Author: Alan Decker, Anthony Butler
STAR TRAKS: BOLDLY GONE…
By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler
FLARN PRIME THE DELTA QUADRANT
“I am, as alwaysssssssss, your humble sssssssssservant,” Chancellor Lotok of the Flarn Assemblage hissed, clicking his redundant tongues in a somber sign of respect as he stared out the window at the parched, gleaming orange Flarn countryside and clasped his massive talons in prayer. The nine-foot tall reptilian/insectoid being began each day this way, praying to Mega, the all-seeing and all-knowing entity that oversaw all the beautiful things the Flarn people had accomplished in the last century.
The Flarn people had turned from a broken empire, a defeated people struggling aimlessly to rebuild their once great empire, to a noble and charitable folk, dedicated entirely to the service and betterment of the peoples of the Delta Quadrant.
The irony of his people’s change of heart was not lost on Lotok. He realized that the Flarn people had once been a nasty autocracy, enslaving a good-sized corner of the Delta Quadrant and bending them to their bitter will.
Historians would probably look to socioeconomic factors, political change, and the lessons learned from being pummeled a century prior by the Borg as noteworthy contributors to the sea change in Flarn philosophy.
Lotok, and most of the other Flarn, on the other hand, knew there was only one person–one divine entity–to thank.
The one and only Mega; the supreme being, holiest of holies, and doer of all that was good in this galaxy.
And if the Flarn were good, and did what they were told, then Mega would continue to look down favorably on them, and the Flarn people would prosper.
Stray from Mega’s path, even for an instant, and the Flarn people would live to regret it.
Lotok knew that, as Chancellor, he was less of a political figure and more of a religious leader. His role was to guide the Flarn people, and the great many species that thrived under Flarn protection, in the worship and obedience of Mega.
“Morning, Lotok. How’s the groveling today?”
Lotok looked over his shoulder. His compound eyes brightened, and the massive, hard-shelled, insectoid/reptilian alien leaned up, pulling himself up with his large, sharp talons. He bowed regally before the slight, lithe human female.
“I am well, Great Mega, becaussssssssssse you make it so.”
By Flarn standards, she had an unusual body to say the least, but Lotok had learned to appreciate the smoothness of her scaleless skin, and the tenderness of her exoskeletonless body. She had two uncomposited brown eyes and soft, reddish lips and flat, mostly dull teeth. In most respects, she resembled many of the humanoid species in the Delta Quadrant.
Lotok knew, from studying the ancient books, that Mega looked for all the world as if she were human. But she was so, so much more.
“You have your weekly tribute?” Mega asked, strolling around Lotok, her long, tight white dress, slit to mid-calf, fitting tight to her completely un-bumpy body.
“Y-yessssssss, right here,” Lotok said, pulling an electronic scroll off a shelf on the wall. “A lisssssssst of good deeds done by the Flarn. I think you’ll be most excited about our economic recovery effortsssssss with the Sulani and Andraxians.”
Mega smiled and giggled. “You are a good Chancellor, Lotok. Much better than your predecessor. You understand that good deeds are their own reward. There’s something to be said for that.”
“O-of course, Great Mega. We only live to sssssssssssserve you.”
Mega smirked. “Don’t forget that.”
Lotok stood for several awkward moments as Mega drifted over to his window and looked outside at the sunny afternoon sun shining down on the lush crabgrass swamps of Flarn Prime.
“Is there something else I can do for you today, Mega?”
“No,” she said, folding her arms on the window sill and leaning forward. “Not really.”
“If I may be so bold, your perfectnessssssssss, you sssssssssssseem somewhat bored.”
“No, Lotok, not bored,” Mega said distractedly. “Just not sure what to do next.”
“May I make a suggestion?”
Lotok’s eyes shot out of their sockets (as Flarn eyes were wont to do on occasion), and quickly retracted back in as he saw the other humanoid walk up to the window to join Mega. Where had he come from? The doors to his administrative offices were locked, guarded. No simple citizen could just barge right in there, nevermind the fact he was directly addressing Mega as if she were a regular person.
“Look here, whoever you are…” Lotok said with a wave of his talon. As he stepped closer to the young man, he noticed the faint, brown spots on either side of his head. He was Maloxian!
The Maloxian cavalierly held up his hand at Lotok, causing the Flarn leader to disappear.
“Oh, for Pete’s sake, Mirk,” Mega said with a sigh. “I hate it when you make people cease to exist.”
“I can always bring him back,” Mirk replied, stepping closer to Mega. “Don’t you think it’s time we talked?”
“It’s been ten years, Mirk,” Mega replied, whipping around. “You waited THIS long to call me?”
Mirk looked down at his feet. “Well, I sort of thought you were going to call me…”
“You’re omnipotent!” Mega shouted. “You should know better!”
“I just want to…you know, patch things up.”
Mega folded her arms. “Easier said than done.”
“I still love you.”
She glanced sideways at Mirk, and for a moment, her rigid gaze faltered.
“You’re okay by me, too.”
Mirk smiled slightly. “There, then. That’s a beginning. Now, why don’t you come back with me to the Bermuda Expanse and we can talk about this like civil immortals.”
“NO!” Mega fairly shouted, sending Mirk stumbling back a few paces. “I’m having too much fun here.”
“You’re skewing the development of Flarn society. Having some fun is one thing, but you’re dramatically changing history.”
“So. I’m omnipotent. I can do what I want.”
“These things have consequences. Even we have to answer to a higher power eventually.”
“I don’t care,” Mega said. “You never wanted me to have anything that’s my own, anyway. Sprucing up the Flarn Empire is something I like to do! And I want to keep doing it!”
“‘Sprucing up,’” Mirk sighed, and stared at the Mega incredulously. “You’re making them worship you!”
“Well, some species still find me attractive, apparently,” Mega said standoffishly.
“This is ridiculous. This conversation is over. You’re coming back with me to Malox right now!” Mirk said, and took Mega’s arm.
“Oh, you should SO not do that,” Mega snapped. “You like Malox so much, YOU go back there!”
With a flick of Mega’s wrist, the Maloxian was gone, leaving her alone now in Lotok’s chamber. She stared out of the window again, bracing her hands on the sill.
“Men!” she moaned, the anger welling up within her as her hands squeezed the sill, causing tiny cracks to appear in the rough, pink stone. “Stupid, thoughtless, selfish, insensitive MEN!”
And the ground began to shake.
“Men!” Prosak muttered, flopping onto her triangular bed and crossing her legs. “I cannot understand them. Fexor begged me to come to Reno, to help him prevent a Romulan attack. And then, suddenly, he’s shooing me away from his planet like the proverbial shinara fly.”
Captain Bain rested his hands on his hips as he watched Prosak draw her knees up and wrap her arms around them, leaning her chin down on her knees. She still hadn’t explained her relationship to Fexor, other than saying that he was her “sharal,” whatever that was. Still, he was content to offer his counsel, especially to an officer who had been such a steadfast advisor for him over the years. “Listen here, Prosak: You’re not about to let a simple relationship issue get in the way of the big picture here. There are nefarious dealings afoot between the Romulans and Vulcans, and you and I are going to puzzle it out together, or die trying!”
Prosak looked up at him. “You’re sweet, Captain. Thank you for trying to console me.”
Bain cocked his head. “I wasn’t…”
“But consolation is illogical. We must act now.”
“I believe that’s what I just…”
Prosak stood. “I will contact my sources at the Romulan consulate. Perhaps they can give me some idea as to…”
Just then, the doorchime sounded, and her and Bain both glanced toward the door.
“Come,” Prosak said.
The door slid open, and Commander Vioxx stood there, framed in it, his hands draped behind his back. “Commander Prosak. According to the regulations of the Federation/Romulan accords, the head of the exchange team, namely me, is obliged to keep an office in close proximity to the bridge. Said office would usually be located off the aft corridor, on a Federation ship, but that space is currently being occupied by the…” He looked at Bain with mild disdain. “Captain’s Lounge. Therefore, I am obliged to take this space, effective immediately. You will proceed to move your belongings to proper quarters belowdecks.” With that, he turned around and walked away.
Prosak pounded on her bed with both fists. “MEN!” her voice once again echoed off the walls.
There were a few moments of silence, followed by Ensign Yonk and Centurion Nortal walking in carrying crates.
“Where should we put these, Captain?” Yonk asked, struggling to balance the container in his tiny hands.
“Right where you stand, for now. I’m going to have a word with Mister Vioxx,” Bain said, and charged toward the door.
“Don’t bother,” Prosak mumbled. “Let him have my quarters. He took my job, so they’re rightfully his anyway.” She shoved off her bed and walked toward the door, shouldering past Bain.
Bain stared after Prosak quizically, deciding not to mention anything about the fact that she was wearing her pajamas. She’d realize it in time.
“Excuse me, Captain,” Yonk said, “But you’re standing right where we need to put the sculpture of Praetor Nytol.”
“Bugger that,” Bain mumbled, and walked out of the cabin.
“Our unpacking shall be violent and fearless!” Nortal cried out as she knelt over one of the open crates.
“Shut up and hand me an Allen wrench,” Yonk muttered, wondering why there hadn’t been more advances in the field of bookcase assembly over the last few centuries.
“What are you going to do?” Shelly Marsden said, standing in Tovar’s quarters, in front of the door that Lt. Torgerson had just exited from.
“I’m going to talk to her,” Tovar said, collapsing onto his couch. “Egads, Lieutenant. Why did we have to kiss?”
“Lieutenant?” Marsden asked, walking toward Tovar. “I think we’ve come a little farther than that.”
Tovar leaned forward, glared up at Marsden. “That’s what caused this mess. We went to far. Now look at the mess we’re in.”
“Oh!” Marsden said, slapping her face with both hands. “I see! This is all MY fault!”
“You indicated earlier that it was Ensign Yonk’s fault.”
Marsden resisted the urge to ball up her fists. “He was just the messenger. Yes, he put our business out on the ship’s information net, but it was you and I who initiated this. We’re the ones that started down this road, and damn it, Tovar, we’re both going to have to be accountable.”
“Initiated what? What road? All we did was kiss.” Tovar stood up and walked toward the door.
“That’s all we did?” Marsden asked softly.
“Yes,” Tovar said harshly, and walked out the door. “It meant nothing.”
Marsden stared after Tovar, having a hard time finding her voice, for once.
After the door had closed, and a few moments of silence passed, she softly said:
“Don’t worry about me. I’ll just let myself out.”
Captain Bain sat in his chair, staring at the viewscreen as the stars streaked, signifying that the Anomaly was at warp.
“I understand that your Executive Officer believes there is a conspiracy by the Vulcans to somehow infiltrate the Romulan Empire, Captain,” Vioxx said, seated next to Bain in the chair he’d had installed. “But I fail to see what good it will do to go charging in there.”
“I realize you don’t know me very well, old chap, but charging in is what I do,” Bain said, folding his arms. “That’s my thing.”
Vioxx nodded. “I see.”
“And if it were up to me, I would charge in and pull your personal effects out of that cabin and give it back to Prosak.”
Vioxx arched his eyebrow. “Certainly that would be take charge behavior.”
Bain nodded. “But Prosak is determined to make this relationship among the Romulan and Federation crew work. And I’m behind her on that. So I’ll give you this one, Commander. But don’t think I’ll be as lenient in the future.”
“I’m sure you are a formidable man,” Vioxx said. “Nevertheless, I fail to see your plan.”
“I don’t have a plan.”
“Hmm. Let me guess. That is another ‘thing you do.’ You charge in, and you don’t have a plan.”
Bain smiled. “Now you’re catching on.”
Just then, Prosak emerged from the aft turbolift and approached the command chair. “Captain. None of our channels to Romulus are working. The Empire is under communications blackout.”
“That’s not possible,” Vioxx said with a start. “An entire Empire cannot go under communications blackout.”
Prosak barely looked at Vioxx, just handed him a padd. “Here are the results of my efforts to make contact with Romulus. Perhaps you can succeed where I have failed.”
“Indeed,” Vioxx said, swiveling to face the science station. “Sub- Commander Remax, study these findings. Find us an open line to Romulus.”
Remax leaned forward from his station and grabbed the padd. “My pleasure, Commander.” He glared at Prosak. “Perhaps now you will see how an efficient crew handles its affairs.”
Prosak did not seem to hear Remax; or if she did, it didn’t register. She looked at Bain. “Captain, I recommend we take up orbit around Reno and send a team down to the Governor’s lodgings immediately. I believe Fexor will have the answers we need.”
“If we can’t call down there, I suppose we will have to beam down,” Bain said, rubbing his chin. “I’ll have Tovar form a team immediately. Bain to Tovar…”
There was a long pause.
“Mister Tovar, I need you to prepare an investigation team. Take Doctor Kasyov and a couple of your officers. Meet Commander Prosak in the transporter room.”
“Certainly…Captain,” Tovar replied hesitantly. “In just a few minutes.”
Bain cocked his head at that. “Whatever you think best, Tovar.”
“Captain,” Lieutenant Gworos announced from tac-ops. “We are receiving a priority one communication from Starfleet Command.”
“Cripes,” Bain said. “Word gets around fast when you go charging off to Romulus. Put it on screen.”
Admiral Kristen Larkin appeared on the viewscreen. “Captain Bain,” she said. “I understand you’re going to Romulus?”
“Just stretching our legs a bit between missions,” Bain said, winking at Larkin. “Among other things, Larks.”
“I’m sure,” Larkin said cooly. “I’m sure your full report has gotten stuck in ultra-space.”
“That’s…possible,” Bain said.
“I suggested Captain Bain go to Romulus,” Prosak spoke up, stepping in front of Bain.
“I should have known,” Larkin said. “Because of the profound personal relationship I have with Captain Bain, I am apt to give him a certain…latitude…in operating his ship. I do not, however, have the same relationship with you. So I suggest you step out from in front of Captain Bain and let us resume our discussion.”
“Whatever you say,” Prosak muttered, stepping behind Bain, muttering “SO illogical…” under her breath.
“What’s up, Larks?” Bain asked conversationally.
“We have received a distress call from the Flarn, a species located deep in the Delta Quadrant. It would seem they are experiencing massive tectonic upheaval on their homeworld and are in need of immediate assistance.”
Bain nodded. “And there aren’t any resources in their neck of the woods to provide such assistance?”
“Not exactly,” Larkin said. “The source of the tectonic disturbances is somewhat…out of their realm of expertise.”
“How so?” Bain asked.
Larkin appeared to hesitate for a moment, then said, “She is human.”
“A human being is thrashing a planet halfway across the galaxy?”
“In a sense. She happens to be somewhat…more than human. She is an omnipotent being.”
“A human omnipotent being.”
“Indeed. Perhaps you can recall, Captain, the stories I have told you about my experiences aboard the Starship Explorer.”
“Thoroughly. Sad lot, they were,” Bain said.
“Yes, well…” Larkin stared offscreen a moment. “Be that as it may, they had a crewmember aboard, a member of a Delta Quadrant race, who, in time, became omnipotent himself. Due to reasons to numerous to delve into here, he married a human officer from the Explorer, and when he fully reached omnipotence, he took her with him. They’ve both lived as gods ever since.”
“For more than one hundred and twenty years? That’s extraordinary,” Bain said. “It’s longer than Ros and I’ve been married!”
“Quite right, Captain. And as such, it seems as if they have encountered some…stumbling blocks in their marriage. According to the Flarn, the human female has been exerting her godlike control on their species for the better part of a decade, enacting numerous sociological reforms in the process.”
Bain swiveled to and fro in his chair. “That sounds like it might be a good thing, if what I know of these Flarn from history books is correct.”
“I am not so current on Delta Quadrant history, Admiral,” Vioxx interjected.
It almost looked as if Larkin had rolled her eyes. “The Flarn were once a murderous race of nine foot tall insect-lizard creatures. They terrorized a great deal of the Delta Quadrant for some six centuries.”
“Right!” Bain said, sanpping his fingers. “I knew I’d heard of them.” He glared at Larkin. “And you’re sending US to save them?”
“If we can stop Mega from destryoing the Flarn homeworld, it will go a long way toward improving Alpha-Delta Quadrant relations. Natrually, the Anomaly is the only ship in the quadrant capable of reaching the Flarn Empire in a reasonable amount of time.”
“Naturally,” Prosak said softly.
“So you will leave immediately for Flarn space. I am transferring the coordinates to you now.”
“You know I’m normally the yes-ma’am type, Larks,” Bain said. “But Prosak believes there is a somewhat dire situation on Romulus now. There’s a communications blackout, rumors of Vulcans making inroads among several of their government officials. We’ve got to investigate.”
“Relax, Captain,” Larkin said, and nodded somewhere off-screen. “I’ve just assigned the Carpathia to investigate Romulus in your place. They will handle the Romulan situation. I believe that suffices?”
“That’s Captain Maddox’s ship,” Bain said. “Pratello will find out what’s what. I’m all yours, Admiral. We’ll get underway immediately.”
“Good,” Larkin said. “Larkin out.”
“Captain,” Prosak said from behind Bain.
“We have our orders, Commander,” Bain said. “Not to fear. Pratello’s on the case.” He glanced at the ceiling. “Bain to Cabral. Prepare for a jump to anti-sing.”
“Anti-sing engines standing by, Captain,” Cabral’s serene voice replied.
“Sub-Lieutenant Zantak,” Bain said. “Lay in a course for the coordinates Larkin sent us. Engage at Warp L when ready.”
“Don’t fret, Commander,” Vioxx said cheerfully, sliding out of his chair and walking toward Prosak’s former quarters. “Romulus is a strong Empire, with or without you as its citizen. They will get on fine without us.”
“I am beginning to hate him, Captain,” Prosak said.
“Nonsense, Prosak. He just takes a bit of adjustment,” Bain said, and winced as Vioxx stepped into the cabin and shouted.
“Idiots! That’s not where I wanted the statue!”
“Or maybe someone should hit him,” Bain suggested.
“Don’t you have an away team to prepare for?” Torgerson asked Tovar, as he hovered in the doorway of her cabin. She was sitting on her couch, staring out the window as the stars blazed by.
“We’re not going to Romulus anymore. We just changed course,” Tovar said.
“How can you tell?”
He pointed out her window. “In the distance: That’s Cygmus Major. It came into view about thirty seconds ago. That’s in nearly the opposite direction from the Romulan Empire. Plus, we went from warp to anti-sing. You can tell because the vibration in the deck plates is slightly different.”
“I knew there was a reason I fell in love with you,” Torgerson sighed, leaning her head back on the couch.
“In…love?” Tovar said, cocking his head quizzically. “With me?”
Torgerson stared at him. “Yes. Is that so hard to believe?”
“It is, inasmuch as I haven’t elicited that response from a female before.”
“How about Marsden?”
“That is…different. That was a simple kiss. It meant nothing.”
“It meant far more to her than it did to you.”
Tovar thought about that for a moment. Why did hearing that…hurt? It didn’t hurt when he said the same to Marsden.
“Is that not a good thing?” Tovar asked. “That it didn’t mean anything to me?”
“It doesn’t matter if it did. You hid that from me, Tovar. Why?”
“Because I was afraid you would overreact.”
A tear streamed down Torgerson’s face. “Well, you’re right about that.”
Tovar moved toward the couch, sat down beside Torgerson. “But perhaps it happened for a reason. Maybe it helped you realize you were…in love.”
“And how about you?” Torgerson said. “How do you feel?”
Tovar blinked. “About what?”
Torgerson wiped away a tear. “About me.”
He looked at her a long moment. “I…”
“Bain to Tovar.”
Tovar grimaced as he looked at the ceiling. Not again. “What is it, Captain?”
“I need you in the Captain’s Lounge. We have a new mission and I need your help.”
Tovar sighed. “On my way, sir.”
“Saved by the comm,” Torgerson sighed.
“We’ll talk when this mission is over,” Tovar said. “Do you wish to have dinner tonight?”
“Whatever you want, Tovar,” Togerson said, and stood up, headed for the bathroom. “I’m taking a bubblebath. Then I’m going to come up with some nasty things to do with Lieutenant Marsden.”
“Those nasty things are no doubt against ships regulations,” Tovar said. “You will not do any of them.”
“Of course not,” Torgerson said. “But a girl can dream…”
“Yes,” Tovar said, and left quickly, for fear of saying anything stupid. Well, anything else.
“Hold the lift,” a voice said, as Tovar stepped into the turbolift.
He put his hand out and blocked the door, just as Lieutenant Marsden came around the corner of the corridor and faced him.
“I’ll take the next one,” she said.
“Nonsense. The captain has no doubt called you to speak with him about the upcoming mission as well.”
“That’s right,” Marsden said, and stepped into the lift.
“Then we should share the lift,” Tovar said, staring at his boots.
“Yes we should.”
“Please state destination,” the computer said.
“Oh,” Tovar said. “Deck One.”
Once the turbolift began its upward trip, Marsden looked at Tovar. “You want to talk about it?”
“I’ve done enough talking for today.”
“Right,” Marsden said. “As much as you may believe that’s true, you have no idea how wrong you are.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?” Tovar asked.
“It’s nothing. It’s…meaningless.” And before Tovar could say anything else, the doors opened onto Deck One and Marsden walked out. “You coming?” she asked.
Tovar shuffled out of the lift, feeling very much like he’d rue the day he was born by the end of the day.
“We’re going to the Delta Quadrant to talk a lovelorn omnipotent former human out of destroying a once villainous planet,” Captain Bain said, sipping from his highball rocks, jiggling the blocks of ice in the glass as he paced his library-like lounge.
“I know how she feels,” Marsden muttered, glaring at Tovar.
Tovar rolled his eyes. Of all missions…
“Lieutenant Marsden, your job will be to ascertain what sort of damage is being done to the planet. All we know is that it’s being subjected to severe tectonic distresses. Your job will be to try to find a way to counteract this being’s affect on the planet, incase Tovar and I fail.”
“Fail at what, sir?” Tovar asked, although he feared the worst.
“It’s up to us to talk her out of it, chum,” Bain said, clapping Tovar hard on the shoulder. “I figure, between the two of us, we have enough experience with romance gone afoul to give this mighty woman a good, old fashioned talking-to.”
“No…” Tovar said, backing toward the door. “Please…no…”
“What’s got into you, old boy?” Bain asked. “You’ve never shrunk away from a challenge before.”
“This isn’t a challenge, Captain. It’s impossible,” Tovar said. “It’s impossible!” With that, he backed out of the room and ran off down the corridor.
“Any idea what’s gotten into Tovar, Lieutenant?”
Marsden shrugged. “I haven’t a clue. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll get down to engineering and prepare some seismic stabilizers.”
“I’ll go have a talk with Tovar. See what’s itching him.”
“Good luck with that, sir,” Marsden said, and disappeared down the corridor.
“The captain frowns upon drinking on duty, son,” Captain Bain said with a small smile as he loomed over Tovar, who was leaning against the bar in the quaintly-named “Twain the Keel,” the Anomaly’s authentic British tavern.
Tovar glanced back at Bain. “I was going to have a jinkoberry juice with a slice of lemon.”
“The captain frowns upon that too,” Bain said, pulling up a stool at the bar and sitting beside Tovar. “But not as much as the drinking. Scotty, I’ll have an ale.”
“Aye, Cap’n,” the wizened, white haired, holographic old bartender said, ducking behind the bar.
“You just said the captain frowns upon…” Tovar said.
“I was referring to my subordinates,” Bain said. “I can drink whenever I want. Right, Scotty?”
“Aye, Cap’n,” the bartender replied, sliding a frothy ale down the bar to Bain.
“You are, as always, correct, Captain.”
“If you believe that, then you’ll permit me to give you some advice to get you out of this funk you’re in, old chum.”
“Who says I’m in a funk?” Tovar asked, glaring at Bain.
“Call it the wry observation of a middle-aged man.”
“You don’t know the half of it, Captain,” Tovar sighed. He stared at Bain pleadingly. “I just…I just don’t understand women.”
“Marsie’s a handful, all right,” Bain said with a chortle. “That girl’s a firebrand.”
“I was talking about Lieutenant Torgerson, sir.”
Bain blinked. “Who?”
“The woman I’ve been seeing for over a year now.”
“Right. Torgerson. I’d almost forgotten about her.” Bain rubbed his chin. “You’re still with her?”
“Yes, sir,” Tovar said.
“She’s the ship’s archaeologist, right?”
“Right. Anthropologist. And you’d prefer being with her over being with Lieutenant Marsden.”
“I haven’t thought about it that way, Captain. Jamie is who I’m with now. I’m trying to make that relationship work. This thing with Marsden, it sort of caught me off-guard.”
Bain nodded knowingly. “Ahh. I see,” Bain said. “Playing the field. Keeping your options open. Just like your old man.”
“No!” Tovar snapped. “No, that’s not it at all. Shelly…I mean Lieutenant Marsden and I are professional associates. Nothing more. What happened was just…an accident.”
Tovar rubbed his temples. His mind raced, along with the other consciousnesses, past lives, trapped within him. Totap in particular was dancing a jig in his psyche, and he knew the headache would only get worse as the day went on.
“It’s too complicated to go into right now, sir.”
“Is this that business I read about on the shipwide information net?” Bain asked.
“Very likely so, sir.”
“So what are you waiting for?”
Tovar stared at Bain. “What do you mean?”
“Get out of here. Tell her how you feel.”
“I’ve been trying to. I just don’t know how…”
“Well don’t beat around the bush, boy. A girl like Marsden’s not going to wait around forever.”
“Mars…” Tovar shook his head. He felt dizzy. “No, Captain. Not Marsden. Torgerson.”
Bain chuckled as he sipped his ale. “Isn’t she our astrophysicist?”
“Something like that,” Tovar sighed, and slid off his stool. “Thanks for the chat, Captain.”
“Don’t mention it,” Bain said. “Call me when we get to the Delta Quadrant. I have a good feeling about this mission. I feel like I’m on a roll.”
TWO DAYS LATER
“Entering Flarn space,” Sub-Lieutenant Zantak announced as the
Anomaly sailed into Flarn space, and Bain took his seat in the command area. As he sat down, his elbow almost thunked Ensign Yonk in the head.
“Ensign?” Bain asked, glancing down at the Ferengi. “What are you doing down there by my chair?”
“Putting in a new chair post.”
“And why is that?”
“Commander Prosak’s orders,” Yonk said, just as the aft turbolift doors opened up and Lieutenant Bre’zan Brazzell breezed in, hoisting what looked like a standard-issue command chair. “Executive officers’ chair. Put it right here, Lieutenant!”
Bain glanced over his shoulder at Brazzell, the compulsively-clean Mezzakkan tac-ops officer as he sat the chair down on its post and Yonk secured the connection with a welder. Brazzell then rubbed the chair down with a cloth, and sprayed it numerous times with some sort of disinfectant gel.
“Good show,” the Captain said approvingly, as Commander Vioxx stepped out of his office carrying a padd.
He sat down in his seat on the other side of Bain.
“Captain,” he said disinterestedly as he read his padd. “I take it we’ve entered Flarn space.”
Bain suppressed a grin. “Right you are, Commander.”
“Excellent. I have some staffing changes for you to peruse.”
“In good time, Commander,” Bain said, as the turbolift doors opened again and Prosak walked out.
“No word from Romulus yet,” Prosak said. “But the Carpathia will contact us as soon as they conclude their investigation of Reno.”
“Good,” Bain said. “Have a seat, Commander.”
Prosak allowed a small smile. “Why, thank you, Captain.”
Vioxx didn’t spare a glance at Prosak. “Commander. You left some personal effects in your cabin. Some ancient Romulan songbooks. Metok’s Firstborn Shall Rise Again, full cast version, I believe?”
“I’ll have those things cleared out as soon as possible,” Prosak said sweetly, and took her seat beside Bain. “I’m seated, Captain.”
Vioxx glanced at Bain. “Captain, I recommend we…” He trailed off as he saw Prosak sitting on the other side. “What’s this?”
“I installed another seat,” Prosak said. “I hope you don’t mind. This way, we can both advise Captain Bain.”
“I believe having the Executive Officer and the First Officer on the bridge at the same time represents a redundancy in command that is inefficient,” Vioxx said crisply.
“I like it,” Bain said, and shoved out of his seat. “Mister Tovar, ring up the Flarn. Let’s see what this caper is all about.”
Tovar nodded and began work at his panel.
“Zantak, how about you bring us into a nice, standard orbit,” Bain said, as Kasyov stepped out onto the bridge and took her seat at sciences. “And Doctor Kasyov, please give me a reading on surface activity. Seismic scans at maximum.”
Vioxx put his padd down on the arm of his chair and folded his hands in his lap. “Zantak, monitor ship movements in the area.”
“There are no other ships in the area,” Zantak said.
“I see. Keep me posted.”
“Of course, Commander.”
“Feeling useless?” Prosak asked.
“Not at all,” Vioxx replied. “Doctor Kasyov, how are those scans coming?”
Kasyov seemed oblivious of any tension that had arisen on the bridge. “Seismic waves are off the charts. Several tremors have split the crust of the planet open in scattered areas along the equator and the northern peninsula. I’m reading widespread destruction to buildings on all six continents. Electromagnetic waves are off the charts.”
“Any idea of the cause?” Prosak asked.
“According to our mission briefing, that would be an omnipotent being,” Kasyov said.
“Obviously,” sneered Vioxx.
“Mister Tovar?” Bain asked.
“Having difficulty establishing a signal,” Tovar said. “There’s a lot of damage down there. Local communications channels are chaotic. There are no direct lines to the planetary leadership.”
“Can we locate the little deity doing all this damage?” Bain asked.
Kasyov’s hands raced along her panel. “There’s definitely an epicenter to all this. The highest energy readings are emanating from a large, complex structure about one hundred kilometers south of the planet’s equator.”
“That must be the seat of Flarn leadership,” Bain reasoned. “That’s where we need to go.” He headed toward the back of the bridge. “Mister Tovar, you’re with me. Bain to Marsden. Meet us in Transporter Room One.”
“Captain,” Vioxx said, rising from his chair. “There’s widespread damage happening down on that planet. Do you not think it’s wise to study this phenomenon more before we send you down there? Perhaps we could broadcast a hologrammatic signal…”
“Mister Vioxx, if you learn nothing else about me, you must know that Reginald Bain is no coward. And I’m not going to shy away from some being just because she may happen to be omnipotent. That’s never stopped me before. Tovar, let’s go.”
“But,” Vioxx said.
“I believe the captain has spoken,” Prosak said. As Vioxx turned to face the RommaVulc, he was irritated to find her sitting in the command chair. “And I believe I have the bridge.”
“Wait one second!” Vioxx growled.
“Have a safe trip, Captain. We’ll keep things together up here.” As Bain and Tovar disappeared into the turbolift, Prosak flashed her two, spread, middle fingers at Vioxx–the RommaVulc kiss-off.
“I’ll be in my office,” Vioxx said, and marched into the aft cabin.
“Enjoy!” Prosak called after him.
“Did I mention you two make an excellent couple?” Captain Bain asked, as he, Tovar, and Marsden materialized on the surface of Flarn Prime.
“You did not mention it,” Tovar said. “Nor will you.”
They were in the middle of a massive Flarn palace, with ceilings arched and multicolored, riding high above them, ringed with arches and buttresses as far as the eye could see. Bain reasoned everything was so big because the Flarn were so big. It made sense that they would have large furniture, also.
“Now why would you say such a thing?” Marsden asked, flipping the eye-piece down on her quadcorder headset.
“Just an observation,” Bain said innocently, glancing around the palace. Every few seconds, he could feel a shaking beneath his feet. It was just enough to rattle the building, sending the occasional vase crashing to the floor, the occasional statue (of very nasty, huge, taloned creatures) toppling over. “What’s say we fix this problem sooner rather than later?” Bain asked as he watched a painting smash to the ground after another quake.
Marsden checked her visor. “She’s that way. Putting off an energy signature that’s off the charts.”
Tovar lifted his wrist, and his phaser emitter immediately swung out.
“I think that may be a tad unnecessary, Mister Tovar,” Bain said. “What with this woman being omnipotent, and all.”
“Ssssssssssssmall creaturessssssssss!” a voice shrieked, prompting Bain to turn his head.
“Egads!” he cried out, aiming his wrist at the massive, scaled thing. His own phaser emitter swung out, and primed itself with a loud whine.
The collassal creature, nearly twice the height of Bain, clattered up on spindly legs and loomed over the away team, waving its claws. “Are we glad to ssssssssssssssssssssssee you. I’m Executive Assistant Umbrok, and I’ll be esssssssssssscorting you to the ssssssssssssssssssite of extreme ssssssssssssssssorrow.”
“Sorrow?” Tovar asked.
“Yessssssssss. It is the place where our vengeful, angry goddesssssssssss has decided, in her infinite wisssssssssssssssssssdom to destroy ussssss.”
“Show us the way,” Bain said cheerily, withdrawing his wrist phaser and falling into step behind the huge Umbrok. “Company manners,” he whispered to Tovar.
“Forgive me if I’m out of place suggesting this,” Marsden said, walking beside Umbrok. “But have you even tried to, you know, blow her up?”
“Such an attempt would be folley. Mega is omnipotent.”
“Right,” she said. “Just asking.”
Umbrok suddenly stopped walking. “You haven’t come to blow her up, have you?”
“Not at all,” Bain said. “We’re from Starfleet. We reason with people.”
“Yesssssssssssss,” Umbrok said. “I’ve heard of your kind. Some delicioussssssssss storiessssssss.”
“I don’t know if I’d call them delicious, but I suppose that’s as good a description as any,” Bain said easily. “And how has your species been over the last…few centuries?”
“We have carried out the good work and the will of the goddess Mega. That is all we know. It is all we are capable of. Performing according to her divine will.”
“And her divine will seems to be crushing you at the moment,” Tovar pointed out.
“If sssssssssssshe willssssssssss it, then that is how it must be,” Umbrok said.
Bain nodded. “You’re sure you don’t mind giving us a chance to talk her out of it, then?”
“Go right ahead!” Umbrok said quickly, gesturing the group through a doorway. “I’ll jusssssssst wait out here.”
“What are you so afraid of?” Tovar asked.
“You’ll see,” Umbrok said, and shoved the heavy stone door to the room shut.
The room was smaller than the other chambers Bain had seen in the palace. It was ornately decorated though, with a myriad of colorful stained glass windows and many-splendored metallic charms hanging on the wall. This was definitely some kind of room of religious observance. It fit the away team comfortably, but could only possibly provide room for one or two Flarn.
Tovar scanned the small room. “Where is she?”
Bain shrugged. “Umbrok wasn’t very clear about that, was he?”
Suddenly, a door panel opened on one of the side walls, and out stepped a slight, fair-skinned female with long brown hair and brown eyes, dressed in a tight, white, ankle length dress that was slit up the side.
“Oh,” she said. “Hello!”
“Greetings,” Bain said, extending a hand. “Reginald Bain.”
“Mega,” the woman said simply, reaching out and shaking Bain’s hand. “Hmm. Human. Very nice. I see my old species is evolving along nicely.”
“I’m glad you approve,” Bain said. “We thought we’d caught you while you were… out on an appointment or something.”
“I was in the bathroom, if you must know,” Mega said with a chuckle.
“The what?” Marsden blurted. “Aren’t you…omnipotent?”
Mega shrugged. “Some habits are hard to break. I had to have the room installed. Flarn bathrooms are…well…let me just say the last thing you want to do when you sit down is get impaled through the midsection. Know what I mean?”
“Not in the slightest,” Bain said with a blank smile. “So. How are things?”
“Hmm?” Mega asked distractedly. “Oh, fine.”
“And with you?” she asked, as Tovar glared at her suspiciously.
“Just fine. Exploring the galaxy. Improving the depth and breadth of human accomplishment. That old thing.”
Mega nodded. “Exploration. Yep. I know it well.”
“So…” Bain looked around idly. “We hear you’re destroying a civilization.”
“Yep.” Mega walked over to the window sill and hitched herself up on it, staring out at the crumbling countryside outside. “And it’s taking a long time. Can’t bring myself to do it all in one fell swoop. Guess I’ve just grown attached to this crazy culture.”
“Why try to destroy them at all?” Tovar asked.
Mega glared daggers at Tovar, her eyes suddenly going fiery red. “BECAUSE I AM PISSED OFF!”
With just that glance, Tovar went flying, slamming into the wall behind him and falling to the floor in a heap. Marsden rushed to his side.
“Don’t get any ideas,” she whispered. “I’d be just as concerned if you were Bain.”
“Noted,” Tovar said, dazed, as a bit of blood trickled out of the side of his mouth.
Bain glanced back at Tovar, then turned quickly to Mega. “Why did you do that?”
“Do I need to repeat myself?”
“Please don’t. We realize we’re angry. We want to talk to you about it…”
“OH!” Mega said, clapping her hands to her face. “You want to counsel me! I’m honored! It’s been a long time since that’s happened.”
“No. We’re not here to counsel,” Bain said, as Marsden helped Tovar to his feet. “Counseling was abolished forty years ago.”
Mega arched an eyebrow. “Really? Cool.”
“We just want to save the Flarn.”
“Humanoids wanting to save the Flarn,” Mega said wryly. “Now THAT’S a laugh. There are a few people from my past who might have found that funny.”
“People like Mister Mirk?” Bain asked.
Mega glared at Bain. “How do you know that name?”
“I did some research before we came here. Into your past life.”
“I have no past,” Mega said. “I am only as you see me now. Eternal. Omnipotent…”
“Fisherman’s daughter from Rigel Four?” Bain suggested.
“No,” Mega said distantly. “That’s not me anymore. Maybe it was, a long time ago.” She suddenly regained her composure, and leveled a steely gaze on Bain. “Now then, why are you really here?”
“Simply put, to stop you. To talk some good old fashioned sense into you.”
“Ha. I see,” Mega said, twirling a finger through her hair. “I suppose the Flarn thought sending humans might appeal to my sense of…”
“Humanity?” Tovar suggested.
“Mercy,” said Mega. “But it’s funny they should think of mercy at a time like this. After torturing this poor quadrant for such a long while. Yes, it’s safe to say this culture was like a bad marriage until I made it right. Now if I could just make my bad marriage right…”
“Look,” Bain said. “We’re not here to get involved in your affairs…”
“Actually,” Marsden said, “I think we are.”
“Shh,” Bain said, and looked back at Marsden. “Why don’t you set about finding a way to stop this madness?”
“Sir, she’s omnipotent. I’m pretty sure she can hear what we’re saying.”
Bain glanced back at Mega, who smiled knowingly.
“You want to stop the madness, eh?” she asked. “Fine, then. Tell Mirk I want a divorce. Make him leave me alone. Then I’ll leave the Flarn alone.”
“A…divorce?” Bain said. “Is that really what you want?”
“I’m tired of being with him,” Mega said, folding her arms and turning away from Bain. “It’s been more than a century. I’m bored now. I need something new.”
“Pardon me for saying so,” Bain said. “But marriage is eternal. Even more so, considering you are…eternal.”
“Sure!” Mega said. “To death do us part is an easy gig if you’re actually capable of dying! But what about me? It’s been twelve decades! We’ve run out of things to talk about. The only thing that brings me even the slightest joy anymore is bossing around the Flarn. And even that is growing tiresome. Hence, this little apocalypse.”
“Can I make a suggestion?” Marsden said, stepping up beside Bain.
“You’ve found a way to counteract her seismic energy?” Bain asked.
“No,” Marsden said. “That’s pretty much hopeless.” She flipped up the lense on her quadcorder and looked at Bain. “We need this Mirk guy. She’s not going to be happy until he faces up to his action and talks things out with her.” She glanced at Tovar. “Believe me, I know what I’m talking about.”
Mega walked toward Marsden. “You do, don’t you, dear?” she asked. “You understand me, don’t you?” She gently touched Marsden’s cheek and rubbed it.
“Well…I know what it’s like to be hurt. Yes.”
Mega pushed Marsden’s face away suddenly and violently, nearly knocking her over. “I AM NOT HURT!”
Marsden stumbled against the wall behind her, but then righted herself, and walked right back up to face Mega. “YES…YOU…ARE! You won’t get anywhere until you admit that. I know you try to put up a valiant front. Angry is better than sad. Keep those shields raised. Believe me, I know. But that attitude doesn’t hurt anyone but yourself.”
“You’re starting to love him, aren’t you, my poor dear,” Mega said softly, so soft that Tovar and Bain couldn’t hear.
Marsden gritted her teeth. “We’re here to talk about you. Not me.”
“I’m so sorry,” Mega hissed. “He’s not ready for you. He’s confused.”
“This has nothing to do with why we’re here.” Marsden leaned toward Mega. “Besides, I don’t like him anyway.”
“Keep telling yourself that, honey,” Mega giggled. Her face then became serious again. “So, I’m hurting. I admit it. You want to know why?”
“Sure. If it helps.”
“Because I don’t think he wants to spend eternity with me,” Mega said softly, and leaned her head on Marsden’s shoulder. “I think he wishes he wasn’t omnipotent anymore. He just spends all his time on Malox, his home planet, now. He pretends he’s one of them. That he’s normal. He moves from town to town, just being a mortal, because he’s tired of spending eternity with me. That’s why I left him. That’s why I came here!”
As Mega and Marsden talked soundlessly, their mouths moving but no apparent words coming out, Bain and Tovar exchanged confused glances.
“Can you hear me, Captain?” Tovar asked.
“Loud and clear, chum.”
“Good,” Tovar said. “So we’re not deaf.”
“Nope.” Bain sighed. “But it appears what the deity and Lieutenant Marsden have to talk about is for their ears only.”
“Does this mean we can beam back up to the ship?”
“Absolutely not! We’re going to see this bugger through.”
Suddenly, all the quakes stopped. The planet turned eerily still.
Marsden and Mega stopped talking, then hugged. And Marsden turned around and headed over to Bain and Tovar.
“Captain, you’re to beam over to the Anomaly immediately. Go to the fourth planet in the Malox system. Find Mirk. Bring him here.”
“He’s omnipotent!” Bain said. “Why doesn’t he come here himself?”
“Because he’s hiding.”
“Good idea,” Tovar said. “I’ll just return with you, Captain.”
Marsden latched her hand onto Tovar’s wrist. “Oh, no you don’t. You’re staying with me.”
Mega glared evilly at Tovar through narrowed eyes. “Because we’re going to have a little chat with you, Mister. That’s why.”
“Right, then. See you in two shakes, Tovar!” Bain said cheerily. “Bain to Anomaly. One to beam up. Energize!”
“I knew it,” Commander Vioxx said, seated in his customary place to the left of Bain. “My calculations were correct.”
Bain turned to look at Vioxx. “What calculations?”
Vioxx handed a padd to Bain. “Observe for yourself. Her chair is point seven centimeters later than mine. It is also one point four centimeters taller.”
“Funny,” Bain said. “Want to trade chairs, Commander? Would that set things right for you?”
“No. The left hand seat is definitely the position of power.”
Bain arched his eyebrow at Vioxx. “Does it really matter?”
“Of course not,” Vioxx said. “I am an adult. I do not care for such things.” He tapped some information into the padd and set it down beside him. “I will have Sub-Lieutenant Zantak make the appropriate enhancements to my chair after she goes off-shift.”
“Splendid. I wouldn’t want a disgruntled first officer aboard.”
“Perish the thought,” Vioxx said. “Speaking of Prosak, where is she?”
“Moving into her new quarters on Deck Five,” Bain said.
“Deck Five,” Vioxx said. “That’s where my quarters are.”
“Yes. I believe she is moving in next door to you.” Bain chuckled. “Should be a hoot.”
“Yes,” Vioxx said dully. “Hoot.”
“Captain,” Zantak called out from the helm. “We are approaching the fourth planet in the Malox system.”
“Standard orbit,” Bain said. “I’ll be beaming down.”
“I suggest you at least bring a security escort with you,” Vioxx suggested. “I’m sure Centurion Nortal can…”
“Capital idea!” Bain said, rapping Vioxx on the shoulder. The Commander grimaced. “I could use the company. That settles it. You’ll beam down with me. Zantak, why don’t you call down to Commander Prosak and have her come up here and watch the bridge.”
“No!” Vioxx said, following Bain into the turbolift. “I mean, I believe there are other officers better suited to…”
“Nah,” Bain said. “I think you and I could stand to spend some more time together. Develop a healthy understanding of each other.” He clapped Vioxx on the shoulder again. “Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Yes…Captain,” Vioxx said dejectedly.
“This is incredibly mature, Lieutenant,” Tovar said, staring at Marsden and Mega, his arms folded. “You don’t get your way, so you bring in an omnipotent being.”
“He catches on fast, dear,” Mega said, leaning forward and pinching Tovar’s cheek. “And you’re right. He’s absolutely adorable. Back in my human days, I’d have probably bought him a drink in the bar. Of course, back in my human days, the bartender was Mirk. He’d have frowned on that. The boy always did have a thing for me. I’ll never understand why…”
“Fascinating,” Marsden said, glaring at Mega. “But that’s not why we’re here.”
The deity straightened. “Quite right, Lieutenant.” She winked at Tovar. “We’re here to clear the air.”
“What air?” Tovar asked innocently. “The air is fine. I like the air just how it is.”
“Piddling fool,” Mega spat. “Don’t try to feign stupidity with me!”
“I wasn’t feigning it,” Tovar said in a small voice. He looked sidelong at Marsden. “I just…I like Shelly. I really do. But I have someone else.”
“Break up with her,” Mega said easily.
“Wait one second,” Marsden said, turning to face Mega. “That isn’t what we discussed.”
“I’m all-powerful. You really think I need to waste time trying to build a consensus?” Mega asked archly. “You forget, I see all and know all. And trust me, you two are made for each other.”
“Mind if I make that determination myself?” Tovar asked.
“Your ‘determinations’ are entirely off the mark,” Mega said. “If I weren’t in a better mood, I’d remove your decision-making capabilities altogether. They’ve done nothing but get you into trouble.”
“She’s got a point,” Marsden said. “Things have been screwy ever since we kissed and you got all wierd.”
“I didn’t get ‘wierd,’” Tovar said. “I just created some…space.”
“And turned off your feelings?” Mega asked, turning around and leaning back on Tovar’s shoulder. She looked up into his eyes. “Is it really that easy, babe?”
“The feelings I know you have for Ms. Marsden. The beautiful female…hehe…engineer.”
Tovar looked at Marsden. For the first time, probably since their kiss, he wanted to open up. To level with her. “Shelly, I….in different circumstances, I think that we…”
“What different circumstances?” Marsden fairly exploded. “What circumstances would you prefer?”
“I can make some new circumstances, if that’s what you want,” Mega said wistfully, slipping behind Tovar and wrapping her arms around him. “My, you have a nice, strong chest.”
“No kidding,” Marsden said.
“I am not a piece of raw jorvat meat!”
“No. You’re not corrosive to human skin, for one thing,” Mega said. “For another, you’ve got a brain. You just don’t know how to use it sometimes. Face it, kid. You’re in a loveless relationship right now. You have the option of getting into a relationship that has at least a chance of love. How freaking easy to I really have to make it for you?”
Marsden stared at Tovar long and hard, as his mouth opened and closed helplessly. She sighed, then stared at the floor. “Forget about it. He obviously doesn’t want to be with me. And, frankly, I’m tired of this…this chase. It’s not my style.” She looked up at Tovar, and this time her eyes showed no sign of hurt. They showed only grim determination. “Do what you want, Tovar. I’ll be fine either way.”
“Good,” Mega said, clapping her hands together. “Now that’s settled. Now how about we get my Mirkles and put an end on this, once and for all.” She waved her hands in front of her, and in an instant, Bain, Vioxx, and Mirk flashed into existence.
“What’s this?” Bain asked, looking around. “We were just about to sit down to some barbecue!”
“There will be time for barbecue later, Captain,” Mirk said, smiling as he walked toward Mega. “I have a feeling my wife is ready to talk to me.”
“I know I was supposed to wait for time to expire, Mirkles, but I just couldn’t bare to. This little exercise is just so darn frustrating!” She pulled Mirk into her arms and kissed him long and hard on the mouth.
“Could someone please explain this to me?” Vioxx asked desperately.
Everyone looked at Marsden.
“Don’t look at me,” Marsden snapped. “I thought they were at each other’s throats.”
“No,” Tovar said, and watched as Mirk and Mega kissed. “I think we’ve just played a part in an elaborate fantasy.”
As they kissed, Mirk extended his arm and gave Tovar a “thumbs up.”
“It appears your surmise is correct, lad,” Bain said. “This whole time, our two godlike friends have been spicing up their marraige. Sort of like Ros and I do when we play Ferengi Pirate and Spanish Matador.”
“Please, no more…” Vioxx said softly. “Mercy…”
Finally, Mirk and Mega separated from their kiss and looked at the Anomaly crewmembers.
“We’ve been married for nearly two centuries,” Mega said, pulling Mirk close to her and hugging him tightly. “Believe me when I tell you, it pays to invent an argument every once in a while to keep things interesting. Besides…how else can you get to make-up sex?”
“Still…” Tovar said. “Make-up sex aside….you’ve taken this planet to the brink of destruction!”
“Oh, did I?” Mega asked, as a smile wrinkled her nose. “Look out the window.”
Bain and Tovar stepped out toward the window, and looked out, in awe, at Flarn Prime. Its landscape was lavish and sunbaked, painted in vibrant ochre and orange tones. And completely in one piece.
“Just like that?” Tovar asked. “You wave a hand, and everything is right with the world again?”
“Actually, I didn’t wave my hand,” Mega said with a giggle. “But I could have, for effect, you know.”
“This was certainly a useless mission,” Vioxx observed.
“No, I don’t think so,” Mega said, hooking her arm around Mirk’s, and looking from Tovar to Marsden. “I don’t think it was useless at all.”
“Thanks for your help,” Mirk said, kissing Mega on the cheek. “Sorry to bother you. We promise we won’t be a bit of trouble, at least for the next couple generations.”
“Be good to each other,” Mega said, waving a taunting finger at Tovar. She giggled again, then her and Mirk disappeared in a bright, white flash.
That left the away team staring at each other in dismay.
“I believe Mister Vioxx may be right in this case,” Bain said. “I think we came all this way for nothing.”
Then, suddenly, another bright white flash filled the room, and when the light died down, a massive Flarn stood in front of the Anomaly officers, his claws pinching together in frustration.
“What’sssssssss this? What happened?” he hissed.
“Long story, old chap,” Bain said. “I’ll tell you over an ale.”
Chancellor Lotok looked around the room, his massive jaws downturned into a frown. “Where’sssssssss Mega? Where’sssssss the Goddess of all Flarn?”
Bain patted him gently on the talon. “Hate to break it to you, but I believe your Goddess has bid you a permanent goodbye.”
“But…what am I to do with our ssssssssssociety? We are helplesssssssss without the great Mega.”
“Rubbish!” Bain chuckled. “You’re free to do whatever you want. You possess the greatest gift any species can have. The right of self determination. Use it, friend. I promise, you won’t be sorry.”
“Perhapssssssssssss you’re right,” Lotok said, staring at Bain, his pupils contracting tightly as he studied the human captain. “I don’t know how you all got here, but would you like to ssssssssssssssssstay for dinner.”
“I’m afraid not. Places to be!” Bain said. “Good luck with…everything, chap. I’m sure we’ll speak again. Bain to Anomaly. Energize.”
Lotok looked on with silent wonder as the humanoids beamed away in a blue dazzle. They resembled Mega in most respects, but he sensed nothing of the great power that she possessed in them. They were much more like the other humanoids of the quadrant. So gentle, so peaceful…so fragile and vulnerable. And so very, very tasty.
Lotok skittered over to the companel by the door to the prayer room. “Lotok to Umbrok! Prepare a memo immediately for disssssssssstribution to the Flarn populace. We’re back! The Flarn are back!”
Stardate 177738.5. After an…interesting…jaunt to the Delta Quadrant, I am pleased to report the Anomaly is headed back to the roost. I can’t say that our mission to stop omnipotents from terrorizing the Flarn was terribly effective, but it’s safe to say we changed some minds among the Flarn. It’s just nice to go somewhere and truly feel like you’ve made a difference. It’s nice to know you’ve done some good.
Lieutenant Torgerson was right about one thing. A bubble bath was just what Tovar needed.
Tovar sat now, amidst mounds of bubbles, contemplating the words of Torgerson, Marsden, and even the goddess Mega, in hopes that he could perhaps figure out what to do.
He was at a loss. Fighting with himself.
His rational side told him that Torgerson had been a generous and attentive mate. She was physically attractive, was an excellent conversationalist, and shared many of his interests.
Marsden, on the other hand…
Well, she was Marsden.
Tovar sunk deeper into the bubbles. What did that mean? Could he name any one aspect of her he truly liked? Could he put words to his feelings? If not, were they not then completely useless?
She was just…Marsden.
And, in spite of that, Tovar thought, as he sunk deeper, he felt he was starting to love her, for better or worse.
Then that was that.
He would have to talk with Torgerson as soon as he got out of the tub. There was no way around it.
“Bain to Tovar. Report to the bridge immediately.”
Then again, there was always Captain Bain.
Tovar was still a little damp as he walked out onto the bridge, his uniform clinging a little more snug than usual in some places. The sight of three command chairs was still a little hard to get used to. Vioxx, Bain, and Prosak all turned to look at Tovar as he took his station.
“What’s going on?” he asked as he checked sensors.
“We just received word from the Carpathia, son,” Bain began. “A Vulcan fleet has entered the Neutral Zone, cutting us off entirely from the Romulan Empire.”
“Apparently, nobody is allowed in or out,” Vioxx added, somewhat obviously.
Prosak glared at him, then looked back at Tovar. “We’re to rendez-vous with the Carpathia as part of a Federation task force.”
Tovar stared blankly at the viewscreen, as the stars rushed forward..
“Seems like the Vulcans are finally playing their hole card,” Bain snorted. “If we don’t do something to stop them, they’ll make a move on Romulus.”
“What are we going to do?” Tovar asked blankly.
“Raise the bet,” Bain said. “Raise the bet, and call.”
It’s crisis time for the Romulan Empire as the Vulcans make a long-awaited move. But the Anomaly may not be in a position to help, because there are bigger issues at hand. How much bigger? How about an insane goddess trying to destroy the Flarn Empire, deep in the Delta Quadrant? It’s funny who you run into out in space, and Reginald Bain is about to find that out in “God Complex.”