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11: The Mirror Crack'd Part 2

Posted on Wed Aug 12th, 2020 @ 12:57pm by Commander Rita Paris & Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox
Edited on on Wed Aug 19th, 2020 @ 9:52pm

Mission: The Bulikaya Particle
Location: USS Hera
Timeline: 2397
Tags: Rita Bulikaya

Three hours later in the Intel Pod, a fully organic Dedjoy was tuning the Section 31 transporter. “I mean, it’s an interesting idea, and really, I suppose we could use it to establish communications between dimensional barriers by altering the ionization of the annular beam to redirect the vibrational frequency of the target, thus rendering it native to that iuniverse. I suspect that’s what the Bulikaya particles are- an attempt to map the multiverse, in order to define vibrational frequencies by traveling through them.”

“Blah blah blah, are we ready yet?” the hardshell hottie was pacing impatiently, as her minidress-clad counterpart eyed her, then turned to Dedjoy.

“Ila, we really appreciate you doing this for us. It’s not the easiest trick in the universe, and I suspect you’ll need the power of the fortress-” Rita began, but Dedjoy had brightened up when the visiting Rita spoke to her, and in her enthusiasm, interrupted her.

“Oh no, I have a singularity imploder that should release a sufficient burst of energy to get it there. That part’s easy. And I still have the destination from the beam we caught Commander Paris in, so I have the landing spatial coordinates. Matching the chroonal coordinates- that’s the tricky part. But I think I’ve pinpointed it, so.... are you ready?”

In the bright blue eyes of the embittered executive, there was something Rita hadn’t seen since she landed here- hope.

That was when the power dimmed, and both Paris’ comm badges chirruped.

As the dark armored and angry version produced a rifle from her back that expanded when she activated it- apparently her inventive streak had taken a different turn here- the visiting Paris tapped her comm badge. “Paris here, go ahead.”

“So the question is WHICH Paris is it? The one who admitted she murdered Commander Xustos, or the one who’s an intruder from the Mirror Universe? Just which Paris would... that... be?” French’s singsong ‘little girl’ voice chirped on the other end, even as Dedjoy scrambled to operate systems. But before Rita could respond, her local equivalent was already answering.

“This is the version that’s gonna shove her foot so far up your ass you’ll be coughing up my toenail polish in the morning,” Paris snarled. “What’s the meaning of this, French? What are you playing at?”

“Wellll, you were the one who confessed to murder,” French giggled like a sociopath as suddenly Paris’ voice came through the comms. “ I murdered him. I let Meroset 347 murder him. I just didn’t stop it.”

When French’s voice came back on the line, she literally giggled again, which made both women’s teeth grind. “So I have one murderer who is part of the crew, and I have a mirror universe version, who, according to Starfleet regs, is supposed to be contained and segregated from the crew and brig population. Now here you are up there plotting to open some sort of dimensional breach, with poor Dedjoy hostage-”

“I’m not a hostage!” Dedjoy called out, but was ignored.

“...So we’ve sealed off the pod and cut power, because whatever you bitches are cooking up in there, the Captain wants it stopped.” French finished with a little titter there at the end.

“The captain, or just you?” the local Paris growled. “Because she’s still in the dark and she doesn’t know what you’re up to, does she, Frenchie?”

“Mmmmm, might be her comm’s off and she hasn’t noticed she’s locked in her ready room...” French replied, her voice in something of a snit. “And don’t call me Frenchie, I’ve told you about that.”

“Sure, you want to shoot us, but don’t call you names. Noted, Ms. Mental Stability,” the visiting Rita quipped. “So what’s your long game here, French?”

“Welllllll, it looks like somebody sealed the pod, se we can’t get in. Welllll, at least without cutting our way in, so we’re doing that now. There are a few heavy hatches between us and you, so I’d say you’ve got asbout ten minutes before you’re all shot resisting arrest. So make peace with your gods or whatever, because Alex and the boys are coming for you, and they really, really have been waiting a long time for this. Oh no, we couldn’t tell which was which so we shot ‘em both. Hee hee!”

“Miss Dedjoy, give us a security seal, please. Cut off all signals until further notice- I don’t want them eavesdropping on us,” the gold clad commander asked, and the doll-eyed Ila Dedjoy blinked a few times, then went to work.

“The pod’s sealed, Commander. Do... are they really going to kill us, ma’am?” Dedjoy asked, the fear evident in the quaver of her voice.

As the angry embittered combat commander turned, she ran into the open hand of her minidress-wearing counterpart, who had already interposed, leaving her to ‘talk to the hand’ in a literal sense.

“No, Miss Dedjoy, they most certainly are not. Those are some sick people out there who need help, and we’re going to get it for them. But right now, we need to work together to get out of this.” Turning to regard her hard-charging alternate reality self, the compassionate commander said, with conviction, “ALL of us.” Turning back to Dedjoy, Paris sought her eyes. “So I need for you to be brave, and to work with us to get out of this jam. Can you do that, Ila?”

Hearing her first name from the Commander, even if she wasn’t the real one, buoyed the spirits of the Illaran scientist, and she looked up, perhaps for the first time since they’d entered. As Paris reached out to clasp the slender woman’s shoulder, a small smile spread across the delicate features of the frightened young woman.

“Y-yes ma’am... Commander. I’ll... I’ll do my best,” Dedjoy said, those big dark eyes seeking the blue eyes of the anachronistic astronaut, who smiled and nodded.

“I know you will, Ila. You’re one of the bravest, most selfless women I know. You’ll do fine. Now, I need to find a way to open a secure channel down to the flight deck, and I need you to find Mona Gonadie. She should be in flight control?”

At that, the local Paris cleared her throat, and the visiting Paris looked back.

“Ah, there was a dimensional rift we took the Hera into, and out of. Gonadie had this idea that she could see all the energy wavelengths and surf them, but... something she saw... it broke her mind. She’s been a vegetable ever since. They sent her home to Miradon,” Paris relayed, and for the first time, Paris heard regret tinging the woman’s voice. It was clear she still felt guilt over the fate of the amazing aviatrix, and seeing the expression on Rita’s face seemed almost painful for her.

“Where you come from... Mona’s still okay?” the negative navigator asked, as Rita Paris nodded.

“Yes... she’s alive, well, and very happy,” Rita replied quietly, as her counterpart nodded, obviously restraining strong emotions.

“That’s good... That’s... I’m glad for her.” In that statement, Rita suspected that perhaps she and Mona had been more than coworkers here, but she said nothing. Instead, she turned back to Dedjoy.

“How about Mnhe- ah, Melanie Dox? Can you find her for me?” Rita asked Dedjoy, correcting herself on the fly. Asa and Rita had been instrumental in Dox’s realization of her true heritage and identity. Emotionally crippled as she was here, Rita was in no shape to help anyone. And if Dox and Asa had become friends, when Asa died on Meroset that would have just pushed Dox that much further into her shell. Right now, though, she might just be the only chance Rita had of surviving the next few minutes. “Hopefully she’s hiding in a shuttlecraft somewhere. You can do that, right?”

“I... well, if I... yes! If I use the... right, then...” Dedjoy began to mutter and mumble to herself, as she sometimes did when engaged in the fervor of creativity that was often the hallmark of her inventing. As Rita turned, her counterpart seemed baffled. Taking the woman by the arm, Rita guided her to the other side of the lab, then called to the overhead.

“Lucky, do you copy?”

No response.

“XJX-233A, do you copy?” Paris asked, and a chirrup answered, followed by a disembodied voice.

=^ Yes Commander? How may I help? =^=

“Whew! Lucky, thank goodness,” Rita sighed in relief, then looked up at the overhead quizzicaly. “I guess I never named you Lucky here? Well, it still fits, so Im naming you Lucky, XJX-233A. Got it?”

=^= That designation is acceptable. Thank you, Rita Paris. =^=

“Give us notifications as the Security team manages to cut their way up here, please,” Rita said to the overhead, her voice friendly and warm. “I need to know how many remain hatches between us and them, understood? Can you do that for me, Lucky?”

=^= I’d be happy to, Commander Paris =^= the suave British voice replied.

"Forever more... He'll be even more incorrigible now..." Ila muttered.

Turning to face her local model, Paris was surprised to see the expression on the woman’s face- one of bafflement and shock. Leaning back a bit, Rita frowned. “What, do I have spinach in my teeth or something?”

“No, it’s just...” The other Paris shook her head. “It’s nothing. So what’s your plan?”

“If I can get through to Dox, she could bring a shuttle around, and we could exit the pod before they get up here. Then double back around, and flood the pod with gas to anesthetize... wait, nope, those clowns wear their armor all the time. We’ll have to blanket stun the pod. The phaser ring can do it, but you’d have to override the controls, and we’d need to be on the bridge or auxiliary control on Deck 11. Once we’ve got them pacified, we can start working on damage control for your maniac security officers. Thoughts?”

There was that moment of chagrin on her face as the embittered executive considered her cosmic counterpart. Shaking her head, she inhaled deeply, then sighed. “I could just go out the airlock by myself, double back and take them down, but you’re trying to get everyone else involved- which is a good way to get everyone killed. Let me just do my thing, then you and her can do your little experiment and I’ll be fine.”

Now it was the other version in the velour minidress to look at her counterpart strangely. “So because you lost people, is that it? The universe just kept taking more and more, and you didn’t have anything to refil it... damn, Rita. I’m starting to understand how you got this way. But no- we’re going to get out of this together. With a little help from our friends.”

=^= 5 bulkheads to contact =^= Lucky reported.

The way the woman said it, with earnest and absolute conviction, made the local Paris’ eyes roll, as she grumbled, “Better hope you’re right about that. Cuz I’m the only one with a spacesuit.”

While that did bring up the topic of her bracers, before Rita could broach that subject, she was interrupted by a yip of excitement from Dedjoy, who was hopping up and down in place she was so excited.

“I found her! I found her! Just like you said, Commander, she’s in the shuttlecraft Danu!” Dedjoy was clearly quite pleased with herself, and Rita was all smiles as she rushed over to look. Patting the woman gently on the back, the cheerful cosmonaut beamed that million-watt smile at the geologist.

“GREAT work, Ila, I knew you could do it! You are a clever woman in any universe... Alright, so can I talk to her? Can we open a channel?”

“Um, sure, I can... right, and... if I... aha!” tapping at displays and flipping through screens, in seconds, Dedjoy had a comm channel opened for Rita.

Taking a deep breath, Paris launched into what was going to have to be one of the most convincing speeches of her life. “Melanie? This is Rita... Rita Paris. Yes, the Commander, but I’m not that version. I come from another universe... right now I am just visiting yours. And right now, I need your help.”

“I know right now you are freaking out, wondering if someone is playing a prank on you, wondering if this is the Commander setting you up to fail for something, or a whole lot of possibilities as you spiral about this. I say that because in my universe, I know you, Miss Dox. We’re friends... good friends. I know your mother, and I know what you went through to get into Starfleet. I know about the Forager and Jaeih and that guy at the Academy and your grandparents in Ohio and Mol’Krunchi. While I am sure there are some variations between you, I feel secure in saying that I know the quality of woman you are, Mnhei’sahe.”

There was still silence on the other end, as Rita was sure using her proper Romulan name was probably freaking Dox out even more. But at the same time, surely she had to know Rita clearly knew far too much about a junior lieutenant who was slowly washing out of Starfleet.

“Dox, I am calling you because I need your help. Yeoman Dedjoy, Commander Paris and myself are trapped up in the Intel pod. Security has sealed us in, and they’re cutting their way in. Once they get here, I am fairly certain they plan to murder us and claim it was self-defense, and they’ll get away with it if no one looks too deeply into it.”

“Frankly, I got better things to do today than die.”

“I need you to power up the Unlucky Lady there, the Danu, and I need you to fly her out of the flight deck, and around to the airlock on deck C of the pod, to get us out of here before they kill us, Miss Dox. I know you can fake the clearance- maintenance flight, right? Your favorite excuse. And you need to get up here quickly, because...”

=^= 4 bulkheads to contact =^= Lucky reported.

“We’re running out of time, Dox. Look- I know you don’t think you’re any good. That you are some kind of cosmic mistake, a joke the universe played on you, bringing you into it only to spend your entire existence kicking you for being here. I know you hurt yourself when you blame yourself, because you feel you need it. I know all of this, and I know, I KNOW, deep down inside you, there is a hero. I know, because she’s my friend, and I have seen her risk her life more times than I can count- not for honor or glory or medals or accolades. She does it because it’s what’s right.”

“So how about it, Miss Dox? Do you think you could come save my ass again, because I need you, and it’s what’s right?”

At that moment there was silence- a very long silence. After fifteen seconds, Paris asked, “Miss Dox? Are you still there?”

“Probably routed the call through to Security like she was supposed to, and they’re laughing at your pretty little speech right now.” Producing and expanding the assault rifle she carried, Paris’ helmet ratcheted into place around her head. “The kitten whispers and tickle fights stop now...”

Which was when there was a slight thump on the bulkhead, and the airlock requested a handshake. Paris looked at one another, then to Dedjoy.

“Open it,” they both said in unison, although only one added, “Please.”

As the armed and armored astronaut trained her weapon on the airlock, it cycled open to reveal the interior of the shuttlecraft Danu, with a portly redheaded pilot in the chair. The nervous young woman was looking around, clearly frightened but handling the small starship with ease. “They’re gonna figure out what I’m doing, so you’d better c-come if you’re coming!”

As the local version lowered her weapon in disbelief, Paris hustled Dedjoy onto the shuttle. “Come on, Commander. You heard the lady, the bus is leaving!”

“I don’t believe it,” Paris muttered as her golden-clad counterpart stepped up behind Dox, clasping her shoulder and giving it a gentle squeeze. “I knew you wouldn’t let me down, Dox. Bring us in and park us on the upper flight deck on Deck 3, where R&D... ah, nevermind, just Deck 3, please?”

“A-aye aye, Commander,” Dox stuttered, then without even a bump, the hatch was sealed and the small starship was away, arcing gracefully back toward the aft of the saucer section where the flight deck was to be found.

Watching over her shoulder, the local Paris was impressed. “You knew she was this good a pilot?”

“I KNOW she is this good a pilot, yes,” Rita replied, patting the woman’s shoulder. “Nothing I said was untrue- in my universe, we’re the best of friends. Hell, I’m liable to end up serving under HER someday. I taught her what I know, and showed her that compassion will always trump violence, that an open hand and understanding can change a life, and that empathy is our most important tool in understanding others, no matter who they are. All she ever needed was a little guidance, some patience and a little compassion to help her through her journey of self discovery.”

That was met with silence all around, as the shuttle winged it’s way into the flight deck, and with remarkable precision and the barest of kisses, Dox touched the craft down in a flawless landing.

“Well... I dunno about the rest of it, but I’ll admit- you are at least a hell of a pilot,” the local Paris declared, which made the young woman’s skin blush, a somewhat splotchy brown affair.

Debating her own course of action, Rita followed her heart, as she always did, and went for it. “Thank you for saving me again, Dox. You stay here, keep Dedjoy safe- nobody hauls her off this ship but me or the Commander here, okay? Button her up and protect Dedjoy- can you do that for me? I know it’s a lot to ask from a woman you just met, but-”

“I’ll do it, Commander!” Dox blurted out, and Paris patted her on the shoulder again.

“Ask your mother about your father, Dox. Your REAL father. And ask her about Verelan t’Rul, and convince her to come clean with you. You deserve the truth, and to live authentically. You’ve always felt ‘not right’ for a reason, Mnhei’sahe. Talk to her- try not to fight and realize she lies to try to protect you, but... work it out. You need to- well, just trust me on this, okay?”

“I... will...?” Dox replied, as that was a lot of information coming at her at once. But the minidressed meddler was already off the shuttle and falling in step with her combative counterpart.

“So, can we override the phasers from your office?”

“Nope. Bridge.”

“There’s Security stationed on the bridge.”

“Yes there are.”

“Loyal to French and Sexton, I presume?”

“I presume.”

“So I suppose we’ll have to do something about that?” Rita said as they arrived at the turbolift, where a pair of enlisted men looked from one ot the other in confusion. Waving at them, she declared, “Can you tell if one of us is a hologram?”

That stalled them until they got into the turbolift and the local Paris grunted. “Deck 1, the Bridge. Yeah...”

As the lift arrived on the bridge and the doors opened, Rita threw a kick at the back of the knee of the Security officer on the left. As he fell, she slipped her arm around his neck in a sleeper hold, even as the other Paris cold-cocked the other officer by simply slugging him aross the base of the skull.

“That’s really unsafe, you could hurt someone,” Paris said as her counterpart repeated what she said, mockingly.

“Alright people, yes, just took out security, yeah, you can call them now,” the armored Paris said as she made her way to the tactical station, where the officer standing there was familiar to Paris, and she called out- “Paris- wait! Computer, seal off the bridge, authorization Paris, Rita. CDR, ampersand ampersand E-A-R-T-H 2233.” As her local counterpart stared at her, the anachronistically uniformed officer shrugged seismically. “What? It’s not like it’s hard to remember, and it is my voice...”

Strolling over to the security station, Paris held up her hands before her. “Hello, Jablonskil. I know you don’t know me... well, maybe in a way, but you don’t know ME. I’m Rita Paris, from another universe. I know you there, and if there is one thing I know about you, it’s that you are a defender. You took it on yourself to protect other people from harm. That’s why you became a Security officer. Because you want to help, to serve and protect.”

“But that’s not what Security does on this boat, is it? They’re overrun with toxic masculinity, think they are the law, and there’s a whole locker room mentality going on down there. French just lets it happen while Sexton runs the show, and he’s a sadistic, psychotic bastard that you can’t believe is even in Starfleet, let alone in Security. So you do what you can and help where you can and keep your head down and your mouth shut while you want for your first chance to get off this boat before you get murdered or raped or who knows what. How’m I doing, Ethel?”

The muscular maiden, who was only as muscular as perhaps Petty Officer V’Nus in this reality, flickkered her eyes between the two seemingly identical women. As the armored local version nodded her encouragement, she spoke. “Is that true, Jablonski?

Silently, Jablonski nodded, and the black-bodysuited bombardier turned away in anger, shaking her head at what had transpired under her watch while she hadn’t given a shit.

“Ethel, the Security team is cutting their way into the Intel pod to murder us right now, and I would really prefer to not have to endanger other officers just to get this rogue element under control,” the unarmored uniformed first officer explained. “We need to stun the lot of them, and we can do that from here, with the phaser ring. But we need access to the panel to do it. Will you help us?”

There was a moment of hesitation, as indecision was plain to see on Jablonski’s face. As she looked to the earnest version who had spoken, her sincerity was clear, but instead she turned to the first officer of the Hera, the one in her chain of command, and Petty Officer Jablonski waited for the command.

Realizing that leadership had once again been thrust upon her, the local Paris nodded. “She’s right, Petty Officer. Stun the pod... please.”

With almost a zeal for the work, Jablonski angled the phasers, adjusted the firing resolution, set for wide beam heavy stun, and fired three short bursts at the pod. One probably would have doine it, but Rita suspected this was the first opportunity Jablonski’d had to affect this situation, and she was just being... thorough.

“Well, assuming they are all stunned now...” Paris asked, to which Jablonski nodded in confirmation. “What do you say we unseal the Captain’s ready room and have a conversation with her about her Security team?”

That was when the red alert klaxon sounded, with ‘Intruders on the bridge. Red alert, all hands to battle stations’

“Isn’t this where I came in...?”


In this reality, Enalia had never been emboldened enough to call for a Tribunal, so she was still herself, fortunately. However, she was the withdrawn, socially awkward and odd version Rita had first met when coming aboard- the version she found alienating and frightening with her constant talk of space piracy and circumventing Starfleet. Apparently here, as Rita had made no effort to curb such enthusiasms, Enalia was still the pirate princess of the Artan Empire. As she listened to their story, Baroness Scwein von Alcott stood beside her, glowering protectively. It seemed to annoy her that the visiting version of Rita was happy to see her.

“So that’s the long and short of it, Captain. They’re just absolutely out of control, manufacturing evidence and casually murdering their own and calling it ‘acceptable losses’. I know you wouldn’t expect toxic masculinity on your own starship, but here it is.” The visiting Paris shrugged. “I threw the entire lot off the ship, took over Security myself and recruited straight from the Academy.”

“Ja. Douchebags, the lot of them, I must agree, Princesszin,” the Baroness nodded.

“Fine, Set a course for Starbase 227, warp 9.6. I want them off my ship. I also want YOU off my ship,” Enalia glowered at the visiting Rita. “You’re disruptive, and I don’t like it.”

“I should be gone soon enough, Captain,” Rita admitted. “By the way, could I possibly have my bronze bracers back? They’re rather important to me, and I’d appreciate their safe return?”

“Science Lab 16, Deck 7. They weren’t making a lot of headway in analyzing them, so I was going to pass them to Dedjoy next. Anything else you need to tell me?” Enalia was cold and direct, the way Rita remembered- how she preferred to deal with people she didn’t know. Which seemed reasonable, all things considered.

“Yes, Captain,” Rita replied, rising from her chair and smoothing out her skirt. “If your mother ever duels you, her sword is a trap for the weilder. Whatever you do, don’t pick it up. Nice seeing you, Enalia...” Rita fluttered her fingers over her shoulder as Enalia Telvan pondered just what the hell that was supposed to mean, as the eyes of the Baroness narrowed.

The security team were tossed into the brig, on isolation from the rest of the Security team, who were all currently under observation by the Ops team, who were watching for sabotage or insurrection. Enalia anticipated a mutiny- unsurprising, given her background- and given how the situation seemed to be shaping up, the Security team might just have finished convincing themselves of their cover story that would lend righteousness to their mayhem. All of which was being documented and logged by Ops, not Security, who were doctoring the sensor feeds in collusion.

The majority of the Security team would be facing court-martial by the end of the month.

The Science team returned the bracers, after which Paris explained the basic function and manner of execution, assisted the science team in their scans, and was generally helpful and friendly with them, sending them on their way with exciting new data. As she clasped them back onto her wrists with no small degree of relief, Rita had to admit. She had come to rely upon the options that having her EVA armor and a weapons cache at her fingertips had wrought. But she could still do it with no phaser, in just a minidress and her wits... so long her heart was in it.

“Dedjoy’s ready to send the communicator. I guess I... need to figure out what to say, huh?” the local Paris asked her counterpart.

“Speak from your heart, Rita. It’s your last report to Michael and the Exeter, so ask for your transfer and tell him a little bit about where you ended up. And... say what you need to say to Sonak. He might not find you, so say what’s in your heart. All that stuff you’ve been afraid to say for 2 years now. But you and I both know,” Rita wagged her finger at her doppleganger, “If he knows where you are, there is no force in this, or any other universe that can keep him away. He WILL find you, Rita. The course that you plot I shall follow...”

“For I trust you to guide us both, through this undiscovered country,” the local Rita Paris finished, her voice choked with emotion.

“Look, Rita,” the minidress-clad visitor said softly, “He’ll come if you tell him where you are. But... I know it’s been years, and it’s been hard. But maybe think about who you are, and who you’ve become here. Then think about who he’s gonna be expecting to find when he gets here. He’ll know it was hard, and he’ll know that you despaired without him. He does understand human failing, after all.” Both women felt that one, as both had fumbled and failed on occasion, yet the Kolinahr never judged her poorly for it.

“All I’m saying is, when you call for him... make sure he still recognizes his t’hy’la.”

If Rita Paris had a response to that, she kept it inside, even as her visiting counterpart rose from her chair, smoothing out her skirt and preparing to leap once more, hoping this time would be the leap home.

“Be better, Rita,” her cheerful golden-girl reflection said to the grouchy Calhoun-esque soldier, as she waggled her fingers in farewell, then simply vanished.

“Be better...” Rita grumbled, remembering the simple philosophy taught to her by a Deltan doctor on a Risan beach at dawn, a very long time ago. It had been a long time since she’d heard it, and just as long a time since she’d thought about it. Be better a little bit, every day, Fail sometimes, but then, just do better than that. So long as you strive to be better, you WILL be better.

A little bit, every day.

It seemed it was time for her to remember who she was, to learn to trust again. It had been a long time, but it felt like perhaps... Instead of walling herself off from the universe, convinced it would just hurt her, she could start believing in things again.

Believing in people again.

Reaching out she, tabbed the comm panel on her desk.

“Lieutenant Junior Grade Dox, come to my office... please.”


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