"'This project ushers in a new era of cooperation between Cardassia and Bajor. We are healing the wounds of the Occupation and the Dominion War, blah blah blah.' Okay, that last part was me."Reality Is Fluid is a two-part Star Trek Online fanfic by StarSword, using the same basic cast as Bait and Switch and written for a literary challenge on the STO forum.Over the strenuous objections of her captain the USS Bajor is tasked with testing a new type of sensor array jointly developed by the Federation, Bajorans, and Cardassians on the Bajoran wormhole. The test goes horribly wrong and the Bajor is flung into fluidic space.
— Captain Kanril Eleya, C.O., USS Bajor NCC-97238
This work contains the following tropes:
- Alternate Universe: The Schrodinger's Butterfly experiment is designed to detect and observe them.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Eleya has been avoiding getting into a committed relationship with Gaarra because despite the fact they've admitted to the attraction privately, it's against Starfleet regulations since she's his direct superior. But at the end of the fic, when they're both in the hospital after his getting half-blown up and her being rather ungently mind-probed by an Undine, she finally has this to say:Eleya: Gaarra, when I heard you were injured, I nearly got myself removed from command trying to come see you.
Gaarra: Well, you’re seeing me now.
Eleya: Yes. Yes, I am. (takes his hand) And I didn’t care. Tess would’ve had me thrown out of the service, and I didn’t care. I had to force myself to care. And now, I don’t have to care anymore. We’re out of danger, and we’re alone and—and I love you, is what I’m trying to say.
- The Atoner: Professor Atani Dukat of the Cardassian Science Ministry is the daughter of Gul Skrain Dukat of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fame. It's not something she's proud of, and her introductory scene has her formally apologizing for pretty much every bad thing Dukat and the Cardassians ever did.
- Badass Creed: "THE WEAK WILL PERISH!" Except this time, the Undine are directing it at themselves.
- Bizarre Alien Senses: The fact that reptiles, such as the Bajor's Saurian communications officer, can see part of the ultraviolet spectrum is a plot point. Undine factional markings are only visible under ultraviolet light.
- Blah Blah Blah: Eleya gets pissed off at the Bajoran First Minister's speechifying and mentally overwrites it with this. See the page quote.
- The Cameo: Captain Benjamin Sisko makes an appearance in the capacity of the Emissary of the Prophets.
- Call-Back: The scene at Quark's where Eleya and Gaarra first met, right down to him opening with:Gaarra: Is this seat taken?
Eleya: Really? You use that line on me, again?
Gaarra: It worked the first time, didn't it?
- Cloning Body Parts: Gaarra has to get a new set of lungs replicated after the explosion in the deflector room.
- Cycle of Revenge: A theme of the piece, especially the part about breaking the cycle. The project the Bajor is being used for is politically partially about Bajoran-Cardassian reconciliation, but it gets sabotaged by a Bajoran whose mother was raped and murdered by a Cardassian officer during the Occupation. Also the Undine are attacking the Alpha/Beta Quadrant powers because they were duped by the Iconians, the Alpha Quadrant powers fight back, etc. Driven home with the later addition of some lines from U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" as an epigraph.Atani Dukat: Does it ever end? We kill you, you kill us, and nobody wins.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: In Part II, the saboteur aboard the Bajor turns out to be Ameno Idras, a Bajoran who turned up in all of one paragraph in part I.
- Down to the Last Play: The springball match that Eleya watches at Quark's ends official time in a tie because the referee missed a foul, so it went to a sudden death round (next player to score wins).
- Enemy Mine: Eleya talks the Undine faction they encounter into targeting the Undine that have been attacking the Dyson alliance, and into joining the war against the Iconians.
- Epigraph: The second verse and refrain of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" were added retroactively to the opening of part one, after StarSword used another epigraph in "The Universe Doesn't Cheat".
- Every Device Is a Swiss-Army Knife: Lampshaded by Eleya, who can't figure out why Starfleet Science thinks that "a nav deflector is for generating weird particles, not for pushing crap out of your way when you’re at warp."
- Fantastic Slurs/Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: When Eleya (mistakenly) thinks that Prof. Dukat was responsible for sabotaging the Bajor:Eleya: You. Damned. Phekk'ta. Spoonhead.
- First-Person Smartass: Eleya spends roughly the entire first section of part one vociferously complaining about how everything that has to do with the mission is annoying, overly political, insulting to her religion, and keeping her from watching a springball match.
- Foreign-Language Tirade: During the springball match scene:Eleya: HEY! That's a foul! Y'trel bo tava tu san yc'fel, Dakhur'etil va'yaputal!
- Justified Title: "Fluid" in reference to fluidic space.
- Language Equals Thought: Ens. Arak Esplin, a Saurian, struggles to explain what color something is to her mammalian crewmates, failing to account for the fact that they can't see in ultraviolet.
- Loved I Not Honor More: Invoked. Tess pretty much forces this on Eleya when Gaarra is injured, referring back to a conversation they had in chapter nine of Bait and Switch and threatening to remove her from command of the Bajor altogether rather than let her leave the bridge in a crisis.
- Mind Rape: Eleya's mental conversation with an Undine commander proves extremely painful for her, represented by the Undine Neck Lifting her for the duration. She comes out with minor brain damage.
- Mythology Gag: Given that the first part of the story is set on or near Deep Space 9, commanded by Captain James Kurland, the author couldn't help throwing in a "Kurland here" in one conversation.
- Pardon My Klingon: Besides Eleya's usual "phekk", she drops an implied Cluster F-Bomb in Bajoran when the referee in the springball match she's watching misses a call.Eleya: HEY! That's a foul! Y'trel bo tava tu san yc'fel, Dakhur'etil va'yaputal!
- Prophecy Twist: Discussed. Eleya tells Ben Sisko that she doesn't put much stock in the Bajoran prophecies because even when they do come true, they never come true the way anyone predicted. She specifically cites Trakor's Third Prophecy, which came up in DS 9: "Destiny". However the prophecy that's actually relevant to the story pretty much does what it says on the tin.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Undine, to an extent. The faction the Bajor encounters considers the infiltration tactics used by the Undine the Dyson alliance are fighting to be weak, shameful, and cowardly. Their opinion of the Manipulative Bastard Iconians is, if anything, even lower.
- Russian Reversal: Benjamin Sisko mildly chides Eleya for her derisive attitude towards the Bajoran prophecies.Sisko: You may not put much stock in the prophecies but the prophecies put stock in you.
- The author's notes state that Prof. Dukat was inspired by Emperor Turhan from the Babylon 5 episode "The Coming of Shadows", inasmuch as they're both high-ranking members of an enemy culture who want to mend fences by apologizing for their fathers. Dukat has better luck than Turhan did, though.
- One of the alternate timelines detected by the Schrodinger's Butterfly sensor array is the Star Trek Novel Verse, as evidenced by Deep Space 9 having been replaced by a Federation-built station on the same site.
- Eleya's first comment upon waking up in Deep Space 9's hospital is "Unfamiliar ceiling," a reference to the second episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- Dul'krah, the Bajor's security chief, is said to have made the saboteur confess by glaring at him until he gave it up, in reference to Teal'c's favored method of interrogation in Stargate SG-1.
- Taking the Bullet: Or the Exploding EPS Conduit, rather. In an Offscreen Moment of Awesome* Gaarra is nearly killed tackling a scientist out of the way of an EPS conduit explosion, and takes the blast on his back. He survives with third-degree burns over half his body and enough shrapnel in him to set off a weapons detector, and has to have his lungs replaced.
- Would Hurt a Child: The Undine show Eleya images of Federation, Klingon, and Gorn warships (which Eleya knows to be Iconian fakes) killing Undine hatchlings. No wonder the Undine went to war against the Alpha Quadrant.