It was the end, but the moment had been prepared for.
"Was that a Doctor Who reference?" Carter asked.
"Carter, our plan relies on our whimsically underqualified allies to distract a nigh invincible enemy while we monkey with scientifically implausible but impressive-sounding machinery," Searcher said. "I will be making every single Doctor Who reference I can think of."
"Aha!" Quark said. "I see! How clever—you hope to scatter a breadcrumb trail of references in order to lure a Doctor out of his fanfiction to the ship. We'll bribe him to fight for us, and his main character status and the generally hopeful message of his show means this ridiculous plot will actually have a chance of working!"
"What?" the captain said. "No, I just mean that there will be a lot of opportunities for me to make references. I like references."
Quark rolled his eyes. "We're all dead."
"Your confidence is touching," Searcher snapped. "What are you still doing here, anyway? Shouldn't you be off with Parody Worf carrying out your part of the plan?"
"How am I even supposed to know if Parody Worf left?" Quark grumbled. "Maybe the author just forgot he was here!"
The three of them fell silent, waiting for either some badly spelled dialogue or a description of Worf's position in the room, but none came.
What did come, however, was the door chime.
"Hello?" came the honey-sweet voice of Diamond Jade Stark-Rogers. "Did any of you lose a Parody Worf? He stopped by to talk to us at the bridge, and he was just soooo grumbly at first, but we fixed him some prune juice and he perked right up and told us all about your plot to overthrow us!"
"Dammit, I knew this whole thing was going to fall apart!" said Daystar. "I never should have articulated my plan! Plans only work when the audience doesn't know each step!"
"Oh no!" Carter said! "The exclamation points! The infestation is growing at an exponential rate, feeding off the inherent drama of the situation!"
"I'm going to explode the door now!" Diamond Jade Stark-Rogers announced!
"NOOOOO!" shrieked Quark! "I surrender! I defect! I'll open the door!"
"Quark…how…could you…" Daystar snarled! Oh no! The ellipses as well! "You traitor! They'll never…love you the way…Natima would have...in that fic I was looking for…for you…"
"YKINMK!" chirped Diamond Jade Stark-Rogers through the smoking remains of the door! "And that's okay!" The door had been blown up about two sentences ago, but not described! Everyone belatedly covered their ears and ducked the flying shrapnel!
"Wait…sir…" Carter said. "I think…I have…an idea…"
"Articulated plans…don't work…in well-written stories…because the author knows the audience…wants to be surprised, and be challenged…
"Sir…if you haven't noticed from…the fact that this exposition is taking so long…and stopping the action completely dead…we're not in a well-written story."
"You're right!" Searcher exclaimed, and slapped her comm badge. "Computer! One… to… beam… directly… to… sick bay!"
"Don't you mean the infirmary?" the computer asked!
"No, I mean the sick bay!" Daystar snapped, although not too heatedly, as she was very pleased that she had managed to sneak another Doctor Who reference in!
She disappeared in a blinding beam of light and a poorly described sound effect, and reappeared on the bridge of (Other Ship's Name). "What the—this isn't the sick bay!"
"Beckett intercepted your transporter beam," Captain Mynonys informed her. "He assured me that the operating procedures of one ship are largely the same as any other, even if one is made of wood and sails through water, and the other is made of textual duranium and sails through a metafictional representation of space."
"But why?" asked Daystar Searcher. She noticed suddenly that the incidence of exclamation points and ellipses had gone down. Perhaps the infestation was confined to her ship. Or perhaps the author had gotten tired of typing them. "And how did you escape the Songfic Expanse?"
"We beamed aboard a Mary Sue and forced her to help us escape."
"But how did you keep her from taking over."
"It wasn't easy." Mynonys' lips thinned, and she stared off into the distance, her eyes taking on a glimmer of regret. "Sacrifices had to be made."
Searcher took a look around the bridge, and noticed a conspicuous absence. "Grima…?"
Mynonys discreetly wiped her eyes. "It was the only way we could lure her into the shuttlecraft."
Daystar cast about for something comforting to say. "Well, I'm sure they'll be very happy together in their relatively harmless but still annoying self-insert fantasy."
"I appreciate that," said Mynonys. "But enough about my problems! Before we caught up with you, I made sure to locate a weapon that could get rid of your Mary Sue infestation."
"You brought me a Deus Ex Machina?"
"Strong, complex, multifaceted and believably human female characters?"
"You probably shouldn't get your hopes up that much."
"Not…you didn't—you know I don't approve of Flame Cannons—"
"What? Oh no, no, nothing like that." Mynonys dug in her pockets and pulled out a small pocket. "Here. Open it."
Daystar opened it, expending words to unnecessarily describe an act that the readers probably would have easily inferred had it been left unsaid. She gasped. "Is this what I think it is?"
"Oh my god…it's so…"
"I know, right?"
"Why can't I describe it?"
"I took the liberty of confiscating all of its descriptive adjectives, in order to artificially heighten the tension as we engage in vague but excited-sounding dialogue."
"You're a genius."
At that moment, the (Name of Ship) began hailing them, but it was already too late for her foes; Captain Daystar Searcher took the Hastily Tacked On Ending from the box and threw it into the air. The Mary Sues vanished, Searcher was back on her ship, and everything was restored to its condition at the beginning of this tale, almost as if the Hastily Tacked On Ending had in fact been a Reset Button, but the author hadn't remembered the term for that trope until she had already typed 'Hastily Tacked on Ending.'
And they all lived happily ever after.
"The readers are going to kill me for that, aren't they?" Daystar said.
"Yeah, that'll be a loss," House snapped.
"You'll just have to keep one step ahead of the reviewers," Mynonys said over the comm.
"Captain, reviewers are appearing on long-range scanners!" Carter reported. "They're arming weapons!"
"All right," Searcher said. "Carter, set a course. First stop: everywhere."
And she grinned, pleased that she had managed to follow the Rule of Three with her Doctor Who references.
Everyone else groaned, and told her Star Trek would have been more appropriate.