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Part of USS Constitution: Wherefore Art Thou

Wherefore Art Thou – 8

USS Constitution (NCC-91701), Fabula Stretch, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78442.52
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In the holographic recreation of a bustling Verona street, the glow of simulated sunlight bathed Thaustin, who was portraying Romeo, in a warm embrace. As he stepped forward, a mixture of apprehension and excitement played across his features, though deep down, he couldn’t shake the feeling of silliness that came with performing this Shakespearean drama on the holodeck. This whole thing was absurd in his mind and he was quite surprised that the captain had agreed to go along with this. Doctor Uknare, who had been excited before their photonic visitors had arrived and taken over the ship’s system, had somehow managed to put together a short performance of the tragic love story. Between organising key scenes to making sure everyone looked the part, their chief medical officer had proven not only was she an exceptional physician but also an incredible director. 

Taking a deep breath and tugging on the very tight tights he now wore, Thaustin closed his eyes for a second before he stepped out into the scene. Uknare had programmed the holodeck to project the script she had adapted so her actors and actresses could see their words without the audience seeing them. Thaustin was certain there was no way he could remember everything he had to say. 

So far though, the crew of the Constitution appeared to be making their photonic guests happy with their performance. 

“Is the day so young?” Thaustin recited with exaggerated drama, his voice carrying a note of wonder. “To me, sad hours seem so long.”

At his side, Ethav, embodying the spirit of Mercutio, bounded into view, his energy infectious as he joined Thaustin in the scene. “Ah, my friend Romeo! Thou art smitten by Cupid’s arrow,” Ethav exclaimed with a twinkle in his eye, his words filled with both jest and caution. “But pray, what sadness makes your hours longer?”

Thaustin remained in character, playing the heartbroken teen. “Not having that, which makes my heart yearn. Not having the love I give returned to me.” 

On the other side of their performance, Commander Belire Kazlaf, playing the role of Tybalt, entered with her entourage, their presence began to cause havoc as they played the antagonists to the two already performing.  

“What, ho! You villains, play your part,” she declared, her voice carrying authority as she raised her holographic sword. “The streets of Verona will be torn apart!”

Thaustin, as Romeo, attempted to diffuse the tension, though a hint of amusement danced in his eyes, betraying his feelings of absurdity at the situation. He could see the same thing coming from Kazlaf, but on the other hand, he wondered if she was really enjoying it or just doing her job. 

“Peace, Tybalt, peace! The Prince hath warned us,” he implored with mock seriousness. “Another brawl, and harsh punishment we shall earn.”

Lieutenant T’Penni, embodying the role of the Prince, entered the scene. She spoke with an air of authority, her Vulcan demeanour lending gravitas to her words. T’Penni, like most of the senior staff who hadn’t been part of the original away team to meet the photonic lifeforms, had protested at the news they were being forced to play. Nevertheless, she finally saw the logic in ensuring the ship was saved and not destroyed. “These brawls have marred the streets of our good city. Peace, I declare!” she announced. “Henceforth, let any who disturbs it cease.”

As the tension simmered and the others moved away, Thaustin turned to Ethav, his expression a mix of excitement and self-consciousness as he confided about his character’s love. “Alas, Mercutio, I am struck by the love of love of which I have none returned,” he confessed with exaggerated melodrama, his hand placed dramatically over his heart. “Fair Rosaline, whose magnificence doth imbue my soul with tenderness and truth will not return the blessing I desire.”

Ethav listened intently, a mix of concern and amusement playing across his features. “Romeo, thou art a dreamer, lost in love,” Ethav remarked with a playful grin, his tone gentle yet teasing. “Forget to think of her is best.”

“O, Mercuitio, my friend, teach me how I will forget!”

“Come with my company tonight, a masquerade within our enemy’s home that will surely help you forget to think. More beauties to dance around you than ever before. They will help you, for this I am sure!” Ethav said out towards the crowd. 

As the scene faded, the photonic beings were shown to be captivated by the complex performance unfolding before them. Thaustin had noticed their leader being so engrossed with what was being said. He truly wondered though if they really understood it. 

The holodeck then transitioned to the grand mask party scene, the atmosphere buzzed with anticipation and joyfulness. Thaustin, still in character as Romeo felt a surge of mixed feelings coursing through him. His gaze swept across the room, searching for his dear friend Jarata, who was playing as Juliet. The moment he saw Jarata he wanted to chuckle at the ridiculous outfit he wore along with the long curly blonde wig. 

This was truly the strangest diplomatic effort he had ever made in his Starfleet career. 

With a nod of reassurance to himself, Thaustin approached Jarata, his steps filled with a mix of nervousness and eagerness.

“O, she doth teach the torches to burn brighter than the sun!” Thaustin exclaimed with pretend genuine awe, his voice resonating in the air as he laid eyes on Jarata being Juliet. He was trying so hard not to smirk. At the back of his mind, Thaustin knew that once this was over, the two of them would be laughing at this over drinks for some time. 

Jarata, clad in an elegant mask and costume, turned to face Thaustin, his eyes alight with curiosity and excitement. Their gazes met, and for a moment, time seemed to stand still as they performed an unspoken connection amidst the masquerade.

Ethav, still portraying Mercutio, watched with amusement as Thaustin and Rubon interacted, a knowing grin playing across his features. “Does she teach you to forget what you thought of your old love?”

“Is she not fairer than the twilight breeze clad in starry splendour?” Thaustin continued, his words filled with a mixture of admiration and adoration.

Rubon, in character as Juliet, grinned at Thaustin, his eyes twinkling behind his mask as he fluttered them in a flirtatious way. “Good sir, your flattery doth outshine the heaven above.” He adjusted his voice to be of a higher pitch. 

“My fair lady, will thy deny me the chance to hold thy hand?” Thaustin offered towards Jarata. He knew this next bit meant that he had to make it believe they were truly falling in love with each other for the first time, but Thaustin wasn’t too keen on it. 

“Good sir, you speak with lips like blushing pilgrims, but I grant thee a dance,” Jarata replied as he held out his hand towards Thaustin’s and took it. 

Instantly, Thaustin blushed and had to look away from their audience. He could see Jarata doing the same thing. To them both this was silly and ridiculous. 

Before long they moved onto the famous balcony scene. Once again Thaustin felt stupid in what he was wearing and what he was performing as. It didn’t help as he gazed upwards at the balcony to see Jarata standing there looking out. He was clutching his chest with both hands. 

“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou my newest love?” Jarata’s voice carried a soft, harmonious tone, filled with yearning and longing. 

Thaustin, like every other performer, had heard Uknare’s voice come over the intercom through a hidden earpiece they all wore. She had told them to pull themselves together and make it look real. Their photonic visitors were enjoying every moment and she didn’t want their stupid childish antics to spoil any chance of them getting the ship out of danger. It didn’t help that the captain was standing close by them, glaring at them all to be a bit more professional. It was hard to take him seriously as well, especially with what he wore.  

Looking at the words he would use for his response, Thaustin moved away from the prompter and stood under the balcony as he spoke. “Deny thy name,” he recited, his words echoing with sincerity. “And I’ll no longer will be of the Capulet house.” He paused as he turned around. “But wait, what yonder is this? It is the east, and Juliet is my sun. Arise my fair sun. Arise! For thou art as glorious!” 

Thaustin then started to climb up the nearby trellis to make his way towards Jarata. 

“O Romeo!” Jarata exclaimed as he held out his hands.

“O Juliet!” Thaustin shared back. 

The two then hugged one another, ending the scene. Thaustin felt Jarata chuckling to himself in their embrace. Straight away he started to do the same.


Out in the crowd, watching them, Captain McCallister stood with the photonic beings that had invaded his ship’s systems. The leader-being, confused by what they were watching turned to the captain. 

“I do not understand the humour here, is this not one of your greatest love stories?”

McCallister winced at that question. He, himself, was dressed for the role of Friar Laurence, and so he turned to the leader-being and smiled at her. “It is from my homeworld, but through every culture that we have encountered that has similar literature types, there is normally one that stands out. For example, within the Klingon Empire, it is the battle that Kahless, their greatest warrior, endures alongside his wife Lady Lukar at the Great Hall of Qam-Chee.”

“More carbon-based creatures?” The leader-being asked.

“Indeed,” McCallister acknowledged. “The Klingon Empire is one of our longest-serving allies.”

“And how does that story end?”

“Well, I believe they are almost killed by Kahless’ blood enemy,” McCallister replied. 

“More end of life for you?”

“Sadly, yes.” McCallister looked at the leader-being. He was hoping their dialogue wasn’t about to end. Especially as he knew he was up in the next scene. 

The leader-being grabbed him by the arm gently and asked him to clarify more. “Why is there so much end-of-life in your stories?” 

McCallister remained cool by her touch. “It’s what makes it a tragedy, a sad conclusion that their love cannot endure.”

“Romeo and Juliet will die?” She checked.

“They will, but their death brings an end to the fighting among their families,” McCallister explained. He was hoping now that he had not just damaged what good they had developed with their visitors so far. He had to turn his spoiler around to be more optimistic.  “Their tragedy brings some hope.”

“Like your own tragedy.” The leader-being said, looking upon McCallister seriously.

“What do you mean?” McCallister asked, confused by her words.

“By us remaining here in your container, we are bringing your death sooner.” She shared. “There is no room for hope.”

Wishing that he was finally breaking through with them, McCallister gestured towards Thaustin and Jarata to join him. He turned back to the leader-being. “Yes, as we said, if you do not relinquish control back to us, then this will be our own tragedy.”

She nodded with an apologetic look and turned to her own kind. “We should leave,” She turned to McCallister. “Thank you, captain.”

“You’re welcome?” McCallister said, still confused but almost relieved that their situation may have just been resolved. He was about to turn to Thaustin when all of the photonic beings appeared to vanish into thin air. 

“Is it over?” Thaustin asked.

“I hope so, this corset is squeezing the life out of me,” Jarata remarked as he tried to pull on his outfit to give him a bit more space around his chest area.  

“Bridge to Holodeck One,” spoke the gruff voice of Counsellor Oron.

Tapping his combadge, McCallister answered straight away. “Go ahead, Naef.”

“Sir, we are no longer detecting the photonic beings within our systems. Computer controls are starting to return to normal.”

“That’s great news! Once we have engine control, then set a course at the best possible speeds away from the pulsar. Get us some distance from it,” McCallister ordered. The sense of relief was etched into his tone.

“Aye, sir, bridge out.” 

At that point, everyone who had been cast had moved over to meet with the captain. They had all witnessed the exchange he had and were all wondering the same thing. What happened to them to convince their visitors to leave so soon?

“Did we just teach a new species some empathy?” Doctor Uknare asked the group.

“It is a possibility, doctor,” T’Penni remarked with a bewildered expression. “Their behaviour was erratic and very illogical.”

“Maybe it was their way of making first contact,” Kazlaf offered. 

“Maybe we were their first every first contact,” Jarata offered.

Thaustin nodded at his friend’s suggestion. “Rubon may be right. Maybe they didn’t know how to interact with us and saw this,” He pointed to the projection of Verona around them, “as the only way to try and communicate with us.”

“Whatever their intentions, I’m just glad this is over,” McCallister said with a heavy sigh. He turned to T’Penni and Ethav, “Lieutenants, make sure every system is repaired, I want this ship in a better state than it is now.”

“We’re on it, sir,” Ethav said with a smile before he and T’Penni made their way towards the exit of the holodeck. 

Turning to the others, “Let’s get out of here before they return, I’m more than eager to get back out of here.”

“But we didn’t finish the play,” Uknare complained. “Surely we can-”

“No!” Jarata and Thaustin said in unison.

McCallister and Kazlaf chuckled at their colleagues’ reaction. 

“Sorry, Kamra, but the curtain has finally been drawn on this stage,” Kazlaf said as she placed her hand on her friend’s left shoulder before they all left.