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Starwalkers (episode 32: "Photographing a Galaxy") by TS Caladan

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Starwalkers  (episode 32: "Photographing a Galaxy")
by TS Caladan

[note: I've always wanted to write a Star Trek episode. I might have to change things around for legal reasons...].


Captain John Romulus Church contemplated secret order "Directive-12" from Starwalker Command over and over again in his sharp mind. He read it again off the monitor and then destroyed it, as instructed, with a push of a button. The Directive came from a higher source: the Galactic Union. This was important stuff and from a much larger 'outfit' than the measly 23 planets under Starwalker Command. Nothing made sense, Captain Church realized. He wondered if his brilliant First Officer and friend might shed some light on Directive-12.

       With the calm buzzer sound, Church knew it was probably Commander Staak at the door of his quarters.
       "Enter." The door automatically opened with a "hush" sound...
      
Staak walked in. His peaceful race developed on the close star Proxima Centauri, but only after long and horrible civil wars with the Machines. Their home world, planet Remor, eventually ended the wars by producing a new specie. Staak was 9% mechanical and certainly not a cyborg. He rose quickly up the ranks of Starwalker Command because of his extreme intelligence and psychic abilities. The Remoran learned a lot of "fascinating" traits from the Captain and other crewmembers. He studied the nature of human beings. Staak was often amazed at how warm and friendly they were compared to his colder, restrictive and less-expressive people. His skin was slightly purple because of purple blood. The Commander also had no ears, only holes...
       "I guess...I shouldn't be surprised to see you, Staak. Do you know...what the orders are, you want to speak them back to me?" Church got to his feet and sat on the edge of his desk.
       A smile appeared on the alien's semi-purple lips that was almost prideful. "Sir. I only know...the orders were of the utmost urgency. I figured you might want to talk about it..."
       "But, Staak. It's for my eyes only. Talk to you? Reveal secret Directive-12 to another person? That would be a big breach of protocol, sir. Now...do you...know me to have...EVER broken protocol?"
       They glanced into each other's eyes. The serious tone could not be held for long.
       The Captain laughed. To a small degree, so did the Commander.
       Then the funniness ended~
       Church recited the special paragraph that appeared on his screen verbatim to the Remoran.
       Staak stated: "You're suspicious of the Directive."
       "Ever since you saved my life on Dragmar-4 with that...that assimilation you did..."
       "It was no assimilation, sir."
       "Whatever it was, you pulled me back to life with it. I'll be forever grateful, Commander..."
       "John," Staak uttered with feeling.
       "Since then, you've been in my head. You seem to...ah, know me...beyond your normal ESPer-level of everything. Is that right...R'muarzghe?"
       Staak was momentarily stunned that the Captain pronounced his first name correctly. "Yes, sir."
       "Let's sit."
       They did and got more comfortable on soft, black chairs.
       "Damn right, I'm suspicious, Commander. It stinks! The secret mission should be for a science vessel, not a ship of exploration. And why is it secret, why a Directive-12?"
       "Odd, to say the least."
       "What do...Remorans know of...holo-photographing? I don't know how extensive virtual reality is on your planet. What do...the Machines say?"
       Staak answered, "Remorans, Ferengi, Insectoids and a few other races have VR down to perfection; there is no difference, sir."
       "You really can't tell, Staak? I've always...saw a difference...in the women, I mean..." The Captain blushed, covered his face and did not want to make his thoughts audible.
       Staak smoothed over the awkwardness with, "There's not much you can hide from me, sir. Back on point, I read a classified report that proposed Starwalker Command will also achieve this perfect match between reality and simulated-reality."
       "Really? Hadn't heard that news. Still...why would what seems like harmless VR...be so secreted? Is there a sinister side to photonic reality the Union knows about...and we don't? Our next destination, from higher sources, should...shed some new light on the situation."
       "I understand I cannot attend the meeting with the admirals, sir. But I will be there in spirit."
       Church's eyes enlarged for a second when he said, "I imagine you will." 
       The Commander remembered and informed his Captain, "The classified report went on to suggest that future Starwalker ships will have VR rooms to accommodate the crew."
       "Ha, ha. We need them here on the 'Enlighten,' yes? Ha...for a number of purposes. Do we not, Commander?"
       Staak slightly smiled and expressed, "Indeed. For recreational escapes...and for what you are thinking, sir."
       Church laughed. "Sex is a recreational escape."

       In the sick bay, Doctor O'Leary scratched his head as he looked down at the blonde, comatose patient on the table. Sounds of beeps and sensors were heard. There was more than the usual medical equipment with lights and lit display-windows. Scanners were brought in which did nothing to solve the mystery or help the man in a coma.
       Dr. O'Leary turned to Nurse Rowe and told her, "This man should not be in a coma. It's like nothing else I've ever seen. Not a virus. I don't even know if it is a coma, Nurse." 
       "What do you mean, Doctor?"
       "Well..." He took a heavy breath. "...the readings are wrong! BP, pulse and breathing aren't less. In a coma patient, everything drops to bare minimums. This man should be jumping up and dancing the jig. I'm baffled." 
       Suddenly, the wall-intercom's whistle blew and the Doctor answered it with the push of a button.
       It was the Captain. "Do you have a few minutes, Doctor? I'm in my quarters."
       "You'll have to give me a few to clean up here, Captain. There's a major mystery laying in sick bay I have to speak to you about, John."
       "The hour is late. We can...share our problems over some...real alcohol. What d'you say, Ben?"
       "Sounds good to me."

       "John. You've never shared a Directive-12 with me before. Thanks. Why now?"
       Both men had blue Andorian brandy drinks in their hands. They spoke between sips.
       "Maybe I needed another perspective, other than..."
       "Staak's. I think I get the picture. What you told me of the orders sounds...er...could be legit and nothing's going on? So, the Enlighten is taken to a very secret meeting of admirals; that's a rarity in itself. And we "walk" our journeys to this and that star: beautiful planets, super-planets of the most ideal luxury...the flagship of Star Command...on a galactic cruise of the most exquisite sites and experiences the Milky Way has to offer...and you found something to complain about, Johnny boy?"
       "That's not it, Ben. It's not like shore leave. Whole crew is confined to the ship while what amounts to a...special Union-assault team does the 'photonic photographing.' What are they up to?"
       "I see your point, John. Why use the Enlighten?"
       "I can only think...because it's the most-armed, single starship." John finished his blue brandy and poured another. "A large escort of ships would attract attention. Why would the holo-photographers need all the protection? Why secret?"
       "What about the meeting with the admirals tomorrow? Don't you think they'll answer your questions?"
       "Ha. Or give me a lot more shit to worry about. I blame Staak for this...this new awareness I now have..." The Captain waved his hand back and forth, fast. "You know when those little hairs stand up on the back of your neck, Ben?"
       Dr. O'Leary was a little drunk. He said, "I don't have neck hair, Captain."
       John was in his own world and mainly said to himself: "Just shoot the damn galaxy! I understand the majestic, planetary splendor to be recorded for all time in later...holo-decks, they called them? Why involve us when we really have a number of far more important matters on our schedule?"
       Ben only smiled with shiny eyes and said, "You know, sir: You don't pause as much when you drink?"

       The Union photographers arrived on the Enlighten early the next day. They scared the piss out of the crew! They numbered 10 men and 2 women in what appeared as black, heavily-armored, battle-gear. The mean-looking "photographers" seemed like the most ruthless band of killer-mercenaries in the galaxy. One could not tell what were holo-cameras and what were the big guns that guarded the holo-cameras. Why the massive weapons? Why was there such overkill? They surely weren't going to break-in or storm these planets of beauty on the listed schedule of secret photo sessions. Spying? Union troops had permission in every case. Nothing made sense...

       Later, a CLOAKED shuttle picked up Captain Church and guards (photographers) brought him to the rendezvous with the admirals inside a protected meteor. Cloaking was illegal for the 23 planets under Starwalker Command, as per the 'Agreement of Organi.' This little fact only heightened the grand mystery of the D12 and the entire holo-graphing assignment. Why? Who was involved and what were the real motives behind the affair?
       When Church reached a rough, hollowed-out section of the rock with a Starwalker Command table and logo, the guards left and three admirals sat behind the table: Admiral David Bennett, Admiral Chester Higgins and newly-appointed Admiral Viola Denners.
       The Captain walked directly up to Bennett, in the middle, and said, "You want to tell me the real story now? We go back a long ways, David." He looked into their eyes. He pointed to the woman. "I don't know you, Admiral." He turned back to the men. "There is...obviously much more to it than...than...simply photographing the...very exclusive locations in the quadrant, yes? If you're going to use my ship...maybe you should let its captain in on the...big secret?"
       John's old friend spoke first. David told him, "You are quite correct, Captain. Oh. This is Admiral Denners."
       Church nodded to the lady and she smiled and nodded back.
       Admiral Bennett gestured to the chair.
       Church grabbed it and placed it where he was standing. He sat in it, uncomfortably.
       "Something is going on. Why do you think we brought you here and, as you say, are using your ship?"
       Captain John smiled at his old friend, the Admiral, his other friend, the Admiral and the new Admiral. His arms went out from his sides. "I am...all ears, gentlemen...and lovely lady." 
       "Would you believe...politics, John?" Admiral Higgins stated.
       "Politics?"
       Admiral Denners expressed, "I don't know if that's the one word. I'd say the one word is: Money."
       "Money?" John Romulus Church was rarely ever at a loss for words. After a moment, the dumbfounded Captain said, "But we don't use money?"
       "Hang onto your hat, John. We will in future," Bennett informed him.
       Denners added, "Galactic credits are the wave of the future, Captain. More and more businesses within the 23 planets have adopted credits. What happens to SC policies if our core worlds use money? What happens to our cashless society?"
       Chet said, "She has a point, John."
       "Wait. Wait!" Church waved his hands and had to stand. He paced in front of the admirals in a well-lit cavern of an asteroid. "Please tie this all in with fucking holo-graphing the galaxy? I don't get it. Dave?"
       Bennett answered. "John, you don't understand the enhancements that have been made in hologram technology by Ferengi and Insectoids. It's so much more than exquisite settings and fantastic backgrounds of unbelievable worlds..."
       "What, then?" Church asked with burning curiosity.
       "Captain. This must remain strictly secret. This can't be divulged to anyone!"
       "Never." He seriously looked at each of the three behind the desk.
       Admiral Denners tilted her head in disbelief.
       Admiral Bennett continued: "Okay. John...imagine jumping into a perfect, virtual body."
       "It's kind of...like that now. The...the, ah, one's I've experienced. Like you're air-brushed, perfectly-shaped avatars." Church was confused.
       David said, "All right. Imagine bright hair colors, long hair, every bright color, and..."
       "Mmm hem."
       Bennett told his old friend, "Imagine any skin color and the colors are actually..."
       "What?" John was nearly angry.
       "Flavors!" Chet Higgens came out with the answer to his friend he'd only known for a short time.
       "Flavors?" John was even more confused.
       "Yeah." David strangely explained, "SKIN COLORS and FEELINGS like you won't believe, John. Red is cherry, orange is orange, blue is blueberry, pink is strawberry, gold is banana; there's even a chocolate bronze and vanilla-silver cream..."
       The lady interrupted, "My favorite, by far, is lavender...and the flavor is a divine blackberry cream."
       Church asked her, "You mean, you..."
       Denners smiled big and shook her head for yes. "Worth every credit, Captain. Now put the pieces together like the smart man you are. Surely your First Officer would have figured out our true mission and reason for security...if he's kept up on recent politics?"
       Church stopped his walk from one side of the table to the other. "Ferengi and Insectoids, that's a deadly combination. I can see...where that could lead: Money. This new wave of photonic technology. New enterprises, businesses. I mean...imagine the sex..."
       "Captain," Denners replied and smirked.
       "And with credits coming in, endorsed by the Union, I'm sure...why...why...anything's possible. Power-plays all to sell...to the richest clients...fabulous, new bodies in the ultimate locations and reaching the ultimate pleasures...all at the same time. Yeah. I can see how you can...connive a galaxy into your will, but...don't call it a new wave. Money, credits, zoolongs or quatloos...I don't have to like what you're doing, aiding profiteers. Like the old days." Church stared directly at the new Admiral. "Never thought I'd see the day high-ranking officers of Command using...credits."
       Denners pushed a button on the table and the same guards approached. "Connive? Sorry you feel that way. We're done, here. Do you know the story of the Lathe of Olympus, Captain?"
       "No."
       "Simply put," she told him like a cold snake: "...You have to turn with the coming changes, or..."
       "Or?"
       She smiled and showed her large set of white teeth. The new Admiral was clearly in total control of the other two veterans of Starwalker Command (the Captain felt).
       John was escorted out without another word spoken.
       In awhile, after the Captain of the Enlighten had left the asteroid, she turned to the two admirals and said, "So you boys enjoyed Phase III in the holo-suite, did you? More tasty than you thought, huh? How's this for reality?" Denners morphed into a Zorn species! She was a 7-foot tall, muscular, dark green Lizard that walked upright on two legs. The creature laughed a hideous, loud laugh that echoed through the cavern. "Haa! Uh, HA!"
       "No!"
       "Augh!"
       She roared the truth to the stupid, puny, puppets she'd held in her hand and manipulated for months now: "Everything I told you and the good Captain was a lie. Oh, we're using the Enlighten to holo-film the most beautiful spots in the galaxy. But you idiots don't have a clue to what we're really doing...and it has nothing to do with credits."
       The Zorn grabbed a Lizard-version of a Faser and blasted both admirals into very tiny, bright particles!

       On the bridge of the Enlighten stood the usual personnel. The Captain was joined by Dr. O'Leary and chief engineer, "Boots" Randolph. Soon, the yeoman and a few other nonessential crewmembers left the bridge. Communications officer, Lt. Alice Freeman and the two navigators, Lieutenant Ito and Bellikov, remained. The Captain felt it necessary to explain to his closest friends and brave comrades exactly what he knew and what his flagship of the fleet will be forced to endure over the course of weeks. 
       Captain Church sat in the command seat with a heavy heart. He was tired and hadn't slept well. He smiled. The words came: "You deserve to know exactly what I know about the Unionists...that have boarded our ship; what they are really up to...and...and what it's all about."
       "What's it all about, John?" asked the Doctor, who only used the familiar first name on private intercoms and in the company of the core group.
       "The only trouble with what I know and what I've just been told is...is..."
       "Yeah?"
       "I'm convinced...it's a lie." The Captain looked at Commander Staak. "And I blame the earless one from Remor, there. Ever since that bond or link you did on me, Staak. I've been extremely sensitive to things...uh. I can focus better, seem to understand...better."
       Ben O'Leary's next words were sure to be misunderstood by the Commander. The Doctor enjoyed pulling pranks or saying phrases the alien was totally unaware of, just to mess with his earless head. The Doctor looked at the alien and expressed, "Why that purple-blooded bastard." It was said with love and respect...
       But the one that was 9% machine failed to see the love and respect in the comment. He merely cocked an eyebrow and was not amused.
       "Hey, Staak. Have you had any aftereffects...I mean, since our...bond, whatever?"
       "Indeed. Indeed I have, sir. I am frequently disoriented, the computer beats me in chess now...and I am pausing for no particular reason at all...and...and am...very horny." 
       O'Leary told the Captain, "I don't think he's joking, John."
       The seven on the bridge had a good laugh. It was the last laugh for a long time.
       The engineer asked the same question, "If the Union team of ruffians are not photographing the pretty galaxy for profit, sir...then what the hell are they doing?"
       "That's the question, Boots."

       Much later, on the gorgeous planet Risa, a curious Commander Staak carefully and meticulously examined the intricacies of one of the 12 holo-photographers that looked more like a stormtrooper. The science officer was alone with the "cameraman" among an unbelievably beautiful setting of incredible nature in all colors. The breathtaking panorama seemed lost on these two so entranced with duty and the job at hand. Eleven other 'filmers' were at pre-programmed locations on Risa.
       According to Staak's report, everything was on the 'up and up.' Staak was somewhat familiar with high virtual technology. The proper amount of power surges and signatures for the proper amount of photonic energy checked out. Staak saw and also sensed no deception: 12 locations on Risa were recorded, holographically.
       No real clue to the Union's true motives for the operation had emerged. Yet the Captain and the Commander sensed something very dark and sinister at the heartless center of the holograph mission. Did they sense a new enemy, a new threat in the galaxy?
       No incident had occurred and the Union Team ordered the starship to the next destination: the water planet of Caladon, another great favorite in the Milky Way. It was a huge, liquid world with only a small island called Caladon. Twelve 'filmers' set up 12 different views of the stunning waterworld with moons and extraordinary skies and sunsets. The Captain and Commander accompanied the men and two women Unionists...
       John and Staak were about 20 feet from a female Unionist in the process of setting up her camera, nearly the size of a cannon. She began the holo-filming of rocks, ocean waves and satellites in the distance. Captain and Commander, just by chance, viewed approximately the same line of sight when they noticed something odd...
       They saw something amazing that could not be true...if they were in the real world.
       "John, did you see that?" Staak asked. He was astounded and needed confirmation.
       The camera-person was far enough away from the pair as to not hear the stunned Captain when he said:
       "I did see that, Staak."
       "Describe what you saw, if you would please, sir?"
       "Why...uh. The edge of the horizon, just a relatively small patch of...of reality...ah, blinked a few times. I swear, I saw a grid-pattern behind the patch. Then...reality came back; all appears normal now."
       "I viewed the same thing, sir," Staak stated with less emotion than the Captain. "It was like..."
       Church finished his First Officer's sentence: "...A glitch in a holo-program. I've actually seen the whole system blink like that, stop, wink-out and leave a grid-matrix behind."
       "I know."
       Captain Church just closed his eyes and shook his head slightly.
       "But, sir. We are not within one of those holo-rooms, at the moment."
       "I think we are of different minds for a change, because...maybe we are?" Church's eyes lit up and his voice sounded creepy.
       "That's not..."
       "What were you going to say, Commander? That's not...logical?"
       "No, sir." Staak said, "I was going to say...that's not very reasonable or rational or sane, with all due respect, sir, since...clearly..."
       "Are we? Wrap your head around that one." He ordered Staak: "Keep an eye out; act casual. See if you can perceive any more glitches. I want to check something."
       "Yes, sir." 
       Church grabbed his communicator off his belt (beep). "Enlighten."
       "Yes, Captain."
       "Beam me up, Boots." 

       Commander Staak suddenly walked into sick bay.
       Only Dr. O'Leary was there. He towered above the mystery patient, still perplexed over the unknown man in a coma. "Staak! Just the..."
       "I had a feeling, Doctor. You might be in need of my services."
       "I mentioned this space John Doe to you, before. Just had the thought: maybe that thing you did on the Captain..."
       "A mind-merge?"
       "We've tried everything else, Staak! Why not, for heaven's sake?"
       "Because there is always a danger, Doctor. Of not coming out of it whole, complete, and possibly losing a part of oneself every time the technique is applied."
       "Will you try, you no-eared Remoran?"
       "Because you asked so nicely." They both smiled. "I do feel 'up to it,' as you say. Sure, Doctor. I'm certain I can break away, intact."
       "Thanks. He's right here. I'll back away, over here. You do your thing, Staak. I won't disturb you."
       "Good." The Commander from the purple sun Proxima Centauri gestured what was not a ritual, but a technique. In a moment, he was one with the patient's mind, only there was a big problem...
       Patient 0 had zero mind! There was nothing to 'merge' with. He had a brain, but no mind or consciousness or soul. This was a space zombie. Was he one of the undead? 
       Staak was able to tune to the man's physical body instead of a life-spirit. The material form told him many things, maybe more than a conscious mind. Uncharacteristically, the Remoran screamed! Staak fell to the floor. He shivered and screamed in pain again.
       The Doctor immediately shot Staak with the right hypo that instantly calmed down his flood of emotions and distress. Ben helped him to another med-table.
       Staak refused. He was fine and sat in a chair. He took a big breath. "I do apologize..."
       "Fuck that, Staak! What did you receive from the patient?"
       The science officer said calmly, "John is in danger." Staak turned and stared that cold stare right into the eyes of O'Leary. "We are all in a lot of trouble, Ben."

       Church was in bed, alone. The Captain once more found it difficult to sleep. Suddenly, he wasn't alone anymore. A man walked through the walls of his quarters and confronted him! It wasn't a dream or apparition. It was the comatose patient from sick bay, once found adrift in a lost and derelict shuttlecraft. The attractive blonde appeared very much awake and solid after he stepped through the walls.
       "Who...are you?" a puzzled Church asked. He stood up quickly, but felt he was not in any danger. He put pants and a shirt on.
       The man smiled and declared, "My name's Tom London...and I'm from the future..."
       "Future?"
       "Yes, sir. I am so pleased as punch to meet you, Captain."
       A dazed Church shook hands with a really happy Tom London.
       "First off, sir. Can I ask you what made you look up...my father, the Admiral?"
       "Haven't a clue!" The Captain moved to the replicator and said to it: "Strong coffee, black, no sugar." He grabbed the hot drink and turned to his unexpected guest.
       "I'm Starwalker Command, a lieutenant on a ship you wouldn't believe, 200 years ahead of your time, sir. I'm not from 200 years ahead of you, somewhat less. The beaten derelict craft you found with me inside, unconscious, is not what it appears. Its cloak can be dissolved now; you can see for yourself if you need any proof I am who I say I am."
       "Not necessary. I believe you. Lieutenant London, Tom, is it?" Church drank more coffee.
       "Yes, sir."
       "I know your father. He's an admiral? Good man. He must be very proud of you."
       London laughed. "Ha. Not quite, sir. But maybe I can make up for a few things."
       Captain Church asked, "Why come back in time? What have you come to tell me? I should call Staak. Hell, he's probably at my door any second..."
       "Let's leave him out of it, shall we? Your communications won't work, sir."
       "What have you done?" Church appeared fearful for the first time. Why the secrecy?
       "You don't understand. Time isn't moving now and you're not dreaming, sir."
       "Okay..." Skeptical Church grabbed an object off the dresser and tossed it in the air. He was sure the action would prove Lt. London wrong. It didn't. The object (drinking glass) stopped in midair and was in a complete suspension of time. "Okay," was again said, only in a different tone.
       "I've come to tell you something important."
       "Obviously, kid. What is it?"
       "You must not move to stop the Union's holo-graphing of the galaxy."
       "But. I think they've killed two admirals, my friends."
       London seemed more agitated, nervous. "Think. What's your next move? What do you and Staak feel motivated to do...next?"
       "Ah. Probably. Find the highest authority in Command and present what little evidence we have. If he does a bond with the Remoran Admiral, they'll know what we have, what we saw, that...that our intentions are pure and this Union...trick, whatever it is...can do great damage to our world."
       "No, Captain. Sir! You must not..."
       "Why?"
       "Because...God sir, I wish you'd just believe me. My temporal mechanics are correct and, of course, the Machines say so...Look, you can't trust the ones you think you can trust."
       Church tilted his head in wonder.
       Tom London continued: "All is going precisely as planned. Your interference will only..."
       "What?"
       "Fuck everything up...sir."
       "I see. So we must...just let...everything play out. Is that it?"
       "Yes, sir. Please. Can you do that, Captain? We know your rogue nature."
       "Moi?" Church said with a sly grin and hand gesture. "Well...that would be the easy road, huh? Might work. Was there anything else, my friend?"
       "Just don't ever tell my father you ran into me. Deal, sir?"
       "Deal. What about the time thing?"
       London replied, "It'll start as soon as I leave."
       "Then, you're dismissed, Lieutenant. Did you just save my life?"
       Tom smiled big. "Have a great day, tomorrow, sir." London disappeared and time started. The glass fell.
       Church said to his empty quarters: "Maybe now I can get a good night's sleep?"

       Church dreamed a dream that was not a dream. It was the real world. The universe that the Captain, the Enlighten and astronomical numbers of lifeforms existed within...
       Was not real, did not exist and was merely a false mirror-image reflection of the true world.
       The Captain's dream of the real world was essentially a nightmare: He was dead. Staak was dead. Starwalker Command was decimated by the Imperial Zorn Armada. John viewed an awesome battle in space between forces of the mighty Lizards and battalions of Starwalkers. Fleets of battlecruisers on both side were destroyed with SC receiving the worst of it. John's dream showed vivid images with powerful sounds and colors. It was the feelings, the pain in moments of death that ripped through him with great intensity. He witnessed...the end. It was the end of the Starwalkers and the galactic society his people knew so well and utilized so well. Little utopia was over. The Lizards won~ 

       Two weeks had passed and every listed location of ultimate natural beauty and magnificence in the galaxy was holo-filmed by the Union Team. They did their ugly job, whatever the fuck it was and then left. Every crewmember was glad to see them leave.
       Captain Church sat in his command chair on the bridge with the six others around him, his closest and dearest friends that meant very much to him. They've experienced amazing adventures together and each would give their own life to save the other. That was the real thing to remember: family, friendship and love. Church thought again as he stared into the large view-screen with stars that whizzed by at Warp 3...
       Too bad...none of it was real.  
       John understood now, today, at this moment, that his lucid dream was slightly off a bit from the true world. In the true, real universe (not this one), he was very much alive and so was Commander Staak. In fact, his core friends: Alice, Lev, Jagroop, Boots, Ben and the Commander were safe. BUT. They were fugitives from the Lizards. There were no more Starwalkers, no more Central Command. The Galactic Union had been entirely taken over by the Lizard Empire and its branches of associate conquerors. The Captain and his loyal 6 friends barely escaped in a totally refurbished little, runabout called: "The Delta Flyer."



The cloaked ship from the future, left behind by Tom London, just happened to be perfectly redesigned for 7 people: A Captain (Command chair), Commander (science station), navigator, engineer, holo-specialist, communications and a doctor. Seven renegade outlaws could go places, undetected, hide from the Lizards, but also...
       Every world that was holo-photographed by the Union was replicated in the back portion of the Flyer. The crew of seven only needed to walk in the back, punch a few buttons and the most fabulous places were right there! There was even Phase I, II and III for the avatars. Captain John Church of the real world almost didn't mind that the galaxy was lost to the Lizards and the world he knew was (virtually) destroyed. That wasn't true. He had his friends with him. He also had a lot of 'real' places and artificial places to experience. The simulations were better than the real thing. And the women! 
       In the real world: The 12 black-armored stormtrooper photographers weren't that way at all. They were good. They were not menacing onboard the Enlighten. They were dressed in white equipment and worked, equally (with as much energy as the Dark) to HEAL the universe as the negative stormtroopers did to destroy it. The Black Unionists were destroying the worlds they pretended to photo-copy. They instantly replaced them with artificial, planetary duplicates...REAL and physical. But in time, the planets would deteriorate and fade into nothing. The 12 white counterparts, in their world, undid the damage, or tried to. The Union was going to corner the market on the most wonderful of worlds; steal them for themselves.
       But that was reality. That was not the fake world that surrounded the Captain and his friends as he sat in the big chair on the bridge on the Enlighten. Tom and his runabout were gone. What will happen in this unreality? he wondered. Will Risa, Caladon and the other planets fade out of existence? How entrenched were the Lizards in Star Command? There were still a lot of questions. And. There were a lot of fake worlds to explore and many more stories to tell.
       Captain Church thought of his dream world that he knew was real. He whispered to himself, "Just imagine."
       Only Staak heard it. "Sir?"
       John quickly replied, "How does a thuman with no ears hear so well?"
       "I have fantastic ears!"
       They all laughed.
       In a moment, after the laughter...
       The Captain ordered Lt. Ito: "Let's see what's out there. (gestures) That way."
       The ship and its precious treasures inside...took off at Warp 7.






  

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