"Computer, begin Klingon Battle Simulation Echo Papa One." Lorca verbally inputted the command to the holographic battle simulator as he and Lieutenant Tyler raised a type-3 phaser rifle and scanned the narrow corridors that made up the simulation. "Incoming hostiles," he said, calmly as he and Captain Lorca shot down three charging Klingons. But something was wrong. Inspecting the "corpses", Tyler noticed two problems. "These are old-style Klingons. Too much hair, thin-skulled. But... they're real!" Tyler's hand was covered in red blood from the very real body he had been inspecting, instead of an intangible simulacrum. One hundred years earlier, Captain Archer meets up with the Xyrillian Ambassador. "Sorry about the gloves, Ambassador. My doctor insists on them when dealing with new lifeforms." They left unspoken the real reason while the Ambassador showed Archer an advanced data disk. "This disk contains most of our holographic specifications, and should aid you in your... conflict with the Romulan Star Empire. We have developed it in concert with the Klingons, as we Xyrillians are a refugee race, and do not partake in interstellar war." Archer took the disk and plugged it into the console, as the landscape of Xyrillia, its purple mountains and gelatinous oceans, filled the horizon. "This will be very helpful," he smiled, before the smile faded as two brightly dressed men were frantically paddling over through the gel. "Paddle faster, Scotty," said Captain Kirk, giving all that he got as he tried to move through the muck. There were originally three of them, but Lieutenant Galloway had sunken through the gel and was deemed lost forever. Fifteen hours had passed since the three officers entered the Rec Room for some R&R. What was supposed to be Wrigley's Pleasure Planet had shifted into some unrecognizable hellscape before the Computer stopped responding. Attempts to reach the wall failed, as Kirk suspected they may have been transported off-ship. A shuttlecraft flew overhead. "Beam them up, Commander," said Captain Picard to his android companion. "Aye, sir." Mr. Scott and Captain Kirk materialized nearby as Picard smiled in recognition and they responded in confoundment. In a darkened room somewhere, Worf was now sporting a broken lip, as he remained bound to a chair. "Where are we, Klingon?! What trickery is this?" stated Gabriel Lorca to his bound captive. "I am Lieutenant Commander Worf. Starfleet Serial Number WR40-" Tyler slapped him. "He's lying! A Klingon in Starfleet? And look at the grey uniform." "There are ways to make him tell the truth." Lorca cracked his knuckles and brought out a d'k tahg pillaged from another Klingons. He brought the blade up to Worf's left achilles tendon before things went dark. "Come with me if you want to live," joked the man over the bodies of two stunned 23rd century officers as he cut Worf out of his tight bindings. "Lieutenant Commander Worf, I'm Lieutenant Tom Paris of Voyager. It's nice to meet someone from the Alpha Quadrant." Worf looked solemnly at the unconscious Tyler. "You know this guy?" asked Paris. "I prefer not to discuss him. But there's something wrong with the timeline." Sisko and Janeway and Paris and Worf met up with each other outside the large metallic cube that dotted the landscape of what Janeway believed to be the mythical Xyrillia. "Are we in the past or the future? I've been to both," said Captain Sisko. "I don't know, this is all giving me a headache. I'm supposed to be on Holodeck 3 with Paris in one of his Captain Proton adventures." Janeway was urging for some coffee after five days of sustaining on some hopefully non-toxic gel. "We were in a holosuite. It was a casino program, but we found ourselves in a corridor within that cube, initially seperated. What year are you from?" Worf asked plainly. Paris looked over at the Captain then at the different uniforms on Sisko and Worf. "2373." Worf and Sisko looked at each other. "The same." Overhead, a chirp was heard as Data detected lifeforms. "Four detected, Captain. Two more in the building. Three nearby, deceased" "Are they human?" asked Captain Kirk, interrupting Picard. "Four humans, one Klingon, one indeterminate." Kirk readied his phaser. "Beam me and Scotty down." "Belay that order, Mr. Data," said Picard. "I am the one in charge here, Captain, and I have temporal precedence due to my, uptime origin. We have no idea who is down there. We have to make every effort to communicate peacefully and not go 'guns blazing' as you would have us do." "Cap'n, I think there's a Xyrillian land vehicle on an intercept course with the party," Scotty interrupted as he scanned over Data's shoulder. "Are you sure about this Ambassador?", said Captain Archer, holding on tight as the dune buggy made its way over blue sand. "There are no cities here, Captain. That metal cube is out of place." The holo-chamber stopped responding to any commands from either Archer or the Ambassador in the five days they had been there. What started as a sightseeing tour had ended in the second worst five days in Archer's life. "What the hell is that?" Sisko drew his phaser as Worf and the two Voyager crew took defensive positions. The buggy hit a rock and flipped three times over, crashing into the side of the building. Worf held his blade tight and rushed to the crash. "Empty," he said, questioning how this appeared from nowhere. Miles ahead, the shuttlecraft hovered in place. "Who are you?" asked Captain Picard to the Xyrillian currently being held behind a stasis field. "He's Trena'L, the Xyrillian ambassador to the Coalition of Planets," said Captain Jonathan Archer, testily behind a seperate stasis field. Picard and Kirk looked over at Archer, then themselves, then they conversed amongst themselves. Archer interrupted them: "You're not going to believe this guys, but you're in a..." "Holographic malfunction. It's not the first time," interrupted Picard, a thousand-yard stare on his face. Kirk and Scotty nodded. "The question we have," began Picard, stoically standing center of the four, "is are you the real Jonathan Archer or just a program? Is this the real James Kirk? Am I the real Jean-Luc Picard? These aren't philosophical dilemmas anymore, they are life and death." "Me and Mr. Data were on a shuttlecraft simulation on our ship's Holodeck. Captain Kirk and his crew were on a pleasure planet simulation in an old style recreation room. I have a feeling those six people down there came from two or three similar scenarios. The only odd one out is you, Ambassador Trena'L. The Xyrillians are progenitors of holodeck technology and we're all in a simulation of Xyrillia, I believe. So, Ambassador, who is real here?" The Ambassador's wide eyes somehow widened. "No one. By the Great Bird, we're all copies downloaded into a holomatrix." Archer looked at him oddly. "The what?" "The holomatrix. A code for our very existence. There's a disk I gave you before we arrived that had all the code of Xyrillian holographic technology on it, including a holomatrix that would scan our DNA and make accurate copies. That holomatrix must've been in all three of our ships, and the ships for those below." "So, you're saying we're not real, and we're doomed here forever?" Captain Kirk didn't like the idea. "Not unless we can find that disk and shut down the program." The console was sixty minutes away by shuttlecraft, and was now materializing in another cube. Klingons guarded the entrance. "They must've learned of its importance to their existence," said Worf as he and Tyler did recon. Hitting his combadge, Worf reported the situation to Picard. "Good work, Mister Worf," said Picard as he, Scotty, and Gabriel Lorca burst into the southern entrance on the dune buggy. "Phasers on stun," Picard said icily to the notorious Lorca who grunted in response. Klingons fell in droves as they made their way through the cavernous halls. Data and Janeway landed on the roof. "Scanners can't penetrate the environment here, so we'll have to check room by room." Janeway smirked, "I think you're all the scanners we need," complimenting his android eyesight. Archer and Trena'L assisted in overseeing the operation, as Paris flew the shuttle in distracting patterns around the building. Paris blasted a hole in the middle. "We're going in!", he said, as he entered a makeshift shuttlebay. On a purple mountain hundreds of yards away, Sisko watched all the action. Taking Tyler's rifle, he scoped the building, picking off and stunning Klingons before they had a chance to harm his fellow Starfleet officers. Tyler's face splattered with pink as he took out a knife and dispatched another Klingon threat. "Today is a good day to die," he said in Klingonese. "For us all," claimed Worf, not as thrilled at the prospect of nonexistence. A trail of stunned Klingons showed Worf that the buggy had passed through here, and was eventually found abandoned next to a stairwell. "There are Xyrillians here, too," noted Worf as he found a stunned Xyrillian female. "We're all real," said Trena'L over the comlink. "At least, we all were. Even the Klingons." Tyler nodded and did a quick prayer next to a Klingon colleague. Howls would alert the enemy to their location. The top floors, the middle floors, the bottom floors, all checked and the group all rendezvoused at Floor 47. Captain Archer said, "this is the final room. Be ready." They took out their weapons and slowly entered, one-by-one. "No. I can't let you do this," a much older Picard stood by a blank console in a large white room. His younger self stepped forward. "We're not real. We can't live in this desolate place forever. We have to end it, for our own sanity." The older Picard had a dim view of his younger self. "So naive." He held a Varon-T disruptor, but his younger self approached unarmed. "What's the point of living if there's so much conflict? Why not allow us to end this charade once and for all?" Behind the elder Picard stepped Captain Christopher Pike. "What makes an illusion any less real? We've survived this long. Perhaps we can make this world into something beautiful." Pike and young Picard stepped up to each other. "I think he's right. Just because we're not real, doesn't mean we don't exist. We're living, breathing beings, if only simulated, and destroying this disk is dooming us all to oblivion." Kirk agreed with his old Fleet Captain. Janeway took the words of her idol to heart. Trena'L shook his head. "There are other cubes. Other forms of thousands of people who've used this holomatrix over hundreds of years. We can't allow them to suffer for all eternity." He stepped forward with fervor, before falling over from a trip by Tom Paris. "Sorry, Ambassador. You've been outvoted." "How do we protect the disk from the others?" asked Archer. Data thought long, "Perhaps a diversion. We move it to a safe place and pretend to keep the original disk here." "Way ahead of you, old friend," said the elder Picard, revealing no disk in the slot of the blank console. "The disk is far, far away, where no one can ever find it." "What, this disk?" said former Emperor Philippa Georgiou, armed with Tyler's type-3 phaser, and carrying the disk into the room, before crushing it with her bare hands. "Whoops."