Jason Nesmith delivered his last line of the script, but his mind was elsewhere. It had been eight months since they returned from their voyage. Fred had asked everyone to meet him in his dressing room after the shoot had ended. The last time he did this was to announce his engagement to Laliari. There was no telling what the news could be this time.
"Laliari is pregnant" Fred opened confidently.
"Can this even be possible?" Gwen said astonished. "Don't you need the same DNA or something."
"In my species it is possible to mate with any species in the hopes of procreating. This is a way for our population to spread and insure that we never die out," Laliari explained to the crew.
"This is just wrong" Guy said in the background.
"Well," Gwen said, swallowing hard. "We will do anything to help. You need only ask."
"Well," Fred said in his usual casual-demeanor. "We have a little dilemma. See it turns out that Laliari cannot deliver our child here on earth. Our gravity is too severe and will more than likely result in Laliari's miscarrying or worse still, premature delivery. Plus there are doctors on her home planet that will be much more capable of understanding her, um, unique anatomy."
"Not to mention if we were to deliver the child here, the government would surely find out, confiscate and possibly dissect the child along with Laliari," Alexander added dryly.
"Well we're just going to have to do something about that," Nesmith added enthusiastically.
"Then what would you have us do, beam her up to her home planet?" Alexander answered sarcastically.
"No, no don't be ridiculous. Pods would be too dangerous for a Thermian with child. Come on guys, we have a shuttlecraft just sitting in a warehouse. Besides, the shooting for the season has just wrapped up so we've got two months off."
"That's exactly what I was thinking," Fred said with a grin.
"Oh great plan, Jason but are we forgetting that the ship suffered damage from our less than perfect landing into the lot at the convention? I don't suppose Fred can actually rebuild it like the character he plays on the show." Alexander said with dismissal.
"We could do it," Fred fired back. " I've been talking with Laliari about the components that we will be needing to get the ship operational and she has kept in contact with Mathesar who helped in the production of the ship."
"Be that as it may, we can't exactly get parts for this thing at the local hardware store."
"I have a cousin who's roommate's uncle works for NASA, he could probably get us some of the parts that we will need," Guy said.
"And that sounds quite reliable."
"Why haven't you ever mentioned this before?" Jason asked.
"No one ever asked," Guy replied.
"Well if Guy's connection works out, I think I know someone who might know a thing or two about the schematics of the ship and how to begin to repair it." Jason said with a grin on his face.
* * *
"Is Brandon home?" Jason asked the women on the other end of the telephone.
"Brandon you have a phone call," the woman screamed up the stairs.
"I'll be right there mom," Brandon said as he glued the last part onto his model shuttlecraft.
"Hello?" Brandon answered.
"Hi Brandon this is Jason Nesmith."
"Commander Peter Quincy Taggert"
"Oh Commander, I thought that was your voice. How can I be of assistance Commander Taggert, sir?"
"Well it looks like the crew of the Protector need your help once more."
"As is my civic duty to the cause, I will do anything. Just name it."
"I was wondering if you happen to have the schematics for the shuttlecraft we crash-landed on the surface a few months back."
"Of course I do, both in hard copy and digital file format."
"Well we were kind of hoping you might be able to help repair the damage so that we could get it back up into space."
"Are you kidding me? I would like that. No I would love that. I mean I would be very honored to help you in any way I can. Just tell me when and where."
* * *
"Okay now that we got that squared away, how much time do we have before she pops?" Jason asked while rubbing his hands together.
"A Thermians gestation period is approximately one and a half earth years, I am just now in my third month."
"Well I wouldn't call for the Thermian ambulance just yet."
"No, not exactly," Fred replied. "But we don't have all the time in the galaxy either. With my calculations we have approximately six months to fix the ship, and it takes approximately another six months to reach the Thermian's new home planet…"
"Hold up a minute there Freddy boy. It's going to take six months to reach the planet? It only took us seconds the last time," Guy stated.
"Right but that's because the command ship was within our sector the last time they beamed us on board. Traveling from one fixed point to another in the far reaches of the galaxy is an entirely different matter. Just be glad the voyage doesn't take several hundred thousand years thanks to the Thermian's knowledge of traveling through wormholes." Fred replied casually. "Now as I was saying calculate six months to arrive and that gives us another three months to engage in her pre-delivery rituals."
"Pre, delivery, um rituals?" Jason repeated.
"You'll see when we get there. Gwen, we'll be looking to you for the most support at that phase of the game."
Gwen did her best to smile.
"Consider me at your disposal. I just love babies."
* * *
Brandon showed up an hour later with rolled up maps and his mom's van filled to the top with old computer and engine parts. His "posse" rolled out of the van dressed in full Galaxy Quest uniforms.
"I am here to serve," Brandon said with his palm to his chest in official Galaxy Quest salutation.
"Oh look whom you found to save the day," Alexander said before rolling his eyes. "Lieutenant Fanboy and his loyal followers."
Jason and the rest of the exhausted crew took the opportunity to take a quick nap while Brandon and his friends argued about the best approach to fixing the damaged shuttlecraft. Apparently there was some discretion between editions of "The Official Galaxy Quest Technical Manual".
They had kept the shuttlecraft stored away in an old warehouse on the studio's lot that Jason and Gwen were able to lease now that their acting careers were resurrected in the new season of the show. The crew was quickly becoming reacquainted with the rigors of production schedules once more as they had six months to film the first season of the show, two off then four months of shooting to meet the fall schedule. The new contracts paid quite handsomely as well, a bonus only accented by the fact that they were doing okay with royalties of the original show's near continuous run in syndication.
Once months of tedious shuttle-reconstruction labor led by Brandon and his friends concluded, the cast of Galaxy Quest assembled outside the warehoused for the big unveiling.
"Before I show it too you," Brandon began timidly. "I should confess that we had to order some expensive parts off eBay to make this work."
"That's okay, that's why I gave them Alex's credit card." Jason said to Gwen in a whisper. "Now let's check this thing out already."
With that Brandon shrugged and had his cronies press the button, which activated the massive garage door to the warehouse. Within was a shuttlecraft that looked nothing like the one they had landed in. Gone was the crash damage, and in its place was a gleaming example and stunning replica of the shuttlecraft models they had each known so well from years of working on the show.
"Since we knew that you were going to be on a long journey we wanted to make sure the trip was as comfortable as possible so we used the schematics from the fourth season when Commander Taggert collaborated with the wealthy Renigi Tribe. We reconfigured the kitchen and were able to repair the food replicator but unfortunately for Dr. Lazarus, couldn't program any of the foods from his home world."
"I am devastated," Alexander muttered, "but will learn to deal".
"Well take a look inside, we did our best to accurately replicate the living quarters down to the last detail, even though I suspect you'll be spending most of your time on the bridge," Brandon said confidently.
They looked over the shuttlecraft, walked onto the bridge and had a seat in their respective leather chairs that seemed to fit their bodies perfectly. Laliari snuck off towards the back of the ship where the bathing quarters were located.
"Is there something wrong my dear?" Fred asked.
"I was just making sure the bathtub was big enough to lay in during our trip should there be any problems with the pregnancy."
"Well if we get stuck having to deliver the baby on the ship then I will need to be in a fluid filled chamber for the delivery. Did you not realize that all Thermians give birth in water?"
"No I did not, or I mean I couldn't have, well, so is this tub up to your standards? Tell us now before we leave port because I don't think there are too many Home Depots in the far reaches of space."
"It will be just perfect."
* * *
The crew had decided to go their separate ways and to celebrate their last night on earth individually. Guy and his distant acquaintance hit the bar to pick up women and to hopefully sign a few autographs if anyone recognized him. Tommy played video games until dawn in his underwear. Alex went to a Shakespearean festival at the local university and Fred and Laliari spent their night going over everything that they packed for both the trip and the pregnancy. Jason treated Gwen to an ocean-side candlelight dinner on the pier for their last date on earth for who knew how long.
"Gwen," Jason asked through a mouthful of clam chowder. "I can sense something's bothering you. Are you worried about being away from earth for more than a year?"
"No, I think it will be a nice adventure, a nice change of pace from pretending all the time. I have been feeling the urge to take a vacation, to travel somewhere together for some time now. Sure I was thinking Europe but Europa could be just as nice."
"I just like the idea of spending six months on a ship with you."
"Says the world's first most playboy. Jason I've long ago accepted the fact that you will never settle down."
"Let me tell you how wrong you are. Gwen, will you marry me?" Jason said as he went on one knee before her.
"I, I don't know what to say. Is this some kind of joke?"
"It would be if you said anything other than yes."
"Well then yes, I will marry you."
"Well then no, I wasn't kidding."
"Not so fast. I'll marry you on one condition. You have to get us back to earth alive."
"I can live with that. Maybe we can take a detour down to Vegas on reentry."
"Alright, alright. We'll do it a little classier. I'll even wear a tux."
* * *
Despite Tommy's grumbling, the crew gathered at 7 in the morning at the massive parking area behind the far lot of the studio.
Laliari walked up to the group with a wide grin on her pale face.
"I just spoke to Mathesar. He is very excited that we will be joining him soon on the Thermian's new home world, T901-17-B22-X9M. He said that much has changed since we last parted."
"Oh I suppose we could just call it T9 for short," Laliari responded, her grin never faltering.
"How much could really have changed in 14 months?" Alexander asked.
"I guess we'll just have to wait and see now won't we?" Jason replied cheerfully. "Quite frankly I can't wait to see the old bugger again. Give him a noogie on that black hair of his."
"Can I come too? All of this remodeling of the craft has me feeling like a member of the crew." Brandon interrupted.
"You need to stay here and guide us should we run into any trouble again."
"But Commander I really think that I could be of more help to you on the ship. It's been my dream to go on an uncharted adventure with you guys since third grade when I got my Galaxy Quest backpack, pencils, and folders."
"You need to stay here and complete your studies in school so you will one day be able to go into space." Gwen added in a motherly tone.
"But I already know all there is to know."
"You never stop learning," Gwen pointed out. "Jason picks up a lesson or two every day."
"That's right," Jason added. "And when it comes to women, sometimes the more you learn the less you actually know."
"Oh all right, fine then. I'll just be miserable for the rest of my life here on earth."
"One day you'll understand," Gwen added as she turned to board the craft.
They all took their respected seats on the shuttlecraft.
"Okay Tommy, take us up," Jason said in his most commander-like voice.
"Oh sure, like it's as easy as that. I don't remember Loredo having to launch a ship from earth's gravity even once in the show."
"Tommy, is it really any different then launching from dry-dock?"
"Um yeah of course it is! Ever hear of a thing called gravity?"
"Okay you two," Alexander interrupted. "Fred has mapped out several phenomenon's with Laliari that we believe to be stable worm holes. Brandon has already input this data into the ship's navigational computer for you, Loredo."
"Cool it with that Loredo crap, Dr. Lazarus. If you think you could do a better job flying this thing, be my guest."
"I would except the Thermians build the console to work only with your hand."
"I've been meaning to ask for sometime now, what happened to your original planet Laliari? It seemed so much closer," Gwen said.
"What was left of the Thermians' original planet was destroyed by Sarris' crew as revenge for the death of their captain after our last encounter," Fred explained calmly. "The Thermians went from star system to star system trying to find a planet suitable to their unique anatomy without disturbing natural habitants. That explains how they were able to chart so many stable wormholes. They finally found a planet in the Gerbash system that would be perfect for them to begin their peaceful lives over again, T901-17-B22-X9M."
"How many Thermians remain?" Gwen asked.
"There were approximately 1,000 of them left so they have been procreating quite rapidly. It is possible that Laliari's own body was influenced by instinctive drive by her race's desperation. This is another reason we need to locate this planet. The baby should be surrounded by others of its kind to grow up successfully."
"Why's that," Guy interjected. "I was an only child without many friends and it didn't hurt me any."
"What about you Fred, are you going to stay behind on the planet?" Gwen asked sincerely.
"I suspect the Thermians will need all of the engineering assistance they can get. Plus I would want to be there as a father to my child. So yes I will stay behind, at least for the first five years of the child's life. After then the child would be able to use the image generator which can change it into any form it so chooses."
"You've got this all thought out, haven't you Fred?" Gwen said astonished.
"Well, yes, I've certainly had the time."
"I think you'll make a wonderful father, better than any one of the goons sitting here," Gwen said as she looked over at Jason examining something he just picked out of his nose.
"This desert air," Jason commented, "really dries out the nasal passages."
The ship took off in an unexpected burst of speed that sucked everyone to the back of their seat.
"I think I've got it," Tommy cried out from the helm.
They breached the atmosphere and the sickening swirl of weightless was upon them.
"Didn't anyone remember to restore gravity functions to this ship?" Alexander asked no one in particular. "I can't possibly spend the next six months weightless, I will surely be sick."
"Absolutely sir. Down in engineering there is a touch-panel in the upper right hand quarter of the Environmental controls. The switch was likely just tripped due to the force of take off," Brandon said, coming out of one of the back rooms of the ship.
"Well you heard the man," Jason said to Fred. "Down to engineering…"
"I'm on my way, thanks Brandon."
"Brandon?! What in the hell are you doing here," Jason cried out in alarm. "You were ordered to stay behind on the planet."
"I was doing some last minute adjustments to the anti-drift thrusters when I heard the automated countdown sequence activate. Loredo didn't give much warning or follow standard launch protocol, which states that all gravity-based launches are to occur within four minutes of initial ignition switch activation."
"Hey I got us airborne didn't I," Tommy said.
"That's beside the point," Jason continued. "You still disobeyed a direct order from Commander Taggert."
"I'm sorry, Commander. I would never have intentionally disobeyed you. It was simply too late to try to get off the ship once the launch routine was activated so I just braced myself for liftoff in the cargo hold."
"Well I'm sorry Brandon but you leave us no choice but to turn this ship around and bring you back."
"Actually," Gwen interrupted timidly, "we don't have enough fuel to break gravity again so soon."
"Like I said," Jason continued, "it looks like you're just going to have to go on the mission with us."
"I say we lock him in the brig," Alexander added. "Do we have a brig, Brandon?"
He shook his head.
"And even if we did, I would know the door lock code sequence."
* * *
The longest part of the voyage was the trip to the first stable wormhole, which, in conjunction to the monotony of deep-space travel was coupled to the radical change in living conditions. It took just shy of a month and by that time the crew became accustomed to their new home. The feeling of claustrophobia was starting to gradually dissipate and they were really getting to know the ship both in terms of its interior and performance capabilities.
"Space is truly such a vast and empty place," Gwen said glumly on the bridge.
"Indeed and even in all of this open expanse, races have nothing more to do but bicker with one another," Alexander added, his chin resting on his closed fist.
"We will be going through the wormhole in approximately five minutes so I would advise for everyone to get into position. We don't need another incident like the last time we tried this," Tommy stated to the crew.
They had mild expectations in passing through the wormhole on their quest to make it to the Thermian's new planet but the process of traversing the rip in the fabric of space had jarred their bodies so badly that each had a sore back for a week.
"Yo Lazarus," Tommy said, "Dr. wouldn't happen to be of chiropractic perchance would it?"
"No Loredo but if you'd like I could go over there and twist that neck of yours."
As they were bracing themselves to enter the next wormhole some three weeks later, the ship started to make a loud buzzing noise.
"What is going on down in engineering?" Jason asked from the bridge.
"Nothing out of the ordinary down here," Fred replied.
"It looks like we're getting a signal," a stunned Gwen said from her console.
"Well let's hear it," Jason said. "Maybe Mathesar tracked us down already."
"No, I don't think so," Gwen replied. "If I'm reading this right, it appears to be some kind of distress code. Computer, please decode and play the transmission."
On the screen in the center of the bridge, the image of a figure unlike any they had seen before appeared. It had a very tall pencil-like head with a single giant horn curving upward from out of its forehead. Sitting next to this being was another similar figure with slightly greener skin.
"We are in need of help! We have traveled too far from our home asteroid and have become hopelessly lost due to a wormhole. We are nearly out of fuel and supplies. If any one should receive this message, here are our coordinates. Time is running out."
"We better go help them," Jason exclaimed.
"Help them to do what exactly," Alexander interjected. "We don't know if they're actually some hostile race with innocent faces. Need I remind you of the cute little guys on the last planet we visited who tried to feed you to the rock-monster?"
"No, I still see that thing every time I close my eyes. But come on guys, we can't just leave them out here to starve."
"And what are the chances they use the same fuel-type as we do? The Thermians based this design on the stuff we made up in the show," Tommy added.
"Actually sir, considering the abundance of Beryllium in the area scans I've conducted, there is a good chance that they too have harvested its energy as a fuel source," Brandon countered.
"Took surrounding area scans, how prêt ell did you manage that?"
"Simple, when I updated the ship I installed external scanners on the fuselage designed to analyze surrounding mineral deposits and atmospheric conditions of nearby celestial bodies. Just like the ones you use all the time in the show."
"Then it's final we will go and help them. Tommy lock coordinates to their ship," Jason ordered.
"Ummm, and how exactly am I supposed to do that? I don't know how to override the coordinates set by Fred and Laliari?"
"Loredo, what's wrong with you? This interface is nearly identical to the one on The Protector, which by the way I'm wondering why we didn't take in the first place," Brandon said.
"Brandon, that ship is not real," Alexander said coolly. "You do know that right?"
"Oh yeah, sure," Brandon replied. "Only the ship's shuttlecraft and alien life forms are."
"No, I mean the ship is real, just not the version on earth."
"Sure Dr. Lazarus and the next thing you're going to tell me is that Loredo isn't actually qualified to fly this thing. Anyway right here are your manual flight controls and under the digital map display is the cursor to input new coordinates. The ship automatically assumes the most recent entry."
"I have the new coordinates right here Tommy," Gwen said.
"Gwen, you can send them over using the ship's internal frequency," Brandon added.
"Just hold down the fifth function tab and submit them."
"There you go Loredo."
"Really, that's all there was to it?" Tommy asked, folding his hands behind his head.
"That's it," Brandon replied.
"Alright can we just get going already? I'm beginning to fall asleep," Jason said.
* * *
They were within docking proximity within 48 hours.
"Alright Tommy it's your time to shine. Link us up to their ship," Nesmith said.
"I'll do my best Jason but between you me and the asteroid belt, maybe we should get Brandon up here to make sure I don't mess this up."
They linked up to the derelict ship with no real drama thanks to the computer's navigational system. Once Brandon confirmed the air and temperature of the vessel able to support human life, they released the airlock, which sent the quadruple sets of doors sliding open with a hiss. Standing on the opposite side of the hub were four humanoid beings with not a stitch of fabric covering their pencil-thin bodies save for a scarf tied tightly to each of their tall heads.
"I am commander Peter Quincy Taggert of the USS Protector here to help in any way I can," Nesmith boomed triumphantly.
"Jason, I thought we had decided to use our real names," Gwen whispered from his right.
"Come on Gwen, these names sound just so much cooler!"
Tommy rolled his eyes.
The beings looked through Jason and his companions as if they weren't even there. Their beady eyes found and locked onto Alexander then they all bowed down to their knees with their thin hands moving in circular motions.
"What is going on here?" Alex asked in surprise.
"It is him," one said to another. "It is the Meaninol."
"I think you may be mistaken," Alexander said in surprise. "I am merely Alexander Dane."
"Doctor Lazarus," Jason corrected.
"No," one of the beings said without lifting its head. "You are the Meaninol, the chosen one of our people's prophecy. The one who will restore peace to our species."
"I'm afraid I am not who you think I am."
"We will show you from our ancient texts. You are indeed the one foretold. Go now, get the book, hurry."
One of the bowing creatures hastily ran deeper into the ship to retrieve the item in question.
"Oh please forgive my rudeness, I have failed to properly make greeting. I am called Gargalack of Ieth and this beside me is my first in command and life-mate Sarleen. The one that went to get the text is Doosyck, and this here is his life-partner Shamine."
"Well like I mentioned before, I am commander Peter Q Taggert and this here is my life-mate to be, Tawny Madison."
Once again the beings ignored Jason as if he weren't in the room.
"Oh all right I'll play along," Alaxander said in defeat. "I am the Meaninol, Dr. Lazarus and this is my infidel crew."
"We are so very pleased to meet you all. I will have Sarleen show you to your quarters and then we could perhaps all meet on your ship for a large feast?"
"Umm, yeah, we are kind of in a hurry to repair your ship and then be on our way," Jason replied. "We are actually on a very urgent mission."
"Oh come on we can at least take a look around while Fred and Brandon refuel their ship. It'll be fun."
"I'm with hurrying up," Gwen whispered into Jason's ear.
"I get the distinct feeling Alexander just loves the attention these fools are paying him," Tommy added.
"Well I suppose a good part of the reason we took this trip in the first place was to have a little adventure," Jason said. "If Alexander's ego gets stroked in the process, it could very well make the remainder of this trip that much more tolerable. Show us to our quarters."
"Dr. Lazarus if you'll please follow me to the shrine area, the rest of you can follow Sarleen."
Alexander and Gargalack walked for what seemed miles until they finally reached a set of doors at the end of a deserted hallway.
"This will be your quarters your eminence."
"You really shouldn't have," Alex said as they walked through the doors. The room was decorated of pure gold with giant statues of beings that looked, well a lot like the Dr. Lazarus makeup of the show. Between the gold statutes was a hammock of fine silk and a backlit waterfall that led to a crystal-clear pond that held some kind of light pink fish.
"I will leave you now. Dinner will be in two stallops and nine hundred pestelons."
"I will send someone to get you when it's time. In the meantime you will find the softest ceremonial robes in the closet and if you need anything, only say the word."
"Thank you," Alexander said with a grin. "You are too kind."
The other members were deposited to their room. It was a sort of wide-open gymnasium with mats scattered about on the stone-hard floor.
"You really shouldn't have," Jason muttered.
"No, we really shouldn't have," Tommy corrected.
"This is great," Guy said enthusiastically. "Just like the park I used to sleep in as a kid when my parents wanted some alone time!"
Fred, Laliari and Brandon were shown to the engine room.
"I can't believe you got us in to this mess," Gwen scowled. "How did I know this would be like an old family trip growing up?"
"Oh relax, will you? We fix their ship, they kiss Alexander's butt, and we leave looking like heroes."
"Jason, if I have to attempt to deliver that baby on my own I will kill you with my own two hands, as soon as I set down the baby of course."
"Gwen, she's not going to have that baby any time soon. You worry too much."
"Please that's enough confrontational dialog," a voice said from behind them. They all spun. "Any more such behavior and we will be forced to stun you with our prods."
It was the timid voice of Sarleen.
"Prods," Guy repeated. "As Chief of Ship Security, Roc Ingersol, I'm afraid I can't let you do that."
"Quiet Guy, you know you don't actually have any weapons," Jason whispered with a nudge.
"I know," Guy mumbled in return, "but didn't you just tell us to stay in character?"
Nesmith ignored Guy's rebuttal and looked towards Sarleen. In his most sincere tone of voice, he said, "Did I mention how wonderful you look tonight? We are very sorry about all of the commotion our arrival has caused and we're just so pleased to be on your ship. Do you, by any chance know where Dr. Lazarus is being kept and would it be possible for us to speak with him?"
"The Meaninol is getting prepared for the feast in his honor. No one is to disturb him before that time. I am to supervise your preparation of the meal."
"Okay," Nesmith said with sudden enthusiasm. "Right, you're going to supervise as we prepare the feast. If we can just return to our ship we could get right to work on that."
"You are free to return to your ship but the Meaninol is to remain with us."
"But you will bring him onboard to, um celebrate the feast?"
"Well," Nesmith said, rubbing his palms together. "We better get cracking. We've got a lot of hungry mouths to feed and I don't suppose you all like steak?"
"Steak?" Sarleen repeated.
"Aren't the translators working?" he asked Gwen.
"Yes but they simply don't have a word that translates directly," she replied.
"Oh right, probably nothing for cow either. Well we'll come up with something good. Only the best for the Meaninol."
The crew returned to their ship with the exception of Alex.
"How are we going to get out of this one?" Gwen asked as soon as they were alone again.
"I have to think of something, let's just get their darn ship fixed and put as much distant between us and them as the warp drives can manage," Jason replied. "Now where are Brandon and Fred?"
"We're right here, commander," Brandon called. "We were able to shave off a section of Beryllium from our own sphere that should be charged enough to get them home anyway. We should be able to wrap this thing up by tonight if not tomorrow morning at the latest."
"Let's make it snappy this place gives me the creeps," Guy added while exaggerating the chills. "And Brandon did you by any chance think to make me a weapon like I have on the show?"
"Quit fooling around, Guy. You know enough to always keep your arsenal on you ever since episode 19 on the Dark Star," Brandon said, chuckling as he walked away.
"I guess that means he didn't make me anything."
"And that's a good thing too," Tommy added. "If he did you would have shot one of us by now if not yourself."
"Oh look who's talking, Mr. I don't know how to drive the ship without help from a committee."
"That's real original coming from the weaponless Security Chief."
"That's enough out of both of you!" Gwen shouted over the bickering. "We need to think a way out of this mess and arguing isn't helping anything."
"I've got it, why don't one of us pull off Alex' head piece at dinner? That ought to convince them he's not who they think he is," Jason stated excitedly.
"That's brilliant," Gwen replied. "Come to think of it, why does he still have that thing on anyway?"
Nesmith made sure Brandon wasn't within earshot.
"He wanted to wear it to the launch so that Brandon wouldn't be devastated."
"It's settled then," Guy added with a grin. "Tonight after dinner we get out of here."
* * *
The crew had just finished up putting the last of the still-crawling dinner on the banquet table in the kitchen when 3 loud chimes of a bell rang out. The crew looked up in amazement as a precession entered the room with Alexander, draped in red velvet from head to toe, being carried by four of the beings.
"Something wrong with your legs Dr. Lazarus?" Nesmith asked.
"You may all be seated," Alex announced in his most prestigious tone. "The Meaninol grants good approval and good fortune to all gathered."
"Well I guess that means it's chow time," Tommy said.
"Until the meal is officially adjourned, we ask that all remain seated," Gargalack stated before taking his own seat next to Alexander. "We wish not to have to prod you on your own vessel but will do so if necessary."
Jason sat down and whispered to Gwen sitting next to him, "Well, it looks like someone else is going to have to attempt to remove the head piece, I can't reach from my seat and I don't feel much like getting prodded."
"Alight I'll do it, just wait until they calm down a bit."
While they ate, Alexander told tales of his heroism and bravery much to the delight to their guests.
In the middle of Alex's telling of how he single-handedly defeated Sarris, Gwen reached across the table to yank on the stupid headpiece as hard as she could. To everyone's amazement it didn't budge.
"What the hell is wrong with this thing?"
Gasps of shock filled the table.
"An assassination attempt on the Meaninol," someone shouted.
"Will you cut that out," Alaxander said, trying to remove Gwen's hand. "It seems to have fused to my head somehow. I think because I didn't have time to apply the powder."
Just then there was a flash of orange light and Gwen fell to the ground in convulsions.
"If anyone else attempts to harm the Meaninol, they will suffer the same fate as this one," Gargalack stated as the group of aliens surrounded Alex in defense.
Just then Brandon, Fred and Laliari entered from the other ship.
"Good news everyone, with a little ingenuity we were able to get the Beryllium slice to work as fuel…"
Before Brandon could finish his sentence, the Iathenans knocked out of the way with Alex atop their shoulders once more.
"Quick go after them," Guy shouted.
"No we better get to the bridge they just broke dock."
"Come on Loredo follow that ship!"
"Do we have to, I mean think about how nice it would be without Alexander the rest of the trip."
"Tommy," Jason shouted. "Now!"
The ship jerked back and Loredo spun it into a few dizzying circles before heading off in the direction of the runaway ship.
"Can't we go any faster, Sgt. Chen we need more power if we're going to catch them," Jason yelled from the Commander's seat.
"This isn't necessary," Fred stated from down in engineering.
"What's that supposed to mean don't you want to save Alexander either?"
"Of course I do, but if they would have let Brandon finish his sentence, they would have realized that the Beryllium slice needs to charge up for a full fifteen hours to be fully operational. At the rate of speed they're traveling, they'll be fully out steam shortly."
"But in the vastness of space, they could go anywhere in a minute's time."
"Oh yeah that's another thing I forgot to tell you," Brandon added. "Just like in episode 528 when Tawny was captured on the alien ship. I left a pulse tracker on their ship just like the Commander did to save Tawny."
"Good thinking Brandon," Nesmith said.
"No, good thinking Commander, it was your plan, I just copied it. Loredo just has to hit the teal button on his console to track the ship."
"Hey Gwen," Tommy said after hitting the teal button. "Go ahead and tell that computer of ours to follow the blinking light."
"Gwen any time soon would be great," Jason added, as he turned toward her post. "Does anyone know where Gwen is? Her only role on this ship is to tell the computer what to do and she's missing."
"Commander Tawny is still a bit stunned from the prodder at dinner. I am with her now and she'll be back to herself in no time," Laliari said from sickbay.
"Well what are we supposed to do until she wakes up?" Tommy asked in sudden alarm.
"Well Tommy looks like it's time to return to Loredo mode. You're going to have to fly freehand," Nesmith stated.
"I was afraid you were going to say that. Hey Brandon can you tell the computer to follow the blinking light?" Tommy asked.
"Loredo you know the computer only responds to Tawny's voice besides, what are you so worried about? You've been flying freehanded since episode 2."
"I know I'm just feeling a little under the weather plus I got the shakes. I think it may be from that Iethian Buffet. But here goes."
Tommy took the manual control stick into his sweaty hands and began to reflect upon his Boy Scout years. Once the members of his troop were deposited in the middle of the woods with just a compass to guide them home. He was the last one to make it, but he did manage to get there. This was kind of like following a compass only rather than a needle pointing north, he had to keep sight of the flashing light on his monitor. So long as he didn't have to navigate an asteroid belt or a minefield, this wouldn't be so bad.
"Hey guys, there's something big blocking are way," Tommy shouted.
"I don't see anything onscreen, "Jason replied. "You must just have a little space dust on your monitor."
"It doesn't look like any space dust I've ever seen, Commander. It looks more like a blob with the flashing dot approaching it."
"I've never been very good at video games, Tommy. Keep going in this direction until we get something onscreen."
If you say so but don't be mad at me if we hit the blob."
Nesmith squinted at the twinkling star field before him.
"Oh wait a minute, I think there is something out there in our path."
"See, it's the blob, I told you so, but did you listen?"
"Yeah a blob with words written on it."
Coming into clear view on the forward view screen were a mass of fragmented old spacecraft floating aimlessly in the vacuum of space. The chunks of metal and hull rotated in a tight cluster, some colliding off one another.
"Must be some kind of cosmic scrap heap. Do you think we can go around?"
"I'm trying, Commander but this ship isn't as responsive as you may think. Besides I don't know how deep this scrap yard goes."
"Better put the shields up, this doesn't look good."
"Yeah and how do I do that again exactly? I thought that was Gwen's specialty."
"Right," Nesmith said in agreement. "Which really makes you wonder exactly what Dr. Lazarus does on this ship."
"Damn, it's stupid to rely on one person so much," Guy said from his station. "Hey genius can't you bypass the controls on the computer like we did in episode sixteen?"
"Yes of course," Brandon interjected. "You can manually raise the shields like the Commander did it in episode sixteen when Lieutenant Madison had that alien spell on her and couldn't talk."
"Oh yeah," Tommy said with enthusiasm. "I remember that! Do you remember how you did that by any chance Commander?"
"Hmm, no I'm drawing a blank here Tommy."
"You put in your secret code that only you know," Brandon said with a sigh. "I'm beginning to wonder if you guys even keep current on all of the season one episode synopsis sheets."
"Ah, very good," Nesmith said smiling. "I was just testing you and well, you passed."
With the realization that the secret code was merely his pushing any buttons at random for the camera, Jason felt a drip of sweat run down his brow.
"Computer, shields up," an out of breath Gwen called out from her station.
The sizzle and iridescent glow of the force field flashed before the view screen. Nesmith and Tommy let out a sigh of relief in unison.
"Well it's about time you woke up from your nap," Jason said with as much cockiness as he could manage.
"Well I had to. Watching you guys run the ship was a lot more stressful than any prod."
"Hey," Tommy interrupted. "The blinking light stopped moving away from us. I guess that means they stopped moving?"
"Have they entered the scrap heap yet?" Jason asked.
"No, they're just outside."
"How far ahead of us?"
"From our dot to their dot on this tracker thingy I would say about half an inch away."
"Does that put us in range to use the transporter?"
Everyone looked directly as Jason in surprise.
"What's the big deal, I went through it once and it wasn't so bad."
"Yeah but did you see what happened to the pig lizard before you?" Gwen said, fighting the chills.
"Fred, are we close enough to bring Alex back or not? I would really hate to have to board that ship again to go and get him."
"I can get a lock on him," Fred said confidently. "At least I hope that's him," he then whispered to himself.
"Then yank him back on my command. I think it's a safe bet he's had enough admiration to last a lifetime," Jason stated. "In return can we transport a message back to them explaining their fuel situation so that they don't give up the search for their meatball?"
"That's Meaninol," Gwen corrected.
"Yeah that's what I said. Gwen type up the message and relay it over to Fred's console. Fred whenever you're ready."
"Alright here goes nothing," Fred said with his fingers crossed. "So we're in agreement, having Alexander return inside out is a definite no-no right?"
"Right," the crew said in unison.
"Alright, energizing now…"
In front of all of their eyes materialized Alex with his hands up in the air still dressed up in the velvet robes.
"I can't believe you would use that thing on me," Alex said in a blend of astonishment and insult. "What if I had come back inside out?"
"We were willing to take the chance," Jason said reassuringly.
"Well let me just tell you that our new friends are not too happy! I think the Protector ended up making enemies rather than allies. They were telling me that if I were their real Meaninol, I would have no trouble getting their disabled ship to move again. Of course I couldn't do it."
The crew looked on at him suspiciously.
"So how were you able to sabotage their ship in such short time?"
"Don't worry their ship will be active again as soon as the sphere has an opportunity to charge up."
"How much time?" Alex asked a little concerned.
"Enough time to get far away from them," Fred replied from engineering. "Unless of course you were planning on staying a little longer."
"Thank you, no. Let's put as much distance in the opposite direction as possible," Alex replied.
"What's the rush, Dr. Lazarus? I thought you liked being their meteorite," Jason asked with a smirk.
"I'm simply worried about getting Laliari home first and foremost and for another, I feel like this crew benefits from my presence even more than they would."
"Well I guess I do like having you around to make fun of," Jason said. "Tommy take us to that planet with all the letters and numbers."
"Umm Jason we have a little bit of a problem," Tommy fired back.
"What do I have to fix now?"
"The coordinates for the planet have sort of disappeared and I don't have a clue where to go next."
"What do you mean disappeared?"
"I mean like a magic act. Poof, coordinates go bye-bye,"
"Well then get back on your little key pad thingy there and put them back into the nav computer!"
"I tried, Nesmith. When I type in the planet coordinates, it says that there's an error."
"Gwen," Nesmith said with a sigh, "you want to tell the computer that we need to leave now?"
"Computer, set coordinates to T901…What's the name of the planet again?"
"We're all going to die," Alexander moaned in the background. "We're going to get recaptured by the Iethians, and I will be their love slave forever."
"Love slave?" Guy repeated, suddenly alert.
"Oh I didn't tell you the best part, the majority of the women of the species have been saving themselves for me and should I give them any offspring, they become next in command of the species."
"That doesn't sound so bad. With some makeup, a few beers and bad lighting, a few of those chicks were kind of hot," Guy said.
"Yeah well they wouldn't have been all too thrilled when they discovered that the offspring wouldn't have a purple scaly skull and all. Did I mention we're all doomed?"
"And I thought you were the logical one," Jason mumbled.
"They call me Dr. Think of Something on some of the Internet fan boards."
"Well if you don't think of something and quick we'll have to change that to Dr. Good For Nothing."
"Well let's regroup here," Gwen said in a tone indicating that she was ready to take command of the bickering crew. Does anyone else on this bridge know the name of the planet or its proximity in the galaxy?"
"Why don't we ask Laliari?" Fred said via the monitor from engineering. "It is her planet after all."
"Laliari what's the name of the planet we're heading to?"
"It's a very simple name: T901-17-B22-X9M."
"I hope somebody wrote that down," Loredo said.
"Computer set coordinates to T901-17-B22-X9M," Gwen called out.
"Coordinates locked this time," Loredo confirmed. "I know what you're all thinking and no I didn't delete them the last time."
They continued onward through the void, leaving the Iethians far behind. The crew was relieved to finally approach their destination. Laliari had been doing a lot of pacing while Fred was becoming nervous that they weren't going to make it by her due date with Alexander's ego-stroking detours and all.
"Hey Nesmith, no more stops okay? We need to hightail it if we're going to arrive before Laliari pops. She is going to begin the birthing rituals now."
"Don't worry," Nesmith replied over the ship's communicator. "We'll get there in plenty of time. According to Loredo over here, we are close- maybe just a day or two away. Do you want me to send Gwen down to talk with Laliari? Maybe she could help with some of those rituals and the girl stuff and all?"
"That would be great if it's alright with Gwen of course."
Gwen took a hard swallow.
"Oh sure I would love to, because I have so much experience with pregnant aliens and all."
"Oh thank you so much she is in our quarters."
"Laliari are you in here" Gwen asked to the sound of grunting and moaning outside the door. "I just wanted to come down and see how everything was going."
"Oh yes I am here, but you didn't come down of your own accord. My dear Fred is worried, is he not?"
"No, no I did want to come see you. He just said what we were all thinking. It's only natural for him to be a little nervous about you and the baby, this is his first time you know."
"I know, I just wish we were at our destination already, my birthing teachers would be much better equipped to demonstrate the birthing rituals to me. No offence to you or anything, you have been great, all of you have. But I fear my anatomy is um, quite unique compared to yours."
"Well I am willing to learn if you need me too, remember that. According to the Commander, we should make it in plenty of time."
"I can see the planet now on the view screen," Tommy announced excitedly at that very moment. "See I told you that we had nothing to worry about and I would get us here in one piece and in record time."
"Don't gloat just yet, Loredo. We do need to make it down to that planet without burning up in the atmosphere," Jason lectured.
"Oh yeah I knew that, piece of cake. I mean it shouldn't be bad. All I'm saying is that I'm pretty sure I can handle it. Does anyone know how I do that exactly?"
"Oh Loredo you are always testing my memory," Brandon answered with a grin. " Let us not forget episode 18 when you landed on the gas giant Oraba 117 for the first time and you programmed the nav system to adjust for approach angle and speed according to atmospheric density."
"Very good Brandon," Tommy said with a nervous laugh. "I was just testing you there buddy because if anything were to happen to me, I would feel better knowing someone else on this ship could handle things."
"Loredo, I was born to pilot a ship like this."
"That's what I tell people too, but you really mean it. So where do I land this heap anyway? The whole planet looks blue."
"This planet is 99% water of course," Fred added calmly.
"99% water?!" Guy interjected. "Does this mean I should have brought along my medication for seasickness?"
"My people spend most of their lives in the aquatic environment," Laliari added. "It should explain our natural appearance."
"Of course we knew that," Loredo said with newfound confidence. "Besides, 99% water means a lot less chance of me crashing into a mountain."
"The man brings up a good point," Nesmith said. "Now take us down Mr. Loredo."
"Nav computer, don't fail me now," Tommy muttered under his breath.
As Brandon had predicted, the system was virtually automated and required only slight input from the control stick to keep the nose of the ship skyward during splashdown. They landed in the middle of the vast ocean and signaled for Mathesar and the Thermanians to greet them.
"I just realized that the salt water may do me some good in getting this rubber thing off my head," Alexander said while gazing out the front view port. "This is salt water right Laliari?"
"Sort of," she replied.
"I would have thought that should have been a yes or no question," Guy said.
"There is salt present but not sodium chloride as is found in earth's oceans. This is sodium trymetholine crystallite with trace elements of dried Piperaceae nigrum fragments that are carried on the wind."
"So you're saying this is a salt and pepper ocean?" Brandon said after a quick moment of thought.
"Anybody remember to bring popcorn?" Guy asked.
"They've arrived," Gwen announced. "It's time to meet and greet our old friends."
"Good," Nesmith said, getting to his feet. "I owe that Mathesar a wet-willie behind his right ear."
* * *
The Planet was, for the most part, just as Laliari had earlier explained: almost entirely water and two small islands covered in thick vegetation. The water smelled like soup broth and had the entire crew's stomachs growling. Their establishment was bridged between the two islands with the main structure located under water (but could be reached from either land mass).
"Wow it is pretty amazing you were able to accomplish all this in such little time," Nesmith commented with his hands on his hips. "It's a beauty Mathesar you old pirate."
"We had to work fast in our resolve to increase our population. It was priority one. We needed to have a habitable nursery for all the offspring to be born. I think that could be why we're in this little predicament."
"Predicament, what exactly is this predicament we're talking about?"
"Don't worry I will explain everything once you get settled in. It must have been a long flight."
"Just let me know if Laliari is going to be alright so I can relax," Fred said.
"Oh yes she looks very healthy and she is in good hands you have nothing to worry about."
"Well I'm satisfied," Fred replied. "You guys wouldn't happen to have any mashed potatoes would you?"
They all met up in the cafeteria for a well-needed meal and to discuss what had Mathesar so worked up.
"Alright Mathesar spill the beans what do we need to fix now?" Nesmith asked after a long, deep burp.
"Who are you? I don't believe we have ever met before. Plus I don't remember seeing you in any of the historic documents…"
"I am Brandon, I am one of the guys behind the guys, a man behind the scenes, a consultant to the show. I decided to take this trip so I could meet the people the crew always talk of so highly."
"Stop trying to change the subject Mathesar," Nesmith interrupted. "We can all exchange autographs later. Now what's going on buddy?"
"Alright here is the problem, we searched from galaxy to galaxy trying to find an habitable, suitable planet for my people. As we were stuck in the small ship for so long we decided that we would procreate and increase the population of our people so when we settled on our new land we would be a striving young community."
"Okay so you guys kept yourselves busy, what is the problem there?"
"Well after months and months of searching we were unable to find a new planet that was suitable for all our needs. So when we came across this planet we were overjoyed at how perfect it was. With many of the females with child we knew we didn't have much time to waste trying to get everything ready."
"So far so good."
"Well in our rush to get everything ready, we didn't really explore the planet as much as we should have. Therefore just as we were putting the last touches on our establishment, we were a little surprised to find something swimming within the waters of the nursery section of the institution. The nursery has to be free from any contaminants only mother and baby could be in that section, we were very careful not to let anything in when we were completing that section. Now we need it removed and we can no longer find it, if it arrives during the births all the children will not be able to use the image generator."
"Well it's not the end of the world, having to stay in your own true form for the rest of your life is it?"
"Well for one, in our own form we will have to stay in the water 75% of the time or risk drying out."
"Please tell me that is not the reason you bought that big hot tub Fred," Guy said. "I was in there once and would hate to think I was soaking in a delivery chamber."
"This is not a joking matter, the new offspring will be unable to travel the universe and meet other races without image generation."
"Okay I see that you are upset we will do our best to help you with this situation. Do you know if there are any other beings native to this water world?"
"We are not positive other Thermians are reporting sightings, but none other were found in the sacred nursery waters."
"Alright this shouldn't be too hard. Where is this nursery you are talking about? I'll go in vanquish this ghost and then you can get back to procreating."
"Oh you can't go in without passing going through the cleansing ritual or you too will contaminate the nursery."
"This cleansing ritual isn't like what you have to do before you see a proctologist is it?" Guy asked.
"He's kidding," Gwen said with a smirk. "Besides I'm not sure they have enemas in mind for us."
"The adventure really never stops for you guys," Brandon added. "This is going to be fantastic! Kind of like episode 52 when you had to search out that race and destroy it before it could replicate each one of you. Man that episode had me on the edge of my seat the entire hour."
"Well can we at least eat, get some sleep and deal with this thing in the morning? The trip took a bit out of me and in a few days we have to do it all over again so while I'm here on the biggest beach in the galaxy, I was kind of hoping for a little R and R," Jason said.
"Oh of course rest and we will get to it first thing in the morning, that seems to be when the being is usually out anyway."
* * *
"What the hell time is it with all this racket?"
"It is 4:30am, earth time."
"Why are you waking me up then?"
"You said to wake you in the morning. It is morning and we have much work to do."
"Mathesar, this is still technically the middle of the night on our world."
"Come on, Commander since when is it like you to turn down an adventure?" Brandon pointed out blankly. "Besides I haven't been able to sleep a wink just thinking about this situation."
"Nor have I," Mathesar added.
"Alright lets go," Nesmith said with a sigh of defeat. "I hope you woke everybody else up. It wouldn't be fair if they get to sleep in."
"They are all waiting in the cafeteria, having breakfast. You are the last to wake up."
"Alright, now I feel better."
"Attention loyal crew," he announced when entering the cafeteria. "We have some more alien butt to take care of then we will be able to get some well needed rest."
"You seem awfully chipper this early in the morning," Gwen noted.
"Well actually…owww!" Brandon began to say before Jason hit him in the leg.
"So exactly what does this being look like?"
"Well they shimmer, almost like a fish scale in the water, that's about all I know. Remember I have not seen this creature myself."
"Oh that narrows it down, lets get this cleansing over with so we can try to find a shimmering fish scale."
"Just step into the cleansing room."
They all entered a room full of steam. Once the air began to clear, they were horrified to discover figures standing in all four corners of the room spitting at them.
"Oh this is just disgusting. It reminds me of middle school when the kids used to shoot spitballs at my head," Guy commented.
"This is the first time I know what you're talking about Security Chief Roc," Brandon stated.
"How long do we have to be in here?" Gwen asked.
"It's almost over. You just have to walk though the Flames of Forgiveness and you may leave."
"Oh this looks real safe," Tommy added. "Black people hair and flames don't go good together, ain't these fools ever seen what happened to Michael Jackson in that Pepsi commercial?"
Guy and Brandon were the last ones to leave the chamber.
"I don't feel very cleansed. In fact can I feel like I need a shower to be cleansed of the cleaning."
"No, water would nullify the cleansing agents. You must not try to wash anything off your body or you will have to be cleansed again."
"Alright, now what's the next step of the plan?"
"After a brief drying under the Flames of Forgiveness, you are free to enter the nursery."
"Don't worry," Guy called back from the outside of the Flame Center, "it's just like walking under a giant hand-drier in a public restroom."
"Now we go to the nursery."
"Lead the way, Mathesar."
They entered through a door into an elevator like room.
"This will take us under the surface to the nursery. Place these in your mouth, they will help you breath under the water."
"Do we really have to go underwater? Can't I just observe from out here, tell you if I see anything shimmering and point you guys in the direction you need to go?" Guy asked with typical insecurity.
"No we all go together. No surrender, no retreat."
"That's the Commander I know and love," Brandon added.
"Well see I was never all that comfortable being somewhere I could potentially suffocate," Guy continued.
"We have the breather thingies."
"Let me rephrase, I'm claustrophobic and I can't swim, please don't make me go in that underwater death chamber."
"Fine stay here and keep an eye out if you happen to see anything."
"Thank you, Commander. I didn't say it earlier but Fred had to pay me fifty bucks just to get into the hot tub."
"Back on earth I would have paid fifty dollars to keep him away from mine," Alexander muttered.
With the exception of a brimming Guy, they all entered the chamber and the airlock sealed behind them. The chamber filled with water and the opposite door released so that they could enter into the massive nursery.
"Man this place is mammoth!"
"We had to make it this large due to all the expecting females. We have hundreds and each can give birth to hundreds. The math gets ugly quick!" Mathesar replied in his natural squid-like form.
Well lets split up and try to find this mysterious creature. From the looks of the females on this base we don't have much time before they pop."
They proceeded to search in every room in the massive nursery. As Jason was about to rendezvous with the others, he was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling to look into one of the egg incubator clusters on the walls and there she was before him, a shimmering ghost like creature who began to let out the loudest ear piercing cry they had ever heard.
"Come quick before I lose my hearing!"
They regrouped within seconds to find Nesmith doubled over in pain.
"Here try this," Mathesar said as he handed Jason a little device.
"What am I supposed to do with this?" Jason yelled.
"Put it in your ear," Mathesar replied as he pointed to his own ear. "It is a Universal Translator but it should muffle the sound waves if nothing else."
Jason placed the device in his ear and instantly the screeching became a soft whisper that formed words.
"Are you trying to communicate with me?" Jason asked the ghost like creature. "I can, I can understand her."
"Strange that I cannot," Mathesar said.
"Help me," the creature replied. "Please, I am trapped."
"I can understand the creature," Nesmith again shouted excitedly to the crew.
"Yeah we gathered that, what is it saying?" Gwen asked.
"It needs our help," Jason yelled back.
"What kind of help?"
"I'm not sure."
"Well why don't you find out instead of yelling at me."
"I'm not yelling," Jason shouted. "So what can I help you with?"
"I am trapped. I need help getting out of this place."
"Well that's easy, just follow us and we will get you out of here."
"It's not that easy our bodies can not be out of water at any time, if we leave the water we will swell then burst from the inside out."
"Oh, that doesn't sound pretty. How did you get here in the first place?"
"I was sleeping in this container and when I awoke, this structure had closed around me."
"Is there any one else here?"
"No, I am alone."
"Well maybe we could just break a hole in the wall. You could swim out into open water and Mathesar and his cronies could patch it back up."
"No, no that will not work Commander," Mathesar butted in.
"Why out of plaster?"
"This is a sterile environment that went through an entire cleansing, if we were to open the wall and close it again it will let countless contaminants in."
"Can't you have those weirdoes just spit in the water again?"
"Oh there is much more to it, these walls are made out of a material that can only be found on out original home world. I'm afraid we used it all up to make this nursery. We cannot replace a damaged wall. I fear she will have to be sacrificed for the greater good."
"Hey guys can't we just put her in a big bucket of water and transfer her that way?" Guy said from the cozy dry control center.
"That might work, what do you think?"
"Our bodies must maintain a near-constant level of water pressure, I fear we will begin to swell if we were placed into such a small volume of water."
"Okay that wont work. Why don't we just flood the whole city, let it sink into the ocean and then raise it back up once she's free through the ceiling hatch?"
"Yeah that would be a great idea, put the whole city under water and attempt to raise it back to the surface," Gwen said sarcastically.
"Hey I don't hear any brilliant ideas coming from you."
"I think I might have an idea." Fred chimed in.
"What do you have Fred?"
"Well I can take some of the force field material we have on the ship and make it into a pressurized bubble. Then we can use the teleporter to move the bubble, creature, water and all out into the open ocean."
"That's brilliant," Nesmith sighed. "Why couldn't have I thought of that?"
"I am no creature, my name is Coolari and I am a proud Fellieny Colonist."
"And I'm Security Chief Roc Ing…"
"Introductions later, Guy." Alaxander interrupted. "We're running out of time here."
Fred arrived moments later with his supplies to the nursery.
"Hey Tech Sgt. Chen when did you actually learn what you were doing?" Nesmith asked.
"With that Brandon kid always breathing down my neck, I picked up a thing or two from all his technical manuals," he replied coolly. "Now here goes nothing."
The bubble was holding up, Brandon stayed back in the ship to operate the teleporter controls.
"Okay, looks like we have 10 seconds left before this bubble gives way, it's now or never Brandon."
Coolari disappeared from the nursery then reappeared outside of the nursery's glass ceiling just as the force field bubble broke in a cloud of tiny bubbles. Everyone held their breath.
"At least she's not inside out," Tommy noted.
"Coolari, are you okay, did you survive the teleportation?"
"I don't think she'll be able to answer if not," Gwen said.
"I will be fine my friends. Should you ever find your way within the Fellieny Colony, you are to be treated as guests of honor."
"Oh no, we're still recovering from Alex's inflated ego from the last 'guest of honor' treatment," Nesmith mumbled.
"Until that day, fare well. My people must have worried about my absence long enough."
* * *
That evening they all ate a full dinner while the Thermians made their final preparations on readying the nursery for delivery.
It wasn't until they were about to lie down to sleep that Fred busted into the hall to announce that Laliari was about to have her baby.
The group waited in the control room (also known as the waiting room with computers to Guy) for what seemed like hours.
"Come on what's taking so long? I want to see what's going on down there," Guy groaned impatiently. "Either that or at least let me play Super Mario Brothers."
"I thought you were disgusted by this whole thing."
"Yeah but if they let us watch it on a screen it would be like a scary movie."
"You can turn on the screen now," Fred announced happily from the nursery.
They turned on the screen and looked in to see thousands upon thousands of squid like creatures latched on to their octopus-like moms. The only one that looked slightly out of sink was Fred's little one, whom though squid like, was the only one with a shock of black curly hair on the top of his head.
"Oh aren't they just adorable?" Gwen said.
"Oh yeah I was right before, that is just wrong," Guy added.
"Wait until my friends hear about this one," Brandon said excitedly.
"I don't think I will ever be able to eat calamari again," Alexander mumbled.
"Yo that one looks just like my little brother when he was small. I'm serious," Tommy said, pointing.
"Hey Mathesar, what are the odds of me taking one home for my aquarium?" Jason asked.
They all looked at Jason and shook their heads.
"Ignore him, Mathesar," Gwen said at the friendly alien's obvious discomfort, "everyone else does."
As they were getting ready to fall asleep Jason looked toward Gwen and said, "So after this marriage thing do you think you and I can have a squid baby of our own?"
Gwen just rolled over and fell quickly into a well-deserved sleep. Brandon didn't realize how right he had been when he said that this crew never seemed to run out of adventures. The flight home would be long but without the pressure of a delivery to stress everyone out. In a strange way she was almost looking forward to it, to several quiet weeks with the people she loved with which to plan a wedding and then afterward, who knows, maybe a pink human baby to one-day command the Protector.