STO Phoenix Compendium

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

This chick has GOT to meet Starlord's dad...

Thanks!! rbs
Author's notes: This was written in February 2016, as part of the Star Trek Online Forums Unofficial Literary Challenge #20. This entry didn't follow the prompt exactly, instead reinterpreting it and mashing up all Captains I had used for the ULCs so far as a 'big finale' to them.​

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Everyone quickly turned down their volume controls.

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

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


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

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

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Author's notes: This was written in March 2016, as part of the Star Trek Online Forums Unofficial Literary Challenge #20.
Unofficial Literary Challenge #20
Nibiru, Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What kind of activity?" asked McCary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Captain's Log, Stardate 87446.9. As Acting Commanding officer of Task Force Epsilon, I, Captain Menrow, have taken command of the abandoned U.S.S. Phoenix-X. It turns out Captain Seifer littered his entire Ready Room with leola root tart wrappers. How can one man eat that much junk food? Anyway, we've engaged warp in safe mode and are following the last known coordinates of the Breen Chel Grett warship Darkseid. As odd as it is attempting to acclimatize myself to this new role over my peers, I am fairly certain we will not succeed as a team. In fact, it's more likely we'll buckle under our own incompatibilities. The only question is how soon?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sorry, Epsilon. You did good, but not Third Fleet-good. —Fire."

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

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

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Author's notes: While I was still working on "Nibiru, Part III", I simultaneously started a role playing thread on the Star Trek Online forums called Adventures of Earth Spacedock! It quickly morphed into universe-breaking ridiculousness, but my establishing shot of Captain Aeris still works. Aeris was last seen in LC 69: Winter Wonderland Celebrations (I), the last official Literary Challenge. I initially planned to keep using her for those, but they ended it there, so she was, in a sense, floating around doing nothing. The RPs gave me a chance to fill in what some of my characters were doing between entries. Following that is a silly bit from a second character I RP'd with, Captain Terry, as part of a short role play exchange with two other players. He last appeared in ULC 18: Winter Wonderland Celebrations (II). These were written in April 2016.
Adventures of Earth Spacedock! Page 1
Captain Aeris - Transporter Room

Aeris beamed onto the giant transporter pad and was met with Commander Barnes, an enthusiastic older Benzite.

"You wanted to see me?" the human asked. "You guys finally have a mission for me?"

Barnes held up a small, alien statue. "No, I just wanted to share this amazing find Captain Terry discovered on his adventures into deep space and beyond! It's an ancient Verathan depiction of one of their sub-ossemites. It's eating a baby ossemite."

"Dude, I've been sitting on my ship doing nothing for weeks! There's Na'Khul everywhere, my Sovereign-class starship has way too many decks and the LC's are dead— oh, the Lethean Cetaceans, to clarify."

The Benzite was taken aback in a stutter. "I just— thought you liked old alien things that haven't been scanned for bacteria yet—?"

"I like the ones I find! Terry is like a twitchy Android on anti-matter waste. Who cares what he discovers? I'm going to Club 47 for a drink." Aeris threw out her arms in defeat and took the short-cut corridor out.


Captain Terry - Food Court

Snapping out of petting his tribble, Terry turned to two fellow Captains who had been comparing ship battle stories.

"Well, I've got you both beat. A navigation glitch knocked my ship into a new Fek'lhri invaded space, where I fought for weeks, battling in both space and invading hordlings aboard my ship. A ravager asked me to marry her, and in pure delusion-drenched battle I agreed. We now have two kids, and they refuse to visit on weekends! How hard is it to visit? At least I have these tribbles."

He notices Nat and Krystal's blank stares.

"Oh, I'm Captain Terry of the Vesta-class U.S.S. Kitana! She's a good ship. Not sure how it works though."
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Should have been a snapping tribble... As always, some offbeat characters that are halfway between regular trek and Lower Decks. Too bad about the LCs - I've always thought they were way underutilized.

Thanks!! rbs
Should have been a snapping tribble... As always, some offbeat characters that are halfway between regular trek and Lower Decks. Too bad about the LCs - I've always thought they were way underutilized.
Haha, I should have. Thanks! Yeah, they did add a layer of fun to the game when they were doing them.
Author's notes: After the last role playing thread went bananas, we did a do-over called Earth Spacedock. These are more of some of my character posts, written in April 2016.​

Earth Spacedock, Page 1
Captain Aeris - Club 47, Synthbar

A human woman sits at the bar, sipping Romulan Ale. She stares deep into nothingness until an approaching Trill civilian knocks her concentration off.

"Excuse me, I've got directions to your heart, could you double check that they're correct?" the Trill asks.

Aeris barely even looks at him. "Take a walk."

"Okay, so that one was bad," the Trill says as he leaves her.

While her peers like Captain Seifer and Admiral Cid were out exploring the galaxy on various extra missions, her ship, the Soveriegn-class U.S.S. Zephyra was stuck at Spacedock, assisting in starbase repairs. It didn't even make sense to have a ship of such caliber stuck at home, but at least the ale was working.

"Another round?" the El-Aurian bartender, Nelan asks, already knowing the answer.

Aeris nods. "The last. It's not going to be me that gets you in trouble for serving non-synth drinks."

"Heh. Fine. But I can handle myself. Don't let the hat fool you," he replies nodding up slightly to indicate the large purple headwear.

Aeris stops herself from one more sip, in shock, just noticing the hat for the first time.


Captain Aeris - Food Court

The next day, Aeris struggled with a headache and a PADD as she entered through the doors of the Food Court. One sleep was definitely not enough to overcome the hangover of Romulan Ale. She approached the communal replicators and requested another drink-- one with less regret.

"Raktajino, please. Extra strong," she said.

She was hoping to quickly forget the inappropriate smirks she received from that Ferengi near the Exchange and that very loud Fleet Admiral on her way here.

Aeris surveyed the area and saw it was moderately busy as usual. A patient Starfleet Captain with red hair, of Trill descent, caught her eye, as well as what she supposed was a half-Vulcan, also in Starfleet uniform; neither out of the ordinary.

"Captain! You wanted to speak to me?" said Commander Barnes, a Benzite male and officer at Spacedock. "Now, before you get started, you should know I have no say over what your mission roster is. Never have; never will-- Unless I get promoted."

She led them to a table where they both sat. "Yeah, I know. You're pretty much useless. Anyway, I wanted to talk about the Kitana's study of artifacts from the Verath system. There's no data at all on their survey or excavation procedures."

"That's because no Starfleet ship has ever been to the Verath system. Captain Terry obtained those artifacts from a Dosi merchant ship."

Aeris slapped her hand on the table. "I knew it! Terry is such a whacked-out cheat. I'm going to hurt him so bad next time I see him."

"Don't think you're going there either. You're stuck here for now, and I was told your excessive time at the bar at Club 47 hadn't gone unnoticed. They want to temporarily assign you to assist with station security."

The human woman shook her head in disbelief. "Are you kidding me? I can't even over-look my own crew's repair progress??"

"They say you can do both. By the way, here's the progress report from two days ago," Barnes dropped another PADD on the table as he stood. "You left it at the bar."

As he left, Aeris picked up the PADD and tried scratching the dried Ale off its edges. "Ugh. Well, this wasn't me," she said to herself, defensively, suddenly taking a second notice of the half-Vulcan, sitting in solitude. There was something non-descript about him, she observed. He was in a perfect, unobtrusive, ordinary state. Probably nothing.

"Security to Captain Aeris," came a voice over the comms.

She tapped her commbadge. "Aeris here."

"Report to Operations for re-assignment."

Aeris groaned. "Oh come on. Did you have to say it like that? Never mind. On my way." Verath would just have to be someone else's interest.
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A little heavier than your usual fare. Sounds like some rather challenged characters - character flaws make for interesting stories..

Thanks!! rbs
A little heavier than your usual fare. Sounds like some rather challenged characters - character flaws make for interesting stories..
True! Flaws are always at the core of my Captains, even in the comedy stuff. My favourite thing about writing. "Nibiru, Part III" is next. :techman:
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Author's notes: This was written in May 2016, as part of the Star Trek Online Forums Unofficial Literary Challenge #20.
Unofficial Literary Challenge #20
Nibiru, Part III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Menrow and Samya replied, "YES!"

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


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

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

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

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

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

He took the time to explain everything.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone looked at him in shock.

"Oh, yeah. That's the stuff," replied Seifer. "It's good to be back."
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Author's notes: This continues some of my posts from the RP, Earth Spacedock, written in April-May 2016. Some dialogue with other player's characters was written by them and integrated to help with flow. Story beats may feel wonky since it was mostly improv and only select posts are compiled.​

Earth Spacedock, Pages 3-7
Captain Aeris - Promenade

Aeris exited the security office, sifting through a PADD. It had been a long, grueling meeting; one she was unable to steer to her favour for the life of her. As she walked, she was joined in stride with one of her Bridge officers from the Zephyra.

"Perfect timing, I see?" Aeris said.

Wendy shrugged her shoulders. "I walked by three times trying to anticipate your exit. So, how'd it go?"

"Starfleet somehow suspects a terrorist presence in the sector and they want me to assist in station security while I'm here. I'm just to look out for anything out of the ordinary and basically be paranoid for them."

The officer rolled her eyes. "Uh, it's a space station. There are always things out of the ordinary."

"No, but there was this one, odd feeling I got just as I was leaving the Food Court earlier. It felt... almost threatening," Aeris drifted into thought.

Lieutenant Wendy glanced at Aeris. "Any idea who it was?"

"I'm scrolling through a list of officers from ships docked at Spacedock to see if they'll jog my memory. It's a long list. Anyway, how are things on your end?"

The other Human sighed. "Slow. I don't know what those Iconian probes from the War injected into the systems on Spacedock's lower decks, but they won't let go."

"Well, we're on to other enemies now, so hurry it up. One less reason for the Zephyra to be stuck here, the better."

Wendy nodded and walked in another direction. Suddenly, a voice chirped through the comms, from an unknown security officer. "Security to Captain Aeris. An ID code set off some red flags in Cargo Bay 7. We have a Romulan Centurion down here. Can you come check it out?"

"On my way."


Captain Aeris - Corridors

Exiting Cargo Bay 7, Aeris was met with a Commander Reeve from station security. "Pleasure to have you with us, Captain."

"Uh, it would be if I didn't get a fake-out in that Cargo Bay. You guys didn't even apprehend anyone."

Reeve put his hands up in defense. "We're not here to make speciest accusations. But the ID code we received checked through 4 of our 5 security decoders-- Nothing to bat an eye at, but we were told to keep a watch out for anything. And I mean anything. Yesterday we spent a whole afternoon debating and examining an unknown mass collection of alien fibers. Turned out to be Caitian."

"You know, I'm not much for the finer points of security, but I do know command. Using my powers of expecting people to do what I require, I expect you assist me with what is required in security. That includes not wasting time on hairballs."

The other officer crossed his arms in agreement. "I won't lie and say we didn't learn a lot from that, in terms of biology, but we do need to answer to the higher-ups on our suspect-intel. Especially to Sulu. He's always on our case."

"He was on leave for while. Glad he's back," she commented. "Now. Let's go to Club 47, where our Romulan 'friend' was last seen headed."

Reeve interrupted his own thought-process. "Did you just do the 'friend' air-quote thing?"

"Yeah, I just realized I did. I order that to be accepted as non-cliché. Also, pilots being medics."


Club 47

Entering the semi-energetically active social realm, Aeris could almost feel her desire for Romulan Ale calling to her again. She recalled how close she was getting back out into the stars before it was pulled away from her like a rug from under her feet. Repressing that awkward thirst, she pushed on, along with Reeve, browsing the crowd. It was there, she bumped into Elihu, as he and the Romulan Centurion, a member of his crew, from earlier, were on their way out. In an instant, a rushing memory of threatening stance filled Aeris once again and locking eyes with the part-Vulcan from the Food Court struck her heart rate into a heightened state. It was him...?

Something was definitely odd about her reaction to this man. It wasn't normal, and she needed to know why or if it was related to the reports of terrorists in the Vulcan sector. "Excuse me, Lieutenant... Elihu," Aeris said while referencing her PADD's listing from earlier. "Captain Aeris, with Spacedock security. Would you come with me for some questions?"


Captain Terry - Promenade

Terry stood at a console, speaking with Hann, one of his Starfleet Bridge officers from the Kitana. "Repairs to the ship are complete. Will we be taking on any missions, Captain?"

"I haven't heard anything yet, and my business here isn't finished. Sit tight and I'll let you know," Terry suggested, thinking he'd like to get his postponed evaluation over-with. If he wasn't on his way to that, he'd be seeking out his next task.

Deactivating the communication, he turned and bumped into Admiral Nat. "Why don't you watch where you're---" But, then he got his bearings and pulled himself together. "Oh! Admiral. I should've watched where I was--- Well, you know how that sentence ends. It's a standard sentence. It has a beginning, middle and end. We don't always need the whole thing."

After being handed some orders, Terry looked at the PADD he was given. He was glad to have a mission, finally, but to be put back into the heat of the Iconians was troublesome. As he walked, he noticed Commander Reeve staring through the windows of the doors to the Security office. They displayed surveillance video, which Reeve was reacting to.

"You know, in some cultures you could can just knock," Terry said.

Reeve shook his head. "I got what I needed." He tapped his commbadge. "Reeve to Security teams Alpha through Delta. Begin intensive scans and initiate searches of the cargo bays, starting with 7 through 12. Look for explosives, monitoring equipment, anything."

"Sounds serious," Terry said.

Reeve nodded before running off. "We'll see."

"I guess, so will I," Terry answered to himself, looking at the PADD in his hands.


Captain Aeris - Security Office

Operating on a hunch, she turned to her security screen displayed on the wall behind her desk. Before Elihu could leave, she spoke.

"Computer, bring up the surveillance video for Cargo Bay's 7 through 12 and display them in reverse order, each incrementally at 5 minutes before the other, starting at 0900 hours."

On it, displayed the bird's eye view of each cargo bay, and the many people going in and out of them. She touched the video for Cargo Bay 7, freezing it at the point the Romulan Centurion was fiddling with something in a crate in the back, then began freezing all the other videos. The same Romulan, with the same clothes, was in each bay, fiddling with a far away crate on each screen.

"What was your officer doing? What is your mission here?"

M'Konel watched the footage with a smile. "'re not going to find anything. To put it bluntly, you have absolutely nothing. That code I gave your man... look it up. I mean really. But be careful what you do with it."

Aeris picked up Reeve's PADD report from Cargo Bay 7, referenced it and entered the Romulan's code into a general database search. Too determined to even care if M'Konel was still standing there, she read the incoming search results. "This is a Starfleet Intelligence code?" She pondered. "You're working for Intelligence on something. That's what this is about! You're on a mission for them." She looked to the side in shock, in disbelief.

But then the search monitor beeped, indicating the final results from her inquiry as complete. She looked one last time. From an intel category only released to Captains, was a depiction of an organization sharing the code.

"The Tal Shiar!?"

Somehow, Starfleet Intelligence had enabled a Tal Shiar code, indicating this man having some kind of association with those pointy-eared barbarians.

Turning and narrowing her eyes at M'Konel, she tapped her commbadge and commanded: "Computer, erect a Level-10 forcefield around the office. Aeris to any available officers, I need an established guard around the Security Office."

In an almost too-calm tone, M'Konel whispered, "Do what you like, but don't feel that way about the Romulans, nor the Tal'Shiar. You will apologize, or I will cripple your mind. Trust me, it's not pleasant." M'Konel was not actually sure he could do that, but his confidence was absolute. His Vulcan psionic abilities were able to amplify his Betazoid empathic ones, though he too was quickly becoming overcome with emotion.

"I won't apologize," answered Aeris, suddenly feeling the pressure of M'Konel's psionic abilities beginning to overtake her. "You're involved in a secret operation aboard Spacedock. And now you're threatening me. Starfleet asked me to investigate this station for exactly what you've done. I don't know what you did in those cargo bays, but it was not an approved action."

Then the drill began into her mind. She began involuntarily sifting through her memories, ones she pushed back as far as she could. She fell back into her chair and grasped her head, completely forgetting what she was talking about or what she just said.

"I don't--- hate-- the Romulans--- It's the-- Tal Sh--- air. --I'll never-- forgive them--- for--- ugh, what they did to my-- crew." Without will, she recalled a complete Tal Shiar take-over of the Zephyra, just last year; one of the most horrifying experiences of her life.

The lieutenant nearly collapsed, his knees wobbling. He caught himself on the edge of her desk and cringed in anguish and anxiety and panic. "I am not them, Aeris." He quickly, but non-threateningly, reached over to open a hailing frequency to Starfleet Intelligence. "Please, release the force field and recall your guards..."

With the pressure of her memories releasing, Aeris pulled what little she could of her present-state of mind together and stood. Her back was to the monitor as Starfleet Intelligence blinked on screen.

"Captain Aeris," came Commander Bradden's response. "It's come to my attention you have someone in custody in your office."

Still trying to regain her head, Aeris remained her back to the monitor, leaning over her desk with her hand on her forehead. "Was Lieutenant M'Konel ordered to infiltrate Earth Spacedock and plant unknown devices aboard the station? Are you working with the Tal Shiar?"

"Aeris," sighed Bradden, not intending on answering any of those questions. "I order you to drop your force field and let Lieutenant M'Konel go."

She turned to face the screen. "Commander, what is going on--"

"Do it," interrupted Bradden. "That's an order."

The screen blinked out to Aeris' shock, and she slowly looked over at M'Konel. "Computer," she opened, in disbelief and exhaustion. "Drop the force field surrounding the office."

She only had Elihu M'Konel's word to go on. That, and being under Starfleet's thumb had been her casualty ever since the Tal Shiar incident. The doors to her office swooshed open and she addressed the group of security officers and concerned Captains outside.

"False alarm. Stand down."

M'Konel bypassed the men outside and walked down the corridor. Then he was beamed to the Philadelphia.

"Captain, what happened?" Admiral Nat asked.

Krystal quipped, "Someone steal some Cheetos or something?"

Aeris snapped out of her mental recovery mode and turned to them. "It seems the crew of Philadelphia was sent to plant unknown, cloaked devices aboard Spacedock. Lieutenant M'Konel, who reached me through projected psionics, was unclear about whether his mission was to destroy us or not. After I attempted to apprehend him, Starfleet Intelligence ordered that he be released."

She shook her head in realization.

"But how do we know the extent of Intelligence's involvement, or that officer on screen, even? Either way, we're left with too many unknowns."

Then, Reeve came through on the comms. "Reeve to Captain Aeris. Our scanners do not penetrate any of the devices. We're unable to locate them. It's as if they don't exist."

"So, nothing at all?" Aeris asked.

There was sigh over air. "Sorry, ma'am. But we did read some of the electrons in the Cargo Bay as suffering from a distorted angular momentum. Whether that's the result of alien cargo, or something else, we can't be sure."

"Well, keep trying," Aeris added in reluctance. "Let's get science teams on this and screen visitors with access for now. Aeris out."

She then sighed.

"This experience has reminded me that it's my fault I'm stuck at Spacedock. After the Tal Shiar took over my ship, Starfleet Command began to send me on less and less missions. At some point they even stopped retuning my calls. There were steps I could have taken that day to prevent that encounter, but I was too short sighted. Too foolish of a Captain; young and brash. I can't let that happen again."

The admiral looked at Aeris. "If you've been stuck at home for that long, you must have been here when the Iconians attacked the system. Have any experience with the Iconians?"

Aeris turned. "We were all in that war, Admiral. I did get the Zephyra into its fair share of pew pews. I know I am stuck here at the moment, but if another mission arose I would prefer to stay here until my current mission was complete." Her thoughts drifted to her immediate conundrum in the Cargo Bays, then back to the Iconians. "Oh, but were they ever a tough adversary. I took down several Baltim Raiders, a Quas Cruiser and more. At least I didn't have as chaotic a time as Captain Terry did."


Captain Terry - Councillor's Office

Terry sat before Councillor Lucrecia who sat before him. "Your test results check out; meaning you're technically okay for duty. But I'd like to know what you think?" she asked.

"I know I have a history, but the fact that I'm willing to work passed things should convince you I'm better," Terry explained.

Lucrecia tried to read him. "What we try and what we are aren't always the same thing. Your new mission has you excited."

Terry sat up. "A chance to get back at the Iconians? I'd be crazy to pass that up. Whatever they have going on, it's important we stop them."

"There's no disputing that." The councillor nodded. "But treading careful may be in your best interests."

The Captain agreed. "I'll do my best."


Captain Aeris - Cargo Bay 7

Aeris entered the cargo bay where Commander Reeve and several science officers were at work scanning the area. Everyone looked busy, despite there being no results.

"Well, we're just about ready to call it quits here," Reeve said. "Is it possible this is some kind of hoax?"

Aeris glanced around, not sure what she was going to see that no one else had. "You know, Commander, I'm starting to think that as well."

She stepped away from the science officers, while Reeve followed.

"Captain?" Reeve asked.

The woman pondered. "Something about M'Konel before he left, that I assumed he was trying to sabotage Earth Spacedock. Perhaps it was something else."

"You have no reason to trust him, and every reason not to," Reeve added.

Aeris nodded. "You're probably right."

"Spacedock Operations to any available Captains," came a general call over the comms. "Undine threat in Sol system. Repeat, Undine threat in Sol system."


Earth Spacedock

An opening from fluidic space tore through, near Earth Spacedock, and a Dromias Bio-Cruiser exited. Following close behind, three Vila Heavy Bioships, which opened fire on the Dromias Bio-Cruiser and any nearby starships. The sole operator aboard the under-attack Dromias Bio-Cruiser opened a hail to Spacedock in a desperate request for asylum.


Vila Heavy Bioship 3, Mukoukac

With the Philadelphia approaching weapons range, Sekkugh slowed and turned to fire two plasma torpedoes into the Philadelphia's forward shields, followed by the antiproton beam at its rollbar. Shocked at his blind luck, he reloaded fast, and fired the beam again, knocking out the Philadelphia's weapons. "I didn't expect such a weak vessel."

But time was of the essence. He turned his ship to Spacedock and moved right up to it. Funneling a powerful antiproton beam into the shields of the station, the Mukoukac drained a hole and swiftly moved itself near a Cargo Bay port. He blew a parked workbee and its cargo containers apart and then moved his ship in its place so his crew could board the station.


Elihu M'Konel - USS Philadelphia

The bridge of the little ship was a blazing inferno as smoke poured in from nearly every location smoke could pour in from.


ESD cargo bays

The Undine almost made it to the cargo bay doors, leading to the corridors. The felt themselves being pushed back. They phased through solid matter against their will and floated between every ship and every piece of debris, toward their own portal. It was as if the portal was generating a whirlpool, and it was inhaling all of its vomit. Even the ships were repelled. The Undine commanders tried to maintain their course and position, but it was futile. Every Undine was sent back.


Elihu M'Konel - USS Philadelphia

As the bridge crew observed their experiment working, Elihu continued piloting the Philadelphia toward the portal.


Captain Aeris - Cargo Bay 7

Aeris lead a security team down the corridors outside the cargo bay. Setting into position surrounding the doors, she nodded to Reeve on its other side as a communication to enter the cargo bay. As the doors swooshed open, her team of security officers flooded into the room with phaser rifles armed. Inside, they found nothing.

The Captain fed herself into the room, following the others and gleaned what they has just seen for themselves. More nothing.

"Is it just me, or are my trips to the cargo bays, procuring nothing, some kind of irony?" she asked.

Reeve looked around. "I don't get it? Sensors said the Undine were here?"

"The ship seems to be gone as well," Aeris said, examining the cargo hatch.

The Commander walked over and scanned with his tricoder. "There's no doubt they were here. It seems someone babied our problems for us."

"The devices?" Aeris asked, making a connection.

Before Reeve could reply, their attention was pulled to the force fielded opening of the cargo hatch to cold space. Through it, they could see the Philadelphia heading straight for the Undine rift in the far distance.


Admiral Nat - USS Sally

The U.S.S. Sally locked onto the U.S.S. Philadelphia with a tractor beam, and was yet still firing her phaser lance at the rift, continuing to destabilize it. "Trust me, with the Sally bombarding the rift with a continuous phaser lance beam, you'd be a lot better off not flying into it and getting yourselves killed..."

The rift closed once all of the Undine bioships were sucked back through it. Once released, the Philadelphia moved to dock with the space station; however, due to the intense damage the small cruiser took, it's maneuverability was extremely slow.


Dromias Bio Cruiser, Kelekan

The sole occupant, Drekkon, found himself regaining consciousness from a blow of a nearby ship vein. Its acids had reacted with his own body, chemically knocking him out. When he saw a Starfleet Away Team and a group of Macos approach him, he realized the threat from his Faction was over.

"Do any of you understand or hear me?" he thought-broadcasted. "I am Drekkon, a deviant of the Undine Korisar Faction, and I have intel I wish to share with the Federation about planned attacks. Take me..." he waivered in his transmission, beginning to doubt whether his body was in as much health as he thought. "Take me to be debriefed..."

Then his vision went black and he fell unconscious again. Acid dripped from a chemical tear in his chest and arm.
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Author's notes: I wanted to see what Seifer was up to off the LCs and ULCs, so I started him off-duty here, last seen in "Nibiru, Part III" where the Phoenix-X was severely damaged. For Aeris, I hadn't posted in a while and a bunch of story with other players flew by while she was in the Cargo bay, so I wrote in a temporal thing. Written in May 2016.
Earth Spacedock, Pages 7-10
Captain Oroku Seifer - Khao Sok Rainforest, Thailand

The joined Trill and Captain stalked through giant wet leaves and passed looping thick vines while he carried a long, sharpened bamboo stick. Somewhere, nearby, was the animal he had been tracking for the last 2 kilometers. In two seconds, a giant Klingon targ leapt out at him, causing him to fall back into a bush.

"Seifer to guy who's in charge around here," he pulled himself off the ground and tapped his commbadge.

A few seconds later, a Denobulan man transported next to him, smiling in a pleasant way. "Anything I can be assistance of?"

"Why is there a targ on Earth? Isn't that illegal and harmful to the Earth's ecosystem? And for that matter, why'd you give me a pointy stick?"

The Denobulan chuckled. "How do you expect to 'make the kill'? Oh, if you're interested, we also have Jackal mastiffs and, just yesterday, we recieved a Bardakian pronghorn moose!"

"I actually would be interested in that, but I think I've been off duty for too long. I'm dying to get back to my starship, the Phoenix-X. Did I mention it?"

Nodding and smiling, the Denobulan replied, "More than once, actually. You spoke of it in so much detail, I believe you missed the program initiation in which we taste tested the blood of a live kohlar beast. In the meantime, please be advised refunds are not allowed."

"Put it on my tab. Thanks!" Walking a few meters away, Seifer tapped his commbadge again. "Seifer to Spacedock. I need a report on a Prometheus-class starship currently in repair; the U.S.S. Phoenix-X?"

Over air, he received a computer response. "Please be advised Spacedock communications are on hold."

"What's going on up there?"

The computer responded. "Please be advised Spacedock communications are on hold."

"Ah. Classic. Well, I guess I could check it out, or finish this Earth targ hunt. Then again, I think they make us eat the targ. Spacedock it is."


Captain Aeris - Earth Spacedock, Cargo Bay 7

Aeris stood, looking at everyone, puzzled as to why they were looking at her puzzled. The environment around her faded in and out along with her security team. They disappeared and were replaced with medical officers in varying states of motion. When her transit ended, she found she was being scanned by an aging Human medical officer.

"You were out for quite some time, Captain," Doctor Lox said.

She stepped back, in shock. "Whoa! Aren't you that guy who experiments on kids and animals?"

"I haven't done that in weeks. What I'm saying here is, you were temporarily quantum-phased, likely missing a series of consecutive, relevant events."

Reeve walked up. "He's right. You missed a lot of stuff."

"Is it possible those undetectable devices caused me to quantum-phase?" Aeris asked.

Lox nodded. "Without examining them, I can positively say yes to that."

"Um," Aeris paused in reaction to the not-so-great Doctor. "You know, I'm good now. Thanks."

Doctor Lox put his tricorder on his belt. "Oh, I'm not too busy. I can hang around for a bit."

"Whatever," the Captain ignored his ability to take a hint. "Commander Reeve, what's the status of the Undine vessel we saw through the cargo bay hatch?"

Reeve replied, "Parked in a drydock, offline. Its occupant is unconscious, with fading lifesigns, in the Firestorm's sickbay."

"The Zephyra's Sickbay is more equipped to handle Undine physiology. We encountered and supported one of their vessels before," Aeris recalled.

Lox's expression perked up. "Oh? Do tell?"

"Conversation is not why I made that statement, Doctor," Aeris grumbled. "By the way, I can move from this spot and not be torn apart by the space-time continuum, right?"

The Doctor shrugged, then stopped himself half way. "I mean, yeah, sure."

"Nevermind," she dismissed before turning to Reeve. "Commander, let's save that Undine."


Captain Seifer - Earth Spacedock, Cargo Bay 12

Seifer manned a workbee from Earth and secretly approached Spacedock. He aligned his vessel with a cargo port and overrode safety protocols to attach. Sneaking his way inside Cargo Bay 12, he was suddenly confronted with a Starfleet security officer.

"Uh, what are you doing?" Reeve asked.

Seifer snapped back at the other man's sudden appearance. "Whoa! Oh, I'm breaking onto the Spacedock to get to the bottom of whatever is going on here. Communications went down."

"Well, they went back up a while ago, along with normal traffic," Reeve replied. "There was an Undine attack, but an unknown, uncleared, secret and powerful technology threw them all back into Fluidic Space. I'm sure it poses no risk to us." He then looked at the Captain. "Were you going to shoot me with that, sir?"

Captain Seifer quickly put his aimed phaser behind his back. "What? No, I was just, uh, taking this to get repaired somewhere. Carry on, soldier."

"Do you have clearance to be on base?"

Seifer waved it away. "Pfft! Clearance is for the weak. I'll be at Club 47 to investigate various things there."


Captain Aeris - Earth Spacedock, Operations

Aeris slammed her palm through the transparent, hovering console to its computer projector, shutting down the hologaphic interface. She had been searching for the Firestorm for hours, using sensor data from available relay stations throughout the sector, but it was nowhere to be found.

"Any luck?" Reeve approached.

The Captain gritted her teeth. "Nothing. How does a Federation starship just disappear with a defecting Undine with no one at Operations knowing anything about why they did that? Clearly, that Undine was trying to get an important message to us, but, now we'll never get that message."

"Not to mention, the last medical report from the Firestorm indicated the defector was near-fatally poisoned by an unknown acid compound. It's unfortunate we couldn't get him to your ship's Sickbay."

Aeris turned from her dead console. "I just hope he doesn't die before divulging that intel." When she looked for Reeve, she suddenly found him standing to her left, as if he just popped there by magic.

"Captain, you disappeared and then reappeared, frozen for several minutes," reported Reeve as he scanned her with his tricorder.

The human did a visual scan of her own body. "What the hell? Is it those devices?"

"They're doing something to you. We'll have to run more tests."

Aeris groaned. "Damn. And I had plans to hit the Synthbar later." She acknowledge him, "I don't want to leave Operations at the moment. Have a medical officer do what they can with me while I'm here."

"According to Spacedock roster, Doctor Lox is avail--"

She interrupted him. "No! Never that guy. Never again. In fact, anything you can do to get him off Spacedock would help me immensely."


Captain Oroku Seifer - Earth Spacedock, Shipyard

Seifer approached Commander Barnes, an older Benzite and Starfleet officer.

"A martini?" Barnes said, noticing the drink in the Captain's hands.

The Trill put his drink aside. "Oh. Just came from the Synthbar. It's so strange they put that place on the same deck as all the important stuff. Well, convenience, I guess."

"If you're looking for your Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X, I'm sorry to inform you that it's severely damaged and we're at a crossroads at if we can ever repair it."

Seifer dropped his arms. "How could this be? We have the best Engineers in the Federation!"

"Your vessel was hit by a Breen dissapator, twice! By you, no doubt," Barnes explained. "By the way, your Breen ship, the Darkseid is docked as well, though, that ship was already running like a garbage scowl's cargo."

The Captain nodded. "Well, it did traverse a blackhole to an alternate universe and back." He then looked to the side in realization. "This means I don't have a ship?"

"It's better this way. The Phoenix-X was an old vessel, even if it did help usher in transwarp technology. I'm sorry to report, but your crew is being reassigned as well."

Seifer wiped the sweat from his brow. "Oh, finally. They were the literal worst."

"Uh," Barnes just looked at him, in shock.

Recovering, Seifer finished, "The worst at being horrible! I mean, I'm going to miss them. Heh. Heh! Well, I have to go hijack the Phoe-- err, I mean, say goodbye to the Phoenix-X. Turns out the bottle smashing ceremony works both ways."


Captain Aeris - Earth Spacedock, Admiral's Office

Meanwhile, a Captain Dennison pulls an odd, blueish metallic Iconian sphere out of his pocket, pressing a few buttons on the metal extensions around the sphere. Suddenly, he vanishes into a puff of purple smoke.

Aeris and Reeve bolted up the stairs to the level where Quinn's windowed office was. They barely caught what was last said and Dennison disappearing in purple smoke. Aeris ran over to check on a Captain Sarah who was also in the room.

"Damn! Where was security?" Aeris complained to mostly herself.

Reeve replied. "Light duty to compensate that Undine invasion. Your orders."

"Ah, that," she recalled. "Reeve, go to Ops, check on the U.S.S. Sally and scan the system for any signs of Iconian ships. Lock Spacedock down and screen everyone for Iconian technology."

As he left, Aeris was suddenly joined by a medic, who began running a dermal regenerator over Sarah. "Lieutenant Cetra. I'm also a science officer. Reeve assigned me to investigate your problem."

"Oh, thanks," Aeris replied in shock and appreciation for the timing. She then looked down to Sarah. "Are you alright?" Then to both Quinn and her, she added, "I'd like to join the hunt for the Firestorm. I don't know what they're up to, but I do know they stole that Undine defector from us. If there's a threat to the Federation, we have to stop it."

Quinn stood up. "Fine. Do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this. But you'll need a plan to take on Firestorm and whoever they're with. Dismissed."


Captain Oroku Seifer - Earth Spacedock, Shipyard Docking Port 25, Corridor

Through the windows peering into the internal shipyard of Spacedock, Seifer could see the damaged U.S.S. Phoenix-X. Workbees and suited engineers were performing repairs all over the outer hull, but the Captain knew its operation was in far less condition.

"If you're wondering whether it'll fly again, the answer is maybe," came the nearby comment of a female Engineer. "Lieutenant Winry," she introduced herself. "I'm on the team assisting with the Phoenix-X's mothballing."

Seifer dropped his shoulders in disappointment. "Damn. Any chance I can take it out for one last spin? Maybe pit it against a few Na'Khul?"

"If we weren't on lockdown, you probably could, and the ship isn't going to be completely decomissioned, but I wouldn't recommend it. The underlying charge from the Breen dissipator is embedded into its systems. Overuse of the ship could destroy it."

The Captain leaned against the window. "She was a good ship, with a good crew. I'll keep her in drydock for as long as Starfleet will let me."

"They'll want to keep it as a test subject for sustaining Breen weaponry. That, and several Academy Engineering courses will want to field trip it as a 'how not to run a ship' lesson. Did I mention, the Corps Engineers were sending pictures of your ship to each other on their lunch break? Anyway, think you'll get another one?"

Seifer sighed. "Plenty of letters left in the alphabet."

"Uh, not really. If the Phoenix is at X, there are only two."

He turned to address her. "Oh, good point. Well, they ran through like twenty four Phoenix-named ships in a short time, in a desperate attempt at perfecting transwarp technology. Anyhow, would you mind smashing this bottle of Chateau Picard on its hull for me?"

"I don't think you do that for mothballing."

Seifer looked at the bottle, before taking it with him. "Yeah, never mind. I'll drink it later."
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