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Alex Blair

LtCmdr Rennyn - Max Alpha: The Hammer of Bajor

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((USS Apollo-A, Holodeck))

::On a low, white couch in a large, brightly-lit room, all clean lines and sophisticated sparseness, no windows, no doors to be seen, Ren Rennyn sat, one leg crossed ankle to knee over the other, his right arm draped casually on the back of the couch, his left holding a glass of scotch, good, decent scotch, by the standards of replicated synthehol, anyway.::

::He tried not to giggle and failed.::

::Ren was in a holo-program called "Max Alpha," currently set for Chapter Three. Introduced to the game by his brother-in-law Maren, he'd finished the first two chapters already, and, after nearly a year of anticipation, had at last returned to it. In character, ready and primed, he waited until the chapter's opening narration, his favorite part of the program, began. The computerized narrator's brassy-toned, nasally voice boomed out somewhere above him.::

Narrator: Deep space. Region of mystery, of duplicity and danger, and, known only to a handful of the very best sort of people, home to Max Alpha: The Galaxy's Greatest Secret Agent!

::Ren s[...]ed, trying to keep a serious face as Max Alpha.::

Narrator: Having defeated the duplicitous denizens of Dnarko, and crushed the criminal capers of the cruel Comet King, Max Alpha sits serenely, soaking silently in serious speculation.

::He couldn't take it -- Ren laughed out loud, but quickly tried to stifle his impulse.::

Rennyn: Sorry. Serious speculation.

Narrator: Soon the universe will face another incredible danger. Its only hope -- Max Alpha: The Galaxy's Greatest Secret Agent!

::Just then, a door, which had been invisible when closed, opened in the wall behind him. In came a being about a meter in height. It had three stubby legs on a long torso, two very large yellow eyes in a bulbous head, and skin a color that resembled old pea soup. ::

Narrator: ...and his assistant, 86.

Rennyn: Good afternoon, 86.

86: Yoik!

::It was a strange interjection the meaning of which Ren hadn't deciphered in the first two chapters. 86 scrambled around the couch, his breath ragged from running.::

86: We've got ...incoming, sir! Control wants you... straight away!

Rennyn: Well, put her on the screen.

86: Yes, sir... hold on, and I'll just... I'll just get my breath back... Maybe have a bit of a rest...

Rennyn: 86! Control is waiting.

86: Oh, yes, sir!

::86 scrambled about again, and the viewscreen, invisible when inactive, was projected in front of them, seeming to float in the air. On it was a very old woman, a Terran, white hair elaborately piled high. She was tiny, shriveled and age-spotted, yet looked as though she might instantly snap the neck of any person who crossed her.::

Control: Good afternoon, Alpha.

Rennyn: Hello, Control. How's the weather where you are?

::She was his only contact at i3, the interplanetary agency Max Alpha worked for, but they had never met in person, and though he had his guesses, he had never learned Control's whereabouts.::

Control: You'll never know. As a deep space agent, Alpha, you'll never meet me or any of your superiors face to face. You are assigned missions by me and expected to carry them out without question.

Rennyn: I've never failed you.

::In two chapters, he hadn't.::

Control: You are our top agent. That's why I'm contacting you now - your next mission is of vital importance, and we couldn't assign it to anyone else. Have you heard of the Hammer of Bajor?

::Ren was surprised. As a matter of fact, he had.::

Rennyn: As a matter of fact, I have. A supposed archaeological relic that was rumored to be lost some ages ago. It was said to have great power--

Control: Enough to destroy a small planet, perhaps. Before its disappearance, it was closely guarded by the Vedek Assembly, who believed that in the wrong hands, it could cause widespread panic and destruction. And now it has been recovered.

86: Oh, well that's alright then, isn't it. Good job it was recovered, before it fell in the wrong hands.

::Ren's bemused look at 86's mistake was withered by Control's typical annoyance at the interruption.::

Control: No, 86. It was recovered BY the wrong hands.

86: No! You don't mean...?

Control: Yes...

::All three said it together.::

"Commandant X!"

Rennyn: But if Commandant X has the Hammer of Bajor...

Control: He controls a vast power. He can ransom entire planets, one after another, and there's nothing we can do to stop him.

Rennyn: Oh, yes there is! We're going to get the Hammer back before the Commandant can use it.

::86 blinked.::

86: Uhm... "We"?

Control: Good luck to you, Alpha. i3 are counting on you.

Rennyn: We'll do our best, Control.

86: "WE"??

Control: Control out.

::The screen blinked off, again fading to blend in with the wall. Ren jumped to his feet, opening the invisible door, ready to dash out of the room. Max Alpha was ready for action.::

Rennyn: Come on, 86. We've got work to do!

86: Uhm, yes, coming, sir. Only, we're going to have to talk about your use of pronouns, I feel...

SOON:

::Despite his less desirable qualities - cowardice, cowering, codependence - 86 was more than extremely useful. He hailed from Tlbx, a world where technological know-how is taught from birth; on a planet full of outrageously brilliant technologists, 86 was considered one of the best and brightest.::

::At age 15, 86 -- a code name, as his own name was too technical to be pronounced -- invented a new transporter so advanced, the Federation's highest ranking personages deemed its existence too dangerous to be known to the universe at large. He'd sold the patent to i3 in exchange for a permanent job for life. On a planet full of outrageously brilliant technologists, job security was next to godliness.::

::The transporter pad in Max Alpha and 86's Secret Deep Space Headquarters was one of a kind, the only model ever built from 86's original schematic, drawn on the back of his algebra notebook during 7th grade study hall. The pad was outwardly indistinguishable from any standard Federation equipment, but its inner workings had a key difference. It allowed instant transportation to any location in the universe, no matter the distance.::

Rennyn: oO Too bad real transporters can't be like this. Would sure save on travel time. Maybe they'd let me commute to work from Arnmere. Oo

::The souped up transporter in the Max Alpha game was an important plot device, but of course could never exist in the real world. You'd never know what Borg or something would suddenly appear standing behind you. Horrifying thought.::

::86 interrupted his thoughts from the control panel.::

86: Uhm, the coordinates are set, sir. We'll beam directly into Commandant X's top secret headquarters!

Rennyn: But how do you know where it is?

86: Luckily I invented a Secret Headquarters Of Villainous Evildoers Locator.

Rennyn: That ought to dig something up.

86: It has! Commandant X is hiding out on the dark side of a moon of Raidok, called Dishpan by the locals.

Rennyn: I've been to Dishpan City. Turns out their main industry is laundry.

86: That's funny.

Rennyn: Well, it was the lighter side of the moon.

86: Uhm, sir, you do realize that every side is the light side at some point?

Rennyn: Yes, well, I don't think the Raidokians realized that. They mix their darks and their lights.

::Ren stepped onto the transporter pad and 86 scrambled on next to him.::

Rennyn: Ready, 86?

86: Ready, sir!

Rennyn: Then beam us out.

::At a tap of one of 86's singularly long digits, the amazing transporter hummed into action, whisking their molecules away with uncommon magic.::

THEN, IN THE SECRET HEADQUARTERS OF COMMANDANT X:

86: I've beamed us in it!

::They were in a sort of warehouse, all full of packing crates, and a row of nine Tellarites in ninja costume stood menacingly before them. Ren smiled.::

Rennyn: Looks like we've come to the right place. Who but Commandant X would think of something as dastardly as ninja Tellarites?

86: I'll tell ya right!

::86 was always trying to quip with the big leagues.::

Rennyn: That will be quite enough, 86.

86: Sorry, sir.

Rennyn: Okay, boys! Come and get it!

::The nine ninja Tellarites reacted to Ren's call, and, slowly at first, began to close in threateningly.::

::This was the physical workout portion of the game, and Ren had programmed his settings on the lower side for strength and fighting skill. Not that he didn't want the physical challenge, necessarily, but he'd tried a harder setting on the first chapter to ill effect. Max Alpha was supposed to be a master of martial arts, and Ren learned quickly he would have to build up his skills. He was already out of practice on his kaigut. This time through was more of a fun run.::

::Two Tellarites advanced on him at once, and he sidestepped, cracking their heads together. A third came at him and gracefully obliged as Ren flipped him on his back.::

Rennyn: Maybe I set it too easy, these guys are pushovers. Whoa--!

::He ducked as two metal stars went whizzing past his head.::

Rennyn: 86! They're armed!

86: Got that memo!! Yoik!

::The little guy went clattering past, chased by a ninja with two swords. The way his three stubby legs worked furiously under his long torso, his tiny arms flailing helplessly toward the sky, 86 resembled a large, frightened celery stalk.

Rennyn: Keep running, 86! I have an idea!

86: No problem, sir! Not stopping!!

::The fleeing genius shrieked, scrambling around a stack of crates, three ninjas now in pursuit.::

::Ren came about as another ninja tried to attack, only to find itself slammed headfirst into a wall in a signature Max Alpha move. A whirling kick knocked another to the floor.::

::Quickly, Ren scaled the nearest crates, his goal in sight. Above him was a catwalk that ran around the entire room. If only he could reach it, the plan would come together. He jumped from one stack to the next. Below him, 86 continued to outrun his pursuers.::

86: Doing fine, sir!

::While 86 continued to panic, only one more stack of crates needed climbing, and Ren was near the railing. It was just close enough to grip the edge at a jump. He did and, dangling from the side, swung himself up to the platform.::

::In the back of his mind, Ren did a quick ninja count. He'd put five on the floor, and could see three chasing 86. But wasn't there a ninth ninj--::

Rennyn: --Aaaa!

::A flying kick caught him square in the back. He fell forward to the catwalk deck then instantly flipped himself over, catching his attacker's second pass with his feet, launching him aside before leaping to the ready.::

::The ninja, recovered, faced him off squarely, the two gauging each other before their next attack. This ninja was different to the others, taller, with a hood that covered all but his hard eyes, ice blue. Then Ren noticed - this one's hands had five fingers each, and under that hood, there was no room for a snout.

Rennyn: You're not a Tellarite!

::A deep and resonant laugh answered him, sending a chill through Ren's body.::

Ninja: You are correct, Max Alpha, I am not one of the porcine brood. Behold, it is I... Commandant X!

::The Commandant threw back his hood dramatically, revealing a face so horrifyingly horrible, so terrifically terrifying, so blindingly blood-curdling...

Rennyn: oO Oh, actually. He's sort of handsome. Oo

::Ren was caught off-guard. Commandant X had pulled all the evil strings in the first two chapters, but Ren hadn't seen his face until now, Terran-looking, dark hair, nice features, about Ren's age.::

Rennyn: You know you're really sort of dreamy.

::Just a little crazy in those crisp, cold eyes.::

Commandant X: You are dreaming to think you can stop me, Max Alpha! Ninjas -- to me!

::At the Commandant's call, two of the Tellarites, appearing suddenly behind Ren, pulled the hero into their grip. Ren struggled, but couldn't break free.::

Commandant X: What now, Max Alpha?

::The Commandant's voice was deep, highly cultured, and accented with a certain lack of sanity.::

Commandant X: How do you like the taste of defeat?

Rennyn: I prefer the rinds, thanks.

Commandant X: Shut him up!

::The ninjas obediently grabbed Ren's head and held his jaw closed. The Commandant's hand emerged from a pocket in his black ninja garb to reveal a round slice of metal that reminded Ren of an ugly paperweight. But even from a short two meters away, Ren could hear the object humming with energy.::

Commandant X: You will never escape me, Max Alpha. I wield the Hammer of Bajor, a power mightier than planets. With this device in my control, I will become the supreme ruler of this galaxy. All worlds will bow to ME!!

Rennyn: Mourm mnmrambl.

Commandant X: What?

::At a flick of Commandant X's hand, the ninjas released Ren's mouth.::

Rennyn: You're unstable.

Commandant X: How dare you...

::The Commandant glowered. He took several steps toward Ren, coming very close, until his face was only inches from Ren's own. Each syllable crackled with contempt.::

Commandant X: Max Alpha. What are you to so insult the great Commandant X!?

::Ren spoke softly, cajolingly, smiling a gentle smile.::

Rennyn: Oh, now, don't take offense, handsome. I didn't mean you, exactly. I meant your catwalk. You see, when I climbed up here, I rigged the platform we're standing on to break apart at my assistant's command. Marvelous inventor, he is, and it's a wonder what can be done with magnetic nanotechnology. If you don't release me, or if you try to move from this section of the deck, you'll have an awfully long fall to the ground.

Commandant X: As will you, Galaxy's Greatest Gobhead.

Rennyn: Ah. But you see, I happen to have antigravity shoes in my favor. Isn't that right, 86?

::Commandant X, Ren, and the two Tellarites who held him looked down to the ground, where 86 perched proudly on a pile of passed-out porkers. He waved his control mechanism above his head.::

86: Ready when you are, sir!

Rennyn: What will it be, Commandant? Will you keep the Hammer and drive your head into the floor below? Or will you tap out?

::The Commandant fumed.::

Commandant X: I will never give in. I will never--!!

Rennyn: 86! Now!

::At the press of a button on 86's control mechanism, the deck beneath Ren and the Commandant began to tremble. The Tellarite ninjas released Ren, jumping away to safety with unnecessary backflips. Commandant X yelled after them in a fury.::

Commandant X: You fools! Attend me!

Rennyn: Sorry to hog all the attention, but I really must fly.

::At the last word, Ren rose into the air on his antigrav shoes as the floor caved underneath Commandant X, sections of deck crashing toward the ground below. The Commandant clung desperately to a bit of railing that remained attached to the wall. Ren came alongside him, hovering in midair.::

Rennyn: Be a good Commandant and give me the Hammer.

Commandant X: Never!

Rennyn: Pretty please? I promise to rescue you if you do.

Commandant X: I should rather plummet to my death!

Rennyn: And waste that pretty face? I don't think so.

::Floating lower, he grabbed the Commandant by the ankles, tore him from the wall, and took him toward the floor, where 86 stood waiting. He dangled the Commandant above his little pal, shaking the evildoer a little.::

Rennyn: Take it from him!

::86 jumped, trying for the Hammer, which Commandant X clutched to his chest.::

Commandant X: No! Get away, you meddling mechanic!

Rennyn: Hurry it up, 86! He's kind of heavy.

86: He IS the heavy, sir.

Rennyn: Keep trying on the puns, buddy. Okay, now who's had enough?

::Ren dropped Commandant X to the floor as 86 skittered out of the way. The Commandant got to his feet, but before he could run, Ren threw a right hook that sent him to the ground faster than a Tellarite ninja fleeing an evil hideout. The Commandant was out cold.::

86: Well done, sir!

::Ren knelt over the villain, prying the Hammer of Bajor carefully from the fallen fiend's hand.::

Rennyn: Cheer up, handsome. Better luck next time.

::He turned from the comatose criminal to 86, tossing the powerful Hammer casually in the air, then coolly catching it again.::

Rennyn: Let's go home.

BACK AT THE SECRET DEEP SPACE HEADQUARTERS OF 86 AND MAX ALPHA:

::Control loomed over them on the viewscreen, her lips curled ever so slightly in the beginnings of a smile.::

Control: Congratulations, Alpha, you've done it again. With Commandant X and his ninjas in the custody of Dishpan's authorities, we're all safe again.

Rennyn: Yes, I thought he'd be secure in Dishpan hands.

Control: Let's hope he doesn't slip away.

::86 looked confused.::

86: My only question is... Why Tellarite ninjas? I mean of all the henchmen the Commandant could have hired.

::Ren thought about it carefully.::

Rennyn: I suppose he wanted to find a way to really put the ham in Hammer.

::86 laughed a sound like a squeaking balloon.::

86: Oh yes, I see. That hits it rather on the head.

Rennyn: Yes, well, I thought I'd take my best swing at it.

86: You've really driven it home, sir.

::Control interrupted with an uncharacteristic smirk.::

Control: Now, gentlemen, no need to keep pounding away at it.

::86 leaped up exuberantly.::

86: Nailed it, ma'am!

::Ren smiled proudly. 86 was finally improving on his puns.::

::Control's face turned serious again. Time for her signature sendoff, Ren knew, which officially ended each chapter.::

Control: You've saved the universe again, Max Alpha. Rest well -- your next adventure is coming soon. Control out!

::The screen blinked away and Ren turned to 86.

Rennyn: Well done today, 86. You're making progress.

86: Thank you, sir. Shall I fix us a drink, sir?

Rennyn: Please.

::Ren watched 86 go out the invisible door, and supposed it was time to call up an invisible door of his own. He'd had fun, but it was almost time to get back to work.::

Rennyn: Computer, arch.

::That familiar sound of the door to reality greeted him. With one last glance at Max Alpha's hideaway, Ren walked out to rejoin the Apollo, an enormous grin on his face as he looked forward to his next exciting adventure.::


LtCmdr Ren Rennyn
Ops Officer
USS Apollo-A, NCC-71669
A239102RR0

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