DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2002 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.
THE ALTERNATIVE FACTOR: FACE IN THE MIRROR
Stardate: 3088.1, Personal Log. First Officer Spock recording.
We are lying off Tholian space, careful to observe the meticulously worked out boundaries drawn up between the Federation and the Tholian Assembly. The Tholians are notoriously touchy about the area of space they claim and will tolerate no encroachment whatsoever. However, as long as we observe the border, we are free to operate and explore on our side of the imaginary line. This area is nearly uncharted, although a few systems have been identified and contacted. We are not far from Halka, which has been tagged by the Federation for further contact.
Starfleet would very much like a base in this area. Star Base 200 is the closest and it is nothing more than a pressure dome and underground facility drilled into an oversized asteroid. The last time we put in there, I heard one technician refer to it as the "ass end of space." An over-emotional description, but one I would tend to sympathize with, were I unfortunate enough to be posted there.
Our purpose at this time, however, has been charting the various systems in the area. All have been uninhabited or unsuitable for human life. The planet we had just charted was by far the most remarkable in that it was Class L and could be terraformed to support humans. Barren and arid, but with an oxygen-hydrogen atmosphere, earth-normal gravity, and the potential to transform the atmospheric gases of H and O into H2O -- water.
It was here that we encountered a previously unknown phenomenon. While doing a routine survey, we were subjected to the intrusion of a parallel universe into our own, the first time there has been confirmation of the theories that have stretched back to Albert Einstein and Sefrak of Gol. While physicists have postulated for hundreds of years the possibility of duplicate dimensions, there had never been a way to prove it through empirical science.
The strange being, Lazarus, whom we discovered on the planet's surface, proved to be the catalyst to our partial understanding of the circumstance. Captain Kirk was inadvertently sent through to the other universe , where he met Lazarus' counterpart. This man imparted a good bit of information in the few minutes they were together and the Captain is now writing his report to Star Fleet Command. Undoubtedly, a Federation science team will be dispatched here in short order to study this amazing occurrence.
It has given many of us pause as we consider the implications of a parallel dimension in which an identical, anti-matter version of a person can exist. If there can be two of Lazarus, does it follow then that there can be two of all of us? Is there another Earth there? Another Vulcan? Is there another Federation of Planets and another Star Fleet? Does another Enterprise sail the stars, manned by another Captain Kirk? Another Dr. McCoy?
Another ... Spock?
I rise and go into the washroom, standing before the mirror for a long time, observing my face as if I had never seen it before. What is he like, this other Spock? Are the details of his life identical to mine, or has his life been substantially different? Did he choose the stars or stay on Vulcan? Oppose his father's wishes or behave in proper filial manner? Does he love his mother? Does he look forward in anticipation to his koon-ut ceremony with T'Pring ... or dread it as I do?
And does T'Pring even exist there? Perhaps he is bonded to another with whom he would be more suited. Perhaps even a human woman, for perhaps this other Spock chose the way of Earth rather than of Vulcan. Perhaps his mate even serves on the ship with him.
The face of Christine Chapel flashes through my mind, but then I wonder -- what is she like there? The two Lazaruses were so very different, almost totally opposite. Here, Chapel is kind, caring and efficient. There, would she be cruel, self-centered and slovenly? I find it difficult to imagine such a thing, but--
Enough of this pointless speculation. There is no proof that any of this exists. It is likely that Lazarus was merely an aberration and it was this aberration that caused the "winking out" effect that affected us all. Now that the magnetic corridor to the anti-matter universe has been sealed, there is a high probability that such an occurrence will never happen again.
I am due on the bridge in fourteen point two three minutes. I must shower and dress. I also must shave, for the depilatory I use is due for renewal.
As I squeeze a bit of the warm orange gel into my palm, I pause and gaze once more at my face in the mirror.
I wonder how I would look with a beard?