Star Trek: Quotidian – “Muses of our Fates”

What follows is the third part of my Star Trek fan-fiction following the unadventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Quotidian. The stories speak for themselves, so I’ll offer no further introduction.

The first part, “An Unavoidable Encounter”, can be found here.

The second installment, “Dignified Relations”, can be found here.


Security Chief’s Log, stardate 43539.1,

I’m just a few minutes away from docking with the U.S.S. Quotidian, to start as her new Security Chief. I will admit that I have not yet quelled my doubts about accepting the position – I still haven’t been told why Captain Miller chose me for the role, despite lacking any prior experience in Security or Tactical and only being a Junior-grade Lieutenant who’s spent most of my time since the academy on Earth.

But I would be a fool to pass up an opportunity like this.


Lieutenant Tailor followed Lt. Commander Sarr into the captain’s ready-room. She had been told her tour of the ship could wait, and in any case she was excited to meet her new commanding officer.

Captain Miller was tall – very tall. She was stood by a floor-to-ceiling window, looking out at the stars, and cut an impressive figure. Tailor was reminded of paintings of historical naval officers, for Miller was all cheekbones and jawline and steely gaze.

“Lieutenant Tailor has arrived, captain,” Sarr said.

The captain moved over to Tailor and shook her hand. “Welcome aboard, Lieutenant. It’s a pleasure to have you join us.”

“The pleasure, and the privilege, is all mine, captain,” Tailor said. “It’s an honour to be here, and to be offered this opportunity.”

Miller seemed nonplussed. “You make it sound like you’re not going to accept, Lieutenant, which would make this a terrible waste of a journey.” She moved to behind her desk and took a seat. “Sit down, please,” she asked, gesturing to the seats in front of her desk.

Tailor and Sarr both sat, and Tailor answered the captain’s query. “It’s not that I won’t accept, captain, but I have to ask, why? Why me? I’m Starfleet’s Creative Arts attaché to the Globe Theatre Company, I haven’t been through any tactical training since I left the Academy three years ago.”

Miller clasped her hands in front of her. “It’s an unusual appointment, I’ll grant you, given your field. But I believe a starship can only function at its best with a crew drawn from many different professional backgrounds.” She glanced at her Second Officer. “For what it’s worth, Commander Sarr here agrees with you. I want you to change her mind.”

Tailor had already weighed Sarr up as being a frosty character at best. She was brusque nearly to the point of rudeness, a trait common with a lot of Bajorans who had escaped the Cardassian occupation. She didn’t respond to Miller’s comment, she just met her gaze with an incredibly neutral look on her face.

Tailor tried to ignore the muted tension in the room. “Captain, I’ll gladly try to change her mind, but how?”

Miller passed a PADD across the desk. “With this.”

Tailor took the PADD and scrolled through the text on it. She looked back to Miller in confusion. “Are these lines from a play?”

Miller smiled. “Not exactly.” She leaned back in her chair. “Tailor, are you aware of our current mission?”

“To transport industrial replicators to the Alesto system?”

“Correct,” Miller said. “And it takes us through a… problematic region of space. I need you to understand what’s on that PADD and act upon it when the time comes. We’ll be setting off in the next thirty minutes, and I want you on the bridge for the whole journey. Once we’ve completed the mission, I’ll let you decide for certain if you want to join the crew as Chief of Security. Until then, your orders are to do exactly as instructed.”

Tailor nodded slowly. “That’s very clear, captain, thank you. But it raises more questions than it answers.”

Miller stood up, straightened her uniform. “It does, I’m aware. Save them for now, and I’ll explain everything later. Until then, attend your post. Dismissed.”


Three hours into their journey, the helm officer announced that the Quotidian had just entered the Jereso Nebula, and Tailor noticed that the entire bridge seemed to… “tighten” with apprehension. All except the ship’s executive officer, the striking Commander Aufrecard, who remained silent, stationary and, apparently, two dimensional. He also bore an uncanny resemblance to Commander Aufregend, the Hero of the Kiken Cluster, whose classic good looks had graced many an Earth newsfeed following his daring rescue of the Atreidan Royal Family, and subsequent engagement to Princess Kel’Kerrax.

Captain Miller ordered the helm to maintain their course and speed. Tailor noted that Lieutenant Commander Sarr, sat at the Ops Station, seemed to operate as the ship’s actual executive officer, despite being listed as second mate on the crew manifest. Which made sense, Tailor thought, when she regarded Commander Aufrecard.

Without warning, the ship rocked, and Tailor could hear the warp engines shut down. Sarr called a red alert, and orders and reports began flying about the bridge, although everyone acted with practiced purpose, as though they had done this all before, or even rehearsed it.

The lights suddenly went out, even all the LCARS displays. Only the viewscreen remained active, its images of the swirling nebula clouds casting a dim, ghostly light over the bridge.

The crew remained silent. Captain Miller spoke clearly, “maintain your posts, everyone. And stand ready.”

A blinding point of light appeared between the viewscreen and the helm and ops stations. Out of it stepped a bizarre figure – a hugely muscled, bare-chested man, equal in height to Captain Miller, but twice as broad, with a rectangular jaw and with a gold chain hanging around his neck. Tailor rather thought he looked like an old plastic action figure, or one of the superheroes of old stories, proportioned in such extremes.

The light faded, and the systems displays came back on. Miller was pinching the bridge of her nose. The new figure was glancing around with a smirk on his face, legs akimbo, in a classic power pose. Miller addressed him directly. “Alfa, I see you have returned. I’ve told you before, we want nothing to do with the Omega Collective. Leave us in peace.”

Alfa tossed his head and laughed. “Captain Miller! I’m so glad you have returned to my little corner of the universe with your gentle and lovely demeanour! Have you reconsidered my offer, pray?”

Miller’s eyes narrowed. “I would have, but I couldn’t find a more definite way of saying ‘never’ so my previous answer stands. I will not be joining you as your… spouse.”

“Such a shame! And there’s no way I could convince you?” He laughed again. “Maybe the beautiful Keela here might accept?” he suggested, staring at Commander Sarr. She stared back at him, grinding her teeth.

Miller stood up, straight-backed. “What is it, Alfa? I assume you didn’t hold us here just to make everyone feel uncomfortable?”

He turned. “Captain Miller, Alexandra, if I really were holding you, I’m sure you would feel differently. Alas, I am merely here to remind you of your place in this universe. Humanity has come far with its technological advancements, but it is we, the Omega Collective, and others like us, who wield true power over life and death. Your fate is in our hands, and it would be remiss of me to let you forget it. Mayhap I should arrange some kind of lesson for you all, maybe a game! Yes! We could have a game, in which I will teach you that now matter how ingenious you think you are, you still have a long way to go before becoming masters of the galaxy.”

“I have no time for games, Alfa. We know our place well enough, thank you. Now leave. Your presence here is a danger to the safety of this ship, one that I’ll not permit to continue.”

Tailor was watching the exchange with her mouth agape. She had read reports of Starfleet encounters with god-like beings, but experiencing one directly was a different matter.

Alfa responded with irritation. “It is not your place to permit or prohibit anything, frail human! The Collective are the true masters of this realm, and your decision to once again pass through our hallowed tournament fields of the Jereso Nebula force me to teach you that lesson again!”

Miller clenched her fists. She turned her head slightly towards Tailor, and repeated her earlier statement. “I already told you, Alfa, your presence here is a threat, and one that I will not permit to continue.”

Tailor blinked, recognising her cue. She stormed down the side of the bridge in protest. “Captain, this intruder must be dealt with!” She drew her phaser and pointed it at Alfa, doing her best to keep her hand from shaking.

Alfa looked furious. “You dare threaten me, child?” He reached out his hand, and Tailor sank to her knees, screaming. She dropped the phaser, pressing her hands to her head, crying out in agony. Her body convulsed and writhed, until she fell limp to the floor. The bridge crew looked on, stunned, at her limp body.

Alfa lowered his hand and looked around, triumphant. “Do you see the cost of insolence? The price of hubris? Ants cannot challenge Gods and live, Captain Miller!”

Doctor Wainwright rushed from a turbolift to Tailor’s side and checked her vitals. She looked up at the captain, aghast. “She’s dead, Alex.”

Miller’s eyes fell. “Why, Alfa? She was no threat to you. Why did she have to die?”

Alfa puffed out his chest. “She’s of no import, but her fate was necessary so that you may all learn an important lesson.” He surveyed the forlorn faces of the officers around him, then sighed. “It doesn’t look as though any of you are in a very playful mood today. We shall postpone our little game, I think you all understand now what needs to be understood.”

Miller squared her shoulders. “Get off my bridge, Alfa, and leave us alone.”

He bowed expressively. “As you wish, my love, as you wish. I shall leave you to your more primitive, simple existence.” He vanished with a flash, but his disembodied voice echoed through the bridge. “At least, until next time, Captain Miller.”

Miller sat down in her chair and gave the order to resume their course. Nobody else moved – Wainwright remained next to Tailor for the next half hour.

Once they were clear of the Jereso Nebula, Wainwright stood up, as did Miller, and they both helped Tailor to her feet. “Comfy, Tailor?” the captain asked.

Tailor stretched. “Not particularly.”

Miller smiled. “Beggars can’t be choosers. Thank you, doctor.”

Wainwright gave a reserved, Vulcan nod and left the bridge. Tailor looked around. “What now, captain?”

“Now? Now, we continue to Alesto, and deliver those replicators on time. Meanwhile, you and Commander Sarr can join me in my ready room, for debriefing.”

As she followed the captain, Tailor got a few approving nods from other officers. Despite not really knowing what had happened, she still felt proud, though she couldn’t exactly explain why.


Miller moved straight to the replicator. “Coffee?”

Sarr shook her head, but Tailor requested a herbal tea. Once they were all sat, Tailor couldn’t hold herself any longer. “Captain, with respect, what the hell was that back there”

Miller took a sip of her coffee before answering. “Two years ago, on another mission to this sector, that entity you just saw, Alfa, stopped us dead in our tracks and subjected us to a series of games and pantomimes under the guise of gaining my hand in marriage in return for letting us pass freely. There were deaths, or would have been, but fortunately we were able to devise a countermeasure.”

Sarr stepped in. “The phased inhibitor field neutralises his powers. We switch it on when he arrives and he can’t do anything to harm us.”

“Well, why not just leave it on and stop him from interfering at all?” Tailor asked.

“He’s a trouble-maker,” Miller answered. “You saw him back there, all about power and assertion. The inhibitor field stops him manifesting his powers in their current form – if he realises he can’t actually use them, he may try something different. He genuinely is quite powerful. The second time we encountered him we managed to talk our way out, but only just.”

Tailor nodded. “Hence the deception.”

“Hence you,” Miller said, gesturing towards Tailor.

“I know you have the inhibitor field, but it sounds to me like I really could have been killed,” Tailor said. “I mean, I’m a Starfleet officer first and an actor second, but even still.”

Miller shook her head. “We monitor the field and Alfa closely – if there was any doubt, I wouldn’t have given you the cue,” she said. “Regardless, you performed excellently, I was genuinely concerned for a moment that he really was getting to you.”

“Thank you, captain. So, what now? What do we do on our way back? I can’t die twice.”

Miller shrugged. “It’s possible he will ignore us on the way back, he has a… limited attention span. But just in case, can I assume that your theatrical training has prepared you for wearing a wig?”

Tailor’s eyes widened. “A wig? Don’t you think he’ll see through that? Isn’t he an all-powerful being?”

“He tends to see the world in terms of blonde, brunette, redhead,” Sarr said, in her subdued tone. “He’s a total shitwit.”

“Language, commander!” Miller warned.

“Apologies.” Sarr turned to Tailor. “I meant a total shitbird,” she clarified.

Tailor snorted, and Miller ignored them both. “So, Tailor, what do you say? Willing to stick with us for a while?”

Tailor pondered for a few moments, clasping her mug tightly in both hands, whilst Miller finished hers. Eventually, Tailor looked up. “Alright, captain, I will consider it, but I need to know something first.”

“What?”

“Well, your first officer is a cardboard cut-out. When I first arrived, I’m sure I saw a sophisticated and likely unique android in the corridor-”

“Robot.” Sarr interjected.

“Well, she looked like an android.”

“Robot,” Sarr repeated, “totally unremarkable.”

“Android, robot, whatever. I also just had to act my way out of an encounter with a space god which seems like a big deal but you treat as an annoyance, and then I come face to face with your chief medical officer who happens to be a renowned peddler of smut.”

“Erotic romance,” Sarr interjected, again.

Tailor turned to her. “I’m an actor, a playwright and a founding member of the Jupiter Literary Association; it’s smut.”

“What’s your question, lieutenant?” Miller asked.

Tailor put her mug down. “What the hell kind of ship is this, captain? With respect?”

Miller didn’t answer right away, but stood and moved to look out of her window. She took a breath. “This is an ordinary Starfleet ship, lieutenant, full of extraordinary people, all of whom have far too many vital things to do to be able to spend time getting into trouble. We don’t care about pushing boundaries; we care about getting where we need to be on time. We care about efficiency, and effectiveness, and safety, and we care about getting done the things that need to be done so we can spend time doing the things that we need to do.”

She turned around. “Did you know that there isn’t a single manual task on this ship that’s done more than once a week? Our chief engineer is an expert in automation – anything that’s repeatable, we do it with computers and machines. Everyone on this ship works for, probably, forty hours a month. That’s actual work, you understand, ticking boxes, filing reports, attending meetings. The rest of the time, they do what they want to do. Most of us love what we do anyway, so we just do more of it, just the more interesting bits. Others branch out – our stellar cartographer is currently apprenticing in hydroponics, for example. Others still just use the extra time for their hobbies, like Doctor Wainwright and her Vulcan smut.”

She moved round to the front of the desk and leaned back on it, facing Tailor. “So, here’s the deal. We don’t really need a chief of security, we have algorithms to sort out shift rotas and training sessions and targeting parameters. What we need is someone who can be convincing in different situations, who can put on a good show to help us get out of trouble when we need to. The rest of the time is yours. If you really want to be chief of security, then Keela and I will help you learn how, and by the end you’ll be the best tactical officer in the fleet. Or you can focus on something else. So long as you’re ready to step up and be creative when we need you to be creative, you get to use the conveniences of being aboard a starship to your own personal advantage.”

Captain Miller held out her hand. “Well?”

Tailor took another few moments. Then she took Miller’s hand and shook it firmly. “I think I would be a fool to pass up an opportunity like this, captain.”


Following a tour of the ship, Tailor was led back to her new quarters by Sarr. At the door, Sarr paused.

“The captain probably made this sound like a pleasure cruise,” she said. “And it is a great ship to be part of. But you need to realise, we may not chase frontiers or seek out new civilisations, but those industrial replicators we delivered today are going to form the backbone of Alesto’s future economy. We transport professors to technical conferences, and carry out customs inspections, and we never, ever save the galaxy. Starfleet’s mission is to bring the Federation to those who need its ideals, but our mission is to keep the Federation in the business of Paradise. And it’s really damn important.”

“I appreciate that,” Tailor said. “And I appreciate the chance you’ve given me. I won’t let you down.”

Sarr began walking away. “It’s not me you’ll be letting down,” she said.

Tailor stepped up to her door, which slid open, revealing a modest lodging. It was undecorated and spartan – she got the impression it was a blank canvas.

Just before she entered, Lieutenant Mendacia, the so-called robot, walked past her. Tailor nodded to her. “Good afternoon.”

Mendacia nodded back, her movements awkward and mechanical. She wasn’t aware that Tailor could spot a performance from the genuine article. “Good after-noon, lieu-tenant,” she replied in synthesised tones. “Whirr. Whirr. Whirr. Whirr.”

Star Trek: Quotidian – “Dignified Relations”

What follows is the first part of my Star Trek fan-fiction following the unadventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Quotidian. The stories speak for themselves, so I’ll offer no further introduction.

However, I do want to point out that this story was originally written on the 1st December, 2016, and has only just been published here. I point this out because the first segment includes a minor plot with someone being held up due to overly thorough medical tests, which is also a plot in the ninth episode of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’. So I just wanted to make it clear that I had the idea first, and am therefore presumably qualified to write for big-budget sci-fi shows. My job application is pending.

The first part, “An Unavoidable Encounter”, can be found here.

The third story, “Muses of our Fates”, can be found here.


Captain’s Log, stardate 42976.1.

Whilst on a routine sensor sweep we have picked up a strange energy burst coming from the Periculum system. Despite its surprising similarity to some forms of interstellar communication, our sensors indicate that it is nothing more than the gravity-lensed emissions of a distant neutron star. Consequently I have convened the senior staff to confirm, resolutely, that it is indeed the gravity-lensed emissions of a neutron star, and absolutely not any form of communication from some strange, new, potentially dangerous lifeform.


“Counsellor N’rz, where does that leave us?”

N’rz’s mottled green head faintly glowed in pulses as he thought carefully. “Captain, Starfleet regulations require us to investigate any unrecognised sign of life in the likelihood that first contact could be established. Given that we’ve calculated -”

“And can show our calculations,” Lieutenant Baker added.

“- and can show, indeed, that there is no likelihood of this even being a signal from an intelligent life form, and subsequently absolutely no feasible scenario in which we might make contact with a new species, we are not bound by regulation to take any action.”

Miller nodded. “Ideal.” She turned to the rest of the officers. “Okay, that’s been settled then. Thank you all for your insight, you’re dis-”

Commander Aufregend, first officer, a tall, lean human with swept-back blonde hair and chiseled features, strode into the room with purpose. “Captain! I’m sorry I’m late, Doctor Wainwright insisted on carrying out a full physical, said it was vital to confirm that I hadn’t been subjected to unsafe levels of neutrino radiation. She was incredibly thorough, I thought I would be in there for the whole day!”

Miller’s eyes narrowed. “Yes, indeed, I… had thought that too. I will, ah, discuss it with Wainwright. We were just finishing up here, nothing with which to concern yourself.”

Aufregend looked around. “This looks like a staff meeting, is this… Wait, is this to do with the supposed neutron star emissions?”

“No, of course – well, yes, actually, but we’ve just confirmed, there’s barely a point-two -”

“Point-one,” Baker corrected.

Miller continued. “Yes, point-one percent chance of it being anything other than a Neutron star, whose emissions are being gravitationally… lensed… Commander, what are you doing?”

Aufregend had taken a PADD from Lieutenant Baker and was furiously tapping away on it, running complex calculations and algorithms. “Captain, this is incredible. Apologies, Lieutenant, I respect your position as head of Science, but your basic assumptions didn’t take into account the recursive feedback theorems of Doctor Enochlesi’s work on transphasic communication patterns…”

Miller’s eyes settled on Baker with the intensity of a proton beam. The Lieutenant kept his own eyes firmly pointed at some presumably fascinating distant star out of the window at the opposite end of the conference room.

Aufregend was still going. “… By running it through a fourth-order integration function, I’ve isolated a key repeating waveform. Captain, this is some sort of interplexing beacon! I’m afraid I can’t accurately identify its message, I would have to recalibrate the Universal Translator, but the origin point is barely three parsecs away! Would you like me to set a course?”

Miller stood, straightened her tunic and quickly shook her head at Commander Sarr, who was slowly releasing her phaser from its belt clip. The captain cleared her throat, then walked swiftly out of the conference room.


Captain’s Log, stardate 43125.8.

It has been three weeks since my former mentor, Admiral Taylor, urgently reassigned Commander Aufregend to the Muthir system, to help negotiate an historic peace treaty between twelve warring factions locked in a bitter conflict. The ship’s new executive officer is settling in well, however. In the meantime, we are about to start a new mission – conveying a Federation diplomat to an interstellar conference on replicator legislation.


The form of the ambassador materialised on the transporter pad, along with that of his aide. Both were Isilduns – tall, flat-chested, with lilac-tinted skin and prominent cheek protrusions.

As the whine of the transporter faded and the materialisation completed the captain stepped forward, pristinely turned out in her dress uniform. “Ambassador, I’m Captain Miller, commanding officer of the U.S.S. Quotidian. I’d like to welcome you aboard, and to express our pleasure to be escorting you to the conference on Naukarasaha.”

The ambassador bowed deeply. “Captain! I am Bitxia, of Isildu. This is my assistant, Laguntzaile. We are both honoured to have you as our escort. Is this your staff?” Bitxia gestured at the line of senior officers at the captain’s side.

Miller nodded, then introduced each officer in turn. “Ambassador, this is Commander Sarr from the planet Bajor, my head of operations.” Sarr lowered her head respectfully. “Chief Shmeh, head of engineering, from the Beij Cluster. Lieutenant Baker, science officer, from Earth -”

“Mars, captain.”

“Apologies Baker, of course, Mars. This is our chief medical officer Doctor Wainwright, of Vulcan.”

Bitxia regarded the vulcan carefully. “Forgive me, but ‘Wainwright’ doesn’t seem like much of a Vulcan name.”

“There is nothing to forgive, ambassador,” Wainwright explained in her careful elocution. “I was fostered by humans until early adolescence. It seemed important to them that I retain their name into adulthood.”

Bitxia nodded thoughtfully, and Miller continued. “This is Lieutenant Smith, my tactical officer. He’s too modest to admit it, but Smith has a tremendous dedication to duty, you’ve been killed, what, eight times protecting the ship?”

Smith was bashful. “Eight, captain, yes.”

The ambassador sounded astonished. “You have, ah, died. Eight times? Tell me, do you have any insight into the afterlife?”

“Not really, ambassador. I’m never there for very long.”

Miller gestured to the final member of her command crew. “And this is Counsellor N’rz, of the planet Causidicus.”

“Counsellor? Why would you need a counsellor as part of your staff, captain?” Bitxia’s face was stricken with confusion.

Miller cleared her throat. “Well, ambassador, Causidicans possess near-flawless recollection powers. On Earth, we would call it ‘eidetic memory’. It makes them incredibly effective legal consultants.”

“Legal… you mean he’s a legal counsellor?”

“Correct, ambassador,” N’rz said. “I advise the captain in all matters of Stafleet regulation, Federation law, interstellar law and foreign treaties.”

“Specifically,” Miller added, “N’rz allows me to ensure that at all times I am adhering very precisely to my responsibilities.”

“I… I see. I wouldn’t have thought that would often be, ah, be much of an issue.”

“Oh, you’d be surprised at the number of times I find myself unable to respond to dangerous situations due to some obscure law or regulation. Aboard this ship, we take legal matters very seriously, ambassador.” The senior staff were all nodding in agreement. “Now that you’ve met all of my officers – my first officer is currently on the bridge, apologies for his absence – I’d like to offer you a tour of the ship. Shmeh, maybe you could show the ambassador engineering first?”


Shmeh stood at the head of the MSD table with his engineering staff gathered around. Bitxia watched as a tardy junior lieutenant hurried into place. Shmeh began the meeting. “Alright, let’s get this started. Jones, general systems update.”

“News on the transporter, chief. We’ve identified a fault in the secondary heisenberg bypass circuit – it seems that a power surge in the buffer coupling could shut the materialisation array down altogether, completely preventing beaming.”

Shmeh looked thoughtful, stroking his bifurcated chin. “And the fix?”

Jones glanced sidelong at Bitxia before continuing. “We believe a phased molecular weld of the circuit’s quantum fixture should do it, but we’re following Spock’s Axiom, sir.”

“‘Spock’s Axiom’, chief?” Bitxia asked.

Shmeh’s cloudy yellow eyes turned to the ambassador. “Indeed. Starships are incredibly complex machines, with near-unfathomable interactions between seemingly unrelated systems. As such, in this engineering room we follow Spock’s Axiom: ‘Once we eliminate all other possibilities, whatever answer remains must be the truth.’ As such, we’ll systematically examine each system, run tests on them all one by one, and make sure they’re not the root cause of the problem. Then we can implement the fix and resolve the issue.”

Bitxia’s brow furrowed in confusion. “But that sounds like it could take an awfully long time, chief. Surely this molecular weld could be done now?”

Shmeh leaned back in horror. “Fix it now? Do you have any idea of how dangerous a notion that is? We could cause all manner of unforeseen complications.”

“But if you don’t apply the fix, your entire transporter system could shut down!” Bitxia pressed the point. “You’d be unable to beam anywhere!”

“Indeed, we could be left unable to beam down an away team into a hazardous environment,” Shmeh agreed, “or participate in a rescue operation at a catastrophic disaster site. Indeed, the transporters could fail at any given, and extremely untimely, moment, and we’d be left unable to beam aboard any kind of experimental technology or mysterious lifeform. But we can’t risk causing a destructive chain reaction by just applying molecular welds on a whim, ambassador. Modern-day engineering has much more in common with advanced applied science than with the iron mongers of a former age.” Shmeh addressed Jones again. “Lieutenant, in line with the Axiom, start with the material repurposing processor on deck twelve, and proceed from there. We’ll find the cause eventually.”

Bitxia remained nonplussed. “Chief Shmeh, how, in any capacity, might a transporter fault be related to a sewage processor?”

Shmeh stared at the ambassador. “Sadly, we’ve run out of time, and that concludes the tour of engineering. Ambassador, if you would follow Ensign Roberts here, he will guide you to sickbay for the next part of the tour.”

The ensign took Bitxia by the arm and began leading him out of main engineering. Bitxia turned his head to protest. “No, but, chief, I have additional questions!”

Shmeh turned to a status display, unfazed.


Bitxia sat in the CMO’s office opposite Doctor Wainwright, with her neatly trimmed short hair and loose blue labcoat. Wainwright was listing the ship’s inventory of advanced medical equipment, careful not to leave out even the smallest, most insignificant item. Bitxia’s posture was gradually relaxing as he moved closer towards unconsciousness. He noticed a small picture on the wall, what looked to be an illustrated book cover.

“Doctor, I’m sorry to break your flow, but what is that?”

Wainwright turned to look at the picture and raised an eyebrow. “That, ambassador, is the cover from my twelfth work of fiction, ‘Shadows of Vrentys’, one of the most widely read novels in modern Vulcan literature. I keep it as a reminder of my accomplishments as a writer.”

“Twelfth? How many books have you written?”

“Twenty-two novels in the last four years, all pieces of fiction in the style of ancient Vulcan epics, generally acting as analogies of various aspects of modern Vulcan society.”

“I thought you were raised by humans?”

“Correct, although only for the first few years of my life. As I grew, my emotional responses became increasingly problematic and it was decided that the best course of action was for me to be schooled on Vulcan, to learn the skills I would need to master my emotions.”

“And was it on Vulcan that you discovered your talent for writing?”

“Sadly, Ambassador, many conservative Vulcan literary critics would argue that I am indeed still yet to discover any talent for writing.”

It took Bitxia a moment to parse what he had just heard. “Doctor, did, did you just make a joke?”

Wainwright smiled. “I grew up around humans, ambassador, and consequently I possess an insight into humour that is rare amongst Vulcans.”

“Do you ever laugh? At jokes? At humourous scenarios?”

Wainwright pondered the question for a moment. “It is more closely related to an academic insight. Similarly to music or art, I am able to appreciate the structure and style of a well-crafted joke without being induced to an emotional reaction.”

Bitxia seemed to understand, but something else concerned him. “You said twenty-two novels, in four years? How do you find the time? Surely you must be busy as the ship’s surgeon?”

“In actuality, I find my occupation here relatively peaceable. We have the lowest medical incident rate of any vessel in Starfleet – this really is the safest ship in the fleet. As such, I have surplus time which I may devote to my writing.”

“And Captain Miller accepts this?”

“The captain actively encourages it. As long as her crew are healthy and well, she has little concern for ‘keeping me busy’. Indeed, she has allowed me to host several author talks aboard the Quotidian, inviting some of my readers to meet me in person. She’s very supportive in that regard.”

The main door to sickbay opened, and a metallic-skinned human figure strode in, wearing a blue Science uniform. “Doctor, I’ve finished my analysis of the cellular fluid samples, I’m confident that -” The silver-eyed figure looked at the ambassador and fell silent.

Bitxia was astonished. “Doctor, I had no idea you had an android aboard! I thought there was only one android in all of Starfleet! In the whole galaxy, in fact!”

Wainwright chose her words carefully. “Ambassador, this is Mendacia, our… robotic servant. She could be considered a rudimentary automaton.”

Mendacia stood rigidly straight. “Affirmative. Ambassador. I’m A. Primitive. Robot.” she said, in stilted, synthetic tones.

Bitxia studied the machine carefully. “She didn’t sound like that a second ago.”

Mendacia paused for a moment. “I Was Merely. Playing. A Recording. From Another. Crew. Member.”

“If she’s just a machine, why is she wearing a uniform?”

Wainwright maintained her Vulcan composure. “That could have been a decision made to aid interaction with other – I mean to say, ‘living’, crew members.”

“Affirmative.”

“And the rank pips?”

“I Must Return. To My Other Duties. Good. Bye. Ambassador.” Mendacia turned away stiffly and walked out of the room with an awkward, mechanical gait. “Whir. Whir. Whir.”

Bitxia’s mouth hung open. “Was she just saying ‘whir, whir, whir’?”

Wainwright remained silent.

“Doctor, you do realise the scientific and cultural significance of another sentient android, one that is a member of Starfleet, no less?”

“I am sure such a scenario would indeed be noteworthy to scientists across the Federation and beyond. But as I said, it is important to note that Mendacia is nothing but a mindless machine.”

“She was using contractions.”

“A well-programmed mindless machine, ambassador.”

Bitxia leant towards Wainwright and stared intently. “Doctor, as a Vulcan, you’re unable to lie to me, correct? And so if I ask you a direct question, you must answer with the truth, correct?”

Wainwright raised an eyebrow.

Bitxia continued. “Doctor, was that a sentient android?”

“Was what a sentient android?”

“The being that was just in this room!”

“Which being?”

“Mendacia!” Violet veins in the ambassador’s neck were beginning to pulse.

“What about Mendacia?”

“Is Mendacia an android?”

“Well, yes, of course, as a robot designed to resemble a human being, she exactly matches that definition.” Wainwright’s tone was as flat and calm as ever.

“And is she sentient?”

“Is who sentient?”

“Mendacia!”

“What about Mendacia?”

“Is she SENTIENT?” Bitxia roared. “IS MENDACIA SENTIENT? IT’S A SIMPLE QUESTION, DOCTOR!”

Wainwright leant back in her chair and steepled her fingers. “In actuality, ambassador, the question of sentience is rather a complex and difficult subject to -” She was interrupted by Bitxia crying out in frustration before leaping to his feet and storming out of the room.

“THIS ENTIRE SHIP IS INSANE!” he shouted as he stomped into the corridor.


“Captain Miller!” Bitxia announced as he entered the bridge. “I must demand an explanation for the actions of your staff!”

“Not now, ambassador,” Miller said from her seat in the centre of the bridge, “we’re currently a little busy.”

“Captain,” Lieutenant Smith called, “response from the Lenibus, Captain Hebetes says that they’re having issues with their main inversion coil, and will be unable to assist.”

“And there’re no other ships in range?”

“Confirmed, captain, it’s just us.”

Miller frowned. “Very well, duty calls. Set course for the Ligneolae Navem, maximum warp. Red Alert! Raise shields and prepare for combat.”

Bitxia was suddenly worried. “Captain, what’s going on?”

“Distress call, ambassador, large passenger liner under attack from Orion pirates. We’re the only vessel in range to respond. Engage!”

The Quotidian lept to warp speed, stars whipping by as streaks of white light. Lieutenant Baker was at the science station, monitoring the sensors. “Captain,” he said, “the Orion vessel appears to be Dreadnought configuration. They have use outgunned by, let’s see, approximately three-hundred-and-seventy percent.”

“Damn.” Miller bit dowm on the knuckle of her left index finger, pondering the situation. “This calls for extreme measures. Sarr, ready a probe.”

Bitxia gasped. “Captain! They have us completely outmatched! We have no chance of winning that fight! What good will a probe do us?”

Miller kept her eyes forward on the main viewer. “Ambassador, we are bound by our duty to protect the passengers aboard that transport. And it’s doubtful we can defeat the Orions, but there are, ah, always possibilities.”

“But you’re taking us to our deaths!”

“Ambassador, you are beginning to interfere with the operation of this vessel,” Miller stated flatly.

Commander Sarr turned steadily in her chair to face the ambassador, with a very Pointed Look. She mouthed something silently at him – the universal translator was no help, but they all seemed to be very short words. Bitxia was suddenly quiet.

“Sarr,” Miller said, “just ready a probe.”

“Aye captain.” Sarr sounded resolute and unaffected by the impending danger. “Are we implementing the Pandora Protocol?”

Miller turned to her second-in-command, a handsome officer with swept-back blonde hair, stood to her right with a straight back, broad shoulders, folded arms. “Objections, number one?”

The commander stared unwaveringly at the main viewer, silent and stern.

Miller nodded. “Outstanding. Bridge to engineering, we’ll be-”

“Captain,” Bitxia interjected, “your first officer, he’s… He’s two-dimensional.”

Miller looked again at the silent, unblinking form beside her. “That’s, ah, inaccurate, ambassador, he’s at least three or four millimetres thick.”

“But, he’s not even… he’s made of -”

Miller looked Bitxia straight in the eye. “Ambassador, Commander Aufrecard is an outstanding officer with a flawless record. His physical characteristics have no bearing on his ability to fulfil the role of executive officer.”

Bitxia looked at the unmoving commander, then at Miller, and back and forth between the two of them, before silently sitting down on the floor with his back against the wall.

Miller continued. “Bridge to engineering. Shmeh, Commander Sarr is preparing a probe for deployment. Please use Lieutenant Baker’s Periculum telemetry to set up Pandora Protocol two-six-three, and inform Sarr when it’s ready.”

Shmeh acknowledged. The red lights of the alert system continued to pulse whilst the warp engines thrummed in the background. Bitxia watched the crew frenziedly prepare for battle, immobilised in equal measure by anxiety over the coming conflict and by sheer confusion at all he had witnessed that day.

Lieutenant Smith addressed the captain again from his post at tactical. “Ten seconds to arrival. Shields and weapon systems ready, captain.”

Sarr finished a last few calculations on her console. “Probe ready, captain. Minimum safe distance, three hundred kilometres.”

“Understood,” Miller said. “Stand by for launch. All hands, prepare for combat!”

The ship dropped out of warp in front of the ugly bulk of an Orion cruiser. The pirate vessel’s crude, broad structure dwarfed the sleek curves of the Quotidian, but the Federation ship squared up to the beast nonetheless.

Bitxia watched with eyes as empty as the first officer’s as the Orion ship on the main viewer turned to face them. The bridge crew were busy giving instructions over the comms and coordinating their teams throughout the ship. Miller’s voice cut through the chatter. “Distance to target?”

Smith answered promptly. “Four-hundred-eighty kilometres, sir; they have locked weapons and are ignoring our hails. The Navem is at three-fifty kilometres from the target.”

“Damn,” Miller cursed again. “We’ll have to risk it. Launch probe, commander.”

“Probe away,” Sarr said, tapping a few buttons. The sound of the probe launching was a short, high-pitched whistle. On screen, the small projectile sped towards the pirates unerringly.

“The enemy ship is about to fire, captain,” Smith said.

Miller gripped her seat tightly. “All hands, brace for impact!”

The ship rocked violently as the Orion disruptors struck the deflectors. Sparks flew from a few consoles as the shield projectors overloaded. Commander Aufrecard fell forwards face-first onto the floor and lay there as motionless as ever. Bitxia carefully crept forwards and lifted the commander upright again, leaning him against the tactical console as he had been before.

Miller looked around as the rocking subsided. “Damage report!”

“Shields holding,” Sarr answered. “No damage sustained as yet.”

“Time to probe activation?”

“Six seconds, captain.” Sarr looked up at the main viewer, her lips moving silently as she counted down. “… Now!”

Nothing happened. For an age it seemed like nothing was happening. The Orion cruiser still pointed towards them, its guns just seconds away from another volley. Then, without warning, the pirate vessel fell away backwards, as though launching to warp. It disappeared into the distance with an orange flash, and was gone.

“Report?” Miller hesitantly asked.

Baker studied his scopes carefully. “They appear to be gone, captain, as exp-” He glanced at Bitxia. “Ah, as unexpected as that may be.”

Miller nodded. “Good. We will assume that they mistook our probe for a powerful new weapon and chose to turn tail and flee. Counsellor?”

N’rz was sat to her left, and seemed as collected and calm as all the other officers, in spite of the battle moments ago. “That is a perfectly sensible assumption, captain, and offers sufficient explanation for the enemy ship’s departure. No further investigation would be required of us in a matter such as this.”

Miller stood. “Very well. Damn good job, all of you. Sarr, dispatch repair crews to the Ligneolae Navem and offer them any other assistance they require, but the priority is to have them up to warp speed and well on their way within the hour.” Sarr began working straight away. “Miller to sickbay, Doctor Wainwright, there could be people hurt over there, can you spare anyone?”

“I can spare myself, captain,” Wainwright answered, “I’ll join the repair crews in the transporter room.”

The officers around the bridge worked at their consoles, busy but unhurried. Bitxia looked around at what now seemed like a very day-to-day scene of normality. For him, the terrifying combat less than a minute ago was still very fresh in his mind. He pushed himself to his feet, clenched his fists to steady the shake of his hands, and addressed the captain directly. “You, Captain Miller, I – I need you to tell me the truth. I’m a Federation ambassador, your Starfleet oath means you have to tell me the truth.”

“He’s incorrect, captain,” N’rz stated, “no such regulation exists.”

Bitxia was barely preventing his speech from stammering. “Y-You cannot lie to me about what just happened!”

“Incorrect again, captain, you can lie to him about any subject.”

Bitxia glared phaser beams at N’rz, who returned his gaze impassively. Miller regarded Bitxia for a moment, then turned to the science station. “Baker? Your analysis? For the benefit of the ambassador.”

Baker screwed his face up, as though considering the situation in some depth. “I suppose,” he began, tentatively, “it’s possible that there exists, in some interstitial area of subspace, some powerful faction or species, capable of pulling objects of varying characteristics – ships, for instance – into subspace itself. Possible, but highly improbable, of course.”

Bitxia stared at Baker in confusion and disbelief.

“But were that the case,” Baker continued,  “it stands to reason that such a species might, ah, pick up the ships of  realspace species, based on those ships emitting some specific signal or waveform. Perhaps inadvertently so, for instance when conducting an Alpha-Level subspace sensor sweep.” He stared calmly at Bitxia, as if ready for whatever challenge may be presented.

Bitxia’s stammer was now well out of control. “H- h- how…”

“How would such a species communicate with realspace?” Baker prompted. “Well, I dare say it would be unfamiliar to us. Probably some kind of transphasic communication. Maybe a repeating transphasic waveform, or even an interplexing beacon. Of course, such a phenomenon would hardly look like any form of message we would recognise – it would most likely resemble the emissions of a neutron star or some other stellar body, potentially focused around a powerful gravity well.”

“Wh- Why… Just, why?”

“Why pull ships into subspace? Impossible to answer without being subjected to the process itself. Of course, it would be an act of great carelessness to trigger such an event with a starship. It would be much more sensible to perform scans with an external device, such as a probe. That way, when any unusual event did occur, it would occur to the probe itself, and could be observed from a safe distance, and the relevant conclusions made from the observable data.” Baker looked at Miller. “This is all highly, highly unlikely, captain, extremely hypothetical. The far more realistic interpretation is that the Orion vessel simply departed the battle out of sheer fright.” He leant back in his chair, looking rather pleased with himself.

“Thank you, lieutenant,” Miller said. “Naturally, ambassador, the discovery of an intelligent species based entirely in subspace would be the discovery of the century, and would of course warrant further investigation. Sadly, Baker’s hypothesis has as much grounding in reality as those novels of Wainwright’s, and as such we have no cause to investigate the matter further.” She looked around. “Can someone get me a coffee, please?”

Throughout this all, the executive officer had remained silent and stationary, staring without blinking directly ahead, handsome and confident. Bitxia looked at him now, and let his shoulders drop and his arms hang loose, the opposite in every way to the commander’s resolute, heroic posture. “I… I don’t understand any of this,” he admitted, his voice hollow.

Miller shrugged. “We couldn’t abandon three hundred souls to pirates and slavers. We couldn’t defeat the pirates in combat.” A yeoman moved to her side and offered her a cup of strong-smelling black coffee, which the captain accepted. She took a sip. “So, we… changed the conditions of the engagement. All it takes is a little original thinking.” She turned to the yeoman. “Could you get a cup for the ambassador as well, please?”


Aboard the shuttle to Starbase 362, the venue for the conference, Bitxia and his aide, Laguntzaile, sat in silence. Laguntzaile was intently reading from a PADD in his hand, fully enraptured by the text on the small screen. Bitxia just stared out the window at the stars beyond. His voice lacked texture, almost as though he was speaking from behind a closed door, as he asked his aide, “How was your time aboard the Quotidian?”

Laguntzaile barely dragged his eyes from the PADD. “Oh, fascinating! The battle was scary, of course, but I met several of the crew members, saw some of the amazing technology they have aboard. I always enjoy my time aboard Starfleet vessels. And yours, sir?”

It took Bitxia a few moments to respond in his empty voice. “I met a robot, Laguntzaile. I met a robot, and I met a Vulcan author, and I even learned about starship repair and maintenance.” He sighed. “My husband was talking about the lakehouse again, you know, before we left. I think he’s right, it’s getting time we settled down for the quiet life.”

Laguntzaile pondered. “I think you’ve earned it, sir. You’ve had a long career, you deserve a decent retirement.” Bitxia didn’t respond, but kept staring at the stars. Laguntzaile read for a few more moments before restarting the conversation. “That Vulcan author you mentioned, she gave me a copy of one of her books. It’s really rather fascinating! Very beautifully written. Though, the characters all spend a lot of time, ah, mating. In quite some detail. I feel that if they spent less time in bed and more time dealing with their problems, the book would be a lot shorter.” He looked at the ambassador. “Did you get a chance to read any of her work, sir?”

The shuttle cruised on towards the station. Behind it, the Quotidian turned about and headed out of the system. As she finished her turn her engines flared brightly, and she disappeared into the distance with a blinding white flash. In another system far away, the Ligneolae Navem pulled into dock to drop off its shaken passengers and begin its repairs.

No one ever heard from the Orion ship or its crew.

Star Trek: Quotidian – “The Unavoidable Encounter”

What follows is the first part of my Star Trek fan-fiction following the unadventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Quotidian. The stories speak for themselves, so I’ll offer no further introduction.

The second installment, “Dignified Relations”, can be found here.

The third story, “Muses of our Fates”, can be found here.


U.S.S. Quotidian, Captain’s Log, Stardate 41153.7

We are engaged in a routine survey mission, cataloguing instances of carbon-rich asteroids in the Cortix system. All operations are proceeding smoothly, with no incidents of any kind to report whatsoever.


“Captain, we’re receiving a text-based communication from the Lenibus. Seems to be quite a short message.”

“Thank you, lieutenant.” Captain Miller turned her chair to face her head of operations, Commander Sarr. “Ops, can you confirm the latest report that the Lenibus sent to headquaters?”

Sarr, which was an old Bajoran name meaning “clerk”, scanned through a list of entries on the console in front of her. “Five hours ago, captain. Just an update on position and status, nothing out of the ordinary reported.”

Miller looked around nervously. “A short message? Okay, read it out.”

The communications officer looked perplexed as he scanned the message. “It just says, ‘Bagsie Not It.’ Is that a code?”

“Bagsie not…” Miller stroked her chin, then lept out of her chair. “Damn! Science, quick, shut down the -”

The science console chirped in alarm. Lieutenant Baker, the science officer, rolled his eyes.

“- sensor alerts.” The captain sank back into her chair with all the gravity of a neutron star. “I take it the computer logged that already?” Baker nodded, and Miller’s head slumped. “Out with it, then.”

“First off captain, allow me to apologise for my sluggish reactions. Secondly, there seems to be a…” He sighed expressively. “There seems to be some kind of gravitic energy burst emanating from the nearby Admodum system, eight lightyears away.”

Miller brought up a navigational chart on her armrest display. “Are there any other ships in the sector?”

Sarr responded. “One, captain.”

Miller’s eyes narrowed. “It’s the Lenibus, isn’t it?”

“I’m afraid so, captain.”

Miller cursed the other ship’s captain. Then she stood up, straightened her back. “Bridge to engineering, this is the captain. Chief, we’ve encountered a spatial anomaly eight lightyears away.”

Chief Shmeh was on the other end of the line. “Shmeh here, sir. Eight lightyears, understood.” The line went quiet for a few moments. Miller scratched the back of her head idly, whilst Sarr and Baker exchanged hopeful glances. Suddenly, the sound of the ship’s reactors fell away to nothing, leaving the bridge eerily quiet. Shmeh’s voice rang out not long after. “Captain, we’ve just completely lost warp field integrity. The whole system just went dead. I am unable to ascertain how or why.”

Miller nodded her head. “How quickly can you restore warp engines, Shmeh?”

“Well, captain, as I don’t understand the cause of the problem, I can only recommend a level ten diagnostic on all power and propulsion systems before I attempt any repairs, or else risk making matters worse.”

“How long will that take?”

“At least ten hours, sir.” Shmeh paused for a moment. “To reach a minimum standard of safety. Captain.”

“In that case, we’d better make it a Level twenty diagnostic. And run it on all ship functions, just in case whatever issue this is starts affecting life support, navigation or even the holodecks.” Miller looked around and addressed the bridge in general. “You can’t be too careful.”

The other officers nodded their assent, then turned back to their stations. Sarr whispered her appreciation to the Prophets, but cursed in old Bajoran when she looked down at her console. “Captain Miller! The anomaly, it just started accelerating toward us, at warp speed! Estimated time to intercept, ninety-six seconds, captain!”

Miller thumped her armrest. “Damn it! Okay, think fast people – Baker, is it definitely headed for us? Is it possible that it just started moving in this direction randomly?”

Baker pressed his eyes to the sensor scope. “Negative, captain, it looks like it’s making a beeline straight for the Quotidian. It’s possible that it’s responding to our background subspace radio emissions. If we were to shut down all onboard power sources, except minimal life support, it’s possible it would be unable to detect us, as long as it doesn’t pass into visual range.”

“Understood. Commander Sarr, make it happen. Bridge to engineering – Shmeh, we need to shut down everything except life support, and even then we can run it on minimal, we’ll just breathe like yogis if we have to. If we’re lucky, whatever this thing is will pass us by and we can contin-”

The ship shook violently, rocked from side to side. Damage alerts flooded in from all decks. Sarr clung to her console. “Some kind of energy field, captain, pinning us in place! It’s beyond anything I’ve seen before, our scopes can barely measure it. Trying to compensate.”

The shaking subsided as the inertial dampeners took effect. Miller glanced around in alarm. “Tell me there’s a way out of-”

“MORTAL LIFE FORMS.” A booming voice filled every molecule of atmosphere within the ship. “I AM VIRRIDITTAR THE ELEVENTH, HIGH EMISSARY OF THE GLORIOUS STAR EMPIRE OF VIDUMET. I BRING WITH ME AN OFFER, AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUR ENTIRE RACE.”

Miller, slumped in the captain’s chair, tipped her head back and pinched the bridge of her nose, inhaling deeply. “On screen.”

The main viewer changed from a pleasingly soft gradient of greys to the external view, and the vibrant, garish form of an enormous ancient warrior floating in space, shimmering and blindingly bright, clad in nought but a face-concealing helmet and wielding a huge, kilometres-long spear.

“Based on these readings, I believe it’s a psychic projection, captain,” Baker volunteered, “an image created to aid communication. Although that doesn’t explain the loincloth.”

“MORTAL LIFE FORMS, WILL YOU ANSWER MY CALL?” the warrior boomed. “MY PEOPLE SEEK A DISCOURSE WITH YOUR SPECIES, TO SHARE OUR WONDROUS TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS. YOUR LEADER, YOUR SO-CALLED CAPTAIN, HAS BEEN CHOSEN AS YOUR AMBASSADOR. SHE MUST ADDRESS THE HIEROPHANTS OF VIDUMET, THE EXALTED HEIRS OF THE ROYAL BLOODLINE OF KARSIS, HOLDERS OF THE KEYS OF-”

VirridIttar continued for some time, listing the many titles of his leaders. Captain Miller didn’t move once throughout, but sat motionless, her head still tipped back. A junior lieutenant at the weapons station had his head in his hands, whilst Commander Sarr was forcefully tapping the side of her console with her fingertips and grinding her teeth.

“- THRICE-REMOVED, AND OVERSEERS OF THE SACRED BATHHOUSE. BUT BEFORE SHE IS PERMITTED TO KNEEL BEFORE THESE NOBLE GODS, SHE MUST FIRST PASS A SERIES OF DEADLY CHALLENGES, TO ENSURE THAT SHE IS WORTHY. ONCE YOU START THE TESTS, YOU MUST COMPLETE THEM. SHOULD YOU FAIL, YOUR LIFE, AND THE LIVES OF ALL THOSE ABOARD YOUR VESSEL, SHALL BE FORFEIT. THESE CHALLENGES SHALL PUT TO THE TEST YOUR COURAGE, YOUR RESOLVE, YOUR-”

Miller now had her hand on her forehead, slowly pushing her fingers back through her hair. Baker had started a conversation with the ensign sat behind him, asking about her dissertation at the academy. Sarr was now picking at a loose thread in the upholstery of her seat.

“- AND YOUR GASTRIC FORTITUDE. HOWEVER, THE MERCY OF THE HIEROPHANTS IS GREAT, AND THEY OFFER YOU NOW THIS CHANCE ESCAPE NEAR-CERTAIN FAILURE AND SUBSEQUENT ETERNAL TORMENT,” Miller perked up, eyes wide. “BY SACRIFICING ONE OF YOUR OWN LOYAL FOLLOWERS.” The iridescent hoplite fell silent, anticipation heavy in the air.

Miller held the warrior’s gaze. “Just one?” Then she began tapping words into a written message on her armrest display.

Virridittar’s voice boomed once again throughout the ship. “AH, YES, JUST ONE. BUT TO DO SO WOULD BE TO DENY YOURSELF ACCESS TO ALL THE UNIVERSE’S KNOWLEDGE, TO DENY YOURSELF ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGIES AND WEAPONS BEYOND YOUR WILDEST DREAMS. CURES TO EVERY DISEASE, PROTECTION FOR ALL, AN END TO SUFFERING, AND EVEN IMMORTALITY ITSELF. ALL OF THESE GIFTS YOU COULD SHARE WITH YOUR-”

Miller turned to the weapons station. “Lieutenant Smith?”

Smith looked up. “Was tired of living anyway, captain.”

Miller nodded. “Outstanding.” She drew her phaser, pointed it at Smith and vaporised him. As the glowing particulate remains of Smith faded away, she turned back to the viewscreen. “I believe we’re now free to go?”

It took a moment for Virridittar to respond. “I – EH, YOU, YOU JUST KILLED HIM.”

Miller nodded. “That gets me out of the tests, correct? And out of the audience with your leaders?”

“OF COURSE IT – THAT WAS THE TEST. YOU JUST – THE TEST WAS TO SEE IF YOU WERE WILLING TO RISK YOUR LIFE TO – YOU JUST KILLED HIM.” Virridittar’s form began to sparkle a little less, and began to slowly shrink down to a more moderate size. “YOU DIDN’T EVEN, LIKE, THINK ABOUT IT.”

The envoy’s form was becoming less martial, the helmet morphing into a more elegant circlet and revealing a beautiful, if somewhat aghast, alien face. “We were offering you UNLIMITED power, we offered you IMMORTALITY, and all you had to do… I mean, it’s normally hours of deliberation, then they decide to risk it for the good of… Or they try to decide who to sacrifice, then we reveal… But you… You just killed him.”

Virridittar’s humanoid form was now fading entirely, revealing a small and incredibly advanced alien vessel just a few hundred metres from the Quotidian’s bow. The voice was faint and getting quieter. “Just… just killed him. Unlimited power. Killed him.”

The Quotidian shuddered as the energy field surrounding it dissipated. Miller and her bridge officers watched as the alien ship turned away and began moving off, accelerating quickly. For a moment, it seemed as though there was one last, resonating sigh as the ship vanished into the distance.

Miller counted to ten. “Baker, is that thing turning back at all?”

“It’s already left our scopes, captain. No sign of it for five sectors.”

The captain let out a breath. “Bridge to transporter room; Smith, did they grab you?”

Smith sounded relaxed. “Got me right on time, captain. No damage done.”

Miller smiled. Smith was a consummate professional for such a young officer. “Okay, get yourself back to the bridge, via holodeck three, you earned it. Engineering, Chief Shmeh, switch the damn engines back on. Commander Sarr, make a note in the log – first contact with the… whatever they were called. Unable to establish communication, possible failure in the universal translator.”

“Aye, captain, I’ll have comms look into the issue as soon as possible, but it could take weeks.” She punched a few commands into her console. “Would you like me to plot a course for the next asteroid cluster?”

“I think we better had, we were making record time. After that, we can start logging the base rate of neutrino emission from the -”

The whine of the transporter filled the room as the anxious form of the first officer, Commander Aufregend, materialised next to Miller. He looked around wide-eyed, phaser in hand. “Captain! Are you okay? Is the ship safe? Do you need me to secure the area?”

“That won’t be necessary, number one, the, ah, spatial anomaly has departed.”

“Spatial anomaly? I heard the voice captain – immortality! Unlimited power! If you would like, I could take a shuttle and a science team! By recalibrating the navigational array we could track the molecular disturbance in the subspace field and follow it back to its source. Once we’ve determined its origin, we could -”

Miller waved her hands. “That won’t be necessary, Typhon, really, the situation has been resolved.”

“But – oh. So quickly? I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner, but the door to my quarters jammed again. I tried to gain access to the jeffries tube like last time, but it was somehow filled with plasma. Luckily, I was able to reroute the comms circuit and hook up with one of the shuttles, managed to reprogram its remote access algorithm so I could use the on-board site-to-site transporter and get myself here. That makes the third time my door has jammed during a crisis, do you think it might be an issue with the EPS conduits? Maybe if we remodulate the ship’s internal -”

Baker tapped something on his console and a high-pitched alarm sounded. He cried out, “Commander, there’s a plasma fire on G-deck! In the entomology lab! We need someone to put it out before it engulfs the ship!”

Aufregend spun on his heels. “Plasma fire? Entomology? The insects!” He sprinted to the turbolift.

“Stop by engineering once you’ve dealt with it,” Miller called after him. “Ask Shmeh to fortify the security access on the shuttles, if you would.”

Aufregend disappeared behind the turbolift doors. “We need to try something different next time, he’s catching onto the door thing,” Sarr said, not looking up from her console.

“Agreed,” Miller said. “Maybe some kind of coolant leak in the adjoining corridor. Run up some scenarios, let me know how you get on. Anything else?”

The stand-in tactical officer cleared his throat. “We’re getting a distress call, captain, from the Lequ system.”

Miller sat firmly in her chair. “Are we the only ship in range?”

“No, captain.”

Miller smiled. “Fantastic.”