Star Trek Vanguard: The Captain's Table: Fractured Mirrors


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Back in the glory days of the Terran Empire, Supply Station Epsilon was an ordered facility capable of supporting dozens of Imperial warships at a time in their various occupational or expansionist duties. That was of course before the Alliance came and the Empire fell to eternal night, now Epsilon Station has become known as a retched hovel of debauchery and corruption; the perfect place for the Terran Rebellion to thrive.

Captain Talloc Hagen stood square footed on the metal-grated deck of the supply station as technicians and supply officers moved around him, loading cargo pallets of supplies onto Raiders for transport to his command, the ISS Vanguard. The Vanguard was in a holding position with this station to take on supplies of food, medicine and most importantly, weapons for the growing Rebellion while negotiators secured the rights to use the station as a base for the Resistance. The fact that the Rebellion’s second purpose built warship was also at the station was strictly a coincidence, or at least that was what Talloc continued to tell the station’s administrator.

The captain could not deny that it felt good to be back on an Imperial Station, even if it was now a shadow of its former glory, its once immaculate polished steel panelling embellished with the sword and sphere insignia of the Empire were now dull and smeared in graffiti and filth. ‘Its only temporary he thought ‘This station will be restored to its former glory when we overthrow the Alliance.’A passing dockworker brought Talloc back to the task before him, looking over to his bodyguard Kirak who was standing nearby tightly clutching his pulse rifle by a stack of shipping crates, far enough away to give the captain his privacy, but close enough to respond if his safety was threatened. Talloc cast his gaze over the expansive docking section; the series of airlocks connecting to a dozen alien vessels of different classes and configurations, each vessel, attended to by their respective crew, loaded supplies or offloading contraband for sale on the stations black-market. Through the large observation windows, the elongated hull of the Vanguard sat in space, even when idle, she had the appearance of an agile predator, her presence near the station seemed to do very little to stop any illegal activity, a fact Talloc put down to the lack of authority the warship actually had.

“Excuse me; are you the commanding officer of that beast off port?” remarked a pudgy, overall clad Tellarite smuggler who approached the lone Betazoid officer. This sudden move caused Kirak to raise his rifle warily, and was countered by a subtle move of Talloc’s hand. The reptilian bodyguard let off a guttural snarl before returning to his original stance. Talloc turned to face the small pig-faced alien and placed a thumb against his rank braid, the four bars and one sword insignia clearly identifiable as an Imperial Captain. “Have you forgotten Imperial rank recognition, swine?”The Tellarite snorted slightly before recoiling as if the captain’s words had physically struck him. “My apologies, Captain, I did not mean to cause offense, I was merely inquiring if that was your vessel out there; it has been some time since we have had the pleasure of a working Imperial Warship, at least one that wasn’t being used as a target drone.” The Tellarite was obviously trying to distract the captain, and doing a bad job of it; however, he held the captain’s attention just long enough to allow a smaller Ferengi the opening to approach the captain brush against him as if trying to get past. It took a millisecond for Talloc to register that his Imperial service dagger was missing to start scanning the room for its pickpocket. Noticing the Ferengi scampering away he quickly turned to Kirak, “Restrain this swine! The Ferengi is mine.”The Betazoid captain immediately jumped to a run after the smaller more agile thief who was ducking and squeezing through the cosmopolitan population of the station.

Talloc was able to maintain pursuit; however, the Ferengi had the advantage of knowing where he was going, all the captain had was the knowledge that the little thief had his service dagger and for that, he was going to die. Other occupants of the station saw the Imperial Officer chasing the Ferengi, demanding that he stop, and seeing that the Ferengi was holding a service dagger tightly in his grip. Talloc refrained from drawing his disruptor simply due to the number of bystanders and that he could not guarantee a clean shot on the nimble thief. These people quickly made it their job to not pay attention to what was going to happen; criminals rarely stuck their neck out for other criminals, particularly when the Empire was involved. The Ferengi led him on a chase away from the docking platform down service corridors and maintenance shafts before he managed to grab hold of the little orange thief by one of his oversized ears. The action stopped him cold, as the Betazoid crushed cartilage under his grip. Talloc then threw him against the nearby bulkhead, slipping his hand around the Ferengi’s small neck to keep him in place.

“What did you expect would be the outcome from stealing my dagger?” he demanded; the creatures response was only a faint gurgle as Talloc started to crush the Ferengi’s windpipe. Ripping his service dagger from the grip of the Ferengi, he inspected his blade before focusing his attention once more on the Ferengi. “Congratulation’s you will be the first alien in over a decade to be killed by a service dagger, you should feel honoured.” The Ferengi’s eye’s widened before attempting to struggle against the strength of the Betazoid captain.

With a sudden movement, the captain imbedded the blade of his service dagger into the stomach of the would be thief, before pushing up with the blade. Withdrawing the weapon he released his grip of the Ferengi, letting it fall to the floor in a heap. Looking at the blood that now stained his dagger, he drew a cloth from the body at his feet and cleaned it, before returning it to its sheath.

As the creature at his feet gasped his last breath while futilely attempting to stem the course of bleeding, Talloc looked around the compartment he was in, in an attempt to orientate himself to the docking ring. In the slow pan he made, one had on each his service dagger and disrupter he noticed a large door that hung recessed into the bulkhead, its wooden surface complete with worn handle contrasted with the monochromatic panelling that comprised of the rest of the station. Above the door in the same printed Imperial English script that denoted every compartment, bulkhead and level on every Imperial vessel, station and facility of the old Empire, bore the words THE CAPTAIN’S TABLE, an oddity in the fact that no other compartment had been named in such an overt manner. His black-pupiled eyes closed to near slits as his gaze shifted from bulkhead to bulkhead as if searching for some sign of an ambush as the station’s cosmopolitan population swirled past him. He stole a moment to notice that the body at his feet had already been carted away, ‘to be picked apart by the scavenging vermin no doubt.’ He mused.

The populace kept their distance from the Imperial officer following the fact that Talloc had just killed the pickpocket; some were old enough to remember the power wielded by Imperial Captain and decided against becoming the focus of that power, others were simply intent on protecting their own skins. The captain shifted his swagger stick from under one arm to the other before he tentatively reached out for the door, which to his surprise was actually comprised of wood and not the synthetic coating he had originally believed. Shrugging slightly, he reached for the worn brass handle, which seemed to conform to his grip. He looked over his shoulder to the mass of people moving around behind him and shrugged before pulling the heavy door open. The door, despite its apparent weight, opened smoothly revealing a long corridor. Taking a breath, Talloc entered the establishment.

He was greeted by a long corridor decorated in a pattern that was completely alien to the normal Spartan décor of an Imperial space station. Panels inlaid with wood were set below green wallpaper making the corridor appear more at home with a planetary establishment than a space station. Positioned at random intervals along the wall appeared to be print photographs, antique navigational devices and other oddities one could find adorning the walls of old taverns. Talloc stood for a moment inspecting a barbed cutlass before he noticed the distinct sound of laughter and human conversation; as far as he knew, the only humans that were on the station belonged to his crew and none would have ventured into such an establishment without informing him first; he drew his disrupter in one hand, service dagger in the other, the Betazoid captain slowly made his way deeper into the room.

As the captain stalked down the corridor, disruptor pointed towards the noise, he slowly approached a larger main chamber. There was a staircase off to one side of the main chamber that led to another floor that seemed to wrap its way around the walls, with additional doors leading to what Talloc assumed were additional rooms, presumably with beds or other conveniences. On the ground floor and littered around the upper floor was a veritable sea of tables. Each of these tables was lit by what appeared to be an oil lamp and where cluttered by empty alcohol bottles. The entire right wall was dominated by an ornate and antique looking wooden bar with a tall man standing watch behind it. As far as Talloc could tell, there was not a single empty seat in the establishment and every table was surrounded by patrons, either standing, sitting on chairs, or sitting on each other.

While Talloc’s time in the service of the Empire as an Imperial Marine had relegated him to occupation duty and the crushing of rebellion, he could recognise some of the species that were before him as being at one point a part of the Empire, but an equal number, he simply had no recollection of.“What is this place?” he murmured, his words for the most part being absorbed into the din that emanated from each of the tables.

“I was wondering if we were ever going to get anyone come through that door from your side. Welcome Captain,” the large man behind the counter stated before flinging the cloth he was using to wash glasses over his shoulder. “There is no reason to have your weapon’s drawn, you are among friends.”

The Betazoid captain smirked slightly, it was good to see that at least somebody on this station still recognised the Imperial braid of a captain; he paused for a moment before surveying the room once more, checking for any unseen Alliance threats that may be hiding amongst the throng of patrons. Satisfied, at least partially, the captain returned his disruptor to its holster and his service dagger to its sheath and took a step into the main section of the establishment.

Talloc turned to the man behind the bar, his gaze hardening slightly, “What did you mean by from my side? Is this a Pro-Alliance establishment?” he asked, a hand hovering over his service dagger in the same movement. “What he means, Captain Hagen, is he never expected anyone from the Mirror Universe to ever find this place.” A female voice behind Talloc commented, causing the tall Betazoid to turn sharply to face the source of the comment.

The woman standing in front of him was only slightly shorter than he was, her toned athletic frame accentuated by a fitted black uniform almost identical to his own. Instead of the double breasted style jacket worn by officers of both the Terran Empire and the Resistance, her jacket was single breasted and lacked the rank braid. Like his, it was topped with the same high collared red skivvy, except that hers had four gold pips on its left hand side. The red of her uniform contrasted greatly with her blue skin; however, it was her brown hair that was her most striking feature, with a pair of small blue Andorian antennae sticking out from the mass of brown tresses.

“Tira?” he commented inquisitively, unsure as to if he should draw his service dagger.The Andorian woman tilted her head inquisitively, her antennae moving slightly as if picking up some faint connection with the Imperial officer. “Yes…I’m Captain Tira’Ridala nev-Theyla, commanding officer of the USS Olympia, judging by the sword and sphere motif on your uniform, you have crossed paths with my Imperial counterpart, hence the familiarity,” her response was warm and she did smile slightly, however, her eyes appeared to be hiding something.

Talloc had heard rumours about a mirror Terran Empire calling itself the United Federation of Planets, and its fleet of starships bearing the prefix ‘USS’, it was commonly a part of the rhetoric that the resistance against the Empire sprouted before the Fall. For the most part he had always dismissed it as the feeble attempts to sow discord amongst the order of the Empire that they tried to subvert. More recently, his former Chief Engineer, Ana Williams had informed him that she was actually originally from what she called the ‘Prime Universe’ where the Federation very much existed, knowledge that he didn’t disclose to his superiors. “Yes, that must be the case,” he commented before slowly removing his hand from around his service dagger.

The Andorian Starfleet officer raised an eyebrow before collecting a long fluted glass from a nearby table, “If I recall, it’s actually against Federation law to interact with someone from the Mirror Universe, but from what I’ve seen, Federation law has very little impact upon this place, isn’t that right Cap?” she asked before turning towards the bartender, placing the empty glass she carried on the counter top. The bartender removed an ornate bottle from under the counter.

“It’s easier if you try not to make sense of things, and just accept that the worries of the outside universe, or universes in this case, simply don’t apply here,” Cap, the bartender replied before uncorking the bottle and pouring its luminescent blue contents into the glass. Tira’Ridala collected the glass and leant against the bar, her gaze warily never leaving that of the Mirror Universe Captain. Talloc nodded cautiously before joining the Starfleet officer at the bar; looking at the selection of wines, beers and spirits that adorned the walls behind it. “You seem to have a large collection here,” he commented standing a safe distance from Tira’Ridala. The Andorian stiffened slightly before taking a sip of her beverage. The bartender smiled before approaching the Betazoid, “You will find that we have every beverage you can think of, and then some that you couldn’t. What is your pleasure?”

Talloc held up a hand, “An Imperial Officer does not drink while on duty,”“An Imperial Officer probably also wouldn’t venture into a place that seemed out of place while on duty either. I would not worry about things, as the blue lass pointed out, the rules of the outside universe nay have much say in here.” Remarked a gentleman seated at a nearby table, wearing a traditional nautical uniform that seemed to be from the history of Terra, but seemed slightly off.Talloc shrugged but remained true to his word, “I would suppose, sir, that you are also correct.”The gentleman waved off the Betazoid officer’s formality with a tankard filled hand. “There are no sir’s here, we all be captains in one way or another.”

Talloc nodded curtly before turning back towards the bartender, “In that case, I will take a Talarian Ale.”

Tira’Ridala raised an eyebrow, hearing Talloc’s drink request, “It seems there are more than a few similarities,” she muttered before retaking her seat.

“So I take that that you two know each other?” remarked an alien whose species Talloc didn’t recognise from a nearby table nursing a beverage container larger than its head wearing what could be mistaken for dirty work coveralls.Talloc collected his glass from the bartender and turned to face the question, pausing for a moment to sniff the beverage. He pondered question, however Tira’Ridala answered for him.

“Only on technicality,” Tira’Ridala approached a nearby patron who had a large cloth bag sitting on the table in front of him, she whispered something into the man’s ear before he nodded and withdrew a single gold coin and handed it to her. Returning to Talloc, she held the coin between her thumb and forefinger, “Take this coin, this side is the universe that you, and I come from, everything we know and do exists on this side.” Twisting the coin to show the reverse side, “This side, is the side where Captain Hagen comes from, everything, you, me, we all exist there as well, but as you can see on the coin there are changes on both sides, different events shaped the same existence, while some things may be the same, chances are, they aren’t.”

The alien captain gave the Hybrid a confused look, before someone else spoke up, “It’s like a mirror, same but different.” This definition seemed to make sense with the alien.

Shaking her head, Tira’Ridala turned back to Talloc, “I guess not everyone understands multi-universal theory.”

Talloc nodded absently before taking a drink, it would seem that this Tira knew a great deal about his ‘universe’, which made him question what else she knew.

“So in that case, it would be possible for the reasons why you two know each other are vastly different,” remarked a small rodent looking alien, with a series of spines down its small back.

Looking over to Tira, Talloc picked up the emotions wafting off her like a mist, ‘I sincerely doubt our stories are the same,’ he thought before the Andorian spoke up, “From what I have heard of the Mirror Universe, I find it entirely unlikely that Captain Hagen met my counterpart at Starfleet Academy.”

Images flashed across Talloc’s mind, feelings he had not experienced since the fall of the Terran Empire. Pausing for several seconds, the captain took another drink before realising that the people closest to him seemed to be waiting for an answer. “Our first meeting was a tad more…problematic, than a simple chance encounter.”

The Betazoid noticed Tira raise a finely manicured eyebrow slightly before taking another sip from the fluted glass she held, lowering the glass she appeared to start asking a question when a Rigellian nearby leant forward, “That sounds like the perfect story to share then, chance encounters are far from entertaining tales to share over beverages.”

Talloc looked over to the azure captain, his right eyebrow raised slightly, if this was his Tira, he would have no issue telling this story, but considering this was some facsimile, he was not sure what her temperament was, “I am not much of a storyteller, the Empire did not put much focus on narrative during its waning years, and I am not sure if the good Captain here has the stomach for my sequence of events.”

Tira shook her head, “Your stories do not scare me Captain, I’m a grown zhen, I can take it.”

The captain cocked his head slightly, ‘this Tira uses Andorian gender prefixes, interesting,’ he thought acknowledging that his Tira had long since distanced herself from her mother’s heritage. Downing the last of his drink, Talloc collected his thoughts while looking at a crowd that was familiar but slightly different. “Very well, but I will require another beverage…

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