Author's Note: This was the episode of Rocko's Modern Life that inspired this particular chapter. The episode is the second of the two in the video clip and it's a nice little social commentary about cults and fad religions.
“Captain. Based on the data we have compiled the away team appears to have encountered a sentient species whose description matches the aliens that we discovered aboard the Vaadwaur fighter.” Tuvok began, “It appears these lifeforms target the hearts of sentient beings.”
“What else did it say?” Janeway replied.
“It appears they were under the thrall of an entity known as Armus.” Tuvok began.
“Armus?” Janeway asked before realizing, “Yes of course, the entity marooned on Vagra II by Captain Picard on Stardate 41602.1. How did it get off of Vagra II to another world?”
“The away team’s reports do not say, but it is clear that Armus has mobilized these ‘Heartless’ in an effort for revenge against the Federation.” Tuvok replied.
“Those ships we encountered could be part of an invasion force...” Janeway replied.
“Perhaps a scouting element. The fleet we encountered was too small to be an invasion force.” Tuvok said, “If Armus intended to invade the Federation it would be illogical for the Heartless to emerge farthest from Federation territory.”
“Either way. Armus and the Heartless present a great threat to the quadrant and the galaxy as a whole.” Janeway replied.
“Understood Captain.” Seven of Nine interjected, “Voyager is one ship. There could easily be many more of their starships out there.”
“Ayala to Tuvok..” came the comm badge message.
“Proceed Mr. Ayala.” Tuvok said
Ayala’s reply was punctuated by phaser fire in the aft section, “Confirmed. We’ve been boarded.”
“I will head to the bridge. Keep your reports coming.” Tuvok replied, “Captain. May I recommend that the current security detail remain with you for the duration of this operation.”
“Alright Mr. Tuvok.” Janeway replied.
Michael Ayala signaled for two more members of his security team to advance. He had his smaller hand phaser instead of a rifle, more for the ease of comms with the bridge.
Three dead Heartless lay crumpled on the deck after being discovered in the shuttlebay.
“Ayala this Foster.” came an Australian accented voice over the comm badge.
“Go ahead.” Ayala replied.
“I’ve got the Hazard Team armed up. We’re sweeping decks 1-5 and heading aft. Can you concentrate your team’s sweeps forward and on decks 5 through 10?” Foster replied.
“I’ve got it. But who’s taking 11 through 15?” Ayala replied.
“Ayala this is Baxter. I’ve got another team assembled. We’ll take 11 through 15.” came another burst.
Ayala tapped his commbadge as more of his team moved forward, room by room, “Ayala to Tuvok. I’ve got three teams sweeping the ship fore to aft. Lieutenant Foster is taking Decks 1-5, Lieutenant Baxter is taking another team on Decks 11 through 15, my team is taking decks 5 through 10...”
The ship rocked violently. “Ayala to Bridge. What was that?”
Tuvok’s voice echoed, “Intruders have been reported in Engineering...”
“This is Baxter. My team’s in route.” Baxter replied.
“This is Ayala, coming to support Baxter...” Ayala replied.
“Continue your sweeps.” Tuvok replied with that omnipresent Vulcan calm, “I am redirecting Hazard Team to Engineering and mustering up a second security team to take their place.”
Ayala bit back the urge to question Tuvok. He had a good reason for holding him back but he was closer than Munro’s team to Engineering and he knew it.
“Help me! Help me!” Came the screams the science lab.
“DiStephano! Anderson!” Ayala called as he followed both of them into the room.
DiStephano charged in first with Anderson. Both of them saw Samantha Wildman on the deck, trying to back away from a couple other Heartless and Harry Kim feebly trying to protect himself from three more Heartless that were attacking him.
Ayala blasted the Heartless that had injured Wildman while DiStephano and Anderson swiftly dispatched the three Heartless that were on top of Harry.
Ayala went to check on Wildman. “Are you alright?”
“My leg...” Samantha groaned painfully.
“Hang on.” Ayala said and tapped his commbadge, “Ayala to Sickbay. Standby for casualties. I’ve got Ensign Wildman with an injured leg and Ensign Kim with...”
As he spoke he turned to see Ensign Kim. Blood was spilling down from his hairline and his hand clutched at his stomach and chest. His uniform was shredded by the claws of the Heartless.
“Multiple lacerations.” Ayala finished.
“Beaming them to Sickbay now.” the Doctor replied.
Ayala watched as the transporter beamed Wildman and Kim safely to Sickbay as he heard the rest of his team moving and engaging Heartless in the other rooms.
He could hear the comm traffic as DiStephano and Anderson retook the corridor.
“Tuvok this Baxter...we could use some help down here...”
“Acknowledged. Hazard Team in route.” Foster’s voice came over the comms, “Ayala, be advised we’re coming through your positions.”
“We’ll hold the door open for you.” Ayala replied as he passed the information to his team, “Lopez, Golwat, hold your fire for now, Hazard Team’s gonna be passing this way.”
“Yes sir.” Golwat replied.
Way to understate things
. Baxter thought to himself as the sounds of scuffling and phaser fire echoed all over Engineering.
The Heartless were all over the place and to make things worse, B’Elanna barely had time to get a force field around the warp core. Thank God for small favors. The last thing he wanted was an errant phaser blast hitting the warp core. But none of the other anti-intruder Engineering safeguards had time to take place.
B’Elanna had dashed one Heartless’ skull into the bulkhead after smashing it in the head with a two-kilo coil spanner. There was blood on her left arm and the sleeve of her uniform was torn in several places.
Nicoletti had a Heartless clinging to her chest as she rolled around on the ground with it.
“Nicoletti! Hold still!” B’Elanna shouted as she raced over and swung the coil spanner into the face of the Heartless, smashing the creature’s face in and splattering black blood onto the deck.
The Security Team was fairing no better. Baxter was firing his hand phaser at another Heartless that popped up from behind a console. This one was different from the others. It had some kind of helmet and armor on, with the Heartless emblem stamped onto it’s chest.
Petty Officer Walid was grappling with another of the armored Heartless on the ground after one ambushed him from an alcove.
“Baxter this is Foster. We’re on our way in.” Foster said.
“Perfect timing.” Baxter remarked, “We got jumped by the Heartless when we went into Engineering. They hit us hard. Half my team’s wounded...GAH!!!”
Baxter shouted as another Heartless jumped from behind a console and landed on top of him. He could feel claws tearing into his back just as he heart the whine of a phaser going off.
“Murphy! Chell! Biessman! Munro! Take the upper level.” Foster ordered.
The Heartless that was on top of Baxter was smashed into a console by the phaser blast fired by Foster.
Baxter groaned as he tried to stand. The last thing he saw before losing consciousness was Foster firing his phaser at another Heartless.
B’Elanna helped Nicoletti to a standing position. “Are you alright?”
“My sides hurt a little.” Nicoletti replied as she winced. As she spoke she heard the phaser fire lessening.
“Get yourself to Sickbay.” B’Elanna replied.
“Foster to Tuvok.” Foster replied, “Engineering secured...”
“We captured the DeLorean, boss.” 3-D said as he headed over there. He was a medium built fellow with brown hair with a gray suit and tacky novelty sunglasses that resembled cardboard 3-D glasses.
“Good.” Biff Tannen said. He was an imposing figure, a 48 year old man over six feet tall and two hundred pounds. He looked over the DeLorean time machine before turning towards 3-D with a darkening scowl.
“3-D there’s something wrong...” Biff said.
“What’s that? We got the DeLorean....” 3-D replied.
Biff backhanded him, “Where’s the flux capacitor? The DeLorean is absolutely useless without the flux capacitor!”
“That Marty guy might know where it’s at.” 3-D replied as he probed about with his tongue inside his mouth. No teeth had been loosened, “The snot nosed brat must have hidden the thing before we caught him.”
“Give me one reason I shouldn’t fire you right now!” Biff demanded.
“Uh...I...I...” 3-D replied.
“Quit babbling like an idiot and find me that flux capacitor!” Biff ordered.
3-D left the room in a hurry before nearly running into a tall fellow wearing a similar gray suit and cowboy hat with a match sticking out of his mouth and a shorter fellow with a blonde crew cut.
“What’s his problem?” Match asked.
“He’s got some unfinished business to take care of.” Biff replied.
“Meaning?” Skinhead, the man with the blonde crew cut, asked.
“Meaning the flux capacitor isn’t here. The time machine is useless without it.” Biff replied.
“Where do you think he hid it, boss?” Match asked.
“Who knows and we’ll never know until you guys start questioning him.” Biff replied.
“Maybe on another world?” Skinhead asked.
“Ugh. Not another trip through a Corridor of Darkness. The first one sucked.” Match groaned.
“How do you expect to get from world to world, flap your arms?” Biff replied.
“Either way. I hope that he didn’t hide it on another world.” Match replied.
An anthromorphic shrew wearing lederhosen walked into the room and whispered something to Skinhead and handed him a piece of paper before walking out of the room.
“What did the little rat want?” Biff asked.
“Supposedly some strange looking aircraft was spotted in O-Town’s skies. It’d be something that the walking oil slick would want to know about.” Match said.
Just then Armus came oozing in his liquid state through a crack in the door. It formed into its humanoid shape before concentrating with its mind.
Match let out a scream as if he’d been touched with acid all over his body as Armus stood before him.
“You would best mind your tongue...” Armus replied, “Walking Oil Slick indeed.”
“So what was this about the strange aircraft?” Armus asked.
“One of the guys said they saw some strange looking airplane.” Skinhead replied, “It had this symbol drawn on it.”
Match was still screaming in pain when Armus glanced at the drawing in Skinhead’s hands. Armus growled, “So they’re here.”
“Who’s they?” Biff said, “And release Match. I apologize for his conduct but I need him for this operation.”
“As you wish.” Armus said and released Match.
Match fell down on all fours, cowboy hat and match on the ground as he gasped in pain. His face was flush and sweat covered his face and soaked his hair.
“They are the Federation. The same people that left me marooned on Vagra II for over a decade. I shall be interested in revenge...” Armus replied, “But first we must have that flux capacitor.”
“I’ve got 3-D and some of those Sausage Cult guys looking for it.” Biff replied.
“Good.” Armus replied as it left the room.
“Alright. Skinhead. You take care of McFly. Match, you go see about those Federation bozos.” Biff said.
“Yes boss.” Match said as he picked up his cowboy hat and match.
Skinhead headed out of the room too. There was no way he was gonna betray Biff or Armus after what he saw the latter do to Match. He’d follow his orders and do it well. Because he was a professional, through and through.
To be continued...