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Out Of Mind » MEMBER ADVERTISING & BLOG FORUMS » T.S. "Tray" Caladan »  Starwalkers Episode 41: 'Through the Mirror' by TS Caladan

Starwalkers Episode 41: 'Through the Mirror' by TS Caladan

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Episode 41: 'Through the Mirror'
by TS Caladan

"Fire!" Captain shouted at his lieutenant that had his finger on the Big Guns. Tensions reached a climax on the bridge of the Enlighten.
       Lt. Lev Bellikov immediately pressed the proper colored buttons~ A wide barrage of red Mega-Faser rays, backed up with a salvo of photonic missiles, struck the lead warship of SC's new enemy: the Cardassians. The warships were caught with Shields Down, for some unknown reason and were blasted out of existence in a tremendous and colorful explosion! Two remaining warships could not 'raise shields' and soon warped far out of the area. The destruction of the prime warship and the mystery of its dropped shields were totally unexpected end games to a long struggle where the Enlighten held its own against three Cardassian ships. 
       The grey, semi-reptiles from Cardassia were formidable opponents. Captain Church outmaneuvered the warship's captain in a type of 'chess match in space' for nearly a hundredth of a quadrant. But not John Church, nor Commander Staak or anyone else known were responsible for the battle's strange finale. A big mystery. 
       The war was about trilithium, a powerful mineral in rare supply in the galaxy, but found in abundance on remote Cyon-3 or Trakkis. The ore powered starships, cities, super-weapons, held suspended cities high in the air and was close to being an eternal source of energy. Enlighten's mission was to protect the peaceful Trakkans and their ore until more Starwalker ships arrived. Natives never gave-in to invaders, miners or exploiters who sought the precious mineral. Their defenses were inadequate. Trilithium was considered a million times more valuable than gold. Massive trilithium deposits were only recently discovered on Trakkis.
       News spread fast in the galaxy. The most powerful civilizations were on their way to Cyon and its third planet (beyond the galactic disk) to strip the land or fight to do so. In future, Trakkis would become a temporal nexus-point and bloody battleground for all kinds of alien wars. Every higher lifeform sought trilithium. Could a bloodbath be avoided? Starwalker Command was alerted: Every starship was on its way to Cyon. 

       It was the following 'day' in space. The big battle ended. Forty-seven fatalities had occurred on Enlighten as the two captains fought viciously over the course of a week. The complete number of people and aliens now on the ship was 960. The crew was invited down to the planet for celebrations and festivities since the kind and passive Trakkans felt saved from the Cardassian threat. Little did they know that Klingons, Insectoids, Malons, Ferengi and more Cardassians will arrive in a few days. Then what? Ultimate war, winner take all?
       The crew were in mourning. Rather than many crew members who attended the festivities, it was thought a small compliment of Starwalkers should be there. The Captain, Dr. O'Leary and Commander Staak decided to beam down.
       But something, apparently, interfered with the beaming. Interference could have been because of the destruction [warp] of the warship and space around it, plus vast deposits of the rare mineral on the planet.
       After coordinates were set and the transporter button pushed, the Captain, the Doctor and the Commander noticed an unusual beam-down.
       They didn't materialize on Trakkis. They materialized through the Mirror, in the real world...  

       "Fire!" Captain shouted at his lieutenant that had his finger on the Big Guns. Tensions reached a climax on the bridge of the Enlighten. [Time slipped back].
       Lt. Lev Bellikov's character immediately...and slowly turned toward the Captain and the Command Chair. The lieutenant froze. The rest of the bridge crew also froze and just stood there? This was not the time for anyone on the bridge to hesitate.
       A nasty battle had transpired for a week, passed stars, planets, moons and asteroids. And everything came down to this! The prime Cardassian vessel was right off our bow and suddenly caught with its 'pants down.' "Lieutenant! I gave you an order! Fire Fasers and missiles!" Church was angry and looked at Staak in confusion.
       The Remoran was more confused than the Captain. He turned completely around, lifted both brows and saw the oddest oddity of all to one side of the bridge. Was it a Cardassian trick?
       Captain hadn't seen it. Church jumped up from the turned Chair and he ran to Lev's station. John yelled, "What's wrong with you? Lev!" The Captain pushed the mega-Faser buttons himself...
     "There! There? What the hell's wrong? Were they charged?" Church pushed 'auxillary' and more buttons again and again which were supposed to fire weapons. He panicked, almost out-of-control for the Captain. Nothing? "Why isn't it working?" He turned to Staak and desperately pleaded, "Staak?"
       Faces of his friends, loyal crew and co-workers expressed surprise.
       Then he saw it.
       "What's that doing on my bridge? Who are they?"

Andy, in the character of Lev, laughed first. Then others laughed. "Good one, Chris."
       They assumed Chris Pike, known for staying-in-character during the entire day-shoot, couldn't stop his emotions in the role he played. Or it was a joke?
       The director approached the set and walked closer to the center and focus of film cameras. He laughed. "Chris. Chris! Didn't you hear me yell, that's it people? You can break character now, funny man. Go home. You can shoot the bad guys tomorrow."
       George said, "Never saw that before. Ha." He waved bye.
       Nicolette smiled at her former lover, also had laughed and said before she departed, "Those Cardassians don't stand a chance, sir. 'Night, Chris."
       Most people on the fake bridge chuckled, then left via a wide opening near a lot of equipment in the back of the big, round set.
       John Church sat, very heavily, back down in the Big Chair. He was in another world. His First Officer came closer, stood at attention and folded his arms. He said, "Fascinating," without a raised eyebrow. "So this is the one where we are trained monkeys who sell cars and shit, is that correct, Captain?"
       "What'd that guy ask you, Staak?"
       "Two things, sir. One, he asked if you were all right..."
       "And two?"
       "He told me your wife's been waiting. Sir." The Remoran did not react.
       The Captain did. "Ha HA! WIFE! Oh, man! Ha. That's outrageous." Instead of more laughter, he snapped into serious-mode. "My God, Staak! You know what that means? It means I'm married." Now Church's face expressed Pure Horror!
       "Indeed." The alien smiled.
       With perfect timing, a lady's voice shouted, heard from the back of the stage. "There you are, Mister Pike!" She was mildly upset and came nearer. "What kept you? Don't give me that look: What, little, old me?" Joan Collins continued her soft rant with, "You know I don't like to wait, darling? Hi, Leonard." The girl was a ravishing, blue-eyed beauty with raven-black hair and a slight British accent. "Did you forget? We have reservations tonight?"
       John was speechless and only absorbed how fabulous his new wife appeared. Amazing.
       Strange looks went all around.
       She sweetly smiled, "What?" 
       The Commander said, "Interesting."

       The time was the next awkward day. John, Staak and Ben were in a plush outer office of Gene Abrams. Guards were in the room. There was a receptionist. It was a weird night in Los Angeles in 1987 for the 'fictional' boys from the future, to say the least.
       "What happened to you, Doctor?" John Church asked.
       "Bloody hell, John. I arrived in sick bay with my arms half in a fake torso covered in fake blood. Can you believe I went from fixing a real patient, to a phony one?"
       Staak answered, "We can believe that, Doctor."
      "Oh. John?" Ben had a sly grin. "How's married life treating you?"
      The Captain quickly responded: "I only have to say...she may be the most incredible woman I've ever met." He actually meant the words, but...
       Staak rolled his eyes.
       Ben said, "Sir? Do you realize the Commander and I have heard you say that, I don't know, uh, maybe 10 times?"
       "Twelve times," Staak casually added.
       "Well. Well. Maybe...this's different? I'm falling in love with Joan. She doesn't know. Apparently...I'm a good actor."
       "Oh, God."
       Ben changed the subject: "Why are we here? Who are we here to see?"
       John replied, "The Big Cheese, boss. I don't know...creator?"
       "I did some research on this world, Captain..."
       "We all did, Staak."
       "And?" the Captain asked his First Officer.
       "Let's please leave as soon as we can, John," the Commander stated seriously and without a joke.
       A cute receptionist with red hair and a white dress motioned toward the big door. She told them they could go in.
       The trio marched in. They saw a fantastic, space-oriented office, plus...
       ~Two more guards in the background, dressed in black and expressionless.
       ~A small, freckle-faced boy no more than 15 years old. He whispered into the ear of...
       ~The famous GENE ABRAMS, the "man who started it all" and brought 'Starwalkers' to American television. He was a large, happy man with thick, black glasses and around 45 years old.
       The boy walked to the front of the big/curved desk, sat in a seat, smiled and placed his feet high up on the desk. He acted like he owned the place. He did.
       "Ha. HA! I was only told the confirming news, at this very moment, gentlemen. My God! It's true! Really true. I thought you guys just went nuts." He laughed another hearty laugh. "HA!" Gene, large Gene, sprang from behind the warped desk. It was a rare sight: Gene running. But he did today, directly at the Captain, the First Officer and the Commander: real Starwalkers. He shook each of their hands with much force. "My, my. How did they know?" His question was to himself. Then he sat on the edge of the sturdy desk.
       Church turned away from his inadvertent Away Team and expressed, "Sir..."
       "Gene, please..." the enraptured writer, 'producer/creator' told John.
       The boy appeared bored and looked at his nails.
       "Is that your son, Wesley?" John asked.
       The kid with freckles quickly replied, "Son. Actually. It's good to finally meet you, Captain. True what they say: you are a joy, John. We'll meet in the future." He smiled. The kid was a little less bored and walked out of the private office.
       In a moment...
       "He was rather odd, wouldn't you say, Captain? Doctor?" In very near future, it will strike Staak exactly how odd~
       "He looked right into my soul. Spooky," John Church confessed.
       Dr. O'Leary offered a reasonable explanation. He asked Mr. Abrams, "OH, I get it. He's a test-kid? That's the age group your show, uh...our show, is marketed to, or, broadcasted to...the audience? Guess it's gone to his head, huh?"
       "Logical," Staak described the Doctor's assessment with a glance to John.
       Gene Abrams' mood went from wonder and incredible magic to...stark seriousness. He spoke in a lower register. "Do you know why the government is here, gentlemen?"
       "May I ask a question, sir, I mean: Gene?"
       GA nodded.
       "The only sensible question, Gene, is: Why are you here?" I would surmise only the federation, your real federation, should be here, sir. You are but a figurehead, a front. You know you are not the creator and certainly not the producer of your little, theatrical Show. Why are we not confined by the government, interrogated, poked and prodded like the real specimens you know we are? Since the boy told you for certain." Staak turned to John and Ben, "The boy is not what he appears."
       Commander Staak remained 9% mechanical, but he was more and more human everyday. His emotions got the better of him and he said: "Fuck."
       "Staak?" both of his comrades expressed.
       "I thought the occasion called for it, John. Doctor."
       Big Gene took over the conversation and stood tall. He was a bit mean. "Look, boys, the real deal. The government is NOT here and that's the actual truth." Abrams waved his arm out and called for the large Men in Black with his hand.
       They took two steps forward and stopped. They remained expressionless. Somewhere they had hi-tech weapons...
       Staak thought, possibly pre-Faser.
       "That's not the government," Gene declared. "That's our government. We trump theirs, you see? Wait. Maybe you don't see? See, what we say...goes, not the feds. Okay? They own them." He looked meaner. "We need to keep our enterprise called 'Starwalkers' going, a little while longer on TV. You think you can help us with that, gentlemen? We, in turn, will make it very much worth your while. Understand, boys? Oh, do I say? You get a 'Piece of the Action.' It's something you can't refuse! Okay? Capiche, Captain?"
       Ben was the first to jump up, then the Captain.
       "You can't make us your slaves?" John Church demanded.
       The Doctor was flabbergasted at the strange events on old Earth. He sputtered his thoughts: "You want, ah, I suppose...wait, you want us to act our parts, scripts you fucking wrote for us, of OUR LIVES, some were really stupid!"
       John added more: "...And we speak, speak our lines for you like dogs? Go on...uh, promotions, whatever they are...send us anywhere you choose; program us like androids and force us to jump through your hoops? That right?"
       Staak stood up and said, "That is precisely their plan, Captain. Whatever the full Agenda? I felt such power, moments ago, in the boy, sir," Staak informed the others.
       "Why?" Captain John asked Gene as he stared up into his eyes.
       Abrams adjusted his thick glasses and answered, "The Show must go on. HELL, you're perfect for the parts! The real deal."
       "You can't make us stay, or, or cooperate with you," Ben O'Leary insisted.
       "I'm afraid, we can, Doctor. Look. You took our people! Someone took our people and they're going to PAY for it!" Gene got very mad and blue in the face. "What the FUCK are we going to do? Huh?!"
       "We're not going to do it!" the Captain loudly demanded, without a doubt.
       "I refuse."
       "As do I."
       "I wished you were our people gone mad, overworked; lost in your roles, like that, that Twilight Zone. Nope. This is not good. Commander?"
       "Yes? Gene?"
       Abrams' mood swing swung the other way. After the 'vent,' he was calmed. "Here's a sensible question, Mr. Staak. What do you think the odds are of you three getting back home, to the future, ha: 'Back to the Future,' huh?"
       The Commander looked around and raised a brow. "In this zinc-plated society with circuit boards, cel phones, computers that come with viruses, wireless that is nightmare-wireless? Why is your tech not magnetic? Those aren't computers, by the way. It's 1987. You do everything wrong!"
       Gene seemed catatonic and was oblivious to Staak's reply. 
       Ben (ironic joke) stated, "I'm a Doctor, Staak. Please. I'm concerned about your health; you shouldn't express all those emotions."
       The Captain almost laughed. "Gentlemen. It's not a question of us getting back to somewhere...we have to...magically...switch back to our universe. Unless you have a super machine, Gateway-Guardian that can do the job?"
       Staak asked, "Our counterparts, sir? Back on the Enlighten. Wonder what they are experiencing?" 
      "Wait. You mean? Three ACTORS are in our shoes?" The Doctor looked at John. "Damn, you!" 
       "Damn me?"
       Ben clarified. "Not you! The other you. He's masking around as the Captain of the ship! He could do anything, Johnny."
       "I should be worried. About my girl. Strangely, I'm not. What do you think, Staak?" (A question the Captain asked often).
       "I believe the actors will be discovered, sir."
       "Sensible. Sensible conclusion, Commander." After another round of hard stares, Church expressed, "Gee. I hope he doesn't fuck things up."

       In the universe that switched with the displaced triad, there was another displaced triad. They only dressed as Starwalker Command; they only resembled the ones that left. It was as if a ray from a big 'Stupid Gun' had struck the Doctor, the Captain and (yes) even Commander Staak. They were silly. It was like the transporter turned them into children, yet they appeared the same on the outside.
       Here was the moment when the masquerade was exposed, masks were unveiled and the truth was realized. Engineer Boots Randolph, with silent signs from Ito and Bellikov, called Security with the push of a button. Guards with Fasers will be on the bridge in a minute...
       The sight was unbelievable. At first, the Captain ordered the Enlighten to the closest uninhabited planet. Then the order was changed. Captain Church ordered the ship to find the closest asteroid of considerable size. Two hours later, when they arrived at 67.46.31-M in the Cyon System, the Captain and Ben traded places in the Big Chair every few minutes. They shot photonic missiles at the massive rock in space! They carried on like kids who played a VR game in the face of the awesome powers that headed their way~
       Was it how they coped with certain Death? The Enlighten, along with the whole SC fleet, were the only protectors of trilithium on and around Trakkis. They were no match for every great armada in the galaxy that would arrive in 15 hours. The Federation or Union of Evil despots and conquerers were united. They'd easily annihilate Star Command's full fleet of mighty starships, then...
       ...Equally divide the trilithium of Trakkis.
       Boots had had enough. Tri-Corders confirmed aura-signatures. 
       The clone, bio-robot, 'podling' or whatever it was that spirited Commander Staak's body, said: "Hell! I gotta try that too, Chris." 'Staak' jumped into the Chair. Staak, or someone, blasted the last bits of the asteroid! It was as if it was the first time for the Remoran in the Chair or ever firing a weapon. 
        Did the transporter damage the Captain and top officers? Retard them? Did the Cardassians do this as revenge?

       Six Security officers surrounded the Big Chair. The ones with the least pins and the most red on uniforms pointed weapons at the three of them. Everyone froze in their positions. The officers clicked their Faser to the Kill-setting.
       Kelly (Doctor), with his large/blue eyes, said,"They're not on 'stun' anymore." 
       Boots spoke and took command of the ship. "I don't know how this happened, but...we know,'re not our people. Excuse me for saying, Commander: Get the fuck out of the Chair."
       The phony Captain said, "Leonard, it's because of you! You're the worst actor."

       The Klingons, Cardassians, the Reptilian Republic, Remusans, Ferengi, Insectoids, Aquatics, Malons, Grays and Tall Whites had one high representative of each race upon the stage. The stage was set inside a grand hall within the largest space vehicle of the Klingon Empire: the Ylteb May'yo'. For the great honor of a type of 'home field advantage,' a true-blue truce was installed, never to be broken:
       Every meeting of the newly formed "Order of Ten Tribes" would be conducted with dignity and reason. None of the Ten may attack, take or destroy life or property of another member of the Order. All members were respected and would come to the assistance of any Ten Tribes member, without hesitation.  
       Captain of the May'yo' bowed and introduced each of the esteemed Advocates for the 10 worlds. The host walked off the Klingon stage.
       Every member of the Order was here for the words of only one warrior, a prestigious Leader of Klingons. A number of higher ranked politicians of Kronos could have stood as representative. Only Cho D'Ung had acquired the respect of many "dark tribes" in the Alpha Quadrant. He was the perfect choice and perfect voice to scream the battle-cry of power and victory. What can be achieved together through the merger or "Unification" of our military forces after we've placed our hostilities and differences aside?
       A hush occurred among the enormous delegation that surrounded the giant stage under a titanic cathedral dome. The Klingon emblem stood proudly, high upon the great window in the background. Ten Tribes heard Cho D'Ung when he transmitted and translated to them...
       "On this day, Klingons are not Klingons, Remusans are not Remusans and Ferengi are not Ferengi. We are all Brothers in one tribe, one combined Brotherhood! We members are united as UNION. Our combined forces now tilt the 'Balance of Power' in the Quadrant!"
       Crowds from many star systems, reps of reps and other distinguished Elites of Evil, were gathered in the huge hall. They cheered, roared and screamed with delirium as each felt the words of the Klingon Advocate were solidly true. Klingons and others of the new Order, were far more intoxicated by the desires of future power and control they'd imagined, than the Blood Wine. 
       The highly-charged and super-excited crowd screamed with potential victories and the sheer thrill of being the strongest, the largest, most ominous armada and of course: the profits, credits, latinum, woolongs, zulaks, gold, etc. that would surely fill their coffers, banks and different treasure-vaults, tomorrow.
       Cho raised his arms, called to passed Klingon spirits for guidance and declared: "We are Union! We will rape Trakkis dry! Its precious Power gems! The new discovery will change everything in the galaxy. We have that discovery to thank...for our allegiance! Where are forces of Old Union Rangers? We don't see them, proud warriors! We have scared them off; they run like frightened targs! Ka-Pla!"
       Another surge of screams, a wave of power was heard and felt in the hall. 
       "Only meager Starwalkers stand as a blockade, in our way. They've been abandoned by Old Rangers. What do we do to those who stand in our way, warriors?! Ten Tribes! We..."
       A thousand variations of "Crush them, kill them, destroy them!" and so on vibrated under the cathedral dome.
       "Our former 'Senate of the Spider' to only a few tribes, has been permanently abolished. Today we begin a new era. Today we start what will only be known to members as the FEDERATION. Politics of the 10 or front-face, will be known to all...That will be the Federation. This is how we will bargain with non-members from many planets. We will recruit more members and be even stronger. We've seen it. No one will understand the full extent of our secret Order, our legions, hidden behind black curtains of 'Federation.' Our member youths will rally behind the feds. Few will ever see our United Plans, our Agendas, our covert politics and policies. But. They will feel our physical forces, our collective military might which merge...TODAY! We will destroy and rule!"
      More warriors cried to kill! To shed blood of all colors~
      D'Ung concluded with fist pumps and these words: "We stand down for NO ONE! is they who bow before US! Only a few (GST) hours away, good warriors! We will be rich trilithium miners! Yes? Ha, ha!"
      Louder war cries and louder chants echoed in and around the hall.
       "And our first order of to snuff out the Star Command blockade around Cyon-3. In a few hours, Walker ships...will be completely destroyed!"
      Cheers reached such a tremendous frequency in the hall, the great glass nearly shattered. 

       John Church huffed and puffed as he made the most passionate love he'd ever made with anyone. Really. John was finished. He rolled over in disbelief at how wonderful she was. Wow. He just did Chris Pike's wife in Mr. and Mrs. Pike's luxurious bedroom. Joan Collins, owned by Britain and the Universal Industry, laid on silk sheets, nude, with sweat on her skin.
       They glistened in the half light.
       "You know, huh?" he asked a question that he knew the answer to; he knew she knew. "You know, ah, I'm not Chris?"
       She held his chest. Joan was topless above the white, soft, shiny sheets.
       "Gene called me and told me. He thought I should know the truth, my love."
       "He did, now. And, ah, dear, my love?"
       Her breasts pressed firmly against his bare chest as she held a man that looked like her husband.
       John asked her as only now his breath reached normal: "You don't mind? Joan? You don't mind? playing house? Me in your bed?"
       "Ha. Ha. Good one, John. Let me explain, dear..."
       "I'm all ears," Church replied, curiously.
       "Studio set up our marriage. Arranged. I never loved him. Chris has a revolving back door..."
       John slightly laughed. "A what?"
       "...An endless stream of women, some pros, some famous, like me."
       "He cheats on you?"
       "My, my, my love. For someone from the future, you sure don't know how the world operates, do you, dear?"
       "I come from a very different time, Joan. Men respect women."
       She got up and sat next to him. Her fabulous, English breasts were exposed in all their glory.
       "They're very distracting."
       She played with them, pulled the nipples and smiled with perfect teeth.
       The Captain waved his hand, "Oh. Don't do that. Hmmm. Let me ask, seriously."
       Joan Collins returned to his chest and hugged it again. "I will always tell you the truth, my love. I've had many men. A king once. Small country. I have to go away in a few weeks, for 6 months, my love. I play the part of a Bitch on American TV, something called 'Oil.' Ugh. Hate the title." She smiled at him.
       He melted. John's hand went to his mouth. Nothing mattered but her. He didn't want to go back. Damn his old life! All that meant anything was in the now, with her. The only thing that mattered was HER. Church did not want to be a Captain in Star Command anymore. He didn't want to sit in the Big Chair, fly through space anymore and be responsible for 960 lives. He'd gladly marry...his wife...and settle down, happily ever after.
       What would father say, former Captain of the first SC starship, the Archer?
       "So you're a real flyboy in space? I was right, love."
       "About fantastic things coming true, a real Tomorrowland. Us out in space, vast fleets of ships among the stars and colonizing countless planets..."
       "I love you, Joan." Church was stunned that those words came out of his mouth. This time, he meant every single syllable.
       "I never said 'I love you' to anyone before." John Church nearly cried.
       'Mrs Pike' confessed, "I've never said those three words before and truly meant them...until now. I love you, John."
       Church felt wonderful. He was home. He smiled. "So, you like me 'cos I'm...from space, eh?"
       "Ha. Thought you were from Kansas and only worked in space?" Before he said another word, she thought she'd blow his mind, one more time. "You know, Captain? I been in space." Her big blue eyes were even bigger. She nodded for yes and opened her mouth.
       John believed her.
       "One of the perks of the job. And a hundred other secrets I can't tell you."
       "What?" Church was mystified and silent.
       "It was no fancy smancy Starwalkers, like we see on the telly. Hey, why don't you use seatbelts? We did. Never mind."
       He laughed. She was a joy, a gem. She's been in space?
       "The Universal Industry takes care of its people, darling." Joan lost her smile.
       "They don't own you. Don't go on the shoot. Fuck Oil! Stay with me."
       Joan smiled her largest smile that hid her largest, inner horror. "Huh. If only I could, my darling." She kissed him again, hard, like it was their last kiss. We have two weeks together. It will be heaven, John."
       When the sensual bliss was over...
       Captain John Church cleared a final thought before a much needed sleep: "You really...really didn't care for Chris? He looked a lot like me."
       "He was an asshole. Spoiled brat."
       "Oh. He'd make a good Captain."
       Joan casually said, "You should visit your father? You haven't seen him in a long time. It will do you good, dear. If you don't fight, that is."
       Church was frozen, physically and mentally, for a good sixty seconds. His voice squeaked. Now he cried. "My father's...a...alive?"
       The actress responded with, "My, my, my, then you really have to see him, John." 

       Ben met Commander Staak in his spacy, rounded 'compartment' that the Studio set-up for the alien, a real one. John was on his way: the Captain had met with a Studio 'head' official (not Gene) and the news was awful. John had to tell the gang in person. Staak offered his compartment for the rendezvous.
       "You won't believe what I found on one of these '87 computers; they're so cheesy..." Ben tapped him lightly on the chest.
       Staak looked down at the spot he was touched and frowned.
       The Doctor continued, "You know the Cardassians?"
       "Indeed. We had a week-long battle with them, Doctor. Formidable foes," the Remoran replied.
       "Okay, Staak. You know the court case, the one everywhere on television?"
       "Figures. Blast it. Well. Everyone knows about it! Okay? One of the attorneys in the big case against a sports hero and actor, has hair..."
       "...Exactly like the Cardassians, like all of'm, I think every single one has the same black hair! Far as I know. Even woman lizards, or whatever they are. I think it's the same, Staak."
       The Commander seriously said, "It's this place and time, Doctor: it has an effect. It's got to you. You're losing your mind."
       "What I'm saying, you...what I'm saying is the lawyer's name is...get this: Kardashian! Get it? Same hair. See what I mean?"
       "You believe this famous attorney is a Cardassian spy?"
       "No! You..."
       Suddenly, the rounded door to the compartment opened [set to open with approach of next person].
       John walked in, almost in a fever. He appeared disturbed, fearful.
       "John. You don't look well."
       The Captain gestured and dismissed medical attention.
       "You wanted to see us, sir?"
       "Captain," Staak greeted the man and knew he was supremely distraught and at a crossroads, a terrible dilemma of the heart. "What is it, John?"
       "Before that. I'm losing a crazy dream in my memory, I feel I must tell you both...about."
       "Go on. Please sit."
       They sat and were comfortable. Except for John.
       The Commander looked at the Doctor.
       John Church told them his dream: "You know that kid? The redhead boy with Gene that spooked the hell out of me?"
       Staak interjected, "He was something far beyond a Changling. He was a thing I had never encountered before. Pure, unleashed power. Yes, Captain."
       "He's a Q." Church's eyes got larger. 
       "A what, John?" Ben asked.
       "An immortal being, can manipulate time and space, a god in a sense. A bit rude and full of himself; I guess that goes with the territory. Huh."
       "Why is your face so sad, John?" Ben asked.
       "Ah." John appeared very tired, almost disheveled. "The dream. Before I forget. I beat him or IT, whatever a Q is...I beat him at his own game, gentlemen."
       "I've heard you say a few times: you don't like to lose."
       "Indeed. What was the game, if I may ask, sir?" the First Officer asked.
       "Life and Death. I had to win...for all our lives. I don't mean the thousand onboard. The stakes were for...all of humanity. It wasn't a dream, it was real."
       Staak expressed emotions at the Captain's words, "Wow."
       The Doctor shook his head and said, lightly, "So glad you won, John."
       His eyes looked into theirs and stated, "It's not over. In the dream I was taken to a surreal universe that stretched forever: a road, some settlement, a house, I can't remember. I remember it was called a 'Continuum.' Everything changed to a courtroom and I was on trial for my life. Then I beat the Q."
       Staak asked, "Anything like my KM-test and how you won?"
       "In fact, my solution was similar. I had to prove the value of the Human Race in front of other Qs. Man, they appeared weird. If I were wrong or failed, then the Black Goo that Q tried to say started chemicals for the Beginning of Life, our human life, would never meet, touch, react, develop, evolve...all fucking bullshit! I pulled the plug on the whole trial by going around the Question and correcting the great god...thus...embarrassing him in front of his peers. He didn't expect that. Oh he wasn't in the boy-form. Q was a magnificent, tall figure in red and black. But I knocked him down a few levels when I said...Earthlings didn't come from no Black Goo! We're displaced Martian refugees who migrated to Earth, built Atlantis, later Egypt..."
       "Who doesn't know that?" the good Doctor added. "It's History 101. Darwin was disproven, how many hundreds of years ago?"
       "Fascinating. How you won, sir. Why do I sense, you still have not informed us what weighs heavy on you?"
       The Captain was near tears. "Q owes me, in a way. We have no way to return to our universe, through the Mirror, is that correct, gentlemen?"
       Ben replied, "No. I mean, yes sir. That is correct."
       Staak responded with "I see no sensible solution to find home."
       "Q can snap his fingers, wave a magic wand...and switch us back, bring us back, like a Care-Taker. Just like that, Ben. Staak." The Captain seemed even more devastated, inside.
       "Well. Why so glum, John? If he owes you? Let's go! Why hesitate?"
       Commander Staak turned to Dr. O'Leary. "It's what he wanted us to know, Ben."
       John loved Joan. He loved her like he had never loved before. He loved her with all of his heart. The Captain of the Enlighten solemnly told his close friends, "Joan has to die."

Gene was dead.

       Joan was dead. She took her own life. She 'sacrificed' herself so a horrendous battle is space never happened. Somehow she knew that her life was an extremely crucial nexus-point in the universe. Or was it the ugly Industry she and husband Chris had been deeply rooted in? Why? She'd just found John. Was it so 'Starwalkers Continue'?

       It was Q's deal. [Q fueled the Game when he dropped Cardassian warship Shields]. This time, it wasn't up to John. It was up to Joan. She had to die and she did. The omnipotent creature waved a magic wand and executed an owed favor for the Captain:

       The big Secret of mass deposits of trilithium on Trakkis was never revealed. The rest of the cosmos remained unaware of the treasured energy-mineral. A super armada of evil and blockade that shielded Cyon-3 never happened and the galaxy was spared an ultimate War. The Trakkan people and so much more were safe.

       "Let's get the hell out of here."

       Everything was back in its original place, all was in order again. Three good friends had returned through the Mirror. They were home. They were intact and so were their memories.

       The Captain was completely exhausted and collapsed on his bed in his quarters. More than physically and mentally drained, John Church was emotionally drained. He couldn't get her out of his head. He also couldn't forget that...if it were up to him? The Captain would have sacrificed her life to save a universe he loved. His world and close friends. Needs of the many. It was that terrible, terrible thought that never occurred - that he couldn't shake.

       Oh, cruel universe.     

       John was 'dead to the world' as Staak and Ben stood in the Captain's doorway. They whispered:

       "If only he could forget her?"

       "I can do something about that, Ben."

       "You know? I feel more sorry for you, than him. You'll never know love, never be loved, Staak. You won't ever experience love and its pleasures...its awful PAINS, that John's feeling, right now..."

       "Really, Doctor?"

       O'Leary's eyes shifted a bit, when the smart man realized he was wrong.

       "Goodnight, Staak." Ben lowered his eyes and left the scene.

       "Goodnight, Ben."



Thanks Tray! Love this series!


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