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. Paramount and Viacom have lost their grip on the Star Trek franchise. Now they want it back.

Author: Paul Cloutier
Copyright: 2000

Star Traks: Boldly Gone

“A Stacked Deck - Part Three: Double-Skunked!*”

by Paul Cloutier

The menacing image of the Borgified Tovar towered above the Bridge as Lieutenant Shelly Marsden desperately tried to think of some way out of this emergency. She looked back at the Anomaly’s Tac-Ops Console where her worst fears were realized - Bain was staring, slack jawed and seemingly catatonic at the image of his transformed son. She would get no help there. She knew that time was running out for the Romulan contingent of the crew, Doctor Umpaloompa was doing everything that he could, but the deadly virus ravaging their bodies would soon reduce their flesh to mush. Commander Prosak believed that she had a way to save them, but she was on Vulcan, still two hours away at high, anti-sing, speed. Well, at least this put to rest the question of Tovar’s fate. Now where was Kasyov? Putting these important, but, currently, superfluous, matters out of her head, she concentrated on the matter at hand. Tovar, or more correctly, Boy-Ar-Dee of Borg had demanded the ship’s recipe databases. This seemed to indicate that Toflay must have been in charge when Tovar had been assimilated. Of course that hideous apron was also a clue. In any event, this new manifestation of the Borg seemed to be wholly interested in recipes. Could she use that to her advantage? She sure could try.

“Boy-Ar-Dee, we will gladly turn over our complete recipe catalog, but, as one chef to another, I have a confession to make. We are currently on our way to meet our specialty chef who has created something she calls ‘Culinary Perfection’”

Marsden noticed that Boy-Ar-Dee’s eyes lit up (literally) when she said this.

“We can meet her, try out this new delicacy and bring it back here to you, if that’s all right with you?”

“How long will this trip take,” Boy-Ar-Dee’s voice was a cold as a dessert cooler.

“We will be back in about eight hours,” Marsden assured the Borg.

“Acceptable. We will remain here. If you have not returned in eight hours, we will make our course for the nearest inhabited planet and assimilate their foodstuffs. Their hunger will be on your heads!”

The main view screen blinked back to an exterior shot of that horrible paisley cube. As soon as it did, Yonk re-engaged the anti-sing drives to allow them to continue on their way to Vulcan.

Marsden and Gworos rushed to Bain’s side. His eyes were a terrible sight. Emptiness looked back from the depths of Bain’s soul. The fire that had burned there had been completely snuffed out.

“By Kahless!” swore Gworos. “He has lost his self-confidence. After all that has befallen him, lately, this last blow was too much.”

“You know, I’m wondering how much of what has happened lately has been accidental?” Marsden asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Remember yesterday at lunch?” Marsden demanded.

“Yeah, I lost at blackjack,” Gworos grumbled.

“Yes, so did I, but Bain won, remember?”

“Yeah he did! Against the house, even,” Gworos remembered.

“So, while having a briefing, eating lunch and being distracted by everyone else in the mess hall, he managed to beat the house at blackjack. What do you think the odds are that he lost a one-on-one match with Krib?” Marsden prodded.

“Slim to none!” replied Gworos, seeing where this was heading. “But, the FCC had all of those anti-cheating sensors and dampening fields in place.”

“I know, but maybe they missed something. I’ll take Bain to the pub. Maybe those familiar surroundings will snap him out of this. You analyze the film of the Tournament and see what you can find. We’ve got less than eight hours to get the old Bain back!”

Helmsman’s Log;

Stardate 177816.33 - We are just about to reach Vulcan. I am the only officer currently on the Bridge as Lieutenant Marsden tries to snap Captain Bain out of his funk by the, admittedly, novel approach of getting him blind, stinking drunk, and Lieutenant Gworos is in one of the media offices poring over the film of the Tournament hoping to find some evidence that Bain’s opponent, Krib, was somehow cheating. Doctor Umpaloompa, our current Acting Science Officer, is down in Sickbay trying to keep our Romulan crewmates alive long enough for to reach Commander Prosak. She thinks that she has the answer to their problem. We will know soon, enough. We have just reached transporter range of Vulcan. I, for one, am crossing my fingers!

Prosak hurried along the corridors of the Anomaly, with a young Vulcan woman rushing along with her. The Vulcan wore a simple robe, not the rich vestments that she usually wore, and it would have been difficult for anyone to recognize the High Priestess Sharona. The two women reached Sickbay where Prosak was stopped by Doctor Nooney.

“You can’t go in there!” he shouted. “There is too great a risk of con- tamination!”

Sharona turned to Prosak,

“He is correct, there is too much risk for you. You have facilitated this action, but now you must remain outside, lest you succumb to this evil as well.”

Serenely, the Priestess glided into Sickbay where the five Romulans were at death’s door. Seeing the five biobeds, the merest trace of a frown briefly touched her features,

“Where are the new vessels?”

“I assume that you mean the replacement bodies?” Umpaloompa asked.

“Yes, you would call them such,” agreed Sharona.

“They are still growing. It takes time, even with accelerated cloning technology to correctly grow someone a new body. They won’t be ready for at least another two days!”

“Without new vessels to contain the Katras, there is nothing that I can do,” Sharona explained.

“Can we not put the Katras in temporary vessels until the new bodies are fully grown?”

“I do not even know if this process is possible with Romulans. A disciplined, orderly Vulcan mind is one thing. A chaotic, violent Romulan mind is quite another. I may be able to facilitate transfer from a Romulan to another Romulan, I may even be able to transfer to a Vulcan, but I would need five vessels ready to receive the Katras.”

“What about a Cerebe?” broke in a voice.

“A what?” came the response from all parties present.

“Could you put all five Katras into me?” came the voice again, which could now be identified by everyone but Sharona as Cabral. For the Vulcan’s benefit, Cabral activated his hovercam and pointed it at himself. He then tied the hovercam’s output signal into the ship’s internal comm system and piped the picture down to Sickbay. The screen in Sickbay flashed to life showing the huge sphere that housed him. Sending the appropriate mental signal, Cabral caused the sphere to open revealing his appearance to the Vulcan. If she was surprised by the sudden revelation that the voice belonged to a giant brain, she certainly didn’t show it.

“It would be a terrible strain to keep the Katras separated, even if I can transfer them,” Sharona cautioned.

“I am presently capable of running the entire ship,” Cabral boasted. “How hard could keeping five personalities apart be?”

“Well, I am willing to give it a try if you are,” Sharona hesitantly agreed.

“Doctor Umpaloompa, how much longer do they have?” Cabral asked.

“Less than an hour by my estimates,” Umpaloompa reported.

“Sharona, how long will it take to do the transfers?” was Cabral’s next question.

“I really cannot say. This has never been attempted before,” was her reply.

“Very well,” Cabral decided, “we must do this now! Doctor, please inform Ensign Yonk that we will be taking the anti-sing drive offline for the foreseeable future.”

Umpaloompa hurried to contact the Bridge while Cabral contacted the transporter control computer and had himself transported to Sickbay. Sharona reasoned to herself that IDIC could, possibly, be taken TOO far, but quickly cleared her mind of such extraneous thoughts. She would need her complete concentration if she was going to pull this off.

Yonk did some quick calculations. If he pushed the polaron drives to their absolute maximum, it was just possible that they could make their deadline with the Borg. Well, he still had a few more fingers left to cross.

Bain was speaking now. Marsden considered that to be a good sign. Unfortunately, he appeared to be speaking to someone who wasn’t in the room. That had to be a bad sign. His hands were making odd motions in the air and then down on the table and it took Marsden several minutes to realize that he was playing out a hand of cribbage! As this understanding hit her, she realized that she could make out the words that Bain was mumbling, too;

“Allrighty-O, Bertie, that’s 12…Hah! and 18 for 6! 29 - a go?, 1 for me!”

For some reason Bain was replaying an old game he had played sometime in the distant past. Oh yeah, this was bad!

Gworos had seen the depths to which the once-proud Klingon Empire had sunk. He had visited Qo’noS not long ago and his experiences at the Nuq’neh Corral had, to put it mildly, sorely disappointed him. On the other hand, he had served with Bain for several years now and found the human captain to be more like his idea of the honorable Klingon warrior thant the modern-day Klingons had been. He therefore attacked his mission with the idea that Krib had been cheating. Somehow the Klingon had managed to fool the Federation Cribbage Congress, but Gworos now had a honorable mission to save his honorable captain. He would not fail! Of course, it would have been helpful if he had actually known anything about cribbage. Accessing the computer’s card game files he got a quick lesson in the game. Once that was out of the way, he went back to the file footage of the Tournament. Now knowing something about the game, he could see disconcerting patterns in Krib’s play. There were certainly times when it appeared that he knew what Bain was holding. Gworos noticed something else - Krib always put his selections into the crib, AFTER Bain had placed his. This would certainly be the case if he could tell what was being put in - but how could he?

Kasyov sat on the bed in her cell on Ogakuchakor Three. Sure it was a pretty comfortable cell, but it was the most incredibly boring place she had ever been stuck in. Even Siberia in the winter hadn’t been this bad! As though sensing her dilemma, her door suddenly swung open. In came mysterious figure #1 carrying a familiar-looking jar.

“I thought you might like to have someone to talk to,” he said, gaining him a friend for life.

As the helpful Orion left,locking the door behind him, Kasyov hurried over to the room’s new addition. As she reached the jar a familiar voice called out,

“Hello Doctor Kasyov, what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”

“Subject 341! Dean! Its so good to hear your voice again!” Kasyov shouted as happy to have someone to talk to as to see her favorite normal-sized brain, again.

“I’m afraid you might not be so happy after I tell you what 241 is planning. He’s been ranting about his ‘New Era of Orion’. For some reason he keeps calling himself ‘The One’. I tell he’s gone complete around the bend!”

“Yes, I kinda gathered that from my earlier conversation with him, Kasyov confirmed.

“Yes, but wait until you hear what he’s planning!,” Dean cautioned.

The brain in the jar began to speak. As it did so, Kasyov’s face got whiter and whiter as more and more of the deranged brain’s fiendish plot was revealed.

Tovar/Toflay/Boy-Ar-Dee stood in the massive kitchen that had been part of the renovation enacted by his assimilation. He idly tossed some paprika into the mixture already occupying a large mixing bowl on the table in front of him. Hundreds of suggestions came to him from the dataspace, but for every <<fold in some semi-sweet chocolate bits>> would be two or three <<it needs pickles!>>. Truly cooking by consensus was a trying proposition.

Chief Engineer’s Log - Supplemental;

Stardate 177817.15 - Well, we have just about an hour left before Boy-Ar-Dee’s deadline runs out. Ensign Yonk tells me that we’ll just barely make it back to the Paisley Borg ship in time. Sharona and Prosak have transferred the Romulan Katras into Cabral, apparently just in time, too. I’m told the Romulan’s bodies dissolved in an extremely messy way. Brazzell was transferred to his quarters just in time, or I’m sure he would have had another heart attack. Wow! everything is happening ‘just in time’ hopefully that means Bain will come around, too. Although so far all he’s down is down pint after pint of English stout while playing cards with imaginary opponents. Hey! this log stuff is getting easier! Well, accept for that ‘just in time’ stuff. <<sigh>>

“Lieutenant Marsden. Come to Media Room A, at once!” Gworos’ voice came across the ship wide comm system as a welcome change from Bain’s mumblings. Figuring that the Klingon had found something, she pulled Bain to his feet (over his whiny protests that he was having fun), and headed down to the ship’s Media Center.

The pair arrived at Media Room A to find the disturbing sight of a Klingon dancing from foot to foot in excitement. Seeing the two humans, Gworos stopped his jig and helped Marsden pull Bain into a seat in front of the large, High Definition monitor.

“Krib /was/ cheating!” Gworos exclaimed.

“But how did he conceal his devices from the FCC?” Marsden wanted to know.

“That’s the beauty of it! He didn’t have any devices!” Gworos was jumping up and down in excitement again.

“Huh?” was all Marsden could think of to say.

“Watch…” offered Gworos as he touched some controls on the Media Control Console. The large monitor went into split-screen mode. Gworos brought up a closeup of the back of one of Bain’s hands on one side and a closeup of the deck, facedown on the table, on the other side. He then zoomed into the cards as close as he could.

“See!” he said triumphantly!

Marsden, who definitely could NOT see, turned angrily on the Security Officer. Gworos, sensing that discretion was the better part of valor, pointed to a spot on one of the cards. Marsden looked closer, but all that she could see was the squiggly line pattern which adorned the card’s back. Gworos nodded his head so exaggeratedly that Marsden was afraid that it might fall off, until he realized that she STILL didn’t get it. Once again he wondered how this species had become the dominant force in the Federation. Gworos zoomed in even further until just a square centimeter of each card back was showing on each half of the monitor. Marsden still didn’t see anything. The squiggle on the left had a little curly-cue that curled up and the one on the right had a little curly-cue that curled down and… wait a minute. The backs on the two cards were different?

Gworos saw in her face that she had seen the discrepancy,

“So now you see,” he said smugly.

“Marked cards?” Marsden asked incredulously. “He was using marked cards?”

“Of course. As you pointed out, there was no way to sneak any devices into the room, but he managed to palm a custom deck of cards and swap it out for the FCC’s official deck on the first deal.”

“By the Great Bird! We were right! This whole thing was a massive setup!”

Marsden turned to Bain, but the entire conversation had blown right past the Captain. He was in a different time and place. Pushing his chair right up to the monitor, Marsden started shaking him to try to rouse him from his stupor. Finally, throwing protocol, caution and, likely, her career to the wind, she slapped Bain in the face. There was no response. She slapped him a little harder. Still no response. In despair, she started slapping the old man, alternating hands so that his head whipped back and forth, like someone watching a particularly vigorous tennis match. She didn’t realize it but tears were streaming down her face as she continued. Tovar was lost. Kasyov was lost. Cabral was likely going to go insane from the strain of keeping the five Romulan Katras separate. And /somebody/ had done all of this ON PURPOSE!. Anger and bitterness fought for dominance of her pysche. Just as she would have been as lost as Bain, she was suddenly brought back to the here and now as two strong hands grasped her wrists. Looked down, through her bleary eyes, she saw the old Bain fire back in the captain’s eyes.

“Now Marsie, there’s no need for all that,” he said comfortingly, apparently unaware that she had been slapping him for the last ten minutes.

Gworos quickly brought Bain up to date while Marsden composed herself. Seeing right off what Gworos had discovered, Bain’s face grew dark as the realization that he had been cheated set in.

“Lieutenant Marsden, could you please bring the officials from the Federation Cribbage Congress down here and show them this. Lieutenant Gworos and I have an appointment with a certain Mr. Krib,” intoned Bain, standing up and flexing his hands in a very suggestive manner.

“Can I bring my bat’leth, sir,” Gworos asked eagerly.

“Only if you bring one for me, too, my boy,” Bain answered.

Gworos rushed off to his quarters to retrieve the Klingon staff-swords.

“Welcome back, sir!” Marsden said, surprising herself by really meaning it.

“Damn old fool! Sitting here feeling sorry for myself while there’s some damned fools running around playing silly buggers! Marsie, if I ever start acting like such a complete ass again, you have permission to give me a swift kick, right in the backside!” yep, the old Bain was definitely back!

“Yes, sir!” Marsden enthusiastically shouted as she left to room to find the FCC officials.

Captain’s Log;

Stardate 177817.2 - Lieutenant Gworos and I have put Mr. Krib in the brig. There was a bit of fisticuffs when the brute tried to resist arrest, but Gworos and I managed to subdue him, after a bit. The subsequent interview revealed some surprises. Apparently he was hired by a group of Orion Separatists who felt that I was somehow a threat to their organization. Well, I should damn well hope so! They taught him an old Orion swindler’s trick that had been passed down through the generations - playing with a marked deck! Although I’ve never been one to dabble in the medical profession, I’m willing to bet that it will be some time before Mr. Krib is feeling up to trying that particular trick again. Or up to eating solid food, for that matter. Now, on to more important matters. We will rendezvous with these new Paisley Borg in a few minutes. As of yet, we haven’t got a plan to deal with these blighters!

“Yonk, do you have any idea of what the virus you people used to modify the Borg consisted of?” Marsden asked.

“It wouldn’t help, even if I did,” replied the diminutive Ferengi. “That virus took generations of iterations to split the Collective. We just don’t have that kind of time!”

“Damn! There must be some kind of Trojan we can use!” Gworos spoke up.

“I’m afraid not,” Doctor Umpaloompa had joined the brainstorming session. “The Borg have impressive defenses against exactly that sort of thing.”

“Trojan, Trojan…” Bain mused.

“I’m sorry, sir. We’ve pretty much ruled that out,” Marsden answered.

“Not a virus!” Bain shouted, “a horse!”

“What…? (pretty much everyone).

“The Borg want a culinary extravaganza - we’ll give them a culinary extravaganza along with a little surprise!”

“What kind of surprise, sir?” Gworos asked, curious.

“Oh, just a little something I saw one time at a bachelor party,” Bain said, giving Yonk a speculative look.

Yonk was sure he wouldn’t like this idea at all!

“I am Boy-Ar-Dee of Borg. The appointed time has arrived. You will surrender your new delicacy to us or face our bon-bons of death!” the Borgified image of Tovar threatened over the view screen. The Anomaly had made it back to the Borg ship with barely minutes to spare.

“Now see here,” Bain shouted at the image, “you can’t have this new creation! Its been made specially for the Vulcan/Romulan ‘Sorry we invaded your space’ reconciliation gala! Dignitaries from all over the galaxy will be there. This was to be the masterpiece that crowned the banquet!”

Marsden thought Bain was overdoing the histrionics a bit, but Boy-Ar-Dee was, appropriately, eating it up. There appeared to be drool dripping from his mouth as he replied,

“You will surrender this creation to us immediately. This culinary uniqueness will become part of the greater whole on our way to culinary perfection!”

“Captain, I’m sorry, we’re just going to have to give it to him,” Marsden spoke up sorrowfully.

“Dash it all, Marsie! We can’t disappoint all those dignitaries!”

“I’m sorry, sir, we just don’t have any choice!” she said, getting up from her seat at Helm and laying a hand on the captain’s shoulder.

Defeated, Bain hung his head and moved back to a table holding a covered object at the back of the Bridge. Whipping off the cover, he revealed a huge cake. Stuck all over the cake were sparklers, which ignited as soon as the cover was removed. The world’s most tacky-looking cake stood revealed to the drooling Borg.

“Yes! It is a masterpiece! We must possess it!” and a Borg transporter beam suddenly dematerialized the huge cake. The view screen again switched back to the external view of the hideously-decorated cube.

“Well, now all we have to do is wait,” Bain gloated.

“I have to admit, sir, I thought the sparklers were overdoing it a bit but, the Borg sure seemed to go for it,” Marsden admitted.

“Always remember, my girl, the more ridiculous something is, the better the Borg like it! Why, I once had a mate who made a fortune at the Flea Market selling Di-lithium powered turtleneck sweaters!”

“How do you power a sweater with Di-lithium?” Marsden asked.

“Very, very carefully,” was all that Bain would say.

The gaudy cake rematerialized in the massive Borg kitchen. Borg left their regeneration alcoves /en mass/ to come and witness the glory of this, their newest conquest. As they stood around the sparkling wonder, the cake suddenly exploded outward, revealing Ensign Yonk, who had a wrist-phaser strapped to each arm. Letting loose with the phasers, Yonk fired indiscriminately at everything around him. Borg dropped, stunned to the deck. Bit of cake were exploded in mid-air. Wild shots went shooting wildly into the depths of the cube where they did who knows what. After three minutes of panic-driven marksmanship, Yonk ran out of targets. Looking around, carefully, he found all of his opponents unconscious. Tapping his commpip, he contacted the Anomaly,

“Ensign Yonk here. Ummm… oh yeah, beachhead established. Area secure!”

Before he even finished, a strike team consisting of Gworos, Bain and another security officer, Lieutenant Lara Randall, materialized next to him. Surveying the cake-covered Ferengi, Bain offered him congratulations on a job well done. Slapping the Helmsman on the back, Bain sent him back to the ship to exchange places with Marsden. Shelly appeared and immediately headed off to find the ship’s engineering section. Gworos waded through the fallen Borg until he located Tovar. Dropping a transporter beacon on the unconscious Yynsian, Gworos had him beamed to Sickbay where Nooney and Umpaloompa where waiting to de-Borgify him. Satisfied that everything was under control, Bain beamed back to the Anomaly, absent-mindedly eating the cake that had stuck to his hand.

<Vioxx> Hey! Its dark in here! Where am I?

<Remax> Can’t you just be quiet! Isn’t it obvious? We’re dead!

<Vioxx> Dead! If we’re dead why is everything so dark?

<Nortal> By Jerichai! If I’m dead then I shall smite whoever is responsible!

<Remax> How do you plan to do that when you’re dead?

<Nortal> I shall haunt them like there’s no tomorrow!

<Zantak> I don’t think we’re dead.

<Vioxx> Neither do I! We’re just…

<Remax> Just what? Disembodied? Incorporeal? Can you touch anything?

<Vioxx> I could if I wanted to!

<Remax> Bah! You’re useless!

<Selex> Wait! There’s something else in here!

<Remax> Yes, I think you’re right. Can anyone make out what it is saying?

<Vioxx> No, its too faint for me to make out.

<Remax> Well be quiet for a minute and maybe we’ll be able to hear it better!

<Cabral> 40 more hours! 40 more hours! 40 more hours! 40 more hours!

Bain paced outside Sickbay. He needed answers that, hopefully, Tovar would be able to provide. Gworos and Randall had gone through the rest of the cube, stunning the remaining drones. They had then set up a portable security field inside one of the cube’s cavernous rooms, and put all the drones inside. A special Borg De-programming medical ship was being sent to convert the drones back to normal. Doctor Kasyov had not been among the drones, so her whereabouts were still unknown. During their search of the vessel, Gworos and Randall had turned up Federation propulsion equipment and Breen weaponry. They had also come across and entire room full of Breen armor and personnel equipment. Bain was sure that they had discovered the marauder. One thing puzzled him, though. He could understand the assault on Mirach Beta-Andromedae 6. That had drawn out the Anomaly and introduced the virus to the crew. But after that was accomplished, why attack Luffa? All that did was convince everyone of the Federation’s innocence. It just didn’t make sense. maybe Tovar could clear up a few things when he woke up. Hopefully they would have that much time.

Nooney came out of Sickbay and nodded to Bain, who hurried in to check on Tovar. Umpaloompa slid aside to allow the captain to get next to the biobed containing his son.

“We had a very difficult time with him,” Umpaloompa said. “His assimilation must have been very traumatic. He will likely be unconscious for another several hours, I’m afraid.”

“We just don’t have that kind of time, Doctor,” Bain argued. “All of these actions over here on the Breen border stink of a diversion. We need to get to the heart of the matter! Something big is in the works and we may be the only ones who have a hope of stopping it!”

A soft whispering behind him caused Bain to whirl about. Tovar seemed to be desperately trying to say something. Bain bent down over the Yynsian and strained to make out what Tovar was trying to relate. When he finally understood, he straightened back up and patted Tovar on the shoulder,

“There, there lad. You’ve done your part. Just rest now and leave everything to old dadsie!”

“What did he say?” asked Umpaloompa.

“REDRUM,” responded Bain.

“Red rum? The poor boy must be incredibly thirsty!” Umpaloompa said, concerned.

“Possibly,” Bain answered, “but that also happens to be the name of the group that Krib gave us. I knew all this was tied together, somehow! Doctor, take care of my boy, I’ve got some buttocks to prod!”

Prosak and Sharona were in the Anomaly’s guest cabin that had recently been occupied by Krib. Since he now had a nice, cozy cell to call his own, Sharona had been assigned to his former quarters. Since, before Krib’s incarceration, she had been expected to move in with Prosak, the High Priestess was offering up a prayer to the Vulcan gods for her salvation. It wasn’t that Sharona wouldn’t have been able to bunk with Prosak, her powers of meditation and stoicism were among the highest on Vulcan - otherwise she would never have been made High Priestess. It was just that Prosak, being in the presence of the High Priestess of the people that she had long emulated, was insufferably enthusiastic. Oh, she tried to hide it, but the thin veneer of emotionless indifference that she affected was so transparent that Sharona’s willpower was stretched to the breaking point, trying not to laugh. In her new quarters, Sharona was resting after the ordeal of transferring the Romulans’ Katras into Cabral. The process had actually gone quite well, and Prosak was ecstatic about what that might portend for the Unification process. Sharona, more used to silence than the Romulan’s constant prattling, was developing a headache. Finally, she settled on the only course of action that she could think of to end her torment - she asked Prosak to make some of her special spicy Plomeek soup. Happy to be able to contribute in a meaningful way, Prosak hurried off to her quarters where she kept her extra-special spices. If Sharona wanted soup, she’d get the best soup she’d ever tried!

Bain had made his way back to the Bridge. Catching up on the comm traffic that the ship had received while he had been otherwise occupied over the past two days, he came across an all points bulletin concerning the theft of the brains from the Neptune Research Center. Bain remembered that one of those brains had been a deranged Orion. Krib had mentioned that REDRUM was a group of dissatisfied Orion youth. Could there be a connection? That Orion brain had a thing for Doctor Kasyov, too, Bain mused. That had to be more than a simple coincidence. Now all they had to do was find them!

As if on cue, the main view screen sprang to life showing a very dirty Shelly Marsden. Grease smears covered her hair and face and steam and electrical burns had discolored her uniform in several places.

“Captain, I have some good news and some bad news,” she said.

“That’s about how today has gone, so far.” Bain laughed ruefully. “Go ahead and give me the good news.”

“This ship had the coordinates for an out-of-the-way little planet on the edge of Romulan space programmed into the subspace conduit generator. There is also some sort of notation identifying the planet with the letters R,E,D,R,U and…”

“M!” shouted Bain.

“Well, yes,” agreed the amazed Engineer. “Is that important?”

“That may be the best news we’ve had all day, Marsie.”

“Well, then here’s the bad news - one of Yonk’s stray shots has destroyed a large portion of the subspace generator input equipment. We can go to this REDRUM, whatever that is, but we won’t be able to use the subspace conduit after that.”

“Can we open the conduit large enough for the Anomaly to fly through with the cube?”

“To get to REDRUM, yes. But after that, the conduit is toast.”

“Understood, Marsie. Golly good show! let us know when you’re ready. REDRUM - here we come!”

Captain’s Log - Supplemental;

Stardate 177817.5 - After checking in with Admiral Larkin, she agrees that we should continue to pursue our investigation to the base of the REDRUM group. I was a bit concerned to learn that five of the crew have had their minds merged with Cabral while we grow new bodies for them, but everyone else seems comfortable with it, so who am I to raise a fuss. No one is comfortable with the fact that Cabral is currently unable to run the anti-sing engines, meaning that we are pretty much restricted to polarons. I was also surprised to learn that we have taken on board a Vulcan High Priestess, who was the one who transferred the Romulan’s minds in the first place! Since their bodies were in the process of dissolving at the time, I guess its a good thing she showed up! Marsden calculates that the trip through the subspace conduit will take about six hours so I have ordered Yonk, Gworos and Randall to get some sleep. We’ll see if I can remember how to pilot a ship!

“OK, Captain, we’re all set over here,” Marsden, looking even dirtier than before, announced.

“OK, Marsie, let ‘er rip!” Bain acknowledged.

In front of the two ships, a swirling ripple in space appeared. As it spun around, a tunnel opened in it, whipping off into subspace. Marsden sent the cube forward, through the tunnel, and Bain sent the Anomaly through, right behind it. For the next six hours, or so, the two ships would follow this winding tunnel through space, before, hopefully, arriving at the place where all of their questions would be answered. Assuming Bain didn’t accidentally fly out of the tunnel and destroy the ship, of course.

Captain’s Log;

Stardate 177818.25 - We have successfully traversed the Borg subspace conduit and arrived at Ogakuchakor Three, hopefully the secret base of REDRUM. Lieutenant Marsden’s fears about the subspace conduit generator seems to have been overly optimistic. The generator seems to have completely burned itself out. Looks like we’ll be more or less stuck here until High Priestess Sharona can remove the Katras from Cabral and he can re-integrate himself with the ship. I have ordered Lieutenant Marsden back to the Anomaly to get some sleep - the poor girl’s been on her feet for several days now. Let this Log show that I am entering the highest commendation into her permanent record for service above and beyond the call of duty during this crisis. Our scans have detected no ships in orbit and only two humanoid lifeforms down on the planet. There are a few indeterminate lifesigns which Doctor Umpaloompa can’t identify. I am beaming down with the Velvattian and a Security Detail to finally get some answers.

Bain, Umpaloompa, Gworos and Randall materialized in an empty room. The room was empty of furniture except for a ridiculously ornate throne-like chair, at one end. Bain realized that the room was set up like some kind of ancient throne room where a leader would address his people. Someone sure had an inflated sense of themselves, not to mention a truly absurd sense of the dramatic. Bain mused that Prosak would probably get a kick out of this and made a mental note to invite her down once everything was straightened out.

Umpaloompa pulled out a specially modified quadcorder and hooked it directly to several of its tentacles. Gesturing with some of its free tentacles, the Velvattian slid forward, out of the room and down a narrow corridor. Turning into a small alcove, the virologist approached a shelf covered with jars. Inside each jar was a living brain! So, REDRUM /had/ had something to do with the brainnappings from Neptune!

Randall was left behind to transport the brains up to the Anomaly while the rest of the Away Team continued deeper into the REDRUM stronghold. The next door they came to was locked and Gworos drew his phaser to blast it open, but Umpaloompa merely brushed him out of the way and ripped the door off of its hinges, and tossed it aside, down the corridor. Gworos, not to be deterred, dove into the room and rolled into an offensive position training his phaser on the room’s occupant - Doctor Natalia Kasyov!

Kasyov, apparently stunned by the sudden rescue, just sat where she was for a moment before jumping to her feet and announcing,

“Gworos! Thank the Great Bird! You have no idea what they are planning! We must stop them! They’ve destroyed the captain and are trying to wipe out the whole Romulan Empire!”

“Now, now, Kassie! Reginald Bain is made from sterner stuff than that!” said Bain striding into the room, larger than life.

“Captain!” Kasyov exclaimed, rushing across her room and throwing her arms around Bain’s neck. “You’re alright!”

“Well, urmm, yes! Right as rain, my girl,” stammered out an obviously embarrassed Bain.

“Gworos, please take Subject 341 back to the Anomaly,” Kasyov asked, indicating the jar on the dresser.

“We are in enemy territory, Doctor. I must stay and protect the captain,” Gworos argued, holstering his phaser and returning his ever-present bat’leth to his hands.

“I’ll take him back,” decided Umpaloompa. “Since we have determined that the indeterminate lifesigns belonged to these brains, and since you have found your Science Officer, my presence is superfluous, anyway.” It then slithered over to the dresser, retrieved the brain in a jar, and transported away.

“Someone will have to explain to me who that is, but right now we need to find Percival. He’ll be able to help us,” Kasyov decided, leading Bain and Gworos back into the corridor and further into the stronghold.

<<Percival?>> Bain thought. <<No wonder the poor boy turned to crime!>>

The trio quickly made their way down the remaining length of the corridor to find themselves in a doorway opening into a large, darkened room. The darkness made it difficult to make out anything, clearly, but it was obvious a figure was walking towards them, from out of the darkness. A sudden flash of light in the figure’s hand sent Gworos into a flurry of activity. With his left hand he pushed Bain and Kasyov back into the corridor, while his right hand whipped overhead and hurled his bat’leth straight into the chest of the approaching figure!

“Gworos!” Kasyov shouted, appalled as she ran forward to the fallen Orion.

Bain, fumbling around in the doorway, found the light switch and flicked it on. The sudden illumination made everyone blink and, when their eyes cleared, they saw a completely nondescript Orion lying on the floor. Nondescript except for the rather large bat’leth sticking out of his chest. Anyone would have noticed that!

“Nice throw!” Bain exclaimed, slapping Gworos on the back.

“It wasn’t a nice throw! Kasyov yelled. “This is Percival, he was trying to help us!” she continued, holding up the PADD that had been in the Orion’s hand.

“Now, now,” Bain soothed Kasyov, “heat of the moment and all that. You can’t blame Gworos for thinking he was protecting us, after all. Considering what this fellow’s little group has been up to you can hardly blame the lad!”

“He’s right, Natalia,” Percival (formerly mysterious figure #1, for those who haven’t been paying attention). “It started out as a lark - a game. No one ever said that genocide was wrong! We were just making our mark in the galaxy. Then Poindexter had that stupid idea to go and get your 241 and everything went to Hell. I just wanted a comfortable life, I never set out to be a mass-murderer!” he fell silent as a gout of blood oozed out of his mouth and he lost consciousness.

“Captain, we have to get him to Sickbay,” she said, handing him the PADD. “That should contain all the information that REDRUM has on the Romulan virus as well as their plan to deploy it.”

There was a funny look in Kasyov’s eyes, that, somehow, made Bain very uncomfortable. Without any argument, he contacted the Anomaly’s transporter control computer and had everyone beamed back to the ship.

Kasyov rematerialized in Sickbay, along with her patient. She found Doctor Nooney, Doctor Umpaloompa and, to her great surprise, Cabral there as well.

“What’s wrong with Cabral,” she demanded.

“Nothing, nothing,” Nooney soothed her. “We’re just monitoring him as he houses the Katras from Vioxx, Remax, Nortal, Zantak and Selex.”

“And you call that ‘NOTHING’,” she yelled.

“Doctor, Cabral is just fine at present, what about this Orion gentleman?” Umpaloompa interjected.

“He’s dying,” Nooney announced.

“Well, yes, that bat’leth was kind of a giveaway, there,” Umpaloompa agreed. “But with that kind of damage, there is very little that we can do. Both lungs, his heart, his spine and several major blood vessels have all been severed.”

“Yes, I know,” Kasyov agreed, focusing her attention away from Cabral for the moment. “But his brain is still intact.”

“That’s right you’re the brain researcher,” Umpaloompa remembered.

“Yes, and I want to remove his brain immediately,” Kasyov confirmed.

“Very well, That shouldn’t be a problem,” Umpaloompa agreed.

“Right! First of all we’ll need a jar…”

Umpaloompa turned around and seized Nooney’s lollipop jar from a desk. Dumping its contents, he triumphantly held out his prize to Kasyov.

The Russian smiled and immediately replicated a nutrient bath the fill the jar. Ignoring Nooney’s plaintive wailing, the two doctors got to work.

Bain left Gworos and Yonk to handle the Bridge while he retreated to his Captain’s Lounge to review the data on Percival’s PADD. The REDRUMers’ plan had been a simple modification of the classic ‘Diversion/Division/Destruction’ gambit that was taught at Starfleet Academy. There didn’t seem to be any explanation for the attack on Luffa, but everything else was spelled out in detail;

  1. Find an easy target - preferably one weakened already by conflict (Romulus) 2. Create an effective weapon which would be devastating to your enemies, but

harmless to you (Lenik’s modified virus) 3. Create a crisis far removed from your target area to draw resources away from the

target (the attack on Mirach Beta-Andromedae 6) 4. Test the weapon (Anomaly’s Romulan crew) 5. Remove your most dangerous opponent (undermine Bain’s confidence) 6. Strike! (send a missile at Romulus with a bio-warhead containing the virus)

Wait just a minute! ‘send a missile at Romulus with a bio-warhead containing the virus’? Bain quickly scanned the PADD for details about Step Six. What he found chilled him to the bone. The REDRUMers’ Cloaked D’Mynus scoutship had been delivered, via subspace conduit, to the outskirts of Romulan territory. From there the ship would sneak close enough to the Romulan homeworld to be able to launch its missile too close for the planetary defenses to be able to shoot it down. Bain did some quick calculations - the Death Knell would be in position in about four hours. Consulting Starfleet’s deployment database, he discovered that there were no ships that could reach Romulus fast enough to intervene. The entire Romulan fleet, as well as all Starfleet assets in theater were deployed along the outskirts of the Romulan Empire, repairing damage caused by the recent war with the Vulcans. With a sudden epiphany, Bain realized that the stolen scout ship had access to the same databases and that the REDRUMers had chosen this particular time on purpose. If only the Anomaly’s anti-sings were online, they could reach Romulus with time to spare, but with Cabral being used as some sort of ‘Katra Repository’ the anti-sings were all but useless.

Bain, decided to report into Larkin with the information that had been uncovered on Ogakuchakor Three. Perhaps her cybernetic brain could offer a solution.

Sickbay was, downright messy. Brain transplants aren’t the neatest of operations, in any case, and Percival’s thoracic injuries had only added to the grue. Kasyov and Umpaloompa were stripping off soiled surgical gear as they surveyed the lollipop jar’s new occupant.

Suddenly, Percival’s voice sounded, speaking in time to the blue light that had been rigged up on top of the jar,

“Hello, Hello, where am I?”

“Hello, Percival. This is Doctor Kasyov. I have removed your brain and placed it in a jar. Is that OK with you?”

“You put my brain… in a JAR?” Percival’s voice was rather indignant.

“Well, yes.” Kasyov affirmed.

“So you mean, I get to lay around all day, and have food and shelter and never have to do anything? Hell yes, I’m OK with that!” Percival sounded quite pleased by this turn of events.

“That’s my boy!” Kasyov grinned impishly. Turning to Umpaloompa, she asked,

“OK, what’s the story with Cabral?”

“Well, as you might know, five members of the crew were used as test subjects for this super-virus that the REDRUMers developed.”

“Yes, Percival shared with me all of their plans.”

“Well, did he share with you the fact that the virus caused its victim’s bodies to dissolve into goo?”

“Yvot!” she exclaimed, “no he didn’t!” She looked darkly at the brain, who had the decency to, somehow, look embarrassed.

“Yes, well we held the bodies together as long as we could, but we ran out of time. So a Vulcan High Priestess transferred the Romulans’ Katras into Cabral for safekeeping while we grow some new bodies for them.” Umpaloompa explained.

“Oh my God! The REDRUM plan called for a missile to be exploded over Romulus with the virus as its payload! The whole planet’s population will be turned to mush!”

Nooney, eager to show that he was part of the team, interjected,

“Oh no! Without any mouths, how will they be able to enjoy their lollipops?”

Kasyov and Umpaloompa shared a look. Somehow, without any sort of human features, and definitely without a face of any kind, the Velvattian was able to convey to Kasyov the exact same message that she was sending to it; ‘This guy is a loon!”.

Kasyov and Umpaloompa decided to head back to the Bridge to see if Bain had managed to come up with a plan of action (not to mention to get away from Nooney).

Kasyov and Umpaloompa exited the Bridge’s aft turbolift in time to hear the end of a conversation between Bain and Larkin.

“Please repeat that command, Admiral,” Bain said, his rigid posture and too proper attitude speaking volumes about his feelings about that command.

“Very well, Captain,” Larkin would show that she could play that game, too. “I hereby order you to remove the Romulan Katras from Cabral, reintegrate your giant brain into the Anomaly’s systems and head to Romulus. There you will intercept and neutralize, by any means necessary, the REDRUM missile, the REDRUM ship and REDRUM, itself. Did you understand THIS time?”

“Yes, Admiral. Orders received. Anomaly out!” Bain was obviously perturbed as Larkin’s image faded from the main view screen.

“I refuse to accept that!” Bain shouted as he turned away. Seeing Umpaloompa and Kasyov on the Bridge, he hurried over to the pair.

“Doctors,” said offering Percival’s PADD to Umpaloompa, “take a look at this and see if you can find any way of neutralizing that damned virus!”

“I will do my best, sir,” Umpaloompa accepted the PADD and headed down to the Science Labs to start analyzing the data.

“Kassie, I need you to go fetch Marsie. I had sent her off to bed, but I’m afraid that we’re going to need her input if we’re going to solve this one. Meet me in the Briefing Room in thirty minutes, will you?” Bain turned to return to his Lounge. He had to try to come up with something, anything to save Romulus AND his crew.

Captain’s Log - Supplemental;

Stardate 177818.5 - I have called a briefing to discuss our options. I don’t mind admitting that it looks pretty bleak. We have the choice of allowing the entire population of Romulus to be destroyed, along with a strong possibility that the entire Romulan Race will be taken with it, or sacrificing five of my crew. I’ll admit that, when presented in those terms, it seems pretty straightforward. That whole ‘needs of the many…’ thing, you know. But, dash it all, this is MY crew we’re talking about! Sure someone might get blown up now and again, fortunes of war and all that, but this is just plain murder. Hopefully, one of the crew will have an idea.

Prosak, Sharona, Yonk, Gworos, Kasyov, Marsden and Umpaloompa had joined Bain in the Anomaly’s main Briefing Room. The FCC equipment had been removed some time ago and, so, the crew were back in familiar surroundings. After Bain made sure that everyone was up to date on the sorry state of affairs, he turned to Umpaloompa. The virologist had been studying the PADD that Percival had prepared which documented, among other things, the process by which the virus had been created.

“First of all let me explain that REDRUM didn’t create the virus. They merely modified a virus that had been created by someone else. Unfortunately, the original virus took decades of work to create. And it will likely take just as long to find a cure for it. I’m sorry, but there is no way to save someone once they have been infected. The virus is better than 99.9% fatal.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Bain acknowledged the Velvattian’s efforts and turned to Ensign Yonk, “Have you been able to determine if there is any chance of another Federation ship or a Romulan ship being able to intercept the Death Knell before it can launch the missile?”

“Sir, I computed courses, distances and everything else that I could think of. There is no one else who can possibly reach Romulus in time. Even if we give the Romulans the course data for the Death Knell, their planetary defenses are useless against Cloaked ships.”

“Bloody stupid design flaw for a people who rely so much on Cloaking, if you ask me,” Bain grumbled. “Alright, looks like you’re our last hope, Priestess.”

“I am sorry, then to have to disappoint you, Captain. You must understand, Katras are not like sacks of potatoes. You cannot just move one from one person to the next, as you please. It was incredibly lucky that I was able to move them out of your crew members at all. Moving them from Cabral into anyone other than their proper vessels, is just impossible. Doing so would undoubtedly result in the loss of the Katras and, quite possibly, the death of the new vessel.”

“So, if we try to put them in someone else’s body, we’ll kill both of them?”

“Yes, this is so,” Sharona affirmed.

“And how long until their new bodies are ready,” was Bain’s next question.

“At least twenty hours, Captain,” replied Umpaloompa regretfully.


Marsden watched all of the discussion taking place around her with a detached attitude. The few hours of sleep that she’d gotten had only served to bring into focus just how exhausted she really was. Later, she would blame that exhaustion for what she did next,

“You DO realize that we CAN use the anti-sings without Cabral, don’t you?”

Stunned silence met this pronouncement.

“What do you mean? Whenever we do that we burn them…” Prosak’s voice tailed off as she realized what Marsden was suggesting. It WAS possible to use the anti-sing drive without Cabral - ONCE. The engines would be reduced to slag in the process, but the ship would get to that one, all-important destination.

As understanding dawned in the eyes of the assembled crew members, they realized what a great sacrifice the Engineer was making. Repairing the engines after this maneuver would require hundreds on man-hours, most of which would require either the direct input or, at least supervision, of the Chief Engineer. After all, Marsden had designed the Anomaly. She must really feel strongly about this, either that or she was really, really tired!

Bain started barking out orders as the Briefing Room cleared. Bain, Prosak, Yonk and Gworos headed for the Bridge. Umpaloompa and Kasyov went back to Sickbay to keep an eye on Cabral. Sharona went back to her guest quarters to begin her meditations. With only twenty hours left until she would be able to attempt to re-integrate the Katras with their new vessels, she had a lot of meditating to do. Marsden didn’t move. She was fast asleep with her head resting on the table and a thin stream of drool making a little puddle beneath her.

Back on the Bridge, Yonk checked and rechecked his calculations. They would get one chance at this. If they missed their target by too much, they would have no hope of catching the Death Knell. Finally satisfied that he had made no error, he spoke up,

“Sir, my calculations are complete. We will need to activate the anti-sings in just over four minutes. I have set our course and speed, already.”

“Its your show, Ensign. Send us on our way whenever you see fit,” Bain acknowledged.

The seconds ticked by with a stubborn ploddingness that would have made sloth a deadly sin, had it not already been one. Just when Bain was absolutely certain that he would go insane if they didn’t move right NOW, they did.

The ship traveled at anti-sing speeds for just over 17 minutes while alarms rang, cheerfully describing the damage that was being done to their primary propulsion systems. The alarms hadn’t had an opportunity to ring in some time, so they were doing their best to make up for lost time by ringing their little bells out. The ship emerged from the warp distortion produced by the subspace bubble that ships had traveled in since the invention of warp drive, to find Romulus spinning serenely in front of them.

“Prosak, flood the area around the ship with tachyon particles,” Bain ordered. “Gworos, keep your eyes peeled. There should be no official Romulan ships in the area, so if you see anything, don’t wait for me to give the order - just blast away!”

Prosak was standing by Gworos at Tac-Ops. For this operation she would be handling the ‘Ops’ while Gworos took care of the ‘Tac’.

“By Kahless! They’re right below us!” Gworos shouted as he loosed several Quantum torpedoes at their foe.

Their foe responded by ferociously exploding, Cloaking ships being known for not being able to have shields and Cloaks up at the same time.

“That was it?” Yonk asked disbelievingly.

“Well, sometimes you just get lucky, you…”

“Wait!” Gworos’ shout interrupted Bain’s platitudes. “They managed to fire the missile!”

“Well, shoot it down, man!” Bain encouraged the security officer.

“I can’t get a lock. They’ve Cloaked the missile!”

“Prosak - more radiation!” Bain ordered.

“I can’t, sir. We are too close to the planet. Releasing radiation this close could be just as bad as the virus!”

“Well, if we can’t get a lock on what are we supposed to do, look out the window?” Gworos asked.

“You know, that’s not a bad idea,” Bain responded, a thoughtful look in his eyes.

Bain was standing on the Anomaly’s hull, his magnetically-soled boots keeping him from flying off into space. He wore a Starfleet standard EVA suit and carried a Starfleet standard compression phaser rifle. He had to admit that he was looking forward to this. Taking careful aim, he fired at the clearly visible missile, but his shot just glanced off of its body. Grinning he upped the setting on his rifle and radioed for Yonk to move the ship closer. Prosak and Gworos were looking out of windows on the Bridge to steer the Helmsman in the right direction. Re-sighting his target, Bain loosed another blast at the missile. This shot had the desired effect as the missile blossomed into a rather unimpressive fireball. <<Oh well,>> thought Bain, philosophically <<you can’t have everything!>> The captain made his way back to the nearest airlock, where he would remove his EVA suit. The stupid grin he would be wearing for quite some time to come.

Chief Science Officer’s Log;

Stardate 177820.9 - Umpaloompa and Nooney have decided that the new bodies for Vioxx, Remax, Nortal, Zantak and Selex are ready. Sharona has converted Sickbay into a close approximation of a Vulcan temple. She has placed so many candles around that Shelly was joking about them setting off the shipboard fire suppression system. At least I THINK she was joking.

Sharona had been working now for over two hours. Apparently transferring Katras BACK to an empty vessel was quite a bit more taxing than moving them out in the first place. It, apparently had something to do with the new vessels never having had Katras, before. Finally, she removed her hands from Cabral and Remax, whose had been the last Katra to be moved. Bowing her head as her features showed her fatigue, she allowed Prosak to help her from Sickbay and back to her quarters. Nooney quickly hopped around Sickbay like some demented frog, putting out the candles, mumbling all the time about “playing with fire.” The five biobeds, showing normal Romulan lifesigns for the first time since the newly grown bodies had been placed upon them, were glided on their anti-grav systems out of the center of Sickbay and into the more private nooks which were where patients normally stayed while being treated.

In another such nook, Shelly Marsden was sitting next to Tovar’s bed, his hand held firmly in hers. She had gotten sixteen hours of sleep and then gone to check out Main Engineering. Seeing the mess there, she had immediately come to Sickbay to be present when Tovar finally awoke after going through Borg-reversal surgery. She smiled to herself as she remembered Tovar sitting like this with her as she recovered from the injuries that she had suffered during the last battle with the Vulcans. <<So this is what they mean by Synchronicity,>> she thought to herself.

With a slight groan the Yynsian opened his eyes. He looked confused until he looked over and saw Shelly sitting next to him. The smile that came over his face then was like the sun coming up on Earth. Shelly smiled back. Tovar seemed to settle back in the bed a little deeper and then went right back to sleep. It didn’t matter, though. Shelly had seen enough. Placing a gentle kiss on Tovar’s forehead, she slipped out of the nook and headed back to Engineering. She had a lot of work to do.

Kasyov moved over to where Cabral sat, all alone in the middle of Sickbay. After the ritual, he had closed his sphere, but so far, he hadn’t uttered a word. Reaching his sphere, she contacted the transporter control computer and had the two of them beamed to Science Lab Four. Cabral activated his internal systems and settled back into his housing and he uttered the first sound he had made since having the Romulan Katras transferred into his mind - a deep sigh of contentment.

“How are you feeling,” Kasyov asked, softly.

“Oddly enough, like I’ve had five bickering Romulans stuck in my head for the last two days!” Cabral sounded tired, but seemed to still have his sardonic sense of humor.

“I’m glad you’re OK,” Kasyov replied.

“I am fine, Natalia. I just need some rest,” Cabral assured his closest friend.

“OK, I’ll let you rest,” she said. Then, giving his sphere a quick peck, she slipped out of the lab.

Captain’s Log;

Stardate 177821.4 - Apparently Admiral Larkin is a bit miffed at us for disobeying a direct order. She has declined to send us any Starfleet assistance to repair our burnt out engines. Oh well, good thing we have a planet full of grateful Romulans ready to offer aid! Never thought that I’d be happy to be disabled in orbit around Romulus, but there you go. We could travel back to Vulcan on Polaron drives, but Ambassador Rorshak has insisted that we remain at Romulus so that we might be properly honored for our actions in saving the Empire. Of course this means that we won’t be able to attend all of those important briefings on Vulcan, but we’ll just have to soldier on, somehow!

The Federation Cribbage Congress is all atither about their involvement, however peripheral it actually was, in all this bother. They have proclaimed me the winner of this year’s Tournament and announced that I am now the Most Exalted Penultimate Champion of all Time. Ha! Silly buggers think they can get me to retire by giving me pompous titles! Although ‘penultimate’ DOES have a nice ring to it…

The Neptune Research Station is sending a ship to recover their brains. Shame about that 241 fellow being blown up and all.

We seem to have misplaced a Raceabout, somewhere. The Frinoqua was, apparently, assimilated by the rogue Green Borg before Toflay took them over and changed them to the Paisley Borg. Maybe the Borg De-programming team that get’s assigned to that ship can un-assimilate it while they are working with the crew.

High Priestess Sharona has been awarded the Federation medal of honor for all of her help in this affair. While I think this is mostly a political award, all the better to patch things up between the Federation, the Romulans and the Vulcans, I can’t deny that she DID save five of my crew, and for that I’ll always be grateful. A Romulan high-speed transport is ferrying her back to Vulcan, even now.

Doctor Umpaloompa has been granted an appointment to the Romulan government. They will be turning over all the data they have on Doctor Lenik’s experiments with the hopes that Umpaloompa will be able to come up with some sort of vaccination against the virus, just in case anyone rediscovers it by accident.

Doctor Nooney predicts that our ‘new’ Romulans should be waking, soon. I will be heading down to Sickbay as soon as I finish this Log to be there when they awaken.

There is still one thing that bothers me about this whole affair, but with all of the REDRUMers dead, it seems that this one loose end will never be tied up.

Bain arrived in Sickbay just as Vioxx and Nortal were regaining consciousness. The two appeared none the worse for wear.

“By Jenichai! What a horrible nightmare!” Nortal exclaimed as she became fully awake.

“Me too!” Vioxx agreed. “I was trapped in the darkness with you, Remax, Zantak and Selex.”

“Wait a minute!” Nortal shouted. “That was MY dream!”

By now Selex, Zantak and Remax has awakened and affirmed that they had all had the same dream. Bain decided to set them straight,

“Sorry, chaps, but that was no dream. That virus pretty much killed you all and we had to stick your minds into Cabral for safekeeping while we grew you new bodies!”

“Wait a minute! This isn’t my body?” Vioxx asked aghast.

“Nope, its a brand new body,” chimed in Nooney.

Remax was touching his left arm in wonder. He had worn an artificial arm since coming aboard the Anomaly, the result of a little hunting accident that had happened just before he and the others had been rescued by Bain. Of course, he had been the prey in that little hunting excursion, but it was best not to dwell on tiny details like that.

Soon, the Romulans were arguing amongst themselves about the effects this would have on their careers, Unification and a myriad of other petty details. Seeing that things were well on their way back to normal, Bain stepped back into the main area of Sickbay. He decided to pop in and take a quick look at Tovar, while he was down here. Marsden had informed the captain that Tovar had come out of his post-operative stupor and was sleeping peacefully. Bain looked down at his adoptive son with pride in his eyes. For decades, Starfleet had practically worshipped that prattling French twit - what was his name? Picknose? Picayune? No! Picard! When that weenie had gotten himself assimilated, he had become just another drone. Ha! Tovar gets assimilated and he takes over a whole bloody Collective! Yep! He was a Bain alright! He left Tovar’s nook after watching over his son’s still form for several long minutes. As he turned to leave Sickbay, he noticed Kasyov standing near a back shelf, so he came over to talk to her.

“Neptune is sending a ship to collect their brains, Kassie, he informed her. “Shame about losing 241, even though he certainly had it coming, the blighter!”

Kasyov stepped back a bit from the shelf, allowing Bain an unobstructed view of the five jars.

<<Wait a minute! 141, 341, 441, 541 - that’s four!>> Bain stared closer. Sure enough, one of the jars was labeled ‘241’. Confused, Bain looked to Kasyov for an explanation.

With a mischievous twinkle in her eye, Kasyov introduced,

“Captain Bain, meet 241, 241 - Captain Bain.”

“Pleased to be, finally, formally introduced!” 241 said.

“Percival?” Bain asked, not believing his ears.

“The one and only!” agreed the brain.

“So, you have all of your brains, after all,” Bain said to Kasyov.

“And all my marbles, too,” she laughed.

Bain looked confused but he shrugged it away. With one of the REDRUMers alive, he could finally tie up that loose end.

“241, I understand everything that was done except one little thing?”

“Oh? What is that, Captain?”

“Why did you attack Luffa?”

“Are you kidding? Anti-door-to-door salesman technology would have given the New Orion Syndicate the most desirable property in the Sector! We would have made a real killing in Real Estate!”

“What? With dozens of planets covered in goo?” demanded Bain.

“Hey! That goo was biodegradable!” defended 241. “Now, can you answer one question for me?”

“I will try,” Bain answered.

“When you were down on Ogakuchakor Three…” 241 trailed off.

“Well? Out with it, man!” Bain prompted.

“You didn’t see a duck running around anyplace, did you?”


************************************************************************** *In cribbage, the first Player to peg 121 points is the winner. If the losing Player has less than 91 points he is “skunked.” If he has less than 61 points he is “double-skunked.” A “double-skunk” is a resounding victory for the winner, an embarrassing defeat for the loser. **************************************************************************

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