10.5.16

Unofficial 16C

Unofficial Literary Challenge #20: Nibiru, Part III

In the exhaust-filled, spark-flinging darkness of ship-interior-ness, Menrow, Reynolds, Iviok, Samya and McCary found themselves just waking off the floor, together, from simultaneous unconsciousness.

"Damn! We failed our self-given mission worse than Riker mounting an uncalculated bar stool," cursed Menrow.

Samya gripped her head as she sat up. "Please don't bring that up. Ever. Again."

"Our lack of visual is messing with our references. Let me get the light." Iviok felt around for a control panel in the dark.

But, instead, he flicked a switch which let out the floor beneath them. All five Captains fell through and out of the ship onto a red, grassy land: They were crashed on Planet Nibiru, in a forest, and the ship they were in was the Breen Chel Grett warship Darkseid!

"That wasn't the light," countered Reynolds. "And outer space has dirt now?"

A nearby shuffling sound was followed by Seifer's voice. "You're on an alien world, Reynolds. One, the likes you have never seen! I'm guessing. It's not like I can read your mind. Welcome to Nibiru!"

"Captain??" Samya, followed by the others, turned to behold a nearby area of forest where Seifer was caught in an elaborate trap.

Walking over, the group viewed that Seifer was being suspended above them by a complex system of primitive red bamboo-like sticks.

"After we went through the black hole portal, I realized Mayhem had transferred himself over to the Darkseid's Bridge," Seifer explained. "He must've beamed you guys over, last minute, to help stop me. Well, I took care of him."

Seifer revealed a mobile emitter in his left suspended-arm's palm.

"He actually stole this from Voyager's Doctor out of holographic competition. Typical Section 31! Am I right?"

Menrow's jaw dropped. "That's the second time he transported us!? And he's with Section 31??"

"Oh, come on. Like you couldn't see through that pretentious elitism? He's like a message board user who harps on your writing any chance he gets," Seifer explained. "You see, Section 31 does whatever they want. It's they who have Geordi's VISOR."

Samya clutched her head. "This is too much to process. What is it you want out of all of this then?"

"I just want to negotiate the release of my crew's Calibus VII re-disease-ening. The Nibiru somehow reactivated it; they can stop it."

Iviok began examining the bamboo-like contraption. "Oh, they can do anything, can they? Like, capture Captain Seifer? At least now we have you, the same way the Enterprise-D was able to hold on to Doctor Tolian Soran."

"Maybe if we had built a defense against that dissipater instead of some pointless psionic shielding, we wouldn't be crashed on this planet right now," countered a hairy McCary.

Reynolds began massaging her temples from a resuming barrage high-pitched telepathic noise. "What do you mean? That's how we stopped you from going full Tribble in the first place!"

"The fault lies in our commanding officer. I should have been the one to lead us, my sibling-search notwithstanding," Samya turned to face Menrow.

Shaking his head, Menrow erupted. "You know what? You're all on a time-out! I want each of you to find a red tree and stand, facing it, to think about what you all have done!"

All five Captains began talking over each other in anger until their raised volume activated a mechanism on the trap, erupting a strange alien call out from a bamboo-like tube.

"It's the prophesied ones!" came an alien voice, freezing Task Force Epsilon's energized discussion. Its speaker, a Nibiru with white skin and black lines around his head, approached. "I am First Leader Nune and we have been calling to you through the Heavens!"

In no time, the group was surrounded by more Nibiru. They collectively deactivated the trap and let Seifer down to be free.

"These traps are for the untamed naked drakoulias. They eat the delicious flesh of anyone in the Red Forest," one of the other Nibiru explained. "My name is Cela and I am Second Leader."

Seifer was freed. "Your 'calling' has somehow reactivated a sickness in me. Who targets a starship with copious levels of psionic energy from a planet anyway?"

"Oh, we do! Our psychic powers are amplified through the Heavens, and their Heavens' Heavens, eternal," Nune said while one of the other Nibiru played around with the mobile emitter. "And its use of the genetically-altering power of ones mind acts to reveal you as our God! We are all now the Great Birds of the Galaxy!"

Then, Mayhem was suddenly activated prompting Menrow to react in shock.

"Oh, for the many alien loves of James T. Kirk! Whoever the actual Great Bird is must be spinning in his bird grave."

---

As the group was escorted to a small pre-industrial village, fashioned together in red structures, they came upon a giant crystal at the center of the town. There, several Nibiru Priests were knelt, ritualistically feeding psionic energy into it.

"This is all our fault," Menrow said to his team of four Captains while Seifer and Mayhem were drifted away by the locals. "If we could only maintain a work-together paradigm like we were supposed to via the reversal, we could have taken Seifer back to the Darkseid and out of here by now."

Samya sighed. "I hate to admit it, but Margarita-Head is right. What's more, is that we let Mayhem get the best of us, twice."

"Perhaps, instead of allowing fate or tropes to define us, we should define ourselves," Iviok suggested. "I accept that our group has a clich├ęd Captain's team hand-stack ritual before every mission."

As he held out his hand, waiting for the others to join him, everyone decided to just nod in awkward agreement instead.

"I can read that you are all not happy with circumstances at present." They were then approached by Cela, the Second Leader. "Only a small portion of my people have mental powers, and I use mine to survey social cliques."

Reynolds nodded. "As one should. But what's it to you, Stripe-Face?"

"I, too, do not believe we need a 'God'," Cela replied. "To me, there is no such thing, and what we witnessed over a century ago does not correlate to our definition of who we are now."

McCary was taken aback. "An atheist?? A pox on thee!"

"Yes," the Nibiru woman rolled her eyes. "Not all us Nibiru are as foolish as our head-tilting ancestors, just 151 years ago, when they gazed the saving of our world by an obese metal bubble-bird."

Menrow tapped his chin. "I kind of want to know what that is, but I also kind of don't. Also, can we leave on our own free will?"

"Yes, but your friend Seifer will likely be executed when he disavows being our God," Cela answered. "Our mental powers are highly developed, but only at sacrifice to our maturity levels."

Samya shrugged, contemplating it. "Well. I mean, he had a good run with those LCs that one time, right? Oh, Leola Crepes."

"And there is another problem," Cela continued. "Your non-mind holo-friend has gone somewhere with Nune, the First Leader. Nune seeks mortal power over all Nibiru Countries-- even the weird ones."

Iviok added, "We're two for two! Now Mayhem can do all the evil schemes he wants here. It's in his programming after all."

"You know what?" Menrow started. "You two are on a time-out! Go stand next to the psionic crystal!"

---

Later, Menrow, Samya and McCary approached Seifer and a group of Nibiru, just outside the red forest. Seifer was preparing for a run.

"Captain, once you disavow your God-hood, the Nibiru will kill you," warned Menrow. "And, according to B'Elanna Torres, the correct afterlife is the Klingon one."

Seifer smirked. "Who in their right minds would disavow something like that? Also, are you going to join me in the chase ritual? It turns out, everything here is high-octane and adrenaline-running!"

"I haven't run since my Academy days. Twisted my ankle chasing mini-Q after mini-Q," McCary added, raising his tribble-fur-covered arm, as his body had resumed transformation.

Seifer looked at him. "You're weird. Well, anyway, Task Force Epsilon belongs to all of you now." He addressed the three. "If you could not-ruin her with Warp 10-salamandering or anything, that would be great." Then, interrupting himself, he added, "And, GO!"

"Didn't a Klingon named Menchez do that once?" Samya asked before realizing Seifer and the group of Nibiru jumped into a run for their lives through the red forest.

Menrow, McCary and Samya looked at each other in reacting-shock and then decided to run after them!

"Does-- my-- speaking-- in labored-- breaths--- constitute-- as 'done-to-death'--?" McCary asked during the sprint.

Menrow and Samya replied, "YES!"

As red trees whipped by their fields of vision, sounds of naked drakoulias could be heard all around them.

---

Reynolds and Iviok secretly followed the holographic virus, Mayhem, and the Nibiru leader, Nune, toward the tall volcano in the distance. Inside the hole, within the depths of the mountain's innards, it appeared as if an entire lava explosion was frozen and hardened in place.

"This is where we avoided death, oh great one," Nune said. "Our lives are renewed thanks to your Starfleet kind-- the Great Birds of the Galaxy!"

Mayhem agreed, as he carried a Breen device with him. "That's actually true since most of Starfleet is run by Aurelians now. Anyway, we must complete your renewal here with one of our own rituals, as reciprocation." And then, to add, "An eternal reciprocation..."

"Hold it right there, Mayhem," Reynolds called out as she and Iviok stepped around one of the many tall, hardened lava spews, to reveal themselves. "You're planning on destroying the planet!?"

The holographic virus double-taked. "Damn! How could that one self-indulgent line be my undoing? And to answer your question, Yes."

He took the time to explain everything.

"You see, a few months ago, the Nibiru began infusing the Vulcan sector with space-time psionics that initiated micro black holes, in an unwitting intent on terraforming half the quadrant into a shared space."

Iviok's jaw dropped. "That's when Seifer's diseasening started! Not that I'd know of such things."

"Precisely. They think they're merging and connecting with Heaven and even communicated with our telepaths so. But when I stopped the clusters with purple matter, I didn't suspect two more locations would arise: one in Romulan space's Azure sector, and one in Klingon space's Qo'noS sector. Section 31 sent me, your neighborhood hologram, a preprogrammed directive to stop the Nibiru by any means necessary. Since I'm also a virus, that means I distort that programming to any interpretation I see fit."

Reynolds grumbled in anger. "You know, we couldn't boot up the Hijinx's main computer for two weeks after you left us? We ended up replacing it with Undine organics!"

---

As Menrow, Samya, McCary, Seifer and the group of Nibiru reached the cliffs at the edge of the forest, Samya was busy kicking a naked drakoulias off her mouth-engulfed foot. Everyone else dismounted their own beasts, elegantly.

"You're supposed to ride them, Captain," repeated Menrow.

Samya finally kicked her naked drakoulias away from her. "I'll do it my way; you do it yours!"

SPLASH! Suddenly, a giant red-bamboo like structure arose from the ocean, revealing a makeshift, home-made imitation Federation starship.

"This is a part of their ritual. Using their eidetic memory, they reconstructed the obese metal bubble bird that saved them from an erupting volcano, long ago," Seifer explained.

On its side, was labeled U.S.S. Enterprise. And to that, everyone gaped in shock!

"Wait. What? Is that supposed to be a Constitution-class starship??" Menrow asked. "It looks like a swollen mash-up of fan-boy perversion? The nacelles make no sense whatsoever!"

Samya stared at it. "It's possible the Nibiru got the details wrong?"

"Or, perhaps we are in an alternate reality," McCary added. "Which is more likely after passing through a black hole? Think about it!"

Menrow began to realize the odds which McCary was playing. He quickly turned to Seifer. "This is utter madness! High-octane adrenaline-runs? Giant, bulgy Starfleet ships?? We are in an alternate reality!"

"I suspected as much when we entered that singularity in perfect form," said Seifer. "But then again, we don't have the same detailed understanding of black holes we used to back in the early 21st century."

Samya interrupted, taking a fighting stance. "That's it! I'm cutting our losses, and taking these Nibiru-abominations out while we still can. I used to kill a lot, but alternate reality murder doesn't count. Right? It's on a heavily edited wiki somewhere, I'm sure."

"No! We do this every time; rejecting some random trope or mishap. We have to stop that cycle and instead embrace their hokey alternate thing for what it is: A confusing nonsensical hack job full of rehash-- similar to Task Force Epsilon, if one were to bring it back home," Menrow said, before turning to the Nibiru. "We are no different than you. An imitation reality can be reality itself. Complete your final ritual."

The group of Nibiru nodded and began a mental communication with the elders around the crystal, back in town. A giant shockwave of psionic energy blasted out from the crystal and through everyone, causing Seifer's sickness to recede.

"You knew they were going to cure you," Menrow turned to Seifer in understanding. "You had no intention of remaining here as their God."

Seifer nodded. "I John Harriman'd it; as in, I faked it till I made it. Only, I was more successful." Then, "Unfortunately, the only way to stop my crew's transformation was for the Nibiru to ritualistically cancel out their own abilities. For you, that means no more new Nibiru-brand micro-black holes."

"And no more destroying of our world either!" came Nune's mixed-upset response while Reynolds and Iviok pushed out a defeated Mayhem, approaching the group.

Mayhem grumbled. "What? I can't take five minutes to info dump without some alien native and two Starfleet Captains foiling me? You know everyone's a Fleet Admiral now, don't you? That doesn't make sense!"

"We caught Mayhem trying to destroy the planet using a Breen warm fusion device," Iviok reported. "Nune, here, let the best of greed get a hold of him as he's been using all this for a second goal to foothold power over his neighboring countries."

The First Leader nodded, humbly. "It's a lesson I am the first of my kind to learn. But, without OP mental abilities, our primary goal, the search for the true Great Bird, literally or thematically, will be more difficult than ever."

"And, as for myself, well, I gleaned a lesson about the ire's of sentient technology," Iviok stated. "So, that may be a No from me on holographic equal rights. Just, No."

Seifer stepped around to acknowledge the new arrivals, and Nune's intentions. "Even an alternate reality existence can go too far with its crutches into our Prime timeline. Whatever crazy, non-canon antics your Starfleet gets into, here, they're who you should be forcing an encounter with."

He then stopped and looked at the over-sized, imitation alternate reality Enterprise. He began to feel sick to his stomach again.

"Ugh. So ugly. How could they mess up something we so firmly established?" Seifer tapped his commbadge, quickly cutting off that thought. "Anyway, Seifer to crew. Seven to beam out!"

---

Later, with the Darkseid repaired, the Breen Chel Grett warship re-entered the portal back to the Prime universe and towed the paralyzed Phoenix-X back to the Azure sector. There, the disabled starships Crucial, Hijinx, Jenova, Dropzone and Tsunami were rescued from their orbiting gravity conglomeration threat.

"Well, with everything you've done, it's unlikely Starfleet will put you back in command of Task Force Epsilon any time soon," Menrow said to Seifer as the group of Captains stood in the Intrepid-class U.S.S. Crucial's briefing room.

Seifer nodded. "The price for my reset buttoning; a price I've paid before, only, this time, for less-selfish reasons. But, at least I've got two partly-working starships, and, like Sela, I didn't get arrested. That's fair, right?"

"Perhaps you should be the new task force commander, after all, Captain," Samya said, turning to Menrow, in response to Seifer. "A reality like what we just witnessed, or an over-the-top narrative, if you will, is not what I signed up for."

Then McCary spoke in a reassuring tone to her. "Captain Menrow will still need you by his side."

"Whoa!" reacted Reynolds as she and everyone turned their heads, for the first time, to behold a McCary who was now basically a fully transformed giant oval of multi-colored tribble fur.

McCary decided this gathering was the pristine opportunity he'd been waiting for, to make the announcement he was dreading for so long now. "Well, I suppose this is as good a time as any. Guys, I'm pregnant!"

Everyone looked at him in shock.

"Oh, yeah. That's the stuff," replied Seifer. "It's good to be back."