Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek, Paramount, or any of its afiliates. This novel is for non-profit entertainment purposes only, and is only to be published on this website. Any breach of protocol in this regard is beyond my control. Live Long and Prosper.





In the 24th century…

The United Federation of Planets. The finest, most powerful conglomerate of powers in the galaxy. For over two centuries, the Federation, primarily through the Starfleet military branch, had kept peace and order in the Alpha Quadrant. It had survived several wars, intergalactic plagues and ethnic differences. It had seen the rise of new ideas and new technologies, some of them nearly unfathomable. It was, in a word, the greatest hope for continuing peace in the Milky Way galaxy.

But it was all about to come to a crashing end.

On stardate 82591, a Level 6 classified meeting was held at Starfleet Headquarters on Earth, involving various top brass officials. The following is a partial excerpt from that meeting:

Stardate 82591 Starfleet Headquarters, San Francisco, Earth

Present: Admirals Janeway, Nechayev, Keyes, Jellico

Janeway: Ladies and gentlemen, if you would please take your seats, we will begin. We've had some very distressing news over the last few weeks, and I'm afraid it concerns the Borg. Our scout ships have been detecting an increasing Borg presence in the two years since their last attack, and Starfleet has been attempting to compensate in every way possible. But three weeks ago, our suspicions turned into reality. A scout ship, using improved cloaking techniques, was able to maneuver into the transmission range of a number of Borg cubes. For two solid days, the crew was able to monitor the Borg's communications, and from them extrapolate the newest plot against the Federation. The crew, or rather what's left of them, is in recovery. A glitch occurred in the cloaking mechanism, rendering them visible for several seconds. It wasn't long enough for the Borg to destroy or assimilate them, but it was long enough that the ship got to limp home over the course of several days at low warp speeds. Thirteen of the fifty-four person crew died in the attack. We, that is, myself and Admiral Keyes, have analyzed the data from their mission, and we believe that there is significant evidence to anticipate a new attack on the Federation. Two years ago the Borg made a mistake. They underestimated humanity, assuming it necessary to only send one ship for Earth's assimilation. They attempted to change Earth's past and thus destroy the Federation before it began. Now, plans have changed. As there are many more people now than there were in the days directly following the third World War, the Borg have decided that there's no time like the present.

Jellico: But more people means more of a fight.

Janeway: True. But that does not, apparently, concern the Borg. They're out for mass assimilation, and I think that they're probably well aware they outnumber us. This invasion, ladies and gentlemen, will be like nothing the Federation has ever seen. We will be overrun by the Borg; every major sector in the Alpha Quadrant will be under simultaneous attack.

Nechayev: How long do we have?

Janeway: A month, maybe two. The President of the Federation has been alerted to the situation, as well as Chancellor Martok of the Klingon High Command and Praetor Donatra of the Romulan Star Empire. Their support is behind us. Also, we have been considering contacting the Cardassians, though that hasn't been decided on yet.

Jellico: What good will that do! We are seriously outmatched, Kathryn! You of all people ought to know what the Borg are capable of. This is terrible news! Half our damn fleet is gone, and the rest is still reeling from the war with the Dominion. We don't even know if we can trust the Romulans yet, and the Klingons? We've seen how well they fight the Borg.

Nechayev: Even with the aid of the Cardassians, any large-scale attempt by the Borg would most certainly succeed…

Janeway: Your concerns are felt by us all, Admiral. Fortunately, Starfleet is, as usual, one step ahead of us all. I'll turn this over to Admiral Keyes. David?

Keyes: Thank you, Kathryn. Ladies and gentlemen, Starfleet Special Operations has been working on a contingency plan for just this sort of threat, ever since the battle of Wolf 359 several years ago. It occurred to Starfleet at the outset of the Dominion War that the possibility of being seriously undermanned in the event of a Borg invasion was a grave one. After all, one Borg cube is equal in power to at least five of our heavy starships. Thus we needed a reserve available, both of ships and officers to man them. A special team spent the better part of a year developing what is now known as: "Project Wagon Train to the Stars". I see looks on your faces that doubtless mirror my own first reaction. In order to explain, we must begin with a little science. How familiar are you, admirals, with multiversal quantum signatures…

Chapter One

Reality, my way

"Lieutenant Commander Mike Allen reporting for duty." I tugged at my tunic, staring into the mirror for a long moment. I checked my phaser's setting. Stun. I set it for "kill", just in case. After all, one can't really trust the Romulans, and there would be plenty of those around…

I hopped into my car and sped off towards the convention. With any luck, I'd get there early enough to get the autographs I still needed for my collection. Jerry Foster and I had a raging competition going, and since he wasn't going to be able to make it to this con, I was confident that I was about to pull ahead in the race. I smiled, and popped a little Rod Stewart into the CD player as I turned onto the freeway.

"Nah. But you know I never expect to find anything there anyway," I said. Jerry's laugh on the other end of the line told me that he thought I was crazy. It also told me that he was envious, which made my day.

"Well, all right. There were a couple of Orion girls there, and one of them was pretty foxy, but I never even got the chance to say hello."

"Sounds to me like you never got the guts to say hello," Jerry fired.

"Hey man, I don't see you dating anyone either."

"True, but give it time, man. Give it time. I've got my eyes on this girl at work. She's pretty hot, and I'm pretty sure she's a Next Generation fan."

"Ten bucks says you don't stand a chance," I laughed.

"You're on. Will you be paying me in cash or credits?"

"Neither. Remember, we don't use money in the 24th century."

"Ooh, tricky. By the way, did you get that Trek survey in the mail?" I nodded even though Jerry couldn't see my head shaking.

"Yeah. I already sent it back in. How'd you do?"

"Oh, pretty good I think. It was tough, but then we like tough, don't we?" The survey he was referring to had arrived at my house a few weeks previous. It claimed to be the most difficult Star Trek trivia out there, and was made doubly so by the fact that once you received it, you only had a week to get it filled out. The first place prize, however, was a weekend in Las Vegas at the Hilton. Never wanting to pass up a chance to see the Star Trek Experience, and thoroughly enjoying every chance to display my knowledge of Trek, I filled it out over the course of two days. It was indeed quite difficult, but I was pretty sure I had answered most, if not all of the questions accurately.

"Yeah. I finished it in two days. You?"

"Day and a half, baby! Of course, you probably got a lot more correct than I did…"

"Probably," Jerry's knowledge of Trek was second to none, except my own. He was amazing when it came to remembering dates and events, but his science was just a little off. We had spent hours debating things like temporal anomalies and discontinuities, and I had nearly always won. Still…

"Well, I have to go, Mike. I need to get dressed for tonight."

"What's tonight?"

"Oh, nothing much. Just a date with Sarah."


"Did I forget to mention that I already asked her out?" Click.

"Damn!" I muttered, pulling out my wallet and checking to see if I had a ten.

For a Star Trek fanatic, I had always considered myself fairly normal. I owned a uniform (actually, several), but only wore it to Trek-related gatherings. I watched the shows faithfully of course, but I didn't live them publicly. Conversely, I was far from ashamed of my fanaticism, and would readily spend hours discussing the show with anyone who showed any interest. I also enjoyed using it as a conversation stopper when I was bored. If my co-workers, deep in a discussion about sports, would ask me who my teams were, I would reply with as straight a face as I could muster that I was really rooting for the Qo'noS Targskins this season. That usually did the trick, though it had the result of keeping me perpetually friendless at work.

As for the urban legend that a Star Trek fan never has a girlfriend…well, that was only partially true for me. I could get a girlfriend fairly easily. It was keeping them that proved to be quite a challenge. In the past four years, I had gone through three girlfriends. While this made my odds of ever succeeding with the ladies seem pretty poor, I seldom got disheartened. And when I did, there was always Star Trek. It had been my boon companion since early childhood; I grew up with Captain Kirk and Mr. Data and Ben Sisko, and considered them more than just characters I watched on TV. Will Riker was my friend. These people were real, somewhere in the most imaginative regions of my brain.

Back to girls: I was quite single that night. I had been for some months (I couldn't say how many; I generally tried not to remember such things), and was just beginning to get into the groove of things again. And for the most part, I was relatively happy about the whole business. I sat in my overstuffed armchair in the living room of the kingdom that was my apartment, sipping gently at an icy brandy (yeah, I like it that way) and listening to Barry Manilow. It was so peaceful that I almost anticipated the knock on my door.

Swearing under my breath, I hauled myself from my chair and ambled to the door. The sight that greeted my eyes was almost comic: two guys in uniform (Starfleet, that is. An admiral and captain rank, to be specific) stood there, hands clasped behind their backs.

"Michael Thorne Allen?" the admiral asked.

"Yeah, that's me. Who are you?" The admiral smiled at the captain, then turned back to me.

"My name, sir, is Admiral David Keyes of the United Federation of Planets. This is Captain Louis Phillips of the starship Scandinavia." I don't know if it was the brandy in me or my spirit of fun, or both, but I immediately decided to play along and stood at attention.

"Lieutenant Commander Mike Allen reporting for duty," I said. The fellow in the captain suit seemed surprised, but the admiral just smiled.

"At ease, lieutenant. May we come in?" I'm not particularly fond of letting strangers into my apartment, especially late at night. But then again, anyone who would come in Starfleet attire probably knew me somehow. I stood aside and let them enter.

"You gentlemen care for a drink?" I asked. The captain shook his head no, but the admiral's face seemed to brighten.

"Love one," he replied. I grabbed the brandy and a glass from the cabinet.

"Ice?" I asked. The admiral nodded. "So, what brings admiralty to my door this late at night," I asked with some humor as I poured.

"Mr. Allen, Starfleet would like to employ your knowledge and talent. How would you like to have the chance to command a starship?" I waited for the smile, but one didn't come. Suddenly it dawned on me that these guys were not playing a joke on me. I looked at their uniforms: very crisp. Obviously expensive. They must be convention workers.

"Gentlemen, there's nothing I would rather do than work a convention, but I have a full-time job. I barely have enough time to go to the cons, let alone…"

"Mr. Allen, we're not talking about conventions," the captain finally spoke. "We're talking about literal duty aboard a real starship." I saw nothing but sincerity in their eyes, and a funny thing happened. The very thing that I was to most of society, I now looked at them as: weirdos. I glanced at the door, trying to mentally calculate how long it would take to get there, and how fast I could traverse the stairs once I did. The admiral must have discerned what I was thinking, because he moved closer to the door, effectively blocking me in.

"What do you guys want?" I asked, with a fair amount of tension in my voice. Neither of them seemed to be armed, other than the toy phasers at their sides, but I was pretty sure I wasn't big enough to take both of them. The admiral tossed me something. I quickly reached out for it, missing. It clinked on the floor behind me. Slowly, keeping my eyes glued on them, I backed up to it and bent over. It was a communicator badge; I assumed it was made out of aluminum as light as it was.

"What's this for?" I asked. Instead of answering, the admiral tapped his own communicator.

"Three to beam up. Energize," he said. I nearly laughed, nervous as I was. If this was a joke, it was getting less and less funny all the time.

"Listen, Mister. I don't know who the…"

And just like that, my apartment shimmered and disappeared.

"…hell you think you are, but…" I stopped. My apartment was no longer around me, and I was, in fact, standing in an entirely different environment altogether. The room I was in stretched almost as far as the eye could see. The ceiling must have been thirty feet up. Entire football fields, at least two of them, could have fit into this room. The most amazing thing, however, was how many people were standing around me. Most of them carried the same dazed expression that I'm sure was on my face. I turned to see the admiral and the captain, smiling at me.

"W-what?" I could say no more. The admiral clapped me on the shoulder.

"Welcome to the twenty-fourth century, Mr. Allen." He and the captain turned, and before I could say anything, they disappeared into the crowd. I was left alone among the masses, clueless as to what had just happened.

I say clueless, because my brain was fighting with everything it had the very obvious conclusion that it was coming to. This was not real, no matter how real it might seem or how real I wanted it to be. It was a very, very elaborate trick, but a trick nonetheless. Judging from the faces all around me, I would guess that they had all just been subjected to the same trick. Gradually, a dull murmur arose, which got louder and louder until it became a roar as what looked to be several thousand people began asking questions. More than once someone would come up to me and ask me what had just happened. I didn't answer them, mostly because I didn't know, but partly because I feared that maybe I did.

Suddenly, a voice boomed above the din.

"Ladies and gentlemen, if you could please quiet down, we'll get started. I'm sure you're all wondering why you're here." I looked for the source of the voice, and eventually found it. There was a podium to my right, elevated on a carpeted stage of sorts, and at it stood another fellow in an admiral's uniform. Amazingly, the booming crowd quieted almost instantly. Everyone turned toward the podium and stood, waiting for an explanation. The admiral waited for a second, then continued.

"My name is Admiral Christopher Maxwell. As each of you have been told, you are now in the twenty-fourth century. Welcome." A few laughs could be heard, but not very many given the size of the crowd. "I understand your cynicism, ladies and gentlemen, but I assure you that you are in the twenty-fourth century. Proof of that will come later, don't worry. But before we get to that, allow me to explain the more important element, which is why you've been brought here. Each of you has been selected because you will understand precisely the implications of what I'm about to tell you.

"The Federation, yes, the same Federation you're all familiar with, is about to enter what will probably turn out to be the largest, bloodiest war it has ever seen. Millions and millions of lives will be lost, and countless more will become something far worse than dead. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm speaking of the Borg." A few more laughs cascaded across the crowd, but not as many as before. This time I joined them, nervously. No matter how odd it seemed that someone would spend the time and money to pull off such an elaborate hoax, that was exactly what this had to be. The Borg were fictional characters; I had met some of the people who had played them. Hell, I had dressed as one at a con several years before! And now, this man was standing before me, telling me that the Borg were a threat. I loved role playing the Star Trek universe, but this was getting out of hand. I looked away from the podium, and suddenly something caught my eye.

Up until that moment, I had been too busy being confused to notice that there were windows at the far end of the room. Something about them didn't look right, and with a start I realized what it was. There was sunlight pouring in through them! I glanced at my watch, already knowing that it was well past ten at night. My stomach turned, and I felt dizzy for a second. Still a hoax, Allen. Still a hoax. They can do that, you know…

"…ships were detected along the far edge of the Klingon border three days ago. Our scouts thought it was very peculiar that the ships seem to have just stopped, but Starfleet Intelligence believes that they are actually just waiting for the attack to commence. It has been determined that we have roughly a month to prepare for this.

"Starfleet, frankly, is aware that we stand no chance in this conflict. Even with the support of the Romulans and the Klingons, and perhaps even the Cardassians, the Borg are too powerful. It would seem that the Federation is doomed. But you, citizens of your world and your time, have kindled a hope for the Federation. Thus far, we have brought three thousand of you from your time and your universe, to ours. It is our sincere hope that, as devout fans of what you call Star Trek, a fictional universe based very closely on the reality that is our universe, you will join us in our time of need, and become the leaders that you all know you were born to be." He paused for several seconds, letting the weight of his speech sink in to the audience.

I felt, to my own shock and dismay, my disbelief beginning to melt away. The thoughts of this isn't real still ran circles around my brain, but they were getting slower and more distant. The moment I had dreamed of for nearly twenty years was finally here. Was it possible? Could it be that this dream, this fantasy of mine, was coming true? I knew I wasn't dreaming. That much is obvious to a person when they really are awake. But was I hallucinating? I didn't think so. How much brandy had I had?

"I'm sure you all have hundreds of questions, and believe me, they will all be answered over the course of the next month. Each of you will go through some very rigorous training over the next two weeks. Following that, you will be placed under a captain aboard a starship for a week. At that point, approximately one hundred of you will assume command of your own starship. The rest of you will comprise the crew of those and other starships. It is our goal to mix crews as much as possible, to bring as much experience to the command chain as we can."

Already, I was beginning to see people who had completely bought into the admiral's speech. Some of them stood at attention, others wept. Few sights can compare to seeing several thousand people realize that their lifelong fantasy has just come true. But they're misguided, Allen. Their fantasy…your fantasy…isn't real.

"And if any of you should wish to return to your world, you have but to ask. Starfleet asks only for volunteers; you will be returned to your exact time, with no memory of this whatsoever. I will now turn you over to your training sessions. Thank you all."

With that, he stepped away from the podium and disappeared from sight. Immediately the crowd began to speak again, until we heard another voice. This one must have come over an intercom, as we could see no one at the podium.

"If you would all please walk in an orderly fashion toward the doors at the far end of the room, you will be seen to your individual quarters. Anyone wishing to leave please inform the attendants when you get to the doors." Around me, the crowd slowly began moving in the general direction of the doors. I sighed in confusion, shrugged my shoulders, and followed. It took a very long time to get to the doors, as the crowd moved slowly. Around me I could see people who were taking this much worse than myself. Some were clawing to get to the front of the line, demanding loudly that they "see whoever is in charge of this thing". Some were sitting on the floor in a daze, dead to their surroundings. I decided immediately that no matter what it was that I was about to see, I would not end up in as bad a shape as that.

My "quarters" turned out to be a sparsely furnished room with bunk beds and a single desk. There was a computer console on the desk, and a chair with a giant Starfleet chevron on it.

Of course I had stayed. There was no way I was going to leave this alone, whether it was real or not. I had stepped outside, finding that it was, in fact, day, and had since just wandered wherever they told me to go, utterly dazed. Already I had walked by a transporter pad and seen a person materialize out of thin air. I had seen shuttle pods flying mere yards away outside. I had seen a multi-billion dollar hoax, if that was indeed what it was. Now, I was looking through a closet full of fresh Starfleet uniforms, half of which were oddly in my size. I noted that they all bore the rank of captain. Determining that I had better join that which I could not beat, at least for the moment, I took one of the uniforms and put it on.

I had barely finished the final pip when I heard the whoosh of the automatic door. In the light of the anterior stood Jerry. Fighting the urge to hug someone with a familiar face, I settled for raising an eyebrow.

"Don't ask me, man," he said, sitting on the bed, wide-eyed. Then he grinned. "If this is a dream, you'd better not pinch me!"

"I've been scared to pinch myself. This is pretty surreal, my friend."

"Tell me about it," he said, finding a uniform from his half of the stack and changing into it. "I hope that someone tells us what's going on before too long."

"You don't suppose…" I trailed off.

"That they're for real?" I nodded, ashamed of myself. Jerry's grin widened. "I sure hope so." At that moment, the door chimed.

"Come," Jerry and I said simultaneously. We looked at each other, smirking. The door opened, and there stood the man who had called himself Admiral Keyes. He looked to be in his late fifties, with short pepper-gray hair, bags under his eyes, and a slight paunch. He walked in without a sound, passed Jerry and I, and sat down at the desk.

"Jerry and Mike, how's it going?"

"We're not sure," I replied. Jerry nodded.

"What he's trying to say is where the hell are we?" Keyes folded his hands on the desk and leaned forward.

"You are where we say you are. You are at Starfleet Headquarters, in San Francisco, California. The year is 2379, and this is an alternate universe."

"A universe in which Star Trek is real? That seems a little far-fetched," I said.

"Not exactly that, Mike. You see, you live in a universe where our universe is nothing more than a television show. It seems far-fetched because you've always thought of it as such. After all," he said, sweeping his arm to indicate the room and that which lay beyond, "this is exactly what you've always wanted, isn't it?"

"Of course it is," Jerry replied. "But how?" The admiral smiled.

"In the year 2367, Starfleet's underestimation of the Borg was first realized. We lost eleven thousand people that day, and suddenly Starfleet was forced to take a very sober look at our future. For three months, a team of our finest thinkers worked night and day to find a solution to the two great questions: what if the Borg came again, and what if this time they came in greater numbers?

"The first countermeasure ideas centered around building a secret fleet of ships to be at our disposal. One hundred and twenty-four ships were commissioned to be built at a secret starbase. We had completed about a third of them when the Dominion War broke out." Keyes sighed; perhaps the war had taken its toll on him. What war! The Dominion War isn't real, remember!

"I think you're aware of the damage done to Starfleet by the Dominion. Towards the end of the war, we were forced to bring twenty of the ships we had been building into active duty. That left one hundred and four ships to be finished. We have ninety-eight of them completed, and the other six are very near to it." I had been intrigued by his story, but I was getting a bit impatient.

"This doesn't explain much…"

"Please bear with me, Mr. Allen. I'm getting to it. What you saw on television about the Federation coming out of the war very strong was a bit of an exaggeration. In fact, the Dominion War nearly crippled us beyond repair. We barely have enough ships to put up a front of stability, let alone actually attempt to guard ourselves." Keyes sighed again. "And as for the Starfleet ideal of 'going where no man has gone before', well, that's little more than a catchphrase now.

"We lost a lot of people in the Dominion War, gentlemen. All the starships in the universe are no good to the Federation if there are no officers to man them. So, we had to create a supply of surplus Starfleet officers. As you can no doubt imagine, this was a daunting task. Once again, Starfleet Intelligence went to the drawing boards, arguing various possibilities deep into the night. At last, they came up with an idea that formed the groundwork for the final outcome.

"The idea was to enter the multiverse, by using a transporter rigged to fluctuate a person's quantum signature. Originally, we intended to find counterparts for our existing Starfleet officers, and ask the Starfleet of their universe to 'loan' them to us. Unfortunately, there were several very serious problems with that. First of all, many of the officers we would have pulled into our universe, were dead here. That would have been catastrophic to say the least. And as for the living counterparts, well, it would have been very confusing at best. Ultimately, classification issues rendered the entire question moot anyway, so the idea was scrapped.

"Then someone came up with a very intriguing idea. What if, they conjectured, we didn't recruit actual Starfleet officers? What if, instead, we came up with a way of informing millions of people about the events in our universe? Their sympathy with our cause, in addition to their highly informed status concerning Starfleet Operations, would make them perfect recruits when the time came." Keyes paused for a moment, letting his speech so far sink in. I had not realized it, but my knuckles were white from clenching my hands so hard. I no longer felt wary of this man. In fact, I was starting to believe him…

"At first the idea was rejected as ridiculous. The project was too intense, and could never be pulled off in time. But the fellow who had come up with the idea was adamant that it would work. He said he had figured out the entire system, how to make it work, and so forth. So Starfleet listened.

"He suggested that we not only transport to an Earth in the multiverse, but that we also time travel several hundred years into the past, during the age of television. The events happening in our universe were to be portrayed as a fictional television show. Over the course of forty or fifty years, he presumed that the show would build up a following far larger even than the amount of people we anticipated needing.

"Needless to say, Starfleet began to listen a little more intently at this point. There were obvious flaws of course. The Prime Directive, for example, would seem to be totally against the idea. Mr. Roddenberry, however…"

"Gene Roddenberry is a Star Trek character!" Jerry and I said together.

"A character?" the admiral laughed. "Hardly. But he was the brains behind the Star Trek idea. As I was saying, he reasoned that the Prime Directive didn't apply in the multiverse, and even if it did, we could always find a universe where…" The admiral trailed off.

"Where what?" I demanded. The admiral looked at me with a certain amount of pity in his eyes.

"Where Earth would be destroyed in a few hundred years anyway." My heart sank. My mind was reeling, and I could tell that Jerry was distraught as well.

"I am sorry to lay that knowledge on you, but you might take some interest in knowing that it is the Borg in your universe who destroy Earth. As difficult as it may be for you to deal with that, I'm afraid that we must move on with this story. It took some time, but eventually Roddenberry convinced us that it just might work. It was decided that the best thing to do was portray our universe as accurately as possible to your universe. We nearly hit a snag there; we needed characters that looked like our people. Fortunately, Starfleet had just the answer. Eight years ago, Starfleet saved the planet Hiren III from a solar eruption that would have destroyed them. In return, according to a very deep-held religious custom, the Hiren willfully subjected themselves to serving Starfleet eternally.

"Interestingly, the Hiren are shapeshifters. It was found that while they really were not good at all at any sort of starship function, their ability to mimic other races was flawless. Starfleet had therefore been employing them as spies for several years, when the 'Wagon Train to the Stars' project came online. A group of Hiren were to travel to your Earth in the 1960's and begin the process. Starfleet would monitor their progress from our universe and time, making adjustments as necessary. We changed Roddenberry's name for the show to 'Star Trek', and began the mission.

"I hardly need to tell you what has happened in your universe since then. We spent about a month working with forty years of your time. We had to work very hard to come up with the product you saw. It wasn't easy to determine how to tell such a vast history, but we finally opted to tell it from the point of view of the Federation flagships. Then, as events necessitated, we began letting you in on happenings at Deep Space Nine. The entire purpose of the show 'Voyager' was to give out even more information on the Borg. We needed you to be as informed as possible when you arrived.

"The time that we feared would come finally is here. Evidence indicates that within a month, this quadrant will be swarming with Borg. If you choose to fight with us, you will spend most of that month in training. We picked you because, like the four thousand some other people you saw out there today, you know Star Trek. You've lived it in your fantasy lives, and you understand it. You're even comfortable in it, I've noticed," he said, looking at our uniforms. "And don't worry about all the questions you have; you'll have plenty of time to ask them and have them answered to your satisfaction." With that he rose, and extended his hand toward Jerry.

"How about it?" Jerry thought for a long moment, staring at the admiral's hand. He glanced at me and, as if determining that he'd better do it before he lost his bravery, he quickly grasped the extended hand and pumped it vigorously. The admiral smiled and turned, offering the same to me.

Is this really happening, Allen? Is it possible? Can you agree to fight for a cause you would normally find laughable? Then again, if it's true, no matter what universe it is, the Borg are going to destroy your planet.

Like hell they are!

I reached for the admiral's hand.