Being alone to think hadn’t done Todd any more good than it had for the past four days. His mind kept whirling in circles and bumping up against impossible scenarios that left him alone with five kids hundreds of light years away from his family. The worst part was he couldn’t say they were impossible, just highly improbable, and given all the improbable things that happened to and around the woman he loved, it was not a comforting thought. Talking to Ellie tonight, when she was so fragile, had only made things worse.


He couldn’t even find his footing. How could he find his steel?


He smacked the wall with the side of his fist, then headed out and to the rec room.


What was it Gel said? Feel my steel? There’s a whole ship of people willing to help me, if only for Ellie’s sake. Maybe they can give me some ideas on how to deal with the unexpected.

He certainly didn’t expect to walk into the rec room to find it in an uproar, his fiancé in a fury, and Enigo going for his throat.


“Hey!” Ellie yelled and grabbed the chief of security by the arm. Still in mid-charge, he almost yanked her off her feet, but she followed up by grabbing his wrist and twisting his arm in some kind of wicked hold. Enigo yelped and broke free, but it gave the others time to react.


Soon, Todd found himself surrounded by people, half of whom were yelling at him to flee, and the other half were just yelling at him. Meanwhile, Ellie had managed to knock Enigo off his feet. She swung at him, yelling, “My responsibility!”


Gel glooped himself over her, surrounding her completely until she was holding her breath.


Was this a resurgence of Space Loonies? Leslie grabbed Todd by the collar, pulled him with her onto a table, and fired a phaser in the air. It was one of the game guns, but the pyrotechnics were enough to make everyone pause.


“All right. That’s enough!”


Gel said to Ellie, “Promise to calm down, and I’ll let you go. Promise?”


Eyes wide and cheeks puffed, she nodded. When he’d oozed himself off her, she leaned forward, bracing herself against her knees, panting.


Enigo stood and dusted himself off. “You got a lot of nerve coming in here, Ahndmor.”


“What the frack?” Todd exclaimed. “I came looking for advice, not a mob. So much for ‘Feel my steel.’”


“What?” Leslie asked.


“I…” He waved one hand hopelessly. “I’m having a hard time, okay. I was hoping someone would help me figure out how to feel my steel.”


There was an awkward silence. Finally, Sisco said, “Uh, we never phrase it that way. Yeah, never.”


“Wait,” Leslie said. “You didn’t break up with Ellie?”


“Have you all gone crazy? Ellie’s the greatest thing to ever happen to me. I need to father her progeny.”


“Oh!” Leslie cooed.


Ellie, however, was still annoyed. “Who said anything about us breaking up?”


Enigo gaped at her. “But you…”


“You told him about the puppets incident! That was my job, and I’d have done it in my time.”


Todd crossed his arms. “Yeah, when exactly—”


Ellie pointed her finger at him. “Don’t you start!”


Leslie, however, threw her arms around Todd and bounced with happiness. “Toddlie’s still a thing! I’m so relieved. So, this really was about the puppets?”


But Enigo shook his head. “This was about breaking a vow. I’m truly sorry, chica.”


Suddenly, a snide voice filled the room. “Humans. Always thinking of themselves and never seeing the big picture. Of course, it’s not about puppets or vows. It’s not even about true love. This is about me.”


There was a flash of light, and a tall, thin “man” in an admiral’s uniform stood in their midst.




I have to give a shout-out to my CWG SF writers crit group. I was having a hard time deciding how to play the whole Ellie-Todd relationship crisis because it’s just a done deal that they’ll get together. That was making it hard to decide how to end this story. I took my dilemma to the crit group, and most of them sided with Natalie and Hiro Doall that the two were a bad match, which I found kind of funny, but didn’t really help with my problem. However, it did remind me that I am writing comedy, or at least dramedy, and that I could not end this on a serious note.

And now, we get to have fun with Q.