Starcruiser Anonymous

A Deleted Segment
From Episode 20

This was intended to preceed the attack on the rebel base, but it slowed down the action too much and, well, Episode 20 ran a bit long….

When you get right down to it, walking is a pretty boring activity. It’s no surprise, really. Every day, people spend time walking. They’re used to it; it doesn’t even register on their consciousness. That’s because there’s nothing to register, hence the boredom. Although one can’t discount hiking, which many people claim to enjoy, few would say they enjoy it for the walking aspect. Most likely, it’s the scenery or the company they enjoy. But without scenery, there is nothing for the mind to occupy itself with aside from the walking, which isn’t very mentally taxing.

Technically, those members of the Green and Black Squadrons that Rick Hydrospok had talked into finding Beth Gaelen were not just randomly walking around. They were searching. They had even split into pairs in an attempt to speed up that searching. The problem lay in the twin facts that (1) they had an enormous volume to search, and (2) they were looking for a large, easily recognizable thing: a terrorist base. As a result, the searching aspect mostly comprised keeping an eye out for anything terrorist-like while covering ground.

In short, they were walking. They had been walking the entire day and showed no sign of stopping. Dave Menéndez had almost forgotten how long they had walked. Occasionally, he would calculate it, using his wristwatch for precision to the minute. Then he would calculate how long it had been since the last time he checked. He made a game of it: see how long he could last without checking his watch, and then try to beat that record. It wasn’t an especially exciting game, but it helped distract him—and he wanted nothing more than to be distracted. Not so much from the walking, really, as from the singing.

“—this is the search that never ends,” sang George Daniels. “Yes, it goes on and on, my friends. We went to find our comrade Beth, not knowing where she was. I guess we’ll keep on wandering forever, just because this is the search that never ends—”

It had taken Daniels some time to figure out lyrics that fit the melody, and he evidently wanted to make as much use of them as he could. His colleague, on the other hand, had grown tired of the song after the fifth repetition or so, and had grown to like it even less as time went by.

“—it goes on and on, my friends. We went to find our comrade Beth, not knowing where she was. I guess we’ll keep on wandering forever, just because—”

If this keeps up, thought Menéndez darkly, I may scream.

Elsewhere, Roy Gaelen and Rick Hydrospok were making their way back to the rendezvous point. They hadn’t found any sign of Beth, but they remained hopeful. That is, Hydrospok remained hopeful. Roy hadn’t been all that hopeful to begin with, despite Hydrospok’s best efforts.

“Fear not,” he had said in an earlier attempt to raise Roy’s spirits, “although we haven’t a clear idea of your sister’s whereabouts, we can be certain she is on this ship somewhere. Compared with our search for the Blue Squadron, this is nothing! We are the mighty Green Squadron, after all. ‘Impossible’ is not a word we acknowledge.”

Roy hadn’t seemed too convinced.

They persevered, Hydrospok’s inspiring words ringing in their ears. Eventually, the echo faded out and they continued in silence down the endless hallways. This portion of the ship was evidently devoted to storage, and the corridors were long and straight and doors were few and far between. Any one could conceivably contain the renegade base, so they made certain to check every room they came across. To avoid getting lost or covering the same ground twice, Hydrospok had brought a large ball of yarn; its thread trailed behind them, marking the path they had taken.

Eventually, they reached the rendezvous point. It was an old room whose purpose was now unknown. It’s location and convenient access to multiple levels and sections suggested a security station of some sort, or possibly a coffee room. Any equipment which might have provided corroborating evidence had long since been removed, leaving only the light gray carpeting and a broken chair. The walls and ceiling were simple and undecorated, save for four pieces of what seemed to be masking tape arranged at the corners of an enigmatic rectangle. What could it mean? Hydrospok wondered, but these were not questions he dared to ask.

“It seems we have arrived first,” he commented, noting that the room was empty. Roy shrugged and returned to his own thoughts. From the expression on his face, Hydrospok judged that Roy was still concerned and resolved to cheer him up. “Cheer up,” he said, “let’s have a seat and wait for the others.” Roy glanced at the broken chair, and then moved to join Hydrospok by the wall opposite the main entrance. “You look concerned,” Hydrospok noted, after it became clear that merely sitting wasn’t enough to improve his companion’s mood.

“I feel like we’re wasting our time,” Roy explained.

“I know exactly how you feel, for I feel the same way,” Hydrospok confided, “but we cannot leave the others behind, nor can we walk forever without rest.” He placed an arm around Roy’s shoulder. “Although my heart cries out against it, we must wait, coming no closer to freeing your sister, until we have all gathered again and rested. You too must temporarily set aside the search for now—though every fibre in your body condemns you for it—so that we may search more thoroughly in the future. Truly, this time is not going to waste, for—”

“That’s not what I meant,” Roy cut in. “The search itself is a waste of time.”

Hydrospok recoiled. “What?” he gasped. “You would abandon your sister, whom we respect and admire, to the sinister plots of the renegades? I cannot believe that you—or anyone in the Green Squadron—would be so low.”

“I never thought someone could be too low for the Green Squadron,” Roy didn’t say. Therefore, Hydrospok reasoned, someone else must have said it. He turned to look at the main entrance and saw Marshall Stanford standing in the doorway, smirking.

“On the contrary,” Hydrospok said evenly, “the Green Squadron is quite high.”

“If you say so.” Stanford stepped into the room, placed his pack on the floor, and began to rummage around in it. “I take it you two were unsuccessful?” he asked, pulling out a foodstick.

“No less successful than you, it would seem,” Hydrospok replied mildly. “I wonder—How long will our rations last if people keep eating between meals?”

Stanford froze in the act of unsealing the wrapper. Growling, he stuffed it back into the pack. “There,” he said, “happy?”

“How could I be happy when the object of our search remains in the hands of villains? Even her brother has no care for her safety, it seems.”

Roy bristled, but instead asked Stanford: “Where’s Masaki?”

Stanford blinked. “She was with me a moment ago,” he said. He stepped back into the hallway. “What are you doing out here?” he asked someone beyond the doorway (presumably Amy Masaki).

“Listen,” came the quiet reply. “Do you hear singing?”


“—forever just because, this is the search that never—”


Stanford nearly jumped. “What was that?” he asked, more out of habit than anything else. He knew a scream when he heard it.

“It sounded like a cry of Ultimate Frustration,” replied Masaki.

“Oh?” Stanford asked. He hadn’t been aware that they could be distinguished by sound. “How do you know?”

Masaki shrugged. “It’s a knack.”

“Can it be taught?”

“No. Only learned.”

Stanford frowned. He didn’t feel like decoding one of Masaki’s cryptic answers. One irritating failure a day was enough for him; there was no need to seek new ones. With that in mind, he went to rejoin the others. He sensed rather than heard Masaki trailing behind him.

“It sounds like Menéndez and Daniels will be joining us soon,” he announced.

“They’d best hurry,” Hydrospok said, glaring at Roy. “After all, it wouldn’t do to waste time.”

“All I meant was that we have more important things to do,” Roy protested. “We’ll be arriving at Arorua soon. We may be needed.”

“How sad to learn your loyalty is so frail,” Hydrospok said. “I had assumed you were at least fond of your sister.”

Roy made an annoyed noise and stalked off.

(“Moderate Irritation,” Masaki whispered to Stanford.

“Only moderate?”

“It’s a big scale.”)

Stanford turned to Hydrospok. “I must note,” he said, “that I remain in awe of your people skills.”

“Thank you,” Hydrospok replied, “but I am too upset to appreciate your praise right now.”

Before Stanford could decide what Hydrospok had meant by that, another pair of searchers rejoined the group. They both looked annoyed, although Daniels’s expression shifted into his usual cheerful self on seeing the others. Menéndez, on the other hand, was scowling so hard one could almost see a stormcloud hovering over him. Stanford resolved not to ask about it; anything that got Menéndez that upset had to be pretty trivial.

“Have you met with any success?” Hydrospok asked. Daniels shook his head. Menéndez just grumbled something under his breath and set his pack against the wall. “You also wish to abandon the search?” Hydrospok asked Menéndez.

“I just don’t want to hear that song again,” Menéndez said. “I can still hear it in my mind... it won’t stop! Make it stop!” With visible effort, he pulled himself together and curled up by the wall, muttering “the horror... the horror” quietly to himself. Daniels sniffed and grumbled something about philistines.

Why was it, Stanford wondered, that his squadron got the nutcases?

“What now?” Daniels asked. “Have we heard anything from Winters and Losar?”

“Not yet,” Masaki told him. “Nor do we have a plan, should they also turn up empty handed.”

“That sort of pessimism is what poisons our efforts!” Hydrospok declared.

“How so?” Roy demanded. “They’re not gonna suddenly undiscover them just because we had doubts. What is so wrong about preparing for the worst?”

“We should spend our energy preventing the worst from happening.”

“And how do you propose to do that? Think positive thoughts?”

“We could all try envisioning Winters and Losar finding the renegades,” Daniels suggested. He sat cross-legged on the floor, put his hands to his temples, and began to chant softly.

“I was not aware of your spiritual pursuits,” Hydrospok said, taking a seat by his squad-mate. Daniels stopped chanting and sighed.

“That was supposed to be a joke,” he said.


With Daniels somehow having calmed Hydrospok, the room fell into silence. Near-silence, actually. “Is someone humming?” Stanford asked.

“Sorry,” Menéndez replied.

“I thought you didn’t like that song.”

“I don’t, but it’s insidiously catchy.”

“If you didn’t like it,” Daniels noted, “you might have mentioned something a few hours ago.”

“Feh,” Menéndez spat. He took a bite out of his foodstick and chewed sullenly.

“What?” Stanford exclaimed. “Eating between meals? I’ll have you know we only have a few days supply of those.”

Menéndez seemed unimpressed. “That estimate includes occasional snacking.”

“Is that so?” He gave the foodstick a speculative look and flashed a smug grin to Hydrospok. “Then I believe I will join you.”

Menéndez shrugged and tossed him another foodstick. Stanford opened the wrapper and bit in with a pleasure he seldom associated with the dry, virtually flavor-free rations. Hunger was a fine sauce, to be sure, but even petty revenge was sweet. That accomplished, all he needed was something to turn the conversation away from their mission.

“We’re hee-ere!” cried Sally Winters as she burst into base camp. Behind her was Stan Losar, who looked as close to being happy as Stanford had ever seen him.

“You’re looking cheery,” Daniels commented.

“Guess what we found,” Winters teased.

“The renegades?” Hydrospok asked, hope rekindled in his eyes. Even Roy was paying attention now.

Winters’s smile grew wider. “Got it in one, chief.”

“This is excellent news!” Hydrospok cried, leaping to his feet. “And on that note let us go forth and meet our destiny! Green Squadron, forward!”