12.3.16

Unofficial 16B

Unofficial Literary Challenge #20: Nibiru, Part II

In the flickering, run-down Bridge of the Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X, all five Captains looked on in awe and shock at the virus hologram standing before them.

"Qu!" barked Samya. "I mean, Mayhem! Sorry, that just seemed natural."

The Intelligence officer stepped around the railing and approached them. "There's no time for your signature randomness! You see, those small artificial black holes are orbiting each other on chaotic paths, threatening to lock us in gravitational suspension between them forever!"

"In English, holo-man!" ordered Iviok.

Mayhem rolled his eyes. "That was as dumbed-downed as I could get it. I one-time beamed you all here, the so-called brains of your ships, so that you could get the Phoenix-X online, faster, before certain eternal destitute."

"What about our own ships? They're already trapped inside that system-disabling, space-time mish-mash!" argued Menrow. "And what happened to this ship??"

Activating the main viewscreen, Mayhem, replied, "We'll be back for your crews once we're online and done." He replayed an image of an attacking Breen vessel. "In the meantime, the Phoenix-X was ambushed by these popsicle mystery men, who were trying to obtain supplies to get home in some sort of full-body-armored Janeway rip-off."

"Our engines are completely offline," Iviok noted as he accessed a nearby console. "The Breen version of Tom Paris must've over-clocked an energy dissipator."

Nodding, the hologram continued, "Yes, and all while I and the crew of Phoenix-X were on a mission from Starfleet Intelligence to render the phenomenal activity on these black holes inert."

"What kind of activity?" asked McCary.

Mayhem answered, "Highly volatile space-time warping-- which we were warned about, from a lone signal long ago, by an unknown species called the Nibiru-- which I successfully stopped by using purple matter."

"Dammit! You can't just make up matter and assign it a color!" Reynolds declared.

Shaking his head, the virus finished, "Unfortunately, your precious Captain Seifer agreed and had his entire crew hijack that Breen vessel in search of another cluster of artificial black holes... for something called a 'redo'."

"He's mad," realized Menrow. "It's that obsession of his with a 'magic reset button' all over again. Odd, though, that he reported that so we would all know."

Crossing her arms, Samya said, "And let me guess, we know nothing about the Nibiru because your program is infecting the Federation database."

"I need to infect something!" Mayhem defended. "That's like asking a Bolian not to be a hairstylist."

Menrow turned to the other Captains. "Seifer is our mission now, considering he could cause untold damages to all that is good and safe in the galaxy."

"Like the time you enslaved the Takarians in the Delta Quadrant?" Reynolds reminded.

The Captain waved it off. "Ferengi possession doesn't count! Besides, my body is still recovering from tube grub overdose." He then addressed each one, down the line; his stomach aching. "Iviok, go to Engineering and get the engines into safe mode. Samya, check the status of the weapons. McCary, update life-support systems. Reynolds, run a diagnostic on the deflector dish. I'll ensure main power holds up."

"You do realize we're playing right into the do-not-work-together reversal, don't you?" Samya clarified.

Menrow countered, "I realize that pointing out something's a trope is itself a trope! Dismissed!"
Captain's Log, Stardate 87446.9 
As Acting Commanding officer of Task Force Epsilon, I, Captain Menrow, have taken command of the abandoned U.S.S. Phoenix-X. It turns out Captain Seifer littered his entire Ready Room with leola root tart wrappers. How can one man eat that much junk food? Anyway, we've engaged warp in safe mode and are following the last known coordinates of the Breen Chel Grett warship Darkseid. As odd as it is attempting to acclimatize myself to this new role over my peers, I am fairly certain we will not succeed as a team. In fact, it's more likely we'll buckle under our own incompatibilities. The only question is how soon?
Reynolds entered Engineering where Iviok was hard at work, managing the engines by himself.

"Damn the Phoenix-X! Where does the X even come from?" she asked. "Are they just trying too hard to be what they used to call 'cool'?"

The Andorian examined the intermix chamber. "Judging by this conglomeration of engine core, it would appear the vessel was being used as the test ship for everyone's on-again, off-again transwarp ability; the engineers must've burned through twenty-four other Phoenix-named ships to get here."

"Makes sense-- Which is the least I can say about my own senses. You see, my Betazoid mind has been hearing high-pitched drilling noises ever since I beamed onto this Admiral-approved flying-shovel." She massaged her temple. "Ohhhh. I'm nearing full-Troi."

Iviok moved to another console. "At least you don't have to rebuild major components everyday of your life. On my Tier 1, Centaur-class starship, interstellar dust gets into the cracks and then wedges our hull plating right off into space."

"Clearly deserving," she added. "You command a ship that uses a crank to power up its transporters."

Pointing back, Iviok replied, "Hey! We save on environmental energy waste that way. Though, we do over-compensate in excess antimatter."

"I'm just going to pretend this conversation never happened," Reynolds said seconds before she was interrupted by a nearby console. It displayed her now released deflector controls. "Whoa. I think those black holes have been hitting the Phoenix-X with psionic energy??" She checked her data. "No wonder I've been considering putting my head into a food decompiler!"

The other Captain perked. "That would only take your hair, by the way." And then, "Hmm. Using that correlating data, we may be able to build a defense into our shields using a modulated delta wave frequency."

"This better work, unlike that one plan we had to hog-tie Captain Menrow."

---

Samya entered the Conference room to find Menrow at a wall panel, fixing a main power circuit.

"Is it just me, or is there an entire deck floor completely cracked and broken?" she asked.

Menrow stepped away from his work. "Oh, yes, that's from Seifer's pet Horta Hatchling. You get used to the randomly warped gravity." He sighed. "Which is the least I can say about being in command of fellow-ranked officers."

"With all due respect, Captain, but I believe I should have been the one in command here." She stepped up. "I'm not susceptible to body-switching and I'm quicker at making decisions."

Rolling his eyes, Menrow answered, "Oh, please. You're reckless and have been self-involved ever since your sister went missing. You're probably looking for her right now!"

"How dare you?" she started seconds before an incoming hail from a Yridian information dealer came through the wall screen, indicating her search request for her sister garnered no results. "Well, can you blame me? What makes my own blood less relevant than Seifer's?"

Menrow gave in. "Now that I've had a chance to review all the stolen Forcas III trophies in this room, I'm certain nothing does. But, this is our current mission and we have an obligation to do what is right and utilize available sources to complete it."

"Huh," she paused after typing in the request onto the touch screen. "The Yridian is saying he did hear something about a Breen ship in the sector. I'm sending him a billion energy credits to tell us where; it's not much money, but it's all I'm willing to part with."

---

As the Phoenix-X changed course, Mayhem entered Sickbay, where McCary was accessing a console in the dark.

"Captain? I just came here to infect the EMH like I do on every ship I visit?" Mayhem entered slowly, trying to get a view of what McCary was doing.

Then, turning in shock, McCary revealed himself to be covered in random patches of fur, sticking out of his sleeves, tearing through the Odyssey uniform front and white shoulder cut. "Don't look at me!"

"By my programming God, some guy named Lester, the rumors of you turning into a tribble are true!?" Mayhem was taken aback.

Breathing heavy, McCary continued. "That's just the thing. We did reverse the transformation on ourselves and the crew of the I.K.S. Rotog, in time, with the cooperation of both ship's Doctors, resulting in minimal hair spread." He attempted to turn to address the hologram. "But ever since you beamed me onto this disease-drenched dirt-ship, psionic energy has been resequencing me all over again."

"Oh, ugh--!?" Mayhem began puking holographic numbers and mathematic symbols all over the floor as he took in the realization of cross-cultural teamwork. "Working with Klingons? You organics disgust me!"

The now rainbow-colored-hairy one-quarter Klingon, three-quarter Human stepped toward Mayhem. "Tell me the truth; were the Nibiru targeting the Phoenix-X? Is this what caused their Calibus VII disease to resurface?"

"Of course!" Mayhem held up his photonic arm in disgust-filled defense. "The purple matter may have settled the artificial black hole clusters from becoming erratic, but it wasn't enough to stop their psionic radiation."

Picking off loose pink fur, McCary realized, slowly but surely, "The Nibiru are causing the clusters and Seifer is going after them."

Then, a communiqué from the Bridge broke through. "Menrow to all Captains. We've engaged... the Borg-- I mean, the Darkseid." 

---

Dropping warp in the Qo'Nos sector, the Prometheus-class Phoenix-X approached the Breen Chel Grett warship Darkseid.

On the Darkseid's massively, smoky Bridge, Captain Seifer and his partially-deteriorated crew operated the vessel before a series of artificial black holes.

"Captain, how are we even still alive??? Also, we have the target in sights," Armond reported from tactical.

Kayl turned from her Operations console. "The canister is loaded. We'll only get one shot at this."

"Did anyone check out the Breen quarters? Even their beds are covered in environmental containers?" Doctor Lox questioned, perplexed. "They leave everything to the imagination."

Kugo entered the Bridge, "Engineering checks out as I expected-- a complete nonsensical configuration. I touched nothing."

"Ah, you guys. After all our forced on-and-off bed-rest, it's good to be working with you again," Seifer sighed, truthfully.

Turning from helm, Ensign Dan asked, "Even me?"

"You're relieved!" the Captain yelled, upset.

Menrow's hail from the Phoenix-X broke in, and the screen clicked on, interrupting them. "Your ship to Seifer; we know you've been severely affected by these clusters and we have a solution: Iviok has lined this ship's shields with a modulated delta-wave frequency. We know it works because it has stopped McCary's tribble-ing. That's a thing now."

"Whoa! The whole Task Force Epsilon team is here?" Captain Seifer reacted. "We never got along? Remember that Klingon troop we ambushed, only to turn all our weapons on each other instead? The troop just left us, laughing."

The other Captain sighed. "You promised never to speak of that again! Besides, we figured out how to work together, like we were supposedly trained to do. I believe the activator was immediacy."

"Uh, you fell right into a reversal, is what you did. Well, it doesn't matter anyway. A ship modification is not enough as we're going to use blue matter to transform these clusters into a portal to the Nibiru." Then, chuckling, "Can you believe how easy it is to create matter and assign it a color? Darkseid out!"

Armond tapped at his controls, scanning the Phoenix-X's next actions. "Sir, they're preparing their own colored matter in response...... red!?"

"What? Those Cap-slacks really did overcome their inevitable, collective failure," Seifer bemused. Then, realizing, "They're going hit our blue matter with red matter and make purple matter!?"

Kayl replied, "That'll disable this cluster like the last one."

"Not if I can help it. We've been suffering through life without our LCs-- oh, Lissepian Candies, to clarify-- for far too long. Target the Phoenix-X and prepare the Breen Tom Paris'd energy dissipator."

Kugo turned from her controls. "It's ready."

"Sorry, Epsilon; you did good, but not Third Fleet-good. --Fire."

Seconds later, a white fizz of energy was shot out from the Darkseid and into the Phoenix-X, knocking all its systems offline, once again.

The Breen ship turned to the cluster of black holes and ejected a canister of blue matter into it, forcing the holes together and opening a large tunnel in space-time. The Darkseid then flew through, somehow circumventing all forms of spaghettification, gravitational lensing or loss of electrons.