CHICAGO, IL - To the astonishment of an entire world, the main characters of Star Trek: The Next Generation, long thought to be fictional, appeared this morning in Chicago -- and put a stop to the insidious machinations of a megalomaniacal Trek fan.
According to onlookers, the supervillain (calling himself "Zeke") had brought a gigantic broadcasting device into the downtown core and powered it up. Just before the scheduled moment of activation, however, six people in Starfleet uniforms arrived in the area via teleportation and launched an attack on the device. Despite its extensive array of defenses, the team succeeded in disarming it; they then brought the criminal to justice.
Team leader Captain Jean-Luc Picard declined to speak with the press, citing a "Temporal Prime Directive," but this reporter managed to corner first officer William T. Riker (who insisted that his middle initial be included in the article). After expressing his disappointment that no female reporters were available, he consented to provide some information about the shocking events.
"My crew and I came back in time on a vital mission," explained the mustachioed XO. "A mission so imperative, so critical, so universe-shattering that all sentient life on this planet depended on it! Yes, if I and my esteemed colleagues hadn't undertaken this life-threatening journey, who knows what --"
After some encouragement from this reporter, Mr. Riker got to the point. "Ow, ow, ow. Anyway, as I was saying, we came back in time on a mission to stop Zeke from carrying out his evil plan. That machine you saw was designed to reach into the minds of all the humans on Earth and remove a specific idea. For reasons we haven't uncovered yet, Zeke has some kind of grudge against the acronym 'TNG' -- he was going to erase it from the planet. Naturally, we considered it our duty to stop him."
Mr. Zeke himself is currently in police custody. "Those fools don't know what they've done," he stated to members of the press. "Can't anyone see how ridiculous it is to include 'the' in an acronym? It's a tiny word! Insignificant! It isn't even capitalized in book titles! The abbrevation 'NG' is perfectly fine -- why do we need the T? It has to be stopped!"
The incident has drawn commentary from several quarters.
"So that's why he always avoided using the term!" observed section head Marc Richard. "I wondered about that. For that matter, he left it out of the '5MNG' abbreviation too. You have to wonder about someone who takes a three-letter word that seriously."
"Excuse me? Some three-letter words are a little serious," replied Pope John Paul II.
"Zeke's position is ludicrous," said TSN general manager Jim Thompson. "Would he have me call my network SN? We'd lose our length and dignity! Some people."
"Now let me get this straight... Commander," said actor James Cromwell. "A kid with a grudge against abbreviations built a device to ensnare the human race, and you're here to stop him? Hot damn -- you're heroic. Hahahahaha!" (Mr. Cromwell then took another swig of Tuborg.)
"It's a good thing this monster was stopped in time," commented relieved section head IJD GAF. "He would have been after my series next...."
The 24th-century group vanished as quickly as it appeared, but their impact will not soon be forgotten. On the other hand, many elements of this story remain untold. Where did Mr. Zeke get his device? How did the TNG (ha ha) crew find out? Until such questions are answered, this cannot be considered a definite article.