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Fanfic / Lost in the Woods

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Artwork by Marcus S Lazarus
Lost in the Woods and its sequel, No Good Deed, by Ardwolf, is a crossover between Star Trek: The Next Generation and Firefly, set early in Season Three for TNG and just after Firefly concluded its televised run. When Q returns to the Enterprise, he nonchalantly responds to Picard’s demands that he restore the eighteen crewmembers lost to the Borg during his last visit and then follows it by sending the Enterprise into a parallel universe in the name of his latest test. Woods explores how the two crews interact with each other, culminating in the Enterprise completely destroying the Reaver fleet, and the second explores the consequences of the Enterprise’s visit in both worlds.

These stories contain examples of:

  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: A key issue faced by the Enterprise is the extent to which the Prime Directive applies in their current situation while they are in Alliance space, as the Alliance doesn't have warp or subspace but have clearly travelled a significant distance across space. While they ultimately decide not to make direct contact with the Alliance, the Enterprise crew do provide Serenity with as complete an upgrade as they can without making the ship significantly more advanced, and also destroy the Reavers completely once they confirm that the consequences of sparing the Reavers are even worse.
  • Artistic Licence – Biology: The Enterprise medical staff conduct a detailed examination of the Reavers that establishes how they are created, including the exact effect that the Pax has on their physiology and psychology to turn them so insane.
  • Authority in Name Only: A good term for Inara's status here, as Mal introduces her to the Enterprise crew as 'Ambassador'. While Inara quickly clarifies that she's only the ambassador for Serenity rather than for the Alliance as a whole, her time on the Enterprise sees her basically being treated as such as she is described as spending time living up to the title by mingling with the various alien races on the ship, with the following result;
    Her reward had been exposure to art and culture of a thousand different worlds, worlds she couldn't even have imagined. She counted herself blessed beyond her wildest dreams.
  • Back from the Dead: The fic opens as Q decides to grant Picard a 'favour' by restoring the eighteen members of the Enterprise crew who were taken by the Borg during their first encounter (although it would appear that Q actually just moved them through time rather than bringing them back from the dead).
  • Continuity Snarl: A relatively minor one, admittedly; despite this being set between “Q Who” and “Deja Q” for TNG (likely in the third season as Crusher is the chief medical officer rather than Pulaski), Data expresses knowledge of his ‘mother’ Juliana Soong, who he only met in the show’s seventh season.
  • Courtroom Episode: The Star Trek sections of “No Good Deed” are essentially this, as Picard is on trial for violating the Prime Directive and committing genocide against the Reavers.
  • Crazy-Prepared: When Picard proposes transporting a Reaver on board Enterprise for analysis, Mal speaks up to make sure that everyone on Enterprise is aware of the dangers that a Reaver can pose, to the extent that an entire security team is set up to keep the Reaver stunned and contained the moment it arrives, and even then it managed to inflict a serious wound on Worf before it was rendered unconscious.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: When the Enterprise-D crew decide that they must destroy the Reaver fleet to save the humans of the Alliance, although the Reaver fleet consists of over three hundred ships against the Enterprise on its own, the Enterprise destroys the entire Reaver fleet in under a minute.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Mal's reaction to Q belittling him is to pull a Sisko — this is, breaking the slimy bastard's nose and threatening to do it again.
    • River later does even better; she rips out Q's vocal chords when he condescends to her.
  • Everyone Has Standards: In "No Good Deed", even Jayne is uncomfortable to realise that one of the girls they’re taking to start work in a brothel is legitimately underage, rather than just looking young.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Discussed but ultimately disregarded. Once they've established that they're in an alternate universe, the Enterprise crew acknowledge that they are in a tricky legal situation, considering that the Alliance consists of humans outside of Earth’s solar system but without access to warp travel which defies all conventional definitions of the Prime Directive. Ultimately, the events in this universe are treated as just as valid as events in their own reality, to the point that Picard is put on trial for violating the Prime Directive while in Alliance space once the Enterprise returns home.
  • Geeky Turn-On: While Kaylee obviously isn't allowed to learn more about the specifics of Federation technology, she greatly enjoys the chance to see the Enterprise.
  • Genocide Dilemma: The Enterprise crew face this when faced with the possibility that they could stop the threat of the Reavers as the Reavers prepare to attack a significant planet in Alliance space. As well as the obvious issue of the Prime Directive, the crew consider the possibility of trying to just stop the Reaver fleet rather than destroying it or trying to cure the Reavers of their pax-induced insanity, but they conclude that they lack the time to put either plan into action (and Mal observes that anyone turned back to normal after being a Reaver would likely kill themselves from the trauma of remembering what they did). Eventually, Captain Picard concludes that the Reavers are too dangerous to be spared and destroys their fleet, although a subsequent court martial concludes that the charge of genocide can't qualify as Reavers can only be male and are psychologically incapable of anything more than killing what isn't like them.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: An indirect example of this occurs when Mal initially arrives on the Enterprise and speculates that Deanna Troi is the ship’s equivalent of a companion, invoking the fact that Troi and Inara were basically the sex appeal for their shows.
  • Loophole Abuse: While contemplating the scale of the Reaver threat, Data observes that from a certain perspective eliminating the Reavers doesn’t violate the Prime Directive as few people actually know that the Reavers exist beyond a myth, so their absence would not significantly affect Alliance civilisation.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Invoked when the Enterprise crew are contemplating finding a cure for the Reavers; Mal explicitly states that anyone who returned to normal after spending any time as a Reaver would probably blow their own brains out from the horror of remembering what they had done.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Q actually has to combine his own powers with the latest spatial anomaly the Enterprise is tracking to send the ship into the parallel universe of Alliance space, rather than just snapping his fingers to get the job done as usual.
  • Noodle Incident: In “No Good Deed”, Inara reflects that the Enterprise medical staff were able to cure the terminal illness that was killing her in just a few sessions without the rest of her crew aware she was getting treatment (such a disease was part of Inara’s backstory but was only disclosed by Word of God).
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Picard explicitly notes that it’s not like Data to equivocate when he spends time talking about the history of the Chara system and confirming that he has run various diagnostics to be sure that his results are correct before explaining that the Chara system they’re facing is nothing like the system as recorded in the Enterprise database.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Enterprise is this for every hostile force in Alliance space; even when one scientist deduces that the Reavers were destroyed by at least one ship with antimatter weapons he can't explain how such a ship might exist.
  • Ramming Always Works: Defied; when the men in blue gloves fail to damage Enterprise and Serenity with thirty-six nuclear missiles, they resort to ramming Serenity with their ship, and harmlessly explode against the shields.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: As essentially the highest-ranking member of Alliance space in contact with Enterprise, Mal ultimately serves as this when Picard begins contemplating the possibility of using Enterprise to destroy the Reavers. While Mal is obviously in favour of eliminating the threat the Reavers pose for good, he recognises that Captain Picard has rules to obey and a personal moral code that drives the captain to be sure that the Reavers are as bad as he's been told before he takes action. Mal therefore assures Picard that he will ultimately follow the other man's lead and let Picard make the final decision, even if he offers all possible advice regarding the nature of the Reaver threat to help Picard make an informed choice.
  • Rules Lawyer: Picard’s defence counsel in “No Good Deed”, Karras, shows his skill in this regard, clearly explaining the various loopholes that justify the choice to make contact with Serenity and the decision to destroy the Reaver fleet.
  • Secret-Keeper: Ultimately the nine members of Serenity's crew are the only ones aware that Enterprise was ever in their universe once Q returns the ship to its own reality, although others are aware of certain clues that something was present.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Wash and Book both survive, as the events that led to their canonical deaths never happen. Q knows it, and tells Mal that he gave Mal's crew a gift that they'll never know they had, before specifically namedropping those two crew members.
  • Status Quo Is God: Obviously the Prime Directive prevents the Enterprise crew giving Serenity too significant an upgrade, and they literally can’t do that much to help River’s mental damage. However, they do give Serenity as thorough an upgrade as possible while keeping it within the limits of what is possible for the Alliance, as well as paying the crew for their time, to say nothing of the destruction of the Reaver fleet. Once the Enterprise returns to its home universe, after Picard's court-martial has concluded one of the additional rulings is that the existence of Alliance space will now be considered a secret known only to the Federation Council and those who have actually travelled to that universe.
  • Take a Third Option: Brought up and defied when Picard learns of the scale of the Reaver threat; the point of these events is for Q to put Picard in a position where there is no third option, and the captain’s choices are to either destroy the Reavers or let the Reavers destroy humanity in this system.
  • Tranquil Fury: Picard declares that it is "completely unacceptable" when he learns that the local government are responsible for River's condition, and immediately volunters the services of the Enterprise to see what can be done to help her.
  • Tricked Out Time: A good description of Q's restoration of the eighteen crewmembers killed by the Borg in "Q Who?"; he apparently 'collected' all eighteen of them from a point shortly before he moved the Enterprise and relocated them to the bridge a few months in their relative future.
  • Trickster Mentor: Karras, Picard's lawyer, speculates that this is Q's true nature, since while he has caused grief, he's also saved lives on a grand scale- prepping mankind for the Borg, and dealing with the Reaver problem.
  • Unconventional Courtroom Tactics: "No Good Deed" arguably sees Q do this; he summons a Reaver into the court in a manner that Karras suggests was intended to reinforce their threat to those who hadn't seen the Reavers in person, thus giving them further evidence that Picard was right to interfere and destroy the Reavers to save the Alliance planets.
  • Why Didn't I Think of That?: Brought up when Doctor Crusher completes her analysis of a Reaver and asks Mal if he's ever heard of a Reaver attacking another Reaver. Thinking about it, Mal observes that not only has he never heard of such a thing, but once the doctor brings it up, he's surprised that Reavers don't just tear each other apart on their cramped ships before they can even get to other people, confirming Crusher's analysis that Reavers are basically psychologically incapable of working with anything that isn't like them.
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: From Mal’s perspective, their deal with the Enterprise is basically this; all Serenity has to do is sit around in deep space for a month and let the Enterprise crew study their databanks, and in return they get relatively free reign on the luxurious Enterprise, with a range of exotic food and drink (many of which they’d never normally experience as it comes from other races), and will even get paid a king’s ransom in platinum.
  • The Worf Effect: A literal example of this; the Enterprise crew get a taste of how dangerous the Reavers are when a single Reaver stays conscious after multiple phaser blasts set on stun and manages to inflict a dangerous wound on Worf’s stomach that damages his sash before they finally knock it out.