Legends of the Phoenix

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Hawku, Dec 14, 2020.

  1. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    [​IMG]

    Space! That one frontier and stuff. Just wanted to consolidate my late 24th century comedy series for the U.S.S. Phoenix-X where Seifer is in command at rank Commander. These are re-posts and monthly contest entries, but when I'm through those I'll continue this to post new ones and new contest entries. This will cut down on the threads I create and keep everything in one place.

    The Phoenix-series of ships were transwarp-testing vessels destroyed one after the other in a short period of time and the U.S.S. Phoenix-X was the twenty-fifth of those: A ship and a perpetually rank-frozen crew (far from legendary). These are silly, universe-breaking, sometimes-commentaries with a lot of hyphens. Enjoy!

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    Last edited: Aug 21, 2022
  2. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Author's notes: This takes place in the late 24th century. After writing a few Literary Challenges on the Star Trek Online Forums for my 25th century series, I wanted to try writing prose for my 24th century series where I had been previously writing as chatfic. Like the format change, this served as a transition from the old commanding officer, originally role played by my old writing partner, to the new, Seifer, role played by me. This was written in February 2015.​

    Star Trek: Phoenix-X
    The Needs of the Plenty, Part I

    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X, the twenty-fifth Phoenix-named starship in a long line of unfamous Phoenix-named ships sat out in the vast, cold harshi-harshness of harsh, cold space.

    Commander Seifer woke up in his quarters, in a frightened bleak sweat: "Aaah! I just had the worst dream. It was all about horrible fan fiction writing. Just, completely lacking in quality."

    "Uh, why am I on the comm?" broadcasted Captain Cell's voice through the air. "Did you preset the computer to initiate comm traffic between us in lieu of an alarm?"

    Seifer moved his legs out of bed. "Yeah, we're friends, right? Friends should be able to talk as soon as they wake up."

    "No. No, that's definitely not how friends works. Anyway, get yourself up to the Bridge, immediately. You're late for your shift." He then paused in sudden realization of his efforts. "Ahhh, I see what you did there! Nice."

    ---

    Later, Seifer, un-expected joined Trill, met with Captain Cell, the well-adjusted and occasional power-tripper, in his Ready Room.

    Cell's desk was full of Starfleet padds of all regulation shapes and sizes. "You'd think we'd have more memory on these things by now but no. PADD technology hasn't changed in 400 years."

    "So, are we up for that three dimensional chess match we had planned? I took a regular chess set and threw away three quarters of each side's pieces."

    The Captain shook his head. "Unfortunately, no. Ever since my secret went public, Starfleet Security's been hounding me with inquiries and questionnaires. I finish one, eight more are sent to me— Finish those, and I get thirteen CAPS LOCK written lawsuits."

    "Well, the very idea of you being in Starfleet is absurd and irrational. Not to diminish your very existence."

    Cell got up and handed over a padd. "At least I finished our report on our last Romulan aid mission. Those poor, struggling, paranoid conspiracy geniuses."

    "They claimed the pyramids at Egypt were built by ancient Ferengi."

    Captain Cell nodded. "They were right! Modern day archeologists found 200 bars of gold pressed latinum built into the Sphinx, which was clearly modeled after their Blessed Exchequer."

    "Bridge to Captain Cell," came Armond's voice over the comms, "We're receiving a secured communiqué from Starbase 55. Something about moving-through-space envy."

    ---

    Cell headed out onto the Bridge and Seifer followed suit. Admiral Cloud's image displayed over the main viewer.

    "Greetings, Phoenix-X. The only Phoenix-named ship to survive a maddening, over-zealous transwarp testing phase in which all previous Phoenix ships were destroyed in test-flights, one after the other."

    The Commander held up a misplaced-prideful, pointed finger. "And, at an alarming rate, might I add."

    "That's not......... That's not a thing any normal person would brag about."

    Seifer frowned. "Aw."

    "But the Phoenix-X does remain as my special operations ship. I mean, you already have the -X. Not like the Jenova, which I've recently demoted as to being my coffee-run ship."

    Cell stepped forward. "What the hell? What's with all the exposition?? Do you have a mission for us or not?"

    "Huh? Oh, yes. But before I give it to you, you should know, those of us who've helped keep your recently-exposed-secret secret are doing our best to pull the legal-wolves right off you. You saved the Federation on more than enough occasions to warrant it: The Tribble Invasions, The Moriarty Cold Wars, The Kahn Race Riots."

    Seifer pondered. "To be fair, the ethnic-variety of the Kahns that came out of those riots was what was really out of control."

    "Commanding and ordering the crew around is what we're all about," Cell explained. "Saving others is just an awkward by-product."

    Cloud leaned in, sternly. "Anyway, thank you. Now, speaking of others, the Federation colony world of Gault was recently attacked by an alien force. Locals have reported strange, tall men, ravaging their village centers for supplies. I need you to investigate while I meet Nechayev for lunch— I... I accidentally asked her out at a staff party and now I'm too afraid to cancel."

    ---

    Later, the Phoenix-X took orbit of Gault. An Away Team of Seifer, Armond and Kayl beamed to the surface and began scanning around and interviewing locals.

    "It was a large, tall, lanky man! He had arms for as far as the eye could see!" exclaimed a scared, wild-eyed local, whilst pulling their own hair.

    Lieutenant Kayl, operations officer, human and genetically augmented, just looked at the local, deadpanned. "Do you need a hair dresser or something...?"

    "Check this out." Lieutenant Commander Armond, human and technologically savvy, walked over with his padd. "The local I interviewed said she saw these beings change shape."

    Kayl's jaw dropped. "What the hell? You got a non-yeller??"

    "No, she was screaming alright. I just mapped through her patterns of transitory coherence. Took me two padds to get a complete sentence."

    Seifer walked over with his results. "According to one of the Gaults... Gaultans? Gaultoids? --According to the Gaulti-Gaults, the shape changing men they were met with were looking for energy weapons. When all they could find were laser rakes and high powered polaron shovels, they reformed into one large being and shot up into the atmosphere."

    "It's so weird this entire planet is farm obsessed," Armond commented. "I met a man who genetically altered his biology and planted himself into the ground. He bore kava fruit in the spring."

    Kayl bit into one. "Just make sure you grab the fruit."

    "From all the data we collected, it sounds like we could be dealing with Changelings," Seifer postulated. "I had the Phoenix-X start scanning the surface for protoplasm and anything gooey. So far: a ton of amino acid and protein soup pools-- like, an over-abundance of them."

    Armond's tricorder suddenly started beeping. "Sir, I'm picking up low-level traces of a chroniton pitch fork outside the village center, near the mountainous range."

    "Ah, yes, rocky caves. Classic Away Team stomping grounds," Seifer smiled in touching reverie. "How do you want to do this: Walking? Argo buggy? Tame a giant sehlat and ride it?"

    Kayl crossed her arms. "Transporters will be fine, Commander."

    "Oh, sure, the lazy way. Remind me not to invite you to my Tuvok sweat drills." Seifer eyed her as he tapped his commbadge.

    ---

    Seconds later, the team rematerialized next to the rugged region of the mountains: Seifer, Armond, Kayl and an addition of Lieutenant Commander Red.

    "Why did you wait so long to invite the Klingon?" Red growled. "Is it because I am a Klingon?"

    Seifer took out his phaser. "Uh, pretty much. You freak us out, despite you only being our helmsmen. By the way, don't put that observation in any reports."

    SKZZZT! Suddenly, the sound of a misused pitchfork beam hitting off a rock, rang through in the distance. The tool hit the ground and the being that used it went into immediate hiding.

    "Over here!" Kayl called the group over to the fallen tool, nearby, but there was no trace of its user. "So which of us is going to die on this Away Mission? It's the yellow shirts in this era, isn't it?"

    Seifer picked up the pitchfork and looked around. "No one's going to die, Lieutenant. Not without permission, and I only sign off on those occasionally."

    "Way to ruin my day," Red replied. "I purposely did not answer any of my voicemails for this specific reason."

    Eyeing the rocky surroundings at the base of the mountain, Seifer's vision caught the questionable formation of a nearby boulder. He then jabbed it with the pitchfork end, causing the rocky surface to fluctuate and form into a humanoid Changeling.

    "Ah! Don't kill me. I surrender!" the shapeshifting being called out while assembling. "My name is Diggs, and I separated myself from the Traveling Link when they attacked here!"

    Seifer stepped back. "Way to spill everything right out the gates. Ever heard of holding back?"

    "Sorry. It's just that I get nervous really easily. As a pre-liquid entity, not being able to urinate is one of the worst forms of torture."

    The Commander looked at him, sternly. "You already know that in the future no one goes to the bathroom! And don't you realize attacking people makes it impossible for those people to go about their daily routine?? Tell us why you did so, and make it snappy."

    "Not until I speak to my lawyer! Also, where can I get a lawyer? Also, what's a lawyer?"

    Seifer rolled his eyes. "Ugh. Never mind. At least we got you, thus enabling a really great feeling of accomplishment. You're coming with us."

    "Ooh! Can we go to a Gaultan coffee house? I simply adore Gaultan coffee houses."

    The Trill dropped his posture. "What? We're going back to the Phoenix-X where we can question you."

    "A starship! How space-cowboy. Okay, whenever you're ready. Let's do it. How's my face formed? Good? It's probably good."

    Seifer tapped his commbadge. "Away Team here. Prepare the quantum stasis field generators and lock on to all five of us. I'm going to also need my black rubber gloves, some hair gel, and tall boots. We have some interrogating to do."

    "That's a bit much, but, understood, sir," came Ensign Belm's reply over the comms. In seconds, the group dematerialized in hopes of an answer to the recent attacks.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2021
  3. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Star Trek: Phoenix-X
    The Needs of the Plenty, Part II

    Up, in orbit of Gault, the Phoenix-X waited patiently for the results of Commander Seifer's investigation. Standing over a console for some time, Seifer was greeted with a pleasant DING!

    "Are those the results?" Captain Cell asked.

    Seifer reached passed the console to the replicator and pulled out a hlaka soup. "No, it's just my lunch."

    "So, anyway," Cell continued as they both stood in the Messhall. "I've been contacting people I've known for years, Captian's Menrow, Iviok and Aeris, telling them to flat out deny anything on me for their own good. My reasoning being that I don't want any of my past misdeeds affecting those I care about dearly."

    The Commander sipped his soup while standing. "Aren't you a hard-ass?"

    "Uh, that's just my icy exterior. I extol it as both an emotional safety mechanism and a troll." Cell then turned. "Well, anyway, I need to go move all my Federation bank holdings to an off-territory account."

    ---

    Later, Seifer entered a re-dressed Sickbay with darker lighting. In the middle of the room sat Diggs in a chair— his shape held cold by quantum stasis field generators. Doctor Lox and Lieutenant Commander Armond, wearing leather gloves, stood nearby.

    "Alright, let's begin the interrogation. Doctor, start the physical portion," Seifer ordered.

    Lox raised his backhand at Diggs but was stopped by Armond. "Wait!" Armond interrupted. "Shouldn't we ask him a question first? Also, isn't all of this against Starfleet regulations?"

    "I've been meaning to check up on that," Seifer admitted, truthfully. "And, I suppose questions are in order. I mean, I guess."

    Diggs glanced over. "Right! On to topic: You see, the Founders, also known as Changelings, are a species of shape-altering crazy-heads. Our-kind run a small non-profit organization called the Dominion, and our love for lizard-pets led to the adoption of Cardass—"

    "We already know what Changelings are! There was a whole war about it," Armond broke in. "There was also a lost ship in the Delta Quadrant at the same time, but their adventures barely paled in comparison according to most in the subpspace message board community."

    Diggs nodded in understanding. "Ah, good times. Well, before that, the Founders sent out what has been called 'the 100', centuries ago, in an effort to have some kind of world export, I imagine. A very few of that '100' became the Traveling Link, a giant Changeling entity working as one."

    "Get to the point Diggs," Seifer warned. He then checked his timer. "Oh, never mind. We're actually ahead of schedule."

    The Changeling turned to him. "The point being, I was a part of that group but left when we started exhibiting irregular behavior. When it accumulated to raiding small worlds, I decided it was time to leave— I directed us to Gault, where I expected I would take up farming and such. By the way, what's work ethic? Is that a something?"

    "So, your personal needs unintentionally put the Gault colonists at risk," Seifer resolved.

    Diggs nodded. "Precisely. Morals and social awareness is new to me, so you'll have to forgive the naiveté."

    "Starfleet forgives nothing! Err, I mean, yeah, we'll let the judge decide that. What's right and wrong can't possibly be trusted to the common man, according to the last 400 years of Human society."

    The prisoner adjusted his seating. "Perfect! I'll just go into a vegetative-mental state until then." Staring blankly for a very long time, Diggs was suddenly woken by a hearty shake.

    ---

    "Wake up!!" Seifer yelled.

    The group found themselves in the Phoenix-X's brig, where Diggs had been held for the entire time since blanking out.

    "You've been out for two weeks," Seifer accused. "We weren't even done with the questioning!"

    Diggs looked up at him. "Ah, dammit. Sorry. I tend to just act on impulse sometimes. You want to know where the Traveling Link is going to be next, don't you?"

    "Yes!"

    The Changeling sat up in his Brig. "Very well. The last I was aware, they were going to head toward the Delta Vega system. Their reasoning eluded me. I was all too excited about my new life of hoeing and planting."

    "Hm. It would've taken them two weeks to get there by my uncalculated assumptions. The only way we're going to be able to catch up is if we use our beloved Transwarp!" Seifer clutched his hand close to his heart.

    Armond tapped at his PADD. "I'm signaling the Bridge, using Morse code to set course and engage."

    "Thank you, Armond. You remembered that as the new protocol for communication on the ship."

    The tactical officer glanced over. "Sir, may I respectfully amend it is not an efficient form of communication??"

    "I know, but it's just so damn cool," Seifer replied absentmindedly. "Well, carry on. It will probably take you ten to fifteen minutes to spell out."

    ---

    Later, the Phoenix-X dropped Transwarp at the Delta Vega system. Scanning the area, the ship found no signs of abnormal activity anywhere.

    "How are we sure we can trust anything Diggs says?" Kayl asked from operations.

    Seifer turned. "Lieutenant! How dare you take a specist attitude toward Changelings. Sure, many have done wrong in their time, but that doesn't mean you paint them all the same."

    "I've completed several scans, and have found nothing," Armond reported.

    The Commander clenched his fist. "Damn that Changeling liar. It's just like all of them too."

    "What?"

    He then sat back. "Oh! Uh, nothing. What I was going to say was, I'm starting to have second thoughts about Diggs' authenticity— on a non-specist basis." Seifer tapped his commbadge. "Bridge to Captain Cell. I removed the Morse code rule. Are you up for doing Captain stuff and whatnot?"

    "Seifer," Cell's voice came over the comm. "Yes, of course. Just as soon as I work through this multi-layered subpoena. It's nothing really. I just have to agree to turn myself in to the courts and several other similar organizations all at once somehow."

    Rubbing the back of his neck, uncomfortably, Seifer replied, "No, no. You know what? You just keep doing what you're doing."

    ---

    Entering the Brig, Seifer found Doctor Lox standing outside of Diggs' cell, scanning the Changeling with a medical tricorder.

    "Commander, he appears to be destabilizing in some way," Lox reported. "If he dies, I'd like to use his ashes in a circle-puff smoking experiment."

    Seifer cringed. "You freak me out, Doctor. You really do."

    "Ugh!!" Diggs groaned in pain, prompting the two men to turn in his direction. The Changeling fluctuated for a moment, attempting to grasp his head in horror. In another moment, the fluctuation ceased and Diggs fell to his knees in pain.

    Lox scanned him again. "Sir! He's not reading as a shapeshifter anymore! He's... he's a humanoid? Heart, lungs, muscles, bone structure— the whole shebang!"

    "By the insanely unrealistic, but nicely designed, refit of the Constitution-class!" Seifer swore in shared shock.

    Diggs groggily looked up from his unexpected transformation. "Owe. Does this mean I have to find a girlfriend now?"

    BLAM! The ship shook from incoming fire.

    Armond then broke through the comms. "Commander! We're receiving a hail from the Sydney-class U.S.S. Oberon. They're warning us to keep away from the shapeshifters, for they have 'much to do'. Quite generalized, if I do say so myself."

    "What? That weak, old transportation vessel that's always carrying innocent civilians?? Return fire!" Seifer tapped his commbadge.

    TO BE CONCLUDED
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2021
  4. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Author's notes: Diggs later (chronologically) makes an appearance in ULC 16: Aftermath.​

    Star Trek: Phoenix-X

    The Needs of the Plenty, Part III

    The Phoenix-X was hit by phaser beams, again, and again, by the Oberon. Seifer stood up at the center of the Bridge, peering at the transport vessel, trying to weigh the consequences of his next actions.

    "Destroy that ship!" Seifer ordered. But then, snapping out of it: "Huh? What? Oh, I meant, let's negotiate."

    In another moment, the Captain of the Oberon, a Rigellian named Fes, blinked on screen. "Phoenix-X! You must not interfere with the Traveling Link! I took the time out to sit down and listen to their story."

    "You mean the story of them going around harassing colonists and murdering people??"

    Kayl turned. "There were murders? Well, that certainly ups the stakes. But, in a late way."

    "Well, there were meant to be, at least, in my Part I logs, but I couldn't go back and edit them to reflect that. Starfleet doesn't like retcons ever since it turned out Romulans hated andriods," Seifer cursed.

    Fes interrupted. "It doesn't matter what they did! Their actions are the actions of desperation! I'd elaborate further, but I'm insanely behind schedule and I think my passengers are trying to open the airlocks." He then chuckled. "Oh, those Evora. Always running around and bumping into each other. So cute!"

    The Oberon turned in space and jumped to warp.

    ---

    Later, the senior staff, not including the Captain, met in the Conference room to go over the details.

    "How are we able to have a meeting without the Captain? He preset this room to dissipate all the oxygen unless he was in here with us??" Armond panicked.

    Seifer placed a bunch of devices on the table. "All we have to do is wear these Benzite breathers."

    "Commander, my advice is we drop this mission and go to Risa," Ensign Dan suggested.

    Seifer looked over. "You dare suggest an enticing alternative? You're relieved! Anyway, Doctor, what else can you tell us about Diggs, the non-changeling changeling?"

    "His physiology appears to be Angosia, a near-perfect replica of Human anatomy, but with the subtle difference in nomenclature," Lox explained, scientifically-ish.

    Kayl brought up a biographical display on the wall screen. "I did a little research, as well. The only record I could find on Diggs was an attempted latinum heist by his-self and two others on Lissepia's Central Bank, five years ago. He was caught tripping over their feet, as they were clearly really bad at heists."

    "That bank gets heisted every year," Kugo remarked.

    Seifer slammed his fist on to the table. "None of this is useful! Other than the common criminology theme, which, as I've stated before, is never a thing we should pay attention to. There's only one thing left to do: Send out a distress signal of our own, claiming a changeling disabled us."

    "Excellent strategy, sir! Then the Traveling Link will think their humanoid transformation on Diggs didn't work!" Red, the Klingon exchange officer, exclaimed. "Happened to Odo all the time when he was on Deep Space 9."

    Taken aback, Seifer fell out of his seat. "Ah! A Klingon!?"

    ---

    Hours later, the Traveling Link, a giant, conglomerate mass of space creature, stopped in space when it detected the subspace distress call using its internal alien-morphesized sensitivities.

    "Stop. We must acknowledge this message and proceed to loot this vessel," said one voice, internally.

    "If we're a link, and considered 'one', then why do we have separate consciousness's in here?" asked another one.

    "We agreed it was more interesting this way! The Borg do it, so why not us?" Just then, the giant creature U-turned in space and jumped to warp.

    ---

    "First officer's log, Stardate 68664.9; Captain Cell continues to barricade himself in his Ready Room, dealing with more legal woes than 2280's Kirk on a ship-stealing spree. Meanwhile, we have yet to see any sign of the Traveling Link, despite us disabling ourselves for theirs and any passer-byers' pickings. Sure, we could have faked it, but I wanted authenticity."

    ---

    Out in the vast, cold vastness of ice-cold vast space, the Phoenix-X drifted, knowingly leaking a trail of plasma behind.

    "Okay, nobody light anything," Armond warned over-cautiously. "Seriously. We're breaking about two hundred Starfleet regulations right now. Some I don't even get? Like, Starfleet Regulation 148? No group of officers are to commune together in any overly ambitious and hopeful way."

    Seifer turned. "I'm pretty sure everything after 100 is a troll. Anyway, is anyone going to the taboo Data memorial celebration? And why are his cakes always made after his upper body?"

    SLAM! Just then, several liquefied changelings hit the hull of the Phoenix-X and scurried their way inside, through the cracks. In the hallways, Starfleet officers were caught off guard and shoved aside by solidifying, in-a-hurry, shapeshifters.

    "By the emotionless interaction of Chakotay! We've been boarded!" Seifer stood up in shock as three changelings entered the Bridge.

    Tak, one of the changelings, approached him. "Give us all your things and stuff. We also demand you turn over Diggs."

    "Hah! I was expecting you. I've installed quantum stasis field generators all throughout the ship! It was easier than installing holo emitters for the EMH, which we stopped trying to do out of pure lack of interest," Seifer surprised.

    The changeling cursed, "You foolish non-changers! Don't you see? We just want to live! Is that so much to ask?? And who can we ask?"

    "Correction: You want to terrorize. Explanation: You turned Diggs, one of your own, into a solid, and you're stealing from people. I'd allow it, but I get experience points for completing missions like these. It's not much, but once you start collecting them, you just can't stop."

    Tak held up her hand to halt the other two changelings from attacking. "In fact, we are merely trying to procreate. We had a nice long talk about it with that Rigellian Captain."

    "Pro-what? That's impossible, unless--" Kayl interrupted, shocked. "Diggs was always a humanoid??"

    Seifer glanced at her. "Kayl! What have I told you about beetle snuff? You're certainly not suggesting the Traveling Link turned Diggs into a changeling? Are you?? Tell me the truth. Are you?"

    "They turned Odo into a solid 19 years ago. What's to say they couldn't do it the other way around?" Lox postulated, while bringing Diggs onto the Bridge.

    Seifer looked on in shock. "You did it! You interrogated him in an inhumane way!"

    "Ugh." Diggs, exhausted from questioning, turned to the crew. "It's true. I was a hardened criminal before the Traveling Link found me and turned me into one of them."

    Kayl questioned, "According to records, you never actually were successful in committing any crimes whatsoever? The Lissepians wouldn't even charge you?"

    "It's the failure which hardened me!" Diggs emoted quite dramatically.

    Tak turned. "Clearly, our attempt to procreate was a failure. Now we will never have children. As for our criminal nature of late, we cannot explain. But changeling morals are looser than solids', so it's fine. It's mostly fine."

    "That's just it." Suddenly, Cell walked out onto the Bridge. "Diggs' linking into you caused your behaviour to become abhorrent. Like, Thadiun Okona if he was an Acamarian Gatherer."

    Seifer turned in shock. "Captain! Aren't you dead??" But then, "Oh, sorry. I was thinking of Kirk. You ever notice that he's always dying? Every universe."

    "In a way, I was dead. But in a more specific way, I wasn't. A Captain isn't a Captain if he's not Captaining and pointing at stuff. For far too long have I been dismissing the actual situation at hand, which is only vaguely clear to me at this point."

    Red gestured. "But, sir? You have been dealing with legal battles concerning the fact you lied about not being a changeling in Starfleet, for decades, after having departed the Great Link several centuries prior, in protest of their ways??"

    "Exactly. And my recent Starfleet woes have gotten even worse. They're literally sending the Enterprise-E, the Defiant and Voyager all at once to come and get me right now-- Seriously, they're on their way here and will arrive momentarily." Cell paused for a moment to re-examine his focus. "Oh, right. But, me being a changeling is exactly why I'm intervening. You see, only another non-affected changeling can diffuse the corruption Diggs caused in the Traveling Link, and I intend on being that changeling."

    Tak approached. "That works out great, since the other non-affected half of our group, including such changelings with unusual names such as Shane and Sergio, split off from us before we altered Diggs, in some awkward desire to chase Borg cubes."

    "Borg cubes are the bug lamps of changelings. It's a known fact," Seifer clarified.

    Cell turned to the crew. "I know you have your doubts about me. All I can say is that although we have only been together for a short time, I know that you are the finest crew in the fleet."

    "18 years is short to you?" Armond questioned.

    Kayl interrupted again, "And aren’t you always saying we're the worst crew in the fleet?"

    "Yeah, yeah," the Captain waved all that way. "It made you tougher, didn't it? Besides, since all the legal troubles, I've discovered there's nothing more for me here. Remember me as I am now, screaming in perpetual rage at Federation bureaucracy."

    Everyone watched as the field generators were disabled and Cell merged himself with Tak, followed by all the other changelings on the ship. The Traveling Link then nodded to the Bridge crew and a second later, liquid-shot itself through a nearby ventilation hatch.

    "Wait! Wait!!" Diggs called out. "I was your baby! And I was going to shapeshift myself into so many of Harry Kim's Edge of Etiquette clarinet rock concerts!"

    ---

    Minutes later, Seifer and Chief engineer, Kugo, entered the Captain's Ready Room, presented with the messy-padd aftermath of the previous occupant's legal woes.

    "Well, it looks like you're Captain now," Kugo said.

    Seifer nodded, solemnly. "My first order of business: Pants-free Fridays! But before that, a moment of silence for my friend. I can only say that of all the souls I've met on my travels, his was the most changeling."

    "What? Did Cell leave the ship??" came Admiral Cloud's voice from the desktop monitor. "Typical. If only he'd waited just a few more minutes. You see, Captain's Menrow, Iviok, Aeris, and many more made statements on his behalf-- and we couldn't very well charge everyone for conspiracy. We don't have the emotional capacity to handle that many grievances! They also demonstrated anecdotal evidence of his achievements, enough of which to drop charges!"

    Seifer swiveled the monitor around. "Fan fiction, is there anything it can't do?"

    "Don't think this makes you Captain in rank, Seifer! Kugo sent me a report that you had no influence in the final moments for solving this mission at all."

    The Commander glanced at her. "What? But it's only been two minutes??"

    "I'm a quick writer," the Vulcan engineer shrugged.

    Cloud gritted his teeth. "You stay put until we handle your situation. And despite you not taking the Traveling Link in for jail, the Phoenix-X is still my special operations vessel. If Admiral Parsons gets the U.S.S. Zephyra, then I get one too! That's how Admirals work. Cloud out."

    "I'd like to think Cell's noblest act as Captain was to save the Traveling Link from themselves. Our influence is of a greater regard of which is to follow his imperial example. Shall we go to the Bridge and order people around and such?" Seifer turned to her.

    Kugo nodded in compliance. "He would've wanted it that way."

    THE END
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2022
  5. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Author's notes: This takes place in the late 24th century. For this and my next three-parter, I wanted to work with some kind of framing, so I picked a series I would pull an alien species from (TOS for this first one) and used a random number generator to choose an episode. The generator pulled "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky," so I poised to write something on the species in that episode. This was written in April 2015.​

    Star Trek: Phoenix-X
    For the World is Worldly and Such, Part I

    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X sat out in space, while its Commanding officer, Seifer, worked tirelessly at a report in his Ready Room.

    "Sir, are you okay?" Kugo asked, stepping in.

    Seifer looked up, not even remembering the door chime or himself letting the Vulcan in. "But— how?"

    "As Chief engineer, it's my duty to practice breaking locks in case of an eventual and likely Ferengi take-over," she explained.

    Seifer nodded in agreement. "Ah! Good work. I'd like for you to break in to everyone's quarters by end of day. It doesn't matter what time. As for me, well, if you must know, I've been trying to punch up my reports. I don't think anyone has been reading them? Should I make them funnier? Like, really, really, try hard on the jokes?"

    "Humor is irrelevant. Your writing style just doesn't fit where you are posting them. As a consolation, perhaps animated pictures on loop would suffice."

    The Commander snapped. "Yes! Brilliant! It's a wonder why Command won't give me a promotion. Not to mention, how is it that a Commander is the Captain of a starship? How does that even work??"

    "No matter one's rank, one who is in command of any starship is referred to as Captain."

    Seifer sighed some relief. "Well, that's good to know. Thank you, Kugo."

    "You're welcome, Commander."

    The Trill glanced over to her. "Anyway, did you find out what happened to that Warp engine depot at Farius Prime? Who would steal those things, other than the obvious Orion Syndicate?"

    "Local investigations are still underway. Since the Syndicate pretty much runs everything over there, they're ruling out the Syndicate."

    Seifer put his padd down. "Sounds logical. But it was your recommendation we acquire a select few engine parts from there, given the fact the Phoenix-X has transwarp capabilities."

    "Yes. As a second option, I believe the parts I require can be make-shifted using a massive amount of duct tape. That, and staples."

    The Commander stood up. "No. I hold that only the best parts are meant for us: The crew with the most heart! We're going to head over to that planet and see if we can poke our business into other people's business. That always goes over well, right? Prime Direct-what? Exactly."

    ---

    Later, the Phoenix-X dropped transwarp at Farius Prime. There, they were met with five Orion corvette starships.

    "Cease and desist! This is a direct order from the Farius authorities, who may or may not also be Syndicate operatives. You can't prove nuffing!" barked an Orion male, named Ginyo, over the view screen.

    Seifer held up his hand. "Relax. We're here for the illegal trading. Your engine depot to be more specific."

    "What? Starfleet would never approve of non-regulation parts, unless you were lost in the Delta Quadrant? Were you lost in the Delta Quadrant? Because it seems like that's a thing that would happen easily."

    The Commander took a seat. "We're a transwarp test ship, so we're allowed to improvise for research purposes. Last week, we installed a basketball court. We had to uninstall it for canon reasons, though."

    "I know not of what you speak, but our depot was raided, mysteriously, a few days ago. Our investigations are underway. If you are picturing two thugs, flicking toothpicks at the crime scene, you are probably right."

    Seifer rolled his eyes. "Can we take a look, then?"

    "That will cost you! Two bars of latinum, and your finest female."

    To that, everyone instinctively looked around at each other on the Bridge. Lieutenant Kayl quickly fixed her hair and sat up straight to present herself.

    "How about, No? And you accept our free help?" Seifer turned to the view screen.

    "Oh, fine. Have it your way. You know, you Starfleet-types need to lighten up. There's nothing wrong with illegal activities and chauvinistic attitudes. We also enslave children!" The screen then blinked off in anger, and the three ships veered out of the way.

    ---

    The Phoenix-X approached solar orbital space station Farius Beta, which was half destroyed and leaking warp plasma. Scans indicated energy weapons damage and high-powered transporter signatures.

    "I'm betting their insurance company isn't happy about this, knowing insurance companies as I do," Seifer bragged.

    Kayl glanced over. "You're just repeating what Armond said five minutes ago."

    "Huh? Oh, yeah. I just wanted to try it out," Seifer reassured before turning to his tactical officer. "Armond, you got lucky with that one."

    Armond nodded. "Thank you, sir. And, speaking of observations, I'm also reading a giant asteroid off the port bow. No time for measurements—"

    Everyone's attention went to the view screen, which showed the approach of an asteroid, as if being controlled on its own. The Phoenix-X was quickly hailed by the asteroid.

    "What is this?? The Farius authorities usually are done with their investigation by now??" a pale man said from the view screen.

    Seifer stepped up. "We're taking over what happened here, which is so obviously you. I think. Isn't it? Begin your exposition, if you don’t mind."

    "Of course it is! I just returned because I dropped my wallet. The last thing I want is to have to renew all my Ferengi credit cards."

    The Commander rolled his eyes. "No one uses wallets in the 24th century."

    "The Fabrini do! Didn't you notice how we dressed when your kind first met us?? Robes! And so on. Our fashion and daily habits are little behind, but our advanced technology and medicine makes up for it."

    Seifer paused. "Wait. Then why do you need warp cores??"

    "Wouldn't you like to know? Heh, heh. Hehehehehe!" The man then pulled himself together. "Seriously, though. That's personal. You Federation-types are so nosy. Oooooh! I could pinch you!"

    The screen then cut out and the asteroid turned in space and jumped to warp.

    Red turned from the helm. "Shall we pursue course, Commander?"

    "I think?" Seifer replied, still perplexed by his interaction. "Yes. Yes, let's do more of this."

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
  6. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Star Trek: Phoenix-X
    For the World is Worldly and Such, Part II

    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X sped through warp at incredible warp-like warp speeds (warp, to be specific) in pursuit of the giant technologically-fitted asteroid.

    "Fabrini rock-thing," opened Commander Seifer from the main chair. "You are ordered to pull over and engage your four-way blinkers."

    But there was no response.

    "Perhaps they do not see the error in their ways?" Red questioned from Helm.

    Kayl shook her head at Operations. "According to our scans, they robbed that solar orbital space station of its manufactured warp cores and then half destroyed it— How could you not be aware of those kinds of actions??"

    "I don't know," Red responded defensively. "Sleep walking, perhaps. There's a lot of ways."

    The asteroid expelled a disruption field, which dropped both it and the Phoenix-X out of warp. It then continued on, at impulse toward a derelict asteroid field.

    "Mr. Red, pursue course. We must repair whatever damage they've done," Seifer ordered.

    Ensign Dan turned around from Science. "Why? We're literally outside our jurisdiction here."

    "You're relieved!" Seifer countered. "Now, Lieutenant Commander Armond. You take over here while Kugo and I transport over."

    Armond got up, excited. "Yes, Commander!"

    "It's Captain. I should be called Captain," Seifer corrected.

    The Tactical officer scratched his head, confused. "Capppp.... tehhh? What? Is that a kind of burrito?"

    "You know what ranks are! From now on, no more Oxygen Deprivation Competitions in the Cargo bay."

    ---

    Minutes later, Seifer and Kugo transported over to the Fabrini asteroid, only to find themselves inside the simulated environment of a barren and rocky planetary surface.

    "Welcome, welcome to Yonada!" came a voice from behind; the pale man that hailed them earlier. "Hello. My name is Yelg. I'm the big man in charge around here."

    Confused, Seifer looked at him. "You're not angry we beamed over, thus furthering our nosey-ness?"

    "Oh, what's done is done. A man can no more avoid the rain, when he doesn't have the correct access codes to the rain's weather modification network."

    Kugo nodded. "An apt analogy."

    "What is the point of this simulation? Aren't you afraid of using up all your power?? You need to take some conservation tips from Chakotay's recently released Biography-slash-Survival Tips book: The Voyager Home: Being Nothing More Than Native American To Everyone."

    Yelg clasped his hands together. "I've read it. It goes fine until the awkward Seven of Nine chapters. —No, you see, this simulation is run off our advanced power generators, enough to run for eight lifetimes, and kept going as a reminder of what we were before— Mindless automatons, worshiping some computer thing."

    "You should be more like us and worship organizations. But, continue," Seifer said.

    An elevator pod popped out of the ground, and Yelg began for it. "Allow me to show you around. Do you like 3D chess? We have that here, but have do not have all the pieces. We need help finding the pieces."

    ---

    Exiting the elevator, the three stepped into an open market-like place, where people were shopping, socializing, and eating at shops.

    "Ah. I forgot my latinum card," Seifer started feeling around his uniform, forgetting that they did not have pockets.

    Kugo looked on in shock. "By the made up gods of Vulcan! You still have people living here? And they like it??"

    "What I've developed is a world of perfection. The years after we colonized led to divisions of religion and science, in our culture, driving a knife of separation between our peoples— It was the dissolution that plagued us," Yelg explained. "But here, we live anew. This is a paradise!"

    They stop in front of a franchised coffee shop, named Paradise.

    "There are five on this floor alone," Yelg said. "Here, have a jumja stack— It's a stack of jumja sticks, stacked together."

    Seifer took the stack and tasted it. "Very anti-Bajoran, but still good— Not validating-good, mind you."

    "And here is a school for orphaned children." They approached a section with friendly décor. "These are children we come across, in our travels throughout the galaxy. We've got Caitian kids to Kzinti kids, all who are being returned to their worlds, no fuss, no muss."

    One of the Caitians ran up to Seifer and purred at his legs. "I wuv you, Mr. Captain."

    "Huh! Did you hear what he called me, Kugo?? Can we keep him?" Seifer turned to her.

    Kugo looked at him, plainly. "You hate children, remember?"

    "Oh yeah," Seifer relaxed. "That Picard-strict thing. Well, still, good job with the kids, Yelg."

    He then led them in to another room, where tubes of green liquid lead out of vats and in to 24th century buckets.

    "And here is where we manufacture green drink: The most alcoholic beverage in the galaxy; approved by eighteen Scotsmen!"

    At this, Seifer's jaw dropped. "Yelg. You're a genius! You're single handedly saving the Alpha Quadrant! How can we repay you?? Anything. Name it."

    "You can put your hands up!" Yelg's tone changed to something more threatening and four Fabrini security officers stepped out from the shadows, aiming rifles at them. "You think you can get away with meddling with us? You don't even know what you've gotten yourself in to!"

    Caught completely off guard, now raising his arms, Seifer looked at Yelg. "But— those kids?"

    "Slave labor, and an export for hairballs. Those jumja stacks? Highly addictive. It's the highest ordered product by Cardassian refugees."

    Losing track, Seifer asked, "Got any more?"

    "Commander!" Kugo turned to him. "Besides your sudden failings, I've deduced who Yelg really is, using my memory of known Yelgs. In fact, Yelg was a Captain in Starfleet not too long ago."

    Snapping, Yelg cursed. "Damn! I was hoping you weren't going to figure that out."

    "Wait. What???" Seifer spat.

    Yelg crossed his arms. "That was a long time ago, Seifer. I was in ship reconstruction. In fact, when I left, my working partner left with me. You might recall his species: Traveler."

    "Oh, is this my queue?" Wayfar, a Traveler, from Tau Ceti, stepped out in to the open. "You know, I like to pride myself on my timing— Unfortunately, I stepped out and made that claim three times before you guys entered here."

    ---

    Meanwhile, the Phoenix-X attempted a high-intensity scan of the asteroid Yonada, but to no avail.

    "Well, is anyone up for lunch? I'm thinking burritos. I don't know why," Armond offered, giving up.

    The ship suddenly shook and Kayl checked its status. "Armond, they've locked a tractor beam on us. It's highly pressurized."

    "Attempting to break free," Red reported, tapping at the helm. "Attempt failing. Attempting to suggest gagh for lunch?"

    Armond snapped. "Denied! Unless— gagh burritos?"

    "Now that we're stuck in tow, any speculations on what the warp capable asteroid wielding Fabrini want to do with several stolen warp cores?" Kayl changed the subject.

    At that, several smaller asteroids began moving out from the asteroid field, seemingly all on their own, using impulse power. "Those?" Armond postulated. "Those," he settled.

    TO BE CONCLUDED
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2022
  7. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Star Trek: Phoenix-X
    For the World is Worldly and Such, Part III

    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X was being dragged via tractor beam by the giant Fabrini asteroid Yonada. Meanwhile, a seemingly unending source of smaller, self-moving asteroids emerged out of the asteroid field and started moving toward them.

    "Sir! It looks like Yonada is transporting miniature warp cores into sections of those asteroids!" reported Kayl, who took temporary station at tactical.

    Armond, sitting in the Captain's chair took notice. "They are? Aw, that's so cute."

    "Now they are mysteriously uploading programs into each of them!" Red surveilled from the helm.

    Armond nodded. "I stand by my cute observation, despite its rashness."

    "The programs appear to be setting courses to many innocent worlds!" Doctor Lox said, as he just happened to be standing near a console.

    Armond looked over at him. "Since when are you on the Bridge?"

    "Probably better I'm here," Lox explained. "I spliced a live Kolar beast and a Dalvin hissing beetle together this morning and it's loose in Sickbay spraying it, not saying it."

    ---

    Meanwhile, inside a green drink manufacturing room aboard Yonada, Commander Seifer and Kugo were being confronted by the Fabrini fanatic, Yelg, and his Tau Alpha C partner, Wayfar.

    "I assisted Yelg in all the Federation starship reconstruction projects, from the Dropzone, to the Hijinx, to the Jenova, to the Crucial and Rune," Wayfar said, dreamily. "It was pure technological magic; from space-time altering repair crews to late night 3D chess matches. I'm relatively new at this Traveler thing and I wanted to work on both my tech abilities and my game. Helping Yelg was just an odd, un-asked-for by-product."

    Yelg snapped. "Hey! I did a lot of the work too! Who do you think made the coffees in the morning? I did that."

    "Wait. I thought those ships were just re-launched in new classes after they were destroyed in classic starship battles, last year?" Seifer questioned. "Oh, the starship battles we have, regularly."

    Yelg pointed at him. "In fact, those ships were not destroyed, but, rather, close to destruction, and salvageable. We took those hulks from whatever odd class starship they were, before the battles, and transformed them into completely different, pre-existing classes— The Dropzone became a Defiant-class, the Hijinx, an Akira-class, the Jenova, a Centaur-class, the Crucial, an Intrepid-class and the Rune, a highly voted-for Luna-class. We were so good that when Starfleet found the Ixion adrift, after some alien hijacking years before, perfectly in-tact, we transformed it into a Saber-class!"

    "You monster! What a completely unnecessary series of refits which make no sense what-so-ever!" Seifer reacted.

    The Fabrini rubbed his hands, delightfully. "Yes, it was the perfect way for me to develop my Engineering techniques. Now, I am using those abilities to turn more asteroids, like Yonada, into unsuspecting mini-ships!"

    "Well, that's actually cute," Seifer corrected. "I can't see any issues with that."

    Yelg pointed upwards. "I will use each asteroid's data storage module to maintain copies of the recently resurrected True Oracle, and force-transmit his wisdom, and our control device, directly into brains of the occupants of all worlds!"

    "What? I thought you were finished talking?" Seifer asked, confused. "Dammit, Yelg. What does your partner have to say about this?"

    Wayfar was taken aback. "I was under the impression I was doing data recovery for your Klingon Opera collection? You're saying I brought back your Oracle??"

    "It's both." Yelg turned to the Traveler. "They were both in there."

    Wayfar snapped. "Forget it, Yelg! I continued helping you because I thought you were good, but I see now that you are forcing your computer-God onto others. Like some kind of popular search engine."

    "From my perspective, that's good?" Yelg questioned.

    Wayfar fumbled. "Yeah, but— Ugh. I don't know. Do I look like a philosophical Traveler? Those guys never mate!" He then took out a smoke bomb and threw it to his own feet, disappearing into space and time in a puff of smoke.

    ---

    Outside the giant asteroid Yonada, the tractored Phoenix-X began firing phasers and destroying the other small asteroids as they approached.

    "There's too many! I can't keep up!" Kayl reported.

    Armond looked at the explosions on the view screen. "I said spin the ship around. Spin!"

    "Seifer to Phoenix-X," came the Commander's voice over communications. "We have to destroy all the mini-asteroids before they can force-spread their True Oracle god to the galaxy."

    Armond nodded in agreement with each of the other crewmembers. "It's just a little difficult because there are so many."

    "Did you do the spinny-thing?"

    Armond breathed a sigh of disappointment. "We tried, but the tractor beam's still got us. It's Fabrini-powered, so it's not like those cheap Cardassian tractor beams."

    "I'll disable it. In the meantime, we'll use Starfleet ship technology to take down Yelg's asteroid fleet; oh, the irony," Seifer said with a chuckle to himself. "Ironic that I'd be serving irony, isn't it?"

    Armond squinted, confused. "It is if you're misusing that word."

    ---

    When the tractor beam was disabled, the Prometheus-class Phoenix-X split into its multi-vector mode; the ship separated into three and began taking out more and more oncoming asteroids.

    Meanwhile, in the green drink manufacturing room, aboard the Yonada, Seifer and Kugo held Yelg in custody.

    "You Federation fools!" Yelg announced, quite annoyed, but then calmed down. "Well, it's a good thing I've streamlined our Instrument of Obedience installation techniques so that anyone I choose can be instantly implanted with one."

    Seifer turned to him. "What in the name of Scotty's-Head-Smacking do you mean?"

    To answer, Yelg took out a Fabrini padd and tapped it, quickly. "I can simul-replicate and transport Obedience devices into people's brains! Each asteroid is equipped with such transporters. Hey, are you listening to me? I better not be wasting my breath here. Fabrini don't like extra talking."

    Seifer and Kugo were suddenly stricken with extreme mental pain, causing both to fall to their knees in struggle.

    On screen, the Phoenix-X's three separated sections began to visibly fly around, worse, due to the crew's similarly mental and control-incapacitation.

    "UGGHH!! If only I— hadn't been— distracted with— breaking locks—" the Vulcan grasped her head in agony, recalling how she equivalently forced the crew to look for Engineering parts.

    Seifer clutched his head, but managed, "—We all— go through— a slump— Can anything here be— Jerry-rigged into a— synaptic trans—mitter—?"

    "—Yes," Kugo concluded after looking around and locking onto an open compartment. "—There's a method where— I can— simulate— a neurogenic pulse—"

    Yelg gaped his jaw in shock. "Impossible?? Those are the controls for my indoor bouncy castles??" He reached his arm out as Kugo slowly dragged herself over to the section. She accessed it and began working on the circuitry inside.

    "What the Hell, man? Don't you think you should stop her??" the voice of the Oracle broke in, all around, as the final stage of his consciousness just came online.

    But, Yelg, too focused on the possibility of his genius being thwartable, began to grasp his sweaty face and head in Matt Decker-shock as the Starfleet officer reverse engineered the effect of the Instrument of Obedience device. "Nnnnnnoooooooooeeeew—!!!" Yelg observed in terror as Kugo, Seifer, and, remotely, the crew of the Phoenix-X, stopped receiving pain, and regained self-control.

    "Dammit, Yelg! You bring me back for this? You know you can move, right?? I didn't even get a chance to check my messages. I'll get you for your horribly abrupt inaction! And your little Caitians too!" the voice of Oracle threatened just seconds before Seifer deactivated his program.

    ---

    Later, the Yonada was redirected back into orbit of Daran IV. With all the asteroids destroyed, the three sections of the Phoenix-X reassembled and Armond beamed Seifer and Kugo onto the Bridge.

    "The Fabrini will charge Yelg for his crimes of believing in a religion and wanting to spread it," Seifer reported.

    Red looked at him funny. "That sentence seems wrong? Something is wrong with your universal translator?"

    "Ship damage, probably," Armond explained. "Anyway, the lesson here is, there is no shortcut to being a successful authoritarian. Though, it is possible and very rewarding, mind you."

    Seifer turned to him. "Also, shooting asteroids is not as easy as one would expect; but living in them is completely reasonable."

    "So, what are you going to do with your life now, Kugo?" Kayl asked, noticing she hadn't spoken to her all year.

    The Vulcan snapped her fingers. "Thanks to Yelg, I'm going to Engineer everything I need ever— as is the way of Starfleet officers, anyhow. We can turn rocks into replicators, you know."

    "Here are the asteroid samples you asked for," Ensign Belm said, entering the Bridge with several useless rocks.

    Kugo took them to use in her repairs. "Ah, the new primary warp coils! These'll do juuuust fine."

    THE END
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2021
  8. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Author's notes: This takes place in the late 24th century. For this and my previous three-parter, I picked a series I would pull an alien species from (TNG for this second one) and used a random number generator to choose an episode. The generator pulled "Devil's Due," so I wrote something on the species in that episode. This was written in May 2016.​

    Star Trek: Phoenix-X
    Devil's Leftovers, Part I

    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X sat out in deep space, scanning phenomenon and sending signals to nowhere. Commander Seifer sat expectantly on the Bridge of his ship.

    "This is great. We're doing stuff. We're getting out there and making a life for ourselves," he commented.

    Armond turned from tactical. "Sir, we've wasted hours of power and resources for no results whatsoever. I think it's safe to say we're the poster-ship of diminishing returns."

    "Hm. Make a note that we should stop trying in general," Seifer suggested.

    Ensign Dan turned from his science console. "Señor Seifer, sir, we are receiving hail from Bajoran system, sir!"

    "I know I ordered you to call me that, but I'm not feeling it. Plus, you're Bajoran yourself, so, why? You know what? You're relieved."

    As everyone watched Ensign Dan exit the Bridge, Lieutenant Commander Red continued the report from helm. "I believe the hail to be distressed-based. The connection request text is filled with exclamation marks!"

    "Typical of lazy writing. Where's the literary umph? Anyway, put them through."

    The screen blinked on to a view of a robed Bajoran leader, Alds Rohn. "Oh, thank goodness someone replied! We are the leaders of Bajor VIII, one of many colonized planets in the Bajor system."

    "What? But people talk about Bajor in a non-numerical sense, indicating only one planet?" Seifer pointed out.

    Rohn shrugged. "People are jerks, obviously. Anyway, we have been trying to contact a Starfleet ship for days, because we've been swindled out of two shipments of quadrotriticale grain for one shipment of fake latinum. All we got were gold bars. Worthless gold!"

    "Why didn't you contact Deep Space 9?" Seifer asked.

    The Bajoran leaned in. "That conglomerate of thieves and cut-throats? No thank you! A bald Lurian once stepped on my foot!" He then took a breath. "No. A starship crew will ensure anonymity."

    "I'll see what I can do. But, chances are, I'll probably do nothing. After all, it is a Saturday."

    Rohn panicked. "But you simply must help us! We were battered by the Cardassian Occupation and the Bolians sent us rude messages as well!"

    "Ugh. The Bolians barely even know how to use a computer. Anyway, I have to go. There's an onboard tea party that I simply can't miss," Seifer replied. Then, to his crew: "Well, that was awkward."

    "I'm still here!" Rohn argued from the view screen, prompting Seifer to cut it off, quickly.

    Armond turned from his console. "Commander, I'm reading signs similar to that of quadrotriticale near the moon known as Baraddo."

    "Dammit. You know you're supposed to wait until we're long gone before reporting things. You can forget your bonus this year," Seifer interjected. "And no counter arguments that Federation energy credits have no actual value! I knew a Ferengi that acknowledged their existence once."

    ---

    Later, the Phoenix-X approached the outermost misshaped rock that orbited Bajor VII.

    "Sensors are detecting the 'scent' of the grain, an indisputable smell in the cold, vacuum of space," Armond reported.

    The Commander sat on the edge of his command chair, focused. "Remember that time a bunch of Klingons poisoned a shipment of it on Deep Space K-7? One of my past hosts bumped into Benjamin Sisko. Could have sworn he looked like Gabriel Bell."

    "Sir, a ship is approaching off the port bow!" Red reported.

    Activating the viewscreen, the crew watched as a broken down alien starship neared them and opened fire.

    "Open hailing frequencies," Seifer ordered. "Enemy vessel, you have violated Starfleet shields and the consequences is immediate death. Prepare to be boarded."

    Kayl turned from Ops. "Commander, that is not current protocol!"

    "Uh, have you seen our egos lately? It totally is now," Seifer answered.

    Then, a response came through on audio. "Federation ship, this is the Karisag. And you may think you're seeing us, but the question is, are you really?"

    "Yes?" Seifer said, confused.

    The voice from the Karisag then replied. "Are we here, or..." And as his ship disappeared, "Or are we here?" Then his ship re-appeared in the spot to its left.

    "Is this is a bit?" Seifer tried to comprehend.

    The alien ship started up again. "Are we here?" It suddenly disappeared once more. "Or, are we here!" The ship reappeared two spots to its right.

    "Hey! Stop that! You're parlor tricks are not impressing me!" Seifer yelped.

    Then, "Now, for our final act, my lovely assistant here will get into the forward section of our main separation facility. Aaaaand, ala kazaam!"

    "Dammit," Seifer cursed as he and the crew watched the alien junk ship separate into two halves.

    The voice on the Karisag finished with what he assumed was great applause. "Thank you, thank you! You are the stars!" Then, both halves suddenly began to cloak again.

    "Armond, tractor beam!" Seifer reacted quickly.

    Rolling his eyes, Armond replied. "Why do I literally control everything?"

    "Hey!" came the shocked reply from the forward half of the Karisag as the Phoenix-X locked a tractor beam onto it. "Stop that! You are ruining the mysteriousness of this!"

    Seifer turned. "Kayl, force their view screen on!"

    "I can't do that, sir!" And then, "Wait. If I modulate a thermo dynamic pulse and direct it into a narrow band frequency, it should remotely charge their visual communication systems."

    Seifer nodded expectantly, having expected as much from her. "Obviously."

    "What? You uptight Starfleet brats!" replied an alien man in ragged clothing as he and his Bridge appeared on screen. "You do this every time!"

    A Ferengi, also in civilian clothing, turned to the alien. "Hexagin, just stop with the theatrics already, and get us out of here. I feel like your dialogue is just padding for something else entirely."

    "Quiet, BOG. I'm this close to my demands being met!" Hexagin argued. "Look at how confused they are. It's working!"

    The Commander addressed the two. "Uh, the confusion is self-aware. Sorry. Also, I must arrest you for swindling Bajorans out of quadrotriticale for fake latinum."

    "Oh, please! Like you have any jurisdiction here!" countered Hexagin. "BOG! Initiate Escape Pattern: Surprise Attack!"

    Seifer blinked. "How can it be a surprise if you're announcing it? I'm literally expecting a surprise attack any second now."

    "Just wait," Hexagin reassured as the other half of the Karisag appeared and fired photon torpedoes into the Phoenix-X's tractor beam emitters.

    The Karisag reassembled and shot itself into warp, leaving the Phoenix-X in the wake of its exit from normal space.

    "Their warp trail is undetectable, likely by their ingenuity, which we underestimated," reported Armond. "But they did leave something behind, something we can all agree on: An impression."

    Commander Seifer rolled his eyes in frustration. "Set course in that general direction. Even though being off by a micron, in heading, could potentially set us half a quadrant away, I'm willing to take that chance."

    "Understood, Commander. Closing my eyes and engaging engines," Red answered as he covered his vision with one hand and arbitrarily slapped the other around on the console.

    ---

    Later, Commander Seifer entered the Messhall and took a seat at the bar.

    "Bartender, your finest ale!" he ordered.

    BOB walked over and handed him a Cardassian Sunrise. "Sorry. It's all we have left after the Klingon exchange portion of the Phoenix-X drank through half their sorrows for having to serve on a Federation ship."

    "The Ferengi bartender, BOB?? I thought you were running that face-stretching studio on Deck 7?"

    Shrugging, BOB replied, "Unfortunately, we went under after we lifted way too many cheeks over eyes. I can't count how many mumbled complaints we got from crew with chins over their mouths."

    "Yeah, I was waiting for reviews before getting in on that," Seifer said. "Anyway, the Phoenix-X just encountered a crew of no-good tricksters, much like the hundreds of imitation-Janeways that surfaced from the Delta Quadrant a few weeks ago. But, one of these ones was a Ferengi named BOG, which I imagine is inexplicably spelled in all caps like yours."

    The Ferengi put his mixer down and sighed in defeat. "Well, I knew this day would come. You see, BOG and I used to be part of a similarly named, specialized group of moneymakers and grifters. Since our group failed as business people, in general, he's likely attempting to overachieve as compensation."

    "Well, he's oddly succeeding thus far. Possibly due to his joining with that group. Any idea who they are?"

    BOB thought for a second. "Last I heard, he was attempting to align himself with Ardra's crew: A group of tricksters who followed a woman that pretended to be the Goddess of several worlds."

    "I remember her! She was promptly proven a fraud by Picard and the illustrious crew of the Enterprise-D." And then, "They were always doing stuff, that crew. I never trusted them."

    The bartender nodded in agreement. "They had a reputation. Anyway, in order to stop BOG, it will require a mixture of wit and guile, and pretty much anything that mentions his mother. Also, word salad confuses him."

    "So, what normally works on you," Seifer reaffirmed.

    The bartender was taken aback. "Whoa! Ho! You really know how to treat your drink server around here."

    "Do you want to keep the bar or not?"

    BOB conceded as fast as he could. "Yes, sir! I'm a nitwit, sir!"

    "Bridge to Commander Seifer," came Armond's voice over comms. "We're getting a distress call from the Kriosians. Someone traded them imitation tube grubs for one of their princesses."

    Seifer tapped his commbadge. "Acknowledged and surprised how reported events are always related. Coincidence sure is the mother of consequence."

    "Not to mention the surplus of princesses that world seems to export on the regular," BOB added.

    The Commander stood up. "Agreed. It's time I found a mate— err, I mean, let's put a stop to these grifters. To the turbolift that leads to the Bridge! Engage!"

    He then briskly walked his way to destiny.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
  9. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Star Trek: Phoenix-X
    Devil's Leftovers, Part II

    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X dropped warp at Krios III and took orbit. There, they were hailed by a Klingon facility on the planet.

    "I am General Gron. You will tell us your business here, or we will rip out your throats!" the Klingon officer argued from behind his desk.

    Seifer stood up. "We're responding to a distress signal, and how would you even have the man power to do what you say?"

    "I don't know—" the Klingon stuttered, unsure himself. "I'd line you all up or something? Stop questioning my tactics!"

    The Commander shrugged. "Hey, I just want to be sure the logistics check out. Anyway, is there a chance your princess was taken by a group of grifters flying a ship called the Karisag?"

    "That's exactly what happened! Although I am a Klingon who only cares for Klingon matters, having the Sovereign Dynasty of Krios Prime constantly bicker at me is more annoying than a swarm of targ flies during mating season."

    Nodding, Seifer replied, "Agreed. If you will allow us to investigate, we may be able to apprehend these tricksters and reclaim Bajor VIII's two shipments of quadrotriticale grain."

    "Ugh. That bland, one-taste baktag is utterly disgusting! Just do whatever you have to do and stay out of the targ cages. My premium beast is feeding to impress the females," Gron argued before he cut the screen off.

    Kayl spoke up. "He seems nice."

    "Klingons do not do nice," interjected Red. "Unless it involves some sort of blood-letting. We are all over that."

    ---

    Seifer, Armond and Kugo beamed down the facility to examine its main concourse, which was busy with people. Armond took out his tricorder and began scanning.

    "Nothing out of the ordinary here," he stated. "But, then again, this tricorder hasn't been working for weeks."

    Looking into the distance, Seifer noticed that, within a group of people, was the same Ferengi who he saw earlier on the Bridge of the Karisag. "It's BOG!"

    "Commander, are you saying that in all caps, or standardized punctuation?" Kugo inquired. "Asking for a friend."

    But, instead, Seifer moved into the crowds to attempt to apprehend his target. Upon breaching a group of Kriosians, he found no Ferengi. "Something we can help you with?" one of the Kriosians, Carv, asked.

    "Uh, yeah, a check on that attitude," Seifer shot back before leaving them and making his way toward the office.

    It was then he bumped into the Klingon, Gron, who he had spoken to before. "Watch where you walk, Starfleet! Assuming you represent the organization as a whole!"

    "Perhaps, you should watch who you swindle, Gron. Lying comes with more caveats than a cage full of tribble," he replied.

    Gron grunted. "You dare accuse me of various things!? In this case, one?!"

    "You're working with Ardra's crew, and called me here to cover your tracks," Seifer exclaimed as he reached into the crowd, right next to them, and pulled out the Ferengi BOG by his shirt collar.

    BOG tried to scramble free with no luck. "I swear, those Talaxian fur flies were not interbred!"

    "Ugh. You insipid Ferengi, and, yes, that was a specist slur," Gron cursed before turning back to Seifer. "I merely looked the other way in order for that crew to complete their princess exchange. You have any idea how annoying I find the Kriosians. Why does the Klingon Empire even have a facility here? Is there a connection, or did we just coincidentally occupy a world with the same name??"

    Seifer replied, "I don't have the answers to those questions, nor will I probably ever, but you're going away for a long time, also probably." He then noticed the Kriosians walking over, aiming their weapons to apprehend Gron. "You guys are security? Why aren't you wearing uniforms?"

    "The Sovereign Guard," Carv said. "We asked you if there was anything we could help you with! Inquiries are the uniforms of our people."

    The Commander nodded. "I guess that works within the confines of your particular grouping. As for BOG, he's got a date with Starfleet. Candles, wine, cheesecake dessert, the whole shebang."

    "Finally! Please just take the Ferengi already. He's been leaving tube grub skins all over the floors. They're so crunchy under our feet."

    ---

    Returning back to the Phoenix-X, Seifer met BOG who was put into the Brig by two security officers.

    "So, what's the prison schedule like? Three meals a day, therapy sessions, and a hot shower? I'm on board!" BOG said excitedly. "But none of those metal cups. You can't get the metal taste out of your mouth."

    Seifer activated the force field. "Oh yeah? Well now you'll get two of those cups!! Until then, let's talk Ardra's crew. Where are they? What have you done with them??"

    "Nothing! They go where they please. I think you've got your paradigm wrong. Also, I think you should know that I am an expert swindler. I was bred for it, actually," BOG bragged while blowing on his purple nails.

    The Commander rolled his eyes. "Fine. Then swindle your way out of this."

    "I will! Okay, here goes: To free me, I will give you five cases of tulaberry wine. Oh! And I'll throw in a package of unsealing stembolts. How's about that for swindle, huh?"

    Crossing his arms, Seifer replied, "That's not even what a swindle is. Plus, I don't accept, nor was I even tempted to go for it."

    "Do you want my point to be made or what? You have to take the deal to make it work!" BOG grumbled. "Okay, forget it. How about if I help you catch Ardra's crew?"

    Seifer was taken aback. "After that display of deal-making? And why are all Ferengi just horrible, even at their own jobs?"

    "It's a clear stereotyping thing, but, truthfully, I have had enough of the pretentiousness of that crew and how they think they're sooooo great at grifting. You know what I mean?"

    The Commander shrugged. "Starfleet doesn't do that anymore. Not ever since Kirk grifted all those alien women into his bed and was banned from the Federation for a whole week."

    "Well, I've only been with women who've mistaken me for other, more suave Ferengi," BOG replied. "As for catching Ardra's crew, I believe if we offer them a trade deal, based on a swindle, they will accept. I suggest the psy-wave devices of the Prytt Alliance, which Ardra's crew has been desiring for quite some time."

    Seifer's jaw dropped. "What!? We'll never be able to manufacture one of those. That's crazy-talk from a crazy-Ferengi with an all-caps name!"

    "Unless you borrow actual devices from the Prytt. You see, they would do anything to gain favor with the Federation, since their adversaries tried and failed once."

    Commander Seifer nodded, solemnly. "Fine. But you're still not getting those therapy sessions. The counselor is very busy at the moment."

    "But my mental health!? Uggh. You know that's akin to physical health in this century, right? Never mind. I'll just guess what my value system should be." He then concentrated. "Coming to conclusions without evidence? Yep, that's probably acceptable."

    Seifer just looked at him awkwardly as BOG continued and then Seifer slowly backed out of the Brig.

    ---

    Later, the Phoenix-X took orbit of Kesprytt III and Seifer beamed down to the surface to meet the Prytt representatives.

    "Oh, this is surely delightful!" said Cargone, a Prytt mediator. "We are more than happy to do anything for the Federation, if it means you would consider us as a part of your vast interstellar empire of goodie-goodness."

    The Commander was handed a briefcase of psy-wave devices. "First of all, that's just an assumption you made which I only alluded to in lie form. We'd never consider you, and, second, wow. You guys must be desperate? You once captured our own people out of Romulan-like distrust?"

    "We envied their mysteriousness at the time. Now the Romulans are all over the map! In an effort to harken back to that, we've captured some of your very own Klingon exchange officers."

    ---

    Meanwhile, in a Prytt interrogation room, deep, within the planet, Kortos, Amos and Targon found themselves sitting around a long table before a Prytt official.

    "Now, you will tell me all your secrets and such!" demanded a Prytt unofficial named Maeke, who held a small whip for posture.

    Targon glanced at his other Klingon warriors in momentary confusion before starting. "Well, we once ate the heart of a live Kolar beast right in front of Ensign Dan. He was puking for weeks."

    "That was the best!" Kortos added, laughing.

    Amos sat, unsettled. "You know the heart of those things are full of cholesterol? We really need to eat healthier."

    "Oh, Amos, you are such a food health nut. Just learn to live for once," suggested Targon. He then glanced up at Maeke, honestly unsure. "Pitiful Prytt Representative, is any of this helpful at all?"

    ---

    Forgetting about them, the Phoenix-X left the Kesprytt system and dropped warp back into the Bajor system. The Ferengi bartender BOB flew the Class-2 shuttlecraft Dracon into orbit of the desert world Bajor VI.

    "I'm glad we could make an offscreen deal," came the sly complement of Hexagin to an out-of-uniform, robed Kugo who beamed from the shuttlecraft to the inside of a slinky Bajoran bar in the middle of nowhere.

    The Vulcan tilted her head in confusion, as she extended her arm with the briefcase. "Screen? You appear to be stuck in a trope's parameters. As for these, I acquired them illegally, of course. I sent you my whole convincing backstory, as well, right?"

    "It was very thorough," Hexagin said. "You once rode with Hartcourt Mudd? Honestly, I thought he'd be dead by now for flaunting that curly mustache thing in the mid-23rd century."

    Suddenly, Seifer, Armond and BOG stepped out from the shadows holding phasers at Hexagin and two of his men. "Hold it right there, grifty-grifts! These devices were just a lure and you took the bait. Now you're going to jail for being horrible at sneaking around! Oh, and the legal stuff too, probably."

    "Oh, am I?" replied Hexagin, smirking. "I think Bajoran Security would have a problem with those claims."

    Then, out of the shadows, right behind Seifer and Armond, came two Bajoran Security officers holding weapons at them. "Don't move," said one of them.

    "What!? You were in the same shadowy corners as us? Why didn't we see you?" Seifer reacted in shock.

    The other Bajoran answered. "It's shadowy. Obviously you couldn't see anything!"

    "That's right," continued Hexagin as BOG walked over to join him. "You were grifted by the grifters! And trading psy-wave devices is illegal in this system, thanks to laws and such."

    Seifer pointed at Hexagin and BOG. "Hey, Bajorans, you need to arrest those guys! They stole your quadrotriticale and a Kriosian princess! And why did I even bring a traitorous Ferengi on this mission??"

    "Hey, that Ferengi's partner just fed us quadrotriticale!" the lead security guy said. "And it was delicious. Plus, we were told you guys had been visiting several worlds in just the past few days including the moon of Baraddo, and the world's of Krios III and Kesprytt III, respectively!"

    The Commander threw up his arms in dismissal. "To investigate your stolen grain situation! Why aren't you responding to logic??"

    "Pfft! Ever since the Vulcan's destroyed Romulus and Remus, there has been a ban on logic throughout the Alpha Quadrant," the security officer detailed. "We even converted Cardassian labor camps into family day camps! Nothing about them was altered."

    Seifer was taken aback. "Are you kidding me?? That's even worse! I don't want to be a part of a galaxy that refuses basic logic. Where did our Prime Spock even go anyway? Some alternate reality?? Just take me to jail. Anything!"

    "Very well," said the other Bajoran security officer. "But along the way, you will hear all about our conversions of the Bajoran underground resistance caves into subterranean shopping malls. Oh, the cappuccinos there are to be had!"

    The Commander covered his ears in disgust. "No! No more, please! I just want to be shot by your school yard phasers!" He and his crew were then led away, into the desert. They would soon find themselves the grifters turned the grifted.

    TO BE CONCLUDED
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2021
  10. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Star Trek: Phoenix-X
    Devil's Leftovers, Part III

    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X sat out in deep space, unsure what to do with itself. Lieutenant Commander Red sat in the Captain's chair.

    "Are we... Are we supposed to be shooting or something? I'm a horrible commanding officer," Red explained.

    Lieutenant Kayl turned from tactical. "Seifer, Armond and Kugo haven't checked in yet so we may conclude that something happened to them."

    "And BOB too, right? That Ferengi bartender with which we know nothing about whom went along with them for some miraculous reason?" Ensign Dan asked, turning from helm.

    Red sat up and pointed at him. "You will learn your place, Ensign! You've just bought three hours scrubbing plasma conduits!!"

    "Huh. You really are getting the hang of things," Kayl observed of the Klingon exchange officer.

    ---

    Meanwhile, Seifer, Armond, Kugo and BOB found themselves locked behind a forcefield in a jail cell, in a facility on the desert world of Bajor VI.

    "Kind of nice of them to put us all in the same place. Convenient, even," Commander Seifer observed before picking up some food on a nearby table spread. "Oh! And complimentary hasperat."

    Kugo crossed her arms, annoyed at the situation. "That incessant BOG sold us out. He claimed he was tired of Ardra's crew, but that was clearly a lie. Ferengi tire less of treachery!"

    "I would agree with that assessment," BOB added. "But we're different than most Ferengi. Ours was a secret group, born and selected to be trained as the best of the best: Swindlers, cheaters, financial geniuses."

    Armond perked up. "Wait. Are you saying there's a naming convention in which there are Ferengi's named BOK, BOL, BOM and so on?"

    "Precisely. BOA was the first of us; I was the second; then BOC, BOD, BOE, and onwards. We were called Beguiler Operators, which are attributed to the first two letters of each of our names, then counted each of us down alphabetically."

    Seifer spoke while chewing his hasperat. "But what happened to you guys? I'm assuming something happened, as is the course of all backstories."

    "What happens in all historical reminscings: Irony. In this case, ours was grifter-based, as the man who sold our program manufactured a faulty and poor curriculum of training for more money than it was worth," BOB explained. "We ended up falling apart in our adolescence; failing at becoming the advanced super-swindlers, and, in fact, becoming worse than the average Ferengi."

    Kugo eyed him, critically. "Except for you. You actually succeeded in becoming the best."

    "What are you talking about? I'm as much a failure as any Beguiler Operator!" BOB defended.

    Armond shook his head. "No, Kugo's right. You were so good that you dropped out of the money-making game all together, to live aboard the comforts of a Federation starship. From the Phoenix-X you've enjoyed a place excluding the lure and taste of money."

    "Of course. Unlike BOG, you realized the lack of need for the latinum, but have been playing along this whole time," Seifer's jaw dropped.

    BOB gritted his teeth. "Fine. Yes, I've been faking my horrible deal-making this whole time. I even tricked your long lost Admiral Theseus into bribing me onto this ship in limited-Neelix-information-giving fashion using mirrors and visual angles. I have stock-piles of latinum stored away on my own private moon from ad revenue, secret subspace web stores and insider tube grub stock market trading from within the Ferengi financial community, but I abandoned it all because money is the ruin of the entire Alliance! It's an endless cycle of wanting more and cheating each other until we're all mortal enemies of our own selves. The Beguilers couldn't even stay together even with their failings as business men."

    "Well, we need your expert swindling now, BOB," Seifer claimed. "Now more than ever, to help us get out of this situation with Ardra and the Bajorans."

    Armond shrugged. "Or we could do a Starfleet sciencey thing? I think I can establish a temporal vortex in this very jail cell."

    "Don't make me relieve you of duty, Lieutenant Commander!" Seifer countered, stepping in front of Armond to block him from a control panel.

    BOB nodded. "Very well. I believe if we give the Phoenix-X to Ardra's crew, they will reveal themselves and all their secrets."

    "That's a very bad idea," the Commander countered. "Federation property is not to be thrown about, and protecting the onboard crew is so important, I'd give anything up for them."

    The Ferengi tilted his head, indicating something unseen. "Well, we should offer something. It's not like— they can— hear everything— we're saying— right now."

    "Well if that were true, I wouldn't say the command codes to the Phoenix-X are Psi-Delta-3-Tango-2-Alp—" Seifer began before he was interrupted by the guard.

    The Bajoran carried in more hasperat. "Refill!"

    "Commander, you should not be saying those codes out loud," argued Armond.

    BOB turned to him. "Wait. Are you being genuine or did you actually read through my head-tiling maneuver?"

    "I'm going to be honest, I've had A British Tar in my head this whole time," Seifer admitted. "Man, what a catchy tune. I'm so jealous of Worf."

    Suddenly, all four of them were transported away.

    ---

    They reappeared aboard the Bridge of Ardra's ship, the Karisag. There, the alien Hexagin, accompanied by BOG, addressed the group.

    "Well, well, it would seem I now have the upper hand, thanks to my ability to bug a prison cell," Hexagin bragged.

    Seifer deadpanned. "You beamed it in, didn't you?"

    "—Using the power of transporter technology, I beamed it in!" He continued, not realizing Seifer's beat him to it. "That's the secret to trickery: modern techniques."

    Kugo sighed. "What is the point of all this? You had us go to jail, and now you're breaking us out? I've had lurpas with less edge than this."

    "Because your foolish Commander has revealed the one thing he promised he'd never give up, part of the command codes to the Phoenix-X!" Hexagin continued. "Now that you're here, I will negotiate the rest of them from you."

    BOB crossed his arms. "Really? How?"

    "Before you, on the view screen is a Son'a metaphasic distributor in orbit of Bajor VIII. Through alternate personas, we've sold them a version which, instead of killing everyone, will rejuvenate the population and all its plant and animal life!" BOG said. "The effects of youthening and betterment would be felt for one long, painful, unending generation to come."

    Hexagin continued. "Now, we would be more than willing to share this revolutionary technology with the Federation, if you would allow me your ship for just three hours."

    "Are you kidding me? Three hours??" Seifer reacted, shocked. "Don't tell me you're going to use it to make a trade with someone?"

    BOG nodded. "With the Orion Syndicate, in fact. We've got a shipment of rare Betazed chalices from several houses to deliver as cover for a con to beam out our stolen quadrotriticale, Kriosian princess and warp core components, but the Nausicaans have it out for those green baldies and are ready to pounce at any moment of their reveal. The Phoenix-X would ensure our safety."

    "A Ferengi who performs trickstering, huh?" Seifer observed. "Congratulations for being the first of the Beguiler Operators. Yeah, I know about that."

    Hexagin handed them a torn piece of paper with a subspace code on it. "We normally have five or six going at once. It's quite a lucrative business, which can be learned in day, night or online classes, if you're interested."

    "To say that I'm impressed is to say the least," BOB started. "But you losing your previously lifted merchandise skewers your credibility. Let us in on yours, give us back the quadrotriticale and the princess, and you can keep your warp core components."

    Hexagin threw up his hands. "Then what is the point!?"

    "According to that monitor read-out," BOB added, pointing. "The Orions also have fifteen crates of Ktarian gaming headsets. Those are quite valuable."

    The other man gritted his teeth, giving in. "Uggh. Fine. But if things go sideways, I'm stealing BOG's wife again!"

    ---

    Later, the Karisag dropped warp before the Phoenix-X and the group beamed onto its Bridge.

    "Phew! Finally. For second there, I thought I was going to have to do something," Red commented, relieved. "Let it be known, doing things is not a Klingon pastime."

    Hexagin smirked. "Actually, I'm taking command of your ship in a deal crafted by your Ferengi bartender whom which is called BOB for some reason."

    "What!? That slacked-jawed misanthrope??" Kayl said, standing up in defiance.

    Seifer turned to Ardra's crew. "She's right, Hexagin. I can just take us to your transaction without handing over the command codes."

    "It's not the same! Do you want your crew to achieve Son'a eternal youth so they can continue to have starship adventures in the year 2410, or not??" BOG argued.

    The Commander crossed his arms. "That's ridiculous and unrealistic. The crew would have at least been transferred or promoted to different positions by that year." And then, sighing, he said, "Ugh. Forget things that make sense— Computer, release control to Hexagin, for three hours only: Psi-Delta-3-Tango-2-Alpha-Singh-Noonien."

    "Very good. Now I am in command of the Phoenix-X! Hahaha!" Hexagin laughed. "Computer, set course for the Orion Syndicate!"

    The computer responded, "Warning: Staff must be used for daily operational ship functions during regular work hours or virtual memory will overload."

    "She's right, you know," added Seifer. "Last year, the Bridge crew went on strike and the computer decompiled from just three requests: 1) Set course, 2) Engage, and 3) Set mood lighting on Bridge."

    Hexagin looked at everyone, confused. "What? Uh, okay, set course, Red."

    "Ggghhh," the Klingon growled, going back to his Helm position. "Did you not just hear that my people do not like doing things? I will make a seething personal log entry on your behalf later. Seething!"

    ---

    When the Phoenix-X dropped warp in Orion space, they were met with the Orion corvette O.S.S. Hackett.

    "Well, well, Hexagin. It appears you really did take command of a Federation starship," came the on-screen hail of the Orion commander, Captain Ginyo. "Your pre-bragging has paid off, as not-expected, and now I've lost a bet with my Chief Engineer."

    Hexagin smirked. "We tricked the Starfleet officers by making them believe we would take their side. But guess what? We won't! Gyahahahahaha!"

    "Great. Now I can't tell which parts are the act and which parts are genuine," Seifer pressed his fingers to his temple. "After we're done here, I want a staff meeting in a Parallax mud bath, STAT!"

    Kugo looked at him, disappointed. "You know I cannot get the mud out of every crevice as Vulcan personal reach in certain areas are strictly off limits in our culture."

    "Ah, I see you are all wrapped up in a complex mixture of lies and deceit, as is the way of trickery and deception! Being that you are as untrustworthy as us makes you trustworthy." Ginyo then clapped, enthusiastically. "Let us do the trade!"

    BOG worked the Operations console next to Kayl. "Now transporting the Betazoid chalices-of-several-houses which were definitely not stolen."

    "Hey, I have a question, does the Federation ever tax its own people? Like, how do you allocate resources without monetization or some kind of value assigned to goods and services?" Ginyo asked, confused.

    Seifer shrugged. "It's pretty much first-come, first-serve, or, in many cases, whoever whines the loudest. Ohhh, the whine-fests we have in our pseudo-democracy."

    "You know, I like you people," the Orion surmised seconds before his crew's console beeped with a warning.

    One of his officers, Vark, turned to him. "Sir, the Phoenix-X is transporting away all our crates of quadrotriticale and that one Kriosian princess who would not shut up about her right to be trapped on a world with a Human from Florida!"

    "Hey, we stole that from you, fair and square! Well, at least you didn't transport off our warp core components," Ginyo said before realizing that they did. "You jerks!"

    Hexagin smirked. "And don't even think about firing on us, because the Phoenix-X has been equipped with tricobalt torpedoes, without any explanation as to why!"

    "Oh, I won't have to," Ginyo laughed as several Nausicaan ships dropped warp next to him. "Because I've got reinforcements. You see, I made a deal with the Nausicaans, to protect us in exchange for that Son'a metaphasic distributor you created, that you will be handing over the command codes to now that we've got you."

    The Ferengi BOG laughed. "Shows what you know. I made a similar deal with those very same Nausicaans, before you, promising them our cargo, your cargo, Hexagin, and the distributor for my freedom and your imprisonment!"

    His partner turned to him. "What!?"

    "Well, well, don't you have everything in order," laughed BOB at his Ferengi counterpart. "But, unfortunately for you two, I made my own deal with the Nausicaans, even earlier than you, promising everything you just said, but including the imprisonment of Ardra's crew— which is what you two are."

    Seifer laughed, himself. "Sorry, BOB. But, in fact, I made my own deal with the Nausicaans. I offered them all of that, but threw in this imitation Jewel of Thasia." And then he paused. "Crap, I shouldn't have said it was an imitation." Then, he paused again. "Crap! I just bet against you, and you're on our side??" And then he paused again. "Double-crap! I think I called on the Breen, actually."

    "You fools are now under the control of the Nausicaan Guard," came the hail of the Nausicaan command officer, Kuoket. "Which of you did we make the real deal with, and which were the fakes? You squished-heads look all the same to us!"

    Commander Seifer raised his hand. "Yeah, it definitely wasn't me, sorry."

    "We've dealt with you before, Seifer!" countered Kuoket. "Do you not remember the five crates of yak cheese you tricked us into trading during your renegade thieving days, in 2376, beyond your Federation life??"

    Seifer's eyes widened. "Kuoket? I completely swindled you out of those Skkrrea refugees which I sold to the Ferengi for a hefty price!"

    "You did us a favor, since those refugees were sick with Varro's disease and completely turned that Ferengi crew into singing love birds," he cringed. "You can go, but it's Ardra's crew and these Orions I want to punish for the mere existence of what-if scenarios."

    The Commander crossed his arms. "Well, we are completely within our rights to imprison them, but I guess this works out because I'm anxious to see that youthening array mess with Bajoran physiology after what they did to us."

    ---

    Later, the Phoenix-X took orbit of Bajor VIII, which was being orbited by the Son'a metaphasic distributor. Its sails opened up and just before it was about to do anything, it exploded in a ball of fire. Simultaneously, Retired Admiral Picard transported onto the Bridge of the ship.

    "Got me another one of those," he said, proudly. "Well then. I'll relinquish to some quarters and you can take me back to Earth when you're ready.

    The crew, in shock, watched him leave the Bridge. Everyone then turned back to Commander Seifer. "I guess we'll go there next?"

    "Well, I hope you've learned a lesson in all this," said Kayl, turning to BOB.

    The Ferengi nodded. "Yeah, that I'm not as good a grifter as I thought I was. Sometimes we surpass the ways we used to be."

    "Hey, you got us to where we needed to be," said Seifer. "As for me, I learned that I was just like you once, and that to judge is to judge myself. Also, the past never leaves you, no matter how many databases you thought you illegally erased."

    Red turned. "Lying is not honorable. It leads to mistakes and memory loss. You should all be ashamed of yourselves!"

    "Oh, crap," Seifer blurted. "I forgot the rest of our Klingon Exchange officers back at Kesprytt III!"

    ---

    Elsewhere, in a Prytt interrogation room, deep, within the planet, Kortos, Amos and Targon continued to regail the Prytt official with stories of their non-adventures.

    "Oh! There was one time, our Doctor genetically modified a generation of Tribble into consciousness with mouths so they could speak," said Kortos.

    The Prytt man, Maeke, pulled out his hair and moved for the exit. "Enough! Enough! You guys can wait out in the hall until your ship arrives! I should have been a Kes-hating farmer, like my uncle."

    THE END
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2021
  11. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Author's notes: This was written in August 2020 as part of the Trek BBS August/September 2020 Challenge. This takes place in the late 24th century.

    August/September 2020 Challenge: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step .... That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind .... In any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety .... Just do the next right thing, take a step, step again, it is all that I can do .... Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase ....

    August/September 2020 Challenge
    One Step: Partial Recall

    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X wrangled through space until coming to a complete stop. Commander Night Seifer entered the Bridge from his Ready Room to observe the spectacular view of a shimmering purple nebula suddenly being replaced by the monotonous hail from Starbase 55.

    "Finally! You're in range. For a ship with a working transwarp drive, you really are difficult to get a hold of," the hair-receding Admiral Cloud commented from the viewscreen.

    The Trill and Starfleet officer took a seat in the command chair. "Yeah, after having gone through twenty-four Phoenix-named ships in a two-year testing phase, we're never using that thing again."

    "You choose life. I get it. Anyway, the reason I'm hailing is because I believe it is high time you were promoted to Captain," the Human affirmed. "Yes, technically, at any rank, a ship corporate senior supervisor is what some call 'Captain', but at any Starfleet party, you are still what you are: An almost."

    Seifer's eyes widened to near-Gowron levels. "That's what the time crystals on Boreth foresaw on my tombstone! But, Admiral, I was expecting a chewing-out for that Evora delegation we fed to an illogical sehlat?"

    "That specific delegation had murdered and was about to murder ten more orphanages, so you were morally justified," Cloud reaffirmed. "My only concern is the chemical imbalance that your genetically modified evil symbiont may encroach, since it is obsessed with power and ego?"

    The Commander put his hand to his stomach and felt a subtle movement within. "Yes, several years back he was altered by Srivani scientists in some kind of Hyper-Genealogical Conversion Competition. The winner got dinosaur DNA for a full year."

    "Imagine all the T-Rex's one could generate!"

    The Trill nodded in agreement. "Like, at least 50. Anyway, my symbiont has been a very good boy of late. Didn't even burst out in horror when I knocked over that Kal-toh set in front of that group of Borg kids."

    "I've seen Borg go rabid over Kal-toh. Anyway, if what you say is true, great! I dub thee the rank of Captain and all the Omega-related access powers therein," Cloud declared optimistically as he entered in the changes on his console.

    Seifer's stomach suddenly started going haywire, bulging and morphing in pure, unrelenting symbiotic-power. "Ahh! Change me back! Change me back!"

    "I'm trying! I'm trying!" Cloud scrambled as he frantically tried to reverse the order. "It's saying it'll take six-to-eight weeks!"

    The newly appointed Captain then clutched his stomach in agony until his pupils turned into a fiery purple color and was taken over. He transported himself onto the runabout U.S.S. Iroh and sped off to the nearest star while entering calculations for time warp!

    “Soooo, how’s the ex-wife?” Lieutenant Commander Armond asked the Admiral. "Still paying alimony?"

    But before he could answer in frustration of merely being spoken to by a lower rank officer, the Sovereign-class U.S.S. Zephyra dropped warp and approached the Phoenix-X until the viewscreen split two ways.

    "Phoenix-X! We know exactly what happened," came the expeditious hail from Starfleet officer and Human, Captain Aeris. "Fourteen years ago, your prematurely promoted 'Captain' appeared from the future and began committing a series of robberies throughout the Federation until I caught and jailed him."

    Cloud was taken aback. "That son of a sehlat! Well, I guess it's always the Trill ones. You know what I mean."

    "Actually, it turns out he was faking terrible deeds to trick his symbiont into thinking he had turned bad but was really amassing cloning technology to create a Trill host that would offset the separated consciousness of the symbiont," Aeris clarified. "The Night host died from the imbalance on Mars in 2385, five seconds before one of those crazy Synths were about to stab him. Rumor has it that the lack of murder-satisfaction in that single moment set the rest of the Androids off in some kind of massive Synth attack against the Federation."

    Armond nodded. "That would drive anyone mad. From an OCD standpoint, I mean."

    "Wait! Then what of his clone? Surely he was produced and went completely evil, a-la Shinzon or the entirety of the Dominion's Vorta and Jem'Hadar castes?" Cloud pursued.

    Aeris shrugged, stepping aside. "Take a look for yourself. In actuality, the Night clone served in Starfleet for years, rising in rank aboard the U.S.S. Atlantis and was reportedly nothing but pure delightfulness."

    "Hey, guys. What's up? I heard there was a hubbub on the Bridge, and wanted to bring everyone cookies to make their day better," offered the Trill clone in a Sciences uniform, holding a tray of baked goods. "Also, I did all the Bridge crew paperwork for the next five missions."

    Cloud almost fell off his seat. "He actually did it! An offset to reset all offsets!"

    "The only thing we're missing is the Seifer symbiont, which, unlike most symbionts, could survive on its own years longer, and was put on ice and set to ship around the Federation to the Klingon Empire in an unending decade-long shipping spree of shipping madness," Aeris added.

    A bell chimed in Armond's head and he immediately started looking around the Bridge of the Phoenix-X until he pulled up a regular cardboard shipping box, covered in delivery stickers. "Of course! This has been sitting here for weeks!"

    "Ugh!" the Night clone on the Zephyra's Bridge reacted in disgust as Armond pulled out the worm-like Seifer symbiont for all to see. "What's going on here? Is that dinner?"

    Aeris transported him and herself over to the Phoenix-X, while Armond replicated a surgical bed onto the Bridge and called the Doctor up.

    "In a sense," Aeris answered. "It is going in your stomach, but this one'll need zip-ties or some kind of chewing gum to hold it on." She directed him to lie down on the bed and then she turned to the Doctor. "So, Doc, to recap the situation—"

    The older and grey-haired Human and Starfleet officer, Doctor Lox, held up his hand indicating his comprehension. "No need for a 'previously, on'. I see a biobed in the middle of the Bridge and I know exactly what to do."

    "Uhh, I'm willing to support an unjoined symbiont and all, but can't we take a moment to process, as well as move to the privacy of Sickbay?" the Night clone queried before Lox engaged the resistance clamps around his wrists and ankles.

    Lox immediately got to work. "No time! All surgeries are intense and without forethought of their consequences! Especially financial! Now, go! Go! Go! Go!"

    "Ahh!" the clone pre-screamed as he began to undergo the medical procedure despite a fear of being thrust into things so fast. "AAAAHHHHHH!!!"

    Cloud opened a bag of popcorn and ate slowly as he watched the events unfold, from his viewscreen. Soon after, the joining was a complete success, and the new Night Seifer sat up on the biobed in realization of everything.

    "I remember it all," Seifer began. "We fought the Borg, so many times. More than even necessary. Like to the point their appearance became redundant and tiresome."

    Armond nodded solemnly. "Yeah, we were trying a Voyager thing for a while there. Also, don't worry. Our Talaxian chefs are all dead now."

    "Seifer, is that you? Are you back?" Cloud asked, hesitantly.

    The Trill nodded. "I believe so. In addition to symbiont memories, I also have adopted this clone's experiences from the Atlantis." He paused. "I have a master's degree in Tea, Earl Grey-ology?"

    "Nothing wrong with that! For a second there, I thought I was going to have to promote someone on that crew," Cloud wiped a bead of sweat off his glistening forehead.

    Ensign Dan rebutted, "Sir, we've been at the same rank for over 23 years!"

    "You dare contest me? You're relieved!" the Admiral conflated.

    Aeris similarly breathed a sigh of her own relief. "Well, I'm just glad to get you back to normal. Your new host went from being an almost to something closer to complete."

    "It was very unlike clone-me," Seifer realized. "But I suppose there is a point in all our lives we have to make a leap. And, thanks to your help, I now believe I have about a 5% reduction in any thievery or homicidal tendencies."

    Cloud postulated, "That may in fact be enough of a curtail to withstand the previously attempted ego-distributable promotion. The fact you have a different Service Number than the other guy means we can now give this another go."

    "Yes!"

    Armond glanced at Seifer's uniform pips. "Wait. Aren't you at rank Lieutenant Commander?"

    "Oh, that's right. Good catch," Cloud noticed. "A promotion to Commander it is! Congratulations! Now, off to continue your exciting, non-stop adrenaline-pumping mission of building the Federation's future Transwarp Infrastructure!"

    Seifer did a double-take. "Wait. What? That's the exact same rank I started with! How am I supposed to know if I'm really cured? It's like the universe is being run by some ironic koala."

    "Hey, maybe it's better to not tempt fate. I can't imagine the guessing required for calculations of timewarp," Aeris suggested as she placed the new pips on Seifer's uniform collar. "Also, no need to replicate new desk name plates."

    The new Commander sighed. "That's true. Thanks, everyone. But, for my crew, I still want you all to call me Captain, despite my lower rank."

    "Suggestion captured. Your request will take six-to-eight weeks," Armond reported, entering in the data before noticing something else. "Oh, hey, we're also getting that shipment of Talaxian lungs today. Finally!"
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
  12. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Author's notes: This was written in November 2020 as part of the Trek BBS October/November 2020 Challenge. This takes place in the late 24th century. The new ship class is from Star Trek: Lower Decks.

    October/November 2020 Challenge: Many stories have been told of deals made with the literal or figurative devil. Agreements arranged to satisfy a heart's desire, to undo a mistake, or to save a loved one. Trades made willingly or under duress, perhaps in desperation, or with the best of intentions... and we all know what's said of good intentions :devil:

    Inspired by the celebration at this time of year, your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to craft such a tale. Regale us with the story of how and why the deal was made, and how those involved dealt with the consequences. Was it worth it? Did they pay the piper, or maybe they tricked the "devil" and got away with it (for now...)? Maybe someone else paid for their arrangement? Original characters only this time, please, and preferably new stories written for the challenge. PM with any questions, otherwise have at it!

    October/November 2020 Challenge
    Paging Dr. Faust: Reverse Metallurgy

    The California-class U.S.S. Phoenix-Y chugged through transwarp as Commander Seifer, a Trill and the Commanding officer, entered the Bridge trying to suppress his antipathy.

    "Ugh. The holodecks on this ship are so dated. Vic Fontaine's is a Café des Artistes where your love interest organizes a revolution against Nazi's. Also, a sentient commbadge tries to eat you?"

    Armond, a Human and Tacitcal officer, tapped at his console. "Yeah, and there are a surprising number of Ensigns running around having their own adventures. Why'd we destroy the Phoenix-X for this?"

    "It was that annoying Kruge/Soran hybrid Kruran who tried to run the transwarp drive through quantum slipstream," Kugo, a Vulcan and the Chief Engineer, recanted. "We ended up crash-landing on an ice world and realizing we all needed seatbelts."

    The Commander nodded. "It's unfortunate they were outlawed in the early 2300s after the Gravity Plating Lawsuits. Anyway, I have the exact solution to all this. Remember that Traveler we met who converted several near-destroyed Starfleet ships into completely new classes? Well, he hasn't died from exhaustion yet!"

    The crew observed as the ship dropped back into normal space over the large Nausicaan space station Hekacos Social. Wayfar appeared on screen, in the corner of a busy dive-bar, near-completely out of it.

    "Oh, another ship wants an upgrade?" Wayfar connected his bloodwine to the table. "For once, how about a stroll through the mystery beaches of Orion? Or, a Vegas casino heist where we all walk really slow in a line?"

    Seifer held up a datarod. "Normally, I'd be into all that, but right now I have the complete solid-state scan of our last ship, the Phoenix-X, down to the leola root wrappers on every deck. You simply must re-engineer this lower deck stacked saucer-on-sticks back into a Prometheus-class for continuity and before we all go insane from the constant Chu-Chu."

    "As a band-sifting, space-wielding Traveler with an on-and-off Starfleet commission, you know I can do that. But first, I would ask you to agree to my terms," Wayfar established. "Now hear this! You and your crew will have to give up something significant for this gift. A sacrifice so transformative that it would In the Pale Moonlight you for the rest of your lives."

    The Commander watched as Wayfar began to band-shift himself out of there until he was gone. Seconds later, Wayfar band-shifted himself back to grab the wine.

    "I'm not in crisis. I just don't like to waste things."

    ---

    Later, with Wayfar onboard and the hackey old-style ship in transit, Commander Seifer met with his senior staff in the Conference room.

    "All we need to do is sacrifice one huge thing," he began. "So, hands up if that visiting Evora delegation is good to go."

    He made a mental note as no one put their hands up, per moral standards of not-ejecting people into space. Kugo changed the target. "Or, we have an excess of T88's in Engineering. They're pretty much blocking access to the warp core, and access to Engineering. Phasering them seems to replicate more."

    "Ensign Dan!" Kayl, a Human and the Operations officer, threw out. "He broke all the replicators on Deck 3 building his own personal android child named LOL."

    Ensign Dan, a Bajoran and Science officer, turned to her. "Yeah, but she was 47% successful and did everyone's reports for the last mission. Granted, they were filled with early 21st century Direct Message acronyms and vegetable emojis."

    "Alright, wait," Seifer held up his hand. "I think we're all going at this way too hard. Just because we're on a ridiculous ship-letter doesn't mean we can't proceed with mindful calibration and non-Romulan-attacky poise."

    Lox, an older Human and the Doctor, queried, "Is it really necessary to change us back? Surely moving forward is healthier. Not to mention, a ship is a ship is a ship is a ship."

    "This pitiful space-crane looks like a head-only Enterprise-D!" Red, a Klingon and the helmsmen, slammed his fists into the table. "Also, is the gagh claw kiosk not working for anyone else?"

    Seifer spread his palms across the table. "Look. We all agree this is the only course of action, sans an auto-filled vessel requisition form to Utopia Planitia where no one wants to see Mars still on fire and be reminded of that whole dark-old-Picard thing. It's been 12 years. Is anyone ever going to put that planet out? Anyway, I suggest we all go around the table and give up one personal thing as a collective offering of selflessness to a greater cause: Abandoning privilege for better privilege."

    "Fine," Kayl agreed, trading her eyes in accord with each of the other staff. "I'll go first. I'm willing to part with my Tholian silk pillow that was excreted from the High Magistrates themselves. I warn you, it came from their butts."

    Armond expressed a moment of hesitation, but proceeded anyway. "There's a secret temporal access code I have from my days with the Starfleet Corps of Engineers. I can see into everyone's future personal logs. Red, you eat one of us several years from now."

    "What!?" Red and everyone else was taken aback seconds before the Klingon brushed it off. "Never mind. I will look forward to it. In the meantime, I will contribute my Ferengi tooth sharpener that I definitely did not steal from Worf during that Klingons Serving on Starfleet Vessels Symposium."

    Kugo indicated her head to Lox. "The Doctor and I will forego our annual giant tardigrade experimentations to yet another theorized layer of subspace which probably doesn't exist. Probably."

    "Uh, I'll give away all the Ready Room desks I stole from Captains throughout the fleet, without any intention of returning them like a bunch of Deep Space 9 kids would," Ensign Dan admitted.

    Seifer stood up. "You're relieved! What is going on here? Are you all seriously this terrible? Sure, I have an unhealthy obsession with throwing delegations out of airlocks, but you guys? Butt pillows, time travel logs, cannibalism? You're supposed to be better than me to balance things out?"

    "We're flawed too, Commander," Kayl began. "We break replicators, annihilate trans-dimensional holograms and initiate wars between Species 8472 and whoever the recurring alien villains are for us this year."

    The Commander paced and then stopped. "I guess I never realized the extent of our collective follies. Maybe it's the Phoenix-X that balanced us out? We were atrocious but the ship allowed coexistence because it was so OP. Now our ship is just as dreadful as we are."

    "It's not that bad. The U.S.S. Cerritos was this class and look at how they revolutionized Cardassian dance rituals," Kugo noted. "Also, they were so snappy with their dialogue. Like, a five-jokes-per-minute thing."

    Seifer clenched his fist. "Right. They made it work, so why not us? This is what we were given, and in order to be better than what got us here, we have to move forward like Lox said. It's time for us to act like the real science/military mashups we were supposed to be."

    "Well done, Commander," came the slow clap from Wayfar, leaning against the wall nearby. "Your true sacrifice was sacrificing sacrifice itself, the most terrifying self-calibration any man can take! Not pushing the envelope is your pushing-the-envelope."

    The Trill recoiled is shock. "Ahh! You were standing there the whole time? That's really creepy, dude."

    "Why not? Mirror Georgiou did it every meeting on the Discovery," Wayfar countered. "Probably because she didn't have a job. Also, I will now grant you the seemingly impossible type of class refit only a Traveler could concede."

    Armond shook his head. "But our thing was to not do that?"

    "Well, it's too late! Once you put an idea into a Traveler's head, he never is able to rid it. Why do you think I was drinking earlier? Why do you think that other Traveler wouldn't leave Wesley alone?"

    Kugo interjected. "Well, how long is this going to take?"

    "Oh, I'm already done," Wayfar admitted.

    The crew found themselves suddenly surrounded by Prometheus-class interiors aboard their starship re-engineered back as the U.S.S. Phoenix-X. Seifer checked the registry on a nearby console. "Holy balding-Organian! The ship is exactly the old one!"

    "It's three weeks later," Wayfar explained. "I froze you guys in time as we were talking purely for shock value. Your ship is now reconfigured and reverse-named back to X, like a weird 90s letter fetish. I forged Admiral Cloud's approval and everything. Hope this satisfies your continuity."

    Lox crossed his arms. "There's just something remiss about all this. Sure, we're going to try to be better officers, despite the now recaptured temptation of our old ship, but there's no residual sour taste to our sacrifices?"

    "Yes, about that. I forgot to mention we're also docked at Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards."

    Seifer then activated the wall-screen. "We're what? No!"

    "That's right! Behold its absurdity! Muahahaha!" the Traveler began. "MUAHAHAHAHA!!"

    The Commander fell to his knees at his and his crew's shared horrifying witness of Mars still in flames. "Nooo! It makes no sense! How is it still on fire?? Nooooooooooo!"

    And, with that, Wayfar banded himself out of there in laughter to leave Seifer and his crew wallowing in the complete madness of whatever Mars was now.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2021
  13. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Author's notes: This was written as part of the Trek BBS March/April 2021 Challenge. This takes place in the late 24th century. Both void types are from two unrelated Star Trek: Voyager episodes.

    March/April 2021 Challenge: In German we have a saying: Die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt (hope is the last to die). Since we're currently living through tough times I feel we could all use some hope. So the theme of the challenge for March and April is "Hope". It should be set in the Trekverse but if inspiration strikes you for a story set in a different world you can submit it, too. As long or short as you want it.

    March/April 2021 Challenge

    Hope Dies Last: Double Void

    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X trekked its way through a dark region of complete nothingness with no end in sight, forever and ever and ever and ever. Commander Seifer stood, ominously staring out the window of his Living Quarters as Lieutenant Commander Armond seeped his way in.

    "Sir, we've been trapped here for five months. You picked a bad time to isolate yourself from the crew," the lower-ranked officer pleaded.

    Seifer turned, partially illuminating himself. "Is there an actual good time for that? Besides, we transwarped to the Delta Quadrant to find Borg and tripped over a subspace eddy that encased us in this classic Voyager hellhole: If I want to replicate Janeway's self-deprecation for old times sakes, then I will."

    "Makes sense. Speaking of infodumps, I just wanted to give you this report," Armond handed him a PADD. "The ship is infested with Fantome species."

    The Commander looked at it. "But that's a by-product of The Void anomaly? I thought we were trapped in The Void region??"

    "Can't it be both?" Armond shrugged, innocently. "Anyway, Armond out!"

    ---

    Seifer made his way through the dimly lit corridors, finding messes of junk, depressed officers, and Fantome species all over. He entered the Bridge to find more of the same and his senior staff asleep at their stations.

    "Hey! It's your old Commanding officer, Seifer and stuff," he declared, slowly waking them. "Look. I know being double-Voided has taken away all our hope, reminding us of our own follies. But there must be something left to motivate you?"

    Kayl sat up. "Our eventual demise?"

    "I'm looking forward to a possible Kobali revival," Ensign Dan announced, optimistically.

    Seifer snapped. "You're relieved! No, we need actual hope. Perhaps a plan to get out of here."

    "Wait a minute," Doctor Lox approached. "Did any of us even attempt to think of a way out of all this?"

    Kugo blinked. "Now that you mention it. I believe we have all been so overwhelmed with the situation that we didn't even try. Like, some kind of situational paralysis."

    "You're Starfleet!" reminded the exchange officer Red. "The first thing you do when trapped somewhere is to find a way out!"

    Seifer rolled his eyes. "That's imprisonment, not natural anomaly things. In these, we're mandated to have life and death— padded with emotion— high-stakes drama with whatever species we encounter around said nature thing."

    "Oh, we had that with the Malon when we accidentally re-opened a spatial vortex on our way into the outer tier level Void," Kayl explained. "Except their drama was of excess gratitude."

    The Commander shook it all away. "Okay, forget that. How do we get out of this Void, and then the other Void, without entering or creating some kind of Triple Void?"

    "Hmm," Kugo contemplated. "We either have to murder a frigate for a polaron modulator, or create our own, then warp through a funnel right into that spatial vortex."

    Armond perked. "Don't forget we have to blow them all behind us to ride the shockwaves out! The perfect chaos for any climax."

    "Wait! The Fantome species are saying something, musically!" Lox observed as several of them began tapping at PADDs, communicating with various delightful tones. Lox translated. "They say they're grateful for helping them to siphon the Phoenix-X's resources."

    Seifer watched in amazement of their progress. "And they want to help us now?"

    "No," Lox rooted, flatly. "They were just rubbing it in."

    Everyone watched as all the Fantome's transported themselves out of there, having depleted the ship's replicator rations. A voice echoed on transmission, throughout the ship.

    "Greetings, vessel. I am the all-consuming void of nothingness, swimming within another nothingness for dual emphasis," it bellowed. "Just wanted to say hi, is all. Hiiiii!"

    Seifer blinked. "If you're nothing, then how are you a thing? We even have trouble quantifying the vacuum-nothing that isn't space. Language limits us, to be honest."

    "Not-things can be things too! You don't know me or what non-Universe I'm from!" it argued. "Sorry. We're going to be in here a long time, so we should connect on how we're the inverse of people who win, together."

    The Commander stood his ground. "No! My ship may be a refit and I may be a clone, but that doesn't define who we are. We need to get out of you and decide that for ourselves," Seifer suggested to an agreeable crew.

    "Oh, you think you're better than me?" the void argued. "You can't deny failure forever!"

    Everyone then got to work, setting various things and knobs into motion for one long, exciting teamwork-based montage!

    "Sir, there's a buildup of gravitons indicating a funnel is opening," Armond reported from Tactical.

    Seifer took the centre of the Bridge. "It's like the void is a giant whale and those are the holes. I'm ready to prove that situational paralysis can be overcome despite Fantomes. Do the things!"

    The Phoenix-X stretched into the funnel, then dropped out into normal, Theta radiation-filled starless space, seconds before doing it all over again through the new vortex, whilst exploding it behind them.

    "Woooooo!" Seifer exclaimed as the Phoenix-X spun itself back into space, with stars suddenly starting to appear on screen. "There. I saw something. A star. Harry, what do you see?"

    Harry Kim stepped forward. "I see a densely packed region with thousands of star systems. Looks pretty lively."

    "Oh yeah. I forgot you were visiting," Seifer noticed. "Thanks, Harry. And, thanks everyone else for keeping completely silent during that entire work montage so we could overlay music. Taking action to get oneself out of a rut sometimes requires you to face yourself, or a sentient void. Also, we're out of food. Now, let's set a course for the Talaxians."

    The Phoenix-X turned in space and jumped to transwarp in a musical crescendo as Seifer teared up with a swell of unwarranted emotion. Hope!
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2021
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  14. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Author's notes: This was written as part of the Trek BBS July/August 2021 Challenge and takes place in the late 24th century. Cardassian state of affairs are from STO's Path to 2409, and the Android ban is from Star Trek: Picard. Horace is from the 1995 comic Mudd's Pets, and this entry takes inspiration from Short Treks: The Escape Artist.

    July/August 2021 Challenge: The July/August challenge is to write a story involving deception on the part of a character. Any Star Trek era, canon or your own set of characters. No word limit, but let's avoid novellas if possible.

    Trek BBS: July/August 2021 Challenge
    Lies! All Lies!: I Ain't Callin' You a Truther

    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X drifted listlessly until coming into a face-to-face alignment with the Cardassian Galor-class Roltekk.

    "This is your last chance, Phoenix-X!" clamored Krane from the viewscreen. "Surrender your ship or suffer the consequences of Cardassian might!"

    Commander Seifer took the center of the Bridge. "Your reign of terror ends here, Krane. We'll do whatever we can to terminate such madness and general all-around craziness, if that's what's going on, medically." And then, realizing, "You know what? I'm being insensitive. Let's start over."

    "Uh, sir," Tactical officer Armond raised a confused hand. "What terror? Who is that?"

    Seifer turned to him. "Didn't you do the briefing on the renegade-Roltekk's mission to occupy outlying Bajoran colonies?"

    "Yeah, none of us did that due to the Klingon Grok'Moga ritual we were compounding for Lieutenant Commander Red," Operations officer Kayl deadpanned. "Just a room made of active pain-sticks from all angles."

    Klingon Exchange Officer Red turned from the Helm. "Thank you all for participating. As requested, I have submitted a query to the Empire for them to explain to us what we all just did."

    "Uggh. So, everyone just lied about staff meeting attendance?" Seifer struggled.

    Ensign Dan offered, "We didn't lie. We just omitted certain details."

    "You're relieved!" the Commander snapped.

    Krane interrupted. "What is this about 'occupying' colonies? Admittedly, that sounds enticing, but those worlds are chock-full of Bajoran-hijacked Miranda-class refits."

    "You're not even supposed to have refits!" Seifer began. "The Cardassian military was disbanded due to the Dominion-annihilating of half your resources?"

    The other man slammed his fist into the arm of his chair. "Well, I kept mine and ran away! It's a pirate's life for me! Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of kanar! The only Cardassian thing you know of us!" He then reset. "Anyway, what about you? Our Intel states you plan on picking off all ex-military, one by one?"

    "Picking out, in point of fact," corrected Seifer. "In addition to overall aid, we're picking out new suits for all of you, per Garak's suggestion that a new look might make everyone feel better." He lifted his gaze. "That was supposed to be a surprise."

    Krane stood in outrage. "Well, I would love a new suit! I would look very dashing!" And then, "This means only one thing: My Intel is full of lies, much like Alexander Rozhenko and his claims of a complete lizard model collection." Everyone watched as he tapped at a nearby console, calling up his contact. The screen split on both ships to include the new guy. "You will tell me what is up with your 'whole thing' or I will speak in that sly, sneaky, annoying Cardassian vocal tone all over your speakers!"

    "Ew, no! You know how I hate that," the squiggly human with a mustache and pirate hat shuddered. "Alright, fine. If you must know, I lured you both into the same space because I require you in drawing out a local threat."

    Seifer was taken aback, unimpressed. "Lured us?" He then called his own Starfleet Intelligence, and the screen split a third way, but just duplicated the other man's transmission.

    "The name's Horace," the human continued on now two feeds. "Horace T. Mudd. I planked and walked your Intelligence frequencies to feed you both false information, which I do apologize for, in-so that we may come together to stop the Android uprising against all organic-kind."

    The Commander pinched his nose in frustration. "Aren't you a lie-splurging, Mudd-descendant, rip-off swindler, convicted of accidentally releasing power-cable-consuming vermin on Deep Space 9 which was oddly Memory-Alpha-archived as an obscure comic book?"

    "And I would've gotten away with it too if it weren't for that meddling smarty-pants crew!" he snapped before re-composing himself. "I mean, your science-obsessed brain-hogging isn't annoying. But, more importantly, such an understanding means that if we can dismantle these sentient robots, we can sell their parts on Freecloud, three-way-split."

    Seifer pointed a casual gun-finger. "There it is. Your true, non-fib motivation."

    "I'm in!" Krane popped, excitedly before reading the Commander's deadpan reaction. "Well, it's not like I'm rolling in the leks since the disband. I do have a few quatloos, though. Used them in a bet once."

    The Commander sighed before initiating mandatory air-quotes. "No. These 'metal men' are to be investigated by the Federation, and likely dismantled in accordance with the ban. Because who could prove that an Android is sentient? Who would ever take the time for such a stimulating and engaging court room spectacle?"

    "Uh, Judge Advocate General Phillipa Louvois?" Armond pointed out.

    Seifer waved it off. "Clearly that was stricken from the records, because I've been told to stop remembering that."

    "Well, helllooooooo!" came the Robin Williams-like hail from an Android after three Miranda-class refit starships decloaked in front of the Phoenix-X and Roltekk. The viewscreen spliced in three more feeds with identical Horace Mudds. "We are the Horace Mudd Androids, and are here for your hull components and delicious isolinear chips!"

    Krane did a double take. "Wait. What? You lied to us, Mudd!"

    "I omitted certain truths of me trying to make decoy copies of myself and them back-firing with their insurgency," the human Horace Mudd explained. "Only because the copy-thing had been done before by my 1-inch-shorter-version grandfather. Their motivations of metallic supremacy notwithstanding."

    Seifer gritted his teeth. "Dammit, Mudd! Is there anything original about you at all, or are you a 100% ancestral rip-off??"

    "Don't listen to the terrible Section 31-hoarding Federation," Krane argued. "You have to emulate others as a starting point before going off into your own thing. It's the fake-it-til-you-make-it template. Like, seven of us are a Gul Dukat gyp, who himself was a Gul Macet clone."

    The human Horace furrowed his brow in protest. "No, Commander Seifer is right. I've amounted to nothing new, haven't I? Escaping the Klingons, the Federation, Bajor and even a separate colony of next generation Soong-like Androids with twins that has nothing to do with these Androids and it's just a coincidence."

    "Am I just a rip-off Will Decker?" Seifer looked at his own hands.

    The other Horace Mudd Androids flinched at the human Horace Mudd slamming his fists into his console. "We're all a something! I'm going to self-destruct all the me's as a transformative display of personal arcs! That metamorphosis being I'll take over what's left of Cardassia! Hahaha!"

    "You're lying again and just stalling so you can clean up your evidence, aren't you?" Seifer straight-faced.

    Horace up-rooted a triumphant finger before all the Miranda-class refit ships began to explode. "I'm staying ambiguous to cast doubt and awe upon my future." His double-feed clicked off.

    "So, is that guy a thing now, or just a one-off?" Krane said, confused as all the Horace screens disconnected and both the Roltekk and the Phoenix-X moved out of the explosions range.

    Seifer shrugged. "It's likely that obscurity is his new character trait."

    "Great!" Krane sarcasted. "Now I have to prepare or don't-prepare for this new insanity that may or may not come. Uggh. This is all your fault, Phoenix-X. Not knowing things is far more annoying than explaining the Cardassian neck trick!"

    The crew watched the screen blink out to the exterior view of the Roltekk jumping to warp. "Well, we definitely don't ever want to be an undefined grey mush of uncertainty," Armond suggested. "Sorry about not taking the briefing earlier, despite the content being false and a would-be waste of our time."

    "No, I get it," Seifer reassured. "We've all been together for so long, protocol shadows in and out and spewing-informality bleeds over service. We all lie. Whether it's to protect someone's feelings or slow your peers to get away, falsifying data is the slick, new cloaking field of the conversational world."

    Kayl hesitated. "But shouldn't the lesson be to do the opposite of that?"

    "Pfft! Lessons are so Enterprise-D," Seifer accentuated as he made his way off the Bridge, into the turbolift. "But, in the spirit of revealing fraudulence, you should know I shortened my shift by 15 minutes for a Fantasy Football thing and not a Gamesters of Triskelion thing."

    After he was gone, Red's console indicated a communication from the Klingon Empire, diverting everyone's attention. "Ah! Here we go. They say the Grok'Moga is a ritual to celebrate treachery. Seems a bit off-brand. Clearly, we will celebrate anything now."
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2022
  15. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    Harry Mudd??? You brought Harry Mudd III in as SFI?

    Okay - that actually makes sense. Boy would Kirk be shocked...

    These ARE the Mudd Droids you're looking for...

    Thanks!! rbs
     
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  16. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    lol He's more like a fake SFI in just that one moment.

    Actually, I didn't create Horace Mudd. He's from an obscure 1995 comic called Mudd's Pets, where he tries smuggling with Quark on Deep Space 9. (Edited my Author's notes to include him) Still trying to find a copy of it from somewhere for my own collection.

    EDIT: Here's an STEU wiki article on him: Horace T. Mudd
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2021
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  17. ColdFusion180

    ColdFusion180 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2021
    So much for Mudd's Men. The galaxy was not ready for them. Nice touch with the fitting last line. Surprised about the Klingon ritual about treachery. It would seem a dishonorable thing to celebrate.
     
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  18. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    lol It would be a fleet of over-the-top extroverted Androids, annoying Captains everywhere. Maybe it would be fun to bring them back somehow.

    Thanks! I totally agree. I previously had it as celebrating being honest, but something close to lying felt like it was adequately over-the-top. In my head, there are an infinite amount of rituals spewing from Qo'noS and a tiny fraction of them celebrating the dishonorable Krudges and Duras' of the Empire.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2021
  19. Hawku

    Hawku Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Author's notes: This was written as part of the Trek BBS January/February 2022 Challenge and takes place in the late 24th century.

    January/February 2022 Challenge: I’d like to suggest that with Valentines Day coming up next month, it might be fun to do a “fluff” fic challenge. In fanfic, “fluff” refers to fic without angst; any pleasant, feel-good story. Fluff may lack plot; however, unlike a PWP the focus is not sex, but displays of affection between two or more characters, whether their relationship is romantic or not. My guidelines would be: any ship you like. I write a rare pair so I have a tender spot for rare pairs but I also love Jean-Luc/Beverly and Hugh/Paul. Could be from Alpha or Beta canon. Any word count you like— just get the story story told. Let’s write some tooth-rotting fluff fic!

    Trek BBS: January/February 2022 Challenge
    Fluff February: Aimless Abandon

    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X listed aimlessly in orbit of Valt Minor, in cahoots with the Sovereign-class U.S.S. Zephyra, as the cassette-based answering machine on the Phoenix-X clicked on a message of gratitude from below.

    "Hello, hi hi! Just wanted to say, we appreciate you investigating ancient artifacts beneath our Temple of Akadar in exchange for delivering said-artifacts," came the thoughtful after-the-beep call by the side-face-spotted Valtese official. "We hope to boost tourism to a world many have deemed reluctant to visit due to the unfortunate word of 'Minor' in our name. Well, hopefully things are going better on your end."

    ---

    Down, in the depths of the recently uncovered underground passageways, far below the large temple, sporadic, fallen Starfleet officers littered an eons-old tunnel all the way up to a blocking stone structure. The structure was articulated with ancient Kriosian carvings and shapes jutting out, and Captain Aeris of the Zephyra and Commander Night Seifer of the Phoenix-X were all that were left of their teams.

    "Oh, the sacrifices we endured to get this far," Seifer drifted as he faced the stone monolith. "The lives that were effected."

    Aeris glanced back at all the officers lying on the ground, behind them. They were breathing, peacefully. "You know they're still alive, right? That you and I activated a harmless pitfall that shot out alpha-wave spores at everyone else and put them to sleep?"

    "Yeah, I know," the Trill shrugged. "I just wanted our situation to sound more dramatic. Have to spice up the adventure for maximum enjoyment."

    The Captain nodded. "Very well. We shall not forget those wayward souls." She smirked. "Kind of fun my ship was in the vicinity when the Valtese sent this out."

    "And so was mine," the man countered. "I told you before, we can't both accept missions simultaneously."

    The human woman began feeling around the structure for an access button. "And I told you, I accepted it first." Suddenly, she felt a depression and pushed it. The stone structure began shifting its protrusions and carvings around to alter its display.

    "Wait a second," Seifer halted. "These new shapes are a retelling of the ancient brothers Valt and Krios. It's depicting their conflict."

    Aeris observed as well. "Strange that someone built this thing and buried it so deep underground just after that incident." She scanned with her tricorder to still-no-results.

    "They fell in love with the same woman, Garuth, and it drove them and their empire apart," Seifer recalled and read at the same time.

    The brown-haired Captain added, "Even to the point Krios kidnapped her, like an empathic metamorphic Helen of Troy." And then, "That's not how to win a woman over, by the way."

    "Oh? There's a better way?" the Commander arched an eyebrow before noticing an oval shape emanating with stone etched-beams over the Valt figure, and then four corresponding oval button-protrusions below the entire fresco. "Wait. I think Valt tried something to win her before she was kidnapped?"

    Aeris shook her head in repulsed awe. "Of course. Men."

    "This obelisk is protecting a stone of something he used. We have to choose the right one, or the next pitfall could knock us out for days." Then he read the symbols on each oval, "Baryon, tetryon, zanthi and methogen."

    The Captain looked at him. "Why am I not surprised you studied Kriosian script before we got here?" Then she shook it off. "By the way, why is this artifact hunting thing so important to you?"

    "I like the chase," Seifer turned, caught off-guard before he stared off through the structure. "A remnant behavioural trait, perhaps, from when my symbiont imbalance led it to seek out an unrestrained lifestyle in the past. Thanks to you, my clone host was able to even things out."

    Aeris dipped her head slightly in understanding. "Very true, and now with this approach you can have a chase the right way." She sighed before shifting focus. "Well, for me, I thought this find might be a nice footnote in the History of Aeris. Something other than captaining a ship with forty-seven medical ERs. But with you in the way, that jeopardizes said note."

    "Yeah, but we can share credit, right?" Seifer deadpanned to a non-responsive Aeris. Then he realized her bias. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me."

    Suddenly, the Captain snapped her fingers. "Baryon and tetryon! The first two are subatomic, and methogenic particles are way too charged to handle safely."

    "That leaves zanthi. But isn't that a virus that causes Betazoids to project emotions? In more cases than necessary, that of love?" Seifer queried.

    Aeris then realized, "A love-pull, encased in a stone by Valt as his scheme to drive Garuth to him." She pressed it and caused the structure to reform and separate, revealing a larger chamber before them with a pedestal and red oval stone sitting upon it. "A symbol and physical manifestation of his own failed love-obsession."

    "When it wasn't enough, he had it hidden down here to forget her," Seifer surmised as he took in the situation. Then he resigned his hands to behind his back as a gesture of liberation. "You know what? It's yours."

    The Captain took a few steps forward before stopping herself. She paused, thinking about the pitfalls of her own obsession. She turned to Seifer to prompt him. "No. It's both of ours."

    ---

    They both entered the chamber and approached the pedestal with the oval on it. Seifer scanned it with his tricorder.

    "Wait. What the hell? This is just glass?" He then noticed a piece of paper taped to the edge of the pedestal. "And there's a note?"

    Aeris picked it up and read it. "Love is as malleable as we can discover it. The real stone belongs to me. Signed Garuth." They both then shared a moment of shock. "Damn. She was quite the vixen. She demanded more than both Krios and Valt."

    "There's a lesson here, and it's that the hunt does not necessarily have the prize you're looking for," Seifer realized before turning to her. "Clean up the bodies and go for a Kriosian raktajino?"

    The other officer put the note back. "I'd like that."
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2022
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  20. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2021
    You didn't, you know, obsess over this challenge??

    Thanks!! rbs
     
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