In A Mirror, Darkly
Summary: One Enterprise can change worlds. Two will move universes. A 'Ghost in the Machine' oneshot.
Disclaimer: Do I own an Enterprise? Let me think, um, no. Well, I suppose I do, but they're about 6 inches long each…
Author's Note: More a narrative this time, and only a distant relation to the 'Enterprise' episode, which, by the way, I LOVED extremely. If you mention it in a signed review, be warned, you will get a rant in reply. (To fuss is human, to rant, divine! I'm not sure where that's from.) Do you have any idea how long it's been since I saw 'Yesterday's Enterprise'? Good, 'cause neither do I. Luckily I have found a website that has all to most of the TNG scripts. If you want it, ask, and I'll put it in a reply. Now you have two topics to put in a review. I provide a cheat sheet. Weird. Right, blabbing over…
ON WITH THE SHOW!
'Let's make sure history never forgets the name Enterprise.' –Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
It leaps from the fabric of space unexpectedly, and I startle. The hole roars at me from the void of space, and my entire skin is one eardrum. The noise-not-a-noise-per-se shakes me infinitesimally. It reaches for me and I stand away, not sure of its reach, not sure of its intent.
What is it what is it what is it and why is it here where it should not be? Where did it where did it come from and how is it here?
New question. What's wrong with my wrong with my thinking and why can I not hear myself or the stars?
Where are the where are the where are the stars and why do they echo echo echo so?
It reaches for me and I am afraid reaches for me and I am angry.
It reaches for me and I am helpless. Like her like her like her we are
What right does she have to be here, intruder, offender, unknown! The scars on my skin stretch as I growl and prepare for battle. Should she try to strike a battleship of the fleet, she will regret the day she dared venture into my space, my territory, my empire.
I almost regret that there will be no battle today, and as I stand down—partly—from full alert I am disgusted at the shape she is in. No battleship should ever allow herself to be so wounded. She has been kicked to hell and then tossed back out. Rejected for worthlessness, perhaps?
Who are you?
Underneath the bruises I see words in Standard English and I reset settings and scanners in disbelief. But how can she be here? I sheathe my claws and ask, a little calmer.
How did you get here? What are you doing here? You're dead!
She thought she was. She was fighting…fighting Romulans…and then she was not.
Coward! And liar!
She does not think it was her fault. She did not go anywhere. She begs me to believe her, to help her…and if not her, her people. Please, she implores me, her people!
One's people are a priority, always. Without our people, what purpose do we have?
So my people help hers. I send them to her, and she thanks me, not pleading for herself anymore.
She knows she's this close to scrap.
Our people are sticking together. Our people are helping each other. Our people…both our peoples… In war, a fleet of two.
What is she doing here, and what happens now? If we're attacked
when we're attacked
We will be attacked, and she is in no shape to fight. She did not even know that we were fighting anyone.
The humans in our crews have a word: 'duh'. I have never used this word. It is not recognized as a word. But it is oddly eloquent for a primal sound.
Nine hours. She has nine hours to put herself back together enough to get to Starbase 105.
If the Klingons get here first, they'll find only space dust.
She doesn't belong here, she can't be here, she can't stay. Her presence makes me nervous, as if space and time will dissolve, as if her hull and warp core are acids.
She doesn't want to go back. She will die.
If she stays…she can fight. She's one of us. We—we two, not we fleet—are sisters-sort-of, we…
We both listen to our people; they say the same things.
My people will die, she says. She does not want her people to die.
I don't want her to die either.
But this is wrong. We both know it. We just don't want to admit it. Our people have rubbed off on us, and we think along the same lines they do.
This is a good thing. A battleship…starship…damn, we can't remember…should never need to argue with her people, or else, we would be of no use to each other. We're a unit, a team.
We're so worried about her that we don't even notice the bird-of-prey in time. It strikes us unexpectedly, aiming for the weaker of us two, and she cannot take it, so I do. Trying, she's trying, she lashes out weakly and it doesn't do a thing.
The bird-of-prey circles, having not expected to find two ships. It heads for us again and I curse it and take the brunt of the attack again, and I was not ready for this one either.
We both go after it, but it's really one on one; what use is she!
This can't go on, this can't go on! My purpose is to fight, to protect my people, to fight this war, and I'm not doing it! For an instant I reject her completely.
And she knows and is furious.
She burns with rage and I burn with fire and I don't even get to destroy the raptor to make me feel better. It shrieks with triumph and cloaks itself.
I am frustrated and confused; she is scared to die and wounded; and we are both very angry, at each other, the universe, and most especially the anomaly.
Ah ha. The anomaly. We devote extra energy—not much of that—to hating the anomaly. We hover there and hate it while our people prepare to take her back.
She does not want to go back. She does not want to be…nothing.
A ship is something. A ship is an island in the void, often the only spark of light for light-years, and to be dark, to be cold and dead, is anathema. What she faces now is not just death, it is obliteration. To have failed…
I'm too busy hating the anomaly to hate her anymore.
I'm sorry, sister. I'm sorry. I don't want to die either, and…
What I'm about to say is hateful, and I know it.
…if you stay, I will.
She knows it's hateful too. She wants to live, so do I. But we cannot exist together. There cannot be two Enterprises in the same place.
So why does it hurt?
I cannot go with her; she cannot stay here. Am I to lose a sister I never should have known?
Technically not true. 'Sister' is not quite the best term. But there's not really an English word for it.
I remember her. She is in me. Sort of. A ghost of a dream of a memory, she lives in my soul; she is part of my soul. All of our family, our bloodline…I still can't find a word. Reincarnation? Still not quite right. We are different; different people, but we remember each other.
The name goes back a long way, and I hold memories from the dawn of the Federation, but it's not the same as seeing your sister-self (not a word per se, but it will do) before you about to die, with you having spoken and fought together. I remember every Enterprise that has ever gone out to the stars and has been lost to the darkness. Like a dream, she is there, but I cannot speak to her or know her like I do now.
I cannot touch my reflection, and I cannot see it all, because the mirror is within, and many-sided.
One thing I can remember is emotion. Love for their people, most vividly their captains, who are our soul mates and our masters. Joy; joy in battle, in new sights (but not the sights themselves), in speed and the stars.
Fear (but rarely specifically why). And pain; I remember the fire that eats us; so different from the fire (the same fire, in truth) that makes us the life in and the children of the darkness as much as of our people
and I remember that same darkness, and I do not want to lose my sister-self to that!
But I will not know, will I?
She thinks that is a terrible excuse.
So do I.
I do not want to think about this anymore. Does this make me the coward I called her?
There is no place for cowards in war, and war it is as three K'vort battlecruisers find us, closing in for the kill. She has to go. She must go. She will.
So I turn my back on my sister-self and pray to the nameless gods of sentient starships as she limps toward the rift and twenty-two years ago. And I'm the one left in my own time and place, guarding her back as she heads for her doom.
The K'vort cruisers and their weapons are nothing against losing her. I can feel her flying without turning to look (for what does a starship need with turning around to look, after all) even as I try to hold back three—three!—ships at once.
They don't even try to hide; they have come to kill and they are not afraid to show it. My luck
Luck? Three K'vort and I still use 'luck'?
is with me and with her, and they focus all their fire on me as I guard her back.
The fire burns me, and I know I live. As long as I can feel the flames, I do not belong to the emptiness.
She is going and I am dying (and it burns, sister, and the void burns colder) and the rift reaches to consume her and me and the fire and the stars
settle and resolve themselves into themselves. Before me, the rift roils and shakes, spitting energy.
I stare directly at it and I am not afraid. The rift, impossible fire (the flames) in airless space, howls without a voice as I look more closely, curious as it dies (for a purpose sister) away into only darkness. A last point of light gleams deep within, at the very core (though it has none) like a new star in the rift's final moments
and I see myself-not-myself and I remember what I never knew.
Afterword: (sigh) Now I feel better. If I go into psychology, I will develop something called 'Trek therapy': a healthy dose of Star Trek to improve one's mood. (Imagine! 'Watch two episodes and call me in the morning'!) I independently decided Friday afternoon on the bus that I dislike 89 percent of the people at my school in some way, shape, or form; that of those, 35 percent are total jerks; and that Catholic school students are the most insensitive creatures on Planet Earth. I like my school. I just don't like most of the students there. Le'letha dislikes most teenagers (she is one) that she knows, actually. But Star Trek saves the day. Who cares about jerks when you have the Enterprise? (…any of them.)
Acknowledgements: Title is from the Catholic Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:12. I spent ten minutes of a Theology class looking for it. Many thanks to Jerry Unipeg for the brilliant idea of having the Enterprise be aware of her other selves. I may expand that concept in another 'Ghost in the Machine'…so look out for another sometime.