"Certain Futures"

The captain was sitting in his captain's chair. He liked the feel of it. He worked very hard for it. In dry dock, the USS Knutson was about to receive its first mission.

"Captain," the helmsman stated, "we are receiving a transmission from Star Fleet Command."

Slowly ready, Captain Sam Willis said, "Put them on screen."

The Baker Class vessel manifested a Star Fleet captain on the screen. He obviously was a Star Fleet veteran – it was in his presence.

"Captain Willis, are you there?" the captain said. "This is Star Fleet. We have no time to talk. A civilian craft is in danger in uncharted space near the Klingon border. You will investigate."

"No problem," Sam said. "We'll need the coordinates."

"Right," the man on the screen said. "The journey should take you six hours. I hope you're not going into battle but be prepared."

"Yes, sir," the captain said ending the transmission. "Helmsman, get the crew to their stations and prepare to leave dry dock. I'll get the first officer personally."

"Commander Soyuz usually spends this time of day in the gym," Helmsman Rich Schroeder said. The captain headed that way.

In the gym, Commander Veronica Soyuz, the chief engineer, was working out on a Stairmaster. She was approached by the new captain. He folded his hands behind his back and said, "Hello (in German)."

"Yeah, I can speak German, too," she responded towel in hand. "Can you tell me why I'm the only one in this gym?"

"An emergency has arisen," the captain said.

"Obviously," she stated.

Reminded of his authority, he said, "Have I done something wrong?"

Getting off the equipment, she said, "I've read your history, Captain. Your Star Fleet service has been mediocre, at best. I don't see how you are the captain of this prototype."

"So why did you choose this duty post, Commander?" the captain had to ask.

"Because, on your Cadet Cruise, you were second to none," she bluntly said making her way out the door with her towel thrown over her shoulder. He was confused.

On the civilian craft, the captain beamed over with the security chief, Tomas Bachman. With phasers drawn, they slowly trekked through the ship.

The lieutenant said, "It looks like the crew is dead."

Phaser in hand, Sam said, "I want to know everything about this ship."

Time passed as they made their way to the cargo hold. Tom said, "It is a Lotus Flower Class freighter. It was carrying dilithium crystals."

"That means it was attacked by Klingons," the captain quickly deduced.

"Yes, sir," he said.

Just then, a noise came from above. The two of them were alerted. Then a Klingon soldier jumped on the lieutenant. They were struggling when he yelled, "Blast it, Captain!"

He did not hesitate. The Klingon was vaporized. Sam Willis, the captain of the Knutson, was thinking of his ship hovering within range, "We have to head to the bridge."

They turned on the main viewer. Commander Soyuz was in the captain's chair of the Baker Class vessel, "Yes, Captain?"

"We believe Klingons are in the area. We were attacked by one," the captain explained.

"We'll beam you aboard and—"

A Klingon Bird of Prey decloacked and opened fire on the Knutson.

"No!" the captain cried. He witnessed the Knutson disengage behind a nearby planet with its prototype impulse engines.

Captain Willis had an idea. He opened a channel to the Klingon scout ship, "This is Star Fleet Captain Samuel Willis. We have your Klingon soldier. I wonder if a deal would be out of the question."

"Futile, Captain," the Klingon captain replied. "That officer was a coward. Kill him. He means nothing to us."

The captain inquired, "Who is this?"

"I am Captain Korn," he smiled. "It seems your ship is of cowards, too, since they can be frightened so quickly."

There was a pause.

"They are no longer on our sensors!" the Klingon ended with unending laughter.

Time passed. After the fun was over, the Klingon captain, Korn, ordered photon torpedoes armed. They were about to kill Sam Willis. He showed genuine fear. Then, unexpectedly, the Knutson reappeared from the dark side of the planet. The captain suspected as much – it could not be sensed because the planet obscured their warp signature. The first officer appeared on the view screen.

"Captain," she started, "they crippled our warp drive, but like I said, this is a prototype."

The captain could see the bridge crew struggling on the Bird of Prey. It was taking too much damage. It exploded.

Silence followed.

The captain broke it, "Prepare to beam the dead from this ship and tow it back to Jupiter station where we will need repair."

"But, sir," she said, "we only have impulse."

"I guess it will be a cruise," he smiled.

She understood. His orders were carried out, and they had completed the bare bones of the mission. They began the six-month journey home.

The Knutson was on its way, but it was taking too long. The crew was getting impatient. Commander Soyuz, the chief engineer, had a plan. The captain joined her in engineering.

"So what's the plan?" he said.

"Well, like I said before," Veronica stated, "the plan is to jump-start one of the engines by only using its functioning parts."

"Why only one engine?" the captain asked.

She looked at him, "In case it doesn't work."

At the main console, she shouted out to her young assistant, "Alright, let's get this show on the road!"

"Yes, sir," he replied in the background. This put a smile on her face as she started the engines.

Something went wrong. The red alert klaxons sounded. The captain flipped open his communicator to contact the bridge, "What is happening up there?"

Velax, the Vulcan science officer, was sitting in the captain's chair. He very calmly said, "We are in a wormhole, sir."

The chief engineer struggled to another console, "We have to jettison the engine before the ship explodes!"

The captain instinctively jumped to the main engineering console, "Velax!"

Veronica did her duty. She jettisoned the warp engine they were using. It exploded throwing them out of the wormhole, "Got it!"

At the same time, the main engineering station exploded injuring the captain. The first officer ran to his aid. She picked up his communicator and contacted the doctor, "John Simon, report to engineering, immediately."

The bridge called, "Well, I'd say it was a nice try, but we have lost a warp engine and the ship we were tractor beaming."

"Damage report," she said.

"Negligible," Velax said. "But there is something here you must see."

On the view screen, a mirror self of the Vulcan science officer was just as confused as they were. Velax gave up the bridge to the first officer. Silence followed.

Then the Vulcan on the screen said, "This is the ISS Knutson. I am its commander, Velax. We know you come in peace."

Commander Soyuz asked, "Do you? Because, according to our reports, the mirror universe is at war with us."

Velax responded, "We are at war with ourselves. I've just got to ask one question."

"What?" the commander asked.

"Could you help us defeat the Terran Empire?"

He paused. Then he tried to explain, "Our civil war, led by Spock, has left the Empire defenseless. We need more ships to fight the Klingons and—"

The commander interrupted, "It is not our place to interfere, but we will send you medical supplies."

"Thank you," the evil Velax replied. "And it is good to know I'm a captain in your universe."

The message ended. Veronica was sickened. She said, "Let's get the hell out of here."

Back in engineering, Commander Soyuz was going to create another wormhole to get them back to their universe. She could not help but think of her captain in sick bay.

Velax, on the bridge, signaled ready, "We're ready. The red alert klaxons should not go off this time, though."

"Full speed!" she commanded.

"Almost at breaking point, sir!" her assistant shouted ready to jettison the second warp engine.

They looked at each other.

"Now!" the commander said at the last minute.

They were thrown out of the wormhole they themselves created. They went at tremendous speeds. After she checked their position, she contacted sick bay, "Doctor Simon, are you there?"

"Yes, and I will have you know, I'm quite sickened by this vessel's performance," the crusty doctor said with his best impersonation of Doctor McCoy.

"Let me speak to the captain," she demanded.

"Yeah," the doctor complied.

"What's up?" the recovered captain asked.

"You're not going to believe this, but the wormhole propelled us home," she said triumphantly.

Then the captain said, "Stop doing this to me. You know I can't promote you."

The ship was home. No lives were lost on this mission, and they'd found status on their counterparts in the mirror universe.

The captain and the first officer of the Knutson were in the office of Captain Shawn Alexander at Star Fleet Headquarters. They were being chewed out. All they could do was stand at attention and take it.

"Could you two tell me why you finished your first mission with only half a ship?" the Star Fleet captain asked.

"It was because of measures beyond our control," the first officer said.

"I read your report," the captain said. "I just don't like it. It's not like we can just replicate warp engines when we need them."

Captain Willis said, "We'll make it up to you."

"I know you will," he paused. "The wormhole you created left a tear in space. All Baker Class ships are being refitted with better photon torpedoes. You will use them to destroy your target."

"Thank you, sir," the two of them said. They started their way out of the office.

The Headquarters captain told them, "It's very good you guys didn't lose anyone."

The Baker Class Knutson arrived at the known location of the rip in space.

"Where is this thing we're looking for?" the captain asked his bridge crew. "We've been out here for almost an hour."

Velax, working hard at his console, replied, "And we've just about…got it."

The captain ordered, "Rich, let's see what these new torpedoes can do."

On the view screen, the torpedoes travelled until they exploded. The invisible tear in space had been defeated. Captain Willis retired to his captain's chair.

A moment passed. Then the communications officer, Jen Parker, received a message from Star Fleet, "Captain, we are being ordered to the Klingon Neutral Zone."

"Where?" the captain asked.

Jen hesitated, "The planet Obasa. A fleet battle has happened there. It could mean war."

"Red alert," the captain ordered. "All crew to battle stations. Prepare the engines for full speed."

The klaxons went off. Commander Soyuz gave an objectioning look to the captain. He did not see it.

At the sight of the battle, debris of Federation ships were over the planet. The captain put his head in his hands. Then two Klingon Great Birds decloaked at point-blank range.

"Captain," the communications officer stated, "we are being hailed by the Klingon commander."

"Put them on screen," the captain simply said.

An image of an Imperial Klingon appeared on the screen, "This is Captain Zakan. We are in a state of war with the Federation."

"But why?" the captain had to ask.

"One of your Star Fleet ships entered the Neutral Zone and declared war on us," the captain explained.

"That's not possible," the captain replied.

The captain on the screen sat back in his chair and commanded, "You are outgunned many times over. You will surrender your ship in one hour or be destroyed."

Captain Willis knew what to do. After the message ended, he told his crew, "Prepare to activate the self-destruct system."

The clock was ticking. The crew was sweaty. In less than a minute, the three vessels over Obasa would be destroyed. This got the captain to thinking, "Commander Soyuz, is it possible mirror universe ships could have entered this universe through the rift we destroyed?"

"Yes," she said wiping a tear from her eye, "but try telling the Klingons that."

Suddenly, the unexpected happened. The USS Excelsior came out of warp, firing phasers.

"Cancel self-destruct!" the captain immediately ordered. It was true the Knutson was no match for two Klingon Great Birds, but they were no match for the Excelsior.

Captain Styles manifested on the screen, "You owe me one, Sam."

Cheers filled the bridge as Captain Willis ordered, "Take us about."

The two Great Birds didn't last long. When they exploded, the Knutson captain had to admit to another screw up, "Captain Styles, I think we should talk about a possible new threat to the Federation."

On the USS Excelsior, the two captains, Styles and Willis, were in the main lounge. Willis had to explain something very important to him, and it was very intimidating having to do it on a ship so luxurious.

Captain Styles asked, "So what could this possible threat be to the Federation?"

"Yesterday," the captain began, "the Knutson left dry dock to destroy a rip in the fabric of space. It was possible a Federation starship from the mirror universe came through it. We think it entered Klingon space for some reason."

Captain Styles was furious but controlled his rage. He simply got up and moved to an intercom, "Bridge, contact Star Fleet Command. I'm taking command of the fleet. Have all available ships meet this destination."

"Yes, sir," the communications officer stated.

He looked at Sam, "Your ship will monitor the Neutral Zone. Not many Klingons will buy our story about a rip in space."

Just then, they could see a Bird of Prey decloaking out the window. The two captains ran to the bridge to take action.

The battle was over by the time they got to the bridge. The Knutson destroyed the vessel. Commander Soyuz hailed the Excelsior, "We have discovered something, Captain. The Klingons are monitoring all communications near the entire Neutral Zone. I think we are in total war."

Captain Styles turned to his communications officer, "Scan the area. I want to know all about their fleet movements."

At her console, she said, "There is a mass of Klingon ships twenty light years ahead."

"How many?" he asked.

"Eleven," she grimly stated. "They're not even bothering to cloak themselves."

The captain's heart sunk. The battle that they were talking about would be the worst in Star Fleet history. They simply weren't ready.

Captain Sam Willis had to speak to his first officer, "Captain Styles, open a channel to my ship. I want to speak to my first officer."

"No, Sam," he ordered, "the Klingons are listening."

"She knows German," the captain said. It was an interesting idea, speaking in code. The captain nodded and signaled the okay to open a channel.

"Knutson," he started, "if you can hear this, please respond in German (in German)."

Commander Soyuz paused, "Yes, Captain (in German)?"

"I must beam to the planet Obasa. I will take with me the helmsman, the security chief and the communications officer. The colonists will have problems with the Klingons (in German)," the captain explained.

"What will we do (in German)?" she asked.

"Mind the border (in German)," he said.

Captain Styles asked shaking his hand, "What did you say?"

Sam said, "I repeated your orders and asked them to beam me to the planet."

"Good luck," Styles said.

The captain and his landing party made it to the planet quickly. The Excelsior would remain in orbit awaiting the fleet.

Sam Willis beamed into the office of the head of the Obasa colony. He was recognized from when he was in Colonial Operations Command. He was glad to see his old friend, "Sam, is that you?"

"Zack," a face of recognition said, "you're in charge down here?"

"Yes," Zack Smith said, "and we have problems. A small band of Klingons beamed down yesterday, and they plan to attack."

"Do you have any weapons?" the captain asked.

"Just you," he replied.

Captain Willis smiled, "Well, you're in luck. The Excelsior is in orbit, and more ships are on the way."

"Is this a war?" he asked.

Sam frowned, "I wish you didn't ask me that. We are here to prevent a war."

Zack smiled, "Sounds like Star Fleet to me."

The landing party was to battle the Klingons, but they would sit around until they had a plan. They took this time to relax.

The landing party found the source of the Klingons.

"Schroeder," the captain employed, "get your head farther down."

"What's the plan?" the helmsman asked.

The captain simply flipped open his communicator and spoke into it, "Excelsior, prepare to beam the Klingon force directly to your brig."

Before them was a deep cave with guards. Outside of it was a portable shield generator. The captain nodded to Security Chief Tom Bachman. He blasted the generator, and Captain Willis promptly said, "Now."

The Klingons were dealt with. They were now prisoners of the Federation. The landing party returned to the colony victorious.

On the USS Excelsior, further scans revealed something. The communications officer spoke up, "Closer scans coming in, Captain."

"What does it reveal?" he promptly asked.

"A Federation starship is at the heart of the Klingon fleet," she said not believing her own words.

Styles moved in closer and said, "It's a mirror universe vessel. Looks like the ISS Knutson."

"Yes, sir."

He realized their plan, "No more time for games. Beam up the landing party as soon as the Federation support arrives."

"Something else, sir," the communications officer said. "The Knutson of our universe is not where it's supposed to be."

"Locate," Captain Styles ordered. This was growing tiresome for him. This war simply had too many mysteries. He bottled up his anger as he just sat in his captain's chair.

On the planet below, the landing party was having a wild celebration. The captain did not drink booze often, but he felt it was the right time.

This was interrupted.

"Captain," Jen said, "we have a message from Styles for you."

He took her communicator, "Yes?"

"You're not going to believe this," Excelsior noted. This was something Sam had heard before. He knew it was not good news. He walked off into the woods.

"Please give me good news," he said fearing the worst.

"I wish it was, Captain," the Excelsior paused but had to say it. "Your ship has been destroyed."

"How?" he replied.

There was a silence. Then Styles said, "Your first officer went all-noble and tried to explain to them, the Klingons, that the ship that violated their space was a mirror copy of yours."

"So?" the captain had to ask.

"The mirror universe Knutson is at the heart of their fleet. And it's growing," he said. "I'm sorry."

Sam Willis decided to return to the party and not tell his remaining crew 'til it was over. He would tell them later.

It was morning on Obasa. He was speaking to Zack, his old friend. Sam lost his ship and his crew. He was thinking about retirement.

"I quit," the captain said in Zack's office.

Drinking water, Zack told him, "Hey, don't tell me, man. Tell Star Fleet."

"Did you hear what I said?" he insisted. "Three hundred people are dead. How could I look myself in the mirror?"

"Get revenge," Zack said.

Sam smiled. He was changing, and he didn't know if he could control it, "That is the most profound thing I've ever heard in my life."

Then he left.

Captain Willis was on the bridge of the Excelsior, and something surprising happened. Captain Styles told him, "I can imagine how you must feel, Sam. I would like you to command this ship in my stead."

"Sir?" the captain said.

"I would be honored if you found your revenge with this ship," he continued.

"What about you?" Sam Willis asked.

"I have a fleet to run," he responded. "I will be at the command bridge."

He walked off making Captain Sam Willis very powerful. A fleet of six cruisers and frigates were behind him. With victory in sight, he commanded, "Enter the Neutral Zone at my command."

He sat in the most powerful chair in the Federation. He had a dark smile.

They arrived in Klingon space. The two fleets were staring each other down. Then the commander of the mirror universe Baker Class Knutson contacted them, "This is Velax."

It was an image that seemed to only anger the survivors of the Knutson that was destroyed.

"We simply wish to take this fleet of Klingon volunteers to the rift in space we entered in. We will leave in peace," the Vulcan said.

"You have to fight me for your demands," the captain quickly said. He could have told the truth and said the rift no longer existed, but that would take away from the fun of killing him.

"You are no match for my superior intellect, fool," he said with an evil laugh. "But I accept. Choose your weapon."

The captain chose, "Death by shuttlecraft."

"Good," the Vulcan, Velax, said. "If you win, the war is over. And I can guaranty that."

The message was over. This gave Sam the upper hand. The Excelsior had many shuttles to choose from. He left the bridge.

A tactical report was on the main viewer on the bridge. They could see the attacking shuttle, Challenger, and Sam's shuttle, Brink, making their way to each other.

"Why did he choose a shuttle with only one engine?" Rich asked Jen.

"I don't know," she said in response. It appeared the Challenger was staying put – firing phasers – but was missing.

"He must be targeting the captain's phaser weapon," Tomas said. "He is missing so closely."

Then he hit it. Jen Parker cried out, "It's all over!"

Then Captain Sam Willis, without a phaser, headed on a direct course towards the stationary shuttle.

"What is he doing?" Rich asked himself.

Then he found out. Sam jettisoned his one engine which crashed into the Challenger. It exploded. The Brink had won.

The Klingons contacted the Excelsior. They were laughing all about the place. Then the Klingon commander said, "I have ordered the crew of the evil Knutson arrested. You make good sport, human!"

Captain Styles replied, "Does this mean we are at peace?"

"Yes," Captain Kaala said, "you bring honor to your people."

Cheers filled the shuttle bay as Captain Willis returned to the Excelsior. Captain Styles had a new mission for him – command the mirror Knutson on its way to Earth.

It looked like the Knutson, but it wasn't the Knutson. Willis was reminded of his lost crew. There was something he had to do, go home.

Captain Willis looked at Rich Schroeder at the helm, "Set a course for the Neutral Zone and contact Captain Styles, please."

The captain appeared on the screen, "Yeah, Sam?"

"Thank you," he simply said.

"For what?" he replied.

"For your show of strength," Sam told him.

"Oh, I've already been thanked," the captain smiled. "Once we get back to Earth, I'm going to be an admiral."

Captain Sam Willis had a look of jealousy no one on board would believe. He started to think he could keep this ISS Knutson.

Hours later, the Klingon commander, Kaala, appeared on the screen. The Baker Class Knutson was about to begin its trek home.

Kaala asked the captain, "Do you need an escort back to your Federation?"

"No, thank you," he calmly said.

"Really?" the commander smiled. "It is possible many of our commanders will think the story of the mirror universe was a lie."

There was a pause.

"You might be attacked," he said. "Let us be your escort."

The captain nodded. In minutes, he would be called to the officers' lounge. But, first, he said, "Captain Kaala, why don't you come aboard. I think there is something to discuss."

The captain, Sam Willis, got applause entering the lounge. The fleet was throwing him a party. They did not know he would come with a dozen Klingons. The applause abruptly stopped. They were waiting for him to say something.

The captain said, "We've been through a lot together. I'm not one for speeches. So, I will let you now know, I've invited the Klingon commanders to shore leave."

"What a buzzkill," Rich said for all to hear.

Jen turned to Tom and noted, "Those Klingons are armed."

"Yeah," he said, "and I didn't bring my phaser."

The tension at this party you could cut with a knife, but there was alcohol and a lot of time to drink it.

On the way to the Neutral Zone, the Federation crew learned to not even look at the Klingons hogging the replicator – everyone but the guy they liked most, Sam Willis.

"I think we are really doing something good here," he said waving at a Klingon across the room.

This alerted the warrior. He drew his knife and walked over. Then he stabbed it into the table. The captain said, "Can I help you?"

It was a fight, but that was okay. Sam did need to blow off some steam. He stood up. Jen Parker yelled, "What are you doing!"

They wrestled around for a while as security was being called, but Tomas Bachman, the security chief, was passed out drunk.

Then the Klingon went for a death blow seeing he might lose. It was lights out for the captain.

He woke up at Spacedock.

"The patient is awake, Doctor," a nurse said with a beautiful voice.

Only Jennifer Parker stayed until he woke up, "Hey, how you feeling?"

"I had the most wonderful dream," he smiled.

"Yeah, and a knife wound in your chest," the communications officer continued. "I've got good news for you. That mirror universe Knutson is being refitted to replace your old one. You're going to be a captain again."

"So we're on Earth?" the captain asked.

"Spacedock, yes," she said.

"I know this little place in Iowa," he tried to ask. "Would you like a drink?"

No one spoke.

"I need to get to know my crew and—"

She stopped him, "Drinks are expensive on Earth, and I'm not getting a pay check."

He was confused. She explained, "Yes."

The two of them had plans, but she was way too young for him. He did not know it, but it was close to his birthday. That was a good excuse for a date.

The End