"Death Threat" is a short story by TheLoneClone leading into the events of Starbuggers: From the Logs of Captain Maloney. The adventure follows Captain Maloney and his companions, Jor Talan and Avani, as they encounter a mysterious bomber with a hidden vendetta with the captain.
- Avani (First appearance)
- Captain Maloney (First appearance)
- Captain Spaghetti (Mentioned only)
- Cook (First appearance)
- Gordon Ericson (First appearance)
- Janitor (First mentioned)
- Jor Talan (First appearance)
- Rimmer (First appearance)
- Shoe Shiner (First appearance)
- Tamsin (First appearance)
Captain Maloney stared deeply into the void of space. Without a word, Commander Jor Talan, his best friend and official right-hand, entered the commons room. Maloney had taken a leave from the bridge of the U.S.S. Who’s Your Mama to relax, leaving the bridge in command of his brother-in-law, Corporal Rimmer.
“Hey, Mal,” Talan said slowly, crossing his arms. “Something seems to be bugging at you.” Maloney turned and glanced over his shoulder at Talan. “Really? How so?”
The commander shrugged his shoulders. “Well, just…your persona. You seem to be jittery and nervous all of the time. More than usual, that is.” Maloney groaned. “Oh, I guess it’s just the stress of the job.” Talan sighed, leaning against the doorway. “Does it have something to do with that incident on Arcona IV?”
Maloney chuckled. “Yeah, I guess so. That death threat that was delivered via comlink wasn’t too calming.” Talan shook his head. “Come on, Mal, you’ve gotta understand that that was just some fool’s joke. Who’d want to kill you?”
The captain chuckled again. “I don’t know. Maybe some rival from the Academy was just playing a joke on me, as you said.” He rubbed his clean-shaven chin. “But still…something about it continues to burn in my mind.” Talan shook his head. “Just forget about it. I’m sure that it’ll find its way out of your mind in a few days.” A devilish grin crept onto his face. “We can visit Talmona and take a look at some of those hot chicks that—”
Maloney waved his hands. “No. I got my feel of women back in that run-in on Balron. It was just too much for me to handle.” Talan shrugged. “Well, you did promise her your hand in marriage before robbing her blind of some artifact…”
The captain sighed. “It was just a job I had to do. She was in league with the Klingons. That is, I think it was the Klingons…”
Talan chuckled. “Aw, forget it. Just go about your normal day and don’t pay any mind to the whole death threat. Okay?”
Maloney nodded, and then smiled. “Okay.”
- - -
But he didn’t stop thinking of the death threat. Every time a yeoman gave him a data file or a crewman asked him a question about their course settings, he would jump and brace for the defensive.
As the captain smoothly took his seat at the bridge’s command chair, he leaned his head back into the comfy cushioned headrest. Just as he began to relax, however, he heard a faint ticking noise…
Quickly, his eyes snapped open and the captain jumped to his feet. “Helmsmen!” he yelled, attracting glances from several of the men and women on the bridge. “Get to cover! There’s a bomb!”
Each of the crewmen took looks of horror. “A bomb?!” one exclaimed, climbing to his feet. The captain dove underneath the bridge’s console, covering his eyes. Waiting for the explosion. But…nothing happened.
One of the two men controlling the ship’s helm looked at the chair then back to the captain. “Captain Maloney…there’s no bomb.”
Maloney poked his head up above the console. “There’s…no bomb?” he repeated. The controller nodded. “Yes, sir. No bomb.”
The captain sighed as he climbed back to his feet. Realizing the numerous pairs of eyes still trained on him, he waved them off. “All right. Everyone, back to whatever you were doing.” They all turned back to their consoles, but still kept one eye on him.
Maloney sighed, running his hand over his face. At his side, Rimmer turned to him and spoke calmly, “Captain. I believe that you should return to your cabin and relax for a bit. You look as if you could use a rest.”
The captain smiled. “Oh…right. Thank you, Corporal. I’ll do that at once.” The younger man, a spry and wise young man at the age of twenty, nodded. “You take command,” Maloney said, stepping towards the elevator. Swiftly, he was taken to the floor containing his quarters and began to march towards the doors.
Just as he reached for the controls, however, Talan’s voice sounded. “Hey, Mal! Could I speak to you for a second?” Maloney looked at his door’s controls and then to Talan. “All right. Just let me put this data file in my room.” He reached to his hip and…
…realized that he had left the file on the bridge!
“Just my luck,” Maloney muttered, grabbing his comm. “Rimmer, this is Captain Maloney. Drop my data file on the new Klingon battle cruiser in my quarters, will you? I’ll be with Commander Talan for a moment.” Rimmer’s voice sounded again: “Yes, sir. I’m on my way.”
Maloney quickly followed Talan into a hallway. “What is it, Jor?” Maloney asked. Talan pointed at a utility closet. “Open the door, Mal.” Curious, the captain reached forward and tapped a key. The door slid open and revealed the corpse of a crewman.
Maloney’s jaw dropped. “W-who is it?” Talan sighed. “Ensign Gordon Ericson. We found his body stashed in here, with this note.” The commander held up a small yellow sticky-note with a message scrawled on it. It read,
This is only the first, Captain. More will die if you don’t heed my command. Meet me tonight, when you normally go on leave, at the mess hall, with no one else. And no weapons. Nothing except clothes on your back. This all applies, of course, if you don’t go into your cabin.
Maloney gulped. “Well…this complicates things.” Talan nodded. “Yes. It seems as if your thoughts weren’t ill-placed.” Maloney traced his fingers along the last line. “But what about this part here? About my…”
His lower lip quivered. “…my cabin.”
Talan arched an eyebrow. “What about your cabin, Mal?” The captain turned on his heel and darted for his quarters, raising his comm to his mouth. “Rimmer! Listen to me, don’t—!”
But it was too late. All the captain saw was Rimmer step into the room and a light flash, and then smoke filled the corridor with a boom.
- - -
Shrapnel splintered throughout the corridor. Pieces of metal and wall flew across the hallway. Luckily, most of the crew was still at their work stations. Only Maloney, Talan, and a pair of other crewmembers were in the corridor, and they all were at a considerable safe distance.
“Rimmer!” Maloney yelled, darting for his quarters. Talan was right on his tail, hand at his hip. It was then that Maloney realized that a hidden pistol was strapped to the commander’s thigh.
As the commander tore the weapon from the strap, Maloney bent down next to the door. Parts of the room’s wall was scattered across the chamber, and Maloney could make out the form of a figure lying beneath a pile of debris.
It was Rimmer.
“Jor! Come on!” Maloney yelled, moving into the room. Talan returned the pistol to his holster as he climbed into the room with his captain. The two worked hard to tear away at the debris. Within moments, Rimmer’s face could be seen.
The young man’s head was bleeding—badly. A cut was on his forehead from one side of his head to the other. The crimson liquid dribbled across his bare temple. Bruises mottled his fair skin, a mix of purple and red. A layer of black dust covered his face. Slowly, Rimmer blinked open his eyes. “M….Maloney?”
The captain wrapped his hand tightly around Rimmer’s. “Stay with me, brother. Stay with me,” the captain whispered lightly. Talan moved in to help Maloney pull the young crewman from the wreckage. Once they were out of the room, the two crewmen who were already there were joined by a host of others. Quickly, after Talan snapped his fingers, a pair of the newcomers darted to help him carry Rimmer to the medical bay.
Maloney followed closely, his face one of shock.
- - -
The doctors onboard the Who’s Your Mama had gotten to work on Rimmer quickly. Within ten minutes, the young man had been cleaned up and bandaged around his cuts—besides the one on his forehead, several others had been found across his body. Other injuries, such as the knotted bruises that falling wreckage had caused, were given other forms of treatment.
As Maloney watched the lead doctor, a man named Tamsin, finish bandaging Rimmer’s wounds, the young seventeen-year-old engineering officer Avani stepped into the room. She looked as if she had just crawled out from underneath some console that needed fixing—dirt and dust caked her face, and her shoulder-length brown hair was a frizzy mess. A pair of work goggles crowned her head, pushed up past her hairline. “What happened?” she asked, looking in shock at Rimmer.
Maloney shook his head. “I…don’t really know, other than that Rimmer went into my quarters to deliver a data file and…boom. He ended up here.” Avani sighed. “How’s he doing?” she asked. Maloney shrugged. “They haven’t told me anything yet.”
Tamsin, after pressing his ear against Rimmer’s chest, stepped to Maloney. “Well, he’s still in quite a shock and in fair critical condition, but the wounds have been patched up.” A grim expression took his aged face. “However…there is one thing.”
Maloney looked in anticipation at the elderly doctor. “What is it, Doc?” he asked. Tamsin sighed, ruffling his short gray hair. “Well…in the explosion, Rimmer suffered a collision with one of the tiles that fell. It struck his head, hitting it hard and cutting it. That’s how the slice on his forehead got there.
“Anyways, when the tile struck him, it hit him in just the right location to cause some internal damage.” He took a breath and rubbed at the thin mustache crowning his upper lip. “And?” Maloney said, prying further into the doctor’s report. Tamsin sighed.
“And…and he’s suffered brain damage. He’s lost some control of his mind, so he won’t be able to think as fast or, sometimes, maybe even just think.” Maloney stared blankly at the doctor. Clarifying, Tamsin stated, “He won’t be the same again, Captain.”
Maloney was taken aback with the report. Yes, he figured Rimmer to have been injured in the explosion, but not…suffer brain damage. “But other than that…he’ll be fine?”
Tamsin nodded. “Yes. Have you informed his family of the incident?” Maloney shook his head. “No. I was going to wait until I had more information than just ‘Hey, Rimmer was blown up.’”
The doctor sighed. “Oh—right. Well, I’d call his family as quickly as possible and let them know what’s happened.” Maloney nodded. “All right. I’ll do it now.”
The captain stepped from Rimmer’s bed, nodding to Talan and Avani. “Jor, Vani—with me.” The two followed their friend out of the medical bay and into the corridor.
“What is it, Mal?” Avani asked. The captain sighed, rubbing his temples. “Just before Rimmer was in the explosion, Vani, Jor and I found a note that challenged me to a showdown in the mess hall tonight.”
Avani shrugged her shoulders. “And? Just take a group of crewmen and arrest him at the appointed time.” Maloney shook his head. “No—he’s too smart for that, whoever he is. We have to play his game his way.” Avani groaned. “I don’t really care for your plan too much…but you are the captain.” Maloney smiled. “Thank you for noticing. Anyways, when I go on my leave, I’m going to go to the mess hall.”
Talan shook his head. “I can’t believe you’re gonna be going there alone. If he kills you, he’ll get away scot free!” Maloney pointed a finger at the crewman. “Aha! That’s where you’re wrong, Jor. You and two other crewmen we’ll be waiting outside the mess hall door, in case he tries to make a break for it.” As Talan nodded, Avani spoke up.
“But Mal, where am I gonna be?”
Maloney smiled. “Well, Avani, you’ll be at the hangar bay with another pair of crewmembers.” Avani’s jaw dropped. “The hangar?! But then I won’t be near the action!” Maloney shrugged. “Maybe. If he gets past Jor and his men, then he’ll most likely make a run for the hangar to steal a ship.”
Avani sighed. “All right, fine. I’ll be waiting at the hangar.” Maloney smiled coolly. “That’s my girl.”
- - -
Hours passed as the crew on the Who’s Your Mama proceeded about their normal procedures, trying to push the explosion and Rimmer’s injury from their minds. It was hard to work when you constantly were plagued with the thoughts of a friend being blown up.
Maloney checked in with the time and realized that it was only five minutes until it would be time for him to clock out and take his leave for the night. The captain gulped as he reached into a hidden pouch within his chair. Inside was a holstered pistol. After debating for a few moments, Maloney decided against strapping it on and got to his feet. Reaching for his comm, the captain entered the elevator and called for Talan.
“Jor, this is Maloney. I’m heading for the mess hall.” Talan’s reply came back quickly. “All right, Mal. We’ll be there once you go in.” Maloney smiled. “All right. Maloney out.” As the captain finished speaking with Talan, he contacted Avani. “Avani here. What is it, Mal?”
“I’m taking my leave, so I’ll be in the mess hall. You in the hangar?” He heard Avani snicker. “I told you I would be, didn’t I?” Maloney smiled himself. “I do know you, Vani. You’re not always the obedient type.”
Avani laughed again. “All right. I’m really here.” Maloney nodded his affirmation. “Okay. I’ll speak to you when I get out.”
“Hopefully,” Avani muttered as the captain stepped into the room.
- - -
A room can be quite different when the lights are off.
It was the first thing that Maloney realized when he entered the mess hall. There was no sign of anyone in the room. The captain was about to presume that the bomber was a no-show until a silhouetted figure shifted in the back of the cafeteria.
“I’m here, Captain Maloney,” the figure called out, standing. “I’m no coward. Not like you.”
The captain froze in place. “W-who are you? Why did you kill Ensign Ericson and blow up my corridor—and Corporal Rimmer?” The figured chuckled. “You are naïve, Captain. Don’t you know? It was all because of you.” The captain’s brow furrowed. “Me? How so?”
The figure stopped next to a light switch. “Because of what you’ve done to me.” Reaching up, the man flicked the switch and light flooded the mess hall.
Standing before him was…the Cook.
Maloney’s jaw dropped. “The…the Cook! It’s you—the legendary member of the USS Italian, with Captain Spaghetti!”
The elderly crewman before him offered a slight grin. “Yes—it does make since, after all—this is the mess hall.” Maloney shrugged. “That’s true.” His brow furrowed again. A role model or not, this man had killed a man and injured another. “Why did you do what you did, though? What have I done to you? Oh, by the way, how did you escape the zombie apocalypse? Most records say that you and the rest of your crew died.”
The Cook nodded. “Yes, that is the general perception. I was only wounded slightly; the rest of my team took most of the damage.” He sighed. “I do miss my old friends from time to time.” His eyes flicked back up. “But back to you, Captain! The reason that I’m making you suffer is simple: You don’t go on the front lines of your missions. Captain Spaghetti was right out there with his men on their missions. Don’t try and deny it; I’ve seen you take charge of missions from the cockpit most of the time!”
As he stepped forward, Maloney saw a kitchen knife resting on one of the plastic tables lined in the mess hall. The Cook must’ve seen it, too, because he warned, “Don’t go for it, Captain. I’ll have to fight you for it—maybe even kill, too.”
Maloney took the warning and looked up to the Cook. “You’re not the hero I thought you were—you’ve killed defenseless and innocent men!” The Cook began to speak, but the captain cut him off. “All right, I’ll go on the front lines of my missions. I realize now how foolish I’ve been, letting my crew take the front lines.”
The Cook shook his head. “It’s too late for that, Captain. You’ve gone too far in your cowardly ways. Now…you must pay for the lives that have been lost in your place!”
Quickly, the Cook sprang forward, grabbing the kitchen knife. Maloney raised his hands in an effort to stop the Cook. However, they were of no use; the Cook brought the blade down swiftly into Maloney’s right shoulder. The captain cried out in pain as blood began to leak from the wound as the Cook climbed to his feet, bringing the blade with him.
“Jor! Look out!” Maloney yelled in warning to his comrade. Before the Cook could react, the doors slid open and Talan and his two men stepped inside, pistols raised. “Hold i—” Talan started, but before he could finish, the Cook slashed him across the cheek with the blade. As the commander staggered back, the Cook quickly stabbed one of the men and cleaved through the other’s weapon. As he looked in surprise at his severed weapon, the Cook punched him in the nose.
But before he could escape from the mess hall, Talan charged him and tackled him to the deck. The man let out a yell as he slammed into the metal floor with the muscular commander pinning him down. “Don’t move,” Talan ordered, pressing his weapon into the man’s gut. Realizing that he had lost, the Cook raised his hands.
- - -
After the Cook had been tucked away in a prison cell and the four crewmembers had been patched up, Maloney was standing in the records room with Avani and Talan. The former was seated at a computer, typing in a report for the deceased Ensign Gordon Ericson.
“…and let it be made clear that Ensign Ericson lost his life in the line of duty,” Maloney said as Avani finished her typing. “Okay...we’re all done.” The young woman turned and looked up to Maloney.
“Tell me, Mal, why did the Cook go bonkers all of a sudden and try to kill you just for being…erm…cowardly?”
Maloney shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess it’s just that that’s what he thought was the right thing.” After thinking for a moment, he added, “Also, when you’ve witnessed all of your friends being eaten alive and you yourself are munched on for a bit, you may lose your sanity just a bit.”
Avani nodded. “That makes since.”
Talan crossed his arms. “Say, Mal, how’s Rimmer feeling? Any progress?” Maloney stroked his chin. “Considering the circumstances, he’s doing better. He’s begun to speak to Doctor Tamsin a little, but mostly about things that he should know the answer to.” He let out a sigh. “That explosion sure has taken its toll on him.”
Avani shook her head. “Not just him, Mal; all of us.” The captain smiled. “You’re right. You are very much right.”