After stowing their things in the rooms they'd be staying in, the party was led to the den. It had one couch and severable comfortable easychairs. There was a table in the center of the room, around which the hosts quickly rearranged the chairs. Against the opposing wall was a replicator, and beside it a large holovision screen.
"Would anyone like some music?" asked Mirror-Jax. "We haven't got much on program, but what we do have is nice. We also have a number of video programs, and some very good books on tape, which the computer reads wonderfully. It really does a good job with the voices of characters and sound effects, he really is good."
"He?" asked Jax.
"Yes, well, we have a computer programmed our own way. It's better than standard Alliance computers, though it hasn't got much to work with yet. And it has its own personality we gave him. We call him Mage."
"And has Bole told you...?"
"...Actually, come to think of it, perhaps we hadn't yet named her when Bole was here, I guess. We have our own computer personality like that, also named Mage. Except ours is female."
"Really? How incredibly similar our universes seem, in small details. Funny thing we don't have our own AIs. Tho as I say, we have precious little to work with. Shall we be seated?"
The visitors, and mirror-Sam and -Alex sat down around the table. M-Jax stepped toward the replicator. "Anything to drink, anyone?"
"Got any coke?" asked Jax.
"Never heard of it."
Jax tapped his communicator. "Mage?"
"Would you be so kind as to download all my personal music, video, book, and replicator food and drink programs into your counterpart here?"
"That'll take a few minutes."
"Start with cokes for the replicator, and perhaps that new music program I just got, Jewel..."
"...Both are ready now. I'll let you know when the rest is done."
"Thank you kindly, Mage."
"Always a pleasure to be of service."
"My," said Alex, "she sure is on her best behavior today."
"I think she wants to make a good impression," said Jax. "At any rate, do let's have cokes all around. And try that music, would you?"
Sam said, "Make mine diet."
M-Jax said, "Mage, six ...cokes. and make one diet." A tray laden with six glasses of dark bubbly liquid appeared, which M-Jax placed on the table. Then he sat down and said, "And this Jewel he mentioned."
As the humans picked up their glasses, the room was filled with "Who Will Save Your Soul." They listened for a minute, then M-Jax had m-Mage turn the music down a bit so they could talk.
"Very nice," said M-Jax. "I can hardly wait to experiment with the other things you're downloading. Thank you."
"Yes," said Sam, "this is nice, this Jewel. "When'd you get it?"
"Last week on Earth, just before we left. It's from 1996. You should see the video."
"Mage?" said m-Jax. And the holoscreen came to life, the video playing along with the song.
"Beauty too," said Sam.
"Yes," agreed Jax. "One day i'll have to go back to '96 and see if I can't meet her."
"Alright," said m-Jax. "Another time. Now we've more important things to discuss." The song ended, and M-Jax said, "Mage, shut that all off. She's far too easy on both ear and eye, far too distracting." The music and video shut off.
Then our own mage piped in with, "Download complete, fellows. and I threw in schematics for that crazy porter-potty of yours, Jax."
"Thank you, Mage."
M-Jax said, "Boulder, why don't you tell your friends about our first encounter."
"Okay, guys. Last fall, Jax had me exploring mirror-gamma on the Colossus. I got back just before the whole conspiracy thing started, then there was the Conglom and everything. Finally we're here."
"You were only gone a few days, as I recall," said Jax.
"Yes. I did a little scouting around the edges of the Idran system. You had discussed your ideas and guesses with me before I left, and I was looking for clues as to whether you might be right. However, I was only here a few hours before I was discovered by a Karemma ship. They wanted to know who I was and where I was from, but I wouldn't tell them. They attacked, but of course I escaped. However, I received a covert signal from their ship just before I went to transwarp. It turned out to be coordinates, and not unfamiliar ones, either. Surely you've noticed where we are?"
"Not really," said Jax.
"I did," said Sam. "This planet, in our universe, is the one SubFed had the Dome on. I wonder where they are around here, anyway?"
"I've never heard of them," said m-Jax.
"Well," continued Boulder, "it intrigued me anyway. Well, I should have said not unfamiliar now. Back then of course the coordinates were unfamiliar. But the fact that someone on the ship attacking me had sent me a secret transmission, that intrigued me. I headed for this planet, and scanned around. Took me awhile to break through their cloaks and see that anything was here. I contacted them, told them I was given the coords by someone on a Karemma ship. They invited me in. Soon as I saw who they were, I told them the whole truth."
"Soon as he finished laughing, he means," said m-Sam.
"Yes, well. I told them I was from the other universe, and I was friends with their counterparts there. Oh, I told them your whole life stories, more or less- parts of them. And I told them I was scouting around here for you, 'cause you were planning on checking it out yourself soon. They told me about themselves, and I did what I could to upgrade their systems. I also said I'd be back with my friends to help them. Said your plans would mesh fairly nicely with theirs."
"And what are their plans?" asked Jax.
"Perhaps now I may take over the story," said m-Jax...
"Well, we three were born and raised on Earth, and we were all friends for years. When we were about 7, Sam's brother Dysan and some of his friends stole a small Klingon ship and staged an attack against the Alliance. They were soon captured, and they were all killed..."
"Yeah, I know, my brother's dead. Must we dwell on that?" asked Sam.
"Dead?" asked m-Jax. "No. As I was saying, they were all killed except the leader, Dysan. He was sent to work as a slave on Terok Nor."
"What? He's alive?"
"Yes. Your brother is dead in your universe? I'm very sorry." They were silent for a minute. M-Sam and Sam stared at each other.
Boulder felt a little awkward. "That's... one of the things I left out, when I told them about you guys."
"At any rate," continued m-Jax, "when we were 13, we stole a small ship ourselves, and set off for Terok Nor to rescue him. We got all the way there, amazingly, before we were captured. We were put to work ourselves, and were slaves until a few years ago. We got to be friends with some of the other slaves, and with Quark. We eventually found Dysan, and we made plans with him and a few others. We were helped by Quark and one of the Terrans on Sisko's ship. In 2369, Sam, Dysan, Alex, a few others and I stole a raider, loaded with equipment gotten for us by Quark. Sisko's crewman created a distraction for us while we escaped the station. We later found out he'd been killed for that. That bastard Garak did it himself.
"Anyway, there were eight of us on that one raider. It was pretty cramped. We didn't even know where we were going. Then all of a sudden, we were in the wormhole. Came as a total shock to us. No one even knew it was there. But soon we were through. We wandered aimlessly for a time, before being picked up by a Karemma ship. No doubt the same one Boulder encountered his first time here. They held us for a time, but we got to know one of them fairly well. Bengaal, his name was. Said he was a double agent, working to take control of the Dominion from the Founders. He saw in us potential allies, and secretly helped us escape the Karemma ship and set up this base here. He stops by from time to time on his own private ship. Sometimes he brings equipment and supplies, or even more allies to work with us. So we've been doing alright for ourselves. But we still don't have much hope against the Founders. However, when Boulder showed up last year, he brought hope. And now he's brought you."
"I'm sure we'd love to help," said Jax. "But first, tell us more about the Dominion, the Founders, the gamma quadrant at large."
"Well," said m-Jax, "from what Boulder told me about your guesses... you're mostly right."