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"Can you contact the folks on the surface?" Doug asked, "I know Tucker's father – at least I'm about ninety percent sure he's who I think he is. I might be able to persuade him to help."

"The Empress monitors communications," Joss said.

"All of them?"

"Probably," DR said, "But I can check. It'll be less suspicious if I do it."

"He's right," Joss said, "The Empress pays attention to whatever I do. But she doesn't give a damn about DR here. I wish I could get outta hunting. I'm kinda sorry you suggested that, Dad."

"It'll get everyone on the surface," Doug said.

"You gotta understand," DR said, "Joss here doesn't hunt."

"I don't do any of that," Joss confirmed, "It's why I bothered getting good at baseball. Through the years, if I could show I was doing that, no one made me hunt or, ugh, participate in torture."

"They made Tom do that, didn't they?" Doug asked.

DR nodded, "I'm not so sure making is the right word for that. At least, not anymore."

"You mean he's a willing participant?"

"Definitely," Joss said, "He's, well, back in 2166, we all – except for DR, I guess – we felt a strong pull to this side of the pond. I mean, we're half and half, right?"

"Yep," Doug said grimly.

"Tom, I think he felt the strongest pull of all of us. Even more than Empy did, or does. I went in to follow him, and get him back. Empy followed but she was also drawn," Joss said.

"And you?" Doug asked DR.

"I ended up along for the ride," The boy replied, "A sled ride down into another universe, where I don't belong at all."

"We'll get you back – all of you," Doug said, "even if I have to put a phaser on stun and shoot Tommy to get him to come back with us. Get in touch with Tucker, however you can. I gotta go, but I'll get to the galley tonight. If you can get through, tell your mother, Joss. We gotta act quickly," he departed.


"Can you wake me in, I dunno, twenty minutes?" Lili asked.

"You won't get enough sleep that way, Yilben," Susan said to her.

"It's okay. Right now, I need whatever I can get. Thanks."


It was the same large area as before, similarly populated.

Species of all types milled around, mostly unsure of where to go. Purposeful strides would get her somewhere, but Lili was unsure of where to go. Without Malcolm, and Doug was awake, who would she be able to meet?

Calafans were more coherent in their movements, but she couldn't understand what they were saying. They were definitely communicating – she saw gestures – earlobe tugs, hands brushed over mouths, occasionally finger flicks or nose touches, all of that was still going on. And she understood enough of their language to expect to hear some words she knew, like ilben – heart – or fep – small – or cha – faith – or pran – sky – or mar – maps. But nothing. It was more like clicking and popping.

It was static. She recognized static. Way back when, a billion years ago or so, 2153 – she was on the other side of the pond, and working as a sous-chef for the Enterprise. She was also in the process of selling her old restaurant in San Mateo, a fusion place called Voracious. That was long before she and Doug had opened up Reversal. Hell, it was long before she and Doug had made contact, or she even knew he existed or that there was such a thing as a pond and a whole other place on the other side of it, where a funhouse mirror imperfectly reflected so many people into worse versions of themselves.

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