Infinity 7 Mandatory Boring Disclaimer: It is with great sadness that I admit the characters within these pages are not my own. Captain Bridger, Kristin, Lucas, Ben, Katie, Tim (and all the others we love from the seaQuest crew) belong to Amblin Entertainment and its cohorts in crime in Hollywood. Janeway, Chakotay, Paris, Torres, and Kim (et al.) belong to Paramount and its cohorts in crime in Hollywood. Of course, Sisko, Nerys, Dax, Bashir, O'Brien, and Garak (et al.) belong to Paramount, too. Though I don't own these characters, I take full responsibility for having the insanity to bring all these stories together. I can assure you, Hollywood wouldn't even think of it . . . :)

Alternative Universe: Well, folks, because I'm insane enough to combine seaQuest, Voyager, and DS9 all together into one plot, there are some obvious changes! You'll notice the "obvious changes" quickly, I think.

Rating: Consider this PG, simply for safety's sake. There is some violence involved and some rather difficult topics at the beginning of the story (much like the stories "Away from Monsters" and "Monsters Return" in my seaQuest universe), but things quickly change in tone from there. Mild language warning, too.

Archiving: Just ask first. I'll probably say yes. :)

Cautionary Advice: (Clearing throat) Be prepared for a hefty dose of "suspension of disbelief." There is a degree of the intentionally ludicrous here. :) But remember . . . I warned you!

Length Advisory: Be prepared for a long haul! Currently, I haven't even set a cap on the number of parts involved . . .

Summary: seaQuest, plus Deep Space Nine, plus Voyager equals . . . lots of fun! Here's the short synopsis: Captain Bridger commands a starship, the Voyager both reaches earth and doesn't, and the Defiant gets sucked into yet another wormhole! Hmmm . . . crazy, isn't it? Well, of course it is . . . this is Sheri writing! :)

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away (snicker, snicker) . . .

LUCAS: (still sprawled comfortably on a chair eating candy, but now he has a script in hand. He reads the script with disbelief) How could she? "A gray claw reached out" . . . this is just too much! "A gray claw!" Who ever heard of a gray-skinned alien?

KRIEG: (highly crinkled copy of Sea Babes spread out in front of him. His mind is elsewhere) What . . . what'd ya' say, kid? (Slight pause as Lucas scowls at him. Krieg tries to bring his mind out of the perpetual gutter it resides in) Oh, of course . . .well, at least it's not chartreuse. (Ponders this a moment, actually looking away from the centerfold of Sea Babes for an entire minute. Lucas imagines this is a date worthy of recording in the Guinness Book of World Records) I guess, really, they couldn't use chartreuse. They've already got NEELIX. (LUCAS and KRIEG both shudder)

LUCAS: (still thinking about his alien-abductors-to-be) And "claws"? Aliens don't have claws! They have . . . tentacles. Long, slimy, oozing green tentacles . . .

KRIEG: (shakes head, attention again glued to the centerfold) You've just been watching too much of that Sci-Fi Channel lately. I told you that was a bad habit. I mean, look at that one show . . . Farscape, I think it is: the "alien's" blue paint-skin wipes right off!

LUCAS: (sighs, disgruntled) Yeah, well . . . there's that Babylon 5 show that SHERI likes. I tell you, KRIEG (looks pointedly at author), you want to talk aliens, look at the pointy heads on half the space station!

KRIEG: (snorts) They have a good plot, though. No claws reaching out of walls. (He looks my way now, obviously inferring that this story has no plot)

LUCAS: (suddenly nervous) Hey, SHERI, you never did answer my question about the aliens . . . are they very hungry . . .?

SHERI: (pleading the Fifth, doing her very best to look like a lawyer) No comment.

And now, we return to our bizarre story . . .

Infinity: A Crossover

Part Seven

Close Encounters of the Alien Kind

In a sort of horrified petrifaction, Lucas watched as the seemingly hard surface of the rock slowly dissolved, falling into pieces on the cave floor. Orange light splayed out around the claws, an eerie, sickening glow that lit the stone and pushed back the darkness. The cave rock burned, steaming. In a matter of split seconds, the wall creaked, grinding, crackling, as if an earthquake shook the ground. Dirt drifted into the air in plumes, smothering the feeble light cast by the claws. Liquid rock seeped across the ground, hissing, coiling. Then, suddenly, bright white light exploded from the cave wall, flashing across the once-dark cave, blazing through the darkness.

Lucas simply continued to stare, unable to move. This could not be real . . . could not be . . . could not be real . . .

And then . . . reality simply collapsed. Claws scraped across his wrists, opening a wound beside his vein, then tugged him towards the wall. His wrist burnt with agonizing pain. Something seethed within his veins, ripping his cells apart: an acid to his human flesh. He screamed inwardly as the most brutal pain he had ever known to exist pulsed through his body. It exploded in his mind, in his skull, in his bones, in his flesh, in his very spirit. Something shattered, tore open, bled deeply within: a gash widening into a chasm. He reeled, throbbing with endless, inconceivable pain.

Heat like fire continued to burn through his blood. He could feel his blood disintegrate against the heat. He was dissolving into the wall, becoming part of it . . . the coolness, the utter coolness . . . earth surrounding him, eating him up . . . entombing him.

The pain turned into blackness. He grasped helplessly for reality, searching for himself, his identity, in the blackness around him. Where am I? His mind cried, staring into an abyss unfathomable, unknowable. He thought dirt surrounded him, but he couldn't . . . couldn't . . .

Lucas's mind wavered helplessly, questions tormenting him: Who? Who am I? The abyss deepened. Black warmth embraced him, beckoned him. So smooth, so gentle. Pain? No pain. The black wavered, calling . . . but his better sense hovered near, whispering he must not fall into the blissful coolness of oblivion . . .

Yut there was softness . . . peace . . . no pain no pain no pain no need no anything all gone gone an end an end . . .

Fear. Sudden, abrupt fear. It gripped him, yanked him away from the blackness, shattering the peace flowing through him.

Who am I? I? What--I? No I, no, no I . . .

The reeling slowed, almost stopped.

. . . Wait! . . .

Out of blackness, he seemed to remember--a ship. Someone he had just met recently. Someone named Neb. No, that wasn't right. Ebn? No . . . He couldn't remember. His mind rotated, grasping for what was his life. It had been there, once: he had been a person, someone, somewhere.

Oh stop--pain, stop, stop!

The abyss retreated a breadth.

Slowly, with effort, he shook his head, trying to bring some flow of being back to his thoughts. Warped. Everything was distorted. Twisted. Unreal.

Awareness slowly awakened his outer senses. Something was missing. Something. He looked, wondered. Yes--something. Something to do with rocks. With walls. And someone else: Neb, Ebn . . . No, Ben. That was right: Ben. He wrapped his mind around the name, then stopped, confused.

Where was Ben?

Strange noises: howls, moans. A bizarre gibbering near his ears, one that made him wince. He felt something sharp poke his side, then again and again. Angrily, he reached to swat the offender aside, but found he couldn't move his arms.

Then he wasn't thinking at all as the pain returned full force.

The pain, God, the pain . . . He shut his mind against it, drifting back into obliteration, nothingness. The darkness was so cool so comforting so . . .

Vaguely, he felt a tug at his body, ever so slight; sluggishly, his mind awakened. A light hesitantly shimmered around him . . . moved, as if not entirely focused. But the light soon dissolved and faded, receding beyond his reach.

Lucas shut his eyes in despair, realizing finally what that light had been: a failed transporter beam.

Pure black encircled him. At last, he fell unconscious into its embrace.