Midoriya let out a stretching groan as he pulled himself out of a groggy stupor. The door chirped as he blindly fiddled around the nightstand, eyes still closed, trying to locate his combadge. He flopped his hand back to remove his bed-sheet cocoon but found it bunched up on the opposite corner of the bed. The cold air roused a wave of goosebumps to float over the surface of his skin. The door chirped again. It had been chirping for some time now, Midoriya inferred.
“Captain, your door is locked and you have not responded to my several attempts to contact you. Do you require assistance?” Todoroki’s voice could be heard through the door.
Midoriya tried to hop up, falling out of the bed, a yelp and a loud thud.
“Computer open door: Authorization Shoto 587!”
“Whoa, Whoa, wait Todoroki!”
The door whooshed open and the Vulcan stepped inside, scanning for Midoriya at eye level before glancing down. Butt in the air, legs still hugging the side of the bed, and torso splayed across the floor. The captain flushed a deep-scarlet as Todoroki cocked an eyebrow at the sight.
“Do you require assistance, Captain?” he repeated, taking a step towards him.
“No!.. no… I’m fine” Midoriya groaned, letting the rest of his body fall to join him on the floor before propping himself up and straightening his uniform.
“Your presence is required on the bridge.”
“R-right, I’ll be right there…”
Midoriya rummaged for his combadge, which had somehow made its way under a stack of books.
He was greeted on the bridge by a condensed diagram of the long-range scanner’s findings displayed on the viewscreen.
“Have you determined our location, Shoji?”
“That’s a work in progress, Captain. We’ve detected stars in several directions, but none of them correspond to any of our records. And to starboard, there’s still nothing in sight at all.”
Midoriya clenched his jaw.
“-and, that’s not all, Captain,” Shoji added, searching for words. “This place... It’s -- I don’t understand how-- but it’s a junkyard...a cemetery... There are ships littering space as far as our scanners can detect.”
Midoriya centered himself. There was hope. “Mr. Koda, hail them.”
“There’s no point Captain, none of them show any life signs.” Todoroki stated, taking the initiative to scan their surroundings “We appear to be trapped within the anomaly.”
He bit his lip. What was this place? This wasn’t a junkyard; it was lightyears across- probably larger, and that wasn’t the oddest part... The ships, however they had gotten there, came in an endless variety of classes, cultures, and time-periods; many of them familiar. Klingon birds-of-prey.. extremely-aged Vulcan cruisers.. even Jem-Hadar and Kazon vessels from the Gamma and Delta quadrants. Some flickered ominously in the darkness. None of them appeared to be operational. Nearby, a mass of clutter and lost craft orbited a small red planet, forming a ring.
A blip showed up on the scanner.
“Captain… I’m actually picking up a distress signal from the planet’s surface” Koda reported, pulling the image upon the viewscreen.
Midoriya swallowed thickly, hesitant to sink the crew deeper into this unfolding disaster.
“I guess we have no choice,” he muttered to himself, clearing his throat and straightening his posture
“TetsuTetsu, you're with me. Todoroki, you have the bridge” Midoriya tapped his combadge “Uraraka, meet me in the transporter room. We're going to the surface.”
They beamed down on the red planet in heavy environmental suits. It was a class-R world; no atmosphere, no water, no heat or light; completely inhospitable. It was a bone-chilling minus 243 degrees C, freezer burning the surface of the away team’s skin through the suits. Red minerals jutted out of the ground like jagged, razor-sharp stalagmites; one wrong move could slice through an O2 line if they didn’t keep their distance. Puddles of liquid-Helium sublimated behind them as their boots left sizzling footprints; Midoriya’s hopes of finding a living person here dwindled with each crackling step. He looked down at his tricorder, following the distress signal through the wasteland. The junkyard wasn’t limited to the orbital ring. As they closed in on the signal, more and more shipwrecks appeared in their path. TetsuTetsu stopped abruptly and a distracted Midoriya rammed into his back, groaning they collided with a metallic clank. Uraraka gasped at the sight before them: a Federation starship. It was impaled on the crimson spikes, at a crooked angle, and the metal hull frosted over and coated in a thick layer of crimson dust. The ship’s identification number was impossible to read. It must have been here for decades… Maybe longer, Midoriya pondered. The distress signal was coming from inside.
“Scan for life signs” Midoriya mumbled in awe, unable to tear his gaze away from the ship.
Uraraka looked up from her Tricorder, putting a hand on his shoulder. “I’m… I’m not picking up any lifesi-”
“-Wait… do you hear that?” TetsuTetsu whispered before taking a few steps forward.
A muffled noise was coming from the ship. Like a voice, barely audible and… music? Before Midoriya could react, TetsuTetsu charged into the ship through a breach in the hull. Uraraka pulled out her phaser and ran in after him, not waiting for instructions and leaving Midoriya trailing behind them. When he ducked under the frostbitten metal opening, the officers’ footsteps echoed ominously through the dark halls of the ship. Cables hung loosely from open panels in the walls. Dust and rock had been tracked inside, evidence that someone else had been here. The away team weaved through the maze-like corridors, following the soft noise until they arrived at the bridge an eerie light was flickering from inside. The door was ripped from its track and a huge spike tore the floor. Ruby colored pebbles evenly dusted floor. A broken hologram weakly projected into the center of the room, its image sputtering and degrading to gibberish. TetsuTetsu entered the room first, his feet crunching red pebbles as he made his way towards the hologram. A subtle movement caught Midoriya’s eye.
“TetsuTetsu!” The captain called out, as the pebbles shifted towards him.
It all happened in an instant. The red pebbles surrounded and coated the tactical officer, encasing both feet in a thick layer of mineral and proceeding up his body. Tetsu cried out, immobilized as the rock hardened into a shell around his body, climbing higher and higher until only his head poked out. His eyes were wide, staring at Midoriya and Uraraka with desperation as his stone prison locked his lungs from expanding. With a frantic wheeze escaping his lungs, he was gone; encased in that material. A fracture appeared over Tetsutesu’s mouth and the stone pushed inwards, breaking though his helmet as the stone forced its way into his mouth. The material melted into one another, creating a perfectly smooth statue.
With a crackle of green bolts, Midoriya burst forward in Full Cowling. Uraraka’s warning to be careful fell on deaf ears. I won't let him down. Midoriya whipped around and poured everything he had into one, solid kick. ‘I have to break through. I have to save him!’ Right before contact, the red statue shifted, raising an arm up to block Midoriya’s kick. The blow landed on its forearm, triggering a string of fractures to ripple over its surface. Tetsutetsu's face peeked through the cracks. The captain clenched his fist, electricity encompassing the limb as he sent a punch towards the statue's chest. Its other arm shot up, and Midoriya’s fist landed into its open palm, sending another ripple of cracks through its body. The hand snapped closed around the captain's fist, its jagged surface puncturing his suit and digging painfully into his skin. He could feel the stone growing around his wrist. In a panic, Midoriya leaped back, and the statue mirrored his movement, bounding forward.
The jerk sent more cracking shockwaves through the surface, giving space for Tetsutetsu’s leg to break free. Midoriya ripped the stone arm back, de-shelling a gasping Tetsutetsu. The freed tactical officer grasped his throat as he fell to his knees, eyes rolling back into his head. Uraraka ran to TetsuTetsu’s side, slapping a respiratory regulator over his mouth. A small forcefield buzzed online, enveloping his head with a pocket of pressurized O2. The tactical officer's wheezing slowly evened out. His eyes were filled with burst capillaries and he was visibly shaken. A medical tricorder chirped as Uraraka confirmed her hopes; no permanent damage.
With the reassurance that his officer was unharmed, Midoriya turned back to the creature in front of him, now an empty broken shell. His breath hitched as he watched it transform; the fractures were sealing themselves. The stone shifted in color, transitioning from red to a color matching Midoriya’s skin tone. It slowly crept from head-to-toe, easing to a halt at the top of its head. Divots settled where eyes would be, forming red eyes that moved independently from one another with little coordination until they settled on Midoriya. It’s lower jaw twitched, the corners of its mouth fractured up to the base of its ears. The stone ground against itself as the jaw opened and closed experimentally.
“Ma… Ma...” it tried to speak, its voice was raspy and dry.
‘Mama?’ Midoriya stiffened up. staring uncomfortably at the creature quickly refined into a humanoid form.
“Ma… Man... what a manly move!” its mouth twisted into a wide grin.
The cracks and rough edges had smoothed out except for a small fracture above its right eye. Jagged red spikes protruded from the top of its head, mimicking hair. The creature had managed to copy every inch of TetsuTetsu, from his thick muscles to his sharp teeth, to… other details. Uraraka averted her eyes from the naked creature. It released Midoriya’s arm and raised its hands to its face, wiggling the newly-formed fingers. The fingers curled into fists in a gravelly, grinding motion... The frigid cold seeped into Midoriya’s suit through the tears the alien had made. His skin frosted over as the cold stabbed into his arm with excruciating stings, followed by numbness to-the-bone. He slapped his hand over the openings and squeezed down tightly, trying his best to seal them off.
“Dude you just, like, bolted in to save your friend!” the creature continued with animated gestures,“-- the way you hit me and it was just like; crack! --and how you-” he pointed at Uraraka “--just leaped into action too! You both jumped in with full determination! That was amazing! So macho... so manly!”
The away team was frozen in stunned silence, watching the newly-formed creature ramble on. Uraraka stealthily turned her tricorder towards the alien, lightly chirping as it scanned. He winced as if he could feel the scan penetrating his surface and turned towards the woman, eyes wide with curiosity.
“What’s that! ?” he asked with a gasp, skipping over to the science officer with childlike giddiness.
Midoriya’s combadge chirped.
“Captain, have you located the source of the distress signal?” Todoroki inquired.
The captain scanned the run-down bridge and spotted the flickering light on the captain’s armrest panel. He made his way over to it and switched it off.
“I did,” he responded with a sigh.
“Did you find any lifeforms?”
Midoriya glanced back at the alien interacting with his crewmates. He dragged Uraraka back to the bridge, where the barely functional holonovel played. The captain recognized it;
-- The original Crimson Riot holonovels.
Midoriya chuckled. Transporting himself back to the countless Saturday mornings he spent as a child watching the show, which premiered shortly before he had been born. Uraraka and TetsuTetsu beamed and clapped as the alien precisely-mimicked every detail of the program, swelling in excitement from his first live audience. He didn’t appear to be a threat anymore.
“...Yes Lieutenant, We did.”
“Then it would be best if you returned to the beam-down point. We cannot get a lock on you in your current position. You are needed on-board as soon as possible. There have been...developments…”
“Alright, Midoriya out.”
The captain turned back to his crewmates. TetsuTetsu and the alien were having an arm-wrestling contest while Uraraka was fiddling with a cracked viewscreen. Midoriya made his way over to his junior-science officer, hand still clamped around his frozen wrist. The numbness had distracted him from the deep frostbite
“I’m trying to see if I can salvage the ship’s logs” Uraraka explained when she felt his presence. She was too engrossed to look up from the screen.
“The whole ship is dead, Uraraka… We have to go”
Uraraka was visibly frustrated, but she stood up to follow Midoriya.
“What about the alien?” She whispered, “We can’t leave it-- him here…”
Midoriya bit his bottom lip.
“I don’t see an immediate threat… We’ll bring him on board but under close watch. He’s taken a liking to Tetsutetsu. I’ll let him know to act as our new friend’s handler until further notice.”
She beamed up at Midoriya, her smile made his heart skip a beat “Aye, Captain,”