The Pedersen Incident

SUMMARY, THE PEDERSEN INCIDENT

This is a parody of the Star Trek original characters based on an
extremely bad pun which was the working title. If you can
figure out what the pun was you will realise why it got itself
binned as a title. As usual, a small but important part of the
cosmos is saved for democracy (and profit) by the Captain and
Crew of the USS…. Well, read it and find out. Ramblin.

THE PEDERSEN INCIDENT
SavePrice Super Stores used State-of-the-Art Customer Purchase
Transfer Modules. Doreen, Michelle and Mandy were all designated
Customer Purchase Transfer Module Commanders. They all had labels
to remind them who and what they were. These had their names on
them, followed by the initials CPTMC all done nicely in red felt
tip. Most of the “a” had rubbed off Mandy’s name.
Doreen and Michelle, who had worked in a lot of supermarkets,
considered themselves rather superior to be commanding State-of-
the-Art Customer Purchase Transfer Modules. Mandy had also worked
in a lot of supermarkets. To her a State-of-the-Art Customer
Purchase Transfer Module was indistinguishable from a checkout.

In the absence of customer purchases to transfer they were
allowed to amuse themselves. Doreen and Michelle conversed about
television with frightening intensity. Mandy, whose mind was
sometimes on higher things, preferred to study the life size
photograph of Captain SavePrice which stood near the door,
welcoming customers.
The Captain wore SavePrice uniform, dark red, side buttoned.
Like a sexy dentist, thought Mandy. All the staff wore variations
on the same uniform with differing colours to show the differing
positions they held.
The uniform flattered her although she reckoned her thighs were a
shade heavy for the mini skirt. At least the new manager, Mr
Spooner, allowed tights. The previous Manager had insisted on
white stockings; white did nothing for her legs, not with her
Caribbean colouring, and the suspender buttons dug into her
bottom. Still, Managers had to have some leeway. They were in
this world all day, every day, not just shifts.
`Another day at the office’ thought Mandy as she set her personal
android to “checkout mode” and keyed her transfer code into the
computer. Transfers always had unpleasant optical effects,
usually manifesting in a green snowstorm over the delicatessen.
She opened the door ….

…. caught Captain SavePrice’s eye ….

….. and stepped onto the bridge.
`Lieutenant M’Ndy reporting, Sir!’
`Welcome aboard, Lieutenant.’
Captain Tim SavePrice, once the youngest Commander in the fleet,
had been given command of the USS SavePrice after a spectacularly
successful Promotions flight to the Sirius quadrant. He knew all
the proper actions proper to a SavePrice Captain. He returned her
salute, held in a slight belly and pressed some buttons on the
arm of his chair. Mr Stock, the Dietetic Officer, nodded
inscrutably. Mr Checkout and Mr Lublu posed at the flight
controls.
Within moments of M’Ndy opening her Communications Station,
SavePrice Central came through. The Managing Director shimmered
into view on the main screen. His handsome “older man” face was
distorted with anguish as his emotions sped down the light years.
He looked grim and serious.
`We have a Top Level Category “A” Trading Emergency, captain.’
`We don’t handle any other kind, Admiral. How can we be of
service?’
Captain SavePrice knew all the proper words as well. `The
Arcturus 7 branch is losing customers to Super Slavers. You are
the only ship in the quadrant. Do what you can.’
`Aye aye, sir. Over and out. Mr Checkout, best course for
Arcturus 7. Lieutenant M’Ndy, get me Engineer Skatt in
Beautycare.’
There was a brief interval. Lights fluttered and things bleeped.
`Mr Skatt, sir. Channel Number 5.’
`Skatty, I need Skin Factor 10.0, all tubes.
`Aye aye, Captain, but a canna’ hold these prices more than ten
minutes.’
`I want twenty minutes, Skatty. Pederson is having trouble with
Super Slavers.’
`Pederson? “Pricecut” Pederson? For “Pricey” you’ll get your
twenty, sir.’
`Good man, Skatty, see to it. Captain out.’
`Permission to be predictable, Captain.’
`Predicate, Mr Stock.’
`It seems illogical to compromise the profitability of United
Store Ship SavePrice for a one man branch store.’
`Damn your pointy Accountan ears, Mr Stock!’ Surgeon McBold
stepped forward. `I went through Grocery School with
Pederson….’
`That’s enough, Bones.’ said the Captain using his steadying down
voice. `We all know Pederson.’
Mr Stock raised a questioning eyebrow and adjusted his pencil of
rank into a more comfortable position behind his ear. He was well
aware that there was some jealousy amongst the junior officers
who believed pointed ears gave him an advantage when displaying
his pencil. The Captain explained what he meant in case anybody
suspected there might have been some original dialogue coming.
`It’s a human failing, Mr Stock. We don’t leave our people in
there. Speed, Mr Checkout?’
`Factor 9.8 and holding, Captain.’
`Pederson calling, Captain, very faint.’
`On screen, Lieutenant M’Ndy.’
`Aye, sir.’
The image of Pederson, a rugged frontiersman, shimmered into
view. He wore the uniform of the Primitive Provision Service;
brown smock coat with a wrap round apron. His top pocket held
three ball point pens signifying long service. The apron was
stained and his pencil had lost its point.
`Thank SavePrice you’re here, Tim. I can’t compete much longer.
Their bacon is already down to six credits a kilo!’
Captain SavePrice tossed his perfectly coifed hairpiece and
turned from the viewscreen.
`Status, Mr Checkout?’
`Two minutes to orbit, Captain.’
`Special Offer Screens up, Mr Lublu.’
`Sir!’
`Pederson, we’re coming in. Give Lieutenant M’Ndy your co-
ordinates. We’ll lock on with Coupon Torpedoes.
`Sending co-ordinates, Captain.’
`Keep trading, Pederson. SavePrice out.’
`Co-ordinates locked in.’
`Thanks, Lieutenant. Mr Lublu, Coupon Torpedoes, loaded with
two-for-one and money back offers. Fire when ready.’
`Firing, sir.’
`Mr Checkout?’
`Entering orbit …. now!’
`Special Offer Screens holding, sir.’
`Thankyou, Mr Lublu. Landing party, Mr Stock, Lieutenant M’Ndy,
Surgeon McBold. Sidearms please, bar-code readers set at double
bleep.’
`Double bleep, Captain?’
`Double, Bones. Arcturans don’t take coupons!’
`Sir!’
`Scatter coloured leaflets as we hit. Regroup behind the counter.
Initiate, Mr Stock.’

Arcturan religion prohibits delicatessen. Consequently there was
no green snowstorm, only a display of luminous pink shower
curtains.

The store was a shambles. The pot bellied stove upended, flour
and other dry goods spilling over dress materials and
ironmongery. Pederson crouched behind the counter, holding off
the Super Slavers by adding up furiously on a paper bag, stopping
only to blast them with surprise reductions on a chalk board.
`Assessment, Mr Stock?’
`At my count twelve Slavers, sir. Using pocket calculators and at
least one personal organiser.
`The swine!’ Captain SavePrice fired. The personal organiser
shattered to microchips.
In one clumsy movement the landing party made their way to
Pederson behind the counter, forcing the Slavers back with
accurate bar-code readings.
`Thank SavePrice you’re here. I’m out of chalk and my ball point
is going splodgy.’
`Customers, Pederson?’
`All taken, sir. They got the last two with a discount flight to
Marbella. I couldn’t go on…. Pederson broke down, sobbing.
`You did all you could. Now let’s get out of here.’
`We have a problem, Captain.’ `Special Purchase, Mr Stock?’
`No, sir. They’ve activated the portable electronic stock
checker.’
`SavePrice! That means, if we transfer …. !’
`What, Captain?’
`It’s too horrible, Lieutenant.’
`I’m SavePrice trained, sir. I can take it.’
`We would all be…. audited!’
M’Ndy gulped, dramatically, at his words. He bosom heaved,
significantly. Surgeon McBold touched her shoulder for
reassurance. His.
`Is there no chance, Tim?’
`No, Bones. They’ll pick us off with loss leaders. If that
doesn’t finish us they will probably use the ultimate
weapon,……. total stock liquidation.’
`Then we’re done for, Sir?’
`I’m afraid so Lieutenant. Lets just go down like SavePrice men.
And members of any other race and gender that happen to be
along.’
`If I might suggest, Captain?’
`Please be suggestive, Mr Stock.’
`There is a perceptible chance, Captain.’
`Then perceive, Mr Stock.’
`Jamming their computer could buy us time.’
`That’s it, Sir. GIGO, sir.’
`What was that, Lieutenant?’
`Computer acronym, Captain. From twentieth century earth. Garbage
In, Garbage, Out. Turn the instore entertainment outstore ….’
`Logical, Lieutenant. Enhancing crepitant phase levels with
dysprosium crystals from bar-code reader nuptial circuits.
`Could it work, Mr Stock?’
`If we had some garbage, sir.’
`What about the music tapes, Stock?’
`Unfortunately, Doctor, they are quite useless. Despite the
crassness of instore entertainment, particularly to my incredibly
sensitive and discriminating Accountan taste, it has,
regrettably, a perverse logic. As such it cannot be construed as
“Garbage’.’
`Did he say it was good?’ Surgeon McBold looked confused.
`The android programs, Doreen and Michelle, subroutine eight,
ought to do it, sir. I can route them through the main computer.’
`Probability of success, Mr Stock?’
`An interesting solution, Lieutenant. I will help. And in answer
to your question, Captain, slightly better than the odds against
finding a free bag of crisps in the six packs.’
`That bad, huh?’

Under a hail of totals and covering double bleeps, M’Ndy and
Stock wired and patched. A wildly ricochetting sub-total slammed
into Lieutenant Monday’s shoulder, throwing her off her feet. She
bit her lip to choke back the cry of pain and held back a tear,
bravely pretending a swirl of curry powder from the spice counter
had drifted by.
`Last wire, Mr Stock!’
`I’ll recommend you for Supervisor if we get out of here alive.
M’Ndy.’
`Thankyou, sir, switch three….. ahh.’
She fell back, not really unconscious, into the strong arms of
Captain SavePrice. The voices, raucous and amplified, came
through loud and loud.

`See it last night, `chelle.’ `Which one `reen?
`Where Tad told Peena that Zylie and Ska were going steady.’
`Yeah. That look on Mrs. Quartols face when Tad told her Joni
thought Cootie was pregnant.’
`She int pregnant, is she?
`Nah. It’s all put on. She’s really going wiv Toosh.’
`What, the lifeguard?’
`No, that’s Trash. Toosh is the lesbian needlework teacher at
Dillwater High.’
`But dint she …. ?’

Smoke gushed from the overloaded stock checker and a cloud of
sequins engulfed Surgeon McBold.
Lieutenant M’Ndy came out of soft focus in sick bay with Captain
SavePrice by her bed.
`Well done Lieutenant. You got us out of there.’
`Thanks to Aussie soaps, Captain. Best garbage on Earth.’

Captain SavePrice bent over and kissed her. Then, strictly in
order of seniority, so did, Mr Stock, Surgeon McBold, Engineer
Skatt, Ensign Checkout, Ensign Lublu, Nurse Clitheroe who had a
shapely bosom but masculine tendencies, and Yeoman Kincaid who
had come in to change a till roll.

Mr Spooner was pleased to see her return.
`Uniform, Mandy.’
She was unbuttoned at the shoulder where she had been wounded.
An interesting scrap of lace was showing.
`Gerbil Men from Mars again?’
`No, Mr Spooner. Slavers on Arcturus 7.1
`That’s Peterson’s place. Is he…. ?’
`Safe, Mr Spooner.’
`Thank SavePrice. He’s my brother-in-law you know.’
`SavePrice is a Caring Company, Mr Spooner.’

Possibly Captain SavePrice winked.

c Brian Lacey, writing as RAMBLIN, 1997

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