Olga's sister Svetlana arrives in town while an underground broadcast newsgroup investigates the base. And Hooter tries a new experimental element to smooth out the sphere ride so Donovan can handle it – during the test ride the reporters cut the energy and the boost sends Frank and the sphere into an alternate reality that was running a parallel experiment of the same sort.
In the new reality, a literal mirror universe (the writing is backward), Hooter is a suited scientist, Donovan is a sadistic admiral, Ramsey is a ponytailed pot-smoking 60's reject and a buddy of Frank, Talmadge is a scarred doctor and ruthless inquisitor who uses the alien technology for torture, and the reporters are part of the rebellion led by Svetlana (Olga died at age 16).
Frank catches on and starts playing along – he tells Owsley what happened and then takes him hostage to free the prisoner. Ramsey shows up to help – they escape and he gets killed in the attempt. Frank and Owsley join the resistance led by Svetlana, who agrees to help them send Frank back to his own reality while Donovan closes in on Hooter's tracker as they need him for the Backstep sphere codes. Hooter joins the growing rebellion but Donovan arrives and takes him prisoner – he leaves the sphere codes behind for Frank and Svetlana to find. They break in and Svetlana and Donovan fight before Owsley kills Donovan and they overload the systems and launch Frank. Frank arrives back in his own time and place.
Copyright 2003 Steve Crow