Star Traks: Boldly Gone... was created by Alan Decker and Anthony Butler. It's based on Star Traks, which in turn is based on Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry. Star Trek is owned by CBS, Paramount and Viacom. If you're offended by mildly disturbing language, situations, and the utter disregard of some of Star Trek's greatest premises, not to mention a huge jump 120 years into Star Trek's future, better hit the 'Back' button on your browser right now. If not, welcome aboard!

Author: Alan Decker, Anthony Butler
Copyright: 2010

STAR TRAKS: BOLDLY GONE…

“Welcome To The Hotel California”

By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler



TWENTY YEARS AGO…


Reginald Bain, Molder of Minds.

That had a nice ring to it.

And here Starfleet thought that banishing him to Waystation Prime to be a Starfleet Scouts camp counselor would be a punishment.

Admittedly, Bain hadn’t taken the news well at first. There he was, flush from victory against an almost overwhelming adversary, only to be told that said adversary, a truly nasty automated battle droid the size of a small moon and literally bristling with weaponry of all sorts, was a top secret Starfleet Intelligence planetary defense project.

In Bain’s view, if it was that important, it shouldn’t have been left out in an uncharted system…or at least a system his ship’s computer claimed was uncharted. And it should have responded to hails. And it shouldn’t have fired back.

In the interest of full disclosure, Bain could have responded to the hails from Starfleet Command he started receiving once the battle was joined, but he really didn’t like talking to the Admiralty in the middle of combat.

So he and the noble crew of his vessel, the USS Maladventure, destroyed the planetary defense droid and years of work along with it. In response, Starfleet Command, in their infinite wisdom, sent Bain here to Waystation Prime where they hoped teaching youngsters about the joys of life in Starfleet would remind the captain a bit about how to be a proper Starfleet officer.

He supposed it could have been worse. More than likely his old friend, Admiral Kristen Larkin, had intervened on his behalf and prevented him from being busted back to ensign. He’d have to thank her for that next time he saw her.

In the meantime, he had minds to mold.

Bain had gathered the campers inside one of Waystation Prime’s holodecks, which was currently simulating the bridge of the USS Enterprise. The original. No bloody A, B, C, D, E, F, G, or H. But after the refit of 2271.

“So there he was, up against a man who was supposedly superior to him in every way, but Kirk had one thing on his side that Khan didn’t. You know what that was?”

“A loyal crew!”

“A super-smart Vulcan!”

“More realistic pectoral muscles!”

“Starfleet training!”

Bain nodded at this last one. “Yes, but there’s more to it than that. Everyone at the Academy gets Starfleet training. And it’s the best the universe. But only some are able to command a starship. You’ve got to have the instincts. Kirk looked at the situation he was faced with and knew exactly how to play it. He goaded Khan into chasing the Enterprise into the Mutara Nebula, where both ships would be evenly matched.”

Just as Bain was getting to his favorite part of the story, his eyes landed on a boy at the back of the bridge. Dark hair. Not quite human. Betazoid perhaps? Maybe Yynsian. He looked…sad. Worse than that, he looked bored.

Bored? BORED?

Bain would just see about that. He leapt to his feet from the command chair and began to play to the crowd, walking among his seated charges.

“Now think about this lads and ladies. The nebula swirling around your ship. Hundreds of lives in your hands. An extremely intelligent adversary out there in the mists. No shields. And neither of you can see much of anything. Yes, you may have made your ships equal by coming in here, but have you truly evened the odds?” He’d reached his quarry. “Have you, my boy?”

Startled, the child’s eyes looked up at him, wide with something approaching terror. “I…I…”

“What’s your name, lad?”

“Tovar.”

Bain smiled, instantly causing the boy to relax. “Why don’t you sit down?” he said, gesturing toward the command chair.

“There?” Tovar said with alarm. Instantly, several other boys and girls began clamoring to take his place.

“There,” Bain said gently, reaching a hand down to the seated boy, who reluctantly took it. Bain hoisted Tovar to his feet, put an arm around the boy’s shoulder, and walked him over to the command chair.

“Center seat is…well…central,” Bain said, stepping behind the chair as Tovar slid into it. “As captain, all eyes are on you, and your decisions may mean the difference between life and death. You’ve got a madman with a super-weapon out there. What do you do?”

Tovar froze. Do? How should he know what to do? He was a twelve-year-old kid. Not some highly-trained Starfleet…

But suddenly he did know what to do. A tiny little voice, far fainter than the one who had emerged at his last Seratch, told him everything.

“Khan is from the 20th Century. He’s not used to fighting in space. I could use that against him. Try going over or under Khan to get behind him.”

The older man patted him warmly on the shoulder. “You’ve heard this story, eh?”

“No. Never,” Tovar said.

“Capital!” Bain said. “And you’re exactly right! Kirk maneuvered the Enterprise in behind that blighter and gave him a good what for!”

“What for?” Tovar asked.

“Precisely!” He continued on, finishing the story of Khan’s defeat just as the campers were summoned to dinner. The children raced out of the holodeck excitedly, all except Tovar, who seemed to be taking his time leaving the Enterprise’s command chair.

“Feeling comfortable there?” Bain asked kindly.

“I…” Honestly, there was part of him that felt comfortable. But mostly… “No. It’s just different.”

“No captains in your family then, I take it,” Bain said as Tovar got up from the chair.

“Mine? No. My mom’s an engineer and dad’s a… He works in an office for the Yynsian government doing…something.”

“So your mum is what got you interested in Starfleet. Very good. Very good. Starfleet Engineers are some of the finest people in the fleet. Absolutely amazing what they can do. My Chief Engineer on the Maladventure can…”

“She’s not Starfleet.”

“Ah. Right. Well…nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to come from a Starfleet family to want to join up. So tell me, my boy, what was it that first set fire to your imagination and made you want to be a Starfleet Scout.”

“I’m not.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m not a Starfleet Scout,” Tovar said.

“But this is a Starfleet Scout camp,” Bain said confused.

“I know,” Tovar said, clearly not thrilled with that particular fact.

“Not to pry then, lad, but what are you doing here?”

“Mom and Dad were going to Multos…again, and with Grandma and Grandpa gone, they had to do something with me. Somebody in Dad’s office was able to get me into the camp, so they dumped me off here on the way to their vacation.”

“So you have no interest in Starfleet?”

“Um…not really,” Tovar said hesitantly.

Bain smiled and again wrapped his arm around the boy’s shoulder. “We’ll just see about that!”


TWENTY YEARS LATER…


“Well just see about that!” Captain Reginald Bain exclaimed.

Only this time the circumstances were a wee bit different. Due to events that Bain still didn’t fully understand, he and his current ship, the USS Anomaly, had fallen into some kind of subspace rift or pocket dimension or some such rot where they had discovered the worlds of the Multek Enclave, which had vanished from the galaxy two decades earlier, taking Tovar’s parents along with it.

Tovar’s reunion with his blood relatives was on Bain’s list of concerns, but the captain had a few others that were of higher priority.

First, the Allegra, which had gone for help with Commander Vioxx and several other crewmembers, had not come back.

Second, the Anomaly had been smashed, bashed, and otherwise trashed by their abrupt entry into whatever this space was.

Third, the Multeks, under their leader Frequoq Wurlitz, had no intention of allowing the Federation ship to leave.

It was this last tidbit that had drawn the aforementioned exclamation out of Captain Bain.

“If these buggers think that they can hold Reginald Bain, they are sorely mistaken. Or they will be sore when I’m through with them.

His wife, Rosalyn, sighed slightly. “You can’t take on the whole planet single-handedly dear.”

“I’ve done it before.”

“Yes. And it took the Federation Diplomatic Corps three years to get the Kalawadi to speak to us again.”

“If that lot was so sensitive, they shouldn’t have tried to imprison me. Same goes for these Multeks. This cage will not hold Reginald Bain!”

“Just hit the ball, darling.”

“Yes, dearest.”

Bain swung his club, connecting solidly with the golf ball, which sailed several hundred yards into the distance.

“Lovely drive, Reginald, but the little windmill is right here.”

“Woah!” Lieutenant Shelly Marsden exclaimed as she approached the pair. “That was some…you got that kind of distance with a putter!”

The captain eyed the club in his hand with disgust. “How a man is supposed to vent his frustrations playing mini-golf is beyond me.”

“Golf is designed to cause frustrations, not help them,” Marsden said.

“Then what the devil are we doing out here?” Bain thundered.

“I thought getting some air might help you get your mind off things,” Rosalyn said. While she was coming across as calm, she shared the same concerns as her husband. Her adopted son, whom she loved as ferociously as her own daughters, was meeting the parents he lost years ago. She was cut off from her other children. And she didn’t have the resources of Section 31 at her disposal to help her get the Anomaly back to normal space.

This was something of the proverbial double-edged sword. She could certainly use Section 31’s assistance at the moment. But it was incredibly liberating to know that she was beyond their reach and that the computer built into her Section 31 uniform, which was currently buried in a drawer in their cabin on the Anomaly, was completely useless. That left her to focus on Reginald and Tovar. She just wasn’t sure which one needed her more right now.

“It is beautiful out here,” Marsden said, appreciating the view. This particular mini-golf course was situated on a grassy Multek-made plateau just outside of the Multek Enclave’s capital city on Multos. The city sprawled out before them full of gleaming buildings, twisting tram tracks full of dips and curves, and, in the distance on the opposite end of the metropolis from their position, a massive roller coaster.

Long ago, the Multeks had concluded that they were the only life in the universe and focused on making their lives and planets as joyful as possible. Meeting alien life had been a shock to them, but they had eventually adjusted and opened their worlds to tourism, quickly becoming one of the galaxy’s top travel destinations. And then one day they just vanished.

“It’s a prison, Marsie. Don’t forget that,” Bain said.

“It’s a lot nicer than the other prisons I’ve been in,” Marsden said.

“What’s our status?” Bain snapped, gripping the putter in his hands.

“Not much better than before,” the Anomaly’s Chief Engineer reported. “Life support has been stabilized. Transporters are functional, but comms are still erratic. That’s why I beamed down.”

“Is it?” Rosalyn asked knowingly.

“I…wanted to check if you’d heard from Tovar,” Marsden said, exchanging a glance with Rosalyn.

“No. We haven’t heard a thing,” Bain said.

“He hasn’t seen his mother or father in twenty years. He might want to talk to them for more than an hour before contacting us,” Rosalyn said.

“I’m sure he’s fine,” Marsden said unconvincingly.

“Was he looking forward to meeting them again?” Rosalyn asked.

“He didn’t really say. I mean they’re his family…”

“We’re his family,” Bain said.

“I know,” Rosalyn said.

“I can’t think about this now,” Bain said, with an almost growl. “We’ve got to focus on getting out of here. Still nothing from the Allegra, I gather?”

“No,” Marsden replied.

“It’s been almost two days. Where the bloody hell are they? Any chance we can go after them?”

“We’ve scrounged up all of the usable dilithium from the raceabouts and shuttles just to get us minimal warp drive. We still don’t have any weapons or shields. If the Allegra ran into trouble, we won’t be much help. And we don’t have speed on our side, either. The anti-sing repairs are going to require a spacedock.”

“We’ll just have to get out of here without it, then.”

“That’s the problem,” Marsden said. “From what Natalia and I have been able to piece together, the anti-singularity drive is what got us here in the first place. Multek space is slightly out of phase with the rest of the universe. With the anti-sing drive engaged, we were out of phase as well, but not quite exactly lined up with either.”

“You’ve lost me,” Bain said.

“When we hit the border of Multek space, or where Multek space was in our universe, at anti-sing speeds, we were partially in both normal space and this out of phase space at the same time. The system couldn’t handle it and overloaded, dumping us here. We could have just as easily ended up in normal space with absolutely no idea why our ship just shorted out.”

Bain was obviously processing this.

“So we were walking along the top of a wall, got knocked off the wall, and fell into the Multeks’ yard instead of our own,” he said finally.

“Close enough.”

“And we need anti-sing to get back over the wall.”

“Yes,” Marsden said.

“But anti-sing is broken beyond repair.”

“Yes.”

“That is a pickle,” Bain said, idly bending the putter in his hands. He finally bent the metal club almost in two. “But there are other ways of dealing with a wall.”


Tovar looked around the small apartment living room in which he was now seated in a plush armchair.

“This is…nice.”

“We like it,” Tanta replied from the sofa across from him where she sat with Jimsok. Tanta? Jimsok? These were his parents. The people he’d been waiting for twenty years to see again. And now that he was in their presence, all he felt was…

Awkward.

Really, though, he hadn’t taken the time to think about what this reunion would be like. As soon as Frequoq Wurlitz had told him that his parents were indeed on Multos and obtained the address for him, he’d completely focused on getting to this moment. He’d commed his parents’ apartment immediately, expecting a rapid reunion. Unfortunately, he learned that his parents’ schedules were busy for the next couple of days, making this the first time they could actually meet in person.

“Nice view,” Tovar said, glancing toward the apartment window, which overlooked Vumpki Park, the large wooded area covering several blocks in the center of the Multek capital city.

“Very,” Jimsok said.

They sat in silence for a few moments.

“Who wants to go play nubblekins?” Tanta asked, starting to get up from her seat.

“I’ve never heard of it,” Tovar said.

“It’s fun.”

“I’m sure, but I thought…” He trailed off.

“Didn’t we play nubblekins last week?” Jimsok asked his wife. “We could hit the bumper boats. And I do mean hit!”

“Hmm…we haven’t done that in a while. Okay. Let’s go!”

“I don’t see how we’re going to be able to talk if we’re banging watercraft into each other,” Tovar said.

“You’re missing the point,” Jimsok said.

“I’m missing the point? You’ve been missing from my life for twenty years! I didn’t know what happened to you.”

“We were in the Enclave when it phased out of the normal universe,” Tanta said. “Simple as that.”

“Maybe to you. I didn’t have the luxury of that knowledge.”

“You were taken care of obviously,” Jimsok said.

“How about dinner? We could go to dinner,” Tanta offered.

“That would be nice,” Tovar said.

“Bring a friend.”

“Lots of them,” Jimsok added.

“I could bring the Bains.”

“Is that a species?”

“They are the people who raised me after you…your departure.”

“We’d love to meet them,” Tanta said, not at all convincingly.

“We’ll see you at dinner then. 7:30 at The Krubble House,” Jimsok said. With that, both Jimsok and Tanta got up from their seats and started planning an afternoon of bumper boating before dinner as they headed back to their bedroom.

Tovar stared after them, trying to process what had just happened. Even if he had thought in advance about how this reunion would go, he was fairly certain that the idea of being tossed aside for bumper boats never would have crossed his mind. He just needed to give them time. Having their long lost child reappear in their life was going to be an adjustment. And honestly, all he wanted at that moment was to be back in the company of his foster parents and Shelly Marsden.

“I…will see myself out,” he said to the empty room before beating a hasty retreat. The bonding could wait until dinner.


TWENTY YEARS AGO…


“Are you sure this is okay?” Tovar asked.

“Why wouldn’t it be?” Reginald Bain replied.

“Well…these are your mission logs…aren’t they classified or something?”

“They’re my logs. I’ll show them to whomever I bloody well want to,” Bain said just before shoving another bit of banger into his mouth. When the lad had shown up at the door of his loaner quarters on Waystation Prime an hour earlier, Bain wasn’t certain what Tovar was after. The Yynsian boy made some excuse about wanting to go over a procedure before the Starfleet Scouts’ holodeck away team exercise scheduled for that afternoon, but after Bain invited Tovar in and explained the proper post-beam down security spread around a command officer, the lad just sort of hung around and showed no interest in leaving.

Having raised two children of his own, even if he was away on missions a lot of the time, Bain knew enough to realize what Tovar was really after. So, while Bain had a bit of lunch, Tovar sat on the sofa watching some of Bain’s logs from the Maladventure.

“Wow! You blew that thing up in one shot!”

The good logs of course.

“I didn’t do it alone, my lad,” Bain said. “I’ve got a first rate crew at my side.”

“But you tell them what to do.”

“Yes. We all have our special roles on the ship. My tac- ops officer is a hell of a shot.”

“Tac-ops?”

“Tactical and Operations. She handles the weaponry, reports on ship’s systems, deals with security issues. That sort of thing. Don’t get me wrong. I can handle myself in a scrape, but it’s good to know that Sertuui is at my side. The tentacles alone scare most blighters off.”

“Tentacles?”

“Glorious purple ones. But I believe that you have somewhere to be soon, my boy.”

“Are you going too?”

Bain hadn’t planned on it. The holodeck exercise was Commander D’trali’s affair. But the look of hope on Tovar’s face changed the captain’s mind. “Of course I am. Wouldn’t miss it.” Bain wiped his mouth with a napkin and tossed his lunch dishes into the reclamator. “Off we go, Tovar.”

“Yes, sir,” Tovar said, bouncing up off the sofa. With Tovar leading the way, the two headed out of Bain’s quarters and were almost immediately run down by a pair of officers. Bain caught a snippet of their excited conversation. The word “evacuation” immediately caught his attention.

“What’s going on?” Tovar asked concerned. Obviously he’d heard the word as well.

“Nothing to worry about, I’m sure,” Bain said. “We’re sitting in one of the most settled areas of the quadrant. The closest systems are all either Multek or Dillon Consortium resorts.”

“Not for long,” another officer said as he jogged by.

“What the devil!” Bain exclaimed. “What’s happening?”

The officer stopped and turned back to Bain. “Bradley Dillon’s CasinoWorld is evacuating, sir. We’re not sure what’s going on, but every available ship on the station is heading out there.”

“I stand ready to assist if needed.”

“Thank you, Captain. I’ll let the Commodore know, but I’m sure everything is fine.” The officer jogged away. Bain soon realized that Tovar was looking at him expectantly.

“Don’t worry, lad,” Bain said, patting the boy’s shoulder. “You said your parents were on Multos, right? They’re light years away from the CasinoWorld. They’re perfectly safe.”

“But you’re staying here, aren’t you?” Tovar asked.

“Yes. I’m staying here. I’m sure they can handle things on their own.”


TWENTY YEARS LATER…


“We’re completely on our own! We’re going to DIE here! And it’s so…so…FILTHY!”

“Silence, mewling whelp, or I shall silence you with the great muzzle of my wrath!”

“Brazzell, Nortal, just stop it. Please,” Commander Vioxx said as the ragged crew of the Allegra trudged along through the vast nothingness of the world they were now marooned upon. After their unfortunate run-in with whatever barrier surrounded the worlds of this region of space, if they were even in normal space, the Allegra’s crew had been forced to put down on this, the only Class M world within range, two days earlier. To Lieutenant Bre’zan Brazzell’s credit, despite being primarily a security officer, he was able to bring the near-powerless vessel in for something resembling a landing; although, there was a fair amount of skidding involved.

With take-off not an option and communications with the Anomaly impossible, Vioxx felt that he was left with only one course of action: reach the one cluster of buildings they had detected on the planet. Considering that the beings in said buildings were quite possibly responsible for whatever savaged the Anomaly, Vioxx’s plan did not meet with a lot of support. Sub- Commander Remax grudgingly agreed as long as Vioxx consented to raid the resort properly and subdue anyone foolish enough to oppose them. With the promise of violence in the offing, Nortal came on board as well. Brazzell refused until he found that the Allegra was carrying proper EVA suits. Assured of his continued cleanliness, Brazzell followed the others out into the barren landscape of the planet, where Remax donned a quadcorder and quickly determined that the buildings were at least two days’ walk away.

The forty-eight hours of whining, bickering, accusations, and insults that followed would not go down as one of the best times Vioxx ever had. It was almost over, though, he thought as he willed himself up yet another barren, wind-swept rise. Cresting the top, he saw it. A small cluster of structures at the top of an even higher rise in the distance.

“Remax,” he called down the hill to the elder science officer.

“I’m coming,” Remax groused. Nortal and Brazzell beat him to the top and were both instantly re-energized by the sight before them.

“Civilization!” Brazzell exclaimed.

“Battle!” Nortal cried.

“A bath!” Brazzell shouted.

“Shut up before I slit both of your throats,” Remax huffed, finally reaching the others.

“Optix,” Vioxx said. Remax rolled his eyes, grabbed the enhanced binoculars out of his shoulder pack, and handed them to his commanding officer. “I don’t see any movement,” Vioxx said, zooming in on the buildings. His view fell on a sign at the perimeter of the complex.

“I’ve got something,” he said. “A sign.”

“What does it command of us?” Nortal asked.

“Closed for Renovations. Coming Soon: Spa on the Edge. Brought to you by the Dillon Consortium.”

“Spa on the Edge?” Brazzell said. He froze suddenly. “Holy Martha Stewart!”

“What now?” Remax demanded.

“I know where we are. This is Edgeworld!”

“Never heard of it.”

“It was a Multek world.”

“Multeks?” Vioxx said. “Wait. Didn’t they vanish or something?”

“Yes. Twenty years ago. And all of their planets vanished with them. Edgeworld was what they thought was the edge of life in the universe…until they ran into a whole bunch of other life in the universe.”

“And the Dillon Consortium’s been working on this place all of that time?” Remax said. “How long do renovations take?”

“About eleven stories.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind,” Vioxx said. “What about lifesigns?”

Remax put his quadcorder on his head. “Nothing. It’s empty. Not a da…hang on. There’s…something. One reading. Very faint. I’m not sure what it is.”

“ONE!” Nortal bellowed. “I was promised great swaths of adversaries to destroy!”

“Maybe this one is really tough,” Vioxx said.

Remax grunted. “Won’t be much of a raid.”

“Good. That means I can get to a tub sooner,” Brazzell said. “Can we go now?”

“Yes, but the main thing we’re looking for is parts to fix the ship. Barring that, look for a transmitter,” Vioxx said. “Although, I have to admit that this would be a lot easier if we hadn’t betrayed Selex to the Breen.”

“Ha! You call that a betrayal?” Remax said. “The man handed himself over to them. When I was young, Romulans knew what betrayal really was.”

“Silence or I will show you betrayal with my blade!” Nortal snapped.

Vioxx sighed. Only a bit farther to go.

Two hours later, they passed the Dillon Consortium sign and made their way into the Edgeworld resort campground. From the outside at least, there wasn’t much sign of the so-called renovations. The buildings were all intact and surprisingly well kept-up. Considering the lack of movement or lifesigns, Vioxx wasn’t sure that was possible. Suddenly, a series of panels opened along the bottom of a shed-like building, and a small horde of maintenance bots zipped out and set to work on the grounds.

“Ooh!” Brazzell exclaimed excitedly. “I wonder if they have massage bots inside!”

“Or massively-armed metallic engines of terror and destruction!” Nortal added eagerly.

“Lifesign? Please,” Vioxx said to Remax.

“In there,” Remax replied, pointing to the main lodge. Vioxx pulled out his disrupter pistol and led the way into the structure. Renovations did not appear to have started in here either. Instead, it was a fairly standard hotel lobby. The ceiling was dominated by a giant starchart showing various planets labeled in what they officers now knew to be Multek script, and a long counter ran along the far side of the room where guests would check in. There was, however, a decidedly-non-standard black metal cylinder resting in the middle of a seating area where presumably a coffee table once stood.

“That’s it,” Remax said, approaching the vertically- standing cylinder. “It’s a stasis tube. One occupant. Human.”

“Nobody touch anything,” Vioxx warned the group as they followed. Lights on the side of device suddenly began to flash.

“It’s activating!” Remax said.

“Ambush! We are taken by surprise!” Nortal exclaimed.

“How?” Remax shot back. “We’re standing right here watching it!”

“Why is it opening in the first place?” Vioxx shouted.

“Must be a proximity sensor,” Remax said. “Should we run away from the big bad human now?”

“No. But let’s back up a bit. In case it’s armed…and cranky.”

“Very brave of you.”

Vioxx, Nortal, and Brazzell leveled their weapons at the stasis tube as its front panel swung open. A thin human female dressed in a crisp black suitcoat and skirt with short, almost boyish dirty-blond hair and looking to be in her mid-thirties stepped out…

…and immediately collapsed to the floor.

Before he considered what he was doing, Vioxx was at her side, helping her to her feet.

“Thanks,” the woman said. “Heels are a little tough after stasis.” She pulled herself together, then got a good look at Vioxx. “Vulcan?” she asked confused.

“Romulan,” Vioxx replied.

“We’re using Romulan contractors now? I must have missed that memo.” She extended her hand to Vioxx. “Tori Burke. I’ll be representing the Consortium for this project. Are you ready to begin?”

“Begin…what?” Vioxx asked.

“The renovations,” Burke said, narrowing her eyes at Vioxx. “You have been hired to do a job, and do not think that the Consortium will stand by and allow you to fleece us while you do nothing at an exorbitant hourly rate. That WILL NOT be happening. Am I clear, Mister…”

“Vioxx. Commander Vioxx of the Romulan Imperial Forces. This is Sub-Commander Remax, Centurion Nortal, and Lieutenant Brazzell of Starfleet.”

“You’re not the contractors.”

“No.”

“Then you are trespassing on Dillon Consortium property, and I demand that you vacate this world at once before I file enough injunctions to put all of you in your respective brigs for the rest of your lives!”

“Can I tell her?” Remax said. “Please let me tell her.”

“I’ll tell her,” Vioxx said.

“Tell me what.”

“Something happened while you were in stasis.”

“Something? What the hell does that mean? What kind of something?”

“The Multek Enclave disappeared. We just found it a couple of days ago.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. How could it disappear? You’re talking about entire star systems!” Burke said.

“We know. And we don’t understand it either. But that’s what happened. You’ve been gone from the galaxy for twenty years now.”

“TWENTY YEARS!”

“Er…yes. Sorry to be the one to break this to you.”

“I told you I would do it,” Remax said.

“Twenty years? Really? You’re serious?” She looked to Brazzell. “He’s serious?”

“I’m afraid so, ma’am,” Brazzell said.

Burke slumped down into an armchair.

“I know it’s a lot to take in,” Vioxx said.

The human looked up at him, then smiled. “I bet I’ve got seniority now,” she said. “Jenner and Kelso always dumping the crappy assignments on me. Ha! Those two are probably long since retired by now. I just picked up 20 years of service to the Consortium Legal Corps, and I didn’t have to do a thing! HA!”

“I’m…glad you’re pleased.”

“Pleased? This could have just made my career! Where’s the comm? Get me to the comm! I need to contact corporate.”

“You can’t,” Remax said.

“What do you mean, I can’t? Try and stop me, pal.”

“I don’t have to. There’s no corporate to contact.”

“The Enclave is still outside of normal space,” Vioxx said. “There’s some kind of barrier around it.”

“Then how did you get in here?” Burke demanded.

“We don’t know. But there’s another ship here with us. They may have the answers. We have to repair our vessel, get off of this planet, and go back to them.”

“If they haven’t been destroyed,” Remax said.

“We shall avenge them!” Nortal cried.

“You can come with us,” Vioxx said. “We’ll figure out a way to get you back to normal space.”

“So you’re just here for parts?” Burke said. “You think I’m going to stand by and let you pick the place clean? This is Dillon Consortium property!”

Vioxx glanced over at Remax. “Then consider this a raid,” he said flatly.

“Finally,” Remax said.

“You can’t do this!” Burke shouted.

“Nortal, if she moves, shoot her,” Vioxx said.

“The slightest motion shall be her demise!” Nortal exclaimed.

“ON STUN!”

“Very well,” Nortal said, deflated.

“Remax, Brazzell, let’s get to work.”

“No bath?” Brazzell asked.

“NO!” Vioxx snapped.

“We may just make a Romulan out of you yet,” Remax said, patting Vioxx on the shoulder as they headed off to search the Edgeworld complex.

“Thanks,” Vioxx muttered, resisting the urge to blast Remax’s head clean off. Would THAT would be Romulan enough for him?


Rosalyn Bain watched her husband rumble around their quarters, ostensibly getting ready for dinner, but there was a spectacular lack of anything resembling…well…anything happening. Anything except Reginald Bain storming back and forth from room to room that is.

“This will be nice,” Rosalyn said as Bain passed by her yet again. She was in their bathroom working on her hair. She hadn’t had much call to really style it of late. Her work in Section 31 tended to require a functional coif, and there had been a distinct lack of formal affairs in the last couple of years.

“It’ll be a bloody living hell,” Bain said.

“Come now, Reginald. You can’t be serious. When was the last time you and I were able to go out to a nice dinner together?”

“Last week. We went down to the holo-mess.”

“That doesn’t count and you know it,” Rosalyn said. “We’re going to a real restaurant together for the first time in ages. You should try to enjoy this.”

“Enjoy it!” Bain exclaimed. “We’re prisoners here, and now I have to sit there while Tovar throws us over for his real family! Hand me back to the Breen! I’d prefer their torture to this!”

“So I suppose I won’t be able to convince you to trade your uniform for a nice suit then.”

“Absolutely not!”


Several quarters away, a similar scene was unfolding, only this time without quite so much stomping around. Instead, Tovar sat quietly on the sofa in his living area, staring ahead blankly.

“You sure you’re okay?” Shelly Marsden asked as she settled onto the sofa beside Tovar and wrapped an arm around his shoulder.

“I am…meditating.”

“So I’m disturbing you?”

“No. I find your presence far more calming than my own efforts.”

“You’re sure about that? I mean, I don’t have to come tonight. You’re just getting to know your parents again. Having me there might be awkward.”

“I believe we already covered awkward when I visited them this afternoon. Now, I want them to learn about my life, which you are a very large part of.”

“Okay. As long as you’re sure.”

“Most definitely. And look at it this way. We will be having dinner as a couple with the Bains without our relationship being the primary focus of the evening’s conversation,” Tovar said.

Marsden smiled. “Now that plan I like. Nothing against the captain and Mrs. Bain, but having dinner with your boyfriend’s parents…well, we’re still having dinner with your parents.”

“Two sets really.”

“Wait. And this is supposed to be better for me how?” Marsden said with chuckle.

“Having you there will certainly be better for me,” Tovar replied before turning and kissing Marsden on the head. “I could not imagine sitting through this meal without you…or the Bains.”

“Come on. It won’t be bad. These are your parents.”

“I know; however…” A soft alarm chime bonged. “Time to go,” Tovar said.

“Hopefully you weren’t planning to change,” Marsden said as they both rose from the sofa.

“Why would I? Starfleet is also a large part of my life. Tanta and Jimsok…Mom and Dad…should see that.”

They headed out into the corridor and passed by the Bains’ quarters just as their doors opened, letting Captain Bain and Rosalyn out into the hall.

“Right on schedule,” Bain said with a smile that Marsden noted seemed more forced than the captain’s usual boisterous demeanor.

“I see someone else decided to make his uniform dinner-wear,” Rosalyn said, eying Tovar. Her gaze fell on Marsden. “Make that two more someones.”

“I think it’s a smashing idea,” Bain said. “Never let those Multek bastards think they’re getting us to settle in.”

“That’s not what this meal is about, Reginald.”

“I know that dearest. But in this situation, we must…Ah! Prosak!” Bain exclaimed, grateful for the approach of his RommaVulc second officer and the possibility of some ship’s business to distract him from the social obligation to come.

“Captain,” Prosak replied with a nod of her head. “I was hoping to catch you before you beamed down to the surface.”

“And catch me you did. What can I do for you?”

“Very little, I’m afraid; however, Captain Lemuel of the Perseus insisted that I make you aware of his displeasure at being lost in space again.” The Perseus, a deep space exploration vessel, and its crew had been stranded deep in the Beta Quadrant until the Anomaly rescued them several days prior. Unfortunately, the rescue had gone a bit awry with the Anomaly’s unexpected visit to the Multek Enclave.

“Displeasure?” Bain laughed. “It’s because we went out and picked up those blighters that we’re in this fix.”

“I will remind him of that fact.”

“No no. When we found Lemuel, he was raving about giant space monsters. The man doesn’t sound too stable to me. Just find a way to keep him distracted.”

Prosak hesitated for a moment. “There is one thing,” she said finally. “Doctor Nooney has been insisting that the entire Perseus crew should get thorough physicals to ensure that there are no lasting after effects from their ordeal.”

“Capital!” Bain said. “Sounds like just the thing. Tell Nooney to get to it.”

“I am sure he will be pleased.”

“He’ll be the only one,” Marsden muttered.

“Is there anything else?” Bain asked eagerly.

“Engineering estimates that comms will be fully restored within the hour, so we will no longer need to establish pre-arranged beam-up times,” Prosak said.

“Damn,” Bain said.

“Excuse me, Captain.”

“I mean, good. Good show,” Bain said.

“I will attempt to raise the Allegra as soon as comms are available. Of course, if they have encountered difficulties, there is little we can do to assist at this point.”

“Kasyov and Cabral have been working on coaxing a bit of crystal growth out of the little surviving dilithium that we have,” Marsden said. “Early results are better than I would have expected, and repairs on the core are coming along pretty smoothly. With a bit of luck, we could have main power and full warp back in a day or so. Still no anti-sing drive, but it’s progress.”

Marsden was accustomed to Bain responding enthusiastically to the slightest bit of good news, but this time the captain didn’t say a word.

“Sir?” Prosak asked finally.

“Thank you, Commander. Dismissed,” he said.

“Yes, sir,” Prosak said, exchanging a confused glance with Marsden before she turned and moved off down the corridor.

“Is something wrong, Reginald?” Rosalyn asked.

“No. Nothing at all. I’m right as rain,” Bain replied. “We should be off to the transporter room. Wouldn’t want to be late for dinner, now would we?”

“No, dear. We wouldn’t,” Rosalyn said as Bain took her hand in his and walked away.

“Did I just miss something?” Marsden asked Tovar.

“Not yet,” Tovar said. “However, my past experience with the captain would indicate that he is in the early stages of developing a plan.”

“Should I be worried?”

Tovar smiled. “Not yet.”


ZAPOW!

“Not again,” Commander Vioxx groaned as the sound of the stun blast fired in the lobby echoed down the hall to his present position.

“You wouldn’t be having this problem if you’d just killed her in the first place,” Sub-Commander Remax said as he worked to open one of the Dillon Consortium cargo containers that were now filling what was once the hotel dining room. Each cargo container was sealed with a quintitronic locking mechanism, which, while two decades old, was still not the easiest thing to get open, even with the help of a quadcorder. As far as Remax and Vioxx could tell, the containers were left at the same time as Tori Burke’s stasis tube, all awaiting the arrival of the contractors hired to handle the renovations of the Edgeworld resort into the Dillon Consortium’s vision for the Spa on the Edge.

“I should go check on Nortal,” Vioxx said.

“Why? It’s not like that human is going to overpower her.”

“No, but Nortal might accidentally kill her.”

“I don’t see the problem.” The container lock blooped, then clicked open. “Ahh. There we are,” Remax said, clearly pleased with the container’s contents.

Vioxx looked over the science officer’s shoulder and saw several coils of cabling. “Is it enough?” he asked.

“Hard to tell. The power surge from the barrier shorted out almost everything, but until we get inside the conduits and look at the cabling up close, I won’t know exactly how much needs to be replaced,” Remax said.

“What about the core?”

“It should be fine. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have been able to get from the barrier to here. We were just lucky there was enough left in the systems to do that before everything went out on us. But we have a bigger problem.”

“What’s that?” Vioxx asked.

“How are we going to get this back to the ship?”

“Ohhhhh.”

“Yeah. I’m all for roping this container to the human and having her drag it back to the Allegra, but I don’t relish the idea of another two day hike,” Remax said.

“This is a resort. There’s got to be some kind of vehicle around here.” With Remax in tow, Vioxx left the dining room and made his way back to the lobby, where Nortal was looming over the prone and unconscious Tori Burke. Burke groaned slightly, her eyelids fluttering.

“She’s waking up already?” Remax asked surprised.

“My stun is as light as the breeze,” Nortal said.

“Good,” Vioxx said. “We don’t want to harm her.”

Nortal frowned. “The lightness of my stun gives me more chances to blast my foe!”

“Er…that, too.”

“Stop,” Burke croaked groggily.

“She moves!” Nortal cried, whipping back toward Burke, disruptor at the ready.

“Don’t!” Vioxx shouted, rushing over. “I need to ask her something.”

“Begin your interrogation, my Commander! I stand ready to inflict swift punishment at the first sign of falsitude!”

“Sorry about her,” Vioxx said, ignoring Nortal and helping Burke sit up on the sofa where she lay. “Nortal is…intense. But hopefully you see now that I’m serious about getting off of this planet. Did the Dillon Consortium tell you much about this place? Or give you an inventory? I need a vehicle. A hovercar. Anything.”

“Even if they did, I wouldn’t tell you,” Burke spat. “Everything here is Dillon Consortium property. You Romulans and your Starfleet buddy are going to be served with a complaint so thick it’ll take a freighter to carry the…”

ZAPOW!

Burke slumped back onto the sofa.

“Thank you,” Vioxx said. “I mean, hey!” he said quickly, standing up to face Nortal.

“Her tone threatened!” Nortal said.

“Yes, it did,” Vioxx admitted.

“And I was annoyed!”

“So was I,” Remax said.

“Fine. That makes three of us,” Vioxx said.

“Three of us for what?” Brazzell asked, entering the lobby. He’d ditched the EVA suit and his uniform for a bathrobe with what appeared to be silk pajamas underneath.

“I see you found something,” Vioxx said.

“A shower!” Brazzell exclaimed happily.

“And some jammies,” Remax said.

“I washed my uniform. It’s drying now. But I’M CLEAN!!!”

“I don’t suppose you want to come outside with us,” Vioxx said.

“Out there? In this? Are you insane?” Brazzell exclaimed. “Sir,” he added quickly.

“Come on, Remax,” Vioxx said with a sigh. The two Romulans exited the building and quickly surveyed the other structures in the complex. “That looks like athletic facilities. And there’s the shed. Not sure about that one, or…” Vioxx trailed off as a building with a large set of doors caught his eye. He jogged over with Remax huffing to keep up. “Can you open it?” Vioxx asked. Remax slipped on his quadcorder and set to work. After a few moments, the doors swung open.

“Oh no,” Remax said.

Vioxx took a step into the now-opened chamber. “Oh yes.”


TWENTY YEARS AGO…


“Oh no. No no no. I can’t,” Captain Reginald Bain said, pacing the office of Commodore Glonos, the commanding officer of Waystation Prime. “I can’t do that to the lad.”

“Somebody has to tell him,” the Yridian replied. “And Commander D’trali’s told me that you’ve made a connection with the boy.”

“He just needed someone to take an interest,” Bain said. “He’s a good lad. Could be a great officer.”

“I heard that too. Despite not actually being a Starfleet Scout, he’s been scoring higher than most of them in the camp exercises. I honestly didn’t think you had it in you, Bain, but you’ve been a hell of a mentor to Tovar. That’s why you have to do this.”

“Can’t we just wait a bit? His parents could turn up.”

“The entire Multek Enclave is gone. We don’t have a clue what happened.”

“You’re talking about billions of people. How is that even possible?”

“It’s not just the people. The planets are gone, too,” Glonos said.

“Do you think it’s connected to whatever forced the evacuation of Dillon’s CasinoWorld? Who knows what the Dillon Consortium was hiding there?” Bain said.

“I don’t know. Command tells me that the Consortium is furious about the disappearance. They lost two worlds.”

“Two?”

“They recently acquired Edgeworld from the Multeks.”

“And now it’s all gone.”

“Including Tovar’s parents. You need to talk to him.”

“What about his grandparents?” Bain asked. Glonos shook his head. “Aunts and uncles? Older sibling? Seventh cousin twice removed?”

“No. As far as I’ve been able to determine, one set of grandparents joined some cult dedicated to purging their past lives and hasn’t been heard from in at least a decade. The other set was involved in an unfortunate lava skiing accident about a year ago. There’s no one else.”

“So I have to tell him that his parents are gone and that he’s going to be shipped off to a Yynsian orphanage,” Bain said.

“You could skip that second part.”

“But that’s what’s going to happen!” Bain said, slamming his hand down on Glonos’ desk. “He’s a good lad, Glonos. This isn’t fair.”

“Take it up with the universe,” Glonos said. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to sound callous. I feel for Tovar. Really, I do, but his life will go on. Right now he needs someone close to him to talk to, and you’re all he’s got.”

Bain wanted to fight this, but he knew Glonos was right. “Where is he?” he asked.

“His quarters. With all that’s happened, I had D’trali let the scouts sleep in. I didn’t want word getting to Tovar before you had a chance to talk to him.”

“Very well.”

“I’m sorry, Reginald. But he needs you.”

“He needs his mum and dad,” Bain said then left the office.


Bain touched the chime, and seconds later the door opened revealing an Andorian boy. “Captain Bain,” the Andorian, Shu’k, said surprised. “Did we miss morning exercises?”

“Not at all. We’re taking it a bit easy this morning. I came by to see Tovar,” Bain said.

“He’s up. Do you want to come in?”

“Please. Why don’t you go get some breakfast?”

“Okay. I just have to…”

“Now, lad.”

“Yes, sir,” Shu’k said, stepping past Bain into the corridor. Bain entered the quarters Shu’k and Tovar shared and closed the door just as Tovar emerged from his bedroom.

“Captain Bain!” he said brightly.

“Morning, lad,” Bain said. “Slept well, I trust.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good…good. Good beds they’ve got here. Very good.”

“Is everything all right, sir?”

Bain took a deep breath. “You’d best sit down.”

Tovar’s face filled with concern. “They’re kicking me out, aren’t they? I’m not measuring up.”

“I wish that was it,” Bain said.

“What?”

“No. I don’t. Just please sit down,” Bain said, as he sat in one of the armchairs in the living area. Tovar anxiously put himself on the sofa across from Bain. “I really don’t know how to say this, lad, but Reginald Bain has never been one to dance around things. Here it is. The Multek Enclave is gone.”

Tovar stared back at him blankly.

“It vanished overnight,” Bain continued. “All of it. The planets. The people.”

“My…my parents?” Tovar asked weakly.

“I’m afraid so.”

“What happened?”

“We don’t know. It could reappear at any time,” Bain said.

“But you don’t think it will.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“But you don’t.”

“It’s a strange universe. Anything could happen, but I don’t count on it. I’m sorry, lad. I’d give anything to change this. Really I would. I…”

“Could I be alone now? Please, sir.”

“Is that really what you want? I know this is a shock, and I’m here if…”

“Please,” Tovar said, his voice cracking.

“All right,” Bain said, hesitantly getting up from his chair. He hadn’t wanted to be the one to give Tovar this news, but now that he had, the thought of leaving the boy alone pained him. Tovar didn’t say anything more as Bain made his way to the door. “Comm me if you want to talk,” he added, feeling as though the sentiment was almost meaningless in the face of what Tovar was dealing with.

Damned universe. As a Starfleet Officer, Bain took an oath to protect the citizens of the Federation from any and all threats, but he was helpless to protect Tovar from this.

No. He wasn’t about to stand by and let fate kick that poor boy around. There was something he could do. It was near insane, but he had to try.

Racing back to his quarters, he activated the comm unit and opened a channel to the one person whose support he needed for this plan. His wife’s image soon appeared on the screen.

“Rosalyn, my love, there’s something we need to discuss…”


TWENTY YEARS LATER…


Somehow Tovar thought there would be more to discuss.

He had, of course, expected the dinner conversation to be a bit surface at first. The Bains and Marsden were meeting Tanta and Jimsok for the first time, not that Tovar had all that much more familiarity with his birth parents. His memories of them from his childhood were vague and seemed to involve them leaving for one trip or another more than anything else. Honestly he had better memories of his grandparents, who had been the ones to take care of him during his parents’ many trips to the Multek Enclave, their favorite vacation destination, and other places…at least until that lava skiing incident. To this day, he couldn’t look at a volcano without tearing up a bit. Their deaths had been traumatic enough to his eleven-year-old psyche to cause a Seratch, leading to the emergence of the Toflay past life.

But this was supposed to be a happy occasion. All of the most important people in his life, including his long-lost parents, were in the same place at the same time. Yet, as they all sat around their table at The Krubble House, one silence after another descended upon the group. Not that Tanta and Jimsok weren’t trying…kind of. From the time everyone put their orders in with the waiter, Tovar’s parents brought up a litany of sights and attractions around the Enclave, asking if the Anomaly officers had been able to visit.

“The Jade Hills of Odubumpa are gorgeous this time of year,” Tanta said. “If you get a chance to warp over there with your ship, you really should. It’s worth the trip.”

“Sounds smashing, but our ship is crippled at the moment,” Captain Bain replied. “And we’re a bit busy being held captive by our charming Multek ‘hosts.’”

“Ah, well there’s always the Pudoobles Range right here on Multos,” Jimsok said. “Best bobsledding on the planet.”

“How long did it take you to settle in here?” Bain asked. Tovar perked up. Finally this conversation was moving toward talk of more personal matters. His parents would describe their lives. He would describe his…

“Settle in?” Tanta said. “Oh, immediately. We love it here.”

“You never tried to escape,” Bain said. “Come now. Surely you thought about it. Someone had to try.”

“I don’t understand.”

Bain leaned over to Tovar conspiratorially. “I hate to be the one to say this, my boy, but I think there’s some kind of Multek mind manipulation at work here.”

Tovar wasn’t so certain.

“They seem willing to chat, though,” Bain continued. “Let’s see how forthcoming they really are. Marsie, a moment please.”

Marsden, who was seated on the other side of Tovar from Bain, leaned in. “Yes, sir?”

“See what they know about whatever is keeping us here. It might seem a bit too direct coming from me.”

Before Marsden got the chance to open her mouth, a plate of foot was set down in front of her. Dinner had arrived.

“After the dessert course,” Bain said, letting Marsden off the hook, at least temporarily. “No need to be uncivilized.”

The meal passed in relative silence. Tovar tried to keep things going with some talk of his Academy years, but Tanta and Jimsok seemed to be far more engrossed with insisting that they each try a bit of the other’s entree. “Are you all right, dear?” Rosalyn asked from across the table.

“Yes, Mum,” Tovar said. He froze, realizing that he’d just called Rosalyn “Mum” in the presence of his real mother. Tanta, however, didn’t seem to notice, busy as she was enjoying a Multek vegetable that looked at bit like an orange spear of asparagus.

“Give it time,” Rosalyn said kindly.

Tovar nodded slowly, but the look in his eyes told Marsden everything that she needed to know. This was hurting him. Up until then, she hadn’t been real big on Captain Bain’s idea to push Tovar’s parents for information at what was supposed to be a fun social gathering for Tovar. Tovar most definitely was not having fun, and she was not about to sit by and do nothing. If they could help get the Anomaly back to normal space and away from the Multeks, then dammit, they were going to help!

“This pocket universe the Multeks created is just absolutely amazing!” Marsden exclaimed, louder and more cheerfully than she’d intended. It had the desired effect, though. Tanta and Jimsok looked up from their meals, excitement in their eyes.

“Isn’t though?” Jimsok said. “It’s an absolute marvel.”

“Incredible,” Marsden said. That confirmed one of her assumptions. Multek space hadn’t just vanished from normal space for no reason. The Multeks did it on purpose. “I mean I work with some pretty advanced tech, but nothing like this. I’m hoping that Frequoq Wurlitz will let me talk to some of her engineers. The power something like this must require boggles the mind. How do you build generators for that?”

Tanta laughed. “Build? They had nine ready-made generators waiting to be used. But what you really should see is the Multek Memorial Merryland. They have rides there unlike anything else in the galaxy. True engineering marvels.”

“Really?” Marsden said, feigning interest as she exchanged a glance with Captain Bain while Tanta rambled on about the various attractions at the Multek Memorial Merryland. Bain smiled back and nodded. Sometimes it took a bit of explaining to get through to him, but this time he’d gotten the same message Marsden had from Tanta’s response. Nine generators. Nine star systems in the Multek enclave. The Multeks were using their suns to power whatever had shifted their space outside of normal space. And if she could study the actual devices creating the pocket universe, she might be able to figure out a way to get the Anomaly home without the anti-singularity drive. It wasn’t much, but at least it was the start of a plan.

Two seats away, Captain Bain was coming up with a slightly different plan of his own.


“IT CHAFES!”

“Would you shut up about it, Nortal!” Sub-Commander Remax shot back. “None of us are comfortable on these things!”

“I am,” Lieutenant Brazzell said, cushioned as he was by the padding in his environmental suit. The others, including their unwilling “guest,” Tori Burke, were dealing with the ravages of long-term use of Commander Vioxx’s find: a fleet of hoverbikes. While slow, designed as they were for use by vacationers, they were a far better transportation option than walking, and, thanks to a tow along hovercart Vioxx also discovered, which was apparently originally intended for use bringing along picnic lunches, the group was able to comfortably bring along the supplies they needed to repair the power systems in the Allegra. At least it was comfortable at first. Now, several hours into the journey with darkness falling, sitting for so long spread-legged on the hoverbikes was starting rub them all, except Brazzell, a bit raw.

“Just how much farther are you planning to drag me?” Tori Burke demanded. She had been given her own hoverbike, much to Remax’s disgust, and threatened with a lot worse than a stun blast if she attempted any kind of escape (Remax was fonder of that part).

“We’re trying to rescue you,” Vioxx said.

“That’s what you keep saying.”

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life stranded here? I can get you back to your home…probably.”

“Gotta love that confidence.”

“We could just kill her. She wouldn’t be stranded then, now would she?” Remax offered.

Vioxx saw a slight glint of metal, reflected in the setting sun in the distance. “Thank the Great Bird,” he muttered.

“Allegra HO!” Nortal exclaimed, spotting the same glorious reflection.

“I know everyone’s tired, but we need to get the ship up and running as soon as we can,” Vioxx said.

“I shall make repairs with all the vast powers at my command!” Nortal cried.

“Er…thanks, but why don’t you get Miss Burke settled in. Remax, Brazzell and I will handle the repairs.”

“I’m not taking off my suit,” Brazzell said.

“Whatever. Let’s just get it done,” Vioxx said before adding silently to himself, “And please let Bain have found a way out of this.”


“Right!” Bain said, clapping his hands together loudly. “What have we got?” As usual, Bain eschewed the use of a conference room for this morning’s meeting in favor of holding it on the Anomaly’s bridge. Conference rooms never made much sense to him. Why should he leave the bridge to go somewhere to talk about a decision that would most likely end up being implemented on the bridge anyway. It had chairs and a viewscreen to display whatever they might need to look at. Why leave the center of the action to go sit in some comfy chairs around a big table? Might as well throw in a buffet if you’re going to do that. No. His place was on the bridge. and that’s where he, Prosak, Tovar, Marsden, and Dr. Kasyov could plot their next move.

“Main power is back online,” Lieutenant Marsden reported.

Bain looked around the bridge. “I thought things seemed brighter in here. Fabulous job, Marsie! First rate! But you said last night that were looking at a day or more.”

“After that dinner, I couldn’t sleep.”

“Food didn’t sit well, eh?”

“Something like that,” Marsden said. In truth, it was Tovar more than anything else that had kept her up. Upon their return from dinner, Marsden had planned to try to distract him from what was obviously not the most successful reunion with his birth parents by any means necessary. Conversation about repairs. Jokes. Hell, she would have stripped naked and done performance art with whipped cream and chocolate sauce if it cheered Tovar up. That was not to be, though. As they approached the door to his quarters, he very simply said, “I wish to sleep alone this evening,” kissed her before she could start protesting, and stepped inside, leaving Marsden out in the corridor. Her first instinct was to REALLY protest. He didn’t need to be alone, and he sure as hell didn’t need to close the door in her face. At one point in her life, she would have used her door override authority to storm in after him and tell him so.

But she didn’t. If he wanted time to himself now, fine. He’d certainly given her things she needed, such as volunteering to let Nooney do his physical, so that Marsden wouldn’t have to deal with the over-eager probings of the ship’s Chief Medical Officer. She could be supportive of Tovar now.

So, she had gone back to her own quarters, quarters that she hadn’t stayed in alone for quite a while now.

She had lasted for almost three minutes before heading out to do something. Anything! Her first thought had been to see her friend, Dr. Natalia Kasyov, but Kasyov was already asleep after a long day of working with Cabral. So instead she’d gone to Engineering and found the fruits of Kasyov and Cabral’s labors waiting for her: a container full of fresh dilithium crystals, grown from the shards and bits of debris that remained after the Anomaly’s disastrous entry to the Multek Enclave. With sleep nowhere in her thoughts, she had set to work. Repairs teams were going around the clock, but she was an extra, exceptionally-determined set of hands. By early morning, the Anomaly’s warp core was again pulsing with energy. Marsden’s ship was alive again. Now it was up to Bain to use it.

“Nevertheless,” Bain continued. “Bang up job. Now what about banging something else up?”

“Huh?”

“Weapons. Do we have any?”

“Sure. Now that power’s back online, the torpedo launchers are completely fine,” Marsden said. “We had a few overloads along the compression phaser arrays, but most of them are up and running. Shields are another matter. More of those emitters were damaged as we breached this pocket universe…or whatever you want to call it. Now that we’ve got main power online, I’ve shifted several of my teams to working on the shield emitters, though. I had a feeling we might need them.”

“We may yet,” Bain said. “But let’s press on. Comms?”

“Functioning normally,” Commander Prosak reported. “We have not, however, been able to contact the Allegra.”

“Hopefully that means Vioxx found a way out of this blasted place and has gone for help. We can’t count on it, though. Keep trying to raise them.”

Prosak nodded.

“Thank you, Commander. And may I say that your Vulcan composure is spot on today.”

Prosak grinned. “Really? Thank you. I’ve been working on…DAMMIT!”

“Er…sorry there, Prosak. Didn’t mean to break your concentration.”

“No. It’s all right. I still need to practice stoically accepting compliments.”

“Tough skill to master, I imagine,” Bain said. “Back to the matter at hand. Obviously, we’re not fully ship-shape, but I am positively gobsmacked at our progress. We need to look toward our next move. Last night, Tovar’s…” He didn’t want to say the word. He didn’t want to say it. “…parents…” There. He said it. “…gave us some valuable information about the forces holding us here. The Multeks found a way to hide all of their planets away, but they needed an enormous amount of power to do it, power that only their suns could provide. Up until now, we’ve been blind, but now that we have our own power back, Kassie, I’d like you to…”

“Already on it,” Dr. Kasyov said, spinning in her chair toward the science console. “I’m reading a network of large platforms around the star in this system. Massive power readings, but I don’t recognize the type of energy being generated. The platforms seem to all be tied into a central hub near the star’s northern pole.”

“Captain,” Marsden said. “If you can get me inside of the hub. Or even into one of those platforms…”

Bain held up a hand to silence her. “In time, Marsie. But we can’t just start heading toward the Multek’s sun. I imagine the locals would have something to say about it. No. I think we’re going to take a spin around the neighborhood.” Bain smiled. “With permission, of course. And we’d best see to the Allegra. What are the chances of you having any spare dilithium for the raceabouts?”

“The crystal growth stimulation technique Cabral and I developed is working well,” Kasyov said, spinning back in her chair toward the group. “Dilithium supplies aren’t an issue.”

“Very good. I want Yonk and Gworos to take one of the raceabouts out along the Allegra’s last known course. See if they can pick up the trail.”

“Captain,” Prosak said. “I can go with them. They might…”

“They’ll be fine,” Bain said. “They’ll go their way, and we’ll go ours. Can’t have the Multeks looking in the right direction, now can we?”

“I don’t follow.”

“Exactly.”

Now Prosak really didn’t follow. At least not for a few more minutes until Bain explained.


Frequoq Wurlitz, leader of the Multek Enclave, noticed the flashing light on her desk console. “Excuse me a moment,” she said to the other current occupants of her office as she tapped the console and opened the channel. “Yes, Stroodle?”

“I apologize for interrupting your meeting, Your Frequoqness, but the Multek Military Marshall’s office just commed. The Federation captain has contacted orbital control requesting permission to take his ship out of the system to try out their repairs.”

“They have?” Wurlitz said, looking across her desk at the people seated in the chairs there.

“We told you it was urgent,” Jimsok said. “Starfleet doesn’t tend to wait around.”

“That’s why we came to you first thing this morning,” Tanta added.

“Grant permission but inform the fleet,” Wurlitz ordered. “And tell Captain Bollux that I’ll be joining him on the Goobly shortly. Maybe Captain Bain is being truthful, but I want us to be ready, just in case he’s not.”

Jimsok rose from his chair. “Now you know, so we’ll be off. We’ve got appointments for mud massages down at the…”

“You’re coming with me,” Wurlitz said, standing up.

“But we don’t know anything else,” Tanta protested.

“Your son is on that ship. You and he may be able to help me get through to Captain Bain. There’s too much at stake here.”

Tanta and Jimsok exchanged a look. “Damn,” they muttered before following Wurlitz into the elevator leading to her private docking bay.


“The Frequoq has approved your request,” Major Miggle, the representative from the Multek Military Marshall’s Office, said on the viewscreen as Captain Bain sat casually in the Anomaly’s command chair on the bridge.

“I’m glad to hear it,” Bain replied. “It’s awfully hard to get the ship up and running again if we can’t test out the systems properly.”

“Of course,” Miggle replied. “Have a nice cruise.”

“It’s a working trip, so I don’t know how nice it will be,” Bain said. “Oh, I want to apologize for the mess. We’ll work on cleaning it up when we get back.”

“Mess?”

“The debris. We were really banged up over here. All kinds of bulkheads and the like dislodged and strewn around. We got so tired of trying to work around it that we ended up just parking a bunch of it outside the ship to get it out of the way.”

“It’s not in a decaying orbit or anything, is it?”

“No no. Well, I don’t think so. I suppose it could. Honestly, we’re not really sure what to do with it. Back home, we’d just throw it into the sun and vaporize the lot.”

“Why don’t you do that here?”

“Not my sun. It’d be quite presumptuous to throw our refuse into your sun without permission,” Bain said. “If you want, though, we can give it a shove in that direction on our way out of the system.”

Now Miggle was not usually the type to make decisions above his station. When the Anomaly had commed orbital control asking permission to leave the system, he’d gone straight to his superiors. Allowing a trash dump that could otherwise slam into Mutlos wasn’t that big of a decision. Vaporization or the deaths of thousands? Hmmm…

“Go ahead and do that, Captain Bain.”

“It will delay us a little bit, but I suppose we can,” Bain replied. “Consider the trash dumped.”

“Thank you, Captain.”

“Not at all. Thank you. Anomaly out.” Bain turned back to Tovar, who closed the channel. “Is our refuse properly bundled?”

“Aye, sir.”

“Excellent. Let’s clean up after ourselves then. Zantak, as soon as Tovar gives the package a shove, break orbit and head out of the system.” The Romulan woman at the helm nodded silently.

Tovar latched a tractor beam onto the lashed-together mass of bulkheads and such that had been gathered behind the Anomaly over the last couple of hours and expertly swung it around, releasing it on a course toward Multos’ sun. With that complete, the Anomaly, under Zantak’s control, spun the opposite direction and sped away from the planet.

“We are clear of the system,” Tovar reported a short time later.

“Give Yonk and Gworos the go-ahead,” Bain ordered. “As soon as they are clear, I want warp six.”

Less than a minute passed before Tovar reported, “The Rhone is away. It has entered warp.” Zantak didn’t say anything, but, as ordered, she activated the Anomaly’s warp engines. There wasn’t quite the soft, smooth hum Bain was used to, but with the singularity blocked off and the anti-singularity drive offline, that was to be expected. Despite the challenges, he had no doubt that Marsden had the warp drive working splendidly. The pinpoints of stars on the viewscreen extended to streaks as the Anomaly leapt past light speed into warp.


“They’re on the move!” Captain Bollux said, watching the tactical display on the bridge of the Goobly.

“I can see that,” Frequoq Wurlitz said. In the years before she accepted the position of Frequoq, she’d been a freighter captain running goods between the worlds of the Enclave, which was a vital task with the Enclave cut off from the rest of the galaxy. As such, she could more than handle herself on the bridge of a starship. A second reading on the screen caught her attention. “What is that? Did they launch something?”

Bollox conferred with his sensor operator. “Yes, your Frequoqness. A smaller ship. Probably just a diversion. Or possibly the Anomaly is the diversion, and the real strike will come from the small ship. Or maybe they both plan a strike. We should pursue them both.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” Wurlitz replied. Obviously twenty years in seclusion had gotten their forces a little out of practice.


“They’re coming,” Dr. Natalya Kasyov said, watching the readouts on her console.

“Confirmed,” Tovar said. “A force of thirty-seven ships is following us from Multos.”

Bain whistled. “Sent the lot, didn’t they?”

“I doubt they have much else to do.”

“A fair point. Let’s see if they noticed the Rhone.”

“A dozen ships have split off from the main fleet and are following the raceabout’s course,” Tovar said.

“That answers that. Now it’s a race. Increase to warp nine, Zantak.”

“Captain, at that speed, we’re going to be coming up on the target pretty fast,” Kasyov said.

“That is an understatement,” Tovar said.

“I know, but as soon as the Multeks work out what system we’re heading for, they’ll be on us. Marsie was pretty confident that each star would have a layout of platforms similar to the one around Multos. You have to find me that hub.”

“Yes, sir,” Kasyov said, clearly not thrilled at the way this was going.

“Captain, the Multeks have accelerated to warp nine point three.”

“Worked it out, I see. Time for the final sprint. Maximum warp, Zantak. Push it as far as you can.”

In seconds, Kasyov called out, “Entering the Kalebbo system…scanning for the hub…got it!”

“Zantak! Get us to Kassie’s coordinates!” Bain ordered, leaping up out of his chair as the Anomaly dropped out of warp dangerously close to the system’s star.

“The Multeks are dropping out of warp behind us! We’re being hailed,” Tovar said.

“Ignore them.”

“They’re powering weapons.”

“Shields up.”

The Anomaly rocked slightly. “Warning shots,” Tovar said. “They are still hailing.”

Bain paced for a few moments.

“They’re powering up to fire again,” Tovar said. “Ships are moving to surround us.”

“Put them on screen,” Bain said. The rapidly approaching hub structure on the viewscreen was replaced by the bridge of the Goobly, where Captain Bollux sat in his own command chair. Frequoq Wurlitz stood beside him with two other familiar faces: Tanta and Jimsok.

“Greeting, Frequoq,” Bain said. “Fancy meeting you here.”

“We know what you’re planning, Bain,” Wurlitz said. “You have no idea what that would do.”

“Really? I think, if I understand it all correctly, that destroying this hub would cut off the power coming from this star that feeds whatever system is keeping your worlds out of phase with normal space. All nine stars need to be feeding it energy for it to work, so, if I destroy this, we go home.”

“And you drag us along,” Wurlitz said. “We can’t let that happen!”

“Why not? I know your race’s history. The xenophobia. The closed-mindedness. I thought you left all that behind over a century ago. What happened? Decide you didn’t like having neighbors after all? Too bad. The universe doesn’t work that way. You can’t just run away and hide, particularly when you’re holding other beings against their will or brainwashing them.”

Wurlitz frowned. “Brainwashing? I don’t…”

“Like those two!” Bain thundered, pointing at Tanta and Jimsok. “You ripped them away from their home and their own son! And thanks to you now they’ve betrayed that son.”

“We had to,” Tanta said.

“See!” Bain said. “You coerced them. Controlled their minds!”

“No! This is our home!” Jimsok said. “We chose to come here, and we don’t want to leave.”

“We can get you help back in the Federation.”

“We don’t want help!”

“You say that now.”

“Captain,” Tovar said. “I believe they’re telling the truth.”

“They think they are. That’s the Multeks’ control talking.”

“We’re not being controlled!” Tanta said.

“Of course you don’t think you are.”

“We’re not!”

“They’re not!” Wurlitz added.

“You would say that.”

“That’s enough, Bain! I know you didn’t choose to be here, but everyone else in the Enclave did. We made a choice, and we did what was necessary.”

“So did I,” Bain said. “You are going back to normal space.”

“If you’re referring to the other ship that you launched, we already know about it. Our forces will have caught up with it by now,” Captain Bollux said.

“I’m sure you have,” Bain said. “But that was just the second diversion. We’re the first.”

“The…first,” Wurlitz said, her mouth starting to gape.

“Right about now, an innocent looking pile of debris and refuse is approaching Multos’ sun. And right about now, the refuse is falling away from our raceabout.”

“Contact Multos!” Wurlitz shouted at Bollux. “Get a ship to the sun!”

“We brought everyone with us!” Bollux cried.

“I’m sure by now that my Chief Engineer and Second Officer have found a way to throw a wrench in the works,” Bain said, resisting the almost-overwhelming urge to smile.

“Multos is reporting a power fall off to the Phenomenal Phase Philer!” one of Bollux’s supernumeraries reported.

“It’s happening!” Kasyov said. “We’re returning to normal space!”

“BAIN!” Wurlitz screamed. “You’ve destroyed us!”

“Nonsense,” Bain said. “You can get used to living with the rest of the galaxy again.”

“But the Dillon Consortium…”

“Dillon Consortium?” Bain interrupted. “What the devil do they have to do with anything?”

“Captain,” Kasyov said. “We’re back in normal space, but I’m getting some strange readings from the Flibble system. It’s Bradley Dillon’s CasinoWorld.”

“What about it? That was evacuated twenty years ago. There’s nobody there.”

“It’s moving.”

“The planet?”

“The casino. It’s…changing.”

“We’re receiving a transmission,” Tovar said.

“From Starfleet?” Bain asked.

“From the casino.”

“Odd. Put it on.”

“It is audio only,” Tovar said.

The message began. “Attention Multek Enclave, contact had been re-established with Consortium Control. Lost revenue due to extended period out of normal operation with applicable interest has been calculated. A properly-authorized Dillon Consortium acquisition fleet shall be dispatched to collect payment. The unit will now ensure no attempts are made to avoid payment. All vessels are to return to their worlds of origin or they will be identified as unauthorized pirates. These worlds now belong to the Dillon Consortium. Repeat, these worlds now belong to the Dillon Consortium. Repeat, these worlds…”

“Turn it off,” Bain said.

“This is what we were trying to avoid, Bain!” Wurlitz snapped.

“I see that…now,” Bain replied. “What about that damned casino, Kassie? What’s it doing?”

“It’s now…a giant robot.”

“It’s WHAT?”

“A heavily-armed giant robot. And it just left the planet.”

“I have Starfleet,” Tovar said. “They are reporting that a Dillon Consortium fleet has left Consortium headquarters on Antares. Starfleet has been ordered not to interfere in the matter, since it is between the Consortium and the Multeks.”

“That was disconcertingly fast,” Tovar said.

“But they’re Federation members!” Bain protested. “We can’t…” he trailed off and looked at Wurlitz. “You lot never did get around to officially joining the Federation, did you?”

“We liked our autonomy,” Wurlitz said. “Which is WHY we LEFT! This is your fault, Bain! You did this to us! The end of the Multek Enclave is on your head!”

Bain winced. “And it seemed like such a good idea at the time.”


To Be Continued…


Tags: boldly