Another version of the Doctor gives Trip a much needed assist. Which Doctor is it? Who's the blond man Trip sees near the end of the chapter? And anyone have a guess as to the identity of "Admiral Tonek"?
Spoilers: ENT "Broken Bow" "Shuttlepod One", "In a Mirror Darkly, I and II"
DW: "Rose", "The Empty Child", "The Waters of Mars", "The Last of the Timelords"
TW: "Captain Jack Harkness"
Four settings on the pistol: Double the settings that Malcolm tells Captain Archer in "Broken Bow" :-D
Perception Filter: Used by the Tenth Doctor, Jack and Martha in "The Last of the TimeLords", plus it makes an appearance during the Eleventh Doctor's adventures. It alters the brainwaves of whoever's observing the person wearing the filter. The TARDIS has one, but it doesn't work.
"Most planets have a North." ("Rose") Rose Tyler asked the Ninth Doctor about his Northern accent, and this is his reply. Actor Christopher Eccleston is from Salford, Lancashire, UK.
"Yup, all sonic'ed up." The Doctor says this to Jack in "The Empty Child".
Time Relative to Enterprise NX-01 (January 2156)
Mirror Universe, January 2155
(-1 year, 21 days)
“I can't believe we're doing this,” Malcolm muttered. He double-checked his phase pistol and replaced it in its holster. He and Trip had found their doubles' uniforms in the TARDIS's walk-in closet, and in Malcolm's case, that also included the weapons. Jack looked suitably impressed at the arsenal; it was easily double the amount the other Reed had carried. “Shuriken,” he murmured, as he slid them into the inside pocket of his jacket. “Japanese throwing stars.”
Jack crossed his arms and cocked an eyebrow at him. “From your girlfriend?”
Malcolm's head snapped up, an unreadable look in his eyes. “She isn't my girlfriend. In my universe, anyway.”
“But she could be,” Jack said with a smirk, “and you want it to be.”
Trip frowned and interrupted, “Knock it off, Jack. Personal business.” He turned his frown on this universe's version of a phase pistol. It was much larger and bulkier than the standard Starfleet version. How did these people carry this around? “Two settings on the pistol, Malcolm?”
“Four. Stun, heavy stun, kill slowly, kill instantly. In any case, these people believe in being thorough.”
“No kidding.” Trip winced at his all-black uniform, with all of its accoutrements. Phase pistol, hunting knife... “This isn't a uniform. It's a walking armory.”
Jack raised his eyebrows at Trip and deadpanned, “You look rather distinguished...in a Kommandant sort of way.”
Malcolm's chuckle was full of irony. “That's right. You were originally World War II-era.”
“Well...I met the Doctor during that particular time of my life.” Jack's flash of a smile faded as quickly as it appeared. “Here, you should wear this, Trip. It's a perception filter...it alters how people see you. Messes with their subconscious.”
“What do I need this for?” Trip asked. The device was about the size of a PADD turned sideways, and he attached it to the leather belt.
Jack shook his head and answered, “You may wear your double's uniform, but you don't look like him.” He made a gesture towards the right side of Trip's face. “Either the man got into one serious bar fight, or something happened to make him look that way.”
Trip shivered at the reminder, and he was glad Jack had found a way around that sticky complication. “Yeah, you're right.”
“You gotta be careful with this...one direct hit on it will cancel the effect.” Jack put a supportive hand on his shoulder. “I have the feeling that 'Captain Tucker' didn't get his own ship by being a nice guy.”
“Probably not.” Trip took a deep breath and accepted Jack's Time Vortex Manipulator. He strapped it to his wrist and pulled the uniform sleeve over it. “Okay, I think we're about as ready as we can be. Malcolm?”
The Armory officer only nodded. Trip suppressed another shiver at the transformed man in front of him. Not only did the different MACO uniform make Malcolm look darker, but he also gave off an aura that said, 'Mess with me, and it's your own funeral'.
Trip wasn't sure he liked it. In fact, he began to feel more than a little afraid.
“Rose and I will follow after you. If we work from both ends, we should eventually meet in the middle.” Jack squeezed Trip's shoulder once, then let him go. “Try not to get killed.”
“We'll do our best.” Trip nodded back at Malcolm; Malcolm placed his hand on Trip's arm. “Okay, here goes--”
The shuttlepod felt even colder than Trip remembered it. He could already see his breath come out in puffs of condensed water. “Damn. Let's see if we can get some heat in here before we really freeze.”
Malcolm wiped frost off the main console and stared at the chronometer. “January 2155. Almost a year ago from our time.”
Trip cracked open a hatch and surveyed the circuits within it. He narrowed his eyes at the damage, poked at it a couple of times, then muttered, “That's just great.”
“What is it?”
“These circuits...they were deliberately tampered with. I bet someone wanted to make sure their captain and MACO commander didn't come back.”
Malcolm scowled at the words. “Sabotage from someone on Tucker's ship. That says quite a bit, right there. I wonder who would become captain if your counterpart died.”
“Whoever the first officer was, and I can tell you somethin'--he or she is gonna be in a lot of trouble when we show up alive.” Trip got back to his feet and dusted ice crystals off his knees. “And that ship—Atlantis--should just be within visual range, if Jack's timing is right.”
Malcolm nodded at the screen with his chin. Sure enough, a silver shape approached the shuttlepod, its hull and nacelles identifying it as NX-class. “Here they come. Let's hope they don't decide to blow us out of the sky in a fit of pique.”
“You're optimistic, Malcolm,” Trip said sarcastically.
“If I were at Tactical, that might just be what I'd do. As I said, these people strike me as thorough.”
“Christ.” Trip shook his head and put a hand on the Vortex Manipulator. “Hope we won't need to make a quick exit...”
A minute later, golden sparkles danced in front of him, just as the shuttlepod's walls exploded outward into black space...
...and Trip blinked as a cargo bay phased around him. He cursed as he patted himself down to make sure he was all in one piece. “What the hell--?”
“You all right? Lucky I handled that transport m'self, from here, instead of from the transporter room...damn bloody fools upstairs want to finish what they started. Can't afford t'lose both of you, not when we're so close--”
“What?” Trip glanced over his shoulder to see Malcolm stride off the platform with the phase pistol in one hand. The Armory Officer-turned-MACO grabbed the transporter operator by the collar and shoved him against the console.
Malcolm's tone was colder than the temperature in the shuttlepod. “Who the bloody hell are you?"
The other man grinned, but it had a touch of mania to it. The blue eyes sparkled with humor, despite the black leather jacket, the short-cropped hair and the ears that reminded Trip of Dumbo the Elephant. “You wouldn't strike a fellow Englishman, now would ya? 'Specially one who just saved your arse from oblivion.” The accent was definitely from Great Britain, but much heavier than anything Trip had heard so far.
Malcolm's grip eased a little. “You're from the North, aren't you?”
“Lots of planets have a North...Major Reed. And I'd appreciate it if you'd let me go. We have a lot to do and not much time to do it in.” Malcolm finally let him go, and he straightened his leather jacket. “Good. Now, then. On this ship, I'm Commander James MacCrimmon. In reality--” he winked at Trip, then said, “I'm the Doctor.”
“Another one?” Trip groaned. “How many of you are there?”
“There's me, and there's another me that's needs t'get his head on straight, but first thing's first.” The Doctor--MacCrimmon, Trip reminded himself, and why did that name sound so familiar?--inclined his head towards the cargo bay doors. “I'm sure they've detected the override and tryin' to figure out what's goin' on. You and Reed are supposed to hate each other's guts, by the way--”
“Already know that--”
“And I'm supposed to be your bodyguard against him.” MacCrimmon jerked his thumb at Malcolm. “You call me 'Mac', you've a loyal cadre on Atlantis, and your first officer is a Neanderthal. He's the one who arranged the 'accident', and he's got 'connections'.”
Trip heard the quotation marks and nodded. Thinking of this man as 'Mac' instead of 'The Doctor' made things a lot less confusing. “Got it. And those 'connections' go high up.”
“You have no idea.” Mac stiffened, then turned to Malcolm. “Um...I think it'd look rather off if they come in and then seein' us havin' a friendly chat--”
Malcolm smirked, grabbed him by the collar again and slammed him against the transporter console again for emphasis. Mac gasped and muttered, “Oi, didn't mean for it t'be that rough--”
The cargo bay doors were nearly blown off their hinges as Security poured in. At the forefront was a rather irate Jonathan Archer, with a just-as-furious Michael Rostov at his side. Trip gritted his teeth, but it was more to keep his own jaw from hitting the floor. Archer's hair was jet black, and he also wore the black uniform. Unlike Trip's, the right side of his chest was covered with a solid wall of military ribbons.
“Archer?” Trip rasped. He was unsure of his “captain's” rank on this ship, so better safe than sorry.
Archer took in the scene and pointed his phase pistol at Malcolm. “Put the commander down, Major, before I drop both of you.”
“That's gratitude for you, Colonel Archer,” Mac spat, “considerin' I saved your best mate from bein' blown into tiny little bits. And we both know who arranged this little fireworks show.”
Colonel? Oh, Good Lord...Trip decided to take charge of the situation. “Let him go, Major Reed, before I shoot you myself, and I won't leave my phase pistol on stun.”
Malcolm released Mac for the second time. “Thank you,” Mac said sarcastically. “Again.”
Archer narrowed his eyes at Trip and waved at his men to lower their weapons. “You okay?”
“Yeah, considerin' I nearly got spaced.” Trip glanced back at Mac. “You said you knew who set us up--”
“Say the word, and I'll round up the usual suspects. I'm sure a few hours in the Booth would loosen a few tongues,” Archer said with a smirk.
Trip forced himself not to react to the eagerness in this Jonathan Archer's voice. It was the easygoing tone his Jon used when discussing new First Contact prospects. Hearing it in regards to 'rounding up suspects' threw him off. And what the hell was 'the Booth'?
Malcolm scowled and glared at Archer. “With all due respect, I should--”
“You're the MACO commander, but I'm head of Security. Stay out of my department, Reed. If any of your people were involved, that's where you come in.” Archer's tone was still pleasant, but it had a dark undertone to it. He nodded at Trip. “With your permission?”
Trip was too stunned to say anything, so he just nodded instead. Archer gave Mac a firm nod. “Make sure the captain gets to his quarters in one piece. Reed, I'm sure you've got some 'important' work to do somewhere.”
Malcolm stiffened at the dismissive tone, his face dark with suppressed anger. Archer turned and left the cargo bay with his men. Trip gave Malcolm a warning look and murmured, “Careful, Malcolm. Looks like this universe brings out the worst in people. Remember what we're here for.”
“Yes, Com—Captain.” Malcolm nodded back and added, “I'll see what I can find from the MACOs on this ship. Apparently, I'm as much of a thorn in Archer's side as Hayes was in mine.”Crewman scrambled out of their way as they passed. Their salutes reminded Trip of World War Two: the arm crossing the chest, then extended outward. He only nodded in reply because he didn't trust himself to speak. What kind of a person was he here? And he had to impersonate this man? Maybe this wasn't such a good idea as it sounded...
“Captain Tucker. Are you all right?”
Trip started at the solicitous tone, both strange and familiar. He turned to see Travis Mayweather leaning against the door of the captain's quarters. Mayweather's uniform was identical to Trip's, except for a star patch on the right shoulder with “Boomer” in gold letters. The young man's expression was one of utmost calm, but the dark eyes reflected anger and frustration.
“Neanderthal,” Mac muttered under his breath.
Mayweather is my First Officer here, and he arranged the shuttlepod 'accident'. Of course, he doesn't know that he really was successful the first time. Trip smirked at the man's obvious distress; it was so out of place for his Travis, but seemed natural here.
“I'm hale and hearty, Mister Mayweather, thank you for your concern. I'm sure you're findin' out who tried to blow me to hell and back?”
“Of course...Captain.” His mouth quirked in a half-smile. “You have a message from Imperial Intelligence, priority red. I took the liberty of routing it to your quarters.”
And you were down here because you were going to read it yourself. Not too subtle, Mayweather. Trip addressed him by his last name because this was not the Travis he knew, like Archer wasn't the Jon of his universe. And like Archer, Mayweather's motivations were completely transparent. Be careful, don't underestimate him. If he's anything like Travis, he's resourceful.
“Thank you for bein' so efficient,” Trip drawled. “I should see what that message's about. Talk to you later.”
“Of course, Captain,” Mayweather repeated, then ambled down the hall. Trip watched him go and barely stopped himself from rolling his eyes.
Mac stepped inside the captain's quarters first, did a quick scan, then gestured Trip inside. It wasn't until the doors closed that Trip finally sighed in relief. The Doctor took out something from his jacket pocket, a familiar glowing cylinder. He waved it around, then said, “All right, that's that. We can talk now.”
He grinned. “Yup. All sonic'ed up.”
Trip sat in the chair in front of his computer and took a quick look at the files. “Mac...Doctor...you'd better give me an abbreviated version of what's going on here. Don't skimp on anythin'...the more I know, the less chance I'll do something stupid to get me killed.”
Mac nodded and gave him a quick, concise summary of this universe. He wasn't as verbose as Trip expected; in this case, Trip appreciated it. Earth was the center of a Terran Empire, headed by an Emperor, who'd made London his capital. The Atlantis was part of a larger fleet, including Intrepid, Imperious andLexington.
“Enterprise as you know it doesn't exist anymore. It was destroyed in a battle with the Tholian Empire. You, Reed, Archer and Mayweather were among the survivors. Captain Maximilian Forrest had been one of your greatest supporters; he'd been set up and sacrificed himself and his ship in the final battle.”
Trip shook his head. “Lemme guess. Forrest wasn't supposed to be killed.”
“Actually, Forrest's death is a fixed point in time, Charles. We can't prevent it from happening in any universe. He died on Vulcan in your universe; this one died in Tholian space.” Mac's face was grimly serious. “You were transferred toAtlantis as chief engineer and first officer. When you found out your captain was about to betray the Empire to its enemies, you assassinated him and took command.”
“Who was he? Not Archer—I still can't imagine him in Security. He's the last person I'd expect in it.”
“A.G. Robinson.” At Trip's start of surprise, Mac said, “Seein' a pattern here? There are certain people whose fates are entwined with each other, no matter which universe we're talkin' about. You, Robinson, Archer...and Reed, especially.”
Trip thought about that. Probabilities. I wonder if there's a universe where I never met Jon, Malcolm or A.G. He shivered at that prospect; chances were good there might be a few here and there. He yanked his mind off that track. “So...we're supposed to 'fix' this universe so there isn't an 'Empire'?”
Mac winced. “Um...not exactly. It's supposed to be here, just...not like this.”
He pulled a face at those words. “Oh, hell. One of those universes...like the one where Hayes survived?”
“Yup. Can't change that. Unfortunately.”
“So we're trying to fix a rotten universe from being as rotten? Great.”Mac sighed and said, “I didn't say that. All I mean is that this universe is supposed to be different. Much different. And it affects several timelines in the future.”
Trip nodded as he accessed the message. “A necessary evil...hold on—this message was sent from London. You said the Emperor made it his capital...wait. He's British? He's--”
Mac crossed his arms, a gesture that made him seem even more forbidding than ever. His face became even grimmer, if that was even possible. “Three guesses, first two don't count.”
This is even worse than I thought. We're screwed. Trip gripped the edge of the desk so hard his knuckles turned white. “Why does he want to speak to me?”
“Dunno, but apparently he wants something from you. If we find out what that is, we'll know what he's plannin'.”
Trip sighed and tried to ignore the bottomless pit that was his stomach. “Why do I have the feelin' this is gonna be a bad idea?”
“Because it is. But we don't have much of a choice. A message from the Emperor demands a swift answer, if one knows what's good for him.” Mac deliberately stepped out of video range of Trip's computer. “Whatever you do...don't tell him I'm here. If he sees me, it would be very, very bad.”
“Paradoxes and all that.” Trip remembered the dilemma on board the Xindi Weapon, with him (literally) in two places at the same time. Two versions of theDoctor might just blow up the universe. Yet these were two different men, as far as Trip could tell, and neither knew the other.
He hoped. Or that would be, as Mac said, 'very, very bad'.”
Mac laughed without humor. “You got it. A seasoned time traveler already. I'm impressed.”
Trip shrugged again and ignored the sarcasm. The Doctor and your friend have a lot in common, Rose had said. One thing was sure...both he and Malcolm had a biting sense of wit that could easily irritate someone, if they weren't expecting it. Trip was sure that this Doctor had some warmth under the brittle exterior. Like Malcolm, he was an expert at hiding it.
He took a deep breath and muttered, “Okay...here goes.”
The screen lit up with the image of a stately office: rich mahogany wood, gilded gold, and books covered in red leather. Trip stared at the man who sat behind the ornate desk. How much hair gel does this man use on a daily basis? The chestnut eyes shone with intelligence and humor, but there was a manic quality to them, one that ran deeper than Mac's. He wore a dark blue pinstriped suit, with a silver Fob watch prominently hanging from the front pocket.
The man narrowed his eyes at Trip, who immediately saluted as best as he could. Those eyes seemed to weigh and measure Trip in one fell swoop. Could he see through Jack's perception filter and divine the truth? Trip kept himself absolutely still, even as his arm ached from being held so stiffly.
“At ease, Captain Tucker,” he said with a grin, and Trip gratefully dropped the salute. “I see you've been busy lately, and such devotion to duty should be rewarded, don't you think?”
He nodded and replied, “Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Good.” The Emperor's grin widened considerably. “I have an important assignment for you, one that will expand our Empire to new frontiers, both in time and space. Do you believe you're up for the task?”
“Of course, Your Majesty.”
“Atlantis will rendezvous with a new attack fleet. You're to answer to Admiral Tonek of the Romulan Star Empire Cruiser Demonclaw.” At Trip's start of surprise, the Emperor added, “Tonek is one of my most trusted advisors, Captain Tucker. He has been gathering intelligence on our enemy for some time now. Therefore, he will spearhead the invasion.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” Trip answered. Tonek? The name didn't sound familiar at all, but he had the sinking feeling that he'd be more than familiar with it in the near future.
The Emperor's mouth tightened and Trip braced himself for the onslaught, but it wasn't what Trip expected. “I've personally written orders for Commander Mayweather to be promoted to captain. He will take command of the starshipHorizon. The Horizon will join the Yamato in the initial attack. I'm sure Commander...ah, Captain Sato would appreciate the extra help. In any case, you'll have the two of them out of your way. I can't have you or Major Reed distracted during this important battle, can I?”
“Uh...no, sir.” He carefully hid his surprise. Yes, that would take care of his problem concerning a First Officer who was trying to kill him. But... “Captain Sato, sir?”
“Reed's dalliance has gone on a bit too long, I think. She needs to be off your ship. That woman is more trouble than she's worth. I want her—and Mayweather—permanently gone. Understood, Captain Tucker?”
Trip swallowed hard at the pure menace in his voice. “Yes, sir.”
“I've got plans for the Major. He's a countryman, and bloody good one, too.” The Emperor smiled again. “You have your orders, Captain. I expect them to be fulfilled to the letter. Understood?”
“I'll expect Atlantis at the fleet's coordinates in three days.” The Emperor nodded once, then reached over to cut the transmission. Just before the image winked off, Trip saw a blond man with a goatee approach the Emperor. The man's smirk implied so many things; Trip found himself wanting to scrub his eyes at the sight of it.
He and Mac stared at the darkened screen in appalled silence. Then Mac deadpanned, “Well, now isn't that bloody fantastic.”