TO: Chief Personnel Officer, Starfleet Central

FROM: Commanding Officer, Starfleet


All right, Bob, you and I go back a long way, clear to our days at the Academy - let's talk straight about our situation. You know the one I mean: this business with the Enterprise.

You were part of the original group that set this up; you know what we were up against. It was one of those times when an impossible situation calls for desperate measures.

We had on our hands a bunch of the most hopeless, incompetent misfits and losers ever to wear the Starfleet uniform. We had:

(1.) A neurotic, egomaniacal ass, with the emotional maturity of a spoiled two-year-old, who had somehow risen to the rank of Captain (later reports say he brags about cheating at the Academy) and was on paper entitled to command a starship;

(2.) A science officer - half human, half Vulcan, and one hundred percent crashing bore - supposedly the most intelligent officer in Starfleet, yet unable even to grasp a simple concept like rounding off! (Remember what it was like to ask him a simple question? "The answer is precisely one point nine nine nine nine nine nine nine nine - " "TWO, FOR GOD'S SAKE, SPOCK! THE GOD-DAMNED ANSWER IS TWO!" But he never got it.)

(3.) A bigoted medical officer whose prejudices against alien races were so uncontrollable that he was unable to restrain himself from vicious slurs even against a fellow-officer of superior rank, and whose professional skills shall we say left much to be desired, at least going by the way his patients kept dying;

(4.) Speaking of limited skills, a chief engineer with some sort of speech impediment, and whose standard response, when asked to fix anything, was, "Ah canna do it!" - and whose sexual partners kept turning up dead under suspicious circumstances;

And in addition to these stellar specimens, we also had a number of junior types almost as bad - a nymphomaniac nurse, a manic navigator (I'm telling you, that Sulu scared the shit out of me just being in a room with him, if I've ever seen amok waiting to happen), a Slavic punk with a goofy haircut - well, you know.

You should; we went over their files enough times, trying to figure out undemanding assignments for them all. We couldn't, of course, just kick them out of Starfleet. Every single one of them had family political connections; they'd have had us both pushing lawnmowers at Starbase Central for the rest of our careers if we'd tried.

You know, too, what we finally decided to do. Yes, it was harsh, but those cruel equations will get you every time.

It seemed like such a neat solution. Here we had this hopeless lemon of a starship - the biggest piece of shit in Starfleet: engines that kept breaking down, shields that kept failing, communications systems about as useful as smoke signals, total systems crash any time the damn tub got anywhere in a hundred light-years of a little pissant ion storm - sitting around Starbase up on blocks, because we didn't have the heart to send a bunch of kids up in a crate like that.

So we did it. We packed that bunch of losers aboard that junker and sent them off on a five-year mission (yeah, it was hard keeping a straight face, like they were going to last even ONE year) into the unexplored parts of the galaxy - or so we told them, of course the Romulans and the Klingons were there already and regarded it as their turf but that was our little secret wasn't it?

And we figured we'd seen the last of them; and maybe some of us had a little trouble sleeping, now and then, but that's the penalty of leadership, you have to make these decisions.

But my God, who could have predicted what followed?

I mean, they fulfilled our wildest expectations when it came to demonstrating total ineptitude. Time and again, they beamed down to the surfaces of unknown planets without wearing protective gear or carrying the most basic survival equipment - or any but hand weapons: those phasers we gave them from that batch from that factory on Krypton IV, owned by the Federation VP's brother-in-law, as unreliable as anything else on board the old tub.

Time and again, they'd make contact with an alien race (sometimes previously unknown ones, yet they could never be bothered to gather even the most basic data, or investigate even major and obvious questions like, "Why the hell do they speak fluent English?") And despite all directives, Captain Cowboy invariably managed to pick a fight and get himself and the others captured, and usually a crew member or two killed. (Especially minority crew members. You have to wonder whether the doctor was the only bigot in the bunch.)

And speaking of the doctor, he certainly lived up to our hopes and then some; besides constantly baiting the science officer about the shape of his ears, he also turned out to be as useless at his trade as we'd expected - so bad at saving lives that his most common report was, "He's dead, Jim!"

Meanwhile the ship kept breaking down, and the ham-fisted engineering officer kept announcing that he couldna fix it; and there were even unexpected bonuses, like the discovery that the science officer became not merely useless but a positive menace when in the grip of his species' seven-year sexual cycle - which he hadn't bothered to inform anyone about, of course.

AND STILL THE SILLY BASTARDS KEPT GOING! NOTHING seemed to finish them off! We'd think we were finally about to be shut of them, and somehow they'd pull off some desperate stunt - or, more usually, escape through sheer dumb luck - and off they'd go again.

And so that's how it stands now. I tell you, Bob, I'm just about ready to give up. If you've got any ideas, I'd be glad to hear them.

Oh, by the way - Marge wants to know: dinner at eight?