a good time with the rest of the carpet.” With that, the two of them made their way across the wet area, making sure not to give the maintenance crew any attacks of opportunity, and reaching the Bridge just as their respective coffees reached their optimum temperatures.

“Who would’ve thought,” Clerk said as they sat down in their Big Comfy Chairs. “That Jenkins would get another lackey.”

Intern, darling. Intern.”

Before Clerk could offer a rebuttal, the ship’s ringtone sounded. “Incoming transmission, Admirals,” Lt. Kato said lackadaisically. “It’s from… I dunno, somebody. Doesn’t say who on the Caller ID. Wanna let it go to voicemail?”

“Tempting,” Clerk said with a sigh. “But I’m feeling lucky. Let’s put it on screen.”

Lt. Kato heaved a bit of a sigh and did as instructed. As a result, the constantly sour visage of Kathy’s father — the other Admiral Safeway — showed up, and it was annoyed as per usual.

“I don’t know why Fleet HQ is giving me this directive, Kathy, but your detestable husband is hereby ordered to remove his bees from his crew quarters. Why this is so important, I don’t know, but tell him he has twelve hours to move them to the Wildlife Department.”

“I’m right here, you know,” Clerk said, arms folded. “You can speak to me.”

“That’s all for today, Kathy. Safeway out.” Without fanfare, the call was terminated, and Clerk sighed hard.

“I’m sorry, honey,” Safeway-Clerk said apologetically. “I know he’s —“

Clerk held up a hand. “Clerk to Tolstoy.”

“Tolstoy here,” came a weary voice over the intercom. “Did I forget something important again?”

“No, you’re fine,” Clerk said with a smile. “I need you to move my bees again. Can you handle that?”

“Sure, I guess. I just moved them in there… did you change your mind?”

“My mind got changed for me. Put ‘em back in the Wildlife Department. Sorry to bother you so late in the day, but you’re the most experienced person when it comes to my bees.”

Tolstoy laughed a little. “I’m on it, Admiral! I’ll do it right away.”

“Thanks. Clerk out.”

Before anyone had a chance to breathe, the ship’s ringtone sounded again. “Oh wow,” said Lt. Kato. “Like, there’s totally another call coming in, and it’s audio only. Should I —“

“Yeah, go for it,” Clerk said with a sigh. “Might as well.”

Without another word, Kato answered the call. “Good afternoon,” said the caller, who was obviously trying to keep from laughing. “We’ve been trying to reach you, regarding your ship’s extended warranty.”

Oh brother. Like this isn’t the oldest trick in the book. “Hey, knock it off. Who is this? Seriously.”

The voice changed. “Oh, right, this is Admiral J. L. Placãrd. I’m here to revoke your Captaining License. Pull up to the second window. That’ll be $17.50.” The voice sure sounded authentic, but that kind of joke was out of Placãrd’s wheelhouse.

“Sure,” Clerk said hesitatingly. “We’ll do that in just a second. Lt. Kato, hang up, please.”

The communications officer immediately did so, and the two admirals looked at each other. “Well, what was that all about?” asked Safeway-Clerk. “It sounded like him, didn’t it?”

Clerk stroked his chin. “Yeah, but there was something synthetic-sounding about it. Info, what do you make of it?”

Info got up from his station and walked over to Clerk’s Big Comfy Chair and leaned in. “Hey, uh, could we, like, have a chat in your Ready Room?”

Clerk furrowed his brow. “Yeah, sure,” he said with uncertainty. “Let’s go.” With that, the two of them quickly walked to the Ready Room and entered.

Info paced the floor a little, which made Clerk nervous. After several long moments, the android finally spoke.

“Admiral, I know who that was imitating Admiral Placãrd, and it’s someone I don’t think we’re ready for.”

“You do? Who is it? Don’t tell me it’s some kind of supervillain.”

Info let out the android version of a sigh. “It’s worse… it’s my brother.”

“Huh? How do androids have brothers?”

“He was built by the same guy that built me, around the same time. Only he wound up with… how do I say this… a bit of a ‘trickster personality.’ If you think your brother’s a problem, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”