Gut Level Reactions

by Ron Richard

(Star Trek belongs to Paramount; we only borrow their world.  No copyright infringement intended or implied.)

The young officer was now months out of the academy and this was his third duty shift on the bridge. Feeling therefore very “seasoned”, he managed to muster up a hearty announcement delivered from the diaphragm. He had just been thinking about those drama classes back at ZCHS and they guided his delivery. “Pre-orbital approach scan indicates no anomalies, Commander.” It was addressed to the duty officer, but meant for all in the room, especially those in the back row.

“Thank you, Ensign. However, you should be aware that those particular scan results are included in the standard Captain’s display at the command chair. It is therefore not necessary to announce them unless ordered to. Also your statement was delivered at seventy-four decibels. I find sixty-six decibels to be adequate for a room of this size and ambient noise level. Please make a note of these items for future reference.” Although delivered in the most polite and non-aggressive voice imaginable, Lieutenant-Commander Data’s response had a way of shriveling Ensign Goldblatt’s genitalia to raisins and reducing his spine to the consistency of a Regulan Blood Worm.

“Yes, sir.” This squeak of an answer astonished Goldblatt, but he was too aware of his face turning scarlet to think about it. He turned back to his bridge station and wondered how he might go about crawling inside it, out of sight of the universe.

“Helm, standard orbit.” Data’s gold fingers played a tiny concerto on the comm panel.

“Science sections, prepare to begin planetary survey upon orbit insertion. Bridge out. Lieutenant Preuit, did you not hear my order? . . . Lieutenant Preuit?”

Captain Jean-luc Picard was in the middle of a daydream in the center of a reverie in the heart of a fantasy. There were images and sounds, feelings of a smoothness and the slight smell of . . . Suddenly, to his surprise and slight embarrassment, he realized he was thinking in French. It was only in times of deep inner contemplation such as this that he reverted to his childhood language. The previous reverie ceased and another began. This is interesting . . . I don’t recall this happening since I was a young man, or perhaps just younger? When was the last time I thought in French? Mon Dieu, it must be 20 years, perhaps? More? Oh, yes . . . the shipping out party. Jack and I insisted on wearing our uniforms. Beverly had tried to talk us into wearing casual, but we were adamant . . . that dress . . . I think she wore it just to make a point about the uniforms . . . or maybe she wanted me to look at her . . . when she leaned over to retrieve her fork . . . there could be no possible way for her to not know how she was exposing her breasts . . . why else would she have lingered so long . . . she knew I was right in front of her . . . the overhead light was shining perfectly onto her chest . . . the curve of her young breast, the incredible milky whiteness . . . Beverly was fair complexioned anyway, but the skin on her breast . . it practically glowed . . . Her right nipple was smallish and a delightful pink in color . . . I could see every detail with complete . . .

“Marmalade for your croissant?”

Picard had not been this disoriented since Zweller spiked the punch with Romulan ale at Marta’s birthday party. “Of course, yes . . . the croissant . . .”

Beverly looked at him across the breakfast table and automatically started categorizing symptoms: short quick movements, confusion and a curious aversion to looking her in the eye. “Hello, Crusher to Picard.”

Those words, even said humorously, seemed to bring Jean-luc back to proper point in space-time. “I’m sorry, Beverly. My mind was . . . wandering. What were you saying?”

“That there is a Borg cube just outside your window. I thought the Captain should know.”

“My apologies, Beverly. I am correctly chastised, unless of course you were serious about the Borg.”

“I was offering you the marmalade. You had an odd look on your face just then, Jean-luc. What were you so intent on, anyway?”

“Sorry, Classified: Captain’s Ears Only.” He smiled as he said it, but something in the look told Beverly that it was more than Starfleet secrets.

It was more like . . . shame? No, that wasn’t it . . . embarrassment, maybe. There is a slight redness to his cheeks, and is that a drop of perspiration on his temple? Perceptual diagnosis has always been my strong suit. What can I make from this? . . . Pupil response is normal . . . I’d say his temp is up a quarter to half a degree . . . that could mean . . . Come on, Beverly . . . you wrote a paper on this very subject your fifth year . . . No, it was fourth year . . . I went to that barbeque on the beach with Sandra and Guillaume and those couple of interns, the brothers with the tremendous gastrocnemius muscles . . . I love volleyball . . . short shorts and objects in motion tend to stay in motion . . . it was hot that day . . .

“I beg your pardon?”

Beverly looked at the man who was looking at her. He seemed familiar.

“Did you say something about volleyballs?”

“No! . . I hope . . I mean I don’t think so. No! What did I, YOU say? Volleyball?”

“Forgive me, I thought YOU said volleyballs.”


Picard smiled his charming-est. “Getting back at me by drifting off on your own little shuttlecraft?”

Beverly took a quick sip of coffee, not so much from thirst, but to cover the blush she felt rising in her cheeks. “I guess I was off in my own little world. Chastisement humbly withdrawn.”

“Beverly, do you remember when Walker tried to . . .”

“Yellow Alert, Yellow Alert, all decks go to Yellow Alert. Captain Picard to the Bridge.” Data’s announcement coincided with the muted chime and soft lighting designed by Starfleet engineers and psychologists to alert and warn with a minimum of stress or apprehension. Of course, the complete opposite was true.

Picard spoke to the ceiling. “On my way. Excuse me, Doctor.” He leapt to his feet and headed for the door, inadvertently taking his napkin, plate and half eaten croissant halfway across the room before they finally hit the floor.

     Beverly took a different turbolift to her post on Deck 5. She knew that the Captain would order his lift non-stop to the bridge. A brief stop, even to let Doctor Crusher off at Sickbay could conceivably doom the entire ship.

     I’m doomed. Sneaking out was no problem. Getting back into the house without Nana hearing me is. She may be nearly 70 years old, but still had the hearing of a razorbeast. If I can just make it to the bathroom, I can clean up and get into bed and make it look like just a trip to the john. If I get caught at this, I’m dead and Anton is in jail . . . I don’t hear anything. Maybe Nana’s asleep. What a night! I just realized, Anton is exactly twice my age. Little what’s-his-name’s parents are around thirty. They always seem so old. But Anton, . . . Easy now, that one step creaks . . . oh, God, Anton . . . that coal black hair and icy blue eyes . . . he’s like someone in a holonovel . . . sexy, persuasive . . . Now wait, Beverly . . . he never asked for any of it, did he? . . . maybe he just made it seem like it was my idea . . . I did tell him I was eighteen, though . . . I’m in. That was too close. If Nana found out . . . It was worth it . . . I can’t tell anyone, though . . . but I touched my first penis tonight! . . . I wish I had let him . . . he was disappointed . . . he got to touch me though . . . his fingers were so warm as they moved up my skirt . . .

     The bridge turbolift doors slid open far too slowly for Picard’s taste. The usually well oiled machine known as the bridge crew seemed just a bit out of sync. Data was at Mission Ops One apparently taking over for a young crewmember who was standing nearby, but not paying attention to what the android was doing at his post. Troi was there as well, visibly upset, “plexing” behind her ear. “Report, Mr. Data.”

     “Curious, Captain. Several members of the bridge crew seemed to experience a short lapse of attention to duty. Within the space of four minutes, thirty-eight point two seconds, five bridge crew members became distracted and unresponsive for an average of thirty-seven point nine seconds each. I can find no cause for this phenomenon. Sickbay reports similar incidents all over the ship. So far, no one has been harmed and the ship is fully operational. We are in standard orbit of planet Darius Five, Sector Twenty-Two, Five-Zero-Seven.”

     Picard swung into his command chair with a well practiced ease. “Sickbay, this is the bridge.”

     “Sickbay, Doctor Selar.”

     That’s odd, Beverly should have arrived in Sickbay before I could have reached the Bridge. “I was looking for Doctor Crusher.” As it came out of his mouth, he realized it sounded rude. The Vulcan would not take it that way, though.

     Just as Selar was about to respond, Doctor Crusher came through the doors, adjusting her smock as she spoke. “Crusher here, Captain.”

     “Doctor, any explanation for the crew’s behavior?”

     Beverly took a quick sweeping glance around the room at the various bio-readouts. “All internal monitors show the crew’s physiological status to be normal. I’ll . . . I’ll do more tests and get back . . .”


     “GET BACK . . . to you . . . Crusher out.”

     Picard turned to Ensign Jemal at Science Station One. “Report on the planet.” He didn’t get an answer though, because Jemal had both palms between her knees, leaning back in her chair with her eyes closed. Data saw the situation and went to the station himself.

     “Class L, Captain. Barely habitable. Age: nine billion years. Most of the atmosphere and surface water has long since dissipated. I detect only primitive invertebrate lifeforms.”

     Counselor Troi, who up until now had been sitting nervously and introspective, suddenly and quickly rose. “Captain, I need you . . . need to see you . . . in private.”

     “In my ready room. Full sensor scan, Mr. Data. Get me some answers. No need to go to Red Alert unless this ‘situation’ becomes more serious. Counselor?” Picard and Troi entered his Sanctum. There was a strange mixture of ancient and ultramodern in the décor.

     As soon as the doors closed, Deanna’s shoulders slumped and she supported herself with one hand on the bulkhead. Picard started to move toward her and asked, “Are you alright, Deanna?”

     As he approached she contracted herself and drew her arms across her body as if to ward him off. Picard froze in his tracks. “I’m not sure. Captain, this may sound inappropriate, but it’s the truth. I am feeling . . . sexually exhausted.” Deanna dropped her chin and sat on the far end of the sofa with her legs curled under her in a protective manner.

     Picard realized to himself that the standard, “I beg your pardon?” would only force her to repeat it. He let her explain at her own pace.

     “For some reason, the general feeling of the crew has turned extremely . . . erotic.” Deanna squirmed on the sofa a bit before continuing. “There is always some of this on board at any one time, even in moments of crisis, but for the last twenty minutes or so, it has escalated. I wasn’t completely aware of it at first, so I’m not sure exactly when it started. I suppose not long after we dropped out of warp approaching this star system. It is definitely getting stronger now, just within the last minute. Captain . . . ? oooohhhhh!!!”

     Jenice did indeed love her silky materials. So this is what she meant by a birthday surprise . . . I suppose it was not the home cooked meal after all . . . This must be the dessert . . . that negligee is only supported by those two thin straps . . . just a flick of a finger would drop them from her shoulders . . . is that material blue or transparent . . . it changes as she moves . . . Sacre merde!, there is nothing under this . . . she is so very wet . . .

The wave of pure concentrated sexual stimulation that had just poured out of the Captain washed over the empathic Deanna like a tickling flow of warm water, wracking her body with a sudden, prolonged orgasm.   As the spasms subsided, so did the smile on Picard’s face. He shook his head slightly and saw a trembling Deanna clutching a throw pillow to her stomach and looking at him with eyes he had never seen.

“Counselor, what is going on here?” His voice was hushed and uncertain. He felt slightly out of control. Or was it more like . . . manipulated? No that’s not correct. It is more like I have been . . . used? . . . Yes, used.

“Captain, I just felt that, too. Some kind of . . . mind . . . or thought . . . is definitely . . .”

“Sickbay to Captain Picard.” The slightly distorted sound of Doctor Crusher’s voice came through the comm system.

Ah, Beverly, that voice has not changed in twenty years . . . a soothing whispery voice that has a way of evoking a promise of bliss, whether you know it or not.  

“Crusher to Picard, please respond.”

. . . lie back in the dark and simply listen to your voice while you . . . “Picard here.” The Captain cleared his throat and did his best to get back to an upright position. He had no idea how he had gotten otherwise. At the other end of the sofa, Deanna was brushing some hair out of her eyes and looking decidedly haggard.

     “Captain, after recalibrating the biomedical scanners, we are now picking up an emanation coming from the planet below.”

     This news definitely brought Picard back to duty. “A beam or a transmission of some kind?”

     Beverly’s intercom voice responded, “No, it does not originate from a single point. It seems to be coming from the large patches of the surface of the planet and is directed right at us. It is not artificial in nature. It more closely resembles the rudimentary telepathic emanations observed in non-humanoid species.”

     “Is it a message of some sort?” Picard asked.

     “I doubt it; too primitive. This type of emanation is usually associated with the instinctual, more primordial emotions of simple lifeforms. Whatever it is, it is affecting everyone on my staff. No one, including myself hasn’t had a short . . . lapse.”

     There are certain ‘primordial instincts’ that for years I have wanted to discuss with you, Beverly . . . ever since . . . CONCENTRATE!!! . . . “Doctor, is there anywhere on the planet where these emanations are more concentrated?”

     There was a long pause before Beverly responded. When she did, there was a huskiness to her voice; or was it just the com distortion? “Uh, right . . . checking . . . around the equatorial belt. That seems to be where the most lifeform readings are too, sparse as they are.”

     “Thank you, Doctor. Picard out. Come, Counselor.” Jean-luc rose purposely from the sofa and headed for the door in the same movement. Troi followed him slowly, her fists drawn up under her chin. She was also walking a little oddly.

     The Bridge was much as he had left it. About a third of his people definitely did not have their minds on their duties. “Mr. Data, any sign of Commander Riker?”

     The android replied in the same tone were he discussing Vulcan haiku, “I have attempted to contact him several times, Captain. He has responded twice, but each time he himself has broken contact before I can talk to him. The computer says he is in his quarters. I was about to send a security team, but this phenomenon is affecting their efficiency as well.”

     Riker would be overly susceptible to this, wouldn’t he? “Belay that, Mr. Data. I have a mission for you.”

     Lieutenant-Commander Data listened impassively (as always) as his Captain lined out what he wanted him to do. The briefing on the Bridge took forty-seven point three seconds for Picard to orally give his instructions. It took Data Zero point Zero Zero Zero Two Nine seconds to assimilate the orders and come up with an entire plan of action. That being done, he responded, as it should be with, “Aye, aye sir.”

     Shuttlecraft Banks descended through the wispy thin atmosphere of Darius Five. It was an ancient world; bleak, pitted, worn out. It showed indications of a rich past full of diverse lifeforms. No signs of artificial structures or intelligent life, however. This was a world that apparently had lived and died in eternal non-sentience. Data focused a tiny fraction of his computing power on guiding the shuttle’s descent, adjusting and recalibrating the ever-operating sensors and searching his library files for all references to reproductive methods of all known species.

Enterprise had taken a short warp jump after Data’s launch. Sitting at a comfortable point five light years from Darius, the emanations had ceased. Soon thereafter, the daydreams ceased, if not the aftereffects. In the ensuing eleven hours before the shuttle’s return, there were more than a few avoided glances and embarrassed apologies. Banks entered the shuttlebay with a precision that reflected its pilot.

 “Come.” The Observation Lounge’s door chime impossibly but somehow sounded like Data’s ring. Picard and the senior staff were present. The android entered promptly. “Report, Mr. Data.”

“It was a natural phenomenon, Captain. I discovered the source of the telepathic emanations. Actually, they discovered me. When the shuttle penetrated the atmosphere, sensors detected an increase of the energy directed at the shuttle and following it in its descent to the surface.”

Data stepped over to the display panel and brought up a file. It was a visual display of several obviously organic objects. They were shaped like upright, squat cucumbers; sponge-like in the way they clung to the rocks. Data changed the display to a close-up of a single organism. It was about a half meter in diameter with seven short leathery appendages arranged radially around its base. These “feet” would quiver slightly and move the whole creature laboriously only a few centimeters. They seemed capable of very limited movement only.

“This is a specimen of the most advanced remaining life form on the planet. In essence, I made First Contact with the dominant species on this world.” Data saw his attempt at humor had its usual effect, so he continued with his report. “These creatures, and a few lower, even simpler forms are all that remain of life on this planet. It has had a long history of varied life forms, but no sign of sentience. The now extinct higher forms reproduced in a manner consistent with what we are familiar with.”

Data referred to the sponge. “These creatures existed in a symbiotic relationship with the mammalian life. They emanated a slight telepathic aura out to a certain range. It was on a primitive ‘wavelength,’ more akin to an instinctual mating urge than a focused communication. This had the effect of stimulating pathways and encouraging the production of endorphins in the mammals’ brains, resulting in an artificial stimulation of sexual desire.”

     There were several aborted glances back and forth between all Humans, Betazoids, Klingons and Androids in the room. Data continued quickly, “In return, the creatures ‘fed’ as it were, off the empathic feelings of pleasure created by the other animal. These feelings were converted to nutrients, much as a plant converts sunlight to chlorophyll. Evidently, the more highly developed the brain of the animal, the more capable it was of providing the sexual nutrients that the sponges need. This energy is also used for asexual reproduction, although that takes a great deal of stored nutrients which is now scarce. Over the eons, as the planet aged, the higher life forms began to become extinct. As the sources for nutrients became less and less, the sponges evolved more and more powerful telepathic emanations to attract any mind they could. Eventually, these emanations even developed to the point where they are reaching out into space to a distance of more than ten A.U.’s. A passing alien ship filled with highly developed mammalian brains capable of sexual desire would be a highly concentrated source of valuable nutrients. I found evidence that the creatures had only recently received a healthy dose. They seem to be in excellent health and . . . very well fed at the present time. Apparently, contact with the Enterprise crew more than adequately provided for their …  needs.”

     The briefing continued in detail and resulted in resumption of normal operations. The remainder of the planetary survey was accomplished at a distance with unmanned probes.

     “Can I ask you something, Jean-luc?”

     “Believe me, you have my complete attention”

     Beverly leaned over the breakfast table, “Warm up your coffee?”

     “A bit more over-dramatic buildup than I would have given it.”

     Beverly smiled, “Very funny. Here’s the question. It seems the sponges were stimulating the recall of past sexual experiences. My question is, how was it for you? Actually, what I mean is, er . . . I ask as Chief Medical Officer . . . Did you experience or feel anything that could possibly affect your performance as Captain?” She usually considered herself to be a fairly decent poker player, as her colleagues could attest to. The poker face Beverly now adopted was the best she had ever produced.

     Picard’s was equally skillful as he replied, “Nothing of any consequence . . . just a few harmless tidbits from the past.”

     “That’s good to hear.” Beverly turned her attention to her breakfast.

     As her eyes left his, and as soon as it was safe to do so, Picard’s gaze lingered on the curve of Beverly’s breasts beneath her uniform.

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