Literary Challenge #37 : Mirror, Mirror on the... Viewscreen?
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:
Today we start the two-week run of the thirty-seventh Literary Challenge: Mirror, Mirror on the... Viewscreen?
Your ship is receiving a hail.This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.
The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
The mirror crack'd
I'll join in, Introducing...The Mirror Crack'd
Captain's log, Stardate 90666.13, we are on course for the imaga system investigating what appears to be an automated distress signal. It looks to be a routine rescue, and the crew are just looking forward to getting back to spacedock.
"Captain, we are entering the Imaga system, scanners are showing no ships in the area." Helmsman Kafruss said.
"Interesting. Shields up, let's have a look around."
We searched the area for a good half-hour, but came up with nothing and were just about to leave when...
"Captain, ship decloaking right in front of us!" Commander Tugo yelled.
"All stop, captain."
We stopped within feet of the other ship
"Captain, we are receiving a hail from the other ship." My communications officer, Wisel said.
"Onscreen, let's see what's going on."
"Hello, captain." the other captain said in a voice that could only be described as slimy. "I have a favor to ask."
"I recognize that voice. It's you, my mirror self."
"Ahh, yes captain, I'm sorry if we've intruded on your little mission here, but frankly, my ship is being hunted down by Cardassians and Klingons and I need a little peace and quiet to repair my ship."
I almost chuckled, "So you want US to be your bodyguards?"
"Oh yes, I am completely serious. And frankly, I think it would be in your best interest to do so."
"Why would it be in my best interest?"
"Because if you don't, I won't be the only one of my kind here."
"Really? Another armada?"
"We Terrans are a stubborn species."
"Like I haven't noticed. Look, I'll let you and your senior staff come aboard the Calico Jack and explain the rest."
"Fine, we are ready to beam out when you are."
I tapped my comm badge to communicate to transporters. "Lorix, 5 to beam directly to the brig."
"WHY YOU..." the rest of his blabber was muffled by the whirr of the transporter beams.
5 minutes later, I had gone down to the brig with my trusted Breen security officer, Sek, and Temata'rax, the toughest Jem'Hadar I had ever seen.
"So, I ask for the help of my dear mirror twin, and I get thrown in here, I didn't think you had it in you."
"Frankly, the only reason you're in here is you terrans have been known to mutiny and commandeer ships in the past, and frankly I can't take that risk. So, tell me, what is going on?"
"We were part of a task force that was sent into the Donatu system to retrieve...something... for the emperor. As you know, Donatu is on the border to Klingon space, so he only sent the best."
"Looks like the best wasn't enough."
"We were ambushed by the cardassians on our way there, we won and took some very good prizes, but our ships were severely damaged, only the Trident was really in any condition to fight."
"Don't tell me, the other ships stabbed you in the back."
"They cut and ran while my ship got cut to ribbons, I had to cut my losses and run or else I would have been on the casualty list."
"Typical Terran, can't stick around in a good fight!" Temata'Rax piped up.
"I got this Temata, we don't need any help from the peanut gallery."
"Anyway," My mirror self continued. "We were being chased around by Klingons for days until we found a portal to your dimension, so we descided to come here and lick our wounds and wait for some easy prey.
"Didn't expect us, did you?"
"Oh yes we did."
"Roberts to Trident! Open fire all cannons!"
The Trident's cannons opened fire on the Calico Jack, tearing gaping holes in the ship's hull.
"Roberts to trident, 8 to beam up!"
All of us were gone, and had been taken to the Trident Bridge.
Temata'rax was furious, and was ready to take on the entire ship!
"Stand down, Temata, it looks like we are outgunned." I said as 4 security teams surrounded us. But we weren't taken to the brig, we were made to watch as the trident dissected open the Calico Jack's hull bit by bit. Takerra, my first officer had no choice but to run.
"HAHA! Looks like the shoe is on the other foot now, Des."
"So the armada, the Klingons, the Cardassians, it was all a lie."
"Most of it was, the armada, however, is very much real."
Outside the Trident, an armada of 130 Imperial Terran ships began to decloak as mirror Des laughed into the night.
(To possibly be continued)
A Tale of Two Valroonas.
(I'll take the challenge).
For the "Mirror Mirror on the...Viewscreen" challenge.
A Tale of Two Valroonas
By Ld. Kristoffer J Martin aka Lord Relentless
"Captain?s log, stardate 1081766.29 the Drako Occulus arrived as scheduled to an outer region of the Gamma Quadrant to study a strange alien device believed to be left behind by a Dividian incursion into the area," said Vice Admiral Valroona. He sat behind his desk in his ready-room a cup of hot cocoa.
"Admiral," said Cmdr. N'Doran, "the device is within range."
"On screen," said Varoona.
On the main viewer a large spherical object rotated at a slow rate. A silver light emanated from it's surface as it scanned the Drako.
"Sir, we're being scanned," said Oyowhe.
"Raise shields," said Valroona as he stood from his seat.
"Reading a phase variance in its quantum state sir, it looks as though it's going to shift," said N?Doran.
"Quantum shielding," barked Valroona, "brace for impact."
The Dividian device phase shifted expelling a massive amount of photons and anti-photons which rocked the Drako Occulus just as the quantum shielding came online. The ship and her crew were sent flying backwards dragged along by the shockwave.
"I have to admit the new shielding held firm," said Valroona, "I hadn't expected to encounter such a weapon, if it could be called that. However, as my crew and I discovered, the Dividians have reached far and wide."
"Sir we're being hailed."
"Is it the device?" Valroon said, as he picked himself up from the wake.
"No sir, it's uh?" N'Doran sputtered, an uncommon thing for a Klingon as she turned to look at Valroona.
"Spit it out N'doran."
"It's you sir."
"Before me was myself, or, rather, a me from another universe. Of course I had read the reports from the past few hundred years of Star Fleet encounters with alternate universes, but I hadn't thought I'd be involved in such an event. I've experienced Time Travel, even used a quantum cloning device, but this was disconcerting."
"I'm sure this isn't quite what you had expected to see," said the alternate Valroona. He was dressed in a yellow uniform with the insignia of Bajor where his com badge should be. His horns were black and one was cracked, but it was Valroona.
"I am Admiral Roxicorico Fallapatorius Valroona, and you are...uh...me I take it?"
"Admiral, huh, and a Star Fleet officer at that," said the Alternate Valroona. "I am Cardinal Valroona and if we are the same person I can only guess that you were stranded in the Alpha Quadrant as I was??
"Yes, only, it would seem I joined Star Fleet."
"Star Fleet in my universe isn't as you know it to be in your universe. I've actually traveled to this location to use a device that transits realities."
"You knew what it could do?" Valroona walked closer to the view screen. His counterpart's large head stared back at him, their reflective eyes almost blank. "How, our intelligence only suggested it to be of Dividian origin?"
"Dividian, I haven't heard of them. I only know that it was rumors leaked over our spy network on the Terran Empire that suggested it could do what it seems it has done here and now."
"And it was you who activated it?" Valroona looked at himself, "what is it you want? I know that if you are me you wouldn't have come here looking for this device if there wasn't a reason."
"I...we need your help," said the Alternate Valroona, "I was barely hopeful that this device would work as described, but as soon as we arrived it scanned us and a wake of anti-photons and photons bombarded our ship."
"It was as if the device knew exactly what we had come for?or rather the Cardinal Valroona. It was almost coincidental that we arrived at the same time, I say almost because I have my suspicions. Time and quantum flux, the whole concept of destiny certainly can play havoc with the mind. If I had to guess, and I do hope I'm wrong, Q or some other force played into this meeting."
N'Doran hit several buttons on a computer panel and then several others. "Sir," she said, "the anti-photons and the photons are annihilating. The field will dissipate soon."
"Let's get down to it, what do you want?"
"The Terran Empire has expanded and is attacking the Cardassian Bajoran coalition and they're winning. The Klingon Empire has retreated and a new threat known as the Borg has entered our space. We don't stand a chance if we can't gain some advantage."
"So you want technology, weapons, you understand that I can't do that? The prime directive states we shall not interfere with matters that don't concern us."
"It does concern you, that's the problem." The Alternate Valroona tapped a few buttons.
"Sir," said Oyowhe, "we're receiving a transmission."
"That," said the Alt Valroona, "is intel on the plans of the Terran Empire to expand into alternate realities. Devices like this one are scattered throughout the quadrant. If we don't stop them here, then they'll venture into your space."
"As I understand it these incursions have already occurred as the Tholians from your space entered into ours."
"After we confirmed the information it became clear that there was only one course of action. We gave them what they needed."
"Cardinal, I thank you...er...me...us... We are grateful for the information and will begin to search for these devices. If we can disable them on our side maybe we can stop the incursion. As for your request," said Valroona who then nodded at N'Doran, "these are specs for my ship, along with designs for our quantum shields. This is the best we can do for you, use it wisely."
"I will Admiral Valroona, how strange it sounds for me to say that. May the prophets and Adaolin be with you."
"Adaolin's light be with you."
"Admiral, the signal is degrading and the field has decayed," said N'Doran.
"It?s fine. For now put a warning beacon here and setup permanent turrets. I don't want anyone else using this device. Once that's done, set a course for K-7, I'll be in my ready-room."
"Sir," began Oyowhe, "may I speak freely?"
Valroona stopped and nodded.
"How can you trust him? All reports of mirror universe dopplegangers have been that they are the opposite of ourselves. How do we know he won't use our technology to attack and kill?"
"Because I do, I know myself above all else."
"As the photon anti-photon field dissipated the device reappeared and the signal was lost. Though, I didn't have the heart to tell Oyowhe the truth, I trust my other-self far more than I do myself here and now. If the idea that all Mirror Universe people are the polar opposite of their counterparts in this universe, I must conclude logically that it is far more likely he is the so called good Valroona."
"Personal log, I feel that my counterpart couldn't have been nearly as bad as the rumors of mirror universe beings to be. Let us hope that we can both change the course of our futures. By the prophets may we be lead, and by Adaolin's light may our path be lighted, Cardinal Valroona out.?" Whomp Whomp Whomp Whomp Red Alert Whomp Whomp Whomp Whomp...As the video recording continued Cardinal Valroona was shunted to the far wall as the Galor Warship was rocked by several explosions. The video slanted to the left as Valroona crawled back towards the console, "Computer, emergency channel, encryption code Charlie Charlie Baker Alpha Two Two Niner, transmit all data on the transreality exchange to Bajoran high command." "Transmission complete," sputtered the computer as another explosion rocked the ship, throwing Valroona to the floor. On the bottom right side of the video, through the exterior window of Valroona's quarters a quantum torpedo sped towards the room. Valroona, from his prone position, barely visible in the viewfinder, spoke "By the Prophets?" The video ended with a massive energy expulsion.
"We will use the information as best we can Cardinal Valroona, may you find your place with the Prophets." Said a young Bajoran commander, her wide blue eyes trembled with anger and sadness. "We will win this war."
Friend and Foe: A Tale of Two Redskins.
(Literary Challenge 37 Accepted)
Friend and Foe: A Tale of Two Redskins.
By Tommy Hale (@Lord-Ice)
Character: Vice Admiral Rygobeth Lerginas.
"Captain's log, stardate 90667.1. The USS Deliverance has been patrolling the Tau Dewa sector block for some time. Numerous conflicts have been resolved, and several rather odd occurrences have been handled. We are currently en route to the Japori system, responding to a hail by a scientific organization on Japori II. They report an unusual anomaly near Japori VII, and have requested we investigate."
***Vice Admiral Lerginas walked from his ready room onto the cavernous bridge of the retrofit Galaxy-class Dreadnought. The bridge was "Diplomat"-style: Standard Galaxy-class, realistically, but with lighting more to Rygobeth's liking. His height, just over two meters, and his dark red skin made him stand out among the many humans (and near-humans, such as the Trill, Betazoids, and Vulcans) on the bridge. As he neared the center of the room (after only a few long strides), he asked, "Helm, what is our status?"
Kopaka, a refugee from his native Breen Confederacy, reported in the usual robotic tone created by the snout-like mouthpiece on his headgear. "Currently at warp four point two, arriving in Japori VII orbit in two minutes." Knowing her role was up next, Raydza, the ship's Betazoid chief science officer, reported, "Preliminary sensor scans show a large anomalous energy reading near one of the gas giant's larger moons. No sign of vessels nearby, but I wouldn't count out the possibility of Romulan involvement." Rygobeth took the center seat and nodded. "As well you shouldn't Commander. Helm, take us to impulse and put us two hundred thousand kilometers off that anomaly. Raydza and Gollum, prepare a full sensor sweep. Remata'klan," he said to his Jem'Hadar Tactical Officer, "keep an eye out for any possible hostile ships. Shields and weapons to hot standby. I wouldn't put it past the Tal Shiar these days to fake an anomaly just to make a Federation starship disappear." A grunt of acknowledgement came from the genetically-engineered soldier. The low hum of the warp engines lowered in tone before vanishing, replaced by the whine of the impulse engines. In a moment, they were in position. Rygo called for it to be displayed on the main viewer. The anomaly appeared as a cloud of energized gas and dust, electric blue in color. Raydza reported, "Low levels of various types of radiation, including metreon, tachyon, and even some traces of chroniton particles. If I had to speculate, it's some kind of spatial vort-" she was cut short by Remata'klan. "A vessel is emerging from within the anomaly... it is a Qin-class Klingon raptor!" Rygobeth called for shields, even knowing that the soldier would already have them up. Alert klaxons blared as the ship was called to battle stations. Remata'klan growled and said, "We are being hailed." A dozen possibilities rushed through the admiral's head. Why did they lure us here? Why didn't they use their cloak to lure us into a position where they'd be behind us? Why here, why the anomaly? Above all, he wondered, what do they want? They must know they're no match for us. He decided to talk to them. "On screen, Commander." The screen flickered from a view of the raptor, incandescent anomaly behind them, to the dark and dimly-red-lit bridge of the Klingon ship. In the center of the screen was a face familiar to the crew, but still somehow strange. Their captain had dark red skin, pitch-black feline-like eyes, blonde and fur-like eyebrows, and cranial ridges. It was also heavily scarred, but there was no denying it...
The other captain was Rygobeth Ircretian Lerginas.
"Hello captain," the doppelganger of the Determination's CO said, "I need a favor."
***A few minutes later, in the Determination's Conference room.
The display panel in the wall showed a strange device. It was a weapon, a rifle of some kind. Mirror Lerginas had brought it up from a PADD in his hand. "This," he said to the assembled Determination senior staff, "is a multidimensional cascade disruptor. It was developed by a hated enemy of mine and a loyal patriot of the Terran Federation, a captain named Charles Antilles." Rygobeth interjected, "You hate your Antilles? That's ironic. I know that man's variant in this universe; he's a good friend of mine." Mirror Rygobeth smirked. "Yes... fate likes to play such games. I would not doubt that your Antilles and mine share a common aptitude: engineering." Rygobeth nodded. "Yeah. Kind of helps that he was liberated from the Borg Collective a decade or so back." Mirror Lerginas replied, "My Antilles has no such aid, since our Alpha Quadrant has been spared the heavy hand of the Collective. However, he is still a skilled engineer, particularly with weapons. He's had a personal vendetta against me for years, ever since I beat off his ship's advance into Alliance territory. This weapon is his magnum opus. He has acquired time-traveling technology from a traitorous peta'Q of a Klingon named Korath. He intends to go back in time and use this rifle to kill me while I'm still in stasis of that abandoned rock."
Rygobeth perked an eyebrow. "I still fail to see how this concerns me."
Mirror Rygobeth brought up a more detailed schematic of a weapon. "It uses technology similar to the inter-dimensional transporter once used to cross between our two universes, as part of its collimator. However, this device is tuned not for one dimension, but for all. It is a brilliant design. The disruptor bolt surges through the multiverse, striking the same spot with the same power in every universe. Since YOU will be in stasis then, as well, and in that same place, YOU will be destroyed by this disruptor bolt as much as I will. You will never have existed. None of our counterparts will. Antilles intends to wipe us from the entirety of the multiverse."
The true scope of the heinous and evil plot struck Rygobeth. This was not just a hateful Terran's attempt to rid himself of an enemy in a minor power play, this was multidimensional genocide. An immeasurable number of people would die because of this, and they would all be him. At the same moment, several gasps of shock and utterances of disbelief came from the assembled crew, but Rygobeth barely noticed them. The scope of this was appalling... and he knew, it must be stopped. Slowly, he stood. The room went silent as they saw the numbed, blank expression on their CO's face. They knew he was serious... and angry. In his eyes, they saw a primal rage that they all knew too well... although, it usually only came out in times of desperation against the Borg, the murderers of the admiral's parents. When he spoke, it was with a cold, flat and calm determination.
"I want this ship at peak performance. I want security teams posted on all decks, at every access point. I want this vessel to be ready for war. We're following my counterpart back through the anomaly, and we are going to prevent this genocide. Failure is NOT an option. Am I clear?" Each of the crew nodded. Then Rygobeth turned and looked himself in the eye. "Where is he doing this?" His mirror self said, with the same tone, "Captain Antilles is acquiring the technology from Korath on our version of Japori II. That is why the anomaly is here. Undetectable to him, proximity for us."
Rygobeth nodded. "Good idea. What's the plan?" Mirror Rygobeth brought up a scan of the system. Captain Antilles' ship was in orbit of Japori II. "The technology is being installed as we speak. We will likely arrive only in time to pursue him through the rift. We beam down to the surface after him and keep him from getting to the chamber."
Rygobeth brought up a map of the chamber, and the caves leading to it. "If we beam into the chamber itself, we'll have the element of surprise." Mirror Rygobeth shook his head. "We can't beam in there. Some kind of scattering field blocks direct transport." Rygobeth smirked at his battle-scarred alternate. "I visited home not too long ago. I know how to cut through that scattering field. Piece of cake." Mirror Rygobeth nodded with a smile. "Have the protocols transmitted to the Itak, and we'll beam down from there. Your ship is better equipped to keep the rift secure and open." Rygobeth agreed as they exited the conference room, dismissing the bridge crew with a specified hand gesture, then asked, "Itak? As in House of Itak?" His mirror nodded. "Yes. Their warriors found the chamber and awakened my family in the 2350s and took us in. We knew only our names. They accepted us into their house. Q'tar, the leader of the House, is a skilled warrior, despite his age." Rygobeth halted them in the hall. "Q'Tar is alive in your world? Are our parents there, as well?" Mirror Lerginas nodded. "Yes. Our parents are well. They serve as advisors to Q'Tar on his flagship, the Lukor, named for his eldest son." Rygobeth smiled. "I never thought I'd see either of those three again. The Federation awakened my family in 2314. Our parents here were killed in Starfleet's first full-scale engagement with the Borg, at Wolf 359. Their ship was vaporized, lost with all hands. I met Q'Tar later, when serving as a liason to the Klingon thirteenth fleet in the Dominion War. My Q'Tar allowed me into his house shortly before his death in the First Battle of Chin'toka in 2374. I took up his bat'eth and slew his killers. With his dying breath, he bequeathed the sword to me. I still have it. I would much like to see him again, even if it isn't truly him."
Not long after, both ships went through the anomaly and made a warp jump to Japori II. They arrived only in time to see Captain Antilles' ship generate the rift. Diverting all power to their respective engines, they got into the rift just before the temporal cascade wiped them out. In the past, they saw the Terran Sovereign-class ship speeding for the planet. The pair of ships commanded by Rygobeths then moved to execute a coordinated plan. The Determination moved to engage, opening the fight with its Spinal Phaser Lance. The Itak fired its disruptors in a fierce volley before speeding past and beaming the commanders to the chamber. The raptor then turned and moved to engage the Terran vessel while the Determinationworked to keep the rift stable.
On the surface, the door to the stasis chamber opened. Captain Antilles, in standard Terran uniform and conspicuously lacking Borg implants stepped through... and found not one, but two of his worst enemy. Prime Rygobeth held a Tholian Crystalline Sword in his right hand, Mirror Rygobeth hefted a bat'leth. "Ah, hah... Redskin," the Terran taunted, "Wake yourself up early?" Mirror Rygobeth retorted, "Not quite, Ant. This is my counterpart from the Mirror universe. He's Starfleet. An admiral, no less." Rygobeth nodded once. "And the irony is, in my world, your counterpart and I are actually friends. Imagine his face when I get to tell him how his mirror dies." Mirror Antilles laughed. "You Redskins, you all have the same sense of humor. Were you not alien trash, you might be entertaining. But no, you both must die." Antilles slung the rifle and drew a katana from his belt. "Good on you, Ant," said Mirror Rygobeth, "you actually have the dignity to fight!" Antilles scoffed. "How could I pass up the chance to kill you twice, and THEN exterminate you from the cosmos?" Antilles charged at Mirror Rygobeth, but was struck by a purple ball originating from Rygobeth's forehead. Mirror Rygobeth looked over. "What the Gre'thor was that?"
"Low-level telekinetic pulse. We can all do it. Even you." Mirror Rygobeth smirked. "Maybe you can teach me later. For now, we have a baktag to butcher." Antilles had just started to get up when Rygobeth charged. The swing was forceful, and Antilles barely parried it. He tried to return with a diagonal cut, but Rygobeth stepped aside and allowed the blade to cut air, even as Mirror Rygobeth's sword cleaved down. There was no time to avoid it as the double-spiked end of the Klingon sword buried itself in the Terran's left Subclavian. He stood there a moment, but fell as his body shook from the sword being ripped out. Rygobeth stepped over the Terran, the body directly under him, and ensured that he was indeed dead. The head rolled away. Mirror Rygobeth took out his disruptor pistol and vaporized first the rifle, then the Terran remains. "He was a good swordsman," the Alliance captain commented, "but two of us was too much, I suppose." Rygobeth nodded, then said, "Over here. There are transporters. They still work. I can beam us back to our ships. The rift will close once we go through again. Oh, and from the look of these readings, your ship took out Antilles' vessel. It's dust." Mirror Rygobeth laughed. "About time the infamous Guillotine burned in space. Qapla'!"
The pair of ships returned to their own time. Rygobeth spared a visit with his old friend Q'Tar and, for the first time in forty-two years... Rygobeth again saw his parents. While it made him happy, he eventually faced again that his parents were dead. He thanked their company, and took the Determination back to his universe. He began to file his report to Starleet Command, but laughed as he sat behind his desk. As his ship warped to its next adventure, he propped his feet on the table and grinned evilly, imagining Admiral Antilles' face when Rygobeth told him how he had killed him. Yes, he thought, that will make a WONDERFUL story.
Captain's Log, Stardate 90666.9
My crew was finishing his work on a damaged subspace communication array when an ion storm bursted out of nowhere. Of the thirty four men who were outside, working on the array, only six were beamed aboard, roasted...
Damage reports are coming in each minute, all main EPS systems: tactical, engines, sensors and communications are offline. Our auxiliary battery has been fused and is unusable. Life support is failing rapidly deck by deck. I have ordered emergency protocol alpha. Everyone, myself including, is suiting up for an anti-atmospheric environment.
My ship is now a derelict in space. Me and several other mens are going to salvage the satellite. I hope we can find all the pieces my engineering crew needs before any other ion storm pops out.
It's useless, we will never bring my ship back online with this communication array. Our best hope is to send a distress signal on all Starfleet subspace frequencies with the satellite.
A ship answered our hail, audio only. They'll arrive in this sytem in 2 days.
I can't believe it! The other ship's crew is a copy of mine. Their ship is like mine. Am I dreaming? Is all of this real?
Their captain, my clone, is willing to give me replacement parts on one condition. That I should stay away from the next Terran Empire Incursion! He says he would not enjoy killing me so soon...
Work is underway and engines are back online, life support is stabilizing and we will be able to transwarp soon enough.
However, I can't stop thinking about all this unreal event. Was it real? Was I really saved by myself? As I look in the mirror, I clearly see now that he might be the exact opposite of me.
I wonder if any experience of this kind were met by other captains.
The U.S.S. Aquarion is heading for its next assignment; patrolling the Alpha Trianguli block for signs of True Way activity. Captain Ray sits in the captain's chair, thankful that he and his crew have a relatively sedate assignment after the chaotic assignments they've been given over the last year.
"Captain, picking up a coded message, on our sub-band. Source... 2 Light years. Heading 150 mark 4" Pi said, his eyes transfixed on his console.
"On screen." I said, "Loeba, change course to intercept source."
"Aye, sir! Course laid in" Loeba said, her hands dancing across the helm.
With the ship now heading for the source we looked at the message. The video feed seemed to have been falsified. But one thing was clear: someone, or something, wanted me at those co-ordinates.
"It's clearly a trap." Six said, rolling her eyes.
"Of course it is" I responded "But how many traps have we walked into and gotten out of lately? I doubt anyone has enough knowledge about us and is dumb enough to try anyway." A broad grin had broken my vacant expression.
"Coming into visual range of the source." Loeba piped up, "Loading sensor image to main viewscreen."
The image held something I was not expecting, but not unprepared for... a Type-10 shuttle with imperial markings. What did catch me by surprise was the occupant, myself... kinda.
"Awright there, bawbag! I need a wee favour fae yeh." Amuro boomed across the vewscreen. He had acquired a large trio of scars across his face, one of them impeding his goatee, which now had a sizable bald spot and as a result of this, looked rather stupid.
"You will address me as 'Captain'. Standby." I said to him. I turned to Zazhid, "Shields up now, I don't trust him."
I accessed the site-to-site transporter, bringing the belt to the bridge. "Pi, scan for anything unusual, and I mean anything."
I picked up the belt which had materialised on the floor, affixing it to my waist before returning to the chair.
"Nothing unusual on sensors, Captain." Pi said.
"OK, put myself back on." I said.
"Guess yeh don' trust me, aye? Why no beam me aboard an we can gibber, face tae face?" Amuro said.
"Prepare for beamout." I said to Amuro. Closing the feed, I turned to Six "Beam him to the Brig, I see you down there."
I turned to enter the brig, and saw Amuro laying on the cell bed. "If yeh cannae trust yersel, what does that say aboot yeh?" Amuro said.
"That's just it, you're not me. You are the opposite of me. What is this favour you sought me out for." I asked.
"Oh that was just to get you here, just long enough for..."
BANG! The hull is rocked by heavy torpedo barrage. 27 Imperial warships had decloaked in a surrounding formation and were pummeling the Aquarion. Among them was the I.S.S. Epyon, Amuro's flagship.
"Oops, is the widdle Captain stuck in a spot ae bother?" Amuro laughed maniacally while signalling for beamout.
I was beamed into a holding cell aboard the Epyon, my attempts to hail the Aquarion blocked by a signal scrambler. Perfect.
"Amuro, you are not leaving this battle alive." I said to him, my voice flat in a tone of gravitas.
"Oh? I think I will, and you will address me as 'Admiral'." Amuro beamed "Let him watch the destruction of his ship and the death of his crew."
Amuro had begun to head for the door of the brig when the ship intercom flickered into life "Admiral, two ships have just appeared on sensors from nowhere! An Odyssey class battleship and an Atrox class carrier. Both ships have federation transponder codes!"
"Captain, how did two of your vessels approach us unannounced? We know you don't have cloaking technology outfitted for those ships."
"Spoilers." I said tapping my nose.
"Transport!" My belt had entered the conversation.
Cagalli, Char, and a dozen Maco's all beamed into the cell.
"Bit crowded in here." I chuckled.
"I brought something for that. First, you'll need this." Cagalli said, handing me the driver. "Code's entered already"
"Henshin!" I said into the driver, before slamming it into the belt and donning the armour.
Admiral Ray stood in awe at the sight of a strike team infiltrating his ship so easily while its shields were still online. "How... SECURITY TO THE BRIG! INTRUDERS!"
"Mathis! Charge the horn, we need to break this field!" I shouted at Mathis, deafening myself a little in the process.
"Och Aye, doin it noo!" Mathis beamed in his usual cheery tone.
"Tsuranuke!" I cried out while ramming through the cell's forcefield with ease.
"Admiral. Meet Cagalli, second-in-command of Pegasus and technological mastermind. Don't anger her any further, as she's liable to crush your head in her hand." I said to Amuro, barely able to keep a straight face, not that he could see it.
"I'm not afraid of you." Amuro said to Cagalli.
"All that says to me is you're either incredibly brave, stupid or ignorant. The Q continuum are afraid of me. You should be." Cagalli said, crushing the support strut on her immediate left merely by closing her left hand.
"Umm... Ah surrender?" Amuro said.
"Not today. Done with giving you second chances. Finish him off, Cagalli. Keep it painless as possible." I said, frustrated by the number of times my Mirror has crossed over to try and kill me. "Mathis, signal the ships to engage and destroy, deploy all assets. Order recall of away teams with ten second delay."
"On it!" Mathis cheered.
I turned to see Cagalli spin round, landing her right heel on Amuro's temple, moments before his head was splattered across the bulkhead.
"That was... messy. Let's go home." I said.
"How am I gonna explain the execution of my mirror to the Admiralty..."
Captain's Log, Stardate 98765.54.
My...counterpart in the Mirror Universe has contacted me. He wishes to speak with me in private, but remembering our previous encounters, I have the feeling that he wants to kill me.
Starfleet Vice Admiral George Aubrey was examining his recent custom modifications to his ship's weapons and engine systems when he was summoned to the bridge by his communications officer, a Reman soldier by the name of T'kek.
"What is it, soldier?"
"Multiple ships decloaking off the port bow, captain. They have Terran markings, should we go to--"
"RED ALERT! ARM PHASERS AND TORPEDOES, ALL AVAILABLE POWER TO FORWARD SHIELDS!!" the captain of the U.S.S. Harbinger ordered.
"Really, Admiral? Is that the best way to greet an old friend? I admit, attempting to kill you and THEN stealing your ship isn't the best way I could have started things off, but seriously, I am here to..ask for your..help", the leader of the Terran battlegroup said. Being of the Mirror Universe, he was extremely similar to Admiral Aubrey, with the exception of far more scars and a goatee.
"Captain, how..great to see you again. I see you have acquired a new ship, not dissimilar to the Harbinger", said the Prime Universe Aubrey.
"I do have permission to beam aboard, Admiral. I already cleared it with your superiors, and they told me I can bring my soldiers over."
"Wha-- nobody brings SOLDIERS on to MY ship without prior clearance from me, captain. I am quite sure you are well aware of that, yes? Close channel. Isko'Ralan, bring your security team to the transporter room, ASAP."
Meanwhile on the engineering deck, Terran commandos had already devastated the internal defence systems and breached main engineering.
"Andorian scum. You DO realise that it's hopeless? Your captain doesn't even know about this boarding party, which means goodnight for you...PERMANENTLY! HA-HA!
The chief engineer, an Andorian by the name of Tharyn Alzelaph, had been captured along with the entire engineering crew. He didn't seem afraid, and - to his credit - defiantly stared at the commandos as they barricaded themselves in. Unfortunately for the Terrans, the Jem'Hadar security chief - and his team - were already inside, hidden by their Dominion Shroud Generators...
soon to be followed up
I present for your viewing displeasure another shameful adventure of the infamous Commander Khas Ke'r'at, inscrutable space bug of the future!
Today's adventure is entitled "Bridging the Tain" wherein Khas is compared unfavorably to his mirror counterpart.
Somewhere in the Alpha quadrant is an ancient and reeking world. For untold millions of years, it has remained climatologically and geologically stable. It's inhabitants have become so specialized that, should calamity ever befall it, the delicate web of life there could collapse in a few generations. It is a nightmare world of vast, fetid jungles and skittering, arachnoid predators. It is called Arkath and, as always, its precarious position weighs heavily on the chitin-covered mind of Starfleet's sole Arkathian.
Khas exhaled slowly and removed the nine kilo tome that lay carefully balanced on the top of his head. Delicately, he placed it on the desk in front of him and rubbed the surface gently. It was his personal copy of the Akzat'rrrrr Vahosh Nk't YooK Yook Yook (which translates roughly to The Horrible Precarious Position of Arkath Among The Stars Coloring Book) and his only memento of home. As such it elicited a certain amount of quiet, hateful sentimentality in the Arkathian Commander's three gas/nutrient fluid exchange pumps.
The intercom on Khas' desk chimed gently and Khas shook away his lonely thoughts of home. "Khas," he acknowledged, his voice a deep, rasping, flat monotone.
"Sir, scanners have turned up something unusual in the Azola system. Seems to be a ship. It's broadcasting, but the signal's too scattered at this point for us to make any sense of it." The the chipper, feminine voice belonged to Tarayl, his enthusiastically sociopathic Chief Science Officer.
"How far out is it?"
"Looks like, say, two hours at Warp 5."
"Very good. Set a course in, Warp 5. Page Lieutenant Commander Shanda and have her report to the bridge in an hour and a half." Shanda was Khas' Andorian first officer and the closest thing he had to a friend.
Tarayl's snerked quietly before responding. "Oh, aye, sir. She'll love that."
Khas scowled curiously. "Explain."
"She, uh...had a social engagement."
Khas took a moment to process the various implications that statement held. His scowl deepened. "Acknowledged," he grumbled before cutting the comm line. He shook his head and closed his eyes. "Gross," he muttered.
Khas strode jerkily onto the bridge and nodded in acknowledgement to Lieutenant Tarayl and Lieutenant Commander Shanda. "Report."
Shanda offered Khas one of those horrible twist-lipped expressions of non-disgust. "It's a ship, sir. The broadcast seems to be some sort of high-powered sensor sweep. The ship doesn't match anything on record. It's got roughly the same displacement as an Intrepid class. It's staying still. We're close enough for a visual, but they've made no attempt to hail us yet."
"Bring us to a full stop and put the ship on screen."
Khas leaned forward and gazed at the ship in on the primary view screen. It was black, vaguely wedge-shaped, and jagged. A trio of nacelle-like structures connected to the ship's center on sweeping pylons and purple-lit windows shone dimly on the surface. There was something strangely familiar about it. It looked a bit...like home.
"Oh, they've finally decided to hail us, Captain." Tarayl chimed. "Puttin' it on screen."
The face that loomed into view was, Khas thought, well-formed. Handsome. A broken cranial plate gave the face's owner a rather rakish flair. It was certainly Arkathian, which was a bit of a surprise. And, aside from the missing bit of chitin, was identical to his own. This was a somewhat larger surprise.
The bridge officers remained quietly professional, but Khas noticed the momentary flashes of surprise on their faces.
"I am Secondary Vessel Commander Khas of the Arkathian Defense Fleet vessel D'gor Ak. Despite the, frankly, astronomical odd against us meeting, you seem to be my counterpart." The face on the screen rumbled.
"I am Commander Khas of the Federation Starship Bride of Quiet. And, yes, the odds are ridiculous. I also note a lack of a cunning plan to lure me here specifically." Khas replied.
"Indeed, though incalculably unlikely, our meeting was coincidental. Still, this is fortuitous. We would like to speak to you." Khas noticed that his mirror counterpart looked worried. Arkathians don't really feel fear, but there was a nervous quickness to his manner that caused Khas some alarm.
"Before we do, I can assume you are from that...other universe? The one with the Terrans?"
"Yes. Though in this universe it seems the Arkathians were integrated peacefully into the Federation rather than invaded by the Terran Empire." The face scowled hopefully.
"That is correct. What brings you here? And do you come in peace?"
"Peace is what brings us. The Terran Empire invaded Arkath in force twenty years ago. They've been busy with greater wars so we've managed to drive out their small occupying force and construct a few small warships to guard our system. It won't be enough. The conflict has already damaged Arkath terribly and less than a third of the surface is suitable for habitation. Most of the Primary females are dead and those that survive are young. Our race will not survive another three generations. We need help. I have been sent to request asylum for our people."
Khas felt the worry and the sadness in that voice. It was a scenario from his own nightmares. Or would be if he slept. Still, the mirror universe was a treacherous place and it could have been a deception. Worse yet, accepting an influx of refugees from a mirror universe would have far reaching, but unknowable consequences for the future. This would be a profoundly important moment for the Federation. Khas, shrugged away the thoughts and clacked his forelimbs together, an Arkathian gesture that contained the qualities of recognized peer-ship, uncertainty, and immanent bureaucracy.
"Understood, Secondary Vessel Commander. I find your tale worrying. Even if help can be provided, it will not come quickly. I also lack the authority to make any binding promises in this regard. Still, if you are willing to accompany us to Bangor station and submit to a thorough examination of your vessel, I will put you in contact with both Starfleet Command and the Genarchs of Arkathia. Do you agree to this?"
The mirror Khas nodded slowly. "Yes. Time runs short. Pride is secondary to survival. We will shut off our beacon and follow you. Our vessel can only manage warp six."
"I'll have my comm officer relay you the coordinates and you'll keep in formation with us. We will speak at length later, but for now I have to attend my duties." The mirror Akrathian returned the gesture with a similar one that also contained the quality of resigned acceptance.
Khas cut the line and looked slowly around the bridge. "Thoughts?"
Tarayl rubbed her chin and scowled, a parody of Khas' own usual expression. "I think he's cuter than you are."
Khas scowled unhappily in return. "Gross."
On the viewscreen, a human female grinned. Her bright red hair was straight and flowing around her shoulders. Scars ran across the left eye from the forehead to the cheek and most of the damage was covered by a black eye patch. She was clearly sitting in a shuttlecraft since the background revealed walls and functional panels with no other crew member in sight. "Hello captain," says Kathryn Beringer, "I have a favor to ask."
Everyone looking at the viewscreen on the bridge of the Solaris was stunned. Some looked to their captain for a response; others just sat quietly, fingers raised above their stations waiting for orders.
Captain Beringer stood from the command chair. "I wondered if I'd ever meet ... me."
The one with the eye-patch raised her head without looking away. "Under other circumstances, I wouldn't care to and doubt we would have. I'm glad to see you're still alive. For now." Her grin widened.
Kathryn lowered her head and looked at the screen sternly. "You're right, I shouldn't care either." She looked to her Tactical Officer. "Anthi, remove that shuttle from this universe."
"Belay that order," shouted Kathryn from the screen. The Andorian heard her 'captain's' voice and paused; it was all the time the visitor needed. "I can save the Federation."
Kathryn raised her hand and Anthi caught that queue then sat back in her chair.
"I'm reluctantly listening."
Kathryn on the screen waved a finger. "We need to talk privately. I'll meet you on your ship as a sign of good faith."
Kathryn on the ship crossed her arms and considered the offer; the taste of ordering her alternate-self a quick phaser-fueled death was on the tip of her tongue, but the idea that one person had the means to 'save' the Federation was too-good to pass. Yet, any person to say something like that must be desperate and in a low position to bargain or negotiate ... and that appealed to Kathryn.
"Lower your shields, prepare to be transported."
On the screen, Kathryn stood and walked to the center of the shuttle with raised hands. "I surrender," she said with a perfectly toothy grin.
30 minutes later, in the Officer's Ready Room
“That's insane.” Kathryn Beringer was visibly angry at her alternate universe self.
“That's the way of the universe,” replied the other Kathryn.
The 'prime' Kathryn sat like a statue staring at the eye patch. “So the part about saving the Federation was a ruse?”
“Of course it was! I’m staring down the barrel of a gun and needed to get out of the way. Look, I can't be in two places at once. But for this, I must be and you’re my only way out.”
“This is really thin, Captain. Why should I help you? Like I said earlier, I shouldn't care at all for your problems.”
The other Captain nodded. “I asked for a favor ... as much as I hate to ask. This is a quid pro quo situation. Basically, you'll have a one-time ally, you have my word.” Another toothy grin followed.
Kathryn grinned. “What is the value of your word?”
The alternate Kathryn's grin faded and she leaned over the table. “Captain, I'm sure we differ in many ways, but I'll kill you before you question my honor again. We know how big the galaxy is, and every starship Captain can use all the help they can get.” She crossed her arms and sat back.
15 minutes later, in the Captain's Ready Room, all Chiefs are present with the ‘prime’ Captain Beringer, the alternate Kathryn beamed back to her shuttle ...
“Respectfully, I do not approve of this course of action.” Anthi's Andorian voice was stern.
Chief Science Officer Omazei spoke next. “Captain, I appreciate your risk-taking in the past but this is beyond reason.” Her demure Trill form hiding the inner strength she displayed so often on the Bridge.
Finally, the hulking Andorian Thel, Solaris' Chief Engineer crossed his arms and frowned, but otherwise was silent.
Kathryn looked to each as they presented their opinions in their own way, and then nodded. “I understand. Nonetheless it is happening.” She raised a hand to stop the continued protest. “I appreciate your concern, but I assure you taking this 'job' may actually have a payoff worth the investment. Look, we've been through a lot together and if I have earned any trust then I'm cashing it all in all on this one.”
“Why?” Omazei was uncharacteristically blunt.
“Because I believe the ends justify the means.”
1 hour later, on board Abyssal, alternate Kathryn Beringer's flagship ...
In the room, the two women looked at each other, one an exact copy of the other. The Captain of the ship beamed with a bright smiled. “Your Science Officer did an amazing job replicating that scar. Now all you need to do is be a real ***** to my bridge crew. Remember, look over their shoulder and correct something, anything. If they snarl or say anything … pistol whip them into compliance. You shouldn't have too many problems really. They know what it's like.”
“Just get this done quick. The more I think about it, the less your offer appeals to me.”
Kathryn smirked. “That's the Federation in you.”
The modified Kathryn rolled her eye, took a step away, cleared her throat and stalked into the corridor leading to the turbolift. The other Kathryn checked her combat harness to make sure all the components were in place. Once satisfied she waited another several minutes; just enough time required to get from this room to the Bridge. She gave another two minutes then walked the opposite direction down the corridor.
Several minutes later she came to a crew quarter door and looked both ways before requested access. The door opened to reveal a naked male. The Deltan smirked. “It's about time you came around to my way of thinking.”
Kathryn pushed on past him. “Daikar, we don’t have much time.”
“Well then, I'm sorry to report, but you're going to be late.” He started to caress Kathryn's shoulders and she responded by leaning into his muscular chest while fidgeting with the straps to her the combat harness, its clamps unsnapping almost rhythmically to his kisses on her neck. Daikar's hands moved from her thighs and under the straps as if trying to assist its removal.
Kathryn stepped forward from his arms and turned. In her hands was a small pistol whose power charge was warming up. Daikar's face contorted from surprise to anger. “What's the meaning of this?”
“You will never touch another woman again.” She pulled the trigger and the thin Tetryon beam lanced into the darkness. Daikar tried to scream but the beam burned first into his throat. As his skin boiled then dissolved subatomically, Kathryn dragged the beam down. The charge expired silencing the weapon as Daikar’s body collapsed to the floor. Almost fifty percent of his body was disintegrated. The acrid smell of exposed internal organs assaulting her sense of smell, Kathryn gagged then pressed her communication badge. The signal to her compatriot sent, she exited the room as quietly as she entered.
On the bridge of Abyssal, Kathryn's badge chirped. She stood over the still form of a Tellerite on the deck with her phaser pistol in one hand. She looked around at the others then pointed in a wide arc without saying a word. The rest of the bridge crew looked at their respective consoles in submission.
“Tactical, you have the con,” she barked. “And get this scum off my bridge floor.” As a Terran officer shuffled toward the fallen comrade, Kathryn slowly walked toward the turbolift. Once inside, she smirked as the doors closed.
Marcus Kane felt the cold shiver of the transporter effect ripple through him, before the transporter room of the USS Valkyrie solidified around him.
"Welcome aboard, Admiral," said Commander Rynar Lambert, extending his hand. "How are you?"
Stepping from the transporter platform, Kane reached out and shook Lambert's hand.
"Fine, thank you, Commander," he replied, as they left the transporter room. "Another day older than I was yesterday."
"Which was the plan," Lambert commented as they turned a corner to head for the turbolift. "Captain Palmer said she would meet you in her quarters so you could discuss your mission."
"Indeed it was, and that's fine." Kane replied, as the doors sighed open. "Deck one, main corridor."
The turbolift seemed to barely move, before the doors opened again, and Kane and Lambert stepped out into the corridor facing the captain's quarters. Lambert indicated toward the bridge access doors.
"If you'll excuse me, Admiral?"
"Absolutely, Commander," Kane replied, reaching out to tab the door pad with his thumb, as Lambert turned and strode onto the bridge.
"Come in," came the sound of Captain Amanda Palmer's voice, so Kane strode forwards, the doors sliding aside at his approach.
Amanda Palmer looked up from her desk and smiled as she saw Kane enter her quarters.
"Welcome aboard, Marc," she said, in the familiar way they reserved for private conversation. "I wasn't expecting to see you so soon after your last... visit... You've actually just missed S'rR's, she and Doctor Ramoray have taken a shuttle to deliver medical supplies to a research colony. How are you?"
"Aging," Kane replied, as Palmer came round from behind her desk and kissed his cheek in greeting. "And yes, I got a communique from her while en-route aboard the Solaris."
"So what brings you aboard today?" Palmer asked as she crossed to the replicator. "Would you like anything?"
"Coffee will be fine," Kane replied, taking a seat on the low couch. "And you don't need to worry, Manda, I'm not here to track down Borg cubes, Klingon battle cruisers, or any other kind of shenanigans. I'm simply here for some crew efficiency reports."
Palmer's eyes widened as she turned from the replicator with a tray with a coffee pot and cups. "I was under the impression that the Valkyrie was one of the most efficient ships in the fleet," she said. "Is there a problem with our performance?"
"None whatsoever," Kane replied. "And you're absolutely right, it is. I'm here to get the crew's reports on the efficiency of the ship itself. It was launched in 2370, and is due for servicing and upgrades. The ASDB asked me to interview the senior staff and department heads to get some feedback on what they actually want to see installed."
Palmer raised an eyebrow as she began to pour the coffee.
"Oh, that's a pleasant surpri-" she said, before cutting herself off as the deck shuddered, and the lighting dropped indicating a red alert.
"Captain Palmer, report to the bridge," said Lambert's voice over the intercom.
"On our way, Commander," Palmer said, as she and Kane left her quarters, before crossing the corridor to enter the bridge.
"Admiral on the bridge!" Lieutenant Brandon Mayer called out from the ops console.
"Report," Palmer demanded, crossing to her command chair and sitting. In deference to Kane, Lambert did not take his own seat beside the captain, but instead moved to the tactical console.
"We were responding to a distress call from the ship on screen, but as soon as we came into range, they opened fire. Main power is holding, but they took out our shields with a single shot," he reported.
Palmer looked to the viewscreen, and the unfamiliar configuration of the ship on it. It had a twin hull design reminiscent of the D'deridex-Class, with the upper wings swooping forward from a raised point, and the lower wings projecting forward like a boomerang, before blending into the forward section. Instead of a raptor-shaped forward section of a Romulan warbird, the forward hull flared like a cobra head. The hull's ablative armor was a purple-mottled silver.
"Analysis?" She enquired.
"Almost four hundred fifty meters length," Mayer reported. "Sensors show tetryon weapons in addition to phasers, disruptor banks and multiple torpedo launchers. Energy signature from the engines is like that of an artificial singularity. We're out matched in just about every way."
"Thank you, Lieutenant," Palmer replied, before turning to Kane. "Admiral?"
"I've never seen anything like it," he admitted. "I don't have a good feeling about this."
Mayer looked up from his console, astonishment clear on his handsome face.
"Captain, we're being hailed, or rather, you're being hailed, by name."
"Onscreen," Palmer commanded, rising from her command chair, and standing with her hands loosely crossed behind her back.
The image of the ship vanished, to be replaced by a view of the ship's bridge, and Palmer felt her breath catch in her chest, as she found herself confronted with a doppelganger.
"I'm Captain Amanda Palmer, commanding officer of the Federation Starship Valkyrie. Who are you, and why have you fired on my vessel after putting out a false distress signal?"
On the viewscreen, the doppleganger's lips quirked in a sinister smile.
"I'm also Amanda Palmer, captain of the private ship Renovatio. As I'm sure you're aware, my ship totally outguns yours, and could blast you into oblivion. We are in fact on a medical mission, and you have the one thing on board which we require."
"If you require assistance or supplies, you had only to ask," Palmer responded. "We do not have to be coerced into offering assistance."
The sinister doppelganger smiled wickedly.
"In that case, you will immediately turn Admiral Kane over to my custody."
"I don't understand," Palmer admitted. "You said you were on a medical mission. What possible reason could you have for requiring the Admiral?"
"I have someone on board who is in need of a very specific transfusion," replied the doppelganger. "If you do not turn over the Admiral immediately, I will be forced to destroy your ship, and retrieve his remains from the debris cloud."
"That won't be necessary," Kane interjected, rising and standing beside Palmer. "The safety of this vessel outweighs my own well-being. I will willingly turn myself over to your custody if I have your word that you will take no further hostile action against this ship."
"You have it, Admiral," replied the doppelganger. "You have ninety seconds to have yourself beamed aboard. That will give you time to get to a transporter room, and nothing else. If you take any longer than the allotted time, well, my past statement will come into effect."
The viewscreen winked back to the intimidating display of the Renovatio, and Palmer turned to Kane.
"You can't be thinking of going along with this?!" she protested, but Kane was already heading for the turbolift.
"I have no choice, Manda," he replied, stepping into the turbolift with Palmer close behind him. "The odds are against us, and refusing is not an option, given the firepower she has at her disposal. Deck Two."
"But there has to be another option," Palmer insisted as the doors closed.
Kane shook his head.
"There's no time," he replied as the doors re-opened. "If I delay beaming over, that ship is quite capable of destroying the Valkyrie, and as she said, my remains could still be gathered. I cannot allow my presence to compromise the safety of this ship and her crew."
They turned out of the corridor into the transporter room, and Palmer dismissed the transporter operator with a gesture.
"At least let me keep an active lock on you..." she suggested. "Lure them into a false sense of security and then I can pull you back."
"I think the time has come to say goodbye, Manda," Kane replied somberly, stepping onto the transporter platform. "From an angry cadet on the verge of expulsion from the Academy, to the commander of a starship. I couldn't be more proud of how your career has progressed."
Palmer tried to smile, but was unable to, and tears rolled down her cheeks.
"Thank you, Marc," she said, her hand gliding over the control panel. "Thank you for believing in me."
As his eyes returned to focus, Kane found himself facing the alternate Amanda Palmer, who was wearing a smart all in one jumpsuit better suited to a business meeting than a starship. She was flanked by Borg drones, who immediately moved forwards to grab Kane, and before he could do anything, their assimilation tubules shot from their hands, spearing through his uniform and into his flesh, followed by what felt like ice spreading from the injection sites.
"Mmm, you're more handsome than my employer lead me to believe," Amanda purred, as Kane's legs buckled, and if it were not for the drones, he would have collapsed to the deck. He was half dragged, half carried into a corridor which looked more like a luxury cruiser than a Federation starship. He could feel the nanoprobes spreading through his body, entire areas becoming numb, and he had to struggle to put one thought in front of the other.
"I assume that your employer is the reason I am here?" he slurred, as he was hauled into a room and secured to a biobed.
"You assume correctly," Amanda replied, tapping notes into her PADD. "In case you hadn't already guessed, I, my employer, and this ship, are from what your colleagues so quaintly refer to as the Mirror Universe."
"And to think the reports I've read stated that conditions in that dimension were less than luxurious," Kane muttered, struggling to breathe.
"While there are indeed areas of poverty, and Terra is not somewhere worth visiting, there are equally areas of financial prosperity, especially for singular individuals who have the vision to capitalize on those areas."
"Such as your employer," Kane gasped raggedly, as the doors slid open.
"You should give yourself more credit," Amanda replied, as a tall man with a head of thick grey hair entered the room. He had a neatly clipped beard, and sharp, angular features, which were unmistakeable.
"Ahh, thank you, Miss Palmer," he said. "Is everything ready"
"Just running some last minute adjustments, sir," Amanda replied, looking down at her PADD.
The older man nodded. "Introductions and explanations are in order," he said. "Do I look familiar? My name is Marcus Darien Kane, and I am the head of Kane Industries. This ship, is my finest creation."
"You're my counterpart?" Kane replied incredulously, breathing now almost an impossibility. "There would appear to be a discrepancy in our ages and appearances."
The older man chuckled, and nodded. "Call me Darien, I always preferred our middle name. Unlike you, I was not killed test piloting, and am not only quite mortal, but running out of time thanks to a rather nasty virus I picked up on Cardassia. You, however, are going to help me change that."
"I hate to break it to you, but so am I," replied Kane. "I recently underwent a procedure which rendered me mortal, and thanks to your drones, I don't think I'll be alive much longer"
Darien laughed and began to cough, before recovering himself.
"Oh I'm well aware of that, but don't worry, the nanoprobes will soon get that genetic encoding working the way I want," he said. "Don't misunderstand the situation in which you find yourself. I have spent my entire adult life following in my father's footsteps: Designing weapons and selling them to the highest bidder, namely the Alliance, and have lived a satisfying life. Unfortunately, money cannot buy health, and I find myself requiring a genetic transplant in order to survive. With my brother being long dead, that makes you the only available donor, and I have absolutely no intention of dying."
"My twin brother, Alexander," Darien replied, lowering himself onto another biobed. "Damn fool died orbital skydiving not so long after our twenty eighth birthday. His anti-grav harness and chutes failed, and when they opened his suit, there weren't many parts which were connected to each other anymore, and as you know, separating an immortal's head from their body is a permanently fatal injury. Even if Alex had become immortal upon that death, the injuries themselves were quite unrecoverable. No, I am afraid that you are my only option, and it behooves me to tell you, you will not leave this ship alive."
"Get it over with," Kane spat defiantly.
"As you wish," Darien replied obligingly, before turning to Amanda. "Miss Palmer, initiate the static transport sequence on our guest."
With a nod, Amanda entered commands into a console, and even through the numbness caused by the nanoprobes, Kane felt the beginning shiver of a transporter, then nothing.
"Miss Palmer, initiate the static transport sequence on our guest."
The words over the open comm-line were enough to spur Palmer and Mayer into action, and they worked furiously over the transporter console.
"He's dematerializing," Mayer said, his eyes fixed onto the sensor readings. "Emergency transport now!" Palmer's fingers flew over the console, locking onto the coordinates and initiating transport.
An indicator lit up, and she slapped the console in frustration.
"Frak!" she cursed, "The targeting scanners weren't able to lock onto him in time!"
Scowling with concentration, Mayer rapidly input commands into the console.
"I'm boosting power to the Heisenberg compensator and annular confinement beam. Lock onto the matter stream in the pattern buffer and re-energize."
"What?! Will that even work?" Palmer demanded.
"One way to find out, Captain," Mayer replied, inputting a final sequence. Palmer slid her hand up the console, and lights shimmered and danced in the transporter, gradually coalescing into a Human form.
Palmer tabbed another control, then began to slide her hand back down the console, beginning the reintegration sequence.
As soon as the sequence finished, Kane collapsed to the deck like a marionette with the strings cut.
At once, Mayer and Palmer were at his side, Palmer rolled him onto his back, and gasped when she saw the telltale black tracks on his neck and face of a nanoprobe infestation. Mayer drew his tricorder, an ominously steady tone whistled from the small device as he played it over Kane's still form.
Palmer looked to Mayer, unable to bring herself to speak, but the lieutenant still understood her question and shook his head.
"I'm sorry, Captain," he said. "I'm not picking up any cellular regeneration or neural activity whatsoever. He's gone."
Amanda struggled with the controls of the transporter, throwing the system into a diagnostic to buy her a few seconds to think. So much of Kane's pattern had been literally ripped from the pattern buffer, it would be impossible to re-materialize him, but that was not her priority. The second pattern, Darien's, was cycling strongly through the pattern buffer, it was simply a matter of combining the patterns and rematerializing whatever resulted. Crossing her fingers, Amanda continued to operate the console with her thumbs and pinky fingers, and in the air before her, a form began to solidify. The color of the hair was her first clue, it was no longer silver, but deep brown, and the face was youthful. The slate grey eyes snapped open, and he raised his hands, flexing his fingers, turning them over and examining them, before looking up and fixing Amanda with a powerful stare.
"Well done, Miss Palmer, it would appear that we have been successful," he said, before looking up to address the ship's intercom. "Bridge, this is Darien Kane. Initiate dimensional displacement, get us out of here."
Lieutenant Brandon Mayer sat in the command chair and surreptitiously shifted his position, feeling the vertebra in his neck and back pop, as he cast an eye to the viewscreen, and the streaking starfield.
"Status report?" he enquired, hoping he sounded casual rather than bored.
"En route to Delta Pavonis system at warp seven," Ensign T'Natra reported crisply from the helm. "ETA at Caladan in nine hours."
"Acknowledged," Mayer replied, glancing down at the console between the command chair and vacant first officer's chair, which he had set to give a running list of replicated items, as was his habit while in command of the gamma shift.
Frowning, Mayer scrolled back up the list and called up a replicator ID for the TR-116A
Replicator Main System Bay: Authorization Kane Beta Nine
"Siri..." Mayer sighed, boosting himself out of the command chair. "Ensign, you have the bridge," he said, as he headed for the turbolift. "Deck Five."
The turbolift doors opened, and Mayer strode out, turned the corner, and entered the main replicator system bay. Inside, he found Lieutenant S'rR's Kane working the console. While she wore her standard uniform boots and pants, she was not wearing her jacket, but a weapons harness strapped over her sleeveless undershirt, with a vintage Type II phaser holstered under each arm, the ergonomic grips following the curve of her ribs. Additional power packs were belted at her waist, and an EM 33 pistol was holstered on each thigh.
"Nice accessories you have there, Siri," he observed casually. "And an interesting shopping list. Are you planning on some late night target practice?"
"You might say that," S'rR's replied, not taking her eyes from the console, and tabbing a control.
A large crate materialized beside her, with a medical caduceus emblazoned on the side.
"Siri, are you going to tell me what's going on, or do I have to get the Captain down here? You know how much she hates getting woken up. I'm your friend, talk to me."
"I was reviewing the sensor logs, and I believe I can replicate the effect used to penetrate the quantum boundary," S'rR's said, completely ignoring Mayer's question. "After that, it's just a matter of locating him."
"You're going to kill Darien Kane," Mayer realized.
"Not right away," S'rR's replied, an unpleasant tone creeping into her voice. "First I find him, and subdue him. Then, I bring him back here, and then I cut his head off."
"I didn't see a sword on your list," Mayer noted, trying to keep his tone light, but S'rR's held up her fist, and two ten inch long bone claws extended from between her inner and outer fingers.
"I don't need a sword," she replied darkly, before allowing the claws to retract and lowering her hand.
Mayer took a long breath, and conceded the point, before asking:
"So you think he'll just allow you to abduct him from wherever you find him, and not try to escape while you return to our universe?"
"Of course not," S'rR's said, picking up a piece of equipment. "That's why I replicated this I.V. pump and sixty thousand milliliters of anesthezine. Enough to keep him unconscious for twelve and a half hours."
"Why not just kill him when you find him?"
"I've been reviewing the historical archives," S'rR's replied, turning away from Mayer, and slapping a full ammo clip into the TR-116A. "Apparently, when one immortal kills another in combat, the bioelectrical energy in their body is released, and absorbed by the victor, accompanied by a low-level synaptic displacement. If I was to just kill him there, the energy would just dissipate, but if I kill him here, Marcus' body should absorb the energy, and be re-animated."
Mayer sighed and leant against the console.
"This isn't like recharging a depleted powercell, Siri, there's no guarantee it would even work."
"I have to at least try," S'rR's snapped, putting down the sniper rifle and pulling her shoulder-length ice-blonde hair back into a tight queue. "How would you feel if it was your husband he killed, Brandon? How would you feel if it was Will who was lying in stasis right now?"
Mayer opened his mouth to answer, choosing his words carefully. "I... would think about what he would want," he replied, pulling his hand through his dark blonde hair. "The Admiral went willingly onto the Renovatio, so the Valkyrie wouldn't be attacked and potentially destroyed. He new the risks, and chose to go."
"He didn't choose to die!" S'rR's cried out, tears welling in her eyes. "I can't let that go unpunished!"
Reaching out, Mayer put a hand on S'rR's shoulder, squeezing it reassuringly.
"Siri, listen to me," he insisted. "Not three months ago, he made us undertake a mission to secure enough nanoprobes to re-write his DNA so he could become mortal again. Do you really think he would want you to do something which would restore his immortality?" Silently, S'rR's shook her head, and Mayer continued as tears rolled down her cheeks. "If the Captain and I could have done anything else to save him, believe me, we would have. And who knows what action Starfleet Command might order because of this incursion, but all this, going off on a crusade like some kind of bounty hunter isn't the way to do it. It might bring him back, it might not, but it's not what he would want. It's certainly not what he would want you to do."
Nodding, S'rR's flung her arms round Mayer as if grasping for a lifeline, and sobbed against her friend's shoulder.
"But I love him so much!"
"I know that, Siri," Mayer assured her as he held her close. "Everyone knew how much you meant to each other. No one will expect you to do this, or think any the less of you for not doing it, and we can recycle the goods back into the system, no harm done."
Standing away from Mayer, S'rR's nodded, and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, before unsnapping her weapons harness and dropping it to the deck.
"Go back to your quarters and try and rest," Mayer said, turning to the console and preparing to recycle the equipment. "I'll take care of this, and let the Captain know in the morning."
With a silent nod, S'rR's reached out for Mayer's hand, holding it for a few seconds as she walked, then letting it drop and leaving the room.
Twelve hours later, S'rR's stood on the ramparts of the cliff-top castle on Caladan, which was now legally her home, staring sightlessly out over the churning ocean, oblivious to the driving rain which completely soaked her white dress uniform. Behind her, she was aware of conversations at the wake, muted by the ever-present rain, but when she heard footsteps approaching, she turned, and saw a male approaching her, a long hooded brown robe protecting him from the rain.
"May I join you, or would you prefer to be alone?" he enquired.
S'rR's shook her head.
"By all means, enjoy the view," she replied.
Reaching up, the man politely dropped the hood of his robe, to show his face, revealing glossy black hair, and elegantly pointed ears.
"I understand you were Marc's daughter," he said, resolutely looking out to sea, rather than scrutinizing S'rR's and causing her to lose face. "I wish to convey my condolences on your loss."
S'rR's took a deep breath to answer, paused, then replied.
"In a manner of speaking," she admitted. "For the past fifteen years, I was his bonded companion. Did you serve together?"
"Marc and I attended the same school during his time on Vulcan," he replied. "We shared a number of lessons and became acquaintances. I chose to enter the Vulcan Science Academy, while Marc entered Starfleet, although our careers did briefly cross three decades ago. My name is Selek."
"Ah, he spoke of you often," she recalled, to which Selek inclined his head slightly, and raised an eyebrow. The torrential rain had plastered his hair flat to his forehead, and ran down his face, almost like tears, which no Vulcan would ever shed.
"He was a good friend," Selek admitted. "I shall miss our debates."
"Shall we go inside to continue our conversation?" S'rR's suggested. "We're getting soaked here."
"An unavoidable occurrence on Caladan," Selek observed. "But that would be most agreeable."
S'rR's turned away from the ocean, and began to walk toward the castle, Selek at her side.
"Sa'a W''te, j'laa" she murmured in Pentaxian. Goodnight, my love
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