Star Trek: Phoenix-X – STO Unofficial Literary Challenge #8 – Visit To a Weird Planet, Revisited – Again

Summary: In the early 25th century, Captain Iviok and the crew of the U.S.S. Jenova find themselves and their Bridge suddenly on a movie set.

Author’s notes: This was written in February 2015 as part of the Star Trek Online Forums Unofficial Literary Challenge #8. This story continues on from LC 65: Movie Night.​

Unofficial Literary Challenge #8: Prompt #1: As your away team materializes on the transporter pad, you realize that you don’t recognize the place, or the people in it. A large crane swings away, as a man shouts, “Dammit, what’s wrong with those lights? Okay, everybody, break for lunch while we figure this out!” You realize that the room lacks some walls – and a roof. Outside a window, you can see what turns out to be early-21st-century Earth, and not the one from your history books, either. You’re in a movie set, and everyone thinks you’re actors portraying yourselves as fictional characters! What do you do now? How do you get back home? Or do you?

Unofficial Literary Challenge #8
Visit To a Weird Planet, Revisited – Again

The Centaur-class U.S.S. Jenova arched overhead, blasting photon torpedoes through the shields of the Kazon-Mostral shuttle Lessek. After passing, the Jenova fired one aft quantum torpedo into the enemy offender, exploding the craft in a glorious popcorn-like mini-puff.

“Is it just me, or did that just take us half an hour??” the helmsmen, Doyanis complained.

Iviok took a seat. “You know what Tier our ship is. Also, I forget what Tier our ship is.”

“Speaking of the ship,” Melyot opened. “I apologize for installing all those Kobali split-paneled consoles.”

“–Cut! That was horrible, but let’s use three seconds of it. Anything is workable. Then, cutaway, cutaway, cutaway!” A short, dark haired man with glasses stepped onto the Bridge, pointing at various people.

Iviok looked around and suddenly noticed half his Bridge was detached; appearing to be in a large studio. Film crewmembers spilled onto the set, checking lighting stands, wardrobe and make-up on the crew.

“Alright, that’s a wrap for today. I have to go sleep with an actress who wants a part in my Pac-Man prequel.”

Iviok walked over to the Director, Jeffrey, who was playing back the scene with his First Assistant Director, Stuart. “What is the meaning of this intrusion? We haven’t even had our post-mortem krill-beast steak meet yet?”

“Hm,” the Assistant rubbed his chin at the playback. “I think there needs to be more arbitrary back storying– Don’t be afraid to contradict pre-established canon and, more importantly, make stuff up in place of other stuff. Then, Romulans!”

“Oh, is this a ‘movie set’?” Iviok paraphrased. “Nice try, but movies went extinct as soon as holodecks were invented– Coincidentally, so did new forms of art and music.”

Jeffrey shut the monitor off and looked at Iviok, confused. “Huh? What? Is this another hypnotic-relapse from the other night?” He then turned, “Dammit, Stuart. Your hypnotist show-off bar trick is messing with people’s brains, and hence, this production!”

“Heh,” Stuart chuckled, absentmindedly. Then, to explain, “I’m looking into hypnotism as an alternative career choice.”

Melyot walked over, with his tricorder, scanning Iviok. “I do not understand. According to this: you’re human, and there are dangerous levels of silicon on your face.”

“What are you doing? That tricorder is a plastic prop– and an unauthentic one at that.” Jeffrey then turned to his Prop Master. “Let’s replace that with a rustic beer hydrometer. Yes! Realism!”

He then turned to the film crew as a whole.

“Just a reminder to all: Stay off the Message Boards. The nerds are pre-saying a lot of crap and we don’t have time to address mommy-issue-driven soapboxes until it really gets to us. We are in this for dollar signs, people. Dollar signs!”

Later that night, Iviok was met with his own crew inside his dimly-lit, deteriorating, trailer. Doyanis and Gondi held piles of junk food in their arms.

“I don’t know about you guys, but they have something called ‘craft services’ here and it’s practically unlimited food– for free!” the helmsmen bragged.

Sara looked at him, critically. “Replicators?”

“Sorry. Can’t hear you over this cronut,” Gondi said with a mouth-full as he and Doyanis arm-full-low-fived each other on their way out the trailer. “Hey, pass me a potato chip cookie? And a cannoli cone?”

Melyot took their cue and turned to Iviok. “I recommend the status quo for the moment, until we can figure things out. Slow-progression is the Starfleet way, and who are we to question that? Eventually, I might. Though, I’d have to see about that as well.”

As he and Sara left, Jeffrey made his way inside. “How you feeling, big guy? The entire cast was subjected to that drunken mind-show the other night, and it’s been Fek’lhri Eve ever since. The Exec Producer wants to give you a day, but I think we need to press on if I’m to be slated for that other franchise.”

“There’s nothing you can say to make me think I’m a Human in the early 21st century. Where is the evidence of your Eugenics Wars? Is San Francisco the fall out?? If so, that’s only partially believable.”

Jeffrey hesitated. “Look; at the bar, you told me you’d been feeling like your life just isn’t measuring up lately. That’s what hypnotism does! It makes you say crazy things!”

“Indeed, I was feeling that, but only in relation to my seemingly always-broken starship. There were days I tried decaying our planetary orbits on purpose.”

The Director put his hands on Iviok’s shoulders. “That’s just a metaphor for this production. Unrelated: I’m converting the fan hate mail into snow flakes for the fifth monster ice-world scene– This time, it’ll be double the CG. More CG, I say! More! Let’s desensitize people!”

The next day, Iviok entered the Bridge-set of Star Trek Into All the Money. His Special FX Artist ran over in a rush.

“Did you sleep with the face on? Talk about commitment, and hours of work off my back. This literally means I can use my mornings for writing. Would you be willing to look at a screenplay? It’s about a space-high mad man who teaches Nazi ideals to inner-city kids.”

Iviok took notice of her. “Can I story-edit?”

“Well, it’s just that there’s a lot of command-structure world-building, names and titles…” she trailed, awkwardly.

Iviok turned away. “Pass.”

“But, he’s searching for the one true King—”

The Andorian moved on. “Pass.”

“Captain,” Sara approached. “Something is wrong with all this. According to our sensor analysis, we’re reading a massive subspace deformation, all around us.”

He shook his head as he took his place at the fake-Bridge. “That’s impossible. Your panels are stickers created by the art department, designed by the brilliant and irreputable Michael Okuda.”

“What? Sir, according to history, Okuda was a drunk, hippie who was constantly thrown out of bars for harassing waitresses. He died in bed with eight supermodels.”

Just then, a grip walked over and handed Jeffrey a clipboard. “Here’s your one paragraph summary of the canon universe we’re making this movie about, Mr. Jacob.”

“Great. Let’s burn it,” the Director dismissed. He then stood up to address the actors. “Everyone ready? Prepare the lens flares… annnnnndd– rolling, aaaaaand Kirk-thrusts, aaand action!”

Doyanis turned to Iviok. “Jeffrey Jacob? That sounds familiar. Captain. I think I read a report about this man. If I’m not mistaken, he’s a known time traveling fugitive from the 31st century!”

“This is trippy. This script is trippy,” Jeffrey observed before processing appropriately. He then threw down his notes in shock. “Hey, wait! Time traveling is a right, and anyone should be allowed to do it!”

Melyot walked over, holding a phaser at Jeffrey. “Aha! The Phoenix-X caught Jacob, trying to film them, and out of a passionate repelling gesture, left him and his crew out in cold space.”

“I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that meddling Seifer!” Jeffrey clenched his fist in anger. “We floated out there for days before we were picked up.”

Iviok shook his head. “Stop. No. We were all hypnotized by a British man, named Stuart. This feels right. We’re actors. We’re on our way to success through the precious re-forcing of a badly-handled franchise. Keyboard warriors will write horrible fan fiction about us for centuries.”

“Captain, according to my analysis of my analysis, the subspace deformation has all the characteristics of a massive warp bubble,” Sara reported from her console.

Melyot pressed his phaser to Jeffrey’s temple. “Ugh!” Jeffrey squirmed. “Yes, that’s right,” the Director said. “Beverly Crusher experienced an augmented reality, based on her own thoughts, when she was trapped in something similar. That’s what we’re experiencing now– my creation, my desires.”

“Everything you said last night– about my life-measuring being crazy– was a lie?” Iviok squinted.

Jeffrey tried pulling away from the phaser, unsuccessfully. “Role playing is the best we are going to get here, anyway. We were all transported into this warp field, randomly, against our will. This isn’t just some experiment by some over-begrudged, genius kid……. it’s a labor camp.”

“No; impossible,” Sara intervened. “Static warp fields are unstable. They’re like trying to run a Tuvok drill from a Parallax mud bath, while stuffing your face with jumja sticks.”

Iviok shook his head in disbelief. “What a fool I’ve been. This world was too easy a distraction, and invoked none of our Starfleet officer anti-holo-addiction training.” He then turned to the Director. “This ends now, Jeffrey. The players don’t love it, and continued sarcasm by them isn’t annoying.”

“Like I said,” Jeffrey gritted under the phaser pressure, “it’s a labor camp.”

Melyot growled, “By who? What do they want?”

“Who do you think?” Jeffrey countered, just as Stuart stepped onto the Bridge, menacingly, “And the answer to your second question is: our neural energy.”

Stuart nodded and began speaking in his true, augmented voice, “I am Devidian, Captain. We can best share an existence in this pocket universe, where your neural patterns are amplified, ensuring dinner for my both my wife and kids tonight– Those annoying brats and their whining. Ugh.”

“Since we’re finally communicating verbally, I would be remiss not to confront you about Drozona, or the Cardassian ship Axon.”

Stuart threw up his arms in distractingly fake shock. “Oh, come on. Puh-leeze. Bringing up the past? You’re worse than my wife! Prophets bless her soul.”

“What? What was that last part?” Sara impulsed. “Actually, let’s stay on topic.”

Iviok hesitated. “Years ago, when I was slightly more ambitious, I studied Wesley’s Kosinski Warp Theories in detail– in that the physics of a pocket universe were reversible and interchangeable with that of our own.”

“Dammit, Iviok, this is no time for cake baking!” Gondi argued. “Or is it? Cloaking frequency icing, anyone?”

The Captain made a mental note to do that later. “What I mean is, we need to initiate the post-calculated vortex Wesley space-magic’d.”

“Of course. I see what you’re saying, Captain,” Sara continued, approaching an engineering console. “We have to treat our home universe as the static warp universe, and the static warp universe like our home universe.”

Doyanis snapped, “Stop confusing me. You’re ruining the wonder!”

“How can we do anything when we are on a film set?” Melyot criticized.

Iviok turned. “This universe pre-existed with Jeffrey’s ideas and the only real way in, combined with Devidian space-time, was for it to be mutated by our own, which explains why our instruments still work; and I’m willing to bet the fake-Jenova’s warp core is still in tact too.”

“Nooooo!” Stuart took out a long snake-headed staff and blasted its energy, “Science isn’t meant to be utilized; it’s just a thing, and stuff!”

But, as the Devidian blast headed their way, Sara’s initiation of the warp core calculations caused an expanding, dynamic wave of great intensity from beneath them, erasing the incoming attack, and Stuart, from existence.

A second look and the crew found the film set intricacies gone and Jeffrey and his team back in the Phoenix-X’s environmental suits, on board the Bridge of the Jenova.

“According to sensors, we were re-deposited back here through the Devidian portal. The Wesley-vortex must’ve nullified the static warp field and sent us to the portal all at once,” Gondi reported.

Doyanis turned. “Either that, or we’re in some kind of warp bubble within a warp bubble?”

“Let’s not…….. let’s not do that,” Iviok suggested.

Jeffrey finally pushed Melyot back and confronted the Captain. “This is preposterous! I was this close to making a rehashed masterpiece, millions would have been annoyed by!!”

“Mr. Jacob, an alternate universe is one thing, but one of uninspired, lack-of-measuring-up, where-anything-can-be-a-screenplay, Malon waste, is frightful and un-intellectually appetizing. You’re going to be put in prison for a veryyyy long time– which is what the Phoenix-X was supposed to do with you,” Iviok stated.

After a moment of processing by everyone, he quickly realized the repulsion that was realized previously.

“Ugh! Actually, on second thought– Mr. Gondi, beam him out into space.”

Gondi addressed his controls and initiated the confinement beam, prompting Jeremy to lash-out as he and his team were in mid-transport. “Captain, nooooooooooo-o!!!!!-!!—-!!–!–!”


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