- Text Size +

Chapter Notes: Anything you recognize from Custom Robo or Starfox is (c) Nintendo. Don't sue, I just thought it would be AWESOME to reference them.

Also, the holocube... Y'all remember that cube-looking thing they stored Moriarty's program on in "Ship in a Bottle?" That's basically what the cube is supposed to be... just a storage device for large programs.

Data pointed out many of the ship's facilities on the way to the guest quarters. Katina tried to make mental notes of where everything was as she hurried to keep up with Data. Eventually they arrived at the guest quarters. Katina stepped inside as Data stood to the side.

"Whoa!" she exclaimed, "This room is huge! I wasn't expecting something as nice as this!" She set her bags down on the bed and looked around as Data entered.

"The replicator is over here," he said, pointing it out. "Since you will be with us for a while we will issue you a combadge. Until you receive one you will need to use the communications panel above the replicator if you wish to contact anyone on the ship from here."

"I see," she said. She walked over and checked to see if she could reach the panel. She could.

"The holodecks, gymnasium, and Ten Forward are available to you whenever you wish to visit them. Do you have any questions?" Data asked.

"Not right now. I'll call you on the com panel if I need anything. I'm probably just going to go explore a bit myself and then head to the holodeck. Thanks, though," she said.

"Very well, I will leave you for now," Data nodded, making for the door, "I have a meeting I must attend."

"Bye," Katina waved as Data left.

All the senior staff gathered in the Observation Lounge for a meeting regarding their current mission. Not many were privy to the details of Katina's visit, and this briefing was to let them know what was going on.

Data was the last to arrive, but he was still on time. "Is Katina settling in all right?" Picard asked as Data sat down.

"She seems to be adjusting well," Data replied.

"Good," Picard nodded, "Well, I believe we are all here to find out why we are on this mission. As most of you know, Katina's grandfather is General John Klopford of the planet Noz in the Belfast system. That particular planet has continuously declined to join the Federation, preferring instead to remain allies in time of war.

"The position of General is a hereditary position. Long ago, when the planet was discovered by James Klopford, the current General's great grandfather, he helped the native Noznians in a military crisis. He was then bestowed with a gift, giving him and his descendants unparalleled tactical ability and weapons skills, in addition to the unique ability to fire beams of energy out of a sword. The abilities would continue to be passed down as long as a descendant of the Noznian royal bloodline remained in power. Since then, each member of the Klopford family has served as the General of the planet's military.

"John Klopford had two children who could possibly succeed him. One was Katina's mother, who died while giving birth. The other is Peter Klopford, Katina's uncle. Reports have recently indicated that he may have gone missing along with two of his flight students during a training mission in the Lylat system. If this is truly the case, Katina is the only one left who can succeed her grandfather as the next General. She is not to be told this until she arrives on Noz."

Beverly immediately began to object. "But she's so young!" she exclaimed, "There's no way a 15 year old girl can be asked to take on this sort of responsibility!"

"The age of majority on Noz is 10 Earth years, which is the equivalent of 30 Noznian years," Data pointed out. "Many children, even human children, voluntarily join the planet's armed forces at that age, based on an ancient prophecy that the planet will one day be saved by children. This is not unusual for them."

"Klingons learn the ways of the warrior at a very young age as well," Worf commented, "It is most efficient to begin their training while they are still young and impressionable."

"But why not at least tell her what's going on?" Beverly asked.

"I have sensed no anxiety from her so far," Deanna said, "In fact she seems rather calm, even happy. Perhaps her grandfather thinks it is better this way?"

"Noz is currently at war with their neighboring planet in the system, Wardon. If General Klopford were to die in battle, they would need a new General right away," Picard continued, "They have no ships of their own available at the moment to get her themselves so they've asked Starfleet to help. As part of the agreement, Starfleet may continue to send us on a few routine missions along the way since little is known about the region, but nothing dangerous. They currently anticipate no problems for now, so they are allowing us to take as much time as necessary. It is anticipated we will reach Noz in approximately a month and a half. Does anyone have any questions?"

Beverly was about to state her objection again, but kept quiet this time. The rest of the room was quiet too.

"Very well," Picard said, getting up, "Remember: we are all under orders to not tell Katina ANY of this, not even the fact that her uncle has gone missing. Her grandfather will brief her when she arrives. In the meantime, we are to make sure she is safe and comfortable here. Dismissed."

Everyone got up and left the room to go to their respective places.

--------

The next day, Data walked by the holodeck and saw Katina standing outside the door with a holocube in her hand, looking at the panels as though confused. "Is there something you need help with?" Data asked.

"Yeah, I can't figure out where I'm supposed to put this holocube," Katina said, "It has one of my favorite programs on it and I figured it would be compatible with the holodecks here, too."

"There are a multitude of programs available in the system already," Data pointed out, "May I ask what program you have on there?"

"Oh, it's a program my friend sent me," Katina explained, "Have you heard of 'Project Arcade?'"

"I am not familiar with that project," Data replied.

"One of my dad's friends is part of it," Katina said, "They're trying to remake classic 20th century video games for use on holodecks. He sends me copies of all the new ones and asks for feedback, so I guess that makes me a beta tester. I promise none of these have viruses or glitches, they do extensive testing before allowing the games to be used outside."

"The auxiliary data storage port is located behind that panel," Data said, pointing to a removable panel in the wall.

Katina removed the panel and located where the holocube went. "Thanks!" she exclaimed, "Care to join me? Or are you on duty right now?"

"I would be glad to join you," Data replied, "The project you mentioned sounds most intriguing."

"Well it's certainly a lot of fun," Katina said, "The game I've got on here is called 'Custom Robo.' Ever heard of it?"

Data paused for a moment, searching his databanks for any information. "I do not believe I have," he replied, following Katina inside the holodeck.

"Well, you control these fighting robots called Custom Robos, and they have a lot of different parts you can use to customize them," Katina explained, "That's part of the strategy behind the game, picking the best parts. Then you fight your opponent. I think the way this version is set up is you ARE the robo and you gain all the abilities and firepower and stuff, like having a high tech suit of armor or something." She looked towards the middle of the holodeck. "Computer," she ordered, "Run program 'Custom Robo' from the holocube in port 1. Setup for two players."

As soon as she gave the order, the holodeck walls changed, but not much. They were now a blue grid on a light blue surface. Two panels were floating in midair opposite each other with a list of options for customizing the robos. Katina walked to one of the panels and Data walked to the other. "Here's where you pick your parts," Katina explained.

Data looked at the options and selected one of the standard Shining Fighter models for his robo. The stats were pretty even. When he made the selection, the robo appeared in front of him. As he picked weapons (a Dragon gun, Tomahawk bomb, and Spider pod) and legs (ones that boosted speed) for the robo, the selected parts appeared on the robo's body. "How do I command my robo in battle?" Data asked.

"That's just a preview," Katina explained, picking parts for her own robo. Hers almost resembled a fighter jet that had sprouted legs and arms and a head. "What's gonna happen is when the battle starts, the robo and gear appear ON you, so basically you're inside it. Then you simply jump or fire or whatever. It's pretty self-explanatory, though I might need to teach you a few techniques when we get in there. Are you ready?"

"Yes," Data nodded.

"Ok!" Katina exclaimed, making one final selection before hitting a red button on her panel.

The walls vanished, and they were on a gridded floor in an area fenced by energy beams. There were various obstacles scattered around, like walls or boxes. Data could not see his robo or Katina, then he realized he was seeing things through the eyes of his robo. He held out an arm and saw his robo's arm, with a gun at the end. He squeezed his hand and the gun fired a round that looked like a flaming dragon head which roared as it flew. He jumped, and realized he could jump much higher than was possible following the normal laws of physics. He landed on top of a wall and looked around for Katina's robo. He spotted it flying in a circle around the arena. The robo landed beside him and spoke, but it was Katina's voice that came out.

"Cool, huh?" she asked.

"It is quite fascinating," Data replied, "You are inside your robo as well?"

"Yep!" Katina nodded. Well, the robo nodded.

"What is the object of the game?" Data asked.

"We fight till one of us loses all our Hit Points," Katina explained, "Also, if you get hit too much too quickly your robo will overload and you'll be knocked down for a moment and unable to move. When you get back up again you can continue fighting."

"And how were you flying around earlier?" Data asked.

"That's how my robo does an air dash. Your robo can air dash too, but it can't fly like that or shoot while doing so. Mine can. Just jump again while in midair," Katina explained.

Data jumped high, and then jumped again to the side, making his robo do a quick air dash. He landed behind another wall.

"Good!" Katina exclaimed. She flew her robo to the opposite corner. "I'll count to three, and then we can start fighting, all right? One… two… three!"

Data came out from behind the wall and Katina immediately took to the air. Data fired his gun at Katina and it homed in on her, but the round flew too slowly and she dodged it while continuing to fly around the arena. Meanwhile, she fired eight quick rounds from her gun straight at Data before landing, since he hadn't moved while firing his own gun at Katina. Data could see from the indicator on the HUD of his robo that the shots had taken a considerable amount of Hit Points, and he felt briefly immobilized as each round hit him. Katina quickly fired the eight shots again, and all of them hit, overloading Data's robo. He collapsed to the ground while Katina continued firing. After a brief downtime in which he sustained even more damage, Data got back up and noticed the shots bounced right off since he was temporarily invincible. He fired a homing round at Katina just as she took to the air again and this one hit, knocking her down. When she got back up she started flying in circles again. Data disrupted this with another shot. He fired again as quickly as the gun would allow, but Katina landed behind a wall. She jumped on top of the wall and fired her gun at Data again, almost overloading his robo. He quickly took cover behind a box, firing at Katina before he was hidden. The dragon shot made contact and Katina fell off the wall. She got back up and flew in circles again, dodging another shot from Data and sending in two Dolphin pods. The pods exploded near Data, knocking his robo into the air. Katina fired her gun again and the eight rounds overloaded Data's robo once more. With her next shot, she finished off the rest of Data's Hit Points.

The arena and robos disappeared, and they were back in the setup room. A computer voice proclaimed "Player one is victorious." Data was still lying on the ground but got back up quickly and straightened his uniform.

"You are quite skilled at this game," Data said.

"Thanks," Katina replied, "You're pretty good for a beginner. You should definitely try using your bombs or pods more often, and air dash a lot more often too. Wanna play another round?"

Before Data could answer, his combadge interrupted. "Crusher to Data," said Beverly's voice.

"Data here," he replied, tapping his combadge.

"Is Katina with you?" Beverly asked.

"Yes, she is here," Data confirmed.

"Since she's going to be here for a while, she needs to come in for a physical," Beverly said, "Could you send her to sickbay?"

"I heard ya, doctor," Katina yelled so she could be overheard, "I'll be over there soon."

"Alright, Crusher out." The comlink closed.

"It would appear we will have to postpone our rematch," Data said.

"Alright," Katina sighed, "Computer, end program."

The holodeck walls went blank. Katina walked to the arch and removed her cube, replacing the panel she had removed earlier. She turned around and looked at Data. "Uh, where's sickbay?" she asked.

"I will escort you," Data said, and the two of them walked together towards sickbay.


You must login (register) to review.