Ship's log, supplemental: Defiant has successfully reproduced the plasma leak accident that first sent a DS9 runabout into the mirror universe a year ago, and is running cloaked. Our first step in stopping the Alliance invasion of the Federation, the Doctor tells me, is enlisting the aid of the Terran rebels who hide out in the Badlands (in reflection I suppose, eerily for me, of the Maquis of my own universe) - the rebels formerly commanded by my late mirror image.
"The Federation has enough on its plate right now," Sisko said, pacing Defiant's transporter room. "The Jem Haddar, the Klingons - the shambles Tain made of the Cardassian and Romulan efforts against the Dominion ...
"The last thing we need is yet another invasion force going through the wormhole, in any direction."
"Undoubtedly the Master knows that," said the Doctor. "He probably picked this moment in history very carefully."
"Nothing yet," said O'Brien, peering at the sensor readouts on the transporter console.
"No rush," said Ace. She wasn't too sure she quite wanted to beam through the astronomic goop out there, though the Doctor seemed unconcerned enough once he'd asked that O'Brien be at the controls.
"You don't have to do this for me, Doctor," Sisko said again.
The Doctor shook his head. "These people aren't generously inclined toward the uniformed."
"Besides, Smiley told us your secret's got out," Ace said. Smiley had hinted that there were people whom Sisko were better not to see again - or they him - now that his masquerade as his other self was public knowledge. Sisko's expression now went a long way to confirm this.
"Got something," O'Brien called. "Shuttle class. Pretty sloppy emissions ... a state of disrepair that suggests it's not subject to normal maintenance."
"A rebel in hiding," the Doctor nodded.
"Life readings," said O'Brien. "One life form. Might not be Terran; hard to tell through the sensor distortion."
"One of the other oppressed Empire races then," said Sisko. "An Alliance patrol would be in a better ship."
"Whenever you're ready, Chief," said the Doctor.
"Energize," ordered Sisko, and Ace's world faded into blue streaks.
"Tuvok!" said Ace.
The dark-skinned Vulcan blinked and was instantly out of the meditative trance he had been enjoying when the time travelers beamed into his shuttle. "You have the advantage of me," he said, drawing a makeshift energy weapon. It was pretty shabby looking, Ace thought, but a Tuvok had assembled it so she gave it respect due.
The Doctor tipped his hat. "How do you do. I'm the Doctor and this is Ace. We're from the other universe."
Tuvok lowered his weapon but kept it covering them. "The other Time Lord. Mr. Bashir spoke of you when the mission to Terek Nor returned. Not entirely favorably, I may say."
"I'm glad to know they got back safely," said the Doctor. "I was hoping to see Smiley."
"We do not gather often, nor inform each other of our whereabouts between meetings," said Tuvok. "It is among the security protocols I have introduced since I joined Captain Sisko's force."
"Well, I had hoped to discuss with him the other group of rebels he had been involved with before the Alliance sent him to Terek Nor. But I think you can be of even greater help to me."
"I was not aware that Mr. O'Brien had been involved with any other such group."
"I didn't think so. But I believe you may be familiar with one."
"Indeed?" Tuvok raised both eyebrows, a sign of distinct surprise in a Vulcan. "What makes you believe this?"
"I have special knowledge," smiled the Doctor. Tuvok regarded him closely, obviously in the process of deciding whether to trust him.
The Tuvok in our universe, thought Ace, joined a rebel group based in the Badlands too. The Tuvok in our universe had been sent to spy on those rebels on behalf of another group of humans. The Tuvok in our universe was sent by -
"You are correct," Tuvok admitted. "Now, logic suggests, you are going to request that I ... 'take you to my leader'."
"We'll take you, if you don't mind," said the Doctor. He waved at the shuttle's communication console. "May I?"
"Yes." Tuvok had put his weapon away now.
The Doctor looked over the patched console - the ship didn't look any better from the inside than it had on O'Brien's sensors - and punched a code into a touchpad with the tip of his umbrella. "You can uncloak now," he said into the pickup.
Ace watched Tuvok studiously not react as, out the front viewport, the huge, overmuscled Defiant suddenly came into view looming over them.
"It appears that acceding to your request," said Tuvok, "was eminently the logical choice."
"And they say Vulcans don't tell jokes," grinned Ace. Tuvok's eyebrows came back down.
"That's the shuttle bay doors opening for you," the Doctor pointed.
"Thank you," said the Master.
Kira Nerys, Alliance Intendent for the planet Bajor, waved the human servant forward. She had been contriving every excuse she could. He was the Master's servant, and a bit mature for her usual tastes. But since the dapper Master - with his black goatee, his backswept black hair, his fancy black suit, his strangely feline eyes - was always indifferent (or even, she sometimes thought, actually oblivious) to her advances... And this guy had a catlike grace, with intimations of great strength, if you knew what to look for, held in check by his charmingly subservient manner. He was even dressed in anachronistically classic Terran formal clothing, with of course the globe badge at the right shoulder.
He poured the wine while the Master said offhandedly, "The fleet is on its way here by now."
"Really?" Kira smiled, refusing to appear startled, although this had come out of nowhere. Despite her inquiries in all official quarters, and some not so official, she'd been unable to find out when the work at Forrester's World should be done, nor what the modifications were in aid of. Nor the Master's purpose in bringing the fleet to Terek Nor afterwards. She had started wondering days ago if the Alliance itself didn't know the Master's whole plan, and despite herself by now was coming to believe it. "What," she asked with casualness that she knew fooled neither of them, "then?"
"We'll see," said the Master, smiling, like a parent brushing a child off. Anger boiled up in Kira. No one treated her like this. On the other hand, if a Time Lord could get away with treating the upper echelons of the Alliance like this (after all, the only way Bariel and her other agents could have failed to acquire the information was if no one else had it either, no one but the very summit of the Alliance beaurocracy), a Time Lord was not a good enemy to make. She distracted herself by gulping her own wine and signaling for more.
"What a fine servant," said Kira. She looked him up and down frankly, and though he kept his eyes on his pouring and his pleasant smile never changed, she was certain he knew it.
"Not a servant," the Master insisted through a bite of frosted sHo'gaE. "A butler. A 'gentleman's gentleman'. He's served the House of Mogh since the Empire fell. I've borrowed him from the Regent who, of course, doesn't appreciate him properly."
"A crime," Kira said as appreciatively as she could. She had quite distracted herself. "I know I'd appreciate such service. In fact I wonder whether you might spare him tonight."
The Master shrugged. "I shall be retiring directly we are done with dinner. Last-minute preparations, you know. Are you entertaining?"
"Always," smiled Kira. She looked over to the side, where the butler discreetly stationed himself when waiting to be called. "Would you like that, Terran?"
"Your service would be my pleasure, Intendent," said the butler in deep tones, with a trace of an exotic Terran accent. His smile didn't change and Kira couldn't read his eyes. She had no idea what he really felt. That always intrigued her.
She realized she didn't know his name. "What's your name?"
"An added bonus to my having his service," said the Master, wiping his mouth politely with a napkin, "is that his counterpart from the other universe is a past adversary of mine."
"... So you see," said Sisko, "we want to foil this invasion before it starts. And it is in your interest to help us, since anything that hurts the Alliance -"
"Or in any case," said the Doctor, "keeps it from getting stronger."
"- Is good for you." Sisko looked down the length of the conference room table past his seated officers and the time travelers to the Vulcan.
Tuvok nodded. "Your argument is logical. And your Defiant shall be of great assistance." Tuvok leaned forward in his seat, resting his elbows on the table and spiring his fingers. "Know this: there are several Terran resistance groups, spread throughout former Empire space. They have a tendency to specialize. For instance, one specializes in the gathering of intelligence."
"That might've been Smiley's," said Ace. "He said that's all he did."
"The Badlands group," continued Tuvok, "specializes in harrassing, and plotting to take, Terek Nor - reflective, I fear, less of the genuine strategic value of the station than of the personal obsessions of the late Captain Sisko and several of his lieutenants. My group specializes in opening and maintaining secure communications between the others."
"That's why you were sent to the Badlands," Sisko said.
Tuvok nodded. "My kirk chose me to assess them and decide whether to make the rest of us known to them."
"Your what?" chorused most of the people at the table.
"Terran resistance group leaders are traditionally know by the title kirk," Tuvok explained. "It honors not the starship captain of our universe, but the visionary from yours who persuaded Spock to reform the Empire. It is believed your Kirk would have done a better job than did our Spock, whose extremist pacifist philosophy disabled the Empire for the Alliance to subjugate it."
"Interesting," said Sisko. "In our universe Kirk is regarded as having been a maverick and something of a menace."
"Consider the source, Commander," the Doctor advised. "Kirk's present place in history was largely defined by the Starfleet of his last days, which was by no means the Starfleet of the present or of Kirk's early career."
"In any case," said Tuvok, "my group's mission is getting all the Terran resistance to the Alliance cooperating in a united effort - a mission which the hostile Terran nature has to date frustrated."
"It sounds like you're exactly the people we need."
"My kirk is presently en route to a mission near the Romulan border. The quickest way to assemble resistance aid against the Alliance invasion fleet would be to meet with her there."
"Have we got that kind of time?" Odo asked.
"The presence of Defiant would be a powerful argument that our aid to your cause would not be suicidally futile," Tuvok said.
"Let's do it," said Sisko. "You know her rendezvous coordinates?"
"Major, take our guest to the bridge and set the course. The rest of you, stations."
"Yes sir." Kira escorted Tuvok out and the other officers followed them. Sisko was left in the room with only the Doctor and Ace.
"I wouldn't have guessed how much Kirk is still lionized by these people," said the Doctor. "Perhaps there's some way we could use it to rally them all around our flag."
"It's a pity we can't take Kirk's shadow out of the Nexus," said Sisko.
"Yes, having Kirk here would certainly help our ... What did you say?" The Doctor was suddenly eyeing Sisko with the intensity he had when he'd seen something everyone else had missed.
"You know the Nexus, the time-ribbon encountered several months ago at Veridian III -" Sisko said.
"When the Enterprise-D was destroyed, yes yes go on."
"I may have had a more detailed report than you," Sisko said. "In fact I'd be surprised and annoyed if I didn't."
"Picard was told while in the Nexus by the shadow of his civilian crewmember Guinan that she - the shadow - couldn't leave the Nexus with him because she - the real Guinan - was already back out in the real universe. That's why he brought Kirk out instead."
"Of course she couldn't!" said the Doctor. "On Gallifrey we call it the First Law of Time. To paraphrase my old friend Isaac: No one object may occupy two places at the same time. El-Aurigans have an instinct for that sort of thing, you know."
"What then -"
"James T. Kirk," the Doctor belabored, "died on Veridian III."
"James T. Kirk," Sisko realized, "isn't occupying any place in real spacetime right now."
"I," said the Doctor, bounding out with Ace right behind him, "shall be right back."
END OF CHAPTER 3
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