I had a dream that was a pretty coherent Star Trek: TNG episode. There are only two things that give away the fact that it’s not a real episode. I’ll cover those at the end.

Will Riker was conducting a time-travel experiment aboard the Enterprise. He fired up the … y’know, deflector dish? warp core? My dream didn’t really include the technobabble for this. Anyway, he pushed the button that was supposed to initiate the time travel experiment. Fizzle. Nothing happened. Geordi offered to look over the logs and try to figure out what went wrong, while Riker went back to the bridge to continue normal operations.

Well, as the dream went on, operations became increasingly abnormal, as, one by one, the ship’s systems failed. The replicator stopped working. Then the holodeck. The computer gave nonsense answers to basic research questions. They were frantically trying to figure out what was going wrong, and correct the problem. Clearly, something was messing with the ship’s systems, but they could not detect where it was coming from.

Finally, they discovered the problem, but it was too late.

It seems that, on the last shore leave, somebody had contracted some sort of a virus. They pooed it out, and the virus spread throughout the entire bilge (it thrived well in the environment of poo). Now, apparently, this virus was actually some sort of intelligent life-form that built a network for itself when it became numerous enough, and used that network to think. They speculate that in nature, it models itself on the existing intelligence of the virus, and becomes a part of it. But here on the ship, it instead modeled itself on the ship’s computer, becoming a part of it. It began appropriating the systems and taking control of them. It knew and/or cared little for the humans on the ship. As far as it was concerned, this was its body.

And it was too late. Even if they emptied the bilge now, it was spread throughout the ship, and had already disabled the mechanisms they would use to purge it from the system. If only they had known about this earlier, they could have solved the problem simply by emptying the bilge. Gosh, if they only had time travel, they could go back to those carefree times.

Hey, waittaminnit. Time travel? Remember that experiment of Riker’s that failed? They couldn’t figure out why the experiment would not work. According to the calculations, everything was in place for this time travel to work out. Wait, could it be…?

Indeed, they re-activated the time travel experiment, and this time it worked! It flung the enterprise back to the time when the original experiment had “failed”. Apparently, this first run of it had indeed opened one end of the time tunnel, and they now traveled through the other end, back to the first end.

Here, the virus had not replicated nor spread. They pulled the “empty bilge” lever and the problem was solved!

Anomalies in this telling:

  1. Will Riker is not a scientist or an engineer. He would not be instrumentally involved in this experiment.
  2. Star Trek never discusses poo in any way. If I was building the ship, the head would lead to an artificial wetland that would recycle the waste into clean drinking water. In their universe, they probably teleport the poo out of their bodies and reconfigure the matter into something else, like toys for children, and they never have to actually do something so crass as actually poo.

Also, take note; If they had actually flung the enterprise back in time, the problems would have all come with them. Also, Riker would have noticed a second copy of the Enterprise emerging when he activated the time tunnel. But this is exactly the sort of thing that they might do in Star Trek – overlook the particulars of time travel, such as this.