Paramount owns Star Trek. Alan Decker created Star Traks. A variety of other Traks series have been created by a variety of different people. Brendan Chris created Star Traks Silverado. Hands off, It's mine. Leximas the kitty owns a tiny kitty brain that poorly understands the difference between her scratching post and my leg.

Author: Brendan Chris
Copyright: 2004

“And it is with great pleasure,” Chief Engineer Simon Jeffery stated pompously (or as pompous as his accent would allow) “that Ah declare Holodeck 1 complete, tested and ready for business!”

“Here here!” called out Stafford. He handed Jeffery a champagne bottle, which the shorter man promptly smashed against the holodeck doors.

“Maintenance,” Noonan said softly into the comm as the other officers applauded, “cleanup in Holodeck 1.”

“Wet-vac or dry-vac?” came the bored voice of the Maintenance crewman.


“Nice! Did somebody get some action?’

“No,” Noonan replied, “it’s just a spilled beverage.”

“Bummer. We’ll be right down. Maintenance out.”

Jeffery stood by the holodeck doors as the twenty or so highest ranking officers on the ship shuffled through. Rank had its perks; being the first to use the new holodeck was one of them. He noticed that Stafford was walking down the corridor, away from the holodeck doors.

“Hey Chris,” he called, “Where ya goin’?”

“To get another bottle of champagne, since you smashed mine all over the place!” Stafford said, annoyed.

“But Ah thought we were…y’know….’christening’ the new holodeck?”

“Get real! That was for people to drink!” Stafford shook his head as he walked down the corridor, “Who christens a holodeck anyway?” he muttered.

Returning to the holodeck, Stafford found himself standing on a beach on a hot, sunny day. He let out a long sigh of contentment as he stopped by a picnic table to add his new bottle of champagne to the rest of the snacks and beverages. Looking out at the water he could see T’Parief riding the Andorian equivalent of a surfboard. It was pretty similar to the Terran version except with spikes on the sides and mounted on the front, to better skewer any annoying swimmers that get in your way. (Stafford had made Jeffery test the holodeck safeties four times before allowing the holodeck to open.) Ensign Yanick bobbed nearby in a tube, binoculars in one hand and a drink in the other, dark sunglasses covering her eyes.

Stafford heard a squeal behind him, and saw in surprise than an entire waterpark had been added to the beach program. Almost two dozen waterslides led to crystal clear pools less than a hundred feet from the sandy beach.

“Awesome!” he called out, running for the stairs. He quickly got in line behind an attractive young brunette in a very conservative one-piece. It wasn’t quite conservative enough to hide her firm, attractive buttocks though.

“Hey,” Stafford said with a grin, “Nice bathing suit, you look great!”

Lieutenant Jane Fifebee turned to look at him.

“Oh, s**t,” Stafford said softly.

“Thank you, Captain,” Fifebee replied stiffly.

“I’m sorry, Fifebee,” Stafford stuttered, “I didn’t know it was you!”

“And the fact that it is me makes me less attractive?’

“No! Of course not! It’s just, we work together and all…it wouldn’t be right of me to say stuff like that about you. We see each other every day!”

“And is my company so repulsive that you cannot bear to see me any more?” Fifebee asked coolly.

Stafford struggled to find a response until he noticed the slight twitch at the corner of her lip.

“You’re just trying to give me a hard time, aren’t you,” he said with a laugh.

“Yes. And I succeeded!” Fifebee gave a surprisingly girlish giggle.

“You’re really starting to act like a real woman too!” Stafford said.

“Indeed? Thank you.”

They had reached the front of the line and the entrance to the slide.

“What is the appeal of this, anyway?” Fifebee asked.

“It’s fun,” Stafford said, “you slide down, going through twists and turns as fast as you can, then you make a big splash at the bottom.”

“Sounds rather juvenile.”

“So? Like making fun of Jall isn’t?”

“Point taken. How does one start?”

“Like this!” Stafford gave Fifebee an evil grin, accompanied by a good shove. The holographic officer screeched in surprise as she slid backwards down the slide and around the first turn.

“BONZAII!!” Stafford shouted and he slid down after her.

“That was NOT funny!” Fifebee objected as the two soaking wet officers walked back to the beach after several more trips down the various slides.

“Yes, yes it was,” Stafford chuckled.

Fifebee wandered over to where Ensign Puk was working to build a sand castle. Stafford found a lounge chair and lay back to enjoy the sun. It had been a LONG time since they had been able to relax on a planet, holographic or otherwise. Their shore leave on Senous was less than relaxing. Their stop at Kuwake III had been for training purposes. The last time Stafford could remember relaxing off Silverado was having lunch with Captain Beck on Waystation, and that had ended when her station was bombed.

Captain Beck. Stafford smiled to himself. Beautiful red hair, perfect features and a slender body with curves in all the right places. What a woman.

Too bad she had no interest in him.

Stafford gave a small sigh. To his right he could see Wowryk and Jeffery walking down the beach, actually holding hands. Stafford wasn’t sure what happened to Wowryk when she and Jall had been stuck in that temporal loop, but she had sure shed some of her inhibitions regarding casual contact. Prior to that, Jeffery would have been ordered to maintain a six inch distance at all times. At least they had made up, though.

Off to his left he could see T’Parief and Yanick. The former had abandoned his surfboard and was carrying the latter out of the water on his shoulders. Yanick giggled as she clapped her hands over his eyes. Unable to see, he promptly caught his foot on something beneath the waves and toppled over with a loud splash, causing Yanick to giggle even louder. T’Parief splashed her. She splashed him back. He pounced at her, wrestling her into the air as she laughed loudly.

There was even a loud rustling coming from the bushes where somebody was having a really good time.

Things on Silverado had gotten much better lately, Stafford had to admit to himself. The ship was running more or less as it should, giving Jeffery and the other engineers time to catch up on the workload of things to do, such as the holodecks. Romantic entanglements had, for the moment, become slightly less tangled as couples resolved some of their issues. Even Jall was putting more effort into his duties, even though his attitude was beyond all help, in Stafford’s opinion. There had been no attacks, no explosions, no weird dreams.

So why was he so unhappy?

It only took one glance at T’Parief and Yanick, now making out furiously on the beach, to answer that question.

Yes, he was a Starfleet captain. Yes, he was expected to avoid fraternizing with his officers and to lead a more lonely life. Yes, some even expected him to be married to his ship. Stafford was starting to really enjoy serving on Silverado, but a ship could never take the place of a woman, even in the most demented of minds. He hated to admit it to himself but the last relationship he had been in was back on the Exeter, seven months ago. He was officially in a rut.

He hadn’t really expected anything to come of his dinner with Captain Beck. After all, the whole point of dinner was so they could discuss the Matrian SIDs, not to get to know each other in any way. But part of him had really gotten his hopes up. They were both captains. She had a station, he had a ship assigned relatively close. She was intelligent, beautiful and strong-willed. He was…well, not bad. He hadn’t had any complaints from his last girlfriend anyway. At least not until he had told her he was leaving the Exeter to take command of his own ship. That had NOT gone over well. But he had secretly been hoping that Beck would at least be interested in keeping in touch with him. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

Commander Noonan watched Stafford as he watched T’Parief and Yanick, more than a hint of envy in his eyes. Deciding that the captain probably wanted to be left alone, he continued his walk.

Holodeck technology had been the second most celebrated technological breakthrough as far as Noonan’s ‘race’ was concerned, the first being the psionic energy generator. The generators allowed them to feed without killing, the holodecks had allowed them to walk in the sunlight without protection, some for the first time in millennia.

“Bridge to Holodeck 1,” Noonan’s musing were interrupted, “We’re receiving a distress call. They say they’re under attack”

“Red alert!” Noonan ordered sharply, “All hands to battle stations, senior officers report to the bridge!”

The senior staff rushed from the turbolift to their stations in a flurry of towels and swimsuits. Stafford wrapped his towel around his shoulders before taking his command chair as Jall (who had come running from the bushes when the red alert sounded) slid into his station.

“Report!” Stafford snapped.

“We’ve received a distress call from the Senousian system,” reported Lieutenant Day as he surrendered the Ops console to Jall and took over one of the auxiliary panels.

“On screen.”

“Audio only,” reported Jall as he brought up the call.

“This is the Prefect Telfidi of the planet Senous. We are under Matrian attack! Any ships in the area, please help us in any way you can. U.S.S. Silverado, if you’re listening, that means you!”

“Nice to know they remember us,” Stafford muttered.

“-approximately four ships,” Telfidi was saying, “We’re fighting them hand to hand on the ground, but cannot hold out for long. Please, help us!”

“Message repeats,” Jall reported.

Stafford stood and started to straighten his uniform shirt with the approved Starfleet motion, realizing at the last minute he was in his swim trunks.

“Set a course for Senous,” he ordered, “Maximum warp. Bridge to Engineering.”

“Jeffery here,”

“I need maximum warp. Can we do it?”

“Barely. I can give ye Warp 9.4, but only for a few minutes.”

“What about a sustainable cruising speed?’

“Warp 9.1 for 26 hours.”

“I’ll take it. And Simon, we need to be battle-ready ASAP.”

“Ah hear ye,”

“Time to Senous?” Commander Noonan asked Yanick, his bright Hawaiian shirt fluttering slightly.

“22 hours. As long as we don’t shake apart or anything.”

“There will be a full staff meeting and ship’s status report in 12 hours,” Stafford said. He took his seat and immediately started reading Starfleet battle tactics.

“Very nice command performance, sir,” Noonan said quietly.

“At least everybody was here to see it this time!” Stafford said with a slight grin.

Captain’s Log, Stardate: 56400.4

“We are responding to a distress call in the Senousian system. Yes, the same people who tried to seduce us and take over our ship. The seduction would have been more fun had there been any actual sex involved.”

“We’ve spent the past 12 hours doing everything we can to ensure Silverado is at the peak of combat readiness. I’m a little nervous about taking this old girl into battle on purpose, but we did promise the Senousians we’d help them if they were attacked.”

“This could be the showdown with the Matrians that I’ve been dreading.”

“Lieutenant Jall and I are ready to adapt the warp engines to emit a subspace bubble when we drop out of warp,” Lieutenant Fifebee reported, “The bubble with have to be deactivated before we can engage warp drive again.”

“And this will afford us full protection from the effects of the M-SIDs?” Noonan asked.

“Yes. Assuming we do not lose power to the warp engines.”

“We’ll keep ‘em goin’,” Jeffery promised.

“Anything new on weapons?” Stafford asked.

“The pulse phaser is fully operational,” replied T’Parief, “Mr. Jeffery has installed energy cells that will power the weapon for eight to ten shots before they will need to recharge. Unfortunately, generating a subspace bubble will require a considerable amount of power and will slow the recharge rate.”

“We’ll tie in auxiliary power if we have to,” said Jeffery.

“All personnel are being armed with Type-2 phasers, with the exception of security personnel, who are armed with phaser rifles,” stated T’Parief.

Stafford looked around the table. Nobody spoke.

“I guess we’re as ready as we’re ever going to be,” he said, “now all we can do is wait.”

Stafford stood at the window in his private dining room, staring out at the stars flying by the ship. He had tried to get some sleep, knowing that he should be rested before arriving at Senous, but every time he was on the verge of falling asleep, the ship would jolt or groan as she tore through space at incredible speed. At least he wasn’t living in the 23rd century, when ships at high warp would roar like wounded animals.

There was a soft chime at the door.

“Come in,” he said.

“Hiya, Captain,” Ensign Trish Yanick said as she entered the room, “How ya doin’?”

“I’m OK, thanks.”

“We’re all having drinks down in the lounge,” she went on, “nobody could sleep. The computer told me you were in here.”

“Yeah,” Stafford sighed, “I guess I just didn’t feel like being with other people. I usually hate this place. It’s so quiet. But I guess sometimes we all need some time to ourselves.”

“So is there going to be a ‘Helmsman’s Private Dining Room’ added to the ship’s layout?” Yanick asked with a giggle.

“There is,” Stafford said dryly, “It’s on Deck 3, Section 3, Cabin 4.”

“Really?” Yanick smiled, “Sweet! I’m gonna go check that out!”

“You do that,” Stafford sighed. Yanick rushed out, just as Jeffery snuck in.

“Where is she going in such a hurry?” he asked.

“Her quarters,” Stafford said, a glint of humour in his eye.

“Whatcha doin’ in here?” Jeffery asked, “I thought ye hated this place because it was ‘stupid to make yer crew wait on you hand and foot’!”

“It’s just me. No stewards or chef or anything. I just wanted to be alone. It’s not working out very well.”

“Oh. Ye want me to leave?”

“Naw. I could use the company, actually.”

Jeffery sat at the table.

“How’s Wowryk doing?” Stafford asked.

“She’s getting sick of having security officers surrounding her everywhere she goes,” Jeffery said, “And Ah think she’s a little scared of facing the Matrians.”

“Who isn’t?” Stafford asked, “They send us into a dream world focused around Dr. Wowryk, they board us and try to kidnap her, then they send two ships to attack us. We don’t even know who they are or what they want.”

“Maybe we’ll finally get some answers,”

“I hope so. This whole situation is really pissing me off.”

Prefect Telfidi paced her office, trying not to flinch at the sound of weapons fire outside. Since their attempt to capture the Starfleet ship had failed, she and her people had worked non-stop to arm themselves before the next Matrian attack could hit. Unfortunately, it takes more than a couple months to build much in the way of a space force, which is mostly why they had never been able to muster much of a defense fleet to begin with. With the Matrians obliterating their space borne defenses every few months, there were having serious problems getting ahead. The small cruiser and the dozen or so fighters they had managed to construct were now lifeless derelicts orbiting Senous.

But on the ground was a different story.

Every household had been armed, every citizen prepared. The majority of the males had been hidden in caves and in the rural areas of the planet, as they were always the goal of the invading Matrian forces.

“Prefect,” reported a young Army Colonel, “the Matrian forces have broken through the defense perimeter in the West Plaza. I’ve sent reinforcements to try to reform our defenses. So far we’ve been able to hold them off from invading the city core, or the Tower of Law. We’ve also received a response to our distress call; Silverado is on her way.”

“Excellent,” Telfidi sighed in relief, “And the men?”

“No losses yet.”

Odd. Very odd, Telfidi mused. The Matrian attack pattern had been frighteningly consistent over the past few years. Attack, wiping out any space forces, then send soldiers down to secure whichever males they wanted to take. They’d usually take over the planetary government chambers too, just to prove they could and to completely humiliate the defenders. Casualties were always very light, a fact that Telfidi was grateful for. But to be twelve hours into the invasion with not a single man taken? Either the Matrians were slipping, or something was up.

Either way, it just might be enough for her people to hold out until Silverado arrived.

“We’ll be in the Senousian system in five minutes,” reported Ensign Yanick.

“What are our sensors picking up?” Stafford asked.

“I am picking up spatial disturbances consistent with an M-SID,” reported Fifebee.

“I have detected seven Matrian ships so far,” rumbled T’Parief, “However the M-SID is interfering with my tactical scanners.”

“Will that affect our targeting scanners?” asked Noonan.

“I don’t believe so.”

“All hands, this is the Captain,” Stafford said over the ship-wide intercom, “we will be engaging the Matrians in less than five minutes. Just do your jobs, y’know, damage control, security and all that stuff. Be prepared to repel boarders in the event our shields fail. We have defenses against the M-SIDs, but if you should find yourselves in Dreamland again immediately group and ready a defense. That is all.”

“Weapons are charged, shields are ready,” reported T’Parief.

“Subspace bubble ready,” reported Fifebee.

Stafford took a deep breath.

“Take us out of warp. Activate the subspace bubble. Let’s see what they’ve got.”

Benjamin 643 was the male lucky enough to be in charge of the expedition to Senous. He had a sort of vague understanding that he had been kidnapping men from that world for several years now, but he couldn’t really bring himself to dwell on it. He was doing it by command of his Mistress and his Mistress would never order him to do anything unjust, therefore he must be behaving properly. That the Senousians might not want to become part of the Matrian Empire never even crossed his mind.

He did know for sure that this expedition was different, and that the Senousians weren’t the targets this time. In fact, his target had just arrived.

Silverado dropped out of warp on the outskirts of the Senousian system. Her nacelles immediately flared back to life as her engines generated a subspace bubble. No longer a wreck ready to fall apart at the seams, her shining hull looked solid as a rock. Her phaser banks gleamed; her torpedo tubes glittered with power. From the outside you’d never guess that inside was a crosspatch of technology, but as far as the Matrians were concerned, the big boys had come to play.

Fortunately for them the Matrians had anticipated this. Silverado found herself facing not six or seven Matrian ships, but fifteen.

“Launch the mines,” Benjamin ordered.

“I’m picking up fifteen Matrian ships,” T’Parief barked, “their shields are up, weapons are armed.”

“According to the Senousians, that’s more than half of the Matrian fleet!” Fifebee said, shocked.

“How powerful are they?” Noonan asked.

“Ten of them are the same class we’ve encountered. Individually they are weak, but ten can defiantly hurt us. The other five are larger cruisers and are presumably more powerful.”

“Very, very bad odds,” Stafford muttered.

“They are launching what appear to be mines,” snapped T’Parief.

“Hold your horses, big guy,” interrupted Jall, “I’m not picking up any sign of explosives, antimatter or quantum singularities from them.”

“I,” Fifebee interrupted, “am detecting active M-SID devices on each of the mines,”

“They’re trying to knock us out so we’ll go down easy,” Noonan said coldly.

“Nice try,” Stafford said with a hard grin, “Will the bubble hold?”


“Good. Hail them, Mr. Jall.”

“On screen.”

“This is Captain Christopher Stafford of the Federation Starship Silverado. You have trapped us in a dream reality once and attacked our ship twice. I request that you explain your actions and refrain from any hostile activity against the Senousians or us. If it’s communication you’re after, we’re listening.” Stafford held his breath.

A dark skinned man appeared on the screen. His broad shoulders, goatee and the series of knobs dotting his bald head told Stafford that this guy was probably a bruiser and that getting into a Captain vs. Captain fight would probably be a very bad idea.

“Federation vessel,” he said, his voice deep, “Our Dream Device was not an instrument of aggression. We are seeking something our Mistress desires. The Dream Device on your vessel found it. Our earlier attempts to retrieve the subject may have failed, but as you can see, we are more than ready this time! We will give you this chance to surrender the subject to us and leave, alive. Resist, and we will take what we want.”

“You’re not getting her!” Stafford snapped, “I don’t know how the Matrian Empire works, but in the Federation we don’t sacrifice our citizens to appease bullies!”

“Then prepare to die.” The channel was cut.

“Well,” Noonan said, “I guess we’ve definitely proven Starfleet wrong, haven’t we.”

“Oh yea,” Stafford said, “These people have ‘hostile intentions’ crammed right up the wazoo.

“Here they come!” barked T’Parief.

“Ready weapons,” Stafford ordered, “shoot to disable, but kill if you have to.”

The ten scouts came first, trying to take advantage of their maneuverability to englobe Silverado. T’Parief caught three ships off guard with phaser blasts from three separate phaser arrays. As the enemy vessels struggled to evade, Yanick pulled the ship though the hole in their formation and T’Parief delivered harsh phaser blasts from the rear weapons as they passed by.

“Three ships have taken heavy damage to their shields, but remain fully functional,” Jall reported.

“Our shields are holding,” T’Parief stated as a jolt shook the ship.

“We’ll be entering the minefield in thirty seconds,” Fifebee reported, “subspace bubble is holding.”

“Continue to fire with aft weapons,” Noonan reported, “try to stay ahead of them.”

Silverado shook again, harder this time.

“They are concentrating their weapons fire,” T’Parief reported, “Shields are at 95%!”

Stafford was deep in thought.

“Yanick, T’Parief,” he ordered, “stop firing and taking evasive action right after we enter the minefield. Go to 1/4 impulse.”

“What?” gasped Yanick.

“Are you mad?” demanded T’Parief.

“No. They don’t know we have a defense against their M-SIDs. Here’s what we’re going to do…”

“They have stopped changing course,” reported Danny 168, “weapons fire has also stopped.”

“They’ve been caught by the Dream Devices,” Benjamin 643 said with a snort of contempt, “Bring us along side. Prepare for boarding, but stay ready.”

Silverado putted along at 1/4 impulse power like an elderly couple on their way to church. Five Matrian vessels pulled alongside, flanking her, while the other five hung behind. The Matrian vessels extended docking clamps; drawing sparks of energy as they hit Silverado’s shields.

Suddenly, the impulse engines and aft thrusters on the large ship flared to life, pushing to maximum sublight speed and causing her to zip ahead of the Matrian fleet. As the impulse engines and aft thrusters cut out the lateral thrusters kicked in, spinning her 180 degrees like a gigantic Frisbee, flying backward now on momentum.

Silverado’s gleaming phaser cannon was now pointed directly at the bunched up Matrians, who had no idea that the cannon mounted on the underside of Silverado’s saucer even worked, never mind what it did.

“Now T’Parief,” barked Stafford, “Give them everything we’ve got!”

Phaser beams flared from emitters on the upper and lower surfaces of Silverado’s saucer while photon and quantum torpedoes shot from her launchers. One ship was completely disabled, three others were damaged. The Matrian ships returned fire, their shots digging into Silverado’s shields. Running off its new energy cells, the pulse phaser cannon fired its first fully functional bursts.

Defiant-class ships have four phaser cannons. The U.S.S. Explorer, a heavily modified Galaxy-class ship, has two. Compared to those ships, Silverado’s one cannon would seem pretty pathetic. But against ships built by people not familiar with pulse phaser technology, it was deadly.

Two more Matrian ships were blasted to pieces by the high-powered bolts, several more were heavily damaged by the debris from the damaged ships and the weapons fire continuing to pour from Silverado’s conventional phaser banks and torpedo tubes. The remaining ships were quickly crippled or disabled, T’Parief picking off their weapons banks easily.

“The Matrian scouts have been disabled or destroyed,” reported T’Parief.”

“Jeffery to bridge,”

“Stafford here,”

“We canna keep up this kind of power output,” Jeffery reported, “We need to cut back NOW, or we’re gonna have an overload!”

“We’ll see what we can do,” Stafford said, closing the channel, “T’Parief?”

“With the subspace bubble active, our power systems cannot keep up. Phaser power is weakening, shield recharge rate is down 30% and the pulse cannon will not be fully charged for another fifteen minutes.”

“Well, maybe we’ll be OK without it…”

“INCOMING!” snapped Jall.

The bridge rocked as sparks flow from the port auxiliary console, sending Ensign Burke flying across the bridge.

“Shields down to 60%” roared T’Parief, “the five Matrian cruisers have us in weapons range!”

“Evasive maneuvers, Trish,” snapped Noonan, “Whatever pattern you damned well feel like!”

Yanick pulled the ship around, trying to present the smallest profile possible to the attacking ships. Weapons fire flared past the ship, but for every shot that missed at least one connected.

“Shields at 40%,” called Jall.

“I am returning fire,” stated T’Parief, “Their shields are weakening, but so is my phaser power.”

“Tie in auxiliary power! Divert energy from whatever nonessential systems you can!”

Silverado darted away from the five Matrian cruisers. Even damaged she’d be a match for one of them. Matrian shields weren’t the greatest, neither were their weapons. But that whole ‘strength in numbers’ thing was really working out well for them.

Silverado darted behind Senous’ moon, not quite quick enough to evade a shot that hit her solidly on the lower engineering section, destroying a phaser array (along with Ensign Shwaluk’s secret marijuana farm) and coming dangerously close to damaging the ship’s antimatter storage pods. The five Matrians ships circled the moon, hoping to catch Silverado in a crossfire, but Yanick darted between two ships that had taken some damage from the Starfleet ship’s weapons and were thus a bit slow to respond. T’Parief caught each ship with solid hits from both phasers and quantum torpedoes. One ship starting drifting away, the other started spinning wildly as guidance control failed.

The other three ships were quick to retaliate; energy weapons discharged from all three ships, connecting solidly with Silverado’s saucer; blasting away the starboard airlock and venting the officer’s dining hall into space.

“We have hull breaches on Decks 36, 11 and 12!” snapped Jall, “Emergency force fields are in place, crew is being evacuated.’

“We have holes in the shields on the starboard saucer and ventral engineering sections,” reported T’Parief, “Power is fluctuating.”

“We could really use that pulse cannon now, T’Parief!” Stafford called.

“It will not be fully charged for another seven minutes,” the reptilian officer reported, “however, we can fire perhaps four shots with the current energy levels.”

“Make them count!”

T’Parief fired a full photon torpedo spread at the trailing ship. Just before the torpedoes hit, he let loose with conventional and pulse phasers. The energy weapons, traveling at the speed of light, zipped past the torpedoes and opened holes in the enemy ship’s shields. Before the holes had a chance to close, the torpedoes flew right through, hitting bare hull. The Matrian ship exploded like Canada Day fireworks, catching its neighbor in the explosion. (For you Americans, think 4th of July. I’m not sure about the U.K. and International readers. Anyway, it was a really BIG bang!)

“Only one more to go!” Noonan said with a grin.

The ship shook again as Matrian torpedoes found their mark. Energy weapons splashed against Silverado’s port nacelle, shattering a section of nacelle grill and sending streams of plasma into space.

“Shields are down!” T’Parief barked, claws digging into the tactical panel, “We’ve taken severe damage to the port nacelle! Picking up transporter signatures…we are being boarded!”

“Hull breach on Deck 16,” reported Jall, “impulse engines are offline!”

“Subspace bubble is fluctuating!” reported Fifebee.

“Can we warp out of here?” asked Stafford.

“Not a chance,” snapped Fifebee.

“Stafford to Security, tells the guys guarding Dr. Wowryk to expect company!”

Marque 314 led his boarding party through the seemingly endless corridors of the Starfleet ship. He had a small scanning device out and had located the subject. His team was encountering strong resistance from the Starfleet crewmen and he had lost several men. Fortunately, he had several dozen at his disposal.

Lieutenant Stern, Ensign Dar’ugal and several security officers were stationed around Sickbay as Dr. Wowryk barked orders.

“Get me ten CCs of cordrazine on the double!” she snapped, “And get Crewman Micks prepped for surgery, if we don’t get that pipe out of his chest he’ll never make it!”

“Doctor,” called Nurse Kerry, “Ensign Burdeniuk is going into systematic shock!

“Damn! Dr. Krenton!” she snapped at her overnight physician, “Take care of Crewman Micks, I’ve got Burdeniuk.

The Sickbay doors burst open as a squad of black armored Matrians stormed in. Stern and Dar-ugal immediately brought their weapons to bear, taking out the lead Matrians, but the remaining aliens took out the security team in seconds.

From behind the attacking squad stepped a tall, green-skinned man. He tapped at a small device, which blinked and whirred.

“The subject is not here. Continue searching.”

They left Sickbay, the medical staff taking only seconds to look at each other in confusion before returning to their patients.

Stafford ducked as T’Parief sent a Matrian soldier flying over the tactical rail and into the port auxiliary console, reducing both the console and the soldier to ruins. Jall was firing wildly at a Matrian, trying to corner him in Stafford’s ready room while another Matrian had just broke his hand trying to punch Fifebee.

“Wowryk to Stafford,”

“We’re a little busy up here, Doc!” Stafford made a face as T’Parief’s claws eviscerated another Matrian, sending the alien’s entrails spilling to the floor.

“Oh my God!” he gasped, “That’s DISGUSTING!”

“And it will be hard to get out of the carpet!” called Noonan as he causally tossed another Matrian soldier against the wall.

“If you’re finished worrying about your ship, here’s something new to worry about!” Wowryk snapped.

“What? Did they get you?”

“I’m fine. In fact, they came right in, stunned my security guards and walked right out!”


“I’m not the one they’re looking for!”

The Matrian boarding parties congregated on Deck 29. Their target? Main Engineering.

Security teams and crewmen fought the alien invaders, hiding behind corners and even flinging the occasional photon grenade. The grenades did as much damage to the ship as they did to the aliens, a fact that was driven home when a power conduit ruptured, not only killing several Matrians but seriously wounding three Silverado crewmen.

Benjamin 643 led his troops through the entrance to engineering, the last defenders being picked off as more reinforcements were beamed over from his cruiser. He pulled out his scanning device again, which quickly locked onto the subject.

The young man was shorter than Benjamin had been expecting. He wasn’t particularly handsome, although he admitted that he was a much better judge of female beauty than of male looks. The man’s reddish hair was cut short, and he backed away uneasily as Benjamin walked towards him.

“W-Who are ye?”

“I am Benjamin 642, Commander of the Matrian vessel Avon in the service of our Mistress Larette. What is your name please, sir?”

“Me name?” Jeffery was a bit stunned. After stunning or killing God knew how many of his crewmates, this invader was treating him like an honored guest!

“I’m Lieutenant Commander Simon Jeffery, Chief Engineer.”

“It is an honor to meet you,” Benjamin said, bowing his head, “Please, come with me.”

“Uh, why?” Jeffery asked slowly.

“You have been selected, of all the men known to the Matrian Empire, to be brought before our Mistress and to be deemed worthy of her companionship!”

“Right,” Jeffery said slowly. Companionship? Mistress? This really sounded bad. A groan from near the Master Systems display drew his attention.

“What about my crewmates?” he asked.

“They were offered the chance to leave peacefully. They refused. They will be destroyed.”

“NO!” snapped Jeffery, “Ah put too much work into this ship to let you blow her to pieces! And the people on it are my friends!” he added quickly.

Benjamin considered this.

“If you agree to come with us, I will spare this vessel.”

Jeffery bit his lip. What was he agreeing to? Did he have a choice?’


“Captain, the Matrians are beaming back to their ship,” T’Parief reported. Stafford watched as the stunned and dead Matrians dematerialized.

“How very astute,” he snapped. T’Parief simply glared at him.

“They must have found who they were looking for,” Noonan said softly.

“The Matrian ship has gone to warp, heading for Matrian space,” Fifebee reported, “The ships we damaged are likewise making their way out of the system, although somewhat more slowly.”

“Engineering to Bridge,”

“Stafford here. What’s the situation down here, Simon?”

There was a moment of silence.

“Sir, this is Lieutenant Sage. Um,”


“Commander Jeffery has been taken by the Matrians.”

“What the f**k??”

Captain’s Log, Stardate: 56404.5

“We’ve engaged and have been defeated by the Matrians. Yay us. Yup, we sure did get our asses kicked.”

“Actually, no. We gave them one hell of a butt-kicking, but they still got us in the end. Our Chief Engineer has been kidnapped by the Matrians.”

“Now what?”

“Now what?” Stafford repeated the question to his senior staff. Sage was once again filling in for Jeffery.

“I think it’s clear that we must retrieve Jeffery,” T’Parief grumbled.

“Well, aren’t you on a winning streak today, Captain Obvious,” said Jall with a slight chuckle.

“Watch it, little man,” T’Parief growled.

“What kind of shape are we in?” Noonan asked.

“Shields are recharged and back up to 100% for the most part,” reported Sage, “But they’re going to be a little weak over the hull breaches on decks 11, 12, 16 and 36 until we get those areas repaired. The ventral phaser array on the engineering section is gone, we’ve got some ruptured EPS conduits and minor hull damage scattered over the whole ship. Impulse engines will be back up in eight hours. Warp core is fine, but we’re not getting anything better than Warp 3 until we get the port nacelle repaired.”

“We have destroyed the last of the M-SID mines,” reported Fifebee, “and I have begun studying some of the M-SIDs captured from the Matrian ships. There are some subtle differences between those devices and the one planted aboard Silverado.”

“What are our options?” Stafford asked.

“I think another fire-fight would be a BAD idea,” interjected Jall, “we took a pretty hard beating.”

“I agree,” said Sage, “we should cut our losses, make our repairs, and make me the new Chief Engineer.”

“Don’t hold your breath,” snapped Stafford.

“It would take us two days to reach the Matrian system,” Yanick said, “I dunno about you, but I don’t think they’ve been very nice! We need to teach them a lesson.”

“The Senousians did build a couple ships,” Noonan added, “They’ve been disabled, but we could possibly repair them well enough to offer us some assistance.”

“It they’re willing to help us,” muttered Stafford.

“Captain,” Fifebee interrupted, her voice cautious, “I have a suggestion.”

“Well don’t keep us in suspense!”

“We already know that one function of the M-SIDs is to bring the user into a computer generated dream world, but I think there is another function as well,”

“Go on,”

“We’ve encountered races before that use technology to influence the minds of people being enslaved by that race. The Borg and the Collectors come to mind. The Matrian SIDs have a similar effect. They augment a person’s protective instincts, reduce their capacity for creative thinking and influence their perceptions of their masters. This could also explain the increase in sexual activity experience by some of the crew while under the influence of the malfunctioning SID that did such of a lovely job of disrupting my program!”

T’Parief looked slightly embarrassed.

“We’ve experienced the effects a malfunctioning M-SID can have on our own personalities,” Fifebee continued, “but we must keep in mind that the intended effects are more specific.”

“Right,” Jall said, “And this helps us how?”

“The Collector’s technology is strictly one way. The Borg completely wipe a person’s personality, allowing them to function as part of the whole. The Matrian devices allow a user to retain their personality, although in a somewhat altered form, but also allow full two-way communication with the technology. I believe that the Matrian SIDs are linked to a central network, similar in function to the relationship between a Borg vinculum and the hive mind.”

“You’re saying these people are like the Borg?”

“Hardly. The Borg use complete merging of consciousness. This is more like mental networking.”

“So how do we use this to our advantage?” Noonan asked.

“We have access to several M-SID devices. We should be able to use these devices to gain access to the Matrian network, if it exists.”

“Whoa!” Stafford gasped,” Last time we used one of these things, we nearly died! We don’t even know that there is some central network to link to! The Matrian soldiers certainly weren’t linked to some dream reality.”

“Not presently. But we already know the devices can be very selective about who is and is not linked to their dream reality. I was able to reconnect crewmen easily during our battle against the Sisters of the Realm,” Fifebee pointed out.

“Most likely,” Wowryk joined in, “the M-SIDs are primarily used as a method of controlling the soldiers, altering their personalities and so forth, but can be used to draw them into the artificial reality should their Mistress wish to communicate. I suspect that on the Matrian homeworld use of the artificial reality is much more prevalent than on the ships.”

“How did you come to this conclusion?” asked Fifebee.

“It’s how I would do it,” Wowryk said softly.

“I think,” Noonan added, “that we’ve already established that these aliens and Dr. Wowryk think alike in many ways.”

“What’s to stop them from taking control of us as soon as we enter the dream reality?” T’Parief asked.

“I can disable that function of the device,” said Fifebee, “but they would still have us at a considerable disadvantage. We’ve seen the devastating force a person in full control of the dream reality can wield. I would not suggest taking death lightly either, there is no guarantee that in this case it would be anything but permanent.”

“What I don’t get,” Yanick said, “Is why that stupid thing got all linky with Noel in the first place. Remember? Fifebee said the device had established a link with Dr. Wowryk when we were all trapped in her dream world! I mean, we all thought that it was because she was the one the aliens wanted. But they wanted Simon. Why link with Noel?”

“I would surmise,” Noonan said, “that the device’s connection to Dr. Wowryk was not intended. Judging from the amount of control the link afforded her over the dream reality, I would guess that it identified her as a Mistress and responded accordingly. We could very much use this to our advantage, should Dr. Wowryk be able to interface with the device again.”

Stafford, Fifebee and T’Parief exchanged glances.

“What you’re saying,” Stafford said cautiously, “is that we need Queen Wowryk back?”

“I don’t like that idea!” Wowryk said firmly.

“Me neither!” Stafford seconded.

“Consider,” Noonan said, “Not only will the good doctor know what to expect this time, but with the personality-altering aspects of the device repressed she should retain her own, shall we say, ‘special’ personality.”

“To what end?” Stafford asked, “To try to slay all the Matrians? Sounds pretty harsh to me!”

“Of course not. We just want to get Jeffery back.”

Stafford stood and started pacing.

“I need some time to make a decision,” he finally said, “continue repairs.”

The senior staff stood to leave.

“Noel, please stay behind for a moment.”

Wowryk sat while Stafford continued to pace.

“You and the Matrians have a lot in common,” he said finally.

“I thought,” Wowryk said coldly, “that we had agreed that my behavior during the ‘Queen Wowryk’ incident had been influenced by the M-SID.”

“We did,” Stafford said quickly, “but look at the pattern. You find men to be…lacking. They’ve downright enslaved them. You have a thing for Simon Jeffery. They have a thing for Simon Jeffery. That device created a neural link with you for a reason, and as unpleasant as it might be to think about, it’s now something we can use to our advantage!”

“Are you ordering me to subject myself to this…experiment?” Wowryk asked sharply, “Because that’s what it is! We don’t know enough about their technology to know for sure what will happen!”

“Don’t you want to get Simon back?”

“Of course I do! Let’s call in the fleet! Get some heavy guns out here to blast those bitches to dust!”

“That sounds like a ‘primitive, savage, MALE’ solution to me,” Stafford said with a chuckle.

“They’re asking for it!”

“Any ships we call for would take close to a month to get here, even at high warp. Think of what could happen to Simon in the meantime.”

Wowryk stood by the window.

“A year ago,” she said, “if anybody had told me I would fall in love with him…with any man, I would have found it hard to believe. You’re all disgusting, smelling, grunting, savage-“

“I get the picture,” Stafford said flatly.

“But I am falling for Simon,” she admitted, “even if he does have sick thoughts about me constantly. And even though he really does stink after working on those engines all day. He can be kind, and sweet. He works hard to please me.”

“He’s whipped.”

“Maybe,” Wowryk admitted, “I guess I don’t feel threatened by him. Especially now. He beat himself up so much after I got hurt I just feel that could never bring himself to hurt me again.”

“He’s a nice guy,” Stafford said.

“We’ve got to get him back,” Wowryk said, tears showing in her eyes.

“Even it means becoming Queen Wowryk again? On purpose?”

Wowryk was silent for a moment. “Yes,” she finally said.

“Just do me a favor, OK?” Stafford asked.


“It’s not the ‘Sisters of the Realm’ this time. No ‘men vs. women’. This time, we work as a team. We’re going in as the officers and crew of the Federation Starship Silverado and we’re going to kick some Matrian ass!”

Stafford stepped out of the conference room, acknowledging the expectant stares he was receiving from his bridge crew.

“Well?” Jall asked.

“We’re going in,” Stafford said, “Yanick, prepare to take us toward Matrian space. We’re going to need to be close in case we need to make a quick rescue. T’Parief, get the long-range scanners going; find us a place to settle in. Preferably something discreet. Fifebee, I want you working with Jall to get the M-SID running. Remove any kind of personality altering functions you can. Mr. Noonan, come with me.”

The bridge crew jumped into action as Stafford and Noonan stepped into the turbolift.

“Shuttlebay 1,” Noonan ordered.

“I guess you already know what I want,” Stafford said with a grin.

“I’ll be taking the Asessippi to Senous where I am to assist them in repairing what vessels we can.”

“Right. We’re going to get into their little fantasy world and create a distraction. You’re going to take the Asessippi, the shuttles and whatever Senousian ships you can get and make the actual rescue attempt. Now from what the Senousians told us before, we just took out a very substantial chunk of the Matrian fleet. Hopefully, that means you’ll be able to slip through any of their patrols.”

“I understand. I’ll take Menzies, Pysternzykz and Glenn with me to pilot our shuttles.”

“Good call. Don’t take any of the smaller shuttles though, they won’t get you back to Senous if there’s a problem.”


The stepped out of the turbolift.

“Look, Commander,” Stafford said, “I want you to know that it’s been great working with you,”

“And with you,” Noonan replied.

“But I gotta ask; what are you?”

“What am I?”

“Yeah. You act strange, you never eat and you wear more sunscreen then anybody I know. What are you??” Stafford waited expectantly.

“Pieces on the cusp of Aquarius,” Noonan smiled as Stafford gave him an annoyed look, “Good luck, Captain.”

Yanick had followed T’Parief down to the torpedo bay. The hulking tactical officer wanted to check over the weapon systems before Silverado left for Matrian space.

“Whatcha thinking?” she asked.

“I am concerned that we may have used too many of our quantum torpedoes during the battle,” he said, “and I wish to check the status of the launchers.”

“I mean about going after Jeffery.”

“We cannot allow Federations citizens to be abducted,” T’Parief answered simply.

“And that’s it? We could die! We could be enslaved! Who knows what might happen to us!”

“That could be happening to Mr. Jeffery,”

“I know,” Trish said sadly, “but, oh, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there’s only one of him, and eight hundred of us!”

“Do you think we should just leave him there?”

“Of course not! But going in with the whole ship is crazy!”

“I don’t think the Captain is going to take Silverado to Matria,” T’Parief said, “Tactically, it would be foolish. He’ll probably send a smaller strike force in.”

“Then why are we going?”

“We’re either the backup, or the distraction.”

“Oh,” Yanick was quiet for a moment. Then, softly, “Can I have a hug?”


“Commander Noonan’s runabout has departed,” Jall reported, “oh, and there was a message from the Senousian Prefect an hour or so ago, thanking us for chasing the Matrians out of the system.”

“Geez,” Stafford said, “I forgot all about them. Ah well, Noonan can handle it. Set course for Matrian space, Warp 3.”

“Aye sir,” replied the helm officer.

“I also have a memo for you.,” Jall continued, “Ms. Lydia Thompson would like you to report to her office to discuss current events.”

“Oh she would, would she?” Stafford growled, “Stafford to Thompson!”

“You’ve reached the office of Ms. Lydia Thompson, Human Resources, how may I help you?”

“This is the Captain-“

“Excellent! Ms. Thompson is expecting you at 15:30h. Please be prompt. Dress today is standard Starfleet-“

“Tell Ms. Thompson that if she wants to talk to me, she can report to my ready room!”

“I’m sorry, but Ms. Thompson’s time is valuable, all meetings are to be held in her office.”

“LISTEN TO ME YOU ARROGANT LITTLE TWIT!” Stafford snapped, “I am Captain of this ship! MY time is valuable, and if Ms. Thompson wants to see me so badly she can damned well come up here! Stafford out!”

There was silence on the bridge as more than one officer fought to hide a grin.

“I see that spine is growing in nicely!” Jall chuckled.

“Shut up!”

Noel Wowryk walked the corridors of the ship, barely acknowledging greetings from various crewmembers. She felt the ship shift into warp drive with a lurch. The battle had definitely been rough on the poor girl. But Jeffery would patch her up again, assuming they got him back.

Noel still had few memories of her time as Queen Wowryk. The incident had been months ago. She remembered the way the crew had felt about her after the dust had cleared, though. There had been Jall’s smart-ass remarks, Stafford’s subtle little cutting jabs and the general cold shoulder from the rest of the crew. She knew intellectually that this time would be different. She would be in control of herself, not an insane dictator. Still…

Finding herself at the office of Counselor Eva Yvonnokoff, Wowryk rang the chime then stepped in.

Eva was sprawled out on her chair, snoring loudly.

“I guess she must not get much business,” Wowryk muttered to herself.

With a groan, Eva woke.

“Yes? Vhat is it?” she murmured.

“I, um, just wanted to talk about how the current situation is developing.”

“Current situation?”

“Y’know, the battle, the Matrians. The whole Sisters of the Realm thing.”

“Huh?” Yvonnokoff was confused.

“Just how long have you been napping?” Wowryk demanded.

“I do not know. There vas a lot of shaking, but I slept through most of it. I must admit, I haff been VERY bored lately.”

“Right. Never mind then,” Wowryk walked out.

“My first client in two weeks, and I blew it,” Eva sighed to herself, “Zis just isn’t working.”

Commander Noonan landed the runabout Asessippi on the east lawn of the Senousian government complex. Telfidi rushed right up to great him. He noticed the complete lack of pheromones coming from her body with no small amount of relief. That the Senousians had taken them for allies was a positive development.

“Commander Noonan,” Telfidi said, “Thank you very much for your assistance. Thanks to you, we didn’t loose a single man.”

“I’m pleased to hear it,” Noonan said.

“We’re already working on getting our defenses re-established,” Lashette piped in, “If they’re licking their wounds long enough, we can actually get a sizable space force up.”

“That’s actually what I am here to talk to you about,” Noonan said, “Captain Stafford and the crew are planning to infiltrate the Matrians in an attempt to recover a member of our crew who has been kidnapped. We plan to use one of their spatial interphase devices to get into their artificial reality.”

Lashette and Telfidi exchanged glances.

“You mean you’re trying to get into Dreamland?” Lashette asked.

“Dreamland? It’s actually called that?”

“The Senousians who escaped the Matrians described a different reality,” Telfidi said, “Where the Matrians were all-powerful. They’d be pulled into this other plane, given instructions or punishments then sent back to their ships.”

“This was not in the information you sent us regarding the Matrians,” Noonan said coolly.

“We found their reports to be unreliable at best,” Telfidi said, flipping her hair, “but from what you’ve just told us, they were correct.”

“In any event,” Noonan continued, “We will be attempting to sneak onto the Matrian homeworld in an effort to rescue our officer. We will of course free any Senousians we can.”

“Where do we fit in?”

“We want to help you to repair some of the derelict ships in orbit of your world. We’ve detected a small cruiser that can be repaired. So can one of the Matrian vessels.”

“We must consult with our council,” Telfidi said firmly. “Please wait here.”

“Time is of the essence!” Noonan called as Telfidi and Lashette walked away.


“Come,” Stafford said.

Lydia Thompson stalked in.

“I am not accustomed to being kept waiting, Captain,” she said coldly.

“Then I guess you’re not accustomed to life on a starship,” Stafford, matching her tone, “You see, out here, crewmembers obey the Captain’s orders. Whether they are Starfleet officers, civilians or the visiting dignitary’s dog! YOU are working for ME. Now what do you want?”

“When we return to Federation space,” Lydia said coolly, “I shall be having a long discussion with the Secretary of H.R. regarding your attitude.”

“Uh-huh. Are you here to do something other than threaten me?”

“You decision to take this ship after a single crewman is not in the Federation’s best interests.”


“I can cite several precedents that would support our immediate return to Federations space,” Thompson produced a padd, which she placed on Stafford’s desk. Stafford pointedly ignored it.

“Are you trying to tell me how to do my job, Ms. Thompson?”

“Somebody has to. This is insane! The man in question is one step above being a common criminal, and we’re risking eight hundred men, women and children to save him!”

Stafford stared coldly at Thompson for several seconds.

“Get out.” He said finally.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Get out. Leave. Go back to your office and file something HR related, because you obviously have no f**king idea of how things work on a starship!”

“This is not over,” Thompson walked to the door. Stafford spoke up right before she reached it.

“You’re right. As soon as we return to Waystation, I’m kicking you off my ship. Then this will be over. Have a nice day!”

The Senousian deliberations, as it turned out, were swift.

“You have our full support,” Telfidi said with a smile, “As you recall, this was sort of our plan from the beginning; take the fight to them!”

“We have our own rules and policies we had to follow,” Noonan pointed out.

“Yes. But the results are the same.”

“Not always. Very often, problems can be resolved peacefully. They still may.”

“We will be providing technicians and engineers,” Lashette said, “We simply ask your assistance in transporting our people onto the two ships in question and in replicating replacement parts.”

“We can do that,”

“Our estimation is that it will take twenty-four hours to get the ships warp capable, and another twenty-four hours to get them battle ready.”

“The trip to Matria is two days. Once we can use warp drive we can finish the remaining repairs on the way.”

“Excellent,” Telfidi smiled. Her smile faded slightly as she leaned in.

“You do realize,” she said softly, “that our cruiser doesn’t have much greater firepower than your runabout,”

“Every little bit helps.”

The next two days passed with relative speed for both groups. Silverado limped closer and closer to Matrian territory. Fortunately, with the small size of the Matrian Empire, Matria itself was only a few hours away from the boarder. By making careful use of long-range sensors, Fifebee, T’Parief and Yanick were able to work together to sneak Silverado behind a small planetoid near the boundary of Matrian space, undetected.

Meanwhile, Noonan and his team managed to assist the Senousians in getting not only their own small cruiser up and running but also a Matrian vessel that had been disabled during the fight. Neither ship was in top shape but once warp power was restored, the small fleet consisting of two small starships, a runabout and three shuttles started the trip to Matria.

“Status?” Pysternzykz hissed to the Senousian engineer, a young man by the name of Helthin.

“Shields are at 50%. We have one energy beam online and four torpedoes with antimatter warheads.”

“Pathetic. A Pakled freighter could defeat this ship!”

“You’ve got a real attitude problem, y’know that?”

“Gentlemen,” Noonan interrupted, “please remain civil.” Noonan had been playing referee between the Andorian officer and the Senousian male for the past day.

“Now then,” he continued, “our plan is this; we’ll sneak the Asessippi into Matrian space and attempt to track the vessel that took Jeffery. The remaining ships will cover Silverado while the Captain makes his infiltration attempt.”

“We understand,” said Lashette, “One way or another, we will succeed.”

Stafford, Wowryk and Fifebee were gathered in Science Lab 1, the Matrian SID sitting in the center of the room.

“I’m adjusted the device output,” Fifebee reported, “The field will encompass the saucer section, but should not extend to the engineering section.”

“Excellent. Sage and Stern will be down there. We’ve diverted bridge control to engineering.”

“Are we sure this is such a good idea?” Wowryk asked nervously.

“Do you have a better one?” Stafford asked.

“We wait for Noonan.”

“We don’t know what’s happening to Jeffery. Noonan will be here soon enough, he’s only a day behind.”

He turned to Fifebee.

“Activate the device.”

All over the saucer, the three hundred or so crewmen who had volunteered for the mission had lay down in their beds. Each let out a relaxed breath, closed their eyes and fell asleep the instant Fifebee hit the button.


Stafford opened his eyes and found himself in a featureless, white space. Nobody else was around.

“Hello??” he called out. His voice was completely absorbed by the white void; there was no echo at all.

“Well, this isn’t what I expected, “ he mused. He sat down on his chair, trying to think of what to do.”

Obviously, he needed to find his crew. Fine. He was in the artificial reality, so he needed to really focus on what he wanted. He leaned on his desk, rubbing his temples with his hands.

All right. He needed Dr. Wowryk first. Great.

He suddenly became aware that he was sitting on a chair and leaning against a desk that hadn’t been there five minutes before. In fact, the white space had been replaced with his ready room without him noticing a thing.

“Neat trick!” he said. Ok, now to get the doctor.

<Dr. Wowryk….Dr. Wowryk> Stafford concentrated.


“Come in,”

“That was weird,” commented Wowryk.

“Tell me about it. Seen anybody else?”


“Are you, y’know…all-powerful now?”

“I don’t think so,”

“Well, try doing something.” Stafford suggested.

“Like what?”

“Well, how about getting me a cup of coffee?”

Wowryk gave Stafford an annoyed look.

“Don’t you think,” she said, “that I could do something a bit more impressive then getting you a drink?”


“Oh fine!” Wowryk closed her eyes and concentrated. After several seconds, a steaming cup of cappuccino appeared on Stafford’s desk.

“There,” Wowryk said.

“That’s not right,” said Stafford with a frown, “Queen Wowryk could conjure up fifty undead soldiers with less effort than that!”

“Well what do you want me to do? I don’t remember being her!”

Stafford stood and paced for a few seconds.

“Do you remember how you became Queen Wowryk before?” he asked finally.

Wowryk looked at him and tried to recall what had happened.”

“I was standing in the room, those disgusting Possessed creatures were attacking,” she said, “I was facing you like this,” she moved towards Stafford, “I had just killed a creature that was attacking you. Then one of the others grabbed me from behind. I was wrestling it. And then…and then…”

“You screamed,” Stafford jumped in, “you prayed for power, and strength and stuff. Then everything went crazy.

Wowryk looked at him.

“Oh Lord,” she said, head bowed, “grant me the will, the power and the strength I need to do your will.”

Nothing happened.

“I don’t think that’s good enough,” Stafford said, “You have to really want it. Concentrate!”

Wowryk leaned on the desk, eyes screwed shut. She thought about what she could remember of her time as Queen. The power. The women ready to die at her command. That she didn’t want. But the power…the strength.

“Oh Lord,” she cried out, “Grant me the will, the power and the STRENGTH I NEED TO DO YOUR WILL!!!”

Stafford ducked behind his desk as an all-too-well remembered surge of blue energy surged from Wowryk, bursting from her fingertips, her eyes, her chest, until her entire form was awash in brilliant light. With a loud flash, a pulse of blue power shot out from Noel, transforming the landscape from a ready room into the familiar Inner Courtyard of Castle Wowryk.

“AH-HA-HA-HA!” laughed Wowryk in triumph as her power grew. Vast trees sprouted from the ground outside the castle as storm clouds gathered and lightening flashed.

“Noel!” Stafford called. She turned to look at him.

“The power!” she cried, her face one of beatific joy, “The absolute power!”

There was a subtle shift, almost a rippling, and Wowryk’s expression changed to one of pain as she dropped to her knees, giving a cry of agony.

“Noel!” Stafford shouted, concerned. He rushed over to her side.

“It’s too many!” she cried out, “Too many!”

“Snap out of it!” he shook her roughly. She clutched her head, ignoring him.

Unsure of what to do, he slapped her across the face, trying to bring her to her senses. He was completely unprepared for the hard uppercut that struck his lower jaw.

“Just hold on!” Wowryk snapped.

“Just trying to help,” Stafford muttered.

“It’s better,” she gasped, “it’s just too many! Too many people! Too many minds!”

“The Matrians?’

“No! Just us!”

“Didn’t realize we were so hard to handle.”

“You try sensing three hundred minds and see how well YOU cope!” she snapped.

“Are you better now?” he asked.

“Yes. I am recovering.” She regained her regal stance. As she straightened, a long flowing gown complete with cape and shoes materialized over her body. Not the blinding white favored by Queen Wowryk, but a mix of soft white and Starfleet blue.

“Are you…Noel Wowryk?” Stafford asked.

“Yeah. I’m still me this time,” she said, “And if you ever picture me in that sexual position again, I will kill you.”

“Maybe having you semi-omnipotent wasn’t such a good idea. Where are our people?”

“Here. The reality was fragmented without a controlling entity. Now that I’ve assumed that role, I shall bring them here.”

“You’re talking funny,” Stafford said, “you know that, right?’

Wowryk gave a wave of her hand. Instantly, Silverado personnel filled the Inner Couryard. Men and women, still on the same team.

“Fifebee!” Stafford said happily, noticing his Science Officer in the crowd, “I’m glad to see you!” He did a double take. “No I’m not, actually. What are you doing here? I thought you were normally immune to these things!”

“I know,” she said, worry evident in her voice, “I’m not sure what went wrong.”

“Well, we could use your help,” Stafford said, “I mean, if we really need to send you back, I’m sure Noel could do it, but-“

“Captain,” Fifebee cut him off, a sort of insistent panic in her voice, “there’s something else you need to know!”

Only then did Stafford notice the middle-aged woman standing behind Fifebee. A disturbingly familiar woman…

“Oh my God,” he gasped.

“Captain Stafford,” Fifebee said with a sigh, “allow me to introduce the Federation Starship Silverado.”

The woman resembling Catherine Stafford threw her arms around the captain.

“Please,” she said, “Call me Mom!”

Stafford, Wowryk and an unexpected ally work to infiltrate the Matrian Dreamland while Noonan and the Senousians try to infiltrate the Matrian planet. What’s going to happen next? Find out next time in the exciting season finale of Star Traks: Silverado!