Adam Quark is commander of the United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol. As The Head of Perma One has said so many times, "Someone has to do it."
Despite this heavy philosophy, Adam Quark blindly sails into any adventure and stares danger in the face to see who will blink first. More often than not, it is Adam Quark. In fact, it is whispered among his crew that he doesn't know the meaning of the word danger, although they have tried to give him vocabulary lessons many times.
"It's not easy being the captain of a United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol ship," Commander Quark explains.
"There are those who say picking up the garbage of some strange alien race isn't dignified. Well, they're right, it smells.
But I can think of worse jobs in the galaxy -- such as -- well, there's -- hmm, there must be -- well, take my word for it.
Of course, it's not all garbage. Sometimes The Head has an assignment he feels only my crew and I can handle. Like the time the Gorgons declared a star war and someone had to blow up their doomsday vehicle and possibly return alive. Or the time The Head needed someone to boldly go to the planet Polumbus, where no man has ever returned from. Or the time The Head had a computer installed on board that made my job unnecessary. Say, you don't think The Head is trying to tell me something, do you?
"Our assignments aren't all that easy. And supervising the crew isn't fun and games either. You think it's a piece of cake to figure out whether you're talking to Gene or Jean, or trying to communicate with a plant, or figuring out which Betty is which?
"Sure, sometimes when we're making our star trek we get lost in space. But we never try to go one stop beyond the outer limits. And when we write home, we always use our galactic zip code or our twilight zone."
Gene is not only the most macho member of Adam Quark's crew and a regular sort of guy, but also SHE is the most sensitive and caring member of the crew as well.
Gene/Jean is chief engineer of Adam Quark's ship, and is a trans-mute. He/she has a full set of male and female chromosomes. That means, as Quark well knows, you never know if the next moment you'll be speaking to Gene or Jean.
To gain some insight into Gene's past, this reporter talked to his/ her instructor-android at the Space Academy.
"I always knew Gene/Jean would be good in outer space. He used to hate those dreaded Gorgons even as a little boy/girl. He used to draw pictures of them -- mostly with their heads missing. Then he'd frame them in lace."
"There's nothing better than chasing after the Gorgons," Gene told this reporter aboard Quark's vessel. "There's the thrill of the hunt, knowing you're going to close in on them and then.. and then having the chance to sit down with them and engage in meaningful discussion about space.
"I mean, what's the use of being in space if you can't have action? Gimme a gamma gun anytime and I'll show those Gorgons a thing or two... like, needlepoint. I'm real good at needlepoint. Do you want to see some of my work?"
Adam Quark was asked to comment on having a guy/gal like Gene/Jean on his crew. "Gene," Quark said, taking a long pause, "is not the kind of person you want to have around on a planet with a lot of moons."
The best thing you can say about the Bettys is that each one is more beautiful than the next. As co-pilot and co-co-pilot of Adam Quark's sanitation patrol ship, one of the Bettys is clone of the other -- reproduced by artificial means.
The tough part is getting the Bettys to admit which is which. Both deny being the clone and lay claim to being the original.
I thought I was going to find out which Betty was which when Otto Palindrome installed the all-knowing computer Vanessa on board Quark's vessel. To test its omniscience, Ficus queried it as to which Betty was the clone.
"The pretty one," Vanessa replied.
"I am not.'" both Bettys replied in unison.
Despite the confusion over which Betty came first, both are steadfastly loyal to Adam Quark. "I never want to leave his side," says Betty I. "I never want to leave his other side," says Betty II.
"I'll follow him to the end of the universe." says Betty I. "I'm willing to go farther than that," says Betty II. "We'd even die for Adam -- after all, death is the greatest adventure," both Bettys exclaim. But, as Adam Quark pointed out, the person who said that probably wasn't dead yet.
Communicating with Adam Quark's first officer Ficus Panduratta can be an unnerving experience to humans who haven't worked withVegetons before.
Totally unemotional and uninvolved, Ficus is in one word--a plant. Raised in soil, watered with loving care by his parents, he is learning to adapt in a human world.
The logical Ficus is above pettiness, quarreling, gossiping, bickering and other traits so prevalent among Quark's crew. When Quark's ship went into the black hole and everyone was divided into good and evil counterparts, only Ficus was unaffected. "Plants don't have good and evil counterparts," Ficus explains. "We're just plants."
Sometimes the strange things humans do puzzle Ficus. "At holiday number 11, for example," the first officer says, "Quark didn't know what an appropriate present would be for me. Otto Palindrome suggested a plant. I remember overhearing Quark's response: 'I can't give Ficus a plant for holiday number 11-- Ficus is a plant.'
"Or the time I had to romance Princess Libido to save Quark from Emperor Zorgon. The Bettys were trying to teach me courtship rituals. They suggested I bring her flowers and have her wear them. I attempted to explain to them that it would be like someone giving them a lamb chop to wear.
"No, it isn't easy working with humans. But they're coming along nicely, and I hope to have them better trained soon. Meanwhile, contact with them is not fatal."
Andy the Robot is the member of Adam Quark's crew without a heart. He's also without blood, lungs, veins and arteries. Which is a good thing -- considering he was constructed by Quark from spare parts.
Andy, who looks upon Commander Quark as any son might look upon his father, fits into the evolutionary plane just somewhere above a walking pile of junk. Yet, this tough little guy has been responsible for saving Quark and his garbage-collecting crew more than once.
"Of course, I have a lot to live up to," Andy explains. "My ancestors were R2D2 and Robby the Robot. I guess heroism just runs in the family."
Andy looks back fondly on the time Quark and his crew were trapped by Emperor Zorgon while the mad ruler was searching for "it."
"We were all facing certain death. Then Gene remembered that the power in my cells might be strong enough to blow open the prison wall where we were trapped. There was always the chance it wouldn't have worked, and I would have been blown to bits, but this is the chance you have to take. Actually, I wanted to run as fast as I could before they could wire me up, but Quark didn't make my legs fast enough."
Does this mean Andy the Robot is cowardly?
"It's not a word I'd use," retorts Andy. "Let's just say--let's just say--let's just say--let's just say--(at this point this reporter gave Andy a swift kick in the side)--let's just say I don't relate well to life-or-death situations and let it go at that."