5.3.15

Episode 89B

The Needs of the Plenty, Part II

Up, in orbit of Gault, the Phoenix-X waited patiently for the results of Commander Seifer's investigation. Standing over a console for some time, Seifer was greeted with a pleasant DING!

"Are those the results?" Captain Cell asked.

Seifer reached passed the console to the replicator and pulled out a hlaka soup. "No, it's just my lunch."

"So, anyway," Cell continued as they both stood in the Messhall, "I've been contacting people I've known for years, Captian's Menrow, Iviok and Aeris, telling them to flat out deny anything on me for their own good. My reasoning being that I don't want any of my past misdeeds affecting those I care about dearly."

The Commander sipped his soup while standing. "Aren't you a hard-ass?"

"Uh, that's just my icy exterior. I extol it as both an emotional safety mechanism and a troll." Cell then turned. "Well, anyway, I need to go move all my Federation bank holdings to an off-territory account."

---

Later, Seifer entered a re-dressed Sickbay with darker lighting. In the middle of the room sat Diggs in a chair-- his shape held cold by quantum stasis field generators. Doctor Lox and Lieutenant Commander Armond, wearing leather gloves, stood nearby.

"Alright, let's begin the interrogation. Doctor, start the physical portion," Seifer ordered.

Lox raised his backhand at Diggs but was stopped by Armond. "Wait!" Armond interrupted. "Shouldn't we ask him a question first? Also, isn't all of this against Starfleet regulations?"

"I've been meaning to check up on that," Seifer admitted, truthfully. "And, I suppose questions are in order. I mean, I guess."

Diggs glanced over. "Right! On to topic: You see, the Founders, also known as Changelings, are a species of shape-altering crazy-heads. Our-kind run a small non-profit organization called the Dominion, and our love for lizard-pets led to the adoption of Cardass--"

"We already know what Changelings are! There was a whole war about it," Armond broke in. "There was also a lost ship in the Delta Quadrant at the same time, but their adventures barely paled in comparison according to most in the subpspace message board community."

Diggs nodded in understanding. "Ah, good times. Well, before that, the Founders sent out what has been called 'the 100', centuries ago, in an effort to have some kind of world export, I imagine. A very few of that '100' became the Traveling Link, a giant Changeling entity working as one."

"Get to the point Diggs," Seifer warned. He then checked his timer. "Oh, never mind. We're actually ahead of schedule."

The Changeling turned to him. "The point being, I was a part of that group but left when we started exhibiting irregular behavior. When it accumulated to raiding small worlds, I decided it was time to leave-- I directed us to Gault, where I expected I would take up farming and such. By the way, what's work ethic? Is that a something?"

"So, your personal needs unintentionally put the Gault colonists at risk," Seifer resolved.

Diggs nodded, "Precisely. Morals and social awareness is new to me, so you'll have to forgive the naiveté."

"Starfleet forgives nothing! --Err, I mean, yeah; we'll let the Judge decide that. What's right and wrong can't possibly be trusted to the common man, according to the last 400 years of Human society."

The prisoner adjusted his seating. "Perfect! I'll just go into a vegetative-mental state until then." Staring blankly for a very long time, Diggs was suddenly woken by a hearty shake.

"Wake up!!" Seifer yelled.

---

The group found themselves in the Phoenix-X's brig, where Diggs had been held for the entire time since blanking out.

"You've been out for two weeks," Seifer accused. "We weren't even done with the questioning!"

Diggs looked up at him, "Ah, dammit. Sorry. I tend to just act on impulse sometimes. You want to know where the Traveling Link is going to be next, don't you?"

"Yes!"

The Changeling sat up in his Brig. "Very well. The last I was aware, they were going to head toward the Delta Vega system. Their reasoning eluded me. I was all too excited about my new life of hoeing and planting."

"Hm. It would've taken them two weeks to get there by my uncalculated assumptions. The only way we're going to be able to catch up is if we use our beloved Transwarp!" Seifer clutched his hand close to his heart.

Armond tapped at his padd, "I'm signaling the Bridge, using Morse code, to set course and engage."

"Thank you, Armond. You remembered that as the new protocol for communication on the ship."

The tactical officer glanced over. "Sir, may I respectfully amend it is not an efficient form of communication??"

"I know, but it's just so damn cool," Seifer replied absentmindedly. "Well, carry on. It will probably take you ten to fifteen minutes to spell out."

---

Later, the Phoenix-X dropped Transwarp at the Delta Vega system. Scanning the area, the ship found no signs of abnormal activity anywhere.

"How are we sure we can trust anything Diggs says?" Kayl asked from operations.

Seifer turned. "Lieutenant! How dare you take a specist attitude toward Changelings. Sure, many have done wrong in their time, but that doesn't mean you paint them all the same."

"I've completed several scans, and have found nothing," Armond reported.

The Commander clenched his fist. "Damn that Changeling liar. It's just like all of them too."

"What?"

He then sat back. "Oh! Uh, nothing. --What I was going to say was, I'm starting to have second thoughts about Diggs' authenticity-- on a non-specist basis." Seifer tapped his commbadge. "Bridge to Captain Cell. I removed the Morse code rule. Are you up for doing Captain stuff and whatnot?"

"Seifer," Cell's voice came over the comm, "Yes, of course; just as soon as I work through this multi-layered subpoena. It's nothing really. I just have to agree to turn myself in to the courts and several other similar organizations all at once somehow."

Rubbing the back of his neck, uncomfortably, Seifer replied, "No, no. You know what? You just keep doing what you're doing."

---

Entering the Brig, Seifer found Doctor Lox standing outside of Diggs' cell, scanning the Changeling with a medical tricorder.

"Commander, he appears to be destabilizing in some way," Lox reported. "If he dies, I'd like to use his ashes in a circle-puff smoking experiment."

Seifer cringed. "You freak me out, Doctor. You really do."

"Ugh!!" Diggs groaned in pain, prompting the two men to turn in his direction. The Changeling fluctuated for a moment, attempting to grasp his head in horror. In another moment, the fluctuation ceased and Diggs fell to his knees in pain.

Lox scanned him again. "Sir! He's not reading as a shapeshifter anymore! He's... he's a humanoid; heart, lungs, muscles, bone structure-- the whole shebang!"

"By the insanely unrealistic, but nicely designed, refit of the Constitution-class!" Seifer swore in shared shock.

Diggs groggily looked up from his unexpected transformation. "Owe. Does this mean I have to find a girlfriend now?"

BLAM! The ship shook from incoming fire.

Armond then broke through the comms. "Commander! We're receiving a hail from the Sydney-class U.S.S. Oberon. They're warning us to keep away from the shapeshifters, for they have much to do. --Quite generalized, if I do say so myself."

"What? That weak, old transportation vessel that's always carrying innocent civilians?? Return fire!" Seifer tapped his commbadge.