"It will work?" she asked, her voice carrying through the chamber. "Have I your assurances on that?"
"It will work, Majesty," said Jedite, stepping forward and bowing. "I have made sure of it."
"Nevertheless, you will travel through the Dark Star Portal first, Jedite," the Queen said, smirking. "Once there, you will begin to ready the area for our troops. The Negaverse will be unstoppable!"
"As it always has been, Majesty," Jedite replied smoothly.
The blonde lieutenant bowed in apology, which Commander Riker thought was a little odd, but he didn't comment.
"I am sorry, Commander," the lieutenant said, making sure not to make eye-contact.
"It's all right," Riker told him. "Just keep an eye out, next time."
The lieutenant bowed again and started off down the hall. Riker shrugged to himself, and continued on his way.
The Ten-Forward doors whooshed open as normal, and Riker waved cheerfully to Deanna who was sitting by the window, already eating.
"Can't keep away from the chocolate for a second, can you?" the commander asked the counselor playfully.
"I can, any time I want to," Deanna replied, just as good-natured. "I just don't feel like it right now."
Riker sat down, and ordered a coffee from the passing waiter. "Deanna, can I ask you something?"
"Anything, Will," she replied, licking a smudge of chocolate from the side of her lips. "You know that."
"Yeah, I know. It's just that--did we get any crew transfers I wasn't aware of?" he asked, seriously. The counselor looked up at him from her sundae.
"Of course not," she exclaimed. "You know there can't be any transfers without the first officer's knowledge."
"Yeah, I know that too. Thanks," Riker said to the waiter, who placed the cup of steaming coffee in front of the commander. "I just bumped into a lieutenant on the way here. I don't remember seeing him before."
"Maybe you just forgot," Troi replied. She grinned. "It happens in old age, you know."
"Ha ha. I suppose it's nothing. I just think I'd remember someone who bowed like that. It's quite distinctive. Hey, they sugared my coffee!" he said, after taking a sip.
"What?" asked Troi, looking confused.
"No, about the bowing. Was the lieutenant human, caucasian, blond?" Troi inquired.
"Yeah--how did you know?" Riker asked, setting down the coffee cup.
"I tried to get him to have his first meeting with me. I've never seen him before either, but I checked the records and it says we picked him up at Starbase 134."
"Oh. I guess I must have just not remembered. Maybe I'll check over those records tonight, later on--" he yawned.
"You tired already?" Troi asked, bewildered.
"I guess so, I wasn't a few minutes ago," Riker said, trying to stifle another yawn.
"I didn't mean it that way, Deanna."
"I know." she said with a grin. "I've been having trouble staying awake for the last couple of days myself. You can just get something from Doctor Crusher." she suggested.
"Maybe I'll do that," Riker agreed.
"It's weird, Will." Doctor Beverly Crusher said, as she loaded the hypospray with a stimulant. "Cases of fatigue have gone up fifteen percent in the last few weeks."
Riker was surprised. "That's a lot."
"I know it is, but it's not dangerously so, I guess. I just can't figure out what the cause could be. Most of the patients have nothing in common, in fact, most of them just came back from shore leave, back when we stopped on New Tokyo to drop off the supplies." Crusher said, pressing the hypospray against Riker's neck. It hissed softly, and he felt his energy returning almost immediately.
"No problem. But if your tiredness becomes regular or recurring, tell me about it. These stimulants are good for a quick fix, but I want to know if something's wrong."
"Will do, Doc." Riker replied, stepping down off the bio-bed and heading out the door.
Commander Geordi La Forge was watching the diagnostics of the conduit they had installed, when he realised he had left his coffee on the opposite side of the room. Not wanting to tear himself away, but really wanting that coffee, he looked around him for some help.
"Hey--" he called to one of the engineering staff, when he paused, realising that he didn't know the ensign's name. "Uh--"
"Sir?" the ensign inquired. He was moderately tall, with long brown hair tied back in the standard Starfleet ponytail. He had a distinctive look about him, but La Forge couldn't remember his name.
"Stanton, sir. Ensign Max Stanton," the ensign supplied smoothly. He smiled. "I just transfered."
"Sorry about that, Ensign." La Forge apologised. He suddenly felt very silly about asking Ensign Stanton to bring him his coffee. "Never mind, ensign."
"Oh, sir," the ensign said, after La Forge had turned back to the console, "you left your coffee over on the plasma read-outs." He placed the cup beside La Forge, smiled, and wandered off. La Forge felt relieved, took a sip of the cup, and turned his attention back to the diagnostics.
Ensign Stanton, making sure that no one was watching him, wandered discreetly over to the warp core, which was pulsing slowly, only at impulse as the Enterprise manoevered through the system of Gallimus. He placed his hand on the warp core, almost feeling the energy surging through it. He smiled, and a symbol appeared on the metal. It glowed for a moment, then faded. He grinned malevolently, then walked away, carefree.
Lt. Commander Data walked on to the bridge just as the previous shift ended and his began. Commander Riker was already on the bridge, in the command seat. "Sir," Data said, as he approached the commander, "The shift has ended."
"Hmm? Oh, yes. Thank you, Mr. Data. You have the bridge." Riker got up, adjusted his shirt front, and stepped up the ramp to the doors. Data took the vacated seat, and settled himself in.
He reviewed the logs, and noticed a discrepancy. "Ensign--" he began, looking to face the ensign at Ops, who turned around, along with the female ensign at Helm. Data had a moment of panic (or what passed for panic in his positronic brain) when he realised he did not know the ensign's name.
"I am Ensign Kite," the officer at Ops said, realising what the commander's long pause must have meant.
Data nodded his thanks.
"I am Ensign Zo," the other officer supplied. She smiled. "I don't believe you have met me, either."
"No, I have not," Data acknowledged. "Thank you." He turned back to Kite, who had blonde, almost white hair tied back in a long pony-tail. "Ensign, have you noticed the warp-core discrepancy?"
"I have, sir." the ensign replied. "I checked with Engineering, and they told me it was to be expected while they performed some tests."
"Interesting," Data replied. "I had not heard of any tests scheduled." He turned back to his own armchair console, satisified with the answer, and trusting that La Forge had everything under control.
Kite smiled and exchanged a glance with Zo before they both turned back to their boards.
"It is going as planned," Lieutenant Jade said to the others grouped in his quarters, after their shifts had ended. "The Negaforce is growing faster than even I expected."
The others smiled. Ensign Stanton stepped forward. "I have completed my task in Engineering," he informed his Commanding Officer. "And secured a bonus."
"Good," Jade replied with a smirk. "And you?"
"The Bridge will be ours," said Kite and Zo, simultaneously.
"Perfect. I will inform the Queen, and we can begin Phase Two at the next shift. Dismissed."
"Yes, apparently we picked up quite a few transfers from Starbase 134," Captain Picard explained, taking a sip of his Earl Grey (hot) tea.
"And yet none of the senior officers can remember meeting them?" said Crusher, sitting on the small settee that Picard had in his ready-room. "Doesn't that seem a little odd to you?"
Picard shrugged. "I don't see why it's alarming."
"It's not alarming, Jean-Luc; the fatigue patient count is what's alarming. It's grown to twenty-six percent. That's over a quarter of the ship." Crusher explained.
"I know that, Doctor, I can count." Picard replied dryly. He set his coffee down on the desk top. "Is there anything that could be causing it?"
"Not that I've found. There are no symptoms other than general, uneasing tiredness. It's affected everyone from an Andorian to a Vulcan. I caught Selar taking one of the stimulants herself, today."
"A Vulcan? Tired?"
"That's exactly what I said. That's why I think this may all be something bigger than it seems." Crusher sighed. She shifted around, and ended up rubbing the bridge of her nose.
"Don't tell me you're tired, Doctor." Picard commented.
She smiled. "No, mine is plain old sleepiness. I've had a double shift, treating only fatigue patients. I almost wish I hadn't told them to report back if the symptoms didn't abate."
"What would you like me to do?" Picard asked. "We're en route to Starbase 136, perhaps their medical facilities--"
"That's a good idea, Jean-Luc," Crusher said with a yawn. She stood up, as did Picard. "I think I'll see you in the morning."
"Good night, Doctor," he said, as she left the ready-room. He sat back down at the desk. After a moment of thought, he tapped his commbadge.
"Commander Riker? Please send a message to Starbase 136 that we will be wishing to use their medical facilities."
"Understood sir," Riker replied, rather wearily, from the bridge. Picard leaned back, and enjoyed another sip of tea.
Ensigns Kite and Zo exchanged a look towards each other. Had Riker been in peak condition, he might have noticed. As it was, he was barely able to keep himself awake.
"Commander?" boomed Worf from behind the command chairs, at Tactical. "Sir!"
"Huh?" Riker mumbled, barely awake.
"Sir--you are falling asleep on duty--Commander!" Worf exclaimed as Riker passed out completely. Worf was down on the lower deck before anybody else reacted. The Klingon attempted to smack Riker awake without bruising him. Bruising your CO was not honourable.
It was just then that Crusher exited the ready-room. She saw Riker, and rushed over, her tiredness forgotten in the midst of a crisis. She whipped out her medical tricorder. "He's comatose!" she exclaimed. She tapped her commbadge. "Crusher to sickbay! I need a stretcher here immediately!"
Worf stood up, and surveyed the situation. Not that it needed surveying in that all the action was primarily on the floor and not anywhere else but to do anything besides stand up and size up the problem while looking dignified was plainly not honourable. He made a decision and tapped his commbadge. "Captain Picard to the bridge."
There were a few seconds of delay, and then Picard appeared at the door of his ready-room. "What is it, Mr. Worf?"
"Will's unconscious," Crusher said before Worf could speak. The stretcher arrived and the doctor and her aides set up Riker and began to wheel him out. Picard did as Worf had done, namely look around and size up the situation.
"Ensign," he said, addressing Zo, "What is our ETA at Starbase 136?"
"Five hours, Captain," she said quickly.
"Can we go to maximum warp?" Picard continued.
"I believe so, Captain, however, I believe that Engineering is doing testing on the warp core at the moment." she replied,. looking faintly concerned.
Picard nodded and tapped his commbadge. "Picard to Engineering."
"Uh...Lieutenant Barclay, here, sir." stuttered a voice in return.
"Where is Commander La Forge?" asked Picard.
"Uh...well...see, he's kinda..." Barclay trailed off and was replaced by a new voice.
"Captain, Ensign Stanton here." said the new person. Picard remembered the name from Crusher's previous conversation. "Captain, Commander La Forge has had a bit of a breakdown."
"What?!" demanded Picard, walking over to sit in his command chair, as it was more comfortable.
"Yes sir. He has just barricaded himself in the engine room, sir, and we can't get by the force-fields. We alerted Security, and they're on the way."
"That's true," interjected Worf from Tactical. "Two officers were just dispatched."
Picard did not like this turn of events.
"Engine power just cut out, sir." reported Zo.
"Put me through to Geordi," Picard said to Worf. There was a second of wait, then there was the small chime that announced an open comm-line. "Geordi?" Picard ventured.
"Captain!" La Forge cried. "I can't talk right now! The engines need a re-fit! I'm taking them off-line!"
"Mr. La Forge--" Picard began, half-rising out of his seat, but the line shut off, having been terminated at La Forge's end. "Dammit." Picard swore.
"Sir, if I may offer a suggestion: Commander Data may be able to talk to Geordi," Worf said. "Or Counselor Troi."
"Send them both to Main Engineering," Picard agreed.
"Did Geordi ever mention anything this morning?" Deanna Troi asked Data as they hurried through the halls. She was hard-pressed to keep up with the taller android, but he was keeping his pace steady and she just kept up.
"No, he seemed unduly worried about the warp core discrepancy that I noticed earlier, but nothing that would seem to suggest this turn of events," Data answered, just as perplexed.
The doors to Main Engineering were guarded by two extra security officers to keep out traffic, but they stepped aside for the Enterprise's second officer and the counselor.
Lt. Barclay met them, confused and bewildered.
"It's all right, Reg," Troi tried to calm him down, but as she turned the corner and saw, she stopped dead in her tracks. Data did as well.
"Geordi?" he asked, incredulous.
"Data?" La Forge said, from behind the force-field. He was shaking and the sweat was pouring off him, but still he kept slaving away at the consoles, his fingers flying over the controls.
"He's not even doing anything," Barclay whispered. "We disconnected most of the controls the minute he set up the force-field."
"Data!" La Forge yelled. "You have to help me, the engines are going to overload any second, we have to lock them down!"
"The engines are fine, Geordi," Data said calmly, but confusedly.
"No, they're not. We have to fix them. If you won't help me, then I'll do it myself! I'll do it all myself!" he cried, wheeling around the space on his roller-chair.
Data turned to Barclay. "Have you had any success lowering the force-field?"
"No, sir. Any attempts, and he, uh, by-passes them. He's too fast, sir." Barclay stuttered, obviously worried and a little frightened by the strange behaviour of the chief engineer and his friend. Troi laid a hand on Barclay's arm, and he jumped.
"I will attempt to lower the force-field manually," Data said, heading to the island in the center of Main Engineering. He started keying in controls, then frowned. He began typing faster, until his pale android hands were flying so fast that Troi couldn't make heads of tails of what he was doing. His face kept the same expression.
"This is not possible," he said, confused. "Geordi is keeping ahead of me."
"But you're faster than any human," Troi said, coming and standing beside him. He nodded.
"Much faster. But somehow, Geordi's manual dexterity has substantially increased. I cannot explain it."
Ensign Stanton walked up to the three of them. Almost at once, Troi caught a wave of negative emotions.
"Counselor," Data exclaimed, propping her up with one arm. "Are you all right?"
"Negative...feelings," Troi gasped. "Coming from...from Geordi--from the engine!"
"The engine cannot have negative emotions, Counselor," Data explained patiently.
"No, it does. I can't explain it--up it's building to a climax--a crescendo--" she breathed, trying to regain control over her empathic powers. Ensign Stanton smiled. He tapped his commbadge.
"Stanton to Jade. The power has built up sufficently." he said, smirking. Data, Barclay and Troi all exchanged looks with one and another.
"Agreed," came Lieutenant Jade's voice, as Deanna recognised it instantly and connected it with the stranger that she and Will had been discussing. "The power levels are now strong enough to release the Negaforce. Secure the engines."
"Done, Jedite," Stanton closed the line and turned to the trio. He began to glow, and his clothes shifted from the yellow of Engineering to the gray-blue of a military uniform. His long brown hair became loose and flowing. Before Data's and Troi's astonished eyes, he began to float over the deck of Engineering. "By the power of the stars, I release you! Sagittarius! Come forth!"
From their viewpoint, Data and Troi couldn't see La Forge, but they could hear a sudden scream coming from his room. Barclay, standing on the opposite side of the island, could see, and whatever he saw, it frightened him. A lot.
But "Ensign" Stanton wasn't done. He raised his arms again, and yelled: "By the power of the stars, I release you! Pegasus, come forth!"
The engine core began to glow, and it shimmer, changing its form and structure to seem as though it was made of jagged black crystal.
"This does not seem good," Data commented.
"Sir!" Worf suddenly cried. "We have lost all readouts from Main Engineering!"
"What?" exclaimed Picard, twisted around in his chair to look up at Tactical. "How is--"
He was interrupted by a sudden, ship-wide announcement.
"Loyal legions of the Negaverse! The engines have been secured! Take your positions!" cried an unknown voice. At once, the ensigns Kite and Zo leapt up. They began to change, their Starfleet uniforms being replaced by strange steel-gray costumes of a more militaristic cut.
Worf whipped out his phaser, but Zo was quicker. "Zoy!" she yelled, and a strange beam of energy, one that was pink and resembled flower petals, flew out, striking Worf in the chest. With a grunt, he was down and out for the count. Picard tried to stand, but Kite gestured and the command chair suddenly came to life, wrapping Picard tightly in its "arms". He could not escape.
"All of you!" Zo yelled to the crew manning the stations at the back of the bridge. "Come here! Hands up!"
Obediately the crew cautiously assembled at the foot of the bridge ramps, looking at Picard for help, and realising they were on their own. They looked at each other with fear written all over them. Kite smiled, and held out his hands. Two identical black domes of energy appeared, encasing the groups of the crew. They screamed, and all collapsed.
"More energy for the Negaverse," he crowed proudly.
Stanton gathered the engineering crew together, in the far end of the Engineering hallway. "You'll all give your energy to the Negaverse," he said, still smirking. "Be glad it's going to such a good cause. Sagittarius! Come forth!" he yelled. La Forge emerged from the room, having deactivated the force-fields. He was now far different from his old self, and hardly recognisable to the Engineering staff or Data and Troi. His visor was gone, and he was dressed in ancient Greek dress, including a quiver and a bow slung across his back. His white eyes remained, and yet somehow he could see, for he made his way across the room without incident.
"Geordi," said Data, as he approached. La Forge scowled at him.
"He is not the person you knew, any more." Stanton said slyly. "He has joined the Negaverse, and our cause."
"What is your cause?" asked Troi, unable to keep her eyes from the transformed commander.
"We will take over your universe, and add it to the Negaverse," Stanton proclaimed. "Our army will come through the Portal, and wipe out your universe."
"The Federation will stop you," Data said. "As will the Klingons, the Romulans, the Cardassians...I do not believe you truly understand the magnitude of the undertaking you are describing."
"I understand fully, android." Stanton sneered. "Much more than you think. I already helped destroy one universe, adding it to the glory of the Negaverse. And yours will be even easier. You have nothing that can withstand the true power of the Negaforce."
"He's telling the truth, Data," Troi whispered, horrified. "I sense no deception from him."
The doors to the bridge whooshed open, and Jedite stepped out. He was dressed in his full Negaverse uniform, and was obviously pleased with himself.
"Good work, Malachite, Zoisite," he said, as he stepped down the ramp to the lower deck. He surveyed the pile of crewpeople and scowled. He waved his hand, and they disappeared.
"What did you do with them!" demanded Picard.
"Only sent them to the cargo bay. We're loading all the..." he paused, his grin widening, "..empties there. If they cannot be converted to the Negaverse, we'll blast them out into space."
"Excellent plan, Jedite." Malachite said.
"Call me...`Captain' Jedite," the Negaverse General said with obvious delight. "I'm taking control of the Enterprise."
"Not without the computer, you aren't." Picard snapped, still struggling against his chair. "I locked out the controls."
"He did," sneered Zoisite. "We tried getting around them, but we couldn't."
"Ah," Jedite said, hands behind his back and looking infinitely smug, "but we have help that I don't think Picard could have forseen. Computer, identify yourself."
"I am the computer of the Negaverse Flagship Enterprise," the computer voice rang out, in a gravelly female tone.
Picard was stunned.
Doctor Crusher looked anxiously towards Doctor Selar and Nurse Ogawa. They were being held together by a band of energy tied like a rope around their middles. Their captor, a young woman with jet black hair, wearing a medical blue uniform, was checking out that all the patients were indeed unconscious. When she had done so, she waved her hand, and they disappeared. Ogawa gasped and Selar raised an eyebrow.
The woman tapped her commbadge. "Jedite," she said. "I have secured the sickbay. I'll transform the doctors, and make it ready for Negaverse causualities."
"Good work, Titus. Jedite out," called a voice in reply. The woman turned to Crusher, a rather nasty smile on her face.
"First, I think," Stanton said, floating sideways serenely, "I think I should take all your energy. Can't have you running around, causing damage, you know."
"What do you mean, take our energy?" asked Troi, slightly concerned.
"I mean use it to aid the Negaforce," Stanton replied, in the tone of voice that one used on a small child. "If you won't join willingly--"
"I join willingly," Data interrupted.
"What?!" exclaimed the Negaverse General. He turned himself upright, still floating. "Explain yourself."
"If you have, indeed conquered an entire universe already, I see that there is very little chance of fighting back. Therefore, as I do not wish my energy to be `stolen', I will willingly join you." Data said, very calmly.
"Sagittarius, is he telling the truth?" asked Stanton, turning to La Forge.
"Androids do not lie, Stanton," Data interrupted.
"My name is Nephlyte," the General snapped. "And I believe you. I will let you out, on condition you help me take the ship, starting with subduing these crewmembers."
"Agreed," Data said instantly. The field shimmered for a second, and faster than even Troi could see, Data whipped out his phaser and fired. The beam struck Nephlyte, and he fell to the ground with a thud. Data grabbed Troi's arm and ran.
La Forge roared in anger and began to fire fiery arrows from his quiver. They barely missed Data and Troi, and the Negaverse minion charged after them, firing as he ran. Nephlyte picked himself up off the floor, dispatching a few of the engineers who had tried to run for it. The others he gathered the energy from, and sent them to the cargo bay for disposal. Dusting off his jacket front, he scowled, but was still confident that everything was under control.
Troi was being pulled along by Data, almost unable to keep up, but she kept firing her own phaser (on stun, naturally) at the few glimpses of La Forge that she could see. The arrows were whizzing over her head with less frequency, now.
"I think we're losing him," she said to Data. Just then, an arrow embedded itself in the bulkhead and then blew up, nearly taking the two with it. "Then again, maybe not."
"This way, Counselor," Data said, coming to a skidding halt and nearly flung Troi through a doorway into a darkened room in his haste. She had never seen him so...ruffled before, and she realised it came from the fact that they were dealing with beings that androids could not begin to cope with: magical ones. Not to mention the enslavement of his best friend added to Data's stress.
"Where are we?" she whispered, but he clamped a hand over her mouth suddenly. A door opened and a figure stepped in. She could here the footsteps, but not see anything, as the room was pitch black.
Suddenly she could see two beams of glowing light, and she realised with horror that it was La Forge's eyes that were creating the light. They were shining right on her when Data suddenly yelled: "Holodeck! Run program Data alpha-lambda four-oh-three!".
The room lit up suddenly, and Troi found herself staring at her own reflection...or rather reflections, as the holodeck had suddenly become the inside of a kaleidoscope, hundreds of mirrors reflecting themselves endlessly. La Forge/Sagittarius roared, and started firing arrows randomly.
Data grabbed Troi's arm again, and yanked her back through the doors, sealing them after her. "I hope that will hold him for a while," she said as Data scrambled the password to get out.
"I do not believe Geordi's cognative abilities remained with him after the transformation. I only hope that my mirror program will confuse him for long enough."
"Long enough for what?" asked Troi, avoiding the question that sprang to mind first: why do you have a kaleidoscope program in the first place?
"Long enough for us to get to a shuttle, Counselor. We must warn the Federation." Data replied, setting off down the corridor.
Picard was still tied to the chair. He knew by now that it was extremely useless to struggle against it, but he felt he had to do something, so he tried to gather all the information that he could.
The Enterprise was changing, the furniture and consoles having been replaced by crystalline structures. The entire bridge now resembled the inside of a geode, in Picard's opinion. Jedite, the apparent leader, sat atop a chair made of dark crystal. Malachite sat at Ops. Zoisite still manned Helm, and a woman named Trinitite was at Tactical. A man named Nephlyte was in control of Engineering, along with an aide named "Sagittarius" who had apparently been taken from Picard's own crew. Titus was in control of Sickbay, and holding Crusher and the others hostage. All non-Negaverse personnel had been teleported to the cargo bays for "recruitment". No news of Data, Troi or La Forge. Picard hoped they had been able to get away.
"Should he be able to hear everything?" Malachite asked Jedite, with a jerk of his head indicating Picard.
Jedite, who was only of a slightly higher rank than Malachite as far as Picard could see, shrugged. "I want him to view our triumph. Helm, how far until we reach New Tokyo and the Portal?"
"Only a few more hours, Jedite," Zoisite reported.
Jedite smiled, and steepled his fingers, leaning back in the crystal command chair. "Good. Then we can begin bringing our soldiers from the Negaverse, and beaming them aboard. The Federation won't know what hit it."
Data poked his head around the corner, looking to and fro. He motioned to Counselor Troi, and together, phasers drawn made their way down the corridor. He stopped in front of one of the doors.
"Data, these are your quarters," Troi said, a bit confused. He looked back at her, also a litle confused.
"Yes, they are, Counselor," he said, before unlocking them and stepping in. The quarters were dark, and empty, as they should be. The only occupant was Spot, lazily reclining over the sofa. Data quickly made his way to his computer. "I am going to try and access the main computer, and give me control of the transporters." he said as he worked. "With `recruited' crewmen prowling the corridors it is unlikely that we will be able to make our way to the shuttlebay without inflicted damage to someone."
"Sensible," Troi murmured. Data didn't even look up but nodded.
Suddenly he frowned. "This cannot be right..." he trailed off. "It appears that the Enterprise is en route to New Tokyo."
"New Tokyo?" Troi asked, brows furrowed. "What could possibly be in...Data! That's where we picked up the transfers!"
"It appears that all of the transfers were indeed from the `Negaverse'," Data agreed. "They seem to have a portal installed on the planet, which they will use to bring their army through to our universe."
"We have to stop them!" Troi exclaimed, leaning over Data's shoulder, trying to see the information for herself but the feed was so fast it sped by her in the blink of an eye.
"Agreed, but even in a shuttle, we would not be able to exceed warp three, meaning the Enterprise would--"
"Run circles around us." Troi finished.
Troi thought for a moment. "What about sabotaging the engines? Stalling them somehow? We know Geordi's mind and skills didn't transfer, it's safe to say that the rest of the crew--what's left of them--are just as useless?"
Data pondered the suggestion. "I believe I could sabotage the engines--without causing irreparable damage--if the crew is unable to properly maintain them. That is just a working hypothesis, we have no way of determining their actual abilities in their transformed state. As well, it will be hard for me to get into Engineering without being detected--"
"I've got an idea about that, Data," Troi interrupted suddenly. "But first, I need control of the transporters..."
Nephlyte watched as his new servants, the new recuits of the Negaverse, toiled over the Engineering consoles, working feverishly to make sure the engines stayed at Jedite's expectations of efficency. For some reason, the skills of the personnel had not transfered as well as was normal. Jedite dismissed it as simply the fault of the inhabitants of this universe. Nephlyte didn't care, and wouldn't, except that it meant that the engines had to be watched all around the clock, in that they had to catch things before they happened. The new recruits would be able to stop a simple malfunction or a plasma imbalance, but if something worse happened they would all be, to use the engineering term, screwed.
"I hate humans," Nephlyte yawned, floating tiredly over the console in the main control room. He was very tired, he needed a break. Perhaps he would put one of the newer recruits, one now known as Arachnid, in charge for a while...he dismissed the notion. Arachnid, for all his former brilliance, was now as slow as the rest of them, and further more, prone to stuttering.
"Sir," squeaked Spannia, a former ensign, "sir! I think something is happening in the Jefferies tubes."
"The what?" asked Nephlyte, confused.
"The Jefferies tubes, General. There's sounds coming from them!" she quaked.
He sighed. "Then see what the noise is."
Nephlyte fixed her with a glare. "Do you want me to do it myself?" he snarled.
"No sir!" she shrieked, and bolted, her furry tail quickly disappearing around the corner.
Nephlyte sighed again, and resumed his bored floating.
"You do it," she said.
"No, you do it." Mechanis replied, folding his metal arms over his chest. "Nephlyte told you to."
"No, he said that, well, he didn't say that I had to do it, only that it had to be done. You're metal, anyway, Mechanis! You do it!" she cried, sniffling.
"No! And if you don't hurry up, I'll tell Arachnid!"
"What?!" she screamed, trembling. Spannia was very afraid of Arachnid, he was said to have eaten Bluebottle. Mechanis harumphed, and turned to walk out of the room. "Fine!" she yelled. "I'll do it! I will!"
Shivering with fright, Spannia very carefully opened the cover to the Jefferies tube. Mechanis leaned over to see down the shaft when there was a sudden burst of light and he reeled over, collapsing. Spannia screamed, and started to run, when a very pale hand reached out and grabbed her by the tail. Screaming more forcefully, she was pulled closer and closer to the tube until another pale hand was able to grab her and cover her mouth.
"Ensign Christie, please stop screaming," Data said, calmly. She tried to bite him, and her new incisor teeth nearly damaged the underlying curcuits of his hand. Letting go of her tail, he whipped out his phaser again and shot her at point blank range. With a final squeak, she dropped to the floor. Crawling out of the tube, and feeling very regretful at knocking Ensigns Christie and Lukas unconscious, Data began the second sequence for manually shutting down the warp core.
Data leaned around the corner of the hallway. Phase Two was down. Now all he needed to do was use the controls in Main Engineering, the section normally manned by his friend Geordi, and no doubt crawling with former crew. He didn't want to have to use violence against his former comrades, especially those who were too simple to know what they were doing. Counselor Troi had been correct: all the "recruits" he had encountered had had the intelligence of children. The Negaverse apparently put higher emphasis on ability to follow orders than to think clearly.
He tapped his commbadge. "Counselor, I am ready for Phase Three. Stand by."
"Standing by," she replied.
Data materialised in the room. The former ensign Calloway was unfortunately manning the station, and he regretted stunning her with the phaser, but nothing could be done, and it was for the greater good. He quickly set up a force-field around the center, keeping any one else out while he set about disconnecting the warp-core and shutting it down.
He heard a scream, and looked up to see that Ensign Christie, who had appearently recovered quickly from her ordeal, telling Nephlyte what was happening. The Negaverse General scowled, and motioned over someone. Data was horrified (in his uniquely android way) to find that Nephlyte had sent La Forge over to deal with the intruder. Working faster, Data tried to ignore the fact that his best friend was shooting fire arrows into a force-field at him.
"Warning," the computer chimed in its new gravelly tone. "Warp core shut down in thirty seconds."
"What?!" screamed Nephlyte, whipping around. He motioned more soldiers over. "Get that fixed! Now!"
"But--but--" they stammered, not knowing which of the flashing consoles to turn to first.
Nephlyte turned to face Data, his eyes narrowing. The android met his gaze and stared back unflinchingly.
"Data to Counselor Troi," he began, tapping his commbadge.
"Not so fast," Nephlyte snarled, and disappeared. Data was a bit taken aback by this. It appeared the Negaverse had personal transporting capabilities.
"Data?" asked Troi's voice from the commbadge. "Are you there?"
Nephlyte appeared in the walled-off space, and let loose a barrage of black energy. As the room was so small, Data had barely enough room to manoevre, let alone hide or deflect the energy. The blast hit him straight on, and he staggered under the assault. Firing his own phaser, he managed to clip the Negaverse General before Nephlyte disappeared and reappeared behind him. Another blast caused him to fall to his knees. He could feel circuits frantically trying to absorb and redirect the energy before they overloaded.
"Data!" yelled Troi's voice from the thin air. "I'm beaming you out now!"
Nephlyte roared, and prepared another blast, but thankfully Data had already begun to dematerialise.
The General faced the empty room. The consoles were all glowing red, flashing the words "core shut-down" at him, as if they were gloating. He scowled. "Jedite," he called, tapping the wall communicator.
"Nephlyte, you had better have a good excuse for this," Jedite snarled back, over the commsystem. "Zoisite informs me that the engines are only on impulse."
"That's true. The android shut them down, and the crew have no idea how to set them back up. It'll take hours, just to research the information we need."
"Where is the android now?" Jedite asked, after an angry pause.
"My guess is in the area of a transporter room," Nephlyte answered. "I'll send a few of my--"
"No, my security soldiers will do it," Jedite said. "You fix the engines. Jedite out."
"Data, are you all right?" Troi asked, helping him up.
"I believe I am now functioning within standard parameters," he answered, a little shakily. He paused, then looked at her briefly. "I was, I admit, a little....worried there for a moment."
Troi smiled. "I was a little worried about you too. Now, let's get out of here."
"Agreed," he replied, making his way to the cock-pit. He sat down in the pilot's chair, and Troi joined him in the co-pilot's. He began to set up the launch sequence.
"I told you we shouldn't have put that idiot Nephlyte in charge," Zoisite sneered. Jedite suddenly slapped her hard against the cheek. Shocked, she staggered backwards. Malachite stepped forward, but a glare from Jedite held back anything he would've said or done.
"Nephlyte isn't the problem, these humans are." Jedite said, scowling. He paced between one end of the bridge and the other. "Their skills don't transfer as well as normal."
"What do you expect, from an inferior universe?" asked Malachite. He now had one arm around Zoisite's shoulders. "They are useless. I do not know why the Queen wanted this universe at all."
"Because it is simple to take over," Jedite snapped. "This ship has been a breeze. And supposedly it contains the best of the best of Starfleet. Isn't that right, Picard?"
Picard glared from the confines of his chair. "You may have taken the Enterprise by surprise, but make no mistake, the rest of the Federation won't fall as easily."
"We'll see," Jedite said with a malicious smile. He turned to his head of Security. "Trinitite, I think Picard has had enough time on the bridge. Escort him to his quarters."
"Yes, General," she said, with a small bow.
She stood before Picard, and gestured with her hand. The chair suddenly realised him, and he toppled to the floor. Before he could get up, a rope of energy was tied around his middle, securing him like a tether. Trinitite tugged on it, and he got to his feet.
"Data will alert the Federation, I assure you," he said, as he passed Jedite. The Captain of the Negaverse ship Enterprise smiled, and turned away from Picard.
"I'm sure he will," he said, chuckling. "Not that it will do much good."
Data initiated the final sequence, and shuttle bay doors began to open, a siren blaring to alert anyone in the vicinity who wasn't aware the shuttle was trying to take off.
"Could they stop us from lifting off?" Troi asked, a little concerned. Data nodded.
"The computer is under their control. They had not yet placed a lock-out on it, which allowed me the access I needed for the transports and in Engineering. However, if they attempt to shut down the launch, they will be able to do so," he answered.
"So we just have to hope we can do it faster than they can?" Troi said, trying to add in a little forced humour which failed miserably in that Data took her completely literally.
"Yes, Counselor," he replied. "We will."
"Captain Jedite!" Malachite exclaimed from Ops. "A shuttle is trying to make an unauthorised launch!"
"Got them!" Jedite exclaimed, leaping up from his seat. "Stop the launch."
Malachite tried a few of the controls. "Sir, the launch cannot be aborted."
"Secure them with a tractor beam, then," Jedite said quickly. "We can't let them alert Starfleet."
"Got them, sir," Malachite reported after a few moments.
"Attempting evasive maneuvers," Data reported. There was a pause. "Still in the grip of the tractor beam."
"I'm going to set up a feed-back on the beam, try and knock it out," Troi said after a moment.
Data looked at her. "Counselor, they will be able to compensate for that, it is one of the "oldest tricks in the book" to use the colloquialism."
"They don't know the book, Data," Troi said with a smile.
"Sir!" Malachite exclaimed. "The tractor beam has lost its hold on them--"
"Try to re-establish it!"
"I can't...the beam has malfunctioned. I've lost it completely."
"Jedite," Zoisite interrupted, "The shuttle has gone to warp."
"Commencing evasive maneuvers," Data repeated.
"The Enterprise can't go to warp now, can it?" Troi asked.
"Not unless they have managed to restart the engines, which is impossible. It would take several hours of the crew working at peak efficiency to restore them." Data answered. "All we must do now is out-run them. This shuttle can do warp three, they can only do impulse."
"So let's get this show on the road," Troi muttered. The shuttle rocked as a phaser blast struck them. They obviously know how to use the phasers, the counselor thought.
"I am taking us to warp three...now," Data interrupted her train of thought, and the shuttle streaked away from the Enterprise, and towards the colony planet of New Tokyo.
"Starbase 134 is on the sensors," Data announced, as Troi shook herself awake. It had been a long trip, and an uneventful one, as the Enterprise could not follow them, and there were no other starships around for miles. "We must hail them, and tell them--"
"Wait, I'm picking something up," Troi interrupted. "but I'm not picking up any life-signs on the starbase, or the planet."
"How is that possible?" asked Data, brows furrowing.
Troi looked at her instruments in horror, then turned to the android. "I know what's happened."
"The station--it's been taken over by the Negaverse." she answered grimly. "They must have been sending additional troops through this "Star Portal"," she continued.
"I'm picking up a large disturbance of the Nega-Force on the sensors. It's on the middle continent, eastern hemisphere." Data said, checking his own sensors.
"Nega-force?" inquired Troi.
"That is what the Enterprise termed the strange energy we've been picking up." Data finished, tapping more controls as he narrowed down the site of the disturbance.
"That explains the lack of life-signs," Troi realised. "They've all been converted into Negaverse soldiers."
"I am going to land near to the disturbance," Data told her. "We must shut down the supply of troops."
"I'll send out a long distance buoy to Starfleet Headquarters informing them of what's happening." Troi added, turning to her own controls.
"That is a good idea, Counselor," Data remarked, as they began their descent.
"It's a Federation shuttle, Alan," Ann said, with distaste. "Shall we blow it out of the sky?"
"It may be Jedite, or one of the other Generals," Alan replied, sitting in the command chair on the Starbase bridge. "Hail them."
"We're not receiving a response," Ann reported after a few moments. "Now can we blow it out of the sky?"
"No--the cardians will deal with them, when they land." Alan said, firmly. "Tell Vampiel to expect guests."
Vampiel approached the shuttle with caution. The back hatch seemed to be open, and the occupants gone. She tried to detect their scent on the breeze, but could not. There seemed to be no trace of them. But then, these Starfleet humans were wily. She gestured to several other of the cardians for them to spread out, to try and hunt down the intruders. She knew that they must be trying to make their way to the Star Portal, so she would head that way herself.
Troi crept behind the abandoned buildings of the former New Tokyo. The colonists were gone, no doubt to the starbase, to make room for the new recuits. Either that, or they had all been "drained" by the Negaverse, their energy stolen. Either way, the counselor felt sorry for them, and hoped that this would all be over soon.
"Data? Any readings yet?" she asked. The android shook his head, still reading the tricorder.
"Only the faint signals we picked up earlier. They're still in this direction, Counselor--we should be there in about fifteen minutes."
They continued their creeeping, making use of the buildings and structures wherever they could to avoid being seen by anyone. The Star Portal was in a clearing just outside the city. Apparently, a park had once stood there, but from the sensor scan from the shuttle right before they beamed out to the deserted city showed that the once beautiful centre had been transformed into a military base.
"I am picking up a stronger signal." Data said suddenly, in a whisper. "They should be right around this corner."
They peeked around the stone of the building, formerly a jewelry store. Sure enough, off in the distance, they could see the Negaverse monsters milling around, and in the center of the activity, the massive Star Portal.
Troi had been expecting something secretive, something well-hidden and easily disguised. This...thing was at least two stories tall, a round ring of dark crystal, glittering in the sunlight, showing off its own ominous glow. The center of the circle was a dark swirl, a mass of colours, predominately black, purple and blue.
"It looks like a bruise," Troi blurted. Data looked confused, and was obviously trying to correlate a massive pan-dimensional transporter with a small breakage of capillaries. "Never mind, Data."
They continued to watch for another moment, taking in as much information as they could. Data's tricorder recorded everything to take back to the Federation, but the two needed to know as much as possible before they tried to sabotage anything.
"Something's coming through," Troi said, with a gasp. Indeed, the Portal was glowing much stronger, now, and something did seem to be emerging. It was a set of warriors, three, who seemed to be wearing jungle vines. One seemed to be made of jungle vines. Data concluded that they were probably symbiotes.
"I believe that the Portal is operated by use of the Nega-Force on a specific frequency," the android reported, reading the tricorder.
"Good, then maybe we can figure out a way to disable it." Troi replied. "Should we wait until nightfall?"
"Even the Moon cannot help you!" screamed a voice from behind them. Before the two Starfleet officers could turn, something had latched onto their backs.
Troi screamed, and toppled forward, allowing Data to see that a large flower had somehow been thrown at her. She began to glow, and cried out weakly, struggling to get up. The flower which Data surmised had also been thrown on him had no effect on his android systems, so he turned his attention to the Counselor, ripping the flower off, and then his own. He suddenly found it was actually attached to a long stalk, and the stalk...the stalk was actually the arms of a creature, at least seven feet tall, that stood not too far from them.
"Thanks, Data," Troi said weakly as she got to her feet. She seemed inordinately tired, but able to go on. Data nodded, and drew his phaser.
"You are surrounded!" the creature screamed, retracting the blooms, reforming them into hands. "We have your shuttle! You will never escape!"
"That may not necessarily be true." Data countered, firing his phaser, but the creature ducked it and charged at them.
"Vampiel!" it screamed, throwing another one of its flower/hands at Troi, whom it realised was more vulnerable. Data intercepted the bloom, holding it back.
"Counselor," he said, "It is imperative that you reach the Portal--and attempt to go through. Here is the tricorder," he tossed it to her with his free hand, "it can be configured to allow you access."
"Go through?" she asked incredulously. She had caught the tricorder with one hand, firing her phaser with the other. The shots hit the creature. It roared, and struggled even harder to get Data.
"Yes, Counselor--I believe you may be able to transport directly to a starbase--if it configured properly for within the universe. It's in the tricorder. Go!"
She nodded, and firing a parting shot, ran for the Portal, trying to read the tricorder as she did.
"Vampiel! Vampiel!' shrieked the monster.
"Is that a expletive of some sort?" asked Data curiously, now holding both blooms in his strong grip and obviously causing pain to the creature. "Or a form of challenge? I wish to know the definition, and perhaps even the history of the word."
"Vampiel!" it roared, still trying to break Data's grip.
Troi fired, hitting on of the monsters. It dropped to the ground, but another took its place. She was still a good twenty-five meters from the portal itself, and Data was still grappling with the creature, as far as she knew. The Negaverse soldiers were quickly forming a ring around her, and she was beginning to panic. Suddenly, like a bolt from above, an idea hit her.
"Shuttle!" she said, tapping her commbadge. "Emergency transport!"
She rematerialized inside the shuttle, heaving a sigh of relief. The shuttle was empty, but even if it hadn't been, Troi would have had the advantage--for all their mystical powers, these Negaverse goons didn't seem open to the concept of a mere human having transporting capabilites. Maybe it was the technological nature of the transporters--Troi shook her head. Enough analysing. She could think about it after. She went to the control panel, and keyed in a set of co-ordinates. There was a shimmer, and Data appeared, looking a bit surprised.
"Counselor!" he exclaimed pleasantly, making note of the surroundings. "It seems you went in the opposite direction."
"I just decided to take a different route, that's all," she corrected, keying in another set of co-ordinates. She lifted her phaser up, to be ready. Data did the same. She tapped a button. "Energizing."
They landed on the central platform, only steps away from the Portal itself. Data immediately began firing into the crowd gathered, holding them at bay. Troi, meanwhile, began to reconfigure the tricorder to emit the right frequency at the right time and for the right length--
"Got it," she said, activating the program. The gateway began to swirl, and taking a deep breath, Troi leapt in, followed by Data a few moments later.
"Opening hailing frequencies," Trinitite reported. The green face of the alien Alan appeared on screen.
Jedite smiled slightly. "Alan. Any news from Negabase 134?"
"Actually--yes. And not good news, either." Alan replied, shifting his gaze for a moment off screen before returning. "Two Starfleet officers went through the Portal."
"Dammit," Jedite snapped. "It must have been the android and...what's her face."
"Counselor Troi, sir." stage-whispered Trinitite.
"Troi...whatever. It must have been them." Jedite continued, as if no faux pas had been made. "Do you know where they went, Alan?"
"Ann has been checking the Portal out. Appearently, from her last report, they recalibrated it to go to another dimension from the Negaverse." Alan answered. "We're not sure where."
"Where would they want to go?" Jedite murmured. "Hmm. Perhaps Picard will be useful for this. I'll pay him a short visit."
"I'll tell you if Ann finds anything," Alan said, ending the transmission. Jedite leaned back, smiling to himself maliciously. Then he got up, tugging down the front of his Negaverse jacket.
"Malachite, you have the bridge," he said, leaving for the turbolift.
Troi coughed, and picked herself up from the dusty street that they had landed on. She stood, looking around, shading her eyes from the bright noon-day sun. "Data," she said worriedly, "I don't think this is Starfleet Headquarters."
"Indeed, Counselor," the android replied, extremely curious about his surroundings. "Judging from the architecture, I would say that we are in a city on Earth, mid to late twentieth century."
"We've gone back in time?" Troi exclaimed. She shivered, but not from the temperature, as it was quite balmy. What disturbed her were the empty streets, the lack of people, even though it was the middle of the day, on Earth. She took out her tricorder, checking the readings. "I must have really badly reprogrammed this thing."
"I do not believe we are in our Earth's twentieth century," Data stated. "I believe that we may have been taken to another dimension, one with a different time-flow than our own."
"It's definitely not the Negaverse," Troi added, using the tricorder. "I'm reading very low levels of Nega-Force--except from over there," she said, a little confused, aiming the tricorder behind them. She walked a few steps to find a small crystal lying on the ground. It was made of the same dark crystal that the portal was made of.
"Interesting," Data said, picking the crystal up and storing it in his pocket.
"One mystery at a time, Negatrash!" screamed a voice from behind them. They whirled to see a small black cat crouched in the middle of the road.
"Did that cat just talk?" asked Troi.
"Scouts--get them!" the cat yelled, confirming Troi's question.
Two young girls leapt out from behind telephone poles. One was Asian, with long dark hair, wearing a red skirt ensemble with a sailor motif. The other young girl was Caucasian...but with blue hair, and a blue sailor motif. Data was puzzled by the incongruities.
"Wait," Troi said suddenly, holding her arms out in surrender. "We're not from the Negaverse. We're fleeing the Negaverse."
"You're running from the Negaverse?" the cat asked, confused. Data also noted the British accent that the cat seemed to have.
"Yes--they've taken over our universe, can you help us?" Troi continued, taking a step towards them. The cat arched its back at her approach.
"Sailor Mercury--use your computer--see if they're really not from the Negaverse," the cat ordered. The blue-haired girl--Sailor Mercury--nodded, and pressed a small button located on her ear, disguised as an earring. A blue-tinted visor appeared, giving her a computer read-out, and she took a small tricorder-like device from somewhere--Data didn't notice where she had kept the computer stored, and it seemed to appear in her hand--and tapped a few keys.
"They're not from the Negaverse, Luna," she said, sounding relieved. "They're telling the truth. The Negaforce we sensed must have come from somewhere else."
"But look at their clothes!" the red girl protested. "They must be from the Negaverse!"
"We're from a different universe, that's true," Troi piped up, using her best Diplomatic Tones. "But we're not from the Negaverse. The Negaverse has, in fact, taken over our ship. We need help to defeat them."
"Then you've come to the right place," the cat answered, sitting up, and looking more relaxed. She looked behind her, and that's when Data and Troi noticed someone else was approaching. Like Sailor Mercury and the other girl, this one was dressed in a costume which borrowed from nautical influences, however, hers was a combination of red and blue. She had long blonde hair and seemed to be trying to catch up, while wheezng heavily.
"Sorry, Luna," she said, moaning and clutching her heart. "It took....too...long..."
"That's 'cause you're just a lazy meat-ball head!" yelled the red girl. The blonde looked about to cry and Data did notice a superficial resemblence of the girl's two small buns on the top of her head to the human European delicacy.
"Shut up, Mars!!" screamed the "meat-ball head", finally giving the asian girl a name.
"Sailor Moon, now is not the time," Luna, the cat, interrupted. "We must find somewhere to put our guests, before the Negaverse comes looking for them."
"What? What guests?" Serena exclaimed.
Luna, Sailor Mars and Sailor Mercury all sighed, and held their heads.
Troi smiled and accepted another cup of tea. "Thank you," she said graciously.
"It's the least we could do to help fighters of the Negaverse," Luna replied.
"Speaking about that," Troi began, trying to steer the conversation into something meaningful and away from muffins, and the petty fighting that carried on between Sailor Moon--who was named Serena--and Sailor Mars, who was named Raye.
"Serena, would your new friends like some coffee?" Mrs. Tsukino, Serena's mother, asked, poking her head around the corner from the kitchen. Like Sailor Mercury--Amy--Serena's mother had blue hair.
"No thank you," Troi and Data both chimed. Mrs. Tsukino paused for a moment to stare at Data, before ducking back around the corner into the kitchen. The two Starfleet officers exchanged a look, and Troi sighed.
"I'm sorry to be so abrupt," she began, setting down her cup. "and while this has been a lovely break for us, we must get down to business. The Negaverse is busy taking over our universe ." The endless chattering stopped, silencing abruptly as the three girls and the one cat glanced at each other, the bowed their heads in shame.
"We're very sorry," Luna began, "but we can't help you. These girls are not powerful enough. They cannot even defeat the soldiers of our Negaverse without help. And to take on Queen Beryl--they will need far more training. Far more time. Perhaps, you could stay and help us look for the other Scouts...."
Troi shook her head. "I'm sorry, as well. We really have no time to spare. Perhaps we should just return to our own dimension, Data--"
"Counselor," the android said slowly, deep in thought, "perhaps they may still be useful, after all."
"How?" blurted Serena, shocked.
"You said `defeat our Negaverse'," Data began, speaking to Luna. "That means, in view of the cross-dimensionalities, that there is a group of Scouts capable of defeating our Negaverse."
"Perhaps," Amy began, slowly, unsure, "perhaps, if the time-lines aren't always synchronous, then you could find a group of Scouts from our future--a group more powerful, better trained."
"That is an intriguing idea," Data admitted. "However, we would need to find a way of locating a dimension that has these 'future Scouts' from the infinite possibilities."
"We need to find a way to target our own dimension," Troi reminded him. He shook his head.
"The tricorder recorded the unique quantum signature of our dimension. All we would need to do is feed that signature into the Star Portal, much the same way that the Negaverse targeted their own dimension." he replied.
"Wait a second--Data, the dark crystal!" Troi exclaimed. "Perhaps that has something to do with it." Data fished the dark crystal out. Luna gasped, then jumped up on the table, staring at it.
"It's from the Negaverse!" she exclaimed.
"It followed us through the Portal somehow," Troi explained. Her eyes widened. "Perhaps a tracking device?"
"I do not believe so," Data answered. He took out his tricorder and examined the crystal. "This has the exact structure and chemical make-up of the Portal," he said. "It could be, in fact, a piece of the Portal itself that somehow was drawn in as well."
Amy, meanwhile, had taken out her own computer, one that was far more able to make sense of the strange readings. "According to my computer, this crystal is for teleporting."
"Teleporting?" Troi asked, incredulous. "So, this crystal is to help us get back?"
"Essentially," Data and Amy answered at the same time."
"Then all you would have to do is activate this crystal with your tricorder, and you'd be in business!" Raye exclaimed, glad to be contributing to the conversation that had been, until now, way over her head.
"I believe I can do that," Data added, "if I could borrow your computer, Ms. Anderson, and use a few spare parts of technology--"
"Of course," Amy replied qucikly.
"--then we would be, as Ms. Hino put it, `in business'," Data finished.
Data and Troi stood in the center of the street, ready to begin their experiment. Using information from Amy's computer, and some spare parts from Serena's radio, Data had managed to form a link-up from the crystal to the tricorder. It now fed the crystal's telemetry directly into the tricorder, which was then able to correctly decipher the readings.
"I guess I didn't program it wrong at all," Troi said, with relief, looking over Data's shoulder.
"No, counselor. The tricorder was not correctly interpreting the Portal, and that's what caused the faulty jump."
"I thought you said that the Portal was two stories high?" Serena asked, yawning. They had chosen the evening to do their teleporting, to cut down on the chances of anybody walking by accidently.
"It is. I wonder why this crystal is so small." Troi answered.
"It's the Negaverse!" exclaimed Luna.
"It's always the Negaverse, Luna," Raye snapped.
"No, I mean, it's the Negaforce--here it doesn't have as much, so it can't grow." Luna explained.
"That makes sense," Data replied. "There. The calculations are complete."
He tapped a few keys on the tricorder, and the crystal began to glow, sending out a beam of energy that opened a small round portal that hovered above the street. Troi began to step forward, ready to go through.
"Wait!" said Luna suddenly. She did a small loop-the-loop in the air. A small pink piece of plastic materialised, dropping to the asphalt with a clatter. She picked it up in her mouth and dropped it at Troi's feet. The counselor picked it up. It was a small computer PADD, similar to the ones used on the Enterprise, with a small window in the top right corner.
"It's a communicator," the cat explained. "You can use it to keep in touch with us."
"Thank you," Troi said graciously. She unhooked the communicator from her uniform and gave it to Luna, who took it delicately in her mouth and ran off to join the three girls. Data similarly gave his commbadge to Raye.
"Thank you," she said, letting Amy take the commbadge from her. "And good luck."
They all waved, and Troi and Data waved back before stepping through the vortex.
Picard grimaced as Jedite scowled. "I don't think you quite realise what's at stake here, Picard. I will kill you if you don't tell me what you know!"
"Dead, I can't tell you anything," the former captain of the Enterprise retorted.
"True. But I can at least have the satisfaction of strangling you," Jedite answered, grinning. "And I get to put `resisted interrogation' on my report to Queen Beryl. It's too perfect! Either way I win, Picard. So tell me what you know, and you can win, as well."
"I don't think you understand this, Jedite. I will not tell you. I will not betray my comrades." Picard snapped. He had long since struggling against the magical bonds that Jedite had confined him with.
Jedite paused, considering this. He strolled around Picard's quarters, picking up mementos, looking at the few knick-knacks that the captain had accumulated over the years. "You know," he said, in a light-hearted conversational tone, "from what the Enterprise herself has told me, you've already done that."
"Done...what?" Picard asked, going ashen, his heart stopping for a moment.
"Already betrayed your comrades." Jedite continued, flipping through an old book. He looked up, making eye contact with the captain, the hint of a smirk on his face. "Did so on a rather large scale, I believe. I didn't get all the details, though, Picard. Tell me...what is a `Borg'?"
Picard's mouth went dry as he tried to think of something to snap in reply.
"Hmm, I thought so," Jedite murmured. He strolled back over to the captain, who was sitting on the couch, a horrified expression on his face. "Now, Picard. I was thinking, and I'd like to run my idea by you. Don't you think that `Locutus' is a good name for a Negaverse General?"
"It doesn't look like much has changed," Deanna Troi picked herself up off the asphault. "And I have the strangest feeling of deja vu."
"From what Amy told me while we were working on the converter," Data began, using the tricorder to scan the area, "it seems that our teleport generates a lot of negative energy. That was sensed by Luna, who homed in on us."
"So if there are any Scouts in the area, they'll find us?" Troi finished.
The area seemed deserted. There was no one around, and the buildings were unnaturally dark. There were also no streetlights, and yet it was nearly as light as day thanks to a far-larger-than-normal moon which shone overhead. Troi began to walk down the block, searching for someone.
"Tomare!" screamed a voice from somewhere overhead. She looked up. Someone was perched up on the non-working streetlamp. It looked like...
"Sailor Moon!" Troi called up. This Sailor Moon seemed a lot older than the previous girl, and had a different outfit, with stripes of yellow and blue on a white skirt, instead of the solid blue, and she had long ribbons attached to the back of her costume. The stranger's familiarity with her stopped her for a moment.
"Nani?" she called, a bit stunned.
"Why isn't she speaking english?" Troi called to Data.
"I do not know, Counselor," he replied. "The ones we already encountered spoke perfect english. However...we did have our commbadges."
"The universal translator!" Troi smacked her forehead. "Of course!"
"Anata-tachi no namae wa nan desu ka?" Sailor Moon jumped down off the streetlamp. She seemed hesitent, yet curious.
"If you'll permit me to translate, Counselor," Data said with a nod. "I have a perfect understanding of Middle Japanese."
"Of course, Data." Troi replied.
Data stepped forward, and bowed deeply. "Hajimemashite! Data desu."
"Hajimemashite," Sailor Moon replied, also bowing.
"Kanojo wa Troi desu." Data continued, gesturing at Troi.
Sailor Moon nodded in Troi's direction. "Doko kara desu ka?"
"Federation kara. Sore wa chigau uchuu desu. Anata no enjo o irimasu." Data finished.
"What are you saying?" Troi stage whispered.
"I am telling her that we are from the Federation, a far away universe. And that we need her help." Data answered.
"Mondai wa nan desu ka?" asked Sailor Moon, looking a little less distrustful and a little more cautious.
Data started to say something, but stopped and turned to Troi. 'How do you say `Negaverse'?" he asked.
"You're asking me?"
"Negaburusu?" Sailor Moon asked. She looked thoughful. "Daku kingudamu?"
"Dark Kingdom?" Data translated. "That could be it."
"Beryl?" Troi tried, ready to try the names of the Generals, if need be, until she understood.
"Beriru?" Sailor Moon repeated. "Kuinu Beriru! Daku Kingudamu!" She seemed pleased, then frowned and stared at them suspiciously. "Anata-tachi wa youma desu ka?"
"Iie," Data said emphatically, waving his hands as extra emphasis. "Hitobito desu yo!"
"What's going on?" demanded Troi.
"She wants to know if we are demons," Data explained. "I assure her that we are not."
"That's good." Troi looked at Sailor Moon, considering. "Will she help us?"
Data turned to the strange woman. "Watashi-tachi o irimasu ka?"
"Hai." Sailor Moon replied. Troi managed to translate that okay without Data's help. "Kitte kudasai." She turned, and started running down the street.
"She wishes us to follow her," Data said.
"I gathered." Troi replied dryly.
"Hino Rei to Kino Makato to Aino Minako to Mizuno Ami desu." Sailor Moon said to Data and Troi, introducing the four, plain-clothes friends.
"Hajimemashite," Data replied, bowing. Troi tried to copy, but instead elicited giggles. The android turned to her, their own introductions having been done earlier by Sailor Moon. "These are: Spirit of Fire, Friend of Tree, Child of Love, and Power of Water," Data said.
"I think you're translating a little too literally." Troi remarked.
"What is your difficulty?" asked Mizuno Ami, formerly Amy Anderson, stepping foward shyly after Kino Makoto poked her in the side. "I speak english very nicely."
"We need help to defeat the Negaverse," Troi started to explain, being careful not to talk too fast so that Ami could keep up.
"Negaburusu?" the girl asked, brows furrowing.
"Dark Kingdom," Troi corrected herself.
"Ah! Daku Kingudamu!" Ami nodded. "We are doing that."
"You can help us...?"
"Most helpful we can being." the girl replied, beaming.
"Maybe you should take over, Data," Troi whispered.
Suddenly a pink-haired girl burst into the room. "Usagi!" she yelled. "Mamo-chan wa denwa o kakeru yo!"
She stopped when she saw Data and Troi. "Dare ga?" she asked.
"Chibiusa!" Sailor Moon screamed. "Reigi tadashii datte!" Chibiusa, the small girl, cried and ran from the room, Sailor Moon chasing her.
"Chibiusa is...most running girl," Ami said politely.
"So I can see," Troi replied with a grin. Sailor Moon returned a few minutes later, in her civilian clothing. She appeared much younger when not in her costume.
"Gomen nasai," she said. "Chibiusa wa yakkai desu."
"Dwarf Rabbit is annoying," Data translated.
"Dwarf Rabbit?" Troi exclaimed.
"`Chibiusa' is a diminitive form of Chibiusagi. Tsukino Usagi is Rabbit of the Moon..."
"I thought Tsukino Usagi..."
"Hai?" asked Usagi.
Troi did a double take and held her head.
"Perhaps we should just get the plans under way," Data said patiently.
"Maybe so." Troi agreed.
They stood, completely assembled, in the side road where Data and Troi had first entered this universe. There were more of the Scouts than there had been in the previous universe. There were Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, and Sailor Mars, however, there were also: Sailor Venus, Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Neptune, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Pluto. Even the "diminutive" Chibiusa was there, as Sailor Chibimoon. It was quite a gathering. (Quite "Sol-centric" as Data had put it, in some sort of android joke.)
"Turoi-san?" Sailor Moon asked her, tentatively. "Watashi-tachi wa dekiteiru desu."
"They're ready," Data translated. She nodded. Data took out the tricorder, and fired up the crystal. It created the vortex again, and Troi stepped through.
"We're in orbit around the planet, Captain," Zoisite reported. "Negabase 134 reports no unusual activity. In fact," she paused, then grinned, "in fact, the Queen herself is waiting at the Station to teleport aboard."
"Good," answered Jedite, smiling to himself. "Prepare to begin transporting the army up, and then we can be under way. Earth, here we come."
"Just like old times, hm, Jedite?" asked Neplyte, having abandoned Engineering for the bridge, to witness this moment of triumph.
"Exactly," Jedite laughed, as did Malachite and Zoisite. "Exactly like old times. And this moon will fall even easier than did the last."
"Go!" Troi yelled, firing her phaser, ducking behind some equipement. "Data! Cover the rest of the scouts--we've got to let them get through!"
"Understood," Data replied, calmly, firing his own phaser. He motioned for Mercury and Jupiter, the first scouts through, to get out of the way. They moved to the side, stunned by the technology they were seeing, and by the Portal itself. As the Negaforce in the Starfleet universe had grown, so had the Portal. It was now five stories high, and somehow even more menacing than Troi remembered.
Neptune and Venus came through, followed by Mars. "Down!" Troi yelled, as she saw a negaverse sniper appearing, ready to fire a modified phaser. The women didn't understand Troi's frantic english yell, but they did understand as she leapt out and fired her phaser over their heads to pick off the soldier.
"Say 'kaihi shite' next time," Data instructed, pronoucing the Japanese for her. She nodded, and said it over in her head, as Pluto came through the Portal.
"Counselor, Negaverse soldiers approaching--" Data warned her, yelling. Troi whirled, to catch sight of the legion.
"Kaihi shite!" she yelled, and the scouts all obediently threw themselves to the ground, allowing Data and Troi to begin to pick off the advancing troops. "There's too many--we'll have to wait for Sailor Moon, then retreat to more defensible ground--"
"Turoi-san!" Sailor Mercury stood up. "Helping you we can!"
"We'll take care of it--" Troi began, unsure what these girls could do against phasers--for all their mystical and or perhaps mythical powers, they were still just teenagers, in sailor suits. The Portal was rippling again--someone else was coming through. Sailor Moon would be vulnerable when she first transported, Chibimoon even more so. Troi began to move into position to defend the Portal, and motioned for the blue sailor to get back down. The sailor didn't move.
"Senshi! Kogeki shite!" Mercury yelled.
They stood up, and nodded to each other.
"Shabon Spray!" she cried, in English. A thick mist suddenly appeared, blanketing the area. Troi couldn't see more than three feet in front of her, but Data seemed to have no problem compensating, the counselor could hear his phaser firing.
Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibimoon emerged through the gate. Sailor Venus and Pluto grabbed them both and hauled them out of the way. They were all scurrying to get behind crates and containers, as the fog began to lift.
"What is going on?" Troi wondered. She and Data got behind their own crates as the mist disappeared. Troi could sense the disbelief in the Negaverse soldiers. They were very, very confused at the nature of the new attacks. She wondered why, if Sailor Moon and company had been fighting them before--but then she realised that these Negaverse troops had never met Sailor Moon before!
Neptune and and Uranus got up out of hiding. They looked at each other, and nodded. "Submarine Reflection!" Neptune cried, holding a small mirror. It glowed, and flashed, and the phasers in the hands of the Negaverse troops disappeared.
"Space Sword Blaster!" Uranus shrieked, leaping into the air. A beam of energy materialised, shaped much like a sword, and she used it to slash across the chests of the troops. They screamed, and vanished, their bodies disappearing.
Troi and Data were stunned, and stared at each other, and at the two scouts. The Scouts, in turn, looked at the Starfleet officers for their new orders. "I suppose we should make some sort of a plan," Troi said dryly.
"Indeed, Counselor. Perhaps we could use the shuttle to retake the starbase," Data said.
Troi shook her head. "No. We've got to destroy this Star Portal, first. To stop them sending troops through."
"Excellent idea, Counselor." Data replied, turning to face the crowd of japanese warrior women when Mercury came forward.
"Destroy Portal?" she said, hesitantly. "Most able is Sailor Moon." She turned to her comrades, and began a quick conversation in japanese with Sailor Moon.
"I'm not following any of this," Troi muttered.
"Sailor Moon is planning to destroy the Portal, but she needs the help of two other soldiers to do it," Data translated.
"The japanese term is `senshi'," Data clarified. "That is what they call themselves."
"I thought they called themselves Scouts," Troi answered, confused. Data shook his head.
"Turoi-san, backing up please," Mercury called out. Troi nodded, and she and Data moved away from the Portal. Sailor Moon took out a sceptor (now where did she get that from? Troi wondered) and she and Sailor Pluto and Sailor Jupiter stood in front of the portal.
Pluto raised her staff that she carried, and began a series of intricate movements, as did Sailor Moon. Jupiter stood with her arms crossed over her chest.
"Dead Scream!" yelled Pluto suddenly, pointing her staff towards the Portal. A red ball of energy shot out.
"Sparkling Wide Pressure!" Jupiter yelled simultaneously, releasing a large electrical charge that combined with Pluto's "dead scream".
"Moon Gorgeous Meditation!" Sailor Moon cried, pointing with her sceptor, and a third blast of energy combined with the other two, creating a massive ball of energy that shot into the Portal. The Portal itself began to glow, and then exploded with a tremendous noise, sending a giant fireball into the sky.
Troi instinctively brought her arms up in defense, even though she was safely far enough away.
"It has been destroyed, Jedite," Zoisite repeated. "Do you think the readings could be wrong?"
Jedite scowled, and looked fearfully at the Queen, who could very easily execute him for this. The Queen, however, was staring off into the distance, a small smile on her face. "Sailor Moon," she said softly.
"Who?" asked Zoisite, bluntly. Jedite's cheeks burned red with anger. Imagine talking to the Queen like that!
"Sailor Moon," the Queen replied. "It has come full circle."
"Engaging evasive manoeuvres," Data reported. He paused, looking thoughtful. "Curious, I am experiencing something I believe is `deja vu'."
"Good for you," Troi answered through clutched teeth. "Firing phasers. Direct hit--the base's phasers are off-line."
The shuttle shook violently, and the girls crowded in the back screamed in terror.
"Apparently, their torpedo bays are working just fine," Troi reported. "Shields still holding."
Another blast that nearly rocked Troi and Data from their seats. Sailor Moon began to wail, the other girls trying to comfort her, or alternately, yell at her for crying. Troi was trying to concentrate through the emotional haze that the senshi were creating. "Firing--"
Yet another direct hit scored on the shuttle's hull. "Shields down!" Troi gasped. "Another shot and we'll--"
The computer's voice rang out in the small space. "Danger. Hull breach is imminent. Warning, hull breach is imminent. War--"
Troi slapped her hand down, silencing the automated sequence. "Land the shuttle, it's our only hope," she said.
"Counselor, we will surely be outnumbered if we do--they will have regrouped--"
"Land the shuttle! We can't take any chances!" she retorted. She got out of her seat and walked to the group of women, staring at her in incomprehension. She took a deep breath, and tried to project calm, and peace. She wasn't sure how receptive they would be, but it was worth a shot...
"Turoi-san," Mercury said, taking her hand, "Deta-san. Please join our group."
"I cannot," Data called. "I must land the shuttle."
"Leaving, we are," Mercury said slowly. "You must join."
"Data," Troi added, not taking her eyes from the blue-haired soldier, "I think you had better come here. I sense...something. I'm not sure, but I do know that they are serious. They seem to think they can leave the shuttle, and take us to the base."
Data joined the circle, curiousity written all over his face. They all joined hands, the senshi bowing their heads, and murmuring something that the counselor just couldn't make out...
"Intruder alert! Intruder alert!" wailed the siren on the Enterprise. "Intru--" It cut out rather ominously.
"Trinitite! Get troops down there!" Jedite barked, and Trinitite scurried away. Nephlyte teleported back to Main Engineering. Malachite and Zoisite looked helpless, and out of their element. The Queen looked very calm, and tranquil, even bemused.
"They will come here," she said, her voice cutting through the commotion, everyone stopping to turn and pay attention. "And when they do--we will show them the power of the Negaforce. But first, Jedite, I think we should set up something for the Starfleet scum--something more in their line of work."
"I really should be surprised by nothing, by now," Troi remarked, as they found themselves in the corridor of the Enterprise.
"Indeed, Counselor," Data remarked. He tried to use one of the corridor computers to access the ships log, to see if it had been retaken. Instead, a siren was set off, shrieking "Intruder alert!" before Data hastily deactivated it.
"I don't like this!" wailed Sailor Moon.
"Stop being such a cry baby," Mars snapped.
They stopped and noticed Troi and Data staring at them. "The ship's universal translators," Troi realised. "Of course. This makes things so much easier."
"You're talking--you're talking our language!" blurted Jupiter. Troi smiled.
"It's good to be home," she quipped. "Now, I've got a plan worked out. I'll need everybody's co-operation..."
"Right," they all chimed.
Engineering was chaos come to life. Negaverse Ensigns ran around all over the place, to and fro, trying to restore the engines. The good Negaverse ship Enterprise had limped all the way back to New Tokyo on impulse, and Jedite hadn't been too pleased. That meant Nephlyte wasn't too pleased, and as a consequence, nobody else was too pleased either. Generally, in the great scheme of things, nobody was pleased.
Arachnid clicked his mandibles together and worried. He was always worried, although he couldn't really tell why, anymore, he just was. It had always been like this
it hadn't always been like this....
It was irreverent thoughts like that that a person killed. Arachnid had already seen Nephlyte blast one of the recruits into oblivion for disobeying him. He didn't want to be the next in line. He thought he saw something out of the corner of one of his eyes. He looked--yes, it was. There was somebody out in the corridor, disobeying orders. He clicked his mandibles again in glee, and ran to get them.
"I hate spiders!" Venus screamed as one of the Negaverse recuits jumped out to get her. She screamed again and leapt backwards, even as Sailor Uranus leapt in front of her.
"Space Sword Blaster!" Uranus roared, slashing at the monster. It fell to the ground, dissolving into a middle-aged man, in a Starfleet uniform. "It must be one of theirs. But at any rate, keep it down, will ya? If we've got any hope of a surprise attack left--"
"How can we, if Venus keeps screaming like that?" snapped Mars. "And over a youma. You should know better, by now."
"Leave it be, Mars," Uranus snapped back. "Just keep quiet and keep your head down."
Venus nodded, Mars glared, and together they all leapt into Main Engineering.
"Freeze!" Mars yelled. At the sound of her voice, the engineers all whipped around. Nephlyte himself sauntered out.
"Well, if it isn't the sailor soldiers," he sneered. "Wanting to join the midnight shift?"
"You've burnt the midnight oil at both ends for the last time, Nephlyte!" Venus yelled. Uranus and Mars groaned.
"Get them!" Nephlyte ordered the recruits. They started forward.
"I'll handle them," Mars exclaimed. "Burning Mandala!"
Glowing, fiery rings shot out, hitting many of the recuits, flooring them and returning them to their pre-Negaverse state.
Venus leapt into the front, seizing the opportunity revealed by the surprise on Nephlyte's face. "Venus Love Me Chain!"
The beam struck him in the chest and he staggered. Not to be outdone, Mars added her two cents.
"Fire Soul!" she yelled, using her old attack.
"Cresent Beam!" Venus cried, also using her old attack. Nephlyte was thrown backwards into the wall. He got to his feet, groaning, and vowing revenge, when suddenly, the floor beneath his feet began to shake.
"What?" he groaned.
"World Shaking!" Uranus roared, flinging the powerful yellow ball of Uranus energy at the General. He screamed, and disappeared in a haze of bubbles, that drifted off and vanished.
"Ready?" Jupiter asked. Mercury nodded. They leapt in front of the door, as it openned.
"In place of the planet Jupiter--" Jupiter began, and Mercury added:
"And the planet Mercury--"
They both said the last bit, while doing their defensive postions: "we'll punish you!"
"Hush!" hissed one of the doctors, a great green snake. "We're trying to heal patients in here!"
"Supreme Thunder!" Jupiter yelled, using one of her weaker attacks. She didn't want to harm these people too much--they could be former crew. The doctor screamed, and fell to the floor, dissolving into a red-haired woman.
"What is going on here?" snapped someone else, a blue-haired woman, coming in from the office.
"I know you--we defeated you!" Mercury exclaimed.
"What? Senshi?!" the woman exclaimed. She made a dive for the commsystem panel, across the room.
"Not so fast!" Mercury yelled. "Shine Aqua Illusion!"
A beam of water shot out from the sailor's outstretched arms, drenching the youma and dropping her to the floor. She disappeared. "Must have been from the Dark Kingdom." Jupiter said, carrying the unconscious doctor and placing her on one of the biobeds.
"She was. Rei and I met up with her--before you joined us." Mercury said. "I have a bad feeling about this, Mako-chan. If she's here, it means she wasn't defeated by us before. Which means..."
"Queen Beryl." Jupiter finished grimly. "A Queen Beryl who defeated the senshi before."
Mercury nodded. She looked around the empty sickbay. "I wonder where all the patients are?" she murmured.
"Cargo bay is where they're holding the prisoners," Jupiter replied. "I hope Neptune and Pluto are okay in there."
"Pluto! Watch yourself!" Neptune yelled, as one of the Negaverse soldiers threw themselves at the senshi. Pluto was quick, and used her staff to her advantage and caught the soldier in the stomach with it, knocking him backwards. Another charged, but this one was stopped by one of the Starfleet officers, coming around.
The tall, red-dressed officer threw the monster against the bulkhead, and turned to the two sailors. "Did you come to help?" he asked.
"Yes," Neptune said, bowing. "We came with Troi-san and Data-san to help defeat the Negaverse. You are...?"
"Commander William T. Riker," he replied, sticking out his hand, and Neptune bowed instead, so Riker withdrew his hand gingerly. "Okay. Well. How long were we out?"
"We just started waking you now," Pluto said, looking at the rest of the prisoners, groggily getting to their feet. Some, like Riker, woke up with less side-effects. "Awhile, I'd say. Jedite and the others will have been using you to power this ship."
Riker frowned when he heard that. "I've got to get to the bridge," he said.
"The others are making their way there," Pluto concurred. Riker nodded.
"The others being...?"
But before he could receive an answer, the cargo bay doors opened and a security detail marched in. The woman in charge seemed human enough, but the others--Riker was shocked, but not paralysed, and neither was Neptune or Uranus.
"Deep Submerge!" Neptune yelled, realising a large ball of blue energy that struck the first half of the detail. They collapsed, some disappearing, some reverting to human form.
"Senshi," the lead growled. She had long white-blonde hair, and neither Pluto nor Neptune could place her. "I've been wanting to fight senshi for a long time."
"Then you'll have to wait a little longer," Riker replied, firing a phaser he got off one of the fallen officers. The beam caught the Negaverse imposter in the chest, and she staggered backwards. One of the remaining recruits, a large, dark, burly creature with fangs, and forehead ridges--
"Mr. Worf!" Riker cried as the creature leapt at him, claws out, "this will not look good on next month's report!"
"Dead Scream!" Pluto yelled. A ball of deep red energy, much like Neptune's, struck Worf in the back. Being the sturdy fellow that he was, he was only merely staggered. Riker's phaser did the job. The Klingon recruit collapsed, changing back to his normal form.
Riker shook his head, to clear it, and noticed that the Negaverse ringleader had escaped. "We have to get her," he said, bolting down the corridor.
She wasn't much farther ahead of him. He fired his phaser, just missing her, before he clipped her, and she tripped, falling down. She was ready to meet him by the time he caught up, flinging a ball of energy at him. He had to throw himself to the ground to avoid getting hit.
"Stay down!" yelled a female voice behind him.
"Deep Submerge!" cried another voice.
"Dead Scream!" continued the first.
A super ball of energy, red and blue combined in a swirl blasted over Riker and into the Negaverse woman, and she vanished in an explosion of bubbles, that dissipated in the air.
"That's the second one I owe you," Riker remarked, as Pluto pulled him to his feet. "I'll have to make it up to you...Ten-forward, after all this is done, for a drink?"
"Perhaps," she said with a grin.
The bridge doors opened, and Data and Troi stepped out. Troi had to keep from gasping at the sight of the Enterprise bridge, it had completely changed, into a chamber of dark crystal, all jagged and rough.
Jedite stood up. At Ops and the helm were Malachite and Zoisite, but besides those three, the bridge was empty. "We've been expecting you," Jedite said smoothly.
"Careful," Troi whispered. "He's hiding something."
"Indeed?" asked Jedite, sounding very cordial and pleasent. "I didn't know you could read minds. That will be very useful in the Negaverse, Deanna."
"I'm not joining you," Troi said evenly. She was picking up more empathic feelings from him. He was definitely hiding something...no, not hiding, waiting? Expecting? She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but the feelings disturbed her nonetheless.
"I think you will. I know someone that's waiting for you, that can be very persuasive." Jedite continued. "Someone who can show you just who powerful the Negaforce can be." He clicked the side of his chair, and the doors to the observation lounge slid open.
Troi gasped, and brought her phaser up. Even Data, the android with no emotions, looked shocked, and a little horrified.
"I am Locutus of Negaverse," the Borg stepped out, his laser searcher flickering across the bridge, brilliant against the darkness.
"What have you done to him?" Troi cried, whirling to face Jedite, her phaser in her hand.
"I convinced him. A good dose of the Negaforce will answer anyone's questions, you know." He grinned at her. "As you will soon see."
Someone stepped out from behind Locutus, a tall, red-haired woman. She walked slowly in her hip-hugging dress, carrying a staff and smiling ferally with pointed teeth.
"Counselor Troi, Commander Data, may I present our esteemed ruler, Queen Beryl." Jedite made a polished western-style bow, one foot in front and a deliberate flourish. "Long may she reign."
"I am glad to be adding an empath and an android to our army," she said slowly, savouring the moment. "Locutus has told us much about you. So don't struggle too much."
She raised her staff, the ball of energy contained in its top glowing brighter. Data drew out what appeared to be a small piece of pink plastic. He tapped it three times.
Suddenly, the turbolift doors at the bottom of the bridge opened. Jedite, Malachite and Zoisite whirled. The Queen looked down with interest.
"The door is empty!" Zoisite exclaimed. A mist was spewing out of the open doors, and a voice called out:
"Your conquest has gone too far! You cannot be allowed to control the lives of innocents!"
"What? Who said that?" demanded Malachite.
"I am the pretty sailor-suited soldier of love," the voice continued, carrying well in the silence of the dark, claustrophobic bridge. "I am Sailor Moon!"
She stepped out of the mist, stepping into her traditional pose. "I am the pretty sailor-suited soldier Sailor Chibimoon!" exclaimed another, smaller person, who stepped out. Together, they faced the Negaverse Generals and the Queen. "And in the place of the Moon, we'll punish you!" they cried simultaneously.
There was complete and utter silence. Then the Queen began to laugh. She laughed loud, and she laughed hard.
"Ha! The Sailor twit has grown up, I see! Has a small twit to carry on the family business!" she crowed, stamping her staff on the crystal floor, creating crack! sounds that made Troi want to wince.
"I'll take care of them," Zoisite exclaimed. "Zoy!"
A stream of pink petals shot out, but Sailor Moon lifted her sceptor and twirled it like a baton, the petals bouncing harmlessly off. Zoisite scowled, and tried again, with as little success. Malachite joined in, sending ribbons of black energy towards the duo, but having as little effect.
Sailor Moon looked down at Sailor Chibimoon, and they both nodded.
"Double Moon Gorgeous Meditation!" they yelled, using their wands. Zoisite screamed, and vanished as a puff of pink petals. Malachite roared in anger and charged the two, but the same beam of energy that had caught the former helmsman struck him as well, and he disappeared with a final yell of defeat.
Sailor Moon turned to Jedite, who had gone an unhealthy shade of white. He made a small gesture with his hand and teleported out.
Beryl snorted. "He always was a coward," she sniffed. "Not very good at anything besides posturing and big plans. Oh well. You, Locutus, more than make up for him. Kill your former crew." she told him, grinning her pointy-toothed grin. Locutus advanced forward. Data tried the phaser on stun, but it bounced off.
"They must have inadvertantly created Borg technology," Data muttered, trying again, a different frequency. Troi joined in, as well.
"Troi-san!' Sailor Moon yelled. Troi glanced over, not taking her eyes off the advancing Borg drone. "Take this!"
Troi was nearly smacked in the head with what appeared to be a small wand, partly shaped like a crescent moon, on a small stick.
"Yell Moon Healing Escalation," Sailor Moon said quickly. "It will heal Locutus."
Troi gulped, and took the wand in both hands. Feeling a little silly, she pointed it, and said "Moon healing escalation."
"No! You must believe in it, Troi-san!" Sailor Moon yelled. "You must use your heart's energy to make it work!"
Troi was no stranger to emotion. She was as aware of her own emotions, feelings, as she was of those of the people around her, the difference being she could control her emotions. She did so now, channeling her feelings, focusing them. She had nothing to lose by it.
"Moon healing escalation," she said again. This time, she could feel something in the wand, something starting to build. Her confidence growing, she straightened herself and yelled: "Moon Healing Escalation!"
Beams of light shot out, small crescent shaped pieces of energy that wrapped themselves around Locutus, who stood with his arms raised. He dropped to the floor, Picard once more. Troi heaved a sigh of relief, even as Data rushed forward to drag Picard out of the way.
"I never knew I had it in me," Troi said dryly, as Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibimoon walked up the ramp to join the Starfleet officers.
"It is time, Beryl." she said, standing straight, and proud.
"Yes," Beryl said with a sardonic smile. "I suppose it is."
She pointed her staff, and a beam of energy lanced out, striking Sailor Moon full blast and driving her into the bulkhead. Chibimoon rushed to her side, and helped her get shakily to her feet. She raised her wand. "Moon Gorgeous Meditation!" she cried, firing her own beam of energy at the Queen. The energy dissipated before it struck the Negaverse monarch.
"You cannot defeat me, Sailor Moon! I have the power of two subjected universes, and the energy I have already collected from this one! You cannot match me, and you cnnot win!"
Sailor Moon staggered back. "She's right--how can I beat her? She's too powerful!"
"No, she's not, Sailor Moon!" Chibimoon cried. "You can beat her!"
"She's right, Sailor Moon," added Troi. "Use your `heart's energy'. Use the strength you carry within you--as I did."
"Sailor Moon," Data began, "as much as my own scientific nature cannot explain the process by which you create your attacks, I must admit the result is sound. You must trust in the statistical probability of success, based on previous knowledge."
"He says he believes in you," Troi translated with a smirk.
"We believe in you too, Sailor Moon," said two new voices from the viewscreen. It was Sailor Mercury and Jupiter, having cut in from Sickbay.
"So do we," said three other voices, over the commsystem: Venus, Mars and Uranus.
"Everyone. Help me, everyone," Sailor Moon whispered. "Help me, as you've always helped me before."
Riker watched in confusion as Neptune and Pluto suddenly stopped in their tracks, on the way to the bridge. They looked at each other, and Riker got a tingle up and down his spine. They seemed to be listening to something telepathically.
Suddenly, their tiaras that they wore on their head disappeared, and a symbol appeared on their foreheads. Neptune's was off the planet Neptune, and Pluto's--surprisingly--was of Pluto.
"Sailor Moon," they both whispered. They began to glow, bathed in an unearthly aura, and Riker took a step backwards. Just who were these women anyway?
On the screen, Mercury and Jupiter were both being enveloped in a blue and green glow, respectively. Chibimoon also began to glow, pink, and closed her eyes. Data watched with rapt attention, until he noticed that Troi also had her eyes closed, and that a glow seemed to emanate from her, as well. Sailor Moon stood at attention, and held out her wand. It began to grow and change, becoming longer, thinner, and developed elements that Data found very familiar. The tip was suggestive of a phaser's. The handle was made of titanium, now. And where there was once a crescent moon embossed on the handle, there was now a Starfleet insigna.
Mercury and Jupiter disappeared from the screen. They reappeared at the bottom of the dark bridge, as did Mars, Venus, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and a very confused looking Riker.
"Shine Aqua Illusion!" Mercury yelled, and one by one, the senshi began their attacks.
"Sparkling Wide Pressure!"
"Venus Love Me Chain!"
The deadly energies combined, forming an explosive ball of power that slammed into the Queen. Nothing was able to stand that amount of sheer power. Nothing...
The Queen fell to one knee. She seemed slightly winded. She got to her feet, and smiled.
"Is that the best you can do? Then try and take real power!" she yelled, directing her staff at the Senshi, firing a blast of pure Negaforce. They screamed, and collapsed. Riker, having gotten out of the way to join Troi and Data, was horrified and confused beyond comprehension.
Sailor Moon said nothing, but raised the wand over her head. Chibimoon and Troi opened their eyes. Beryl watched in disgust, and a little apprehension. She looked as if she had seen something like this before.
"You still cannot beat me," she snarled, not explaining the look in Sailor Moon's eyes or the little bit of terror that was creeping into her voice. "I destroyed your mother, once. I took that universe over, and no one can stop me from taking this one!"
"I can." Sailor Moon said simply. She closed her eyes, gathering her strength together. When she opened her eyes, she brought the wand down, pointing it straight at Beryl, and yelled: "Cosmic... Starfleet... Exploration!"
There was a sound, like the sound of the warp core on maximum, the swish of a door, the zing of a phaser. A blue pulse wrapped itself around Beryl, despite her best efforts to stop it, and there was a whine in the air. She began to vanish, disappearing in a haze of silver sparkles.
"No!" she screamed, "No....!"
And then she was gone.
"We thank you again," Picard said, tugging his shirt hem down, out of habit. "We couldn't have done any of it without you."
"It was our duty, as Soldiers of Love," Sailor Moon answered, stepping up on to the transporter pad.
"Yes...well," Picard seemed a little taken aback by the comment, but pressed on regardless. "Our thanks, anyway."
Sailor Moon's communicator beeped. "Sailor Moon," Jupiter's voice called. "The Negabase has been returned to Starfleet control. Ann and Ail have been rounded up, and Haruka reports that the youma on the ground have been rounded up."
"Good, then everything's taken care of." Sailor Moon said, nodding. She turned to Picard. "And are you all right? How is your crew?"
"For some reason, we've all got no memories of our...transformations," Picard answered dryly. "That is probably for the better."
"I'll have to leave my schedule open, at any rate," Troi remarked drily. They all chuckled.
Data stepped forward to hand Sailor Moon the crystal, still attached to the tricorder. "I have set it with your home co-ordinates," he said. She bowed, slightly, but looked at it in confusion. Finally, she just passed it to Mercury.
The doors opened and Riker and a young woman entered. The woman had long, green-black hair tied in a top-knot, and was smiling at some remark that Riker had said while the doors were still closed.
"I'll see you around, Setsuna," he said with a smile. She returned the smile shyly.
"Yes, perhaps some time," she said, a twinkle in her eye. She stepped up on to the transporter pad, along with the other senshi, and Troi who was going to help them on the surface.
"Energize," Picard said. They disappeared in a swirl of sparkles.
"It's been quite an interesting trip, Number One," Picard said. "I think we might all need a few days of R&R."
"Agreed, sir. Care to join me on the surface? I hear there's a great little resturant in the colony. Has the best fugu..." Riker grinned at his commanding officer's lack of enthusiasm.
"I think, maybe not tonight, Number One." Picard replied.