Subject: FRONTIER: Game On!

SD 71020

>An army of horsemen garbed in a similar variety of outfits sped 
>through the woods towards them.

Keanu moved to the side as a 'Tcharian horseman approched him. He 
turned to see horsemen on the other side of the alternate crew. They 
stopped the approach, Keanu decided they must be in the middle of a 
battlefield. "Everyone better move out the way!" Keanu stumbled as 
one of the footmen jumped him, he fell down the hill into a swamp. He 
found himself up to his waist in cold swamp water. He edged his foot
forward, bubbles broke the surface, he breathed a healthy lungful of
the marsh gas.

Keanu tightened his grip on the hilt of the short sword he carried, 
then shifted his other foot forward. More disgusting bubbles broke on 
the surface of the water in front of him. It was hard to restrain the 
cough building up inside his raw throat.

Another step and he stopped to listen. Still nothing but the 
gut-searing stink and the icy water, up to his waist to make him 
uncomfortable. Despite this, he knew the 'Tcharian had to be around 
here somewhere.

Keanu reviewed what he knew of the species as he edged his way 
through the weeds and around the thick treelike growths that seemed to
*grow* in this swamp. The warriors were a grim bunch of characters who
loved to fight more than anything. Their idea of a pleasant evening
was to sit around a blazing campfire and toast someone's feet. If that
person screamed, he was immediatly killed for displaying less than 
warriorlike behaviour. If he didn't, he had to learn to get through 
life minus his feet. 

The 'Tchariani were so humorless they made even the Borg look like a 
race of stand-up-comedians. Their favorite food was the heart of a 
Ichkhari - a kind of armour-plated lionlike monster - which they ate 
not merely raw, but freshly torn from the chest of a live beast, they 
had personally captured seconds before lunch. *And here I am in a 
swamp with the things* Keanu thought. *I need my head examined.

It must have been this loss of concentration that the warrior had been
awaiting, the reeds beside him exploded outwards as a 'Tcharian hurled
itself through them. The warrior scream howled from its double throat 
as it raised its weapon for the kill. This was not just to terrify its
prey, but to let other warriors know it had located Keanu, and warn  
them to stay back until one of them was dead.

Keanu threw himself to the left, heedless of the stench and frigid 
waters. As he did so, he swung his sword up in a backhanded blow that 
intersected the downward sweep of the 'Tcharian spear, the force of 
the impact broke his sword in two.

Hissing in fury, the warrior lept back several paces to ready another
attack. Keanu was half-submerged now, thin, puke-green weeds trying to
cling to him. He pushed down into the cloying mud to right himself. 

Another bout of noisome bubbles shattered on the surface of the swamp.
Their stench burned his nasal passages as he gasped for breath. The 
'Tcharian balanced on its four legs and held its spear flat in both 
hands. It wasn't simply a stick with a point, instead, the pole was 
capped with a curved edge, like the point of a sickle. The idea was to
catch your prey with the thrust, then twist so as to disembowl it. It 
made the prey's death much more agonizing and therefore more 
entertaining for the warrior. Keanu pulled his Bat'telh from his back 
and jumped towards the warrior. It danced aside with astonishing 
agility for a creature of its mass. *Damn those four legs!* Keanu 
thought as he halted his charge, he realised he was in a bad 

Then the 'Tcharian struck. It didn't have time the time to reverse 
it's spear and use the cutting edge, but it made do. The hard wooden 
edge slammed across Keanu's ribs, knocking him from his feet and back 
into an even harder tree trunk. A sharp dagger of agony burned in 
Keanu's side, and his back was a searing fire of pain. The Bat'telh in 
his hand slumped numbly, and great red flashes filled his vision. 

Sensing victory and death, the 'Tcharian threw back its lizardlike 
snout and howled the deathsong. The warrior had time for a startled 
look of astonishment as the arrow ripped through its throat. It 
coughed up blood, its legs spasmed in agony, then it fell lifeless 
into the water. 

Keanu looked towards the source of the arrow as his vision started to 
clear, "Come on, lets get out of here." He recognised the familiar 
voice of Teri Blake.

"Thanks," he said.

"Don't mention it," she said. "Come on, lets go get the others." They 
walked back up the hill with Teri giving Keanu support. At the top of 
the hill the battleground was littered with corpses. There was no 
sign of anyone from their crew until Ramsay climbed down from a tree 
then the rest of the crew followed.

"Why did you hide up in the trees?" asked m-Caroline, her curved 
sword still dripping with gore.

"We weren't hiding," replied Angus, "standard tactic when confronted 
by a much larger force is to try and avoid a fight, and horses 
aren't much good at climbing trees. Nobody here got cold feet."

"No, but I'm sure some of us kiltwearers were getting chilled," added 
Ramsay. When everyone turned to look at him, he said, "Don't ask." He 
did a quick headcount and realised someone was missing. "Houston, who 
isn't here?" he asked.

Joanna looked around and replied, "Your wife, sir, and Louise 
Priestly. Perhaps Q classed them as non-combatant?"

"That's certainly a possibility." He heard a swishing noise in the air
and turned just in time to block m-Caroline's sword with his own with 
a resounding <clang>. He sighed and snapped, "Don't you realise we're 
in this together? Something tells me it isn't over yet - otherwise 
we'd be back on our own ships!" He ducked to avoid a swipe, and 
tripped her with his foot.

"I will be avenged," she said, quickly back on her feet.

"For what? I haven't done anything to you." He met her next blow 
solidly, pushed her back. She staggered, off-balance and flailing with
her hands to right herself. "Yet," he added.

"Oh? You refuse to take the blame for his death? Now that *really* 
makes me mad," she replied from her sitting position on the ground. 
m-Caroline looked for an opportunity to get back on her feet.

"*Whose* death? What the *hell* are you talking about?" He edged 
closer, not giving her any standing space. She crawled backward on her

"And now you claim ignorance. So be it." m-Caroline hefted herself 
backward in a single somersault and stood up before him.

"I hate to spoil your illusion, but he didn't kill your fiance, 
Caroline," said Leana. "Your superiors covered everything up 
concerning the loss of the ISS Regent. They're the ones you should be 
threatening. Your security chief here told me so." She flashed a grin 
at m-Angus, who was seething at the prospect of *not* seeing his 
captain dispatch theirs.

"That's a lie!" he shouted. "I said no such thing!"

"No, *you're* the only liar around here," retorted m-Sampter who, from
m-Angus' pained expression, had just checked. She reeled off some of 
the more interesting details to m-Caroline, who just stood there in 
mid-strike, stunned by the news.

Then she turned back to Ramsay and said aloud so that all could hear, 
"There'll be no more fighting between us this day! I'm for getting out
of this hell-hole as quickly as possible. Anybody disagree?" She 
turned on the spot, her sword held out threateningly. When there were 
no takers, she continued, "Now, everyone find their mirror and stick 
with them. Hopefully fighting an army of twins will scare the hell out
of them. Let's go!" She motioned after the last known direction of the
'Tchariani. Ramsay just gave everyone on his team an I'll-go-with-that
shrug and ran after m-Caroline.

Her first stop was m-Angus. She brought the sword up just under his 
chin, and fiercely said, "I can kill you here on the spot, or you can 
fight with us. Which is it to be?"

In a flash m-Angus held a dagger to Caroline's throat, "Kill me, and 
I assure you that you'll join me in death."

m-Leana drew her own wicked, barbed sword but hesitated to point it at
anyone.  m-Patrick however felt no such division of loyalty and he 
raised his own broad-bladed sword in his tree-trunk arms to protect 

Angus forced the two apart, "Take your own advice Caroline, we don't 
have room for conflict here."

"We don't have room for mistrust either," she retorted sullenly, 
looking over her shoulder as she moved off with Ramsay.

When she was out of earshot, Angus asked his double, "*Are* you going 
to fight with us?"

"Of course, I just love getting her worked up.  It's one of my few 
pleasures in life." replied m-Angus.

Angus was silent for a moment, then grinned and added, "I can safely 
say that I'm never going to get used to talking to myself."

m-Angus shrugged, "I've always talked to myself, aboard my ship it's 
the only way to get a decent conversation.  I must say, that's a 
lovely scar you have."

The other Angus ran his fingers over his neck, "Isn't it just. Your 
Leana has a fine set of teeth."

His double nodded knowingly.

A fair distance away, the two androids were chatting aimlessly whilst
simultaneously practising crossbow shots on the local wildlife.

"I think you'd better avoid him," said m-Houston, pointing towards 
m-Festore, whose head was bandaged at the front. "He wasn't too happy 
about getting his forehead caved in. Of course, I could hardly blame 

"Why is that?" asked Houston curiously.

"Him and me don't get along terribly well." She smiled and continued, 
"When we first started seeing one another he was tender, caring, 
gentle. The perfect lover." She paused for a moment, her hand idly 
falling to her heavily-emphasised chest. "I don't know what made him 
change so much, but perhaps it was for the better. I started to... 
experiment." She stopped and looked Houston in the eye. "If you've 
ever had sex with another female you'll know that there's a 
difference." Her gaze was almost questioning.

"I... never had the opportunity," replied Joanna, moving on. A foul 
lizard-like tiger emerged from the swamp. Both whirled and fired upon 
it. The two arrows neatly embedded themselves deep in the beast's 
chest, side-by-side. It died swiftly.

"Nice shot," they said simultaneously. Joanna continued, "There seems 
to be a taboo of some kind in this universe regarding sexuality, yet 
there seems to be none in yours. The differences are quite amazing."

There was a long pause, and suddenly they realised that they had 
become separated from the rest of the group. The silence around them 
was eerie, shattered only by their footsteps. "This is highly 
unusual," commented Houston.

Abruptly she felt her double's hand on her shoulder. "This is creepy,"
m-Houston added.

With something akin to astonishment, Houston said, "You have 

m-Houston sighed and replied, "Yes. But seriously, they're not always 
helpful. Sometimes I wish I'd never developed that far, give anything 
to be cold and clinical." She thought for a moment, then added, "But 
I've come to recognise them as being a positive step in my life."

Houston moved on, aware now that her double was afraid of their 
surroundings. She almost ignored the constant proximity, until 
suddenly m-Houston spun her round on the spot and kissed her on the 
lips, taking her almost completely by surprise. But then, android 
reflexes weren't that good when pitted against something which was at 
least as fast.

She resisted but found herself responding to the other android's 
embrace. When m-Houston pulled away Joanna felt almost compelled to 

"Sorry I caught you off-guard, but I couldn't have you go through life
not knowing what it was like," said her double apologetically.

Houston replied, "That is quite alright," and returned the kiss with 
vigor. The feeling of pleasure was somewhat different, as m-Houston 
had described.

Joanna felt hands moving, traversing the course of her body, returning
eventually to tug at the front of her tight-fitting clothing. She was 
eager to continue, but some part of her mind warned her that they had 
not the time for this kind of activity. She pulled away.

"We need to find the others," she reminded her double, and set off in 
search of their unseen, unheard comrades.

                       Respectfully submitted:

                           Allan MacLennan
                 [Lt.] Angus Murray, Tac/CSO FRONTIER

                             Dale Forster
                  [Lt.] Keanu Maren, CEO FRONTIER

                            Sam M. Edwards
                  [Captain] Will Ramsay, CO FRONTIER
                 [Cmdr] Caroline Ramsay, XO FRONTIER
               [LtCmdr] Joanna Houston, 2O/tCMO FRONTIER

          "Put your faith in God, but keep your powder dry."
                           Oliver Cromwell

                 "Time is the fire in which we burn"
                          Dr. Tolian Soren                            

      "Rom's an idiot, he couldn't fix a straw if it was bent."

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