16.3.15

Episode 89C

The Needs of the Plenty, Part III

The Phoenix-X was hit by phaser beams, again, and again, by the Oberon. Seifer stood up at the center of the Bridge, peering at the transport vessel, trying to weigh the consequences of his next actions.

"Destroy that ship!" Seifer ordered. But then, snapping out of it: "Huh? What? Oh, I meant, let's negotiate."

In another moment, the Captain of the Oberon, a Rigellian named Fes, blinked on screen. "Phoenix-X! You must not interfere with the Traveling Link! I took the time out to sit down and listen to their story."

"You mean the story of them going around harassing colonists and murdering people??"

Kayl turned. "There were murders? Well, that certainly makes things more interesting."

"Well, there were meant to be, at least, in my Part I logs, but I couldn't go back and edit them to reflect that. Something about only having a few days window for editing posts before it's locked forever," Seifer cursed.

Fes interrupted. "It doesn't matter what they did! Their actions are the actions of desperation! I'd elaborate further, but I'm insanely behind schedule and I think my passengers are trying to open the airlocks." He then chuckled. "Oh, those Evora. Always running around and bumping into each other. So cute!"

The Oberon turned in space and jumped to warp.

---

Later, the senior staff, not including the Captain, met in the Conference room to go over the details.

"How are we able to have a meeting without the Captain? He preset this room to dissipate all the oxygen unless he was in here with us??" Armond panicked.

Seifer placed a bunch of devices on the table. "All we have to do is wear these Benzite breathers."

"Commander, my advice is we drop this mission and go to Risa," Ensign Dan suggested.

Seifer looked over. "You dare suggest an enticing alternative? You're relieved! Anyway, Doctor, what else can you tell us about Diggs, the non-changeling changeling?"

"His physiology appears to be Angosian; a near-perfect replica of Human anatomy, but with the subtle difference in nomenclature," Lox explained, scientifically-ish.

Kayl brought up a biographical display on the wall screen. "I did a little research, as well. The only record I could find on Diggs was an attempted latinum heist by his-self and two others on Lissepia's Central Bank, five years ago. He was caught tripping over their feet, as they were clearly really bad at heists."

"That bank gets heisted every year," Kugo remarked.

Seifer slammed his fist on to the table. "None of this is useful! Other than the common criminology theme, which, as I've stated before, is never a thing we should pay attention to. There's only one thing left to do: Send out a distress signal of our own, claiming a changeling disabled us."

"Excellent strategy, sir! Then the Traveling Link will think their humanoid transformation on Diggs didn't work!" Red, the Klingon exchange officer, exclaimed. "Happened to Odo all the time when he was on Deep Space 9."

Taken aback, Seifer fell out of his seat. "Ah! A Klingon!?"

---

Hours later, the Traveling Link, a giant, conglomerate mass of space creature, stopped in space when it detected the subspace distress call using its internal alien-morphesized sensitivities.

"Stop. We must acknowledge this message and proceed to loot this vessel," said one voice, internally.

"If we're a link, and considered 'one', then why do we have separate consciousness's in here?" asked another one.

"We agreed it was more interesting this way! The Borg do it, so why not us?" Just then, the giant creature U-turned in space and jumped to warp.

---

Seifer: "First officer's log, Stardate 68664.9; Captain Cell continues to barricade himself in his Ready Room, dealing with more legal woes than 2280's Kirk on a ship-stealing spree. Meanwhile, we have yet to see any sign of the Traveling Link, despite us disabling ourselves for theirs and any passer-byers pickings. Sure, we could have faked it, but I wanted authenticity."

---

Out in the vast, cold vastness of ice-cold vast space, the Phoenix-X drifted, knowingly leaking a trail of plasma behind.

"Okay, nobody light anything," Armond warned over-cautiously. "Seriously. We're breaking about two hundred Starfleet regulations right now. Some I don't even get? Like, Starfleet Regulation 148? No group of officers are to commune together in any overly ambitious and hopeful way."

Seifer turned. "I'm pretty sure everything after 100 is a troll. Anyway, is anyone going to Captain Data's birthday party? And why are his cakes always made after his upper body?"

SLAM! Just then, several liquefied changelings hit the hull of the Phoenix-X and scurried their way inside, through the cracks. In the hallways, Starfleet officers were caught off guard and shoved aside by solidifying, in-a-hurry, shapeshifters.

"By the emotionless interaction of Chakotay! We've been boarded!" Seifer stood up in shock as three changelings entered the Bridge.

Tak, one of the changelings, approached him. "Give us all your things and stuff. We also demand you turn over Diggs."

"Hah! I was expecting you. I've installed quantum stasis field generators all throughout the ship! It was easier than installing holo emitters for the EMH, which we stopped trying to do out of pure lack of interest," Seifer surprised.

The changeling cursed, "You foolish non-changers! Don't you see? We just want to live! Is that so much to ask?? And who can we ask?"

"Correction: You want to terrorize. Explanation: You turned Diggs, one of your own, into a solid, and you're stealing from people. I'd allow it, but I get experience points for completing missions like these. It's not much, but once you start collecting them, you just can't stop."

Tak held up her hand to halt the other two changelings from attacking. "In fact, we are merely trying to procreate. We had a nice long talk about it with that Rigellian Captain."

"Pro-what? That's impossible, unless--" Kayl interrupted, shocked. "Diggs was always a humanoid??"

Seifer glanced at her. "Kayl! What have I told you about beetle snuff? You're certainly not suggesting the Traveling Link turned Diggs into a changeling? Are you?? Tell me the truth. Are you?"

"They turned Odo into a solid 19 years ago. What's to say they couldn't do it the other way around?" Lox postulated, while bringing Diggs onto the Bridge.

Seifer looked on in shock. "You did it! You interrogated him in an inhumane way!"

"Ugh." Diggs, exhausted from questioning, turned to the crew. "It's true. I was a hardened criminal before the Traveling Link found me and turned me into one of them."

Kayl questioned, "According to records, you never actually were successful in committing any crimes whatsoever? The Lissepians wouldn't even charge you?"

"It's the failure which hardened me!" Diggs emoted quite dramatically.

Tak turned. "Clearly, our attempt to procreate was a failure. Now we will never have children. As for our criminal nature of late, we cannot explain. But changeling morals are looser than solids', so it's fine. It's mostly fine."

"That's just it." Suddenly, Cell walked out onto the Bridge. "Diggs' linking into you caused your behavior to become abhorrent. Like, Thadiun Okona if he was an Acamarian Gatherer."

Seifer turned in shock. "Captain! Aren't you dead??" But then, "Oh, sorry. I was thinking of Kirk. You ever notice that he's always dying? Every universe."

"In a way, I was dead. But in a more specific way, I wasn't. A Captain isn't a Captain if he's not Captaining and pointing at stuff. For far too long have I been dismissing the actual situation at hand, which is only vaguely clear to me at this point."

Red gestured. "But, sir? You have been dealing with legal battles concerning the fact you lied about not being a changeling in Starfleet, for decades, after having departed the Great Link several centuries prior, in protest of their ways??"

"Exactly; and my recent Starfleet woes have gotten even worse. They're literally sending the Enterprise-E, the Defiant and Voyager all at once to come and get me right now-- Seriously, they're on their way here and will arrive momentarily." Cell paused for a moment to re-examine his focus. "Oh, right. But, me being a changeling is exactly why I'm intervening. You see, only another non-affected changeling can diffuse the corruption Diggs caused in the Traveling Link, and I intend on being that changeling."

Tak approached. "That works out great, since the other non-affected half of our group, including such changelings with unusual names such as Shane and Sergio, split off from us before we altered Diggs, in some awkward desire to chase Borg cubes."

"Borg cubes are the bug lamps of changelings. It's a known fact," Seifer clarified.

Cell turned to the crew. "I know you have your doubts about me. All I can say is that although we have only been together for a short time, I know that you are the finest crew in the fleet."

"18 years is short to you?" Armond questioned.

Kayl interrupted again, "And aren’t you always saying we're the worst crew in the fleet?"

"Yeah, yeah," the Captain waved all that way. "It made you tougher, didn't it? Besides, since all the legal troubles, I've discovered there's nothing more for me here. Remember me as I am now, screaming in perpetual rage at Federation bureaucracy."

Everyone watched as the field generators were disabled and Cell merged himself with Tak, followed by all the other changelings on the ship. The Traveling Link then nodded to the Bridge crew and a second later, liquid-shot itself through a nearby ventilation hatch.

"Wait! Wait!!" Diggs called out. "I was your baby! And I was going to shapeshift myself into so many of Harry Kim's Edge of Etiquette clarinet rock concerts!"

---

Minutes later, Seifer and Chief engineer, Kugo, entered the Captain's Ready Room, presented with the messy-padd aftermath of the previous occupant's legal woes.

"Well, it looks like you're Captain now," Kugo said.

Seifer nodded, solemnly. "My first order of business: Pants-free Fridays! But before that, a moment of silence for my friend; I can only say that of all the souls I've met on my travels, his was the most changeling."

"What? Did Cell leave the ship??" came Admiral Cloud's voice from the desktop monitor. "Typical. If only he'd waited just a few more minutes. You see, Captain's Menrow, Iviok, Aeris, and many more made statements on his behalf-- and we couldn't very well charge everyone for conspiracy. We don't have the emotional capacity to handle that many grievances! They also demonstrated anecdotal evidence of his achievements, enough of which to drop charges!"

Seifer swivelled the monitor around. "Fan fiction, is there anything it can't do?"

"Don't think this makes you Captain in rank, Seifer! Kugo sent me a report that you had no influence in the final moments for solving this mission at all."

The Commander glanced at her. "What? But it's only been two minutes??"

"I'm a quick writer," the Vulcan engineer shrugged.

Cloud gritted his teeth. "You stay put until we handle your situation. And despite you not taking the Traveling Link in for jail, the Phoenix-X is still my special operations vessel. If Admiral Parsons gets the U.S.S. Zephyra, then I get one too! That's how Admirals work. Cloud out."

"I'd like to think Cell's noblest act as Captain was to save the Traveling Link from themselves. Our influence is of a greater regard of which is to follow his imperial example. Shall we go to the Bridge and order people around and such?" Seifer turned to her.

Kugo nodded in compliance. "He would've wanted it that way."