Although he could still hear tribbles cooing somewhere not far away, Kirk felt mightily relieved that he could at least walk through the space station’s corridors without stumbling over the infernal creatures. He had almost begun to feel that he would never be rid of them.
“Report, Mr. Spock.”
“The cleanup is approximately seventy-eight percent complete,” his first officer began. “We have discovered, however, that some of the tribbles that did not eat the quadro-triticale were instead eating other cargo. A peculiar mutation resulted from the substance that they consumed.”
Rolling his eyes at that description, McCoy opened a nearby door. “That’s putting it mildly. Have a look, Jim.”
The cooing noises immediately became much louder, and a large number of tribbles — or something that had once been tribbles — began tumbling into the corridor. No longer their usual drab shades of brown, the creatures now appeared in bright hues of pink, purple, yellow, blue, and white. Moreover, they had taken on two distinct shapes; some looked like chicks, while others resembled bunnies.
“Ooh, they’re so darling,” squealed Chapel, reaching down to pick up a yellow chick that was trilling sweetly at her feet.
Uhura warned her, “Be careful, it’s…”
With a look of disgust, Chapel dropped the chick as quickly as she had picked it up. Icky yellow goo clung to her fingers.
“There was a shipment of Easter candy in this room,” McCoy explained. “When the tribbles stuffed themselves full of Peeps, a substance known to have significant mutagenic effects on several alien species, their entire genetic structure was altered. They may look like cute little chicks and bunnies, but a tricorder scan has revealed that their physiology is very different. In fact, their chemical composition is most similar to that of, uh, marshmallows.”
“We had no choice but to put Cyrano Jones in the brig when we caught him attempting to sneak away with several mutant tribbles under his shirt,” Spock continued his report. “Jones tried to bribe the security guards, promising them a percentage of the money he expected to earn selling mutant tribbles as Easter pets.”
“Harry Mudd somehow found out about the altered tribbles, too,” Uhura put in. “He sent a message offering to pay twice the amount Cyrano Jones was offering.”
“Mudd again? He ought to be incarcerated. I don’t know how he keeps avoiding justice.” Kirk glanced around at the tribbles, which had multiplied noticeably in just the few minutes they had been in the corridor. “These things are a menace, far too dangerous to be sold to anyone. We’re going to have to destroy them.”
“Captain, how would you prefer that it be done?” Spock asked.
Kirk thought about it for a moment and then smiled. “Well, Spock, although we’ve lost the grain intended for the starving people of Sherman’s Planet, we now have the ability to feed them with tasty marshmallow cream pies.”
The Vulcan officer gave his captain a look of doubt, not quite able to determine, as always, if he were being teased.