Legends of the Phoenix

Author's notes: This was written as part of the Trek BBS July/August 2022 Challenge and takes place in the late 24th century.

July/August 2022 Challenge: Critter Design: Non-humanoid (or any other sort of monkey). Could be animal/plant/fungus/other. Make it big enough to see - at least the size of a murder hornet or a small tree-frog. No upper size limit. Either unintelligent or so alien that we cannot communicate either by language or any form of telepathy. The more original and creative, the better.
Trek BBS: July/August 2022 Challenge
"Trouble with Critters: Marauding Moosaval"

The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X rotated completely off-axis around Starbase 55 for no reason whatsoever. Commander Night Seifer waited impatiently in the Conference room for his meeting when Ensign Dan suddenly entered.

"Where's Kugo? She's supposed to bring me the handheld, wired black hole generator remote for this afternoon's Task Force Epsilon tech summit."

The Starfleet officer held up a plastic model of a black hole. "Sorry, sir. The Chief Engineer decommissioned that after realizing it would destroy any ship and/or surrounding space it was thumb-pressed-activated on and in."

"Uggh. People and their precious space-times. Well, since the Phoenix-X was previously the head of said task force when we had an actual Captain, I need to convince the other ships we should still be lead now that I'm in charge," Seifer established.

Ensign Dan nodded, solemnly. "That's some good character arc set up, Commander."

"Stop observing my personal development from afar! You're relieved!" Seifer ordered before sighing. "Damn. I guess I'll have to settle for whatever Doctor Lox was working on this morning. So awkward when I run into crew at the breakfast nook."


Later, Seifer and the cranky old Doctor Lox completed setting up a large, confusing contraption in the starbase's own Conference room. The Captains from the other ships began filtering in with their own less convoluted devices.

"Soooo, you're okay to not be in Sickbay for an hour?" Seifer asked, scratching the back of his head.

With the finishing touches, Lox turned the power on his device. "I'm a human, not a hologram, Commander. Suggesting otherwise is an obvious tell for a Voyager hang-up. Also, I'm very excited to debut this Genesis Device, of which I have been working on for more than 26 years. Finally, it's Lox's time to shine!"

"Wait. Really?" Seifer was taken aback in pleasant surprise. "You did it. You remade the rapid terraforming machination that will solve galactic hunger, unite warring empires and create completely new planets and Vulcans in a blink of an eye. You're going to win this century's equivalent of the Nobel Prize?"

Lox cleared away a nearby folding table as the others started crowding around in curiosity. "I think it's the Dignified Person Award now. Anyway, no. This is named after that time the Enterprise-D crew's latent DNA introns were activated, causing everyone to de-evolve into earlier species from their homeworlds. My headcannon likes to title significant episodic events and, for me, that one episode was called Genesis."

"What? That was a terrible episode with abhorrent character treatment," countered Captain Menrow of the U.S.S. Crucial. "Picard and Riker turned into nitwits. Troi was basically a MacGuffin. And, after the traditional, syndicating reset button, they acted like nothing really happened!"

The Doctor held up a finger. "Ah, but we got proto-Klingon, Discovery-era, Worf. The best part of the whole thing. As such, my device will take DNA and Threshold it on its head!"

He pressed a PADD, revving the 1-meter-high machine to fire a diagonal transporter beam onto the table, materializing an amalgamation of Andorian redbat and Denebian slime devil. The 80-centimeter-tall aquatic-avian-merged creature showed wiry red limbs around its additional limb-crowned head and giant bat wings from its back.

"Ohh, lunch!" exclaimed the Andorian and Captain Iviok of the U.S.S. Jenova. He phasered the creature and enclosed it in a standard Federation issue padded suitcase. "I'm just really into redbat and I think this is going to be an interesting treat."

Seifer turned to his Chief Medical officer. "Lox, this doesn't make any sense. Genesis and Threshold played with the preposterous science-junk concept of de- and pre-evolution when it is clearly not how evolution works. How is that absurdity applied here?"

"I'm genetically accelerating synthetic T-cell programming to fancy-bow-tie the dormant DNA of several random animals I have suspended in this portable transporter buffer," the Doctor explained as he pressed his PADD and spat out a combo Kylerian goat and Altarian marsupial. The 45-centimeter-tall four-legged furry livestock stood on its hind legs, flickering its cute ears while purring adorably.

Captain Reynolds of the U.S.S. Hijinx immediately clasped a leash around its neck and directed it off the table to where she was standing. "Ohhh! This one's mine. Insomnia-curing goats milk and regenerative enzyme droppings? It's a magic elixir fur-baby!"

"Uh," interrupted Captain Samya of the U.S.S. Dropzone. "The Commander is right. If you're not following the rules of already previously established madness, then you are inviting a cornucopia of unpredictable mania only ten-fold of what was unasked for to begin with."

Lox laughed and slapped his machine in pure, unrelenting flippancy. "You mean this old thing? Bah. I made it with left over Thalaron generator, DMA controller and Xindi sphere parts. It's tenacious, but temperate."

The reverberation from the slap then activated its array and outputted a beastly randomization of mugato, sehlat and valebeast onto the table before breaking it. The 1.8-meter-tall upright white fur monster hung long fangs from its mouth and stood on powerful hoofs. "YYAERRGGHH!" it howled in unsummoned agitation, annoyed at being formed when not actually called upon by the PADD.

"Oh, no," observed Captain McCary of the U.S.S. Tsunami. "You've descended effortlessly into unmitigated and spontaneous expulsions. Who raised you, bruh??"

The beast hoofed its giant forearms into knocking the nearby refreshments table and its drinks all over the floor. Reynolds was already pouring water into a glass for her magic pet when she noticed the chaos.

"Agh! Dammit, Commander Seifer," cursed Captain Menrow. "Like the agonizing Arin'Sen, that thing obviously does not like being alive. Since Lox is under your command, you are to be responsible for this unadulterated Tora Ziyal mishmash."

The white furry beast then growled in agony at the existential crisis of just being. "AEERRHHH?!?" It continued going about the room, smashing various food tables, desert set-ups and elegant fruit bars.

"Hey!" approached Seifer. "Sure, being an accidental amassment of raging confusion is all fun and games and missing eyes, but what gets accomplished can only be measured in searing, malevolent levels of Armus goo. If you're not embracing or circumventing your stereotype, you're the problem."

The large thing then stopped to think about that. A hesitation enough for Commander Seifer to fire a force-palm into the Genesis Device, causing it to cough and sputter and rev up its last held transporter patterns.

The expected beam shot out and materialized one final amalgamation of targ, tribble and Warp-10 salamander upon the broken table. The 100-centimeter-tall, four-legged pig-like, purring furball with a wet tail trotted over to the white beast and rubbed itself upon the beast's leg, lovingly.

"WARRRHHHH," the large thing petted its new friend with fresh devotion.

Captain Samya couldn't help but smile. "Aw. I guess ten-fold peaks at adorableness. I will maintain caution, but be open to the possibility of embracing double-outlier canon breaks. As for these guys, does anyone want to take them in on their ship? Maybe give them a commission and hijack other crewmember's B-plots?" But, with a long, drawn-out awkward silence, the group then turned to Commander Seifer.

"Alright. Leadership time," the Commander elevated. "Sacrifices are general atonements, but they can also be the dawn of new paradigms," he announced. Then, unable to think of anything that would both satisfy everyone and himself, he realized, "I've got it. We all leave him here on Starbase 55 for the Admiral to take care of. Hurry! Before he gets here!"

Seemingly gratified with this management direction, everyone scrambled in a panic and began grabbing their stuff and the intact food and deserts off the floor before beaming back to their ships. When the last men had disappeared, Admiral Cloud finally entered the Conference room to find the complete mess of his set up and the two new creatures for his benefit.

"Sorry I'm late. We had several time travelling incidents, including another whale one if you can believe— WHAT THE HELL??" He picked up a nearby chip bowl in defense before realizing the beast was no longer agitated. "Oh. I shall call you, Moosaval. Come. Let's go chase various Romulans in some secret ops missions," he offered while ushering it and its friend out into the hallway. This was the going to be the start of a beeeeautiful friendship.
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The white furry beast then growled in agony at the existential crisis of just being. "AEERRHHH?!?"
Trust you to come up with the Kafka version... Love it!! Now we have a contest!!!


You need to post a link to this story in the challenge thread, posted here for your convenience:

Challenge Thread - Trouble With Critters

Oh - and be sure to specify that the entry for this challenge is the first story on Page 2 of this thread.

Thanks!! rbs
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Author's notes: This was written as part of the Trek BBS January/February 2023 Challenge and takes place in the late 24th century.

January/February 2023 Challenge: Pets. Any Star Trek series, era, canon, non-canon, ships, crews or characters welcome.

Trek BBS: January/February 2023 Challenge

"Pets: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Record"

The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X drifted, seamlessly through space, with no explanation nor justification whatsoever. Commander Night Seifer and Doctor Lox took to the corridors until they found themselves in the Cargo Bay where the interim senior staff was busy stuffing various backpacks, duffle bags and moving boxes.

"So, the inter-ship Talaxian news was, for once, actually worth listening to, huh?" Seifer sputtered in confirmation. "You're all leaving the Phoenix-X for your other postings! Perhaps the U.S.S. Titan or the U.S.S. Enterprise then?"

Kugo dropped her bags for a moment. "Commander, do you even know what letter the Titan or the Enterprise is on right now?"

"Probably A or F, or something. Honestly, we're so far ahead, all other ships are babies to me," Seifer admitted. "But I never expected to be abandoned by the progress-partners who helped maintain said amplitude in the first place!"

Armond stood up from his packing. "Well, you should have, sir. You keep calling us back to this ship for the exact same stations, in the exact same ranks, for the exact same no-recognition/no-praise! The crew of the Stargazer keeps saying our existence breaks Starfleet canon because we haven't ranked-up since the Dominion war."

"Oh, those were the days," Kayl lilted. "Jem'Hadar with constant identity issues, Bajorans teaching Cardassians how to rebel? The irony was priceless. Also, how similar-looking was Benjamin Sisko's father to 23rd century Admiral Cartwright? Anyone?"

Seifer face-palmed. "Alright, fine. Things have gotten a little stale, I admit. We all seem to be trapped in a Typhon Expanse-style time-loop while other crews on other ships have promotions every seven seasons or so." And then, "Oh, ‘seasons’ is another word for years in the command circles. Upper-level lingo. You wouldn't understand."

"That's very syndication-worthy, Commander. But what's worse is that every time this staff is up for rank advancement, an apparent crew transgression always, always prevents us from unlocking said achievement unlocks," Red added. "And I'm not even in Starfleet."

Ensign Dan took a stand, finally. "Yeah, and all my relieves-of-duty have flooded my record with red flags!"

"You're relieved!" countered Seifer. After he watched the Ensign exit, he took a breath and re-addressed the others. "Look. I hear you. But Starfleet/Klingon bureaucracy necessitates humanoid sluggards. Besides, that first transgression was our fault anyway."

Everyone hesitated in an attempt to recall.

"The Typhon Pact? We diverged into the Destiny-timeline during an umpteenth Borg incursion and emboldened them to build a horrible metallic monstrosity that was their Frontier-class Deep Space 9 (II) rebuild," reminded Commander Seifer.

Kayl shuddered in sudden memory of that high school-level team building exercise. "Oh, yeah. That should be the last time we design anything as a group. Just thinking about those X-Y-Z rings still gives me vertigo."

"Yes, but that ridiculousness remained contained to an alternate timeline," re-established Kugo. "If Spock traded universes and had high-octane adventures with slightly different and younger versions of his crew, vetted by him as if they looked anything alike, no one would ask questions."

Seifer did a double-take at that concept. "Uh, the subspace message boards would be lit and who’s to say that didn’t happen?" Also, "Besides, what about our second transgression? Oh, how I count the computer purges."

Everyone furrowed their brows in their shared failed attempts at specificity.

"When we covertly helped those two androids make first contact with the U.S.S. Ibn Majid?" Seifer queried of their mental databanks.

Armond snapped his fingers. "Right! It led to the Majd’s Captain black-flag shooting them and himself in the most contrived way possible."

"That was clearly dark for dark sakes and we were punished by proximity in an effort to stop us from adopting a dark style of episodic situations," Red added.

Seifer gestured. "Point being, it's our fault we're as stagnant as Geordi's sex life, Ash Tyler's vocal range or a bunch of rando kids abandoning childhood to operate a proto-warp drive."

"This crew has kept its youth, anyway," Doctor Lox reminded. "By the various Son'a face-stretchers, cellular regeneration entertainment chambers and basic time travel mixed with Spock's-brain-style brain-exchanges."

Armond rolled his eyes at the old crank. "And you're any different? You've been hypo-spraying your age back to McCoy-elderly every week!"

"If anything, our longevity elicits the allure of consistency to outsiders," Seifer reassured. "It's the Phoenix-X forever and ever, for all time. Always and more, with additional prepaid minutes on top of that. Second star to the right and straight on to interminability!"

Kugo's travel PADD suddenly beeped a completed hack before she checked it and interjected, "Wait. It is terminable! This says that Commander Seifer broke invariability by taking part in a remote intern program with Admiral Theseus on fleet reassignments!"

"Didn't that guy die?" Red queried. "Or at least get boot-faced off a cliff by the Klingon version of curly-haired Kirk? Kor, perhaps, before he went bug-eyed?"

Seifer deadpanned. "He, a lot of things in the vein of classic Badmirals. But all I remember doing for him was implement a ship coordination algorithm to Picard and Riker's upcoming Romulan stand-off at Planet Coppelius."

"Well, said stand-off is actually happening at this very moment, and reports say the Phoenix-X has diverted nothing but Inquiry-class after Inquiry-class starships to them, enabling a copy-paste fest of boundless repetition!" Kugo revealed, thrusting the PADD results into his hands.

The Commander looked it over in shared shock. "What?? But I based the algorithm on my clone sensibilities and that of the U.S.S. Zheng He? Ohhhh." And then, to explain, "Being a joined Trill and a clone is how I stayed young."

"Aha!" Armond j'accused. "You're the lead bungle to our collective follies."

Seifer continued reading the evidence as confirmation. "How'd any of us get through the Academy? But, you're right. I was careless and I've now proven that it's my fault we can't maintain successful perpetuity." He looked away. "I let you all down."

"Sometimes people like to keep a good thing going, even if that means running it stale and into the bottom of some kind of metaphorical breadbasket," Kugo capitulated. "Universal matter is the bread."

Kayl furrowed her brow. "We weren't exactly Red Angels ourselves, Commander. This isn't all you. Perhaps it's better we all go back to our other postings after all. The Voyager Museum is expecting a lot of us on its actionless Bridge."

Lox began opening a bunch of his crates in a concession of communal verdict. "Seeing as they are, you should know I was going to chaotically discharge these lower life forms unto the decks in celebration of the Phoenix-X's 25th anniversary. But since said-vessel has fallen into trendy distaste, I guess they're sehlat food now."

Everyone watched as he released a smorgasbord of Beagle and Pitbull puppies, American short-hair orange tabby kittens, Lycosa tarantulas and Bajoran palukoos.

"Yeah, my alt-Genesis Device/multi-creature amalgamator from the last thing fizzled out and sputtered its corrugated tube residual animal reserve the following week," Lox explained to a room full of blanks. "Look. We either read the thread of our things or we all just go with the flow."

All staff suddenly began to burst in excitement! They then started choosing and collecting their own pets: Armond, a Pit bull, Kugo, a tarantula, Red, a palukoo, Kayl, a tabby, and Seifer found himself scoping out a Beagle. "They are really cute!" Seifer admitted before addressing his capture. "I'm going to feed you so many illegal sliced cheeses."

"Screw the other postings," announced Kayl. "I'm staying here and teaching this cat how to open doors, jump on tables and change genders. Also, how to annoy Klingons."

Red growled his Klingon teeth instinctively at it before turning to his palukoo arachnid. "A lesser species would consume you. But you will become a great warrior."

"I will stay as well," Kugo admitted as her own arachnid crawled onto her shoulders. "Others may classify this as a wolf spider, but we will fight them."

Armond was kneeling and petting his new Pitbull, enthusiastically, before noticing the looks from the others. He stopped. "Well, I suppose the answer is clear. We have to stay for at least a week or so to contend with any unfair stigmas against our pet breeds. Pitbulls have grown a reputation as party dogs by the 24th century."

"So, pets, huh?" Seifer ascertained while picking up his Beagle. "That's our big third rank-stopper? Well, alright then." He then looked to everyone else. "We may be inhibited by our own operational shortcomings, but that doesn't extend to our familial corona. Translation: We make sense to us from a self-contained/tunnel-vision point of view."

Lox closed his containers. "At that, shall we all get our rabies shots, then? None of these creatures have been vaccinated, de-venomized nor un-plucked of fleas and severe disease."

"That would be agreeable, Doctor. Thank you," Commander Seifer conceded in shared interest with the others before everyone dumped-out their own duffle bags and packs of personal belongings, sat their new fur babies inside and carried them along out into the corridors to go to Sickbay.

After the coast was clear and the excess pets ran wild into the corridors to find new owners, the Commander and his new Beagle took notice of the nearby wall-screen showing the long-range results of the Romulan force disengaging from the Starfleet copy-paste fleet at Coppelius for merely being faced with unadulterated redundancy.

"Ah!" Seifer recoiled before reflexively shutting it off as fast as he could. It was clear no one associated with the U.S.S. Phoenix-X would rank up due to this agrarian blunder, but the pet thing would be easier to digest. "Let's pretend that never happened." He cuddled his new friend and left.
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The crew of the Stargazer keeps saying our existence breaks Starfleet canon..."

Which you go on to lampoon with gusto...

"That's very syndication-worthy, Commander..."

As is the lampooning...

"I'm staying here and teaching this cat how to open doors, jump on tables and change genders.

So you spotted the pregnant male cat? And Data didn't... A beagle, a pit bull and a wolf spider... Only thing you're missing is a tribble.

Thanks!! rbs
Author's notes: This was written as part of the Trek BBS March/April 2023 Challenge and takes place in the late 24th century. It's also a parody of The Hangover (2009).

March/April 2023 Challenge: Two (or three or more) characters, under the influence of some intoxicant (legal, illegal or telepathic/empathic), got it together and had a magnificent night together. But on waking, one (or more) of them is having regrets. Why? And what do they do about it?

Trek BBS: March/April 2023 Challenge

"The Morning After: The Hangover"

The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X sat endlessly within the confines of interstellar space. Captain Aeris and several other officers perched around an 'officially dating' decorated Conference room. Suddenly, Aeris got a comm-call.

"Kugo to Aeris. Listen. We messed up. The pre-official party. The whole night. Things got out of control and, uh, we lost Seifer."

In her new dating dress, Aeris stood up. "What are you talking about? We're about to be official in five hours!"

"Yeah," came the Chief Engineer's placidity. "That's not going to happen."


One day earlier, Lieutenant Commander Armond was in his quarters, in the evening, clinking glasses with his ex-wife, Lieutenant Monique.

"I'm glad we're still able to do this," Monique started. "Hopefully, it won't lead to anything we'll regret the morning after. Am I right? Classic sexually-repressed hijinks to serious emotional recuperations!"

At that, Armond suddenly turned away in shock. "Regrets? Oh, that's right. Seifer is becoming official tomorrow! Sorry. I've got this other thing that isn't forced and weird," he said, getting up to leave.


Later, Armond, Kugo, Red and Seifer found themselves in the Nacelle control room, in dress uniform, for Seifer's pre-official party, with Red pouring each a blood wine. He then pulled out a PADD to recite prepared remarks.

"Hello. How about that ride in? Now, I tend to think of myself as a one-Klingon targ pack. But when my targ hunting partner Aeris brought Seifer to the Helmsmen's Control Conference, I knew my targ pack finally grew by one. And, with you staff-mates, after all these years, it has now grown exponentially. So, tonight, I make a toast!"

Red then took out his d'k tahg and cut his palm to bleed, prompting everyone to freak out simultaneously. "Dude! What the hell?" Kugo erupted. "Red, no Klingon traditions! We're just going to toast to a night the four of us will never forget."

"Yeah! Okay! Let's go!" came the sudden sounds of "Yeah" by Usher featuring Lil' Jon as they cheered and clinked glasses before the night came into a raunchy but smart, well-evented series of hilarious mishaps.


The next morning, Armond, Red and Kugo began waking, one by one, in the guest-Captain's now near-destroyed lavish villa command quarters and to "Fever" by The Cramps.

Drearily using the ensuite, Red suddenly came to notice a furry, cute little calico feline sitting on the sink counter with large, adorable eyes. "Aahh!! There is a jungle cat in the bathroom!" he declared running out.

"Goddam, will you put on some pants? We get it, Klingons have more than one!" Kugo shielded with her eyes before getting up and checking out the ensuite. Returning, she confirmed, "Oh! That's Data's cat, Spot!?"

Red blinked while complying. "What? How do we have Data's cat? He owned it on the Enterprise over 20 years ago. Shouldn't it be dead by now?"

"Shit! My lateral incisors are gone," Armond examined his missing tooth in a small nearby mirror. "Monique hates missing teeth."

Kugo calmed, "All right, cool it, everyone. Everything's fine. Red, go wake up the Commander. Let's get some raktagino and get the hell out of these guest quarters before Admiral Cloud's shakedown visit."

"Hey, guys. Seifer's not in there," Red reported after returning from checking the other room. "And, his commbadge is here."

The two officers watched him hold it up when, suddenly, the sounds of a baby crying came from the nearby closet. The three opened it. "Who's baby is that? Never mind. Let's go find Seifer and deal with that thing later."

"Kugo, we're not going to leave a baby in the room. Data's cat is in the bathroom!" Armond warned as he picked up the baby and strapped it to his chest, only to notice a medical bracelet on Kugo's arm. "Hey! You were in Sickbay last night, despite our pact to never seek medical attention ever again?"

The Vulcan took notice as well. "Huh? I forgot that the Doctor started tagging his patients for tracking and humiliation purposes. We might need to break that pact."


Later, the group of three found themselves in Sickbay where the cranky old Doctor Lox was giving a check-up on a man named Frell who appeared to be a multi-sub-species Xindi mash-up: Avian, Reptillian, Primate, the whole shebang.

"Look, I already told you. You came in here with a mild concussion. Some bruised ribs. No big deal," he offered while tapping Frell's knee.

Armond tilted his head. "Okay, but is that guy legal?"

"This interview is over!" Lox erupted while getting up and shoving them a PADD. "And take your blood test results with you. It says you were all polywatered. But don't worry. Your annual Nimbus III dry air inhalations kicked in several hours later."

Taking a second look, Armond noticed something else on the PADD. "Wait. This is my personal data folder and there's a video of me making out with Lieutenant Jeera on here! I'm a floozy??"

"Obviously, people, in general, are more interesting in altered-states," Kugo explained. "But this also means she may know what happened to Commander Seifer. Come. The mystery's afoot!"


The three entered the Security office to find Lieutenant Jeera working at a side-console. Taking notice, Jeera dropped everything in happiness at seeing the baby strapped to Armond.

"Well, hello there, Tiger, and thank the Prophets you have little Leina!" Jeera said taking the baby. "The baby's father is a Takaran, so she could walk around with a hole in her chest. But the similarities to wormholes then, am I right?"

Armond squinted. "So, we're a thing?"

"Of course, you silly! I stepped away to get you all a raktajino this morning, but when I got back, everyone was gone," Jeera explained. "Commander Seifer wasn't there, but I bet he's recovering in a Jeffrey's tube or something."

Suddenly, an Orion, Lieutenant Elly stepped in, from behind a wall partition. "Hold it right there, friends. You're all in trouble for stealing that shuttle last night and flying loopty loops around the Phoenix-X. You may outrank me, but you don't outrank contrived flight paths."

"And how would it look on your record if it came out a bunch of Senior staff hooligans procured a Starfleet shuttle on your watch?" Kugo countered.

Elly sighed. "Fine. But I want you guys back here tomorrow for Klingon painstick testing with a class full of children. It'll be this whole physical comedy thing. Audiences will love it!"


Later, the three found themselves investigating the Class-2 Type-9 shuttlecraft Dracon in the Shuttlebay. Kugo sat at the helm looking around while Red and Armond searched in the background.

"I got a cigar," Red returned, hopeless. "Some large black boots and a snakeskin?"

Kugo squinted and said, "Are those Klingon boots?" before some large banging from the storage bin near them erupted in a naked Targon, one of the ship's ex-Klingon exchange officers, breaking out in a frenzy.

"YAARRGGH!" he exclaimed, mid-burst, pushing passed Red and Armond, out the exit of the shuttle, back into the Shuttlebay and out that exit.

Red turned to his compadres, downtrodden. "Due to that blatant and unexpected Klingon display of vulnerability, I must confess, the polywater intoxication was my fault. As mutually agreed upon, I was to slip us all a temporary augment virus for a short-term, ridge-suppressing laugh, but I must have picked the wrong drip-vial from Lox's randomly cluttered, unlabeled-vial storage bin."

"Hey, we all drug our friends sooner or later. Maybe we need to accept that," Armond shrugged before noticing an approaching Doctor Katherine Pulaski, cradling a purring Spot.

As she stepped for the shuttle to address them, the group did a double take in pure, relentless shock while Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" played her and the cat's entrance. "I can feel it coming in the air tonight. Ohhh, Lord."

"You're both still alive??" exclaimed Kugo as she turned off the Stafleet mandated entrance music for legacy officers. "I'm a huge fan, by the way. When you knocked out holographic Sherlock Holmes, that was..."

Pulaksi deadpanned. "I've been coming to see Lox about prolonging Spot's life and switching genders as needed for years as retribution for all those times I was mean to Data. But then here you are, stealing Data's cat last night."

"Ma'am, we have no memory of what happened, and we tend to do dumb shit when we're messed up," Kugo related.

The Doctor sighed before turning to leave. "Well, DNA residue also implicates your friend Seifer and rumour has it he stole a barrel of bloodwine from the Klingons as well. Since they're likely on their way here with reinforcements, I'd like to start heading back to the nearest Olympic-class ship, stat."

"Yes, Your Excellency," Kugo bowed as the three exited and Pulaski, with Spot, took the Dracon out through the force field and off into space while Targon re-entered the Shuttlebay, now clothed, with two more Klingons, Kortos and Amos.

He pointed. "Apologies for my maddening naked time outrage, earlier, but after Red's poker hot streak, last night, you guys stole our bloodwine even though we had won it, tail-end, fair and square."

"There were 8000 ounces inside," Amos elaborated.

Kugo, Armond and Red glanced at each other before Kugo replied, "The lower deckers are scheduled for their poker tournament right now. We will play them and get you a new over-sized bloodwine."

"Very well. Just watch out for their grubby little paws," Kortos warned and shuddered at the same time. "Those little minions freak me out!"


Entering the living area of Ensign Dan's quarters, Kugo, Red and Armond found it to be bustling with several Ensigns mucking about. A few Ensigns sat at the poker table in the center.

"What is the meaning of this!?" As soon as Ensign Dan stepped out from his bedroom at the new visitors, all the other Ensigns fell silent.

Armond whispered to Kugo and Red, "I think Ensign Dan is their god here?"

"So, you've come to join our poker tournament, have you? A higher-up officer at a junior-level game?" He paused. "I'll be recognized as a legend in the other rank circles! You're in!"

Red snapped before taking a seat at the table. "That is too much giddiness, Ensign. You're relieved!"

After Ensign Dan left, the game began and the Klingon delved back into his professional gaming mindset, per the blurred night previous. When several hours of time-lapsed erupting Ensigns arguing and fainting, and Kugo, Armond and a joining Jeera shouting passed, the wild-haired man became victorious in cleaning his opponents out of their chips and acquiring the grand bloodwine barrel prize.

"Tell me, is it true the U.S.S. Cerritos is now chock full of your kind? Like, they don't even have a Captain anymore?" Red queried of the fleet-wide rumours.

But before the Ensigns could answer, Targon, Amos and Kortos broke in through the doors, without even waiting for them to auto-open. "According to Ensigns Social, the shared, overly-politicized media site between all lower deckers to secretly bash their higher-ups, Lieutenant Commander Red has eviscerated the subordinate trolls with great honour."

"Take your stink'n bloodwine already," Armond iterated of the nearby, abnormally large wooden cylindrical container while Kugo was busy reporting their failure to Aeris over comms. After a sudden realization, Armond slapped Kugo's commbadge off, effectively cutting communications. "Hold on! The Klingons just alluded to the mythical but also real creatures found under the bridges of Ferenginar called trolls. Seifer's on the Bridge!"

Kortos did a double-take at that stretch of logic before noticing a mute Ensign Ligus' scrawny arms reaching for him for general, overall life help. "Aahh!! Get away!!"


Reaching the Bridge in a hasty high-octane, Kelvin-timeline-like adrenaline rush, Kugo, Armond and Red found it near-empty.

"We must've pranked Seifer with the classic Commander's Omega Directive alert, which is basically to confirm Psi molecules, the less-exciting, waste-of-time, boring molecules that are a step down from Omega," Kugo surmised.

Armond nodded. "That explains the Omega-branded curtains over all the windows. He loves using those as a repurpose, but really to pretend it's an actual Omega emergency."

"But he's not here. If only there was a way to track non-commbadged individuals aboard a ship of the stars," Red struggled.

The Vulcan snapped her fingers. "Of course! Computer, I want you to do a skeletal scan for the mineral composition of Seifer's bones, and Seifer's bones only. Authorized to take CPU resources from life support and defense systems to expedite results."

"It's a good thing everyone's unique configuration is on file everywhere," Armond added. "And, that we're not in Romulan space. Only right next to it."

The computer clicked for several seconds. "Calculating! Commander Seifer is located on the Bridge, behind the Tactical chair."

"He's over here!" Armond exclaimed as he and the group then shifted their heads slightly to an angle that viewed passed the chair where Seifer was on the floor, back to the console platform, in a dazed, near-incoherent, bewildered state. "You're okay! Hahaha! Oh, we have been looking everywhere for you."

As Seifer was helped to his feet, he began to regain some semblance of focus. "What the hell is going on? I'm getting official today?"

"That's why you need to focus and do everything we say, Commander. Because, frankly, you're wasting a little bit of time right now," Kugo matter-of-facted.

Seifer looked at her, perplexed, before recalling their prize. "Oh! At least the event wasn't a total disaster. When I woke up on the Bridge, I happened to find 8000 ounces worth of bloodwine."

"Oh my God! Wooo!" exclaimed the other three as Seifer kicked open a large compartment that rolled out their illicit prize of an over-sized barrel of Klingon alcohol.


Later, in the repurposed Conference room, everyone stood ceremoniously in a section off to the side while Seifer and Aeris stood at the front with Admiral Cloud officiating. While that was going on, Armond turned to Monique.

"Listen. About last night. We ended our overall relationship so well, I think a rehash would besmirch it," suggested Armond.

Monique nodded. "It's time I stopped aging myself down for the status quo, anyway. It's freaking my mother out."

"Uggh, the night we had." Meanwhile, Seifer and Aeris spoke between themselves as Cloud was giving a heartwarming speech to all.

Aeris smirked. "This is weird. Why, after all these centuries, did people allow 'going steady' to become so liturgically ritualistic?"

"Yeah, this is just like how horizontal video capture ruined TikTok Day," Seifer recalled. "How about we just do things without announcing them from now on? Also, I'm pretty sure my symbiont flipped upside-down from last night's festivities."

The Captain nodded. "Agreed." The two of them then left the Conference room, relinquishing everyone's predisposed formality.

"Who wants to get 'official' this time, yeah? Wooo!" proposed Kugo to all as she kicked the large wall compartment behind them to roll out the over-sized barrel of Klingon bloodwine.
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Author's notes: This was my first entry into the Ad Astra weekly challenges. Qu last alternate-time-jumped Deloss back in ULC 30. It was written in July 2023.

Weekly Challenge 11: One Reality Over: For this challenge, you get to take a look at a 'turn right' AU. Or left. Or backwards. Pick a canon moment or a moment in the lives of a character, one of your OCs or even just in the universe and explore, in 100 to 700 words, what might have happened if it played out differently. If a different person stepped in front of the disruptor fire. Or if someone had a nightmare and backed out of that assignment. The sky's the limit; interpret however liberally or strictly as you like!​

Ad Astra: Weekly Challenge #11
"One Reality Over: Hop, Skip and a Jump"

The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X sat deliberately within the confines of interstellar space. On purpose! Its commanding officer stared blatantly into the viewscreen that displayed the unending star-filled void.

"Space. The final frontier," Commander Night Seifer revved whilst holding a steaming cup of brewed leola root. "These are the voyages of the Starship Phoenix-X. Its continuing mission to rehash old canon—" But the trademark Q-flash interrupted that painful notion out of pure, unrelenting repulse. "Q!" Seifer barked.

The omnipotent being, younger, less experienced, had imp-like perched himself upon the top of the front helm deck. "Actually, it's Qu! It sounds the same but is spelled differently. Different guy."

"Oooh, temporal shenanigans!" Seifer perked. "I knew multi-spectrum subspace eddies were the Irish rainbows of the galaxy. The lack of Ferengi potted latinum had me for a second."

Qu deadpanned him. "We only do the intergalactic leprechaun thing in March. I'm here because I'm seeking Starfleet crews willing to be put on trial for stuff. Need to up my Q-status, you know. Plenty of morality speech opportunities for you?"

"Actually, my speech writer is on lunch," Seifer dismissed. "Conversely, my wish is to be sent into an alternate timeline where I never transferred to the Phoenix-X, so I can learn the true value of Commander-ing."

Hopping to the floor, Qu gritted, "That is terribly contrived! Besides, I already did that with this one Gorn named Deloss, ten years in the future. The twist was that I became Captain. But then he shouted at me. Rude."

"Not only will I not shout at you, but I will support the delegating of my crew to participate in your imitation trial of humanity," Seifer bargained. "Because that's what commanding officers do."

Qu snapped in shared excitement. "SOLD!"


Out, in the incomprehensibly alternate, parallel multiverse, the Pathfinder-class U.S.S. Ragnarok trailed, aimlessly on through its immeasurable likenesses.

"Space. The final frontier," Captain Qu revved while holding a cup of steaming celestial star fluid. "These are the voyages of the Starship Ragnarok. But is voyaging really what humanity is all about or is there something more sinister going on?"

Several courtroom chairs were set up around the Bridge, with crew and jury on opposite sides.

"For the next several months, I will present arguments to the latter and convince even you that you are the problem," Qu added with utmost posture as Seifer was entering the Bridge.

Looking down at his pips, Seifer acknowledged he was back to Ensign. "Turns out I broke the Prime Directive with the Veridians, Kolarans and, finally, back in time with humans, like, almost weekly."

"Wait. Are you Seifer?" Qu held up a mirror to the unwitting officer.

Seifer grabbed his face. "Ah! I look nothing like me??" He then peered around the room at the crew. Kugo, Armond, Kayl and Lox all looked completely different. "It's like we're being played by current-day actors because the originals were too old!"

"Are you okay, brother?" a near-unrecognizable, Dominic Keating-looking Ensign Dan asked.

Qu recoiled, "Ahh! That's the worst one! You're relieved!" before snapping his fingers over and over, switching both he and Seifer from one alternate universe to the next. The crew's facial features, height and build switched with every ridiculous flash.

"But I thought we'd look the same, per Worf's infamous Deanna Troi-fantasy paralleling??" Seifer asked as he witnessed a new rank and ship each time.


Giving up, Qu returned he and Seifer back to the U.S.S. Phoenix-X. "There are realities close and far to us and the variation is on that spectrum. I've just grown too distracted by my obsession with trials to navigate them?!" He shook his head. "The Continuum's going to put me on trial for this." He then snapped himself away.

"Wow. Now I appreciate Commander-ing more than ever due to it not being space-time shenanigan-based," Seifer said as he took his chair and confirmed he and his crew were back to normal. "Perhaps next time, I won't tempt fate. Helm! Set course to this universe's Kolaran Dune Buggy Manhunt."

The Phoenix-X jumped to warp.
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Author's notes: This was written as part of the Trek BBS July/August 2023 Challenge and takes place in the early 25th century.

July/August 2023 Challenge: Contest. Any Star Trek series, era, canon, non-canon, ships, crews or characters welcome.
Trek BBS: July/August 2023 Challenge
"Contest: Contest"

The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X contested itself out in the boundless confines of the galactic unit. Commander Seifer gathered his senior staff onto the Bridge after having fitted it with a holo-emitter.

"Thank you all for joining me here, today, despite it being your shift hours and that time of the month all our reports are due," he began to the group at their stations.

Armond raised his hand. "I just want to clarify, these standard emitters were previously removed after the Moriarty Wars. The holographic Brits promised vengeance if we ever put them back."

"It's alright. We acquired one of those regulation Barclay holograms, that every ship has, to be on standby just in case," Seifer dismissed.

Everyone looked to see the holographic Reginald Barclay, standing in the corner. "Is— Is this Voyager? I'm really into Voyager."

"We mothballed that Kobali-violating ship, and not a moment too soon, considering how annoyingly Delta Quadrant-y it became," Lieutenant Briggs added.

Seifer sighed. "The point is: We do things. And one of those things is come up with contests to keep us sharp. In order to facilitate creative and innovative ideas, I'd like to get one from this Control-inspired AI— or, as they used to call it, Artificial Intelligence."

"We still call it that," Armond raised.

The Commander turned to face the nothingness of mid-air. "Computer! Now that I've subscribed to the app for a small monthly fee and input my prompts, you may begin rendering."

"Processing!" the computer shouted, urgently, before several copies of the Bridge crew appeared in an epic novelistic visual style.

Novelistic Seifer took in his surroundings and acknowledged the original crew. "Alright, guys. My dramatic motivation is driving me to who can come up with the best contest. Therefore, I implore the AI to render a version of us in Anime style to devise such a challenge."

"Actioning!" the computer roared in excitement, before enabling copies of the Novelistic crew to appear as Anime versions of that.

Anime Ensign Dan took out a mirror. "Ahh! My eyes are huge."

"Big enough to realize you're relieved and our contest idea will win this contest?" bargained Anime Seifer. "Pure, hot enthusiasm drives us to immediate doings. So, AI, make Steampunk versions of us to work this out! STAT!"

The computer elated, "Making!" Then, the Steampunk crew, based on the Anime and Novelistic crew, appeared, way off model, cluttering the Bridge to a near-maximum capacity.

"Our gears fit satisfyingly into other gears, which enables our realization that the contest idea should be who can come up with the best contest," Steampunk Seifer pointed out with a clicky finger. "I submit to you, conjuring contests as the idea for a contest!"

Suddenly, Armond took out his phaser and vapourized the ceiling holoemitter, causing Barclay and all duplicate versions of everyone to disintegrate out of existence.

"Yeah, you did the right thing," Original Seifer admitted. "I should have known better than to use imitation AI based on a pre-Kirk-era hyper-aggressive Section 31 app."

Armond nodded. "They had the worst writers— I mean, app developers. The lesson being, not to give up on our own brains as catalysts to shoot at things or come up with stuff."

"Agreed," Seifer lamented. "Oh! Let's get Ktarian game headsets and challenge the whole crew to a contest of psychotropic addiction. The escaping part being the contest."

To that, the Phoenix-X enthusiastically rotated in space and jumped to warp.
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Totally meta - the contest itself is contest, so you created a contest to compete in the contest in which contestants vie to generate the most interesting contest.

Of course the price your characters will inevitably pay is an inability to tell where the contest ends and where the contest within the contest begins...

Thanks! rbs