Literary Challenge #37 : Mirror, Mirror on the... Viewscreen?
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Join Date: Jul 2012
01-23-2013, 05:04 PM
Marcus Kane felt the cold shiver of the transporter effect ripple through him, before the transporter room of the
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
"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
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,
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
. 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
. 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
, 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
, 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
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
, so the
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
Last edited by marcusdkane; 01-27-2013 at
. Reason: Final polish and Epilogue...