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  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,669 Arc User
    edited October 2021
    Author's notes: This was written in October 2015, as part of the Star Trek Online Forums Unofficial Literary Challenge #16.

    Unofficial Literary Challenge #16: Prompt #2: The weight of command carries a heavy burden on the soul-- men and women have died under your command, and every order you make affects the lives and safety of all who serve under you. Given the numerous threats to known space, almost every officer serving in the Federation/KDF/Republic has been exposed to the horrors of war in one way or another. Your captain has been scheduled for a session with your ship's counselor. What do your captain and counselor talk about?​




    Unofficial Literary Challenge #16
    In Session

    The Defiant-class U.S.S. Dropzone sat out in deep space, doing its thing... Ship... thing... and stuff. Anyway.

    Captain Samya and her chief science officer walked down their tight, limited, red striped corridors in a hard-pressed attempt at old-fashioned follow-along.

    "A counseling session? You know I did all my post-Iconian-war trivialities on Earth, just a few days ago. There was a sibling-rivalry fight turned literal and everything," Samya interjected.

    Mika maintained a furrowed brow of disapproval. "Except your sister turned out to be a Changeling. Not only do you have that to deal with, but all the holes your violent tendencies manufacture regularly, like your niece and those animal things, are interfering with Starfleet behavioral ethics."

    "Ugh," Samya grunted as they passed the same corner for the fifth time. "Can we just enter, finally?" As the doors opened to the multi-purpose office Toji was occupying, Samya grabbed Mika's arm. "I'm going to prove to you how pointless this all is, and that acknowledging myself in Kyoto was all the ethic it or I ever needed. I'm referencing, of course, that time it produced all those Japanese Khan variants."

    Toji, the Starfleet counselor already sitting, raised a finger in opposition. "Ma'am, Mika's presence is against regulations."

    "A Captain's point supersedes the rules, Toji. You know that. I made you write a dissertation about it."

    The Bajoran man cleared his throat. "Well, let's start with the Iconian War, and how you dealt with coming to terms with all the deaths, Delta recruiting and plot holes."

    "Boring."

    Toji checked his padd. "What about those animal things Qu brought back? Before their eternal existence, you hypothetically-murdered without hesitation."

    "Pass."

    He scrolled down. "You left your 10 year old niece with an alien you know nothing about, and Starfleet now reports they're both missing."

    "It's like you're not even trying! She and that liquid mush are off having space adventures. She messaged me yesterday from the Orion slave trade."

    Losing patience, Toji put down his padd. "Uggh. Fine. Then explain to me these: How is Shakespeare a viable life force? Or, why was Qu speaking French? And why do you never have a phaser?"

    "It's out at the shop? I don't have all the answers, nor do I care that my methods excrete those questions. We're alive, and damn the consequences-- Shout out to Janeway. Aw yeah."

    With no other ideas, Toji stood up; his voice changing with slight alien-resonance. "Then you, Captain Samya, side with a genocidal maniac! Your science officer was right in that you couldn't follow the rules even if you tried!"

    "I may have said that to him," Mika confirmed. "I definitely said that to him. Also, my tricorder is reading a Bluegill inside of Toji, which explains why there was a pink tail sticking out of his mouth this whole time."

    Samya took to her feet as well. "Oh, real original Toji's handler. You know the Changelings and Undine have the market on that, right? And I can follow Starfleet diplomatic regulations just as well as any other drone, drooling officer."

    "Of course you would be an expert at falsification. We know all about your true plans, which the other Bluegills and I have drawn air-tight conclusions through from slimy, bug-like assumptions." Toji accompanied that remark with a leaping kick at her, to which Samya pushed his leg to the side to redirect. "Not to mention we're sick of your persistent bug hunts! We're not contained of mostly slime to be popped for your amusement!"

    He then flung out fist after kick after fist, each one being deflected by her, courting no other response.

    "Tell me, you Toji-worm," Samya talked, "What is it you think I'm doing? Let's chat. We'll hash this out, like bros."

    Mika took a position behind her. "Captain, shouldn't we tap our commbadges in a classic Starfleet whine for security's light-weight aggression?"

    "No. Clearly diplomacy is the answer to everything," Samya retorted just as the room filled with more Starfleet officers controlled by Bluegill. "It's your point. This is your doing."

    An Ensign pointed at her. "Foolish rank-accelerated hack! We work for the Iconian T'Ket by extension over the Vaadwuar and will stop your attempts at accessing them, to what we can only phlegmingly conclude is to Sela-them-up!"

    "Is that true? You really are Janeway-ing??" Mika's jaw dropped as she was over-taken by Ensigns.

    Several more Ensigns began throwing punches and Samya dodged her head back, slightly, at each attempt, refusing to give in. "What?" she said, confused. "Yes, I may have set up a meeting with a Yridian information dealer, but only because he could help me find my sister who was abducted by Solanae."

    "The Solanae also worked for the Iconians, in partnership with the Elachi!" Mika explained with a gaping Bluegill squirming all around her face. "Captain, forget what I said about behavioral ethics. The high-road is just a Starfleet drug we all take to inflate our egos."

    Samya then kneed one of her Ensigns in the stomach and multi-punched all the other Ensigns surrounding her. "Dammit, who the Hell wasn't working for the Iconians?? Clearly, I need to temper my tactics."

    "Ugh! Gah!" Each Ensign cringed and yelped in pain as Samya went around the room force-kneeing and force-palming broken limbs and shattered rib cages into each worm controlled flesh chunk until they hit the floor.

    Seconds later they all got up, better than ever. "Oh yeah. They have super-strength," Samya remembered.

    "Ladies." Commander Jarell entered the room with a silver platter. "Your phasers are back from the shop."

    Both taking their weapons and setting them to kill, Samya and Mika took out each Ensign after Ensign until they all hit the floor, permanently. With Toji, the spawn mother, remaining, the two women laid constant phaser beams while dodging each of his lurching punches after punches.

    "I'm sorry I just abandoned my ideals like some kind of Eddington wannabe, but I suppose your recklessness is more fitting than naught?" Mika said as Jarell watched Toji hit the floor in a hard thud. "And whatever's going on with our phasers is just going to have to wait to be explained in our next adventure."

    Samya kicked Toji to make sure he wasn't moving. "Yeah, I need to be more careful about the holes I manufacture. Now, are you going to help me infiltrate the Solanae or are you going to sit around all day talking about your feelings?"

    "No, ma'am; I'm ready for excessive, over-the-top violence that perpetuates morbid tendencies," Mika stood at attention.

    The Captain sighed in relief. "Thank you. You were just misled by Picard-ism. It affects one in six Starfleet officers. You're fixed now. You're mostly fixed." She then turned to her first officer. "Commander Jarell, please see to it that Mika and I get medals. Good ones. None of that Palm Leaf of Axanar stuff."

    "Yes, Captain." He bowed slightly before leaving.

    Samya looked at all the bodies. "Let's drag these into the warp core reaction chamber so the other Bluegills don't find out about them. They sent out that message in 2364 and nothing came of it, but we can't take any chances."

    Several non-taken-over Ensigns in the hallway stopped in shock and awe as the two ladies, hauling the Human meat bags, left sickening amounts of gunk and bug ooze in the carpets all the way to the engine room.
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,669 Arc User
    edited November 2021
    Author's notes: This was written in November 2015, as part of the Star Trek Online Forums Unofficial Literary Challenge #17.​

    Unofficial Literary Challenge #17: Prompt #1: Thanksgiving is a North American holiday that originated as a combination of harvest celebration and religious festival. Earthlings still celebrate it in the 25th century, but what did the nonhuman citizens of the Federation or neighboring states make of it? And most of all, what are they thankful for?



    Unofficial Literary Challenge #17
    What Are You Thankful For?

    The Steamrunner-class U.S.S. Tsunami tractor-beamed a distressed starship out of a decayed-orbit above the undefined world of Raatooras.

    "Will you be alright?" Captain McCary, upon the Bridge of his ship, hailed and asked.

    A pale, forehead-ridged Arin'Sen refugee named Tobias replied, "We will now, thanks to you. That's the last time we attempt a one-ship Kolvoord Starburst when leaving orbit."

    "Seems like you could have just left normally," McCary suggested.

    Tobias nodded. "Alas, we are victims of pomp and circumstance," he replied seconds before a Klingon Bird of Prey decloaked off his port bow and shot his ship down.

    The Tsunami crew watched in horror and shock as the Arin'Sen ship went careening back into the planet's atmosphere.

    "Talk about going on and on like some Betazoid sacred chalice owner. Well, they're crashed now," said the Klingon commander of the Rotog, after his image blinked on screen. "By the way, I am Captain Sigon."

    Wide-eyed and in shock, Captain McCary blurted, "What the hell, man?? We were just saving them??"

    "What? Why? This world is currently being conquered by the Klingon Empire."

    McCary crossed his arms in distracted realization. "Well, that explains why it wasn't appearing on the shared galactic map."

    "That map is too confusing! Earth is in the Beta Quadrant? I just don't get it. Also, what is the deal with your forehead? Your ridges look Klingon?" Sigon noticed.

    The Captain nodded. "I'm one-fourth, but, like most part-Klingons, we don't like to acknowledge it, except when forced into the Day of Honor by a Talaxian or need to explain why we get angry. I mean, it's an exclusive trait, am I right?"

    "I can't tell if your tone is sarcastic or naiveté. But, in the spirit of surviving the Iconian War, and for allowing our forces to be ordered about by the Kagran officer of unbelievable rank, I would like for you to join us at the tlho' poH Feast!"

    McCary hesitated. "Well, I am keen to learn more about my mysterious culture, which everyone keeps saying is the least mysterious of them all by now. So, yes; I will join you."

    ---

    Down on the planet, in an open square within a city center that was outfitted with dinner tables, food, and eating-Klingons, Arin'Sen slaves were being recruited and forced to truck barrels of meat and wine to jovial, indulgent-stuck war-mad invaders.

    "Welcome to the Feast!" Sigon opened, just after Captain McCary and two of his crew beamed in. "So, targ's out of the bag, we've annexed this planet before. You see, tlho' poH Feast commiserates a time of thanks and non-secular worship, to express what we Klingons are most thankful of."

    Lieutenant Commander Deborah asked, "And what's that?"

    "Our tradition of cultural imperialism! You see, every year we return to this planet as a family, conquer it, and have a feast!"

    McCary tossed his arms up in disappointment. "How could you ever think we'd be okay with that?"

    "Because we're allies? Don't look at me. It was the Iconians that brought us together." Sigon slapped him on his back. "Now, come have some traditional blood stuffing and blood pie!"

    Commander Morris turned to them. "He's got us there, Captain. Besides, I wouldn't mind trying the blood taters, to be honest."

    "Fine," McCary said, noticing a lone Arin'Sen kid scanning everyone from the sidelines. "Just don't let things escalate into genocide, no matter how natural that may come to us."

    ---

    Following the kid through an Arin'Sen communal area, into a poorly managed living district with tents and huts, McCary entered an unlit home where the kid delivered his scanner to his father and sister.

    "Hah! Found the rebellion, and all it took was luck-based detective work," McCary opened. "Sorry about barging into your home, by the way."

    From a dimly lit table where the two adults were, the daughter, Celecc, replied, "Well, of course there's a rebellion! The Klingons force us to rebuild our economy year after year, despite every now and then a small portion of us are able to escape via spaceship."

    "Uh, yeah," McCary added, nervously, while trying to avoid eye contact.

    The older man, Hemly, grumbled. "The time for Arin'Sen rebellion is over; vengeance must be taken, then repurposed, refitted and taken again."

    "Father, that's not who we are! Our people rebel in our own, passive way and we should be proud of that," urged Celecc. "Just yesterday, I sneered at a Klingon, albeit so subtle they thought they imagined it, but my point was made."

    McCary watched as Hemly got up, whipped his chair to the floor and left the tent. "So, you were just collecting data for passive-aggressive terror attacks?" McCary asked.

    "Never mind our brilliant strategies! The old man acts weird every year at this time; always going off to the caves, alone, hypothesizing our rippled forehead physiology allows us to commune with spirits or something," Celecc explained, trying to cover her forehead.

    The kid spoke up. "Papa made it work. Papa is the Sage."

    "Whoa, an arbitrary statement with no context," McCary realized. "That's precisely the motivation we need to 'explore' more into this, if you catch my word usage."

    Deborah nodded, confirming that she did.

    ---

    "Do you think that kid's one-off claims about his old man are true?" Deborah asked as she and McCary stepped into the dark caves, beaming flashlights all around.

    McCary shrugged. "They're a people who exist so another species can be thankful, therefore a higher power may not be so out-of-the-question, necessity-wise."

    "--INTERRUPTION BY LOUD SHOUTING!?" shouted Sigon as both McCary and Deborah became surrounded by his Klingon crew. "You've allied with the enemy in an instinctive repulsion against Klingon kind!"

    McCary replied, "More to the point that I realized what I was thankful for thanks to you-- which, in itself is a separate thanking, thank you very much."

    "Don't thank me: Thank your pitiful appreciation for Federation values, which you clearly desire to express through action, like some kind of action-value paradox," Sigon cursed just before spitting in disgust. "What you fail to realize is that every year we must fight the Sage which spawns in this cave, and threatens to destroy this planet and its people."

    They both turned as a hovering, glowing version of Hemly floated over and opened non-corporeal eyes at them. "This land has been disturbed by intruders. The Takarian people bare no witness!"

    "Wait, those are the people DiaMon Cide enslaved that one time? Their Sages went missing from the Delta Quadrant eons ago?" McCary hesitated before turning to Sigon. "Captain, this creature is antagonized by historical misconception!"

    Sigon replied, "Well, duh'gh! That's our version of 'duh' by the way."

    "Cleansing by means of extermination!" the modified voice of Hemly declared abstractly as he began flowing bands of matter destructive energy.

    McCary stole a bat'leth off a distracted Klingon and began hacking into the fused, part-corporeal entity. "Hey, my mother gave me that!" Klingon Engineer Poroka complained.

    The other Klingons joined in and, minutes later, the Sage left Hemly's body. Hemly fell to the ground, bleeding and in pain. "Well, it's about time," McCary said to the Klingon Captain, by way of some sort of resolution. "I was wondering when we'd discover a real reason behind all this. It's not justified, but at least there's some level of honor in all these horrors of late."

    "The what in the what-now?" Sigon replied, having been busy biting the head off an Arin'Sen sewer rat.

    Then, Hemly groaned as Poroka helped him to his feet. "Uggh. Same time next year?" Hemly managed to croak.

    "We wouldn't have it any other way. Qa'pla!" Sigon saluted.

    At those comments, McCary's jaw dropped. It was apparent the warrior class was working with the Arin'Sen to use the Sage for their own devices. McCary interrupted as Hemly began limping his way out of the cave. "Uh, what? Are you saying this whole yearly invasion thing is just some kind of interdependent role play??"

    Sigon hooked his bat'leth to his back somehow. "This is more than your simplification hullabaloo. We Klingons covet our reminiscings of real battles, and the Takarian Sage maintains that through authenticity. Like the Sage himself, memory is what motivates us."

    "Except in completely different ways! The only justifiable resemblance here is theme?"

    The warrior grasped McCary's shoulder in camaraderie. "And that has always been good enough for a Klingon. Come! We will feast on blood bread sticks!"

    ---

    Later, McCary, Deborah and Morris sat at a table in the town square with the Klingons, as large volumes of blood-based food were placed down right in front of them by lower-class Arin'Sen servers.

    "This feels wrong?" McCary hesitated in cognitive dissonance, seconds before taking a bite out of his Klingon bread stick. "Pass the blood butter?"
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,669 Arc User
    edited February 3
    Author's notes: This was written in December 2015, and was a take on the Star Trek Online episodic mission "Sunrise", utilizing direct dialogue from the game. Some edits have been made since.



    Season #10: Future Proof
    Sunrise

    The Odyssey-class U.S.S. Valhalla sat out in deep space, extracting Iconian probes from its dented aft hull. Rear Admiral Cid took a seat in his command chair on the Bridge just as they were suddenly hailed.

    "Greetings, Admiral. We've recently noticed that a star in an unexplored system near Ferenginar has become unstable. Find out why this star is suddenly dying, and make sure that it isn't going to be a threat to any nearby worlds or systems," came Fleet Admiral Jorel Quinn's sudden hail over the view screen.

    Cid was taken aback the sudden appearance. "Yes, sir, but I'm not paying those Ferengi parking fees again."

    An agreeable screen clicked off and Lieutenant Tetsu turned from helm. "Confirmed. Rather than stopping it entirely, we are to ensure any death and destruction is limited to the star system said horrors are to unavoidably happen in."

    "Seems legit," Cid postulated, brushing his graying thin beard. "Keeping our focus highly localized ensures reduced brain aches. Now, set a course for Deep Space 9!"

    Commander Raje paused. "Why?"

    "I just have this feeling that we should go there to pick up a scientist. Feelings are a thing, you know. It's a thing we humans get."

    ---

    After picking up Cardassian Solar Scientist Tanora Zuval at Deep Space 9, the Valhalla set course for the unexplored system Admiral Quinn mentioned.

    "We've arrived in-system," came Arkane's report as the ship dropped warp. "Still no indication of what's causing stellar decay."

    Cid raised an eye brow. "Well this system isn't winning any Okuda awards."

    The Valhalla flew forward several hundred kilometers and began scanning. Tanora reported, "Initial results don't make any sense. It's as if it suddenly decided that it was no longer going to do hydrogen fusion, just heavier fusion processes."

    "It's temperamental," Raje observed. "Pluto was the same way after Earth demoted it."

    The Valhalla then flew for the next closest body in-system. Next to it, they discovered a micronebula. Arkane began reading an energy surge which suddenly turned into three Mesh Weaver ships!

    "Tholians??" Arkane blurted. "What are they doing this far from the Assembly? Not to mention, they're somehow operating their ships with just two fingers on each hand??"

    Cid stepped up. "Now's not the time for appendage-based speculation. Return the shooting of the things! Weapons, I mean."

    Opening fire, the Mesh Weavers began circling and inflicting serious damage against the Odyssey-class vessel. Flashbacks to incessant Iconian battles rang through Cid's head. "Maintain shields! Return fire! And where is that raktajino I ordered?!?"

    The Valhalla swung around and fired a multitude of phaser beams and quantum torpedoes into the Tholian ships. One ship exploded, then a simul-spread of eight Starfleet-issue torpedoes, shot out in close-range, blew the other two Mesh Weavers to pieces.

    "Data's coming in now," Tanora returned to her console as the action died down. "Looks like there's some heavy ionization on the far side of the nebula. It's as if it's receiving some kind of reflected radiation from one of the gas giants."

    Raje pointed. "Helm! Slightly nudge us in that direction."

    "Activating nudge subroutines," Tetsu declared.

    Cid nodded. Approaching the spectacular blue-hazed, asteroid-orbited, gas giant, Nova began reporting more of her incoming data. "We're reading a few metallic asteroids and some low-level radiation."

    "Naturally occurring metal? Impossible!" Cid declared. "Oh, no, wait. I'm thinking of mettle. Now that takes Kirk-level resourcefulness starship Captains have been copycatting for centuries."

    Tetsu brought the ship closer to one of the moons orbiting the gas giant. Upon scanning, Nova made a discovery. "Admiral, I'm picking up comm traffic. One of these moons is inhabited! I'm picking up a few low-power warp trails! A few!"

    "If this is a warp-capable society, when we make First Contact, I may unintentionally do a Picard impression," Cid started. "If so, you are to act like that's normal."

    Suddenly the screen clicked on, and an unknown alien woman, pink, bald, with slender, forehead ridges, addressed them. "This is Administrator Kuumaarke. Please provide identification."

    "This is Admiral Cid of the U.S.S. Valhalla. I represent the United Federation of Planets in much the same way a Ferengi represents kyphosis sufferers."

    Kuumaarke replied from her ship, "Welcome to Lukari. We have a solar probe ready that contains the booster module that needs to be fired into the star. Could your ship get a trajectory plot so that we can set a preprogrammed course?"

    "We'll look into it," Cid replied. "Are six to eight weeks okay? Hah! Just kidding. Science is our main thing."

    At that, Cid and Nova began plotting the trajectories, after which they transmitted the information to Kuumaarke. Seconds later, the mission was underway.

    "It's gone to warp!" Kuumaarke reported. "The probe is arriving at the solar corona. Deploying chromodynamic booster..."

    But there was no response, only confirmation of a hard and difficult truth.

    "No effect," Kuumaarke's voice dropped. "It didn't work. Repeat. It didn't work."

    Cid was hit with flashes of Iconian War failure: The assault on their people, Sela's fury, and wave after wave of Herald and solar probe attack. He then saw Kuumaarke take notice. "Oh, uh, next time, then."

    "Thank you for trying to help," a weary Kuumaarke replied in defeat before cutting out.

    Arkane's console alerted. "Sir, an unknown vessel is entering the system. Small, but can't get a reading through its hull."

    Seconds later, a grey-skinned man appeared on screen. "My name is Kal Dano. Looks like I've arrived at the perfect...... time?"

    "Whoa!?" Cid jumped back at the remark. "A time traveler??"

    Kal Dano continued. "How'd you know? Anyway, I'm here to help with the problem with this star. I'm a scientist as well."

    "Okay, but we need to digest this first— Like, what's your favourite Edge of Ettiquette song right now?" Cid asked.

    Shaking his head, Kal explained, "If my plans were sinister, I'd just leave and let the star run its course."

    "Fine. But later, I want a copy of that tiny ship for the Federation," Cid suggested. But then he realized. "Wait. What use would we have with that weensy thing? Propping up bigger ships, I guess?"

    Suddenly, the screen split to a double view, with Kuumaarke now on one side. "If you have some way to reverse this process, my people should be involved. But it will take me a little while to get a shuttle out there."

    "Oh, don't you worry, we won't need a shuttle," Cid reassured whilst arching his eye brows up and down. "That's all I'll say on that matter. I hope that doesn't alarm you."

    ---

    In a few minutes, Cid, Raje, Arkane, Nova, Chief Engineer Fuu and Kuumaarke all beamed into Kal's ship interior, a giant metallic-plated, circular room.

    "You moved me here without crossing the intervening space!" Kuumaarke recognized, in shock. "You have quantum teleportation technology!"

    Kal chuckled. "Yes. We call it a 'transporter'. It has a limited range, but it's useful for going from surface to ship. Quicker on plot too."

    "Impossible. This ship's interior is massive, even though it's no bigger than a shuttle," Kuumaarke peered around in even more shock.

    Cid interrupted. "We're short on time, so no need to expl—"

    "—My ship uses compacted subspace folds," Kal elaborated. "It's bigger on the inside."

    The Admiral raised his brows. "Ah, so we're doing that, then."

    "This vessel is from the 31st century and I have some technology that can help. I need you to align this matrix to match the star's original spectrum."

    He clasped his hands. "Finally, the Admiral gets to do the grunt work. I'll do the things!"

    "Sir," interrupted Fuu as Cid went to work on his task. "While scanning, I got some data on Kal Dano. He's a hybrid of human and Vulcan, with a small amount of DNA from the people of this world."

    Cid finished up. "He's like a ceviche. Thanks, Fuu."

    Suddenly the ship came under attack, and several Tholians beamed in. Cid and his team quickly pulled out weapons and went to work at taking them down.

    "Damn! My therapist said I wasn't supposed to get into fire-fights anymore!" Arkane complained as he counter-attacked. "Also, I have to start paying her?"

    As Kal Dano prepared his device, Cid's crew took out the Tholians.

    "Thanks. In just a few minutes, it'll propagate a quantum waveshift that should correct the star's stalled fusion process."

    Cid slung his rifle over his shoulder. "Perfect. But let this be a lesson to you: Never trust crystalline people and/or entities."

    ---

    Returning to the Valhalla, the crew was suddenly ambushed by more Tholian ships. Cid took his seat at the Bridge.

    "Give us the Tox Uthat," came a Tholian transmission.

    Kal Dano provided commentary to the Valhalla. "Wonderful. Now the Tholians want my quantum phase inhibitor!"

    "That's what that thing was this whole time?? There was a whole Picard side trip, with the Ferengi and the love interest and— Ah, never mind. I see what you're doing here."

    Retuning fire, the Valhalla and Kal Dano's timeship battled the Tholian vessels. A direct spread of quantum torpeodes to the lead enemy vessel, blew it to pieces. Kal Dano drilled a beam into the last Tholian Weaver until it blew as well.

    He then turned his timeship at the star and blasted a quantum waveshift at the Lukari star. In a bright flash of light, the star re-ignited.

    "It's working!" Came the excitement of the Cardassian scientist, Tanora Zuval. "The spectral readings are off the charts!"

    Raje was taken aback. "Whoa! Forgot you were still here."

    "They're attacking our homeworld! Please, help us!" Came the hail and plea from Administrator Kuumaarke.

    Cid stood up. "On our way. But you should really get your own warships. Well, look at me, lecturing you. Like Starfleet's without its flaws?"

    Entering into battle, the Valhalla phasered and torpedoed Tholian Mesh Weaver after Mesh Weaver. Giant walls of energy webs nearly boxed the Odyssey-class ship into place, causing Cid to have even more flash backs to his time in the Iconian War.

    "Ugggghh. So much purple!" Cid grasped his head until he was grabbed by Raje.

    SLAP! The Saurian hit his own superior officer across the face, in hopes of snapping him out of his self-indulgence. "Admiral, the Iconian War was necessary for peace and something to shoot at. Just like this situation."

    "You're right," Cid shook his head and regained his focus. "Thanks, Commander."

    The Valhalla turned and fired direct phaser beams at Tholian web joints, nullifying their threat. Ship after ship were then destroyed by continuing torpedo fire, including the cause of which by the help of Kal Dano's timeship.

    "Thanks for the help," came Kal Dano's hail as the debris settled into a space-spread motion. "But the Tholians managed to steal the Tox Uthat, a name that I'm going with all of a sudden. I suspect the Tholians destabilized the star so I would bring it here."

    Cid slumped into his chair. "Dammit, Kal. We'll have to get it back from them somehow."

    "This is all to do with the Temporal Cold War. I'll be in touch."

    After the screen cut out, Cid dropped his jaw. "Who just blurts that out? Never mind."

    "Thank you for your help," Kuumaarke hailed, as it was finally her turn in the queue. "I wish I could ask you about your science, your trade, your society— but I am sooo late for my report back home. I suppose we should alert Lukari that the world isn't ending now. Do you have any idea of the constant looting? It's crazy!"

    The Admiral smiled. "First Contact with another species is one of our most import—"

    "Didn't you hear what I said? I have to go! Kuumaarke out!"

    When she returned to her planet, the Valhalla departed the star system. They were suddenly hailed by Admiral Quinn over long range communications.

    "A First Contact is a significant event that I thought we'd never do again. Thanks for balancing us out after that massive Iconian War."

    Cid sighed, rubbing the red cheek his first officer gave him. "Well, someone had to deal with it, I suppose. Just don't tag me as a classic case of post-traumatic stress disorder. That would just cause me even more stress!"

    "Sounds like a causality loop," observed Quinn. "Here, have a Quantum Phase Torpedo Mark XII."

    After the screen cut out, for the third time, a chirp erupted from Arkane's console. "It says we have mail and there's an attachment?"

    "More firearms, it seems. The fight isn't over. In fact, it's our lifestyle, and I suppose we'll have to accept that. Take us to our next mission, Tetsu. Something light-hearted, but serious about satisfying my expectations in impossible ways."

    The human tapped at his controls. "Well, there's this whole thing with the Na'khul. I'm sure that'll be a simple one-off with no continuing annoyance over and over again?"

    "Sounds good. Engage!"

    The Valhalla jumped to warp, to what may be an unwitting partaking of the Universe's ultimate play of temporal shenanigans.
    Post edited by hawku001x on
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,669 Arc User
    Author's notes: This was part of a small series of short posts, written in December 2015, as part of a Star Trek Online forums thread that invited players to post their Captain's logs. This specific log is a reference to a bug in-game where KDF players were temporarily able to beam into Earth Spacedock.​



    Captain's Log, Part V
    Menchez, IKS B'Cnah; Vor'cha-class

    B'Cnah Combat log, 185th day in the year of Kahless 1036. We laid accidental seige to the Spacedock, more commonly known as the Super Star Mushroom Base. How it refuses to orbit the Earth, I will never understand. Upon arrival, we saw a land flourishing of Starfleet kind. They were... happy, as if frolicking in some sick Federation-glee. I do not get it. Are they just euphoric for merely existing? The sight did make my mighty Klingon stomach turn. In fact, I regurgitated my targ breakfast in several of their Federation fountains before I could join the other Klingon Captains in their attempt to de-Quinn-enize the Human grief that is their essence. All in all, it was an interesting visit. I would never want to live there. To go through a day without a ten minute live gagh bath is to accept a fate worse than Gre'thor.
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,669 Arc User
    edited March 7
    Author's notes: This was written in December 2015, as part of the Star Trek Online Forums Unofficial Literary Challenge #18, which was a holiday repost of Literary Challenge #69, both based on the in-game event of the same name. This revisits the concept of the Winter Wonderland last visited by Captains Seifer, Menchez and Aeris in ULC 69, and carries on from events in LC 68: STO Halloween, Parts I, II & III and Seifer's most recent Captain's log.

    Unofficial Literary Challenge #18: Prompt #1: The ancient tradition of Terran Winter Celebrations is such a festive and playful time in STO! Q is back and he brings us more Winter fun this year, with new snowmen, new weapons, new ships and more. This month's challenge is to write your own crews story centered around the event and festivities of the Terran winter season. But don't stop at Earth! You can tell us stories about any cultural celebrations from across the Star Trek universe. Perhaps the Andorians have tales of mysterious Vulcans who sneak into their homes at night and replace their toys with logic puzzles. Perhaps the Bajorans have a winter tradition that they hold dear involving incense and an Orb of Jolly. Maybe the Borg Queen is all alone on New Years and just longs for the day some dashing Android will meet her under the mistletoe and help her kill all humans. Or maybe your crew discovers a planet of elves who are ruled by a fanatical toy maker with a thirst for egg nog. Let your imaginations fly this month, and add your own twists of Trek Holiday Lore to the universe!​



    Unofficial Literary Challenge #18
    Winter Wonderland Celebrations

    The Steamrunner-class U.S.S. Tsunami bobbed and weaved its way through a smorgasbord of festive-colored ships parked near Earth Spacedock. McCary beamed onto the transporter pad aboard Deck 47.

    "Joy of the season, Captain!" an Adult Jackal Mastiff approached him and said. "Oh, I'm Captain Terry of the U.S.S. Kitana. You see, I challenged Q-Junior's claim on his power-- a claim that's obviously disputable considering he was once trapped on the U.S.S. Voyager-- and then he transformed me into this beautifully grotesque thing. Isn't it wonderful??"

    McCary squinted, unconvinced. "What? Aren't you on duty?"

    "Hehehe!" Terry ran off, excitedly.

    The main concourse was full of creatures, strange and mystical. Stepping passed two Large Talarian Hook Spiders, a War Targ and an Enslaved Hordling, McCary was stopped before a green Gingerbread Andorian eating into a struggling Gingerbread Klingon's side.

    "Ugh! Andorians aren't cannibals??" McCark recoiled.

    When the misty-eyed Gingerbread Andorian took notice of McCary's witness, he ran off in an animalistic gruff. The Gingerbread Klingon huffed and heaved for a few seconds before passing out all together.

    "He must've been a left-over Winter Wonderland pet from when that bunch of Klingons were able to beam onto Spacedock," Captain Samya observed, approaching from the left.

    McCary took notice of her. "Oh; Captain Samya? I didn't think you'd still have your Starfleet commission after that space-transport incident."

    "Those children deserved to burn to death in plasma!" And then, realizing, "Did I mention they were Undine? Perhaps I should mention that more often."

    McCary took out his tricoder. "I was okay with the first part. Anyway, why would an Andorian-version cookie, normally peaceful, turn on its own baked-kind?"

    "If my Science officer, Mika, were here, she'd say they were delicious and unavoidable by every holiday measure. Thankfully, Bridge officers aren't allowed on Spacedock."

    The quarter-Klingon Captain read off his device. "I'm still reading the Gingerbread Andorian; he's emitting some kind of energy wave distortion."

    "Can you be more specific?"

    McCary showed her the tricorder. "No, it actually says 'some kind of' on this thing."

    "WRAGH!" In the next second, in the distance, Captain Terry, now morphed into a maddening and drooling Warrigul, pounced and hungrily decimated the off-base walking cookie before realizing what he did. "Oh no! I can't be full for my Fastest Game on Ice grind??"

    Samya turned to McCary as the Starfleet Warrigul ran off in fear. "Those pets originate from that incessant Wonderland. Perhaps we'll find more information there?"

    "Very well." McCary nodded while pulling out his phaser. "If you see any epohh 'friends', shoot them on site. Don't even hesitate."

    ---

    Flashing into the joyous Q's Winter Wonderland, onto the blue, semi-transparent gazebo, McCary and Samya were suddenly hit with the pungent aroma of candy canes and lollipops.

    "Ugh! This place is utterly repulsive," McCary partially blocked his eyes as they adjusted to the light.

    Samya nodded, in-process assimilating herself. "I wish I was dead."

    "You've been here five seconds and you're already bringing down the place," came Captain Terry's comment of disapproval as he approached in Devidian Visitor form.

    McCary jumped back in mild shock. "Whoa! Maybe warn us before you do that?"

    "I'm embracing the season, which would do you two obvious-trauma-hordes good if you even tried," he replied, floating passed them toward the Breen Race Coordinator.

    Samya turned to McCary. "Should we?"

    "Hell no," he replied, studying his tricorder. "Hold on. I'm getting some kind of echo-based residual wave reading."

    She crossed her arms, annoyed. "Would you please stop with the 'some kind ofs'? I once executed my Operations officer for that." And then, "Oh, he turned out to be a Changeling."

    ---

    Making their way into a forgotten forested area, next to a stone mountain, McCary was suddenly attacked by two wild-eyed generic Gingerbread men.

    "YYaarrggh!" Like rabid animals, they leapt onto his shoulder and arm and attempted biting into him, hungrily.

    McCary threw one off him and Samya crushed the head off the other. "Sickening," McCary commented as the cookie head debris of the remaining breadman crumbled off his arm. "What happened to their holiday cheer?"

    "Spent on that." Samya pointed to a field of half-eaten, partially aware, moaning Gingerbread men and women.

    They were all groggily reaching out for each other in cannibalistic hunger. "Candddyyyy brainnnsss..."

    "Chocolate innardddds..." another moaned, hungrily.

    Captain McCary put his tricorder away. "By the ripped-out shirts of high-strung-Kirk! It's like they tore through their nasally-pitched, annoying ice-coated necks out of pure greed?"

    "You could say it was bound to happen, considering the commercially avaricious nature of the holiday season; proliferating indulgent tendencies, funded by the Ferengi Commerce Authority."

    McCary shook his head. "No one will ever admit to that. It must be something else." He pointed at a glowing point-of-light-portal, perched at the end of the partially alive cookie massacred field.

    "I'm reading another pocket universe," Samya reported as she scanned it with her tricoder while the two of them carefully stepped around each halved, grasping Gingerbread man. "It's similar to this one."

    McCary kicked a reaching Gingerbread man to pieces as both he and Samya approached a small, hovering, blue spark. "There was a report from the U.S.S. Phoenix-X about an imitation Winter Wonderland from a similar Q-like being. There were Borg-puns, Neelix-jabs and everything."

    "Yes, that one was made by Qu. He spells his name differently, but it sounds the same. I met him when he turned my crew into singing references. I ended it with Blue Skies," Samya added. "There weren't that many other songs to choose from."

    Captain McCary furrowed his brow. "We should put an end to this manufactured fakery right away; the some-kind-of energy wave distorted, echo-residual base readings are more condensed here."

    "Alright, you're on a time-out for explaining things."

    After McCary reprogrammed his tricorder into sending a feedback pulse at the point of light, the portal opened up and engulfed the two Starfleet officers.

    ---

    Appearing on the other side, McCary and Samya found themselves surrounded by jungle vines, in a hot and muggy palm tree-filled environment: Qu's Winter Wonderland.

    In a dark recess of foliage, before them, was a vine-bound figure, draped in shadow, on his knees, decaying nearly beyond recognition. His uniform was torn.

    "Starfleet??" McCary began scanning, in shock. "A Trill?"

    Samya pushed a giant, nearby leaf aside, lessening the shadow over the man's face. "Captain Seifer??"

    "Uuhh," the decrepit supposedly-young officer groaned in pain. "The light hurts my eyes."

    McCary kneeled to his level. "But it's dark? And where have you been this whole time? A bunch of us Captains have been picking up your slack."

    "Sorry, I'm having Slamek flashbacks," Seifer admitted. "Indeed," he continued, struggling to speak, "It would seem the Calibus VII virus that got my crew, previously, has been reactivated. I've been living off Gingerbread men for weeks."

    Samya checked his flakey forehead temperature. "It's not as bad as you described in past reports?"

    "Someone, I don't know who, must've partially reactivated the virus in us, so it's not as effective. My crew and I are in perfect health some days, where we can complete missions, but back to decaying on others." He tried to get up, unsuccessfully. "I booked passage here through a Traveler named Wayfar because I meant to ask Qu for help-- Instead, I get maddening games and living jungles."

    McCary tilted his head. "Living?" And then, suddenly the foliage all around them began moving, growing and tightening around Captain Seifer.

    "Forget about me! I can get out of this. But any help you can provide on who's working that virus would be great---"

    The two of them stepped away as the jungle engulfed him and a thick, curling vine accidentally knocked McCary and Samya back toward a point of light.

    ---

    Both Captain's then found themselves back in the normal Q's Winter Wonderland. The portal that was there previously was now gone.

    "Looks like I pushed the energy distortions on this end to the other end," McCary reported from his tricorder. "So, it's a one-way wormhole now."

    Samya picked herself up. "You see what uncontrolled effects we get when we work off generalizations? Also, it seems the problem is worse than expected."

    "GGrrgghh," came the drooling sounds of infected Gingerbread men, stumbling out of Qu's pocket dimension. More and more Gingerbread zombies began flooding out of thin air, piling on top of each other in partial crumble from jungle moisture.

    McCary and Samya ran to a safe distance. "We should probably change Wonderland instances," McCary said. "This one's experiencing some kind of a cohesion loss."

    "Well," Samya shrugged. "At least the air isn't full of cotton candy anymore. Missions aside, perhaps we can appreciate this waste of a universe after all, considering what we just experienced."

    McCary put his phaser away. "Fast and the Flurrious then? With the prize tags, we may be able to gain access to the epohhs."

    "Agreed." Samya nodded as they both left the piling Gingerbread mess. "Perhaps we may pay a visit to that overbearing Talaxian as well. I must learn more about his weaponized leola root stuffing."
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,669 Arc User
    Author's notes: This was written in January 2016, as part of the Star Trek Online Forums Unofficial Literary Challenge #19, and connects to events from LC 64: The New Frontier.​

    Unofficial Literary Challenge #19: Prompt #1: In which one of your bridge officers is selected to serve a tour on a ship from the opposing faction.



    Unofficial Literary Challenge #19
    The Officer Exchange

    The Steamrunner-class U.S.S. Tsunami dropped out of warp in the H'atoria sector like some kind of space-traversing mechanical conglomeration.

    Approaching the Klingon Bird of Prey I.K.S. Rotog, Captain McCary and Commander Morris beamed over to its dank, sterile Bridge of dread.

    "Thanks for answering my distress call, Captain," Starfleet officer, Deborah, said, turning from her seat at tactical. The entire area was full of unconscious Klingons; blood drenching the floors like a badly handled meat processor. "Apologies for the mess."

    McCary crossed his arms. "Have the targs finally rebelled?"

    "No, sir. The targ supply has run out due to it being Beast Appreciation Month," she replied. "This; I have no idea what's going on here. Sorry, sir, but it appears my progress in the exchange program has been a failure."

    In a bustle, Captain Sigon exited his ready room and joined them. "Utter baktag! Your Lieutenant has been more than exemplary!" he defied. "I just ordered her to the Messhall this morning for early drinking, as we all know, from Riker to Jadzia episodes, that that is the only circumstance one can truly bond with a Klingon."

    "I am quite drunk, sir," Deborah admitted in her usual deadpan tone, betraying no intoxication whatsoever.

    McCary looked at her, bewildered, then away. "Never mind. What can you tell me, Captain? And please, let this not be an obvious Arin'Sen revenge story. Despite the justice they'd be serving tenfold by your repetitive enslavements."

    "I know! I even offered them the idea of that, but, alas, their bones are as brittle as Ferengi knee caps." Sigon sighed. "No, it all started this morning: We had just completed our usual hit-and-run on your Starbase 234 when suddenly systems throughout the Rotog went haywire. Next thing I know, my night-shift Bridge crew is taken out-- My existing BOFFs are fine, though; for continuity's sakes."

    The Captain turned to him in complete shock. "Whoa! Are you serious right now? You know we're not supposed to break the fourth wall!"

    "Puncture wounds." Morris interjected, examining one of the unconscious Klingons. "Looks like some-thing was responsible for this."

    McCary sighed. "Damn the Federation's on-again off-again relationship with the Klingon Empire. We send acronym text-based transmissions with pictorial faces and smiling droppings and you never respond. Fine. For the sakes of my Lieutenant, we'll check things out-- But no Warrior's Anthem! The group synchronicity elicits forced camaraderie."

    ---

    Walking down the eerily dark corridors with flickering lights, McCary, Morris and Deborah pulled hard on keeping their wits about them. Following closely behind, Sigon held his disruptor at the ready.

    "Whatever has got this ship is emitting high-energy interference," Morris reported. "Internal scanning and your mercury vapor, phosphor coated tube lights have been severely affected."

    Sigon replied, "When it comes to deck lighting technology, we Klingons are centuries behind."

    Then, grunting sounds and wheezing breaths snapped its way to their senses but it was too black to see what was making it. For Sigon, the scent was clear.

    "He is Klingon!" Sigon identified. "Bekk Tars, if I'm not mistaken."

    McCary shone his palm beacon into the corridor. "Don't move! We're investigating first-hand rather than by proxy-hologram which would make much more sense."

    "Heegghhhh," Tars uttered through his own bodily pains as he was lit up. Patches of brightly colored fur had grown, unnaturally out from his-self all over his body. "UGGH!"

    A surge of agony shot him to his all-fours. The group ran over to check on him. "It's.... fur?" Morris examined. "It looks like Tribble fur?"

    "Feels like it too," Deborah added, petting a furry patch coming out of Tars' shoulder armor. "Err, that's the blood wine talking," she explained quite soberly as McCary and Morris looked at her quizzically.

    McCary perked up. "You know something, Lieutenant. Tell us the truth about what's going on here."

    "Sir, this exchange program has confused my loyalties," Deborah admitted. "The truth is, Sigon ordered me to secrecy over his murderous hunting objectives. We'd been chasing a prey for days, and instead of sleeping were sent to the Messhall to drink."

    Sigon stepped around. "It was important to me that we differ ourselves from the Hirogen somehow; those warrior rip-offs! As a one-fourth Klingon yourself, Captain, I'm sure you understand."

    "You see, earlier this year, the U.S.S. Phoenix-X visited a parallel universe completely occupied by Tribbles in space," Deborah explained. "When they returned, unbeknownst to them, a single, solitary Tribble was brought back and escaped."

    In the dark, McCary could have sworn he heard purring. The thought of it sent chills down his spine.

    Sigon continued: "From that one spaceborne Tribble, a whole colony was bred! Klingons everywhere cried out in pain! With your officer's help, we've been tracking them throughout the sector."

    "Then it's clear," McCary finished. "My Tactical officer appears to have switched allegiances. Oh, and these spaceborne Tribble are fighting back."

    Flashing his palm beacon around, he unintentionally revealed the group to be completely surrounded by angry, self-aware, parallel universe Tribble.

    "AaaH!"

    The fuzzballs then began buzzing in unison. Their adorable vibrations converted through the universal translator. "Your non-space, combat-buff Tribble are a failed evolutionary variation descended by the ancient one, Trebbly; one of our own."

    "He/she was sent to your universe eons ago to facilitate Tribble Space. We must ensure this original goal continues!" another proclaimed. "All of your space are belong to us!"

    Sigon pulled out his disrupter. "The Empire will not bow to these puffy-veQ! We stand for roughness, hard looks and the generational-tangents that made us that way! Destroy their cute little faces!"

    But the Tribble were faster and leapt onto each of the humanoids, biting into McCary's skin. Morris tried to pull out his phaser but was taken down by a flurry of fuzz. Deborah's neck was pierced and bloody, while Sigon fired his disruptor until his hand was covered in furry fury!

    "The Tribble have got us! If Bekk Tars is any indication, their venom re-sequences our DNA. We'll soon become one of them!" Morris cried in agony.

    Debroah struggled with her miniature attackers, pulling one off her face. "Captain! When we confronted these spaceborne mothballs, it was the Tribble themselves that explained to us how they got to our universe... one, giant Tribble."

    "The Mother Tribble!" McCary realized through his fight. He struggled to glimpse what looked like an overly humanoid-sized ball of fur, emerging at the other end of the corridor.

    Deborah added, "It's the one that traveled here with the Phoenix-X."

    Under continual attack and the pains of transformation, McCary rolled his fur-building physique over to his fallen phaser, and crawled his way toward the Mother Tribble.

    "Enormous hair monstrosity, I wish to discuss your terms of surrender," McCary offered, aiming his phaser.

    To that, all the small Tribble scurried away to the sides in fear. The Mother Tribble vibrated in response. "I am known as Tribblone and our purpose is reproduction; not to destroy others. These transformations are a biological confusion."

    "Your self-impregnating Tribble-venom is selfing us into Tribble! As such, I propose a non-aggression pact," McCary suggested. "We leave you alone, and you stop converting us into one of you."

    The dimly lit, giant fuzz-machine cooed in agreeance. "It is done. But we will occupy all of known space eventually. We have already permeated your universe with utmost adorability!"

    "SQUEEEEEE!" Through the dark, the little creatures all leapt back into the fur of the Mother Tribble while she, herself, re-merged into the darkness.

    The lights in the corridor then flickered on. Deborah, now part-fur, took out her tricorder and read it. "It's leaving the ship through one of the ports... Like the Rotog just coughed up a hairball."

    "Well, it's clear now your treasonous ways were a product of pure investigative drive in service of the unnatural-- a reflection of the Tsunami's own efforts," McCary breathed, appeased, while checking out his own partial trans-fur-mation. "Is anyone as ichy as I am?"

    Sigon got up and tore the growing fuzz from his neck. "It is not the last we've seen of those fluff-multipliers. And your insidious diplomacy has triumphed over my destructive war-mongering; but this remains a win for the unchecked Klingon genome none-the-less! Thanks."

    "So, is the only reason your species goes on because of us?" Morris asked.

    Captain Sigon shrugged. "Probably." As the group made their way back to the Bridge, he continued, "To that, I foresee this as the start of a wondrous relationship!"

    ---

    Entering the Bridge, McCary, Sigon, Deborah and Morris discovered all the unconscious Klingons replaced with large, lumpy-ovals of fully-converted, fur-drenched Tribbles. The nightshift having completed transformation did not bode well for the four.

    "Well, it was fun while it lasted!" Sigon corrected. "Warrior's Anthem anyone?"
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,669 Arc User
    Author's notes: This was written in February 2016, as part of the Star Trek Online Forums Unofficial Literary Challenge #20. This entry didn't follow the prompt exactly, instead reinterpreting it and mashing up all Captains I had used for the ULCs so far as a 'big finale' to them.​

    Unofficial Literary Challenge #20: Prompt #2: Planet X. The Ten Planet. Nibiru. Throughout Earth's history, the tale of a mythical ten planatoid has both intrigued and confounded scientists for eons. The rumors of the mysterious "Grey Aliens" has been connected to the legend as well. According to Vulcan research, Klingon folk lore and many other ancient myths from across the quadrants, the Greys were considered to be a phantom race, a myth. But with so many mentions across thousands of cultures all across all four quadrants, the evidence that the Greys existed is staggering, and with it comes proof that Nibiru exists. Soon, the planets of the Sol, Qu'onoS and New Romulus systems will all align at the exact same time. Three gateways will open into one single dimensional anomaly. The path to Nibiru. Starfleet, the KDF and Romulus Command all want to investigate this lost world. Your mission: Orbit Nibiru, make contact with the Greys and, if need be, prevent the cataclysmic event Nibiru's appearance is said to bring. You have 24 hours before the planets fall out of alignment and close the dimensional anomaly. But be careful, Captains. The Greys were so secretive not even the Iconians had concrete knowledge of them. Anything that could hide from Iconians cannot be good news. It's almost here. The planets are aligned. Nibiru...is coming."



    Unofficial Literary Challenge #20
    Nibiru, Part I

    In the unlit, nearly empty Operations center of Starbase 55, Captain Samya sat working diligently at an ops console not in any state of awareness for the overly windy swooshing sounds of the nearby turbolift.

    "Burning the midnight oil?" asked Admiral Cloud, slyly, more sure than anything that he was being original with the use of that phrase.

    Ignoring the failed attempt and his sudden creep-like presence, the second Human replied, "Huh? Oh, no. I'm reinforcing local systems so that we can finally get back to Tier V construction."

    "Damn that computer virus hologram that knocked us all the way back to Tier II," Cloud cursed to himself and at his holographic Intelligence officer. "How is Mayhem even still in Starfleet?"

    Breaking off her lean from her console, Samya paused. "More to the question: Where'd all the extra decks go? Never mind. I'm sure the answer is as comprable as the premise."

    "Don't you mean comparable?" Cloud tilted his head, slightly in confusion, suddenly gaining a view of her console. "Wait. That's not local system reinforcement at all? You're accessing intel on the Solanae to find your lost sister!"

    With the jig up, Samya looked straight away. "Fine. But can you blame me? I don't exactly maintain a social roster for interpersonal proxy. Besides, you're no Starfleet boy scout yourself. How does a starbase operate without a night shift?"

    "The shift rotation is easier this way! You know how I hate too many padds on my desk. Why are you even on this station all the time? Don't you have your own starship?"

    Turning to him, Samya threw up her arms. "The Dropzone is a Defiant-class! That's like asking a balding Lurian to do his drinking on a Klingon shuttlepod!"

    "Ah, perfect analogy," Cloud appraised. "Anyway, I came here because I need you to join your task force in the Azure Sector to investigate an alarming set of pseudo-anomalies."

    Sighing, the tactical officer turned in her seat. "Fine. But, why us? Why not Captain Shon and the Enterprise-F, since everyone seems to love them so much? They think they're so good."

    "Unfortunately, they're in the Bajor system, catching up with all the new Mirror Leeta stuff. It's quite confusing, timeline-wise; they're there, but they're here, but they're there? Non-time travel mechanics gives me such a headache."

    ---

    Later, the Steamrunner-class U.S.S. Tsunami exited warp and joined the Dropzone in the Azure Sector near several small, spinning black holes.

    "Burning the midnight oil, Captain Samya?" came the sly hail from Captain McCary on the Tsunami.

    The Dropzone answered back, relieved. "I know it's the middle of the day, but you hit the nail on the head with that phraseology."

    "The last time we were all together, we were ambushed by the Seventh Fleet," the one-quarter Klingon commented with a hint of concern at his joining her. "They suspected we were Changelings masquerading as masquerading Undine."

    Samya waved it off, deftly. "Yeah, but we set them against Battle Group Omega after we masked Omega's signatures as Borg ships. They were attacking each other for weeks!"

    Just then, the Akira-class U.S.S. Hijinx dropped out of warp and approached. "Well, this is a sight of implausibility to be had. Any preliminary scans or snarky one liners yet?" came Captain Reynolds' hail from her ship as she split everyone's screens two-ways.

    "You know as well as we do that we're supposed to form a giant arrow in the direction of the anomalies, first," Samya reminded.

    Rolling her eyes, the Betazoid replied, "Great. I see we're maintaining typical Task Force Epsilon procedure. Why don't we just paint targets on our hulls while we're at it?"

    Next, the Centaur-class U.S.S. Jenova dropped out of warp and took first position near them. "What?" Captain Iviok asked, splitting the screens three-ways. "Are we not doing the pointy thing?"

    "Task Force Epsilon is going to forego the pre-mission formation this time around," suggested McCary. "Also, let's not broadcast the royal fanfare either."

    The Andorian threw up his arms. "So we worked triple shifts on our Tier 1 engines for nothing? I lost two men to excess technobabble! Anyway, why are we even called Task Force Epsilon? Aren't the Greek letters re-assigned per crisis, per grouping?"

    At that, the Intrepid-class U.S.S. Crucial dropped out into normal space right next to the other ships. Captain Menrow hailed from his Bridge, splitting all screens four-ways. "To answer your question, which I am just assuming since I was at warp at the time, Starfleet has put us and several other grouped starships on long-term task over the Federation's rehashed storyline ambitions. Thus, we will likely never be disbanded until something original comes along."

    "Then I suppose we should all get to the space thing that's usually a one-ship space thing," McCary concluded.

    Reynolds replied, "We're still missing our command vessel, the U.S.S. Phoenix-X. Anyone see them?"

    "Uh, it's been forever since we heard anything from Captain Seifer," Iviok answered. "I just figured they died from that undead-like virus thing; seemed like screaming in sheer pain and horror was a good way to go."

    McCary stepped up. "Actually, Samya and I ran into him in a broken incarnation of Winter Wonderland, recently, after which he reportedly returned to his ship just fine."

    "In our off-hours, we investigated his second sickness and found no signs of malevolence," Samya reported. "As for the ailment itself, we still don't know where it's coming from."

    Reynolds tapped her chin in thought. "Is this because the LCs are dead? Oh, LCs are what I call Last Calls, which they stopped doing at 602 Club ever since we got hit with, like, three wars at once. Anyway, who's in charge if there's no Phoenix-X?"

    "According to Starfleet Regulation 191, Article 15, in any situation involving more than one ship, command falls to the vessel of the Intrepid-class variation," said Iviok.

    Widening his eyes in shock, Menrow replied, "That's me! I knew this spoon-beast would come in handy. And everyone said I was just asking to be lost in some random Quadrant of complete absurdity."

    Rubbing his hands together in excitement, Menrow brought up the space visual, splitting every screen, now, five-ways.

    "So, what have we got here? A bunch of black holes?" Menrow observed before processing. Then, in disgust and a sudden dash of hopes, replaced with frustration, he declared, "That makes no sense!"

    Reynolds chimed in. "He's right. Normally, they're collapsed stars and too concentrated to co-exist without orbiting or merging themselves."

    "My ship is reading an inconsistent flow of thermal radiation coming from those swirly-curlies. They appear to be sputtering in and out of the space-time continuum!" Iviok reacted. "Oh, and they're all drifting toward us."

    Everyone watched as their ships became immobilized under intense gravimetric suspensions. Then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, the Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X coasted, just far enough from out behind the black holes and slowly began passing the group, on a nose-down, 60-degree angle.

    "That's Captain Seifer's ship!" exclaimed Reynolds in shock.

    Menrow sighed in alleviation. "Phew. Well, that's a relief. All this task force commanding was making me thirsty. Margaritas, anyone?"

    "Hold that indispensable thought. I'm not reading any lifesigns on-board the vessel," reported Samya. "It's as if the polygons didn't spawn at all-- er, I mean, everyone evacuated for some reason."

    Iviok crossed his arms. "And here we were, ready to dismiss that over-nacelled-mashup because we wanted to break standard procedure. Seems when people are grouped, they come to poor conclusions."

    "This is why our task force was used as cannon fodder during the Iconian War," McCary stated. "We told everyone we wanted to negotiate each battle with diplomacy, and that group-think got our comm signals all entangled."

    Reynolds added, "My ship still blasts microphone feedback every time I hail someone."

    SCRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    Everyone quickly turned down their volume controls.

    "Would it be better if we weren't near each other? Would that make things right?" interjected Captain Menrow. "As Epsilon's acting commanding officer, I hereby rule we do all we can to work autonomously, in far proximity from one another, however vexing it may be to accommodate, to complete whichever mission we perchance be assigned."

    As they nodded in agreement, all five Captains were suddenly beamed off their ships and onto the Bridge of the Phoenix-X.

    ---

    There, together, on the Prometheus-class vessel, they found holographic virus and Starfleet Intelligence officer Lieutenant Commander Mayhem standing over an operations console.

    "Oh, hello," Mayhem greeted, turning to take notice of them. "Are you familiar with the Nibiru? Well, they're this week's alien of the week."

    TO BE CONTINUED
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,669 Arc User
    edited June 15
    Unofficial Literary Challenge #20
    Nibiru, Part II

    In the flickering, run-down Bridge of the Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X, all five Captains looked on in awe and shock at the virus hologram standing before them.

    "Qu!" barked Samya. "I mean, Mayhem! Sorry, that just seemed natural."

    The Intelligence officer stepped around the railing and approached them. "There's no time for your signature randomness! You see, those small artificial black holes are orbiting each other on chaotic paths, threatening to lock us in gravitational suspension between them forever!"

    "In English, holo-man!" ordered Iviok.

    Mayhem rolled his eyes. "That was as dumbed-downed as I could get it. I one-time beamed you all here, the so-called brains of your ships, so that you could get the Phoenix-X online, faster, before certain eternal destitute."

    "What about our own ships? They're already trapped inside that system-disabling, space-time mish-mash!" argued Menrow. "And what happened to this ship??"

    Activating the main viewscreen, Mayhem, replied, "We'll be back for your crews once we're online and done." He replayed an image of an attacking Breen vessel. "In the meantime, the Phoenix-X was ambushed by these popsicle mystery men, who were trying to obtain supplies to get home in some sort of full-body-armored Janeway rip-off."

    "Our engines are completely offline," Iviok noted as he accessed a nearby console. "The Breen version of Tom Paris must've over-clocked an energy dissipator."

    Nodding, the hologram continued, "Yes, and all while I and the crew of Phoenix-X were on a mission from Starfleet Intelligence to render the phenomenal activity on these black holes inert."

    "What kind of activity?" asked McCary.

    Mayhem answered, "Highly volatile space-time warping-- which we were warned about, from a lone signal long ago, by an unknown species called the Nibiru-- which I successfully stopped by using purple matter."

    "Dammit! You can't just make up matter and assign it a color!" Reynolds declared.

    Shaking his head, the virus finished, "Unfortunately, your precious Captain Seifer agreed and had his entire crew hijack that Breen vessel in search of another cluster of artificial black holes... for something called a 'redo'."

    "He's mad," realized Menrow. "It's that obsession of his with a 'magic reset button' all over again. Odd, though, that he reported that so we would all know."

    Crossing her arms, Samya said, "And let me guess, we know nothing about the Nibiru because your program is infecting the Federation database."

    "I need to infect something!" Mayhem defended. "That's like asking a Bolian not to be a hairstylist."

    Menrow turned to the other Captains. "Seifer is our mission now, considering he could facilitate untold damages to all that is good and safe in the galaxy."

    "Like the time you enslaved the Takarians in the Delta Quadrant?" Reynolds reminded.

    The Captain waved it off. "Ferengi possession doesn't count! Besides, my body is still recovering from tube grub overdose." He then addressed each one, down the line; his stomach aching. "Iviok, go to Engineering and get the engines into safe mode. Samya, check the status of the weapons. McCary, update life-support systems. Reynolds, run a diagnostic on the deflector dish. I'll ensure main power holds up."

    "You do realize we're playing right into the do-not-work-together reversal, don't you?" Samya clarified.

    Menrow countered, "I realize that pointing out something's a trope is itself a trope! Dismissed!"

    ---

    Captain's Log, Stardate 87446.9

    As Acting Commanding officer of Task Force Epsilon, I, Captain Menrow, have taken command of the abandoned U.S.S. Phoenix-X. It turns out Captain Seifer littered his entire Ready Room with leola root tart wrappers. How can one man eat that much junk food? Anyway, we've engaged warp in safe mode and are following the last known coordinates of the Breen Chel Grett warship Darkseid. As odd as it is attempting to acclimatize myself to this new role over my peers, I am fairly certain we will not succeed as a team. In fact, it's more likely we'll buckle under our own incompatibilities. The only question is how soon?


    ---

    Reynolds entered Engineering where Iviok was hard at work, managing the engines by himself.

    "Damn the Phoenix-X! Where does the X even come from?" she asked. "Are they just trying too hard to be what they used to call 'cool'?"

    The Andorian examined the intermix chamber. "Judging by this conglomeration of engine core, it would appear the vessel was being used as the test ship for everyone's on-again, off-again transwarp ability; the engineers must've burned through twenty-four other Phoenix-named ships to get here."

    "Makes sense-- Which is the least I can say about my own senses. You see, my Betazoid mind has been hearing high-pitched drilling noises ever since I beamed onto this Admiral-approved flying-shovel." She massaged her temple. "Ohhhh. I'm nearing full-Troi."

    Iviok moved to another console. "At least you don't have to rebuild major components everyday of your life. On my Tier 1, Centaur-class starship, interstellar dust gets into the cracks and then wedges our hull plating right off into space."

    "Clearly deserving," she added. "You command a ship that uses a crank to power up its transporters."

    Pointing back, Iviok replied, "Hey! We save on environmental energy waste that way. Though, we do over-compensate in excess antimatter."

    "I'm just going to pretend this conversation never happened," Reynolds said seconds before she was interrupted by a nearby console. It displayed her now released deflector controls. "Whoa. I think those black holes have been hitting the Phoenix-X with psionic energy??" She checked her data. "No wonder I've been considering putting my head into a food decompiler!"

    The other Captain perked. "That would only take your hair, by the way." And then, "Hmm. Using that correlating data, we may be able to build a defense into our shields using a modulated delta wave frequency."

    "This better work, unlike that one plan we had to hog-tie Captain Menrow."

    ---

    Samya entered the Conference room to find Menrow at a wall panel, fixing a main power circuit.

    "Is it just me, or is there an entire deck floor completely cracked and broken?" she asked.

    Menrow stepped away from his work. "Oh, yes, that's from Seifer's pet Horta Hatchling. You get used to the randomly warped gravity." He sighed. "Which is the least I can say about being in command of fellow-ranked officers."

    "With all due respect, Captain, but I believe I should have been the one in command here." She stepped up. "I'm not susceptible to body-switching and I'm quicker at making decisions."

    Rolling his eyes, Menrow answered, "Oh, please. You're reckless and have been self-involved ever since your sister went missing. You're probably looking for her right now!"

    "How dare you?" she started seconds before an incoming hail from a Yridian information dealer came through the wall screen, indicating her search request for her sister garnered no results. "Well, can you blame me? What makes my own blood less relevant than Seifer's?"

    Menrow gave in. "Now that I've had a chance to review all the stolen Forcas III trophies in this room, I'm certain nothing does. But, this is our current mission and we have an obligation to do what is right and utilize available sources to complete it."

    "Huh," she paused after typing in the request onto the touch screen. "The Yridian is saying he did hear something about a Breen ship in the sector. I'm sending him a billion energy credits to tell us where; it's not much money, but it's all I'm willing to part with."

    ---

    As the Phoenix-X changed course, Mayhem entered Sickbay, where McCary was accessing a console in the dark.

    "Captain? I just came here to infect the EMH like I do on every ship I visit?" Mayhem entered slowly, trying to get a view of what McCary was doing.

    Then, turning in shock, McCary revealed himself to be covered in random patches of fur, sticking out of his sleeves, tearing through the Odyssey uniform front and white shoulder cut. "Don't look at me!"

    "By my programming God, some guy named Lester, the rumors of you turning into a tribble are true!?" Mayhem was taken aback.

    Breathing heavy, McCary continued. "That's just the thing. We did reverse the transformation on ourselves and the crew of the I.K.S. Rotog, in time, with the cooperation of both ship's Doctors, resulting in minimal hair spread." He attempted to turn to address the hologram. "But ever since you beamed me onto this disease-drenched dirt-ship, psionic energy has been resequencing me all over again."

    "Oh, ugh--!?" Mayhem began puking holographic numbers and mathematic symbols all over the floor as he took in the realization of cross-cultural teamwork. "Working with Klingons? You organics disgust me!"

    The now rainbow-colored-hairy one-quarter Klingon, three-quarter Human stepped toward Mayhem. "Tell me the truth; were the Nibiru targeting the Phoenix-X? Is this what caused their Calibus VII disease to resurface?"

    "Of course!" Mayhem held up his photonic arm in disgust-filled defense. "The purple matter may have settled the artificial black hole clusters from becoming erratic, but it wasn't enough to stop their psionic radiation."

    Picking off loose pink fur, McCary realized, slowly but surely, "The Nibiru are causing the clusters and Seifer is going after them."

    Then, a communiqué from the Bridge broke through. "Menrow to all Captains. We've engaged... the Borg-- I mean, the Darkseid."

    ---

    Dropping warp in the Qo'Nos sector, the Prometheus-class Phoenix-X approached the Breen Chel Grett warship Darkseid.

    On the Darkseid's massively, smoky Bridge, Captain Seifer and his partially-deteriorated crew operated the vessel before a series of artificial black holes.

    "Captain, how are we even still alive??? Also, we have the target in sights," Armond reported from tactical.

    Kayl turned from her Operations console. "The canister is loaded. We'll only get one shot at this."

    "Did anyone check out the Breen quarters? Even their beds are covered in environmental containers?" Doctor Lox questioned, perplexed. "They leave everything to the imagination."

    Kugo entered the Bridge, "Engineering checks out as I expected-- a complete nonsensical configuration. I touched nothing."

    "Ah, you guys. After all our forced on-and-off bed-rest, it's good to be working with you again," Seifer sighed, truthfully.

    Turning from helm, Ensign Dan asked, "Even me?"

    "You're relieved!" the Captain yelled, upset.

    Menrow's hail from the Phoenix-X broke in, and the screen clicked on, interrupting them. "Your ship to Seifer; we know you've been severely affected by these clusters and we have a solution: Iviok has lined this ship's shields with a modulated delta-wave frequency. We know it works because it has stopped McCary's tribble-ing. That's a thing now."

    "Whoa! The whole Task Force Epsilon team is here?" Captain Seifer reacted. "We never got along? Remember that Klingon troop we ambushed, only to turn all our weapons on each other instead? The troop just left us, laughing."

    The other Captain sighed. "You promised never to speak of that again! Besides, we figured out how to work together, like we were supposedly trained to do. I believe the activator was immediacy."

    "Uh, you fell right into a reversal, is what you did. Well, it doesn't matter anyway. A ship modification is not enough as we're going to use blue matter to transform these clusters into a portal to the Nibiru." Then, chuckling, "Can you believe how easy it is to create matter and assign it a color? Darkseid out!"

    Armond tapped at his controls, scanning the Phoenix-X's next actions. "Sir, they're preparing their own colored matter in response...... red!?"

    "What? Those Cap-slacks really did overcome their inevitable, collective failure," Seifer bemused. Then, realizing, "They're going hit our blue matter with red matter and make purple matter!?"

    Kayl replied, "That'll disable this cluster like the last one."

    "Not if I can help it. We've been suffering through life without our LCs-- oh, Lissepian Candies, to clarify-- for far too long. Target the Phoenix-X and prepare the Breen Tom Paris'd energy dissipator."

    Kugo turned from her controls. "It's ready."

    "Sorry, Epsilon; you did good, but not Third Fleet-good. --Fire."

    Seconds later, a white fizz of energy was shot out from the Darkseid and into the Phoenix-X, knocking all its systems offline, once again.

    The Breen ship turned to the cluster of black holes and ejected a canister of blue matter into it, forcing the holes together and opening a large tunnel in space-time. The Darkseid then flew through, somehow circumventing all forms of spaghettification, gravitational lensing or loss of electrons.

    TO BE CONCLUDED
    Post edited by hawku001x on
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,669 Arc User
    Unofficial Literary Challenge #20
    Nibiru, Part III

    In the exhaust-filled, spark-flinging darkness of ship-interior-ness, Menrow, Reynolds, Iviok, Samya and McCary found themselves just waking off the floor, together, from simultaneous unconsciousness.

    "Damn! We failed our self-given mission worse than Riker mounting an uncalculated bar stool," cursed Menrow.

    Samya gripped her head as she sat up. "Please don't bring that up. Ever. Again."

    "Our lack of visual is messing with our references. Let me get the light." Iviok felt around for a control panel in the dark.

    But, instead, he flicked a switch which let out the floor beneath them. All five Captains fell through and out of the ship onto a red, grassy land: They were crashed on Planet Nibiru, in a forest, and the ship they were in was the Breen Chel Grett warship Darkseid!

    "That wasn't the light," countered Reynolds. "And outer space has dirt now?"

    A nearby shuffling sound was followed by Seifer's voice. "You're on an alien world, Reynolds. One, the likes you have never seen! I'm guessing. It's not like I can read your mind. Welcome to Nibiru!"

    "Captain??" Samya, followed by the others, turned to behold a nearby area of forest where Seifer was caught in an elaborate trap.

    Walking over, the group viewed that Seifer was being suspended above them by a complex system of primitive red bamboo-like sticks.

    "After we went through the black hole portal, I realized Mayhem had transferred himself over to the Darkseid's Bridge," Seifer explained. "He must've beamed you guys over, last minute, to help stop me. Well, I took care of him."

    Seifer revealed a mobile emitter in his left suspended-arm's palm.

    "He actually stole this from Voyager's Doctor out of holographic competition. Typical Section 31! Am I right?"

    Menrow's jaw dropped. "That's the second time he transported us!? And he's with Section 31??"

    "Oh, come on. Like you couldn't see through that pretentious elitism? He's like a message board user who harps on your writing any chance he gets," Seifer explained. "You see, Section 31 does whatever they want. It's they who have Geordi's VISOR."

    Samya clutched her head. "This is too much to process. What is it you want out of all of this then?"

    "I just want to negotiate the release of my crew's Calibus VII re-disease-ening. The Nibiru somehow reactivated it; they can stop it."

    Iviok began examining the bamboo-like contraption. "Oh, they can do anything, can they? Like, capture Captain Seifer? At least now we have you, the same way the Enterprise-D was able to hold on to Doctor Tolian Soran."

    "Maybe if we had built a defense against that dissipater instead of some pointless psionic shielding, we wouldn't be crashed on this planet right now," countered a hairy McCary.

    Reynolds began massaging her temples from a resuming barrage high-pitched telepathic noise. "What do you mean? That's how we stopped you from going full Tribble in the first place!"

    "The fault lies in our commanding officer. I should have been the one to lead us, my sibling-search notwithstanding," Samya turned to face Menrow.

    Shaking his head, Menrow erupted. "You know what? You're all on a time-out! I want each of you to find a red tree and stand, facing it, to think about what you all have done!"

    All five Captains began talking over each other in anger until their raised volume activated a mechanism on the trap, erupting a strange alien call out from a bamboo-like tube.

    "It's the prophesized ones!" came an alien voice, freezing Task Force Epsilon's energized discussion. Its speaker, a Nibiru with white skin and black lines around his head, approached. "I am First Leader Nune and we have been calling to you through the Heavens!"

    In no time, the group was surrounded by more Nibiru. They collectively deactivated the trap and let Seifer down to be free.

    "These traps are for the untamed naked drakoulias. They eat the delicious flesh of anyone in the Red Forest," one of the other Nibiru explained. "My name is Cela and I am Second Leader."

    Seifer was freed. "Your 'calling' has somehow reactivated a sickness in me. Who targets a starship with copious levels of psionic energy from a planet anyway?"

    "Oh, we do! Our psychic powers are amplified through the Heavens, and their Heavens' Heavens, eternal," Nune said while one of the other Nibiru played around with the mobile emitter. "And its use of the genetically-altering power of ones mind acts to reveal you as our God! We are all now the Great Birds of the Galaxy!"

    Then, Mayhem was suddenly activated prompting Menrow to react in shock.

    "Oh, for the many alien loves of James T. Kirk! Whoever the actual Great Bird is must be spinning in his bird grave."

    ---

    As the group was escorted to a small pre-industrial village, fashioned together in red structures, they came upon a giant crystal at the center of the town. There, several Nibiru Priests were knelt, ritualistically feeding psionic energy into it.

    "This is all our fault," Menrow said to his team of four Captains while Seifer and Mayhem were drifted away by the locals. "If we could only maintain a work-together paradigm like we were supposed to via the reversal, we could have taken Seifer back to the Darkseid and out of here by now."

    Samya sighed. "I hate to admit it, but Margarita-Head is right. What's more, is that we let Mayhem get the best of us, twice."

    "Perhaps, instead of allowing fate or tropes to define us, we should define ourselves," Iviok suggested. "I accept that our group has a clichéd Captain's team hand-stack ritual before every mission."

    As he held out his hand, waiting for the others to join him, everyone decided to just nod in awkward agreement instead.

    "I can read that you are all not happy with circumstances at present." They were then approached by Cela, the Second Leader. "Only a small portion of my people have mental powers, and I use mine to survey social cliques."

    Reynolds nodded. "As one should. But what's it to you, Stripe-Face?"

    "I, too, do not believe we need a 'God'," Cela replied. "To me, there is no such thing, and what we witnessed over a century ago does not correlate to our definition of who we are now."

    McCary was taken aback. "An atheist?? A pox on thee!"

    "Yes," the Nibiru woman rolled her eyes. "Not all us Nibiru are as foolish as our head-tilting ancestors, just 151 years ago, when they gazed the saving of our world by an obese metal bubble-bird."

    Menrow tapped his chin. "I kind of want to know what that is, but I also kind of don't. Also, can we leave on our own free will?"

    "Yes, but your friend Seifer will likely be executed when he disavows being our God," Cela answered. "Our mental powers are highly developed, but only at sacrifice to our maturity levels."

    Samya shrugged, contemplating it. "Well. I mean, he had a good run with those LCs that one time, right? Oh, Leola Crepes."

    "And there is another problem," Cela continued. "Your non-mind holo-friend has gone somewhere with Nune, the First Leader. Nune seeks mortal power over all Nibiru Countries-- even the weird ones."

    Iviok added, "We're two for two! Now Mayhem can do all the evil schemes he wants here. It's in his programming after all."

    "You know what?" Menrow started. "You two are on a time-out! Go stand next to the psionic crystal!"

    ---

    Later, Menrow, Samya and McCary approached Seifer and a group of Nibiru, just outside the red forest. Seifer was preparing for a run.

    "Captain, once you disavow your God-hood, the Nibiru will kill you," warned Menrow. "And, according to B'Elanna Torres, the correct afterlife is the Klingon one."

    Seifer smirked. "Who in their right minds would disavow something like that? Also, are you going to join me in the chase ritual? It turns out, everything here is high-octane and adrenaline-running!"

    "I haven't run since my Academy days. Twisted my ankle chasing mini-Q after mini-Q," McCary added, raising his tribble-fur-covered arm, as his body had resumed transformation.

    Seifer looked at him. "You're weird. Well, anyway, Task Force Epsilon belongs to all of you now." He addressed the three. "If you could not-ruin her with Warp 10-salamandering or anything, that would be great." Then, interrupting himself, he added, "And, GO!"

    "Didn't a Klingon named Menchez do that once?" Samya asked before realizing Seifer and the group of Nibiru jumped into a run for their lives through the red forest.

    Menrow, McCary and Samya looked at each other in reacting-shock and then decided to run after them!

    "Does-- my-- speaking-- in labored-- breaths--- constitute-- as 'done-to-death'--?" McCary asked during the sprint.

    Menrow and Samya replied, "YES!"

    As red trees whipped by their fields of vision, sounds of naked drakoulias could be heard all around them.

    ---

    Reynolds and Iviok secretly followed the holographic virus, Mayhem, and the Nibiru leader, Nune, toward the tall volcano in the distance. Inside the hole, within the depths of the mountain's innards, it appeared as if an entire lava explosion was frozen and hardened in place.

    "This is where we avoided death, oh great one," Nune said. "Our lives are renewed thanks to your Starfleet kind-- the Great Birds of the Galaxy!"

    Mayhem agreed, as he carried a Breen device with him. "That's actually true since most of Starfleet is run by Aurelians now. Anyway, we must complete your renewal here with one of our own rituals, as reciprocation." And then, to add, "An eternal reciprocation..."

    "Hold it right there, Mayhem," Reynolds called out as she and Iviok stepped around one of the many tall, hardened lava spews, to reveal themselves. "You're planning on destroying the planet!?"

    The holographic virus double-taked. "Damn! How could that one self-indulgent line be my undoing? And to answer your question, Yes."

    He took the time to explain everything.

    "You see, a few months ago, the Nibiru began infusing the Vulcan sector with space-time psionics that initiated micro black holes, in an unwitting intent on terraforming half the quadrant into a shared space."

    Iviok's jaw dropped. "That's when Seifer's diseasening started! Not that I'd know of such things."

    "Precisely. They think they're merging and connecting with Heaven and even communicated with our telepaths so. But when I stopped the clusters with purple matter, I didn't suspect two more locations would arise: one in Romulan space's Azure sector, and one in Klingon space's Qo'noS sector. Section 31 sent me, your neighborhood hologram, a preprogrammed directive to stop the Nibiru by any means necessary. Since I'm also a virus, that means I distort that programming to any interpretation I see fit."

    Reynolds grumbled in anger. "You know, we couldn't boot up the Hijinx's main computer for two weeks after you left us? We ended up replacing it with Undine organics!"

    ---

    As Menrow, Samya, McCary, Seifer and the group of Nibiru reached the cliffs at the edge of the forest, Samya was busy kicking a naked drakoulias off her mouth-engulfed foot. Everyone else dismounted their own beasts, elegantly.

    "You're supposed to ride them, Captain," repeated Menrow.

    Samya finally kicked her naked drakoulias away from her. "I'll do it my way; you do it yours!"

    SPLASH! Suddenly, a giant red-bamboo like structure arose from the ocean, revealing a makeshift, home-made imitation Federation starship.

    "This is a part of their ritual. Using their eidetic memory, they reconstructed the obese metal bubble bird that saved them from an erupting volcano, long ago," Seifer explained.

    On its side, was labeled U.S.S. Enterprise. And to that, everyone gaped in shock!

    "Wait. What? Is that supposed to be a Constitution-class starship??" Menrow asked. "It looks like a swollen mash-up of fan-boy perversion? The nacelles make no sense whatsoever!"

    Samya stared at it. "It's possible the Nibiru got the details wrong?"

    "Or, perhaps we are in an alternate reality," McCary added. "Which is more likely after passing through a black hole? Think about it!"

    Menrow began to realize the odds which McCary was playing. He quickly turned to Seifer. "This is utter madness! High-octane adrenaline-runs? Giant, bulgy Starfleet ships?? We are in an alternate reality!"

    "I suspected as much when we entered that singularity in perfect form," said Seifer. "But then again, we don't have the same detailed understanding of black holes we used to back in the early 21st century."

    Samya interrupted, taking a fighting stance. "That's it! I'm cutting our losses, and taking these Nibiru-abominations out while we still can. I used to kill a lot, but alternate reality murder doesn't count. Right? It's on a heavily edited wiki somewhere, I'm sure."

    "No! We do this every time; rejecting some random trope or mishap. We have to stop that cycle and instead embrace their hokey alternate thing for what it is: A confusing nonsensical hack job full of rehash-- similar to Task Force Epsilon, if one were to bring it back home," Menrow said, before turning to the Nibiru. "We are no different than you. An imitation reality can be reality itself. Complete your final ritual."

    The group of Nibiru nodded and began a mental communication with the elders around the crystal, back in town. A giant shockwave of psionic energy blasted out from the crystal and through everyone, causing Seifer's sickness to recede.

    "You knew they were going to cure you," Menrow turned to Seifer in understanding. "You had no intention of remaining here as their God."

    Seifer nodded. "I John Harriman'd it; as in, I faked it till I made it. Only, I was more successful." Then, "Unfortunately, the only way to stop my crew's transformation was for the Nibiru to ritualistically cancel out their own abilities. For you, that means no more new Nibiru-brand micro-black holes."

    "And no more destroying of our world either!" came Nune's mixed-upset response while Reynolds and Iviok pushed out a defeated Mayhem, approaching the group.

    Mayhem grumbled. "What? I can't take five minutes to info dump without some alien native and two Starfleet Captains foiling me? You know everyone's a Fleet Admiral now, don't you? That doesn't make sense!"

    "We caught Mayhem trying to destroy the planet using a Breen warm fusion device," Iviok reported. "Nune, here, let the best of greed get a hold of him as he's been using all this for a second goal to foothold power over his neighboring countries."

    The First Leader nodded, humbly. "It's a lesson I am the first of my kind to learn. But, without OP mental abilities, our primary goal, the search for the true Great Bird, literally or thematically, will be more difficult than ever."

    "And, as for myself, well, I gleaned a lesson about the ire's of sentient technology," Iviok stated. "So, that may be a No from me on holographic equal rights. Just, No."

    Seifer stepped around to acknowledge the new arrivals, and Nune's intentions. "Even an alternate reality existence can go too far with its crutches into our Prime timeline. Whatever crazy, non-canon antics your Starfleet gets into, here, they're who you should be forcing an encounter with."

    He then stopped and looked at the over-sized, imitation alternate reality Enterprise. He began to feel sick to his stomach again.

    "Ugh. So ugly. How could they mess up something we so firmly established?" Seifer tapped his commbadge, quickly cutting off that thought. "Anyway, Seifer to crew. Seven to beam out!"

    ---

    Later, with the Darkseid repaired, the Breen Chel Grett warship re-entered the portal back to the Prime universe and towed the paralyzed Phoenix-X back to the Azure sector. There, the disabled starships Crucial, Hijinx, Jenova, Dropzone and Tsunami were rescued from their orbiting gravity conglomeration threat.

    "Well, with everything you've done, it's unlikely Starfleet will put you back in command of Task Force Epsilon any time soon," Menrow said to Seifer as the group of Captains stood in the Intrepid-class U.S.S. Crucial's briefing room.

    Seifer nodded. "The price for my reset buttoning; a price I've paid before, only, this time, for less-selfish reasons. But, at least I've got two partly-working starships, and, like Sela, I didn't get arrested. That's fair, right?"

    "Perhaps you should be the new task force commander, after all, Captain," Samya said, turning to Menrow, in response to Seifer. "A reality like what we just witnessed, or an over-the-top narrative, if you will, is not what I signed up for."

    Then McCary spoke in a reassuring tone to her. "Captain Menrow will still need you by his side."

    "Whoa!" reacted Reynolds as she and everyone turned their heads, for the first time, to behold a McCary who was now basically a fully transformed giant oval of multi-colored tribble fur.

    McCary decided this gathering was the pristine opportunity he'd been waiting for, to make the announcement he was dreading for so long now. "Well, I suppose this is as good a time as any. Guys, I'm pregnant!"

    Everyone looked at him in shock.

    "Oh, yeah. That's the stuff," replied Seifer. "It's good to be back."
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