Return to the Looking Glass
"What's in the box,
Commander Lee Crane looked up
from his desk with a harried expression, blinking at the silhouetted shape
leaning against the doorway to his office. "What box?"
"That box." Chip Morton
stepped inside the doorway and pointed a finger at a white box sitting on the
chair in front of his captain's desk.
Lee rose, looking over the
desk, then smacked himself on the forehead in a gesture of exasperation.
"Oh, hell. I forgot to put the cheesecake in the refrigerator."
responded Morton with an arched eyebrow. "What are you doing with a
cheesecake? You've always preferred cookies."
Crane came around the desk to
retrieve the box. "If you must know, it's for someone else." He
hastily opened the box to check the temperature of it's contents and heaved a
sigh of relief when he found it to still be cool. He carried it over to the
small refrigerator that inhabited one corner of his office and after
rearranging the interior, was able to shut the box inside.
Curiosity aroused, Morton
couldn't help but pursue the subject. "Anybody I know?"
"It's for Diane."
Morton wrinkled his forehead
as he searched his memory for a Diane. "The only Diane I know is that
author we met when I went tripping into that alternate universe. Surely it's
not her! What were you doing while I was on leave?"
"Actually, it is
her." Crane settled back into his chair with an audible sigh.
Crane shrugged. "You
know the Admiral..."
Morton sagged into the now
empty visitor chair, dismay written across his features. "He couldn't
leave it alone, could he?"
sighed as he ran a hand through his hair. "Not only did he get Diane back,
he got Storm and Bailey - plus some new ones."
"More of them?" Morton was aghast. "How many more?"
"At least a dozen."
"A dozen?! What the hell
is he going to do with them?"
"I have no idea, Chip,
but when I left a while ago, he was trying to talk Storm out of her new
Morton jumped to his feet and
began to pace. "Oh, no, not another one. Not after what we read on the
last one." A thought seemed to strike him and he paused. "These new
people. They aren't..."
Crane closed his eyes and
hung his head. "All but two are Voyage writers."
"I'm almost afraid to
ask what the two who aren't writers are," muttered Morton, just loud
enough for the captain to hear.
the captain, a wry look in his eyes that sent a chill down the blond's spine.
"One of them is."
"Are you going to tell
me who?" Morton's expression was one of wary apprehension.
"David? Your - ah -
Crane slowly nodded.
Chip tried to hide his
relief; he'd been afraid the actor in question might be his double, Bob
Dowdell. "So who's the other one?"
Crane's expression lightened.
"His name is John D'Aquino. He was on a series called SeaQuest, done
thirty years later. It's my understanding it's considered the successor to the Voyage
"The Admiral tuned in on
another one of those conventions, didn't he?"
"He did. And for them it
was a very good thing."
Morton arched a questioning eyebrow.
"The Admiral told me
they were in the emergency stairwell, trying to evacuate from the hotel. The
main lighting was out where they were and fire alarms were blaring. The
elevators were shut down..." Lee shook his head, recalling the frantic
state the group had still been in when he'd arrived in response to Nelson's
summons. "The writers were shepherding the two actors down from one of the
upper floors. From what they've told me, there was an explosion on a lower
floor - not enough to do major damage to the building that they could see where
they were, but enough that everybody felt or heard it."
"Sounds like it was
getting intense. Is the cheesecake - to calm them down?"
Crane shook his head again.
"Actually, Mr. Hedison asked me if I would mind picking up a few things to
thank them for their concern."
"Like cheesecake for
"And dark chocolate for
Michelle, white chocolate for Storm..." He chuckled wryly. "He also
asked for a bottle of vodka - something called Ketel One. Imported Dutch
vodka, no less." Lee threw out his arms in a gesture of supplication.
"I've never heard of it and neither has the Admiral. I don't know if it
even exists in this universe. I sent Sharkey to the liquor store to see
if he could find it for him. Least I could do." He briefly grasped the
back of his head. "The writers were all trying to take care of him and yet
he's the only one who thought to ask me to take care of them."
Chip shook his head.
"Vodka. He obviously has very different tastes in booze than you do,
"No kidding. It's weird
- I see glimpses of myself in him but it's clear that we're two very different
people. For which, I might add, I am very grateful. I don't know if I could
handle him being just like me."
"You aren't the only one
who'd have trouble handling it," commented Morton, coming back to sit in
the chair again.
Crane laughed out loud as
smile spread across his face. "Tell me about it. You should have seen
Kowalski's face when he saw him. It was a sight to behold."
"I wish I'd been
there," Morton lamented with a grin.
"Trust me, it was all I
could do not to laugh. And not only at Ski."
"Hmmm. Storm, Diane and
that Bailey fellow have all been through this before, so I'd guess they weren't
phased by it. How did the others react?"
"They took it
surprisingly well - even the two actors. I was a bit surprised myself how
quickly they calmed down once they knew where they were."
"Storm and company must
have told the others about their little adventure," noted Morton.
"They say not. They
didn't figure anybody would believe them."
"Are you serious? They
kept it to themselves?" Morton asked in disbelief.
Crane thoughtfully, "I can see why they wouldn't have mentioned it. They
had absolutely no proof of where they'd been and very few people saw you except
for a short while at the convention. Would you have believed someone under
"Well, no," Morton
had to admit.
"So they decided to keep
quiet." Crane shrugged. "The real question now is, can the Admiral
get them back where they belong without endangering them, or exposing our world
to the authorities in theirs. They seem to have a real horror of anybody in
their own government gaining this portal technology - I get the distinct
impression they don't trust the people currently in power."
Morton gave his friend and
captain a sardonic look. "And that differs from our own experiences with our
"Ah." Crane paused
for a moment and reflected. "When you put it that way," he admitted
sheepishly, "I can see what they're afraid of." He shook his head and
added, "I hope that means they aren't stuck here."
Morton almost choked on the idea. "Isn't the portal unstable? I mean,
won't it send them all back on it's own?" he spluttered.
"Not this time, Chip.
The Admiral figured out what was wrong with the way Louis had the equipment
wired. Bailey and Storm both told me this was a pretty smooth ride compared to
the last time - and the Admiral says all indications are that crossovers can be
Morton's voice rose at least an octave. "Is the Admiral out of his
"Chip!" Crane gave
his XO a stern look.
Morton had the grace to blush
at his outburst. He didn't relish the idea of having all of these ... fans...
as permanent 'guests'. He suspected that when Nelson really thought things through
neither would he.
"Really, Chip, I don't
think the Admiral wants to keep them here any more than we do. There'd
be questions in both universes we wouldn't want anybody looking into."
"I don't suppose we
could persuade the Admiral to forget about this damned portal machine and
disassemble it? After he gets everyone back where they belong?" asked the
The two men's eyes met and
they both gave identical sighs. "Not a chance," admitted Crane.
"I guess we'll have to figure out how to keep it from getting out of
Chip wished the Admiral
hadn't figured out how to get Louis' stupid machine working. As much as he
admired his employer, there were times when the man's curiosity overrode his
good sense - and Morton had the feeling this was definitely one of those times.
Maybe he could persuade Storm, who seemed to like him, to help plead his case
with the Admiral. He'd even put up with whatever was on her new laptop if it
would distract Nelson's scientific curiosity from the portal. Chip rubbed at
his temples, feeling a headache coming on. It looked the future was going to be