Title: All I Ask Is a Tall Shrimp and a Fork to Eat Her WithGenre: Action/Adventure, HumorTime Period: 2373Characters: Willard Decker, OC: Lace ChristensenSummary: Following his return to normal space after nearly a century of noncorporeal existence, Willard Decker has been granted the captaincy of USS Cerulean. But as he ponders an upcoming mission to Romulan space, Decker discovers that even a quiet meal is too much to ask for the captain of a Federation starship. Author’s Note: This story is set during the events of the Deep Space 9 episode “Ties of Blood and Water” and is a response to the "Fifty Sentence Challenge." Captain Willard Decker was convinced life had it in for him. But as he waited for the bartender to pour a second glass of Romulan ale, the Starfleet officer took a moment to appreciate one of the few simple pleasures his existence afforded him. The Twine was a small but popular establishment aboard the small starbase at which his vessel- the USS Cerulean- was docked and was one of the few Federation restaurants in the vicinity of the Romulan Neutral Zone that served authentic Earth seafood. Decker chewed a piece of shrimp scampi as he perused an updated copy of the week’s duty roster via the small computer console resting on the table in front of him. Although he would often counsel his officers to avoid mixing business with pleasure, the captain was on a tight schedule and had no wish to fall behind in his work merely because his stomach refused to do without. The Cerulean’s mission would take the ship near Romulan territory, and Decker had no wish to see his longtime adversaries get the drop on him as they had the USS Lexington. Suppressing a shudder, he put thoughts of his demise aside and focused instead on enjoying his meal. He didn’t even bother to glance at the strange creature that seemed to slither into the seat nearest his. Nor did he notice the columns of security personnel marching in parallel down a nearby corridor. More monumental tasks such as devouring his shrimp took precedence. Which was why he didn’t like what happened next. Decker would later tell his Andorian first-officer, Commander Thelin, that it almost defied belief. The degree of difficulty of such a maneuver was probably greater than what any human could overcome, but for the individual adjacent to Decker, it was barely child’s play to flick the captain’s seafood plate from the countertop and onto the floor below. The captain’s reflexes were well above-average for his species, however, enabling him to avoid the steaming mess with a half-gallop away from his barstool. The same couldn’t be said for the parasol adorning the wall behind him. Decker collided with the object in what no one could deny was an accident, sending the umbrella-like contraption to the floor as well. Other patrons had turned at the sound of dishes crashing and could only watch in disbelief as the guilty party bounded from his perch and started toward the exit. The creature’s apparent cowardice and lack of social graces was enough to set Decker’s already simmering anger aflame. The captain started after the strange alien prepared to tear its body asunder. Reaching toward his wrist communicator, he spoke into the small comm device, alerting Cerulean security forces to join him on the starbase. The station had its own security personnel, of course, but Decker knew that sufficient manpower with which to fund his pursuit of the offending extraterrestrial would not be available unless he provided it himself. Starfleet seems happy as long as it can scrape by, he thought to himself. But support or no, Decker was hardly a novice. If he could return to the bridge of a starship after more than a century of noncorporeal existence- a reunion that was proceeding much more smoothly than anticipated- catching a petty criminal would prove extremely small by comparison. Decker’s brief reverie was interrupted by the chirping of his communicator and the gravelly voice of his new deputy security chief, a recently transfer from the USS Amaranth. He listened patiently to the Bajoran before confirming their plan to capture the unidentified alien, adding, “Decker out.” The captain quickly closed the distance between himself and the alien, his confidence that his men would be able to snare the creature increasing with each passing moment. His plan to surround the man- if he was a man- with multiple teams was hardly original but would most likely lead to his capture without delay. Even a minor skirmish aboard the station was something Decker hoped to avoid. All the more reason to catch the offender quickly and surrender him to the custody of starbase authorities. They could take care of the matter, leaving Decker to return to the Cerulean. His rank granted him the authority to serve as an officer of the court in an emergency, but the captain had more pressing concerns than mere legal formalities. The responsibilities of Starfleet’s JAG office had yet to seduce him- if that was even the proper term for it. And since his rebirth and return to normal space, Decker had found that he was not content with administrative duties. Rules and regulations were important, but he found them as mysterious and labyrinthine as most people did Vulcan brain-teasers. Decker slowed his pace as he watched one of his officers wrap the alien in a bear-hug and threw the creature to the ground. Reaching for his hand-phaser with his right hand, he motioned with his left for the remaining officers to frame the area around the creature to prevent an escape. He was grateful he did not have to entreat them further by repeating his orders. He was also pleased that one of his officers had moved to secure the entrance to a nearby gaming establishment, thus minimizing the possibility of any civilians being placed at risk were the creature to evade the nearly dozen Starfleet personnel on hand. Lieutenant Lace Christensen, his chief of security, moved to stand at the area’s relative center before speaking. Her voice smooth as silk, she addressed her commanding officer. “Your assailant has been apprehended, Captain. Would you like me to have him transported to our brig?” Decker shook his head, pushing aside the stray thought of why Christensen always smelled like fresh linen. Tapping his leather boot on the carpet below him, he spun in a semi-circle before answering. “We’ve a plethora of tasks to complete before our mission gets underway, Lieutenant. The station’s security forces can investigate, something that I’m sure will be the highlight of their day. An inquiry shouldn’t take more than an hour, but we don’t have even that much time. My chief concern was preventing the situation from escalating at the last minute, which we’ve accomplished. I’ll recount the entirety of this incident in my log to aid the investigation. Testimony of even one senior officer should more than sufficient to encompass the details of what happened: you and your men will stand down. ” Satisfied, Decker turned and walked quickly in the opposite direction, intent on keeping the promise he’d made to himself earlier, that he would enjoy his seafood platter to the fullest extent before returning to his place among the stars. The End.