Author Topic: Captain's Blog

Captain's Blog
« on: February 14, 2024 »

Love, exciting and new
Come aboard, we're expecting you.


Haven't had a stardate in ages. I've burned through every human available and willing. None of the aliens we've encountered lately have offered much in the way of eye candy or agreeable anatomy. Holodeck to the rescue, if you know what I mean.

Science officer Aurora, having ditched the Pon farr as a modern woman should, has been getting it on with Counsellor Tool in the way that a praying mantis would if it devoured its mate then regurgitated it for next time. Vulcan and Empath: not a match made in heaven.

Some of the crew are offering odds on Sob (Aurora's ironical nickname, playing on her unemotional demeanour) giving him the ol' neck pinch in lieu of a hickey, as he has plenty of nerve; she is of course forbidden to incapacitate a fellow officer, even in the course of a little lovin'.

It's all very amusing, but we do actually have a mission, which is to broker a peace between the so-called Galactic Empire and 'The Resistance', whoever they are. Darth Vader is our contact. He sent a weird vid via his droid saying "Help me Tiberius." I don't know the dude, but he claims to know me.

Tool says it's a trap. He's usually wrong – in fact he's always wrong – but that's a part of his charm, if you can call it that. I like crew bold enough to disagree with me. Keeps me sharp.

"Penny for your thoughts?" asked Monkers, doing her nails at her station despite several official reprimands.

"Place a long distance call to Risa," I replied to the communications officer, hip to the anachronistic vernacular. "Tell them to cancel our booking. Unavoidable."

There were a few moans, quickly silenced by a sharp look from Number One. Clearly I wasn't the only one logging too much holodeck time.

(Number One had had his name changed by deed poll. This was a good career move, as it prompted me to promote him in the first place, so compelling was the nominative determinism.)

"These people need a break," complained Winjim. "As the ship's doctor I'm prescribing at least a weekend of R&R. For the love of God."

Fine. "Cancel that call," I commanded. "I'll be in my Ready Room. Monkers, report to my Ready Room."

Winjim grabbed my arm, a breach of protocol only he could get away with. "You don't want to do this," he whispered urgently. "Hold on, man. We'll be on Risa soon enough."

Once inside my sanctum sanctorum, Monkers made herself comfortable on the edge of my desk. Seriously, I needed to start running a tighter ship.

"Have a proper seat, Lt. Commander," I told her, a direct order she promptly mistook as she came around the desk to sit on my lap.

"Is that a phaser in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" she purred into my good ear. I may have played Santa at the last Chrismas party, but this really was too much.

At that exact moment the viewscreen came on. It was Admiral Claud, in all her stern glory. Her eyes beheld the pair of us and widened a fraction.

You don't get to my position without being cool under pressure.

"My only valentine is my ship," I informed the room at large. "Monkers was just leaving."

We both watched as she exited the room; did I detect a reluctant pause before the admiral's eyes met mine?

"Interviewing 'morale officers' for the Enterprise again?" she asked drily.

"Computer, send Monkers's personnel file to the admiral," I directed it unnecessarily, as she has a photographic memory of everyone under her command.

Claud closed her eyes as if reading the file on the back of her eyelids, then recited:

"First in her class at Dames Polytechnic. Took a gap year in flagrante delicto. Joined Starfleet on a dare. Failed her first three psych evaluations. Attempted regicide, charges dropped thanks to an influential uncle. Prefers purple nail polish, with an exaggeratedly long nail on her right index finger. These records really are thorough. Recruited by the Department of Temporal Investigations in--" With that her eyes opened with a start. "She's a timecop."

"Keep reading," I suggested.

She shut her eyes again. "Fired by the Department of Temporal Investigations three months before being hired, no reason given. Those bastards are notoriously tight-lipped; and cheap with it, since you can't pay severance if you've never been hired in the first place.

"Applied to Starfleet a fourth time and accepted thanks to the inclusivity laws that had come into effect in the meantime. Mediocre performance reviews. Landed on the Enterprise in a senior role thanks to aforementioned uncle.

"Frankly, she sounds like perfect raw material for a captain known to favour misfits."

"Other than the fact that she's a spy," I said, enjoying the look of shock on the admiral's face.

"What on earth makes you say that?" she shot back.

"Call it a gut feeling," I said.

You can't argue with the gut of a starship captain. "Very well," she replied. "Keep an eye on her. In other business, we need you to make a stop on your way to this Galactic Empire business. Specifically: the third planet orbiting Iota Geminorum."

My stomach lurched. "You don't mean..."

"Computer, tell the captain the difference between the third and fourth planets rotating Iota Geminorum," she said to my computer, then signed off with the trace of a smile.

As I left my Ready Room I was buttonholed by Winjim, who incidentally has been hanging around the bridge an awful lot lately. Could it be he has eyes for one of the officers stationed there...?

"You look white as a sheet," he said. Yes, and he'd know why soon enough.

I turned to the helmsman: "Bromptonaut, set a course for the third planet orbiting Iota Geminorum." Stabbing the intercom button, I then bade the usual suspects assemble in the conference room.


Preview for the next episode
I happen to know a thing or two about goosing crew morale. Senior staff meetings are now held in the executive holodeck, complete with ensuite facilities (much to the consternation of maintenance). Present were:

Number One
Counsellor Tool
Seven of Nine
and me.

"The magnificent seven," as Winjim once put it both sarcastically and lecherously...

Any similarity to characters on cycling forums is purely coincidental.

Captain's Blog: The End is Ni!
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2024 »
As a result of what I suspect was a rigged suggestion box, senior staff meetings are now held in the executive holodeck. Present were:

- Number One
- Counsellor Tool
- Aurora
- Winjim
- Seven of Nine
- Monkers
and me.

"The magnificent seven," as Winjim once put it both sarcastically and lecherously. He was currently Cyrano De Bergerac, the holo emitters working overtime on that nose.

Number One, ever the goody-goody, remained Number One, as he'd once heard me grumble that I had enough to juggle mentally without keeping everybody else's avatars straight.

Tool was Ghenghis Khan. No surprise there.

Aurora chose Rapunzel for this occasion: almost literally hair today, gone tomorrow, given the severe coiffure she favoured.

Seven of Nine was Six of Eight, a designation I happened to know pleased her enough to use on her regular excursions into fantasy. Six is basically the male version of Seven, complete with holopacker.

Monkers had simply turned herself up to 11.

If I hadn't bothered to change into Pale Rider, my default when I wasn't in a Caligula mood, it was because that would look ridiculous shortly.

"We are the Knights who Say Ni!" began Six in time-honoured fashion, which is to say, without the enthusiam necessary to pull it off. The monstrous Borg had really done a number on him/her.

That little ritual out of the way, I quietly gathered my strength for the meeting to follow, which would be the toughest since the controversial decision by the Admiral to fire everyone then rehire them on zero hour contracts. "My hands are tied. It's the beancounters," she'd complained, but that hadn't made it any easier to deal with crew who had to say goodbye to the security that had always come with being Starfleet, redshirts excepted.

As it happens Tool was currently wearing a red tunic splattered with the blood of his enemies, oblivious as usual to the effect this had on the poor suckers who had actually been assigned the colour by HAL, our computer.

My frank appraisal was that we might we might not all in fact come out of this alive, yet it was my job, as always, to put a brave face on things.

I cleared my throat. This prompted Number One to do the same, more loudly, to get everyone's attention. I noticed that Aurora and Tool still appeared to be playing footsie under the table.

"Six, patch Dostoevsky in on this, would you please?" I directed Seven, as the engineer's role would be vital. A strange sort of calm came over me. It was time to boldly get on with it.

File photo of Enterprise engineer

"Dosty, crank the engines up to 11," I began, addressing our gloomy engineer in the bowels of the Enterprise. "We're going to Iota Geminorum."

"Oooohhh! The Bunny Planet!" Monkers squealed, HAL tweaking my previous blog entry for the archives even as we speak. Dostoevsky immediately switched to mute before even a single cannae.

Yes: Iota Geminorum III. Neighour to Iota Geminorum IV, aka 'Tribble Prime', III is an altogether different affair.

A matriarchy run by seriously scary women, Bunny World, as it's known colloquially, is the stuff of nightmares.

"Isn't your ex in charge there?" asked Tool, as ever trying to get a rise out of me. "Had a blokey name as I recall."

Harry Kim was indeed de facto head of the government there. A former conquest, to put it impolitely (politeness was the last thing on her mind behind closed doors), Kim had attained power through a series of ruthless political maneuvering culminating in the night of the short knives, size apparently not being an issue.

One of the many peculiarities of Bunny World is that they all ride bicycles, a quaint edict which admittedly produces some great hind legs. Kim herself favoured a recumbent – "The logical choice," according to Aurora, the gravity being slightly in excess of Earth's.

They liked to ride in gangs to project their force, every position on the road being primary for them. The powers that be, they could afford to have 'The Bunnies' stitched into their jerseys. A joke too far, if you ask me.

The planet is also overrun with actual lagomorphs. I felt an involuntary shudder even as I remembered my introduction to the beasts as a child, having been given one as a 'pet' (animals are no longer bonded in servitude in these enlightened times).

I'd named him Jaded. Having grown up in a house filled with ennui thanks to a mother who was a poet and a father who loved the Carpenters, it just kind of fit.

Then came the terror...

"Captain," said Aurora, breaking into my daymare as she abruptly removed her foot from between Tool's. I noticed Winjim was gazing at her long flowing locks, his fingers twitching slightly, as if he wanted to be stroking it. Damn my exemplary powers of observation.

"Admiral Claud copied me into the mission statement," she continued, the furthest thing from coquettish. "There appears to be a war between the bunnies which threatens the stability in this sector."

"You must have read that wrong," ejaculated Monkers, awakening with a sneer. She tends to nod off when not the centre of attention. It might have been the hair that triggered her. "Bunnies don't fight."

"On the contrary," said Aurora cooly, directing HAL to play the following video on an old-fashioned 'YouTube' interface for all assembled.

Monkers glared at the screen as if in reproach. Number One was plainly awestruck. Six/Seven seemed thoughtful. Winjim had now redirected his gaze to the nape of Aurora's neck, willing her holohair to part, his nose noticeably growing. I observed Tool salivating slightly, and imagined him ordering seared snake with an appetiser of Patte de lapin in the canteen later.

HAL: You asked me to notify you as you approached 1000 words

Very well computer. To be continued, obvs.

HAL: Coming attractions may include
• Poacher's World: an inhospitable moon orbiting Bunny World
• "They shoot horses don't they?"
• Golgafrincham Ark Fleet Ship B
• Talkin' Corvidae Blues
• The first man to walk on gas giant designated HF-FU
• Infinite loop causality mirror

Captain's Blog: The Ides
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2024 »
"A ship is its people."

So sayeth a needlepoint sampler hanging in my Ready Room anonymously beamed in as a gift. It remains a mystery who sent it, despite both the carrot and stick approach to a crew frankly made a little soft by comforting DEI pablum spoonfed by the Federation over the years.

"Have you kissed a Klingon?" went a popular promotion rolled out every Valentine's Day in the gift shop, despite the inevitable rise in hospital admissions. "Assimilate me, I'm yours," went another, stamped on nightlifewear worn by those dutifullly looking for action. There was even a racy range of Romulan-themed negligee, suitable for all consenting sexes, of course. You haven't lived until you've seen a Ferengi unashamedly modelling a thong to a Gorn to clinch the sale.

Number One had called time on the senior staff meeting re: the upcoming mission, accurately sensing the temperature of the room rising to an unproductive level. I prefer one-on-ones anyway. Having everyone on the same page is overrated.

There was a knock, a quaint touch that told me Winjim wanted a word.

"I've never heard the full story of this childhood pet of yours," he said without preamble, settling himself in the chair opposite. "It sounds formative."

This was not a story I wanted to share, ever, but perhaps it was better out than in. Just then Counsellor Tool waltzed through the door and sat next to him, forever in search of relevance, or failing that, good timing. He was still dressed as Ghenghis Khan, evidently having replicated the outfit.

"A bunny, was it?" he said, interested only insofar as it might advance his career to be the bearer of gossip to the right ears.

Before I could open my mouth Aurora then appeared from outside, pointedly not looking at Tool. She was quickly joined by Seven and Monkers. FFS.

"Number One, you might as well join us," I said, head in hand, knowing he must be bringing up the rear on a mission to scoot everybody out.

"So. About Jaded," I began...

A home is its pets, or so apparently believed my father, ever in search of the perfect animal companion for me as a child to make up for lack of a sibling, there having been no interest in a spare. Hence a succession of fish, mice, and hamsters gave their lives to the cause.

Neither he nor mom fancied a dog due to the pedestrian nature of walking, and a cat was out of the question, an aunt having ruined them for us after her brood made her the ultimate cat food following a fatal tumble down cellar stairs. (As it was, the coroner couldn't conclusively prove it was the fall that cinched it.) I believe the doomed rabbit in Fatal Attraction was responsible for Jaded entering our lives instead, my parents' date night pre-entertainment seeding the notion.

What a thrill to have a wild thing made tame by virtue of our choice of its habitat, for he was immediately moved into the house, only the kitchen being off limits.

Perhaps you've read stories about bunnies – cute, furry, innocent creatures? One of God's greatest gifts in one of his smaller packages? That was the idea, at any rate.

The reality was an abomination: that one in a million malignancy upon the good name of rabbitkind. At some point in the shelter from which he was acquired he had developed a mean streak. Or perhaps he was born with it, his adoption a blessing to those he had been plucked from. Any arguments nurture had with nature were moot. Of all the bunnies in the world, my father had picked a wrong 'un.

One can easily forgive the nipping of a finger. The near tearing of it from the root is another matter. 'You've been watching too much Monty Python,' dad told me at first, ironically on the way to A&E after my getting-to-know-you session with the newest member of the household.

My parents weren't particularly house proud, but allowing the ravenous beast free range quickly became an impossibility. He simply destroyed everything he came in contact with. This landed him in an old bomb shelter in the back garden, from which he glowered. I begged them to return him to the other shelter but gathered there was lesson to be taught, which still escapes me.

"To cut a long story short --"

At this there was a collective groan, diversions from the salt mine always in short supply.

A good captain provides closure: "One day he attempted to take a bite out of an heirloom WWII grenade. Blew his front half to smithereens. I used my paper round money for an autopsy on the rest. The coroner found Jaded's brain where his dick was supposed to be, so presumably vice-versa. Go figure. Everybody back to work."

As if that would shift this lot.

"About this 'war between the bunnies', said Winjim after a significant pause. "Shades of Watership Down?"

"I'm not 100% invested in that story arc," I addressed the fourth wall specially installed in my Ready Room. "We'll see."

"You heard the captain," said Number One. "Landing party assemble in the transporter room."

Counsellor Tool jumped into the turbolift with me, waving everyone else off for the next one.

"What is it?" I sighed.

He immediately rolled his blood-spattered Mongol tunic up to his chin, revealing a hideous scar traversing goiter to groin. He really should have that looked at. "Got this from a Cardassian Rugrat," he said.

Was this some sort of perverse bonding exercise, or was he just eager to one-up my scarred digitus tertius?

"You win," I told him, at which point the turbolift promptly conked out between floors. For the love of god.

I stabbed at the emergency button, summoning Dostoevsky.

"The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness," said the chief engineer. "Should have it fixed in an hour or so."

"Make it 10 minutes or you'll be stoking a coal mine in Ryvita," I informed him, which warranted a cough.

"Fine. 10 minnae. Give or take an hour."

"I intend to make an honest woman out of Aurora," said Tool out of the blue after the requisite small talk.

"She's already an honest woman," I said, searching in vain for a self-destruct button.

He rolled down his tunic. "It's just a figure of speech."

"You may have to fight a duel over her," I said, teasing him and thinking of Winjim. "Besides, she'd never have you. Not that way." I mimed putting a ring on a finger.

He bristled, puffing out his chest for good measure. "Women may know what they want, but they don't know what they need."

"How did you ever get past HR?" I wondered aloud. "Never mind your psych eval."

Before he could answer there was a rap at the top of the lift. The trap door opened and a face appeared.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"It's Ian, sir," he answered. "The boss sent me. Have it fixed in a jiff." With that he disappeared.

"Where are we?" I called after him, having noted almost casually he was a redshirt.

"Close by level H," Ian* answered. There followed a clang, whereupon the lift immediately shot upward far too fast with him on the very wrong side of it. I held on to my wits for dear life as Tool clung to the floor.

A few seconds later the lift stopped with a sickening thud and the door opened. I think we all know what that meant. Tool looked green. "He gave his life so that we might get off on the right floor," I said by way of epitaph. "Let Dosty know he's down another man. Then better call maintenance."

Spoiler for next episode
Better not promise anything, I'm just along for the ride.

Oh, and

heteronormative much?

HAL: A reminder that any similarity to characters* on cycling forums is coincidental; and coincidence is far more common in the galaxy than people realise.

*You are all characters to me

Captain's Blog
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2024 »
HAL: We interrupt the smooth narrative flow to bring you the final episode of Captain's Blog. The penultimate episode will follow on April 1st.

A long time ago, in a forum far away...
(That's my way of boldly going.)

Quote from: the ever present past
Forgive and forget, the advice goes. They orbit each other. The entire affair had me examining them like an astronomer, wondering if I'd get to land on either.

I call this one Now we're cooking:
History does rhyme
If you give it enough time
The sage asks for thyme

The rabbits got named Adam and Eve. We let them off at the nearest verdant planet, taking care there wasn't already an agricultural society in situ to cause needless strife. Their new improved size translates to a big promotion up the food chain.

Zanda had already input the coordinates for the Death Star (that had to be an exaggeration, right?) when I told him to hold on. I had a better idea.

. . .

Institutional memory isn't what it used to be.

. . .

I loved that ship, whatever love means. But it was time to move on.

No more Prime Directives for me, though I already scuppered that with Eve and Adam; who knows what eukaryote would have ruled otherwise. No more beaming nonsense either. That thing was well past warranty anyway. I set my shuttle down at the top of the highest hill. Call it Ararat. Zanda's parting joke gift was a copy of Of Mice And Men. Jokes are meant to be funny, I told him. It is funny, said HAL, who was of course right. He made me a mixtape with only one song on it.

A subroutine told him you can't make a mixtape with a single song, so he added another.

Then a third: "For luck. I'm starting to get the hang of this now."

The Chief Engineer promised to drive the Enterprise into the nearest sun after dropping Zanda off on Risa to look at things and try new drinks. "I'm dying anyway," Doestoevsky told me. "We all are." I pictured him and HAL going out like Thelma and Louise. Still, I hoped he swerved away at the last second. He's the one who sent me that sampler. "Is it really going to end like this?" I asked the fourth wall.


I'll allow a quick Q&A. You, in the rapidly unravelling jumper. No, the burnt sienna.

Why another spoiler?

It satisfies my insatiable appetite for obscurity.

You, diagonal to burnt sienna. With the kind of moiré effect.

What's the significance of 'POACHER'?

I'm sorry, that's all we have time for. [Checks watch.] Very well, one more. You, the third nose piercing on the left.

I had my heart set on another season.

It could still go that way. Anything you can write yourself into, you can write yourself back out of. Depends how much money is dangled in front of me.

Captain's Blog: Ship of Fools
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2024 »
By the time I got to the transporter room the landing party had grown to include the entire ship's crew, by the look of the queue outside. It turned out everybody had enough holiday entitlement accrued, and there was nothing in Federation regs to prohibit them from all taking it at the same time.

Dostoevsky stayed behind, his idea of R&R being recalibrating the warp drive and a good stiff Bach.

Zanda also remained, to steer the ship in case HAL got suicidal again. The only other person to ace the Kobayashi Maru, he's always been my break-in-case-of-emergency guy, to Number One's consternation.

The mission, in case I haven't mentioned it, had been scrubbed. Admiral Claud hadn't explained; didn't have to. We're all just pawns in a game of 3D chess. Even me.

The mood was festive, but there's always one. "Can we get a move on?" complained Monkers, fanning herself with a copy of Moby Dick, beach reading replicated for the occasion. From the splayed pages it was obvious she'd neglected to add the words inside. I wasn't even sure this planet had beaches.

Rule #1 of the beaming manual is Be Careful. Or it should be. Do something often enough and you're bound to get slipshod. By the time it was our group's turn (I could've jumped the queue but wasn't in any hurry), Rogerzilla, today's beam technician, was zapping larger and larger numbers at a time without paying close attention to his instruments. I was about to have a word when he suddenly shouted "Banzai!" and leapt amongst us as we dematerialised, apparently not wanting to be a rotten egg.

The first thing I noticed when we firmed up at the other end was a godawful smell. Like rotten eggs. Funny, I wasn't aware of Iota Geminorum III being hydrogen sulfide rich. Then it all went black for a little while.

"Easy," said Winjim, applying a compress to my forehead as I came round. "You're lucky to still be you."

Not everyone in my party had been so fortunate. As near as could be pieced together, the holodeck database had somehow got ported to the transporter room, resulting in the worst beaming incident since the captain of the Vorpal went mad and pushed all the levers up to 11 on the ship's entire command structure. Most of them are still technically primates, but what a way to collect a pension.

The transpo guy had indeed turned into a big bad ovum, his holo-fantasy evidently to have been laid by a chicken.

Crewman Cudzo had left the animal kingdom. Our botanist positively ID'd him as a noxious knotweed. Crewman Icowden was going to be sick if he kept chewing that cud.

Lieutenant Raven was what you'd expect. "Nevermore," she said to me by way of greeting, bait I'd be tempted to take if I didn't already have enough on my plate.

Counsellor Tool had also lost weight, as suited his transformation into a Trill symbiont. Actually not a bad gig, I suppose, provided a host was in the offing. A penguin was waddling around too, looking suitably vacant upstairs, but before I could ask, Monkers barged into my hospital room.

He was still human, but now a bloke, which irked him something awful.

"That's easily changed," I told him, nodding at Winjim. "A matter of paperwork." I could see he dressed left.

The doctor snorted, prompting Monkers to leave in a huff.

"Number One?" I asked, grimacing in advance. "Seven? Aurora? (Better keep the symbiont away from her.) Alf?"

"All safe and sound," said Wimjim. "I like how you snuck Alf in at the last minute."

"Good ol' Alf," I said. "Remind me. What's his rank again?"

"Deus ex machina," said Winjim with a shrug. "If my Latin is still any good, that makes him some sort of mechanic. Shame he's down here. We're not going anywhere till the beaming machine is fixed. Dostoevky has a Do Not Disturb message on his answercomm."

It's a little late for that, I didn't say.

"Weather's far too turbulant for shuttles to make landfall," he concluded his report.

That didn't sound good.

"Captain!" came a familiar voice at the door. That sounded even worse. It was my old flame Harry Kim.

We'd both been so young. Her father had disapproved, which of course made me irresistible. I'd even fought a duel over her with a Klingon.

I forget what had rent us asunder...

"You frakked my bestie," she said, as if she'd just read my mind. Well she was a telepath, unlike Tool, who was looking very peaked in the corner. Winjim had left him a bowl of water, not having much experience with that species.

"Couldn't be helped," I said. "Hormones."

"Boy did she," Kim replied tartly. A femtenant whispered in her ear, then gave it a nibble. She really was trying to get a rise out of me.

Just then an almighty clap of thunder shook the room to its foundations.

"About that," said Kim. "The planet is due for a complete drenching. It'll be biblical. If past drenchings are anything to go by, it should wipe out all life that can't swim or float. Hope you brought a brolly."

I looked at Winjim. This could be a problem. "I'm a doctor, not a weatherman," he said.

"Don't worry, we've got arks standing by," said Kim. "Even a spare for your lot."

"Ark Y," said what I took to be her Number One.

"Ark Y," agreed Kim. "I've taken the liberty of doing a headcount. It'll be cozy, but you'll all fit."

Time to horrify myself. "I've already got a ship," I replied. "I'm not staying."

Winjim gathered the troops, shaking his head all the while. "Don't leave me with them," he pleaded, referring to the crew right in front of them. His bedside manner hadn't improved.

"It's too dangerous to beam up more than one person at a time, and even that's not something I'm prepared to take a chance on with anyone but myself," I announced. "Don't worry, I'll pick you up when it's over. Forty days, would you say?" This last addressed to Kim.

"Try forty years," she corrected me. "It'll fly by with the right company." More ear nibbling.

That was one for the books.

"What about us?" said a rabbit who appeared as if out of a hat. Have I mentioned they can talk here? It takes all kinds.

"Shame you didn't build your own ark," said Kim. "Why do you think this planet periodically floods? It's nature's way of keeping you in check."

It was time to invoke the Prime Directive. "Looks like you're frakked," I said to the bunny.

Kim gave me a tour of Ark Y to set my mind at rest as to its suitability. It was fully outfitted, including a creche for cadets and a padded room for time outs.

Some of the guys were chosen not quite at random for repopulation duties with the natives. Can't say I envied them, though once upon a time it would've been a dream come true.

We kept the goodbyes brief to give my former crew time to pack, the waters rising by the minute. Veteran Wowbagger took command by straw poll, a surprise upset to Monkers, whose opinion of himself had leapt ever higher with the change of chromosomes.

Tool the sentient slug found a host in Ensign Pingu, who had tested positive as the emperor penguin. The change to flightless waterfowl was the push Aurora needed, and she consequently took a cabin with Seven. Winjim wangled himself a spot nearby, all the better for unrequited trysts. Number One (mine) promised to keep an eye on all of them. I told him not to bother: he had done his duty.

Most everyone else was… a blur, to put it kindly. "Nevermore?" squawked Lt. Raven as we closed the ark door on them.

I say we, because Alf insisted on staying with me. I couldn't dissuade him, even under pain of being stripped of his rank.

As the arks headed towards the horizon, the last of the dry land a scrap just big enough to hold the both of us and a whole lot of desperate looking rabbits, Dostoevsky roused himself from afar: "I can beam the little ones into the old whale enclosure," he said. "If they don't mind being a test run."

I looked at the rabbit who had spoken up before. He kissed his foot for luck.

And like that they were gone.

I gave it a minute. "Don't leave us in suspense, Dosty."

"It didnae go quite as planned," he replied. "We've got one big coney up here. And he's hungry."

"I'll try a rescan," said Zanda, also on the line.

Another minute: "Now we've got two. And they look frisky."

"Better quit while we're ahead," I suggested. "Now it's my turn."

My life flashed before my eyes. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Then I was home sweet home. All of me, life size: no more, no less. What a relief.

That left Alf.

"Who's Alf?" asked Zanda. "I have no record of his personnel file, and a scan of the planet's surface shows nobody fitting that description."

Mysteries abound.

"But a whole lot of hanky-panky going on in those boats," he added.

"How's Ark Y doing?" I felt a pang; hoped to god it wasn't nostalgia.

"They've already lost their way, Captain."

"They're on their own journey now," said HAL, waxing philosophic. "Where to next?"