Mission 12: WHERE THE SPINDIZZY FLUTTERS
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The message from Fleet Admiral Daniel Evans was succinct: "Be in
my office with Stryker at 1000." When Captain T.E. Lawrence and
Commander Stryker arrived, the Admiral’s aide locked the door behind
them. Lawrence looked at Stryker and raised an eyebrow in surprise.
"Sit down, T.E., Stryker." His voice was unusually serious, his
face haggard. When the two were seated, Evans put his hands together
and leaned forward. "This briefing is not classified Top Secret.
It’s so far above Top Secret that even I shouldn’t know about it." A
smile flickered across his face and then just as quickly
disappeared. "Nothing you hear in this room can be discussed with
anyone, anyone. Do you both understand?"
Stryker and Lawrence nodded. Admiral Evans got a faraway look on
"In the folklore of every space-faring race known to the
Federation, there is one myth that is, with but minor differences,
common to each: A planet of unparalleled beauty, with clear skies,
perfect weather, lush vegetation, and precious jewels to be had just
by bending down and picking them up—a world of peace and euphoria.
The people who inhabit this world stand but a foot tall, are
humanoid, and have wings."
"Spindizzies?" Lawrence asked. "You’re talking about the
Spindizzy, aren’t you?"
Evans nodded and reached for a button on his desk. "What I am
about to show you has been seen by only 10 people in the Federation.
You two make the number an even dozen." He pressed the button and a
holograph sprang into life above the desk.
The figure was a perfectly formed, miniature female with short,
jet-black hair and black eyes. A pair of fragile, filigreed,
iridescent wings moved slowly back and forth as she stood with her
hands on her hips.
"A Spindizzy!" Stryker said in awe. "By all the ancient Gods of
Asgard and Telashius, a Spindizzy!" He almost didn’t notice she
wasn’t wearing clothes. Almost. In a soft voice, he quoted:
"There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt
of in your philosophy."
Evans nodded. "Shakespeare was right again. Yes, Commander, a
Spindizzy. Unfortunately, we have a problem, or, rather, they do."
Evans’ chuckle was mirthless. "We both do."
"What’s the problem?" Lawrence asked, her eyes glued to the
"As best we can figure out, they’re being attacked and enslaved.
Their speech is a complicated interweave of vocal music, hand
movements, body language and, we think, telepathy and empathy. We
know that this female is LoriLynn, or ‘The Lorilynn’."
"Or?" Stryker’s eyes didn’t move.
"It’s either her name or her position, or both. We’re not sure.
Our linguists are having nervous breakdowns. All we know is that the
Spindizzy believe themselves in mortal danger. The only time the
Spindizzy reacted to anything being said to them was when they saw a
picture of a phoenix."
Lawrence turned her head slowly and fastened her eyes on his.
"I see you’re beginning to understand."
"And that’s where we come in?" T. E. asked suspiciously.
"And that’s where you come in." Evans rubbed his bloodshot eyes.
"We’re hoping that they’ll be willing to communicate with someone in
your crew aboard the PHOENIX." He sighed. "There are so many things
we want to know—must know. You," Evans pointed a finger at
Lawrence. "Are going to take them back to their planet. To
Spindizzy. Along the way, you’re going to find out everything you
can about them. And when you get to Spindizzy you’re going to
provide them with complete protection, find out who is attacking
them, and make them stop."
"What are our Rules of Engagement?" Stryker asked.
"The President of the Federation has taken a personal interest in
this. I believe his exact words were, "shoot first and ask questions
later.’ The gloves are off, T.E. No rules, no guidance. Do
whatever you need do. No matter what happens, you will have
predated orders signed by the President himself directing you to
specifically take whatever actions you find it necessary to take. If
you find you need additional forces, you will have them at emergency
Her eyes grew even larger.
Evans smiled. "Yes, I know. As far as I can discover, no
Starfleet captain has ever been given such total and complete
carte blanche. You do. When you’re finished, Spindizzy will be an
impregnable fortress, the attackers will be gone—forever—and you
will know everything there is to know about the Spindizzies."
"Come back with your shield or upon it?"
"Something like that."
"And what do we let the Spindizzies know about us?" Stryker
"During this mission, Captain Lawrence, Commander Stryker, the
Prime Directive does¾ not¾
exist. Once you have established communications with the
Spindizzy, you will tell them anything and everything they wish to
know. You will give them complete, total cooperation; instantly and
Evans leaned forward. "This is the most important mission of your
lives. It may be the most important mission in the history of the
Lawrence turned back to the hologram. "No pressure there,
"One evening many years ago, when I was still a
wet-behind-the-ears lieutenant," Stryker mused. "I went into a bar
on Procyon IV. It wasn’t much of a bar, just a hole in the wall. In
fact," Stryker smiled at the memory, "that was it’s name: The Hole
in the Wall. There was the usual comfort girls sitting at a table in
the corner and at the bar was the resident drunk. I ordered a drink
and took it to a table. At the sound of my chair scraping on the
floor, the wizened old man got off his stool and stumbled over. He
looked at me with bleary eyes and asked, ‘Did I ever tell you about
the most erotic sight I’ve ever seen in my life?’
"His choice of words got my attention. He peered closely at me,
then shook his head. ‘No, I guess not.’ He smiled slyly. ‘Buy me a
drink and I’ll tell you the story.’
"The young girl who had commandeered the other chair at my table
laughed. ‘Not that old story again, Charlie! Go away. You’re
bothering a paying customer.’ She started to shoo him away. I
grabbed her arm.
"’No, wait,’ I said. ‘I want to hear this. Get him a drink.’
"Chandra (I think that was her name) sighed, then pouted, her
hands on her hips. ‘And what about me?’
"’You can tell me about your most erotic sight after
Charlie does.’ I nodded. ‘Alright, get drinks for both of you.’
"Charlie grinned, captured a chair, and slid it to the table.
‘Thankee, Captain, thankee.’
"Chandra came back to the table, a glass in each hand. Charlie
grabbed his and downed it in one gulp, belched, and sighed. ‘Good!’
He sat the glass down on the table. ‘Another one, Capt’n? Story
tellin’ is a dry business.’
"’The story, Charlie. The story first, then another drink.’
Charlie looked mournfully at the empty glass, then began to
"’I was the Loadmaster on the old Shiitake Maru many, many
years ago. We left¾ ’ Charlie frowned.
‘Why can’t I ever remember where we were going?’ It sounded like a
rhetorical question he had asked many times before. He shrugged his
shoulders. ‘Anyway, we ran into an ion storm which almost broke the
old girl in two. For three weeks we careened through space, fighting
desperately to repair the damage. We finally got the Shiitake
under control and found ourselves on the edge of a star system that
didn’t match anything in our navigation database. There were 11
planets in the system. The fifth one was the only M Class of the
bunch so we headed for it.’
"’I was a pretty good shuttle pilot in my day, so the Captain
sent me down with three others to replenish our depleted stores.’
Charlie looked at his empty glass, then back to me.
"’Chandra, one more for all of us,’ I said. This time Charlie
sipped. It was interesting how his language continued to improve as
the story continued.
"’It was a beautiful planet." Charlie got an almost mystical look
on his face. "The air was clean, like a spring day just after a
shower. And it was green, so lush and green that it almost hurt your
eyes to look around. Tall trees, splashing rivers, and mountains
that caressed the deep-blue sky.’
"’On the bank of a stream, I saw a pretty stone and picked it up.
It was black, even blacker than space. And warm.’ Charlie’s hand
twitched as though he were holding something.
"’When I held it close to my eyes, I could see eternity inside,
stretching out before me—endlessly. And I was happy. Happier than I
had ever been in my life. I stared at that stone for what must have
been an hour until an arpeggio of clear, bright sound took my breath
away. I looked up—and there she was.’
"Charlie reached for his glass, threw his head back, and emptied
it. I was caught up in the story and motioned for Chandra to get us
refills, my eyes not leaving Charlie’s face.
"’What did you see, Charlie?’ I asked softly.
"The smile on Charlie’s face could only be described as beatific.
‘I saw her. She hovered right in front of me, her wings
nothing more than a blur, her head cocked to one side.’ He held his
hand above the table. ‘She was only this tall, with the kind of
perfect body that you only see in your dreams. Her hair was black,
as black as the stone I held in my hand. Suddenly, right next to
her, appeared another one—a male. His body was as perfectly formed
"Chandra snorted, but Charlie didn’t seem to notice.’ I shushed
her with a hand.
"The aura coming from the two of them was so intense I felt my
chest tighten with its sensuality. They began to dart around each
other. She would streak away and he would follow. Up and down and
around they flew, faster and faster until she let him catch her.
They mated, their wings beating so fast they were almost invisible.
I felt as though I were a part of their act and cried out in joy as
the intensity of the experience drove me to my knees.’
"Charlie’s face took on a look of longing, almost of pain. ‘The
mating flight of a Spindizzy is an experience that has filled my
every waking moment since that day so very, very long ago.’
"Chandra’s derisive laugh broke the spell. ‘Spindizzy! The only
thing that’s filled your every waking moment, Charlie, is booze.
Your brain is pickled. There’s no such thing as a Spindizzy, and no
"With a hurt look, Charlie leaned forward and whispered to me.
‘You find ‘em, Capt’n. You find Spindizzy and when you do, then
you’ll see. It’ll stay in your heart and in your mind for the rest
of your life.’"
After a long silence, Stryker murmured, "Wherever you are
Charlie, I apologize for ever doubting you."
The three officers didn’t speak for several minutes, each lost in
their own thoughts, their eyes following every movement of the tiny
"There is one other thing we know about a Spindizzy."
"Oh?" Lawrence looked at the Admiral.
"They like cheese."
"Cheese?" Lawrence repeated, surprise in her voice.
Evans nodded with a smile. "Cheddar, to be exact."