Author: Brendan Chris
“OHMIGOD, OMIGOD!” Yanick gasped from the helm.
“Can’t this thing go any faster!” Jall moaned from Ops.
“Deep breaths,” Stafford reminded his staff as calmly as he could, “Just relax. Think.”
“WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” Yanick cried.
“Engineering to Bridge,” Jeffery called up, annoyed, “Is there a reason why we’re at Warp 9.5? There damned well bett-“
“Not now, Simon!” Stafford bit out before cutting the channel.
“Uh, sir?” Lieutenant Stern interjected from Tactical.
“Yes?” Stafford asked, hands gripping and releasing his armrests.
“The other ship is not pursuing,” Stern reported.
“Uh,” Stafford suddenly calmed down, “Oh. Well then. Er, Ensign Yanick, reduce speed to Warp 8 and put us on course for the portal,”
“Aye, sir,” Yanick gulped.
“Fifebee,” Stafford turned to his science officer, “I have just a tiny little question for you,”
“What the hell was that?” Fifebee guessed.
“Good guess,” Stafford replied.
“It is called,” Fifebee stated, “A Transference Ray,”
Stafford, Yanick, Wowryk, Jall and Jeffery looked at her blankly.
“I keep forgetting that some people just can’t be bothered to keep up with the news,” Fifebee grumbled, indulging in an angry Klingon personality for 3.6 milliseconds before returning to her normal self.
Silverado was still on course for the portal. Stafford had stated rather bluntly that he did not plan on retreating and leaving the people on Silverado-2 to their own devices, however he still wanted an escape route if it became absolutely necessary.
“The Transference Ray was invented by Dr. Robert Tulson,” Fifebee explained, “Rather, he was forced to invent it by a race called the Joegonots,”
Everybody around the table shuddered. Everybody knew about the Joegonots; they had been the geeks and losers of the Alpha Quadrant, up until they had been severely and (hopefully) permanently altered.
Author’s Note: For more details, see Star Traks 1. In fact, see Star Traks, The Lost Years for the final confrontation with the Joegonots and various other Traks, Waystation and Vexed Generation stories for details on the Joegonots, the Transference Ray and the Happyverse. You cannot resist…READ!
“Did you guys here that?” Stafford asked, cocking his head.
“Hear what?” Jeffery asked.
“Nevermind,” Stafford shrugged, “It was probably nothing,”
“Anyway,” Fifebee went on, “The Jogonots had planned to use the ray to transform the Alpha Quadrant into beings like themselves. Captain Rydell of the U.S.S. Secondprize foiled their plot and used the ray to turn the Joegonots into normal people,” Fifebee frowned, “Mostly normal, anyway. The ray was destroyed shortly afterwards,”
“Waitaminute,” Jall cut in, “Lieutenant Porter was telling me about some kind of beam in some other universe…it had something to do with K’Eleese,”
“Right,” Stafford snapped his fingers, “Captain Beck mentioned it too, that first time we went up against K’Eleese!”
“Indeed,” Fifebee nodded, “You see, in our universe, the Joegonot threat was ended. But there was a parallel universe where Captain Rydell never existed. And because of that, the Joegonots succeeded. Even worse, a Starfleet Counselor sided with them and modified the Transference Ray so that not only would it Joegonotize the quadrant, it also made them happy. Insanely happy. Horribly, terribly happy,”
“The Happyverse,” Stafford, Jall and Wowryk said together.
“Ah keep hearing that word,” Jeffery said, “But what the hell is it?”
“Another universe,” Fifebee explained.
“But we’re IN another-“ Jeffery started.
“There are LOTS of universes,” Jall said.
“Aye,” Jeffery snapped back, “Too bad ours didn’t get the better version of ye!”
“They keep crossing the universal boundaries to bother us,” Fifebee continued, ignoring the petty bickering, “There have been several wars in the Happyverse involving the ‘Federation of Fun’, the Dominion and the Borg of their universe, and so forth. Clearly, K’Eleese is trying to bring the same conflict to this universe, as evidenced by her attempts to form a ‘Convivial Confederacy,”
“Why here?” Stafford asked.
“We sent her here,” Jall sighed, “Remember? She wanted to go to the Happyverse, we tricked her into coming here. And now, she’s apparently gotten her hands on a happy-beam,”
“Ohhhh,” Stafford shook his head, “THAT can’t be good,”
“And now the other Silverado has been, er,” Jeffery hesitated, “Happified?”
Stafford looked questioningly at Fifebee, who nodded.
“Big time,” she replied.
“Ohhh! This is just SOOO exciting!” K’Eleese squealed as she stepped out of the turbolift and onto the bridge of the Silverado-2, “My new toy worked perfectly! And now I even have my very own Sovereign-class starship to play with!”
“Yippee,” Slezar sighed. T’Parief’s father, he was becoming increasingly bored with K’Eleese’s somewhat insane attitude.
“Oh, Slezar,” K’Eleese seized him in a rough hug, “Without you, this would never have happened!”
“Pleased to have been of assistance,” Slezar forced out. He had, in fact, joined K’Eleese to further his own interests in creating an army of Gorn, Klingon and Andorian hybrids, just like his son T’Parief.
K’Eleese skipped happily around the bridge, running her hands over the sleek control consoles before settling herself into the command chair.
“Hmmm,” she moaned, “I just love the leather upholstery! But I think we need something more. Maybe some fur? Yes!” K’Eleese giggled, “Mugato fur-lined upholstery! It will be perfect!”
She turned to the man standing beside her.
“Don’t you agree?”
“Oh, I most certainly do!” Captain Chris Stafford-2, AKA ‘Chrissy-Wissy Staffund’ replied, “The Lady is fun in all things!”
“Hmmm, good,” she turned to Stafford-2’s first officer, “San-I-Am Jall, would you be so good as to rub my feet?” she turned and propped her feet up on the first-officer’s chair.
“It would be a happy privilege,” San-I-Am replied, pulling off K’Eleese’s boots and proceeding to massage her toes.
“Ahhh,” K’Eleese sighed contentedly and relaxed. After several moments she kicked Jall-2 away and jumped to her feet.
“Enough!” a gleeful smile crossed her feet as she tossed her hair, checking to be sure that her Happy-Bosom-Helper bra was properly positioning her breasts in their most flattering position, “Open a channel to my forces!”
Lieutenant Happy-Day tapped at the Ops console, carrying out her commands.
On several small colony worlds along the Klingon-Gorn-Federation border, vid-screens flickered to life, showing K’Eleese on the bridge of Silverado-2. Her long hair glistened and her lips shone with bright pink lipstick as she smiled widely, revealing rows of perfectly formed teeth. Her Klingon cranial ridges had the soft look of perfectly moisturized skin.
“Attention members of the Convivial Confederacy!” she smiled, “The day of our ascension is at hand! I now have the means to spread happiness and ecstasy across our sad and depressed Alpha Quadrant, and I congratulate you all on your efforts to assist me!” she applauded briefly, “And now, it is with great pleasure that I announce that, for the good of our Confederacy and the good of the quadrant, I hereby declare myself Happymaster of the Convivial Confederacy!”
This time the brainwashed Starfleet officers on Silverado-2’s bridge joined her in her applause.
Once the clapping subsided, K’Eleese turned solemn.
“And,” she said, “I make this my vow to you: Only after the entire quadrant has been properly cheered will I assume the title that is mine. Only then will I become Empress!”
Deep undercover in K’Eleese’s underground headquarters, T’Parief stared at the display screen, remembering only at the last minute to join the Sobeks, his near-identical twins, in their thunderous applause.
Earth, 2173, Track A
Matthew Noonan ran as quickly as he could, sweat pouring down his face, dripping into his eyes and dampening his armpits. His breath came in ragged gasps and sharp pain stabbed into his chest.
He’d been spying on two unknown creatures, nicknamed Grumpy and Smiley. Who and what they were he didn’t know. Nobody really knew, which was why Starfleet Intelligence had been maintaining a quiet program to track and learn about them. Some things they knew, such as that they didn’t like fire or sunlight and that they seemed to survive without food of any kind. Other things, like where they were from and what they wanted, were still a mystery.
Still, what Noonan knew for sure what that these two weren’t taking kindly to being spied on. They’d known the entire time that he was watching him. Every photo taken in the years Starfleet had tracked them had suggested that they knew they were under surveillance, but that they really didn’t seem to care.
Looking over his shoulder, Noonan could see the taller of the two, Smiley, following right behind him, no more than fifty meters away. Smiley didn’t even seem to be getting tired; he just continued to match Noonan’s pace, smiling broadly at him every time Noonan looked back.
His hover-car had been locked, the codes changed. His communicator had flown from his hands when he’d first tried to use it and now hung on Smiley’s belt. It didn’t take four years of Starfleet Academy plus two more years of training for Intelligence to tell him that he was being toyed with.
Stumbling, Noonan realized he’d entered the old Lafayette cemetery. But how could that have happened? He’d been running straight for the closest Starfleet office, which was in the exact opposite direction. Noonan knew there was no possible way he could have gotten that mixed up on his own.
Clearly, the theories about these creature’s mental abilities weren’t all theories after all.
Dragging himself back to his feet, Noonan spun around to face his hunter.
Smiley stood calmly in front of him. Grumpy was nowhere in sight.
“So,” Smiley said, his voice almost insufferably calm, “Do you surrender?”
“No!” Noonan gasped.
“An indomitable spirit!” he grinned, “Oh, you are just TOO perfect! Yes, you will do quite well,” he winked at Noonan, and started to pace.
Despite himself, Noonan found the Starfleet Intel part of his mind grinding into gear, analyzing this creature he had studied from afar for so long.
His voice was smooth, like silk. But there was hardness under it, like the proverbial iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove. His movements were fluid, relaxed. Supremely confident and completely inhuman. No man could move like that. Amber had dragged him to many a ballet, and though the grace displayed by those dancers was similar, none of them could match the pure casual grace of Smiley’s gestures.
“What do you want?” Noonan demanded, sticking to the tried and true.
“Want?” Smiley’s smile grew even wider, “Why, nothing more than the world!” he moved closer, as though conveying a great secret, “And you are going to help me get it!”
Crying out, Noonan rushed the insufferable creature.
T’Parief frowned and wondered what the hell to do next.
After a brief time spent with the base computer system he’d been able to locate a section of vacant quarters, which he promptly converted into an impromptu base of operations. Despite the fancy name, it was little more than just a place where he could sit and plan his next move.
OK. So Silverado was gone, having been chased off by the happified Silverado-2. He could steal a fighter and try to rejoin them, but he doubted he could get past both K’Eleese’s cruiser and Silverado-2. It was clear to him that Stern-2 had been allowed to escape to bring the starships closer to the base, like a fish into a net. T’Parief was left with little choice, he would be of more use here, as a worm in K’Eleese’s apple.
Vowing to lay off the food analogies as his stomach rumbled, he continued his planning.
Slezar had returned to the base, that much he knew. From his few cautious conversations with his ‘brethren’, he knew that Slezar never left for long. He might go with K’Eleese on a raid or to assist with issues on the cruiser in orbit, but he was always back before long to tend his cloning tanks.
“Sobek-42, report to Main Cloning Chamber,” called a voice over the intercom system, “Sobek-42, Main Cloning Chamber,”
T’Parief jerked. Sobek-42? That was him! Or at least, the identity of the Sobek his fighter craft had been piloted by. That being had been killed during an attack on Silverado, but T’Parief had assumed his identity for his infiltration. His father had somehow recognized him earlier but had taken no action.
So who was being summoned now? Sobek-42? Or T’Parief?
“I doubt he will come,” Slezar grunted, standing with his arms crossed in the cloning chamber.
“No Sobek would refuse your order,” his chief aide, Sobek-1 assured him.
“True,” Slezar agreed, “You have all been taught well. However, I do not believe Sobek-42 still lives,”
“Then who have you summoned?”
“An…earlier version,” Slezar said, “A prototype, one might say. Without him, I would never have created any of you,”
“I see,” Sobek-1 said thoughtfully, “It will be an honor to meet him,”
“Indeed it will,” Slezar replied, “If we do not have to kill him to gain an audience,”
T’Parief knew he was in trouble.
He had walked in the general direction of the cloning chamber, planning to change course at the last minute, climb to one of the balcony’s on which the cloning tanks were placed and assess the situation. However, as soon as he entered the main section of the base two Sobeks fell into step behind him. An escort.
Very well. If they wanted to take him, he was not going to make it easy for them.
Up ahead, the entrance to the Main Chamber was coming into view. T’Parief changed course at the last minute, taking a curved flight of stairs to the next level. A quick glance into a reflective wall panel showed that his two shadows were still behind him.
T’Parief had reached the second level when a third Sobek jumped out from behind a cloning tank.
Dodging, T’Parief sidestepped his assailant, giving him a helpful shove that sent him flying into Shadow #1. The two large aliens fell to the ground with a loud crash, rattling the nearest cloning tank in its housing. The third jumped straight at T’Parief, striking him across the middle.
Bracing himself for the agony that would tell him he’d been eviscerated, T’Parief was somewhat surprised when his attacker’s knuckles skidded across the hard muscle of his stomach.
The Sobek had struck him without using claws.
Choosing in a split second to respond in kind, T’Parief slammed his fist into his attacker’s jaw, snapping his head around. Following up with a hard kick, T’Parief sent him crashing into the wall where he collapsed in a heap.
Recovered from their earlier attack, his other two assailants rushed him. Blocking a punch from one, he sidestepped again to prevent the second from getting behind him. Snarling, the Sobek snapped at him with sharp teeth. Yet when the next punch was thrown the Sobek’s claws were still retracted.
Snarling back, T’Parief struck him in the chest, spinning around to batter the other with his thick tail.
And roaring in pain as the other caught the last half-foot of his tail in his vice-like jaws. Gritting his teeth, T’Parief jerked his throbbing tail, bringing the Sobek’s face close enough for a good kick.
Blood streamed from the wounds and from the alien’s teeth. Gashes from T’Parief foot-claws had cut into the Sobek’s cheek, thick blood oozing down to drip from his chin.
“Enough!” called a loud voice from somewhere in the cloning chamber.
The two Sobek’s immediately backed off. Unwilling to ignore the advantage, T’Parief advanced on them.
He didn’t even notice the one that crept up behind him until a heavy weight struck him in the head, sending him to the cold floor.
Stafford sat in his ready-room, contemplating the display on his console.
The tactical display was running a battle scenario. In it, Silverado dropped out of warp near K’Eleese’s base. Her Vor-cha-class cruiser, the Jubilant Death, and Silverado-2 immediately moved to confront the smaller ship, which was charging them at full impulse power.
Several energy bolts erupted from the pulse phaser cannon, striking Silverado-2 while convention phasers and quantum torpedoes splashed against the Death’s shields. Both ships staggered under the assault, but unleashed a counter-attack. Dodging, Silverado managed to evade several shots, but enough connected to tear her shields down to thirty percent.
Watching the image of his ship still careening at full speed towards the other two ships, Stafford tapped in a new command sequence. On the screen, explosive bolts detached both warp-nacelles from their pylons, warp plasma streaming from the nacelles and nacelle pylons like blood from severed limbs. Steered by the maneuvering thrusters mounted on their aft ends and using momentum already built up, each nacelle targeted a ship. One struck the Jubilant Death dead center, sending the ship up in an enormous fireball. The second hit Silverado-2 atop the saucer section in a glancing blow that managed to tear apart the entire upper section of the ship.
Right before it did though, a hazy blue beam appeared, hitting Silverado amidships. Stafford slammed a fist onto his desk in disgust as the icon representing his ship on the tactical display was replaced by a yellow happy-face.
“It was a good try,” Sylvia said, her face appearing in the lower corner of the display, “The Nacelle-Bomb Maneuver, while rare, really isn’t new. But this is exactly the kind of tactical situation where it becomes useful,”
“Except that when we get close enough to ensure that both ships are hit we end up within range of the Happy Beam,” Stafford grunted, disgusted.
“It certainly does seem to be a no-win scenario,” Sylvia agreed.
“Oh yeah,” Stafford sighed.
“Come!” Stafford said.
The ready-room doors opened and Simon Jeffery walked in.
“Jeffery,” Stafford gave a small wave, “What’s up?”
“Uh,” Jeffery looked uncomfortable, “Yer busy. I’ll come back later,”
“Spill it!” Stafford ordered, “I could use a distraction from watching my ship being transformed into a flying carnival.
“I hear you talked to Noel the other day,” Jeffery said.
“Hugged her and everything,”
“Sure did,” Stafford said neutrally.
“So,” Jeffery snapped, anger clouding his face “Yer not happy enough with stealing your own wife, but now yer moving in on my territory!”
“What?” Stafford was shocked, “I wasn’t! I didn’t! I mean, I was trying to help-“
“Oh, aye!” Jeffery said, “Ah can see how much it would help me for ye to get all cuddly with her! Or did ye forget, it was HER ye tried to ‘conquer’ when we were all loopy from that damaged Matrian ship!”
“That wasn’t my fault!” Stafford objected
“Ah should have seen it sooner!” Jeffery went on, his face turning red as his rant continued, “The way ye mope around, whining about how tough it is being single. Ye were biding yer time! Waiting until the girl ye wanted was free an available!”
“Jeffery, be reasonable,” Stafford cut in, shaking his head, “You’ve misinterpreted everything!”
“Have I?” Jeffery asked, “Ah think Ah’m doing pretty good, ye cock-blocking son of a-“
“LIEUTENTANT COMMANDER JEFFERY!” Stafford roared, jumping to his feet, “You are OUT OF LINE! Now, get these ridiculous ideas out of your head, get out of my ready-room and get back to work!”
Jeffery looked like he was going to continue the discussion, but he turned and stormed out.
“I needed that like a hole in the head,” Stafford said sadly after the doors closed.
“He has a point,” Sylvia chimed in, “Maybe you-“
“Sylvia, come on,” Stafford said tiredly.
“Right. Dr. Wowryk,” Sylvia chuckled, “Sorry, for a moment I forgot who I was talking about!”
Stafford sighed as his door beeped again. Thumbing the reply button on his desk, he rubbed his forehead with his spare hand.
“If you’re planning on shouting at me, go away,” he said, “Otherwise, come on in,”
The doors swished open and Lieutenant Fifebee stepped in.
“I take it Lieutenant Commander Jeffery is having bad day?” Fifebee inquired politely.
“He and I both,” Stafford admitted.
“Then perhaps some good news would prove helpful,”
Stafford perked up.
“Always,” he replied, suddenly all business.
“I’ve been researching the Transference Ray, along with some of the records the other Stafford turned over to us,” Fifebee said, handing a padd over to Stafford, “And I believe I have identified somebody who can be of assistance.
“Admiral Jaroch?” Stafford read from the padd, “Why am I sure I’ve heard that name before?”
“You have,” Fifebee’s body shimmered as she took the form of a slim Yynsian male with Captain’s pips.
“Hey!” Stafford exclaimed. Fifebee could almost swear she saw a light bulb appearing over his head, “That’s one of your hologram personality guys, right?”
“Yes,” Fifebee said, resuming her normal appearance, “We’ve encountered Captain Jaroch twice. The first time was when the U.S.S. Secondprize towed us to dry dock after our unplanned slingshot maneuver. The second was when the Jaroch hologram assisted in the re-assimilation of my personality database,”
“Sooo,” Stafford said slowly, “How’s he going to help us this time?”
“According to this information,” Fifebee picked up the padd again, “Admiral Jaroch is heading up a branch of Starfleet R&D. If this universe is close enough to our own, it is likely he has information on the Transference Ray, seeing as how he was the science officer of the ship that first encountered it,”
Stafford was already tapping on his console, accessing long-range communications.
T’Parief awoke slowly, his head throbbing as a very bright light switched on, making his eyes ache.
“You will awaken now,” a firm and very familiar voice said.
Struggling against a round of vertigo, T’Parief forced his eyes the rest of the way open and struggled to sit up, only to find he was strapped into a chair of some kind.
“He is awake,” a second voice said.
“Indeed,” the first said dryly, “I did notice, thank you,”
“Father?” T’Parief creaked.
“Yes, spawn,” Slezar replied. As his vision cleared, T’Parief was able to take a closer look at his father’s features.
Slezar was almost unchanged from when T’Parief had last seen him, the only difference being the addition of several stress lines creasing the borders between his scales.
“It is agreeable to see you again,” Slezar went on, “Tell me, were you manning the weapons console when we attacked your vessel?”
“I was,” T’Parief replied, cursing himself for his instinctive obedience to his father.
“I thought so,” Slezar said thoughtfully, flicking his tongue out to sample the air as he tapped at a nearby console, “Your counter-attack, while decisive, was also somewhat clumsy. You used a brute-force weapon to destroy our fighters rather than identifying their weaknesses and using more subtle weapons to take advantage of them,”
“We still beat you,” T’Parief stated firmly.
Chuckling dryly, Slezar continued to tap at the console. An overhead panel opened and an odd looking array of scanners and sensors lowered themselves around T’Parief’s head.
“Why are you working for her, Father,” T’Parief demanded, “Why did you leave Mother for this freak? K’Eleese is-“
The two Sobek guards near the door bared their teeth.
“Careful, spawn,” Slezar advised, “You will find that K’Eleese’s troops do not respond well to comments made against their mistress. In any event, my reasons are my own. I needn’t explain myself to you,” he stepped out from behind the console and looked T’Parief square in the eye.
“Suffice to say,” Slezar said slowly, “That what I am about to do to you will be of great benefit to K’Eleese and her forces,”
Then, he winked.
It was brief, and for a moment T’Parief thought he might have imagined it. The next instant, Slezar was again the indifferent scientist, regarding him as one might regard an interesting lab rat.
“Now then,” he said, stepping back behind his console, “You must have noticed some of the changes that I’ve made with the Sobeks,” he flicked his tongue out again, “Changes that you probably don’t understand very well,”
“You’ve given them the ability to mate,” T’Parief replied, feeling a cold anger rise in his chest, “An ability you denied me,”
“Easily remedied,” Slezar dismissed, “I’m surprised one of your Starfleet doctors hasn’t already figured out how to countermand that-“
“They have,” T’Parief snapped.
“Then there is no problem,” Slezar shrugged, “It will be interesting to see what kind of offspring you and that human woman will produce. Needless to say, I doubt she would enjoy the process. Klingon and Gorn mating habits are really quite…aggressive,”
“You might be surprised,” T’Parief shot back.
“Regardless, I’m sure you’ve noticed other changes as well,” Slezar went on, “Obedience, loyalty and so forth. It really is quite impossible for them to betray myself or K’Eleese. Or,” Slezar allowed a small amount of anger to enter his voice, “to run off and join Starfleet,”
“Surely,” T’Parief shot back, contempt dripping from every word, “You did not go along with this scheme simply to get back at me for leaving Nisus?”
“You give yourself too much credit, spawn!” he hissed, “Far too much! You were an excellent prototype, but not all prototypes make it to production!” With a quick movement, he stabbed one last control on the panel.
After a brief hum, several beams of light stabbed out of emitters, flashing over T’Parief’s head. He could feel a slight itch, almost as though his brain were being carefully examined with a dental pick.
“Excellent,” Slezar nodded, pulling two data chips out of the console, “You might find this interesting,” he said, conversationally, “I’ve just taken a complete scan of your brainwaves. This chip,” he held up one chip, “now contains a full reading of every energy pattern being produced by your brain. It certainly could be,” Slezar gave a lazy smile, “A very interesting piece of so many different puzzles. Don’t you agree?” Not bothering to wait for a reply, he turned to one of the guards.
“Take this to the cloning research center immediately,” he ordered. He turned to the other guard, “You, stand watch outside. Make sure he doesn’t leave,”
Finally, he turned back to T’Parief.
“It was agreeable to see you again, T’Parief,” he said, “Perhaps, in the future, you will cease to disappoint me,”
With that he left, leaving T’Parief alone in the medical lab.
Earth, 2173, Track A
Noonan couldn’t recall having ever been so helpless.
His attempted assault on Smiley had been pointless. Smiley had simply laughed and moved with impossible speed, sidestepping Noonan’s assault and grabbing the officer by the scruff of the neck. One careful blow was all it took to put Noonan into a daze. Dimly, he was aware of being lifted and carried.
When full awareness returned, he was lying on a beautifully detailed Persian rug in the middle of a beautifully appointed room.
And he was being watched.
Grumpy was seated on a sofa, legs crossed and fingers steeple. He didn’t move, looking to Noonan like a statue carved of ivory, except for the bright green eyes that stared right into Noonan’s.
Grumpy abruptly stood, shattered the illusion.
“Do you really think this could work?” he said softly. His voice had the same silky sound as Smiley, but the hardness wasn’t present. Instead he sounded thoughtful and just a bit sad.
“Of course it could work,” Smiley said, startling Noonan, “We have discussed this thoroughly. This is the single best way for us to do this!”
“But,” Grumpy gestured towards Noonan, a pained look on his face, “What about the mortal? We are condemning him to-“
“To nothing!” Smiley snapped, the smile gone, “Listen, if this works he will have all of our strengths, without our greatest weaknesses! Forget that, he could change our way of life forever!”
“But why him?” Grumpy insisted, “Why not one of the younger ones? They could get what-“
“No,” Smiley cut him off, a small grin returning, “It has been far too long since we made another. None of us understands this time! Starships and warp reactors and matter synthesis. He is exactly what we need!”
“Starfleet R&D, Admiral Jaroch speaking,” stated the Yynsian male on Stafford’s display screen.
“Admiral Jaroch,” Stafford took a deep breath, “I’m Captain Christopher Stafford of the U.S.S. Silverado-“
“Captain,” Jaroch smiled warmly, “A pleasant surprise! It’s been what, a year since that nastiness in the Delta Encarta system?”
“Er, right,” Stafford swallowed uncomfortably, “Admiral, I’m not the Chris Stafford you know. I’m actually from a parallel universe. I’m calling because I need your help,”
The smile slid off Jaroch’s face.
“Go on,” he said, his voice carefully flat.
Stafford explained the situation with K’Eleese, the portal, the Sobeks and the happification of the Silverado-2.
“This is certainly a situation deserving of the utmost attention,” Jaroch said once he had finished, “What do you need from me?”
“I, we, were hoping,” Stafford said, “that you might know of a way to reverse the effects of the happy beam, and maybe even a way to shield ourselves from it,”
“Ah!” Jaroch exclaimed, “Well, I can certainly help you with the first item. We do have a beam that will reverse the effects of the Transference Ray,” Jaroch frowned, “Actually, it’s just another Transference Ray, programmed with the brain patterns of normal humanoids,”
“Whatever works!” Stafford said eagerly.
“We don’t have a way of shielding against the beam though,” Jaroch cautioned him, “And besides that, how do I know you’re telling me the truth? This is very sensitive technology we’re dealing with here,”
Stafford was taken aback.
“Why would I lie??” he demanded.
“Well,” Jaroch looked uncomfortable, “We have had a few, er, problems with people from other universes,”
“Fair enough,” Stafford agreed, an idea striking him, “One moment…”
He tapped at his console, initiating a conference call.
“You’ve reached Captain Chrissy-Wissy Stafford of the Funship Silverado!” Stafford-2 said, a wide grin on his face, “We’re rather busy taking over the quadrant at the moment so please leave your message at the beep…BEEP!”
Stafford cut the third channel.
Jaroch was stunned.
“Good enough,” he squeaked. Then, clearing his throat, “I’ll transmit the schematics of the Transference Ray momentarily,”
“Just please,” Jaroch pleaded, “Don’t let this insanity spread! I’m sending the U.S.S. Ossington and the U.S.S. Eglinton to assist you, but they won’t be there for at least seventy-two hours!”
“Gotcha,” Stafford nodded.
Several moments later, Stafford strode out onto the bridge.
“Fifebee,” he said, tossing a data chip in her direction, sending her scrambling to catch it, “I have a job for you. I want one of these mounted on Silverado and on all of our shuttles,” he turned to address the rest of the crew, “Everybody else, prepare for battle. Again,”
“Can’t we just all go for lattes instead?’ he asked.
T’Parief sat strapped to the examination chair, contemplating his surroundings. He’d been left alone in the room with the proverbial one inept guard standing outside the door. There had been no interrogation, no torture and no bizarre K’Eleese fetish attack. He didn’t even really understand his father’s purpose for having him brought here. What could he possibly get from another scan?
He didn’t even ask why I was here, T’Parief realized. He immediately started looking back over the conversation he’d had with his father.
The wink came immediately to mind. He’d winked, after saying that what he was doing would benefit K’Eleese. He’d done the same thing earlier, when he’d said that Silverado didn’t have a chance. Was his father developing a sense of humor? Or was he trying to tell T’Parief something.
T’Parief looked around the room again, then examined the straps that held him to the chair. He hadn’t even noticed before, but they really didn’t look all that strong. In fact, if he craned his neck he could almost reach the one on his arm…
With one bite, he freed his arm. Within seconds he’d freed himself and started looking around the room. He quickly realized that there was little there beyond the chair, the door, an access panel and the control console Slezar had used.
And a data chip sitting on the console.
‘A very interesting piece to so many different puzzles,’ Slezar had said. He’d pulled two chips out of the sensor console, but he’d only taken ONE chip with him.
T’Parief pocketed the chip.
The access panel was easily opened, revealing a maintenance crawlway leading deep into the guts of K’Eleese’s Ecstasy Base.
Cursing softly as he banged his head on a support strut, he squeezed through the hatchway.
“We have picked up the Starfleet ship on long range scanners,” Sobek-3 reported from the Jubilant Death’s sensor panel.
“Silverado?” K’Eleese asked.
“Yes,” Sobek-3 reported, “It is approaching at Warp 8”, the alien frowned, “I am picking up three smaller warp signatures, but I cannot identify them,”
“Who cares,” K’Eleese laughed, “In less than an hour they will either be working for me, or they’ll be dead!” she clapped her meaty hands together, “Either way, they’re out of my hair!” she pulled one of her long braids to her face and took a deep sniff, “Mmmm…fruity. And what perfect texture!”
“They could have a plan,” Sobek-2, her first officer said carefully, “Perhaps they have a plan for defeating us,”
The smile slid of K’Eleese’s face.
“Come here,” she said quietly. Following his programming, Sobek-2 stepped closer to the command chair, unaware that most sentient species would have run screaming for the exit.
With lightning speed, K’Eleese landed a hard chop to the alien’s left leg, instantly cramping the thick muscle and drawing a grunt of pain.
“DO NOT QUESTION ME!” K’Eleese hollered, jumping out of her chair and knocking the hulking alien to the deck. Crossing her arms, she looked down at her second in command, “You know, Number Two,” she chuckled to herself, enjoying her play on the alien’s name, “I think that before you can be a truly valued member of my command staff, you will need a small,” K’Eleese’s smile deepened, “attitude adjustment!”
“To the science lab!” K’Eleese laughed aloud, then paused, “I mean, the Chamber of Perpetual Happiness!”
“Ammit-bitten, Ra-be-Damned piece of-“ there was another CLUNK as T’Parief banged his knee on the hatchway that, two second earlier, had impacted on his cranium. He’d run out of Gorn and Klingon curses some time ago, an impressive, once in a lifetime feat in itself, and had reverted to Terran swearing. Sadly, he picked up most of his Terran curse-words from watching their movies. Stargate had played to a full house just two weeks ago.
Trying to remember the maps he had viewed, T’Parief was pretty sure he was somewhere in the vicinity of the Main Cloning Chamber, with its tiers of cloning tanks. Hopefully, he could corner Slezar in a more private location and force his father to reveal some of what he had been trying to tell T’Parief.
Checking again to ensure the data chip was still in his pocket, T’Parief pondered his father’s words again. A piece of interesting puzzles. Which puzzles? K’Eleese’s plot for creating her Convivial Confederacy? Silverado’s mission to defeat her?
Or something more personal. If T’Parief was a piece of the puzzle, wouldn’t it make more sense for the puzzle to involve him? It didn’t take a genius to realize that T’Parief’s whole life was a puzzle; right from his mismatched brothers to the gland that prevented him from mating. But what would his brain scans have to do with it?
The cramped passageway opened up into a small junction with an access terminal and a vertical access tube. It only took a moment for T’Parief to tap into the teminal. Whatever this puzzle piece was, he was pretty sure that Stafford should have it.
Earth, 2173, Track A
“W-what are you going to do?” Noonan asked. He found he couldn’t move from where he sprawled on the carpet.
“It’s really quite simple,” Smiley explained, “You see, when I make another Blood-Drinker, as I intend to do to you, I always find that my blood is far too powerful. The poor creatures end up with abilities that warp their fragile minds quite horribly. And so my dear companion here,” he gestured at Grumpy, “Will be making a contribution of his own,” Smiley moved closer to Noonan, “This is a new era for the vampires! You will be the first! With my power, and my companion’s insufferable humanity, you will be our liaison to the technologies of this world,” Noonan could see the greed in the beings eyes, “You will help us obtain technologies that will feed us without causing pain to mortals, technologies that will keep us hidden from them and technologies that will protect us as we venture where no vampire has gone before!” Smiley turned to Grumpy and looked almost sympathetic, “I know this pains you, my friend. But you, he and I will gain so much! And for once,” he turned back to Noonan, “so little will be lost!”
Noonan didn’t even have time to scream as Smiley rushed him. He felt a splitting pain in his neck, a pulling that reached every part of his body, then the world faded into darkness.
“We’ll be in range in five minutes,” Ensign Yanick reported from the helm.
Red lights flashed on the bridge as stars streaked by on the main screen. Backup crewmen were in place at both Auxiliary consoles; Port Auxiliary having been setup to act as Damage Control and Starboard Auxiliary having been setup as a secondary Tactical station. Lieutenant Stern was manning the main Tactical station and Lieutenant Sage had been pulled from a sound sleep to man the bridge Engineering station. With Ensign Day at Damage Control, Ensign Marsden at Secondary Tactical and Lieutenant Commander Quintaine in the first officer’s chair, the bridge was comfortably crowded, in Yanick’s opinion.
Which meant it was getting a little too crowded for everybody else.
Elsewhere on the ship, crewmen and women were again manning battle stations. Damage control teams were ready and Sickbay was prepped. On Deck 13 Jeffery was checking the connections on the lower forward phaser array, which had been converted into a Transference Ray.
“Hey, Captain,” Jall called from Ops, startling Yanick out of her reverie, “We’re being hailed by the planetoid,”
“On screen,” Stafford ordered, affecting his best ‘Commanding Starfleeter’ pose, “Attention forces of K’Eleese! This is Captain Christopher Stafford of the -“
“Your fly is undone, Captain,” T’Parief pointed out from the main screen. Yanick swallowed hard, trying to focus on her console and not on…him! He really did look delicious. No! Don’t think that way! He was mean! Well, one time anyway.
“What?” Stafford immediately went to check, “No, it isn’t!”
“No,” T’Parief admitted, “But it will now be easier to convince you I am T’Parief and not a Sobek,”
“Why’s that?” Stafford asked wearily.
“Because the Sobeks would not know about that time you impounded a freighter smuggling Swiss Chocolate over the Romulan border with your pants unzipped,” T’Parief stated calmly.
“Report, Mr. T’Parief,” Stafford said, sitting back in his seat as the bridge crew snickered.
“I had been captured by the Sobeks, but have escaped,” T’Parief reported, “My father,” he swallowed, “I am not sure what my father has done. But he did give me what he claims is a very important piece of the puzzle,”
“What puzzle?” Quintaine asked.
“What piece?” Jall added.
“I do not know!” T’Parief snapped, “But I will transmit-“
“Shit!” Yanick screamed, tapping her console, dropping Silverado out of warp and going into evasive maneuvers, “We’re in weapons range!”
“Thanks for paying attention, you lot!” Stafford roared, “T’Parief, we’ll talk to you later!”
“But, Captain-“ T’Parief started. He was cut off as Stafford switched the main screen to an exterior view.
“We’re receiving a file upload,” Fifebee said.
“And we’re being fired on!” Stern snapped.
“Trish!” Stafford hissed, “the plan?”
“On it!” Yanick forced out, tapping at her console.
Silverado had dropped out of warp within weapons range of both Jubilant Death and Silverado-2, but was still moving fast enough to evade most of the storm of weapons fire that was launched in her direction. Focusing on the Jubilant Death, Silverado unleashed a wave of phaser beams and torpedoes, trying to do as much damage as possible to K’Eleese’s shields.
Sweating as she worked the helm console, Yanick moved Silverado behind the Klingon cruiser and was doing her best to keep her there. On the bow of that ship was a happy beam that could end the entire fight very quickly.
Stafford had abandoned his nacelle-bomb plan. Aside from breaking his ship into pieces, the addition of his own Transference Ray had transformed the battle from a desperate attempt to knock out K’Eleese into a valiant struggle for victory.
“Jeffery,” Stafford shouted from the command chair, “Tell me we’re ready!”
“We’re ready!” Jeffery said. He closed the channel, “I think,” he added to himself.
“Stern, keep firing on K’Eleese! Marsden, lock the Transference Ray onto Silverado-2!”
“One Bitch Ray, coming up!” Marsden reported.
Yanick pushed the old ship hard, spinning her around and bringing the bow and the lower forward phaser array to point in Silverado-2’s direction while still trying to stay behind the Klingon ship. Stern fired several torpedoes, both the standard photons and a few of the more powerful quantum variety. Each torpedo was programmed to circle the bulk of K’Eleese’s ship and impact on the forward shields. Several of the torpedoes were destroyed by disrupter beams before they could make it, but several more struck home. Return fire was heavy, and Silverado’s shields were starting to weaken.
Silverado shook as a quantum torpedo from the Sovereign-class ship struck hard on the port saucer. But the shields held and as soon as he could make the shot, Marsden fired. A hazy red beam shot out of Silverado’s phaser array, washing Silverado-2 in bloody red light.
Stafford-2 blinked from his command chair. On his viewer he could see Silverado pitching to one side as another quantum torpedo blew a hole in her port shields. A disruptor blast from K’Eleese’s ship struck the ship on the other side, further weakening the ships strained starboard shields.
Why was he attacking that ship again? Why was Yanick-2 dressed in bright pink? Why was Fifebee wearing a baby-blue uniform top with a bright blue tutu?
“We were happified!” Stafford cried.
“Silverado to Silverado!” his own voice came over the comm, “Are you people back to your usual arrogant selves yet?”
“We are SO not arrogant!” Jall-2 snapped from the first officer’s position.
“That answers that!” Stafford snapped back, “How about some help here?”
“Intruder Alert!” Stern-2 snapped from Tactical, “We have Sobeks on all decks! They’re attacking!”
“We have our own problems!” Stafford-2 reported, “We’ve got Sobeks up the wazoo here! You’re going to have to deal with K’Eleese on your own for now!”
He cut the channel.
“Ohhhh!” K’Eleese fumed watching as Silverado-2 broke off its attack run and moved away from Silverado, a few phaser blasts spearing out to connect with the fighters that had, until now, served as her escort. Doing an excellent Marvin the Martian impression, she clenched her fists and snarled, “This is making me VERY angry!”
“They must have a Transference Ray of their own,” the newly happified Sobek-2 stated as the ship shook from a Silverado-delivered photon torpedo, “Goody! We have SOO much in common!”
“And we’ll have more soon enough!” K’Eleese snarled, pushing Sobek-7 away from Tactical and arming the Happy Beam.
“Trish! She’s pointed right at us!” Stafford said, watching as K’Eleese’s ship swung around, bringing her forward weapons to bear on his ship.
“Impulse engines are damaged!” Yanick reported, trying to pull away from the Jubilant Death, “I can’t move us fast enough!”
“Shields down to thirty percent!” Stern reported.
“I’m picking up-“ Fifebee started.
Stafford didn’t wait for her to finish.
“WARP SPEED!” he yelled.
Yanick started to enter the command, but before she could hit the ‘Execute’ button, she was struck by a sudden wave of joy. Why should they fear K’Eleese? She was just a big, cuddly Klingon who wanted to make the world happy. Mmmmm…happy. Like pretty bright colours and stuffed animals. Like riding Fred, her horse, into a warm sunset. Like pretty flowers and happy smiling kitties and maybe even a panda bear or two. Unable to stop herself, she grinned widely at the pure joy of the universe-
-and a wave of sadness swept over her like a tidal wave. The ship was being attacked, shields were damaged and they were probably going to DIE!”
“Pye to Silverado,” the comm chirped, barely audible over Yanick’s desperate wail, “Welcome back!”
“Good job, Ensign,” Stafford replied, letting out a sigh of relief.
Knowing that somebody was likely to end up happified, Stafford had ordered the three shuttles to wait outside the battle zone unless Silverado had found herself on the receiving end of a Happy Ray. Equipped with Transference Beams of their own, the shuttles had dove in, de-happified the joy-stricken ship and proceeded to fire their smaller weapons at the Jubilant Death.
“Now, Stern!” Stafford snapped, “Before she fires again!”
Stern tapped the phaser controls, firing the pulse phaser right at K’Eleese’s Happy Ray.
At full strength, the Vor-Cha-class cruiser’s shields probably would have held. But after enduring several torpedo hits and the shuttle assault, the weakened deflectors gave way to the rapid-fire phaser bolts. The Happy Beam exploded into a cloud of metallic fragments and vaporized plastics just as the energy cells powering the pulse cannon ran dry.
“Enough good cheer for today,” Stafford said.
T’Parief watched the battle from his cramped little junction. After Silverado-2 had suddenly broken off her attack, he concluded that somehow Stafford or Fifebee had devised a way to reverse the effects of K’Eleese’s Happy Ray. But K’Eleese still had a large reserve of fighters at her disposal and her cruiser would probably blow Silverado out of the sky if Silverado-2 didn’t return to the fight soon.
It was time to take action.
But what the heck was he supposed to do in the middle of K’Eleese’s base?
He turned to the vertical tube, intent on forcing his way into the command center and at least trying to lock down the docking bays and prevent a few fighters from joining the fray. According to the map displayed on the small terminal, he was right at the base of the Main Cloning Chamber, just a quick climb up and-
Up. To the Main Chamber. Which, according to the maps he’d seen, was supposedly located at the lowest of the base.
Releasing the ladder rungs, T’Parief opened the lower access hatch, revealing a ladder that led down into parts of the base that, according to the computers, didn’t exist. Checking quickly he found no signs of an alarm or other security system. But why should there be? The Sobeks were programmed for obedience, not curiosity. Only Slezar and K’Eleese had the motivation to wonder what was down there, and T’Parief was willing to bet that K’Eleese was far too busy with galactic domination to really worry about an extra access hatch here or there.
Tucking in his tail as best he could, T’Parief started to climb downward.
“We could really use some options here, people!” Stafford called.
Smoke was billowing on the bridge from the Science console, which had exploded after a direct hit to one of the main sensor arrays. Fifebee had quickly moved herself over to Auxillary Starboard, now that the Happy/Unhappy beam portion of the fight had ended.
The ship shook again as a wave of fighters streaked by, delivering disruptor hits to the starboard nacelle pylon. The glowing blue warp grill on the nacelle flickered and faded as plasma billowed from a ruptured power transfer conduit.
“Shields at twenty percent!” Stern called.
Stafford sighed. They were putting up a pretty good fight. Stern and Quintane were doing the best they could, but they just weren’t as quick or as experienced as T’Parief and Noonan. Wondering briefly if he was gaining new understanding of how Admiral Tunney had initially felt about Silverado, he resumed wracking his brains for a solution to their predicament.
What would Noonan do? Screw that! Stafford couldn’t even figure out why Noonan bothered to drink wine for breakfast. He had about as much chance of predicting his battle strategies as a monkey had of working a computer.
T’Parief was a little more his speed. What would T’Parief do? Follow his orders, Stafford realized glumly.
“Hull breach on Deck 15!” Ensign Day called out, “Emergency forcefields have failed!”
“Evacuate that section!” Stafford called out.
“Captain!” Fifebee exclaimed.
“I have analyzed the file sent by Lieutenant Commander T’Parief!” Fifebee reported proudly.
“Is this really the time?” Stafford shot back as the ship shook.
“Yes!” Fifebee insisted, “He has sent us an extremely detailed brain wave pattern scan of himself!”
She paused to let the significance of her find sink in. It didn’t.
“And??” Stafford shouted over the crash of another disruptor impact.
“We can use it to reprogram the Transference Ray!” Fifebee explained, “We can turn the Sobeks-“
“Into T’Pariefs!” Stafford gasped.
Climbing out of the access tube, the first thing T’Parief did was bang his head against a conduit.
“Son of a God-damned, <expletive deleted>, <expletive deleted>, <deleted expletive>!” he cursed. Clearly K’Eleese had played at least SOME part in the design of this base! There was no possible way his father would have designed a facility with so many obstructions at head level!
T’Parief’s words faded as he climbed out of the maintenance tunnel and into a wide corridor. He was actually at a junction, with corridors branching off in several different directions. Both sides of each of the corridors were lined with cloning tubes, fed from conduits snaking down from the levels above. Each conduit held a single adult Sobek.
T’Parief felt growing apprehension as he began walking down one corridor. With all of these Sobeks, K’Eleese would have at least double the forces she currently wielded.
It didn’t take long for T’Parief to locate a heavy wrench. No matter how advanced a race was technologically, they never seemed to outgrow the use of the common threaded bolt.
Moving towards the closest cloning tube, T’Parief prepared to swing.
“Get us closer to Silverado-2!” Stafford ordered, hanging on for dear life as his ship shook around him, “Divert more power to the shields!”
Stern rerouted power yet again.
“Shields at fifteen percent!” he reported.
“Fifebee! How’s it going!” Stafford called into the comm.
“The modifications are complete!” Fifebee called, “You may fire when ready!”
Lieutenant Marsden-2 gasped in pain as he led Alpha Squad against the Sobek invasion of the ship. So far they’d manage to stun four of the large reptiles, but he’d lost one crewman to a disruptor beam and was himself nursing a slashed forearm.
A wounded crewman staggered towards Marsden from around a corner.
“They’ve barricaded themselves in Computer Core Control!” he reported, “God knows what they can do to the ship from there! You’ve got to stop them!”
Marsden gulped. His small force couldn’t hope to overrun a well-defended position. But neither could they allow intruders access to vital computer systems.
“C’mon,” he said to his troops, hoping he sounded far more confident than he felt.
Sobek-16 checked his weapon as he crouched behind a control panel. Behind him, Sobek-17 and 18 were trying to break through the security lockouts on the computer core. He didn’t bother to consider why the crew of the ship had rebelled against K’Eleese, such thinking was not his responsibility. The doors hissed open and five Starfleet Officers rushed in, phasers firing.
Sobek-16 brought up his weapon and was about to fire when a sudden wave of nausea washed through him. What was he doing here? What was happening? Why was he fighting these people? Who in the galaxy would pledge allegiance to a woman who had flowers painted over body armor.
Dropping his weapon, he stood, hands up, claws retracted.
“I surrender,” he stated calmly, seconds before a phaser blast from Ensign Kreklor-2 send him reeling into unconsciousness.
“Oops,” Kreklor-2 said innocently as Marsden and the others collected weapons from the other, still conscious Sobeks.
“Sir!” Stern-2 called from Tactical, “Silverado has fired another transference beam at us!” he continued tapping his console, “And the Sobeks are surrendering!”
“Anybody feel any different?” Stafford-2 asked.
Everybody shook their heads.
“This beam had a different modulation,” Sikcee reported from Sciences, “It was targeted specifically at Sobek neural profiles,”
“Maybe NOW you can help us out??” Stafford’s voice came over the comm.
“What is the other Silverado’s status?” Stafford-2 demanded.
“Not good!” Stern-2 reported.
“Extend our shields around the other ship,” Stafford-2 ordered.
“Thanks,” Stafford called over the comm, “Now, if you’ll watch our backs, we have work to do!”
T’Parief swung the wrench, hard, right at the cloning tank.
He dropped the tool and gripped his hands, which were vibrating with the extreme pain of a metal on metal impact.
“You really do not want to do that, spawn,” Slezar said. Another wrench lay on the floor and his father appeared to be in a similar amount of pain.
“Why not?” T’Parief snarled.
“Look closely,” Slezar nodded at the tank.
T’Parief did. Flash-education feeds were attached to the alien’s skull, but he could see greenish-brown scales, razor-sharp teeth, cranial ridges, a pair of sensory buds and a set of lovely, fully formed breasts.
“A female!” T’Parief exclaimed.
“More than one,” Slezar said, gesturing down the corridor.
T’Parief moved slowly from one cloning tank to another. Each tank held a fully formed, female Sobek.
“They’re all female?” he asked slowly.
“Every single one,” Slezar confirmed, “A female for every male up there,”
“And twice the army for K’Eleese!” T’Parief accused.
“Hmmm,” Slezar purred, “You disappoint me. You still haven’t discovered what I am doing here?”
“The attacks on my ship speak for themselves!” T’Parief accused.
“Yes, well,” Slezar said, “That was unfortunate. I needed to involve Starfleet to ensure K’Eleese would be taken care of. And, thanks to you, that is taking place!”
Slezar handed him a padd. As he watched, a view of the battle unfolded on the display. Silverado and Silverad-2 were close together, possibly sharing deflector shields. As he watched, a hazy green beam fired out of Silverado’s lower forward phaser array and stuck a flight of fighters headed for the two ships. For several seconds nothing happened. Then the fighters broke away and set course to return to the base.
“What?” T’Parief murmured.
“You were my prototype in far more ways than one,” Slezar said, “You and your brothers. I spent nearly two decades analyzing your behavior, trying to decide which of you would make the best base model. Your brothers may have been more obedient, but you proved far more adaptable, cunning and loyal. Loyalty and intelligence can be so much more useful than blind obedience, you see,”
As he spoke, Slezar led T’Parief down the corridor to a small control room.
“You have developed exactly as I planned. Unfortunately, the Gorn who backed my project pulled out several months ago. I had feared that my work was in vain, but that horribly cheerful K’Eleese woman dropped right into my lap,” Slezar’s tongue tasted the air, “She has behaved exactly as I predicted. You have behaved exactly as I predicted. And, most importantly of all, Starfleet has behaved exactly as I predicted,” he gestured to the display. Silverado had turned her green ray on K’Eleese’s cruiser. Weapons fire abruptly ceased and the large ship turned slowly away from the approaching starships.
“Her space forces have crumbled,” Slezar hissed with satisfaction, “Any moment now, your captain will direct the Transference Ray at this base and each of the Sobek’s here will become exactly like you,”
T’Parief was stunned.
“To what end!” he said finally, “So you can have an army of genetically engineered weapons with which to attack the quadrant?”
“Hardly,” Slezar said with condescension, “That failed for the Founders and the Jem Hadar, why would it work for me? Besides, I am a scientist, not a warlord. I am doing something that no scientist in the Alpha Quadrant has done!”
Whirling around, he slammed his hand down on a large button. With a hiss, fluid began draining from the dozens of cloning tubes lining the corridor outside the control room. Panels opened and female Sobeks took their first steps into the world.
“I have become the father a new race!” Slezar finished.
“What is WRONG with you!” K’Eleese screamed furiously, flailing her fists against Sobek-2, “Attack! Fire! Destroy them!”
Sobek-2 pushed her away with one hard.
“Why?” he asked calmly.
“I’ve targeted K’Eleese’s base,” Stern reported from Tactical.
“Will the beam penetrate?” Stafford asked.
“It should,” Fifebee stated.
All though Ecstasy Base, Sobeks stopped what they were doing as they were overcome with waves of nausea. When they reopened their eyes, they looked around as though seeing their world for the first time. Tools and tasks were abandoned as they started to mill around, wondering what they were supposed to do next.
“I think it is time we left,” Slezar said. He tapped his padd again. Back at the main corridor junction a section of ceiling collapsed into a stairway leading up to the Main Cloning Chamber. Following Slezar’s instructions, the confused female Sobeks made their way up.
Sobek-1 was startled at first when the floor in the Main Chamber buckled, but he was downright shocked at what appeared from below.
Slezar and his son emerged, followed by dozens and dozens of females, their supple bodies still slick from the nutrient bath they’d been immersed in.
“My children,” Slezar announced, his padd amplifying his voice, “Your time of servitude has ended! Today, you take your first steps into the galaxy, not as soldiers or conquerors, but as a new race, preparing to take your place in the galactic community!”
“When I awoke, it was over,” Matthew Noonan said to Kelsey Noonan, “I was transformed into one of them,”
“And Smiley’s plan?” Kelsey asked, “Did it work?”
“It worked all right,” he said, “I was able to obtain the technology he wanted from Starfleet Intelligence. He had this grand scheme of breaking into HQ and raiding the science labs, but I found it was much easier to simply ask,”
“And Starfleet agreed?” Kelsey was shocked.
“After some debate,” Noonan said, “They gave us the technology to feed ourselves in return for assurance that none of us would ever feed on another mortal, for fear of death. And in return for us keeping ourselves secret from the rest of humanity,”
“And did they?” Kelsey asked, “Keep their word?”
“Some did,” Noonan admitted, “Some didn’t. Those that didn’t were hunted down and destroyed. Those that did were left undisturbed,”
“Like you,” Kelsey stated.
“Like me,” Noonan nodded, “I maintained ties to Starfleet Intelligence. I have, in fact, served as a Starfleet officer nearly ten times in the past two hundred years. Up until now I’ve been content to remain within the Sol system. But the time came when I wanted to return to the time I’d known on Columbia, exploring the unknown reaches of space,”
“So some things didn’t change,” Kelsey said solemnly.
“Some things,” Noonan said softly.
Captain’s Log, Stardate 58045.6:
“With the sudden loss of her Sobek army, we’ve managed to take possession of K’Eleese’s base and apprehend the lunatic once and for all. I hope she’s very happy in our brig. And if not, I’m sure a pad of paper and some crayons will make her feel better.”
“The Sobek population of Ecstasy Base has been evacuated onto the Jubilant Death, now renamed T’Parief’s Claw. Evidently, the Sobeks, excuse me, the Parians hold both T’Parief and Slezar in very high regard. Makes sense I guess, since Slezar created their race and T’Pareif was their Adam, so to speak. Slezar has plans to request a world for them to colonize when we return our universe. I sure hope the Federation Council doesn’t completely freak at the total disregard for genetic engineering laws!”
“We’re on our way back to the portal to pick up my first officer and return home,”
“I hope your people will be happy,” Stafford said to T’Parief as they walked down the corridor, Stafford-2 following.
“My people,” T’Parief mused, “Those words are very strange,”
“I bet,” Stafford said, “But hopefully you’ve gotten a bunch of questions answered,”
“Some,” T’Parief admitted, “I know now why I was created. But I’m still not sure who I am, or who I should be,”
“Stick with being yourself,” Stafford-2 piped in from the rear.
“Excuse me?” Stafford snapped, “I’m having a discussion with MY officer! Keep your perfectly competent nose out of my business!”
“Grouch,” Stafford-2 muttered.
“Regardless,” Stafford said, “Your father sure did a masterful job of manipulating things. He played us and K’Eleese like a piano!”
“Um, right,” T’Parief failed to see the connection to music, “Slezar was always a brilliant scientist. It was as a father that he lacked skill,”
At that moment, Ensign Yanick stepped around a corner in the corridor. She and T’Parief looked at each other briefly.
Unable to endure the cold silence any longer, Yanick gave a small smile and suggestively unzipped the few inches of her uniform top.
“Excuse me,” T’Parief nodded at each Stafford, slung a giggling Ensign Yanick over his shoulder and stepped into the turbolift, “Deck 3!”
“It’s so sweet when a couple gets back together,” Stafford sighed.
“Speaking of which,” Stafford-2 said as the two resumed their walk to the transporter room, “I finally figured out why Elaine did what she did,”
“Oh, did you,” Stafford replied carefully as he stepped into the transporter room.
“Yeah,” Stafford-2 said, taking his place on the pad, “It broke her heart to see me, well you, but another version of me, so alone and miserable. So she decided she’d do whatever she could to make you feel loved, even if it was just for a few moments,” he sighed wistfully, “She’s such a beautiful person that way,” straightening up, he nodded at Ensign Pysternzyks, “Energize!”
Stafford started as what his counterpart said sunk in.
“Hey!” he snapped, “I was NOT the pity-f**k!”
But Stafford-2 was already gone.
Captain’s Log, Supplemental:
“We’ve retrieved Commander Noonan and our runabout and returned to our own universe. Lieutenant Fifebee assures me that the quantum torpedoes we’ve used have sealed the portal for good this time. You know, until another power mad, happy-hungry despot like K’Eleese opens up another one,”
“I quit,” Jeffery said flatly, standing in Stafford’s ready room. Sylvia’s hologram was standing next to him.
“Excuse me?” Stafford asked.
“Temporarily,” Sylvia explained, elbowing Jeffery in the side, “We’ve decided to take Admiral Tunney up on his offer,”
“We’ll be on temporary assignment to several different Operation Salvage ships over the next few months,” Jeffery added, “Then back here. If we want to come back,” he added.
“Does Wowryk know?” Stafford asked.
“She will,” Jeffery said.
“Look, Jeffery,” Stafford sighed, “Is this still about me hugging her?”
“Partly,” Jeffery admitted, “Ah mean, Ah know you didn’t mean anything by it, and yer just trying to help and all. But if she’ll loosen up for you but not me,” Stafford winced at the poor choice of words, but Jeffery kept talking, “then maybe what we need is some time apart,”
“And you?” Stafford turned to Sylvia, “I mean, can we even get you out of the computer core?”
“Jeffery’s made several modifications to my core gel-pack, designed to protect me,” Sylvia said, “Incidentally, they will allow my gel-pack to be removed and transferred to another computer system,”
“I guess if Tunney approves it I don’t have much choice, do I?” Stafford said bitterly.
“Oh honey,” Sylvia came around the desk and put an arm around Stafford’s shoulders, “Don’t be like that! I’ll be back before you know it!”
“Why, Sylvia,” Stafford asked, “Is it something we’ve done? Something I’ve done?” his eyes flicked to Jeffery as he spoke.
“Chris,” Sylvia smiled, “Of course not. But, you know, every chick has to leave the nest sooner or later,”
Stafford’s mood was lifted slightly as his first officer strode into the ready room following Jeffery and Sylvia’s return to work.
“I hear I missed quite a bit of excitement,” Noonan smiled,
“You look happy,” Stafford commented.
“Lieutenant Noonan is a fascinating young woman,” Noonan replied, “I found my time with her to be very…therapeutic,”
“Well, don’t get used to it,” Stafford growled, “I doubt we’re going to be seeing any of those people again. Ever!” he added firmly.
“Maybe,” Noonan mused, “maybe not. As with so many other things, it is only a matter of choice,”
Earth, 2170, Track B
“Honey, I’m home!” Ensign Matthew Noonan called as he stepped into his Montreal home.
“Matthew!” Amber exclaimed, “What are you doing here? I thought you were on your-“
“Way to Titan Base?” Noonan grinned, “You know, I was just getting ready to board the shuttle then I realized what I was doing,”
“And what was that?” Amber asked.
Noonan took his fiancé into his arms.
“Making the biggest mistake of my life,” he said.
“You turned down Titan Base?” Amber started, “But, Matt! Your promotion! Your career!”
“There are always other opportunities,” Noonan shrugged, “They’re building another shipyard in Earth orbit. They’re going to need officers to get it running,”
“Matt, this is a big decision,” Amber said, “Are you sure-“
“Honey,” Noonan said, “I’ve made my choice. And it’s you,”
Amber blushed, then kissed him hard on the lips.
“Good choice,” he said.