Author: Brendan Chris
Last time on Star Traks: Silverado…
It it a time of great confusion for Silverado. Captain Stafford, under the orders of the now-evil Lord Darth Noonan, has stepped up military actions onboard Silverado to a degree never seen in Starfleet history. Science and research teams are being disbanded and trained in security and tactics. Restraining the civilian population and quietly subverting the security department to his side, Stafford and his crew have become convinced that they are Imperial soldiers, trapped on an unknown vessel. A small band of mutineers, once led by Lieutenant Jane Fifebee, lies deep undercover, hoping to thwart Noonan’s rule and bring justice, liberty and Federation values back to Silverado. But with Sylvia and Fifebee now mysteriously out of commission, Silverado’s best hope lies with Lieutenant Stern and the Hazardous Team, who have only recently learned of the disturbing events…
ACT ONE: THE RESCUE
Captain’s Log, Stardate 57983.4:
“Imperial Captain Christopher Stafford reporting. Ship’s functions remain impaired. For reasons I cannot fathom, the ship’s hyperdrive has been removed and replaced with an inferior propulsion system. TIE fighters and bombers are unaccounted for. We are attempting to make do with what we have as we make our way back to Imperial space. Controls have been altered, as have displays and readouts. The language is fortunately close enough to Imperial English that we can interpret them.
Rumors persist of mutineers. We have deactivated the holographic operative planted onboard, yet Lord Noonan insists that both he and the Emperor feel the presence of insurgents. Knowing the fate of those that oppose a Dark Lord, I have assigned our finest security team to the task. I hope for their sake security finds them before Noonan does,”
“Weapon status?” Stafford demanded, his grey uniform impeccably pressed.
Lieutenant Ovens tapped at the tactical console. T’Parief was a loyal, able officer, Stafford would admit, but the non-human gave him the creeps. He’d assigned T’Parief to train crewmembers who had inexplicable come under the impression they were scientists or researchers. Ridiculous, a scientist on a military vessel!
“Weapons are online,” Ovens reported, “But we have no turbo-lasers, ion cannons or proton torpedoes. Concussion missiles are also missing.”
“Then how can our weapons be online?” Stafford demanded sharply, “It sounds to me like you’ve just ruled them all out!”
“Sir,” Ovens gulped, “We have phasers, photon torpedoes and quantum torpedoes,”
“Ridiculous,” Stafford shook his head, “Has anybody heard of such devices?”
There was silence on the bridge.
“Perhaps a test, sir,” Lieutenant Jall suggested respectfully.
“Good idea, Lieutenant,” Stafford nodded, “Ensign Yanick, any targets nearby?”
“I’m picking up an asteroid belt in a nearby solar system, Captain,” she reported, “We can be there in an hour, according to this readouts.”
“Do it,” Stafford ordered, “I must know whether this heap can defend itself.”
“So we’re looking for ‘mutineers’, huh?” Simmons said softly to Stern as the two of them searched Deck 18.
“Apparently,” Stern replied. He’d broken the Hazardous Team into groups and sent them scouting, on the pretense of following Stafford’s orders. In reality, he had two tasks for his team: First, find out what the hell is going on. Second, find the mutineers.
“And when we find them?” Simmons asked.
“We find out if they’re under the same influence as everybody else, or if they’re normal crewmembers fighting back against this craziness,” Stern said very quietly. He stopped at a wall panel and looked both ways. The coast was clear.
Stern started tapping, bringing up system status reports.
“Holographic systems are online,” he said, “But Lieutenant Fifebee’s program isn’t running. In fact, it’s under security lock.”
“She wouldn’t have been affected by this,” Simmons suggested, “So Stafford and Noonan shut her down.”
“Looks like it,” Stern said, “But that’s not all. Sylvia’s gone!”
“Gone?” Simmons gulped.
“Gone,” Stern confirmed, “All I’m getting is the computer’s standard interface. There’s no sign of her.”
“You don’t think they killed her, do you?” Simmons asked.
“I don’t know,” Stern mused, then saw a pair of crewmen in olive uniforms approaching. “C’mon, we’re going to attract attention.” They resumed their search.
“Approaching the asteroid belt,” Yanick reported.
“Lieutenant,” Stern turned to Ovens, “What do you suggest we test first?”
“Beam weapons,” Ovens replied at once, “Torpedoes are a non-renewable resource,”
“Good thinking,” Stafford nodded, “Fire the, er, phasers, then,”
A bright red beam shot out of Silverado’s phaser array, blasting an asteroid into fine powder. Stafford’s eyebrows rose.
“Impressive,” he said.
“Yes sir,” replied Ovens, “Far stronger than a turbo-laser blast.”
“Fire a torpedo,” Stafford ordered.
Ovens launched a photon torpedo. The torpedo homed in on a larger asteroid and blew it apart, the flash filling the screen.
“Excellent,” Stafford said, awed, “This ship may be slow, but she’s armed to the teeth! “
“Yes sir,” Ovens replied, “In fact, there also appears to be a high-power phaser cannon. Compared to the specifications of the standard phaser beams, the cannon is considerably more powerful.”
The turbolift doors swished open as Lord Noonan and his entourage stepped onto the bridge.
“You’ve found something, Captain?” Noonan asked.
“Yes, my Lord,” Stafford snapped to attention, “The weapon systems on this ship far exceed our expectations. We could devastate the surface of a planet with these weapons.”
“Good work, Captain,” Noonan nodded, “What report of the mutiny?”
“Security Squad Alpha is scouring the ship,” Stafford reported, “We’ve checked the holographic insurgent; her program is still under security lock.”
“Any luck in identifying the leaders?”
“No, my Lord,” Stafford swallowed, “Until the mutiny takes action, I doubt we’ll be able to identify them.”
“The Emperor doesn’t share your opinion,” Noonan said coldly.
“T-the Emperor is here?” Stafford paled. Up at the helm, Yanick gasped.
“Yes, Caption. And I suggest you improve your efforts - swiftly!”
“Yes, my Lord,” Stafford gulped.
“I think we need to think this through logically,” Simmons said as he and Stern searched through Deck 25. They’d been at it for hours now, the day shift had already gone off-duty.
“Coming from you, there’s a surprise,” Stern muttered.
“Logically, who on this ship would be the most likely to revolt against authority?” Simmons asked.
“Half the ship?” Stern asked.
“Most likely,” Simmons repeated, “not likely.”
“I get you,” Stern smiled, “Computer, where is Lieutenant Jall?”
The robotic computer voice answered.
“Lieutenant San Jall: Currently located on Deck 36, section 1.”
“Let’s go,” Stern turned and headed towards the turbolift.”
“The Emperor is on board??” Crewman Gibson demanded, “We are SO dead!”
“This is an opportunity,” Jall said firmly, “Kill the head, and the snake dies!”
“We don’t even know where on the ship the Emperor is,” Ensign Burke added, “Never mind what security setup has been put in place,”
“Security has been too busy looking for us to do anything like that,” Jall shook his head, “They’ve got stormtroopers on every deck.”
“That doesn’t mean that Engineering didn’t install some new system,” Yanick pointed out.
“It’s a moot point anyway,” Jall decided, “We don’t even know where the Emperor is yet.”
“Any luck on rescuing the Princess?’
Jall shook his head.
“Princess Jane is still stuck behind the security lockouts,” Jall said.
“Do you think she was right?” Gibson asked, “Y’know about all of us acting strange?”
“I duno,” replied Jall, “But doesn’t it make more sense than Lord Noonan’s version? That we’ve somehow been transported millions of light-years onto an unknown alien ship that just happens to use our language?”
The group of insurgents was gathered in The Den; Gibson, Shwaluk and Roscoe’s secret clubhouse in the very bottom of the ship. Of course, none of them knew it as such in their somewhat scrambled state. So far as they were concerned, it was a handy hiding place that Gibson just happened to know about when he had joined Yanick and Jall in the Mutiny to Restore the Federation.
“Is anybody familiar enough with these computers to rescue Princess Jane?” Yanick asked.
“I seem to know a lot about them,” Jall said, “But I know enough to realize that it would be only too easy for Darth Noonan to find out what we’re doing.”
“There was a frantic tapping at the door. To an outside observer, The Den was setup to look like a standard storage closet. Small, cramped and just big enough for two people to go at it like caged rabbits. Only those who realized that the back wall was completely fake would ever suspect that there was anything but cleaning supplies in the locker.
Peeping through a spyhole, Gibson sighed in relief as he let Crewman Shwaluk into The Den.
“What’s up?” Burke asked.
“Things are stirred up like an ant’s nest out there,” Shwaluk gasped, “I was stopped by stormtroopers four times on my way here!”
“You weren’t followed, were you?” Jall snapped.
“No, of course not,” Shwaluk assured him.
“Do you really think Shwaluk would be the rebellious type?” Stern asked Simmons. As soon as they had spotted him on Deck 36, Simmons had suggested that Shwaluk might lead them to Jall.
“Are you kidding? With his luck it’s a wonder he hasn’t been executed yet,” Simmons replied. It was well known on Silverado that if something bad like wild holographic dogs, insane superwomen or Dr. Wowryk’s fingernails had to happen to somebody, it would have to happen to Crewman Shwaluk. It made sense then that he would be involved with a foolish mutiny against a superior force.
“Where is he?” Simmons asked, looking around the corridor. Deck 36 was the very bottom deck of the ship, and as such had very little of interest. They had passed down the central corridor that ran the length of the deck ahead of the antimatter containment pods and were just coming up to the end of the corridor. On one side a narrow maintenance hatchway allowed access to the power conduit feeding the lower phaser array. On the other was a small storage closet.
“Where the hell did he go?” Simmons asked, tapping his tricorder. Stern opened the maintenance hatch, then the storage closet.
“Neither one of these go anywhere,” Simmons said, pulling up a deck layout, “There are storage rooms on both sides, but no access from here.”
Stern’s eyes narrowed as he tapped his own tricorder.
“I’m picking up five life-forms behind this wall,” he said softly.
“How?” he asked, “The only way into the storage rooms that I know of is through the antimatter storage section. We already searched them from there.”
“I’ve heard rumors about a hidden room down here,” Stern said, taking a closer look in the closet, “I’d say it’s just about-“
The back wall opened to reveal Jall and Yanick, weapons drawn and pointed right at Stern’s face.
“Here,” Stern finished.
“Hey, look, we’re on your side!” Stern tried explaining for the fifth time.
“You’re part of Noonan’s elite security squad!” Yanick replied for the fifth time.
“Then why didn’t we bring fifty crewmen as backup?” Simmons asked.
“Stormtroopers,” Burke corrected him, almost absently.
“Whatever,” Stern shook his head, “Look, Commander Noonan-“
“Lord Noonan,” Jall corrected him.
“Whatever,” Stern glared, “Look, Lord Noonan is supposed to be First Officer of this ship! Stafford’s supposed to be the Captain-“
“He is the Captain,” Yanick corrected him.
“WHATEVER!” Stern snapped, “This is completely f**ked beyond recognition! We’re supposed to have science teams, not armed troops! And it’s not ‘Security Squad Alpha’, it’s ‘The Hazardous Team’! This isn’t an alien warship you’ve been trapped on, it’s a Federation starship, and you’re all supposed to be Starfleet Officers!”
Stern pointed a finger at Gibson.
“You’re supposed to be saying stupid things like ‘dude’ and ‘monkey’ while your pants hang halfway down your ass,”
He pointed at Yanick.
“You should be doing disgustingly cute blond things like talking to teddy bears and making out with your boyfriend,”
Jall was next.
“You,” Stern frowned, “Well, you’re a rebellious type. But you shouldn’t be energetic about it!”
And finally, Stern turned to Burke.
“And you! Well, I don’t really know you,”
Jall and Yanick exchanged glances. Stern swallowed, sure he was about to be vaporized.
“So,” Jall said slowly, “you’re saying that we’re all crazy and none of this is the way it should be?”
“Uh,” Stern swallowed again. Aw hell. If he was going to die, it may as well be from the truth.
Slowly, Yanick and Jall lowered their weapons.
“That’s exactly what Princess Jane told us,” Jall said, “Although she was much more polite about it,”
“Princess Jane?” Simmons asked.
“Princess Jane Fifebee,” Yanick explained, “She was the one who helped start the Mutiny…she told us how wrong things were.”
“Of course, we were already trying to overthrown Noonan and restore justice to the people of Silverado,” Jall explained.
“Oookay,” Simmons said, “So, uh, where is ‘Princess Fifebee’?”
“Princess Jane,” Gibson corrected.
“Oh forget it,” Simmons muttered.
“Noonan and Stafford have taken her prisoner,” Yanick said, “We need to get her back!”
Shortly afterward, the Hazardous Team gathered in The Den, comm-badges discarded to prevent tracking. The Den was getting pretty crowded, so Yanick sent Jall and Gibson back to the upper decks.
Marsden tapped at the computer terminal in the corner.
“Noonan’s locked Fifebee’s program out with his own security access,” he reported finally, after several minutes of tapping.
“Can you break it?” Stern asked.
Marsden tapped away.
“Not from here,” he shook his head.
“I though he was our hostage negotiator,” Simmons said.
“We needed a computer expert,” Stern said absently, “He drew the short straw and went for extra training three months ago,”
“I never drew straws,” Simmons objected.
“We decided that your current duties were strain enough on your intellect,” Rengs said softly.
“Why you son of a-“
“What I could do,” Marsden said, “is setup a bypass to the lockout. I can’t completely remove the lockout, but if we can open some kind of indirect line between the program and the holographic imaging systems, we can get her going,”
“Excellent,” Stern said, “How do we do that?”
“I’ll need to get to a high level terminal,” Marsden said, “The main bridge, auxiliary control, main engineering or computer core control.”
“Lord Noonan’s been on the main bridge and in engineering recently,” Yanick said, “You really don’t want to run into him,”
“Auxiliary control will be swarming with junior officers,” Simmons said.
“Good point,” Stern agreed.
“See? I have good ideas outside of my-“
“Computer core control it is,” Stern said, “Marsden, Dar’ugal and Rengs, you’re with me. The rest of you stay here.”
“I’m going,” Yanick said.
“This is my fight,” Yanick said firmly, “and I need to know you won’t betray us to the Emperor,”
“The Emperor,” Yanick said again, “Supreme ruler of the Empire,”
“Uh, and he’s here?”
“Yes,” Yanick said softly, “Noonan told us just today,”
“Doesn’t it seem odd that the leader of the Empire would be stranded out here with the rest of you?” Simmons pointed out.
“Very,” Yanick agreed.
“Doesn’t matter yet,” Stern decided, “Let’s get Fifebee, then go from there,”
She walked slowly down the steps to the front podium of the briefing chamber, the slightly musty smell of the underground installation washed away by her thick perfume. Thick, dark locks cascaded down her back, right to her muscular but nicely proportioned buttocks. The six troops sat silently around the table, watching her with their harsh, red eyes. She gave them a broad smile as she settled onto the comfortable stool placed behind the podium.
“Good morning everybody!” she said with great enthusiasm, “And congratulations on completing your training! Well, yes, I realize you were hooked up to accelerated learning modules for the past week, but still, the results have been impressive! Each of you is more than equal to the task at hand: the destruction of my enemies!”
“You will leave immediately,” she continued, “We’ll open the portal long enough for your fighters to depart. You know it takes a large amount of power to reopen the portal, so once you complete your mission you will need to wait for one week before trying to return. You know the procedure, so I won’t waste your precious time. Once you arrive, you’ll use the encryption codes I’ve obtained to access the Starfleet database and locate the U.S.S. Silverado. Once you’ve located her, blast her to pieces!”
“My Lady,” one pilot said, bowing, “Would it not be best to wait until your Confederacy is established first?”
Slowly dismounting her stool, the woman walked around the table, her hand lightly caressing the shoulder of each of her troops until she arrived at the dissenter.
“You have a valid point, Sobek-32,” she purred, caressing his shoulders as he stiffened in fear. With a deft twist, she dug deep into pressure points, bringing out a roar of pain.
Scowling, she marched back up to the podium.
“Those people have sought to thwart my plans from the very beginning!” she snapped, “Three times now, they’ve tried to stand in my way! I don’t care how you do it, I don’t care how long it takes, I want Silverado blasted to dust!”
She took a deep breath, composing herself, then smiled broadly again.
“They will fall before us,” she said happily, reaching for the stylized symbol hanging from a thick chain around her neck. It depicted a warm, yellow happy face with a sword plunging through it, “Victory to the Convivial Confederacy!” she bellowed.
“Victory!” replied her troops, standing and marching to the door, their fighters and their destiny.
“Not you,” K’Eleese said, stopping the last soldier with a firm grip on a fragile area, “All that shouting has made me just a bit lustful. You will depart on the mission after you have completed some…special objectives…for me first.”
Without further delay, she dragged her victim down to the floor.
Stern, Yanick, Marsden, Dar’ugal and Rengs took the turbolift to Deck 10, then slipped into the jefferies tube and down to Deck 11 to avoid leaving an electronic trail in the computer records. Easing down the corridor, they entered the Computer Core Control room.
The instant the doors closed, Rengs stunned the lone Ensign manning the chamber.
“Careful with that in here,” Stern advised him,” One wrong shot and we’re toast,”
“Marsden, get started,” Stern ordered, “Rengs, let’s check out the core,”
Yanick held her weapon tightly as Marsden sat down at the console and started tapping at the controls.
“It’s going to take me a few minutes to setup the bypass,” he said.
Stern and Rengs walked across the control room and through a narrow door into the first segment of the core itself. Even though the software running on Silverado’s computers was badly outdated, the core hardware itself was brand new and state of the art. Racks of isolinear chips and sub-processing units dominated the walls, tiny flashing lights indicating active memory segments. Behind transparent protective panels, Stern could make out the fuzzy shape of the bio-neural gel-packs, special packets of living, lab cultured brain tissue integrated right into the computer systems. The packs gave an impressive boost to the ship’s processing power, sorting and storing information far more efficiently than conventional circuitry. The unprecedented combination of old software, new hardware, bizarre Matrian energy fields and just a bit of Jall’s tampering had in fact led to the accidental ‘birth’ of Sylvia as a sentient being during the Matrian encounter the previous year. Stern could see that additional hardware had been attached to one of the gel-packs and recalled overhearing Jeffery mention something about redundant backup’s for Sylvia’s core gel-pack.
“Anything?” Stern asked.
Rengs tapped at his tricorder.
“I’m not picking up any damage or any power surges at all,” Rengs reported.
“So whatever happened to Sylvia, it’s not because of damage to the computer?”
“I don’t think so,” Rengs said, slipping his tricorder back onto his belt, “There are two possibilities; either she’s been deleted, or she’s being restrained like Fifebee.”
“I don’t like the first option,” Stern said, stepping through the door and back into the control room.:
And dodged to the right as a glowing red beam slashed in front of his face.
“Watch out!” Yanick yelled, just a bit too late.
Darth Noonan brought his glowing lightsaber around for another swing. Stern dropped to the floor as the blade dug into the transparent aluminum window looking into the core, globs of liquid metal solidifying as they dripped down.
“You thought you could resist the Empire? Traitor!” Noonan snapped. Whirling, he used his lightsaber to deflect the phaser beam that Rengs had shot at him. Rengs found the phaser flying out of his hands. Turning back, Noonan advanced on Stern, who was crawling towards the exit where two stormtroopers were covering Yanick, Marsden and Dar’Ugal. Obviously they had rushed in and taken Yanick, Marsden and company by surprise while Stern was in the core.
“This will be a day long remembered,” Noonan said, raising his lightsaber, “It will see the end of the Mutiny, as it has already seen the end of Princess Fifebee!”
As he brought down his weapon to cleave Stern in half, the doors hissed open and a glowing blue blade thrust into the room, deflecting Noonan’s attack. Noonan stepped back in surprise, bringing his lightsaber to the en guarde position.
Simon Jeffery stepped through the door, positioning himself between Stern and Noonan.
“I can’t let you kill them,” Jeffery said.
“You are betraying the Empire,” Noonan said coldly, “Consider very carefully what you’re doing,”
“I’ve been considering it very carefully,” Jeffery said, quivering just a bit, “Ever since you asked me to build your weapon. Somehow, I just knew that I had to oppose you,”
While the exchange was happening, Stern caught Marsden’s eye. Mardsen gave a tiny nod, his eyes flicking to the computer console. He’d finished his task before the stormtroopers arrived!
“Computer,” Stern snapped, “activate Jane Fifebee!”
With a shimmer, Fifebee materialized in front of the two stormtroopers. With lighting reflexes she reached out and banged their heads together like coconuts.
“Jane 5-B, Sentient Hologram, yada, yada yada…COME ON!” she snapped, pulling Stern up off the ground and gesturing for the Hazardous Team members to follow.
Noonan took that moment to strike. Jeffery parried his attack, stepping to the side and launching into a counterattack.
“You have some skill,” Noonan said, blocking Jeffery’s blows, “But you cannot hope to defeat me!”
He stabbed out, aiming for Jeffery’s chest. Jeffery swept his weapon up, deflecting the glowing blade to the left. Noonan went into a series of thrusts and jabs, forcing Jeffery to step back and retreat until he was almost pressed against the wall. Noonan pulled back for a sweeping blow-
And as Jeffery dropped to the floor, Noonan’s blade swept right into the computer core control console. The console exploded outward, throwing Noonan back across the room and slamming him into the far wall.
Gasping for breath, Jeffery pulled himself off the floor, carefully skirting the blobs of molten metal on the floor. He tentatively approached Noonan’s body.
The skin on Noonan’s face was horribly burned and twisted, the cloth of his dark robe burnt from his chest, revealing more burned skin. Even as Jeffery watched, the burns seemed to blur, the worst of the damage healing, leaving only wrinkled scar tissue behind. Noonan’s eyes snapped open as he drew breath.
“What the hell is going on!” Stern demanded as he followed Fifebee through the jefferies tubes. Moving through the corridor they risked running into more stormtroopers.
“I don’t have time to explain now,” she said, “Mr. Jeffery is in extreme danger!”
“Yeah, so we’re leaving, WHY?” Marsden asked.
“We must get to a transporter room and beam him out, immediately,” Fifebee replied, “Regardless of the circumstances; I doubt he’ll last long against Darth Noonan,”
“Oh great,” Stern groaned, “You’re in this too?”
“I’m unaffected by the phenomenon,” Fifebee said, pulling open an access hatch, “However, I’ve found that in this situation, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ seems to be very appropriate, at least in terms of keeping track of who’s who,”
“Don’t you think they’ll be guarding the transporter rooms?” Stern asked.
“No,” Fifebee said, “One thing I’ve learned is that neither the Imperials or the Rebels have any knowledge of transporter technology.”
“Rebels?” Marsden asked, “Oh, you mean mutineers,”
“Indeed,” Fifebee said, “The name might be different, but the similarities between the Rebellion and the Mutiny are clear enough,”
“Now I’m really confused,” Mardsen muttered.
Stepping into the corridors, Stern, Marsden and party were confronted almost immediately by a squad of no less than fifteen stormtroopers. Stern’s surprised shout proved to be sufficient distraction for the mutineers to dart around a corner and down another corridor.
“What else is on this deck?” Stern called out.
“Botanical labs,” Fifebee listed, “level two of the fitness facilities, Holodeck 3-“
“The holodecks!” Stern smiled. His smile vanished quickly as a phaser blast from behind them narrowly missed his head. Darting around yet another corner, they sped to the holodeck.
Ensign Sheldon Kurnadee squinted through his helmet as he chased the mutineers. If he could deliver even one of those traitorous bastards to Lord Noonan, he’d be in for a promotion at the very least. Maybe even financial rewards! There was a bordello in the Corellian system that Kurnadee was just dying to go to. No matter how many partners he had, he never was able to find enough to sate his lusts.
Moving down the corridor, Kurnadee caught a flash of Princess Fifebee as she slipped between a pair of closing double doors. Consulting his map of the ship, Kurnadee saw that the doors led into an enclosed space, with absolutely no way out. They were trapped!
Kurnadee stepped through doors, weapon at the ready. What he found astonished him.
He was in a forest.
Determined to complete his mission, Kurnadee resisted the temptation to call his commanding officer and demand just what the hell a forest was doing on a starship. Gesturing for the other members of his squad to follow him, he started down a rough path.
It wasn’t long before he started seeing signs. Nailed to the trees, staked into the ground and even flashing in neon, they were everywhere. And they all declared the same message:
“Meh, what’s up, Doc?”
Kurnadee spun around, his phaser sights coming to rest on a lanky grey rabbit.
“I’m hunting mutineers!” Kurnadee snapped, “This is an Imperial operation. Move along!”
“Ahhh,” nodded the rabbit, “mutineers, huh? You have fun with that, Doc!”
“Hold on!” this voice was rougher, and had a sputtering lisp, “You can’t let him go! It’s rabbit season! Shoot the rabbit!”
“It’s duck season,” declared the rabbit calmly.
Anybody who’s ever watched Bugs Bunny should have a pretty clear idea of what happens next. If not, you’re missing out. Suffice it to say, Ensign Kurnadee ended the conversation by sending both Bugs and Daffy running amid a hail of phaser fire.
“Spread out,” Kurnadee ordered, “Fifebee and the others are in here somewhere!”
He never even had a chance to look.
Before they even knew what had hit them, the entire squad was overrun by a veritable army of cartoon characters.
Two troopers were taken out by cartoon anvils dropped from high in the trees by a scruffy-looking coyote. Bugs tunneled under the troopers, popping out of the ground long enough to shove sticks of cartoon dynamite in their boots, while several others were knocked off their feet by the swirling maelstrom known as ‘Taz’.
“That aught to keep them busy for a while,” Stern declared.
“You have been spending too much time with Mr. T’Parief,” Fifebee declared, “I believe that once this is over, I shall have to have a strong word with the Captain regarding cartoon fixations among his staff.”
“I think this whole situation proves that we’ve been watching too much television of all sorts,” Marsden added.
“So, what’s next?” Stern asked.
“Perhaps we should save Mr. Jeffery from an untimely death?” Fifebee suggested.
Noonan leapt from the floor, his saber rising up in an arc. Jeffery stumbled backwards, barely avoiding being eviscerated by Noonan’s saber.
“Very clever,” Noonan growled, “but not clever enough. It takes more than a few sparks to destroy a Dark Lord of the Sith!”
“We WILL destroy you!” Jeffery snarled, swinging his blade so wildly that Noonan was forced to take a step back.
Raising one hand, Noonan reached out mentally, lifting Jeffery off his feet.
“I can destroy YOU any time I want,” he said coolly, darting in to hold the tip of his blade at Jeffery’s throat.
Jeffery dissolved in the blue glow of a Starfleet transporter beam.
ACT TWO: THE RETURN OF THE FEDERATION
The lights were low, the stars outside the transparent aluminum windows burned steadily as Darth Noonan entered the room. Faded scar tissue streaked his once handsome features, pulling his mouth into a jagged grimace. He looked around briefly, taking in the deep black walls, the red velvet curtains and the small series of steps leading to the throne.
Had his memories been working properly, Noonan would have noticed that Silverado’s Humanoid Resources office really hadn’t changed much. Only the flat black filing cabinets and large mahogany desk were missing, the cabinets having been replaced with gleaming computer panels and the desk with the towering throne. The heavy chair was turned away from Noonan, giving the occupant a clear view of the stars.
“My Master,” Noonan said, dropping to his knees.
“There has been a great disturbance,” the low voice croaked.
“Yes, my Master,”
“We have a new enemy: Simon Jeffery. He has betrayed us.”
“He has indeed,” Noonan agreed, “I will hunt him down and destroy him,”
“Patience,” the Emperor advised, “Jeffery will be punished. But his punishment can be so much more than just his death.”
“What are your orders?” Noonan asked.
“Leave the Mutiny to me,” croaked the Emperor, turning slowly in the throne to reveal a dark, cloaked figure, “In time, Jeffery will seek you out. And when he does, you will bring him to see me,”
“He’s just an engineer,” Noonan said.
“He will pay for his betrayal at my feet,” the Emperor vowed, “And the Mutiny will be crushed.”
“I think it’s time for that explanation you promised us,” Stern said as he, Jeffery, Yanick and the Hazardous Team followed Fifebee through the cramped Jefferies tubes and machine rooms of Maintenance Sub-Level A. When Silverado was originally designed in the very early days of the Ambassador-class ships, the extra space had been needed for new, experimental technologies like replicators, isolinear data networks and enhanced structural integrity fields. Of course, the engineers had inevitably figured out how to shrink such devices, and most production-run Ambassador-class vessels had no need of such spaces. Silverado, being a relic of the past, had two such sub-levels, A and B. Each was less than half the height of a standard deck. Starfleet engineering had just added a few extra inches to every other deck in the new designs, as they were lazy and it was much easier than redesigning the outer hull. The sub-levels had been empty for most of Silverado’s new incarnation as Operation Salvage flagship, with the exception of a rather nasty incident following the Matrian encounter. Now, Fifebee had determined them to be the perfect hiding place for the Mutiny.
“If we forgot about these half-decks as Starfleet Officers,” Fifebee explained, “The odds of ‘Imperial’ Starfleet Officers remembering them are pretty slim.”
“So what the hell is going on?” Stern demanded.
Fifebee located their destination, a rectangular room that had once held replicator control circuitry. Yanick and Jeffery sat down in one corner so Yanick could fill their new ally in on the situation.
“Everybody has been brainwashed,” she said simply.
“Thank you, Mistress of the Obvious,” Simmons snapped, trying hard not to bang his head on the low ceilings, “We kinda got that part!”
“Mr. Jeffery was experimenting with a new way of processing old movies into the holodeck,” Fifebee explained.
“That’s pretty cool,” Marsden said.
“Quite,” Fifebee nodded, “He setup a subroutine that would allow Sylvia to recompile the two-dimensional videos into three-dimensional holograms.”
“It makes sense,” Marsden nodded, “putting together a holodeck program can be pretty hard work. But the more you let the computer do, the easier it is, but the less specific your program will be. Sounds like Jeffery found a good way around that; Sylvia’s much more creative than any computer program or hologram in the fleet,”
“Except he made a pretty big mistake,” Fifebee snapped, slightly offended, “The program he and Sylvia put into motion made too many assumptions, too many extrapolations. It filled the holodeck with repetitive patterns, unconscious suggestions and images that could be subconsciously interpreted as commands!”
“Huh?” Stern said.
“Anybody who went into that holodeck was bombarded with so many subliminal messages, they were brainwashed into thinking they were part of the movie!” Fifebee said, frustration clearly showing, “The effects were cumulative, so it took a few days to kick in, and of course it isn’t total. But now we have a bunch of people being pulled one way by the movies and another way by their own personalities! Star Wars never had a Darth Noonan, or an Imperial Captain Stafford. That’s Noonan and Stafford’s way of fitting into the movie!”
“And the Mutiny?” Simmons asked.
“The focal point of the last three Star Wars movies is the fight of a Rebel Alliance against an evil Galactic Empire. Noonan and Stafford clearly represent the Empire, while Yanick, Jall and now Jeffery represent the Rebels,”
“What about the Emperor,” Yanick said, speaking up for the first time.
“The Emperor is here?” Fifebee asked, shocked.
“While you were away,” Yanick explained.
“What, so the Emperor is like the big bad?” Stern asked.
“The Emperor doesn’t arrive in person in this fashion until the last movie,” Fifebee said, “Prior to that, he appears either as a hologram, or acting as the political head of the Empire. To arrive in person like this, during a time of escalated conflict between the Empire and the Mutiny deeply coincides with his behavior in the final movie.”
“So?” Marsden asked.
“They didn’t see the last movie, did they,” Stern guessed.
“The effects kicked in fully after the fifth episode,” she said, “And yet they are following patterns that are leading to the same conclusion. Many elements are missing, but the struggle between Jeffery and Noonan, the arrival of the Emperor, your rescue of me and this council of war against the Empire that we’re holding now all parallel the final episode in the original epic.”
“What is it with us and brainwashing?” Simmons complained, “Matrian devices, Senousian hormones…our brains must be pretty damned clean by now!”
So how do we use that to our advantage?” Stern asked.
“Logically,” Fifebee said, “we need to identify the neural sequences that have been affected and take steps to neutralize them,”
“That could take weeks!” Stern objected, “We don’t have weeks!”
“It’s the logical course of action,” Fifebee said again.
“If I’ve learned anything in the past two days,” Stern smiled, “it’s that logic doesn’t always work,” he paced for a moment. Well, paced as best he could in a meter-high room on his hands and knees.
“You said this was like a hypnotic suggesting thing, right?” Marsden said, scratching his head.
“The exact words I used were ‘subliminal messages’,” Fifebee stated, “but in all honesty, I have no idea. Whether it was hypnotic suggestions, subliminal messages or magical fairies, the results are the same,”
“Right,” Rengs said thoughtfully, “but hypnotic suggestions usually have a wake-up trigger. Some Bajoran rituals involve hypnosis, and I remember that the monks always have a signal that snaps you out of it,”
“Yes,” Fifebee nodded, “as a way to end the trance,”
“So if there’s any kind of hypnosis involved, we just have to find their trigger,” Marsden finished.
“What if we played out the entire story?” Stern said finally, “If they think the whole thing is over, would they revert back to themselves?”
“I have no idea,” Fifebee shrugged, “We don’t even know if hypnosis is involved. Several of my personalities do see the advantage of your suggestions, however.”
“Hold on,” Simmons interrupted, “how can they finish the story if they don’t know how it ends?”
“Maybe some of them read the book? Or maybe just through intuition?” Rengs guessed, “I mean, one thing humans and Bajorans have in common is that in the really popular classics, the good guys usually win.”
“It’s a start,” Stern admitted, “but it’s still a bit more logical than I would’ve liked,”
“So, what next?” Simmons asked.
“No what I was expecting,” Simmons quivered.
Stern and Rengs readied their weapons as Fifebee carefully opened the hatch.
“Thank God I found you,” Dr. Wowryk sighed as she slipped quickly into the room and closed the hatch behind her. Stern and Rengs did not lower their weapons.
“How did you find us?” Yanick demanded.
Wowryk looked nervous.
“I followed you,” she finally said, “I know something’s not right on this ship,”
“How do we know you’re not working for Noonan,” Yanick said, suspiciously.
As Yanick and Jeffery were interrogating Worwyk, Stern motioned for the Hazardous Team to join him in an adjoining section. Fifebee crouched between the two groups, paying close attention to both conversations.
“We need to back off,” Stern said without preamble, “Whatever’s happening here, it’s clearly Noonan and Stafford vs. Yanick and Jall,”
“Actually,” Fifebee said, “based on the original storyline, it’s actually Noonan and the Emperor vs. myself and Jeffery. Although I find my role has transitioned to something closer to that of Mon Mothma as opposed to Princess Leia.”
“Mon who?” Kreklor demanded.
“She was the leader of the Rebellion,” Fifebee explained, “she set the battle plan for the attack against the second Death Star,”
“Uh, whatever,” Stern muttered.
“But your point is well taken,” Fifebee went on, “The leadership in this situation clearly must pass to myself as a ranking officer. I feel the Hazardous Team would be best deployed as Rebel troops, helping us in our attack against the Emperor,”
“Excuse me,” Stern said, “But I’m pretty sure I have seniority, Lieutenant,”
“You object?” Fifebee inquired politely.
“Not really,” Stern sighed, “So how is this story supposed to end?”
“The Rebel Alliance attacks the Imperial Death Star,” Fifebee explained, “They send a small team to disable a security field while the fleet engages the Imperial ships. Skywalker, the hero of the story, is taken before the Emperor. The Emperor is defeated by his own apprentice and the Death Star is destroyed.”
“So how do we parallel that?” Stern asked.
“The brig,” Kreklor stated.
“Yes?” Fifebee asked.
“Stafford and T’Parief must have done something with the crewmen who were unaffected by the holodeck, or who never bothered to watch the foolish human show,” Kreklor explained, “They are probably in the brig. We will attack the brig security field generator and free them,”
“That’s one part,” Stern nodded, “How about the Death Star attack?”
“What’s the most powerful weapon on the ship?” Stern asked, “The pulse phaser cannon. Sure, it won’t blast a planet to dust, but still…”
“Let’s just be sure we only disable it,” Simmons spoke up, “If we destroy that thing, T’Parief will destroy US!”
“We’ll destroy the cannon’s main power coupling,” Stern decided, “that’s close enough, but repairable,”
“That’s the easy part,” Fifebee stated, “We still need to get to the Emperor,”
“I can help you with that,” Wowryk stated calmly as she, Yanick and Jeffery came to join the conversation. Wowryk and Jeffery sat next to each other, arms wrapped.
“Looks like the brainwashed Dr. Wowryk is much more loveable than the real one,” Simmons quipped.
“Shut up,” Stern muttered.
“I know where the Emperor is,” Wowryk said, “And I’ll take Simon there,”
Stern balked. He was about to open his mouth and denounce Wowryk’s suggestion as a foolish one, sending one man against the head of the Empire.
“Perfect,” Fifebee smiled, cutting Stern off with a sharp look.
Stern, Rengs, Dar’ugal and Kreklor walked calmly into the security officer. The young crewman manning the reception desk took one look at them and hit the alarm. Even as the security alert started ringing, Rengs’ well-placed stun shot knocked him to the floor.
The doors to the squad room immediately opened, disgorging four stormtroopers in full armor. The Hazardous Team members fired immediately, dropping the first two and ducking behind the desk as even more spilled out.
“I really think the stealthy approach would have worked better,” Rengs shouted, ducking to avoid a phaser blast.
“That rather defeats the purpose of a distraction, don’t you think?” Kreklor girnned, stunning another trooper.
“Your crew tries my patience, Captain,” Darth Noonan said from his seat.
“We’ll take care of this mutiny,” Stafford assured the Dark Lord.
“See that you do,” Noonan said coolly.
“Sir,” Ensign Day reported from Ops, “transmission from the Emperor,”
“Put it through,” Noonan said before Stafford could speak. The cloaked visage of the Emperor appeared on the screen. Heads around the bridge bowed in respect.
“Lord Noonan,” croaked the figure, “you will come to my chambers immediately. Our guest will be arriving momentarily,”
“As you wish,” Noonan bowed. The screen went blank. Without a word to anybody, Noonan marched off the bridge into the turbolift.
“Thank God,” Stafford said softly as the doors closed.
Marsden and Simmons exited the jefferies tube system on Deck 11, mere meters away from the phaser control room, and the main power conduit to the phaser cannon.
“I don’t get it,” Marsden said, “The cannon’s not that important. I mean, we’ve got eleven other phaser arrays and four torpedo tubes!”
“That’s not the point,” Simmons reminded him, “Our mission is to go after the biggest thing that goes ‘boom’, like the Rebels going after the Death Star.”
“Blowing up stuff on our own ship still sucks,” Marsden complained.
“Not like we’ve never done it before,” Simmons muttered.
“Hey, you’re the dude in charge of the plasma grenades!”
“It was an accident!” Simmons said defensively, “At least Stafford has all the civilians safely sealed on Decks 6 and 7 this time.
Both men were thrown to the ground as they struck a security field.
Jeffery followed Wowryk through the Jefferies tube and out into the Deck 5 corridor. Jeffery recognized their location as being right outside of Humanoid Resources, the office occupied by Lydia Thomspon, who had been assigned to keep an eye on the ship by President Dillon’s supporters. He’d been in there just yesterday, doing some minor refit work for Noonan.
“I’m an idiot,” Jeffery muttered to himself, fingering his lightsaber, “It should have been obvious to me…why else would Noonan request a throne for this room, unless the Emperor was planning on taking up residence.
“How very astute,” Noonan said as the doors to the office swished open, revealing the now-hideously-scarred officer. Jeffery found his lightsaber pulled out of his hands by an invisible force. It landed square in Noonan’s grasp.
“The Emperor has been expecting you,” Noonan said. Two stormtroopers came up from behind, gripping Jeffery by the arms as Noonan turned to lead him into the office.
They stepped through a tiny reception room, and into what had become the Throne Room.
Jeffery gulped as he took in the low, somber lighting, the dark colours, and the single, tall throne, turned to look out the windows, hiding the occupant from view.
Noonan walked towards the throne, stopped and knelt at the flight of three steps leading to the throne platform.
“Jeffery has arrived, my master,”
“Excellent,” Jeffery shuddered at the dry, croaking voice. It sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place it. Thoughts of the nature of the voice fled his head as he took in the next words:
“You have done well, Dr. Wowryk,” it croaked, “you have exceeded my expectations,”
Jeffery spun around to face Wowryk, watching in horror as she knelt on the floor next to Noonan. There were no stormtroopers guarding her, and as she looked back briefly at Jeffery, he saw just the tiniest hint of regret on her face.
“Rise, my servants,” Croaked the Emperor.
The throne turned slowly, revealing a hunched, cloaked figure sunk into thick padding.
“I’m looking forward to completing your training,” said the Emperor, a smile faintly visible from the depths of the dark hood, “It time, you will be powerful. And you will me mine!”
“You’re wrong,” Jeffery snapped, “This is all wrong! This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be!”
“Oh no,” laughed the Emperor, “It seems to me that things are going just…fine,”
“We’re going to defeat you,” Jeffery said with confidence he really didn’t feel, “We’re going to set things right!”
“Perhaps you refer to the attack of your mutinous security squad?” the Emperor inquired, “Attempting to free other dissenters? I assure you, my troops will handle them. It was I who allowed the mutiny to know their location! Two squads of stormtroopers will make quick work of them!”
Jeffery gasped as the Emperor stood, the underlying light coming from panels near the floor lighting illuminating its, no, HER features.
“I’m afraid the security fields I’ve put in place will be quite sufficient in protecting the main weapons from your sabotage squad,” Empress Sylvia said, a sadistic grin splitting her heavily creased features.
“Simmons to Stern,”
“I’m a little busy here,” Stern said, picking off stormtroopers while Dar’ugal worked the brig control panel, trying to release the prisoners, “They just keep coming, and coming!”
“There’s a security field up around the phaser control room,” Simmons reported.
“Makes sense that the Empire would protect their most powerful weapon,” Rengs said. The attacking stormtroopers were having problems getting into the security offices due to the large pile of stunned bodies lying in the door. Clearly, hastily trained science personnel didn’t have much of a chance against the Hazardous Team.
“Makes sense??” Stern shouted, “None of this makes sense! Simmons! Use your security override to shut down the field!”
“Duh! I tried that, it didn’t work,”
“Looks like we get to shut it down from here,” Rengs sighed, stunning another stormtrooper.
Imperial Captain Stafford sat in his command chair, an annoyed look on his face.
“What do you mean we can’t get them?” he said crossly.
“Sir,” T’Parief reported, “they’re stunning our troops as quickly as we send them in, our armor is having no effect.”
“Get down there,” Stafford ordered, “Tear them limb from limb if you have to!”
“Yes, sir,” T’Parief gave a toothy grin.
“Sir,” Day spoke up again, “I’m picking up a distress call.”
“From where?” Stafford turned to Lieutenant Ovens at Tactical.
“A small ship, could be a fighter or scout,” Ovens reported, “It’s in orbit around a moon on the far side of the system.”
“Take us in closer,” Stafford ordered.
Across the system, Sobek-34 watched his displays as Silverado altered course to intercept him. The Federation ship was huge, compared to his tiny fighter. No matter, a fight wasn’t exactly what he had planned. He frowned as he eyed his scanners; he was picking up weapons fire! According to the schematic K’Eleese had given him, there was a pretty intense fire-fight going on in the security section.
He hailed the ship.
“Silverado,” he said, broadcasting only audio, “We require assistance at once. Our life support is failing. Beam us to your ship immediately.” He affixed a tricorder, modified to emit lift readings, to the large anti-matter bomb sitting in his copilot seat.
“What does he take us for?” he snapped after the clearly non-human voice finished its demand, “Servants? Slaves? We are officers of the Imperial Starfleet and don’t take orders from the likes of him!”
“And what does ‘beaming’ mean,” Pye wondered from the helm.
“Alien vessel,” Stafford snapped, “This is Captain Stafford of the Imperial Star Ambassador Silverado. Power down your engines and prepare to be boarded. Your vessel is being impounded in the name of the Empire!”
“What the hell?” he muttered to himself.
These were Starfleet officers; they were supposed to be obsessed with the saving of lives, no matter what! That was the whole cornerstone of the attack strategy!
He tweaked the life signs being emitted by the tricorder. Somebody watching a life-form readout on Silverado’s bridge would think there was an injured person on Sobek’s ship.
“Silverado!” rasped the voice over the com, “beam us over now! We’re dying over here!”
Ignoring the sensor readouts, Lieutenant Ovens sneered.
“Permission to blast that space scum to dust?”
“Disable his engines first,” Stafford said, settling into his chair, “Give him some time to contemplate his foolish actions. Then blow him to pieces.
Sobek-34 yelped as he saw Silverado’s lower phaser array power up. With lighting reflexes he just barely managed to dodge the phaser blast that tore through space towards his ship. Flinging full power to his shields (and disarming the explosive in his cockpit) he opened a channel to the rest of his companions.
“They did not fall for it. Attack!”
“I’m picking up more ships!” Ovens snapped from Tactical, “I make it six heavy fighters! They’re closing fast!”
“Shields,” Stafford said calmly, “Arm the weapons. It’s time to find out what this ship can do!”
“Shields are up,” Ovens reported. No sooner did he say that then all six of the ships opened fire.
Stern took careful aim at a white-suited stormtrooper climbing the pile of stunned bodies as he tried to charge the security office, and was promptly thrown on his back as the floor bucked under him.
“That was a weapons blast!” Rengs snapped.
“I think things just got far more complicated,” Stern growled, re-aiming and firing at the approaching trooper.
Jeffery stumbled as the ship shook, falling to the floor. “Captain,” Sylvia tapped a comm panel, annoyed, “What is the meaning of this?”
“We’re under attack by a squadron of fighters, your Excellency,” Stafford’s tinny voice reported over the comm.
“Destroy them,” Sylvia snapped.
“Yes, Excellency,” Stafford replied. Sylvia cut off the channel. The ship shook again.
“Guards, leave,” Sylvia croaked, her normally cheerful voice a haggard parody of its former self, “Simon Jeffery. You were a loyal officer of the Imperial Fleet. Your skills can be of much use to us. Do not turn away from your destiny! Join us, and help us end this conflict!”
“Why should I help you?” demanded Jeffery.
“You don’t know the power…”
As the Empress droned on, Jeffery planned his next move. He didn’t know squat about whether Fifebee and Stern were right, and that everything that was happening was a hypnotic illusion. What he did know was that something, deep down, was telling him that Noonan and the Emperor/Empress had to be destroyed. That destroying them would fix everything, make everything A-OK again.
But how could he do that? Wowryk was a traitor, looking on from near the throne. Noonan was the big villain, standing there with Jeffery’s lightsaber in his hand. And the Empress, droning on about power, was obviously not going to help him.
“Our dorsal shields are weakening,” reported Ovens as the attacking ships came around for another pass.
“Return fire,” snapped Stafford.
Ovens targeted the lead ship with Silverado’s phaser weapons. Fiery red beams of destruction shot out, connecting with three of the six ships. One ship, its shields weakened by previous hits, burst into a bright starburst of exploding fuel.
“I’ve never seen fighters like this,” Day reported from Ops, “They’re not TIE fighters, X-wings, or anything remotely familiar. They’ve got the same weapons as Silverado does…no turbo-lasers or proton torpedoes.
“We’re evening matched,” Stafford said grimly, “Fire quantum torpedoes,”
The bright blue torpedoes homed in on another fighter, blasting it to pieces. A phaser blast struck another, disabling it and sending it spinning off into space.
The remaining three ships ducked in behind Silverado’s warp nacelles, targeting the smaller phaser arrays mounted on the nacelle pylons. Pye worked at the helm to spin the ship around, but the smaller fighters buzzed around the much larger ship like wasps attacking a bull, firing bright photon torpedoes that struck Silverado’s weakening shields.
“Got it!” Rengs snapped as the security field protecting the phaser control room fell, “Marsden! Simmons! You’re clear!”
“Confirmed,” came Simmons on the comm.
Rengs squealed in fear, abandoning any shred of dignity as an enraged, green-scaled lizard (T’Parief) came barreling into the room, mouth open to reveal sharp fangs, claws extended.
Kreklor and Stern pivoted as one, catching the brainwashed security chief with two well-placed, heavy stun blasts. He skidded across the carpet, landing in a pile at Rengs’ feet.
“He’s going to be SO pissed at us,” Stern said after a moments silence, eyeing his unconscious boss.
“Yup,” Rengs said, patting Stern on the shoulder, “thank the Prophets I’m not the one that shot him,”
“You were almost the one he disemboweled,” Kreklor stated.
“I’ll just disable those brig force fields now,” said Rengs.
This time, when the ship bucked like a stung bronco, Jeffery was ready. He launched himself at Noonan, grabbing his lightsaber from Noonan’s grip. He thumbed the switch, igniting the bright blue beam and swinging.
Noonan blocked him, his own weapon glowing a brilliant red. Jeffery swung again, and again, knowing that if only he could take out the evil duo, all would be well. Noonan blocked each attack, then went on the offensive, driving Jeffery across the room and back towards the throne. Abandoning his attack on Noonan, Jeffery pivoted and launched himself at the Empress.
Noonan beat him there, blocking his attack as Sylvia cackled loudly.
Grunting, Jeffery broke his blade free of Noonan’s, swinging at the first officer’s head.
Noonan ducked, then swung back at Jeffery, who barely managed to jump back from the red blade. Giving a harsh battle-cry, Jeffery launched himself at Noonan, striking his blade to the side with his own and crashing right up against him, knocking both to the floor. Jeffery rolled and struck blindly with his blade, hoping to sever Noonan’s head from his neck.
He missed, of course, but the result was just as devastating.
Noonan screamed as his left arm was sliced off just above the elbow, the severed limb smoking as the heat from the lightsaber blade cauterized the wound. Jeffery climbed shakily to his feet then hovered over Noonan, his blade pointed right at his adversary’s neck.
“Good!” Sylvia clapped, a dark smile on her face, “Now finish him off…and take your place at my side.”
Jeffery raised his arm to strike, then caught sight of Noel, still standing by the side, a look of fearful anticipation on her face. Was she afraid that he’d kill Noonan? Should he kill Noonan? If that’s what the Empress wanted, Jeffery thought to himself, maybe it would be the wrong thing to do.
Not to mention that if Fifebee was right, he’d be killing an innocent, albeit brainwashed, man.
That decided it. Jeffery shut down his lightsaber and clipped it to his belt.
“F**k you, bitch,” he spat, advancing on the Empress.
Sobek-31 considered his options.
Despite their best efforts, his five companions had been blasted to dust by the vessel they’d been sent to destroy. Their main plan had been a sneak attack; take advantage of Starfleet’s ethics and morals by faking a distress call as a means to send a large explosive onto Silverado. For some bizarre reason, the Starfleet fools had attacked them instead, putting the Sobeks at a serious disadvantage. Clearly, it was his duty to report the incident back to K’Eleese, so that she might make other plans to deal with her hated enemies.
“The last ship is breaking off,” Ovens reported.
“Lock onto them with the phaser cannon,” Stafford ordered, “The one survivor in the disabled craft will be sufficient for an interrogation. We will learn who had the audacity to assault an Imperial starship. But for this one, we will set an example.”
Ovens tapped as his weapons console, getting only a sharp beep in response.
“Sir, the cannon is offline!” he snapped, “I’m picking up serious damage to the power relays! We’ve been sabotaged!”
“If you will not serve me,” the Empress said coldly, “you will be destroyed!”
Power surged from the display panels on the walls of the room, arcing across the space between and catching Jeffery square in the discharge. His weapon flew from his grasp as he screamed in pain.
“You idiot,” the Empress said, “Finally, you understand the control I wield,”
Another blast coursed through Jeffery.
“You will pay the price for your treachery!”
Jeffery screamed again.
Wowryk watched the scene play out before her.
Dear, sweet Simon writhed on the deck as the Empress, through some devilish control of the ship’s systems, sent wave after wave of power through him. The Empress had promised to destroy the sinners and heretics, but was this God’s will?
Could it be the will of God that her boyfriend dies for a tyrannical dictator?
Picking up Simon’s fallen weapon, Wowryk advanced on Sylvia, ignited the lightsaber and cut her down.
Of course, since Sylvia was the computer personality; she didn’t have a cloaked, withered body. But as the lightsaber passed through the holographic representation that Sylvia’s subconscious had generated, the ‘Empress’ realized that her death was at hand.
As though a cord had been cut, Sylvia snapped back to full awareness, becoming aware that something had severely disrupted her perceptual subroutines and thoroughly scrambled her sense of self. The blocks her subconscious had setup between her and the regular computer systems fell. She had cut herself off, her subconscious trying to give her as much of a ‘human’ perspective as possible in order to fit in with her ‘Emperor’ persona. That personality, of course, didn’t include a full awareness and integration into all ship’s systems, merely those that suited her needs as Empress.
As the blocks fell away, Sylvia analyzed ship’s records; the Captain’s Log, system status and activity reports, personal logs and security reports. Finding nothing but chaos and confusion, she quickly latched on the one individual capable of giving her the quickest and most concise explanation.
Hiding in the hidden room, Fifebee stiffened.
“What is it?” Yanick asked.
“They were successful,” Fifebee said, “Sylvia is back to normal, and is aware of the situation. Quick, we need to get you to a display screen.”
Captain’s Log, Stardate 57985.6:
“Sylvia has successfully used Jeffery’s little conversion program to create a counter program that removed all the screwed up mental impulses from the crew. We no longer think we’re Imperials! Hurray! At least the brainwashing explains why I managed to sit though nearly ten hours of that Star Wars stuff…I sure can’t imagine sitting through it in a sane frame of mind. Actually, no, it wasn’t that bad. I think I’ll play the original versions for Cartoon Night next month. I know, they’re not cartoons, but we’re broadening our horizons!”
“We’ve had no fatalities, although about eighty crewmen woke up with horrible phaser hangovers. Commendations go to the entire Hazardous Team, as well as Lieutenant Fifebee, for working hard to resolve the entire situation.”
“We’ve located the alien fighter that we disabled. Unfortunately, the pilot did not survive. But since reviewing the sensor scans of the battle reveal that the ship that sent out the distress call was packed with antimatter explosives, we’re really not feeling very guilty about it. We’ve beamed the body aboard for analysis, in the hopes of finding out who they are and why they attacked us.
“In the meantime, Sylvia has prepared a little show and tell for us, to show us exactly what we’ve been up to the past two days.”
“That was AWFUL!” Jeffery cried as they left the holodeck, his thick accent back with a vengeance, “We’ve completely BUTCHERED Star Wars!”
“What?” Stafford asked, “The good guys won, the bad guys lost, end of story! Sounds OK to me!”
“But the ending was supposed to be Vader’s great redemption!” Jeffery said loudly, “He was supposed to feel all guilty about being forced to watch his son being murdered! He was supposed to kill the Emperor and return to the light side, not lie there while somebody ELSE did it!”
“Jeffery,” Jall said tiredly, “I’m so very sorry that we didn’t live up to your expectations, but if you don’t stop talking Star Wars, I am going to KILL YOU!”
“I second that,” declared T’Parief, “I do not wish to think of the foolish things we have done.”
“One thing that’s bothering me,” Noonan said, his arm reattached, “Didn’t you use the same technology to create the Hazardous Team’s Road Runner scenario?”
“They started several days after we did,” Jeffery said, realization dawning, “They won’t feel the effects until-“
Lieutenant Stern ran down the corridor at top speed. Seconds later, Crewman Kreklor followed, a knife and fork in hand and tongue dangling from his mouth.
“Oh Sylvia!” Stafford called.
“One Looney Tunes deprogramming program, coming up!” Sylvia said happily, her normal personality restored.
“Wowryk to Stafford,” Wowryk called over the comm, her voice shaking over the link.
“Captain, I need you in Sickbay now, please. We have a serious problem.”
Stafford and Noonan exchanged looks. Wowryk’s voice, while very worried, was also polite and respectful. Clearly, something serious and potentially terrible had happened.
In Sickbay, Wowryk gulped as she walked around the body that had been beamed to Sickbay for analysis. The uniform was unfamiliar, but the features weren’t. The green scales, the knarled cranial ridges, the small sensory nubs.
The razor-sharp teeth and retractable claws.
Yanick had shown her holos of T’Parief’s brothers. They didn’t look anything like him. The body lying her bio-bed, well…
Apparently, their one-of-a-kind, cross-breed security officer wasn’t quite so one-of-a-kind anymore.