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Part of USS Constitution: Wherefore Art Thou

Wherefore Art Thou – 7

USS Constitution (NCC-91701), Fabula Stretch, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78440.9
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As the away team stepped into the holodeck, they found themselves amidst the vibrant scenery of Verona, the fictional setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The holographic characters bustled about, oblivious to the presence of the real-life Starfleet officers.

Thaustin glanced around the scene, his expression with frustration. Beside him stood Jarata, who wore a bemused expression.

“This is quite the spectacle,” Rubon remarked, gesturing toward the bustling streets of holographic Verona. “I’ve been on some away missions, but this takes the cake.”

Thaustin offered a wry smile. “Let’s hope it’s not the kind of cake that gives you indigestion.”

Doctor Uknare observed the scene with professional curiosity while sharing Jarata’s bemused look. “Who thought my holonovel would be the scene of our first contact situation?”

Lonar stood with her arms folded, her expression unreadable behind her stern features. “Impressive or not, we need to find a way to communicate with these photonic lifeforms and resolve this situation.” She had her tricorder in her hand, trying to determine where their mystery guests were.

“We’ll need to tread carefully,” Thaustin agreed, his gaze sweeping the holographic crowd for signs of the alien entities that disrupted the ship’s systems. “We don’t want to antagonise them further.”

As if in response to their conversation, a figure stepped forward from the crowd, adorned in theatrical attire and bearing an air of authority. The leader-being, a shimmering form of light and energy surrounded her, regarded the away team with curiosity. “Greetings.”

Thaustin stepped forward, his voice steady. “I’m Commander Thaustin of the Federation starship U-S-S Constitution. We come in peace.”

The leader-being appeared confused and turned to her group of followers, all appearing like the characters in the holonovel series. “Starship? Federation?”

Realising that this would be a tricky situation to open a dialogue, Thaustin stood up straight. “We belong to a vast galactic union of planets who all live together peacefully and share in knowledge. We travel to the stars via our starships, which you are on.”

“You must mean the container,” The leader-being remarked.

“Is that what you call it?” Uknare asked, smiling in a friendly way.

“Indeed,” The leader-being confirmed. She spread her arms out, “We detected this environment was suitable for us to survive in.”

“This is our holodeck,” Thaustin said. “Everything you see here is a simulation. None of it’s real.”

The leader-being looked at the others on the away team as she asked for more clarity on Thaustin’s words. “A simulation?”

“This is all a photonically-based projection.” Jarata shared, “None of it is real to us. We call it a holonovel.”

“A holonovel?” The leader-being questioned before speaking more. “We are photonic based.”

“And we are carbon-based,” Uknare added.

The leader-being looked them all up and down. “We are enjoying this,” she paused as she repeated Jarata’s phrase, “Holo-novel.”

Thaustin remained where he was as he replied to her. “We understand that you find enjoyment in this holonovel, but your presence here is causing disruptions to our ship’s systems. We need your cooperation to resolve this situation.”

The alien leader regarded Thaustin with intrigue, her form flickering with thought. “We do not want to cause harm, but we are intrigued by this holonovel.”

Uknare showed her pride in hearing that her planned production was something their visitors were interested in. “It is based on a famous production from the past. It is known as Romeo and Juliet and is a romantic tragedy.”

“When will it start?” The leader-being asked. Each question continued to build her interest in their current setting. 

Thaustin could see that these beings were unaware of what they were experiencing. They had to be delicate with this. “The production hasn’t started as we’ve not properly organised it. We must choose those who will act as the characters.”

“We were organising actors for each role before practising this performance,” Jarata added.

“Are you not the actors?” The leader-being asked.

Quickly beside her, the teenage-boy-being stepped forward. “Ah, the actors have spoken. Your roles in your production must start for us to understand further.” 

”Yes, you must begin at once.” The leader-being agreed. “We want to see this Romeo and Juliet,” She looked at both Thaustin and Jarata as she spoke. “Will you perform?”

Thaustin exchanged a glance with Jarata, who raised an eyebrow in amusement. “That’s compelling, but I’ve always fancied myself more of a supporting character,” Jarata said.

Thaustin suppressed a chuckle. “I’m sure you’d steal the scene, Rubon. But let’s focus on the bigger picture here.” He looked back at the leader-being. “Our ship, our container, is in danger while you are within our systems. Can we please negotiate a way that avoids it receiving any further damage and for us to find an alternative to continue this dialogue?”

The leader-being seemed both unconvinced and slightly annoyed, its form pulsating with amusement. “Sentient beings playing the roles of characters in a grand drama? How delightful! But if you seek our cooperation, you must participate fully in this production. We wish to understand this romantic tragedy.”

Thaustin sighed inwardly, realising they had little choice but to play along for now. “Very well. What do you propose?”

The leader-being’s form brightened with excitement. “Show us the production of Romeo and Juliet. Perform for us, and we shall consider releasing our hold on your container.”

Thaustin exchanged a resigned look with his team. Jarata was amused, as was Uknare, while Lomar didn’t appear confident with the idea. Eventually, Thaustin knew he had to give in. “Agreed. But we must have some say in how this unfolds.”

Jarata smirked. “I suppose I’ll have to brush up on my Shakespearean acting skills.”

“Shakespearean?” The leader-being questioned Jarata before returning to Thaustin. “Will you be this Romeo?” 

Thaustin paused and found himself speechless and mumbling his response. “I suppose?”

The leader-being quickly turned to Jarata, “And you, will you be Juliet?”

“Never thought I’d be playing Juliet,” Jarata smirked.

“Wait a second, I was meant to be directing this production,” Uknare stated. “Should we consult with the captain?”

The teenage-boy-being then stepped forward. “We have accessed your container’s records,” He then waved his hand across the air, and a PADD appeared with a long list on it. “Your fellow beings will play these roles, and then we will release your ship.”

“I don’t think we have a choice at who plays who, doctor,” Lonar said as Thaustin took the PADD and showed it to the others.

“To be Juliet or not to be Juliet,” Jarata said, trying his best to quote Shakespeare. “I’m not wearing any long dress,” He added.

Thaustin raised an eyebrow. “You’ll make a radiant Juliet, Rubon. Just don’t forget to practice your tragic soliloquies.”

Jarata grinned. “And you, Thaustin, will be the most dashing Romeo the Delta Quadrant has ever seen.”

With a sense of resignation, Thaustin and his team prepared to leave the holodeck, knowing that Captain McCallister may not be pleased to hear that his ship was being held hostage by beings that wanted his crew to put on a performance. Leading the team off the holodeck, Thaustin sighed heavily to himself as he knew that the tale of Romeo and Juliet was about to take on a new, unexpected twist in the depths of the Delta Quadrant.