A brilliant, fiery barrage of phaser fire lanced out through space with deadly accuracy to devastate its target - Deck 1 of the U.S.S. Enterprise. As the bridge of his most hated enemy ceased to exist in a terrible conflagration, Khan Noonien Singh gaped in silent astonishment for a moment before collecting himself.
“What is the meaning of this,” Khan hissed, his rage barely in check. “I was quite clear in my targeting instructions!” Khan stabbed the all-stations comm button on the captain’s chair, sending his voice throughout U.S.S. Reliant. “Why – who fired upon Kirk directly?!”
Several decks below, in one of Reliant’s phaser control rooms, the perpetrator of that crime smiled to himself as he casually tapped the comm unit on his wrist. “Mission accomplished, Captain,” the man said softly. “One to beam up.”
The female voice on the comm unit sounded quite pleased. “Well done, Commander. We’re dropping cloak, energizing… now.”
Minutes later, Ben Walker entered the bridge of the I.S.S. Pastak, saluting his captain as he did so. “Glory to the Empire,” he said crisply. “Glory to Pastak, and glory to her captain!”
The occupant of the center chair turned to face Walker with a wide smile as the rest of the bridge crew echoed Walker’s words in salute. “Why, Benjamin,” purred Captain Nereda. “Such formality! Sucking up to the boss… are you worried you’ll lose your job as the Captain’s Male?”
“Not in the slightest,” Walker replied smugly. “I’ve decorated my quarters with the rank pips of everyone foolish enough to try and take it from me so far. I think they’ve learned who sits at your right hand.”
“Captain,” a tactical officer called out. “Looks like Enterprise is going out fighting!”
Nereda turned her attention to the viewscreen. “Ah,” she chuckled. “That would be Acting Captain Scott working another miracle in his beloved engine room, coaxing a few phaser blasts out of the old girl. Vengeance for poor lost Captain Kirk.”
“Not for much longer,” added Walker as he took his station next to Nereda. “Reliant just sent an alpha strike their way.” The viewscreen showed the last act of defiance from Enterprise before a combination of phaser and photon torpedo fire from Reliant blew the cruiser to its component atoms.
“Reliant is adjusting course, Captain,” the tactical officer said with a sneer. “They’re moving to fire on us. Orders?”
“Show Khan how cold it actually is in space,” Nereda grinned. “Then set a course for station Regula I… there’s something there I covet greatly.”
“Qo’noS is quite the… ugly planet,” mused Nereda as she regarded the Klingon homeworld from her command chair. “Don’t you think so, Doctor Marcus?”
The young human scientist, flanked by security guards, stared hatefully at the captain of the Pastak for a moment before looking at the main viewscreen.
“I’m sure the Klingons don’t think so,” David said cautiously. “Why don’t you drop your cloak and ask them?”
“How petulant you are, Doctor,” replied Nereda. “Very much like your esteemed sire… well, before my man blew him back to his maker, I suppose.” Seeing the look of rage on David’s face, Nereda chuckled and turned her attention back to Qo’noS. “Though you make an excellent suggestion – it is high time we introduced ourselves to the Klingons. Tactical – drop the cloak… now.”
Walker looked at a holographic tactical readout at the first officer’s station and smiled widely. “We’re on their planetary defense sensors now,” he said matter-of-factly. “I’m reading a number of Klingon ships closing in on our position – several hails coming in. All of them are appropriately surly and well… Klingon.”
“Of course,” Nereda replied cheerfully. “Let’s say hello, shall we?”
Walker pressed a few buttons and looked to his Captain eagerly. “It’s ready, at your command.”
David blanched, his look a mixture of horror and anguish. “Don’t,” he pleaded, held fast by his guards as he tried to approach Nereda. “Don’t do this. Please.”
“Fire,” said Nereda quietly, her voice a taunting whisper.
A single torpedo streaked forth from Pastak towards Qo’noS. Moments later, it detonated upon the surface of the Klingon homeworld, unleashing a wave of energy that slowly, inexorably, began to engulf the entire planet.
As David Marcus watched the Genesis effect at work upon the center of the Klingon Empire, a victory cheer rang out on the bridge of the Pastak.
“What’s Klingon for Terra Nova,” asked Nereda, a sneer curling her lip as she watched a new, blue world form below.
“I’m not sure, but you’re right – it does look like home,” replied Walker as he regarded the display on the viewscreen. With a look toward their prisoner and a grin, he added “I can almost see my house from here.”
“I take it what few Klingons survived the detonation got a nice long look at our lovely ship,” asked Nereda. “That, and those pristine 23rd century Federation ID codes we’ve been transmitting?”
“They have, Captain,” Walker replied smugly. “And they’re swearing all sorts of blood oaths and such over it.”
“Predictable. Tactical, engage the cloak. We’ve got better things to do than listen to bad Klingon opera in the making.”
David strained against the grip of the guards in vain, calling out to Nereda. “You’re monsters, all of you! Murderers! Are you satisfied? You just killed billions of people!”
Nereda turned, rising from her command chair to walk within arm’s reach of Marcus, the smile upon her Cardassian face sharp and venomous.
“Oh, no, Doctor,” she said mockingly, tracing a single fingertip along his jawline. “I’m not quite satisfied – not yet. You need to make another one of those lovely Genesis Torpedoes for me, and quickly… or else your beloved mother will spend some more time in an Agony Booth.”
“No,” David replied through gritted teeth. “Go to hell. I won’t do it. Never again.”
“No? Never? Need I remind you that dear Carol didn’t fare well after her last time in the booth,” Nereda’s voice took a more malevolent tone as she gripped his jaw and pulled his face upward, meeting his hateful gaze. “Another trip to the booth may very well end her. More blood on your fragile human hands. Am I understood, Doctor?”
“Yes,” David said, defeated. “You are.”
“Good. Guards, take Doctor Marcus back to his laboratory. He has a lot of work to do.”
“Welcome aboard, Commander,” Nereda said sweetly. “Or is it Senator now? I confess I haven’t heard the latest news from Romulus… we’ve been rather busy of late!”
“Senator will do,” replied her stately Romulan guest as she entered the reception area onboard the Pastak with her armed retinue. “Shall we dispense with pleasantries and formalities? We’ve much to discuss.”
“We do, indeed, Senator,” Nereda smiled as she took a seat at the head of the table, opposite the newly-arrived Romulan dignitary. “I’m proud to report that we have delivered all that you have asked of us - the destruction of Qo’noS… and the subsequent war between the Klingons and the Federation, one which you and your empire will profit from quite handsomely.”
“Yes,” the Senator replied calmly. “Romulus will wait, patiently, while the Klingons and the Federation tear themselves asunder. And when the smoke clears, only one empire shall remain. Ours.”
“Quite so,” added Nereda. “You’ll be pleased to know that we also took care of a… personal matter for you, Senator. The deaths of Admiral James T. Kirk and his Vulcan lackey.”
The Senator’s cool façade cracked momentarily before she regained it with a single arched eyebrow. “Indeed?” she said quietly.
Nereda replied by calling up footage of the battle. Enterprise was featured prominently, along with selected biosigns of her crew, the words “KIRK” and “SPOCK” among them. The Senator allowed herself a thin smile as the destruction of the Enterprise bridge appeared before her, and the two names she hated most vanished from sight.
“I understand you had a bit of a grudge against those men,” said Nereda with mock empathy. “An… embarrassing incident some years ago that cost you dearly – your ship, your commission, your political prestige.”
“Correct,” the Senator replied icily. “But with your assistance, I now have much, much more. Once you deliver the final item you promised, ‘Senator’ will not be a proper title for me. Only ‘Empress’ will do.”
Nereda leaned back in her chair with a languid smile on her face. “We’ll be delivering the package to Romulus soon enough, Senator. I think you’ll find it’s everything we promised, and more.”
At that moment, a nearby comm unit chimed for Nereda’s attention. “Speak,” she said, annoyed. “And it had better be good.”
Walker’s voice came from the comm unit speaker. “Captain, we have a problem. It’s the… package.”
“What of it?”
Nereda detected a tone of concern in Walker’s voice when he responded. “It… it’s active, Captain. It’s coming online. Now.”
As the Senator looked on quietly, Nereda hailed the source of her annoyance. “Nereda to Research Lab 1,” she said briskly. “Doctor Marcus, whatever mischief have you gotten yourself into this time, hmm?”
“Hello, Captain,” The defiant voice of David Marcus came back through the comm speaker. “I regret to inform you that our… collaboration has come to an end. No doubt your sensors are picking up an accelerated Genesis wave by now.”
“Come now, Doctor,” Nereda replied sharply as she rose from her chair. “Your weapon has a four-minute countdown. That’s more than enough time for my engineers to dismantle it… after they dismantle you.”
“You’re assuming I didn’t alter the length of the countdown, Captain,” Marcus replied quietly. “That’ll be your last mistake.”
Nereda looked downward for a moment, smiling to herself. “So you are your father’s son, after all.”
“You slaughtered billions of people with my work. Billions. There’s no way I’ll let you or the Romulans take billions more. “
Nereda heard Walker’s frantic voice over comms as she sat down once more. “Security to Research Lab 1! Repeat, Security to Research Lab 1!”
David Marcus closed his eyes. “Forgive me, mother.”
The last Genesis device detonated.
The Holodeck returned to its neutral settings, leaving a shaken Benjamin Walker and Nereda standing in its center to regain their composure.
“Well, that was horrid,” Nereda mumbled, looking at Walker with a shiver. “It appears our Mirror Universe counterparts are quite the reprehensible pair.”
“Yes,” Walker agreed. “And I’ll thank you to keep your ‘Captain’s Male’ comments to yourself, if you don’t mind.”
Nereda managed a smile at that. “Oh, I’ll be filing that one away for a very special occasion, I think.”
The two officers walked together, exiting the holodeck in silence. After a few moments, Nereda spoke up. “So, is that nightmare our next assignment – stopping our genocidal doppelgangers?”
“Thankfully, no,” Walker replied. “Vakek’s people handled it last week. Reliant… Genesis… David Marcus… all of it happened as history recorded it.”
“Then why the sim? Why did we have to watch… ourselves do such horrible things, Ben?”
Walker paused for a moment in the corridor, looking at his first officer intently, apologetically. “They wanted us to realize that a new player is on the board, a player that might be wearing our own faces. They need us to be prepared for anything out there.”
“Wonderful,” she muttered in response. “Now there are temporal agents out to manipulate the timeline to achieve selfish, murderous goals. Sometimes I wish someone would crack that mirror for good.”
“Empires fall in time,” Walker replied calmly. “Even the Terran Empire.”
“Not fast enough,” Nereda said. “Come on. After that, I need something a little stronger than raktajino.”
“First round’s on me, Commander.”
Star Trek Online
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