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Out Of Mind » MEMBER ADVERTISING & BLOG FORUMS » T.S. "Tray" Caladan » STARWALKERS Episode 42: "Cohesion" by TS Caladan

STARWALKERS Episode 42: "Cohesion" by TS Caladan

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Episode 42: "Cohesion"
by TS Caladan

"What the hell?" was the first thing that popped out of Captain Church's mouth after he came to consciousness and his eyes focused. He was sprawled out on a hard, cold, metallic floor of...something? But it wasn't the strange, grey surroundings that immediately caught his attention and caused the outburst. It was the girl. It was a girl or woman that wore a skimpy bathing suit and had high heels as if she was ready for "a night on the town." She was hot. The specific thing that provoked the response and the next one: "Or is it...what the heaven is going on?"...
       Was the GUN she held in her left-hand and aimed at John Church as he got to his feet in front of her.
       "Easy there, Captain. No closer," the lady with a deep, raspy voice ordered the man. 'Authority' was in her voice and confidence was in her pale, empty eyes.
       "Wait. Wait." Church 'smooth-talked' her at first and thought it was a good ploy. "You are very lovely. You have perfect skin!"
       Her almost sad demeanor remained the same. She extended the gun further and up, right at his head.
       "You know..."? 
      She reacted, "I know! You were going to tell me this old-fashioned weapon is still very dangerous..."
       John lied with the words: "No I wasn't. I was going to say the swimming pool must have stiff regulations. You know, with the gun and all?"
       She was upset, yet curious of her captive. "That wasn't close to being funny!"
       "What d'you want, lady? It was short-notice."
       The girl laughed, slightly. "Ha. Ah."
       Captain Church thought he'd lunge for the gun...
       She anticipated the move since she knew his thoughts. He was disappointed because...
       "I'm faster than you could ever be," she informed him of the truth. The woman in a little bathing suit twirled the gun in her hand as if she was a real expert and could do anything with it.
       John sensed this right away and backed off his cool attitude. He got serious. "You wanna tell me who you are and what we're By the do have lovely skin."
       "Why do we do anything, John?" she asked an odd question. "You must not go to Risa or Caladon."
       "Huh? Who's going to Risa or Caladon?"
       She kept the pistol trained on the Captain. She said, "Who am I? Good question. I am only a Grob drone. I hate the term 'Grob,' don't you, John?"
       "Never heard it before. Can you explain? What's your name?" he asked in various tones.
       "I am one of eight. Not 1-of-8, one of seven other drones." The girl returned to a sad expression on her face. "We don't have names as you have names, John. We are 'Things to Come.' I am here...before the One. The only way this can happen, is in your dream. Before the first of our kind emerges, or, is born unto the world..."
       "I don't have a clue...what...what you're saying, one of eight?"
       The woman cocked the hammer back on the pistol. She took deadly aim at his head.
       "Hey. Hey! What do you WANT me to do?!" the Captain screamed. "That could go off."
       Now the lady seemed insane. Craziness was in her big eyes. "Oh. It's going off, Captain. And you're going to die. We have a lot in common, John. We both precede the One to come, the one who will restore Order to Chaos and bring Light to the Darkness. You see...we have to die, so he can live. It won't be HIS head on a silver platter, it will be ours."
       Church sensed nothing to lose with this nutty bitch; he jumped at her and her gun...

       "Haaaaw!" The Captain woke from the lucid dream. He was in bed, in his quarters. He breathed hard. It was the 'dead of night.' He told the dark room, "No visitors, Okay?" In minutes, John went back to sleep.

       It was the next 'day' on the starship Enlighten. At least, its Captain was pretty sure the present reality was cohesive enough to believe that: he was wide awake and in Command of a mighty ship and a crew of around a thousand in number. After recent adventures and deep-rooted truths about parallel worlds and Real Worlds had surfaced, anything was possible.
       Today, on the agenda, and soon, the Enlighten was supposed to rendezvous with a Voyager. [Voyager was one of a new-class of starships. In fact, it was the kind of starship Church feared would replace his flagship as an "Enlighten II," but that never happened. A small fleet of small-sized Voyager-class ships were built instead of one bigger, better model. Voyager contained the latest in mega-weaponry as well as an updated Warp Core, which made the vessel capable of Warp 11 for short periods. Seven Voyagers were a fifth the size of SC Galaxy-class ships and needed no more than a crew of 120 for operation].
       "Commander Staak. Please accompany my Ready Room," Captain Church ordered his First Officer.
       The red-blooded, eared Remoran stopped nonessential scans and replied as he walked to one side of the bridge: "Certainly, sir." 
       John sat in his usual and very comfortable, blue chair.
       The door closed behind the Commander.
       "Staak." Church moved his arm in the direction of a seat next to him. "Please. Sit."
       "I prefer to stand, Captain." The Centauri stood in his comfortable position of attention.
       "Well. That's fitting. Above me. You are the Commander and I am asking your advice," John stated as he looked up a bit at Staak. "You know...'Commander' does sound more...authoritarian."
       "Sir?" Staak wondered and raised an eyebrow.
       "Two things: Only to inform you that every time I have a lucid, a...a lucid dream no different than anything in the Awake World and I remember it..."
       "Yes?" Staak was interested and inquired.

       "A weird occurrence always follows, in, in the real world, or, or, whatever this is we assume is real, right?"
       "John. Something weird is about to happen? Is that what you are telling me? I also sense a bizarre encounter far beyond us meeting the Voyager crew in the next quarter hour, sir."
       "You feel it too, Staak?"
       "Above and beyond anything we'd expect."
       "Huh. We agree a lot, you know?"
       "What was Number Two?"
       "Eh?" John was a little dazed and in a confused state of mind.
       "You said 'two things,' sir?"
       "Oh. You dream, Staak?" Church asked a legitimate question.
       "I do indeed, Captain." Staak smiled and would never reveal what was actually behind the broad smile.
       "Hmm. And. Wh...what are dreams to you, Science Officer?"
       "Everything connects in dreams, John. We travel, faster than Warp. We're visited. Everything has the possibility of, of...crossing over, in our dreams. They aren't different than any solid experiences. Our mind does not stop...continues in mystical sleep."
       "Ha. Poetic. Real worlds, positive worlds, fake worlds, wake worlds, dream worlds. We have to balance these universes. Is that about the size of it, Commander?"
       "Yes, sir. In dreams we traverse time and space. We connect with other places, time-lines, cosmic crossovers, realities. We can train ourselves to remember the distant past and view the far future. Everyone is clairvoyant, John. We feel. We see. On the 'movie-screens' we all possess in our minds..."
       Captain and the First Officer ran through the automatic door in a flash. The noise ceased. On the bridge, they saw...
       Boots Randolph and a startled bridge crew. The Engineer was with a young ensign, a pretty face that the Captain didn't immediately recognize. She wore no red color like the Starwalkers onboard Enlighten (with Captain as the one exception).

"Voyager 109" had pulled alongside the Enlighten, stationary in space. The Captain assumed the crewman was part of the 109, since he knew every face on his ship. This was a new one. The new face appeared frightened...
       The ensign shouted in a rough voice: "They're after me, Captain! She's out to KILL me! Please, sir. You have to hear me, believe me! Captain. Sir!"
       John glanced at Staak and then at his main Engineer for answers.
       Boots responded and said, "A few of us in Engineering faced the Warp Core when she beamed in, apparently. Her uniform was a dead give away. We ran to the lassie; then she ran to the Lift! We caught her on the bridge and hit the alarm."
       The frantic girl yelled once more as a Security team entered the bridge. "You must listen! John. You must NOT go to Risa or Caladon! Please, Captain."
       John Church motioned for the guards to holster their drawn Fasers and they did. "Wait here," he told them. "Boots, Commander...I think you're all we need." He walked toward and activated the door of the Ready Room. "We should chat."
       The door closed. Four of them were inside the slick, white room.
       ...Then it hit the Captain. He repeated her words, "You said not Risa or Caladon? You're the girl in my dream!" Now John recognized the girl.
       "Indeed," Staak commented, then said to his Captain: "The weird encounter."
       Her expression, in front of him, was not blank and empty. The ensign was alive, a vibrant human being.
       Church asked his officers with the usual concern for his starship, "Any threat at all, gentlemen?"        
       Randolph shook his head for no as if everything was shipshape and normal, outside of a meeting with a Voyager.
       Staak checked his wrist device, which was nearly as informative as the instruments at his station. The Commander replied, "No threat at any level. I also sense no danger or anything out of the ordinary..."
       "Except for our ensign here, " John correctly finished Staak's sentence.
       Before the girl answered another question, she dashed over to a computer-station on the long, curved table and got to work.
       "Hey! You can't do that! How do you know to do that? And...and where's your vikini? Is that what they were called?" John looked at Staak. "Or your gun?"
       Staak shrugged.
       The confident ensign seemed much more than a mere ensign, as if she was fit for Command. She told the three men, "Don't you want to know who's after me, Captain? Who wants to kill me and who also will produce a bogus Directive (12) to you, within minutes, which will order you to escort us to Risa, and then on to Caladon? Your ship is very much in danger, sir. And so is mine." The woman with the appearance of a young ensign struck more buttons on the table-computer. She called up the image of the Captain of Voyager 109 along with all the verifiable data. "Here. Take a look, sir. Recognize the face from your dreams, Captain? Don't go to Risa."
       John remembered. "It's your face also, ensign." Church was unaware, only because he didn't know what Voyager's Captain looked like. He was informed just earlier in the day that the Captain was female. John asked the girl, "Who are you?"
       She stared directly into his eyes. With a deep/raspy voice, she spoke the truth: "I'm the Captain of the 109. The thing you'll meet as Captain, is not. It's not a Changling. Not a Dream-Driver, but close to one, a very dark one."
       John expressed, "Huh." He believed her.
       So did the Commander.
       Boots was speechless.
       Then the girl got in front of the Commander. She grabbed both of Staak's hands. She placed one of them on John's head. She put the Commander's other hand on her head. They let her. She ordered the Centauri: "Merge-Me, Staak! You'll see who you're really dealing with behind the mask. She's not the Captain, Captain. Your trusted friend will now make you see who did this, split me into an ensign and who is leading us all toward our doom."

"Arachnia." No way should Captain John Romulus Church have known the name of the black and white villainess, but he did. Not even the Commander understood that this was an ancient evil: the mastermind and orchestrator of the defunct "Senate of the Spider." But John did.
       The woman-creature was alive in his mind. She moved. She danced. She seduced him and taunted the Captain with visions of ultimate sex in all three colorful and flavorful Phases~
       The succubus Viper aimed the alien gun at him. "You have no choice, my Captain. You know you will take your ship to the Pleasure Planet and my ship will follow along for our great Victory Celebration. You know you shouldn't go, but you'll go anyway, won't you, John?" Arachnia fired the strange device. The only thing that occurred was something soft, sweet and gentle...
      Captain Church woke from another lucid dream. "Haaaw. Aaaaaah!!" This time...he screamed!

       Time had passed into the next day. The young ensign was placed in the brig. Her idea.
       In the staffroom with high-back, purple seats around a long table, were the Captain, the Commander, Doctor O'Leary, the Councilor, Boots, two Security officers in the background and the Captain of Voyager: Kathryn Janeway [sister of deceased Dr. Janeway from Galactic Tech]. Everyone calmly sat. Small talk was over. What was a simple SC order to Captain Janeway, was a bombshell to the senior staff in-the-know...
       They, the Enlighten and Voyager, were ordered to proceed to Risa. The reason was the huge success of 109's mission beyond the galactic rim and back to the Alpha Quadrant in record time. Voyager-class ships could one day replace Galaxy-class ships, but that was light-years from what concerned the senior staff...
       Top Starwalkers played it cool. Because of Staak's suggestion, the 'ensign-incident' was not relayed to Captain Janeway. Oddly enough, or not so strangely, a missing Voyager crew member who happened to appear like the ship's Captain was never mentioned by Captain Kate. 
       In John Church's mind, everything was a dream. That certainly was the pattern. Why would today be any different than the dream of yesterday or the night before? Was nothing real? Maybe the only reality was: Everything was real? Things, events, actions, pictures, images, times, motives, even thoughts themselves didn't necessarily have to make sense - if it was all a dream? Or did they make sense and connect, anyway?

       Later, the starships were on course for Risa, the Pleasure Planet. The crews had a "mixer" at 10 Forward and mutual feelings ran high. No troubles, whatsoever. The Starwalkers were happy. They considered the Directive an unexpected shore leave at possibly the most beautiful and luxurious planet in the galaxy. Senior officers were extremely concerned and met in the Captain's Ready Room...
       Most of them sat while a few paced. Two of the officers traded activities.
       Ben O'Leary tossed in his two cents: "John. Staak. Who's to say there's real danger on Risa for us or the Voyager? Your clairvoyant dreams? I'm just a country doctor who takes stock in what I see and hear and feel. If our...real scans and latest Risan reports tell us we have nothing to be concerned about. Then why the hell are we so damned worried? What horrible catastrophe will soon strike?"
       The redhead Councilor added a counter to the Doctor's words. "I'm surprised at you, Doctor."
       "What?" Ben asked with big, blue eyes.
       She explained, "Your old friends, your superior officers, are intuitive and psychic. Call me a woman of faith or feelings, but I'll bet my credits to zoolongs that our two-year enterprise in space is approaching an end."
       Staak was the first to respond. "Interesting. Woman's intuition?"
       The Councilor smiled.
       The Captain felt he should express some words to the gang that had experienced so much in nearly two years. His family. But the only words he uttered were lame words, uncharacteristic of their heroic leader: "It's going to turn out to be a dream again. One of my dreams. So what the fuck does it matter?"
       "Sir?" Lieutenant Ito reacted.
       Church had a new idea that only now surfaced. He asked, "Remember the Union Holo-Photographers, awhile back? Where did we go?"
       Commander Staak completed John's thoughts: "Precisely," Staak stated with the light of realization. "Risa, Caladon, Vesteros and others on the very same quick tour as our recent itinerary. Of course."
       "What's it mean, sir?" asked Lieutenant Bellikov.
       Church offered a theory. "Real planets were replaced by artificial ones, holographic planets that looked, felt, smelled like the real thing...still do, as far as we know."
       Staak told them and asked, "In time, they'd show signs of decay and, eventually, dissolve into nothingness. You think that time is at hand, Captain? The first signs?"
       John waved his hand. He took a seat; it wasn't his usual seat. He said, or he asked the universe, "Sign. Sign. Will we catch the virus...or, whatever it is? Lose cohesion, come apart? Will we go up in smoke?" Church stared at the Councilor, instead of his First Officer.
       She responded with what happened to the brilliant and 'split' Ensign Janeway, "Speaking of up in smoke, sir. Young Janeway vanished from the brig. Gone, as you are aware. Anyone have thoughts on that?"
       "Certainly," John said before the others. Then he thought of what he'd say: "It only goes to show...nothing here is real. And what the hell is going to happen tonight...when, of course, I'll have another lucid dream?" 
       Dr. Ben O'Leary expressed for the entire group, "Be sure to tell us all about it, sir."
        "Hm. Will do." 

      The next day, Enlighten and the Voyager will have arrived at fantastic Risa. Before that...
       Captain Church had his lucid dream within a dream...
       He met a Grob: A fully-matured, confident, energetic "White Borg," she called herself. When Union stormtroopers holo-filmed and STOLE the physicality of the Pleasure Planets and replaced them with temporary facsimiles or illusionary phantoms, White Borgs (in league with White Prophets) worked equally against them. They tempered the damage, which could have been much worse. The White Borg, was a "spitting image" of a Janeway, only this one was dressed in her favorite flavor: Blackberry (lavender).

"Wait a minute," John said clear of mind and totally conscious or lucid.
        "Wait a whole minute?" she said and laughed a hearty, low laugh. "Ah, Ha. Ha."
        "You are?"
       She formed a wide grin on her pretty face that glowed. The Grob or WB introduced herself as: "Kate of Eight."
       "Oh, boy. Ugh," John Church expressed along with a big sigh. "All right. I have to ask. We're sort of in that first grey place. You know, you in the swim suit? Only. This is...what, an upgraded version? You know I've seen a few ancient films like this, Kate. Days repeated. Ah. Hey. You wanna make-out?"
       Then Kate really belted out a big LAUGH! It snapped the Captain back to 'reality.' He had to ask: "My crew. My ship. Are they all right?" He was serious.
       "Kate of Eight." He was less serious. John pointed at her. "Oh you better not be the Q, lady."
       "Funny. OH. To answer: How the hell can your crew get hurt when you're fucking sleeping and this is all a Devil-Damn dream?"
       "Good answer. What about Risa? And DOOM for two starships, eh?" He was more serious.
       The lavender White Borg, one of the 'risen Angels' with the taste of Blackberry, answered, "Your hunch was 100% correct. You are a smart, young man. Starships will deteriorate also. In fact, the process has already started. Would you mind...would you mind if I kiss you, John?"
       The Captain of the Enlighten went with the full kiss on the lips, hard. It was amazing, better than expected. Because of the BLACKBERRY taste~ For a moment, he forgot that his starship had begun to decay (almost). When he broke the kiss, there remained a hint of blackberry on his lips and it was a divine sensation. Their embrace ended. 
       "You're saying, Kate...we shouldn't worry? It's a dream; we're sleeping; nothing bad's gonna happen? Nothing in the dream affects what we perceive as the real world?"
       "Whoa! Wrong, loverboy. You die in the dream and you die in your real life. No one's killed you in your dream, yet..."
       "That's good," Church replied, innocently.
       "Until now. What did you think the kiss was for?" Her whole attitude changed to a meaner, darker side.
       John was a bit scared. This was completely unexpected. He felt it. Something bad. "Thought you were the good one?"
       Kate of Eight laughed once more. It was a crazy laugh. She lifted her left arm and showed him her hand implants that were really an intense mind-powered weapon. She was going to shoot him as the other Janeways had done and ended the dream.  
       Maybe he shouldn't fight? Maybe he should just let it happen? Why not?
       "I'll answer your question, John..." She had the Devil in her eyes.
       He thought a hopeful thought: Since this was the reverse universe, could Kate actually be doing the right thing?
       The White Borg asked and aimed her hand-gun at his head, "Gods of the universe require a sacrifice. Balance. Would you willfully die so that the Pleasure Planets were never holo-photographed in the first place? Collapse of the illusions will be very fast, you see? Number of dead will be trillions. Will you..."
       "SHOOT," the Captain ordered her and received his wish.
       She shot.
       The dream ended. The dream will never end.

       A different course of events happened. The Captain walked into not a positive universe or a dream universe or any type of fake world. John Church walked into the living quarters of an actress who played a recurring role (Episode #42 and #44) on SBC's television show called "Starwalkers." Her name was Kate Malgrew.
       He was within the Third Side of the Mirror: a Real World reflection of his negative universe. [kind of; it was complicated].  

They were very happy to see each other, (again).
       "We meet again."
       "You look fabulous," Church said and he meant every word. He was amazed at her glow.
       "Thank you, Captain. Please sit."
       He did.
       She asked, out of the blue: "Wouldn't you say, John, I was hottest as the young ensign?"
       "Oh, yeah. I liked her. I also liked some of your Captain-hairstyles, eh? And you looked great in the vikini."
       "Ah. It's called a wikini. Ha, ha. Please, dear. Don't make me drink alone." Kate had a drink fixed for him.
       John smiled. He stepped toward her, leaned down and kissed her.
       Ms. Malgrew was surprised.
       Mr. Church was surprised. He flashed memories. Their eyes were close to each other. "You taste like blackberries?"
       She answered, "Huh. It's blackberry wine. I started without you, love. Ah."
       He laughed too, "Ha. I see." The Captain sat back down. He grabbed his cold glass. Their glasses came closer and they 'clinked.' John naturally said, "To long life, Kate."
       She corrected him, "Wrong, loverboy. I'm dead. Been dead for 30 years." She drank a big swig of sweet wine. "It's why we're drinking, my boy."
       "Wait a minute!" he yelled.
       "A whole minute?" She laughed once more and remembered the deja vu.
       "Look. Shit. Okay. I have to go back to my ship, right? Find one of the worlds that's maybe real and, and cling on to it, yes?"
       "I know that your lucid dreams are over, John. You were part of the Plan. Very important."
       "Katie. What the hell are you talking about, now?" John babbled. "These have all been dreams, you told me. Nothing in dreams affects the real world...uh, uh, unless, I'm murdered in a dream. Then maybe that? But my crew's fine...wait! What plan? Who cares if you influence a dream? How about the real world? Yet you're DEAD! How the fuck can I be talking to you in this nice room, in this nice, REAL-world house...if yer feakin' dead?"
       Kate smiled. Her wrinkles showed a bit more."They said you were a joy, John."
       "Who?" He finally drank the wine and listened.
       "Can I explain?"
       "You were used by the White Borg, who you surmised only appeared dark and evil from the negative POV. She wasn't. This will sound like...well, like magic."
       "Not the first time for me, kid," Church replied.
       "I'm much older than you. But anyway. Like I said, the series of dreams will end, because the Plan worked, was a success and you fulfilled your purpose as, as the important...tool you were."
       "I'm a tool, she says," he said. "I did nothing. Used?"
       Kate, the old/dead actress, expressed, "Ha. Yes. Used. When you go back...wake up! Then you'll have it straight and won't mix day-adventures with night-adventures. You'll be fine. It's over. And also you'll discover that Risa, Caladon, Vesteros and the other exquisite planets..."
       "Yes?" John asked with interest.
       "...Were never photographed, your ship, never used and the planets were never stolen. Good mojo. They remain intact, solid and will stay that way. Only trillions of lives saved, that's all."
       "Well how in Heaven did that happen?" John was overjoyed. "Don't know, don't care. I love happy endings! Even in dreams" he shouted with hands above head. "And I'm NOT going to DIE!"
       Kate's happy expression ominous. "Yes, you are. You drank the wine? Didn't you, John?"
      "Huh?" The man froze. It was too late to believe: The bullets aren't real.
      "This is the Real World, all right. But it's not your dream,'s mine. Truth is, you don't really die if you die in your dream. Ah. But. If you die in MY dream? Ha. That's another story entirely. I don't believe in guns. Dreams don't end at death, you see? They live on, forever."
       The man felt heat, pressure. His throat swelled. His heart raced and he couldn't breathe.
       John Church died and he awoke. Again.
       "Haw. That better be it. That better be it, God. My last lucid dream! Better be the deal, boy."

       Reality wasn't a dream universe. It wasn't a real universe either. It was something in-between.      
       John Church marched through the open Lift door and walked proudly upon his bridge.
       "Captain on the bridge."
       The bridge crew knew their 'fearless leader' was in a good mood when he made a joke: "Lev. Maybe we want to stop that practice..."
       "How can I sneak up on y'all, catch ya at what yer doing, if you alert them I'm here?"
       John and Staak looked at each other. The Captain said to his Remoran friend, "Like belling the cat."
       The Commander scrunched his face and surely did not understand the expression.
       John repeated the silliness, "Belling the cat! Ben would get it." He decided to ask his First Officer a SC business-related question. "Aren't we supposed to rendezvous with Voyager today? When is that?"
       Lev and Jagroop from the front stations turned around. Alice looked at the Captain. So did Staak and a few others.
       The surprised Commander responded, "We have no rendezvous scheduled for a Voyager-class ship, sir. Not that I am aware. We have a neutron star in the area, we could investigate."
       The Captain brushed off the faux pas. John returned to lightheartedness. He sat in the Big Chair and turned it toward Staak. "Speaking of CATS. Ever notice my initials, Commander: TC?"
       Staak sensibly replied, "I thought your initials were JRC, sir?"
       "No. Not those initials. The Captain! Same as Top Cat. TC, The Captain, and...Top Cat." Church smiled.
       Staak ended the playful fun when he said, "With all due respect, sir. I have a neutron star that's calling my name." The Centauri went back to his scans.
       "Staak. Life is about fun. You're no fun. OH. I know." John clicked his chest communicator in the shape of a vertical eye. Church missed the company of his oldest friend onboard. "Ben! What the heck ya doin'? Never mind. Didn't you say once: It's the future, no one's sick?"
       "I...I suppose..."
       "Well get your butt up here. That's an order. I'm bored. Over and out."
       Everyone chuckled on the bridge.
       Staak, not so much.

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