STAR TREK: COREL
by Robert Gillis (1996)

“STAR TREK” is a registered trademark of and © CBS (or Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom Corp). This story is fan fiction and absolutely no copyright infringement is intended by anything on these pages.

INTRODUCTION. Sometime in 1992, my best friend, David, moved to New Jersey to get married. As one way for us to stay in touch, I conceived a Star Trek story called “Beyond the Warp Barrier” – I’d write one chapter, he’d write the next, and so on.

This was BEFORE email, so I actually MAILED a chapter to David and he would MAIL me a chapter back. Eventually I scanned in what we had and we went back and forth on it for a year. The story grew massive; it was over 100 typed pages long before the final two chapters were written.

The story then remained unfinished, in stasis, for over two years. In 1995, I decided it needed a proper ending. I talked with David during a visit to Jersey and we agreed certain elements should be present, and he came up with the idea of “War Hammer” and a heavier Starfleet Marine presence. Having just seen the movie, “Crimson Tide,” I said I wanted to echo that movie’s scenes of highlighting the different command styles of two very different officers. A lot of that comes into place once we are aboard “War Hammer.” I even stole the “We’re here to preserve democracy, not practice it” line. Of course, in that movie, Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington are not lifelong friends, but the dynamic was perfect for what I had in mind.

As I wrote the final two chapters. I tried not only to properly finish what had become an epic adventure, but endeavor to summarize a 15 year friendship as it reached a turning point. For the first time since high school, David was no longer a quick trip to Boston away, and discussions of politics, girls, life, Trek, comic books, and all we had shared for 15 years would now be relegated to occasional visits and phone calls (and later, email).

Rather than publish the entire 150+ page tome here, I have elected to show just the final two chapters I wrote. They capture the essence of the friendship I shared with David.

It was never the plan to write this as a straightforward Trek story, but more of a Trek story where bizarre, Douglas Adams/Police Squad moments sometimes occur – usually without anyone noticing. That’s also why things sometimes explode for no reason or someone makes a bizarre cameo. That’s why some of the Enterprise crew, like Drebin, are decidedly, ummm… dysfunctional. That’s what made it fun. It keeps things from getting TOO serious and throws the reader off guard. And it’s damned funny.

There are roughly nine bazillion in-jokes and pop-culture references in this one; you will no doubt recognize many of them. For example, the planet Corel—oddly—has a lot of place names identical to Earth. Kyle, the Teenage Bobby, had his genesis in the “Death of Superman” DC comics series (“Don’t’ call me Superboy” / “Don’t call me Bobby”). Grand Kadooment Day is a real holiday in Barbados. And so on. Oh—double points if you “get” the name of Corel’s leader.

THE STORY SO FAR: The year is 2293, shortly after the events of Star Trek VI and before the launch of the Enterprise-B in Star Trek: Generations. After decades of adventures and saving the universe on a regular basis, time-traveling Starfleet captains Robert Gillis and David McEntire are in command of the constitution class starship USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A, its decommissioning temporarily delayed for warp drive tests, on one last joyride before retiring their Starfleet commissions and returning for good to their homes and wives in the 20th century…

Along the way, the crew has weathered a chapter-spanning debate on which of the two captains should rightfully command the Enterprise, to an accident that propels the ship “Beyond the Warp Barrier” into unknown space, to David’s bachelor party in a far corner of the galaxy, to a state of war with the Romulans, to the ferreting out of a media spy by McEntire and Monica, to a holographic Roman Empire gone awry on the amusement planet “Wallyworld,” to battles with the oblivious Starfleet Commander H. Ross Perot (continuing the grand Star Trek tradition of clueless Admirals and smart Captains).

Finally, the adventure led our heroes to the planet Corel, the fourth of eight worlds orbiting the star Dovum. A lush, beautiful planet populated by intelligent humanoids, Corel has become a diplomatic hotspot, a planet petitioning for Federation membership but on the brink of civil war. Corel’s chief export is its extraordinary spring water, reputed to possess healing powers as well as other enjoyable side effects.

Corellian rebels kidnapped Gillis and placed him on trial in a ruse to discredit Starfleet and assist a terrorist faction in taking over the legitimate planetary government on Corel. With McEntire defending him, Gillis was exonerated of all charges, and the duo assisted in the capture of the Corellian rebel Auda.

As the final part of the story begins, Gillis has received an invitation back to Corel by its leader as an overture of peace.

THE PLAYERS:

Captain Robert J. Gillis: Temporarily in command of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A before its decommissioning. After years of adventures, he has invited McEntire for “one last joyride” and a final mission before they retire from Starfleet. His portrayal is how I see myself (usually).

Captain David McEntire: Supreme Commander of the Starfleet Marines, Starfleet legend, Gillis’ best friend of many decades, also visiting from the 20th century; recently married and eager to retire and return to life in 20th century New Jersey. His portrayal is exactly how I perceive David.

Captain Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. The legendary engineer of Star Trek fame and the only “real” Enterprise crew member used here; Scotty has retired and is about to attend the christening of the Enterprise-B when McEntire asks for his help. Rest in peace, Jimmy Doohan. You were a gem.

Commander John Black: Black has been McEntire’s second in command of the Starfleet Marines for over a decade. Gillis does not know this and believes him only to be the Chief Engineer. He is the only person besides Gillis that McEntire trusts with his life.

Lieutenant Yeldarb: Helmsman / Weapons. A Tamarian, a race first introduced in the ST: TNG episode “Darmok.” Tamarians speak entirely by metaphor, referencing mythological and historical people and events from their culture. The problem with communicating in this manner is without knowing the meaning of the reference, there is no way to understand the metaphor. It’s also hilarious.

Lieutenant Seaborne: Ship’s navigator. We don’t much else about her.

Lieutenant Commander Frank Drebin: Security Chief. One of Gillis’ more questionable crew choices, Drebin doesn’t seem to have a clue about anything and one wonders how he ever made it through Starfleet.

Admiral H. Ross Perot: The Commander of Starfleet: A direct descendant of the presidential candidate of 1990s and EXACTLY like him.

Monica: The mysterious former bartender aboard the Enterprise, but actually a secret agent, working for years for McEntire.

Kyle: A duplicate of Captain Gillis created by a transporter accident in 1981, Kyle relocated to the 23rd century shortly after his creation and his existence was unknown until now. He ages very slowly and still appears about 17 years old, but is very different than Gillis was at that age.

Leader Aar-cu’rY: The rightfully elected democratic president of the planet Corel. A good man, an excellent leader, in the penultimate year of his term.

Auda: The second in command of the terrorist movement to overthrow Core’s legitimate government. His plans have been previously thwarted by McEntire and Gillis, and he was arrested at Gillis’ trial after a foiled assassination attempt.

Chand’Leros: Third in command of the terrorist movement to overthrow Corel’s legitimate government.

Donny Osmond: Yes, THE Donny Osmond. Since high school, David and I had this silly joke that Donny Osmond was constantly thwarting David’s plans to take over the Earth. When it came time to find the evil mastermind behind all of Corel’s troubles, well naturally, it HAD to be Donny Osmond.

GOT ALL THAT????!!!

IF NOT, then in the words of Austin Powers’ boss, Basil Exposition: “I suggest you don’t worry about those things and just enjoy yourself.”


STAR TREK: COREL
BY ROBERT GILLIS
WRITTEN 1993-1996

For David… It was… fun… Oh, my!

STARFLEET COMMAND
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
PLANET EARTH
THE LATE 23RD CENTURY
STARDATE: 9679.4

In Starfleet’s main conference room, a young lieutenant pounded a large iron mallet on the highly polished glass table. “This briefing is classified. Ladies, gentleman, and miscellaneous…” (a nod to the recent repeal of the ban against gays in the Starfleet) “…the C & C.” Everyone in the room rose as a cacophony of trumpets introduced the Commander of Starfleet.

Admiral H. Ross Perot whooshed into room and stepped to his podium. “Morning, folks, I’ll get right to the point, because that’s the type of man I am. No-nonsense. Direct. To the point. On the straight and narrow. No fluff and no filler. Just the meat and potatoes.”

“Admiral…” an aide interrupted politely.

“Oh, right.” Perot began setting up some charts. “Now, what in the Sam hill is the deal with these dang “stardates?” We’re fast approaching stardate 10000, and it isn’t even New Years. I see people running around saying we should have a celebration. Doesn’t make sense. These “stardates” don’t seem to correspond to any real month or year, not even…”


USS ENTERPRISE
NCC-1701-A
THE LATE 23RD CENTURY
STARDATE: 9679.9

Captain Robert J. Gillis, the beloved Starfleet officer and author of “Coca Cola: It isn’t just for breakfast anymore!” stepped onto the bridge with his relief crew. The duty officer, a fresh-faced 19 year old cadet, began, “Good morning, Captain. All systems functioning normally, except transporter room four, which is down for routine maintenance, and we are scheduled to rendezvous with starship Excalibur in 21 hours for supply drop-off.”

“Thank you, Ensign. I relieve you.”

“I stand relieved, sir.”

Gillis took the command chair and placed his cup of cappuccino next to it. “Begin day watch.” The lights came up to full intensity as Yeldarb, Drebin, Seaborn and other crew members replaced their night-shift counterparts.

Yeldarb, a Tamarian, took the seat that the night Helmsmen, Lefler, vacated. “Great moons of Krypton! Solomon Grundy is stealing my cape! But why?” Yeldarb chirped happily.

Lefler responded, “The amazing Beastra, her large—”

“Excuse me, Mr. Lefler,” Gillis said, “but haven’t we chatted about this issue?”

“Sorry Captain. I just find the Tamarian language fascinating, and I’m learning it rapidly.”

“Mr. Lefler, just last week you inadvertently insulted all of Lieutenant Yeldarb’s male relatives going back two thousand generations, and yesterday you unknowingly challenged him to rip your heart out of your chest, cover it with Spam and shove it up your nose.”

“Captain—”

“Mr. Lefler, God knows I like to promote universal harmony and all that, but please master the Tamarian language before you communicate. Your good intentions might tell Yeldarb to fire an antimatter spread at a starbase or something.” To Yeldarb’s hurt look, he explained, “I wasn’t insulting you, Yeldarb. I just feel Lefler should have a better command of your language before he converses with you in it. Okey-dokey?”

“Aye, sir,” Lefler said agreeably.

“Mickey Mouse on Tapioca Mountain,” Yeldarb added.

Gillis sighed. Yeldarb made about as much sense as a football bat.

Drebin began, “Captain, we are receiving a code-B message for you. Point of transmission is the planet Corel.”

The MASTER SITUATION screen displayed the words “Uh-oh” but remained silent.

Gillis raised an eyebrow. “I see. Pipe it through to my ready room.”

“Uh, sir? You don’t have a ready room.”

“Oh, that’s right. Pipe it to my quarters.”


Thirty minutes later, Gillis entered the quarters of his first officer (for now) and best friend (always), Captain David McEntire, who was busily working up a sweat on a sparkling new Soloflex machine.

“Good morning, Mon Ami!” McEntire said cheerfully. “Come to see what a real athlete looks like?”

Gillis smiled. “I just had a very interesting phone call. Aar-cu’rY, supreme leader of the planet Corel, has invited me to a state dinner on the island of Abu-Taya. Aar-cu’rY says Corel has no hard feelings over the trial and this is a show of good faith, a way to foster amenity, and bring peace and brotherhood to the galaxy and all that.”

A look of concern crossed McEntire’s face. He jumped off the exercise machine and grabbed a towel and bottle of vitamin complex. Retrieving a Coca-Cola from the food selector, he offered it to Gillis and said, “They’re inviting you back after the trial and that entire fiasco? I don’t know, Bobby. The Corellians don’t exactly like you.”

“Feeling’s mutual, but this means more than just that. If I go, it could be a step toward getting Corel into the Federation. History will say I was a hell of a guy for doing it.” He finished the Coca-Cola and ordered another.

“You’re a better man than I, my friend.”

Gillis finished the Coca-Cola and ordered another. “David, you usually say that when you think I’m about to do something really stupid, but you don’t want to hurt my feelings. Is that the case here?”

McEntire nodded. “Exactly. You don’t belong on Corel anymore than I belong…” He thought for a moment. “Then again, the entire galaxy loves me. Sorry, bad metaphor. Anyway, did you talk to Starfleet?”

“Uh huh. Perot said the decision is mine.” Gillis sat on the Soloflex machine, set the weight setting to *much* heavier than what McEntire had been bench-pressing, and easily counted off thirty reps.

McEntire tossed the towel into a recycler. “And?”

“I’ve decided to go.”


THREE DAYS LATER
UNITED FEDERATION OF PLANETS
OFFICIAL STARFLEET NEWS BROADCAST

Captain Robert J. Gillis, the beloved Starfleet officer and author of “Coca Cola: It isn’t just for breakfast anymore!” was apparently killed today by a band of terrorists on the planet Corel. Gillis’ shuttle, the Lorrah, was struck by a Corellian purple death ray and blasted from the skies over Corel. The ship disintegrated on impact with the Kalellian sea, six hundred kilometers northwest of Kancamagus. Aar-cu’rY, the leader of Corel, had invited Gillis to Corel for a state dinner as a gesture of peace, after Gillis’ exoneration in what many have called a “show trial” to embarrass Starfleet and weaken planetary support for Corellian membership in the Federation. An outlaw group calling themselves the “Bob-be-gones” fired on and apparently killed Gillis this morning. The wreckage spans fifty kilometers and no body has been found. A full investigation is underway, and Leader Aar-cu’rY assured the Federation the “Bob-be-gones” will be found and tried for this heinous crime…


TWO WEEKS LATER
BREAKERS POINT, BARBADOS
PLANET COREL

Captain David McEntire made his way up the coast to the beautiful cottage he owned on Breakers Point. Years before, when he’d learned Corel had an island called Barbados, he had to see it. The island, named for an ancient Corellian expression meaning “little bay,” was as beautiful as its Terran counterpart. Blue-green waves crashed against the sandy-brown reefs in thunderous blasts of fury. Violet-colored gin blossoms were in bloom everywhere. A myriad of exotic fish swam inches below the surface of the blue lagoon, and the Zephyr winds that blew on high kept the temperature very comfortable year-round.

McEntire had been so impressed he purchased the land immediately, and had a cozy home built there. He and Bobby had gone scuba diving off the local reef and stayed there with the McEntire family years before, and it was here that he and Diana spent a very romantic shore leave.

For the past several hours, McEntire had been gathering the last of his possessions. He’d ordered the properly sold, and planned to use the profits in Bobby’s name to do some good in the universe. He could never bear to return to this planet. It has cost him the life of his best friend.

“Personal log, supplemental: After two weeks, the search for Captain Gillis has been abandoned. No trace of his body has been found. Four Starfleet vessels—the Intrepid, Asimov, Meyer, and the Enterprise—are in orbit, but our investigation have been repeatedly thwarted by the Corellians. They have only allowed skeleton crews of Starfleet officers and Marines to beam down, fearing that their presence might ignite an already volatile situation, and our ship scans haven’t been able to locate much of the shuttle wreckage or the missing flight recorder. Bobby’s death has devastated not only the Enterprise but the entire Federation.”

He placed another box of books into a crate and carried them to the beam coordinates.

“David?”

McEntire spun toward the familiar voice. Despite his grief, he broke into a warm smile. “Scotty!”

Captain Montgomery Scott, the former chief engineer of the starship Enterprise extended his hand. “Aye, David. How are yea, lad?”

I’ve been much, much better, Scotty. I’ve lost my best friend and the Federation has lost one of its most celebrated ambassadors.”

Scotty looked sad. “Aye, he was a jewel of a lad. Y’know, because of Gillis’ death, morale throughout known space is at an all-time low. Message of condolence are pouring in from all corners of the galaxy, from Romulus to Qo’noS and the bottle city of Kandor.”

McEntire nodded. “Even the Borg sent a cryptic message that read, ‘Gillis was relevant.’”

There was a lengthy silence as both men fell into thought about their love for their remarkable friend, then McEntire asked, “What are you doing on Corel, Scotty?”

“I thought I’d spend my retirement sailing the seas of this world, but after what happened to our friend, I canna stay here. I arranged to have my boat shipped to the Norpin V Colony. I’ll be attending the dedication ceremony for the Enterprise-B, and then I sail inta retirement.”

McEntire shook the hand of his old friend. ‘Then we have some time.” He paused as his communicator bleeped. “McEntire here.”

 

“Captain,” Drebin began, “the Intrepid, Meyer, and Asimov have left orbit. You asked to be informed when that happened.”

“Thank you, Mr. Drebin. We’re about ready here.” He turned to Scott. “Coming?”

Scott broke into a huge smile. “I’d be grateful if ye’d get me off this bloody hellhole.”

David placed the last duffel bag on the grass and took a final look around. “With pleasure, sir.” He flipped open his communicator. “Enterprise, two to beam up. Prepare our best quarters for a very special guest.”

In a flash, the transporter beam took them.


USS ENTERPRISE
NCC-1701-A

In the main conference room, McEntire had just completed the mission briefing, and introduced Scott to the rest of the crew.

Commander John Black looked at McEntire. “Captain, it’s not often one gets to work with a living legend. I was wondering if Captain Scott might upgrade his status to active while he is here. We’d all like the opportunity to work with him.”

Scotty smiled, somewhat bashfully. “Uh happily volunteer to help out in any way ah can.”

McEntire leaned forward in his chair. “Excellent, excellent.” He cleared his throat. “As for the memorial service, I’m not holding one until I’m sure Captain Gillis is really dead. That is all.”

The meeting adjourned, the command crew dispersed, and McEntire took a turbolift to deck five. The doors to his quarters swished shut heavily, and the facade of calm composure and command leadership dropped from the face of Captain David McEntire.

David knew that he owed it Bobby to him to find out the truth. He would return to Corel and find the body and return it for a proper Starfleet burial. He owed it to Bobby, to Susan, and yes, even to the damn dogs.

There were many unanswered questions on that planet, and if he had to lead a squadron of his best Marines to level Corel to find the answers, so much the better.

“Computer, audio playback, Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. Play it all. Twice.” He walked to a cabinet and took out his best wine, a bottle of vintage Chateau Picard. He drank a toast to Bobby, and then another. He got very, very drunk, cried, and fell asleep.


The pathetic, ragged excuse for a man looked old. Older than dirt. His mangy, stringy and filthy hair fell around his shoulders and his back was burned with the fiery brand of toiling under the Dovum star. He could barely walk upright anymore, and every muscle in his body had been overworked to the point of destruction. The battered remains of a Starfleet captain’s uniform hung over him, the only link to his past, but he’d long since forgotten that previous life.

As he had done countless times, the bearded, pathetic creature heaved a gigantic chunk of Corellian proto-chocolate, mined from the chocolate mines of A’Riel, placed it on a marble slab, and methodically began crushing it with a heavy sledge hammer. In a few hours, the powdery residue that remained would be loaded by other prisoners for shipment to the gourmet chocolate factories in Corel’s capital city. By that time, he would have already begun the process anew, heaving another heavy chunk of chocolate onto the pallet. At dusk, eighteen hours after his toil began, he would be allowed back to his cell to sleep. He’d known no other life for a very long time.

Suddenly, a loud noise rocked the air overhead and people were screaming. In the distance, there was an explosion. A sign bearing the words, “Greasy Lake Rehabilitation Colony” exploded past him into flaming splinters.

“Captain Gillis!”

Captain David McEntire recoiled in horror at his friend’s appearance. “Bobby! It’s me! It’s David!”

“Oh, that’s very kind of you. I would like waffles very much,” Gillis replied.

“Bobby, don’t you know me?”

“Wait a minute,” Gillis said weakly. He took a huge wad of cotton out of his left ear that actually made a thud as he dropped it to the ground and took an old-fashioned hearing aid tube out of his pocket. “Speak into here, sonny.”

“Bobby, it’s David!”

“Raven?” Gillis asked. “There are no ravens on Corel.”

“David McEntire! Captain of the Enterprise! Your best friend!”

“Day-vid?” Gillis asked weakly. “Day-vid?” His eyes suddenly opened wide with recognition and he screamed, cupped his ears and fell to the ground, sobbing. “Aarrrrrrrrrrrrrggggghhh! Day-vid! You left me here… For years… How could you do that?”

McEntire shook his head. “What’s happened to you?”

But the haggard man, who looked over one hundred years old, tried to get up and crumbled back to the ground, sputtering, “Doomsday… Is he… Is he…”

“Bobby, I’ll take you back to the Enterprise! We can save you!”

Gillis’ eyes filled with tears. “The ship… out of danger?”

“Bobby, I…”

A small trickle of blood escaped from Gillis’ mouth. “It was…” He gasped. “…Fun… Oh, my…”

Gillis died in his arms, and once again McEntire woke up shaking from the nightmare.


In shuttle bay one, crewman Luca leapt out of the way just as a searing beam of heat vaporized the drive component he’d been working on.

“Hey!” Luca shouted. “Who’s the—” His mouth dropped as he watched a bat-like figure swoop from the high ceiling and alight next to him.

“Blasphemer!” the “avenging angel” (as he would later be described) shouted, eyes blazing. Surrounded by a halo of red light, the apparition’s eyes were concealed behind sunglasses, and he was dressed in a form fitting black spandex and rubber bodysuit nearly identical to the one in the Batman movies from the 20th century that Luca, of course, knew nothing about.

Who the hell are you?” Luca yelped, scrambling to escape. He slammed into a corner and fell to the deck. Whimpering, he cried out, “Captain Gillis? But you’re dead!”

“Death can be very liberating.” There wasn’t a trace of compassion from the tall, muscular man. “Blasphemer! I eradicated your unholy icon!”

In a brilliant flash, the angel was gone. Catching his breath, Luca attempted to compose himself, failed, and finally made his way to a wall panel and snapped the comm button.

“Intruder alert,” he announced. In the distance, he could swear he heard laughter.


Nursing the worst hangover of his entire life, McEntire stared at the view screen.

“Admiral, with all respect, you haven’t addressed my request.”

The Starfleet Commander smiled. “Now, David, we all loved Captain Bobby but I can’t let you run loose on Corel. The people have chosen me to be Starfleet Commander, and I take that very seriously. I’m here to serve.”

“Admiral, we need to talk about Corel.”

“The Corellian PO-lice have the situation under—”

“The Corellian authorities are brainless fools,” McEntire replied.

“And those fools as you call them have made it very clear that Federation help is neither requested nor required.”

“I believe Captain Gillis may still be alive on Corel.”

“Are you saying they stole Captain Bobby? Jeez-Louise, the times we live in. Everything’s stolen these days. Why, the fax machine is nothing more than a waffle iron with a phone attached! I tell you—”

How can he be deaf with ears like that? “Admiral…”

“David, you’re not going to Corel to conduct your own investigation. That’s the problem with this Federation, David. Lobbyists! Too many people running around with their own agenda and ideas, and no one’s talking to each other. Lookie here—”

“I’m sorry, Admiral, please repeat that last statement, we’re losing communications.”

With a grand gesture, McEntire shattered his communications console with a solid kick, then flipped open his communicator. “Mr. Drebin, I want radio silence until further notice. I don’t care who’s calling. No response and no marker beacon.”

“Gosh, sir! That will be like pretending our communications system doesn’t work!”

McEntire sighed heavily. “My chief of security. God in Heaven.” Slowly, he changed into off-duty clothes—a simple navy tunic and black slacks—and headed for engineering. Sure enough, he found Scotty, explaining the principles behind the cloaking device of a Klingon bird of prey to a captive audience.

“This is data we downloaded from the bird of prey after it was recovered from San Francisco Bay. Since Klingons don’t defect, we’ll take whut we can get. Now, then, ye can see by the design of the—Oh, Captain McEntire!”

The training crew jumped to attention, but McEntire waved his hand tiredly. “As you were. Captain Scott, there’s a situation on deck five that requires our attention.”

Scotty nodded and shut off the display screen. “Sorry, lads, duty calls. We’ll talk more later. Dismissed.”

As the crew dispersed, McEntire couldn’t stop a smile. “Scotty, they were enthralled. You could have a profitable career in lecturing!”

Scotty made a hmmpf noise and dismissed that. “Um just an old man who’s seen a lot of the galaxy’s wonders, David. So, what’s this problem?”

“Scotty, I—” He gestured for him to follow him into a turbolift. “Bridge,” he said as the doors shut, then added, “Halt.” As the lift stopped, he continued, “I need to go back to Corel to find out what’s happened. You must understand, this is against direct orders.”

“You think Gillis is alive?”

“No, not really. Well, maybe. But I can’t dismiss the feelings that the Corellians know more than they’re letting on. Also, we should find his body and return it to Earth.”

Scotty’s said softly, “David, the Corellians dinna find anything, and a Federation watch post monitored the shuttle being hit. You’ve no proof, no idea where to look, and you’ve been forbidden to conduct this investigation. All you’re working on is a feeling that something is amiss. Do I have it all right?”

McEntire nodded. “Yes, that’s it, Scotty.”

“Then uv just one question. How can I help?”


In the ship’s arboretum, ensign Cindy Allenby gave her companion another kiss. “That was amazing, lover.” She snuggled closer to him and added, “You never looked like this at 17 before. No polyester this time around, muscles to die for, and the earring gives you character.”

The young man shrugged. “It’s not easy being me, babe. Hell of a legacy to live up to.”

“Tell me more about yourself.”

He smiled happily. “I am merely a humble repairman of hearts as we cruise the highway of life; I am the MacGyver of souls that sit along the dark, lonely roads, trying to repair them enough to find their way to the Sunoco of love.”

“Is that a poem, Bobby?”

“Hey!” the young man snapped. “Don’t call me Bobby!”


“Let me get these so-called facts straight,” MacDonald said, leaning back in his chair. Behind him, the stars shot past the observation windows in spectacular streaks of light. “There have been six sightings of an ‘avenging angel’, speaking in Captain Gillis’ voice, putting terror in the hearts of my crew. In other news, a teen-ager who is identical in appearance to our beloved Captain Gillis is strolling through the ship, seducing female crew members, affixing Brooke Shields posters to the walls and in general making a nuisance of himself.”

“That’s about it, Captain,” Black said.

McEntire nodded slowly. “This entire crew seems on the verge of obsessive behavior concerning Captain Gillis. He was an officer and our friend. For some of us, he was the only thing keeping us on the ship.” He looked directly at Jayna, the Betazoid diplomat who smiled that annoying smile which meant she had nothing helpful to add. As usual. “We’ll all miss him, but life must go on.” His tone softened. “With all these so-called sightings, clearly something is amiss. But until we have proof positive that Captain Gillis is back from the dead, I want these rumors squelched… I’m charging all of you with finding out what’s really going on with these ‘sightings.’ Lieutenant Yeldarb, you’ll be in charge.”

Drebin sighed. “It’s not going to be easy, Captain.”

“Well, ignite the midnight petroleum if you have to. “I want facts, people, not conjecture.” McEntire tapped his finger on the table slowly. “I want answers.”

The intercom blooped. “Captain, we are secure from warp speed, now entering Dovum sector.”

“Thank you. Slow to impulse speed and put us in high orbit of Corel.” He returned his attention to the group. “Captain Scott and I are about to undertake an undercover and very unauthorized mission on Corel. Mr. Black, I want you to assume command of the Enterprise. Put the ship behind the dark side of Corel’s largest moon, A’Riel, and await our signal.”



PLANET COREL

“Captain’s log, supplemental. Scotty and I have beamed down to Silver Springs, a fishing community on the Kalellian sea, about eighty kilometers from where Gillis’ shuttle crashed. Once we secure transportation, we will examine the crash site. After that, our destination is Chocora, a small uninhabited island about five kilometers from the crash area. It makes sense that if Gillis had survived the attack on the Lorrah, he would have made way for the nearest land.”

They approached a small docking area, and a native by the name of Bil (a Corellian word meaning, “I am not what I appear to be.”) Amazing language, huh?

“Aaayyyy, Mon!” the cheerful native began, “Good morning to ya! Ya want a tour? Beel show ya da prettiest sights around. I know the area real good. I be the smartest in Silver Springs ya know mon!”

“The local hero,” McEntire said with a smile.

“Ya that’s me,” Bil replied with a toothy grin. “Pretty seen-ry round here, mon. Beel be ya guide. Show ya the Scarlet Forest, the coast of Alamoosook. Maybe even get to see da pretty dolphins off Reba’s cove.” Bil nodded enthusiastically. “So where do you want ta go, mon?”

“Actually, Bil, my friend and I just want to rent one of your fine boats here and do a little deep-sea fishing by ourselves.”

“Ooohhh, sorry mon, I couldn’t just loanya one of my boats!”

“We have a lot of money to spend, Bil.” McEntire produced a handful of replicated diamonds. They sparkled in Dovum’s light to produce an entrancing glow. Bil’s eyes lit up in the same color.

“I have just da boat for ya, mon. She’s a beauty and by coincidence she costs just as much as the pretty stones in ya hand. We gotta deal, mon?”

While Scotty covertly scanned the craft for hidden tracking devices and recorders, McEntire and Bil negotiated. The captain didn’t want to appear too obvious, so he haggled a little and finally gave Bil all but three of the synthetic diamonds. Shortly, Scotty and McEntire were in a sleek water craft, and they were en route to the site of the crash.

The waters of the Kalellian sea were choppy, and by the time they’d reached the site, it was raining heavily. McEntire retrieved a tricorder and began scanning. “This is the central area where the shuttle came down. I recommend we start here.”

McEntire and Scott donned Starfleet Marine diving gear and dove into the churning water. Exotic fish and many aquatic life forms that defied description politely moved out of the way as the two officers swam by them. Scotty switched on the communications system.

“David, do you see anything?”

McEntire switched his underwater beacon to full intensity. “Bits and pieces of the wreckage, and the tricorder is going hoopy over a metallic object lodged into some rocks thirty feet below us. I’ll be right back.”

As he dove deeper, McEntire had to pause to admire Scotty – the man was in his seventies, yet handled a difficult dive with seeming ease. He’d have to compliment him on that later, when this was all over.

Within moments, David had found the object—a small terminium cylinder. “I found the flight recorder, Scotty. No way a ship would’ve picked this up from space with all the gravimetric interference. It’s been badly damaged, but it might provide us some clues if Bobby…” He let his voice trail off. “I’m sorry, Scotty. I just can’t accept that he’s gone. What am I going to tell Sue?”

Scotty decided not to get into it—there was no point in getting distracted, and he felt that the Corellians somehow knew they were here, anyway. “Uv samples of the wreckage for analysis.” He slipped them into a large zip-lock bag. “That’s all that’s here.”

“OK, let’s surface and get to our next destination.”

They made their way back to the surface, and after two more dives that found nothing more, they made their way to Chocora, the large island that served as Corel’s chief energy production facility. Nearly 90 per cent of Chocora’s surface was covered with massive solar panels. However, the Corellians took care to preserve this area as well, and lush foliage still covered much of the inner island.

The two Starfleet officers beached the craft. McEntire reached into his duffel bag, withdrew eleven shiny canisters, and began attaching them to the underside of the solar panels.

Suddenly, Scotty realized what his friend was doing. “David, ye cannna do this! This is their power supply and—”

“Relax, old friend,” McEntire said soothingly. “I’m only doing this in case we need a little diversion. I’m planting these KB5’s where they’ll do the least amount of damage. I’ll only use them if we have to.”

Scotty took out a tricorder. “Aye, I keep forgetting that um dealing with the Commander of the Starfleet Marines.” He resumed scanning. “We’ve got company. Humanoid life signs. Three of them.”

“This island is supposedly uninhabited, right?”

“Aye, it’s all automated. ”

“Phasers on stun, Scotty.” They made their way into the lush jungle, passing many beautiful trees and foliage. As they chopped through some underbrush, they were interrupted by the incessant beeping of the tricorder. “They’re just ahead of us,” Scotty whispered.

“Uh oh,” McEntire said. He recognized “Bil” in an official uniform. Any traces of the friendly island accent and simple mannerisms were gone. “Corellian law enforcement officers. They’re constabulary patrolman from the deputy sheriff’s office of police marshals.”

“There’s more to it than just that, David. My tricorder is picking up a the signature flux of a diphasmatronic multispectral antireflection protoresonator beam.”

McEntire blinked. “And that is?”

Scotty grew excited. “Laddie, they’re about to erect a magnetic shield over the island to prevent beaming.”

“You might have said so in the first place, old friend.”

“David, they know we’re here.”

To emphasize that last point, the foliage above them exploded into flame as the local cops—cherry tops—ripped this holy night. The Starfleet officers dove for cover.

“Welcome back to Corel, gentlemen,” maximum lawman Bil shouted. “Captain David McEntire, Captain Montgomery Scott, under article 95 of your interstellar law, I am placing you under arrest. You are charged with criminal planetary trespass and violating the prime directive.” He fired a weapon that caused the trees above to burst into flames.

As Scotty whipped out a batzooka and returned fire, McEntire ripped open his communicator. “Enterprise! Emergency beam out! Now!”

The transporter beam took them just as their rocky cover vanished from Corellian phaser fire and the shield came into being.

Bil cursed the air.

“They know,” he said.



USS ENTERPRISE

The Enterprise stellar cartography lab was bustling with activity. Scotty began, “The Lorrah’s flight recorder memory banks were pretty badly burnt, and even with computer enhancement, all we could make out was this.” He hit a button that made an obligatory bleep sound. The speakers came to life, and above the static, Gillis’ voice could barely be heard:

“Ssssttk relics sssssssjenolansssskkkkttttjenolttt (blap).”

“Jenolan,” McEntire said thoughtfully. “Relics.”

“What does it all mean?” Scotty asked.

“The IRS 1040-EZ form!” Yeldarb exclaimed.

McEntire nodded. “VERY confusing, Lieutenant. Anything further on your investigation of the ghostly sightings of our late Captain?”

“Boston Red Sox, sir,” Yeldarb replied glumly.

McEntire knew a strong negative when he heard it. “Mr. Yeldarb, you’re a funny guy.”

The intercom bleeped. “Captain,” Drebin began, “We are receiving repeated hails from Corel. Leader Aar-cu’rY himself is calling, and he wants you to beam down! Beyond the palace, heavy powered drones are screaming down the boulevard! Rebel urbite and bynite swoopers are already heading into orbit! They know we’re still here, Captain!”

“I thought communications were out, Mr. Drebin?”

“No, sir, I checked everything thoroughly, and nothing is wrong,” he replied proudly.

McEntire watched as Scotty strode over to an access panel, reached inside, and yanked out a handful of opticable that exploded into a shower of sparks. He nodded with approval and added, “Please look again, Mr. Drebin. I’m sure something is wrong with communications.” God, what else can go wrong?

A moment later, the door swished open, and Drebin came racing in with a piece of paper. “Sir! When Admiral Perot couldn’t contact us, he sent us a fax!”

I had to ask, didn’t I? “Read it to us, Lieutenant.”

“It says, ‘Printed on 100% recycled paper!’” he replied.

McEntire closed his eyes. “Does the fax say anything else, Lieutenant?”

“Yes, sir.”

Silence.

“Code: 000 Destruct 0. It would be so simple,” McEntire thought to himself. “Lieutenant Drebin, will you please read all of the fax to us?”

“Yes, sir! It says, ‘Your little unauthorized fishing trip to the forbidden planet has made Corel hotter than the uncut version of Naked Sorority Hotties in the Vampire Dungeon! Get your kibbles & bits back to Earth, pronto!’”

“Dammit,” he said firmly. He turned his chair to look out the observation window and thought for a moment.

“I believe Captain Gillis is alive and the Corellians have him.” He stood up. “Prime Directive be damned, I’m ending this Corel thing once and for all.”


FAR HILLS, CITY OF AMASASTOKEK
PHO’EBE (THIRD MOON OF COREL)
STARDATE: 9681.3

Captain Robert J. Gillis, the not-so-dead celebrated and controversial Starfleet officer, harbinger of chaos, undisputed air-hockey champion of the United States (yeah, right) and recent kidnap victim sighed heavily. After a long pause to reflect on captor’s latest move, his response was clear.

“Checkmate,” he said with a small smile as he placed the rook down with a solid thump.

Chand’Leros, leader of the Bob-Be-Gones (an ancient Corellian phrase that very roughly translates into English as “Bob, be gone!”) and third in command of the move to overthrow Corel’s legitimate government shook his head. “An intriguing game, this Earth chess. I have beaten you only twice. You must be considered a master of the game.”

Gillis smiled. “My rating is only 2000, about one third of Captain McEntire’s.” He thought for a moment, and then said, “Chand’Leros, as much as I’ve enjoyed our chess matches and your humane treatment of me, I need to tell you that this can’t go on much longer. You people are terrorists and want to overthrow a democratic government. Besides, if what you say is true, Starfleet has already given up on me and pronounced me dead.”

Chand’Leros began to pack away the chess pieces. “That is immaterial. Uz’Mun-dee will be here presently, and then we shall announce that you are alive.”

“Who’s Uz’Mun-dee?”

“Uz’Mun-dee is the founder of the rebel alliance and our supreme leader.”

“Oh, I thought Auda was the top guy.”

“You thought incorrectly.”

Gillis stood up and began to pace the small library as he ran his fingers through his thick, silky hair in exasperation. “Look, Chand’Leros, you obviously get your perks being top brass around here with everybody and his grandmother under your direct command. Okay, okay, so you’re the number three guy after Uz’Mun-dee and Auda. But look,” he was pleading now—he knew Chand’Leros liked it when people pleaded or begged, “you’ve got to understand, I’m not built for this kind of thing. I’ve got to be out there on my ship, with my crew, boldly going where no man has gone before, to seek out new life, new civilizations…” He was getting that glazed look in his eyes—Chand’Leros hated it when he got that glazed look in his eyes.

Chand’Leros pressed a communications device on his wrist. “Will someone please bring our guest another Coca-Cola before I execute him?”

“Oh, that’s another thing. You have a supply of real Coca-Cola imported from Earth. I want it. Not that replicated walrus urine your computer makes.” He paused. “I just can’t fathom why you’d want little old me as a hostage. I’m not Corellian; I’m not top brass at Starfleet. I’m not even from this century.”

“Uz’Mun-dee asked for you specifically. He was able to infiltrate your command hierarchy and utilize your time-travel satellite to journey back to the year 1993 and convey you to Corel for your trial. When you were exonerated, we made the decision to destroy your shuttle and capture you.” He continued, “In two days, Corel celebrates Grand Kadooment Day, the planetary celebration of the new year and anniversary of the founding of our so-called democratic government over one thousand years ago.”

Gillis said nothing as an elite Starfleet rescue squad failed to appear. Failed miserably, in fact.

Chand’Leros continued, “Leader Aar-cu’rY will be addressing a crowd of fifty thousand people at the amphitheater. He and the crowd will be killed in a dreadful explosion, and you will be implicated. This planet will be so concerned with this heinous offense that it will turn its attention to revenge on Starfleet—and we will be entrenched. Uz’Mun-dee will become leader of Corel, and usher in a new era.”

Suddenly, a thought occurred to Gillis. (Don’t laugh; it had happened before). “Hey, Chand’Leros, before I’m framed for the murder of thousands of innocent people and the start of a bloody civil way, do you think I could meet this Uz’Mun-dee guy? Maybe then he could tell me why this whole planet hates me so much.”

“Your request is unnecessary, Captain. Uz’Mun-dee is coming here specifically to see you.” The device on Chand’Leros’ wrist beeped. “A matter requires my attention. I shall summon the guards to return you to your cell.”

“Chand’Leros, may I stay a moment and peruse your library? Perhaps I could select a book to read.”

Donning his trademark raspberry beret, Chand’Leros eyed the Starfleet legend narrowly. “Very well, Captain. But be warned, there is a guard outside the door. All computer terminals are password protected with a 337 digit cipher key, a “flying toasters” screen saver, and a small explosive charge.”

Chand’Leros left the room, and Gillis bolted to a computer. His captor left him alone for exactly one minute and four seconds, giving Gillis time only to bypass all of the security systems, to access and learn the alien computer operating system language, write and compile a stealth program to establish a connection with the Corellian News Network (CNN) and then find a way to piggyback a message without being detected. He dashed off three words and cut the transmission, and hoped that the message to David was clear. With or without outside help, he was going to escape. He had to save Aar-cu’rY’s life and this planet’s future. But hey, that was the kind of guy he was. Ask anybody.

Nodding with satisfaction, he entered a string of commands that would erase any evidence of his tampering. “The more they over-think the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain,” he muttered as he walked over to the shelf and selected a large volume conveniently entitled, “An extremely recent history of Corel.”

The book described a planet that had been at peace for centuries until the appearance of Auda. But as Chand’Leros had explained, Auda wasn’t the leader—Uz’Mun-dee was. Uz’Mun-dee had apparently given Auda the backing he needed to conduct his rebel activities, and allowed Auda to spread his propaganda of a Corel-first movement with suspicion and hatred toward the Federation and Starfleet, and David McEntire and Robert Gillis in particular.

In perfect James Kirk-like cadence, Gillis gestured wildly with his hands and bellowed, “But… why… us?”



STARSHIP ENTERPRISE NCC-1701-A
THE DOVUM STAR SYSTEM
STARDATE: 9681.8

Captain David McEntire, the beloved Supreme Commander of the Starfleet Marines, revered Starfleet captain, law student, Nobel Prize winner, and author of nearly all of Elvis Presley’s greatest hits woke quietly from yet another night of bad dreams and broken sleep.

“Good Lord,” he said aloud as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and then looked at all the work he’d piled on the bed. Captaining a Starfleet vessel was enough of a chore without the added problem that he was carrying on a covert mission to find his missing best friend, while ducking both the Corellians AND Starfleet. While he was convinced that Gillis might still be alive on Corel, he’d begun to try to steel himself in case he was wrong.

He took a shower, dressed, and was just finishing a bowl of Granola and reading a copy of Rutgers Computer & Technology Law Journal when the door chimed. Of course, “the door chimed” is just a figure of speech. It was really the doorbell, but no one called it that in the 23rd century. And it wasn’t really a door buzzer, either, because the noise was a pleasant chime and not an annoying buzz, unlike this explanation. Therefore, it would be technically correct to say that the door chime chimed.

McEntire ignored all of this. “Come in!”

Chief Engineer John Black entered, carrying a data pad. “Captain, I have new information for you. As you ordered, we’ve been monitoring all of Corel’s transmissions. Mostly standard communication broadcast stuff, but take a look at this. The computer found it about ten hours ago—we were sorting through the data and there it was.” He pressed a few buttons on the pad. “A three word transmission piggy-backed on a standard Corellian broadcast. Take a look at the frequency.”

“436.1964 gigahertz. That was Bobby’s phone number back in Dorchester.” To Black’s raised eyebrow, he explained, “Dorchester was an old city on Earth, in the United States. Destroyed in the final battle of the Earth-Krypton war during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.” He looked at the numbers again. “Was that the only frequency that had such a piggy-back?”

“Yes, sir. It can’t be a coincidence,” Black replied as nothing exploded.

“What were the three words?”

“Dream, Weaver, and Maxwell.”

McEntire broke into a huge smile. “Computer, replay the final message Captain Gillis sent from the shuttle Lorrah before it was destroyed.”

“Ssssttk relics sssssssjenolansssskkkkttttjenolttt (blap)” the computer responded obligingly.

“Relics, Jenolan… A transporter beam,” Black said softly.

“Indisputably,” McEntire snapped. “Now how about Dream Weaver, Maxwell?”

“Dream Weaver…” Black repeated. “That song from the 1970s… Fly me away to the bright side of the moon, meet me on the other side.”

“Right!” McEntire replied. “The only possible meaning. And Maxwell?”

Black snorted. “That’s almost too easy, Captain. Bill Maxwell, an FBI agent on the 20th century television program, “Greatest American Hero.” FBI agents are often called “Fibbies,” an obvious play-on-words for ‘Phoebe’ or ‘Pho’Ebe,’ Corel’s third moon.”

“Exactly!” McEntire exclaimed. “A clear and precise message from Captain Gillis, explaining that he was transported away from the shuttle before it crashed, and taken to the dark side of Pho’Ebe, Corel’s third moon. We’ve been searching for him on Corel, but he’s been on Pho’Ebe all this time!” He raised his voice. “McEntire to Drebin.”

“Drebin here, sir.”

“Mr. Drebin, assemble the entire crew on the recreation deck at 0900. I have an announcement to make.” A light crossed his face. “Also, prepare Silverwing for immediate launch.”

“Your personal command shuttle, Captain?”

“No, Mr. Drebin, my atomic-powered hot dog stand. Yes, my shuttle.” He broke the connection.

“Permission to speak freely, Captain?”

“Always, John. You know that.”

“You don’t like Drebin, do you, sir?”

“John, it’s not that. Bobby and I are two very different types of captains, and as a Starfleet Marine I expect a different level of discipline. I can’t for the life of me understand some of Bobby’s crew choices. Drebin, for example, the headaches he gives me… Did you ever research privacy rights under the fourth amendment to the Constitution and section one of the California constitution in relation to drug-testing for an appellate brief?”

“No.”

“Well, it’s a lot like that.”

“Yes, sir.”

He rubbed his eyes for a moment. “You know, John, you are the only member of the crew besides our missing Captain that I completely trust.”

Black smiled a knowing look. “Well, I hope so, sir. On that note, I received a subspace hyper channel message on one of our secret frequencies from some of our friends at Command. They have proceeded according to your instructions, and Perot, fearing a supposed “massive conspiracy” at Starfleet, has resigned.”

“God bless the Starfleet Marines,” McEntire said with satisfaction. He leaned back into the padding on his Harvard chair. “Take a seat, John. There’s another matter to discuss.”

As Black complied and still nothing exploded, McEntire began, “John, consider this: Would I voluntarily give up supreme command of the Starfleet Marines to command an individual cruiser? Of course not! Do you have any idea of the perks that go along with supreme command? Hell, I could beam six squadrons of our top commandos into Starfleet headquarters and declare a code one emergency; before anyone could figure out what was going on I’d be Supreme Commander of the Federation! But of course I’m much too humble, noble and financially secure to try anything that harebrained… YET!”

Black smiled and did not interrupt his Captain.

“After we bring back Captain Gillis—and we will bring him back—I’m resigning my position as Supreme Commander. I have a life back in the 20th century, and my recent defense of Captain Gillis on Corel has resparked my interest in law. Oh, I’ll probably be back and forth to the 23rd century, but an elite unit like the Starfleet Marines can’t be run part-time. I intend you to replace me.”

Stunned, Black replied, “I could only succeed you, sir.”

McEntire shook his head as an errant blue jay flew directly at the window and struck it. As the bird shrieked in pain and colorful feathers wafted in all directions, he continued, “I’ll need your expert opinion for our best scenario for getting Captain Gillis out alive, with the least amount of casualties.”

“Recommend we bring out the Hammer, Captain.”

McEntire thought for a long moment. “I concur. Make the necessary arrangements and get her here quietly.” He looked at the data pad again, and then added, “How is Yeldarb’s investigation of our mystery guests coming along?”

“He’s made progress, sir. Our ghostly avenging angel has made three appearances, and caused a lot of chaos and minor damage. Our teenage duplicate of Captain Gillis continues to evade security but has apparently spent the night with no less than nine of our young female crew members, and seems particularly fond of Ensign Cindy Allenby in engineering. From all reports, her screams of pleasure were heard across six decks of the Enterprise.”

McEntire raised an eyebrow.

Black continued, “I talked to Allenby this morning; she’s only 20 but her Starfleet service record is exemplary. Once I assured her that we weren’t upset with her for “fraternizing” with our teenage friend, she told me that he hates to be called Bobby and goes by the name of Kyle.” Black paused for a moment, then said, “David, off the record, Allenby really loves this guy.”

“Anything further? Does this Kyle character think he’s Bobby back from the dead, or anything like that?”

“She has no idea.”

“Find him, John.” McEntire leaned back in his chair for a long time, then said, “I’m going to contact Starfleet and try to iron out some of this mess with Command. I’ll ask you to get in touch with Monica and tell her we need her. You and I should meet at 13:00 to discuss strategies.”

“Aye, sir.” Black rose and left McEntire’s quarters.

As the door whooshed shut, McEntire allowed the command facade to drop, and let a rush of emotion hit him.

“Bobby is alive!”

The euphoria that hit him nearly engulfed him. All this time, he had refused to give up on his best friend, and prayed that maybe, just maybe, Bobby hadn’t died in the shuttle explosion. Now he had conclusive proof that Bobby was alive, and no force in the universe would stop McEntire from getting Bobby back home to his friends and family.


On the main recreation deck, the assembled crew of the great starship gathered as McEntire entered the room and stepped up to a podium, tastefully decorated with the Starfleet command symbol and garish blinking Christmas lights. “Brave and noble crew, your captain speaks. I have positive, indisputable proof that Captain Gillis is alive and being held against his will by the Corellians.”

The response, of course, was immediate:

“Holy plot twists!”

“You’re not going in there!”

“Honestly, I’ve never understood… Vulcan mysticism.”

“These are not the droids you seek.”

“Out of control and blind as a bat!”

“Get him back! Get him back!”

McEntire frowned and continued, “I have just spoken with Headquarters, and have learned that the Commander of Starfleet has resigned. Admiral Harold T. Morrow, the former Commander of Starfleet, is in charge until further notice. I spoke with the admiral at great length and presented the evidence that Captain Gillis is alive. The admiral told me that the political situation on Corel is deteriorating exponentially—”

“And that’s bad,” Drebin explained to the crew.

McEntire twitched slightly, but then just raised his index finger in a “wait” gesture. “Indeed it is. Therefore, the Federation council has voted to reject Corel’s membership at the present time—They have to resolve their internal matters first. The bob-be-gones rebel faction on Corel is a lot more organized that we initially believed, and Auda, believed to be the leader of the rebels, has escaped custody. Random violence—all in the name of the rebels—has increased dramatically. In addition, many of the female whales are killed, while still bearing unborn calves!”

He paused and frowned and typed some commands into the TelePrompTer. “There we go,” he said as the correct speech was displayed. “Although I made a command decision to reject Admiral Perot’s orders, Admiral Morrow has cleared us of any wrongdoing after accepting our evidence that Captain Gillis is alive. He is allowing us to continue our investigation.”

“We will be undertaking a rescue mission shortly, and I want battle readiness plans from all departments. The senior staff will assemble in conference room four at 1400.” He turned toward Jayna and added, “That’s two o’clock in the afternoon, Jayna. It’s what we call military time.”

At that moment, the intercom blooped. “Captain McEntire on discrete,” Black said.

McEntire punched a button on the wall. “Yes, Commander.”

“We found him, sir. Main gymnasium.”

McEntire bit his lip. “Secure the area, have a security team meet me there.”


Five minutes later, McEntire was standing outside the ship’s main gymnasium, looking at a tricorder.

“I’ll be damned,” he said to three armed security guards.

“Do you want us to arrest him, sir?” one of the goons asked.

McEntire waved his hand. “Ensign, Enterprise captains have a grand tradition of waiving away armed escort and entering potentially deadly and lethal situations unarmed and alone. Wait here.”

The doors parted, and McEntire found the young man who bore a remarkable resemblance to Bobby at age 17. Kyle lay prone on an exercise bench, wearing gym shorts, a weight-lifters belt, and a muscle T-shirt. Bench pressing two hundred pounds, his muscles rippled, and he was surrounded by six female off-duty crew members.

McEntire paused to contemplate whether the author of this chapter had truly gone bonkers, filed the question for later review, and decided not to mince words. “Ensigns, the ship is now on yellow alert. Report to your stations.”

As the other crew-members raced out, one lingered and asked, “Are we still on for our date, cutie?”

Kyle retrieved a large appointment book marked “Secret Garden” from his duffel bag. “Let’s see. I’ve got coed naked volleyball in the gym tonight at 7:00, followed by a massage…”

“I’m sorry to interrupt this nonsense,” McEntire said, “Ensign, you are DISMISSED.”

Once the doors closed, McEntire said, “I want to talk to you.”

Kyle tossed the weights down with a solid thump. “Is that an order, captain-sir?”

“I want to talk about Captain Gillis.”

Kyle smirked. “My daddy? I’ll bet he never had a body like this.” He extended a forearm. “Here, feel this bicep.”

MacDonald sat on an adjacent bench tiredly. “Look, I’ll grant you points for evading us this long, but you’re way out of your league. Your magical powers – and your ability to evade security scans — are all derived from a sophisticated computer located in your earring. You’re in lot of trouble, young man—”

“Screw you,” Kyle snarled.

“What I want to know is who you are.”

“Happy to oblige, Commodore Shmidlap. I’m the result of a transporter accident—remember back in November 1981 when John Bourke created his first transporter in high school?”

McEntire nodded slowly. “Yes, JB had disguised it as a phone booth, and Bobby accidentally went through it and got beamed across Boston. JB was able to beam him back a few minutes later.”

Kyle smiled. “Right. Well, it turns out that JB’s transporter was imperfect—if you wanna suspend your disbelief on that one—and created a second Bobby Gillis in the process—me. I materialized in the phone booth a few minutes later. But I knew I was a duplicate, and I knew I wasn’t an exact copy, either. And although I have all of Bobby’s memories up to his 17th year, I don’t share a lot of his beliefs and morals. I mean, he’s a bit of a square. And that “nice guy” act is…”

“Do not speak ill of my best friend,” McEntire said darkly.

Kyle ignored him. “You yourself have often said that the world could never handle two Bobbys, so I went into hiding. A few months after my creation, when JB created his first time machine, I used it and traveled here, to the 23rd century. I was young and pretty on the main streets of the city, and I thought to make it my home. With Bobby’s incredible computer skills, it was easy for me to set up a new identity, and I started working out.”

“And how did you manage to find your way aboard the Enterprise at this particular time?”

“An outstanding question,” Kyle returned. “Actually, I’d hopped a ride from Earth aboard a passenger ship and had been vacationing on Corel for some time: skin diving, swimming, getting to “know” the Corellian women… But for some reason, once I traveled to the more populated areas, I was causing a commotion. I guess Captain Bobby is pretty notorious on Corel. This rebel guy named Uzzy-Muzzy or something tried to capture me, but I escaped with the aid of a beautiful red-headed woman who hid me under her bed after I agreed to—”

“Spare me the details,” McEntire said, exasperated. “So the rebels wanted you—I mean Bobby?”

“Yep. Once I heard the Enterprise was in orbit, I was able to jury-rig a cloaked transporter and beam aboard. My earring also contains technology that allows me to do some pretty cool stuff. Don’t ask me to explain—the techno babble explanation would sink a season’s worth of Voyager episodes.”

McEntire crossed his arms. “One other question. The transporter accident with Bobby was many years ago, yet you still look about 17 or 18.”

“I age a lot slower than you. Part of the problem with the transporter. Another is that my hormones are substantially accelerated. I have a lot of built up energy. That’s why I took up the avenging angel bit, to blow off steam. There’s not much to do on this ship until the chicks get off duty.”

MacDonald shook his head in amazement. “You are one of the most single-minded pigs I’ve ever seen in my life! But your gift for flamboyance and pyrotechnics…” Would be invaluable. He thought for a long moment. “Kyle, would you consider using your abilities to help us retrieve Captain Gillis?”

Kyle grabbed one of the free weights and started doing one-armed curls. “What’s in it for me?”

McEntire frowned. “Oh, I don’t know; maybe helping to save the life of the very person you were created from.” He tried to hold his temper—if he was ending sentences with prepositions, God only knew what was next.

Kyle shrugged. “He means nothing to me. He really doesn’t.” He switched the weight to his other hand. “But I suppose if I decline, you’ll go on a long-winded tirade about my duty to him, and how I should instinctively want to help, and all that jazz.”

McEntire effortlessly lifted a 250 pound set of barbells and brought it over to Kyle. “No, not really. But I did plan to wrap this around your neck like a bow-tie.”

Kyle swallowed and tried to present an unruffled facade, but McEntire knew that Kyle took his threat seriously. “I’ll help you on one condition. Bobby’s got a life back in the 20th century, so I’m not returning there. I want a shuttle outfitted with warp and drive. I’ll need transportation.”

“Why? Where are you going?” McEntire asked, dropping the barbells precariously close to Kyle’s foot.

“If I told you, you wouldn’t let me go.”

“That’s not good enough. I can’t just unleash you on the universe.”

“I’m already unleashed on the universe, Captain Moonbeam. And you’ll probably never find Bobby without my help. So, do we have an agreement?”

McEntire bit his lip. “We do. Give engineering the specifications and tell them to take the shuttle Asbury Park. You have my word that if you help bring back Bobby alive, you’re free to take the shuttle.”

McEntire rose as Kyle went back to his bench-pressing. Kyle felt the eyes watching him, and finally demanded, “WHAT?”

McEntire shook his head. “Seeing you brings back a lot of good memories of Bobby, back in high school. But you are completely different than him.”

“So he wasn’t a muscular girl-magnet in high school? He wasn’t this charismatic?

“He was well-liked, Kyle. He was a good friend to many people.” McEntire finally put his finger on what had been bothering him about Kyle beyond the resemblance. Seeing “Bobby” as a teen-ager again, it occurred to David that if Bobby had been anything like Kyle back in high school, they would never have become best friends. He shook his head at how different his life would have been, and how much sadder life would have been for both of them had they not been there for each other these many years.

“Yeah, Bobby was nothing like me,” Kyle insisted.

“You’re right,” McEntire said softly, as he left the room. “He wasn’t an asshole.”


At exactly 13:59 ship’s time, McEntire joined his already-assembled staff in conference room four, swatted aside the Monopoly game in progress, and began, “You all known the situation. Opinions, please.”

Drebin brightened. “What we need is to take the Corellians by surprise. Captain, recommend that we go to blue alert and land the ship on Corel.”

“Commander Drebin,” McEntire began, “remember that conversation we had last week about you thinking over things before you say them out loud?”

“Oh, yes sir, but there wasn’t time for that!”

McEntire absently flicked the “Park Place” deed card in his fingers and returned, “Commander, there is no such thing as “blue alert,” and the Enterprise, historically, isn’t much of land vehicle.”

“Kirk at Genesis,” Yeldarb chirped helpfully. “Kirk and Picard at Veridian III, when the…”

McEntire cut him off. “That’s it exactly, Skippy.” He turned to Seaborn. “Do you think we can scan the moon Pho’Ebe and locate out missing captain?”

Before Seaborn could reply, Drebin interrupted, “In theory, a phased topographic imaging pulse-scanner might do it, sir. Have you ever used a phased topographic imaging pulse-scanner to differentiate between human and Corellian readings?”

“No,” McEntire replied excitedly.

“You will,” Drebin replied, “and the company that will bring it to you will be AT&T.”

McEntire closed his eyes and took a very deep breath. “Mr. Drebin, please go get me a cup of coffee from the food replicator on deck 15, section J. That’s my favorite one.”

Drebin looked puzzled. “But Captain, there’s a replicator right here and…”

McEntire stood up and pointed toward the door. His whispered voice came out in much the way someone talks just before their neural synapse start popping like rice crispies. “Commander, I consider myself a humanitarian, but right now I could kick a puppy through a plate-glass window. Deck 15, section J. Now. Please.”

As Drebin left, McEntire rubbed his temples and turned to Scott.

Scotty smiled. “Already on it, Captain. Aye, now that we know where ta look, we’ll find him.”

“Scotty, you’re a miracle worker.”

“Captain! You’re just getting ta realize that NOW?” Scotty rejoined as he began working a console. In a few moments, he continued, “There we go. We av Captain Gillis’ coordinates in the city of Amasastokek on Pho’Ebe.”

Seaborn continued, “Unlike most of the moons in the Terran solar system, all three of Corel’s moons: A’Riel, Chal’Ra and Pho’Ebe are lush planetoids, covered with forests and small oceans. In addition, A’Riel and Pho’Ebe are populated.”

Scotty suppressed a curse. “Problem, sir. The whole complex on Pho’Ebe is surrounded by a magnetic shield. The closest we can get ya is about four kilometers from Captain Gillis’ location.”

“Any break in the shield?”

“Nae, sir, but the north side leads to the Meeko Cliffs. Tis a three hundred meter drop to the water and the screeching eels.”

McEntire turned to the rest of the group. “Shuttle, then. This is going to be very dangerous. Captain Gillis is not exactly the most loved man on Corel…”

“A place where everyone knows his name, and they’re never glad he came,” Yeldarb warbled gleefully.

“Ah… yes.” McEntire replied warily. “But we will bring him back to us, and—”

“In blackest day in darkest night no evil shall escape your sight!” Yeldarb bolstered merrily.

McEntire closed his eyes again. Regulation 8125-T: No flag officer shall fire an atomic bazooka at a subordinate, no matter how badly he may want to. “Damn,” he muttered, “they thought of everything.” He looked at the group. “Anything further?”

“Aye,” Scotty replied. “Tomorrow is a Corellian holiday called Grand Kadooment Day.”

McEntire nodded. “Founding of the Corellian democratic government after the overthrow of the dictator Tre’sco-mo’rill a thousand years ago.”

“Aye sir. And may I say your knowledge of Corellian history is veddy impressive.”

“Standard Starfleet procedure, my friend, to learn as much as you can about your opponent before you enter battle. Speaking of which, despite all the partying associated with Kadooment Day, we’ll still need a diversion.”

“Kyle, I take it?” Seaborn asked.

McEntire replied, “Exactly. Our resident Gillis-clone and I will be taking the shuttle Lokki down to the surface while the Enterprise warps into Corellian orbit and puts on a phaser fireworks display in the upper atmosphere. Planetary defense will go crazy, and the shuttle should slip by to Pho’Ebe unnoticed. It’ll be a very rough ride, but the shuttle’s inertia dampeners should compensate for the field stress. Commander Black will be leaving the Enterprise on a related covert mission, so Captain Scott will be in command until I return.”



PLANET COREL

The next day in his detention cell, Gillis withdrew the four cans of Coca-Cola from the small refrigeration device his captors had provided. He drank one, placed one in his pocket, and shook the other two cans furiously. After a moment, he hurled one of the cans at the cell’s force field and threw himself into the far corner of the room.

The resulting explosion from the pressurized Coca-Cola can obliterated the force field and surrounding wall. As three guards burst into the room, Gillis opened the other shaken can directly at their faces, sending a lethal spray of Coca-Cola at them. Blinded and disoriented, the guards fell to the floor screaming. As Gillis retrieved their weapons, he paused to stare lovingly at the remains of one of the shredded cans. “Ah, Coca-Cola. Is there nothing it can’t do?”

He bolted into the corridor and took out three security cameras, an alarm relay and two evil flying space zebras as he ran down the hall. He neutralized two more security alarm systems by setting one of the Corellian energy weapons on overload, entered an elevator, and accessed the servo panel. The control panel burst into a shower of sparks.

“Input destination,” the elevator asked.

“Hakuna matata,” he replied in perfect Corellian. The elevator complied, and whisked him down to the lower courtyard level. “Damn…” Blocking the alley was a young Corellian soldier, armed with some sort of disrupter weapon.

Gillis thought for a moment. He could certainly use his formidable and deadly Tom-Tui martial art skills to take out the soldier, but this entire situation seemed to demand a different approach. He smiled, raced up a flight of stairs to a window, loudly tore open the shutters, and shouted, “Hallo! You down there! Hallo!”

The Corellian looked up, puzzled. “Ay?”

“You there!” Gillis shouted. “What day is today?”

The Corellian scratched his head. “Today? Why, Kadooment Day, of course.”

Gillis clapped his hands together. “Kadooment Day! That means I haven’t missed it! The spirits must have done it all in one night!” Before the Corellian could ask a question, Gillis babbled on, “Tell me, do you know the poultry at the corner?”

“Mon?” the soldier asked.

“A remarkable, intelligent boy,” Gillis babbled. “Do you know if they’ve sold the prized turkey in the window? Well, go and buy it!”

Indignant, the soldier snapped, “Walk-er!” (An ancient Corellian expression meaning, “What the dickens are you talking about, Mon?” This expression also translates as “The ghost who walks.” An amazing language.)

“I’m in earnest!” Gillis jabbered. “Go and buy it! Come back in ten minutes and I’ll give you a shilling! Come back in five and I’ll give you half a crown!”

“Yes, sir!” the lad replied cheerfully, bolting for the nearest exit. In the time it took him to realize that a) The nearest poultry was some eighty kilometers distant; b) Turkeys were not indigenous to Corel; c) Shillings and Crowns were not forms of Corellian currency and d) This whole thing was obviously stupid, Gillis had bolted across the alley into the courtyard, grabbed a convenient rope, lassoed a chimney and swooped Tarzan-style into an alley leading to the exit. Whistling a happy tune, Gillis raced right into the barrel of a small hand-disrupter.


A few minutes later, McEntire landed the shuttle Lokki in a large forest outside Amasastokek. As he and Kyle made their way to the complex, they realized that people were shouting Gillis’ name.

“That brainless dweeb is trying to escape on his own!” Kyle commented loudly. To McEntire’s glare, he amended, “How brave of Captain Gillis to attempt escape!” He began singing, “Brave, brave Sir Bobby, he bravely ran away!”

“We don’t know that, hormone-boy. We MUST verify that he has escaped.” McEntire shuddered and thought about Gillis and hoped that Monica would be able to locate him and lead him to the rendezvous point before he was killed by one of the guards. “Why don’t you start the diversion?”

Kyle touched his earring, and his image wavered. Suddenly, he was dressed only in a white toga and holding a coconut filled with massage oil. “Damn, wrong costume! This is for my date with Ensign Cindy Allenby tomorrow night!” The image wavered again as McEntire made a firm decision that the writer of this chapter, indeed, was very bonkers. In a flash Kyle had become the an avenging angel. He wore form-fitting black and blue armor, and McEntire was startled to see the uniform actually catch fire.

“Up, up and away! Time to parrrrrrtttttyyy!” Kyle bellowed as he rocketed into the sky. He hovered directly above the compound and shot a fireball at the ground. “Blasphemers!” he shouted in perfect Corellian. “I am Snuffy-Fazoo, the prince of insufficient light, and your actual mileage may vary! I have come here today to tell you that the rangers had a homecoming in Harlem late last night, and have damned your foul plan of rebellion!”

The rebels froze and stared as Kyle zipped back and forth in the sky.

“Evil ones,” he continued, “the questions before you today will decide the fate of this world! There are lights out tonight, trouble in the heartland. Know ye this: After automatic shutoff, spillage may occur, resulting in a hazardous condition!” Suddenly, he caused pumpkins to appear. Each was carved with a hideous face that actually laughed as it plopped onto someone’s head and burst apart, covering them with pumpkin-goo. “Only Linus holds the true faith! Only Linus knows the Great Pumpkin will appear! Look deep in your hearts, Corellian jellybeans! Are your pumpkin patches sincere?”

“Good God,” McEntire though as he looked up in horror, “he’s a lunatic!” But he had to admit the diversion was working. As Kyle went on and on and on and on, McEntire rushed into the complex. Drawing on his vast repository of undercover operations, he was easily able to make his way into the installation, past dozens of screaming people, and armed guards. He burst into the prison area and found a cell with the door blasted off.

Noting that all of the other cells were empty, McEntire ran a tricorder over the door and frowned in puzzlement. “Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sucrose, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors, caffeine… This was Bobby’s cell, all right.”

Above, the avenging angel was screaming all sorts of nonsense, punctuating each bit of babble with an explosion, fireball, lighting bolt, water balloon, or other unusual special effect. As he gathered storm clouds around him and once again burst into flames, he shouted, “I’m fooling you and you don’t like it! Save Ferris! Save Ferris! I—”

Kyle’s attention turned to a beautiful young Corellian woman who was waving to him. Unlike all the others who were fleeing / panicking / screaming / running, she seemed calm. And very beautiful. “I’ve got a date with the preacher’s daughter…” He reverted to his normal form and alighted next to her. “You wanted to talk to me, sweetie?” he began as an introduction.

The Corellian rebel sashayed over to him. “I did. I admire your uniform, which highlights your muscles.”

Enthusiastically, Kyle ignored the chaos around him and smiled broadly as the woman continued, “My name is Tray’Ceeray-ce and I would like to be intimate with you.”

Kyle grinned broadly as his hormones carbonated. “Are all Corellian women this forward?”

“We are. Tell me, are you a Corellian, child?”

Enthusiastically, Kyle replied, “Ma’am, I am tonight!”

“I would like to tell you my secret name.” She drew him into a kiss, and in the same instant, ripped off his earring and stunned him with the weapon she’d been concealing in her other hand.


“Baby, if you wanna be wild, you gotta lot to learn.”

“Monica!” Gillis was flabbergasted. “Monica!” He noticed that Monica was wearing a fez on her head. “How odd,” he thought, “Monica never wears a Fez. A fedora, maybe, but never a fez…”

“Hello again, Captain. Sorry to stop you so abruptly, but you were about to race across a high frequency ionization security field.”

Gillis winced. “Nasty things, those. Hey, what are you doing on Corel?”

She holstered her weapon and motioned for him to follow him. “I’ve been working undercover for Captain McEntire,” she replied. “Doing… well, I guess you could call me one of the “mechanics” for the Starfleet Marines. Something’s broken, McEntire sends me in to fix it. It’s all hush-hush, of course. McEntire is here, and I’m here to help. She opened her jacket to reveal a Starfleet communicator and activated it. “Brandy to Young Elvis.”

“Young Elvis,” came the quick response. Gillis wanted to jump for joy when he heard David’s voice.

Monica continued, “Starchild acquired.”

“Acknowledged, Brandy. We just found his empty cell. Rendezvous at Lokki. Young Elvis out.”

“I’m fine, thanks, David,” Gillis mumbled.

“Look,” Monica said sharply, “Captain McEntire expected you to be in your cell. He risked his life to enter this compound and retrieve you. It was foolish of you to attempt escape once you had sent the distress message.”

“Let’s get a few things straight, bartender. One: I’ve been held against my will on this planet for weeks—so long, in fact, that it feels like at least two years. Two: I had no way of knowing if my signal was even intercepted or understood by anyone, let alone David. Three: I had to escape today. Aar-cu’rY is supposed to make a big speech at the Kadooment festival, and the rebels are going to detonate a bomb and kill him and thousands of others. In addition, the head rebel guy, Uz’Mun-dee, is about to show up.”

Monica bit her lip as a series of explosions detonated outside. “My orders are to get you to McEntire alive. You guys play hero on your own time. Let’s go!”

“You’re taking me to the promised land?”


Moving as quickly as possible, McEntire made his way to the shuttle and rendezvous point, and spotted Monica and Bobby.

“Bobby!” McEntire shouted joyously.

As McEntire raced over to him, Gillis thought of a great Trek line to use. “Please David, not in front of…” Suddenly, McEntire gave him such a fierce bear hug that he was literally lifted off the ground. “{Cough!} the Corellians,” he managed to gasp out.

“Mon Ami!” McEntire exclaimed with unabashed affection. “Damn good to see you alive!”

“Good to be seen, David! Thanks for coming back for me!”

“You would have done the same for me!”

Before Gillis could respond, the shuttle Lokki exploded in a fiery blast. As shuttle parts, electronic debris and old Daredevil comic books rained down, our heroes realized that a figure was emerging from the smoke.

“Captain David Tiberious McEntire,” the shrouded figure said.

McEntire peered into the smoke and froze. “You!” he exclaimed. “You can’t possibly be here!”

“Oh, but I am, Captain McEntire. And now, you will die.”

McEntire demanded, “Donny Osmond?!!!? Donny Osmond? What in the name of the sacrilegious hydrophobic chipmunks are you doing here?”

“My name is now Uz’Mun-dee, Captain. I have looked very forward to meeting you.”

“Uz’Mun-dee,” McEntire repeated, his eyebrow raised. “Uzmondee. Osmondee. Of course. Osmond, D.”

“Precisely,” Uz’Mun-dee replied. “And now, I shall explain everything.”

The group obligingly sat on the ground and listened intently.

Uz’Mun-dee began, “Captain Gillis, do you remember when you first met David McEntire in high school back in 1979? Do you remember how he told you about the magic laser pen, and how he could control the weather, but Donny Osmond was blocking his powers?”

Gillis was incredulous. “Of course I do, but that was many years ago, and David was just joking.”

“Joking?!” Uz’Mun-dee exploded. “No joke, my young friend! David McEntire has a very high psychic rating and he blocked all my attempts to take over Earth—let alone have a comeback career! David McEntire destroyed me! No matter what I tried to do, he beat me to it. I wanted to own a store on Newbury Street, but he did that first! I wanted to play professional tennis, but it was McEntire who won the slot in the Olympics! I wanted to date Cindy Crawford, but she told me that she had never recovered from her breakup with… You guessed it, David McEntire! I wanted to go to Harvard, but my S.A.T. scores weren’t high enough…” His voice trailed off for a moment. “Okay, that one wasn’t his fault, but there were millions of other things he did to ruin my life! No matter what I wanted to do, you stopped me, David.”

He paused to make some bizarre gestures with his arms, then continued, “After years of fighting you, I finally gave up. In 1992, I stowed away aboard a cryogenic space ship.

“Oh, yeah,” Monica mumbled, “this is getting more and more plausible all the time.”

“I am very serious,” Uz’Mun-dee said.

“He’s also a little bit country,” Gillis added.

Monica crossed her arms. “Wait a minute. Earth history, particularly the history of United States entertainment in the late 20th century, is a hobby of mine,” (read: contrived plot device to explain how Monica would know the following preposterously obscure fact) “…and I KNOW that Donny Osmond was seen on Earth after 1992.”

Everyone looked around for a long moment, unsure of what to do next.

Monica shook her head and pointed to Uz’Mun-dee. “This couldn’t be Donny Osmond, because I’m positive he starred in a performance of “Joseph and the amazing Technicolor dream coat” in Boston in 1996.”

Helpfully, Uz’Mun-dee interrupted, “Oh… him. No, uh, that wasn’t me. That was, uh…”

Gillis let out a very angry breath. “…an exact duplicate of Donny Osmond created by a once in a billion shot combination of a purple solar flares, a space/time warp and the unique energy signature of Boston on Tuesdays.”

“Exactly!” Uz’Mun-dee exclaimed triumphantly. “A pretender to my throne, who took my place in 1996 in that Boston play you mentioned, and then, uh… and then, uh…”

Gillis was making wild gestures by this time. “And THEN he lost his molecular cohesion through a freak accident involving a subspace collision with a festering cloud of anti-proton residue with the exact same quantum multidimensional pattern he had, which instantly destroyed him…” He raised his voice and boomed, “…BUT, BUT… All of which happened AFTER Donny Osmond was last seen on Earth!” Eyes blazing, he spun around and demanded, “OKAY???!!!!!!”

“Uh, yeah, works for me, I guess,” Monica mumbled.

“Ever think of writing scripts for Voyager, Mon Ami?” McEntire asked.

“All the time, David. All the time. Sorry, Donny, you were saying?”

“Uz’Mun-dee. I was in cryogenic suspension for nearly three centuries, before my ship collided with a meandering swarm of cosmic pumpkins, and I crashed landed on the island of Abu-Taya on Corel. I liked Corel a lot; the villagers even liked my music.”

“An extremely primitive and paranoid culture,” McEntire observed.

“But when I visited the more advanced areas, I discovered that there was a thing called the United Federation of Planets, and they wanted Corel to join. I had no problem with that until I found out that even three hundred years later, that very same David McEntire of the 20th century was Supreme Commander of the Starfleet Marines, and head of the move to get Corel to join the Federation. At the same time, I noted that my psychic powers had nearly faded. I was still charismatic, good looking and a natural born leader, but my psi rating was almost zero. I think that would be about the time I dyed my hair blue and started wearing these outlandish black capes and florescent purple tights.”

“I was just about to ask you about that part,” Gillis said.

Uz’Mun-dee giggled. “Casting aside all my upbringing, I decided that David McEntire was clearly the ultimate force of evil in the universe and had to be destroyed, and this Federation thing had to be stopped.”

Gillis brightened. “Oh, that explains it! You wanted to strike out at David, but he’s hard to reach, being Supreme Commander of the Starfleet Marines and all, so you targeted me, his best friend, knowing David would come to help me and then you could lure him to his doom!”

“Precisely,” Uz’Mun-dee said.

“So that explains why the entire planet hates me and has been making my life miserable!”

“Oh, they hate you for many other reasons besides being McEntire’s best friend, but that’s not important right now. Would you like to hear the rest of my story?” To the collective nod, he continued, “Disenchanted, I began wandering the planet. One night, I was drowning my sorrows in a little bar on the western bay that serves a hundred ships a day. Auda was walking in, I was walking out. We went back inside, had a few drinks, but all he kept talking about was his plan to conquer the government. Auda was pretty unbalanced anyway, and it was easy to sway him my way. Unfortunately, he got a little carried away.” To elaborate, he made the “crazy” gesture with his finger.

“Carried away?!” Gillis hooted. “Donny—”

“Uz’Mun-dee.”

“—the planet Corel is falling apart! Auda has organized terrorist attacks, bombings, petitions to film a sequel to Endless Love, and is in general causing as much chaos as possible. He’s trying to destroy the very democratic fabric that has held this planet together!”

Uz’Mun-dee shrugged nonchalantly. “A regrettable situation, to be sure, but very necessary. The evil of David McEntire must end here.”

Angrily, McEntire began, “The political geostructure of an entire planet is about to collapse, chaos and anarchy are about to ensue, the consequences of which will dramatically and negatively alter the future of this sector, and all you can say…” His voice trailed off as he decided that a different approach was in order.

“Look,” McEntire continued, ignoring the vendor trying to sell him a Kadooment Day T-shirt, “I have never had psychic powers. Never. I have this Betazoid ambassador from the Federation council on my ship, and she’s been a pain in my ass for months now. ‘I can feel your annoyance at my presence, Captain.’ ‘He’s hiding something, Captain.’ ‘That was a very provocative thought about your wife, Captain.’ Hells bells, Donny—”

“Uz’Mun-dee.”

“—don’t you think if I had psychic powers she would’ve noticed? Don’t you think I would have used my alleged powers to turn her into a cube or something?”

Uz’Mun-dee’s eye’s widened in horror. “You’re gerrymandering. Prevaricating. You… you… are fibbing! Back in high school, you often said I was blocking your powers. And I have proof. My psimedulla oblongata detected cerebra alpha wave emissions from the your residence in Boston’s Back Bay! Such a high level of extrasensory telepathic supersensory recognizant particles could only have been generated by you!”

“Naturally,” Gillis mumbled, but McEntire blinked with apparent comprehension, then palmed a tricorder. “I just thought of something. Computer, tie in to Enterprise historical database. Display a readout of any anomalous readings in the theta cerebra wave band around Earth from AD 1979 through 1983.” The device made a little bleep sound, and Uz’Mun-dee peered to see the screen. “Ah, here we go,” McEntire said. “Look at this, Donny. According—”

“Uz’Mun-dee.”

“Whatever,” McEntire rejoined icily. “According to this, a cloud of two-dimensional beings flew through Earth’s orbit in late 1979 through early 1981. Their presence, as evidenced by a perfectly dreadful “Next Generation” episode called “The Loss,” would seem to cause psychic/emphatic abilities in meta-humans to be blocked. They would have been attracted to the highest concentration of gamma t-wave protocerebellumium emissions on Earth, which of course is Boston’s Prudential tower, in the Back Bay, a few blocks from where I used to live. That explains why you thought I was responsible.”

He showed Uz’Mun-dee the readout and concluded, “These little beings caused your power loss, not me.” He frowned at the scrolling readout. “Great Scott! The little two-dimensional beings are orbiting Corel…” He verified the impulse drive signature and added, “Donny, they had been in Earth’s asteroid belt for over a decade when they rode the wake of your spaceship and followed you here to Corel.”

“That would explain why my powers faded even after I left Earth.” Uz’Mun-dee’s shoulders sank. “Then, all of this…” He buried his head in his hands, “…was for nothing. Nothing!” He raised his head and shouted, “NOTHING! NOOOOTTHHHHHHHIIINNNNGGGGG!”

“That statement is not entirely true, Uz’Mun-dee.”

The group spun as Auda (who was brandishing an extremely nasty looking energy weapon) appeared behind the shuttle. “I have so… wanted to meet you, Captain,” Auda began, “…the great warrior, fearless hero, Starfleet legend, the victor of a thousand battles…”

Gillis stepped forward. “Spare me the pleasantries, Auda, we’ve already m—”

He was cut off as Auda shoved him aside and approached McEntire. “This is indeed a great honor, Captain McEntire, to meet you at last. ”

“Right…” McEntire replied uneasily.

Auda gestured with his weapon. “But, as much as I would enjoy speaking with you about battle tactics, the political climate of this sector and our shared interest in fine cooking, there are matters to attend to.” He turned to Donny Osmond. “Uz’Mun-dee, you are a traitor to the rebel movement.”

“Auda,” Uz’Mun-dee replied firmly, taking a step forward, “this must end. I simply wished to rally the Corellian people to resist join the Federation as a step toward destroying David McEntire, not to kill thousands of innocent people on Corel. I was wrong, wrong about everything! Wrong, wrong, wrong! David McEntire isn’t the enemy and neither is the Federation!”

Their attention turned to a young Corellian rebel who was carrying the prone form of Kyle on her shoulders. “Master Auda,” she said, “this one was creating a diversion to mask Captain Gillis’ escape. I have disabled his weapon,” she tossed Kyle’s earring to a the ground, and unceremoniously dumped Kyle next to it.

Auda nodded toward her. “Tray’Ceeray-ce, you have done well. Dismissed.”

As she left, Gillis commented, “Something very familiar about her.” He then looked at Kyle, did a triple-take, and said, “Don’t tell me, Mon Ami… A terrible accident involving my DNA and a Xerox machine.”

McEntire smiled. “Something like that. Bobby, that’s Kyle… and it’s a long story.”

Uz’Mun-dee turned toward Auda. “This was a huge mistake. I order you to stop this revolution now.” He barely got the words out before he crumpled to the ground in a burst of red light.

“I think not,” Auda said. “It has been an honor to serve you, Uz’Mun-dee. But the Bob-Be-Gones need a leader with fire, and you have demonstrated you lack the spine to continue. I dismiss you.”

“No!” McEntire exclaimed in horror as Auda again fired the weapon into Uz’Mun-dee’s body.

“Captain,” Monica intoned flatly, “Donny… is dead.”

“You Corellian bastard,” McEntire said as he stumbled backward. “You killed my… my… You killed Donny Osmond!”

Auda smiled a toothy grin. “I shall be departing now. All of our rebels are now in orbit, ready to converge on Enterprise. With over two hundred ships, your pitiful starship does not stand a chance, but I should like to supervise the destruction of the Enterprise myself.”

A light crossed McEntire’s face. “All of the rebel alliance is in orbit?” he asked carefully.

“That frightens you, does it not?” Auda said, rubbing his hands together. “Yes, Captain, all of them. Oh, there are still many sympathizers to the cause on Corel and Pho’Ebe, and this facility is well-guarded, but all of my rebels will destroy the Enterprise, and then swoop down on Corel and establish the new order.”

McEntire fought the smile that threatened to cross his lips.

Auda motioned with his weapon. “Place your weapons and communication devices on the ground, please.”

The group complied, and Auda vaporized the devices in a flash. “I shall return for you. I would not encourage you to attempt escape, as this complex is surrounded by a one hundred gigawatt magnetic shield all the way to the Meeko Cliffs. In addition, the outside walls are mined and littered with banana peels.”

“Y’know, Auda, you seem a lot more mellow that when we last saw you,” Gillis commented, stealing another look at his unconscious twin.

Auda shrugged. “The moment of my arrest at your trial? Yes. It was… an ill-planned attack. But today all of my plans bear fruit, and I shall rule this world. Beware, Federation dregs. When we again shall meet, I shall enjoy killing with my bare hands.”

Gillis smiled. “It has a more personal touch, that way. You know, Auda, I don’t know what makes you tick, but I hope it’s a time-bomb.”

As Auda raced away, McEntire and Monica reached into their jackets and retrieved their real phasers and communicators. “That was a great idea, substituting cheap Creation convention Star Trek props for our weapons, Captain,” said Monica.

“Not cheap. They cost $400 each at the Creation no-minimum bid auction.” McEntire opened a communicator. “Conn, Captain,” he said.

“Conn, aye. Black here, sir.”

“Confirm scrambled signal.”

“Scramble confirmed, sir. Hammer is geostationary over Amasastokek as ordered.”

“Standby. Tie in. McEntire to Enterprise.”

“Scotty here, Captain.”

“Gentleman, the situation has changed. Here are your new orders.” For a few moments, McEntire explained his plan, then finally closed the channel and walked over to Uz’Mun-dee.

Gillis looked up. “He gave his life to save ours.”

McEntire scratched his head. “Well, not exactly, Bobby. Auda shot him, and Donny Osmond has been responsible for all of our problems on Corel. Not to mention he wanted to kill me.”

“Nonetheless, he wanted to undo the damage he caused.” He took off his jacket and covered Donny’s body. “Rest in peace, Donny. May tomorrow be a perfect day, may you find love and laughter along the way, may God keep you in his tender care, till he brings us together again…” He stopped as he realized that Donny was moving.

“Golly, that hurt,” Uz’Mun-dee said.

Gillis scratched his head. “Ummm… Donny, Auda hit you with a lethal blast, twice.”

Donny shakily got to his feet. “Yes, my young friend, that it true. But my mental powers are still sufficient that I was able to shield my essence. I regret the inconvenience I’ve caused.”

“Donny,” Gillis said, crossing his arms, “not to undermine the fact that you’ve just come back from the dead AND reformed your evil ways, given severe credibility to your possession of psychic powers—”

“—not to mention straining this story’s credibility like a piece of taffy,” Monica added pleasantly. “Just so you know, this all makes about as much sense as a bowling helmet.”

Uz’Mon-dee ignored that and drew a breath. “Forgive me. To suddenly realize your entire plan of revenge was based on a mistake is a jarring experience… Captain McEntire, it would seem that I have done you a disservice. I humbly…”

McEntire made a cutting gesture with his hand. “Spare me the apology, Uz’Mon-dee. Just help us fix this mess.”

Uz’Mon-dee nodded. “Yes, I can do that. I ask that I be allowed to remain on Corel. I MUST make amends for my evil ways. Although the rebels have sworn an oath to Auda, they still believe that Auda takes his orders from me. I may be able to stop the attack, and at the very least, speak to the people and try to quell the riots.”

“Boy that was fast,” Kyle mumbled, rubbing his head.

“This is the last chapter,” McEntire observed. “We do have to wrap things up.”

“Yeah, but you introduce Donny Osmond this late into the story as the main protagonist, bent on killing David, and then he says I’m sorry and all is forgiven?”

McEntire nodded. “Osmond’s not evil, just misguided. Auda’s the real problem; Osmond was just used by him.”

“Yeah,” Gillis said, “But Donny Osmond IS the reason the entire planet Corel hates me.”

“Bobby,” McEntire replied tiredly, “we’ve been through this before. The planet hates you for many, many reasons.” To Gillis’ burning glare, McEntire quickly added, “Did I mention that it’s really good to see you alive? Anyway, I accept that Donny Osmond sincerely wants to help us. Besides, if he’s lying, I can call down enough firepower to blast his component atoms to the stars faster than you can say, ‘She’s a little bit rock and roll.’ You have a problem with that, Kyle?”

Kyle shrugged. “It’s your planet.”

Monica walked over to McEntire. “Captain, I will escort Uz’Mon-dee and verify that he makes good on his word.”

“Very well. Will you be all right?”

Monica replied, “Of course. I’ll do the “patch-up” work for as long as necessary and then head to my next assignment. See you around the galaxy, boss.” She and Uz’Mun-dee raced away.


Within ten minutes, McEntire, Kyle, and Gillis made their way through the fracas to the opposite end of the complex, and within a half-hour arrived on the far side and Meeko Cliffs.

“Holy shit,” Gillis breathed. He’d seen the Meeko Cliffs before, but now, minutes from death, they were absolutely terrifying.

“We have to jump,” McEntire explained.

“David, that statement mangles reality to such a preposterous degree that I have no humorous response to it. But in case you missed it, this is a nearly half mile drop onto razor sharp boulders. Of course, the water pressure will probably crush us like bugs before the screeching eels have us for lunch…”

McEntire grabbed Gillis’ shoulders and burned a look into his eyes. “Listen very carefully, my disbelieving little friend. Jumping into this chasm may be an unnatural act, but we ARE going to jump. We WILL be all right. Now, you can take the word of your very best friend who traveled across half the quadrant and three centuries without gaining a single frequent flyer mile or…”

“There they are!” a voice shouted.

They spun and saw dozens of armed rebels headed toward them.

“Oh, this sucks,” Gillis commented insightfully.

“Captain Gillis!” McEntire shouted. “Snap out of it! Jump! Kyle! We must jump!”

“David, I can’t do it,” Gillis said.

Kyle turned to McEntire. “If you ask me—and you haven’t—I have to agree with my daddy over there. This idea bites.” He turned the charred remains of his earring over in his hand. “I can’t fly until I repair this thing, and even if I could, I couldn’t take all three of us.”

A laser blast exploded above them and McEntire ducked. Impulsively he shouted, “There’s no time for this!” grabbed Kyle, and shoved him over the edge.

“Sonnnnnnnnn offfff aaaa bitttttttttcccccchhhhhhh!” Kyle bellowed as he plummeted down the abyss, all the while demonstrating his healthy respect for the universal laws of gravity.

Gillis nearly fell over. “You kill—” he stammered, “…you killed him.”

McEntire shouted, “He’ll be fine and so will we! The magnetic shield ends here! Now, please. PLEASE! Jump!” In one glance, he tried to convey years of friendship and trust. “Bobby, sometimes we have to take a leap of faith.” To emphasize that point, he grabbed Gillis and hurled him into the chasm, then followed him a moment later.

As their speed increased to terminal velocity, Gillis feared he would lose consciousness—he certainly wanted to be awake when he got to Heaven so he could punch David unconscious repeatedly.

As the jagged rocks rushed toward him, there was a burst of blue light—and they plopped gently onto a metal platform. Gillis was the first to stand. “Wow, Heaven is much different than I imagined—this looks a lot like a transporter room. But more seagulls and water than a regular transporter room.”

“Bridge, Captains McEntire, Gillis, and their guest are safely aboard.” the transporter operator said. “We picked up these animals and water during transport, sir. I’ll beam that back.”

“This isn’t the Enterprise,” Gillis commented.

“No, Captain, it isn’t.” As a yeomen raced up and placed a burgundy Starfleet command jacket over his shoulders, McEntire addressed the transporter chief. “Lieutenant Dugan, arrange quarters for our guest.” He turned to Kyle. “I’ll ask you to remain there until this is settled.”

Kyle looked over the woman behind the transporter console and winked at her. “That shouldn’t be a problem.”

McEntire gently grabbed his arm. “Kyle, she’s a Starfleet Marine and knows at least thirty ways to kill you that wouldn’t even get her uniform dirty.”

“Well then,” Kyle amended abruptly, “does my quarters at least get the Playboy channel?”

McEntire turned on his heel and he and Gillis raced down the corridor.

“David! Where the hell are we?” Gillis asked.

McEntire stopped in mid stride. “Captain Gillis, I’ll ask you not to refer to me as “David” while I’m in command of this vessel.” Almost as an afterthought, he added, “Welcome aboard War Hammer.”



USS WAR HAMMER
STARFLEET MARINE FLAGSHIP
NCC-1812

As they raced for the main bridge, dozens of Starfleet Marines in jet black and navy blue uniforms jumped to attention. Gillis noticed that this was a very different ship—while it was clearly a Starfleet vessel, it was definitely not built for science and exploration. There was no carpeting, plants or any of the other more “homey” aspects of the Enterprise. “Since when does Starfleet call ships War Hammer?” Gillis demanded.

“This is a Starfleet Marine dreadnought, Captain. My dreadnought.” As they burst onto the bridge, Commander John Black stood up from the command chair. “Supreme Commander on the bridge!” Everyone on the bridge jumped to electrified attention. “Captain McEntire, sir! Relinquishing command to you.”

“What’s John Black doing here?” Gillis asked.

“I have the conn,” McEntire barked as he snapped the command jacket in place over his black commando fatigues and took the center seat.

“Captain has the conn!” came Black’s quick reply. “Sir, the first wave of rebel swoopers will be here in four minutes.”

“Crew: As you were,” McEntire instructed. “Full impulse, Mr. Nemero. Initiate Hammer. Engage cloak.”

“Cloak?” Gillis asked deafeningly.

McEntire began keying in data into a small pad on the arm of the chair. “Communications, put me on hailing frequencies. Corellian rebel fleet: This is Captain David McEntire, the Supreme Commander of the Starfleet Marines. Your actions are criminal. You are surrounded by superior Federation forces, and will lower your shields and be beamed directly to the detention facility on Corel.”

“I think not,” came the quick reply.

“Chand’Leros!” Gillis shouted. “You can’t win! You must surrend—”

Gillis suddenly realized that the entire bridge was silent and that everyone was staring at him. He felt McEntire’s warning glare—there was no question whatsoever who was in charge here.

McEntire stood. “Ex-O has the conn.”

“I have the conn,” Black said, quickly slipping back into the command chair.

McEntire gestured for Gillis to follow him into a sparse office off the bridge. As the doors swooshed shut, McEntire began, “Bobby, I’m going to take into account the ordeal you’ve just suffered on Corel and grant you some leeway, and I have no desire to embarrass you in front of my crew. But you’re out of line here. You are now on the flagship of the Starfleet Marines. My flagship.” He punched some buttons and the computer obligingly displayed the ship’s specifications.

Gillis frowned intently at the screen, then looked at McEntire. “Presley class? War Hammer is a Presley class starship?”

“Of course,” McEntire confirmed. “This ship is the King.”

Gillis rolled his eyes and continued reading. “Three nacelles? Warp 9.5? Ten phaser banks? One thousand photon torpedoes? Phaser cannon? Triple neutronium shielding?” He concluded the obligatory exposition and turned toward McEntire, adding, “…and a functional cloaking device.”

McEntire folded his arms. “Your point?”

Unruffled, Gillis continued, “This ship is a flying breach of the Starfleet charter. We’re explorers, dammit, and your War Hammer is a military machine.”

McEntire was losing his patience. “Captain, like it or not, Starfleet IS the military, and you yourself have been in enough space battles to recognize that. The Starfleet Marines MUST operate beyond the laws of the Federation.”

“But…”

“Bobby, you haven’t been there and seen what I’ve seen. Orion massacres. Tholian treachery. Pirate raids. Slaughter and mass-murder. Wanton destruction on a cosmic scale! I’ve battled the venomous bubble-people of Spica-9 and lived to tell about it!”

“David, I’ve just always felt that Starfleet’s goal to explore strang—”

McEntire’s eye’s burned. “Don’t quote dreams to me! Let me be very clear on this. This isn’t some bachelor party or joyride beyond the warp barrier. Two hundred Corellian bad guys are about to try to take out the Enterprise. Civil war is about to destroy Corel. Millions of lives could be lost. Using War Hammer, I am going to prevent that. And on this ship, my word is LAW.”

“David…”

Only years of knowing the man made Gillis realize that McEntire was getting extremely angry. His teeth clenched, McEntire continued quietly, “We are here to preserve democracy, not practice it. You and I will present a united front to the crew. If you have a problem with that…”

“No problem…” Gillis paused. “So why is John Black here?”

“John Black has been my second in command of the Starfleet Marines for the past decade.”

Gillis stammered, “You had an undercover marine on the Enterprise? Why didn’t you tell me?”

McEntire gave him a very bemused look. “Because as Supreme—”

“—Commander of the damn Starfleet Marines, yeah, I know your title! Do you have to keep pasting it in my face?”

McEntire ignored that. “…I have learned to prepare for every contingency. Black’s my best marine and a hell of an engineer. “

Gillis was silent for a long moment, and his attention turned to the dedication plaque mounted on the far wall. “Ut Veniant Omnes? My Greek’s a little rusty, David. What does ‘Ut Veniant Omnes’ mean?”

“It’s Latin, Captain. It translates to ‘Let them all come.’ I chose it; a kick-ass motto for a kick-ass ship. Bobby, I need to know if you’re with me.”

“I’m always with you, David.” Gillis frowned. “Look, I just wish for a more ideal universe, I guess. But you’re right, we need War Hammer now. I guess I just forget every now and then what it really means for you to be Supreme Commander. I may not subscribe to your methods, but I’m sure they save a lot of lives.” He sighed heavily. “I was out of line and I’m sorry.”

McEntire let out a small breath of relief, then smiled. “Forget it.” He offered Gillis his hand. “Friends?”

Gillis shook his hand. “Always.”

“By the way, it’s damn good to have you back. Now, shall we end this Corel thing once and for all?”


The Enterprise was burning in space.

Her port nacelle had been sheared off and was spinning wildly away, leaking coolant and plasma fire. Much of the secondary hull was destroyed, and the saucer section was a mass of burning metal.

Auda joined the swoopers and hit a communications button. “Chand’Leros, what is the condition of Enterprise?”

“Leader, we have crippled the Starfleet vessel and have reserved the honor of final killing blow to you, as instructed.”

The communicator squelched, “Corellian fleet! This is Captain Montgomery Scott of the starship Enterprise. We surrender! Hold ya fire! Our ship has a warp core breach in progress and more than half my crew is dead. I am the only one alive on the bridge. Repeat: We surrend—”

“Enterprise!” Auda interrupted, “We cheerfully reject your pathetic pleas for mercy. My weapons will reduce you to plasma! A new day dawns for Corel! The tyranny of the Federation’s bloody legacy ends now. I advise you to make peace with your gods.”

The other rebel ships withdrew as Auda initialized a tremendous firing sequence and directed his sleek craft at the crippled starship. As he reached maximum speed, he pressed the target button, and a lethal volley of energy burst from his ship and raced toward the Enterprise, only to be dissipated like it was made of sand.

The Enterprise was gone.

It had not exploded or disintegrated, and the warp core had not breached. The ship had simply winked out of existence and Auda’s lethal energy blast had done the same.

“What is happening here?!” he demanded.

Directly ahead, space begin to shimmer, and Auda just barely made out the alien language and the markings “NCC-1812 WAR HAMMER” before his ship collided with a very large vessel and exploded like a Roman candle.

As Auda’s pulverized vessel faded to nothingness, a huge ship materialized in full glory. War Hammer’s array of weapons glowed to life as a rainbow colored burst of light streaked into the sector, and resolved itself into the undamaged starship Enterprise.


Aboard War Hammer, the bridge was ablaze with activity. Gillis worked a terminal and announced, “Projector disengaged.” He hit a button and added, “Computer, store damaged Enterprise program.”

“Good work, Captain Gillis,” McEntire said. He hit a comm button. “Scotty, your status?”

“USS Enterprise stands ready to assist you,” Scotty announced proudly.

“Speed of lighting, roar of thunder! Underdog, Underdog!” Yeldarb chimed.

War Hammer’s communications officer signaled McEntire. “Aar-cu’rY on hailing frequency, sir.”

McEntire nodded. “On screen.”

“Captain McEntire! We’ve been monitoring,” the Corellian leader began.

“The rebels refuse to surrender, Leader Aar-cu’rY. We may have to open fire.”

“They refuse to talk to me as well.” Aar-cu’rY bit his lip. “Captain, do what you must…” He froze. “By the Zotz! Is that Captain Gillis?”

McEntire nodded. “Affirmative, we rescued him from the rebels just a short time ago. He has learned that the rebels plan to destroy the amphitheater with a bomb during your speech there during the Kadooment festivities.”

The Corellian leader blanched. “Captain Gillis, you have saved countless lives!” As Gillis bowed his head in respect to the Corellian leader (but wisely kept his big mouth shut), Aar-cu’rY continued, “We shall send a team in to locate the bomb—”

“Leader, with all respect, that’s simply too dangerous. Our scanners have finally located the bomb and our transporters are locked onto it.” He checked a readout. “Energizing now.”

“Conn, Transport!” Lieutenant Dugan’s agitated voice crackled over the comm system, “the rebels are blocking our signal! Sir, they’ve acquired the package and are rerouting to the skies over Corel! They are attempting materialization!”

“Transport, Conn. Altitude and type of weapon?” McEntire snapped.

“Three thousand kilometers above surface! Weapon type: Solium incendiary device, yield approximately one kiloton.”

“No danger of electromagnetic pulse then. Captain Gillis, can our phasers reach Corellian orbit from here?”

Gillis was inclined to say no, but this wasn’t the Enterprise. He quickly accessed the information he needed and said, “War Hammer can do it, sir.”

McEntire turned back to the viewer. “Leader Aar-cu’rY, you might see some strange weather patterns across Corel for the next few hours, but your ecosphere will be safe. Transport, Conn. Boost the matter gain, begin materialization sequence. Captain Gillis, target and destroy the package.”

As the rebel bomb exploded high in the Corellian sky, the communications officer stammered, “Captain McEntire… The rebel fleet is picking up a transmission from… from… from…” He paused. “Sir, I swear to God I’m not bucking for dismissal based on psychological problems, but Donny Osmond is calling the rebels!”

“Calm yourself, Mr. Cameron. That is Donny Osmond. Let’s hear it.”

The speakers crackled and Uz’Mun-dee’s voice filled the air. “This is Uz’Mun-dee to the Corellian rebel fleet: I order you to cease hostilities against the Federation, return to Corel and surrender to the authorities.”

Another speaker crackled, and Chand’Leros shouted, “Ignore that order! Uz’Mun-dee is demented and is being coerced by the Federation! He is a traitor to the—”

“I’d pay real money if he’d shut up,” McEntire commented. “Can we jam that?” he asked communications.

“Negative, sir,” came the quick reply.

“Well, at least mute it. Tactical on screen!”

“On screen,” Gillis replied crisply. “Half of the rebels have powered down weaps and are returning to Corel, Captain.”

“Very well. Mr. Cameron, alert Aar-cu’rY to provide them with landing instructions. Put the following message on a repeat loop and continue to broadcast. Corellian rebels: Surrender and we will cease fire.” He turned to Black. “Engage the hammer.”

The MASTER SITUATION monitor displayed the words, “Bye-bye Johnny, Johnny bye-bye” as a massive cannon on the underbelly of the primary hull glowed bright scarlet, and a tremendously large burst of energy erupted, seemingly in all directions. Like a machine gun, tremendous pulses of rapid fire shot out and targeted the Corellian rebel fleet. Chand’Leros’ ship was the first to be vaporized as each hit tore through the rebel swooper shields like they weren’t even there and destroyed them in a flash. Ship after ship exploded into bright molecular fire.

“Weaps, hold your fire!” McEntire commanded. “To the rebel fleet, this is McEntire aboard War Hammer. Fifty-four of your swoopers have been destroyed in our initial salvo. Surrender and lower your shields.”

The communications system squawked a reply in Corellian that the universal translator transliterated into “Screw you!” and the remaining rebel ships regrouped and converged on Enterprise.


The Enterprise phasers picked off several of the swoopers, but they continued to converge like a swarm of angry hornets.

“Return fire!” Scotty yelled.

Another hit took out main power as the next wave of rebel swoopers flew at Enterprise and fired. As crimson emergency lights illuminated the bridge, the voice of Ensign Allenby filled the bridge. “Captain! Engineering reports four causalities! Main inducer down!”

“Port nacelle is buckling!” Seaborn exclaimed.

Suddenly, there was a flash of light as one of the aft consoles burst into flames as Seaborn shouted, “Damn! We’ve just lost the weapons computer!”

His place was on the bridge, but it killed Scotty not be in engineering at a time like this. He bolted to a console and shouted, “Allenby, number four inertial dampener shows thirty seconds from failing. Bypass the primary field inducer!”

“Aye, sir!”

“Computer: Transfer engineering Ops to this console, authorization Scott omega five!” To the confirmation bleep, Scotty reprogrammed the initialization sequence and brought up a schematic of the starship. Suppressing curses, he announced, “ODN bypass to secondary GNDN array now. Rerouting auxiliary power through the secondary emitters! Bypassing all non-essential systems ’an transfer to shields! Phaser emitters back on line! Return fire, all banks!”

The Enterprise phasers lovingly caressed the enemy ships, blowing them out of the sky, but more and more swoopers appeared as each one was destroyed.

“Captain!” Drebin shouted. “Ten swoopers on a collision course with the main deflector!” He looked up in horror. “Too many to target before they collide!”

“Resonance burst!” Scotty yelled. “Now!”

The order came so quickly that Drebin didn’t have time to be incompetent. His fingers danced over the keyboard as he rerouted circuits and plasma relays and instructed the deflector to do as Scott had instructed. In a moment, the main deflector glowed a bright silver-blue before a tremendous bolt of energy discharge erupted and demolished the Corellian rebels.

“Fine job, Lad!” Scotty cheered. “They’re backing off!”

“Captain Scott!” Seaborn shouted. “War Hammer’s number eight shield is gone, and two swoopers are making a strafing run for that section of the ship! The swoopers have disabled their fusion stabilizers and will breach when they impact!”

“Hard about! Channel all remaining power into shields and bring us directly between the swoopers and War Hammer!”

“Top Gun!” Yeldarb whooped as he rolled the Enterprise and burst forward. Enterprise intercepted the swoopers just moments before they would have collided with War Hammer’s vulnerable section of hull. The swoopers smashed against the Enterprise hull, a clever move designed to reuse the same special effect sequence from moments before.

“Thank you Enterprise!” McEntire shouted over the comm.

“Just returning’ the favor, Captain!” came Scotty’s reply.

“Incoming!” Black shouted.

“I’ll say this for them, they’re consistent,” McEntire said under his breath as the remaining swoopers grouped into another strafing run toward War Hammer and Enterprise. He leapt from his chair to electrified attention, his fist clenched. “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!”

War Hammer soared into the fire fight, cannon blazing, and took out all but nine of the swoopers in an impressive display of fireworks. Gillis fired twenty torpedoes that detonated in a string under the remaining rebel ships. At the same time, Scotty ordered a second volley of torpedoes launched into the explosion. The rebels never had a chance.

McEntire pointed to the scattering debris the view screen. “So it is written. Let it be done,” he said firmly. The space between Enterprise and War Hammer was empty except for a glowing field of white hot metal that was slowly fading to black.

“McEntire at Corel! Black velvet in that little boy’s voice!” Yeldarb proclaimed triumphantly over the comm system from the Enterprise.

“Aar-cu’rY on screen, Captain,” Cameron said.

McEntire rose and straightened his tunic. “Leader Aar-cu’rY, the Corellian rebel movement has been destroyed. On behalf of the Federation, I offer an apology that many of them could not have been captured.”

“They made that choice, Captain. Many of the rebels have landed and surrendered and more are arriving each moment.”

McEntire’s eye’s darted across a small control panel. “Leader, our scanners indicate that the explosion of the rebel bomb has affected atmospheric conditions and meteorology across the planet. Estimated cloud cover of Corel is 78.6 per cent, and you should see some severe rain over the next few hours before the bomb’s effects dissipate.”

“It matters not, Captain. The celebration in the streets is amazing! Although it rains across our planet frequently, it almost never rains on Kadooment Day. Despite the heavy rain storm, the people are coming out to celebrate! This is unheard of—it rained on Kadooment Day, and they came out anyway!”

“A glorious day,” McEntire agreed.

Aar-cu’rY continued, “Your actions today have ensured that democracy will continue on Corel. Your name, and the names of your officers, will be read by Corellians for generations as heroes who saved us from ourselves in one of our darkest hours. I have spoken with Uz’Mun-dee and have assured him he will not be prosecuted as long as he works to undo the damage he caused.” He smiled gratefully and sincerely. “Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome,” McEntire replied. “Do you require assistance on Corel?”

“No, the rebel leaders are dead, and their sympathizers on the planet will be dealt with fairly.” He paused. “We’re not ready yet, but I hope that at some time in the future, Corel may join the United Federation of Planets.”

“I would like that very much, Leader Aar-cu’rY. We’ll be leaving orbit shortly. I wish you and your people the best.”

“Thank you, Captain. Haddy Grimble.” The screen cleared and displayed a spectacular view of Corel. For the first time in a while, McEntire marveled at what a beautiful world it really was.

Gillis stood up and walked over to McEntire. “For a moment, I thought he was going to invite us to dinner.”

McEntire smiled. “Crew of War Hammer, I commend you on your elite skills and teamwork. Once again, you have done the Starfleet Marines proud.” He turned to his executive officer. “Stand down from red alert.”



USS ENTERPRISE

The next day aboard the Enterprise, McEntire stood at one of the observation ports and watched as War Hammer jumped to warp. Under Black’s command, the warship would be back in its secret space dock at Antares in a day. McEntire waited until the final violet warp signature had faded, smiled, and stepped into a turbolift. He found Kyle in the main shuttle bay, sitting on the open ramp of the newly dubbed shuttle Hedonist.

“Isn’t my dopple-gagger going to say good-bye?” Kyle asked.

McEntire shook his head. “Bobby’s still not exactly thrilled that he’s got a seventeen-year old twin brother no one ever told him about. He wishes you well, though. So, where are you going?”

“Risa. Sounds like a really fun planet.”


Back in the ship’s lounge, McEntire joined Gillis and Scotty at a table facing the windows. John Cafferty music played over the speakers; Scotty was enjoying a scotch and Gillis nursed a steaming cappuccino and biscotti. Life was good.

“Is he gone?” Gillis asked.

“Yup,” McEntire replied. “He’s not really a bad kid, but he’s got a lot of growing up to do.”

“Where’s he headed?” Gillis asked.

“Someplace where his talents will be very appreciated.” He noticed that Scotty seemed pensive and added, “Cosmic thoughts, my friend?”

Scotty smiled at that. “Tis funny, inna way. When we finished up that nasty business at Khitomer, I figured that would be the last time I’d be a member of this crew. I’d always assumed I’d leave this ship tha same time Jim Kirk did.”

Gillis nodded. “No need to worry about that, Scotty. After all, this was not exactly a regular Enterprise mission, and both David and I agree that the Enterprise will always be Jim Kirk’s ship.”

“No argument there,” McEntire concurred. “Nice of him to let us borrow it, though.”

Scotty smiled. “I’ll be seeing him at the dedication ceremony for the Enterprise-B.” He finished his drink. “Gentleman, one more thing… Thank ya for making an old man very happy. These last few weeks aboard the Enterprise have been exciting and made me feel young again.”

McEntire smiled warmly. “Our pleasure, Scotty. And I’m sure you have more adventures to come.”

Scott shook his head. “Oh, I dunno. After the dedication I’m definitely shipping out to Norpin V.”

“Wherever the adventure takes you, Scotty, good health and long life to you.”

Scotty shook hands with both of them. “Thank ya, lads. Now if yull excuse me, I have one more lecture to give to the cadets in engineering before I go.”

As Gillis sipped his cappuccino, he began, “Y’know, I was extremely impressed with the way War Hammer operated. I’ve been on ships you’ve commanded before, but an all-Starfleet Marine starship was damned impressive.”

McEntire beamed. “Thank you.”

“I was also very impressed with John Black.”

“He’s going to make a hell of a Supreme Commander,” McEntire mused as he looked at the stars streaking outside the portal.

Gillis sighed. “You’re really retiring.”

“Yep. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Starfleet Marines, and I was damn good at it. But it’s time for new challenges. Oh, you and I will be back here every now and then, I’m sure. But I’m looking forward to being a free agent.” He took a drink and added, “I really want to start living my regular life with Diana.”

“And Sue and I have a wedding to start planning.”

The lounge doors parted, and Yeldarb walked over to the two of them. He spread his hands, then clasped them together gently. “Darmok and Jalad on the ocean.”

McEntire nodded to his Tamarian navigator. “Thank you, Mr. Yeldarb. I agree, it is very good that Captain Gillis and I are united again.” He reached across the table, retrieved a Starfleet Marine handbook, and handed it to Yeldarb. “Timba, his arms wide.”

As Yeldarb bowed and left, Gillis whistled. “Not bad, Mon Ami.”

“He’s a likable character once you get to know him, and he’s expressed interest in join the Starfleet Marines.”

“What a wacky little century this is.” He was lost in thought for a moment. “Funny to think it’s all in the Enterprise computer banks,” Gillis commented. “A detailed description of how our lives will turn out—did turn out.”

“I wouldn’t know,” McEntire said.

“So you’ve never done it either? Looked up our own futures on the computer here in the 23rd century?”

“No,” McEntire replied. “Although the David McEntire presidential library is New Harvard Square certainly intrigues me. And yes, it is me. But no, I don’t want to know too much of my own future. The adventure to come should remain unknown. Besides, I like to think of the future as a page that hasn’t been written yet.”

Gillis raised his glass. “To the future, Mon Ami.”


“Personal log, Captain David McEntire; stardate: 9683.5. This mission is over and we are returning to Spacedock, Earth. This ship is to be decommissioned, and the new Excelsior-class Enterprise-B will be dedicated shortly.”

McEntire stepped out of the command chair and walked across the bridge to where Gillis was standing. As a fantastic view of Earth filled the screen, McEntire said, “Well, old friend, another year gone by and all the children gone, and who knows where it goes, but when it goes, except of course, for the fact that I have been, and ever shall be, etc…”

“That’s it?” Gillis demanded.

“What’s it?” McEntire asked.

“That’s how we’re wrapping this up? That’s the speech? This is the final chapter of Beyond The Warp Barrier! Have some respect!”

McEntire smiled warmly. “Bobby, this isn’t the end. We’ve been having adventures ever since high school, and the best is definitely still to come.”

Gillis nodded happily. “You’re right, of course. Thanks for indulging me and taking this mission with me. I’ve had a blast.” He paused, then added, “I’ll miss you, David.”

“Don’t start singing ‘Glory Days’ yet. Our futures may take us to different parts of the country, Mon Ami, but we’ll always make time to get together and we’ll always be friends, Bobby. Always.”

Gillis smiled. “And I have been, and ever shall me yours.”

The two best friends contemplated the future in pleasant silence as the ship made standard orbit over Earth.

Gillis whispered, “This has been one hell of an adventure, David.”

“My friend,” David replied happily, “the adventure has only begun.”

The End

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