Fat. The Final Frontier. 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 loud crash startled the senior officers, so much that if you had a ruler handy and the ability to stop time, you could have gotten on the ground with this “ruler” that you claim to have (LIAR!) and measure some space between their feet and the ground. It would have been precisely 3/4 of an inch. That’s something.

“Plingon!” shouted Captain Jim Wirkout, scowling at the fallen Plingon on the ground. “Next time you do push-ups, give us a heads up!”

“Sorry, Captain, I was just doing it ’til failure,” said the Plingon as he stood up. Then he beamed his gnarled, toothy smile and added, “Three whole push-ups, today, Captain!”

“I did four,” murmured Sock, so quietly that the Plingon couldn’t be sure the Mulcan was talking.

Grones and Engineer Mott flanked the Captain as he returned his gaze toward the hill where the monster’s trail led. The villagers had already disappeared back into the gym, for it was Last Chance Workout time, and that cannot be postponed for anything, not even recovering from a spell of vampirism.

“Quiet,” said the Captain.

Off in the distance, a pair of black birds dived and darted around the sky, rising high and then swooping down in glorious circles. Their playful chirping reached their ears. Sock smiled. He dug birds, like chocolate digs a donut. The Plingon merely became hungry and wished for something other than salad. Wasn’t it lunch time yet? It seemed that they hadn’t eaten a thing since these episodes started, and he was feeling ravenous. Indeed, he was about to make a formal request to the Captain for a substantial meal break, low-sodium of course, when a giant yellow tongue lashed out from behind the hills, snaring the two birds from the sky, then pulled them back below the hilltop.

“Ready the LZLs,” said Wirkout. His comb-over began to lift again in a stirring breeze.

A thrumming noise began, first faintly and then growing louder with each moment until it seemed the noise was assaulting their ears and they’d go deaf and have to learn Intergalactic Sign Language, which has approximately 1,327 ways to sign ‘I’m hungry.’ Then it came, burbling and rolling over the hilltop, and the noise subdued to a tolerable level as it slid toward them. At the pace it was sliding, it would reach them in seconds.

“Captain,” said Sock. “The LZLs alone will not be enough for that.”

They studied the approaching blob, an eye-less, mouthless mound of gelatin-like flesh that triggered a desire for a sweet, until they noticed the human being inside the the creature’s walls, banging on the transparent epidermis and crying ‘for the love of God, for Pete’s sake, let me outta this thing!’ which they only knew because the Plingon’s an excellent lip-reader. I should mention he’s fluent in Intergalactic Sign Language, so in the event that he goes Deaf, he’s prepared.

“Suggestions?” asked Wirkout.

Sock sighed. He closed his eyes in thought as if debating some internal dilemma, then shook his head and spoke.

“The ears, Captain,” said Sock, pouting. Wirkout cast an amused glance his way. “It’s the only solution.”

Wirkout nodded.

“Ready the LZLs,” he ordered the crew, “Aim them at Sock’s ears.”

Sock stood still and motionless, except that he slowly and reluctantly extended his ears and clasped them close together, forming a furry and oblong reflecting dish, of a sort. The crew, including the captain, punched in the numbers and aimed the LZLs at Sock’s ears.

“Ring away,” said Wirkout.

The LZLs rang that disco beat again and Sock’s hips started to move with the music just for half a second before he caught himself. The sound impacted against his ears and he staggered one step back, then held his ground, training his ears toward the blob. Well, as can be expected, the sound waves ricocheted off the Mulcan’s ears and headed full force toward the blob, exploding it on impact. The human inside, covered in goo, kissed the earth.

There was no time to celebrate, even though the Plingon and Grones had already begun the Plingon Waltz, which looked strangely like square dancing, for in just 5 shakes of a space pixie’s tail, a gigantic sphere appeared in the sky, resembling something like a moon, only not.

“That’s no moon,” said Engineer Mott.

“Wrong series, Mott,” admonished Wirkout.

“Sorry, sir, Captain sir!” cried Engineer Mott.

Indeed, it was not a moon at all, but a Porg ship. Silver, shining almost as clear as a mirror reflecting the blue sky above and the purple earth below, not one line degraded its surface. Its perfection was nearly absolute, except that it seemed to possess a corkscrew tail at the rear. This is unsurprising. You had to see that coming. Unless you skipped the other episodes and went straight to this one, which is an odd thing to do and burns less calories. Go back and read those. Give your mouse-clicking finger a workout. Then return.

A humming noise sounded, paired with a beam of light emanating from the ship, and two Porg soldiers appeared before them.

“See, Captain, THEY use actual transporting technology, why–” started Sock, but Wirkout cut him off.

“We are Porg,” said the Porg, “Bacon is inevitable.”

“The gelatinous vampirism-inducing critter was a nice touch,” said Wirkout, addressing the Porg, who looked at each other. The machinery embedded in their swine bodies clicked and whirred and beeped and farted, a little rudely. They scanned the humans with their blu-ray eyes.

“We are Porg,” said the Porg again. “Bacon is inevitable.”

Their pork bellies fell open, and little trays with legs scampered out, bearing freshly cooked bacon, which were all implanted with the assimilation chips that would baconize them. The trays approached and then stretched toward mouth level. The Plingon’s mouth watered and he did let a few drops of drool fall.

“Not so fast,” said Wirkout. He grinned.

The Porg soldiers looked quite confused. By now, the bacon is usually already eaten, and calls for seconds are common, even while the victims become Porg themselves.

“This is the future,” said Wirkout. “We’re all vegetarians!”

The Porg gasped oinky gasps. The Plingon frowned. He was not used to vegetarianism yet. He was questioning his choice to sign up for TarSweet.

“Porg porg!” said one Porg.

“Porg porg,” said the other.

Then their heads exploded into ham and aluminum, the gross and messy pieces splattering everywhere. SICK. Then the ship exploded, too. It’s a pity they were all connected to each other. I was rooting for them, solely on the basis of their adorableness, but there you have it. The Porg are no match for vegetarians. And that, my friends, is how the galaxy was further saved by the bold crew of the Starship Exercise in a totally absurd way that has no scientific validity. Just you try to refute that: it hasn’t happened yet, so unless you have a time machine, you’re outta luck.

“Get down with your bad self, Sock,” said Wirkout. And so he did, Mulcan-style, and merrily they all joined in, burning an excess of calories that day so that they’d have ample room for a celebratory dessert that night.

THE END