General Note: I'm only going to reformat my fics so much when this site is the one at fault. So if the formatting is weird, please check out my profile for more info. Thank you.
A/N, NO SERIOUSLY PLEASE READ THIS: So yes, this fic was originally written and published by Pseudo Posthuman. I thought it was a fun, dark romp, but unfortunately it had its share of technical errors—typos, misplaced punctuation, and the like. Just for my own personal enjoyment, I started fixing those errors—only I got a little carried away and basically started editing/rewriting the entire fic. ^^' I tried to contact Pseudo Posthuman, asking for permission to post my version, but it seems the account is abandoned(?). So after a bit of deliberation, I decided to go ahead and post it anyway, just with this massive disclaimer, letting readers know what's up. Pseudo Posthuman, if you are reading this and would like me to take this story down, please let me know and I will be more than happy to oblige.
The original fic is still up, and a link to it can be found in my profile—you know, in case you want to leave the original author some love, abandoned though the account appears to be. I can tell you right off the bat that I did not change the plot in any way—the editing/rewriting was mostly limited to the prose, itself, though I did tweak some of the characterizations a little (well, and I gave Troi her own sexy, custom dominatrix outfit, because I thought she deserved it ;p).
Also, since this is a Mirror Universe fic, and by definition the Mirror Universe practically runs on Fetish Fuel, please take the story, content, and views expressed therein with a grain of salt. Your Kink Is Not My Kink, and all that.
Obligatory (but ultimately pointless) CYA: I don't own it.
Façades: A Mirror Universe Story
originally by Pseudo Posthuman
Welcome to the 24th century, and good luck with that.
After a rather glorious victory for the Terran Empire over the less hostile, welcoming Romulans, the Imperial Fleet's flagship—and self-proclaimed strongest in the galaxy—was ordered to extract any information on the whereabouts of the rest of the Romulan fleet. Of course, the valiant crew of the ISS Enterprise took the word 'extract' at face value, and proceeded to obtain a handful of Romulan generals—acknowledging that their vessels were no match for a warship such as the Enterprise, they had surrendered themselves to the Terran Empire.
The laboratory was a grim, menacing sight. Only a couple of lights shone at the center of the room, the flash of consoles around the perimeter the only other source of illumination. In the lone bright spot was a long, metal examination table, modified to hold some of the most violent species in the galaxy. Right then, at its mercy, was Romulan General T'lsak. Thick, green cords trailed from his temples, and his hair was matted to his forehead from constant sweating. He was trying to calm himself, to retain some degree of control, but he was failing miserably, and would, occasionally, let out a small whimper.
"If we connect a further two to his frontal lobe, we could double the pain delivered to the subject." The android punched in a few commands, then turned to the chief engineer. "Of course, that may or may not kill him."
"Well, we've got a few more in the brig to replace him." Geordi flashed a smile, and Data returned it in his small, subtle way.
"Shall I retrieve another, or shall I wait for T'lsak"—he spat the Romulan's name with a bitterness that seemed uncharacteristic for a machine—"to finally die?"
Geordi laughed at Data; it was friendly, with a dark undertone, like most laughs on the Enterprise were—the crew, due to their numerous triumphs, believed they were superior. Geordi especially, having been born blind, should not have been standing there. Under normal circumstances, he would have been considered a weakness and been discarded at infancy, but his parents had instead offered him up as a test subject. As a result, the engineer had a thick, metal VISOR fused awfully with the skin on his face. The device allowed him to see outside the normal visible spectrum, and thus turned what had been a disability into something far more valuable—a super-human asset to the Empire.
"The Romulan pain tolerance is very high, but not their capacity for survival," Data said. "Shall we proceed?"
Geordi adjusted some variables on the console and nodded at him. "Go ahead, Data."
The android attached two more green wires to the Romulan's head, making him gasp and arch his back. Unaffected, Data simply monitored the computer beside him.
"Heart rate increasing, blood pressure rising…" He paused and turned to the Romulan. "In a few moments you will feel as if your veins are choking your skin. You will find it difficult to breathe as your airways become constricted, and your vision may become blurred. However, this is a normal reaction to such a procedure."
"Data, if he can't breathe, how is he supposed to tell us where the fleet is?" Geordi pointed out.
Data paused for a moment, his yellow eyes darting back and forth in thought. "You bring up a good point, Geordi." He tilted his head back toward the console, enthralled by the Romulan's vital signs. "I did not think of that."
Geordi only laughed. Neither of them made any attempt to release the Romulan, nor to lessen his pain to the point where he could speak, because whatever he might have to say was immaterial. It truly didn't matter where the fleet was; Romulan ships posed little threat to even Terran transport vessels. And they were no match at all for the Empire's warships.
Data had effectively killed his test subject before he had anticipated, and questioned Geordi on whether he should run a self-diagnostic or not to try to fix the discrepancy. Geordi told him not to bother, that the Romulans were strange creatures who were hard to talk to and easy to humiliate, and whose willingness to die was so pathetic it made them an easy target. He said that the Romulan had probably held his breath in order to die, and commented that the species could save themselves a lot of trouble if they would simply give into the Empire's demands.
Data found this slightly amusing, though not to the point of laughter. His programming wasn't capable of that.
Now, the android Data had been created by one Dr. Noonian Soong, who had once worked as a cyberneticist for the Terran Empire. After being discharged on malpractice grounds (many claimed that Soong was far beyond insanity), he began work on his artificial life forms. His first android had been Lore, a kind, gentle creature who ended up with far too many morals. Although Soong had tolerated him, he soon grew tired of the android's imperfections, and, using Lore's blueprints, eventually succeeded in creating Data.
Data had been given the inklings of emotions, though his programming was not often capable of processing them. Inside him was the essence of the man who had built him: a dark, somewhat selfish individual, whose sense of curiosity was so insatiable, sometimes it qualified as downright sadistic. To the rest of the crew, Data was like a child—a child who perched himself on a hill and burned ants with a magnifying lens. He hadn't been programmed with any morals, and while he didn't seem particularly ambitious when it came to his military career (he had been serving in the Imperial Fleet for some twenty-odd years now, and had only risen to the rank of lieutenant commander), he was well-known for getting what he wanted.
Data tapped his comm. badge. "Data to Lieutenant Yar."
"Go ahead," came the tinny response.
"Geordi and I will be arriving at the brig shortly to collect another Romulan for interrogation. Please pre—"
"Shit, Data," she interrupted with a laugh. "How many Romulans are you planning to go through tonight?"
Data cocked his head, as if she was implying something. "As many as I desire."
She confirmed his request with another laugh, and then cut off the comm. link. Geordi chuckled and shook his head.
"Half the men on this ship would kill to have your luck with women, Data." It wasn't an exaggeration, and Data knew it.
"It is not 'luck,' Geordi. Rather, it is good programming and…" He trailed off, unable to find the appropriate phrase in his databanks.
"Good alcohol?" Geordi finished for him. "C'mon, Data, you don't honestly think it's just that, do you?"
"If you are referring to my supposed physical allure, then I do not believe I am the right person to ask, Geordi." He snapped the wires from the Romulan's head and heaved him, dripping with sweat, onto his shoulders.
"Smart ass," Geordi remarked. Data only shot him his small smirk and proceeded to sickbay—where he had been ordered to drop off any corpses, for Dr. Crusher's 'research,' as she called it.
"Commander Riker, I need to speak with you in my ready room."
William Riker, a hulking individual with two parallel radiation burns over his left eyebrow, followed. The doors swished shut behind him, and he took his place in front of the captain's desk, standing with his hands clasped behind his back. Captain Picard took a seat in his more-than-impressive chair and shook his head at his first officer.
"At ease, Commander."
Will relaxed, took a seat in the chair opposite the captain's, and leaned back, pulling his sash. He was good at reading the captain's tone of voice, and he raised an eyebrow, guessing, "There isn't a Romulan fleet left, is there?"
The captain leaned back himself. "Oh, well, you know how it is. We do need some justification for our presence in this region."
Will leaned closer to the table. "What justification should we need besides the fact that all other civilizations have knelt to the Terran Empire so far?" It was something of a joke, but only because it was true.
Picard waved disdainfully. "You know the admiral—always wanting to turn a blind eye to the true nature of our mission. But I didn't bring you here to bastardize the admiral with me." He took out a PADD and pushed it across the table. "I regret to announce we have received new orders."
"Really? And I was just starting to get fond of the Romulans…" Will chuckled to himself and scanned through the PADD. "Ah, I see." He paused, looking up at the captain. "Who pissed off the Klingons?"
The captain frowned imperiously. "That information is confidential, Commander. However, we are to release the surviving Romulans to the Imperial authorities on Romulus." He stood up and gazed out the window, looking over the Romulan home world, and the mass of starships that surrounded it.
"There aren't many Romulans left in our holding cell…" Will pointed out.
Through the reflection in the window, Will glimpsed the faintest of smirks on the captain's face. Picard was a dignified but ruthless man—a powerful asset to the Empire—and after a moment, he turned back from the window.
"Have the remaining Romulans executed," he ordered, "and set a course for the Romulan outpost, warp factor seven."
Will nodded, a grin on his mouth and a glint in his eye. "Aye, sir."
"And Commander," the captain said, stopping him, that faint smirk returning to his face, "the ISS Stargazer 'pissed off' the Klingons."
Creativity came in the form of the Enterprise's agony booth, customized by Lieutenant Yar and Lieutenant Commanders Data and La Forge. Inside, the Romulan could feel the intensity rise without even having to look at Tasha, who manned the controls. There was a sharp twinge of pain in his temples and an intense pressure in his sinuses. His nose started bleeding, and his throat felt like it was closing from the inside, making his breaths short and extremely painful. His lungs felt like they were on fire. And that was only the first setting.
His muscles spasmed involuntarily, and his hand hit the glass, leaving a sweaty smear. The pressure increased, he doubled over, and the setting was raised once more. His legs gave out when the highest setting was switched on, a combination of burning veins and pinching nerves cascading through his system, leaving him little more than a quivering, collapsed mess. And then he gave one final, violent shudder, and went still. The glass slid open, and the Romulan fell out onto Tasha's shoe, much to her annoyance.
"No vital signs," Data confirmed. "Prepare the final Romulan for—"
"They do look like them, don't they?" Tasha mused.
Data blinked. "Like who?"
"The Vulcans. If only they would submit themselves to the Empire… It would be like completing a collection." Tasha laughed, kicked the Romulan off her shoe, and turned to the last prisoner. "Don't you have anything to say for yourself?" The final prisoner was a woman, who gave no reply and stood with a straight, stiff posture. "You know it's only a matter of time before the remains of the Romulans submit to the Empire—"
The woman finally broke her silence, snapping, "We would rather die than join the Terran Empire."
Tasha's face contorted with disgust. "We'll see about that… Data!"
Data had moved the dead Romulan beside the rest of his late comrades and now looked up. He nodded at Tasha and took the last prisoner by the arm, her struggles futile against his strength. He looked, ironically, like quite the gentleman as he led her up to the booth, one arm around her waist and the other on her forearm.
To Data, the most curious thing about the Romulans was that, out of all the species that had been subjected to the booth, only the Romulans prevented themselves from screaming. Of course, Data couldn't really comprehend any pain they felt; the agony booth would never work on him. But then, discipline was rarely a problem with Data.
The Romulan fell out of the booth like the one before her had, and Data removed her immediately, placing her with the other corpses. Tasha called for a security team to take the bodies to sickbay.
"I expected more punch from the Romulans, you know…" she sighed.
" 'Punch,' Tasha?"
"Yeah. They didn't put up much of a fight."
"The Romulan Empire suffered massive losses in a civil war less than ten years ago, depleting half of their military and causing significant social, political, and economic problems. As a result, their technological advancement has been impeded—"
"I get it, Data." She shook her head and laughed at him. "I don't understand you. Sometimes you can be so…so…rigid and…boring."
"It is unfortunate my creator did not get the chance to complete my programming. Perhaps then I would not be so 'boring.' "
"Whatever happened to old Soong, anyway? You never told me that." She put some tools away and closed the agony booth's door, making a mental note to have a clean-up crew sent down.
"He was murdered by Resistance rebels after finishing the groundwork of what was to be my emotional subroutines. They took Lore with them, although I doubt he will ever be much of a threat." Lore had been a sensitive thing, Soong had said, and his ethical programming had been his Achilles' heel; Data wasn't cursed with such a thing.
"I'm sure if we ever run into the Resistance again, the captain will personally grant you permission to lead the mission and avenge your father, Data."
Data tilted his head at this idea. "Perhaps." It was then that the security team entered, and Data and Tasha took their leave.
"What do you think our orders are this time?" she asked.
"I do not know. The commander has not informed any of the crew as of yet."
"So? Take a wild guess."
Data's brow furrowed. He didn't see how such a conjecture was at all significant, but decided to humor her all the same. "I would 'guess' that we have been called away to deal with either the Cardassians or the Bajorans. Both have recently shown their particular dislike for the Empire."
The turbolift arrived, and Tasha nimbly stepped into it, calling for the bridge. Data calmly fell in behind her and the door swished shut.
"The Cardassians and Bajorans get pissed off when a piece of debris wanders through their systems," she said with a roll of her eyes. Data lifted an eyebrow. "Maybe the Klingons…"
"I have observed," he stated, "that you swear more frequently than many other crew members." Tasha laughed at him again.
"And I've observed you don't."
"Like I said, my programming is incomplete."
The doors opened to reveal the bridge, which was bathed in low light, as usual. Tasha stepped out first, taking her place at tactical, while Data rounded the edge to take his seat at ops., next to Wesley Crusher—better known as One-Eyed Wesley. Ensign Crusher was Dr. Crusher's son, and had suffered severely at the hands of his abusive father—until said father had been killed by none other than Jean-Luc Picard, himself. Picard had an inexplicable soft spot for the boy, and many attributed it to the soft spot he had for the boy's mother—but that was another matter entirely.
"Mr. Data, how long will it take us to reach the Romulan outpost Kaleh'tan at warp seven?" Will asked.
"Two hours, twelve minutes, fifty-five—"
"Thank you, Mr. Data," Will cut in with a roll of his eyes. "Lieutenant, make sure the shields and weapons are fully operational within one hour."
Tasha nodded. "Aye, sir. What kind of fire should we be expecting?"
Will narrowed his eyes. "Klingon."
It was the only explanation he needed to give. Data glanced over his shoulder to see Tasha smirking at him from tactical, but his attention was immediately drawn away by the swish of the doors to the captain's ready room. Will stood up.
"Captain on the bridge."
Picard didn't even nod in acknowledgement, and instead made a beeline for the other side of the bridge. "Senior staff, report to the briefing lounge."
"Aye, sir." Will tapped his comm. badge. "Mr. La Forge, Dr. Crusher, report to the briefing lounge immediately."
The outpost shook, its command center engulfed in flames and the bleak atmosphere of death. It took fire from the Terran ships above it, the foundation shaking and cracking like nothing Commander Taloak had ever experienced in his career. He shivered, a plasma burn down the side of his face, and tried to move from under the rubble. He managed to free his legs, and the outpost shuddered again. A beam collapsed behind him in a blaze of sparks and smoke.
He tried to communicate with anyone who might be left, but the console only responded with static. He slammed his fist into it in frustration, then stumbled through the command center, over his dead friends, dragging an injured ankle behind him with pain and determination. With each step he took, the roof over his head cracked a little bit more. The structural integrity was failing, and would likely soon collapse entirely. As quickly as he could, he made his way through the black, debris-filled corridors, toward his own quarters.
Inside, nothing had seemed to survive—it was a dusty, smoky wreck, and there was even a splattering of green against the door from one of his security officers. Taloak looked around for any sign of life. He heard a whimper from the bedroom and struggled to reach it. A body lay on the floor, a woman, half-way between life and death, severe plasma burns down her face and side. He couldn't bear to see her like that, couldn't even say her name—but it wasn't she who had whimpered; it was their son, under the bed.
"Come out. Don't be afraid," he told the boy. He was smaller than other Romulan children his age, his ears longer, his hair thick and blonde, and his eyes bright blue. Taloak tenderly placed his hand on his wife's face. Her skin was smoother and paler than any Romulan, because she wasn't Romulan—she was an El-Aurian, whom Taloak had found in an escape pod a number of years ago.
"We won't let them take us…" Taloak whispered fiercely, taking out his phaser. He pulled his son closer to him, and the boy covered his ears and buried his face in his father's arm. Taloak put the phaser to his wife's temple, then closed his eyes and pulled the trigger. A shiver surged through his body at the sound of it firing. He didn't want to do it again, but he knew he had to.
His eyes only opened when people—massive, heavily-armed people by the sound of it—came bounding through the doors to the cabin and into the bedroom, flashlights aimed at his face. Taloak squinted, phaser held determinedly at his son's temple.
"Do not fire!" came an authoritative bellow. "I am Captain Worf, of the Klingon warship Gr'oth. You must come with us before the Terrans obliterate this outpost!"
"You won't take us alive!" Taloak shouted back.
Worf growled at the Romulan's attitude and, upon noticing the boy, and the fact that he was in danger, tried to come forward to protect him. Taloak pressed the phaser to his son's temple harder, shaking his head.
"You won't!" he shouted again.
"You must leave now! If you will not come, then at least let the boy go!"
"I don't trust Klingons!"
"We have been the only people to come to your aid, the only ones who will risk our lives to help you—how can you not trust us? Your war with the Terran Empire has left you blind, Romulan!"
Taloak's previous determination faltered. The outpost shook once more, violently, and a siren began to sound—a core breach. Taloak, in numb realization, let his son go and pushed him towards Worf. Worf hauled the boy up with one arm, holding him against his shoulder, and offered his other hand to Taloak. Taloak only smiled back—and then put his phaser to his own head, firing swiftly. He slumped down to the floor, next to his El-Aurian wife.
Worf ground his teeth at the waste of life, but knew he couldn't waste time mulling over the Romulan's suicide. He ran out into the corridor with the boy in his arms, his two officers behind him, and called for transport as soon as they had cleared any interference. As soon as they dematerialized, the outpost began to collapse, support beams falling right where they had been standing.
On the bridge of his ship, Worf dropped the half-Romulan, half-El-Aurian boy beside his command chair. The boy, oddly enough, seemed very passive about the whole experience—neither sad, nor fearful, nor anything Worf might have expected from one so young.
"Target the reactor of the Terran vessel!" he shouted in his native language. "Full spread!"
"Sir, another vessel is approaching!"
Worf narrowed his eyes. "Which vessel?"
"…It's the Enterprise!"
A/N: So yes, quite a bit different from my own writing—I almost never write anything so action/adventurey. But it's fun and refreshing in a way, and a neat little side project. (I have a soft spot for the Mirror Universe, and really wish there were more TNG fics out there that dealt with it—there's Diane Duane's novel, "Dark Mirror," but I confess I haven't read it because I hear Data doesn't exist in her version of the Mirror Universe, and that makes me a very sad panda. (Though in all honesty, my favorite version of the Mirror Universe is one where Data was never created—but not because Soong was killed before he could build him, as is the case in "Dark Mirror," but because no one thought anything was wrong with Lore. So Lore ends up as second officer on the Enterprise and basically follows Data's career path. But I digress.))
Updates should be pretty quick (I have more than half of it rewritten already), but please keep in mind that this is a side project for me, and therefore not a priority. But I'm hoping to update it maybe once a week? Maybe less? But don't quote me on anything. ^^