If you were a time traveler with a taste for human neural energy where would you get your supply?
Module BI-12T(e): Shapeshifters: The Devidians
Now this is one you may lose your head over. Actually, that’s what happened to Lieutenant Commander Data when a 500-year-old artifact turned out to be his cranial cavity. Despite the fact that he’d never been to Earth in the late 1800s getting his head blown off, this mysterious set of circumstances came to light during an archeological dig in modern San Francisco. Turns out the excavation was invaded by a pocket watch, spectacles, a handy Colt .45 and 19th-century triolic rays. And, of course, Data’s head.
“Well now,” Picard effused, excited that a half century old mystery had fallen into his lap. He immediately took the Enterprise to Devidia II, a terrestrial prime suspect. There they were graced by a temporal disturbance copiously inundated with triolic waves. Confronted with this irresistible clue, Picard enthusiastically brought the technological expertise of the Enterprise team to bear.
But Picard, not wanting to risk losing his AI virtuoso, Data, sent the away team of comparable dullards without him. But Commander William Riker, Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge, Worf, and counselor Deanna Troi didn’t have a clue about temporal analysis. Even worse, they couldn’t rescue the terrified humans Troi sensed with her iffy Betazoid skills. Though occupying the same space, the humans were invisible because of a meager .004 abnormal fraction of a second. What was needed was “an incredibly sensitive phase discriminator.” And where was that? In Data’s head, of course. His positronic decompiling witching stick.
So, reluctantly, Picard sent Data to the planet’s surface, knowing his awesome intellect would probably be his undoing. Using his forcefield generating game controller, Data’s smarts set about conquering the synchronic distortion starting with .001. When .002 phased him out of visibility, he impressively continued to broadcast from .003. Until …poof.
Fortunately, Data’s head remained intact. And he was able to describe freakish silver-grey beings without eyes or ears but with large orifices atop their heads. They ingested energy fragments with these holes as they languished, fat and lazy, in their cave resort. And there were hundreds, perhaps, thousands of these energy fragments in “a holding facility,” waiting their turn. (Human souls!) Then what Data described as an “ophidian” lifeform appeared, which the energy eaters used to disrupt the space-time continuum. This created a “temporal distortion of massive proportions” and with a flash of light, Mr. Data was gone. Pissing off Picard immensely.
Was that the last of their cyber friend? Heck, no! Data survived the slide and found himself in 1893 San Francisco flat on his back. He stood up unimpeded and proceeded to wander the streets. “Excuse me,” he repeated to passersby. “Pardon me. I am searching for two individuals with an ophidian. A snake.” Lascivious statements which proved beyond a doubt that he was a Frenchman.
Data eventually made the acquaintance of Madame Guinan, the Enterprise bartender’s temporal counterpart. Apparently, she was a socialite on Earth at that time, and among her friends, surprisingly, was the renowned author Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain). Her presence in Earth’s Victorian era raised a few eyebrows, to say the least. Q once said of Guinan, “This creature is not what she appears to be. She’s an imp, and where she goes, trouble always follows.”
After discovering her in our past, some called for an investigative inquiry regarding Q’s description of her. Imps, as you know, are legendary servants of hell, diminutive familiars of witches and wizards. Q’s account seemed credible given Guinan’s small stature, but the grumblings waned because of Picard’s meddling. In any case, Data was glad to see Satan’s helper in that time period. But elements of Q’s forewarning proved correct. When Guinan introduced Clemens to Data, he tried at every turn to thwart Data’s attempts to find that snake.
Meanwhile on the Enterprise, present tense Guinan bewitched Picard into going on the next away mission. LaForge miraculously replicated Data’s results without him, allowing them to also phase-shift to synchronic distortion .004. At last, the aforementioned dullards witnessed the vacationing Devidians and their petrified buffet of human energy signatures.
When the silvery-skinned waiters returned with more morsels, Dr. Beverly Crusher, Picard, Riker, LaForge and Troi followed them through the snake created temporal aperture. Although, they proved to be more dexterous than Data and stayed on their feet when hitting the streets of 19th century San Francisco. They promptly secured lodgings by swindling a local spinster into believing they were a theater troupe. Then staked out the local hospital upon hearing of a suspicious cholera epidemic. The numbers just didn’t jibe with Crusher’s 24th-century knowledge of galactic epidemiological statistics.
At the hospital, Crusher discovered corpses totally drained of neural energy, so they decided to hang around. Sure enough, the soul moochers showed up shapeshifted as a Victorian couple. One carrying a gentleman’s cane and the other a large black bag. These items were tiny mean-spirited shapeshifters, perhaps also demonic familiars. The cane became the time portal ophidian and the bag, a neurogenic soul-stealing carrying case.
The Victorian Devidians were just about to zap an unsuspecting snack when Crusher, dressed as a nursing barmaid, ran interference until Picard and the others could help her out. When they arrived, the Devidians were so intimidated; they left their ophidian and disappeared. Then the Keystone cops showed up. No, the real Keystone cops, whistles and all. Riker punched his way to the exit, then led the others to Data who arrived driving a sleek black carriage, just in time for their getaway.
Picard and crew promptly made their way to that century’s triolic cave to look for the hungry aliens. They had confiscated their serpentine cane so they were sure they would make an appearance. Or Mr. Data’s positronic superiority would get them out of there. But then the annoying Clemens showed up waving a Colt .45, threatening jail time. However, the Devidians arrived frustrating his efforts and tried to repossess the cane. Fail! Though gluttonous, disappointedly, the shifters were not fighters.
However, the male Devidian managed to get his hands on the snake, but Data held it tight. Yet, for some reason, the snake’s head went off and boom! Data’s skull went flying. And that was how it happened. Data, head, gone. The ornery volatile serpent also opened the time portal after injuring the Devidian female, helping the male shapeshifter to escape.
So, Riker, LaForge, Crusher and Troi followed him into the time rift, discovering Data’s body on the other side. But because past tense Guinan hurt her head in the explosion, Picard stayed behind to tend to her. And before the aperture could close entirely, Clemens dove through it. But Picard didn’t care. After Guinan’s brief unconsciousness, he stared deeply into her eyes. “Do you know me she asked?” “Oh yes!” he exclaimed. “Are we friends?” “So much more than that,” he exuded again. Don’t ask.
The Devidian female lay dying. Picard tore himself way from his salacious fantasies and interrogated her. “Why have you interfered with us?” she asked. “You hunt us. You kill us. We cannot allow that.” “We need your energy,” she told him. “Perhaps we can find a substitute.” What was he saying? Vampirism substitutes are a myth! Realizing this, he came to his senses and informed her that they would blow them to kingdom come. She laughed. “You will annihilate your own world.”
What! Pung ghap! Picard got to work on Data’s left-over head.
Meanwhile, on the Enterprise, LaForge put Data’s five-hundred-year-old artifact head back on his decapitated shoulders and brought him back to life. But not before discovering Picard’s strategically implanted metal shard hidden in Data’s neural network. After removing it, Data was able to relate the captain’s Morse code. “Don’t shoot!”
Riker took his advice under consideration and after a .004 differential fired upon the Devidian holiday spot, figuring Clemens, ophidian in hand, had been given plenty of time to find Picard. Just then Picard materialized in the cave but no biggie. The transporter-wizard, Miles O’Brien, defied molecular death itself and got Picard the hell out of there. And assuming those seven Devidians were the only entities of their ilk munching on Victorian humans on the planet, all ended well. Which takes us to our last stop in the shapeshifters’ series: Changelings.
Menosky, Joe. Piller, Michael. “Time’s Arrow.” Star Trek: The Next Generation. Paramount Television. 15 June 1992. Television. Retrieved: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Time%27s_Arrow_(episode)
Menosky, Joe. Taylor, Jeri. “Time’s Arrow. Part II.” Star Trek: The Next Generation. Paramount Television. 21 September 1992. Television. Retrieved: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Time%27s_Arrow,_Part_II_(episode)