This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.


OUT, DAMNED SPOT!

A Star Trek: The Next Generation Tale
by Jeff Morris




A wise man once made the observation that if felix domesticus had managed to evolve with opposable thumbs, they would be the undisputed masters of the universe. This statement would no doubt cause no end of puzzlement to the species in question, since they already believe themselves to be the undisputed masters of the universe

A typical example could be found in Commander Data's quarters aboard the Enterprise, where the android was busy spending "quality time" with his pet cat, Spot. The schedule for this activity was normally breakfast, playtime with string, ten minutes of repeated stroking and fifteen minutes, twenty-five seconds of intense brushing.

This, of course, was Data's interpretation of "quality time". In Spot's opinion, however, every available second of Data's time should be spent paying proper obeisance to his pet. But the cat was resigned to the fact that his owner had different priorities from time to time, and therefore accepted every moment of Data's attentions with bright eagerness.

Unfortunately, those moments never lasted long enough. "I shall have to go now, Spot," Data said as he set Spot's grooming brush on the dining table. He gave the cat a few long strokes with his hand. "The events of last night have left many members of the command crew exhausted; I will be working a double shift today so that they will have time to rest adequately."

"Rowwr!" protested Spot.

"I know that this is far less time than I normally spend with you," the android continued, soothing the ruffled fur of the cat with his hand, "but I shall endeavor to spend additional time with you later." He carefully set Spot on the floor and rose to his feet. "The replicator has been programmed to provide you with Feline Supplement twenty-seven at the usual time tonight. I shall return shortly thereafter. Goodbye."

Spot watched Data leave with a mixture of despondency and disgust; despondent because he was just starting to get Into the brushing, disgust because Feline Supplement 27 tasted terrible. The door hissed open, then shut as the android exited, leaving Spot quite alone in the sparsely furnished quarters.

Spot hopped onto a padded chair and settled in.

Fifteen minutes later, the door slid open again to present Alexander Rozhenko. "Hi, Spot! Wanna play?" The cat arched his back and flicked his tall in joyful welcome; it was always good to see Alexander. Alexander always made time; he never had to go running elsewhere to do something. Alexander knew where true priorities lay.

The Klingon child found Spot's favorite toy, a catnip mouse with a long string attached. "Hunt the mouse, Spot! Hunt it!" The feline took his time stalking the felt creature, which jiggled, wiggled and darted back and forth under Alexander's guidance. Just before it vanished around a comer of the sofa, Spot lunged forward and struck, holding the creature tightly with all four paws. It put up a brilliant battle for freedom, but to no avail....

The door hissed open. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" roared Lieutenant Worf.

The child looked up guiltily. "I was ... checking on Commander Data's cat, father!"

The elder Klingon's eyes narrowed. "I was not aware that the commander's pet needed checking upon. And you are supposed to be attending your classes." Meanwhile, Spot inhaled a heady whiff of catnip from his toy and noticed that Worf was still standing in the doorway, which meant the doors could not close.

"But Father, all that stuff is boring! Who cares about spelling and arithmetic?"

Spot carefully picked his way along a path that offered optimal protection from Klingon eyes, yet got him within striking distance of the door. Neither father nor son noticed his furtive behavior.

"You have an obligation to attend school. Your grades are ample evidence that you need to attend school!" Worf's voice grew even more ominous in its rumbling tone. "You will attend your classes, Alexander. I will take you there each day and bring you home each night, If necessary, but you will go to school, you will pay attention, and you will learn. Is that understood?"

"But fatherů"

"IS THAT UNDERSTOOD?"

The little boy's head fell. "Yes, father."

Worf nodded with satisfaction. "Good. Then come along; I will escort you to your first class."

"That isn't necessary, Father ... " the boy said a bit too quickly,

"I believe it is." As Worf led his son out and the doors shut, Alexander looked back to say goodbye to Spot, but the cat was nowhere to be seen.

 

There is nothing so invisible as a cat that does not wish to be seen. Dozens of people walked through the curving corridors of the Enterprise, but if anyone saw Spot as he slinked along the edge of the inside wall, no one said a word. Then again, how many people really paid attention to things moving close to the floor?

With the heady thrill of his daring escape (arid the catnip rush) fading, Spot was deciding upon his next course of action when Geordi LaForge came into view. Spot liked LaForge; the dark-skinned man often patted and stroked the cat when he came to visit Data. Another Human who understood priorities.

The cat didn't recognize the woman walking with LaForge but decided to tag along in case something interesting came about. One never knew...

"Look, Sonya, there's no reason for you to go back to Engineering. The crisis is over, you did great. Go to your cabin and get some steep, okay?" LaForge paused in his walk to yawn mightily and stretch. "Lord knows I'm going to."

"I'm sorry, Commander," the breathless young woman said. "I'm just all keyed up still--maybe I could go to the gym and work It off--or something." She glanced hopefully in LaForge's direction, but the hint wasn't being taken.

"Whatever, Sonya." He stopped in front of his quarters; responding to his presence, the doors hissed open. "Just go and get some rest before your next shift, okay? When that adrenaline rush fades, you're going to be wiped, and I want my people alert when they're on duty. Got it?"

"Got it," Gomez said glumly. She watched the doors slide shut and frowned. "Humph. Blind in more ways than one," she grumbled as she walked on.

LaForge was so tired he didn't even bother undressing; he flopped into bed, stretched out and sighed happily. "I hate crises that run over eight hours," he informed the room as he unclipped his VISOR and set it on the nightstand beside the bed. Using his fingers to make sure it was within easy reach, he closed his eyes and quickly fell asleep.

Spot padded softly into the bedroom. It looked as though LaForge wasn't going to be doing anything for the foreseeable future, much to his disappointment. Was there anything else that looked interesting?

Starlight from the window gleamed off the VISOR

The bright shiny VISOR.

The bright, shiny VISOR that sat so temptingly on the edge of the nightstand.

Spot washed a paw and tried to remember the last time he'd checked to see if gravity was still functioning aboard the ship. It had been awhile, he realized; as the Science Officer's cat, he would be remiss if a spot check were not made. One could never be too careful with gravity.

With quiet grace he leaped onto the nightstand and crept across to where the VISOR lay. A furry paw extended, patted the object once, twice, three times... It fell to the carpeted floor, much to Spot's relief. He jumped down and sniffed at the thing and recognized LaForge's scent. This was probably very important to Data's friend; it should be kept somewhere safe, somewhere that no one could find it and steal it.

His course of action decided upon, Spot set to work.

 

"Bridge to Commander LaForge."

LaForge groaned softly and squinted sightlessly at the calling. 'LaForge here, Captain."

"Commander Data reports that we're having some fluctuations with the dilithium crystal energy output..."

"I'm on my way to Engineering, sir," he said, trying to keep the groan out of his voice. "LaForge out." So much for sleep. He wondered if Gomez was still hyped up from the earlier problem. If she was, he could supervise while she did the actual work--it'd be good experience for her, and he wouldn't have to worry about his exhaustion causing him to slip up. Good course of action, he told himself as he reached over for his VISOR...

... and touched empty air. His fingers slid across the nightstand, to no avail. "Damn," he grumbled, rolling over on his side. Probably fell on the floor somehow, it should be right...right...

Where the hell is my VISOR?

He carefully searched along the entire side of the bed before determining that it wasn't anywhere to be found, then rolled out of bed and pondered his next move. Given time, he could probably figure out where the damn thing was. But he didn't have time. He was going to have to get help on this one.

But if he called anyone, his friends wouldn't let him forget it for the next three months. They still hadn't forgotten about that little incident on Haven eight months ago. What he needed was someone he could trust--someone who was available and who'd be willing and able to come and lend assistance.

Unfortunately, only one name came to mind.

LaForge sighed. 'LaForge to Gomez."

"Gomez here sir."

"Sonya, you still awake?"

A pause. "Yes, sir."

"Could you.... uh, come by my cabin? I, er, need some help with something here."

"YES, SIR!"

He wondered about the sudden burst of enthusiasm in her voice, but quickly dismissed the thought. The VISOR was the thing to worry about right now. That and wondering if Gomez could keep her mouth shut about this entire incident

One horny, overeager ensign's entrance later, Spot was free to lurk the Enterprise corridors once more.

 

By matter of necessity, Sickbay had an open-door policy; one never knew when someone might be coming in, in what shape, or by what means. Doctor Beverly Crusher glanced at the doorway and sighed in relief when no one came in complaining of injuries from last night's incident. It had been a long shift with nary a moment's peace.

Entering her office, she heeded the growling demands of her stomach and walked over to the replicator. "One tuna salad, one jasmine mint tea," she ordered. Crusher sat down behind her desk, speared the first forkful of food that she'd seen in twelve hours, and had just opened her mouth to devour it when Doctor Selar walked In.

The first thing Crusher noticed was that the normally unflappable Vulcan doctor had her fists clenched. The other anomaly was the spasmodic twitching of her jaw muscles. "What's the problem, Selar?"

When she spoke, Selar's voice was too-carefully modulated and the words too precise. "There is no problem, Doctor. I was merely ... taking a break from answering Lieutenant Barclay's questions."

"Ah." Enlightenment began to dawn. "Standard concussion situation?"

"Indeed." Selar took a deep breath. "He has been asking where he is, what happened to him, and how badly hurt he is." Another deep breath. "For the past forty-five minutes."

Crusher set down her fork. "What happened to his girlfriend? The one who brought him in, looking all teary-eyed and worried?"

"Ensign Tsu left about fifteen minutes ago, vowing not to return until he was, quote, 'back in his right mind or whatever passed for it.' End quote."

"I see." Rising reluctantly from her desk, Crusher gave her assistant a sympathetic smile. "Let's run another scan, then, just to make sure he's all right. And while we're at it, a mild sedative might be in order."

"I agree." Selar looked down at her tightly clenched fist. "I have one on hand if needed."

The tantalizing aroma of tuna fish drifting amid the less-than-tantalizing antiseptic odors convinced Spot to make a brief inspection of Sickbay. After carefully checking to be sure no one was around, he hurried through the doorway and made a beeline for Doctor Crusher's office.

If records were kept for the fastest devouring of tuna salad, Spot would have qualified for the Feline Olympics. Feeling quite satisfied with his meal, he began to wash his face, when suddenly an ominous, familiar feeling in his stomach advised him that perhaps he'd eaten a bit too quickly.

A quick series of hiccups ensued, each building in intensity.

A few seconds later, Spot bounded out of Crusher's office and back into the corridors, content to know that as always, his aim was spot-on.

Crusher returned to her office a few minutes later, smiling bemusedly to herself as she recalled the took of relief on Selar's face when Barclay had finally gone to sleep. Shoving her trusty hypospray into her lab coat pocket, she sat down behind her desk, lifted her fork...

...and gagged.

Spot found the Jeffries tube system a far more Interesting and secure means to move between levels than the turbolifts. He didn't have to worry about doors shutting on his tail, for one thing. Emerging from the maze of tunnels, he found himself back on the officers' deck, and was considering the notion of returning home (despite the thought of Feline Supplement 27) when a familiar bearded face walked by.

Deciding that anything was better than Feline Supplement 27, Spot followed Commander William T. Riker down the corridor.

"I don't know what I'm doing here," Riker muttered.

"Perhaps this will remind you," Ensign Ro Laren purred as she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him into a passionate kiss. As the embrace tightened, she pulled him through the doorway and let the doors shut on any prying, gossipy (or half-Betazoid) eyes that might be watching.

"That's ... some memory restorative," Riker gasped as he finally pulled away.

"We've both got an itch that needs scratching," Ro said, slowly leading him toward the bedroom. "'You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours-like never before."

"Works for me," Riker agreed with a dazed grin, letting her lead the way.

Spot prowled about Ensign Ro's quarters, finding nothing of any great interest. Padding into her bedroom, however, proved far more interesting. Tuning out the moaning and grunting going on, his eyes locked onto a silver object on one hand that glinted and teased in the dim lighting. As he watched, fascinated, the hand slid back and forth across a wide expanse of flesh, luring him ever closer.

Spot coiled himself into pounce position.

The ring slid down toward the foot of the bed, then danced back up, accompanied by a low, throaty groan, "Oh, God, that's great ... oh yeah."

"That's it...that's it..ohhhh..."

Spot's rear end wriggled in anticipation.

"Faster .. faster .. faster... "

"Oh, God, you're great-you're fantastic..."

"MMWRRRRR0WWWWWWWWWR!"

"AUUUUUUUGGGGGGGG!"

"AUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!"

"MROWWWWWWW!"

"RIKER!"

"MROWWWWRRRI"

"AUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!"

 

It had been a long, tiring day for Deanna Troi; hour upon hour of checking on the emotional state of the crew, and doing what she could to aid those personnel who needed her services. Last night's situation had frazzled the nerves of marry people, the result of which was a nagging headache inside the Betazoid's head that wouldn't go away.

There was, of course, only one remedy, and Troi was on her way to Ten-Forward when Doctor Crusher hurried past her, medikit In hand. "Beverly? What's going on?"

"Nothing!" she gasped as she passed. "Minor medical problem, nothing major! Gotta go!"

"Beverly!" Troi hurried to match Crusher's pace, which wasn't easy. "What happened? Who's hurt?" Her brow knitted in concern as Crusher stopped in front of one particular door. "Ensign Ro? Is she all right?'

Crusher hesitated a second before replying. "Noooooooo .... Ro is fine, Deanna. She was ... with someone ... who was hurt. Look, I've really got to get in here and got to work, so ... "

Troi's frowned deepened as some very familiar emotional patterns came into focus. "It's Will, Isn't it?"

The physician's face fell into a sympathetic expression. "I'm afraid so. Apparently, he's got some deep gouges in his back. He claims some sort of wild animal attacked him."

"I'll just bet," Troi said darkly. "An untamed Bajoran, no doubt."

"Deanna ... look, know this is a difficult situation for you; you probably would rather not be here for all this..."

Troi blinked twice at Crusher. "Are you kidding?" she said as the doors to Ro's quarters hissed open. "I can't waft to hear him try to talk his way out of this one."

 

As Troi and Crusher entered Ro's quarters, Spot slipped out without either of them noticing. He padded his way to a nearby Jeffries tube, and leaping within its confines, ascended through the network of tight passageways that made up the starship's skeleton. He had no particular destination in mind, though hunger pangs were making themselves known.

He emerged on the bridge level. Quietly, carefully Spot crept along the main passageway; crewpersons, too preoccupied with their jobs and the terrifying idea that Captain Picard might unexpectedly around and find something wrong with what they were doing, paid the cat no mind.

Spot paused beside a doorway for a quick recce and wash when the portal hissed open. Picard strode by, calling to the air, "Very well, Doctor. I'll be right down. I can't wait to hear his excuse, either. ...Picard to LaForge. Commander, what is going on with those dilithium crystal energy flows? I've been waiting for a report..." Never one to miss opportunity, when it whooshed, Spot slipped inside just before the doors shut.

It was a much smaller room than any he'd been in today, quiet and very orderly. Spot walked around slowly, studying every object lining the walls with minute scrutiny. To his disappointment, the starship models were anchored to their bases quite securely, but the knickknacks on the desk tumbled to the carpeted floor rather nicely. Satisfied that gravity was indeed still working and feeling a bit fatigued from his adventures, Spot started to settle down for a quick nap...

...when he suddenly noticed a round object imbedded in the wall. With something inside the object swimming around contentedly, as if it didn't have a care in the world.

Spot's eyes narrowed. His stomach growled.

Spot never said 'no' to fish.

He moved over to the edge of the desk that was closest to the aquarium and began a detailed examination of the situation. His tail flicked excitedly back and forth in graceful arcs as he studied the wall, the fish, the tensile strength of the plastic aquarium, the fish, the distance between the wall and the desk, the fish...

There had to be a way to get it, Spot knew, licking his lips in anticipation. All it took was time, patience, and observation. And cats could wait forever if the reward was worth it.

He was still sitting there quietly twenty minutes later when the doors opened again.

 

Data looked up from his station as the doors to the ready room opened. Captain Picard was standing there with a look of pure consternation on his face; in his arms was a familiar friend.

"Mister Data," the captain said in careful, precisely measured tones, "I believe this is yours?"

The android nodded. "Indeed, Captain. But I do not understand why you have brought Spot here from my quarters."

Picard shook his head. "I didn't bring him here Mister Data. I found him in my ready room sitting on my desk..." Storm clouds darkened behind Picard's eyes. "...eyeing ... my ... lionfish."

Data considered this for a moment. "It is a well-known fact that felines are very attracted to motion, sir. Perhaps the swimming motion of your fish captured his attention."

"He ... was ... licking ... his ... lips."

"Ah." Data tilted his head. "Sir, I believe you are ascribing anthropomorphic tendencies to an animal. This is a very common fallacy amongst pet owners ... "

"Data!" Picard held out Spot. "Take your cat back to your quarters. Now."

"Very well, sir." He took Spot into his arms; the cat purred loudly at the unexpected reunion. Data had just reached the turbolift bay when Picard called out again. "And Mister Data..."

"Sir?"

"See to it that your cat does not get out ever again. Is that understood?'

"Indeed, sir."

Data entered the turbolift and requested the deck where his living quarters were located. As they descended, he gazed down at Spot and absently scratched behind the cat's ears. "I would be most interested in learning how you escaped our quarters and where you have been."

Spot's only answer was a long, loud and contented purr.