A Federation buttplug–er–space station is getting engulfed by cotton candy. Will the Enterprise reach it in time or will it disappear like a racoon’s treat in water?
The Enterprise rushes towards a Federation research station orbiting Beta Maxilla Seven. A strange rift has opened up near the station, threatening to pull it–and its inhabitants–inside.
They slow to impulse as they reach their destination and Captain Picard orders O’Brien to start beaming people out of there. There’s an issue, though; the rift is interfering with the transporters. An away team needs to beam over with badges that the transporter chief can lock on to in order to start evacuating the station.
Will Riker has Deanna Troi and Dr. Crusher join him for an away team to the station. The women head for engineering while Riker focuses on everyone who has gathered in the comm center.
As the away team gathers up the researchers, the station starts to vanish in to the rift. They need to move fast!
O’Brien has every transporter on the Enterprise working on beaming people off the research station, but there’s hundreds of them so it’s taking time.
The head researcher, Dr Jonas, gives Riker shit as if he can make transporters beam people faster. Initially they thought they had a good buffer before the station got sucked in but it appears to be accelerating in to the rift which they didn’t anticipate.
The transporters finish beaming up the people in the engineering section shortly before it vanishes in to the rift. They then begin focusing on Will’s group in the communications center.
Only 6% of the station remains at this point so those transporters need to move fast!
O’Brien sweats while he works as fast as possible beaming people off the station. Geordi estimates 2.5 minutes are all he’s got to work with before the station is completely enveloped by the rift.
Unfortunately, the rift getting closer to the people only makes it that much harder to beam them up! O’Brien works his magic to get the transporters going again but it’s cost them precious time.
A researcher named Jenna volunteers to stay behind until the end. Dr Jonas helpfully says he sure as shit isn’t going to.
Riker makes sure O’Brien knows he is to be the last man out if needed. Conveniently to the story, there was just enough bandwidth for the transporter to beam up everyone except Riker. O’Brien goes for one final transport to get the first officer home. He has a lock and begins to transport, but before the sequence can cycle the station vanishes in to the rift and O’Brien loses the lock–and Riker.
Picard reminds the crew that Will isn’t dead yet. Just lost. He may still be alive in that rift and its up to the crew of the Enterprise to get him back. He calls for a meeting in the observation lounge.
Riker finds himself still alive and breathing inside the research station inside the rift. The colors are slightly different though. Like a bad dream.
He tries to hail the Enterprise but fails. Will starts to think he may very well live out the rest of his life completely alone.
He hears a sound coming down the hall and moves toward it. It almost sounds like it could be… Voices? Here?
In 10 forward, Thadiun Okona is still hanging around being a pest. He talks to Guinan about the loss of Will and says under different circumstances he might have become the same man.
They both share a sense of adventure, of humor, and even a particular love of ladies.
Worf steps up behind Okona and grabs the man by his neck. Riker is not dead and how dare Okona act otherwise!
Geordi and Guinan convince Worf to let Okona go. Which he does by roughly throwing the man to the floor before storming away.
Riker follows the sounds through the station until he finally comes upon a trio of spectral figures. Will introduces himself and says he arrived by accident.
The figures respond they are all there by accident. No one is from this place (with a very strongly implied “you idiot”). They explain they’re from the “real world” just like Will, but after a time in this place their bodies began to lose solid form. It got to a point where they couldn’t even eat anymore because they couldn’t pick up any food.
The beings tell Riker that he will become like them over time. He says maybe it’s not too late to escape and even for them to return to what they once were.
The spectres call him mad. There’s no way to escape this place! Will says his friends are out there and the ghosts spit back “dont you think we had friends as well?”
Will continues to argue his case. His friends are different. And so is he. He won’t give up that easily. The ghosts consider him either stubborn or stupid. And certainly full of himself.
They tell Riker that he will learn eventually. He is stuck there. For-eh-ver
This story is full of a lot of people being full of themselves. From Jonas to Will to Okona each of them shows a slightly different version of seeing themselves as important. The doctor is too important to die. Okona is so important Will’s “death” is a part of his own story. And Will is the hero who can’t die. Or won’t.
I certainly see how the ghosts could see Will as being just some high and mighty asshole. But he’s right. They don’t know his friends like we do.
This letter to the editor brings up an interesting question:
What do you think? 🖖