Disclaimer: Space Cases and all related characters belong to CISNAR productions and Nickelodeon, as do all events, concepts etc. They are not mine, nor is any money made off of this. You know the drill. Again, this would pick within a short interval after the previous story in the series, "Something Blue, Something Borrowed".



Author's Note: This was inspired by the 2nd season episode "Both Sides Now and Godddard's offhand comment to Bova about the time he had to chase down several 'evil' versions of himself. The crew of the Aqulia Eagle, Rory Goddard, Cormac and Antonia are my creations. Antonia appeared in "King of Wishful Thinking" #5 in the series).



"Best Laid Plans" by Karen





The temperature on this barren rock of a planet averaged minus 10 degrees below zero on a good day. Snow-blind and fingers numb while applying the laser drill onto an ice-chunk wedged into the side of the cliff, Cormac wished for once he hadn't eagerly volunteered for to the first to explore this region. He dropped the drill to the ground, and stared at it listlessly. The smooth silver metal blended quite nicely with the white powder that had accumulated into drifts high enough to hit level with his shins and find its way into his insulated gray boots. He stamped his feet and felt inclined to take them off and shake them out. Deciding that it was not worth the effort, Cormac settled for wiggling his toes to try and get feeling back into them from standing in the cold for so long. He bent down to pick up the drill again after a moment, and heaved a sigh, watching how his breath formed a cloud of steam about level with his nose. Just then he slipped on the ledge he was standing on and went down on one knee; being Andromedan definitely had its advantages. He had the ability to regain his balance very easily, but it did knock the parka hood off so he could feel the brittle winter sunlight on his tangled reddish blond hair. Holding the drill in one hand, Cormac glanced up at the sky.



The sun had just reached its meridian and it sailed along as if it hadn't a care in the world. Unfortunately, Cormac didn't share the sun's outlook on his current situation.

He was having serious doubts about finding anything worthwhile on this planet, even though Commander Rory Goddard insisted there was. One did not argue with the Commander, unless you wanted demerits and to spend time in the brig.



"Hey!" Have you found anything yet?"



Commander Rory Goddard trudged up the side of a steep hill approximately 200 yards away from him. He was standing almost on the edge, on the verge of toppling over and falling down, way down with the wind blowing one in all different directions, until one eventually plummeted to a rocky ravine at the bottom. The man seemingly did not have any sense of self- preservation. Not that there were any signs of sentient life during their preliminary scan of the planet, except for the flora and fauna kind.



"Can you hear me?" The Earther continued to shout over the howling wind.



"Of course I can hear you," Cormac muttered, resisting the urge to cover his sensitive Andromedan ears. Knowing the man's hearing was nowhere near as acute as his own, Cormac tapped his communicator and spoke into the audio pickup. "I can hear you, Sir. As of yet, I have not found anything. Will there be anything else?"



"No! Just keep looking! I've got one of those feelings that we'll find something soon!

Really good feeling!" Rory shouted. "Keep me posted!" Then he back-pedaled down the hillside and disappeared back in whatever direction he had come from.



At that instant Cormac heard another person approaching, their soft footsteps made a soft whoosh and crunch across the snow field, and then a scrape and scrape, as whoever it was climbed the naturally-occurring nine steps that led up to the ledge.

He turned around and faced the woman who served as the Aquila Eagle's engineer and science officer, Antonia. She had apparently discovered an innovative way of making quicker progress across the snow-bound landscape easier. She had taken wood from one of the trees, shaved and planed them into narrow slats and bound them together by metal strips and then strapped them to her feet. This allowed her to glide across snow instead of plowing through like the rest of them. She apparently used wooden poles to maintain her balance and control her direction. One good thing about being Andromedan, was they never got lost and were able to maintain their balance in just about any situation, including an ion storm barrage. As much time as he'd spent among Earthers, there would always be some things that would remain a mystery.



"How did you manage to, uh, glide across the snow-field like that?" Cormac asked.

It looked like fun.



"With these," Antonia replied and then bent over until it looked she was touching her toes. "They're called skis. Perfect for a climate like this. I just hope the temperature doesn't drop anymore than it already has. At least we've got good powder going."



"Antonia?" he began, but she placed a thermal-sealed gloved hand over his mouth then gently steered him down off his perch on the rock ledge.



"What about the Commander?" Cormac asked, curious in spite of himself.



"Rory should catch up with us in no time. I've had no blasted luck finding anything on this rock. How about you?" Antonia asked, cocking her head to one side as if thinking something through. She laughed. "Maybe we should look somewhere else."



"Agreed, but where?" Cormac replied



"Don't say anything, just come with me. I've got something that I want to show you," she said.



Cormac watched as she gathered herself into a tight coil and jumped off the ledge back onto level ground, where she landed gracefully amid a cold spray of white powder. Cormac followed her, watching with interest as her skis made furrows in the thick snow-covered ground leaving ruts for him to step into. Her skis made two parallel rows, while his gray boots left deep impressions in the snow.



After several minutes of silent travel, Antonia stopped and turned around.

"You know what?" she began, her black hair coming loose from the tight braid she wore it in, and the silver pins tangled up in the hood of her parka.



"What?" Cormac automatically asked.



"I've got a better idea, radio Ubi and have him lock onto Rory's coordinates and then have him meet us at the place I'm taking you to," she said.



"I thought you said he was going to meet us there anyway," Cormac said. "Exactly what coordinates should I give him?"



Now that they had stopped moving, he realized just how cold the climate here really was.



"I did. I just thought it might speed things up," Antonia said. "You'll have to use the communicator device, unless this cold weather is jamming the signal. I'd shout, but not everyone here is blessed with your hearing, " she smiled, and tapped her ears with one hand. She then dropped her ski poles and with the toe of her boot nudged them out of the way.



"Makes sense," Cormac replied as he reached brushed away a lock of strawberry blond hair away from his eyes, and smiled at her. He rummaged around in the pockets of his parka for a bit, and then when his hand latched onto the communicator, he brought it out and waved it around, testing for static. "Here goes nothing," he muttered. And flipped the toggle to activate the device, there was some white noise, but not too bad. He held the device up and began to speak into it.

"Ubi, come in? Can you hear me?" Cormac said.

There was a crackling noise and then a snarl as the cat-like telemorph picked up on the other end of the line. "Yeah, what's up?" he snarled, but that was okay since he generally had a volatile personality anyway.

"Do you have a fix on the Commander's present position?" Cormac asked.

"Yes, he's not that far from where you are, kiddo," Ubi said.

"Well, we're in transit right now, and we should be there any moment," Cormac said, glancing at Antonia, who nodded in confirmation.

"Well, best guess, I would say about maybe, uh, 10 minutes, Cormac added. "Well, Antonia wants you get a fix on the Commander's position and then teleport both of you to where'll be waiting for you," Cormac added, irked at being treated like a kid, even though he was the youngest member of the Aquila Eagle's crew. He knew Earthers had families. He'd spent a good deal of time going over the records in the database about how relationships worked in other cultures, but this was going a bit far.

Having received confirmation that Ubi received the message and transmitted the coordinates of the Commander's present position, they kept moving, until they came to a plain that sloped downwards. The ledge was covered sparse brush and with nothing to see for miles around. There was a deep crevice in the planet's stony skin covered with a thin layer of ice.



Antonia bent and untied the wooden slats that bound the wood to her boots then set them aside. "Note to self, the next time we land on snow-bound planet, I'll teach how to do this. Fair enough?" she smiled at him.



"How did you know?" Cormac asked, blushing.



"It was fairly obvious by the way you were staring at my feet during the entire trek," Antonia replied, a sparkle in her eyes, as she gave him a quick look that took in everything. "Hmm, we'll need longer poles and bigger ski boots."



"Can I hold you to that promise," Cormac laughed,



"I think so, you'll just have to remind me," Antonia replied. "Speaking of which, did the message to Ubi go through?"



"It did," Cormac replied.



***

Later, Ubi found the Commander buried knee-deep in a snowdrift. Ubi had had to dig him out, and then transport them both to the coordinates that Antonia relayed.



"I assume you've worked out how we go about getting down there?"" Rory shivered in the cold and sneezed, "Head cold," he muttered.



"Bless you," Antonia said after the seventh consecutive sneeze in a row.



Rory glared at her, and kept turning over various means of getting to the bottom short of letting the ledge crumble underneath them and sliding down en masse.



"Well, I had thought about using the grappling hook and rappel down," Antonia said.



"I've got a rope in my backpack," Cormac said.



"Good idea," Rory replied, stretching out his hand to Cormac for the rope in his backpack. As soon as he had it in hand, Rory began untangling it, and tied it securely around a frozen jut of rock that thrust up from the top of the ravine. That done, he pounded it with his fist, and then ordered everyone to climb done one at a time, indicating that he would go last.



"Rory!" Antonia shouted as he dropped to his knees right on the ledge and peer downward into the mouth of the crevice. She stretched out her arms and made an instinctive lunge to pull him back, but was checked at the last second, by Rory himself, who rocked back on his heels and stood up in one smooth motion without once losing his balance. Cormac was rather impressed with the Earther's dexterity. After all this time, he should know that these were rather unusual people folks he'd joined.



"Somebody better explain why we're here freezing our bums off," Ubi growled, staring with doubt written all over his feral features. Ubi looked at everyone else. Not receiving a reply he simply jumped down to land at the bottom with a thump and a loud hissing fit.



"I'll go next," Antonia said, as she swung down the rope, trying to counter for the wind that bounced her around like a kite. She kept climbing down, as he was just about to fall the remaining distance, Ubi reached out and caught he before she fell all the way.



Cormac and Rory, still looking down from above exchanged glances, with a look in b in the older man's eyes warning him not to laugh .If they did at the least it would both of them a smack in the head. Still, they both shook, not from the cold but from trying to hold in their laughter. Recovering their composure after a few minutes, they both climbed down the rope.



"We need light, it's dark down here," Antonia said. "Did anyone think to bring the laser-torches?"



"Here," Rory said, fishing around in his pack, hitting the power button and then handed it to her. She nodded and waved the torch around in a 360" degree semi-circle trying to get as much in the light's sphere to make out the details of where they were.



They discovered that there were furrows almost like natural corridors down here, as if someone or something had made them. The walls were smooth and regular. There was no way of knowing exactly how long these corridors had been there.



As they walked, they stumbled across a hexagonal box with steel bands holding it closed. The box itself was frozen solid and encase in ice five feet thick. The most remarkable thing about the entire discovery was the fact that while everything in and around the box was so cold to the touch that it penetrated even their thermal insulated arctic suits, the box was warm. The temperature down here began to get steadily warmer, and the light cast by their laser torch was drowned out by a purple glow.



"What's causing that?" Cormac asked.



"Your guess is as good as mine," Rory shrugged.



"Can we open the box?" Cormac asked.



"It's frozen solid," Ubi snarled.



"And me without my prybar?" Rory muttered



Cormac moved forward, where he knelt down next to Antonia, trying to get a good grip on the silver bars that sealed the box closed. He wrapped his hands around them, and tried to get good leverage. He exerted his Andromedan strength and they came apart in his hands. Surprisingly, the silver bands crumpled once they were no longer in contact with the box and crumbled into hundreds of sparkling silver dust. It coated his gloves. He slid aside the lid and peered in. Inside where three spheres each around the size of Andromedan 'glorn' ball, or about 10 inches in diameter. The glowed purple in the subdued half-light.



"Do you have any idea what we've stumbled across here?" Antonia whispered, kneeling down near the slab on which the box rested, peering in fascination at the three glowing spheres nestled inside the box. There was something about their glow that was very soothing, but also hypnotic. She kept swaying back and forth, while supporting her head in one hand.



"Then if no one else wants to do it" Antonia said, "I'll tell you, I think we've discovered the legendary lost Orbs of Tau Sigma. They're supposed to be a clue to how and why the ancient Lumarians disappeared."



"The same bird-like alien race that built that stupid ship my evil twin Seth Gooddard is in command of?" Rory asked.



"If you're referring to the Christa," Antonia nodded, "then yes, the very same."



"You've been reading too many archaeology journals on the SpaceNet," Ubi muttered.



"Whoa," Cormac whispered.



"Let's take what we found and get out of here," Rory said. "Cormac carry the box, but leave the orbs inside for the time being. Ubi get us back to the ship."



***

"About time you got back here," Reaver said, by way of greeting. "Do you people have any idea just how many card games of "War" you can play with an telemorph?"



"No, but I know you were just about to tell us," Cormac said. "You'll never guess what we found!" he gasped, nearly dropping the box in the process.



"Don't drop them, kid," Ubi muttered. "That's all we need, a clumsy Andromedan."



"Shut up, Ubi," Rory snapped, "That's an order." Ubi did as he was told.



"Let's build IT!" Rory shouted, pumping his fist on the armrest of his command chair on the bridge.



"Can it be done?" Reaver asked, arching an eyebrow.



"Yes. Maybe," Antonia muttered, turning her attention back to the computer console in front of her, and went back to trying decipher the encryption codes. A few moments later, she looked up, "It's all right here, the tech specs, the tools, just about everything you could need for building an exact duplicate of the Christa, except…"



"Except what?" Cormac asked, his interest up. "The Christa?"



"Yeah, it's the only known Lumarian ship in known space. The fact that Rory's evil twin has out-smarted him time and again, is just rubbing salt in old wounds," Reaver grinned.



"To answer your previous question, Cormac, our ship's diagnostic systems aren't exactly cutting edge," Antonia replied. "I'll need Reaver. There are some equations and technical specs in these blueprints that I'll need his input and knowledge of physics to sort through all of this."



"I'll help, but on one condition," Reaver said. "I get a percentage of the profits that we make off of this."



"Figures," Rory nodded. "All right, agreed."



"The ancient Lumarian script that these blueprints are written in, will tax the limits of

Our systems, not to mention the universal translator," Antonia said.



"Not to mention our the limits of our lovely engineer?" Reaver sneered.



"Oh, shut up," Antonia muttered. "Unless, you have something useful to add."



"I don't feel in the least inclined to shut up," Reaver said. "And as a matter of fact, I do have something useful to add. "Do any of you have know what we've got our hands on here?"



"Blueprints," Cormac said.



"Oh for the love of a name! Yes, of course blueprints. We're not talking your average blueprints. I took the liberty of doing some carbon dating while I was waiting for the lot of you to stash your cold-weather gear and get settled in again."



"One thing I don't understand, "Cormac began, "Why did they just abandon these orbs on some ice planet if they were that valuable?"



"Maybe we're about to find out." Rory replied.



"If we're really going to go through with this, it will require a quick stopover at the UPP Utopia Planita, it's the only readily available source of the protomix fuel in the United Populated Planets," Reaver said.



"Hmm, all the way into the Sol system, that might take a long time with the resources we've got right now," Rory said.



"The Christa? Evil twin?" Cormac wondered.



"Oh, that's right, you don't know about that long-standing grudge. Several years back, before we assembled this crew, our Rory was one of several versions of a Seth Goddard," Antonia began, and stood up to get the kinks out of her back from being in one place too long.



"Let's just say that the chase to bring them all into the net of justice nearly began an interstellar war," Reaver added.



"The jury's still out on exactly which one was the real 'twin." Antonia shrugged and went back to her computer console.



"Does HE even know that you escaped his net in the past?" Reaver asked, arching a golden brown eyebrow, with a look in his dark eyes that assumed both men know who the specific HE they had in mind.



"No. And if it's all the same to you, I'd rather keep it that way for little while longer."

Rory settled back in the command chair on the Eagle's bridge and then brought both hands to about the level of his chest with his fingers intertwined into the shape of a cat's cradle.



"We all have reason to resent Commander Seth Goddard, some more so than others," Reaver replied. "Tell me something, Rory, something I've always wondered since the day I joined up with this crew of misfits, after being a solo act for so long. Why keep the same surname as your 'good' twin?"



"You know, I'm really not sure. It might be an 'evil twin' thing. You wouldn't understand." Rory smiled what could be considered an 'evil' grin. More accurately, it was more like a smirk, just a vague thinning of his lips.



"Does Antonia still want revenge of Seth for leaving her behind all those years ago?" Reaver asked.



"That's over. You know what happened back on the Christa," Rory muttered.



"Okay, since you're going to be that way and don't give me that look in your eyes that says "Who me?" because we both know that it doesn't mean a thing. Do you still want revenge?" Reaver asked.



"Well, once this 'brother ship's is constructed and ready to go, we'll have something to compete with my 'good twin' on his own level," Rory said.



"And just how will we go about finding them?" Reaver asked. "Hope you know what you're doing," he muttered under his breath.



"That shouldn't be too difficult," Rory smiled, again. "I know exactly where they are."

Rory left the bridge; the metallic doors slid shut behind with a soft whoosh.



Right," Reaver muttered under his breath. "We'll keep you posted, and let you know when we've reached Utopia Planita."



Antonia shook her head, "Don't worry about it, Reaver. Sometimes trying to reason with him is about as useful as kicking a malfunctioning hyperdrive," she finished and began kicking the machinery.



***





The facility of Utopia Planita was a made up of a geo-synchronous docking facility in orbit over the dusty-red planet, lit up from the remote rays of the sun like a day-glow lamp. From his ready room, Rory Goddard gave the duty officer, his name, and the Aquila Eagle's registration and requested permission to land on one of the free docking bays. "Get in, get out, what could be simpler?"



"Right out from under the noses of the Stardogs?" Cormacr asked, starting to have bad feelings about this plan.



"You worry too much, kid," Ubi growled.



"Split up. Try not to be too obvious about it. You all should have assigned items on your 'shopping list'. Be on the lookout for protomix canisters and antimatter gelpack," Antonia said.



"You heard the lady," Reaver grinned.

"I suggest we 'liberate' a ship that's already in dry-dock but hasn't gone on the bollards yet," Reaver said," which means we won't necessarily have to start from scratch."



"Just like coming home." Rory sighed. "You know, here's something for you to ponder while you're outfitting the new ship. "Which one?"



"What?" Reaver asked, scratching the stubble of beard that curved over his thin lips



"Of the all the evil twin versions of ourselves that were running around that back corner of the universe before the outbreak of the war between the UPP and the Spung

Empire, which one of us was the real Seth Goddard?"









Several months later



Harlan and Radu were in the observation lounge playing Minbar chess, while Catalina worked on her Compupad. Bova and Rosie were helping each with a classroom assignment. A mere instant later, as Harlan held his black castle above the square he was about to move; a ship appeared outside the bay window that looked out on the moving star field. Ships appeared rather frequently, but this one was a ship none of them had ever expected to see again. It looked just like the Christa.



"Uh, Radu. Do you see what I see?" Harlan muttered, rubbing sleep grit out of his eyes, and tapped Radu on the shoulder, who stood up and moved over to peer out the large bay window fronting the few out into the moving star field out the Star Academy. The solar-sails that made up the bird-like ship's wings reflected the distant rays of the sun and made it blaze like a star. The thrusters in the rear of the ship kept it perfectly motionless. Radu blinked and rubbed his eyes, he was tired, but not tired enough to think his eyes were playing tricks on him. In the background he could hear Harlan moving around, trying to get the attention of the others.



"Yes, I see it, but I don't believe it," Radu replied.



"What are you looking at?" Catalina asked, coming over to join them at the window, bringing Rosie along with her. "Something's not quite right about that ship." Rosie said under her breath and only Radu heard her.



"What do you mean, Rosie?" Radu asked beginning to sense whatever negative vibe Rosie felt about the ship that looked enough like the Christa at first and even second glance, but there were some things about it that were faintly off, like a itch that you just couldn't reach.



"Like it's not supposed to be there," Harlan remarked.

"What's not supposed to be there," Bova yawned, and sat up from his prone position on the sofa, then looked up, "Oh brother,"



"No, it's more than that. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but it's as if someone held the ship up to a cracked mirror and the reflection was all distorted," Rosie said.



"The Christa is still docked in the hanger the last time I checked, " Radu said.



"Do you think Thelma could tell us?" Bova asked. "I hope you're not going to insist that we explore this one, Harlan. Once in a lifetime, is more than enough for me."



"Don't look at me that way," Harlan shrugged, "How was I supposed to know that the Christa would bond with us and take us halfway across the galaxy once we boarded her?"



"I still can't figure why it would have picked us, or one no one else could see her," Rosie said. "If this is an imposter, or an intruder with hostile attentions, then why us again?"



"Why isn't setting off every alarm in the place?" Bova finished.



"Maybe because the ship has a stealth cloaking device," Harlan whispered. "And all this time we never knew about it?"



"I wonder why Thelma never mentioned anything about the Christa having a cloaking device," Catalina asked.



"It's probably because we never asked," Rosie said.



Just then Commander Seth Goddard's voice came over the intercom, their names were rattled off one by one and they were ordered to report to the hanger deck.



"Something's up, and I'll bet you anything, it has something to do with that ship out there," Harlan said.



"We'd better hurry, " Catalina said, "He sounds mad, as they made a mad rush for the door and hurried over to the hanger deck.



****

Meanwhile



"And here I was hoping to catch you unaware, still trapped light-years from home," Rory stated, folding his arms across his chest.



"Which explains the necessity of having a Plan B," Reaver grinned, his hair more gray than ash blond now, and with more lines is in long-jawed haggard face than Seth Goddard remembered from their previous contacts.



"Seth?" T.J. Goddard-Davenport began approaching him to hug him, her arms outstretched. "I'm not your precious, Seth," Rory said under his breath, making it sound rather menacing, shoving her aside.



"I don't understand," TJ whispered, hurt and confused, as the real Goddard caught her before she fell to the floor.



"No. I don't suppose you would," Rory replied, distracted by the arrival of the cadets.



"I'm not sure I do either," Seth whispered, steadying her and then maintaining eye contact for as long as he possibly could with his mirror image.



"Do I even want to know how you managed to create an exact duplicate of the Christa," TJ asked.



"We really don't have the time to go into the technical details," Antonia said.



"You know I can't take this anymore, if you're going to make a move, do it now and stop pussy-footing around it," Reaver growled.



"Speaks the expert," Rory sneered. "Judging by your less than stellar track record, you really don't understand how this revenge thing works, to quote a famous saying-revenge is a dish best served cold."



"That's it, I'm outta here," Reaver replied, her turned to Ubi, "Get us outta here," he whispered under his breath. "I want no part of his half- baked revenge business anymore."



"You got it, boss," Ubi replied, wrapping his hand around the space- pirate's forearm and they both vanished.



"Good riddance," TJ said. "Two down."



"Cowards," Rory smirked.



"Antonia," Seth muttered, "I never expected to see you again."



"Looks like that ship has sailed," Antonia replied. "You don't know what you were passing up, Seth, dear." Antonia smiled again, and it was not a pleasant one. "It could have been magic. And by the look in your eyes, if you're wondering if I still want to get even with you after our last tussle, the answer is no. I've squared myself with you. This is between you, and well, YOU, if you get my drift."



"Oh, that makes me feel so much better, "Goddard muttered under his breath, wondering not for the first time why these things kept on happening to him.



"At the risk of sounding nostalgic," Rory said, "This universe just isn't big enough for the both of us. And between you and me, I think I'm the better model." Gesturing to Antonia with his free hand, "Antonia, dear, knife," as she bent down and removed a bone-handled knife from a hidden pocket in knee-high black boots. "I think it's time we remedied that situation."



"Not going to happen," Seth replied, lunging forward and levering the knife out of the other man's hand. "This is becoming a habit," he muttered, dodging a sweeping blow aimed at his head.



"This isn't going to work. I am you, remember. I know you, I know how you think and fight," Rory said landing an uppercut blow to the chin and on the follow through he managed to regain possession of the knife and thrust it home into Seth's arm, but it got tangled up in the fabric of his uniform.



Seth Goddard winced in pain as the knife tip bit into his skin, and took advantage of a momentary slip in the other man's guard to take the knife back and stuff into his pocket. An instant later, he skidded forward and swung his arm back to land a solid left hook on his twin's jaw.



Rory rocked back on his heels and rubbed his throbbing jaw in his hand, grudging admiration in his dark eyes. He had to admit to himself; that his 'good' twin was not as much as a pushover as he'd thought. As he was about to return the favor, Antonia placed herself in between the two men. "Antonia, dear, I love you, but don't get mixed up in this."



"Stop it!" Antonia. "Reaver's right. Why didn't I see it before? You are an one obsessed maniac, and I will not allow this madness to continue, before you both kill yourselves," she shouted, rushing forward and held her outspread arms "We surrender, and you know what's good for you, give it up. So help me, " tears glimmered in her violet-hued eyes, "I'll kill you myself."



"Antonia?" Rory gulped, trying to wrench her arm from its vise-like grip. "What do you think you're doing?"



"You never cared about anyone except yourself," Antonia whispered, using a karate move to hurl Rory to the floor where he skidded along the metal deck plates and stopped when he banged into the wall.





***



Later



"I thought, I mean that Andromedans couldn't be part of the UPP or the Stardogs,"



"I'm the first," Radu replied. "Why did you," he trailed off.



"Rat out on my crew-mates," Cormac sighed. "I didn't know about the history between our Commander's and yours, although they sketched out the basics of their grudge." In the back of his mind, he knew that he owed Rory and Antonia his life and the chance to explore space and learn to be an individual. There were times when he wondered if he'd given up something just as valuable by leaving the Andromedan home world. Not fitting in, questioning the tenets of Andromedan group society had forced Cormac to leave and go out into space and encounter other species that encouraged individuality. There were times when he wondered if he was the only Andromedan who ever felt that way, or if there were others out there who sometimes felt the same way. He shrugged, and decided that it didn't matter at this point, and he couldn't really change what had happened in the past



"What's going to happen now?" Catalina asked.



"No one even bothers to ask my opinion, "Bova added. "You know I could have warned you that something like this was bound to happen." "Remember, about a year ago mentioned something about chasing down several evil versions of himself."



"Yeah, but he said he caught all of them," Radu said.



"He missed Rory," Cormac said.



"There's one thing I don't understand," Catalina said.



"One thing," Harlan said.



"Shut up, Harlan," Catalina snapped, "How were these evil twins created, by a biological process or some sort of anomaly?"



"I guess we'll never know, "Radu replied.



"I don't want to go to prison, "Cormac said to Commander Goddard.



"I can appreciate where you're coming from, son, but if you're in some pretty hot water here." Seth Goddard said.



"If he testifies in court," TJ trailed off.



"I'll have to think about it, but you're willingness to come forward and testify, will be a point in your favor," Seth replied.



"You have my second on that," TJ added, and helped the boy to his feet.



"We'll see, right now, just have security transport these two down to the brig, " Seth stared down at his mirror image. "You know until that incident out in Palladium sector of space, hunting down all my evil twins," he shook his head.

"I always wondered if there were perfect twins of people, complete strangers who looked exactly like. I always imagined what I would do if met my twin.



"Now you have," Rory grinned, defiant until the end.



"I don't like what I've seen," Seth grimaced, waiting until the security team arrived and they slapped the restraints on Antonia, Rory and Cormac



"We'll always have Palladium, Seth," Antonia tossed over her shoulder and blew him a kiss, as they were escorted away.



"I can't stand that infuriating woman," TJ muttered under her breath.



"You know what, neither could I,'" Seth smiled. "It's late. I don't know about everyone else, but I'm exhausted. You're dismissed, head back to your quarters."



"Until we get this sorted out, try to keep what you to yourselves for the time being. I'll let keep you posted if and when we're ready for the hearing," Seth added.



"Yes, Sir," the cadets responded, trooping out and heading for their quarters as ordered.



Conclusion



"You realize that we're going to have to file a report about this incident," Seth Goddard said.



That is proper Stardog procedure," TJ nodded, folding his arms across her chest

"What are we going to do with the crew of the Mira?" then shuffled the stack of papers on her desk into a neat pile.



"Rory, Reaver and Antonia are finally going where they belong, to jail," Seth replied, folding his arms across his chest and leaned back in his chair.



"The ship was confiscated, and it's crew will be facing criminal charges, but

What are we supposed to do with two ships?" TJ asked.



"The Christa is still the docking bay, and there's plenty of room in there to stash the Mira for now. The brass will want to study both, eventually," Seth frowned.



"Seth as much as everyone complained during our travels on aboard the Christa; every time our lives were in danger, do you ever miss the adventures we had?"



"Honestly, sometimes I do," Seth replied.



"What about Cormac?"



"He's not Radu," Seth replied.



"No, but he happens to be an Andromedan requesting admittance to the Star Academy," she said. If you recall, Radu was the first Andromedan ever admitted after the war, and at the request of the Andromedan government."



"I remember. I guess I don't envy you having to make a call on that. If you do admit him, hopefully we've learned a thing or to about Andromedans by now," Seth replied.

"And here I thought a desk job wouldn't suit you."



"Teaching is what I love, but somebody had to step in and get this place back on track," TJ replied.



"What's that old saying? I go away for a week and everything falls apart?" Seth said.



"Hmm, we were gone for three years, that's not a terribly long time. Do you remember the old Earth poem by the Irish poet Yeats? 'Turning and turning in the widening gyre. The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.'"



"So we're here to make sure that mere anarchy isn't loosed upon our neck of the universe," Seth smiled.



"Agreed," TJ smiled. "Remind me next time, to take precautions the next time your past comes back to haunt you. It's going to a lot of explaining to before this latest mess is cleared up."



"Promise. I still can't come up with an explanation of how I managed to miss one of my evil twins," Seth replied, smiling as he stood up and moved over to the other side of her desk and lifted to her feet. "Kiss me."



"Did I ever tell you, you're incorrigible," she laughed and kissed him.

"Keep telling me that any time you get the merest inkling of that," and he kissed her back. It was going to back a long night and an equally long day, but then it was already tomorrow according to the chronometer, "Never a dull moment."