Disclaimer: Andromeda belongs to Tribune Entertainment and Fireworks Productions as do all of the characters who appear here or are mentioned. The mirror-universe are a varation of my own. Note: Part 3 of the story begun in Looking for Perfection in an Imperfect Universe . Prompt #58 graveyard

Standing on the Edge of Forever. by Karen

The plan to rid themselves of well: "their other selves" to their own universe would have gone much smoother had it not been the for the unfortunate miscalculation along the way.

With the assistance of the Perseid physicist, whom Harper had brought on board to help extract the information module that had literally caused an information overload in his brain; they had at last managed to speed up that time table. Otherwise, the duration of the time might well have equaled or even exceeded the time spent by Captain Dylan Hunt trapped in an event horizon of another black hole.

It was not nearly as important as improving that time to cover the distance to the singularity, thought Dylan Hunt as stood by the pilot s chair and tapped his fingers on the armrest, as it was to be rid of the doppelgangers.

As much of her concentration had been given over to safely navigating through slipstream at the speed and course previously set during the planning stages, Beka had thus far managed to tune out most if not all of her captain s pacing and general meandering in and around the Command Deck.

As a boy I had always imagined what it would be like to meet another version of myself. Would I be younger, older, taller, shorter? I just never dreamed that it would come true. He sighed and suddenly ceased his tapping as the sudden thought struck him with all the force of as sucker punch to the gut and when he recovered he muttered under his breath to no one in particular: In this galaxy; nothing can be said for certain.

The goatee was starting to appeal to me, in an oh look at me, I m evil sort of way, Seamus Harper announced as he strode in on the heels of Dylan s realization.

Dylan nodded and Beka replied. ETA to the singularity EFL 10289 in less than five hours. She shrugged and angled her head around in an attempt to loosen up he neck and back muscles that had stiffened up in the last several hours before she added. "I wouldn't mind so much that they showed up, I mean, I think my Uncle Sid once told me stories about doppelgangers but, the fact that they tried to eliminate all of us in order to take over the ship; well, I don t know about the lot of you; but that really grinds my gears."

"You said it, sister!" Harper replied as he jumped up and down with a fist pumping in the air.

"Mr. Harper, I share you ah, enthusiasm and corroboration of Captain s Valentine s sentiments, but ah, are they confined to quarters?"

"Yeah, boss, replied in a more subdued tone of voice. But Tyr seems to think that it would be better to lock up in the brig. Do we even have a brig. A ship this size should have a brig."

"I tend to agree, but for now let s leave well enough alone, " replied Dylan.

*
The singularity designated on the local star charts of the time appeared to be nothing more than a hundreds of kilometers wide inverted funnel. Swirling around it but not close enough to become swallowed up inside of its gravity well were several smaller cloudy nebulae picked out against the backdrop of velvety black space.

The view was hampered only slightly by the screen resolution and once that had been magnified by a factor of eight, the ship s long range sensors began to pick up ion trails and other debris.

"The ship's graveyard. I had heard legends of it, " Tyr said quietly, I had just never imagined that it actually existed.

"Yeah, you and me both, big guy," Harper said. Wow. He whistled and then folded his arms over his chest. "I do't know about the rest of you, but as cool as this is, I really don t want to see another ship s graveyard or even another event horizon again."

Tyr had been assigned duty to escort the mirror universe crew to command deck. If anyone was surprised that the doppelgangers had backed down so readily after having been stymied in their attempt to infiltrate and take over the ship and eliminate the original crew; none of them by unspoken assent would let it show; but through the subtle signals of body language and posture one could tell that there was an underlying tension for the entire duration of the preparations. In the back of his mind Harper thought, You can tell my the smiles and the looks in their eyes, they re all thinking, this is going down way too easily.

"We're here. Now what? How to get them to go back in there?" Beka asked.

"How did they get here in the first place?" asked Trance who had left her plants and joined the others on the command deck.

Mirror-Harper sneered at her and let out a high-pitched whistle. "I dunno. Why don t we try clicking our boot heels together three times while chanting in chorus: There s no place like home. There s no place like home."

"Shut up, Harper!" Mirror-Beka shouted and then darted laterally as a sudden thought occurred to he; much like her counterpart in the prime universe this Beka was very much capable of thinking on her feet, planning and executing a plan on the spot; and flying by the seat of her pants, to borrow a time-honored cliche .

She grabbed Trance by the lapel of her top and hauled over. "I've got a better idea. Why don t we send her in first, just to see if the matter transference works. Then we ll all go back like good little troopers."

"Good little troopers, Gah, " Mirror- Rev spat, leaving drops of spittle on the metal floor of the deck. "How that is the one thing I hated the most about this goody-two shoes version. To no longer have to see my counterpart toeing the line, well, all I can say. I certainly will not miss that."

A shimmer of air and the whirring hum of the ship s systems momentarily interrupted the conversation as the ship s holographic version solidified. "I have completed calculating the odds and the last computer module and have concluded that it would be possible to modify a shuttle craft for a one-way trip into the black hole."

"How do we know that once we're away from the ship," Mirror-Beka asked, "that you won t simply abandon us to get smashed to a zillion pieces inside of...". she paused and pointed to the image displayed on the view screen, "that?"

"You have my word of honor, " Dylan replied.

Mirror-Dylan Hunt stroked his goatee and said. "That might be acceptable."

Mirror-Tyr Anazasi added: " I had given you credit for having more chutzpah than this, it was the only reason I went along with your plan to infiltrate an alternate universe."

"I know what I m doing, " the other man snapped.

"Tell me something, " Dylan Hunt interrupted, Truth to tell, I still puzzled by one thing.

"And that would be?" his duplicate asked, for once since his arrival he actually stopped fussing with his facial hair.

"How bad are things in your universe? " Dylan shook his head to clear it of the inevitable cobwebs after all, theoretical quantum physics had been considered something of an esoteric science and at a certain point in his days the Commonwealth Academy for command level officers you could either take it as an elective or not at all. For someone who had beat the odds, well, such things like time travel and the like; well, they just gave him a massive headache.

B"ad enough, " the duplicate version of Beka muttered under her breath.

"Give me something to work with here, people, " Dylan exclaimed as he reached up over his head to finger comb through the strands of his sandy blond hair. Have the Magog taken over, the Netizcheans? He darted a cautious and curious glance at the one member of his crew who might have either something to add to that or a stake in what his own double might say; but if he was hoping for something more substantial that a dour glower and stoic shrug; he would be disappointed on both fronts.

'"Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world/The Center Cannot Hold, Things Fall Apart." I am certain, Captain, that you are familiar with the quote?"Mirror-Tyr said, stepping forward out of the group and gently but forcibly releasing Trance out o the grip of mirror-Beka s grasp.

"I am, "replied Dylan, nodding in sudden understanding.

You okay, Trance? asked Harper as he went over to check on her.

"I am fine. Thank you, "she replied.

*
It took a lot more tinkering and modifying than anyone had anticipated, but at last the shuttle craft was ready. In a rare show of camaraderie both the original Seamus Harper and his Mirror-Universe counterpart had argued for sending in a test probe into the event horizon before risking an all-or nothing gamble.

*
A day later the shuttlecraft emerged from the Andromeda Ascendant in an arcing parabolic curve leaving a trail of fire and light in its wake.

With it's modified shielding and engines protecting it from the first of the massive graviton pressure that would have otherwise began to tear it apart. Its image on the screen growing smaller and smaller as it got farther away from their position far enough away to keep tabs on the craft and still avoid getting caught up in the same spatial forces that were even now affecting the Mirror Universe crew.

*
Conclusion

6 hours later

"We could have just killed them, " remarked Tyr as the blip of the shuttle craft and the intruders from the Mirror Universe vanished from view. It would have been much more efficient

"Or they could have just killed us, Tyr, " Beka remarked, and I supposed from their point of view that would have been much more efficient also. I want to get outta of here in the worst way. With your permission, Captain, she turned her head to regard Dylan Hunt.

"Lay in course for anywhere slipstream will take us as long as it is far away from here, " he replied.

"You got it! " Beka replied and returned her attention to the piloting the ship.

Dylan considered and turning to Beka and the others he answered Tyr's question as best he could. I don t think it was ever that simple. If these people were really our selves from an alternate dimension; simply killing them, would be like killing off a part of ourselves.

"Come on!" Harper exclaimed. "Ya gotta be kidding me!"

Trance nodded but did not venture an opinion even when Harper gave her a beseeching look she just smiled.