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The captain of the Enterprise told himself firmly that a starship could not be haunted, especially not his beautiful new command. Ghosts did not exist despite the rumors beginning to circulate among the crew. That during their disastrous shakedown cruise seven of the nine deaths had occurred in the secondary hull was not helping matters or that in the last days of Christopher Pike’s captaincy an alien lifeform resembling a vampire had decimated much of his crew.

“Ghosts do not exist,” James T. Kirk repeated firmly.

“I cannot argue with that statement, Captain.”

“I don’t need an argument, Mister Spock; I need an explanation before these rumors get any more out of hand.”

“I cannot supply one. Personnel are reluctant to come forward and state exactly what their grounds are for such illogical claims.”

“Probably because anyone who did would find themselves heading straight for a psychological evaluation on their fitness to serve,” McCoy pointed out dryly. “And given this is the ship everyone wants to serve aboard, no one’s going to risk that.”

Kirk heard the signal at his door he expected. He had put out some informal inquiries. “Enter.”

Chief Petty Officer Maxton came into Kirk's quarters.

"Anything, Chief?"

“Not much, sir,” Maxton replied, and handed over a compuclipboard. “There doesn’t seem to be any pattern. Nothing more specific than it’s always in the secondary hull and during the night watch. No one is actually claiming to have seen a ghost, just to have heard something. Shall I have a word with Security Chief Giotto about switching to the night watch, organize a few quiet patrols?”

“Someone’s organizing this?”

“It is coming up to Hallowe’en, sir.”

Kirk looked at the compuclipboard again. “The only consistency we have is that everyone’s reporting shrieks. Let’s give it until after Hallowe’en. If this is someone simply planting a few special effects, that should end it. If not, I may indulge in a few late night strolls myself.”

“What do you hope to achieve, Captain?”

“An answer, Mister Spock. I don’t like unanswered questions.”


Kirk looked along the darkened corridors. An area of the ship where almost everyone worked during the ship’s day was certainly the best area to create rumors of a haunted starship. He saw a movement. “Mister Lethende!”

The Salixa glided up. “Needing engineer, Captain?”

“No. Have you heard anything unusual?”

“No, Captain.”

“I gather you’re not worried by these tales of ghosts, Ensign?”

“Salixa not having concept of afterlife so asking friend, Captain. Chekov saying ghosts only in stories. Giving ones to read. Keeping poor Salixa awake. Tentacles curling!”

“Carry on.” Kirk grinned.

“Aye, sir. Wishing good night, Captain.”

The Salixa had barely turned around the corner before Kirk heard a shriek.

“Lethende!” He almost ran into the being as it came in response. “Are you all right?”

“What being wrong, Captain?”

“Did you… Mister Lethende, what are you carrying?” Unless the captain of the Enterprise was mistaken, he had just seen a set of bagpipes in the writhing tentacles.

“Pipes, Captain. Learning.”

That would certainly account for the eldritch screeches! Kirk liked a pipe band, but he could imagine only too vividly how a set of pipes sounded in the hands--or tentacles--of a novice. “Could I ask why, Mister Lethende?”

“Captain knowing Mister Scott being best engineer in Starfleet?”

Mystified, Kirk agreed “And?”

“Wanting to be top engineer like Mister Scott,” Lethende explained. “So learning to play pipes. Being what engineers do.”

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