The cubical shape, rushing forward through space, glittered grimly on the Enterprise's viewscreen.
"Magnify," barked out Captain Jean-LucPicard.
"It's a Borg ship," Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher muttered snidely under his breath as he adjusted the viewscreen controls. The image sprang out, ten times larger and more detailed.
"It's a Borg ship," Picard ground out tightly.
"Well, DUH," Wesley snickered quietly.
"Did you say something, Mr. Crusher?" the Captain asked, ominously.
"Gosh, Captain," Wesley exclaimed, wide-eyed, "I guess my awestruck admiration of your amazing perception and command abilities must have been so overwhelming that I actually forgot myself and exclaimed out loud. Forgive me for being a naive, callow, hero worshipping young snot."
"Oh, well," Picard said, waving magnanimously, "that's all right, then."
"Captain," Lt. Worf, Starfleet's only Klingon officer, intoned gravely, "the Borg ship is approaching."
"Well, DUH," Commander Riker intoned, rolling his eyes. "I mean, what a shock. Don't they normally flee at maximum warp, gibbering in terror, whenever they see us?"
"That's enough, Number One," Picard said placatingly. "Please remember Lt. Worf's limitations."
"Sir?" Worf rumbled inquiringly.
"I believe Captain Picard is referring to the fact," Lt. Commander Data interjected helpfully, "that you are not truly a sentient being."
Worf snarled indignantly. "I am a Klingon!"
"Our statements are in no way contradictory," Data replied pleasantly.
"Sir!" Worf howled. " I request permission to phaser this uppity and obnoxious synthezoid into free floating space junk!"
Picard sighed. "Lieutenant, correct me if I am wrong, but to my memory, in the several years you have served as security officer on the Enterprise, you have never managed to effectively handle any situation actually requiring the attentions of a security officer."
"That's... but... they... it isn't... " Worf sputtered.
"Furthermore," Picard went on, oblivious to Worf's sputtering, "furthermore, I believe that Lt. Commander Data has been known, on occasion, to tie rods of beryllium steel into granny knots."
"Without any particularly great effort," Data clarified.
"So, Mr. Worf," Picard went on with a flourish, "it would, further and finally, seem to me that I would be doing you and the Enterprise a grave disservice were I to grant your request."
"That's absolutely not true, sir!" the Klingon bellowed in rage.
"I agree with Worf, Captain," Riker interjected crisply.
"Really, Number One?" Picard responded, in a tone of voice that also seemed to wonder if Riker had suddenly developed a passionate desire to be busted back to cabin boy.
"I'm afraid so, sir," the first officer said resolutely. "I mean, there is no doubt that Data could easily rip Worf's arms off and flail him to death with them in short order. But I can't agree that that would be any kind of dissesrvice to the Enterprise. With Worf dead, we could promote someone to be security chief who could actually win a fight while not on the holodeck."
"You forget, Number One," Picard snottily replied, "Mr. Worf is a regular. In fact, he is destined to go on to become a regular in yet another Star Trek spin off, hence, we are stuck with him. We must find SOMEthing for him to do. And, since we can always trust the writers to get us out of any predicament at the last minute no matter HOW they have to contort physics, common sense, and internal logic to do so, we really don't need a security chief. Ergo, I give the useless job of security chief to our most useless crew member..." Here Picard rose and made an elegant half bow towards Worf.
"You mean," Wesley muttered sotto voce, "you're making Counselor Troi our security officer?"
"Oh, ha HA," Deanna said snottily from where she was perched next to Riker and Picard. "Captain, I'm detecting overwhelming waves of jealousy... not to mention sexual ambiguity... emanating from Acting Ensign Crusher."
Riker eyed Wesley out of the corner of his eye. "Sexual ambiguity, eh....?" he murmured speculatively, drumming his fingers on the arm of his chair.
"God damn it," Worf bellowed, "the fucking Borg are STILL approaching!"
"They're coming closer," Chief Engineer LaForge whimpered in a tiny little girl's voice from under his console in the corner, where he was huddled with his arms over his head, one corner of his visor peeking out towards the viewscreen, trembling. "Oh GOD they're coming CLOSER... we will be assimilated! Resistance is futile! Someone KILL ME NOW...." His voice tapered off into sniveling sobs.
"Good idea," Picard sighed with exasperation. "Someone, make it so. And Number One, quickly, page ahead in the script and see how we get out of this mess."
Riker hauled a dog-eared, multi-colored sheaf of badly stapled pages with a coffee cup ring stained cardboard cover out from under his console and rapidly thumbed through it. As he skimmed through the script, he could hear LaForge's voice behind him whimpering about assimilation, futility, the horrors of cybernetic implants. As his fingers traced down paragraphs of text, there was the high whine of a single phaser shot. LaForge's miserable sobs rose in a shriek of agony, and then abruptly cut off. The smell of vaporized engineer was quickly sucked away by the bridges' air recirculators.
"Ah..." Riker said, flicking over pages. "Let's see now... mmmm... break the Prime Directive... er... invoke Q... hmmmm... get Guinan to solve everything... oh, yes, here it is." He paused.
"WELL?" Picard nearly screamed.
"Well, sir," Riker said slowly, obviously reading, "it's complicated. First, you bravely sacrifice yourself by ramming the Borg ship in a specially souped-up shuttlecraft that Jordi and Data cobble together in one of the launching bays."
Worf looked up from the muzzle of his smoking phaser, a puzzled look on his face. "Who cobbles together?"
"I am certain I am competent to the task myself," Data said, getting up from his console.
"Now, wait a minute," Picard said.
"Meanwhile, a computer search has turned up the fact that cybernetic collective minds are very susceptible to focused sexual energy waves," Riker went on. "Therefore, Deanna, Beverly, and that cute bitch in Engineering Jordi was always trying to screw, must become my willing sexual slaves for the next three days."
"Let me read that," Deanna exclaimed, holding out her hand.
"I haven't finished," Riker said, holding the script away from her.
"What, pray tell, could possibly be left?" Wesley asked sarcastically.
"Funny you should ask, Wesley," Riker said. "Well, because you're some sort of mutoid geek supergenius, we have to toss you out an airlock without a pressure suit."
"Okay," Deanna agreed cheerfully. "I'll do the sex slave bit if I can help toss Wesley out the airlock."
"And in precisely what manner," Wesley said, his voice dripping with irony, "does this help resolve our current dilemma?"
"It enhances our morale greatly," Data replied immediately.
"One cannot underestimate the effect of morale," Picard intoned pompously.
"There is that," Riker agreed. "But even better...um... even better... is the fact... that... these things... well... oh, yeah, Wesley secretly...has.... godlike powers! Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket! Lying, like, latent in his subconscious. But only an excruciatingly painful near death experience can activate them. Yeah! So..."
"So you're going to make him eat some of your cooking," Deanna said nastily.
"You can be replaced by a holodeck image," Riker shot back.
"Actually," Wesley spoke up, "she WAS replaced by a holodeck image way back in the third episode. Funny how no one noticed..."
"YOU can be replaced," Deanna snapped furiously, "by a green hand puppet with a Scottish accent!"
Everyone stared at Deanna.
"Okay," Riker said. "That was great. Now. Back to this planet..."
Worf, a definite edge in his tone, said "The Borg are locking phasers. Sensors indicate that the particular weapons now preparing to fire on us are powerful enough to destabilize the underlying quantum structure of the entire Milky Way galaxy."
"Well," Wesley said quietly but with great conviction, "I'm still not going out the airlock."
"Gosh, Wesley," Data wheedled, "do not be a baby. You will have godlike powers! It will be a great deal of fun."
"Hmmmmph," Picard hmmmmphed. "Throwing Wesley out the airlock is all well and good, but I am not playing kamikaze in any four on the floor, balloon tired, monster truck shuttlecraft."
"But I was looking forward to the sex slave thing," Deanna said, pouting.
"Captain," Worf stated.
"Dear GOD," Picard moaned, "what is it NOW, what, what, WHAT? In the name of GOD what do you WANT why won't you people leave me ALONE...?"
"The Borg have fired," Worf intoned. "The Enterprise is doomed. And I, sir, am outta here, as the Borg have demonstrated excellent taste in offering to recruit me to their side." Worf promptly vanished in an oddly cubist transporter effect.
"Mangy Klingon coward," Riker muttered petulantly.
Abruptly, the Borg ship exploded in a huge and (absurdly, for deep space conditions) noisy blaze of energy.
"Ah," Riker smirked, "my secret plan worked."
"What secret plan?" Wesley demanded.
"I can't tell you that," the first officer replied...
"It's a SECRET!!!" everyone else on the bridge groaned in unison.
"Let's throw HIM out the airlock," Wesley suggested.
"And ram into him with modified shuttlecraft," Picard said, his eyes aglow.
"I wanted to be a sex slave," Deanna sulked.
Riker gazed around coolly as Data, Picard, Wesley, and Worf closed in on him. "You fools. You pathetic, pitiful, antlike fools," the first officer said, throwing his head back and letting peals of maniacal laughter echo from his lips throughout the bridge.
"Antlike?" Data said, wonderingly.
"Don't you remember?" Riker shrieked in triumphantly demented tones. "Q once gave me the power of the Q Continuum! Oh, yes, I PRETENDED to give it up... I played the part of a sniveling, feeble, wretched, and pitiful mortal like the rest of you..."
"Rather well," Data noted.
"Shut up!" Riker snarled. "Where was I? Oh, yeah, pitiful mortal pretense thing... right... but all the time it was just a sham! I'm really -- A GOD!!!! Touch me, and I'll destroy you all the way I destroyed that Borg ship!"
"You're bluffing," Picard blustered.
"Ah, but can you be sure?" Riker rejoindered.
Data crossed the six feet between him and Riker in two strides and backhanded the burly first officer smartly across the face. Riker spun through the air like a kicked soccer ball, bounced soggily off the aft bulkhead, and crumpled into a semi conscious heap on the carpeted deck.
"Yes," Data replied.
The crew closed eagerly around the stunned, nearly unconscious Riker.
Wesley looked up eagerly. "The airlock, Captain?"
Picard nodded tersely. "Make it so."