Original series Suitable for all readersAction-oriented/low level of violence


This story previously appeared in Issues, 100, 101, 102 and 103 of The Power Star fanzine, and is posted here without the authorization of the authors, with due acknowledgement – C.B.



The Kingmaker


A Multi-Universe Story By

D. Lynn Bivens, Kimberly Murphy and Gerald James Seward




[The Story So Far:  F.B.I.  Special Agent Dale Cooper wakes up from a deep sleep to find himself far away from his own Twin Peaks in a mysterious room he does not recognize, hearing a voice refer to him as "Number 3".  He looks down to find his normal black suit has disappeared and has been replaced with the same casual clothes worn by Number Six in the 1960's TV series The Prisoner.  Cooper realizes the absurdity of his predicament but nevertheless presses forward with an investigation of his circumstances, only to find he is not the only outsider here.  Joining him in a courtyard that they all seemed to be led to are Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea's Admiral Harriman Nelson, private detective Veronica Gaines (from the POWER STAR stories "Twisted Web" and "Twisted Web 2: Resurrection"), Star Wars' Luke Skywalker, Deep Space Nine's Major Kira Nerys and Constable Odo, Space:  1999's Maya, Manimal's Dr. Jonathan Chase, Captain Scarlet, Highlander Duncan MacLeod, Superman, Greatest American Hero Ralph Hinkley, Star Trek's Montgomery Scott, and Angus MacGyver.  Mutual mistrust fills the air of their first meeting--with Kira and Odo openly questioning whether all of them are after the same goal and whether Cooper, with his odd clothing, is really one of "them" or not--but all eventually come to the realization that they are prisoners of a power stronger than any of their individual powers and talents can handle and that they are going to have to work together if they want to get out.  Deciding to return to their bungalows and gather clues and anything else that might be helpful, the fourteen outsiders vow to reconvene on the beach after sunset and put escape plans into action.  But they may be fighting more than just their captors:  Also finding themselves in a strange place are Star Wars' Darth Vader, Dr. Doom, V's Diana, Terminator 2's T-1000, Lost In Space's Robot, Buck Rogers' Twiki, and the Star Trek mirror universe's Commander William Riker.  "There is a game to be played," Vader tells his companions.  "We have all been brought together to challenge the strongest forces of good in each of our universes.  And when we win, we shall return to our worlds--and rule them triumphantly!"  As the heroes discover that their captors have left nothing to chance--even populating the waters off the beach with Rovers, as in The Prisoner--all twenty-one outsiders converge on the beach only to be informed by Number Two that they have been led to this point.  "You were all wrong--this is not a game," Number Two tells them.  "It is instead a quest--a quest that will send you to the farthest corners of the earth.  You are seeking the greatest treasure anyone could ever find, an ancient artifact from a dead planet called Sagar tens of thousands of light-years from here.  A brilliant blazing sword that has been called many names over the years--the kingmaker, the sword of life, Excalibur.  Its real name in almost any language imaginable, however, is the Power Star."  As Number Two declares they will be sent on teams to find the Power Star--with the one who finding it gaining "Absolute Power over the entire universe and its many alternates...for all time"--the heroes and villains start vanishing in groups until only Scarlet and Duncan are left on the beach...with a mysterious man wearing a badge with the number "6" on it looking on from one of the caves before he decides to head back to The Village and get to the bottom of this mystery. Meanwhile, the others begin reappearing in their destinations where they are supposed to start seeking the Power Star.  Nelson and Kira reappear on the deck of the seaQuest, where Darwin the talking dolphin tellst them that everyone on the sub suddenly disappeared and trouble is heading their way--trouble in the form of a small attack craft piloted by the mirror Will Riker.  Chase, Odo, and Maya find themselves in the lobby of an elegant Manhattan office building completely alone--until the T-1000 literally comes of the woodwork and the two robots join him in attacking the trio of metamorphs.  Scotty and MacGyver find themselves in a deserted village in Northern Ireland, where violence is a part of everyday life--but not the violence of Dr. Doom and a laser blaster, who takes potshots at them and forces the two creative engineers to scrounge for parts to make a weapon.  Luke and Cooper find themselves in a South American jungle, sensing Vader's presence nearby but unable to see him, and Luke must now trust the strength of the Force he felt in Cooper and help him use that strength to defeat Vader one last time.  Veronica Gaines ends up alone on the streets of L.A.--alone, that is, until the Visitor queen Diana steps out of the shadows and challenges the tough detective to a shootout.  Superman and Ralph find themselves on the streets of Metropolis, alone, with Ralph surmising that they've been sent there to keep the others from having an unfair advantage by using one of them with their super powers to find the Power Star, and to pass the time, Superman offers to teach Ralph to fly.  That leaves only Scarlet and Duncan standing on the beach, and as Duncan points his katana at the other man's throat, Scarlet asks why they haven't disappeared.  Duncan's eyes gleam as he answers, "All the others are gone.  It is only you and I, Scarlet.  You and I are the last two Immortals standing.  You and I are all that is left in this world.  This is The Gathering."]  

Overlooking the entirety of The Village was an ornate building wherein the enigmatic and mysterious Number Two resided, forever carrying out the insane works of some mysterious higher power. Number Six had never been able to decide if there really was a Number One or if some other conspiracy existed.  But as he entered the halls of Number Two's palace, watching The Great Eyes bobbing and swaying on a gigantic rotating seesaw as they kept an ever-vigil watch over The Village, he could sense something even more amiss than usual.  The wall of video screens was tuned to a selection of chaotic battles between heroes and villains--the 21 people he'd seen on the beach, Number Six decided.  These were not scenes of The Village, not unless there was a jungle in the interior that he'd never encountered, and he found himself at a loss for what was going on.

"Look at them, Number Six."

Number Six looked behind him to find a young--teenaged?--woman entering the room, reddish-blond hair swept back in a power hairstyle that seemed to add to her intimidating demeanor.  Her number badge read "2".  Whoever's in charge can't seem to keep anyone in steady employment, Number Six found himself mentally commenting in spite of himself.

"Look at them," Number Two indicated again, gesturing grandly toward the screens.  "Grand heroes, ruthless villains, all willing to sacrifice themselves in an attempt to gain the mystical Power Star.  How truly heroic."

Number Six felt his heart sink.  He himself had been here so many years he'd lost track, and these were the first newcomers he'd seen since he-couldn't-remember-when.  And they were now merely pawns in whatever game Number Two was playing.  None of them were in control of anything--the heroes were being heroic for something meaningless; the villains' evil was being wasted on the whims of an insane despot or whatever the feminine equivalent of that word was.

He watched the two military commanders, Major Kira and Admiral Nelson, piloting the seaQuest like he'd never seen a submarine move before, trying to outmaneuver the swifter attack craft helmed by the one they called Will Riker.  It was a struggle worthy of the finest war movie, the finest epic adventure story, and he could not shake the feeling it was all for naught.

His eyes riveted onto the images of the three shapeshifters manipulating their molecules for all they were worth, with the gelatinous one they called Odo tangled up with an equally-malleable metallic being as their bodies occasionally tangled into a mess, then uncoiled, then attacked again.  He watched a man changing from animal to man to animal again in less time than it took to take several deep breaths as a small robot threw obstacles into his path and attempted to knock him back.  And he saw a woman change into a creature he'd never seen before, something with huge arms and spines and much power to take on the much larger robot attacking her.  And it was all meaningless, all a waste.

He saw the two engineers--Mr.  Scott and Mr.  MacGyver, he thought he remembered--turning discarded pieces of metal and glass and an odd-shaped pin into an explosvive projectile launcher, managing to hold the armored Dr. Doom at bay, and realized their efforts were futile because in the end Number Two would win anyway.

He saw the warrior they called Skywalker and the one they called Cooper locked in a battle of titanic proportions with the dark-clad Darth Vader--flashing swords of light, projectiles seemingly moving of their own accord, incredibly agile gymnastic-like movements--and felt a sense of sadness that such goodness was wasted fighting such evil when the real evil was in this room with him.

He watched as the beautiful black detective Veronica Gaines stood gun-to-gun with the alien queen Diana on a deserted Los Angeles street, each waiting for the other to twitch, wondering how much carnage this Number Two would permit before finally getting her fill of sadism.

He saw the two superbeings, the one called Superman and the one called Ralph, on a deserted city street--he could swear it looked like a real-life version of Metropolis from the Superman comics--flying around, Ralph occasionally crashing to the ground or into walls, and knew that they were just caged animals put there to entertain Number Two.

And then there were the two men he'd seen left on the beach, the one they called Captain Scarlet and the man who he'd heard called "immortal", Duncan MacLeod, facing each other with Duncan's sword at Scarlet's throat.  Were these two heroes to destroy themselves just to satisfy Number Two's bloodlust?

He turned to the woman behind him.  "Why?" he asked, unable to find any better words.

She shrugged.  "Why not?" she replied.

He looked incensed.  "That is not an answer."

"No, it's a question.  And it's your job to find the answer."

Number Six sighed.  There were certain things that never changed.  Number Two was still an enigma.  And he was still asking unanswerable questions.

But this time, he would find the answers.  


"Duncan...think about it."

Duncan MacLeod's katana had not moved from Scarlet's neck since the others had disappeared.  This was The Gathering, it had to be.  Nothing else could explain being left alone with another Immortal.  So why was Scarlet not preparing to engage him in battle?

Scarlet, on the other hand, had no desire to lose his head--figuratively or literally.  That meant he had to get through somehow to Duncan.  "Why would this be The Gathering?" he asked, trying to keep his voice calm.  "Do you truly believe you and I are the last two Immortals left?"

"It's possible," Duncan responded.

"Even if one of us isn't really an Immortal?"

Duncan frowned.  "What do you mean?"

"You're an Immortal.  Were you born that way?"

"Of course."

"I was not."

Now Duncan looked curious.  "You were not?"

"No."  Scarlet gestured over himself.  "This is a copy of my original body.  The last thing I remember before waking up like this was my car spinning out of control.  That was...well, that was my first death."

"Yes, you said that earlier.  And the...Mysterons?  Is that what you called them?...made this version of you?"

"Yes.  I don't understand how--the only explanation the boffins in Spectrum have for it all is that I must not have been completely dead when they duplicated me, but the Mysterons have the ability to duplicate any object or person as long as the object is inanimate.  So, they had to kill me, and then they made this copy. When my friend killed me a second time to stop me from capturing the World President, that was when I came to my senses."

"You still remember your first deaths?"  Duncan now seemed amused.

"Well, I don't exactly remember them; I've been told what happened.  But yes, I remember most of the circumstances--except for the six hours I was under Mysteron control."

"Youngster."  Duncan put away his katana and seemed to smile for the first time.

Scarlet breathed a sigh of relief.  Then he looked insulted. "I am not a youngster.  I'm 32 years old."

"Child."  Duncan laughed slightly.  "You still measure time in hours, days, years.  Wait until you've been around 4 centuries and your perspective will change dramatically."

Scarlet looked astonished.  "Four centuries?"

"More or less.  After a while the years all blend together. Time has precious little meaning when death is not your enemy."

Scarlet looked somber.  "That is what it's like to be immortal."  It was a statement, not a question.

Duncan nodded.  "That is what it's like.  If you think about it for too long it will drive you insane."

"But if all Immortals are destined to kill each other..."

"...then you have to choose your friends carefully.  That usually means befriending mortals.  And that means watching them grow old and die while you live on.  Even the ones you love."

Scarlet thought of his beloved Rhapsody Angel, once again despairing of their ever being able to have a lasting relationship. "Is it worth it?"

"It depends.  My heart has been broken a number of times.  But that doesn't mean I stop losing it."

Scarlet nodded.  "It's hard to avoid it."

Duncan actually found himself feeling sorry for the younger man.  But the circumstances of their meeting came back to him as he looked around the beach.  "So...if this is not The Gathering, what are we doing here?"

Duncan's words brought Scarlet back to the present.  "Number Two would have you believe that we are here to find the Power Star."

"I take it you don't believe him."

"I don't trust Number Two any farther than I can throw him. There's something more here."

"Then why were we left here?"

"Perhaps Number Two was hoping you would reach the conclusion you did--that this was The Gathering--and that we would fight to the death and take each other out of the way."

"Ingenious.  It almost worked.  Now what?"

"I think we need to have a conversation with Number Two and give him our opinions of his tactics."

"I like the way you think.  Where should we start?"

Scarlet looked around.  "It's unlikely Number Two is actually anywhere in The Village...more than likely he's in something just on the edge, a fortress..."  He began looking around.      Duncan pointed off in the distance.  "There--a light, on that elevation."

Scarlet followed Duncan's gaze.  "A likely candidate.  We'll split up once we reach it and attempt to find a way in."

"You realize, of course, this is most likely a suicide mission."

Now Scarlet smiled.  "Then who better to tackle it than an Indestructible Man and an Immortal?"  


"You're mad."

Number Two lolled in the odd oval chair that seemed to completely engulf her and cast an amused gaze at Number Six, who was still pacing about the room attempting to reason with her.  No wonder the previous Number Twos had taken such great pleasure in tormenting Number Six--he was a worthy if amusing opponent.

"You realize, of course," Number Six continued, "that you are as much a pawn as they are."  He gestured at the wall of screens. "To have these brave men and women battling whatever Evil you've contacted or concocted seems purely self-serving to whatever secret organization controls your actions."

"Do stand still, Number Six," she sighed wearily.  "I am trying to enjoy the show."

Number Six stopped his pacing, then grabbed an unoccupied chair and hurled it at the images.

Instead of an explosion of phosphorus and glass, the chair bounced harmlessly off the TVs, as if they were made of some unbreakable alloy.

For a moment, Number Six was dumbfounded.  Then he recovered his composure and turned a stone-hard glare at the arrogant young woman.

Number Two barely seemed fazed.  "Feel better?"

"This cannot go on," Number Six stated angrily.  "Whoever or whatever these people are, they've no connection to secret government organizations or conspiracies--and do not deserve to suffer as part of whatever sick plan you and your controllers have cooked up."

She gestured toward the screens.  "Do they look like they are suffering?"

Number Two looked back at the screens.

Kira and Admiral Nelson now seemed to be holding their own against Riker, expertly avoiding the smaller sub's strikes.

Odo, Maya, and Chase were more than a match for T-1000 and the two robots.

Scott and MacGyver had actually managed to fashion a crude laser and other weapons to take on Dr. Doom and were winning the battle.

Cooper and Skywalker were an effective team, acting in concert as if they were of one mind, overwhelming even the powerful Darth Vader.

Veronica Gaines seemed to be a much more accurate shot than Diana, and the gunfight on the streets of L.A.  now appeared much more even than it had at first.

Superman and Ralph Hinkley seemed to be hitting it off well--and Ralph was even starting to fly straighter.

And Duncan and Scarlet..."Where are they?" Number Six asked aloud.

Number Two looked at the screen that had been chronicling their adventures.  "Impressive.  I knew they would figure it out."

"Figure what out?"

"That they'd been had--that this was all a game.  I'm quite certain now they're heading this way to try and stop us."

"Us?  But I've nothing to do with this!"

"Oh, really?  Then why are you here?"

Number Six stopped.  Why am I here?  I came up to stop Number Two, to try and save the newcomers...but they seem to be doing that on their own.  This is part of the plan--if the others find me here they'll assume I was in on all of it.  He started to leave.

The sounds of combat outside the compound stopped him.  He turned to Number Two.

"I knew they were the right ones to leave here," she said.  "A pair of ruthless, efficient killers who have no real fear of death...yes, they were the right ones."

Number Two again turned to leave...only to be stopped by a katana pointing right at the center of his chest.

"Don't move!" Duncan ordered.

The room's guards turned to fire on Duncan--only to be dropped by a machine gun burst from behind.

Scarlet appeared from a side entrance, brandishing the automatic weapon he'd taken from another of Number Two's guards earlier.  Both he and Duncan were covered in sweat and blood, their clothes tattered in battle.

"Nice of you to finally join me," Duncan remarked sarcastically.

"Who knew there'd be more guards in the catacombs than in the main halls?" Scarlet retorted.

Number Six looked nervous.  Duncan still had not moved his katana.  "Listen to me," he said.  "I am not a part..."

"Quiet!" Duncan demanded.  "I'm in no mood for any more of your trickery, Number Two."

"I am not Number Two!"

"He's right," Scarlet interrupted.  "It's the wrong voice." He looked down at the man Duncan was addressing.  "Where is Number Two?"

"Right here," Number Two replied, standing up out of her chair.

Scarlet whirled to face her.  "A woman?"

"Yes.  Do you have a problem with that?"

Scarlet recovered his composure.  "No, I don't."  He readied the weapon and aimed it right at her.  "And we've had quite enough of your trickery, whoever you are.  This game is at an end."

"I couldn't agree more."

As she finished speaking, a blinding flash filled the room. When it cleared, Scarlet and Duncan found themselves unarmed...and the other twelve heroes and heroines were standing with Duncan, Scarlet, and Number Six.

Everyone looked completely confused.  "What the devil...," Scotty began.

"Allow me to introduce myself," Number Two interrupted.  "My name is Amanda Rogers.  I am a part of a superior race called the Q Continuum.  I'd been observing each of you in your own realities for a very long time, and trying to convince another Q that there were more superior creatures in other realities than the ones he found so intriguing.  He didn't believe me, so I devised this little exercise to test your heroic tendencies."

"'Test'?"  Odo was furious.  "That's all this was--a test by a Q?"

"I knew you wouldn't understand.  It's very difficult to explain what motivates a Q."

Cooper turned to Odo.  "I take it you've encountered these Qs before?" the Special Agent asked.

"That's what I meant when I said we were in big trouble," Kira replied.  "Qs have no morality.  They don't care who or what they hurt, as long as it keeps them from being bored.  The last Q that came through Deep Space Nine just stood by and watched his friend nearly destroy our station."  She turned to Amanda.  "But you're not the one who was with him--Vosh, I think her name was.  You're different.  I've never met a female Q before."

"Q don't really have genders," Amanda explained.  "They can be anyone or anything they want to be."  She gestured over herself. "This is a kind of tribute to who I was.  I'm part human and part Q.  It's a long story, best told at another time..."

"Where are the others?" Superman demanded.  "Where are the villains we were fighting?  Were they part of your test?"

"Well, they were added by my friend.  He said heroism is more difficult to demonstrate when you're fighting for survival.  I told him he was wrong.  And he was, as it turned out, as demonstrated by Mr.  MacLeod and Captain Scarlet seeing through the whole thing and fighting their way up here.  No doubt they've all been sent back to their respective realms, completely unaware that anything ever happened...except for Darth Vader, of course."

"He's still around?" Superman asked.

"No, he's gone," Luke said confidently.  "But they couldn't influence his mind so that he would forget what happened because of the strength of The Dark Side within him."

"Exactly," Amanda replied.  "I tried to warn my friend, but of course he wouldn't listen.  He's like that.  And I won't be able to make you forget either, Mr.  Skywalker, because of the strength of The Force within you.  The Jedi mind is among the strongest I have ever encountered."

A newfound respect for Luke spread among the others.  Luke blushed slightly.  "What about Cooper?" he asked.

"Ah, yes, Mr.  Cooper, the powerful clarvoyant.  Many an enemy have tried to break through the fortress walls of his mind.  I'm impressed that you were able to get through, Mr.  Skywalker."  She turned to Cooper.  "You'll find yourself a lot stronger for this experience, Mr.  Cooper.  I can't possibly remove every element of experience from your mind.  But I can certainly give it a good shot.  You'll find yourself with snatches of memories you can't quite place, as if you'd had one of your clarvoyant dreams.  And you can thank Mr.  Skywalker for unlocking the reservoir of strength within you."

Cooper looked at Amanda intensely.  "You seem confident in your powers.  Are all Q like you?"

"Some are more arrogant than others."

"Like the one who spoke to us when we were brought here. Where is he?"

"It could have been her," Chase pointed out.  "She did say a Q could be anyone or anything..."     

"We can," Amanda replied, "but Mr.  Cooper's right.  It was not I who spoke to you earlier.  That was my opponent in this little contest.  Q?"

In a flash, another man stood beside her.  Arrogance exuded from every pore of his being and etched itself into his expression.

"Q," Odo growled.

"I knew you were behind all this," Kira hissed.

"Moi?"  Q looked offended.  "Major Kira, you wound me.  This wasn't my idea."

"That's right," Amanda replied.  "It was mine.  All of it."

"Most of it," Q corrected.

"For pity's sake," Scotty interrupted, "why?  What were y'trying t'prove?"

"Nothing," Amanda answered.  "At least, nothing that would make any sense to you.  But Q and his ilk have to be reminded every now and again that they will never completely understand humanity. I was trying to explain the concept of heroism and how important it is to human and humanoid history.  Indeed, heroism is a part of the humanoid condition on other worlds and in galaxies far, far away. It is exhibited by man and woman alike, mortal and immortal...even indestructible men."

Scarlet and Duncan acknowledged the references with knowing glances.

"The Q have trouble that such abstract concepts can be present in flawed beings," Amanda continued.

"Not I," Q interrupted.  "I have seen enough humans to know that heroism, however primitive its form, is indeed exhibited by them.  And I am impressed at their feeble attempts to progress despite their flaws."

"Too bad you've never seen fit to show your appreciation," Odo harrumphed.

"Harsh words from a changling from the race of the so-called 'Founders'," Q chastised.

If Odo could have blushed, he would have.  Instead, he fixed hard, angry eyes on Q, the same kind of angry glare he usually reserved for lawbreakers aboard Deep Space Nine.

"Let me guess," Duncan said, trying to get the discussion back on track.  "If this was just a way to demonstrate heroism to the other Q, then the mythical Power Star..."

"...never really existed," Q admitted.

An angry murmur arose among the others.

"But your quest was a genuine one," Amanda quickly pointed out.  "A quest against evil."

"We risked our lives for that sword," Nelson said with barely controlled anger, "and now you tell us it never existed?"

"You're immoral!" Maya burst.

"They're amoral," Ralph corrected.  "Immoral implies they actually have a moral code.  I've seen nothing to suggest that they do."      Q looked bored.  "All right, all right, if it'll make you happy..."  He snapped his fingers.

Before them appeared a huge glistening, gleaming sword.  Its hilt gleamed with precious gems and fine metals; its blade was sharpened to a razor's edge and polished to the point of almost glowing.  It certainly seemed that whoever took physical possession of it could somehow exert their will over the world for Good or Evil.

"The Power Star," Q said, mocking the grand tones of an announcer.  "An ancient artifact from a dead planet called Sagar tens of thousands of light-years from here.  A brilliant blazing sword that has been called many names over the years--the kingmaker, the sword of life, Excalibur..."

"Send it back," MacGyver interrupted.

"Yeah," Veronica said, making a face.  "Get rid of it.  I don't want anything to do with it."

"Are you sure?" Q offered.  "It really does have all the powers promised--I put them there myself..."

"Get that thing out of here," Cooper ordered firmly.

Q rolled his eyes, then snapped his fingers again.

The Power Star vanished.

"Told you they wouldn't be tempted by it," Amanda taunted.

"Don't rub it in," Q snarled.

"Are you two finished?" Cooper interrupted.

"I've accomplished all I wanted to prove," Amanda answered.

"Good.  Then send us back.  None of us belong here.  And all of us have someone or something to go home to."

Q sighed exasperatedly.  "And I had so wanted to have some tea brought in.  Oh, well."

In the snap of the fingers and the blink of an eye, the fourteen heroes and heroines vanished, leaving only Number Six and the two Qs in Number Two's grand room.

"You're a sore loser," Amanda remarked.

"And you're a sore winner," Q retorted.

"What is the meaning of all this?" Number Six demanded.  "What kind of trick have you and your sick counterparts concocted this time?  How were you able to do all this?"

"We forgot about him," Amanda said, gesturing to Number Six.

"He's certainly tightly wound," Q commented condescendingly.

"Well, he should be.  Number Six has been here so many years I doubt he even remembers his real name.  He's been the bane of Number Twos ever since he was brought here after resigning from being a secret agent man.  They've been trying a wide variety of mind control to break him ever since.  And every one of their efforts have failed.  Now this, Q, is a true example of heroism at work."

"If he's so heroic, why can't he break free of his captors?"

"Because they never claim to have control over anything.  That makes them the most dangerous kind of unseen power there is.  The Q Continuum would like them."

"I have had enough of your coded dialogue and answerless answers," Number Six snapped.  "I want an answer, and I want it now!"

"All right, all right," Q sighed.  "No."

"'No'?  What kind of answer is that?"

"The only one we can give."  With that, Q gestured dramatically.  


Suddenly, Number Six was alone again.  And he was no longer in Number Two's palace.  He was back in the same apartment he'd been dumped into all those many years ago when he'd first arrived.

"No!" he shouted, finally understanding Q's answer.

In the distance, he thought he could hear a taunting female voice saying told you he wouldn't take it well.  


Cooper awoke with a start, as if shaken out of a dream.  He sat up in bed and looked around frantically, his mind filled with images he could not understand and fragments of dialogue that made no sense.  He fought to clear his mind and get his bearings.

This was his room.  His bed.  His house.  His clothes.  It had all been a dream.  Or had it?

What happened?  Cooper struggled to piece together the odd snatches of memory floating through his mind.  It was certainly among the more vivid dreams he'd ever had--why couldn't he remember more of it?

Cooper reached over to his bedside table and picked up his microcassette recorder, then pressed the "RECORD" button.  "Diane," he said into it, "Remind me to ask you to place me under hypnotic regression as soon as possible.  I have just had the oddest dream that I am certain is crucial to remember, and yet I cannot recall enough of it for any of it to make sense..."

Two trenchcoated figures burst into his bedroom, guns drawn, aimed straight at him.  Both the tall brown-haired man and the smaller red-haired woman in his doorway looked astonished to see him.

"I'll tell you more about it later."  Cooper switched off his recorder and raised his hands.  "Don't shoot--I'm not armed."

The man recovered his composure first.  "Special Agent Dale Cooper?" he asked.

"Yes," Cooper answered.

The man nodded to the woman, and they put their guns away and reached for their badges.  "I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder," the man replied.  "This is Agent Dana Scully.  We'd like to ask you a few questions about your recent disappearance..."













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