These are the voyages of the Starship Exercise. Its continuing mission, to shed more unwanted pounds, to seek out new life and new muscles, and to boldly jog where no one has jogged before.

(A rather cool-looking ship that looks strangely like a silvery hamburger, or more precisely like a veggie burger complete with lettuce, floated in space in orbit over a spectacular planet with gorgeous blue oceans and purple continents. As you watch, your view comes closer and closer and closer to the ship, toward the main window of the bridge, then you go THWACK into the window like an interstellar bug. But no matter, we have a camera inside, focused on the captain in his chair. He’s got a rather spiffy green outfit with a dozen rainbow stripes on both arms, signifying the many talents he possesses. He has one rather amazing comb-over that, at times, lifts lightly in the breeze caused by the air conditioning. Even in space, one wants to feel comfortable. Around the room, a half dozen crew members are busy at their stations, pressing various buttons and pulling levers, sometimes at random and sometimes repeatedly with sleepy looks on their faces while burping noises sound from the computer. In one corner, a crew member is boxing on what appears to be a large, blue uvula. In another corner of the bridge, an exercise bike is connected to a workstation by wires, currently being used by a large alien male with a bumpy forehead and a bumpy body, both forehead and body possessing muffin tops. We pan back to the captain, who has been considering his belly. He presses a button in the side console of his chair.)

“Captain’s Diary, Stardate 453278 Pounds. Captain Jim Wirkout of the M.F.P. Exercise. We are currently in orbit over the Planet Mohtihvayshun, having received a distress signal a few days ago over the intergalactic forums. The message was puzzling: a cry for help, a sudden squooshing noise typed out simple with the word SQUOOSH preceded and followed by asterisks, and then nothing. No word, no post, not even a status update has come from the Planet since. We arrived precisely one hour ago, having burned a collective 23,435 calories in getting here, thanks to the use of supplemental navigation oars, only to find the planet shielded by some strange energy barrier. Engineer Mott and his team are close to breaking through, and we should be able to see what’s going on down there soon.”

The TurboJam Lift door opened, and out stepped a humanoid man, dressed in a pastel blue jumpsuit with tiger striped bands on his sleeves, with enormous pointy ears that brushed against the sides of the entry as he stepped onto the bridge. He was carrying a pair of dumbbells. The officer approached the captain and began to do lunges in place as he spoke.

“Captain,” he said,” Engineer Mott is ready. The solution merely needed more protein to function correctly. We are ready when you are.”

“Good,” said Captain Wirkout. He pressed his console. “Go back and tell him he can fire at will.”

“Sir, I just came from there. Can’t you use the comm system?”

“Okay, Sock. Less of a burn for you, though. Adjust your calories accordingly.”

“Yes, Captain.”

Captain Wirkout pressed his console button again. There’s only one button, a big red one that says “EASY.”

“Mott. Fire at will.”

A bright red burst of light streamed toward the planet and collided with the energy field. In just a moment, it seemed the entire field turned into what appeared to be gravy that washed over the planet and then seemed to drip off the bottom into space, but this was only an absurd illusion. Read the science manual. It’s not possible. Anyway, distracted reader, focus on what’s now going on with the planet. You see nothing different, of course, since we’re in space.

Over the comm link, a voice peeped, light and musical: “Captain, sir! We have lifeforms. I was able to bring up their group discussion board and hacked into it. Establishing contact. Posting a new topic, please stand by.”

“Standing by, Engineer Mott,” said the Captain. Behind him, Sock was now doing bicep curls, grunting. The Plingon security officer had abandoned the bike for a row machine, but remained steadfastly focused on the viewscreen, eyeing the planet as if it were the most fearsome physical trainer ever.

The comm link beeped again. “Captain, sir! Have already received 3 comments in this thread. Inhabitants of the planet report they are currently being terrorized by a blob-like monster that has developed a nasty habit of rolling over the population, several people at a time, then leaving them behind, alive but unable to lose a single pound.”

Collective gasps sounded around the bridge, especially from the Plingon, who had stopped in mid-row.

“Not even one?” asked the Captain.

“Captain, sir! Not even one.”

The Captain spun his chair around. And then around. And then around, just a few more times, then faced his first officer Sock. The Mulcan’s ears were tucked back like a cute little brown rabbit, and he seemed lost in thought.

“Sock,” said the Captain. “Recommendations?”

The Mulcan tossed aside his dumbbells and began to stretch. “Captain, I recommend we ready the Plateau-Buster team for immediate dispatch. We cannot do a single thing from here. We need our feet on the ground, and low-calorie snacks ready for any possible situation we may encounter.”

Captain Wirkout spun his chair back to the viewscreen, his jaw tightly clenched as he studied the planet.

“Bust a move, Sock.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

(Note for those of you who are baffled by ‘MFP’ and are scratching your heads, trying to figure out what that means. It’s a reference to My Fitness Pal, which is a site for those trying to get healthier, as I am.