I don’t know why, in the midst of a California quake, my instinct was to upload to Beta’s SMN server, but here I am. In uniform. Sitting at the conn aboard the starship Enterprise (or a pretty darned accurate mod thereof). I look over at ops, where Beta has hooked up a Playstation controller to his console. He’s playing Super Metroid on the main viewscreen. Other than the two of us, the bridge is empty.

“Welcome aboard, Ensign Ivanovich,” Beta greets without taking his eyes off the game. “What do you think of the Enterprise-D?”

I swivel around in my chair. “Pretty legit.”

“I’ve been working on it in my spare time. The lower decks still need to be done, sickbay’s a mess, but all the other important bullet points are finished. The bridge, engineering, Ten Forward, transporter room 3, the holodeck—”

“Wait—the holodeck? So, like, a server within a server?”

Beta shrugs. “It just uploads you to other SMN servers at the moment.” He reaches a save station, then puts down his controller, stretches in his seat. “What brings you to my humble abode, little dude?”

Not about to reveal that an earthquake scared me virtual, I shrug and say, “I just wanted to see where you hang out when you’re, uh…hanging out.” Frowning down at my gray acting ensign’s uniform: “How come I’m doing the Wesley Crusher thing?”

“Not a Wes fan?”

“I don’t know. He was okay, I guess.”

“Don’t go hating on the Crusher.”

“He had potential,” I say, “but his story arc wound up being meh in the end. Like, he was supposed to be the boy genius, right? Nerdy, kind of an outcast, had a single mom, was always trying to fit in with the adults, trying to prove himself. You’ve got these great ingredients for a character—but somewhere between seasons two and three of TNG, Wes skipped confident and went straight to cocky. He acted like this entitled rich white boy flying Starfleet’s luxury cruise-liner for kicks. I mean, ‘I always get an A’? Calling Barclay ‘Broccoli’? Killing Cadet Albert while at the Academy just so he could fit in with the cool crowd? Throwing a temper tantrum and following the Traveler into eternity because mere mortality wasn’t good enough for him? Dick.”

Beta looks disappointed. “I knew it.”

“Knew what?”

“You do hate Wesley Crusher.”

“I don’t hate…I mean, I guess I wish…sometimes he just seems like…” I sigh. “Yeah. I hate Wesley Crusher.”

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Published by

Jesse Gordon

Geek. Writer. Supreme overlord of the SUPERMEGANET pseudoverse. Author of THE OATMEAL MAN, DOOKIE, and other such wasteful nonsense.