THE ORIGINAL INTRO
Previous: 10,000 Tankards
Themesong: Star Trekkin’ by The Firm
JUMPER’s LOG, Star Date 2265-July 31st-Dawn, San Francisco
It had been 10 years and 27 days since last I’d done this, and the boss had apparently taken the spirit of Zane’s desire to keep me around for a month to heart, as up until that penultimate day, it simply hadn’t been possible to plan for the next jump as the Vending Machine of Destiny had simply refused to respond to any of my commands and there hadn’t been any Choice Currency to spend, not even when I’d hit the coin return button.
All that had changed on the morning of the 27th day following the end of TES Jump. The warehouse was gone and I had awoken in my bed in the middle of the quadrangle at Starfleet Headquarters, San Francisco, Earth. It was dawn, and time was frozen, but on the bedside table was a grey Starfleet Cadet’s uniform, an admissions letter listing today’s date, and a stack of credit-card-like pieces of plastic in primary colors. “Not the Alternate Universe Timeline then.” I said, smirking. “Good…. though maybe that’s a later jump.” That thought did not thrill me.
I looked at the machine; it was set up like a snack food vendor, with a different class of thing on every line. It was hard to see what was on the lower levels, since they weren’t currently illuminated, but the top level had seven choices, each with a simply ghastly name and the shelf they were all sitting on said, ‘Select no more than two.” Ah… these must be the drawbacks.” I commented aloud. The sound hung strange in the utterly still air.
I found that, if I concentrated on the name of a drawback, the transparent window of the VMoD would shimmer and turn yellow, with brighter yellow-gold letters appearing to explain. Thus I was able to quite quickly determine that I’d have to be out of my fucking mind to take a single damned one of these. Living Stereotype would make me a, well, racial stereotype no matter which race I was. Curse of Lieutenant Sue was a reference to the original Mary Sue, a character from one of the earliest known fanfics, and one who was fairly moderate levels of better than everyone else. It would make me hatted if I was at all special, which sounded just like sooo much fun.
Those were the ones that wouldn’t kill me. Exploding Consoles, From Hell’s Heart, Transporter Necrosis, and Redshirt almost certainly would. Sure sure, I was much tougher than the average human or vulcan and could regenerate having my face burned off, but an exploding console often meant a starship had just lost a vital control panel… a starship I was on, presumably. Hell’s Heart would provide a nemesis or two or six… in a universe that had godlike psychics, time travellers, actual greek gods, and the fucking Q? Hell, there was no way I could survive my starship blowing up from a negative space wedgie, let alone mundane sabotage, and even stay on planet wouldn’t keep me safe from a KEW Strike on the city I was in. Bad place to make enemies. Transporter Necrosis would kill me if I beamed anywhere… and since hostile beaming was a thing… no. just… no. And Redshirt? See list of things that could go wrong and still kill a super human… Volumes one through nine hundred and five, including but not limited to being eaten by a salt-sucking monster in my sleep, which, surprise surprise, I had no defense against.
And then there was the one that inflicted me with Q. I think I mentally screamed for twenty seconds just thinking about that one. I looked for a way to move on and saw ‘Zero Option”. So I pushed that one.
A candy bar fell out of the bottom of the top row and the lights shifted down to the second row. Curious, I reached into the hopper to find that I’d just purchased an ‘Anomaly Bar’, now with Zero CP! I flipped it around to see the ingredients list, wondering how far Quick was willing to take this.
“Nothing can ever be simple around you!” read the blurb on the back of the candy wrapper. “Contains: Unexplained Scientific Phenomenon, Ancient Superweapons, Mysterious and Inscrutable Beings, Natural Flavors, Unnatural Flavors, Flavors Beyond the Comprehension of Mortal Minds, Sentient Shades of Red Dye No. 12, Netronium, Trilithium, and Anti-Matter as a preservative. Best if Used beyond the borders of the Federation.”
“Yumm…” I said, putting the candy bar on top of the machine. Maybe, if I didn’t eat it, it wouldn’t affect me?”
Row two had five options and the bar read “IDENTITIES! Pick No More Than One!” The choices were Stowaway, Operations, Sciences, Command, and Trader and they ranged from free to 100 CP… which apparently stood for ‘Coexistence Potential’ in this reality.
Speaking to myself, I said, “Well, I could be command school. But that seems… Naw. I was all about that in the ME verse. But I do want to be invested here (I certainly wasn’t in Elder Scrolls) so no Trader or Stowaway. That leaves Operations… that might be a bit dull… or Sciences. Sciences. Closer to “reality” for what that’s worth. Oh… Medical is in Sciences! Saving lives. Very good. I like Saving Lives.” [50/950/1000] CP got me a bag of Science Chips! Now with extra Sciency Goodness in EVERY BAG! Science Chips, Saving the Future, Except When We Don’t! Contents: Eight Years of Starfleet’s Best Education! Warning: Package Contains an Assignment to a Constitution-Class Starship. Do not Eat.
Good thought that. Sciency types are known for eating random prizes in junkfood packages. Next up was the Biological Background bar, which had another eight options, plus a zero point option labeled ‘Pick-n-mix’ which I assumed was a totally random choice. The options included the big four (Humanity, Vulcan, Andorian, and Tellurite), plus three really minor and unimportant races (Jelna, Caitain, and Saurian). I had no idea who the Jelna were… maybe they were from one of the books I hadn’t read… or Enterprise? Good lord that show sucked. The Saurians I knew of only from their brandy. and the Caitain Lt. M’Ress had appeared in The Animated Series. She was an anthropomorphic cat lady and another had appeared in Star Fleet Uniform in The Voyage Home Obviously, all races that, in theory, belonged to the Federation. None of the ‘bad races’ like Romulans, pre-forehead Klingons (the We Don’t Like to Talk About It Era), or Kzinti.
I wasn’t going to go random… that would almost certainly land me with something I definitely didn’t want… since I was willing to put up with only five of the choices and really didn’t want to be blue again. I could pick Caitain and be a cat… but I’ve kinda always wanted to be a Vulcan. [50/900/1000] CP got me Vulcan Drops! No Frills. No Chills. Contains Emotion Control, Enhanced Strength, Green Blood, Limited Psychic Abilities, Obsession with Logic, Groovy Eyebrows, Pointed Ears (but not too pointy), and a lifespan twice that of a human! Warning, May Contain Pon’Far!
Mounted to the cardboard of the Vulcan Drops packaging was a spinner that said “SPIN AND WIN!” so I did. What did I win? Well, turns out I’m the age equivalent of 29… so… double that I guess. 58. Excellent. Still younger than myself… and that’s a very weird thing to say.
Training (A New Category!) was the next line and I was now having to crouch to read the options… while I did so, Ziggy tried to squirm inside the hopper, much to the machine’s annoyance. It buzzed at him. He used squirm. It Buzzed louder. He used Thrash. It zapped him… He leaped back, then used flail as he landed on his butt and fell over… then he used Tackle, running headfirst into the machine… at which point the machine sent out a beam of light and Ziggy’s status went to Zzz. I patted the brave warrior on his ittle head and turned back to the machine.
Apparently, training was four years of specialized training in a key skill and the first purchase was free, and since I wanted to be in Starfleet Medical, that meant Medicine was my top pick. There were sixteen choices, all looking like packs of Gum, in red for operations, blue for sciences, gold for command, and green for trader. Medicine was the complete package… diagnostics, treatment, and prevention plus a working knowledge of pharmaceuticals… it tasted like spearmint.
As I chewed my Medical Gum, feeling an awareness of all things doctoral flooding into my memory, the text under the bar changed to state that I could buy more training if I wanted. A second would cost 100, a third 200, and a fourth 300… for a total of 600 if I was super greedy. I guess that was the question… did I want to buy more?
Yes. Yes I did. I spent [300/600/1000] CP to pick up ‘Physical Sciences’ (an understanding of the natural laws which govern the physical world, including biology, chemistry, geology, and ecology… I’d taken Chemistry back in college and it had made my brainmeats hurt. Physics I’d understood much better… CompSci? I hadn’t be able to make the leap from Machine-Code to C++.) to make me a Xenologist (a specialist in Xenobology, Xenobotany, and Biochemistry), and Engineering (you know, all the practical aspects of the sciences, including building, maintaining, and repairing machinery and computer systems, as well as designing new systems and upgrading deficient ones). I figured I might as well be a renaissance Vulcan and build a better medical systems… and maybe a Replicator. (They didn’t have those yet as far as I knew. Maybe Enterprise changed that?) Engineering tasted like Wint-o-Green, complete with electrical tingle, and Physical Sciences tasted link peppermint… I wondered what pure Physics tasted like… but not enough to spend 300 on it.
By this point I was sitting on the ground with a sleeping Ziggy-Monster on my lap, looking at the second to last row of potential purchases. This category was fourteen items long and, just like the Training, color coded, though here there was no green for Trader, only White, which I guess was not discountable… not that I had the points to squander buying either of them.
I focused on stuff that would make me a better scientist, a better doctor. Let someone else make the command decisions, I’d be doing something important. First off, Scientific Mind was free for Sciencey Types, giving me a basic grasp of all the various branches of science, and making it so that, if I was diligent, I’d be able to quickly pick up more specialized scientific knowledge… even with stuff alien to the Federation… like cloaking and disruptors and transwarp… It was a brain shaped cream-filled oatmeal cookie… mmm… I love Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies… I wonder if that company is still around in the TOS era.
Unfortunately, Vulcans didn’t get ‘Highly Logical’ for free, but Scientists did get a discount on it. For [150/450/1000] CP I fortified myself with ‘Mental Control the likes of which could shame a Vulcan’, ‘Perfect Awareness of needs and wants’, and ‘Emotional Mastery’ that meant I still feel them but would be able to them aside as needed to make the best decisions possible, when needed. That might… might keep me from making rash choices in the future… but I doubt it.
But that purchase took me over the halfway mark, budget-wise. I figured it would be a smart idea to check out the last category, which had to be the actual items section… you know, before I had no points left to spend. Soo… what was on sale? A god-damned Cloaking Device!? A Runabout!? A Holodeck and or a Replicator!? Two of those don’t even exist in this time. But I might be able to build a replicator. The tech is only… about 70 years early. I’d take my chances. Same for the Holodeck. The Runabout might be nice… but it would be 23rd century tech and I’d rather have one from TNG or beyond. Naw.
What I did buy was a 24th Century TR-580 Tricorder. [100/350/1000] Being from a century in the future, it would be like cheating… but less so. I hope mine is from More Trouble, More Tribbles, one of the DS9 ones that was disguised to look TOSy. An advanced sensor package should make things a bit easier, science speaking. The Tricorder at least wasn’t edible. And that was me at the 2/3rds budget line, enough left for one sizable purchase.
Well then, The Science capstone perk was called Technobabbler and, with my discount, it would cost me [300/50/1000]. “Let’s break this time-like curve wide open,” I muttered as I scooped up the Nacelle-Cake (a twinkie, of course) and read the packaging, “Guaranteed to make you 10,000% more creative, to fill your mind with brilliant ideas and stunning solutions to difficult problems! Implement these ideas easily, even in apparent violation of natural law!” Oh good… I’ve always wanted to change the Laws of Physics… Jim.
“Crap,” I had 50 Choice left and only three things cost that much, or rather that little… and I didn’t want a Tribble, Half a Year’s Pay in Federation Credits, or a dozen cases of Romulan Ale. I considered, then knocked on the front panel of the VMoD as if it were a door.
“Hey, Boss. That Hail Companion thing from the last jump. Can I buy that? Just for Zane and all.”
“Well, strictly speaking, you can always bring up to 8 companions into the setting with you. They just don’t… naturalize there. I mean, they’ll look the part and all, but they won’t have pasts. They’ll always be drop ins, in other words. Still, if you want to spend 50 on Zane, that’s fine. But you have to make him a Human.”
“I’ll even grant your people minor recurring roles that fit where you are when they exit your Warehouse.”
“Huh… groovy I guess.” I watched as the machine cleared of all my purchases, now showing Zane’s name on the LED panel and a credit balance of Zero… it was very frustrating how infrequently there was anything for my companions in these things… sigh.
“Your complaint has been noted and will be forwarded to higher authorities,” Quick’s voice said… huh… so he was middle management in all this… interesting… unless he was just yanking my chain. Maybe he wasn’t so much ‘The Boss’ as… mmm… Financier? I’d have to consider that… but first… Zane.
Operations I think. Sulu was Operations… got to fire the guns… err.. phasors. Human, because Quick said so… Security? No… No… Bad… me? “What the hell is my name again… Um… Crap. I’ve forgotten… How the hell can I have forgotten my original name? I have a Perfect Damned Memory!!! Um…” I knew my initials were SJ. That was a given. “Um… Frack. Fine. Bad SJ. No making Zane a perpetual Redshirt… even if he can’t be killed.” Better make him Engineering. Everyone else can be a Redshirt. Or a whole series of them. They’ll love that.
“Zaaane!” I bellowed, “Tell everyone they’re going to be constantly getting KO’d in dramatic ways to advance the plot.”
“You people are weird.”
“We’re not people! We’re Pokemons!”
“I’m NOT!” yelled Uriel, “I’m an Emperor!”
I wanted to argue with them, but decided against it. Strictly speaking, Uriel was an Ex-Emperor and Zane had spent far longer as a non-mon than he had as one. Not sure what I was besides ‘A Jumper’ now… were there others?
Let’s see, Ship Shape was Free for Operations, meaning Zane would have less trouble remaining diligent and working hard, keeping him energetic and focused much longer than normal. It would even help him quickly familiarize himself with any area he’d be working in and once he was familiar with that area he should be able to quickly notice if anything was changed or was out of the ordinary. Good. Maybe he’d finally start cleaning his room… Yeah, I doubted it too.
I finished up my snacks, tossed the garbage, and handed over Zane’s much smaller breakfast as he came over. “We good to go?” I asked, and he gave me the thumbs up… I pushed the button.
“Ah, there you ensigns are!”
I turned, bumping into a tall human next to me. I turned the other way.
“Yes sir!” Zane snapped out as I was turning so I threw up a salute… the Klingon one instead of the Federation because I was a little off balance.
I quickly adjusted as I saw the Admiral’s raised eyebrow. “Yes Sir, sorry sir.”
“Your shuttle for the Potemkin leaves in 15 minutes. Why are you standing around gawping?”
“Sorry sir. We were just talking about-” I’m not proud to say I slowed time as I raced through my new memories, “Captain Kirk’s 5-Year Mission. And how he should be reaching the edge of the Galaxy any day now.”
“Yes, well, you can chat on the shuttle. Get moving Ensigns.”
“Yes Sir” we said in unison.
Next: The Good Ship Potemkin
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