On the Enterprise bridge Chekov got up from the floor and staggered to a niche beside several blinking monitors.
A few seconds later a glass with some transparent liquid materialized. Chekov chugged it and shook himself.
“W-what my I goffer t’you?” he slurred and burped.
The mayor-commander gave him a horrfied glance. Trample and Sasy who had curiously followed, cautiously tripped a few steps back and looked for shelter. Then the mayor-commander gave a shrill shriek, once turned around himself and crashed to the floor. Groaning, he stood up and said to Flecki: “Number One, occasionally some staircase or other should be mounted at my commander seat.” Then he waddled to Chekov and firmly looked into his eyes.
“What’s the matter with you, man?”
“Shurplised, Commender, whatcha lepli-pi-cator candoo, potschemu?” Chekov babbled and reeled towards the replicator with his empty glass. On his way he overlooked some control panel. There was a bang and the Ensign was lying on the floor. Firmly in hand he still held the empty glass and slowly got up.
“A-all clear, Co-co,dingus, nitschewo s-straschnawa!” he shouted in about the direction of the mayor-commander, lost his hold and stumbled towards the replicator. Another unpleasant crash and groan from Chekov. Miraceously, the glass in his hand had survived this, too, and with a grin he put it onto the replicator plate. “Da-wa-wai, Wo-wo-wodka!”
“Please repeat the order”, a friendly, female computer voice said and the hamsters on the bridge immediately panicked. All animals having a moment ago followed the Ensign curiously, now hid behind or under the next best place.
“Wod-ka I sa-said, dawai!” Chekow brawled and pointed at the empty glass on the replicator plate.
“Do you require your salad with or without dressing?” came the friendly copmputer-question.
“Wh-what do I do wi’a d-dress, s-silly bitsh? I wanna shnaps!”
“Please repeat your order!” the friendly, female computer voice once more said and Chekov shook his fist.
“Snaps, or I hit y’r pro-professor!”
“Do you require your snaps cooled or not cooled?”
“Don’t madder”, the Ensign slurred and at last the glass filled with clear liquid. Sasy and Tealeafy who had come close curiously, sniffed the sharp smell of the liquid at once and fled, wrinkling their noses. Triumphantly, Chekov turned and with his left hand pointed at his right hand. He opened his mouth to speak, closed it again and looked at his hand in amazement. Then his face lit up, he turned to the replicator and took the glass he had not taken before. After looking about him with a broad grin, he took a sip, shook and slurred: “De re-re-re-pshi-pshi does wha’e’r ye say, people.”
“Food, too?” Goldi hopefully asked and approached the unit, while the Ensign had to hold to his desk not to fall down when nodding. In a trice Goldi climbed up to the replicator, faced the plate, put his paws to his hips and yelled: “Food!”
“Please repeat your order!” said the computer voice.
“Sun flower seed!”
“Please repeat your order!”
“S-u-n f-l-o-w-e-r s-e-e-d!”
“I did not understand your wording. Please repeat your order!”
“Please repeat your order!”
Goldi slowy turned. Tremendous disappointment could be read in his big eyes. He glared at Ensign Chekov, lying on the floor and obviously having fun. His glass had toppled over, the liquid ran over the floor of the bridge. Helplessness spread which only was disturbed by the bawling Ensign. Finally the mayor-commander cleared his throat and climbed down from his seat again. He had realized that his leadership abilities – or whatever that was called – were required now. Cautiously he approached the replicator.
“Let me do it, weapon officer Goldi, obviously you don’t have the required authority.”
Goldi shrugged and left the battle field to him. The mayor-commander stepped onto the replicator plate and once more cleared his throat.
“You thing – er – replicator, a meal for me and my crew!”
“Please repeat your order!”
“My order: Food!”
“I did not understand your wording. Please repeat your order!”
The mayor-commander furiously looked at the replicator and blushed fiercely. This was about his authority, here and now! If now he disgraced himself in front of this machine, his crew would think him to be a hopeless softy who did not even succeed to get at some food.
“Rap… - er – republican – erm – I mean replicator – I order you to replicate!”
“Please repeat your order!”
“Probably the replicator also needs a universal translator, honey”, Lt. Uhura laughed. “He has no Hamstish!”
“Yoohoo, that’s excellent thinking, please do the needful.”
Lt. Uhura got up, walked to a nearby panel, opened a flap and pulled out a small device. With this she crossed the bridge to the mayor-commander who nervously tapped the plate with his left paw. After she had fastened the universal translator at the replicator she retreated with a grin, watching how a red-headed hamster was standing under the replicator, puffing up.
“Erm, replicate! That’s my order!”
“Are you certain that I shall obey this order?” the friendly computer voice asked.
“Yes, the devil I am”, came the yell from the replicator plate. “Replicate”
By now all hamsters had assembled in front of the device expectantly and waited for things to happen. There was a loud ‘Plop!’ and under the terrified cries of the whole crew another mayor-commander materialized who yelled “Replicate!” Another ‘Plop!’ announced the next mayor-commander yelling “Replicate!” followed by a new ‘Plop!’ and a new clone.
Stunned, the complete hamster-crew watched this exceptional event. Even Chekov had stopped his silly giggling and open-mouthed stared at what was happening. Lt. Uhura was sitting at her station in a relaxed pose and watched with a smile the replication of hamster after hamster. Flecki was the first one to really realized the terrifying events. “Computer, stop at once!” she yelled. Right in the middle of a new materializing the process stopped and a soft voice said:
“Replication process stopped!”
There was a general sigh of relief which was however interrupted by a horrible realization: Now they had the mayor-commander 6 ½ fold! On the one side the hamsters looked at the replicator plate, horrified, in the background Lt. Uhura was sitting at her station unperturbed. Ensign Pavel Chekov however had no longer any desire to laugh. With outstretched hand he pointed at the replicator and stammered “Njet – njebosmochno”, meaning “No, that can’t be possible”. He rubbed his eyes, closed them and opened them again. No, he was not caught in some bad dream! Chekov swayed, held to the next desk and groaned: “En-sign Shekuv ask pre-permishun t’be dishmished!”
The 6 ½ mayor-commanders turned to him: “Do you feel unwell, Mister?” they chorused.
“Njet, I’m sheeing ghosts… Ne’er ‘gain allohol!” the Ensign moaned, staggered to the door of the lift, cried “Do swidanija!” and disappeared. A loud rumble implied that he crashed against the back wall of the lift.
Goldi was the first one to compose himself a little and approached the group of mayor-commanders. Interested, he goggled at the interrupted replication, i.e. half a mayor-commander, missing the upper half including head.
“Know what?” Goldi grinned. “My ass and your face might get friends!”
“You’re right impossible, Goldi”, Flecki scolded. “We’ve got a real fat problem and you’re joking!”
“We don’t have a fat problem”, Goldi said with an impish grin, “we’ve got 6 ½ fat problems.”
“Erm”, one of the mayor-commanders piped up and nervously tapped with his left paw. “Erm, certainly, dear crew members, you noticed that at the moment there are certain things – er – disruptions…” he began but was immediately interrupted by his fellow mayor-commanders.
“Honoured colleague, if I might mention as summary that this dingus-situtation requires a certain thing – er – measure of determination…”
“Not only dinugs – er – determination but also dingus – er – as I in the beginning was going to – er – stress…”
“This dingussituation, and I have to thingmention, is…”
The circumstances were just terrible for the Hamsterton hamsters. Bad enough to have to endure one mayor of that sort but now 6 ½ mayors were discussing at the top of their voices, the half-mayor being restricted to tapping with his right paw.
“People, I can’t stand that for long”, chief Botchy moaned. “We’ll blast up the space ship and that’s that.”
“Good idea”, Goldi bawled, “I’ll go to get something for blasting! Where’s the weapon room?”
“No good idea, my wild little woolly”, Lt. Uhura remarked. “We don’t want to damage our pretty space ship, what do you think?”
“But we’d be rid of those silly blatherskites then!”
“That’s no reason to blast up everything, you bad, bad hamster!”
She fondled Goldi’s ears and stood up. Without doubt she still was heavily under the influence of laughing gas but as responsible officer of Captain Kirk she still had the idea that the safety of the ship had first priority. As matters were, selfdestruction was out of question. Moreover she was a little worried over her colleague Chekov of whom nobody really knew where he had gone and where he was right now. Lt. Uhura swaggered towards the replicator and with a broad smile watched the 6 ½ debating mayor-commanders. Behind her the other inhabitants of Hamsterton were lined up, watching with big eyes whether Uhura had a solution for this dilemma.
“Won’t you come down from the replicator plate, my little frizzies? Some accident might easily happen and we’d had the same trouble as with the tribbles.”
“Tribbles?” wide-eyed Dodo asked and Tuffy cried:
“What is that?”
“We once had a mission at space station K7”, Lt. Uhura said with an impish smile. “Among others we met a trader there. He had a tribble with him and I bought this cute little thing from him, quite frizzy and a bit flat. It squeaked so charmingly and I just had to buy it. Well, I never found out where the head of that little pet was but one thing we found out very soon: Such a tribble can reproduct on his own and that very, very quickly – you hamsters can’t compete. It didn’t take long and the whole ship was filled with cute, squeaking little tribbles.”
Lt. Uhura interrupted her story and held to a table, almost toppling over with laughter.
“And then”, she cackled, “the Captain came back from K7 and almost went bonkers. At first he was quite all right but when he sat down on his seat, there was a loud squeak, he jumped up and raged!” She broke off, hardly able to suppress her giggling. “And when”, she cackled, “a tribble was sitting in his coffee pot, he completely lost control. Then he has, that is then we have…”
“You have blasted up the space ship?” Goldi hopefully asked.
“No, you little rascal! Captain Kirk never would permit that. No, he has… ha ha, he beamed the tribbles to a Klingon ship, ha ha ha! Klingons are allergic against tribbles!”
While Lt. Uhura was shaken by another fit of merryment, the hamsters stood wondering. What would Klingons be? And what did ‘beamed’ mean? Universe was curious…
After recovering, Lt. Uhura saw the faces of 16 lost looking hamsters.
“Oh, poor you, you haven’t any idea what Klingons are, have you?”
“And what beamed means”, Tealeafy added in a whisper.
“Klingons are a dangerous race, very much warriors. They somewhat look like gorillas, but they are able to speak at least. Our Captain had a lot of trouble with them and they with him.” She giggled again and added: “Beaming we need to transport things or beings from one place to another.”
“Old stuff”, Goldi cried, “we use vehicles.”
“But we do it without using vehicles. Within seconds we can be moved over thousands of miles without making a move ourselves.”
“Once Trample has been flying 100 metres from one place to the other without making a move”, Botchy objected.
Uhura laughed. “We’re beaming over distances of 20.000 miles, our emergency transporter still makes it over 8.000 miles. We need a circular containment beam as well as phase transit spools.”
“And that works?” Tuffy breathed.
“Well, the tribbles safely landed on a Klingon cruiser and we had our peace. However, the Klingons had some problems afterwards. Since that day they just hate our Captain.”
“This Captain Whatshisname, where is he, by the way? Why isn’t he on board doing his job?” one of the mayor-commanders asked, making an important face and impatiently tapping his right paw on the floor. “In a crisis like this it is – er – vital and important that every dingus is at his place.”
“That Kirk went to Scotland, remember?” Flecki grumbled at the mayor-commander.
“Erm, yes, of course I know, ha ha. As I just thought to have mentioned it’s about dizzy-plin. In a uni-er-verse we can’t afford to meet frizzy Klingons or warrior tribbles. They might eat our food.”
“Well, my dear colleague, we in a way heard that these things don’t manage, so keep your hat on – er – fur on!” the next mayor-commander said with a knowing face.
“As I always say, honoured colleagues”, the next mayor-commander remarked, “the prior hamster rule is: Keep fool – er – cool…”
“Without wanting to forestall you, dear colleague, we should prepare for an attack”, another mayor-commander bleated. “I propose to form a community – er – commission by all means which in subcommittees and by exact targets…”
“I’m going bonkers!” chief Botchy barked. “Won’t stand you clowns any longer! Who is the real mayor-commander of you?”
At once six paws went up while mayor-commander No. ½ toppled over after trying to lift one of his two paws, too.
“Fine”, Botchy grunted, “so we’ve only got six comedians left – so what now?”
“Uhura, tell me”, Flecki whispered to the Lieutenant, “can the replicated things be made disappear again?”
“Only with the antimatter-beam, baby”, Lt. Uhura purred, “but that’s damned hazardous. If you lock the beam on all of them, the original dissolves, too, and woosh – all cute hamsters are gone.”
“So we could make the original disappear as well”, Goldi delightedly cried, playing at one of the many control panels under the monitors.
“Goldi”, Flecki hissed, “you’re really unique. At least so all Hamsterton hopes. And do stop fumbling at the switches!”
“First Officer”, one of the mayor-commanders shouted, “don’t you have any work to do? Status report!”
“That’s – er – what I wanted to mention…” the next mayor-commander added.
“I can only heartily agree to my dingus speakers”, the next one interrupted.
“Me, too”, mayor-commander No. 4 said, “can’t so to say not in a way avoid to ask the First Officer for a status report. Well?”
Before the next mayor-commander could butt in, Flecki with glittering eyes gnarled: “We’re still in space and on course to the Veganic system.”
“Time of arrival?”
“Yes, erm, when are we there?”
“I also cannot refrain…”
“No idea”, Flecki shrieked, interrupting the mayor-commanders. “How should I know? I’m no navigator or anything.”
“Where is this Check-dingus, Yoohoo?” mayor-commander No. 2 asked, excitedly tapping the floor with his left paw.
“Boozy in his bunk, deary”, Lt. Uhura grinned.
“I weed – erm – plead for a crisis meeting”, mayor-commander No. 3 now bawled, “for extra coordinated – erm – extraordinary circus dances – er – require measuring…”
“What my previous speaker wants to express”, the next one shouted, “is that in some way or other we need a fill-in who…”
“But we’ve got one…”, Tuffy said in a surprised voice.
“Yes, ‘xactly – er – Dingus – er – let’s say Dodo”, mayor-commander No. 2 stated, “who…”
Now all eyes were on Dodo who desperately tried to hide under a desk. Unfortunately Goldi subverted his plans and transported him back with a kick. Another flight seemed to be without sense so that Dodo faced the 6 ½ mayor-commanders who all tapped the floor with one of their paws and looked at him impatiently.
“I didn’t do anything wrong”, Dodo wailed. “That Chekov has tuned everything. I don’t know nothing! I wanna go home!”
“Dodo is such a softy, he’s too much coward to bite himself”, Dodo whispered to Flecki with a grin. She desperately rolled her eyes and walked over to Dodo to calm him down.
“You only have to look at the instrument readings and read them aloud”, she proposed to Dodo who was sitting under the navigation control with trembling whiskers and continued to look for some escape.
Whimpering, Dodo climbed up the desk and placed himself in front of the small screen with the route data. He did not appear to have the vaguest idea what all the lines and numbers meant. Frightened, he alternately looked at the crowd and the screen.
“Come on, Navigator”, one of the mayor-commanders snorted, “height and position!”
Frightened, Dodo looked down from the table. “Well, my height is 21 cm and my position in front of a screen.”
“As we’re just joking”, Goldi suddenly shouted: “What does a woman do in space?”
Flecki gave him a sharp side glance.
“Vacuum cleaning”, Goldi cackled and held his belly of laughter.
There was a short, loud smack and Goldi lay dizzily on the floor.
“What is it, First Officer?” came a voice from the mayor-commanders’ group.
“He made a suspicious motion”, Flecki innocently explained, “and I thought him to be a Klingon. You can’t be careful enough.”
“Now I know where we are!” suddenly Dodo cried. Immediately all eyes were on him again. Expectation was in the air and after a long, long time there was silence on the bridge. Uncertainly Dodo smiled around, pointed at a spot on the screen and said: “We are here – exactly here – at the blinking spot.”
Everybody stared at Dodo who did not dare to look up. The mayor-commanders still tapped the floor with their paws nervously, while by now Goldi had risen and darted furious looks at Flecki. Lt. Uhura was humming to herself, which made one of the mayor-commanders ask: “Hey, you, Yoohoo! What do you have to report?”
“Interesting things, woolly. I receive distant signals.”
“Signals? From where? By whom?”
Uhura shrugged and grinned broadly. “No idea, darling, but the blinking spot that sweet, cosy tuft has seen is certainly not our ship.”
“Erm – where – er – why?”
“’cause that will be another ship and ‘cause the signals will come from them.”
“Well, erm – er – well, what does that mean?”
“Let’s think about it”, Uhura replied and had difficulties not to fall from her chair of laughter. “Well, on the screen we see that there is another ship and suddenly we hear strange signals. That might mean…”
“That another ship is close by!” the mayor-commanders chorused.
“Smart!” Lt. Uhura smirked. “Really smart. One smarter than the other.”
While the com-officer shook with laughter, the hamsters panicked. A strange ship out there! Never in Hamstian history anything like that had happened. Small wonder as Hamstian space travelling was in its earliest stages up to now, better to say Hamstian space travelling had never been planned. So no hamster ever had the duty to busy himself with any strange space ships.
“Shall I get the weapons ready?” Goldi’s voice sounded. “We’ll thump their hamster-alien gob…”
“Perhaps we first should find out if they are hostile at all”, chief Botchy remarked quite correctly.
“Yea, but then…”, Goldi shouted, full of hope.
“When will we meet the alien ship?” came a voice from the mayor-commander group.
Dodo anxiously looked at the screen and uncertainly shook his head.
“How fast does it approach?”
“From which direction?”
Now the familiar reply did not come but only a sad shaking of the head and a desperate sobbing of the fill-in navigator.
“Mister, pull yourself together!” one of the mayor-commanders shouted while the others stood around, scolding.
“That depends”, Lt. Uhura rescued the pathetic fill-in navigator, “a few hours at least, a few days at the longest. Moreover they might not notice us at all.”
This was the moment of an embarrassed “Oh oh!” from Goldi and the big main screen seemed to be filled by a fire ball which slowly decreased.
“Congratulations, honey”, Uhura smiled. “Now they certainly will notice us.”
“W-what was that?” chief Botchy stammered and goggled at Goldi who was sitting on weapon control with a bashful grin.
“Torpedo”, Lt. Uhura explained. “On this distance it can’t do any harm, however.”
“You dope!” Flecki hissed. “Fumbling switches and munching, that’s all he can do!”
“Weapon officer”, came a voice from the mayor-commander corner, “why did you shoot?”
“I’ve seen some suspicious movement and you never can be careful enough.”
“Fine, fine”, mayor-commander No. 3 now said. “As I always used to dingus: A hamster cannot be careful enough.”
“Perhaps so to say we should have made contact first…” the mayor-commander beside him objected.
“Nonsense!” mayor-commander No. 5 unnecessarily bawled. “Knock them down and that’s it. Questions come later.”
“If I may point out to my previous speaker that it may well be possible that these aliens in a way could regard it as a welcome…”
“We wait if they fire back then we dingus back”, mayor-commander No. 6 interrupted mayor-commander No. 5.
The mayor-commanders all shouted now, everyone pointing out his opinion to the present situation. It was absolutely embarrassing. On one side of the bridge 6 hamsters were tapping their hindpaws at the ground, gesticulating with their forepaws, the half one excitedly ran up and down and if he paused, also tapped with his paw. On the other side 8 helpless hamsters were waiting, now joined by Dodo who no longer liked to sit at the spooky screen where aliens were approaching.
“Done great”, Flecki gnarled at Goldi who also had left his station.
“I won’t be able to stand this any longer, you know”, chief Botchy grumbled.
“Perhaps we should make a mayor election, Boss”, Tuffy hopefully shouted.
Botchy gave the little repair hamster a shattering look and grumped: “And before that we for days listen to the campaign speeches of these clowns – or what?”
“Lieutenant Uhura”, Flecki shouted, “where is this antimatter beam you told me about?”
“Engineering, darling. Opening the screening of the warp spool and standing in front of the spool means being atomized, bang!”
“Fine”, Flecki retorted with a satanic grin, “then election speeches will start there.”
Terrified, her hamster friends glared at her and even Lt. Uhura stopped her smiling.
“Good idea”, Goldi interrupted the silence, “but will you dissolve them all?”
“We can’t”, the chief engineer breathed, “we’ll get the original mayor, too!”
“That’s it”, Tuffy cried, “first of all we’ve got to know which one is the original one!”
“I’ve known since long”, Flecki retorted. “There’s something I noticed.”