Star Trek ® and Star Trek: The Next Generation ® are registered trademarks of Paramount Pictures. Star Wars ® is a registered trademark of Lucasfilm, Ltd. The following document is intended as a work of parody. Copyright © 1996-2007 Joshua Bell. All rights reserved. The following work may not be copied, reproduced, or distributed in any form, printed or electronic, without express permission of the author, except for personal use.
Riker sat back in the ready room chair, and gazed at the terminal perched on the desk before him, wondering if it was the first and last log entry he would make as captain of the Enterprise. The Borg had Picard. Picard was a Borg. Now they knew every secret, every tactic, every plan that had been put forth. Realizing that he was captain, he had almost ordered Lt. Commander Shelby's proposed tactical patterns readied for use, until he realized that Picard had seen those as well. He felt useless, even with the Federation's flagship at his command.
The door chirped, and he said: "Come."
Guinan stood in the doorway as the whoosh sounded. He blinked in surprise. "Guinan. What brings you to the bridge?"
Guinan paused thoughtfully before she spoke. "Commander... sorry, Captain... something is not right here."
Riker grimaced. "We're helpless in space, while the Borg are headed towards Earth. The Federation's most powerful starship couldn't stop them... and Captain Picard has been taken from us." His eyes were almost angry now. "Is any of that supposed to be right?"
Guinan looked down calmly. "How much has Picard told you about me?"
Riker's brows narrowed. "I'm not sure what you mean. Picard always respects... respected your opinions, and trusted you completely. I didn't know there was anything more."
Guinan still did not meet his eyes. "When I was younger, I had an... experience. One that changed me... I am aware of changes to the flow of time; as if part of me is outside of it, looking in." She looked up, with a timid look upon her face. "Something is altering time. Right here, right now."
A look of confusion swept past Riker's features. "You mean that what is happening now, everything with the Borg, isn't supposed to happen?"
Guinan shook her head. "It's more immediate than that. Within the last hour. Something has... changed the way things are supposed to happen."
Riker asked, "Do you have any idea what?"
Guinan paused, and half turned her head as if looking at something over her shoulder. "I... no."
"Guinan, anything at all?"
"Just a funny feeling. It smells like Q."
Riker, incredulous, stood up. "Q? Here?"
There was a flash of light near the couch to one side of the room, and when it faded, Q was sitting there wearing an Starfleet Ensign's uniform. He jumped to his feet and solemnly said, "Reporting for duty as ordered, sir." Then he grinned devilishly.
While Guinan rolled her eyes, Riker glared at the omnipotent entity. "Q, what the hell are you doing here?"
Q's grin faded to a smirk. "Come come, number one. Is that any way to greet an old friend? Think of the times we've spent gallivanting around the galaxy together. Why, I'd expect you to greet me with a handshake, thump on the back, and a rousing 'good to see you, chum!'." He turned to look Guinan over. "Still carrying the barmaid? One day, Riker, I'll have to show you some real drinks."
Guinan merely adjusted her hat.
Riker said, "Q, if you're responsible for the Borg being here, the deaths, and what's happened to Picard..."
Q's eyes opened wide. "Moi? No, no, the Borg are here for real, I'm afraid. Needn't worry. You'll come out all right, and even get your precious captain back. Well, maybe."
Q chuckled. "Your barkeep knows what I mean."
Prompted, Guinan supplied, "He's decided what's supposed to happen isn't as... amusing as he'd like, so he's going to make our lives interesting."
Riker looked back and forth. "Interesting? Q, I think I'm beginning to realize why Picard dislikes you so. You're a wild-card."
Q grinned. "A better compliment I have not heard in a century, number one." Then he scowled. "Where would you be without me? Stagnant, that's what. You'd sit back and let the universe come to you, you'd welcome them with your open arms and make everyone deleriously happy and bored to death. What sort of future is that for your human race?"
Guinan interjected, "If it's the future they choose..."
Q ignored her. "I'm going to make this battle coming up a little more exciting for you, raise the stakes."
"Just get to the point, Q." Riker's blood pressure was rising audibly.
Q sighed. "Patience, patience, as I often tell your captain. Very well. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a great adventure took place. It was a dark time... an Evil Galactic Empire was ruling and not being very nice about it. The good guys, called the Rebels, were fighting a losing battle. Eventually, it came down to one decisive blow; if the Rebel Fleet could overcome the superior forces of the Empire, and win just one battle, the Empire would crumble and the galaxy would be united in peace. Your typical morality tale."
Riker glanced at Guinan, who spread her hands in acceptance.
Q continued: "Well, they won. And there was much rejoicing. A New Republic was formed, and for centuries afterwards there was peace. Entirely too tidy." Q smiled slyly, "I've decided to make life interesting. Your precious Enterprise, and the fleet forming around that little dwarf star, are going to be sent back to fight in the Rebels' place. In turn, the Rebels are going to come here and fight the Borg." Q's expression was that of the cat who's caught the canary.
"Q, let's make it interesting," Guinan suggested. "If they both win, you put them back where they belong and let them live out history the way it is supposed to turn out."
Q smirked. "You have such faith in these fragile creatures. Yes, yes, very well. You'll be fighting for truth, justice, and to ensure that this silly woman doesn't have headaches for the rest of time."
Riker glared at Q. "And what if we refuse to fight?"
Q laughed. "You die, of course. Oh, the Empire isn't going to waste time figuring out what has happened. And the Borg, with Locutus in the lead, don't care what kind of ship they're assimilating." Q no longer looked like a schoolboy, but with an evil smile said, "You're in this for survival, Riker. This is my form of selection."
With another flash of light, Q was gone. Riker looked at Guinan. "Should I believe him?"
Guinan raised an eyebrow. "How would he profit from a lie?"
Riker's scowl returned, but he said nothing. Then the intercom chime sounded. "Captain to the bridge," came Worf's steady tone. Riker took a deep breath, and nodded to Guinan. "Thank you... would you like to...?"
Guinan waved her hands. "I'll be in Ten Forward. You'll be too busy up here, I'd just get in the way."
Riker nodded, and preceded her out the door onto the bridge.
"Captain on the bridge!" Shelby's tone was still shrill to Riker's ears. Her brilliant blue eyes were locked on his face as she stood up from the command chair, and for a fleeting moment he wished they had met under other circumstances. He knew her stare was one of impatience now, certainly nothing he'd be attracted to.
Riker first watched Guinan step into the turbolift, then turned to Shelby. He decided to say nothing about the altercation with Q until he had assessed the situation a little further. "Status?"
Shelby said, "Sir, Lieutenant Worf was monitoring subspace emissions from the Borg vessel headed for Sector 001, on Commander Data's recommendation, when he picked up some strange energy readings coming from the vicinity of Wolf 359."
Riker looked up to tactical, where Worf stood stiffly. "Mister Worf?"
"Sir, the readings do not match anything we have on record." Worf sounded defensive, as if the unexpected readings were his own failure.
Riker asked, "Is it Hanson's fleet engaging the Borg ship?"
"No, sir. The Borg ship is still several hours from Wolf 359." A chime sounded on the console before the Klingon. He glanced down, and then looked up at Riker. "Sir, we've lost contact with the Melbourne. Now the Buran...," his eyes widened. "Captain, we are no longer receiving signals from any ships in the fleet!"
Riker let out a breath. "And we'll be next."
Shelby blinked in confusion. "Sir?"
Data, listening quietly until this point, spoke up. "Captain, sensors are reading a sudden energy build up in subspace around the ship. The effect does not correspond to any known phenomena... although the readings do resemble those reported by Lt. Worf."
Riker didn't wait any longer. "All hands..." Suddenly, he realized he had no idea what to tell the crew. "Brace for impact." He paused for a moment, then shrugged helplessly. The bridge crew was looking at him.
"I just had a visit from Q."
A brief look of comprehension passed over the face of his comrades. It was quickly followed by a sudden doubling of the tension on the bridge. He gestured for Shelby to sit to one side, and took the command chair.
Data said, "The energy build up is still increasing, sir." Then he turned to look back at Riker. "This is not consistent with any of our previous encounters with Q."
"Would you mind telling us what the hell is going on?" Shelby added, "Sir?"
Riker tried to collect his thoughts. "Q has decided that our encounter with the Borg was not... will not be as exciting as he'd like to see. He's sending us to fight someone else's battle. One that will be more of a challenge."
Shelby's eyes were open wide. "More of a challenge than the Borg?"
Riker nodded. "If it's any consolation, I believe Q said we'd defeat the Borg."
"The energy effect is becoming visible, Captain." Data continued his updates.
The forward viewing screen snapped to a star-field, a view from forward sensors. The stars, however, were not stationary, but starting to blur into short lines.
"Are we entering warp?" Riker asked.
Data's head twitched. "No sir. This effect is not consistent with our knowledge of warp technology."
Suddenly the stars streaked into lines - but not the normal Warp star-field. All of the visible stars streaked into lines, lighting up space around the starship. The effect dissolved into a swirling blue channel around the Enterprise, which rocked lightly as it was flung into Hyperspace.
"Yes, young Skywalker, I know of your plans. It was I who gave the Rebels the location of the shield generator. A squadron of my best troops are waiting for your friends." Palpatine's wrinkled features contorted into a sarcastic grin, "I am afraid the shield will be very much in place when your precious fleet arrives. We are quite safe here."
Luke could not sense a lie behind the Emperor's words. He glanced down at his lightsabre, resting by Palpatine's hand. His eyes moved up to the ebony black mask of his father... Vader. The wheezing breath sounded calm; the Dark Lord felt his master's triumph. Luke clenched his teeth, feeling the frustration, the... the...
"Yes, let your anger out. Your lightsabre. Take it. Strike me down! Then you will complete your journey to the Dark Side."
Luke turned to the window, and watched as the Rebel Fleet dropped out of Hyperspace. But something was wrong. The Mon Calamari cruisers were absent. He didn't recognize any of the transports. And where were the starfighters?
The Emperor sensed the confusion in his young foe, and rotated his chair. "Speak, young Skywalker. Your words cannot betray you more than your feelings."
"That isn't the Rebel Fleet," said Luke. He searched out with his mind, but could not sense his companions in the fleet, aboard any of the starships continuing to enter the system.
Palpatine glanced out the window. "So... your friends did not trust you with their plans? New allies... no matter. Our fleet will still crush them." His chuckle set Luke's nerves further on edge. What was going on?
"Captain Storel to Admiral Hanson. Our sensors are reading a massive fleet behind that forest moon. A shield is being projected by some form of generator on the surface, around the space station. Jamming is being attempted, but it is not effective. Storel out."
The Vulcan captain of the Saratoga stood up from the command chair and stepped towards the Bolian at tactical. Sisko, at the conn, swung his console around, and tapped lights on the display. "Sir, all ships in the fleet are accounted for." Once the first few ships had cleared the energy effect, Hanson had ordered the armada to take up a defensive posture. The science vessels, with the most accurate sensors, had been ordered to survey the surrounding space in order to determine what the situation was.
The Bolian was talking now. "The fleet isn't showing any traces that indicate Borg activity. And a fleet isn't their style."
"It is logical to conclude, therefore, that the Borg are not responsible." Storel turned to Sisko, "Continue monitoring the other fleet. Report on any activities detected."
The intercom sounded. "Astronavigation to the Bridge. We've concluded this is not our galaxy."
All of the bridge officers glanced towards their captain, who replied, "What about intergalactic pulsar tracking, or quasar positioning?"
Again, from the intercom: "We've tried, sir. We have a partial match on three quasars, but it's tenuous at best. It would put our position roughly half a billion light years from the Milky Way... and sir, it would indicate we've traveled back in time roughly one billion years."
Sisko spoke. "Why would anyone with that much power bother sending us into a hostile situation? What need would they have of starships at all?"
Storel answered. "We have insufficient data to draw any conclusions at this time, therefore any speculation would be moot."
"Why do they not attack?" Palpatine looked anxious for the first time. "Their sensors cannot be able to operate at that range." Luke stayed silent. He could sense confusion aboard the starships clustered in the space beyond.
"Your new allies must have some plan. It matters not. If they do not advance, our fleet will capture them regardless. It is only a matter of time, young Skywalker, before your friends, and the Rebellion, are crushed."
"Sir! It is the Enterprise!" Hanson's tactical officer couldn't restrain herself. This might be the Melbourne, command ship of Starfleet's defense armada, but the Enterprise was still the flagship of the fleet.
Hanson said, "Open a channel, Lieutenant. Enterprise, this is Admiral Hanson. Will, are you there?"
The view screen flicked from an enhanced view of a spindly, moon-sized sphere of metal to the familiar bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Hanson quickly scanned over the crew; his prize, Lt. Commander Shelby sat at the First Officer's console. The android Data was at Ops, while the Klingon Worf was at Tactical. All good choices, well done Will, he thought. Ensign Crusher sat at the Conn, and the Betazoid empath was there as well... perhaps not the best of choices, but every Captain has his reasons.
On screen, Riker stood up from the command chair. "Sir, what is the situation here?"
"I was hoping you could tell us, Will," Hanson started. "We're holding a defensive posture... there's a fleet of some sort behind that moon, apparently trying to hide from our sensors. That small moon ahead of us is a space station, under construction from what our sensors tell us. No sign of the Borg at all."
Riker nodded. "Sir, is this channel secure?"
Hanson paused, then gave his communications officer a quick hand signal. "It is now. What do you know that you can't tell the fleet?"
"I know what has happened to us, sir. Q appeared on our ship, just before we were drawn into that energy effect. He's sent us to fight someone else's battle. The fleet must be the Empire he spoke of... evidently they're a brutal oppressor of their people. We're taking the place of a group called "the Rebels", and we must win this battle, or Q will abandon us here."
Hanson nodded thoughtfully. "What are your impressions of Q's statements? Could this be a trick within a trick?"
Riker said, "Our... a member of our crew who has had past dealings with Q suggests we take him at his word."
"Agreed... but lets see what we're up against. Helm, set a course for that station. Lets make a diplomatic overture first. Hail them in all languages on all frequencies. We'll need the universal translators online. Will, I'm placing you in charge of the fleet - hold positions here, and wait for further orders."
"Understood, sir. Riker out."
The screen flickered back to the station, in orbit about the forested moon. Slowly, the apparent size of the construct grew, and the Melbourne's crew began to grasp the immensity of it.
"Any communication?" asked Hanson.
"Negative, sir." Replied the officer at tactical. "We are being received, but they're ignoring us."
Luke watched the sleek looking vessel draw near the Death Star. Its construction baffled him; a wide disk, with a long, ovoid body beneath and two oblong cylinders projecting behind. On the front of the ovoid, a glowing blue circle lit up the underside of the disk.
A comlink sounded from the Emperor's arm rest. "Your excellency, they are transmitting some sort of signal. Our protocol droids interpret it as some form of greeting, and a request for dialog."
Palpatine stroked his fingertips together, then turned and looked up at the Dark Lord standing over him. "Vader... what are your thoughts?"
"It must be a rebel trick. They have learned of our fleet, and are trying to catch us with our guard down."
"Must it be, friend? Yet I fail to see another choice. The Rebel scum would not sacrifice their own down on the planet for nothing." He broke into a horrible smile. "Were it not for that, I might have reacted otherwise. Tactical officer, call in the fleet. And ready the main gun."
Luke turned in horror to the Emperor.
"Yes, Skywalker. Your friends face not only the shields, but a fully armed and operational battle station!"
Luke, glanced back at the strange ship, drawing ever closer. Then he turned to the Emperor and spoke. "This isn't a Rebel trick... I don't know what it is. I believe those in that fleet out there are innocent."
Yellow eyes met his. "No-one is innocent in times of war!" He pressed the comlink button. "Fire at will." Then he sank back into his chair, and turned to watch the approaching battle.
"Enterprise, this is science vessel U.S.S. Saratoga. The fleet behind the moon is moving towards us. We also have numerous smaller readings preceding them, perhaps shuttles." Storel spoke in a clipped voice, watching readings being recorded over Sisko's shoulder.
"We read you Saratoga. Keep us updated. Riker out."
A chime rang out at tactical, and the Bolian shouted, "Energy build up in the station... in the crater on the northern hemisphere."
"On screen!" And with the order, a magnification of the station, now with U.S.S. Melbourne in the foreground, snapped into place.
As they and the rest of the fleet watched, six plasma-green beams erupted from the periphery of the station's crater, and focused on a single point. Then a larger beam spat from the center of the crater, paused at the focus point, then leapt towards the Melbourne. For a fraction of a second the shields of the starship were visible, glowing a sickly yellow, then they overloaded and the beam ran across the hull of the ship. The Melbourne exploded in a tremendous flash as the antimatter containment fields collapsed.
The passing shock-waves made the fleet's sensors fail for a brief moment, and lit up the defense screen protecting the station, a sphere with a tail spiraling down to a point on the planet's surface.
Sisko's voice was quiet. "My god."
A rumbling shook the generator station on the planet, as a power surge went through the shields. Solo was nearly knocked off his feet, which would have been unfortunate as the thermite detonator he was holding wouldn't take well too being dropped. When he was steadied he put it down on the console, activated the magnetic lock on its base, and straightened. "Everyone safe?"
A wookie bark answered him, and he surveyed the Rebels in the room. Half were placing the detonators, the other half were holding blasters to the imperial troops they held captive. "Leia, see if you can find out what that was. Chewie, check the explosives."
Leia bent over a console, and flicked a switch. "Han, there was an antimatter explosion against the shields!"
Chewbacca turned and let loose a long growl. Solo and the others, including most of the Imperials, looked incredulously at Leia. "Antimatter? Who's carrying antimatter?"
"Don't look at me," was the princess' answer. "None of our ships do. The planet's atmosphere absorbed the radiation... we're safe."
Solo reached over and knocked the butt of his blaster against an Imperial technician's helmet. "Any of your ships transportin' that stuff?"
The nervous young man looked up at Solo. "N-no, sir."
Han smirked. "Well, someone is. C'mon, lets finish setting these and blow this place."
"Sir, I'm getting some strange readings on the planet... the shield generator... there's some activity there." Crusher was standing over one of the science stations, while Data sat next to him, fingers flying over the console. "I'm reading explosives... and a number of troops converging from all sides."
Riker thought for a moment. "The explosives must be to take out the shields, and the troops would be the defense forces trying to stop whoever planted them."
Worf voiced his opinion. "The battle-station's firepower is too much for our defenses. We must drop their shields, or we will have no avenue for attack."
Crusher said, "Their shields don't seem to block transporter frequencies... we should be able to beam something down."
Riker nodded. "Worf, prepare a security team to beam down and assist whoever's trying to take out the generator. But not until we've attempted to get out of this peacefully."
"Sir, we have locked on to a number of transmissions by the battle-station's forces," Data was now scanning a rectangle of scrolling numbers. "Heavily encoded," he turned and met Riker's eyes. "There are also lower energy transmissions, from a small cluster of areas around the generator. Perhaps the Rebel forces?"
"Try to make contact if you can, Data. Mister Worf, open a channel to the Kyushu. This is Enterprise, Kyushu, what are your sensors telling you?"
The view screen flicked to the mayhem on the bridge of the Nebula-class Kyushu. The captain looked up from the tactical console. "At least twenty cruisers, sir... each about four kilometers long. Heavy armaments, strong shields... one larger carrier. At least ten kilometers long."
Riker paled. "Maneuvering abilities?"
The Kyushu's tactical officer spoke. "They're not using Impulse, that's for certain. Not anything we recognize... definitely non-Newtonian. They're much too fast for their energy outputs, sir."
A second signal interrupted the conversation, and the bridge of the Saratoga appeared. "Storel here, Captain. The smaller craft are approaching at high speed. They will intersect our periphery in 53 seconds. Readings show them as fighters. Light weapons only, no shielding."
Behind him, the Saratoga's bridge turned blood-red as a red alert klaxon sounded. Riker watched as Storel turned and gave orders to his crew. "Shields up, ready phasers, load all torpedoes. Set course 236 by 159."
Outside the ship, two squadrons of TIEs dove for the Saratoga. Each had two TIE fighters and two of the newer Interceptors, and they flew in a diamond formation. On the Saratoga's bridge, a sudden screeching, roaring sound whistled in the air. "What the hell is that?", asked Sisko, loud enough to be heard over the communication line to the Enterprise.
On the Enterprise's bridge, Worf chuckled to himself, then stopped as Riker turned to him. "An old Romulan tactic, sir. The engines of the fighters generate interference in the audible range in an enemy ship's atmosphere."
"A terror weapon like the Stukka bombers during World War Two on Earth." Riker turned back to the screen. "Exterior view of the Saratoga?"
One snapped on screen, and blinked forward with magnification. The first wave of four TIEs banked close to the ship's saucer, and began spitting brilliant beams of green energy at the vessel. The first few glanced off harmlessly. "Looks like we've got the upper hand in shields," said Riker to himself.
Then the Interceptors roared past, and the green bolts were no longer stopped by the shields, cutting blackened gouges in the hull. Then the Saratoga started to fire - the agile Miranda-class vessel now looking like a beached whale as it tried to bring its weapons to bear. The older phaser emitters could not track the small, fast-moving craft that threatened it.
Shelby offered, "They're much too fast to target with torpedoes."
A hand sign from Riker opened a wide-band channel. "Buran, Ahwannee, move to defend Saratoga." His eyes were riveted to the surreal drama unfolding on the screen.
The TIEs easily evaded the phaser blasts from the Saratoga, and danced around it at close range, picking off vulnerable spots on the hull. Saratoga's captain came on over a voice channel, blanketed in bursts of static. "Their blasts are a form of .... plasma, contained in some .... of magnetic ..... Our ..... not stopping them. Communication ...."
On the screen, the Challenger-class Buran and the Cheyenne-class Ahwannee, a new design just off the drawing board sporting four warp nacelles, drew in close to the Saratoga, but with enough distance to target the agile craft threatening their sister ship. Saratoga was now visibly wounded, the plasma bolts burrowing deep into her hull, leaving vicious scars on the surface. Buran's more accurate phaser fired, the shots missing the nimble TIEs. Finally, coordinated fire from both the Buran and Ahwannee detonated three of the TIEs in an explosive flash. Two of the fighters then turned and dove, one impacting against the bridge of the Saratoga, the other against the aft engineering sector.
Communication was cut off from the Saratoga, and Riker and the rest of the Enterprise crew could only watch as the remaining TIEs were joined by two more squadrons of Interceptors, which dove at the Buran and Ahwannee, pressing them back against the fleet of Federation ships.
Riker spoke in a loud voice, "Enterprise to fleet, prepare for retreat, maximum warp."
Data interjected. "Sir, that will not be possible. The enemy fleet has positioned itself to block any escape route. Further, sensors show that some of the larger ships are projecting powerful, fluctuating gravimetric fields. Computer projections show an eighty-six percent chance that any starship attempting to run the blockade at warp will be torn apart by the gravitational effects."
"Damn," swore Riker. "We have them right where they want us. Worf, get your team down to the planet. Maybe we can drop that shield and attack the battle-station."
Data stood. "Sir, permission to accompany the away team. I may be able to access their computer system from the generator on the planet surface."
Riker paused, considering. "Go." As the android and Klingon left the bridge, he returned to the view screen. Swarms of fighters were dancing around the periphery of the fleet like insects, and the ponderous starships of the Federation were reduced to trying to swat them from each other's backs.
"Ensign Crusher, what's the status of the enemy fleet?"
"Two of their cruisers are moving toward us, Captain... one is the ten-click ship."
An explosion rocked the ship, as debris and a shockwave impacted against the shields. "Sir, that was the Firebrand... a direct impact on the warp core... antimatter bottles were ejected... minor damage to the Gage."
Over the intercom, Worf spoke. "Beaming down now, sir."
Riker sat down in the command chair, and paused to think. He glanced to his left, and noticed Troi for the first time. She was silent, almost motionless, except for a slight tremble.
"Deanna... what's wrong?"
In a whisper, she responded. "Will, there's a presence on board that station... something more powerful than I've ever felt. I've been trying to hide from it."
"Do you know what it is?"
A murmur, "Human. If I tried to learn anything more it would find me. My god, Will, on the other side of the universe, we're fighting humans."
Worf, Data, and seven security officers materialized in the passageway connecting the rear entrance of the bunker to the main generator. Their phasers were drawn, and they arrived Klingon style, in pairs facing outwards. The passageway was empty, but the sounds of a large group sounded from outside. Data flipped out his tricorder, scanned the surroundings, and motioned towards the generator.
He and Worf peered around the corner; the room was filled with black computer panels, flickering with red readouts and indicators. Amidst them stood a number of men wearing black uniforms, some with large, ovoid helmets, others with officer's caps. Guarding them were a number of humanoids encased in white armor.
The two backed up. "Humans," muttered Worf.
"Intriguing," commented Data. "They appear to be those in charge of this generator. Hence, the... enemy." He spoke this last word with twitch of his head and sounded almost curious.
"Come on." Worf lead the team to the entrance. Holding his phaser aloft, he stepped into view, aiming at one of the men in uniform. "Freeze!"
One of the white-suited guards drew his gun, and fired a short, brilliant bolt of energy that narrowly missed Data's knee. Data's phaser blast didn't miss, and knocked the guard back against the wall, the shot square in the center of his chest.
"I advise you not to move," said the android.
The guards in white raised their hands, as did the men in uniform.
Outside, the Imperial forces had rounded up the Rebels in the area and Solo, Leia and Chewbacca stood to one side, their hands on their heads. Two Scout Walkers patrolled the clearing in front of the bunker, and two more could be heard crunching through the forest. Solo shrugged helplessly when the princess glanced at him. "I guess we wait for the cavalry to get here," he murmured.
Leia asked, "Why are the guards so nervous, all of a sudden?" Chewbacca barked uncertainly.
"You and me both, hairball." Then a squad of stormtroopers headed into the bunker. "Something must be up inside." He murmered, "Any of our forces still in there?"
Leia shook her head. "All out. Some of the Ewoks?"
Solo thought for a moment. "No... none came in with us, and they would have told us about another entrance."
Suddenly, the sound of blaster fire echoed from inside the bunker. Another squad of stormtroopers rushed inside, leaving only one guarding the Rebels. Then a horn sounded, one short blast. An answer of two blasts quickly followed. "What the...?"
Solo's question was cut short as a horde of Ewoks descended from the trees and above the bunker. The confusion was enough to send the remaining stormtroopers scattering, and in the confusion the Rebels were split up. Solo, Leia and the wookie scavenged laser pistols from the fallen troops, and were pressed back against towards the bunker as the white-suited guards started to fight back.
Blaster fire pinned them in the doorway, and they could hear shots and cries, and the occasional roar of triumph coming from inside the bunker. "Should we risk going in?" asked Leia.
"Can we survive if we don't?" replied Han, taking aim at a stormtrooper chasing a band of Ewoks. The Scout Walkers were on the move now, impervious to the rock pummeling they were taking from the furry warriors.
Another blaster shot ricoched off the metal in front of them. Chewbacca and Leia each fired a shot off before following Han through the darkened doorway.
"Gamma Attack, Bellerephon behind, Gage in the lead. Go now!" Riker was bellowing orders as the Federation starships engaged the Empire's Star Destroyers. Five Federation ships had been lost so far - Saratoga crippled, the Melbourne vaporized, Ahwannee torn apart by fire from the large imperial cruisers, a small Oberth-class science vessel that hadn't had a chance to run for the cover of the larger ships, and the Buran, caught in the crossfire of two Star Destroyers.
As he watched, the two fast ships, Nebula and Ambassador-classes, executed a perfectly timed maneuver, both drawing fire behind their positions as they cut towards one of the capital ships. Suddenly, the Gage turned, and the Bellerephon shot past it, then both advanced on the dorsal projection of the ship, presumably its bridge.
Light from the viewscreen flared across the Enterprise bridge as a nearby starship exploded. The ship shook, and once he was steady on his feet, he turned to the ensign at Tactical. "Which was that?"
"The Tolstoy, sir. The battle station fired again."
Riker nodded. "So it takes a while to recharge..."
He returned his view to the main screen, and watched as the Gage crumpled under fire from a second Star Destroyer. The Federation ship tumbled from the explosions, and slammed into one of the spherical projections beside the bridge of the larger ship which had targeted it. The sphere exploded, and the combined explosion vaporized the bridge of the Star Destroyer, which veered from the battle, out of control.
Shelby was busy programming launch trajectories for photon torpedoes. The antimatter explosions could be seen detonating against the shields of the larger ships, but doing little damage.
Riker turned to Troi, who had her seat up on the chair in which she sat, and was rocking back and forth. "Deanna, get down to sick bay... Doctor Crusher can give you something..."
Troi shook her head. "No... I might be needed here."
Riker turned back to the screen.
"The battle is not going well for your friends, Skywalker. What pitiful allies you have chosen. The only ally you need is the Force, boy. The Dark Side is stronger than any other power in the Galaxy. Your Rebels have lost, young Skywalker, and soon will die. Either join me... or join them." Palpatine cackled quietly to himself, his rasping breath almost synchronized with Vader's wheezing, mechanical respiration.
Luke said calmly, "Then you will have to kill me."
"It is a pity, young one. You might one day have taken your father's place at my side. Vader... he is becoming an annoyance. Destroy him."
Luke gazed into Vader's black orbs. "I know you will not hurt me, father. There is still good in you, I can sense it, even now."
Vader paused for a brief moment. "You are wrong, my son." And his scarlet blade was extended and diving for Luke's body.
The sparks and the Emperor's laugh merged as Luke's lightsaber flew to his hand and met Vader's blade above the throne.
"I don't know, Chewie, why don't you go ahead and ask it?" Han answered a bark from his wookie friend.
"Well if it's getting rid of those stormtroopers, at least it's on our side."
Han glared at Leia. "A Bantha might step on your enemies, but that won't stop it from stepping on you as well." He looked up at his wookie friend, sighed, and said "Go!"
They broke around the corner, into the control room. Inside were a number of creatures dressed in mustard and black uniforms, holding small gray tools in their hands. One creature looked human, but had a pale gray face. The other was dark of skin, and had a pronounced cranial ridge. As Han and Chewbacca entered, they raised their tools.
"Please do not advance any farther," said the plastic-looking man.
Chewbacca barked once, and put his hands up. "Story of my life," said Han.
Leia came around the corner, and stopped, looking around. "What happened to the stormtroopers?"
The dark-skinned creature looked at the other. "Stormtroopers?"
"Shock troops... the term was used during one of the many wars of Earth's twentieth century," he supplied. He then addressed Leia. "You would be, 'The Rebels' ?"
Han dropped his arms, then raised them again when a growl sounded from the more aggressive looking of these two aliens.
Leia said, "Yes... I'm Leia Organa. This is Han Solo, and that's Chewbacca." The wookie hooted appropriately when his name was mentioned.
"Ah. I am Lieutenant Commander Data of the Federation Starship Enterprise. This is Lieutenant Worf." He lowered his weapon. "I believe we are allies."
Data nodded. "It would take too long to explain. Our fleet has replaced yours, but we are unfamiliar with your technologies. Will you assist us?"
Han added, "Do we have a choice?"
Han rolled his eyes. "Lets blow this place."
"Where are all of the stormtroopers?" Leia asked again.
Worf spoke. "They have been transported to our ship." His lip curled. "They are being confined."
Han blinked in surprise. "You have a ship? Here? How'd you get past the shields?"
Data turned to Worf. "It appears they have not yet achieved matter-energy transport." He turned back to the Rebels. "Our ship is equipped with a device which allows transport of life forms directly to and from a planetary surface."
Han whistled, and Chewbacca barked a counterpoint. "Lets get those charges reset." He and his wookie companion went to work checking and reconfiguring the explosive charges still magnetically locked to panels around the room.
Data turned to Leia. "What is the situation outside of this building, sir?"
"Some of our men are still outside... as are a number of allies native to this planet. The Imperial troops were..." Leia started. "What species are you?"
"I am an android, sir," was Data's emotionless reply.
Leia reached up a finger and touched his cheek. "Your people know how to make 'droids, all right."
Han returned with Chewbacca in tow. "Charges are set. Four minutes to detonation."
Worf tapped a pin on his chest. "Worf to Transporter Room, four to beam up."
Leia said, "Wait, what about our troops?"
Han looked at her. Then searched his pockets for the comlink. When he found it, he spoke quickly. "Threepio, Threepio, are you there?"
A crackled reply came through. "We are here, sir. Artoo and I. I'm rather afraid we've been left behind. The others retreated into the forest, with the Ewoks. The stormtroopers have left as well."
"We've got to go get them," said Leia.
"Is this wise?" asked Worf. At the same time, Chewbacca growled. The two looked at each other appraisingly.
Data said, "We only have two minutes, fifty seconds remaining."
"If our fleet isn't here, Artoo's the only one with plans to the Death Star," said Leia. "We can't leave him!"
Han started out of the room, calling "Well then, come on!"
"Jake. Jake!" Sisko called out, pulling through the rubble that was his quarters. He finally managed to get his son uncovered, and checked his pulse - weak, but present. He let his son lay there, and went after Jennifer, who was pinned beneath a girder, unconscious or worse.
He glanced through the emergency containment field that was struggling to hold an atmosphere in the breached hull, and watched as two TIE Interceptors strafed over an Oberth-class starship, ripping its port nacelle to pieces. Then he resumed his task, trying to drag the girder off of his wife. The Bolian tactical officer entered the room, grasping at the door-frame as the hull lurched.
"Sisko! We must go!"
"I'm not leaving without Jennifer!" Sisko tried again to shift the girder, having no success.
The Bolian flipped out his tricorder, and scanned the room. "Sisko, she's gone. Now come on!" He ran to Sisko's side, and tugged at his shoulder.
Sisko wrenched free of the grip. After a moment, he turned, and hefted Jake into his arms, and followed his blue-skinned comrade down the passageway, rapidly filling with smoke.
When they finally made it into the escape pod, the ship lurched, and the pod door automatically sealed itself. Sisko braced himself against a support as the pod rocketed itself away from the dying spacecraft.
A chime sounded from the tactical station and Shelby announced "It's the away team. They're requesting immediate beam-up."
Riker looked slightly upwards, "Bridge to Transporter Room, have you got a lock?"
Over the intercom, O'Brien's voice supplied, "Aye, sir. The security force is already here. But Commander Data and Lieutenant Worf are with some of the others... reading three life forms and two mechanical devices that we can't account for."
"Beam them directly to the bridge. All of them."
"Sir, at this range, we will not survive the blast." The golden See-Threepio indicated the proximity of the bunker. "It has been a pleasure serving you, mistress Leia, general Solo."
Solo looked at his chronometer. "Ten seconds." He glanced at Data. "You're sure about this?"
Data nodded. "If they can achieve a lock."
Solo blinked. "If?"
In response to a chirp, Threepio replied, "No I will not miss you, Artoo. Not one bit."
The bridge crew watched as Data, Worf, Leia, Solo, Chewbacca, a golden mechanical humanoid and a squat can-shaped robot on wheeled legs shimmered into existence to one side of the view screen. As the transporter beam dissipated, Data stepped forward.
"This is Princess Leia Organa, General Han Solo, and Chewbacca the Wookie, of the Rebel Alliance..." He was cut off.
"And I am See-Threepio, human-cyborg relations, a pleasure to make your acquaintance, sirs," he said, shuffling forward with an extended hand, and continued chattering on with official sounding overtures.
Shelby announced, "The shield generator on the surface has been destroyed. Reading no shields around the battlestation."
Leia and Solo were looking around warily, while the can-shaped robot shuffled forward, emitting some impertinent-sounding bleeps.
Threepio turned to it. "Artoo Deetoo, there is always enough time for a proper introduction."
Riker straightened his uniform. "I'm Captain Riker, that is Commander Shelby, Lieutenant Troi and Ensigns Crusher and Gomez. Data?"
Data stepped forward, "Sir, the small robot here is a navigation computer. It contains schematics of the battlestation, the "Death Star". I believe we may be able to use this information to destroy it."
Riker nodded. "Data, go with the robot, try to interface it to our computer. Shelby, coordinate a torpedo barrage of the station with the rest of the fleet with Worf and his friend. Deanna?" he asked, turning.
Troi was already on her feet, talking with Leia and Solo, "... get you to Doctor Crusher to take a look at that phaser blast."
The ship shook slightly as another blast wave impacted the shields. "That was the Republic. Escape pods made it out in time."
Solo paused at the name of the lost ship, then blinked and made eye contact with Riker. "So... you're in charge of this fleet?"
"Yes. The command ship was obliterated by the battlestation. I've taken over, but we don't know what we're up against."
A wry grin came to Solo's face. "Then maybe I can help."
The remaining crew of the Saratoga watched with passionless faces as the escape pod drew near a Star Destroyer. The wedge-shaped craft loomed above them, visible through the tiny windows.
"Sisko, they're powering something up." The weapons officer of the Saratoga was taking readings with a tricorder connected to a small sensor cluster in the pod.
The craft shook as a tractor beam locked on, and started to draw them into the Star Destroyer's bay.
Jake asked, "Dad? What's gonna happen to us?"
Sisko shook himself out of a reverie. "Nothing, Jake. I'm not going to let them do anything to you." To the weapons officer he said, "See if you can find somewhere on that ship that's got an atmosphere, and prepare transport coordinates."
The Bolian nodded. Then smiled.
The window lit up, framing the Emperor in an unholy light. His cackling laugh chilled Luke's nerves, but his Jedi training was thorough enough to drive him to one side to escape the downward slash from Vader's lightsaber. Luke in turn swung, his blade glancing off of Vader's shoulder with a shower of sparks, and a cry of frustration.
Luke flipped backwards off the gangway, and retracted his blade. "I will not fight you any longer, father."
Vader's wheezing breath sounded none the weaker for his exertions. "Then you must die, my son. You would have served the Emperor well." He paused, "And now, perhaps another will... your... sister?"
Palpatine's cackling resumed at the periphery of Luke's awareness. "It was wise of Obi Wan to hide her from me..." Vader froze. "I sense she is no longer on the planet."
Luke turned and looked past the scowling Emperor. "She's aboard a ship in the fleet."
The Emperor swiveled to look out at the battle, and his scowl once again transformed into a mocking grin. "Your new friends have unexpected powers, Jedi. I must possess these." He touched the comlink button once more. "Concentrate your fire on the command ship! Bring down her shields, and board her. Leave the ship intact!"
He turned back to the combatants. "Vader, young Skywalker has become an annoyance. Finish him."
"As you wish, my lord."
He started towards Luke again, his brilliant crimson blade illuminating the dark armor encasing the Lord of the Sith.
"No fighters?" Solo was aghast.
"Starfleet is a force for exploration and defense," was Riker's ready, if unwelcome response.
"Mynoc-breath! No small ships?"
"We have shuttlecraft..."
The intercom interrupted, "Captain, the fighters have broken off their attack."
Riker sat back in his chair, relaxing visibly, but Solo stood up. "They'll be sending in the heavies now. You said shuttlecraft? Are they armed?"
"Yes, with small phasers."
Another bleep from the intercom. "Data here, sir. We've interfaced the robot to our main computer. Downloading technical specifications for the battlestation now."
Riker swiveled the small terminal on the ready room desk so that Solo could see it. A sphere, with six twisted passages leading inwards to a chamber at the center flicked into place.
"Through here," Solo pointed out, "the plan was for the Falcon to navigate through this passage, and take out the main reactor. I don't know if your shuttles will have enough power to destroy it."
"Riker to Data. Do we have anything in the fleet more powerful than a shuttlecraft, but not much larger?"
A short delay, "Aye, sir. The Excalibur is carrying a prototype runabout, the U.S.S. Danube. She is armed with photon torpedoes."
Riker's brow furrowed. "The craft is experimental. The torpedoes should be more than enough, though."
Solo nodded. "I'll take it in."
The Enterprise shook as a blast from the Super Star Destroyer Executor slammed into it's shields, and the lights dimmed in the conference room. Riker and Solo headed out to the bridge.
Data tapped on the console draped with optical wiring leading to a small projection from Artoo's body, which was suspended within the support apparatus of the cybernetics lab.
"Intriguing. Emotions develop naturally over time without a motivational inhibitor?"
Bleeps were the affirmative response.
Riker's voice came from the intercom. "Data, get to transporter room 4."
"I must leave. Please do not attempt to access the computer in my absence." Data tapped the console, and left.
Artoo's head swiveled from side to side, his positionable eye peering around. Casually, he extended a manipulator and re-enabled the console, and the interface to the Enterprise computer.
O'Brien said, "We'll have to beam you directly to the Runabout. The Excalibur has lost hull integrity, and is drifting. You'll have to phaser your way out of the shuttle bay."
Data nodded. "General Solo, if you will step onto the pad?"
Solo did so somewhat timidly. "The other shuttles will be there, won't they?"
O'Brien chuckled. "Yes, sir. I'll remind the Captain myself."
Solo nodded to himself as Data joined him on the transport pad, and dissolved in the tendrils of light.
STAR TREK vs. STAR WARS