Author: Daniel McNickle and Carlos Hernandez
Many apologies to Peter David, for without his work Q-Squared, this story would not exist. Well, maybe it would. But it would have no plot. As if it has one now. PS: Peter David is…evil. What? You were expecting, maybe, not evil? Whaddya, stupid? Duuuuuh!
And if you think I’m getting a bit carried away with either the disclaimer and/or title and the evil stuff, you’re wrong. I’ve only just begun!!! Hahahahahahahahahaha!!! Just kidding. Go away.
PROLOGUE TRACK B TWO MONTHS AGO, USS MAYFLY
“Port flow regulators at sixty percent.”
“Engineering reports ready.”
“Captain,” said the helmsman, “We’re ready to test the Quantum Slipstream Drive.”
Captain Ian Woodall smiled. The QSD was the culmination of ten years of work on his part to develop another method of faster than light travel, preferably something a heck of a lot faster than warp drive. QSD and the Mayfly were the result.
Powered by a miniature artificial quantumn singularity in the middle of a warp core that streched six decks above the top of the Mayfly, the QSD was the fastest drive system ever devised by the Federation. Faster than warp drive, faster than the never-executed transwarp project, faster than experimental tachyon drives, it worked by tearing a tiny hole in subspace, at the quantumn level. The hole was just big enough to swallow an atom. The ship then creates a quantumn field of some type or another around itself, which allows the ship to stretch the hole around itself. When the ship has passed into quantum subspace, the hole closes and the ship is dragged along by quantum currents at speeds up to ten thousand times that of normal warp. If it worked, Woodall would gain fame, fortune, and the most detailed sensor scans ever of the uncharted regions beyond the galactic barrier. Hell, he thought, with QSD other galaxies were within their reach.
“Helm, set course, heading one eight zero mark zero.”
“Course laid in.”
“Computer, put me on intraship.” The computer beeped amicably. “This is Captain Woodall to all crew. We are about to test the QSD. Brace yourselves, and may we have all the luck in the f***ing universe. Woodall out. Helm…engage.”
An electron thin, but extrordinarily bright beam of energy leapt from one of the nacelles, slicing a hole in the fabric of spacetime. Then the shields went up and mesmerizing blue-white energy crackled over them as the ship accelerated toward the tear. Suddenly, the ship seemed to elongate to an infinitely thin rod…and they were gone with a soundless explosion of light, into the great unknown of the multiverse.
On the Mayfly, everything was going according to plan. Captain Woodall was ecstatic. When he was happy, he tended to curse a lot. Of course, he always cursed a lot, so the crew had a hard time telling the difference.
“S*********t! Yaaahoooooo!!!! All right, we’re f***ing going tonight!”
He was cut off by the helmsman. “Captain, sorry to interrupt Profanityfest, but the singularity is destabilizing. We’re going to have to come out of slipstream.”
“Oh, f***. Fine, do it. Piece of sh** ship. Make repairs, and in the meanwhile, bring the warp core online.” The Mayfly also had a small warp core and a pair of warp engines, just in case traditional drive methods were required. “And tell the damn astronomers to start observing. We’re not gonna be here long. I’ll be sleeping.” He stormed off the bridge, obviously in a bad mood.
Six hours later, Woodall returned to the bridge, finding the crew making preparations to depart. “Report,” he said.
The engineer looked up from her station. “Well, the core’s stable and we’ve worked out a few kinks in the field geometry. Should give us a smoother ride home.”
“Excellent. Let’s get this f***ing show on the road. Alert the crew to prepare for slipstream. Helm, lay in a course for the Alpha quadrant. Tell the astronomers to quit starin’ out the viewports. Let’s go home.”
“All stations report ready, sir,” said the young ensign at ops.
“Very well. MacLean,” he said to the helmsman and third in command, “Punch it.”
The Mayfly leapt into quantum subspace with an electric blue flash.
But all was not well for the intrepid and profane on the Mayfly.
“Captain, the quantum core is fluctuating again,” said Chief Engineer Avalon. “It’s not enough to take us out of slipstream, but it will slow us down. We should make sure to watch it.”
“Fine, whatever.” Woodall was not overly concerned. Day to day engineering was her problem. He was a designer. “Just get us home.”
“Jeez, you don’t have to be so curt. Friggin bastard, that’s…” he heard her mutter as she walked away.
“Avalon, shut the f*** up and keep my ship together. Now GO AWAY!!! Time to destination, MacLean?”
“About twenty minutes, sir.”
“I’ll be in my ready room.”
“Oy,” he said, walking into his ready room.
“Aye, sir,” said MacLean.
The doors to Woodall’s ready room parted to admit a flying plate which promptly collided with MacLean’s head, knocking him unconscious. The doors closed.
“Captain to the bridge,” said Avalon over the comm. She had filled in for MacLean at ops when he was incapacitated by an expertly thrown plate from Woodall. “We’re about to drop out of slipstream.”
Woodall walked out onto the bridge only to fall as the ship rocked. “What the f*** is going on here???” he demanded as he crawled to the command chair.
“The tunnel is destabilizing. We had a spike from the quantum core and it ran extra power through the QSD matrix, increasing our speed too fast too quickly. It overloaded the nacelles, so we can’t cut a hole to return to normal space. We’re going to have to ram the old hole, and hope that we’ll be able to break it open enough to get through.”
“Oh, sh**,” he murmered. “Do it. But be careful. If we make one mistake, we’re f***ed.”
“No sh**, captain,” said Avalon from ops. “We’re coming up on the exit point…NOW!!! HOLD ON!”
The Mayfly rammed (figuratively) the barrier of the spacetime, already weakened by the cutting beam from the Mayfly earlier in the (figurative) day and it (figuratively)weakened the hole enough to (sort of) break through. But the fabric of spacetime is not something to be trifled with. The Mayfly was tossed about, shuddering almost to the point of disintigration… and it was over.
“We made it.” The simple comment from Avalon at ops was a stunning revelation. What followed, however, was bad. Very bad. “Sir, there’s a rift behind us. Two microns in diameter, subspace rift. For a tear in the fabric of spacetime, though, that’s huge. We have to seal it. And OH SH**!!!! THE QUANTUM CORE IS ABOUT TO BLOW!!!!”
“F***!!!” screamed Woodall. “DUMP IT NOW!”
The tall tower attached to the top of the Mayfly containing the quantum core which powered her mighty engines detached at the base and floated toward the newly formed rift in spacetime. They collided, and the core detonated in a truly massive explosion of pure energy, sending the Mayfly hurtling toward their base of operations at Alpha Pavonis VI.
The threads of the universe had been pushed aside, and returned to normal. But the explosion of the Mayfly’s quantum core tore at the threads, destroying them, and doing a very dangerous thing.
The universes began to collide.
Captain Dean Wilcox walked down the hallway on Deck Seven to Sickbay. He hoped he could elicit some help from the often incompetent and always preoccupied Dr. Woodall. Damn him and his active sex life. Wilcox shook his fist, and realized immediately that it had been a bad idea, and took his injured hand back into the crook of his arm.
He had been on the Holodeck, playing squash with his wife, Claire Webber. They had been talking about Claire’s patients from the past few days. Wilcox had no idea of the wackos that had been stationed on board the Explorer. “You know, Dean hon,” WHAP “I’ve been thinking.” WHAP “I’m really not satisfied with my,” WHAP “Job. I haven’t been getting,” WHAP “Enough satisfaction from what I,” WHAP “Do.”
WHAP “What do you mean?” WHAP “Are you saying…” WHAP
“Yeah. I mean,” WHAP “I want to leave the,” WHAP “Explorer. I want a divorce, Dean.” WHAP
He was stunned. Then it hit him. Literally.
“AAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” he screamed as the ball hit him in the back of the hand. Claire bolted, leaving him to his pain and to try to get to sickbay.
Now he was walking towards sickbay hoping that Claire wasn’t serious.
As he entered the Sickbay, he noticed that Dr. Woodall wasn’t there. “Computer, locate Dr. Woodall.”
“Dr. Woodall is not on board the Explorer.”
“Where is he then? My hand just got hit by a hard ball.”
“He is dead.” The computer paused. “Just kidding.”
“Oh, go download a virus or something.”
“Why don’t you go contract a virus?”
Wilcox kicked the computer, very hard. He broke three of his toes. Just then, Dr. Woodall entered the sickbay.
“You freaking computer,” yelled Wilcox.
“Dr. Woodall programmed me to lie about his whereabouts, Captain Wilcox.”
“Was that a lie or what?”
Dr. Woodall said “Whaddya doin here? Did you hurt yaself on the holodeck again? Oh, poor Captain, he got a wittle booboo!”
“Shut up Ian and fix my damn f***ing hand and my f***ing toes!!! And where the hell were you, anyway?”
At that moment, Woodall’s comm badge beeped. “Woodall here.”
A sultry voice came over the comm. “Hello baby. You were soooooooooo good just now. Wanna do it again?”
Wilcox turned purple. “YOU WERE F***ING THE F***ING NURSE AGAIN!?!?!?! YOU DO THAT EVERY F***ING DAY! WHY DON’T YOU F***ING GET F***ING MARRIED YOU LITTLE F***ER!!! YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO F***ING BE ON F***ING DUTY IN THE F***ING SICKBAY!”
“Um, okay. Fine. I get the f***ing point. Shut up!”
“Just help with my f***ing hand and foot, alright?”
“Alright, alright. Fine.”
The voice came over the badge again. “Why don’t you answer me, baby? You gettin’ shy again?”
The computer interrupted. “Anyone for coffee? I have coffee here.” In less than thirty seconds, Lieutenant Conway came rushing in.
Wilcox yelled “JUST GET TO MY FOOT!”
“Maybe I should leave,” said Conway, and left. “But can I have that coffee,” he said, sticking his head back in.
The computer said “I will deliver it to your quarters. Anyone else want some? It’s hazelnut!”
As Conway walked out, everyone could hear him quietly say “Mmm… Hazelnut…”
“C’mon, Baby! Answer me!”
Woodall said “Not now, J’hana! I am busy with Mr. Wittle Booboo Wilcox over here.”
“Well, will you just get to my hand already! It’s broken!”
“Alright, alright. What a loser.” He examined the hand and scanned it with various instruments. “It’s broken, Wilcox. I’ll have to put a cast on it and maybe amputate.” Wilcox fainted.
Woodall could hear quietly “Hey, this isn’t hazelnut! Stupid computer!” coming from Conway’s room. Then he thought to himself, god, that captain can’t take a joke at all. He set to work mending the bones with his protoplaser.
When Wilcox awoke, he noticed that his hand felt perfectly fine. He also noticed that his foot was in extreme agony. He screamed. Then he screamed some more. Then he continued screaming until security was automatically called by the computer and they came and stunned him.
Dean Wilcox was in ecstasy.
Holly Carter spoke. “You know, Dean, your back is really knotted,” she said as she used her elbow to knead out his back muscles. “You should find something less stressful to do,” although doing nothing all day but follow her around was rather stressless. Oh, well.
Captain Andy Baxter was bored, which was absolutely routine. What wasn’t was that he was sitting next to Captains Lisa Beck and Alex Rydell instead of his usual companions, Kelly Peterman and David Conway. They, meanwhile, were sitting on the small benches at the outermost positions in the command area of the bridge, and not looking happy about it.
“Larkin, status report,” mumbled Baxter.
“We are approximately eight hours away from our destination.”
“Where would that be?”
“I don’t know. Check back in eight hours.”
Rydell looked up from his padd. “Baxter, are you sure you don’t know where we’re going?” Baxter shook his head.
Now Beck looked up. “How could Starfleet send us on an assignment without telling us what we’re supposed to do or where the hell we’re going!? It’s insane!”
“Yeah, but so is Starfleet. Admiral McGrath told me that our orders would be coming in by 1700 hours today,” said Baxter.
“Transmission coming in from Starfleet Command Captain,” said Larkin, as if to punctuate Baxter’s statement.
“In my Ready Room, Lieutennant. Captain, Captain,” he said, indicating for Rydell and Beck to follow him.
The doors whooshed shut and Baxter sat down. “Computer, play transmission from Admiral McGrath, authorization Baxter omega pi epsilon zeta sigma delta seven four alpha pi sigma omega zeta gamma beta omega tequila sombrero corolla dictionary staple one hundred sixty four apple double stuf oreo.”
“God,” said Beck. “These authorization codes get longer every day!”
“Alright, Captain Baxter.”
“Well, play it then.”
“You’re not playing it.”
“Okay, fine. Here it is.
Admiral Frank McGrath appeared on the screen. “Hi Andy, Alex, Lisa. I suppose you’re wondering why you’re here.”
“DUH!!!” they all said in unison.
“We have detected a rip in the spacetime continuum. It may be a stable wormhole leading to another universe. Your mission is to find it and examine it. You are to destroy it if you feel that it poses a threat to the Federation. We speculate that seven tri-cobalt devices detonated in the exact center of the anomaly, one after the other, will close it.
“You will be met there by the USS Mayfly, NET 1079. It is an experimental engine testbed research starship whose sensors will be of extrordinary use to your mission. Its facilites will be at your disposal. The Mayfly is commanded by Captain Ian Woodall. He rose through the ranks as a science officer, specializing in spatial phenomena. I have to warn you, though. He doesn’t exactly have the most becoming personality. You should get along fine.
“I suppose you’re wondering why Captains Rydell and Beck are here. Well, Starfleet felt that the experience of three captains would stand a better chance of figuring out what exactly that thing is. Our other reason was that we felt that you two were not doing anything useful, and I wanted to bother Andy…oops. Computer, delete that last statement. What? No? Aaaarrrgghhhh!!! McGrath out.”
“Well,” said Baxter. “This ought to be interesting.”
“Ought?” said Rydell. “Since when do you say ought, Andy?”
“Excuse me for expanding my vocabulary, Alex.”
“Well, yes, it does OUGHT to be interesting. I wonder what’s on the other side. Maybe there are doubles of us who are all stupid.” said Beck.
Baxter shuddered. “Hey, maybe it leads to the happy universe.”
All three shuddered at the mention of the horrible alternate universe in which everyone was constantly happy and Claire Webber was empress.
“If it does,” said Rydell, “We’re in really deep s***.”
Capain Andy-Wandy Baxter was smiling. He was bored, but he didn’t care, because he was too happy. He looked over his shoulder at Commander Davey-Wavey Conway. “Isn’t it a lovely day, Davey-Wavey?”
Conway pleasently replied “Oh, how sweet of you to ask, Andy-Wandy. I think that it is verrrrry nice outside.”
Kelly-Bell walked onto the bridge. “Guess what,” she said. “We just got a message about some kinda wormhole! Isn’t that great?”
“Oh, boy!” said Davey-Wavey. “How far away?”
“About eight hours! Actually, about seven and a half.”
Baxter was exalted. “Larky, set a happy little course for that fun wormhole!”
“Indeedily-doodily I will, Captain!” bubbled Larky. “What funspeed?”
Baxter thought. “How about funspeed five?”
Larky’s head popped open and a white gloved hand popped out giving a “thumbs-up” gesture. “Okily-dokely, Captain Andy-Wandy. I love you!” she said as she tapped in the commands on her disgustingly cute pastel colored panel.
“Lisa-love, would you like to give the little happy command to engage?”
Lisa-love blushed. “My, Andy-wandy. I’m not sure I can, but I’ll try… Larky, engage!”
“Yessirooney!” said Larky as she tapped the panel. The Federation Funship Explorer leaped into funspace and all the stars suddenly became streaks of light.
“Lisa-love, would you like to join me for the message playback?” asked Andy-wandy.
“Sure, Andy-wandy.” They walked into Baxter’s ready room.
“Computer, play message from Funmaster McGrath. My happy little authorization is Captain Andy-wandy Baxter flower bunny pink cute baby blue kitty cat.”
“Your happy little authorization is gladly accepted, Andy-wandy. Have a happy day!” said the giddy computer.
Funmaster McGrath appeared on Baxter’s screen. “Hello Andy-wandy, Lisa-love. I’ve decided to divert your funship to investigate this happy little anomaly we found. Your mission is to figure out what it’s for, and if it may be potentially unhappy. If it is unhappy, you know what to do. We believe that seven big-unhappy devices detonated one after the other inside the happy little thing will blow it to unhappyness.
“When you get there the research funship Mayfly will be there. They will assist you in your information gathering efforts. Their happy little sensors will be more than enough to supplant yours and gather all the information you can. Good luck! Funmaster out.”
Andy-Wandy returned to the bridge, Lisa-love close behind.
Kelly-bell walked down the ramp to her chair. “Andy-wandy, honey sugarpie, do you wanna go down to the Holo-fun-deck and have some fun? I’ve got a new program…”
“Is it better than the rice pudding?” Andy-wandy asked, hopefully.
“Oh, much better! It’s tapioca!” squeaked Kelly-bell.
Baxter clapped his hands. “Yay! Lisa-love, you can have the bridge. Don’t do anything unhappy!”
Lisa-love moved over to the captain’s chair and stroked it lovingly. She could get used to this, she thought happily.
“…Mayfly’s captain is Dr. Brian Gellar. He’s actually a pretty nice guy, and I think that your two crews will be able to work together pretty well. That’s it. Good luck, Dean. McGrath out.”
Wilcox walked out onto the bridge of the Explorer, and immediately noticed that his science officer Lt. Commander Kristen Larkin was fighting with his chief engineer, Lt. Megan Hartley. Again. Those two just never did get along.
“You can’t shut down the warp engines! What if something happens while we’re studying the anomaly? We could be pulled in!” said Larkin vehemently.
“Well, I’ve got to get this damn trilithium resin out of the core, and I can’t think of a better time to do it than on a boring science mission,” retorted Hartley. “If we start to fall in, my impulse engines will work just as well. Besides, you wouldn’t be able to go to warp that close to a subspace rip. We’d fall in instantly if we tried.”
“Oh, yeah,” sneered Larkin. “How do you know? Have you ever done it?”
Hartley nodded. “Yeah, Kris. I was on board the USS Anthrax when an experimental subspace weapon detonated early. A huge subspace rift formed eighty klicks off the starboard beam. We tried to go to warp to get away, and the entire engineering hull was torn off and sucked into the rift. It was closed by the detonation of the warp core inside of it. My best friend died there.”
Larkin was stunned. “Geez, Megan. I’m so sorry. But what about vital systems? We need the warp core to run most of them. Especially the sensors.”
“Sorry Kris. No can do.”
“Fine,” she grumbled, stomping off the bridge.
Wilcox walked to his chair and sat down. “Report, ensign,” he said to the ensign on duty at the helm. What was her name? Some kind of soda, Coke…Pepsi…Fresca, that was it.
Fresca tapped away at her panel. “We’re six hours away from the coordinates you gave from your ready room. Preliminary long-range sensor scans show that it is definitely a subspace tear, about fifteen hundred thousand kilometers in length. I’m reading strange emissions, exotic particles. I’ve got photinos–”
“Wait,” he interrupted. “What are photinos? I’ve never heard of them.”
Nods of agreement from the bridge crew.
“I’m not sure,” she responded.
“Wilcox to Larkin,” he said.
“What in hell is a photino?”
“Photino,” she asked. “What the hell is a photino?”
Wilcox shook his head. “Never mind. Computer, put me on intraship.”
The computer beeped acknowledgement.
“This is Captain Wilcox to all crew. Does anyone know what a photino is? If so, please call the bridge. My command crew seems to be a bit behind on their particle physics. Wilcox out.”
In the next hour the bridge recieved what seemed an answer from every person on the Explorer.
“Hey, isn’t that a particle of light?”
“Isn’t it a type of radiation?”
“A type of computer?”
“A sandwich at Chris’s?”
That last idea reminded Wilcox that he was hungry, and the Photino was indeed a sandwich at Chris Richards’s restaurant.
“I’m going on lunch break. Commander Lana, you have the bridge,” he said to the oversized slug sitting next to him.
“Fine, whatever,” said Shar, sliding over to the command chair. “Lieutennant Crusher,” it said to the young lieutenant at the helm, “Do you think that you could drive us into the anomaly? Please? Hm?”
“Sorry Commander. I’m under orders from Admiral Ford to not give in to any of your suicidal requests. Believe me, I would, but they’d bust me down to inventory if I tried. Sorry.”
Lana grumbled something about superiority complexes and damn admirals as it went to get a cup of tea from the replicator.
The doors to Chris’s parted and Wilcox entered. He saw the restaurant’s owner and bartender Chris Richards at the bar and went over. “Hey Chris. How’s business?”
“Okay, I guess. But you’d better keep an eye on Shar. He was in here yesterday threatening to order something deadly to his biochemistry. I was forced to keep him from ordering anything at all. And you know how hard that is for me. Speaking of which,” he said, polishing a glass, “Do you want anything?”
“I’ll have a Flaming Chris, extra scotch. And a Deluxe Photino burger, well done, no pickles or onions.” The Flaming Chris came, and Wilcox quickly blew it out.
The Flaming Chris was a drink created back on the Aerostar by Ensign Prescott before her untimely death at the claws of an angry Flan, one of the custardlike species that the Aerostar had fought all through their year there. In her will she gave the recipie and asked it be named the Flaming Chris in honor of her boyfriend. Chris, being unusually selfish, accepted it instead of changing the name to the Flaming Prescott. His decision angered the crew, and prompted a hail of Flaming Chris’s–on fire. He was in intensive care for three weeks after that, but the Flaming Chris became the most popular drink at Chris’s.
Wilcox was wondering about why the hell Chris was so self centered when his Photino came. He stopped doing that when he was knocked unconscious by a flying Flaming Chris.
Andy-wandy was tired. Very much so. But he couldn’t sleep. Kelly-bell was still up counseling in her office, and wouldn’t be back for another three hours. He went on duty then. Davey-wavey had made a mistake with the shifts and gave Kelly-bell and Andy-wandy different shifts, so now they couldn’t sleep together like a good husband and wife should, nor could they have fun together, like they wanted to. Andy-wandy decided to go the bridge and do something.
He got out of bed and changed into his uniform. He couldn’t decide between going to Doctor Brownie for a stimulant, or trying one of Davey-wavey’s coffee recipies. He decided to go for the coffee.
He immediately decided that he had chosen the wrong choice. The coffee was absolutely horrible. Davey-wavey may have been many things, but a connisseur of coffee he was not. Baxter ordered a stimulant, and left for the bridge.
On the bridge, Lisa-love was lovingly stroking the command chair, as if her command chair on Playstation wasn’t enough. Oh, sure, it was more of a stool, but still…
“Hi everybody,” he said quietly. He was still waiting for the stimulant to kick in.
“Hi Captain Baxter!” said the bridge crew in their sickeningly happy way. The stimulant kicked in. Andy-wandy ran.
When Davey-wavey finally caught Andy-wandy he was doing about seven warp factors more than the ship, and having a blast. “Davey-wavey to Dr. Brownie. I’ve got Captain Andy-wandy here and I think he’s drunk. Can you help me?”
Brownie’s sickeningly sweet voice came over the comm. “Why sure, hon. Bring him right down. And bring your appetite! I’ve got some great donuts down here!” She lowered her voice. “And I’ve got coffee!” she whispered. Davey-wavey, hearing this, grabbed Andy-wandy by the uniform pants and dragged him as fast as possible to the nearest turbolift. Andy-wandy moaned.
In engineering, Chrissy Richards was happy. Of course, he wouldn’t be anything else…
Anyway, he was busy making preparations to realign the warp core when he saw Susie Madera and Zackie Ford walking toward him hand in hand. “What’s up guys?” he asked.
“Hi Chrissy!” burbled Susie. “We need a favor…”
“What can I do you for,” asked Chrissy.
“Well,” said Zackie, “We want to go to Risa and–”
“Can we have a shuttle outfitted with a bed?” interrupted Susie.
Chrissy turned around. “A bed? I don’t know. What size?”
The pair looked at each other. “Queen size,” they said in unison.
“Hmmmm. A queen size bed probably won’t fit in anything less than a class six shuttle. I think there’s a 6B in the shuttlebay that’s just undergoing some maintenance. You two are going on leave, I take it?”
“Yeah,” responded Susie. “And we’re soooooo happy, aren’t we Zackie?”
He kissed her. “Oh, you bet, Susie honey. We’re gonna have so much fun its…um…”
“Scary?” interjected Chrissy. “Fun? Stupid? Happy?”
“Something like that. Which shuttle, and when will it be ready?”
Chrissy checked his panel. “The shuttle Ecstasy is the one you want. Unless you want to take our new runabout…”
“We have a new runabout?” ————————— Author’s warning:
The following section contains a detailed technical description of a new runabout class I have come up with. It is not for the faint hearted. If you do not enjoy long and involved technical descriptions, skim until the next scene. By the way, all the information given is plausible. The facts come straight from the DS9 technical manual. If you have a problem with them, I care not. —————————
“We picked it up at the last starbase. It’s one of the new ones, Colorado-class instead of the old Danube-class. Called the Aspire. It’s more of an evolution of the class than a new class, though. Same spaceframe, but now it’s warp 7 capable, has front and rear dual compression phaser cannons, and a full loadout of microtorpedoes with various warheads. I’m actually working right now on the cabin setup.”
“How so?” asked Susie.
“Well, the runabout is completely modular. It’s got a front cockpit, which is detachable. There’s a middle section, which can be used for labs or mission-oriented spaces. Then there’s the rear section which has sleeping arrangements, bathrooms, and sometimes a conference table. The Colorado class runabouts have an updated cockpit though, more like a mini-bridge. There’s a command chair in the middle, and tactical is at the station right behind the command chair instead of being delegated to the person sitting in the left front seat. You could outfit it with an entire bridge crew if necessary. In the middle, I’ve got four sections to work with. Since the microtorpedoes are only 13.3 centimeters long, I used one of the sections to store two deployable launchers. They’re really small, so the rest of the section is a torpedo magazine. This runabout carries 200 microtorpedoes, with 100 photon torpedo warheads, 50 quantums, 25 chemical warheads, 20 sensor pallets, and 5 miniature tri-cobalt devices. This ship packs a punch.”
At that moment, Zackie’s comm badge beeped. He gave silent thanks to whatever gods existed, and answered it. “Zackie Ford here.”
Tilly spoke. “Zackie, don’t you and Susie have an appointment with Counselor Peterman now?”
“Um, yeah. I think we do,” said Zackie, nudging Susie in the chest with his elbow.
“Yeah. Sorry Chrissy. We’ve got to go.”
As they left, Zackie got on the comm and pledged his eternal soul to Tilly, at least after Susie was done with it. But Susie sneaked a look back at Chrissy. He was still talking.
“We have arrived at the anomaly, Commander.”
Conway awoke with a start. He had been dozing in the command chair, unusually quietly.
J’hana piped up from tactical. “Commander, you have been unusually quiet this morning. Is there a problem?”
Conway smiled warmly. “J’hana, I didn’t know you cared.”
Conway was puzzled. “Then why did you just ask me about my attitude this morning?”
Now J’hana smiled. “Because I cannot insult you if you are sleeping.”
“Why you little–”
“I am sorry,” Larkin interjected, “to interrupt your fun, but the first detailed scans are coming through, as is an image of the Mayfly.”
Larkin tapped at her panel, and the ugliest Federation Starship Conway had ever seen popped up onscreen.
“What in hell is that monstrosity?” asked Tilleran from the science station.
“Larkin?” prodded Conway.
“USS Mayfly, registry NET 1079. It is a Discovery-class engine testbed starship. It was testing an experimental magnetic drive system until one month ago, when she was refitted with conventional engines and a HSA, or Hyper-comprehensive Sensor Array. Her current mission is exploration and study of subspace anomalies. She was assigned to this anomaly two days ago, and arrived seven hours ago. We are being hailed.”
“Answer them, J’hana.”
A tall thin man with piercing blue eyes and a shock of blond hair appeared. “I’m Captain Ian Woodall of the Federation Science Vessel Mayfly. I take it you are Captain Baxter of the Explorer?”
Conway fainted. Larkin stood up and assumed the command chair. “I apologize,” she said, “for my commanding officer. That was Commander Conway. I am Lieutennant Commander Larkin of the Starship Explorer. Captain Baxter should be here momentarily. In the meantime, let us, as you say, get down to business. Have your scans revealed anything yet?”
“Hail me when your captain is on the bridge.” With that, he disappeared.
“Pleasant guy,” remarked Madera from her post at the helm.
Captains Baxter, Beck and Rydell were at that time having a blast. Well, as much of a blast as can be expected from three Starfleet captains on the holodeck. Actually, only Rydell and Beck were having fun. Baxter was wondering if he would survive to return to the bridge.
“YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” yelled Beck as the trio raced down the rapids on a big yellow raft.
“Great day, huh?” asked Rydell, paddling furiously in an attempt to keep the raft on course.
Baxter was changing colors rapidly. Presently he was a nice shade of chartreuse. “Um, BLLLUUUUAAACHHHH, not really,” he said, watching wistfully as his breakfast of eggs and bacon traveled downriver from the raft. “For Pete’s sake, why did you have to drag me on this trip? When I visited your station, or your ship,” he said, nodding to Beck and Rydell in turn, “I didn’t take you on a thoroughly sickening trip down a river in a little inflatable raft!”
“Nope,” said Beck. “You took me to a happy universe where some insane people put me in a gyroscope for hours, made me sicker than you’ll ever be in this raft, and then made me sickeningly happy for days on end!”
“Yeah,” said Rydell. “On my ship you…um…didn’t do anything. But you were annoying.”
“Oh, yeah. Thanks a lot. Make sure to remember to give my eternal soul to you two in repentance.”
“Captains to the bridge,” said Larkin over the intercom.
Baxter managed to bring his knee up to tap his commbadge, not willing to let go of the raft. “We’ll be right up–BLEEACHHH.”
Rydell and Beck were laughing to hard to stop the program. “Comput-tee hee hee ha hahahahahahhahahahahahaha!!!!” said Beck. Rydell was not much better.
“Computer,” Baxter said through clenched teeth, “End program.” The raft, water and rocks all disappeared. Baxter, Rydell, Beck and a largish puddle of vomit did not. “Cleanup crew to Holodeck three,” said Baxter.
“All right,” said Baxter striding out onto the bridge of the Explorer, Rydell and Beck in tow. “Status report.”
Larkin vacated the command chair and sat at her post. “The Mayfly is holding position four hundred thousand kilometers off our starboard beam.”
The ugliest ship any of the three captains had ever seen appeared on the main viewscreen. It was a long rectangular prism, six decks tall, which led to two wings that came out of the bottom of the ship and curved down to two nacelles. Protruding from the back of the ship were two long, flat rods. Most of the ship was pure white, except for the very bottom and an odd device attached to the front of the ship.
“For Pete’s sake, that’s the ugliest ship I’ve ever seen!” exclaimed Baxter, standing up from his chair. “Larkin, what is it?”
“USS Mayfly, Discovery class engine testbed starship. Measuring sixty meters by ninety meters by three hundred meters. Currently testing magnetic repulsion drive, new subspace sensor pallets and a classified weapons system.”
“That does not sound good, Larkin. Classified weapons systems are always bad news. They either explode, implode, accidentally,” Baxter said the word while making little air quotes with his fingers, “blow up starships, or some other horrible thing. Hail them, for Pete’s sake already.”
Larkin would have sighed had she had emotions. Hell, she would have sighed if she breathed. As it was, she felt a sense of extreme frustration. She opened a channel. “Channel open, sir.”
Baxter stood up, straightening his uniform jacket. “This is the Federation Starship Explorer…uh…” He stopped. For some reason, he had forgotten what the hell to do next.
Beck stood, straightening her jacket. “This is Captain Lisa Beck of Waystation. Mayfly, please respond.”
Baxter leaned over to her, whispering “Lisa, come on. That was kind of uncalled for.”
“Oh yeah? What were you gonna do? Sit there until something miraculously popped into your brain? Yeah. Right.”
Captain Ian Woodall appeared on the viewscreen, cutting off Baxter’s smartass reply. He made a mental note to save it for another time where it could be used in a better way. A much better way.
“Captain Baxter, so glad you could finally make it. I see you’ve seen the patient?” asked Woodall.
“If you are referring to the anomaly outside the ships, yeah. Any idea what the hell it is?”
“It’s a rip in the fabric of spactetime connecting the multiverse.”
“It’s a dimensional gateway.”
“And it would be bad because…”
“We may get…runoff from other universes.”
“And that means…”
“GOD DAMN IT YOU F***ING SIMPLEMINDED SH**HEAD!!! IT’S A F***ING GATEWAY TO ALTERNATE UNIVERSES AND WE COULD HAVE PEOPLE FROM ALTERNATE UNIVERSES COMING HERE!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND NOW?!?!”
“Sure,” said Baxter. “All you had to do was explain it to me in layman’s terms. So…”
Woodall, obviously still furious, refused to take the bait.
The two men stared at each other.
Beck sat down.
Rydell hummed a Prince tune.
Conway sipped his coffee.
Peterman thought about furry, fuzzy bunnies.
J’hana thought about having violent sex with Woodall.
Madera thought of various crewman who she wanted to date.
Larkin thought of too many boring things to list in this story.
And Tilleran thought of what everyone else was thinking of. Poor girl.
The staring continued.
“Pies???” asked the cast in unison.
“What?” said the writer. “Don’t ask me. I just work here.”
The staring continued.
“Stop it!!!” shouted the cast.
“Oh, go f*** off.”
Violent sex with bunnies in coffee while Prince played in the background and boring things were discussed such as dating.
Tilleran ran off the bridge screaming and holding her head, probably destined for either sickbay or the nearest airlock.
“Well,” said Conway. “Who’s up for coffee?”
Needless to say, he went alone to the replicator.
The staring continued.
“AAAARGGGGGHHHH!!!!” cried Woodall. “Enough. We’ve been studying the anomaly for the past few days, and we’ve come to a conclusion. It must be destroyed. Unfortunately, the only way we have to do that, i.e. detonate seven tri-cobalt devices in the center of the anomaly, will make it bigger. In short, ladies and gentlemen, we’re royally f***ed. Woodall out.”
“Oh, hell,” said Beck.
“…so, anyway, we’re all…um…dead,” finished Captain Brian Gellar of the starship Mayfly.
“Oh, f***,” said Captain Wilcox and Dr. Woodall in unison. The rest of the bridge crew agreed.
Janice Browning, recently transferred from engineering to the helm, tended to agree. But due to the fact that she had decided early on not ever to curse, she decided to stay silent, because, she reasoned, saying something like ‘Gee golly gosh darn,’ or something else along those lines would not make a very good impression.
Of course, Commander Shar Lana was ecstatic. “Yay! Woohoo! We’re all gonna die!!! Yahoo!!!” he said, dancing around the bridge, leaving a trail of slime wherever he went.
“Cleanup on the bridge,” said Wilcox. “Oh, sh** sh** sh** sh** sh** sh** SH**!!!! What the hell are we gonna do now?!? Sh**!”
Counselor Webber, just walking out on to the bridge, was appalled at her soon to be ex-husband’s behavior. “Dean! What are you doing running around like that saying ‘Sh** sh**’ all over the place?”
“Hi honey,” he said sheepishly.
“Nope. Not for long. We’re getting a divorce, remember?”
“But you never gave me a valid reason!”
“So tell me why!”
“Why you’re divorcing me!”
“Oh. I’m sick of you.”
“We’ve had our fun, it was good while it lasted, but you know, all good things must come to an end and so on and so forth, so I’m ending this good thing.”
“Oh.” Tears came to his eyes. “You don’t love me anymore, sugar pie?”
“Nope. And that’s Counselor to you.”
He sobbed, and turned to Commander Lana. “Oh, Shar, I feel your pain. Browning, what’s the nearest star?”
“Sir, I’m not allowed to pilot this ship into any stars or other astronomical phenomena that would be potentially damaging to the Explorer or any members of her crew. Starfleet orders, specifically to the helmsman of the Explorer, whoever that may be.”
“Ensign, I’m extremely pissed that you won’t pilot this ship into the star. But I’m also impressed. I don’t give you the credit you deserve. I didn’t think you could memorize that much.”
“No offense,” he added quickly.
He turned back to Webber. “So you’re really leaving me?”
“Is there another man?”
She nodded again.
“Is he on this ship?”
“Is he on the bridge?”
“Is it Woodall?”
“YOU BASTARD!!!!!!” he screamed as he tackled Woodall, sending him flying into the turbolift. Wilcox followed Woodall as the doors closed. “DECK 42!!” he yelled as he pummeled Woodall into the floor with every bit of energy he had. The beating continued, all the while Wilcox screaming epithets at Woodall that would have made a Klingon cringe.
The turbolift reached deck 42, Antimatter Pod Storage, and the two rolled out onto the floor. Now in an open space, Woodall took an opportunity to run like hell from a seriously peeved Wilcox. He darted behind one of the huge antimatter storage containers to catch his breath. Wilcox was pretty mad, but Woodall didn’t expect him to be this mad. It wasn’t as if he was torturing his wife or something. Just an extramarital affair. Nothing big. But Wilcox was furious. And Woodall was bruised, bleeding and battered. He needed to get away. He tapped his commbadge. “Woodall to Transporter Room One,” he whispered.
“Go ahead,” said Lieutennant Conway, the Explorer’s transporter chief, in what seemed like the loudest voice possible. Woodall cursed him. To make it worse, this happened at the exact moment Wilcox passed in front of Woodall. Woodall cringed as he saw the captain make a flying leap towards him.
“Beam me out! Now! I’m about to be killed by the captain!! Help me!!!” he wailed as Wilcox connected.
“Beam you out?” asked Conway, puzzled. “Out of where? The ship? The rift? Why would you be in the rift? I’m confused.”
“Just energize,” Wilcox managed to say in between punches and a vicious kick to the head.
In the Transporter room, Conway just nodded. “Here goes nothing,” he said as he hit some random controls. A large petunia appeared on the pad. “Hmph. That’s not right.” He tried again. The petunia disappeared, to be replaced by a very disoriented-looking Crewman Dean Wilcox.
“Commanduh Dave?” he asked, incredulous.
“Captain Wilcox?” asked an equally incredulous Lt. Conway.
“What the hell?” they asked together.
“Will Counselor Kelly-bell and Captain Lisa-Love please join me in my office? Oh, and bring your…equipment. You’ll need it,” said Andy-wandy over the comm, at the same time staring at a terrified Zackie Ford and an equally terrified Susie Madera. “You two were very bad. Tsk, tsk,” he said, shaking his finger at them. “You know very well that putting a bed in a shuttle is against regulations. But as if that weren’t enough, you were going to steal the shuttle! With the bed! And to top it all off, it wasn’t just any shuttle. It was the Aspire, our new escort runabout. And, you got Chrissy to help! Shame on you! That was very unhappy. You are going to be disciplined. Severely. And, look. Here are your corrections officers now,” he said, indicating the doors that had just opened to admit Kelly bell, decked out in full black leather with a large knife strapped to one leg, a whip to the other, and two pairs of vicious looking brass knuckles on her hands. Lisa-love had on her pink vinyl catsuit, although she usually disdained weapons, preferring to use her nails, she carried a whip as well.
“Well, honey,” said Kelly-bell. “Looks as if you need some disciplining done, huh?” she said sweetly. “Cuz Zackie and Susie were unhappy little subjects, weren’t you you two cute little playthings, yes you were!” she said, every word dripping with sarcasm and, oddly enough, playfulness.
“Ladies, these two were very unhappy. They tried to steal the Aspire!”
Gasps from Lisa-love and Kelly-bell.
“And! They tried to put a bed in it!”
“Oh, my goodness!” exclaimed Lisa-love. “Something just has to be done about that. “Doesn’t it?” she asked, walking over to Zackie. She raked her nails across his face, leaving four trails of blood.
“Please, Mistress,” he whimpered. “Don’t hurt us.”
“Sorry Zackie. You were bad. And bad little boys get spanked, don’t they.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement. She swung a roundhouse at his head, knocking him face-first to the floor, and literally whipped his ass.
Meanwhile, Kelly-bell grabbed Susie’s hair and flung her to the floor. “You were coveting my Andy-wandy, weren’t you. WEREN’T YOU!!! YOU SLUT!!! How dare you covet my husband!” She drew her knife and raked it across Madera’s arm, slicing open the bright pink uniform and drawing dark red blood. She stopped a moment, to consider her decision. She decided against the knife, and went in straight, beating Madera senseless.
Andy-wandy wondered if he should sell tickets.
On the bridge, Davey-wavey was bored again. The stupid anomaly had just sat there. After the conversation with Woody, he had discovered that they were all going to die. In an odd, perverse way he was happy. That was normal. What wasn’t normal was that B’nana wasn’t the same. She was screaming that it was all wrong, that she was in the wrong universe, that she was going to kill everybody. Davey-wavey just erected a forcefield around her station and ignored her. He didn’t even notice that her commbadge was now the Starfleet chevron instead of the Funfleet smiley face. Nor did he notice her black and gray uniform, with a mustard yoke. He just noticed that she was even more aggressive than usual, and less happy. He would have to report her to Kelly-bell.
“Computer, who is the happy person manning the helm today?”
“Why, thanks for asking, Davey-wavey. Since both Susie and Zackie are busy, Larky has offered to take over helm as well as ops. I agreed to her peachy suggestion, and it’s been that way since. Have a happy day!”
“Larky, what is our status?” he asked.
“Well, were holding a happy distance of fifty thousand funkilometers from the rift, but it’s growing. Should I use our happy impuse drive to move us to a happier distance?”
“Indeedily doodily you should.”
“Then it’s done! Have a nice day. And by the way, you should have Dr. Brownie check on B’nana. I believe she is acting a bit unhappy today.”
“And yourself as well, Davey-wavey. You don’t sound very happy.”
Suddenly, Commander David Conway appeared in the seat next to Davey-wavey. They looked at each other. “What the hell?” they said in unison.
“What the hell?” asked Captain Baxter as Commander Conway disappeared from the bridge. “Larkin, what just happened?”
“Commander Conway disappeared.”
“Yes, I know. WHERE IS HE?”
“I do not know. I am scanning everywhere I can on all bands, and am picking up nothing. However, I have a theory. I believe that Commander Conway has fallen through the fabric of spacetime to another universe.”
“STAFF MEETING!” shouted Baxter, running to the conference room. The bridge crew, sans Conway, followed, as did Beck and Rydell.
As the crew convened, Baxter hit his commbadge. “Baxter to Mirk, I need three Tom Cochranes here on the double. Any other drink orders?” he asked the staff.
“I’ll have a rum Icee,” said Rydell.
“A tequila sunrise,” said Beck.
“I’ll have a glass of orange juice,” said Peterman. She reconsidered, seeing as she was facing the end of the world. “Make that a white wine spritzer.”
“Scotch, on the rocks,” said Ford.
“V’haspant,” said Tilleran. The crew looked at her in surprise, especially Beck. “What? It’s something I picked up from Captain Beck. You discover a lot of things rooting around in someone’s brain, you know.”
“Hey!” said Beck.
“Not now, ladies,” chimed in Baxter. “Got that, Mirk?”
“Three Tom Cochranes, a tequila sunrise, a rum icee, scotch on the rocks, white wine spritzer and one v’haspant. Got it. Be right up.”
“Andy,” said Rydell, “Do you always order drinks before a staff meeting?”
“Nope. Only when we’re facing the imminent demise of the universe as we know it.”
Much to Rydell’s liking, as well as the rest of the crew, the meeting didn’t begin until the drinks arrived. “Maybe there’s hope for you after all,” said Rydell to Baxter. “Just don’t try to challenge my record.”
“And which is that? Most Icees consumed in one lifetime? Most times threatened to destroy the universe?”
“No,” injected Beck. “Laxest captain in the fleet. What is it now, five years running?”
“Six,” said Rydell with pride. Baxter shook his head and took a sip of his drink. Actually, it was more of a chug. He drained the glass and wondered why he only ordered three.
“All right, settle down. Now, the universe is about to end. Any ideas why?”
“There’s a tear in the hole of the space time continuum,” stated Larkin.
“In english, please. Come on, Larkin. You’ve known me for almost three years. You know that I don’t understand technobabble. Just spit it out.”
Tilleran looked at Baxter in disgust. How he couldn’t understand, she couldn’t understand. She butted in.
“Okay, look. Imagine a big rubber sheet. And leave Kelly out of this.” Giggles from around the table. “Anyway, this sheet is spacetime. Populate spacetime with a lot of different balls-“ More giggles. “SHUT UP!!! Anyway, these balls represent the celestial bodies-“ Yet again, giggles. “WILL YOU SICK BASTARDS SHUT YOUR MOUTHS AND LISTEN TO ME!!!!!!!!! ANYWAY, as I was saying, the balls represent things floating around in space. Each one creates its own dent on the sheet, directly proportional to its mass. This is gravity. Now, the crew of the Mayfly, as I understand it, were doing an experiment with an experimental quantum slipstream drive. The QSD functions by cutting a slit in the rubber sheet, infinitely small, which is widened by the shields of the ship. It closes behind the ship, leaving the ship in the interdimensional world where the laws of physics do not apply and thus the ship can travel extrordinary distances in short periods. On her maiden flight, the Mayfly’s drive worked perfectly, until the quantum singularity core that powered the drive destabilized. They were unable to open a hole into our universe, so they rammed the remnant of the hole they used to enter quantum subspace. They managed to reopen it, but in the process lost containment. They dumped the core, and aggravated the hole. The explosion of the core literally tore some of the threads of reality, and now they’re unraveling. Commander Conway fell through a hole in reality, into another universe.”
“Damn,” said Baxter, chugging his second Tom Cochrane. “I almost feel sorry for him. But you know, we’ve got to get him back. Starfleet would say so. Now that’s what I’m talking about!”
“What is what you are talking about, sir?” asked Larkin, puzzled.
“You know. That!”
“No I do not. Anyway, I am currently running different scenarios through my mind, and I have no idea how to get Commander Conway back. But I have decided that we are all going to die.”
“Oh, damn,” said Chris Richards. “And I just rebuilt your body too.”
“So, you’re sure we can’t save the universe, right?” said Baxter, getting drunker by the minute.
“Yes, captain. The Mayfly may have better luck, though, since they are the ones who started its destruction in the first place.”
“We’re so f***ed,” stated Captain Ian Woodall. “We’ve sealed the fate of the universe, we’re gonna die, and to top it all off, the lounge is closed for rennovations! F*** this life, f*** this ship, and F*** ME!!!” And with that, he put a phaser to his head and blew his head off.
Doctor Ian Woodall suddenly materialized, alive and well in the middle of the bridge. He looked at the crew. They looked back.
“What the f***?” they said in unison.
“Captain,” said Lt. Tilleran. “I just felt someone die. Then I felt their mind again, after they were dead.”
“So? People die all the time.”
“But how often can I feel them after they’re dead?”
“I don’t know. You’re the telepath.”
She groaned. “You don’t know how many times I’ve heard that. It’s SO ANNOYING!!!”
“Yeah, but how can you sense him after he’s dead? And who died?”
“I don’t know, and Captain Woodall.”
“Oh, dear. That can’t be good. But you said he’s still alive.”
Baxter’s commbadge beeped. He tapped it. “Sefelt to Baxter. There’s an incoming transmission from the Mayfly for you.”
“Send it in here, Ensign.”
Lieutennant Commander MacLean appeared on the screen, flanked by…Woodall. But he looked different. Very much so.
“Commander MacSpleen, how is your turtle jumping today?” asked a rather drunk Baxter.
“Excuse me?” said MacLean.
“You heard me.” He got up and wobbled around the conference table. “Does Franklin have any mind parasites? Is he healthy? Do you rub cats on his ass when his flatulence is coming from Uranus?”
“Andy!” Peterman got up and dragged Baxter off. “Larkin,” she tossed over her shoulder as she exited, “Please finish this up. I have to get my husband to detox.”
Larkin stood and walked over to the head of the table. She sat. She addressed the crew. “Now that the two main command officers are incapacitated, I am taking over. And we’re going to have a happy day! Aren’t we, Tilly?”
Tilleran looked up at Larkin. “Tilly? Huh?”
Beck slowly turned to face Larkin. “Tilly. Where have I heard that before. Like Tilleran, except…OH SH**!!! Beck to security! Intruder alert! Happys in the conference room!!!”
The entire crew looked at Beck, than Larky. The intercom came to life. “Nurse Carter to Dr. Browning. I can’t find Dean anywhere. Have you seen him?”
Browning looked at the ceiling, trying to remember the last time she had seen Dean Wilcox. “Nope. Holly, I can’t say I’ve seen him.”
Realization dawned on Rydell. “They’re shifting universes. The holes are getting bigger. This sucks. I need another Icee.”
“Hello? Is anyone there?”
Everyone suddenly remembered the channel they had open to the Mayfly. “What were you calling about?” asked Rydell.
“Well, Captain Woodall just committed suicide. But then this guy appeared. He says he’s from the Explorer, he’s their CMO, and that his captain is Dean Wilcox. You know him?”
In the conference room, Dean Wilcox faced Dean Wilcox. The captain of a starship looked into the eyes of a braindead crewman and wet his pants. When he finished, he tapped his commbadge.
“Wilcox to Larkin. What in hell is going on?”
In science lab four, Kris Larkin responded. “Captain, as far as I can tell, Lt. Conway beamed our guest here through a hole in the fabric of spacetime, similar to the one out there, except much smaller and not visible. It closed up right after our guest came through. And Dr. Woodall is missing. Again. But the thing is, neither his quarters nor nurse J’hana’s quarters are occupied. And J’hana’s in sickbay. Alone. I have no idea where he is.”
“Could he have been sucked through another one of those little holes?” asked Wilcox as he walked over to the replicator and ordered some towels to dry himself off.
In the lab, Larkin scanned the ship once more, using a different frequency this time. Her results were shocking. “Captain, I’ve just scanned the ship at the quantum level, which is fancy for subatomic. There are holes everywhere, and from what I can see, the holes continue for a light year in all directions. This entire sector is falling apart!”
“Oh, sh**. That’s bad, right?”
“Yes sir. Very much so. But it gets worse. The holes are expanding. Soon we’ll be traveling to other universes at will. And chaos will likely ensue.”
“That’s too freaking bad. Let me guess, when chaos comes, we die, right?” he quipped. “That’s the way it goes with these type of things.”
“We probably will not be killed by the spacetime anomalies, sir.”
“Oh? What then?”
“We will probably be killed by ourselves from other universes.”
“You mean like my doppelganger here?”
She mulled that over for a second. “No, captain, I think that we are much more dangerous than that. Happy suicide. Larkin out.”
Wilcox promptly wet his pants again.
On the bridge, nothing was happening. Since Captain Wilcox had tackled Dr. Woodall into the turbolift, then returned and entered the conference room, nothing had happened. That was, however, a good thing.
Larkin emerged from the turbolift and walked to her science station. She sat down wordlessly. Then she crawled under the control panel and curled into a ball. Choked sobs could be heard through the bridge. Counselor Webber walked over to her.
“Kris, what’s wrong?”
Larkin looked up through her tears and smiled. “We’re all going to die,” she said with eerie calm.
Webber winced. “That’s really bad. Gimme a hug.” She reached out and grabbed Larkin and squeezed. “That’s better. Now chin up, we need you at your station.”
Commander Shar Lana was, perversely, feeling great. He was trying to organize a party to celebrate the end of the universe, but the idea was not being met with total warmth from the crew. In fact, they hated it. He didn’t understand.
“So you’ll be there at 0900, then,” he was saying to Browning at the helm.
“No thank you. I’m going to be having my breakfast and I can’t be disturbed. And besides, the end of the universe is a bad thing! Can’t you see? We’re all going to die!” Suddenly, Browning shimmered, flickered and disappeared. Then Lieutennant Zachary Ford popped into existence at the helm. “…yeah, so I’ll pick you up at eight?” he was saying. Not getting a response, he turned around. Instead of facing Ensign Susan Madera, he stared at Commander Lana. “Who the hell are you?”
“Admiral Ford? You know who I am. Commander Shar Lana, Starship Explorer. What are you doing here? You fell down that big hole on Crysta a few weeks ago. You’re dead!”
“Admiral! Hah! I’m Lieutennant Zack Ford of the Starship Explorer, and this is NOT the Explorer, jackass. What the hell am I doing here?”
Nobody noticed Captain Beck stepping out of the turbolift.
Larkin, hearing the commotion, sat up and crawled to the command area. Seeing her, Ford’s mouth dropped. “Commander Larkin, what the hell is going on here?”
She looked up. “Commander? I’m a Lieutennant, and you’ve just fallen through a hole in spacetime. Welcome to an alternate universe.”
“Well,” said Kelly-bell, stretching. “That was certainly a good session,” she said, indicating the bloody bodies of Zackie Ford and Susie Madera. “Kids, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did!” she giggled as she and Lisa-love left Kelly-bell’s office/torture chamber, leaving Andy-wandy to the prisoners.
“You bet it was,” said Lisa-love, her pink vinyl catsuit making shwishing noises as they walked down the corridor. “That whip really does come in handy. Thanks for the tip.”
“Anytime. By the way, have you heard?”
“I think there’s a rumor going around that Deanie Wilcox got sucked through a hole in space. I don’t know, this crew does get pretty crazy sometimes, though. It’s probably just someone getting stir crazy and coming up with fantastic rumors. Silly people.”
“Yeah,” said Lisa-love. “But I can’t help wondering if it’s true. That must be pretty unhappy, getting sucked through a hole in space…”
They reached the turbolift and Kelly-bell hit the call button. “You know, that pink vinyl look is getting kinda old. You might consider updating your look. Black leather is what’s in these days.”
“Well, it’s kind of my signature look now, and I don’t want people to think that I’m going soft or something. You know how vinyl chafes, and it gives me sort of an oddly tough look.”
“It gives you an oddly ugly look if you ask me,” muttered Kelly-bell under her breath.
“I heard that!!!” screeched Lisa-love. The two went to the floor in a vicious catfight. The turbolift arrived, and Captain Lisa Beck stepped out. Seeing herself in pink vinyl and Peterman in head to toe black leather fighting on the floor, she quickly stepped back in.
“Emergency close!” she shouted. “Deck one, bridge.” The turbolift began it’s run as she caught her breath and pored over the scene she had just observed. Herself, in pink vinyl, strangely similar to the suit Mistress Beck was wearing the first time the two clashed, was fighting Counselor Peterman, clad head to toe in black leather. Both of their hands were bloody, and they had at least three different types of torture instruments on them together. The corridor was also a horribly ugly shade of lavender. And she just barely caught a glimpse of a crewman walking by wearing a frighteningly bright blue uniform.
She was in the happy universe.
She hated the happy universe.
She banged her head against the wall of the turbolift as it reached the bridge. The doors whooshed open, to reveal Kris Larkin crawling to the front of the bridge. But the color scheme was gray and wood, not like the Explorer’s patented color scheme. And there was a giant slug sitting in the command chair. Counselor Claire Webber was next to the slug, and in the front of the bridge stood Ford, saying something about what the hell he was doing here.
She stepped out, figuring that this universe would be infinitely preferable to the happy universe. She looked over the crew. They were wearing old-style uniforms with black pants shoulders and colored sleeves and chests. The commbadges were old too, the Starfleet chevron on an oval background. Ford, she surmised, was of her universe because of his black and gray uniform, new commbadge and red yoke.
“Ford, what the hell is going on?” she asked, striding out of the turbolift.
He was just finishing saying “Oh, f***,” when he heard her. “Captain Beck. I was just on duty on the Explorer and I found myself here, and Larkin says that I fell through a hole in space. I guess you did too.”
“There’s happys on this ship.”
The entire crew responded with a simultaneous “Oh, sh**!”
“Yeah. And there’s you. And there’s our crew. Where’s Tilleran?”
“Tilleran? You mean the waitress at Chris’s? What do you want with her?” asked Lana.
“Who’s your science officer?” asked Beck.
“Lieutenant Larkin over there,” replied the slug, indicating Larkin with a tentacle.
“Larkin,” Beck said, slipping into command mode, “I need you to find all the subspace holes on the ship and where they lead to, and I need it done fast. I’ve got to get back to my universe.”
“Oh, yeah, they love you there, Captain,” quipped Ford.
“Stow it Ford. Help Larkin.”
From the ops station at the front of the bridge, Lieutennant Commander Ryan Stuart spoke up. “Uh, Commander Lana, we’ve got a problem. It’s really big.”
“How big, Mister Stuart? Exactly how big is our problem?”
“It’s the size of a Borg cube, sir.”
“Sir, that’s bad,” said Stuart.
At that moment, Captain Wilcox walked out onto the bridge, towel to his crotch. “I’m not happy,” he said. “Lana, cheer me up.”
“We’ve got two new alternate universe people, deck eleven is full of people who are chronically happy, and there’s a Borg cube outside. Oh, and your readyroom is up for inventory inspection,” said Lana, grinning all the while.
Wilcox groaned and sat down in his just-vacated chair. He immediately wished he hadn’t when he felt a sticky, warm substance coating the back of his chair, and now his uniform. “Commander, how many times have I told you to either get a cleanup crew here permanently or put a towel down when you sit on my chair? Huh? A lot. This is NOT helping my uniform. Mr. Stuart, red alert. Get a cleanup crew up here. And tell Yeoman Carter that she’s going to have a hell of a dry-cleaning job very soon, if we survive.”
“Aye sir,” said Stuart from ops.
Just then, the forward turbolift opened to admit Lieutennant Jean-Luc Picard, Chief of Inventory of the Explorer. “Good afternoon everyone, I’m here! You may all applaud, throw money or kiss my boots, but please do it quickly. I have a job to do.”
A large number of objects promptly hit Picard, ranging from Lana’s padd to Larkin’s tricorder to Beck’s boot. The crew shot her strange looks. “What? Excuse me for not carrying any would-be projectiles, but I had to throw something!”
“Yeah, you coulda got something from the replicator behind you,” said Ford. Beck walked over to the replicator and ordered another boot in her size. Then she ordered a cup of coffee. She kicked Ford upside the head and dumped the coffee in his crotch. Then she walked to the command area of the bridge, took a bow and sat down.
“Hey!” cried Picard from the front of the bridge. “What about me?! I’m famous, I’m fabulous, I’m–”
“Going to inventory my ready room, then leaving. It’s your own fault that you quoted Shakespeare to that Ferengi at Maxia Zeta and lost the Stargazer. You were busted down to ensign and put on inventory. We’ve been downright generous to you on the Explorer, so be happy. Right now, there are holes in the fabric of the universe, I have an alternate me in the conference room, I’m sitting in a pile of slime and there’s a Borg cube outside. I’m not happy, and if you don’t leave, so help me I’ll let Captain Beck have at you. Now leave me alone.”
“But Captain Wilcox, ‘You know me well, and herein spend but time to wind about my love with circumstance; and out of doubt you do me now more wrong in making question of my uttermost than if you had made waste of all I have: then do but say to me what I should do that in your knowledge may by me be done, and as I am pressed unto it: therefore speak,’” quoted Picard, feeling rather proud that he remembered such an obscure passage of “The Merchant of Venice.”
Wilcox was by now really mad. “What in hell does that have to do with anything? Go into my ready room and f***ing inventory it! Now! Go!!”
Picard reluctantly aquiesced.
“Hail the cubeship,” said Wilcox. “Let’s see if they want something besides to assimilate us. And flood my ready room with anesthezine. Let’s see if we can get rid of Picard for a while.”
“Aye SIR!” agreed Stuart.
Ford and Beck chuckled. “That’s exactly what they did to Captain Baxter when he was inventory officer on the Secondprize,” said Ford.
“Sir, the Borg are responding to our hail,” said Stuart.
“Onscreen, Ryan. Let’s see how we’re going to die today.”
A typical Borg appeared on the screen. But the borg wasn’t in the usual huge network of catwalks, he was in a corridor with regeneration alcoves behind him. “I am 4 of 8, Captain of Exploratory-class cube #347. I want to go home. We were flung out of transwarp when we hit a disrupted pocket of subspace. We will not hurt you. Just leave us alone. Please.”
The bridge crew of the Explorer looked at each other in surprise. Captain Baxter stood up from his chair. “Captain, we want just as much as you to leave well enough alone.” From his side, Rydell nodded assent. From his other side, Davey-wavey nodded too. From the helm, Browning agreed too. Baxter looked at Davey-wavey, noticing first his hot pink uniform, then his smiley-face commbadge, then the look of pure bliss on his face. Baxter put two and two and two together and got six. He also realized that Davey-wavey was a happy.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! HELP!!! HELP HELPHELPHELPHELPHELPHELP!!!!!! HAPPYS!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” he screamed, running around the bridge with his hands to his head like an insane captain…no, wait, that’s what he was. Anyway, he screamed a lot and ran around, and collided with B’nana who was running around the bridge too. He screamed some more, then he ran into Picard coming out of the ready room.
Picard was about to quote some more Shakespeare when Baxter slammed into him, running completely over him and into the ready room. The doors closed, cutting off the screaming. Picard sat up, looked around, and began to quote again. He was quickly silenced by a hail of objects from around the bridge. He fell over in a dead faint.
On board the Mayfly, things were not much better. Ever since Dr. Woodall appeared in the place of the dead Captain Woodall, nothing was right. Captain Woody had materialized soon after and the universes began to come together there too. Pure chaos existed. Avalon was chasing Avalon, who was chasing Avalon. The first was trying to kill the second, the second was trying to kill the third, and the third really had to go to the bathroom. Dr. Woodall was under attack from Commander MacLean, who was on fire from an exploding console. Pure chaos reigned.
Nobody noticed the huge fleet of ships falling out of the fabric of spacetime: Multeks, Cardassians, Jem’Hadar, Leeramar and Flarn. The fleet, disoriented, noticed the Explorer, Mayfly and Borg cube hovering nearby. The Explorer was ID’d by the Leeramar, Multeks and Flarn, and they moved in to attack. The other ships just attacked because there were Federation ships nearby. A Multek ship accidentally shot a Jem’Hadar ship while targeting the Mayfly, and started a Multek/Dominion sub-battle. A Leeramar warship accidentally crashed into a Flarn cruiser, starting another sub-battle. Pretty soon, the ships were ignoring the Explorer and Mayfly and going at each other all out.
“Captain, this is Larkin. I am currently being chased down deck eleven by a very angry Claire Webber. I have been forced to knock unconscious seven people, including my alternate self. I am attempting…Captain, are you there?”
“HAPPYS!!! HELP ME LARKIN THEY’RE AFTER ME!!! AAAAARGHHHHHHHH!!!”
“Perhaps not,” she remarked as she ran down the corridor. She had to get to the bridge and access the sensors. Perhaps she could figure out a way to stop this. Otherwise, she knew, they would all die.
She was not paying attention to where she was going, and as such, slammed directly into Bartender Chris Richards, who was running in the opposite direction from an angry Dr. Brownie. She was screaming something about not being able to get a decent meatball hero and wielding a huge knife. Larkin and Richards went down in a tangle of arms and legs. Webber and Browning caught up with them. Webber screamed a primal scream and jammed her hand in Larkin’s armpit. The last thought Larkin had was one of curiosity over how she could know where Larkin’s power switch was when she had only known of Larkin’s existence for ten minutes. Larkin’s power was switched off, and Webber tore off her head with inhuman strength, and drop-kicked it down the corridor. It smashed against the wall and shattered into a million pieces, the positronic brain being destroyed. Larkin was no more.
Meanwhile, Brownie stabbed Chris again and again and again until his chest was nothing but a bloody pulpy mass. The two women looked down at their handiwork, looked at each other, and tried to choke each other.
It was all over. Baxter knew it was over. He saw the ships fighting outside his window, the Borg cube hovering next to the anomaly, the Mayfly listing to one side, her port nacelle having been blown off when someone jumped into the plasma stream, and in the middle of it all, the growing tear in space. On the Explorer, the three universes were creating chaos. And the happys were going to take him and make him happy again. He was going to return to oblivion. Ten minutes ago he had heard Rydell outside the door, begging to be let in. Baxter ignored him. A loud splat could be heard inside the ready room. He heard Beck screaming as she and Lisa-love clawed at one another, and his love, his wife, was out there. He couldn’t help her, he couldn’t help any of them. But he had to. He had to. His baby, his lover, his life’s meaning was outside that door fighting for her life. He opened the door…
…and was greeted by Kelly Peterman’s severed head flying towards him. It hit him in the head. He collapsed to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. It had all gone wrong. He had to fix it. He staggered out onto the bridge. Ops, science, tactical and engineering were trashed and burning. The two Becks fought for all they were worth, but it seemed as Lisa-love was winning. Bodies lined the floor. Baxter staggered to the helm and set a course for the anomaly.
“I’m coming, honey,” he sobbed. “I’m coming to join you, I love y–” He broke down, crying uncontrollably. He looked down, saw that the course was laid in. He hit the engage button as he was whipped by Lisa-love in the back of the head. He slumped over the helm, still crying.
In The Constellation Cafe, there was death. One of the windows had been smashed by a flying knife, and the compartment depressurized. Mirk would have saved them with his powers, but for the fact that the knife passed through his head before impacting with the window. His last thoughts were of Amara, and secondly, of how much he hated Commander Conway.
Mirk, looking on at the horrible scene, had used his powers to erect a forcefield around the lounge and get it repressurized, and he evacuated the lounge. He bolted when he saw it was clear, because he was straining so hard. He couldn’t hold it. He took one last look, and noticed that Conway was still in there. There wasn’t enough energy in Mirk to continue the forcefield, and so Conway was sucked out into the void of space. C’est la vie, thought the Maloxian grimly. He took Amara by the hand, drew on his last strength, and put up a forcefield around the two. They would be safe for a little while now. Mirk knew on the inside, though, that there would only be a little while to wait. And so they waited.
In engineering, Richards was at his wit’s end. The crew was going mad, there were alternate versions of everyone running around killing each other, and he was alone. And then Janice ran in, screaming. He ran over.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” he asked. “Besides the fact that the very fabric of reality is tearing apart,” he added with a bit of gallows humor.
“Person…chasing…me…knife…help!” she said, breathlessly. She had obviously been running a long time. Suddenly Janice Browning ran around the corner, knife in bloody hands, a maniacal grin on her face, a hideous bright blue uniform on her body.
Brownie smiled at Browning and Richards. “Good! Two for one. I like that!” she cried as she charged the couple.”
“Janice, I just want you to know…”
“I’ve never stopped loving you.”
The two spent their last moments in a passionate embrace. Brownie, completely insane, decided that she would try and kill the warp core. She stabbed it. Again and again. The antimatter leaked out and began vaporizing everything in sight, beginning with Brownie. The last thoughts she had were wondering if she was tought that warp cores disintigrate people at the academy.
In Transporter Room One, Hartley, Lt. Conway and Meggy were locked in combat over the console. Hartley appeared to be winning, having held Conway and Meggy at bay for the past ten minutes. But suddenly the tide turned as three Holly Carters burst into the transporter room, killing everyone in sight instantly. Nurse Carter walked up to the console and smiled. She looked to herself, than to herself. “So,” she said. “Anybody know how to work this thing?”
“I’m a nurse,” said Holly Carter of the happy universe, looking to Yeoman Holly Carter.
“And I’m a tailor. I guess we’ll just have to push random buttons and see what happens,” she said with glee.
The three giggled as people were transported every which way but correctly all over the ship.
When Baxter awoke, he was looking at himself. Crewman Andy Baxter didn’t notice, and continued pouring the jug of ice water over the captain’s head. When he finished, he slapped Baxter a few times for good measure, which got him a kick in the crotch. Baxter checked his board, then the viewscreen. Good, he thought. He would be joining Kelly very shortly. And just to make sure that he would be there, he found a phaser and vaporized the helm console. Now nothing could stop the Explorer from her doomsday course. Baxter, satisfied, decided to join Kelly early. He blew his head off and left for the afterlife.
Crewman Andy Baxter awoke to a dead bridge. “Computer,” he said weakly, “How many life-forms remaining on the Explorer?”
“According to best possible sensor scans, there is one person alive on board the Explorer.”
Crewman Andy Baxter muttered a curse and strolled over to the dedication plaque. It read, ‘Life is so strange when you don’t know your destination,’ which made no sense relative to the current situation. He sighed, knocked the body of Captain Beck off the command chair, and sat down. He would face death as a captain, and like any good captain, he would go down with his ship.
The Explorer flew into the anomaly, her stardrive section disintigrating quickly, half her saucer vented to space. She entered, and imploded under the stress. A soundless explosion of pure energy coursed through the galaxy and…
“Captain, there is an incoming transmission. It is from Admiral McGrath.”
Larkin’s announcement awoke Baxter from his dozing. He had been dreaming of Kelly. He always dreamt of her. He wiped the drool from the corner of his mouth and sat up. He straightened his uniform. “Put it on screen, Larkin.”
The face of Admiral Frank McGrath appeared on the huge forward viewscreen. “Captain Baxter, I trust you and your crew are doing well?”
“Yes, Admiral. Quite well, thank you. How are you?”
“Fine, fine. I’m just calling to say that your new orders should be coming in via subspace communique sometime today. You’re going on another boring mapping mission that is vital to the survival of the Federation! Good luck, and have fun. McGrath out.”
The screen blanked out, to be replaced by the Federation emblem and that annoying ‘End transmission’ message. It was obvious that the transmission was over, or else he would have been still talking to the admiral. “Larkin, I’ll be in my ready room. You have the conn.”
He walked into the room and sat down at his desk.
Stardate 53770.3. Well, we’re on another boring mapping mission. It promises be totally uninteresting and another month of our toenail-ripping boredom. I just hope something interesting happens. A spatial anomaly would cheer me up a whole lot.
NEXT: When the Explorer finds a crashed Jem’Hadar ship, Dr. Browning gets a gift beyond all imagining, and Commander Conway gets hooked on a substance far beyond coffee. That’s right. I mean, that’s…white!