By Aris Merquoni
Riker's voice: These are the journals of the starship Enterprise as she meanders her way through plot contrivance after plot contrivance on an endless journey, to find new warp integer speeds and break new laws of physics, to give poor makeup men jobs by contriving new 'alien' species, and to meekly persue where every bad b-movie has trampled before.
I'm not going to put in today's Stardate, or even 'Captain's Log,' for one thing because I'm not the captain of the Enterprise, and for another thing this isn't even the log. It's not even really a journal, just an ongoing compisition of my thoughts into a recorder.
I guess you could say that all the trouble started with a normal patrol of the Romulan-Starfleet Neutral Zone...
Neutral Zone, hah. I thought. The Romulans have complete control, and the Fleet knows it. The only reason that we haven't given it up completley is because of the Fleet colonies in there. The Fleet hates giving up property.
We hadn't been able to do anything the last time a Romulan warship had gone parading around in full battle mode, except double the watch. That's why we were out here in the first place, not to answer help signals from a colony in trouble from some unknown alien menace.
"That's the fourth 'unknown alien menace' we've had this season," I muttered under my breath as I watched the data scroll in the viewscreen. "Wonder if this time it's just last week's alien menace wearing a funny hat?" Captian Picard glanced at me sideways, but refused to comment. He probably thought that I was insane, but fortunatley Deanna hadn't found anything wrong with my mind after the... malfunction with the holodeck, and I could keep my position. For now, at least.
Maybe it was a delusion. Maybe I was losing my mind. I rubbed the ring on my thumb, the invisible ring. Maybe not. You can't bring objects out of the holodeck and have them stay real for any period of time. Water, sometimes, but not for long, and not metal. And certainly not something that's stayed real for... has it been four weeks already?
There was a frantic beeping. Captain Picard tapped his badge to answer the 'call.' "Picard here," he barked.
"Captain, we've got some strange energy signals coming from the warp core down in Engineering. Could you come have a look?"
"That has to be the twelfth time that they've used that plot device this season," I muttered again. And why tell the Captain to come down there? If something blows up, he'll go up with it.
Picard glanced my way again, and this time he did comment. "Commander, are you all right?"
"Perfectly fine, Captain." The only sane person in this madhouse, actually.
"Right." He glanced at me sideways again. "You'd better tag along, Number one." Oh, great, have both commanding officers in the deadly radiation. "Worf, you have the bridge." And a triggerhappy Klingon in command who'll shoot the Romulans before explaining the situation to them. Great plan, Captain Jean-Luc-French-with-British-accent-Picard.
I reluctantly followed Picard to the turbolift and down to Engineering. I knew that whatever the radiation was, it wouldn't do any irreparable damage - it might kill 'Ensign Youngblood', the blue-shirted guy that showed up at a tactical station once in a while - but it wouldn't hurt any of us. I hoped.
We got to Engineering and saw the warp core glowing white. Very white. Jesus Christ, how many times have I seen that? And why is it always the Core glowing? Why can't it just be some of the consoles? And... Holy shit! What's that?
'That' was someone, a young woman by the look of it, tumbling out of the white glow. In a few seconds the glow shut off as if someone had shut off a lightswitch, leaving a young woman in a Starfleet outfit laying on the gunmetal deck.
I blinked the reflections of the light out of my eyes. The woman - a girl, really - was still laying unconcious on the floor. There was a note pinned to her uniform - a full lieutenant's uniform, actually - and I bent down to read it.
"We don't want her - you deal with her." I read. Catching the signature, I turned up to Picard. "It's your signature, Captain." Oh, great. We have another paralell universe thread. Not to mention an alien monster cliche. And the weird energy signal cliche. Damn, this is Trek plot device night, isn't it?
Picard frowned. "What could be so bad about one girl that would make me, in another timeline, send her away?" Sheesh. The paralell timeline gag's been used so often that even they aren't startled by it! That is sad. I hear the faint sound of Gene Roddenbury spinning in his grave...
The girl stirred and woke up. She blinked and looked at us, confused, then regained her composure. "Hello," she stated. "I am Lieutenant Marrissa Amber Flores Picard, Commanding officer, Kid's Crew, USS Enterprise, Princess of Essex. Am I in the other dimension?"
I blinked. Oh... kay. What is this, a sick joke? She can't be more than fifteen, and you can't get into Starfleet Academy until you're a legal citizen. And what's this whole 'Kids Crew' thing? And... she knows that she's in another dimension. I looked her over again. First things first. She looks hurt from sprawling like that, and we ought to get her to sickbay.
"We should get you to sickbay before we talk," I said, voicing my thoughts. Let Bev deal with you. I want to stay as far away from this plot device as I can.
The girl jumped to her feet and shook her head. "No, I'm perfectly fine. Where's my assignment?"
I tried to blink back surprise, and failed. "Assignment?" I asked aloud. Who the hell does this person think she is?
"Yes, assignment," she said primly. I wanted to punch her. "I happen to be a fully qualified lieutenant, as well as the commanding officer in Kid's Crew, and a princess of Essex." Big news, kid, you said that just a minute ago. None of us have faulty memories. "I wish to take up a station here on the Enterprise." Yeah, right. You have to be ordered here, not just volunteer. We can't just pick up people, especially when we're already on a mission.
"I'm sorry," Picard said, rather kindly I thought, "We're on a mission right now, and we can't take on extra personell. Besides," he continued, "you're too young."
Marrissa frowned. "I have a Kobiyashi Maru time of 21:33," she said, as if this made all the difference in the world.
I stood up, projecting 'Perfect Parade-ground Posture' and smugness. "I'm sorry," I said gently, though I wanted to wring the twit's neck, "the Kobiyashi Maru test isn't timed."
She frowned at me. "Yes it is."
I shook my head. "No, it's not. Now, you seem to have a very large concussion, so let's take you to sick bay." And restrain you there until we blow up the 'evil' aliens. Sheesh, this day has sucked so far.
She frowned at me. "You displease me, mortal."
"Say what?" I asked, shocked. "Are you a Q or something?"
"No, I'm not a Q," she said, but I'll work on getting there next story." She grinned, and I knew. She knows, too. She knows all about this, and she knows that we're just the product of a writer's imagination somewhere. And what's more, she knows the writer! But how can that be...
Waaaaaaait a minute. She was tossed dimensions, right? What if she's not where she thinks she is, what if we have a different writer? What if that writer... but it's too early to make assumptions.
-=# No, it's not. But that's okay. #=-
I nearly jumped out of my skin, but managed to not do any more than twitch. What the...
-=# Oh, don't mind me. #=-
Ohh... kay. I frowned patronizingly at Marrissa. "It seems like that fall did something to your head. Let's get you to sickbay..."
She turned and pulled 'bambi eyes' on Captain Picard. "Father, are you going to let him talk to me like that?"
"FATHER?!" Yelled half the crew, startled. The others were too shocked to speak.
She frowned again. "In the other dimension, you adopted me when my parents were killed on a mission to save the Enterprise C."
I scratched my head in puzzlement. "The Enterprise C is sitting in drydock... in a museum orbiting Mars. We didn't need to save it."
She was aghast. "You didn't? Then how did I get to take command of the Enterprise's saucer section?"
"You did what?!" The entire crew was yelling at her, now.
Marrissa frowned. "I took command with the Kid's crew. We beat the Cardassian ship trying to take over Earth, too."
I held up my hands. "Woah, woah, woah. We've been at peace with the Cardassians for... for a few years, at least." Tenuous peace, but it's true. Technically. "And... did you say ship? As in, ship, singular? Thirdly, how the hell do kids piloting the saucer section beat a Cardassian warship?!"
She glared at me. "Never doubt me, Commander."
I smiled at her, nastily. "And don't try to bull-" I got an ahem from Picard, "- err, lie to me, Lieutenant. How the hell'd you earn that at age... let me guess, you're fifteen?"
She grinned at me. "I'm thirteen."
I rubbed my temples. "Captain, permission to remove so-called Lieutenant Marrissa 'Picard' to Sickbay for cranial analysis?
"Permission granted, Number One."
The girl's eyes bugged out. "You can't do this to me! I'm a princess! You can't put a princess under custody! I want my command!!"
The tirade continued until I had dragged her to sickbay, where Bev took one look at her and injected a sedative. "Okay," she asked me, "who's this little terror? And what's she doing in a Starfleet uniform? She can't be more than fifteen."
"According to her," I said as I dumped Marrissa on a bed, "she's thirteen."
Bev gave me an incredulous look. "Oh, really?"
I nodded. "Also according to her, she's already taken command of the Enterprise and is a princess. Oh yeah, and she's Captain Picard's adopted daughter." At her continued incredulity, I shrugged. "She's from an alternate timeline, so it might be true, but I thought you should check for bumps on the head."
She nodded and reverted to 'Starfleet professional doctor' mode, pulling out a tricorder and scanning the prone girl's head. "Well, there's no damage... just an inflated-" and then something in latin that I couldn't understand.
"An inflated what?" I asked.
She smirked. "It's the part of the brain containing the ego."
I blinked, then grinned, but Marrissa started to come around before I could reply. She took one look at me and ordered, "Take me to my station. Now."
I glanged at Bev, hoping that I could sneak out. "Sorry to leave you with this kid, but..."
I wasn't so lucky. "Unh-unh. If you think that you're going to get out of here and leave me to take care of her, think again."
The next hour or so was spent trying to convince Marrissa that she was not, in fact, the center of the universe. We weren't succesful. Finally Bev tranked her again, and let me get back to my post.
Captain Picard glanced my way as I walked onto the bridge. "How is our... guest?"
I groaned slightly. "Medical science has proved that she has an inflated ego."
He smirked. "You don't need medical science to prove that."
I nodded, smirking slightly as well. Was it me, or were people on the ship showing more personality?
-=# It's just you. #=-
Damn, that's getting annoying. I sighed silently. "How long until we reach the colony... what's it called again?"
"Hotel Whiskey?" The... hell? What sort of a name is 'Hotel Whiskey' for a colony? "Data?" Come on, Captain, I want a rough estimate, not accurate to nine decimal places!
"Exactly 632.456388492 minutes until orbit," the android replied. Okay, I take back my earlier comment. They still have the personalities of hydrogen particles. No, hydrogen particles at least know how to have a good time.
-=# Thank you. #=-
Bloody 'ell, as one might say in Ye Olde England. Who is that? I didn't get a response, so I tried to forget the whole thing. I wasn't very successful.
"So, since we have ten hours," I said, roughing out Data's response, "Can I get some shuteye and report in before we reach orbit?" I suddenly remembered that I hadn't had a break in 46 hours. Hmm. It seems that I only get a break when I ask for one. I'll have to remember that - wait a second. Why am I not tired? Must be the triple serving of Jolt that I drank before last coming on duty.
"Good idea, Number One." I shivered, getting Monty Python flashbacks, and resisted the urge to yell, "'course it's a good idea!"
I went back to my quarters to sleep for a few hours, and fortunatley there were no huge evil space aliens attacking the Enterprise in the time that I was off duty. I entered the bridge in time for a few hours of boredom.
Only... the boredom didn't last very long. After thirty minutes Bev was literally being dragged onto the bridge... by Marrissa. Picard raised an eyebrow in a Spock-like expression at the forced entry. Beverly could only shrug.
"Give me my command," the glaring teenager said. "I'm a lieutenant, and this is an active vessel. As I have not been declared inactive personell, I must have an active station on this ship!" And where did she get that load of drek? Plot holes 101? 1001 Ways to Command a Ship Through Legalese Loopholes? They should fire those self-help writers!
I thought for a second. "Doesn't the rulebook also say something about not hassling your commanding officer? I think you can get spaced for that - Captain, how about we toss her in the brig until we get back to civilized space?"
Marrissa's eyes bugged out. "You can't do that! I'm a princess!"
"Princess or not, you're still an acting Starfleet officer, and under my athourity," Picard said. "I'm ordering you detained to your quarters until further noticed."
"But, but..." Marrissa was aghast.
The teenager glared, but did turn on her heel and stalk off. I was about to relax until I remembered something. "Uhh, Captain?"
"Yes, Number One?" He turned to look at me, and I paused.
Aww, hell. Might as well ask... "Where are Miss Marrissa's quarters, anyway?"
I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Captain Picard look absolutley and totally shocked for one blessed second. Damn, I'll have to do that more often, I thought as Jean-Luc turned to Beverly and asked her to escort Marrissa to an empty room.
Nothing more happened until we were in orbit, really. Then we saw the steriotypically ugly alien ship, looking like a big sphere set into a boomerang. The boomerang arms were really docking bays, though... and phaser bays. A pretty good ship design, actually, keeping everything away from the center where a direct hit could- but my mind was wandering.
"Holy shit, that's an ugly ship," I muttered under my breath. I got a glare, but no comments. Yet.
"Captain, if I may make a suggestion?" Data asked. Jeez, you need the Captain's permission to make a suggestion? Think for a minute, android! Use the polytech synapses your creator gave you!
"Of course, Data," Picard replied, eyes fixed on the screen. I wondered if I could get him to sneeze like that... I heard somewhere that if you sneeze while your eyes are open your eyeballs will fly out of their sockets. That might be an interesting distraction for the crew, and I'm sure Bev could fix him back up again.
-=# Aww... I'm supposed to be the malicious one here! #=-
This voice-in-the-head thing is getting annoying! I rubbed my temples while Data talked. "Well, Captain, if we can knock the two arm-like projections off of the main body, we may be able to destroy the large bubble."
-=$ Well, how do you expect us to talk to you? March up and stand in front of you? Fer crying out loud, Riker, that wouldn't work at all. $=- I recognized the voice that time. Tanasha!
-=$ Hello, he of more than limited intelligence! $=-Well, I guess I could take that as a compliment...
"That sounds like a good idea, Data. But first, hail the other ship." Good idea. Hmph. A good idea would be to tell the Romulans that some enemy ship is parading around their sect -err, Starfleet-Romulan neutral territory. That way, they deal with it instead of us.
"Hailing frequencies opened." The alien's bridge fuzzed onto the screen. Holy shit, they're uglier than their ship. And they're still just bipedal humanoids with funny skin/bumps on their forehead. I guess the costume guys took another pay cut.
Picard stepped forward. "I am Captain Jean-luc Picard of the USS Enterprise."
The alien looked down on us for a second before remarking, "We know. It's written on your hull."
Picard blinked, obviously not expecting this, but continued. "We are here to inquire about your buisness with the Starfleet colony on the planet below."
The alien nodded. "All in good time. I am," he then spat a load of unpronouncable gibberish that sounded like... like... like pig latin Chinese. "This ship is the," more Chinese pig-latin. "May I come aboard your vessel?"
Picard was... rather shocked. "Yes... do you have transporter systems?"
The alien glared. "Of course. Without a matter transferrence device that workes faster-than-light and a replicator, space travel would be near impossible. Do you know how much matter it takes to power one shuttlecraft?"
"Err..." was Picard's intelligent reply. I was starting to like these... these... Chinese/Latin aliens.
The alien shook his head. "Never mind. I shall beam aboard, then... what is the oxygen percentage in the atmosphere of your vessel?"
Picard glanced hopelessly at Data. "Our air is 21 percent oxygen, Captain."
The alien nodded. "Good. Our normal air is 19.9 percent oxygen, so we should be able to breathe without any extra gear." He nodded again, and the channel closed.
I chuckled softly. Picard was too stunned to notice. In a few seconds, the alien beamed in, right in front of us. He smiled and said, a little belatedly, "Permission to board your vessel?"
He was wearing some sort of robe that gave the impression of being long and flowing while actually fitting well. I wish my costumers were that good, I thought, disgusted. These Starfleet uniforms really make me look fat. It's disgusting!
Picard nodded, managing to look composed. The alien smiled and strode forward. "But come, we have things to discuss... of a peculiar institution." I noticed that the alien was speaking perfect, unaccented English, without any lapse into ig-pay atin-lay. Spook me out...
"Yes," he replied to the alien, "come into the ready room." He paused, glanced at me in a funny way again, and continued, "you'd better tag along, Number One."
I raised an eyebrow. This is odd... oh, well. Knowledge is power or something like that...
-=$ You're gonna have a zillion Midway lawyers jumping on you for that line. $=-
So? I nodded and followed Picard and the alien, who I had dubbed 'Mr Inese-chay', to the ready room. We all took seats, and Picard started the questioning.
"So... what are you doing nosing around Hotel Whiskey?"
Mr. Inese-chay blinked. "Hotel Whiskey?"
"The Starfleet colony on the planet that we're in orbit around. What are you doing with it?"
The explaination stretched through twenty minutes and two cups of Earl Gray. The basis was this: the alien's priesthood had seen a sign that one of their gods, a female war god, had taken to a mortal body. Their mission, then, was to search through colonies at the edge of their space, and somewhat beyond, to find this imprisond goddess and kill her to free her spirit. The downside was that if they didn't find the goddess, they'd sterilize the planet.
This goddess was supposed to be young and accomplished, but 'untouched by mortal hands'. If that meant what I thought it meant... Can we be carrying that 'goddess' on our ship? And... hey, if we gave her up, we'd save the colony! Pleaseohpleaseohplease let it be her...
At that moment, the doors opened, and in strode Marrissa. Inese-chay blinked. "Who is this?" he asked.
Marrissa came to attention. "I am Lieutenant Marrissa Amber Flores Picard, Princess and Heir to the Throne of Essex, Lord High Commander of All Starfleet Kids Crews, and record holder of the highest Kobayashi Maru time. What are you, alien menace, doing on my Starfleet vessel?"
"Your Starfleet vessel?" Picard and I asked simultantiously.
At the same time, Inese-cay jumped in his seat. "You are what?" he asked, excited.
The girl wonder turned red. "Lieutenant Marrissa Amber Flores Picard, Princess and Heir to the Throne of Essex, Lord High Commander of All Starfleet Kids Crews, and record holder of the highest Kobayashi Maru time! Didn't you hear me the first time?!"
The alien looked positivley delighted. "And... are you a virgin?"
Marrissa sneered at him. "Of course."
Inese-chay grinned and turned to Captain Picard. "We'll take her!"
I had to bite down very hard on my yell of "YESSSSS!!!" As it was, I couldn't contain a grin. Picard sat back, shocked. Marrissa grinned radiantly. "You'll take me?"
The alien nodded. "Yes!" He turned to Picard, grinning. "We'll just beam back, then..."
"Now wait just a minute..." Picard rose to his feet, and I followed.
"Now, Captain, it's either giver her to them or have them sterilize Hotel Whiskey. Remember Ambassador Spock? 'The need of the many comes before the need of the few' or something?" I grinned patronizingly at him. "And besides, she wants to go."
-=$ Great idea, quoting Spock... $=-
Oh, shut up. Marrissa was looking up at Picard with an expression that one would expect on the face of a cutsey anthropromorphic animal in a children's book and nodding furiously. I hoped that her head would fly off and save the Inese-chay-ians the trouble of a sacrifice.
Finally Captain Picard relented, and Mr. Inese-chay bowed and pressed something on his arm. Both he and Marrissa vanished in a burst of light. I hoped that that would be the last of them. I was, unfortunatley, wrong.
We had enough time before the impending disaster to take shore leave. We visited the quaint backwater town of Holly on the shore of the quaint island Wood, and met the mayor, Victoria Fredricks, and had her thanks for "pacifying the evil aliens", whatever that meant. Vicki wasn't entirley human herself, with faint ridges on her nose, but the makeup men obviously weren't interested on giving her any more exoticness. (Too bad, because I accidentally snuck into her quarters, and she had quite an underwear collection- but I digress.)
The impending disaster was noticed five minutes before it happened. What happened was that the alien guy, Mr. Inese-chay, teleported into the room at the same time as we did, except a few feet in front of the platform. He was briused in a few places, and his robe was charred. He looked up at us with an expression of someone who just found the rope he was trying to hang on to. "You're safe!" He exclaimed. "Marrissa has-"
Then he collapsed in a fit of coughing. He was dragged off to sickbay by Ensign Youngblood, leaving the rest of us with a few seconds of puzzled expressions before Red Alert went off. We dashed to the bridge in time to take up stations before Marrissa's face came into focus on the sreen.
She laughed at us. "Fools!" She cried. "I am now in command of this warship and all of the weaponry within! With this arsenal, I shall wipe out the Romulans, Cardassians, and whoever happens to be evil alien of the week!"
"Good God!" Someone muttered behind me. "She's caught on to the plot premise!"
I turned around and glared at the scriptwriter, who had snuck onto the set without anyone noticing. "I've caught on to the plot premise," I snapped at him. "How do we get out of this?"
He aieeped and ran off through a random door, which was unfortunate because at that moment Marrissa started getting angry at us.
"And I shall destroy you for trying to stand in my way! You, who have no idea how to command a starship!" Uhh... excuse me here? Lunatic woman? Picard here has been commanding for seven seasons now. I think that's a little more command experience than you've had.
Picard turned to Troi. "What are you getting from her?"
The Betazed closed her eyes. "I sense panic, fear..."
"I mean from their ship." He turned away and muttered, "idiot."
-=$ Now, there's a surprise... $=-
Troi's eyes closed again, and her brow furrowed. "She's... she's a complete lunatic, captain." Hey, now! Can I call 'em, or can I call 'em?
Picard sighed. "Wonderful." He then faced Worf. "I hate to say this, but... fire at will." Whenever someone says that, I have to fight down the feeling that they're ordering people to shoot at me. Life sucks.
We fired full blast on Marrissa's captured ship. After the first volley fighters came pouring out of the wings and began attacking us, and the giant ship made some twists and turns that broke several major laws of physics, not to mention good storywriting.
In a few minutes we were getting our asses severley and violently whupped. I was tossed out of my seat for the third time as smoke and another alarm noise burst into the bridge. "What blew up this time?" I yelled.
-=$ The plot hole generator and the quantum physics department. $=-
Oh, gee, thanks. What hasn't blown up? Never mind. "Shield generator's out!" Ensign Youngblood yelled.
"Shit," I remarked abstractedly. Then I remembered one thing Tanasha had told me before, something that may serve to save our skins... I slammed my hand on my comm badge. "Engineering! Geordi, flip on the Random Technobabble Generator and find something to blow them up!"
"Okay!" He yelled. "I can tripile the azitrialfium stabilizers-"
"Save the noise and do it!" I yelled.
In three heartrending seconds a beam of really damn thick green energy shot out and hit the big middle section of the alien ship. With spectacular fireworks it detonated, and the miniature fighters started dropping like flies toward the planet below.
We all sighed in relief. For ten seconds, the euphoria lasted.
Then, a thirteen-year-old blonde girl in a lieutenant's uniform with singed blonde hair teleported onto the bridge. "That was fun!" Marrissa exclaimed. "Let's do it again!"
We stared at her in openmouth shock. Finally, Worf pulled out his phaser. "That's it," he remarked, "this is the last time I let this ship get wrecked by a... dishonorable teenager! You dodged half of my volleys!" He pushed the setting to 'kill' and fired, and Marrissa Amber Flores Picard, all titles still imaginary, made a dirty black smudge on the floor.
So, now that that's over, let me tell you the story of the time we met a guy named Bill Gates...