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"Thomas" Riker was the name given to a double of William T. Riker created in a transporter accident. The name derives from the original Riker's middle name. This Riker was created in William's comparative youth and thus has led a somewhat different life.
Background from the television series
Not exactly "evil", he is nevertheless often employed by scriptwriters as an enemy of sorts, as he represents a less by-the-book, less career-oriented side of William. He is, for instance, far more prepared to engage in a fully committed relationship with Deanna Troi, and lacks much of the seasoned command judgement of his "brother". Indeed, there are significant tensions between William and Thomas Riker, in part owing to the fact that William is the superior officer, but mostly due to the fact they are the literal embodiments of each other's "road not taken".
Thomas' world view is also doubtlessly colored by having lived in isolation on a somewhat barren planet's surface for 8 years following the transporter accident that created him. This period of isolation, which came while Riker and Troi's romance was in its first full flower, likely explains Thomas' tendency to put friends and relationships over Starfleet.
Perhaps the strongest evidence of this tendency was the fact that he eventually joined the Maquis. Like his duplicate he was outraged at the unfairness of the Federation/Cardassian treaty which arbitrarily put some Federation worlds under Cardassian jurisdiction. However, his outrage was not kept in check by William's powerful fealty to Starfleet. After stealing the Defiant, Thomas went deep into Cardassian territory to investigate a rumored shipyard where Cardassia was said to be preparing a massive invasion fleet. He was eventually captured by Captain Sisko and Gul Dukat. Because Riker had led Dukat to a military secret about which Dukat was previously unaware, Sisko successfully argued that Riker should not be killed. Instead, Thomas Riker received a sentence of life imprisonment.
The lone known professional comic story to include Thomas starts from his final televised appearance in Deep Space Nine. In this story, it is revealed that the Cardassians moved him to Cardassia Prime in order to examine his biology in detail. They hoped to find a way to duplicate the process by which he was created. If successful, they could theoretically build a massive clone army in the blink of an eye. However, one of the scientists working with Riker realized the terrible implications of such technology. Thus, she skewed her data to suggest that he was not the result of a transporter accident which could be replicated, but rather that he was the result of a freak accident that snatched him from a parallel universe. Seeing no use in pursuing the investigations further, the Cardassian government returned him to his labor camp on Lazon II.
An interesting twist that comics added to Riker's televised backstory was that Thomas was in fact 9 years old, at least according to the age of his cells. In other words, he wasn't "split" from William Riker, so much as created from whole cloth, based upon his pattern. Thus, she discovered a way to tell the two apart. Had Starfleet figured this out, they would likely have been able to have prevented Thomas from impersonating William, as he did when he stole the Defiant.
Thomas' fate in light of the Dominion War has never really been explored in comics or on television. However, it's worth mentioning that the complete collapse of the Cardassian government, provided that Riker survived the war, probably led to his eventual freedom.
First Appearance: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993) #29
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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993)
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