Star Trek: Phoenix-X – STO Literary Challenge #67 – There’s Always Some Strings Attached

Summary: In the early 25th century, Captain Menchez of the I.K.S. B’Cnah is targeted for assassination by rogue Section 31 agent Rave, but when Qu prevents his death, Menchez is given more new lives than he could ever want.

Author’s notes: This was written in September 2014 as part of the Star Trek Online Forums Literary Challenge #67.

Literary Challenge #67, Prompt #2: After the most recent Jenolan Accords, the Federation, KDF, and Romulan Republic have entered into a tense, but established, peaceable relationship. Federation and KDF forces have opened their once closed borders, letting enemies-turned-allies across their borders once again, and allowing more open discussions between all three galactic powers.

Of course not all are happy with the peaceable relations between these powers, and one such agent of discord has gone rogue. A Section 31 operative has gone renegade, targeting Romulan, Klingon, and even Federation vessels, labeling them all as enemies, either as Undine traitors or Iconian pawns. Your Captain has been targeted next, labeled as the Iconian’s greatest puppet, the one who was always there at the right time, and the wrong time. They know all you strengths, and all your weaknesses. How will your captain handle it this time?​

Literary Challenge #67
There’s Always Some Strings Attached

The Vor’cha-class I.K.S. B’Cnah trekked through space, listlessly and ever so haphazardly. It was the end of his shift and Captain Menchez was turning a corner on one of the living quarter decks.

He nodded to Chief engineer Tayana as they passed each other. “Captain,” she said.

“Sir,” Bekk Rinn greeted eagerly as he passed as well, and Menchez just radiated an awkward and detached stare.

The Captain entered his dark quarters to find an incoming message light blinking on his desktop monitor. He tapped a button to accept it.

“Menchez! It’s your Federation counterpart, that one guy and stuff,” Seifer appeared on screen from the Phoenix-X.

The Klingon Captain nodded. “If this is about the money you owe me from that time on Nimbus III at Shangdu, then the pay back has doubled!”

“Why would you double it if I was going to pay it back now? Never mind. This is about something completely different. Your life,” Seifer started. “It’s in danger and not in the way those United States Army Air Corps Generals from the 1940s used to smoke cigars into Ferengi faces.”

Menchez slammed his fist into his table. “I decide when my life is in danger! I was planning for another Fek’lhr battle, despite the fact you keep telling me that was all a dream.”

“I still maintain that, yes,” Seifer nodded. “But this is different. Several key people in direct relation to past Iconian and Undine galactic events have been killed and continue to be killed as of late. That category includes you, according to a makeshift chart of refrigerator magnets on the wall next to my replicator.”

The Klingon ground his teeth. “You know, you did the same missions. And just because we are allies now does not mean you can attempt to save my life! To a Klingon, that is just rude!”

He cut the transmission off in anger and took a breath to himself.

“He’s right you know,” a human man emerged from the shadows and extended a phaser at Menchez. “About the murdering and such. It’s not like I’ve been advertising it though, so, perhaps I should re-think my actions.”

In close range, Menchez grabbed the man’s wrist and redirected the phaser fire, blowing the monitor. The weapon was dropped and Menchez pulled out a d’k tahg from his boot with his other hand. He swung it around toward the attacker. “You dare confirm Starfleet’s careful examinations of patterned behaviour??”

But the human blocked Menchez’s incoming forearm and force-palmed the Klingon in the face. The man then grabbed a kut’luch off a nearby table and stabbed Menchez through the chest. “The name’s Rave, and I didn’t go rogue from Section 31 to hear lectures about Starfleet, despite that being one of those subjects I enjoy debating about on subspace message boards.”

Rave stepped back and watched as Menchez fell off his chair, to his knees, and to the floor.

After ten seconds, Menchez re-spawned outside in the hallway with full health. He got up and walked passed several officers, Tayana and Bekk Rinn again, before re-entering his quarters.

“Uh, didn’t I just kill you?” Rave questioned upon his entrance. He swung the kut’luch to which Menchez stopped by grabbing Rave’s forearm. With his free hand, Menchez punched Rave across the face.

The Captain quickly triple-punched Rave in the chest, with one final blow knocking the rogue Agent over a nearby table and onto the floor, behind it. “I am far too angry about dying to process your Section 31 logic!”

Rave found the phaser from earlier and fired it into Menchez.

Ten seconds later, Menchez re-spawned in the hallway back to full health. Passing Tayana and Bekk Rinn, he re-entered his quarters, but this time stopped in his tracks. “Wait. What is going on here? Why can I remember waking up at some ‘checkpoint’?”

Suddenly, Q flashed in, freezing Rave in mid-run-attack. “That’s exactly what I’d like to know!”

“Obviously, I’ve been messing with your settings,” another Q, named Qu, flashed in.

Q’s jaw dropped, “Qu!?”

“Huh? There’s another Q?” Rave said, confused, still-frozen from the neck down.

Qu shook his head. “There are more than one Q in this universe. Stop being so close-minded! Anyway, old-faced Q, here,” he gestured, “put in place a re-spawn-quantum string for select Captains, everywhere, in order to maintain continuity and reduce player frustration. Normally you wake up and those involved, including you, don’t remember the hiccup. Events proceed as normal with no awareness of interrupted flow.”

“That is madness! You’re saying reality is just a lie?? Also, when is my actual death??” Menchez blurted.

Q sighed. “Later, for other reasons. You know, Qu, if you want to make a change here, then, fine. I’ve got all these Organian devs to deal with right now. Their Delta Rising movement is going to be a Delta Spas-ing cesspool if I don’t modify certain player perceptions. About this whole death thing, don’t say I didn’t warn you.” With that, Q flashed away.

“Did anything he say even make sense at all to anyone?” Menchez asked.

Qu waved him off. “Never mind that. He’s right about the death thing, though. When and how you die is when and how you die, not when and how you don’t. My problem is lying to you guys. I just can’t have that on my conscience, and after my mother-in-law’s lecture during my whole Amanda Rogers fan fiction obsession and— well, I don’t want to bore you with all the details,” Qu maintained.

Menchez postulated, “So, I may die here, or elsewhere, but the when and how of that must be correct?”

“Precisely,” Qu answered.

The Klingon waved it all away. “Whatever! You have issues. That’s what I will translate from this. Let us just get on with it. A Klingon’s death is not to be trifled with.”

“Yeah,” Rave agreed. “I have other Captain’s I’m supposed to kill. Ever heard of a Captain Seifer? He left an odd, stubby looking man named Jeremy Jacob’s to die out in cold space! Wut up wit dat yo?”

Qu pointed. “That vernacular is not accepted in this universe!”

The freeze on Rave was lifted and his run-attack continued. Caught off guard, trying to process Rave’s odd words, Menchez was shot down, harder, with the increased momentum.

Ten seconds later, Menchez awoke. But, before returning, he double-checked his purple Solanae tribble buff. “Ugh. 60 minutes of 1% Critical Hit Chance better come in handy.”

Re-entering his quarters, he forced-palmed Rave’s phaser out his hand and then multi-punched Rave in the stomach. Rave grabbed the final punch and redirected Menchez into being impaled by a bat’leth he pulled off the wall. “Why won’t you just die already?? This rogue endeavour isn’t even my primary mission!”

Ten seconds later, Menchez returned. He grabbed a Forcas III trophy off a shelf and clashed it with Rave’s bat’leth. “Ugh! How can this not be your main objective? You’re killing people?? That’s a pretty important goal if I recall my early Klingon targ-stab training??”

“I left Section 31 to work with another alien group,” he pushed Menchez off and kicked the Klingon onto his desk. “Not only do I believe the Federation is madly infiltrated, but I want Section 31 to be stronger than ever before.”

Menchez threw the trophy at Rave, and Rave threw his bat’leth at Menchez. Rave was hit in the head and the Klingon Captain was impaled.

Thirty seconds later, Menchez returned. “Dammit! I’m like the worst Klingon to ever exist for some larger literary purpose?? This can’t be what happens every time in reality? And what the hell with the thirty seconds??”

“Oh, if you keep dying within a short period, the time interval increases,” Qu explained, just watching it all from the nearby window ledge. “It’s to encourage you to get better at life. I’m not sure why Q thought people would respond to that positively.”

Menchez then pointed at Rave. “And you. You betrayed your own people for your selfish, close-minded perspectives! How do you think the Duras sisters died??”

“A horribly-executed battle with the Enterprise-D from both sides?” Rave got up, rubbing his head. “Besides, I have to work with my associates if I want their cooperation.” He then took out a Klingon painstick from a drawer and jammed it into a nearby control panel. “I was sent to retrieve a man named Sayjan, but when I realized the truth behind this treaty, I just had to act on it first.”

The shock from the control panel followed a series of circuits behind the walls until exploding another control panel next to Menchez.

Thirty seconds later, Menchez awoke in the corridors. “That petaQ???” He took out his purple Solanae tribble and threw it at Bekk Rinn as he was walking by.

“Ahh! I’m allergic!” Bekk Rinn cried.

Back in his quarters, knowing where he left Rave, Menchez flew through the opening doors, knee first, slamming his knee into Rave’s face. Following the momentum and landing, Menchez forced Rave against the far wall. “DenIb Qatlh! You’re working with the Na’Khul, those vile space Nazi’s from the 29th century!”

“Okay, you know, the Nazi get up was a one time thing. And you know Sayjan?” Rave shocked Menchez with the pain stick, sending him back.

Menchez grabbed the blood-stained bat’leth. “He time-traveled to 21st century Xindus, attempted to unite the species in perfect harmony and forced my crew to slaughter thousands of Xindi-Avians!”

Rave processed that for a second. “Ha! Yeah, that definitely sounds like him.”

“Like those awkward humanoid bird things, I should have died long ago! And what is up with me encountering the same crew in the corridors over and over while time runs normal in here??”

Qu glanced over having been pre-occupied with a finger-trap. “Huh? Oh, the hallway’s in a time-loop to bring you back. You don’t actually think the Q can control life and death, do you? Wait, don’t pursue that subject. I’m not supposed to confirm or deny that.”

“Uggh. This taste of ‘reality’ is so preposterous I just want you to kill me now.” He tossed Rave the bat’leth and approached him. “bIHnuch! This is your primary objective!”

Rave dropped the pain stick and hesitated on what the perfect kill spot would be on Menchez. “Okay, wait. I want to make this good. Where’s your jugular again?”

“What the hell? Stop it! You’re messing with the whole fabric of space-time!” Qu interrupted. “Okay, fine. I’ll put things back to the way they were. You won’t remember your re-spawns, your checkpoints, or the floating items you childishly maxed out your inventory with from now on. Why people prefer an augmented reality, I’ll never know.”

He flashed away to both men’s shock. Menchez then grabbed the bat’leth back, but before he could strike, two Vorgon agents transported in.

“We’ll take this rowdy time traveler, thanks,” the lead agent, Crog, said.

The other agent, Tugh, tapped at his Vorgon padd, causing Rave to be transported away. “We’ve been waiting forever for the Na’Khul to release him on some cockamamie mission of some sort. He’s wanted for crimes of murder and mystery in the future against various races and so on. Well, you’ve met him. You know what he’s like.”

“The lesson is, if you’re in Section 31, simmer down,” Crog assured, quite randomly.

Menchez held one of them back. “Any chance you guys are aware of my dying of an honourable death at some point?”

Tugh thought for a moment. “You’re Menchez, right? Better you don’t see it coming.” The two then transported out.


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