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Unofficial Literary Challenge #48: "Ships of the Fleet"

hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,065 Arc User
edited December 2018 in Ten Forward
Welcome to Unofficial Literary Challenge #48: "Ships of the Fleet"!

Prompt 1: "A Holiday" by @brian334

This centers on an event, festival, or other type of holiday celebrated on a world or a region. How does your ship and crew fit in?

Prompt 2: "The Air You Breathe" by @damzelltrill

I am the air you breathe. Literally.

A captain has room in their heart for but one love; their ship. Some quirk they were saving for "their first ship". Well now some how your ship is returning that affection; maybe by creating a holo avatar to seduce you, or just by calling you Darling and making inappropriate comments.

Prompt 3: "Context is Overrated" by @hawku001x

While in the Delta Quadrant, you detect signs of and discover a derelict 23rd century Crossfield-class ship with a spore drive, which, after its early test flights, somehow emptied its decks of its crew. What happened to them, and what threats have you to deal with after you board the ship?


As usual, no NSFW content.

The discussion thread is here.

The LC Submission thread is here.

Index of previous ULCs (click ULC 31 for earlier entries):
Index of previous ULC Annuals:
rrw_tetreya2.jpg

Comments

  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,180 Arc User
    Dalana went forward to the ship's junior officer's lounge. It had been set aside for them: the others like her. On one hand she felt like a prop, a bit of scenery put on a stage to give the audience a bit of ambiance. On the other hand, it was a chance to socialize with others like herself, to be with people who understood her, (sometimes too well.)

    The door opened and she looked around the room. Her family was here: the survivors, the reclaimed. They had come to pay homage to the many who were not so fortunate. Here and there implants could be seen, along with rank pips and military decorations. Her family was highly motivated as a group.

    Admiral Taleev was beneath the large, curved windows which looked out to starboard on Deck 19 of the old Neutron Star, a Pulsar-class refit of the old Nebula class. Forty years ago she had been too slow to get from the Romulan border to Wolf 359, and had thus survived. Admiral Taleev had been Ensign Taleev back then, with two human arms and two human eyes. Now his prosthetic eye and arm marked him, set him apart.

    Dalana was far too young, and indeed hadn't even been born when the battle that changed his life took place. Her own change had come only seven years ago. Since his time and hers better medical techniques had been developed. Her scars didn't show. But they were there.

    "Commander Chege!" someone called, and she turned to see Leonard Stacy, now Captain, waving her to a table where room was being made for her.

    "Slept in, did you?" asked Nalim. In a lot of ways Andorians were physically superior to humans, but when it came to Borg implants they were among the most difficult to reclaim. His implants showed.

    "The regenerator wasn't working properly. I kept having interruptions."

    "I know what you mean," Leonard said. "There's nothing like your own regenerator for a good night's sleep."

    "I think it's the presence of so many semi-active neural processors. We can't truly network, but our implants try when we go to sleep."

    "Oh," Leonard said, "Have you met Dr. Janice Beard?"

    "Dalana Chege," she said, reaching over the table to shake her hand. Like Dalana she had no visible implants. "Medical doctor?" Dalana asked.

    "Sociologist," Janice said.

    "Any insights on our little subculture?"

    "None worth a paper," she said with a grin.

    As Dalana took the empty space in the booth she asked, "So what were you all talking about when I interrupted?"

    "Same thing we always talk about when we come here," Nalim said. They all looked out of the broad, many paneled window at the hologram.

    A giant Starfleet Delta floated in space above the wreckage of the unrecoverable vessels, now clustered about their common center of gravity.

    "Admiral Taleev was here, that day. Ensign Taleev back then," Nalim said.

    "There aren't many assimilated who survived that day. Admiral Riker destroyed the cube," Leonard said.

    "He was on the New Orleans. The Borg tried to assimilate the vessel because of its Trinary Arrays. Captain J'lott dumped the warp core and fought off the boarders until the Cube left the system. Everyone left alive after that was eventually assimilated and they had begun working on repairing the ship by the time the USS McCoy got there."

    "Which one is the New Orleans?" asked Janice.

    "One of the more intact hulls." Nalim said. "Project the right prong of the delta downward and it intersects the New Orleans. The one with the two strange pods on its dorsal surface."

    "I can't see it," Janice admitted. "I never had an ocular implant."

    "How were you assimilated?" asked Dalana.

    "I wasn't really assimilated. I was working on Drone Recovery on the USS Ochsner and got infected." She smiled, "Mine was a lab accident. The Battle of Medical Lab 24."

    "I can't top that!" said Dalana. "Yours is probably the most original of the origin stories. All of ours are so similar."

    "I suppose that's because the Borg lack imagination," Leonard said. "If it works, why vary it?"

    "Like we're doing here?" asked Dalana.

    "What do you mean?" Nalim asked.

    "I don't know. Every year we come here. For what? What do we get out of it but another reminder that we're all victims of the Borg? We're only a handfull out of the billions who were captured and made part of the collective."

    "There's one good reason," said Janice, nodding to a couple who were obviously in the early stages of courtship. They sat alone in the corner, leaning across the table toward one another, their hands not-quite touching on the little tabletop.

    Dalana laughed. "Starfleet's dating service for liberated Borg!"

    "Come meet the person who was built just for you!" Nalim said.

    The door to the lounge opened and three holocameras floated in followed by several of the newsies who were low enough on their various publishers lists to be given such a crappy assignment.

    "They have no respect for privacy," Nalim said. "This is supposed to be our place."

    They went straight to the admiral, who rose and went with them.

    "Relax," Leonard said. "They came for the admiral, not to check if your 'ice drill' was a Borg-enhanced prosthetic."

    "What?" asked Janice.

    Dalana said, "Last year a newsie followed him into the restroom to see if his, um, organ, was natural or a Borg implant."

    "What?" she asked again.

    Leonard said, "Apparently the guy got the idea somewhere that Borg used sex to infect unsuspecting victims."

    "Tell her what you said, Nalim!" Dalana teased.

    The Andorian blued visibly from blushing.

    "He said..." Leonard started, then he paused and looked at Dalana.

    They said it together, in a chant: "Bend over and let's find out!"

    "Oh!" Janice smiled.

    "I wonder what would have happened if the newsie had called your bluff?" asked Leonard. "You never know what those guys are really after, do you?"

    "I bet he'd have followed through, nanites and all!" Dalana said. "After all, he's an Andorian of his word!"

    "All right," Nalim said with a scowl. "You've had your fun."

    "Sorry," said Dalana, placing her hand on his.

    "We're all in this together, buddy," Leonard said, putting his hand on top of theirs."

    Outside the window the hologram flickered out. Inside the compartment a voice announced over the public address system, "All hands stand by for a system-wide broadcast."

    "Come on, let's get a good spot under the windows," said Leonard.

    Apparently others had the same idea as conversations muted and people migrated toward the curved bulkhead which was lined with windows. Then the hologram flicked back on, but this time a giant bust of Admiral Taleev was superimposed over the Starfleet Delta.

    Over the P.A. the voice of the Admiral, synched with the hologram, began his speech.

    "It is now 1442 hours on December 13, 2406. Forty years ago, at this time and in this place, we formed a futile defense against the Borg. Eleven thousand lives were lost and uncounted lives were altered forever by that event. Since that time there have been numerous scholarly articles and military analyses which detail the many factors that resulted in Starfleet's loss here. Very few remember to include the one thing Starfleet did right that day.

    "Because on that day every ship which could reach this place in time came, and came ready to fight. From the old and outdated workhorse, USS Gage, to the brand new USS Ahwahnee, which was still undergoing space trials and left San Francisco Shipyard with shipyard workers aboard, the Starfleet task force came, and gave everything they had in the defense of the Federation.

    "What higher honor can a person achieve than to be given the chance to die in the defense of his nation, his people, and his family?"

    The Admiral paused and looked around.

    "The chance to live!

    "Live to remember, live to rebuild, live to prove to the rest of the galaxy that we of the Federation can take a humiliating defeat and grow. We can survive, we can become stronger, we can overcome adversity.

    "Many of you viewing this message today were not yet born when these noble souls gave their lives. For you the pain is not real, as it is to those of us who were here. And you may wonder why we return every year, when our duties permit, to remember this tragedy, to relive the pain of losing so many of our colleagues and friends?

    "This is more than a remembrance for the dead. And it is more than a reminder for the young to never forget, or to let down their guard against the next hostile power who would seek to enslave or destroy them. It is an affirmation of life!

    "We, the survivors, should remember that our lives are no longer our own. We live now for the many who died. We must, by word and deed, by attitude and conviction, live lives which will honor the dead who bought our lives for us with their blood.

    "And we must prepare for the day which may never come: the day when the price for the survival of our colleagues, friends, and loved ones is our own blood.

    "To my friends who remained here forever, I once again pledge my life to serve as you once did, in full measure, holding back nothing for myself, but freely giving all. And I submit myself to your judgement to say if the life you gave me is a life you would find worthy.

    "Let us have a moment of silence."

    The Admiral's image flickered off and was replaced, one at a time, by the images of the thirty-nine ships which fought the Battle of Wolf 359. When that was completed and the last ship faded, in huge letters that hid the delta the names of the dead began to slowly rise, accompanied by the anthem of the Federation. They would continue to rise for the next three hours as name after name scrolled up.

  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,180 Arc User
    Their names are sixty-four digit strings of binary code; each partner's is exactly the same, except for the last digit. So we call them Zero and One. One is the one on the right, I think. It helps to think of Bynar pairs as one crewman. I thought I was getting the best pair of computer techs in Starfleet when they were assigned to the USS Voroth Sea. Instead, I got one, and a very obtuse one at that.

    "I do not understand..."
    "...Your concern. The parameters specified..."
    "...Upgrades to the user interface with the goal..."
    "...Of improving personnel interactions with..."
    "...The ship's main computer."

    They traded off speaking that way. It's damned annoying. Look, I'm a human. I have biases. One of them is that I cherish individuality. Bynars consider individuality to be a dangerous aberration, and seek conformity, even in their thoughts. I'm fine with that. There's a giant IDIC painted on the bulkhead of the ship's flag quarterdeck. Live and let live, et cetera.

    "Improvements to the interface do not require the computer to speak like a character in a cheesy holonovel. I wanted improved ease of access, not a simulated personality."

    Okay, so I've raised my voice. Not sure the Bynars are going to get my point, but yelling it isn't going to improve communications.

    "The personality..."
    "...Is not simulated."

    That caught me by surprise. "Wait, what?"

    "The personality..."
    "...Is not simulated," they repeated. I think they swapped lines just to mess with my head.

    "Before your upgrades the computer operated on a normal Starfleet issued computer user interface. Now it tries to hold conversations. It has a personality now."

    "Indeed it does because..."
    "...It is now self-aware."

    It took me a moment to process that. I'm slow, not stupid. So I ask stupid questions to prove it.

    "Why did you make the computer self aware?" I am really not at the top of my game at the moment.

    "I was the most efficient way to..."
    "...Achieve the desired results."
    "The computer now has..."
    "...Intuitive feedback processing..."
    "...Capabilities with non-random..."
    "...Prediction logic, and enhanced..."
    "...Emotive cognition pathways to..."
    "...Better adapt to emotional context..."
    "...Affected by the user. It is a..."
    "...More user-friendly interface now."

    "Wait, wait, wait..." I pull something out of what they said, and it rings several bells in my mind. "You said, 'Enhanced emotive cognition.' Are you telling me you gave the computer emotions?"

    They beeped at one another a moment, then turned to me and One said, "No."

    "What did you mean by. 'Enhanced emotive cognition,' then?"

    "The computer can now..."
    "...process Emotions."

    Bynars can be really obtuse when they want to be. "It couldn't do that before. Now it can. You gave the ship's computer the ability to process emotions!"

    "We did not give the computer..."
    "...Emotions. The algorithm which..."
    "...Generates cognitive pathways..."
    "...Which allow self awareness have..."
    "...An emergent property associated..."
    "...With emotions. Emotions are an..."
    "...Unintended side effect."

    They didn't give the computer emotions, they only gave it the programming that gave it emotions. If they were humans I'd say they were equivocating. Bynar don't know how to equivocate. All yes, or all no. No 'maybe' in their thought processes. Okay, I can take a joke, but enough's enough.

    "How long will it take you remove the emotive cognition pathways?"

    The beeped at one another again, then turned to me and said, "We cannot," in unison.

    "Why not?" I asked. "It took you sixteen hours to install them. Surely you can take the upgrades offline?"

    "To do so would be..."
    "...To destroy an entity..."
    "...Which is self-aware."
    "That would..."
    "...Be murder."

    "Okay, look." I thought fast, and came up with a clever idea. "Can you go in and alter the pathways a bit? To make it a little less friendly?"

    "Emotion is a complex...
    "...network of processes."
    "To alter the existing..."
    "...Network would require..."
    "...Overwriting it with a new..."
    "...Process which would destroy..."
    "...The existing self-awareness."

    "So you can't do anything to fix it and you can't undo it?"

    They stood there blinking at me.

    "How many people have complained about the new interface so far?" I asked.

    "Only you," said Zero.

    "Of the eight-hundred people on board this ship, I'm the only one who is having trouble with the new interface?"

    "Affirmative," they said in unison.

    "All right." I'm decisive when I want to be. Usually right about the time there are no other real choices left from which to chose. "You're dismissed."

    I leaned back in my chair and rubbed my temples.

    When the door closed behind the Bynars the computer said, "Feel better now? I've replicated some soup; you need to eat. You have that meeting with the Agrosian Minister concerning their manpower contributions to the new orbital trade platform, and they prefer a cold environment. If you don't have something warm in your belly you might catch a cold, and you know how you hate to go to the doctor.

    "While you're eating you might want to call your mother, she's messaged you three times since you last spoke to her.

    "And sit up straight! Poor posture gives you a backache."

    I sit up straight and wonder, has a Starfleet Captain ever run away from his ship?
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,180 Arc User
    "Confirmed, sir, it's the USS Collins," my science officer said.

    "What's it doing here?" asked my helmsman.

    'Here' was The Void in the Delta Quadrant. Captain Janeway had reported meeting a warp-capable species which lived here during her trip through the DQ, but since that time nobody had reliable reports of actually meeting them. They seemed to be as elusive as starlight. It was just my luck to be given a 'First Contact' mission with a reclusive species which lived in the dark.

    "Mark the position most carefully, Mister Baott," I say to my helmsman. "I want to be able to find it later. Science, I assume you're recording all of this?"

    "Affirmative, Captain."

    I almost hate to ask, but Benzite Science Officers are somewhat less than forthcoming at the oddest times. "Any lifsign?"

    "Negative, Captain. Additionally, there appears to be a remnant atmosphere of nitrogen. Its pressure is low, but sufficient to sustain you if you were to decompress prior to transporting to the ship. You will require supplemental oxygen for any extended stays, and I am reading some exotic hydrocarbons which may require filtration."

    "You presume I intend to go over there?"

    "My apologies, Captain. I extrapolated based upon your previous behavior in similar circumstances. You tend to allow your curiosity to dictate your choice of actions in situations where insufficient data is available upon which to base sound judgements."

    "My compliments, Mister Rorda. You are going to make a good Science Officer one day."

    "With all due respect, Captain, I am a good science officer. After all, I have learned to anticipate one of Starfleet's most Quixotic captains."

    "Good, then you have already programmed three tricorders with the interior schematics of the... um, whatever class of ship that is?"

    "Crossfield, sir. I will have them ready by the time you get to Decon One."

    "Have the Duty Medical Officer and the Duty Security Officer meet us there."

    "Us? Sir?"

    Did I mention Benzites are almost as cowardly as Ferengi?

    "Us. Thee and me. We two. Standard away team gear plus filter masks with supplemental oxygen for me and the humans, and whatever gas you and any other non-humans may require while there."

    "Sir, I have not completed my analysis of the vessel."

    "Don't worry, your relief will do it. I need you to power-up the computer on that ship and see if you can extract the ship's logs."

    I turn to the engineer of the watch. "Max, I'll need two or three porta-power units with their settings adjusted to be compatible with the ship's systems of a Crossfield class vessel. Have them sent to Transporter Room One."

    "Aye, sir. I volunteer to go over there to check out the engineering systems."

    "Not yet, Commander. I don't want to start her engines, I just want her logs. We can discuss what we want to do after we get a reply from Starfleet about what they want to do. I'm thinking a prize crew could take her back to the Sphere, if not all the way to Earth. Would you like to command the prize crew?"

    "Absolutely!"

    "All right, get your team lined up. Volunteers only. And we make no attempt to repair or move that ship without Starfleet approval."

    "Aye, sir. Thank you sir."

    Decompression takes two hours. During that time I, a) hear back from Starfleet Jenolan DQ Command: they want the ship, b) hear many requests for consideration for the prize crew, which I forward to Commander Tirpitz, and c) get the opportunity to meet my away team.

    Lieutenant Rorda you've already met. There's also Lieutenant JG Xavod, a Fabrini internist, and Ensign Salvtore Rikki, a security officer from New Patagonia who specializes in Assault operations. I'm sad to report there are no current plans to assault the Collins.

    Decompression is boring, but I would normally be entertained by viewing a holo or reading. Today Mister Rorda insists on giving a lecture on the Crossfield class vessels. Decompression goes from boring to extremely boring.

    "...used a mycelial network to travel through space at speeds exceeding the potential of today's slipstream drives. The so-called 'spore drive' linked to either a solitary extra-dimensional plant or colony organism and, using the brainwaves of the drive operator, traversed this extra-dimensional space to arrive at the intended destination without traversing normal space..."

    "Wait, wait, wait." I said. "What's this about an extra-dimensional network?"

    "Apparently there was a life form inhabiting a realm of subspace which allowed a primitive version of transwarp to produce incredible linear displacement of matter," my science officer said.

    "So why don't we use it now?"

    "This may be the origin of transwarp conduits in use today."

    "I mean the organism. Why can't we use it to travel like they did, what, over a century ago?"

    "The best theory is that the plant or colony organism is now dead. Within ten years of the discovery of the Spore Drive, the mycelial network became undetectable."

    "So just after we build a class of ships capable of using this living creature as a means of travel it ends up dead?"

    "There is a matter of almost a decade between the advent of the Spore Drive and the death of the Mycelial Entity."

    "So we exploited another organism into extinction?"

    "There is inconclusive evidence on that point. Coincidence is not always causation."

    "Yeah. Okay." I leave him to go on with his lecture, but I can't help but think about the leatherback turtle, the blue whale, the dodo. Unless it's cute or food, we humans have a way of killing off species. Maybe that should be our first contact message: if you want your numbers to increase out of all proportions, become a staple food crop for humans. Otherwise, you'll end up extinct.

    The bridge of a Crossfield is all chrome and reflective surfaces. Our torches reflect back from a hundred angles. I can only imagine eye-strain was a major complaint of the crew. I'd hate to have to work every day in all of this glare.

    The filter masks are a bit uncomfortable, but they are necessary to cut down the smell. It doesn't seem to bother Mister Rorda. I guard him while he links the computer to his porta-power pack and I send Xavod and Rikki out to search for corpses or whatever. Everything appears intact, there are no evil monsters attacking. This looks like it will be a simple restart of the warp drive, share some fuel, and make our way back to the Jenolan Sphere. I'll leave the details of that to Max. She doesn't know it but she's due a command of her own soon. Maybe I'm sitting in her new chair now. Breaking in another XO will be rough. Breaking in a new XO and a new Chief Engineer will be tougher.

    "The computer is on-line, sir," says my science officer. "It is downloading logs to the tricorder now. I can speed the process by powering the communications console and transferring the files to the Enceladus."

    "Can you get the logs on the main viewer?"

    "Aye, sir, if I power up the main viewer."

    "Comm first," I say. Too late, I decide this should have been Max's mission. At least she could wander around and dream about her first command. I also decide I should have brought a good book to read.

    Across the bridge a console lights up. "What did you turn on?" I ask, mildly curious.

    "I didn't do that, sir."

    I smile. "Did it power itself up?"

    "Sir, I didn't do it," Rorda says, and I can hear the concern in his voice.

    I get up and walk over to the console. Engineering. It's powering up warp systems, as if it's getting ready to go to warp!

    I hit my com-badge. "All hands, prepare to evacuate!" I say. Then, "Jian to Enceladus! Four to beam out!"

    "Sir!" came the reply. "-static- up shields -static-"

    "I told you to LEAVE ME ALONE!" shouted a deep, masculine voice on the PA. I could feel the tingle of the transporter. Enceladus must have gotten a lock through the interference. I try to shut down the matter/antimatter reactor, but my hands have become insubstantial.

    I materialize in empty space, staring at the black void. You don't explode when you go into space. You do kind of swell up, and your capillaries close to the surface of you skin burst. Inside your eyes too, but I couldn't see anything at that point. But the air that's in your lungs wants out. Badly! and your skin begins to freeze.

    I manage to tap my combadge three times: the emergency beamout signal. My lungs are spewing blood with the last of the air. Sudden exposure to open space hurts. A lot.

    When I wake it's in a place where everything is red. A red medic leans over me and she looks a lot like Nancy D'Aggossi. This would be Hell, then, I thought. Red, and inhabited by the worst mistake of my professional career? Yep. Hell.

    I'm thirsty, so I try to ask for water. I get a croak, accompanied by blinding pain. That's when I notice the tube jammed down my throat. Thankfully Red Nancy vanishes. I try to raise my hand to do something about the tube, and again experience nausea-inducing pain. My skin must be on fire. I look, and see my skin is cracked and a strange color of purple.

    Red Nancy came back, along with Dr. Javis. He held up a P.A.D.D. that said, "Everyone is alive."

    I tried to nod, which also hurt. He must have seen it, because he clicked the P.A.D.D. and the words changed to, "Your eardrums are burst. You cannot hear."

    I could hear fine if someone would turn off that 4200 hertz tone generator.

    The next click said, "Your lungs are badly damaged, and will require extensive therapy."

    And finally, "Commander Tirpitz is on her way here now."

    Eventually Max arrived and she was as red as everyone else. I was happy to see her, but she looked sad, like she was about to shoot her dog. Turns out, she was. the P.A.D.D. she held up said, "Orders from Starfleet:

    "Commander Maxine Tirpitz, you are to assume temporary command of the Enceledus and make a course for Botna system where you will rendezvous with the Hospital Ship Tranquility. There you will offload your injured officers and resume your mission of First Contact with the Void Species.

    "You are hereby breveted to the rank of Captain, and authority is granted you to brevet as you deem merited other officers to fill the positions left empty by promotion.

    "Signed by R. Adm (LH) Chester Blankfield, Delta Quadrant Command Adjutant Director of Personnel."

    I looked. She wasn't wearing her new rank yet. I guess she didn't want to rub it in. She let me read the order twice. The implication in that order was that by the time the six months of the assignment was up, Enceledus would be her ship.

    "I'm sorry, Ben," she said. All I could hear was that damned 4200hz tone, but I could see her lips. And sure, she did look sorry, but it was her first command. She probably already had her party. I know I did when I got mine.

    After sitting in the big chair I can't imagine going back to staff. Damn me for being selfish, but I wish I had sent Max instead of going myself.

    She left me with the logs Rorda had salvaged. I had nothing else to do. One hundred and eighty hours all told, from twenty-six different officers. I know what happened to the Collins. I typed it out on a P.A.D.D, with a great deal of pain because my fingertips were still blistered and I was sloughing blackened skin which the medics were constantly slathering with a clear, greasy cream.

    The crew of the Collins never put it together before they were forced to evacuate on a planet in the Avanide sector. I think I know where it is. I'm going to go look as soon as I get a medical release, to see what they have built there over the last century. It's a bit off the mapped regions the Voyager went through. They weren't even sure where they were when the ship forced them off: by then it was running itself.

    But anyway, as the ship traveled the Mycelial Network, the network interacted with it, and the primitive intelligence which was formed in the extra-dimensional plant found a better home in the ship's computer. The Mycelial Network wasn't a plant. It was a single entity, a single brain. When it moved to the Collins it didn't need the network any more. Left untended, the plant died. And now he flies around the Void where he can collect antimatter and feed on theta radiation, which is as abundant there as it is in the Transdimensional Conduits used by the Borg and others.

    The spore drives stopped working because it required an intelligence inside the network to direct the energies that made them work. And eventually the entity got tired of shaking off the parasites, so it moved.

    We're lucky it didn't try the human approach: we'd have used flea soap.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,722 Arc User
    Da Nang, Moab III, January 11, 2415...

    "What's this?" Lieutenant Richard Scott (no relation to the famous engineer) peered suspiciously at the brew in the glass.

    "It's good, Richie, you should try it." Naya zh'Hestrel, his department head, urged. He peered at the Andorian Zhen, wondering if this was another of her pranks. "Come on, there was that ONE bad experience with the local food-would I steer you wrong?"

    "all the time." he said, and took an experimental sip. It was rich, heavy, and earthy.

    "It makes the food easier too." she confided, "Alcohol molecules bind some of the more potent compounds."

    They were in what amounted to an oversized street fair, on a world that threw the Federation out and sided with the Klingons back in 2406.

    "What're they celebrating again?" he asked.

    "Landing Day." she told him, "The day the first settlers arrived. There's food, and drink, and music, and it's more fun than being cooped up in the Embassy."

    Most colony worlds moved their 'landing days' to coincide with 'Federation Day', or with the celebration of Earth's unification, depending on how old they were. But some colonies kept their own, and those were usually pretty solemn.

    but then, most Colony worlds don't tell the Federation government to go pound sand, and hook up voluntarily with the Klingon Empire. Richard still didn't quite understand why they did it, especially on a hellhole like this one.

    Assignment to doing Diplomatic Security meant study-and Richard studied as little as he could get away with outside of threat assessments.

    Moab III had lots of threat assessments. a two year 'civil war' that read more like an exchange of threats and occasional terrorism, only recently ended, a planet that being outdoors like he was, involved using A-rad shots and a supplementary 'blood filter' suppository just to deal with the heavy metals contamination that filtered through the whole place, and that's not counting the parasitic vermin, dangerous wildlife (including a marsupialoid serpent whose bite kills you with, of all things, pleasure overload in seconds), and of course, a 'proto-state' full of people who fit the definition of 'insane' for most of the human race.

    And then, there's the food. What wasn't disgusting to taste, was often so spicy-hot that Klingons dare one another to sit through a full course meal.

    And somehow, Mrs. Scott's little boy Richie got sent here to guard a Federal diplomat for the next ten months.

    Somehow, he knew, this was going to be trouble.

    Bizarrely, his department head, Lt. Commander Naya zh'Hestrel, she wasn't in the least worried. In spite of a local average temperature that forced her Andorian bones into a Tellarite-style cooling suit, she was having a wonderful time here.

    and Naya seemed insistent that he also have a wonderful time here-whether or not said time was, in fact, wonderful.

    "come on! there's music!" she grabbed his arm, and dragged him through the throngs to what must have started life as a traffic circle, but somehow grew a stage.

    And on the stage...to Richard, the noise was more earnest and enthusiastic than actually good or musical.

    but his trained eyes could see that the majority of people were in some phase of inebriation or excitement, and a girl not two meters away, was shedding a tee-shirt as she danced, revealing scars and rough tattoos, piercings in places that made HIM cringe inwardly at the thought, and multicolored hair.

    He found himself jostled, then knocked from his feet, as the crowd began slamming into one another, is this a riot? a hand helped him up, and he realized he was looking straight up the entirely-bare-chest of the shouting girl, who was grinning and glassy-eyed. "careful, Starfleet! you're not ready to party you should hang back!"

    he couldn't see Naya anywhere nearby.

    The girl who helped him up, grabbed his other hand, "Dance with me!"

    There was something frantic in the whole scene, frantic, and alive. Party till the world ends..

    "...and we die young!
    Faster, we run!!
    Down and down and down you go.
    watch the blood flow in the bloody sewer...
    take another hit! and Bury your Brother!"


    it suddenly made perfect sense. The demographics of worlds like Moab III were a nightmare. short lives, high mortality, harsh conditions.

    Richie danced.

    KDF: Not supported by Cryptic, because according to them, we're not 'Real' Star Trek fans.

    Well, TRIBBLE them, I'll play KDF anyway.

    "We are the Federation. Resistance is futile, we will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own."-Cryptic Studios

    Advocacy
    simple logic process:

    The body is filled with so much blood...It's always more than you think!! -Dr. Dinosaur

  • knightraider6knightraider6 Member Posts: 370 Arc User
    edited January 2

    What do you get the Omnipotent Being who has everything?
    (A Masterverse side story)


    Starbase One, Earth orbit

    Dr Rhonda Evans had spent many hours here when she was on active Starfleet duty. Seeing it as a civilian, with her kids in tow, was definitely a change. The place had seen some renovations in the last few years. She didn’t have a lot of time to sightsee however, instead just passing through. They came in on a Ferasan Slithus class ship from Qo’nos. Faster than a commercial transport, and General K’tirr had dispatched this ship out to join the forces in the Gamma quadrant, hunting down the last of the Fek’ihri and the Hur’q that didn’t get cured. Thus Sol was on the way.

    From here she’d meet the USS Sarantities, a Nebula class that was on its way to Bajor. It would have more room than the Ferasan ship did. Important when traveling with small children. They would make it in plenty of time for the wedding. Normally, Starships didn’t carry passengers-but being still in Starfleet, just inactive reserves, did lend to space available travel. Going to Admiral Kanril’s wedding helped get her a ride as well.

    It was the holiday season, and she saw a familiar face seated on a floating chair in the middle of the atrium, annoyed looking security keeping an eye on the interloper and his ‘dancing girls’...who looked more like Ogres from one of the fantasy video games her younger brother played years ago. Of course, watch was all they could do...not like they could do more than ask Q politely to leave. The consequences to being impolite...well there was a Pug looking like it was wearing a Starfleet Captain’s uniform scooting on its rump by the chair. This of course immediately got her three year old daughters attention.

    “Puppy!” Missy Evans squealed, toddling over and scooping up the pug in her arms, dropping the toy dinosaur she was carrying.

    “He’s not a puppy, he’s Captain Merl Terlan.” one of the security officers muttered.

    Missy looked down confused for a moment, “Captain Puppy!”

    ‘Captain Puppy’s’ XO who was standing by the security officer tried and failed to suppress a giggle. “he's not a puppy sweetie” Commander Dallas said as she knelt down by the toddler “He just annoyed Q. he’s normally not a puppy.”

    “I don’t think he wants to be a puppy,” her mother added as she walked up. Rhonda just shook her head at the XO. “I’d have pictured him more a cat than a dog myself to be honest. Merl was almost always in danger of oversleeping back at the Academy.”

    Q looked down with amusement. “Well if I had known that-” there was a flash, and the Captain Puppy was now a very grumpy looking feline. “You’re right. That IS more appropriate.”

    Commander Dallas covered her face with her palm, muttering under her breath “please tell me someone’s recording this.” Missy squealed even louder and scritched the cat right between his ears, coaxing a grumpy purr from the feline.

    “I like puppys, but Kitties are nice too. I pretend I’m one sometimes.”

    “Why pretend?” Q grinned. There was another flash, and Captain Kitty hit the ground-as the toddler was now a small black and white kitten.

    “What the Hell?” Commander Dallas yelled “Q you’ve gone too far now-”

    Rhonda just sighed. “Q? Don’t let her stay that way too long. I’ve just gotten her potty trained...i don’t want to have to start on litter boxes.”

    Both Dallas and the Security were flabbergasted “he just changed your daughter!”

    “He’s not going to hurt her,” Rhonda replied confidently.

    “Of course i’m not!” Q sounded indignant. “I merely just gave her -oww!”

    It was probably more theatrics than actual pain-or maybe it wasn’t. Kitten claws were very sharp, as Missy climbed up Q’s leg and into his lap, playfully batting at the gold chain links around his neck. “-what she asked for.” Missy mewed happily, as Q absently rubbed her ears. “It has been a while Dr Evans. I would have thought you were avoiding me.”

    “I told you you could drop by anytime. Besides, you’re omnipotent, you know just what I’ve been up through lately.”

    “True true,” Q acknowledged. “This one takes after her namesake, I’ll give her that much. Very fierce and unafraid.”

    There was a small crowd growing now, and it took a moment for a smaller figure to work his way to Dr Evans, coming back from the men’s head. “Did you wash your hands?” she asked.

    Her seven year old son nodded. “Yes Ma’am. Where’s Missy?” Michael Evans asked a bit protectively.

    “She’s in Q’s lap. Michael, this is Q, an old friend of mine. Q, my eldest, Michael Q Evans.”

    It took a moment. “Wait..you named him after me?”

    Rhonda laughed “you’re omniscient, you didn’t know that?”

    “Well of course I did-but the problem with omnipotence, is sometime there is so much you know, that you lose track of things.” There was another flash, and both Missy and Captain Terlan were back to their normal forms. “I could say something about only getting his middle name.”

    “I named him after the other nigh omnipotent being I met back in Paragon City.”

    Q nodded “well having second billing to an Archangel isn’t bad.”

    To his benefit, Michael didn’t seem phased at all. “Nice to meet you Sir,” he told Q politely.

    “You don’t have to call me Sir” Q replied, “Just Q is fine.”

    “Okay Just Q.”

    Commander Dallas winced, expecting the boy to be turned into a targ, or something worse. Instead, Q laughed and reached down, picking up Missy’s toy dino and handing it to her. “You like Dinosaurs?”

    “Rarrrr!” Missy said mock fiercely. Michael nodded as well “Mom said on the way back from Bajor we can go down to the museums on Earth and see them.”

    “Museum? Bah! They’re much better live.” There was a flash, and Q and the two children vanished.

    “Oh TRIBBLE-”the security chief muttered, the starfleet officers going pale. The children’s mother on the other hand just sighed.

    “Q?”

    There was another flash-though this time just Q’s head appeared “yes?”

    “No more than a couple hours subjective please-Missy gets very cranky if she doesn’t get her nap.”

    “I’ll have them back before you leave” Q replied, then vanished again.

    “You’re just letting him take them?” Commander Dallas nearly shouted.

    “One, I couldn’t stop him, two, I trust him. Nothing will happen to either of them, and I can take care of some stuff that would have bored them. And do some Christmas shopping without them finding out what they’re getting.”


    Several hours later.

    The security stood watch around the empty throne. They weren't sure what they were waiting for, but they had a medical team standing by as well, just incase. Dr Evan’s wasn’t there-she’d returned to the station after a few hours Earthside, and was currently sitting in Club 47 talking with old friends, though from a seat where she could overlook the stations atrium.

    There was two flashes-though three beings emerged. Two walking, the third, asleep over Q’s shoulder being she was too big for her seven year old brother to carry. The Security troops relaxed when they scanned clean and unharmed, though Q looked troubled.

    “Did you have fun?” Rhonda asked as she walked up.

    “We did! We saw raptors, and T rexes. And we got to see the meteor! It was huge!” her son said with excitement. “They had feathers, but all different colors, we got to play with them, some of them were pretty smart.”

    “Wait-” a science officer replied “raptors-you played with them?”

    “Q was with us, we were fine” Michael replied. Q for his part looked a bit preoccupied as he handed Missy over to her mother.

    “What’s wrong?” she asked Q.

    “Your daughter is very persuasive I found out. She got attached to one of the small raptors-”

    “You didn’t let her bring it back did you?”

    “No no. But when we went to see the asteroid..she got hysterical. Didn’t want her dino to get hurt…”

    “What did you do, Q?”

    “I moved them. Not all of them mind you-just that raptor pack. A small world, in an anomaly somewhere in the Badlands. . They’re probably sentient by now.”

    Rhonda laughed. “I need to get going, the Sarantities is waiting for us. Thank you for taking them today. I guess you need to get back to handing out your presents.”

    “It amuses me” Q replied. “Watching oh so dignified Starship Captains cavort on ice.”

    “Which reminds me, I have something for you.”

    “Me? I’m omnipotent, what material object could I possibly need?”

    Rhonda leaned forward, carefully due to the sleeping toddler on her shoulder, and gave Q a hug. “That. Thank you.”

    “Thank me? For what?”

    “For caring.”

    “You know, you are only the second being that has ever said that. The other was your brother.”

    “What can I say” she grinned, “we’re weird.”
    Post edited by knightraider6 on
    "It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier." R.A.Heinlein

    "he's as dangerous as a ferret with a chainsaw."



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