"Laredo's hands are injured, and he is offered biomechanical replacements made of… No… Dr. Lazarus's father visits the ship, and… No… A mission takes them to a planet where half the population is liquid, and half… No, no, NO!"

Mort Messer paced his L.A. studio apartment, shaking his head. He plucked his half-smoked cigarette from his lips and stared at it in disgust. He ground it out in an ashtray already getting full of discarded butts. Mort lit up yet another, trying to will the ideas to come.

Mort was a tall, paunchy man, his greying and thinning red hair tied back in a ponytail. He was a television writer of long standing, a veteran in an industry that was at least three-quarters "never was"-es. He'd worked on a variety of different shows, as a regular and a freelancer, but his favorite job by far, and the one that put his name on the lists of various producers across the industry, was as a staff writer on Galaxy Quest.

Now there was a show! He was as excited as anyone else about the revival (especially since he hadn't sold a script since that CSI: Miami episode almost five months ago); the second he heard the news, he called his old friend Stan Collins, who had just been announced as head writer on the series. Stan was friendly, but apologetic: "Sorry, Mort, I know your work, but you'll have to submit and apply just like everyone else. This is a hot property, and I gotta make sure everything's above board."

All right, sure, Mort had mostly expected that. And why not; it would give him a chance to stretch his sci-fi muscles once more. But as the hours passed, and the Microsoft Word screen mocked him with its blankness, he was starting to wonder if his muse had fled to greener pastures.

He knew about the new characters, of course, from the treatment packet: the swaggering ladies man of a security chief (the comic relief, obviously) and the tech engineer, a beautiful alien with a mysterious agenda who starts falling for Chen. They had potential, to be sure, but Mort vastly preferred the original characters, the people he knew and loved. But they were being so stubborn, at least in his mind…

He was just starting to develop an idea involving a war with the dog-like Hyakons and Commander Taggart's brilliant stratagem involving a high-frequency scanner burst when someone knocked at the door in rapid pulses. His train of thought immediately derailed. Grumbling under his breath, he stalked to the door and opened it. A "what do you want?" started to rise in his throat, but it immediately choked itself off.

On the other side of the door was a tall, shapely woman in a black pants suit. He recognized her at once; he'd brushed by her in the halls of the studio during his Galaxy Quest days, a moment he'd never forget. He never really saw her again; writers were rarely, if ever, needed on set, but there was no way he wouldn't know her on sight. "Y-you're… Gwen DeMarco…" He knew how much he sounded like a stammering fanboy at a con, but he couldn't bring himself to care at that moment.

She smiled sweetly at him, an image from years of fantasies. "And you're Mort Messer."

"T-that's me…"

"Writer of episode 116, 'The Quasar Dilemma'?"


Her smile grew wider. "That's nice."

Mort had only a moment to register the stormy anger that came over her before her punch lashed out and hit him square in the face.

He staggered backwards, collapsing to the floor in a chaos of agony. His vision filled only with his ceiling, he heard, rather than saw, Gwen screech, "That was for the chompy, crushy things, you… you hack!" The door slammed, and her stomping footsteps echoed through the walls as they gradually disappeared down the hall.

For long moments, Mort lay on the floor, the hardwood cool against the back of his head. When he finally rose, his chin was starting to turn purple, but his eyes were bright, and his lips were split with a smile (as well as being just split).

"While on shore leave on Garduul IV," he whispered softly, almost in wonder, "Lt. Madison accidentally breathes in the spores of the rare Boreak bloom. She becomes a black widow, a seductress who kisses… then kills!"

He leaped to his feet and sprinted to his laptop. Cracking his knuckles, heedless of the pain and the blood starting to leak from his lip, he began to write.