I have always been a big Star Trek fan, and it is only natural that
I would eventually attempt to write a parody of the show. This tale comes hard
on the heels of Poppy Street Mangles Shakespeare, (March 12, 1983)
though I do not know what inspired it. It's the only story that features the
U.S.S. Improvise crew exclusively. They have a bit part in Casper
the Cheesecake and Snore Leave was mostly Star Drek, but featured
Poppy Street as well.
Copyright © Harold Reynolds, 1998.
Captain Grim Siberius Cork, after wandering aimlessly around the bridge of the starship Improvise upon leaving the elevator, yawned cavernously and collapsed with a squeal of badly overstressed cheap leather into his Lay-Z-Boy command chair and into a stupor, thus joining everyone else. Over at the Science console, the half-human half-Sulkin Mr Spook was indulging in one of his earthly habits, snoring. Lieutenant Yahura was transmitting vulgar anecdotes through the hyperspace channel and receiving equally sordid replies. The most animation on the bridge was at the navigation console in front of Cork's chair, where Ensign Checkout and Lieutenant Bubu were playing "Officer Invaders" which used the faces of Cork, Spook and Dr Destroy, the Medical Officer, in place of alien ships. Just as the Captain was falling asleep, with the help of his trusted Smeerian brandy six-pack, Dr Destroy staggered from the elevator all bruised and bloody. Cork, suddenly more alert, twirled his chair and smirked.
"Ho ho, Crones, one of your "patients" get loose again?"
"Oh shut up!" snarled the good doctor. "I wish you'd get rid of that turbocharger you put in the turbolift! You know how hazardous it is to us who can't hang on tight when we're tight!" He hiccuped. In the past, many complaints from anonymous sources had been received concerning Destroy's service and, as a result, Cork ordered the Sickiebay soundproofed. The doctor kicked Spook's chair with a steel-capped hobnailed boot. "Anyway, morale around here is as low as the IQ of certain people," he added, staring pointedly at the befuddled Spook. "We haven't been the cause or effect of any interstellar calamities, disasters or accidents for a whole week! The crew is bored and attendance at my little play "Little Shop of Horrors" is dying out."
"Well, don't blame me," Cork grunted, slurping some brandy and ignoring the doctor's thirsty looks. "Ever since we upset the Klaxons by ejecting trash on one of their planets and jamming their subspace transmissions with "The Fudderation Forever", the Fudderation has given us trivial, harmless tasks."
"Captain, I suggest shore leave on that funny planet where our thoughts come true," suggested Spook, getting up and deftly whiskying away a bottle. "We need some fun things to do." Just then the turbolift opened and Mr Snott, the chief Engineer, fell out, snuffling like a pig after truffles. His face lit up.
"Aha! I knew someone had some Smeerian brandy out! Gimme!" Despite Cork's efforts, Snotty pried a bottle away from him and began imbibing with gusto. Bubu suddenly made a show of something.
"Hot diggety! We just happen to be in that solar system! Let's go!" He quickly set the co-ordinates and the ship sped in.
"Don't I get a say in this?" whined Cork irritably. The others chorused "NO!" loudly. "By the way," continued the Captain, undaunted, "just what is this planet?" Checkout replied:
"It's Oink-Oink IV, which is definitely not the planet where your thoughts come true, but it's good enough." Seeing Cork's blank expression, he added: "Never mind. You'll like it. Trust me." Then Cork remembered that it was one of the neutral "fun" planets that both the Klaxons and the Bombulans used along with the Fudderation. A sly expression developed on his countenance.
"Very well, then. Full speed ahead!" he said smoothly.
"I don't know about this," said Dr Destroy dubiously, perhaps sensing what Cork was thinking.
"Worry not, dear quack," soothed Spook. "There are plenty of little creatures there suitable for experiments." Destroy perked up enough to give him a swift kick. When they got there, Cork had to go down first to "check things out". Spook and Crones insisted on accompanying him for "protection" and Bubu and Checkout got to come along as kickback for being in the right place at the right time. The lot of them materialized on a busy street and had to hastily dodge traffic, cursing Snotty and his drunkenness. After a quick look around, Cork hauled out his communicator, wound it up and flipped it on.
"Cork to Improvise, Cork to Improvise, come in up there!" In the background, Snotty could be heard howling "Bonny Sweet Baby", that is, when he wasn't drinking. "Snotty, quit drinking my brandy and get over to the console!" The engineer shuffled over.
"Aye, sorr, what's up down there?" He and the others above burst into gales of drunken laughter.
"Commence beaming everybody down for shore leave!" boomed the skipper importantly. To the others, he added indulgently, "You are free to go, now." Bubu and Checkout melted into the woodwork and the other three were just about to split up when around a corner came the female Bombulan commander who had found herself attracted to Spook in "The Improvise Incident".
"Yoohoo, Spooky!" she cried, accelerating. "It's me, your Tweetie Pie!" She jiggled up breathlessly, ample chest heaving. Cork began drooling. But Spook's Sulkin reflexes made him leap behind the Captain and the Doctor faster than the eye could follow. Cork, gibbering something about the Casbah, made a grab for her, but she would have none of him. His paunch deftly intercepted her flying fist and he doubled over with a wheeze.
"There you are!" she exclaimed at the revealed Spook. "Let's play that neat exercise game you taught me!" Spook lit off as only a Sulkin can when either his mind, his pocketbook or his body is in danger. Crones Destroy collapsed with laughter as Honeybunny pursued her hare-footed whoopee-man, and was still laughing fit to burst when Cork regained his wind. Pausing only for a kick or two, he stalked off to try and find some Klaxons to fight with. Sure enough, he collided with Commander Boor and some of his cronies while turning the corner. Boor was the Cork of the Klaxon Empire, an arch-rival who tried to outdo all of the Fudderation Captain's misdeeds and usually succeeded. Unexpectedly, he blew a bugle in Cork's face. Cork was unimpressed.
"I hate bugles!" he trumpeted windily. "I was just thinking about playing some pool when right on cue you eight-balls appeared." The other Klaxons beat a hasty retreat.
"Well, you certainly give me a sinking feeling in my pocket with chalking regularity," he punned back.
"Why are you here?" demanded Cork.
"I came for a beer," rhymed the Klaxon obnoxiously.
"If you want, I'd be glad to put you on a bier."
"That would be a grave mistake," said Boor cryptically.
"But a great undertaking," gasped Cork, fast running out of snappy answers. "That stupid Snott has been at my Smeerian brandy again and refuses to share!"
"Yes, I know. He beat up ten of my men to keep his bottles. But I still say I can drink more than you can!" Finally the challenge had come: the drinking contest which, after the ten years the men had known each other, neither had been clearly able to win. They beelined for the nearest tavern.
Dr Destroy, although slightly tipsy from his flask of medicinal moonshine brewed in his own lab, was having little trouble walking. He tried to look like an innocent country doctor ambling along the street, but his loud, acrid belches and the occasional swill from his hip flask belied the fact. A fight suddenly erupted from a tavern in front of him, so he ducked into a side alley and ran into a man with a broken arm. He also had a gun, and demanded help.
"But Ah don't have no anesthetic," he whined, burping again. The fumes knocked the man cold and he fled.
"Doctor, Doctor!" cried a familiar voice. Now too tired to run any further, the medic allowed Bubu to catch up to him. "The fuzz have nabbed Snotty and chucked him in the klink!"
"So?" yawned Crones. Bubu thought a while.
"Hey, I think we should spring him, don't you?" Crones yawned again. "We could injure someone."
"Yaawwwglaaacckk!!" garbled the other, caught in mid-yawn. "So we could, so we could," he mused, happy at the thought of gratuitous and relatively riskless violence.
"Hey, Spook, in here!" Bubu shouted suddenly as the Science Officer raced past. He turned into the alley, paused, and gave the passing Honeybunny a neck chop that she didn't notice.
"Thanks," he said, pointy ears twitching. "She almost got me that time." Just then, Cork and Checkout shambled by and Spook's long arms reached out and grabbed. They were pulled in just as a passing nader beam intended for them whizzed by and caused an innocent bystander to rupture. Cork paused to eject the pent-up liquor from his stomach into a coal chute. Once again the drinking contest had proved nothing.
"We gotta spring Snott from the slammer before anyone else does!" enthused Bubu.
"How?" demanded Yahura from behind them. Years of training on the part of the five caused them to whirl, drop to their knees and raise their hands before they realized who it was.
"Don't frighten us like that!" snapped Cork, leaping to his feet to pretend nothing had happened, only to fall over the well-placed foot of Spook. The Sulkin tried to look innocent, but his loud guffaws over the Captain's pratfall gave him away.
"Which one is he in?" he demanded after Crones, on his signal, silenced the hooting officer. Bubu pointed to one of the walls that formed the alley they were in. "So THAT'S what that noise is!" he exclaimed, realizing that the mournful wail they were hearing was Snotty doing a bad imitation of bagpipes.
"What's your plan?" asked Destroy, who was going to ignore it anyway. The others scratched themselves.
"Shut up!" explained Cork helpfully. "We'll do it off the top of my head!"
"I get the point," cackled the doc. Spook eagerly silenced him. Cork motioned for them to go ahead to the front of the building, but the others refused and pushed him ahead of them.
"Now, now," chided Checkout in his second talking role. "As you know, one of the responsibilities of being Captain is to lead attacks or other actions involving Bridge officers."
"All right, I designate you temporary Captain with powers to lead our raid on the klink," he whined fearfully.
"No way, not me! Make Bubu Captain!"
"Bugger off! Mr Spook wants it!" retorted Bubu.
"How could I in Lieutenant Yahura's presence?" Spook babbled. "Ladies first, I always say," he added gallantly.
"Only in times of personal danger!" she snapped. "Hey, Crones, how's about a change in occupation?" she wheedled.
"Not in your life!" he refused. "Well, Grim, it looks like there aren't any takers. You're still our leader."
"Aw, nerts! Where is ambition when you really need it?" he groused. With a gusty sigh, he led them to the front entrance with the others following at length. Cork pulled out his nader gun as he rounded the corner and collided with Honeybunny, who was waiting there.
"You're not Spook!" she cried, flinging him away. "Hah! There you are!" she shouted truimphantly upon spotting him.
"Egads!" sputtered the Sulkin. "Get out of my way!" he shouted, pushing through the others and running at top speed in the other direction. Not wishing to be trampled by a charging Bombulan, the other crew members turned and raced after Spook. In the rear came Captain Cork, eyes following every jiggle of her body and somehow not tripping over his tongue. Spook reached the end of the alley and burst down the rear door of the police station which, being made of two-foot thick teak, was no slight feat. In stampeded the crew of the Improvise, followed by Honeybunny and the gasping and wheezing Cork, who had never had to run so fast since Starbleat School and was quite out of shape. By the time he had barely made it to the doorway, the others were out of sight. He staggered down the vacant hall, the cacophony of his lungs matching harmoniously with Snotty's bagpipe renditions, and finally fell against a solid, but very rusty, steel door marked "Detox Centre". The ancient hinges, with far more stress on them than they could bear, gave way with a squeal of corroded metal and the door fell into the room with a loud boom. This racket coincided exactly with the end of Snotty's "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" and the rest of the drunks in the room applauded dutifully. Cork just lay there on top of the door, panting.
"Och, lads, it's Captain Cork!" said the surprised Snott. "Well, I guess it's time to go," he sighed, getting up and falling down heavily. The others, all Improvise crewmen, and Snott finally managed to stand up, but they were weaving so much that, in the recovered Captain's eyes, it appeared like they were on an old-fashioned seaship.
"Okay, men, let's get it moving!" he said loudly, causing a number of winces and groans of "Not so loud, please". He pulled out his communicator, wound it up and flipped it open. "Cork to Improvise, come in you guys."
"Hello, sir, what can I do for you?" came a chipper voice.
"Beam us up," he grunted. The people in the room shimmered and it filled with an irritating whine. There was a flash of glitter and a puff of cheap cigar smoke and they vanished. On board the ship, the skipper slouched off the transporter pad to confront the source of the chipper voice, Ensign Style. He was clean, had brushed hair, a neat uniform and, above all, was sober, a rarity. As they left the room, he made a snappy salute. Outside, the dishevelled, messy, hung-over Captain said to the equally dingy Snott: "He must be a new one. How disgusting!"
Two days later, when everybody was back on board and the Improvement Necessary (a.k.a. Improvise) was winging its way to the next unsuspecting destination, Cork, Spook, Destroy, Yahura, Snott, Bubu and Checkout were once more at their stations.
"Well, folksies," Cork was saying, did you all have fun?"
"Spook certainly did," sniggered Destroy, dodging a kick.
"By the way, Grim, just where did you go?" asked a puzzled Bubu. "You disappeared when we started running."
"Once I had finished rescuing Mr Snott, which none of you seemed interested in doing, we returned to the ship to play strip pinochle with some of the female crewpersons..." Before he could launch into a lurid description, Crones interrupted.
"Say, Spook old pal, did you ever manage to give Honeybunny the slip?" he asked, with a covert look at the elevator.
"Why certainly," bragged the Sulkin. "Captain, you should have seen that neat trick I pulled! I put on a rubber Hallowe'en mask of you and boy, you should have heard her!" He laughed heartily.
"Hi there, Spooky sweets!" came a Honeybunny-like voice as the elevator doors opened with a whoosh. There stood Nurse Chapwell, who was also in love with Spook, disguised as the Bombulan. Destroy roared with laughter, as did the others when they realized who it was. Chapwell bounced over and began blowing in his pointy ear. Spook whined irritably as he recognized her at last.
"How could you see through my clever ploy?" he mumbled.
"You're too skinny to be mistaken for Grim," smirked Checkout.
"Bah!" chorused Cork and Spook loudly, for their own reasons.
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