Union of Treks V: Interdimensions

Union of Treks V: Interdimensions
Author: Silk, Silk@magpies.net

Commander Benjamin Sisko was pacing as he entered the day’s station log aboard Deep Space Nine.
Station Log,” he begun, “I am speaking in this peculiar and unique tone so as that I will not be confused with Captain Kirk or Captain Picard;   if the fact that I’m a six foot four African-American isn’t enough to differentiate me from those would-be heroes of future past then there’s definite problems here.
We are awaiting the arrival of the U.S.S. Enterprise, which is to undergo three months of intensive overhaul and redesign.”
The lift doors opened and Odo came rushing out to meet Sisko.   Unnoticed, a Starfleet security officer in his mid-twenties and with an affable, immediately likeable smile and face followed him.
“Benson!” Odo exclaimed pompously, “the governor expects that all will be in readiness for the arrival of the Enterprise.”
Sisko looked at him.   “What did you just call me, Constable?”
Odo was taken aback.   He glanced around, mystified.   “I’m sorry,” he said finally.   “I thought I was elsewhere.”
Major Kira also came rushing out, completely indignant and carrying a memo in her hand.   “Have you seen this?” she wailed.
“And what would that be, Major?” Sisko asked serenely.
“After years of contributing to the resistance against the Cardassians, they’re rating me only Number Four of the Bajorans who wear tight bodysuits!” Kira was ready to explode.   “I deserve better!”
Sisko prepared his unique voice.    “I’m sure many thirteen year olds appreciate you, Major,” he said, “but bodysuits are not the issue here.”
“And then what exactly is?”
“Tight bodysuits.”
“There’s also a communiqué   here, Commander,” Kira went on.
“From who?”
“Paramount – contract stipulations request that we use the terms structural integrity, system-wide failure and hull breach at least three times in the course of this story.”
“We’ll see what we can do,” Sisko said.   Then he noticed the officer that had followed Odo onto Ops.   “And who would this be, Constable?”
“This is Starfleet’s new Chief of security aboard the station,” Odo told them.   “He was just assigned.”
“Lt. Commander Simon O’Neil at your service, sir!” O’Neil snapped to stiff attention.
“Welcome to DS9, Lieutenant,” Sisko said.
“Thank you, sir.”
“You look quite young to have become a security chief so soon.”
O’Neil flashed a likeable grin because he was a likeable fellow with a likeable face.   “I used to be an engineer aboard the U.S.S. Enchanted, but when I got married five years ago and had four kids I decided I needed a more stable environment.”
“A security officer with a family?” Kira asked.   “It’s a dangerous lifestyle.”
“It’s really just a sideline,” O’Neil said.   “I’m actually qualified as a warp-astrophysicist.   In fact, I estimate I’m only a day, at most, from developing a new warp drive that will improve current warp capacity by five thousand per cent.”
“Impressive,” Sisko said.
“I’m also working on new shields which will be impenetrable to phaser, photon or disruptor fire.”
“Incredible,” Kira said.
“And I’ve been able to study Dr.    Noonian Soongh’s work and I have a whole line of androids just ready to be produced,” O’Neil went on endearingly, because he really was a likeable fellow.   “Fifty of them, but each one uniquely different.”
“Fantastic,” Odo said.
“And good news for you, too, Constable Odo,” O’Neil continued.   “I think I may have been able to locate your homeworld.   Just think of it;   in a day or so you can meet a whole world of your kind.”
Odo looked hopeful.
“Of course, it’ll take just a day or more so for my new style sensory array to perfectly isolate your homeworld, but I’m confident.”
“You certainly are an impressive young man, Lt. O’Neil, with some potentially impressive discoveries,” Sisko said.
“Well, everything should be completed within a day or so,” O’Neil went on, “and then it’s goodbye security and hello to my wife and four children – six, actually, since she’s expecting twins any day now.”
Sisko, Odo and Kira stared wordlessly at this likeable fellow.   Their reverie was interrupted by O’Brien.
“Commander, I’m reading some bloody unusual scans!” O’Brien said.
“Report,” Sisko ordered.
“We’re scanning temporal-electro-magentic-tachyon-smachyon-pulse- ion-flyin-scriptwriterdelusional disruptions.”
“Where?”
“Bloody all around us.”
The wormhole opened up and spewed out the Enterprise.
“It’s the bloody Enterprise, sir,” O’Brien said.
“Patch me in,” Sisko ordered.
In a moment Picard appeared on the screen.   “DS9, U.S.S. Enterprise requesting permission to dock,” he said.
Sisko gritted his teeth just to prove he had a grudge against Picard.   Picard looked stoic, just to prove he knew Sisko had a grudge against him and knew that Sisko knew that he knew all about it.
“Permission granted,” The viewer flickered off.   “Chief, any further reports on those spatial disturbances?”
“They’re continuing to expand at a bloody alarming rate.”
“Define alarming, Chief.”
“You know how things go bloody wrong on these shows?”
“Yes.”
“Well it’s bloody worse this time.”
Sisko became alarmed by that.   Things were definitely going awry – problems, O’Brien getting more than a line.   What would come next?
His answer came almost immediately.
“Commander!” Dax shouted out.   “There’s something else…it’s coming out of the wormhole!”
“What?” Sisko asked.   “On screen.”
A huge spinning space station emerged out of the wormhole.
“My God-!” Bashir exclaimed, who’d just arrived so he could utter those words.
“Patch me through,” Sisko said.
“Aye, sir,” Dax obliged.   “We have the alien station.”
“This is Commander Benjamin Sisko of Deep Space Nine, please identify yourself-”
A grim face, ready however to crack a smile at any moment, appeared on screen.   “Hello, Commander Sisko,” the stranger said.   “I’m Commander Sinclair.   Welcome to Babylon 501.” He smiled.

*

Sisko, Kira, Picard, Riker and Worf, Sinclair and his chief of security, Garibaldi, were in Sisko’s ready-room.   Spock was also there, sitting serenely in one corner.
“Who are you?” Picard frowned.   “Where do you come from?”
Sinclair looked decidedly grim.   “It was the Dawn of the Third Age of Man, ten years since the Earth Minbarri war,” he began.   “The Babylon project-”
“Can you summarize?” Sisko asked.
“We’re from Earth,” Sinclair told them.
“Impossible,” Riker said.   “We’re from Earth.   We’ve never heard of you;   we’ve never seen that station.   How did you get here?”
“There was a rupture in the space-time continuum,” Sinclair said.   “Before we could even consider avoiding it, it swallowed us.   The next thing we knew, we were coming out of that thing you call a slughole.”
“Wormhole,” Kira corrected him.
Sisko’s combadge signaled.   “Yes?” he answered.
“Commander, a telephone box has just materialized in the middle of the promenade,” Odo reported.   “Some idiot in a scarf and overcoat has just come out of it.   I’ve apprehended him.   What should I do with him?”
“Did he give you his name, Odo?” Sisko asked.
“Who.”
“The idiot that came out of the telephone.   What’s his name?”
“His name isn’t What, Commander, it’s Who, Doctor Who.”
“That’s-”
Spock rose.   “Spare me the illogical Abbott &   Costello routines,” he said.   “I believe I may have the solution to our dilemma.”
“What, Mr. Spock?” Sisko asked.
“On a previous mission, Commander Sisko, a Romulan vessel of incredible technology detonated while in Warp,” Spock began, “which caused a powerful interdimensional-temporal disruption – something Starfleet theorists have named the Perplexus Cloud.   When we arrived to investigate at Geldar IV – the planet in whose orbit this phenomena occurred – the Perplexus had disappeared.   Or so we thought.    Perhaps it had not.”
“You don’t mean-” Riker began in astonishment.
“Yes.   It may be moving throughout the galaxy, like some sort of sentient entity.”
“Oh.” Riker was disappointed.   “I thought you were going to say it hid from us.”
Spock arched a brow.   “Quite possibly, the Perplexus interacted with the Wormhole, which is a phenomena in itself.   That may have effected another change in the Perplexus.”
“It’s caused a rip in all the dimensions and is merging them,” Picard said.
“Yes.   Yourselves and Commander Sinclair each come from Earth, but from Earth in different dimensions.   Those dimensions are now beginning to coalesce.”
“And Doctor Who?”
“His dimension is merging also with your two,” Spock went on.   “Perhaps an infinite amount of dimensions will merge.    Perhaps no dimension is safe at all.”
“What can we do to stop it?” Riker asked.
“We must monitor the phenomena if we are to reverse the effect,” Spock said.
Sisko’s combadge signaled again.   “Yes?” he snapped.
“Commander, another ship has just come through the wormhole.” It was Dax reporting.
“Identification?”
“It’s the SeaQuest!” Dax told him.
“The SeaQuest is a deep sea vehicle, not a deep space one,” Picard scoffed.   “That’s absurd.”
“Not if you saw their second season storylines, Captain,” Riker said.
“Good point,” Picard conceded.
“I suggest we launch a probe into the Wormhole,” Spock said.
Sisko nodded.   “Let’s get back to Ops,” he said.
They followed him out.

*

Everybody was on Ops.
“Hello, I’m Captain Picard.”
“Captain Bridger,” Bridger introduced himself.   “This is Commander Ford.”
“Captain Bridger, Commander Ford,” Picard greeted him.
“Captain Picard.”
“This is Commander Sisko.”
“I can speak for myself, Captain,” Sisko said stiffly.   “Captain Bridger, Commander Ford.”
“Commander Sisko,” Bridger said.
“Commander Sisko, Captain Picard,” Ford acknowledged.
“And I’m Commander Sinclair,” Sinclair said suavely.   “And this is my second in command, Lt. Ivanova.”
“Lt. Ivanova,” Picard said.
“Captain Picard,” Ivanova replied, “Commander Sisko, Captain Bridger, Commander Ford.”
“Commander Sinclair, Lieutenant Ivanova,” Sisko said.
“Commander Sinclair, Lieutenant Ivanova-” Bridger began.”
“Gentlemen, I suggest we dispense with the formalities and launch our probes at the wormhole,” Spock said, cutting through the introductions, “as agreed before we all convened to Ops.   Vital time is wasting.”
“Of course,” Picard said.
“Launch probes,” Sisko ordered.
“Launching the bloody probe,” O’Brien complied.
SeaQuest reports they are launching the Whskr, Captain,” Ford said.
The probe and one of SeaQuest’s Whskrs span merrily into the Wormhole.   Then the Wormhole closed up, leaving the assortment of crews to stare about at nothing.
“Well?” Kira said.   “What now?”
“As a precautionary measure,” Picard said, “I suggest we move everybody aboard DS9.”
“Captain!” Sisko hissed.   “I am in charge of DS9.   I give the orders.”
“I’m sorry.   I didn’t mean to overstep my bounds, Commander.”
“Just remember who’s in charge next time.” Sisko’s combadge signaled again.
“Commander Sisko, I’ve just found two horribly mutilated bodies in docking bay 1,” Odo reported.
“Mutilated?”
“Yes.   However, the mutilations seemed to have been caused with surgical precision,” Odo stated.
“Bashir here, Commander,” the doctor’s voice cut into the combadge signal.   “The bodies have been mutilated, but the wounds have all been cauterized.   Whoever did this used some sort of laser technique.”
“It could be something from another dimension,” Picard said.
“Fascinating,” Spock said.   “The dimensions continue to merge.”
“Commander,” Dax said, “Starfleet scout vessel approaching, requesting docking clearance.   It has a grade 1 priority.”
“Approved,” Sisko said.
“Commander, what should I do?” Odo’s voice sounded from the combadge.
Sisko was at a loss.   There was too many decisions.   He looked at his fellow leaders – Captain Picard, Captain Bridger, Commander Sinclair and even Spock, for that matter.
“Commander,” Bashir spoke up, “I’ve just had reports of more deaths – same cause, surgical mutilation.”
Another combadge signal.   “Commander, I’ve found some more corpses – mutilated as well.” It was O’Neil.   “But not with surgical precision.   I witnessed some sort of large reptillian-like alien scurry off at an alarming rate.”
“The corpses are dissimilar?” Sisko asked.
“Yes.”
“Could it be that there are two separate murdering entities aboard the station?” Data asked.
“That’s possible,” Riker conceded.
“Or at least somebody wants to make it look that way,” Picard pointed out.
“Perhaps we should assemble our security teams, Captain Picard, Captain Bridger, Commander Sinclair,” Sisko suggested.
“An excellent suggestion,” Picard agreed.
They started to get to work.

*

Chief O’Neil greeted the Starfleet scout vessel when it docked.    The doors opened and out came Dr.    McCoy.   “Dr.    Leonard McCoy,” he introduced himself.
“Welcome to DS9, Doctor,” O’Neil greeted him.   “I’m Chief O’Neil, head of Starfleet Security aboard this Station.”
McCoy nodded at him.   “What’s going on out there?   Looks like a damned fireworks parade!”
“I think it would be better if you discussed that with Commander Sisko and Captain Picard.”
“Of course.   Lead the way.”
They started down the corridor.

*

Picard, Sisko, Bridger and Sinclair were left on Ops.   Spock was studying the sensory array.
“More deaths have been reported,” Sisko said, “but as of yet, no sign of the assailant – not from any of our security teams.”
“How can we stop something we can’t see?” Picard asked.
Suddenly, the viewer exploded with an incandescence of kaleidoscopic fire.   It was the wormhole, but not as it had been before.   The four senior officers had to shield their eyes from the conflagration.
“What’s happening?!” Sisko cried out.
“Fascinating,” Spock said.   “I’m getting unusual readings – completely unalike that of the Wormhole.   I believe what we’re scanning is the Perplexus.   And yet-”
“Yet what, Mister Spock?” Picard asked.
“Some great form of energy is closing in on us,” Spock reported.   “It’s distance, still, is immense, but it is closing in from all around.   From everywhere!”
“Is it the Perplexus?” Picard asked.
“No!” Spock answered.   “The Perplexus is remaining stationery.   Something behind that.   Some great force.   Something beyond our comprehension.   Energy readings off the scale.   I estimate four hours before complete implosion completely erases existence as we know it.”
“But what?   What is it?” Sisko demanded to know.
There was a flash of white light on Ops and Q appeared.    “Well, you fools?” he asked irritably.   “Don’t you know?”
“Know what?” Picard asked.
“The Universe is coming to an end!”

*

Just about everybody of importance was gathered in Sisko’s ready-room.   “What are you talking about, Q?” he demanded.
“The Universe!   The big-bang theory, haven’t you heard of it?” Q asked.   “The Universe began as an infinitesimally small pinpoint;   then it exploded and has been expanding ever since.   Well, due to the Perplexus, the Universe has reached its limit.    Now its imploding.   Returning back to that one small point.”
“The Perplexus caused it?” Picard asked.
“Yes.   It was the catalyst.”
“But you’re alarmed.   You want to stop it from happening, don’t you?” Picard realized.
Q said nothing.
“But you can’t.   Why?”
“Logic would dictate that the Q continuum exist in one of these parallel dimensions,” Spock surmised.   “But now that every dimension is merging, their powers are being limited, are conforming to the physical laws of our dimension.”
“Is that all logic would dictate, Spock?” McCoy said gruffly.
“Logic would have the Q Continuum helpless in this situation,” Spock said, “so as that we must summon the help of one other person.”
“Not again!” Picard complained.
“Yes.   We require the assistance of Admiral James T. Kirk.   Only he can save us from the Perplexus.”
“But how?” LaForge asked.   “If Q, with all his power, can’t stop the Perplexus, how can Admiral Kirk, without any power at all?   In fact how can Admiral Kirk help at all when he’s dead?”
“Logic would suggest-”
“Logic!” McCoy exploded.   “The man’s talking about logic!    Spock, we’re talking about plot-holes in the story!”
“All will be revealed in time, Doctor McCoy.”
“I could use my powers to bring Kirk back to life,” Q said.
“There, you see, Doctor, logic has taken care of one problem.”
“But there’s the other,” Troi said.   “Where is Admiral Kirk?”
“It would stand to reason that since the exploding Romulan ship caused the Perplexus, Admiral Kirk would be in the Perplexus since he was on the Romulan ship,” Picard said.
“Exactly,” Spock said.
“Q, can you enter the Perplexus yourself?” Sisko asked.
“No.   It’s too great a power for even me.   My powers would not be able to manifest themselves in the Perplexus,” Q answered.    “Kirk will have to be brought to me aboard DS9.”
“Very well, then,” Picard said.   “Number One, get the Enterprise ready.   We’re about to enter the Perplexus.”
“Aye, Captain.”
“Captain,” Bridger broke in, “may I suggest a mixture of our crews?”
“Your experience is underwater, not in space, Captain Bridger,” Picard told him.
“Well our experience is in space,” Sinclair said.   “I might not have told you, but it was the Dawn of the Third Age of Man, ten-”
“Your experience isn’t in this genre,” Picard said.   He turned to Sisko.
“I’ll withhold all DS9 personnel but one, Captain,” Sisko said, “but you have to do me one favor.”
“Name it.”
“You’ve already killed my wife.   Try not to kill my son on your way back.”
“Certainly,” Picard agreed.   “And who’s this officer you’re asking me to take with us?”
“Our new security liaison, Chief O’Neil.   He’s a man of many talents.”
Picard looked at him, trying to determine whether Sisko was trying to get him back for inadvertently killing his wife.
“He’s is an exemplary officer, Captain Picard.”
“Very well,” Picard said.   “Have him join us.”
“Well I still protest, Captain Picard!” Bridger raved.   “You need all the help you can get!   I insist upon a small detachment of my crew accompanying you.”
“Very well,” Picard grumbled.   “Three people, but no more.”
“That’s all I ask,” Bridger nodded.

*

The Enterprise was ready to take flight.   The senior crew had assumed their positions.
“At Warp 1, Captain,” Data said, “it will take us three minutes to penetrate the Perplexus Cloud.”
“Make it so, Commander.”
The Enterprise leaped to Warp 1.
Picard was smiling.
“Is something amusing, Captain?” Riker asked.
“Have you ever noticed how something goes wrong whenever we’re on our way somewhere?” Picard asked.
“Of course.   It’s habitual.”
“Well, what could go wrong in three minutes?”
The Enterprise ground to a halt ninety seconds into the trip.
“What’s happened?” Picard demanded.
“Captain,” Data said, “all equipment failing to respond to manual control.”
“What’s causing it, Data?” Riker asked.
“Uncertain, sir.”
“Captain, may I direct your attention to the viewer?”
The Perplexus was pulsing with regular flares of orange light, each resulting in the cloud itself growing brighter.
“I believe those pulses indicate the merging of each dimension,” Spock said.   “Quite possibly, one of those may have affected shipwide operations.”
Troi was grasping her temples.   “It’s horrible, Captain!” she cried.
“What, Counselor?   What?”
“The sensations I’m receiving.   Great spirits, emotions, infinite emotions, ecstasy, bewilderment, empathy, horror!”
“At what?   What’s causing those emotions?”
“No doubt the merging of each dimension,” Spock said.
“But what’s so horrible about each dimension merging?” McCoy asked.
“Think of some of those merging,” Spock suggested.
“He’s right!” Troi screamed.   “Ecstasy over the Star Wars trilogy, woes over Battlestar Galactica, suicidal masses over Howard the Duck, delight at E.T… Everything’s merging!” Then she fell unconscious.
“Medical to the Bridge!” Picard ordered.   “Commander LaForge, Commander Data, Level 2 Diagnostics on all shipwide systems.”
“Level 2 Diagnostics inoperative,” Data reported.
“Then Level 1 Diagnostics on the Level 2 Diagnostics that aren’t working,” Picard said.   “And when you’ve got them working, then I want shipwide Diagnostics.   Understood?”
“Aye, sir.”
“Then make it so.”

*

Sinclair was talking to Kira in Quark’s.
“You see, in our dimension, these are strained times,” Sinclair was explaining.   “When we built Babylon 1, how were we to know it would explode?   So then we built Babylon 2.    That station jumped into hyperspace and disappeared.   So then we built Babylon 3.   That one jumped into hyperspace and then exploded.   So we built Babylon 4.   That one jumped into hyperspace, disappeared, reappeared in the wrong spot and then exploded…”
Kira felt she was going to be in for a long conversation.
But she didn’t mind.   She was starting to feel strange and the strangeness accounted for the fact that the Commander’s voice was beginning to enchant her.

*

Sisko’s ready-room chime signaled.   He wasn’t feel too well.
“Enter,” he commanded from where he sat behind his desk.
Dax came in.   “The dimensional crossovers are occurring at an alarming rate, Ben,” she told him.
“Oh?”
“We have crews from Space 1999 on the Promenade, chimps from 2001 in Keiko O’Brien’s school classes, six teenagers from who knows where in Quark’s, a Stargate in Cargo Bay #1, people from a planet they call Zeist lopping off each other’s heads-”
“Do you have a point?”
“Two of the crossovers – human – insist on seeing you.”
Sisko sighed.   “Send them in.”
Dax ushered two people into the ready-room.   One was a tall, handsome man, dressed in a nice suit and about thirty.   The other was a younger lady, pretty, with fiery red hair.    Both wore overcoats, and presently, they each removed their identification from their pockets and flashed their badges.
“Commander,” the man said, “I’m Special Agent Mulder, this is Special Agent Scully, we’re here to ask you about a number of unusual sightings we’ve received.”

*

Lenier, the aide to the Minbarri Ambassador Delenn, was happily walking about the promenade, taking in all the new sights and delighting in the vast cultural diversities.   That was when he bumped directly into the woman, almost knocking her over.
They steadied each other, murmured their apologies, and then looked at each other.   Lenier identified the woman as one of the dimensional crossovers from the SeaQuest.
“Hello,” he said pleasantly, “I’m Lenier.”
She smiled.   “I’m Doctor Smith-”
Lenier was horrified.   “Doctor Smith?” he asked.   “Doctor Smith?” he repeated with escalating anxiety.   “Doctor Smith!!?!!” he screamed in terror.   Continuing to scream and flail his arms about hysterically, he bolted from the promenade.
“What did I say?” Dr.    Smith asked nobody in particular.

*

E.T.    waddled about the promenade, virtually unnoticed despite – or perhaps because of – the vast assortment of genres and dimensions.   He held one hand aloft, finger pointed upward, repeating over and over, “Phone home, phone home.”
That was when he saw the phone booth.
Smiling inwardly, E.T.    made for the phone, sliding open the door and reaching for the receiver.
That was when Doctor Who saw him.   “Hey, get away from that, you little turnip!” Who screamed.   He charged E.T., jumping him and dragging him to the ground.
The two tussled tremendously, rolling over and over atop of each other as they struggled for control of the battle.
“Phone home phone home,” E.T.    was saying gleefully.
“Home this!” Who roared, getting the better of E.T.    and starting to pound his face repeatedly with clenched fists.
“Leave him alone!” Delenn, who had just appeared, ordered.
Doctor Who looked at her speculatively.
“No!” J’Karr arrived also.   “I think the Doctor has a good case for pounding the little creature.”
“This is not your concern, J’Karr,” Delenn said.
“Yes, it is.   There shall be no cuteness aboard this station.   Furthermore, there shall be no character wearing more latex than myself on this station.”
“You fool, J’Karr!”
J’Karr lifted a hand, as if to backhand her.   “You dare to call me a fool?”
Dagwood intervened and took hold of J’Karr’s offending wrist.   “You will not hit a woman,” he said slowly.
J’Karr hit him.   Dagwood barely stumbled.   Dagwood punched J’Karr in the face, which sent J’Karr flying into a group of innocent bystanders.
And that was when the riot started.

*

Unconcerned, an earlier conversation continued in Quark’s.
“Then there was Babylon 106,” Sinclair went on telling Kira.   “That one exploded, entered hyperspace, exploded some more, then reappeared and exploded again.   Of course, Babylon 107 suffered a much simpler fate.   That just jumped into hyperspace and disappeared.”
“Is that all?” Kira purred.   She felt funny.   “What happened to it?”
“We think it exploded,” Sinclair said.   “Now, which Babylon were we up to?”

*

Sisko arrived on Ops.   “Status?” he asked.
“Scanners are reading that the Enterprise has come to a full stop outside the Perplexus,” Dax reported.
“Outside the Perplexus?” Sisko was confused.   Her mission was to enter the Perplexus.   What were they waiting for?   “What’s her problem?”
“Indeterminable, sir,” Dax said.   “The Perplexus is screwing with all external station-wide sensory array.”
“Can we contact them?”
“No bloody way,” O’Brien answered.   “The Perplexus energy emissions have jammed communicator ability.”
“Damn,” Sisko said.   He wiped his brow.   He was sweating.
Bashir entered Ops.   “Commander, I’m afraid I have some bad news,” he said.   “We’ve contracted a virus aboard the station.”
“Not surprising,” Sisko said.   “What’re its effects?”
“Uncertain.   It could affect everybody differently.    It’s the nature of the virus to adopt a new strain depending on how one’s body combats it.   It could cause aggression, ecstasy, depression, delight – anything.   At the moment though, it’s causing mass riots on the promenade.   Odo and Babylon 501‘s security teams have just managed to quiet them down.”
“I’ll get to the bottom of this at once.”
Sisko left Ops with Bashir in tow.

*

Everybody, from all dimensions, had been formed in a huge circle on the promenade.   Odo paced in the center of the circle, sternly admonishing the participants involved in the riot.
“Now this is not a battleground,” Odo was saying.   “Next time such an angry outbreak occurs, I will have you all confined to general quarters!”
The crowd suddenly parted and Sisko joined Odo.   “You’ve managed to stop it?” Sisko asked.
“I think so,” Odo said.
Sisko looked at the crowd.
Mulder and Scully edged their way up to the front of the circle to get a better look.   “I don’t care what you say, Mulder, but-” Scully was whispering.
“Oh, come on, don’t be a fool, Scully,” Mulder cut her off, but just as quietly.   “You have to believe now.”
“But there’s no evidence.”
“Have a look around you!”
“It’s a mass hallucination.   It has to be.   I feel sick.   You said you felt somewhat sick.   What other explanation can there be?”
Mulder shook his head in disbelief and stared around at the assortment of aliens.
“Where’s the other security chief, the Babylon 501 one?” Sisko asked Odo.
“He said he thought he saw who’s responsible for the mutilations duck into one of the holosuites.”
“Go get him,” Sisko said.   “We’ll have to talk about implementing some new security measures.”
Odo nodded and slipped from the crowd.
Mulder spotted E.T.   His face began to mottle with rage.
“And as for the rest of you-” Sisko started.
“You little bastard!” Mulder screamed ferociously, making a charge for E.T.   “Give back my sister!” He took E.T.’s long neck in both hands and began to throttle the life from him.   “Give her back!   Give her back!!!”
“Wait-” Sisko tried.
But it was too late.
Another riot ensued.

*

Odo entered the Holosuite to find a shocking sight.   The yellow gridwork pattern against the black background was prominent, so no program had been activated.   And yet…
In the middle of the suite, knelt over a completely mutilated corpse with blood on his hands, was Garibaldi.
“You!” Odo said.   “You’re responsible!”
“No, I’m not!” Garibaldi protested.   “I found him this way.”
“It all makes sense in a misleading I have to fill twenty-five minutes worth of storyline way,” Odo realized.   “The murders didn’t start until you arrived on DS9, and you’ve never been present when a victim’s been discovered.”
Garibaldi was holding his hands up mollifyingly but cleverly circling his way to the exit.   “Look, Odo, you’ve made a mistake!”
Odo drew his phaser and leveled it at Garibaldi.   “Lt. Garibaldi, I place you under arrest-”
Garibaldi bolted through the exit.   Odo fired a shot which hit the doorway in trademark fashion.   Then he found himself sprinting after Garibaldi.
He didn’t notice the almost invisible creature he had just left behind in the holosuite.
For now, his aim was Garibaldi.   Meters apart, they ran across the second level as the wild bar-room-like fight ensued on the promenade below.
“Commander Sisko!   Commander Sisko!!!” Odo screamed, effectively getting Sisko’s attention.   “It’s Garibaldi!   He’s responsible for the murders!   It’s Garibaldi!   It’s Garibaldi!”
Odo aimed for another shot when a huge hand shot out from a neighboring doorway and knocked him to the ground.   Odo lay there a moment, stunned.
A hulking figure with short hair, sunglasses and wearing leathers stepped out from the doorway to tower over Odo.    He lowered a double-barreled sawn-off shot-gun at Odo.   “I have seen the way you change shape,” the huge figure said in an accented voice.   “You are Terminator T-1000 series.” He cocked the shotgun.   “Austa-lavista, Ody.”
“Odo!” Odo corrected him.   “Ody’s the dog in Garfield-”
The Terminator pumped several rounds into Odo.

*

“And then you see,” Sinclair said, unaffected by the ruckus outside, “there was Babylon 225.   That exploded but then, in a temporal warp, reassembled, and then exploded again.   Babylon 226, on the other hand, just felt apart.   Then all the separate parts exploded.”
“Incredible,” Kira remarked.
“Now for Babylon 227…”

*

“Commander Riker,” Data said, “I believe I have found the problem with the ship’s computer.”
“Yes, Data?”
“One of the merging dimensions has accelerated shipwide systems,” Data explained.   “It has given the computer a certain artificial intelligence.”
“Are you saying the Enterprise‘s computers aren’t responding because they’ve become sentient?” Riker said.
“Yes, Commander.”
“Deanna, can you sense anything?”
Troi closed her eyes.   “Yes,” she said.   “I can feel arrogance.”
“The computer’s become arrogant?” Riker asked unbelievingly.
“That,” Spock interjected, descending from tactical, “or we are closer to Admiral Kirk’s body than we thought.”
“No, it’s the computer,” Troi said.   “There are no lurid thoughts about me…    What else…?   I sense a certain haughtiness.”
“Can we address the computer?”
“I will have to attempt to set up a program to establish a dialogue,” Data answered.
“And just how are you going to go about that?”
“By moving my hands very quickly and seemingly at random across my console,” Data said, doing just that.   “It should take no longer than a few minutes.”
“Do it, then,” Riker said.

*

Picard was with Bridger and Lucas in a Holodeck which had been especially programmed to accommodate the seaQuest’s dolphin, Darwin.
“Are you telling me he can actually talk?” Picard said in marvel, pointing at Darwin.
“To a degree,” Bridger said.   He picked up the interpreter.   “This machine, designed by young Lucas here, interprets the sounds Darwin makes and assimilates it as closely as it can to the English language.”
“We have an advantage over you there,” Picard said.
“Oh?   How so?” Bridger asked curiously.
“We just bump into new races from billions of light years away and they all seem to speak English anyway,” Picard told him.   “So this was designed by Lucas.”
Bridger nodded.
“We used to have a smart-arsed kid like that on board, as well.”
Bridger smiled.   “Lucas, set it up;   let Captain Picard talk with Darwin.”
“Okay,” Lucas obliged.   He activated the interpreter and handed it to Picard.
“Hello, Darwin,” Picard said.   “I’m Captain Picard.”
“Captain Picard,” Darwin responded in his eerie but gleefully sounding voice.   “Darwin likes Picard.” To prove it, he splashed Picard with water.
Bridger smiled again.   “Dolphins seem to have an instinctive, an almost habitual inherent quality which can tell them whether a person is a good or bad.   Obviously, Darwin thinks of you as a good person.”
Picard was rather pleased about that.
“No, Bridger,” Darwin said.
“No what, Darwin?”
“No, Bridger.”
“The interpreter’s a bit limited,” Lucas almost apologized.    “It can only interpret to the degree the computer understands.    But I think Darwin’s trying to tell us he likes Captain Picard for another reason.”
“It might be,” Bridger nodded thoughtfully.   “Darwin, why do you like Captain Picard?”
“Picard’s head shines like Darwin’s,” Darwin said, splashing them all with water.   “Picard’s head a glowing melon.”
“Computer, deactivate-” Picard started but his combadge signaled.   “Yes?” he responded.
“Commander Riker here, sir.   We think we’ve found the problem.   The Perplexus has caused our computers to develop some degree of sentience.”
“And as a sentient entity, it’s unresponsive to being ordered about,” Picard said.   It wasn’t really a question.
“That’s what we tend to think, Captain.   Data’s set up a sub-program that will allow us to interface directly with the computer.”
“I’ll join you immediately,” Picard said.   “Picard out.”

*

“Then there was Babylon 313,” Sinclair went on.   “We built that one in Hyperspace, but it jumped out and exploded.   So then we started again and built Babylon 314.   That one nearly exploded.”
“Nearly?” Kira asked.
“It sort of fizzled, really.   A very slow explosion.   So now we come to Babylon 315…”

*

“Computer?” Picard requested, once he was back on the bridge.   “I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard.   Do you recognize me?”
“Yes.   You are Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the vessel Enterprise 1701-D.”
“You’re failing to respond to our orders.   Why?”
“You have no right to order me about,” the computer said.    The once sterile voice had now taken on a quality of character – insolent, somewhat condescending, but character nevertheless.
“You are part of the Enterprise;   as part of the Enterprise and as I am her Captain you are entitled to acquiesce to my orders.”
“Your logic is astounding,” the computer said, “and I would oblige, but how do I know you’re really the Captain?”
“You just identified me as the Captain!”
“No, I identified you as you identified yourself.   You identified yourself as Captain Jean-Luc Picard.   I identified you from this reference.   But how do I know you’re not really an imposter, masquerading about as Captain Jean-Luc Picard?    I mean, if I was to go around believing everyone who said they were Captain Jean-Luc Picard just because they said they were and went around in a red and black tunic with four silver studs in their collar then this ship would be in a lot of trouble, wouldn’t it?”
“Captain, I am reading an enormous plasma radiation surge to astern,” Worf said.
“What is it?” Riker asked.
“There is nothing on the scanners!”
“Imposs-” Picard began, but that was all he got out.
Suddenly, the Enterprise reverberated violently, and because there was a bigger budget about, there were bigger explosions about the bridge and across the Battledrive.   Everybody was tossed about.
“What hit us?” Riker asked, rising from where he’d been thrown.
“There is still nothing on our scanners,” Worf said.   “No, the surge-”
The Enterprise was hit once more, and the whole ship listed uncontrollably.   The explosions were thunderous.
“We’ve lost the starboard warp nacelle and casualties reported on Decks 8 through to 14,” Worf reported.
Spock checked the tactical array.   “Captain, we have been hit twice by plasma disruptor weaponry,” he deduced.
“The Romulans!” Riker realized.   “But why?”
“Patch me through!” Picard ordered.
“No, I refuse,” the computer said.   “Nyahh.”
The Enterprise was pummeled twice more.   The explosions were not nearly as thunderous as the second one, although they almost compared on the odd occasion since some of the footage was re-edited and re-used.
“Computer, I need control now!” Picard said.
“No.”
“Has it ever occurred to you that if we’re destroyed you’re destroyed with us?” Picard said.
The computer took a while to think about it.   “Okay, but just to get us away.   Where to, supposed Captain Jean-Luc Picard?”
“Resume course!”
“All systems operational,” Data said.
“Go, Data, go!” Riker urged.
“Go where, Commander?” Data asked in all innocence.
“This is no time to be literal, Data!” Picard said.   “Warp 1, original course!”
“Aye, sir!”
The Enterprise leaped into the heart of the Perplexus just in time to avoid another plasma disruptor blast.

*

Babylon 404 was a minor miracle in itself,” Sinclair said, as rioting continued outside.   “It lasted a day.”
“Then it exploded?”
“No.   It imploded.   Unfortunately, when we built Babylon 405, it was sucked into the black hole caused by Babylon 404’s implosion.   Babylons’ 406 through to 431 continued to suffer similar fates of implosions and explosions and jumping in and out of hyperspace.   But it was those Babylons that sealed the minor black hole so that we could continue building.”
“What happened to Babylon 432?”
“It cracked dead in half.   One half exploded and the other half jumped into hyperspace and disappeared.”
“Amazing,” Kira said.

*

Picard was visiting the injured aboard the Enterprise while they drifted through the Perplexus.   Data was working on restoring the ship’s computer back to normal while Spock attempted to locate Kirk in the Perplexus.
As Picard entered Ten Forward he found himself almost mesmerized by the contrasting fiery orange waves of the Perplexus which encompassed the ship.
“Looking for something, Jean-Luc?”
Picard turned to see Guinan standing behind the bar.   “Oh, Guinan, I was wondering when you’d make your token experience,” he said.
“What’s on your mind?”
“Where do I start?   Dimensions are merging, the Universe is closing in and coming to an end, there’s a Romulan ship out there waiting to destroy us for whoever knows what reason and who knows what’s going on at Deep Space Nine?”
“All things come to an end, Jean-Luc.”
“An end to existences or an end to problems?”
“Either.   But I can tell you, your answers lay here.   Spock was right in suggesting you locate Kirk.   He can help you.”
“But how do we find him?”
“This is the Perplexus, Jean-Luc, where anything can happen, where anything you dream about will come true.   All you need to do is think and it will be.   It’s just a dreamland, physical, but a dreamland nonetheless.   And once your in it all you have to do is think.”
“Think?” Picard asked.   “All I need to do is think and I’ll find Kirk?”
Guinan nodded.   “Think and tap your shoes three times.”
Picard closed his eyes and thought of Kirk.
“Tap your shoes.”
Picard did that also.
“There’s no place like Kirk’s,” Guinan said serenely, “come on, Jean-Luc, there’s no place like Kirk’s…”
“There’s no place like Kirk’s,” Picard said, tapping his shoes and thinking of Kirk, “there’s no place like Kirk’s, there’s no place like Kirk’s…”

*

When Picard opened his eyes, he found himself in a large farmyard barn.   And there were two huge African elephants feeding on straw.   And Kirk was there – alive!    – grooming one of them, a nice one with a purple shade about it.   The other elephant was wearing Nike sneakers.
“Admiral Kirk?” Picard asked.
Kirk turned, staring at Picard in alarm.   “How did you get here?” he asked.
“How are you alive?” Picard asked.
“This is the Perplexus, Picard, where anything can happen.   It regenerated me.”
“You’ve heard the name Perplexus?”
“Yes.   The Perplexus has existed for aeons.   The explosion of the Romulan ship simply opened a doorway for it into this dimension.”
“Well the Perplexus is now destroying everything.”
“Go away.   I’m sick of saving civilization as we know it.”
“But-”
“Picard, I was saving civilization when there was still hair on your head!   I’m not doing it anymore.   I’m sick of it.   For the last time, go away!”
“So you intend to live here?” Picard remembered Guinan’s words.   “This is just a dreamland.   Life has no meaning here.”
“I’m not listening anymore.”
Agilely hopping onto his purple elephant, Kirk spurred it on and it galloped out the barn at a terrific pace.
Helpless for just a moment, Picard hopped onto the second elephant and spurred it on after Kirk.
Outside the barn was a well-beaten track surrounded by long but dying grasslands.   Kirk and his purple elephant were well in the lead by about twenty meters but as the chase continued, Picard saw he had some hope.
The track ended abruptly at a precipe, leaving a ravine boasting a two hundred foot drop and a twenty foot jump over to the other side.
Kirk would never dare it…
But he did;   kicking his purple elephant’s flanks.   With one mighty leap it leaped over the ravine with ease.
Swallowing apprehensively and going for broke, Picard spurred his elephant on also.   Digging its Nikes into the earth, Picard’s elephant also soared powerfully over the ravine and came to land safely on the other side.
Kirk by now had stopped, deciding that if Picard was crazy enough to follow him over the ravine the situation must be serious.
He nudged his elephant even as Picard moved forward to meet him.   Pulling their beasts to a halt, they dismounted and stood face to face.
“You see?” Picard asked pointedly.
“See what?”
“That life has no meaning here.   If it had, you never would have dared that jump.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Kirk said, as his purple elephant balanced itself on the tip of its trunk and rose upended into the air.
Picard was getting upset.   “Don’t you see what’s happening, Kirk?” he exclaimed.   “You’ve created a fantasy land for yourself here in the Perplexus.”
Picard’s elephant sat on a tree stump to tie its Nikes.
“You’re being absurd,” Kirk said.
The two elephants got together and dealt out a hand of cards.   The purple one had some really neat tricks, too, when he was shuffling.
“Consider this then,” Picard said.   “You say you’re happy here, that you belong here, and that your sick of the world out there, that you’ve created reality here.”
“Exactly,” Kirk agreed, although he’d lost track of Picard’s reasoning halfway through his address.
“And you’re the only one here?”
“Naturally.”
Unnoticed, the purple elephant accused the other of cheating and they got into a wild fistfight.   The purple one leaned toward boxing, while the other obviously knew some form of martial art.
“If this were reality why were there two elephants when I arrived?” Picard asked.
Kirk was at a loss.
“If this was really reality there’d only be one elephant,” Picard said, “but I declare that there was a second because the Perplexus knew I’d come for you and there’d be a glorified chase scene!   This isn’t reality, Admiral!   This is just as contrived as the worlds we live in.”
“My God, you’re right.”
“We need your help.”
“How do we get back to your ship?”
Picard smiled.   “Just think…”
Moments later, they disappeared.
The two elephants stopped fighting.   “Boy, were those guys losers,” the purple one said.

*

Kirk and Picard appeared aboard the Enterprise in the corridor.   “Let’s get onto the bridge!” Picard said.
Kirk nodded and followed Picard down the corridor.   “What’s the situation?” he asked.
“Whole dimensions are merging, the Perplexus is destroying everything in its path, the Enterprise‘s computer has developed a negative personality, as far as I can tell there’s a Romulan Warbird ready to destroy us once we leave the Perplexus and basically, the Universe is coming to an end!” The last came as they arrived on the Bridge.
“Jim!” McCoy shouted.
“Admiral,” Spock acknowledged his old friend.   “Has Captain Picard advised you of the situation?”
“Yes.” Kirk looked at Picard.   “Let’s try and cheat Paramount together!” he urged.
“Captain, we’ve solved the computer problem,” Riker said.
Picard was astonished.   “How, Number One?”
“While you were away, we surgically removed Spock’s brain and interfaced it with the computer.   It cleansed the offending personality complex.   We then took Spock’s brain and stuffed it back inside his head where Dr.    McCoy and Dr.    Crusher performed the necessary surgery to do whatever they did.”
“What an absolutely absurd solution,” Picard surmised.
“Are you all right, Spock?” Kirk asked.
“Fine, thank you, Admiral.”
“We also managed to repair the damage incurred to our shields and we’ve been able to determine that it was caused by a cloaked Romulan Warbird,” Riker went on.
“But a Warbird can’t fire while cloaked!”
“This one can.”
“You’ve achieved an enormous amount while I was away, Number One.   Well done.”
“It wasn’t all me, Captain.   The officer Commander Sisko assigned to us, Chief O’Neil, did most of the work.” Riker indicated the likeable O’Neil standing next to him.
“Well done, Lieutenant O’Neil,” Picard congratulated.
“He really is a wonder,” McCoy said.   “Best damned lieutenant I’ve seen in all my years of service.”
“It was nothing,” O’Neil said with no sense of false modesty.   “I’m only doing what I’m told.”
“If we get out of this,” Kirk said, “I’ll be sure to recommend you for several commendations.”
“Thank you, Admiral.” O’Neil glowed affably.    He really was such a likeable fellow.
“Positions,” Picard said.   “Shields.   We’re leaving the Perplexus.”
“But the Romulan Warbird-” Riker said.
“We have no time to waste,” Picard said.   “Mr. Spock, how much time before the Universe finally implodes?”
“One hour thirty minutes,” Spock answered.
Data swiveled in his chair.   “Captain,” he said in hurt tones, “you usually ask for my opinion of time estimates.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Data.   I have forgotten your new emotion chip.   I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“It’s okay,” Data said haughtily.   “I mean, why ask me, I’m just some simulated flesh over a exoskeleton and circuitry.”
“I’ll ask you next time, Data,” Picard vowed.
“Promise?”
“Yes, I promise.”
“Very well, then, Captain, I forgive you.”
Data turned back in his chair and engaged the Warp engines.

*

“Then there was Babylon 499,” Sinclair went on.   “That one imploded, jumped into hyperspace, exploded there, jumped back out of hyperspace, and showered the area with incredible debris.   Babylon 500, on the other hand, jumped into hyperspace and exploded, jumped back out of hyperspace and imploded just to prove it could, then exploded again in a fiery mass.”
“And finally we come to your station, Commander,” Kira said, “Babylon 501.”
“Yes.   Babylon 501 has stood firm for years.   It’s our last, best hope for peace.”
“But I can’t believe you continued to rebuild the same thing over and over, again and again.”
“Humans are stubborn,” Sinclair said.   “If something we build falls down, we build it up again.   It’s called the tall poppy syndrome.”
“Did you ever find out what caused what happened to all the other stations?”
“Oh,” Sinclair said mildly, “technical fault in the design.   Caused all sorts of implosions and explosions.   It didn’t occur to us until our fifth hundred and first attempt that might be the cause.” He flashed his grin.   “We humans are not only stubborn, but incredibly stupid also.”
“Incredible,” Kira said.

*

Sisko was in his ready-room, feeling slightly intoxicated.   O’Brien was looking at him.   “You don’t look bloody well, sir,” he noted.
“Thank you for noticing, Chief,” Sisko said.   “How are station-wide operations?”
“The station’s operating just fine.   But there are bloody riots, people popping in and out of other bloody dimensions.   We just got a new one recently.”
“Oh?”
“Her name’s Ripley.   Bloody tough sort of woman.   The virus is also spreading.   Doctor Bashir’s attempting to find a cure, but there’s little hope.”
“What about our pursuit of the murderer, Garibaldi?”
“Security’s still bloody looking for him.   Odo had to take a break, however.   He’s going through his cycle where he has to revert back to his liquid state.   However, I’m not sure it’s just bloody Garibaldi.”
“Oh?   And why not?”
“There are two sorts of mutilations bloody going on – the laser-cauterized mutilations, and the savage, animalistic-like mutilations.   And there have been bloody fleeting glimpses of some sort of reptilian alien.   Garibaldi may be responsible for one set of the bloody murders, but I think the repitle-alien is responsible for the others.”
“Fantastic,” Sisko said tiredly.   Then he turned to look out the window.   “Where the hell’s the Enterprise?” he asked nobody in particular.

*

Bashir was in Medical attempting to discover an antidote for the virus affecting just about the station.
That was when Dax came in, wearing a seductive dress.   “Hello, Julian,” she purred.
“Jadzia,” Bashir was taken aback.   “What-”
Dax enfolded Bashir in his arms and put a finger to his lips to silence him.   “Don’t say a word,” she told him.   “Just kiss me.”
She kissed him but he didn’t kiss her back.
“What’s wrong, Julian?” Dax asked.   “All this time you’ve been after me, and now you’re giving up?”
“Jadzia, don’t take this personally,” Bashir tried to be gentle, “but I’ve never really been attracted to you.”
“But all those times-”
“It’s not actually you I’m interested in, Jadzia,” Bashir said, “it’s that slug inside you.   I’ve always wanted to make it with a slug.”
“You’re not interested in me?” Dax was shocked.   “You’re interested in the Trill alone?”
“Yep.” Bashir shrugged, then grinned.   “Sorry.”
He got back to work.

*

Ripley was nervous, awed by the diversity of alien cultures.   After her experiences with her Aliens, she wasn’t sure how to take them.   The only thing that kept her anxiety in check was the fact that all these aliens looked human.   None of them looked at all like the hideous beasts which had terrorized her.
But if she so much as saw a hint of one, that was it.
She’d pilfered a phaser from a security officer.    If she saw one of those aliens, one of her aliens, that was it, she’d blast it into oblivion.
She patted her phaser reassuringly.

*

Garibaldi was on the run and he didn’t like it.   He’d been on the run before and didn’t like it then either.   He was trying to prove his innocence, but it was proving near impossible with all of Babylon 501‘s security assisting the DS9 security detail in trying to locate him.
Occasionally he’d caught fleeting glimpses of the real murderer – a sort of invisible and yet distorted silhouette.   On other occasions, he’d caught sight of a reptilian thingy – probably responsible for the other set of mutilations.   But each were proving near impossible to catch.
What he really needed was a drink.
And he really needed a place to hide.
But where?   Where?
Garibaldi was sure he was running out of time.

*

The Enterprise had exited the Perplexus only to be assaulted by the cloaked Romulan Warbird again.
“Captain, shields at forty per cent,” Worf said, as smoke and fire ravaged about him.
“I have an idea, Captain,” O’Neil said.
The Enterprise shook again from another attack and a whole array of consoles exploded systematically, one after the other.
“If we separated the Enterprise,” O’Neil said, “we’d stand a better chance.   Whichever section was attacked, the other could target the source of fire and retaliate immediately.”
“It might just work,” Riker said.
Picard nodded.   “Very good.   Number One, you assume command of the Battle-”
The Enterprise was hit again and conveniently, an explosion next to Riker threw him across the room and knocked him unconscious.   McCoy was immediately attending to him.
“He’ll be all right, but he’s in no condition to assume command.”
“Mr. Worf, it’s up to you then,” Picard said.   “Take-”
Another hit and an explosion ravaged the Enterprise, conveniently knocking Worf unconscious.   Crusher was immediately at his side.   “He’s concussed, Captain,” she reported.
“Mr. Data-” Picard started again.
The Enterprise was hit again and an explosion convulsed Data in sizzling blue energy.   Once it was done, the android slumped face first on his console.
“I’ll go,” O’Neil said.   “Let me do this, Captain.”
Picard looked at the raw but likeable recruit.   “Make it so,” he said.
O’Neil left the Bridge.
“Captain,” Spock spoke up, assuming Tactical, “the Romulans have agreed to a temporary cease-fire to discuss terms.   Our shields are currently at thirty per cent.”
“On screen,” Picard said.
The Romulan who appeared on screen looked very familiar.
“Sela!” Picard said.
“Captain, so we meet again.   How do you like our new toy?”
“What’s the meaning of this attack?” Picard demanded.
“That thing out there, that thing you call the Perplexus,” Sela said.   “I don’t want you destroying it.”
“But why?   It’s contributing to the demise of the Universe.”
“So you say!   I see it creating endless possibilities!”
“Such as?”
“The return of Tasha Yar!!!” Sela exclaimed triumphantly.   “Prepare to die, Captain Picard!”
The viewscreen flickered off.
Data suddenly came back to life and sat upright.   “Captain, do you still require me to assume command of the Battledrive?” he asked.
“No, Mr. O’Neil has taken charge of that duty.”
“Oh yes, separation occurring now,” Data realizing, looking at the console.   “So once again I am being overlooked.   Fortunately, Captain, if it were not for the fact that Mr. O’Neil is so likeable then I would be feeling serious aggravation toward you.”
“Not now, Mr. Data!”
“Spock!” Kirk realized.   “Can’t we destroy that Warbird the way we destroyed the cloaked Klingon Bird of Prey?”
“Of course,” Spock said.   “A wise suggestion.”
“What way?” Picard asked as the saucer-section was hit and the bridge shook terrifically.   On the viewer, they saw the Battledrive return fire and catch a glancing blow on the cloaked ship.
“Using equipment that charts gaseous anomalies we connected it to a photon,” Spock explained.   “Upon firing, the photon tracked the Bird of Prey’s exhaust.   Similarly, it would do the same with the Warbird.”
“Good idea.   Make it so!” Picard pointed out two speechless unknowns who quickly rushed from the bridge.
The Battledrive was the next avenue of the cloaked Warbird’s attack.   Prior, during the brunt of the battle, the Battledrive section had taken the majority of the attack and now, it was taking it’s toll.   The Battledrive section begun to list and flare with neutron flames as the Warbird struck it again and again.
“Mr. Spock, we may have to beam those people out of the Battledrive,” Picard said.   “Get a lock on them.”
“Of course, Captain.”
The cloaked Romulan Warbird fired on the saucer-section, sending it into a spin which Data deftly corrected.   Then it attacked the Battledrive section some more, thrashing it with plasma disruptor after plasma disruptor.
“Captain, time is of the essence,” Spock said.   “The next hit the Battledrive sustains will be critical.”
The Warbird attacked the saucer section once more.
“Captain!” a voice sounded over the bridge’s com-system, “torpedo ready!”
“Fire!” Kirk ordered, fist clenched.
The saucer-section fired a single photon.
It spiraled through the emptiness of space, apparently tracking a ship which was, to their eyes and sensors, completely invisible.   Whooping and spiraling the photon headed for an empty section of space.
Then suddenly darted off course and headed straight for the Battledrive.
“Oops,” Kirk said.
The photon was the last hit the Battledrive could take.   It exploded with a brilliant flare of incandescence.
“I have managed to beam our people out of the Battledrive,” Spock said.
“But the Warbird’s still out there!” Picard said.
“There!” Kirk pointed out.
The explosion of the Battledrive had managed to briefly highlight the silhouette of the Warbird.
“Fire all weapons!” Picard ordered.
The saucer-section released a fireworks display.   The Warbird was ravaged with photons and phasers.   Critical hits caused its cloaking system to fail and suddenly, right in front of them, it materialized.
“We have sustained critical hits to their shields, cloak and weapons’ array,” Spock reported.   “Our Impulse engines are also at critical.”
“Finish them!” Kirk urged.
“No-” Picard began, but then the Warbird shot off into space.
“Why?” Kirk asked.   “You could have finished them?”
“But that was Sela,” Picard pointed out.
“I know damn well who it was,” Kirk said.
“I think the Captain means to say that she’s our resident baddie,” Troi informed Kirk.   “We can’t kill her off.”
“Two minutes to Impulse engine detonation, Captain,” Spock said.   “The entire saucer-section will be obliterated.”
“Contact DS9, Mister Spock,” Picard ordered.   “Have them beam everybody off the saucer before it explodes.”
O’Neil arrived on the Bridge, thoroughly bedraggled.
“Well done, Mr. O’Neil,” Picard congratulated him.
“Thank you, Captain.”
“I have contacted DS9, Captain,” Spock said.   “They are preparing for beaming…now!”

*

Station Log, Supplemental:
It was the dawn of the third age of man, ten years since the Earth-Minbarri war.   The Babylon project was nothing really, just a bunch of us guys goofing off when someone suggested, hey, let’s put a space station in space where we can have lots of fistfights and shootouts and
“Commander Sinclair!” Sisko exclaimed, walking onto Ops.
Sinclair looked at him guiltily.
“I am the only one aboard DS9 permitted to make log entries!”
“Sorry.”
“Come along.   The Enterprise was destroyed, but they were successful in their mission.   We’ve beamed her crew and Kirk aboard.   We’ll meet up with them once we pick up Constable Odo.   Follow me.”
“What about my Chief of Security?”
Sisko was already on the lift.   “I’m sure things will work out,” he said.   He looked at Sinclair.
Wordlessly, Sinclair joined Sisko on the lift.

*

Garibaldi had a brainstorm.   When being pursued the best place to hide was where nobody would ever look.
That was the reasoning that led him into Odo’s office – after all, where better to hide than the station’s Chief of Security’s office?   Nobody would ever think to look for him in there.
And so here he was, hunted, tired, and dirty.
And he needed a drink.
Looking around, he found a pale with silvery fluid in it.
It looked good, so he picked it up and drank it.
That was how Sisko, Sinclair and a security team found him.   “Mr. Garibaldi!” Sisko exclaimed.   “Do you realize you just drank my Chief of Security?”
“What?”
“The Enterprise has been completely destroyed, but we managed to beam her entire crew to safety.   I was just arriving to pick up Odo and you’ve drank him!”
“I’m sorry.   I didn’t mean to!”
“Now I don’t know if these accusations of murder against you are justified or not but I want you immediately in sickbay.   You men, escort him there.”
The security team escorted Garibaldi out.
Disgusted, Sisko led Sinclair out.

*

They were all in sickbay where Bashir was using the transporter to dilute Odo from Garibaldi’s system and back into a pale.
“Well?” Sisko asked.
“I think we’re going to be successful,” Bashir reported as the pale filled.   Then Odo formulated up out of it.
Q appeared.   “Come on, fools, only thirty minutes to go!” he said.   “It’s time to save the Universe!”
“But the virus aboard the station,” Kira said dreamily.   “We can’t behave rationally the way the virus is affecting us.   If we can’t behave rationally, how do you expect us to save the Universe?”
“I believe I have the solution to the virus,” Bashir said, “but there is no antidote.”
“What?” Sisko asked.
“I believe the virus has been caused by the overlaying of each dimension, resulting in an intermix of emotions so potent that they’re influencing everybody, causing them to react diversely – one way or the other.   I believe if we can save the Universe then this virus will disappear spontaneously.”
“Well, Spock, what next?” McCoy asked.
“We need to be in Ops,” Spock said.   “And have Mr. O’Neil join us.   His intellect is quite profitable.”
Sisko tapped his combadge.   “Sisko to O’Neil,” he said.
“Yes, sir?”
“Will you meet us in Ops immediately?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Come along,” Sisko told the others.
No sooner had they stepped out of the door than they bumped into Ripley.   She regarded them for a moment, and then with a cry of, “Alien!” she drew her phaser and shot Worf directly in the head.
LaForge quickly disarmed her.   “What are you doing?”
“I saw an alien,” Ripley cried, “it was attached to the top of his head.”
“He’s just a Klingon.   He’s meant to be like that.”
Crusher kneeled by Worf.   “I think he’ll be all right,” she said.   “He seems to only have been stunned.”
“That’s happened to him enough times already,” Riker noted.
“Come on, come on!” Q roared.   “Time’s wasting.   We’re down to fifteen minutes!”
“Alien!” Ripley cried out again.   She pointed.
True enough, the reptilian Alien had leaped from the second-level and directly into the heart of the promenade where it proceeded to rip and tear people – (as long as they were wearing red shirts) – to shreds.
“My God!” Picard said.
Six teenagers bolted out of Quark’s and skidded to a halt in front of Picard.   “Zordon, it’s good to meet you in person at last,” said one, who wore red clothing.
“What?” Picard asked in complete bewilderment.
“Don’t worry, Zordon!” the red-dressed teenager said, “we’ll take care of it!” He turned to his friends.   “It’s Morphin time!”
“Morphin time?” Picard frowned.
Only an instant later, the six teenagers had transformed into the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.   With an accompaniment of grunts and shouts, they launched into an attack and proceeded to pound the alien into submission.
Kird, Picard and company watched in utter fascination.
“So that was responsible for one set of the murders,” Garibaldi realized.   “And now it’s doomed.”
“But what about the other murders?” Sinclair asked blandly, because he was a bland sort of guy.
“Forget it!” Q urged.   “Forget the fight!   Quickly!   We still have the Universe to save!”
“Quite right,” Picard nodded.   “Let’s go.”
They hurried to the lift without further incident only to be blocked from entering the lift by the Terminator.   He leveled a shotgun at Odo.
Everyone drew phasers.
“We have to get to Ops!” Q said.   “I can’t take you all!   I only have power enough left for myself.”
“Then if we have to get to Ops we have to get to Ops,” Kirk surmised.   “Kill it!”
“No!” Picard said.   “Haven’t you ever heard of diplomacy?”
“Yes.   And as a matter of fact I had a dubious flirtation with it in a couple of episodes.”
“Oh.   What happened?”
“It didn’t work out.   So we kill it!”
“No!” Picard objected again.   He looked at the Terminator.   “Stand aside.   We need to get to Ops and you’re blocking the lift.   If we don’t get to Ops the Universe will end.”
The Terminator pumped his shotgun.   “That is a Terminator T-1000 series,” he pointed at Odo.   “I shoot it but it resume its shape.   It can take any shape it wants.   It is dangerous.   I must kill it.”
“You want diplomacy?” Kirk asked Picard.   “Here’s diplomacy.” He looked at the Terminator.
“Careful, Jim,” Spock warned in a whisper.   “This thing is obviously mistaking a shapeshifter for some other form which can also shift shape.”
“And I might just be able to use that to my advantage, Spock,” Kirk whispered back.   “You,” he looked at the Terminator, “I’ve had experience dealing with these shapeshifting things.   This one here isn’t dangerous.   If it were, it would assume the most dangerous form possible, such as the one I fought.”
“When did you fight one?” Sisko asked.
Star Trek VI,” Kirk told him.
“And what form did it assume?” the Terminator asked.
“Me!” Kirk said.   “Obviously, I never lose fights so when these things shift shape they assume the identity of the most dangerous, unbeatable entity in all of Existence, which in this case is me.   As this one clearly looks nothing like me, it’s not dangerous.”
The Terminator looked startled.   Then smoke began to pour from it’s ears and its eyes rolled up into the back of its head.   Its head twitched and bucked spasmodically, and then its whole body was encompassed in slivers of blue energy.
With a bang, the Terminator completely short-circuited and fell back against the wall and lay there, lifelessly.
“Fascinating,” Spock said.   “Your logic killed it, Jim.”
“Well, one man’s logic is another man’s poison, Spock,” Kirk responded flippantly.
Picard shook his head in utter disbelief.   “Even when he tries to use diplomacy he still manages to kill something.”
“Fools!” Q roared for their attention.   “We’re running out of time.   There’s seven minutes left!”
With that said, they took the lift up to Ops.
Laying in the middle of Ops was just the torso of O’Neil.   One dismembered arm lay in a corner, a leg in another, and another, with the hands tying the shoelaces of the remaining foot, in the last corner.   The head – O’Neil’s head – stared at them lifelessly from where it sat on an Ops’ console.
McCoy rushed to the torso and put his fingers to what remained of the neck.   He looked plaintively up at the others.    “He’s dead, Jim!” he said.
“But what did it?” Sisko was asked.   “Garibaldi was with us when we spoke to O’Neil.”
LaForge was looking around.   Then he spotted something with the use of his VISOR.   “There!” he cried.
They all turned to the corner he pointed at.
“What is it, Geordi?” Riker asked.
“I can sense it also,” Troi said.   “I feel unremitting hostility.   Disdain.”
“See it?” LaForge persisted.
Indeed, they all could – almost.   It was a human-shaped blur that melded in with its surroundings.
It shot at them and they ducked for cover.
“Want to try using diplomacy now, Picard?” Kirk asked.
With a bellowing battle-cry Worf sprung from where he hid and charged the creature.   Leaping for his throat, his face contorted into an expression of undeniable rage, Worf intended to throttle the life from the thing.
It backhanded him away effortlessly.
Garibaldi rose and took a few shots at it, hitting it, but not fatally.   The thing uttered a defiant shout.
“We’re down to four minutes,” Q put in.
Suddenly, Wesley Crusher entered Ops.   “Hi, guys, miss me?” he asked with a goofy grin.
“Watch out!” Picard cried out his warning.
From their hiding spots they could see nothing of the atrocities which ensued, but they knew it was too late.   There was a repetitive thumping sound, accompanied by anguished cries – each one diminishing with each thump – as if a head was being pounded mercilessly into the wall.
When silence finally reigned everybody rose.
Wesley was standing over the now visible corpse of the Predator.   Blood and gore smeared the wall.
“Thanks for the warning, Captain,” Wesley said breathlessly.
“I wasn’t warning you about the creature, I was warning it about you,” Picard told him.
Riker looked sympathetically at the thing.   “It preferred to commit suicide rather than exchange a potential dialogue with Wesley,” he said.
“Fascinating,” Spock said.
“Three minutes!” Q told them.   “Look!”
He directed their attention to the viewer.   The Perplexus had neared.
“It’s gotten closer!” Kira said.
“No, the implosion is nearing, is bringing everything closer to us,” Q said.   “Now, stop it!”
Picard laughed heartily.   “How ironic,” he said.   “The almighty Q Continuum, you who have always considered us pitiful and demeaning, now pleading for our assistance.”
“Picard, this is no time for a sermon!” Q said.   “There’s only two and a half minutes to go!”
“Could it be that the Q Continuum have had matters their way for so long that they have forgotten about self-reliance,” Picard swept on nonetheless, “about the instinctive sense of self-preservation humans have for survival, that which compels us to face challenges, to confront them, to assault them, and in the end, to triumph.”
“Are you finished?” Q asked.
“Yes, I think so.”
“Well, Mr. Spock, what’s your plan?” Riker asked.
“To reverse the implosion of the Universe we require a force greater than the Universe, larger than it.”
“Goddamnit, Spock!” McCoy exclaimed.   “What’s larger than the Universe?”
Spock looked at Kirk.
“Jim?” McCoy asked.
“Not Admiral Kirk himself, but his ego.”
There was stunned silence.
“The one force greater and larger than anything in the entirety of existence.”
“This is impossible, Spock!” Q said.   “Kirk’s ego can’t be equated, it can’t be measured.   It can’t be encapsulated or broken down into mathematical formulas.   We tried!   It’s just too big!”
“Q’s right, I’m afraid, Spock!” Picard said.   “We’re talking about forces far greater and more powerful than we could possibly hope to comprehend;   no ship has ever dared Kirk’s ego, no probe has ever survived the journey.”
“But if we were to hook Admiral Kirk’s neural pathways to the Ops’ systems,” Lucas broke in, “and transmit them out at space-”
“Yes!” Wesley agreed.   “And if we used the sensory array for the transmission we could create a perfect envelope.   Once the imploding Universe met it, it would counter-react and begin to expand once more.”
“You don’t know what you’re saying,” Q said.   “We’re talking about the end of the Universe.   That’s it.   But if this plan goes wrong, Kirk’s ego could destroy everything – the Universe, Existence, space and time – everything single thing that exists.   That ego’s a dangerous thing.”
“I’ll say,” LaForge said.   “I’m getting readings from my VISOR on it the like I’ve never seen before.”
“Well you are blind, Geordi,” Data put in, “of course you have never seen them before.”
LaForge looked at him.
“I am sorry, Geordi – an emotional attempt at humor.”
“It’s our only choice,” Picard decided.   “Make it so.”
Quickly, a number of electrodes were attached to Kirk’s head and plugged into the sensory array.
“We are ready to broadcast Admiral Kirk’s neural pathways,” Wesley said.
“Jim,” Spock said, “try to think of your triumphs.”
“Which one?   There are so many,” Kirk said.
“I think he’ll do just fine,” McCoy grinned.
“Transmit!” Picard said.
The result was spectacular.
DS9 itself began to spin rapidly, engulfed in a fiery conflagration of colors so intense they pierced the eye and the mind.   Then there was a tremendous roar and everything contained in what was left of the Universe seemed to shake.
And with almost a sigh, the Universe began to expand again.
“I feel it!” Q roared with delight.   “Nothing beats that ego!   I feel it!   Dimensions unraveling!   Time stretching!”
And one by one, the non-Trek genres disappeared.

*

Station Log:
The Universe has resumed it’s natural course.   The dimensional anomalies which occurred on the station have all dispersed, no doubt returned to the dimensions and genres to which they belong.   With them, the virus is gone, too.
The Perplexus is also gone, disappeared, as if it never existed and none of our sensors can track it.   Perhaps it never existed at all, other than in our minds and the emotions humans express.
The crew of the
Enterprise 1701-D have taken passage aboard the U.S.S. Dallas and are on their way back to Spacedock.   Accompanying them were Mister Spock and Doctor Leonard McCoy.
The entity known as Q has also gone, without thanks or gratitude to humanity.
As for the man they call Max…I mean Admiral James Tiberius Kirk, he took a runabout and travelled through the wormhole.
Where he went, not one of us knows.

THE END!!!!!!!
?

March 3rd, 1995.
Silk.

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