tribbleswithtroubles.gif (2698 bytes)

written by Thomas Gray and Randall Landers
apologies to Jerome Bixby, Gene L. Coon and David Gerrold
originally published in Stardate 18, March 1983


Aboard the Imperial Star Ship Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk was seated at the briefing room table with his first officer, Commander Spock, at his side. They were asking Ensign Chekov "a few questions." The hapless, young navigation officer was being questioned after serving a probationary period in the ship’s brig for attempting to assassinate Kirk. The ploy failed, partly because of Kirk’s security methods, partly because one of the would-be assassins changed his alignment, and partly because Chekov attempted to kill Kirk’s identical twin from an alternate universe. The last fact was known, however, only to Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scott and Uhura.

As a result of the attempt, Chekov had been sentenced to a short time in the Booth, afterwards a week of solitary confinement in his quarters, and finally a month of "reconditioning" in the ship’s brig. The questioning seminar was designed to test the Russian’s loyalties while seeing whether or not his knowledge had been impaired by his recent "treatment."

Spock spoke out. "Deep Space Station K-7 is now in sensor range, sir."

Kirk grunted in acknowledgment. He glanced at the Vulcan and studied him carefully. Had he been corrupted recently by his exposure to the landing party from the alternate universe? He turned his attention to Chekov. "How close will we pass to the nearest Klingon outpost on our present course?"

Chekov sneered at such an easy question. "One parsec, sir." His confidence emboldened him. "Close enough to smell them," he joked.

Kirk laughed aloud while Spock looked at the hapless ensign with a silencing glare. "That is illogical, Ensign. Odors cannot travel through the vacuum of space."

Chekov blanched. "I...I was making a little joke, sir."

"It was extremely little, Ensign. I suggest you refrain from your pathetic attempts at humor."

Kirk ignored the exchange between science officer and protege. "Current past history of this quadrant, Spock?" He had better things to do than waste his time with Spock’s needless disciplining of a younger officer.

"Area under dispute since initial contact. The Battle of Donatu Five took place near here twenty-three years ago, inconclusive."

"Analysis of the disputed area?"

"Underdeveloped....Sherman’s Planet is claimed by both sides, our Empire and the Klingon Confederation. Of course, we have the better claim and the superior fire power to back it up."

Chekov interjected something he seemed to remember as well. "The area was first mapped by the famous Russian astronomer Ivan Burkoff almost two..."

"John Burke," corrected Kirk gruffly, looking at Spock. It seemed that the reconditioning had impaired Chekov’s memory.

"Burke, sir?" repeated Chekov, struggling to clear his thought. "I don’t think so. I’m sure it was..."

"John Burke was the Chief Astronomer at the Imperial Academy in old Britain at the time," Spock said threateningly.

"Imperial Academy? Oh, well." Chekov dismissed any notion of differing with the Empire’s established history...or with the commander or first officer of the starship.

"Is the rest of your memory that faulty, Ensign? Key point of dispute?"

"Under the terms of the Organian Peace Treaty, one side or the other must prove that they can develop the planet most efficiently."

"And, unfortunately, the Klingons, though peaceful and pleasant, are quite efficient," added Kirk.

"I remember once when Peter the Terrible had a problem like that. He—"

The intercom whistled for attention. Before he could even press the button, Uhura’s voice came over the speaker. "Captain!"

Kirk noted the urgency in her voice. "Kirk here."

"We’re picking up a subspace distress call—priority channel! It’s from Space Station K-7!"

"Code One emergency? That’s a disaster call," said Chekov to Spock. He received only a deadly glare for a response.

"Go to Warp Factor Six. Sound battlestations."

Kirk snapped off the intercom, already half out of his chair, and quickly exited as Spock and Chekov followed.


Captain’s Log, Stardate 4523.3

Deep space station K-7 has issued a Priority One distress call...more than an emergency, it signals near or total disaster. We can only assume that something has attacked the station. We are going in armed for battle.


Sulu, the helm and security officer, turned, announcing very gleefully, "Main phasers armed and ready."

Everyone on the bridge was intently staring at the main viewing screen. Once in range, Chekov glanced at his sensors and turned. "There’s nothing there. Just the station, sir."

Kirk frowned. Now someone had done it. He stepped down from the command chair, examining Chekov’s board. After confirming the ensign’s report, he pivoted to face Uhura. "A Priority One distress call...and they’re sitting there absolutely peaceful! Lieutenant Uhura, get me the asshole of a manager over there, Commander Lurry!"

"Aye, aye, Captain." She began pressing out a sequence on her console.

The image of the space station faded and was replaced by the visage of Commander Lurry, manager of the space station. Kirk cocked his head as he studied the man’s face. "Space station K-7, this is Captain Kirk of the Enterprise, what is the emergency?"

Lurry, who knew of Kirk’s reputation for being a tyrant, shuddered involuntarily under the captain’s icy glare. "Captain Kirk, this is Lurry. I mst apologize for the distress call. I..."

"You have issued a Priority One distress call! State the nature of your emergency!" ordered the starship commander with great fury.

"Uh, perhaps you had better beam over; I-I’ll try to explain..."

Kirk glared at the screen dangerously. ‘’You’d better be prepared to do more than that. Kirk out."

Kirk and Spock materialized on the platform in Commander Lurry’s office.

The room was very plush; Lurry was a rich man. Being the manager of a space station was a goal of many in the Imperial Starfleet. Lurry had gotten his assignment to K-7 by marrying an Imperial Senator’s niece.

As the Enterprise officers solidified, Lurry cringed. He slowly advanced to the platform, hoping to avoid Kirk’s wrath. He had hoped in vain.

Kirk stepped down, noticed. Lurry had two guests seated in chairs on the far side of the office, and struck Lurry down with the back of his hand. Humiliation was an excellent punishment for Lurry’s sort of people. "Jackass! If there was no emergency, why did you order a Priority One distress signal?"

"That was my order, Captain," said the taller of the two guests, both of whom had risen from their chairs at the start of Kirk’s violence.

Kirk spun around. "Who are you?"

Lurry stood slowly and identified the speaker. "Captain, this is Nils Baris.

He’s out from Earth to take charge of the development project for Sherman’s Planet."

"And that gives you the authority to put the whole quadrant on defense alert? Gives you the authority to make me waste my time busting my ass to get my ship over here?" James Kirk was simply flabbergasted.

The other guest, a shorter man, spoke up. "Mister Baris is the Imperial Under-Secretary in Charge of Agriculture."

"And that gives him the authority," Spock added.

"Not in my book, it doesn’t," stated Kirk defiantly. "You’re lucky I don’t kill you, Baris." With a swift kick, Kirk put the toe of his boot into Baris’ groin and subsequently lifted the Under-Secretary six inches off the floor. Baris landed in the pre-natal position, groaning in pain.

The second man put his hand in his jacket. Spock noted the action and drew his phaser immediately. "I would advise against that, sir."

He sighed. "I’m Arne Darvin, aide to Mister Baris."

A pained voice came from the floor. "Kirk, I’ll have your head for this!"

Darvin helped the Under-Secretary to his feet.

"Now that we’ve dispensed with the amenities, what the hell do you want?" the captain inquired with false pleasantry.

"Captain, I want all your security guards. I want them posted around the storage compartments."

"What storage compartments?" asked Kirk, puzzled.

"The storage compartments with the quadrotriticale."

"The what? The what? What’s...quadrotriticale?" Darvin gave him a sample. "Wheat. So what?"

"Quadrotriticale is not wheat, Captain! But, I wouldn’t expect you or your first officer to be knowledgeable about such things, but—"

Spock looked as though he were capable of murder. "Quadrotriticale is a high-yield grain, a four-lobed hybrid of wheat and rye, a perennial. The root grain, triticale, can trace its ancestry back to 20th century Canada where—"

"I think you’ve made your point, Spock." Kirk sneered in amusement. "Gentlemen, my first officer, Commander Spock."

Lurry, who had been timidly watching the four others, finally spoke up. "Captain, quadrotriticale is the only Earth grain that will grow on Sherman’s Planet. We have several tons of it here on the station, and it’s very important that that grain reaches Sherman’s Planet safely. Mister Baris thinks that Klingon agents may try to sabotage it."

"Considering their disdain for violence, that seems very unlikely," observed Spock.

Kirk had something else in mind, however. He angrily spun toward Baris, his fists balling up. "You issued a Priority One distress call for a couple of tons of shit?!"

"Quadrotriticale," interjected Darvin.

Kirk belted the Under-Secretary's assistant without warning, but before he could strike again, Baris spoke. "Of course, Captain, I—"

Kirk glared. "Mister Baris, you summoned the Enterprise here without an emergency. Now, you’ll take full responsibility for it."

"Misuse of the Priority One channel is a capital Imperial offence," stated Spock matter-of-factly.

"Punishable by death by slow torture," finished Kirk with relish.

"I did not misuse the channel! I want that grain protected!" shouted Baris, seemingly obsessed with his project, oblivious to the fact that Kirk could now kill him without fear of Imperial reproach.

But Lurry did recognize the danger, and quickly chimed in. "Captain Kirk, couldn’t you at least post a couple of guards? We de have a large number of ships passing through here."

Spock also recognized that Kirk’s short patience had long since been exhausted. "It would be a logical precaution, Captain. The Sherman’s Planet affair is of extreme importance to the Empire."

Kirk locked at Spock as though he would say, "Fuck you!", but somehow the starship commander regained some of his composure. He realized that Spock was always. But he was angered by Lurry’s request. The station manager could just have easily quarantined the station, but that action would mean a loss of revenue. Station managers usually skimmed ten to fifteen percent right off the top of goods passing through the area in freighters. At least it was a small request, but it still was annoying. Chagrined, he pulled cut his communicator. "Kirk to Enterprise."

"Enterprise here," came Uhura’s voice.

"Hey, sexy. Secure from general quarters. Beam over two, and only two security guards. Have them report to Commander Lurry. Also, authorize shore-leave for all off-duty personnel."

"Yes, Captain."

"Kirk out." He put away the device and turned to Baris who seemed upset.

"Kirk! Starfleet Command is going to hear about this! A mere two men for such an important project!!"

Kirk fingered the phaser in his sash for a long moment, but chose to voice his opinions with words rather than weaponry. "I have never questioned either the orders, or the intelligence of any representative of the Empire...until now."

Speechless, Baris glowered at them as Kirk and Spock left.


Kirk finished off his brandy and continued. "Summoning a starship on a Priority One channel for a couple of tons of wheat!"

"Still, Captain," Spock pointed out. "It is a logical precaution. The Klingons would not like to see us successfully develop Sherman’s Planet."

"But those pussies aren’t even the type to consider sabotage, Spock!"

A trader entered the bar, followed shortly by Uhura and Chekov. Kirk watched her seductively sway toward the bar. "I see you didn’t waste any time before going on shore-leave, beautiful," he remarked sarcastically.

"And how often do I get shore-leave?" she asked.

"As often as I give it to you," he answered.

"That’s the point. Whenever we’re on shore-leave, you give it to me and give it to me. I never get any time for shopping."

Kirk grinned and looked at Chekov inquisitively. "She wanted to shop...and I decided to help her," the navigator offered. So, Kirk thought, the rumors I’ve heard were true. Uhura and Chekov together. Oh well, he could still have her any time he wanted; after all, he was the captain.

"Poor man," the captain said. "Last time I went shopping with her, it took eight hours. But what do you make of this?" Kirk asked as he handed a sample of "wheat" to the young Russian.

"Ah, quadrotriticale! I’ve read about this, but I’ve never seen any of it until now!"

"Does everyone know about this shit but me?" Kirk asked rhetorically.

"Not everyone, Captain. It’s a Russian invwention."

Kirk did a small double-take; apparently, Chekov’s reconditioning had had detrimental effects on his patriotism, but had not affected his navigational skill. Deciding to consider the matter further, he left with Spock in tow.

Uhura and Chekov moved to the bar and stood next to the trader who was arguing over some merchandise with the bartender. She ignored most of the exchange until the trader pulled out a ball of fur.

"Ooooh, what is it? Is it alive?" she asked. "May I hold him? He’s adorable!"

"Careful, little darlin’," he said, not letting her take hold of the furry creature. "It’s a tribble."

"A tribble?"

"Only the most deceptive little creature known to man...excepting , of course, yerself."

She eyed him warily. "Why is he deceptive?"

"He’s a predator, love. One of the most vicious the galaxy has e’er seen, but doesn’t look it, does he?"

"He’s plainly harmless," she argued, taking the fur ball from the trader.

It began purring, and she screamed in pain, dropping the creature on the counter. It blithely continued its purring.

"It really took a likin’ to you, love," observed the trader.

She thought of a certain helm/security officer on the Enterprise. "He’s perfect! Are you selling them?"

The bartender said gruffly. "That’s what we’re trying to decide now." She let them haggle the price and when they were finished, she asked the bartender, "Now, how much are you selling them for?"

"Ten credits and you can have this one now," he said, pointing to the tribble on the counter which had slid down the bar to where Chekov had given it the grain sample and part of his little finger.

"That, sir, is my sample and I can do with it as I please. And I please to give it to the little lady here." He picked up the tribble and shoved it into a small pouch.

"Oh, I couldn’t...could I?"

"I insist," said the trader.

"That’s right; ruin the market," said the bartender angrily.

The trader scoffed at him. "Once this pretty piece starts to show this little monster around, you won’t be able to keep up with ‘em."


Kirk and Spock were walking down a corridor and entered Briefing Room Seven where they sat down at the conference table. Before either of them could say a word about Chekov’s historical memory problem, the table comm whistled for

attention. .

"Kirk here. What the hell is it?"

"Message from Starfleet, Captain. Priority channel. Admiral Komack speaking."

"Transfer it down here, you sexy thing."

Komack faded in on the viewer. Kirk stood and saluted. Spock did likewise.

"Captain," the admiral began. "It is not necessary to remind you of the importance of Sherman’s Planet to the Empire. The key to our winning of this planet is the grain, quadrotriticale. The shipment of it must be protected. Effective immediately you will render any aid and assistance which Under-Secretary Baris may require. The safety of the grain—and the project—is your responsibility. In other words, if you fuck it up, it’s your ass. Starfleet out."

"Now that’s just lovely," Kirk muttered.

"But not entirely unexpected," reminded Spock.

The whistle sounded again. "Captain Kirk! Captain Kirk!"

"Kirk here. Now what’s wrong?" he snapped.

"Sensors are picking up a Klingon starship rapidly closing on the station!"

"Contact Lurry. We’re on our way."

Kirk entered the bridge, followed by Spock. "What’s the Klingon ship doing now?" the captain asked his navigator.

"Nothing, Captain. He’s just sitting there...a hundred kilometers off K-7," replied Chekov.

"I have Commander Lurry," reported Uhura.

"Visual, Lieutenant," Kirk ordered as he sat down. Lurry’s visage filled the screen. "Commander Lurry, there’s a Klingon exploration vessel hanging one hundred meters off your station We’re about to send it straight to hell..."

"I don’t think you should attack, Captain." Kirk was puzzled. "What? Why not?"

"Because at this moment, the captain of the Klingon ship is sitting here in my office."


Captain’s Log, Stardate 4524.2

A Klingon exploration ship is hovering only a hundred kilometers off Deep Space Station K-7, while its captain waits in the station manager’s office. Their intentions are unknown.


Kirk and Spock stepped off the pads in Lurry’s office to see the famous Klingon explorer, Captain Koloth, sitting in a chair. Next to him, a Klingon officer stood patiently. No doubt it was Korax, a legend like his commander. The team’s exploits were well-known throughout the galaxy. Koloth rose and extended his hand.

"My dear Captain Kirk. I am honored, sir," Koloth greeted him pleasantly.

"My dear Captain Koloth, let me assure you that my intentions are peaceful."

"I had hoped they were, old chap. As I have already told Commander Lurry, the purpose of my presence here is to secure shore-leave rights."

Kirk and Spock looked at each other, each possessing a raised eyebrow. "Shore leave?" Kirk repeated, puzzled.

"Captain, Klingons are not as...equality minded as Earthers. As you must be aware, it is a rare occasion indeed that we permit the fairer sex to travel into dangerous situations with our males. We have been in deep space for five months, and it’s time for a bit of shore-leave." The Klingon studied Kirk’s face. The Human looked as though he would try at any cost to deny them their right to shore-leave at the station. "Might I add that, under the terms of the Organian Peace Treaty, you cannot refuse us."

The captain of the Enterprise looked annoyed. He hated this kind of man.

Polite, disciplined, and what annoyed him most was that he would gladly have traded places with Koloth long ago. But now he was locked into a system which he could not break. Nevertheless he had to consider the business at hand. "The decision is not mine to make...Commander Lurry is in charge of this station."

Lurry shifted nervously and took Kirk aside. "Captain, I don’t want them here, but I have no choice. I have no authority to refuse them."

Kirk knew better. Lurry did have a choice. However, he knew he could make a profit selling Klingon crewmen souvenirs, food and drink, not to mention the selling of female flesh. Five months was, after all, a long time. He finally spoke. "I have some authority to act—and I’m going to use it whether you like it or not."

Kirk turned to face the Klingons. "All right, you and your men are granted shore-leave here. But, no more than twelve at a time. And for every one of your men, I will have at least one security guard here. There had better be no trouble."

"Captain," Koloth said, "there has been no declaration of hostilities made, so, of course, the nature of our relationship will be a peaceful one. However," he said almost threateningly. "Let us both take steps to preserve the peace."

"What do you mean?" asked Kirk.

"Last time we were here when a starship was in the vicinity, the crew of the Imperial vessel attacked a few of my personnel employing a device I believe you call the ‘agonizer.’ I would not want that to happen this time. Please have your ‘security’ men refrain from such...unpleasant activities."

"Very well, Captain." Kirk smiled at the thought of what the crew of the Imperial starship Conqueror had done. He had seen the holotapes. "I will see to it that my men leave their agonizers on the Enterprise."

"Thank you, Captain," Koloth said, bowing slightly, and he and his adjutant left.

Lurry began, "Kirk, please don’t..."

"Shut up, you greedy fool. Mind your stores. My men will handle the Klingons."


Several people were gathered around Uhura at a table, yet Scotty was sitting alone, reading something. Kirk and Spock entered the rec room, and moved to the large group as Kirk peered at the viewer screen Scotty was studying intently.

On the screen, a large breasted woman was applying her mouth to the reproductive member of a well-built man. Kirk admitted that he found the real thing better, but Scotty always had trouble ‘getting laid’; so his preoccupation with pornography was quite understandable, if not pitiful.

"Another porn magazine, Scotty?"

"Aye, why shouldn’t I?"

"Mister Scott, don’t you ever work?"

"But, Cap’n, I am working!" The Scot gestured at the screen. "I’m working on improving my technique."

Kirk nodded. Of course you are, Scotty, he thought. He moved to the large group where Spock now stood. McCoy, Uhura, Freeman, and several other crewmen were gathered at the table.

McCoy laughed. "Hell, Uhura, if you only bought the thing yesterday, and you’ve got babies today then I’d say you got yourself a good bargain."

"Doc, you ought to tell everyone about what happened to Sulu." Uhura was laughing nearly hysterically as she spoke.

"Well, he came down to Sickbay last night about 0230. And the tribble Uhura had hidden in his bed nearly took his Jefferies tube off. He was in a hell of a lot of pain, but, hell, everyone here knows he deserves it for being such a damn asshole all the time. He’s lucky this didn’t happen a hundred and fifty years ago when the doctors didn’t know how to regenerate nerves."

Everyone at the table except Spock laughed at the predicament of the most hated officer on the Enterprise. "Well," observed Uhura, "at least he won’t be calling me a cock-tease any more."

This set off another round of laughter.

Kirk noted the mound of fur balls on the table. "Are you running a nursery, Lieutenant?"

"I-I hadn’t intended to, sir, but the tribble had...other ideas?"

Kirk smiled. Spock picked up one of the tribbles and quickly set it down.

A trickle of blood dripped green from his index finger. "You got this at the space station?" asked Kirk, regarding the Vulcan’s stupidity with interest.

Uhura nodded, as Spock, noticing Kirk’s look, remarked, "I assumed that I was immune from attack."

McCoy spoke again. "Say, Uhura, do you mind if I take one of these little monsters down to Sickbay and cut him up to see what makes him tick?"

"Only if I can watch," she said.

"Sure, why not?"

"Say, Uhura," said Freeman. "Seeing that you’re giving them away, could I have one, too? I have the perfect person in mind."

"Sure, they seem old enough." Seeing other people were about to make the same request, she added, "Go on, everyone. Help yourselves."


Kirk and Spock were heading back to the bridge when they were interrupted by the com system.

"Bridge to Captain Kirk," came Chekov’s voice.

"Kirk here," said the captain into a wall comlink.

"Mister Baris is waiting on channel E, sir. He wants to speak with you."

"Pipe it down here, Mister Chekov...and turn the volume down on his transmission." No need to lose one’s hearing, after all.

"Aye, sir. Mister Baris is coming on."

"Kirk here. What is it, Baris?"

"Captain Kirk, this station is swarming with Klingons!" Baris’ tenor voice came to him over the loud speaker.

"I was not aware that twelve Klingons constituted a swarm, were you, Mister Spock?" asked Kirk in false surprise but with much amusement.

"Kirk, there are Klingon soldiers on this station. Now I want you to keep that grain safe!"

"Mister Baris, I have guards around your grain; I have guards around the Klingons. Now the only reason those guards are there is because Starfleet wants them there. Now as for what you want, you can stick it up your ass....Kirk out." The captain slammed the button to turn the intercom off and started down the corridor in the opposite direction.

"May I ask where you’ll be, Captain?" Spock inquired. "In Sickbay. With a headache."

Kirk strode into McCoy’s office. The chief medical officer was busy looking at an autopsy report. Before him was a box of tribbles. "Bones, when you get time, I need something for a headache."

McCoy looked up at Kirk, amused at his captain’s predicament. "Let me guess. Baris...or the Klingon?"

"Both," Kirk said glumly. He glanced at the box of tribbles. "Hey, how many of these did Uhura give you?"

Taking pills from the cabinet, he admitted, "Just one."

"You’ve got eleven here," observed Kirk.

"You noticed, eh?" McCoy commented sarcastically. He gave the pills to Kirk. "Here. This ought to take care of it."

"Uh, do they fuck?"

"I haven’t quite figured that out, yet, but, I can tell you this much. Almost half of the little monsters’ metabolism is geared to reproduction. Do you know what you get if you feed a tribble too much?"

"A fat tribble?" offered Kirk.

"No. You get a whole bunch of hungry little bastards...hungry for flesh."

Kirk swallowed his medicine. "Well, Bones, I suggest you don’t open a maternity ward."


In Transporter Room Five, a group of rowdy crewmen were preparing for their shore-leave on Space Station K-7. Scotty was behind the transporter console, adjusting the Heisenberg compensator, when Kirk walked in to see this group off.

"Men, I want all of you to stay in groups. It’s easier to beat the shit out of the Klingons that way. Cause as much trouble as you can with the Klingons. Remember, we’ve got to do better than the crew of the Conqueror! Our ship’s reputation is at stake."

"Aye, Cap’n," said Scotty. "I’ll tell the other landing parties as well," he promised.

"Are you going on shore-leave, Scotty?"

"Why, no. I was planning to stay here and do some reading."

"Mister Scott, I want you to go on shore-leave. I want you to make sure there’s trouble with the Klingons. I want you to get laid."

"But, Cap’n!"

Kirk stared him down.

"Aye, sir."

"And Scotty—" The engineer looked up from the floor as he stood on his pad.

"Enjoy yourself."


Scotty, Chekov and Freeman sat down at a table in the bar, right next to the Klingons who were in the bar. The Klingons made a point of ignoring them, but Scotty had something in mind. He would satisfy Kirk.

Cyrano Jones, the tribble trader, entered the bar and spotted Scott and the other two. He advanced to them, offering a tribble. "Ah, friends. Can I offer you a tribble? They’re great for practical jokes."

Scotty looked at the fuzzball and shook his head. "Uh, no, thanks."

"Perhaps one of you other gents?" Freeman and Chekov ignored him.

Jones shrugged and moved to the Klingon table. "Ah, friend Klingon! Could I offer you a deceptive little tribble?" He offered the Klingon, Korax, the tribble, but, instinctively, the hair stood up on its back and it hissed and spat at the renowned explorer.

"Get it away from me!" Korax shouted, almost in abject terror.

"I can’t understand that. It’s never done that before!" Jones said, utterly mystified at the tribble’s behavior.

"Take it away! Get out of here with that predator!"

"It’s only a little—"

"Take it away!" Korax shouted angrily.

Jones went to the bar. "Ah, friend, would you be willing to engage in another transaction. This time, a tribble in exchange for a spot of —"

However, the bartender interrupted him. "A tribble?" He reached down behind the counter with a pair of gloves. "They’re eating me out of my profits!"

"Tsk, tsk, tsk."

At Scotty’s table, the drinks arrived. Chekov’s vodka, Scotty’s scotch, and Freeman’s gin and tonic were delivered by a topless waitress who received a pinch on the rear from her customers. Scotty eyed Chekov’s drink. "When are you going off that milk diet, lad?"

"This is wvodka."

"Where I come from, that’s sodie pop." He raised his own glass. "Now this is a drink for a man."


"Aye," said Scotty almost reverently.

"It was invented by a little old lady in Leningrad," Chekov stated matter-of-factly.

Scotty arched his eyebrows in surprise. With his recent "rehabilitation," was the ensign making a joke or being serious?

At the Klingon table, Korax finished his joke and the whole table roared with laughter.

"Noisy heathens," remarked Scotty. He downed his drink in one gulp and Chekov followed suit. Freeman finished his a few seconds later. "Time to beat their faces in," the Scot said resignedly. "One, two, three!"

Freeman, Chekov and Scott picked up their table and slammed it down on the Klingons. One man was instantly killed, three others were knocked unconscious. That left Korax and a short fat Klingon. But not for long.

Chekov leaped for the small Klingon and Scotty grabbed Korax by the scruff of the neck. Freeman, not having a sparring partner, chose to assault the trader rather than miss out on any fun. After three and a half minutes, the dust cleared and casualties were counted up by the Enterprise "security" squad. Two dead Klingons (Chekov had knifed his opponent), three unconscious ones, and one severely bleeding the dark red liquid all over the floor.


Captain’s Log, Stardate 4525.6

A small disturbance between the Klingon crew and members of the Enterprise crew broke out on Space Station K-7. I am forced to cancel shore-leave for both ships.


Kirk had his men at attention, lined up in order of descending ranks. "I want to know who started it, gentlemen."

"I did, sir," said Scotty, stepping forward in pride. "You did, Mister Scott?"

"Aye, sir."

"Gentlemen, you see why Mister Scott is a commander and a chief engineer. His ingenuity, deviousness, cunning, and cruelty have secured his position as an officer on board this vessel many times. Tell us how you did it, Scotty."

"Well, sir, as we were sitting there, I deactivated the magnetic bolt on the table with a wrench. After that, it was a simple matter for Ensign Chekov and Mister Freeman to assist me in lifting the table and slamming it down as hard as we could on the noggins of those Denebian slime devils. Killed one of ‘em instantly."

"Well done , Scotty. Just for that, you can take the week off, but you might want to spend it in your quarters while we’re here at K-7. Lurry’s pretty pissed at the way you wrecked one of his bars."

"Aye, sir."

"Ensign Chekov," Kirk said loudly.

"Sir," acknowledged Chekov, stepping forward from the line.

"Ensign, my compliments on the way you deployed your knife in the incident. Doctor McCoy reports that it was such a sloppy cut that the Klingon bled to death in great pain. In light of this report, I am commending you, Ensign. I have spoken with Mister Spock, and we have decided that despite your lapses in memory of historical events, you will again be granted a full commission. Just don’t try anything on this ship and you and I’ll get along fine."

"Yes, sir." Chekov and Scott stepped back into line.

"Technician Freeman?"


"You attacked a civilian. You did an excellent job in maintaining terror of the Empire among the civilians here at the base, and you, too, are to be commended for your actions."

"Thank you, sir."

"Gentlemen, you should be proud. Everyone is granted an extra day’s wage who took part in this little incident. Dismissed," Kirk ordered. That was why he was still the captain. He paid his crew well for all they did for him.


Spock and McCoy were in the laboratory with a glass tank full of tribbles.

"There is something disquieting about these creatures."

"Don’t tell me you got a feeling, Spock?" asked McCoy, surprised at the Vulcan’s admission.

"Do not try to intimidate me, McCoy. The captain is not around to save your pitiful life should I become sufficiently annoyed," Spock said dangerously.

"Yes, sir. But what’s wrong, Spock? They’re furry, soft, deceptive, dangerous. They’re the perfect practical joke."

"Indeed they are, Doctor, and I believe the joke is on us. According to my computations, we will soon be inundated with the vermin. If you will excuse me, sir." And Spock was gone.


Kirk entered the bridge, and sat down in his command chair. Suddenly, he yelped in pain. In his seat, a tribble had taken a bite out of his flank. "All right, Uhura, who did this?"

She turned around, startled. "I-I really don’t know, sir. They seem to be all over the ship, though."

"Get Doctor McCoy up here on the double." "Yes, sir."

As he waited for McCoy, Kirk examined his bridge. Congregated in the corners, on the railings, and at the wl0ccupied positions, tribbles were purring. McCoy came out of the lift.

"You wanted to see me, Jim?"

Kirk turned so the doctor could examine his backside.

"Nasty," the doctor said. "More and more injuries all the time. The jokes gone too far, Captain. If we don’t get them off the ship, we’ll be hip deep in them...if we’re not dead, first."

"Explain, Doctor."

"The nearest thing that I can figure is that they’re born pregnant. Seems to be a great timesaver. They seem to be unisexual, reproducing at will. And, boy, have they got a lot of will."

Spock entered the bridge. "Captain, I am alarmed. My computations are not finalized, but in regards to the tribble reproductive rate, the figures are taking a geometric direction. They are also consuming our supplies and returning nothing."

"But they’re a great practical joke, Mister Spock," argued Uhura.

"Lieutenant, too much of anything, except sex, is not necessarily a good thing. Have maintenance crews start clearing the whole ship. I’m going down to Rec Room Six for some lunch. Care to join me, Spock?"


"This is my chicken sandwich and coffee? This is my chicken sandwich and coffee!" Kirk shouted. He turned to Spock. "I want these things off my ship. I don’t care what it takes, I want them off my ship!"

Scotty entered the room and looked at their trays. "Aye, they’re in the processors now. I just used a phaser to clear out a whole pile of them from the main engine room."

"How do they go throughout the ship?"

"Probably through the air vents," guessed the engineer.

"Captain," Spock said with some alarm in his voice. "There are vents like that throughout the space station as well."

"And the storage compartments as well. Contact Lurry, Baris, Darvin, and Cyrano Jones, the trader. Have them meet us at the storage compartments."


"What’s wrong?" demanded Lurry as the Federation representatives came into the storage area.

"Plenty if what I think has happened, has happened," responded Kirk. He pointed to the storage bins, ignoring the saluting security guards. "Mister Lurry," he said, suddenly smiling, would you open those bins, please?"

Lurry shrugged at the request,. "Certainly, Captain." He moved to the bins, attached the magnetic key and spun the tumblers. Without warning, a mass of fur fell from the overhead storage onto the station manager. He screamed only once. The tribbles had stripped his bones clean in a matter of minutes.

Spock pulled out his tricorder. "My analysis shows them to be gorged on more than just Commander Lurry."

"Gorged? Gorged! Or my grain! Kirk! I hold you responsible for this!"

Kirk was still chuckling over the demise of Manager Lurry. "So what?"

"There must be thousands!" Baris was becoming hysterical.

"Hundred of thousands," speculated Kirk as he looked at the seething pile.

It seemed to be advancing toward them. He pulled out his phaser, set it, on disrupt and fired.

"One million, seven hundred and seventy-one thousand, five hundred and sixty-one," Spock corrected them both. "That’s assuming one tribble multiplying with an average litter of ten, producing a new generation every twelve hours over a period of three days."

"And that’s assuming that only one got in here three days ago," added Kirk.

"Also allowing for the amount of grain consumed and the volume of the storage compartment."

"Kirk! You should have known! You’re responsible for turning the Development Project into a total disaster! I’m through being intimidated! You’ve insulted me! You’ve walked all over—"

Kirk drew his phaser from his sash and shot Baris and Darvin. "Pity that the tribbles seem to have eaten Baris, Darvin and Lurry. A great loss to the Empire. Tsk, tsk."

"Indeed, Captain," agreed Spock. "However, being your first officer, I did manage to contact a freighter. They should be able to divert within plenty of time so that Sherman’s Planet’s development will maintain its current schedule, inefficient as it may be."

"Well done, Mister Spock. Now, I think we should find Cyrano Jones."

The trader came around the corner, two security officers in tow, weapons drawn. Kirk raised an eyebrow, but the higher ranked officer said, "Resisted arrest, sir."

"So?" He turned his attention to Jones. "Mister Jones, I think I don’t like you, but I know I don’t like your cargo. You’re hereby ordered by order of the Empire to remove every tribble from this space station."

Jones drew a phaser and waved it proudly. "That won’t take too long with this little baby."

"I’m afraid the Imperial statutes against the cruelty to animals prevent your use of that weapon. Lieutenant, remove it from his person, please." The security officer did so. "Now, where shall we start? Mister Spock and I thought we’d give you a hand."

"I suggest the bar, Captain. It seems the most logical place to begin such an endeavor."

"I concur, Spock."

Captain and First Officer escorted the trader to K-7’s bar. The doors opened, and everywhere was fuzz. On the bar itself, the corpse of the bartender was still being chewed on by a swarm of tribbles.

"An excellent choice, Spock. After you, Mister Jones."

"No! No! NO! NOOOO!!!!!" Kirk and Spock shoved him in the room and closed the doors, locking them into position. Jones’ screams lasted half as long as Lurry’s.

"Well, so much for this dump. In regards to General Order 24, I do believe that this station should be destroyed." He looked at Spock. "Contact the Enterprise. Two to beam over."

In a gracious action, Kirk actually gave everyone on K-7 ten minutes before he gave the order to destroy the station. Nearly everyone got away from the blast zone. A small loss to the Empire, Deep Space Station K-7 was officially logged in as having been "deep sixed".

On course to their next destination, Kirk was quite smug. He had also beamed all of the contents of Lurry’s personal cargo holds into the Enterprise holds where it had been, like the rest of the ship, "decontaminated" in regards to tribble infestation. That reminded him of something.

"I don’t see any tribbles around here," he casually remarked.

"And you won’t find a single tribble on board," bragged McCoy.

"Bones, how’d you do it?"

"Scotty did it, not me." He gestured at the chief engineer. "I can’t take credit for another man’s work."

"Well, it was really Mister Spock’s suggestion, but I beamed the whole lot of’ ‘em, kit and kaboodle, into the Klingon vessel’s engine room just before she went into warp drive...where they’ll be no tribble at all."

Kirk smiled as the rest of the bridge crew laughed evilly. Yes, it had been a good day. He had rid himself of some potential difficulties with an Imperial Under-Secretary and his aide, and he had collected quite a booty from Lurry’s cargo hold. Damn, he thought to himself, I love being a pirate.

"Ahead, Warp Factor Five," ordered the captain of the I.S.S. Enterprise. And with a burst of light, the Enterprise leaped into subspace with all the brilliancy of a sun going nova.

"I love being a pirate," he said aloud. Yet, he still envied Koloth. The Klingon was an explorer. If only they’d been born in each other’s place...

Somehow, he thought, we’d both be much happier.


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