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For this week’s Friday Challenge: Bring Rock‘n’Roll to the Star Trek Universe – My submission.

I don’t know . . . does the basic plot here seem familiar to anyone else?

Aug 19th, 2022

An outdoor New Jersey amphitheatre: Cheering teenagers and young adults – thousands of them. Banging drums. Keyboard pulsing. Electric guitar playing arpeggios. A singer, with a strong voice singing bright, haunting, quick, instantly memorable melodies.
And twenty thousand feet overhead, un-noticed, a large dark harshly angled craft from another solar system. It was listening.

=

Two months later. . .
Benjamin Fenfert sat down in the coffee shop in the north suburban Twin Cities and was pleased at how he easily he could relax these days. His multi-city concert tour had finished only two weeks previous, and unlike other tours, he was able to wind down more quickly. It helped that he had cut his hair and was dressed like a normal human being, so few recognized him. Those who did just smiled and nodded. Or maybe they were just being cordial.
He pulled out his current paperback and began to read. Five, ten, twenty minutes sped by and then he noticed that someone was standing in front of him, looking down at him . . . .

==

To: Commander Maddox
From: Lieutenant Commander Data
Stardate: 46988

I am breaking from my normal method of communication with you and sending this message on a secure channel. No doubt you have heard some, but not all of what you are about to read.
You will be pleased to know that your theories involving my positronic neural network, transporter technology and time travel have been proven correct. You will perhaps be more pleased to learn that I was able to employ them to save perhaps thousands of humans from the spacecraft that threatened us (as I am sure you are aware) with it’s strange and damaging form of radiation. The Enterprise D just happened to be in orbit around earth for shore leave and the Captain ordered us to look into the matter . . . .

==

All of the senior officers were present in the Observation lounge. “Okay” said Captain Picard. “What do you have for me?”
Wesley Crusher responded. “Reports from several nationalities of local but significant damage to buildings under the flight path of this ship. No deaths or injuries yet, due to quick responses to emergency evacuations, but it is only a matter of time.”
“I see” said Picard, and then thinking aloud “But what is it’s purpose?”
“I have a theory.” replied Laforge. “Call it crazy, I think this could be some kind of communication – like a musical language.”
“It can’t be!” exclaimed Ryker “It’s too rhythmic. Too pulsing. And it isn’t like any music I’ve ever heard.”
“Yeah, well, me neither,” agreed Laforge, “But there is a clear melody in what they are broadcasting, and –“
“They are obviously a danger to all of earth” said Worf, nearly growling, “I recommend they be destroyed.”
“If I may” began Data, just before Troi began stating the obvious response to Worf. The captain nodded to Data.
“I think I may have discovered something of potential importance. I was listening to the sounds emanating from this ship and thought it sounded familiar. I then recalled from my human cultural history research that there was a similar sound in a kind of music popular on earth in the twentieth and twenty first centuries. I scanned several thousand instances of this form music and I have isolated the sounds to be very similar to that of a musical Rock group with the name Bulwark, which was popular in the 2010s and 20s. My working theory is that this space craft visited the earth at that time and are now back and . . . . looking for them.”
“I see.” said the Captain “So what do you propose?”
“I have an idea.”

And after a few minutes of discussion – “Make it so.”

==

Back in the coffee shop and the year 2022 . . .

Benjamin wondered if he should simply keep his face in his book and ignore the man who he was pretty sure was staring down at him. But,no, sooner or later, he would have to look up. So he put on cheerful face, looked up and said, “Um, . . . . Yes”

Even before the other man spoke, Benjamin could tell that this was going to be an interesting conversation. His face seemed to be covered with some kind of make-up. And his eyes looked odd. . . and the way he was standing. Too stiff. But when he spoke, he was very polite:

“You are Benjamin Quinton Fenfert?”
Benjamin looked around. Thankfully, it seemed that no one had heard him.
“Yes, I am”
“May I sit?”
“ . . . . Sure.” Why not? He didn’t have any other plans.
The other man sat.
“To make sure I am speaking with the correct person . . . you are primary singer for . . a musical group named ‘Bulwark’?”
He had never heard himself described that way, but “You got it.”
“I am glad to have found you. My name is Data.”
“Data, huh. . . a unique name.”
“That is not the only . . . unique thing about me.”
“I gather that.”
==

Surprising, he took my claim that I was from the future in stride, after I provided him evidence that I was an android by surreptitiously taking off my hand and did other non-human activities. And then, quite reasonably . . .

==
“So. . . ,” asked Ben after he’d had a few seconds to process all of this “What does this have to do with me?”
“Yes, a fair question. The truth is, we need you. And your music. In the future.”

==
As I explained to him the plan of bringing him back to our time period, I expected a rejection of the plan or at the very least, great concern. Instead, he just smiled.

==
“Okay. . . . I’m in.”
“You are able to agree this quickly. You trust me already?”
“Not remotely. But I was just beginning to think that my life was starting to get too predictable. I need something new in my life. But there are some conditions.”
“Let us discuss them.”
“If you want a sound that will be like my typical music, we will need my full band.”
“I see. How many?”
“Oh, . . . let’s say five guys. I doubt we need the orchestra. But the five are scattered around the Midwest. It’ll take time”
“Oh, we have time. Time is not the problem. We will just collect the other musicians, transport to my time period, you can do your . . . rock music and –“
“Oh, we don’t play ‘Rock’. We play Rock’n’Roll.”
“I . . . but I thought – ”
“No, Vox, I mean, Data. Rock music and Rock’n’Roll are not the same thing, although this is a common misconception. The generally agreed way of discerning between the two is like this: A kid likes Rock’n’Roll because he likes to hear it, or sing it, or dance to it, or whatever. Rock, on the other hand, is chosen by a kid for the primary purpose of bugging the kid’s parents. So while parents might disagree with their child’s tastes when it comes to choosing the Rock’n’Roll that they like, they don’t fear that their teenager is lacking a soul (for example) or wonder if they should start keeping a gun under their bed, as they do when their kid starts listening to Rock. Does that make sense?”

It did, but Data was still curious.
“So . . . only young people listen to Rock?”
“Oh, no. But even a thirty year old guy, or a forty year old, when he hears new Rock music, thinks – “Boy, my parents would hate this! Alright!”

==

With that understood by me, he packed up and we began the fairly tedious job of collecting all of the Bulwark band mates, who required long hours of explanation to get them to help with the mission. I feared that some of them would not want to enter in, but in the end, all of them were excited at the prospect of this very different kind of ‘gig’, as they called it.

Finally we all transported directly to the Enterprise.

==

“Welcome aboard” said O’Brien, “You’re wanted in the observation lounge”
And five minutes later they were all there.
“Well, I imagine you have lots of questions” said Picard “but at this point we don’t have time to answer them.”
“How about just one?” asked Benjamin “Forgive my ignorance, but why can’t you just . . . you know, broadcast our music to the ship.”
Laforge answered him, “Believe me, we have tried. Apparently they don’t have radio-wave technology.”
“Ah.”
“So what we need to know is. . . how long, after we get you down somewhere, will you need to set up.”
“About an hour, why?”
“They are flying at a low Earth orbit in a predictable search pattern. They started over the state of New Jersey and have been slowly circling the earth ever since, leaving destruction wherever they go. Fortunately they haven’t gone directly over any large cities or thousands of buildings might have been destroyed.”
“And we would have had to destroy them first” stated Worf, with no glee in his voice. Almost.
“Just Buildings?”
“Yes.” said Data, “Their. .. sound emissions apparently do not affect biological life. And the affected swath is very narrow.”
“But we have projected that they will be over Albuquerque in two hours.”
“Well, no harm – “ began Derek, the drummer, but a look from Benjamin stopped him from speaking further. But not from chuckling to himself.

==

And so our Commander Laforge projected the ship’s path to match the required time specifications and chose a little town in the Rocky Mountains. We transported all of us, the band and its equipment to an outdoor theatre there and they began to set up.

Word got around town and soon there were thirty-seven people sitting in the chairs waiting to see what was going to happen. Finally, after several ‘sound checks’ the band got on stage . . .

==
Benjamin walked up to the microphone, “Okay. . . . Hello- . . !” and he stopped, looked off stage at Data and whispered, “Where are we, again?”
“Egnar”, Data whispered back, at the same time as Laforge and Troi.
“Hello, Egnar! We are Bulwark and we are gonna save this town and this planet!”

An outdoor Colorado amphitheatre: Cheering teenagers and young adults – dozens of them. Banging drums. Keyboard pulsing. Electric guitar playing arpeggios. A singer, with a strong voice singing bright, haunting, quick, instantly memorable melodies.

A few members of the audience found themselves smiling, then moving to the rythm of the music, and then calling their friends to transport themselves in to Colorado.  And so the audience grew.

Bulwark had fun.

And twenty thousand feet overhead, not un-noticed, a large dark harshly angled craft from another solar system. It was listening. It was satisfied. It had found what it was looking for.

And when the show was over. It went home.

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