|A Tangled Web Pt 1: A Slide In Time
Author: ordinaryguy2 PM
The Sliders bump into the TARDIS and end up having an encouter with the Borg that threatens everyone!Rated: Fiction K - English - Chapters: 3 - Words: 25,981 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 3 - Published: 05-31-02 - id: 809852
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A TANGLED WEB Part I: A SLIDE IN TIME
By Charlie I do not own any of the characters written in this story. All major characters are owned by rich corporations and I am just borrowing them. Also, I am making no money by writing this story. I write this for the fun of it as well as to better my creative instinct and grammatical skills.
I think I should explain that part of what I am trying to do with this story is to mix as many storylines together as possible and still make it interesting and true to the characters. The challenge to myself is to effectively blend some old sci-fi with some new sci-fi shows. This story will include many crossovers starting with Doctor Who, Sliders and Star Trek.
Star Trek: The timeframe for this crossover finds the Next Generation crew in the movies, Deep Space Nine has been reclaimed from the Dominion and Ezri Dax is on board, and Voyager has Seven of Nine but not the Borg children.
Sliders: Sometime before season three began and the original four sliders were still together.
Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor (played by Tom Baker) with his companion Leela and the canine robot K-9.
I will try to make everything clear and interesting. Please send e-mail with advice on how to better my writing style and story. This is my first story so please be kind but helpful.
Warning: There will be some character deaths. Not in part one but keep reading and you will see.
A TANGLED WEB Part I: A SLIDE IN TIME
By Charlie filled the many rooms inside the TARDIS. Leela rushed through the hallway until she came to the room where she found the Doctor leaning over the console. "What has happened? Are we under attack?" asked the beautiful brown haired young woman dressed in rough hunting leathers. Her eyes sparkled with the excitement of possible danger and adventure; her hand firmly grasped the knife still in its sheath attached to her belt.
"Nothing so exciting, Leela," spoke the Doctor. He turned a few dials while examining some of the readouts, "the TARDIS has simply run into something."
"How is that possible," asked Leela, still alert but calming down. Though she did not grow up with a technological background, she had learned to respect and trust the complex TARDIS that she and the Doctor traveled in. In fact, much to the Doctor's annoyance, due to her primitive upbringing she seemed to consider the TARDIS some sort of deity and the console some form of altar. However, the Doctor did not see himself as some type of holy man.
The Doctor didn't even bother to look up at her as he answered. "Since the TARDIS travels outside of space and time we must have bumped into something that was similarly traveling through space and time." The alarms stopped. "Finally!" the Doctor exclaimed. Then with no further explanation he moved to another part of the console and checked more of the readouts. "Hmmm… whatever it was does not appear to be there anymore. But there does seem to have been something alive out there. No make that four somethings alive… or were alive at any rate."
"Did we destroy them then, Doctor?"
"Hmm.. What!? No. No. We bumped it. Or merely tapped each other in passing. If we had crashed into each other directly then according to these energy readings we'd all have been wiped out of existence." He leaned up at Leela and smiled. "And that doesn't seemed to have happened."
"I see," answered Leela, who really wasn't happy with that answer. To die in battle was something Leela could easily accept, but to die by accidentally running into something else just seemed rather pointless to the young warrior. "Were the people in the other ship hurt?"
"Oh, I really don't know. There seems to have been no ship, yet we hit something. The really puzzling thing is these energy readings. I wonder…"
A swirl of bluish-white energy appeared out of the night sky filling the alleyway. One by one four figures were flung from inside the circular energy mass and into the hard walls of the alley. Then a moment later the circle of light closes in on itself so abruptly any witnesses would wonder if it had been there at all.
A groan of complaint rose from one of the four figures. "Ohhh…ow. I hurt. I really hurt something bad this time." Slowly the dark-skinned man turned and sat up. "I feel like I hit a brick wall."
"Well, you're partially correct," groaned another of the figures. An older man with a trim black beard and expanding waistline slowly got up brushing some of the dirt off of his clothing. "It was a wall," responded Professor Maximillian Arturo, "but not like any we've run into before. And it is certainly not made of bricks. I don't recall bricks ever being so hard."
"Professor!" a third figure called out. "My arm!"
The Professor turned seeing the young woman gingerly holding her left arm. "Wade! Don't move!" called out the Professor as he rushed to her side with a speed that one would not expect from such a large man. Once he looked the arm over his face became grave. "Well, there's good news and bad news."
The young woman, Wade Welles, looked at him with pain and confusion.
"The good news is that you'll keep the arm and play the keyboard again."
"And the bad news…?" she asked.
The Professor sighed but made sure he looked her in the eye as he told her. "It's a bad fracture with signs of some nasty bone splinters. This is going to require some medical attention that we cannot do ourselves. Rembrandt?"
The first figure, Rembrandt Brown, had finally managed to stand without support of the wall. When he heard his name called he turned to answer and almost fell in the attempt. "Yeah Professor?"
"Go to alley entrance and see what kind of world we arrived at this time. Wade needs medical attention."
Rembrandt turned to where the alley opened up. He used the wall to brace himself as he walked and began to marvel at how smooth the wall was. Smooth and hard, he thought. A twinge in his left leg almost made him collapse but he took a breath and continued. "Man, I think I need medical attention, too," he muttered to himself. Stepping out into the open his eyes first focused on the familiar sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, then he saw… "Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore."
"What wrong, Mr. Brown?"
"I think you better come out and see this, Professor. Cause if you can't see this then I must have hit that wall harder than I thought!"
The Professor let out a painful moan as he rose to his feet. He knew he was going to carry the pain of this slide for at least a week. This world had better be user-friendly or we are all going to be in real trouble, he thought. After much limping he came to where Rembrandt was staring out into the landscape of the San Francisco Bay area. One look in the direction Rembrandt was gazing caused his jaw to drop. "I don't believe it."
The night sky of the San Francisco was filled with lights and huge buildings of fantastic shapes and sizes. But what was the hardest for the two Sliders to accept was the sight of ships flying around the sky. Ships that in no way resembled the planes used in their world.
"Spaceships," Rembrandt finally spoke.
"N-no. Not nec-necessarily." The Professor paused before continuing. "It could just be airships used like we use motor vehicles back in our world…in our universe."
"You really think they could make vehicles like that and not have them go into space?" responded the Crying Man half in shock and in anger.
"I'm not questioning that, but it is quite evident that this earth is much more advanced than our earth."
"Hey, guys!" came a shout from the alley.
"Wade?" the Professor asked barely turning away from the awesome sight in front of him. "Is something wrong?"
"Why isn't Quinn moving?"
The two men turned to each other. They had forgotten about Quinn! They both hobbled as they ran to where the prone body of the forth Slider, Quinn Mallory laid in the shadows just beyond where they had all fallen.
Wade had turned over the body of Quinn Mallory by the two men got there. His face was half covered with blood. Part of the blood came from where he had bit through his lip but most of it came from an ugly wound on his forehead, which was the first evidence of something seriously wrong.
The Professor checked his breathing and heart. "Not good, but still hanging on." Next he checked Quinn's eyes.
"He's gonna be alright, though, right?" Wade's eyes pleaded for a yes. "He's not going to d--!" She stopped unable to continue. Quinn had been one of her closest friends for years. Long before they had met the other two. Long before sliding. She had always thought that one day they would get together and get married, have kids and the whole ball of wax. Even when the sliding started she thought they would get together and settle down. If not on their world then on another. And now?!?
"At the very least he might have a severe concussion. And that is if he is extremely lucky."
"Q-Ball? Come on, man!" Rembrandt pleaded with his unresponsive friend. "You gotta get up! There's a whole new shiny world filled with all the technological goodies you like so much."
"Professor, what should we do?" asked Wade with tears in her eyes.
Before he could answer Rembrandt cried out. "Noooo!!!"
The other two Sliders turned to Quinn thinking he had passed on but they noticed his chest still rising and falling in shallow breathes. Then they saw the source of Rembrandt's cry. In Quinn's hand was a smashed timer that opened the sliding portal. Parts of it were even missing. So was their last hope of getting home.
"No! Now we're stuck here! Now we'll never slide home to our Earth! Our Dimension!"
A hand slapped him hard in the face bringing him back to reality. The first thing he saw past the stars was the angry eyes of Wade. Eyes that were crying. "How can you think of that at a time like this!?! Quinn is hurt and maybe dying here! He needs us to be there for him," she screamed. "He was always there for you when you needed him!" Her yells began turning more and more into hysterical sobs as she continued. "Now he needs us! He needs us to be strong for him … and help him!" She fell to her knees crying into her hands.
"I-I'm sorry, Wade, I didn't mean-"
"We don't have time for this, Mr. Brown."
Rembrandt looked stricken until he saw the soft light in the Professor's eyes.
"You will have to go for help. Wade and I will attend to Quinn until you return."
"Help?" Rembrandt repeated. "That's right. This is a futuristic sci-fiish world. They could probably fix up old Q-Ball faster than he could hurt himself." Rembrandt managed a grin. "I'm on it, Professor. I'll get help in no time." He looked down at the crying young woman. Ah, man. I really upset her, he thought. What should I say? I should say something? Apologize or- "Wade, I'm going for help so everything is going to be okay, alright?"
She managed to look up at him. Suddenly a half smile strained across her face as she wiped away her tears in embarrassment. "Yeah. You go do that."
With a last look at Quinn's body Rembrandt turned and started hobbling toward the entrance of the alleyway. A thought of inspiration hit him. Maybe these sci-fi people can even fix the timer!
Halfway there he heard a voice call out, a voice he didn't recognize. "Freeze! This is a stick-up. Stop right where you are, Hew-mons!"
Rembrandt froze. Not now!! he thought. He slowly turned to see who had called out.
In the far end of the alley out of the shadows came two short, ugly, large eared, bald humanoids with thin jagged teeth. They couldn't possibly be human. Both seemed to be pointing something in his direction that made him think it was probably some sort of gun.
"Don't move! This is a stick-up!" the alien repeated obviously nervous.
"What do you mean stick-up?" asked his cohort, "these are phasers we're using, not sticks."
The first alien was rattled by the others questioning. "Shut up! It's an Earth saying used when robbing someone. If you would study the local culture you know that."
"You have to quote 'this is a stick-up' in order for the people to know they are being robbed? I would think a phaser pointed at them would give them the idea."
"Hew-mons are very stupid. That's why we have to say 'this is a stick-up' so they know what is going on." Exasperated the first alien turned back to the humans. "Now, freeze."
The second alien shook his head. "What does lowing their body temperature going-?!?" He stopped when he noticed his companion's phaser pointing at him. He turned backed to the humans staring at him. "Freeze, ugly Hew-mons!"
The Professor was the first to answer the aliens. "What is it you want?"
"We want the technology you use to go between parallel universes. Don't bother denying it. We heard you talking about it. Our Ferengi ears are very good at eavesdropping."
"Does this mean we aren't going to break into the warehouse after this to see what we can find," sounding disappointed.
"Will you shut up, Blout!" yelled the first Ferengi. "This technology is worth a hundred times more than whatever we would find in that warehouse. Now focus on the job."
"Alright," relied the second Ferengi who was suddenly more attentive now that he knew there were still credits to be had.
"Now where is the device you use, Hew-mon?"
This question was directed at the Professor, who seemed taken aback. Seeing that lying would get him nowhere he thought the truth just might. "The device lies broken there in my unconscious friend's hand."
"But you can fix it, yes?" demanded the first alien thrusting his phaser at the Professor in a threatening manner.
"No," the Professor partially lied. "It has to be almost completely rebuilt. And only he," the Professor pointed to Quinn, "has the knowledge to do it."
"He's dying?" asked Blout as he moved forward to look more closely at the prone human.
The Professor saw a chance and decided to take it. "He might unless he gets immediate medical attention."
"Who are you and where do you come from?" questioned the first alien. Then he squinted his eyes and raised his phaser at the Professor in a more aggressive. "And don't lie to me Hew-mon. I'll know if you lie to me and you won't like what I do to you if you do lie."
The black bearded man thought quickly of what he could say and what had already been spoken aloud about sliding in the alleyway. He didn't know the norm for this world so he would have to take everything at face value. That didn't help much considering that hostile aliens had weapons trained on him and his friends. But Quinn's immediate need of medical aid helped him to form desperate perspectives.
"My name is Professor Maximillian Arturo," He paused to reflect upon what he was about to do. He looked down at Quinn's battered body and then into the teary eyes of Wade and realized he had no choice. "We are Sliders. Travelers that go between parallel worlds that are alike but slightly different."
"Different how," demanded the first alien.
Arturo didn't like the fact of giving away to much information. He had hoped he could entice these creatures with some vague information so they would comply with his wishes of seeing to Quinn's injuries then eventually escape before they learned too much to become dangerous to other worlds. "Each world is unique. Some worlds are more advanced technologically, others are primitive." He grimaced and added, "Some worlds allow for the advancement of other creatures or even magic." He stopped wondering if he said too much. But it was too late to retract any of his statements so he decided to return to his appeal "Now see to my young friend's wounds!" he demanded. It came out more like a plea.
The leading Ferengi thought a moment. Then a twinkle of comprehension appeared in his eye followed by a broad grim. He turned to his companion. "Put your phaser on stun and shoot them. We're taking them with us. And if you question me about it, Blout, I'll dock you 55 of your earnings."
The second Ferengi bit his lip, a painful gesture for a Ferengi. He really wanted to ask some questions but profit was more important. So with a sigh he adjusted his phase setting and shot the female who was trying to stand up while cradling her arm. The Professor held up his hands in a futile attempt to surrender but was likewise stunned.
Rembrandt couldn't believe his eyes. Just when he thought things couldn't get any worse, they did. He turned and sprinted for the entrance of the alleyway willing his injured legs to go faster than they were willing to go. Phaser fire came close as he turned the corner. He stopped there unsure of what to do and unwilling to leave his friends, his last link to home, behind.
As he stood beside the wall he could hear the two Ferengi bickered amongst themselves. After a few minutes the bickering seemed to ease off as the two Ferengi talked things out. Rembrandt decided to take a chance and peeked around the corner. The Ferengi were standing over the bodies of his friends and one was holding the broken timer in it's hand. Then the air around them shimmered in white light and they were gone.
And Rembrandt was alone.
"K-9" called the Doctor
"Yes, Master," came a reply from around the corridor followed by a metallic object rolling into the room stopping in front of the doctor. The object basically resembled a metallic gray rectangular box on wheels with a bad facsimile of a dog's head mounted on the front.
"I need you to look at this signature analysis and compare them with the data in the TARSIS data records to find something similar. I need to know what could have made them and anything else you might discover."
"Affirmative." The little satellite dish-like ears began to twitch as it sought the information from the console of the TARDIS so that K-9 could fulfill the doctor's request.
Leela frowned. "Doctor, do you have any guesses as what it could have been?"
The doctor smiled at Leela. "I have some ideas but nothing conclusive yet."
"Well, I know for certain the energy reading originated around the late twentieth century on Earth, but the means of the travel are still eluding me."
"And some of the means might be…?" inquired Leela.
"My, you're inquisitive today. But all right, I want to encourage that. Let me think, sometime in the later twentieth century of Earth, man had been making significant progress in technology. Some of those creative energies were applied to time travel."
"Like we travel in the TARDIS?" asked Leela as she sat down. Now that she got the doctor talking she knew he could keep himself going for quite a while. She might as well be comfortable.
"No, not like the TARDIS, but some of them are rather creative in how they have accomplished time travel, though I perceive them to be extremely dangerous and fool-hardy. For example, two scientists, a Dr. Tony Newman and a Dr. Doug Phillips, came up with the idea of extending a tunnel through time itself to visit the past."
(TV show-The Time Tunnel-1966)
"How could that be dangerous?"
"Things are always flying through space and time. The TARDIS has sensors to avoid such obstacles. Now, the-"
"But, Doctor, we were just hit by something while traveling through space and time."
"Yes, that is why it is imperative that we find out what it is so that the TARDIS can avoid it the next time," answered the doctor. "See, that is the whole problem with the 'time tunnel' the scientists had created. It was this big long thing that extended through time and space. They had no means of sensing objects coming at them. Even if they did they could not move out of the way of it. Of course, soon after they began the program they learned how little control over it they really had."
"I see." Leela thought a moment. "And another example would be…"
"Well, there is this group of… I guess you could call them the Time Lords of Earth. They are a group dedicated to preserving history from alteration from other time travelers or time anomalies. They call themselves the 'Voyagers' and use an ingenious little device called an Omni to travel through time. I believe I have one somewhere in the TARDIS. It had been broken and I have been meaning to fix it when I got the time but sometimes even in a time machine there-"
"-isn't enough time. Yes. Having traveling with you, I noticed it a while ago."
"Yes well," sputtered the doctor, "I once met a Dr. Brown who built a time machine into a car, a Delorian, actually. Probably the most reasonable non-Gallifrian designs I have ever come across. Extremely interesting man. Was able to grasp the dangers of time travel and dealt with it accordingly." The doctor paused in thought. "I suspect he may have actually been one of the founders of the time traveling guardians, Voyagers. I shall have to look into that some day."
(Movie-Back To The Future-1985)
"Master," K-9 spoke up. " I have completed the analysis of the data you wanted examined."
The doctor pivoted on his feet to face the robot dog. "And?"
"It was a temporal spatial energy field. It was being used to generate a pathway between two parallel world."
"And what was transported through this tunnel?" asked the doctor.
"At the time of impact with the TARDIS there were four humans in the tunnel."
"Four people slipping from one world to another in a tunnel of pure energy?! Made from 20th century technology?!? Madness!"
Leela spoke up, "Are they all right?"
"What? Oh no, no I'm afraid they couldn't possible have survived a collision unless," the doctor paused in thought. "K-9, did the energy tunnel just end when it hit the TARDIS or did it continue on it's course?"
The metallic dog seemed to perk up in response to its master. "The energy tunnel was slightly deflected by the TARDIS causing the energy tunnel to go off course."
The doctor quickly turned to his console to navigate the coordinates that K-9 had supplied.
"Doctor, what are we doing?"
The doctor turned to her with a startling intensity. "We are going to find those four people, offer them any aid we can, and return them to where they should be. I refuse to be a hit-and-run driver." He turned back to his console to make more adjustments. "People who don't take care of their mistakes are a bane to existence. Responsibility is a sacred thing, Leela. We must never forget that."
Leela looked at the doctor with pride and just a little awe. "Of course, Doctor. I understand," she said quietly.
The Ferengi ship, Flarqesf Snixek (Spoils of Profit), quickly made its way out of the Earth solar system and on its way toward the Ferengi Homeworld. Although the ship flew in the silence of space, inside the ship was anything but silent.
Dverl walked purposely onto the bridge ignoring the hisses of his fellow Ferengi crew members. Following him, Blout came cowering and unwilling to look anyone in the eyes.
"Dverl, what in the name of the Grand Nagus have you done!?!" screeched a Ferengi sitting next to the DaiMon's chair.
Dverl felt the angry eyes of his crewmates on him. Crewmates that had expected him to come back with valuable technologies stored in the Starfleet warehouse. Not three injured Hew-mons. Word had spread fast through the ship but he had expected that. Now he just had to get them to listen to him before they confiscated all his holdings and spaced him off the ship. "Watch your tone with me, you lobeless monstrosity!"
Gint's nostril's flared and a angry flush spread across his face causing his ears to burn a bright red. It was insulting enough that Dverl had talked back to him but that he should use the damage incurred from a rather irate Klingon customer in his insult only made it more... insulting!!
The eyes of the bridge crew were glued to the two antagonists waiting for what they did not know, but they wanted to be ready for it. Blout's jaw just hung open in shock of all the activity around him.
Then from the other side of the room came a wheezing noise. Heads turned to see the DaiMon of the ship standing in the doorway to his private quarters. He was skinnier than most Ferengi, had more wrinkles and one could easily see he was ill. Truth was he had a simple virus that could easily be treated but would not be because he didn't want to pay for the medication. He was frugal that way and in many other ways. And his crew respected him for it. And now as they listened to his wheezing they knew he was laughing. He had been sick for a while now.
A young intern was at the DaiMon's side and helped him his chair in the middle of the room. Nix than took his seat at the feet of the DaiMon. He had paid highly for the right to sit there and gleam the words of wisdom and advice that came from the famous DaiMon of the Flarqesf Snixek. He had sat there for six months already and still had it reserved for two more. Normally an intern would not be allowed to stay that long on the ship but Nix was the DaiMon's nephew so had been allowed to pay the extra amount to stay on further.
The DaiMon, Shmun, shook his head trying to get the pain out that was building up in his ears. As DaiMon of the ship he was expected to come up with profit for himself and the crew. And as DaiMon if the ship did not make profit he had to find someone to blame. Dverl had been his chief agent of acquisitions for three years and never before had he made such a non-profitable mistake. Still, that wasn't going to keep Dverl and Blout from getting hung by their ears.
"Dverl, I sent you to appropriate certain items in the Star Fleet Academy's warehouse. Items that I had certain buyers already in line to sell to. Now I hear you are back, early I might add, without any of the items I requested, and with the added baggage of three Hew-mons, one of which is almost dead." Shmun paused, his quiet, wheezing voice had somehow silenced the entire bridge and he kept it so with his stare. "Well, Dverl, is there anything I left out?"
"He insulted your second in command and your honor," roared Gint.
"Nix," snarled Shmun. "Dock em' one." It was one of Shmun's customs to charge a penalty to anyone who brings up matters that are not consequential to the matters at hand. The common fine was one strip of latinum for every act of insubordination. And on Shmun's ship anything that happened to bring that discussion away from profit or was not regarding the profit was considered insubordination.
Gint opened his mouth to protest but caught himself. He had been on this ship for years and had once been witness to a similar situation while he had been a lowly engineer. The arguments had started quickly and as it heated up Shmun had docked people throughout the whole discussion. In the end nothing had been resolved to the crews advantage -the unfortunate scapegoat was spaced and his belongings confiscated by the DaiMon and the DaiMon had levied out over 37 fines to his crew. The lesson that Gint learned best from that experience was that Shmun would find profit in any situation. Even at the expense of his crew. He chose his words carefully. "What measly excuse could he give that could explain his incompetence? He messed up and cheated us- No," he paused for effect and turned to his Ferengi shipmates, "he stole from us the profits that would have been ours! Why should we listen to him now!"
Shmun sat back in his chair in amusement deciding this wasn't worth docking yet. Gint had stayed on the subject even if he was getting over dramatic about it. "Very well, Nix, tell him why we should listen to what Dverl has to say."
Nix grinned wildly at being asked to participate. "Of course, sir." Still grinning he turned to Gint. "The Seventh Rule of Acquisition: Keep Your Ears Open," he quoted.
Shmun's first thought was of tearing Nix's ears off. Then he looked over at Dverl who had been strangely quiet this whole time. Worse. Dverl was smiling, too. "Very well," he said begrudgingly, "let's see if there is any profit in this."
With a gesture from Shmun, Dverl addressed his audience. "My fellow crewmates, I can easily understand your initial reaction of anger in you common greeds not being meet here today." He stopped and allowed them a few seconds to mutter to themselves before continuing. "But I have accomplished something that may not only meet all of your greed today but for the rest of your lives." This time when he paused there was silence caused by their unbelief. Shmun sat listening patiently with no show of emotion on his face. Only his attention. Dverl continued. "The profit margins that can be made by these Hew-mons are incalculable."
Gint laughed as he stood up from his chair. "Surely you over exaggerate!"
Dverl smiled. "No, I do not."
"This is preposterous!" shrilled Gint.
"Nix, deducted another slip of latinum from Gint," said Shmun casually. "Dverl, please enlighten us with your findings. And what do you think is so profitable about these Hew-mons."
Gint growled softly as he watched the giggling Nix charge another penalty to his account.
Dverl discerned that his onlookers we finally ready to here him out. He could tell that a few had even begun to hope that he was telling the truth. They would soon learn that he was.
"As Bloat and I were attempting to gain entrance into the storage building we happened to see a most interesting sight which turned out to be the arrival of some Hew-mons." He stopped with a sigh. "It was rather breath taking, wasn't it, Blout?"
Blout cringed at being brought up during such a delicate and dangerous debate. And a potentially costly one at that. Looking to the left and right at his fellow shipmates he managed to produce a response which only came out as a gurgle.
"Yes," continued Dverl paying no attention to Blout, "as soon as I saw it I knew there were riches to be had but-," He paused looking out to see a captive audience waiting to hear where the profits were to be made. Gint still stood with his arms crossed but Dverl knew he was paying close attention. A glance at DaiMon Shmun showed the older Ferengi to be sampling some of his Hupyrian beetle snuff, but Dverl knew he was under closer scrutiny from him more than by anyone else on the ship. He continued, "It wasn't until we overheard the Hew-mons talk amongst themselves about their situation that I was reminded of the Ninety-fifth Rule of Acquisition."
It took Nix a moment before he realized that Dverl's stare at him meant he was suppose to quote the Ferengi Acquisition Rule as he had for Shmun even though everyone on the ship, with the possible exception of Blout, already knew the Rules of Acquisition backwards and forwards. At first he balked at being put in such a situation by someone who was himself in a desperate situation. Then his mind kicked in and he could not see how this particular Rule of Acquisition could be used in this mess. "Uh," he started. "Expand… or die?"
"Exactly!" Dverl smiled. "Expand or die. Now consider this rule and see how relevant it is for us. The Ferengi have saturated this area of space as far as our ships can take us. It hasn't been easy, especially when certain races like the Hew-mons give bad reports about us to races that haven't even had business dealings with us yet." It was a sore subject but the grunts and hisses acknowledged his assessment of the situation so far. "That was why when the Bajoran Wormhole suddenly made access to the Gamma Quadrant the Frengi traders leaped forward to make contact with new customers."
"So?" demanded Gint. "We seek new customers because some of the old ones are jealous of our gifts at bartering." He made a gesture to his mangled ears. "I think I understand that situation very well but how is that relevant to your actions tonight."
"Patience, Gint," said Shmun, "I think he might be actually going somewhere with this." He turned to Nix, "Intern, now why would the Ferengi continue to go out into foreign space instead of staying home and enjoying the pleasant rainfall everyday."
"Uh," Nix knew it was a trick question. No Ferengi enjoyed the constant rainfall of their home planet so Nix concentrated on the other part of the question. Then he answered hesitantly. "The Seventy-Fifth Rule of Acquisition?" When Shmun nodded Nix continued, "Home is where the heart is… but the stars are made of latinum."
"Exactly," laughed Dverl. "You do understand where I am going with this!" he said to Shmun, who he knew didn't know exactly where this was going but still was miles ahead of the other Ferengi in the room.
"Well, then explain it to the rest of us then," grumbled Gint. "Why did you bring back these three Hew-mons?"
Dverl began to unfold his tale of dimensional-traveling Hew-mons. Also the possibilities for profit that dimensional-traveling Ferengi could make. "Imagine world after world that does not know of Ferengi. We could trade in one world where technology is high and trade on another that is low-tech. If a world decides to become inhospitable than we just won't return there. And can bring all new unique things back to our home dimension to sell all over again for even more profit!" As he finished his tale of an inexhaustible supply of wealth flowing into their accounts he saw that the crew was salivating at his every word. Now for the bad news, he thought to himself. "There is just one problem."
"What?" asked Gint. Gint was a little disgusted with himself. He had found himself glassy-eyed and salivating just like the rest of the crew. He needed to keep his ears cleared if he was going to lead himself to profit.
Dverl held his tongue letting the anticipation build amongst the crew for a moment. "The device that opens these portals to parallel universes is broken, and its creator is one of the three Hew-mons captives aboard the ship but he will die unless he gets medical aid."
The crew cried out in anguish.
"Right now he is in a stasis field but if we can get the Hew-mon medical aid and have him to fix the world jumping machine then… then we will all be richer than any Ferengi has ever dreamed!!!" screeched Dverl.
Everyone one clamed up when their wheezing DaiMon rose to his feet. "At this point we don't seem to have any other choice if we are to still profit from this venture at all." Grumbling commenced immediately. "Besides there's nothing wrong with charity."
The crew gasped at this last statement.
Shmun grinned and continued. "As long as it winds up in your pocket!"
The crew laughed even as Nix announced the One Hundred Forty-Fourth Rule of Acquisition. A common but effective source of humor for Ferengi.
Rembrandt huddled in the dark end of the alley. At first he had searched the entire alley for clues about who these 'Ferengi' were and where that might have taken his friends. After a time he collapsed in exhaustion and pain. His legs were screaming for rest and medical care. Rembrandt, know to his music fans as the 'Crying Man', wept. He had lost the others in a new strange world and all he had to show for his efforts were a few computer chips that had fallen out of the broker timer.
Suddenly a rhythmic raspy groaning could be heard. Rembrandt ducked down low but he hadn't seen anything enter the alley. Great. It must be invisible. Then out of nowhere an antique British police box appeared.
"Oh boy," muttered Rembrandt, "I musta got knocked around harder than I thought." Still with all his Sliding experience Rembrandt wasn't going to dismiss this as an illusion. He had no idea what was normal in this world. This could be an everyday occurrence here.
Then the doors to the police box. A leather clad beautiful woman walked out followed by a brown curly-haired man wearing … Rembrandt couldn't take in much more than the frumpy wide-brimmed hat and scarf. But the man's wide-eyed stare was one of such intensity that Rembrandt immediately felt he should question this man's sanity.
"There!" exclaimed the woman. And Rembrandt was surprised to note that she was pointing directly at him. "There is a man hiding in the shadows."
The scarfed man pulled out one of his many devices from his pocket and extended it in the section of the alley that Rembrandt was hiding in.
"This cannot be good," muttered Rembrandt. He wanted to run but there was no where to go and he was just too tired to move anyway.
The Doctor moved a few dials on the device before studying the results. "Yes, this is one of the individuals who was traveling through the energy tunnel we bumped earlier." He took a few steps toward were Leela and his scanning device had pointed out the man to be located at. Then caution came in to play. Better to send a few words of greeting into the dark then rush blindly into the unknown. Putting on one of his cheerier smiles he called out into the darker shadows. "I say, hello there. We mean you no harm. Come out of the dark and talk to us."
"Are you hurt?" inquired the Doctor.
"Yes!" came the blunt reply.
The Doctor was surprised at the myriad of emotions that had been expressed by the individual still hidden in the shadows. With just that one word he could hear the exhaustion, pain, frustration and fear that was overwhelming him. As the Doctor stood there guilt came upon him but was quickly chased away by his sense of duty.
Leela was only half-surprised when she noticed the Doctor suddenly walking into the darker part of the alley. "Doctor! He could be dangerous!"
"I'll find out then, won't I," replied the Doctor as he continued walking.
As his eyes adjusted to the dark he could make out in more detail the condition of the man that propped up sitting on the far wall. It didn't look good. "Leela, I'm going to need a hand here."
Rembrandt looked up at the curiously dressed man. "Who are you?"
"I'm the Doctor."
Confused, Rembrandt asked, "Who?"
"Exactly. I'm the man who's vehicle you and your three friend ran into with that energy tunnel."
"What?" Rembrandt just seemed to be getting more lost the more the man talked but he needed to know what was going on so he tried to pursue the matter. "You hit the vortex?"
"No," denied the Doctor as he examined Rembrandt for injuries. "Your 'vortex' ran into my TARDIS!"
"Sorry to interrupt the beginnings of a good squabble," interposed Leela, "but where are your three companions?"
The man sighed and a sadness moved across his eyes. "They were taken."
Somewhere else someone watches. "This is amusing so far," he spoke to himself. He often spoke to himself. Others of his kind believed it was because he liked the sound of his own voice. They are probably right. "But let's see what happens when I do this!"
Elsewhere a sub-space message is received through deep space after being misdirected. It was a one-way message mainly due to the fact that the distance between where it was being sent and where it was to be received were to great for two-way communication. That and it was cheaper. So the fact that the message was misdirected was never known until later. And then it was too late.
A Ferengi face appears on a screen and immediately began talking. "Oblix. This is Shmun." The Ferengi smiled largely and continued. "Remember all that latinum we made on those Brean sprockets? Well, we have an even better opportunity here." The Ferengi stopped smiling a got down to business. "In order for this to work we need you to round up some things. First, we need someone with medical knowledge of Hew-mons. Specifically, someone who can deal with head trauma and be able to download memory from a damaged brain. Next we'll need some eggheads to look at a device I've got here. Someone who can grasp concepts of parallel worlds and temporal energies and similar mumbo-jumbo. Don't mess this up, Oblix. Opportunities like this will never come again." A glaze came over his eyes as his imagination began to take in the possibilities. "It could provide us with the ability to become traders of the most exotic merchandise ever whether it be grains, animals, or technology. If this works out we will be the richest beings in the galaxy" The glaze disappeared as he refocused himself. "So in other words, don't mess this up! Shmun out."
The ship that had received Shmun's message analyzed the message and the direction from which the message had come. Within a minute the ship changed direction and began an intercept course.
"What is this place," asked Rembrandt looking around the console room.
"This is the TARDIS," replied the Doctor. "The console room to be specific."
"Here it is, Doctor." Leela came in carrying the medical supply box.
"What's a tardis?"
"The Doctor grunted. "TARDIS. Pronounce it right or it may take offense." Pulling out a few things from the medical supplies he waved them around Rembrandt's body wildly as he took readings much to Rembrandt's dismay. "The name TARDIS is actually an acronym. It stands for 'Time And Relative Dimensions In Space'. It's really rather useful."
As he looked at every thing around him his mind just couldn't take it all in. "All this is inside an antique British police box?"
"No," answered the Doctor as studied a few of his devices.
"So it's all just a trick or illusion."
The Doctor looked up offended. "No. The TARDIS is actually a … I guess you could call it a dimensional cubby hole that can be used to store things while also providing transport through time and space."
"So you travel around to other worlds in style and comfort in this TARDIS while my friends and I slide inside a whirlpool of energy?"
"Yes, that's about right."
"I think you got the better deal." The doctor grunted in agreement as he fished around inside the medical box again. "Must be nice traveling in this, though."
"Oh, it has its moments."
"I'll bet," muttered the injured man. "So what can we do about my friends?"
The Doctor sighed. "K-9, do an analysis of our new friend here and see if you can get a residual energy reading from that energy vortex they were traveling through."
Rembrandt started to jump away as a little robotic dog came wheeling toward him but stopped when the pain from his sudden movement hit him. The little metallic canine stopped two feet from Rembrandt and began moving his satellite dish-like ears in his direction not unlike how the Doctor had originally waved the medical scanners around him. After thirty seconds the dog announced in a electronic synthesized voice, "Done."
"Good boy, K-9. Now coordinate your efforts with the TARDIS to see if you can find a trail of where this man's three traveling companions would be."
"Affirmative, master." The little mechanical dog turned to the console of the TARDIS and began communicating with it.
Rembrandt watched the K-9 unit with fascination noting that the ears were moving again. He was surprised to note the tail was wagging, too. "That's quite a dog you have there."
"K-9? Yes, he is quite remarkable. Once he gets on a trail he will follow it to the end." He looked up at Rembrandt as he finished examining the injured man's legs. "Your friends should be found shortly then we can return you home."
"That home part sounds real nice but I'll believe it when I see it." His voice hinted at his longing for home but he still managed a smile.
"Been a long time since you've been home," inquired Leela as she handed him a cup of hot tea.
"Only thing that has kept me going is my three good friends. We started out on this sliding odyssey together."
"Oh my! Let me guess. Once you started traveling to parallel worlds you couldn't find your way back to your own world."
Rembrandt chuckled. "You got it, doc."
The Doctor coughed. "Well, yes. I hate it when happens. Anyway here." He handed Rembrandt two orange pills from the medicine supply kit.
"What are these for?"
"You have a fracture in your left leg. Those pills will solidify it so that it will be better than it was before in less than 24 hours."
"Well, you're the doc, doc." Saying that he put the two pills in his mouth and washed it down with some tea."
The Doctor turned to put away the medical kit while muttering something about Americans.
Gint was not happy. Everyone on the command deck was giddy from trying to imagine the possessions they would buy with the latinum they had not even come close to finding out that they would get yet. Even Shmun seemed to be showing signs of the childish behavior much to Gint's dismay.
Finally the mood of the ship was brought in check by one of the ensigns. "DaiMon, there's a ship on an intercept coarse."
The crew held their breath as they turned to their wheezing DaiMon.
"Hmmph," grunted Shmun. "Well, you all know the Number One Rule of Acquisition, right?"
This time the whole crew, except for a gloomy Gint, recited the rule. "Once you have their money, you never give it back!" With that they prepared the ship for battle. Very few things in the universe can be as fierce as a Ferengi defending his wealth.
Gint snorted. "But we haven't made any profit yet."
Dverl chucked at him. "Gint, you couldn't spot a profitable deal if it came up and introduced itself to you."
In spite of the activity in the command center a few Ferengi couldn't help but openly laugh at the insult. But the DaiMon was not laughing. "Gint! Either make yourself useful or get off my ship."
Gint gritted his teeth. A painful expression for a Ferengi. Then with determination he went over to the ensign who had sighted the intruding ship. "Let's see what we are up against."
The ensign punched a few buttons than gasped at his screen.
"Well. Out with it."
The ensign just continued staring then started trembling
Gint pushed the ensign out of his chair then looked over the visual readouts. Then he too gasped.
"Well," demanded Dverl as he stood next to Shmun.
Gint turned toward them with shock written all over his face. Then he took a breath. Then another. Finally his eyes focused of Dverl. "Dverl, I -I underestimated you. I'm sorry."
Dverl was taken aback. "Gint, what's out there?" His voice was a lot quieter than he had meant it to be.
But Gint wasn't listening to him. He had lowered his eyes to Nix who immediately felt uncomfortable under the stare. "The Sixty-Second Rule."
Gint's stare just kept boring into Nix until he couldn't stand it any longer. "The, uh, the riskier the road, the greater the, uh, profit."
"Exactly," smiled Gint. "And this," he motioned to the sensor screen in font of him, "proves that this could have been a very profitable enterprise, indeed. They must have heard what we had and come for it themselves."
Shmun coughed with a little apprehension. "Gint, put the visual on the main viewer."
"Of course," he said, his smile now resembling one of a young child.
The main viewer centered of a ship fast approaching. A cube-shaped ship.
A voice came over the intercom from the converging vessel. "We are the Borg. We will assimilate your biological and technological-" That was as far as they got into their introduction before the Borg voice was drown out by the screams of the terrified Ferengi.
Somewhere on a nearby asteroid overlooking the encounter between the two ships someone watched rubbing his hands together in glee. "Oh, this should prove to be very entertaining indeed." Saying that he disappeared in a flash of light.
"Course deviation. Quarry has altered it course," barked K-9.
"What? What's going on?" Rembrandt started to sit up in the chair in which he had almost fallen asleep. "Is he- it or whatever it is talking about the others?"
Leela was immediately at his side. "You must rest and heal if you are to be of any help to your friends."
He still tried to rise to his feet even though the pain was telling him not to. "I just want to find out-"
"Sit." Leela gently pushed him back down. "I am from a warrior tribe. We know the need to help our friends and family members." Her face became firm as she looked him in the eyes. "But we also understand the necessity of healing and resting so that we will be able to save our loved ones when such a time arrives."
It was at that point that Rembrandt took a good hard look at Leela. This was not some young woman trying to look good in leather. The knife she wore at her side was not for decoration. This was someone who lived the hard warrior side of life. "All right," he said, "I'll just listen from here."
"Cheerio," said the Doctor as he entered the room. "What's this about a change of course? Did we change course or did they?"
"They have, master."
"Well, where are they headed now?"
"They have turned 180 degrees and are coming right toward us," responded K-9.
"I see. Well that should make things easier." The Doctor paced as he pondered this new turn of events. Leela and Rembrandt sat at the side as spectators awaiting an outcome. "Are they returning to Earth?"
"Insufficient data," came the quick reply.
"Why would they be returning to Earth?" the Doctor inquired of himself.
"Maybe the others took over the ship and are returning for me," exclaimed Rembrandt.
The Doctor stopped. He didn't like being shown up. Especially on his TARDIS. "Not very likely, but possible." He turned to his console and began making adjustments.
Leela walked over to the Doctor. "What are we doing?"
The Doctor turned and smiled. "I thought we would go put Rembrandt's theory to the test."
"How?" was all Rembrandt asked.
"By landing on that ship and asking your friends if they have taken it over," bluntly replied.
K-9 once again interjected his presence. "The approaching vessel is of a different construction than the one we originally began to pursue."
"But my friends are still on it?" asked Rembrandt in desperation.
"Oh my!" said the Doctor as he examined the monitors on his console.
"What is it, Doctor?" asked Leela
The Doctor looked up with his eyes wide. "It's big!"
The Nebula-class Federation starship U.S.S. John Wayne soared peacefully through the dark field of stars. The ship had just gone through a series of much needed refitting and updating back at the space docks orbiting Mars, while much of the crew had been able to take shore leave for a week. Now that it was complete, they were heading out on to bring supplies to a struggling colony near the Federation-Dominion border before joining in the struggle against the Dominion and Cardassians. On board the crew was experiencing another boring time on the night shift. To pass the time two of the crewmembers on duty would usually debate each other for the fun of it while the others either joined in or had quiet conversations of their own..
Commander Hofman sighed and tried to express himself again. "I'm not saying that it's wrong. I'm just saying something doesn't seem fair about it."
"Fair?" chuckled the lieutenant at the comm station. "There's nothing fair or unfair about it. It's all on initiative." The Andorian turned to face the commander sitting in the captain's chair. "A majority of the races that make up the Federation just don't have the desire to take part of what Starfleet is all about. Though quite willing to participate in its results."
"What about you?" pointed the commander. "You've joined Starfleet. From what I've heard very few Andorians are willing to do that."
Alber smiled beamingly. "There's an exception to every rule." Then the lieutenant paused as he scratched one of his antennae on his head. "Besides, as far as my actions or life pursuits are concerned I'm a minority in what I do."
"Yes okay, let's take your race for an example. Why don't more Andorians join Starfleet?"
Alber thought for minute then answered. "No, let's consider why humans feel the need to join Starfleet."
Commander Hofman chuckled. "Turnabout is fair play. Very well, I think it's our need to explore and to have adventure. To seek out the unknown." He saw his blue friend smiling. "Is that what you were looking for?"
"Not exactly, but I can work with that argument." The Andorian steepled his fingers as he contemplated how to address his argument. "I think that you humans have an over-desire to seek out new worlds, people and problems. Much more than the other races in Starfleet. That is because your race has more affinity to that field and more of your kind would naturally seek it out than those of other races. You see Earth has a much larger variety of cultures and races then other worlds. Instead of absorbing these other cultures or eliminating them like my people had done when they were more barbarous, Earth is unique in the fact that humans have learned to accept and appreciate foreign cultures. "
"Um, I hate to bring this up but that often times was not true."
"Nevertheless, over time when your human ancestors left their primitive nature behind and reached for the stars there were still hundreds of various cultures on your planet. Why to this day there are still many different varieties of languages used amongst your species." Alber shook his white-haired head in amazement. "Your peoples ability to live with and accept people of a different culture gives you a huge advantage over non-humans. And thus you have my thesis. Your people are more comfortable in Starfleet."
"I'm not sure I buy into that."
"Ever the optimist," he groaned. "All right let's take a look from a different angle."
"Fine by me," he smiled and leaned back in his chair.
"You know that there is a Ferengi that has joined Starfleet."
"Don't reminded me," groaned the commander.
The commander scowled. He was a quarter Vulcan on his mother's side. Even though he didn't try to control his emotions he was still proud of his heredity. "No, I just know what to expect from Ferengi."
"Ah, but I have met this Ferengi. At first I had the same opinion as you but as I got to know him as an individual I realized that he was different."
"What? He doesn't care about latinum," scoffed the commander.
"Please," the lieutenant tried to sound indignant. "He has not lost his love for profit. But he has chosen another path to get it. In addition, he has discovered the profit of self-respect and honor. He is proud of his Starfleet uniform and the duties he has much more than most Starfleet personnel."
"It could all be a scam to sell us out when something really valuable crosses his way."
One of the Andorian's blue antennae raised itself higher. "Strange. A lot of people said similar things about the first Klingon to join Starfleet."
"That's not the same thing-"
Alber's console beeped. "Always interruptions when things are just getting interesting." The Andorian pushed a few buttons on his console.
"Well?" the commander inquired.
"Something's coming up in front of us fast. I'm not-" He gasped. "By the Maker!"
"What is it?" demanded the commander.
"Borg!" cried the lieutenant.
"Red Alert!" hollered the commander. "Shields now!" He bit his thumb hard. He, like many in Starfleet, had run many simulations in the holodeck relating to Borg attacks. And Commander Hofman, like everyone else, had never won any of them. "I want a visual now!"
The view screen changed to show the stars and space behind the USS John Wayne. And a closing Borg vessel.
"I want photon torpedoes ready to fire as soon as they are in range!"
"Captain Joyner to Commander Hofman. John, what's the situation?" came the captain's voice over the comm. system.
Stunned silence was followed by a quiet reply. "I'll be right there."
Startled members of the bridge who had been either on break or other assignments quickly returned to their stations.
Alber called to his commander, "Sir, they are in range!"
Commander John Hofman gripped the armrest with his left hand solidly while he ran his other hand through his blond hair. "Fire!" he said tensely.
Somewhere else a being laughed at the altercation between the U.S.S. John Wayne and the Borg vessel.
The starship shot off volley after volley of photon torpedoes and sprayed the Borg vessel with its phaser beams. Finally as the Borg ship came close to the Starfleet vessel it lashed out with its our weapons causing the smaller ship to veer to the side with one of it's nacelles hanging off at an angle and depowered and the still powered nacelle causing the nebula class ship to begin to spiral.
Then the Borg vessel past the Federation ship and continued on its course to Earth.
"Ah, amusing yet still unsatisfying." The mischievous being watched the crippled ship as it spiraled in space. "Well, at least it isn't over yet."
Suddenly he turned to confront something where there was nothing. "Oh, what do you want?" As he listened to the nothingness that was around him he began to protest. "But it was all in fun! None of this really matters to us!"
His arguments were ignored and the nothingness took him away.