Subject: FRONTIER: The Wide-Awake Show

SD 71104

> Then he said to Houston, "You're not Beverley."

"Indeed not," replied Joanna, looking almost as baffled as he. "I am 
Lt.Cmdr Joanna Houston of the starship Frontier. My companion is from 
an alternate universe similar to ours. May I ask who you are sir?"

"Commodore William T. Riker," he replied, his look of puzzlement not 
dissipating. "I've never heard of any ship named the Frontier. Are you

"Officially the Frontier does not exist, Commodore. We're working 
outside our juresdiction," replied Houston.

He grinned and said, "What a coincidence."

"There is something more you should know. According to the computer, 
you have been suspended for twenty-six years four months."

"Ah. Twenty-six years and three months too many," he mused. "So, what 
does history record happened to me?"

After an indiscernable pause, Joanna replied, "You have been listed as
missing in action, Commodore."

"Typical. What of the good doctor?" He noted the no-recognition look 
in Joanna's eyes and added, "Dr. Beverley Crusher. I thought you were 
her until I started to see properly. Same hair."

"Also listed as MIA, sir. I assume she was to recover you from this 

"That's right." He stood from the chamber, testing his legs gingerly. 
He took in their unusual attire and commented, "Starfleet really likes
you covert groups to dress for the occasion, huh?"

m-Joanna replied, "Actually, this was Q's doing. He has fine taste in 
clothes but these really aren't suitable for this climate."

Riker sighed. "So Q is here as well. Great. I bet I'm even on the 
wrong planet - Quarakis IV is a tropical world. Might explain why the 
rest of the shuttle isn't here." He turned, surveying the cavern of 
trees which afforded little illumination. "Can we get out of here? My 
eyes are starting to hurt."

Houston was about to reply when she noticed a gap in the trees that 
had not existed previously. She pointed and said, "I believe that is 
the exit."

"I think you're right," replied m-Joanna.

Riker paused for a moment, still uncertain of the twins, and asked 
Joanna, "Am I missing something here? You seem a little... cold?"

She looked blankly at him then replied, "My body temperature is 
regulated by a series of minute exothermic chemical reactions. The 
mechanism is most efficient-"

"You're an android?" inquired Riker incredulously.

"Both of us," replied m-Joanna. She turned and headed for the doorway,
Joanna following.

Riker scratched his beard, starting after them. "They sure have come a
long way since Data. You had me fooled completely." He grinned, 
recalling Data's daughter, Lal. "So, what relation are you to him? I 
imagine he must have quite an extensive family by now."

"I was created by Dr. Bruce Maddox in a Starfleet laboratory, after 
the loss of the USS Integrity and Data, her captain," she said. "Data 
also constructed an android son, Link, who achieved spontaneous 
activation. He is currently serving aboard the USS Saracen, although  
my records are starting to fall out of date - we have not been in 
contact with Starfleet for several days."

Riker asked the question he had been burning to ask since Joanna 
mentioned Data's disappearance. "How was the Integrity lost?"

"We cannot be certain. The ship was on a lengthy mission to 
investigate various nebulae, and a search of all the systems on their 
schedule would have taken Starfleet twenty-nine ships and three years 
to complete-"

"And there still wouldn't be any guarantee that they'd find even the 
commemoration plaque," filled in Riker gloomily. They walked in 
silence for a time, then he asked m-Joanna, "So what's this deal with 
a parallel universe? Anything I should know about?"

She looked at him as if he were a complete fool. "You should know a 
great deal. You were involved in the second crossover, weren't you?"

"Second crossover? You mean-"

"She is from that which we call the mirror universe, Commodore," 
interrupted Houston. "A temporary truce has been called between the 
two Frontier crews, however the previous incursions are recurring."

"I thought Starfleet was going to put defences in place to prevent 
just that," said Riker.

"Sabotaged from within the Admiralty, sir. We have no idea who it is."

Riker turned and shot Joanna's double a questioning glance.

"I'm sure you might recall that our society works differently. On a 
need-to-know basis. And most of us 'don't need to know', if you want 
any information you're better off talking to the captain."

He nodded in agreement and continued to walk. "So, Q's marooned you 
here for some game of his? Why?"

"We owed him a favour. He prevented the warp core breach on the mirror
Frontier, caused by us," replied Houston.

"I get it. Their ship blows up, the mass can't go back to the right 
universe, and eventually space-time gets completely screwed up. But of
course, it's not just your fault for firing... every time they make 
the transition things get worse, even though going back through 
straightens things up to nearly normal."

"The main reason for the renewed activity was the loss of resources 
the Empire suffered in reconquering the Klingons. They put up such a 
fight this time that they've been accepted as equals on our side. And 
things just get worse day by day," recalled m-Houston.

"Worf wasn't a big enough lever then," commented Riker.

"The tension, especially since the failed incursions, has led to 
several ships defecting. The Regent was not alone and not the first, 
but none have escaped our universe for long. A concerted rebellion 
within the Fleet, however, would put freedom into the hands of 
countless billions of Empire 'citizens'. If there were to be any 
success in overthrowing the current ruling system, we'd need help."

"Prime Directive. No interference in other cultures," Riker said. 
"Although if we put your case to the Federation High Council they 
might at least consider it an option. I mean, we would stand to gain a
lot from a fairer rule in your universe. Like peace of mind."

"There is a fair chance that the Council has also been infiltrated," 
added Houston. "Someone working within the Admiralty to sabotage our 
defences would need a contact there for backup."

"That's pretty much the case," replied m-Houston. "Your entire galaxy
has been seeded with spies in an effort to understand those we wish to
conquer. It's no surprise that the Empire's surveillance program is 
deemed 'paranoid' by many in the Fleet."

The trees were thinning now as they walked down the seemingly-unending
corridor. At once Joanna could hear the distant sounds of troops 
marching. She motioned for them to be cautious, listened intently, 
strained to glimpse the passing army.

The corridor opened out into a large grassland area less than a 
hundred metres ahead. They stopped at the end, and watched the mighty 
'Tcharian army returning from battle, troops massing to cross a 
drawbridge into a massive castle. They all looked very tired and worn,
so much so that they didn't seem to notice the trio gaping at them.

"I think some of our answers must be in there," said Riker after the 
warriors were out of earshot.

This is the same gothic castle that our intrepid Trills and their 
companions are trapped in. Sometime during the night still - that's 
why we're seeing the troops marching back to the castle.

                       Respectfully submitted:

                            Sam M. Edwards
               [LtCmdr] Joanna Houston, aXO/tCMO FRONTIER
          guest appearance by Commodore William Thomas Riker

  "The next time you go over my head, I'll have yours on a platter."
                       Commander Benjamin Sisko

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