Author's notes: This was written in May 2015, as part of the Star Trek Online Forums Unofficial Literary Challenge #11, and mashes up three of my latest alt Captains, Menrow, Iviok and Reynolds. Unofficial Literary Challenge #11: Prompt #3: The unthinkable has happened. Word has reached your captain that a fellow commander in Starfleet/the KDF/the Republic Navy has gone rogue and committed a horrible crime. Perhaps this captain has subjugated an underdeveloped planet and set him/herself up as a god. Perhaps this captain has committed an atrocity against unarmed civilians, or lashed out and destroyed the ships of a former enemy. Regardless, your captain has been ordered to go after this rogue and bring him/her to justice...or failing that, to terminate this renegade's command with extreme prejudice. Write about your captain's hunt for the renegade and what he/she finds. Unofficial Literary Challenge #11 Better Angels of Our Nature, Part II Moments later, the two emerged out a similar looking portal on the sunny side of a planet, somewhere in the Delta Quadrant. "Seriously," Reynolds continued. "We may have to infiltrate his operation and I might have to get close to the enemy— for the good of the mission." Iviok looked at her. "I guess? Also, it's nice that the wormhole transferred atmosphere and that we didn't just walk out into cold space, for, you see, Captain Menrow is going to have to pay for what he's done. Killing others is inexcusable." "What about all the thousands of ships and crews we destroy, daily, on system patrols and seasonal story missions?" The Andorian nodded. "I figured you were going to mention those, and I've prepared a thoroughly thought-out, perfectly articulate, message board-esque answer which more than justifies those actions, and, in fact, calls for even more murderings. And that answer is— BY THE RIP-TORN SHIRTS OF KIRK??? Look at that!" He pointed, interrupting himself, at a giant industrial building, feeding smoke into the atmosphere, sitting at the head of a stone-built, ancient-looking city center. Entering the city and busy town square, the two were approached by a raggedly dressed, colorful-robed man. "Hello, Great Advocates. What an honor it is to run in to you. My name is Mard and I'd like to submit a Takar business opportunity passage, if that would be okay with you?" The man put his hands together, with glee, and prepared to recite his rhythmic legal epic: "As you may know, our sorrows grow; We share them high, we share them low. But what say you, is how we deal? Why, a drinker's bar: to help us heal! "An establishment of class, and one of glee; For upper state commoners, like you, like me. Stories shared, stories bared, stories might, be all night; Like when I slept with my cousin, and it felt, just all right. "Money made, money earned, money gained, you'll see; We'll start a thing called tipping; 30%; all three! For shares are our goals; a cut of the pricing; Together we'll gouge and have all the icing!" Reynolds looked to the side, in sudden distraction. Her senses all ready; all ready for action. "A planet with a town, a village called Takar? This scenario, the chances, they aren't really that far." "Wait. What? Are you rhyming? Please don't set a precedent. Please?" Iviok begged. The Betazoid shook her head out of it. "Sorry. I mean: this is the Takarian home world. They were a Bronze Age civilization, last encountered in 2373, by that ship-that-shall-not-be-mentioned, operating under rhythmic, religious overtones." "Oh. Actually, this seems like a great opportunity to comment on religion as a base structure for developing societies, and ask questions like, is it necessary? Would a non-religious-based society even get off the ground?" Iviok queried, just seconds before Reynolds slapped him across the face. The Betazoid snapped. "There's no time for that! It's clear, by the Starfleet guards throughout the entire town, that Menrow has enslaved this civilization in the name of these Great Advocates." "Owe," Iviok rubbed his cheek. "You do know blue skin is sensitive to warm hands?" But it was too late. Both Iviok and Reynolds found themselves surrounded by Starfleet crewmembers from the Crucial, aiming phasers at the two trespassers. Mard was sadly escorted away. "You pit-i-ful Humaans! You think you can just waltz on in and disrupt an operation that was ours to begin with?" Menrow said, walking down a large stone entrance-staircase for the industrial plant. Iviok looked at him. "Clearly, neither of us are Human. And, just because you are accustomed to 'conquesting' females, does not mean you should amplify that to entire cultures. Yes, it's a natural progression, but we have to fight those obvious urges." "Just the culture ones, though," Reynolds clarified. "The other ones are okay. Menrow? Shall you and I meet in private to 'discuss' things?" Menrow shook his head. "This is more than taking over the Takarians. This is taking over the Takarians for profit! If you add Rule of Acquisition #10, greed is eternal, to Rule of Acquisition #52, never ask when you can take— You get Rule of Acquisition #62, the riskier the road, the greater the profit." "Wait. Rules of stuff? You're not Menrow and his crew?? You're all Ferengi?? That, or Androids," Reynolds accused and stated all at once. Menrow approached them. "The name's DiaMon Cide. My crew and I found ourselves in the most gracious of luck, one day, when our minds were somehow switched with Menrow's crew. We were no longer on my D'Kora-class ship, the Jade Fox, but, rather, some Intrepid-class U.S.S. Crucial. Searching its database for opportunity, we discovered the Vandor IV labs." "Oh, good. You're explaining everything too. Really appreciate that, by the way," Iviok nodded to him, honestly. Reynolds' eyes widened at Menrow/Cide's revelations. "Then you must have a deal with the Orions where they maintain the Barzan wormhole from Manheim's lab??" "Exactly! The resources we strip from this world will go to Ferengi and Orion operations all throughout the Alpha Quadrant, thanks to the Syndicate. You see, I purchased the rights to this planet from Arridor and Kol, the first Sages in Takarian prophecy. As we did more opportunity data mining— the spoken kind, in this case— More epics of their history became clear to us: Specifically, the Song of the Advocates, who were prophesied to establish a Takarian economy!" Reynolds cursed at his selfish, society-improving treachery. "You bastard!" "Seriously, we just invented electricity for them, like, two days ago." Iviok turned to his partner. "Why'd we go from an Enterprise-D thing to a Voyager thing? That seems backwards to me." "By the southern twang of mind-altered Leonard McCoy! We have to stop this rehash of a shoddy series of events before we become just as cheap and sub-par, ourselves," Reynolds realized. Menrow laughed. "Good luck! There is, in fact, a counter prophecy, but we've installed thought maker devices all over town to prevent telepaths from reading our now-vulnerable minds!" He then realized: "An odd and random precaution, I admit. Even odder that I would concede to the counter prophecy." "Of course!" Iviok realized, taking out his tricorder. "Ferengi thought makers are mere imitations from some race we haven't met yet, or Iconians, and, as copies, are therefore cheap and faulty. They're even preventing Menrow's crew from shooting us." Trying to fire his weapon, Menrow/Cide was hit with a clinch of physical constipation. Iviok quickly hacked into the devices and allowed Reynolds the will to read Menrow's mind. "Amazing! I never thought I could read a Ferengi mind. Profit and greed are a way of life for you, isn't it?" Reynolds perceived in a very EMH Mark I way. Iviok turned to her. "What? We already knew that." "Oh," she snapped out of it. "I mean, there is hear-tell of a future group of Holy ones called the Holy Dissidents. Songs, ever so lengthy, go on about their role to slow economical growth before it destroys all of Takarian kind." As her words rang true, Takarian men and women from the square began to pick up on it. "We could be these Holy Dissidents, here to temper progress, and stop possible threats like carbon emissions from expediting global warming effects! And we could stop the Internet from becoming over-saturated with horrible comments sections!" Reynolds called out so that all could hear. Menrow furrowed his brow. "Again. We literally just invented indoor plumbing yesterday." "Holy Dissidents! Stop our progress!" But it was too late. The accumulated crowd had finally found the courage and strength of the next part of the one of their many, many prophecies. "Holy Dissidents! Stop our progress!" Captain Menrow/Cide dropped his weapon out of realized defeat. "Damn it. Once you get them going, you literally can't stop them. And this was supposed to be my salvation after losing my job at Slug-o-Cola!" Iviok celebrated. "Hah! We stopped those shoddy series of events— kind of. Either that, or we played in to them." "Captain Iviok, I misjudged you as some kind of Starfleet-abandoning-invalid. But the truth is, your piece of junk starship has made you an innovative, courageous engineer," Reynolds confessed. The Andorian sighed in relief. "And your mind reading over-confidence was instrumental in mental data mining, which, I'm sure, a less confident telepath would have messed up from emotional panic." "Yeah. Definitely," Reynolds agreed. "But what about the crew of the U.S.S. Crucial? Where'd their minds go??" Suddenly, another man faded in, next to them, in a striping band-like effect. "I'll field that field-worthy question," he said. "You see, my name is Wayfar, and I'm a Traveler. My powers include altering space and time, and I have a history with mind switching Captain Menrow and his crew. I once sent them to the 28th century, don't cha know." "Ahh! He's grey like a giant bug!" Iviok over-reacted. "I mean— go on." Wayfar continued. "My job was to transport the real Sages and Advocate aliens of the Takarian home world into corporeal form, but, due to the fact I'm horrible at my job, I accidentally sent the non-corporeal Sages into a crew of corporeal Ferengi. And, due to my past mind-transfers with Menrow, I mix-displaced that Ferengi crew into the occupants of the U.S.S. Crucial." "So, what happened to the crew of the Crucial? Are they non-corporeal now??" Reynolds asked. The Traveler was caught off guard. "What? Oh, sorry. My mind wanders. The answer to your question is yes." He then rolled up his sleeves. "But I can fix things now, for I was otherwise preoccupied with Traveler paper work. You have no idea the forms we're expected to fill. Like, actual paper and pen forms." At that, he concentrated, hard, and caused himself and the Starfleet officers from the Crucial, all over the city, to fade in and out in sliding bands. Moments later, the crew of the Crucial was returned to their bodies. "What... what happened? We were floating energies??" Menrow reacted in pure shock. He then double-checked his body parts, top and below. "Oh, thank the Vice Admirals, everything is back!" Reynolds' eyebrows went up. "My fault, Captain." Wayfar turned to Menrow. "I shouldn't have tried to switch minds during that Intrepid-class celebration in your Messhall. I didn't think you'd serve real green drink??" Menrow nodded. "Yeah, that's the non-syntheholic stuff. Since we're expected to have as many pointless parties as Voyager had, we go for the hard stuff. Also, since I was in a non-corporeal form, I already knew what you did. But that doesn't make me any less disappointed in you-- As is the nature of our working relationship with each other." "So the Sages are real, huh? Are they okay? Their plans never went through?" Iviok commented. Wayfar held up his hands. "Whoa! To redo any of that will take days and days of Traveler administration. So, I'll try again next week." "On the plus side, we've finally tamed the Barzan wormhole," Reynolds observed. "The downside being the Orion Syndicate owns it and will use it to go all over the place." Iviok nodded. "At least we saved this world from Ferengi conquest, despite that being something that happens to them a lot. Not to mention, Cide seems to have gotten away with mass murder." "Forget all those trivialities! All that matters is that we're okay now, thanks to you two," Menrow offered in the direction of Iviok and Reynolds. "The lesson, here, being, there's nothing Starfleet Captain's can't accomplish when working as a team." It was at that moment the group noticed that the townspeople had been building wooden logs all around them the whole time. In the next moment, it was lit on fire. "Holy Dissidents! Stop our progress! Stop our progress!" Reynolds looked around. "What the hell? Sending us to the sky on 'wings of fire' isn't even part of this specific prophecy??" "No, that's... That's just a thing they do," Wayfar reassured. "Well, it seems your ship's transporters are being blocked, so, good luck with everything." And he disappeared in the same Enterprise-D era banding energies he rode in on, leaving the three Captains to their demise.