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The Tribbled Spirit

Authors: Kayleen
Categories: Comedy, Tony/Maya
Characters: Maya, Tony Verdeschi
Show Year: Y3
Rating: PG-13
Date: 2001
The Alphans experiment with gene splicing on their laboratory animals. The result - the galaxy's first tribbles. With apologies to David Gerrold.
Average Rating: No reviews.

"What in the heck is that?" Commander John Koenig asked Victor Bergman and Maya after he spotted a furry, brown and white, hamster-sized ball in the science lab; a result of a gene splicing experiment.

"A Guinea pig gave birth to it a few days ago. It's a combination of genes from a Guinea pig, rat, dwarf rabbit, teddy-bear hamster, and hedge hog. It should grow to the size of a Guinea pig." Maya answered as she picked up the creature and held it closer to John. "Isn't it adorable?"

"Where did you get the hamster and hedge hog? I didn't know we had any of those in the lab." John asked.

Victor replied, "Kami Ellerson smuggled them as pets onto the base when she was assigned here. Had we found out before we left orbit, we would have been pretty upset and she would have been sent back. But now we're sure glad she brought them."

"I don't see any signs of a hedge hog in it." John noted.

"The hedge hog genes are what give it the tiny face and makes it curl up into a ball. But this thing doesn't seem to ever 'uncurl'." answered Victor.

"What made you guys think of this thing, anyway?" John asked.

"We only have a limited number of different species for laboratory animals." Maya explained. "After a number of generations of in-breeding, we'll eventually see defects and mutations and later, they'll die out. We've been experimenting with different combinations of genes so there will be more variety among the species. We're hoping that this will provide the meat quality of a rabbit, the durability of a rat, fur that can be spun into yarns for clothing, and an effective digestive system so its wastes can be easily composted for growing vegetation. It also came with one extra bonus."

"What's that?" John asked.

"They're so darn cute." Victor answered.

"So, what do you call it?" John asked.

"We haven't really thought of anything yet." Victor replied. "Kami's hamster's name is Mr. Tribble. So, for now, we're just calling it a tribble."

"Do you only have one?"

"Yes, unfortunately. One was born a few weeks ago, but it didn't live very long. So far, it looks like the Guinea pig can only carry one at a time and all the embryos are female." Victor informed. "Usually, when you cross genes that are too different, the off-spring is sterile. Like when you cross a horse with a donkey and get a mule. However, Maya knows some of Psychon's molecular-level genetic engineering methods, so we've been able to do things with it that we've never done before. We may even be able to get this to reproduce on its own. Our next step is to try to produce some male embryos." Victor paused. "By the way, John. What brings you here?"

"Soap." John answered.


"Yes. The supply officers told me that were getting close to running out of soap."

"I thought you'd never want to see soap again after the incident with all the foam." Victor added.

"Well, we can't have everyone on the base smelling like a bunch of sweaty ball-players. We have to recycle this air, you know." John replied.

"So, what can I do for you?"

"We need some soap formulas and I thought you and the chemists could come up with something."

"Who will be making this soap?" asked Maya.

"We're still working on that. The Chaplain Rachel Spencer suggested we have a soap making party. We'll turn it into some fun and get everyone involved."

"Well, it should be easy to come up with some formulas." said Victor. "We could also look into some history archives and literature to see how our ancestors made it. First, we should get some ashes from the incinerator for lye and have the botanists and the kitchen gather glycerine, fats, and oils."

"I'll get them on that right away." replied John. "We'll be having an officers' meeting to discuss how we'll do this. I want you there."

"Certainly, John." Victor answered.

John met Helena in the Medical Center lab to go to the officers' meeting to plan a soap-making party. Victor had just brought her a basket of Guinea pig-sized tribbles.

"More tribbles?" John asked Helena when he saw the half-dozen creatures.

"Yes. Victor had me take some here. There's a chance they could be used for medical experiments or treatments. If we have any diabetics, they could be used for insulin. We may be able to get hormones from them for birth control, or use their skin for condoms. There are many possibilities"

"But just last week, the science lab had only one." John noted.

"Our experiments to produce more were successful and one even gave birth to its own litter." Victor replied.

"Are you really going to use them for medical experiments?"

"Well, right now, there's just no way I could hurt such a cute, little thing." said Helena.

"I know." John sighed. "They're adorable."

Helena pointed to them one by one, "This one is Kitty, this is Bunny, this one is Cinnamon, and this is Ginger, and Mary-Ann, and this one is Spot." She picked up a brindled puff and held it to her cheek. "How is my witto twibbo-kins." Helena spoke to the tribble. "My witto twibbo is sooooo pwetty. Yes, aren't you a cute, pwetty, witto twibbo." The tribble purred. "Is my witto twibbo-boo hungwy? I better feed my witto twibbo-boo." Helena took some bread crusts out of a container and put them in the basket.

"If they keep producing like this, the kitchen will be able to use them with some rabbit stew recipes." said Victor.

"Well, I'm not a vegetarian, and can understand using animals, even rabbits for meat. But I still don't see how anyone could cook one of these cute, little tribbles?" said John.

"Well, you could bake it, broil it, fry it, stir fry it, barbecue it, shishkabob it, make tribble soup, tribble chop suey, sweet and sour tribble..." Victor rambled as he rubbed his chin and looked towards the ceiling. "...tribble chow mein, tribble pot pie..."

"Oh, but I'm not going to talk about doing that to my witto twibbo." Helena held the furball in her hand, petted it, and blew kisses to it.

"We better get going, Helena." John reminded her. "We don't want to be late for the officers' meeting."

"Okay, I'm ready." Helena put the tribble back in the basket. "Bye, bye, my witto twibbo-kins. Mommy go, babies stay."

"...tribble salad, tribble cold cuts, tribble sandwich,..." Victor continued as John and Helena headed to the door. "...tribble meatloaf, tribble linguini, tribble casserole..."

The Commander's eyes were still closed when he reached over to hit the snooze button on his Marvin the Martian alarm clock. He stretched his arms and legs as he struggled to lift his eyelids.

"Ahhhhhhhh!" John screamed when he found a gray and white, cantaloupe-sized fuzzball on his chest. Its black, pin-head eyes stared him in the face.

"Oooh, that makes me very angry." Marvin the Martian's alarm repeated.

John sat up and tried to put his feet into some fuzzy slippers. He heard a pair of Guinea pig sounding shrieks, then thought out loud, "Oh yeah. I don't have any slippers like that."

John concentrated on shaving and didn't notice the paprika-colored muff that made its way into the sink. He turned on the faucet without looking and drenched it. It squealed and shook its body, spattering water everywhere.

After he shaved and showered, John left his quarters for breakfast. A pair of blond, furry pom-poms greeted him on his way out the door. As he turned a corner, he spotted four black, gray, amber, and brown tribbles huddled together by the records lab. John made his way through the corridors and found more various colored powder-puffs along the way. He entered the cafeteria. He went through the line and filled his tray, pushing a couple of tribbles out of the way. A mouse-sized baby tribble sat in his egg cup. He went to sit down near Helena, and saw the dining room flecked with furballs.

In hydroponics, Shermeen Williams and Eddie Collins showed John samples of the supplies they would use for soap making.

"The most popular will probably be the aloe vera. This recycled and filtered air makes a lot of people's skin dry." Shermeen explained. "We also have some cocoa butter, oatmeal, sunflower oil, corn and vegetable oils, and flower extracts. Some people will also need soap ingredients that are hypo-allergenic. We're also trying to think of how we can talk Tony into giving up some of his less-successful beers. They should be good for shampoo."

"You don't think he'll even give up his bad brews?" John asked.

"He likes to keep his bad ones for reference." said Shermeen,

"Looks like we'll be making some pretty good soap." said Eddie. "Maybe even better than anything I used back home."

John picked up a brown, wheat-sized grain that was among the seed samples. "What kind of seed is this?"

"That's tribble poop." Eddie answered.

John dropped the kernel and vigorously wiped his hand on his pants leg. "You mean they've gotten in here, too?!"

"I'm afraid so." replied Shermeen. "We had to shove a couple dozen of them out the door, then seal everything off before they could eat all our stuff."

"I'll be having a talk with Victor and Maya about that right away." said John.

"...tribble l'orange, tribble pizza, tribble stew, tribble pot roast..." Victor mumbled as John walked into the science lab.

Several fluff balls took notice to a new, silky, auburn tribble. Each one gradually added to the chorus of mating coos as he approached her, eager to procreate with the new mate. A beige puff began to raise itself up, preparing to mount the shiny, auburn creature. The auburn tribble suddenly disappeared into a whirl, and Maya hopped off the table.

"What the...?!" John scrunched his forehead as he walked in and saw Maya transforming back to herself.

"Part of our research is to have Maya transform into one and see how they function at their level." Victor answered.

"Victor, these things have gotten out of hand. Everywhere you look, there are tribbles. They've already gotten into our surplus food storage, and the supply officers had to seal up our immediate and emergency provisions. They're leaving filthy droppings all over the place that could contaminate our air, water, and food supply." John raved. "Alan ate a little bit of his peanut butter cups, and when he came back for the rest later, the tribbles finished them off! How did they get out of control like this?"

"Well, Commander," Maya answered. "We tried different methods to get it to reproduce, thinking only one or two of them would work. We didn't expect all of them to be effective."

"What were all the methods?" John asked as he folded his arms across his chest.

Victor replied, "Well, first when we tried to produce some male embryos, some turned out to be hermaphroditic, with both sets of functioning reproductive organs. This already doubled some of their reproductive ability."

"What else?" John persisted.

Maya hesitated. "Victor and I didn't foresee them multiplying very fast, so we thought we would manipulate a twinning gene. However, the gene kept going into successive generations and some of the tribbles were born with fertile ova in their reproductive systems."

"Anything else?" John prodded.

Maya added, "We wanted to make sure they would be eager to breed, so we tried to give it a high pheromone concentration. But it has a much higher level than we anticipated."

"What does that mean?" John asked.

Victor answered, "They're extremely horny."

John looked down when he heard an amorous drone, then rolled his eyes when he saw a ginger-colored muff making love to his boot. "You are doing something about them, aren't you?"

"Yes. Maya and I have been doing some brainstorming on controlling them."

"Well, you two get on that. I'll expect some results within the week." John ordered.

"Yes, John." Victor replied and Maya nodded.

As John started to leave, Maya bolted out the door.

Maya raced to Command Center as fast as she could. When she got there, she grabbed Tony by the front of his shirt and forcefully pulled him outside the door. She kissed him hard on the mouth and kneaded her hands into his buttocks.

"Whoa! What's gotten into you?" Tony asked when Maya came up for air.

"I just transformed back from a tribble, which has outrageously high pheromones and they have not worn off!" She staccatoed the last five words as she looked lustfully into his ebony eyes.

"I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I think I'm going to like it." Tony grinned and cupped a hand along her cheek. The pheromones Maya emitted started to fill him with desire. He returned her kiss, pressing his tongue into her mouth. "I know the perfect place." He took her hand and led her down the corridor. They stopped when they reached a room near Commander Koenig's quarters.

"Tony! In the Commander's personal library?!" Maya exclaimed as Tony caressed her and gnawed on her neck as he pushed her through the door. Dozens of tribble eyes watched them from every part of the darkened room.

"That'll be part of the fun." They held each other close and made their way to the desk. Tony picked Maya up and sat her on it. They both jumped away when they heard a loud squeal. They looked back and saw that Maya nearly squashed a cream-colored bundle of fluff.. They sighed and resumed their necking. They slowly slid under the desk, pushing tribbles out of the way, as they ran their fingers through each others' hair and unzipped their uniforms. They pulled off each others' boots. Tony unfastened Maya's belt with his teeth and started to work on her skirt.

"Tony, Maya." said the Commander as he walked in and turned on a lamp.

"Ouch!" Tony hit his head under the desk when John startled him. He slowly stood up with his sleeve unzipped and his back shirt hem over his shoulders. His black hair was tousled and he had lipstick prints all over his face. "Yes, John?"

"I could use a hand to inspect the waste domes. Care to join me?"

"Um... Yes. I could do that. When?"

"In a couple of hours."

"Uh...By the way, John. How did you know where I am?"

"How do you think? I traced your commlock." John said bluntly. "Maya?"

"Yes, Commander." Maya slowly stood up from behind the desk, avoiding eye contact.

"Victor wants to see you later in the science lab. He still has some ideas on controlling the tribbles."

When Maya looked at John, she noticed he was staring at her chest. She had a bulge between her ribcage as though she had a third breast. She looked down, then reached up under her tunic and pulled out a dalmation-spotted furball.

"You two have a couple more hours to finish your research or whatever it is you wanted to turn up." John informed. "See you at the eagle hangar, Tony."

"Yes, Commander." Maya and Tony responded respectively.

The flight to the waste domes was quite routine, and John and Tony piloted the eagle with little effort. Suddenly, the eagle began to dip at the moon's surface and turn in zig-zags.

"Tony, something's wrong with my controls. Can you take over?"

"Mine aren't responding , either, John."

"Eagle four to Alpha." John said to Sahn's face on the staticky screen. "Sahn, we're losing control of our eagle. See if Alan can do anything by remote."

"Yes, Commander." Sahn answered.

"I'm barely getting any control by remote." said Alan nervously.

The eagle continued to dip and turn erratically.

"See if you can land..." John's voice shouted from the snowy screen, then disappeared.

Alan struggled with the controls. The eagle skidded and bounced on the surface.

"John, what in the heck just happened?" Tony's face whitened.

"I don't really know. It looks like a problem with the wiring in the controls." John tried to summon Command Center. "Koenig to Alpha. Come in Alpha." John pushed buttons and shouted to a blank screen. "Tony. Let's have a look at the wiring. Maybe we can find something in this electrical compartment."

John and Tony each grabbed an end of an overhead panel and forced it off. Suddenly, they were pounded by a blur of brown, black, gray, and white fur as hundreds of tribbles tumbled out of the compartment, burying them up to their waists. Peeps of orgasmic tribble howls filled the cockpit as pairs of pint-sized dustmops thrusted their bodies together.

"Do the scanners show any life signs?" Helena shouted to Sahn in Command Center.

"Yes, hundreds of them." Sahn answered. "There must be a malfunction."

John was finally able to reach his commlock through the pool of fuzz. "Commander Koenig to Alpha." He summoned.

"John!" Helena gasped.

"Tony!" Maya followed.

"You're okay?!" blurted Helena. "What happened?"

"It's these f**#ing tribbles." John replied. "Damn things got into the wiring."

"I'll send out another eagle for you right away." Alan said to John's image on the screen.

"Do that." answered John. "But be sure to inspect all the eagles for tribbles. Just one or two of them could end up in a mess like this."

"Did you see what happened out there?" John demanded from Victor in the science lab. "Those little monsters could have gotten me and Tony killed!"

"Tony who?" Victor asked.

"Tony Verdeschi. Have you come up with anything to get them under control?"

"Well, yes John. There are some things we're going to try. We're asking everyone to bring any tribbles they find to a cleared room in the storage section. Any food given to them will have a birth control chemical added to it. We're also going to neuter as many as we can."

"You think you can neuter that many?" asked John.

"It's going to be difficult. We're going to try to show nearly everyone how to do it, so they can operate on them as soon as they find them. First, we swab on a local anesthetic, then an antiseptic, and then we snip their tiny balls off." Victor explained. "That will make some difference with the males and the hermaphroditic ones. Hopefully, we can slow down their production without completely eradicating them."

"At this point, I don't really care if they are eradicated. I didn't miss them when they weren't around."

"I understand where you're coming from, John. We'll start working right away to control them."

"I expect to see results very soon." John demanded.

Recreation room two was filled with the scents of floral extracts, plant oils, and soap bases. A table was set aside for refreshments, including punch in a scaled-down bathtub. A large, white, rectangular angel-food cake had the letters "Ivory" written in the frosting. A yellow cake bore the word "Dial," and a chocolate cake with with green and white marbled frosting carried the name "Irish Spring." The Alphans were donned in aprons and rubber gloves as they measured, mixed, and poured.

Paul Morrow stood on a stage with his guitar. "Here's another song in honor of this event. Most of you may remember this fondly. It was one of my favorites while I was growing up. Ladies and gentleman... The Rubber Ducky Song!" He strummed a few cords, then sang, "Rubber Ducky, you're the one. You make bathtime so much fun..."

Maya, Tony, Alan and Sahn ladled soap mixtures into molds.

"Tony, what exactly is a rubber ducky?" Maya asked. Alan grinned, waiting to hear Tony's explanation. He thought he should feel sorry for Tony at times like these, when he seemed to be the one who always had to explain things to Maya. He couldn't help but be amused, though.

"Well, you know what a duck is, right?" said Tony.

"Yes. It's a waterfowl you have on Earth. It quacks and it has webbed feet." Maya answered.

"Well, a rubber ducky is a little, yellow, toy duck. It squeaks when you squeeze it."

"And this rubber ducky means so much to you humans that you even have a song about it?"

"Oh, yeah. It means a lot to bathe with a rubber ducky."

"It almost sounds like some kind of fetish. Sitting naked in a tub of water with a toy duck?"

"Maya. It's not like that at all. It's just that to really get the most from a bath, you have to bathe with a rubber ducky."

"That was Ernie's song on Sesame Street. Now there's a show I miss." Alan reminisced. "You watched that, didn't you, Tony? It was shown everywhere."

"Of course. That was the best. Big Bird, Cookie Monster. My favorite was Oscar the Grouch."

"Yeah, he was great." said Alan.

"What made him a grouch?" asked Maya.

"I'm not sure. He just was." Tony answered. "He lived in a trash can."

"He did? Oh, how sad!" Maya gave a sympathetic frown.

Paul Morow finished his song and went to join the soap molding group.

"Looks like you guys are getting a lot done over here. You don't need me." said Paul.

"Oh, no." said Tony. "There's no way you're getting out of this."

Commander John Koenig took over the stage, singing "Tiny Bubbles."

"You know what this song reminds me of?" said Paul as he listened to John's song. "Remember that planet with bubbles everywhere?"

"The one with all the balloons on sticks?" said Alan.

"Yeah. Piri. Everywhere you looked - bubbles." Paul answered.

"I don't remember a planet like that." said Tony.

"That's because you were still in a coma from that skull fracture you got when we left orbit." Alan informed him.

"Oh, yeah, that must be why." Tony replied.

"Remember that gal on that planet?" Paul asked Alan. "She was a dish."

"A dish?" Maya's confused look showed that she was thinking of cups and saucers.

"Yeah. That hot-looking babe in that skimpy, white outfit. She was something else." said Alan.

"I know what that means. Boobs out to here." Maya held her hands out a foot away from her chest.

"I don't remember noticing her boobs." said Paul.

"Neither do I." Alan added.

"Yeah, right! She was wearing a skimpy outfit and you didn't notice her boobs." said Sahn with a sarcastic chuckle, "Like I can believe that!"

The audience struggled to hide their cringing at the sound of John's grinding, off-key voice singing. When he finished the song, everyone whistled, cheered, and vigorously applauded because their ears were finally relieved. John bowed and proudly grinned at such an enthusiastic ovation.

"Looks like your soap-making is really coming along." John commented when he approached the soap-molding team.

"Yep." Alan replied. "You'll have the cleanest crew a commander could ask for. Where's Victor?"

"You know he hardly ever leaves the science lab any more." John answered. "I think he even eats and sleeps in there."

"Commander." Maya asked, "Do you bathe with a rubber ducky?"

"Of course he does." Tony blurted.

"Well... It's been a while." John answered.

"A while since you bathed or a while since you bathed with a rubber ducky?" Alan asked with a smirk.

Jack Bartlett finished singing "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles."

"It looks like I'm on again." said Paul as he headed back to the stage. He strapped on his guitar and stepped up to the microphone. "Now here's the song I know you've all been waiting for. We all know we weren't going to get through this party without hearing this... 'Oh, Splish-Splash, I was takin' a bath. At just about a quarter to nine. Rub-a-dub-dub-dub, just relaxin' in the tub. Thinkin' everything was all right...'"

Alan and Sahn put down their soap-making equipment and danced together.

Paul Morrow finished his song. "Now, I have an announcement. In honor of our suds-making, we have some special suds. Tony brought us his brew number twenty-three." The audience groaned. "Now, I know what you're all thinking. However, I sampled this batch, and it is actually quite good for a Verdeschi brew. And when it comes to beer, no one is pickier than me. It almost tastes like Heineken." Everyone applauded as Tony pushed in a cart carrying four, large, orange Gatorade coolers.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Tony held up a mug. "Who would like to have the honors of drinking the first sip of my incredible creation?"

The Alphans looked around to see who would volunteer. Even though they didn't doubt Paul's review, they were still hesitant to step up.

"Alan," Tony pointed to him. "how 'bout you?"

"Well..." Alan stammered. "Only because Paul said it was good."

Tony held the mug under a cooler spigot. Not a drop came out. He lifted the cooler slightly, and it still felt heavy, like it was full. Tony bent down to study the spigot to see if something was wrong with it. He tried the other three coolers with the same results. Then he removed the cooler's lid and looked inside.

"NOOOooooo!" Tony shrieked. He tipped over the cooler, and out tumbled hundreds of drunken tribbles. The room was filled with squeaks of tribble burps. Some tried to walk and quickly tipped over. Intoxicated hair balls rolled off the edge of the table.

Tony choked back tears at the sight of his flawless brew completely dried up. "Tribbles! ... Hundreds... of tribbles!"

"Approximately one thousand, two hundred and sixty four." Maya said bluntly. "That's calculating the size of the coolers, the tribbles' birth rate, and the time since you left the coolers unattended. However, I'd expect to see more. Apparently, the beer's alcohol slowed down their reproduction."

The Alphans looked at Tony sympathetically as he was left dumbfounded. Three security guards helped their boss scoop up the tribbles and carry them out of the rec room. Everyone quietly returned to their soap projects.

John carried out his usual routine as he went through the day. It took him some time to realize what was different about this morning. He noticed that he woke up with no tribbles on his bed or his night stand. He showered and shaved with no squeaking furballs in his bathroom. He left his quarters with no purring pom-poms near the door. He made his way through the corridors without seeing any cooing powder puffs. He met Victor in the science lab and even there - no tribbles.

"What happened to all the tribbles?" John asked.

"That Taybor fellow that took a shine to Maya. He thought he could make a nice profit by selling them all over the galaxy." Victor answered. "He asked if he could take a few and I told him to take all he wanted."

"Do you realize that some day those little beasts could over run some planet or space ship and they would have us to thank?" John asked.

"Yes, but that's not likely. A creature genetically engineered by humans isn't likely to have the durability to last through too many generations. They'll probably all die out within a few years." Victor answered.

"You should know. You're the scientist." John replied.

Except for some frozen embryos kept in the science lab, the Alphans saw the last of the tribbles. Though no one wanted to talk about it, they all knew where the surplus of meat came from when the kitchen served apricot-glazed tribble, tribble teriaki, lemon pepper tribble, tribble tacos, tribble schnitzel, tribble wurst, tribble Kiev, tribble cacciatore, cajun blackened tribble, tribble Creole, tribble quiche...

A special thanks to Krato, Allison B., Terry, and Patricia for their help

Copyright (c) 2001. Reprinted with permission.
Space:1999 is (c) 1976 by Carlton International Media.
All stories are the property of their respective authors.

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