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) 2006 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.

MIRROR, MIRROR: SPLINTERED LOOKING GLASS

Cheree Cargill

Stardate: 3462.5, Personal Log, First Officer Spock recording.

Halka falls behind us as we head for Pollux on our next assignment - mapping. The negotiations team has arrived on the Ticonderoga to attempt to establish trade relations with the Halkans, ideally for their dilithium crystals. It is important that the Federation initiate a presence on this planet in order to protect both the mineral resources and the Halkans themselves. The Klingons will not bother to trade. They will simply take what they want, much as the Imperial crew in the other universe would do.

I stand before the mirror in my bathroom and prepare for my duty shift. Having showered, I peer at my reflection and ponder the shadow on my cheeks and chin. Time to shave. The depilatory gel I use inhibits the growth of facial hair but the ritual must still be performed approximately once a week. A necessary grooming chore. I have seen various male members of the crew sporting regulation beards and mustaches, but I choose to remain clean-shaven. It seems more appropriate for the senior officers to appear that way, although I cannot think of a logical reason why that should be so.

In any case, I have time this morning for the procedure. My plans for today are simply to continue with deciphering the computer download I managed to snatch during the beamover of our people from the parallel universe and the transfer back of our ... guests to theirs.

The information I have gained so far is quite disturbing but explains their behavior. Their universe is incredibly violent and has been as far back as I have been able to trace it. Their history shows a close echo to our own, but with significant differences. I have managed to isolate the source of the differences and have begun to follow it back. This is not so much a parallel universe as a split in the timeline, much as the Captain and I discovered in our trip back in time through the Guardian of Forever. In fact, I have an uncomfortable feeling that our interaction with others in that time - or possibly something else that Dr. McCoy did or didn't do - changed the progress of time. We may have not been as successful as we thought in putting things back the way there should have been. Time is a very tricky thing to deal with. A butterfly's wingbeat in China might cause a cascade effect that prevents the rain from falling in New York. Or at least that is the theory, as I have heard it. I am not certain that time is that mutable.

However, I have uncovered significant differences and the point of divergence seems to be July 16, 1945, which was the date that Humans detonated their first atomic device. As far as I can determine, the artificial fission of the atoms in the bomb caused an undetectable fracture in the space-time continuum as well, something unknown to the scientists of the time. They had no idea how dangerous were the forces with which they were working. Each nuclear reaction that was generated over the next 100 years apparently eroded the fabric of space a bit more and widened the time gap. I have reason to believe that the process continues today with the use of warp technology, but I have no proof. It is something that I will have to devote more study.

But I digress. As I said, the split in the timeline apparently occurred with the Trinity detonation and continued to widen during the 1950's as more powerful and more numerous atomic tests occurred.

The first significant historic event of difference that I have found occurred in 1963 with the assault on President Kennedy. In the other timeline, he was killed. He did not live to continue the head-to-head standoff with the Russians. Moreover, he was not succeeded in 1968 by his younger brother, who was himself assassinated in the escalating violence of the 1960's in that other universe. In our own history, orbital nuclear platforms were launched that year and eugenics programs around the world were seeing the first crop of children from their breeding programs. In the parallel universe, the focus was on the escalating war in Southeast Asia.

That war dragged on for a number of years and the world political situation continued to erode as United States clandestine involvement in various governments went on through the course of various, increasingly conservative and nationalistic administrations.

Their space program was also affected. After a promising start in the 1960's that culminated with several moon landings, funding was diverted into numerous wars and military programs. Space exploration became almost an afterthought, unless its successes could be used for military purposes. By 2001, when there should have been regular passenger service to the lunar colonies and advance bases on Mars, in that timelime there was only a small space station being served by a tiny, out of date shuttle fleet that was rapidly deteriorating.

I have discovered that the Eugenics Wars of the 1990's never happened. If Khan Noonian Singh and the other "supermen" existed there, they never took over their respective countries as they did in our history. There were plenty of petty dictators, to be sure, and genocidal wars were common in Asia, Africa and South America, but there was no "superior-bred super-race" to bring about the near downfall of civilization following World War III.

Instead, that dark period of the 21st Century came about by the Terror Wars that began in the closing decades of the 20th Century by various radical Islamic groups. They were isolated events until September 11, 2001, when several coordinated attacks were launched against the United States. Thousands of people were killed and the United States and its allies struck back at responsible terror groups and their sponsoring governments. Attacks were launched by the Islamist radicals against Britain, Spain, France, Israel and other allied nations. Those nations retaliated in kind.

Terrorist attacks became bolder and more frequent until early in 2008 when two events occurred almost simultaneously - the current Pope was assassinated by a Pakistani suicide bomber while on a peace mission to New Delhi, and Jerusalem was bombed during an invasion of Israel by several Arab countries. A number of religiously important locations were destroyed.

In quick response, Mecca was bombed by Israeli forces, India and Pakistan exchanged nuclear strikes, several predominantly Catholic countries declared war on various predominantly Muslim countries, followed by other sympathetic Christian and Muslim countries, and in short order, World War III had erupted in that timeline. It ended in almost literal Armageddon as nuclear bombs were used to obliterate those enemies who did not possess them.

It didn't last long, fortunately, and as the worldwide economy teetered on complete collapse and the planet slipped into a brief "nuclear winter" that devastated crops and caused general starvation around the globe, the Vulcans and other members of worlds in the general galactic vicinity could only stand by and watch, prevented by their own laws from interfering. At this point in both timelines, First Contact had not yet occurred and, in both universes, Earth was still a pre-warp civilization.

In both, however, Zephram Cochrane had begun work on his theories of warp drive and was developing the Phoenx at an abandoned missile base in Montana. With his successful first flight on April 5, 2063, however, there was soon to be a radical divergence from the timeline in our own universe.

When First Contact occurred here, the Vulcans were welcomed and Earth entered into a new age, helped into a wider universe by the older space-faring worlds. Ultimately, this culminated in the formation of the Federation, reform on Vulcan with a return to Surak's Tenets, more broadly reaching exploration of the Alpha Quadrant, and finally to the mission of this starship on which I serve.

In the other universe, the Vulcans were greeted as invaders by the much more violent Humans, still suffering the distrust and paranoia of their more recent world war. The Vulcan captain was shot dead by Zephram Cochrane, who led his followers in commandeering the Vulcan ship and massacring the other crewmembers. The primitive Phoenix was abandoned in favor of the stolen Vulcan ship and Cochrane had soon "reverse engineered" the advanced technology and Humans were on their way to invade the planet Vulcan.

In January 2155, there is a major anomaly in the history tapes that I downloaded from the Imperial Enterprise. Somehow, technology took a quantum leap. There is mention of a ship called the Defiant that bears a terrible resemblance to a Constellation-class starship of our own time. This should have been over a century away from their capabilities and I have not discovered how such a ship could possibly exist in the 22nd Century of either timeline. The USS Defiant, one of our sister ships, is currently on patrol in the Tholian Sector, just as she should be. This puzzle is part of my research scheduled for today.

Whatever led that ship into the past, it resulted in a major change. Captained by Jonathan Archer, one of the founders of the Federation and a hero in our own history, the mysterious Defiant with its vastly superior technology was used to establish the Terran Empire there and spread through military force and ruthless barbarism the appalling cruelty shown in that universe parallel to ours.

How strange and tragic that runaway aggression, foolish meddling in the governmental affairs of others, and mindless religious fundamentalism should ultimately result in a universe so similar to, yet so different from, our own. I must say that I much prefer the world in which I live, no matter its faults and imperfections!

But time - and I cannot help a quiet smile at my own expense - time is getting away from me. I must prepare for my duty shift. I must hurry if I am to remain on schedule.

I squeeze out depilatory gel into my hand and prepare to apply it to my lower face. Then, for a moment, I pause and study my reflection in the mirror appraisingly.

I wonder how I would look with a beard.

THE END