1.6.14

Literary 3

Literary Challenge #64: The New Frontier: Challenge #2

The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X held a tractor beam to the Ferengi marauder Jade Fox over a vast, unexplored planet in the Delta Volanis Cluster.

"How dare you launch several hackneyed, variant-Genesis torpedoes into this planet's atmosphere," pointed tactical officer Armond, who stood up from the Captain's chair.

On screen, DiaMon Cide crossed his arms, unequivocally, "Hey, I'm under a lot of pressure as the next CEO of Slug-o-Cola. I need to convert as much organic matter into algae as possible!"

"Now that we're here, do you mind if I ask a few Ferengi questions? Like, what is with kissing the staff with the creepy head? You do know it's not a real person, right?"

---

Meanwhile, an away team of Seifer, Kayl, Lox and Kugo scoured the planet, below, with tricorder readings at the edge of algae-converted land.

"Who are we to interfere in Ferengi affairs anyway?" Operations officer Lieutenant Kayl asked, while scanning.

Captain Seifer stopped and closed his device, "Well, you could've brought that up before we tractor beamed him. Remember when I said 'Options' and everyone started twiddling their thumbs?"

"I believe our answer was clear," Chief engineer Kugo interrupted, "when the crew started humming the theme to Data's 'Lifeforms' song. Cide had no regard for the possibility of intelligent life on this planet, or any, in his operations."

Seifer shook his head, "Intelligent life is the worst."

"Fascinating," Lox commented as he threw several rocks into the algae, where they all bounced and landed on top of each other in eerie, perfect order, "It appears I have discovered something eye-brow raise worthy."

Kugo stopped him from throwing another, "Doctor, we must not engage in mystery investigation. We have far too many side missions in our queue as it is."

"That's because we got verily click-happy in our Available Missions tab," Lox replied.

Kayl closed her tricorder, "Captain Aeris of the Zephyra never gets these lame-o tasks. Not to mention, she slept with three aliens last week."

"Really? That's the kind of Captain you want me to be?" Seifer deadpanned.

Kayl shrugged, "Well you aren't advancing diplomatic tiers any time soon."

Suddenly, a few large explosions through the daylight sky turned their attention upwards. "Phoenix-X to Captain Seifer," came Armond's voice over the comm, "Cide's starboard hull exploded from unstable torpedoes. We pulled his ship to safety, but explosions continued in the area we evacuated and now an anomalous spacial disturbance is growing in place."

"Armond," Seifer tapped his commbadge to respond, "That was really great narration."

There was a pause, and then the sound of a tearful: "Thank you, sir. That... that means so much to me..."

"Are you two done?" Kayl tapped her commbadge, "That anomaly is going to interfere with this atmosphere! Need I remind you that many atmospheres are our breathing apparatuses?"

Armond's voice snapped out of it in time to dismiss her, "Oh, like you know anomalies." There was another pause as the phenomenon grew in size, "Ah! An anomaly! --Hastily beaming you out now."

"Very well," Seifer nodded, "After all, all the best dematerializations are done in haste."

Everyone nodded in agreement before transporting occurred in twos: Lox and Kugo were beamed out first, then Seifer and Kayl entered into transport.

---

But when the last two appeared on the transporter padd, they found themselves exactly where they expected to be-- on their ship!

"What the hell is going on here??" Seifer looked around in shock. A second later, he realized there was nothing odd about being on the ship, as expected. "Oh, sorry. I guess I just got a little excited."

Kayl pointed to the transporter operator, who appeared to be the female version of who was meant to be standing there, "Uh, you forgot to look hence-wise."

The female officer swung out a phaser at them, "Hold it right there, you intruders!"

"We're not the intruders; you're the intruder," Kayl argued.

The officer paused for a moment, to consider it, but quickly became sly to Kayl's silver-tongued ways, "Ahhh, nice try. You thought perhaps you could combat a misunderstanding with another misunderstanding. Well, those kinds of conflicts create mental super novas."

The doors swished open and in walked the male version of Lieutenant Kayl: Lieutenant Kyle.

"Oh, ugh!!" Seifer recoiled.

---

Later, Seifer, Kayl and Kyle met privately in the Conference room of the Phoenix-X under armed guards.

"As I said," Seifer continued, "I'm sooooo sorry about my initial reaction to your face. It was completely inappropriate and brutally truthful."

Suddenly, the female version of Armond, Amanda, entered the Conference room to the sight of Seifer and Kayl, "Ah! Yuck! No!" She quickly readjusted her demeanor upon realization, "I mean, why are our decalithium radioactive pulses not reverting you to your basic creepy, bug-like forms?"

"We're not Undine. We're from a parallel universe," Kayl explained.

Seifer recoiled again, "Lens flares!?" He looked around in panic and then stopped, "Dammit; second time this month I did that."

"Rather than indulge in rational cause and effect, I suggest preferred accepting of regular quantum reality shifts as a characteristic subject to our exploits," Kayl offered.

Seifer looked at her, "You're lucky that this is the future and it's normal for people to talk like that."

"Wait. Quantum reality? You're riding the coattails of Worffina, Son of Monga's Enterprise-D quantum fissure, parallel universe travels!" Amanda exclaimed.

Kayl nodded, "Indeed. Her excursion-- his, in our universe-- was the last original outside-of-the-box adventure left in existence. All dimensional displacements afterward were unavoidable rip-offs."

"We brought you two up here because our Brig was full of Benkarans, but now I see we should have vapourized you immediately."

Suddenly, the ship's power drained drastically, causing the lights to flicker and the gravity plating to jolt everyone off their footing. Amanda and Kyle scrambled out to the Bridge, prompting Seifer and Kayl to follow.

---

On screen, the spacial anomaly flung out bands of energy as the nearby Ferengi marauder Jade Fox fed a deflector beam into it.

"A sporadic dose of omicron particles have knocked our engines offline, and not theirs, and now, for us, there's no way out of here!" Kyle reported quickly.

Seifer turned to him, "All that I'm getting from your direction is 'blah-dy blah, blah, look at meeeee'."

"By the manly beard of Mirror Uhuro," Amanda cursed in fear as she stared at the viewer, "We'd been trying to scan that anomaly for the past ten minutes, but the Ferengi own half this solar system and wouldn't let us get near it."

The female version of Ensign Dan, an Ensign Danni, turned from the helm very quickly, "If you must know, they won the area in a tongo game from a pair of Ornithoid lifeforms."

"Ahh! Oh! Ugh," Seifer tried to cover his eyes, "Sorry, it's just that I wasn't expecting to see you in this universe."

Ensign Danni stood up, "You, sir, are as offending as the Enterprise-C. I'm relieving myself from duty!"

"Is she gone?" Seifer slowly uncovered his eyes and looked around. "Oh good."

Amanda fearfully pushed Seifer aside and stepped forward at the view screen, "Phoenix-X to Ferengi vessel-- please stop your space-poking at once!"

The screen clicked on to a view of a towering female Ferengi, DiaMon Cida, "You don't give me orders, Humaaan! I'm the head of Slug-o-Cola, the largest conglomerate in Ferengi history; I own fleets of marauders, cruisers and modified casino ships: all of which are loaded with lobi-laced rapid fire missiles inexorably tied to latinum-plated tachyon mines!"

"All we have right now is the Gekli non-combat pet," Kyle reported from tactical.

Cida slammed her fist into the arm of her chair, "The point is I can do whatever I want, any time I want, and right now, thanks to your arrogance, I want to continue my actions until your ship explodes!"

The screen then blinked off and returned its previous view.

"Wait; the Ferengi are a female dominated society? How does that work?" Seifer scratched the back of his head in confusion.

Amanda nodded, "Better than you just so rudely insinuated-- You see, because women run the Alliance, the Ferengi are the most efficiently powerful species in the Alpha Quadrant. Actually, during the Dominion War, the Jem'Hadaire were a close second. Oh, how I envy their birthing chamber practices."

Kayl crossed her arms, "It doesn't matter; some Ferengi make such arrogant rich people! Last week, our universes' DiaMon Cide purchased a crate-load of spherical law-of-probability gambling devices; you know, the kind that were once used on Deep Space 9, during that racquetball match that everyone couldn't shut up about?"

"Our Deep Space 9 became a wasteland for ketracel white addicts," Amanda countered hopelessly as she slumped into the Captain's chair, "Thus eliminating one quarter of our other-Starfleet crew case studies-- If you're wondering, the NX-01 Enterprise doesn't count."

Another wave of super-charged omicron particles suddenly hit the Phoenix-X, surging power and blowing control panels.

Seifer climbed himself up against the Bridge's side rail in delayed realization, "Dammit! Cide used those law-of-probability devices to modify his genesis torpedoes, assuredly leading us into the least probable universe to ever exist."

"Talk about a weapons buff-- or is that a nerf?" Kayl commented.

Seifer walked over to Amanda, dispiritedly, "If only time had no meaning here and I could go to the mountain top on Veridian III-- That place has always been my dream escape from all this; and it's surely a spot where Captain's are safe from danger and--"

"Not all Commanding officer's are ensured safety," Amanda surmised half-heartedly, "Our's is below decks, sick from drinking Slug-o-Cola in a failed attempt to impress DiaMon Cida. You see, I can't give you any advice, Seifer; I'm not a Captain with command experience," she paused, "But I bet I know someone who can..."

---

As Seifer entered Holodeck 3, Lieutenant Commander Amanda's departing words continued in his mind: "And from her point of view, she just got here too..."

In awe, Seifer approached a woman chopping wood in the side yard of a mountain top cottage, in the Alps, "Seifer... Nikki T. Seifer," he said to himself.

"Beautiful day," she stated whilst continuing her chopping.

The male Seifer slowly approached, "Yes, it certainly is."

"Would you mind?" The female Seifer indicated to a pile of unchopped logs.

Catching on quickly, "Oh," he picked one up and put it in place for her. "Captain, I'm wondering, do you realize--"

"--Hold on a minute," she distractedly interrupted, "Do you smell something burning?"

Pointing quickly, he said, "Yeah, do you realize your house is on fire?"

"Dammit!" She dropped her axe to face the developing disaster, of which her holographic Great Dane was barking at. "Computer, delete house and dog." When they disappeared, she turned to face her male counterpart, "Sorry, that Slug-o-Cola did a number on my egg-frying focus. Chopping wood usually makes me feel better, despite it being the worst activity anyone could ever want to do."

Seifer tilted, "Do you even realize your ship is in danger?"

"I'm too critically compromised to command. Trust me; my actual appearance is being covered up by photons and force fields. You do not want to see how I actually look right now. It's gross. Like, really, really disgusting. Take what you're imagining right now and times that by ten. I got the holography idea from the Talosians," she assured, "Besides, the Phoenix-X has served its purpose as the Federation's transwarp network test ship-- granted, we did hastily run through twenty-five Phoenix-ships to get here, but we can't allow Captain's to get bored for one second."

She slowly collapsed in exhaustion from her illness and energy expenditure, and the male Seifer tried to help her down easy.

"Just let me go, Seifer," she continued, "I don't have any advice for you. My only regret is that I was never the Captain I should have been."

He watched as she closed her eyes slowly, "I will let you go," he replied, "and I'll notify your family personally-- no matter how offensive my appearance will be."

"What? I'm not dying," she snapped, "I'm just passing out for a few hours. Different thing! This isn't an epic tale, you know; everything doesn't have to be dark."

---

Entering the Bridge, the male Captain Seifer saw nothing but fear and horror in the gender-inverse crew, and he knew he had to do what his female counterpart tried to do when she drank the Ferengi beverage.

"I'm taking command of this ship," he took the chair, "What do you guys think of the name Nightingale?"

The male version of Kugo, Kojo, spoke up, "Unfortunately, after Harriet Kim misused it, that name was banned everywhere for any reason."

"AAHH!" Seifer fell off his chair at the sight of Kojo. "Okay, you have to take a station behind me-- Just... just don't be in my peripheral vision."

He quickly hailed the Jade Fox and Cida blinked on screen. "YOU PITIFUL HUMAAANNS are quite liberal with your communication technology, aren't you? That's annoying to people. Not just me-- All kinds of aliens you encounter. We hate it. We've all spoken about that and agree."

Seifer stepped forward, "DiaMon Cida, don't make us all suffer death from your bountiful wealth. It's far too abundant and impressive for our impoverished lifestyles to handle."

"Nice try with the passive flattery, but Ferengi thrive on that kind of manipulation," Cida smirked. "How do you think we sold the Bajorans to the Cardassians?"

The Captain's jaw dropped, "That was you??"

"Of course! There's always a sinister, unforgiving motive behind all galactic events: the Hobus star, the Changeling morphogenic virus, Leeto and Ram. --Well, my assistant is giving me the 'wrap-up' sign. Time to die. Sorry about the short notice---"

So, this was it. The end of the line and Seifer knew it. There was nothing else he could have said to change the tides. He gave it his best effort, and failed miserably. Hopefully, some history database, somewhere, would remember him as a good Captain... a semi-competent one who at least stuck to his values.

"--I'll go out with you!" Seifer reached out his hand quickly.

Suddenly, everyone stopped what he or she were doing and turned to look at him.

"You mean, like, a date?" Cida found herself stumped as well.

Seifer nodded, half-sure of his not-so-though-out impulse, "Y-- yes."

"Hmm," Cida paused to consider this. "I've never actually spoken to a clothed male in person before. There's something... interesting about that."

It was all he could take to hold in his sickly shudder, "Yy... yes... 2100 hours?"

"A male with a dominant attitude? Is that even possible? I shall have to see this with my own eyes!"

As the screen clicked off, the crew turned to look at Seifer in utter shock. They had only heard of this kind of behavour from the history books, dating all the way back to the exploits of Captain Jane Tiberia Kirk.

"Finallyyyy," Kayl sighed, "You'd better do a good job."

Seifer shook his head, "I hope I don't regret this. In distraction-- and I need a distraction right now; like, anything, DUDE, ANYTHING-- I believe that this anomaly is controlling the laws of probability through neutrinos."

"Captain, I have an idea. We may be able to modify the deflector dish to extend a neutrino field over the energy expulsion," Kayl postulated--

--Catching on quick, Seifer spoke with Kayl, in unison: "--If we control the neutrinos, we control the anomaly."

"Yes, sir," Kayl finished in shock.

The Captain smiled, "Miss Kayl, you're a clever woman... in any time period."

Kayl just shrugged, assuming that was a reference to something and got to work with her doppelganger.

---

At 2100 hours, the Phoenix-X's Type-11 shuttlecraft Haruko was docked aboard the Jade Fox. Seifer was already in Cida's quarters, at her dinner table, going on, and on.

".......And so, as mentally disturbed people, they horrifyingly replaced my old Trill symbiont with an evil symbiont-- the Seifer symbiont. Now, flash-forward to six years later, when a Srivani scientist gets her hands on it and---"

The story change was enough of a break to interrupt, "--Enough! I don't want to hear any more of your stupid exploits. They're significantly awful and therefore should be completely dismissed!"

"But I haven't even gotten to the time traveling? Surely I was the first?"

Cida slammed her fists into the table, "Just get off my ship! Get off!"

"--Phoenix-X to Captain Seifer," Kayl's voice came in through the comms. "We've contained the anomaly with the neutrino field. Are you ready to beam back to our universe?"

Seifer replied, "Not yet," and he turned to Cida, "So, can I call you?"

"AUGGGH!" She got up and threw her tube grubs at him as he dematerialized.

---

In a moment, Seifer was transported back aboard the Phoenix-X of his prime universe-- evidenced by the recognizable transporter operator at the controls.

"Welcome back, Captain," the male Ensign said. "You were gone for a while, but I'm not one to ask questions; my wife likes me home by 1700."

Kayl stood next to Seifer on the padd and looked at him inquisitively, "We were able to reverse the probability effect. In a few minutes, our counterparts will use the field to dissipate it, regain their warp drive and get the hell out of there," she paused, "So, how'd it go on your end?"

"She completely rejected me, despite the fact I was being myself?" Seifer said in disbelief.

Kayl rolled her eyes, "You mean you didn't even make it to first base?" She sighed, "Well, at least you took the first step toward a more open Captaining style. Even though it wasn't Captain Kirk status, you got the general idea."

He paused, for a moment, to consider it.

"Hey, what happened to Lox and Kugo?" she asked.

Suddenly, the two in question materialized on the platform next to them. Their expressions: exhausted, and their clothes: tattered and burned.

"We made it?" Lox said in surprise. "We made it! Ha!"

Kayl turned, "Where'd you go?"

"The universe where the Borg took over the Federation. We murdered soooo many of our counterparts, and even a couple of innocent by-standers just so we could get back here," Kugo explained.

Seifer turned to her, deadpanned, "That.... shouldn't have happened," and then he turned to everyone, strictly, "None of this should have happened! The Ferengi of that universe obviously didn't pass the gender-equality laws the Ferengi have in ours, and do you know why that is?"

His crew was hesitant to respond.

"Because of this," he gestured to everything behind him, representing the entire cosmos, "This is the prime universe! We've invested so much into it, developed it, and grew it like a complex real life thought-experiment-baby-- Anything else is just a rehashed, hackneyed, rebooted escapade."

Lox raised his hand, "Does that include the Mirror Universe? They're like our universe's hard-to-get love interest."

"No; of course not. In fact, I encourage more visits to the Mirror Universe," he turned to the transporter operator, "Belm, send us there immediately to help me prove my point."

Belm nervously hesitated, "But sir, don't you need to do things here??"

"Don't argue with me! Transport now!"

The operator began working quickly to implement the trans-dimensional device he just happened to have that day, "Yes, sir, right away," and in a visual, particle-frenzy, the four were off to the Mirror Universe.