Landen Lucas finished programming the replicator in his quarters. He uploaded the final recipe and flipped through the pages, trying to decide what meal he wanted to try first.
"Hmm… Chicken Tartare… Andouille Gumbo… Mustard Roasted Salmon… Yeah, that sounds pretty good. Computer, please make me the Mustard Roasted Salmon." The replicator whirred for a few seconds and his meal was ready to eat. He cut a piece of the fish and tasted it. He immediately spit it out and hit his comm-log.
"H.U.D.Y.! What in the hell is in this recipe?" he shouted. H.U.D.Y., which stood for High Utilization Dominance Yobibyte, was an artificial life-form based on intelligence sub-routines that evolved within the ship's computer. It now existed as an implant in Landen's conscious.
"I AM NOT HERE TO MAKE YOUR LIFE EASY, LANDEN LUCAS. I EXIST TO STRENGTHEN YOU," H.U.D.Y.'s voice droned into the young ensign's ears. "YOU WILL CONSUME THIS MEAL OR THERE WILL BE CALISTHENIC PUNISHMENTS." Landen immediately started to fork the food into his mouth. H.U.D.Y. was not to be trifled with. After eating, he showered, climbed into bed, and drifted off to sleep.
He was awakened by a loud explosion. He heard Commander Tharpe's voice over the intercom system. "All officers to the bridge! We have a full Red Alert!" He threw on his uniform and made his way towards the bridge. As he turned down the last corridor, there was another blast. He drifted into unconsciousness.
When he came to, he was strapped to a table in a strange ship. The lining of the ship was a grotesque mixture of black and gold. It stank to high heaven. He struggled against his restraints and noticed a sharp pain in both of the insides of his elbows. Landen's arms had multiple puncture wounds, as if several needles had been injected into him. His shock was cut short, however, when he heard a door open behind him. Footsteps rang out as someone stalked behind the table where he was restrained. He couldn't see his captor, but he could hear its voice.
"So you have finally awakened, Ensign Landen Lucas," the voice said.
"Who are you! Why have you kidnapped and restrained me?" Landen shouted.
"We will get to that, young Lucas. First, I must ask you, how long have you been working with the one called 'H.U.D.Y.'?" Landen's mind raced. How could this strange alien life form know about the H.U.D.Y. system? It was top secret to only himself and the Starfleet officers who helped design it, and most of them were deceased. The alien spoke again. "We've been bribing Starfleet officers to reveal information about this new training system. We hope to learn from it. We hope to benefit from it."
"Who sold us out? Tell me!" screamed Landen.
The alien took a few steps and then spoke. "I suppose I could tell you. It doesn't matter now, since we will be disposing you shortly. It was Lieutenants Giddens and Padgett."
Landen cursed under his breath. "What are your plans? Tell me what's going on here!" The figure took a few more steps, and circled around in front of Landen. It moved into the light and revealed itself. Landen gasped.
The creature was hideous. Giant ears, a protruding forehead, and sharpened teeth.
"We are the Mizzourengi," hissed the creature. "And I am called 'Pressey.' We have everything we need to steal the secrets of H.U.D.Y. from you! Soon we will be rich beyond our wildest imaginations! We'll be able to buy like so much Space-Meth! Ha ha ha ha!" the creature laughed.
"That's what you think. You see, H.U.D.Y. has formed a bond with my particular brain pattern. She can't exist outside of my body."
"Oh, we've thought of that. Sacul! Enter!" A door opened slowly across the room. Inch by inch, a figure was revealed. When he stepped into the light, Landen realized who he was looking at… It was… Himself. The Mizzourengi must have cloned him while he was out. That explained the track marks in his arm.
"I am Sacul. I exist to serve the Mizzourengi. I am their servant," the clone said. Landen considered him further. He was slightly frailer, slightly weaker than the original. It was clear that his version of H.U.D.Y. was a weak replica.
"You'll never get away with this. Starfleet will save me," Landen spat at Pressey.
"You're wrong, Landen. We didn't just clone you once, we cloned you three times. The third one we immediately killed and planted on your precious Starfleet ship! Once again, the ingenuity of the Mizzourengi has proven to be… Most profitable!" the little creature giggled. "Now, Sacul, kill this… This… Hu-mahn!" Sacul moved forward and opened his hands to choke the life out of Landen. As he placed his hands on Landen, though, a beam of light penetrated the chamber.
Space and time distorted, and they glimpsed through what appeared to be a portal. There was an extremely tall humanoid figure on the other side. He too could see the portal, and he walked through it. The Mizzourengi called Pressey ran away as fast as he could. Sacul ran towards the figure and attempted to strike him. The tall figure grabbed both of his arms and broke them. Landen thought to himself, "That guy clearly hasn't been training with H.U.D.Y…" After tossing the poor Landen Lucas clone across the room and approached Landen, who was still restrained on the chair. He had a strange computer apparatus attached to his face. He opened his mouth.
"I am Jocutus of Em-borg. You will respond to my questions…"
TO BE CONTINUED...