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Leah Rewolinski is the author of Star Wreck: The Generation Gap.
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Star Wreck: The Generation Gap
The Spacy Spoof that Dares to Boldly Go Where Nobody Wanted to Go Before
By Leah Rewolinski, Harry Trumbore
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1989 Leah Rewolinski
All rights reserved.
Take Off, Eh
"Captain's top-secret diary, Star Date 2323.2323232323 ..." The captain took a deep breath and continued.
"Dear Diary: It's good to be back aboard the Endocrine, though I do have some qualms about sharing the helm with another captain."
Capt. Jean-Lucy Ricardo pressed the "pause" button on his Dictaphone and surveyed the Bridge. Leadership came naturally to him. He stood out among the crew members, with his commanding presence, authoritative voice and bald head.
His crew bustled around the Bridge, preparing for launch. The color of their uniforms indicated their function in the mission: red for commanding officers, blue for support staff, orange for Personnel Department, yellow for Marketing, and black pinstripes for Accounting. Many of them wore miniskirts, including some of the women.
Capt. Ricardo resumed his dictation.
"Nevertheless, I will do my best to comply with Starfreak's order to share this mission with Capt. Smirk." Capt. Ricardo pressed the "pause" button again and muttered, "That old goat."
All of Starfreak Command had been surprised when Capt. James T. Smirk and his crew suddenly came out of retirement. Starfreak Command was even more surprised when Capt. Smirk insisted on sharing this mission with the current crew of the USS Endocrine. It was an offer Starfreak couldn't refuse, since Smirk owned a majority interest in its stock.
Ricardo sighed. Time to get down to business. He began the status check with his Bridge officers.
"Counselor Troit, have you finished testing the psychological readiness of the crew?"
"They're all eager to go, captain," she replied, then lowered her voice and added, "except for the little matter of the intense hostility, insane jealousy and deeply rooted territoriality which we all feel toward Capt. Smirk's crew, as you and I discussed yesterday."
Counselor Deanna Troit was extraordinarily sensitive to others' emotions, thanks to her Betavoid heritage. The talent had earned her the post of Ship's Shrink. It also came in handy for judging aliens the Endocrine encountered during its missions. Troit could tell whether they came in peace or had some ulterior motive, like trying to sell the crew a set of encyclopedias.
"Forget the hostility for now, counselor," the captain replied, his jaw clenched. "We're all adults here, and if a bunch of space jockeys who've spent the last 80 years lollygagging around suddenly want to take over our ship ..." — his voice had been rising; he paused and shook his head to calm himself — "I'm sure we can handle this like reasonable human beings."
Troit shrugged and turned away briskly. A moment later, her ample bosom caught up with the rest of her body and turned away also. She sat down in one of the three command chairs at the center of the Bridge.
Capt. Ricardo resumed his status check.
"Have the on-board preparations been completed, Number 1?"
Commander Wilson Piker, your basic tall, dark and handsome hunk, was standing at the rear of the Bridge. He stepped dramatically down the curved ramp to the command center and stopped in front of Capt. Ricardo. With feet planted apart, shoulders squared, head cocked to one side and hands clenched into fists, Piker announced, "Ready, sir!"
Capt. Ricardo stared at him for a long moment, contemplating the key role his First Officer played in the ship's operations. Whenever a crisis arose, Piker was always the first to step forward and strike a dramatic pose.
Ricardo was more than satisfied with Piker's on-the-job performance, but often he wished Piker wasn't quite so ... so ... generic. The quality had earned him the nickname of Number 1.
Ricardo turned to the forward section of the Bridge. Seated at a console on the right was Lieutenant Commander Dacron, an android who looked amazingly human except for one teeny detail: his skin was as white as a sheet.
"Status report, Mr. Dacron," the captain ordered.
"Ground crew reports loading is completed, sir," Dacron replied.
At a similar console to the left was the ship's pilot, Ensign Westerly Flusher. Westerly was the youngest acting ensign in Starfreak and the only starship pilot with a bedtime curfew. Westerly checked and rechecked his console, trying not to look cute.
"Engineering," said Capt. Ricardo to the intercom, "everything set for takeoff?"
"Ready to go, captain," replied Lt. Georgie LaForgery from his post in the Engine Room.
Georgie had recently been promoted to chief engineer, a highly technical position which required him to wheel his chair around so he could press buttons on several consoles. It was a big step up from his previous job of ship's pilot, for which he'd had only one console and a chair that was bolted to the floor.
Capt. Ricardo thought back to the day he and Georgie met, shortly after Starfreak had assigned him his crew. When he realized that his new pilot was blind, he nearly swallowed his teeth.
But Georgie had worked out fine. His visual prosthesis, which looked like a cross between wrap-around sunglasses and a radiator, enabled him to see through solid objects and determine their chemical composition. Thus, he was the only crew member aware of the mechanical principles used in Counselor Troit's underwire bra.
At the communication post toward the rear of the Bridge, a phone rang. Lt. Wart picked up the receiver. Across his chest was a gold sash reading "Mr. Universe, A.D. 2368." The Kringle listened to the caller, grunted, and hung up.
"Captain," he announced, "the old farts ... er, our new crewmates have boarded."
"Very well, Mr. Wart," said the captain. "Ensign Flusher, initiate launch sequence."
"Aye, sir," Westerly replied.
The precocious youngster was well prepared for this complex task. On the console in front of him was a button with a picture of a key on it. Westerly pressed it. The Endocrine's engine turned over.
"Launch sequence initiated, sir," Westerly said.
"Engage!" ordered the captain.
Westerly pressed a button showing an arrow pointing upward.
The USS Endocrine rose from the launch pad and headed into the sky.
"Set course bearing 100.7 mark 3.14. Speed: Warped 3."
"Aye, sir," Westerly replied, pressing more buttons.
In the darkness of space, the ship's thrusters glowed as the engine kicked in. The ship blasted away, leaving behind only dual streaks of light from the thrusters.
Stars dotted the vast blackness surrounding them. Planets moved by in graceful orbits. From somewhere in the depths of space came the haunting notes of a musical introduction.
"Space," intoned Capt. Ricardo. There was a long pause.
"The final frontier," Piker provided in a stage whisper.
"What?" grunted Ricardo. "What did you say, Number 1?"
"Your line, sir," Piker offered. "The line goes, 'Space, the final frontier.'"
"That's not what I was going to say," Ricardo growled.
"Oh. Sorry, sir."
"Now, where was I?" Ricardo continued. "Ah, yes. Space. We need more of it. The universe is getting more crowded by the minute."
As he spoke, the Endocrine ran into a traffic jam. It was the usual backup at the subspace on-ramp.
The Endocrine crawled along with the merging traffic: starships, satellites, a blimp, the Wicked Witch of the West riding her broom, flying superheroes, and a Snoopy balloon from Macy's Thanksgiving parade. An overhead sign read "Vehicles under Warped 5, use right lane."
As traffic began moving freely again, Capt. Ricardo continued his narrative.
"These are the voyages of the Starship Endocrine. Its mission: to cruise around the universe looking for novel predicaments to get into. To search the outskirts of the galaxy for areas with less crowding, lower tax rates and better schools. To boldly go where nobody wanted to go before!"
The Endocrine moved into the express lane ("Ships with more than 1,000 passengers only.") It took off with a roar, defying conventional wisdom that sound cannot travel through the vacuum of outer space.CHAPTER 2
Meet Your Mates
"All right!" Capt. Ricardo rubbed his hands together, trying to look enthusiastic. With the arrival of Lt. LaForgery and Dr. Cape Pragmatski, all his senior officers were on the Bridge. "We're about to meet the crew of the original Endocrine, so look sharp, everyone."
"Sir?" ventured Westerly.
"I don't get it," Westerly said. "The original crew flew their missions over 80 years ago. How can they still be alive?"
"There's been a lot of speculation about that around Starfreak Headquarters ever since they came out of retirement," Capt. Ricardo admitted. "I'm hoping Capt. Smirk will let us in on their secret of eternal youth."
"I'm interested in that myself," said Dr. Pragmatski. "I'd like to run complete medical checks on everyone in Capt. Smirk's crew."
"That won't be necessary, doctor," Capt. Ricardo said. "Capt. Smirk brought aboard his own physician, Dr. McCaw, who will conduct their physicals."
Dr. Pragmatski bristled. "His own physician? In my Sick Bay?"
"That brings up an issue you're all going to have to deal with," said Capt. Ricardo, addressing the entire crew. "There's some duplication in our combined staffs, so many of you will share your responsibilities with your counterparts on Capt. Smirk's team."
This announcement prompted some grumbling. Ricardo glanced at Troit, standing next to him. Her expression told him he was on shaky ground with the crew.
He squared his shoulders and continued in a shrill tone, "You've all taken an oath to Starfreak. Let's show some loyalty. Remember our common goal: to seek out underdeveloped real estate all over the galaxy — to boldly go where nobody wanted to go before."
The grumbling grew louder. Troit shook her head slightly. "They're not buying it," she muttered.
"All right, listen up!" Capt. Ricardo ordered. "Does the term 'hostile takeover' mean anything to you?" The room grew silent except for the snapping of Westerly's gum.
Capt. Ricardo's expression was stern. "Right now Capt. Smirk owns a controlling interest in Starfreak. If for some reason he's unhappy — if this mission isn't the fun fling he expects it to be, for example — he'll sell out.
"There's a rumor on the street that the Sinusoids would be only too happy to buy into the corporation. They've got the cash to do it, too. So unless you'd like to spend the rest of your career in a Snotcruiser, let's try to keep Smirk's people happy, all right?"
Lt. Wart, standing at his communication post, announced, "Sir, Capt. Smirk and his crew are approaching the Bridge in the Crewmover."
"All right, everyone, this is it," said Capt. Ricardo, nervously tugging at his tunic. Wart, Westerly and Dacron left their posts to join him and the others at the center of the Bridge.
The door of the Crewmover, the Endocrine's subway system, opened onto the Bridge. Capt. Smirk strode out, his crew trailing behind.
The two captains shook hands. "Welcome to the Bridge, Capt. Smirk," said Capt. Ricardo.
"Capt. Jean-Lucy Ricardo. It's a pleasure to meet you," Capt. Smirk replied. "I've heard so much about you. It's wonderful to know the Endocrine is in such capable hands." Hmmm, thought Smirk. He may be 60 years younger than me, but at least I still have my hair.
"Thank you," Capt. Ricardo acknowledged. He was surprised by Capt. Smirk's friendliness. Was this some kind of ploy?
"Allow me to introduce my crew," said Capt. Smirk, "the galaxy's original well-balanced, multiethnic, equal opportunity team." Capt. Smirk hoped they'd remember his instructions to lighten up a little. This trip could be as much fun as the old days if they'd just learn to hang loose.
"First," said Capt. Smirk, "representing the Vultures, my science officer, main man and all-around brilliant guy, Mr. Smock." Mr. Smock nodded to Capt. Ricardo without a word.
Oh well, Smock never was Mr. Charm, thought Capt. Smirk, but the rest of the crew ought to be more outgoing. As Capt. Smirk introduced the others, they each stepped forward in turn.
"Representing the British Isles, my chief engineer, Mr. Snot." Mr. Snot's kilt swayed as he managed a stiff bow.
"Representing the Far East: Mr. Zulu." Zulu's Oriental features, normally friendly and open, were a lot less scrutable at the moment, Smirk noticed.
"Representing Moscow, Stalingrad, Siberia, and lots of other drab, Godforsaken, frigid regions that no other major world power wanted: Mr. Checkout." Smirk's grin grew a little more strained as the joke fell flat.
"Representing wry, grizzled people of all nations, our medical officer, Dr. McCaw — or as he is affectionately known, 'Moans.'" Dr. McCaw scowled in their general direction.
"And finally, our two-for-one crew member, representing both Blacks and women, Lt. Yoohoo." Yoohoo gave them a polite but cool nod.
Well, that was a bust, Capt. Smirk reflected. My people aren't exactly falling all over themselves with friendliness.
Capt. Ricardo's crew formed a receiving line.
"I'd like to introduce you to my staff," Capt. Ricardo said. "Let's meet them now, up close and personal. First, my right-hand man, my First Officer, Commander ... um ... er ... sorry, but I'm so used to calling you Number 1 that I've forgotten ..."
"Piker," his First Officer provided.
"Ah, yes. Wilhelm Piker," Ricardo said, flustered.
"Wilson Piker. I'm honored to meet you, Capt. Smirk." Piker extended his hand. Capt. Ricardo relaxed a bit. Perhaps Number 1 will break the ice, he thought.
Piker continued, "It's amazing to think we're standing here with the original crew of the Endocrine. You don't look a day over 90. How do you do it?"
Capt. Smirk seemed flattered. "Well, we don't like to let too many people in on it — but since you're now our fellow crew members, I'll tell you. We discovered our secret after Mr. Smock rose from the dead."
Piker was startled. "I beg your pardon?"
"Yes," Smirk continued matter-of-factly, "he died. But you know the saying: 'You can't keep a good Vulture down.' Mr. Smock regained his health and brought us the secret of eternal life."
Everyone turned toward Smock. He pulled a small carton from the sleeve of his tunic. "Yogurt," he stated.
"Our whole crew has been eating it ever since," Smirk continued. "It has helped us maintain our vigor. That's one reason we've been looking forward to this mission. Frankly, retirement was getting boring.
"Oh, it was fine for a few years. But I've played 6 million rounds of golf; Mr. Zulu spent over 70,000 hours fishing; and Smock even had time to catch up on his back issues of Reader's Digest. We're all itching to get back to work."
"Very good," commented Capt. Ricardo. "Tell me, Mr. Smock, what is it like to come back from the dead?"
Before Smock could answer, Dacron interrupted.
"The literature on the phenomenon of near-death experience indicates that the subject passes through a long, dark tunnel," Dacron informed them. "He or she frequently meets with a Being of Light, who reviews significant episodes of their life. The physical sensation of being out of one's body also frequently accompanies the episode."
There was an awkward pause, finally broken by Smock's tactful reply. "Thank you. I couldn't have said it better myself."
Capt. Ricardo grimaced. "Well, then. This is Lt. Cmdr. Dacron, our token android."
Capt. Smirk shook Dacron's hand. As his crew members did the same, Capt. Smirk pulled Capt. Ricardo aside. "I'm afraid I'm not up on the latest android technology," Smirk whispered. "Do they all have white skin?"
"No," replied Capt. Ricardo. "We got him at a discount price. Off-brand merchandise, you know. But despite his skin color, he's fully functional."
Dacron smiled and wiggled his eyebrows as he shook hands with Lt. Yoohoo. The two captains moved down the receiving line.
"This is our chief engineer, Lt. Georgie La-Forgery," said Capt. Ricardo.
"Is that a visual prosthesis, lieutenant?" asked Capt. Smirk.
"Yes, sir," Georgie asserted, a bit defensively. "It works so well that my blindness does not handicap me in any way. Particularly when I fill in as pilot whenever necessary."
"You betcha," said Capt. Smirk, forcing a grin.
They moved farther down the receiving line.
"This is Westerly Flusher," said Capt. Ricardo, "the youngest acting ensign on a Starfreak vessel."
"Well, young lad!" Smirk exclaimed heartily. "And what are your duties aboard the Endocrine?"
"I hang around the Bridge, sir, piloting the ship and just generally trying to be helpful," Westerly said in his earnest Eddy Haskell tone.
Next in line was Wart. This is going to be touchy, thought Capt. Ricardo.
"As you know, Capt. Smirk, Kringles have been admitted to the federation," Capt. Ricardo began. "We've come a long way since the days of warfare between ..."
"Say no more," Capt. Smirk interrupted, extending his hand. "You must be Lt. Warp."
"Wart," the Kringle growled, tightening the handshake into a viselike grip.
"Pleased ... to ... meet ... you," Capt. Smirk wheezed, his face turning red. Wart released his hand, and Smirk winced.
"This is Dr. Cape Pragmatski," Capt. Ricardo continued as they moved on. "She's been our chief medical officer ever since Westerly's mother, Beverage Flusher, was kicked upstairs by the high command."
"Nice to meet you, Dr. Pragmatski." She wasn't wasting any facial muscles on excessive smiling, Smirk observed. "You and Dr. McCaw should get on famously. Might even start a group practice, eh?"
Dr. Pragmatski's face grew even stonier. "I hardly think so, Capt. Smirk," she replied.
They moved on to the last person in line.
Excerpted from Star Wreck: The Generation Gap by Leah Rewolinski, Harry Trumbore. Copyright © 1989 Leah Rewolinski. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. Take Off, Eh,
2. Meet your Mates,
3. Getting to Know You,
4. Sleeping Boobies,
5. Meet the Cellulites,
6. Mutiny at Midnight,
7. The Agony and the Ecstasy,
8. The Prodigals Return,
9. Man vs. Flab,
10. Finish with a Bang,
St. Martin's Paperbacks Titles by Leah Rewolinski,
About the Author,