Union of Treks II: The Motionless Sequel!

Union of Treks II: The Motionless Sequel!
Author: Silk, Silk@magpies.net

First Officer’s Log, Stardate 49001.1:
Commander William Riker commanding.
With the resignation of Wesley Crusher as Captain, Starfleet has reinstated me as Commander of the Enterprise.   The Captain’s seat remains vacant, but we are presently en route to Starbase #921 to receive the replacement Starfleet has ready.   We have no idea as to his identity.

*

“I hope our new Captain’s more competent than our last,” Riker said, seated in the center-seat.
“And just what was wrong with Wesley?” Beverly Crusher asked.   She had come aboard at their last stop to replace Doctor Pulavski, who had outlived her usefulness and viewer tolerance.
“Nothing,” Riker said defensively.   “I just think he received the position a bit prematurely.   Don’t look at me like that;   you’re the one who made him stand down.”
“The position was interfering with his studies,” Crusher said primly.
“Commander,” Wesley said from the Helm console, “we’re approaching Starbase #921.”
“Good.   Take us in.”

*

The Enterprise entered a slow orbit around Starbase #921.
“Commander Riker,” Worf said, “Starbase #921 is signaling their readiness to beam across our new Captain.”
Riker rose.   “All bridge officers, please accompany me to the transporter room.”
Hardly a minute later, they were lined up before the transporter pads.   “Energize,” Riker said.
“Not until I get a line,” Chief O’Brien protested.
“You just had it.”
“Oh.   Shit.   What a waste.   – Energizing.”
A tall figure in brown robes materialized.   Inexplicably, it was Mr. Spock!
“Mr. Spock!” Riker said, with proper astonishment.   “Am I to take it you’re to be our new Captain?”
“No, Commander,” Spock said serenely, “but Starfleet has instructed me to oversee that your new Captain takes command of this ship as smoothly as possible.” He stepped down from the transporter pad.   “Energize, please, Transporter Chief.”
Another figure materialized, this one shorter.   Like Spock, he wore brown robes and a hood pulled low down over his face.
“It’s Obi Wan Kenobi!” Wesley exclaimed excitedly.
“Don’t be silly, boy,” the familiarly gruff voice of the short robed figure replied.   He pulled down his hood dramatically to reveal the familiar gleam of that head.
“Why it’s-” Crusher began.
“It’s-” Troi said.
“It’s-” Worf said.
Riker was the first to regain his composure.   “It’s Captain Stubing from The Love Boat!” he said.
“I am NOT Captain Stubing!”
“Well you could be if you didn’t shout so much,” Riker pointed out.
“It’s me!   Jean-Luc Picard!” Picard reminded them sternly.
“Sorry, sir,” Riker apologized sheepishly.
“I should hope you are!”
“What happened?   You retired.   Why have you come back?”
A distant look appeared in Picard’s eyes.   “I missed it, Number One.   The exhilaration of space, the thrill of exploring the unknown, of seeking out new life-forms, of love, so exciting and new.” He stepped down from the transporter pads.   “Once young Wesley resigned, I applied for the position.”
Riker pulled Picard aside.   “Sir, I applied for that position, too.   Do you know where I was rated in Starfleet’s considerations?”
“Just after Transporter Chief O’Brien,” Picard said.
“Oh.”
“Well,” Picard said to them all, “I’d love to see the Bridge again.   Mr. Spock, would you care to accompany me?”
“Of course, Captain.”
They arrived on the bridge just as a red alert sounded.
“What is it?” Riker demanded.
“A temporal rift, sir,” the ensign at Helm responded.
“We’re being pulled into it!”
The regular bridge crew assumed their positions.
“Reverse engines!” Riker barked, a bit surprised by Picard’s passiveness.
“Reversing engines,” Wesley reported.
“Engineering, we need all the power you can muster!” Riker went on.   Why wasn’t Picard doing anything?
“You have all the power we’ve got!” LaForge said.
“Sir, we are still being pulled into the rift,” Data said.
“Captain-!” Riker said.   “Don’t you have any orders?”
“Ahh, yes,” Picard said vacantly.   “Try to avoid it.”
“That’s all?”
Picard said nothing.
“Commander, the ship’s being torn apart under the strain!” LaForge reported from engineering.
“It is useless to resist,” Spock said calmly.   “To do so would only endanger the ship, her crew, and myself especially.”
Riker looked at him, then gave the nod to Wesley, who cut the engines.
Smoothly, the Enterprise glided into the rift.   They were encompassed immediately in seething darkness and overcome by a giddy sensation.   It felt as if they were spinning around and around faster then they could imagine.
Then, from all senses, it felt as if they were shot out at an incredible speed, emerging from the rift like a cork would from a bottle of champagne.   Riker dived for the Helm console and quickly negated their velocity by reversing the thrusters.
Finally, all was still.   From the look of the viewer, everything appeared normal.
“Where are we?” Riker asked.
“Commander, if our readings are correct,” Data said, “it would require us to travel at Warp 9 for six months to return to our prior position.”
That was when there was a flash of white light and James T. Kirk literally fell out of the sky and onto the bridge.
Moments later, Dr.    Leonard McCoy fell out right after him.

*

Kirk and McCoy pulled themselves to their feet.   Kirk grinned his boyish grin.
“Admiral Kirk, what are you doing here?” Riker asked.   “And who is this?”
McCoy was looking a sprightly sixty.
“As I recall, you accepted an invitation to join the Q Continuum,” Picard said.
“Yes,” Spock said, one eyebrow raised.
Kirk looked sheepish.   “I was thrown out,” he said.
“Thrown out?   Why?” Picard asked.
Kirk looked embarrassed.
“Well?”
“There was a scandal.”
“A scandal?”
“Yes…and a seventeen year old…    It’s not really important,” Kirk brushed it off.   “The important thing is that I’m here now.   And I’ve brought Dr.    McCoy with me for some comedy relief.”
“Dr.    McCoy!” Riker exclaimed.   “But you toured the Enterprise – or you would, once you’ve aged sixty or seventy more years.   Admiral Kirk, don’t you realize the repercussions of taking somebody out of the past!   You could have affected the entire space-time continuum.”
“Quite truly,” Picard agreed.   “You could be jeopardizing our very existence.”
“Well after all the times I saved existence I think I’m entitled to jeopardize it once or twice,” Kirk said petulantly.    “Now, where are we?”
“Lost,” Picard said.   “We went through a temporal rift;   according to our calculations, we’re six months away from Earth.”
Kirk grinned from ear to ear.   “Just what I need.   A bit of adventure.   What are you doing here anyway, Picard?   Didn’t you retire?”
“I came back.”
“You came out of retirement?” Kirk seemed astonished.   “Whatever for?”
“You did it.”
“Yes, but I was young when I retired, not at an old fuddy duddy like you.”
“I am not a fuddy duddy.”
“But you are old,” Kirk pointed out.
“Excuse me,” Riker said, “but shouldn’t we give some consideration to just how we’re going to get back?”
“Quite logical, Commander,” Spock agreed.   “Is there any indication of the temporal rift?”
“No, Mr. Spock,” Worf rumbled.   “I can’t see it at all.”
“What do your instruments say?”
“They don’t speak.”
“Mr. Spock, sensors scan everything as normal,” Data filled in.   “The temporal rift has disappeared.”
“Then it would appear,” Picard said, “that we’re trapped.”

*

Picard and Riker were in Picard’s ready-room.   “You wanted to see me, Commander?” Picard asked.
“Yes, sir.   There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m going to come straight out and say it.”
“Yes?”
“I believe you made a mistake in coming out of retirement.    You’ve become unfamiliar with this ship and her crew…and the responsibilities of command.”
“You’re being absurd.”
“The way you failed to handle the situation out there with the temporal rift vindicates what I’m trying to tell you, Captain.    You’ve been out of the center-seat too long.”
Picard took a step up to Riker, until they were standing eye to eye, or at least eye to chin since Picard was so much shorter than Riker.   “I can assure you, Commander,” the Captain began stiffly, “that my familiarity with this ship and her crew has never been better.”
The communicator beeped.   “Captain,” Worf’s voice rumbled, “we have an unidentified vessel approaching.”
“Come along,” Picard barked.
They returned to the bridge and found the unidentified vessel on the viewer.   It was oblong-shaped, it’s exterior smooth and featureless.
Picard said, “Lieutenant…ah, Lieutenant…”
“Worf, sir,” Worf told him.
“Yes, Lieutenant Worf, open a thingy.”
“A what, sir?”
“A thingy?    – You know, so I can talk to the other ship.”
“Oh,” Worf’s face brightened, “you mean a hailing frequency?”
“Yes, one of those.”
“Hailing frequency open.”
The inhabitants of the other vessel appeared on the viewer.    They were human-like, although their heads were bald and pointed.    Their eyes were dark.   They wore glimmering purple robes.
“This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the U.S.S….U.S.S. .    .    ?”
Enterprise, sir,” Riker told him.
“Yes, this is Captain Jean-Luc of the U.S.S. Enterprise,” Picard introduced himself.
“Hello, Captain, I am Pol,” one of the pointy headed things introduced himself.   “Am I glad we found you!”
“Why’s that?” Picard asked.
“We are the Pilivians,” Pol said.   “We wish to petition for entry into the Federation.   We were wondering if it was possible that you take two of our number back to Starfleet headquarters so that they could make the petition.”
“Why don’t you just go there yourselves?”
“Well, we’re about to be destroyed shortly.”
“He is correct, sir,” Data said solemnly.   “I am scanning an energy reading surrounded in a cloud approaching from behind the Pilivians.   It is destroying everything in its path.”
“Mr. Data, could I please use your console?” Spock asked.
“Of course.”
“So how about it, Captain?” Pol asked.
“The energy reading is transmitting on a frequency alien to our ship’s computers.   The frequency is of incredible complexity.   I am now programming the ship’s computers to decipher the frequency,” Spock said.
A white light appeared on the viewer.
“Captain, we’re about to be destroyed,” Pol said.
True, the white light immersed the Pilivian’s ship.
“Captain, I am receiving two transporter signals from the Pilivians’ ship,” Worf reported.   “Shall I energize?”
“Yes, yes, anything to prolong the storyline.”
“Energizing.”
Two pillars of transporter light appeared on the bridge.   They materialized into the tall forms of two Pilivians.
“Thank you, Captain,” one of them said.   “I am Hak, this is my brother, Tok.”
“The Pilivian vessel has just been destroyed, Captain,” Data reported, “and the energy cloud is about to destroy us, too.
“Mr. Spock,” Picard said, “could you hurry up your programming a little?   We’re about to be destroyed.”
The white light on the viewer grew brighter.
“Mr. Spock!” Picard said.
“Fascinating,” Spock said.   “The frequency was played backward.   Our computer was too primitive to decipher it.   Decoding now…transmitting.”
The white light faded.
“It would appear we’re not to be destroyed,” Riker said.
“Our computer has responded to the energy reading’s frequency,” Spock said.
“But what was it transmitting?” Kirk asked.
“Goddamnit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a-” McCoy began.
“Not yet, Bones.”
“Oh.”
“I do not know, Admiral,” Spock said.   “But it would appear we have been spared.   A moment, I’m reading a small metallic mass in the center of the energy cloud.”
“What is it?” Picard asked.
“Uncertain, Captain.”
“This is just like V-GER,” Kirk said.
“Goddamnit, Jim, I’m a-”
“Not yet, Bones, not yet.”
“Oh.”
“Captain,” LaForge’s voice sounded from Engineering, “we’ve lost power to the Impulse and Warp Engines.”
“What?” Picard asked.
“Yes, Captain,” Spock said, “whatever is in that energy cloud is holding us.”
“What do we do?” Riker asked.
“Counselor, you’ve been uncommonly quiet,” Picard said.   “Do you sense anything?”
“I sense a great intelligence,” Troi said.
“You are sensing me, Counselor,” Spock said.
“No, another intelligence,” Troi said.   “It is questioning.    Why haven’t we answered?”
“But what is the question?” Picard asked.
“I do not know,” Troi said.
“Well you’re a bloody great help, aren’t you?”
“I’m sorry.”
“Mr. Spock, Admiral Kirk, do you have any suggestions?”
“Yes,” Spock said.   “While you discuss the problem in chambers, I’ll slip away in a thruster suit and mindmeld with the metallic mass in that energy cloud.”
“A moment, Mr. Spock,” Data said.   “Captain, I believe we are being scanned.”
“If this continues along the V-GER storyline,” Kirk said, “then they should send a probe soon.   Captain?   Captain Picard?”
“I’m sorry, Admiral, I nodded off their for a second.”
“It is continuing along the V-GER storyline!” McCoy noted.
“Shut up, Bones.”
“Captain, Admiral,” Spock broke in, “I suggest you retire to chambers while I slip away.”
“Of course.”
They went on their way.
Forgotten, the Pilivians looked at each other.   “This is exciting, isn’t it?” Hak said.
“Yes,” Tok agreed.   “Just like The Love Boat.”

*

Kirk took time out to recount his Enterprise‘s adventure with V-GER, and its similarity to their current situation.   When he was finished, the others sat in stunned silence.
“You really made that?” Picard voiced the unspoken question finally.
Kirk nodded.
“Then what do we do?” Picard asked.
“We were able, to an extent, to communicate with V-GER through the probe it placed aboard the ship,” Kirk explained.
“But no probe has come aboard this ship yet,” Riker pointed out.
“Then we’ll just have to take that chance when it comes,” Kirk said.

*

Spock was drifting along in his thruster suit into the heart of the energy cloud.   “Fascinating,” he was recording what he was seeing, “planets, constellations, all recorded here.   I believe they account this entity’s journey.   Images of Shannen Doherty and every episode of Beverly Hills 90210, all stored here with perfect clarity.   I am coming to believe that in the heart of this energy cloud exists a living machine.
“I see something.   I must try to mindmeld with it.”
Spock thrust his hands out, then screamed.

*

“Captain,” Data said, “I am scanning Mr. Spock’s lifeless form floating in space.”
“What?   But how did he slip away without our knowing?” Picard said.   “Beam him straight to Medical.   Dr.    Crusher, prepare for a medical emergency!”
“Aye, Captain,” Crusher’s voice sounded on the communicator.
Together, Picard, Riker, Kirk, and McCoy headed to Medical, finding Spock being treated by Crusher.
“How is he?” Kirk asked.
“He’s suffered a great shock.   The images pouring through his mindmeld must have been horrific,” Crusher reported.
“Spock?” Kirk said.
“Jim,” Spock said.
“What was out there, Mr. Spock?” Picard asked.
“A living machine, Captain.   It comes from Earth.   Somehow, it slipped through a temporal rift and ended up on the far side of the Universe.   It fell on a planet filled with living machines, and in fact the planet which repaired V-GER.    They repaired this thing, and now it is heading back to Earth to fulfil its programming.”
“It’s programming?” Picard said.   “What is its programming?”
“To record, to store,” Spock said.   “Now its returning its information to Earth.”
“And us?” Riker said.   “Why has it spared us?”
“It feels an affinity for the humans aboard this vessel, but does not yet know whether it can trust you.   I am sure it will attempt to slip a probe aboard to fathom our intentions.”
“Incredible,” Picard said.
“You find it hard to believe, Captain?” Riker asked.
“No, I just find the storyline incredibly stupid.   Dr.    Crusher, I need Mr. Spock on the Bridge.”
“Aye, sir.”
“We better get back on the Bridge ourselves,” Picard said.

*

Kirk and Spock were alone in Medical.   Picard and Riker were returning to the Bridge, and McCoy had accepted the offer of a tour from Crusher.
“Spock, whatever convinced you to take such a suicidal course of action?” Kirk asked.
“You did,” Spock said, as Kirk helped him up.
“Me?” Kirk asked.   “Come on, now that you’re okay we’ll be needed on the Bridge.” They left Medical.   “Now tell me, how did I push you into making that choice?” Kirk asked.
“When you accepted the offer to join the Q Continuum, you left me behind,” Spock said.   “You’re always leaving me behind.    I feel unwanted.”
“Had I known you wanted to come, I would have brought you with me,” Kirk said.
“Oh sure, you say that now, but I bet you don’t really mean it.”
“I do, Spock.   It was a one-off thing.”
“No it wasn’t.   You’re always leaving me behind.”
“I am not!” Kirk protested.
“You left me on Genesis,” Spock pointed out.
“But you were dead!”
“I was not,” Spock declared indignantly.
“Well I didn’t know that at the time.”
“You could have asked.”
“But you were dead!”
“So we’re back to that now, again, are we?”
“Look, Spock, I promise never to leave you behind again.”
“You promise?”
“Yes.”
“Thank you, Jim.”
“Come on, let’s get back on the Bridge.”

*

As soon as Picard and Riker stepped out of the Turbolift and onto the Bridge, Picard sensed that there was something different, that something on the Bridge had changed.   He wasn’t sure whether it was the consoles, the garbled readouts coming from the Computers, or whether it had anything to do with the two Mr. Worfs standing at Tactical.   He favored the latter as he and Riker took their positions in the center of the Bridge.
“Number One,” Picard said quietly, “I think a probe has somehow been slipped onto the Bridge.”
“How can you know, sir?” Riker asked, looking around.
“Look at Mr. Worf.   Do you notice anything strange about him?”
“About which one, sir?” Riker asked.
“My point exactly.   We do only have one Mr. Worf, don’t we?”
“Brilliant, sir.”
“That’s why I’m Captain.   Do you have any suggestions as to how we can work out which one’s the probe?”
“We could ask Wesley,” Riker suggested.
“No, I think I’ll try to trick it out of them.” Picard looked at Tactical.   “Mr. Worfs,” he began, “which one of you is the probe?”
Simultaneously, the responses came.   “He is,” and “I am,” they said.
Immediately, one of the Worfs transformed into a ball of light, then reshaped itself into a tall, golden haired man.
The Turbolift doors opened and McCoy and Crusher stepped onto the Bridge.
“Careful, Doctors,” Picard said, “we’ve discovered the probe.” He pointed out the golden haired man.
“Decker!” McCoy exclaimed.   “That’s Decker!   He was the one who merged with V-GER.”
Decker took one look at Picard, then, face brightening, he threw his arms around the Captain and planted a kiss on his cheek.   “Ilia!” Decker cried.
“I am not Ilia!” Picard exclaimed gruffly.
Decker looked at him.   “I’m sorry, but the resemblance is uncanny from certain angles.” He let go of the Captain.   “In a short dress, you’d be the splitting image of-”
“Decker, what are you doing here?” McCoy broke in.
“I am doing my Dave impersonations from 2010,” Decker said.    “As well as acting as an agent and representative for every free roaming consciousness in Existence.   I have just discovered this one.   I want to fulfil its programming.”
“What programming is that?” Picard asked.
“To take back what it recorded to Earth,” Decker said.
Kirk and Spock appeared on the Bridge.
“Decker!” Kirk exclaimed.
“I see you’ve managed to usurp another position on yet another Enterprise which isn’t yours,” Decker said.
“He’s the probe,” McCoy pointed out.
“Tell us about this thing, Decker,” Kirk said.
“It is not a thing, as you put it, fatso.   It calls itself B-TA.”
“B-TA?”
“Yes.   It is an intelligence like you’ve never known.   Now, I must scan your computer records,” Decker said.
“No, Worf!” Picard cried.
As Decker was reaching for one of the consoles, Worf made to stop him.   But as Picard went to warn him away, Crusher leaped in front of Worf and pushed him away.   But she was rebounded off the Klingon by his momentum and thrown into Decker.   There was a bright flash, then Crusher was laying on the ground, inert.   McCoy was immediately at her side.
“Mommy!” Wesley cried.   “Don’t tell me you managed to let another of my parents be killed, Captain Picard!”
“It wasn’t my fault,” Picard protested.
“My God, Jim,” McCoy said.
“Yes yes, I know.   She’s dead,” Kirk filled in blandly.
“Of course not.   She’s just badly injured.   You don’t go around killing main characters.”
“They killed Tasha,” Kirk pointed out.
“But she was suffering from a terminal disease.”
“What was that?”
“It’s called Iwantabiggerroleitis,” McCoy said.   “It’s a common affliction among small part players.”
“I could have given her a bigger-” Kirk began.
“Jim!” Spock warned him.
“Sorry.”
“Doctor McCoy, what’s wrong with her?” Picard asked.
“Well, she’s never been the best of actresses, although she did improve after Dr.    Pulavski left, and she’s got a snotty son, and that shade of eye-liner-”
“I meant medically what’s wrong with her?” Picard asked.
“Goddamnit, Captain, I’m a doctor, not a…oh, that’s right, I am a doctor, aren’t I?   Oh, okay.   She’s suffering from hemorrhaging and will probably die pretty soon.”
“What did you do to her?” Kirk demanded of Decker.
“I am surrounded by an energy field.   It is activated whenever I’m attacked,” Decker explained.
“She wasn’t attacking you!” Picard exclaimed.
“She could have been.”
“But she wasn’t!”
“I am sorry, Wesley.   It was my fault,” Worf said.
“That’s okay, Worf.   You’re a Klingon.   You’re meant to be dumb.   If you weren’t, your race would’ve never lost an Empire and allied with the Federation,” Wesley said.
“I can heal her,” Decker said, “but I must be allowed to scan your records.   And then I want a tour of the ship.”
“Very well,” Picard decided.
Decker knelt by Crusher and placed his hand on her forehead.   Moments later, she opened her eyes.
“Where am I?” she asked.   “Is this Kansas?   Oh no, I’m still here!”
“There,” Decker said.   “Now if you will please have your Cruise Director organize a tour of this ship.”
“This is not The Love Boat!” Picard snapped.   Then he sighed.   “Do as you will, then.   But hurt nobody else, and see that you don’t damage anything.”
“Of course, Captain.”
“And I’ll have Gopher…I mean Commander Riker organize a tour.”
“Thank you, Captain.”

*

Once Decker had finished scanning the computer records, Riker took him on a tour.
“Commander Riker, did you ever notice the similarities between ourselves?” Decker asked suddenly, as they proceeded through the Enterprise‘s corridors.
“What do you mean?”
“Well look at it – I loved Ilia, and left her on her planet.   You loved Troi, you left her on her planet.   We never said goodbye to them.   And then, through sheer coincidence, we just happened to bump into them back on the ships on which we served.   We were both cocky snots when we first came aboard.   And even our names – Wil Decker, Wil Riker, they’re almost the same.”
“What’re are you saying, Decker?” Riker asked.
“That you are me reincarnated.   Except for that goofy grin you carry around that makes you look like Gopher from The Love Boat.”
“I happen to like my grin.”
“And I’m sure millions around the world do.   But as a superior entity, I think I’m entitled to think it’s goofy.   So there;   I’m right and you’re wrong.”
“Oh, shut up,” Riker said.

*

Picard and Kirk were in chambers with the two Pilivians, Hak and Tok.
“You wanted to see us, Captain?” Tok asked.
“Yes, so far you’ve had no real usefulness in this storyline except for a few cheap gags,” Picard said.   “So this is the scene where you pass on a virus to myself and Admiral Kirk which makes us act like erratic adolescents.”
“Oh, very good then,” Hak said.   “How are we doing?”
“Excellent,” Kirk said.   “I’m starting to feel dizzy.”
“So am I,” Picard agreed.
“Let’s go vandalize some of the ship’s walls!” Kirk cried.
“Yeah!”
The two scurried out of chambers like school children.
Hak started to shake his head.   “We still haven’t done very much, have we?” he asked.
“No,” Tok agreed.   “I have an idea.   Screw the Federation petition.   Let’s steal the ship instead!”
“I love it!   Let’s go!”
The two Pilivians also scurried out.

*

Data had the center-seat presently.   On the viewer, the energy cloud was darkening into a nifty shade of pink struck by hues of gold and crimson.   Accompanying the coloring were some strange guitar-like sound effects in the background.
“Data!” Wesley cried suddenly, spinning in his chair.   “We’re starting to move.”
“Movement, I believe, is a necessary human function, Wesley,” Data said.
“No, I mean the ship.   The ship’s starting to move.   We’re accelerating to a Warp 3 velocity.”
“Intriguing.”
“I can’t stop it!”
“The energy cloud,” Spock said.   “It is taking us back to Earth.”
“Commander,” Worf broke in, “a security team has just reported that Captain Picard and Admiral Kirk have been acting rather disruptively on Deck 17.   It seems they are vandalizing the walls with graffiti.”
Troi groaned.
“Counselor?” Data asked.
“I am sensing something strange in Captain Picard’s and Admiral Kirk’s behavior,” Troi said.   “They are not at all acting like themselves.”
“Mr. Worf, have them brought up to the Bridge, and have Dr.    Crusher join us,” Data ordered.
“Aye, sir,” Worf said.
Worf went on his way.

*

When Picard and Kirk were brought onto the Bridge, they were in the midst of a tussle.   Worf had to separate them forcibly.
“I caught them scuffling,” Worf said.   “Apparently, they had a disagreement.”
“Kirk’s a jerk!” Picard cried.
“Picard’s a retard!” Kirk snapped right back.
“Kirk’s a jerk!”
“Picard’s a retard!”
“Doctor Crusher,” Data said, “what does the Tricorder reveal?”
“I’m picking up some sort of virus, the sort of which I’ve never seen before,” Crusher reported.
“You haven’t seen many viruses, have you, Doctor?” Spock asked.
“Well how can I have not seen them before if I have seen them before?” Crusher snapped.   “Anyway, it seems to be attacking their minds specifically.   It attacks their mentality.” She gasped.   “It’s turning them back into children.”
“The Tricorder shows you that?” McCoy asked.
“No, the script.”
“You don’t mean Admiral Kirk’s going to go through puberty again!” Troi screamed.
“No, I think you’re quite safe Counselor,” Crusher said.
“Damn,” Troi swore disappointedly.
“Is it contagious, Doctor?” Data asked.
“It could be, but I don’t think so.”
Suddenly, Kirk broke away from Worf’s grip and slapped Picard on the shoulder.   “Tag!” he cried.   Then he set off, running around the Helm and Nav consoles.   Picard also broke Worf’s grip and chased after him.
That was when Riker returned to the Bridge with Decker.   He took one look at the game of tag going on between Picard and Kirk.
“My God,” Riker said, “what’s wrong with Captain Picard?”
“He’s suffering from sort of virus,” Spock said.    “It’s affecting his behavior, effectively turning him into an overactive, unruly juvenile.”
“Incredible,” Riker said.
“Admiral Kirk is also suffering from it,” Spock finished up.
“Really?” Riker seemed surprised.   “I hadn’t noticed.”
Spock’s eyes brightened.   “Mr. Worf, could you please apprehend the Captain and the Admiral.   Dr.    Crusher, may I borrow your Tricorder?”
Crusher handed over her Tricorder as Worf took hold of Picard and Kirk.   Spock activated the Tricorder and scanned them.
“Ahh yes,” Spock nodded, “it is as I thought.”
“What?” Riker asked.
“The virus they are suffering from has afflicted Admiral Kirk for most of his life to a lesser degree,” Spock explained.    “If we can reproduce his antibodies and strengthen them, we should have a vaccine.”
“Good,” Riker said.   “See to it at once.”
With Crusher and Spock leading the way, Worf dragged Picard and Kirk into the Turbolift.
Decker suddenly gasped.   “Why are you resisting our attempts to return to Earth?” he asked.
“What?   I don’t understand what you’re talking about,” Riker said.
“You have fired up your engines,” Decker explained.   “You are trying to break our hold.”
“He’s right, sir,” Wesley said.   “Helm and Nav control have been transferred to the Battle Bridge.”
“You mean somebody’s hijacking our ship from the Battle Bridge?”
Wesley nodded.
“But who?    – Who?” Then it dawned on Riker.   “The Pilivians!”

*

Hak and Tok sat at Helm and Nav in the Battle Bridge.
“We are just sooo smart,” Hak said.
“Yes,” Tok said, “I quite agree.   Imagine, stealing their ship using their alternate Bridge.   So simple it’s ingenious.”
“But of course, we ourselves are ingenious.”
“Quite rightly so,” Tok said.   “Quite rightly so.”
“These humans are so pitiful.   There’s no way they can stop us now.”
“No way,” Tok agreed.
That’s when they were immersed in Transporter light and beamed directly into the brig.

*

“That should handle the Pilivians,” Riker said, after he’d given the transporter orders.   “There, Decker.   We’re not trying to break your hold on us.   But if we’re to help you, we need to know more about B-TA.   What is it?   What exactly does it want?”
“No, I cannot tell you anything!”
Kirk, Picard and company returned to the Bridge.
“What’s been happening?” Picard asked.
Riker told him.
“Decker,” Kirk said, “if we’re to help you, you have to help us.   What is B-TA?”
Decker looked uncertain about telling them.
“Decker, we must know now!” Picard said.   “We’ve run out of subplots.   Tell us, we can help to fulfil its programming.”
“Very well,” Decker said.   He closed his eyes.   “I have communicated with B-TA.   It will consent to being beamed aboard.”
“Organize the transport,” Picard ordered.
“We have a fix on its location,” Worf said.
“Energize!”
Moments later, a small rectangular black box appeared on the helm console.   It was just over two feet in length, just under that in width, and about a foot high.   A primitive clock glowed at the front of it.   Dirt and grime smothered the rest of the areas, leaving only three large captial letters revealed.
Kirk spelled them out.   “B, T, A – B-TA!”
“This is B-TA,” Decker said.
Beta made some spectacular drumming sound effects.   The clock light flickered.
Kirk quickly got to work wiping away the dirt and grime, reading the letters he uncovered.   “B, E, T, A,” he read.   “BETA!” Then he uncovered two more words.   “.    .    .    Video Recorder,” he read.   ” – BETA Video Recorder!”
“I have heard of these,” Spock said.   “They were primitive recording devices used in Earth’s twentieth century.”
“BETA is ready to transmit its information,” Decker said.
“Data, see if you can link it up to our ship’s computers,” Picard said.
“Aye, sir,” Data said, finding a lead and connecting it to the rear of BETA.
“BETA quite liked that,” Decker said.
Ignoring him, Data attached the other end of the lead to one of the ship’s consoles.
“We are ready to receive transmission,” Picard said.
“BETA is unable to transmit,” Decker said.
“Why?”
“Here,” Spock said, examining BETA.   “I think I’ve found the problem.   The pre-record button is still depressed.   If I push that, and then press play…'”
BETA began to transmit.
The Bridge lights flickered haphazardly.   The guitar-like and drumming sound effects were overwhelming.   The Bridge reverberated under the onslaught of special effects.
Troi screamed out.   “It’s horrible!” she cried.   “What I’m sensing is truly horrible!”
“Indeed it is, sir,” Data agreed, as images appeared on the viewer.   “Every episode of Beverly Hills 90210 pre-recorded.   Melrose Place, Thirty-something…oh no!    Doogie Howser M.D., too…”
“No wonder your mindmeld with it knocked you out, Spock,” McCoy said.
The Enterprise shuddered, feeling like it was going to tear itself apart.
“What’s happening?” Picard asked.
“BETA is frustrated by its own limitations, Captain,” Spock said.   “I believe it is trying to merge with the ship.”
“No!” Riker said.   He started toward BETA, hoping to smash it.
Spock stopped him.   “No, Commander,” he warned.   “It will merge with you instead if you touch it.”
“We must do something!” Picard said.
“Decker, look at that,” Kirk said.
“At what?” Decker asked, looking around.
“Over there.” Kirk pointed.
Decker looked away.
Then Kirk pushed him into BETA.
There was an incandescent flash of blinding light.   It encompassed the entire ship, then faded slowly, slowly, until all ship’s systems had returned to normal.   On the viewer, there was a ball of white light;   quickly, it sped away into nothingness.
“Clever thinking, Admiral,” Picard commended.
“Yes, it was,” Kirk agreed.   “Once again I save civilization as we know it.”
“So Decker’s merged with yet another form of consciousness,” McCoy said.
“It would appear so,” Spock said.
“But I don’t understand,” Crusher said.
“What’s that?” Kirk asked.
“You pushed Decker.   I thought he was protected by an energy field that was activated any time somebody tried to attack him…” Crusher’s voice trailed off with the response she received.
From Kirk, Spock, and McCoy came a loud and unified, “Sshhh!” The Enterprise 1701-D crew looked quite and utterly astonished at being shushed by three such veterans.
“What’s wrong?” Riker asked.   “What is it?”
“That’s Major Flaw and Pot Hole in the Script Number #1,” Spock said.   “You’re not meant to pick that up.   You’ll learn that when you get onto the Big Screen.”
“Oh, sorry.”
“It’s quite all right.”
“I think it’s about time we started back.   Mr. Crusher,” Picard said, “set course heading for Earth, Warp 9.”
“Course heading Earth, sir,” Wesley complied, “Warp 9.”
“Go!” Picard ordered.
And the Enterprise started its long haul back to Earth.

April 4th, 1993.
Silk.

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