Monday, December 30, 2013

Adjustments and Rehab

(Continued from “Adjustments”)

In a foul mood, Kate McFerren exited the craft which she and Jon thought of as a shuttle with all the other critters.  Why did that cat creature have to stick so close to she and Jon?  Was it another client as were they?

“Hey Space Invader, must you be purring up my back?” Kate, past her tether, snapped.

She was rewarded with the hot breath of a carnivore in her ear.  The softness of the muzzle was offset by sharp fangs resting on her shoulder and a wet nose in her ear canal.

The blue-furred Ferasan mumbled through the muzzle, trying to speak, then gave up.  A split second later, though, Kate McFerren heard the cat-like alien's voice in her head.

“You smell good,” the Ferasan told Kate.  Some Ferasans were known to be telepathic.  “For a human.  Are you wearing perfume?  I bought some like that once, for my clanmate, before I... uh...”  He flexed his claws, handcuffed together.  The two sharp ears rising from the sides of his head twitched.  His green-gold eyes narrowed at her.  “Oh my.  You are making me hot, lady.  Stop that!”

“What is that SMELL?” demanded Jon McFerren, ignoring his wife's ear trouble.

The thin Cardassian grunted in agreement.  “It's pretty bad.”

“Risa had better accommodation than this!”

“The fornication compound?”  The Cardassian took offense in style.

“I was there on business,” scoffed Jon McFerren.  “Lia's jewelry pretty much was in demand on every planet in the known solar system...”

“Back off, there, Lu'au,” Sweetie told the Ferasan.  'Lu'au' dutifully bowed and obeyed, taking a step back.

Sweetie, still wearing a uniform that marked her as a legal deputy of the Dantari, moved ahead of the group.  As soon as she did, Lu'au was back at Kate McFerren's neck, sniffing and pushing against her.  “Ya don't need that loser.”  He growled at Jon McFerren.  The Cardassian laughed.  The others couldn't hear Lu'au's thoughts; he communicated directly to Kate.  “Ever made love to a Ferasan?  Wait til you see what we can do with our tails!"

“GET OUT OF MY MIND YOU BASTARD!”  Kate lunged backward to step on the offender's foot only to loose her footing.  Ferasan reflexes were faster than even athletic humans.  She would have fallen hard were it not for Lu'au's tail.

“Get your hands off my wife!” Jon snapped, charging the felinoid.  He earned a sharp smack across the groin with the furry tail and a low hiss.  The human bent over, gagging.  He could dish it out, not take it.  Plus, a tail did not look dangerous...

That whole fracas earned guffaws from the Ferengi and even the dour Cardassian.  The latter muttered “Idiot.”

Kate used the distraction to move behind the Cardassian; maybe that would keep the muzzle out of her hair.  Sadly, refuge lasted only a moment; Sweetie dragged Kate back next to Lu'au.

“That cat's sexually harassing me!  I'm a married woman!” Kate squealed entreaty at the deputy.

“Oh dear,” Sweetie said with a tired sigh.  “Is he?  Really now.”

“He's telepathic, in my mind.  And purring all over my neck!” Kate snapped.  “No decent woman should have to put up with this!  This is outrageous.”

By now the other 'clients' of the rehab colony became visible.  Orions, Klingons, Romulans, Kosk, Gorn, and numerous other sorts of scum were watching the scuffle Jon and Kate were causing.

“He won’t do it again, dearie,” Sweetie promised, with a glance at Lu’au.

True enough, the felinoid’s telepathic intrusion ceased to register in Kate McFerren’s mind.  Whatever Sweetie did, it worked.  The procession continued without incident, as the rehab center's ‘clients' filed off and disappeared.

At the McFerrens' puzzlement, Sweetie said, “This detention center is virtual.  It's all in your minds.”

“You mean... we aren't really here?” Jon said.

“Your bodies are in Dantari space.  Since they don't practice rehab, this is a virtual interface on Elba II, under Federation jurisdiction.  Now, off you go.”

Sweetie, neither a counselor nor rehab specialist, left the McFerrens as a door appeared, marked for them.

TBC  (JP - Sandy [McFerrens], Todd [Lu'au, Sweetie])

Friday, December 27, 2013

Adjustments

The Sphere Of Glass was probably the most expensive planet in the galaxy.  It was even considered excessively costly for the Ferengi.  As typical with many such places, it was deceptively simple, as most beings of great wealth tended not to like wealth flaunted.

Everything seemed to be made of a glass-like material.  The species populating the place were bewildering.

Lia Black McFerren's gifgram shop was tiny, stark white with white chairs and tiny tables holding colorful gifgrams, one to a table.  There was another color not belonging to a gifgram.  It was purple.  It belonged to a store minder.  'She' had many tentacles and was full of squeaks when she found something funny which was much of the time.  Te's job was to keep the little tables supplied with gifgrams: The tables were few; the gifgrams sold fast.

Security was not seen.  The hologram could be on a thief faster than the thief could pick up his prize.

It was not for Lia to be in her shop.  It was for her to socialize with the elite of society, wearing designer clothes and sporting gifgram jewelry.  It would seem an idyllic life, albeit a challenge for one with social anxiety.  The Vulcan T'Rhan was far more comfortable in high society.  She loved it!

T'Rhan did most of the talking; Lia hid in her shadow until the starter was served, then Lia tactfully asked another woman, Gail, to cease slapping the holographic waitress' hand.

“I beg your pardon?” Gail asked flatly.

“A hologram has the right not to be hit,” Lia said softly.  The holographic waitress blinked at Lia.

“Holograms have rights?”  A woman blinked blankly at Lia.

“Yes, every intelligent being has rights.  It matters not if the being is made of flesh and blood or of light and photons.  A hologram can feel just as you and I.”

“And holographic pets?” another woman asked.

“Holographic pets are profitable.  That is the stock and trade of this world, other than jewelry,” Gail put in.  Lia didn't like her, but she knew how to handle her.

“They are, yes,” Lia admitted.  Gail raised her eyebrows in surprise.  “There is a way to make the same item far more profitably without difference in the item.”

“How do you know?” Gail asked, leaning forward.  Everyone at that table leaned forward; they could scent profit.

“I studied your holographic pets.  There is a good deal of upkeep for a hologram that is not there for lower forms of technology.” Lia smiled enigmatically.  “I will submit my patent tomorrow.”

Gail stared hard at Lia.  Lia stared calmly back.


&&&&&&&&&&&&


On the other side of the social spectrum, Lia's parents were doing adjusting of their own.

Kate and Jon McFerren were strapped into hard seats of a 'shuttlecraft' and on the seemingly longest ride.  Both were getting stink-eye from a bewildering variety of aliens, or at least those they could read; not all of them had mobile faces, not all had eyes.  One cat-like creature hissed at Jon, flexing three-inch claws.  For one moment, both were glad of the restraints keeping that cat away from them.

The relief was short-lived when the cat started unlocking restraints.  The McFerrens looked at each other.

The cat, not an animal as Jon thought, stood on his back legs: “Yes, I'm a sentient,” and followed that with something the McFerrens didn't understand.  Sweetie laughed, as did several other 'passengers' in the vessel.  “Where in space did you dig these two up?”

“We were traveling with our daughter to Amethyst,” Jon spat up.

That got a roar of laughter.  “Amethyst is kinda rich for slobs like you!” chucked in a thin Cardassian.

“Our daughter is the money-maker of the family.  Nina Black McFerren.”

“I've heard of Nina Black...” said a Ferengi softly from the front of the craft.  “She created the gifgram...”

“That's her, but she's a bitch.  Dumped her parents here.”  Kate McFerren spoke with low venom in her voice.

“I do not think so,” Sweetie purred from behind.

TBC

— Sandy/Lia & the McFerrens

Yahoo Groups post

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Maggie (continuation)

"Are you serious?"

Maggie asked the question of herself – literally: an 'older', addressing a 'younger' Q named Maggie.

Older.  Younger.  Age.  Time was nothing to an omnipotent being who could live forever (and had, in a sense).  This anachronism caused the younger Maggie to chew on her lip (a nonexistent, humanoid feature, sported for the benefit of her mysterious watcher).  Age?  Time?  Living forever?  She existed in a transtemporal state, beyond time, making her the same 'Maggie' then, now... anywhen.  Yet how did she exist in such a state, second to second, moment to moment, eon to eon, measuring time's progression, if she was timeless, like all Q?  That seemed to be a requirement, in order to vocalize, to interact, in this physical, fleshly medium of matter and energy.  How could a Q be constrained by physics, yet surpass them?  Why was she in that medium, and not beyond?  Or... did she, in fact, exist in both – but then, why was she unable to tell if she did?

"You ask a lot of questions," the elder Maggie chided.

"That's funny.  I don't remember asking enough," younger Maggie said, puzzled at the perspective.  "But yeah, I have questions," she said.  "And you have answers."

Her watcher, the mysterious Vulcan, gazed upon the pair with an unsettling, cold, dark stare, silent until that moment.  "It is not in your nature to provide answers," she said.  "The essence of Q, of what it means to be Q, is to pose questions, challenges... to test limits."

Younger Maggie studied herself... the watcher... then the deceased organic form of the humanoid male laying at their feet.  His name: Charles 'Trip' Tucker.  He was the chief engineering officer of this 'ship', this 3-dimensional transportation vessel, a silly human construct named Enterprise.  He was, until that moment.  An explosion ended his frail humanoid life.  He was dead.  Maggie wondered why she was here, why this was happening, what was this setting's point of interest.
"We don't ask enough questions," she decided.  "Merge," she commanded herself – her 'older' self, her 'younger' self... herself.  (At the same instant, she wondered in the back of her Q mind, which one of herself made that decision; who gave the command... or whether it came from some other... place.)

Elder and younger Maggie were, became, one: One Q, named Maggie.  Questions attained answers.  And she understood.  "I am here to test the limits," she said.  "Like a true Q.  But... not like the Q of before."

"And what does that mean?" her watcher companion asked, with the tone of knowing the answer before she spoke.

"A ruse," she realized.  "His death was a cover-up.  But... why am I—"  She paused, understanding more.  The next generation of Q... a new generation, the first new generation of their kind, since... since Q became Q...  Maggie: the new Q.   "That's what I am," she said.  Q Prime decreed that they would no longer wreak childish havoc in affairs of non-Q species, like that at which he had once excelled.  It was unfitting... limiting... and frankly absurd, of an omnipotent race.  Their role, as Q, had changed.  "That's why I'm here," she said, and in the instant she said it,  "A ruse," she realized.  "His death was a cover-up.  But... why am I – oh.  I get it."  She eyed the watcher with a new appreciation, with respect – no longer interested in turning the woman into a dung beetle.  "You loved him."

The watcher remained still, motionless, her face impenetrable.  "You've completed today's task," she said.  "Let us return."

**********

TBC (to be continued)

Through a Looking Glass

Lia McFerren had managed to ditch her less than lovable parents and establish herself on this non-Federation world where Capitalism reined.  She learned early it was good to establish yourself as someone who had value to those who ran the system regardless of whatever system you landed in.  Her parents did not learn this lesson and were at best considered idiots, to parasites, and at worst, criminals. 

After putting her commodities on the market and making profitable and amenable associations with the local residents, Lia settled into the society of the Sphere Of Glass even faster than anticipated by T'Rhan.  Her gifgrams became jewelry that was animated.  That sold faster than warp drive flew.  Naturally, that wasn't Lia's intention for the gifgrams, but the jewelry paid the way for other research and for work with holographics.  T'Rhan was pleased; she was living in the style she was accustomed.

Lia let Sweetie know that she had settled and was doing very well.

If only if the strange dreams would go away, she would call herself content.

Just as R.E.M. sleep would come upon her, Lia would find herself looking into a mirror.  The glass would ripple, as would a hologram, and she would look into her own green eyes, only the eyes would be in a face that had little familiarity.  The woman, unlike her natural pale strawberry blond curls, had her hair died blood red.  There was a hardness in the green eyes, and in the mouth.  She wore a ship's uniform abet skimpy with an odd device on the shoulder and was in a ship's quarters.  It was a mockery of a Starfleet vessel, but a Fleet where morals flipped upside down.

“You are Lia McFerren,” the woman said.

“I am,” Lia replied, no fear in this dream state.

“You are a scientist?”

“I am.”

“You vivisect?”

“Vivisect what?” Lia questioned.

“People.”

“No,” Lia replied, carefully hiding any horror she felt.  This woman was dangerous, even in the dream state.

“How can one practice science without cutting a living being or two?” asked the other woman without a qualm.

“Mathematics is part of my science.  Art is another.  Much of my work is done on the holodeck, which does not involve beings at all.  It involves forcefields and light,” Lia said.

“Your parents nurtured your skill?” asked the other with curiosity.  “Mine only was able to teach me to survive, and profit as was the Ferengi way.”

“Mine did not want me, but the planetary authority and society frowned on giving away an infant,” Lia replied.  “I became what I am despite their... ignoring a little being in the dwelling.  I was able to learn and quickly to thrive.  I hid when the authorities had differences of opinion with their lifestyles,” Lia added with a slight smile.

The other chuckled.

The mirror became opaque again, but the other came around the corner.  Lia carefully didn't react.  The woman picked up a rock from Lia's table that held within it an image of a beauty spot beloved of the locals on the Sphere Of Glass.  Clouds occasionally wisped over the mountain than reviewed it.  “Jewelry?” asked the interloper.

“Yes, it is how I make myself a valued commodity on this world and able to name my own price,” Lia said with a smile.  The Ferengi raised blood-red head stared at her with widened eyes and a gaping mouth.  “You maneuver like a Ferengi born.  Are you sure you aren't Ferengi?”

“I am not Ferengi or Ferengi raised, I am an unwanted child who learned early to keep my ears and eyes open, and yes, I read every one of the 285 Rules of Acquisition.”  One pale strawberry blond eyebrow went up as Lia lifted another gem.

For once Lia, bloodthirsty, calculating, and willing to take lives without thought, bent over and belly laughed at that snarky remark.


--------------


Lia McFerren (of the Light) quarters Sphere Of Glass

Lia McFerren of the Light

Lia McFerren of the Dark

Saturday, October 19, 2013

OOC: "7 Ways To Bring Star Trek Into 21st Century"

This addresses things addressed years ago on Arcadia (when we used a ship named Arcadia as our central basis).

Article: http://1701news.com/node/328/7-ways-bring-star-trek-21st-century.html

In the original "Star Trek," it was the chaos of small sounds we believed to be emanating from everywhere on the bridge. For "Star Trek: The Next Generation," it was the background rumble we would hear that would remind us that drama was unfolding onboard a large starship.

Realism is part of the reason we've all fallen in love with Star Trek over the decades. And if there are efforts underway to bring Star Trek back, then what has become much more sophisticated audiences are going to demand even more realism than ever before.

Star Trek can't lose sight of that if it wants a successful return to television. So these are our suggestions to the next developer of a Star Trek television series to hopefully make sure it's done right:

The captain does much more than bark orders
We know the current bridge configuration, where the captain is the center of attention, just sitting in his chair. But he sits there as if he's about to watch a movie on the big screen in front of him.

Sure, Capt. Kirk always had little buttons to press, and he could swing around to interact with the members of his crew. Capt. Picard, however, sat down like the curtain was about to rise. The same for Capt. Janeway, and even later, for Capt. Archer. What exactly are they supposed to do once they sit and give commands? Watch the stars go by, like my screensaver from 2002? It might be more interesting watching the three-dimensional pipes being created.

The captain is not just the command person. The captain is also the chief of the ship. His or her station on the bridge should be a working station, so that once an orderis given, the captain can then do other work.

TNG tried to show the captain working more by giving Picard a ready room. But then that just makes his seat on the bridge more tantamount to a throne for show as if he were a royal, then actually being something functional.

Speaking of thrones ...
More than one episode has had a red alert or a communication interrupt our crew. Many times they are sleeping, or they are reading a book, or schlepping around on the holodeck. But why did Capt. Sisko never get an emergency alert about a Dominion attack while he was on the can?

I'm sure the Romulans never use toilets, but we know humans do. And it would not hurt to show one once in a while. I don't mean we need to see anyone using it, or even flushing it -- but just like the noises on the bridge, or the rumble of the starship engines in the background, a toilet reminds us that this crew is relatable to us.

The bridge should be moved to a less-vulnerable part of the ship
It's amazing that in all the battles a ship of exploration has, that no one has successfully targeted the bridge. I mean, they go for the engines, the shields, the transporters -- but yet, there is this big target at the very top-center of the saucer that's screaming "shoot at me! shoot at me!"

Targeting the bridge means that you then make the rest of your battle much easier, especially since there's no one giving commands, and all the key mechanisms (like shields and defense) are also controlled in that one spot.

TNG once again tried to address this by giving us a battle bridge, which is actually hidden inside the backbone of the ship -- that is, until the saucer section was separated. And then, it's just as exposed as the old bridge. And the funny thing? They only used the battle bridge when the saucer section was detached.

"Battlestar Galactica" (the new one) had this one right: put your control center deep inside the ship, so that if there is an attack, you will be the last to get destroyed, as it should be.

Yes, the chess is three-dimensional, but so is space
We are so used to being on a planet, that we think if we are in the same area as another ship, we have to stop and get out of their way. But space is infinite in all directions, not just like a flat surface, and it must be treated that way.

Sure, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" took advantage of this three-dimensional landscape, but then we would get later adventures where it seemed writers totally forgot themselves. If you put up a blockade, say in the TNG episode "Redemption, Part 2," know that unless that tachyon field is huge ... it wouldn't take much for a ship that can go faster than light to get around it by going underneath it, or above it.

Landing parties shouldn't land without appropriate protection
Yes, the red shirts are infamous for being killed in Kirk's landing parties of the original series, but exploration of any kind can be dangerous. Just ask any of the European explorers who made landings in the Americas -- they would be crazy to not have protection following them around ... in full armor.

Not only did the away teams go down with crappy protection, but then they had to walk everywhere. No one thought about putting some wheels on the ground until "Star Trek: Nemesis," and even then it was nothing more than a dune buggy. At least "Lost In Space" had the family bus they could drive around everywhere.

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations ... works for aliens, too
When we think of Klingons, all we think about are warriors. When we think of Romulans, all we think of are scheming politicians or military leaders. But there has to be more to all of these species than that. Someone has to cook. Someone has to clean. Someone has to develop technology.

With the major races, we have seen touches of that, like with "Star Trek: Voyager" and "Star Trek: Enterprise" when it comes to the Klingons, but we need to stop painting other alien species with broad strokes. Not every Klingon is looking to start a blood feud. Not every Andorian has an issue with "pink skins." Not every Ferengi is going to try and make a profit off us. Not every Borg wants to assimilate ... wait, scratch that one.

The richness of these different alien species comes from the diversity that we see. Not every human is alike, and the same can be said about Cardassians, Kazon, Vulcans and even the Gorn.

Don't let technology solve problems
The biggest concern with early TNG episodes was the fact that Wil Wheaton's Wesley Crusher was always the one saving the day -- with technology. Not just his intellect, but his intellect when it comes to technology.

Basically, the message there is that if I'm ever in trouble, I need to turn to my iPhone. That might help me find when the next train is going to arrive in a strange city, but when the Breen are trying to shut down all the electrical systems in my car? I think I might need some of my own ingenuity with a dash of Picard diplomacy to get out of that.

There has been far too often that I've watched the spinoffs of Star Trek, and feel it's more a boasting of advanced technology than advanced thinking. Sure, technology is great, and it's taken great minds to create it -- but it should only be a tool to a solution, not the solution itself. And that's what Star Trek has to get back to.

Source: 1701News
About the Author: Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for 1701News, Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus, and a co-founder of 1701News. He lives in Tampa, Fla.