22.12.18

Ragnarok 1-5

The Deferi Powered-Man

The Pathfinder-class, with Discovery-class nacelles, U.S.S. Ragnarok drifted aimlessly in space, rotating endlessly for what seemed like all foreseeable time.

Captain Seifer, laced with fused rocks throughout his body, entered the Messhall and approached the replicator.

"One redbat stew, please," he requested before the bowl materialized and he took it to a table. His left hand was just a rock, causing him to accidentally smash the bowl when reaching for the spoon. "Ah, it's just as well. I heard this stuff was cancerous to non-Andorians."

Aramaki, Winry, and Moggs walked over and sat with the Captain. "Sir, some of the crew and I are worried about you," Aramaki said. "You refuse to reverse a transporter accident, you left the lights on in the Cargo Bay, and our entire payload of replicated chocolate has been depleted."

"What do I eat!? WHAT DO I EAT!??" screamed the Betazoid officer Cetra as she ran by.

Seifer looked impressed. "I'm glad when examples present themselves immediately following the set-up."

"On the other hand, we've been examining our scans of the Deferi Druid wall depictions," Moggs said, while taking out a PADD with their work. "They're just like two other Deferi planetoids, found in the last three centuries with similar depictions."

Seifer grabbed the PADD with his one good hand and examined the data. "This says these are Deferi breakfast menus. It's a recipe for a grey paste with no flavor whatsoever!"

"They're neutral in their foods. Is that surprising?" Winry asked. "Except the portions in these instructions are massive. More than one army of complacent doltish simpletons could ever eat."

The Captain put the PADD down. "The Deferi Powered-Man. All these ancient colonies, were somehow working together to supplicate this thing. Because they worshiped it?"

"Yep! Yep! Thoughts and prayers and paste! Yep!" came the excitement of Lieutenant Edwards as she sat down with a bowl of her own redbat stew and began sipping it.

Seifer panicked. "Edwards, no!"

"It's okay," interjected Doctor Cetra as she sat down with an open bag of coffee beans. "I regularly modify her DNA with Andorian so she can eat that."

The Captain sighed. "Ever since I messed things up by duplicating all those unnecessary Tomsins, I've been stressing about my missions going bad. Losing Marcel just solidified those fears and keeping my transporter accident was going to be my reminder. But seeing you guys come together now gives me hope." He stood up. "Let's find this thing."

"Hey guys, did we miss an impromptu meeting?" asked one of two Tomsins, approaching the table.

Seifer snapped at them. "Yes you did. You're relieved of duty!"

"Dammit, I told you we should've got our haircuts from that Bolian, second," one of the Tomsins said to the other.

The other felt his copy's head. "He's dead now."

---

Later, the Ragnarok approached a derelict, rogue planet, orbited by the Breen vessel Nokoda and the Deferi ship Sannaska.

"Both vessels are completely empty, sir," reported Aramaki from tactical.

Moggs checked his PADD. "It would seem the Breen and the Deferi came to the same conclusion we did. The locations of each wall inscription were pointing to a world in this vicinity."

"Everything is constantly moving in this galaxy," countered Cetra. "How did you extrapolate celestial history without knowing exact dates?"

The Science officer Moggs just shrugged. "Eh, I just pointed randomly at the map. Starfleet! Am I right?"

No one answered him.

"I'm right."


---

A now whole-Seifer, Aramaki, Moggs and Winry beamed down to a large, underground cavern with enormous sections of lower-level areas: One side filled with Breen soldiers and the other Deferi.

"Here are all the lifeforms we detected," said Aramaki as he scanned with his tricorder. "I just love scanning for lifeforms."

The Captain shook his head in disapproval when Aramaki looked at him for permission to sing. Meanwhile, a Breen away team and a Deferi away team on the same upper level as them, hurried over.

"Hold it right there," said the Deferi leader Cassen as he aimed a phaser at them. "Yes, that's right. We have taken a not-neutral stance, and we are not fainting as one would think."

Winry crossed her arms. "You're using Osmotic eels, aren't you? They cure anything."

"Pretty much all of us are," Cassen replied. "As you can see, we have the situation under control."

But the Breen commander, Kovan, felt otherwise. "SKKZZTTkktt!"

"Well, except for them," the Deferi seceded. "You see, you were supposed to take out the Breen and get them out of the way for us."

Seifer tilted his head. "You lied to us Cassen. You used us!"

"I'm pretty sure I just admitted to that," he said. "That you're here now suggests a meddling of unexpected proportions."

The Captain shrugged. "That's pretty much our unspoken philosophy. As for you, it's apparent now that all you wanted to do is bring back your Deferi Powered-Man. But it didn't work out the way you'd have hoped, did it?"

"Some mechanism in this cave transported all of our crews off our ships and into these chambers after we triggered one of the traps here," Cassen admitted. "A force field of some kind prevents us from freeing them."

Suddenly, the entirety of Seifer's crew were transported into an open lower-area section, much to his surprise. "What!? But we didn't trigger any traps?"

"Oh, that's just going to keep happening with any ship that approaches," the Deferi replied. "There are sections for crews for the whole planet. Who knows why?"

Aramaki turned to him. "What's the point of all this? Why bring back some ancient behemoth?"

"Because I'm tired of being the neutral species with no power what-so-ever. It's opened us up for bullying by the Breen and any species that comes by! Seriously, even the Pakleds. They made us dress them??"

Kovan added, "KKrrTTjjjvvvvVVt!"

"He says he just wants power," Cassen translated. "Man, that's one dimensional. Get with the character development, Kovan."

Seifer walked over to a giant stone circle embedded into the side of the cave, appearing to be ancient with engravings and movable sections. "This is how you get him, isn't it? The Deferi Powered-Man?"

"Precisely. But any wrong move, and we could lose everyone," Cassen said. "Not that I care about what happens to the Breen. Hah! This taking-sides thing is giving me an adrenaline rush!"

The Captain pointed to some engraved pictographs. "According to these depictions, rotating these stone parts a certain way will open the forcefields."

"Sir, are you sure about this?" questioned Moggs. "You could literally lose your whole crew! Or duplicate them. I'm sure either scenario is as plausible."

Seifer shook his head. "No, but I can't let that possibility hold me back anymore. I'll make quadruple Tomsins if it means we progress in some way."

"I recognize these engravings. They're the recipes found on the other worlds," Aramaki said in surprise. "We can align them to match the layouts of the other cave inscriptions."

Nodding, Seifer replied, "Make it so."

As the group of three away teams got to work, rotating the interior circles to line up properly, Seifer, Cassen and Kovan took a step back to get a wider view of their progress.

"This is it! We will finally have some gravitas!" belted Cassen. "This is what I was thinking: The Breen gets him Mondays and Tuesdays, the Federation gets him Wednesdays and Thursdays, and we Deferi get him the rest of the week. What do you think?"

Kovan agreed. "FFVVVKKRRTT!"

"Hold on a second," interrupted Seifer. "Those rectangle engravings we just rotated represent the areas our crews are in. They appear below the main creature figure."

Cassen tugged his elongated alien ear. "Huh. It looks like... it's eating them?"

VVVRRRRTTTT!!! came the loud noise of the cave as the stone circle was complete. The entire area shook while the circle moved to the side to reveal a giant 20-foot creature within. It began to move, restlessly.

"Our crews are its meal!" Cassen realized.

Seifer took out his phaser and aimed it at the giant being. "Those areas are probably where your people put your boring grey paste. Only, the one ingredient it was missing was people."

"Haaa! People are food. I like it," said Aramaki. "Oh, but not right now."

The enormous creature stepped out and prompted the away teams to scatter. "RRRRRAAAAAAOOOORRRRR!!!!" came its piercing scream while it flung its fists into the ground, smashing into the floor.

"Open fire. We have to destroy that living piece of history!" Captain Seifer commanded. "Oh man. The Federation Historical Society is going to kill me."

The Breen complied, but the Deferi held back.

"Don't!" Cassen ordered his people. "We must remain neutral until it is in our power once again. Sure, our crews will die, but they have been trained to have no reactions either way when being eaten."

The Deferi Powered-Man moved to the force fielded sections with the crews inside and began smashing his large fists, draining the power of the fields with each attack.

"I have an idea," Seifer said, snapping his fingers. "Can we replicate an equivalent portion of Ancient Deferi grey paste and beam it down here?"

Moggs began running the calculations on his PADD. "That would require all the Ragnarok's replicators running at once until all decks were flooded with that gobbledy-gook!"

"Did I say 'make it so' yet? I think I did. But it's such a good one. I'll have to write Picard a 'thank you' note, wherever he is, whatever he's doing. They should make a series about that. I'd call it Make it So."

---

Suddenly, aboard the U.S.S. Ragnarok, all the replicators were activated remotely and began spewing out grey food-paste, non-stop. The paste poured out of everyone's quarters and onto the decks.


---

Meanwhile, sections of the grey paste began beaming down into the cavern, catching the Deferi Powered-Man's attention and causing him to stop smashing the forcefields.

"GGGrrggg!!!"

It turned and ran off toward a lower-level section where the paste was filling up from transports, and fell in face-first.

"Oh no," worried Winry as she tapped frantically at her own PADD. "The ship is producing more grey, boring content than we asked it to. One of the algorithms must be clogged in a redundant unofficial literary code net!"

Seifer turned to her. "Are you making this an analogy thing? What the hell? Don't do that!"

"It's too late," said Aramaki as he pointed to the giant pool of grey paste the large creature was previously revelling in. "The Powered-Man is drowning!"

Cassen stepped forward. "No! My return-to-inaction has wrought terrible consequences!"

"VVVffffKkrrRttkk," agreed Kovan.

Everyone watched as the giant creature choked and died on its own gluttony.

The Breen away team opened fire upon the forcefields covering each of the crews until the energy barriers were depleted. All the Breen then transported back up to their ship to go home.

"I guess the Breen stopped being interested after the opportunity for power was gone," Seifer postulated. "A hard-learned lesson for all of us about motivation."

Cassen looked at him. "What are you talking about? We already could predict their actions! That's how one-dimensional they were!"

"Well, then the Breen lesson is that losing someone like Marcel leads to terrible replacements," concluded the Captain.

The non-neutral Deferi leader grumbled as he walked away to tend to his people. Meanwhile, the now-free crew of the Ragnarok began beaming back to the paste-filled ship to open all the bay doors.

"And what's our lesson, Captain?" Moggs said turning to him.

Seifer thought for a moment. "That death accompanies all things from the ancient past, because that's how we got things done back then."

"Yeah, we're much more civilized now," agreed Winry. "Tea earl grey hot is the Federation's intergalactic drink now."

Aramaki put his PADD away. "And what of the 'mission,' sir?"

"The mission to seek out old life and murder it? Yes, that will continue, especially since I have one of the most effective Bridge crews in the fleet," confirmed Captain Seifer. "You should've saw my last crew. They were obsessed with fizzbin for some reason."

Winry put her hands on her hips. "You mean that group of officers you put in our Brig? They were still on the ship when we filled it with paste."

"Hm. Hopefully they're still alive. Either way, everything else relevant is resolved here. Let's leave and not acknowledge that we'll be establishing a Federation presence in this cavern, because the details after the situation never really matter."

The group nods.

"Seifer to Ragnarok. Let's get out there and seek out old life and old civilizations. Let's boldly go where many ancient peoples have abandoned before."

The comm reply from Cetra rang through the air. "Captain, we're all drowning in grey boring paste up here! Don't come up! Don't!"

"Too late. I activated the transport remotely, thus eliminating someone's job," he countered, tapping his commbadge.

Seconds later, the Away Team beamed up and into a mucky, unresolved situation. The U.S.S. Ragnarok drifted aimlessly in space, rotating endlessly for what would likely be all foreseeable time.

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